Sunday, October 31, 2010

our lady of the bayou

10-1-11 - Updating to Add:  On October 29, 2011, there will again be a gathering in Theriot.  Holy Mass will begin at 2 p.m. to be followed by a 5-decade Rosary. 

Set out on an adventure yesterday.  A pilgrimage of sorts.  My sister-in-law and three friends along for the ride.

In a little place on the bayou, a few hours from where I live, the Blessed Mother appears to Claire -Rose.  Apparently, Claire Rose and the Blessed Mother go WAY back; she's been appearing to her for years.  But for the past many years, the last Saturday of every month has been a "public" apparition.  Not that anyone else can see Our Lady, but there is a message for the public.  This is within 200 miles of my home, yet the first time I ever heard about it was last month.  As luck would have it, today was the last public apparition.  So we went.

The morning started off with not being able to find my keys.  This is a favorite trick of Satan's at my house, I believe.  After several minutes of fruitless searching, I grabbed the extra set from the safe, and was on my way.

I should say - the morning started off with hubby cooking me breakfast.  Today was our 17th anniversary, and although we don't usually make a big deal out of the day, I felt more than a little guilty for not spending it with him.  But it's not every day that Mary is this close.

After eating lunch at the Olive Garden (yum), we went on the location of the apparition.

Draw bridge along the way.  Nothing quite like a see-through road.  
Claire Rose's house.  It was raised after being flooded with nearly 5 feet
of water after Hurricane Rita.  They lost "nearly everything" . 
Most of the activity took place under the house.

We got there in time to stake out a place with our chairs and to look around.

Confessions were heard by a couple of holy priests.
Well of healing water.  But not for drinking.
Roadside shrine to Our Lady of the Bayou.
The weather and surroundings were beautiful.

The cross was erected as a place for people to pray for holy priests.  It is open at any time, day or night, and everyone is welcome. 

There were quite a few images of the Mother of God.  

After a while, the children were asked to gather at the foot of the cross and given roses to bring.  There, Claire Rose prayed with them.  She said that the Blessed Mother has said that three Hail Mary's prayed daily from the heart of a child are enough to save the soul of a priest.  After they prayed three Hail Mary's, she gave the children a message from Our Lady.  She reminded them of her love for them, and told them to remember that their bodies are living tabernacles. 

Claire Rose praying with the children.
Stations of the Cross around THE Cross. 
After this, we gathered back under the house and prayed a chaplet for priests. There were probably 300-500 people in attendance.  It was also noteworthy that there was nothing for sale.  Not food, nor drink, nor religious articles.  This was not a money-making endeavor.

Then we settled in to pray all 20 decades of the Rosary.  For each decade there was a meditation relating to holy Priests.  There were decades led in Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and another language which I couldn't guess during one set of mysteries.  This took quite a while (praying 20 decades) and it was during that time that Our Lady was appearing to Claire Rose and 2 others.  
After the Rosary, they shared the messages that Our Lady had given them.  Again, this took quite a while. It was all a little overwhelming.   All three began by describing what she was wearing, and their descriptions were some what different.  However, there were several things that ran through all three:  
  • she loves us
  • we need to pray
  • we need to repent; convert; make use of the sacrament of mercy
  • gratitude to her priest sons
  • gratitude to those religious, her "little doves" who wear their habits
  • she wants us to pray for holy priests, and she wants us to gather on the last Saturday of each month in small groups to do this
  • each person who was there was blessed with an "angel of protection" which would go with us always and everywhere
  • mention of a "new springtime" or a "new Pentecost"
One also mentioned a special gift of grace unique to each soul for those who were there.

After that, Mass was quickly celebrated.  The website had given the impression that Mass would begin at 2:00, but it was nearly 6:00, and we were feeling a combination of overwhelmed and tired by this point.  Daylight was fading fast, and there didn't appear to be much in the way of outdoor lighting.  Mass is always wonderful, and we were all grateful that the homily was meaningful, thoughtful, and brief.

10-1-11 Editing to Add:  Mass was delayed because the priest celebrating it had a wedding at 2:00 an hour away.  Claire Rose notes that it was God's schedule and plan - not ours.  Very true.  She said that the priest (and others) saw the "miracle of the sun" when he was consecrating the Eucharist. 

Holy Communion was distributed at the foot of the Cross.  There was something very powerful about receiving Jesus there.

We were sent on our way, as the sun was setting over the bayou.  We stopped for a bite to eat at the first hint of civilization.  It was much later than we expected when we arrived home.  My dear husband was so good about it.  Perhaps another gift given to me.  And I found my keys after some searching.  Something told me that they were in my bedroom, and I found them there - between my jewelry box and the window - knocked there by the cat.

The ride home was lively - five women in a Suburban trying to process the events of the day.  We joked about the five extra angels who were now riding with us, but felt comforted by their presence and appreciative of the gift. 

In the end, it's all about Love.  A Father who sent His Son because He loves us.  The Son who gave us His mother, because He loves us.  And a Mother who relentlessly tries to lead us to her Son because she loves us. 


Friday, October 29, 2010

a few quick things

Quick takes?  Not sure it's within my capabilities.  But I'll give it a whirl...

Kittens.... Hubby called me at work on Tuesday to tell me that we had a little kitten family at our house.  Mom is a stray that showed up during the summer - pregnant as a whale.  Those babies didn't survive.  Now we had three of a new litter. 

They had tail issues.  One of the orange ones had no tail and the calico had a short tail.

By Wednesday evening there was no sign of the calico or the no-tail kitty.  Not sure what got 'em, but apparently it's one of those "circle of life" things.  We snatched up the remaining kitten before he became a tasty snack, and "Pumpkin" is now living with my niece. 

Prayers.  On Monday, my SIL found out that her BFF had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  We pray the "Seven Sorrows Rosary" on some Tuesdays.  We weren't planning on meeting this Tuesday, but SIL scheduled an "Emergency Rosary".  There was just stuff to pray for.  Cancer patients.  My BFF's flight to Bolivia.  My mom's test results.

Then, more bad news on Tuesday.  BIL is the head football coach of a  very competitive HS team.  It was almost a given that they would be in the running for the state championship again this year.  If you look up integrity, you will see his picture next to the definition.  But during a check of records, they discovered that a transfer student had falsified his records and was actually ineligible.  He was a third string player - only played in the games that they won by a mile.  But now those four games would be forfeited.  Along with the high seed in the state play-off brackets.   Now they MUST win their last two games.  At last report, they were winning 49-0 at half-time.

We prayed on Tuesday evening.  We said the Seven Sorrows Rosary again tonight before the game.  Some of the meditations were SO just what was needed.  Nothing you can do...except put it in God's hands.  Forgive others.  Accept suffering inflicted upon us by others.  Offer it.

Prayer is about changing those who pray rather than trying to convince God to do things our way.

School.  Our teachers are being killed with paperwork.  Almost literally.  One already has her sabbatical scheduled.   One went to the hospital yesterday with chest pains. The doctor of another, told her she needed to remove stress from her life.  Another has not been able to keep food down for weeks.  Another threatens almost daily to leave - with increasing desperation.  They are drowning.  But no one is throwing out any life preservers.  There is the sense that no one cares.

I have a solution:  The central office is filled with over-priced people who create more paperwork for us to do, but do little to help improve the education of the little people in our classrooms.  Take those people and all their knowledge and send them to the "academically unacceptable" schools in our system.  Put all that experience to work!  Then take the money saved and hire teacher assistants to give some support to those who are hanging on by a thread.  It could be a win-win-win-win situation.  The kids would win.  The failing schools would win.  The teachers could breathe again.  Jobs would be created.  Paperwork would be reduced.

IEP blues.  On Monday, my supervisor came buzzing in all in a tizzy.  We haven't seen her for almost a month.  Something about "the codes have to match"...."the codes have to match" (by Wednesday).  I hated to ask the stupid question - "what codes?"   I hope they matched.  They don't even pretend anymore that we're supposed to educate kids.  Just as long as the paperwork is all in order and the freakin' codes match!  It's all about money.  It should be about kids.

Oh yeah - IEPs.  I have three meetings scheduled for parent-teacher conference day.  I tried desperately Wednesday to get a head start on them.  They take a while to type.  I tried to create a new one and failed.  After I had all kinds of demographic info entered, it gave me some kind of error message.  I figured out what I was doing wrong.  I did it right.  Saved.  Another message saying that it had timed out.  It shouldn't have.  I called the program a "Stupid Piece of Trash". 

Thursday I tried again.  I told Jesus we were going to have to do this together.  I enlisted St. Michael's help against the evil IEP program.  My kids went to an assembly about being drug free, and I sat down to write an IEP.  It went so smoothly, it was unbelievable.  Jesus is with us even when we are writing IEPs.  I (we) finished one and started another.

Nope, can't do "quick takes".  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

how-to on humility and compassion

Mass this morning at a parish that I sometimes visit.  The priest was a retired monsignor filling in for the vacationing pastor.  He recently turned 80, I think, and I very much enjoy his Masses.  You're never quite sure what you're going to get for a homily - some of them are kind of ADD-like, but always good.  He tells it like it is.

Today he starts off by saying that he remembered yesterday evening, that he had forgotten to tell them something yesterday.  "We talk a lot about humility and compassion," he says, "but how do we get there?  How do we dispose ourselves to receive those graces?" 

First of all - prayer and meditation.  We don't do enough of that, he says.  Especially prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Secondly - the sacraments. 

Confession.  "We (priests) used to put in long hours in the confesional, but now it's difficult to find a priest in the confessional.  But people don't sin any more.  Or at least they don't think that they do.  That's a road to humility," he says.  "'Bless me Father.... I've been greedy, selfish, arrogant....'  We need to go frequently..monthly is good.  Or if not monthly, then every two months.  But certainly no less than every three months." 

The Eucharist...Jesus humbled himself for us out of compassion.  We are called to imitate Him as we receive be more like Him....

Just in case you were wondering....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a few more thoughts on the gospel

More thoughts on today's Gospel... When the good Monsignor reads it, it is with such expression - you almost feel like you are there. What's running through my head, as he reads....

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.  Is that me?  Sometimes I think I'm doing a pretty good job of things...I don't despise everyone else... but I know some people who seem to despise most other people... but I don't...does that make me the Pharisee?   

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collectorThe religiously devout and the outcast.  Which am I?  I go to Mass.  I pray. Am I like the Pharisee?

"The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this pray to himself (so really, he's just talking to himself?), 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.  Yeah, sometimes my 'prayers' sound a little like that, if I'm honest.  I do the right thing most of the time, Lord.    And I've heard from others so many times, "Well, at least I don't cheat on my wife, I don't steal, and I haven't killed anyone.  Some people  __________.  At least I never did/don't do that!  I'm basically a good person.  I don't know why I need to go to confession when the priest is a sinner, too."

I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'  Yep, nailed me there.  I go to Mass nearly every day.  I say the Rosary.  I support the church.  I help other people.  I schedule the altar servers.  I don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent.  I'm a Eucharistic Minister (to be).  I'm doing pretty darn good, aren't I Lord?  Better than a lot of people....

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed,  'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'  Whoa - how often does that happen in my life?  On occasion, to be sure.  There have been times, when I catch a glimpse of things as God sees them, and have been overcome with a sense of shame and a certain knowledge of my need for God's mercy.   Once it happened when I was walking across the parking lot at school - of all places.  Other times in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  But other times, I know that I'm a sinner, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not as bad as everyone else.  I mean, I know other people have more stuff that needs confessing than *I* do.  And some of them haven't been in y.e.a.r.s   There's that Pharisee again...or the evil one doing his best to keep me from Confession.  Comparing myself to other people when I should be comparing myself to God and His ways.

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."  Lord, You know I'm trying.  That's one reason I go to confession.  The need to humble myself.  When I say those things aloud - whatever they may be, however they may compare to those around me - when I admit those things to another human, I see how I compare to You, Lord.  I know that I offend He who is all good.  And I am sorry.  More than anything, I don't want to do it again.  But, Lord, without You, I'm not going to make it.  I need You.  O God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

more miscellaneous

It's been a good week.  Busy, but not too busy.  Just nothing very interesting to blog about.

School.  Mass.  Prayer. Laundry.  A work-out here and there.  Emails.  Altar serving replacements. 

Did the work-out thing this morning.  I joined an exercise facility about a year ago.  Haven't seen a whole lot of change (for the better) in weight or appearance, but I can get up the stairs at the library without feeling like I hiked up Mt. Everest.  So perhaps the change has been on the inside.  Yeah, that's it!  I have a check-up next week.  Curious to see if it's affected my blood pressure any.  There is a computerized "chip" that you can insert in each machine to customize your workout.  At the end of the workout, you put the chip in a computer and on each muscle group it shows a colored dot that tells you how you did.  Green is good.  Today all my dots were green.  That very rarely happens.  Go me!

My BFF is going to Bolivia next week for two weeks.  Say a prayer that no mountains jump in front of her plane and that she doesn't encounter any terrorists in need of conversion.  She has traveled many places in this world, but I sense apprehension this time. 

I inquired about how things are going for my "breakfast club".  "Doing well," was the reply.  I'm glad.

Mass.  Mass is always, always good.  Though sometimes long, repetitious homilies put a damper on it.  But I don't run into those too often.  :-)  Thursday the Gospel (Luke 12) was about how Jesus came to bring division, not peace.  This sounds a little out of whack.  Father explained that the peace that Jesus came to bring can not exist apart from truth and love.  That explains it a little, I guess.  I saw another explanation that the people in Luke's time very often suffered alienation from their families as a result of believing in Jesus. 

Friday the Gospel (also from Luke 12) was about "interpreting the signs of the present time".  The homily said that we need to interpret the signs of our times.  We have grown so much in technology and science, but grown so little in the spiritual realm.  He said that he hadn't slept much the night before because of "commotion at the car wash".  There is a small car wash across the street from the church and apparently law enforcement was called for some reason.  And he'd heard what sounded like 4 gun shots a little further away.  Yeah, we're in a good area.  But that the need for conversion doesn't start in the world around us, it starts with us.  Each of us is in need of conversion. 

We went to Mass this evening.  My boys were serving.  It was a 4 minute homily.  The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds, it does not rest until it reaches its goal... (Sirach 35).  ...whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.  (Luke 18:14)  God hears the prayers of the lowly; they pierce His heart of mercy.  If we are honest, we will have to admit that we are more like the Pharisee than the tax collector.  But the only thing that we truly have that is all ours that we can offer to God is our sinfulness and brokenness.  Anything else we have comes from God.  Most people "believe" in God, he says.  But many people believe that they don't need God.  They can make it on their own.  It is when we realize how dependent we are on God, that we can pray like the tax collector, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." 

At the end of Mass, Father did ask the folks to be aware of how much fragrance they are using "to be pleasing to the Lord."  That he (and others) suffer from asthma, and that on occasion, someone smelling a little "too good" had triggered an asthma attack. 

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

saint and saints in the making?

Rickey Jackson, who played for the New Orleans Saints in the 1980's as part of the "Dome Patrol" defense and who was recently inducted into the Football Hall of Fame was at my favorite Walgreens on Thursday.  So we stopped in.  Had some items autographed and posed for a few pictures.  I blacked out most of the Walgreens cosmetic department in this one: 

It's been a rather slow week as far as stuff to blog about, I suppose.  School is still school, and life at home is pretty busy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

random ramblings

It's been a slow few days for blog traffic and blog ideas.   Oh well.

My teenage sons have discovered a new freedom in the past week.  We live on a highway.  Riding bikes in the neighborhood has not been part of their growing up experience.  No neighborhood, for one thing.  But they do have bikes.  For riding in the driveway, I suppose.  My 15 year old had a brain flash and wanted to know if he could ride his bike "to the gas station".  It's about a half mile away.  It's just the fact that we live on a highway.  But dad gave the OK.  So he pulled his bike out of the shed and aired up the tires.  I would keep them home forever  - where it is safe.  From the gas station (convenience store), he's thought of all kinds of destinations - his high school (about two miles), the soccer fields down the road, the cemetery where his grandfather is buried, and probably places I don't ever want to know about.  Can you say FREEDOM??  Unfortunately, he does not have a whole lot of bike riding skills and knowledge about traffic.  Not to mention the ADD brain that just jumps from one thing to another.  Scary to think he could get a driver's license (to drive a car) in less than a year...  I am SO not ready for this.

Wednesday I made a visit to the Adoration chapel.  It had been a while and it was just time.  It was a good visit, though I don't think I made any profound discoveries or realizations.  Friday morning my phone rang at school.  I didn't answer it; it was an "unknown" number, but I listenend to the voice mail later.  Someone was callling to ask me to substitute for the 6 a.m holy hour on Sunday.  I thought about it.  6 a.m. is early, but not like 3 a.m. or anything.  Friday evening after I got home, I called back.  I figured if the lady hadn't found anyone else by that point, it was God saying that He wanted to continue our conversation.  Guess where I was this morning at  6 a.m?  It felt good to be there and to connect.  While I was there, a nun stopped in.  She walked with a cane.  But that didn't stop her from genuflecting on both knees before the King of the Universe.  What a witness!

After a long weekend, I posted as a Facebook status a question wondering if teenage boys get stupider as they get older.  It was pretty much unanimous.  Some went so far as to suggest that it is a "blood flow thing".  There is only enough blood for one "brain" at a time...  Sigh.

Mass was wonderful.  Our strength comes from the Lord - the maker of Heaven and Earth.  That was my "theme song" at the end of last year and the responsorial psalm this weekend.  Father asked, by way of opening his homily, if our strength really does come from the Lord.  I'm thinking I've got that working pretty well.  I know I didn't make it through alone.  Then he went on to develop it.  Faith is surrender - surrender to what God wants for us.  When we pray, it often appears that God doesn't answer.  And He doesn't - at least not in the way that we want.  But He doesn't send us what we want; rather what we NEED.  Whatever we offer to God in prayer is always imperfect, because we are not God.  But God takes what we offer Him, perfects it, and gives it back to us so that we might glorify Him.  Still working on the whole surrender thing.  I've made progress, but it is very much a work in progress.

Wal Mart ticked me off today.  But perhaps that deserves a whole post of its own....

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ode to the bre'fas' club

Every once in a while a student or a group of students comes along that you have to give a nickname to so that you don't find yourself calling them what you REALLY want to call them.  I had a "Sweet Pea" several years back - he was a 17-year old 8th grader with tattoos on both forearms.  And the past few years or so, I've had the "Breakfast Club".   

I had 3 of them as sixth graders.  They kept me on my toes.  As seventh graders, they really came into their own.  They picked up a couple of extra members and really just fed off of each other's misbehavior and poor choices.  It was the "perfect storm" of unmotivated, disruptive, apathetic kids.  As far as teachers - they misbehaved in your class if they liked you and they surely misbehaved if they didn't like you.  I had them for first block last year, and sometimes it was a very long period. 

The name "Breakfast Club" came about because I had them first thing in the morning, and sometimes - especially at the end of the year - I bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and fed them breakfast before we attempted anything else.  (Notice the word - attempted.)  Lower expectations and immediate reinforcement were two of the tools in my survival toolbox.  Sometimes they worked, other times....

Somewhere towards the end of last year, we kind of bonded.  They had worn thin just about everyone's patience at school.   Yet in some ways they became the scapegoats, the ones who got absolutely no breaks, and the ones who got fussed at for things that other did without a second glance.  This is what happens when you make a bad name for yourself.  Yet, no matter how "bad" they were, they were still people. 

Sometimes my focus was just to treat them with dignity and respect.  Even though sometimes (often times) it was a real stretch, because they wore my patience and goodwill thin a lot of days.  Sometimes it's like that with us and God.  I'm sure I wear His patience and goodwill thin a lot of days.  Yet He is always there, always willing to give me a fresh start, respectful of the dignity that is part of being a child of God. 

At the beginning of this school year - about a week before the start of school, we got word about a brand-new program that would be opening at another site for overage eighth graders.  Two of them were accepted.  The program would be ready in a couple of weeks.  The weeks turned into a month, and then two.  I don't know why the school system can't have programs ready to go at the start of school, but....

Finally, one day last week, I got the email that we'd all been waiting for....they would start last Friday.  And a third "club" member had been accepted.  Thursday came and we ordered pizza, bought soda, and pushed back the desks.  One of them told me before class that he "wasn't doin' no math today!"  I wanted to ask him how that would be different than any other day, but I just smiled and said that I really didn't expect that they would be doing any on their last day.  They ate, they drank, and they danced. I videoed their "performance" and we watched the videos and looked at pictures I'd taken in class and on field trips during the past year.  We laughed, we talked, and it was good.   

Look at those faces!  What's not to love?  OK - don't make me answer that! 

My parting instructions to them were NOT to come back on our campus until they were coming to bring me a graduation invitation.  With their new program, they get home quite a bit earlier in the afternoon than our school, and I knew there would be a temptation for them to come back.  No good could come of that.   Wouldn't you know that one would be knocking on my classroom door Tuesday afternoon.  I invited him in, reminded him of what I had told him, asked him how things were going (good), admired his new ID, and sent him on his way.  He said he'd come to return a book.  Wednesday morning, I was walking across a street across town to go to Mass when someone called to me from a vehicle on the street.... his mom...  Go figure.  She also said that he seemed to like it.

I'm glad.  I hope they will have a fresh start, and I hope that they will work up to their capabilities.  I hope they will take advantage of the opportunities being offered to them.  I hope that it will be the beginning of a great future for them.  I hope.

Monday, October 11, 2010



If you're in California with nothing to do this coming weekend, I have the perfect thing for you.  Immaculee will be there. 

I've heard her speak twice, once as a keynote speaker for an hour or two at a conference, and once at a weekend long retreat.  She is simply awesome!  Humble, faith-filled, amazing, glowing, intelligent, humorous, beautiful.   And if you can't make the conference (or even if you can) her books should be required reading for just about everyone. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

morning walk

The weather is beautiful here at this point in the year.  October is usually rather pleasant.  50's at night, maybe.  80's during the day.  You can still wear shorts if you don't mind being a little chilly in the morning. (Never mind that my legs haven't seen shorts for the last couple of years... a scary sight!)

My sister-in-law and I decided earlier in the week to meet this morning and go for a walk.  Some girlfriend time.

So I dropped one son off for a Boy Scout camping trip and left another one sleeping because he had notecards to do later for a research paper, and drove on to my SIL's. We stopped to pick up another friend, and since we were in no particular hurry, we had coffee at her house.  Coffee and good conversation.

Finally we jumped back in the car and drove to a nearby location, parked the car and walked.  The first section of the walk followed along a cattle trail.  As is evidenced by the piles of cow "puckey" in the path.

Eventually, we came to a road, which led to another walkway of oak trees.  Doesn't it look peaceful?  We were headed down that path when one of my companions looked back and saw someone that she knew walking along the road.

And so we stood and visited.  By the end of the conversation, I felt like I was an old friend.

Relationships and grace.  That was a big part of the conversation and not the first time I've heard that conversation this week. 

At one point in the conversation,  the newest member of our group told about a retreat she had attended in which the presenter gave everyone a spoon at the end.  Have you ever been told, when dishes are being cleared away, "Keep your spoon/fork [for dessert]?"  The spoon symbolizes that "the best is yet to come."

I know that is true of our lives, because ultimately something better does await us in eternity, and I can see that in my spiritual life, on a more day-to-day basis.   When I got home, that very same story was waiting for me in an email - except that it used a fork.  Do you think the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something?

Maybe I should include a picture of an eating utensil?  Maybe next time...  Today it was butterflies that were abundant.  I was complaining that my camera was having a hard time focusing on the critters, but when I got home I was pleasantly surprised.  My nice auto-focus did a great job of getting butterfly antennae (whatever the plural is).  No more complaints.  I won't wish for an upgraded camera any time soon!

Definitely something to do again.  Especially while the weather is so wonderful!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

other plans

I had the coolest experience today.

I have a friend at work, who is my confidante, my spiritual sister.  We started at this school at the same time - over 20 years ago.  We have shared a lot, and when I returned to church several years ago, she was the one who listened to me and encouraged me (having returned a few years earlier herself).  This year we encourage each other and share what keeps us going day after day in "the muck".  One thing that keeps me going is daily Mass, and on days when I can't make it to Mass - going to sit in the empty-except-for-God church near our school after I drop off my son and before I go to school.

Yesterday, I wasn't able to do either because I had a meeting before school.  Today I really wanted to go to Mass, but it was just one thing after another.  When it was time to leave home, I couldn't find my keys.  (Older child had knocked them on the floor in his mad dash out the door, and hadn't stopped to pick them up.)  So I wasted several minutes looking for keys.  Then traffic was backed up, and when I tried to avoid that, I ran into a red light that lasted forever.  I knew I would be late getting to Mass, but I so wanted to go.

Finally, it was decision time.  I was at a stop light.  Left would take me to the "empty" church and right would take me to Mass.  I had about 2 minutes before Mass started, and I was probably 10 minutes away with time to park and walk, etc.  I got in the right lane..... then switched to the left, feeling rather defeated. 

When I got to the church there was another car in the parking lot.  I noticed it, but didn't think much of it - it's a big church, and occasionally I have been there and another person has stopped in.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to see my friend there - waiting with a big hug.  "I found your peace," she said.   And then I knew that even though I wanted to be at Mass, God had other - more perfect - plans for me.  I think I was awed and humbled and grateful - all together.

In the dim morning light, we prayed silently, we shared quietly and we prayed together.  It wasn't what I had planned, but it was good.  Better, I dare say than what my plans were.  After a half hour or so, we reluctantly left, but it was with the knowledge that God would be with us, protecting us throughout the day.

There were a few "wth" moments from the thorn in my life, but I went back to that peace.  And it worked.  Lord, stick close to me.  I need you!

daily meditations

What to write about?

The situation at school - just too maddening sometimes. I want to beat my head against the cinder block wall, sometimes.  Usually, it is not my students who are the cause of this.

Things at home?  Nothing very exciting.  I need to try to find school PANTS for my youngest.  I am pretty sure we bought some.  But not 100%.   All those pairs of navy blue shorts and pants just kind of all meld together.

Just routine ordinary-ness. That is probably a good thing.  And it will probably be short-lived (the ordinary-ness).

While I'm here with nothing interesting to write about, I thought I'd share some of my daily meditations, devotions, whatever you want to call them.

The most recent addition to the family is a book titled "God Calling".  While not necessarily Catholic, my Poor Clare friend gave it to me, and it sat gathering dust on my bookshelf for two years or so.  I picked it up again this past summer, and have been amazed at how it is sometimes exactly what I need to hear.  You can access it online here

Each weekday morning, I receive by email a reflection on the day's readings from St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.  They are written by different individuals, and I like seeing how they apply the daily readings to their lives.  Sometimes it is a totally different angle than what I heard at Mass. 

My third source for something to meditate on comes from Word Among Us. Click on "more" under today's meditation.  Sometimes I email the meditations to myself so that I can read it again later.

Just ordinary things.  But God can always be found in the ordinary. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I am enrolled in a short Bible Study at my parish.  The name is "Jesus in the New Testament" and it is a very brief look - almost an overview - of most of the New Testament.  This week was The Letters to the Romans and the Philippians. 

Much time was spent on "grace".  Grace is the Gift of God's relationship with us.  Relationship.  According to the Catholic Catechism (CCC 1997):  Grace is a participation in the life of God.  Grace is a gift.  The gift is relationship.  When God gives Himself to us, it is a total gift.  Put another way, He gave (gives) His all.  We do not receive "more grace" from God by doing certain things.  But grace involves a response from us, and we can GROW in grace by our ability, capacity, and willingness to respond to God's grace in us.

He used the example of the Blessed Mother.  God initiated the relationship.  He asked her to bear His son.  She cooperated with His will and grew in grace.  Responding to this almost necessarily leads to pain, because it is about relationship, and relationships can be difficult.  Ask someone who is married.  The dying to self and self-emptying love that it involves.  But God makes those relationships possible.

Things at school at this time are just very difficult.  The morale is low.  Teachers and students alike are demeaned by the "powers that be".  I have never seen anything like this.  It causes people to either pray, drink, cry, or "live better" through medication.

The message for me was that this "thorn" may not be removed, but that God's grace IS enough for me.  We are to conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel and live lives built on faith, hope, and love.  True peace - which we find ourselves constantly in search of - is the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.  It comes from promoting kindness, justice, balance, harmony, and right relations among people. 

The question for prayer this week:  What can "Rejoice in the Lord always" mean for you in your everyday life with all its circumstances?

Monday, October 4, 2010


Often, it is not hard to draw spiritual connections from gardening.

I planted pepper plants last spring, and for some reason, the banana peppers never produced anything.  Last year I had all the peppers I could want off of 2 or 3 plants, but this year, 8 or 9 plants yielded nothing.  Summer got too hot to be outside.  The grass grew up in areas I couldn't get to with the riding mower.  I stopped watering.  I stopped tending to them at all.  And now:

It is a picture of pure neglect.  Something that started out with such high hopes.  And then was left by the wayside.  Yet, in spite of the neglect, there is fruit (or veggies, as the case may be).To the right of the withered red pepper hidden by a leaf is a new "baby" banana pepper.

Is that not how are spiritual lives are sometimes?  We ask and ask.  We see no results.  We do different things to try to achieve the desired results. We bargain, we promise, we pray, we fast.  And then we walk away, disappointed.  Not sure if God has even heard us, but sure that if He did, the answer must have been "NO!"

How often God DOES come through!   Maybe not in the way we had planned, but He comes through in spite of dryness in prayer, in spite of the weeds of sin, in spite of our lack of effort and lack of faith.

How do we respond when we see these gifts?  Do we see them at all, or have we given up and gone on to other things?  Do we leave them hanging on the vine with indifference?  Gee thanks, God, but I don't need it now.  Or do we say a prayer of thanks and make use of what we've been given?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

here some paint., there some paint...

It was painting day at the coop. 

With a few gallons of "oops" paint.  The first color was the red shown here.  The second color was a peachy color.  The second coat will be in brownish tones.

 One of the painters thought the rooster needed a little color....

Some reddish highlights in the hair.  The other teen had a good bit of peach.  Seemed a little disappointed when I told him I didn't think he could go to school tomorrow with paint in his hair...

The first egg.  Ready to eat.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


My brother-in-law has always wanted to be a farmer, it seems.  And to that end, he is building a chicken coop.  Or maybe I should say other people - including my 2 boys - are building a chicken coop in his yard.

The other morning about 5 a.m., I heard something cocka-doodling.  Apparently the coop now had tenants.

 With a cluck-cluck here. 

 The "first fruits".  The first egg of the endeavor. 

The boys adding hay to the nesting boxes.  

Oreo, the pig, has chickens for company, now.  I don't think he's real impressed.

The chicken coop still needs to be painted.  The boys are supposed to be working on that tomorrow.  Hopefully none of the chicks will keel over from paint fumes.

Oh - and when the boys start talking about "hot chicks", can I just send them next door??