Friday, February 26, 2010

Bridge to Forgiveness

"I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter and I think it's about forgiveness...forgiveness...even if, even if you don't love me anymore." Don Henley The Heart of the Matter


Jesus,

I am broken. I have separated myself from one of your children, and without that relationship, I am less than I was before. I am looking to be whole again, to be fulfilled in your love with the unity of your child from whom I am now apart. So, I cry upon your shoulder, and I lean upon your strength, because you have known this brokenness. I know that you understand my suffering. I ask you to lay down your cross for me, so that I may use it as my bridge to forgiveness. The slivers that may enter the soles of my feet will be as nothing compared to the pain that has consumed my heart from the disgrace that I have brought to you and your precious child whom you love.

Lead me, Jesus, slowly, across your bridge to forgiveness where joy and love wait for me. I believe that forgiveness will come to me, but until I reach it, remind me to walk softly, to speak gently and to pray deeply.

The wild river of pain and fear rages below me, but your cross will keep me above it all. You will safely lead me across the brokenness.

This bridge seems to go on forever, it takes so long to cross. The wind is blowing against my face and the sun is beating upon my body causing my progression to slow down. I understand that I cannot rush this process, because if I do, the peace of forgiveness will not be true or permanent, rather, it will be shallow and meaningless. What I want is a deep and lasting reconciliation that can only occur by taking one slow step at a time.

But I grow impatient for forgiveness! I hunger for it and the hunger burns in the pit of my stomach! There is nothing to nourish me and satisfy my hunger on this bridge. I can feel my hunger turn to bitterness. I am very afraid of this bitter feeling, I’m afraid that I will grow accustomed to it and begin to embrace it. I’m afraid it will move from my stomach to my heart and prevent me from ever loving anyone fully. I want my heart to remain soft and supple and loving.

I trust you Jesus, to bring me safely across this bridge, to overcome the pain and burden of this brokenness so that when I reach the other side, the glorious joy I will feel will be worth all of the pain that I have carried in my heart. On the other side of this bridge, a reunion awaits me, and you will hold our hands in yours so that we will never be separated again. Amen.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. Psalm 130

-as seen on Catholicmom.com
(a re-post from 5/09)
Join Jenny at Just a Minute to pray the Psalms

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Seven Quick Takes-In Gratitude













Those things for which I am thanking God today...

1. My husbands goatee is turning gray. He looks so handsome and manly in gray. I think God is a fabulous artist the way he makes the hair on the bottom turn completely gray while the sides are simply peppered with it. Paul's goatee makes me smile every time I look at him and I can never resist reaching up to touch it.

2. Even though we had a recent snowfall and it is as cold as cold can be outside, I know that Spring is just around the corner. I can hardly wait!

3. I love Lent! I love the simplicity and the doing without. I love it that Jesus takes my little Lenten hurts and turns them into Easter joy!

4. Basketball season is almost over! No more nightly running to practices, no more concession stand duty, no more sitting on the hard bleachers covering my eyes every time it looks like one of the boys are going to get hurt. My son Justin will be playing golf this Spring. We've never had a golf player in our family before. Doesn't golf sound a little more tame than basketball?

5. Need I say more?

















6. The kids are off of school today and so they are all sleeping in, and Paul has left for work. For one blessed hour I have the house to myself in the early morning hours before I have to leave for work. Today I don't have to listen to cries of "I can't find my uniform!" and "I don't know what to make for my lunch!" and "Mom, I need $10 for a field trip today, sorry I forgot to tell you last week!" and "Can you check my homework?"-all as we are trying to race out the door! Today I am enjoying an hour of silent bliss and joy!

7. No sooner had I typed the word joy, when I heard a little voice behind me ask "Momma, are you up? I had a really bad dream." Mary climbed into my lap and threw her arms tightly around my neck and buried her sweet face in my own. I asked her if she wanted to tell me about her dream, and she began. It had a dark night, lions in cages, a stranger offering her candy, and a house of graves. I am go glad that I was awake and alone and able to offer comfort to my dear little one after a dream like that. Being here for Mary when she needs me the most is worth more than any time alone in silent bliss and joy.

For all these gifts and more- I thank you, Lord!


Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for the MEME.

Cross of Regret

I'm sitting here with a full stomach. Overfull, really. It's the first time in a week that I have felt this way. Up until this point, one week into Lent, I've done a fabulous job of fasting. I walked past the junk food in the grocery store and turned my nose up in disgust. I avoided the break room at work when a friend brought in cookies for her birthday treat. I've said "no" to my children's repeated requests for treats. I've held firm to my annual Lenten resolve: no alcohol, no junk food, no sweets, no snacking between meals, and only one meal each day (dinner with my family).

So why is it that today I caved? My boss invited me to a noontime session on helping others cope with grief. The program sounded intriguing and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be a better support for my clients who suffer the loss of their babies, not to mention being able to use the information in my personal life as well. So I accepted the invitation and attended the program. I didn't know that it included lunch. I sat in my chair during the entire hour-long program without a single glance at the box-lunch on the table in front of me. In fact, I didn't give it a single thought. But now I wish I would have. I wish I would have thought that I could take it home and give it to my family, or leave it in the office refrigerator with an "up-for-grabs" sign on it, or even leave it behind on the table as I left. But, no. I took it back to my office with me.

Just a peek. That's all I wanted to do, just peek inside the box and see what was inside. Temptation stared me in the face and I caved! That roast beef sandwich with lettuce and tomato was so delicious! And so large! OK, now I began to rationalize with myself. I just won't eat supper tonight. We're going to be busy with lots of basketball games tonight, I would just be grabbing leftovers for supper anyway. I can skip that, no problem! I put the chips, cookie, and apple in my cupboard to take home for the kids. But halfway through the afternoon, I broke down and ate the chips. They didn't even taste good, yet I couldn't stop until the bag was empty.

Regret fills my soul. That's a cross, too.

Every year I start Lent with the best of intentions. I am going to feel those pangs of hunger each day and unite them with the pangs of suffering that Jesus endured on His way to the cross. I tell Jesus that I love Him so much and that I long to suffer for Him. I start out strong, but my resolve dwindles. I know that tomorrow is another day and I can start all over again. But Jesus didn't have that opportunity. Once he started down that frightful way of the cross, there was no turning back, no starting over, he had to take it all the way to crucifixion.

My Jesus, I am so sorry. I am so weak. But Your strength is enough for both of us. Make me strong like You, help me to endure little pains and trials, even the pain of not being able to suffer for You. Once again, you have given me a lesson in humility, in a way that I least expected it. You knocked my pride down and let me know that I cannot bring on my own suffering by choosing how I will fast. It is You who will decide how I should suffer, and all I can do is humbly accept whatever cross You give me, even the cross of failure and regret.

Tomorrow, I will do my best to return to my Lenten fast, but I know that if I fail, it is a gift from You. You are teaching me that there is nothing I can do on my own, but that I can do all things through You, my only source of strength. Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amnesia

he listened, and he heard
he heard my heart speak
its sorrow and its lament
over false accusations

the hurtful words
rang in my head for so long
that I began to believe
that they were true

his voice was soothing
his words kind
"that's not you" he said
"that's not who you are"

he knew me
even when I didn't know myself
he reassured me
when my confidence was ebbing low

and now, I can hold my head up high
I can be sure that who I am
is God's delightful child
whose only desire is to please Him

A Lesson in Humility

Litany of Humility

Oh Jesus! meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
from the desire of being loved,
from the desire of being extolled,
from the desire of being honored,
from the desire of being praised,
from the desire of being preferred,
from the desire of being consulted,
from the desire of being approved,
from the fear of being humiliated,
from the fear of being despised,
from the fear of suffering rebukes,
from the fear of being calumniated,
from the fear of being forgotten,
from the fear of being ridiculed,
from the fear of being wronged,
from the fear of being suspected,

Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
that others may be esteemed more than I,
that in the opinion of the world, others may increase,
and I may decrease,
that others may be chosen and I set aside,
that others may be praised and I unnoticed,
that others may be preferred to me in everything,
that others become holier than I, provided that I may
become as holy as I should.

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.


There is a saying, "Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it!" I've been praying this prayer for humility for some time now, and wasn't quite sure what to expect if God were to really answer my request for humility. I didn't realize that being knocked down a few prideful notches was just what I needed to grow closer to God, but He knew, and maybe He was glad that I finally asked for it!

After a long and tiring day, I walked in the back door of my house, hoping to sit back and relax for a few minutes. It was not to be. The red light on the answering machine kept flickering to let me know that a message was waiting and I just couldn't rest until I listened to it. It was the school principal, calling to let me know that one of my boys had gotten himself into some trouble, and he wanted me to come in for a meeting about it. Now my poor son, who hadn't been praying the prayer for humility, got a healthy dose of it right along with me, but I'm sure God knew that we both needed it.















As I walked past the school secretaries on my way to the principal's office, they smiled in their usual friendly way and greeted me with hellos, but in my mind, I saw something behind their smiles. It seemed as if they knew the reason why I was there, and they were almost gleeful to see that one of my children had finally done something bad enough to be in this uncomfortable predicament. Not only was I angry about my son's misbehavior, but sadly, I was also embarrassed by the fact the whole school seemed to be aware of what he had done.

For too long, the words "You have such great kids" have echoed in my ears and made me awfully proud. Now, my kids are great, even the one waiting for me in the principal's office, but truthfully, all kids are great, mine aren't any better than anyone else's, and it is through no credit of mine that my kids have gotten as far as they have in life unscathed by their misdeeds. It is only through the grace of God that they have been able to lead lives of exemplary behavior in the world outside the confines of our home.

So I thank God for this opportunity to take off my prideful mask and reveal to the world that my family and I struggle with sin and naughty behavior just like everybody else does. And I thank God for the opportunity to attend daily Mass and receive His precious body in Holy Communion each day so that we are able to carry Him with us wherever we go, knowing that He will keep us from ever straying too far beyond redemption. I also thank God for the opportunity to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, without which, our sins would eat at our souls and leave us in empty misery.

Thank you, God, for making us all the same...your precious children who have so much to learn and such a long way to go to perfection in You. Amen.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Few Quiet Moments

carving out space in my day
just a few quiet moments
that aren't crammed with work and worry
a little spot where a dream can grow
a little time where God can speak
and my soul can listen

it only takes a few quiet moments
and I can breathe again
can focus my blurred vision
can remember what's important,

in those few quiet moments
I remember that God loves me
and with His love
I can love others
deeply, profoundly

a glance can show that love
a gentle smile can bring it out of others
a robust embrace can melt it out of my heart
and bring it flowing in tears of gratitude from my eyes
and it only takes a few quiet moments

I am full of love
both given and received
I feel it in my heart and
in the stillness of my soul
and I am able to continue with my day
with simply a few quiet moments of prayer

Time Machine

"Going to confession is cool. It's like having your own time machine and you can travel back in time to erase the things you shouldn't have done." Joe Bender, 13 years old





















I enter the box,
heart racing just a bit
nervously wondering if I will forget
the sins I want to release.

Making the sign of the cross
with the priest instantly calms me.
I know that sin is something of which we are all guilty,
the priest takes his turn at confession, too.

I take a deep breath and begin,
soon my words are tripping over themselves
racing to get out of my system
and I end with the words-"I am truly sorry."

Now it's my turn to listen carefully
as the priest gently consoles me with words of advice
to help me live a holy life
and offers a penance to atone for my faults.

I recite an Act of Contrition
and the words I long for finally come-
"May the Lord grant you pardon and peace
and I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

I step out of the time machine
to a new life of peace
cleansed of my guilt and ready to perform my penance.
Stepping back in time, I resolve to sin no more.

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marked









I receive the ashes that label me as His child, His own.

The dust flakes down into my eyes, flirting with my lashes and
blurring my vision of worldly things, reminding me that the
spiritual realm can often contain that which is dirty, dusty and dark.

I let the ash that marks me settle deep within my soul,
allowing it to mingle with the sorrow and joy that God's love
has carefully placed within my life.

The sorrow and joy churn the dark ashes,
using their holiness to create something pure,
preparing them for their presentation to the Lord in Heaven.

I am marked as His own and will carry that mark
from my forehead to my soul
beyond this season of Lent and into forever.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Milk Grotto






















The Milk Grotto in Bethlehem is where the Holy Family took shelter during Herod's slaughter of the Innocents. According to tradition, it is believed that while Mary was nursing the infant Jesus, a drop of her milk fell to the floor of the cave, turning the rock white. Many pregnant and lactating women come to the Milk Grotto in the belief that the chalky white powder found in the grotto has healing properties that will help with fertility, childbirth and lactation.

A Milk Grotto Shrine can be found in St. Augustine, Florida in the United States. Our Lady of La Leche is venerated here and a statue of the Virgin nursing the infant Jesus is the centerpiece of the shrine. The Shrine was built by Spanish settlers who honored Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery after a nobleman's wife and baby were spared from death during childbirth due to Our Lady's intercession.

This week I will be attending a Certified Lactation Consultant training session to improve my skills and obtain certification as a lactation consultant so that I may further assist the nursing mothers and babies in my care at the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinic where I work. I will be praying for the intercession of our Lady of La Leche so that my experience will be fruitful and will allow me to be of more assistance to those mothers who struggle to breastfeed their babies.






















Oh Beautiful Mother of my Lord,
you fed the infant Jesus with the bounty
of your abundant milk,
providing both nourishment and love

to your sweet babe.
Please look after all mothers

who long to follow your natural example
by feeding their own little ones with
the gift of their sweet milk
so that their babies will grow

to be healthy and strong.
But most of all, through the bond of nursing,
bring both mother and child to know that they are deeply loved
by each other, by you, Blessed Mother, and by God. Amen.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

World Marriage Day and St. Valentine's










Marriage Prayer

Heavenly Bride Groom,
we come before you as husband and wife.
Pleading this day for the necessary graces to carry on
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
until the hour of our death.
I promise to be the guardian of my spouse in all things spiritual
so that someday we may enter the Kingdom together.
Bless us this day, body and soul, so that one day
we may be worthy of celebrating with you
at the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Amen.


Isn't it terribly romantic that World Marriage Day and St. Valentine's Day fall on the same day this year? Our youth group will be visiting the nursing home to share flowers and card with some of the residents and hopefully bring a little love to some lonely hearts. If we're lucky, Fr. Dave, our pastor, will invite all of the married couples to renew our wedding vows at Mass. I would marry Paul all over again, so I do hope we will be renewing our vows. He is such a sweetheart, romantic in ways I never imagined he would be when we were first married nearly nineteen years ago.

Paul is usually a hard rock guy. His favorite day of the week is when "House of Hair" is on the radio. Me, I prefer my music a bit more mellow. The other day I came home from some errands and a wonderful song was playing repeatedly on the CD player in the kitchen. It was "For My Wedding" by Don Henley. I had never heard it before. Paul came upstairs from the basement and asked me if I liked the song, and I answered that I loved it! He mentioned that he felt that as the years passed, we were becoming more alike, because he loved the song, too, and it wouldn't have normally been in his taste repertoire. To me, there is nothing more romantic than growing old with your spouse, mellowing together like fine wine, understanding one another without having to use words. To know, live, work, pray and grow together over the years is a beautiful blessing from God, one that I hope I never take for granted. Here are some of the lyrics to "For My Wedding"...

For my wedding, I will dress in black
And never again will I look back
Ah, my dark angels we must part
For I've made a sanctuary of my heart

To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray
On my wedding day

For my wedding, I don't want violins
Or sentimental songs about thick and thin
I want a moment of silence and a moment of prayer
For the love we'll need to make it in the world out there

To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray
On my wedding day
On my wedding day

On this World Marriage Day and St. Valentine's Day, I join with Don Henley and pray that we will all want what we have and take what we are given with grace, regardless of our state in life. For as long as we are seeking to know the will of God and serve Him in all things, all people-children, adults, married, single or religious-will be living a life of grace, and that is the ultimate romance, the divine romance with God, our creator, who loves us more than any human ever could.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baby Driver

"Well they call him Baby Driver, and once upon a pair of wheels, he hits the road and he's gone." Simon and Garfunkel





















I'm now asking for the intercession and protection of St. Christopher as my oldest son, John, received his driver's license today. I am gratefully looking for his assistance in shuttling the rest of the kids around to their various basketball practices, choir practices and play dates, and running various household errands, but I am sure that Paul and I will never rest easy again! And, will I ever see my car keys again?


Prayer for Motorists


Grant me O Lord a steady hand and watchful eye.
That no one shall be hurt as I pass by.
Thou gavest life, I pray no act of mine may take away
or mar that gift of Thine.
Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear me company,
From the evils of fire and all calamity.
Teach me to use my car for others' need;
Nor miss through love of undue speed
the beauty of the world; that thus I may
with joy and courtesy go on my way.
St. Christopher, holy patron of travellers,
protect me and lead me safely to my destiny.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In the Hand of God

"I have carved you on the palm of my hand." Isaiah 49:15


Have you ever watched somebody whittle wood, carving a plain stick or block of wood into a precious work of art? It takes tremendous talent, a keen eye and a steady hand. It requires forethought and patience. It is a wonderful skill that can result in an heirloom that will be treasured for generations to come.

God, in His wisdom, has carved each of us into the palm of his hand, where we are always nestled, reminding Him of our presence and reminding us of His tender love. When I think about how He has placed certain people in our lives, I realize that it is no accident. He carefully carved those who are closest to us to be an important part of our lives.

Lying next to my husband at night, listening to him breath in that deep, relaxed and peaceful way that dreamers do, I realize that Paul and I have been carved side by side in the hand of God. He will always be right beside me no matter what, because he has been carefully placed there by God, carved out of soft, earthy-scented wood.

Sometimes, we rub each other the wrong way and we bring out sharp splinters in one another that are aggravated by our close proximity. We poke and jab at one another with abrasive words or sharp glances and everything feels scratchy and rough. It leaves a distance between us until the hand of God curves inward and pulls us close together again. With a few kind words and gentle touches that act like loving strokes of sandpaper, those splinters are smoothed out and we can feel the gentle hand of God pulsing with the lifeblood that created us and made us for each other.

My prayer for today and always, is that the hand of God will hold all of humanity close, cradling us in the warmth of His gentle touch and carrying us home to eternal joy right next to His loving heart.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Listening for God at the Basketball Game






















-sweaty players breathing hard
-shoes squeaking
-coaches yelling
-fans cheering
-buzzers sounding
-referees whistling
-small children whining
-popcorn popping

then

-sudden silence... as player number 12
stands at the free-throw line...
he makes the sign of the cross
before bending knees and
tossing ball...
and “swish” is the only sound heard
before the crowd applauds-

The sounds of a basketball game carry the echo of God’s voice.
I can almost hear Him speaking through the din, saying,
“I am so proud of these boys who play so hard
and give their all for the sport they love.”

When the game is over, Lord,
bless their tired muscles
and grant them rest
until they play again. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Sweet Valentine for the Lord














the sweet sight
of fresh, white
snowflakes gently falling
fills the sky

the sweet scent
of heart-shaped valentine
sugar cookies
fills the house

the sweet sound
of children's voices
as they clear snow from the sidewalks
fills the air

the sweet feel
of my husband's arms
wrapped around me in a tender embrace
fills my heart

the sweet taste of hot chocolate
coats our throats
with warmth and cheer while it
fills our stomachs

but my soul remains empty
waiting for my sweet Lord
to fill the longing
that only He can fill

come quickly Lord
satisfy the ache
that keeps this hollow space wanting You
fill me with Your sweet love
Amen

Silent Man

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint." Proverbs 17:27













I remember his wrinkled hands,
fingertips calloused from glucose testing,
nails yellowed with age,
hint of dirt beneath them from working in the garden.

Forty-three years old the day I was born
an old man, and yet a new father
ninth time around for him, an expert father by now.

I suppose he expected me to be like all the rest,
wild and naughty;
and I was-
I made sure to cause him to lose his hair,
lose his sleep, possibly lose some sanity, too.

Like all my siblings before me
he raised me the same-
quietly, with few words.

A pat on the head each morning
while eating my lumpy oatmeal
was the love he gave me
on his way to work;
"bye now" and he was gone-

-until he was too sick to work in the factory,
too sick to drive a cab,
too sick to spend much time outside of the hospital.

Months passed in diabetic comas
my quiet father, now silent;
wild daughter, now invisible;
shaken by the threat that dad won't live long.

Returning home with a brain damaged by his illness
his tolerance wore thin,
wild daughter was now "damn kid!"
and those hands came at me with swats
instead of pats.

The threat of near-death that hung over my head
never arrived and he lived to be eighty-three.
In his old age, I silently sat with him;
watched those weathered hands
finger the rosary, often losing track of his place
as he would doze off to sleep.

Finally the day came when those hands could do no more-
no more finger pokes for glucose tests,
no more gardening,
no more cooking oatmeal,
no more love pats,
no more swats,
no more fingering the rosary.

I held his worn and wrinkled hand,
feeling the bones beneath the dry skin
noticed him squeeze my hand as I whispered
"I love you, Dad."

I watched as the silent man
whose hands were now silent, too,
held a rosary without praying,
as the lid was the closed
and the silent man, was no more.

(Missing my dad, and noticing how sometimes, my Heavenly Father can be as silent as my earthly father had been.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fatima and the Apostleship of Prayer

It's such a blessing to meet a blogging friend in real life, and this past Sunday I had the opportunity to do just that! Fr. James Kubicki, who is the head of the National Apostleship of Prayer and writer of the blog Offer It Up, gave a talk about his recent trip to Fatima to our local chapter of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF). I haven't had the chance to attend one of the local CUF meetings before, but this time, when I saw who was speaking, I knew I had to make room in my schedule to attend. I am so glad that I did!

Fr. Kubicki had an antiquated copy of an Apostleship of Prayer Card from 1909 in which the intention was to pray for Portugal. I found that to be extremely fascinating considering all of the miraculous events which took place in that country within a few years after that prayer card came out. Another fascinating tidbit that Fr. Kubicki shared was regarding the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. After he had healed from his injuries, the great Pope journeyed to Fatima with the bullet that had been meant to kill him. He offered the bullet as a gift to be added to a special crown that was on display in Fatima. Everyone wondered whether the bullet would blend in with the crown of gold, or would it stand out and look inappropriate. Believe it or not, the bullet fit perfectly into the crown, as if the bullet and the crown belonged together!

My favorite part of Fr. Kubicki's talk didn't consist of miracles or wonders, but rather in something very ordinary. Fr. Kubicki shared an anecdote from his college days when he had the chance to meet with a well loved priest, Fr. Cletus Healy. Fr. Kubicki asked Fr. Healy what he thought the Third Secret of Fatima might be (at that time it had not yet been revealed). Fr. Healy wisely answered, "Don't worry about the third secret; it's enough to worry about the first two! Work on prayer, fasting and penance for the Conversion of Russia!" Wise words indeed! Don't worry about the future or focus on the extraordinary. We would all do well to focus on daily prayer and penance, works of love and mercy and uniting our souls to God.

To learn more about Fr. James Kubicki and the Apostleship of Prayer, visit Offer it Up or the Apostleship of Prayer webpage.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Treasures in the Written Word

I usually have two or three books going at the same time and nothing makes me happier than to get lost in a good book. It rarely happens that I would say that all of the recent books I have read and am reading, have touched me deeply and brought me joy like these few have...

It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Archbishop Dolan. His newest book "Doers of the Word" is a real treat! It's a compilation of short, easy to read stories told in his down to earth style. I recognized many of these from his "Living our Faith" columns for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Reading this book was like visiting with an old friend. Here's a little sample...

"I'm glad we have a Lord whose heart can break, be wounded with thorns, and burn with passionate love and mercy for us. That's one reason that each morning I pray as I was taught in second grade:

All for Thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come!"


I also found great meaning in "Searching for and Maintaining Peace" by Fr. Jacque Philippe. At a time when I have been struggling to find peace, this book has helped me to believe that peace is possible for everybody. Some words of wisdom from within these pages...

"But when one is close to God, loves Him, desires nothing but to please and obey Him, the devil, while he tempts him still with evil, he tempts him even further by good. This means that he makes use of our desire to do good to trouble us. He makes this by making us scrupulous, nor by presenting us with a certain good that we must realize but which is beyond our present strength, or which is not what God asks of us-all to discourage us or to cause us to lose our peace. He wants to convince us that we are not doing enough or that what we are doing we are not really doing for the love of God, or that the Lord is not happy with us. It creates all kinds of scruples and worries in the conscience which we should purely and simply ignore, while throwing ourselves into the arms of God like small children."

Finally, although I am just beginning it, I have to mention "The Handbook for Catholic Moms" by Lisa Hendey of Catholicmom.com. It is a beautifully practical and inspiring book that will leave every mom, regardless of her circumstances, feeling confident in her vocation to serve God by serving her family.

Happy Reading!

Praise when God says "No"

"Nonsense! Being a wife and mother is good enough for you, like your own mother!"
Fr. Fitzgibbon to Carol in "Going My Way" when she told him she wanted to be a singer.

It's been a while since I wrote about my desire to establish a Spiritual Motherhood Apostolate here in Milwaukee. My friend Marge and I had plans to connect a mother who would pray for every bishop, priest, seminarian, and religious brother in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. That meant that we needed 800 women to sign up to become spiritual mothers, and we wanted to accomplish this before the end of the Year of the Priest. I know that many of you have been helping me with your prayers and words of encouragement and support for this endeavor.

We finally received word from Archbishop Listecki, and he does not give his approval for this apostolate at this time. He would like to focus on continuing to enhance the programs and devotions that are already in place in Milwaukee such as rosaries and Holy Hours so that these will be strengthened and renewed.

We are blessed with a wise and wonderful new Archbishop and I trust that God in His wisdom is acting through Archbishop Listecki with what is in the best interests for everybody. That doesn't mean that we can't all continue to pray for those priests and seminarians whom we know and love as well as those who we believe are struggling in their vocation. The more people who pray for our priests, the stronger our church will be.

I thank you, dear reader, for the blessings of your prayers and encouragement and I praise God for His many blessings in our lives! Our prayers were not wasted. "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 I believe that this "no" from Archbishop Listecki was God's way of telling me that being a wife and mother is all that He asks me to be and truly, it is a beautiful vocation, it is more than enough! Truthfully, I am relieved because I know that God can read my heart and He knew that I was worried that I might have been trying to take on more than I could handle at this time in my life. Our God is an awesome God and I praise Him whether He says yes or no! My life is in His beautiful hands now and forever. Praise God!

Thanks to Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart for this MEME.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Evening Blog Post

















My very favorite day this past month was the day when I felt God's love very deeply for a few precious hours, it was the day that he gifted me with the "White Way to Delight" and so I will once again share this post and recall the joy of that day. Come with me, won't you? And join in Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post for more fun!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Seven Quick Takes-Wisdom from the Blogs












Every once in a while, I read something that resonates so deeply within my soul, that the speed which with my breath escapes my mouth makes me wonder if I'd been punched in the gut by an invisible person. These quotes found on the blogs and from other sources qualify for those breathless reactions in me...

1. "Reaching out to Jesus feels like hearing that some guy likes you and wants to get to know you, but never calls. You sit by the phone, wondering what you did wrong." From Destry on Jennifer's Conversion Diary, I Sought but I Didn't Find,Now What? She was coming from a non-believing background with this comment, and although I have been a lifelong believer, it amazes me that I have often felt the exact same way!

2. Archbishop Dolan never fails to draw me in with his magnetic words. This quote is from his experience in Haiti and can be found in his column "To Whom Shall We Go?"

"The dialect God most comprehends comes not from lips but from a heart broken and eyes crying, because God hears tears...He became one of us in Jesus, and in Him we have a God who Himself cries, whose Sacred Heart is broken with sadness."

3. My longtime friend Katherine, the one who first encouraged me to blog, has a very exhausting post on her blog "Inside Out" about what life is like racing around with four children. I'm including the comment I left on her post, because something about my husband's perspective always makes me smile...

* Woke up by Delaney about 9am
* Drive Connor to his friend's
* Drive Delaney to her friend's
* Pick up a treat for Kelly
* Pick up Connor
* Take Connor to basket ball practice
* Pick up Kevin from his friend's
* Take Kevin home
* Pick up Connor from practice
* Pick up Delaney from her friend's
* Drop off Connor at Basketball
* Ricky takes Kelly to swim practice
* Finish dinner
* Pick up Kelly from swim
* Study with Kevin
* Put everyone to bed
* Park the car in back...Goodnight!


Anne said...

I shouldn't let Paul read your blog, his mind is always in the dark somehow. He wants to know why Ricky took Kelly to swim, but you picked her up. What happened to Ricky? Did he drown?


Now isn't that what you were wondering? Me, I was just trying to catch my breath from Katherine's busy day, but not my husband, he always focuses on those little details!

4. Upon the recommendation of Michelle at Always Room for More, I just finished reading "Saint Mary Magdalene-Her Life and Times" by Edith Filliette. Great book! I was amazed to learn that when St. Mary Magdalene's body was exhumed, "a small piece of skin was found attached to the brow. It was smooth, clear and lighter than the remainder of the body, and was the size of two fingertips. As it resembled live skin, it was subsequently named "Do Not Touch Me"-the words spoken by Christ to Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection;it was believed to have been the touch of the risen Lord on the brow of Mary Magdalene."

"This small particle of skin remained unchanged for another 500 years, and no suitable explanation was ever found for the phenomenon. Five centuries after its discovery, it finally detached itself from the brow, and was placed in a separate reliquary."

I had always found this part of the gospel to be tremendously discouraging. If I were Mary Magdalene hearing Jesus say "Do not touch me" I'd be crushed! Every ounce of my body and soul would be aching to hold him! But reading this, has given me a different perspective. I'm sure He wanted to hold her as well, but couldn't in his state of awaiting for the resurrection. Do you think she could continue to feel that touch to her forehead for her 30 remaining years on earth?

5. One of my long-time favorite blogs is La Vie Graphite. He always has deeply contemplative posts and his most recent offering really got to me, not only with the gorgeous flowers on this post but also with these words... "Through gloom and defeat, find unfettered graces. When I cannot remember God’s presence, that surely doesn’t mean I’ve been forgotten. Indeed, finding encouragement in despair is hard enough- yet I don’t give up trying to be the encouragement I seek. In this way, I can help effect my own renewal as well as be an ingredient in that of others. To bloom in the desert is to be able to vary one’s vistas, to see the flowers grow through the ruins. Locate the bright prospects- or listen for them."

6. I have always found lots of inspiration at the Creighton University Daily Reflections site, and one of my favorite reflection writers is Daniel Patrick O'Reilly, a father of seven sons. I was so thrilled to see that he left a comment on my blog this past week, as I had no idea he was following it! If you are looking for a daily dose of spiritual uplifting, I highly recommend this site! Here's a taste of Daniel's reflection from yesterday's Gospel Mark 6:7-13..."The story in Mark has more messages in it than you can shake a stick at. First, Jesus sends the disciples out two by two. Why? Wouldn’t it be more efficient and cover more ground if you sent them out individually? I think there are two reasons for this. Jesus has given the disciples a daunting task. It would be easy to get discouraged. Having an encourager along is important. Second, if I were out healing people by myself, it would be easy to start taking all the credit myself. Having someone to hold me accountable is important. Part of the reason we worship together is to encourage each other and hold each other accountable."

7. Finally, I leave you with this precious comment left by "In Prayerful Reflection" to my post about Jesus casting Legion out of the man in the tombs from this past Monday's Gospel(Luke 4:21-30) "It is over this that I find myself praying. How often are we, the "holy church" broken and unhealed because we do not have faith, and we do not see Jesus where he is, because he appears among those whom we think are not as "holy," who are not in "the true church," whose practice is different from our own.

I find it very humbling."


Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for this MEME.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Anointing, Hope and Vitamin D

"The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." Mark 6:13


My hope has been reborn through a wonderful doctor. Her healing hands and compassionate heart, her gentle listening and probing questions have led me from a dark and fearful place to the brink of light that will be my salvation.

Yesterday, I was told that my Vitamin D levels are extremely low, despite the fact that I have been taking 2000 units daily for the past 4 months. My level is a 23 when the normal range is over 35. So I left her office with a prescription for a megadose of Vitamin D, 50,000 units to be taken 3 times a month in addition to the 2000 units daily. Wow! She also took pity on my anxiety and racing thoughts, my sleeplessness and my complete despair and the fact that the antidepressants that I had been taking were causing side effects that left me constantly tremulous. Some changes in medication should hopefully do the trick.

But you know me, I can't accept that physical healing comes from humans alone because I believe that it is truly God who is the one who heals through humans. He is the one who has blessed me with a brilliant and kind doctor, a compassionate spiritual director who will listen to my struggles to find God in all of this, and a beautiful family who constantly comforts me with their love and stands by me through thick and thin. It is God who worked through my pastor, Fr. Dave this morning, as he took the time after Mass to anoint me with the Oil of the Sick, in addition to blessing my throat yesterday.

Through all of these wonderful people and so many more who listen to my woes, and read about them here on this blog, I have hope that I will be healed, that I will be normal again, and that I will have so much more of myself to give to others instead of forever taking for myself.

So with the oil from Anointing still glistening on my forehead, I praise God for using this depression to teach me some valuable life lessons, for bringing people to me to help me cope and for loving me deeply through it all, even and especially, when I didn't believe He could love me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scenes from the Life of Christ

Michael at Reach Paradise has a great new meditative MEME going called Fly on the Wall! Pick three stories from Christ's life and reflect on them as if you were really there. You cannot choose His birth or any time period from the Last Supper on.

Here's the question:
If you could go back and watch any hour of Christ's life, which hour would you choose and why?

Here are my top three:

Three Scenes From the Life of Christ


1. I think that I can most relate to the hidden years of Jesus life. Those years must have been so simple, maybe even a bit like my own. Whenever I meditate upon the crucified Christ, his bloodied knees always stand out to me. More than the crown that pierces his head or the nails in his hands and feet, his knees cry out to me! How many times might Mary have knelt at the side of the child Jesus and bandaged scraped and bloody knees from the falls that he must have taken as an exuberant and energetic child? In my own years of mothering small children, I have winced with them as I applied antibiotic ointment, I've gone through countless boxes of band-aids, and tried to kiss the pain away more times than I can count. It comforts me to know that Mary and Jesus must have gone through that same ritual many times as well.

2. I suppose it sounds gory, but I would like to have been a witness as Legion was cast out of the man in the cemetery and was sent into the swine who then hurled themselves off the cliff. One thing has always bothered me about this scene, and really I suppose it is such a little detail, but I always thought that swine were unclean animals and that Jewish people were not allowed to eat pork for this reason. I always wondered why any farmer would raise swine and what they could have been used for if not for eating. Also, I can identify with the man who was invaded by Legion. After he was healed, he wanted to stay with Jesus, but Jesus said no. I think it would be less painful to go mad and beat myself with rocks than to be rejected by Jesus. I wish I could have been there to comfort his broken heart when Jesus refused to let the healed man stay with Him.

3. My all-time favorite bible scene is that of Mary Magdalene sobbing at Christ's feet and drying her tears and the ointment with her hair. I long to see Jesus gently reaching down to hold her and bless her with His forgiveness. It must have been an amazing scene, especially since from that day forward, she never sinned again. I don't know about you, but no matter how many times I am forgiven, I always seem to fall back into those same old patterns that sent me seeking forgiveness in the first place. Maybe the next time I go to confession, I should bring an alabaster jar of aromatic nard with me!

Visit Reach Paradise and join in with your own reflections!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Brushing Away the Burdens
















The gloom of winter holds me fast
my spirits sag like the tree branches
under the weight of the snow

But five young faces watch me,
care for me,
worry about me

they want to brush that heavy weight
off my heart like they brush the snow
from the branch of the tree

they reach out with smiles,
words of concern and love,
and gentle arms that wrap
around my coldness and bring me warmth

It almost always works
and for a while at least,
I am clear from worry and hurt
and I feel a bit lighter,
my burdens are brushed away

Thanks to my wonderful son, Joe, who always knows how to cheer me up! He knows I spend too much time at the computer, so he reaches me through email and sends me some smiles. I hope these brush away whatever burdens weigh you down as well, and helps you to see some joy in life...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02zOk_LQCkY&feature=related
click this link and be happy momma! ps: you can click these three links too if you're still sad :) smile mommy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdzdw3V99hI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQNqk54HPdE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CZumDdZb84&feature=related
pps I Love You

Catholic Women's Conference-A Day of Grace and Humility

On Saturday, January 31st, I was greatly blessed to attend a local Catholic Women's Conference which was attended by nearly 2000 women in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The speakers were outstanding, my experience of confession was blessed and the time spent perusing displays and praying in adoration was beautiful.

For me, it was a day of grace to hear speakers talk about how important it is to be a woman and what a wonderful vocation it is to be a mother. I was uplifted and edified. Lately, I have been struggling in my role of mother (don't we all from time to time?). I was feeling far from perfect as my mind is often a million miles away during family times like dinner, when I should be focused on and connected with my husband and children. I had the opportunity to speak with a fabulous priest (Fr. Paul Hartmann) during confession, and he offered a wonderful suggestion to me which I hope to continue daily, forever. He suggested that I pray a decade of the rosary, and on each Hail Mary bead, I focus specifically on my husband and children and then choose four others for the last four Hail Mary's (I chose my four Godchildren), and while I was praying the Hail Mary, I should think about how that person most needs me and what it is that I can specifically do for that person to show them how much I love them. What a great idea!

It was also a day of grace because I met Marge Fenelon, an author I have long admired and have written about in the past(author of "When's God Gonna Show Up?). She left me with some very encouraging words. She told me that it took her twenty years to get to be a published author with the blessings and support of Archbishop Timothy Dolan. She encouraged me to be patient in my writing endeavors and for that, I am very grateful.

It was also a day of grace because I was finally able to meet Therese of The Musings of a Mom. A few months ago we discovered that we live close to one another and ever since then, I've wondered if we would ever meet. Who knew that we would find each other in that crowd of 2000 women?

So, here's where the humility comes in. In the past I have written about our wonderful deacon at my parish, Deacon Dave, who happens to be deaf. I never expected to see him at a woman's conference, but there he was! I was so eager to say hello when I saw him walking past, that I ran to catch up to him. The floor was slippery, and as I turned the corner, I fell! I was fine, but so very embarrassed! This happened before I met Therese. As I was picking myself up off the floor I was thinking, I bet she saw me fall and wouldn't that be a fine way to meet someone that I have long admired? (She didn't see my fall-another grace!)

Another humiliating experience happened very early in the day. Our new Archbishop Listecki was the first speaker of the day. When he was through, I left the conference hall to scout out some coffee and I saw him standing at the end of the hallway. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet him and welcome him to Milwaukee. He was talking to someone for such a long time that I was beginning to think I should go back to the speaker hall and save meeting him for another time. As I was waiting, my friend, Fr. Jim Lobacz, who is the vocations director at the Seminary, was there and we began to visit with one another. (It was his job to assist the Archbishop and keep him on schedule.) While we were talking, I leaned back against what I thought was the wall, but it was actually a bubbler (what some know as a water fountain)! Suddenly, I felt my back getting wet as I had turned the bubbler on with my purse! So, sweet Fr. Jim was trying to help me dry off my coat and I'm sure my face was a hundred shades of red! Finally, my turn came to speak to our new Archbishop and I was greatly rewarded with a hug of welcome from that wonderful man! A grace indeed!

I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to spend a day sharing faith with so many beautiful women who are all deeply in love with God and I look forward to next year when I can experience it all over again. Only this time, I hope it is a day of grace minus all of the humility!