Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekend of Riches...

Some time ago, I arrived at the realization that God, in His generosity, has allowed me to cultivate a certain type of friend during my later age. It's funny, really, because the close (in proximity) ones remain distant due to obligations and the distant ones seem more close most of the time. I do believe it is His love for me that prevents any one friend from becoming so bonded as to make for yet one more thing on this Earth to make me want to turn my eyes from Him. That is a great love.

That re-realization came at the end of a frustrating day of car-shopping (my van is becoming terminal and we have to make a decision of some sort). Would I like a shiny, new Transit (or NV? although, the name...I just can't)? I thought I did...or at least something new and shiny. Then, car salesmen being car salesman (children of God, of course, but a joy with which to deal? rarely), I was repulsed long enough to focus back on reality. The update...a new battery and more time to think about needs vs. wants.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly - Colossians:3

The somewhat tumultuous end of my week created even greater joy over what was to follow on the days of rest.

Me: "I'm going to breakfast with my friend, Maureen, today"
DH: "You mean your friend that you've never met?"
Me: "Yes."

DH: "Only in the Internet Age."

It is an odd thing, for me especially (see a much earlier post on friends in the age of Facebook).  A very long time ago, like 7 years, I was on a Catholic Moms email list. The list was national and ultimately responsible for my beginning a group for Catholic Moms in my area...anyway, that was where I first met Maureen and, only 6+ years later, we finally met in person.

I do believe there are people whom God has chosen for you to have in your life. Sitting and sharing breakfast, talking about our kids (she has the most amazing family and equally amazing story behind them) and all the other issues in was so easy and right. I am so grateful that I have her in my life, no matter how infrequently or how distantly. She is another one of those people that help me know the path we try to walk, so difficult at times, is the right one.

That same evening, our dear friends came for dinner on their way through town. They had a stop-over so their older kids stayed with us while they went back to being a "normal" family of four at the hotel. I hope they had a good time because it was so wonderful for our kids to catch up with friends.

Indoor picnic due to rain...I love having 10 kids at the table!

the girl beauty train

My godson is the can think what you wish...the truth is the truth ;0)

No reunion is complete without a sword fight

I didn't sleep much but that was mainly because of my bunk mate who was a pitiful boy, head full of mucus and coughing all night

I'm guessing the rest got some zzz's because they were all up for fruit, waffles and bacon before the fast began

and we were out the door in plenty of time for Mass.

It's not often I feel solid in the choices DH and I have made for our family (society creeps in so easily and so often...why don't I know about the new Harry Potter?) but today, hearing the Gospel while sitting in my pew with 8 little people, in direct view of my godson and my baby two pews ahead and the godparents (and their family) of our friend's daughter (who came to this Mass to retrieve a lost umbrella and instead found their goddaughter and family for an unexpected reunion...AHEM), I could do nothing but give so many thanks to Him who led me to take the steps that led us to these amazing, faith-filled people.

The treasure and future of the Church...Praise God!
To finish an already amazing weekend, we took a birthday meal to our dear "Mr. Ray" and then spent the evening with Grammy. How amazing is our God to allow us so many opportunities to store up the riches He has freely offered? How very good it is when we choose to do so.

But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.” Luke 12:20-21

Heavenly Father, help us to continue to seek Your will for our lives and to only wish to be rich in what matters to You.

We are blessed.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lucky 13

The number 13 is a big deal around here...not just the whole Fatima story which, you know, for a Blessed Mother devotee such as myself is no small issue...but also my birthday, DH's birthday and Mr. G's birthday. Going way back, it was also my basketball number. Thirteen has been nothing but good to me for as long as I can remember.

So, maybe that's why I'm reflecting even more this year on our 13th anniversary. (forgive the photos of photos...I don't have time at the moment to scan)

We started it all here...

Yes, this was the worship site of a larger church but it seemed perfect for us. Small, understated, but pious and was where we attended most Masses. (It's now an Evangelical church of some sort and, humorously, it actually has a crucifix now, not just "Risen Christ" which always bugged me a bit...God is funny.)

My favorite picture of the whole day. Yes, it's a professional photo and yes it's that blurry. That is perfect for us...we don't have things perfect around here. It's good enough to see the crucifix, the joy on our faces, and our beloved Fr. Al. He would be off to his eternal reward less than a year later. I miss him so. I wish he were around to give his good counsel on my difficult days.

As "right" as the path was we thought we had planned after walking down that aisle, we could never have imagined how tried and blessed we would be thirteen years later. Babies lost to heaven and babies kept here on earth, extended family issues, moves, joys and sorrows. I am so grateful that this man has been beside me, growing in faith along with me. It has been a blessing to look back and realize how far we have traveled. It gives me good hope that we can, if it is God's plan, travel together farther down the road.

We never would have made a novena together early on in our marriage and this is the second year that we've made it almost completely through the St. Anne Novena (we missed one day this year...see the previous post). I am grateful to God for giving me a man who recognizes the importance of faith, of placing God first in this journey. He is present and faithful and a wonderful witness to our entire family.
Tomorrow we will begin our anniversary day with the final Mass of the novena (extra special because it's also the grouchy blonde's baptism day ;0)) then come home for school and pool and a celebration dinner. How many things we have to be thankful for! How many blessings we have received! How graced we have been to have Sts. Joachim, Anne, along with the Blessed Mother, guiding us always towards heaven, even during our most difficult days.

Sts. Joachim and Anne, Pray for Us!

We are blessed.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Man's plan and God's plan

Yesterday we went to vigil Mass at Holy Innocents Catholic Church which, sadly, will close next Sunday as a result of consolidation. We had our first experience there two years ago, when we attended Stations of the Cross, and I immediately fell in love with this beautiful parish. Going for the last time before the doors close created more grief than I had anticipated.

I had told DH how "beautiful" the parish was and, while there are parts that are truly stunning, it is fairly typical of the churches created at that time. Reflecting more after Mass, I realized it was the people we met, the priest who said the Stations, the full faith experience that made it beautiful to me. That's why I got more than a little stirred up as I sat and listened to the first reading when Abraham was pleading for God's mercy to save the innocent people in Genesis 18.
But he still persisted:
"Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?"
He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."

Surely the "sins" of the people in this parish can't compare to those of Sodom and Gomorrah? As I watched the 70- and 80-year-old people serving at the altar and worshiping at the pews, the worst mistake I could see was their refusing to flee to suburbia with the rest of the Catholics who once worshiped beside them (if not fleeing the Church completely). Is it because they failed to instill the faith in their children? Perhaps. Being a parent has created great empathy in me, though...I see that you can try mightily to instill the faith in your children but if there is little leadership to educate and society pressing in on all sides, it becomes a very difficult task.

The church was not air-conditioned (remember when none of them were?) and our little ones were less than happy to sit and swelter. How kind of God to send a Missionary priest to talk about his life on the Amazon, preaching to people who see a priest perhaps a few times each year. "Because they see us so rarely," Father said, "I spend as much time as possible with them...administering Sacraments and just talking to and being with them." It did provide a wealth of discussion for the ride home but it also stirred up some anger in me.

When did we become such a self-centered, spoiled, arrogant people? Why are the churches in the "poor" neighborhoods closing while the "not-poor" neighborhoods are building mega-churches or pouring millions of dollars into their showplaces? Church hopping is all the rage, have you noticed? "To which parish do you belong?" is often met with "Well, we're registered at St. X but we go to different parishes depending on the priest and the Mass times" or, and I was told this directly, "My envelopes go to your parish but I go somewhere else." Now it is especially poignant to shop for the places with air-conditioning or padded seats. Of course, Mass has to fit a time that is convenient with our other Sunday activities.

Before you think it's a preachy thing, we attend our home parish about 65% of the time for Sunday Mass. Holy days, Holy hours, weekday Masses are almost exclusively there. So, we do it too. Clearly not for padded seats or ac though. Why then? I suppose because "everyone else does it" and I'm unclear that "sticking it out with your home church" is beneficial in the long run to my children's spiritual well-being. There are the faith-filled people (who attend weekday Mass and holy hours) and staff that keep us from leaving completely but there is also a sense of and focus on worldly things that should be tempered by sitting in a hot church listening to a Missionary priest with an elderly population that comes because they want to, not because they are required. Redemptive suffering doesn't seem to be talked about much these days so we are making sure it is brought into conversation whenever possible. Christ didn't have a padded, air-conditioned one let him ride a donkey to Calvary and get a parking space up front before He was crucified. Heaven help us when the persecution begins in earnest. How many of us will run away to a more comfortable, convenient situation?

God is good in all things. I took this picture before we went in for Mass
It wasn't a rainbow after the thunderstorms but the "God rays" as we call them were abundant...the lines from Him to us, always reaching out to bring us back to Him. Looking at that and talking to DH about the morning's activities (he went to a local college with #s 1&2 son for a vocations talk) has calmed me a great deal.
An excellent father-son afternoon

and swag too ;0)

In the end, like the election, I feel it's beyond most anything for me to do except pray. Pray that everyone (including us) will release the need for the world and allow the need for God to be all-consuming. I pray that we can continue to see, experience, and discuss with our children so, even when the education from the outside is lacking, we are doing all we can to help them learn and understand the faith (it's so important...a very good Catholic person was wondering aloud recently why we can't have a couple of outdoor Masses every month in the the church next door. Ug. Simply a lack of Catechesis there.) I pray that we can find a loving way to act as a witness to others we meet (at least when we're working to learn and grow in the faith). I pray that God will lead us to opportunities, like the vocations talk, that will keep us moving in the direction of Him. Ultimately, I want to do all we can to be those ten people (and I hope there are so many more than ten!) that will stir God's compassion to save everyone. Join us, won't you?

We are blessed.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Busy, Blessed Day

In pictures because I'm too tired at the moment...

First Elsa and Batman made breakfast (sorry it's blurry, I literally just woke up)

Then I had some coffee and made breakfast...lots of protein, fluid and fruit

That's right!
It was Slovak day at Kennywood!!!
This year's display was all about Svaty Mikulas

St. Nicholas! (Ignore the Santa paper...different guy ;0))

The kids hung out and talked to the people coming by to ask about all the beautiful things
#1 got to try out her Slovak on the Consul who happened to stop by...she said, "I got as far as introducing him to everyone  and then it kind of fell apart." LOL

They were busy watching the jackrabbit out the back of the pavilion

which was too bad because Rick Sebak also stopped by

Time to get ready
Cheese boys
Not sure but it's definitely cute

Pretty sure he tried to touch the violin...never, ever, touch the violin ;p

time to dance


and toot


and swing your partner
I should mention that, despite being one of the cutest little kids around, Mr. G would not, under any circumstances, dance. Nope. Not at all. Even the promise of a cheregi would bring no positive result. Such is life with a 4-year-old.

One last picture with the special visitors then change back to ordinary kids and off to ride...

He was ornery all day...God bless his dad

I'm not sure he approved of her driving

The twins ;0)
Whew. The 98+ temps were brutal...time to head 5...across town. Just because we had the day off doesn't mean the rest of the city did! God, being so good, allowed us, in just a little over an hour, to pull into the parking lot of a local church for Day #4 of the St. Anne Novena. More on this later, suffice it to say that they will drag themselves after a full day to attend. Jesus's grandma is a pretty special lady.

After a lovely homily on mercy, I couldn't possibly withhold the cherished cheregi...sounds like breakfast to me!

All thanks to God for a wonderful, full, family-centered day. We are very, very blessed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I'm here...

I've just created a bit of insanity for myself so I'm not in a place to do a super well-thought-out post. Grateful to the Holy Spirit for the unmistakable shout-out that not even I would miss.

Yesterday I was beyond a level of exhaustion with which I am comfortable. As always, this resulted in crabbiness and a general feeling of blech. How lovely that He, in His spare time, would call me to Adoration during my hour of free time. How amazing that He would again call me to read the daily readings during that hour. How perfect that the Gospel would be from Matthew 11:

Confession that afternoon brought some sage advice from the priest, "wasn't it today's Gospel reading?" he said. Our God is so good, isn't He? Even as small as we difficult as we make our life...He reaches out constantly to remind us that only He can give us the rest we require.

We are so blessed.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pinkie Pie

It's been her nickname from the beginning...

being the "pinkest" of all our children

Her sister was overjoyed to even up the gender count (and I think her eldest brother was a bit frightened)

Her baptism day is 7 years to the day that DH and I stood before God and became man and wife.

Yep, she's a pretty special lady around here...Happy 6th Birthday to sweet #4...stubborn, faith-filled, loving, sanctifying, precious child of God. We are so grateful that you were chosen for us.

We are blessed.