Sunday, July 31, 2011

let them eat cake

Life has been hectic here.  The granite guys came to install the granite.  The plumber is putting the sink and stove back in.  There are no stores nearby.  We still haven't figured out where people that live around here shop.

There is no lunchmeat in the fridge.  But my guys are SO resourceful.  There is cake mix in the pantry.  One of them announces that he is mixing up a cake and eating it raw.  For lunch.  Cake soup.  (The thought of salmonella never crossed my mind.) 

He does as he says, and I don't discourage him.  I document it in pictures.  But after he ladles up a bowl and sits down to enjoy, he has second thoughts.

So....what to do with a bowl of cake batter? 

The other one has a bright idea!  PanCAKES!

Cake Pancakes.  All things considered...not bad!

Yep, go ahead and nominate me for the Mom of the Year Award.

Friday, July 29, 2011

the light changed (and other minor miracles)

I remember my pastor explaining during a Bible Study that going to Confession is actually a 2-part miracle.  The first part of the "miracle" is that we are called (and have the good sense to listen).  Because we can not approach God without first being drawn to Him.  The second part of the miracle is the forgiveness of sin.

So I had plans to go today.  Serious plans.  I woke up at 5:30 a.m. before my alarm went off.  Confession is from 6:15 to 6:25, so it's not a big window of time.  I figured I needed to leave my house by 6:00 to be sure to make it in time.  I showered, dressed, fiddled with my hair.  At about 5:55, I found my purse and went to pick up my keys.

It's no small keys.  But alas! they were no where to be found.  Seems one of my offspring who shall remain nameless, used them to look in the car for his missing iPod last night.  At 5:55 a.m. he is not functional, and I don't have time to wait for him to get that way.

Keys are a tool of the devil in our house, and I know there is an extra set of car keys in the safe.  Except that there isn't.  Don't know what happened to them, but they have vanished in the move.

At this point, I am beside myself.  Not even sure that I will make it to Mass at this point, much less confession.  DH tells me to take his car, but I am reluctant to do so, since he never knows when he will get called out on a job.  But in the end, I do.

From my old house, I encountered one stoplight on the way to Mass and a major road to cross.  From the new house, I think there are 5 stoplights.  Even though traffic is pretty light before 6:30 in the morning, there is one of those lights that seems to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  I saw it today turn green in the distance.  I tried to make it, but in seconds, it switched to yellow, then back to red.  I know I am doomed.

But I pull up to it and seconds later it changes! "Thank you," I say aloud to the One in control.  I proceed on.  I might make it.  I fish my list out of my purse at the next light.  Thank goodness, I did that yesterday.   There is a parking spot waiting for me in the front of the church!  I pull in, and jump out.  The confessional is right inside the door!  (Parking in the front, instead of in the parking lot in the back has saved me at least 90 seconds!  I glance up at the confessional....just one red light!  (The only place where a red light means "go"!)  I hadn't even entertained the thought that there might be another sinner there! I'm thinking maybe my miracle had more than 2 parts.

I step inside the door and close it.  I exhale deeply.  I made it!!  And then, in less than 5 minutes, out walks a new person! Forgiven.  As clean as I was on the day of my baptism.  With supernatural grace.

All I could think was that God wanted to see me this morning as much as I wanted to see Him!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

finding sacred silence

Today I went off in search of some Sacred Silence.  I had dropped my younger child off for Freshman Orientation, and since we no longer live 4 minutes away from the school, I didn't want to go all the way back home.

That and the fact that I am flying next week.  And if you've read this blog for long, you know that I will do what I can to get to confession before stepping on a plane.  I really hate dislike flying.  With all matter of out of town company and festivities for my MIL's 80th birthday, I figure my best chance for confession is at 6:15 Friday morning.  And at that hour, I need to have my "thinking" done ahead of time.  And the best place to do that thinking and searching is in the company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

So I went in search of Sacred Silence.  The picture is the road that I travel to get to the newly opened Adoration Chapel right by my house.  2.2 miles.  And it opened the week before we moved in.  How perfect is that?  But I digress....

First I dropped by my old house to feed the cats and wander through.  Everything is mostly sorted and packed (except for a front porch/storage area and a huge shed).  I thought it would seem bigger when the stuff was out, but it does not.  It is mostly silent there, but it is not sacred.  And it DOES make a difference.

My next stop was at the church near my school.  It is one of the few that is unlocked during the day, and I like that I can sometimes (often) go, sit in the natural lighting and be the only person there.  But today, when I drove up, I was met with the sight of old-lady-mobiles.  (Sorry, if that sounds stereotypical, but you know them when you see them...)  Anyway, they were parked very creatively to maximize any potential shade from the ornamental parking lot trees.  That was a sign that they were there for the long haul.  But I decided to give it a whirl.  Maybe they were there praying.  But as I opened the door and strains of merry conversation drifted my way, I knew that Sacred Silence, it would not be.

My next option was the Adoration Chapel by my old house...where I have spent some wonderful hours.  Silence is golden there.  Oh, the wonderful delight of sitting there with Jesus...without judgment or condemnation...just glad to be there. And my kind pastor pointed out one weekend...not only do we enjoy spending time with Jesus...he delights in spending time with us! 

And so I find my silence with Jesus and pray...
Lord, we need to walk together down the road.
The road of undones, the road of not good enough, and shouldn't have dones.
Lord, I wish that I could come before you perfect, but I don't.
And even more, I hide my imperfections from myself, 
but I know you know my hiding places, and I want you to help me find them.

He does not disappoint.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

of wheat and weeds and pearls of great price

Yeah, one of those homily posts!

The story of the wheat and the weeds was the Gospel reading for this past Sunday, as well as yesterday - Saturday. My oldest child proclaimed this as his "favorite Gospel" a couple of years ago, because he "gets it". So it was kind of cool (at least in a nerdy, Catholic mom sense) that last Sunday was his birthday and he got to hear his favorite Gospel.

He didn't think it was so cool, but we got to hear it TWICE! I (we) all had to serve at 8:30 Mass, so that was one chance to hear, and then the opening Mass of RISE on Sunday evening was another chance to hear. Two Masses in one day! Perish the thought!

Our priest really didn't address the wheat and weeds part of the Gospel. He focused more on the second reading and the Spirit making up what we lack in our imperfect prayer. He noted that prayer - inasmuch as the Spirit makes up for what we lack - is really God talking to God. He said that humility is the foundation of all prayer. And that prayer is not so much about what we do and say to God, but what God does within us. Our prayer is always imperfect - because we are imperfect. But God, in His great love, takes what we offer Him, perfects it, and gives it right back to us. Things that you can take with you and meditate upon later.

The opening Mass focused more upon the "whoever has ears OUGHT to hear" part of the Gospel. The homily - fitting for the opening night of a weeklong retreat for teens - was about having open eyes to see, open ears to hear, and open hearts to receive.

The Saturday closing Mass was the same Gospel as the opening Mass - in shorter form. The priest giving the homily for that one, said how nice it might be if Jesus had used Rice, instead of wheat, for the parable. That way, you could have "R" and "W" instead of 2 "W's", and you could stamp the "good" people with "R" and the "bad" people with "W" and it would make it all so much simpler.

Then he asked them to consider that the field was really their heart...and in that field there was wheat growing - the kindness and generousity and selflessness. But that there were also weeds growing...selfishness, doubt, fear, pride. What we are called to do, then, is to "feed the wheat and trample the weeds". We do this by staying close to Jesus in his Word and in His Sacraments, when we speak the truth in the face of opposition, when we defend those who cannot defend themselves, when we pray.

Today was the beautiful reading about the "pearl of great price". I'll bet everyone reading this has interpretted that passage, by placing themselves in the role of the merchant who seeks after the "pearl of great price" (Jesus). How about turning that around, he suggested. And to let us know that he hadn't totally lost his mind, he read an excerpt from JPII about "God seeking after man".

How about, if Jesus is the merchant, and WE are the pearl of great price? He looks for us, He seeks us, and He gives e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g for us. As He looks for us, he doesn't find beautiful gems. No, he finds rocks - rough around the edges. But He is able to see the beauty we can become with a little polishing and cutting. The cutting and polishing involves pain, and we have to surrender to that. But, he calls us to be conformed to the image of His Son, justified, glorified. (2nd reading).

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I had the best experience yesterday! Too bad I'm still living off of a 3G connection and can't share any of my pictures.  Yay!  I finally have internet!

Our diocese sponsors a program (RISE - Rising In Service to Everyone) for high schoolers. For a week, they stay at a camp about 30 miles from here, work on service projects during the day, and have a retreat-like atmosphere in the evenings. My boys, with a bit of "encouragement", agreed to go. My pastor, with very little encouragement, agreed to pay the entire fee for them and two others to attend.

I was asked if I could work one day with a work group. I had other plans for the day, but I could not tell this lady "no". I wasn't really looking forward to a day working outside in the Louisiana heat and humidity, but you do what you gotta do.

I arrived at the camp shortly after 7 a.m. Mass was at 7:30. My boys' cabin arrived last, looking like they just rolled out of bed, but they came in quietly and found empty chairs. The Gospel was about the seed that fell on fertile ground, rocky soil, etc. The homily (given by the Vocations Director for the diocese) wove that Gospel, the fact that they were there (after someone planted a seed), and a call to pray about what their vocation might be all together in the homily.

After Mass, the kids lined up with their work groups for breakfast. (They work in groups of five). It took me a few minutes to realize that they weren't sitting down. No...they get their breakfast in a to-go plate, and they eat on the way. Literally "sent forth" from Mass "to love and serve the Lord". On the way to their van, each group picked up a couple of gallons of water and a small ice chest containing ham and turkey. A water cooler and a box containing bread, fruit, chips, paper towels, and zip-locs of condiments and cookies were already in the minivans. Lunch.

My group consisted of three boys and two freshman, three sophomores, and a senior. The other adult was in his early 20's....he'd been with the program since it started 8 or 9 years ago. Turns out he will be teaching Math at my sons' high school next year. 

We traveled about a half hour to our worksite in relative quiet...Christian music on the radio...smatterings of conversation. Their project was to build a wheelchair ramp at a home. It had been partly completed, and they had hoped to finish by noon to start on another ramp a few miles away. When we arrived at the site, the senior asked who would like to lead a prayer before starting. They didn't seem terribly eager, but one of the girls agreed, "Lord help everything go right...but if it doesn't, help us deal with that, too.". Something like that.

One word...roots. There was some digging required for this, and every time they started, they were stopped by tree roots. They proudly showed me the one that they had taken out earlier in the week. It must have been six inches in diameter!

But the trees were both a blessing and a curse. Just as the roots provided obstacles below, the trees provided shelter from the sun overhead. It was hot and sticky, especially when digging holes or whatnot, but it wasn't unbearable.

Two things struck me about this group. The first was that they were relatively loud, boisterous, silly behavior. The second was the absolute absence of whining, complaining, bickering, and bad language. They offered each other suggestions, they offered each other help, and whatever needed to be done, they did. In the bits of conversation, you could tell that they had listened to the nightly speakers. They visited with each other. They talked about looking for "Christ moments". When the day was nearly over (they did not finish by noon), the daughter of the lady they were building the ramp for showed up with donuts. They said that was a Christ moment. When there were raised voices at the house next door, one of the girls said, "Maybe we should pray for those people". It was really an awesome day with an awesome group of kids. So rarely do we see that type of behavior with the kids we teach, or even those in my home.

Both of my boys had seemed to be in a good place when I spoke with them in the breakfast line, and my younger had tales of putting in ceiling tiles in the house he was working on when I saw him at the end of the day. 

I drove home feeling like I was the one who had been given the gift that day. My prayers for these young people (there are more than 100) go along with the Gospels this week. May the seeds that are being planted fall on fertile ground. May their eyes be opened to see, may their ears be open to hear, and may their hearts be open to receive.

My gratitude to the folks that organized this, to the many volunteers (22 work groups means 44 adults just for that!), to the seminarians and youth ministers who are spending the week, and to the priests..there were 2 for Mass in the morning and 7 for Reconciliation last night!

I have pictures...really. Hopefully by tomorrow, I'll have real internet and the ability to post them!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

because every house needs at least one....

A Holy Family, that is.

A house-warming gift from my SIL.

L.O.V.E it!  

Hopefully they won't be the only holy family at our house...

And now back to my regularly scheduled sorting, purging, and packing....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

happy discoveries

Moving in Louisiana in July is hot, sweaty, icky work. And at least in my case, it seems to be never-ending.

The dumpster arrived today. Yep, I'm serious. The amount of garbage we have generated will never fit in our government-issue trash container. At the risk of looking like the people on Hoarders, I did do a quick look-through of the bags before they landed in their next destination, the dumpster. Actually, I was looking for a rather substantial sized 3-ring binder containing info on the lives of the Saints. It was a 2-binder set, and I only salvaged one from the house. The other, I did not find in the garbage bags....I'm rather at a loss as to where it went. I saw them both there a few days ago.

Anyway, I found only a few things worth pulling out of the bags. The dog's heart worm and flea meds at the top of the list. That stuff is expensive! Not sure why a 3-month supply got tossed. In and amongst the bags of trash, two pieces of paper made their way into my hands. One was a note written to me from my grandmother while I was at Girl Scout camp in Wyoming in 1980 and the other was a note written to me by my confirmation sponsor.

The grandmother note was mostly just newsy chit-chat, but written on August 15, she noted that she and my granddad needed to get to Mass for the feast day.

The note from my confirmation sponsor made me smile. I was confirmed in 8th grade...1977, by my calculations. She spoke of "the help of Our Divine Savior's presence within..." and being an example for "today's troubled youth in this space age." She continued, "In planning each probe into space, our scientist must reckon with the physical laws of the universe in planning his venture. So must we all acknowledge certain spiritual principles to find a proper relationship with God. And in receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit - God promised you all you need - Read the Acts of the Apostles in your Bible to know what you have received...". I was really struck by this short little note. Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit had a hand in the writing, and I am almost certain that it is more meaningful to me now than it was 30+ years ago. I wondered, too, if hand-written notes will become something so "last century".

I have to tell you, that there was a fleeting temptation to go dig through those bags in the dumpster to see what other shreds of wisdom I could unearth. But I'm going to go with the truth that these are the ones that I needed to see, and God put them where I could find them.

I made another happy discovery this week. As of July 1, there is a Perpetual Adoration Chapel about 2 miles from my new house...although, if I could walk through the woods at the back of my subdivision, it would be less than a mile. It is a beautiful setting...a drive down a oak-tree lined driveway. I promise, pictures will follow soon. And a chapel secured by key pad. I found those two notes this evening while working at the old house, and I took them with me to read at the chapel later in the evening. (Evening is the best time to do anything here!). I thanked God for those wonderful faith-filled women who came before me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

i should be working...

But it is hot and sticky and I am slacking.  I should be sorting and boxing and moving stuff, but...

Taking advantage of being at the old house with access to internet...

Let me upload a few pics from the last few weeks...

Across the street from "the old house" was an older house with majestic Live Oak trees in the front yard.

But they are not there anymore.
We watched as they were dismantled limb by limb.
Making way for a mega power line.
All of the trees along that side of the road have fallen in the past few weeks.
Changes the look of things entirely.
 Here the last limb of the last tree is lopped off.

Back at the new house we have been trying to figure out how things work.
Like the fireplace.  
Nothing happens when you turn the red valve.
Maybe I need to call the gas company.

And we've been figuring out pool rules, too.

You know this is not going to end well.

Sharp plastic connecting with a toe ended that fun with much more finality than
mom saying, "don't do that!"  
Some lessons are best learned first hand.

We celebrated the July 4th at "the old house".  
BarBQ ribs....yum!

Here's a "lost and found" item.
Dear Hubby's grandmother gave me this rosary when I graduated from college (back in '86).
Several years ago (7 or more) it went missing.
I thought I had lost it on vacation.
Dear hubby found it in the packing and sorting. 

I was thrilled.
Looks a little better with the cross polished....

There are roses at the new house.

Although this more accurately shows the moving chaos.

Notice that you see NO pictures of the moving chaos at the old house. 
It is just h.o.r.r.i.b.l.e.

Dear son pointed out the irony here.
Wearing a coke shirt, holding a pepsi bottle.  

The dog is adjusting fairly well.

Here she is...enrolled in doggy swimming lessons.

She swims, but she doesn't really love it.

And those are pictures from the nice side of my life.
I haven't shown the sweat and the dust and the trash.
Rest assured, there is way more of that than I would like right now.
Can you say "renting a dumpster"?

It is a little disconcerting to have TWO houses that are in disarray.
But hopefully, by the end of the month, things will have righted themselves somewhat.  
The old house will be emptied and the new house will have things put away.


And the advice from Mass this morning?
It came from St. Benedict - who's feast we celebrated today.

In all things, put Christ first!

Maybe I need to do a bit of that today....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

in, but not out

I'm still here. Just very busy.


We slept in the "new house" for the first time Thursday night.

We are not experienced movers, and it shows. The old house looked even worse after we got the big stuff out. And I swear that hubby's helper friend did not understand the meaning of "just the big stuff" and took some stange delight in making the old place even messier, if that is possible. Two days later, there has been progress at both houses, but a long, long way to go.

To that end, I called my friend in Pennsylvania and postponed my trip. I was to be on a plane to Philly Friday, but I just couldn't leave the mess in good conscience. It cost me about $60 to change the flight, but once it was done I felt a peace that I haven't felt since I bought the first tickets.

I have pictures...but I'm working off of my iPad and 3G for right now...

Still much to be done at "the old house".

Friday, July 8, 2011

now i get it

The homily this morning centered on "keeping it all together". And on trust. Trusting in the Lord to keep it all together as He did with Israel/Jacob's family in the first reading, and as He did with the early church in the Gospel, and as He does with us in our every day lives.

Trusting in the Lord is something easier said than done for some of us. If the truth be told, the basis for so many sins is a lack of trust in God...the idea that we can't trust God to do what is best for us. It's one of those things that often makes its way to confession in one way or another.

And often I get a penance along the lines of "spend some time in prayer thanking God for the way he works in your life." Sometimes it seems like kind of a "nothing" penance. Always good, but not real demanding or time-consuming, and certainly not unpleasant.

But now I get the connection...the way to build trust in the Lord, the good Monsignor said, is in prayer. Forget about the "gimme list" he said. God already knows what's on that. Spend time, instead - perhaps daily - reflecting on the graces God has given you, the jams He's gotten you out of, the good things he has done for you. That builds trust.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

come to me

This past week, I was able to spend more time than usual in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Awesome, awesome.  While I was there, I realized that the time I had been able to spend with Him during the school year wasn't just some nice little lagniappe from God, but a necessity, and that I wasn't going to be able to skate through this summer solely on those good graces. 

But at the same time, I wondered...why?  I know the answer to that, intellectually.  Because it's about relationship.  Can't have a relationship with someone you don't spend time with.  But I look around at the rest of the world.  No one else seems to need to spend that much time with the Lord .  Or maybe better stated, it is rare to find someone who is not a priest or sister who visits regularly often with the Blessed Sacrament.  And they seem to get along just fine.  Sort of.

This afternoon I popped in to the confessional.  One motivating factor is that I will be boarding a plane next Friday.  Call me superstitious if you want, but I like to have things "right" before I go flying off into the wild blue yonder.  Anyway, one of the "things" was the lack of personal prayer this summer.  I had hoped for some encouragement/feedback on that, so I elaborated slightly.  But, no.  No feedback today.  My penance, though, was to sit with this weekend's Gospel and "take it apart...let God speak". I left the confessional without a clue about what this weekend's Gospel was.  (Sometimes when he gives a similar penance, he will elaborate a little.)

What would this weekend's Gospel be?  It was from Matthew 11...Jesus saying, "Come to me...learn from me....and I will give you rest."

Could that have been any more perfect?  I think it is so cool how the Spirit works through my good priest.  Sometimes he answers my questions so simply and easily, that I am left wondering why I didn't think of that.  Sometimes he says just the right thing to answer a question that I haven't even asked.  And today, he didn't answer at all, but left it for God to answer Himself.  

Come to me...