Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mid-week Musings

3 Sisters - artist unknown
I've been without a computer (it's tough to update the blog on an iPad...) so here we go!

1. My first love died. He was 52. I don't know the circumstances of his death, but I do know he battled mental health issues for 30 years. May he rest in peace.
2. His death prompted to me to reach out to my best friend since 8th grade. We've sort of slacked of in keeping in touch. No more - life is too short.
3. I've been given the go-ahead for a big project at work regarding human trafficking. Please pray for me! My hope is that it will touch many lives, all for the glory of God.
4. Both my sisters have been laid up. One has had a re-occurrence of Epstein-Barr, and the other had major surgery on her foot. Sister duty has been busy!
5. Heading north for a long weekend with my mom. Pray that the visit goes well; she is at the point where I'm concerned about her living alone much longer.
6. Got a membership to the gym and I'm serious: gotta get healthy and strong!

May your day be bright and may God make clear your path!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Saturday morning at the beauty shop

Mrs. Guste
In places all across America, older ladies reign at beauty shops on Saturday morning. They need to look good for church the next morning.

And beautiful they are. Robbie Kaye, a photojournalist, began to explore the world of ladies in their 70s and 80s at the beauty shop. The result was a gallery titled "Beauty and Wisdom." I saw her work first at Mashable, but you can also check out her website.

I hope you do. These ladies radiate.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. - Prv. 31: 25

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What to do if someone asks you to pray for them

It happens all the time: at church, whispered in the pew before Mass begins or chatting over a cup of cookies afterwards. Or on Facebook. A text. A hurried phone conversation.

"Please pray for me." "Pray for us."

What to do?
1. Say, "I will."
2. Pray. Unceasingly. Specifically.
3. When and if the issue is resolved, pray in thanksgiving.

What NOT to do?
1. Tell the person you know a great doctor.
2. Let them know you have a book on essential oils that will help.
3. Mention that an exorcism might be in order (I'm not making that one up, by the way.)
4. Tell other people, lest you gossip.
5. Badger the person about how things are going.
6. Forget to pray for them when you've said you will.
7. Pray "sloppily" by simply tagging on, "Oh, and for Larry" at the end of your evening prayers.
8. Tell them what happened to you in the same/similar situation.
9. Tell them what happened to someone else you know in the same/similar situation.
10. Offer specific dietary advice: "You know, if you go on that Paleo diet...."

There are times to talk, and times to pray. When someone asks you to pray, then pray. If they do not ask for advice, don't offer it. Pray. Pray. Pray.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tough Ladies Wear Pink

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries





These sisters might look sweet as cupcakes, but they do tough work: http://blog.acton.org/archives/71697-unlikely-mercenaries-fight-human-trafficking.html

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

1. The Collect (the prayer that starts Mass) yesterday was beautiful:

O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

2. Saw The Giver yesterday. If you liked the book, you'll like the movie, although a lot of liberties were taken. Jeff Bridges is superb, and the theme remains intact.

3. Had fun hanging out with the Hubby yesterday. Explored the beautiful Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, and had the best sushi I've ever had. Bought some tea, and I'm enjoying Chocolate Cherry Bomb this morning.

4. Well, that was a first. Tallest Son took me out for a pedi. He got one too, and paid. I think he's hooked.

5. AAAARRRRGGGHH. Back to school. Took Dark-Haired Daughter to get some clothes on Saturday. Ugh.

6. The leaves are changing! Indeed, the maples are getting tinged with red. Middle of August.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mary, Queen of My Heart

Head from Filippo Lippo's Coronation of the Virgin
It's been a rough week. With the death of Robin Williams, the news that one of our spiritual advisors has been asked by her order to move and begin a new ministry, the 15th year since the death of my sister-in-law, to not knowing where Youngest Son is, I can't say there's been much to celebrate.

Thank God for the Feast of the Assumption.

Many years ago (I'm pretty sure I was 15), my sister-in-law led me to make my Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Assumption. It was in an OLD little country church. It was built lovingly by Polish immigrants, and the stained glass was beautiful. You know many pennies were saved by people of little means to make that church as lovely as they could. I also remember that the kneelers were extremely close to the pew in front of you; you sort of had to kneel at a 45-degree angle. "Offer it up!"

I had to cantor the Vigil Mass last night. I was praying through all my sorrows before Mass, as an older couple in our parish lead us through the Rosary. By the time Mass started, my burdens were lightened. As I sang through the glorious Marian hymns, and listened to Father explain the Ark of the Covenant in both the Old and New Testaments, I knew that - as always - I was wrapped in Mary's mantle, covered in her prayerful protection, just as I have always been, since the day of my consecration.

It was such a lovely Mass, and the music was refreshment to my parched soul. I stayed after and re-dedicated myself to Mary and her motherly love, asking her to strengthen me in my faith, to pray for me that I might always have the courage to say, "Fiat."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Monster That Is Depression

Sweet, funny, kind, hysterical, soft, insightful Robin Williams has died. It seems that the Monster That Is Depression got him.

I remember one night when I was in college. I was at a friend's house; she had just gotten engaged. My roommate was graduating, another friend had decided to leave school, and my boyfriend was already done with school. It was a festive evening, lots of celebration and laughter.

And one point, I left the group in the living room, and stood looking out the darkened dining room window. I felt a sadness I had no words for, and could not express. It wasn't just that I was feeling the weight of my best friends being gone; it was the weight of the entire world. There was no logical reason for the pain I felt. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the first entrance of The Monster That Is Depression into my life.

Recently, I checked myself into a mental hospital. I was in the belly of the beast, and I could no longer cope on my own. I envisioned lining up all my pill bottles and getting that bottle of vodka from the fridge. I thought I could drive my car into a bridge abutment. Somehow, someway, the pain would stop. Nothing else seemed to be working.

My time in the hospital was the best thing I've ever done for myself. It not only gave me coping skills that I need to stay healthy, I heard - for the first time - others speaking openly and with raw honesty about the same thoughts I had: I'm a failure, I want to die, I want the pain to stop, no one cares, the world would be better off without me. You have no idea what a relief it was to know that I was among others fighting the same Monster, and we all had - until that point, at least - been winning.

The Monster has backed away from me now, but I never let my guard down. The cost is too high. I am a warrior, as are others who fight the Monster. Unfortunately, some warriors fall, despite the most valiant efforts.

I hope Robin Williams finds peace and joy and rest eternal in the hands of a God who has also fought monsters, and understands the battle.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Shameless Cooing Over Goddaughter Ensues



Monday Morning Musings

1. What a joyful, blessed weekend! My husband and I have our first goddaughter in the family: Francesca Elise! (pics will soon follow!) Francesca and her sister Josephine were adopted by my niece and her husband and the girls were baptized yesterday.
2.In the peaks and valleys that are my life, Youngest Son has completely gone off the rails. All we can do now is pray for him.
3. Curly-Haired Daughter got engaged! We are thrilled, as we not only love the young man, but are thrilled that he treats Daughter like a princess.
4. Oh-my-gosh-! We have a wedding to plan!!!

I think that's enough for now, don't you??

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bittersweet life of an adoptive mom

This letter sums up my thinking and emotions. Here is just a bit:

After a year of making more sacrifices than most mothers to care for my broken children, still they tell me their hearts are only half as full as they were before – with their father. Their father who spent his days so strung out on drugs and alcohol he didn’t know they were there. The same father who can’t even keep appointments to come visit them. All my effort and sacrifice cannot measure up to him in their minds. It is I who pays for his sins. I pay for sins that are not mine in the face of society. My eldest, if I’d given birth to her would have made me a teenage mother.

I bear that stigma everywhere with frowns and sideways glances. It is especially bad at church where I’m the youngest woman there with a child in elementary school. Most women my age are in the nursery commenting on how much their kids look like them or their spouse.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why we must keep fighting for life

Jonathan van Meran, at LifeSite.com is braver than I. He decided to visit the Gosnell House of Horrors Abortion Clinic. I am sure I could not do that.

However, what he found makes it clear that we must continue to fight for women and children. Abortion is an abomination.

I stop a young African American just across the street from 3801 Lancaster and point back at the decaying building.

“Do you know what happened there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that was the abortion clinic,” she said.

“Do you know anyone who had an abortion there?”

“Yeah, me.” She responded. “It was Valentine’s Day, 1997. When I went in, the women were packed into the waiting room like cattle. I went into the room, and some guy yelled at me to take my panties off. Then they gave me anesthesia and I don’t know what happened.” She shook her head sadly and kept on walking.

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

I have to admit, I struggle with understanding the Transfiguration. It's one of those events in the life of Christ that I don't "get." I'm not sure what the "take-away" is.

Here is a lovely, short piece from from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (via Scott Hahn) that helps:

I hope you enjoy this brief reflection of Pope Benedict XVI on the Transfiguration, which is drawn from his very last Angelus Address:

“The Evangelist places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. Indeed, prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions. Instead, prayer is what leads us to love in action. The Christian life consists in continually scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from Him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'”

“I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to 'scale the mountain', to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church. If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. Let us call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary: May she help all of us to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in works of charity.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to evangelize when you don't really want to, or are scared to, or just don't know what to do

You know you're supposed to evangelize. Share the Good News. Be part of the New Evangelization. But maybe you don't know how. Or you're scared. Or you really don't want to.

It's okay.

First of all, "Be Not Afraid."

Second, there are ways to evangelize that do not require you to stand on a street corner and shout out Bible verses. (In fact, don't do that. You'll just look odd.)

Here are some ideas:

  • Wear a crucifix or a cross.
  • Be kind. Always. Better to be kind than right.
  • Invite a friend or family member to go to Mass with you. No big deal, "Come to Mass with me and then we'll get breakfast."
  • Make sure your home reflects your faith. Do you have a crucifix in a prominent spot? A prayer corner? If a guest came to your home, would they know you're Catholic?
  • Does your work space reflect your faith? You don't need to have a rosary hanging off your computer, but you can have a prayer card taped on it. You can have a small cross on your desk, or a screen saver that reflects your faith.
  • Ask someone about their faith. Just be curious and polite. Share your views and say thank you when the conversation is done. 
  • Use social media to witness. Share a Scripture verse or prayer.
  • Pray for the courage to be more courageous about sharing the Catholic faith.
  • If someone says something wrong or off-base about the Church, kindly correct them. 
  • Help in your parish's religious education program.
  • Visit a nursing home and offer to pray with the residents. Offer to pray the rosary with Catholic residents. Trust me: you will be appreciated!
  • Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You don't have to convert people; just be Christian. Use Bl. Teresa of Calcutta as an example.
  • Befriend a saint and ask for his/her intercession in being more bold about your faith.
  • Pray.
  • Pray.
  • Pray.

Monday Morning Musings

1. I really did NOT want to cantor yesterday. Just wasn't feelin' it. Plus, I had this frog in my throat; couldn't get it cleared. But I did. And it was amazing! Oh, not because of me, but because a friend showed up to sing with me, and our Religious Ed. director sang, and two of our high school girls played clarinets, and it just all melded and worked and was incredible!
2. Dear Husband and I were two of 109K+ people to watch Manchester United play Real Madrid Saturday at U of M. It was incredible to watch these two powerhouse soccer teams with a record-breaking crowd. Once in a lifetime experience!
3. Baptism! My two newest great-nieces have had their adoptions finalized and will be baptized this week. I'm so happy, excited, thrilled!
4. Going to meditate on yesterday's Psalm this week: "The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs." I need to remember that God answers my needs, not my wants, and His answers may not always be my answers.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer against depression, by St. Ignatius of Loyola

O Christ Jesus
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2 years old, and thrown out of a store

I was visiting with some friends a few weekends ago. True to my introvert form, I took off on my own for a little while. I visited some nearby shops and then sat down on a bench to wait for the rest of the folks to come find me.

A dad and a toddler girl were sitting there. Well, he was sitting; she was squirming and squealing. The dad "warned" me about sitting near them, saying his daughter was "not in a good mood." He jerked his thumb towards a store behind us and said, "We just got kicked out of there."

I laughed, and he said, "No, really." Apparently, the toddler had been fussing and crying, and a store clerk told them they needed to leave. Wha????

The girl was tired. It was late afternoon. I started chatting with her and playing with her. She perked up, started giggling. The dad was clearly relieved.

I told him I'd been kicked out of far better places with my kids, and that the folks inside were obviously jerks.

Kids are kids. Sometimes they fuss, get tired and grouchy. They cry. Let's not ban them for it.

Stress, being calm, and handling things


Please don't tell me to take a bath. No, a scented candle is not going to help. I do yoga already. I can't afford to "get away." I "take time for myself."

All the stress is still there.

You see, my house revolves around stress. It's the very essence of our family. Always has been. Right now, I'm dealing with a kid on probation who apparently has NO desire whatsoever to move forward in his life in a positive manner. Whenever I hear a news story about teens being arrested in a break-in, or being involved in an accident, or some other terrible story, I think, "That could be my kid." It might very well be my kid one of these days.

"Lay down the law" you say. It's been done. We're now at the point where we will have to legally evict him from our house if he chooses not to follow the rules. Can you imagine my mother's heart the day that happens? Shattered.

H has all the support in the world. His family, his extended family, friends, church community. But he continues to make poor choices. And I watch. And stress.

I feel weak, and sick. Helpless. Sad. Angry. Hurt. Betrayed.

No bath with candles and soft music is going to help. I'm praying incessantly, but of course, it is all up to the kid. He's the one who has to want to change and then change.

Oh, I'm calm. No, I'm catatonic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

"Pearl of Great Price" - artist Sara Joseph
1. Depression has been kicking my butt the last few days. A good reminder that this is a chronic disease, and I have to be really careful about my health.
2. Getting really excited about the baptism of my two great-nieces. Their adoption is almost final, and then PARTY!
3. Work has been crazy-busy for me, but has also afforded me the opportunity to do a number of national radio interviews. It's been a great learning experience, and so much fun.
4. Youngest Son has me completely baffled. I can't talk to him without an angry response, and I literally have no idea what's going on in his head.
5. I'm pondering the "Pearl of Great Price." Is it different for all of us? Is there something about God's love for us that strikes each of us differently? If so, what is my pearl? What is yours?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Does the body image thing ever get better?

Thigh gaps.

Dr. Oz.

Fat-shaming.

BMI.

Magazines.

Runway models.

Swimsuit season.

Stretch marks.

I'm almost 50, and the whole body image thing is still an issue. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life. I'm a bit less active (arthritis keeps me from really pounding the pavement), post-menopause, and on medication that tends to make one gain weight.

I hate it.

I hate looking in the mirror and seeing what I see. I hate stepping on the scale. I hate that clothes that fit a couple of months ago don't fit now. I hate that I hate all this.

Does it ever get better?

I tell myself that I'm good enough. I am pretty. I'm smart. I'm attractive. The clothes I wear are beautiful, and fit me well.

And it's still not enough.

When will I allow myself to be happy with who I am, physically? When will that message sink in? How do we keep our daughters, our sisters, our friends from this kind of thinking? (I know I would never say to a friend or family member the sort of things I allow myself to say to the mirror.)

I imagine myself 15 years from now. Will I allow my hair to go gray? Will I finally throw away the Spanx? Will I go for days without touching my makeup drawer?

Our bodies change. Women's bodies are particularly amazing, given the power we have to create life, carry a child, give birth. But that means a lot of stress on our bodies. We age. We struggle with illness. We should be fine with that. I should be fine with that.

But I'm not. Harumph.

Update: This is what I'm talking about: size 000 at the LA Times.