Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thanks for waiting.

Last Friday morning we set out for Latrobe. Step Up is on Friday and since it was the second week, I didn't want to miss more than could be avoided. There is karate and art and PowerPoint to learn!

Before Latrobe, though, we made a stop to say "hello" to my dad who would have been 85 the previous week.

and water the crispy flowers

He's not holding his head...he's blessing himself. LOL
As we were leaving St. Vincent, we passed a jogger who was wildly flagging us down. When we stopped, we realized it was because his co-jogger, who was diabetic, had collapsed on the side of the road mid-seizure. How scary. What an excellent time to say a prayer while DH called 911. It was over in a few minutes (the paramedics arrived) but we were happy to have been there when needed.

7 hours later....should have been 6 but there was an accident and we were stuck in traffic...we landed at our roost for the night. My brother's mountain house. It is a beautiful house but if you're an animal lover (live animals) don't look at the next few pictures.

ugly beasts

our roomies

our next door neighbors

country people don't like curtains...I like to was a full see where this is going

I was so touched by this. The states that brought us our niece and nephew :0)

In the morning, while I was trying and failing to sleep, my big brother held a cooking clinic with the kids. It was so good to spend even a little bit of time with him. The godson was thrilled.

He even made G a Mickey Mouse pancake. Good uncle!
We said our goodbyes and headed North (and East, I think). About 3 hours later, we arrived at our home for the next two nights. My husband looks forward to tolerates my choices in lodging. It turned out to be a HUGE blessing. No phone/Internet/TV. We watched the Incredibles one night and played some launch pads on occasion but mostly, it was family time....with our new additions...CHICKENS's a barn. Fabulous!

view from our bed...again, NO curtains

Blondie in her sunbeam

Brothers :0)

Chilly night, roaring fire...perfect.

My dream kitchen. The space was amazing.

They were captivated

even the city boy gathered the eggs!

I was also captivated with the chickens. So much so that DH and I sat up last night adding up the costs involved (we are actually allowed a few in the city!). When the topic of "predators" came up it was enough to sway the discussion to the negative. It's one thing to pay $10 for a dozen (granted, farm fresh!) eggs and another to explain to a 7-year-old where his chicken went. Shudder.

OK, that's your update for today. I will depend on the grace of the Holy Spirit to get me through the next 30 hours and I'll be back with all the highlights of the really must go. It was amazing.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11

Right. I may have mentioned we returned from our pilgrimage yesterday. Because I wanted to have "only family time" I felt it better to leave my lesson plans at home. It was the right decision...then I was up until 12:24 this morning trying to finish. Ug. I'm too old for that. Especially after driving 7+ hours. But, you make choices and live with consequences.

I may have also mentioned that 40 Days for Life is happening (at an abortion clinic near you! go sign up and witness, pray and fast!). I have a love-hate with 40 days. I feel so called to it and I want so much for it not to exist. I don't want to stand on the street in front of an abortion clinic. I don't want to smile at people who sometimes smile, sometimes avert their eyes, sometimes make snarky comments. I want abortion to be a long-ago memory. Sigh. No such luck right now.

DH and have been debating lately whether or not you should "educate" people to their misconceptions so that they can make an informed choice to decide whether or not to go against what is right. We agree that you should. Sometimes I would like to remain ignorant. Like this morning around 12:20 AM when I read the 40 Days feed from yesterday and saw this:
20150928_080341“In the face of cowardliness, laziness or excuses, we have to keep in mind that many people depend on our word and example if they are to receive the grace to follow Christ more closely.”   Fr. F. Fernandez
Gah. Leave it to Tim to be the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit. I had almost convinced myself that I was too tired and busy to go down today, even though there was no reason not to. I am tired (my own doing) and busy (I did grocery shop this morning and my helper is here so, we're good for another day). As I said, no reason.

Off I went. Did I mention that it was POURING rain? It's all good. The garage is open again and I won't melt (a classic phrase of my dear mom). The clarity of those 30+ minutes was a gift of grace that I have come to expect during my time at the vigil. Perhaps this is actually my stand (rain, sun, cold) and witness (mainly standing and praying, smiling or passing on a "God bless you" sometimes) for the babies, their mothers and fathers, and the people of our city. The dear shift manager who was working when I came down was having the most wonderful dialogue with us about standing in the pouring rain outside an abortion clinic..."for the babies" she said, "we have to save these babies".

Today I realized, what Matthew was talking about with the yoke and burden. If this is my burden, how joyful I am to carry it, knowing that I am surrounded by those who are willing to do the same.

 - Tim, who witnesses every Saturday, 40 Days or not, and always with the face of Christ

 - Bill, who in response to my "good day, Bill?" replied "I'm doing God's work." Love him.

 - Jeannie, who has the God-fueled hope and trust to sign up her parish for 12 hours straight and know that the need will be filled.

 - Me, in my brokenness, who can stand in the rain and pray a rosary with a serenity that isn't easily grasped in my life right now.

Yes...sweetness of the Cross!

So, I will continue to do what I can to listen to and follow the law of the Lord. The flesh is so week (certainly mine is) and society is so full of distraction (does that shirt "spark joy" for you? you obsess about having the right dinnerware?) it is easy to become confused about our path. Today I was blessed, having followed His call, to feel without question the rightness of my decision. The peace I had and continue to have from my short time there is my assurance of right praise. (If you heard Bishop Barron's keynote at World Meeting of Families, you know about orthodoxy, aka "right praise"...if not, look it up!)

Pilgrimage recap to come. Promise.

We are blessed.

Monday, September 28, 2015

We are home!

Another successful pilgrimage and facing another week exhausted (a big week, too) but all thanks to God, we are here, safe, and fulfilled from our journey.

More later. A few pics now.
The very holy front of the Saint JPII relic/shrine

To be fair we were in the church about 4 hours over 2 was a lot for a little guy

Freedom from Fear...beautiful
Sleep well, everyone. Can't wait to tell you all about our grace-filled journey.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ora et Labora

Happy Feast of St. Padre Pio! Yes, he was a Capuchin but we are doing a lot of working and praying around here so I don't think he would mind...

First, the rosary. What a wonderful prayer...what a great way to help others as you beg Our Lady to guide you to her Son! After that, you can catch up on your St. Therese novena ;0)

Today also happens to be the Mass for the Canonization of St. Junipero Serra...the first on American soil! How blessed we are to be able to "join in" via EWTN (we watched Bishop Barron's keynote last night - fantastic!). Join us this afternoon at 3:30 EST. A great way to give thanks to God for his loyal servant who brought the faith to California.
He walked most of the way...

Today would also have been my dad's 85th birthday. Wow, that's amazing to me. Losing someone at 67 makes it hard to "fast forward" 18 years. My life now couldn't be more different...all in the best of ways. I can't help but know that he's working some things out for me from behind the veil. It is comforting to have someone I loved so much on the other side...makes everything a lot less scary.

I'm not sure whether or not my dad knew he shared Padre Pio's feast day. It is nice for me...especially now that it is also the day of Junipero Serra's canonization. My father was open to God's will (he did have five kids ;0)) and active in his faith. He passed it along to his children and, even if it doesn't always seem like it stuck so well, it is in our bones. I have felt it all along, even when I chose otherwise. I am grateful for his time spent showing us how to live the faith. Even without him here, his example comes to me often in my daily life of sacrifices and joys.

The Labora part is mostly fun...G is with Grammy, the kids are completing their math and history and reading together...oh and processing the pope's trip in art
"The pope visits the US Capitol" - note the difference in size (read influence) between the Vicar of Christ and the American Government. ;0) Good girl.
I'm prepping for our pilgrimage which is no real work. Today I'm making our go-to travel snack
Morning Glory Muffins (sorry, too much rushing...shaking this morning)
Mmmmm. Filled with coconut (see? we eat it sometimes) and pineapple and carrots. I think it's particularly appropriate now since it reminds me of this
written by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC...Marians of the Immaculate Conception, a ministry of whose happens to be the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. I can't make this up, people. God is that good ;0)

Heavenly Father, look on us, your servants, today. Obtain the intersession of your Saints Padre Pio and Junipero Serra to show us the daily way of living and witnessing to Your law. Give us the graces we need to suffer for you and show the good that comes from right prayer.

We are blessed!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Devil and Distraction

I have a few friends in total, most of whom I would count as extremely faithful people. Although most are Catholic, a few are not. I have great respect for people who come to the fullness of their faith in their tradition and live it genuinely. Long ago I worked with a devout Muslim. I knew if we were driving some distance, he would stop to pray on the side of the road at least once. His willingness to endure the honks and stares of others while he prayed was witness to me of his dedication to his faith. I think that is lacking for many people these days. is something that you go to when you're desperate or as a weekly routine...the meaning behind the motivation is missing.

So, it's easy to become distracted. It's easy to worry about the organization of your house or how much toxin is in the plastic cup you use. We spend a lot of our time distracted by articles and TV shows that tell us what we should be doing. We know what we should be doing...listening and following.

So, let's start today. Let's not be afraid. Look at what the pope says...a fragile faith is in great strong in your faith. Be not afraid (as a former-pope-now-Saint liked to say)!

I know you get tired of me talking about it so let's listen to someone in authority
Right, see? What we need to do is acknowledge that the devil is at work all around us...every day. He is there when we choose activities over faith or family time, there when we worry more about what other people think of us and less about what God thinks of us, there when we let society seep into our homes with unwelcome agendas...

a digression, kind of...we were instructed at Mass this morning to watch a local newscast because a "native daughter" (that's what we say at St. Bernard...) was going to be interviewed about the pope in DC. We made it through the first segment of the pope spotlight (not covering the young woman we hoped to see) and they launched immediately into "BREAKING NEWS....ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST FOUND GUILTY OF TOURISM SEX ABUSE OF CHILDREN". I wish I were lying. I wish it were just an accident that it happened that way. Guess what? The news is all about society and society is all about corrupting our kids so that they think anything that goes against God's law is normal...that and that all priests are pedophiles.

"Disfigure"...another good word. From the guy that everyone (except readers of the New York Times) loves ;0) 
The motivation for this post...I have two dear friends who have recently gone head-to-head with evil in their lives. I am certain it's because they are on the right path and, frankly, Satan is getting agitated. It seems counter intuitive but it is true and real...the closer you move to God, the more the Dark One throws stuff in your way to distract you. If you've read the Screwtape Letters, you know we distract ourselves plenty so the minions are standing around enjoying our destruction by our own hand. If we focus on heaven as our goal and move in that direction, be will come. But, have hope, as the pope says, "God is stronger!"  Amen.

I am looking forward to watching his visit as much as possible. I will be sticking to EWTN because I want my kids to watch as well.

We are blessed.

ps- today starts the Novena to St. Therese the Little Flower. If you miss today, just make it up tomorrow but do join will give you something on which to focus!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Blessed Week

I sounded a bit whiny in my weekly wrap-up, sorry about that. I do become slightly overwhelmed and extremely tired these days. My exhaustion can exhibit itself as crabbiness... I do regret that. I'm sort of amazed on a daily basis how much God loves us and is willing to show as much if we just open our hearts and minds. I need to say that now since it's probably not always clear.

Today is my day off. I have lesson plans and another project but my mom duties are on the back burner. This is good since, as is usually the case after a hectic few weeks, I am dealing with a rather wicked throat ailment and Mr. G along with me (Kellie, I beg you, don't even think the "s" word ;0)) So I'm resting for the most part which is good because, while I'm resting I can do some planning on my laptop. There is a lot to plan and pray for over the next several days.

This is the beginning of a really big week! So many exciting things, so many people for whom to pray. First, of course, our Holy Father, who will be arriving on US soil in a very short amount of time.
Wouldn't it be a miracle if his visit could spur us on to making big changes in our lives? Changes to avoid distractions and focus squarely on God's plan for us.
On Friday, we will also be heading out on our personal pilgrimage to Stockbridge, MA. It is my fervent prayer that this will be a blessed opportunity for our family to concentrate on one another and on God. We are staying in the middle of the wilderness, in a barn
I can't wait...wood burning fireplace and lots of room to run.

If you don't know about Stockbridge, there isn't a whole lot to do. Mass/confession/rosary/chaplet at the Shrine all happen in the afternoon so I am excited to have slow wake ups, leisurely breakfast (they have chickens and we get the eggs!!!) then head out to pray and talk together. We will also hit the Norman Rockwell museum (school is everywhere!)

The final excitement for the week is the embarking of the pilgrims from ours and a few other parishes to attend the ordination to the transitional diaconate of our dear Adam Potter and his classmates. This man will make such a wonderful priest. He is honest and forthright and genuine. How blessed we have been to know him during this journey.
Join us in praying for the safety of the pilgrims and God's blessings on the deacons!

Today's project was finishing Adam's book. We went on our pilgrimage to pray for him and his classmates back in August and since then I've been working on a photo book about our journey and the lessons we learned. I have to say, I am extremely pleased with the way it turned out (even the mistaken city that I corrected with black shows my humanness.)

DH reading it to the kids. It was so fun to relive our experiences!

The plain packaging ;0) They are little black crosses...I had to dress it for travel. Not sure if it will have to be unwrapped...and no giant bows. 

Reading over the book before I wrapped it up was a great moment of thanksgiving to me. The book is done, which is good, but the book was a complete work of the Holy Spirit. The churches we visited, the words that explained the journey, none of this could have come from me. We said "yes" to the stirrings and it resulted in something that is so wonderful to me...from our side and, hopefully, his. The gifts and graces that come from following God's plan are beyond description. I am so weak that it comes so much less often than it should but I am so grateful to have had the strength and opportunity to complete this call.

Please pray this week - for the pope, for the deacons-to-be, for traveling mercies, for anything that you know needs prayer. I have a feeling it's going to be a wonderfully grace-filled seven days.

We are blessed.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five on Friday...the Old and New edition

Wow. I am spent. It's a pity because my week is not done. I look so forward to sleeping in Sunday morning (and perhaps part of the afternoon). Whew.

1. Old friends, New Fun

The week started with hoagie making for Slovaks. Our friends were nice enough to purchase a few. We like to add "free delivery" to our patrons because it usually ends up a bonus for us. Like Monday. We went to drop off their order and ended up playing for quite a while, including spending some time marveling at their sweet new tree house. It helps when your dad is an engineer ;0)

2. Old routine, new people and new night

Tuesday is now our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd night. Sadly, there isn't a program nearby that will host all of our kids so, after dinner, we head North to get our religious booster for the week. It's such a wonderful program and having all of our children able to participate is fantastic (also because I get to read a book for 90 minutes straight!) Even the littlest two did wonderfully. Isn't he sweet? (minus the glowing eyes, of course)
That is the teacher on the floor...yes, her shirt does say "It's OK to be pro-life". Just another reason...

  3. Old, not fun routine

Wednesday my sweet left for Chicago on his yearly business trip. We did nothing but a little bit of school and generally hang out, missing our seventh family member. I did manage to get them to holy hour (ok 45 minutes and, although it wasn't stellar on our part, the grace was there. It got me to Thursday)

4. Old brain, new problems...

I blame my husband being out of town but, wow, Thursday was a complete non-starter. We had tickets to the afternoon ballgame. I bought five tickets a month ago, I guess thinking we would be leaving tiny behind with Terri. He was so pitiful I figured we'd all head down in the car after C's dance lesson (see below) and buy the other two tickets when we got there. Who knew it would be a beautiful day (I should have), thus spurring every person in the Pittsburgh area to want to see the game. After looking for parking for 20 min we handed the tickets to a random person in line and headed home to listen on the radio. They lost so it wasn't the worst game to miss and we spend a lot of fun playing our brand of baseball in the backyard.

Later that night, I bathed and fed everyone early so that we could head North of the city to hear Deacon Harold speak. He is a gifted homilist and speaks on "all the things we love" says marriage and family and pro-life issues. We made it through the traffic just in time to see a lot of older ladies praying the rosary. It was Christian Mothers this night...Deacon was Wednesday. Groan. Oh well, we said our rosary on the way up so it wasn't a total loss.


I finally gave in and signed Blondie up for Jazz/Acro classes (it's more acro than jazz). She is a dancer, I see that, so she might as well get her shot for a while. I'm excited for what I see and she loves it.

5. A heavy dose of old and new

This morning was the first Little Flowers session of the year. #1, having finished all four wreaths, has moved on to helper. #4 is officially a LF this year! Again, so excited. It's also nice that her sister is there with her. They are so different but also support one another like sisters should.
After pickup, we headed down to Duquesne University, home of my undergraduate degree. We were donating some money to sponsor students on a trip to see the pope so we figured we'd head to Mass as well. I love that place. Even with all the drama, it still holds such good memories for me. I am blessed to be able to take my kids there and introduce them to good people in a good place.
So many fountains to explore

The "still pool" Holy Spirit fountain

The coolest new statue...a giant-sized Duquesne ring (it was sooo beautifully sunny, thus the squinting)        
    After Mass, we headed East on the turnpike and arrived at Step Up, the first of the Fall session. Because I am insane, I signed them up for three one-hour classes, running from 2 PM to 5 PM. Little man has "pre-school" from 2 to 3:15 then we hang out around campus waiting for the others. This makes it impossible to get home for dinner so we're going to be brown bagging it a lot and looking for places to kill an hour or so before dance (also out East). Thankfully, tonight happened to be the festival of the parish that is overseen by our beloved Sister Dorothy (my friend from waaayyy back at Duquesne...see the previous paragraph.)

DH met up with us and we shared dinner, saw Sister for a bit, played some games (and won stuff...that #3 is too lucky for his own good). Even our current parish pastor and principal were on hand to say "hello" (he was at this parish before he came here and she is the same order as Sister Dorothy...I know, the Holy Spirit should be portrayed as a spider...the webs are amazing sometimes).

DH already holding #3's football from another game

a minion...of course

They were not successful in winning a hermit crab

With that I will bid you a fond farewell. I am beyond exhausted and tomorrow starts with worship aids, an 80th birthday party for my aunt, #1 serving a wedding, and back here after Mass for dinner. As I said, don't call on Sunday, I'm not answering.

I am so amazingly blessed with friends, family and fun!