Becoming Holy

Until we meet again…

Jordan's December Visit 059

Ed, Jordan and Rose~December ’13 Visit

What does it all mean? What is our journey here on earth if not a journey of change? Fall has always been the season that inspires me to want to become a better person~a better version of myself. It is also a time that calls to mind Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

There is a time for everything, but it doesn’t mean we will always be ready for the events that happen in our lives. This past year has held so much change and so much loss. We experienced temporary “loss” this past year as Jordan entered the Sisters of Life. In June, Sr. Jordan Rose, (who was then just Jordan) came home for her last visit before the Novitiate. It was so hard to have her for one week, knowing she would not set foot in our home for at least two years. We are blessed to get to travel to see her this Fall and then again a few times in her second year of novitiate, but there is something about knowing someone isn’t “coming home.”  Little did we know that sadness would come in a new form before the month was over.

 Just eight days after Jordan boarded the plane back to NYC, our brother-in-law, Ed, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. This was a tragic and incomprehensible event. We all know the day will come when we will die, but I think most of us expect it to be later rather than sooner. We expect some sort of “heads up” or pre-existing condition to soften the loss. This was not the case for Ed. He and Joe’s sister, Rose, had just celebrated their 40th Anniversary the December before.  He was retired and enjoying helping people out on projects. He was in good physical shape and nothing would have made us suspect our time with him was limited. 

This brings me back to my opening~what does it all mean? So much pain and suffering. Watching Joe’s sister mourn the loss of her husband, their three children hurting without their dad, and all the grandchildren wishing “Papa” was still here. I look at the loss and realize the what a tremendous gift Ed was. I cannot begin to describe the empty space he leaves behind. The gift of Ed to his family was beyond measure. He touched hearts and lives in many ways~this was made evident by the full church at Ed’s funeral and by the many cards, calls and visitors his family received. It remains evident as I see the many lives he touched in our community. It was not only his wife, children and grandchildren, but his siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, co-workers and people throughout our community.  We are each saddened at our loss.

It was hard that Jordan was not able to return for Ed’s funeral. We called her and gave her the news.  I know she immediately went to prayer on behalf of the family. This is what she wrote to us~

“I’ve been praying so much for you all, for Rose, for Uncle Ed, for Grandma and Grandpa…Grandma said the funeral was beautiful.  I’m so glad there was a great turn out. Ed was such a good man.  He really was. On the day of his funeral, I remembered how HE was the one who held me at Jennifer’s funeral.  I’ve always loved him because of that. Please let Rose know how much I love her and I’m praying for her.” 

You see almost 19 years before on the day of our little Jennifer Rose’s funeral, Jordan was only 4 years old. She was worn out by the events of the days between Jennifer’s leaving us and this day of her funeral Mass and burial. Somehow, before Mass began, Uncle Ed had scooped Jordan up and she fell asleep on his shoulder. She stayed asleep on his shoulder throughout the entire Mass and then again at the cemetery. That’s the kind of guy Ed was.  He didn’t need the spotlight. He stepped in quietly where needed and showed his love in unassuming ways. He made a huge impact on Jordan that day and he certainly was a grace for our family. I can still picture in my mind’s eye, that precious little four year old, in her bright orange flowered dress, sound asleep in Uncle Ed’s arms. 

Ed loved his nieces and nephews and enjoyed making kids laugh. He had a way of making you feel like you were very important when he spoke with you. Each of my children has “Uncle Ed” stories of special moments he spent with them. We were at lunch a few weeks ago and Max looked up at me and asked, “I wonder what Uncle Ed is the patron saint of?” I got a huge grin on my face as I realized that Max is still thinking about Uncle Ed and making connections between us on Earth and the saints in Heaven. I asked Max what he thought. “Fun.” Max replied.  I think Uncle Ed is the patron saint of fun.” Then he paused and added with a sparkle in his eye, “or pranks, or kids…or fun and pranks and kids!”  This instantly brought out stories from each of the kids and the special memories they shared with Uncle Ed.

I, for one, could use a little more fun in life.  Especially this time of year, I get caught up in loss and grief and remembering. So today, I think I will have a chat with Uncle Ed, the patron saint of Fun, and ask him to help me out!  Today is Ed’s 65th birthday and I’m pretty sure there is an amazing party going on in Heaven.  I selfishly imagine that Jennifer found Uncle Ed right away (along with his parents and family who got there ahead of him) and that she has been spending lots of time with him. I’ve no doubt those in Heaven are having the most amazing celebration of Ed’s life!   I pray that all of us who are missing Ed will take a moment and celebrate his life by doing something he would have done.  Laugh. Tell a joke. Pay undivided attention to a child. Play with a little person in your life. Reach out in a quiet way to someone who needs you. Remember to have fun. 

he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”~Revelation 21:4

Happy Birthday, Ed!  We love you and miss you. Until we meet again…

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Hunger Games

Our parish youth group participated in a 30 hour fast this past weekend. A powerful journey for them and for our community as a whole. What does a 30 hour fast look like?  I will share the view from our home.  Our daughter, Madison, chose to join in the fast and connected with her friend, Bridget. They spent the night before the Fast at Bridget’s home baking and enjoying treats. The fast actually began at 3 A.M. so the girls dutifully planned to eat just prior to that.  They had been blessed by the delivery of some Krispy Kreme donuts and managed to eat three a piece just before the three o’clock morning hour!  (Carb up before starving, right?)  

The youth met in Keuterville at 10 A.M. and the event began. I am going to have to rely on Maddie for specifics. Read her blog, here, to learn more from her perspective!  At noon the youth met down town at City Park to pray the World Rosary with members of our community.  Our family joined in and took joy in seeing so many youth carrying rosaries and banners and praying for peace and for our country.

The next morning, at Mass, the youth put on a skit and it spoke volumes to my heart. A girl was standing near a big box with a small hole cut out.  She prayed for food and a hand reached out of the cutout and gave her an apple.  She was so thankful for this “apple machine.” Another girl came up, obviously starving, and asked for food.  She was tired, weak and hungry. The first girl would not share her apple, but instead suggested that they pray for another one. After praying, a bell rang and another apple was handed out of the machine. The first girl took it and the hungry girl asked if she could have it since she was so hungry and the first girl had two.  “No,” the first girl replied, “I might need this to eat tomorrow. Maybe you should pray for yourself.” The other girl prayed, the bell rang, and another apple appeared. The first girl again took the apple.  This time she refused to share it because she needed to take it to market to get cash so she could keep her apple machine in good repair. The apple machine was ringing and handing out apple after apple. The girl couldn’t hold them all in her arms yet she continued to refuse to share with the hungry girl.  She suggested that the hungry girl get a job, pray harder, quit being lazy, get her own apple machine and decided that maybe God didn’t like the hungry girl. The starving girl kept her faith in God even when she was sent on her way.  The irony at then end was the first girl getting on her phone and “Twittering” how blessed she was.  “#Jesusismyco-pilot. #Feelingblessed.  She never shared of her wealth and yet she felt she was following Christ. 

It was powerful for me because we are SO blessed in America. It is easy to want to save for tomorrow, to believe that we can do more good by building our personal wealth, by believing that people are lazy or need to try harder. The apple machine effectively portrayed wealth and abundance. The first girl demonstrated a lack of personal responsibility to those around her. The second girl kept her faith despite her hunger. Pope Francis has called for us to work to eradicate hunger. We can best begin in our own communities. The youth collected over $1000 for World Vision and Catholic Relief Services to help in a broader scale. 

Upon returning home, I could tell Madison had new awareness of the problem of hunger. Periodically she would comment, “We have it so good here.” Discussing further, she shared how her appreciation for food, water, lights, heat and all our blessings has increased. This would not be possible without experiencing hunger…the kind that comes from 30 hours without food. Building cardboard houses and having them rained on, begging for money from strangers at Church, playing games that replicate situations in Third World countries~each of these experiences helped build solidarity with the poor and homeless. 

Debbie Chicane, our Youth Minister, shared, “The fast gives our youth a chance to step outside themselves for a small amount of time to know what it is like to walk in the shoes of the less fortunate. Through understanding the needs of another, we are given a chance to be more of who God calls us to be~a true body of Christ, alive and active in the world. God is certainly present in the hunger, lessons, reflection, competitions, writing, prayers, laughter, stories, painting, begging, singing, and sacrificing.  God is in it all.”

I thank God for the gift of the 30 Hour Fast for our youth. I thank Him for letting them share this experience with our entire faith community. However, it is hard to know that there are many youth in the world for whom this is not an “experience.” It is their reality. Asking God to continue to bless the young people of the world~those who hunger and those who “hunger” to make a difference. 

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October Memories~Memory #1

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I’m missing a few people tonight…some I’ve known, some I knew for a brief while and some I’ve never met…and they all share October as the month of their Heavenly births.  One of them, Fr. Robb Keller, was my best friend in the world, outside of Prince Charming. Fr. Robb had a gift of love and a gift of JOY. We met him our first Sunday in Twin Falls, Idaho, at St. Edward’s parish. He was passionate, engaging, and a delight to meet! My soul was scarred and my heart was stony following the loss of little Jennifer just months before. He seemed to pick up on that and invited the Prince and I to dinner a few months after meeting us. We’d never been to such a nice restaurant nor had such engaging conversation as that night!

Our friendship grew from there. I began meeting with Fr. Robb for Spiritual Direction. He introduced me to amazing books and tapes (yes, cassettes!) from Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Karl Keating and more. I delved into “The Fire Within” by Thomas Dubay and fell in love with St. Teresa of Avila. I was drawn to daily Mass and joined the Liturgy Committee, where I met even more delightful friends. We began to feel a part of our St. Edward’s family. Fr. Robb knew how broken I was and was a listening ear when I needed to be sad about losing Jennifer. He listened without judgment or without admonishment. His only words were those of love. His daily homilies were short and sweet messages of how to live more like Christ.

I could go on and on…our family became very involved in the parish and enjoyed everyone we worked with. Fr. Robb was a source of pure JOY when we announced to him that we were expecting Madison. He said he already knew…that he could see a glowing light from my womb when I’d gone to receive Communion. I was not surprised. He had seen this with other women in our parish and had a deep connection with all his future “parishioners in the womb.”  

Fr. Robb was not well…he had COPD, most likely from years of smoking.  He was on the list for a lung transplant and was not able to act as full time pastor. The night before I went into labor, he called in an almost panic-like state.  “Please come to the Rectory,” he asked, “I need to pray over you.” Joe and I went to see him after Saturday night Mass.  Despite his struggle to breathe, he prayed an intense prayer for quite awhile over me and our baby~that we might be delivered safely. It was unsettling at first and then a tremendous peace came over me.  How interesting that I would go into labor the next day~Father’s Day~and have baby Madison and a serious hemorrhage during delivery. I knew in my heart that Fr. Robb’s prayer had delivered us from evil. 

His health continued to decline and soon I was expecting little Nicole.  More prayers and more joy.  He was now in Denver healing from his lung transplant.  She was born in March and Fr. Robb miraculously returned home just in time to baptize her at our house on Divine Mercy Sunday. Between the four girls, Fr. Robb performed two First Reconciliations, two First Communions and two Baptisms. He was a conduit of grace for us. 

Following his lung transplant, Fr. Robb was transferred to a smaller parish not too far away.  We continued to enjoy Friday night gatherings, phone calls and visits. I continued with spiritual direction and when I shared with him news of another pregnancy, he told me, “The Blessed Mother and St. Elizabeth are very happy. They are both smiling.” I asked him why and he did not know. This image gave me hope and strength to cope with morning sickness. A few months later, it confused me when I went to my regular exam and there was not heart beat. Joe was out of town and the roads were terrible. I didn’t know what to do, so I called my dear friend. I will never forget how he ministered to me during that dark time of loss. We waited a week and scheduled another ultrasound and a D & C. I prayed for a miracle but did not get the one I was seeking. Everything went black. I had no hope. I simply could not cope with another loss after Jennifer’s death. Each night, around six o’clock, the phone would ring.  It was always Fr. Robb.  He would say, “Precious heart, don’t say a word. I want you to know what a beautiful mom you are…what a beautiful wife and friend you are…”  He would continue on with positive messages for two to three minutes, give me his love and gently hang up. I would GRIP the phone, totally mute, with tears streaming down my face and TRY to believe that any of what he said was true. It was one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been given.

Sadly, there were rough days ahead for Fr. Robb and he was removed from active ministry. In October, he suffered from an embolism and went unconscious on October 10. He was life-flighted to a major medical center and put on life support. All week long, I joined with many others who love him and prayed and prayed and prayed. The family had decided to remove him from life-support. I prayed he would breathe on his own and come back to us. I listened to Josh Groban all week. I scrubbed floors and toilets and cabinets and anything I could reach. It was a week of the most intense suffering I’ve known. On Friday, he was removed from life-support. His brother and housekeeper were praying the Rosary. On the third Hail Mary of the Second Joyful Mystery, Fr. Robb, lifted his right hand up in the air to grasp an invisible hand and took his last breath. When I heard this, I could not help but realize the 2nd Joyful Mystery is the Visitation of Mary to St. Elizabeth. I feel, in my heart, that this was the time for the image of the two of them smiling. Smiling that their precious priest had come home. I also could not help but note that Fr. Robb’s entrance into Heaven occurred on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila~my favorite saint because of his influence. This week, I will listen to Josh Groban, scrub my floors, read from “The Fire Within” and pray my rosary for Fr. Robb.  I will smile and thank God for the gift of so true a friend.

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We will miss you, Robin…

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I don’t really have anything to say that isn’t already being said.  I am sad that Robin Williams is dead. I hurt that he was hurting. He has been part of my life for so long. Most of my generation were introduced to Robin in the TV series, “Mork & Mindy.” We grew up on his off-the-wall sense of humor. We saw his funny side. We saw his serious side. He could impersonate anyone and anything. He brought joy to our children as the genie in “Aladdin.” To be honest, Prince Charming and I laughed harder than our children at the multitude of clever jokes and inferences. Watching “Hook” as a family brought us all to the magical world of Never Land. Robin Williams brought movie after movie after movie of love, laughter, joy and sadness. 

Scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, I saw his face but didn’t have time to read the caption. I noticed his face pop up every few feeds and suddenly saw the words “Rest In Peace.” I cannot explain the feeling that went through me. “No, not Robin Williams!” That was before I even read the story about his possible suicide. This was too much to process. I sat at my screen, unable to take it in. Somehow, surprised and not surprised all at once, I felt physically sick at his leave-taking. Someone with such a desire to make people laugh had to understand what it feels like to have nothing to laugh about. A man so concerned about the military, about bringing joy to a fear-filled situation must understand what it is to be fearful. A man with addictions who continuously worked his way through rehab must understand what it is to be dependent on others. 

I have read all kinds of commentaries on Robin’s death. Many are kind and compassionate. Some cruel and critical. I can only speak for myself. I will miss you, Robin Williams. I will miss your voice (and your voices), your humor, your beautiful face. I will miss your soulful performances. I will miss your quick-wit. I will miss your compassion and understanding. I will miss your willingness to pick yourself up over and over again. I will miss your expressions of hope. I will miss your walking among us. 

I will remember you with compassion. I will remember that those among us who appear the happiest may be hiding inner pain. I will remember that laughter is important and love is even more important. I will remember that sometimes life seems burdensome and overwhelming and that I need to be present to those who are struggling. I will remember that even if I am present to those who struggle, it may not be enough. I will remember that God is big enough to enfold each of us in His mercy. I will remember you, Robin, and pray that you have found God’s perfect peace. 

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Let me walk upon the waters…

(There are several versions of this on youtube worth watching~the lyrics are beautiful~Enjoy!)

“Oceans~Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong is one of my new favorite songs.  I never saw the ocean until Prince Charming and I got married and went to Seaside for our honeymoon. It truly overwhelmed me to see it for the first time. Nothing could have prepared me for the enormity of God’s creation. This song has that same effect on me. The Ocean is the great unknown~all that life holds and all that will ever happen to us.  It is the enormity of God’s creation for each of us individually and as members of the Body of Christ. God calls each of us to go out into the deep and to go where the Spirit leads us. Our response to His call is what will make us truly alive.

This coming Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of Matthew 14 and will lead each of us to the seashore. Recall that Jesus grieved for the death of his cousin, John the Baptist. He crossed the sea seeking solitude but was followed by the multitudes.  He healed the sick and fed the 5000~truly a miraculous day. The story unfolds as Jesus sends his disciples out on the boat, staying behind to pray on the mountain top. Meanwhile, the disciples are being tossed about on the waves a few miles offshore.  Jesus comes to them, walking across the water.  This terrifies the disciples until he commands, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” We are familiar with what happens next~Peter boldly asks Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus responds, “Come,” Peter leaps out of the boat and begins to walk toward Jesus~on the water! However, he notices the strong winds, takes his eyes of Jesus and begins to sink.  He calls out, “Lord, save me” and is rescued by Jesus’ outstretched hand.

I remember, as a kid, thinking that Peter should have kept his eyes on Jesus and continued walking on the water. Why did he doubt? Remember, these disciples are coming off a day of miracles. Jesus had healed the sick and fed over 5000 people with no more than five loaves and two fish. He had walked on the sea in a storm in the middle of the night. Why would Peter doubt he could walk on water once commanded to do so by Jesus? It is so easy to question the faith of another, especially when everything appears so clear. It is harder to be honest with ourselves.

Why do I doubt? Why do I take my eyes off Jesus and pay attention to the storms around me? I have seen the miracles. Unexplained healing, answers to prayer, conversion of heart, and generosity beyond measure occur around me all the time. The Bible is full of miracles and so is our daily life. The miracle of creation reminds us God is with us. The miracle of birth reminds us God is life-giving. The miracle of prayer reminds us He will sustain us in our darkest hour.

Peter inspires me with his willingness to step out.  He is the first to ask God to command him out into the deep. Even though he loses his focus and begins to sink, Peter knows where his strength is. He immediately calls out, “Lord, save me!” He takes Jesus’ hand and is led back to the safety of the boat. I want the faith of Peter. I want to leap out of the boat and to be willing to call on Jesus each time I fail and begin to sink. Peter’s walk of faith continues on dry land and we know that our brave fisherman will fall again and again. We also know he gets back up each time and calls on Jesus~ever faithful in the storm. We are called to walk out in faith~to go deeper than we think we can~to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is waiting for our leap of faith. He desires our trust in the storm and He wants to hold our gaze as we keep our eyes on Him above the waves. To truly live His plan, we have to walk side by side with Him. Let me walk upon the waters…

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Jesus Grieves

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Last weekend, we found ourselves in White Bird, Idaho, attending weekend Mass.  Fr. Mariusz has a knack of making me cry during his homilies.  This time is no different.  He begins with the Gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 14:13-21. 

 

“When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.”

 

This is the first point emphasized~Jesus grieved.  Jesus was burdened at the news of his cousin’s death.  He wanted to grieve.  He left the crowds and got into the boat to be alone.  However, this was not to be.  The Gospel continues:

 

“The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.”

 

The stage is now set for what will soon become the Feeding of the Five Thousand~a story most of us are familiar with.  We remember how Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and multiplied them to feed five thousand men ~my apologies to the women and children~and how there were 12 wicker baskets of fragments left over.  On this day, Fr. Mariusz is calling our attention, not to the miracle, but to the fact that Jesus was grieving.  He was sad.  He crossed the Sea to be alone. This is not to be.  The people need Jesus and they get to the other side before He does.  He puts aside his grief and begins to minister to them.

 

At this point, I am aware of God’s powerful message for me. We were sent to White Bird on this day for my heart to be opened.  I had never focused on the opening to this Gospel.  Somehow, for years, I had managed to skim over the death of John the Baptist leading up to the story of the Miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Not today.  Today, God wanted to remind me that grief is not supposed to come first.  People come first.

 

Yesterday~two days after this revelation~marks the day we should have welcomed a new baby into our family.  This past November, we were delighted with the news that a new little baby was on the way.  I actually was feeling reasonably well~just enough morning sickness to not be worried, but not as much as usual.  We joked about being “Abraham and Sarah” and rejoiced at the thought of another little life being entrusted to us.  It was also a magical time as we awaited both the coming of Christmas and Jordan’s first home visit from the convent.  Sadly, a few days before Christmas, we shared with our children that a baby had come and gone without their knowing. Jordan’s first day home included a sweet memorial service by Fr. Paul to bless and bury our baby.

 

 

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With each of our miscarriages, I am emotionally stuck until I make it through the due date.  All day yesterday, I expected the day to be different~to be significant.  But it was an ordinary day.  The girls got to go harvesting~riding in combines and grain trucks with their cousin, Kayla.  This was followed by more cousin time back at our house.  My sister and her beautiful girls came out in the afternoon. There were squirt gun fights and lots of giggles.  Choir practice followed.  Prince Charming barbecued steak and the evening ended with movie night with more cousins.  

At some point in the evening, I realized that Sunday’s homily was meant for me.  I wanted to grieve. I kept trying to get in the boat and go someplace alone.  But when I arrived at the shore, there were people to feed and laundry to do.  It just wasn’t supposed to be all about me.  Like Jesus, I was called to take pity on the people and minister to them!  I was considering wrapping up the day with a big case of the “poor me’s” but the Holy Spirit stepped in and reminded me of Jesus’ grief. 

This compelled me to revisit Matthew’s Gospel and continue reading.  After the miracle, once all the fragments were gathered, Jesus dismissed the disciples and had them get on the boat without Him. Next, He dismissed the people. He, then, finally, went to the mountain alone to pray.  

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Seven Sorrows of Mary

Jordan Hawaii 2012! 109Have you heard about the Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary?  I hadn’t until I read the book, “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilabagiza.  This incredible autobiography chronicles the life of Immaculee and her family, most of whom were killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  Immaculee survives, hiding in a cramped bathroom with seven other women for over 90 days.  Her story of survival and of ultimate forgiveness is powerful.  Her website, http://www.immaculee.com shares a bit more about her and other books she has written.  I ordered “Our Lady of Kibeho” and the Seven sorrows Rosary both available on her site.  

At the time I ordered the rosary and book, we were in the midst of packing up our household in order to move. The books and rosary were tucked away and I did not begin to pray this new found devotion. These remained stored away for the months it took to sell our home, the time spent in our rental as our home was being built and finally in the storage room waiting to be unpacked. In the mean time, Christmas was upon us. I bought tickets from our last parish for the annual Christmas raffle.  I sent money for a friend to buy tickets to win one of Eleanor’s beautiful afghans and for one of John’s rosaries.  The year before, I’d been blessed to win both an afghan AND a rosary and thought, “Why not try again?” Each of my friends are skilled craftsmen and I love to support the Christmas raffle.  I was pleasantly surprised in January to hear from our dear friend, Joe.  I hadn’t won the afghan, but I HAD won the rosary.  It turns out, it was a set of three rosaries:  one to hang in the car, one traditional rosary and one Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary~each made of gorgeous black hematite. I was so excited and couldn’t help but think that Mary was drawing me to this devotion.  

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:

  • The Prophecy of Simeon
  • The flight into Egypt
  • Jesus is lost in the Temple
  • Mary meets Jesus on the road to Calvary
  • The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
  • Jesus is taken down from the Cross
  • Jesus is laid in the Tomb

A bit of meditation on any one of these sorrows and one can imagine the pain in Mary’s heart.  These sorrows connect Mary with each of us.  A “Sorrows list” in today’s society might read like this:

  • Prenatal Diagnosis of Disabiity
  • Christians forced to flee Holy Land
  • Missing Child
  • Son/Daughter facing terminal illness
  • Child on Death Row
  • Funerals
  • Burials

When Jesus took on our humanity, He took it ALL on.  The joys.  The sorrows.  The sufferings.  The heartache.  Mary walked this road with Jesus from start to finish.  She did it beautifully with complete acceptance.  We read in the Bible of the trials and struggles of the Apostles~Peter’s Denial, Thomas’ doubt, James’ and John’s desire for positioning.  I find it interesting that nowhere do we find a similar “fault or failing” in the Blessed Mother. This is a testimony to her complete “fiat.”  When she answered the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to thy Word,” she meant it. The Seven Sorrows Devotion is a window into the life of Jesus and Mary.  

The Seven Sorrows Devotion consists of an opening prayer, Act of Contrition and then seven sorrows “mysteries” of one Our Father and seven Hail Mary’s.  Our Lady promises that those who practice this devotion will be made aware of their sins and be given the grace to overcome them.  Tuesdays and Fridays are the days suggested for praying this devotion. My friend, Mike, has offered to make Seven Sorrows Rosaries for me and for those interested in this devotion.  Please let me know if you are interested or would like to learn more about this.  Walking through sorrow with Jesus and Mary provides a gentle healing grace~grace that so many need to be comforted.

 

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Christmas in June!

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“Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”~Unknown

Simple words.  Love your family.  Spend time together.  Be Kind.  Serve one another.  No regrets. I find myself wishing for more time. More opportunities to be kind and to serve. This past year has brought the last sentence home~tomorrow is not promised and today is short. This quote is a call to joy.  A call to do more and be more and live and love more deeply! Some of us are separated by distance.  Some are separated by death.  Separation is painful but can become the very place where God’s light enters into our being.

Jordan’s discernment with the Sisters of Life is a geographical separation which has, perhaps, brought us spiritually even closer. I love that I am finding the specific blessings of Jordan’s vocation.  There is such truth in the adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  The Sisters of Life do not use social media~no texting, no Facebook, no tweets or twitters.  No emails.  Letters home about once a month.  Phone calls the same.  So…we have become a family of letter writers.  Imagine that~Pen and Paper and Stamps!!! There is such beauty in sending and receiving letters!  We are growing in the virtue of patience…(Only by force!)…as we await letter writing day each month.  We can write at any time so there is often a letter on the counter to take to the Post Office. Jordan has commented how meaningful each letter is~letters that would not have been written if all the other “easy” lines of communication were available.

With Jordan’s absence, it is now REAL that each of the children will one day leave. When the kids were little it was hard to believe this season of life would ever come. With  a six, 12, 13, and 18 year old still at home, I realize a lot of seasons are happening at the same time in our family. Such a blessing to move forward with the knowledge that NOW is our time to spend time together. To be kind.  To serve. To love. 

Seeing Jordan find her passion in life also reminds me that each of her siblings will find joy when they do what they are passionate about. This makes it necessary to look hard and sort out what brings happiness to each child.  True happiness~ not the fleeting kind our culture offers.

The countdown is on…11 days and Jordan will be home for a visit. It’s time to plant flowers, sweep the porch, prepare our home and our hearts for her return. It’s time to be kind.  To serve.  To make room for no regrets.   It’s time to love.

 

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OUR Bankrobbers!

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Who would believe it?  Our bank in Small Town Idaho was robbed!  In broad daylight!  Friday afternoon’s criminal activity provided opportunity for both discussion and speculation.  But, alas, the case wrapped up Sunday evening when the pair was caught sixty miles away in Lewiston.  The male robber, pictured above, was wearing a short that tells the true story, “It’s all fun & games until the cops show up.”  The irony of the t-shirt’s message actually caught the attention of the New York Daily news. In my mind, the event was over and would become, perhaps, the subject for passing commentary and a chuckle.  That was, until Tuesday morning Mass, when our hospital chaplain prayed the following beautiful prayer.  “For OUR bank robbers and for all who struggle, we pray to the Lord.”  As we responded, “Lord, hear our prayer,” I was taken aback.  These two nameless souls were suddenly OUR bank robbers.  They belong to the town of Cottonwood.  For some reason unknown to us, they had chosen our little town.  Now because of that choice, we had a stake in their lives and their souls.  Fr. Meinrad’s beautifully chosen words had announced to my heart and those around me that this pair need our prayers.  They need to be more than “the bank robbers”~they need to be real people. I immediately realized I hadn’t even taken time to listen for their names.  A quick google search to discover OUR bank robbers are Rocky and Jennifer from southern Idaho.  Rocky and Jennifer, our brother and sister in Christ.  Fr. Meinrad’s prayerhad transformed the robbers into real people~GASP!  They suddenly became someone’s son, someone’s daughter, part of our larger family~part of the body of Christ.  They are also part of the group Fr. Meinrad identified as “those who struggle.”  What would happen if each of us would pause and offer up a prayer for Rocky and Jennifer rather than just talking about them?  What kind of transformation will occur? Heavenly Father, I lift Rocky and Jennifer to you.  Thank you for the gift of their lives.  Thank you for blessing our small town with the opportunity to recognize the strugglers in our midst.  Thank you for the gift of Fr. Meinrad and for his vision of Rocky and Jennifer as belonging to “us.”  Bless them in their brokenness.  Forgive them their trespasses.  Heal them of past wounds.  Help them to begin anew. Help us always to remember to pray for them and for all who need our prayers.  Amen.

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Here in this Place

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“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ― Walt Whitman  

Reminding myself of this as I look across the Camas Prairie, drinking coffee with Prince Charming.  This is happiness.  Here.  Now.  I all too often catch myself thinking of the past~wishing I could undo/redo certain things.  Be more present to the kids.  Spend more one on one time with each of them.  Take another vacation.  Be more kind.  I also find myself looking to the future.  Won’t summer be nice?  Won’t it be relaxing to be done with school?  Two more weeks until Jordan comes home.  But, really, life is about this hour and this place. If you are like me, you know this but it is hard to LIVE this.

So…for this hour, I am enjoying my time with the Prince.  Just being together.  Making little comments as we blog/work side by side.   Refilling the coffee cups.  Looking across the Prairie.  Listening to the birds chatting. Admiring the gorgeous yellow of the canola fields, the green alfalfa, the cloudless blue sky. This is happiness. A day we will not have together again. Not in this way. It is a beautiful thing to recognize the quiet togetherness we share. “Isn’t it nice out here?” the Prince asks.  Indeed it is~in this place~in this hour.

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