Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ignio: A new Catholic app!

At the beginning of the year, I got a new cell phone.  We looked through all the choices, and decided to go with an iPhone.  Everyone else in the house has an iPod (well, most everyone else) and I don't, so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.  It wasn't expensive (surprise, surprise!), so we went for it.

I have been having fun with it.  Finally I have unlimited texting!  :)  I'm trying to get used to typing on a screen, as opposed to a keyboard.  The girls have gotten some rather funny messages from me as I adapt to the screen and the spell checker.  For instance, Sarah asked one evening what we should have for dinner.  What I thought I typed was "grilled cheese and soup" came out as "Grilled.  Hesse and soup."  She busted out laughing and asked what I meant.  LOL

I've been looking for fun apps -- I did find a Project Runway one, which is fun -- so if you have any, let me know!

My friend, Alicia, recommended that I try out the Ignio app.  It's a Catholic app that encourages the user to "check in" when they are at church, lists the daily readings every day (and allows comments), has a place to list prayers (although right now I can only read and not respond, or list that I am among those praying).  One of the neatest things is that if you "bump" phones with someone else who has the same app, you can light a candle that will continually burn brighter!  So fun!

So, if you have an iPhone, add this app, and then add me as a friend.  It's pretty easy to navigate around and figure out how to do all of this, but if you need help, let me know.  We can pray with and for each other!

I'm pretty sure these are the kinds of things that Pope John Paul II had in mind when he said that we should use technology to evangelize!

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I love the Catholic faith!

Wednesday night, as I was in church with all the high schoolers, I was thinking how much I love our faith.  How much I love our traditions and rituals.  I know that some folks, who don't understand our faith (and even some who are Catholic!) don't always agree or understand some of them, but I have to say I love them!

Once a year, the classes gather in church for reconciliation services.  It's a time reserved for the high schoolers to spend time with a priest and reconcile their actions.  For some, it's a nerve-wracking time.....having to face their inadequacies, and sometimes, some poor choices they've made.  To me, it's a time to start with a clean slate and start anew!  I try really hard during these services to help "loosen them up" before they go.  To help them feel more comfortable.  To smile.  Because, when it's all over -- they are going to feel much better!

At one point, I was standing towards the front of the church and glanced diagonally towards the baptistry, where one of the priests was sitting with one of the youth.  I was so struck by the conversation I saw happening.  This youth, sitting down, having a conversation with the priest.  And the priest absolving his sins.  It was such a beautiful sight!

I know that many people question this activity -- going in front of a priest and telling him our sins.  Why?  They ask.  Why can't you just pray about them -- or tell your sins directly to Jesus in prayer, they ask?

My first question back is always, "How honest would you be if you did that?  And how often would you do it?" 

I do pray about it when I have committed a sin.  I ask for God's guidance to help me not commit this same sin again.  I ask Him to steer me in the opposite direction of where I just went.

I love the fact that we have confession because it forces us to come face to face with our poor choices.  And verbalize them.  And discuss them with the priest.  Gone are the days when we would give a list to the priest, get our penance, receive absolution and walk out the door of the confessional.  We have conversations now -- and I love it so much more.  I feel connected. 

Thank you, God, for understanding that we make mistakes.  And giving us a chance to try all over again.  Time and time again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An invitation

Some days, waiting for an invitation to an event you cannot wait to go to seems to take forever.  A wedding, a party, or some days, just an invitation to go to coffee with someone are all it seems to take to make our days go a little better.

In mass this morning, I kept hearing the word "invitation".  In the readings, the homily, it was everywhere.  I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that I jump at "social invitations" (as mentioned above), but somehow, when it is something God wants me to do, I have to think a little harder about it, and sometimes don't accept the invitation! 

Why is that, do you think?  Why is it so hard for us to accept an invitation from God?  Sometimes it's because we think we know what is best for us, and what we are hearing as an invitation is not necessarily what we want to do at the time.  I know that is very true for me.  I realize, know, and understand that God has a beautiful plan for me, and my life, but sometimes I'm afraid to trust it!  I think it's my need for control.  By turning everything over to Him, I relinquish control.

These thoughts were churning in my head today when the responsorial psalm started......."Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will."  Geesh, God, will you stop hitting me over the head with this stuff!  I got it!  I just need to sit back, relax, and listen.

So, I've been thinking.  And re-evaluating.  Last year, I posted a challenge on my Facebook wall to think of one word you would like to do this year to change your life.  Kind of like a New Year's resolution, only hopefully something that will change many aspects of your life.  I had a word picked out for this year, but am going to change.  Possibly because I was being hit upside the head with it today. 

My new word is:  listen.  I will listen more to what God is saying to me.  I will make an effort to listen more closely to my kids and husband and what they are REALLY saying to me.  Listen.  Listen.  Listen.!  It's going to be very hard for me -- because sometimes the listening part -- especially to what God is trying to tell me -- takes much longer than I want it to.  Because it's in His time.  But I'm going to listen!

What about you?  Do you have a word you want to use to change your life this year?  What is it?  How will it make a difference in your life, and the lives of those around you?

In honor of vocations awareness month, I would be remiss in not suggesting you listen to see if you hear God's call -- to be a priest, deacon, nun, mom, dad, whatever.  Sit back and listen.  Really listen.  Maybe he's still whispering his plan to you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mystery Trip

Every year, we try really hard to take our kids on a Mystery Trip.  We plan the trip, and they don't know when it is going to happen, or where they are going -- until we hop in the car (sometimes they have a hint when I have to have them help me find their bathing suits!) -- and throw them a map to guess where we are going!  Unfortunately for them, typically they will not be able to figure out where we are going.

Our first mystery trip (as many firsts in life) -- will probably always go down in infamy.  We loaded the kids up (they didn't even know I had packed suitcases for them!), and stopped at my brother's house.  When we left, we turned the "wrong way" out of his driveway to go back home.  So, we threw some maps in the backseat and had them figure out (eventually) that we were going to Columbus.  I had found some folks to meet up with over the course of the weekend -- cousins of theirs, and friends of theirs from when we lived in Columbus.  My favorite memory was when we got to the hotel, we "couldn't find the car".  I told the kids that I would ask the person at the front desk if they would give us a key to a room so that we could look out the window and find our car (all the while Jim had disappeared to drive it around to the hotel) -- they obviously didn't catch the exchange of money -- and when they saw Jim pull around, they were excited that we found the car!  LOL  After that, I told them maybe we should just spend the night in the hotel after our long day at the mall (we had gone to Easton).  THEN they worried that they didn't have jammies, and, much worse, their swimming suits to swim in the pool.  DADDY to the rescue!  He brought up their suitcases with everything included -- even the toothbrushes that they were NOT worried about!  :)  It was a super fantastic weekend that we have tried to recreate over the years.  We went to Indianapolis another time and spent the day at the Children's Museum -- which is awesome.

This year, I couldn't be quite as sneaky -- I had Sarah's college schedule to contend with.  So, when my niece, Beth, asked if we would like to go tobogganning with her husband, Greg, for his birthday, Jim and I said, "Yes!"  We planned it as a mystery trip -- although they had to pack, we just gave them clues on what to pack -- gloves, hats, warm clothes, change of clothes, and, of course, swimming suits!

We set out last Saturday morning for Angola, Indiana.  When we left, we threw the maps in the backseat, but they quickly came back.  They didn't care -- they were excited to be going somewhere!  The chatter in the car was wonderful.  They soon figured out that we were going to meet up with Greg and Beth in Fort Wayne, which is where they live.  Great, we said!  Of course, they were only half right.  So, we drove through Fort Wayne and headed north.  When we got close, Becca could stand it no more.  She finally took my phone from me and used the internet search feature to figure out what was close to where we were!  Tobogganing, she asked?  I'm not sure they all even knew what tobogganing was, even when she said it -- it's nothing we own, so, I don't know if they knew what a toboggan was!

After a quick lunch at Applebees to fill everyone up before we went, we met Greg and Beth at the Toboggan place.  It's called Pokegon State Park in Angola, Indiana.  The track is refrigerated, so weather really does not matter.  The hill is big and steep, and at the end, there is a mph tracker -- rumor has it that many of our toboggans were going 35 mph.  Yikes!

This is the beginning of the run.  After they come out of the gate, they would speed down past us.  I took lots of shots of random people, because we couldn't tell who they were until they were right by us!  I'm going to post all of the pictures on my Facebook site, but here are a couple of more.  I love the looks on their faces!  :)

My sister, Nancy, and her husband, Carl, met us there, too.  Carl wanted to toboggan with the kids, so he did.  We watched for a while, then Nancy, Beth, Fritz, and I headed inside to do some puzzles.  I, of course, had brought along my camera, so I went outside and took a couple of shots of the lake with my camera.  I love how the shots came out, so thought I would share my favorite:

I love my new little camera!  :)

We spent the evening with Greg and Beth at their home, eating pizza and having cake and ice cream for Greg's birthday.  Then we returned to the hotel for the mandatory swimming time!  :)

Imagine my surprise in the morning when I was walking down the hall to breakfast and heard someone yell, "Pam Kaiser!  What are you doing here?"  My friend, Amy, and her husband, Tom, had spent the night in the same hotel with a work party for Tom.  That was so fun!

We went to mass with Greg and Beth, and Nancy and Carl in the morning (although we sat in a MUCH different location -- we were a little late, so we sat, as the usher called it, "ringside" -- which meant we were front row with no kneelers!  LOL).  After that, we went our own ways.  I couldn't possibly be that close to a Target without stopping, so we spent a few hours there, then went to lunch at Fazoli's before heading home.

So, sadly, our Mystery Trip is over for this year (unless we have a surprise Mystery Trip!  LOL).  Time to start thinking about our next one!  However, it was a GREAT weekend, with many memories made!

I hope your week was just as fun!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Children are a gift!

“Each day you have with your child is a gift. You have just one life with each, so don’t let it get away. Pay attention and be mindful. You don’t have to resolve to do it—just do it. It’s right there in front of you.”―Betsy Brown Braun
I read this the other day and it really made me think.  Since going back to work almost 7 years ago, this was the first year I took time off between Christmas and New Year's, to spend time with the kids.  We didn't do anything fun or special, other than play with new toys, and have friends over, but it was time.  Precious time.  Time we will never get again.
Oddly enough, it's taken for Sarah to go to college this fall for me to realize this.  Suddenly, she wasn't in the other room reading a book, or chatting with her friends.  She was an hour away!  Don't get me wrong -- I'm so happy for her -- she's having a blast (and I certainly consider my college years some of the best years of my life!) -- but life just isn't the same. 
And I know in a year and a half, when Emily leaves for school, I'll be feeling the same way all over again!  Realizing it's a phase, but also realizing that life, as we know it, will never be the same.
It makes me sad to see people wishing their lives away.  Understand, I was a stay at home mom for 13 years, so I get it -- I understand that some days you just can't change another diaper, or pick up another Cheerio off the floor (attention Emily!), or the crying gets to you.  I get it.  But, as much as you can, grow with it. 
I heard an interesting reflection the other day.  Make a video.  A video of yourself.  In the video, talk to yourself as if it was 10 years ago.  What have you learned?   How are you different?
Then, video yourself and talk to the you that will be in 10 years.  What would you say?
I think it's a very interesting concept, and think I will try it.  I will let you know how it goes!
Because soon, memories will be all we have.
Hope your new year has been filled with lots of love and happiness so far!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How can we help our church?

I read this today.  I think it's important.  It's so easy for us to complain about things, to say that they aren't the way that we want them, especially with our own church.  However, upon reading this, it put it into perspective for me.  I'm just as responsible as anyone else for what is going on.  If I like it, I need to let someone know.  If I don't, I need to let someone know, but also bring a solution.  I LOVE THIS!!!

"My church is composed of people like me. I help make it what it is. It will be friendly, if I am. It will be holy, if I am. Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them. It will do great work, if I work. It will be prayerful, if I pray. It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver. It will bring others into worship, if I invite and bring them. It will be a church of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, of compassion, charity, and mercy, if I am filled with these same things. Therefore, with the help of God, I now dedicate myself to the task of being all the things that I want my church to be."

So, that brings up the question -- how can we help?

Monday, January 2, 2012

A year ago today.......

A year ago this morning I woke up to the phone call no one wants to receive.  My dad had passed away during the night.  Now, while this was not shocking news to me -- he was 83 and wanted so badly to be with my mom -- there was still that moment that grabbed me -- there would be no more chats with him about life, no more scribbling notes in his calendar for him to find at random times, and no more hearing him call me "Pamkin".

I am forever grateful to my parents for the many gifts they gave me -- none of which appeared under a Christmas tree.  They taught me what it means to love each other -- unconditionally.  They taught me to give of my time and energy until it hurts -- and then give some more.  They taught me to work hard -- and then play harder.  Work is the vehicle that provides your family money to live and be together.

Perhaps the greatest, and most meaningful thing they taught me was a sense of family.  I remember one of my nieces asking after Dad passed away if our family would still get together for holidays and vacations and such -- such an interesting worry.  She loves our family and wanted to be sure she would still get to experience that sense.  Oddly enough, even in their death -- perhaps because of it -- I feel as if our family is even tighter than before.

My parents were both pretty awesome people, if I do say so myself.  I have been amazed at how many people have mentioned to me in the past year that they worked with Dad on a job or a project, and how much they enjoyed it.  Some of these people worked with him 40 and 50 years ago!  Even in his death, he has taught me that people will ALWAYS remember how you treated them.

So today, while you are going about your business -- whether working, or cleaning up after the holidays, or getting your kids or yourself ready to go back to school -- remember that there are people out there who need you -- maybe it's just a smile or a loving touch, but they need you.  Don't be afraid to share your gifts!

This song has been on my heart this morning.  God's plan is so much bigger than we can see -- and woven throughout it are His many blessings.  We just need to wait out the plan to see what it holds for us!

R.I.P., Dad.  You're certainly on my heart today!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year.....

A brand-new year... to live; to believe; to give; to receive; to fall in love; to share a smile; to walk an inch; to run a mile; to dive into sunsets; to forgive; to forget; to love where you’re going; to embrace where you’ve been; to take a deep breath, close your eyes... and begin. May the new year be filled with love, adventure, and dreams come true.
Here it is!  It's yours to do with as you wish!!!  Don't wait for someone else, they won't live your life.  Make your dreams come true!

Mary, Mother of God, and Our Mother, too!

I oftentimes hear people from other faiths other than Catholicism wonder aloud why we, as Catholics, "worship" Mary, as we do Jesus.  I have tried to explain to many, some with positive results, some without, that we don't worship her in the same sense as Jesus; instead, we honor her as Jesus' Mother.

I ran across this article this morning, and feel it explains our relationship with Mary very well.  Please read it, especially if you have ever had these thoughts and wondered why Mary is so special in our lives!

So much of the confusion, dissatisfaction and sadness we experience day to day comes from our own struggles with “real life.” We need someone to help us look at our lives, to show us who we are, to help us become ourselves and to live fully. We turn with devotion to the “real life” of the mother of God so that, in seeing how Mary lived by faith, we might find the courage and grace to do the same, united with her.

Mary, the mother of God, is our mother, too. Just as Mary gave us Jesus through God’s grace,
so Jesus in turn gave Mary to the Church when he said to the beloved disciple, “Behold, your
mother” (Jn 19:27).

Adam was the only man in history who did not have a mother. God saw what a mess it got him into and made sure that it never happened again. As a result of Adam’s sin, God would save humankind, and salvation would have a mother.

St. Paul expresses his supreme fascination with the fact that the Son of God had a mother: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). It did not have to be this way; Jesus could have just “appeared” on earth like the Old Testament priest-king Melchizedek, who was “without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7:3). But God the Father intentionally and purposefully gave his Son a mother in the Incarnation. Why?

In his catechesis on Mary (Theotokos: Mary, Mother of God), Pope John Paul II says that Mary “has been granted an utterly special likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood.” The Father’s gift of the motherhood of Mary can, in a way, be linked to the Eucharist. The maternity of Mary becomes a unique means by which we are able to receive the Self of Jesus Christ more perfectly.

God gives a mother to his Son for us. Whatever makes God seem abstract, distant, aloof, elusive, unapproachable or intimidating is overcome in a mother. Although the theology of Mary’s maternity is rich and complex, its meaning becomes clear as we consider our own experiences. For example: When things go wrong, where would we turn without our mothers?

Dying soldiers on battlefields, it is said, automatically cry out for their mothers. Most likely they do not expect their mothers to “materialize” (the Latin word for mothermater—is the root of the word matter). But something profound in their experience of having a mother comes to help them in their hour of death. For good reason, we conclude the “Hail Mary” prayer with the petition: “Pray for us…at the hour of our death.”

God the Father provides that very consolation to the humanity of his dying Son. Being able to cry out to his mother may have made the torture of Christ’s death easier to bear. Mary’s presence at the cross gave Jesus even greater courage to embrace his crucifixion. And our Lord was further consoled by the fact that he could give us his mother to be our mother. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27).

If Christ had not given us his mother to be our mother, wouldn’t we have pined for such a relationship? In recounting her life, St. Teresa of Avila writes: “I remember that when my mother died I was 12 years old or a little less. When I began to understand what I had lost, I went, afflicted, before an image of our Lady and besought her with many tears to be my mother. It seems to me that although I did this in simplicity it helped me. For I have found favor with this sovereign Virgin in everything I have asked of her, and in the end she has drawn me to herself” (Collected Works). 

Even if we have had excellent mothers well into our adult lives, we persist in looking for that ultimate maternal mirror in which we can discover ourselves to our deepest depths. Mary, the mother of God, is the face we seek.

This morning in mass, Father spoke of naming our children and why we name them what we ultimately do.  Why did Mary and Joseph pick the name Jesus?  They did it because of the origin of the name, the meaning of the name.  "God's Salvation" would seem to be a fitting name if you were asked to carry the Savior of the World, wouldn't it?  :)

It made me reflect that I wish we had been a little more "in tune to our faith" when we named our children.  We knew we didn't want any "pop" names, but rather more traditional.  I know people who research the patron saint of their due date, or the godparent's patron saint, etc. -- we never did any of that.  However, when I think about our names for our children, in hindsight, I realize that there was a good deal of the Lord's hand in naming our kids.  Sarah was due on 12/29, so we always knew if she was a boy, she would be Nicholas.  We loved that we had it as a choice for each of our children.  However, if you glance at the roster of Kaiser names, you will not see a Nicholas!  It just never seemed to "fit", even when we were pressured to name the twins when we weren't prepared with names!  However, I would have to say after all this time that Harry has the perfect name for him.  He isn't a Nick, or a Nicholas....he's a Harry!  Even those little tiny miracles are so amazing to me!

I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy and prosperous new year.  If 2011 wasn't such a great year for you, it's in the past.  2012 is just waiting for us.  How will you make a difference?

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”—Unknown

I surmise we could also make this each YEAR we are born again......let's make it a great one! Happy new year!