Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Soldier, Keep Movin' on

This is my current anthem. Thanks Toby!



Mary, Undoer of Knots Keeps Following Me Around

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!
About 8 years ago, a few friends and I were in Minneapolis for a Catholic teachers' conference. My friend Amy and I found ourselves wandering, on a free afternoon, to a large and rather dusty Catholic book store.

The first thing that greeted us was a life-size statue of Mary. It was from Spain, and would have been quite lovely, were it not for the fact that the glass eyes were, well, cross-eyed. I whispered (yes, I know it wasn't nice), "Our Lady of Glaucoma?" and our adventure began.

It was clear that the bookstore had virtually no organization - or none that we could discern - and all of its stock was out for browsing. First Communion gifts were nestled next to priests' collars, books of all sorts were scattered about the store, and items were stocked two stories high.

The office was apparently upstairs, and occasionally, a woman's voice would yell out orders to the man working below. He shrugged in our general direction after one outburst from above: "My sister," he said.

Amy and I (both wholehearted Catholic geeks) were happy to wander about, seeing what treasures we could uncover. Near the back of the store, hanging 10 or 12 feet above the floor was a large picture of Mary. She was holding a ribbon, which flowed about her and the angels at her feet. Neither of us had ever seen this representation of Our Blessed Mother, and we hunted about for some sort of explanation. We finally found it: Mary, Undoer of Knots.

In our combined 90 years or so of Catholic life, neither of us had seen this. But from that point on, Mary, Undoer of Knots started following me around.

I got a prayer card from a nun. A friend of mine on Facebook asked me to "like" a page devoted to this particular devotion. Pope Francis has written a prayer devoted to her. She just keeps showing up.

When Mary keeps showing up in your life, you ought to pay attention. So now, I have a particular devotion to this rather mysterious depiction of Mary. It makes perfect sense though: who better than your Mother to help you untangle your life, your issues, your mistakes, your struggles? Then, with that ribbon of your life smoothed out, you can go before Her Son, Our King.


I run to You, Mary, Undoer of Knots, because I trust you and I know that you never despise a sinning child who comes to ask you for help. I believe that you can undo this knot because Jesus grants you everything. I believe that you want to undo this knot because you are my Mother.




Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

Yes, we are back! After one hellacious summer, I've had time to catch my breath and I hope I'll be blogging regularly again.

On to my musings:

1. I've been so happy the past four Sundays: Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John is undoubtedly my favorite Scripture passage. Yesterday, our pastor did a magnificent job of weaving in marriage and the need to center marriage on the Eucharist.

2. My doctor put me on a new drug for fibromyalgia, but the darn stuff made me so dizzy I was afraid to drive. That was disappointing, since aching muscles all the time are not easy to deal with. My essential oils have eased some of the pain, though.

3.Curly-haired daughter is getting married in 12 days! [insert slightly panicked scream here] Actually, she's got most of it under control, but Mom still has a bunch of last minute details to cover. Thankfully, I though ahead and took last week off.

4. The godmother of the bride-to-be threw the BEST SHOWER EVER! It was an "I Do BBQ" with the whole family invited. It was so much fun. The decor was perfect, we had actual fun games (like lawn Yahtzee) and so much love and care.

5. Prayers for a couple of things: one a special intention for me, and one that we can get our house re-financed. We had the re-finance all in place, then Dear Husband ended up in the hospital for 15 days. Now with the bills rolling in, the re-finance is looking shaky. We REALLY need this.  Thanks!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Disgusted by Planned Parenthood? Then DO SOMETHING!!!

Miriya is 16, in Michigan and needs a family.
When my kids were little, my minivans had a couple of pro-life stickers on the back. Not anything gruesome or really "in your face." In fact, one of them said something like, "A nation that kills its own children is a nation without HOPE."

No condemnation. Yet, I would get flipped off on a regular basis from women who passed me as fast as they could on the express-way, who would then cut me off.

Oh, well. But now there is something else.

This has truly been on my heart. The videos we've from Planned Parenthood have horrified those of us who are Christian. We know this is an abomination. We are ready to pray and protest.

But I need to challenge each of you: are you ready to welcome a child of an unplanned pregnancy into your home? Are you ready to reach out to one of the THOUSANDS of children in foster care in MICHIGAN ALONE and offer them a family?

These are not perfect kids. They come with bumps, lumps, bruises, scars - inside and out. They will act out. They will try and reject you just to see if you're going to reject them - like every other adult in their life. But deep down: this is a child who needs love, constancy, a firm foundation.

No. These are not perfect kids. And you can easily think of a hundred reasons not to do this. Some of you really can't. But some of you can. And there is support and help and guidance and many other people who've been there and done that.

Stick your indignation and your horror and your outrage and your faith and stick it - stick it into a plan to help a child who needs you RIGHT NOW.

If those videos truly horrify you, DO SOMETHING FOR THE CHILDREN. Don't just get angry. DO SOMETHING FOR THE CHILDREN.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just lay it out there!

I love the Radiance Foundation. They don't pull any punches.


Monday, Monday can't trust that day

I've neglected you. I know. but life has been interesting.

Dear Husband is home and on the mend. It will be a long mend.

I'm back at work, with a good many things to do, for which I am glad. Busy is good, and having meaningful work is best. I wish I could be with Dear Husband 24/7, but that's just my anxiety talking.

Speaking of anxiety, I had a whopper of a anxiety attack on Saturday. PTSD and anxiety are a bitch. I know some of you don't like that language, but hey: that's what it is. Sitting in the Walgreens parking lot, shaking uncontrollably for no good reason. Nope, it's just your body and your brain saying, "Well, things are taken care of and relatively safe now. It's ok to have a teeny little breakdown." Which I did. For about 40 minutes. Then drove home, praying "Jesus!" over and over again, hands clamped to the steering wheel. Jesus, take the wheel, indeed.

It's not all sackcloth and ashes - it usually isn't. People are kind and generous and helpful and sweet and giving and loving. Above and beyond.

Of course, Hubby still has a big ole hole in his arm, and is frustrated that he isn't feeling  better faster. Me, the queen of pain and surgery, tells him it's gonna take time. And then I go remind myself the same thing.

We have a daughter getting married in a month. I want so much to relax and enjoy this occasion with her, her fiance' and our guests. I hope that by then, we'll be able to really enjoy things, with all this worry just a niggle in the back of our minds.

I've said a lot of Rosaries the past few weeks - I think I said seven of them the third time my hubby was in surgery. They had originally scheduled his surgery for 5:30 p.m. He didn't go in until about 8:30 p.m., and it took about 2-3 hours.

I was the ONLY PERSON IN THE WAITING ROOM. It was the loneliest I've ever been. I clutched my Rosary and prayed. I'm not sure how much of it made sense, but I also know it didn't matter.

Just remember, tonight, when you are climbing into your safe, inviting bed, with a few prayers on your mind, but mostly sleep settling over you, that somewhere - there is a person, sitting all alone, in a waiting room. No one with them. Scared to death. Their whole world on the line. Say a prayer for that person.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

As for me, the Lord is a stronghold

For 10 days, a hospital room has been our home. We'll be here at least six more days.

Dear Husband went in for a "routine" (and we will never think of that word the same way again) procedure. He developed a massive hematoma in his arm, and then what they call compartment syndrome. (Look it up; I'm too tired to explain it again.)

He required emergency surgery to save his arm. That meant three large incisions (about 7 inches long) in his right forearm. Two are now stapled shut. The third was left open, attached to a medical vacuum to collect fluids. He then developed uncontrolled bleeding, and here we are.

Today, he goes back in for a third surgery to close the wound, which will require a skin graft.

Here we are again, asking "Why?" It makes no sense.

Worse, we have had so little support. My sisters have been great, and our kids, but that's about it. Prayers are important, but we need so much help, and there have been no substantial offers to DO things. What good does it do to tell a man, "I hope you eat and stay warm, but don't offer food or a coat?"

Well, prayers are truly appreciated. It's yet another tough road. Here's to the hope we may one day find a smooth one.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Okay, this is cool: a tree church


From Mental Floss:

After traveling the world, embracing new sights, and being exposed to various architectural wonders abroad, Brian Cox returned to his native New Zealand full of inspiration. Cox, who grew up as head altar boy in his hometown church and once wanted to be Pope, was heavily involved in religious services. But he had one other special interest—trees.
“People know how much I love trees,” said Cox. So much so, that he started his own company, Treelocations, a group that removes and relocates living trees.
“They call me when there are trees that would otherwise be cut-down or removed. I go and kind of rescue them," Cox notes.

Check out the link - the other photos with the story are amazing!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

1. It has been a long and crazy few days. Found out Dear Hubby needs a stent in his heart. Scary stuff, even though the cardiologist talks about it like you're getting a dental cleaning. Prayers are most welcome.
2. Been doing a lot of journaling/drawing lately. Found a book called Praying in Color that really has helped me sort out thoughts, pray through things and ponder more deeply my relationship with God. Don't worry,  you don't need to be an artist to do any of this; you don't even have to show it to anyone ever.
3. Eight years since we lost our father. Doesn't seem possible. I still always hope I'm making him proud.
4. I was blessed to lector yesterday. The second reading from St. Paul is so powerful:

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Post Vacation Highlights, Thought and Wonderment





  • My trip to Louisville was grand! First, I found not one, but two possible dresses for Curly haired daughter's wedding. Better yet, I spent less than $100 for both at a lovely consignment shop!
  • Went to the Louisville Zoo, which neither my friend nor I had ever visited. The weather was lovely: high 70s and little humidity. We enjoyed the animals and the little kids enjoying the animals. There was also Lego art displayed throughout the zoo that was amazing! Plus, on our way in, a lady stopped us and said her two friends couldn't make their outing and would we like their tickets! Yes, please!
  • I FINALLY got to visit the Louisville Tea Company! I discovered them on Pinterest almost a year ago, and have been itching to go. Finally got there and was NOT disappointed. Let's just say hubby and I are set for tea for awhile.
  • My trip started off poorly. I made it to Chicago, but then my connection to Louisville kept getting pushed back, pushed back ... then cancelled. The airline reps told us to go to the airline counter and make other arrangements. Now, I was disgruntled, but come on - in the scheme of things, not a big deal. Let's face it, we live in an amazing country: you could catch the train, take a bus, get a rental car, etc. The people waiting in line were acting as if the zombie apocalypse had occurred, and they were only one step ahead of the game. They were also really rude to the folks at the desk - who of course had NOTHING to do with the flight being cancelled. I had only two words for those nasty folks: "Donner party."
  • Visited a sweet little grotto that had been built on a hospital grounds. The hospital's gone, but the grotto is still there, kept up by volunteers. It's tucked away, hard to find, but my friend (who shares my passion for anything Catholic and off-beat) knew right where it was!
  • And yes. We ate. Blue Moon Burgers. Cracked Eggs. I highly recommend both.
  • Monday, June 22, 2015

    "Isn't she the one who hates gays?"

    I have some family members who are gay (and I'm sure most of you do, too.) I love them madly. One is creative and smart and building an awesome career. Another served our country and has overcome some really big obstacles.

    One of them was "home" recently and brought his partner. I was told that his partner asked another family member, "So which sister is it that hates gays 'cause she's super-Christian? I heard she won't allow them in her house."

    Um, that would be me. Except of course, that it's not.

    I don't hate anyone. I don't hate any groups of people. I certainly don't hate my family, or the homosexual family members.

    I'm also really upset that somehow this equation has now become true: Catholic = hate.

    Now, I'm happy to say that I met my nephew and his partner for lunch and we had a delightful conversation. I love my nephew and I'm really proud of him. He knows exactly what my beliefs and values are.

    I just wish the rest of the family and world knew too. Catholics don't hate homosexuals. And the reason we don't is because God doesn't hate them, and we are striving to be like God as much as possible.

    Monday Morning Musings

    1. Another Acton University in the books. I'm not gonna lie: this year was tough. AU under the best of circumstances is hard (we have a small staff and a BIG conference), but this year, the pope decided to release an encyclical in the middle of it all! I was a teensy bit ... overwhelmed? Crazed? Exhausted? Yeah, all that.

    2. Two high points: I have a wonderful friend who attends the conference every year and we got to spend Friday lunch together, catching up. My only regret is that we don't live next door to each other; she is such a joy to me.

    Another friend grabbed me on Tuesday evening and said, "I have someone I need you to meet!" It turned out to be a woman who has been working in the area of human trafficking for years. This woman's feet aren't just planted in Scripture, they are cemented in. She is funny, bold, sweet, sassy, faithful ... I know I have a new best friend and mentor. That was truly a Holy Spirit thing!

    3. I'm going to Kentucky! Every year I take some time right after AU to go visit one of my dearest friends. And I get to go see her this week!! I'm so excited - she and I will talk and laugh until our sides ache. I cannot tell you how much I love her and how much I'm looking forward to seeing her.

    4. From my prayers this morning: "God is my mighty shield and my strong support." That will be on my heart today.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    Closed for the week





    I'm not going out of business, but I'll be working at Acton University for the remainder of the week. Too busy to blog here!

    God bless you all!

    Monday, June 8, 2015

    Why I remain Catholic

    Elizabeth Scalia, the blogger-extraordinaire at The Anchoress, has challenged her fellow Catholic bloggers to answer the question, "Why do I remain Catholic?" This is my attempt to answer this.

    For me, being Catholic has never been a struggle. I have no amazing conversion story, I'm not a prodigal who has run home to the loving arms of Mother Church. It's kind of boring, actually; I've always been Catholic.

    I knew Jesus was real in the Eucharist from a very early age. I was allowed to make my First Communion a year ahead of my classmates.

    Despite the fact that I have both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in world religions, I've never been tempted to "jump ship." (I do have an abiding fondness for Buddha, but simply because I admire his tenacity in wrestling with life's Big Questions. He didn't get it all right, but he wasn't all wrong, either.)

    I love the saints. I feel a strong and passionate connection and friendship to many of them. I talk to them all the time.

    In my mind's eye, I can still see the black and red drawings in the Baltimore Catechism that neatly summed up huge theological truths in a way I could understand.

    When I was 15, my parents sent me to Fatima, and I pledged myself to Our Lady. She has been far more faithful to me than I have been to her.

    I vividly remember St. John Paul II being elected pope, and I became an adult in the church under his tutelage.

    I love the liturgical calendar, the seasons of the church, that allow for mourning and celebration, temperance and conviviality.

    Why do I remain Catholic? I remain Catholic because I believe Jesus is who He says He is, and that He founded a Church. I believe Christ gave us the sacraments. I believe in the powerful words of John, chapter 6: "I am the bread of life." I believe that Christ appointed Peter and his successors to guide us in the faith.

    Credo: I believe.

    Monday Morning Musings

    One of the WAR, International artisans
    1. I spent most of last week dealing with a muscle spasm in my back. If you've never experienced one, it's like a charlie horse that won't stop. And yes, it IS as much fun as it sounds. It's slightly better now, but I'm also heavily medicated.

    2. Took Curly-haired daughter out to shop for wedding jewelry. Big shout-out to Women At Risk, International and their beautiful War Chest Boutiques. We got the bride's jewelry, narrowed down options for the bridesmaids, table decor and I've got my eyes on a few pieces for the upcoming nuptials. Plus, all this shopping goes to support survivors of human trafficking here in the US and around the world.

    3. Feast of Corpus Christi! Is there a more beautiful feast? I'm so thankful that our priests have revived the tradition of the procession with the Eucharist and Adoration for this great day in the Church calendar. "I am the bread of life!"

    4. 2- 1/2 weeks and I'm off on vacation! Whoot! I hope I have energy - I don't want to go on vacation and nap it away....

    Friday, June 5, 2015

    No place at the ... camp?

    I must admit: I am disappointed. Dark-haired daughter, last summer, went to a camp for high school students sponsored by our diocese. It was a HUGE step for her: she has not been away from home since being hospitalized after her abduction, and it was a tremendous step for her not to give into anxiety and fear, but to trust.

    She loved camp! She was there with "normal" kids, who embraced her and loved her. She loved the counselors and the entire experience. Since last summer, all she could talk about was going back to camp this year.

    Yesterday I got a phone call from the camp that she couldn't come. She is now 19, and although she is still in high school, the camp board has declared that only 14-18 year olds can attend, due to diocescan guidelines on adults being with  minors without having gone through "safety training."

    I explained to the young woman that called that this issue had come up with our daughter, as she volunteers in our parish nursery. The person in charge of this training for the diocese, along with the diocesan director of faith formation, had told us that so long as our daughter was still in high school, she could forgo the training. In addition, at such time the training was needed, we could arrange a private session for her, given the nature of the training, and her past assault.

    I told the young woman from the camp that I was not telling her this to change her mind, but simply to inform.

    And then I had to tell daughter she couldn't go to camp.

    And that makes me sad. I am sad that so many children have been hurt in our church by those entrusted with their safety. I am sad that those in charge at the camp cannot be more flexible for someone with special needs. And I am sad that my daughter is once again told by the church: there is no place for you here.

    Monday, June 1, 2015

    Secrets to being the parent of a special needs child

    What is blogging if not ripping off good work from other blogs? One of my favorite sites it The Mighty; they focus on the lives of people with special needs and those who love them. This list is from 35 Secrets of Being a Special Needs Parent:

    “You have no idea how much potential you both have to exceed your expectations.” — Becky Hirsh Carroll
    “Your child with special needs is a child first.” — Erica Conway-Wahle
    You are not weak when you get angry and upset.” — Amy Sherian
    You know your kid best. Don’t be concerned with what others say. Trust your gut.” — Nancy Walchak-Body
    “It’s lonely. But when you meet someone who gets it, it’s transforming.” — Melody Statham Cameron
    You have to also take care of yourself.” — Amy Streater Bazerghi
    14.Pencil it in on the calendar, never pen. Be flexible.” — Kodi Wilson
    15. “It’s about progress, not perfection.” — Melissa Cote
    16. “My kid takes longer to ‘grow up.’ Secretly, that is sort of awesome.” — Rebecca Smith Masterson

    Monday Morning Musings

    1. This was a rough weekend. My elderly mother, who is a fiercely independent and strong-willed woman, now has a body that is weak. She can't be on her own any more. Oldest Sister and I spent the weekend with her, and her rather rapid decline was startling and hard to manage. Very emotional.

    2. Now, it's Monday. And I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

    3. June is going to be busy. I know it's Ordinary Time, but it feels like a holiday - much to plan for and pray for.

    4. Feeling a bit sad? Emotional? Nostalgic? for having a child around. Met an 8 year old in foster care that I nearly fell head over heels for.

    And then I thought, "What are you THINKING????"

    (Proving that adoption and having kids is rather addictive.)

    5. Another round of shots at the pain clinic this Wednesday. Is it sick that I'm looking forward to it, just so I can have a day to rest?

    Friday, May 29, 2015

    The St. Francis of Birdies and Kittens, or the Real Thing?

    Pooor St. Francis. He's either relegated to the barnyard, or dancing around in a field, praising the sun. But that's not who he really was. He was a man madly in love with Christ, and wanted others to know that love.

    I wanted to draw your attention to two new books about St. Francis that look as if they are worthy of our time. (I haven't read 'em yet, so I'm not endorsing them!) However, they seem to take the saint seriously. We don't do God or his saints any justice by sentimentalizing them.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    Tuesday Afternoon Musings, Because: Lazy

    Why is this baby smiling? She didn't have to clean the grout!
    1. Really, sheer laziness.

    2. We are getting some long-overdue work done on our house. Hurray! I decided to get a head start by recoloring some grout. I thought it would be a simple, one-day project for the holiday weekend. I don't know why I thought that....

    3. Spent the rest of the weekend making bridal shower and wedding plans (all via social media!). A small wedding requires just as much planning as a big one. Don't let anyone tell you differently. I am not complaining; I think  having a wedding planner takes a lot of fun out of it!

    4. Finally met both the "in-laws." We had met mom, but not dad (they are now living out-of-state.) I now know why my daughter has such a lovely young man as her espoused.

    5. We were kidless this weekend. Dark-haired daughter went camping for most of the weekend. It was a little weird rambling around in the house by ourselves. But maybe we could get used to it....

    6. Is it bad that we set our Sunday Mass attendance around soccer? Dear Husband's "team" was in the finals...