Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Summer Summary (or, "A Summery Summary")

On this last day of August, it occurs to me that summer is winding down, and fall will soon be upon us.  Gasp.  (Have you heard the forecast for winter?  Let's not talk about that.)  It may just be my age, but it seems every summer zooms by a bit more quickly than the last.  (But let's not talk about my age, either.  Thanks.)

Our family's summer was neatly planned back in the late months of winter.  This being my husband's Jubilee Year (yes, he turned 50 in December), he wanted to spend the year celebrating, not bemoaning the progression of the hands of time.  Every vacation day and personal day were arranged for optimal memory-making.  Our family was going to visit the sites of Keith's life--Detroit, Chicago, Springfield (Missouri), and...others.  And then...

On a fateful day at the beginning of June, his job ended.  Suddenly, all our well-laid plans had to be set aside in deference to the sudden lack of income.  It was a blow, but not the final count.

Within days, friends were dropping off food and other necessities.  Surprise cards in the mail containing monetary gifts.  Gift cards to the local grocery store.  If I had the words, I would describe that feeling of amazed gratitude and awe at how good God is, and how incredible it is to be blessed by His people.  I cried so many tears of thanksgiving. 

One of those unexpected gifts was a check that arrived with a note, telling us to take our previously-planned-then-cancelled trip to Kansas to visit my family.  The check covered our expenses, and then some.  Wow.  Our trip had been postponed, but was quickly rescheduled!

God provided some summer employment for me that was "just in time" as well.  

Some of our other plans have had to be set aside, as Keith has begun a new job.   I teach piano, so the school year is my busy time for lessons.  Our oldest son has returned to college for his junior year.  Our younger son is in his senior year of high school.  Keith is back to his formation classes for his final year, in preparation (God willing) to be ordained a deacon in May.  

Not as WE had planned, but certainly not outside God's plans.

If you're reading this, and things are super tough right now, please don't misunderstand this post.  Our family has gone through some financial trials in the past when no money came in the mail, no groceries were dropped at our door, and there seemed no way out.  But God has always provided.  Not in the ways we may have prayed He would, but always in a way that helped us remember His goodness and faithfulness.  We've done without a lot of things the world thinks are "necessities."  That's really okay.  It has taught us to rely on Him and not on "things."  God is good in ways that go beyond the material and stretch us in our see how good a Father He really is to each of us.

The struggle doesn't mean we're not in God's will.  It just means we're struggling, you know?

God bless.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A little self-promo :)

I also write (occasionally) for a website called Catholic365.  If you're interested in more of my articles, or want to peruse their site for articles on every area of the's the link!

My newest article can be found at:  "What's In a Name?"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

LIF - Lyrics I'm Feeling

In the midst of unprecedented persecution of Christians, racial hostilities, terrorist attacks, fires, floods, and the craziest presidential election in U.S. history...I offer you this song.  Because if we ever needed God...the time is now.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Journey Is a Roller Coaster

I miss posting on this blog, but often do not because I have TOO many good ideas!  I can't pick just one, so don't post anything.  I haven't heard any complaints, though.  Ha!

The past couple of weeks have been such an emotional roller coaster.

A very wonderful man from our church and community passed away, leaving behind a legacy of leadership, faith, and love for our town, parish, and city.  Tom was such a gift to all who knew him.  His battle with cancer was heroic, and we are all better for having known him.

A dear friend of mine had a sudden death in her family.  It has rocked their world.  No one ever expects to lose a younger sibling who is so energetic and seemingly healthy.  I didn't know Jody, but I know her older sister, and it breaks my heart to see her work through the loss.

Our community and my husband's work place have seen juveniles go missing.  Some by their own choice; some, due to the cruel decision of others.  As a parent, I groan within, not being able to grasp the anguish their families must be experiencing.

Ahh, but the joy...!

New babies coming into the world.  A new home, and a fresh start, for friends who have walked through indescribable pain--joy in the morning, after their long night of sorrow.  New friends.  Faithful men who will soon be ordained deacons and priests.  Sweet little friends who will soon receive their first communion.  Good friends who have become dearer.

And in the midst of it all, this song rings ever true:

"Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lessons Learned

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you know the purpose is to share my journey--life in general, and, more specifically, my faith.  This post is going to be a bit more on the mixed up side of things.  This is about a literal journey to a literal destination, with the lessons learned along the way.

A few months ago, a great deal on plane tickets showed up in my email. I decided this was my opportunity to visit my sister and her family in Colorado.  Anyone who knows me at all knows trips are a major stressor for me.  And traveling in the winter?  Not me!  But this was a too-good-to-pass-up deal.  I made up my mind that I was going to do this!  Long story short is that I made the trip and had a wonderful time.  However, I learned some lessons that definitely translate to the bigger picture of life!

1.  If you have indigestion the night before your flight leaves to go back home, it may not be indigestion.

2.  If you have to have stomach "flu," have it at your sister's home rather than in an airplane or airport.

3.  Sisters are great nurses.

4.  If you have the opportunity to visit family--do it.  Don't put it off.  The memories far outweigh the stress.

5.  Colorado is just as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer.

6.  Great nieces and nephews are just as much fun as nieces and nephews.

7.  Little-kid giggles never grow old.

8.  Watching your nieces raise their own kids is so cool.

9.  Sister time is waaay underrated.  (As is seeing them with their grandkids.)

10.  The imagination of young children is a wonderful thing.

11.  No matter how old you are, if a 1 yr. old offers you invisible food in a pot, and tells you it is "hot," you will blow on it, just to see the joy on his face.

12.  "Bump and Jumps" are a great invention.

13.  Gelato may have been made in Italy, but it was invented in heaven.

14.  A Colorado mug full of chocolate candy is always a great birthday gift!

15.  Americans are some of the most rude people on the planet.

16.  Americans are some of the most kind, generous, and helpful people on the planet.

17.  America's landscape is amazing.

18.  Free pretzels from an airline may get tiresome after a few hours, but at least it's food!

19.  Auntie Anne's across the hall from your flight's gate is a definite gift from God when you've only had free soda and juice for several hours.

21.  Racing across an airport in record time, only to discover the doors are closed and you have to wait two hours for the next sometimes a blessing.  You have time to eat a pretzel.  :)

22.  People on moving walkways and in terminal hallways should not text/talk on said walkways or in the middle of said hallways, just in case someone is racing across the airport in record time.

23.  A monorail train can hold a lot of people, especially if several flights have gate changes.

24.  A pink hoodie can be a great reward for a weary traveler.  (Especially when it's on sale!)

25.  Just because a sandwich costs $10.00 and has a fancy name, doesn't necessarily mean it is tasty or delicious.

26.  Being away from your husband and sons for a week is tough!

27.  Being greeted at the airport when you've been gone a week is WONDERFUL.

28.  Missing a major snowstorm is a great idea.  I definitely recommend it.

29.  People-watching is either the greatest or most agonizing thing ever.  I haven't reached a conclusion.

20.  I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out of the Silence

During this year's Advent season, I decided to take a break from posting on Blogger, as well as penning new articles for Catholic365.  It wasn't so much that I had no ideas, as it seems I constantly have new ideas running a race around the track of my mind.  No, it was more that I felt this deep need for silence.

The season began with a hectic rush of "go here, run there, do this, fix that" in a crazy pace of non-stop action.  I came down with a painful, energy-robbing sinus infection.  Advent was not starting off well.

The second Sunday of Advent, though, brought me to the silence.  We attended the annual evening of "Lessons and Carols" at our diocesan seminary.  It was deep, beautiful nourishment for my soul.  In the midst of the words of Scripture--promising our Lord's birth--and the lyrics and melodies of the carols and instrumental harmonies...God brought a sweet, holy silence into my heart.  The night began in quiet darkness.  Then, slowly but methodically, the candles in the room were lit.  The prophecy of Isaiah 9, being fulfilled in Matthew 4, came to my mind:

"that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

'The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.' ”  Matthew 4:14-16

I couldn't shake the feeling that these concepts were meant to be the theme of my own Advent meditations:  silence, darkness, and then, the great Light.

Imagine that quiet night on the hillsides outside Bethlehem.  It seemed a night like every other:  shepherds watching sheep, taking turns guarding the flock, and preparing for the next day's task of herding.  The silence suddenly exploding with light and sound, as angels appeared and announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.  

Though a night filled with the noisy sounds of a busy town (overcrowded with pilgrims due to the census), a stable filled with the silence, with only the occasional bleating of a sheep, the lowing of a cow, the crunch of an animal chewing its late-night meal...then the cries of a young mother-to-be in the throes of labor.  The voice of a newborn trying out His new lungs.  A true Light in the quiet of a darkened barn.

As we walk into the new year, may the moments that changed history on that night so long ago, change your history as well.  Let the silence reign, then listen to the voice of the Child, crying out and making the darkness a new place of light.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Falling Into Memories

I think we've all had that aroma-memory moment.  It's similar to the music-memory moment.  (You know the one.  You're in the middle of a store, hear a song on the in-store music, and a flood of images fill your mind.)   Aroma-memories are so amazing, aren't they?  While walking behind an older woman recently, a waft of her perfume caressed my senses.  Suddenly, I saw my grandmother's face so clearly.  It was a sweet moment.

Fall is like aroma-memory overload for me.  There are so many crazy-good memories associated with the fragrance of the fallen leaves, the bonfires, the pumpkin-scented candles...

Today, I got to have one of those memories.  We were in apple harvest overload in our house.  I had purchased a couple of bags of apples at the grocery store a few weeks ago.  Only days later, I decided to take a trip to the local orchard, and brought home a "large" bag of seconds.  (These are great apples, and always a mix of varieties.)  We've eaten a lot of apples, refrigerator overfloweth.  This evening, I took the opportunity to downgrade our stock to "slightly full" by making some applesauce.

I've made applesauce a couple of different ways in the past.  But today was the "best" way, as I relived memories.

For about four years, we lived in an area of the country fondly known as the U.P.  For those of you who are wondering, "WHAT?!"  Those letters stand for "Upper Peninsula," and it is the northernmost part of Michigan.  It is a land of forests, waterfalls, beaches, shores along the Great Lakes, and snow by the ton.  It is beautiful and wonderful and breathtaking.

During our time there, a sweet friend would occasionally gift us with a tub of her homemade applesauce.  My husband absolutely LOVES applesauce.  (Most of us eat a small serving.  He eats it by the bowl.  I am not kidding.)  Well, Myrna's applesauce was the most amazing concoction he had ever tasted.  A whipped topping container-full would disappear within two meals (or less).

After we moved back to troll land (another U.P. reference), we had a very prolific apple tree in our backyard.  I couldn't stand seeing all those apples go to waste, or worse yet, be destroyed by wasps and bees.  I made a quick call to Myrna.  "How do I make your famous applesauce?"

She replied with her usual humble chuckle, and quietly explained the process.  The thing about great cooks, though, is that they have learned by the "doing."  Trying to describe it over the phone was like describing a great work of art to someone who cannot see...words fail.  She did her best to help this culinarily-challenged young mom understand the process.  But there was one major piece of kitchen equipment missing:  the apple grinder.

I asked if I could possibly use another utensil?   Again, she laughed and said, "Well, I've never done it any other way!"  I figured I could try, though.

Well, being a mom of two young, energetic boys, my applesauce project was delayed a few days.  During that time, I received a curious-looking package in the mail.  From?  Of course, Myrna.  She added a note saying she had an "extra" apple grinder, and thought maybe I could use it.

I have never treasured anything more.  What a kind, thoughtful gesture!

So this afternoon, as I turned my surplus into savory applesauce, the warm, homey scent of the fruit filled my kitchen.  I reminisced about the lovely woman who made this moment possible.  I ground those apples into a smooth, creamy blend of flavors.

My applesauce will never be as tasty as Myrna's, but the memories are still as sweet.

Happy fall!


Monday, November 02, 2015

Standing In The Need Of Prayer

I haven't heard this song in many, many years, but the words came to my mind today.

If you've never heard it, check out the link below (they modernized the words a bit, but it's still pretty much the same).

The basic idea is this:  Here I am, Lord, needing prayer.  Just little ol' me.  It's not someone else.  It's me!  I can't speak for all the others, Lord, but I know I need prayer!

The beautiful thing about this song is that it's descriptive of every single one of us.  We are standing in the need of prayer.  Whether our day is full of joy or sorrow, we are still in need of prayer.

I often forget that simple concept.  It's so much easier for me to pray for others than for myself.  People share their prayer needs with me on a regular basis.  I am not one of those, "I'll-pray-for-you-but-not-until-I-see-you-again-and-remember-I'm-supposed-to-pray-for-you" kind of individuals.  I take the entrustment of others' prayer requests very seriously.

Don't sit there reading this and think, "What a sweet, kind lady!  How wonderful of you to do this for others."  Because it's not a fair assessment.

Yes, praying for others is a great thing to do.  I'm not sorry I do that.

But that's the problem.

I often don't pray for or about myself.  For long periods of time.  (Usually several days in a row.)  So, you might be thinking, "Well, that's good, right?  It's very unselfish to pray for others and not yourself."

Maybe.  But probably not.

It's called pride.

You see, if I'm always lifting the needs of others, and never my own, then I have less time to allow the Holy Spirit to "search me...and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"  (Psalm 139:23-24)  If there is no searching and trying and knowing, then there is no finding of wickedness and walking in a new way.

So that creates another problem.  Because God already knows of my wickedness.  He has already peered into the deep recesses of who I am and what I have done.  It's really ME who hasn't searched, known, and seen.  It's ME who hasn't been listening.  It's ME who is avoiding repentance.

Pride and denial are a lethal combination.

Though the words may seem simple and catchy, there is so much truth to the song.  "It's me, it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.  Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer."

I will still pray for you.  But I also need to pray for me.