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.

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.

Journeying to Find the “Answers” in Life, Does Not Have to be Some Big, Well-Planned Trip

Since watching the movie, The Way, I have been thinking about looking into a pilgrimage down the Camino de Santiago. When I watched Eat, Love, Pray, I wanted to look into a pilgrimage of prayer, like to the Holy Land with a group led by a priest or to Guadalupe or something. Actually, anytime I watch a movie or hear of another group going on a trip that “changed their lives forever,” I’m ready to jump on board the next flight. I am constantly looking for the answers, a quick fix, something more. And, in some ways, I believe that is a good thing…searching for something more. But what I am finding, as I really pay attention to my day and the people I believe God is putting in my path, is that I definitely do not have to go anywhere to find the answers to the questions in my life. The Answer is in our midst day in and day out, in the people we meet, in our church Tabernacles, in the Breaking of the Bread. Where else do we really need to look for the answers but right in our own back yard? Besides, there’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

As my son’s class is finishing their 8th grade school year, parents are asked to put together pictures that will be put on a video shown at the class banquet at the end of the year. Since he is number 5 of 6 children, I had to scroll through many, many pictures to get to the ones I wanted to put in the video. I have boxes of pictures of my children, never organized, always a guess as to who some of the baby pictures are because they all look alike. I had more fun looking through those pictures and laughing and loving the fact that my children truly love one another. Raising six children, and I still have a ways to go, has been a journey within itself. As I look at these pictures, it’s funny, but I remember all the good stuff. Even during the most trying years, we found something to laugh about or something to be thankful for in one another. As I journeyed, all I could do was thank God for these awesome children and their father and their grandparents who have been such an important part of their lives. Right here, on my dining room floor, with pictures piled around me, I took a long wonderful trip, I felt the hand of God, I received answers, I realized my life has been changed forever and I remembered He is right here and there’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.