Thursday, March 31, 2011

LIFE - within and without..all that makes me - me!

 In two days I will be given the grace and priviledge to pray outside an abortion clinic with my children and grandchildren!  It is very much on my mind as the time comes closer and I am blessed with daily updates from 40 days for life on email.  Pat mentioned to our confirmation kids last night that I would be doing this on Saturday morning, and that they might send up a short prayer for the cause for life at that time.  Once again that amazing unity of prayer that is so powerful in this lifetime for me and those in our family - especially in the last almost 2 years of the fight for John's life as he fought and won over brain cancer!
This is the meditation that I received today from 40 days for Life - day 23...
REFLECTION by Rev. J. Kirk van der Swaagh

Human beings -- God's tapestries.

Psalm 139 is a psalm that reveals the enormity and
otherness of God. His divine attributes are on
display: omniscience (2-4), omnipresence (7-12),
loving-kindness (17-18), justice (19-20),
righteousness (23-24), and omnipotence.

Yet, when it came to express this last attribute, what
example did the psalmist use -- God's creation of
mountains, seas, or far-flung galaxies? No, he used
none of these.

To express the wonder of God's unparalleled creative
power the writer mentions the fashioning of the human
in the womb (14-16).

The Hebrew word used to express God's forming of us in
the womb, raqam, is the same term for needlework or

In other words, we are a tapestry that displays God's
artistic mastery.

And, like the artist who knows his creation down to
the last detail, God intimately knows us. This reality
provokes the writer to awe and wonder. He proclaims,
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

What is true for this psalmist is true for each human

Each is fashioned by God and known by him and we can
proclaim on behalf of each, "I am fearfully and
wonderfully made."

These are Maria's pictures in the barn and I love the subject matter and the lighting of the sun on them... 
Life has become the subject of my whole life and being!  Even in my job as a nurse this has been true - being a hospice nurse for over 15 years and now doing that job in the nursing home too!  But over and above that - being open to life in my family and now passing that on to my children.  I think of life throughout each and every day... it fills me with much joy and much need for constant prayer - with every beat of my heart and every breath that I take - all possible because I have been given the gift of Life and I want to pass that on to all that I come in contact with... those closest to me in my domestic church - my family... but beyond that to ALL! 
I will keep this short today - Jesus, we turn to you, our creator, and ask that we may truly honor every life no matter how small.  Allow us to respect and adore all life and to share that wonder with all those around us.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!
Bless-bless, Barb

Prayer to End Abortion

"Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen! "

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515

Nurse Barb on the job...

Do you remember the story of Oliver Twist?  I mean the calf that was born by C section as the uterus was twisted and so the cow could not dialate for him to be born normally, so in the early evening we put her in a trailer and took her almost half an hour away for a C-section... Pat  had tried to pull him out, but couldn't... the front legs have wounds where the chains were and now we are cleaning them and dressing them every few days so that they can heal... I was the resident nurse - called upon to use my "skill" to minister to Oliver's needs.  Pat said that he looked like a "fancy calf" with his white wrapped legs... much like a horse or colt with their stockinged legs.  I thought that he looked mighty cute, and definitely healthy.  The vet thought that with a little extra care and some time in a clean pen with corn stalks to lay on...that he should recover just fine.
Little Oliver gets to nurse on his mother....the zipper in her side is her badge of courage - gettting her calf here was not easy and took the expert help of the vet.  Now with Oliver's wounds to heal... it is a challange and an ongoing job to keep the cows and calves healthy!  We are up to the job!  Nurse Barb signing off.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sharing humility...

I awoke to the surprise visit from a dear friend/daughter... I had just been called in to see my head nurse this morning after working all night and the feeling of - now what did I do wrong- fills you as you mentally go over what this could have to do with.  It is so hard to face our mistakes and to be humbled, and to look past the situation... realizing that in some situations as we all try to do our best for people.. there are hurt feelings and misunderstandings...  That justification need that we have... What if you can never have a chance to do that?  The motto that the Community of the Lamb lives by comes to mind..."Wounded, I will not cease to love." 
As I was walking this exact path in Saint - Pierre, France.. Little Sister Sarah was telling me about how they try to live by this..."That is really hard to do."  I said.  "Yes, it is very hard, but so powerful to at least attempt to embrace the cross in this way."  She responded.

The tears are hard to fight, and I am overcome... when I see the look of love, joy, humility, and yet total shock that we had just jumped on a plane in 24 hours notice and arrived in France to everyone's out of this world surprise... Susan/Hallel's first reaction was "Why?"... why come all this way for her?  But this was a huge step for her to take the habit of the community and change her name - saying that she had answered His call to become a member of the Community of the Lamb!  This miracle of the Holy Spirit took John from laying helpless on a bed in a fetal position, to a sense of turning the corner, and filled with hope and trust in the Lord's healing touch.  It truly changed him to go to France, and be there with his beloved Susan!  And I know how important it was for Susan to have her only beloved brother there too!  These two have always been so close!  You can see it in their faces!  Such a gift for a mother to see this, and to experience this over the years!   Thank you, Jesus! 

The platform walker allowed John to start to slowly be independent... without it he was totally dependent on his family to get anywhere.  It was very slow and hard to maneuver in France... with the hills and walking necessary to get places... but we were there, and we managed, with some difficulty, to do all that we wanted to have the full experience that we had wanted with Susan! 

Wheelchair with the help of his loving and concerned sister, Nancy... Or they provided us with a car and a driver if needed too... We got there and we did all that we needed to do... such a sense of accomplishment!  All were working with us, and helping us, and amazed beyond belief that we were there!  A miracle!  A life changing event in the midst of the nightmare called cancer, that had entered our life, and become intertwined with the lifechanging experience that Susan - soon to become little sister Hallel this day in August- was entering into! 

So many emotions as I look at this and all that it represents... the two sharing so deeply in humility... one leaving the world behind, and the other with the world, as he knew it, taken away from him.  Both of them trusting in the Lord's love, and total control of all that they face ahead of them.  John needing his sister to go forward and to stand upright - hoping and trusting.  And Hallel allowed to share and support her brother as he goes forth into the journey of cancer/healing.  Totally relying on God, and their faith, and the sacraments to get them through!  I can see the spiritual army around them - Jesus, Mary, all the angels and saints are there with them!  Each aware of the prayers - love that is carrying them... Jesus - asking them to go forth carrying their crosses, and supporing one another on the road ahead. 

Jesus, such joy and hope and trust and humility is all a part of this journey.  We are better for it and forever changed and brought deep... the Wounds of cancer and no longer having our precious daughter, little sister Hallel, a part of our day to day lives... we continue to love!  And a LOVE of such reality and power - we could never have believed that love could hurt so good!  We are yours and trust in you to be in control, and to use us to your honor and glory.  May we love as you do, and take those situations that wound us realizing that we are being called to grow in LOVE!  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"Whoever comes close to me comes close to the fire."  Whoever comes close to him, accordingly must be prepared to be burned... It burns, yet this is not a destructive fire but one that makes things bright and pure and free and grand.  Being a Christian, then, is daring to entrust oneself to this burning fire... Christ is the one who brings peace.... Truth does not come cheap.  It makes demands, and it also burns." 
Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

grandpa's wish...

Pat is one busy guy these days with about 80 calves on the ground... you wouldn't think that he had time for much else... Well, the last two days he has constantly been missing the grandkids... "I miss my Davey.  I wish that he could come over."
Pat just likes to share everything with someone else... I was the lucky one yesterday to help him "look at and treat" the calves... I had my camera and managed a few here and there.  He is my favorite subject, and the ones from behind are the most frequent so that I don't get reprimanded too much. He was a bit distracted here....
I rolled out of bed this afternoon- I have to work all night at the nursing home tonight - to have the bedroom fill up with the guys!  Pat got his wish - Ruth and Paul took Mary for Kindergarten Round up at Holy Redeemer, so he got the boys to take along with him to town... They could be hitting adoration, Mac and Dons, as well as Pat's favorite cause in the whole wide world - giving blood.  It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
The cat got a lot of needed attention... using the famous "belly hold."
Davey had to discuss tractors with grandpa - I think that he would rather be going outside with grandpa rather than on an adventure to town.
How grandpa loves to have the kids along... it is always good for a tale to be told after it is over with... I have to say that there is usually a" happily ever after" at the end.  "I just love to take the kids along!"  is grandpa's motto for life... tonight he is smiliing ear to ear!  Thank you Lord for the little things in life, and a husband that loves life through and through! His kids and grandkids always felt loved and appreciated!  Bless-bless, Barb

Thinking about Generation Y

I attended a CCW meeting last night that featured a young transitional Deacon, Deacon Jacob Niemand, speaking about Marriage and Family life... my most cherished and favorite topic ever!  One thing that he pointed out at the beginning was that he is a member of Generation Y.  I realized that all of my kids are in this generation and I started to listen with them in mind... I just googled Generation Y and discovered that they are the generation born between the last 1970s and 2000.  My kids are born from 1980- 1989...
I did a photo study of putting clothes on the line yesterday... I find all things worthy of study and sharing, I guess.  I ask your forgiveness of my indulgences and with that said - I am giving huge and painful thought to giving it up for Lent - next year... I think I hear a sigh of relief out there... especially from my own family! 
The sock that dissappeared in the snow... now back to Generation Y... I have 5 children in that age group, plus I know many of the neices and nephews as I am the oldest of 11 and Pat the middle of 10!  We also have formed relationships with many of generation Y in working many TEC retreats and also teaching confirmation for many years... So we know and love many from this generation! 
I guess the closest to home are the 5 children that we raised.. our youngest is 22 and has returned to college life after taking a year to fight brain cancer! 
Deacon Niemand made some statements that I have noticed and realized sadly is the case..."The Y generation is addicted to being happy, and do anything to keep happy."  Yes, I do see that so often and that is why I preach from the rooftops that things is not the answer but being open to family and siblings is the answer!  The two perfect kids is a horrible lie from Satan that the world has taken to heart and as a result the pampered and privileged children do not know how to think past "me."
I just read an article about the Y generation in the work force - "Matt Berkley, 24, a writer at St. Louis Small Business Monthly, says many of his generation have traveled and had many enriching experiences, so they may clash with older generations they see as competition or not as skilled. "We're surprised we have to work for our money. We want the corner office right away," he says. "It seems like our parents just groomed us. Anything is possible. We had karate class, soccer practice, everything. But they deprived us of social skills. They don't treat older employees as well as they should."

Things happened in our family that "took us deeper." Deacon Jacob spoke of this as a way to deal with some of these difficulties...
Being open to family was not a smooth road for us... we had 6 losses over our nest years... One thing that I was counseled to do,but never could..."Why don't you wait until you know that you are going to have a baby before you announce to your family that you are expecting?"  I couldn't!  Now I see how it helped our children and our family to Go DEEPER!  Sharing the loss and grief with each one of these beloved brothers and sisters... took them to a deep level of knowledge that the world is not a bed of roses, and a huge appreciation for the siblings that they were blessed with. 
These crosses were a huge blessing and it has carried over to the girls now with pregnancy and family and opennss to having the children that the Lord wants for them... They embrace life and are open to it... knowing that they too could have a loss along the way, but taking advantage of all the modern advances in this area.  All 3 of the girls have done Creighton natural method, and Ruth is even an instructor! 
Another powerful step into deepness that we fell into as a family was to share the lives of the Saints... somewhere we got a wonderful Saint book for children, and when we would gather as a family for "prayer time" in the family room at night before bed... the kids would call out for this saint or that... John would always ask for St Rita for a long time...she got a thorn, from the crown of thorns, in the middle of her forehead, after she asked to share in the suffering of Christ...
St Maria Goretti was also one they asked for often... she fought off a man that was set on raping her at 14, and he stabbed her to death... she later appeared to him in prison and with her forgiveness and light - he was converted to Christ... so fitting to mention this today with the Gospel being from Matthew 18, where Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness... "I say to you, forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times."
It became so evident that the home is the place where we must take them deeper... yes, there were things that happened to us with our openness to life... but as hard as it was - I would not change any part and Pat never did anything but continually support me with each pregnancy and whatever was the result... They are all named and probably with us more each day than those that are here with us on earth... Christopher, Thomas, Joseph, William, Robert and Mary pray for your family here on earth - that we may all be together in heaven some day.
It was also some things that we actually did - consciously realizing that in our "domestic church" we wanted to promote and share the wonder of our Catholic faith and love of the Bride, the Church, and Jesus Christ the groom!  It is hard for me to realize that our kids are cradle Catholics... it just seems that my experience is their's also.  And in lots of ways it is, and the fact that I chose to be Catholic and cherish it beyond words - although I find many to try to express it- has flowed over my kids with wonderful results!  Now they are taking me DEEPER! 
Jesus, I love you and praise you!  I also know now that the cancer that we faced with John was all part of your amazing plan!  It took us to a depth of the "storm" that we never would have imagined possible..  It brought John and his family and so many prayer warriors to the realization that prayer is so amazing and powerful, and it is a truly a love communication between you and us!  We are forever changed and prayer has become as every breath that we take and every beat of our hearts!  We cannot survive without YOU!  When we are weak... you come to us and carry us as helpless lambs with the wolf breathing down our necks... We are saved and we cling to the Truth and the Love and with Trust we know that we are held close to your heart burning with LOVE for us!  We ask for the ability to forgive so that we can be forgiven.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!
Bless-bless, Barb
One statement that Deacon Jacob made last night that really shook my world was that his generation has never not known abortion to be legal!  I found this uplifting article -"Generation Y"... the most prolife generation Yet!" by Joleigh Little

"Consider in the past year such headlines as the Atlanta Journal Constitution's "Abortion Activists Fight Youth Apathy" and Glamour magazine's "The Mysterious Disappearance of Young Pro-Choice Women." Read the pro-abortion spokespeople quoted and their frustration is almost palpable. They seem shocked that this generation of young people isn't buying into the abortion mentality.

But it's not such a surprise, really. Pro-life people have children, and raise them to understand that life should be protected. Pro-abortion people frequently have abortions.

But raising life-affirming children is only part of the explanation. Anyone born after January 22, 1973, is a survivor. At some level--consciously or subconsciously--they know they could have been just another statistic.

That tends to have an effect on a generation. How much that is true is showing up in many ways."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Lady of the Clothes line - I have missed you!

Frozen clothes pins, socks that fell in the snow and I couldn't find them - white socks in white snow - at least they were nice and white.... dressed in hat, gloves and a winter coat, and boots on my feet.. I realized that it is a lot easier to maneuver with shorts and a tshirt on in the summer, and bare feet in the nice green grass, but with my sheets blowing in the wind and some time with our lady on the deck along with...
big healthy Lilly the dog... she seemed to look with adoring eyes at me and Our Lady of the clothes line... the first sign of spring - clothes blowing on the clothes line.  We are pushing it a bit, but it sure felt good to be out at the clothes line and slipping across the deck and down the snowy icy steps... I am ready to crawl into those nice sweet smelling and cool sheets... Wonderful! 

"Athirst is my soul for the living God."Psalm 42:3

I just went to Maria's blog to find that she had written about their move to Georgia - it was great to read and soon pictures are to follow. I am so happy for them to have had their first weekend as a family and to love their place there.  Pat was just saying that we might have to visit the little sisters in KC this summer and then go on to see Maria and the kids... That would be wonderful, and gives me something to look forward to! 
One of the paintings that Therese and I did while she was here with me...  Much talk the last two days about the "living water."  In water color paintings water is very important to put the color on the paper and to make it vibrant with less water and lots of rubbing and softer with more water... Water color is my thing, and when I would watch my mother with her oils and acrylics and her huge canvases... this is quick and simple and I can get it out with the grandkids and use regular paper.  I love to sit on the beach in Michigan and sketch and paint day after day and have many wonderful keepsakes at the end of the week!  I love to paint with water and I also love that way that light is a paintbrush in photography!

Half of the painting we did of her mother's side of the family...

The other half... Maria said that Hallel looks like she has goggles on...I love the Gospel yesterday about the woman at the well in Samaria... the fact that she had this personal and one on one encounter with Jesus is so powerful and the loving forthright way He spoke to her and introduced himself her...She says..."I know the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he tells us everything."  Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Listen to this from the same Gospel Luke 4... After he has asked her for a drink from the well, He says these words..."If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you,'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.... whoever drinks of the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Sometimes this thought of the "living water" welling up in me is a bit foreign, but when I really think about how I am never thirsty or hungry ... I am fed and sustained in a most wonderful and amazing way! When I think of the year we faced our 20 year old son's brain cancer a year and a half ago... we were never feeling alone... we knew from the very beginning that we were in the midst of "the storm" and that God was in control!  When we tried to carry the load without Him - although He was truly carrying us at the time - then we would find the fear and be overwhelmed by all that we were facing - a parent's worst nightmare! 

The Samaritan woman was one that was looking for happiness with a man, and had gone through many husbands and lovers...  She was literally looking for love in the wrong places.  She was avoiding the "cross" that comes with a true working out of Christian marriage.  And in that sense I can see that God blesses our weak and poor efforts at making a marriage work with the fruit of our union - our children, and the years of the ups and downs shared... the living water that quenches our thirst for the real things that matter in life - our Faith, our Family, and our Farm life! 

Jesus, allow us to know that this well is brimming up within us... to give us the refreshement of the Spirit as we face all the deserts of struggle in our families, and our marriages, and our day to day work...  the Cross in our lives.  May we shoulder it with your constant help, and giving us the living water as we go forward down the path that you have laid out before us!  Allow our domestic church - our families - to be a little slice of heaven as we put you in the center of our homes and our lives!  We want to share this with all those that we come in contact with - may we give them a drink of this life with you, and may they come to you for "living water."  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia! 
Bless-bless, Barb
"Ho. everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
you that have no money.
come, buy and eat!
Come, by wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that
which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food." 
Isaiah 55: 1-2
This was the scripture that my dad was reading on an Ignation retreat in 1971, and was told to become a Catholic - he was a Protestant minister at the time.  Six months later he along with my mother, and 11 of us kids all recieved our First Communion at Chirstmas Eve midnight mass!  We partook for the first time... the "living water" of his body and blood!  Every day of our lives since - we can receive Him into ourselves!  We are forever blessed and changed! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The same sky...

Growing tired of the snow that has been the background of my blog... I went to a tropical scene with the amaizng deep blue sky and white fleecy clouds... on the way home from the nursing home noticing the sky over a cold blustery March day... much the same... yet so different.  We are filled with hope for the coming of warmth!  Jesus, we trust in you! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Together at last...Joseph and Maria family!

A weekend together in Georgia!
I hope that Joe could play his guitar this weekend... it was the first time they could be alone as a family for a couple years... living with others in their home last year, and then with his parents and now with us... I am thinking about them a lot! 
Lots of snuggle time and just time to relax and laugh and worship as a family today.  This was Joe's first weekend of leave since he went to officer training school a month ago!  Now they will happen every two weeks and the 12 days in between - Maria and the two kids will be able to swim, walk to the library or whatever and go to mass... She will enjoy being on her own and "making my own meals."
Little Dave watched "daddy movies" every day so that he would remember his dad after this long seperation... How I have been picturing them all together in their nice temporary home away from home.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder... should truly be the case for them! 
So I hope that they had lots of music and laughter and JOY!

Times to worship together and to feel the Love of our Lord so close to them... drinking of the water that quenches every thirst! 

Many blessings and the sweet odor of Family and Faith and Forever together... with a few weeks seperation here and there due to the military! 

And lots of love and snuggle time too! Jesus, thank you for getting Maria down there and moved into their nice place in time for the family to gather together... bless them with quality of time together even though the quanity is not near what they would like.  Get them through this transition and guide them always on the path that you have laid out before them.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Bless-bless, Barb