Monday, August 31, 2009

Pondering Pages/Three Cups of Tea

A weekly MEME sponsored by Lara at Holy Mothering...



You want to know Me? You want to see My face?
I do not age with time; I do not fit into a space
I transcend the capacity of your eye, so who am I?
It is the question of the moment;
It is the question for all time
I am you, and you are mine

I am the beginning and the end
I am the faith in your believing
I am the color of truth
I am the dreamer of your dreams
I am the falling in your love
I am the words of a prayer
I am the silence in the music
I am the music in the silence

I am your father; I am your mother
I am the man who cannot cry
I am the story in your eyes
I am the orphan of war
I am the leper begging on the corner
I am the black slave in chains
I am the Muslim bride who cannot show her face
I'm the cross you carry again

I'm all you have forgotten
I am all that you have not been
I am in you - all of this in within you
Let the journey begin, Amen
I am in you, Amen

God Is by Danielle Rose


Recently,my friend Melissa came into work with a big smile, eager to share a story of a special experience she had with me. Melissa and her husband Adam are expecting their first baby this December. She had visited a local baby furniture and clothing consignment store and met a very amazing man there. She couldn't wait to tell me about it, knowing that her story would make me happy.

Melissa was the only customer in the store on a late afternoon. The shopkeeper apologized to her and said that he had to turn his attention away from her for a few minutes because it was time for him to pray. He explained that he was Muslim and his religion requires him to stop all activities several times a day to offer prayers to Allah. He placed a rug on the floor and knelt upon it facing East, towards Mecca. Melissa continued to shop during this time, and when the shopkeeper was through offering worship to God, he turned to her and shared a little bit about his faith with her. He showed her his calendar and explained that they were in the holy season of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast and offer additional prayers to Allah. He told her that he prayed for her and thanked her for her patience. Melissa said that was the most beautiful experience she ever had while shopping in a store, and thanked the owner for his prayers and for sharing a bit about his faith with her.

I, in turn, thanked Melissa for sharing this touching story with me. I am often impressed by the deep faith of the Muslim community and at how willing they are to publicly witness to their beliefs. I have been told that the word "Islam" means "submit" and to me, this man's example of submission to God through the tenets of his faith requirements is beautiful. I don't know if I would have the courage to have done the same.

While Melissa was sharing this story with me, I was reminded of a book I read last year that helped me to understand the Islamic faith a little better. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, was an amazing story of one man's goal to improve the education of the people in Pakistan. Greg Mortenson was a mountain climber trying to climb K-2, the world's tallest mountain. He was injured during his attempt, and was taken in by a Pakistani family. While there, he was immersed in the culture of that family and their country and wanted to show his gratitude for their kindness by helping to build a school for the children.

This was a wonderful book about an amazing man, who worked tirelessly to accomplish an even more fantastic goal than climbing a mountain. It was a great spiritual lift for me to read and reflect upon. It helped to open my eyes to the fact that publicly witnessing to our faith and living our lives in a way that pleases God is universal. We are all God's children, and He lives in all of us, whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim. If we truly believe in and accept our faith, if we have a deep love for our God and our own particular way of knowing Him in our own faith traditions, we won't be able to stop witnessing to it with our whole lives, which includes accepting and loving those whose beliefs are different from our own.

"I know who you are: you are the Holy One of God!" Mark 1:24

Plastic Jesus?

I'm often amazed at the workings of the Lord in my life. I wonder why it is that he chooses to bring certain people to us at the exact moment in our lives when we need them the most, and we had no clue that we needed them. My friend Heidi and I go way back to 7th grade. I hadn't seen or heard from her since high school. She found me on facebook a few months ago, and she has changed my life. I am inspired by her deep faith and gentle kindness. She inspired me to begin blogging. She inspires me to pray more, to take scripture into my heart. She inspires me with this post, especially the video. I see myself in it. Do you?
Living in His Amazing Grace

All I Have to Offer

I try to take advantage of my lunch break, to sneak in some much needed exercise, not only to improve the health of my body, but also to improve the health of my spirits and allow me to continue to give the best of my service to the WIC clients whom I will see in the afternoon. So, it’s not unusual to find me walking in the local neighborhood over the noon hour.


While walking downtown in the beautiful, warm sunshine, this first really nice day after so many dreary days, my eyes were fixed on the beautiful sky. I hardly noticed the people around me, until a particular woman stood out from the crowd of college students and business people.

Although it was a warm day in which nearly everyone was casting his or her coats aside and soaking up the sunshine, she stood alone in the shade. Her body was concealed beneath a torn winter coat and a dirty hat. There were several plastic bags piled around her feet, which I imagined contained her few possessions.

Everyone hurried past as if she were invisible. I usually don’t carry any money with me on my lunchtime walks and for the first time, I was sorry about that. She held a sign asking for help.

My heart went out to her. I wanted to help, but how? So, I gave her the only thing I had with me-my smile. I looked her right in the eye and prayed that somehow, as I held her in my gaze, she would be lifted up and comforted.

Lord, let me always remember to give my all, even if all I have to offer is a smile. Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bring Back the Joy

Breezes whispered through the weeds which grew taller than my head, hiding me in the space between their height and the waves lapping the rocks on the shore of the lake. Whispering weeds and lapping waves were the only sound I heard for a glorious ten minutes, until my children's voices rose above the sounds of nature as they compared the distance that their rocks skipped along the water. And with that, I was brought back from my peaceful reverie to the reality of constant noise and worry that is my life.

It didn't take long for the jolt from that noise to bring about the ever present irritation that seems to underlie my emotions these days. I am wanting a long quiet break from my life. I need an escape, if only for a full 24 hours, to forget who I am and who I always wanted to be.

In my senior year of high school, just as I was preparing to leave home for college in the big city, I panicked about the life choice I had made and did some serious backpedaling. I wondered what had ever made me choose to go to college when all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. I confessed my fears to my sisters, who quickly set me straight. They reminded me that the guy I was dating at the time was not decent husband material (they were very right), and until I met the man of my dreams, I would need to support myself somehow. They also reminded me that they would be with me in my new hometown and would always watch out for me (which they still do). They convinced me that I would be fine and they were right.

Now, I look back on that conversation recalling my words in which I professed the vocation to which I felt called- "wife and mother". God did lead me to the man of my dreams, a wholesome and decent man and He blessed us with five wonderful children. For the past 18 years, I have been living my dream. But every now and then, it doesn't feel quite so dreamy. Every now and then, I am overcome with exhaustion and a burn out bordering on despair. I feel trapped and alone in my life. Guilt piles upon my shoulders when I read books and blogs from other mothers who profess great joy in their vocations. Why is it that I'm not feeling that joy?

As I'm lost in worry about my lack of joy, my oldest son walks in the door, home from his behind-the-wheel driving lesson. He tells me that the instructor was texting the entire time that he was driving. This comes on the heels of a gory you-tube video circulating on the internet about the dangers of texting and driving. I do my best to restrain myself from immediately calling the driving school and giving them a piece of my mind. I decide to call a friend and vent instead, but she's not home. Before I can make any other decisions, my other two teenage sons start yelling upstairs. The eternal referee (that's me) goes upstairs to check out the fracas. It seems there is some disagreement about a Facebook girlfriend. There are times I wish I was blind, and this was one of them, because when I looked at her picture on the computer screen, I saw a Pamela Sue Anderson wanna-be, you know, string bikini with gigantic fake breasts falling out of the top, and her comment to my son was "You're so hot!"

"This is your girlfriend?" I hear myself scream. I know it is not her real picture, for Pete's sake, she is only 13 years old, but I kick my son out of the chair and rail off a comment to her quick as can be. "Listen Girly, it's pictures like these that get girls in trouble! Does your mother know you have this picture on your page? If you want to know my son, you come on over for dinner, or better yet, come to Mass with us!" I quickly hit the send button before the boys could stop me. I've seen far too many pregnant 13 and 14 year old girls at work and I am not at all ready to enter the stage of grandmother just yet.

Then the decompression sets in. The voice of my conscience (or was it really the voice of evil) starts to whisper in my ear, "Serves you right! Remember the old slogan 'What goes around comes around,' you weren't exactly the poster girl for pristine teenagers yourself! You gave your parents plenty of heartache. You've been getting off far too easily with your happy, holy children. It's time you start to get a taste of real worry and pain."

So that's where my joy went. It was swallowed up by worry. Now I need something to swallow that worry. The only antidote is God. But, my household is so loud, so cramped and so often overwhelming that it can be hard to find God here. I had a little taste of Him this morning on the beach, but I need so much more than that!

Oh Lord, take me away, if only for a little while, to a quiet place alone with You. Let me pour out all of my worries at Your feet and leave them there. Refill me with Your peace and joy, there is no one on this earth that can give me that peace and joy for which I long but You. Help me find a quiet place for more than ten minutes that doesn't involve waking up in the middle of the night. Let me be Yours, all Yours with no distractions until I am able to carry on my duties of wife and mother with a joyful heart once again. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Love of a Mother

Mary came running to the van in tears at the end of her second day of life as a third grade student. She climbed into my lap, barely fitting behind the steering wheel, and buried her tear-stained face into my neck. Gently rubbing her back, I asked her to tell me what was bothering her. "Oh Mom, Colin told me that the reason my locker is on the bottom row is because I'm so small!" Once again, sobbing overcame her. "But Mary," I said, "You are one of the tallest girls in class. You know that what he said isn't true. That's such a little thing to be so upset about." She looked at me earnestly and replied "Mom, it hurts." The tears continued. All I could do was to hold her close to my heart until my sons came out of school and it was time to leave. A promise of some special time baking cookies together helped to ease her pain for the moment and she crawled into the back seat, buckled her seat belt, and we drove home.

This is how I imagine our pains look to Jesus. He knew the ultimate suffering, yet he gladly welcomes us into His arms with all of our 'little things'. He lets us cry and sob as He holds us close to His heart. He promises us the joy of heaven if we can only bear with the pain in our hearts a little while longer on the journey to our eternal home.

My dearest Jesus,
when You suffered little pains of daily life, did You run to Your mother and cry on her neck? Did she hold You and rub Your back and comfort You with the gift of her time? Did the tender love she showed You each day help to carry You through during Your greatest suffering in the crucifixion? Remind me that no matter how small and trivial my sorrows may be, I can always find comfort in the arms of your Blessed Mother just as You did. Thank you sweet Jesus and dear Mother Mary for always being there for me whenever I need a little reassurance in my daily trials. Amen.

Because It's August!

Happy Feast of the great St. Augustine!

This morning as my children and I were driving to Mass, I told them that today is the feast of St. Augustine. Mary asked "Why is it today?" and Joe smartly answered "Because it's August!" :)

Fr. Dave read a story of the life of St. Augustine during Mass and when he read the following passage, I got a little thrill:

In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).

I had no idea that my favorite biblical quote, the one that I best identify with in my ever present need to share my faith with others, would also describe this great Saint.

So, in honor of St. Augustine, who gave us that great quote "Our hearts are restless oh Lord, until they rest in You," I offer you, dear reader, my Restless Heart prayer...

Restless Heart

Lord, you created me to be restless until I rest in You.
I am so tired, Lord!
I long to rest in the palm of Your hand.
Your hand feels so warm and comforting.
I put my head down and begin to drift off to sleep.
Then, you spread your fingers apart, and I fall out,
away from the warmth and comfort found in You.
I am jolted back to reality!
My restless heart searches for Your hand yet again.
Once more, I begin the arduous journey to the peace and love
that can only come from resting in You.
Please hold me tight, Lord, don’t let go.
Amen.

Surrender

Letting go is so hard for me, Lord.
I want to hold on
with all of my might.
I want everything
and everyone
to stay the same.
You constantly challenge me
with change.
Teach me
to surrender
to your will, Lord.
Help me to remember
that it is Your great love
for me
that brings about the need
for change and growth.
Help me to let go of my
desires
so I will be open
to Your work
in my life.
Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whose Glory is it Anyway?

Standing with my long-time friends at a back-to-school night event, I felt my frustration grow once again, which seems to be happening at a frightening frequency these days. The discussion turned from “How was your summer?” to “Are you ready for the parent meeting?” Sweat immediately broke out upon my forehead. “Parent meeting!” I stammered. “What parent meeting? Why don’t I know about it?” My friends looked at me as if I have lost my marbles and patiently reminded me about a letter that was sent home regarding the meeting weeks ago. This type of situation has become a growing trend in my life as I have become a broken record, wondering why it is that I seem to be the only one who doesn’t know what is going on in my children’s academic world. I can almost imagine the looks of pity on my friends faces as I slowly walk away. (Note that I used the word imagine-I’m sure it was all in my head. If they actually were concerned about my ignorance of another parent meeting, they were most likely praying for me, not criticizing me.) I imagine they are wondering what it is that has happened in my life that has the power to pull me away from the life of super-organized, head of the PTA, involved with everything, baker of the ‘the best ever’ homemade bake sale treats, maker of the home-made valentine card for every student in each of my five children’s classes, provider of dozens of jars of jelly for every teacher and helper at Christmas as well as during teacher appreciation week wonder-mom.

They look at this woman who seemed to have it all together, the perfect parent in every way, and wonder what on earth could have turned her into such a ditz who sends out last minute panicked emails and phone calls comparing calendars for events and car-pool schedules just to make sure all of her children are where they are supposed to be at the right time.

If they would only summon the courage to ask me, this is what I would tell them: I have become lost behind the prayer in my heart and the story in my mind. My soul has become an empty, aching hole that can never be satisfied. I am starving for God and that hunger has consumed my entire being. I cannot focus on anything else; my attention span has been reduced to next to nothing for the practical necessities of life.

No longer can I be concerned with schedules, balancing checkbooks or taking the laundry off the line until I see it still hanging, damp again from the overnight dew, as I walk out the door on my way to work. I worry that my husband and children are suffering from the consequences of living with a woman whose head is in the clouds. I'm sure they miss the home-baked cookies, bedtime stories and lengthy conversations that were daily occurrences in our household. Now closets are cluttered and floors need sweeping. The queen of clean has become quite slovenly. Whenever they are in need of a wife or mother, they know where to find me. There I am, at the upstairs desk, pounding out my prayers and love for God on the keyboard, or curled up on the front porch rocker with a spiritual book, or gone yet again to daily Mass or Eucharistic Adoration.

On the plus side of this equation, I console myself with the fact that they are learning independence. They are learning to do the laundry, clean up after themselves and bake their own cookies. They read stories to one another and have become fabulous playmates. They know that when they really need me, I will step away from the keyboard or the prayer corner, and be there for them with the most loving attention a distracted mother can give them.

Not too long ago, my beloved Archbishop Dolan blessed me with the sign of the cross as I begged his prayers for a vocation as a Catholic writer. I think about the slogan, "be careful what you wish for" and I wonder was that the right thing to do? Are reading and writing more important than caring for my family? Are my written prayers more important than the prayers offered by the work of my body as I clean my house and cook meals for my husband and children? Self doubt flares up so easily, that I often overlook the fact that all of those super-mom years were more of an ego-trip about my perfect mothering skills rather than a gift of gratitude to God for putting those mothering skills within me in the first place. Now that I’ve gotten off the hamster wheel of over-achiever and have been finding some peace and joy in the heart of God, I realize that God always must come first in my heart and my schedule, and my family will survive. If God wills it, they will come along with me in my journey of peace even if it includes an occasional last minute panic from lack of preparation.

My dearest heavenly Jesus,

I worry about whether or not I am glorifying you with my written words and spiritual reading, or am I only glorifying myself. Let me know your will Lord. My heart is all yours. I seek to please you and serve you with all that I am. You have blessed me with a beautiful family, with children who need me as much today in their various stages of adolescence as they did when they were babies. Teach me blessed balance. Help me to care for my family with a sound mind, giving them my full attention and love when needed, knowing that my vocation as wife and mother comes first and the fulfillment of that vocation is a prayer that pleases You. Then, allow me to serve you more deeply by writing, reading and spending time in silent prayer when the needs of my family have been met.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Silence the Song








I heard the bird sing
so sweetly
outside my window.

His merry tune
woke me
each morning.

Now
the silence
hangs heavy,
suffocating
my own song.

On the lawn
a mass of feathers
tells the gruesome tale,
and one satisfied cat
hides in the bushes,
licking his whiskers.

Pondering Pages/Brother Roger-Taize'









Joining with Lara at Holy Mothering in a weekly book review.

I have been expanding my horizons a bit and learning about Taize' in the past few weeks. I had attended a Taize' prayer service at my parish last spring and loved it! The church was dark except for multiple candles, there were icons everywhere and the service itself was a combination of chants, scripture readings and lovely silence. I can't wait to go to another Taize' service! In the meantime, I have been conversing with my friend from La Vie Graphite who is knowledgeable in Taize' and have been reading a few books written by Brother Roger Schutz who began the movement of Christian unity in the 1940's. Taize' is a village in France in which this prayer form originated. In my quest for knowledge, I have read two short and easy to read books by Brother Roger during this past week.










Seeking the Heart of God was co-written by Brother Roger and Mother Teresa. It is a beautiful little book of side by side reflections on the same topics. Some beautiful quotes from this book:

"Self-knowledge puts us on our knees." Mother Teresa

"Christ offers himself in the Eucharist, adorable presence, it is there for you who are destitute. It is received in a spirit of poverty and repentance of heart, with the soul of a child, until the very evening of your years...In remaining before the Eucharist for long periods of time, many people have let themselves be penetrated down to the very depths of their being. For all who consent to a long process of maturation, little by little their inner self is built up, without their knowing how. And by prayer that is always simple, they are somehow drawn toward Christ." Brother Roger

And from Unity: Man's Tomorrow by Brother Roger...

"Always we must learn to see the Christian we meet with the eyes of Christ, to reflect on the best God has given to the other man-for is that not Christ himself? This gaze prepares us to respect and to love the catholic brother and at the same time to discover in him the unsuspected riches that God himself has given."

"We have to look at ourselves in the light of Christ. Rather than allowing ourselves to stop because there is something bad in us, inabilities, darkness, shadows-there always will be such things-we must know how to put down all this burden by making use of confession, and having received absolution, we live by it immediately."

Finally, I was struck by the fact that this little gem of a book had not been taken off of the library shelf and checked out to a reader in many, many years. So I had to write a little reflection about that:

Words of the Brother

Curious seeker opens the book
that had remained on the shelves for over forty years-
February 7, 1964-
last date stamped inside the back cover.

Within the pages, treasures of wisdom step out to new life.
Tired, worn eyes begin to glimmer with light,
heart begins to burn a little stronger.

Forgotten words beckon to the child inside,
the child who is eager for
knowledge of yesterdays
that can lead to a peace-filled tomorrow.

(For more check out The Dreamer's Day to read about Squelly's recent experience in Taize'.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Looking Under the Book Cover
















I frequently struggle to be accepting towards those who choose to alter their appearance through multiple face piercings and excessive tattoos. It just makes me uncomfortable to look at them and want to write them off as rebels. But recently I met someone at work who challenged my preconceived judgmental attitudes.

At first, all I saw a was a gorgeous six-month-old baby girl with the sweetest dimples and the biggest grin imaginable. She was dishing out giggles to everyone in the waiting room. Then, when her dad who was holding her, stood up, I saw past the baby to the arms, covered with tattoos from top to bottom and the lip with an earring in it and the ears with those big gauge earrings that stretch a hole into the earlobe. I worried a bit that it would be a difficult session for me as I thought I would struggle to look him in the face as we spoke. I considered myself fortunate that his baby was so beautiful, and I planned to just focus on her. But to do that would have been a grave injustice to this man who turned out to be every bit as beautiful as that sweet little girl he was holding.

Brad was talkative and friendly, eager to tell me about the baby foods that he and his wife had been beginning to offer to Sienna. As Sienna kicked and wiggled in his arms, I could see past her to Brad’s tee shirt, which said “Real Men Change Poopy Diapers!” When I turned to the computer to check on her growth, I noticed for the first time that her last name was simply a series of consonant letters that didn’t resemble any name I had ever seen before. When I questioned Brad about that,thinking we had made a typing error, he shared Sienna’s story with me, and even in this retelling of it, goose bumps break out on my arms.

Sienna was a “safe haven” baby and the initials were used in place of a last name to protect her privacy. It seems that she was found outside last winter with a low body temperature and was covered in feces. She tested positive for opiates. At the time she was found, she was only three days old. Some kind soul had found her and dropped her off at a nearby hospital for care and she entered the foster care system that day.

Brad and his wife, Isabella, had longed for a baby. After suffering several miscarriages, they decided that adoption would be the course they would take to begin their family. Then last winter, they received a call from the adoption agency telling them that a baby was waiting for them at the hospital. They immediately fell in love with Sienna the minute they laid eyes on her. They weren’t allowed to adopt her immediately, but instead, had to take her as a foster child for six months.

During those six months, Sienna not only survived from her horrendous beginnings of life, but she thrived in the loving care of her wonderful foster parents. Today, I rejoiced with Brad at the sight of his beautiful, smart, happy, healthy baby girl. The adoption will be finalized next week and Brad told me that the legal name they have chosen for their daughter after the adoption means “Hope Grace”. What a perfect and fitting name for a perfect girl in the colorful and loving arms of a perfectly proud father!

*fictional names

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Living with Boys







My sons fill my house with loud, boisterous life.
They laugh and shout and fight and make lots of strange noises.
They slap each other on the back for encouragement or in anger.
Dirty looks and course language are often exchanged.
Sometimes, I think the ceiling will cave in when they wrestle and jump upstairs!
I scowl and frown and remind them to behave.
But inside, I’m envious.
I wish I could join them in their energetic youth.

Praise!









Joining with Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart...


Praise God for sunshine and cool summer mornings.

Praise God for the sweet songs of cardinals, robins and sparrows.

Praise God for quiet music that brings peace and calm.

Praise God for friends who guide us in the ways of the Lord.

Praise God for hugs from my family, especially when I am feeling most out of sorts.

Praise God for time in silent adoration, and for the gift of His body in the Eucharist.

Praise God for a good book.

Praise God for providing us with all of our needs.

Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flood of Peace

Loving Jesus,

Wash me away
in a flood of peace.
Take me somewhere new,
somewhere calm and serene.
Let Your flood of peace
fill me
so I become unaware
of everything
except
Your love.

Amen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Heaven and Adoration

"The kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy, in the Holy Spirit." Taize' Chant

(To hear a sampling of Taize' Chant, visit this site- Taize'MP3 and Podcasts.)

In a previous post, I mentioned that my niece Jenny and I recently spent some time together sharing faith stories. Jenny was so excited about a new book she was reading about a woman from Ireland who was experiencing revelations from Jesus about the beauty and wonders of heaven. When she spoke about it, her face just lit up with joy. The title of the book was Climbing the Mountain by Lay Apostle Anne.

The day after my visit with Jenny, my children and I visited the beautiful church and adoration chapel at a nearby convent, and here I felt God intervene in my life in a most interesting way. My friend Mary Catherine would call it a "God-incidence." The adoration chapel was open, but nobody was there and the monstrance was not exposed. I tracked down the sacristan, whom I had never met before. She gladly opened the tabernacle door for us. Then she handed me a book and said "Read the page I have marked. The entire book is wonderful, but just read this passage. You'll love it."

The book was called He and I by Gabrielle Bossis. The book was about the revelations that Gabrielle had of our Lord. It was the words of the Lord spoken to this French woman. Here is the passage that the sacristan had marked...

"If you could only see My splendor in the tabernacle...My power and My tenderness and the guard of honor formed by My hosts of angels burning with zeal. What reverence, what a sense of nothingness you would feel! You would see the utter unimportance of everything that is not love. You would realize too, that nothing could possibly give you more joy. And you could no longer cease to gaze on Me and Me alone. For I am all attractiveness. I am Charm and the Charmer. I am heaven itself.

Heaven is inside the tabernacle. Adore with all the heavenly hosts. Love with them. Sing. Praise. Never can you overdo it, since all you have is what I have given you and all my merits are yours for the taking.

Do you know about my merits? Only the Father knows them all. And do you realize that if it were necessary I would begin all over again? Find a new way of praising Me every day. Keep on exploring My hidden treasures. You can never come to an end of them. Discover, discover until fires undreamed of are kindled within you, and you will say "It was You, Lord. How blind I was! The best of me is always You!"

And while you are talking to me, I'll continue to heap blessings upon you, for My heart is filled with them and to give eases its burden. It takes a mere nothing from you to make it overflow. If you only knew! My poor little ones, wake up to your power over Me! Get to know Me better. Stammer out your words of love, I'll complete them. You've seen the great sun dancing in tiny mirrors? Who can bear it's dazzling brilliance? But what is a mirror without the sun?"



What beautiful words! They enhanced my time of adoration in a most meaningful way! When our time spent adoring the Lord was through and the sacristan closed the tabernacle door once again, she followed me out of the chapel and told me that she would like to speak to me. Then she told me all about the same book that Jenny had just shared with me the night before! She said exactly the same things that Jenny said, how it was a very joy-filled book about the delights of heaven. She told me that there were levels in purgatory and the Lord showed this woman how effective our prayers are. There was a man at the lowest level of purgatory, who had barely escaped hell. The Lord told Anne to pray for him. She did so and he immediately advanced higher in purgatory. She spoke of the colors and the beauty of heaven, and just like Jenny, said "I can't wait to get there!"

When I asked the sacristan her name, she said "I'm just the sacristan here, a long time Sister of St. Francis, my name isn't important." It almost seemed like some kind of vision, it was so surreal! But what lingers with me is how her face became bright and her voice was filled with excitement as she spoke with me, just like Jenny's. Now I'm not one to easily believe in revelation stories. I am a bit of a skeptic. But this was just too profound of an experience for me. I am going to go out and buy both of these books!

If you're interested in learning more about this book and the Lay Apostle Anne's experience, there is a web site called Directions For Our Times which explains more. If you have read either of these books or visited this website, I would love to hear your opinion and thoughts on this topic!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family Rosary Tradition/Rosary.com

You may have read from other blogs that Rosary.com is back! You can find my Family Rosary Tradition story here.

Please visit Rosary.com for all of your rosary needs!

Praise and Gratitude!

It might be midweek, but why wait until Sunday to give thanks to God? I have so much to be grateful for and I just have to share my joy! So I join with the most awesome Judy at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings...


This summer has been nothing but work, work, work for me. I'm tired. I miss spending time with my kids. We used to spend our summer days traipsing about town looking for interesting locations and fun parks. Today, I have the day off and can spend it with my youngest four doing whatever we like. We're going to the Science and Surplus Store, the beach to look for sea glass, our favorite ice cream shop- Bella's Fat Cat, the seminary library, and best of all, at sweet Mary's suggestion, to adoration. I love my children!

I am grateful for my beautiful niece, Jenny. (Did you see that Jenny? I mentioned you by name!) We enjoyed a lovely evening over a Spotted Cow Beer last night and our entire conversation revolved around our dear, sweet Jesus. Jenny is passionately in love with Him and her enthusiasm is contagious!


I praise God for my dear friend at La Vie Graphite who introduced me to Taize' Chant. I LOVE IT! hmmm...maybe it's time to add a playlist to this blog...

I am also grateful for this great picture that my dear friend Danette sent me. Makes me want to have a conversation with Mary as well!

Finally, as always, I am so very grateful for this wonderful blogging community! You are all so very precious to me! I pray that your day is as wonderful as the day I am anticipating!

The Dream

"Now I look into your eyes
I can see forever.
The search is over
You were with me all the while."
Survivor


The Dream

I came to the holy place
to be with You,
but You weren’t there.

I looked everywhere,
even in forbidden places,
but I couldn’t find You.

I went outside,
alone,
to shed my tears unnoticed
in the vast yard.

When I turned around,
You were there!
A crowd was gathered around You.
I didn’t recognize You at first-
You looked different, as if in a disguise.

But You knew me and
You were looking for me
even as I was looking for You.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pondering Pages/Gifts From the Sea








A weekly MEME sponsored by Lara at Holy Mothering...

A few years ago, I experienced what I was sure was a mid-life crisis. I know that term seems so cliche, but I just can't explain it any other way. For the first time in my life I felt challenged to define who I really was and where I was headed with my life. Up until that point, I was always self-assured and confident. Suddenly, I felt like a frightened child, as if everything I had known and loved fell to pieces in my heart. I was scared, confused and depressed. I'm sure that God used this time to draw me closer to Him, as He often uses our trials in life as a means to show us His deep and tender love for us. In "Gifts from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I felt the compassion and understanding of God through her words of experience. This book tells the story of a retreat she took at her summer home by the sea. While alone with God, the sea and her notebook, she pondered the meaning of her life in a beautifully poetic way and through her words, I no longer felt alone in my struggles.

"Many people never climb above the plateau of 40-50. The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing, are interpreted falsely as signs of decay...In middle age, because of the false assumption that it is a period of decline, one interprets these life-signs as signs of approaching death. Instead of facing them, one runs away; one escapes into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs, or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork. Anything rather than face them. Anything rather than stand still and learn from them. One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.

Angels of annunciation of what? Of a new stage of living when, having shed many of the physical struggles, the worldly ambitions, the material encumbrances of active life, one might be free to fulfill the neglected side of one's self. One might be free for growth of mind, heart and talent; free at last for spiritual growth. Beautiful as it was, it was still a closed world one had to outgrow."

I also loved some of her passages about writing:

"What release to write so that one forgets oneself, forgets one's companion, forgets where one is or what one is going to do next-to be drenched in work as one is drenched in sleep or in the sea."

"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."

And finally, about friendship...

"Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn't seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces."

And for my friend Judy, at BENMAKESTEN, some pieces of glass she's been wanting to see, my own gift from the sea!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Judgment

It was a Friday night at the grocery store and it was nearly closing time. The woman at the checkout had three small children with her and her cart was piled up with groceries. She seemed joyful even though her children were loudly acting up and behaving boisterously. Maybe she was just happy to be able to relieve the stress of empty cupboards and hungry children at home.

The line was long and I took my place at the end of it behind a very impatient and angry man. The woman at the checkout really seemed to bother him. Was it because her children were loud? Was it because she had so many items in her cart? Either of these situations could have been enough to annoy an overtired person picking up a few items from the grocery store at the end of a long week. But, it wasn’t the noise of her children or the size of her purchases that he complained about. He turned to me and in a very disparaging voice said, “I suppose she’s paying for all of that with food stamps!” His tone conveyed his disgust that she might be poor and might require government assistance to feed her growing family.

I prayed that my silence showed him my disapproval for his caustic remark, and I prayed that his voice wasn’t so loud that the woman might over hear him and feel embarrassed, whether she was paying with food stamps or not. I’ll never forget the time when I was in a similar situation.

When my children were small, my husband lost his job and my family qualified for help through the WIC(Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition) program. I was extremely grateful for the help that WIC provided for my family towards the cost of our healthy groceries each week. Yet, it was extremely humbling to apply for help and then to use the WIC vouchers for healthy foods at the grocery store. Using the WIC vouchers in the store meant that I had to separate my WIC foods from the other groceries I might be purchasing. I had to show my purple WIC book to the clerk so she could verify my signature for each check that I redeemed. It was a much more time consuming process at the checkout than a normal transaction would require. I always prayed that nobody I knew would come by and notice my low-income predicament.

So, one day, as I stood in line with my baby in the car seat section of the grocery cart and my toddlers gathered around, tired, as all young mothers with small children normally are, I noticed the clerk rolling her eyes at me, and heard her mumble, “Ugh! It’s a WIC transaction!” I realize that her comment was probably made out of the frustration that the extra work that the WIC process required, rather than out of a disdain for my low-income predicament, but at that stage of financial struggle, I took every comment personally. I calmly looked her in the eyes and said “I’d rather be in your shoes, processing a WIC transaction, than in my shoes, requiring the help that WIC provides.” Although my heart was wrenched by this small ordeal, after reflection, I’m glad it happened to me. It has taught me to be more compassionate, understanding and patient with others whose life predicaments leave them dependent, either temporarily or permanently. It opened my eyes to the plight of humiliation that the poor must cope with each day.

Lord, open the eyes to the good citizens of this world. Let them be grateful that they are not in a position where they need to rely on government assistance just to meet the basic needs of their families. Let them look, instead, for ways in which they can comfort and assist the poor, rather than criticize them with their condescending remarks. Amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Praise!




Joining with Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart with a list of weekly praises. I am thankful for...

1. A fun day at the State Fair with my family and discovering a new favorite treat, deep fried green beans!

2. That it really isn't possible to die from embarrassment. Yesterday, I lectored at the Mass for the Assumption of Mary and the other lector didn't show up. I forgot to put the lectionary on the ambo before Mass in my frazzled state at having to be the sole lector, and I didn't realize my mistake until it was time for me to begin the beautiful first reading from Revelation. I had to go to the sacristy at the last minute to get it. My husband and children informed me after Mass that they had never seen me with such a red face. You can bet I will never make that mistake again, and I am so grateful that it didn't kill me!

3. A sweet, young girl at my parish is discerning a call to religious life and has asked me for spiritual advice. Not only was that a great honor for me, but I also realize it's a tremendous responsibility. You never realize that there are people who watch everything you do and look to you for guidance.

4. For my friend Fr. Don who generously shares time from his very busy schedule to give me a few minutes of badly needed guidance and support. It means so much when someone listens to you with a caring heart.

5. For all of the kind and encouraging words of support from this blogging community. I am amazed at the tremendous blessing that this outlet has brought into my life and pray that God will allow me to give the same encouragement to others.

6. For the great priests and seminarians who hosted a fun night for high school boys this past Friday that began with adoration and confession, and ended with pizza, basketball and trampoline fun. It was a great way to keep boys engaged in the church and have a fun time together.

Hot Peppers!


Some people have a sweet tooth, but I have a hot tooth (and, I admit,a sweet tooth as well!) I love hot and spicy food, the hotter the better, and I want to believe the theory that it's good for the metabolism, burning lots of calories. So to cater to my cravings for hot and spicy, I grow lots of hot peppers in my garden, and this time of year you will often find me busy in the kitchen cutting up the peppers, tomatoes and other vegies for a spicy salsa. My husband, the cautious chef, always shakes his head as he walks past, "Should be wearing gloves," he reminds me.

But I don't worry about that precautionary measure. I have thick skin and those hot peppers don't burn my fingers at all. It's not until an hour or so later that I realize why he reminds me about the gloves, as I inevitably rub my eyes and the sting of tears from the heat that remained on my fingers begins to burn my eyes. My skin may be thick, but my eyeballs are not!

Dearest Sacred Heart of Jesus, inflamed with burning love for me and all of your children, carry the sacrifice of my hot tears to my heart so that it will also burn, just like yours, with love for all the world. Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Few Assumptions about Mary

On this Holy Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would like to make a few assumptions about our lovely Mother...

I assume that Mary delighted in each and every kick of the infant Jesus inside her womb, and used those kicks as a reminder to thank God for the blessing of the life within her.

I assume that Mary lovingly prayed for her mother, St. Anne, each time she wrapped the baby Jesus in the swaddling blanket that St. Anne so lovingly wove from finest fabric for her Grandson.

I assume that Mary grimaced as she scrubbed the dirt from Jesus' neck when he returned home, hot and sticky, from helping St. Joseph in the carpenter shop.

I assume that Mary worried about the friends that Jesus associated with and prayed that they would be faithful and well-behaved.

I assume that Mary cried the day that Jesus left to begin his mission in life, as the empty place within her heart which would one day contain the sword began to ache just a bit.

I assume that Mary would have rather died on that cross herself, than to stand helplessly beneath it.

Holy, sweet, beautiful Mother, on this glorious day of your Assumption into heaven, I ask you to remember all mothers who long to follow in your path of holiness. Ask your Son to fill our hearts with a gentle love like yours, a love that silently ponders the wonders and sorrows of our world, as we await our own glorious entrances into the eternal kingdom of heaven. Amen.

Did You Get Some Last Night?

One of my coworkers always questions my smile as I walk in the door each morning to begin my workday. “Why so happy?” She queries with a smirk on her face. “Did you get some last night?”

It doesn’t matter how often she talks to me like this, I always clam up as I feel my face burn with embarrassment at the crude question about my personal relationship with my husband. The truth is, my daily smile has nothing to do with my husband, although he is quite wonderful, but it has everything to do with the first love of my life, Jesus.

If I could only overcome my embarrassment, I would tell her “Yes, I did get some last night, and this morning, and every morning. And I want more. I want some every minute of every day, forever.” The thing that I got and that I crave more of, is not a human encounter, but rather a prayerful, spiritual encounter.

When I spend time with Jesus, my heart races and pounds, my tongue turns dry and my palms begin to sweat. When I receive His precious body in Holy Eucharist, it is an ecstatic experience like none I’ve ever known. I feel His Spirit move around me and within me and I am completely overcome. No earthly lover could bring about those physical and spiritual changes in me. It’s those quiet moments on my knees, with my face buried in my hands, when I feel His presence inside of me that draws that smile out of my soul and places it on my face.

There is no sensation like feeling His deep love for me, regardless of whether I am feeling smart or dim, thin or heavy, saintly or sinful. He loves me. He loves me right here, right now, and always. If that knowledge doesn’t make me smile, then nothing will.

So, did I get some last night? You bet I did! I got some beautiful, precious, holy, sweet love from my Savior. Did you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teacher's Pet


My 25th High School Reunion was last weekend. I didn’t go and I feel a little regret about that. Make that a lot of regret, now that I've been hearing from some of my best high school friends that they missed me there. I can’t say that my high school years were the most wonderful years of my life. In fact, I recall being extremely anxious to shake the dust of that high school and the small town I grew up in from the bottom of my feet as fast as I could after graduation. But now, with the passage of all these years, I do feel a bit of nostalgia for my youth. Our class president was/is a very savvy woman and has put up a website so that all of the former students can reconnect whether or not they attended the reunion. The website has been a great way to relive some fond and some not so fond memories, most of them murky from the years gone by.

A particular high school memory that I clearly remember is one that I am not too proud of and if my kids were to ever pull a stunt like this, I would be all over them in an instant regarding the perils and evils of cheating. I had taken an easy stitchery credit during my senior year. I loved the counted cross stitch and needlepoint sessions, but the knitting! Oh, it was nearly impossible for me to get the hang of using both hands to create a lovely textile product of which I could be proud. To complete this portion of the class, we were required to knit one baby booty. I just couldn’t do it. My friend Patty had already turned hers in and had received a “B” grade for it. Not too shabby, I thought. A “B” was probably far better than the “F” I was anticipating for not turning a booty in. So, I asked Patty if I could borrow her booty and she agreed. I replaced her name with mine and placed it in the teacher’s basket. The next day it was returned to me with an “A”! I must have been the teacher's pet to receive a better grade than Patty for the very same knitting sample.

I must be God’s pet, too, because he always, always gives me the best grade no matter what. He doesn’t care if I cheat and lie. He doesn't care if I back out of reunion plans. He woos me with His gentle love that pours down in the rains and breaks my heart open with the sunshine gleaming through the first crack in the clouds. His glorious love makes me tremble in sorrow for my sins and I never want to cheat or lie again. I only want to bask in His love, brag about His love and live in His love forever.

Thank you Dear God for turning this humble student of your love into your most favored pet. I will forever adore you as the teacher of my soul. Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Loyal Friend and Visitor Award













My dear friend Heidi at http://livinginhisamazinggrace.blogspot.com/ whom I have known since the 7th grade and have recently become reacquainted with through facebook has generously bestowed this lovely award upon me. Truthfully, I am beginning to feel more and more humbled each day with these sweet awards as they are more than I deserve. I would like to pass this on to those visitors who frequent my blog daily leaving such kind and edifying comments that encourage me to continue writing and blogging in an effort to give glory to God.

Here are the rules:

1. Copy the loyal picture above and post it on your blog.
2. Pass it on to who you think who is/are deserving.
3. Leave a message to them
4. Pass as many as you want.
5. Message back or leave a comment to the owner.

So I pass this award on to the following wonderful, faithful and loyal women:

Linda: http://spiritcall.blogspot.com/
Mary: http:
//openingthefloodgatesofmercy.blogspot.com/

Easter: http://prayerswritingsofacatholicmomdaughter.blogspot.com/
Ginny: http://blog.maryandme.org/
Sue: http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/
Theresa: http://carmelitemom.blogspot.com/
Judy: http:
//benmakesten.blogspot.com/

Karinann: http://hisdaughter02.blogspot.com/
Sarah: http://cuppajoe2go.blogspot.com/

Thank you all so much for your faithfulness!

Pondering Pages/I Believe in Love














Joining once again with Lara at Holy Mothering... http://madredetresbebs.blogspot.com/

I just finished reading I Believe in Love:Retreat Conferences in the Interior Life by Fr. Jean du Coeur de Jesus d'Elbee. This book was recommended to my son John by a seminarian during the Summer Camp for boys who are thinking about the priesthood. I am so glad that Matt(the seminarian)recommended this book for John, because not only did he enjoy it, but I did as well!

As a devotee of daily Mass, I was encouraged by this quote..."Let your Mass be the center of your day. Everything must flow for you from your daily Mass and everything must culminate in it."

Regarding the crosses we all carry in life..."He will never let the cross crush you; on the contrary, it will lift you up toward heaven. It is no longer you who will carry it, it is the cross which will carry you. Jesus took upon himself the bitterest cross and he will add a balm to it before giving it to you-that is certain. The sweetness of the crosses accepted with the joy of free will is a great mystery, yet very real." Isn't that beautifully comforting?

Finally, regarding the title..."There existed between Jesus and John the particular tenderness which comes from preference. Jesus had a special tenderness for John. And John knew himself to be preferred...Why was St. John the preferred? He tells us in a word. "Because I believed in love." And he makes the supreme revelation: Deus Caritas est. "God is Love." 1John 4:8 How do you learn that God is love? By your intimacy with Jesus. Where do you learn to live in this intimacy? At the foot of the tabernacle, at the Mass, in the Gospel."

Do you believe in love?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Failure and Guilt

It’s not always easy to stir up compassion within my heart for the women I meet in the WIC Clinic. Sometimes, my judgmental side flares up and I think it is at these times that I fail to serve my clients well. I’ll never forget a time when I let my judgments get the better of me.

One of our regular clients, Alexis, was a petite woman with two small children. Her children were completely out of control during our visit. They were playing with the water at the sink, throwing toys and ripping books. They were shouting and hollering and fighting with each other. They were rummaging through my desk drawers. All the time that this chaos was occurring, Alexis did nothing to stop it. She sat and watched and didn’t speak one word of correction to her children.

Naturally, I became irritated, but I regret that I allowed the misbehavior of these children to get the better of me. I listened to Alexis speak about how tired she was and how overwhelmed she felt. She told me that she often fell asleep during the day because she was so tired, and left her 2 and 3 year old children unsupervised. Then, she told me that the last time she fell asleep during the day, her two-year-old son nearly started the house on fire by turning on the stove! She criticized her children and said that they were just plain bad and there was nothing she could do to improve their behavior. What I heard and saw were two children badly in need of loving discipline, but instead, they received criticism from their mother. I worried that these small children were in danger during their times without supervision at home.

So, rather than helping her to find resources that would help her with her parenting skills, and help her children with their social and behavior skills, I reported her to Child Protective Services for possible child neglect. I failed to look at her heart and see her pain and frustration, but instead saw her as some kind of careless mother who didn’t care about her children.

I immediately regretted the report after I made it. What have I done, I thought? How would I feel if I was having a bad day and someone did that to me? I was so upset that I couldn’t sleep that whole night. Walking into the office the next day was extremely difficult for me as I couldn’t keep my tears of regret from showing, and all of my coworkers questioned me about what was bothering me. I felt so guilty over what I had done that I could hardly talk about it. When I finally worked up the courage to speak about it, I could see by the looks on their faces that I had certainly made an error in my judgment of her. My coworkers knew Alexis better than I did and they thought of her as a loving mother who did her best for her children.

I called the caseworker from Child Protective Services for some reassurance. She told me that they would visit Alexis at her home, assess the situation, and try to offer her help in caring for her children and meeting her own needs for stress relief as well. She promised me that their goal was not to take children from their mothers. She told me that I had done the right thing.

Several weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the caseworker. They were unable to find Alexis at home and had dropped the case. I never saw her back at the clinic. I don’t know if she had moved or just decided to go to another WIC clinic where she might be treated with more compassion than what I had shown her. One thing I do know for sure is that I will never again refer a client to Child Protective Services unless I am absolutely sure that the child in question is being abused or neglected without a doubt. In the future, I will spend more time with my clients to offer all of the possible assistance and resources that are available to them without resorting to drastic measures that could separate a family. I pray that in the future God will slow me down, open my heart and allow me to bring goodness and love to the clients I serve rather than looking down on them in their stress with judgment.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daily Blessings Special Feature

I want to thank Judy, mom of ten and super sweet manager of several blogs including BENMAKESTEN and A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings (both in my sidebar of favorite blogs) for interviewing me for her Daily Blessings Special Feature blog. It was both a thrill and an honor! You can find that interview at the following link:

dailyblessingsinterviews.blogspot.com/2009/08/welcome-to-mrs-anne-bender.html

House of Love

It is not at all uncommon for Mary to cry,
but this time,
I could tell that she was really hurt
and not just looking
for attention.

As I snuggled her in my arms,
to offer her comfort and love,
I sang a lullaby to her
that I hadn’t sung in the
eight years since she was a baby.

John and Jack heard me singing
and they came to comfort
Mary as well.
They gave her hugs and kisses.
She was surrounded
by the love and care
of her devoted family.

A look of pure
contentment
fell upon her face
as she drifted off to sleep
in my arms.

This is the house
of love, Lord.
It is filled with Your
Holy Love
as we strive to
follow your example.
Amen.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Parched

branches snap
under my feet and I think
I could break
just as easily

my prayer is dry
my soul is parched

I need to be drenched
with the consolations
of Your sweet love
my Jesus

fill me
until I overflow
quench my thirst
for You

Friday, August 7, 2009

Only Say the Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1-2

God found out that I am in love with words. He caught a glimpse of it while watching me play Scrabble, over and over again, from the age of seven until the present moment. He watched me playing with my children, and noticed how I would take over for them under the guise of helping. He must have smirked when he saw my children sitting around the table watching me play all by myself! No matter which child won the game, I always won!

He was most likely overcome by my constant use of verbal words from the moment I could speak. He should have whispered a word of warning to my siblings that all those quarters they offered me to “please just don’t talk for ten minutes” were better off used to buy popsicles. It’s too hard to talk while slurping on sweets! I guess they learned the hard way that offers of riches could not stop my need to speak.

I’m sure that God held his breath in anticipation while watching every spelling bee that I participated in during grade school. Do you think he was as disappointed as I was when I missed out on “ptomaine” during the State Spelling Bee?

He must have smiled every time I went into the post office to buy more stamps for all those cards and letters I loved to write to my friends and family.


God must have loved it when I read books about Him and His holy friends, the saints. It must have made him so happy to see that I longed to draw closer to him through the words of wise people who knew just the right things to write about Him in their books. I bet He was especially thrilled when I opened His special book of Words, the Bible, and even more so when I spoke those Words as a Lector at Mass.

Then one day he saw me crying, and sobbing, and grieving. Actually it was more than one day. It was weeks, turning to months, verging on years. He cried, and sobbed and grieved too. In my grief I couldn’t speak so I finally had a chance to listen to God speak. God whispered to my heart. He whispered through the voice of my sister. “Write. Write words. Write in journals. Write stories. Write poems. Write lists. Write more letters. Just keep writing. You’ll feel better; trust me.”

So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote all of the pain right out of my heart and soul. I filled up journals, I filled up notebooks, and I filled up computer files. And I felt better. Somewhat. I couldn’t feel completely better because my words were buried in binders and computers and journals and no one ever saw them. They were private words between God and me. But I am greedy and I wanted more. I wanted to share my words. I wanted real live people to read my words.

So I entered my stories and poems in contests, but I never won. I sent my stories and poems to magazines and newspapers, but they were all rejected. I asked God “Why do you want me to write if nobody will ever read it? How can my words give you glory if they are buried in a binder?”

I stopped talking again and spent lots of time in silent prayer and adoration so that I might hear God’s voice again, and I did. His beautiful words came from a friend. I heard his voice come from her mouth with the following question: “Why don’t you write a blog?” But I was stubborn and afraid. The internet felt scary to me. So I dug my feet in the ground and continued to complain about all of my hidden words.

Now God had to speak very loudly to catch my attention. This time he spoke through a very wise priest who told me that the words “Do not be afraid” are written 366 times in the bible, one for every day of the year including leap year. DO NOT BE AFRAID. My friend, the priest, spoke these words to me again and again. “Do not be afraid, Anne.” I know that God was speaking through my friend, so I felt that I had better listen.

Those were the words that opened my mind and heart. I took a deep breath and began to release my words in this blog and I found out that I absolutely love blogging! I have never felt so happy and so fulfilled in my lifetime thus far. I write the words that are bubbling over inside of me, and I receive beautiful love letter words via comments in return. I read the words that are bubbling inside of others, and send them beautiful love letter words via comments in exchange. What could possibly be better?

God must be very happy. He must be smiling because I am happy, because I have overcome my fear, and because I use the gift he gave me to bring myself and others joy and this joy gives glory to God! I know that God loves me because he put the love for words within me and then nourished it and encouraged it each day, little by little. He knew there would come a day when I would need those words to lift myself up and hopefully, to lift others up as well. So, I thank God from the bottom of my heart because he only had to say the “Word” and it changed my life!

Word of God, thank You for giving me words to express myself and for nurturing the love of words within my heart and soul. Thank You for Your sacred, holy, wonderful words and for actually being the Most Sacred, Holy and Wonderful Word, Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some great new blogs!



Sweet Esther at http://hicatholicmom.blogspot.com/ has kindly bestowed this Queen for a Day award upon me today. I am so honored! It comes with rules. One rule is that I am to list seven things about myself that make me awesumm. This is hard, but even harder, I am to list and tag seven fellow bloggers who are also awesumm. Have you seen my sidebar bloglist lately? It is growing like crazy! There are so many beautiful, wonderful blogs out there! You, this wonderful blogging community, have blessed my life tremendously in so many ways! Listing seven is nearly impossible! Beyond that, there are quite a few "kings" I would like to include. So, I'm going to cheat a bit and list those kings and sneak in an eighth and ninth. Then I would also like to say that if I ever visited your blog, became a follower and/or left a comment, you are a king or queen in my book! Thank you to all who have the courage and take the time to blog about your life and your faith-you have lifted me up and enriched my life! (My seven awesumm things follow the list of blogs...)

http://www.aholyexperience.com/ written by Ann Voskamp. Hers is a "quiet blog"-no comments, no followers, but you can sign up to receive her new posts by email. This blog is so unique-great photography and great poems/stories about her life on a farm with her farmer husband and beautiful children-you are sure to love it!

http://laviegraphite.blogspot.com/is another blog with great photography. The posts are the deeply contemplative story of a man guided by the Spirit with a penchant for old-fashioned writing instruments. Unique, inspirational, lovely!

http://gabriella50.wordpress.com/ is also quite different. Gabriella alternates posts between English and Italian, telling the story of the traditional Catholic church. Love is the word 'read' behind every post.

http://abookofeverything.blogspot.com/ is a varied telling of life through the eyes of Brian, a man preparing to be ordained to the Diaconate. Great posts of interest to anyone!

Brother Charles is the man behind http://acapuchinjourney.blogspot.com/ He shares very meaningful reflections on the Sunday readings with tremendous insight. A friend of La Vie Graphite blogger.

http://thewindowshowsitall.blogspot.com/ by Micki. She posts beautiful vintage Holy Card pictures with an inspirational quote, usually by a Saint, with each card.

http://meditativemeanderings.blogspot.com/ is written from the perspective of a Christian writing instructor, Susanne. Her words are so sweet and uplifting!


http://www.blestatheist.com/
written by Elizabeth Mahlou follows the faith conversion and life story of a remarkable woman and her even more remarkable family.

Truthfully, I could write a recommendation for everyone in my sidebar, because I love all of these blogs so much and find I can't get through my day without checking what's new on each of them! It is my hope that you can take a few minutes to visit them and leave a friendly word if you like what you read!

Finally, a special recommendation for my dear son, John, and his http://writingsofaboydiscerninggodscall.blogspot.com/I'm always amazed by the maturity of his faith and can't believe that God has blessed me with this wonderful son!

Happy Blogging to all!

Seven Things That Make Me Awesumm:

1. I make fabulous grape jelly from our homegrown grapes. At Christmas I usually give away 80 jars as gifts to friends, family and teachers.

2. I am extremely punctual and dependable.

3. Thank You are my favorite words to speak.

4. Sea Glass is hard to find, but I've been able to collect 5 jars full which are displayed in my front porch windows.

5. I am very loyal and faithful.

6. Although my parents have passed away, I have spiritually adopted all of the sweet, elderly people at daily Mass as my parents here on earth.

7. My children are generous with their expressions of love for me. Even if I weren't awesome in any other way, these daily hugs, kisses, high fives and words of love that I receive from them builds me up until I am nearly always bursting with love not only for them and my husband, but for everyone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Torn to Shreds

In honor of the Feast Day of St. John Vianney, a story about forgiveness in remembrance of the Saint who spent countless hours in the confessional...

When my son Justin was preparing to make the Sacrament of First Reconciliation, he was quite nervous as most children are the first time they confess their sins, and as some people are every time they confess their sins. Part of Justin’s nerves were due to the fact that he thought he might freeze up in the confessional and forget the sins he needed to confess. His remedy for this fear was to write all of his sins down on a piece of paper, tuck it in his pocket, and pull it out if the need arose.

Sure enough, as nine-year-old Justin sat face to face with the priest, he drew a perfect blank about what he wanted to say. So, he pulled that paper from his pocket and “read” his sins to Father. After he received absolution, the priest asked to see the list of sins. As Justin handed the paper to the priest, Father immediately tore the paper to shreds. He told Justin, “This is what God has now done to your sins. God has torn your sins to shreds; they are gone forever. You should completely forget about them.” What a wonderful symbolic action on the part of this priest! Justin left the confessional just beaming!

I need to frequently remind myself of the lesson Justin learned that day, because although I know that my sins are permanently absolved in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my good old Catholic guilt won’t let me forget them. I keep trying to pick up those scraps of paper and glue them back together again. I keep trying to tell myself that my sins are so bad I can never be redeemed. How that must hurt Jesus to know that I can’t seem to accept his forgiveness wholeheartedly, that part of me continues to hang on to my sin. I need to remind myself over and over again that God loves me, right here, right now, whether I am sinful or redeemed from the state of sin. He longs to pick up those scraps of paper that have been torn to shreds and burn them in the fire so there will be no way I can try to pick them up again.

Dear, sweet, forgiving Jesus, help me to remember that my sins, once confessed and forgiven with the blessing of absolution, are no longer mine to hold on to, they are now yours to do whatever it is you wish with them. It was a precious gift of love when you took my sins upon yourself through the suffering you endured on the cross. Help me to show my appreciation for that gift by forgiving myself as you forgive me. Amen.

Pondering Pages/Revelations of Divine Love


Joining with Lara at Holy Mothering in a weekly sharing of favorite books...

It's a classic, and I completely fell in love with this book. It came as a real surprise to me that I would feel so strongly about Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich because I thought it would be too challenging for me to understand. It's written in Olde English and I thought it would take forever for me to finish, but once I opened the pages, I couldn't close the book until I was finished. It was breathtaking poetry from beginning to end! Here are the passages that have remained embedded in my heart...

"I saw Him-yet the more I saw the more I needed to see. I had Him-and the more I had of Him the more I knew I lacked."

"For that contrariness is cause of our tribulations and all our woe, and our Lord Jesus taketh them and sendeth them up to Heaven, and there they are made more sweet and delectable than heart may think or tongue may tell."

"They that were His friends suffered pain for love."

"All His doings be easy and sweet, and to great ease bringing the soul unto the fair sweet deeming of our Lord God."

"I was left in heaviness and weariness of my life, and irksomeness of myself, so that scarcely I would have patience to live. Souls sometimes be in comfort and for profit of man's soul, a man is sometimes left to himself. Freely our Lord giveth when He will; and suffereth us to woe sometimes. And both are one love."

"For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul; that we seek here rest in those things that be so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is Almighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the very rest."


Such beautiful poetry, such heart-felt prayers...I could rewrite the whole book for you here because I loved all of it! But, I will leave the rest for you to discover for yourself, if you haven't already. Enjoy!