Friday, January 31, 2014

The temple within traveling down the road

It was such a bright sunny beautiful day and in the silence of my van traveling down the road to visit my parents 4 hours from our home... I had such a powerful prayer time with my 10 decades of the rosary.  For two hours I went from one decade to the next and truly dug into the meditation for each of my children, husband, and God children, all those that prayed for us on John's journey  - knowing that they too have prayer needs some have confided in me those needs and some unknown to me. I set aside the Crown of Thorns mystery for those needs.  I also promised to lift up the college outreach through our church, and add to that the Holy Father and all the issues of those in our Church - Proclamation of the Kingdom is the mystery for those prayer needs.  Then I went into the Chaplet, and prayed for all my dead as well as all those that are dying today or have no one to pray for them as they work down the narrow path to heaven!
Arrived at my parents' home to find them looking like a hobbit world with all the round white mounds of snow on roof and around their home, and the warm feeling watching the smoke coming from the chimney.  I found my parents doing better than the last time we were there.  A good visit for the afternoon!  I am so blessed to have both my parents yet, and both very sharp and loving to share their faith journies with me, and I with them!  
So good to see my mom feeling better and a nice meal shared with them, and now...
This sweetie came running up to grandma, and found this headband in grandma's purse, and wanted it on her head.  She warms a grandma's heart!  It was a great end to a good day of prayer and sharing with those I love, and thank so much for all I have been given!  That seems to be the message from the day - we are given  so much and we must take that forth into our world and let our LIGHT shine!
Dad was reading some stories before bed to Gus, but Bernadette made grandma take way too many pictures with her "Cheeeee" attempts at saying Cheese.  She had the rosary Therese made me - now broken but still beautiful enough to make her a very pretty girl for the camera!  Oh, I didn't mention that she took her hair and grabbed a handfull like it should be in a topknot that grandma always puts it in when she came up the stairs and saw me!  She likes grandma to make her a pretty girl!  We will have lots of fun tomorrow little girl!  

Berna is attracted to the Little Ducks now and then...
But grandma and her camera wins and grandma hits the jackpot!  Jesus, thank you for this bright and beautiful last day in January 2014 filled with the warmth of Faith and Family to fill me with LIGHT/LOVE/LIFE!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
That rosary makes you so pretty little sweet Bernadette!  Therese chose those beautiful beads with so much LOVE!
Angelic girl!

St John Bosco teaches with love rather than severity

Sweet Bernadette is just over a year, and she would love to climb into the swing by the warmth of the woodstove and look at books when she was here last week.  Today is the feast of St John Bosco, who had a special call to homeless youth.  "He chose love rather than severity as his tool for teaching children to treasure God's will and promise."  Wow!  That is a wonderful lesson to us about how children can gain understanding that God is LOVE by the way they are treated and taught by those in charge of their upbringing.  It seems that there was a craziness going on in the world with industrialization and rapid growth going on in the mid to late 1800s, and that these children were lost and wandering the streets.  It sounds like how things are today with kids left to their own defenses with electronic gadgets and gangs while their parent or parents work to gain money to live on.  How important is it for our homes to be domestic churches where the Faith is shared and where kids are protected from the evil influences?  Faithful HOMES where the faith is shared is almost more important than going to Church together as a family - if our faith is not shared with LOVE in our homes than going to Church together is probably like just going through the motions!  Yes!  Going to mass together and sharing the Sacraments of Baptism first, then Eucharist, Reconcilliation, and Confirmation... then asking our kids to consider a call to Holy Orders as a wonderful possibility for them, and our wonderful Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick that John was blessed with 3 times on his journey of brain cancer!  And then if not Holy Orders or religious LIFE - the call to the sacrament of Marriage!  A Sacrament that is necessary with each day to embrace our Most Cherished Cross and go down the narrow path of self-denial and giving without counting the cost!
Sharing prayer and our Faith in our homes is a most wonderful and loving way to grow together into a Domestic Church/family that loves Jesus, and His Bride, The Church! 
Jesus, with St John Bosco showing us the way to love little ones into the knowledge and love of YOU.  Yes, there is room for discipline as we teach them the difference between right and wrong.  May we have a good balance and do all out of LOVE.  Help families to come to share YOU in all that they do and may those youth we have raised up consider the call in their hearts and ask for the path YOU have laid out before them - always following after YOU carrying their Most Cherished Cross and going down the narrow path to LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT.  Jesus, may the tiny mustard seed planted in our hearts and our homes become a huge tree in which many may find shelter in it's branches!  The Kingdom of God dwells here in our midst thanks to your coming and saving us.  Jesus, we trust in YOU. Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Come Holy Spirit into our hearts and homes!
Danielle Rose - the saint that is just me
I am off to my parents for the afternoon!  JOY and safety in my travels!  They truly showed me the path to The Church and all the blessings that abound!  The page I dedicated to our family story of conversion!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thinking about vocations

Over a year ago these two friends, who were both just out of college headed out to check out vocations!  Sarah went to New Ulm to join with the Handmaids as a postulant, and John went up to St Paul Seminary!  She has now taken her first vows and seems to be settled in as a Handmaid.  John on the other hand discerned out of seminary due to the studies.  What is really exciting to me is that so many young people are looking in their heart to see if there is a call there from Jesus.  John is still listening and asking and confident that he will be shown the great plan that the Lord obviously has for him as he has been healed and spared to not be silent!
A big bear hug from dad!
Tonight Pat's mom and I went to hear some sisters living in Ghent about their journey.  It was a bit of a wake up call as they started their order - St Dominic and St John the Apostle in 1975.  It is so similar to Hallel's order, which started just about then too.  Their founder just died and now there is some power struggles that ended up in Rome telling them to take off their habits.  The two girls that talked tonight have been in there for 13 and 14 years - one had just taken her final vows!  They are hopeful that in a few weeks things will work out and they can get back into their habits.  I hope that this happens, because they must be absolutely devastated to have the rug pulled out from under them.  Lord, for all these young people that love you so much and only want to follow YOU carrying their Most Cherished Cross.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Some literature they shared with us tonight about their lives of contemplative prayer...
Also when they speak about St John - they read something out of his Gospel each day and he is very important to them in their daily studies.
"What does it mean to adore "in Spirit and Truth" (John 4:23)?  "In Spirit" means under the breath of the Holy Spirit.  The gift of fear makes us recognize, through Jesus who adores the Father, that any act of creation comes from the Father, comes from the Word, comes from the Holy Spirit, from the Most Holy Trinity, who is one: "One God shall you adore" 5, this one God, my Creator whom I adore and whom I recognize as my sole Creator.  "In Truth" means that adoration purifies me of all my faults in the love of Christ and places me in truth, since I know that I am being true only when I recognize that all that is great and beautiful in me comes directly from Christ's heart.
Mary is the one who was formed by Christ's heart in order to adore in a perfect way; therefore we must ask her unceasingly to teach us to adore Jesus and the Father with her." 
Allowed to be a contemplative when I spend time with the Community of the Lamb in Kansas City!  So blessed!

Healing in the LIGHT

Why does this story and picture make me absolutely warm and happy inside?  Well, yes it is so cute and sweet when you know what you are looking at!  This mother tiger lost her cubs in premature delivery and was depressed after the loss.  They wrapped piglets in tiger print cloth and she loves them as her own now!  Just look at those content piglets - drinking mother's milk from the tiger I would imagine?!?  I can only imagine the comfort of their warm growing bodies laying across her broken heart.  Talk about healing on the very elemental/animal level.   Yes!  It is such an especially powerful and loving sight for me, who lost numerous little ones that I ached to hold and love and feed and bring into my family.  The losses were so hard, and truly the Cross of my child-bearing years.  We had always wanted to be open to all life and to have a large family as we both grew up that way... I the oldest of 12, and my husband the number 6 in 10 children.  My doctor said that he would always remember when I came in for my first pregnancy and told him that I was going to have 12 children.  I did!  I have 5 with me, and 7 to meet in heaven some day.
Maria with her oldest Therese! 
I have shared that now I have to share my losses with one of my 3 married daughters - Maria.  How I have prayed that this would not happen, but not only has it but I was with her both times!  So hard!  Yet, I do see the Lord's hand in it just the same... I see that with all my experience and dealing with it through my Faith all those times, that I was the perfect person to be with her and help her through.  I watched her strength in the midst of her disappointment and loss, and watched her tearfully share with her sweet little Therese the first time.  They both wept together!  After two losses, she became pregnant with Patrick and all went well until his traumatic birth.  I will not go into that here except to say that he is healed and advanced for his age now at almost 19 months!  If you would like to read about this huge event in our lives, I have written a page about
Maria with her two oldest, then the two losses, and now Patrick and #4 or #6 is on the way- a person can look at it either way!  Therese understands that each one whether here or in heaven will always be part of our families by her comment a few years back when Maria lost her second and told her..."Mommy, we are going to have to get a big van when we go to Heaven for all those kids!"  Therese truly does have a heart for the spiritual view of LIFE!  It is like those sunglasses make is possible for her to see things through The LIGHT - through Christ and His Bride, The Church!  Today's Gospel from Mark 4 is that great one about putting our LIGHT on a lampstand and not covering it with something.  After my Most Cherished Cross/Patrick my husband said the words of direction from the Holy Spirit for our family now and for generations to come - "The world needs LIGHTS!" - this has set the groundwork for our marriage and family and those of our children.  I see that each of our girls and their spouses are open to LIFE and all that comes with it - embracing our Most Cherished Cross will bring us LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Yes, there will be hardships along the way and suffering is all a part of this dying to self so that we can love and serve our families without counting the cost! 
The 4 princesses - Nancy had made them all crowns when Susan was born!  After Susan I lost 2 miscarriages - one was at the same time my 28 year old sister, Mary, died of cancer!  Did I get depressed, like the tiger I started this with?  I wept and suffered very much, but my other little ones kept me content and busy and my faith kept me from falling into deep depression.  I did have John then, and our first boy came into a home filled with girls, but he loved it and was adored!  I have thought that if I had known that he would be my last one to share my life with - I might have had a major breakdown of deep depression.  How did the Lord help me through that?  By giving me two boys I carried 5 months each and are buried at the cemetery, and another 14 week loss.  If that sounds like the way to truly have a breakdown - well, it eased me into my later years when I no longer got pregnant and gave me 3 more praying for me and waiting for me in Heaven.  I sure must need a lot of prayers on my journey!  It really is mind boggling to see that going through those hard experiences of heart rendering loss led me to a place of acceptance of the family I had been blessed with.  A family that is very close and cherishes those here with us after suffering the loss and pain together! 
Therese with her namesake necklace!  How she loves and adores ST Therese, and speaks about her answering prayers from Heaven.
Jesus, how we fall on our knees and ponder the mystery of our lives!  We think we have it all figured out and then it goes down a different path or we are called to suffer a loss or are hurt... what do we do?  We weep and we ask why over and over, but we eventually put it in your hands and trust.  We know that YOU are LOVE and that you are in control in the midst of our storms of LIFE!  In our weakness is when we turn to YOU, O Lord.  So I want to be weak and humble always, so that I am yours totally and completely without reservation!  I ask that you humble me, Lord, and that "wounded I will not cease to LOVE."  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and that Word is LOVE - YOU my Jesus!  You give us everything and show us the Way to go,  The Truth to follow, and the LIFE to live now and forever with YOU!  May we in turn give without counting the cost all the Mercy YOU have shown us - Remembering all you shower us with in our journey in our domestic Church/family may we in turn give our all to them!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Basking in the LIGHT in my inner temple with my Mother of Heaven and earth! 
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
Thérèse de Lisieux
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Thérèse de Lisieux
Mary and her pet - Snowball!
Girl and her animal friend - she has no idea that every 5 year old girl doesn't have a big cow for a pet. 
Danielle Rose - The Litany of Humility
Casting Crowns - Praise you in the storm

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

John home to share, then watching the kids

John speaking tonight at FF here in town!  I got to feed him supper and pray with him all the way in to the school. 
Talking about the incarnation - his sweatshirt was great!

Started out with his first few days of life spent inside a plastic box under a lamp due to his being "yellow"  having high bilirubin.  Made you think of the more basic elements of God becoming a human man!

Luke was so good for us and had a new haircut thanks to mom - "He was tired of being a punk rocker with his Mohawk - now he has a military cut." 

 With 4 older sisters - John didn't have to do the girls hair - "they did my hair." he told Mary as he carefully (?) brushed out her very thick hair.  Rose got her hair brushed too!  Kinda sweet!
Luke sitting up with a random teddy - he thinks his new haircut is pretty nice!
Grandma got a new haircut today, too, Luke!  It was so great to spend some snuggle time and prayer time with you and your 4 older siblings and grandpa and Uncle John!  Family prayer is where it all needs find it's roots - the seed planted in rich soil!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
John getting reacquainted with sweet and growing up little Rose Ida! 
Love that smile sweet and good Luke!

The yield - a boy who loves his Mother!

Four years ago the Gospel for John's day of transplant of his stem cells/seeds back into this wiped out body was the sower and the seed, well now 2 days later that is the Gospel from St Mark 4 today!  I was overjoyed to see it last night when I read the Gospel for today before I turned out the light.  All night long I would wake and think of our great time together with our son last evening!  I would think of this picture I shared of him, and marvel that he has born so much over the last 4 years since he was left for dead and brought back to LIFE!  His immunity was wiped out and the soil was sterile as after a long cold brutally arctic winter we are now experiencing, and with the spring and under perfect conditions the seeds/ his own stem cells were planted into him.  What has been the yield?  It has been so much for his family to have the new John with us to brighten our days and world!  The yield has been revealed in his completing college, starting a job selling life insurance - if anyone could say to others ..."You never know what is around the corner just look at what happened to me!" it is John with all sincerity and Truth behind him!  Then he heard a "call" in the midst of that first summer out of school - "John maybe I have saved you to be my priest?!?"  and John entered seminary to discern his call and in just about 6 weeks the doors flew open for him to enter St Paul Seminary!  A mother fell on her knees with such gratitude and happiness  and hope!  He loved the community-prayer life he was surrounded with there, yet the studies were very difficult and he just did not have the heart to put behind the 6 years of study necessary to go forward at this time.  Last night he admitted to us that he still has this thought in his heart, and is wondering what form it could take...
A card I made for John to celebrate his new birth 4 years ago!  The verse from the 23rd psalm is, of course, so true of John's journey and story that he burns to share - he will not be silent!  As Pope Francis told the youth in Brazil at WYD - "make noise!"  John heard this and took it totally to heart, as his only true heart's desire is to share the miracle of his healing and finding Faith far and wide!  I just found John's webpage for the job he truly loves and longs to do - speak, not be silent, and make noise -  Why the light turned on?  Well, not only did his lack of faith turn into a infusion of the Truth/LIGHT, but in one of the scariest points in his treatment- the full brain radiation - the technician had accidentally bumped the light switch and apologized, but for John it was an answer to his prayers that he can trust because Jesus is in control in the midst of the storm.  Just at this time Bishop LeVoir wrote us on our caringbridge site - "When you feel overwhelmed by things - repeat these words -"Jesus, I trust in you." " I have never let a day go by without saying this over and over... well, you know that!  It was huge for us to get that reassurance, once again!  Thank you, Lord, and your wonderful Mother at your side!
I was very sad that seminary only was for a year, and then after meeting with Bishop LeVoir, who had also taken some time off early in his discernment... John decided to get a job in the real world and just keep on asking for direction.  It was a hard process with a lot of hearing that they were hiring someone with experience, but we had him here at home and that was a gift for me and his dad and Ruth's family, who lives just 3 miles away.  He looked at insurance, once again, and then an opening working with 4H which had been very big for our kids growing up here in Marshall on the farm.  This is the off season, the paper work season for 4H, and John is starting to realize that he might not be actually working with youth much - more just setting up their programs.  It is a very farm oriented area and big into livestock, which John has a lot of experience with.  He is not really meeting people there or finding that amazing fellowship that he experienced at the seminary last year, so we were looking at some options and praying about it with him last night!  He IS, however, finding lots of opportunities to speak and not be silent and make noise about his story at retreats and speaking here and there!  Tonight he will be back here in Marshall... I might let Pat watch the 5 for a while and sneak in there to listen to him! 
I absolutely squealed with delight when I walked into John's office and saw this beautiful image there!  How often has John just suddenly said somewhere - like Facebook - that he loves her?  Just a few days ago on Jan 17th he wrote this out of the blue - "I Love Our Lady!!!!!!!!!"  and guess what?  20 people agreed with him and one wrote - "Me too!"  Pat and I overheard him talking to an old classmate from school while he was in the seminary about Mary.  It was awe inspiring to hear him share from the heart about how much he loves her and looks to her and needs her to be with him on his journey.  I could tell by the answers from his end that his friend was asking the usual questions about how we can look to her so much - isn't it worship?  John was very knowledgeable and assured when he shared about the gift we have in Jesus loving the woman, who said yes to giving him human life, and then that Jesus gave her to us as our Mother from the Cross!  We each need to take her into our homes and find that we can be modeled and formed and loved into being a "holy family" like they had when Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived together.  Just imagine how great that is!!!
So much has happened in the last 4 years since the seed was planted!  There has been a bountiful harvest, and much of it we are not even aware of!  There has been some feedback and tears from his sharings, but much is unknown to us or even to those that have heard the words!  We pray that the Word can fall on fertile and rich soil, and not be choked out by the rocks of life nor the weeds and thorns of our "worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke out the word, and it bears no fruit."  Mark 4:1-20
Lord, how we are continually reminded of the growth of our new John.  We are thankful that he continues to live and not be silent!  Psalm 30 says it all!!! 1"I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. 4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved." 7 By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 8 To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: 9 "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!" 11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.  "  This is John's story!  We shared this in evening prayer as we traveled together to one of his speaking engagements!  We were blown away by it - truly the scriptures have come to life over and over in his journey!  Look at the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends and family!  On and on with such joy in our hearts!  Talk about Your Word bearing thirty, fifty, a hundred fold!  Jesus, you are walking among us healing to this day, and You in your Word are ministering and coming to LIFE in each of our lives, if we only have ears to hear!  Jesus, you gave us your Mother to accompany us, but most especially to be with us in our homes!  How we need a loving and caring Mother to dwell in our domestic Church/home!  May we embrace her with LOVE and feel her loving caress on all we place in her loving arms - our loved ones and those that ask our prayers!  May we join with John in shouting for all to hear -
"I Love Our Lady!!!!!!!!!"  Jesus, we know that you honor her and love her without reservation!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Luke and Rose love their mommy, and will soon learn of their wonderful spiritual Mother as they grow and develop!  They love their mom so much that they want to eat her chin... Just as Jesus did to his Mom!  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Vladimir Virgin. Orthodox icon. - stock photoThese are my favorite icons - Jesus eating the chin of his most wonderful Mother!  I have seen the children of my daughters do this to them - they love them so much they want to eat them!
Beautiful black and white image of tlhe virgin Mary and the baby Jesus - stock photo
"I love you MOM!  Help me save the world, and help families to have me in their hearts!"
Matthew West - hello, my name is... child of the one true King
 Be God's by Danielle Rose

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Much to celebrate with our John!

 I squealed with a joyful amount of delight when I saw Our Lady in all her beauty gracing John's computer screen at work!  "Can she be there?"  "What are they going to do tell me to take her off?"  "And as soon as they leave I will put her right back on!"  John really loves Our Lady and isn't afraid to let the world know it!  Pat and I have a lot more understanding of John's job and office situation now... John has really gotten a dose of the real world!
This table sat out in the snow on my deck... now John has a small table to eat on and we had a "family meal" to celebrate our wonderful son, who was healed by Jesus.  His friends and family lowered him through the roof into the presence of Jesus, and Jesus forgave John his sins and healed him of his brain cancer.  Suddenly John realized - "I said that I never had any reason to turn to my faith and that everything was going along smooth.  Now I have brain cancer - the storm has hit, and Jesus is in control in the storm!"  How we rejoice together on his 4th birthday - the day the seeds/stem cells were planted to take root and give John rebirth! 

 The song and the blessing to celebrate his rebirth just a week from his actual birthday on Feb 3rd John will be 25 thanks to his healing and discovering the new John.  How we love him and thank God that he has been spared to not be silent but share with the world that Jesus is alive and well with His Bride, The Church, to help us all get to Heaven! 
We shared talk about the two talks he will be giving in the next two weeks.  We also shared evening prayer together just before we left - so great!!!  John shared that he is still considering a call to religious life, and we continue to ask the Lord to show John his path and to provide fellowship for him on his journey. 
"Where did you find such a special image of Mary?"  "I just googled and found this one."  
Talk about pleading eyes - if she looks at her Son with any of our prayers with those eyes - how can He resist her requests for us?  And I think that John really does love Mary so very much when I see this on his computer while he works in a state office.  Thank you, Jesus, for our son whole and with us still, for answering his prayer for Faith by allowing him the journey called cancer/healing/following your path, by giving him the burning desire to share far and wide his story of finding Faith and Truth in YOU and your Bride, The Church, and for loving his Mothers as much as he does!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

A Thomas kind of day...

It is an exciting day around here!  We are going down to visit John at work and at his apartment for the first time since he moved to Jackson in October.  I wanted to visit yesterday when it was officially his 4th birthday - the day he was given new life with his own stem cells planted in his wiped clean bone marrow!  I read that there were close to 5 million stem cells in those small IV bags, and he gathered them all in one day!  Once again he showed his youth and health in every other way in how he sailed through a process that can take a lot longer.  They called him a "rock star" on the transplant station, and he lived up to that so often in the battle for his life.  Now he yearns to shout from the rooftops his conversion and change of heart story - he will not be silent!   He was busy with meetings yesterday, so we are going down today to make supper and hang out and to discuss his talk that he will be giving at Emmaus in a week.  He will be basing his talk on The Word!  The first day of our journey onward - the Word was huge! 
I was looking for pictures of John at 4 yesterday and discovered this one of the 5 standing in front of the newly placed marker for our two 5 month losses after John, William and Robert.  I lost William around Thanksgiving when John was just 10 months old - they would have been very close in age, then I lost Robert in 1992 - about 2 years later.  So terrifically hard to carry them each 5 months, hear their heartbeat numerous times, go in for my regular 5 month check up and get no heartbeat, then the ultrasound from hell with a dead baby, then the agony of carrying them in my womb with fear of a horrible life threatening loss!  I decided to have a prostaglandin suppository to have the baby - the same thing used for a 5 month abortion procedure!  It was horrible to go through and twice!  There was contractions and chills and delivering my little boys dead!  I was allowed to hold them... I never thought to take pictures or to have the kids come in... I have since read of a family that did that, and felt a twinge of regret.  Although I know that it was what was to be, and that our kids certainly have never been left out of the news of having a baby or losing a baby in our journey of 5 with us and 7 in heaven!  I have been told along the way to not share with the kids and the world that I am pregnant until I know that I am having a baby, but that is not the way Pat and I look at it!  We see that always being open and truthful and share all the ups and downs as a family has made us very close!  It has made us share our morals and values and foremost the value of being open to LIFE and raising LIGHTS!  We cherish each other and have one foot in heaven - knowing of the many there waiting to be united with us and praying for us on our journies - I now have added two grandchildren to that family there! 

The 5 at Ruth's wedding in Nov 2003
Today is the feastday of St Thomas Aquinas, and as we were doing morning prayer and reading about this great mind yet humble man of the Church - one of the "premier doctors" of the Catholic Church!  I was thinking that I will probably have a grandson named Thomas and what a good name that is!  Then I recalled that my second miscarriage is Thomas!  He is named after the disciple, Doubting Thomas, as he died at the same time my sister Mary died from lymphoma on July 3, 1986!  Talk about a double whammy!   I was into my 4th month of pregnancy and had wept through the whole thing as I watched my sister, Mary, lose her battle with cancer.  In my thinking of ways to keep her alive - Pat and I asked her and her new husband, Gerry, to be Godparents to our baby, Susan.  I thought that she would live if I did this!  Yet, she left behind her new husband and baby daughter of 20 months, and the day she was dying I had just gotten word that my baby was dead also!  I called the hospital and told my parents through my tears that a part of me would be going with Mary, and shortly she was gone too!  I lost my baby while up at my parents for her wake and funeral!  I almost died too!  They couldn't stop the bleeding or get the IV in!  Finally they did, and I fought to get out in time for her wake... drinking everything in sight to get my IV out and get there.  I was shaky and in shock and deeply grieving!!!  That is my Thomas!  Mary died on the feastday of St Thomas, The Doubter!  She had struggled with her Faith also in her life, so I thought my son should be named Thomas as he is forever tied to Mary!  When I talk about the Cross that came to us in our childbearing years... this is it at it's worst!  This loss and the one of the one where they saw two sacks and I am now naming them two boys - Joseph and Paul - were the groundwork for Susan to so love and protect her brother, John, who came after them!  I can so see why the kids all cherish one another, after they experienced loss and grief and sadness after hope after hope ended in loss!
So I am kind of going crazy all because of the it being St Thomas today...  He is a great one to promote the beauty of learning and being educated in the Truth!  "Whoever lives in the Truth comes to the Light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done by God."  John 3:21
Jesus, today in the first reading we see David "dancing before the Lord with abandon"... Yes, Lord!  We love you and rejoice with all the blessings we are given.  The hard times make the good things in our lives that much more rich and special!  We cherish those that we are given to share this journey with knowing that others were called to be with YOU.  All of our family is most important to us - those in heaven keep our eyes and hearts there to be united with them someday.  Knowing that they are praying for us and helping us on our way reminds us to fight the good fight that much more and resist those temptations that come along... my kids are watching me at this moment - makes me think twice!  Thank you, Lord!  You remind us today in the Gospel that our family is so much more than the 12 and Pat and now the in-laws and the grandchildren here, in the womb and in Heaven... our family are all is "whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."  How exciting is that?!?  Jesus, help us to feel the same bond and LOVE with all those in our spiritual family.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
One of my favorite pictures of Simon!  It reminds me of Hallel and how much she loves and prays for her Simon - I got a letter from Hallel yesterday, and she shared from the heart!  So good!
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Hallel talking about her being given the task of accounting for her monastery she is building in Marseille...
"I was completely overwhelmed by my incapacities.  So I went to the first mass for Christmas (because we have 4)and I was struck to see Jesus chose to become poor, helpless, he could do nothing for himself, he was a little baby (like Luke).  Jesus chose this and I , I try to escape from my weakness and poverty.  Jesus placed weakness and poverty in a place of honor... and I?  This is my Christmas grace; that Jesus wanted to be poor and so I must also welcome my poverty.  Don't worry I quickly climbed out of the dumps and since Christmas I learned a lot in accounting."  Little Sister Hallel  
Such a lesson to me to face those moments of weakness - My Most Cherished Cross and find LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT! 
Hallel and John together shortly after John's cancer struck in August 2009 for Susan taking her habit and changing her name to Little Sister Hallel.  A miracle in the series of miracles in John's journey called cancer/healing/following Christ where He will lead!
Third Day - I need a miracle
Matthew West - Hello, my name is