Sunday, July 31, 2011

Don't Give Up - For a Special Blogging Friend

don't give up
'cause you have friends
don't give up
you're not the only one
don't give up
no reason to be ashamed
don't give up
you still have us
don't give up now
we're proud of who you are
don't give up
you know it's never been easy
don't give up
'cause I believe there's  a place
there's a place where we belong

"No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us."    Romans 8:37

Living the Good Life

Cocoa getting ready for bed  :) Sweet dreams!

You didn't think dollhouses were just for dolls, did ya?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sabbath Moments - O God Our Help in Ages Past

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Last week when I posted my Sabbath Moments I spoke about the changes in my spiritual routine during the summer months and my thoughts on this subject. Every week is different during the summer months and I pretty much go with the flow. I managed to sneak out during the evening hours a couple of times. I hopped into my car, went for a little drive and prayed and sang to the Lord. I usually sing while doing my dishes but I have had a lot of kids around lately and wanted to spare their ears. After a few days of sparing their ears I was dying to get out and pour out some songs to the Lord. It brings me joy despite the fact that my singing may be off key. We can't all be a Charlotte Church!  (lol)

I guess I have a little evangelist living with me. She made up little Psalm cards and handed them out to Randy and I, her grandparents, and my sister and her family. Here's a picture of mine :

This is from an old hymn by Isaac Watts and it
paraphrases Psalm 90. She must have seen this
at a bookstore we visited while at the beach. I
love Psalm 90, especially verse 12  "Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart."  I guess she must have thought it would be
a good reminder to all of us to place our trust in

Today I was smiling because she was telling me that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. I asked her how she knew that and she replied, "Don't you pay attention to the readings at Mass, Mom? St. Paul says it all the time!" To be honest, I thought that she didn't really listen that closely to the readings. She went on to tell me that the Mass readings, Communion, and the singing were her favorite parts at Mass. I knew she loves singing because she always lifts her little voice at Mass. A few times I've even seen her place her hand over her heart while singing. Anyway,  the moral of this story is:

 I guess you can fidget and still pay attention at the same time : )

Friday, July 29, 2011

Actual Grace

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

When praying to the Lord I often request "actual graces". This is the term used for the special grace God gives to perform a particular task and I've noticed that when I pray for these "actual graces" God always grants them as long as I am praying in accord with His Will for me and with regard to my station in life. As far as I can tell, He has never refused this request though it is quite likely that I have failed to respond to them fully when given. Actual grace is a bit different than sanctifying grace. I like to think of actual grace as "the grace of the present moment". Since I am not a a theologian I realize that this definition is a bit off so here (and here) are more precise explanations of actual grace and the help it provides us. These special graces are given to us to help us, in a supernatural way, complete a task God is asking of us. He gives us "a leg up" so to speak. They are temporary and not to be confused with sanctifying grace, the grace which communicates supernatural life into the soul at baptism.

I have noticed in my own life that the more often I ask for and respond to "actual grace" the more I get. God is generous in his giving. I call it the "grace of the present moment" because it is in the present that I receive this help from God. Certainly, I can pray for the "actual grace" to accomplish an important task tomorrow but I don't receive the special grace until the precise time it is needed.

There is a certain purity attached to the present moment. Each new day becomes a clean slate to write on. What we write on this slate is up to us. The term "present" has not gone unnoticed by me and as we unwrap the gift of today may we remember to treasure this gift, ask for the grace to live it well and give thanks because the gift tag contains the signature of the Almighty God.

"This is the day the Lord has made;  let us rejoice in it and be glad!"     Psalm  118:24

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

His Daughter

Each week, Holly at A Life-Size Catholic Blog hosts a meme called Pay it Forward where you can highlight another blogger or share with others posts from blogs that you would like to draw attention to.

My Pay it Forward this week goes to Karinann at Daughter of the King. Her blog is one of my personal favorites and her writing inspires me. I don't only read her posts, I "feel" her posts and that, to me, is the mark of someone who truly loves the Lord and is writing from the heart. Karinann is not afraid to speak the truth and I'd like to point everyone toward a particular post of hers called We are at War. Another post that struck me powerfully is God is the Lord. Both these posts contain truths that we really need to hear these days. We live in a secular society that has mostly forgotten God and these two posts are eye-openers. I highly recommend this site.

Karinann also writes for the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers and the Community of Catholic Bloggers.  Without Karinann's hard work the Community of Catholic Bloggers would never have gotten off the ground. Many, many, thanks for all that you do, Karinann.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fishers of Men

My husband, Randy, just started a new blog called Fishers of Men. Randy is a convert to Catholicism with a Baptist/Pentecostal background and has decided to write about his conversion experience and his journey to the Catholic Church. I have watched with amazement the guiding hand of the Lord in his life and the huge strides he has made spiritually thanks to God's grace. I hope you'll visit his site and welcome him to the Catholic blogging community.

Coincidentally, or maybe I should say God-incidentally my husband's first two word verifications were "objesauss" and "fromtheiam". When I saw fromtheiam my mouth dropped! Hands down the best word verification I've seen so far. We were dumbfounded! Does somebody plan these things? From the I Am, indeed. are too funny.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Aridity and Manipulating God

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Hmmm. I was thinking about that "letting go and letting God" part of this meme and I am realizing that it's a good thing I participate in this meme because moms really have no other choice than to place everything in God's hands and go with the flow. Kids are unpredictable for the most part and their needs supersede our own. Since returning from the beach  (where I had a nice little "spiritual routine" of daily Mass and prayer going) I am back to "winging it" where prayer is concerned. Far from being bad for me as I used to believe, this is actually good for me. How can praying less be good for me? Well, I certainly rely more on God during these times. My prayers often become less formal and more heartfelt. Shorter but sweeter, I guess you could say. Plus, I have come to realize that routine, which is normally good, can at times have a negative effect spiritually in that we can come to place more importance on the routine  than on the God behind the routine.  We can be "using" the routine itself as a source of consolation.  A way to test this is to pay attention to whether or not you feel disturbed inside when your regular prayer/Mass routine is upset for a good while. If you ARE disturbed it's likely that your motives are not completely pure. So the Lord likes to throw a few "wrenches" into my daily routine so that I don't become complacent. Another factor that  has come to my attention over the years  are "prayer agendas". We all have these, whether we recognize them or not. Some are very subtle. Some are not  : )

I have noticed that after periods of consolation during prayer, when a "dry season" sets in, that I sometimes try to reproduce, or maybe "recapture" would be a better word, these feelings by trying to do exactly what I did while they were happening. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I am well aware that I am doing it, too. As if God can be manipulated in such a fashion! The aridity and dry spells remind me that God is in charge at all times and I (now, at least) try to keep my peace regardless of the state of my prayer life. Note the word "try" because I am going to be very honest here:

Over the years I have thrown a number of what can only be called "spiritual tantrums" before the Lord. Just like a small child who doesn't get her way. Instead of remaining peaceful in the knowledge that God has all things well at hand at all times, in my spiritual pride I have allowed my emotions to "fly all over the place" when the Lord's will does not coincide with my own. At first I didn't realize I was doing this - until the Lord brought it to my attention. I was lacking in the trust and faith which are crucial to a Christian and important to our spiritual growth and it would result in my losing the interior peace that God gives us. I would get all nervous and upset over things in life that I had absolutely no control over.  The thing is that God reveals things in layers and I was not aware at first of this "manipulation".  As He has worked on the healing of my emotions over the years more and more of this kind of behavior has come to my attention. Some of the things He has shown me surprised me. "Now, Lord, why didn't I notice I was doing that?"

God hides a lot of things from us. Were He to reveal our sinful natures all at once we might be thrown into despair and He doesn't want that so He peels the layers off slowly. He purifies all aspects of our nature provided we allow this and it usually takes a lifetime. This is one of the reasons why we shouldn't judge others. Often, the very same faults lie in us.

 My Sabbath Moment was originally going to be about my vacation but I somehow got sidetracked.

The vacation was great, by the way.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Summer Prayer Routine

Here's a brief glimpse into my prayer life during the summer months:

"Eternal Father I offer You..."

"Mom! May I have a drink please?"

Get said drink.

"the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of...

"Come quick! You'll NEVER believe what Zeb did all over the kitchen floor!!" Errr...yes I WILL believe it - I can smell it from here. Zeb is our very old, deaf, senile dog who, I kid you not, poos in threes. Always. In some ways this is helpful since if I only find two, I simply look at the bottom of my shoe and most of the time the third is there. "If you know he goes in threes, why not walk around it?" you may ask. Well, it's really not that simple. We have a tile pattern on the kitchen floor that is light but contains a dark diamond shape in the center and I'm sure you know where the missing one lands - right in the center of that diamond. In other words, it's camouflaged. My husband swears to me that Zeb does it on purpose, "Hon, what are the odds that one of them will land in the center of the diamond almost every single day?"

He's got a point there.

"Your dearly beloved Son, our.."

Crash!!! I jump up and run into my daughter's room to find her under a pile of games after trying to remove the bottom game from the pile that is in the top of her very messy closet.


"Where was I Lord?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thank you

Many, many, thanks to all who have been praying for Ron, Christopher, and their families.

Christopher is doing quite well. He has feeling and some control over his upper body which is a HUGE improvement all things considered. He is moving his right arm as well as his left and his vital stats are good. Unfortunately, there has been no improvement in the lower body. I think everyone was hoping to see some kind of response, even if only to touch, in the lower half, but nothing as of yet. Still, I have great hope:

All things are possible with God. I know this firsthand.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for the remarkable improvement in Christopher's condition. I praise your most Holy Name. I have complete faith in your ability to heal Christopher completely. Please send the fire of your Holy Spirit through the lower half of Christopher's body. He is a young man, Lord, and needs the use of his legs. I also place his family, who are suffering greatly, in your Sacred Hands.

Holy Mary, you who understand a mother's pain when her child is suffering, hold Laurie close and cover her entire family at this time with your Immaculate Mantle.

Jesus, I trust in you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Christopher moved his arm!

Christopher is conscious and moved his left arm and hand! Thank you, Jesus!

Christopher is awake and talking but very frightened because he has no feeling in his lower body at all. Still, his blood pressure is stable and he can move one arm. He cannot move the other arm but when someone touches his hand he can feel it which is a good sign. The next 72 hours are crucial according to the doctors and he will be undergoing another operation in a few days. Another good sign is that he can feel pain in certain parts of his upper body.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. Prayer is powerful and his family appreciates every single one. I spoke to Laurie's sister a little while ago and she said the prognosis is good that Christopher will live but may not be able to walk ever again. With God all things are possible so I am praying that, like the cripple at the Beautiful Gate, he WILL walk.

God is good.

I can't believe this....

I don't know what's going on lately. First Jonna, then Ron, and now I get a phone call early this morning telling me that my friend Laurie's son Christopher was in a diving accident yesterday and broke his neck. He was in surgery for 8 hours during the night and survived the surgery but is in very critical condition. Laurie and I have been friends since we were two-years-old and I love her like a sister. Please, once again I am begging for prayer.

Jesus, you are the Divine Physician, please lay your beautiful hands, which were pierced for love of us, on Christopher and bring complete healing to this young man's body. Pour your mercy upon his entire family and hold them close during this terrible time. Jesus, I trust in you. You know all things and I  place Christopher and his family into your most Sacred Heart.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Emergency prayer request

Randy and I just returned home from the beach this afternoon. We rent a cottage every year from some friends that we've known since we were children. My sister who is still at the beach called me a little while ago and told me that our friend's son just committed suicide.  The family is totally devastated. Please, please pray.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Vacation

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we remember to "live in the present moment" and "let go and let God". This has been  fairly easy to accomplish this week as we are on vacation and surrounded by the beauty of God's creation. I'd like to introduce you to a little fellow who has been keeping us company at the beach this week:

This adolescent seal has been keeping us company for the past few days. He'll take off for hours but keeps coming back to the same spot on the beach. The picture is not very clear because they roped off a section of the beach so that no one would disturb the little guy. You can't see his face well in this picture but he is adorable.

Here's a picture of my favorite girl playing in the wet sand close to the water. Each day when we get back to the cottage a pound of sand pours out of her bathing suit before she steps into the shower  : )

As for me, I formed a daily routine during my vacation that is working out very well. I leave the cottage at 8:00 to pray my Rosary and attend Mass at a nearby Church. They pray the Rosary daily at this parish before Mass and on Wednesdays have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After Mass I return to the cottage and we head off to the beach. I like to read on the beach and am now reading a book called Consoling the Heart of Jesus. Great Book!

 One of my sisters is here with her family and my brother and parents are back and forth depending on their work schedule. We have all been having a great time! Family, fun, and can't beat that!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Black Sheep Dog or Beloved Child of God ?

"Far worse than a good man who falls are the vultures who prey on him."

This post has nothing to do with Father Corapi's guilt or innocence and everything to do with our response to his situation. I read a comment left on someone's blog today that said, "Trial by blog is a curious thing. Personally, I would prefer trial by Canon Law."  I have to say, after reading a few articles about Father Corapi (one of which has been removed) that this comment well describes what often happens in the Catholic blogosphere whenever a new scandal arises. To be truthful, I am often more scandalized by the lack of mercy which is often aimed at those who fall than the fall itself. All that I can surmise from some of the comments that lean toward the cruel side is that - either the person making the comment somehow escaped the repercussions of the fall of Adam and Eve and has never fallen into sin or that they are so angry that they can't be impartial when they read about these scandals. My greatest fear is that a few of the negative comments may stem from glee over a man's possible fall from grace. The way a few are worded certainly can leave one with this impression.

Father Corapi may be guilty of the accusations against him, I do not know. What I do know is that this man should be "prayed for" rather than "preyed on". If the accusations are true, does this negate the incredible work this priest has done and the thousands of souls he has brought to Christ? Are there many who have listened to him  that have NOT been moved into a deeper relationship with the Lord through his words? Are we really surprised that satan unleashes huge attacks on priests? I am not defending Father Corapi's actions if he is guilty, I am saying that Jesus loves Father Corapi and died on the Cross for him and all the rest of us sinners. Father Corapi is a sinner, I am a sinner, you are sinner and as Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Prayer should always be our response in these situations. All priests need heavy duty prayer support. During this month devoted to the Precious Blood may we ask the Lord to cover these shepherds in a special way and may we plead the Blood of Christ upon each and every one of them.

"Am I my brother's keeper?" Gn 4:9

"So on we go, his welfare is my concern
no burden is he to bear, we'll get there.
And the load doesn't weigh me down at all.
He ain't heavy...he's my brother."  

(Lyrics by The Hollies)                   

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Tortoise and the Hair

I attempted to get this post up yesterday but, unfortunately, the Tortoise is on vacation with me. The Tortoise is our ancient laptop which works so slowly that this post that was supposed to go up yesterday decided to wait until today. He's a stubborn little critter and needs a lot of coaxing. I threatened to toss him in the trash so he decided to cooperate with me today. I updated the post a bit and instead of wishing everyone a "Happy Independence Day" yesterday:

I  hope everyone HAD a wonderful July 4th! We are on vacation at the seashore for the next two weeks and you wouldn't believe how packed the beach was today (errrr, yesterday, that is) - they predicted a crowd of 150,000 to 200,000 on the local beaches today (yesterday) and I think the forecasters were right on target. We were packed like sardines! Crowded beaches aren't my favorite thing but Michaela wanted to go to the main beach today, so we agreed. Yesterday (the day before, actually) we went to a much more secluded spot. Randy fished, the kids played, and I read on the beach. I did dip my feet in the water but they instantly went numb (those who live in the Northeast know what I mean) so I hobbled back to my chair and let the kids turn into ice cubes along with my husband. Charity, in my case, does not extend to walking out of the ocean with a ice cube stuck to your nose. (The Lord certainly agrees with me on this one - He knows all about walking ON TOP of the water rather than in it. Peter on the other hand....)

Oh yes ...the hair. I forgot about the hair. Likely it will have all fallen out by the end of the summer so perhaps I need not worry about it after all and can begin anew :)

I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

In honor of the Sacred Heart

I owe my conversion to the most merciful Heart of Jesus. Here is my conversion story in verse:

The Weeping Rose
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hiding behind my fig leaf

Cowering in the shame of Eve

I, too, consumed fruit forbidden

Sweet to the lips; bitter to the soul

And mourned outside Eden's gates

An earthen vessel, Adam's seed

Lost in the dust of time

A rose wilted for lack of the Son

"Where are you?", echoed in my soul

At the faintest, "here i am"

A broken arrow, a crooked bow

Stood before the Mercy Seat

Unbathed, covered with grime

Unrecognizable to all but You

Your eyes pierced through the filth

And saw the swan in the ugly duckling

You tucked my heart into your side

Two hearts beat as one

And in this Sacred Chamber

A weeping rose unfurled her first petal
You can find my written conversion story here - Heart of Jesus Infinite in Mercy - or perhaps I should say that this is where it all began, because conversion is a lifelong process. Many of you have already read this but I have never quite ceased being amazed at the tremendous gift of mercy I have received and I am putting up the link in honor of Jesus' Sacred and Merciful Heart. The gift of mercy He gave me changed me forever and I will always be grateful for his love and kindness.

Jesus, my heart is forever yours.

St. Margaret Mary and St. Faustina

I've always been struck by the similarities in St Margaret Mary's revelations of the Sacred Heart and the revelations to St Faustina of the Divine Mercy of this same Heart. I've always felt that the words of Jesus to St. Faustina were a  "completion" of the messages He gave to St. Margaret Mary. The words are very similar in nature and I believe were meant for our times. Mark Mallett has written a post called
 The Last Effort  concerning these two great saints and the cohesiveness of the messages for the world given to them by Jesus himself.