Wednesday, December 17, 2014

JOY! Week 7, 8, 9...

   Well you always know when it's that time of year when my writing takes a backseat to all my other hobbies In this case, it was job getting in the way as our parish was due to put out a picture directory and guess who was stupid, decided to volunteer for the last three months of making appointments, sitting at the hostess table, cornering others to help and sit and have their picture taken?
  Yes...well, that's done for another five years!  Then it was on to my home projects of knitting and crocheting and shopping for Christmas preparations...  Pardon my digressing!! On to JOY!!!!
  Tonight, we begin our parish novenas. I love novenas!!! They are a beautiful way to ready your spiritual self for Christmas...singing ancient O'Antiphons, prayers and quiet meditations.  And it only lasts 30 minutes! Easy enough for any busy person around the holidays to take time for the Preparation of Christmas.
  Speaking of JOY! My favorite Christmas song is course, Joy To The World!" And my favorite version  is the California Raisins Version! Make no judgement until you have seen it!!  You can watch and listen to it here!

So go get your JOY on this Christmas preparing season!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Joy! Week 6

  In our search for Joy, and in trying to live Joy-filled lives, we are always reminded that constantly negativity surrounds us. It is hard to ignore and tends to make us get on bandwagons of negativity ourselves.
 I found a wonderful article in the November issue of the Liguorian, written by Kathleen M. Basi where she states the following message: "There is a time and a place for rising up with a prophetic voice to point out evil. However, typically, ranting, negativity, and finger-wagging are not more likely to produce success than standing on a riverbank and demanding the water run uphill. Yes, Jesus turned over the tables in the Temple - once.  The rest of the time, he dined with sinners, and he didn't spend those meals telling his hosts everything that was wrong with them!"

  This is so very true. If we are always looking for the place to lay blame, wag our fingers in people's faces, then we miss the opportunities for Joy.  Joy spreads our faith much faster than blaming. Joy is what Jesus brought to people; and they listened. He cured people, and they listened; He fed them and they listened.

  If we could also learn how to turn our 'life lessons' into joy-filled lessons, people may turn their gaze upon their souls more and want to become more like a joy-filled person living the life God wants them to.

  Just a thought!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 5: Joy - Is it really all that hard?

   I just finished reading a post on the internet about what makes people happy, like generally happy people, not all the time life-is-always-wonderful-type, but those who just try on a daily basis to be happy.
  Then I made the mistake of reading the comments beneath the article. You are right, I should know better, the only people who make comments on internet articles are negative people. These people certainly did not get anything out of the happy article. They booed it, dissed, it and were generally very negative.  Why?
   What is wrong with our society that we cannot think we are to be happy, joyful people? Why all the negative?
  I don't go around with a constant smile on my face; ask my family, my co-workers, the people in the car next to me at the light.  But gosh, I still think of myself as a generally happy person. I teach martial arts to kids and women because I want them to be safe. I know there are bad people in this world.  But we have to keep trying to be happy don't we? We have to keep trying to be joyful right? Or else, what else is there?  God created this beautiful world, universe, stars and most of all, gave us a reason to hope. Hope that there is something beyond this life once we've lived out our body. Hope that there is an eternal life, always joyous that we can look forward to especially when this life is getting us down.
  I say, "boo!" to all the negative naysayers!  Boo to you who squash people who are trying to be joyful. Boo, boo, boo.   and Shame on you!  Shame for your negative thinking and put-downs. Shame on trying to bring so called "reality" to light. The reality is God is in charge and gave us joy and hope and shame on you for not listening to Him who is stronger than anything in the world including negative thinking.
  Now! Go be HAPPY!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Joy! Week 4

  "Do not become upset when difficulty comes your way. Laugh in its face and know that you are in the arms of God."  St. Francis de Sales

    When's the last time you found yourself laughing at a problem you encountered?  Hopefully you didn't answer, "never!" but like me you may have a hard time remembering when it was. Just this week I hit several obstacles that stood in my way of having a peace-filled day and I must admit, my first reaction was not to begin laughing.
    And yet, these wise words of St. Francis de Sales haunted my thoughts when as I was driving home and another driver pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes.  In fact, I was talking into my smart phone at the time, asking the computer to send a message to my husband for me, and the message she sent wasn't "Hi honey, I'm on my way home!" it was "Oh for Pete's sake!" recording my reaction to the errant driver.  I didn't realize the wrong message was sent, because of course, I was paying attention to driving and not what my supposedly 'smart phone' thought was my message to my husband.
    It wasn't until I reached home that he showed me what he received.  Boy was I glad I had actually  kept my cool for once and blurted something harmless! But at times like those, it's really hard to think about laughing because you're in a possibly dangerous situation.
    So I think St. Francis was speaking more of the other countless daily frustrations that block our road to peacefulness each day, a grumpy co-worker, crying baby, dishes sitting in the sink and chores that still have to be finished.  Why can't we laugh more when difficulty comes our way? In our effort to get through our day, laughter would be a most welcome way to react to our problems.  Worry never helps, nor does anger.  While it would have been hard for me to laugh at the errant driver for endangering both our lives, it would be much calmer and peaceful to be able to let go of the startle and anger and give thanks that I still have good reactions and could stop my car in time.
    This is definitely something I have to work on and since we're all a work in progress, I take heart that I am in good company!  But it is good to remember to pray for that peacefulness throughout the day and to laugh a lot more often while resting in the arms of God!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Never Quit!

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."
~ Unknown

I was so happy I ran across this poem again. I first read it in high school. I believe then it was entitled, "Never Quit!" but I found it under encouraging words today.  Back in high school I loved the sing 'songyness' of this poem. The way the words rolled off my tongue as I read it.

Joy! Week 3

"For Christians, an essentially hopeful outlook shows people that you believe in the Resurrection, in the power of life over death and in the power love over hatred."

"All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well."  Blessed Julian of Norwich."

      Both of these quotes said something important to me this week as I read the blog of a younger cousin of mine who is battling cancer, an ugly very invasive type. I don't think I have ever met a more happy, upbeat person than my cousin, Jim. His attitude about having to battle cancer after years of struggling with Multiple Sclerosis has been so upbeat and giving. He is giving to all of his family, his friends and all those concerned about him.  His blog is one of strength, hope and never given to despair and it amazes me how well he is doing through all this. He would say it was the prayers of one of the most powerful prayer warrior families in this country!  And I would have to agree we all come from 'praying stock'.  Prayer has always been the binding element in our familial relationship. If you looked at my family, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended families, you would agree that everyone has a hopeful outlook: showing people we truly do believe in the Resurrection.   And in Jim's blog you read that he really, truly believes in the Resurrection and is helping reassure the rest of us too.

     Throughout our lives as Christians we encounter moments, people and situations where we come face to face with the reality of our humanness, our frailties, our faults, our strengths and weaknesses.  We see in others the same things and realize we are all in this life to help each other.  With that said, I encountered and older man yesterday who stunned me with his revelation that he didn't believe in turning the other cheek, that forgiveness wasn't happening in his book and if you were sinning all your life, things didn't change at the last moment."

     I felt stunned at first, realizing he really meant what he was saying. He looked like he had a chip on his shoulder and it had been there for quite some time.  I began praying really hard then, because what do you say when someone drops that in your lap? Not believe in turning the other cheek? Rats, for all the times I've screwed up and had to apologize in my life, how would be feel to know you weren't forgiven?  I said some words about that was why Jesus died on the cross, to help all of us be forgiven and forgive.  He thought about that for a moment and shrugged. I smiled and said something like, "that's why God is bigger than all of us, He can forgive things we have trouble with."

    Feeling like I had failed, I encouraged him to come back another day to talk with Father. He said he might and went on his way. 

   I thought about the difference between him and my cousin; how Jim was dealing with cancer yet he was so sure about the Resurrection that he calmed the rest of us about his illness and how the man I met yesterday struggled to forgive.  I prayed for both of them, hoping my prayers somehow help where my words didn't, cause though I'm a writer, I feel terribly inept at explaining my faith to others through words. 

    That is why we are here for each other, because sometimes even when you can't put things into words, you can pray.  Prayer was holding up Jim and getting him through this battle for life with hope. I could only offer my prayers that somehow, the man I met yesterday would be able to get past his hurt, and forgive and be forgiven.

    Pray that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manners of things will be well...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Joy! Week 2

St. Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, said, “A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits. What would happen if we hid what little sense of humor we had? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.”

As I was discovering this quote from St. Teresa, I was struggling with being happy.  Life was really hitting some big old bull’s-eye on my back lately.  I felt like the target of so many arrows, all of them minor things, but after so many punctures to your back it kind of gets you a little down!

I wasn’t being happy and I am generally a happy person.  But ask anyone in my family and in my workplace and they would have to say that lately, I have not been very happy.  One by one, those little stinging arrows were really getting to me and I was slowly becoming a person I didn’t like being with. I was depressed, feeling selfish and put upon, tired, and definitely not happy. 

“If you feel sad and depressed, call on the name of God and the joy of the Lord will be your strength to carry on. His inner peace will overflow your soul and joy will bubble up on your inmost being.”

This quote is true, but it just wasn’t happening to me. I was trying, dragging myself to Mass each day praying for the strength to move on to happier times.  But it wasn’t working. I was feeling further and further apart.  Then I was hit with the “golden 2x4’’ as my husband calls it.

Last night, as I was praying desperately to the Blessed Mother for the thousandth time, a thought came to me. Or rather I should say, “Mom” planted this thought in my head:   Mary had it tough when she found out she was pregnant with Jesus.  In all those pictures, she looks so gentle and serene, but though she was without sin, she was still human after all, and people back then were just like people now, there were the gossips,  there were people whispering behind her back, ‘what, pregnant and not married yet?”  “She thinks she’s so holy and look what happened.”

Here she was doing God’s will, making her fiat to God when the rest of us would probably have questioned His methods, but she was firm in her reply, “Yes.”   Despite what other people may have been whispering or even saying to her face about a perceived ‘wrong’ because if Joseph noticed, so did the neighbors, yet she was so very trusting in God that even these negative comments did not ruffle her gentleness.

Why did I let other’s ruffle my gentleness?  Why could I not be the person God had created me to be and ignore the naysayers, the hurtful comments or requests and move on?

Hmmm…finally after years of praying for Mary’s gentleness and calm and knowing I was more like Joan of Arc and more warrior-like, I had found my relationship with Mary change.  She did understand what I was going through, she had suffered through the gossip, the whisperings, the hurtful words and remained a gentle, forgiving, loving mother to our Savior.

“Joy makes your heart lighter.”

Yes, it does and so did our mother in heaven who I now know always understands me even if I think we are so very different!  She didn’t have it easy just because she was born without sin. She didn’t have it easy because Jesus was her son.  It all came flooding through me at that moment how very alike we were and how I could always ask her for her understanding and help in reacting to negative comments and hurtful things.

And now, I can joyfully say, “Yes, okay, Lord.” I know I have to withstand the slings and arrows in my life which are nothing like your own son or mother had to endure during life. 

“Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love, joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. She gives most who gives with joy.”  St Teresa of Calcutta

And I find joy again…



Thursday, October 16, 2014

People will always love you to be afraid, but instead teach them the joy of having courage!

In This of All Things, Be Joyful!

  I am struggling with being joyful. Not only joyful, but joy-filled.  Everyone's life is a struggle, mine, yours, those we work with. But to let ourselves be dragged down by the dirty things in life is not being joyful or joy-filled.  So we must drag ourselves out of the muck into the sunshine again.
  I begin...
   Like I have so many times but can't seem to keep it going every day, through all the muckiness...but I must keep trying.
  I began several years ago a journal of Joy Quotes. I ran across my file again and decided I really needed to review it because I've forgotten...once to embrace joy in my life instead of the muck.  So I thought maybe you could use a reminder too!

 So, we begin at Week 1:   Joy Is A Gift From God!
Psalm 65:
You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year wit   your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Kids

   I love my kids! I realize I've probably said that here already, but it's worth repeating! I love my kids! They are now 28, 26 and 22, so they are not little any more but all grown up and exploring the world.
   My main goal as a mom has been to raise them to love and honor God. I really didn't have any other plans...oh of course I want them to be happy, healthy, joyful and good, but I figure if they love and honor God they will get all that too!
  This week our youngest moved into her own, it's a little different home now. It's been a fun week of moving, cleaning and helping her get there and thankfully it's only a couple blocks from our house.  While there have been moments of tears and sadness, I'm also happy for her exploring the world. And even though she isn't right at home all the time, we will still have fun, interesting conversations like we did a couple of years ago while she was in college and was having one of those days. She texted me a comment and I replied and the rest of the conversation went like this:

Cait: So during algebra I got up to pass  around the attendance sheet. My backpack fell down and unbeknown to me the lid popped off my water bottle. It made Lake Superior!!! It took 6 trips to the bathroom to get enough paper towels but I’m starting to recover from this traumatization!

Mom: Momma said there would be days like this!!!  Aaaeeiii you poor thing!!! I love you. Good luck! Bring an umbrella!

Cait:  Love you too J

Mom: Did anyone call out for noah and the ark?

Mom: I bet those are big bottles

Mom: I forgot the comma! I bet, those are big bottles!

Cait: yup and awful paper towels

Cait: Yeah they are!

Cait: no-the red ones you bought. My water bottle

Mom: I think we’re getting our texts mixed up. Big red bottles and crappy brown paper towels like at the center!!

Cait: Yes yes!! The paper towels were crappy like the center ones. Whew now we’re good!!!

Mom: So now I’m on the floor laughing again at our conversation! What a day! Love you! Good Luck!

Cait: Bahaha!  Me too! Or I would be on the floor if I had room. These desks are close together!

Always enjoy any time you have with your kids and your parents!  That time is priceless! And don't forget to write each other or text...then read over those things at a later time too!


Monday, September 15, 2014

A Blessing For You

May nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you.

All things pass;

God does not leave.

Patient endurance

attains all things.

Whoever has God

lacks nothing:

God alone is enough.

 St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, September 12, 2014

Slayer of Dragons

  I have to admit, as a martial artist whose patron saints are Michael the Archangel and Joan of Arc, the article in the October, 2014 Word Among Us about St. Teresa of Avila really caught my eye.  It is written by Leopold Glueckert, a Carmelite friar.

  In his article, entitled, 'Teresa of Avila: Slayer of Dragons' he refers to her as a spiritual dragon slayer because of her casual but confident approach to overturning powerful and common spiritual obstacles that we all face. 

  Having had many spiritual obstacles off and on throughout my life, I was interested in learning what this saintly female 'dragon slayer' had to say about deterrents in her life that led her to becoming a nun and teaching others to love the Lord.  I was especially interested in Teresa because she taught with joy.  She never took herself too seriously and was able to find joy and humor in problems she faced in her life.

  It reminded me that despite really trying times in my life, I've always felt a pull back to wanting to be a joyful Christian. I just couldn't see the point of being a sad faced, pessimistic Catholic. What's the point of being Catholic if we don't always try to see God's goodness in everything?

  I was especially happy that I found this article just as I was wallowing in a blue funk over a remark someone made to me.  Though not intended to hurt my feelings, I let it happen and boy did I wallow in the mud! 

  While reading Glueckert's article, I realized I had found a new friend and ally in the day-to-day struggle to be a happy Catholic.  Being joyful is really important to me in my ministry because I think it's by your example you help others to God, not just by your disciplines and rules.  St. Teresa really helped me see that I was wrong in being mad and hurt by someone who was questioning my methods. She says if someone questions you or speaks disparagingly about your faith, you can always find a way to reply humbly but point out how much your prayer has helped in your daily life.

  She also reminds us that even when we get upset with our adversaries, we owe them a smile. Why? Because, she says, "It was a loving, warm smile from God that had filled her with so much love in the first place!"

  I agree!  I will follow God's call in my ministry and as the author says, "Take up the shield of humility and the sword of good humor!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life Lesson

   My husband is a college professor and he is forever telling his students that real life is going to come at them hard and fast.  That when they turn in late assignments, miss class or fumble around on a group project that in real life, those kind of mistakes could keep them from getting a job or even get them fired from a job they did land. 
   After being in the business sector for over 20 years then switching over to teaching college classes, he brings a ton of 'real life' experience to his students who eat up everything he teaches because it's the real deal.  They know what he tells them works or won't work because he's actually done what he is teaching.  When they mess up he endearingly reminds them that "it's a life lesson, learn the lesson, pay attention to your life!"
   We could all use a shot of 'paying attention' to our lives. We get up and go every day, doing much of the same thing we do every day, but do we stop and realize this is my life? I need to pay attention to it because I don't get another one. As Christians, we realize after this life, whether we get to Heaven or not depends on what we are doing right here, right now!
   So learn your lessons, pay attention to your life, right now!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Little Civility Please

   Wow, I think I may revisit my civility year after driving this past week in our not-so-small town.  I know college began this week, but you'd think it was Armageddon coming or a 75% sale at Sears the way people, young and old were zipping through traffic, running red lights, and generally, despite the law against texting and driving, looking down at their stupid communication devices and not paying attention.   "Scotty, BEAM ME OUT OF HERE!"
   I don't claim to be exactly light on the old accelerator pedal all the time, but hey I didn't know you and the guy behind you and guy behind me were all volunteer firefighters on the way to a fire...huh?!
   And it wasn't just me noticing the insanity, one of my office mates complained about sitting at the stoplight this morning on her way in and as soon as the light turned green the guy behind her began honking.  Really? Does he not know that everyone runs red lights in this town and my office friend was just making sure she didn't become paint on the pavement?  "Oh Scotty! Where are you? What do you mean you don't have the power?!!!"
   There should be a lesson in here somewhere right?  Patience, prayer...praying for others...the entire world...calm down people... Just when I begin to think we have it all wrong, and where did we go wrong, I hear in Holy Scripture that every one of the New Testament writers were asking the same question almost 2,000 years ago.  Some things never change...and you know what? So we know we're not alone in thinking "what is this world coming to?" 
  That's why in Scripture God is always reassuring us of His presence.  If it weren't for Him, the world would have ended long ago.  Signs of Him holding us in his hands are everywhere, in every bird that sings, breeze that blows, rainbow that fills the sky, babies born, miracles abounding.  In every coming of that first light of day, we are reassured that God hasn't left us behind and is right here for us. 
   So, be careful out there, watch out crossing the streets and sitting at stop lights and for heaven's sake don't text and drive!!  God's got your back, but hey help Him out a little!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Assumption of Mary and Science!

I love this!!! From The Happy Catholic:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Modern Science and the Assumption of Mary

Each year on the Assumption of Mary I like to revisit this from The Anchoress. Because it blows my mind. And the Assumption is a good time for mind-blowing.

Holy ... uh ... Moly, I never heard of this before. The Anchoress sez:
When studying Anatomy and Physiology in college, the lesson that briefly discussed fetomaternal microchimerism, became instructive to me on a different level. Learning that every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of himself — and that it remains within her forever — the dogma of the Immaculate Conception instantly became both crystal clear and brilliant to me.

Mary, then, was indeed a tabernacle within which the Divinity did reside — not for a limited time, but for all of her life. Understanding this (and considering how the churches seemed to get it ‘way before microscopes told us anything) the Immaculate Conception made and makes perfect sense: God, who is All-Good is also completely Pure; the vessel in which He resides, then, must be pure, too, or it would not be able to sustain all of that “light in which we see light itself.”

Microchimerism also relates to the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, as well. In the psalms we read “you will not suffer your beloved to undergo corruption.” Christ’s divine body did not undergo corruption. It follows that his mother’s body, which contained a cellular component of the Divinity — and a particle of God is God, entire — would not be allowed to become corrupt, either.
I believed it anyway, but that made sense on several levels. Incredible.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Red-Necked Door Handles and Patience

You know how trying to see the humor in things helps you get through a minor problems? A couple of weeks ago, my little putt-putt car which has always been faithful, starting every morning, cold, heat, rain or snow, for twelve years now, began showing it's age with a fan belt that has been squealing. I mean squealing to the point of embarrassment while sitting in the bank teller line, on the parking lot where I work and at stop lights. My wonderfully capable husband took a look at it, but because it's a foreign make, did not have the foreign tools to get in there to take it apart. So it was off to the mechanics.  He got the belts changed, but not before telling me there was other work that eventually needs to be done which of course entails more foreign parts and tools and can't be done at home.  I decided to wait on that for, ca-ching

     But I guess my little guy got used to the treatment he received at the garage because not even two weeks later, putt-putt decided to roll the driver side window down and not let it go back up again. My husband took the door panel off, checked the fuses, but it is, of course, either the motor or the switch.

    Off to the mechanic again who had to order the parts and sent the car back to us so we could use the car until the part came in.  The only problem was he didn't send back the door handle. So my creative husband said, "You just pull on that little wire and it pops it open."
      For some reason it would work every time he did it.  But no matter how hard I tried I could not pull the wire to get the door open.  So he got me the pliers.  Now, it's only supposed to take two days for the part to come in so I thought, no big deal, I can do without the door handle.  Getting out of my car now requires a tool...hence, my red necked door handle. Sigh...

    Now for the laughing part...I'm not really laughing 'cause it's a real pain to be in a hot car, grabbing up your phone, purse and purchases and forgetting you don't have a door handle to get out.  It means putting everything down I just collected and searching for the pliers which never stay in the little cup I put them in near the gear shift. They fall onto the floor and in the midst of driving around town, slide across the floorboard, sometimes under my seat.  Oh and when I get in the garage any time after 3:00 pm, it too dark for me to SEE the little wire that has to be pulled with the pliers.  Sigh...

  It's been two days now and I haven't heard from the mechanic about the part yet.   I don't want to complain about a really minor hardship...but...I'm trying, not so successfully to make this a lesson in patience. Lord knows, I need plenty of those lessons...

  Thank you, Lord, for the little lessons in life that poke and bite us like gnats and mosquitoes and door handles that don't work.  It's in those lessons we build up to greater patience with things like that guy next to me at the light whose squealing belts REALLY  need to be changed!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Love My Kids...

I miss my daughter being so far away, and I know she and her hubs are making a wonderful life for themselves. But sometimes I'm reassured that "there's no place like home!"
From my daughter's blog: " La Goes Domestic "

It’s been two and a half years since moving to California. We’ve found a nice apartment that suits us, for the most part for now, though we dream of (and are jealous when we hear of friends/family with) a house with a yard and no crazy neighbors stomping or slamming or yelling etc. We have the cutest dog on the planet (who is cute or else he’d be…well, let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s cute), who we adopted at a local pet store just over a year ago. We’ve made some amazing friends, a fun variety of people. We’ve seen a lot of the cool areas of CA and know we still have  an endless list of other places here to explore. I quit a secure job where I felt I did an excellent job to start my own business, with the limited connections here and business knowledge I possess, yet with help it’s going fairly well. I just got asked to be vice-president of a networking group I’m in because they like my leadership and energy. We hustle, bustle, and keep quite busy, and are settling in as well as could be expected. We smile and laugh a lot.
And yet, days like today, I can’t help but admit, I wish I was home. I need a hug from my momma, a laugh and ever-encouraging word from my dad, an inside joke shared with my siblings, a goofy shot and dancing with my old friends, a drive on a back road with my windows down, chilling out with my extended family who is so good for my soul, to go to mass in the church I grew up in, a night out on the deck with a cold beer and just the sound of cicadas.
Maybe it’s Silicon Valley that drives you a little kooky, maybe it’s because I’ve just become too type A/OCD/controlling, who knows…but somedays, I feel like I just can’t quiiiiiiite hold it all together anymore. And that leads to crying at silly things like that I dropped an entire head of lettuce on the floor where the dog just trekked his muddy paws. Or feeling like I’m failing at everything and don’t know what I’m doing and wanting to just admit defeat and eat an entire pint of Chunky Monkey in bed.
Maybe that feeling never goes away. I think I’m truly realizing there never will be a place like home. And that while I love my life and the adventures and road we are on, I’ll always need home. And I’ll always need the reminder that, you’re not supposed to hold it all together all the time, no matter how badly you want to. And yeah, yeah, they always TELL you that growing up, but come on, we all think we can handle it all and be 100% at everything (because we’re also told THAT growing up). And then I remember Mrs. Payne telling us in 5th grade how we will sometimes just cry at silly things because we’re girls (human, whatever), or my mom telling me my art project really DOES look great, I don’t need to redo it for the 500th time, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. My dad telling me I shall not be Marsha Brady, I cannot do everything, and must guard my heart. I need to remember that. And I need to remember that I have needs. And those needs matter, and always will.

“If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up, because you know I’ll be there”

And now, I need a glass of wine and a reminder that, I am doing all right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

... Like A Girl

   It's funny, but in our household we have never used the term, "Hit (run, throw...) like a girl" to mean anything other than doing your best.  Without loosing any of our femininity, we girls try hard and usually accomplish what we go after.  God made us as partners with men. No one is better than the other and we complement each other. That's why God made our union so beautiful. 
   While this video is made by a commercial company who specializes in women's products, it is trying to help girls at a certain age not lose their thought of self worth; building up confidence in young women the right ways, how to be strong and confident but not arrogant should be our goal. In fact, the same goes for teaching young men, you can be strong and confident, but not arrogant.
Like A Girl

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Dating Advice!

  Here are some great words of dating advice from a fave new blogger! 

"Why do guys date psycho girls? Lately I feel like all of my guy friends, acquaintances, and relatives have been telling me horror stories about psycho girls they have dates, are dating, or want to date. My reaction to their stories is always the same, “Why would you want to date a girl that is constantly up and down and who probably belongs in a place far from decent society?” And I kid you not, every guy replies “Because they’re fun and exciting.”"     

 read more at  Justsayinso!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Saw A Rainbow and Other Signs Of Help!'s been a little stressful the last six months, what with the church renovation and then our Pastor being reassigned and job duties changing. Whew... I needed a day off!  I finally decided last Monday would be the perfect day to go floating.
    Many, many years ago I learned from a good high school friend the joys of taking an old tire inner tube and plopping down on top of it and setting sail down an icy cold Ozark stream!  For two to four hours you had your own little world of nature, lazily kicking back and soaking up the sun and ride along on river time.
   The only dangers were scrapping your bottom on the rocks in the shallows, gliding too close to overhanging 'tick' trees, slamming into a snag; the tumble of trees and other debris flash floods sometimes leave in the middle of the river and the occasional motorized johnboats that come up river.  Though these 'dangers' may lead you to think floating is a little on the risky side, be assured, it's not as long as you are in a small group taking turns on keeping lookout for those blips on your floater's radar.  For the most part, you are able to lay back, watch the sky and the banks of the river go by and dream about Mark Twain's journeys on a much, much smaller scale.
     So, after thirty some odd years of on and off floating, I've taught my husband and kids how to watch for the 'dangers' and I myself can get some stress-free time just dangling my legs and arms in the cool waters of the Current River, near Van Buren.
    Monday we packed up the car with snacks, SPF, towels, a change of clothes, picnic lunch and headed the two hours southwest. The only danger was I had switched on a weather radar earlier at home and noticed several summer bubble-up storms around our area and in-between the river.  We debated whether to go.  Maybe it was all that stress bubbling up inside me, but I said, I don't care, we're going no matter what. If it rains, it rains, if it's stormy we'll do something else. I was going to get out of town no matter what.
   We were 15 miles down the road, when I saw clouds rolling in and everyone in the car groaned. "Not to worry," I yelled, "Look! A rainbow!" And sure enough there in the western sky was a beautiful rainbow. I was sure our trip would be successful!
  Twenty miles later we were stuck in the midst of a horrible rainstorm, thunder and lightning, torrential rains; this was sheer madness. Should we turn around? I kept checking my weather app and it kept showing the rains moving away from our trip area.  Just keep going...
   Sure enough, we got to our destination and the sky was blue and clear. A more gorgeous day could not have been ordered. We had the most marvelous float and relaxing time. Letting go of stress, phones, messages and worries as we floated through God's nature spotting eagles, turtles, waterfalls and trees. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Black Walnut Bread Pan Miracle

      Sometimes you have to wait a very long time to get answers on things. I was always slightly jealous of people who talked about receiving 'signs' from God.  It seemed it was a very rare thing in my life for there to be any kind of signal from the Lord, even when I prayed hard for one.
      I am well aware of my lack of patience, it is a virtue I highly praise and highly wish for more of. So I guess it makes sense that our wonderful God is teaching me in little bits and pieces about how to be patient especially when it came to signs.
      So my story is this; about a year ago, I got to cleaning one of the cabinets in my kitchen, the one that has the overflow of plastic and paper bags, the dog's treats, extra baking pans and cooling racks and casserole dishes.  I am not an overly neat and organized person so this cabinet is more a disorganized catch-all than a helpful storage area.    I marked two trash bags with 'Pitch', and 'Don't Pitch'.
   First to come out of the cabinet were 100 aluminum personal size bread pans my youngest daughter had baked bread in for her teachers when she was a senior in high school; five years ago. They hadn't been used since and I didn't plan on doing that much baking for at least another five years. They got pitched. I grabbed two dark looking objects that were slightly greasy to the touch. Ah, Grandma Long's bread pans.  My husband's grandmother had been an awesome cook and baker. She worked at restaurants and made meals for other people in her home. She had left those bread pans to my husband because he shared her love of baking.  Those definitely belonged in the "No Pitch" bag.  Finally I could see light and the cabinet was cleaned up. The Pitch bag went outside to the trash and the 'Don't Pitch' downstairs to be stored.
     Several weeks later, my hubs was in a bread baking mood, he began looking for the heavy bread pans but could not find them in the cabinet. I also looked but could not find them.
     "No worries, they are in the "don't pitch" bag downstairs!" I said, feeling very bad I hadn't kept them in the cabinet.  I searched the bag and found the 100 aluminum pans but his special pans were not there. My heart fell to my stomach as I realized I must put the wrong bag in the trash, weeks ago.  I could not apologize enough and felt horrible. I bought him new pans but as all bakers know, new pans are not the same as well seasoned ones, especially ones your grandmother passes down to you.
     He used these without complaint and the bread he made was good, as always, but I still felt bad to have disposed of something of his so valuable in sentiment, if not in good baking.
     Several months went by and on a bike ride along a trail we frequent, we found walnuts lying on the ground. Not only were they just walnuts, they were black walnuts, a highly tasty treat for baking!
     When I was young, my dad would receive a burlap sack full of black walnuts from my grandparents' farm. They fell from a tree near the gravel driveway. My grandpa run over them with the car and the tractor to work the green hulls off of them. Then he would pick them up, bag them and send them along with us when we would visit them at Christmas.  Then each January while watching football games, my dad would go out in the garage, crack open the nuts and bring them inside to a table in front of his chair where he would pick out the fragrant meat inside.  My mom would then bake them into chocolate chip cookies and I would put them in fudge. Wow, it was heaven!  For several years my grandparents collected the walnuts and dad would pick them.  Then my grandpa died, and grandma sold the farm and moved into town. No more black walnuts.
     So when I discovered these black walnuts along the trail I shrieked as if we had discovered gold! We went back home and grabbed some bags and picked them up off the ground and brought them home.  Now black walnuts are covered in a green hull and if you break it open when they just come off the tree your hands are covered in a black walnut stain that forever marks you!  So they must be dried out over several months then the covering peeled off.  You must use a hammer to crack them open because the shell is that hard. Even then you never get a whole nut, it comes out with a nut pick in small pieces. But the taste is awesome.
     Last weekend I got out my hammer and began cracking. Immediately the sight and smell of those walnuts took me back to watching Dad coax the meat out of those gnarly black shells. I took them inside the house and began looking for the nut cracker and pick I remember my mom giving me after Dad died. I knew I had seen them last when I was cleaning that cabinet.  I got down on my hands and knees and reached into the organized cabinet and felt something greasy and rectangular.  I pulled out the well seasoned bread pans that belonged to my husband's grandmother.
  What?  How in the world did they get in there?  I stood there holding the bowl of black walnuts and the pans incredulous. I had searched and searched that cabinet for those pans!  How did they just now appear?  Just then I thought of Dad and big fat tears fell down my face, thank you, Dad!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Comfort Food

   You knew it would come to this one day, right? After all this blogging I was bound to blog about food!  Why?  Because it doesn't matter if we are stressed, happy or somewhere in between we love food. We love to eat it and talk about it!
  I'm no different!  I actually bought a book this week because one of my fave bloggers, Julie Davis, had a quote in her book about this book. It's "Talking With My Mouth Full" by Bonny Wolf. Bonny is a funny writer who also has a stint with NPR as a Weekend Edition Food Commentator.
  I wish I knew how you get to be a Food Commentator because I would LOVE that job!  Talking about food, testing, tasting...ahhh...such would be the life of a writer.
  But I digress!  Back to Comfort Foods and how even reading a book about comfort foods can make me think and want some!
  Comfort foods aren't always bad things either, I love a good salad. Sometimes I even crave a good salad! Yes, it's true!  But I also crave chips, chocolate and my all time, never be without, no matter what the season, Iced Tea.
  We all have our comforts in life, the things that help us get through a difficult time or day.  I have another food comfort.  I am blessed because I work in a church office which means, Jesus is just next door all the time!  And I visit Him very frequently when my day is going nuts and even better I get to receive Him in the Body and Blood during Mass. 
  There was a very good reason Jesus made the Last Supper THE place to be with his apostles the night before he died. The guys were enjoying a good meal, a comfort meal. Times had been hard, Jesus was talking about some worrisome happenings and Judas was acting strange.  Then, Jesus right there and then declared that the common wine and bread they were enjoying would become his body and blood.  What better way could Jesus have explained how He would always be with his apostles and with us by using the comfort of food and wine, the companionship of our loved ones and friends at a table renewing His sacrifice and remembering just how very much He loves us?  We all have the opportunity to receive Him when we go to Mass.  He has all the comfort we need!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Roll With the Punches

 My mother-in-law had a wonderful saying as my husband was growing up. When life dealt you disappointment or sadness you had to ‘roll with the punches’.   

 By definition, this phrase has come to mean, “a boxer’s ability to deflect the full force of an opponent’s blow by moving his body.”

  At times during your life you must be like the fighter standing in the ring.  You are in the ring to fight, but you will also get hit. No good fighter ever escapes without a few punches to the face, stomach or head and to lessen those blows you need to move and keep moving or roll with the punches if you want to be standing at the end of the fight.

  That is a sentiment that is echoed in many of our Gospel readings, ‘life is hard, living your faith will be hard’ but because you always have God by your side, you can make it through.’ 

  In John 16, Chapter 16, Jesus even tells his disciples that they will be persecuted, They will expel you from the synagogues, in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. “  But then He goes on to reassure them that they will not be alone in this life to face these hardships and trials, “ For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”  “...But when he comes, the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you to all truth.   (John 16: 1-13)

  Jesus is reassuring us that though the world may deal us blows, and trials and sorrows, we have the Holy Spirit with us always to help us get along. 

    We can teach our children the same roll with the punches attitude to have in life. Just because life is hard does not mean you lose your faith. Our faith is what helps us roll with the punches, get up and keep walking toward Heaven.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Back To Work

   It is good to be back writing more again. I've missed this! As things settle down with our church renovation and I'm not taking pictures, keeping up with changes and moving, etc. I'll have more time to download or upload as the case may be all the events that happened along the way.  We began a huge renovation of our Cathedral on January 6, 2014 and since then we experienced blizzards, floods and lightning strikes that made it an adventure!
  Now some of the renovating has moved into our office space which is making life even more interesting as we tiptoe over freshly laid tile and clean the perpetual dust that seems to follow us everywhere.
  While the heavy ice storms, snow and frigid temps didn't keep us from working while Church was being worked on the lightning did cause some disruption in the office since for the second time in 15 months we've had a major lightning strike that wiped out phone systems, computers, our church organ electronics and internet. As the technology person for our parish offices life has had me hopping trying to coordinate repairs and insurance claims!  Can you say "vacation time?"
  It's all been a huge lesson in patience for me, something I need to work on anyway and with God's  wonderful sense of humor the timing has been, well, timely I guess. 
  So as we continue on our faith journey, I have a lot to catch you up on! Thank you for your patience and waiting for me!  I've missed you!

This is a serendipity shot; our new mural behind the altar reflected in the entrance glass of the church. This won't last because the wall behind the glass is temporary so you won't be able to see this reflection when it comes down.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Picture Lady Is Back Again With More Renovation!

  So we are finishing up the church except for the main doors which they are working on this week, but then they began on our office floors last week so the work never ends.  Last week they were upstairs and on the landings, but this week they have been in front of my office and the other main offices. What was once nice orderly and safe has become chaos!  We had to move our network printer out into the reception area. We gave our volunteer receptionists which includes my own mom, the week off! 
  So that has meant those few of us left in the office are answering the phone, the doorbell and taking care of business all the while dodging bent over floor tile gentlemen.  I laid tile in my kitchen several years ago and it was nothing like this undertaking! 
 Right now they are getting ready to tile in front of my office which means I will either have to stay in my office all day or 'walk the plank' across wet tiles!  Sounds like an adventure to me!  But isn't that true of all life?  

The view down the hall
and the view from inside my office!  Might have to do some tightrope walking!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Renovating Lady

So, what have I been working on the for last 3 1/2 months instead of blogging?  This is the way our church, St. Mary Cathedral, looked in January, 2014.

And now, this is how it looks May, 2014!

I didn't do the work, mind you, I was in charge of taking pictures and video. See my link to the progression of the work pictures, check out our website:

but isn't it gorgeous? We look like a real cathedral now!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gray Hair = Tough

  Any time I find myself taking life too seriously, our loving Creator throws a zinger in just to shake me up. Today I found myself worrying about mudslides, earthquakes and any other number of catastrophes I can't possibly do anything about or protect my kids from, when I was confronted by one of our five year old martial art students.
  He was staring up at me as I held a heavy bag which we use for them to practice kicks on. The heavy bag saves my shins from a number of bruises and possible broken bones. I showed him how to throw kicks on the bag and then held it for him to do. While I tower over the bag, his head just barely comes up half way on the bag, so he was looking straight up as we worked. 
  "What's your name?" 
  "Mrs. Simmons."
  "You have gray hair!"
  "Yes, I do."
  Pause, kick twice, "That means you're old!"
  Pause, keep from kicking him back, "Hmmm, I don't think it does."
  Keeps, kicking, "Oh, yeah, it does."
  "Why do you think that?"
  "My mom says old people have gray hair."
  "So does your mom color her..." I stopped myself before I even began that question, it was Lent after all and instead replied  "It means I'm tough, that's what gray hair means!"
  He gave me one of those looks when kids are trying to decide which adult they should believe, their parent or the tall lady who he has seen kick this bag in front of him really hard.  Finally another student broke in rescuing both of us before we either of us got really nasty.
   And I was tough, tough enough to realize God was trying to redirect my thoughts into helping this five year old learn his kicks, and maybe a few manners, instead of spending my time worrying about the things I can't change.  Hopefully I could change this five year's thoughts on us gray haired people, we're a tough bunch you know!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

How Is Lent Going?

   So we're not quite to the middle yet, but how is your Lent going? Many of you might have thought I decided to give up blogging for Lent, but in fact my writing has just gotten a little edged out these days. Lent in our parish is usually taken up with preparing our high school freshmen for Confirmation. It's a wonderful time of year to help them prepare to receive a sacrament because we are surrounded by reminders of our faith on a daily basis during Lent, Stations of the Cross, fasting and abstinence days, prayerful retreats, and more chances for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It's also a time for me to remember to just put everything in the Lord's hands and know things will work out.
  This year, because of our Church renovation, we must move our Confirmation ceremony Mass to our school gym.  This is a slight disappointment to our Confirmation crew because it's just not the same receiving a Sacrament in a gym setting as it is in our Church.  But we've been working on decorating and trying to bring it all together.  Those of you who decorate gyms on a regular basis understand what I mean.
  It's brought me to a place in both my faith and my vocation as a mom to really have to let go of things I cannot control.  I can't control us not being in Church, so we must make the best of being where we are. I also learned this week that my married daughter living almost 2,000 miles away has the flu and I can't be nearby to bring soup or Kleenexes to her either. So in both these things I must "let go and let God".  Truly a Lenten challenge for me.
  I pray that during this Lent you can also "let go and let God."  It's not so much an act of resignation as it has been sharing. I can only do so much as a human being, and somehow God is helping me understand and be patient with that idea.  I pray you can find that too during this Lent.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


   Am I the only one not looking forward to Lent?  I have to admit working in a church office, it seems like Lent happens a lot. I know it's only once a year. Perhaps it's because I am surrounded by well meaning publishers pushing whatever books, leaflets, bulletin blurbs they have available for us to use during Lent, or it's the retreats, workshops, and many, many more suggestions for Lent to make available to parish members that we advertise in our bulletin, hall and website that are making me weary.
  I feel like a complete Catholic failure when by the time I get to Lent I am exhausted with the idea of "doing" Lent!  Shame on me, I know.  I think I stated once before I feel like the 'black sheep' of the office staff because sometimes I don't 'get it' with everything Catholic all the time.
  So forgive my weariness. I am reminded that Jesus, too, grew weary with his Lent, His Passion of the Cross. He fell down three times. I know I fall a lot more, but I always know I can count on the fact that He did it too to help me get back up and face whatever sorrow, hurt or depression that is going on in my life.
  So don't get me wrong with I say I really dislike Lent. Because I LOVE Holy Week. Which may sound weird, but I love the readings, the walking with Jesus through the Garden, admonishing his friends to stay awake and watch out for temptations.
  I don't enjoy fasting on Friday, but I love Good Friday service. There is a song my sister-in-law and I do almost every year on Good Friday. It is called "The Pieta" and is written by Tom Kendzia.  It is Mary's Song of the Crucifixion.  It's hauntingly soft theme is about Mary asking us to come with her and see what our sin has done to her Son, the Lamb of God. It is so beautiful that every year it is hard for me to sing, because as a mom I envision myself standing there in front of my dying son. It reminds me again of Jesus love for us and Mary's love too because she once again says, 'yes' to Jesus. She didn't scream and holler, she accepted what Jesus accepted.  As a mom I cannot imagine not yelling at the soldiers, doing something to make them stop. But Mary knew in her heart that what Jesus was doing, He had to do.  It's a powerful thing to realize she knew He had to die.  What beautiful faith Mary has in her son. And what strength she had to have to wait there, watching, praying, loving her son.
  So maybe this Lent I can keep that in mind and realize that all of Lent is preparing for that moment of Jesus on the Cross and knowing I too have to say 'yes' to the sacrifices, and offerings up we try to do. Because Jesus died for me and for you. And He chose to do it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Community of Prayer

Right now our parish’s prayers have been with a very special family whose son was involved in a very bad car accident the first week of January this year.  It was horrible, slick roads, head injuries and now not knowing if he will ever recover.

As a mom, my heart was just broken for his parents.  Each day drags on, trying to see if he responds to anything, feeding tubes, trach tubes, iv’s everywhere. The mere list of terminology is so overwhelming, all the family can do is pray.  And our parish has joined them in prayers. Not a day goes by someone doesn’t mention his name in the daily Mass petitions.  Families have pitched in to babysit the other youngsters at home, help with homework and school lessons, make and deliver meals to them, visit the hospital, the care center. Recently we’ve had bake sales to help with the ever mounting bills.  And through it all, the parents must sit and wait.

I’ve been through this myself in my family, when my brother and his wife almost lost their baby.  They were five months along in pregnancy with this seventh child, when suddenly contractions began and she was coming. The doctors could not stop labor and gave her very slim chances of surviving, much less survive with no lasting disabilities.

But now at 6 years old, she is a beautiful little girl, learning how to write and do her math problems.  At birth she went in an incubator for four months, wrapped in plastic wrap because even her skin had not yet developed when she was born and her eyes were not ready to open.

Our parish banded together, sending meals to them, my parents babysat the other six kids so Dad could keep working and Mom could be at the hospital as much as possible, talking with their baby girl so she would know she wasn’t alone.  Meals, cleaning house, taking care of the other kids, all helped, but most of all prayer, it was prayer that lifted them up.

Now, our parish is banding together again, in such beautiful ways to help, to listen, but most importantly to pray.  That is what our faith is about, a community of prayer. When kids tell me they like to pray on their own, alone, I tell them that’s all well and good, but they need their community of faith. Our prayers bonding together, helping, lifting each other, knowing we are not alone and that we are surrounded by people who care about us and want to help.  That is what our faith is about, what belonging to a community is about.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Year's Resolution: Looking At the Crosses We Bear

  My newest resolution this year:  More chocolate, less angst!  Self imposed angst that is, some of it we can't help!  "bear a cross without grumbling"  Ack!  Why is this so hard sometimes?!!
  I'm reminded of Cardinal Dolan who talked about our crosses in his book:  “To Whom Shall We Go?

Right now I’m reading the chapter on Embracing the Cross. It couldn’t come at a better time. You know how it seems like even though you are trying to do things right in your life, everything is going wrong?
   Just yesterday I was musing to God, kind of like Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof does. You know, complaining to God, asking why everything has to keep going wrong all the time, why can’t I get a break. Then I sit down to read some of Archbishop Dolan’s book and begin the Cross chapter.

   That darn golden two-by-four as my hubs calls it, hit me in the head when I read this: “Our Lord could not be more forthright in telling us that the Cross has to be part of discipleship. Why are we so surprised then, when it comes?”
   Ouch, he was right. Why am I so surprised when my cross really gets heavy or seems to increase into several crosses. I read further;

Jesus told us it would come. As a matter of fact, when the Cross comes into your life, I propose that it means you’re doing something right. You’re on the right track. You’re actually following our Lord, because He told us the Cross would come.”
   Now I am picking myself up off the floor because I had just been crabbing at God about how He treats His friends and I thought I was a friend. Here Archbishop is telling me, duh, why do you think you HAVE this cross?  Because you ARE friends. “ All of our complaints, our distresses are just different words for the Cross.” Then, lest we think, “Well, it would just be easier if I didn’t follow Christ, if I just kind of forgot I knew about the Church and the sacraments, “ he goes on to say,

                The Cross comes to everybody, whether they are disciples of Christ or not. Everyone experiences the Cross in the simple, ordinary adversities of life.
   So, I guess I had better stay friends with Jesus because at least I know he listens and give me comfort through the words of scripture and the sacraments. I always feel better when I’ve gone to confession and confessed being grumpy with the Lord about my cross!

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Like Beating Your Head Against A Wall

  I truly wonder how God doesn't give up on us. I mean, time after time He must rescue us from our sins, forgive us and bless us. I imagine He must shake His head every time and say, "She still hasn't learned this lesson." sigh... "Let's try this again, Lisa!"
  I say this because sometimes I don't learn my own lessons, the ones I try to teach to myself. For example, every week I must push an open cart carrying our Sunday bulletins in an open carton over to Church to be given out for the weekend. I've had this job now for over six years.  I've carried them over in rain or shine, cold or heat.  For the rain I cover the box with an umbrella or better yet a clean garbage bag.  But there is something about windy days that does not sink into my graying head.
  Windy days are the bane of my existence. I swear! I really dislike them. Now I love the breeze, I love the rising wind before a storm rolls in, the almost gale force breezes off the ocean while sitting on the beach. But a plain ole windy day in Southeast Missouri drives me to insanity.
  Especially when it comes to carting my bulletins to the church.   I think it has something to do with the subtle way mother nature does it. She thinks it's funny to watch me look out the door, see nothing going on weather wise and begin my journey down the ramp from the office building, blithely on my way.  Then I hit the end of the ramp which also ends the protection of the building and all heck breaks lose. If I haven't remembered to secure my kite-like cargo, it's off fluttering away and I'm making a mad dash doing a really good scene that would have worked in an "I Love Lucy" show.  Papers flying everywhere, bulletin inserts coming apart and sticking to the ground.
  Try as I might, I can't possibly keep a hand on the remaining bulletins in the box and catch all the ones in the air or pick up the ones waiting on the ground. 
  And this has not happened just once to me. Today marked the third time I fell for what looked like calm air.  The sun was shining, though the temperature was hovering right at 15 degrees. I only wore my hoodie because I'd been running all over the parish campus all morning and was warm. I escorted my cargo down the ramp and wham, the wind hit it and an instant the air was full of whirling papers.
  Only this time it got really bad. Bulletins began flapping through the air across the street, down the next block. I ran inside and screamed for help from my office mates. They came running and it took us quite a few minutes to retrieve bulletins from down the alley and the block.
  My fingers were beet red from the wind and my fingernails broken from scratching up paper from concrete. I was exhausted!
  All my office companions could do, beside laugh at me was say, "Have you STILL not learned this lesson, Lisa?"
  "No," I shake my head, "but I guess I was spreading the Good News!  And it was Gone Like the Wind!"


Friday, January 17, 2014

Renovating Fun With the Picture Lady

  I don't think I've mentioned the fact that our parish is in the midst of renovating our church. In the last five years, we've added a new building to our school complex, updated our rectory and this year it's time for the Church to get an "old" new look. This is all due to the generosity of our parish members who have donated both time, effort and money and to the wills and bequests of deceased members.  God bless them all!
  Since I began working in the parish office six years ago, I've had the pleasure of learning a lot about construction, change, moving furniture and taking pictures. The picture taking is the best part, I love seeing things in time lapse, what it looked like before and what it looks like now.
  And that fascination has me browsing through our archives and finding old pictures taken inside the church. Wow, this is not the only renovation our 146 year old church has undergone. So rest assured, we are just keeping with our history of changing things. Kind of like I am at home. Dining room? Hmm...we don't have one of those, let's make the living room into a dining room now...
  Anyway, the picture taking, furniture moving etc is not without it's pitfalls. Earlier this week Father and I were taking things down from the church attic, yes we have one of those, actually three of them if you count all the different spaces that exist in different parts of the church. He was standing up in the attic handing down some of our Christmas trees, I was standing on a cabinet taking things from him and dropping them to the floor,stood up and banged my head on the ceiling, not once but twice, then set down what I was carrying, stood up and did it again.
  By this time our wonderful Pastor was in stitches laughing, although he did say God bless you afterwards, so I had that going for me. But it still hurt!
  The next day we were moving cabinet drawers in the sacristy and I stepped back right onto a piece of molding with nails in it. Yep, you guessed it, I felt the slight pinch and my trusty tennis shoe was impaled with a nail. Luckily it didn't really pierce the skin on my foot, but I went directly to the Health Center for a tetanus shot!
    It wouldn't be so funny, but this is like the third injury I've incurred while "helping" in Church since we've started renovating. It began when I tripped over the stairs in the choir loft when they were redoing the flooring there. It's never anything big, I just twisted my back and wore a heating pad for a week, but I'm beginning to get looks from the parish staff every time I go back and forth to Church. Lots of "be careful, Lisa!" follow me out the door. 
  While I am a self proclaimed klutz, after 30 years of teaching martial arts, I at least know how to fall correctly. But that training has yet help me avoid bumping my head, or watching what I step on.
  My husband has threatened to send me to work in a hard hat, overalls and now heavy work boots to keep me safe.
  I personally think my Guardian Angel is taking some much needed time off, but I do wish he'd get back from vacation, or quit taking a moment for himself!  I mean I am working on God's work here, in His house. But I guess anytime you try to do something for the Lord, the devil is right there trying to trip you up, with me it's literal!
  But I am getting some great pictures in the process!  I have even received a nickname from the construction crew, and no it's not Klutz. I open the church door and walk and I hear, "Look out, it's the Picture Lady again!"
  See, at least they haven't witnessed my embarrassing moments so far. I've luckily kept that only in front of Father and my family members.  Which is why I tell my husband I cannot possibly wear the hard hat and overalls in front of guys working inside church. It will be a dead give away that I'm a klutz in need of watching out for and get banned from taking more pictures.
  I mean, there is scaffolding to scale, ladders to climb to get some really awesome shots of church, and the sanctuary...I can't ruin that!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Takashi Nagai: Song for Nagasaki

I was reading one of my fave bloggers who wrote about a favorite person of hers she hopes to emulate this year. While not yet a saint, his story is a beautiful journey of faith and love. I hope you click on this link and follow his story:
The Conversion of Takashi Nagai, And His Vocation of Love