Thursday, October 1, 2015


If you haven't yet listened to Matt Maher's Saints and Sinners album, do yourself a favor and do so.

Here's one I needed to hear today (not the official video, but lovely):

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our wounded warriors keep right on saving people

It takes a certain type of man or woman to choose the military. It's a tough life - not only the rigorous discipline, but being away from loved ones, putting yourself in harm's way, and often doing things that seem ... well, pointless (How long have we been in Iraq??)

But there is a program that takes our Wounded Warriors and puts them to work in a very meaningful way:

Dahlia Luallen was forced to leave the Army honorably after 8-years because of a series of injuries. She is now an intern at Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta as part of the HERO program.
When her military career ended she wondered what she would do next. "For me, when I got out I didn't just want to go back to work," Luallen said. "I wanted to continue to serve my country. It was not by choice when it happened."
That's when she heard from a former instructor about the HERO program and said she jumped at it. "Because it gave me that sense of what I felt when I was in the military," she said. "I felt like I was going to be doing something that was going to impact society."
Luallen is one of four people in the HERO program at HIS in Atlanta, which is overseen by Deputy Special Agent in Charge Greg Wiest. "They get to come here and work with us to bring that same work ethic, same desire, to serve the American public and more importantly to rescue children," he said.
Luallen received three months training and will serve ten months as an intern before being considered as a full-time analyst at HSI. She explained what HERO analysts do. "Whenever they go out on a warrant and they seize computers, I'm the one that goes through the computers and the evidence," she said.
Atlanta HERO analysts recently investigated the case of an Emory University Professor charged with Sexual Exploitation of Children. Epidemiology Professor Kevin Sullivan was arrested on June 15, 2015. A federal criminal complaint says pornographic images of girls, one 4 to 7 years old, were found on a digital hard drive in Sullivan's office at the Rollins School of Public Health.
Computers, hard drives, flash drives and a cell phone were seized from Sullivan's office and his home in Atlanta, according to the complaint. The complaint said Sullivan "attempted to destroy evidence on his desktop computer." HERO analysts in Atlanta searched all those electronic devices for child pornographic images.
Those are images Luallen finds every day on computers. "If you're human, you're going to feel a certain way about seeing these things happening to kids," she said.
But Luallen says finding and viewing disturbing pictures of children on a daily basis is what drives her. Military veterans in the HERO program not only find the evidence, they often are in on the arrests and the rescues of children. "Sometimes you get to see the kids," Luallen said. "So, you know, this is a child that I'm saving."
Hard to imagine doing this work, day in and day out. That's why we call them "heroes."

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Korean View On The Life Of Christ

From New Liturgical Movement:

Manic Monday

1. I was listening to the radio on Friday, and heard a song that quoted Micah:

You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

It occurred to me that this is exactly what Pope Francis exemplifies: he speaks to the world about what true justice is, he loves the good in every person he comes in contact with, and he is a humble man. His visit to the US has given us much to think about, pray about, and learn from.

2. Spent the weekend with my mom, who is now in assisted living. It's hard to see such a strong and independent woman become weaker and weaker in body (though not spirit!) For me, it's also terribly difficult in that I've always relied on my Mom as a sounding board. Now, I have to be hers. This role reversal with an aging parent is not one bit of fun. But again, in Scripture, we know that there is a time and season for all things.

3. The ground under my feet is incredibly unstable right now. No details: but I stand in the need of prayer!

4. My dark-haired daughter is so strong and so brave. Yet, PTSD and depression creep out of the cave and overwhelm her occasionally.  She's been struggling. I know she'll be fine, but right now, she too stands in the need of prayer.

5. This theme keeps showing up in my life. That usually means God is telling me something:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting Through Suffering

This is such a great post from Robert J. Wicks at onFaith! Please take the time to go over there and read it.

One of the greatest gifts we can share with others is a sense of our own peace, but we can’t share what we don’t have. Spiritual resilience, the ability not only to bounce back from adversity but to deepen as a result of it, is essential to becoming a better person — parent, friend, member of a spiritual community, the list continues.
Today, the world seems to be such an insecure, stressful, and even dangerous place. Spiritual hunger, physical ills, financial pressures, unemployment, and loss of trust in many of the institutions our parents (and past generations) counted on constantly threaten our faith in ourselves and our God.

What to do? Read on.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday, Monday: Can't trust that day

"Monday, Monday" - artist M.E. Bailey
1. Verse for today: "Humble yourself before the Lord and He will exalt you." - James 4:10. Praying for humility is a frightening thing, so praying for courage as well.

2. +ArtPrizeGR is about to take over my town. I usually have girlfriends come to town, but our little tribe is literally between daughters' weddings. DH and I are hoping to do a little exploring of our own this year. I love ArtPrize!

3. Had the opportunity to speak twice last week on human trafficking - always a privilege. Check out my friend Pamela Alderman's work:

4. Still can't believe I have a married kid! So happy to have a new son-in-law!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Suicide Prevention: It could be you

I've talked about my depression and anxiety before. I've even talked about my checking myself in to a local mental health facility. But I haven't really talked about suicide.

Twenty years ago, if you had told me I'd battle the urge to commit suicide, I'd never believe you. When it happened to me, I didn't tell anyone. It seemed too dark and too scary to speak out loud - as if the very act of talking about it would somehow bring me a step closer to the act.

I thought about all the pills and alcohol in my house, and how taking them might stop the pain. I thought about crashing my car. I knew a good spot, I thought.

When those thoughts got too real, I checked myself in.

After I'd been in the hospital for a few days, something amazing happened. I sat in a small group and listened to people give voice to the same thoughts I was having. It gave me courage. For the first time, I talked about my struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide. And people listened. They talked to me, and supported me. I felt safe - safe enough to keep talking - and that saved me.

If you're having these thoughts, talk to someone, preferably a professional. If you're not sure where to start, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255. Someone there will talk with you and help you.

Give yourself the chance to speak. It will save your life.

God, the stand-up comedian: Provider of laughter and water

"Blue Water Mirage" - artist Carol Owen
Let it never be said that God has no sense of humor.

I have to get a medical test later today that requires fasting from both food and drink. First,let me tell you I am the worst fast-er in the world. I hate it. All I can think about is food, water, tea, more food. Then, one of the medications I take gives me a very dry mouth. You could say that this sets me up for a lousy morning.

So I settle in to say my morning prayers.

All who are thirsty, come to the living waters!


Like the deer that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God.


All who are thirsty, come to the water. You who have no mone, come receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk.

There's a theme there, right? It's not just me ...

Like so many of us, I have a lot of prayers to lift up to the Lord daily. Health issues, money problems, worries about work and kids - all of these are try to give to the Lord in prayer, trusting that He will answer all my needs according to His holy will.

This morning, He providentially reminded me how much I need Him. I need him more than I need food or water. I need to yearn for him, to come to him empty-handed in trust, hope and love. He is the living water, the only water that truly matters.

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.