Saturday, June 22, 2013

A small string of misfortunes

What a strange week. So much of it has been really wonderful. The weather is beautiful, and the kids are having a great summer break. The pool is open, summer reading is underway, the veggies are growing, the chickens are here and happily roaming the yard.

But this week has also been filled with so many other things. Small things really, if taken by themselves. But presented to me in such a way that I can hear them groaning in the background of my heart persistently. All week long, whilst I have been moving along in my own little life, I have been 'reminded' so to speak, by varied requests both on the phone and through email, and regular mail, for prayers for peoples aches and pains.

A sickness
someone searching for work
a battle with mental illness
new motherhood struggles
a loved one is dying
a struggle in faith
cancer looms
problems with schooling
a misunderstanding between friends
overdue bills
car troubles
marriage woes
health problems 
a child on drugs

And the list goes on. Of course, it is tempting to shut oneself up in ones  own heart and close the world out. But I guess I wasn't given a heart like that. My own life can seem so idyllic, that if I am not careful, I can make myself believe that Sophia's bee sting  yesterday, along with four children getting shots,  and Fred feeling a bit under the weather is a genuine calamity.

  But it isn't.

People are suffering. Even when the sun shines, and the pool is open.And we're not even skimming real problems like poverty and hunger- just the everyday versions we all encounter. And those requests for prayer come from the deeper places of peoples hearts. They want  to know someone besides themselves will ask God for a helping hand on their behalf. That someone will take a minute from their own life and quietly think outside the box of their own world- and care. I never feel that I have the answers to these troubles presented me, good thing I suppose, but I am willing to listen. And I will pray for all of you who have asked me. I promise.

Remember: God is good. All the time.

Monday, June 17, 2013

An old friend

When Fred and I lived back in Vermont we were pretty involved in Catholic youth ministry. We spent lots of time helping out on teen retreats, singing around camp fires,  and driving car loads of kids from place to place. We had a few little kids of our own in those days, and a bit of extra time to spare and so it made sense for us. Naturally, some of the local teens became more friendly with us and began stopping by our place on and off to chat.

One particular young man, whose name was Jon, came by more often. We talked a lot. (And if you can believe it, I actually did most of the listening in those conversations!) He asked a lot of questions about God and faith, and how to deal with the struggles of life- as if I had some hidden answers. We drank a lot of coffee. And we became friends. Jon always had a lot of energy and questions, but he was largely from my recollection of those days- restless. One afternoon when Jon was telling me all these great plans he was ready to accomplish with his life I stopped him and said "You know what I think Jon? I think that one day you are going to make a very good priest." His face pickled up into a terrible sneer, and he left shortly after very angry indeed.  He didn't speak to me for at least a few weeks for that comment, but eventually I apologized for it and  we talked it out. And then he went off to college, and we moved to Maryland and had another five kids and life and time took over for us all, and we lost touch.

Until today when he came to visit...And before he left he had heard my confession.

He has been a priest for five years now. He finished up college and finally applied to seminary, and then he studied in Rome. That still small voice just kept growing inside of him. Of course it would already be super cool to have simply gotten that one right ( like I did) but the better part of the story, that I was even more right about, was that he REALLY IS a good priest! He is happy, and peaceful, and not restless any longer like he had been. The priesthood  really does suit him just like I supposed.

"Our  hearts are restless until they rest in thee" St. Augustine

So Fred and I and the kids and Fr. Jon spent the day visiting together, and chatting about old times, stopping at a few local shrines for prayer, and catching up on the last dozen or so years since we had seen each other. It was such a perfect afternoon. When he was getting ready to go and I asked him to give me some words of wisdom now that he was a priest and all  about how to handle the struggles of life his words were simple and profound "Keep on loving anyway."The words felt like they soaked right through my whole soul.

We are meant to be a part of one another's lives, all of us.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Michael  served at mass for the first time officially on Sunday. John-Paul and  Matty assisted him for this momentous occasion. He was really nervous and sweet. So now, all seven of my sons have been altar boys and that's pretty neat in itself. Here are a few shots:

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I figured tonight was as good as any to catch you all up on the happenings in our yard. Since school finished we have joined the summer reading program at the library, finished our last track meet of the season, and visited the shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton for the official tour. But lots of other time has been spent by the pool side and with our new chickens. Lets see if I can remember all the new names we have given them: There's Hawkeye, Flo, Frances, Oreo, Sally, Pearl, Hot Dog, and Garden ( I'll let you guess who named the last two).

We have been letting them out for the last few nights to see how they do , and its going swell. They even let the kids pet them a bit. It will be a little while till they lay yet. Tom and Mike are the responsible parties  for chicken care. They don't like the idea of it entirely, but are warming up as they  do love the chickens.

The rest of the plant growth is doing so well. I have one almost ripe tomato if you can believe it, and nothing else has died! The strawberry plant is exploding with buds, the potatoes are growing, and the fruit trees have tons of new growth. Remember the little nest I shot a photo of a few weeks ago in my tomato planter? The eggs hatched this week and the babies are as sweet as could be. Lastly, Fred finally bought a new ( second hand) back-hoe today. For the last year or so I have been hearing how all my troubles would be solved if only I had the proper piece of heavy equipment. Today it arrived, and already I can imagine a life full of bliss. At least- one of us can. He is as happy as any man I have ever seen.

How's life by all of you? Hope you're enjoying the sunshine. Thanks for stopping by here!
about five baby birds hatched this week

Matthew finishing the 3000
pretty in pink -with ribbons to boot!
Brothers and teammates
JP coming into his own
I'm pretty sure I can swim

First tomato!
Joe supervises the girls with the chickens
All is right in the world for Fred

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our basement flooded

Our basement flooded this afternoon. It was the worst one we've ever had as a family-ever. The whole floor was covered  and every object some (special some not) in the path soaking in H2O. And the water smelled N-A-S-T-Y.  It was so bad it merited calling Fred home from work to rescue us all.

Guess what?

It was the best part of my day today. And NO, I don't mean because everything else was so awful. It was the best part because it was a real problem; not one of the imagined ones that I  play through my mind a gazillion times most days wondering if I'll be able to handle it, fix it, or endure it. It was concrete.In those imagined scenarios I usually fail miserably and scare myself into more worry in the process and convince myself of how terrible, and awful everything will likely wind up being.

But in this real life flood here is what I actually found out:

  • All of my kids pulled together.

  •  They all had something to do and were willing to help, no matter their size.

  •  They are smart and ingenious in their solutions, much like their father.

  • They stick with it to the bitter end, and they don't make a fuss over difficult situations.

  • They will sacrifice small things easily for the sake of each other.

  • I have an immensely talented husband who can fix anything.

  • He must really love our children to fix so many things for so long.

  • He didn't complain even once.

  • Even though I couldn't do much to fix it, he was happy I just stayed and talked to him while he did.

  • I'm pretty sure the last one means he must really love me.

Who would have thought we could learn so much from a flood? God is good. All. The. Time.