Now the stories of John's 4 sisters...Ruth, Nancy, Maria, and Susan/Little Sister Hallel!

All 19 of our family - I had to add Hallel to the group taken at Cross Christmas in December of 2012.  We had 3 new grandchildren since May1st!!!  Beautiful LIFE!  After writing days about John's journey it just seems that there is so much to share about our other children, and their call to be LIGHTS.  I will try to pray about this page, and spend time on it in the future!  Our children are each taking us deeper in our walk of Faith!  We are forever blessed by each of them in our lives.  Bless-bless, Barb
The 4 sisters on Maria's wedding day and their unique personalities come forth!
The 5 that are here on earth to share the JOURNEY!  Faith, Family and Farm make us what we are called to be... LIGHTS in this world!
I find myself here on a windy Thursday afternoon May 2. 2013.  It is very cold and windy outside, and fieldwork has not begun due to a late winter with lots of April snow this year.  So the craziness has not officially begun around here with the field work, garden work, mowing and all that adds up this time of year, so the thought came to me to sit down and try to fill in this page that has been waiting for me to share about my 4 wonderful daughters!  They came beautifully and effortlessly to us in our openness to family with only one 3 month mischarriage between the two oldest.  I would not have Nancy Anna if I had carried Christopher to term, so that makes his loss that much more easy for me.  How I love my girls and they have been such a joy to me all the way through my nest years, they then invited Pat and I to TEC - the first 3 before we finally said "yes", and that is just an example of how they continually take us deeper into our Catholic Faith!  It was interesting lately to read Nancy share on her blog - http://www.dosmallthingswithlove.com/ - that her sisters and brother are her best friends!  I have noticed how wonderfully my children have gotten along for the most part... when I say this fact... always they disagree, saying that they have had arguments over the years.  I honestly do not remember ever hearing them fight or argue!  They were quiet, and happy, and loving children from my memories, and we had a wonderful life in our little home - the lowest home in the county as we came from having a flood in the house by one step - of course the basement was full to the ceiling with water.

Ruth Ida Rose - daughter #1
I was not a young woman when I married Patrick by standards down here in Louwagieville/Marshall/Green Valley.  I am from a family of 13 - being the oldest of 11, but I have very few first cousins.  Pat, my husband, on the other hand, has over 100 first cousins with huge families more the norm than not.  His mother was a Louwagie - first generation American with both parents from Belgium, and his father Gerard was also with this heritage.  So my husband is 100% Belgian, while I am a mutt.  Of the 7 brothers Louwagie there were for the most part very large families and this quickly became a life-long hobby of mine... to remember which cousin went with which family, and then their families too!  There were many that looked like Pat, so that was even more fun and intriguing to me.  I knew that it was the habit of the cousins Pat's age to marry young, and to find girls that had farming background.  Well, I had found Pat and he was still young but I was 3 years older.  He was even starting to think that he was old at 23, but for me to be 26 going on 27 was really getting up there!  I was also a city girl and very naive about anything farming.  Then it was my hope to get pregnant right away after we were married, which all 3 of our daughters managed to do...  But it just didn't happen, so we learned natural family planning to get pregnant!  There were two of Pat's cousins with us... one learning and one teaching with the opposite problem - one now has 9 and one 10... I think this is great and really shows that God has His ways, and that is for us to have FAMILY, and be open to LIFE!  But then everyone knows that this is my feelings on the matter, and it just so happens that the Church is right there with me!  On my first charting - I got pregnant and have charted every cycle since with all 11 of my pregnancies!  I have the records of all my years of childbearing and I have read them like my Bible for many years!  But that is once again my hobby/obsession - LIFE is a gift/Cross I will call them!  I also have the story that I was doing a pregnancy test at the Birthright office, as I was learning to be a volunteer, and found out that I was pregnant with Ruth!  What JOY! 

Ruth had the distinction of being the first, and so we would get up in the morning and I would go over to help Pat milk the cows.  We would take little Ruth and put her in the bed with grandma and grandpa, while we milked the cows, fed them and the calves, etc.  There is even a movie of Ruth starting to walk, that grandpa and grandma Verly took, with a different outfit each day that has yet to be seen.  That will be a fun thing to see someday as Ruth is now into her 30s!  Ruth is known in our family as a wonderful big sister, although her tendency to always be late is a annoyance - especially when they needed to get the bus at the end of the driveway, or when she started to drive them all to school!  She was always an animal lover, and it is quite evident that she loved her life as a farmgirl, as now Paul and Ruth have the life for their family, just as Ruth grew up with.  They have their little red barn, and actually keep animals in there for the kids to work with for 4H with beef and hogs.  The pigs were never part of our 4 H experience, but they were for the Lanoues, so the kids are getting both now.  It sure is cute to see Simon and Mary chasing around those personality plus pigs.  It does look to be less stressful and just plain more fun than the beef - I have to say. 

Just last weekend for Simon's first Communion in front of their little red barn with the ability to put signs on it, and there are lots of occassions for that! 
Ruth also is twice the gardener I am.  She very much reminds me of my own mom with her buying flowers from catalogues and planting perenial gardens that come back year after year and look beautiful.  She was just reporting that she and Mary have spotted the asparagus coming up as well as hills of rhubarb and strawberries she started last year!  Ruth is such a delightful canning partner for me!  We each plant our garden and then as the produce comes in we put our pails of tomatoes or whatever together and can canners of food for the entire family.  Nancy will come and join on the work/fun when she can, but Maria is too far away in Texas to help out.  She does get boxes of jars from us when we can get a vehicle down there as we did just a month ago when Hallel came home for her first ever family visit for 5 days! 
Ruth found leaving her family to head off into the world and go to college hard - which reminds me of my moving one block away after I had finished college and got a job.  It seemed that she knew she would want to come home too often, so she chose a college that was 6 hours away and was Catholic/farm and ranch!  University of Mary in Bismarck, ND!!!  She wanted nursing, and they told her that they would help her get through and to do it in 4 years!  And they were true to their word!  Ruth was very homesick her first semester - she emailed dialy and that is crazy knowing how much she does not like to write.  Then she met life-long good friends, who share her values of family and faith.  She graduated a nurse, passed her boards, and then got a job working in Sioux Falls - Avera!  Just about this time her dad's suggestion that she should look Paul Lanoue's direction finally broke through.  Pat had noticed that Paul would come home for the weekend to go to mass in Milroy - a small neighboring parrish.  He would tell me that he thought that Paul would be a good father, and devoted Catholic, so in Pat Verly fashion he would constantly remind Ruth about Paul - "Ruth, you should see what Paul is doing this weekend."  Finally at the County Fair 2002 - she threw up her hands in surrender.  They shared a malt and walked around the fair looking at equipment, and animals, and projects... This was Ruth's first boyfriend, and after having a date where they shared what they each wanted - it was the same!  We joke that this is about as close to a modern day arranged marriage as a person could have!  They were engaged by the following April, and married in November ice storm!  Then it was on the plane to Rome and having their marriage blessed by Blessed John Paul II!

My dad, Deacon Robert Cross, administering the Sacrament of Marriage to Ruth and Paul on Nov 22, 2003!!!

Paul looked up at the Pope and said - "Please, Bless us with a happy healthy family."  How powerfully has this blessing been with them on their journey!
Ruth and Paul shared the exciting news that they were expecting with their first cycle!  Things went smoothly until the delivery and Simon just had a hard time coming out.  It turned out that the cord was wrapped all around him - neck and arm - so a Csection had to be done.  Our first grandchild was here, and safely! 

Such beauty and sweetness!!!
Joy of Joys - Ruth and Paul moved 3 miles from us on their building site in the country when Simon was 1!  How I agonized that Simon was in daycare while Ruth worked parttime as a nurse, now I was able to watch him and have that special time with him.  Not quite as good as mom, but second best!  The years that I watched Ruth's kids - first Simon and then 1 1/2years later there was Mary!  Mary added to Ruth's story of Family in a very definite way.  Ruth wanted to have Mary Vback and therefore try to get back to having births the old fashioned way.  Just as Mary was coming down the birth canal she felt terrific pain, and when Mary came out she was limp until she had some oxygen and then she was perfectly fine and has been ever since.  But.... Ruth discovered that her uterus had tore and was airlifted to Sioux Falls!  A woman Catholic surgeon was able to save her uterus and sew her back up.  Ruth came to me crying a month later after visiting her Dr here in town.  He had told her no more children! 

Ruth pregant with Mary close to having her on April 19th with her pet cow, Carmel with her last calf. 
Ruth was devastated and beseeching the Lord what she should do!  She knew that she did not want to sterilize and knew that it was not what the Church wanted her to do either.  I asked her to meet with the surgeon, who had saved her uterus and to get a second opinion.  So Paul and Ruth went to meet with her and she made them look into her eyes and promise her that they would give Ruth's uterus at least a year to heal before she gets pregnant and then with close watching and with a Csection as soon as the baby was ready... there was a 95% chance that they would have another healthy baby.  Paul left there saying that from his perspective as a teacher - 95% is an A!  Now Ruth had to decide how she would wait for the next one.  She chose to go with a natural method called Creighton Model, and she not only learned how to live it with Paul and wait in a natural way that is according to the wisdom of The Church, but she even was trained and is now a instructor and works with other women that need to wait or are struggling with infertility!  She turned her personal Cross into a gift of LIFE that she can share with others!  They have since had two other children - David and Rose!  When she had David she would say often that he was her miracle baby and most women would not have had David, so she feels that he will be her priest.  David truly is a lover of priests!  He runs up to Fr Paul every Sunday and gives him a huge hug!

Ruth holding baby Mary for the first time after her surgery... we brought her family to bring her back home to recouperate in the arms of her loving family!

I then watched Mary and Simon while Ruth worked half time!  We had many adventures on any day we could get outside and out of the house!

Simon loves the equipment but Mary is the animal lover!

Yes, who wouldn't love baby kitties?  No, we didn't keep them in drawers, but little girls put them in them from time to time just for fun!

Or in pillows on the bed!

One of my favorite pictures of Mary with the big baby bottle and Roger! 

Well, when David came along - the other two went to preschool and it was just David and grandma!  So fun to just have little Dave to enjoy! 

Ruth with the first 3 along with dogs and calf in the early spring of 2009... with her little miracle boy David Lawrence!  And the surgeon/OB said that her uterus and the incision looked good and healed nicely!  Ruth said "no" to sterilization!
After David turned 3 in September we were expecting the arrival of our foreign exchange student from 2001 and his parents from Brazil... Ruth announced that she was expecting #4!  The prayers started from the moment we knew and it came to me early on that I was praying for little "rosebud."  There was a picture of Mary when she was one day old in our bedroom that I would look at when I would pray for little Rosebud.  A while into the pregnancy Ruth told me that they liked Rose but they couldn't think of a middle name to go with it - "Why not Rose Ida?"  It just seemed right to me after having my Ruth Ida all these years.  As a grandma - I have thought how special it would be to have a Barbara somewhere along to share this in a special way, so I thought that it would be a special bond between Ruth and her daughter.  I was in the Church praying in front of the tabernacle when Ruth went in for her Csection on May 1, 2012.  The phone rang and Paul said - "Well it's a girl, and she is quite dark, and her name is Rose Ida."  JOY!!! 
Rose at 4 months with her loving sibs - Simon thinks there is a pattern - boy-girl-boy-girl... so you know what #5 should be.  Time and lots of prayers will tell!  Ooops, I spilled the beans already!
 Miracle baby number 2 is here in this world, and she is truly a picture of LIFE for all to see!  So bright and active - Ruth would tell you that from her pregnancy in the womb - and just like an opening blossom in the Sonlight... beautiful Rose Ida!  And now to be a big sister!  Ruth and Paul were surprised by a new little one that the Lord decided would join the family at Halloween!  Ruth was just in today and saw it active and doing just fine.  They are happy with where the placenta looks to be, and taking every precaution to get the baby here safely!  Ruth too!  The prayers have begun and this one I am praying for Veronica/Luke... Simon said the other day that if its a girl it should be named Veronica after the woman that wiped Jesus' face with her veil, and Luke was their boy's name from the last one... so just a way for me to pray for it and makes me feel close to this precious new LIFE!  
One year old Rose the day after her first birthday - we are praying for mom while she is having the baby checked... all is well! 
Ruth and Paul are raising their family in the Church!  They are sending the kids to Holy Redeemer School where Ruth and her siblings went, and her dad and his family before that.  WE have always been very happy with the good Catholic Education that they have gotten there.  There is prayers before meals and at bedtime. Lately they have started sharing from some books on the lives of the Saints.  This was very big for our kids growing up and was a huge lesson to them that no matter what the challanges in LIFE with Christ we can persevere and we can always look to HIM to carry us through our trials.  The Saints have been huge for us in our shared domestic Church faithlife!  There are many times that we have been told that Simon and Mary show the depth they have gotten in their home.  Simon's kindergarten teacher said that Simon taught the class about Jesus and Mary.  When I asked her about this she said that Simon is at a very deep place with his faith and truly did take the whole class into a better and more powerful understanding of Jesus and Mary!  Wow!  Just lately Simon had a very profound insight into poverty..."God is better than money, and that is why Susie/Hallel is poor."  So profoundly simple yet Truth supreme!  Thank you, Simon!
One cute story of Mary - she was spending some time with her great- aunt and great-grandma for an overnight.  They had a big day and got home very tired and were heading to bed, but Mary said that they needed to pray first.  They asked her to show them how, so she led them in the formula prayers and the personal intetions they pray for before bed before they headed to sleep for the night.  So special and it says so much about the importance of Faith and Family and Farm that has been the groundwork of Ruth's family!  Their home reflects the calm and relaxed attitude of Ruth and Paul for what LIFE gives to them.  If you get lemons make lemonade.  And one thing they learned at their premarriage weekend - Be lifegiving in what you say and do for your spouse and not life-taking.  Ruth and Paul do this very well, and it is such a lesson to Pat and I!


 A year ago welcoming little Rosebud - Rose Ida!

High school graduation picture - Ruth in the lilacs!!!
They are now getting more involved in the farm with the hope of carrying it forth into the future.  We are truly blessed by our oldest daughter, Ruth Ida, and her wonderful handpicked husband Paul and their growing family!
Nancy Anna Joan of Arc - daughter #2
There was the difficulty of my first miscarriage after Ruth.  She was about 16 months when I got pregnant again, and with great JOY!  Then at about 2 1/2 months I lost the pregnancy and it was a sad hard time for me.  My mother had never had a miscarriage so it was something she could not understand or relate to, and my mother-in-law had experienced them within her 10 living children and felt that it was just something that you should not dwell on, or really desereved much of our time or grieving.  I felt that it had been a life and I had already developed a relationship with my little life.  So I grieved and even decided to give it a name.  After having girl after girl - I started to think that I couldn't carry boys so I named my lossed boys names.  The first I named Christopher.  In a few months I was pregnant again... it was July and I was newly pregnant and riding the bean rider spraying beans with a long wand and a chemical spray.  I prayed so hard for the safely of my little sweet life within, and on April 2, 1982 she came into the world induced 2 weeks early after I had been on bedrest for high blood pressure - preeclampsia.  My younger sister, Mary, came to help out with Ruth and lived with us for a month and 1/2 or so.  She fell in love with the farm, and was such a great helper to Pat and his brother, Don, with the milking chores that they hated to see her go.  She returned to St Croix Falls area and found her own dairy farmer, Gerry! 

Baby Nancy with her dad and Ruth snuggling. 


Family picture when Nancy was 8 months - I had just found out that I was pregnant with Maria.
Nancy was a very quiet baby - she slept all night the first night home from the hospital!  I thought that she might be taken from me at a young age because she seemed to be a living angel.  I would can all day long and forget that she was in the crib, because she wouldn't cry to nurse.  Yet she was very healthy and thrived at the same time.  We discovered when she was 1 and her speech wasn't developing that she had fluid behind her eardrums from birth and she had tubes put in.  Then she started to develope her speech and became the vocal person she is to this day. 

Dark curly hair, chocolate eyes, and dark complexion - Nancy Anna - named after both of her grandmothers - Nancy Cross and Anna Verly! 
Nancy did well in school and loved to have our family art projects on Saturdays.  She loved this so much that she now has a blog dedicated to her projects and has an entire room of art supplies to feed her passion... including a passion for buttons and men's ties!  She has stories to tell about these over the years - walking out on the stage in junior high in a jumper she made out of men's ties from the thrift store and a preacher in the audience recognizing many of his ties walking by!  Too fun!  I see that I have passed on a lot of my uniqueness and stand out from the crowdness to Nancy.  Sorry, Nancy.  Yet it makes me smile to see the things that I share with each of my daughters.  It is very humbling, too!  With a sister coming just 16 months after her... there has always been a bit of competition between the two sisters, who were just a year apart in school.

The three oldest - not quite dressed alike but matching.  How I loved to do that, and now I see that Ruth does it too..,

See what I mean - this was Christmas 2012 and so cute too!
Nancy was a girl that always talked about heading out to some big city like New York City or Chicago for college.  How I feared that thought, so we took her up to Bismarck to U of Mary for a college visit with Ruth there 2 years ahead of her.  I took a picture of the two of them with the bell tower of the Church between them and put it in Nancy's room - praying that she would decide to go there too.  She did!  She wanted to pursue education, and it took her more like 5 years to complete it.  While there she was active in the campus faith community and confronted the sisters on why if it was called the University of Mary... there were no statues of Mary there.  Now that Ruth and Nancy are graduated we are thrilled to share that there is now a Catholic Studies program with studying in Rome!  Nancy had some wonderful girlfriends from right around here including a cousin that went there with her.  It was a good place for Nancy to stick to her farm roots and to learn much about the American Indian culture, which payed off later in her carreer.
A famous picture of the new baby,Susan, Nancy had made crowns for all the girls shortly after her baby sister came home from the hospital.  "We are all princesses!" 

Nancy returned home from college one summer and starred in Oliver with her younger brother, John.  Yes, acting is part of her life.  After becoming a teacher, she returned to the high school she graduated from to teach for 3 years!  She taught high school English and was the coach of the speech team.  At the same time she started to teach in Marshall so did her brother-in-law, Paul Lanoue.  He taught Ag and was the FFA advisor.  John had just lost Susan, who graduated in 2004 and now he had his sister teaching him English and coaching his beloved speech, and Paul teaching him Ag and being his FFA advisor!  He was in Heaven!  The biggest problem he had was remembering to call Nancy - Miss Verly.  It was so great to have Nancy back home.  She lived with us for about 6 months and shares that in the confessional that Fr suggested that it might be good for her to get her own place.  She moved dowwtown Marshall and lived above some businesses there with an old high school friend.  After giving Marshall 3 years - she decided that she wanted to go where she could meet more people.  I have a story to share towards the end of this time.  She met a man, who was a year older than her in school and she had known through some activities in school.  He had become a well doing lawyer in New York, and they started to talk on the phone after he had been home for a visit and they met.  He invited her out for a visit, so she decided to go and check it out.  He wined and dined her and took her all around to see the sights,but on Sunday she wanted to go to mass.  "I won't go with you but I will take you to a church and drop you off."  He said.  Namcy stressed that this was very important to her, and he continued to refuse.  That was the end.  She returned home and called it off before it really got started.  That was too large for her to overlook, and just showed her that this was not a person worth her spending any more time or energy on.

It was very hard to have Nancy leave, and hard for her too!  We know that she loved her life down here on the farm and continues to.  She would have loved to had the life she grew up with too, but she knew that she needed to move on,so she headed up to the Cities to look for work.  She had two sisters up there by then, because our next two girls both decided to go to St Thomas in St Paul and pursue Catholic Studies! 
Nancy eventually found a job working in an American Indian Alternative School in downtown Minneapolis.  It was a very challanging job and Nancy glowed in her challange to protect LIFE very soon in her arrival there.  The story goes that the woman, who had her job the year before had taken a young 15 year old girl, Veronica, for an abortion.  She then tried to commit suicide, and it was a big mess leading to her losing her job.  Well, shortly that next year the now 16 year old Veronica came to her pregnant again.  Nancy took her to the LIFE care center where her sister, Maria,worked, and they did an ultrasound and she decided to have the baby.  She later had a little boy and returned to the reservation.  Nancy has shared the difficulties of pregnancy and girls chosing to have abortions.  She met with one girl when she was herself pregnant with Augustine, and she told her that she would adopt the baby and raise it if only she would reconsider and give it LIFE!  "I went to the adoration chapel after work and prayed for the life of that baby, but she wasn't at school the next day and I knew that she had chosen the abortion."  so hard , yet Nancy struggled too to see the difficult lives that these little ones are brought into with the alcoholism and poverty and just the cycle of sad lost lives.  Much love shared and many prayers said and even to this day Nancy prays for her kids from those years. 

Nancy planting some plants in the garden with her Godson, Simon,
Well, I am smiling when I write this, but once again Pat had some input in the man that Nancy met and started to date.  It happened just about the same time that John's brain cancer hit the family.  But we were at a wedding and Nancy introduced us to an acquaintance, Bill from Cargil.  Pat said to Nancy later - "What about Bill as a possiblity for you?"  Well, that helped Nancy to get some direction as she had been left behind by both Ruth and her younger sister, Maria, who were married with children.  She has shared that she did enjoy the ability of being single there with Hallel taking her habit and changing her name in France and John's time in Rochester with his cancer. "I had the freedom to be there for both Susan and John and it felt good to be single for once."  But that was quickly changing, and we all rejoiced to come to know the generous and loving person - Billy Bandzuch!  He impressed us all with a wonderful Thanksgiving turkey for the entire family at the home that Maria, her husband, and soon to be two kids shared with Nancy and 3 law students!  This home on Marshall Ave just blocks from St Thomas was our home away from home for all that we faced with John's cancer! 

Bill wows the family with a wonderful meal for this scarey bunch!  Bill had asked Nancy if she wanted to hang out - she told him plainly that she was not looking to be friends, and he thought that was good to pursue!  They were engaged by March, and married by the end of August!

Nancy and Little Sister Hallel helps John walk in Lourdes in August 2009 - just a month after he was diagnosed with brain cancer!

Nancy finds the man of her dreams after a long wait!  The wait for her Billy made him that much more special and beloved! 

Nancy beautifully glowing on her wedding day - Feast of St Augustine August 28, 2010!  How I wept as I walked down the aisle on the arm of my healed son, John!  Engulfed by all that had happened in that year of Nancy and Bill dating, engaged and married on this day... John's cancer/healing journey, Hallel taking her habit and the following year her first vows - major steps in her path called Bride of Christ, and Nancy finding her Most Cherished Cross with great JOY!  Maria had also welcomed her David just the December before, so new life had come in the midst of it all!  Too much for one old woman to hold in all at once!  Nancy's wedding - once again my dad was there to assist on the altar, and to preach on the Truth of our glorious Church and that Nancy and Bill were waiting for their wedding day!  How much Joy and excitement it there when you know the couple is waiting for marriage?  Complete total happiness knowing that they are pure and starting off listening and Trusting in the wisdom of The Church!  All 3 girls were chaste until marriage! 

Our girls were not popular - although I always felt that they were so beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside too!  That not being accepted by the in group did not really hurt them other than to give them a humility and softness that made them that much more beautiful for their future spouses!  Like a rosebud that opens up into a beautiful untouched rose in the Sonlight... they went to their husbands in all their beauty only for them!  They had no baggage to deal with and when they ran into relationships along the way that were less than what they were looking for... they walked away and looked for those values that they most wanted to find.  I always knew that Nancy was looking for her father in her future husband.  She loved her father and knew that he listened to the Holy Spirit in his life - "The world needs lights."  he told me when I even started to think that we were being selfish to want to have a large family.  She also saw how wonderful he was as a communicator and caring about all that we are doing in life.  We laugh now at how much like her dad Billy truly is!  He is wonderful at sharing all that comes to him in life, and he is a wonderful father, husband and provider!  Nancy is able to stay at home with her growing family and they continue to be open to LIFE and the family that they will be blessed with!  Just as with her sisters - Nancy and Bill welcomed Augustine just 9 months after their wedding!  I was in Kansas City on my way to Maria's in Missouri with a car... Maria and her kids then jumped in with me and headed up to see Nancy and the baby... and then there is more to this story but I will save that for Maria's sharing. 

Nancy down for a visit on the farm when Gus was about 5 months... I love this picture of the two of them.  How Nancy loves the farm and we are blessed that they just live up in the Cities so there are a lot of back and forth.  That will be more now that Bill has taken a job of international travel, so since her kids are not in school yet... she plans to spend a lot of that time down here on the farm. 
Nancy has blossomed as a wife and mother, and has the greatest gift of being able to be home with Gus and then about 16 1/2 months later she welcomed their little new daugther, Bernadette!   It has been interesting to realize that for a young woman in the City in this day and age - Nancy feels a need to be justified as a stay at home mom.  She needs to feel worth in accomplishing more than just the constant job of caring for her two small children, the house, and her husband's needs... she has found an outlet for this with her blog - smallthings - http://www.dosmallthingswithlove.com/  It is constantly developing and changing.  It is no surprise to anyone that I prefer her personal sharing and she has a weekly mom- woman of Faith on Saturdays that I have even contributed to.  But she has hundreds of followers for her crafts and pictures and sharing things about young moms - without getting too Catholic.  I give Nancy credit - for being every bit as strong in her faith as I am - she is very loving and nonjudgemental - as our Lord asks of us - in her sharing.  She brings many more into her confidence and probably is much wider in her influence and sharing the Truth.  I, on the other hand, am very black and white in my sharing and have no desire to pussy foot around with faith matters.  Nancy admits that the Saturday art projects we would do at home when the kids were small - were her absolute delight!  It shows with her endless projects - most recently was her cow-book binder which was adorable, related to her life on the farm, and a total HIT!  Who knew what all can be done with amazing felt?

Nancy using the corer pealer with two little boys - one helpful(?) and one watching with new eyes!  How Nancy loves to help with the big putting up food projects that we have on the farm.  When all the kids were in the kitchen helping me - those are some of the best times!!!

Making homemade bread - each girl is touching their creation/ work of art/ nummyness!

Family canning day - those are genuine smiles and not just for the camera... sharing the jobs make them fun, and we love our homemade/homegrown food!  They are jars of JOY!

Grandma Ann with her horses!  She taught me all that I know about canning and baking bread, and most importantly about sharing that time with your family in the kitchen!  She made the farm fun for me - a city girl come to the farm!  Thank you!

With John at the Seminary along with cousin Fr Paul Timmerman on the day that she had Bernadette!

Gus is such a loving brother - Bernadette arrives Nov 13, 2012!  It just seems that Augustine was born to be a big brother and loves to have a new arrival to share his life with!  True LOVE is a beautiful sight!  Nancy is a natural mother and it is such a JOY to see the happiness in her home, with her husband and growing family!  They are taking very seriously sharing the Faith in their home, and plan also to have their children in Catholic School up there.  Both Nancy and Bill have a support group of Catholic men and women that allows them to grow in their faith and then share it at home.  They pray together and worship together.  Each child is brought to the Church in Baptism within the first weeks of their birth, as they feel that they need to find their roots in The Church! 

Nancy brings Bernadette to the altar of Our Lady during her baptism -asking the Spiritual Mother to be always with Nancy as she shares the Faith with her husband, family and the world around her!

Bernadette wearing the Baptismal gown that grandma Verly made for Ruth - all the girls wore it and now all the granddaughters!

Precious pose! - 93 and 6 weeks...
Nancy makes trips out East to Pennsylvania, as that is where Bill is from.  It seems that a lot of travel will now be a part of their lives and as their family gets bigger - probably many days in the car is more and more likely.  Family is so important that this will be a small sacrifice to make.  "Nothing can replace the family."  Moonstruck

Maria Teresa Clare - daughter #3 born August 14, 1983
Maria came the easiest for me... I got pregnant surprisingly fast after Nancy - they are just 16 1/2 months apart, and although I was on bedrest for my usual hypertention... I went into labor without being induced - although I had about 3 nights of false labor first.  They were doing some good, however, because when I went in early in the morning - the Feastday of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven - and there are many birthdays that we went to mass and sang - Ave Maria... anyways I was dilated to 8 and quickly to 10, but still needed pitocin to push her out!  Maria was my first normal baby - crying more/crabby and I had to put things up for the first time as she was active and curious... a sign of intelligence also as she was super smart and precocious!  I remember holding my breath when I asked Mrs Hubble - the kindergarten teacher that had taught all the girls - "How is Maria for you?"  "She's every bit as good as any of your girls."  She reassured me!  She had given me a hard time - more than the others, so I was very relieved to hear that! 
Paula's wedding - me with baby Maria in my arms and baby Nancy in front.  Nancy is not even 1 and 1/2 yet, and Maria looks pretty new.  Pat and Ruth must have been elsewhere at the time. 
Maria was very young to put into kindergarten as she had just turned 5 in the summer, but it was the best thing to do with her being always at the top of her class as well as one of the tallest in her grade!  When she got into high school she surprised our little Verly girl world by having a boyfriend her last couple years... and a group of some of the popular kids for friends.  This was totally out of character for our shy retiring bunch for those years.  Prom was a dirty word around here, Ruth went with someone and had a miserable time as as senior, and Nancy was never asked and sadly never went.  Maria went with her boyfriend, who was truly a stand up and wonderful person in every way.  He would go out of his way to sit with the outcasts, and truly lived his faith in action.  He and Maria were very involved in youth faith groups and even started one ecumenical one called Teen talk in homes.  It continues to go now in a neighboring town and is run by Fr Jeremy now.  Maria really struggled making her Catholic Faith her own.  I told her on the way to her confirmation that she had better not go ahead with Confirmation, because this step meant that she was saying that she would be Catholic always.  She went ahead with it, but I knew that when she got away at college she would be looking for an Efree Church!  Hence when we were looking for colleges and we had looked at a Lutheran private and a Catholic in St Paul...she chose the Lutheran saying that there was no difference.  We strongly disagreed, and told her that if we were paying for a private education that it would be Catholic.  So it was decided that she would go to St Thomas, and just at this time a wonderful new program in line with the Holy Father and The Church had begun - Catholic Studies!  We thought that this would be a good fit for Maria with her hunger to discover her Faith, but when she headed off to college she was not about to admit that! 
My dad baptizing Maria and she is crying to let us know that the third is not to be taken lightly! 


A famous favorite picture - Maria and the giant carrot - fall of 1985 - two years old and so precious and the picture of health!  I think that I can see her two oldest in this picture - don't you Maria?
I just recalled another high school story of Maria's that is huge for our family, for me personally and for my marriage relationship to Patrick Gerard!  Maria was not quite 16, and she went to the August ATEC - adults and teens encounter Christ retreat just a few weeks short of her birthday.  She was the 3rd daughter and the 3rd one to make TEC - now called Together Encounter Christ.  Each of the girls had gone and invited Pat and I, and the first two I just said - "I am good with my faith."  Well, when Maria came home excited and invited me -  I said "Yes."  So during the busiest time of the year - harvest - I went to the October TEC in Winsted just an hour from the Cities.  I knew that Maria was there, and the knowledge that she was so lovingly praying for me and wanting me to deepen my relationship with Christ and His Bride, The Church... well, it brought PRAYER  so alive for me!  Prayer became much more than just something you half-heartedly tell someone you will do for them.  It is real - with each beat of my heart, and with every breath that I take - "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."  And right there with every bead that passes through my fingers asking Our amazing Spiritual Mother to intercede with her Son, Jesus Christ - "Hail Mary, Full of Grace.."  The power of prayer was so real and it changed me and brought me to such a place of newfound FAITH!  I wept great rivers of tears every time Maria appeared - big surprise!  I fell madly and forever in LOVE with Jesus, and his glorious Bride , The Church!  I also discovered this most wonderful retreat as a way to share my Faith with family and friends - such an out of this world evangelization tool!  I work many a year, and the prayers that came from our TEC family including our healing week of prayer for the first week of December 2009 were so much a part of John's miraculous healing!  I had to take an entire year off from working my 3-4 that year in order to concentrate on John's care and healing, but we were so held up in prayer that we could feel the arms of the Lord around us - "This is the storm, and Jesus is in control."  Pat followed me to TEC that winter and it has brought our marriage and shared time with the Word and prayer to a place that we had always hoped it would be!  We now direct together once a year and then work other roles as needed and time allows.  Patrick shows his amazing ability to serve by working the huge servant role of Gopher director!  He tries to do it at least once a year if he can.  Later Susan and John would attend theirs when they were 16, so this is something we truly have shared as family!  Now the girls have gotten their husbands to go too!  On a side note - back in high school Ruth and Paul made the same TEC retreat before they discovered that they were meant to be together.  It has definitely been a powerful part of their growing relationship over the years! 

This picture is kind of funny as Maria was not a big lover of livestock, or showing it at the fair, but she too has come to appreciate her roots and a few winters ago when she lived here with her two oldest while Joseph was in bootcamp and officer training... she enjoyed sharing calving with her kids!

There is no denying those farm roots!
Well, Maria headed off to the big city - St Paul for college.  I will always remember the stunned and overwhelmed look on her face as she stood on the busy street by campus the day of our college visit.  But she headed up there, and decided to live in the chemical free floor and had a nice roommate.  She shared later that within a short time she asked a seminarian friend where she could find an E-free church, and he said these famous words - "We have to talk."  Well, I am forever grateful to this young man, because thanks to him and the Holy Spirit listening to our prayers for our daughter... I received this letter at the Thanksgiving TEC 173... Susan was making her first TEC and team Verly was there.  I opened this letter from Maria and it is now taped inside my Bible;
"I love you!  I am sorry if I have been stubborn lately with this statement, but it is true.  You have also loved me, even when I totally turned against you and all that you believe in.  Well, now you know that your prayers are definitely answered, because I know that my faith filled a lot of your prayer time in the last 2 years.  My relationships at college have really helped me.  I have definitely renewed my love of the Catholic Church and everything in it, but I still am in need of prayers for me to continue to grow in faith. I don't think that I ever told you this, but you and dad are amazing.  You raised all of us in The Church and built us a faith foundation on which we can grow on,  Thank you!"  Maria Teresa... she told me that not only did she not miss a Sunday mass, but now she was going to daily mass!  And Yes -she quickly embraced Catholic Studies and decided to study in Rome for her entire Sophomore year!  So powerful! 
There is a story related to Maria's approach to her free time in college.  She felt that it was not important to concern herself with finding a job, but rather that she volunteered at a Prolife agency!  All the kids had been aware of my volunteering for Birthright from the first year we were married - answering the phone in our home and working a Monday night every month.  So it just seemed to be a reflection on Maria taking to heart those values for her to choose this to devote hours and even to the point of carrying a crisis phone after hours and talking to girls with a looming pregnancy on their hearts and minds.  Now I see that for her to take up the baton for LIFE was huge for her to fit this priority in with all of her studies!  This is one time early on that I started to realize that Maria and I see eye to eye on many issues, and the same things make us tick!  All the girls have taken the LIFE issues into their lives, and are faithful warriors for LIFE!
Maria got her parents to Rome!   Actually she managed to get our entire family there in 3 different groups!  First over Christmas Nancy and Susan went, then in Lent over for 10 days in Feb - Pat and I and finally the oldest and youngest - Ruth and John went for a 10 day visit.  Kind of crazy amazing!

 The Bernardy house in Rome is walking distance to St Peters and was donated to the Catholic Studies department for the students to live and study in Rome.  Maria and 2 other girls went for the whole year.  They all came back and entered religious orders - Sr Faustina and Sr Elizabeth are vowed sisters!  Maria discerned out after 5 months in the Poor Clares, but I am getting ahead of myself once again!

One of our pictures taken of St Peter's square at night!
Yes, it was beyond amazing that both Maria and then Susan studied in Rome for a year each!  Pat and I have said that, after our two oldest going to U of Mary, which cost about half as much as St Thomas - it would have made no sense for Maria and Susan to go there if it weren't for the Catholic Studies program!  It was worth every penny of the college fund their dad had set aside for them, for the girls to study in Rome!  Thanks to them we knew about the blessing of marriages that John Paul II did at his general audiences.  Pat and I watched the couples come up in their wedding clothes to kneel before him, and have their marriage blessed by him when we were there!  I thought that it was so appropriate for this champion of LIFE, and Marriage, and the Truth of the Domestic Church - that he should take this beautiful step to bless marriages!  We happened to have a foreign exchange student from Italy the year that Ruth and Paul were married, and his family invited them to come for their honeymoon in Italy!  So we had the paperwork all done so that they could kneel before John Paul II and ask him to bless them with a happy healthy family!  Too amazing!  And get this - Maria flew with them and stayed in Rome in the Catholic Studies house while they went North of Rome to Macerata, Venice and on and on! 
While in Rome for her soph year of study - Maria read Story of a Soul by St Therese of Lisieux, and it totally filled her with a great desire to pursue a call to cloistered religious life!  She doubted that there was such a thing as a cloistered monastery this day and age, but her spiritual director assured her there was and one not too far from home in Minnesota!  So after she returned from her year away... she started to take the steps necessary to join the community.  This deeply affected her siblings - Ruth was determined to get married before she entered, so a Nov 22 wedding in a ice storm she was married with all of her siblings there...
Storming outside, but together physically possibly for the last time.  The order Maria was entering - the sisters are enclosed behind an enclosure, and do not come out.  There is a screen between you when you visit, and this would have been a major loss of her in our lives!  We understand that with the crazy mess the world is in that this is important to protect them from the distractions of the world, and to allow them to fulfill their call to pray without ceasing for the worlds' needs!  I would hate to think about what the world would be like without the prayers being said in all the cloistered monasteries around the world by sisters, brothers and priests!  This was a very powerful and emotional time for our family!  We had going away parties for family and friends.  It was not known if she would ever be seen again outside the "wall."
Maria entered the Poor Clare Monastery after Christmas.  There were huge emotions that day, as John put his head on her shoulder all the 2 hour trip, and told her that she wasn't going to leave her family!  This is Easter Sunday and we were determined to be together as a family, so we sat on our side and passed food through to Maria and shared our meal complete with entertainment as John performed - O Happy Day lipsync to Sister Act!  He had just won Share the Fun doing it, so... Maria surprised her dad and I by asking us to come back - that she had something to tell us.  The following week we came complete with baby kittens in a basket, that we fit through the holes in the enclosure, so that she could hold them.  She told us that she knew that she didn't belong here, and was going to visit another monastery in order to discern entering there.  She was asked to write a letter saying that she wanted to be admitted - and couldn't write it... we were all surprised to have her return to the loving arms of her family!  I will always remember one night the family was out getting the cows and calves out to pasture and Maria stood in the middle of the cattle yard and exclaimed; "We have a wonderful LIFE!"  Maria had her life back, and it was all quite miraculous, after she had left with two Wallmart bags of possessions thinking that she would never return!  There was some disappointment in people that she had left the convent, but she was merely discerning and she discerned out.  She then returned to finish college, and even won a full scholarship for her masters!  She resumed her work with the prolife center, and it eventually did turn into a fulltime secretarial/accounting job.  Susan was also at St Thomas, and also studied in Rome for her entire Soph year!  So there years there did overlap, and they actually were roommates for the year that Maria met a former seminarian, Joseph.  

One of Maria and Joe's engagement pictures taken around the farm!  Yes, after about 6 months of dating - Joe sweltered in a hot truck with the windows closed while Pat worked outside as he was once again put to the Pat Verly test when he came to ask for Maria's hand in marriage! 

As a tribute to sweet Joe and  the treatment he received for doing the right thing - I am putting another of the over 150+ engagment pictures that I took that beautiful day!  Talking about asking for our daughters' hand - Paul went out in the spring on the 4wheeler to catch Pat who was digging in the tractor.  As they approached the end - Pat turned the tractor around and headed the other direction.  Paul was sure that he saw him, and was trying to ignore him.  Pat claims that he never saw him at all!  Well, they did finally meet up and Paul did get permission to ask Ruth to marry him and that all happened in Camden - and is another story!  A quick word about Billy asking Nancy... he had asked Pat and told us to all come up to the Cities and surprise Nancy just moments after he asked her!  Up until then Pat and Bill had totally messed with Nancy's mind telling her that some guys just aren't ready to think about marriage.  Days before he asked her and on their way back from a visit down here, where Bill had secretly asked Pat for Nancy's hand.  Nancy had cried all the way to the Cities asking Bill what he was waiting for!  Boy!  Was she embarrassed and mad that they had toyed with her affections in that way.  Now we can all laugh about it, and we certainly had a wonderful early spring celebration in the back yard of Maria's and Nancy's shared home! 

June 1 at St Mark's Church... John is now living in the convent just across the street from here as there are so many seminarians that the pre-theology guys are now living there!  Maria had done Creighton Model Natural family planning, and with its help in finding out a possible medical problem that could cause early miscarriages, got pregnant right away!  Knowing how much Maria and I share - I have wondered if this was my problem, and now a generation later they know about it, and somewhat ways to help.  Maria did progesterone shots to keep her levels up through most of her first trimester.  Then 9 months into their marriage she had little Therese Marie!

Many priests including my dad as Deacon at Maria and Joe's amazing Catholic wedding - to hear the many young people responding loud and clear to the Latin in the mass was quite something to behold!  Truly the Catholic youth that are strongly in line with the True Church!

Precious Therese Marie! There are so many amazing stories about Therese over the years.  She is a child that is very close to Jesus.  She sings about HIM, and talks quite profoundly about Jesus throughout her days.  Maria and Joe's home is without a TV.  They are firm disciplinarians and train their children young to speak and go to the bathroom.  They do not believe in coddling, and feel that some disppointments and doing without makes a child better and not worse!  They truly see the Cross in their home as the Tree of LIFE, and do not back down because something is difficult, or hard, or miserable.  Therese has a tender heart for the poor, and with the assistance of her mother makes little pictures/works of art and wraps them around a couple dollars, and hands them out the window to the homeless and poor with a sweet "God bless you." from her little girl lips!  I have wept to hear some of her special ways! 

Therese on her baptism day - yes she has a priest and a sister for her Godparents - I know that she is already considering religious life! 
Well, in the midst of our craziness with John's cancer Maria had pregnancy #2 without complications other than shots to keep her levels up at first.  Just as John was wrapping up his 6 weeks of radiation - during that time we would stay with Maria and travel down each day for his 10 minutes of radiation.  Maria had David before Christmas and she was able to Vback after a C-section with Therese - who was breach!  Pat, John, and I made it home to Marshall in a snowstorm, and proceeded to get snowed in together for Christmas.  While Maria was home with her new baby, and was doing fine with her great little boy!

Therese with her new brother just home from the hospital!  David Joseph is here! 

The two David grandsons!  Yes, David Lawrence is just 1 1/2 years older than David Joseph.  What can we say - it is a good name and they both are Big Dave and Little Dave to us!  This was little Dave's baptism day... 6 years after entering the monastery, the Lord had another plan for her and that is pretty special to be called to bring LIFE into the world - the World needs LIGHTS!

Well a year later we had the joy of Maria and the two living with us while Joe was at Boot camp and Officer training.  Just after they returned to be with Joe - Maria got pregnant and let us know so that we could begin praying.  Maria and Joe always let family know right away, and give the baby a boy and girl name so that we can begin to pray for them by name - they know the importance of prayer! And we were praying faithfully.  It happened that I was on my way to bring them a car where they were stationed, just as Nancy surprised us by having Augustine early by a few weeks.  Maria jumped into the car with her kids, and we drove up to the Cities to see Nancy and the baby!

While Maria was here visiting - she lost her pregnancy!  It broke my heart when she returned from the ultrasound, and took Therese on her lap and told her that the baby had died.  They wept together!  It was very enlightening to me,once again, because at the beginning of the week they had seen the heartbeat, and so we had so much hope.  To know that it was truly a LIFE no matter for how short was very powerful for Maria and I.  We decided that no matter what according to our beliefs about LIFE - it begins with conception, hence it should be named, and is a LIFE for us to meet in heaven someday!  It was crazy that I was with her when she had her loss.  I had prayed so hard that my girls would not have to suffer as I did, but for us to be together when it happened!  Too crazy!
I wish I could say that was that... Maria called us again to tell us that she was pregnant.  We headed with a Uhaul to Texas for Thanksgiving that year with all of their things that were stored down the basement.  We arrived there, and Maria sadly told me that the day before she had started spotting.  I was devastated, and could not believe that once again she was losing the baby, and I was with her!

How I fell on my knees in the mass that morning numb and scared that Maria was losing her baby again!   So it was!  I was devastated, and in shock - I told Nancy that this was so wrong for me to be with her both times!  Nancy said - "Who better to be with her, mom?   You would want to be there anyways, and you can help her through."  Yes, she did have questions for me, and it just was so hard to be there, and to once again have that feeling of loss, and sadness, and asking WHY?  We were shell shocked and miserable.   I offered to stay longer to help out, but she was just ready to have their own little family to work through the grief.  So a few months later I received this phone call from Maria - "I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that we are pregnant, and I don't want to see you for 3 months!"  Likewise!  So this time the baby was to be here, but Joe had to deploy, and would be gone when Maria was due to have the baby.  I left to be with her about 2 days before her due date, and day after day went by until she was 2 weeks overdue!  Maria told me not to say anything about her sister rupturing on a Vback in which she was also induced... the rest is history and well recorded in my page devoted to Patrick - http://familysoulstory.blogspot.com/p/the-story-of-little-lamb-grandson.html.  She ruptured and the placenta detached - Patrick was 20 minutes without oxygen, and born dead - resuscitated - and moved to NICU.  I baptized Patrick when he was just a couple hours old in NICU, and his healing is miraculous!  He is now with a normal EEG, and is being weaned off his siezure meds!  When they told Therese about being pregnant with Patrick - " We are going to get a big van in Heaven for all those kids!" and she totally knows that they have 5 kids!  She understands the Truth about LIFE! 
Maria is now starting to homeschool the kids, and they attend mass daily since her days in the convent.  She recently took her kids to see her community in MN for the first time since she left, and they were so happy to meet her kids and most especially Patrick for whom they had prayed long and hard with such amazing results!  We are so blessed to have their prayers for all the difficulties that come with LIFE!  Maria stays at home with her kids, and is very involved in with a group of military Catholic women.  They have great support, which they need as they are so far away from their families.  Just a few weeks ago we traveled down there - 2 days travel to pick up Maria and the 3 kids to bring them back to the farm for a reunion of all of our kids and grandkids for the first time since John's cancer brought us together!

The 5 from oldest - Ruth at the right to youngest- John on the left!  It just struck me when writing my sharing on Maria - we are lucky that we can have Hallel home, even if it is only every 3 years.  We can bring her home for those days, and get hugs, and spend time - all that would not have been possible if Maria had stayed in the monastery.  We are truly counting our blessings this day and forward!  God is Good all the time!

Susan Angela Agnes - daughter #4 born on September 18, 1985
Looking at this picture taken when she was about 2 - I am thinking that she looks an awful lot like our new little granddaughter, Rose Lanoue!
Now I will do a seperate page for Hallel - this has gotten too long!


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