Monday, July 31, 2017

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear- Memories from last Christmas.


While it's the last day of July I am remembering this post from the week following Christmas when it was cold, dark and brisk one morning I entered church to go to Mass during the week.  It was perfect...

   It was very cold, the wind picked up the blowing snow and whisked it around the church door.  It was warm but dark and quiet inside.  Softly low voices began singing..."It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold..."
The nativity scene glowed from softly lit evergreen trees surrounding it and above the Star of Bethlehem glittered silently in the darkness.  Mary and Joseph kept careful watch of their baby boy, Christ the Savior joined by the animals and the shepherds.  The priest intoned the beginning words of the Mass and once again we are reminded why the Christ Child was here, to save us from our sins.

Preparing for a Wedding and other exciting times

So I discovered I never posted this update from February... it was too fun to miss... (okay must do something about my massive ego soon.)

I think I forgot about this post BECAUSE it was right before our daughter's wedding and then our son got married three months after her...so I offer 'momma no brain' as my excuse.  You just wait...


So we are living the adventure of parenting...in two weeks our youngest child is getting married! I still cannot wrap my head around that but it is happening no matter what.  In-between trying on dresses and getting everything together for the wedding, I've been de-stressing by knitting socks and crocheting a wedding blanket.
  I have to laugh at the wedding blanket because my very appreciative children are quick to point out that though they love the hand made things I make them, they are quite blessed with enough blankets at this point.  I figure you can never have enough blankets so I blithely keep making them more.  I should know better but I can't help but remember the huge knitted brown, crème and black blanket my husband's grandmother made us (or had someone make us...we've been married 34 years so my memory is a little sketch...) for our wedding and we still have it. I think it's still around mostly because it's made from itchy acrylic, the only yarn you could buy in the early 1980's and because it's big...in other words it didn't get used much because of its size. It was made for two people. The color was popular in the '80's but that really doesn't bother me. It's better than puke sage green everyone loved then too.
  But I thought when my kids get married I'll make them a nice blanket for the happy couple. The first of our kids got married five years ago and their blanket has been stolen by the dog...it was a nice black and white striped number which went with their bedroom décor.  The blanket for this daughter is a gentle cream color which should go with everything except my soon-to-be son-in-law's black dog hair. 
  But hey, it's why I keep knitting and crocheting...you always need a new blanket.
  My fever craft right now is knitting socks...I LOVE knitting socks!!! I love the sock yarn I am using...

Beginnings of August

  What? Wait...how did August get here so fast!  Yikes!  Summer always goes so fast after we get through the Fourth of July, but seriously August 1 is looking me in the face.  No!!!  And I don't even get summers off. 
  When I worked at the parish school office as secretary I LOVED MY SUMMERS off.  It was the time for me to get started on home projects that I couldn't get done on the weekends.  But ever since I began working in the parish church office, I no longer get summers off and yes...I need some cheese with my whine...I miss my summers.
  Well, with the whining over, I'll share the fun project I started a week ago when my daughter, Cait, told me she still loves elephants and wants to decorate the baby's room with elephants. Now, my usual knitting forays are limited to bears, scarves, hats and socks. So I had to hunt down a simple pattern to do the elephant but it was so worth it!  While I changed up the yarn, from sport weight to bulky because I like the look and feel of the bulky more, I love this pattern.

  But Elly, Cait already named the elephant, is turning out so cute!
 
Here are the parts all knitted and waiting to be assembled:

 
 
Here are two views of her head:

I think the cutest part so far is her nose!
 
And here is what she looks like waiting for her ears:
 
I am finishing up knitting the ears now and they are HUGE but so adorable!! She is going to be one very cuddly elephant! Just right to sit in on the rocking chair in the nursery!
 
 
 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Family That Plays Together Stays Together

  Yes, yes I am the one that is forever using this quote: "The family that prays together stays together." It's on all the newsletters I write for teens in our parish and even in our church bulletin at times.  But I also like this quote, "The family that plays together stays together," because these days it's rare to see a family all sitting down together for the evening meal much less playing in the backyard together.  But I'm here to tell you that is what your family needs: to play together as well as pray.
  As my husband and I were raising our three kids it was important for us to also play with them. This meant we built one of those wood playhouses in our backyard when our oldest son was only five years. old.  We were out there with him and his two little sisters, the youngest only a newborn playing on the slide, the swings and teeter totter.  Then it was on to putting the oldest two in the "Little Red Wagon" and pulling them around the yard while I followed with the baby.  We made play time important with our children.  We taught them to ride bikes and when everyone could ride fairly well, we all rode bikes on our town's bike trail.  We went to the city park and played on the 'big' swings, me holding the baby on my lap and my husband pushing the other older two on the swings.  In the summers we bought a wading pool and I spent many summer afternoons home with my kids playing in that pool.
  As the kids got older we went for hikes and older still we went to the beach and walked miles and miles of beach playing in the water, sand and collecting shells. We also made sure they knew how to swim well taking swimming lessons and we drove to the river where I spent many teen years floating on inner tubes on a hot relaxing summer day down the Current River and exploring the hiking trails behind the springs.
  My point to all this is my husband and I made it an important part of raising our kids playing with them.  We didn't do organized sports, except for martial arts which we did together as a family. Playing was almost as important to our family as praying.  And to this day when we all get together we share our memories of playing together.  Now as they begin their own families we joke about all the board games we have downstairs and how we'll be outfitted as grandparents for games!  And my husband and I are still game to go floating down a river or two with the kids and their kids.  It's important your children see you playing with them. It's the time you spend together that is important and makes your children well rounded.
  While it may take a few more aspirins to keep us going these days, my husband and I are always up to playing a pick up game of football in the backyard or horseshoes. It doesn't matter what the game is, what matters is we have fun playing together!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yummy Yarn

So technically I have a stash of yarn.  But also to my credit, I am constantly using the yarn in my stash so does that count as stashing?  I don't stash yarn to look at it. I use it!  And as you can see here my main yarn usage is socks and bears.




Oh wait, I did have a phase baby boxing gloves for my fitness trainer daughter who has clients expecting babies!!

And also a baby blanket for my other daughter who is expecting!  This is actually the first version of the baby blanket. At first I thought all the little extra yarn overs and holes would make it pretty...


then I realized those were place were tiny fingers would get caught, so I ripped it all out and started over again.  Now it is a nice even blanket which will have a border of satin ribbon all around the edges because my own babies and toddlers LOVED to rub the satin as they went to sleep every night. So that was the most important part of my blanket!  I even found orange satin to match the yarn colors!



In between I knit a couple of cuddly bears...

I bought so much of the baby blanket yarn I was able to make a pair of matching socks for my daughter.

 And other socks...
Knitting socks is a great stress reliever for me...some people think that sounds weird, like knitting socks would stress you out more...but once I learned how to hold 5 double pointed needles together and knit it was easy.  Granted I started several years ago trying to figure that out and suddenly last fall I picked up a set of dpn's again and voila!  It suddenly made sense and I was off knitting socks!
 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mom the Postmaster

  For centuries, mothers have been the disperser of news.  If you wanted to know what was going on in the family, mom was the one to ask.  There's no official title or assignment for this job. It seems it would just happen into the nurturing laps of any mom who cares about what is going on in her family. That would fit most mothers.  Mothers keep tabs on their children. It begins with the first stirrings of kicks and elbows in the womb. "Ooph, she is active today, she just rolled over onto my bladder." Mom will tell anyone who will listen.
   It continues as a baby is born, begins eating solids and walking. Moms just keep mental notes of all achievements and unfortunately sometimes bad behaviors, and share them with anyone willing to listen or ask. 
  Generations of mothers collect news from their husband, children, extended family and friends and dispense tidbits of needed information out to family members.  Sometimes moms can get a little too generous in their news gathering skills and this can lead to gossip which a good mother needs to guard against. But for the most part, mothers are passing along words of wisdom learned from their own mothers and grandmothers and this child's experience along to the next siblings who could learn from the lesson.
  In my own family I recall the many letters my grandmother would write to my own mother about how all my aunts and uncles and cousins were doing.  The letter was usually three or four pages long, written on that small letter writing pad of long ago, smaller than a stenographer page. It would always amaze me how she could write about my mom's 10 siblings and their families and only contain it to 3-4 of those small pages.  I mean that was over 100 people she was in charge of. But my grandmother was very German; concise, not gossipy and she got to the point.
  My own mother was not so much the letter writer, but the phone was her ally.  She kept and still keeps my siblings and myself abreast of all going on in our lives by calling or rather, we have to call her to get the scoop on what is going on.  Whether illness, travel, children's events, my mother is usually pretty on top of the news which is really good considering she is going on 85 and has four children, four in-laws families and 20 grandchildren,  three grandchildren in-laws, and a great grandchild on the way.
  As a mother myself of 31 years, I have dabbled in writing news, phoning and texting news to my kids.  My family has a group text we pass along messages all the time as well as photos and humor.
  The biggest similarity of all these generations of mother news gathering is the prayer chain. It's also the most important aspect of this communication; to ask all the other kids to pray for a certain child and/or their family at certain times of distress, health issues, or whatever.  We all know that the group prayer has an enormous impact on each of our lives.  None of us could face impending disaster or life decisions without knowing the rest of our family was praying for us.  It's funny though because while it doesn't seem right for any one of us to ask for prayers from each other, all we have to do is say something to mom and the prayer request goes out from there.  It's just understood that's how it works.
  As my own mother gets older, there are some facts that sometimes get jumbled up with my sisters and my brother and me. We have come to figure out when that happens a well timed phone or text message is needed to clear up things.  We don't mention to my mom when this happens but just take it as an endearing aging foible.  Recently my mom fell and suffered a very minor stroke and spent time in the hospital.  Needless to say this upset the news balance. My brother and sisters and I had to begin the habit of checking in with each other instead of asking mom for the news.  It really made each of us stop and think about how important it is we keep up communication with each other. 
  With that said, my cousins and I are discovering the same thing. As aunts and uncles age and begin their trip to heaven, we are left with less and less news sources for what's going on in the extended family. While I dislike social media there is a very good side of things like Messenger for getting the word out about an aging aunt or uncle needing prayers or whose child is getting married.
  Such is technology.
  But the fact remains, that mothers are the receptacle of not only bringing children into the world but of keeping those same children informed and reminding them to pray for each other.  I cannot imagine what life would be like without the prayer chain in our families.  My husband lost his mother almost ten years ago, and while his dad does his best at keeping up on the news, my sisters-in-law have begun texting my husband and myself when prayers are needed for different things.  These communications in families are important and even more important is the message that we need to pray for each other. 
  So thank you Mom for bringing us the message. Not only of the family news, but of the Lord's Good News through prayer.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Forgiveness

  Forgiveness is an act of will and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

  The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.

  Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man, was I going to ask for more?  Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him... Jesus I cannot forgive him.  Give me your forgiveness...and so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Pray For Us Maria Goretti

   Today is the feast day of St. Maria Goretti, a young girl who though she had been assaulted, knifed and eventually would die of her wounds, forgave her attacker just before she died.  Her story is a wonder to those of us who harbor wounds and have a hard time forgiving such evil in our own society.
  I am one of those who struggles with the forgiveness of that similar sin. 
  We all have things stuck inside our hearts we have a hard time forgiving.  Small wounds are easy to forgive unless they build up over time and go unnoticed by us. Those small wounds can become larger and eat away at us inside causing us growing unrest, anger and not feeling forgiving.
  But the large wounds, the crimes committed against us, the ones that are right in your face from the start are, because they are large, are very, very hard to forgive.  Yet if left intact, if we do not deal with the journey of forgiving those sins, they attack us over and over again drawing poison into our very beings.  We must forgive. But how?
  I don't have answers. I am still struggling with forgiving such a thing. But today, the feast of St. Maria Goretti, who became a saint not because she refused to have sex with the neighborhood boy, but because she forgave him while she suffered from his assault, his knifing her repeatedly. She forgave him.  She was somehow able to forgive this wretch of a human being. She could forgive this boy who had no problem treating another human being so vilely; she forgave him.  She forgave him as she died.  She left this world bearing no ill will. And that is why she is a saint.  I pray for her intercession in my own heart to be able to be so forgiving.

Dear Saint Maria Goretti, your heart was so full of mercy, that you gladly forgave your assassin, and prayed that he might be saved; intercede for me before the Lord, Whom you now behold face to face. Ask Him to pour His grace into my soul so that I may always be ready to imitate Jesus as you did. I choose you as my friend this day and I ask you to accompany me my whole life long. In honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and in the imitation of your example, I forgive all who have ever hurt me or who desired my suffering, and I ask pardon of all against whom I have sinned. Through Christ Our Lord,  Amen

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Winding Down With Yarn

  I just have to laugh. I look at my email and see notices from several different yarn stores, knitting and crocheting places all telling me how I can learn to knit faster, crochet quicker.  Why do I knit or crochet in the first place?  Well, yes it is to get something nice out of it, but mostly it's a de-stressing thing for me.  I sit and begin knitting and my stress level goes way down...I relax and knit. I don't worry what my knitting looks like, there's a missed stitch here or there that's okay. The point is I instead of taking up smoking, or smacking gum or stress eating I knit...and knit...and knit.
  I don't want to go faster...I want the slow rhythmic pull of the yarn; the act of pulling off a loop onto my needle, picking up the next stitch, wrapping the yarn around that stitch and slipping it off and doing that all over again is what lowers my shoulders, helps me breathe deeply and think only of my yarn. 
   So I don't want to go faster. In fact they could tell me some ways of becoming more relaxed as I knit or crochet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Compassion Without Indulgence

   How do we teach our children to respect others while not giving up the values we have tried to instill in them?  If you only look at our country's media you would think we no longer had any values beyond indulging ourselves and our children in everything.  Teaching our children to be respectful of others, tolerant of other people's beliefs and cultures has suddenly turned into the media telling us we must accept everything as right and valued.  But there is a difference between someone being made fun of or ridiculed and indulging their every whim.
  As a parent you never want your child to be made fun of or to lack in friendships. Yet more and more we see parents indulging their children's feelings or desires, whether it's actually doing their homework for them, or insisting the teacher or administration is wrong about academic standards or discipline or encouraging them towards their transgender feelings at an age when they are really too young to have those feelings.  Instead of guidance, parents are becoming 'friends', instead of leaders, parents are becoming activists, instead of role modeling a faith filled life, they are throwing up hands, giving into demands and staying home from faith activities that could actually help them grown and raise their children.
  It's not easy to be a parent. It is hard today, it was hard yesterday and it will continue to be hard because we're human. It's why God created marriage because it takes a mom and dad to raise kids. Yes, it also takes other family members, grandparents, friends, community but mostly we've forgotten it takes God.
  We shove Him into the background.  But God is there to lead parents in their modeling of a value based life.  Jesus showed us how to respect other people without indulging them. He was considerate of the sinner, yet encouraged he or she to go and sin no more.  Parents must to the same thing. Parents are nurturers, not indulgers. Parents are role models, not activists.  Parents are supposed to try to lead their children to God, not give them excuses to stay away from Him.  Parents need our prayers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

And We Laughed!

  

   Many years ago, when our kids were younger and still at home and we had family meals, we would get to talking about this or that.  Sometimes we would veer off onto a subject from the news that made everyone sad or upset so to get everyone back on the happy track one of us would blurt out, “and we laughed!”   And we did!  Because life is like that, one moment there are sad and unhappy events, but we always have to look on the bright side of things and remember to laugh!

   Living your faith with true joy means doing the same!  We need to remember to laugh when the devil is trying to scare us into being paranoid, or into thinking God is not here with us. He loves to sow doubt and fear in our lives.  But if we remember to laugh, it reminds us that our faith is about spreading the Good News, not the Sad News, not the Bad News, but the Good News!
   My family has expanded now to include two son-in-laws and a daughter-in-law and a grandbaby on the way and it’s easy to watch the news and be frightened of the bad things in the world. What will my kids do about this war or that evil? What will happen to our grandchildren as they grow up?
   But having faith gives us an edge, or a cheat sheet to life.  We know that in the end, God has us all in His Hands. We know that if we stay faithful to Him, nothing on this earth can keep us from him.   I agree with  St. Paul who says in Romans, Chapter 8:   “ I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39
So live your faith with joy!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hold On Tight!


original poster by Victor Baldwin 1971

 I feel just like this kitten from a motivational poster from 1971. It has been quite a week at the Simmons' Casa.  Last week as we were preparing for our son's wedding, our area of the state witnessed some major flooding.  When the interstate between St Louis and Cape Girardeau closed, our California daughter and her husband had no way to get from the airport to us! So they had to fly a small airline after getting off in St Louis.  My daughter will tell you it was a very, very small airplane.  There were only 4 passengers on the plane and it was a very, very windy day so they flew sideways most of the 30 minute flight.  Green around the gills, we picked her up at our local airport just in time for her to help me decorate for the rehearsal dinner we were hosting.   We ran with a Cinco de Mayo theme since it was on May 5th and had a taco bar. It was a lot of fiesta!  Saturday the rains were gone and it was a beautifully sunny day as  we were witnesses to the wedding of our son and beautiful daughter-in-law and the beginning their life together. Afterwards they held the reception at their home and we enjoyed each other's company, wonderful food and dancing out on the lawn! Joyous!

Then we changed gears as we helped my mom pack her house to move across town to a smaller duplex. 45 years of memories in a two story home take a lot of time to pack and reminisce about. But my two sisters and my brother were the mainstays of the packing and preparing and tomorrow the movers come. Wow, they did an awesome job!

In the mean time, our youngest daughter who got married in February is expecting! It's our first grandchild and we are all thrilled.  She is just now going through all the fun early pregnancy issues so I keep saltines near by for her!  She and her husband recently signed a contract on a house, their first and we got to take a tour of that and see what needed to be worked on before they move in just a couple of weeks. They have a huge yard and for that they'll need a working lawn mower, lots of paint needed inside and maybe some new flooring and a lot of baby proofing!

Our daughter from California spent several days after the wedding with us for a really great visit and time for her too to see her sister's future home and also Grandma's house before the move. It was an emotional time but we're happy for my mom.  There was a lot of "I remember this!" as she and my youngest daughter moved around the packing boxes and picked out little mementos to keep.    Meanwhile back at our house the girls found the tubs of baby clothes I had packed away over 20 years ago. It was time to ooh and ahh all over again as we all marveled at how very little babies are when first born, teeny tiny shirts and shoes.  While my California daughter and her husband were here, they put a contract on a home in California and got it, so now they are also planning a move a few blocks from where they live out there.

Last night, my husband and I waved goodbye to everyone as children headed to their homes. It was suddenly quiet in the house and a little lonely. It seems everyone is in the moving spirit around us as we looked around our own home of 25 years. Our home has seen its changes. We added on a family room and bedroom about 15 years ago. This home has changed in so many ways, moving rooms around, the living room has become the dining room, the downstairs family room has become my husband's office and game room. The colors change, the flooring too but it's always home to us. It's still the right size and shape for our needs.  And right now faith is the only constant in our lives as we try to hang onto the Lord like the kitten in the photo.  We know He holds us and our children in the palm of His Hand.  Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Be Not Afraid!

  Last night my husband and I happened to stumble across one of the most motivating, inspirational films we've seen in a long time.  It suddenly appeared on Netflix May 1, 2017 and we were riveted to the television.
The film is Liberating A Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism.  Now I tend to be a bit cynical of religious films just because so many are well intentioned, but have no creativity beyond showing pictures, badly shot video and no graphics.   I have to eat my words when it came to this one.  Current Catholic film makers are learning by leaps and bounds what it takes to capture an audience, especially an audience that is young, and who stops only momentarily to acknowledge information. That audience will not be disappointed by this film.
   Liberating A Continent takes you on a quick journey through JPII's life.  Now I remember being in my first year of college when he was elected. In fact I still remember working as a student worker in the Admissions office of the college and walking into the office between classes that day and my supervisor looking up at me and saying flatly, "Your pope is dead."  She wasn't one for mincing words. I was stunned and when I got home found out more about John Paul I dying only days after being elected. We had watched the Papal Elections on television at home and were thrilled to be able to see the proceedings and the white smoke when Albino Luciani was elected. And now only 33 days later he was dead?   We watched at home as the cardinals again got together to elected Karol Wojtyla, an unknown cardinal from Poland. Unknown at least to us Missourians in the United States.
  For the next 25 years I loved this Pope who told us young people to "Be not afraid." Turbulent times were the norm in Europe and the Eastern Block. And although we had a few fears about nuclear war and communism growing up, actually it was the violence in our own country in race riots, abortion being made legal and the whole sexual revolution we were nervous about.
   John Paul II reassured us as young people,  he was reassuring as I became an adult, got married and began having children. He was always looking for ways to connect with the world at large and especially with young people. He was active and engaging and knew how to love the world.  He also knew how to work about governments who ignored their people. He reached out to people and made them feel important. He made me feel important and helped me instill that in my own children.
  It's worth a watching so look for it online where you can either purchase the DVD or if you have Netlfix or those other streaming versions, it is well worth!


Liberating A Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism
Carl Anderson - Exec. Producer
David Naglieri - writer
Joe Kraemer; music composer
Jim Cavesiel - narrator
George Hosek - director of Photography
Marc Boudignon - Editor

"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live"

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stay Calm and Call Your Mom!


Have you ever noticed that when you have big exciting news you look for another person to tell that will get almost as excited as you do?  Growing up that person for me has always been my mom.  I knew whatever I told her good news wise, she was going to be just as excited as I was, maybe even more! It didn’t matter whether it was getting an A on a paper in school, getting engaged to my husband, having ALL of our kids (she got excited over each and every one!) I always knew I could count on my mom to share my joy.

She was always my confidante too, listening when I needed a shoulder to cry on, understanding how I felt, and knowing what to say.  She’s always been my rock; in life and in faith. 

As we approach Mother’s Day in May, I ask you to take another look at your own mother.  Not all mothers are the same, they don’t all react in the same way as mine did, but the woman who bore you, and raised you is your mom and has a vested interested in everything that happens to you.  This year, not only am I blessed to share Mother’s Day with my own mom, but I have a daughter who is expecting her first child, so three generations of us get to celebrate motherhood.  I am blessed.  There is also another mother who watches over us too, Jesus’ mom.  She is everyone’s mother as Jesus made her when he said from the cross to John, “This is your mother.”  He wasn’t just talking about John, but all of us, the rest of the generations. He knew we ALL need a mom in life.  And even if our earthly mother isn’t with us anymore, our heavenly mother is always near.  And of course, she is whispering to our own mothers, whether they are in heaven or on earth,  what we need.  She is the ultimate mother of all.  

So when life is exciting or getting you down, remember to “stay calm and call your mom.”  She is always there for you!

Easter Forgiveness


When Jesus was hanging on the cross, looking down he doesn’t see any of his apostles. John was there with his Mother, but nobody, not even Peter was brave enough to be there at this death.  Yet Jesus could still say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  How awful would it be if all your friends left you at the moment you were dying?  Can you imagine leaving your family member or friend when they had been wrongly accused and were sentenced to death? Where were all those people who petition the court and ask for a stay of execution when Jesus needed them?

Of course we don’t live in those times, in the United States we have the freedom to speak up and demand justice.  The Jews, even those loyal to Jesus did not have that freedom. 

So what excuse do we give for not forgiving someone who has wronged us? Maybe it’s a minor hurt but it could be a huge life changing hurt.  Can we be as forgiving as Jesus?  I think about hurts in my own life and realize sometimes it has taken me a really long time to forgive.  There’s a hurt I am nursing right now that I am having to work really hard on forgiving.  And what happens when someone wrongs us and doesn’t even ask for our forgiveness?  You may have people like that in your life too. 

Easter reminds us that even these people have to be forgiven.  Most of the Jews that brought Jesus before Pilate didn’t say they were sorry, at least not before his death.   But he forgave them as well as the sins we are committing right now while he hung on the cross in excruciating pain.

Help me Lord to forgive, especially in this season of Easter. Let me learn from you how to forgive. I may not yet forget, but I know I must forgive so all my sins will be forgiven by you when I come Home.

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Light and Joyfullness

   "Light and joyfulness are joined at the hip, since light-hearted people are optimistic, cheerful and happy. When people such as these find themselves in dark situations, the inner light seeping out of them is as reassuring as the brilliance of a flashlight in a blackout.  In all great spiritual traditions, the Divine Mystery while known by countless holy names is also universally known as Light. Light hearted people then are God-hearted people and only the God hearted people leak God.  Since they don't generate their own light, their luminosity never dims regardless of how dark or dismal are the eclipses of daily events."
  "What gives comfort to those who are burdened is simply a full-hearted listening to their laments over their sad situation. A wise listener knows that when someone is burdened by misfortune, his or her greatest need is simply to talk about it and to be heard. Non-advice-giving listening heals by being supportive and sympathetic. Listeners rotate their attention away from themselves so as to fully focus on the other person's needs. "
                                                                                     (excerpt from "Chasing Joy" by Edward Hays)

Don't Forget to Smile in Hope!


 
 
 
Vatican City, Dec 7, 2016 / 04:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For Pope Francis, one of most needed virtues of modern time is hope, which is something he said must never be abandoned no matter how hard life gets, and which is often expressed in the simple act of a smile.

Referring to the “dramatic moment” of Israel’s exile in the desert, Pope Francis said Dec. 7 that this time was especially hard for the people because they had lost everything, and felt “abandoned and without hope.”

The desert is a difficult place to live, he said, but noted that it is precisely inside the desert that the people of Israel are able to walk in order to return “not only to their homeland, but to return to God, and to hope and smile again.”

“When we are in darkness and difficulty the smile doesn’t come, but there is the hope that teaches us to smile on that path to find God,” Francis said, noting that one of the trademarks of those who break away from God is “the absence of the smile, the smile of the hope of finding God.”

Perhaps these people know how to “have a good laugh” or make jokes, but they are missing the smile that only God knows how to give, the Pope continued.

Life, he said, “is often a desert, it’s hard to walk in it, but if we entrust ourselves to God it can become beautiful and wide like a highway.”

“It’s enough to never lose hope, it’s enough to continue to believe, always, despite everything,” he said, noting that often when we find ourselves in front of a child, “there is a spontaneous smile because a child is hope.”

“Let us also smile even if it was a difficult day, because we see the hope.”

Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims present for his Wednesday general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

After concluding his yearlong catechesis on mercy during the Jubilee, Francis began a new series on Christian hope, which he noted was timely given the fact that he started it during the Advent season.

Hope, he said, is needed “so much in these times that appear so dark, in which at times we feel lost in front of the evil and violence that surrounds us, in front of the pain of our brothers and sisters.”

Noting how many can feel lost, discouraged and even “powerless” in front of a darkness that seems like it will never end, the Pope stressed that “we mustn’t let hope abandon us, because God with his love walks with us, he doesn’t leave us alone,” but has instead “conquered evil and opened to us the path of life.”

Francis pointed to the words spoken by Isaiah in the days’ reading, taken from Chapter 40 of the Book of Isaiah when he prophet offers words of comfort and urges the people to prepare the way of Lord in the wilderness.

Pope Francis said that as a Father, God consoles his children by “raising up comforters” who are tasked with encouraging the people by announcing that their tribulation and pain is over, and that their sin has been forgiven.

 “This is what heals the afflicted and frightened heart,” he said, adding that for the people, consolation begins with the possibility of walking along the path God carves out for them in the desert, which is a “new path, rectified and viable” which allows them to return to their homeland.

The people to whom Isaiah speaks were living “the tragedy of exile,” but now hear that they will be able to return to their homeland on a wide and level road, without the obstacles that often make the journey “arduous,” he said.

Preparing this path, Francis said, “means to prepare a path of salvation and liberation from every obstacle and stumbling block.”

When Isaiah says that he is the voice “of one crying out in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord,” the Pope noted that it’s a voice that seems to be crying out in a place where “no one is listening” and which mourns “the loss owed to the crisis of faith.”

However, he stressed that the true story is not the one made by the powerful who are seen by the world, “but rather the one made by God together with his little ones.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth were elderly and “marked by infertility,” and Mary was a young virgin betrothed to Joseph, while the shepherds who met the infant Jesus “were despised and didn’t count for anything,” the Pope observed.

“It is the small ones, made great by their faith, the little ones who know how to continue to hope,” he said, adding that it is they who are able to transform “the desert of exile, of desperate loneliness, of suffering, into a level road on which to walk to meet the glory of the Lord.”

“Let us therefore teach hope, let us look forward faithfully to the coming of the Lord and whatever the desert of our lives, it will become a flowery garden.”

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

That Reminds Me!

I was reading one of my favorite knitting authors' blog today about her ski trip.  Her humorous post reminded me of the ski trip my husband and I took just a couple months after we had gotten married. We were poor...I had a full time job that wasn't even paying minimum wage yet, and of course back then did not have benefits either.  My husband was a full time college student with a part time job.  But we had friends who skied often in the usual places; Colorado and the Virginias.  But they had heard of a place to go snow skiing just one hundred miles away from our home town in Southeast Missouri for those on a budget. It was a golf course during warm months turned snow skiing in cold months, which in Missouri means only January/February IF there is snow.
  It was still expensive by our way of thinking...we were living on love...newlyweds!  But still it sounded like fun and my husband and I are always up for fun, especially when we don't know any better.
  We drove up to a resort just south of St. Louis and spent Friday night in a very small hotel room. The next morning we followed our friends to the ski resort.  It was, interestingly enough, not snowing, nor was there snow on the ground but our friends assured us there would be snow to ski on.  This resort had snow blowers, machines that mixed water and fans that blew frozen pellets into your face and onto the ground.  We saw one just inside the resort and watched how it kept the ski hills covered in snow. Genius.
  We arrived at the lodge/restaurant/golf pro shop and waited in line to get our ski stuff. First we had to get tickets, everything connected with skiing means you need a ticket. Next it was time for the skis and the poles. The people behind the counter look at how tall you are and hand you skis and poles then point out the lockers to leave our shoes and excess baggage in  and left us to figure out how you actually got your feet into the ski boots, lock them up and walk penguin style outside, down the wood steps to the ground, which was grassy with no snow outside the lodge.   We waved our friends on outside as we were still trying to lock in the boots and stand up. My husband and I of course thought this was so very funny, waddling around in skis and very stiff boots helping each other out the door we watched everyone else navigate down the steps in skis.
  It was very cold. Did I mention that part? While there was no snow anywhere except on the trails, it was cold and my husband and I, being very new at this ski thing and on a very shoestring budget, were only wearing jeans, not ski pants.  We also only wore cotton gloves, cotton hats and sweaters. We thankfully had on down vests, but we were seriously underdressed and inappropriately dressed for snow...or cold or getting wet which we unfortunately didn't factor into what it means to ski.
  We had signed up for lessons...my husband and myself, not our friends because, have I mentioned that they were experienced skiers?  I don't think we saw them the rest of the day.  We followed our ski instructor around to the side of the lodge/restaurant/golf pro shop with several other newbies and stood there or rather tried to just stand upright leaning heavily on our poles which are not meant for that purpose.  While there was snow where we were standing, just a short distance down the hill to our left was mud where the snow blowers had quit blowing snow and to warn skiers about the end of the blown snow were several bales of hay.  We trudged up a slight hill with great difficulty. It took several minutes for all the newbies to do this because there seemed to be no flat place to have lessons.   We  finally spread out in two lines facing each other with our instructor in the middle and he began teaching us techniques to skiing, which included a lot of "All you have to do," language which I have since learned doesn't mean anything when you are brand new at some activity.
  We were practicing making V's with our skis when suddenly we heard a long drawn out yell coming from up the hill.  The instructor kept talking until the yell got louder and louder. We all looked up the hill to see a man legs wobbling, poles flapping in the air screaming at the top of his lungs, "I can't stop!"  He sailed down the snowy hill in-between our two lines of newbies. Our instructor quickly got out of his way as he flailed past, eyes bugging out in terror, hit the end of where the snow blower had stopped blowing snow. As soon as his skis hit the mud, they stopped, but he didn't.  He executed a perfect front flip and face planted into the hay bales and the mud. 
  Not missing a beat our instructor turned to us and said, "Now it's time for you to head to the slopes!"
  One by one we penguin-walked our way about face and no body said a word.  We head over to the ski lift. At this place they actually had two different kinds of ways of getting to the top of the hill...hill, not mountain, we don't have mountains in Missouri.  There was the usual ski life then lower down the hill there was a tow rope.   We were instructed to head to the ski lift, show our passes and hop on while carrying our ski poles.  My husband and I moved up the line and when instructed stood in front of an oncoming empty lift chair and hop when it hit us in the behind.  That was fairly easy and the view was spectacular as we lifted higher and higher up the hill.  The ride was fairly short since it was a hill, not a mountain, and as we got to the upper lift station we were supposed to hop off.  Hop being an imperative verb because if you only leaned forward you fell on your face.  What they neglected to tell me was if you aren't perched on the edge of your seat while you try to hop you also fall on your face.  My husband hopped and landed gracefully on the landing area.  I however remained on the lift, stuck because my legs were short and I was trying to scoot forward on the bench so I could hop.  I got worried because the landing area wasn't very long and I could see that I that longer I took to get off the bench, the higher I was getting back in the air.  I knew that I had to get off that lift because they told us not to ride it back down, whether they didn't want you riding it back down or because it was dangerous, so in a panic to get off I finally moved forward off the bench and face planted.  Yup, hopped right off into a snow mound face down into the snow bank. At least it wasn't a mud pie.
  Finally I joined my husband as we plodded our way over to our first trail.  I don't know, it was a green or easy trail but it looked really steep to me.  I began by tacking, left then right, something our instructor had said to do if we were afraid to go straight down.  I don't care if we don't have mountains in Missouri, that hill was tall I tell you. I tacked all the way down, falling down on each side because I have absolutely no sense of grace when scared.
  We made it half way down the hill to a point where we could stop and take pictures. I had my husband strike a pose but by the time I extracted my camera from my jacket pocket, and focused, his skis had another idea and he began sliding down the hill. I yelled, "Stop!" but he yelled back, "I can't!"  So we have several pictures of him getting smaller and further down the slope.
  At the very bottom of the hill the only way to get back up the slope was a tow rope. In the words of our instructor, "All you have to do is sidle up to the moving rope, keep both your poles in your right hand and grab the rope with your left and let it glide you up the slope."
  Guess what? It really doesn't work that way.  First of all you are trying to 'sidle' up to something going uphill when your skis are really wanting to slide backwards, the rope whips along at waist height which means you also have to lean over a little and grab the swiftly moving rope with only one hand and hang on for dear life as it  jerks you uphill. After falling off the lift I didn't really want to do that again, so we tried.  It required several numerous attempts on my part, two more face plants and about half way up I was exhausted. The only other way was to penguin-walk up the rest of the slope which we did.  By the end of the afternoon all we had to show for our exhaustion and work were three not so spectacular runs, or should I say run, fall, run, fall down the slopes. We were cold, wet on, and my face hurt from all the ice pellets the snow machines kept blowing at me.
  My husband and I went back to the lodge/restaurant/golf pro shop and got some hot chocolate and waited for our friends. What an adventure.  On the way home in our wet jeans,  and with frozen chapped hands we did have some stories to tell.  We had survived snow skiing in Missouri! After thirty years we've never had the desire to go to any big skiing areas.  This one satisfied our snow adventure!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Post Wedding Brain

   Sigh...we just finished up the week post-wedding of our youngest child and second daughter whose wedding we celebrated last weekend.  Despite the months of worrying about possible weather catastrophes, blizzards, ice, snow, the day turned out beautifully sunny and chilly, cold enough for her to wear the full length faux fur she bought to cover her gown. She and the day were gorgeous.
  As for my husband and myself, we are absolutely exhausted.  Somewhere in my younger days I had convinced myself that no obstacle was too great to overcome despite my aging joints. I would always be able to climb ladders, hang fabric from ceilings, string lights and dance to my heart's content at whatever function we had concocted. I hear you laughing!
  While I had fun operating the man-lift all over the gym, my legs are still screaming at all the standing and walking we did for 48 hours decorating and dressing, photographing, entertaining and dancing then de-decorating.  But we did it and it was very worth it.  She and her new husband were very happy with everything and they have begun their life together happily.
  Meanwhile, my husband and I spent Sunday returning the U-Haul truck we used to cart wedding stuff back and forth across town, returned tuxes, retrieved the 42 linen tablecloths from the dumpster they were accidently dumped into, checked over the gym where we had the reception to make sure everything was picked up and cleaned, (it wasn't, we found a full plastic cup of beer in the foyer and a guest's personal bottle of wine)  and then finally that evening made it to church at the university where we almost fell asleep in the last pew because we were so tired!
  Meanwhile, our other daughter who was married five years ago, and flew home 1,700 miles to be here for the wedding was nursing a broken toe throughout the entire wedding.  But she performed all her matron of honor duties bravely despite the toe. Needless to say she was also exhausted and fell asleep while she and her husband were visiting his parents the day after the wedding, much to her embarrassment.
   I was thrilled that one of my aunts, an uncle and a cousin made it to the wedding also! Thank you Aunt Georgia, Uncle Carl and cousin Matt Schroeder for making the trip and really making my day!

  All in all it was a wonderful weekend!  While I won't be decorating, preparing, hostessing and tearing down another huge event very soon (someone should recommend a good therapist if I do) it was all worth it!

  Now onto regular life...oh did I mention that our son is getting married in two months? No?  Now I need to revisit that last paragraph on needing a therapist...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Irony of It All

  My life is full of ironies it seems. Is that what helps us not take ourselves so seriously?  I don't know. But when one giant irony occurs in my life, I have to stop and consider just what was I wishing for?
  Last night, while beginning supper plans I ran limped downstairs because my knee and I are not friends right now, (tendonitis has my left knee inflamed and refusing to let me put much weight on it)  to find some frozen vegetables in the freezer. Now, before I go further I need to let you know I am known in our household as "The Nose." If you are not sure about a food going bad, ask Mom. I sniff out mold before it even thinks about growing. Not sure if your shirt is clean? Ask Mom's nose. I could have worked as a canary in a mine, but I digress.
   With that being said for the last month I've had allergies attacking my usually sensitive olfactory receptors and some smells have been escaping me so I've been worried I am not keeping up with the unpleasant smells that come from having a shaggy part hound dog and two cats inside the house.  So when I descended the basement stairs, in spite of  my stuffy nose, the smell of the litter box seeped into my stuffy nose. Oh, gross, that needs to be changed and the whole basement needs to be deodorized before my daughter's fiancé comes over tonight.  This is gross, how long has this been a problem? Has it been like this since my allergies plugged up my olfactory detecting skills?
  I hobbled back up the stairs and asked my husband to change the litter box. Ever since we've had a cat or rather, two cats, this has always been my job, mostly because I was the one who wanted a cat. So I figured that was only fair that I clean up after them. He cleans up after the dog outside (as well as does the vacuuming, dusting, and so much more so I can do laundry and the books for our business, so it all works.) But lately, I've been getting behind on my cat duties and my very supportive and uncomplaining husband has been picking up my slack. So when I asked him to do it, he replied that he had just changed it out just a day or two ago, to which I replied, "but it smells awful down there." So instead of arguing he went downstairs to change it. Then I asked my daughter to go deodorize the basement. I wasn't going to have my home all stinky just because I couldn't breath properly. Goodness knows how long things have been smelling this way since my allergies have been raging!
  I turned on the stovetop for the vegetables and turned to get out a saucepan to put them in. I placed the pan of veggies on the stovetop and turned to the refrigerator to get out more ingredients for the sloppy Joes I was making. I began notice an awful smell; that smell you get when something gets on the burner or inside the oven. Goodness, how did something burn that fast? I checked on the hamburger which was fine, I even checked in the oven which had frozen fries crisping but that was fine too. What was making that smell?
  I finally looked down on the stovetop at the veggies which were just sitting there, still frozen, in the saucepan on the back burner with no heat on. It was only then I noticed that the hot pad I placed on the front burner, the one I had actually turned on, was smoking...I mean really smoking!  I grabbed my towel and grabbed the hot pad and threw it in the sink, it was then I noticed it was on fire. I turned on the water faucet, the thought racing through my mind, is it okay to douse this fire with water? What is it about stove top fires you're not supposed to drown with water? Oh, yeah, grease fires, no this is not a grease fire it's an actual piece of something burning!  Yes, all those thoughts went through my head, it's like when they say everything slows down and you are seeing everything in slow motion. That was exactly how this went down and I did it all so calmly. 
  Of course then I realized the smoke billowing all around my head and the stove top and quickly switched on the fan. I started coughing and at that moment Caitlin popped up from deodorizing the basement a puzzled look on her face. "Quick, take this town and fan the smoke alarm before it starts shrieking!" I said.
  I threw open the kitchen window, then hurried to the dining room window and the family room and opened up the patio door and the windows. I didn't care if was only 40 degrees outside, I had to get that smoke out. By this time Cait was also coughing and I began to worry about smoke inhalation which I'm sure as I'm looking back on it now wasn't really the problem, but I had watched too many episodes of "Emergency!" in my childhood to take any chances.  "Keep fanning, don't breathe!" I told her.
  I raced downstairs to find the box fan, but it is usually in the cat's room where my dear husband was cleaning out the litter box. Apparently he hadn't heard any of the commotion upstairs yet because he didn't even turn around. But the fan wasn't there, and I remembered we had taken it over to our martial arts center.  Argh!
  I ran back upstairs which was really painful to do because my knee was still refusing to cooperate with me in this emergency and grabbed another towel and tried fanning the fumes and smoke out the open window.  I suddenly realized I needed to check to see if the bedroom doors were open because the smoke would head back there and Cait's wedding dress was in one of those rooms. Oh Mylanta, it can't make her dress smell like smoke!!  The door to that room thankfully was already closed. I rushed back to towel fanning duty.
  As things calmed down, my husband appeared at the head of the basement stairs. Not saying a word he headed back to the bedrooms.  I looked at Cait who was still fanning the smoke alarm and she looked at me and shrugged.
  Finally with everything under control, I continued cooking supper, Cait went back to working on her wedding decorations and my husband came back out. "You okay?" he asked.
  I looked at him and burst into tears. He hugged me. "I know I should ask what happened, but really, you were worried about the cat box smell?" he laughed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Listen


 
 
Sit down and relax.  Listen.  Listen to God trying to speak to you in this busy world of yours.  Smile. He is reaching out to you, gently calling your name so you just listen to Him.

I’ve been trying to spend five minutes each morning just sitting, listening to Him.  I always have my petitions, my wants, my worries in front of me, rushing to tell the Lord all of them, asking for help with them…but sometimes, He just wants us to listen.

There is a lot of silence in listening. It’s easy to get distracted or think you are making up a conversation in your head, but just listen.  As I practice just listening, just ‘being’, if I stop thinking, stop remembering the next thing I need to ‘remind’ God about in my life, I can hear a soft whisper in my head.  I hear consoling words urging me to be calm, be at peace, to rest in the knowledge that God has me in His hand right this very moment.

Lent is only a few weeks away and as we finish up the Christmas season, begin listening to the silence more.  As the days are cold and you bundle up against the cold wind, listen for God in that wind. Listen with your ears and listen with your heart.  God wants to speak to your heart but we have to silence ourselves to hear Him.

Take a deep breath, watch the birds fly across the sky and listen.  Hear God stirring in your heart, a little voice urging you towards peace.