Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas thoughts....

Thinking (for obvious reasons) a lot about Christmas lately -- I know I said it last  year, but I'm going to say it again this year -- we work really hard to make Christmas about the "reason" and not the "stuff".  No one in our house lacks for anything (although they might beg to differ with you) -- if they need something, they get it (and oftentimes more than they need).  So, we try to focus on why we celebrate Christmas.

I shared with you last year what we were doing with our lists, and I want to share again -- lots of people have asked me recently what that was again, so I feel it's worth bringing out again!  When our kids make their lists, we ask them to group them in these four ways:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read.

Simple.  They can make lists within the lists, but those are the four categories (of course Abby's list includes a Kindle under 3 of those categories, thinking that might help her cause!).

For a long time, we tried to stick with three gifts (an unwritten rule, just in case!).  It was hard sometimes when the kids were real little, because many of their gifts weren't valued at much.  We do not really try to spend the exact same on each kid (I would go insane) -- but I do try to make sure that if someone has an extraordinary Christmas one year that they do not the next year.

What are your traditions?  I love this time of year -- everyone is so excited!!!

Finally, I found this the other day and think it's perfect:

May you and your family be blessed through this Holiday season!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wedding......Colorado style!

Jim and I were invited to his cousin's wedding in Colorado in September.  I blogged about the weekend prior, but wanted to wait to blog about their beautiful wedding until I had a chance to talk about our CCD class about marriage.  I wanted to talk a little about this wedding because it touched me so deeply.

The groom was Jim's cousin. There is a fairly large age difference between Jim and his cousins on his dad's side, because Jim's dad and his brother are something like 10 years age difference. So, when I met Greg, Lisa, and Mike, they were all little people running around -- sitting on Santa's lap and such. It's been fun to watch them grow up from being the cutest kids to being absolutely amazing adults. 

Their parents taught their kids to be go getters, reach for their dreams, and think independently (pretty sure that's why they would never listen to me and go to OSU :).  This has proven to be an awesome game plan for all three of them -- with the exception (for me) that they now live all over and we don't get to see them as often as we would like!

Greg and his sister Lisa had both been dating people for a little while (how would I know how long?  LOL).....when one weekend I got a call that little Greg (haha!) had gotten engaged to the beautiful woman he had introduced us to at Christmas, Cat.  I couldn't believe it!  How exciting that they were getting married.

A week or so later, I ran into Ed at Subway one day and he told me he had something fun to tell me.  When I asked what it was, he said that Lisa had gotten engaged as well!!!  Well, goody!

These two both grew up near us, but chose to have destination weddings as they were getting married in the cities that they now called home (is it called a destination wedding then?)  Lisa was getting married on Labor Day weekend in Seattle and Greg two weeks later in Colorado. 

One look in our checkbook and around at our kids quickly made up our minds that we would only be going to one of the two weddings.  We talked it over with the rest of Jim's family, who all agreed that we would divide and conquer.  It ended up that Jim's brother went to the Seattle wedding (which I heard was beautiful!) and Jim's mom, brother and his wife, and Jim and I would go to the wedding in Colorado.

Silverthorne is a newer town -- a ski town that is growing at a very rapid pace.  Because of that, they were building a brand new Catholic church in town.  With any luck, the church would be done for Greg and Cat's wedding (which it was).  They did finish a little later than expected, though, so although it wasn't planned that way -- Greg and Cat's wedding was the very first wedding to take place in the new church.

We drove past the day before to get our bearings and figure out where the church and the reception was.  We noted that it was at the foot of a mountain -- with a gorgeous Rocky Mountain backdrop.  Breathtaking.

When we arrived at the church on Saturday, we got our first glimpse inside.  What we found was a BEAUTIFUL church -- with a beautiful crucifix as the centerpiece of the altar.

However, the sheer beauty of the church could not have prepared us for the beautiful ceremony we were about to witness.  Not having been around Greg and Cat much, I had not had the opportunity to watch their love grow -- but let me tell you, it was beautiful to watch them express their vows before God and all of us.  I always tell people that I LOVE to see the groom see the bride come down the aisle and see the huge smile come over their face (and Greg certainly didn't disappoint -- it was as if his nerves calmed down as soon as he caught sight of his beautiful bride!).

The thought that they gave to every little detail of their wedding was so impressive -- they left no stone unturned.  However, the thing that touched me most -- dare I say brought a tear to my eye (surprise!) -- was at communion.  Greg was given the body of Christ, and then the blood of Christ -- but then took the cup, and, as his first gift to Cat as his wife, gave her the blood of Christ.  What an awesome gift!  In the end, Greg distributed the cup to his family/side of the church, and Cat did hers.  What a fantastic idea! 

To me -- starting out your married life so ingrained in your faith can only prove to make your commitment to Jesus and each other that much stronger.

The reception following the mass was equally well-thought out.  From the beautiful talks from Greg and Cat (they are right -- we DID want to hear what they had to say about the wedding!) to the nice gesture of handing the bouquet (as opposed to tossing it for any random person to catch) to the next bride to get married.  What a beautiful day!

(As a side note -- the appetizers, dinner and dessert were fabulous.  And while Margaret and I loved trying a few new drinks, we LOVED the water that was on the table at dinner.  I don't know if it was fresh spring water or not -- but I drank a LOT of it and would have bottled it and brought it home if I could have!)

And in case everything else I've written doesn't help you to think this is a beautiful couple, here is one of their wedding photos.  Absolutely breathtaking!

Congratulations Greg and Cat! 
He's come a long way from the little tyke I met so long ago -- but one that has grown into such a wonderful human being.  And, since likes attract, married someone equally as wonderful as him.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what life brings the two them.  One thing is for certain -- there will be lots of adventures!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A few thoughts about marriage -- our CCD classes

My sincere apologies -- this post is WAY overdue!!!  I've been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, so I decided to slow down on my writing here and concentrate on the things I needed to get done.  Now, they are done (at least I FEEL caught up!  :) -- so here I am.  I wanted to give this one all I have because I think it is so awesome.

We started our new CCD year in September (see how far behind I am???) -- after a couple of introductory weeks, I, along, with my friends, Steve Pulskamp and Amy Fullenkamp (I have to admit they are the brains behind this operation!), planned a CCD class around the SACRAMENT of marriage.  We were discussing our goals and all of us felt very strongly that we as a society are getting away from the SACRAMENTS and protecting them.  We wanted to talk about the beauty of being married (vs. living together) and how it enhances the marriage once you are married.  We also wanted to exemplify married life as the beautiful thing that it is, while also discussing the trials and tribulations we come across along the way.  Finally, we also wanted to talk to them about while they will probably all have beautiful plans of their lives and how they want them to go, that God has the ultimate plan and will sometimes take you along paths that aren't necessarily in your plans.

Our first class was truly about the sacrament of marriage -- reading scripture to discover what it says about marriage, have group conversations (basically about the Family of Origin and how people figure out how things will work in their marriage) -- and finally, a discussion with Father Tom about how he and the church view marriage.  I have had him give this talk before, and always love it -- he is very frank about what he sees when people who have been living together come in to meet with him before they get married vs. people who have not.  One thing is he sees freshness and newness and more excitement with those who have not lived together.  They are ready to start a whole new life!!!  So exciting!

The second class was really fun.  We invited three couples to come in and talk with the kids about their marriage.  We had newlyweds (since March), a couple who had been married 25 years, and a couple who have been married 50+ years (I would remember how long, but that was so long ago.....LOL).  We started the evening playing our own version of "The Newlywed Game" -- asking them questions such as where was your first date, what kind of car was he driving on your first date, when was your first fight as a married things like that.

Our third and final class was a very touching class.  There is a couple in our parish who, between the two of them, have been through more than any one person should have to experience.  But, they have taken their crosses and showed them for all to see, making shining examples of what Christ's soldiers truly look like.  Their story is way more than I can write here, but the shortened version is that they both lost their spouses to cancer, he right after his wife gave birth to their second child, and she a year or two after.  They were neighbors and acquaintances but found themselves there for each other.  Eventually realizing they were meant to be together, they got married, formed a new family and a new life together.  They are super neat people who I have known WHO they are for a long time, but am just now really getting to know them.  And man, do I feel blessed!  Such awesome people.

These classes were fantastic.  And it had nothing to do with those of us that planned them.  It had everything to do with those who came in to talk to the kids.  One mom said her 17 year old son came home and relayed the last couple's story to her turn by turn.  They were touched.  They were listening.  I hope that they are able to remember those words when it's time for them to find their partner and realize it's always God's plan, not their own!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect Women Retreat

Ah.....a couple of days just for ME -- and my friends -- and other women from throughout celebrate nothing more than being the very best imperfect women we can be......

I spent last evening and this morning at a retreat at the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein at a retreat titled "The Perfectly Imperfect Woman".....what a wonderful retreat!

I have always loved retreats -- you take a few things out of your life for a bit and focus on a few other key areas -- this weekend it was removing husbands and kids and replacing them (temporarily!) with prayer, reflection, and laughter!

I was asked a few months ago to be a speaker at this weekend's retreat.  I was thrilled!  I love to talk (lol) -- especially in front of groups -- I enjoy helping people find the best version of themselves! 

I have to admit that last night I was shaking in my shoes for a bit!  I was speaking directly (and I mean directly!) after my friend Kimi, and as she was speaking I was trying to figure out ways to get out of speaking.  I thought of holding up a sign and saying, "Keep going Kimi!" -- or leaving the room :) -- or any number of other ways I thought of to get out of speaking. 

Why did I want out?  Because as Kimi was speaking, I watched her shine shine shine -- she is such an eloquent speaker who was really getting her points across -- she knows the bible inside and out and was quoting scripture verse after scripture verse, reading from her very organized index cards (which were clipped together in I sat and held my few scraps of paper I had scribbled a few notes on.  The more she spoke -- I kept reorganizing my talk --- still trying to hatch my escape plan.

But -- I was foiled again -- because, before I could get the heck out of dodge, she introduced me and it was my time.  Yikes!  I was so worried I was going to fall flat on my face.  I even pointed out Kimi's beautiful note cards aside of my scraps of paper!   LOL

I love speaking at retreats, though, because women are there to listen -- to whatever you have to say.  They are eager to listen, and to learn, and to grow from their experience.  Might I even say they are hungry for their fairth -- and to nurture it.

So I didn't get booed out of the room and everyone seemed to enjoy it -- even the part where I told everyone about my sister-in-law taking my young children to their very first bar!

The other parts of the evening were just as wonderful -- with mass, celebrated by my friend, Rev. John Tonkin, always a beautiful way to celebrate any occasion - -but even more beautiful last night.  I had the gift of getting a "communion/sign of peace" hug from my friend, Mary, who had come in from Cleveland for the weekend -- and who brought me to tears by the sight of her.  Mary and I were Resident Assistants together at Ohio State, and then lived together for several years after college.  Since that time, our only really chances to be together are when we run into each other at the Ohio State Fair when our kids are competing, so we really only have a few minutes until one or the other needs to get to be with our kids.

I have said it before and I will say it again -- the true test of friendship is when you can be absent from one another for long periods of time and still pick up without missing a beat.  We were able to do that this weekend.  And we laughed.  Boy, did we laugh.  (I'm pretty sure the wine we were "tasting" helped out a bit, too!)  Our friend, Joyce, was there as well, and she had some fun memories to share, too!  I truly have not laughed that hard and that long for a long time......and it felt so good!

I told everyone during my talk that it occurred to me that Mary was one of those people I sought out at the beginning of one of my years at school to go to church with me -- I tell my kids, and also my CCD kids to do the same -- find other Catholic kids at the beginning of the year to go to church with you and "keep you honest" :) -- so it was an amazing thought to me to think how far we've come -- from going to church and breakfast during college, to celebrating this weekend.  What a wonderful gift!

I "roomed" with my friend Melissa, so we got to chat at other times.  I love sharing my faith with my friends -- it really brings your relationship to a whole other level.   She is such a gift in my life and I appreciate her so much!

When we finally rolled into bed (around 2 am, which is late for this girl!) -- we set our alarms for 7 am -- breakfast was at 8!  I wondered how this was going to work -- I'm not used to these hours!  But, I was on autopilot because it was a "special" time -- and hit the snooze once until Melissa yelled at me to get out of bed......and we were on our way!  Dressed and in search of coffee to start the day!

A couple of speakers in the am -- my friend Jamie Schmiesing, who has such a brilliant way of making her super busy family life seem so doable for anyone (I couldn't do it!) spent a few minutes reflecting on morning times at her home; and Joan Kiser, whom I have written of before -- she runs the Neurological Center in Fort Recovery -- brought her client, Rick, with her to share their story of how God sometimes has other plans for your life.

All in all, a super spectacular weekend celebrating with friends old a new.  I can't wait for November 1 & 2 next year, when we will do it all over again!  I hope that you will take time now to mark your calendar and join us!

Mother Teresa Quote from the Retreat

I had several requests for the quote from Mother Teresa that I used last night in my talk.  I told you I would post it, so here it is!  I will write more about the retreat later.  :)

“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”


Friday, November 9, 2012

A Post-election Reflection

I've been wanting to write this for a couple of days, but have not had the chance.  I wanted to give my thoughts on the election that the United State just held, the results, and general meanderings.

However, I want to start with a caveat:  I don't mind discussion about this, as long as it is respectful.  It is my blog and I reserve the right to remove your posts (not in a fit of censorship) if you do not treat others with respect.  We are all friends here and while these are my thoughts and you may not share them, please be nice.

I, like many others, sat on my couch Tuesday evening listening to the results come in.  I was full of hope that "my guy" (Romney) was going to pull off a win and start steering this country back in the direction it needs to go.  The direction our forefathers wanted it to go.  A God centered nation, that was fiscally responsible, but also cognizant of the rights and needs of the citizens (both born and unborn) of this great nation.

I did my homework (although, truthfully, there wasn't much to do for the Presidential election -- our current President could not be veering farther from my ideals if he tried).  But I read, as I always do, about plans, and ideas that each candidate brought forth.  I like to consider myself an Independent voter -- I don't vote straight party lines, but rather vote based upon the candidate who best represents my ideals.  I was raised a Democrat -- my father was a farmer and a union worker, so we didn't have much choice -- but have honestly found over the years that the Democrats don't represent my values any longer.  My father, in his later years, had voted Republican himself due to the changes within the party.

But I digress.  I prepared myself.  I tried to watch many newschannels to get a well-rounded view of both candidates -- which I quickly found was impossible.  I remember a time when the news channels gave the news -- now what we see is a skewed view of the news -- showing their bias toward their particular side.  It was maddening at times -- I'm sure from both sides, but especially from my point of view -- MAJOR stories were not released or even discussed (Bhengazi comes to mind).  I hope (probably in vain) that there are some changes in the way stations handle the news in the coming years to balance the storytelling a bit.

I even attended a rally in Mitt's honor -- at the Shelby County Fairgrounds -- home of many great memories for me -- and now one more.  There were so many people there that I could not even get close -- which was ok with me because I felt it was a strong showing and a great "problem" to have!

So, in the weeks leading to the election, I saw many great things -- I saw three Presidential debates, in which one candidate looked very presidential and had positive answers to many of the questions -- and our current sitting President relying on the Press to haul him out again because he wasn't used to speaking for himself.  

I saw a Vice Presidential debate that certainly told me which candidate I wanted to run the country in case the President couldn't.  There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted Paul Ryan to be the back-up.

I voted on Tuesday.  I waited until after work, because Will really wanted to go along.  And I wanted him to have the experience.  He asked lots of questions while I was voting -- first and foremost, he asked (very loudly) where I was going to vote for Mitt!  I heard a few chuckles around us, and showed him, then explained to him that we don't announce who we are voting for -- it's frowned upon.

As we watched the returns Tuesday night -- I had this sinking feeling early on.  I don't know why -- I hadn't heard any exit polls -- but I just didn't have a good feeling.  And, apparently, I was right.  The further the night went on, the sicker to my stomach I felt.  What is America thinking? is all that went through my mind.  We have a failing economy, a horrendous & scary proposed healthcare system that does not protect life (and, as I found out today -- also does not cover infertility treatments -- so it will pay to destroy life but not to help create it -- which begs to ask why it doesn't just support adoption?)....and, most scary to me, a President who does not appear to value God and family.

I am fearful.  I am scared for our future as a county.  I am scared for my children's future.  I am scared for Jim and I.

So I went to bed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed.  All the while thinking and wondering what I could do.  How could we handle this?

And, as always, He came through.  I have been hearing the word "time" for quite some time now -- and heard it again loud and clear Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning.  

It wasn't time.  We need to wait.  All will be revealed in His time, not ours (totally the hardest thing for me!). He has a plan and is waiting to enact it.  Eventually, it will all make sense (I hope so!).  

I found it interesting that one of Wednesday's readings was:

1 Phil 2:12-18

My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,

children of God without blemish

in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

He does ultimately have a plan.  He's telling us that!  We just need to wait.  And pray.  We need to pray for President Obama and the entire administration that they lead this country in a direction that will ultimately enhance our lives (everyone's).  We need to ask God to give him the grace to do his job and work with the Senators and Representatives to come up with some resolutions.  We need to ask God to help him realize his mistakes when it comes to religious freedoms.

But I'm impatient.  Did you know that?  And, it's very hard to pray for someone that you rarely agree with.  Maybe that's His point?

I leave you with these parting words:

I'm comforted to know that things didn't look so good when Christ was hanging on the cross. (from Brittany Brown, daughter of my friend, Kimi) 

Great point, Brittany.

Monday, October 29, 2012

God Lives Under the Bed!


I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. 

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed....' 

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in. 

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.
He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. 

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? 

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. 

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. 

He does not seem dissatisfied. 

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. 

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.
And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.
And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.
He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.
His life is simple.
He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.
His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.
He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.
He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.
He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.
Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.
In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.
It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.
It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.
Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.
And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.
Kevin won't be surprised at all !

I heard a very interesting story the other day by a blind man.......he said it's interesting to figure out who people are when you're blind.  I have to rely on instincts a lot.  You see -- I don't know race, I don't know beauty.  All I know is what comes out of people's mouths and what's in their heart!  I was reminded of all of this this weekend as I sat in the pew listening (and proclaiming!) the readings for the weekend....and then heard Father's homily.

He was discussing how Bartimaeus asked for one simple thing -- to be able to see.  But did he really want to see with his eyes, or his heart, and his spirit?  So often, when we see things with our eyes, we miss the real point, or the real meaning of something.  I have often heard that you don't see blind people who are overweight -- because they stop eating when they are full, not realizing that there may be an entire table of food right before them!   How does that compare?  I think it compares in a big way -- you get what you need.  Do I want to be blind?  Of course not.  I don't think anyone wishes they were -- but those that are do indeed have some special gifts.

Father closed his homily yesterday with a very interesting phrase that I promised myself I wouldn't forget -- so someone made a meme to help me remember (not that they made it for me, but I'm using it!):

I hope to never forget this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Exciting Announcement!

I am THRILLED to announce to you that I have been asked to be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Perfectly Imperfect Woman Retreat to be held at the Spiritual Center in Maria Stein on November 9-10.

Last year was the first year this retreat was held and the organizers were overwhelmed with the number of registrations they received.  They thought they would be happy if 50 women came out.  I remember Robin Goettemoeller texting me more than once telling me the registrations were coming out of the woodwork!  Women were hungry to be fed the word of God -- and titling it Perfectly Imperfect Women was "perfect"!!!

My friend Kimi Brown and I will be discussing "Modern Day Imperfect Women"......hmmmm.....why were we chosen?  LOL  It's not like I just threw my clothes in the hamper because I had spaghetti sauce all over them.  LOL

The evening will start with mass -- I have heard the presider is "awesome" and cannot wait to experience his mass.  Kimi and I will speak directly afterwards, and then I will be doing a presentation on "four ingredient meals" -- probably with samples.  Fr. Dan Schmitmeyer has fed directly into my recipe selection this year -- so we are good to go with recipes!

Of course wine is on the agenda for the evening!!!

In the morning, I will be sitting on a panel discussing "tweens" -- the fun times in life!!!  :)  Women looking for  someone to discuss their "woes" with -- and there will be panels for all age groups!  My friend Jamie Schmiesing is also speaking first thing in the morning -- can't wait to hear what she cooks up to talk about -- she is amazing!

I've attached the flyer in a new section I made up above called "upcoming events".  Click on that and then you can click on the flyer to see times, etc.  I'm really impressed at the price of this event -- it includes an overnight stay if you want -- and meals while you are come join us if  you can!!!

(And, I've called it upcoming events plural because maybe, just maybe, you'll be seeing me speak other places.)  God is so freaking good sometimes!!!  :)

Are you coming?  Let me know if I should look for you!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Forty Days for Life

I'm a little behind.....I wanted to post this at the beginning of the prayer time, but I just haven't  had time to sit down at the computer!

Catholics for Life celebrate with regularity "Forty days for Life".....praying Novenas and other prayers to protect the sanctity of life.  Starting on September 26, they started an extra special 40 days -- it's the last 40 days until the the election.  Electing a President who respects life is very important to most Catholics, so they have joined together in prayer to support the election of a President who does just that.

If you have not heard of this and would like to participate, I have a link for you.  It's a Novena to St. Jude.  Now, I have to tell you that I firmly believe that simply the power of prayer will help our cause as well.  So, if you don't want to pray this prayer for whatever reason, please just commit to praying each and every day until November 4 for a "Pro Life President"!

Here's the link if you want to pray the Novena to St. Jude:  Click Here

I'm trying very hard to not get down by the polls I'm seeing and hoping and believing it is skewed journalism.

Prayers for Romney/Ryan!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes it's the little things......

I wrote a little last week about our little getaway to Colorado.  I wanted to share with you a few more things about our weekend away.

We went to the wedding of Jim's cousin, Greg.  Now, let me tell you when I first met him, Greg was "little Greg".  I remember him dancing at our wedding like it was yesterday -- crazy man on the dance floor.  He had a GREAT time!

Well, "little Greg" has grown up and created a great little life for himself out in Colorado.  I remember teasing him when he was in high school that he should go to a "good school" (meaning OSU) -- but he chose University of Dayton instead.  Don't tell him, but I think maybe it was a good choice for him!  He found some really great friends there, and got a great education that has led him to be (from what I hear) a pretty awesome management consultant.

Let me back up for a minute.  I want to explain a few family dynamics to you.  Jim's dad only has one brother (Ed) -- and Ed and his wife, Jean, have three children.  They live 5 miles from us, which means their children grew up 5 miles from us.  So, what do you think the odds are that two of their three children would get engaged really close together?  I don't know what they are, but it happened.  I was still excited from the first engagement (Greg & Cat) when I heard the news that the second engagement (Lisa and Jehu) happened!  How exciting!

We quickly found out that neither of the weddings would be held close to home.  Lisa and Jehu wanted to be married in Seattle, where they have made their life, and Greg and Cat chose to get married in Colorado, where they live.  A few discussion between Jim and his siblings and we decided to "divide and conquer" -- splitting up going to the weddings so that our family would be represented at both.

Jim and I decided pretty quickly to go to Colorado.  We hadn't been there before, and the wedding weekend was a little more flexible for us to get away.  We toyed with the idea of taking the kids, but decided this would be an adults only weekend.  His brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law, Margaret, would be going to Colorado with us, as would Jim's mom, Linda.  (His other brother Jerry and his wife Kerstin chose to go to Seattle).

While I know we would have LOVED Seattle, we LOVED going to Colorado!  We felt like kids again -- we dropped the kids off at school in the morning, and our flight wasn't out until 4 pm.  So, we took our time and went to breakfast, and packed the car, and left notes around the house before leaving to pick up the others to go to the airport.

We had a direct flight to Denver, which was nice.....we flew Southwest, which is quickly becoming my very favorite airline to fly.  When our steward came around to take drink orders, I joked with him and told him it was my 21st birthday and asked if I got a free drink.  "Of course, he said!"  I questioned him several times to be sure I wouldn't end up paying an arm and a leg for my drink but it was free -- and so was Jim's.  So, our trip was off to a good start!

We chuckled when we got to Denver, because it is so flat there.  "Where's the mountains?"  LOL  We soon drove into them.  Silverthorne, the town where the wedding was, is beautifully nestled in the foothills of the mountains.  I wasn't prepared for the quick sunset or the quick change in temperature though!  We checked in and said we would go back out afterwards and take some sunset pictures.  Well, that didn't happen that evening -- til we got up to our room and back down -- the sun was gone!  :(  We drove a bit to find something to eat and get our bearings, but returned to our hotel to get some rest for the rest of the weekend.

Friday we spent a good part of the day just driving around and seeing the sights.  We found a great little restaurant for lunch, called the Arapahoe Cafe -- it just looked fun to go into and see what they had.  We asked their specialty and they said "BBQ".  We all tried different things, but everything was so good!

We drove around a bit in the afternoon to find the church and the reception hall, and also where we needed to go later in the evening for the rehearsal dinner.  We saw tons of bicycles, and runners, and boaters....Jeff was looking for elk (we didn't see any on Friday) -- but I did find something kind of fun.  I was taking pictures of a lake and heard this noise behind me in a tree.  I thought it was a bird who was yelling at me to protect her young.  I quickly figured out that I was wrong.  I would hear a noise and then hear something fall from the tree.  I finally figured out that it was a chipmunk in a tree -- and it was throwing nuts at me to chase me away!  :)
Can you see the chipmunk in the tree?

I quickly left her (or him) alone -- I wasn't sure what might happen next!  When I turned around, this is what I saw:

I'm such a sucker for nature shots anyways, but man, I was in heaven!!!  And the beauty just kept coming!

This was at sunset on Friday night -- by the rehearsal dinner.

Here's the beautiful bride and handsome groom (and his brother Mike, too!)  I have lots more to say about their wedding, but will talk about it in my next post -- which happens to be about the vocation of marriage!  :)

Some honeymooners we found along the way

More honeymooners!  (Jeff & Margaret)

Jeff finally found an elk!!!

No, I take that back.  He found about 23 elk!  I couldn't get them all in one frame -- they were too spread out.  I can tell you that I absolutely did not know there were elk in FRONT of that fence as you see here -- I may not have captured as many pictures if I would have known that!  LOL

We had such a great trip.  The families of the bride and groom were such wonderful hosts, the scenery was fantastic, and the company was great!  I can't wait to see where our next adventure takes us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All kinds of wedding talk....

Sorry it's been a bit since I've blogged, but we've been a little busy around here!  As if working and the kids weren't enough, our new CCD year has started, AND.......<drum roll please!>......Jim and I went away for a few days -- withOUT the kids!!!  (But with my in-laws :)

So, as we get settled back in to our normal routine -- I will tell you that I have all kinds of blogging to do about our trip to Colorado -- from the beauty of the mountains, to the awesomely perfect wedding that we went to.....but I have to edit my photos from the weekend first.

So, until that time, I will catch you up on our current CCD topic -- because I LOVE what we are doing!!!

We are doing a unit on -- "Marriage as your vocation".  Meaning, out of everything you can "be" in this world -- choosing to be married.  And utilizing that vocation throughout your life.  It's so awesome!

We started last week by introducing the unit.  Our class is comprised of the Juniors and Seniors at church.  I am teaching with two others - Steve and Amy.  We have written this class "from scratch" and even after last week I feel like it should be saved and used again (contact us if you would like us to share!).

We started by talking about the sacramentality of marriage -- or, how important marriage is in the eyes of the church.  It is not to be taken lightly, or with a grain of salt -- this is FOR LIFE!!!!

We had some discussion -- did a little bible story, and then had asked Father to come in and talk with the kids about cohabitation before marriage.  He had talked to my class last  year at the end of the year (different kids :) -- and I loved his talk.  So, we asked him to do it again!  He knocked it out of the park!

Tomorrow we will hear from some old married folks -- hopefully in a fun way.  I''ll report on that later :)

For now, I would like to leave you with a really neat article I just read.  Someone "introduced" me to Steven Crowder a few weeks ago (for some really great videos, look him up on YouTube)......but here is his story, in his words, about his wedding and his wedding night.  I LOVE it!!!!

Getting Married the Right Way

Later this week:  update on tomorrow's ccd class, and hopefully an awesome blog about our trip to Colorado!!!  I can't wait to share!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another September 11 that we don't often hear of

Every year on September 11, I am reminded of the following story I heard one year at a Women of Faith Conference.  It's the story of someone going through her own personal tragedy, unrelated to September 11, but totally affected by it.  Tammy Trent is an amazing vocalist, but her story is incredible.  I always remember the "angel in the Hilton Hotel Dress".  We never know where we will see our angels.  I also think of how affected she was by the actions of those that drove their planes into those twin towers.  She certainly wasn't the target of their actions, but was forced to suffer because of them.  How many times doesn't that happen to us?  We are affected (or affect others) by actions that originally had nothing to do with us?  Long-term vision is required, not optional.

Love Story Lost

By Scott Ross
The 700 Club -- SCOTT ROSS: Where did you and your husband meet?
TAMMY TRENT: We met in our youth group when we where 15-years-old in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
SCOTT Was it love at first sight at 15?
TAMMY : For me completely. I turned around and this gorgeous, gorgeous guy was sitting behind me and I said to myself, "Oh Lord he is so cute and I look so ugly."
SCOTT: Was that a prayer?
TAMMY: It was for me. It really was, and it was one that was answered. I met him and found out that we were the same age and was completely taken by him and his love for the Lord. We were 15-years-old and this kid adored the Lord so much. It was so attractive to me at that age.
SCOTT: Were you allowed to date?
TAMMY: When I was 16. I couldn't date until then.
SCOTT: You had to wait a year
TAMMY: We did, but we did lots of things with our youth group and fellowship group and our parents, doing things together after church.
SCOTT: So you dated with 300 other people.
TAMMY: Exactly. I hated it.
SCOTT (reporting): But it was well worth it. Tammy and Trent fell deeply in love with each other. At the tender age of 22, they got married and vowed to love each until death parted them. They had their entire lives ahead of them to live and to love.
TAMMY: We got married on August 18,1990.
SCOTT: Was that a good day?
TAMMY: It was amazing.
SCOTT: In love, for real?
TAMMY: Completely.
SCOTT: A friend of mine wrote a song years ago that talked about the two becoming one and Jesus making you three. Somehow in there the mathematics works. Was that true of you?
TAMMY: Completely. The Lord was always the center of absolutely everything we did. Trent was stronger than I was in our dating relationship. He was stronger than I was. He was a man. There were times when I even struggled about being in love, and wanting to feel loved, wanting to be loved, moments of weakness in my life where Trent was always strong. He wanted to have a pure mind and a pure heart and he wanted it to be that way in our relationship. There were times when I thought, I can't take this anymore. He'd say, 'Girl, I love you. I know if we wait, God will have something special in store together.'
SCOTT: Are you glad you waited?
TAMMY: Now? Yes, completely. Even then -- definitely. I was weak, but he was strong. I would know every time when he'd say, 'Girl, I love you and I am thankful for you, but I know God's got something greater for us if we just wait.'
SCOTT (reporting): The purity of their love and their relationship was the beginning of a very strong marriage and ministry. Tammy's music career gave her a platform to share about her relationship with Christ, while Trent remained behind the scenes as her manager. Their lives were spiritually, emotionally, and professionally inseparable. Together, their life was filled with love and joy.
TAMMY: He just absolutely enjoyed life. This was a guy that never spoke a cross word to me. He always spoke life into my spirit. He never had anything mean to say to me ever in our 18 years of being together, 11 years of being married.
SCOTT: Not many women can say that about their husbands.
TAMMY: Never. There were times when I completely deserved it, times when I probably drew him to want to scream at me. He never would. And I'd ask, 'Why?' And he'd say, 'Because I never want to hurt you. I want you to always know love, and I never want to you to know hurt.' And he lived it. He lived it.
SCOTT: Trent was the kind of man who was passionate about everything he loved. Early in September 2001, he whisked Tammy away on a romantic vacation in Jamaica for some much-needed rest.
TAMMY: We had an amazing week together. I had given Trent a card that said, 'I feel like I have loved you forever' and you open it and it says, 'My heart tells me I have.' I wrote to Trent and said, 'Baby, I'm so glad to be here with you this weekend to have all your attention.' Our cell phones wouldn't work and our computers wouldn't work, so no one could reach us.
SCOTT: On the last day of their vacation, Trent, an expert diver, suited up to explore a famous body of water, the blue lagoon. Because he was free diving, he submerged into the deep without the use of an oxygen tank or snorkel.
TAMMY: He put on his wet suit and his fins and his mask and he grabbed the scooter and said, 'Tammy, will you take a picture of me?' I said, 'Sure.' I took a couple of pictures of Trent right before he got into the water, and I sat there on the side of the dock and I watched him, and I watched him swim away. I sat and about 30 minutes had gone by. I had been watching him go up and down. Thirty or forty minutes had gone by, and I realized I had stopped watching. I was kind of watching other people swimming and playing. There was a boat that had swum across that hole back and forth, and it took my breath away because I wanted to scream, 'There's somebody in there!' and I couldn't. I felt paralyzed, but it made me now start to watch for Trent. I was really concerned now, and I didn't see anything. I just stared at that hole for, like, 5 minutes, 8, 10, minutes and now I started to worry because, obviously, you have to come up for breath. I didn't see anything, and Trent would never do anything to scare me, so I thought something was wrong. I couldn't see anything. I kept having to fight fear saying, 'Oh Jesus.' All I could say was 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' I started asking, 'Please will someone give me a mask so I can go in and look for him: he's in that hole' because I kept thinking if he's in there, I could save him. The people around knew that I wasn't in that frame of mind to do that, so a couple of men went out looking for him. Then they called a dive team in and they looked for Trent for three hours. Each minute that went by I knew. I knew what happened. I was sitting in that office and I was all alone, nobody was a believer around me. I just began to lift up my hands and I began to praise God and I began to sing songs -- anything I could think of -- and I was just crying out to God. It's all that I had. My whole life I had been on the platform telling other people what to do in these times, and now it was up to me. What did I really believe? I knew that all I had was Jesus. I cried out to God and I started praying in the Spirit. I didn't care who was around.
SCOTT: The next day, on September 11, 2001, divers found Trent's body. They notified Tammy of her husband's tragic death early that morning.
TAMMY: All my family was trying to fly in to see me and be with me and the doctor had come in and said, 'Had you heard what's happened in America?' And I said, 'No, I hadn't.' He said, 'There's been some bombings, and there's been some explosions and some aircraft that have been driven into the towers in New York.' I ran into the other room and I saw that. I just couldn't believe it. I began to cry for these people and what was happening in America and what was happening in my life. I didn't understand. He said that nobody can make it. All the aircraft are grounded. I cried out to God again, 'Why what is happening?' I couldn't understand. Then I had gotten a call that my father-in-law had landed on the islands. He was the only one that had caught a midnight flight out of Los Angeles on a business trip. As I stood up, Trent's father walked in. He held me and we cried and it was at that point that I knew that my life was going to change forever.
SCOTT: This was Sept 11, 2001, and the whole world that you knew basically was caving in on you.
TAMMY: I didn't even have my Bible with me at the time. All I had was a Gideon Bible left in the hotel, but I would pen that thing like crazy and I'd find Scripture everyday that was perfect for me. I told God, I said, 'Lord, I can't handle any of this. I have got to have answers now. When I ask you for something, I need you to answer me. I don't have the patience to figure it all out. I don't want riddles right now. I don't want to go over a big old mountain to just get down. I just have to know now.' So I would ask Him something, and I would open the Word of God, and boom, right there was the answer. I would just begin to say, 'Thank you, Jesus.' One day I was alone in that hotel. I could barely walk, and I could barely see, and I was trying to make it to the bathroom. I just fell to the ground and I said, 'Jesus, I just need to feel just one angel holding me. Just send me one angel in this bathroom to love me in this room, in this place.' I was crying. I couldn't breathe. All of a sudden something stopped. I got enough strength to stand up and I walked into my room. And my bed had been a mess because I slept in the bathroom the night before and drug everything in there. I thought, OK, I just want my bed made. I waded into the adjoining room with my father-in-law, and I heard a noise. I looked in and there was a lady in the Hilton hotel outfit, cleaning lady, housekeeper, and I walked in and I was getting myself together and I said, 'Could you come in and make my bed?' She said, 'Oh, yes. I've been trying to get to you. I could hear you crying, and I have been trying to get to you.' She said, 'Can I just hold you?' And I began to cry, and I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Can I pray with you?' And I said, 'Yes.'
SCOTT: Really?
TAMMY: She came in and she held me and we cried and we prayed. I thought, It was exactly what I had asked Jesus for minutes, seconds before when I said, 'Send me one angel that would hold me.'
SCOTT: An angel in a Hilton Hotel dress.
TAMMY: In a Hilton housekeeping outfit. And there was this precious angel, and she held me and she cried and she prayed and we began to pray together. Then she let go and she said, 'I needed to get to you,' she said. 'I can tell you are grieving, and it's more than just a cry. You are grieving aren't you?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'You have lost somebody, haven't you?'
SCOTT: She didn't know?
TAMMY: No idea. I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Somebody you love very much?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Who?' I said, 'My husband.' I told her what happened, and she just broke. We hugged some more, and she began to clean my room.
SCOTT: There are obviously thousands of people who are identifying with you right now in this. Certainly the people are sharing your sorrow for those who died in the World Trade Center, the timing of all of this together. What do you say to them? Is there a hope for a future?
TAMMY: There is hope. There is a future. God's got a bigger plan than any of us know. He's not surprised by any of this. I'm shocked. He's not surprised. My faith has been built on Jesus Christ. My hope has been built on Jesus Christ. In times like this, my faith and trust in the Lord is somewhat being tested. What do I believe? Where is my hope? Where is my faith? God does have something greater for me. We talked about destiny many times. Was Trent's destiny to get me ready for something spiritually? He was always fighting for me to be in the Word of God. I don't know how much time we have left. You know, what happened to my husband Trent, was unbelievable, the timing of it just seemed so unbelievable. It's shaken my world so much to say that I am tired of playing a game. I'm tired of walking so close to the edge. It's like I want to live boldly for Jesus, so if I can use my voice today to tell people there is hope, there is life after death, but you have got to know Jesus Christ in order to make it there. I know I will see Trent again someday, but it is only because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. There is a lot of pain in this world and there is a lot of hatred. There is a lot of hurt. We are seeing it firsthand. All I can say is I just cannot imagine living without the hope of Jesus Christ right now.
SCOTT (reporting): So how do you make sense of such a tragic loss? Where is the fairy tale ending that 'they lived happily ever after?' Why would a loving God allow such a Godly, caring man to die so suddenly and tragically? The questions are endless. But maybe, just maybe, Trent's life was taken just for you. Maybe in the hour of your brokenness and pain you too, like Tammy, will cry out to the God of all comfort -- Jesus Christ. He is the God of all creation who came down to live and love among us. No other god or religious system made such a sacrifice. He personally knows pain, He knows suffering, and He knows grief. He still beckons us today with these words: 'All of you that are heavy laden, come unto me and I will give you rest.' That is His promise to us, and He sealed it with His blood.
From here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I don't wait any more.....

I just read this blog post.  I've never read her stuff before.  But you can bet your bottom dollar I'll read it again.

Waiting.  Chastity.  Waiting some more.

Please read this -- whether you're single, married, a mom, a dad, a girl, or a guy.  It's so awesome!

Then give me your thoughts!

Click here for "I don't want to wait any more!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Feast Day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Very rarely do I copy and paste a blog post.  However, today is the Feast Day of Mother Teresa -- who is probably the only saint (other thank Pope John Paul II) that we "know".  I love to read about her history and found this, with a lot of information that I did not know.  She surely was a woman of great compassion and little judging.  I only wish to be half the woman she was!  Please take a few minutes and read this -- her story is bound to touch you.

Today is the anniversary of her "birth in heaven" -- fifteen years ago we lost a woman who touched so many.  We remember her today in prayer and thanksgiving for her sacrifices for the world.

Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.”

This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal. A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.

On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.

During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, “the darkness.”  The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters. On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.

On December 12, 1998, Pope John Paul II granted a dispensation from the norm, and the inquiry for Mother Teresa was able to begin in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. The closing session of the diocesan inquiry was held on Aug. 15, 2001. The Acts of the Diocesan Inquiry consist of 80 volumes, each approximately 450 pages. This material was subsequently submitted to the Congregation for the Saints in Rome. So, even though an exemption was made for the period of waiting, no exemption was made from the formal process itself or from any of its steps.

On December 20, 2002, the decree of the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa (Monika Besra’s cure) was made public. So, only five years and three months after her death (on September 5, 1997), her beatification was announced, which is unprecedented in the history of the Church. Usually, the Church’s norms require a waiting period of five years after death before a Diocese can begin an inquiry into the life of the would-be saint.

On October 19, 2003, World Mission Sunday, a visibly moved John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, “whom I have always felt close to me,” before a crowd of 300,000 overflowing St. Peter’s Square, adding that she was “one of the most important figures of our time, one of the greatest missionaries of the 20th century.” More than 100 cardinals and numerous bishops accompanied the Pope as he beatified the world-famous servant of the poorest of the poor. The Holy Father established September 5 as Mother Teresa’s feast day — “the day of her birth in heaven.”

Some 500 Missionaries of Charity in their white-and-blue saris attended the ceremony, where the front rows were reserved for 3,500 poor. Also present were representatives of the Orthodox Church and two Muslim communities from Albania, since Mother Teresa was born to an ethnic Albanian family. Next to Sister Nirmala Joshi, Mother Teresa’s successor and superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, were the heads of other institutes founded by the new blessed. Also present was Monika Besra, the Indian woman inexplicably cured of an abdominal tumor through Mother Teresa’s intercession, who received Holy Communion from the Pope.

“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” – Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta