Friday, December 21, 2012

New Year

"A compliment can truly be all that stands between someone being successful and giving up. Stand in that gap and offer an encouraging word."   Brett & Kate McKay,  Art of Manliness

Civility Lives On, Time For A New Year!

December 21, 2012
Another new year is upon us and here we are contemplating how to begin new habits once again. Last year it was Civility. To be honest, I do believe that between blogging every week about how to become more civil, it did work a little. I’m still working on it mind you, but at least I choose my words more wisely these days and lose my temper less often.
This year, after seeing an article on Encouraging Words on the website, Art of Manliness, I’ve chosen to give compliments more often. See, this fits me to a tee because I tend to be a perfectionist and am not very good at giving compliments. I don’t think I deserve them either so it makes it Even Steven. But after reading how people are much better people when complimented, and knowing I feel better after receiving them, I’m going to concentrate on that.
So beginning in January, I’m working on Encouraging Words. Encouraging words aren’t always compliments, in fact, you might give an encouraging word to someone who doesn’t deserve praise, but we all function better in our lives when we have encouragement. At least I think so.
Idle words are characterless and die upon utterance. Evil words rankle for a while, make contentions and then die. But the hopeful, kind, cheering word sinks into a man’s heart and goes on bearing fruit forever.”  (The Enlargement of Life (1903) by Frederick Henry Lynch. (

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Civility Week Week 50 Dec. 10. 2012

 A Fight For Joy
   Have you ever had that Angel on one Shoulder, Devil on the other Shoulder discussion with yourself? It feels like a war going on inside yourself? You know you should choose happy over mad, joy over hurt, but sometimes it's so darn hard to not get caught up in selfish feelings.
   This week I am struggling majorly with that. I have the opportunity to make peace happen, to entertain joy and not have regrets. Why, you may ask, would I choose to be anything but happy or joyous? Well, for one I feel slighted, hurt, not thought of. Aren't those good enough reasons to sit out and sulk, fold my arms in defense and pout?  Stupid as it sounds, that's been my line of reasoning.
    And honestly up until a few months ago that was how I always approached anything that wasn't going my way. I would get mad, sad, weepy or drag up the old, "Nobody ever understands me" line from the deep wells of sadness and despair. Then my husband would rattle my cage and say, "Just what is so bad in your life that you can't see the happiness more?"
   After fuming at him for a few moments for being so cavalier in his happiness, I would grudgingly have to agree. This time I was trying to do it all by myself. I'm a big girl, I can do this. So I told myself.  So without further ado, I'm working harder on it. This is not a "pat me on my back, way to go moment!"  I am asking you for, not remotely. It's meant as an encouragement. And also if I put this in print, or cyberspace, it means I had better mean what I am saying and not go back on it!
   Anyway, suffice to say, my Civility I think is beginning to rub off on me in unsuspected ways, like this today. I actually felt Joy battleing with Anger. I've never recognized that before. I always gave in right away to the anger. But today there was alittle flame of joy struggling very hard to be noticed, to say, "Hey stupid! I'm in here, just let it go and see me!!! Feel me!!! Experience the joy of just letting go the hurt, the past and moving on to think of the future!"
   Wow, cute little Joy flame! Grow little friend, and help me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It IS A Wonderful Life!

This quote by Frank Capra whose film, "It's A Wonderful Life" was critized by critics, yet loved by so many thousands of people is a good reminder of what we are here in life to do! 

It's a Wonderful Life wasn't made for the oh-so bored critics or the oh-so jaded literati. It was my kind of film for my kind of people. ...

A film to tell the weary, the disheartened, and the disillusioned; the wino, the junkie, the prostitute; those behind prison walls and those behind Iron Curtains, that no man is a failure.

To show those born slow of foot or slow of mind, those oldest sisters condemned to spinsterhood, and those oldest sons condemned to unschooled toil, that each man's life touches so many other lives. And that if he isn't around it would leave an awful hole.

A film that said to the downtrodden, the pushed around, the pauper, "Heads up, fella. No man is poor who has one friend. Three friends and you're filthy rich."

A film that expressed its love for the homeless and the loveless; for her whose cross is heavy and him whose touch is ashes; for the Magdalenes stones by hypocrites and the afflicted Lazaruses with only dogs to lick their sores.

I wanted to shout to the abandoned grandfathers staring vacantly in nursing homes, to the always interviewed but seldom adopted half-breed orphans, to the paupers who refuse to die while medical vultures wait to snatch their hearts and livers, and to those who take cobalt treatments and whistle -- I wanted to shout, "You are the salt of the earth. And It's a Wonderful Life is my memorial to you!"
Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title
(via Magnificat)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Civility Week 49, December 3, 2012

   So have any of you been counting?  Somewhere along the line of my civility blogs this year, I lost a week. I didn’t really loose it, but apparently I did not do a good job fact checking because there was a week missed, at least in the dates and we are suddenly in week 49 when we will still have 3.25 weeks of 2012 left.

   Hmm…so, does the last week of the year, when it falls in the middle of the week still count as a full week referred to as week 53 or does it get lumped into the new week of the year, the first week of 2013 though it’s not a full week.

I think I am putting off writing my blog this week by addressing this issue. Nonetheless, (I love that word and it’s also fun to type) nonetheless we will forge on, no matter what week we are in, ending up the year on a civil note.

   It’s nearing the end of the year of this civility experiment. I am still working on my civility, but as with any habit it’s a work in progress! Just don’t give up!  Next year I plan on tackling negativity; in ourselves, the news media, social forums and will try to take over THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!! 

   Ahem…out of my Pinky and the Brain mode…we move on or rather back to the civilities at hand…

   I read a quote today from fellow blogger, Julie Davis’s Book “Happy Catholic”. She was talking about transforming ourselves and how the media gets it all wrong saying physically, instead of conforming our wills to God’s. She has the quote from Thomas a Kempis that everyone has heard the last line of, but I don’t think many people know he was referring to the cross:

So the cross is always ready and waits for you everywhere. You cannot escape it no matter where you run, for wherever you go you are burdened with yourself and wherever you go, there you are.”

   Well said. We can never run away from ourselves, no face lift, no heavy drinking, no drug use or new clothes will let you escape from you. So there you have it. You might as well make peace with yourself then and learn to accept and work with what you got!  That’s not to say you can’t make yourself a better person.  It means accepting the person God made you to be and aspire to be.

   So why, after 49 weeks, you ask, am I still trying to learn better civility? Because it’s tied up in the cross.  One of my crosses in life is having a lack of patience, just ask my confessor! But giving up trying to have patience is just not an option. It’s a virtue which means I have to keep working on trying to use it.  Does that make sense? I know, I’m still working on making sense of it too, I just know I have to work on it because not being civil has a negative impact on my family, friends, co-workers and those other people in cars out on the road!

Wherever You Go There You Are!

"So the cross is always ready and waits for you everywhere. You cannot escape it no matter where you run, for wherever you go you are burdened with yourself and wherever you go there you are."
Thomas a Kempis

It's Never A "New" World

I came across a very interesting piece just in nick of time today. I say just in the nick of time because it's been one of those periods in my life when I think, "Am I accomplishing anything in my faith life?" or in my job at church helping passing up the faith.

Friday, November 30, 2012

And Mary's Kept These Things In Her Heart...

   When the Prophet at the temple told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart, that her Son would be the downfall of all Israel, the Gospel at that points says Mary held all these things in her heart.
   When Mary did this, how did she not get an ulcer? 
   As a mom, there are so many things I am concerned about with my kids as they grow older; finding jobs, finding a good spouse. Most of these things I pray about and put in God's hands. But you know, if you are a mom, sometimes the worries wake you up in the middle of the night no matter how hard you have tried to put them in God's hands. Seriously.
   Did Mary ever wake up worrying in the middle of the night? Did she ever get an upset stomach wondering if Jesus was okay wherever He was that night in some other town among people who were plotting against Him? Even though she was without sin, she was still a mom and would have been at least concerned about Him?
   Was she able to trust God so much that these things didn't bother her in the least? I have a long way to go as a mom. I try so very hard but maybe my personality gets in the way, that whole control freak thing. Maybe Mary was a very different type personality, one that didn't worry as much as I do. So as I sit here typing I keep trying to look to her to guide my mom ways, to emulate the way she could put everything in God's hands. Meanwhile, pass the Tums...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Civility Week 48, Nov. 25, 2012

Wherever the Bible has been consistently applied it has dramatically changed the civilization and culture of those who have accepted its teaching. No other book has ever so dramatically changed the individual lives and society in general.  John Fl. Walvoord

   There is no mistaking, no matter what our media or portions of our government lead us to believe, Christianity has brought civilization to America.  Other belief systems and faiths may do that too, but I say Christianity first and foremost because one of the main tenets of our faith as Christians is to love one another.  We are called as Christians to first love each other, and then settle our differences. 

   The rules of a civilized nation depend upon this Christian tenet of loving each other and it’s this belief in this “rule” that creates a civilized society.  It’s what keeps us from lawlessness, it helps create rules that protect people, especially those who cannot protect themselves.

   A civilized society believes in putting others first. This is why our nation has always been so good about reaching out to help the poor, those hurt or displaced by tragedy or disaster. It’s Christianity that preaches and teaches protecting women and children, why Christian men put themselves between their families and danger, why a Christian mother will go to any length to protect her child.

   If you read or watch too much of the media, you would begin to worry about civilization in our country. But I would admonish you to take a closer look. Come to our church, our food pantry, our church services. We are a helping religion.  Christianity builds in each of us a want, no, a need to put others first, to want to help.  Rare is the case where you see someone shrink away from a task at hand when they see a true need. Look at the outpouring of helpful hands after natural disasters, the number of people who volunteer as firemen, who work as nurses, etc. 

   Christians have always been persecuted. If you look at their true nature you would have to scratch your head and wonder why, why do people make fun or despise Christian acting people? Are they worried about becoming too civilized?  Christianity is a wake up call to look inside ourselves, to not become selfish, self centered.  Is that what persecutors are afraid of? Looking inside themselves?

   So we are called to fight the good fight, keep the faith and be civil doing it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Civility Week 47, Nov.19, 2012

Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness…I just hold it together in a civil way!  Anonymous

Ah…the year is winding down. Didn’t we just get started a few months ago? I’m taking a deep breath as we head into the Christmas season. And I don’t even mean the shopping. When you work in a church office, the only other season that rivals the Christmas season for crazy, busy, insanity is Easter week!

So in these final days of my Civility Project, I thought this quote was apropos.  Since I am still working hard on maintaining a certain level of civility towards all mankind, especially when reading about the lack of it in the news, and in politics, it’s enough to make you lose your nice self.

So when people think I’m being a pushover because I’m smiling, they just don’t know the whole story! Honestly I’m still working on the smiling part too.

But there are good people in the world.  Truly…they just don’t make it in the news or get their smiling faces splashed all over the internet because they are still being nice people.  I think the world would have been long gone before now if there still weren’t nice people in it. I always think of the reading where Abraham asks God if there are 50 righteous people in the city of Sodom will God not destroy it?

And he gets God down to ten people. So if God won’t destroy a town because even just ten good people are in it, that means I need to be at least one of the ten in my town. So keep going on the civility and smiles.

Wars have been in our history, bad governments, people doing stupid or horrible things. But God calls us to keep going on despite it all because He is always there. It’s us that do the leaving, the quitting, the complaining about how hard life is.  He truly made it easy for us to follow Him. It’s when we are tempted by the devil to give into selfishness that we mess up again.

So when I say I forgive you for pulling out in front of my car, flipping me off because you are angry about something,  I can be civil about it.  It doesn’t mean I’m weak…in fact it means I’m strong, strong enough to resist the urge to lash out at your lack of manners or sense of fairness. I am strong because I believe in a God of forgiveness and if He can forgive all my mess ups, I have to try to forgive yours too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shout Out! Happy 30th Anniversary Honey!!!

Civility Week 46, November 12, 2012

 All of civility depends on being able to contain the rage of individuals.
Joshua Lederberg

Maybe contain is a strong word; keep at bay, reduce to a minimum, reduce, because at any one moment in this world there are things that cause us to lose our cool, and yes, maybe even have some rage in our lives. There are times when it seems impossible to expect all of humanity to not be raging at something, especially when wars are going on, the weather has caused a multitude of problems as well as other human beings not acting so, well, human. 

The thing to remember, in working on our civility, is that trying counts. None of us is perfect. We don’t have to be perfect. We leave that to God. But we are asked to try to be better people, to work on being civil toward each other.

 I can’t help but think, that as a Catholic, reading and listening to the scriptures, that we are supposed to be focusing on that whole LOVE thing. Not the free love of sex with whomever, whenever, but the love of looking and listening to the world and knowing we are still on a journey to something better, that this is life is not all there is. 

We’re always being told that we need fame, fortune and we need it now. It is so easy to get sucked up in that pursuit. But I was listening to a Rascal Flatts tune last night called, “Mayberry” and it reminded me too of days not long ago when life was slower, stores weren’t open on Sunday, you could sit outside and listen to the crickets and not be interrupted by the sound of loud leaf blowers, lawn mowers or your neighbor’s car stereo.

Containing our rage or even just reducing it comes about by finding peace in our lives, having the strength to love everyone, and knowing that with all the bad things going on in our world, there is a better world we will enter someday. Look through your history books, people were always managing through horrible wars, leaders who went control crazy, people who made slaves of each other or debased them, hedonistic living. There were still people living with love and carrying on the spiritual aspects of life and helping others learn it.

Trying to be civil means holding on to that peace and happiness of knowing that God is always there. We always have Him to turn to even if elections don’t turn out the way we want or bad people abound and scare us, nature gets really crazy and destroys things.

Sometimes it’s remembering to be simple. To sit on your front porch and wave to people, sipping on an ice cold Cherry Coke, calling neighbors by their first name. Thanks Rascal Flatts!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Civility Week 45, November 5, 2012 Civility In Small Packages

Hebrews 13: 2   And do not forget to show entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

   Today, driving down a busy street, I had to slow down when I saw a car pulling out of a local hospital parking lot. The car had plenty of room before I approached, but even then I had to slow down because the driver was really being cautious.  Remembering my 45 weeks of practicing civility I slowed down without a heavy sigh, even though I was late picking up my daughter from her college class. I thought, here is a perfect opportunity to practice what I have been preaching. See it takes me a really long time to do this civility thing and I still have to remind myself that this should not be a big thing, but something that just happens all the time. But I digress.
   Anyway, the car moved on and I could see a man driving and someone else in the passenger seat. They didn’t quite drive at the speed limit and I found myself wondering if the passenger inside this car had just had surgery, a long stay in the hospital, or whatever since the driver was obviously being very careful in his driving manners.
   Then I saw it. A little upside down U-shaped handle in the back seat. Hmmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an infant car seat in my vehicle, but that certainly looked like the top of one. As we stopped at a light, I got close enough to see there was younger man driving the car, and a woman sitting in the back seat. They were talking animatedly about something or someone. I knew for sure then, they were bringing their baby home from the hospital, probably for the first time! There is something that new parents give off, a kind of happy force field even outside a car and says, “Hey, we have good news! A brand new baby in our car and boy are we nervous.”  As they approached the next intersection, the car slowed down and very carefully and made a right turn. I began to laugh as I recognized the over cautiousness of a brand new dad.  It brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful sight.
   Silently I congratulated this new family, going home for the first time all together. What joy they would experience in their small family now and all the firsts that a brand new baby brings. I wished them happiness and civility in their lives as they grow their family and teach their child about the world. God bless them!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Civility Week 44, October 29, 2012

Civility Week 44, October 29, 2012

Drago: I'm sorry Katherine - that Katie just slipped out from when Iremember you as being nice people...
Katherine McClintock: Are you going to stand there with that stupid look on your face while the hired help insults your wife?
George Washington McLintock: He can't help it - he's just ignorant. He doesn't know any better than to tell the truth. And I can't help this stupid look. I started acquiring it as you gained in social prominence!

From the movie, “McClintock”


One of my all time favorite movies was McClintock, though when I watch it now, I flinch at the end when McClintock’s wife, Katie, gets her comeuppance. I realize how many times in my marriage it would have been possible for my easy going hubs to want to take a coal shovel to my backside. He would never do that, I assure you, we would just duke it out on the sparring floor if we needed to!  You see, I have one of the most patient, understanding husbands in the world. While other people’s wives are gentle, kind and affectionate, I have been hardheaded, stubborn and while other women engaged in more womanly pursuits such as shopping, decorating, I would rather get in the boxing ring, sparring floor or play tackle football.


So it goes right along with my personality quirks that I needed this year of civility to become more civilized in my approach with people I disagree with.  So far, it’s been 44 weeks and it still hasn’t become the habit I hoped it would be; still working on it, not giving up, but wondering will this wish to be more civil become a habit?


But with any new habit, comes old temptations, the ones which seem to increase and multiply whenever you are trying to do a good thing!  So it goes, and the good Lord did tell us that would happen but we must keep trying.


This whole civility experiment is winding up about the time of our nation’s elections which I find amusing since it was political ads that drove me to think about how much our society has lost its civility. I have completely quit watching television because of the number of nasty advertisements; I don’t take political phone calls which are always robot calls these days anyway.  I am trying to temper my attitude about what is going to happen after the election, no matter which candidates win with the, “life will continue to go on” after the elections because it has for thousands of years no matter which human thought they were in charge. I know that is silly because only God is in charge. In fact, just today I found comfort while writing my teen newsletter about why we worship God.  We worship God almighty for the greater part because He is so immense and wonderful, created everything and all things, but we also worship Him because in giving Him our love and respect, we circumvent any human who thinks they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even if we are slaves, if we are under martial law, or have no freedom at all, we are given the opportunity to worship someone who loves us for no other reason than because He made us.


I feel much better knowing this going into uncertainties of the future.  People have always felt better because of this belief.  So in other words, we need God.  We as a nation, a human race, a universe, we need God,  who is all loving, all giving and the ONLY one who always treats us as “nice people!”



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Civility Week 43, October 22, 2012

“Don’t discount the power of your words. The thought that they might cause unnecessary hurt or discomfort should inform every conversation.” ~ P.M. Forni

    Once again this week I was reminded of how just a few simple words can come out the wrong way, if spoken in exasperation or negativity. And oh how hard it to un-speak those things said when we realize what we’ve done.  While I realize we cannot control what other people think of us or say about us, being civil with each other means we are careful even when we are tired, worn out or exasperated with a situation.  I forgot that last week and let my lack of patience show through in an situation and landed up hurting the feelings of a colleague. I knew it when it happened too, it was totally unintentional but that didn’t take back the  impatience I had aimed her way.  A day later, apologies given, everything was fine with us, but it reminded me how vigilant I need to be on the civility thing!

  Sometimes I think it’s just too much work. Then I remember how sometimes everything in life is too much work, dressing up for Church, dressing professionally for a job, putting on makeup when I’m just going to be schlepping around my house, keeping my home clean even when no one is visiting, cooking a meal when eating out or grabbing fast food would be easier and faster…the list goes on.

  So what does civility matter? A little faux pax here, a little fist pump there, next thing you know we have celebrities throwing cuss words out on television interviews. At this point I’m surprise the presidential debates haven’t’ gotten physical.

   That is just wrong. Hence the whole reason for this blog for the last year. So, civility does count, we do need to be aware that we make a difference in the world by being civil with each other.

   I made her cookies along with my apology by the way! Hey, it didn’t hurt to go a little extra!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Revisiting Aha Moments - by Laura

   One of my daughters, gave a talk at a retreat several years ago that I thought was so wonderful, I wanted to share it again with you. She had an awesome way of looking at the things in life that reminds me to look at things good and bad in a different way and to not take your faith for granted. Here she is talking to her peers about that very thing:

I’ve always had a pretty strong faith life and have loved having this solid base and direction for my life and decision-making. Until not too long ago, though, I really thought I was missing something or doing something wrong. See, I had never had that one big “Aha!” moment. You know, that huge experience that suddenly puts everything in your life into perspective and completely recreates you?

Well, one sunny day, I was lounging outside between my college classes with my Cherry Coke. It was one of those rare moments when I felt like the absolute only thing I had to do right then was to be right there under the gorgeous blue sky. It was like God had reached down His hand and scooped up all my worries and stress, and there was no way He was going to let me ruin that beautiful day with any black clouds of my own. It was right then I had this sudden realization, a baby, Aha, you could say, that everyone’s faith is different, and unique and I’m not doing anything wrong just because I hadn’t had a giant Aha moment. I DO experience Aha moments, in mostly smaller, daily ways, like sitting on a bench, enjoying the sun. So as I sat there, I slowly started remembering other little Aha moments in my life:

I’m 3 years old and get my finger stuck in Mom’s sewing machine trying to see how close I can get the needle to my skin: Aha, listen when Mom warns you!

I’m 12, looking forward to a new baby cousin when my aunt has a miscarriage: Aha, WE do not always have perfect plans.

I’m 14 and in the 8th grade when one of my best friends and her entire family dies in a plane crash, causing my classmates and me a nauseating, disbelieving, confusing pain we’ve never felt before: Aha, I will not always understand.

That same year, my grandma has a series of paralyzing strokes leaving her confined to a wheelchair, her right side paralyzed: Aha, I do not always have total control.

I’m 15, learning to drive and back into a storm drain during my first driving lesson: Aha, I can pick myself up after mistakes and move on AND, curbs are a good thing!

I’m 17 when my Dad gets downsized from his job and I instantly dislike the person in charge of personnel: Aha, hate solves nothing!

I hesitantly experience a TEC retreat for the first time and leave on an excited, refreshed high: Aha, God loves surprises!

This summer I became a Eucharistic Minister at church: Aha, God is SO present He gives me shivers.

The guy I want to continue dating gives up his partying lifestyle so he can be with me: Aha, people CAN change and I am worth that change!

August 29, my Aunt gives birth to a perfect baby girl, four months prematurely: Aha, life is a beautiful struggle.

Not long ago, one of the most truly amazing men I have ever been blessed to know suddenly dies of a stroke, only halfway through his life: Aha, I cannot take a single person or moment for granted.

Don’t ever be afraid or feel inadequate for never having a single, gigantic moment in your life where your faith is perfectly, permanently connected, because faith is the constant journey of us becoming better, always learning and God always teaching. The experiences, both joyful and painful, that we go through shape us and show us how God is molding us more than one Aha moment ever could. All we have to do is let Him scoop those worries and troubles into His hand and realize He helps us through even through toughest times if we just let Him. He wants us to let Him be in control so we can see all those little Aha’s!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Civility Week 42, October 15, 2012

Princess Bride:  Man in Black: “All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.”


Living your life with civility is a battle of wits. All the time, every day, all day long; keep your wits about you and you might make it through the day. The Free Dictionary by  Farlex on the Internet defines the word wits as this:  “The natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence”

But I like the second definition even better:

  “the ability to perceive and express in an ingeniously humorous manner the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things.”


Hmm..sounds  like how my week is beginning; trying to remain, and keep my wits.  While I am wishing I had the first definition of wits – the intelligent part, I feel I will much more need the second definition where I am needing to perceive and express, hopefully in a humorous and not impatient or angry manner, incongruous and disparate things such as what happens when lightning hits the church steeple and blows out a multitude of unconnected equipment and makes for one headache of a time.


Civility in our day to day life is just plain not easy. I’ve come to learn that over these past 42 weeks. I hear of an injustice that makes me mad and wonder if I can do anything about it without loosing my cool or hurting anybody!  Have these weeks taught me anything?  The guy that cuts me off in traffic now barely gets a roll of the eyes. Ha! Okay, got that, but worldly injustices still make me want to take arms and wreck holy you-know-what on terrorists who shoot young girls and decide she must no longer live because she does not share their beliefs.


But, you know, Civility does not mean we don’t defend or protect ourselves. God made our bodies as temples of the Spirit and must protect that temple. He also gave us Righteous Indignation, Fraternal Correction and so on. We are charged with instructing the ignorant not only just feeding the poor.


So maybe this lesson in Civility has helped temper my temper. It has made me look over those areas of my life I get upset about and say, “Is this worth my time to be mad?” If not I need to move on to bigger and more important things. And that has worked for me. It has calmed me down, made me look at the bigger picture on lots of things.


There is hope yet! And only 10 weeks left!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Catholic Mother's Companion To Pregnancy

I just finished reading a copy of Sarah Reinhard’s book, A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy

First of all, you don’t have to be Catholic to read it! Sarah finds a marvelous way of combining all our womanly fears, worries, concerns not only about pregnancy and mothering but all about being a God fearing Christian woman into one book!  She breaks down each week of your pregnancy including what is happening with the baby, you, what you may be feeling and especially how to ask the Lord and his Blessed Mother for help  in getting through it. It’s not preachy, or long, just direct, funny at times and to the point!

As a mom myself it’s a relief to read that other women have had those nagging, guilty feelings about mothering, or how pregnancy is affecting us. Sarah lets us know she’s not perfect, but she keep trying.  Just like Jesus did for us by falling three times on His way to the Cross!

Her delightful commentary on each week of pregnancy, with total compassion and understanding towards pregnancies that might end in miscarriage or stillborn birth or even towards those women who are spiritual mothers and not physical ones, offers insight to every woman’s soul as she urges you to walk the way with Mama Mary.

I love the way she urges you to take Mary’s hand when you are scared or tired and ask her help along the way of not only your pregnancy but as a wife and mom too. Sarah shares insights into her life and personality that help reassure you your feelings are shared by other woman.

The other thing I love about Sarah’s book is you don’t have to be pregnant to read it!  As a mother of three, the youngest who is 20, reading Sarah’s anecdotes, advice and prayers reminded me that as mom you never stop worrying about your kids no matter their age. It brought back memories of my pregnancies, the joys, the worries, the wonderings, the times I just kept asking Mary for help to get through a day.

I can’t wait to hand on this book to my daughter who just got married, to prepare her for becoming a mom some day. As a pregnant woman I could never get my hands on enough reading material to prepare me for delivery day and mothering.  I wish there had been a book like Sarah’s when I was going through pregnancies, something to tie in the spiritual and scripture and knowing what was going on inside my body. This book touches on all those areas. It’s not meant to be an in-depth look at pregnancy or spiritual life, but that is what makes it so enjoyable.  You don’t have to have a degree in Theology or in obstetrics to enjoy it, yet it gives you enough meat to keep you reading.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Civility Week 41, October 8, 2012

You are under arrest for pride!
“The very essence of politeness seems to be to take care that by our words and actions we make other people pleased with us as well as with themselves.” ~ Jean De La Bruyere

   Wow, I scared myself this week when I looked at the dates on my blog and realized that last week I had skipped a week ahead to October 8 instead of the first!  Too much stuff in my brain: It was my daughter’s wedding anniversary and I was trying to get her card in the mail, I was ironing bugs out of our new parish website, coming off a crazy weekend and the beginning of the week, trying to educate the kids at school that I do Communion Services and not Community Service.  Apparently too much politeness can become a point of pride itself which can be a bad thing.  Ouch!

  I  have been laboring under the assumption that I was trying to be a better person by helping out our pastor when he was ill or out of town and couldn’t say Mass by studying how to become a Eucharistic Minister, sacristan and holding a Communion Service. A Communion Service, for those of you who either are not Catholic or whose parish is never without an actual priest, is a type of prayer service held in Church where we read the Holy Scriptures and then receive Holy Communion, already consecrated Hosts of our Lord. We do not have the Consecration because only a priest can consecrate the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord. This is hardly ever done on a Sunday when a priest from somewhere will come help fill in for an ill or out-of-town pastor. It’s usually done during the week when it’s harder to find a substitute priest.  But in order to bless our day and still receive the Lord, the priest will consecrate extra Hosts so we can have a Communion Service when he is unavailable for Mass.

  If you are wondering how I’m getting to my Civility lesson of the week, especially the quote above, here you go.  Because we have a parish school and the school kids come to Mass several times a week, sometimes if Father is ill we will have a Communion Service with the students present.  I am privileged enough to be asked to hold these services.  But lest I ever think I am rising above my station in life to have this opportunity to serve the Lord, in other words, to keep my pride from getting too prideful, the Lord loves inserting a reminder to me every once in a while to keep me in check.  Case in point: One of the first graders in the school is also in my family’s martial arts school and one day after holding a Communion Service that morning, I walked into our martial arts school and saw said first grader in class. Very loudly, so no parent that was sitting in the waiting room could possibly miss what he was saying he announced that he saw me that morning, at his school, doing Community Service!

   Now, in our close knit neighborhood, if you are performing Community Service somewhere it usually means that you have been convicted of a crime, not something like murder, but usually some kind of misdemeanor and instead of jail time, you spend several hours doing some kind of service in the community, working at a food pantry or serving meals; hence the name Community Service .  So of course every parent in that waiting area looks at me with a questioning look. Here is their child’s martial arts instructor, teaching their child how to physically defend him or herself and she’s in trouble with the law?

    And prideful me turned beet red, laughed nervously and replied, “Oh, you mean Communion Service, AT CHURCH!” My red face did nothing to help my situation.

  My husband and youngest daughter, who were teaching the class at the time tried hard not to laugh. I quickly escaped into the office.

  But, God doesn’t let you off so easily sometimes and the next week I saw this same first grader in class, and he repeated his accusation, only this time right in front of his own parents and of course several other parents. I tried to laughingly explain he meant Communion Service, but I have a feeling they were more than just a little confused since most people haven’t attended a Communion Service if they only go to Church on Sundays and so aren’t familiar with this type of thing.

   So right there, wham! I had an instantly blow to my pride, which is forever trying to ferret its way into my heart and make me not very civil.  In this lesson I became aware that what God was trying to tell me was I should quit worrying about what other people think of me and just keep doing His work. My lesson in civility was in my own pride always getting in my way. Instead of doing good, I’m forever worrying about what people think – do I say the right words, do I do the right actions? Why am I so narcissistic?  Ack!!!

   Darn old pride! It’s forever tripping up my civility – pointing out other people’s faults: their bad driving, their inconsiderate actions, how they say the wrong things at the wrong times.  Could being more civil mean accepting my own faults as well as other people’s faults? It seems I miss THAT point constantly.  God is civil with us; I mean we’re not struck by lightening every time we say something awful or unkind, He gives us beautiful sunny days, gorgeous flowers. He is ALWAYS civil. Never does the wind blow whispering all of our faults. Do the trees accuse us of wrong doings? God’s world is pretty much a civil place.  Why can’t I be the same?

   Ugg! So here I go again off during the week working on NOT thinking of myself first…kindly or otherwise and just trying to concentrate on helping people for the sake of helping and being polite because it’s just the right thing to do, not so people don’t talk bad about you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

There's No Need To Fear!

   Uggg. I am so tired of all the news: Terrorists Threaten! Disease! War Is Upon Us! Our Country Is Going To Hell In A Hand Basket!

   Well, first of all, turn off your news from ALL sources, tv, internet, newspaper, pick up the Bible and a book on history. First of all, notice the't it nice?  Who needs the silly news on? All it does is cause us to:
a. be miserable  
b. run and hide
c. think the world is coming to an end
d. worry, cry, work on our ulcers and other nervous conditions.

Next, the Bible, the book of Holy Scripture we hear every Sunday, and during the weekdays too. Have you ever noticed, if you read more than just the last half, otherwise known as the New Testament. There's a reason you have to read the New Testament - it's called the beginning, or Why God had to send His Son in the first place - reading. The Old Testament. If there was every a sordid, PG-13 rated novel out there to watch out for, it's Old Testament!  There are wars, infidelities, affairs, murder, stealing inheritances, just to name a few.  Gosh, it makes our news today seem small and not so bad. Hmmmm...

Now for the History Book. History is full of heroes and bad guys/gals. Go ahead, look at the wars, poverty. It all goes back for thousands of years...why do we think today's world is going to be so perfect? How could we possibly be totally free from all those same trials and tribulations?

Okay, now before you get depressed about the world always being horrible, sad, depressing...look at all of the good stories in all of those places, yes, even the news. Wow, someone came to the aid of someone else, someone fed the poor, saved a life, helped a little old lady across the street, saved a marriage, got married, had kids who laugh and bring joy, became a politician who REALLY wants to help people, became a teacher, social worker, someone who answers a phone with a cheerful voice, wrote a book about good things.

Whoa, did you read the Bible about God's rainbow? the Red Sea parting to save Israel? Jesus being born, helping sick, feeding hungry, saving our souls?

History shows us great adventures, discoveries, moon landings, planet and underwater exploration, that dolphins like to talk to us as so our dogs!

When you change your perspective, it changes everything. When you put God and Love into the mix of all of these things, we find the world is really not so horrible, the Bible has salvation written all throughout it, and History had some really nice people and events sprinkled about. And our world today is not so different, if we remember how to look at it all: Through God's eyes, through love's eyes; and give of ourselves!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Favorite Quotes...Again...

From Simcha Fisher, a blogger for the National Catholic Register on humor and parenting says in the Book, "Style, Sex and Substance:  "The Offense: It's the feast of St. Francis and the kids are all giggling their way through Mass. You realize that they have been singing, "Make Me a Panel of Your Cheese," which they learned from you."

Oops. glad I'm not the only one who hears those things coming from their children. With mine it was "Holy Lasagne"

I notice a food thing going on here!

Civility Week 40, Oct. 1, 2012 & Archangels Feast

   This is one of my most fave depictions of St. Michael the Archangel whose feast we celebrated last Saturday, September 29th along with the other two Archangels, Raphael and Gabriel.

   All three of them were busy protecting my family and I as we traveled into north Missouri to watch two of our kids compete in a 5 K Warrior Dash - appropriately named for the Feast Day!!!

   But the angels were not only along for the 5K Dash either, they were busy protecting us on the road when as we were going into heavy traffic in St. Louis, everyone came to a very sudden stop in front of us and we landed up just inches from the guy in front of us and the guy behind us barely stopped too. Later that day as we were leaving the event on a two lane road, a truck pulled out in front of us less than two car lengths away and I don't know how my husband was able to pull off the road and not let us slam into this guy or keep the guy from behind us from plowing into us too, but he did. Then there was antoher guy later down the same two lane that crossed the center line and swerved back in time before hitting us.

   So we had all three Archangels taking care of us that day. Yikes. I now have more gray hair and less nerves. Our poor Guardian Angels are always busy, but the Archangels stepped up to bat with them that day!

  My family's patron saint is St. Michael. Since we teach martial arts to kids to help them stay safe, we've always asked St. Michael to be our patron. Our prayer includes an intercession to him for his protection for us as well as all of our students, past and present. He has always come through.  In fact the design above comes from one of our class T-shirts.

   My husband's name is Michael, and when he converted to the Catholic faith he took Michael the Archangel as his Confirmation name. It's quite fitting as he is committed to keeping children safe and that is our family mission.

   What does all this have to do with this week's lesson in Civility?  Well, for one thing, when each of these "almost accidents" happened, it would be my normal reaction to scream and yell not so nice things at the other drivers.  This time while I got upset, I calmed myself down without the usual ranting and raving about the lunatics on the road. The second thing I did was thank the Lord for protecting us. The third was to suddenly realize that all this happened on the Feast Day of our family patron saints.

   While I cannot say practicing Civility all this year has made me into an instantly not so crazy person who never yells at other drivers,  who looses her temper or goes off on a tirade, those things have become less often. And yes, you can ask my family, I think they would agree.

   So tonight, my youngest is driving again and I'm worried about the road, other drivers, and the weather. Will I make it through without losing my happiness? I guess we'll see. I can't predict if I can remain calm through every storm or worry in my life. All I can do is keep trying to practice civility. I've learned that some of my civility is closely tied to trust in the Lord. I lose my civility when I am worried about my family. When I try to calmly trust in the Lord I am more civil. Trust...there's another year's worth of blogging!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Civility Week 39, September 24, 2012

“Let nothing steal your joy!”
My daughter was having a rough day at work, nothing horrible but a day full of those little cripes and complaints that tend to get you down.  She is a hard worker and always tries to put on a happy smiling face to other people. But today she was getting pelted with temptations to think the whole world was going to heck in a hand basket.   She stopped in one of the departments of the store she works and one of the employees stopped her and said, “You just always have such a wonderful smile on your face! You just light up the room wherever you go!”

It was just the thing she needed to remind her that no body can steal your joy!

It’s hard to work day in and day out wearing a smile on your face, not letting the busyness of life or all the bad news on the internet get you down. As a parent, raising kids, you begin to get worried about the world you’ve brought your children into; is it safe? Will they find someone good to be friends with? To love?

Part of the lesson on civility this year has been to me at least, in learning to be civil I cannot let people or events steal my joy. And I should be careful not to steal other people’s joy. If I’m feeling bad or down, trying hard not to let that rub off on someone else can be difficult. But it’s a lesson to be learned. Why bring everyone else down? 

Part of being a civil society is being positive and hopeful.  It’s that hope and positive attitude that helps make us civil toward each other.

So, don’t let the world make you uncivil and never, EVER let the world or other people, steal your joy!

It’s yours to keep, forever!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Civility Week 38, September 17, 2012

Civility is not something that automatically happens. Civil societies come about because people want them to." –
Jimmy Bise Jr, Us and Them: A Blog conversation Survival Guide, SXSW 2006

It’s true that civility doesn’t just happen, just like morality doesn’t just happen or kindness, forgiveness. All of these virtues need work to bring them about and to keep them in society. In the age of technology, machines that can do a lot of our work, I think sometimes we have forgotten that there are things in this world and in our society that take work, they cannot be ignored and thought to go forward by themselves.

We are all constantly learning how to walk. Did you realize that? We learned how to walk when we were babies, crawling, cruising, the tottering step and finally, freedom!!! Running!  But as we age, we find ourselves concentrating on walking still. We take it for granted until we have an injury and need a crutch, an Ace bandage, a wheelchair.  Then once again we must re-learn how to walk. Sometimes it’s arthritis that makes us look at how we walk, or over exercising, running or sports. We begin to examine how we walk, look at the shoes we wear. How can we get comfortable walking again?

Civility is like that. We have had it in society for so long and now we gone and broken or sprained it. It’s not un-repairable, but it hurts and we need to fix it by reminding ourselves to be civil and help others be civil especially our kids and students because they should not inherit something broken!