Monday, March 24, 2014

Here in the Tunnel

My last post said I was on vacation. That was 2 1/2 years ago!! I'd love to say that I've been soaking up the sun on a beautiful white-sand beach since then while sipping bright colored daiquiris with little umbrellas in them, but that's, of course, not reality. I've been in the same house on the same street trying to keep life from over taking my sense of self and my purpose here.

At the time of my last post, my world was becoming a dark and frantic place. When you watch a loved one slipping through the tight grip you've had on him since he was a babe, feelings of despair, frenzy, and discord are born. Control is a desperate feeling to lose. You know you are entering a dark tunnel, but you don't know how long it is or if there will be any light along the way. The world in your periphery becomes secondary and when that affects others in the family,who need you, that is a very bad situation to have.

So, life is this journey, you see, and it's never what we think it will be. But, when you take your feelings of hopelessness and you surrender them to our Lord, amazing things begin to happen. You realize the truth in "God is good, all the time" and "God can take evil and make something good of it." You start to have thoughts that help you understand that even if someone is making bad choices and you desperately want to help, the best and most important decision you can make is to give that person away. Yes, give him to Jesus, give him to the Blessed Mother, give him to the saints, and plead, beg, bargain, whatever it takes!

Along the way you notice a few things: 1) you cannot do this, you cannot make it through this time of life without the graces of God 2) so you Trust, you give it over and you find a way to believe that with your fervent prayers & sacrifices you don't just think, you 3) Know, that God has this. He has your loved ones, he knows their plan, their journey. It was never yours to control. It is theirs to walk, listen, & choose. 4) Your job is to grow with them. Your prayer life will bloom tenfold!, your chance to practice virtue when you are dying to go to vice are frequent, you draw closer to the cross, you look at Jesus & thank Him for giving you this small share of suffering so that you can unite it to His passion. 5) and last, you stay Faithful, because as I said in the beginning, you don't know how long this tunnel is, but you have found that there is alot of light along this path if you're willing to open the curtain and let it shine through!!

There have been many moments I've wanted to share on my blog, but I couldn't find the words or the motivation. I'm sure that much of what I've learned the past few years will now slowly unfold in these future posts. When I finally felt in my heart that it was time to return here, I didn't know what I would write. How do you bridge over 2 years of emptiness? As I began to type,  I let the words just flow and am quite surprised at how they spilled onto the page effortlessly. I am happy to be here. Actually, I am thrilled to be here!!

My table center-piece this lent. A reminder of our daily path.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Vacation....Come Back Later!

I'm experiencing a new appreciation for family vacations. I'm on one right now, yay!!! Last time I went away was exactly a year ago, however, it only involved myself and half of my children. We were with extended family. There were many fun times, but not much family bonding--when I say that I'm talking about my immediate family. Of course there wasn't, we weren't all there!! The kids made memories with their cousins, which is important, but it didn't do much for our nuclear family unit.

I've heard of a new thing called a "stay-cation" where the working parent(s) takes their vacation time from work, but they don't physically go away from home. They might take some day trips with the family, but mostly it involves sleeping later and catching up on household projects that one never has time to do when working. My husband did this last year when I was away with the younger kids. He took the older boys to a professional baseball game and fishing for a day in the gulf, but mostly worked on unfinished household tasks. He recently told me he needed a vacation and hadn't been on one in years. So, I'm thinking this stay-cation thing didn't quite fit the bill of relaxing and recharging a person as a real vacation does!

We have a big vacation to a famous theme park planned for September. Again, this will involve only half the kids. This will be our family's fourth trek to this magical place and while I'm excited to share that with the kids, I know that I always come home feeling exhausted and... well.... needing a vacation!

So, when this opportunity basically fell in our lap to buy a week at a beach condo in Alabama from a family we barely knew who couldn't make the trip, we felt as if it was meant to be. Not only can we all go (except our oldest who is now out of the nest), but it's extremely affordable. A nine hour drive is a cake walk to seasoned cross-country travelers as our family is.

This is a real vacation. What does that mean? It means no worries about cooking, cleaning, laundry, straightening up the house, or driving kids to activities. It means sleeping in until we naturally wake up, doing whatever we feel like on that given day even if we're at the beach but decide to go to the pool instead.

It means sneaking in a little schooling without the kids knowing. Hey, who can resist a Confederate Civil War Fort right on the penninsula where we're staying!!
It means siblings bonding and sharing friendships over found jellyfish, sandcastles, and boogie boards!
It means stalking sea birds that look interesting enough to touch!
It means dealing with a sunburn when someone distracts you when you're putting on the sunscreen!
It means taking trips we normally wouldn't have the chance to do, like going on a Dolphin Cruise!
And visiting tacky-themed souvenir shops!
It means laying on top of each other to watch TV, it's Shark Week after all, and we don't have cable at home!
The only problem is that it can't last forever!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jumping into Fall

I'm not usually an Autumn gal. It's not that I don't love the colorful foliage on the trees, the cool, crisp evenings, or hot beef stew that always ends up in my crock-pot. It's just that living in the Northeast most of my life, fall means that the endless cold winter is just around the corner and that's something I've never looked forward to!! Here in Texas, I've waited for the fall seasonal changes up until we are about to put up the Christmas tree. Then I realize it's come and practically gone and I haven't even worn a sweater yet! But not this year, no sirree!

I hate to admit that I wished the summer away..... but I did, sadly at that. I had my plans, my expectations, my to-do list, but by mid-June I knew things were not going my way. For me, it was a dreadful summer and I hate to say that because nothing bad happened. My entire nuclear family was home, just like I always want it to be. My older boys are practically adults--maybe one or two of them are by certain standards and yet I long for the days when they took direction from me, I ran the show in this house, my rules were followed to the Tee and that was just how it should be. But not now. Two came home from college in early May, one finished junior year of high school and all three of them went into sloth-mode. Okay, the oldest spent a month with an army obligation & took a summer class. He's off the hook. But the other two----Mama Mia!!

I don't want to sound like a complainer--so I won't. I didn't want to be a nag, so after 4 weeks of reminding them to put the cereal away when they ate their breakfast, (at 2 in the afternoon cause that's when they woke up) I just did it for them. The point is, I want them to feel welcome in their home and not chastised or hounded to death, but things will change next summer and they are all aware of it!!! (btw--this is not just about a little cereal being left out!)

The disruption and lack of routine upset the entire balance of our family. Bad habits were picked up by the younger three who watched the older ones laze around. I am still un-doing some damage to the littlest boy. Who wants an 8 year-old with a teenage attitude?! Not me!!

So, good-bye summer of 2010 and good riddens!! I've already started putting out my fall decorations--the scarecrows & pumpkins and my, they look good! Today my house was filled with the comforting aroma of autumn thanks to a scented candle that was burning all afternoon. I splurged and bought a huge, HUGE pot of mums which are all buds now, but will open shortly into burgundy blooms. They grace my front porch. It may still be in the 90's most days around here, but you'll be sure to find me curled up in front of the fireplace, sipping hot cider. I'll be the one wearing the sweater!!

(just a little side note: I can't wait for the boys to come back from college for a visit--it's just not home without them!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Daybook "Down the Shore"--yep, we really say that!

Outside my window:
I am sitting on the deck of the shore house, 3 stories up, the sky is clear blue with the sea breeze blowing lightly on me. It's going to be a nice beach day.

I am listening to:
Cars whizz by me on the street below and seagulls chirping in the background.

I am grateful for:
Time away from the daily grind, a change of scenery, and the chance for my younger kids to make memories at the beach with their cousins.

I am thankful for:
My family and our good health. A teen that my son knew from elementary school days passed away yesterday from cancer. He was 17. Last summer when we were visiting here in NJ at the seashore, he came to visit us with 3 of my son's other friends. It was exactly a year ago this week. He looked healthy, said he was in remission.....

I am pondering:
What a difference a year can make! Live each day to the fullest, make amends for wrong-doings, pray!!!

I am reading:
Summer vacation twaddle!! I loaded my Kindle with free books before we left. I did pay for one and I must recommend it "The Glass Castle-- a memoir" by Jeannette Walls. An amazing story of growing up in poverty and rising above--loved it!!

I am thinking:
That I miss my husband!! We've never been separated for more than a week in our 22 year marriage and I wish he could be sharing this vacation with me.

On my iPod:
Before we left for vacation, Michelle and I filled my iPod (finally) with all my favorite CDs. It's such a luxury for me to bring my tunes along wherever I go. I know--finally getting caught up to the rest of the "plugged-in" generation. Better late than never....

Toward Rhythm & Beauty:
The unstructured rhythm of vacation is a nice break. I've been able to jog or exercise on a bike most days and that feels great! Sitting in a beach chair watching the waves crash on the shoreline sure has a rhythm to it, lol! I love sitting with my feet in the water in a low chair while reading a novel, feeling the sun beating down on me--does it get any better than that? Oh--I'm getting a nice tan too!

I am hoping & praying:
For Derek's family. Please pray for them--I can't imagine their pain. I went to Derek's my space page last night. A large picture of Jesus was posted with his words "someone I would most like to meet". His quotes were from the Bible and messages of living life to the fullest. Words you don't see often on a 17 yr. old's blog. I am hoping Derek's wish has come true....

In the garden:
Mike said he'd be pruning back the palm trees this week. My flowers...I haven't seen for 10 days and I've forgotten to remind Mike to water them. Hmmmm, wonder what I'll find upon my return.

Around the house:
I've been told that it's been vacuumed & mopped. Mike's been doing minor repairs that he never has time to do. He tells me it looks great and I'm sure it does!!

From the kitchen:
We've been eating out or ordering in every day. That's been a treat! Hoping my waistline can take it!!

A picture I'm sharing:
What do you do after feeding the them, of course!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

God Speaks....Are You Listening?

I have an awareness to recognize signs, sometimes referred to as "signal graces", that can have different meanings to me. Sometimes they tell me that I'm on the right path (to holiness), sometimes they mean that things will be okay, some are an answer to a prayer, and some signify God is with me. I don't exactly remember when I first started noticing them, but I'd guess it was during my teen years when I consciously started on my faith journey to know God.

The signs I receive are a huge gift to me and have often come at times of great anxiety or despair. I know they're real--I don't believe in coincidences. Not in these matters.

I went on a "Christ Renews His Parish" women's retreat this past weekend. Actually I went as a retreatant last year. This year I had the privilege of participating on the team that presented the retreat to the women of my parish. When I returned home, one of my sons who enjoys open discussion on faith, asked me about the retreat. He wanted to know what types of activities we did and how it all went, etc. I love sharing in this way with my kids, especially when they are the ones initiating a deeper knowledge and understanding. I told him about one particular woman who was sharing about a personal Marian apparition she had experienced when he said, " how come God never shows himself on earth anymore?" I was a bit surprised by this. I know he was referring to the fact the our Blessed Mother is known to make her appearance and send messages in a very tangible way to some, but not recognizing God on earth?? I think this young man wanted to see the face of God just as people have seen the face of Mary and been delivered special messages. "Son," I said, " God shows himself here all the time. Are you not recognizing Him??"

I then went on to tell him of some powerful ways that Jesus was present during the retreat. (I might add as a side note that the evil one also made his presence known on several occasions.) One of the most powerful signs from God was received during the Reconciliation service. The ladies processed in song into the church to hear a little talk by our priest and to receive guidance on Examination of Conscious. During this time, a violent storm began to rage outside....torrential downpours, lightning, thunder, the works. Part of this activity involves an outside fire pit that the ladies walk to and then symbolically they let their sins burn away into ash. Of course this means walking outside in this horrific storm! (it also meant a mad scramble to move the fire pit into a covered area). The ladies took their time during the examination of conscious and we leaders looked out the church doors with worried expressions. And then, God appeared. As the ladies one by one walked to the confessional, the rain slowed to almost nothing and then a rainbow....a completely full rainbow..... appeared in the sky right over the area where our fire pit was. Now, if you don't see God showing himself to us in all this, then maybe you're looking in the wrong places!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My First Daybook

This is an idea I've seen on some other blogs I like to read and so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Outside my window:
Rain and alot of it!

I am listening to:
Silence....I know it won't last long on a rainy, indoor day, so I'm savoring it

I am grateful for:
My husband, it was a rough evening for me with my teen sons and I know the summer is not going to get any easier. My husband is here to hold me up, even if he doesn't have the words to say, his hugs help me know I'm not alone.

I am pondering:
A plan to have a more peaceful summer in our household

"No one heals himself by wounding another" St. Ambrose

I am Reading:
"Small Steps for Catholic Moms"--highly recommend
"Saints & Other Powerful Men in the Church"--bought this for Mike, but I'm enjoying it!

I am Thinking:
Motherhood is not for wimps!!!

On my iPod:
I'm just so happy to have my iPod back after it got stolen. I'm not even into new technology, but man, I missed fooling around with that little gadget!

Toward Rythm & Beauty:
I haven't found a consistent summer rythm yet. Swim season ended and this is the first week of no where to run to every morning. I have a feeling our rythm is going to be an ongoing challenge and I need to learn to be flexible from week to week--not the way I usually roll, so pray for me!! Toward beauty, I'm getting my haircut this afternoon!! I know I'm not suppose to focus on physical beauty, but sometimes a good hair day can make all the difference!!

I am hoping & praying:
For my teen sons, especially one, who is very lost right now.....

In the garden:
The rain is doing a world of good!! I've lost alot of my annuals all ready from the scorching Texas heat. My flowers always look so brilliant after a good rain....bring it on!

Around the House:
I'm pleased with the downstairs. It's neat & tidy and an easy pick-up now that everything is in it's place. The upstairs is my next mountain to conquer!

From the Kitchen:
I sat down yesterday and planned my July dinner menu. Immediately a calmness set in. Wow, the chore of daily meal planning weighs me down so much. I love having the plan....I need to keep up with the monthly calendars again, they're so worth my sanity!!

A picture thought I'm sharing:

These four precious children (and best of friends) recently received their First Communion. We were finally able to coordinate family schedules to celebrate together with a pool party & cake.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ballerina Girls

The girls recently performed in the production of "Awaken" with their ballet studio.

Kaitlyn started in ballet this past September and has enjoyed it alot!

Michelle didn't start until March, but with her backround in gymnastics, she surprised her teachers by becoming one of the best in her class. She has been told that she possesses alot of natural skills that will enable her to reach a very high level as a ballerina. It's nice that she has this new area to focus on in her life!