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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


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.

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


-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

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 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!

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!