Monday, December 7, 2009

all my world's a stage

The show opened Friday, and it went amazingly well! Our audiences were wonderful (a packed house on Saturday!) and our performance finally came together.

I thought I knew this story inside and out, but performing the role of Mary has given me a new perspective. I wrote about it today here.

I can't believe it, but I'm actually looking forward to performing again next weekend! (It was such a grueling tech week it's hard to believe I feel that way.)

But sometimes theater is magic, and when it is, it's irresistible.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

it really is wonderful



Our community theater is performing the stage version of the ultimate Christmas classic movie. I'm sure we won't even come close to the original, but I pray we can capture the spirit.

In a "art imitating life" fashion, my husband is playing George, and I've been cast as Mary.

Friday, November 6, 2009

{{sigh}}




Feeling the pain of lost relationships, but knowing that there is really only one relationship that matters, trying and failing (again) to do my best and experience "success," today I wrote this.

Monday, November 2, 2009

ashes to ashes, again



A repost from last year. This year, I'm Mary instead of Maxine. But life is still just as horrible and wonderful - and worth living - as it was then.

Today, on the Feast of All Souls, I stood at my own graveside, but I didn't shed a tear.

I thought about my daughter, who awaits me there, and I remembered her life with awe and gratitude. I missed her with an ache that will never leave my bones, but my heart is not heavy. It soars to meet her.

I looked at the descriptions cast in stone: husband and father, baby girl, wife and mother. The roles that will define us for all eternity.

I suppose it is an excellent practice to ponder the fact that we will all be dust some day. As I stood on the very spot where I hope my grandchildren and their grandchildren will kneel someday, begging mercy on my soul, I realized the truth.

It will all be over in a flash.

From the cemetery we stopped at Starbucks for something hot and chocolately. From there I went to a community theater audition. I was cast in the role of Maxine, who has good hair and make-up and is learning to tap dance.

Life is short, but it's grand. Live it up, and do much good with it.

Eternal peace grant unto them O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lukie and the F-bomb


Since I haven't been posting many anecdotes here lately, it seemed appropriate to kick things off with a humdinger.

Lukie is in the second grade at our parish school. He sits in the front row, first seat on the left. He spends his days learning about subtraction, spelling words with silent e, and other mysteries of the universe. He's a good kid, I suppose. At least I haven't heard too many scary stories about him. Until now, that is.

Lukie sits with two other little urchins, we'll call them Butch and Buster. The three of them apparently had quite a scintillating conversation last week, according to Butch's mom, who shared this story with me.

Buster: (in a clear, loud voice) My brother said "F" to me. (Note: he did not exactly say "F.")
Butch: "F"? What's "F"?
Lukie: Yeah, what's "F"?
Buster: I don't know, but he said "F."

(At this point I imagine their teacher rushing toward them, her eyes wide, her hand over her open mouth, aghast. I also imagine this in slow motion, for effect.)

Teacher: WHAT are you boys saying????

At this point a lightbulb appears over Lukie's head, and wisdom and insight are his.

Lukie: "F"...hmm..what is "F"? I know. "F" is a cow.

Huh?

Yep, my son then proceeded to tell the other boys that he was pretty sure that "F" was another word for cow.

Butch's mom and I enjoyed this episode more than we probably should, for two important reasons.

One: Lukie (and her Butch) did not report to the teacher that they heard their older brother/uncle/dad or MOM say that word, EVER. Thank you God.

Two: There is still some innocence left in this world. And some of it is in our particular children.

Thank you God.

Friday, September 18, 2009

my crown of roses: prayers of love


The goodness of God continues to touch me, daily, in ways both simple and profound.

Today I received an email that reminded me that His ways are so far above ours that we cannot fathom it.

I was reminded yet again that prayers are not just good thoughts, or "positive energy." They are real communication between us and Our Lord. Prayers are bonds that connect us with heaven, and with one another.

Please visit my Australian "cyber-friend" Therese, and read the brief story that stunned me and filled me with joy.

God is so good, and I am so blessed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

wink, wink



I think she knows something we don't know. :)

My granddaughter, Grace Philomena (Gracie Mena) at almost five months.

Live is good.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

welcoming Zeke


My grandson Zeke is here!

Lauren headed to the hospital on Thursday afternoon for an induction of labor. Saturday morning at 4:59, Ezekiel Jacob Vitale was born; 7lbs, 5 oz, 20 inches long.

As you can imagine, his getting here was quite a journey, to say the least.

Lauren endured a long, painful labor, an epidural, two hours of pushing, and then a c-section when she developed a fever and the baby refused to move down. Turns out he was "sunny-side up," which makes delivery difficult. His heartrate was high, and disappointingly, she really needed that c-section.

We were worried already, but then they took her into surgery, began the procedure, and she began to experience pain. They had to put her completely under. Her poor husband was asked to leave the OR - and Lauren's sister and I waited with him worriedly.

Thank God - all ended well, with the arrival of our beautiful baby boy!

He and his mama are doing well now. I must say I am so incredibly proud of Lauren. She was so courageous and patient - so strong! And my daughter Rachel was such a wonderful coach to her sister. She never left her side, never wavered in her encouragement. Lauren's husband made me proud, too. He certainly loves my little girl.

Being a part of this child's birth was such a precious experience. I've been so incredibly blessed with my family. I can't wait to see the blessings in store for them!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

princesses or victims?

I don't get this:


Aren't children cute enough just as they are?

What is wrong with our society? It's bad enough that adult women and teen girls are made to feel that their looks aren't up to par. Now even children and babies are open game. The site on which I found this "before and after" pic offered all sorts of "enhancement services" for children's photographs. Apparently they are required for some pageants.

Shows like Toddlers in Tiaras make me crazy. Like many people, I sometimes watch them (sometimes I can't peel my eyes away from an accident scene, either.) The parents are just so pathetic to me. I try not to judge them, I really do. But I just don't understand how they convince themselves that they are doing something worthwhile for their children.

Do you think pageants, of any kind, are good for kids? Good clean competition, or reckless objectification?

I share some of my thoughts here, as well.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

please send prayers and patience our way

I'm looking for prayers today, friends.

My mom is currently having surgery for her breast cancer. I was just informed that her lymph nodes are clear, which is excellent news. She is still in surgery, though (has been for about two and a half hours now.)

Mom doesn't do well with doctors, hospitals, or surgeries. In fact, just walking into a medical facility makes her blood pressure go sky high. (Just before surgery it dropped - yes, dropped - to 222/111.)

She also doesn't tolerate medications well AT ALL. We joke that she is sensitive to the world, and it's just too true.

Add to Mom's troubles the fact that she is also anxiety-filled and impatient. It's been a rough day.

I'm holding up well, praise God, but she could use some extra prayers.

I'm trying to cash in on the opportunity to learn a virtue I REALLY lack. (More about that here.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

hot off the presses!

The first issue of PIME World Magazine edited by yours truly is available now!

I'm pretty excited to share this. When I started as Communications Director and editor of PIME World the first of June, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into.

Now, I've got my first issue under my belt, and it's not too shabby. Thanks to the highly talented staff (most especially the creative director) I was given the tools, info, and encouragement I needed to get the job done.

I feel very blessed to be a part of this organization, which honestly feels more like a family. I wrote recently about how I've felt God placed me here for a reason, and I'm seeing proof of that every day. (One of my co-workers insists God has placed me here to help him find a Catholic wife, which could be the case! Know any young ladies looking for a very eligible bachelor? We'll talk about that later.)

If you'd like to learn more about the PIME Missionaries and the amazing way they are sharing the Gospel and serving the poor in 17 countries, get yourself a FREE one-year subscription here.

And while you're being missionary-minded, check out the blog I'm writing for them. (And please share it - we need to raise mission awareness, now don't we?)

Thanks for your prayers as I continue to explore just what God has in store for me here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a time to weep and a time to laugh

Today's the kind of day when I need to come here to the field, lay down, and let the blue blossoms swallow me right up.

Four years ago today Celeste died. I usually do quite well on this anniversary. I don't cry, and I don't get all melodramatic. I comfort my husband and children, and I tell people her life was a blessing and I have no bitterness, only joy.

Today wasn't exactly like that.

I was with "others" today - people outside of the family - something that's not happened on an anniversary yet. I thought I'd be fine, then I knew I wouldn't be. I thought about staying home from work. I'm glad I didn't.

I went to work, and I cried, and I talked and I allowed myself to be comforted. I'm not used to that. I'm used to being the the one who's doing the comforting.

I'm so blessed to have family, friends, and now coworkers who care about me.

Today I remembered Celeste, and I remembered her suffering, as well as the great blessing of her life. Life is filled with suffering and blessings. To be truly alive is to embrace them both.

Once again I'll share the video I made for Celeste. I hope it will make you smile - and cry.

Be alive. And thank God.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

telling stories, telling lies, teaching truth

Today, Fr. Ken looked me straight in the eye and asked me a shocking question.

He followed it with a shocking personal revelation.

He was smiling, and his blue eyes twinkled, but I still panicked a little, unsettled. I wiped my sweaty palms on my pants and took a breath.

Was he serious? What should I say? How to answer such a question?

I had a feeling my answer was important, but I wasn't quite sure why. Was he testing me? Seeing where I stood? Wondering if they had made the right choice when they hired me?

I took a breath and dove in.

"Yes," I answered.

"I have thought about becoming a saint."

Fr. Ken really asked me this today, and, quite frankly, I believe he wanted me to answer. He might have been surprised to discover that I have given it some thought, but I don't think so. I have the feeling he already knew the answer. He was just trying to get ME to discover it.

What led to such a profound conversation? The current project we're working on in my office involves writing copy for our website. And where there's writing, there are words. And where there are words, there's amazing, unbelieveable, awe-inspiring....power.

Power.

Yep, that's what I said. Power. And with power comes responsiblity. And challenge. And most importantly, with words come

Stories.

What Fr. Ken was trying to illicit from me was not just a confused "Huh?"
Rather, he wanted a story - more exactly, he wanted MY story. He wanted to know why I wanted to be a saint. He wanted to know who had influenced me, why I had chosen my path in life. He was hoping to inspire the writing I would do for the website.

He wanted me to function in the most profound capacity for which I had been hired.

He wanted me to be a storyteller.

Once I grasped this, he hit me with the personal revelation about the life of priests that is sure to shock.

Did you know, my dear friends, that sermons are not always true?

According to Fr. Ken, priests sometimes do a bit of er, embellishing when it comes to their sermons. Have you ever noticed they tell charming little stories to hook you, to get the Gospel to come alive?

Sometimes they make them up.

Sometimes they tell stories about other folks and pretend they are about themselves.

But despite this creativity, these stories are still true, in the very best sense. As Father revealed to me, we can't ignore the facts: sermons are always true, and sometimes they really happened.

I thought about our conversation on the way home from work. I thought about it a great deal, especially when that guy cut me off on the freeway and I almost drove off the road.

Have you ever thought about becoming a saint?

Yeah, buddy, I'm thinking about it real hard right now. I could've been killed! What if I were? What kind of life am I leading? Am I becoming a saint?

I thought about it again at my doctor's appointment, particularly when the nurse informed me my blood pressure was sky high.

That's a dangerous number! I could have a stroke! This could be it for me. Am I ready? Have I really thought about becoming a saint?

I thought too about storytelling, and about the task that had been set before me. Designing website copy is all in a day's work, right? No big deal. Get some words out there, and there ya go.

At the risk of sounding like the biggest butt kisser in the history of the world, I must say that my employers deserve more than your average website, and I intend to give it to them. I didn't take this job just for the paycheck and the status and the pink desk - I took it because I believe God has placed me here for a reason.

Boy, that sounds awful. I don't like to use spiritual lingo to make me sound well, spiritual. But in this case I'm going to go wild and be honest.

The week before I was hired, I prayed. I didn't pray to get this job, although I really wanted it. I prayed that they would hire the person that would do the best for them, the person who would tell their stories with clarity. And perhaps, with power. And even truth.

So now I am that person. I'm not weighed down by the responsiblity. Rather, I feel lifted up by it. I'm going to be the storyteller they deserve.

And I might even be truthful.

As for this post,it may be not be entirely factual. Perhaps there has been some embellishment. But in my book, blog posts fall in the same category as sermons.

They are always true.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with blonde pigtails and brown eyes. And she wanted to become a saint...

Thanks, Fr. Ken, for reminding me to write the story.

And perhaps even tell the truth.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

what in the world I'm doing


Well, I'm certainly not writing here, that's for sure!

Instead I am doing "real" work for the PIME Missionaries - including - gasp - writing a blog!

You can check it out here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

enough already

Let's just get this over with, shall we?

I feel like I've been away so long that I don't know how to come back. It's like going back to the gym - and I like going to the gym - I just don't like going BACK to the gym. It feels like every one is looking at me, wondering where I've been. I can just imagine what they're thinking: she's gained some weight. I bet she's been noshing on chocolate cake every day during the hours she used to work out with us. Who does she think she is? She's not one of us anymore.

It' silly, because after 30 minutes on the eliptical (OK, 15, it's been awhile, right?) I feel like I'm right where I belong. No one cares that I've been away for awhile. They're truly glad I'm back. And so am I.

Same goes for the old blogity blog. I feel shy whenever I've been away for awhile. I think all of my followers are ticked at me. I don't think I'm a real blogger anymore. I'm hoping you'll graciously welcome me back, and not wonder whom I've been cheating with while I've been gone.

Nothing can take the place of my blog, and the kind of writing I'm free to do here. But I'm happy to report I have been doing something good in my time away.

The new job suits me nicely, I think. The hours are wonderful (8 am to 3:30 pm) and while I'm there I'm able to combine my two loves: my writing and my faith. I don't like to over-spiritualize things, but I'm convinced God placed me there for a reason.

For, I don't know, years, I suppose, I've been asking Him to give me an opportunity to use my "gifts" in a larger way. I used to get so frustrated, wondering why God would give me a love for writing, and some talent in it, and not want me to use it.

The whole concept of "in God's time" is being played out right before my eyes. I believe I'm right where I need to be, and that He has put me here, today, because that's where He can use me.

Last summer, I was so disappointed when an opportunity I thought was just perfect for me was pulled out of my reach. I found out last week that that whole thing fell apart - I thought I was missing an opportunity of a lifetime, and it turns out it was no such thing.

It's easy to tell each other to trust Him, isnt' it? When we're not on the receiving end of that advice, it all seems so clear. But the truth is it's a bear to hang in there when we're seeing nothing. It's exhausting to keep trusting when we see nothing in the way of "results."

I was starting to wonder if He heard me at all. And now I'm just in awe of how He put it all together for me. Yes, for me, His girl, the one He always looks out for.

If you're waiting for Him, please be patient. He will never, ever forget you. He's got something planned for you that is just right.

Trust me.

Better yet, trust Him.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm a Catholic New Media Awards Nominee!

I'm pleased as punch (you don't hear that often enough, do you?) to report that "the field" has been nominated for several Catholic New Media awards!

You can cast a vote by visiting their site (simply click here, spend about a minute signing in, and vote away!)

The field of blue children has been nominated for the following:

Best Blog by a Woman
Best Written Blog
Funniest Blog
Most Entertaining Blog
Most Spiritual Blog
People's Choice Blog
Blog Nominated for the Most Categories by her Husband and/or Children

Just kidding about that last one. :) I'm honored to be nominated. (Thanks, family.)

What are you waiting for? Get over to Catholic New Media and vote for your faves!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

a new path

I have neglected you so!

As I've said so many times, during busy periods in my life, I don't write here as I'd like to.

I have so many things to share! As I write this my seven-year-old, who should be in bed, is standing over my shoulder, asking for ice cream.

Tomorrow I start a new job! I've been hired to serve as the editor of PIME World Magazine. PIME Missionaries, based here in Detroit, serve the poor all over this world of ours. They bring them provisions, companionship, and hope. And they preach the Gospel, in word and deed.

I'm so honored and humbled to be joining them.

I'll share more about my journey to this job, and my adventures once I get there. For now I'll beg for your prayers as I follow where God has lead me!

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 quick takes


Jen rules for plenty of reasons. One of my favorite things about her? She hosts 7 Quick Takes Friday. That's an opportunity for slackers like me to get a post out with seven recent highlights from the week. Here are my picks for today:

My granddaughter Grace is now three weeks old. Of course, I am totally objective about this: she is the most beautiful girl ever.


My son Joey did something radical this week. He shaved his head. Has he gone all emo? Is he joining a band or a gang of hooligans? Naw, he did it for a much nobler reason - to support his friend Chris, who has cancer. A bunch of other guys from his youth group went bald as well. In my opinion, they rock. It's still a little hard to look at Joey, though. He had more hair when he was born.


I had an exciting event myself this week. I went to a job interview for a "real" full-time job. It went well and I've managed to get a call back for a second one. I'm so nervous and excited. The possibility of getting the job is just as scary as the thought that I might not. This one is entirely in God's hands.

Sophie has finally figured out that the backyard is the best place to "do her business." I can't really overstate the importance of this achievement!

Our community theater production of Cabaret was nominated for ten PAGE Awards! These awards are the local equivalent of the Emmy's for us. I didn't get one for my work on costumes. Oh well. It's hard to compete with big budget period shows. I did my best, and that counts for something, right?

Life doesn't usually get easier as we age, does it? My parents need your prayers. Mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she needs surgery. She just found out she is losing her part time job, as well. Dad is consumed with the reality that he just can't garden like he used to. (He' "only" 88, and he should be able to get out there and hoe, right?) He's also worried about Mom, who he loves like crazy while driving her crazy. I'm trying to be a good daughter, but ya know what? That ain't easy either.

Tonight my parish festival begins. Imagine this: you are seven years old, and two blocks from your home a ferris wheel towers above the neighborhood. Elephant ears covered with cinnamon sugar, foot long coney dogs, and snow cones are calling your name. All your friends are there. Are you excited? Are you kidding? You are jumping out of your skin! My boys can't wait to get there tonight!


What's going on in your world this week? Join the party at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

becoming "Grandmom"


I'm having a bit of an identity crisis.

For over 22 years, I've been "Mom." I'm cool with that. I've kinda got this gig figured out.

But now, I'm someone new. I'm a grandmother. You know her, she's the old lady in the rocking chair, the one who only gets up to bake chocolate chip cookies.

Just kidding. I know that today's grandmothers are much hipper than that. When my own mom became a grandmother, at the age of 57, she had a full time professional job. She wore stylish clothes and earrings to work every day. She had two college graduates for children. She only baked cookies at Christmas.

As for me, the new grandmother?

I'm just not sure how to roll here.

How do you describe a grandmother like me? I'm not quite 57 (only 44, in fact.) And I don't bake cookies. Ever.

I've got two college grad children. But I've still got children at home, including two boys under the age of 10.

I've coined a name to describe my condition: I'm a "grandmom." I'm a grandma, yes, but I'm still totally in "Mom" mode.

I haven't mentioned that I'm got a few other roles as well. My husband might say he thinks I've forgotten him, but I am a wife, too. And I'm also a busy daughter to elderly parents.

I want to claim the maturity and wisdom that goes with the grandmother moniker, but I'm not quite ready to let go of being the young mom that I feel like. And when I spend time with my folks, well, then I feel like I'm 12 again.

So I'm in one of those "transition periods." I know where I've been, but I'm not quite sure where I'm going.

The good news is, I won't be lonely on the trip there. I've got plenty of companions on my journey. I just hope someone has remembered the diaper bag and has packed lots of snacks.

Any other "grandmoms" out there? How have you kept it all in balance?

Monday, May 4, 2009

do you like me? do you REALLY like me?


It's time to show your love for your favorites in the Catholic media!

Nominations for The Catholic New Media Awards (formerly the Catholic Blog Awards) open today. You must log in to nominate (it only takes a moment, and don't worry, they won't send you spam.)

Just click here for more info!

Here are this year's categories:

Blogs

People's Choice Blog
Best Blog by a Cleric
Best Blog by a Religious
Best Blog by a Man
Best Blog by a Woman
Best Group Blog
Best Written Blog
Most Spiritual Blog
Most Informative Blog
Funniest Blog
Most Entertaining Blog
Best New Blog

Podcasts

People's Choice Podcast
Best Podcast by a Cleric
Best Podcast by a Religious
Best Podcast by a Man
Best Podcast by a Woman
Best Group Podcast
Most Informative Podcast
Best Produced Podcast
Most Spiritual Podcast
Best New Podcast
Funniest Podcast
Most Entertaining Podcast
Best Video Podcast

Web 2.0

Best Catholic News Website
Best Social Networking Site
Best Overall Catholic Website

Sunday, May 3, 2009

shepherd me, O God


I don't know much about shepherds.

I've always thought of them as loving caretakers who stayed on watch for wolves and such. Loving and patient heroes, I've pictured them gently herding their flocks, guiding them to safety, caring for their every need.

Recently I heard something about the shepherds of Jesus' day (and perhaps today, as well) that I found shocking and intriguing.

Sometimes little lambs are naughty. Instead of staying near the shepherd's side, where they would be safe, they wander off. They get caught up in brambles. Even devoured by nasty beasts if they aren't careful.

So what do the shepherds to to keep the fluffy little rascals safe?

They break their legs.

Then, while they heal, they carry them. When the lamb's wounds have healed, and only then, the shepherd allows the little one more freedom.

And those lambs? The ones who have been broken by their masters? The ones who were carried until they can walk again?

They do not stray again. Instead, they remain near the shepherd's side.

Something to think about on this Feast of The Good Shepherd.

Shepherd me O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

This image of the Good Shepherd was drawn by Seattle artist Tracy Christianson, who drew the portrait of my daughter in Jesus' arms.

Friday, April 24, 2009

she's here!



Grace Philomena arrived at 4:33 pm after over four hours of pushing! She was 7lb 8oz and 19 inches long.

We're in love.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

baby day?!?

This could be the day!

Rachel is at the hospital! For those of you who want the "gory" details (and of course I know you do) she is 3cm and 80% effaced - they are keeping her in triage for an hour or so to see how she progresses.

I don't think I've ever been so excited!

Lauren and I are getting ready to head over to the hospital. Along with Rachel's husband, we are the lucky support people who get to witness the birth. I've done this seven times myself - but I've never watched someone else give birth. This is so awe-inspiring.

And it's my girl, my girl who was born just an instant ago! Could it really have been almost 23 years ago???

Thanks for your prayers. I'll keep you posted!

Don't you love this picture? Not like that anymore, is it?

Monday, April 20, 2009

one more soul

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had had one more child?

My first grandchild, my granddaughter Grace, will be here within the next few weeks. By summer's end, my grandson will be here as well. I know that they will enrich our lives beyond belief. I will cherish them as my own babies. But they won't be my babies, they will be my grandchildren, and that is not quite the same, is it?

My daughter Celeste, who died when she was four months old, would have been four now. My youngest at home just turned seven. This is the longest I've gone with empty arms, an empty womb.

When Celeste was in the hospital, I remember telling my husband that I wanted to have another baby, whatever happened to our baby girl. I wanted to "normalize" the experience of having a baby again. I was so traumatized by what we went through with her that I was certain the only healing I'd come to would come with the arrival of another - healthy - child.

After she died, I needed time to recover. And soon the months and years flew by, and I was suddenly who I am now - an "old" woman of 44, a grandma-to-be, a mother of "only" seven children, with six here who still need her, one in heaven praying for her.

Should I have had another baby? Have I been too selfish, too concerned with money, or time, or health, or freedom?

Did I deny my husband, my children, the world, another person who should've been here?

My grandbaby will be here soon, and I can't stop thinking that I'm not sure how this works. I've been a mother - just a mother, only a mother, always a mother - for 23 years. I know what it is to hold a newborn in my arms and love it completely, because it is my baby. I'm so anxious to meet my grandchildren, but I think perhaps I am mourning the end of an era.

And I'm haunted by the thought.

Should I have had another baby?

Have you ever wondered the same?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

mercy me


Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated....

No, I'm not dead. At least not literally. It seems that when life, real life, gets busy and overwhelming, the first thing I let go is my writing. Isn't that unfortunate, for the both of us?

The boys will be returning to school tomorrow (I honestly can't believe I ever managed to home school!) Then perhaps I'll make, or take if I must, the time to write again!

For now, a brief thought about the feast we celebrate today: Divine Mercy.

Aren't you supremely thankful that God FORGETS all our transgressions?

Aren't you amazed that he shows us MERCY when we least deserve it?

Aren't you blown away with the thought that Jesus is waiting, eagerly, to BLESS us when we run to Him?

There's one catch.

He asks us to show mercy to our neighbor. You know the one, the guy who's harmed you, the one you can't forgive.

A thought: pray for that person today, the one you simply can't forgive. Forgive him with your will. Show him the mercy he doesn't deserve.

And bask in the mercy that is yours for the taking.

Learn more about the Divine Mercy Devotion here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In His Shadow, again



Easter morning, 2008

A "reprint" from last year. Alleluia! Enjoy your Easter.


I had walked within your shadow
On the road in Galilee
I watched in awe your hands work miracles
Lame men walk now; blind men see.

I felt your shadow fall upon me
When the widow touched the hem
Of your cloak as you passed by her
With your crowd of holy men.

I was jealous of her boldness
As she put out an eager hand
Afraid to walk too near you
I just followed in the sand.

I was in the crowd that greeted you
As you entered like a King
Your shadow cast a regal sphere
As our bold hosannas rang.

You walked that path again so soon
Your blood fell upon the stone
I hid in a darkened doorway.
I let you walk alone.

Was there a shadow cast on Calvary?
Or was the darkness vast and deep?
I do not know.
I did not go.
Alone, I cried myself to sleep.

Yesterday there was no shadow
No place left for me to hide
No one there to heal this cripple
Maimed by selfishness and pride.

This morning Mary ran to greet me
Though I can scarcely take it in
She says the tomb is empty
She says you live again.

Is it true? Am I still dreaming?
Have I been given one more chance?
Might I be able to follow you again?
In your shadow, now to dance?

Mary smiles and says, "Just trust Him.
'Do not be afraid,' He said."
I go with her to see the shadow
Of the stone that guards no dead.

You are alive and I am weeping
Standing in a bold new place
Soon I'll glory in the shadow
Of your brilliant, Holy Face.

I used to fear the darkness
Like a child in bed at night
But I no longer fear the shadow
For in it I am close to Light.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

holy saturday...life


Good Friday is so raw, so full of vivid suffering. But Holy Saturday is the tomb, the waiting. We sit in the stillness and wring our hands. We know in our hearts that Sunday morning will dawn before we know it, but the hours pass by so slowly.

Holy Saturday is an empty church. I can barely stand to visit there on this day, when Jesus is gone. The tabernacle candle is extinguished; the altar bare. I know He is coming back, but the golden promise of Easter is just that, a promise. For today I sit in the shadow of the sun, hoping and longing. The cross is ever-present, too fresh to be forgotten. My eyes are dry now, but remain swollen and red. I am too tired for more tears, too frightened to stand by the grave, too weak to stand at all. So I sit in the darkness, waiting, knowing He did not lie to me. But I am sad, and scared, and weary.

Of course, I am not alone.

We all wait together, anxious and trusting, looking at each other with both anguish and hope in our eyes. If we can just hold on for one more day. Yes, we can, certainly we can. We will hold tight to one another, dry one another's tears, and wait. He did not lie to us.

Soon Easter will come, and the sun will be so glorious and bright that we will forget our sorrow. The stone will be rolled away, the tomb will be empty, and we will run to one another with only tears of joy upon our cheeks.

But for now, we wait.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

baby love


I never get tired of looking at ultrasound pictures.

I'm fascinated by the technology, even though the pics sometimes look to me like maps of the moon.

But when the ultrasounds are of my GRANDCHILDREN? Then I'm really in love.

The above photo is my darling grandbaby that is due in September, cousin to little Gracie who will be here in a month or so. Lauren and Giovanni were so excited to find out the gender. A boy? A girl? Either would be lovely, but they had their fingers crossed for a son.

They got their wish!

My little grandson will be here before we know it. I just can't wait to see if he has Giovanni's curls or Lauren's blue green eyes. I can't wait to kiss his chubby little cheeks and smell his sweet baby smell.

I love babies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my grandbabies!

I'm one lucky lady.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

help wanted

Large yet cozy company staffed by moral, kind, interesting professionals seeking candidate for as yet unnamed position.

Ideal candidate must desire affiliation with a business that will not condone putting work before family. As such, mother of large family and expectant grandmother preferred.

Interested individual must possess strong communication skills and be fluent in languages spoken to disobedient children, husbands who want to know how much those shoes cost, and rude strangers who wonder why you have so many children. Ability to house train puppies and organize junk drawers not required.

Experience must include documented instances of: saving over $100 on a grocery order using double coupons; racing through an airport with five children, while pregnant; and praying rosary for teenagers late for curfew. Passion for doing the right thing, showing up day after day whether you feel like it or not, and washing three loads a laundry a day a plus.

Must be able to easily transition from birthday party for 13 six-year-olds to evening at Boogie Fever. Ability to keep checkbook balanced, mouth shut, and weight steady insignificant.

Ideal candidate is funny, creative, and loyal with a strong inner life. Must sincerely desire to serve others while remaining true to herself.

Pay commensurate with number of times awakened from a deep sleep to clean up vomit.

There's got to be a job out there for me, right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

beers to you


"I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings; I would like the people of heaven to be drinking it through time eternal." -- St. Brigid of Ireland

Facts about beer from today's reading in the "Little Black Book":
--In the Middle Ages, beer was one of the safest, most nutritious drinks available.
--Bock beer is brewed in the fall, aged throughout the winter, and served in early spring. Beer festivals traditionally began on March 19 (the feast of St. Joseph) and often included the blessing of the new beer.
-- Many monasteries brewed their own beer, referring to it as "liquid bread" because of its nutritional qualities. This was especially true during the lenten fast, when solid foods were restricted.

Enjoy a beer (perhaps a green one?) today. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

on my mind


Imagine for a moment that you have a medical condition that makes it impossible for you to keep your thoughts to yourself. Whatever crosses your mind - no matter how inappropriate - is on your lips.

Scary, huh?

Fans of "House" will recognize this scenario from last week's episode entitled "Social Contract." The contract refers to the unspoken pact that civilized people have with one another, the one that makes us keep some things ourselves, and to lie to comfort and console. It's the agreement that we make with each other every day about what we'll hide and what we will reveal. You bite your tongue, and I'll bite mine. You tell me I don't look fat in these pants and I tell you that of course that mole can't be cancer.

When I watched the show found myself frantic at the thought of what I would say if every thought I had was vocalized. Like the character on the show, I would certainly be offensive. I would hurt strangers and loved ones alike. I would occasionally make interesting observations, but mostly I would land square between sophomoric and vile.

Have you ever wondered if others can read your mind? It was kind of like that, pondering this rare condition that might strike at any moment. What if everything I thought was out there for the world to see? How horrific.

I share a lot here on the blog, share it with the whole wide internet world. But of course I don't really reveal what's on my mind. That would be scary for the both of us.

But this really got me thinking today, thinking about thoughts. I realized that so much of what goes through my mind is negative, faithless, and even cruel. I am often vulgar and vindictive. I'm extraordinarily impatient, and supremely vain.

My husband, who is remarkably wise, is always reminding me that my thoughts have power, and that I will become what I think about. He is no doubt familiar with this scripture:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy-keep thinking about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

If I want to speak things that are true, and honorable, and fair and pure, that's what I need to be thinking about.

Just in case I'm stricken with that strange malady, I'm going to work on my positive thinking.


“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” -- Buddha

Saturday, March 14, 2009

remembering my baby girl

Celeste would have been four today.

I'm sharing the video (again) that I made last year on her birthday.

Thank you for remembering our family in prayer today!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the power of a compliment

I heard once that when someone has a negative experience, they will share it with (on average) ten people. When a person experiences something positive, however, they usually tell only one person.

Let's change all that, shall we?

Today I was on the receiving end of several compliments. Now, we can talk at length about receiving compliments,and how hard it is for some of us (particularly us girls.) I've actually trained myself to receive compliments graciously ("thank you.") What I'm pondering today is how absolutely good a compliment can be - to both receive and give.

A very creative friend of mine, a musician, told me this morning how much she likes my writing. I'm still floating on that one. It means a lot to me because I know she doesn't hand out compliments easily - she is always genuine.

When the lady at the cosmetics counter told me I had beautiful skin, I liked hearing that, too. It may just have been her sales training doing the talking, but that's OK. It was nice to hear something positive.

I felt so good after hearing these good things today that I decided to do a little experiment. I know it is great to receive compliments, but I also realize it is pretty cool to hand them out.

Recently I met a young woman at the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I am a volunteer. She is 32 and expecting her fifth child. Like many of the woman who come to the center, she is overwhelmed. She has so much responsibility, not much support. As I got to know her I was wowed by her intelligence, courage and ingenuity. I was impressed by how much she had sacrificed for her children. I was absolutely amazed at how hard she was willing to work to make her life better for herself and her children.

So I gave her something in addition to some diapers and clothing for her baby: I gave her a sincere compliment.

She smiled a beautiful smile, and her eyes absolutely shone. I could tell that she did not receive genuine praise very often. I was hooked.

So today, after I was fortunate enough to hear a few good words myself, I started that experiment in earnest. I sent my husband a text message: you are a good husband.

He texted me back, then called and left a voice mail.

First: "the suspicion is rising."

Then: "OK, so what did you buy? Either you bought something, or you want to buy something, or you want to go somewhere. So text me and tell me, what did you buy, and where do you want to go."

Apparently I do not compliment my Big Man enough. Or perhaps my compliments appear to be only well-placed bribes.

My goodness. Now I'm on a mission to give my husband - and the other wonderful people in my life - real, honest, non-self-serving compliments. I really need to work on this.

By the way, YOU look mahvelous!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

when God says no

Some time ago I wrote about prayer. Convinced that God is most definitely not Santa Claus, and that He is more interested in making me a saint than He is in making my wishes come true, I may have come across as more of a cynic than a saint.

My husband and son called me a "negatron", incapable of a positive attitude. I prefer the "realist" tag, and I wear it proudly, right next to my smiley face button.

Anyway, since it's Lent and all, I've been pondering prayer once again. I've been considering the kind of prayer that I'm most familiar with: the type in which I talk to God, ask for something, get an immediate answer - a simple, unqualified no.

OK, that's not entirely true. Sometimes He takes days and days to answer. Sometimes months. I wait patiently then, and keep asking, pleading even, and I always get an answer eventually.

And it's no.

I learned about this type of communication at my mother's knee, literally. By her telling, she has had a lifelong history of requesting things - a date for the prom, money to purchase her childhood home, a cure for cancer - that have not been delivered to her (at least not to date.)

My husband attributes my negative attidude to Mom's example, but I can't really blame her. I've had enough first hand experience. That job I really coveted? Didn't land it. A date with the most popular boy on campus? Uh-uh. An expansive home with a modern kitchen, whirlpool tub and fireplace? Not so much.

Many, if not most, of my requests have been selfish. But I have certainly prayed for some things that seemed only to be good - for others as well as myself. At least that's what I thought, what I earnestly believed. Why can't my friend, a good Catholic man, find a job so he can support his large family? Why can't my single brother find a nice girl to marry?

Why did my daughter have to die?

Before we all go off the deep end of despair here, let's return to reality. Reality is about a Father who says no to His children - even when they can't possibly understand why.

I started reading a book today. The story, a true one, tells of a woman who is known world-wide for the horrors she has endured and for her great faith.

So far, I don't like it. It's really ticking me off, in fact.

I admit I started reading with a prejudice, a bad attitude so to speak. I can't really explain why, but as soon as I learned this woman's story, I was annoyed. She relied so fully on God that she didn't seem real. Her explanations about how she dealt with the extreme challenges in her life - by simply asking God for what she needed - irritated me to no end.

And you thought I was such a nice person!

The friend who gave me the book pointed out a passage at the end, in which our heroine felt called to marriage. She simply sat her good self down, sketched a portrait of her prince charming, wrote out an extensive list of all her future mate's qualities, and presented it to God.

Three months later she met her dream guy. They got married and had two perfect children.

WHAT?!?!?!

So I've come to the conclusion that 1. I am so lacking in faith that God doesn't even hear my prayers, let alone consider answering them; 2. I am so out of touch with the will of God that I habitually ask for that which lies outside of it; and/or 3. I'm a spoiled brat.

I was discussing this with friends today, and one quoted St. Catherine of Siena as she spoke to the Lord: "If this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few of them!"

That rings true to me.

God doesn't answer our prayers because we are His "favorites" or because we know the magic formula.

Scripture does tell us, repeatedly, that if we ask, we shall receive. Does that mean if I don't receive, I haven't asked properly?

Or maybe that I've asked the wrong question?

I wish I could end this post with a pithy commentary on perfection in prayer. I can't. I can only ask questions, and wonder.

And trust.

God is God, and I'm not. He will answer prayer as He wishes, not as I command him to.

I'm going to read the book, and really attempt to open my heart to its message. I can't judge her life through the filters of my experience. God gave her what she needed; He gives me what I need.

And for now, that's enough.

At least it should be, right?

Monday, March 9, 2009

a love story: paperback edition

Have you ever fallen madly in love - with a book?

I realize I have just effectively narrowed down my audience to the one or two of you who don't think I'm in urgent need of psychological treatment. That's OK, those that remain (fellow bibliophiles) know of what I speak.

I've met my share of books over the years. Some, despite their simplicity, have kept me entertained for days, largely because they were so fun and good-looking. They weren't very smart, but they fed me grapes and fanned me, like well-trained Cabana boys.

Others have teased me at first, then left me high and dry, wanting more, unsatisfied. They seemed to have so much promise. I gave them a chance, but sometimes I had to turn away prematurely. I don't feel obligated to finish that type when they don't deliver their end of the bargain.

I've found others to be intimidating, even when more experienced friends assured me I should dive right in. To be honest, sometimes I judged them, unjustly, by their covers. If, for instance, there was lots of small print, or if the author's name appeared to be Russian, I might not even take a sample. I'm cautious when sampling new flavors.

But every so often something scrumptious is delivered to me, and I devour it and wish I could read it every day for the rest of my life.

OK, so maybe that's a bit much. But I am about to finish a book that was just so real, and refreshing, and funny, that I think I want to marry it.

I've already mentioned it here, a few posts back: it's Anne Lamott's classic book for writers, Bird by Bird. So now I've really done it. I've eliminated even more of my audience. It's just you and me now, my fellow-writer-blog-reader pal. (I know everyone else is disappointed, thinking they were going to discover a hot new fiction title or at least a helpful weight loss manual.)

Actually, the subtitle is "some instructions on writing and life," so those who are interested in life, not just writing, might find some gems in these pages as well.
I always regret not having a highlighter in hand when I read (I was taught not to deface books, and I just can't get used to writing in them; it feels like savagery.)
So I'm left with my (poor) memory to find the passages that spoke to me. Oh dear. Let's see...

This is hard, harder than I thought it'd be. That's because this book is just so filled iwth inspiration.

A taste:
"My deepest belief is that to live as if we're dying can set us free."

"...Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."

And this: "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come."

I will finish the book tonight. I've been saving the last chapter, like a dark chocolate truffle in a box of chocolates. I plan to savor it, enjoying every last morsel.

I know this book has been around for years, and the serious writers have already read it. I'm slow, I know. Slower than me? That's OK. Read this book. Ignore the vulgarity if that sort of thing bothers you; forget the fact that you probably wouldn't like Lamott very much if you met her at a church function or the home of your liberal neighbor.

If you are a writer, or want to be, get this book.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

heart of stone

One of the things I like best about the internet is that because of it, I have friends.

I'm serious about that. I have a few "real" friends, of course, the kind that I go shopping with and get drunk with and speak to on the phone with when I am having a nervous breakdown. But I mean it sincerely when I say that I have found some friends through the wonders of the "worldwide web." (Does anyone call it that anymore?)

I joined facebook and 4marks (a very cool Catholic networking site) because I wanted to connect with old friends and make some new ones. I believe I am managing to do both of those things, and avoid doing housework to boot. (But that's another story.)

I especially enjoy the connections I've made to Catholic writers, artists and musicians on 4marks. I find those creative types intriguing, and while I may not want to talk to them on a daily basis (many of them are quirky, like me) I really like getting to know them the new-fashioned way: through what they reveal online.

One new friend, Patrice Egging, is a songstress and all-around cool pro-life Catholic lady. Among other things, she collects rocks. But they're not just ordinary rocks - she favors a special kind, those shaped like hearts.

I was out walking the other morning when I came across a whole pile of rocks. They were lined up along side a fence, where other folks have little green plants sometimes. I immediately thought of Patrice, and of my son Luke, who brings home rocks EVERY DAY that he picks up on his way home from school.

I thought maybe I could find a cool rock to send to Patrice. I didn't have much time to search, because I was walking Sophie, and she didn't want to stop to look at rocks that did not smell the least bit like bacon. I also didn't want the homeowner to come out and inquire why I was digging through his stony border, so I glanced around quickly, figuring that if there was a heart to be found I'd spot it, grab it and make a quick get-away.

But I found nothing so I went home.

Don't be ridiculous! Of course I found a rock! A beautiful one! A perfect one!

Here it is:
I was going to send it to Patrice, really I was. But the more I thought about it, I knew it was intended for me. When I look at it, I see a heart. You, or Patrice, or any other normal person probably does not. You see a bumpy misshapen thing, a rock that looks quite ordinary and rough.

I see a heart. One little girl taught me that hearts are sometimes imperfect. They are rarely shaped like valentines, and they are usually kind of crazy and torn-up.

And they are all unique.

I put the rock, the imperfect heart-shaped rock, in my pocket, and smiled all the way home. It reminded me of friends, old and new, and of hope, and spring, and love. It reminded me that you can find the right thing if you look in the right place, and look with the eyes of a child.

Did I mention it's pink?

Friday, March 6, 2009

you lack disclipline

A while back, one of the goofy folks who lives in my house discovered a website that provides sound bites of famous people saying the fun things that famous people say.

We spent many happy minutes at this site. We soon found a favorite: the sage words of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The best of the best? Him shouting "You lack discipline." We laughed and laughed, then went back to looking for other dumb stuff on the internet rather than doing anything productive or meaningful.

Last week I mentioned that my theme this Lent is "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." So we're a week into the season here, and I discovered that once I removed my fingers from my ears and stopped chanting "I'm not listening, I'm not listening" the Lord had plenty to say to me.

I lack discipline.

I think I have discovered something profound and life-changing here, people. I lack discipline. It's real gold, the key to all my troubles.

They say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step in making real change. OK, fine. I'm admitting it here. I am so lacking in the ability to control myself.

I do fairly well when I am given a set of standards, rules to follow. But left on my own, I stink. I just can't seem to get a handle on that most important type of control: SELF control.

It's why I eat too much, drink too much, talk too much. It's why I spend hours on facebook rather than doing research for an article. It's why I started to write this post, got sucked into an episode of "Ten Years Younger" and ended up spending 60 bucks on a pair of red pumps at zappos.com before returning to finish writing. (Honey, if you're reading this, when you see these shoes you're going to agree that I really, really needed them.)

What was I saying? Maybe I also have adult ADHD, but that's another story.

So what do I do? I'm tempted to do what I always do when I discover some real or imagined fault in myself: eat an entire package of Dove dark chocolate bliss and wash it down with a bottle of merlot. Just kidding. (sorta...) Actually I'm tempted to devise a very complicated "improvement plan" that will include all sorts of constraints on my thoughts and behavior. I will forbid myself to do anything I might even remotely enjoy. Doesn't that sound smart?

Obviously I've found this method to be less than effective, so I'm going to try something new this time. I feel rather like an alcoholic chanting the "one day at a time" mantra. There is true wisdom there. If I bite off more than I can chew, I'll just end up choking.

The path to self-discipline? Must start with something simple. So this morning I got up early, when I wanted to stay in bed. Then I took Sophie for a walk, instead of surfing the net. Later I had a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and ate only two handfulls of Wheat Thins, rather than half the box.

The best decision though, the one that will surely teach me the most? I went to Mass. Received Jesus in the Eucharist, and just sat there for a minute and said "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

He told me I lack discipline.

But He also told me He'd help me find a way to improve.

Pretty cool.

Anybody else struggling with this? I'd love to hear how you are conquering the out-of-control in your life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

mindless drivel

"While it's fresh in my mind."

If you're a writer of any sort at all, you've muttered these words to yourself. I've just got to get this down on paper, while it's fresh in my mind. Perhaps you just returned from the senior prom, or your first job interview, or the dentist, and what occurred there was so inspirational or stupid that you just must jot it down, for posterity. Or for giggles.

Maybe you're not an "official" writer, but even so, you've done it. You remember something you have to tell your best friend or therapist. You recall the words to that song. You remember what you really need to pick up the next time you're at the grocery store. And while the thought's fresh, you grab it.

The problem I'm having lately is that nothing at all stays fresh in my mind. It's as if someone has left the fridge door open a crack, or maybe knocked the plug clear out of the socket, and now everything in there has gone bad. The eggs are rotten, the milk is sour, the butter is rancid, and don't even think about touching that bread that's sitting on top. It's stale as hell.

I'm not sure if I'm mentally ill or brain damaged, or just tired. Is it hormones? Too much wine? Not enough coffee? Or is it that my brain is just crammed to capacity, like that old 512 megabyte computer we put on the curb?

The old steel trap had denigrated into a crumpled wad of aluminum foil.

I have no real excuse or explanation. It's just that I've lost my mind, and I miss it. We used to be so close, my mind and I. We went everywhere together. Now, I'm left to travel this lonesome road, mindlessly.

While it's possible my mind and I might be reunited someday, I'm not optimistic. I think I just need to accept the fact that things have changed. I need to rely on my kids, and my friends, and a daily planner. That's where I sometimes write important things.

While they're fresh in my mind.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

it's a small (interesting) world

One of the benefits of living with teenage boys and having hip sons-in-law is that I get to hear about all the latest cool stuff on the internet.

Thanks to my son AJ and my son-in-law Giovanni several fun things were brought to my attention this week.

One is the absorbing site diddit.com. Here you can track all the interesting things you have done - and the things you want to do. There are tons of suggestions for new adventures to experience. I figure this fits right into my New Year's Resolution about trying new things! I just signed up and haven't started checking off items yet, but I can tell this will give me a really fun new way to avoid doing laundry.

Thanks to Giovanni I was introduced to "drop box" (getdropbox.com.) Here you can download a program that allows you to access files from your computer from wherever you are, eliminating the need to email files to yourself or use USB. (Just yesterday I was emailing myself from our main home computer to my lap top. I do own a flash drive but 1. I never learned how to use it and 2. I can never keep track of it!)

I have to say the most awe-inspiring find of the week was google earth 5.0. (No, it was not that nasty SNL short you shared with me, AJ.) I cannot believe the detail that you can see when you google any location on the planet - no, make that the solar system! AJ was showing me pictures of the surface of Mars!

I must admit it was more than a little unsettling to see a pic of my house with my daughter's car parked out front. Big brother, anyone? But as AJ zoomed out from that view, out to a view of my state, our country, and our planet, I was mostly blown away by this thought:

I am very, very tiny.

The sense of the smallness each individual, of our apparent insignificance, left me wondering...

What sort of a god could create so many tiny souls, and remember them all?

What kind of creator could put a planet in motion, fill it with millions of beings, and love each one with a unique and personal love?

What type of man could give his very life to save each and every one of these miniscule specks on the surface of a big blue marble floating through an infinite space?

My kind of God.

My kind of Man.

Wow.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

dinner's ready!

3. What would be on the menu for your ultimate birthday party?

Oh what a yummy interview question from Cassie!

Let's just say this right upfront: I love food. And drinks. And food.

And I adore parties.

Unfortunately I've developed a life rule for myself that involves just one simple edict: don't eat anything you like.

Isn't that the saddest thing ever? Of course I'm just kidding. Anyone who's seen me can attest to the fact that I am very well fed, or at least I certainly give that impression by my appearance!

OK, so the dream menu...

I really like simple foods, especially pizza, the really gooey good kind with lots of cheese and greasy toppings. I also love Mexican food. The botana from Xohchimilco's in Southwest Detroit is one of my favorite things in the world. Ooooh, the avocados, the green olives, the melted mexican cheese.....
I also love bread, real bread, with a chewy crust, covered in butter or dipped in olive oil.

I stopped eating bread for YEARS in my locarb days, and I still don't eat much. If I start I just can't seem to stop! During that same time I actually started to enjoy salads, so I figure my dream meal would include one of those. It has to feature fancy lettuce - no iceberg allowed - and fun things like nuts and gorgonzola cheese. Maybe a few bosc pear slices, too.

I am female, so of course I love chocolate. How about a dark chocolate cake with really thick ganache for dessert?No chocolate in the house? Then bring on the creme brulee.

And to drink? I can't eat without a glass of good red wine. OK, I often settle for cheap, mediocre red wine, but for my birthday? At the very least I require several glasses of my new favorite, Penfolds Shiraz/Cabernet.


The truth is I'm really not that fussy. As I write this my son is preparing dinner: broiled sirloin steaks, sauteed spicy broccoli and red-skin potatoes. I'm sipping a glass of shiraz. Please don't hate me.

I'm a lucky, well-fed lady.

I know it's Lent, but gimme the dish: what do you crave?

Friday, February 27, 2009

7 quick takes: my premiere edition



You may have noticed that I don't have a blog roll on my sidebar.

I decided not to add one because I'm 1) a slacker; 2) I'd feel bad if I hurt someone's feelings by leaving them out and 3) I'd feel obligated to visit listed blogs all the time and I'm bad at that.

Of course I do have my favorites. Every so often I come across a blog that is so smart, funny, spiritual and/or insightful that I swear I must've started another blog in my sleep and forgotten about it.

Those of you who are better at scouting out the gems probably met Jen at Conversion Diary long ago, but I just got around to sniffing around her site recently. Her blog has all the qualities listed above, and more.

Fridays she hosts "Seven Quick Takes." I'm often tempted to pick these ideas up, and when I do I'm inconsistent. But I've decided to give it a go, mostly because I'm jealous of Jen and want to be more like her. (That and the fact that I've committed to more writing are my motivators!)

So here is my first edition (it might be the last, I'm not making any promises, so don't get excited.)

--1--
I've come up with a "theme" for Lent: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." I realize that my relationship with Jesus is not all that different from my other relationships: I do most of the talking. I'm attempting to spend some quiet time every day just being. I trust that He knows what He's doing, and He'll fill me in as needed.

--2--
I can't believe my first grandchild will be here in only a couple months! When I noticed the number on the widget had dropped to the 60s, I started to get really excited.

I admit I'm feeling some of that "how will I ever love this baby as much" that moms feel when they are expecting their second child. Remember that? Of course we always love them with all our hearts, because as I tell my children, the hearts of mothers grow every time a new child comes along. (The pie doesn't get cut into smaller slices, the pie gets bigger!)

Experienced grandmothers keep telling me I will go absolutely wild for my grandbabies, and that I will love them so much I won't be able to stand it. I'm sure that's the case, but I still feel they're not going to be as amazing as MY babies.

But like my mom has told me, these ARE my babies, in a very real sense.

I'm sure I'll figure that out when I see the little cuties. In the meantime, an important question to consider: what will they call me?

Grandma, Nana, Memaw, Grandmother? All we've come up with that feels right is Grandma Hottie. Your thoughts?

--3--
Sophie is the cutest thing ever. Yesterday it was springlike enough outside for me to take her for her first Long Walk. She did great, staying right by my side. I was unprepared when she pooped on someone's sidewalk (I'm so sorry, neighbor!) but other than that it went well.

She is still not housebroken, which is her only real flaw. I know, that's MY failing, not hers. I'm going to buckle down and really work with her soon to get her going outside in the proper spot ALL THE TIME.



--4--
My kids are doing really well in school. John and Luke are getting good grades, and more importantly, excellent marks in their behavior. Joey has also really taken to high school living. He's decided to take band next year, because if this family needs anything, it's a trumpet player.

AJ is taking classes at the local community college. I'm officially done with our homeschool days, but I still spend time with him talking about his photoshop class, setting goals for his future (culinary arts, perhaps?) and watching inappropriate videos on youtube. It's all good.

Lauren is preparing to graduate, with honors, from nursing school in May. I'm incredibly proud of her. It looks like she'll be continuing her job at Children's Hospital on the rehab/burn unit after she gets the RN after her name.

Rachel's a student in the school of life now, scoring at the top of her class. There might be a prenatal class in the next few weeks as well, although she's informed me that she really already knows all there is to know. That's my girl.

--5--

The Big Man and I have been discussing the possibility of me getting a "real" job. I'm alternately terrified and excited by the idea.

--6--

I've set up an interview Monday with a Real Live TV Star. I'm more than a little nervous, because he is a Real Live TV Star, one that I used to watch on my favorite soap opera (as Meg Ryan's love interest) when I was in high school. He is tall and good looking and he lives in Hollywood, and did I mention he is a Real Live TV Star? He is also a committed Christian who is using his acting ability to present the Gospel to his audiences. Pretty cool, huh? Visit his site: frankrunyeon.com. And pray that I don't get all goofy when I talk with him next week.

--7--

I've decided I cannot ever watch "Baby Story" on TLC again. I used to watch it when I was pregnant, and I'd ball my eyes out when the babies were born. When I wasn't pregnant I'd think it was somewhat inappropriate to be a witness to such a highly personal moment in a woman's life.

Now, I'm a pre-menopausal woman who isn't pregnant, and watching it makes me cry AND wonder what in the world these women are thinking. And it makes me mourn my Baby Girl, and wonder at the fact that I survived losing her.

She's on my mind a lot these days. I miss her.

This is one of my favorite photographs: it reminds me of her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

thanks!

The first day of Lent feels like New Year's Day. The champagne has stopped flowing, or, er, the paczki are gone but for the crumbs, and I'm left here with a dirty forehead and a question: Can I do this?

I'm not good at resolutions, so I don't usually make them. I tend to be so all or nothing that I lose sight of the reasons for the changes I'm trying to make. This year I made a great New Year's Resolution: to try new things and meet interesting people. Finally, a resolution I have a chance of keeping! I couldn't come up with something quite so fun for Lent, however. I'm kicking myself today because I allowed Lent to start without a concrete plan in place. Now I'm one day in and I haven't developed any hard and fast rules for myself.

I like rules. I may not always obey them, but at least if they're there, I can feel safe. I feel I would've done well in pre-Vatican II days, when penances were set so clearly before the faithful. Now, left to my own devices, I tend to be overly harsh or really easy on myself.

It's just too vague to say "I'll grow closer to Jesus" this Lent. So I'm going to make a handful of solid plans for myself, here on the first day of Lent. (Tell me it's not too late....it's never too late for this, is it?) I'll keep them mostly between me and The Big Guy, but I'll share the one I've come up with so far: I'm going to say "thank you" more often.

I'll start each morning by showing my gratitude to God for giving me one more day to serve Him. I'm going to keep it simple: Thanks, Father.

I'll say thank you to my kids when they help with chores. I'll thank my husband for working so hard for our family. I'll be grateful to my friends who listen when I call them or email them to whine about my latest problem. I'll thank my parents for putting up with me when I was a teenager. I'll thank the lady at the dry cleaners and the mail carrier and the pharmacist for doing their jobs and making my life better as a result.

I do really appreciate all of these people, but my goal is to tell them. We all need to hear those words, don't we?

And I just might develop a more grateful heart, something I sorely need, in the process.

And a grateful heart is one that is necessarily closer to Jesus, right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fat Tuesday reflections

I used to live in Hamtramck, arguably the Paczki Capitol of the World.

For the uninitiated, paczki (pronounced "poonch-key") are much like jelly donuts, but with extra added fat and calories. Folks eat them on the day before Ash Wednesday, stuffing them greedily into their soon-to-be fasting mouths.

When I lived in good ole Hamtown, I would wake up on Shrove Tuesday to the smell of those delicacies wafting through the air. The streets would be crowded with suburbanites who drove through Detroit and to this charming ethnic hamlet to load up on the plumb pastries. We even hosted a Paczki Parade, which featured the mayor of the city and some lucky guy dressed in a paczki suit. Good times.

It's a good thing I don't really care for jelly donuts or their chubby Polish cousins. If I did I might be joining the binge today, but instead I'm pondering our human tendency to load up on things that are just not that good for us.

I'm guilty as ever when it comes to this behavior. I may not be jonesing for donuts, but I'm saddled with more than my share of addictions. Lent begins tomorrow, and like many Catholics I'm considering today that age-old question: What shall I give up?

Now let me assert that well-intentioned spiritual folks would agree that the idea is to give up something good. Offering to stop freebasing cocaine or abusing puppies is not exactly in the spirit of the season. The idea is to refrain from the enjoyment of something wholesome and good that God has given us, with the idea that by sacrificing that allowed created thing we might grow closer to the Creator.

But of course we need to let go of the yucky stuff, too.

Today I'm digging deep, examining my conscience, seeing what stuff, both yucky and good, that I can let go of this Lent. It might be easier to give up jelly donuts, but I know this is what I'm called to do.

I'm not very good at any of it. Not good at the self-analysis; even worse at the letting go. There is so much to be attached to, so much to distract me from my pain, my challenges, my self, and ultimately My Lord.

I'm good at using the things of the world to numb my pain, to relieve my boredom, to stroke my ego. The whole world sits at my fingertips, eager to suckle me with the milk of self-indulgence. And so often I seek comfort there, instead of at the feet of Jesus, where my inner heart desires so much to be.

So this Lent, what shall I give up? I feel like Emily in Our Town, lamenting all the things in life she will miss, things she has taken for granted. I could give up hot coffee, hot showers, or hot dogs with everything. I could ignore all my favorites: dark chocolate, red wine, books by Dean Koontz, songs by the Killers, theaters and plays and movies. I could give up blogging and facebook and tilting my face towards the sky on sunny days.

Somehow, rather than making me feel closer to Jesus, the thought of all that "giving up" makes me feel like Emily in Our Town, lamenting all the things in life she will miss, things she has taken for granted. Does Lent mean I must "say Good-bye to clocks ticking. . ..and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths. . .and sleeping and waking up?"

Yet I feel a tug on my heart to let go of all of the yucky, and even some of the good, so that I may be open to a deeper relationship. I am, sadly, attached to more than my share. My heart can't be bound to so much of the world, no matter how good most of it is. I have to release some things so that I may grasp others with my freed up fingers.

I'm hoping, too, that by giving up some of the beautiful distractions of the world, I will grow to appreciate their wonder even more. Isn't that a worthy Lenten goal as well? So now I'm praying for the grace to let go, to hold on, to move ahead, to trust.


Like Thornton's Emily I'm in awe of the glory of the world. As she says, "Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?"

That's OK. But done right this Lent will help me see more clearly the glory of God.

So if you feel like it, have a paczki or two today. Enjoy the good things God has given you. Then spend some time thinking about what else He might have in store for you this season.

Have a blessed Lent.