Thursday, April 30, 2015

And then...

I'm praying in Adoration, greatly troubled, and it's almost 3 so I pull up the None (Afternoon Prayer) from the Divine Liturgy

Psalm 118(119): 153-160
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. 
See my distress, and rescue me,
  since I have not forgotten your law.
Give judgement in my case and redeem me;
  give me life, as you have promised.
The wicked are far from salvation:
  they have not sought out your judgements.
Your acts of kindness are many:
  Lord, give me life as you have decreed.
How many pursue me and trouble me!
  But I have not abandoned your decrees.
I have seen liars and they disgust me,
  since they have ignored your promises.
Lord, see how I love your commandments!
  In your loving kindness, give me life.
Truth lies behind all your words:
  justice makes your judgements last for ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

I'm not happy but I am at peace. I cried out and was heard.

I am blessed.

Can you pray for me?

I'm not sure how to pull off this..."work all the time trying to raise your kids and still make sure that everyone else you encounter is perfectly fulfilled by their experience with you". I'm finding I always, always choose family over the greater society and it's not working...I recently tried to do something that, by all accounts, would help my child grow and appreciate the faith and I went about it in the wrong manner and totally screwed it up. Now the place that was so comforting and peaceful to me is foreign and painful.

Thanks in advance. It will eventually pass, or change, or go away, it's just really raw right now and I'm not dealing with it well. I am so grateful that God has given me my home and family; my refuge for days like this.

I am blessed (even when the trial is overwhelming)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just so we're all clear..

I wanted to remind you, if you're reading this blog...right in the header it says "a practicing (though often failing) Catholic". This means, if you are here to find out the surefire way to be the best possible Catholic you can, you will find support from me and, I hope, more than a few good suggestions.

What you will also find, however, is a person who struggles with faith sometimes. I struggle with how to be a Catholic in the midst of today's society. I struggle with our choice of a parish and whether or not it supports and confirms our choice as parents (most days, a resounding "yes") while also giving ample opportunity for "teachable moments". I struggle with our parenting choices and whether or not they will ultimately put and keep our children on the path to heaven.

If you read the struggle, and I've said this before, please take everything - good and bad - with a grain of salt. When I get frustrated it can come out more harshly than I would have liked. Hopefully my abundant gratitude for all of my blessings comes through as well.

What I won't do is stop writing. I find that this outlet is, in addition to helping some people realize that we're all trying to find our way, a very healthy way to work through some of my issues. If you find it disheartening or destructive to you for whatever reason, please stop reading. That is completely up to you.

Since today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a Church Doctor who found it necessary to speak out about things, even when it meant persecution and slander, I think this should be re-posted. If someone as wise as she said it, perhaps it is worth a second look.

I am blessed.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

St. Bernard for your Sunday

The love of God is not something that can somehow profitably be fitted into a man's life. It is a man's whole reason for existing, and until he loves God man does not really begin to live. - St. Bernard of Clairvaux , De Diligendo Deo

Hope you had a good one. We are blessed.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Patience, Persistence, Love

I can tell the end of the year is closing in. I feel some of the anxiety...have we done enough?...have they learned anything? they love or resent being here? So, I was grateful to be able to take a few hours out today to attend a retreat at the local seminary.

There were good parts and not so good parts but, when added to the readings of earlier this week, the themes seemed consistent.


One of my favorite parts of any retreat is going to confession to someone other than my parish priest. I don't have anything against them and, as I've mentioned before, there is one who really seems to understand me as much as I would expect any priest could. Today, though, I had one of the really nice "sit and chat with Jesus" confessions. Usually, when I tell the priest I'm a unicorn (a really old woman with fairly young kids and a short temper) they smile or giggle or ignore...not this time. Christ was right there with me, walking and advising and speaking the words I needed to hear. Mainly, "Do you know how much patience the Father has for us? He gives us our entire lifetime to figure it out and then, if necessary, an extended stay in Purgatory." I have to say those words struck me...enough that, when my kids were less-than-great at Mass this evening, I still lobbied to eat out. Not to reward them but to have good, quality family time after a day apart. My patience doesn't come near that of my Heavenly Father but it can be better than it has been.

 The priest also mentioned something that made me laugh through my tears as I spoke of my burdens and my failings on so many days. He said I should take all of my worries and pleas to Our Lady. I know this and I told him so but he reminded me to remember this on my worst days. He said, "She's His mom, you know? He listens to her". It made me laugh because I think I do forget sometimes that Mary was human. The sheer number of things she endured; the frequency with which she followed the Father's seems super-human. Still, as father reminded me, there were probably days that she was cleaning up after Jesus and Joseph and felt less than appreciated. Still, she prayed and said "yes" and played a part in the greatest story of all time. Follow God, say "yes" to His plan for your life, beg assistance from the Blessed Mother. All of this will help you move through your life with the joy of knowing that you are a child of God.

From tomorrow's second reading

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.

So, when I have the days that I feel like a there is no reason to try to steep my kids in the faith because, in the end, they will make their own the pressure of society is too much to say "no" to if I say "yes" to God...this is the passage I will pray over. Even if I am never a "happy-clappy" person (the speaker used that today...makes me laugh) I will have joy and I will feel loved. The only love that transcends here and now and this world. That is the love for which I will strive and that is the love that I will do my best to impart to my children (while teaching them what it means to be "perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect"). This is the lesson that I hope, above all, I can teach them while they are in my charge.

Time passes and school will end and summer will go like a blink and school will begin again. Everything of this world passes. God never changes. To this I must cling. While doing so I will pray for those who are too turned around to even see what love the Father has bestowed. I will trust that His love can make all things good.

Happy Sunday, everyone :0) We are blessed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Our Final Friday

Today was the end of our semester at St. Vincent College for the Step Up program. Considering we found out about it the day before it started, I think it turned out well. We have lots of new information on bugs/firemen/health and nutrition/writing/Marc Brown/and microbiology! We only missed a few days and, considering the winter we just passed through, I believe that to be my biggest success.

It was the perfect end today. #2 came to 8 am Mass with me (#1 was serving) so that, along with our rosary split between the way out and back counted as our "something else" rather than abstaining this Friday. We were met with yummy Mexican dip a la Dad when we finally arrived home.

In between we took a leisurely drive out (not running from noon Mass means more time to get there!) and actually parked where we were assigned, rather than our usual basilica spot. We dropped everyone off at their assigned rooms and then Mr. G and I were off to enjoy the beautiful day.

Walk a bit, rest a bit, that's what we do.
Walk some more, stop at the coffee shop to quench with some white grape ;0)
 Why do I always end up in the School of Education?

We even saw the back of the basilica for a change!
 We headed back inside to pick up the "graduates" (no, there were no silly ceremonies, just really nice, portfolio-worthy certificates!)
 Last stop...Sweet Frog for some froyo. We found out that frog stands for Fully Rely On God! See? He is everywhere :0)

Now, two weeks to finish our classes at home and whew(!) some well-deserved rest.

We are blessed.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, First Born Son!

May you grow up to be as brave as your birthday name Saint and rely on your heavenly support often. You came into the world backwards and it shows ;0) but we love you very, very much.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The postman just delivered a better way to deal with the election...

First, I'll read this to the kids

then we will all immediately begin referring to opposing parties as the "Yooks" and "Zooks" ;0)

After which, we will sit in our back room and appreciate how very much love you can stuff into one tiny envelope.

Then, I'm guessing, the rest won't really matter.

We are so blessed (and loved).

Now that "election season" has officially begun...

I believe this will be my mantra...

and for the times I fail...

We are blessed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Day...St. Vincent style

 I recently received an announcement about Westmoreland County's Earth Day celebration which happened to be today, beginning at 11 AM on St. Vincent's campus. Mass at the basilica ran from 9:30 until 10:30...enough time after to meet a delightful priest, Fr. Fred, and show DH the kids' classrooms before heading down. Perfect.

The celebration was a wonderful smattering of all types of things; sun spots, trees of PA, solar energy, fishing, "trash art", a plant sale (I bought an aloe and some other kind of plant that was grown from cuttings by Fr. Fred. Score!). It was a great day to learn about some interesting things, spend time with the family, and see new things.

Oh, did I mention it was held in the Fred Rogers center? It has the most fabulous collections of all things Mr. Rogers. That was worth it alone. Here are some shots. I have to go do lesson plans.

 After Mass...gorgeous day!

Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., the first archabbot of Saint Vincent

 The sweaters and shoes...and the puppets!


 They had a telescope through which you could view sunspots after learning the science

 The extremely enthusiastic prof that explained solar flares as "when the sun throws up" lol...the boys are still quoting him.

 Kid area! Fish on a pretend pond then...

 work with the delightful assistant to measure and see if your fish is big enough to keep or if you have to throw it back. Very cool. 
So, did you ever spend a short time with someone and feel that familiarity and think, what's happening? Yes, well the beautiful young woman in the green sweater..she is the daughter of one of my best friends from high school. I haven't seen this girl in 8+ years and yet, she's just the same. What an incredible blessing to see her and spend a bit of time while learning stuff too! 
"What a coincidence" Ahem...

 Mr. Rogers dinosaur. Blondie was fascinated.
 "Peanut" the pig
 and some goats that made me smile and think of a faraway friend :0)

 The last exhibit was spinning wool into yarn.
 The lesson was excellent, interactive, and taught by the most delightful Benedictine brother and seminarian. I love when school involves specially clothed people. It lends itself to so much extra discussion in the car.

Having fed our spirit at Mass and our minds at the celebration, it was time for lunch. In honor of our dear Mrs. R, who celebrates her birthday today, we stopped at Red Robin and had a fun lunch while watching bowling on the big screen. What a perfect day.

We are so very blessed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Seven on Saturday

I needed a few extra this week...

1. Let's start with Thursday The top three had a "human body" class at the local Science Center. They learned about the brain and lots of other cool body stuff.

2. While they were enjoying their class, I took an hour out to go for a run on the riverfront. It was only drizzling when I left but, about a mile in, it really started a drenching downpour. Guess that makes me a "serious" runner ;0) (or at least someone who doesn't carry cab fare)
The brim of my hat was dripping. It was just me and the geese.

3. Friday found us heading out to St.Vincent for class again but first I wanted to get us all to Mass (we went the previous week and I'm trying to start a trend). I have wanted for some time to go to Duquesne for Mass at noon but having emailed the Campus Ministry secretary that morning, my fears were confirmed...the only parking was in the garage across campus. The forecast was rain but I was really, really feeling called to it so off we went. The garage was full so I talked to the guy in the "overflow/visitor" garage. He checked the schedule and told me to go ahead and park. It ended up being the closest space possible to the outside and free to boot! We made it across campus in enough time and were blessed (literally and figuratively) to have the celebrant be DH's former high school classmate. Add some Adoration immediately following Mass and, well, there you have it. Make the effort and God will reward you handsomely.

On our trip back across campus. When pulling out of the garage we said, probably a bit loudly, "All the time, God is good...God is good ALL THE TIME!" Indeed, He is.

4. Our Jeep died (finally!) last week and I've really dreaded what comes next. The whole car buying process is a nightmare for me. So, I was thankful when my mom offered to sell us her Pilot to use as our second (with a radio no less!) vehicle. In turn, she downsized to a zippy little Civic. DH went with her. He's much better with car salesmen.

5. Today is Saturday and that means Little Kickers. Perhaps it was my already down mood or perhaps it was my middle child's down mood but, despite Blondie loving every minute, I'm kind of over it. Playing water boy for the two little ones while fighting with Mr. G is not my idea of a good time. Oh well, only like 6 more to go. LOL

6. I got to go run a bit after we came home so I'm not complaining. Why am I running so much and still so fat you ask? Because every other day is a party around this house! Today was combination #2 and #5, my April birthday boys. Uncle Dave made an appearance, as did Grammy and Great Aunt. The weather was beautiful. It was so good to share our blessings with family (and the cake was a desensitization exercise for #2 who is terrified of bees at the moment. lol)

 We are so blessed to have my mom close by (and oh, wait, the Guinness may have something to do with the fat too...I blame Dave; he's just a good guest.)

 Walkie-talkie Morse code with brother

 Cute, right?

 Brothers :0)

I love these pictures. I remember crowding around my sibs when they were opening presents. Good stuff.

 6. If we ever fail to realize how very blessed we are, there seems to come along an instance of such terrific sorrow that we can't fully comprehend. I'm passing this on from a friend's blog. Please help as much as you can.

One more thing that has been on my heart and mind all day-- Yesterday, I found out that a friend of a woman in our homeschool group lost her husband on her way to the hospital to deliver their eighth child. Their vehicle was struck by a deer, and he was tragically killed. I cannot imagine having to go on to the hospital to deliver my child after losing my husband, and what the family must be experiencing right now, in what should be such a joyous occasion. There is a fund set up to help the family. The father had minimal life insurance, and there will be medical bills and a funeral to pay for, and they also want to provide a short-term safety net for this newly widowed mother of eight. If you feel called to contribute, here is the fundraiser for the family-- If you pray, please pray for this grieving family. 

Wishing you a happy Sunday. Please take the time to fully and completely give thanks for all of your blessings, big and small. God is good, all the time and He will never leave you.

We are blessed.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blessed boy, Blessed day

Well, for only being three, I think it was a pretty super day.

First, the weather is about as amazing as any beautiful spring day could be. The whole family went to Mass at 8 AM and there were no coats (!) or boots (!) or gloves(!). Wow. Spring is here and it's such a great thing to witness God's beauty. The clouds were pretty spectacular all day.

Birthday boy...not exactly an early riser

We dropped DH at work (dead Jeep, more later), hit a great new library, then headed to Market District. Oh yes. Today was the first day #5 could go to the 'Nest and we have only a few short months that #1 is still eligible so we must take full advantage.

 He even got a giant box of Swedish Fish because it's his BIRTHDAY!

When he came out he said "I like this store"

I just wandered around for about 40 minutes. It was mama's birthday gift :0)

Home and out to the yard for play and lunch. Again, the day was one of God's best efforts. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, gorgeous.

Reenacting opening day at PNC park

Picked up DH, had a lovely dinner and onto the birthday dessert. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dinner and he said "doughnuts". So, he had them instead of cake. Thank you to Nickelodeon for the cute cupcake toppers. 

The #3 candle has made it through five it went into the trash. Yes, we were all a bit sad.

What else could a little boy wish for on his most special day? A visit from Godmama and Godpapa of course.

Yes, that's about the best day anyone could wish for. I know we all agree because during bedtime prayer the top two "thankful for" moments of the day were "that Mr. G came into the world" and "Godmama and Godpapa".

We are so very blessed.

Happy Birthday, Mr. G

It was three years ago today that this big boy entered our lives. It's hard to imagine this house without our favorite baby, "I'm not a baby, mom, I'm a little boy", and that's just the way we like it. How blessed we have been by his funny, stubborn, loving way. Blessings to you today, my sweet. May God bless your path and may Our Lady wrap you in her mantle and keep you from harm.

We weighed them at the Science Center last week...he is only 4 pounds shy of his next older brother. Ahem...Uncle Charlie. LOL