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Showing posts from November, 2017

One fish...two fish...guess where this is going?

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The tiny red and white bobber disappeared under the water for a moment.

"Reel it in," I said.

My granddaughter, holding her little pink fishing pole, looked at me and started reeling.  With that, the hook got snagged. She pulled, the line snapped, and the bobber went flying our way.

I raised my hands, hoping to block potential damage to either one of us, as the line flew by and settled in the grass beside us.

We looked at each other and smiled.

"Let me see," I said.

She handed the little pink pole to me and looked up. Her big blue eyes were framed by dark eyelashes and wispy blonde bangs.

She looks so much like her mother at that age, I thought. I'm the grandmother, not the mom, right? Where'd the years go?

I studied the nylon line. We'd only lost the hook. Probably stuck in a lily pad.

I shifted my weight forward, hoping to retrieve the hook from a nearby plant. The bank was steep. And slippery.

I glanced back at my little granddaughter, sitting in the…

Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it

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Following the Leader By Debra Tomaselli

This story dates back over 20 years ago. The events told here took place just months before my dad was diagnosed with cancer.  (You can read his story here).  This story opens a new chapter of my continuing story of God's abiding presence and care.
Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it. by Debra Tomaselli
I never aspired to be a Brownie leader. 
When my daughter’s third-grade troop leader announced she was retiring, I slipped behind the curtains, hoping another mom would step forward and play the leading role.  Helen and Carol offered assistance, but nobody assumed leadership.
That’s why, when I awoke one morning, I fought the sudden urge to become the troop leader.  Where is this coming from? I thought.  I don’t want to be the leader.  I tried to suppress the idea for days, but it wouldn’t go away. 
I finally addressed Helen and Carol. “If you’re willing to help, I’ll be the leader," I said. "I don’t really want to d…

Thursday's Thoughts

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IN ALL THINGS give thanks
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Here's to a little light reading in the chemo lab...

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Most of us like having a purpose. We like to interact with others.  We like to set goals and achieve them.  At least, I do. It's a part of who I am...but lately, as I remain housebound, battling the relentless side effects of cancer treatments, I wonder...what is my purpose?

My calendar, once filled with business meetings, volunteer work and social engagements, now tells a different story. It's filled with doctor appointments, ER visits, and hospitalizations.

I never expected to face relentless health issues.

One recent day, the sad state of affairs discouraged me. What is my role? Where are the coworkers? The social engagements? The volunteer activities? What are my goals?

As I pondered these questions, an inner thought surfaced.

Being a patient is your business now...that's what's assigned to you at the moment. 

Suddenly, instead of wishing those medical appointments would disappear so I could get on with my life, I realized this is my life...and while it may not be …

Wait...did she really just say that?

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Sometimes we are surprised by what we say. Sometimes we're enlightened by what others say. Sometimes, as in this case, the words are profound.

This happened long ago. My husband and I had been married a few years. Long enough to have a little daughter. Long enough to want to expand our family. Long enough to have endured three miscarriages.

Sometimes I dealt with the miscarriages by spending time alone. I didn't need to hear that it was better to miscarry, since something was probably wrong with the fetus. I didn't need to hear that God needed another angel. I didn't need to hear someone was glad it happened early in the pregnancy.

Nothing made it right...

But I didn't slip into depression either...Other times, I accepted the love and support  of family and friends.

The miscarriages were a disappointment...a big disappointment...but my husband and I had hope. We were optimistic. We'd try again.  Maybe we'd adopt.

I'd been home from the hospital a few days aft…

Thursday's Thoughts

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Then Jesus said to his disciples,  "If anyone wishes to come after me,  he must deny himself,  and take up his cross,  and follow me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it;  but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 16: 24-25

My life hasn't returned to normal since chemo began in 2015. I'm still constricted by the debilitating side effects of the ongoing cancer treatments. Sometimes I just want to get on with my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing nothing meaningful. 
As I read this passage, I realize nothing can be further from the truth.
Maybe life isn't rolling out quite the way you expected either. Maybe you are facing unforeseen challenges. But we can find peace. 
We can surrender our will to the will of God. We can choose to carry our crosses...Joyfully. 
There, at the foot of the cross, we find meaning and peace.  
Soon I'll tell you how I read a book called The Joy of the Full Surrender and the impact it had on me.  
But, for n…

Ever wonder if prayer makes a difference?

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I was talking to my cousin Sharon yesterday about the helplessness we felt while watching the nightly news. I found myself encouraging her to pray for the perpetrators and the victims when suddenly I remembered the following story, published September, 2014. Sometimes  prayer is 'all we can do.'  Sometimes, as in this story, it appears to be enough. 


Hovering Wings by Debra Tomaselli
I knew something was amiss when I arrived home to the sound of a helicopter hovering over our neighborhood.  It hung in the air beating an ominous tune while I unloaded groceries from my car, put them away, and headed toward the computer. 
I keep the accounting journal for my husband’s business and I planned to enter a long list of invoices that afternoon.  As usual, I checked my e-mails before starting and discovered a neighbor had issued a warning:  Residents: Lock your doors and stay inside.  A gunman is loose in the area. Will keep you posted.
I shook my head, but felt strangely calm. Rather than …

Amazing grace, right?

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Does God Speak to Us?
“I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now,” I said. 
My husband, just home from work, was clinking coins from his pockets into a green ceramic dish on our dresser as we discussed my idea of taking the kids on a road trip to visit my dad. 
At the time, I didn’t realize how profound those words were.
The thought of traveling surfaced weeks earlier, but I resisted it. After all, my husband, due to work commitments, couldn’t go with us. Although I loved road trips, I hesitated to travel alone with our young children.  I felt vulnerable staying in a hotel without another adult.  What if our car broke down? What if I got lost? What if I needed help? (This was before GPS. This was before cellphones.)
My husband, also concerned about our safety, tried to talk me into waiting for a later date.
But I couldn't. By the time he could join us, the kids would be back in school.  
I knew that if I didn’t visit Dad now, it would be another year before we’d be able to…

Here's how to love

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Often we speak of love as if it were a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we 'do' love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.

(This is an excerpt from the book Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Dynamic Catholic leads us in prayer today...let's do this!

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Dynamic Catholic's Blessed Reconciliation program is now available! The prayer on page 1 (below) is so meaningful (challenging) that I had to it share with you. Wait til you see it! 
In it, I suppose every person includes even the most difficult personalities...I'm guessing unexpected changes in our plans (like my surprise hospital stay) could be considered an adventure...And I'm thinking a desire to change and grow, as mentioned in the last paragraph, requires sacrificeand commitment. 
Enough. Let's pray it. With a little perseverance, may we be blessed; able to sculpt our human nature into something beautiful, as described here:

God, our loving Father, thank you for all the ways you bless me.
Help me to be aware that every person, place, and adventure I experience is an opportunity to love you more.
Fill me with a desire to change and to grow, and give me the grace to become the-best-version-of-myself in every moment of every day.
Amen.

Thanks for praying with me. One of our gran…

Here's what this cancer patient taught me

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“Have a seat,” the receptionist said. “They’ll call you shortly.”
I surveyed the waiting room, hoping to find someone to chat with. I sat near a stately woman with silver hair, but she was reading a magazine. Across from her was a man who resembled a bulldog. He was texting. In the corner sat a brown-haired woman, staring at a home improvement show blaring from a nearby television.
Nobody connected.
Moments later, another patient arrived. He had a spring in his step and a smile on his face.
“Hello, Mr. Mike,” the receptionist said.
“Hi,” he responded. “Beautiful weather today, isn’t it?”    
Mr. Mike signed in and turned his gaze toward the waiting room. His face lit up when he spotted the bulldog man.
“It’s great to see you again,” Mr. Mike said. “How are you?”
The bulldog man broke into a smile as they shook hands. 
“Pretty good,” the bulldog man said. “But I’d be a lot better if I didn’t have to be here.”
Inwardly, I grunted in agreement.  Surely we all did.  After all, we wer…

Part VII - Looking for love that never fails? Here you go!

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It's amazing how God addressed each person's need when Dad passed away. You might recall that, as Dad battled cancer, his wife called one day asking me to come visit as soon as possible. "He's not dying or anything," she said, "I just feel like you need to be here."

Maybe you remember that the very next day, my husband just happened to be flying out on a business trip to a destination somewhat near Dad's hospital. At the end of his convention, he planned to rent a car and travel to meet me at the hospital where Dad was. 

I flew out Saturday, after making arrangements for our three school-age daughters to stay with a neighbor. Both their family and ours planned to attend our church's annual family camping retreat the following weekend, so I made plans to return Thursday night. 

Deep down, though, I knew that might change. I didn't know what I'd find once I saw Dad, who had been battling cancer, and I needed to be flexible. 

"I'm plan…

Whaaaat? HIDA scan revealed whaaat? Did you say that word surgery again????

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I woke up early, heart pounding from the nightmare. Fear washed over me. What if I really did need surgery again? Two surgeries in a matter of weeks? Not what I wanted...definitely not.
As I lay in bed, fear washed over me.  So I do what I always do in that situation...I went to weekday Mass.

Oddly enough, that day the sermon was about miraculous healings and how, when healing doesn't come, we unite our sufferings to those of Christ.  A friend of mine leans over and whispers to me, "Seems like that sermon was meant for us."  (I love the way God reminds us that we are never alone.)

As always, I receive Communion. As always, a divine exchange takes place. I entered that church clinging to my fears. I left with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. 

Later that day, my surgeon called.

After exchanging greetings, he said, "I have your test results. You have gallbladder dyskinesia. Your gallbladder is not working properly. It needs to come out."

Surprisingly,  I felt…

I can't stand it when things don't go my way...but here's a prayer that helps

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Lord, I take all you give, and I give all you take. --Mother Teresa
I heard this prayer, attributed to Mother Teresa, while watching TV Mass one evening. 
I had just, unwillingly, but wisely, declined a writing project with deadlines extending from May through September. The assignment involved research, connecting saints to acts of mercy in today’s world. I love good news stories. There are so many selfless giants right in our midst.   When asked to do the project, I quickly responded: "Yes!"  Within hours, however, I realized upcoming cancer treatments and the resulting debilitation would conflict with my ability to the meet deadlines. I wrestled with the fact that I wanted the commitment, and that the project would be enriching, but in the end, I knew I couldn't deliver. I cringed, composing my declination email. This wasn't what I wanted. I love writing. I love projects like this. Fighting tears, I pushed the send button. I was angry that I had to relinquish something…