Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Another Beautiful Baab Baptism

This past Saturday morning, we celebrated seven babies being Baptized.  I’ve been looking forward to this for months!  The silly sisters are now a foursome.  

A little more than two weeks after her rather quick birth, Daphne was Baptized by her uncle (Deacon) John in a beautiful ceremony that was much bigger than I’d envisioned.  Deacon Andy Ferguson led the service and John assisted. 

It was wonderful to see so many family members and friends gathered for the blessed occasion.  We didn't get a chance to take all that many photos, afterwards, since Daphne was hungry, but I managed to get a few cute ones.

Our celebration continued at a nearby pizza place called Vinny's.  The food was delicious, and Daphne was fine with all of us taking turns to hold her.  She's so tiny!

Jeff, Carl, Jess, Laura, and John are the adults. Daphne,
Livie, Vivi, and Sophie are the kids.
It brought back fond memories of when the twins were Baptized, and Kevin and I were asked to be their Godparents.  We share that responsibility with two of Carl's siblings: Amy and Luke.

Their father Carl told us this past Saturday that if you become a Godparent to one of their children, then you’re eligible to become one to a child of equal or lesser value in the future.  Yes, he’s quite a character!

Our good friends Laura and Jeff Stapleton are the Godparents to the latest Baab girl.  Laura and I attempted to recreate the photo taken when the twins were Baptized, but it didn't turn out quite as we'd hoped.  As you can imagine, five-year-olds aren't typically into cooperating for photos any more than newborns are. 

Laura and I holding the twins on the day of their Baptism:
August 19, 2012.

Laura and I with the twins after Daphne's Baptism:
September 16, 2017.
Lord, thank you for the blessing of Daphne and all of the children who were  Baptized last Saturday.  Please help those of us who love and care about them to be good role models of the Catholic faith, so that throughout their lives they are led closer to Christ.  Amen.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Best Childcare/Teaching Training I've Ever Had Is Also a Book I Highly Recommend: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D

The best two days of training I've ever had about working with children occurred during our teacher work week in August.  I’ve been to numerous lectures, read countless books, and gone to several conferences and workshops through the years to learn more about how to take care of and teach children.  I’ve gleaned information and tips from each, but this has been the most revolutionary approach I’ve come across for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use when dealing with toddlers through teenagers. 

Before we had the two-day training at the school where I work, I read the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.  I love books, so that part was easy and very enjoyable for me.  The only regret I had when I got the end of the book and finished the training was that I wish I’d read this book twenty-six years ago when I first began providing childcare and tutoring.  Ah well.  Better late than never. 

The concept of treating children with respect and dignity isn’t new to me by any means.  I first learned it as part of my faith.  It has been reinforced ten-fold while I’ve been working at a Montessori school.  These principles for how to encourage and empower children to become independent have been time-tested and parent-approved. 

Our school had Positive Discipline trainer, father of four, and Head of School Chip DeLorenzo, M.Ed., CPDT come and conduct a two-day workshop onsite called "Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom."  I got so much out of it!   

After reading the book, I guessed that the training would be a lot more than two days of someone talking at us.  It was!  We got to experience and practice using the tools.  There was ample time to role-play as child/teacher some of the most familiar discipline challenges that arise in the classroom. 

Instead of having someone come and preach from on high the best way to do things, we had a teacher/father who is very much still in the trenches share with us how he has had to work hard to implement these suggestions both at home, in the classroom, and in his role as Head of School.  Chip was humble enough to tell us about his successes as well as his failures. 

I realized that one of the main things about my childhood that shaped my view of myself, others, and the world was how I thought of mistakes.  I felt that mistakes were embarrassing, humiliating, and major failures.  This program invites both adults and children to see mistakes as opportunities for learning.  What a brilliant idea!  Instead of berating ourselves for not getting it right the first time, we can offer the gentle reminder that we’re not perfect and neither is anyone else. 


Studies show that children want and need to feel the same two things that adults do: belonging and significance.  Most of their behavior, whether naughty or not, is an attempt to be recognized, accepted, and included.  There are four mistaken goals of children that are identified and described in an easy-to-use chart, so you can determine what a child is trying to get through his or her behavior.

I've already been employing some of the techniques with the kids, and they really do work.

I highly recommend reading the revised edition of the best-selling classic Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.  During the nap/rest shift I work at school I've been reading Positive Discipline A Teacher's A-Z Guide.

If you're ready to take your teaching or parenting to the next level, this book and training are for you!  You can find out more about the trainer, Chip DeLorenzo, M.Ed., CPDT, we had conduct our two-day onsite workshop at his website: Developing Capable Children.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Feeding Your Family's Soul DVD by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Back to school means back to schedules, homework, quicker mealtimes, and often less family time.  The Feeding Your Family’s Soul DVD will help give you some great ideas for how to make mealtime the ideal time for sharing the Catholic faith with your children while enriching your own prayer life.  

I know some parents who take their children to Mass every weekend, say prayers together with them every night as well as grace before meals.  Establishing these practices early on teaches children to think about God and other people while making them feel like an important member of the family. 

Just as Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle includes recipes, lessons, and prayers in her book Feeding Your Family’s Soul, she gives some additional tips for creative ways to teach kids in elementary school through high school about the Catholic Christian faith, prayer, and how to serve their family, friends, and community. 

It’s so easy to get stuck in the same routine when there is so much to fit in each day.  These short episodes provide family-friendly ways to make sharing a meal and spreading the tenets of the faith go together. 

Whether you sit down and watch the DVD with your spouse or you digest one episode at a time and try to implement the suggestions that inspire you, this DVD along with the book will give you a number of meaningful ways to grow closer to Christ.  It's also a phenomenal resource for children's catechists!

Watch the DVD trailer here:




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Lovely Luncheon with My Christ Renews His Parish Sisters

  Top row: Christine, Gina, Susan, Kami
Bottom row: Nancy Colette, Eileen, Me
For weeks I'd been looking forward to the gathering held on Saturday.  One of the women I'd made my Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend with back in February 2009 invited all of us over to her house for a potluck lunch. Due to my previous health issues and the fact that Kevin and I have been roaming Catholics lately, I hadn't seen or gotten a chance to have a conversation with most of the ladies in our group for several months.

I'd received some prayer requests and the occasional update via e-mail, but that's not the same as sharing a meal or catching up over a cup of tea.

Though there is often a plan for our get-togethers, (a book study, a video to watch, a carefully-planned retreat), our hostess correctly assumed we'd most like a chance to find out what's going on in each other's lives since it had been so long in between gatherings in recent months.

After some one-on-one conversations and smaller groups convening in the kitchen, we all moved to the dining room table with our platefuls of food.  We discussed current local and world events, then we made our way around the table hearing an update from each person about how she and her family are doing.

We rejoiced in hearing the good news and promised to pray for those who are still in the midst of some difficult situations.  Those who could not join us that day were in our thoughts and prayers.  It was wonderful to receive so many hugs in such a short period of time.  That alone would have made the time special.

We all left feeling spiritually refreshed and that our friendships had been rekindled.  There was more than one person who expressed a desire to meet again soon.  Mention of a fall retreat at a certain special spot was made.

 My Prayer: Lord, thank You for this loving group of women who encourage me to grow closer to You. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017

In Protest of Prejudice (an original poem about the August 2017 tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia)

Those who stand for violence
and advocate intolerance
terrorized the Whos down in Whoville.
The majority of whites and blacks
on both sides of the tracks
gathered for equality,
protested hatred, stood up for what is not only just,
but also sacred: Black lives matter.

There’s a statue of Robert E. Lee
in the middle of our town
which some people believe
should be taken down.

There’s a statue of Arthur Ashe
in the middle of our city
which some people believe
is just such a pity.

Monument Avenue is no place for hate.
Let’s hope more folks realize that before it’s too late
to have tough conversations about race relations
that go beyond statues, street protests,
and some raving lun’
speeding into clashes, spilling blood,
inciting a flood of statutes and proclamations
when the truth is evaded:
innocent lives were ended way too soon.

What of those other words
that were carved into stone:
Love your brother,
Respect your mother,
You will reap what you’ve sown?

Whether Christian, Jew, Muslim,
or none of the above,
tearing people limb from limb
has nothing to do with love.
If you have a brain and a heart,
then you know that the start of war
is wearing down freedom’s reign
to protect the marginalized
and those scandalized
from the certifiably insane murderers/bigots
who live down the lane.

We can do better than public spectacles
underlining how things never change.
Stuff hate in trash receptacles
and expand the range of your perspective.
Be respective of the fact
that one senseless act
is not an isolated occurrence.

Will a message of extreme urgence
still be ignored?
Yes, if any and all resurgence
of prejudice aren’t rightly abhorred.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Carytown Watermelon Festival 2017


Publix made their debut as the sponsors of this year's festival. Some
watermelon for $1 stands were set up, and all proceeds
from sales will go directly to Shriner's Children's Hospitals.
The Greek on Cary food stand had several succulent chicken kabobs
for sale as well as some very pretty carved watermelon decorations. I got
two chicken kabobs, pita bread, and an orangeade.
An actual watermelon starburst.  People are so creative.
I never thought to carve a design into anything but a pumpkin.

My friend Holly and her Golden Doodle Tova
were my companions for this year's festival.  
The three silly sisters enjoyed pizza at Mary
Angela's with their parents, then petting Tova
before hitting the kids' section of the festival.
More sweet and crunchy artwork from Greek on Cary.

Sunshine had lots to tell Holly about being curious, asking
a lot of questions, how the family dog Scout has passed, etc.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken

One element of A Severe Mercy I adore is the correspondence between Sheldon Vanauken and C. S. Lewis.  Their exchanges are very genuine, straightforward, and even challenging.  The influence of close, faith-filled friends is apparent and so is the belief that right relationship with God and others is to be valued over politeness and friendly formalities.  It is essential to have friends who love us enough to ask us the tough questions and suggest a different viewpoint from our own, especially in regards to our relationship with God and those closest to us in this life.  

As a winner of the National Book Award and the Gold Medallion Award, this is rightly called “the classic memoir.”  I love that Sheldon Vanauken included original poetry as well as many of his letters to and from C. S. Lewis throughout the book.  

I have infused parts of the spiritual memoir manuscript about Kevin and me with my poetry, excerpts from our personal letters, and some of my journal entries.  I’m delighted to see how artfully this can be done by a masterful writer. 

The glimpse into the mind and heart of someone whose lover wants God to be first in her life is very intimate.  I believe it helped me to understand a bit better where my own lover was coming from when we first became friends and began our relationship.  My then boyfriend, now husband Kevin expressed to me more than once that he put me first, before everyone and everything else.  I tried my best to explain to him that God should be first in my life as well as his. 

Sheldon and Davy eventually experienced a major tension and break in what they referred to as “the Shining Barrier:”  their pledge to preserve their “inloveness” and the springtime of life by sharing everything with one another—reading the same books, seeing the same movies and plays, and learning one another’s hobbies.  They went so far as to say that if one of them was to die, they would both commit suicide together so as not to let death separate them. 

The following two verses from the poem “The Shining Barrier” that Sheldon and Davy co-authored beautifully sum up their pledge to one another and the Pagan approach to love and life they had at the beginning of their relationship:

“This present glory, love, once-given grace,
The sum of blessing in a sure embrace,
Must not in creeping separateness decline,
But be the centre of our whole design.” (p. 53, Stanza 1)

“The magic word is sharing: every stream
Of beauty, every faith and grief and dream;
Go hand in hand in gay companionship—
In sober death no sundering of the grip.” (p. 54, Stanza 4)

In the first verse of the poem (and of the two mentioned here), the words suggest that their union and the love between them are what they want to put at the center of their lives.  Their notions of what should come first and be the love through which all other loves flow change when they come to know Christ.  Davy is the first to embrace God’s Will as the one that should come before all others.  At the beginning of her conversion, Sheldon doesn’t share her conviction that the Lord should come before all else.  This discrepancy in priorities leads to the breakdown of the sharing that creates “the Shining Barrier.” 

Davy’s inclination to put God first, even before her dearly beloved spouse, severed “the Shining Barrier” but it led to the ultimate good in time and eternity for both Davy and Sheldon—a desire for God’s Will above all others, including their own. 

I thought of the many times I prayed with tears streaming down my face that God would bring Kevin closer to Him and allow him to see the value and importance of putting His Will above all other loves, plans, hopes, and desires.  I feared that might happen through Kevin losing me to a religious vocation or because that’s what God knew to be necessary in order for him to become a person of faith. 

I can completely identify with Sheldon’s wanting the greatest good in time for his wife Davy, though his understanding of what that is and how it comes to pass changes as he becomes more aware of God’s love and role in our lives on Earth and in the afterlife.

In response to Vanauken’s letter describing his grief over the broken “Shining Barrier” and Davy’s death, C. S. Lewis writes a letter that calls his friend out and really shakes him up. Vanauken comes to refer to it as “the Severe Mercy Letter.”  In this case, the message from his friend led to the writing of this book as well as its title. 

Towards the end of what some might consider a harsh way of addressing a friend who’s grieving, C. S. Lewis writes: “There’s no other man, in such affliction as yours, to whom I’d dare write so plainly.  And that, if you can believe me, is the strongest proof of my belief in you and love for you.  To fools and weaklings one writes soft things.” (p. 210)


Honesty, clarity, trust, vulnerability, and accountability are vitally important if we wish to grow in love of God and each other.  Our skewed views not only harm us, but they also afflict those around us.  C. S. Lewis acknowledges the depth of love between Sheldon and Davy while proving that “the Shining Barrier” was destined to die.  Furthermore, he admonishes Sheldon not to commit suicide in an attempt to be reunited with Davy as soon as possible, because taking his own life could very well create an “eternally unbridgeable chasm” that would sever his soul from hers forever.

I highly recommend reading this book.  For more information or to order your own copy, click here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Sunshine, Soothing Smoothies, and Paper Palm Trees

In the heat of this summer sunshine, we've been keeping cool and having fun.  The mini Foosball game has been a smashing success.  I’ve made fruit smoothies/milkshakes for several days in a row that the kids who remain for extended day (3-6pm) have enjoyed. 

I like to use things that might otherwise go to waste, so I peeled the leftover bananas, apples, and clementines from snack, and froze them.  I also got some frozen berries to mix in the blender with milk, vanilla ice cream, a cup of juice, and some chocolate syrup.  Some preferred the Tutti-Fruiti smoothie, and others liked the banana milkshake better. 

We’ve done a variety of projects involving palm trees.  One we began by painting sunsets with watercolors, then we traced a palm tree on black construction paper.  Depending on age and ability, people either cut out their palm tree or did it as a punching work, then glued it and the outline of it on the sunset once dry. 


I also purchased small wooden palm trees for the kids to paint.  The first day, we used finger paint.  It was funny to watch how squeamish even the elementary age boys were at first about putting the paint on with their fingers.  The next day, I had them add another layer using a different type of paint. 

Since it’s been so hot out lately, I’ve led the younger kids who stay for nap/rest in some songs and dances.  Their absolute favorite is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”  We also do “Bop Until You Drop” as well as the “Hokey Pokey.”  Any adult who watches me do the “Hokey Pokey” might be a little concerned since I do it backwards, so the kids mirroring me are doing it the right way while I’m facing them.

My favorite quote from earlier this summer came out of the mouth of a five-year-old.  As she helped a three-year-old friend roll up her sleeping bag after nap/rest, she informed her, “I’m not your scullery maid!” 

I cracked up, wondering where she’d heard the term.  Within the next couple of weeks, I watched the movie Trolls and solved that mystery.

Another amusing interaction occurred the other day after I’d read a three-year-old and his friends a book about The Cat in the Hat cooking.  Several hours after naptime, he was doing a plastic pop-together bead work.  He created a necklace, bracelet, and a headpiece using the brightly colored beads, then he put all of it on, informing everyone that it was his “cooking jewelry.”  

I’d never seen such outlandish bling sported in the name of cooking.  I asked him what he was going to make and he said eggs in ice cream.  I told him I didn’t think I’d want to come to his restaurant if that’s what he’d serve.

“Am I making yucky food?” he asked me, giggling.

“It sounds like you are,” I said.

After that, he offered to make me an omelet.   I’m not really a fan of eggs, but I’d choose an omelet over egg ice cream any day. 

Another group of three preschoolers worked as a team to put together an alphabet puzzle.  For each letter, they’d go through the alphabet again, then shout the letter that came next when they got to it.  There was one animal for each letter, so after they’d finished, I asked them questions.   Most of the names they knew already but not all of them.  I also had them count how many animals had fur, how many birds there were, etc. 


Summer camp afternoons have been going well.  We’ve managed to learn, love, and laugh a lot.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Roaming Catholics: Church Hopping with Purpose

John, Kevin, and I at St. Michael on May 28, 2017,
after John gave his first Sunday homily at his home parish.
Kevin and I have been what some might refer to as roaming Catholics.  In recent months, we’ve been to a number of churches in the area for Mass: the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, St. Bridget, St. Edward, St. Peter, St. Patrick, St. John in Highland Springs, (the Robins Center at the University of Richmond) as well as our home parish, St. Michael.  I’ve also been to St. Mary, the Pastoral Center chapel, and Little Sisters of the Poor for daily Mass. 

Why have we been hopping from one church to another?  

Sometimes, we’ve done so to participate in a special event, such as an ordination or St. Michael’s 25th Anniversary Mass.  On other Saturdays and Sundays, we’ve made our Mass plans around where and when our best friend/brother in Christ Deacon John Baab will be preaching. 

I’ve always enjoyed going to different churches to see how beautiful and unique they are, to hear a variety of preaching styles, and to see people I wouldn’t normally.  Kevin and I have been to all of the churches I mentioned above before now, typically for Cursillo Ultreyas.  Through our involvement with Cursillo, we have gotten to know people from many different parishes throughout our Diocese and visited a number of churches in Richmond and the surrounding areas. 
We go to Mass each week to receive the Word of God and a person, Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  Regardless of where we go, the Scripture readings will likely be the same as they are everywhere else in the world that particular day, and we can count on taking part in the Communion celebration.  An added bonus is a thought-provoking homily.  

We’ve been popping up where John’s been preaching because we know he has a knack for teaching and sharing the faith.  We knew he would be good at giving homilies, but we didn’t know he’d be quite this good so soon. 

Last evening, we met our dear friends and spiritual directors Dick and Jeannine at St. John in Highland Springs for Mass.  They had to attend a funeral the morning of John’s ordination, so they hadn’t gotten a chance to see him since he’d been ordained, nor had they heard him preach.  All of us agreed his homily on God’s love, our neediness as humans, the psychology of addictions, and the ways we can be vulnerable with the Lord was quite powerful and very moving. 
Kevin and I were considering going back again this morning at 9am to hear the homily one more time.  I’m sure John would be happy to give me his notes, but that wouldn’t be the same as having a recording of his reflection on the Scripture and remedy for distance from God.

When I saw the notice that male candidates are needed for the upcoming Men’s Cursillo Weekend, I immediately thought about how wonderful it would be if some of the seminarians, recently ordained priests, and transitional deacons were to make their weekend this July.  Kevin and I got to know John and a number of our closest friends through Cursillo since 2006.  Many of the laypeople who are most involved at their parishes and in the Diocese have made a Cursillo.  It has been a great way for priests, deacons, and religious to connect on a deeper level with devout laypeople from around our Diocese.

Some of the biggest areas of spiritual growth in our lives have come about as a direct result of our involvement in Cursillo and Christ Renews His Parish retreats.  Those faith families are from whom I learned about Transformation Prayer Ministry, Spiritual Direction Institute, and the importance of working one-on-one with a spiritual director. 

So often we try to create something from scratch when we see a need.  Cursillo is already in place.  The methods, materials, and principles have been used for years throughout the world to provide adults with a short course in Christianity that helps them renew their devotion to Christ. 

Community and accountability are important if we want to learn, grow, and make progress in anything, including our spiritual lives.  We live in a world where moral relativism is more rampant than Biblical values.  If we are listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows, going to the same movies, then we will begin to think like everybody else.  If we take time for prayer, spiritual reading, Christian relationships, community worship, and holy friendships, then our thoughts and our lives will be more God-centered.


My Prayer: Lord, please help us be open to all of the ways in which You wish for us to draw closer to You.  Let us make an effort to choose our media, how we spend our time and money more wisely, so that our thoughts, words, and actions reflect Gospel values instead of so-called worldly wisdom.  Give us the courage to “be still and know you are God” (Psalm 46:10).  Amen.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood by Kate Wicker

Is motherhood the most important thing in a woman’s life? 

In Getting Past Perfect, this wife and mother of five’s answer might surprise you.  Kate Wicker addresses this question and other popular myths about motherhood in her latest book.  

I’ve often felt as though I’m missing out because we don’t have children of our own.  I’ve also felt as though I should be closer to perfect as a caregiver, nanny, and/or teacher because I’m not on the job 24/7 like a parent is. 


Each chapter starts out with a catchy title followed by two statements: the first is a myth about motherhood referred to as “Evil Earworm,” and the second is called “Unvarnished Truth.”  

The premise of the book is expressed succinctly on page 1:

Evil Earworm
Being a mother is the most important
thing a Catholic woman can do.

Unvarnished Truth
Motherhood is not your highest
calling.  Being a daughter of God is.

Wow!  What a great reminder!  I love children and have very much enjoyed being part of the village to help raise some of them.  There have certainly been times when I have put my job/vocation of taking care of and teaching other people’s children above my role as daughter of God and wife.  Even without our own kids, I’ve fallen into the trap of getting wrapped up in the little people in my care to the exclusion of some of the other priorities I ought to have.  

My view that I should be able to reach something closer to perfection when taking care of or teaching children because I’m not on call 24/7 for 365 is pretty skewed.  I’ve been reminded of how impossible this is numerous times over the past several years, yet part of me still believes that I should strive for perfection instead of excellence.  Clearly, Kate Wicker is a kindred spirit who has struggled with similar notions regarding motherhood. 

Whether you are biologically and/or legally responsible for the children in your care 24/7 or for a limited period of time each weekday, the truth is you’ll make some mistakes.  Despite your best intentions, past experiences, whatever reading you have done or on-the-job training you’ve completed, there will be times when you’ll not be as patient, pleasant, or compassionate as you are able to be.  A woman can strive to do her best to be kind, gentle, and loving with children in her care, but sometimes she will fail miserably to be any one of those things.  That doesn’t mean she is a failure as a caregiver, nanny, or as a mother.  It means she’s human. 

Whether you have half a dozen children of your own or provide daytime childcare for one infant, your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual strength and endurance will be tried.  There will be precious moments and warm memories to melt your heart, and there will be others that are nothing short of exasperating and heart-wrenching. 

Getting Past Perfect illustrates how it is possible to be a woman grounded in prayer, lifted up in love, realistic when it comes to the importance of her vocations as wife and mother, as well as honest when taking care of little people has brought her to her knees in tears. 

When people tell you to enjoy every minute of motherhood, it’s okay to look at them like they’re crazy.  When you’re in the middle of the grocery store with a preschooler who insists on pushing the cart, a toddler who’s stripping in public, and an infant with poop oozing out one side of his diaper, you can be honest and loathe that moment of motherhood without being thought of as some ungrateful wretch who doesn’t deserve children. 

In addition to denying the ability to be perfect, Kate Wicker reminds readers that no matter how much we love the children God has placed in our arms and on our hearts, He loves them infinitely more.  When we are facing circumstances outside of our control, the best thing we can do is offer the precious lives in our care for a time back to the Lord God who created them. 

Raising children doesn’t have to be a blessing or a cross that you bear on your own.  You can share it with your husband, family, friends, and community.  Most importantly, you can share the responsibility of saying and doing what’s best with God. 

I highly recommend Getting Past Perfect.  I was interested in reading it the moment I heard Kate Wicker was coming out with another book.  I was slated to review it in the fall, but I couldn’t handle reading it at that time when so much was happening that made our childless marriage so hard to deal with.

I also suggest checking out Kate Wicker’s first book entitled Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body.  I enjoyed it and knew I would like the author’s next book as much if not more.  I feel as though I could write a companion book that is for nannies and childcare providers.  Perhaps that’s what the My Nanny Diary manuscript I’ve been working on could morph into.

My Prayer for Women: Lord, please help us first and foremost to rejoice that we are your beloved daughters.  Teach us to let the love You pour into our lives flow into the people you have given us to care for and about.  Remind us often that drawing closer to You is always in our best interest and will enhance our enjoyment and fulfillment of each vocation to which You call us throughout our lives. Amen.

To get more information about Getting Past Perfect or to order your own copy, click here.

To order on Amazon, click here.

Check out an interview with the author: 

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Memorable Meal with Friends Old and New

We prepared a relish tray and brought a fruit bowl to the Stapletons’ establishment.  Michele rode out there and back with us.  As always, the food was delicious, the atmosphere comfortable and relaxed, and fun was had by all. 

I don’t think it was a mere coincidence that the one time in months we’d all been able to get together was the week Jeff was let go from his job and found out his father, who had been in hospice care already, had stopped eating and drinking.  

Kevin and I have both lost our fathers, who were in hospice care before they passed away.  We have also dealt with the challenges of unemployment.  Interestingly enough, there were times when our being out-of-work allowed us to be there for other people during critical periods. 

I reconnected with Laura the week before their wedding.  Laura and Jeff got married on my dad's 54th birthday.  That Saturday when I brought my father Communion at his apartment, I was all dressed up for the wedding.   A mere sixteen days later, my friend and her groom were in nice attire and at the same church for my father's funeral.  It meant so much to me that this newly married couple came together to show their support.

It’s never easy to be let go from a job or to decide it’s time to move on, but when I was out of work one time, my dad called me and asked if I’d take him to the doctor the next day.  He called me because he knew I'd be home.  He didn't want to bother anyone at work.  I didn’t have a vehicle and could tell he wasn’t okay, so I sent my mom and Kevin to check on him ASAP.  We got him to the emergency room.  We later found out that had he gone to sleep that night, it’s likely he never would have woken up because his lung had collapsed.  He needed emergency surgery.

Fast-forward to another August when Kevin was one of the people laid-off from the Bank of America call center.  He found this out when we got home from our vacation to Rochester, New York.  During my husband's time between jobs, Jeff was diagnosed with colon cancer.  

In fact, the evening that Jeff ended up back in the hospital, Laura called to ask if we could bring her dinner.  Kevin and I had just driven into the parking lot at St. Benedict Church for daily Mass. Usually, I turned my phone off before we left home or on the way, but that time I hadn't turned the ringer off, yet. We left right away to get Laura sustenance and provide emotional support during a difficult time.  

Because Kevin had more flexibility and time while out of work, he could go and sit with Jeff during some of his chemo treatments in the months to come.  We felt it a tremendous blessing that we could be part of the people lifting them up in prayer and encouraging them.  

God works in mysterious ways.  Like Kevin, Jeff had just returned from a trip when he was given the news that he had been let go.  It was the first time he had ever had that experience.  He was very surprised but soon saw it as a blessing that he had no work commitments preventing him from going down to spend time with his family in Florida.  He could be there for his mom, sisters, and their families without having to worry about missing work.  His father had reached the end of his life before Jeff made it down there, but everyone coming together was a time of true beauty and blessings. 

It's hard for us to see what good might come of our difficult circumstances, but God can bring beauty out of ashes, rekindle friendships out of thin air, and transform a tough turn of events into a remarkable series of unexpected blessings.  

Lord, thank you for the gift of friends who have stood by us in times of joy and sorrow, sickness and health, feast and famine.  Give us the courage and strength to see beyond our own situation so that we can be better vessels of love, hope, and healing for those around us who are suffering in mind, body, and/or spirit.  Amen.
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