Monday, October 31, 2011

"Invite the poor" Luke 14

So much about humility in the readings day after day... Jesus is pounding into our thick heads just how important it is that we keep ourselves small and go to the lowest place of honor... Talking to the Little Sisters of the Lamb this morning on the phone... takes me to a place of humility... they totally LIVE the Gospel for today!  They go out and beg for their food from the poor!
Today in the Gospel... Jesus tells us..."When you have a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;  blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.  For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous."  Luke 14:12-14  I was reminded of the place we shared as a family - our farm in Wisconsin - where we encountered the bareness of being poor in things and relying on the basics with no running water in the house.  The vision of some photos I had taken there in my early Catholic days came to me as I read the meditation of the day in the Magnificat this morning by one of my favorite writers... Caryll Houselander!

"Poverty is like one little room.  The windows are open, the sun comes in,

"the walls are whitewashed, there are one or two books chosen for our delight, they are read and re-read; if there is a picture it is one bought at the cost of sacrifice because it is a real joy, we see it because there is no bric-a-brac to distract from it...

"There is one earthenware pot that holds water, and the wild flowers know in it their affinity to earth and rain. 

"The room is a workroom, in it we learn the joy of good work, done well, and of the real charity, the fellow-feeling, of working with others. 

We share the dreams, the ardors and the endurances of other people: we have the key of love." 
Caryll Houselander (1954)

This is a photo... not a painting of the Wisconisin countryside.  Lord, there is so much the last few days that you are telling us to be the least... That is where we turn to you realizing that we are nothing without you.  It allows us to rid ourselves of all the bric-a-brac that fills our vision and distracts us from the simple Truth!  May we simplify our surroundings within and without.  Thank you for those times away from all that pulls us from you in the midst of hard work, nature and the simple things of life.  May we cling to that memory and find there that whitewashed room filled with SONlight!  May those two books be YOUR WORD to us, and may we take that within and become your light and truth to all those around us...especially our domestic Church - our families!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb  This is a self portrait of my sister, Mary, and I... It was a abandoned church and the out of focusness adds to the out of this world feel as Mary has been dead from lymphoma cancer since 1986! 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit," says Christ, "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  This is true, all the other Beatitudes promise future blessedness, but this one gives the loveliest of all , here and now, the kingdom of heaven, which in this life is known in the wonder and the realization of life and beauty, in the keeness of the mind and of the senses, in the power of selection and in the response of the unspoilt spirit of God and man." 
Caryll Houselander

Sunday, October 30, 2011

watching gate time - photo op

While Pat feeds... I wait not too patiently to get to do my job...opening a gate and keeping wayward cows from trying to get out...Sometimes it takes a while, so this is one time that my husband tells me that I can take pictures to pass the time.  I don't think he quite wants to be in them, but...
But these three eating are even cuter than my hunky husband!  Enjoy!  I thought their fuzzy hair and different colors made them super special!  Bless-bless, Barb

"as a nursing mother cares for her children..."

Today at mass the second reading rang like a bell to me as I heard mention of the gentleness "as a nursing mother cares for her children."  1st Thessalonians 2:7-9,13  After spending a good part of the day together yesterday with my Johnny... my youngest child here on earth, and one that we joked that the umblilical cord had reappeared over the year we spent together fighting the battle against brain cancer! 
That all came rushing back upon us... as we had the desire and mission, yesterday, to finally go and meet a girl a year older than John, who is in her last days of life due to brain cancer.  We have known about Lisa for almost the entire time of our journey.  Both she and John are farm kids and they are only a year apart in age and only an hour apart from one farm to the other.  She discovered her cancer at the beginning of August 2 years ago, at the same time that John had his brain biopsy and discovered the name of his cancer!  They have kept track of each other on caringbridge, but never met until yesterday. 

They have closely shared many experiences, but never have their paths crossed so that they could meet.  They both had full brain radiation, but a few weeks apart.  They both had stem cell transplant at the same time... hers was done a bit different from John's but they used the same chemo.  She was living at the transplant house, and John and I rented our own home for the 5 weeks we were there.  John had reached Complete Responce - CR - Christ Rules, before we started the stem cell and it has stayed gone every time we go back!  Lisa was sent home to die after she was partially through her stem cell as the cancer kept on growing.  That was a year and a half ago!  She has done therapy and homeopathic treatments and had a good year and a half!

John wears Lisa's bracelet and prayed for her at Lourdes and every day.  While we were in France... as he was there to pray and thank Our Lady for his healing... he took Lisa with him there, and asked that she could have a miracle too!  This candle he blessed with the miraculous spring water that continues to flow and heal many, and he lit it in the grotto to Our Lady!  Yesterday he sat next to a sleepy Lisa, and told her that he prays for her and will continue to pray for her.  "I admire the battle you have fought, and I will always wear your bracelet."  John told her fighting back tears.

With this wonderful image of our Spiritual Mother in the grotto that she appeared to St Bernedette and continues to work miraculous healings... I am pondering the care that Lisa's mother has given her daughter 24/7!  She has demonstrated her love for her daughter in her constant care for her, and striving to go down every avenue to find the healing that she desperately wanted for her.  Now as she draws close to the end of her earthly battle...she is not carrying a burden, but leaving it in the Lord's hands and enjoying her final days with her daughter and the family that is gathering around her!

John blessing Lisa's candle and saying a prayer for her.  As we drove away from our time with Lisa and her family... John found himself in tears at the realization of all that he faced and now has been blessed with his healing.  "I feel guilty, and I wonder why me... Why was I spared? I know that it is advances in cancer research and some of that was on me, as I am so rare, but I also know that a lot of it was prayer. But Lisa had a lot of prayers too!"  I reminded him that the life he has been given will not always be sweetness and light, and Lisa will not have to face the hard things or any more suffering. 

Lord, we are forever changed by our journey that continues.  The loss of someone so young is very hard and sad... give her family strength and comfort.  Show us how we can minister to them in their need.  Be with Lisa... May her passing from this world be peaceful, and may her family have the strength to allow her to go to be with Jesus.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"Merciful and compassionate is the Lord, your God, and he will not turn away his face from you if you return to him."  2 Chr 30:9

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tractor time...

The tillage is underweigh and that means around the clock running of the tractor for the guys.  This year Ruth's husband, Paul, is helping out too, but it still means long hour for Pat.  I just rode along and got a good visit in to help break up the lonely hours of going back and forth pulling a heavy duty disc.  That is the only way they are preventing the big hard dry chunks due to the drought. 
John and I had a good yet emotional day today... we went to visit a girl, who is at the end of her battle with brain cancer and lives just an hour away.  She is only a year older than John and they have been on the same journey a lot of the way, except after John's stem cell - his cancer was gone and continues to be gone, and she was sent home to die as her tumors continued to grow through the stem cell! 

John got a chance to ride along with his dad too... after we got back from our emotional visit.  "I feel guilty that I had such an easy time, and am healed."  We continue to Trust and Hope.  Bless-bless, Barb

LIFE... no matter how long

This week attending the funeral of my 58 year old brother-in-Christ, Larry.  This morning getting a message from a young friend with news of a mischarriage, and on our way to visit a 23 year old girl, who is towards her end of a 2 1/2 year battle with brain cancer.... Life is a gift no matter how long or short, and we immediately form a loving attachment and they are our "FAMILY!" 
May we ponder the gathering of Family in heaven... we will rejoice! And may the reminder of their finding freedom from suffering and sadness... as they leave this world behind.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleuia!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Preg check time.

Snowball made eye contact before she went into the headgate and the verdict is..... She's pregnant!  Ruth told Mary she will probably have her calf just about the same time that Ruth has her baby... so now Mary will be waiting and hopeful for both!  Life is good and abounding!
Little Dave climbed the fence, and gave the cows a helpful finger point to the direction they should go.  Grandpa thought that he was a big helper!   He loves to have Davey around!
The preg checking crew wait for some more cows to come down the shoot... Lilly the dog, is the official nose licker when they are locked up in the headgate! 


Saddly we say goodbye to little Henrietta today... an accident brought about an early end for her.  A grandmother's heart was rended by the tearful words of little 3 year old Davey..."My kitty dead, grandma!"  Davey and I talked about maybe having a little prayer service for her later today.  He will be here for pregnancy checks of the cows this afternoon.  Davey being home alone, while the other two are at school... had gotten very attached to the little female kitten.
Lord, we know that animals are not on the same plane as we are, but they are life and their sweet looks and loving ways pull at our heart strings.  Help little Dave and his family to take away from this the reminder that life is to be cherished and is a special gift to be honored and protected... yet trusting when it comes to an early end that, although we don't understand and it hurts for a while, that you are in control of all life.  Not a sparrow falls to the ground and you know about it!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen

She gave them some weeks of joy, yet there is also the responsibility of caring for them and that is not always sweetness and light. 
Today is the feast day of one of Simon's patron saints - St Simon the Zealot - one of the twelve apostles, who walked the earth with Christ as one that answered the call of Christ to join him!  Much explanation today of how the apostles needed to have that zeal for their faith in Christ... especially after his death and fueled by the Holy Spirit sent to them, so that they could carry forth the Gospel to the ends of the earth!  WE are all asked, as followers of Christ to join with them!  The Zeal is that flame within!

"The Word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him in whom we must render an account."  Hebrews4: 12-13  That about sums it up... and the Truth is what we rally around and carry forth into our lives with great ZEAL!

"O that today you would listen to his voice!"  Psalm 95                                 "Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  For is anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in the mirror.  He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.  But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does."  James 1: 22-25  May the fire/zeal within us cause us to hold the Truth always close to us, and may it reflect in all we do or say! 

They have plenty of other kitties to help them find comfort... Lord, we ask to learn from our pain in life, and the loss of a dear pet is always a sad time.  Our thoughts question why, and yet we must go foward knowing that there is a plan, and that there are many ways of being comforted.  Time is the healer, as well as the other loving people and animals in our lives.   May we go forth embracing the true meaning of LIFE and LOVE, and sharing that TRUTH with great ZEAL that comes from our LOVE of YOU and your WORD!  May small lessons of loss remind us that we are yours and that life here is short, and we long to be united with you in eternal life of belonging to you... body, mind and spirit!  Jesus, we shout at the top of our lungs... "Jesus is Lord, and LIFE is with HIM!"  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!
Bless-bless, Barb
"Now, zeal is one of the elementary religious qualifications; that is, one of those which are essential in the very notion of a religious man.  A man cannot be said to be in earnest in religion, till he magnifies his God and Savior; til he so far consecrates and exalts the thought of him in his heart, as an object of praise and adoration, and rejoicing, as to be pained and grieved at dishonor shown to him, and eager to avenge him.  In a word, a religious temper is one of loyalty towards God... To be loyal is not merely to obey; but to obey with promptitude, energy, dutifulness, disinterested devotion, disregard for consequences.  And such is zeal, except that it is ever attended with the reverential feeling which is due from a creature and sinner towards his Maker, and towards him alone.  It is the main principle in all relgious service to love God above all things; now, zeal is to love him above all men, above our dearest and most intimate friends." 
Blessed John Henry Newman (1890)  May we all join the army of God, and fight the good and righteous battle of Good against Evil!  Happy feast day sweet Simon Patrick Lanoue!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thinking about getting to heaven today...

A day of many tears and such deep convictions flowing through me about how the Lord is calling us to live the Gospel in our lives and that is how we are to share this life with HIM as well as the one after....  The beauty of the sky on our travels to and from Montevideo today as well as the beautiful fall colors added to the glory of the Word of God shared at Larry's funeral mass as well as the sacrament of the Eucharist! 
With our trees bare already... to see these spectacular trees in the bright fall sun was a delight.  But each word of the Gospel was a ringing bell to me... Matthew 25: 31-40.  It spoke of the life that Larry lived in his humble service to all those in need... from alcoholics anonymous, TEC, REC, and within the church on the Diocesan Parish councils and in charge of faith formation within his church there in Monte...  It put the spotlight on my own life and how much more I could do, and should do! 

The floral arrangement from his wife was placed on a cross... so appropriate and special!  Her most cherished cross is now gone to wait for her in heaven. 

So wonderful to see leaves refleting the sunlight as we traveled to the cemetary... they speak of life in each glowing jewel... life that will soon fall to the ground, but promises to return with the spring after the long winter of sleep.  Larry has left this world but will return in the eternal spring of LIFE eternal! 
Lord, how I long to be with you each and every moment of every day.  Give me the strength to walk away from my selfish ways and give til it hurts.  Jesus, I trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia

Bless-bless, Barb
"When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne, and the people of all the nations will be gathered before him.  Then he will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the righteous people at his right and the others on his left.  Then the King will say to the people on his right, 'Come and possess the Kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.  I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.'  The righteous will then answer him, 'When , Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you into our homes, or naked and clothe you?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?'  The King will reply, 'I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!' 
Matthew 25: 31-40

Goodbye to a family member... Larry

For the last 12 years I have worked many retreats called TEC, and always there has been my brother in Christ, Larry Loken.  Sharing a ever deeper walk with our Lord truly brings us together as family... there is that amazing bond... not blood but spiritual makes it even more binding.  The Lord asks us to become one body within the Church.  Following HIM - we become one family!
My brother, Larry, died last Friday at the age of 58.  He had shared with us openly the struggles he had as a young man with alcoholism.  Now sober and working in many ways to touch those that needed to come to a better place with our Lord!  Larry worked not only with all ages at TEC, but also was very devoted to working REC - Residents encounter Christ - in the prison!  A humble and beautiful brother in the Lord!  He will be missed.

Lord, at the setting of our days... as we walk into the sunset... may we always find the peace and joy of knowing that we are coming to walk ever closer with you in eternal life.  May Larry's family find peace in knowing that he is coming quickly to be with you, and to suffer no longer with the physical pain.  Thank you for the gift of Larry.  Hold him close to your heart burning with love for him.  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"Brothers and sisters:  If God is for us, who can be against us?... It is Christ who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us.   What will seperate us from the love of Christ?  Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 
No, in all things we conquer overwhelminly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor princepalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creatures will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8: 31-39 St Paul tells us to take heart today in the first reading!  Jesus, we trust in you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The angel...

Many years ago for Christmas... maybe as many as 15 years... I got this rub on angel for a window.  My then young 12 year old daughter,Maria,  took meticulous care rubbing it onto the center of our front huge picture window.  There it has been all these years, and truly has become an etching that will be there always.  Washing the window has no effect on it, nor does the sun that pours upon this window that gains the rising suns rays for the entire morning day after day! 
We truly have an angel watching over our farm... she ponders the heifers in the pasture with Lilly laying there watching them.  How Lilly loves to lick their noses under the fence, and the angel thinks that is a bit silly.  Guardian angel watch out for us. 

Bless-bless, Barb

Some guardian angle pictures..