Friday, February 19, 2010

Seven Quick Takes-The First 100 Years

"You know what they say, the first 100 years are the toughest!" Chef Linus Vogler (a chef that my husband used to work with at Northshore Country Club)

It's been a tough week. Let me count the ways...

1. Last Saturday, on my way to work, I slipped on the icy back porch steps and fell down them. There I lay, my left leg twisted underneath me, my cup of coffee in the snowbank and my family safely inside the warm house unaware of my tragedy. I hobbled back into the house with extreme pain in my left foot. My husband offered me a few words of sympathy as he took my unpractical clogs and threw them in the garbage can while I changed into more practical shoes, and I continued on with my busy day and hobbled to work. With no time to go to the doctor, I am continuing to hobble a week later. My foot is bruised and swollen, but I will persevere in the hopes that it will heal and in the meantime, I am offering the pain that I feel for all priests, seminarians and those discerning a call to the priesthood.

2. I have spent this week training for a certificate in lactation counseling. It is a five day process, from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday, and if we miss even 15 minutes of the sessions, we are told that we won't be allowed to take the 2 hour exam for certification. Although I have been a Certified Breastfeeding Educator for the past five years and have breastfed my own five children, there is still much that I don't know and am finding that relearning some of the anatomy and chemistry lessons are challenging. My employer has paid $700 for me to take this course, and I really wanted to do my best and make her proud. I thank you for all of your prayers, for without them, what I knew would be a challenging week was bearable in spite of additional stressors because...

3. My 14-year-old son Justin who has had a barking cough for the past month, but refused to go to the doctor because he felt fine, woke up on Tuesday morning with a fever. Hoping that a day of rest would do him a world of good, I called the school reporting him absent and hoped that my husband would be able to take some time off from work on Wednesday to take Justin to the doctor if need be. Then...

4. While I just returned from lunch to begin the Tuesday afternoon session of the Lactation Training, (which thankfully was being held in a building adjacent to my WIC Clinic where I work), one of my coworkers came to find me and tell me that the secretary at the school where my 16-year-old son John attends had called to say that John had fallen during gym class and knocked out his two front teeth. I hobbled as quickly as I could back to the office and called my husband Paul at work. He had already left to get John. I called the dentist who said, yes, bring him in right away. By now, my boss was wondering what I was doing back at the office, and when I told her, she said, "Go to him. Don't worry about the Lactation Training. John needs you." (My boss is awesome! She understands that just as Mary needed to be with Jesus in his time of trial and suffering, all mothers need to be with their children whenever they are hurting.) As I returned to the training to get my coat and tell the instructor why I was leaving, she said that since I would be missing the afternoon, I would not be able to take the exam. $700 wasted! I was sick! She reassured me that the course would be offered again in Madison (about 80 miles away) in the Spring and I could make up the session I missed and take the exam there. In spite of her warning about the exam, I left the training because family is most important, and...

5. While I was rushing to be with John, my husband was also on his way. Paul picked up John from school and we all met at the dentist office. The dentist was able to repair John's teeth with fillings and will need to do a bit more work on them in the future. Although John is still feeling quite a bit of pain, he will be fine. John needed to spend two hours at the dentist's office having the work done, and he was in the excellent care of Paul and the dentist, so I left to take Justin to the doctor. His diagnosis: bronchitis. Some antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications and he was able to return to school on Thursday...

6. But back to Tuesday night...I was completely wiped out from stress, worry and hobbling. I wanted nothing else but to sit at home with my foot up and vegetate in front of American Idol on the television. But, it was my monthly rosary night at my sister Diann's house. I had missed the last two monthly gatherings and really felt that I would be hurting everyone's feelings if I didn't show up. (My sisters, nieces and I gather monthly, rotating houses, to pray the rosary, visit and eat.) As soon as I walked in the door, my sister Cindy had a look of anticipation on her face and asked me how I have been. I began the litany of my lousy week (and it was only Tuesday!). Her face just fell. "I've been praying for you! I expected you to come in here beaming with joy because my prayers were so effective, especially since part of my prayer has been to quit smoking for you! I haven't had a cigarette in the past four days!" (Cindy has been smoking for years and her many efforts to quit in the past have all met with failure.) Let me tell you, after she said that, I immediately felt better! Cindy loves me! She quit smoking for me! That consolation made all of my suffering so worth it! And my improved mood was an answer to her prayer, so her prayers did work! In addition, on Thursday morning I worked up the courage to ask the instructors if I could please take the exam and then make up the missed hours this Spring in Madison, with the understanding that if I don't make up the hours, I cannot receive my certification, even if I do pass the exam, and they agreed. That is a wonderful blessing and an answer to prayer. Now I ask that you, dear reader, will keep Cindy in your prayers so that she can really quit smoking for good this time, and will you keep me in your prayers so that I pass the exam this afternoon? (I won't know the results for 6-8 weeks.)

7. I leave you with this final comforting thought that kept me going all week, from my dear friend and spiritual director, Fr. Don from his February "New Heart New Spirit Newsletter"...

There are only a few weeks between the penance of Ash Wednesday and the culmination of the Triduum. There are only three days between the emptiness of Good Friday and the fullness of Easter Sunday. There are only a few tears between the sorrow in my heart and the consolation that God sends me. There are only a few years between this present moment of my life and the glory of eternal union with God. Sorrow and joy, consolation and desolation, suffering and redemption, death and new life are so spiritually proximate to each other that sometimes they look and feel alike! Just when all seems lost, new hope dawns and just when I think I have got the world by the tail, a setback humbles me.
Is this twisted, turning path of falling and rising, weeping and rejoicing, fasting and feasting, sinning and finding mercy, surging upwards in surprising hope and crushed downwards in agonizing despair the strange but true path that leads inexorably to the very heart of God? Calvary and the empty tomb are only a few footsteps apart. My Lenten prayer is that we keep walking between the two often in our journey home.

I look forward to continuing these first 100 tough years with all of the joy and sorrow, consolation and desolation, suffering and redemption that they contain, knowing that when I finally reach my journey home, joy will be all that remains.

Thank you for your prayers this week and thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for this MEME.


  1. My prayers are for you, today, Anne! What am incredible week. And the most beautiful part is, it seems, that you're ending it by thanking God for every up and down of it! You are a blessing to the rest of us. Enjoy your weekend!

  2. My prayers are with you and Cindy! And I agree with Mary, you are a blessing to the rest of us!

    God Bless....


  3. Wow! That was some week. You and Cindy are in my prayers. Advice from someone who's hurt her foot in a fall - you can't be too careful with it. I sprained my ankle 10 years ago and I still have pain in it. The less activity, the better, and plenty of ice. Once it gets better, if you're still having pain, exercise like yoga can help a lot. It's not like you only use your feet once in a while :-)

  4. You put my week into perspective! My Grandmother told me once that if all the neighbors came out and laid their problems out in the street for all to see and pick the ones they'd rather have, we'd all gather our own back up and take them home! I'd have to agree with her this week. I'll be praying for each of you, that you have a peaceful, enjoyable weekend and rest of the year! Thank you Ann for the things you share!