Monday, December 25, 2017

Lessons learned...

Well, we've made it through another Advent and have arrived at the big day...the Birth of Our Savior! It's a wonderful day to consider all the gifts we've been given, especially those of love and joy and peace. I've been doing a lot of quiet thinking today (probably more than the rest of Advent, sadly...) and I think, today, I'm grateful for the gift of clarity.

You can't change people - I've learned this mostly from family interactions but it's pretty true of everyone. You can hope and pray that someone will come to see the error of their ways, that they'll change their thinking, that they'll xyz...ultimately it's their free will and God's prompting. You really, ultimately have no ability to alter or change it.

You should manage your expectations and your responses - After reading #1, I'm still amazed at how often I am saddened/shocked/disappointed in people that I already knew were going to act the way they did. I suppose there is a bit of hope remaining and that's a good thing, despair helps no one, but whatever it is, I think I need to work on tempering it with reality. I know how hard it is to change, especially things that are basically personality traits. I need to try to lead more with charity and love this year...despite the hurt or disappointment...and to remember that I disappoint and hurt often as well.

For me, Facebook is a time suck and Instagram is a near occasion of sin - Notice I've not been posting much? It's because I got back on FB. It was all well-intentioned, I assure you. I wanted to keep in touch with Slovak relatives, which I have, and that has been lovely. Knowing my tendency to waste time on nonsense things, I capped my friends at 20 and I've actually only got 18. My problem, I think, is a Catholic Mom's Group, full of mainly young mothers with high drama and a few Charismatics who seem to only want to stir up trouble. It's taken more time than I would have liked. As I also suspected, being "connected" on FB has meant not checking friends' blogs or sending email because, well, I already know everything that's happening with them, right? Not exactly.

Instagram. Well, I'll just say I already know that people only post the wonderful, shiny stuff and still it manages to pitch me in to a depression every.single.time. Ug. Sometimes my weakness is stunning even to me, and I've been with it my whole life.

Life is difficult, God is good and merciful - Do people manage without that second bit? Seriously? I seem to have a depression trough that falls right around the holiday and I'm pretty deep there at the moment. There were times earlier in my life that days like these would feel like the absolute end. No solutions, no hope. I am grateful that God was there when I decided to look out from my navel and I am grateful that He will be there again when I chose to do so now. How good is the Creator of the Universe to wait on us? The pathetic little sinners that choose wrong over right so much of the time? It's hard to wrap your head around that kind of all-consuming-always-available-never-selfish-never-resentful love. Wow. How blessed am I?

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Thanks for coming to save us! I surely do need it!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

New Year's Eve

I know, you think all the painkillers have damaged by brain but, NO!, it really is New Year's Eve...tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent, begins the new Liturgical Year. So, because it was on the calendar and my leg was feeling well enough to travel, we set out.

First stop, Sisters of the Redeemer, about 40 minutes south. Today is the First Saturday so they have their monthly rosary at 1:15. How beautiful to share prayer with the lovely Sisters in their beautiful chapel. How blessed to have nuns and a priest to chat with after. Wonderful, prayerful afternoon.
I've never seen a statue of Our Lady cradling Baby Jesus - beautiful!

nursing and kind of window!
Saying goodbye for now to our friends, we headed back into the city. Confession seems like the perfect thing for New Year's Eve and we just so happen to know a wonderful monastery that is a great place to seek God's forgiveness. I was slightly sad to not get our "favorite" priest but after having the discussion I did, I know it was Jesus, regardless of the man who was sitting in His place.
I so need a house on this hill.
My penance was to do three acts of kindness for my kids/husband over the next week or so. #1 was simple...let the little ones light candles in the shrine room. We all had a nice, quiet time of prayer and headed back down the hill.
The chili that I had put in the crock was ready when we arrived, cornbread quickly made, we had a wonderful family dinner. DH is playing bingo with them while I write up some lesson plans (and a blog) so that I can be truly quiet tomorrow (I didn't finish the cards or wrap the gifts...I'm on a delay with this leg). I feel ready to enter into the hopeful season that will end with the birth of Our Savior. What a wonderful, peaceful season!

So grab your Advent calendar, pray, reflect, and just be still as we all wait. Definitely worth it.

Happy New Year, everyone! We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Circle of Life

I know, now you're singing Lion King and you hate me...sorry. I'm not immune to that either. Still, over the last 10 days, it's been on my mind.

We got a call last week about my aunt's (and dad's) cousin who had passed away. He was a Catholic priest in the Chicago area and we were blessed to meet him (me again, after 30+ years) a few years ago as we were passing through on our way to Wisconsin. You can read that post here and catch up on the Holy Spirit workings of that particular occasion. Three years later it meant I was connected enough to pack my smallest two and the elderly ladies (my mom and aunt) and head 5 hours north to attend the service.

Father John was the eldest of three (two more heading quickly to heaven after birth); a sister who never married and a brother who begat 6 children. Four of those children went on to have several children of their own, so the church was full of family. As is the case these days, a full church...or even a priest for an uncle...doesn't guarantee the continuation of the faith. It was pretty clear that these were not people who frequented Mass or had interests in that direction.

I'm not sure if it's because it was not my family (because, trust me, when it is...I'm plenty troubled) or if Father John was just sending down some grace, but it didn't really bother me so much. I felt like we were there to pay tribute to a many who gave his whole life...60+ the Church and, as people who were trying to carry on the faith, it was good that we were there. I'm sure that sounds prideful to some, I don't intend it in that way. I just feel like I'm slowly finding my footing, realizing that most of society doesn't do what we do, and that's their choice. I will witness, hopefully, and pray and believe that God has it well in hand.
Young Father John
At his first Mass, giving Communion to his sister, mother, father, and brother
sorry it's blurry...serving First Communion Mass...ahh, that sight is so beautiful to me!

Dear Father, with a relic of the True Cross at his feet.

snazzy boy ;0)
 As has happened before, if you like, read about it here, we followed a funeral of a younger person (OK, this one was 89!) with the birthday of our dear Uncle Frank. I am so grateful when we can get the kids out to visit on his special day (last year we made a slightly later and sadder announce the death of his only living sibling). The kids love to be with him and he loves the company. I admit I'm getting slightly better about all of this but I'm still troubled by the whole stick-your-loved-ones-in-a-home idea. I know it's a societal trend but I'm not sure it's the best solution for the person involved...more for convenience of the family. As such, it makes me sad to see all the people as they gather for meals then go back to a largely solitary existence. I am grateful for Uncle Frank's faith. I'm not sure how those without it pass the days.

Back to the fun...we had cake and doughnuts and tomato pie and a lovely, lovely time. What a gift it is to have this generation and this man still with us!
The oldest and youngest chess players!

beautiful to see uncle and nephew spending time

He put on his snazzy shirt for the big day!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Frank!

In our circle of life, we must always try to seek out the Works of Mercy - burying the dead, visiting the sick and imprisoned, bearing wrongs patiently (I waited 3 hours, until 1 AM, to report the noisy hotel neighbors)...every day brings the opportunity to grow closer to Him through our sacrifice.

We are blessed.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Much better...

We've had some busy weekends for the last few months. How grateful I was for the slower pace of the last three days.


We all went to the local elementary school to watch the Veterans' Day program. It was touching to see the little ones sing for the men who fought for our country. The Young Marines did a White Table Ceremony for the POW/MIAs (yes, I did cry). To end the program our #1 son played beautifully. What a good way to use a musical gift. We were blessed to take part.

We drove south a bit to attend the second of four talks on The Mass, this covering the Liturgy of the Eucharist. So many good things to hear and think about! So blessed to attend Mass as a family (minus dh) before heading out on the road.

Our destination was Latrobe and another good day at St. Vincent. I was even lucky enough to sneak to the library to work for an hour or so before picking up the little people. I was rewarded with a beautiful view as I made my way to their building.

Dh and I stayed up too late watching Celebrity Bowling (thanks Amazon for bringing back '70s game shows!) so it was a late morning. It didn't matter all that much since we had almost NOTHING to do! We ended up heading to the gym to spend some time running around and playing basketball. A whole Saturday unscheduled! What a gift!


It is my favorite day! Today was amazing. Leisurely, cooked, family breakfast before heading out to Mass. Today was even more special than usual - dh made his first appearance as master of ceremony and #2 was the thurifer (who, it seems, is the person who carries the're welcome)...which is his favorite position. How blessed we are to be able to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Helping a server after Mass :0)

After helping clean up hospitality, we headed back to Pitt for the Polish Festival! It was fun to dance last week but it's also fun to hang out, watch the other kids dance, and eat some pierogi!
Cute Polish kids

My new favorite shirt!
What a wonderful weekend. Faith, family and fun. We are blessed!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Photo dump-October

I have a few achievements to count at the moment...

The costumes are clean
The paska is baked
and other than missing half an oboe lesson yesterday, we've been managing our schedule fairly well. Managing being the correct word because we're just on the edge of it managing us (see previous note about oboe). So, you'll have to suffice with a photo dump from the month of October (since we're now 4 days into November...yikes). Tomorrow is the LAST dance for months...YIPPEEEEEE! Perhaps then things will slow down a bit. We shall see.
We were blessed to begin the month with a beautiful outdoor rosary

Speech every Monday downtown

Beautiful days to dry the summer linens

and hang with friends at the park

more summer...more parks!

God rays...lovely :0)

We're on day 66 so I guess we did some schoolwork too!

We wondered at how quickly time passes

Crazy, really

We learned that even the Great Doctors sometimes disagreed

We went to Holy Hour and Confession and were blessed by clean souls AND cookies

And a statue of the Saint on his Feast Day

Went to outer space

and built bridges

lots of bridges

threw lots of stuff away (but took a picture first!)

had our yearly yogurt trip

made butternut squash pierogi (which no one liked but me)

Made toothpaste which no one liked

Got dressed up

went to dinner

Learned about people in Peru and about alms-giving

We prayed at home, online, and in the car

processed and prayed

and witnessed an incredible gathering of those dedicated to Our Lady and her Son on the 100th(!) anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima

We spent time with friends and played some soccer

Installed an altar rail at St. Gianni parish

and prayed for the babies and moms

We rented a baritone

finally welcomed fall weather (hot water heat)

We changed the world (or at least our socks)

learned about the work of a grist mill

and how to braid hair (sort of)

we dressed them up

and they danced

and danced

and danced

and sang

and played

and danced

 new day, new performance...Sisters of the Divine Redeemer

We met a sweet young sister from Slovakia!

Lol - G

Even little guy danced "for the Sisters"

We were so grateful we could dance for the nuns!

Then the nuns sang for us! In Slovak!!!

We trick or treated three different times
Marveled again about passing youth (and photo-bombers)

Got flu shots and a Mexican reward

Slept whenever we could

and got up early to watch our much younger kids on Dr. Ray

we explored nature


Saw a block house and garden from the French and Indian War

Thought about winter

Spent our Fridays at St. Vincent

and with some other saints

Chatted about saints

Shared our favorites

and had a wonderful time with saintly friends

We laughed


made memories

spent time

We started our baritone lessons

and learned particulars of how to serve

one last dinner (mom didn't cook much this month!)

and enjoyed family and friends to celebrate a long-living parish.

There is more but that's was a long, full month. I am grateful that some far-away things are ending and some nearer, new things, are beginning. November promises more fun, faith and family. We are so very blessed.