Thursday, January 8, 2009

Do You Hear Me?

O.K. So I've left you hanging for a long while. I can't guarantee I won't do it again. I felt moved to post for anyone out there who may still check in once in a while. I have a story to share with you, and it is a story of faith. It is a long story, so get a soda, go to the bathroom, do whatever you need to do before you settle in to read the rest of this post.

It begins my senior year of high school. I had a religious ed teacher I absolutely loved. She was new to the school that year, and I have no clue where they found her. All of us students were certain she was beyond rich. If I remember correctly, I think she really was married to a brain surgeon, or maybe it was a rocket scientist. Either way, she had money, and it wasn't from her teachers salary. I am not exaggerating when I say she honestly NEVER wore the same outfit twice that entire school year. She was the nicest, sweetest, most down to earth, caring, compassionate, rich person I ever met. Although I don't think I have ever actually met anyone else who has as much money as I believe she did. She also had a very strong faith in God, and even more so in the Virgin Mary. She told us many stories of visions people had of the image of Mary shedding real tears in all kinds of different places. I can't remember the specifics of any of them, but I remember thinking at the time that some of these stories were pretty far fetched and unbelievable. But she obviously adored the Virgin Mary, and somehow, somewhere, something must have rubbed off on me. I remember she taught us a prayer called The Memorare. I don't know why this prayer always stuck with me, but it did. I have never forgotten it.

Many years later, many of us were gathered at the hospital waiting for a miracle to bring Brittney back to us. The doctors had given us one last glimmer of hope after many days and nights of nothing. As we all stood there, I asked everyone to join me in saying The Memorare. (At least that is how I remember it happening. If someone else initiated it, I apologize. A lot of details from that time have blurred into each other.) Anyway, as we all gathered in prayer, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of strength and faith. But The Lord works in mysterious ways, and he called Brittney back to him. I was hurt, angry, disappointed, and felt betrayed. I don't want to get into all of that too much, because it took me to a sad, dark, lonely place that I never want to visit again.

Shortly after all of this, there was a new pastor assigned to our church. Something wasn't right about him. He didn't seem as compassionate and understanding as a priest should be. He would hurt peoples feelings, and their faith, and it didn't seem to bother him. Again, I felt betrayed by the Church and the God I was taught to believe in. I drifted away from the church. I pretty much stopped attending all together. I wasn't sure what I believed in anymore.

Even after all of this, I still managed to hold onto something. Whenever I found myself going through a difficult time, or facing a difficult decision, I prayed The Memorare. I asked Mary for guidance, strength, patience, compassion. Reflecting on it now, I guess it made sense. Mary made the ultimate sacrifice in giving her Son to God. I guess I felt a bond with her, and she was something I could still have faith in.

After many years of absence from the church, I have tried to get back for the sake of my children. Regardless of what I do or do not believe, I always felt it was important for my children to have a faith to believe in. I tried to go to church on Christmas, Easter, and the occasional Sunday in between. I tried to teach my children that it was important to love and have faith in God. Yet, I still did not really feel it myself.

But slowly, things have started to change. Our church again has a new pastor. I was there the first Sunday he said mass. I wanted to be there to see what kind of priest we got this time. As he said mass, he seemed sincere in his faith and in his words. He was warm, funny, and passionate about his beliefs in God. But when he requested that the church join him in honoring the Virgin Mary by praying the Memorare, it brought tears to my eyes, and I thought of how many times I used this prayer to ask for help. I felt a sense of belonging that I hadn't felt in a long time. Our new pastor invites us to pray The Memorare at every mass now. Though I haven't made it to mass every week, I am making an effort to go more often.

Tonight I joined a few others to pray the rosary for a young woman my age who is struggling with her fight against breast cancer. She has been in my thoughts and prayers often these days and so has the rest of her family. I can't begin to imagine how difficult this must be for all of them. After we finished praying the rosary, the Brother who led us in prayer said he wanted to say a special prayer for Jena. And so he began The Memorare. Again, I could feel the tears fill my eyes as he said this prayer that has become so dear to me over the years.

As I drove home, I realized that this one prayer has been my one true link to God over the years. It seemed odd to me that it is suddenly popping up everywhere I turn. And then it occurred to me that perhaps this prayer that I used for so many years to call for help was now being used to call me back to my faith. I felt a sudden awaken and awareness. It was like one of those "Ah ha!" moments you hear about but never experience. I felt like God was asking me "Do you hear Me?" and I had to answer Him, "Yes, I hear You. I get it. "

I would like to end my post there, but I feel compelled to ask anyone who is reading this to keep Jena and her family in your prayers. If you would like to pray The Memorare for her, the words are listed below.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Dangers of an SUV

Let me start by saying I ALWAYS make sure I know exactly where all my kids are, and the neighborhood kids too, before I EVER back my truck out of the driveway! I have heard the horror stories, and I do not want one of my kids to become the victim of carelessness. No matter how much of a hurry I am in, I always take the time to make sure I know where the kids are.

That being said, Yesterday I was quite busy after the kids got home from school. I couldn't tell you exactly what I was busy doing. But I was supposed to pick Kate up from her friend's house at 4:30, and I remembered at 5:20 when we were getting ready to leave for baseball. Austin was finishing mowing the front lawn so I was going to hurry and get her from her friend's house, then come back and get ready to leave for baseball. I counted heads. Austin is on the front lawn with the lawn mower. His friend is across the street on his own front lawn. Shannon is in the house finishing her homework. Kyle is dressing for baseball. Kate is at her friend's house. Emily is in the car with me. Everyone is counted for, so I hurriedly back out of the driveway thinking Kate's friend's parents must wonder what kind of mother I am. Leaving my child an hour later than I said I would. I am flustered and my head is spinning. I never saw it, I never heard or felt the car hit it. It wasn't until I saw the look of shock on Austin's face that I realized, I ran over the garbage can full of grass clippings.

It had been sitting in the middle of the driveway. I knew it was there, but I forgot and I couldn't see it in my rear view mirror. The scary part was that I never realized I hit it. This was a big garbage can and it was full and heavy! It was bigger and heavier than a small child would be. It was a BIG reminder of how important it is to always be cautious when driving these SUV's. They are powerful machines!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Nice, Hot Shower??

I sent the kids off to school this morning and took care of a few things on the computer. Emily started getting fussy, so I laid her in my bed for a nap. I have to admit, I was a little tired so I laid with her for a while. My husband called and said he was coming home from work early today and thought we could go out for lunch. I decided I couldn't go out without a shower, so I finished up what I was doing earlier and then headed to the bathroom.

As I got in the shower, I thought about how nice it is to just relax and enjoy a shower for a change. I don't have to hurry and get ready to go anywhere. I don't have any kids pounding at the door because they need to use the bathroom. I don't have to rush out of the shower to break up a fight between a few of the kids. I can actually ENJOY this shower! At some point I heard my husband come in the front door. I knew he had some things to do before we could go to lunch so I continued to take my time. As I finished my shower, I turned the water up nice and hot and just stood under it. I contemplated staying there until the hot water ran out. Then I noticed it! I felt something on my neck. It felt kind of like a "skin tag". I don't have any skin tags! I grabbed it with my fingers and gave a little tug, but it was attached to my skin! I pulled open the shower curtain and tried to look in the fogged up mirror. All I could see was a small dark spot on my neck. But I don't have any beauty marks there, not on that side! I screamed for my husband to come help me. He yelled that he was in the middle of something, and was I OK? I yelled back to him "Yes, but I think I have tick on my neck!"

My husband comes up to the bathroom, takes one look and so sweetly says "Yep, you sure do!". Followed by, "Where the He-- did you get that?"

"I don't know." I told him, "But would you please get it off?"

"I don't know how to remove ticks." he tells me.

By this point I am getting extremely upset about the fact that there is a BUG stuck to me. I am not upset at my husband who is remaining pretty calm, but moving much too slow as far as I'm concerned. I am just kind of freaking out a bit. I suppose by this point I may have raised my voice, though I was trying to remain calm. I'm pretty sure I screamed something along the lines of "I don't care how you remove it, just get this thing OFF OF ME!"

He did manage to find a tweezers and pulled the tick out, head and all. The nasty thing was still alive and wiggling in the tweezers. GROSS!

I have no idea where it came from and how it got on me. I remember that I put on my winter coat this morning when I took the kids to school. My coat had been thrown in the back of the truck where the kids have been throwing their baseball bags and other stuff that has been who knows where. The only thing I can think of is that it must have been brought into the truck from somewhere else, found it's way onto my coat, and ended up on my neck! But just thinking that it must have been there all morning without my knowing still gives me the shivers.

After my husband saved me from the tick, he decided he needed to get online to make sure he did everything right. We were reassured that he accidentally did everything exactly as he should have, except for one thing. Apparently rather than flush it down the toilet, we needed to keep the tick in a jar. This way if I develop a rash, weakness, confusion, shortness of breath, or paralysis we can show it to the Doctor. I'm not sure how that's going to help, but I'll try to remember that in the future. For now, I guess if I have any symptoms the Dr. will just have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mom's Overture by Anita Renfroe

If you are a Mom, or if you know a Mom you have to listen to this!

Words to Mom's Overture

For those of you who may have missed a phrase or two, I am publishing the words Anita Renfroe wrote for "Mom's Overture".

Get up now, get up now, get up out of bed.
Wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your sleepyhead.
Here's your clothes, and your shoes. Hear the words I said.
Get up now, get up and make your bed.

Are you hot, are you cold, are you wearing that?
Where's your books and your lunch and your homework at?
Grab your coat and your gloves and your scarf and hat.
Don't forget, you've got to feed the cat!

Eat your breakfast, the experts tell us it's the most important meal of all.
Take your vitamins so you will grow up one day to be big and tall.
Please remember the orthodontist will be seeing you at three today.
Don't forget your piano lesson is this afternoon so you must play!

Don't shovel, chew slowly, but hurry, the bus is here!
Be careful, come back here, did you wash behind your ears?

Play outside, don't play rough, Would you just play fair?
Be polite, make a friend, don't forget to share.
Work it out, wait your turn, never take a dare.
Get along...Don't make me come down there!

Clean your room, fold your clothes, put your stuff away.
Make your bed, Do it now! Do we have all day?
Were you born in a barn, would you like some hay?
Can you even hear a word I say?

Answer the phone, Get off the phone.
Don't sit so close, turn it down, no texting at the table!
No more computer time tonight!
Your iPod's my iPod if you don't listen up!

Where you going and with whom and what time do you think you're coming home?
Saying thank you, please, excuse me makes you welcome everywhere you roam!
You'll appreciate my wisdom someday when you're older and your grown.
Can't wait 'till you have a couple little children of your own!

You'll thank me, for the counsel, I gave you so willingly.
But right now, I thank you, NOT to roll your eyes at me!

Close your mouth when you chew, would appreciate
Take a bite, maybe two of the stuff you hate.
Use your fork, do not burp, or I'll set you straight.
Eat the food I put upon your plate!

Get and A, get the door, don't get smart with me!
Get a grip, get up here, I'll count to three!
Get a job, get a life, get a PhD!
Get a dose of ...

I don't care who started it,You're grounded until you're 36!
Get your story straight and tell the truth for once for heavens sake!

AND if all your friends, jumped off a cliff would you jump too?

If I 've said it once, I've said at least a thousand times before
That YOU'RE too old to act this way, It must be your father's DNA!

Look at me when I am talking, stand up straighter when you walk.
A place for everything, and everything must be in place.
Stop crying or I'll give you something REAL to cry about!

Brush your teeth, wash your face, get your Pj's on.
Get in bed, get a hug, say a prayer with mom.
Don't forget,
I Love You!

And tomorrow we will do this all again because a mom's work never ends!

You don't need the reason why!
Because, because , because , because
I said so, I said so, I said so, I said so!
I'm the Mom!
The Mom, the Mom, the Mom! The Mom!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Life Happens...

...And so does death.

As I prepare for the death of Gram, I have been looking for answers and explanations. Not so much the why's. We all know Gram is 89 years old. Her body appears old and fragile. For many months now she has fought the good fight. She has lived a very happy and fullfilling life. That's not to say she didn't go through any hard times. She just was always able to look beyond her troubles, knowing that God has a greater purpose for her and all of us. I think it is HER great faith that has brought me to where I am today. I am not afraid to let her go. I cry tears of sadness because I will miss her terribly. I cry tears of joy because I know she will finally be reunited with God, Aunt Dorothy, Brittney and all of those who went before her.

The answers I am looking for I have not yet found. What is keeping her here? She has said many times she is not afraid to die. Many of us have felt at one point or another over the past few days that Gram was trying to tell us she is leaving and that she is OK with that. Don't get me wrong, I am not anxious to get rid of her. I cherish every moment I have left with her. But I am anxious about not knowing when she will go. It is this anxiety that got me searching the internet for answers. I Googled "Death and Dying". Then I Googled "The Dying Process". I read a lot of interesting things, but I did not find the answers I was looking for.

I suppose there are no answers, and the best we can do is continue to be here for Gram and each other as long as she needs us to be. I find strength in Grams faith and knowing that one day I will see her again. And I suppose that is what draws me to the following story I found while surfing the internet last night. I would like to share it with you.

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

”Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: ‘Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Poetry Wednesday

Here is this weeks winner for Poetry Wednesday. I hope the weather warms up again so the kids can STAY outside!

Out-of Doors

The kids are out-of-doors once more;
The heavy leggings that they wore,
The winter caps that covered ears
Are put away, and no more tears
Are shed because they cannot go
Until they're bundled up just so.
No more she wonders when they're gone
If they have put their rubbers on;
No longer are they hourly told
To guard themselves against a cold;
Bareheaded now they romp and run
Warmed only by the kindly sun.
She's put their heavy clothes away
And turned the children out to play,
And all the morning long they race
Like madcaps round about the place.
The robins on the fences sing
A gayer song of welcoming,
And seems as though they had a share
In all the fun they're having there.
The wrens and sparrows twitter, too,
A louder and a noisier crew,
As though it pleased them all to see
The youngsters out of doors and free.
Outdoors they scamper to their play
With merry din the livelong day,
And hungrily they jostle in
The favor of the maid to win;
Then, armed with cookies or with cake,
Their way into the yard they make,
And every feathered playmate comes
To gather up his share of crumbs.
The finest garden that I know
Is one where little children grow,
Where cheeks turn brown and eyes are bright,
And all is laughter and delight.
Oh, you may brag of gardens fine,
But let the children race in mine;
And let the roses, white and red,
Make gay the ground whereon they tread.
And who for bloom perfection seeks,
Should mark the color on their cheeks;
No music that the robin spouts
Is equal to their merry shouts;
There is no foilage to compare
With youngsters' sun-kissed, tousled hair:
Spring's greatest joy beyond a doubt
Is when it brings the children out.
-Edgar Guest