Sunday, April 04, 2021
Saturday, January 02, 2021
I could simply type "2020" and everyone would have a whole recollection of "firsts" for the past year. So many unexpected experiences. I have seen the word "unprecedented" more in the past twelve months than I have in my whole life. Yes, it is definitely a year that will not quickly pass from memory.
Like all of you, I have undergone a series of "firsts":
1) First time wearing a mask when entering a bank (add church, grocery store, etc. etc.); 2) First time not going to church for two months, because we weren't allowed to be there in person; 3) First time seeing our family and not hugging them; 4) First time attending church at a distance from others; 5) First time attending church and being told not to sing; 6) First time staying at a motel with a complimentary breakfast--and being given a brown bag; 7) First time trying to connect with people without them seeing me smile back; 8) First time visiting friends with a door, window, or at least 6' between us; 9) First time teaching piano lessons remotely (which began with a whole lot of other "firsts"); and, 10) First time I have taken a walk EVERY day for several weeks in a row just so I could be out of the house!
As you're reading this, you can probably relate to most or all of those "firsts" as well.
But, totally unrelated to COVID-19, this has been another year of "firsts" (beginning in October, 2019):
1) First year my dad celebrated his birthday in the presence of his Lord; 2) First year of not having Dad call to ask about the weather, and "are you kids safe up there?"; 3) First year of going to Kansas, but Dad wasn't there to greet us; and, 4) First year of longing for heaven so much it physically hurts.
This list could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture.
Let's move on, though. What are some of the truly positive "firsts"?
Our family has spent more time together than ever before. In certain moments, that may have felt like a negative instead of a positive. I mean, four adults together in a 2-bedroom apartment?! But even on those occasions when we all just needed some s-p-a-c-e, it was a positive. We have learned new ways to talk through our differences and help each other through the craziness of life.
Our oldest son landed his first full-time job. That, my friends, is definitely a positive.
Our family has gone on more outdoor adventures than ever before. Including, but not limited to, getting lost on a hiking trail, along with about 20 strangers. (Which reminds me of a letter I should write to the Cuyahoga County Parks folks. Trail markers are an important tool in life!)
In far deeper ways, I have learned to appreciate the times I do have with friends and family.
I have learned how much strength I draw from being at church with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and from the reception of Holy Communion. From March to May, watching Mass via a computer screen, it created this deep longing inside. The first time "public" Mass was offered at our church, we were there, masks in place!
I have experienced life without my dad's verbal encouragement, yes. But I have learned to live out his words of wisdom by simply remembering his example. What a gift!
PEOPLE. We were created for relationship. I pray that we all learn the importance of that in new ways in the year 2021.
May your new year be filled with more positive "firsts" and less negative!
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Not so fast!
In the Catholic Church, we celebrate a time known as the Octave of Easter. Eight days of singing the Gloria! and letting forth a resounding Alleluia! Today, on the eighth day, we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. How glorious it is to call to mind the great mercy of God, who sent His Son for our salvation. Check off another holy day!
Not so fast!
This is just the beginning! We also celebrate not just one day, but a season of fifty days of Easter! From Easter Sunday, we spend the next 7 weeks delighting in the goodness of His life, which brings us life. After 40 days of fasting, alms giving, and prayer, we take this period of time to express our thanks to God. At the end of these fifty days, we will reach another wonderful time: Pentecost.
Maybe it's a bit too soon to put away the pastel decorations and toss the Easter lily.
Thursday, April 16, 2020
One would think, then, that with the worldwide pandemic situation, I would be a mess. All the usual things should be plaguing me: Who else is going to contract coronavirus? How many more people will die? What if one of my family members shows symptoms? What if life has changed forever? What if this quickly-moving virus has stolen everything we thought we knew?
I can honestly say, though, this has not happened to me. I am naturally concerned. I do worry some when I feel like people are basically "thumbing their noses" to all the advice given by the medical professionals. On a GOOD day, washing our hands, covering our coughs, drinking plenty of fluids, etc., is great advice. These steps help protect us from the common cold, flu, and other viruses. After having gone through two fairly rough battles with two different strains of influenza, I will testify to the necessity of these basic hygiene steps. They are a bulwark again any germ that strives to grow
But these are not "good" days in our world, are they? Millions of people have contracted COVID-19. Over 100,000 people have died. Healthcare workers and hospitals are stretched beyond their limits. Businesses have been shut down. Unemployment has skyrocketed. We have learned a new "normal" as we have adapted to social distancing, staying at home, washing and rewashing our hands, sanitizing surfaces repeatedly, and watching the reports to see how the fight against this pandemic is progressing.
But, I'm not worried. I have had one small panic attack during this entire ordeal, and it wasn't directly related to all of this. It was just a normal life thing.
How is that possible?!
The answer can be found in today's Gospel reading from Luke 24:
"While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'”
The world of Jesus's disciples had been turned upside down. He had been arrested, crucified, and buried. The tomb was now empty. They weren't completely sure what to do or believe. Then, He came to them. Knowing the turmoil in their hearts, His first words: "Peace be with you" spoke to the core of their beings.
The same risen Lord is speaking that to us today as well. He knows the world is crazy. He knows there is disease, anxiety, confusion, and despair. Yet He still speaks those simple words, "Peace be with you." He has overcome the grave. We no longer need to fear death.
"Peace be with you!"
Monday, April 13, 2020
Everything seemed dark for the followers of Jesus. It had all come crashing down so suddenly. The joyful celebration of Palm Sunday had so quickly turned into the frightening, tear-filled night of Holy Thursday. The ruthless death of crucifixion had taken Him from them. Three years of learning, growing, sacrificing...and for what? The future loomed ahead with so many unanswered questions.
Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene came to them with the craziest notion: she had seen the Lord. Alive. He spoke to her. There were angels as well, telling her not to seek the living among the dead. What was this nonsense? Peter and John ran to the tomb. Someone must have stolen the body of Jesus, and was playing some kind of cruel trick.
So many questions. Mary's answer didn't seem plausible. Yet she was so emphatic that she had actually seen Jesus and heard His voice. Could it be? How could it be?
Two other disciples showed up with another impossible story. A man had been walking along the road to Emmaus with them. When they stopped for their evening meal, they invited the man to stay with them. As the time approached for the blessing, they asked their visitor to pray. In His actions, they began to know and truly see. As soon as He left them (disappeared, they said!), they returned to Jerusalem to tell the eleven disciples. Is this really happening? It all seemed too incredible to be true!
And then, in the darkness of their fear, disbelief, and suspicions, He was there. In the very room where they sat, He suddenly appeared. The room was immediately filled with a new light!
Saturday, April 11, 2020
In the end, His was a death common to so many others who were crucified. He was nailed to the crossbeam, both through His hands and feet. The cross was lifted for all to see. He was mocked, even by others suffering the same fate. There was a difference, though. This Man called out for His Father to forgive his tormentors. He offered no words of anger or revilement. There was no response to the accusations of, “He saved others. Let Him come down from the cross and save Himself.” He answered not a word.
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Then, as we settled into a new phase of life, the postings became a bit more of the practical, day-to-day-in-the-life-of-a-home-schooling-mom style. It was an outlet for me. I spent most of my hours being "mom" and "teacher". Sometimes I just needed to be "Joni".
Along the way, I met several other bloggers. I learned so much from their writing styles and techniques. On a deeper level, though, I learned from their journeys. They were experiencing trials and joys unique to their own paths. Their openness and willingness to share their fears, doubts, joys, triumphs, and sorrows, and yet still clinging to God in the midst of it all, encouraged me to do the same. (As a side note, I am now "friends" with most of these fine people on Facebook. I've also had the privilege of meeting some of them face-to-face!)
Over the past several years, our lives have taken on a new perspective. My husband began a discernment period that stretched over 4 1/2 years, and ended in great disappointment and hurt for our family. (Every cloud does have a silver lining. My husband has moved into a previously unexpected job position, for which we are truly grateful.) However, those times of trial have changed all of us.
Both of our sons have grown into adulthood, which has brought about a whole new phase of worries, but also many times of joy! We are incredibly proud of both of them. It is especially interesting to watch the ways they grow in their faith. Of course, they have their own sets of struggles, doubts, and learning curves. But God is always faithful in the midst of it all.
This past year has been a particularly difficult time. I shared some of the details in a post in August. Each member of our family of four has had some tough experiences. It's not as if we've expected God to allow us skip through fields of daisies and fill every day with hearts, rainbows, and unicorns. I do hope that 2020 is a bit less "stretching", though. 😊
The one thing we have been walking through as a family is the loss of my dad. Though we knew the time would come, experiencing it has been difficult. If you've read my post about Dad, I hope you have even an inkling of what a special man he was to all of us. Our grief is not without hope, as my dad was truly a friend of God. But it is still hard, nonetheless.
And so, it is my 53rd birthday. (I admitted my age!!!) I have become a reflective person, though I feel I have always been one in at least some small sense.
Let's see where the next year takes me as a writer/blogger.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Credit:baranq - Fotolia
In April, my dad fell a couple of times. He had just recuperated from Influenza B, and was coughing again, too. Thankfully, after some quick phone calls, he was taken to the ER. He was experiencing several health issues. Within the next two weeks, we almost lost him. Dad was taken to the Kansas Heart hospital, and went through a couple of weeks of tremendous pain and sickness.
While Dad was in the hospital, Mom had eye surgery for wet macular degeneration. I'm so thankful for my three older sisters, and all the ways they cared for my parents during this time!
The following weekend, Dad's condition worsened again.
Our family made a quick, one-day journey to Kansas. The day after we arrived, Dad began a transition into hospice care. Within a short time, he was moved to a nursing care facility closer to their home. I stayed with Mom for two weeks, and helped transport her to see Dad. My husband and sons were only able to stay for one week.
While in Kansas, Keith developed some symptoms that appeared to be a sinus infection. He visited the local ER, and was put on antibiotics. He seemed to be improving. However, on his way back to Ohio, his symptoms returned. After visiting our doctor's office and having more tests, it was determined he was having thyroid issues.
The four of us finally reunited in Ohio on Memorial Day.
June was a month of other issues, which I won't go into here. During July, we had even more situations come at our family.
My dad continues to be in hospice care. My mom travels 40 miles round trip so she can see him every day. My two oldest sisters and their families are going beyond the call of duty to care for both of them.
But the stretching wasn't done!
Keith saw an open position at a parish near us. He has been looking for just such a position for several years. Within a week of applying and his interview, he had the job! He began his new employment this week. This evening, our family attended Mass and a youth event at our new home parish. We have attended the same parish for 13 years now, so yes, this is another bit of stretching.
I'm not sure what God has in store for our fall...but He is faithful, and it will be good!
We are never done growing and stretching!
Saturday, November 03, 2018
Facebook has become so much easier. A few sentences, and everyone is caught up on my life. But it just doesn't have the "got the writing out of me" satisfaction that I have gained from blogging all these years.
This week is one of those that makes life interesting. It stretched my faith and keeps me on my knees.
My husband came down with a cold-type thing last week, which turned into bronchitis. Earlier this week, the germs caught up with me.
On Monday, my car began making horrible noises. The mechanic discovered a few problems with the exhaust system. That meant a trip to a muffler shop. There are more repairs that will need to be made ASAP--don't want to lose the transmission or gas tank in the middle of winter, right? After taking care of all that, I came home and went straight to bed. Those nasty germs.
That evening, we supported our local library by ordering Chipotle. In the middle of that meal, a piece of one of my teeth broke off. Yep.
Wednesday, our oldest son drove the two hours to pick up our younger son from college for fall break weekend. On their way home, they were involved in an accident. Thankfully, they are both fine. Sadly, our car is not. We are now looking to replace it.
I also received results of blood work. I have too much bad cholesterol, too little good cholesterol, and my blood sugar is too high.
The things I hate dealing with the most--car problems, doctor appointments, and dental appointments--all hit in one week.
Just trying to remind myself that no matter what happens, God is still in control. My kids are safe. There are more cars. The tooth can be repaired. I CAN eat a healthier diet and exercise regularly! And the necessary funds for all this will be provided.
God is good!
How has your week gone???