Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Preparing to go to Rochester tomorrow...

I have arrived in the Cities ahead of rush hour and in daylight... kept company by my wonderful rosary and chaplet of divine mercy... the miles flew by and my heart was uplifted to all those that I pray for daily starting with my children, children in law, grandchildren both here and in the womb and in heaven, my Godchildren, and many that are added per request to the 10 decades I pray daily - or try to.  The 3 hour trip up here is a wonderful chance to meditate on all 10 plus getting the chaplet that I like to add if I can!  So wonderful and deeply special!  I love to travel alone just for this gift of special prayers, but tomorrow I know that I will be fingering my beads throughout the travel and day of visits and waiting for  tests to be done.  I notice that I cannot focus quite as deeply when I am with family, but I do zoom in and out of the places of prayer with each decade.  There is a special need tomorrow as it looks to be our last 3 month check up for John's cancer/healing!  After we get the good news tomorrow we will go to every 6 months, and that will be a huge leap of faith and sign to us and all that are following our journey - that John has passed through the 2 year mark of being cancer free and there is now less of a chance that it will come back! 
I left the house just as 3 grandkids had just arrived with some ice cream... adding to the activity level of which Pat has been telling me about now and then on my trip up.  And baby Gus warmed up to grandma pretty quickly as we laughed at our "fake coughing game."  John will arrive here later tonight and then we will all jump in the car at 5a - Nancy, Augustine, John and I to head to the 6:30a bloodwork and MRI to follow!  We will meet with his cancer doctor just a little before 11a and get the good news!  Asking for the prayers which are the wind beneath our wings as John is surrounded by his loving and hope filled family! Jesus, we love you and thank you for the miracle of John being cancer free for 2 years... we place him in your hands and know that you are in control.  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia!

Leap of faith day/year

Snow day for the grandkids and coming over for the afternoon... mom and dad have to work still.  I am still going to head out to the Cities at noon as John and I have a big day at Rochester tomorrow for his 3 month check up.  So life goes on with a wing and a prayer for safety for all those that are out on the terrible side roads trying to live normally.  Today is not a normal day... it is a day we get only once every 4 years - Leap Year!  And it is especially special for Pat and I as the person responsible for us meeting has her birthday today.  Margie Rose/Raterra is 60 today, but in reality has had only 15 birthdays!  She has plans to be with both of her kids by tonight and one has to fly in from Seatle to be with her!  It is to be a special family time for her, and it shows what truly matters to her and what her biggest and best wish be with her family!  I so agree with that as being the best way I could think of celebrating, and am glad that even with the weather coming into play that she is able to go ahead with her plans.  Happy Birthday, dear friend, and it is so evident to me that Divine Providence brought us together at the U of M 41 years ago after Welcome week!  We never had classes together, but we met and were held together by Pat's prayers for a Catholic wife...but first I had to convert with my entire family!  First I had to convert, and become a nurse and work as a nurse at my beloved HCMC, and then come to your wedding after I had been a Catholic 6 years and gone through my nun years as well as the very beautiful romantic years of a new Catholic - so in LOVE with everything and all the books, and saints, and art,and mass, and everything about being Catholic!  Then we saw each other for the first time really... when I came home with you in college - he was only 15 and we really did not "see" each other then.  I came to your wedding on a hot day - June 10, 1977... I stayed at your house.  Thinking about it now- that was pretty bold on my part!  Pat will always remember that I laid out in the sun in my swimsuit and said my rosary that afternoon... just the combination a Catolic guy liked to see, I guess.  He speaks about it to this day - in talks at TEC and everwhere... embarrassing!  It made the fact that I was 3 years older seem like no problem at all!  So the rest is history!   Thank you, dear friend, and happy birthday so rare and special!  Bless-bless
Praying for safe travels and good news in Rochester!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

LOVE is the Word!

I have shared the small sign that Maria left under John's crucifix when she left to enter the Poor Clares 8 years ago..."This is how one loves"  This morning with the many reminders to us that Jesus is the Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us... revealing to us the LOVE of God for us, and allowing us to "see" God!  Really another sign that can be placed under the crucified Christ is... This is LOVE!  The amazing first verse of John's Gospel says it all..."In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  John 1:1  For Jesus to take all of our sins and failings to the Cross with him as a lamb goes to the slaughter... that is LOVE beyond measure!  We are overwhelmed by his selfless giving of all he had to give... Jesus, allow us to come closer to you and to die a little bit each day of Lent so that we may leave all our sins behind and become LOVE for our world starting with our domestic Church - our families.

I was looking at pictures taken 2 years ago, when John and I returned from his stem cell transplant... This was the final step in his cure -healing from brain cancer, and he came home to gradually get back to his new normal... as his stem cells seeds that had been planted took root and grew.  Ruth with her little 1 1/2 year old David, as he "eats her chin" out of love for mommy... now 2 years later they are just 2 months from expecting a new little brother or sister, and today John has an interview with an ag company up in the Cities for a possible job after graduating in a few months!  Much has happened in the last 2 years, and it is so appropriate, that when we go to Rochester on Thursday for his 3 month check up - that we hear the reassuring news that he is healed, and now we will go to every 6 month MRIs and blood work.  I find that to be a huge leap in faith, and it speaks volumes of John entering a better place with his cancer... a safer place where he can really spread his wings and live and gain more confidence that making it 2 years without a recurrance is a huge landmark for him!  I find that it a bit shakey to feel really comfortable with,but know that it is done with much practice and experience to back it up.  It is a huge message to John to relax and go and live his life, and TRUST for both he and his family and all of his many prayer warriors!

I love this picture of a young loving Blessed John Paul II... my hero!  How he taught me about LIFE and LOVE!  I sat at his feet from the beginning of my marriage - he became pope 2 months after we were married, and so my entire marriage was filled with his wisdom and Truth up until April 2, 2005 - Nancy's 23rd birthday - when he valiantly showed us how to embrace our suffering and die with hope and joy and peace.  Watching him become more and more incapcitated due to his parkinson's was so sad and hard, but it is reality for all of us as we face the end of our days... aging and diseases comes to us, and it is filled with suffering and as my mother puts it - "aging is a shipwreck."  I am in the midst of reading a very powerful book by Fr Walter J Ciszek, S.J. called He Leadeth Me .  He was captured by the Russian army and thought to be a Vatican spy... going from 5 years in prison in solitary confinement, and then going to hard labor in the Siberian Labor camps...This is a powerful paragraph from his book;
"Christ must have known what it is like to wake up stiff and sore on a dull, gray morning, must have had headaches and toothaches and backaches and aching bones, must have been anxious and irritated at times.  In the Incarnation God came to know for himself what a thing is the life of man, what a work of his hands is the creature composed of body and soul.  From the dark of the womb to the black of the tomb, through childhood to manhood to the last, slow long-drawn-out agony of dying, he has known for himself what it means to live in a handful of clay, to feel the cool touch of mother's hand on fevered flesh, to taste the salt of sweat and tears, to hear music and birdsong and the vilest of insults, to stumble and fall, be bruised and mangled and torn.  He cried out at last, as have all of us at one time or another, to be spared any more burdens or suffering.  The Incarnation, in short, meant that God became man, like us in all things, says St Paul, except sin."  Fr Ciszek
It speaks so much of what God did for us in becoming Man and taking our sins to the Cross - LOVE!
Johnny in the famous green jacket that all of his sisters wore ahead of him with a new calf - 21 years ago... we had some calves born overnight too!  
Jesus, we are engulfed by the ocean of your LOVE for us!  We are so undeserving, and yet we cling to you, and fall at your feet.  Forgive us, Lord!  May we leave our burdens at the foot of your Cross, and come through to the resurrection... to love and serve you in serving all those in our lives- especially those closest to us in our families!  Why are we the hardest, and most nasty to those that are the closest to us in our families?  May we, with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us,... come to give without counting the cost, and although we wound each other - "Wounded, I will not cease to love."  Lord, show us how to love, always no matter what we face.  For looking at you on the Cross we see how we are to love, and that you are truly LOVE!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
The first reading from mass today speaks of the Word... Isaiah 55: 10-11
"Thus says the Lord:  Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;  It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it." 
Lord, use me!  May LOVE dwell within me and transform the world around me!
The green coat had gone down through all the girls and then 3 years later to John!  That is a well loved and used jacket - if only I had kept it for the grandkids! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting Hay

It felt good to bask in the sun and say my rosary as I hauled a load of hay from the other farm today.  I find that the job that used to make me nervous has become familiar to me and I know how to swing out wide so that the wagon behind me will not go over the edge or into the ditch.  I know the speed to travel so that the wagon doesn't sway back and forth, and find that it is a pleasant outing to go over to the other farm and back with a load of hay.  It certainly makes it nice to have the beautiful weather, and the nice roads.  That could all change tomorrow, but we have learned that time will tell this winter.  It seems that there is a big bubble over us preventing the snows from coming with any kind of accumulation.  I have some plans this week with John's trip to Rochester and maybe up to see my dad for his 87th birthday... we get pretty relaxed with plans this winter... just taking for granted the nice weather.
We are just enjoying it each and every day that we have the nice sun and no snow.  It is great calving weather, so prayers please for them to come into a nice world and not one with lots of blowing snow and below zero temperatures!

Now to bed and sweet dreams thanks to COW TV!  How we love to sit on the couch and watch the cows in the calving barn... and they like it better too, because no one goes in there and disturbs then by walking in and turning on the light... they all stand up and you don't know what is going on!  This is such a wonderful gift to Pat and his calving!  How he loves to be able to walk out a few times at night and see better than he ever has before.  "They aren't disturbed and I can see what is going on... they are relaxed!"  I have actually seen a calf born for the first time in 33 years!  It is great!  Thank you, Lord, for cow TV!  Bless-bless


John, with the precious feet pin of a 8 week old baby on his stocking hat, was heading out the door after spending the weekend here with the family... I had to grab a few minutes to discuss how we might work out traveling together to Rochester together this week... On Thursday he has his 3 month check up, and we enjoy sharing the trip to visit and just be together... we find so much enjoyment and comfort there.  I missed most of his time home due to work and sleep turned around with working overnight, but we did get to share the stations/mass on Friday night.  That was very special as we are newly into Lent!  Today's Gospel builds on upon the homily that Fr Paul S. gave last night at the college - "MORE!"  is what we are asked to do during Lent..."If you are giving up something that is making you angry and lashing out at those around you.  Give it up,now!"  He encouraged us to give more during Lent, and that this is what Lent is all about.  The Gospel today is so beautiful and recently was read at the funeral of a dear friend, who lived and practiced this as his life! - Mt 25: 31-46
New International Version (NIV)
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
This Gospel truly convicts me to do better with my coporal works of mercy!  As Fr Paul reminded us last night to do MORE!  Who better to think of than Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and also I am thinking about Hallel's order - the Community of the Lamb, and how they are living in the midst of the poor and knocking on their doors representing Christ!  They are bringing the Word to them, and offering them the opportunity to give to them of the little that they have!  There is a wonderful story of two of the Little Sisters knocking on the door of a young woman with gang symbols and a tatoo, which also indicated that she had been in prison.  She was angry that they had come to ask her for food, when she did not even have enough for her children and herself.  So they talked with her and prayed with her, and she told them that she could give them a glass of water.  Little Sister Alma was greatly touched by her giving, and said that this was a great thing to happen in her abiltity to give. 

Lord, help us to get out of our comfort zone not only with giving up this Lent, but going out to love and to serve those that have needs.  May we truly give to them more and more.  Allow us to see you in all that we meet, and to give to them without counting the cost.  Just as Therese made pictures, and wrapped them around a few dollars, which she passed out her window to the poor mute man on the corner, and with her small 3 year old voice said, with genuine care and concern and love; "God, Bless you."  Wow!  ( too read about this on Maria's blog.... I wept for the shere beauty of it!)  It was a true coporal work of Mercy, for her to have a heart to do that... it took time spent in prayer and work to make the gift, and to reach out with her little trusting and loving hand and to place it in his!  May I hold that image in my heart, and carry it forth into my own life!  May I never turn my back nor walk past those in need, but see them as truly being You, Christ!  Jesus, I want to do better!  Jesus, I want to see your face in all!  Jesus, may I do a better job of seeing you in those closest to me in my domestic church - my family.  Jesus, I trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Christ feeding...
Bless-bless, Barb

Quotes of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
"Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet especially your family. Be holy – let us pray."
"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."

I never thought of the love and the care of a mother for her child as a corporal work of mercy... but, yes, it is the most beautiful form of loving without counting the cost! 
"When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.

It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. "  Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lent's graces and gifts

John walked into the house just as I walked out of the bedroom on Friday... sleeping through the day as I was in the midst of working 3 overnights at the nursing home.  How delightful to be greeted by my loving son!  We have grown so close after the last almost 3 years of journey called Cancer/healing!  Then Pat reminded us of the blessing that we are offered on Fridays during lent - stations/mass!  We love to share it with Pat's mom, so the 4 of us shared this wonderful time in our newly rennovated Church!  I was super excited to experience this at our newly beautified church, so I had my camera within easy reach and wanted to share a few of the time.  John got on me a bit about taking them, and not praying to the fullest, but it was so wonderful to be there with him.  Two years ago we had come home from Rochester following John's stem cell transplant... for John to recover from the bomb being dropped on him.  The chemo that wiped out his bone marrow, and then the new seeds were planted - his own stem cells that had been harvested before!  He was known as the "Rock Star" on the transplant floor - as he was young and healthy in every way, and showed how that can be a huge help in his battle and recovery!  We returned home more quickly than many, and he climbed the mountain to his new health and new normal.  He was ready to start college in the fall - only losing a year to fight the good fight!  We shared Lent here, and got used to the idea that John was cancer free and getting back to his new normal! 
John signaling that I should quit with the pictures - this was the 10th station - Jesus is stripped of his garments... the humility station, and where Susan/Hallel sat every morning for her holy hour and mass.  When I asked her why she had chosen that place in the church to sit - "It is the last pew with a kneeler and that way people couldn't see me cry."  She told me.  Coming out of the discernment house and realizing that God wasn't calling her to join the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus was very hard for her.  She felt that He was calling her to join the Community of the Lamb, whom she had met while studying in Rome, but they did not even have a house in the U.S. yet!  Within a month they had come to Kansas City, and she traveled there to help them settle in - for the Euopean sisters, it was their first time here!  She helped them build their chapel, and told her dad and I that she was going to join them in front of Our Lady of Guadelupe!  She needed to know that they would be in the U.S. and just a nice 6 hour trip from home!  How we love to go there and see our family, even though Hallel is now in France, we feel close to her there and are so greatly gifted and given such powerful graces by their lives of prayer and ministry! 

Jesus, I bask in your light remembering all the gifts and graces that you pour upon us.  This special time of Lent, where we are led to a closer and more recollected time spent with you.  We ponder more deeply the things that come between us and find great HOPE in remembering all the ways that you have touched us.  We ponder the fingerprint that shows how you have touched us personally and lovingly!  We are so unworthy of your LOVE and unconditional FORGIVENESS!  We are forever grateful for all the ways that we are filled with your Spirit and bear the fruit to the world around us!  I must go to say goodbye to my son... we will be traveling to Rochester on Thursday for his 3 month checkup - Prayers please!  Jesus, we know that you are in control, and we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Bless-bless, Barb
The second reading from mass today - I Peter 3: 18-22
18 "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[a] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[b] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. "
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of these 40 days of Lent - show us how to resist Temptation and turn to YOU!  The Gospel today gives us HOPE - "The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him."  Mark 1: 12-15

I love you, John! Safe travels to school.
Just a quick reminder that there is another blog that is sharing ideas for lent with your family - Bless-bless

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Watching Cow TV

This crazy fun picture was taken last year at this time... the new calf with the bunch of grandkids, Maria and Grandpa in his glory.  We just turned to our camera in the barn and saw on our TV that one of our all time pets - Baby - just had her calf since Pat came in the house about an hour ago.  John is super excited, because Baby has been a special show animal for him over the last almost 10 years probably.  We are excited to hear if it is a heifer or bull - already thinking that Mary might want to show it this summer at the fair.  How fun to have the next generation getting excited about showing those new set of pets that are coming from our herd.  This is what puts a smile on grandpa's face!  He loves his beef animals, and having the babies is what he just couldn't leave behind when he stopped milking cows.  Lord, we put calving in your hands, and aks that all will go well!  Thank you for the nice weather!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Bless-bless

Smiles at Small Things

This is my 2 year old grandson, David Joseph.  He lives in El Paso, Texas with his parents and older sister, Therese.   I borrowed this cool picture of David - as you can read... Maria left the two a few minutes peacefully brushing their teeth and returned to this - thank goodness he had his rubber boots on!  Of course, grandma had to smile and share!  These little (small) things, that could be an annoyance, should be looked at as funny.  Really small potatoes, to have to dry them off, and maybe find them some dry clothes, or in El Paso maybe just send them out into the warm/hot weather to air dry!  I have had kids and grandkids wet from marching through every mud puddle they can find in the spring...even had them end up in their bare skins in the water tank... life is an adventure and very special - cherish it, and enjoy it, and smile at it!
My two middle daughters have started a blog - , and they made me promise that I wouldn't take from their sharing there... other than to promote it here on mine.  They have both shared now, and they have some wonderful and simple and cheap ideas for Catholic parents.  Maria shared today about a crown of thorns that teaches the kids how to sacrifice, and that the Lord is pleased with this... such a hard lesson to understand ourselves - much less to teach our kids!  We always had a fast meal on Friday nights during lent... the Tomato soup we canned in the fall was our supper or baked potatoes.  That is why this all you can eat fish fry thing leaves me puzzled.  I personally cannot get excited about them, even though I know that it is a fundraiser for a good cause...  I thought that doing without as a family was a very powerful thing, and one that we continue to this day... part of the cement that holds our family firmly together into the domestic Church!  The Church that we formed, and nurtured within our family!
"The Lord vanquished the devil after he fasted for forty days, not that he would have been unable to conquer him before fasting, but that he might show us that we can be victorious over the devil when, by fasting for forty days, we have been victorious over fleshly desires."  St Maximus of Turin
The Gospel for today is the calling of St Matthew - Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners."  Lord, I admit that I am far from having it all figured out!  I need you and desire you to show me the ways that I am sick and need to heal!  I know I am weak, and do a poor job of following after you carrying my cross - the Tree of Life!  I whine, and complain, and do not smile at the small things that come my way... Help me to get past myself, and look at all the beauty of your world with resurrection eyes.
Help me to see you in all that I meet, and live with, and work with.  Allow we to willingly share in your suffering, and know that it is showing me how to LOVE!  "This is how one loves." That means the death on the cross!  Show me your Way, your Truth and your Life!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia
Bless-bless, Barb
"Incline your ear, O Lord, answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trust in you. 
You are my God.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken,O Lord,to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth." 
Psalm 86 from mass today... I want to know your Truth in my life, and smile at your face in all I see! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kneeling in your presence...

I borrowed this picture from Nancy's blog today of Augustine taking in the wonder of te world outside his window - they live on a very quiet street, but the world outside is a thing of delight for him - the light, the trees, the rare car, the squirrel, the dog, just the whitness of the new day... it is such a lesson on us taking the time to appreciate what comes to us with each new day!  To look past the annoyances of life and focus on the goodness we can discover, if we look hard enough!  To approach life with a smile on our faces and not a frown - would make those that encounter us - smile back, and thus it begins as we soften their hearts and in turn our hearts.  Lord, help us to follow afer you with LOVE and appreciation of the LIFE we are given to cherish and protect! 
Nancy and, at some point, Maria are starting a wonderful blog called Small things - here is the link -   I would highly suggest that you check it out... they will be sharing from a young Catholic wife and mother perspective and have already shared from the heart - I am loving it!  How wonderful to glimpse into their heart for their husband and children, but most of all for their Savior, Jesus Christ and his Bride, The Church!  I am so filled with gratitude and JOY!

Thank you Jesus, for the wonder of putting you in the center of our lives.  If Christ is first all the rest will fall into place - not only that but we will form a little slice of heaven within our domestic church - our families!  We are greatly touched by your endless LOVE for us and the LIFE of following you fills us with wonder and awe!  We love that quiet and peaceful holy place in our souls where we can come to kneel in your presence - Come Holy Spirit continually reveal to us the Truth, the Way and the Life!  May we gain strength and courage to face all that is hard and face it with a smile - seeing the good! Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Bless-bless, Barb
"A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  Psalm 51: 19b

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flying high

I am finishing up a book that appeared in my home... I was puzzled to find it laying by the door one day, and finally we figured out that it had been in a box a friend dropped off for a silent auction and it accidentally got taken out and left behind.  It was exactly the book I was thinking about in my inner place... as I am very concerned about a friend, who has wandered away from Christianity.  It is about 17 women raised Catholic that left for one reason or another, and then later in life discovered that the Truth lies in the Catholic Church!  There are many stirringly beautiful accounts of their years of being raised in the Church by faithful parents, and the story I just finished by Mary Kaiser was so sweet that I would like to share a few paragraphs tonight, before I go to lay down for a while before heading off to work my first of 3 overnights at the nursing home...  By the way the title of the book is - Prodigal Daughters by Donna Steichen - Catholic Women Come Home to the Church
"As a matter of course, we attended the parish school through eighth grade.  Sr Mary Louis was my beloved first grade teacher, and too expected us to work hard and strive always to be the best we could be, thus reinforcing the lessons learned at home.  Even when she disciplined me, I loved her intensely, because it was clear that she wanted me to learn from my mistakes.
Often she read to us from the lives of the saints, encouraging us to imitate our example.  The first real book that I ever read was the life of St Therese of the Child Jesus.  After that, it seemed natural to pretend to be that lovely saint of others who lives I read.  Along with the guidance of Sr Mary Louis, my mother's example, strength, and love led to an awareness of the spiritual realm.  I remembered that my Guardian Angel was my companion wherever I went. Often I saved a spot beside me for him to sit or commented under my breath to this unseen companion.
 The height of my joy came with my First Communion.  The nuns had prepared us with meticulous thoroughness to understand and long for this great sacrament.  I told everyone I encountered about the event.  Imagine!  Jesus Christ Himself wanted to be with me in this most intimate way.
In my quest to become a saint.  I sometimes crawled into the darkest parts of my closet to pray, so that only my Heavenly Father would see.  Other times I slipped pebbles into my shoes or knelt on the roughest available surface during morning or night prayers, and more than once I crawled into the thorn bushes to share the pain of our Lord's Passion.  Occassionally, trying to overcome my tendency toward sloth, I would do a good deed unseen, like making Mother's bed or picking up litter.  The hardest sacrifice came when I tried to keep quiet while someone else received the credit.  Still, the harder I worked for others, the more at peace I was with myself.  Striving to imitate the saintes made me immensely happy."
I was thrilled to read this... not growing up Catholic, but finding it as a 20 year old... we just celebrated our 40th anniversary of becoming Catholic!  Each day has been a glorious journey of faith!  Thank you, Lord!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Bless-bless

"This is how one loves."

Choose Life is echoeing in my ears and heart this morning... after sharing prayer and reading the scriptures for today!  I am also deeply pondering and attempting to remind myself of "this is how one loves."  Looking at the powerful crucifix - not only powerful in the strong form of the suffering Christ - not whimpy by any means... so bold and strong in his suffering and death... this crucifix represents so much to me!  It was the one that Maria nailed to a tree to begin and end the stations of the cross that she made for me in the grove beside our house, after she returned to us from her 5 months in the Poor Clare Monastery!  In that tree and exposed to the weather - it became as part of the huge lone silver maple tree that stands beside our garden.  The stations that became so powerful for her in her discernment of her call and understanding that the Lord did not want this of her - rather a call to marriage and raising lights to the world within her domestic Church - her little and growing family - growing not only here on earth, but also in heaven with 2 losses to mischarriage in the last year.  How closely our paths are the same... 
As I was preparing my crucifix and the sign beside it that Maria had left when she entered the Poor Clares... She had quietly gone into her 14 year old brother's room, and under the crucifix over his bed she had put the sign - "This is how one loves." How I had marveled over that reality then and now!
 I saw the 12 week old baby image...that I had gotten lately from a prolife speaker, that had come to Marshall on the anniversary of legalization of abortion.  With Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 vibrating in my heart - "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  Choose life, then, that you and your decendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him..."  Choose LIFE!  I am in the midst of reading an amazing book called The Prodigal Daughters  - a book of 17 women's stories, of leaving the Catholic Church in the turbulant 60's and 70's following the free love- do whatever feels good generation, and the feminist ideas, New Age etc... These are women that are basically my age, and then each one comes to the realization that the Catholic Church has it all figured out and is truly the True Church!  Some have had abortions as a "convenient way" of taking care of a pregnancy that they were not wanting at that time... none of them walked away from that with a feeling of relief.  They all suffered, and continue to have a wound as a result of doing this to the baby inside of them!  One woman struggling with the decision that the world around her was telling her was hers to make, yet knowing that it would be taking a life... went ahead with the abortion.  She writes..."The time that followed was the darkest, most sordid of my life.  The life of God's grace in my soul was entirely eclipsed by sin.   I had thought aborting my child would solve my problems, but my problems remained.  Even now I cannot find words to describe the sense of anguish and abandonment I experienced.  Feeling totally alone, unloved and unworthy of love, I continued to slide ever deeper into a spiritual morass.  To numb the painful voice of conscience, I turned to drinking and drugs...  As I hit rock bottom emotionally, an interior image came to me, as if from the heart of Heaven.  I could see myself clearly standing on the brink of a deep, dark, rock-strewn canyon.  I knew that continuing on my present path would take me into the darkness, where I would become as hard as the canyon rocks.  In an agonized moment of grace, I was able to look up at God and cry out, 'Are you there?' " Rachel Riley

Jesus, we ask to become less and less so that you may become more and more.  I pray that it does not take such great lengths of turning our backs on you and your Truth... to find the way to become small.  We hear of those that take their lives - reaching such depths of despair and confusion!  May we choose LIFE, and in small ways give up those things that come between your love for us and our ability to follow you carrying our Cross - the Tree of LIFE!  May we always recall that we are the Temple of your Holy Spirit, that dwells within us and fills us with the strength and courage to persevere!  We wish to be a beautiful golden jewel encrusted temple, and strive to be pure and holy as you deserve - may we always strive for LIFE and LOVE in all that we do each minute of each day, with your help!  May we love without counting the cost, and always remind ourselves when circumstances are difficult - "Wounded, I do not cease to love."  Jesus, we choose LIFE! Jesus, help us to fight for LIFE, and end the taking of LIFE through abortion!  For all the innocent martyrs - sacrificed on the altar of selfishness and confusion.... the millions of lights that have been extinguished, and lost to our world.  Jesus, we trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Bless- bless, Barb
The Gospel for today - Luke 9: 22-25
Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  What profit it there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" 
It is so hard, Lord, give us the strength to follow you today... taking up our cross daily.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Getting his first ashes...

Just being 9 months old... baby Augustine had ashes put on his forehead for the first time today.  He looks very unconcerned by the whole thing, he is very used to going forth in his parents' arms as they go to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus every Sunday and sometimes daily... I have a feeling that since Lent is here that mom will put more of an effort into daily mass.  He is also used to the priest reaching out and touching his head with the blessing - "become the Body of Christ."  So it probably didn't overly seem strange today when that black smudged thumb made the sign of a cross on his forehead.  He is so innocently marked with the sign of our humanness, and in time will come to understand that he is God's creation, and without Him there is no happiness or peace.  He already is encountering Christ with his parents, as they worship together and pray together and share Bible stories together.  For a baby to be surrounded by the love and care of its parents - little Augustine is learning to trust and find a place to be happy and content within his domestic church - his loving wonderful FAMILY!  That will carry him forward into learning about the LOVE of JESUS for him... Jesus, wants to spend every minute of your life with you, sweet baby Augustine!  Allow nothing to come between you - now you are innocent and very LOVED.... rest assured in His LOVE and LIFE! 
Today Nancy and Maria launched their blog - small things - with a woman, who embraced the suffering of our Lord and took it upon herself - St Rafqa of Lebanon -  Both Nancy and Maria will share weekly on it, and Nancy said that she will share twice a week!  I am excited to learn at the feet of my two daughters!  Jesus, please bless this undertaking they are on to share their love for you and Your Church!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Bless-bless, Barb
"A clean heart create for me, O God,   and a steadfast spirit renew within me... Give me back the joy of my salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me.   O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise."  Psalm 51
Little new calf - two days ago you were in your mother's womb and now you are looking at the world around you with "new eyes."  We are happy to see the mud after so many months of drought!

"Die a little bit each day of Lent..."

With excitement in her eyes - Mary is looking at the father of Snowball's calf - she wants it to be a heifer with a white blaze down the center of her head like her mom, Snowball, and she is going to have her calf any day now.  It is an exciting time and a time that we need to be vigilant in watching the cows on our cow TV - we have a camera in the barn and can get up during the night and look at the TV to see if anyone is having their calf and might need some help.  It used to be that Pat would have to get up and dressed a couple times during the night to go out and look at them, but now with modern technology it is so nice to sit by the woodstove and watch them on TV!  Just returning from an amazing weekend with our Loving and Forgiving Lord, Jesus Christ at a TEC retreat... I was deeply touched by the last speaker - a young girl, who is a junior in HS.  She spoke so sweetly of how Jesus died for us, "so it is not that much to expect for us to die a little bit each day of lent for Him."  I really want to place that before me this next 40 days, and remember that Jesus was in the desert fasting for all of them!  "Repent and believe in the Gospel."  Mk 1: 15  This is what John the Baptist was proclaiming when Jesus returned from his lent in the desert, faced the temptations of the devil and was strong in faith, and then was baptized in the Jordon by John the Baptist, and God revealed Jesus as his Son. 
New life - reminding us of the renewal that we are praying that will take place within us.  May we give birth to all the fruits of the Spirit in our lives as we "die a little each day."  As a grain of wheat goes into the ground, dies and bears much fruit - may we die to selves!  Jesus, we love you and need you in our lives.  We really get in touch with our weakness as we start lent with the long list of things that we want to give up, and do for others without thoughts of ourselves or counting the cost.  We really get in touch with how much we need supernatural help to persevere - may we turn to the gift of YOU in your Word and Sacraments and may Prayer become as the air that we breath - with every beat of our hearts with every breath that we take - "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..."  May we look upon you on the cross and see in your brokenness and sacrifice that you showed us how to love.  I will always remember when Maria entered the Poor Clare Monastery -she left a small sign under the crucifix in her brothers room - "This is how one loves."  I am going to go and find a crucifix and put it in the middle of the table with that sign under it for the next 40 days to remind myself - that the small "deaths" that I need to do are as nothing compared to what you did for me, my Loving and Forgiving, Jesus Christ!  I am yours, and I want to never be seperated from YOU!  Jesus, I trust in you.  Amen and Halleluia

Bless-bless, Barb  May this amazing song by Aaron Shust give you the strength and hope that you need to embrace your "desert" this lent, and come out conquering the devil and all his temptations, empty promises, and lies! 

"Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning: Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.  For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.  Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, offerings and libations for the Lord, your God." 
Joel 2: 12-18  The first reading for mass today!  Go forth with your ashes marking the beginning of dying a little each day of Lent and allowing HIM to come closer and closer!  Jesus, we love you!
Psalm 25 of David.

1 "In you, LORD my God,

I put my trust.

2 I trust in you;

do not let me be put to shame,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one who hopes in you

will ever be put to shame,

but shame will come on those

who are treacherous without cause.

4 Show me your ways, LORD,

teach me your paths.

5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,

for they are from of old.

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth

and my rebellious ways;

according to your love remember me,

for you, LORD, are good.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;

therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right

and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful

toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

11 For the sake of your name, LORD,

forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?

He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]

13 They will spend their days in prosperity,

and their descendants will inherit the land.

14 The LORD confides in those who fear him;

he makes his covenant known to them.

15 My eyes are ever on the LORD,

for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 Relieve the troubles of my heart

and free me from my anguish.

18 Look on my affliction and my distress

and take away all my sins.

19 See how numerous are my enemies

and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;

do not let me be put to shame,

for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,

because my hope, LORD,[c] is in you. "

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 days of lent begins with new life

It was a good Mardi Gras today.. I am really looking forward to lent beginning tomorrow.  It is just good to sacrifice a little bit more each day of lent... "Remember that Jesus gave his all for us, so it is not that much for us to fast a bit and do without a bit."  I am ready, Lord!  Thank you for this opportunity to hold myself back from the day to day indulgences!  Easter JOY is more full and beautiful after the lenten fast!  Thank you Lord!  It was a sign of new LIFE to go out and see the new calf that was born overnight... a sweet little black bull with his mother in the fresh bedding a wonderful sight to behold!  Spring is in the air - with the calving beginning and the promise of Easter after the 40 days of Lent which lie ahead.  Jesus, we want to go deeply into the desert, and face the temptations that come with doing without... finding strength and comfort with your Spirit!  Jesus, we trust in you.  Bless-bless

The Paralytic

John was home for Christmas break...  I captured this picture of him walking across the yard while helping his dad outside.  He is stepping on his left foot, which still has some loss due to his ataxia caused by the brain surgery needed to diagnose his brain surgery.  He had the surgery at the end of July 2009, and we, with overwhelming fear, brought him home from Rochster on our 31st wedding anniversary - August 3!  He was unable to walk due to the ataxia, which made his left side not willing to do what he wanted it to.  He was unable to find his nose with his finger on his left hand, and he toppled to his left side due to the lack of ability to control his arm or leg... his father, who is shorter and a wider base, fit perfectly under his left arm and became his ability to get where he wanted to go slowly!  I agonized as it drew to the end of his first chemo, as to what we should do.  Should we put him in intensive rehab to try to regain some independence?  I am not sure why we in our fog of fear and worry - decided to bring him home, but that is what we did.  We got about 10 miles out of Rochester and we stopped at Subway.. I was shocked that John wanted to come in, and his dad got under his left arm, and he staggered into the restaurant.  He appeared drunk, and his dad had to help him into the bathroom in this obviously altered state... this was the epitome of humbling for both father and son!  Then he helped John go through the line of picking out his food.  People looked at him, and were very concerned.  I remember that John explained to some of the people there that he had just gotten out of Rochester for brain cancer!  He was a very visible picture of suffering!  Pat looked to be carrying his Cross as he helped John move around - leaning on his dad and even his head tilted to the left!  The first day home... Pat helped John into the shower, where we had a shower chair for him to sit on... I had gotten some equipment that we needed from hospice where I worked at the time.  Pat left him there to shower, and suddenly we heard a loud crash!  John had stood up and fallen out of the shower and almost hit his head on a wall... I was shaken to my core, and thought that we had made the worst mistake ever - thinking that we could bring him home and care for him there. 
Here is John a year before at the State Fair - the bloom of health is upon him!  I was going to use some from the horrific time of "The storm" that I was sharing about, but the moral of my sharing today struck me, so I went with the old John instead...
On Saturday night at my retreat I was able to take a few minutes to read the Gospel for the next day, and all those in my dorm heard me rejoice to see that it was the story in Mark of the paralytic, who we lowered down through the roof in front of Jesus! The person next to me asked why that was so great..."Because that is exactly what happened to John!  Through all the prayers that surrounded him- he was lowered in front of Jesus by his friends!  Now he is two years without cancer!"  The following day at mass - Fr Tony spoke about the paralytic and how "seeing" him come walking through the crowd carrying his mat was so lifechanging for those that witnessed him..."Wasn't he just carried in on that mat, and now he is carrying it and walking through the world healed!?"  It really struck me that John is that for those that see him... He is now a different John with no hair, due to the radiation, and still some incoordination on that left side of his body.   He has forever been altered by his year battle with cancer, and a lot of it happened on the inside!  Even that it visible to others though.  His dorm mom shared with me that she sees a more gentle and compassionate John now.  It is as though he was chewed up and spit out... softened and humbled and looking with eyes filled with a new understanding of suffering, and how it makes us turn to HIM!  I truly "saw"with the eyes of my heart that John is here to be a sign of that man walking and carrying his mat.  The world needs to see him and he is truly a sign of HOPE!
John walking his two grandmothers down the aisle at Nancy's wedding... He was a groomsman, but he loves his grandmothers and wanted to do this for them.  He also walked me up and I wept from the sheer power of that - my healed but changed son walking me towards Jesus at the front of the Church at Nancy's wedding, after waiting for the right man as she watched her sisters marry and have children ahead of her, and knowing that Hallel could not be there, and that we all would be united in the Eucharist we were to share!  Such a powerful moment of FAMILY and FAITH! 

Jesus, how we felt the army of heaven with us this weekend!  All the glorious saints surrounded us with their lives - they truly are many of them paralytics carrying the mats they had been paralyzed on and not able to rise off of - until you healed them with the Cross!  They learned how to embrace their crosses and to come out on the other side into the resurrection!  "The angels and saints packed the corners of the church" as we shared the banquet of heaven and earth in the Eucharist!  We are filled with a small glimpse of heaven that we received on this special walk with you.  You forgave our sins and we soared to highest heights!  You touched our hands, and we rose off our mats and walked!   We are healed, and now we go forth as a sign to those that know the old us - Look at the visible sign of our healing - we are carrying those mats that we were laying on, unable to walk!  We are going forth carrying our cross!  We not only carry it, but we embrace it knowing that it is our tree of LIFE!  We are nothing without you, Jesus our loving and forgiving LORD of LOVE and LIFE!  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
The Gospel for today says it all!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark 9: 30-37
"If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."  Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me." 
Lord, let me decrease so that you may increase!  I am yours!  You are my LIFE!