Monday Morning Musings

1. Incredible sermon from our pastor yesterday regarding "obedience." He really dug into the second reading yesterday, that beautiful hymn in St. Paul's letter to the Philippians. Obedience really means "to listen" and if we do that, it will transform us into the image of Christ.
2. I'm happy that the Detroit Tigers clinched their division, but we really need a World Series this year, guys. It's the game in October that separates the boys from the men, if you know what I mean....
3. Friday night turned into an unexpected party. My Tallest Son came home, then Curly-Haired Daughter and Fiance' showed up, then my sister and her son! Whoot! Had a great time chatting with my kids, who are now human beings (past the teenage years where conversation genuinely resembles either mumbling or a shouted, "I KNOW!")
4. Much work to do: book review to write, interview to be done, and working on my human trafficking monograph for work. Prayer is appreciated!
5. An online friend who makes GORGEOUS handmade scapulars had a little contest, and I won! I'm getting an Our Lady of Fatima scapular. Can't decide if I'm gonna keep it or give it away....
6. It's the feast day of the Archangels:

 Through the power of Michael, leader of the heavenly armies in the war against evil,
Protect your people, Lord.
Through the word of Gabriel, message-bearer of the Gospel,
Save your people, Lord.
Through the intervention of Raphael, companion and healer,
Comfort your people, Lord.

Walking on Water

During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.- Mt. 14:25-29

Walking on Water - Azurite

Yesterday was a day of faith. It was a day of life and death, of beauty and harshness. It seemed liked all of life, in just a few short hours.

Dear Husband coaches high school soccer; we're in the midst of the boys' season right now. Just before his team took the pitch on Monday night, they were informed that a classmate had committed suicide. It's a very small school, and all the boys knew the young man. It was tremendously hard.

Yesterday morning, Husband texted me and asked if I had any ideas for black armbands for the boys to wear for their games tonight and tomorrow. I first thought about making some, but I knew I wouldn't have time. I prayed a "Hail Mary" and Googled local sporting goods stores. There is one literally half a block from where I work, so I started there.

I got the owner on the phone. He knew the young man, and his family. We talked about some options and I walked over there. He handed me a box with the items, and said, "No charge."

As all this was going on, my Oldest Sister was texting me: her mother-in-law had died. It was not unexpected; "Ma" has been quite sick for sometime, and hospice has been in their home regularly, helping to care for her. Understandably, my sister was upset and needed to vent. I was trying to comfort her, find these armbands, and work. We had a rather large event at work last night.

Today marks the beginning of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, and one of the artists my office is hosting was here last night to speak. Mako Fujimura is a New York-based painter who speaks - in dulcet tones - about faith, art and culture. His talk last night was transformational. He spoke not only on the work he has entered in ArtPrize, but about his work in general, and how his Christian faith informs his work.

While his work could easily be called "modern," he uses traditional Japanese methods. His ArtPrize work - Walking On Water - Azurite - was created with water on gesso, using crushed minerals, including azurite. He said last night, just as he pulverizes minerals to create, "God has to pulverize us to make us beautiful."

The painting is quite large (8'x11'), and Mako said he literally was "walking on water" as he was creating it. He referenced the Scripture passage above, and the need to walk out in faith, on something that does not hold us firm.

When I came into work today, I stood for a time before the painting. Water is one of the first things God created, an element of both life and death. It cleanses and baptizes, refreshes and drowns. It is only our faith that makes it "safe."

Yesterday was a day of faith and blessing, life and death. "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Monday Morning Musings


1. I got to watch Curly-haired Daughter try on wedding gowns on Friday. Yes, I cried.
2. Weren't the readings for Mass yesterday powerful? And our pastor gave such a wonderful sermon.
3. We welcomed a number of people at Mass yesterday into the Rite of Acceptance. This is the first step in a long, intense journey that leads to full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter. I'm so thrilled that one of my great-nieces was among these people.

The Rite of Acceptance is short, but powerful. The person's eyes, ears, shoulders, hand and feet are all blessed in order for strength for this journey, and they are given a Bible. After the homily, these people will be dismissed every week to further study the Word of God. It is a powerful witness to the rest of us - this journey requires much faith and prayer.

4. Dark-haired Daughter joined the youth group for bowling last night. Her highlight: she beat our pastor's score.
5. Dear Husband and I enjoyed a little time together yesterday, to see a movie. Have to sneak in this time, as it is still soccer season. Love the game, but I'll be glad when the season is done!

Amazing Grace

My brother hates the hymn "Amazing Grace." Or at least, he thinks it should never be sung in any Catholic Church for any reason. Protestant theology - "being found" and "wretches."

My friend Amy, on the other hand, calls it "America's hymn," one all Christians can sing together with joyful praise.

I am somewhere in the middle, I suppose. Yes, it definitely is chock-full of Protestant thought, but I don't think that should keep Catholics from singing it. I think it's full of truth as well.

"That saved a wretch like me." That is certainly true. I am a sinful wretch. No, I don't believe I'm a pile of dung covered up with a blanket of snow, but I know I am nothing without God. I am a sinner, through and through.

"I once was lost, but now am found" How many times has this happened in my life? Over and over, I wander from God, from faith, hope and love. I find myself lost, sad, angry, scared. Then I turn around, and my Father is there, arms out-stretched, waiting upon me.

My favorite verse is this one:

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.


I dare not be assured of my salvation, but I do hope in God's grace and I certainly hope I will spend eternity in His glorious presence. I cannot imagine eternity, but these words touch the fringes of this hope. And I know there will be music in Heaven, and I greatly hope I'll one day join in that amazing chorus of grace.

Dilemmas, heartache and Monday mornin' quarterbackin'

Curly-haired daughter is getting married: Yay!

She's not getting married in the Church: ooph....

We have raised 5 kids. Only one goes to church (well, THE church. Curly-haired daughter does go to church, but not the one Christ founded.) It's a disaster of epic proportions and I'm not overstating the case. I know I'm going to have to answer to Almighty God for this one day, and I'm afraid I'm going to get a humongous red "F" for this.

What did I do wrong? Was it our decision to homeschool during those early years? Did I use the wrong curriculum? Did the kids hate family prayer in the mornings, half-asleep and cold? Was it all the time committed to the Church outside of Mass? Did I just talk about Jesus and Mary too much?

It sounds vapid put this way, but my heart really is broken. I've failed at the most important task a Catholic mother is given: to bring up her children in the Faith so that they will continue it with their generation and the next.

I know some of my family won't attend my daughter's wedding and I completely understand. I hope that they understand that I will. I won't put the opportunity for reconciliation with the Church at stake - to refuse to attend my daughter's wedding is to put up a rather severe roadblock to continued dialogue.

Well, if I screwed something up, I take full responsibility. At this point, the only thing I can do is pray and talk. The rest is up to God, and my children and their free will, their consciences and their willingness to seek Truth. For He is a Person, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, ever-loving, ever-patient, ever-just. I hope they all find Him again.

Monday Morning Musings

Our Lady of Sorrows
1. Sick. Sick. Sick. Not really sick, but annoyingly sick. A cold virus has been kicking me around for almost a week. Sick of being sick.
2. Had a heart-to-heart with Curly-haired daughter last week. She is now engaged. She's been hemming and hawing about wedding plans, and I suspected the reason. She does not want to get married in the Church. My heart is broken, but I am trying to be calm. I know there is virulent and strong opinions about this type of situation ("No, you should not attend the wedding under ANY circumstances!") but we are trying to keep lines of communication open. But I'm sick about that, too. It's the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows; a good day to pray.
3. Just to top things off, had a horrible nightmare about Youngest Son last night. I could see and hear him suffering, but I couldn't get to him. Freud, anyone?
4. Dear Hubby is sick now too. I don't expect this will be another spectacular week in our home....

September 8: Nativity of Mary

Mater mea, fiducia mea!
My Mother, my confidence my trust my assurance!
 
Thanks to Holy Card Heaven, for its treasure trove of beautiful prayer cards!

Monday Morning Musings

Mako Fujimura's "Walking on Water" - an ArtPrize entry
1. Mass was so beautiful yesterday, and it was nothing "special." Ordinary time, typical music, sound homily: such beauty. Entering into Eternity with The Eternal One.

2. I am trying to figure out how to knit in the round. I'm assuming that like any new skill, this shall take some practice. And swearing.

3. Getting ready for ArtPrize here in the beautiful city of Grand Rapids. I love ArtPrize: the art, the people, the food, the fun. And art...so much art!!

4. I have blessed with the opportunity to write a short book on human trafficking, and will be attending a very important conference on this in just a few weeks. I am thrilled for the opportunity, but this work is very hard. It is horrible to read about such evil over and over again. Please pray that I'm blanketed with the protection of God's grace.

Glorious Unfolding

It's tough out there folks. The world stage is a blood bath, our president is oblivious or stupid, persecution reigns. So many families I know are struggling.

We need, more than ever, to think on beauty. We need to surround ourselves with nature, art, music, literature. We must lift up our hearts and minds to God in His created realm, and the sub-creation of humanity.

Last night, I went to get a massage. This, by the way, is a form of beauty. It is the beauty of the human body, the healing touch, the care for God's creation.

I was so relaxed driving home. I was amidst miles and miles of apple trees, all bursting and burdened with fruit. It was that point in time known as the gloaming: the most magical time of day. And I heard this song:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

(Steven Curtis Chapman, Glorious Unfolding)

Take time this weekend to enjoy the beauty around you. Breathe. Rest your eyes on a piece of art. Read a poem and linger over it. See what glorious unfolding God has in store for you.

When all the choices are hard

I am seeing so much pain right now. Not just the "big news" of war, torture, genocide. So many families - really good families, trying so hard to raise their kids in the faith - are facing enormous issues right now. Addiction issues, mental health issues, teens who are bound and determined to be rebellious in really hurtful and damaging ways...

We always have choices. We always have good choices. But we don't always have easy choices.

There are so many times as a parent when I've wanted to throw my hands up and say, "Done! I am done parenting. I'm buying a camper and driving across America with the dog. I'll send postcards." And I don't mean that as a fantasy or a funny anecdote: I've planned that damn trip so many times I can't tell you.

What do we do when all the choices are hard? We choose the best one, just like always. And we pray. Pray harder than ever before, because the choice is hard, and the consequences are hard and life will take a hard left-hand turn and we'll end up somewhere we never imagined. It won't be a bad place - because we made a good choice. It was a hard choice, but a good one. But that hard left turn means the car will overheat, the kids will be cranky and we'll max out the credit card.

Then, after a lot of prayer, we'll look up and see that the place we ended up is...okay. Nice, actually. A good place. Because we made a good/hard choice. Eh, we'll still have bills and kids to deal with and a car to fix, but things will be better. Different but better.

Because we did two things: we made that good, hard choice and we prayed. Everything else is up to God.

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

Monday? No, Tuesday Morning Musings

1. It's official: I'm in that 'sandwich' generation. Love my mom to death, but I'd be so much more at ease if she moved to assisted living. She's having none of that. Stubborn Irish women.

2. I keep seeing it over and over: Satan is working so hard to destroy good families. He chooses faithful families for a reason. It's war.

3. Best parts of a long weekend: spending time with my mom, a surprise visit from my niece and great-nieces, seeing a gaggle of great-nieces and -nephews at Mass on Sunday, a peaceful, safe drive home, and being able to lend a hand to a friend who's carrying a heavy load.

4. Knitting! Working on a lovely little project!

5. New book! I love the Jack Reacher series. New book is out today!

Always Faithful

We went to Mass last night, and had an older priest. In his homily, he exhorted us to "semper paratus:" Be prepared. The Gospel,...