Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 highlight (and lowlight) reel

Thumbing through pictures in my phone today, looking at the past on TimeHop, helping one of my sons go back through the past year to put a Christmas present together, I realized that there are things worth remembering from the past year.  I was also struck by the number of "lasts".  All in all, sometimes Facebook isn't the best venue for all that I want to write. So here we are.

1.  Half a Century for Me!  Technically, this great event took place at the end of 2014, but it was after Christmas, so close enough to include for 2015.  This picture is of my 98-year-old grandfather and the 6 great-grandkids who live in the area.  It's not everyone who has their grandfather at their 50th birthday, and for that I was grateful!  And as "lasts" go, I think this may be the last picture I have of my grandfather, but more on that later. This day was a happy day!

2. The problem with dogs is that they don't live long enough.  We said good-bye to our faithful friend, Sandy, in the first week of January.  She was 11 years old, but the end was quick and unexpected.  Kidney failure coupled with sepsis.  She was such a sweet girl.  She followed me around and slept by my bed. She would put her paws on the bathtub in the morning, until I would rub her head with my wet hands. The silver lining was that she didn't have the slow decline into old age.  (Because we can't live without dogs, Ellie - a Blue Heeler - joined us later in the spring.   She is totally, wholly, committed to my husband.)

3.  Hard Work Pays Off.  That's my son, in blue...wrestling for the state championship of his weight class in his school's division.  At the end of the match, he had accomplished his goal....he stood atop the podium as the state champ!  He had finished third last year, and had set his sights on first place this year. After wrestling practice he would run a few miles or lift weights.  He worked hard, and I was so glad that it ended with a victory!

4.  Abbey Youth Fest - Details in a previous blog post.


5. Lent and Holy Thursday - I said all of this before, too!

6.  I have fought the good fight,  I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.... When I saw my grandfather at Easter, I was stunned at how much he had declined since Christmas.  For the most part, he seemed to not be there....there was one moment when he looked across the room and his eyes caught mine and he said something lucid.  Within a week or so, he had moved to an in-patient hospice facility, and he was there for about a week.  My grandfather was 2 weeks shy of his 99th birthday when he passed away.  He still lived in his own house, but the credit for that goes to the unsung heroes - my parents - especially my dad - who were available at all hours of the day and night to respond when he needed help, to check on him, and to help him with all the little tasks of daily living.

7. School's Out Forever.  We are all done with high school in this house.  Just like that, they are all grown up.  This kid had planned to go to the community college, but things fell into place in such a way that he ended up at the university.  Full time student plus a more-than-full-time job as an equipment manager for the football team. He was admitted "by committee" to the university, but pulled off  Dean's List his first semester.  (Thanks to C. Wills for the picture)

8. Summer Birthdays... My first-born's 20th birthday was July 17.  He celebrated by taking the day off of work, we went out to lunch as a family.  We had a couple of granddaughters visiting from Florida and the younger one turned 10 the following day.  My stepson's mom hosted a party for the birthday princess. Seated next to her in the greenish shirt is my mother-in-law. This was the last picture I have of her.  Sometimes things change way too quickly.

 9.  Not Grand at all... The theater shooting....  Adding a footnote that it reopened a few months ago, after being closed for "remodeling".

10.  Another Eagle....Kid #2 received his Eagle Scout Award in August...he had finished up the requirements in February (about a week before his 18th birthday), but we waited for his friends who finished in the coming months to have the ceremony.  His Eagle project was re-striping the parking lot at our church.

This pretty much put finishing touches on our Boy Scout career - a journey that had begun in the fall of 2001 when my oldest was a Tiger Cub and I was the Tiger Cub leader by default.  What a great trip it was, and what wonderful people we met along the way!  Friends for life - for both my boys and us.

11.  And then fall happened... School starts here in early August.  My son was already hard at work in his equipment manager job...he had to take time off to attend his own Eagle ceremony. About a week later, my 84-year-old mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital for some concern, and while undergoing testing to pinpoint that problem, learned that their were lesions on her liver. Never a good sign.  Further testing revealed colon cancer that had spread to her liver.  She had had no symptoms, and all of that was unrelated to her original complaint. She started on a chemo pill to perhaps buy some time, but no one seemed to be able to hazard a guess to answer the question of "how long"?

Things at school got off to a rocky start for me. (I teach special ed.) I had a full house of kids - 12 - but no paraprofessional.  Ten of the kids were hold-overs from last year, so we all knew the ropes, and they are generally good kids, but it was difficult to keep up with the paperwork and the kids.  I chose the kids.  Some days I had a sub with me, and some days it was just me and the kiddos.  On those days, I did not even get a kid-free lunch, because I had one who needed supervision at lunch.  At some point in September, a teacher assistant came to work in my classroom.  A former teacher, but with some emotional difficulties...she lasted 4 days. We carried on.The paperwork got further behind, and time outside of school to devote to it was limited (so was the time during school, as they kept us more than busy with 'professional development'.).

About six weeks into the year, in late September or early October, an assistant who was worth the wait joined us. And another kid, putting us at our legal limit. Mother-in-law had suffered a heart attack at the hospital, and the blood thinners given to combat that problem had caused her tumor to begin to bleed. Another kid joined our class, and while permission was given to hire another teacher to split my class, it did not move quickly. One October afternoon, I was driving home when the song "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns came on the radio.  It was one of those moments, where you hear just the song you need to hear at the time.  I had been trying so hard to hold everything together, and it was exhausting. I remember where I was on the road when I heard it.  It was good advice....stop holding on, and just be held.

October was the month of hospital visits.  We knew which parking spot in the garage best met our needs.  We had a routine down.  Meanwhile, things for my mother-in-law were not improving. Receiving blood every few days sustained her, but did not stop the bleeding.   My stepson and his family came in from Florida and spent several days with her.  The Lord seemed to be beckoning, but she was not done living here yet.  A visit with her priest helped her to come to peace with the future and she signed papers for hospice care.

Somewhere mid-October, I made a visit to the confessional.  I like to go on a regular basis, and it was time.  My penance, which as prefaced with "now don't laugh at me, but...." probably had more to do with the homily that weekend than the sins I confessed, but it was so very perfect. God is good like that. "Spend 5 minutes in prayer, each of the next 5 days, praying with your palms facing up."  I will tell you that with all of the things going on in my life, it was a powerful thing to kneel in front of the Tabernacle in the mornings after Mass when everyone was gone and speak to the Lord with open hands.  Not only asking Jesus to take the things that I need to let go of, but also to supply the things that I needed.  Powerful.

Towards the end of October, my mother-in-law came home with hospice care.  God bless my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  On the morning of Halloween, we were gathered in her room - my husband and my boys, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece, and a nurse, and we prayed the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary.  It was a graced time.  More hours with her in the evening, she wasn't responding. My equipment manager son was working a rainy football game.  He texted after the game and asked if he should come...we said "yes" and he immediately locked his keys in his truck.  She made it through the night, and my husband headed back the next morning while the boys and I headed to Mass.  As I walked into Mass on All Saints Day, I felt my phone vibrating.  I checked and saw that it was my sister-in-law telling me that a new saint had joined those already in Heaven.  The silver lining was that my mother-in-law never experienced pain from her cancer, and in the end, she was at peace.

Another new student arrived in my room the following week and FINALLY another teacher was hired.  Before Thanksgiving, we divided the classes.  No, I didn't keep the "good" ones, and give her the "bad" ones.  I teach the Math and Science (which is not what I would have chosen) and she teaches ELA and Social Studies.  She is young and a good fit for our group, but not versed in matters of special ed paperwork, so all of that continues to fall mostly to me.  We are struggling to find our rhythm, but eventually it will happen.

We have made it the end of the beginning of 2016. Thanking God for the blessings of 2015.  Asking that we grow in appreciation of His mercy - of every good thing that comes from his heart -  during 2016.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

ice cream on thursdays

I have a friend, a former co-worker, who is older than my mom, who is having some serious health issues, having been diagnosed with  some chronic problems.  She has been asking for months for me to take her to "Charlene's Grave".  Charlene Richard was a little Cajun Girl who lived and died over 50 years ago in a rural community about 45 minutes from us.  She died at age 12 after a short battle with leukemia, and gradually she has developed a reputation as the "L'il Cajun Saint".

So, with school about to start, and time about to become very short, when she suggested that we go "next  week", I googled.  The cemetery where Charlene is buried is adjacent to the church.  The parish has Mass at 6:00 pm on Thursdays, so I told her we would go then.  I figured if we were going to make a road trip of it, we might as well do more than sit in a hot cemetery.  This is Louisiana, and it was July.

We arrived in time for Mass.  I knew that since it was a small, rural community, we would obviously stick out at Mass, but I had hoped to blend in at least a little.  Well, so much for that idea. Including the priest, the musician, and the altar server, there were 7 of us at Mass.  That's the number of completion and perfection in the Bible, though.  Mass was absolutely gorgeous...the musician played and sang her heart out.  The homily felt like it was written just for us (and matched the picture of Abraham and Isaac in the sanctuary).

After Mass, we ventured out to the cemetery.  Charlene's grave is easy to spot, but someone else was praying there, so we meandered around the cemetery for a bit, before stopping to visit with Charlene. Even though it was after 6 in the evening, it was still quite hot, but  the experience was so peaceful. We were alone, and except for nature, there were no sounds.  No vehicles passing on the highway.....just peace.  We paused long enough to write down our petitions and place them in the box on her grave.  We knelt and prayed. Tears may or may not have been shed.

I know that some have reservations about the whole business of asking saints to pray for us, but I believe that if we can ask other broken people in this broken world to pray for us, then surely we should be able to request assistance of someone whom we believe has direct access to the Good Lord.

We made our way back home, - a little more at peace, and a little more hopeful,  but not before stopping at McDonald's for an ice cream sundae.

Fast forwarding to the next Thursday.  It was hotter than hot, but my son and two of his Boy Scout buddies were to meet in a local park for one of the other parents to take their pictures, in anticipation of upcoming Eagle Scout Ceremony.  

A couple of the grandkids were visiting, so I had brought them with me, thinking they would enjoy the park as something different.  They fed the ducks....

...and played on the playground.  But they were tired, and it was hot, and they mostly just wanted to get to their other grandma's house.  

When the photo shoot was done, the boys decided to go eat ice cream (it is summer and it is hot), and after letting the girls play for a little longer, I took them to meet up with their other grandmother. We saw one police unit shortly after leaving the park.  We were nearly broadsided by another that was speeding through a red light.  After I dropped the girls off, I met up with the boys and the photographer dad at the ice cream shop, and we sat for an hour or more, talking and watching as law enforcement vehicles - marked and unmarked - sped by at odd intervals. The 3 boys have known each other since second grade, and all of them are starting college in the fall, and that occupied much of the conversation.  "My mom says there's been a shooting at the Grand," one of them said quietly, reading the text from his phone.  So in the age of instant information, we all turned to our phones...

Yep, sure enough.  But not much information available. Maybe some domestic issue, we assumed.  We visited a while longer before going our separate ways. 

Once we got home, we saw our  hometown on national news. When all the dust settled, three people were dead - people connected only by the fact that they had gone to see Trainwreck on a hot, July night.  The deceased included the shooter - someone from out of state who was "just not right" and two beautiful young ladies, Jillian and Mayci.  Several others were hospitalized.  

But here, we still pray.  Here, we come together to emerge even stronger. Here, we have joy, and nobody from out of town is going to steal our joy on a hot Thursday night.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

so much grace

Something about this time of year makes me want to put down thoughts somewhere and Facebook just isn't the right medium for it.

It's been a time of grace - the last few months.  Lent started in February and I wrote down a prayer or two. "Lord, grant me the wisdom and humility to see myself as you do....Help me to see."

And instead of caving into the temptation to do a million things for Lent, I picked 2 things - getting up when the alarm went off the first time and writing names of friends and family on a calendar and praying/offering the sacrifices of each day for them.  Both of my Lenten observances were works in progress.  The calendar worked when I remembered to look to see who I was praying for.  So many days the conversation went, "Lord, I am offering this Mass for whoever is on my calendar today."  I had even taken a picture of it on my phone, so I would have it.  But then most days for Mass my phone was in the car.  And getting up when the alarm went off...well, that went OK the first week, but then Daylight Savings Time happened, and the struggle was on.

God, for His part did grant the things I asked for.  Oh, indeed I could see, and there were other things that He put in my path that I took advantage of.  God would get an A+ for this Lent.  I was probably about a C-.
One of the graces of Lent was a Catholic Youth Fest held at a seminary a couple of hours from home in late March.  I had heard of it a few years ago, but at the time going just wasn't in the cards.  This year, it was.  Both of my boys and their girlfriends went, and ENJOYED it!

Tell me this is not a grace.  Of all the, bathroom, church tours... this was by far the longest. There were about 2 dozen priests scattered throughout the clearing in the woods, sitting under umbrellas. They said that over 800 people made their way through the confession line that day.  

 And this.  4,500 people  - most of them teens - at Mass with an Archbishop, 2 Bishops, and dozens of priests.  Right before Mass ended, the Archbishop addressed the crowd, asking for those young people who were actively discerning or who would be OPEN to discerning a vocation in religious life,  should the Lord call, to come forward.  There were hundreds who did so.  My youngest turned around and said to me, "Well, that's an awkward question to say "yes" to when your girlfriend is right here!"  Grace.
 Here's my four favorite young people at Mass.  Boys and their girlfriends - one Catholic, one not.  All claimed to have enjoyed the day and asked about returning next year.  Grace.
Young people praying in the Chapel Tent in the woods.  Quiet. Still.  Grace.

Early in the week, there had been a 90% chance of rain forecast for the day of the Festival.  Gradually, it subsided to 50%.  It was a beautiful, warm, spring day, and the rain held off until about 8 pm.  At that time, the events abruptly concluded before the final speaker finished and before the candlelit adoration.  But that was grace, too.

My "take away" was from the last speaker - a seminarian named Joe Bass.  He was leading up to Adoration, and told the teens, "Jesus did not come to bring you a good conduct report.  He didn't come to bring you a sticker and a Dum-Dum.  He came to meet you in your brokenness."

This year, our pastor was available for confessions on the Tuesday evenings of Lent.  Only 30 minutes, but it still beats Saturday afternoons.  I went one of the Tuesday evenings towards the middle of Lent, and I was #4 of 4 penitents, I think.  The Tuesday of Holy Week, he was available for an hour, and there was a much bigger crowd.  It was to this one, that one of my teens accompanied me.  When they were much younger, we used to indulge in ice cream after confession.  Some things don't change, I discovered. But it's grace when your young adults will still set foot in a confessional.  And for the record...that flavor of ice cream...worth every single calorie.  My penance that night was to offer Mass the next day in thanksgiving for God's mercy and to be open to His graces during Holy Week with a "warm heart".

Wednesday was our Tennebrae Service.  I always go, but don't always walk away inspired.  This year, I got a text in the middle of the day from our choir director asking if I was going and if I would read for it.  Being open to whatever graces might be there, I answered back "yes and yes".  I spent the day at our Special Olympics Track meet and it was hot and very sunny.  I was spent by the time the evening rolled around, but the music was lovely - you could just sit back, close your eyes, and listen, the Psalms, all came together.

Holy Thursday is my favorite day of the Liturgical Year, I think, and for weeks, I had contemplated taking the day off.  At some point, I got an email from one of my friends during Lent inviting me to the Passion Play on Thursday morning at her son's school, and I figured that was a sign to take the day off.  So I did.

The Senior Class put on the play, and it was well-done and moving.  My youngest son, who had gone to school with some of these kids in elementary and middle school also took the day off and came with me. Grace.

The next stop of the day was the Chrism Mass.  I've been a few times before, and love it.  My regular church lady friend couldn't come, so I invited my sister-in-law.  I sensed that she wasn't sure about coming, because she had a lot to do that day, but she did.  The priests of the diocese come to this Mass to renew their promises as a priest and also to receive the blessed oils (thus the name Chrism Mass) for use in their ministries and parishes.  As you see row after row of priests file into the pews, you are struck by the diversity of the priesthood.  There are fat and skinny, tall and short, old and young.  Priests in shiny loafers and priests in worn black sneakers.  Black, white, Indian, and Asian.  Priests who are bald and even a priest with a pony tail.  And then there is a deep appreciation for all of them - whether they are long-winded or short and sweet, arrogant or humble, simple or extravagant, funny or serious, - a deep appreciation for their "yes". Grace.

I have no pictures of the Chrism Mass; it would just not be appropriate to pull out a camera or an iphone and start clicking.  And it probably wouldn't capture it anyway...the sights, the music that is right next to heaven, the incense. When all was said and done, my sister-in-law turned to me and says, "We're coming EVERY year!"  Grace.

Thursday evening is the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and if I could only go to one Mass a year, this would be it!  I have no pictures of it, either.  It is a simple affair at our parish.  No feet are washed.  Adoration only continues for an hour after Mass.  But the Eucharistic procession touches me every year.  Our priest carefully wraps his vestment around the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament, as a mother would wrap up a child going out into the cold, holds it close to him and slowly processes around the inside of the church, up and down each side.  It gets me every time - Jesus walking among us.  It is grace.  And the period of passes way too quickly, but it is a lovely, quiet time to reflect on Lent that is now over and to look forward to the events of Good Friday and beyond.  Grace.

There was a side note to my grace this year.  All during Lent, and even before, I have struggled with getting to daily Mass on time.  For the past few years, I have driven my kids to the bus stop, waited for the bus, and then proceeded to Mass, and the times worked out perfectly - I was seldom late.  Now my remaining high schooler drives himself most days, and the urgency to get out of the house is not the same.  I have brought the struggle to confession, once, twice, maybe more.  It has been way harder than it needs to be.  But the struggle is real, as they say.  I know that I checked the time for the Chrism Mass, and relayed the time to my sister-in-law.  I "knew" it was at 10:00, and we were there nearly an hour early.  10:00 rolled around, and things didn't seem to be starting.  Oops, it was 10:30.  As I sat there waiting, it occurred to me that God had indeed found a way to get those minutes back that I had been late.  Grace!

That would be funny enough, except that I repeated the scenario almost exactly for the evening Mass.  I had copied and pasted the Mass schedule from last year's (or the year before's) altar server schedule and missed the fact that Mass was at 6:30 and not 6:00.  I felt a little bad for my altar servers who were there an hour early, but they (and their parents) were good about it.  Grace. And God's sense of humor.

May God's grace find you in the celebrations yet to come as part of the Triduum and the Easter season. Look for Him with a warm heart and an open mind.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

creating a space

Often in the mornings, I stick around after Mass.  There is really no point in going back home (and leaving again in 5 minutes), and I don't want to be too early for work.  So I soak in 15 or 20 or 25 minutes of quiet time and life is good.  The priest finishes up what he needs to do to get ready for the next Mass, and then he turns off the lights - except for the one where I hang out - locks the doors, and leaves me in peace.

Sometimes I drift over the alcove where the Blessed Mother's statue is.  We talk about mom things or husbands.  There are candles in her alcove, and it bothers me when there are some that are burnt out, so I will take those out and replace them with fresh ones and then all seems right in the world.  Occasionally, I come across one which has started to burn and then fizzled.  I will indulge my inner pyro and relight it...sometimes it takes a little bit of persistence, but I usually get it.  Prayers go along with those burning candles, so I figure maybe those prayers needed to be stretched out for a while longer and I'll add my prayers for whatever intention they were lit for.

A couple of weeks back, though, I came upon a candle that was a challenge.  It was filled to the very top with wax, and the wick didn't have a chance.  It reminded me of us sometimes.  We are so filled with all kinds of useful and good things - husbands, children, work, church activities - that we don't have a chance.  The candle had every thing it needed in order to be a fully-functioning candle (wax and a wick), it was just too full.  During this season of Advent - or what remains of it - give yourself some space, preferably a quiet space and see if that doesn't help your light shine more brightly in the darkness.

Related side note:  One of our church people had a stroke last year about this time and now lives in a nursing home nearby, but is still pretty functional.  At Bible study a few weeks ago, he had asked me if I'd give him a ride to the church gumbo which was last Sunday after the 10:30 Mass.  I'd agreed.  I called him on Saturday to see what time he wanted to be picked up (I'm thinking 10:30...11:00.)  "Well I want to go to 8:30 Mass," he said, "so you can pick me up at 7:30." I must have stuttered a little bit, and I'd already left a voicemail  suggesting 10:30 or 11, but I agreed to 7:30.  He called me back a few hours later and left a voicemail saying 11:00 would be fine, and after having had some time to think about it, I called him back and told him I would be there at 7:30.

He was waiting with his walker outside the facility the next morning when I got there (in the vicinity of 7:30).  He showed me how it folded up, I threw it in the back, and we were off.  There was only one other person in the church when we got there, and the air conditioning must have been set on "morgue", but in an otherwise non-stop, crazy weekend, it was wonderful to have that quiet space before Mass started, and I appreciated that God had arranged for me to have it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ending another chapter

Hasn't been too many months ago since we passed this milestone!
And then we were on to the next step.  We all agreed that a 4-year college wasn't the best step.  He loves history and art, but school - not so much.  He had signed up for Aviation Maintenance on the Community College website (because someone told him it might be fun?)  Then he thought about becoming an Electrician.  My ADHD son around electricity didn't sound like the best career path, so we suggested Machine Tools.  He seems to have an eye for seeing details that others don't.

One day, shortly after graduation we were shopping at one of those large warehouse chains when we ran into our Cubmaster from long ago, along with his wife and youngest son.  I knew that he worked for a company that employed machinists, so I told him of the decision we were looking at:  Electrician vs Machinist.  With a little encouragement from his wife. ;-), Mr. P offered to take the graduate to work with him one day and show him around.  Later in the week, they did just that, and the boy returned home certain of what he wanted to do...Machine Tools, it was!  He scheduled his classes that afternoon on the Community College website. He even texted his schedule to Mr. P, who had said they might be able to find something for him to do part time at his company.

All was well until about 3 weeks ago, when the community college called and said that his classes wouldn't start until the spring.  Now what?  Well, look for work, I suppose.  Once again he contacted Mr. P, but he didn't hear anything in reply.  Then about a week ago, the community college called again and said he could reschedule his classes.  Oh, and by the way tuition was due.  So we took care of that.  This kid took the money out of his savings and checking accounts to pay the tuition because he said he knew he'd do better if it was his money.

Then Sunday, Mr. P's wife called me.  "P's boss is trying to get in touch with B....make sure he calls him," she said.  He called yesterday and scheduled the interview for today.  "I think I got the job," he texted me.  It's a full time job, starting Monday, if he passes his physical.  "On the job training for this kind of job is better than school," he says.  A part of us is programmed to say, "You HAVE to go to school."  But he is going to see about a tuition refund tomorrow.

He is excited and looking forward to this new chapter.  I am, too.  That's what we do as parents...raise productive members of society.  But I suppose, though, this is kind of a signal that childhood and all that entailed is wrapping up real fast. I'm a little sad about that.  But glad that we are moving forward.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

remember me?

It's been a million years or six months since I last posted anything here.  Sometimes I think about it, but then I get half way through a post or don't start it at all.  I don't know what happened from the days of thinking, "Oh, I can blog about this."  I suspect part of it is that my kids turned into real people.  More or less.

But  there are a couple of  things from earlier in the year that I want to write down just so I remember them. Remembering is getting harder and harder, it seems.  I think its because my brain is out of available memory space and there is a constant assault of information  That's what I'm going with, anyway.

I am spending some wonderful, valuable, golden time with my BFF.  I've been here's been three years -almost exactly to the day - since I was here.  But tomorrow I head home.

So let me download a couple of things from my memory...good things.

In 2013, towards the end of wrestling season, one of my sons' coaches collapsed during practice and died right there - on the mat.  It was sudden, it wasn't pretty, and it was one of those parts of life you wish you could shield your kids from, but can't. forward a year to the 2014 wrestling season.  Our high school hosts a tournament every January, and this year it was renamed in honor of the coach who had passed away.  Many of his family members were in attendance.

As I washed my hands in the restroom - of all places - a woman that I had never met before, introduced herself to me as the sister of the late coach.  She said, "I just want you to know, I'm ______'s sister, and he always had such positive things to say about your sons.  And I've heard other coaches say the same thing, too."  We do our best raising our children, but sometimes it really is nice to hear something out of the blue so positive.

I hate it when people post on Facebook about how fabulously, wonderfully awesome their amazing honor roll, principal's list kids are, so I refrained from splashing that on Facebook for all the world to see.  I think sometimes those people just want more people to say how awesome their kids are and it's because their parents are so great, of course.  But it's here so I won't forget it.

I had another proud mom moment in April.  There was an evening meeting for my son's internship program after school one day.  There is a kid who lives in a nearby subdivision...his parents work nights...he asked for a ride.  So we picked him up - not a total stranger, he has run cross country with my boys, rides their bus, etc.  On the way home, my child wanted to stop at Chick-Fil-A.  I was not interested in eating  there(started Weight Watchers a month or so earlier), but I stopped so he could get something.  I stayed in the car and let them go in.

Our ride-along buddy didn't have any money, and had never even been to Chick-Fil-A before.  I was proud of my child, for doing the right thing (without me nudging him along) and buying a sandwich for his friend.  After they got in the car, his friend said to my son, "I owe you, man."  "Nah, that's OK...just pay it forward some day."  It was another proud mom moment.

I listened to the 2 of them talk in the back seat on the way home.  My boys and this young man catch the bus at 6 am, which is way too early, in my opinion.  BUT, this kid wakes up even earlier and walks his sister - who goes to a different high school even further from home - to the bus stop at 5:30 because he does not want her to wait alone at that hour.  It kind of gives you a little bit of faith in humanity that there are still responsible, selfless, giving people in the world.

Now I shall crawl back into blog oblivion...or maybe I'll come back and share my visit with my BFF.  Just depends on what's happening in the world (my world).  Tomorrow will be a travel day, and then the next day begins inservice days for school.  RIP summer.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

today's faves

Inspiration for this post goes to Meg at Held By His Pierced Hands.  Her blog should really be in my sidebar....I just haven't updated recently.  I love, love, love her writing and thoughts.  In a recent post, she shared some of her favorites after someone had asked what her favorite parable was.

And since I seem to lack for ideas of my own lately, here goes.....

Favorite Parable:  The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:  11-32)  I think it is the story of most of us.  I also remember reading it during our First Confession Ceremony/Celebration/Liturgy all those years ago in third grade.

Favorite Image of Jesus:  The Good Shepherd  The fact that He leaves the 99 and goes off in search of the one lost sheep.  So, not only does He welcome us back when we come to our senses, but He goes out, searches for us, and carries us back.  See Matthew 18:12-13.

Favorite Bible Verse:  I'm pretty sure that can't be narrowed down to just one.  Tops on the list:  Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)  Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. (James 4:8)  Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.  (Mark 9:24).

Favorite Bible Study: Anything by Jeff Cavins and the folks at the Great Adventure.  I have studied James, the Bible Timeline, Revelations, Acts, and Matthew (twice).  Again it is difficult to pick a favorite, but James was short and had a great deal of practical application.

Favorite Liturgy:  This is an easy one....Holy Thursday...the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  It is beautiful.   It begins with an open, empty Tabernacle.  Even without the customary washing of the feet - an option that our pastor chooses not to exercise - there is so much symbolism and richness.  It is a Mass that doesn't least not right then.  It concludes with Adoration, at the end of which the priest removes the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle, leaving it empty as it was at the beginning of Mass.   A bonus on Holy Thursday is the Chrism Mass, which is held early in the day at the Cathedral.  Simply beautiful.

Favorite Prayer:  This would have to be the Prayer of St. Francis...Lord make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred..... I don't know why it's my favorite.  I'm pretty sure I don't know it by heart in its entirety,  nor do I pray it regularly.  Maybe it's the structure, the poetic nature, or just the simplicity, and the image of what we should all be.

Favorite Sacrament:  Of course, the Eucharist is the hands down (or hands-out) winner.  What is not to love?  Our God making Himself present to us - condescending to us - to be consumed in order that He can consume us.  But a really close second would have to be Reconciliation/Confession/Penance.  It is that one-on-one with Jesus.  That combination of nervousness and anticipation.  The grace, the encouragement, the warmth, the fresh start.  It is so worth it.  Every single time.

Favorite Penance:  I have had many that are thought-provoking and/or helpful, and my current priest never assigns the "say 3 Hail Marys" variety.  My favorite, though, "Go and bask in the silence and let Jesus speak to you."

Favorite Catholic Musician:  That would be Matt Maher.  Love, love, love.  And my favorite of his songs, "Deliver Me."  Loosely based on the Litany of Humility.

Favorite Catholic Devotionals:  This awesome series.  There is something for each day of the year that  matches up with the Scripture readings for the day.  Things that make you think, but presented so that normal people can understand.  In Conversation With God.  I got most of my copies from eBay.

Favorite "Catholic" thing to do:  Adoration.  This is the best thing ever.  Whether the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance or simply present in the Tabernacle of whatever random Catholic Church you find yourself at.  What do you do when you go?  You can just sit in the Presence.  You can kneel.  You can kneel then sit.  You can pray prayers you know.  You can just sit and gaze.  You can tell God everything that is on your mind.  You can sit and listen to God whisper in your ear.  You can read.  You can write (one of my favorite things to do).  You can ask for forgiveness.  You can ask for wisdom.  You can ask for help.  You can surrender. You can praise Him.  You can thank Him.  You can do all of the above.  It is amazing the answers that come.  The peace that comes.  Amazing.

Favorite Lenten Practice:  The best Lenten "penance" ever was daily Mass.  I started part way through Lent one year, and committed to 3 days a week (because our parish had Mass at 6:30 am 3 days a week and I could go and make it to work at the required 7:05).  This was absolutely the best thing ever.  I was hooked long before Lent was over and felt like someone had been keeping this little treasure a secret.  It's not a penance.  It's a gift.  And it's certainly not just for Lent.

And that, boys and girls, are my favorites for now.  I'm sure there are more that I could add....and maybe I will....