Waste Not, Want Not

Scraping the peanut butter jar with a dinner knife until it is clean enough to send back to the company for a refill was something my dad took pride in. He never passed up the chance to get the very most out of things. Could be the way he was raised; wasting nothing, taking nothing for granted, getting the most out of what we’re given. Could be he just loved licking peanut butter off the end of a butter knife or he was just finishing what her started. Probably a lot of those things. The thing I love about this picture is that I took it on my kitchen counter. My child evidently picked up a few things from his grandfather as I believe all of his grandchildren and children did. Good things like not taking advantage, not wasting, not assuming. Good things like working hard so you have enough to save and yet some to give away, using all that God gives. My dad left us with so many great lessons that it would take forever to list them all and as big events happen in our lives, I can hear his voice in my ear encouraging, pushing, congratulating, comforting. We spent a lot of time around one another. Wasting nothing. Wanting nothing really. Oftentimes just spending time. I watched him scrape a peanut butter jar many, many times and sometimes I thought, “Oh for crying out loud, just get another jar. It’s empty.” But if he had, I wouldn’t have gotten the message and more importantly, neither would my children. Sometimes buried within a person’s odd habits can be some pretty good lessons. So scrape the good stuff out of life, take nothing for granted, use all God gives, know others are watching, waste not, want not, and most importantly, enjoy.

 

Make Believe…Real

When they are young and life is a zoo, we cannot wait for our children to grow up. When they are grown and ready to venture out on their own, we wish they were still our babies. There is truth and wisdom in truly enjoying every moment with our children. There is truth and beauty in allowing the good and the bad to be remembered, to be time spent together well. Before we turn around, what seems like just playing dress up turns into the real thing.

This past weekend my oldest daughter had the final fitting of her wedding dress. Wow. She’s just incredibly beautiful. She had her trial run with hair and makeup on Saturday and when I saw her after work, again, wow. On Sunday, as I watched her youngest sister play volleyball and the second oldest coach volleyball, I listened as she and her father were trying to decide upon a song to dance to after the wedding. I’m cheering for each point as tears fill my eyes. I’m happy to be in a large arena sitting alone, my emotions bouncing off the walls. I’m happy to be multi-tasking as I have for years upon years, enjoying each and every moment that I could with my children while juggling work inside and outside our home. It’s funny but I think the harder we had to work to make it to many of our children’s events, to spend time with them, to take care of them when they were sick or to arrange for them to be taken care of, the more all those times mean to us. My children are keenly aware of all of those moments. They seem to take nothing for granted.

Ya see, my mother took them to choose hats and furs and to drink tea that day. And that night, they enjoyed the day all over again by sharing it with us. I guess my point is that time does fly by and we may feel we miss some moments but what’s important is that we make the most of those that God gives for us to be together and that our children know the importance of being there for one another. Seems like yesterday when this bride-to-be and her maid-of-honor were playing dress up together and in a little over two weeks the one will be making sure the other one’s veil and dress are laid out perfectly to walk down the aisle. Ya know, we have to live life no matter how fleeting, no matter how hectic, one event at a time, one moment, one diaper, one game, one dance, one wedding at a time. It may not be all make believe and dress up in fur coats and hats, but it is a gift. A real gift. And I could not be more grateful to God for all of it. The make believe and the real.

God is Brilliant

I received this picture from my college freshman from the laundry room, obviously somewhere other than her dorm, and it made me really stop and think. She’s beautiful like the others but she’s way different than her sisters. Not one of the others would sit in the clothes cart while waiting for their laundry to dry. One would study, one would leave the clothes and run errands, and the other would probably just chat it up with everyone in the room as she waits. The point is, regardless of being raised under the same roof, every child is different. I know that’s old news and I’m not just realizing it, but this picture reminds me that they each think differently. They each act and react differently, learn differently, and even eat differently. I have no gluten, no meat, no dairy, anything goes children. I have always prepared, slightly anxious, last minute is fine, come from behind children. I have don’t talk to me in the morning, mornings are okay, I love mornings, is it already morning children. And the list continues but the point is still the same. Isn’t God Brilliant!? He makes life so exciting and yet quite the challenge. When we embrace differences, we succeed. When we fight differences, we remain in constant turmoil. And through it all, when we pray, we find peace. Whether our children find their way by making laundry fun or making it a chore, whether they wait until the last minute when they have nothing else to wear or they deal with it as the basket fills, they will all figure it out in their own way, at their own pace. Give boundaries. Set standards. Pray and watch with wonder. Then pray more. It’s a strange world and each will set out after it in a different manner but hopefully, their differences will someday be our delight.

One Big Crowd

“Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:25

Original by Jean D. Dortch

“Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.”  Mark 3:8-10
The square was packed with people pushing to get to the front. By the time the Pope was driven around to our side, people were passing their children up to us to get Pope John Paul II to touch them. The entire moment was surreal. When he reached down and took my hand, I understood from that touch what all the hoopla was about and I knew I had been touched by one whom God had sent. The crowd had come from far away places and in order for the Pope not to be crushed, there were barricades and a glassed-in  vehicle. Everyone in the crowd that day wanted to touch him, not because he could cure, but because we knew that before us was a man who truly would intercede for us to God. We knew that the man before us was sincere when he said he would pray for our healing, for our needs, for our children and our parents, for us. The entire pressing crowd knew that his words were guided by the Spirit and through his touch we knew that he was sent to make a difference.
Jesus was sent to save us. He was sent to intercede for us to God. He was sent to heal us and to deeply touch our lives. Despite the crowds, the difficulties, the pressing of others in this world not to believe, we are called to go to Him and allow Him to save us. Be a part of the incredible crowd of believers and arrive early. He will intercede and your life will be changed forever.

A Healing Touch

“Do not touch anything in this store.” “Hands in your pockets. I mean it.” “No. No. Don’t touch.” Seems we are constantly on our children about keeping their hands to themselves, especially in certain stores where if they break something, it becomes ours. Touching can lead to ownership. Simple.

Today as Fr. Mark read the Gospel about Jesus healing the leper and referred to yesterday’s reading of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, he commented on the importance of Jesus’ touch. He could have just said the words and they would have been healed but instead He touched them. My mind immediately went to the idea of telling my children a million times not to touch things that did not belong to them. But these people, people everywhere, kept coming to Jesus because they wanted to belong to Him. Jesus owned up to the power to heal the sick and the lost and they bought into all He had to offer. Who wouldn’t?

Many times I have thought before giving money to a street person, “If I give it to him, he will expect it every time I see him.” If I touch him now, he’s mine. I’ve bought into his misery and his need. Well, so what! So what if I have to give him a little something every time I see him. Maybe it’s time for me to get my hands out of my pockets and touch someone. I certainly cannot heal with these hands but God can work through them some other way. We’re all so worried about breaking something. Well, it’s already broken so let’s work together to fix it. Let’s touch someone today and maybe tomorrow and who knows, maybe all week. Let’s not worry about what others think and start making a difference. Let’s buy into these Gospel messages and own up to our beliefs. It’s not easy. People we touch may rely on us again and again. And then again, that may be just the ticket we need.

A Year of W’s

With my oldest daughter’s wedding quickly approaching, I have decided to make the year 2017 a year of W’S.
Wake – each day happy, healthy and ready
Word – read and pray the word of God daily
Write – blog, journal, manuscript
Walk – a little every day
Water – 8 glasses a day
Work – physical, mental, spiritual
Website – new, improved, personal and bookstore
Wife – be a better partner
Win – be an example of positive thinking
Wise – read, study, learn something new every day
Wait – work on patience
Wonder – allow myself to be a child at heart
Wander – roam, travel, journey
Want – stay hungry for something better
Waste – nothing
Watch – be aware of others, be open
Whole – be complete, all God’s intention, full potential
Wedding – March 4th, incredibly special, cannot wait to share their day, gaining a son

I know I will extend this list as the months pass but for now, I am focused on these W’s. What about you? Any W’s for your year or any other resolutions? Thank the good Lord that every day is a new day and a fresh start. Happy 2017

Make Resolutions, Set Goals for 2017

Why do we make New Year Resolutions? What good are they when 9 years out of 10 we end up with a fail?  Do we set impossible goals? Are we unrealistic?

All of these are good questions and are the very reasons why many have canned the idea of making New Year Resolutions but I would like to get back to the idea of pushing ourselves to be better, to do more, to set goals that make us stretch ourselves. I would like for us to challenge ourselves each day to do something outside our comfort zone. If we fail today, we have 364 more days to pursue our goals. Each day is a new start and each day is a possibility to succeed.

Make those resolutions. Set Goals. Do your best every day and if you come up short, instead of tossing the year, start again tomorrow. Review your day and see where things went wrong. That in itself is a good habit. If you feel you’ve set goals that are impossible, reset those goals and when you reach them, push yourself harder. There are no rules but if we do not set some kind of resolutions, we’ll remain stagnant, we’ll never expand our potential, we’ll never grow.

Whether we want a better mind or body or soul, whether we want to read more, workout more or pray more, if we do not set goals, we have nothing to achieve. So go ahead. Make your lists. Do your best each day. Try. And if you fall short, remember, tomorrow is another day. Another chance. A gift from God. Go for it. Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany Mom’s Retreat Yet Once Again, Seeing to Believe

Two weekends ago I was privileged to spend a couple of days at the beautiful Bethany Retreat House with a group of moms from St. Cecilia Academy and Overbrook School. We could not be more fortunate to have the Dominican Sisters teach our children as well as allow us the opportunities to spend time at their Retreat House. Since I was there two years ago, they have finished the new Chapel and Dining Room; both lovely, needless to say. It is a peaceful place to pause from our serving and sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.

Now that formalities are over, let’s get to the meat of the subject. I am constantly aware of the “signs” that I believe are sent from above to allow us to draw closer to Christ. Not like weird signs and wonders, but simple occurrences that pop up in front of our faces that make us just say, “Thank you Jesus, I do believe.” Ya know. Like, “walk with eyes wide open and receive all He has to give” type of gifts. Our retreat topic was “The Joy of Love – the Family as Icon of the Holy Trinity” given by Fr. Albert Trudel, O.P. and I have to admit was not what drew me to the weekend. And yet, as with most things those Dominicans pull me into, the talks were awesome. Fr. Trudel gently tied together an icon (a window to the soul), Rublev’s Hospitality of Abraham, also known as the Trinity, with the love we share with our children and our husband and the love of the Trinity. “As the Three Persons of the Trinity mirror the love of one another, so husband and wife and children should mirror love and help one another toward Heaven.” “Love is willing the good of the other as if it is our own.”  (Aquinas)

As I knelt in the Chapel, I noticed the image in the picture above behind the Tabernacle. If we look beyond the cross, to the shadows, we see on the top the clear image of a triangle and behind the corpus the images of three people on crosses. Is this lighting purposeful? The image on the left of the Son is clearer than the image on the right. Could be the good and bad thieves. Could be the Father (whom we see more clearly) and the Holy Spirit (He’s there but more difficult to make out the figure). I meditated on our lives with the Trinity, us two (husband and wife) with God in our lives. And then, us two as one, with our children and God in our lives. The reading this past week explaining, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…This is a great mystery…” I meditated on Fr.’s words, “we find our life by giving it away.”

Now, I’m just saying, that when we participated in Eucharistic Adoration Saturday night, the shadows behind the crucifix were all gone except for one. For me, in my thoughts, it was clear that in the Eucharist, we are all one, just as the Trinity was joined as One Body inside that Monstrance. There is no separation between the Father and the Son and the Spirit as there should be no separation in the family. We are together in love. And yes, this is a great mystery.

I Had a Thought and Then…

I was participating in Mass yesterday at the Pastoral Center during the Catechetical Conference and an idea popped into my head and not a few minutes later popped right back out. Drives me crazy because normally when I receive something while at Mass, I want it to stick with me. Who wouldn’t? Right? It was a long day, setting up St. Mary’s Bookstore on 3 long tables a little after 7 a.m. then selling all day and packing up at 3 to take back to the store and return to the shelves, then close the store at 5. But, I had some great help and got to spend time with great people so I was all good. After dinner I watched a little football with my husband and promptly fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up, I asked about the game and my husband responded that Auburn just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. And that was it! That was the message I received at Mass! I couldn’t believe it. It’s all about Auburn…no, I mean, it’s all about getting out of our own ways.

This past week my youngest daughter had several volleyball games and as I watched them fall short for the 3rd match in a row, I thought, “they just cannot seem to get our of their own way”. They did more to beat themselves than the other team did to beat them. Not saying the other teams were not good or didn’t deserve the wins but come on….talk, work together.

During Mass, the thought came clearly. Come on. Stop beating ourselves. We all need to get out of our own ways and talk, work together. Because after all, it’s not really about who gets what or who did this or that, it’s about how we treat one another during this mass confusion we call living in this world. Every day we are given many opportunities to be kind, to love, to change lives by what we say or how we say it, by what we do or don’t do. Social media especially has become a major player in how we treat one another. Think about some of the things we read and some of the comments made. We really are not very kind to one another. What if we knew that every comment, every action was to test our reaction? Do we discuss topics and work with one another? Or do we react with anger? We are constantly and continually beating ourselves here. We cannot seem to get out of our own way.
I am not good about this but what if we used all the bad things that happen to us or are said about us as the chance to make a difference? Maybe even by not doing or saying anything. Or, maybe by turning bad into good. I think that’s the major difference between us and the saints. With the Canonization of Mother Teresa I guess all of this has made me start thinking of the simple things she and the other Missionary of Charity sisters did and still do that all of us can do. Granted, few of us are going to serve the poor in India, but there are plenty of poor in our own cities. Wait. I’m getting off course. We all know we can do and be better. My point here is that we need to stop working against ourselves. We need to stop making what is good and holy seem so difficult. We need to take the simple opportunities put before us day after day and complete the tasks. We need to be kind to the meanest and love the haters and do for the ungrateful. We need to stop beating ourselves with unforced errors so to speak. Let’s talk. Let’s work together. Let’s share our good thoughts and let’s stay out of our own way.

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

Today as we contemplate Our Lady of Sorrows, I remember my visits to the many beautiful Marian Shrines throughout the United States. With each visit came different gifts of grace and peace. My visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago offered a sense of peace that I had no idea I really needed. Amazing how she knows our true needs as mothers and sisters and fathers and brothers. Funny how things put together 100’s of years ago can serve a direct purpose today, how God’s plan unfolds and all we really need to do is show up, be attentive, be open, believe and receive. I happen to be alone on my visit to Our Lady of Sorrows. I spend time wandering to the different beautiful altars dedicated to Our Lady. It is a peaceful visit. I wander to a back chapel which was once the Baptistry and I find a rather large marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta. As described in Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces, I am so close that I can see how young this mother is who holds her Son’s body across her lap. But I also notice that her lap is greatly oversized compared to the rest of her body and the body of her Son. I realize at this moment that she is inviting me to find comfort for my own sorrows. Her lap, which is filled with her deepest sorrow, the death of her only Son, has room for all I have closed in my own heart. I can do nothing but allow her to take it all, the lose of children and brothers and grandparents and nephew and cousin and uncles and close friends, along with fears and anxieties and worries. I am drained but there is a huge relief of sort. It’s  difficult to relate the experience. It’s a pure gift of grace.

On this Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrow, as Jesus gives His Mother to John, He offers her to all of us. We would do well to take her into our homes. We would do well to allow her to take our needs and our cares and our concerns, our children and our parents and our friends. We would do well to visit her one on one, to pray her rosary and to trust her with our lives. She has been through it all and in her lap rests the answer to all we need.