Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Camps Start Today

It's rather hard to believe that today is the beginning of summer camps at school.  This is the seventh summer I've worked at RMS camps.  I have a bright array of t-shirts to prove my presence.  I've had the privilege of serving as lead teacher for a number of camps over the years.  I had the most fun incorporating some of my favorite things: a love of nature, photography, writing, reading, scrapbooking as well as singing and dancing.

Because I was still recovering from surgery this past January when they needed to know who wanted to teach what camps, I'm only a lead teacher for one camp later in the summer.  It's been fun thinking of all the places we could go as part of my elementary age Discover Richmond Camp.  Mostly, I'll be working in Montessori Enrichment this summer.  I'll be the assistant for some camps.  I've come up with some themes we can use for the 3-6pm crowd.

This past weekend, I attended another Appelbaum Training as part of my ongoing professional development.  The theme was Building Bridges to the Future and our trainer was April Vernon.  I won a new CD for helping pass out papers.  I think Gobs of Fun will likely have some good songs to sing and dance to with the kids.
Claire and I at the Appelbaum Training in Richmond on June 17, 2017
It's time to slather on the sunscreen and head out.  Hope you have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sometimes It's the Simple Things That Delight: Dinner with My Sister, Mass with My Husband and Mom, and Evidence of Kevin's Endearing Qualities

My favorite salmon, rice, and greens dish at Mom's Siam.
Thursday evening, I had dinner with my youngest sister at Mom's Siam, a restaurant in Carytown we both enjoy.  Since our lives are so busy and our schedules so different, we don't get together that often.  

It was nice to catch up over a delicious meal, take a walk, get some frozen yogurt at SweetFrog, then try and find a spot nearby where we could watch the beautiful sunset.

Last Friday, Kevin and I went to the Pastoral Center for noon Mass.  I am always delighted when I can share daily Mass with someone I love dearly.  After years of Kevin thinking it was ridiculous that I went to church at all, then that I would go more frequently than just on Sunday, I love when he's inspired to come with me for daily Mass.  My mom was able to join us which made it even better.  

Fr. Brian Capuano was the presider.  He told us some interesting, unusual facts about St. Philip Neri.  Even with all of his quirks and idiosyncrasies, St. Philip is remembered most for his devotion to loving the Lord, doing His Will, and serving others.  We are all called to become saints, not a replica of someone else, but by growing in holiness according to God's plan for our own lives.  I love this Danielle Rose song "The Saint That Is Just Me"' as a reminder of that:


A bit later, we helped my youngest sister move a few pieces of furniture to her new apartment.  I drove our SUV, and Kevin rode his motorcycle.  Apparently, I pulled away just before the following incident occurred. 

Kevin was getting ready to put on his helmet and get on his motorcycle when he saw a little boy with a three-wheeled scooter come alongside him on the sidewalk with his mom.  Ever the extrovert, Kevin told the young man that he had liked his scooter and helmet.  

The boy gazed admiringly at Kevin’s motorcycle.  His mom said, “I think he wants to race.”  Kevin started his bike and the kid took off as fast as his little legs would take him.  Letting off the clutch just a little, my biker babe inched along to give this kid a thrill, thinking he was beating him.  I’m sure it made the kid’s day.  I know Kevin was thoroughly amused.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Mended by Matthew West: When You See Broken Beyond Repair, God Sees Healing Beyond Belief

The graphic I created above using an original photo I took of the sunset over Lake Ontario paired with some of the lyrics from
the very popular and poignant Matthew West song entitled "Mended."

For a while I have been listening to a local Christian radio station I really like.  Your PER (Positive Encouraging Radio) can be streamed over the internet or downloaded as an app.  I've heard a lot of great music I probably wouldn't have come across otherwise.  As has been my habit for many years, I like to listen to inspiring music that draws me closer to the Lord.  I like singing along with songs that double as heartfelt prayers.

While I was recovering from one procedure, then before and after the major surgery I had in December, I found myself listening to the Christian radio station even on days when I felt too tired, worn-out, weak, was in too much pain, or too depressed to devote much time to prayer.  Just hearing the words to the songs, even if I struggled to trust in God's plan at that time, gave me a little sliver of hope on dark days.

One of the songs I felt became a theme song for me during that time is "Mended" by Matthew West.

In an interview with Matthew West you can check out here, he shares a moving story. I'm incredibly inspired that he sought out other people's stories, and reached out to a woman who had been abused by her parents her whole life and then ended up a victim of human trafficking.  A ministry rescued Kathy, but she still felt so broken.

Matthew West went to visit her in person to sing her hymns.  He wrote "Mended" for and about her. He had a plaque made for her with the lyrics handwritten on it, but when they tried to find her, again, to give it to her, they couldn't locate her.  West keeps the plaque in his music room as a reminder that we're all broken, works in progress, and in need of prayer and healing only God can bring about.

There were days when I couldn't make it through listening to that song or similar ones that struck too close to home without tears streaming down my face.  A few times, I was in the car when it came on, and I would cry all the way home.

When we are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, it can feel like we are too broken for anyone to fix, even God, but that simply isn't true.  I clung to the hope that God can always look at me (and you) and see the healing He plans to bring about in and through the challenging circumstances that seem so very overwhelming.  

I encourage you to listen to the song and watch the interview.  Maybe you are struggling just to make it through the day, or perhaps you're on the other side of a difficult period in life, but you know of someone who seems stuck.  Please pray for those who are suffering, and if/when you are able, reach out to them with a note, a text, a phone call, an e-mail, or a visit.  If you're the one who is struggling, then tell someone you trust.

In God's eyes, you are not worthless, useless, or too far gone.  You are loved, lovable, and have infinite value in time and eternity.

I realize someone else saying those words doesn't have the same effect as knowing that Truth from God, so I invite you to pray that God will show you how He sees you and that you then have the courage to be still and listen to Him.  Eventually, He will reveal the Truth about you.  It may not happen right away or in the way that you expect, but I assure you it will happen.

After all, when you see wounded, God sees mended.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Latest Stained Glass Reflection Photography Mosaics

This piece I created using photo images of the stained glass windows at our church as they were reflected in the Baptismal font.  I cropped, flipped, turned, and twisted the images, using them like pieces of a mosaic to create this design.

This piece is also created using portions of the stained glass reflections and elongating them to create a different
visual effect.  I added the two borders to compliment the colors already wavering in the water.

To create this piece, I took different cubes of the reflection photos and arranged them, so they formed some interesting patterns, waves, and lines.

This piece reminds me of a brightly colored poster I bought in middle school.  Using the brightest aspects of the photo reflections in a way that created several geometric designs, I attempted to give it a psychedelic feel.
I created all of these images with original photos I had taken with my Lumix Panasonic DMC-FC28 camera and edited using Microsoft Publisher 2016.  I didn't use a filter when I took any of these photos, nor did I alter any of the colors to make these mosaics.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cupcakes, Handshakes, and Faith in God: Most Valuable Life Lessons from Parents and Grandparents

“‘Cupcakes,’ she said.”  Fr. Michael Renninger began his sermon on Friday May 5, 2017.  “The answer to the interviewer’s question was cupcakes.” 

Fr. Renninger told us about how he’d been watching a TV show on which someone was interviewing three famous people.  Each one of them was asked: what was the most important thing that your parents or grandparents taught you?

The world famous cook answered cupcakes.  She went on to explain that her grandmother had taught her how to make cupcakes at a young age.  As she got older, she was more involved in the process and learned to make other things, but it all started with baking cupcakes. 

A world-renowned golfer was the next person in the line-up.  Most likely imagined that he would mention something about being shown the right way to hold a club, but he didn’t.  He attributed his father teaching him the proper way to shake someone’s hand as being the key to his success.  He emphasized having a firm grip and looking the person right in the eyes. 

An incredibly successful businessman was the last to answer the question.  For him, it was faith in God that was the most important lesson he learned from his parents.  Fr. Renninger used this as the springboard to talk about the role of parents and grandparents in the lives of children.  What is it most important that we teach children?  What should be most important?

What’s the most important thing that Joseph and Mary taught Jesus?  They taught Him to love and trust in God.  They taught him how to read the Torah and how to pray.  They exemplified what it meant to be obedient to the Will of God the Father. 

Being at St. Mary’s Church during a school Mass on Grandparents’ Day brought back memories of when I was a student there.  In fifth grade, my nana passed away.  That May, I cried during the school Mass on Grandparents’ Day, wishing Nana (my paternal grandmother) was still alive.  From middle school on, I adopted and/or would regularly visit senior citizens at nursing homes to fill that void in my life. 

An eighth grader selected by her classmates for her Mary-like qualities was called forward to crown the Blessed Mother.  This year, the student’s name was Laura.  Though our family lived in New Jersey during my eighth-grade year, I saw pictures of my classmate at St. Mary School, also named Laura, crowning Mary that May after the school Mass.  

At the beginning of this Grandparents' Day Mass, several kids had processed in with bouquets and baskets filled with flowers.  Some they put around the statue of Mary and the rest they put in front of the altar.  Laura approached the statue of Mary which Fr. Renninger had talked about during his homily.  It was just inside the entryway of the church.  Mary is holding a bowl, a very ordinary household item, and likely making bread.  

What are the most important lessons we can teach children as parents, grandparents, Godparents, caregivers, teachers, aunts, uncles, and family friends?  It might look like fancy cupcakes or the proper way to give a handshake on the outside, but what we most want and need to convey is faith in God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Friday Night Highlights: Pizza Party, Story Swapping, and Laughter Around the Fire Pit

Aunt Rita, John Baab, Fr. Danny, and Fr. John David at Apollo's.
This was a weekend chockful of blessings!  On Friday evening, Kevin and I got appetizers and pizza at Apollo’s with John Baab, his parents Cathy and Carl, his aunt Rita, his spiritual director from St. Mary’s Seminary Fr. Scott, two priest friends from the Richmond Diocese Fr. Danny and Fr. John David, and a good seminarian friend named Ben.  (Going to Apollo’s always makes me think of my dad because he loved to order food from the one near his apartment.  My favorite is their chicken Stromboli).

The most entertaining ministry stories we heard were about second graders and an overuse of incense, the sprinkling of Holy Water as part of renewing our Baptismal promises becoming an unfortunate occasion for humility involving an artificial branch and an unsuspecting woman’s wig, and the lone exclamation when a Pentecostal dinner celebration went up in flames and a mushroom of smoke.

Fr. Scott, Ben Fleser, Cathy and Carl Baab, and Kevin
(my babe) at Apollo's
We were invited back to the Baabs’ house to visit.  John built a fire in the backyard fire pit.  It was a comfortable spring evening.  We talked of many things, including the humor we found in a certain newspaper, most of it due to editorial oversights and/or inaccurate reporting.  I couldn’t help but think of the scene as the beginning of a joke or story.  Once upon a time, there were three priests, one seminarian, and one married couple sitting around a fire… 

Once everyone else had gone to bed or left, Kevin, John, and I got a chance to talk for a bit, just the three of us, like old times.  I made a photo collage of John’s journey from the day Kevin and I met him for Mass at the Pastoral Center when he turned in his seminary application until the month before his ordination to transitional deacon.  It was hard for all of us to fathom the time that had passed, the amount of discernment, the number of prayers, the different types of spiritual growth, and the strength of the bonds we’d developed since we became friends in March 2009. 

This is the first time Kevin and I have been such close friends, more like family, with someone who has entered seminary.  I’d really hoped we’d get a chance to gather as the three amigos we’d been for years before the big event that would transform John from a layperson into a clergyman.  I’m not a fan of change or transition, but since this is one that has been long in coming, talked and prayed about often, it’s been exciting to be part of and witness.  

Kevin and I have known all along that John would make a good deacon and priest, if that’s what God called him to.  We have felt, at times, like proud parents when we’ve seen him inducted as an acolyte and lector, serving on the altar for the Chrism Mass, playing a central role in the Easter Triduum, and assisting the Bishop at the Eucharistic table, which he did just minutes after being ordained a deacon on Saturday, May 20, 2017.                           

The pizza party was a fun way to kick-off a weekend filled with blessings and graces.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

We Are so Excited for John Baab: Our Beloved Brother in Christ Is Being Ordained a Transitional Deacon

Dear John, 

As you well know, the real letter I write you on this occasion will likely be of epic length and in handwriting that's not very good.  As I finish working on that, please accept this photo collage as a token of the love, joy, laughter, growth, compassion, and hope you have brought into our lives since we connected with you when you made your Cursillo while Kevin served on team back in March 2009.  

I can't imagine what our lives would be like without you and your family in them.  It has been such a blessing to walk with you these past eight years during your discernment.  We are very proud of you! We were there the day you turned in your application for seminary, and now we get to be there with you for your ordination.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

Love, hugs, and prayers, Trisha & Kevin Potter

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Gorgeous Day, a Million Blooms, a Bunch of Butterflies, and Quality Time with My Mom

The last week of April, I spent a lovely Wednesday afternoon with my mom at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  More than once we’d discussed the possibility of going there together some weekday afternoon, but it hadn’t come together, yet.  It was Administrative Assistants' Day, and since my mom’s boss gave her the afternoon off, we made the most of the beautiful day. 

Fortunately, I’ve gotten in the habit of bringing my camera with me, so I already had it in my vehicle when these spur-of-the-moment plans were made.  We walked to the Lora and Claiborne Robins Tea House & Garden to have lunch.  All of the outdoor tables were taken when we first got there, so we walked around for a little while, snapping some photos nearby while waiting for one to open up. 

We both ordered the Tuscan grilled cheese with a side salad.  The food was delicious, the scenery serene, and we really enjoyed having the quality time together to catch up.  We split a slice of homemade key lime pie for dessert.  (I managed in one meal to eat pretty much everything that’s not on my prescribed diet—wheat, dairy, lots of meat, and processed sugar—but I didn’t stress over it.  I savored each bite.

Mom took a few photos of me with her camera and mused that I didn’t ask right away to see them like some other people do.  I figure I take so many photos of other people and ones of nature that I rarely bother asking someone right away if I can see a photo they’ve taken unless it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.  Then I might check to make sure at least one of the photos (with me in front of the camera instead of behind it) is in focus. 

Enjoying a beautiful day outside, having a nice lunch at the tea room, and spending time surrounded by gardens made my mom and I both think about Grandma.  My mom’s mother loved to garden, always appreciated spending time out in nature, and was good at doing things that would be fun, relaxing, and entertaining. 

My mom declared that our afternoon together was the perfect Mother’s Day present.  Great weather, not too crowded, a leisurely pace, lunch out without having to wait in line for hours since it wasn’t actually the Sunday designated for celebrating moms all contributed to the special circumstances.

I took over 465 photos in the span of four hours that we were there.  The sky was a brilliant blue with a few puffy white clouds, making it a perfect picture-taking day with some neat reflections in their ponds and waterways. 

Going through one section that overlooks the treehouse in the children's area reminded me of the April day 20 Kevin and I went to Mass, lunch at Kuba, Kuba, then spent the afternoon at Lewis Ginter with our beloved brother in Christ John on his birthday.  

Also, the Butterflies Live exhibit was open, so I entered the mist and got some photos in there of the butterflies, moths, and tropical plants.  I remembered when I’d brought a group of homeschoolers in the photography class I was teaching on a field trip there.  All of us got some neat shots.  

When we walked through the children’s section, I thought of the photo shoot Tina had done with me a couple years ago at Lewis Ginter.  I’d posed near and in the fountains so she could get some more playful shots and ended up getting soaking wet.  We had fun!  

A nice lunch of mostly forbidden foods, followed by a slice of homemade key lime pie on a gorgeous day with a million blooms, a bunch of butterflies, provided countless reminders that God has created some beautiful nature.  I left even more grateful that I’ve been blessed with such a strong, prayerful mother who is good at enjoying life and loving people.  It made that a particularly exquisite Wednesday!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Let the Easter Season Begin: Holy Saturday, The Vigil of the Triduum Continuum

Celebrating the Easter Triduum at St. Michael the Archangel Church felt, sounded, and even smelled wonderful!  This was the first time in three years Kevin and I have both been well enough to go to church together for all of it.  Seventeen years ago Easter weekend, Kevin came to visit me at Hollins University, and we experienced our very own Paschal miracle

The Triduum is such a powerful summary of our Catholic Faith. What a blessing that we are invited to slow down and reflect on Christ's suffering and our own need for conversion during Lent, so that when Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil arrive, we're ready for the Resurrection, renewal, and the rejoicing Easter brings. 

We arrived at church early on Saturday, April 16, 2017, so I had some time to greet people, take photos, volunteer in case they needed additional Eucharistic Ministers, and watch everyone bustle around getting things ready for the main event. 

I was delighted to find out that Sue, the woman I co-teach a 6th-grade small group for religious education was in attendance with her family.  Both of her daughters were getting the rundown of their special duties as altar servers.  It was their first time serving in that role.  I knew she had been hoping all of them would participate in all three days of the Triduum, so I was excited that her wish/prayer had come true and then some.

Fr. Dan Brady and Deacon Andy Ferguson were the two clergy members responsible for making sure the evening went off as the Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church intended.  The person who had been the Director of Liturgy when we first came to the parish had resumed her role as primary layperson in charge.  It felt like old home week.  I knew what to expect, saw lots of familiar faces, and anticipated some beauty to delight me in a variety of different forms.

I decided that I was going to take notes on my worship aid since it was the last evening we’d be using them before they’d go to the recycling.  I took rather copious notes about some aspects of the evening, including who sang what parts, who did certain readings, and some highlights of Deacon Andy’s homily.  I also jotted down the names of the people I recognized when looking around the large church. 

As has often been the case, a member of the choir dressed in white did a liturgical dance during the Creation reading from Genesis.  The cantor led us in a sung response at the end of each day when God found what He had made very good. 

After a series of Scripture readings and sung Psalms, we got to sing the Alleluia for the first time in the Easter season.  In his homily, Deacon Andy spoke about how it had been a little over a year since he’d been in the hospital to have heart surgery.  When he woke up after the surgery, he was truly grateful to be alive.  (This is where my notes and the exact quotes I scribbled in my worship aid would go had I not lost the program I’d written on.) 

Next, the adults who were brought into the Church through RCIA and were being Baptized came forward to the font with their sponsors.  It was powerful to watch the adults get into the fountain in their tan robes in order to be Baptized.  
Fr. Dan thoroughly enjoyed getting them soaked with Holy water.  Next, those who were to receive the rite of Confirmation came forward.  We prayed through song for the Holy Spirit to come using an old Latin chant: “Veni Sancte Spiritus.”

Those who joined us at the Eucharistic table for the first time came forward before everyone else, so they could receive the Body and Blood of Christ in view of the whole congregation.  It was neat to see how excited they were to participate in this essential part of the Mass after learning about it and watching others receive for the past several months. 

This evening, May 1, at our second-to-last session of Middle School Religious education, the Director of EDGE Laura led us in a discussion of the mysteries we celebrated in the few weeks since our last gathering.  We talked about our experience of the Triduum, what we saw, heard, and felt over those three days. Some mentioned how moved they were to see strangers washing each other's feet and hugging afterward on Holy Thursday.  Another remarked that it was memorable to see family members serving in different roles in the church all come together to meet at the Cross during the Veneration service on Good Friday.  A third person shared that the fire outside where the Paschal candle is lit really made an impression on him.   

Laura also invited two teens who were Confirmed last week to come and speak about what receiving the Sacrament meant to them.  Each told us about what they had gotten out of the process of preparing for Confirmation as well as how it felt to receive another outpouring of the Holy Spirit.       

While everyone was sitting in a big circle, Fr. Dan led prayers that we would receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, as well as wonder and awe of the Lord.  We each had a candle (like we do at the beginning of the Easter Vigil), and seven people lit red candles on the center table from the big Paschal Candle from 2012.  

Once all of our candles were lit, we sang some songs that underline the theme of the evening: Mission.  The idea of being sent forth to share the Gospel through our lives was celebrated through sharing, prayer, and song.  Then, it was time for us to leave church to go make a difference. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

To Be Continued: Good Friday of the Easter Triduum

Good Friday has felt sad, dry, and somewhat empty.  I went to Stations of the Cross at noon.  The Baptismal font near the entry of the worship space has been drained of all holy water.  A wooden sculpture of Christ with a prominent crown of thorns is front and center. 

A number of people I recognized were there.  Several of us walked around the outside of the church where there is a sculpture about a foot tall for each one of the Stations.  Others sat in the chairs and pews to follow along in the booklet which includes Scripture readings, hymns, reflections from the viewpoint of a fictitious eyewitness, and short prayers to be read aloud together.  Tears welled up in my eyes, though I have done this particular version of Stations of the Cross many times before.
I cannot fathom willingly, lovingly, and without complaint undergoing such tremendous suffering in mind, body, and spirit.  When I consider how resistant I am to giving up even small comforts, the sacrifices Christ made for us knowing our sinfulness and every one of our future indiscretions are far beyond anything I can comprehend. 

Part of me wants to rescue Jesus from the horrible scene, to shout at these people that they are torturing an innocent man.  Another part of me knows that I am among those responsible for the lacerations from the scourge on His back, the thorns piercing his head, the nails hammered into his wrists and ankles, the buffets and spit on His face. 

I wanted to stay at church between 12 until 3pm, when Christ is said to have been hanging on the Cross and died.  After re-walking the Stations on my own so I could get a close look at each sculpture, I spent some time in the Chapel.  Later, I went out to the Grotto and sat on one of the benches facing the Pietà

Friday Flashbacks

Being out by the grotto reminded me of one year when our beloved brother in Christ John, his mom, and I were among those who gathered to pray Stations of the Cross at St. Michael’s at noon one Good Friday.  Afterward, John and I went out to the grotto.  The sun was shining and it was relatively warm.  We prayed some more and talked.  It turned out to be a special time of reflection on Christ’s sacrifice and His work in our own lives.

Another year, the Director of Liturgy asked me if I would carry the Cross into the sanctuary for the Veneration on Good Friday with John and Henry, the two seminarians from St. Michael’s at that time.  I was honored to be asked and happy to comply as I’ve always felt Kevin and I have had a special role in John’s vocation discernment.  Fortunately, the wooden cross used is not terribly heavy, something that I was concerned about when first asked to help.

As part of middle school religious education on March 27,
group leaders and students wrote examples of suffering
on pieces of paper and nailed each one to the cross,
then we wrote where and in whom we see God
on strips of white cloth that was then
draped over the cross to symbolize
 the Resurrection, the 14th Station of the Cross.
Pick up your cross and follow me.  

Sometimes, when I have fallen down with my cross, I haven’t gotten right back up.  I have lamented the weight of the cross, concentrated on my own aches and pains, pointed out the number of splinters I’ve gotten, lamented that the sun was in my eyes, I hadn’t eaten my Wheaties and was seriously considering giving up. 

Honestly, there have been times in my life when I have been in enough pain physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually that I just want the suffering to be over as soon as possible. I’ve begged God for an end to the anguish, but ultimately, I have asked that if I must endure it that it would be used, in conjunction with Christ’s Passion, for the salvation of souls in time and eternity. 

I realize anything I have gone through is minuscule in comparison to what Christ willingly, knowingly, acceptingly suffered.  Even so, in the midst of extreme hurt, I have been completely overwhelmed.  I’ve been unable to feel God’s presence, though, I know He has never left me.  I can understand feeling utterly abandoned.  I’ve asked God where He was in some situations and circumstances.  And even when I don’t sense a response, I know (at least intellectually) that He hasn’t given up on me.      

Oftentimes lately, the following lyrics have come to mind: “Was there purpose for the pain? Did I cry these tears in vein?” The next part of the song I initially misheard as "I have been told" instead of "I have this hope."  The lyrics make more sense now.

"I have this hope in the depth of my soul.  In the flood or the fire, You’re with me and You won’t let go.” -song lyrics from "I Have This Hope" by Tenth Avenue North

I spent some time in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel this afternoon, but it felt strangely empty in there.  The tabernacle is bare.  The doors of it flung open with nothing inside.  The red candle that is lit in the presence of the Eucharist had been removed from its golden holder.  Only a few women came to sit and pray before the void.  How lonely and sorrowful it would be if we didn’t have Christ in the Eucharist, in each one of us.  Every person would resemble a hollow tabernacle, worthless without the precious Body and Spirit of Christ inside.

The Good Friday portion of the Easter Triduum began with two of our cantors belting out "Pie Jesu" by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  I closed my eyes and soaked in the beauty of the moment.  Click the link below and close your eyes as you listen. 

Like on Holy Thursday, we were blessed to have a full choir and a complete string section this evening. Each row was given the opportunity to come and venerate the Cross.  Some couples held hands as they approached.  Families gathered around, touching each other as well as the Cross while praying. 

Deacon David gave the homily.  He asked us to consider a time in our lives when we had done everything we were supposed to do, and things had not gone the way we wanted them to or thought they should.  Not only had it not gone the way we'd hoped, but the worst possible outcome transpired.  He invited us to recall if we had told others about the injustice we had suffered. 

Typically, we tend to speak out against unfairness, especially when it involves us.  I thought of an incident when I’d been wrongly accused without much searching.  I remember being really frustrated, angry, and determined to prove my innocence, no matter what that took. 

Christ was attacked verbally and physically.  None of these insults or accusations were deserved, yet much of the time, He kept His mouth shut. 

After we prayed the Lord's Prayer and received the Eucharist, which was left over from what was consecrated on Holy Thursday, we once again left the church in silence.

Friday, April 14, 2017

And So It's Begun: Holy Thursday of The Easter Triduum

The foot washing stations were set up before Mass began and the congregation
began filling in the seats around the altar.

This evening was lovely for a number of reasons.  The Holy Thursday beginning of the Triduum at St Michael the Archangel Church was beautiful as always. Kevin and I both made it to church for the first time in three Easter Triduum celebrations. Woohoo! (I was sick last year, and Kevin was sick the year before that.) Fortunately, the Potter Paschal Plague has been lifted. Praise the Lord!

Kevin and I saw a number of people we know and love tonight.  A friend who was in the Spiritual Direction Institute with us for two years came over so we could catch up.  She is such a sweetheart and humble servant. 

The full choir was there to sing.  A string section, someone playing the harp, and the bell choir all added to the ambiance and the solemnity of the evening.  Our church has a truly amazing music ministry.   

We always sit in the same section, which happens to be a wonderful
place to hear the choir and musicians.
Each of the oils blessed at the Chrism Mass were brought in.  Between last August and December, I received the Anointing of the Sick three times.  One of the women who walked with me through that valley was sitting next to us this evening with their oldest, the first born of the three silly sisters for whom I used to nanny.  Her mother, a dear friend and sister in Christ was with me one of the times I was anointed at St. Bridget by Monsignor Carr.

When it was time for the foot washing, Vivi came up with me.  I had the privilege of washing the feet of another woman who accompanied me through part of the valley last fall.  She is a precious soul and a strong prayer warrior who washed my feet in a most tender, loving manner, going so far as to kiss my foot.  Afterward, I washed Vivi’s feet, something I have done many times over the years.  I laughed when she warned me ahead of time that her shoes and socks were full of sand since she’d been playing in the sandbox earlier.  I assured her that was okay.    

Before Mass on our 12th Anniversary
when Kevin and I renewed our vows,
 Laura came over to do
my hair and make-up (this is one of
the pre-salon treatment photos).
As part of middle school religious education EDGE during Lent, we gave the students an opportunity to experience the foot washing.  I washed the feet of two 6th grade boys in our small group.  The co-teacher of our group washed my feet, and I washed my friend Laura’s feet.  That experience brought back a memory from one of the previous years when Laura and I were the last two in line at a station and were able to wash one another’s feet.  How perfect an opportunity for two people who have been friends since going to 5th grade together at St. Mary’s School. 

I thought about driving separately from Kevin this evening so that I could stay for Adoration until midnight, but since he’s been having shooting pains in his feet and his sugar was low, I opted to take one vehicle and be the one to drive home.  I know Jesus understands that I was doing what was best for my husband, who has to get up early for work in the morning.  

Other years, I have entered deeply into the Paschal Mysteries in part through spending time before the Blessed Sacrament.  I have treasured memories of keeping vigil with our dearest brother in Christ who this year is observing the Triduum at the parish where he served his pastoral year. 

Lord, thank you for the gift of Your Son in the Eucharist and as an example of how we are to serve one another.  Amen. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Diary of a Successful Out-of-State Surgery and the Power of Prayers

I had my first colonoscopy in preparation for surgery.

Dec. 3
On Saturday, we were able to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist, I got to go to Confession and received the Anointing of the Sick at St. Benedict Church, so at least I took care of some important spiritual preparations before we flew down here.

Dec. 4
Our flight arrived safely and on time in Louisiana.

Dec. 5
Thank you to all who have been praying for us! Two back-to-back appointments including pre-surgery instructions/ preparations, and possible outcomes which took a couple hours each have left Kevin and I completely overwhelmed. I was in tears by the middle of the second one. Tuesday is a rather taxing pre-op prep, then Wednesday morning is surgery. Please keep those prayers coming!
Dec. 6

Visiting with Dorothy and her two adorable little ones was definitely the highlight of our day! I remember years ago when she was discerning her vocation. Clearly, being a prayerful wife and mother are how God is being glorified by her. Dorothy, thank you so much for bringing some sunshine into our day along with chicken broth, coconut water, and flowers. You're so thoughtful!

Dec. 7
Kevin and I just prayed the Rosary and did the Mass readings for today while waiting for the anesthesiology team. I'll be in surgery for several hours, likely all morning. Thanks in advance for sending love, hugs, warm wishes, and fervent prayers our way! Lord, You are the One through whom all true, lasting healing comes to us in mind, body, or spirit. I lay my life before You, past, present, and future. Amen.

A dear sister/friend Kami sent me this prayer yesterday in anticipation of my surgery this morning: May God bless the surgeons, nurses, technicians and all those who care for Trisha tomorrow and the coming days. God, please give them the wisdom, skill, and compassion needed to provide the best care possible for Trisha according to your will. God grant her a successful surgery and speedy recovery. God please bless Kevin with the grace and nurturing needed to support Trisha through this difficult time. God bless them both with patience, hope and your enduring, all-encompassing love! Amen. 📿
Dec. 8
My mom sent me flowers. Aren't they beautiful?!

My surgery lasted 8.5+ hours. Endometriosis was growing on pretty much all of my organs from below my rib cage to my hip bones from the front to the back.
They did robotic surgery, then they had to open me up (do a mini-laparotomy) because they couldn't reach the rest, then the general surgeon was called in to remove a lesion from my colon (biopsy, more endometriosis, no cancer) and fix damage to part of my intestines. They removed my appendix since that was covered, too.
Last night I was in excruciating pain, very discouraged by all of the damage, but finally they got me sufficient meds, and I started doing better.
I'm making progress today: getting to and going to the bathroom on my own, took a short walk in the hall, drinking clear fluids, and more alert.
Because of all they had to do, they're going to keep me in the hospital until at least Saturday.
Thanks for the prayers! Please keep them coming. I've got a lot of healing to do.
Dec. 9
They're saying I definitely won't be discharged from the hospital before Sunday or later, and they'd prefer I stay in town for a week out from such an intense surgery before it'll be safe for me to travel back home. I'm not sure how we'll ever manage to afford this on top of a much more serious, extensive surgery involving 3 surgeons, but no way out of it but through at this point. Lord, have mercy on us and help us weather the rest of this storm we're still in the midst of. 

Dec. 9
I feel as though I'm holding up pretty well emotionally though these are the two things on the wall across from my bed in the post-partum ward where I am recovering.
I was too out-of-it right after surgery to look closely at the board with the extentions for nursery/NICU and Lactation are listed. How I wish this pain were from delivering a baby instead of related to health problems making it more likely we'll never have children of our own. Lord, Your Will, not my own!

Dec. 10
I have already achieved my main goal for the day. Woohoo! I've honestly never been so excited about being able to fart in my life. Finally, making more progress towards getting solid food, being discharged, and going home. Praising the Lord and thanking Him for the amazing prayer warriors who are carrying us right now!

Dec. 11
This afternoon, they let me go outside for a walk with Kevin, and my doctors are saying that if all goes smoothly now that I've had a couple soft solid meals that I will likely be discharged tomorrow evening. 

So excited to be making progress so soon that will allow me to continue my recovery outside of the hospital. Thank you all for the tremendous prayer cover. God's working all things for good in our lives and I'm able to feel and enjoy that more with less pain now.

Dec. 11
Great news! I got a good night's sleep last night, and I've done everything they needed me to in terms of bodily functions to graduate to solid foods sometime in the next couple of days. I'm back to walking more than waddling, and I've been cracking jokes more often, so I haven't completely lost my sense of humor in all of this. Praising God for major progress and signs His hand has orchestrated the timing of all of this, right down to the date of my surgery being Dec. 7 instead of Dec. 28.
Dec. 12

Hello from the outside! 

Kevin and I are heading back to our home away from home (Country Inn and Suites) together. Bye, bye Lakeview Regional Medical Center. Thanks for everything!

Dec. 14
I'm trying to remain positive and optimistic in the midst of some setbacks, and sometimes I'm more successful at that than others. Nothing major has gone wrong, but added side effects and symptoms piled on to the overall discomfort and dreariness of this trip are wearing on us both.
I've determined two days of feeling crummy while staying at a hotel several states from home, family, and friends are worse than two days of being sick when you can sleep in your own bed and have someone other than your worn-out husband bring you food or medicine.  Kevin's sick of running to the store and the pharmacy to get me supplies and medicine especially in such crazy traffic.
Lord God Almighty Father and Mary, Mother of us All, help us be loving and patient with one another even when we feel we have nothing left to give. Amen.

Dec. 15 
Fortunately, today has, thus far, been a much better day than the previous two. A visit from Dorothy and her two cuties brightened our morning, then a late lunch at Cracker Barrel allowed us to get some good food while using the last of the restaurant gift cards a couple of friends gave us for the trip. We came directly back so I could rest. I finished the book I'd been reading and took a nap.

Dec. 16
Last night and today have been very rough physically and emotionally. I'm hoping and praying our travel home tomorrow goes much smoother.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Please give us safe, uneventful, and as pain-free as possible a trip home. We are so worn out.

Dec. 17
We made it safely to the airport, returned our rental car, and they provided transportation and a wheelchair so I wouldn't have to walk too far. So grateful to be heading home finally!

My mom picked us up from the airport and brought us home.  She provided us with some groceries. Not only that, but we arrived at our door to find a beautiful Christmas floral arrangement as well as one of my favorite meals: salmon and green beans.  Gina, one of my Christ Renews His Parish sisters had been by recently with the delicious dinner and holiday cheer.

We made it home safely and without any trouble. Thanks for the prayers!
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