Saturday, January 31, 2015

In love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gathered outside Basilica of St Mary's before mass and then on to the Baptism of Dominic this summer the weekend after spending two weeks in Michigan with all 11 grandkids.  Pat and I shared the Sacrament of Matrimony at this very church 36 years before on August 3, 1978.  It was my home parish at the time we married, and I became a city girl come to the farm.  Tonight sharing in the Sacraments of Eucharist and Annointing of the Sick with Pat's mom just reminded me of how much I love our wonderful Catholic Church, and how it gives us so much for our journeys of LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  The power and healing of the Sacraments, the Saints, Our Spiritual Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, The Word of God, all the prayers and devotionals and sacramentals - a day isn't a day without the rosary a huge part of it for me... I usually have one in my pocket at work, too.  I just am so grateful for all that we receive to help us on the narrow path of Faith/Family/Farm.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barb

"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

My dad, Deacon Robert Cross, baptizing our first child, Ruth Ida.  This journey is the embodiment of the first reading today...  God looking out for his promise to us to show us the True Path to Him - the narrow path carrying our Most Cherished Cross to find LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!

The first line from the first reading grabbed me today with a wow!  Faith is so powerful in my life and feeling the hand of God on me so powerfully over the 63 years of my life leaves me in awe.  "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."  We long and hope for happiness in life and true happiness is found through our Faith!  Living that Faith out in our lives/domestic Church/family reveals to the world that Truth by how we live our lives and minister to the needs of others.
  Hallel when she first entered The Community of the Lamb as a postulant back in 2009.  Shortly after John found brain cancer to bring him to his Faith in Jesus and his Bride, The Church!  So powerful to watch our 2 youngest children enter in on such huge journeys of Faith!  They continue to praise him and serve him and love him and honor him and humbly follow him and share His Faith in their lives and when necessary use words!

Jesus, go with me this day to serve those in the NH.  Give me the strength, love and wisdom I need to do a good job and to serve them as you have ministered to me.  May we return to others the love and concern and forgiveness you have so freely shown us.  Yes!  You are in control in the midst of the storm today!  How we have clung to this knowledge of You being the one that brings all of our crazy storms of life under control!  This started our journey called brain cancer/healing through prayer,sacraments, the saints, Mary, the rosary, The Word to hear Hallel remind us that the reading on Father's Day 2009 - Mark 4:35-40..."Mom, this is the storm and Jesus is in control."  We gave it all to you and you answered John's prayer for Faith and touched many in the process... discovering the power of prayer in our lives with YOU.  Jesus, we Trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke
Use us this day, O Lord!
Danielle Rose - Pursue me

Friday, January 30, 2015

"those who have Faith and will possess LIFE." Hebrews 10

There are 3 farm dogs now... Ruth brought over her border collie pup yesterday to meet the other two dogs and the cows and calves.  Luke was right in the middle of all the dog action with a smile on his face, and warming his hand in Holly's soft fur.  Holly went back home with Ruth and her 5 kids... she gets lots of love and attention over there.  Ruth said that she did really well over here, and seems to be excited to know that there will be cows in her future.  There are some dogs like her that watch gates and herd the cows and calves.  Time will tell.  Lilly loves them all, but mostly to lick their noses when they come by the fence.

I am very excited to be in Mark 4 for readings these days and today's Gospel does not disappoint.  Why?  There is much drawing our thoughts back to 5 years ago and our cancer journey with John.  And the journey started with Mark 4:35-40... on Father's Day 2009!  The day that we took John into the ER in Marshall and heard for the first time that there was something in his brain, came home called Susan in France and heard the words - "Mom, this is the storm and Jesus is in control."  Yes, it is Jesus calming the storm and it is the reading tomorrow... I looked ahead and am anticipating.  Yes, that Gospel will forever bring me back to remember how we gave it all to Jesus as He is truly in control of our lives... lymphoma of the brain was the worst thing I could envision for my 20 year old son.  We just had our 6 month check up at Mayo a few weeks ago, we recalled his 5th birthday celebrated on the day that his stem cells were transplanted on Jan 27, 2010, we are following a friend through chemo and radiation - ringing the bell today - which recalls our journey, and most of all just having the privilege to sit through John's sharing his story with over 50 kids along with teachers and friends at Wabasso a couple nights ago.  Flooding back so powerfully!
On either side of the altar at St Ann's are statues of the child Mary - one with her parents and the other with her mother, Saint Ann.  I heard John ask our friend, Justin, about them and know that it was comforting to John to know of honoring Mary's sinless childhood all around him as he spoke of finding his Faith through brain cancer, and growing in such love for Our Lady.  There are those times that we have heard some that have heard his talk say; "I am afraid to ask for faith... I don't want cancer or something terrible to happen to me."  How do we answer that, and does John's story really touch people's hearts, minds and souls as we hope and pray for long and hard before he speaks?  It even amazes me and brings me to tears when John, each day that we pray together, thanks God for his brain cancer bringing him to Faith.  No, I see that John's story reminds people that all the struggles in our lives, and we all have them, are not to be shouldered alone.  Jesus is there to carry us when we are weak and sick and in that dying we find LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  Just as St Paul writes to the Hebrews in the first reading today - "We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and possess life."  Hebrews 10
The Cross is always in our lives, and is what brings us to LIFE eternal!  It has become The Tree of LIFE!

The Gospel today is from Mark 4 and is the reading just before tomorrow's calming of the storm... it is the parable of the mustard seed, and reminds us that all we need is the tiniest seed of faith to have huge results in our lives..."Once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."  Jesus' words to us this day telling us how he can use us to His honor and glory and when necessary use words. 
A snapshot of life...

It has been a wonderful morning with conversations with all of our children... that means first of all a call to Rome at about 4:30p their time, and getting Hallel on the phone!  She had wonderful news for us!  She will be coming to the U.S. for Easter week!  She just found out today, and we are thrilled and already knowing that we will be making many Verly trips down there in the almost month that she will be in KC!  She, hopefully, will be able to meet her 3 new nephews...  We had to call then to North Carolina and catch Maria in her new home - they arrived late yesterday afternoon and found a wonderful clean new home and their truck outside to unload all their things in the next few days!  "The kids are outside playing and the grass is green."  So wonderful after the desert for 3 years!  Maria was glad to get the news as soon as possible in hopes that they can get there to see Hallel while she is home at some point.  That led to calls to Ruth and Nancy with the news of great JOY, too! 
Ruth speaking yesterday - sharing their award winning speech!  Hallel wants some movies to see the kids sharing their farmlife as her Christmas present.  "I want to see Simon tell about tractors." 

Lord, we are so excited and happy to think that our far away in distance not in love or sharing in The Spirit daughter, Little Sister Hallel, is set to return close by in Kansas City!  How I have been praying for "a real hug" and the Lord saw fit to give me that gift.  Of course, I want to just go there and be there as long as she is here, but we must refrain ourselves and wait until the right time and we are invited to come and share in their lives!  It is hard to be patient and hold back, and it is such a blessing that we are welcomed as family and are able to share in their prayer life and each day we are given to be with them.  The words of Psalm 37 in the mass today are ringing in my heart and soul...Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will grant you your heart's requests.  Commit to the Lord your way; trust in him, and he will act.  He will make justice dawn on you like the light; bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.  Reminded of the healings of John and the call of Hallel and the LIGHT shared by Ruth and Paul for the world to see, and our military family now getting settled in North Carolina, after the wonderful month of close sharing we were gifted, and having the joy of sharing life with Nancy and her little ones here on the farm while Bill travels with work, and, yes, having John here to share our life as he thanks God for the cancer which brought him to Faith and the plan that remains a mystery and keeps him on his knees asking the Lord!  Thank you Lord most of all for being able to share our Faith/Family/Farm with all our children and grandchildren.  Even Hallel loves to share her farm roots with the rest of the Community of the Lamb!  "Do you have a player that you can put a DVD in and watch a movie about the farm?"  "Yes, mom, that is what I want from you for Christmas."  It is in the works!  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
A picture in which I added Hallel and Joseph and Romeo to make it complete... I do that without hesitation!
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

Ruth and Paul have a motto that they live by in their marriage - "Be life-giving in what you say and do."  It has caused me to pause from time to time and assess myself with Patrick Gerard Joseph!
Everyone but Hallel and I did add her for Christmas cards. 

How I long for this to be true!
Danielle Rose - the Saint that is just me
The Afters - Broken Hallelujah
I love this song and how they spell Hallelujah!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A family day of a different sort

 Pat and I had a noon date...we went to Tracy Subway to watch Ruth and Paul give their winning presentation, and we really enjoyed seeing them.  It really sinks in how much they have done for Agriculture over the years... a lot from Washington DC to our local college, high school and 4H club.  Pat is so impressed by how they present themselves, and to see our daughter so confident and sure of herself is a wonderful thing to see. 
 Then they were here putting the eartags into our calves as they are to be sent to Europe as hormone free animals.  Ruth brought their puppy over to meet the cows for the first time, and she was impressed by how good she did around them and...
 When Luke heard that Holly and mom and dad were out there working with the calves, he put his stocking cap on and was ready to get out there!
 "I want to go out and see my puppy and mom and dad!"
 Rose pushing Luke out to see the puppy!
 Holly is meeting the other dogs, and there is a lot of running around!
 Rose with the 3 dogs... they ran around her!
 Luke with grandma's glove on in the cold day... he is watching all the fun.
 from the stroller and now...
Luke is in the mix of 3 dogs in a tizzy.  The kids, Ruth and Holly headed home to join the other 3 for homework and supper.  I really liked the way Ruth and Paul ended their talk today by saying that there future plans were to raise their 5 children and devote their attention to them!  Right!  Soon they will be here on the farm and all they need do is walk out their door to be on the farm!  Holly will be the dog of residence and Lilly and Roger will have to come and visit.  A few years down the road yet.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barb
Soon a new pickup will be theirs', and we see that they truly deserved it!

A few more of some of our fun today...

Humble Light...

John sharing his story last night in Wabasso - St Ann's Catholic Church to the junior high and senior high kids and their teachers, Fr Tony Hesse, and some friends from TEC.  I was able to come along and marvel once again at the Lord at work and the power of PRAYER!  The message that John shares with courage and humility is that we need to make our Faith our own and no matter how small and flippant our prayer is... He will answer it in big and earth changing ways.  Yes, John has his LIGHT to share and all he longs to do is share it far and wide, but he is constantly being humbled and reminded that we are called to die to self so that Jesus/The Holy Spirit may live in us!
I left Rose in the house watching Sesame Street while I helped Ruth out in the shop, and came in to find Ruth helping herself to some ice cream.  Good midmorning snack or any time of the day, I guess.
 Life is kind of frazzled these days and spent on the road with husband and son.  My thoughts are disrupted and right now I am picking up crayons and getting them out of noses as a 2 1/2 year old and a year old are here coloring.  I see about 6 on the floor and more are falling by the minute.
 This was a few minutes ago with smiles all around... 

In thinking about the Gospel today which is the lamp placed on a lampstand to bring light to the house... a humble light not a beautiful chandelier is all that is needed for us to see.  We don't need to be in awe of the beauty of the LIGHT... a single candle or a single bulb serves the purpose of filling the room with light and allowing us to work, visit, eat, read, and any of the needs we have after our homes or barns or businesses or cars... a humble light is all that is needed to share The Truth! 
 The light is there to serve the need of banishing the darkness, and not to be admired for itself!  This was very true of John sharing his story last night... the story itself is not one of great accomplishments and prestige and pride in how wonderful all has been over the last 5 1/2 years.  We often leave these sharings thinking that maybe it could actually discourage some from asking for Faith as John was actually allowed to have Brain cancer!  And looking at the struggles the new John has had in finding his path and all the pieces of humble pie he has been served in the doors that have closed - the lost jobs, lost girlfriend, lost ability to play sports.. the new John is continuing to ask the Lord to show him direction on his journey called Brain cancer healing/now what Lord? 
Hard to resist taking too many pictures when they are standing in front of you with a big smile and saying "Cheese!" 

How does this humble light touch people?  By sharing the Love for Jesus, His Mother, and The Church that John has found - His Faith that continues to lead him with each day as he strives to say "yes" to all that is asked of him and although "wounded, I will not cease to LOVE."  His message is one of... the ways the Lord brings us to Him, and answers prayers in mysterious ways.  John prays every day - thanking God for his brain cancer, and finding Faith.  And we know that there is a plan for him!
Jesus, we thank you for the story that John shares of his half-hearted asking for faith, and realizing that Jesus listens and answers in mysterious ways... Life is challenging and we can only come out healed and whole if we look to Jesus and trust in HIM!  Today Jesus tells us how we are to humbly serve him - we are to place our lamp on the lampstand - not to be admired, "For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.  Anyone who has ears to hear out to hear."  Mark 4  Jesus, may we be a humble light, and share your Truth without hesitation.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Bless-bless, Barb
Kathy Troccoli - Go LIGHT your world

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January pictures - day 27 of 2015

 Luke, grandma and Holly the puppy headed out on the porch in sweatshirts on this late January day.  Not much snow left in the yard that looks like a big muddy puddle.  The garland looks like winter, but the little boy playing in socks and sweatshirt with the muddy yard looks like spring!
 Holly and Luke want to run and play...
 "You can get out this way, Holly!"
 "Just let me open it up for you Holly and we can run free in the sun!"
 "We're free!!!  Good-bye, grandma!"  "Come back you two... it's not that warm yet."
 Inside there were lots of warm snuggles enjoyed by Dave and the kitten that snuck in.
 Luke and his puppy wrestle and tussle around.  They sure are cute together.  That puppy is very soft and fluffy and Luke loves to put his face in her fur.  She doesn't seem to mind very much either.
 They were still enough to get a picture for once... usually it is a job with the two of them moving constantly!
Poetry in motion!
Mary bathed in the light from their big picture window - saving her lamb from the puppy.  Ovejeta which is sheep on Spanish...not puppy chew toy!   Bless-bless, Barb
 Mary and the puppy... Mary made a Valentine for Little Sister Hallel as I am getting a package ready to send to her.  Mary told Hallel about her new puppy.
The 5 relaxing together watching an animal show.  All but Luke and puppy running around.

Rebirth birthday #5 for Johnny!

Sharing a hymn before morning prayer...

Due to life John and I haven't had many mornings sharing the office lately, but this morning we made it a point to pray together!  It marks John's 5th birthday - the day after he had the bomb dropped on his immune system through some deadly chemos, and then had his stem cells replanted/transplant!  So appropriate to find the Gospel that day being the sower and the seed!  Today the Gospel speaks of doing the will of God, and that is what we are striving to do each moment of each day.
 In France miraculously for Hallel's taking her habit and changing her name after John's second chemo, and he got better!  He could get himself to the bathroom! 

We were sharing what the last 5 years have held for John as we prayed today for continued guidance and direction... it seems lately most of that involves doors closing, but John prayed today for that to be a positive door opening to show him the path to take.
 We counted the number of times we have seen Susan/Hallel in this journey and it seems to be about 8 times, which should be a good number over 5 1/2 years since Father's Day of 2009.  It has been a long spell now - since September of 2013... she hasn't met her 3 youngest nephews!
 Very early in the journey John received this from the Community - Susan is recognizable as one lowering him into the presence of Jesus. This scripture - the paralytic- as well as the calming of the storm would have to be the two that are huge for John's healing!  It was most comforting to have the paralytic be the reading a week and a half ago when John had his MRI... no cancer and now on to his future with Jesus and His Bride, The Church!

 We are following a friend, who will ring the bell for his final radiation tomorrow.  This was the group that gathered with him to celebrate his ringing the bell in December.  The word from the doctors - CR - no cancer/Complete Response/Christ Rules!  On to his stem cell and now the rest of his life - reborn to newness of life as the new John!
 John and baby Gus... in the last 5 years we have had 8 new nieces and nephews for John to share time with and experience the beauty of being open to LIFE!
 With his Godson, big Dave. It is true that the prayers of the little ones are heard more clearly by Jesus.  John's family has been lifting his up always and daily and our prayers are being heard.  We were reminded today by the meditation of Mother Mary Francis, PCC that "God has a great plan also in what we call the unexpected.  It isn't unexpected to God.  He planned it from all eternity.  There is no happenstance in life, certainly not in the spiritual life." 
 In the barn during calving a few years back... he says that the farm is not where he is to be, but it certainly is where he finds himself as long as he is living here with us and asking the Lord to show him his call.  His dad appreciates his help...
 The look of LOVE Godson for Godfather!
 I won an award with a hospice photo competition of Ruth and John walking into the sunset on Lake Michigan...  John now finds himself stepping back into life and was not called to walk into the sunset of life.  The sunset was there ahead of him and with all the doors closing/failures/pieces of humble pie he has been served... he has said from time to time "I should have died."  That is hard to hear, and he does admit that he has been given a new life to live and he knows that there is a plan for him, but what is it, Lord?
 A beautiful picture I have been given from the Community of walking into the LIGHT of the sunrise.  John is reminded of a new day ahead filled with Jesus and all that we are given for our journey filled with Mary - John has fallen in love with her!  He was just looking at a picture of Lourdes and speaking about the miracle of the waters there to heal and minister to the sick of the LOVE of our Lady for us!  John is smitten, and every time he speaks of her it with deep devotion and gratitude.  Then there are all the Saints - today St Angela Merici shares her LIGHT with us, and Angels and The Sacraments heal us and keep us on the narrow path, and the sacramentals fill us with prayer without ceasing... the rosary was a constant companion 5 years ago up to this day!
 The chapel at St Mary's in Rochester... many hours of prayer spent here!
 Hanging out with Our Lady on Easter Sunday less than 3 years ago.
 A silly one...
 An icon from the Community of the Lamb - reminding us that "wounded, I will not cease to LOVE." the motto they live by, and we take to heart as we die to self so that Jesus can live in us, and show us how we are to love and serve him through one another. 
 He is my son, and I love him.  Sharing the cancer journey has brought us very close and sharing prayer is a way we can use that love properly to lift up our needs and the needs of those suffering.  One thing that John does daily in his prayer is shocking to me!  He thanks God for his brain cancer!  Why?  Because he had no faith and half-heartedly prayed for it, and a week later he had brain cancer and found faith through prayer and healing and bringing his family together to fight the battle at his side!  here is John's story in his words - he was interviewed the year he was in seminary.  Yes, a year of seminary for the priesthood was a part of these last 5 years, too!
Gathering for our weeks of family time in Michigan 2 years ago.

Jesus, there is so much that has happened in these last 5 years for John... time to recover, back to college to finish and get his bachelors in Ag Communication.  A job selling insurance, a year in seminary and discerning out due to 6 years of study, time in France for Hallel's first vows and bathing in the miraculous springs of Lourdes for the second time, jobs with 4H, selling trucks, door to door sales, a wonderful girlfriend, who decided that John was not for her now, helping on the farm, lots of studying for selling insurance or selling trucks, working with DYC youth and leading weeks of retreats and sharing his LIGHT, most important to John is all the opportunities he has had to share his story - dozens of times!  "All I want to do it share my story, and let people know that Jesus continues to walk among us healing us."  John goes forward into this year of rebirth with renewed knowledge that You have a plan for him to use his new LIFE/LOVE/LIGHT!  I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he has stooped toward me.  And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God... I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly.  Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.  Psalm 40 from mass today.  Jesus, we trust in YOU.  Amen and Hallelujah
Many weddings and births in the last 5 years... Nancy and Bill's wedding, and yes I added Hallel!
Bless-bless, Barbara Luke

So often we say, "Oh, I didn't expect that to happen!"  Well, God did.  We could think, "Oh, that is what caused everything to go wrong," but actually that is what is supposed to make everything go right.  There is nothing unexpected in all of creation.  There is a plan in what we would call the unexpected.  Wasn't the Incarnation the most unpredictable thing that could ever have happened?  God has his whole master plan for each of our lives, for the community... for the Church, and we should delight to remember that nothing should ever take us by surprise, except the wonder of God's plan.  Mother Mary Francis (2006)  When Maria was in the Poor Clares, I read many of her books to help me discover more fully and deeply the beauty of The Poor Clare's LIFE of prayer and behind the enclosure.  So powerful to share these words with John today at prayer, and reminding him of The Plan he is in the midst of living and discovering for his life ahead.
John and His Spiritual Mother Mary at Lourdes in June of 2012 - Hallel's first vows!
Danielle Rose - True LOVE
Casting Crowns - Praise You in the storm