Showing posts from March, 2018

I needed this reminder...

"Is this seat taken?"  I looked up to see Rose, a longtime member of our parish. She was pointing to the chair next to me.

A smile spread across my face.

"No," I said. "It's yours! Sit here!"

Rose smiled, eyes twinkling in delight. She placed her fish dinner on the table and moved the folding chair, which screeched unmercifully across the floor.

Then she sat down, looked at me, and spoke.

"It's good to see you," she said. 

She wasn't kidding. Heck, it was good to see her. It's been a long haul, this cancer recovery. 

Like her, I was once incredibly active in the parish...daily Mass, bible studies, prayer groups, parish council, women's retreats... 

But cancer changed all that. For over 2 years, most of my praying has been at home...much of it from under the bedcovers.  Church has come to me, in the form of friends and neighbors, fellow parishioners and bible study members. I've been connected, just in a different way.

So it was go…

Whose life is it, anyway?

Years ago, frustrated with life because it wasn’t happening the way I wanted it to, I found answers in an unexpected stop into a Good Friday ceremony at my parish.
Although it had been years since I’d attended Lenten services, I was tempted to go to church on Good Friday. Each time the idea surfaced, however, I dismissed it. After all, we planned to take the kids out for pizza and I wasn’t going to disrupt our agenda.
But that night, as we motored toward the pizzeria, I noticed the packed parking lot at our church, which was along our route, and it summoned me.
It was late. The kids were hungry. The service was well underway. But I insisted we stop.
We found space on the grass and parked the car. I slung the baby onto my hip while Joe grabbed Jenna and Lynn. Amid mild protests, we rushed across the darkened parking lot and slipped into the back door of the church.
A few empty seats remained, and we slid into them, blanketed by the reverence of the congregation. The church lights were dimm…

Is He Worthy?

Lent...soon drawing to a's a song...just a song...but it says a lot.

Is He Worthy by Andrew Peterson.

Balance Beam Wonders

"Sara, you never use your balance beam anymore," I said. "It's just been taking up space and I don't like clutter. It's time to give it away, okay?" 
Sara frowned.  It wasn't the first time we'd had this conversation. Before this, she just couldn't part with it. The beam was a present for her during her tenure as a young competitive gymnast, but she quit gymnastics and hadn't used it since she began high school. I felt it needed to go.
"Okay," she said. "I know how you feel. We can give it away, but we need to give it to another gymnast, okay? Let's find a girl who loves gymnastics like I once did."
I ran an ad for the free beam. Immediately, several callers left messages on our answering machine.
I returned the first call, eager to give it away.
They asked a few questions and wondered if it was still available. 
"Yes," I said. "Yes, you can have it."  Job done. I was happy. 
But as the conversation c…

What a beautiful prayer for the day...

Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with Your holy gifts.Let my weakness be penetrated with your strength this very day that I may fulfill all the duties of my state conscientiously, that I may do what is right and just. Let my charity be such as to offend no one, and hurt no one's feelings; so generous as to pardon sincerely any wrong done to me.
Assist me, O Holy Spirit, in all my trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs, protect me in temptations and console me in afflictions.
Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit, and pour Your light into my heart, my soul and my mind. Assist me to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace. Amen.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit, taken from An Hour With Jesus. pg. 50, Queenship Publishing.

I want to live like's an update from my new oncologist...

"I'm doing better than before, but I still don't feel right," I said. This was my first appointment with Dr. D, my new oncologist.  "It's been over two years since chemo began...and I'm still not well..." Then...the magic question..."Will I ever get better?"

(To date, there's no remission for the type of cancer I have, Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia. I went through intensive rounds of chemotherapy in 2015, and have been receiving ongoing treatments every 6 months ever since.)

"What's happening," Dr. D asked. He pulled up a chair, averted his gaze, and listened intently.

"I'm constantly debilitated," I said. "I feel like I have the flu. I'm like a cellphone that's stuck in the red zone and drops to black. And, depending on the day. I feel quite sick." I recited a litany of agonies...fatigue, intestinal uproars, dizziness, bone pain, headaches...

Suddenly, he spoke. "That's good,&qu…

What will be your first thoughts in the morning?

Years ago, I worked to deepen my relationship with God, but no matter how many prayers I recited, services I attended, volunteer works I performed, He seemed distant and untouchable.  The same routines that had formerly delivered a glimpse of His holy presence failed to create a stir.  In fact, the busier I got searching for Him, the more remote He seemed. 
Then I needed to put my life on hold to undergo minor surgery. Days later, I expected to return to normal routines, but medical complications dictated extended bed rest.  Instead, I spent the day feeling isolated, devalued and frustrated.
Finally, I picked up my copy of a book called “Divine Embrace” by Ken Gire.  I flipped to a page where the author addresses a spiritually dry period in his life, a time when he, too, was searching for a deeper relationship with God and found only stillness.  

In hindsight, he reflects, “God had indeed been silent.  But silent in the way an artist at work is silent.  He had been quietly at work in me…

What are you wishing for today? Anything like this?

(I wrote and published this story years ago, March, 2008, during the Great Recession, but it's message is timeless and still gives me reason to pause...)
It’s Lent, and gosh, I can tell.  I want a new car.
Not just any car. I want something shiny brand new, sleek and stylish. Why can’t I drive a fancy vehicle like my co-workers? Why not a stately SUV, or a graceful sedan with a youthful odometer?
Instead, I lumber into the parking lot in my bedraggled mini-van whose headlights look like bad cataracts. The paint is faded and there’s a small dent from when I backed into a mailbox years ago. Telltale containers of motor oil line pockets inside the door, as it needs oil about as often as gas.
When we first purchased the van, I was a stay-at-home mom and mini-vans were the rage. Our youngest daughter was so excited about the new vehicle that she'd play in it for hours while parked in the garage. Through the years, we used it to drive the kids' cheerleading teams, transport lacros…

Fasting is getting a bad rap. Try it! I did!

"What are you going to do for Lent?" My neighbor's question stopped me dead in my tracks. 

Not  that I didn't have an answer. I mean, I'm going to do the usual...give up sweets, give up coffee, go to confession, listen to Dynamic Catholic's daily podcast Best Lent Ever, donate to the food pantry, give to neighbors in need. I just hadn't thought about it. 

She went on. "I think we should be doing something instead of fasting."  

I bristled. Instead of fasting? She's not the first to make that comment, and it always makes me cringe.

Did she know how difficult fasting is?  Did she know that fasting isn't the 'end-all' of Lent?
Did she know Catholics are, indeed, called to 'do something' for Lent? Something in addition to fasting?  

Lent includes prayer, fasting and almsgiving (doing something for others). 

In our selfie-centered society, it seems, fasting is getting a bad rap. Maybe because fasting hits us at a very basic, very hum…