Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Birthday, a deathday, and bluegrass for both

Celebrating our daughter's 23rd birthday today, I wanted to share the story I wrote a few years ago about my father-in-law on a very special day that happened 10 years ago today, February 21, 2008.

Rebecca’s first year of life was spent in the doting arms of her paternal grandparents as I went back to work. The many pictures of Rebecca with her papaw playing, cooing, and smiling from ear to ear on his lap are immeasurable. She talked more about her papaw than anybody else, he even taught her how to write her name when she was three.
When Rebecca was four, at a family reunion, The Quebe Sisters, (2nd cousins, twice removed) fiddling everything bluegrass, introduced her to the violin and the music. Soon she was mastering her own fiddle, playing everything from "Turkey in the Straw” to "Orange Blossom Special". Her grandparents loved her concerts.  As country dancers, square dancers, and "Grand Marchers" from way back, having their granddaughter playing these songs was a real treat for them.

A few years later, papaw suffered a stroke. In the hospital, Rebecca would sweetly butter his roll for him, hold his hand, and covered all the walls of his room with her artwork. Eight years later, when the time came for his passing, it was in the early morning hours on Rebecca’s birthday.

Many told Rebecca how sad that her grandfather died on her birthday. I heard someone say to her, "That sure wasn't fair, was it?" She didn't say much. I thought about this and remembered how impressed I was when Norman Vincent Peale, the great author/speaker of "The power of positive thinking" and "Expect a Miracle" died on Christmas Eve, some years ago. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, fathers of our country, died on the same day hours apart on the 4th of July, and my great uncle, Fr. Samuel Haughton, died celebrating Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Countless other death date coincidences that are only known by those touched by their timing prove that there is something to my theory.

At her papaw’s funeral, Rebecca played "Lover's Waltz" by Jay Ungar. At the graveside service, she played "Tennessee Waltz" and as the veterans' flag was folded and presented to her grandmother,” Faded Love”. She played perfectly despite the events and her young age of 13. As she bowed the last note of Faded Love, I saw her quickly and quietly fall apart. Large "crocodile tears" streamed down her face without a sound. There had been no time to weep before.

Explaining to my daughter that this was not a sad coincidence, I told her that soon after she was born, I went back to work and her grandparents volunteered to baby-sit. What joy and love they had for her, so when it came time for Pawpa to go to be with Jesus, her special day was the best pick. A glimmer of brightness came over her face as she realized what I had said.

Rebecca’s papaw deeply loved family and his special bond with his granddaughter will stay with them both forever. As our daughter celebrated her 13th year of life, her grandfather celebrated his first day in eternity.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Busy Brains..Always a busy brain!

A healthy and fruitful prayer life is a true gift, but how does one accomplish this? As a Christian, prayer life is necessary for both an act of faith and consolation that we have a father always listening and looking after us.  The discipline of prayer is, well, a discipline needing to be attempted daily, if not hourly.

At age 12 or so, riding my bike, realizing that I was thinking about God and that I wanted to keep remembering him every day has stuck with me today.  As a writer and life student of Catholicism and bible reflection, I have learned about God's fatherhood throughout salvation history.  As the years go by, I seem to go deeper into reflection of our Lord's glory and love for us.  I find myself thanking him for his sacrifice, love, and forgiveness in simple words daily.

As a Catholic Christian, I am part of a faith with many ways to pray and communicate with our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The rosary where we meditate on Jesus' life and his mother's, the Mass, where we are both forgiven and fed, novenas, adoration, where we sit in a chapel devoted to our Lord, the list goes on.  The blessed trinity and the sign of the cross is a simple prayer with so much power. Who do you relate to mostly?  I seem to always address my prayer with "Dear Father..."  But my little thoughts throughout the day are directed to Jesus and his sacrifice as thanksgiving and appreciation, especially during Mass and my time in the Adoration Chapel.

Probably the biggest hangup and hindrance in prayer is our busy brains.  So many people talk about the interruptions that happen during our rosary, meditation, adoration, and Mass.  Some job that needs our attention, children, chores, issues that we get caught up in, merely life details come into our thoughts and our prayer goes awry.  Here is where discipline comes in, we have to redirect our thoughts and get back to our prayer.   Recite a Hail Mary, the Lord's Prayer, the Jesus prayer, or even just the sign of the cross will get us back.  With daily practice our communications with our holy Father will become more and more fruitful. 

This is my prayer that I can, and you too, can have clearer brains and a closer relationship with out Heavenly Father!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Laws of life and the road

"And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

OK, so we all, or most of wait, SOME of us abide by the traffic laws:  Stopping at red lights, stop signs, and not passing on solid lines.  Why we do obey these laws?  We believe in them!  We believe that they will save lives, prevent accidents, and is the right thing to do.  Simple logic, yes?
So, those of us who obey God's commandments obey them because we believe in them.  We believe in God and believe they save lives(souls), prevent bad decisions, and is basically the right thing to do.  We believe in God, in Jesus Christ and his Word.

Have you ever known people that are not living according to the commandments?  Are they happy people?  Are they getting anywhere positive?  Or do they seem to be simply turning in circles in no real direction?

Now let me show you the last verse in this reading:
  1 John 2:11, "But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."
Those who chose to abide by the commandment to love God and thy neighbor can SEE clearly the truth.  Those who ignore this live in a darkness that gives no love in return.  They are blinded by their own decisions.  They do not see God in their daily lives, they do not necessarily believe in Him.  Perhaps they refuse to believe in him.  But see their lives!

With God, there is hope, love, and goodness!  With God there is joy!  It's not always perfect living, health, and wealth, but without God, well, I don't want to know what life without God is like.

Monday, December 4, 2017


When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day.......
An angel came by and asked." Why spend so much time on her?"
The lord answered. "Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?"
She must function on all kinds of situations,
She must be able to embrace several kids at the same time,
Have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart,
She must do all this with only two hands,"She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day"

THE ANGEL was impressed "Just two hands.....impossible!
And this is the standard model?"
The Angel came closer and touched the woman
"But you have made her so soft, Lord".
"She is soft", said the Lord,
"But I have made her strong. You can't imagine what she can endure and overcome."

"Can she think?" The Angel asked...
The Lord answered. "Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate."
The Angel touched her cheeks....
"Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her"
"She is not is a tear" The Lord corrected the Angel…
"What's it for?" Asked the Angel..... .
The Lord said. "Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride."...
This made a big impression on the Angel,
"Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything.
A woman is indeed marvelous"

Lord said."Indeed she is.
She has strength that amazes a man.
She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.
She holds happiness, love and opinions.
She smiles when she feels like screaming.
She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid.
She fights for what she believes in.
Her love is unconditional.
Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life"

The Angel asked: "So she is a perfect being?"
The lord replied: "No. She has just one drawback
She often forgets what she is worth."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Be Prepared! Wisdom

 Wisdom 13:1-9 and Luke 17: 26-37
For years I have complained to my husband about how bored I am with the mundane weekly grind.   Sundays are my favorite day, we attend Mass and then have a family meal together.  But then Monday arrives and the rat race begins, or as I complain, returns.  In today's readings, it struck me that I have fallen into the same routine as so many others around me.  Get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, and then repeat for 4 more days.  All without really looking around and realizing the beauty of He who created it.

Today we find in the readings, in the Word of God, that we need to be in constant awareness of our Creator's presence and live our lives accordingly.  In Wisdom, we are told of the times of Noah, when everyone lived, married, all their comings and goings were as it is today.  They were unaware of anything past their regular routines.  That is until the flood came and all were unprepared and lost.  That being prepared for the future, not the future of retirement, children graduations, getting married, having children, etc, but the future of our souls.  Where and what happens to us after our mundane routines?   Have we prepared and focused on the hereinafter?

Lest I sound morbid, death will come to all of us, the end of what we know and love arrives at some point.  Living the daily mundane is expected of us, but we need to make one teeny tiny addition to it.  God.

Find a way to add prayer, worship, and just the smelling of the roses around you.  Realize, without it bringing you down, that there is an end.  Prepare yourself for God's coming.

Here's the best thing!   God is a loving Father and He will take care of all of his children!  We are not alone and will always be under the guiding and loving hands of our heavenly Father.  In the words of my favorite St. John Paul the Great and our Lord Himself:

Be Not Afraid!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Getting ready for Advent 2017

During Advent, we are called upon to:

1) prepare ourselves to worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,

2) make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace

3) make ourselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world
~from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are ten tips that will help you and your family keep this season holy:

1. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the rosary when you light up the candle on the wreath. Sing 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' throughout Advent.

2. Keep outdoor lights & decorations simple, using religious CHRISTmas scenes like the Nativity or a star.

3. Use a Jesse tree or an Advent tree.

4. Have your Christmas tree blessed. Remind your children that the tree is a Christian symbol and relates to many aspects of our faith.

5. Let your children know that "Santa Claus" is another name for the real St. Nicholas and tell them his story. Celebrate the day. Encourage your children to leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors on Dec. 5. When they awaken, they will find small gifts like candy or fruit if they’ve been good.

6. Participate in the Giving Tree at church. Have your children buy a gift to donate to children in need or perform some service for the poor or elderly.

7. Put a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out some of the animals. You can put the other statues out, but in another place in your home. Each week, read a little from the Christmas story in Luke's Gospel, and move the statues a little closer.

8. Have the children place a piece of straw in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.

9. Take the entire family, when possible, to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

My prayer for all families that they be strong, prayerful, and loving to each other and that this Advent season be one of joy, anticipation, and growing faithfulness.  AMEN