Monday, March 26, 2012

Lenten check up

So, how's lent going for you?  Have you kept up with your promises you made?  The things you gave up?  The "extras" you promised yourself you would do?

If you haven't, it's not too late!  Even if you have kept up with what you intended to do, but perhaps feel that maybe it "isn't enough" -- there's still time!  Add something else into the mix!

These forty days were meant to strengthen us as Catholics.  We give up in order to receive, we do extra in order to please God, and hopefully ourselves.  We want to do what is pleasing to God, even though sometimes it is hard!

I had the pleasure of attending "Cast Your Nets" last night in McCartyville.  This is an annual gathering of the youth from the northern part of our diocese, in an effort to foster vocations.  It's always fun to go to -- to see old friends and to see my kids make new ones.  There was prayer, and song, reconciliation, and, of course pizza.  Fun night.  My favorite part came last.  Mass.  Honestly, I'm not really a night time mass person -- I find I pay much better attention first thing in the morning, but I usually go to this mass because of the energy.  This year, Bishop Binzer was the presider.  I've really come to like this man.  He's fairly new to his position as Bishop (I think right at a year), but has come to fill the shoes perfectly.

His homily was spot on.  Firstly, his homilies are straight and to the point.  I like that!  He was discussing a couple of items with everyone in the congregation, but the one that struck me most was his talk about giving up and doing extra.  He mentioned that he gave up March Madness this year (hearing his schedule, I'm not sure he had a choice :) -- but I thought that was a fun thing to give up.  He also said he enjoys doing "extra things".  He didn't really say what he likes to do extra, but did mention taking time each day to write down (either on paper or electronically!) something that you are thankful for.  A word, a reading, a person, a song....whatever.  Big or small.  You may be thankful for the daffodil you saw when leaving your house in the morning.  Or that red light that you had to stop at, for it prevented you from being in an accident.  Whatever it is, write it down and be thankful for it.

And then, in two weeks on Easter Sunday, you will have a list of 14 things you are thankful for.  You can look back on them and review them.  Then start again!  But keep the old list.  Think of all the things you could come up with in a year.

I've been reading a lot about thankfulness lately.  It's an interesting thing.  If we center ourselves more on what we are thankful for, our lives as a whole begin to improve.  It's a fact.  When we dwell on the negative, it makes our lives way more negative.

So let's try this.  Can you do it for two weeks?  I can.  I've started my list on my iPhone.  (See?  I'm thankful I know how to make lists there!  LOL)

Have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another year done.....


I always say I look forward to the last night of religion each year.  I guess in a sense I do, but I also dread it.  I like getting my Wednesday nights back (somewhat), but also realize that another class will have come and gone after CCD.

Well, tonight was the night.  Officially, there is one more week (contrary to what I told them last week!).  But tonight was our last night as a "class".  Next week is a group activity.

We had "Stump the Priest" night.  A few weeks ago, I had the kids list questions on a card -- any question that they felt they had not had answered while in class any of the years they were in CCD.  Normally, I thumb through them before I give them to Father -- it gives me a sense of what we are missing when we are teaching -- but this year I just didn't have time, so I gave them to him without looking at them (I guess in hindsight that could have been dangerous!). 

This class impressed me so very much with the questions they asked him.  Big, grown up questions about life and their faith, and decision making, and prayer.  I actually asked Father at one point (jokingly) if these were really the questions they submitted or if he made up better ones!  LOLOLOL

We had a beautiful discussion tonight.  A discussion that I wish every Catholic would be able to have with their priest.  An open, frank discussion about our church, our beliefs, our lives.

The bell even rang to indicate the end of class, and noone moved.  They said we could go on as long as we wanted.  They were enjoying themselves.

At the end of class, we discussed the future.  The fact that this is "the end" of formal education, doesn't mean that this is the end of their formal religious education.  Hopefully, they will all be life-long learners.  I challenged them to meet up with like-minded people wherever they land next.  Find Catholics at college that will go to church with them and keep them on the right path.  Make friends with other Catholics (not only Catholics, but have them in the mix!) to help remind them of their faithfulness to their faith.

And about that time, my eyes started leaking again :).  We ended, as we always do, with prayer.  I asked if anyone wanted to lead, and, as usual, had a volunteer.  We prayed, first him singularly, then the Our Father as a group.  And it was over.  They left.  We exchanged a few hugs, but it was over.

Or so I thought. 

I came home and did the usual.  Checked the shower schedule, made sure teeth were brushed, etc.  Sat down to watch a little American Idol (Heejun cracked me up, but that's another day!). 

I started reading Facebook and saw a private message pop up.  I clicked on the link, saw who it was from, and smiled.  I received the nicest message from one of the kids tonight -- just a thank you and a long distance hug.  A super sweet and super nice note.  Not at all necessary but very much appreciated.

If you are a parent of one of these senior kids, be so proud.  They are awesome kids. 

As much as I hate to see them go, I'm so excited for them and their new futures. I'm excited to see where life will lead them. What challenges and surprises life has for them.

I left them with an idea for next week.  I want them to challenge their underclassmen with something.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

In my opinion, all they would have to do is point to themselves and say "Beat this"!  :)

God bless, you class of 2012!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random videos

The other day, I turned my phone on.  It immediately opened to youtube.  I was curious what video was on, because I don't really watch youtube on my phone unless one of the kids wants to show me something.....too hard on my eyes :)

So I watched.  And giggled.  Because the video below is what I saw.

Some day, my house will always be picked up.  The dishes will always be in the dishwasher.  The laundry will always be done.  (Who am I kidding?  That will probably never happen!).  And, my phone will always be mine (and Jim's).  But I'm pretty sure I will not smile as randomly as I do now when videos like this come forth.

Thanks, Harry, for making me smile.  I love you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shoes tell another story....

I'm not sure what ever provoked me to do so, but when I was a little girl, one of my sacrifices every Lent would be to give up "watching people" during communion time.  Instead, I would spend that time (then) just looking down or around.  It was fun for me, because we always sat in the front of church.  So, rather than see who was in church or what they were wearing, I would look down.  Then, on Easter, I would look around again!  It was wonderful, and magnificent to see everyone there.  And what a great day to "come back" -- everyone dressed in their Easter finest.  So fun!

I haven't done that for many years, but decided this year that I was going to try it once again.  I have to start this with the caveat that I am a Eucharistic Minister, so sometimes I don't have the ability to do this (somehow, I think it would be rude to look at the ground inbetween distributing!  LOL).  But the weeks that I am not, I am full-force looking down, and entering into serious prayer during communion time. 

I always pray after I receive the Eucharist, but, I have to admit, that sometimes I become distracted......thank you God, for this beautiful gift......ooooh, look at her cute earrings!!!  Nice shirt!!!  Oh, look who's in church -- I haven't seen them in so long!!! 

So this Lent has been VERY interesting for me.  Somehow, we have nudged ourselves up to normally sit in the front pew at church.  My whole life we have sat at the front of church, something Jim and I easily carried on when we had our kids because, let's face it, kids behave better in the front of church.  They can see what's going on, pay attention, and, if you can get them to look ahead, there is nothing to distract them other than what's going on on the altar!

Kneeling in the front pew after communion has put a whole new perspective on things for me.  I try to close my eyes, but I'm not really a closed eye person.  I can for a bit, but then I must open!!  So, I find myself looking at the floor.  In prayer.  A pretty awesome feeling, actually.  I find that by not watching anyone, I am able to enter into such a deeper prayer.  I love it.  I have about 10 minutes (I would guess) of uninterrupted prayer time, while having the Eucharist within me!  Awesome!

I have had an interesting thing happen, though.  While looking down, the only thing I can really look at are people's feet.  More specifically, their shoes.  What a story people's shoes tell.  Are they fashionable?  Are they comfortable?  New?  Old?  Men's?  Women's?  So many shoes.  Although I don't keep track, it's interesting that you really don't see two pair of shoes that are alike.  Of course, this isn't summer with flip flops and all, but still......

I find myself wondering where the shoes have been?  What kinds of stories could they tell?  Why did the person pick them out in the first place?  I've been so intrigued, I can't wait until the next time I'm at church to see the next bunch of shoes and wonder about their story. 

So what about you?  How's your Lenten promise going?  (I have to say that I'm still holding strong to no Diet Coke.....but that has NOT been easy!)  LOL

Finally, I looked for a video of a song about shoes tonight.  I couldn't really find anything that would work well, but did find this video that our girls think is so funny, so I thought I would share.  It doesn't really relate to this post.  At.  All.  :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I've sprung a leak

I have a confession to make:  sometimes, at the oddest times (and many times, at the most inopportune times!), I spring a leak.  Maybe not the leak you are thinking of, but I spring a leak.

I have what I consider the gift of tears.  I know that there are times in my life that people choose to stand on the other side of the room from me, because they know that the event we are at will cause me to start crying.

There are other times -- what I consider "normal" times -- that I can be in normal conversation, and my eyes will start leaking.

I had just that experience tonight.  I was dropping off our daughter, Emily, to stay with Sarah for the balance of the weekend at the University of Dayton for Little Sibs weekend.  Becca was able to go down on Friday with two of her cousins, but work and drama club prevented Emily from travelling until this evening.

We made a plan to meet out for dinner.  What I thought was going to be a "quiet" supper for 7, ended up being a little larger -- 10 to be exact.  The cousins were there, plus another cousin (Jean), and two of their friends, who were also in town to celebrate Little Sibs weekend (but whom had no larger sibs present -- still a mystery to me :)

We stopped to pick up Becca and Sarah from UD.  Now, let me tell you that it was Saturday night around 7 pm when we were picking them up.  I really hadn't considered the life of a college student very well, I guess, because I hadn't really thought of what "activities" we might see on our way in, passing by the apartments and such.  I did ask Abby to cover her eyes when I noticed a young man on one front porch wearing nothing but a button down shirt (which was unbuttoned) and underwear.  That's all.  Oh, he was holding a Red Solo Cup (and probably singing the song of the same name -- although we wouldn't know because I didn't have the courage to roll down the windows.  LOL

As we approached the dorm, aside from the shock I was still in, I was rolling some words around in my brain that I'm not quite ready for.  "Picking Becca up from college" doesn't work quite yet for me.  (She's a freshman in high school if you don't know her personally.)  I had heard she had fun on Friday evening, so I was anxious to hear what stories she had to tell (or maybe more specifically what stories she had that she would actually tell her mother!).  She had some fun ones, but, in an effort to hear more from her sometimes, I will refrain from repeating them here.  Let it suffice to say that she had good clean fun.

We drove a few miles to meet up with the others at a local Chipotle.  My first thought upon entering this restaurant was that I was the oldest in there by a mile, and, conversely, Abby was the youngest in there by a mile!  Agh, the fun of being the "mom". 

This was them there (it would be "us" but someone had to take the picture!  :)

Shortly after this picture is when I sprung my leak.  It was time for Abby and I to go home, and leave the girls to their fun.  I want you to understand that it certainly wasn't that I didn't want them to have fun.  Anyone who knows me, knows I appreciate fun.  :)

It was just that I suddenly realized that sooner (much sooner, I'm afraid, than I'm ready for!) than later, this will be my life.  I will be "visiting" with my children instead of "living" with them.  I've been really ok with Sarah being gone this year, as I think I will be with all of them, when they are at a place that they love, living the life they want, doing the things they dream of. 

And, when the time comes, I'll be ok with it for Emily, and Becca, and eventually, Abby, Harry, and Will.

But for now, I'm going to continue to recite the poem that has been swirling around in my head for the past few weeks.  I'm not really sure why (or how!) I came across it again, but it certainly rings true for me this weekend!

Cleaning And Scrubbing
Can Wait
Till Tomorrow...

For Babies Grow Up
We've Learned
To Our Sorrow...

So Quiet Down
Dust Go To

I'm Rocking
My Baby,
And Babies
Don't Keep.

(And, I guess when they are grown, I will have to stop blaming my weight on "baby fat".  Until then, though.....that's what it is!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cardinal Dolan on the HHS Mandate

I don't think I have ever done a blog that was simply a re-post of an article.  However, I just read this letter and it makes me sick to my stomach what the administration (I use that term loosely) is doing.  Please read.  I don't really know what else we can do, other than pray for some sort of turnaround.  President Obama, you scare me.

Cardinal Dolan Voices Dismay at Handling by White House in Letter Updating Bishops on HHS Mandate Controversy

March 2, 2012
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York voiced dismay in the Administration’s handling of the church as the White House and the church seek to work out religious freedom problems found in a mandate in the new health care reform bill.

The mandate drew church ire when it required that all employers, including religious ones, pay for contraceptives – including abortifacients – and sterilization for employees despite church teaching against them.

He also promised to provide educational materials to parishes and to pursue legislative and judicial efforts to restore respect for religious freedom in the nation. Given church concerns about religious freedom, Cardinal Dolan wrote, “the President invited us to ‘work out the wrinkles.’ We have accepted that invitation. Unfortunately, this seems to be stalled: the White House Press Secretary, for instance, informed the nation that the mandates are a fait accompli (and, embarrassingly for him, commented that we bishops have always opposed Health Care anyway, a charge that is scurrilous and insulting, not to mention flat out wrong.”)

Cardinal Dolan also said that “The White House already notified Congress that the dreaded mandates are now published in the Federal Registry ‘without change.’ He added that “The Secretary of HHS is widely quoted as saying, ‘Religious insurance companies don’t really design the plans they sell based on their own religious tenets.’ That doesn’t bode well for their getting a truly acceptable 'accommodation.'"

Cardinal Dolan also described a recent meeting at the White House between bishops’ conference staff and White House staff, and said “our staff members asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. They were informed that they are. So much for ‘working out the wrinkles.’ Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the ‘enlightened’ voices of accommodation, such as the recent, hardly surprising yet terribly unfortunate editorial in America.”

“The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers.”

Cardinal Dolan also said “We will continue to accept invitations to meet with and to voice our concerns to anyone of any party, for this is hardly partisan, who is willing to correct the infringements on religious freedom that we are now under. But as we do so, we cannot rely on off the record promises of fixes without deadlines and without assurances of proposals that will concretely address the concerns in a manner that does not conflict with our principles and teaching.”

He added that “Congress might provide more hope, since thoughtful elected officials have proposed legislation to protect what should be so obvious: religious freedom. Meanwhile, in our recent debate in the senate, our opponents sought to obscure what is really a religious freedom issue by maintaining that abortion inducing drugs and the like are a ‘woman’s health issue.’ We will not let this deception stand. Our commitment to seeking legislative remedies remains strong. And it is about remedies to the assault on religious freedom. Period.”

Cardinal Dolan added that “Perhaps the courts offer the most light."

Cardinal Dolan warned the bishops that “given this climate, we have to prepare for tough times. Some, like America magazine, want us to cave-in and stop fighting, saying this is simply a policy issue; some want us to close everything down rather than comply (in an excellent article, Cardinal Francis George wrote that the administration apparently wants us to ‘give up for Lent’ our schools, hospitals, and charitable ministries); some, like Bishop Robert Lynch wisely noted, wonder whether we might have to engage in civil disobedience and risk steep fines; some worry that we’ll have to face a decision between two ethically repugnant choices: subsidizing immoral services or no longer offering insurance coverage, a road none of us wants to travel.”

Cardinal Dolan added that “we know so very well that religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief, both as loyal Catholics and Americans. There have been many threats to religious freedom over the decades and years, but these often came from without. This one sadly comes from within. As our ancestors did with previous threats, we will tirelessly defend the timeless and enduring truth of religious freedom.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pay attention!

I'll say it again.  What a week.  Now we can add the awful tornadoes in Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee to the list of scary things this week.  Our thoughts and prayers head straight for those 12 people that died in the tornado (and their families, too).  Tornadoes are one of the things that scare me the most, because of the inability to prepare for them.  Becca has always been deathly afraid of them, too.  We are not a good combination!

I feel like, in our area at least, the school shooting in Chardon on Monday was overshadowed by the fire at the Fireside Pub here in town.  The fire was scary and very real to all of us -- and closer, so it took over our lives.

However, that doesn't change the fact that three young people lost their lives that day.  Randomly.  Because of a student who, for whatever reason, thought it would be easier to shoot them up than talk to someone, or deal with whatever was going on in his life.  Of course, I don't know him, or his family, but in the face of all of this, I hurt for him, too.  I wonder what he was going though.  I wonder if someone could have helped him if they had shown him they cared.

I read this very interesting note from the superintendent of the Chardon Schools:  "Talk to your kids. Don't text them. Don't Facebook them. Talk to them."  It makes me wonder what they think this young man's motive was.

It got me to thinking, though.  How many times don't I text my kids because it's easier?  Of course, there are always the "necessary" (are they ever really necessary???  LOL) texts, "Can you pick your sister up?"  "Can you start dinner?"  (My favorite) "Where are you?" 

I try really hard to connect with each and every one of our kids every day.  Some days are much much harder than others, with all of the schedules colliding, but even if it's 10 pm, I ask how their day was, or what went on at school, or whatever.  Hoping that if something is wrong, it will come up during the course of the conversation.

Yesterday was an "anniversary" of sorts for my friend, Kathy.  She posted the following on Facebook:

‎24 years ago the structure of our family changed forever. If you don't believe the devil is real and chases us think again. The last year's of his life Brian was chased relentlessly. His decision was almost unbearable but he is with God and at peace.
If you know someone suffering with thoughts of suicide and don't know what to do, find help for them and you!! The world doesn't need any more tragedies like ours or like those in recent days.
May God bring peace to all hearts this day!!!

We need to pay attention.  We need to listen.  Bullying and suicide are real.  And are really happening.  We need to listen before it's too late.

God bless all those affected.