Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday

I am so grateful, and so unbelieving, that it is already the end of the week! This was my first week "back on schedule" (we have no schedule means I didn't have extra help) and it was exceedingly long as it was passing but, what do you know, here we are! TGIF!!!

I've been making a concerted effort to mentally prepare for Lent which is a mere five days away! I have to say, of all the seasons, Lent is my favorite. So, here are some activities/plans/realizations I've reached during my rev-up for the season of repentance.

1. Children at Mass

Having been away from Mass for nearly a month and not being "whole" in family attendance for the past few weeks, I have really missed attending with my peeps surrounding me. It is a challenge, each and every time but, like most things, it gets better with routine. We chose today at 10 AM for our reintroduction. It was a funeral, as it often is, and that made it even better. I don't take photos in church (bad form) but I do wish today someone would have been filming us for a reality show. At one point, Mr. G was across the aisle playing hand peek-a-boo through the pew with the funeral director. We are in the last pew and he wasn't there for Mass so, I let it go. Frankly, if we're going to make it as a 6-person-parade to more daily Masses (we are planning to add at least one per week, two for the older kids) we are going to have to come to some middle-ground as far as behavior. As a starting point, if the big ones are participating/paying attention enough to be properly disposed for Communion and the little ones are not making noise, I am good. I always feel bathed in grace when we are there and I know God loves little people. So, this Lent, instead of worrying about being perfectly behaved, I'm going to concentrate on the blessings around me and do all that I can to help them learn and interest them in the miracle that is the Mass.

2. Cleaning out (Things)

Today we made a trip to Washington City Mission with a van full of "stuff" to donate. I counted 6 garbage bags of toys/shoes/clothes and other assorted items. This makes me so very happy. It seems as though we are always drowning in "things" and more often than not, that makes me lose track of what is important (I know this is true for the little people). Home school makes it even more difficult. All of this is a great learning opportunity for the kids. Learning to use what you have, share with those who have less, and making a reasonable judgment of how much is "enough". It excites me that this, too, is becoming routine. How wonderful if, once grown, helping others springs to mind often!

3. Cleaning out (People)

That sounds kind of bad. Let me, without really planning it, I happened upon an amazingly clear real-life-lesson for the kids. Without going into it, it dealt with "friends" who call themselves that but act in contrary ways and actual friends who are examples of love and care. We have been through the "why does 'Annie' call me her friend one day then ignore me the next?" scenario a few times at school and it's a tough thing to learn. I am still learning it! So, today, when the kids got to see, in succession, a situation that would not be how a friend would act immediately followed by the warmth and joy of true friendship, I'm not sure it could have been made more clear - even to their tiny minds. How blessed I was to have that opportunity for myself as well. In these days of shortened time and increased commitment, it was nice to have something held immediately in front of my eyes, the message that not even I could miss. This Lent will be a time for me to examine my relationships to determine then nurture what is real.

The friendship that can cease has never been real. Quote By St. Jerome

4. Real Love

I love St. Jerome, don't you? He kicks my behind on a few things but, on the whole, I find myself nodding my head in agreement to most of the things he has to say. So, when I spent the past weekend mired in a disagreement with both my husband and very dear friend, I knew it was all good. I was willing to speak my side, as were they, and it was resolved. Disagreement is common in any loving relationship. The willingness of all involved to work through the issue and grow from it instead of walking away is such an amazing gift to me. I am so very blessed.
5. SNOW!!!

Having been housebound for a while, I have missed all the opportunities to frolic in the white stuff. So, just for me, "Titan" is arriving on Monday. I am absolutely GIDDY. I know, it will be a drag for all the school kids who have already missed enough school. What can I say? Home school is never canceled ;0)

Wishing you happiness, health and snow for the next few days. Have a wonderful Mardi Gras and glorious entrance into Lent!

When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting
   - St. Jerome

Monday, February 24, 2014

And...I'm done

Yes! Tomorrow, finally, the appendage I've been sporting for nearly 6 weeks will be removed! God is so very good :0) I may do a little jig.

It was yesterday, though, that marked a much bigger finish for me.

Let's run down the stats, shall we?

I have been pregnant 6 times and have 5 living children.
I was pregnant with twins, albeit, for a fairly short time.
I have had five c-sections.
I have had one vaginal delivery, a miscarriage, in a foreign country, where we buried our child and then had to return home.
I have had one 8+ pounder, three 9+ pounders and one 10 1/2 ;0) (my sweet muffin).
I did all of this between the ages of 36 and 43.

I am not bragging but I did want to wrap it all up in a neat little package. You see yesterday, after waiting 3 days past the due date and one veeerrrryyyy faintly positive pregnancy test, my period began again. With that beginning is the end of my quest for children. There is nothing as final as a hysterectomy, fear not, but I will no longer be actively and obsessively seeking my next pregnancy.

Yes, obsessively. It sort of turned into that during the last year. It's funny when I think about it actually. I have been told I'm competitive but I don't really see it. My weight, my clothes, my hair, my house, even my kids (none of their positive aspects really come from my doing - some are blessed, some not)...I'm never really sure where people see me as trying to outdo them. Regardless, this is one area that I have seen and felt the competition. It's something I've grown to deeply dislike.

Reading "mom blogs"and immediately casting judgment because they made choices I never would, having been given the chance...hearing women I know say "why did God do this now" or "no more babies for us!" when all I really, truly wished for was another. That's all my "stuff" - no one else is responsible for what their words will make me feel (except for the mom who takes every opportunity to work her number of children into every conversation because, frankly, we're all over that ;0) ). Feeling badly about anyone else's decisions about their children (or lack thereof) is too much for me to carry around. I have too many other worthwhile things to occupy my time.

Goodness, have I even stopped to talk about the BLESSINGS I have been given in regard to my motherhood? Please see the italicized lines above to start - yes, each of those statements has been a blessing in my life! Then we can move to my husband, who started this at 39 (!) and told my mom recently that he "would have been happy with two or three but you don't tell your wife 'no' when she wants another baby." That warms my heart and breaks it at the same time but I know what he means. Although he never imagined that this would be his life, he has signed on to God's will and he's in it for the long hall. Wow. What was I whining on about back there? How could I ever want more than I have? How could I ever begin to deserve what I have been given?

So, that's my big announcement. Not the one I hoped to be making but one I'm proud of, just the same. I know it will come as a huge relief to my mom and my siblings. I forget what exactly my brother said in Slovakia after I delivered Bernadette but it dealt directly with my advancing age (in the most loving way, I assure you). :0) Only a big brother can do that. I'm sort of relieved too, from a societal point-of-view. My life choices brought me here but being the "grandmother" in a group of young women having babies is a struggle all in itself. I am blessed by the friendships I have made while raising little ones along side women who will now continue with their motherhood journey. I look forward to chatting with them during the "raising teens" period that will come for us in the very near future.

I'm so thankful because this epiphany has allowed me to realize it's time to move on and concentrate on the blessings that walk around here every day. Someone apparently left the door open and I now have a nearly 7- and almost 9-year-old walking around! When did that happen? When I was having other babies and attending to their needs. While I wasn't neglectful and while the older kids love having babies, they have lost out on a lot of "mom time". I am thankful that I can now turn my attention back to raising the babies I do have. How blessed I am to have them home all the time so that I don't miss a moment (even the moments I think I might rather miss).

Thanks for listening. I disabled the comments for this post because, well, it doesn't really require commentary. It was something I needed to write because, if you're following along, you probably need to know. If you feel you must say something, drop me a line. Otherwise, just say a prayer...I have been using the pain of this transition as an offering to help those who need extra grace. If that's you, or if you've asked for my prayers (or if you need them because you're having another baby - I'm laughing...I am!) I hope it's helped a little at least.

Having said all of this, I feel like I have to remind you that, while I'm not going to obsess and openly seek more children, that doesn't mean it won't happen (we're Catholic, ya know, and my husband just yesterday said "doesn't your temp going down mean you ovulated?" so don't look to us for NFP advice LOL). Like our dear friends, the day may come when adoption presents itself as God's will for us. Who knows? I know I'm not stressing it. I'm thankful for what I have been given. I have been given far more than I could ever deserve. I realize that I am so very blessed!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What did you hear?*

In hopes of thinking more about God and less about other things of the world, I'm going to try each Sunday (and when I'm lucky enough to attend daily Mass) to reflect on what it was that I "heard" - be it the readings, Gospel, homily, songs, etc.. What particular bit of wisdom did I gain by making the effort to worship in community?

Today was all about LOVE . I'm beginning to sense a theme ;0) The songs were beautiful reflections on God's love. The readings and the Gospel spoke about how God is loving and forgiving and we must be examples of his love and forgiveness to one another...especially those who may be most difficult for us to love and forgive. Ugh.

Still, I love a challenge. Like today at Mass when my not-so-little-ones are acting worse than their tiny siblings. Then, at that moment, it was like the Holy Spirit sat on my head and said, "For Lent you should love and forgive your children as I love and forgive you." I'm still praying on that one. I would much rather give up coffee and call it a day. I think, though, I'm at a place where I really need to work harder. I have to struggle and fail and, in doing so, it will be more fruitful. We shall see.

So, what did you hear today?

Have a blessed day, everyone! If you're in the South Hills, join us for Family Rosary next Sunday at 2 PM :0)

* Blatantly stolen from the Busted Halo show...though I think they won't mind.

“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man”

(Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday

Is it a beautiful day or what? We've really been blessed with that large yellow orb in the sky lately...I'm not going to jinx it by speaking the name aloud. You know what the groundhog said...maybe he was wrong :0)

1. I see the light at the end of the tunnel...

Thankfully, I will be without this work-of-art come Tuesday. No one can be happier about that than my can see he drew a target so that they know where to saw it off ;0) He also drew some other cool stuff but I'm not saving's contained my naked foot for 4 weeks. Gross. Anyway, thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts. I couldn't have made it without them!

2. Some pre-Lenten reading...

If you live in the Pittsburgh area, go check this out Bishop's Findings on Pastoral Challenges to the Family Lots of good information to ponder.

Need some more info on what's happening in October? Go here.

3. Speaking of Challenges to the Family, and this is specifically mentioned in the Bishop's Findings...

DH and I are a prayer couple for Engaged Encounter weekends (the next one starts today!). That means that we are assigned a couple that is going through the program and we pray that their experience is fruitful and helps to prepare them for their upcoming marriage. I think it's a nice thing; you can never have too many people praying for you.

Still, it's troubling to me when I look up our couple on a wedding website (yes, I'm a stalker) and read their "engagement story" that talks about "our apartment" and "on our bed were a dozen roses". I'm really old and cranky, admittedly, but when did it become fashionable to openly discuss cohabitation...out there for anyone to read? It's especially disturbing to me when it's a couple who is "Catholic enough" to go through Engaged Encounter.

The bishop's findings state that, in our diocese, 80-85% of couples are cohabiting before being married in the Catholic church. I will be very interested to see if this even makes the Synod's radar (along with the whole NFP deal but I'm not going into that now). I hope so. There is a disconnect somewhere that should really be addressed.

4. Speaking of Lent...

I can't right now because I'm not in that place but I am working on what I will be doing (40 Days for Life begins Ash Wednesday - go sign up!). I'm very sure my blog-reading will be severely limited and my blog posting, well, more religion and less fluff. I still have a week+...I can do it.

5. My blessings...

This morning I was able to farm-out 4 of my 5 little people (leaving only myself and one small muffin). What a glorious morning of laundry and house-cleaning we had! Yes, you heard that correctly! The cast isn't even off but I had to. My foot is nasty but my kitchen floor is nearly as bad...the time had come (DH doesn't mop or dust and who can blame him with the other things on his plate these days?). This being-laid-up-for-6-weeks thing is such a huge perspective-changer! How thankful I am for next week when I can return to my vocation full-time :0) I have always known that this was the job I am meant to do but it's nice to be reminded sometimes.

Oh and muffin finally got a haircut (it was that or a barrette!) I think I did a decent job.

Have a glorious weekend! We are blessed!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quiet: Final thoughts

I've been reading this book for the last several weeks (if you'd like to know more, go HERE or check it out of your local library).

It's been an extremely interesting(although at times repetitive) book for me. The insight into our society's value on extroversion is very thought-provoking. Still, I've probably droned on long enough (please do read it yourself) so this will be the last post :0)

Extroversion and Evangelicalism

There is a section on religion, specifically evangelicalism, and extroversion in which the author examines Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, which at the time of writing had a weekly attendance of 22,000. Cain explores this church and its people through the lens of Adam McHugh, an evangelical pastor and self-proclaimed introvert (he authored Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture). They discuss the almost pre-requisites of the evangelical faith: greeting others, lengthy sermons, and strong encouragement for involvement in committees and extra-curricular activities. All of these things, says McHugh, leave little time for personal prayer and reflection.

It's an interesting take. Never having been associated with an evangelical church, it's hard for me to comment on that aspect but I will say that many of the things he talks about are also true in my 10,000 member parish. Still, within the format of the Mass, I find ample opportunity for private prayer and reflection...even in the midst of so many people.

Finally, from the chapter, "When Collaboration Kills Creativity":

I am a horse for a single harness; not cut out for tandem or teamwork...for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and commanding."  - Albert Einstein

I must share that with DH, often heard to say, "I would rather do almost anything else than group work."

I believe there are times when groups may be useful (parenting, making pierogi) but on the whole (and certainly from my experience in Academe), group work is great for people who mainly enjoy talking about things; talking a lot (witness the "committee on committees" phenomena). For most the effective problem-solving I have to vote for the lone wolf approach. I believe Steve Wozniak would agree:

Work alone. You're going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you're working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.

Food for thought. Have a blessed day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow Fun!

We have been lucky enough to FINALLY get a good deal of snow, temperatures that don't freeze little people after 5 minutes of exposure AND daddy home all at the same time! That, of course, means it's time to shovel, make a "luge" out of the slide and generally have a ball with the white stuff. Here are some photos from inside since casts and snow don't mix :0( ...I do miss it, actually. Shoveling is one of my very favorite winter activities.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Jars

Last year, when trying to add a more "giving" aspect to Valentine's Day, we decided to make valentines and take them to Mass to hand out to anyone who wanted one. You can read about it here. It was an excellent teaching moment about the joy that comes from giving. We decided to make it a tradition.

This year, as you may know, I am only two days off crutches (and still in a cast) for Valentine's Day. Still, I hate to pass up an opportunity for a month-long home school art project so I told the kids we would think of something. #1 made a similar thing in 1st grade and I still have it next to my sink. It is a wonderful way to remember that I am loved and appreciated.

We decided to make Love Jars!

I went to my new favorite place, Etsy, and ordered 30 unlabeled baby food jars (yes, you can buy everything there). It's too bad we are post-baby food and that I can't think to keep things like baby food jars around (not being crafty, I don't see them as "we'll craft with these later!" It's more like "recyclables taking up space."). I digress.

While we waited for our jars to arrive, we did some prep work. All the people who have decent scissor skills cut tissue paper into tiny squares/circles/random shapes.

 Our bag of squares.
The jars arrived and we all set in to start our decoupage. Mod Podge has been around like 50 years. Did you know that? I have never used it before (one plus for school - I didn't have to deal with this at home). All I know is that I will never be the person who does a decoupage coffee table/dresser/end table (see "not crafty" above) but it was fun for the little people.

After one jar, #s 3&4 realized it wasn't their idea of fun so they waited for the next job - Stickers!

Next, glue pieces of card stock on top of the lid and ribbon around the rim (so it looks less like baby food and more like LOVE) :0)
More stickers on the lid, then the scissor people get to cutting...I looked up and printed a bunch of Saint's quotes and Bible verses that deal with love.

Once cut, you pick out ten different quotes, fold them up, and drop them into each jar. Put on the lid and they're ready to go!
The jar should be kept somewhere in your home that you will see it from time to time (or more often than that). When the mood strikes, you can take out a quote/verse and ponder or pray or just remember you are loved. We hope this is especially useful for the older parishioners who live alone and can use an extra reminder of God's love and their importance to the little people. 
I think our relatively "home-bound" existence lately was what allowed us to have the time and interest in completing such a large project. Whatever the reason, I am happy with the result. It was a great way to teach the little people about bringing joy to others. We even said some prayers while we worked. #1 reminded us, "we really are Ora et Labora now" ;0)

We attended 8 AM Mass as a family and took the jars, handing them out after Mass was over. I am always humbled by the reaction that results from reaching out. There was one gentleman in particular, who's wife was at home ill, who thanked us profusely. I do hope my kids are starting to feel the grace and joy that come from doing something for someone else.We are so blessed to be here, in this parish, among these people. 

To read some awesome stuff the Pope said recently about marriage and commitment, go HERE

Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Pray for Us.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love One Another

From time to time, I see some blog posters who choose a "word" for the year...something that they can go to and flesh out over those months. I am all for yearly goals but, for some reason, I can't jump into that kind of commitment right now. Yet, over the last several weeks, I have definitely been coming back to the same word again and again


The Greeks talk about Eros, Philia, and Agape  forms of love.

Eros is what gets everyone excited on days like Valentine's Day. In Ancient Greek, Eros means "intimate love". Eros, the Greek counterpart of Cupid, was believed to go around shooting people with "love darts" and spreading theia mania (madness from the gods). That is a nice descriptor, don't you think? I do think falling in love does feel a little bit like losing your mind. For sure, it often feels out-of-control, like you've been shot with some type of unseen arrow. It is a crazy, wonderful feeling but, if you've been lucky enough to experience this fantastic ride, you also know it's often fleeting and usually comes with a downside. 

Philia is often referred to as the love that exists within families but, turning back to the philosophers, their definition covers a wide range of situations...from a close friend to your hairdresser (I think, living today, I would also include most Facebook friends).
Aristotle gives these examples of Philia -   

"young lovers (1156b2), lifelong friends (1156b12), cities with one another (1157a26), political or business contacts (1158a28), parents and children (1158b20), fellow-voyagers and fellow-soldiers (1159b28), members of the same religious society (1160a19), or of the same tribe (1161b14), a cobbler and the person who buys from him (1163b35)." 

Agape shows us the deepest aspect of love; selfless love...the love of Christ, dying on the cross for us. The love He wants us to aspire to in all dealings. 

When Christ asked Peter "do you love me"? He used the form of Agape. Peter, understanding his humanness, could respond only with the "Philia" form of love. Peter knows that he is friends with Jesus but is unsure if he can reach that level of self-sacrificing love. 

C.S. Lewis defines Agape love as follows:
 "the highest level of love known to humanity – a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.

Jesus refers to Agape love The Sermon on the Mount :
  You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love (agapēseis) your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love (agapāte) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?

—Matthew 5:43-46
I was talking to my friend the other day and we were reflecting on the fact that we, as Christians, are called to show Christ's love to all we meet. Ug. I can sit in Adoration for hours, pray the rosary, read and reflect on the Catechism but this love's hard for me. I'm a bit like Peter. I will help you and support you. I will want with all my heart to put your needs above mine. Sometimes I succeed. Often, though, my brokenness is too strong and I fail. I am selfish. I want to know why I should help when I already have so much on my plate? When I was praying the novena last week, the knot I asked Our Mother to untie was one in which I was putting myself before others. It's a frequent  theme in my life.

I think that's why these last four weeks have been such a gift. The blessing of receiving love and care from others, aside from meeting my spiritual and corporal needs, has been my realization that Agape, while an all-the-time thing for Christ and his Blessed Mother, probably comes more in spurts to the rest of us. The people who have been helping watch my kids and cook meals and run errands, they are shining with Agape love in those moments. What could be more love-of-other than cooking a meal and delivering it to a family who's mother is unable to feed her family? Who would volunteer to watch 5 kids unless it came from a completely selfless place? DH, more than anyone, has been so full of Agape love during this time. Of course, there are moments of short-temper and exhaustion. We are all human and I think our Agape capacity will always be limited. Still, there is hope. 

Striving to be the face of Christ means moving in that direction; trying to put others before me in all possible situations. Sometimes this is as simple as holding a door, or giving a smile. Often it is so much more difficult. In the last ten days I have had friends and neighbors who are going through major illnesses, losses, and life changes. I struggle with how to show the face of Christ to those dear people. What do I "do" to help a family who just had their much longed-for baby taken from the womb back to Heaven? How do I show Christ to the family who is struggling to transition from the home they've shared for decades into an assisted living situation, likely their last dwelling place on Earth? From this bed, how can I possibly help a young mother who is facing a dire health situation within her family? I was feeling more helpless than usual.

So, I prayed and I will continue to pray. When I am again "on my feet" I will be able to help in a more tangible way but, ultimately, I feel that most times prayer is the best thing we can do. Even then, there will be days and situations that don't have an easy solution. I am at a complete loss for my friends who lost their child. I know in His wisdom, God's will is good and correct but at the moment I'm so angry and sad about that situation. When, God willing, I get to heaven, it's going to be on the my Top 10 List of "what were You thinking?" ;0) So, I pray. I pray that they are given more grace because it is their cross to bear. I pray (and know fully) that God can listen to my hurt and anger and continue to love me abundantly as His flawed child. I am so blessed.

I'm not sure if this is what I had originally intended with this blog. I suppose, to try to tie it up neatly, I will wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. Show love to those you love and those you don't. Pray for the people who have hurt you. Help someone in need. Don't forget the other feast day on February 14th. Strive to make every day, not just tomorrow, a day when you choose other over self. Can you imagine a world where everyone made that decision?

Monday, February 10, 2014


Today is the feast of St. Scholastica, twin sister of St. Benedict (what were their parents doing right?) I love the story of these two, most especially the story of their last encounter on earth:
The twins visited each other once a year in a farmhouse because Scholastica was not permitted inside the monastery. They spent these times discussing spiritual matters.
According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the brother and sister spent their last day together in prayer and conversation. Scholastica sensed her death was close at hand and she begged Benedict to stay with her until the next day.
He refused her request because he did not want to spend a night outside the monastery, thus breaking his own Rule. Scholastica asked God to let her brother remain and a severe thunderstorm broke out, preventing Benedict and his monks from returning to the abbey.
Benedict cried out, “God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?” Scholastica replied, “I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and he granted it.”
Brother and sister parted the next morning after their long discussion. Three days later, Benedict was praying in his monastery and saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in the form of a white dove. Benedict then announced the death of his sister to the monks and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
Isn't that just the story of siblings? If your brother won't do your will, go to a higher authority ;0) How pleased God must have been with the work of these two. How generous He was to insure the last wish of a faithful servant. What a beautiful image of the dove and St. Benedict burying his beloved sister.

We have much to learn from this story...both as siblings and in the act of raising our children as siblings. May we strive to create a bond so loving and strong, bound by dedication to Our Lord.

St. Scholastica, Pray for Us!

St. Scholastica

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Update

Considering I've only been going out for doctor's appointments, it's been a whirlwind of activity here the last three days!

Friday - My lovely aunt agreed to serve as my driver and took me to get my hair done AND to lunch at Armstrong's! Double bonus. Triple, actually...if there is one thing I love, it's time with my aunt. We like to sit around and solve the world's problems. That's why I named my firstborn after her...she is just that great. Add to that a Buffalo chicken salad...priceless.

Saturday - We all took advantage of a lovely dinner at the neighboring parish to celebrate World Marriage Sunday (a day early). For $20 we had free childcare (they served the kids pizza and entertained them) while we ate a very nice buffet dinner and played some marriage games. The ones we stayed for (we packed up 30 min early because my foot had begun to hurt - could have been the 40+ steps on crutches) involved working with our table mates to answer marriage trivia questions. Interesting tidbits like "What do they throw at newlyweds in the Czech republic?" (peas), "How long was the longest bridal train?" (1.85 miles) and "how many US Presidents were married in office?" (three). Needless to say we only got one of those three correct! It was a lot of fun and the Mass preceding it was wonderful (my first in three weeks), including a beautiful blessing for married couples during which we restated our vows. It's nice that people make a big deal about Valentine's Day but, really, it's over-the-top commercial these days. This was such a great idea...time with DH among other married couples who share our faith. It was so lovely to hear that there were people two tables down who were celebrating their 50th anniversary this year!

Sunday - The thing I left out about Saturday... it was a long walk through a snowy parking lot and, still not the quickest study on crutches, I fell. So, this morning, I was extremely sore and very thankful that I had no where to go. I slept in, took a long hot shower and spent some time with my girls working on our Valentine's Day Mass gifts (more on that later) while the boys were at Blue Knights. We even had a visit from Blondie's favorite godmother and #1's best friend :0) The night ended with a generous soul braving the snow to bring us yummy, yummy, YUMMY marinated flank steak (soy sauce, ginger, garlic) and broccoli with potato casserole. Man I am going to be bummed when this meal thing ends!

We made it! This is the week when I will put my left foot on the floor and begin to walk again. I am sooo excited (even though I know it's going to hurt at the beginning). I am grateful that we all made it this far and I do look forward to returning to my vocation full-time. I have missed it greatly.

I am so very blessed!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Do not disturb: I'm on retreat


I had a bit of a terse email exchange with someone yesterday because, the day before, he mentioned that my convalescence must be "like a retreat". Being that I have little else to do but parse every word that comes across my screen, I took the time to instruct him how this, while certainly a time of redemptive suffering, was most definitely NOT a retreat! How funny that he should even suggest such a thing.

Of course, this person is dear to me and the exchange was disturbing so I have been rehashing it in my brain. In hopes of learning something more than how to irrationally respond from "where I am now" and instead see it from a well-intentioned perspective, here is what I discovered :

1. Sleep - When I go on retreat I usually don't get much sleep (there is no AC and women, when gathered in a group, seem to like to chatter well into the night, thereby keeping the rest of us awake). Still, the sleep I do get is normally quite sweet. Even the few times I slept in a convent during my college days (I had a friend in formation and another who was just a nun-magnet) were some of the best nights of my life in terms of deep, peaceful rest. During the last few weeks our sleep, while not long, has been relatively undisturbed. Even the little boys who used to be up and ready to roll at 6 AM have been snoozing until at least 8. While it makes me feel slothful some days, I realize it is only a short period of time and, once past, we will likely be back to our early morning routine. Such is the blessing of home school - no bus to miss!

2. Prayer - When on retreat, I am usually up at 5 (quality not quantity of sleep!) to join the sisters for Lauds and daily Mass. There is something soooo refreshing about getting your body up soooo early just to go and pray. It always calms me. No nuns here and there is little hope of my rising at 5. Still, I have managed to get into a pre-breakfast rosary/novena routine (offered this morning for the aforementioned email sender) and that has made me look forward to the mornings - a blessing for me the, decidedly not, morning person!

3. Quiet - I can't call this house quiet, at least not between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM. Yet, there are moments during those times when I can sit upstairs, away from the chaos, and be reflective. This was something that was missing during my normal, non-cast routine. I am so grateful for these times of solitude.

4. Meals - One of the best parts of a retreat is showing up and having food ready to eat - without my having done anything! I have been so blessed in these last weeks to have had that more days than not. The ladies from a Catholic mom's group to which I belong, as well as the lovely women of our parish, have made sure that our nutritional needs are being met. The parish ladies, especially, having cooked for their kids over many years, have a keen understanding of what to serve a little person.

It seems, as often happens in my life, I am wrong after all. While this time away from my normal routine isn't always so pleasant, it is most definitely blessed. With that, my apologies to the email writer...turns out you were right in many ways. Thank you for helping me take the time to realize that even a period of challenge and suffering can be a "retreat".

I am so very blessed :0)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pray with Me...


The painting by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner, of around 1700, is in the Catholic pilgrimage church of St. Peter am Perlach, otherwise known as the Perlach church, in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany.

Do you have lots of issues, big and little, that seem to tangle up your life and keep it from looking like the smooth ribbon you wish to live? Perhaps you'd like to join me then. This morning I started a Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots . It is such a beautiful novena and it also happens to be a favorite devotion of Pope Francis. You can read more about it here.

I love the idea that Our Lady is in Heaven, working to straighten out our lives. So far in my only eight years of motherhood, I realize this is one of the motherly duties, day-in and day-out. It makes sense then that Our Mother would lovingly do that for us.

Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me of the small knots in my life has been my inability, while involved with my recovery, to keep in touch with a lovely couple from our parish. They are in their 80's and raised 5 children in a house around the corner from us. In the past few months, they were both forced to go into a nursing home (thankfully the same one) due to poor health. We had been writing and calling but I've fallen away from that for a few weeks. I have been feeling guilty about not making time to reach out and it was really weighing on my heart. Don't you know, as I was posting the prayer above, the phone rang with Mr. Tony on the line. Our Blessed Mother...what love she has for us! We are so very blessed :0)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

(Rollin' Stone...) Wanna see my picture on the cover

(Stone...) Wanna buy five copies for my mother...
(Stone...) Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rollin' Stone

For you youngsters, it's Dr. Hook, and the other lyrics are horrid but it popped into my head when I saw this picture... the tune is catchy ;0)

I have to admit, something about this picture tugs my the "popular culture" has hijacked our Holy Father. Still, there is something so wise about this man. His simplicity draws people to him and then, having them close, he can speak to the issues that are so important in today's society.

I bring this up specifically to give kudos to the Vatican Press Office regarding the article itself which, speaks disparagingly about our former Pope.

"Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, had strong words regarding a recent article on Pope Francis that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. The Holy Father made the cover of the magazine yesterday.

While acknowledging that the Holy Father’s appearance on the front cover shows the interest in different environments, Fr. Lombardi denounced the negative portrayal of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate, saying the article disqualifies itself as serious journalism.
“Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling in the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which in order to highlight the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it should describe in a negative way the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and does so with a surprising crudeness,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement.

What a shame,” Fr. Lombardi stated. 'This is not the way to do a good service even to Pope Francis, who knows very well what the Church owes to his predecessor'"

If the Pope is to become a celebrity in today's society, it is right and just that he use his time in the spotlight to teach important truths - like the ability to build one person up without tearing down another.

I love our Papa! We are blessed!