Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Friendly Blogger Award

My good friend Loren at "Dude Where Am I" has bestowed upon me The Friendly Blogger Award. She has so many really nice things to say about me here. I have watched her writing abilities really blossom as she explores the inner working of her own mind and shares her discoveries with her readers. I am blessed to have such a soul not only as my colleague, but as my friend. Thank you!

I am passing on this award to another good friend Leticia. She is the one who inspired me to start blogging. She is gradually becoming more and more of a success as a published writer through her own hard work and determination. She stands up for what she believes in and does all she can to protect the lives of the littlest among us. Thank you!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Today we celebrated my husband’s forty-third birthday. On the schedule were the normal Saturday events. He went to my son’s baseball game and Ten’s softball game. I vacuumed the pool and went to Twelve’s softball game.

I had him take our toddler to Ten’s softball game, for the first time, while I got to sit and talk to the softball parents on Twelve’s team for the first time this season. When I stood up after two hours, I was all stiff; it was the first time I had sat that long in, like, forever.

“She was a pleasure! I don’t know what you always complain about,” my husband said about our toddler’s behavior. (Sure, I thought, she was just good because going to a game with Daddy was a novelty.)

I made dinner while he mowed the lawn. After dinner we had carrot cake and gave him his cards and presents.

We have known each other for about sixteen years now. It makes me think about the meaning of true love. When we are younger and starting out in dating, we often wonder when we’ll know when we’ve found the real thing.

I wonder if it’s something you don’t really know for sure until you are still together years down the road…

…and you see streaks of grey grow through each other’s hair…

…and you still remember what the other one looked like when you first met…

…but you wouldn’t have them be any other way…

…and you can’t imagine what life would be like without that person…

…and you look forward to those days when your hair is all silver and you can watch the sun set on your days together.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brownie Pie

This is another of my “accidental” creations. I whipped up a box of brownie mix, only to find that my 8 x 8 glass Pyrex dishes were not clean. So I poured it into a glass Pyrex pie plate. The kids thought it was really neat, and devoured it all in one sitting after baseball last night.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Small Successes: The Week of May 28, 2009


“It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that.” – Danielle Bean, Faith and Family Live

1. I “accidentally” covered my linen closet shelves with fabric and then filled it with only linens and sewing materials. All of the clutter was removed, sorted through, and put away.

2. I hosted a sleepover party for my daughter’s twelfth birthday, with a total of ten girls.

3. I finished reading “The Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux “the Little Flower”.

My Favorite Kind of Coupons

I received these in a card from my son for Mother's Day. I redeemed the one for planting flowers today.

Short Problems

On Long Island, spring brings on summer in dribs and drabs. We wake up needing a sweatshirt, only to go out and discover we need shorts. By evening we need that sweatshirt again, and as the sun goes down we might even we donning our winter coats again. Most baseball parents are on the ball with this, carrying in their car all sorts of coats and blankets.

Last week we had an unusual day during which shorts weather lasted through the evening. At my son’s baseball game, I was happy that there were some other little children playing nearby to keep my toddler busy. That meant I wouldn’t be dragged to the swings when I wanted to watch him play.

My almost-three-year-old is tall for her age and has very long hair. She is also used to playing with her older siblings. This gives her an aura of being much older. She typically gets taken as a four-year-old. Sometimes this is embarrassing, as people realize she is still in diapers, or when she misbehaves in church. Both are things we are actively working on.

The children were picking rocks out of the dirt and throwing them down a drain. This was very absorbing work. Among the children were a few five-year-olds, some four-year-olds, and one three-year-old. I knew this because it was the topic of conversation for them.

My daughter’s idea of conversation with other kids is “Hi girl”. She is good with cooperative play but doesn’t talk during it. She responds to most questions with a smile and goes on playing.

So when the kids asked her how old she was, she deflected the question with a smile as usual. The three-year-old would not let it go. “How old you are? How old you are?” she repeated, pulling on her shirt.

My daughter bent over to drop another pebble down the grate. Her diaper stuck out of the back of her shorts. The five-year-old boy saw this and exclaimed, “She still wears diapers! She must be two! She’s just a baby!”

Now all of the children stopped treating her like she was one of them. One by one, they left the area. “Where kids go?” my daughter asked, slightly forlorn.

Then she started crying. “Boo boo butt,” she sobbed. I looked and found a bug bite.

“You have a bug bite honey,” I explained, “When we get home we can put some lotion on it and make it feel better.”

“Home now,” she complained, “Car, go home.”

The pesky little bug bite continued to bother her through the evening. I am glad she didn’t make the connection between the bug bite and wearing shorts – otherwise, she would refuse to wear them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oreo the Cat: A Guest Post by Bear

My people have been watching a cat for our neighbor for several days now. Her name is Oreo. I used to really dislike this cat intensely but we have gotten used to each other now, and I guess she is okay.

When we first met, I used to bark at her all the time. When her family went away for Thanksgiving that first year before our littlest person was born, she came over here and ate my dog food. I tried to say hello and she scratched me. Then my mom got mad at her and chased her away. But her family is really nice and they have turned her into a friendly cat.

Oreo was not supposed to be living over here. The biggest girl is supposed to bring the food and water over to Oreo’s house. But she misses her family and comes over looking for company. It has taken to sleeping on a chair on my deck.

The littlest girl really loves Oreo. She chases it saying, “Kitty Cat! Come here!” Oreo seems to really like all the attention and will go to anyone for petting. When my mom tried to take this picture, she kept jumping off the chair and coming over to my mom and rubbing against her legs.

“Please Oreo, you know I like you but I’m allergic to you,” my mom said. Her eyes have been watering and she has been sneezing quite a bit lately.

I don’t really mind sharing the attention with Oreo. We get along pretty well now. I don’t like it when they follow her into the front yard though because I can’t go. Oreo can squeeze under a broken picket in our fence. When I was a puppy I was able to do this, but now I am way too big. It’s just not fair.

I wonder if she is here to stay or if she will ever go home? I hope she comes back to visit but I think I would prefer if she didn’t stay forever.

Bear Midnight Miller

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Girl’s First Shave

I gave my twelve-year-old daughter her first razor today. Hot pink, with her name written in black with a Sharpie.

I recently recalled how I had taken a razor to my leg at the age of 11 without my mother’s permission. A boy had teased me at school about having hairy legs. In retrospect, I think he was just making a joke about my stockings being too dark, but I was so mad I decided to do something about it. I wound up shaving off a good portion of the skin on my foreleg. My mom knew immediately what had happened and just said I should have asked first.

So I figured I should let her know how to do it, in case she was ready.

“You can get away with not doing this for a while,” I say, “It’s up to you. Once you do it, there’s no going back. You’ll have to do it for the rest of your life.”

She eagerly takes in my advice as I demonstrate how to shave the lower leg with the covered razor. I use the phrase “be careful” several times.

“Use a lot of soap suds, and go gently,” I warn, “and you will probably cut yourself anyway, so have band-aids nearby.”

She took a shower much earlier than usual, and came back smelling like she’d used lots of soap suds. “Did you shave?” I ask.

“Yes,” she replies, beaming.

“Can I see?”

She shows me her lower leg and I feel it.

“Wow, it’s really smooth! Did you cut yourself?”

“Just my finger when I opened the razor,” she says, showing her battle scar, “I think I’ll put a band-aid on it.”

There we go, another rite of passage safely traversed.

Some mothers get really sad when they see their daughters growing up. I don’t know why this is. God gave us children so we can bring them up “in the way they should go, and when they grow old they shall not depart from it” (as the Proverb goes). Maybe if we’ve made peace with our own childhood it makes it easier to see our own progeny go through it. Whatever it may be, I see her growing up and think it’s all good.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bathing Suit Shopping!

Bathing suit shopping gave me enough incentive to get up early and do some really heavy duty yardwork. I don’t know why I still look in the store mirror and picture myself in the same suit ten years ago. Actually, I prefer myself with my more womanly figure than how I looked when I was much thinner. I am strong and healthy. I don’t want to look like a kid.

It took several tries, but I finally found one that I felt flattered me. My daughters gave the okay, which clinched the deal. Later, my husband would also approve, so I think my choice was a good one.

Shopping with two pre-teens is a real scream. They each took a dozen different style suits (all pre-approved by me) in a few sizes each. I first directed them to the Speedo rack, where all suits were one-piece racers. Then I allowed them to try a select few styles that were two-piece but with one-piece coverage.

One of the store employees saw my girls loading up their arms with suits and asked them if they were going to try them on. I said “yes” for them, and she said, “You’re only allowed to try on five items at a time.” I said, “We are very courteous about putting things away.” She restated herself, “Okay, just remember only five items.”

The fitting rooms were not supervised, so I allowed them to take all their suits in. To make up for our disobedience, I cleaned up the mess that others had left behind. I really cannot believe the inconsideration of women who throw their clothes on the floor, sometimes inside-out. I restored dozens of items to their proper hangers and placed them on the rack outside the door. When the doors closed at 9:00, I hope the employees were happy to find at least one fitting room that was in decent order.

Memorial Day was a beautiful one. After a bike ride and all the yard work, my husband and I took off and cleaned off the pool cover and got the pool pump running. In the meantime, the kids were all happy as ducks in their kiddie pool. Once all the work was done, I put on my new suit and soaked in the sun.

After dinner, we did some more shopping. My daughter made out like a bandit for her birthday and decided to spend it all on new softball gear. I was pleased at this decision. (“For where your treasure is, there is your heart also,” it says in Matthew.) Twelve’s little ten-year-old sister tagged along to help with the decision-making.

Once we got home, everything was taken out and labeled with a Sharpie. We’re a little late getting to bed on a school night. After several days off, it almost feels like they should be home for the summer now.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Countdown: Final Days for Public Comment on New Embryo Research Guidelines

"WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2009 ( - The public comment period on new draft guidelines for taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research (ESCr) comes to an end 11:00 p.m. E.S.T. Tuesday night. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched a campaign urging pro-life Americans to voice opposition to the guidelines before the deadline passes."

Read here for details and for instructions on commenting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Birthday Sleepover

I am typing as quickly as loudly as I can, in the hopes that the six little girls who are loudly talking and giggling downstairs will get the hint that they are keeping me up, and that, nice as I am, I am not going to allow them to get into trouble.

The seventh little girl, my twelve-year-old daughter, has been asleep on the couch since 11:00 p.m. Four others left earlier in the evening. I have had ten girls as guests in my home since 12:00 noon. Add to that my own four. It has been one happening day!

We started out with lunch: potato bread, and a large variety of lunchmeats for all. I was surprised at how much soda the girls drank. We don’t drink it in our house, but I had some in the house from the First Communion.

It was in the 70’s today, perfect for the girls to hang out in the backyard for most of the hours. They played volleyball, football, softball, and basketball. They went for a walk. When they got back, I had my toddler in the kiddie pool. It was perfect timing, because they were getting hot and otherwise might have retired to the house.

The feet went first into the kiddie pool; then some splashing started. After a little of this mild play, cups of water started to be thrown, until there was a full blast good old fashioned water fight on my deck, and every girl was soaked. All the towels came down, changes of clothing were made and the drier filled, and a truce was called. The girls had cooled down and were ready for phase two of their backyard play.

For dinner I served hotdogs, green salad, and macaroni and cheese. Again, this is not my usual fare, but it was quick, easy, and inexpensive. They raved about it. “You are the best cook in the world!” they declared. And I knew they meant it!

Cake was white with white whipped frosting. All ingredients served today were double-checked to assure against the chance of contamination with any traces of peanuts. One of the girls has a peanut allergy, serious enough that she has to carry an epi-pen for the rest of her life. Walking through the food store, I got the feel of what it must be to be in her mother’s shoes. Imagine having to check the labels on every packaged product. I was going to buy bagels, but the baker could not vouch for them as being 100% free of peanuts.

After cake, they settled into the house. They got comfortable in their pajamas and picked a movie. It was a new one I had purchased for my daughter: Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time”, based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle. That ended at midnight, and the television is off now, but here I am at 1:00 in the morning still waiting for them to go to sleep.

One of the things I really cannot get used to is the cell phone usage of these girls. They are always texting, calling, and sending pictures. It makes me feel uncomfortable because I do not know whom they are contacting. Yet their parents have given them free usage of the phones, so I don’t feel like I have a say in how they use them, even in my own home.

Every time I tiptoe down the stairs, I see the light of several cell phones go under the covers. Are they using them as flashlights? I have no way of knowing.

I will be up at 8:00 to make pancakes, because some of them have to leave early. My busy typing seems to be working. The whispering is getting sparser now. Now the question is: once they have gotten to sleep, will I be able to, now that my mind has been active?

And, will I ever do this again?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The World as I See It

Slipping in and out of consciousness
The day just happens by
Familiar faces come and go
Happy voices chatter
And sibling quarrels break out
Strong arms gather me
To warm bodies
Pleasant smells drift
As the dinner bell rings
I nuzzle mother’s breast
And drink her warm milk

Poem Copyright 2006 - Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller
Picture Copyright 2006 - Joanna Stephanie Gerold-Cummings

“Those Whom You Have Given Me: 1896-1897”: Chapter Eleven of “The Story of a Soul”*

I have been reading “The Story of a Soul”, by St. Therese of Lisieux. See below for links to my previous posts on this book.

In this final chapter, Saint Therese awes me with her very high sense of charity. It is not enough for her not to be attached to the material things of this earth. If one of her sisters claims one of Therese’s ideas for her own, she forces herself not to be possessive of the products of her mind. “That thought belongs to the Holy Spirit and not to me,” she writes.

She compares herself to a little paintbrush that is used by Christ to add the small details needed to a painting that is another soul. The first time she was used in this way was at the age of fifteen, when she felt called upon to speak to an older sister in a loving way about how some of her behavior was less than desirable. Their human affection then became a truly spiritual bond.

Although she dislikes correcting others, she does not shy from this as she considers it her duty. In this way she is teaching others to be more holy. She shares with them her own faults so that they are more likely to confide in her; and yet she is strict and firm. All teachers and mothers can take her example to heart in learning to truly make a difference in their students’ lives.

I love what she has to say about prayer. She says there are many beautiful prayers in books but that is not how she prefers to pray. “I very simply tell God what I want to tell Him, without making beautiful phrases, and He always understands me…For me, prayer is an upward rising of the heart, it’s a simple glance toward heaven, it’s a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trials as much as in the midst of joys. In short, it’s something big, something great, something supernatural, that expands my heart and unites me to Jesus.”

She writes that she does feel right when saying prayers together with the others sisters, but this is how she prays alone. I have always felt this way about prayer, and feel this is the way to follow the instructions of St. Paul to “pray without ceasing”. Sometimes a prayer has no words; it is simply an open communication with God, like when you sit with a friend without speaking, just enjoying her company.

Yet when I say the “Our Father” or Nicene Creed in Church, or recite the Rosary in the company of my Pro-Life group, I feel the joy of the prayer of a community. I have often felt like I was lacking in devotion by not often saying the Rosary at home, as many of my devout Catholic friends do. Or, like St. Therese, I will only recite one decade, very slowly so that I can focus on the meaning and the meditation.

St. Therese makes me feel that my way of prayer is right. Indeed, there is no one right way of prayer. It is the product of one’s unique relationship with God, and so everyone will have his or her own unique way of praying. And yet we must not forget that united prayer in the Christian community is important as well.

She talks about how Christ covers her imperfections, both interior and exterior, with a veil. We all wear veils in public, don’t we? We wear makeup to cover our exterior imperfections; only with family do we bare our flawed skin. We don’t let all our interior flaws hang out either. But when we become comfortable with a trusted friend, we are able to let our guards down. When we show them we are not perfect, they are better able to confide in us their own challenges and anxieties. Therese found that to be true with her sisters, too.

I really had to laugh when I read about the little challenges she faced in trying to be charitable to all of her sister, especially the most annoying ones. Her descriptions brought me back to times when I sat in the pew in the church trying not to listen to someone pick their nails, click a pen, scratch their skin, or tap their heels, repeatedly. (Then I remember my own habit of twiddling my thumbs, which my husband is quick to remind me of, and sit on them to keep myself from doing it.) She would offer this up as a prayer, and when the annoyance disappeared she would actually miss it!

Therese’s little brothers were taken up to heaven, and it was a great prayer answered when she was given two priest brothers to hold up in prayer. She sets a great example for us in showing how important prayer is for other people, even at a great distance and with little personal contact. I think my ten-year-old daughter has it right when she says at Grace every night at dinner, “And please bless everyone in the whole world.”

“A soul aflame with love can’t remain inactive,” she writes in her closing pages. The prayers of the saints, ignited by love, will lift up the whole world. The perfume of this flame will attract more and more souls. And we will always know “in which direction to run” because of this holy fragrance.

*The chapter divisions differ from translation to translation. The one I am reading is translated and edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, 2006. The writings that have come down as “Manuscript C” comprise chapters 10-11 of this book.

The Society of the Little Flower web page can be found here.

For my reflections on the first nine chapters, please see my previous posts:
Manuscript A
Chapters 1-4
Chapters 5-8
Manuscript B
Chapter 9
Manuscript C
Chapter 10

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Join the Sainthood Project

Things are busier than ever here, but I still have time to pray and reflect on where my life is heading. Even busy, imperfect moms can be saints...
Do you want to be a saint?
Click here to find out about the Sainthood Project.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies

May 18th, 2009
CONTACT: Patrick Benedict


MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (May 18th, 2009) - People in more than 35 countries joined together May 1st - 3rd to pray over 60,000 Rosaries for an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons. The pro-life prayer event, titled ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES, was coordinated by the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization of Memphis, Tennessee.

"I wish I could personally thank each person who prayed the Rosary as part of the ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event," said Patrick Benedict, President of the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization. "I wish I could also thank everyone who supported the prayer event in any way, including those who encouraged others to participate. True, the goal of "one million" was not met, but over 60,000 Rosaries were registered to be prayed.

"It was particularly gratifying to learn that many young people were to pray the Rosary for the unborn babies. And, I am very encouraged that there was such widespread support for the ONE MILLION ROSARIES FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event. The Rosary was prayed in various countries, including Columbia, Canada, Portugal, Peru, South Africa, Honduras, Argentina, Sweden, France, Switzerland, U.S.A., India, England, Australia, Germany, and Poland," concluded Benedict.

The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization has already begun coordinating the 2nd annual WORLDWIDE ROSARY FOR UNBORN BABIES prayer event which is scheduled to happen October 16th - 18th, 2009(It is planned that information about this prayer event will be available in at least 12 languages). More information about this pro-life prayer event should be available at some time in June on the website Or, a person may write to the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization at P. O. Box 41257; Memphis, Tennessee 38174.

The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization encourages people to pray the Rosary at least once a week for the protection of unborn babies."

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Bunnies’ Vegetable Garden

This weekend I asked my twelve-year-old daughter to help me turn over a vegetable garden. I had planned to add more raised beds to the four small ones we created early in the spring, but decided against the expense of the wood and topsoil. I told her to make a garden with raised rows “like the one Rabbit has in Winnie-the-Pooh”. She got the idea and, without supervision, did this all on her own. In the corner you can see the small burial corner where the bunnies rest. We planted small windmill flower bulbs that will pay a quiet tribute to the gentle creatures. In the garden will be kinds of vegetables they would have loved. Let us hope the wild bunnies don’t come on over to enjoy them too much.

“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.”
Ecclesiastes 3:2

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fabric Covered Shelves: An Accidental Project

I accidentally covered my linen closet shelves with fabric this weekend. How did that happen, you might ask?

The linen closet next to my master bath was something I overlooked the first few weeks of living here. One day I turned around and said, “Wow! I have another closet!” It became a place for stashing miscellaneous items.

I have a ton of sewing materials stowed away in shoeboxes and bins in various closets around the house. I actually have stopped sewing because I could not find anything I needed for my projects. If only I could get them all together in one place! Recently I decided to empty out my extra linen closet and use it only to store linens and sewing material.

I started by completely emptying out the middle three shelves. (The top and bottom shelves contain books that I will need to find homes for another day.) I cleaned off the old wooden shelves and decided to cover them with contact paper.

Here is where the serendipitous accident occurred. I grabbed what I thought was patterned contact paper, cut it to size, and started to peel off the backing. Then I discovered that it was actually a clear contact paper, which I use to cover the children’s school workbooks.

Then I thought: how nice it would be to have a pretty paper or fabric underneath! I took out a thin gauzy material that was unsuitable for any sewing projects, cut it to size, attached it underneath with masking tape, and covered it with the clear contact paper.

The result is a pretty pattern on my shelves that are destined for storing materials. This will serve as a constant reminder that I am only to use this space for that purpose. As I go through the contents of other closets and come across more material, I have a place in which to store them.

As soon as I had covered a shelf and put it in its place, I had a pile of curtains ready to go there. My covering is not perfect either, and the paint is original to the house. I am not Martha Stewart, nor do I wish to be. These are real pictures of a real closet in a real house, belonging to a real mom with real kids. I hope I have inspired you to do something fun and different with your fabric today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Most Americans Consider Themselves Pro-Life

Finally, something good comes out of the current administration!

"Washington, DC ( -- A new Gallup poll shows that the majority of Americans self-identify as pro-life on the issue of abortion for the first time in 15 years. The Gallup survey shows the percentage of Americans saying they are pro-life at its highest point since 1995 and those saying they are "pro-choice" at its lowest.

The Gallup survey, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves pro-life and just 42 percent saying they are "pro-choice" and supporting legal abortions."

For the whole story click here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

“The Test of Faith: 1896-1897”: Chapter Ten of “The Story of a Soul”*

I have been reading “The Story of a Soul”, by St. Therese of Lisieux. (See below for links to my previous posts on this book.) Chapters 10 and 11 contain the writings from what had been known as “Manuscript C”, which was written in the form of a letter to her prioress, Sister Marie de Gonzague.

I had a great deal of difficulty reading and relating to this section. At this time, Therese was very ill and near to death. Her writing becomes very lofty and general, and goes off in tangents, so that it is difficult to follow at times. Then she comes back with specific stories that are very relatable. Part of this is because of the way she was forced to write, with many interruptions throughout the day.

She writes of hoping to arrive at sainthood by staying “little”, or simple. She believes she is about to die, and is joyful at the idea, only to find that she has more time. Then she writes at great length about the trials she has with dealing with all of the sisters she lives with.

We can all relate to what she writes about loving our sisters, complete with all of their faults. We must look for their virtues so that we can love them better. We also must never judge. When we consider how our own actions have been misinterpreted by others, we must also see that we might possibly be misjudging others. The best thing is to assume the best intentions on their part.

I once had a good friendship go terribly awry due to misinterpretations on both sides. My very best girlfriend was going to move far away and told me that it really bothered her when people got all emotional about the news. So I pretended that her move didn’t make me sad. I carried on this charade for a whole month. It was one of the hardest things I ever did! On her part, she thought that I was glad to see her go; that I disliked her and was happy to get rid of her. And I was horrified that she would think I would think that. The move was postponed; but, sadly, our friendship was never quite the same after that.

It is very funny how Therese writes of a sister whose character seems to be “very displeasing”. Therese goes out of her way to smile at this sister, trying her best to see within the depths of her soul whatever it must be that God must find pleasing there. The sister thinks that Therese has favored her and Therese lets her believe it to be so.

I was able to use this idea in a conversation I had with my daughter about her upcoming birthday. She is turning twelve next week, and we were discussing ideas about how to celebrate with her friends. “How many friends are important to you?” I asked her.

“Ten,” she said.

“Is that all the girls that are in your class?”

“No, there is one that I don’t like.”

“So you would exclude her and invite everyone else?”

“No one else likes her either. She doesn’t get along with anyone.”

“So she has no friends in the class?”

“She’s really annoying.”

“Maybe if she had a friend she wouldn’t be so annoying. She is the one that is most need of being loved.”

“But what if nobody else comes because they don’t want to hang out with her?”

“Well, that would be really wrong.”

We agreed in the end that she would include the girl in the invitations, with some reservations on my daughter’s part.

Therese ends this chapter with a discussion of true charity. We are to give without expecting anything in return. But in that sort of giving we do receive the most joy. I hope that in giving this invitation (even reluctantly) my daughter receives a special grace that she will never forget.

*The chapter divisions differ from translation to translation. The one I am reading is translated and edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, 2006. The writings that have come down as “Manuscript C” comprise chapters 10-11 of this book.

For my reflections on the first nine chapters, please see my previous posts:
Manuscript A
Chapters 1-4
Chapters 5-8
Manuscript B
Chapter 9

My Son’s First Holy Communion

What a week. My cup truly runneth over!

The sun has been waking me up early every morning, shining through the white mini-blinds on my east-facing bedroom windows. In the winter I just want to snuggle down deep under the covers and go back to sleep, but this summer-promising sun wakes me up with a kiss. I get up, make a big pot of coffee for us and our houseguests, and look for things to do.

Having spent the previous week scouring corners of my house long untouched, it is a pleasure to walk around putting away stray items left around the previous evening. I find better places for plants and other decorative items. There is always a fresh sweeping required of the floor and another load of laundry to be done.

I was also thankful that I had done my spring planting early, as the rain last week disallowed me to work outside and forced me to concentrate on the inside. I might have been tempted to re-stain the back deck if it had been sunny. I am glad I did not!

At the Communion rehearsal Friday night, I told my old fellow religion teachers that I was coming back to teach the eighth grade in the fall. They laughed, chuckled, guffawed. They were relieved to have the school year over and thought I was a little crazy to take on the eighth graders, but glad to have me back.

The Director of Religious Education told about the threats of storms on the previous weekend. They had all the children lined up to process from the parish center to the church at the 9:00 Mass. They opened the door and a torrential rain had just started. They closed the door, said the prayer, and opened it again. The rain had stopped! The rest of the day was sunny.

For our weekend as well, storms threatened through the morning, but then the sun came out. My husband dried off the newly-built tables and benches before we left for the 1:00 Mass. The ceremony was beautiful, and of course I cried when I saw my son receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time.

Taking pictures outside was a little crazy, and I lost my toddler for a few minutes. She was with relatives, but was crying at having been separated briefly from me. We finally took our places to pose with our pastor.

Half our guests were children, so I had brought a bin of baby toys from the garage and spread them throughout the living room for the younger set. The older ones quickly found their way outside onto swings. We all were charmed by a red Radio Flyer wagon loaded with little girls, being pulled by a strong young princess dressed all in pink. Meanwhile, older boys were doing creative things with sticks and pinecones they had culled from the yard.

A party truly is the company you invite. A clean house and good food just sets the stage; the people really make the day what it is. And so I have my guests to thank for a wonderful party.

Painting above: Communion of the Apostles, Fra Angelico, 1451-3

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima

I am back to my desk after a week devoted to my son's First Communion, enjoying the company of friends and family, and finishing up those science fair projects! I'll be posting on all that tomorrow.

Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima.

A Spiritual Communion with Mary

O Immaculate Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mother of God and Mediatrix of every Grace! I believe that Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is truly and substantially contained in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Him above all things and I long to receive Him into my heart. Since I cannot now receive Him sacramentally, be so good as to place Him spiritually in my soul.

O my Jesus, I embrace Thee as One Who has already come and I unite myself entirely to Thee. Never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Light as a Feather

I actually had a really nice day in the middle of the week that really turned things around for me. As you can gather from my recent posts, I have been caught up in a whirlwind of activity, wherein all my brain power seems to be focused on the “what now” and “what’s next”. From waking until midnight, I have only sat down for meals.

On Wednesday morning, I was worried about a certain problem and suddenly felt like the Holy Spirit was inspiring me with the solution to it. I was doing dishes at the time, and looking out the window I saw what looked like a diamond glistening up high in a tree. It had been raining all night, and the sun was just coming out to play, so this was probably just a group of raindrops sitting on leaf, reflecting the sunlight. No matter the scientific explanation for it (natural law is God’s law, after all), I really felt like it was a sign meant for me.

The whole rest of the day went so well and I wasn't worried about anything anymore. The kids were home early from a half day for teachers’ conferences. They finished their science fair projects, which was a big load off my mind! I looked around the house and could see order and cleanliness had been largely restored. I will never be satisfied with the level of cleanliness of my house, but have to accept that children live here, and it should not look like a museum. I started to envision where I would place fresh flowers, and realized that meant I was “almost there”.

That night we had two softball games, so the schedule was busy, but I no longer felt harried. The report said we might have thunderstorms the day of the Communion, but that no longer bothered me. I truly felt light as a feather!

Today I spent the baby’s nap time mowing the front lawn. I used to really love mowing the lawn, but my husband took over this chore after I became pregnant with our second daughter (we moved here right before the birth of our first daughter). It has been raining so much that he could not mow it last weekend, and he would not have time to do the whole four-hour chore of doing both the front and back by Saturday.

It was a new mower that I had never used before. I had a problem getting it started and called my husband. He asked if I had pressed the primer button. “The what?” He described it. “You should have told me there was a magic button!” He also said there was another rip cord for automatic propulsion. I couldn’t find it, and said I didn’t need it.

I got it started and could not believe how hard it was to push this thing! I got the first half done, taking three breaks for water and spoonfuls of yogurt. I was huffing and sweating. To turn the mower around and push it up a slight incline I had to push with all my might off the street. I used the angled cutting style my Dad had taught me, so that the grass meets the house at a 45-degree angle. I was pleased with the overall effect.

Then I found the thing I had to press for automatic propulsion and the second half went like the wind. I couldn’t believe I had put so much effort in for no reason! It really is just like the way I do most things, though. I act like the hardest way must be the best way, just because it is difficult. And it is not always so.

I thought of how my day went so much easier just after having a little talk with God. It was like the automatic propulsion on my lawn mower.

I’ll leave you with that thought. I may not be able to post much over the next several days, but as soon as possible I will have a thorough update on our Communion weekend.

God bless you and thank you for reading!

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Matthew 11:28-30 (NAB)

Bristol Palin is now Preaching Abstinence

Several weeks back, Bristol Palin did an interview with Greta Sustern of Fox News. She said then that, while she thought abstinence was a good thing to teach, it was not practical. Now that her relationship with her then-fiance is over, she is witnessing to teens that abstinence is the only way to completely prevent pregnancy. Her ex-boyfriend, on the other hand, is going around saying that contraception should be taught because abstinence is not practical.

Why the change of heart on Bristol’s part? I try to put myself in her shoes before and after the breakup. First, although their life plans have completely changed, they had made a commitment to each other to start their family with the unity of a Christian marriage. So, although they had made a mistake, they had convinced themselves that things would work out. After, regardless of who initiated the break-up, I can imagine thinking, “After all I gave up, and now it’s over. I should never have given into temptation.”

When Adam and Eve came together, their flesh became one. Teens aren’t taught that in their secular sex education courses. They are told that sex is fun, and that you can separate yourself from the actions your body is taking. Parents need to work double-time to counteract the dangerous effects of these ideas. “Theology of the Body for Teens” is now available to be taught in your parish. Do some research and see what ideas you can take from it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

An Explosion of Activity

In the dead of winter, when there is time to write, the ideas eventually start to peter out. I wonder if I will run out of things to write about. Then spring comes and – BOOM! – there is an explosion of activity, with ideas speeding around my head like a group of electrons threatening to collide, and there is no time to write!

Things have gotten worse in regards to my schedule. I am having very un-Christian thoughts about the people who decided it would be a good idea to have all the grades have their science fair on the same date this year. However, I am wishing I hadn’t gotten myself all stressed out by worrying in advance. Everything is getting done, although I am losing my cool more often than usual.

I keep having wrenches thrown in the works. Like a jury summons. In order to request an excusal, I had to write a letter explaining that I am the primary caregiver to four minors, enclosing copies of birth certificates as proof, and explaining why I could not get someone else to watch them. Just one more thing to add to the long list of things to do this week.

Things are coming together for my son’s First Communion. We got the hardest part of the banner done today. He picked out the symbols he wanted and I cut them out and glued them on. I may add some embellishments later, but the basics are done. Most of the food shopping has been done, and the order placed for heroes and salads. His hair was freshly cut and he looks adorable.

I spent the day cleaning his room. On a daily and weekly basis, this is his own responsibility, but once a year or so it becomes necessary to really get in there and do a thorough revamping. A glance behind a dresser reveals a wealth of socks, legos, and other small items that have fallen back there. All furniture must be moved, dusted, and vacuumed behind. As my husband left for work, I joked about being like the Holy Spirit who restored order to the Earth that was void.

Several hours later, my son arrived home to find all his toys sorted. Cars, legos, Lincoln logs, assorted figurines, blocks, marbles, baseball cards, and miscellaneous small items. He really does enjoy having things organized like this, but things do tend to get out of control when several creative children live in the house! (I also did this for my ten-year-old last month, while she was at a sleepover, but my almost-twelve-year-old has gotten the hang of it, and values her privacy, so I let her room be.)

Here is where you may think I am a little crazy. I spent a good part of the weekend out in the rain watching my girls try out for the summer travel softball team. Why, oh why, would you want to extend the season for several more weeks, you might ask. This is where I agree with my mother-in-law, who likes to cite a study in which people were asked to select a problem they would like to have in lieu of their own; most people chose their own problems.

I am not trying to boast here when I say my kids have athletic ability. All kids have some kind of God-given talent and it is up to us to nurture that. This travel team is professionally run by a group of soft-hearted guys who really teach the girls how to play ball, and display good sportswomanship. The girls they play with are really terrific kids, and I would love for my girls to get to bond with them before high school.

I am having a problem wrapping this up, so I’ll leave you with this helpful list.

Tips for coping in times of stress:
Don’t stress out if it’s not going to be helpful.
Remember to pray throughout the day.
Carry a pocket devotional with you – there are always periods of waiting when you can get two minutes of soul food in.
Carry nuts (if not allergic), granola bars, water, and baby wipes in the car.
Never rush in and out of the car even when in a hurry – this is when driveway accidents happen.
Close the day with prayer and time with God’s Word.

“The Creation” by Matthaeus Merian the Elder, 1625-30