Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out to watch the gate for a small time in the cold

Happy New Years - I am soon to bed after some child friendly family time over at Ruth and Paul's.  The three youngest all ended up in bed, and soon grandma will be joining the to bed early bunch.  I will miss the coming of midnight, but I will wake to the first day of 2014 just the same and much more rested than most.  It will be a new year with all that it will hold for us according to HIS plan!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
On to the next...

"grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1

My sweet little rosary girl in the making - 13month old Bernadette!  I say in the making, because that spot is already filled beautifully by a dear daughter/friend, Liz!  She is the original rosary girl, and is absolutely a delight to me, and a great LIGHT in this world!   I think of her today for some special reasons... mostly because she has such a beautiful LOVE for Our Lady and her most amazing prayer - The Rosary!  She is so devoted to her and her prayer and ability to bring us to her Son, Jesus Christ, that she makes hundreds of rosaries by hand and then walks throughout our town and gifts them to all that she and her two daughters meet!  Her stories are many, and I have the JOY of hearing of them down through the years!  Stories of finding that powerful real LIFE-LINE by holding onto these beads as a person goes into surgery or faces other trials on their journies!  In the midst of John's journey she gifted him with a personal rosary that represented all the prayers he was surrounded with as he faced brain cancer and found healing and Faith!  John always will cherish this physical sign of his prayer warriors, and has it close at hand as his journey continues!  As Mary said "Yes" to bringing Christ into the world through the incarnation, so she continues to bring us to her Son to find LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!
Maria's aunt Angela on a visit to the Poor Clares before Maria entered on New Years Day 2004!
The other reason I am thinking of my rosary girl, Liz, today along with my daughter, Maria, is that tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of Maria entering the Poor Clare Monastery on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary!  The roots of my rosary girl's call to the Catholic Church and her devotion to Mary and her rosary starts with her being drawn to religious sisters on the internet!  This is what began her embracing whole heartedly the Truth she found in the Catholic Church!  In listening to her heart she found the grace to embrace that Truth, and she with her daughters became evangelists of the beautiful message - we have a Mother in Heaven, who longs to take us to her Son!   No matter who she encounters - she lovingly and without judgment shares that message of unconditional LOVE and forgiveness!
!0 years ago tomorrow - Maria kneeling on the outside of the enclosure for a blessing before she went behind to begin her 5 months of discernment!  It was a powerful time for her as she embraced her Most Cherished Cross and decided that she was not called to be a Poor Clare!  Her Cross then took the form of Joseph, and she found LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT as a wife and mother to a now Lt in the army! 
Jesus with your Mother - now our Spiritual Mother of Heaven and earth- we are so blessed with the Grace to live a holy LIFE on our path to sainthood, and armed with the Truth that will set us free to love and serve those in our domestic Church/family in this journey of LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  This message is proclaimed loud and clear by St John the Evangelist in the Gospel from the beginning of his Gospel today -
1" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."  The Word is LOVE/God, and in HIM was LIFE; and the LIFE was the LIGHT...!  It gives me great JOY to read these words of the evangelist of LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.   Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in HIM might not perish but might have eternal LIFE."  John 3:16
The Poor Clares have a cloistered life of prayer for the needs of the world.  We have called upon them to lift up our needs over the last 10 years - a year ago when Maria and her son, Patrick, were looking at death we called them for prayers!  Today they are both healed!  The world needs Prayer!!!!  It is our LOVE communication with our Lord and Savior!  Praise HIM!  Today in morning prayer we are asked to spend this last day of the year in rejoicing song/praise/thanksgiving "for the extraordinary gift of our salvation in Jesus Christ."  see www.magnificat.com
A grand Hallel Psalm - 108
"My heart is ready, O God;
I will sing, sing your praises.
Awake my soul;
awake lyre and harp.
I will awake the dawn.
I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples,
among the nations I will praise you,
for your love reaches to the heavens
and your truth to the skies. 
O God, arise above the heavens;
and your glory shine on earth!"
With tears in our eyes as we see Maria behind the enclosure for the first time!   So powerful!   January 1st, 2004! 
Danielle Rose - the Saint that is just me

Found this on FB from a friend - too good not to share here - St Pio, pray for us!
Danielle Rose - Mary's heart

Monday, December 30, 2013

Praying down the road

Pat and I jumped in with Nancy, Billy, Augustine and Bernadette - we traveled up to their home, jumped in the van that Maria had used while they were here from Texas and then drove back home.  Sweet little Bernadette slept next to me for the first two hours, I took the time to rest in the rosary as I prayed for my family with each one of the decades for each  of my kids and husband!  I knew that little 13 month old Bernadette had a rosary under her blanket in her little hand.  When she woke up she gave grandma great JOY in her sweet rosy cheeks and smiles and the rosary!  I started calling her my rosary model, and I told her to hold onto it for the rest of her LIFE, and it would give her all the fruits of the Spirit on her journey! 
Oh, you beautiful sweet little pink girl with big brown eyes!  How I love to share this traveling rosary with you.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
You LIGHT up my LIFE!  Amen and Hallelujah!

Family story

The story of today is that the family Christmas-Verly is carried over to Monday before News Years!  We have a house full with two girls and 7 grandkids here to make it a loud and active day..  Ruth is busy telling me the story of her time as a student nurse down in Houston, Texas.  It was the summer of 2001, and they got there a huge rain caused a flood which took out the power and electricity.
some of the cuteness that surrounds me - the story of a tired grandma with a house full!
Some watercolors that capture the LIFE from the vision of the kids.
Little Luke starting to take it all in!
David and Gus come in from outside on this cold day to feed the cows and calves with grandpa.
Grandpa telling the story of the boys falling asleep in the warm tractor, and got out to discover that it was very cold!
Some on the inside and some on the outside -
Rose ready to go home and take a nap - sounds good to me!  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holy Family Day

I found this most special sweet picture of Mary with her tiny sweet loving son, Jesus, on a priest friend's facebook page.  Such a sweet smile like none other I have ever seen!  At this point Fr is in Rome with a group of young people from the area.  He wrote that they were in the square of St Peters for the angelus with Pope Francis, and that the crowd was larger than he has ever seen.   Good to hear! 

How to keep our families HOLY!

With only minutes to share this morning instead of my usual hour - I am given the topic that covers them all in my book of LIFE - Family and to top it off the role model of all - The Holy Family - Joseph, Mary and Jesus!  I had a very real and true reason for naming my blog - Familysoulstory!   After just coming through John's brain cancer, which brought our family physically together to face it all surrounded by all the prayers from endless prayer warriors.  Family was once again the most beautiful element of LIFE only second to Faith and for us on the Farm where it is more than a job but a way of LIFE - the blended form of Faith/Family/Farm is a very powerful and wonderful Word holding all meaning for me!
Today looking to the Holy Family we wonder how we can find that holiness in our own homes?  How we long to have a holy happy healthy family!  There is one very real way of doing this - follow the dogmas of the Church laid out to help us get to heaven and to live holy lives.  Yes, it is not the easy way, but it is the way down the narrow path carrying our Most Cherished Cross.  This is what Jesus asks of us and tells us if we are to be followers of HIS - we are to follow HIM and His example!  What does the Church tell us?   To be open to LIFE, and isn't that what happens to us if we willingly embrace our Cross?  Dying to self and giving our all - we become parents to more and more children, and with each addition our love grows larger - not stretched more thin!  Hopefully the material stuff becomes less as the siblings become more!  We share our Faith in our homes!  We found that sharing the amazing lives of the Saints in our home was something the kids loved and taught us that no matter what we face that we can persevere!  Prayer shared is so important on the journey to a Holy happy family!
 My family last weekend... we will reach 100 in this next year with the addition of the two new ones expected!  There is so much more I would normally write, but I must head to work.  Maybe I will continue with this tonight.  I would just say that if you have a question about something - look it up and ask what the Church teaches us in it's wisdom on that issue!   The Church is there to help us get to Heaven and with our families - our family can be a small slice of heaven/domestic Church where that can happen.  It is where we are called to "raise LIGHTS for the world."  Patrick Verly
The only one missing is Hallel and  her prayers for her family allow us to go forth into our call of LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Jesus, we look to your Holy Family this day and forward.  May Joseph, Mary and Jesus intercede in all families and show them how they can die to self and give without counting the cost.  Hallel's family/community's motto they live by - "Wounded I will not cease to LOVE."  May we take this to heart and go forth down the narrow path carrying our Most Cherished Cross.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The last Christmas gathering

The Verlys gathered - we are blessed to have Great-grandma with us so there are 4 generations sharing LOVE!  How blessed we are to have her still in our life and her wonderful ways of loving and accepting - little Bernadette gave her many kisses when we were leaving her house. 
The two brothers are getting to be buddies...  Looking tired too.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
A festive scene - the wind and cold are making the warmth inside that much more cozy! 

Holy Innocents...

Looking at my three one year olds and knowing of their huge impact on my life - add to that the newest member of our family - little Luke Paul - the thought of this feast day recalling the first martyrs for Christ - those 2 and under that Herod had killed for Christ!  Well, suddenly I have my husband and son joining me in my early morning time before work, so this is going to be very short and distracted...  As someone who has had the pain of numerous losses during my child bearing years - I know the pain of losing a child that I had placed much hope and love into within my womb.  But the great pain of watching such a beautiful little one killed before your eyes could almost make you doubt your faith in God!   Why?  You would ask would such a thing happen?  It would happen because the darkness in the world did not want the LIGHT to reveal the sin and death hidden in the dark!  The Holy Family was protected and sent to Egypt, and we too must protect the Holy Family in our domestic Church/family in the face of the darkness.  We must keep the darkness out of our homes and embrace all that is Truth! 
Gus is only 2 also.  Lord, how we long to turn to YOU no matter what the pain and loss.  We need to bring the LIGHT of the Truth into our homes at all costs.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke      Gus and David playing pretty pretty princess with the girls!
"God is LIGHT, and in him there is no darkness at all."  I John 1
Lots of gentle kisses from Patrick!  We miss them and hold them in our hearts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pictures paint my LIFE!

The 5 kids all got slippers except for Luke...  I kept telling the kids that this was my Christmas present from them, and I got some very special ones to cherish always! 
I do claim that I have my grandkids trained to pose for me, but it was such a fun surprise to see little 8 week old Luke smiling with the rest!   The best ever!  I have also trained grown men to cooperate for me!
Here is one of my biggest challenges - my son-in-law, Joseph, but I think that I am getting some pretty good results don't you?
Another great family picture that I will cherish - these are the paint/fabric of my LIFE!  Why did I get so hooked on pictures?  I was married to a most dashing handsome farmer with baby after baby and lots of baby animals!  It was the hook that grabbed me and landed me.  I had to capture that... although with my husband I had to take many of those pictures from behind...
How many can get 10 under 9 to cooperate?  I do take many to get some good ones out of the bunch! They have learned that I won't give up!  And you have to admit - I do use them a lot!!!  They paint and flavor my story of LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT! 
Luke is starting to look at mom, and smile at her, and recognize her as the one who takes care of his every needs!  A most beautiful sight to behold!  It does not get any better in my book.  I love the mother/child images I get form watching my daughters with their precious little ones - it takes me back to my own joys with them, as well as reminds me of Mary with her newborn son, Jesus, a this time of year!  The family became redeemed and became a beautiful work of art with The Holy Family!  I love to try to capture that feeling!!!
My favorite farm pictures!!!!  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Jesus, we trust in YOU.

The encounter with LOVE - St John the Evangelist!

Going back to when Maria and family first arrived here for their visit... a gift that is now a warm memory of pictures of those close times filled with so much LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Yes, we can keep in touch through blogs, and phone calls, and skyping, and letters, but the actual gathering together in one couch of active arms filled LOVE is super wonderful, and has to be carried on in our hearts!  Today what really grabbed me when reading much about St John the Evangelist of the Incarnation... it was him laying his head on the chest of Jesus at the last supper!  That takes such a closeness and transparency - a man, who is hiding nothing and has nothing that comes between him and his Lord! Just having the gift of reconciliation before Christmas and getting rid of those things/sins that come between Jesus and me... I feel that I could have that familiarity/closeness with Jesus!  To lay my head on his breast and hear that human heart of LOVE beating in his chest as He tells me that He must suffer and die for me, but more than that - I am called to pick up my Most Cherished Cross and follow His example of LOVE and go down the narrow Path to LIFE eternal after HIM! 
Patrick glowing with the healing miracle we are all so amazed by!  Little Luke meeting his Texas cousins!
Soon Pat and I are to work at a Together Encounter Christ weekend!  How we had our lives touched profoundly 15 years ago when our 3rd daughter asked us to make a TEC retreat!  I had declined when the first two asked me, but I couldn't say that to the 3rd - "I am OK with my faith." just sounded kind of shallow, so I swallowed my pride and said a weak -"Yes."  My faith/prayer life was transformed by that encounter with unconditional LOVE - I met Christ in such a personal and powerful way in the confessional, in the mass, in the personal sharing of peoples stories of Faith!  I can, to this day, not get enough of this special gift to others and myself, and work many a year! 
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:1-5  I think you know how much I love this!!   I must be a true apostle of St John the Apostle - for here is all I could ever say about LIFE- LOVE- and LIGHT!  So please, if someone offers you a TEC retreat - do not be like me, but say "Yes!" right away.  You will be blessed on and on and on and on!!!! 
John - happy feast day today!, and his fellow miracle - Patrick meeting for the first time a couple weeks ago!  It was as if they knew deep down in the deepest temples of their souls that they had shared the healing touch of God through Prayer!  They both taught the world that prayer is very real and powerful and not just something that you say you are doing for people in a half-hearted sort of way!  It is a REAL!  I truly started to recognize this at my TEC retreat 15 years ago, and prayer became a daily encounter with Christ - with every beat of my heart and with every breath that I take!  But when we heard on Father's day 2009 that John had something in his brain- cancer, and then when I was at the bedside of Maria - October 9, 2012, and I saw that Patrick had no heartbeat in her womb - "Mom, this is the storm and Jesus is in control."  That is when your prayer becomes screams of desperation and you fall on your knees so hard that you don't know if you will ever be able to stand up again - rather you might become a huge puddle on the ground - you are so low!!!  That is when Prayer becomes a moan of agony, and Christ reaches down and picks us up into his Loving and forgiving arms, and carries us away from the wolves that are there to devour us, or the thorns that are clutching at our woolly hide!  You can find Peace in the midst of the craziness that has just become your world.  For John that was brain cancer, and after he realized that this was his answer to find Faith, and he was surrounded by Thousands of Prayer Warriors and his Family - he had a true PEACE that made him have the strength of a young David facing Goliath/Cancer and defeating him armed with the slingshot and smooth stone of Faith!
Maria helping the kids making their personal pizza wheels at one of our big meals we shared as Family!  Christmas JOY!!!!
So much today!!!  I am still just buzzing with great happiness at reading the words of St John in his Gospel - "John simply describes his unheard of experience of the invisible beauty of God made visible.  Through the incarnation, God has drawn so near to human beings that we can perceive his love with our senses....In the Son of God who became man, died and rose from the dead, John was struck by something utterly unexpected.  He encountered so great a beauty that it took him out of himself, as if he were enraptured, and transformed every aspect of his existence.  He had the 'encounter' that Pope Benedict XVI says is the heart of Christianity: 'We have come to believe in God's love... Being Christian is... the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.' "  Michelle Borras
I see this encounter with LOVE in my Church through the Sacraments, the Saints, Our Lady, the prayers - rosary which fills each day.  I also encounter it through my Family- my domestic Church/small slice of heaven here on earth, and yes - through my Most Cherished Cross!  I also am blessed to encounter Christ while working the Catholic retreat which is patterned after the Church seasons - Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and taking forth the LIGHT into the world - TEC retreats!
Beautiful Maria with her miracle son, Patrick, bathed in natural LIGHT!
Jesus, how I feel that I can rest my head on your breast knowing of your unconditional LOVE and forgiveness of me- when I am weak I turn to YOU, so may I always be weak and humble - knowing I only find happiness and Truth in YOU and your Bride, The Church!  "We saw his glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14  I just want to sit down and groan over the beauty of John 1 today - knowing the place of encountering that LOVE firsthand and recognizing the Truth that this is God dwelling with us in the body of a man!!!!  Knowing that John then stood next to Mary at the foot of the Cross and watched that sacred body torn, tortured and the soul leave it in death!!!!  John never left your side, Lord, nor did he deny knowing YOU and recognizing that YOU are God with us!  What a great Saint to pray to this day to help us to never allow sin to come between us and our following you down the narrow path carrying our Most Cherished Cross!  St John, pray for us and thank you for the beauty of your Word to us which became flesh and dwelt among us!  After remembering the Cross is where the baby was headed - it is wonderful and Life-giving to know that through embracing that Cross we find LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
The two Patricks with their huge hands!  They share a name and so much more inside and outside!
1 " That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete."   I John 1: 1-4  The first reading from mass today!!!  Wow!  Truly with YOU, O LORD, our JOY is complete!
Peter Mayer - Holy Now!  this is so true!!!
The three one year olds will grow up together in the BIG family -so fun and special!
Third Day - your LOVE O Lord
I am not sure what this is of... but it is 3 babies so it has to be cute at least!
 I had to borrow this from Maria - too good to pass up!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The best!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heading to bed with this to make me happy!  Thanks baby Luke!  You sure seem to be a happy and content little guy!  Miracle number 3 for Ruth and Paul and a big surprise - he was supposed to be here, and sure did well surrounded by tons of prayers!  Jesus, we thank you, and trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

" for it is only by being little that we ever discover anything big"... The Cross on the 26th?

The little ones gather around Jesus in the manger yesterday after Christmas morning mass with our other farm family - Ruth and Paul with their 5!  I feel like I was punched in the gut to read that today is the feast of St Stephen - the first martyr of Christ!   The day after Christmas to have this brutal reality be the feast of the day!?!?  But I must say that even as we prayed before bed last night - "we may not merely stand adoring at the crib; we must also follow to the cross."  I found myself thanking Jesus for taking on the form of a man/newborn infant, but next for going to die on the Cross for me, and redeeming me from my weakness and sins!  St Stephen is such a powerful reminder of our being called to take up our Most Cherished Cross and follow after HIM!  Christmas is such a beautiful reminder of how that weakness has been transformed...
" The date is December twenty-fifth, but to the humble man, it is Christmas; the manger is a throne; the straw is royal plumage; the stable is a castle; and the Babe is God. He found Power because he was weakness, and the Infinite, Immense and Eternal God, because he was little – for it is only by being little that we ever discover anything big.
He lies upon straw on earth and yet sustains the universe and reigns in Heaven; He is born in time, and yet He existed before all time; Maker of the stars under the stars; Ruler of the earth an outcast of earth; filling the world, lying in a manger. And yet the proud man sees only a Babe. The humble, simple souls, who are little enough to see the bigness of God in the littleness of a Babe, are therefore the only ones who will ever understand the reason of His visitation. He came to the poor earth of ours to carry on an exchange; to say to us, as only the Good God could say: You give me your humanity, and I will give you my Divinity; you give me your time, and I will give you my eternity, you give me your weary body, and I will give you Redemption; you give me your broken heart, and I will give you Love; you give me your nothingness, and I will give you My all.
Thus the birthday of the God-Man is the children’s day, in which age, like a crab, turns backwards, in which the wrinkles are smoothed by the touch of a recreating hand, in which the proud become children, and the big become little, and all find God." ~Archbishop Sheen (The Eternal Galilean)

How do we become little?  By embracing our Cross and dying to self!  By being humbled by life and those in our domestic Church!  This is where the Cross enters in the day after we celebrate with great JOY His birth!
Our rough edges are rubbed off by those that we share life with in our families, our marriages, our places of work... By being little we discover how big is the good of Truth.  We see that we are not always right and usually we aren't right in our selfish outlook.  To get to the point like St Stephen where we can give up our life for HIM - now that is radical and calling us to give up our all!  Would we be able to do this?  I just had the prime opportunity to put myself to the test, and as usual I failed miserably but then tried to do better...  Yes!  Lord, I am weak, and I do want to stay that way as it is when I turn to YOU!
Luke's smile is like a magnet called LOVE/LIGHT for his family!   It is the cement that bonds their domestic church/home/family to be firm against the storms of life!  John shared in his talk about his cancer journey this last weekend about how one of his biggest supports came from how his family was brought together by his cancer!  Being the youngest and only boy...with 4 doting older sisters - you can imagine how much John loves and relies on his sisters in all that faces him.  His argument for lack of Faith was that he had never been tested... well, in a week he had brain cancer - in my mind one of the worst and most impossible places to have cancer - and without his family and faith he would not have survived or wanting to share his LIGHT/Faith far and wide!  John was humbled and made small - relying on God and prayer and family on our knees to find the healing answer to prayer for Faith!
Lord, I am filled with strong feelings today about how we are called to die to self and be weak to find the BIG Truth in this world!  The Truth that will set us free from our selfishness and give us the ability to embrace our Most Cherished Cross and follow after HIM!  May we look to the reminder given us by St Stephen that we are always called to be weak and humble in the face of all we are called to do.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Christmas dinner was quiet with just Pat, John and I.  The military family arrived safe in El Paso on Christmas Eve and it sounds like they had a quiet Christmas too!
"You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved."  Mt 10:22  The Gospel for today - it reminds us of the sad news we hear from the Archdiocese about the Archbishop!  We are certainly called to live this out today!  Lord, please may your Truth shine like a light in the midst of the darkness!
My Most Cherished Cross with arms filled with LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  "The world needs LIGHTS!"  Pat Verly on our engagement weekend!  For the whole story - http://familysoulstory.blogspot.com/p/my-most-cherished-cross-patrick-gerard.html
For Pat this is total JOY!!!!!  
Danielle Rose - the Saint that is just me
The two Patricks together!!!!  How Pat loves to see his namesake and thank God for his miracle - born dead and brought back to LIFE!   For this story - http://familysoulstory.blogspot.com/p/the-story-of-little-lamb-grandson.html
Casting Crowns  - Praise you in the storm
My champion for LIFE/ my Most Cherished Cross!