Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jason on the Via Dolorosa

As I was driving home from my Mom's tonight, I was listening to Guadalupe Radio, the new Catholic radio station in San Antonio. At 10 PM Fr. Benedict Groeschel prays the rosary. Tonight he was praying the Glorious Mysteries, and I was trying to imagine how Mary must have felt when she learned of Jesus' resurrection and ascension. It is beyond comprehension. But thinking about it reminded me of a time in Jerusalem when I felt the tiniest inkling of what she must have felt during His passion.

I was blessed to visit the Holy Land in November, 2005 with my oldest son Jason. I can't begin to describe how wonderful it was to be there, and especially to share the experience with Jason. We went with a group from his church.

Above is a picture of Jason carrying the cross on the Via Dolorosa. One of the most moving moments of our trip happened there.

We were at the back of our group, and they asked Jason if he would like to carry the cross. He said he would and went up to the front to do so. As we began moving through the packed street, I realized that I wanted to get a picture and started trying to catch up, since I was still at the back of the crowd. I was hurrying and following him, pushing my way through the crowd, when suddenly the image of Mary following Jesus as He carried the cross from the movie, The Passion of the Christ, flashed through my mind. There was a huge pressure on my heart and I began to cry, still trying to make my way to the front. I remember thinking, "What if my Jason's cross was real, what if I was following the Messiah as He carried his cross through these streets." It seemed as if I could feel a tiny part of what Mary must have felt that day following her son, and even that small part was nearly unbearable.

I caught up and was behind Jason. I called his name and he turned just as I took the picture through a blur of tears. When we reached the next Station, which was a small chapel, Jason and I were among the first to enter and had to sit on a bench at the side of the altar. The rest of the group filed in and filled the rest of the benches in the chapel. I was sobbing and Jason leaned against me and put his arm around me. I whispered to him what I had felt, and he also began to sob. The people coming in saw us crying of course, since we were right up front, and most of them also started to cry. Even now, when I remember that day, my heart aches, but I thank God for the experience. It makes me feel even closer to our Blessed Mother and her Son.

O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I like to read.

Sometimes I get lost on the blog trail. I'll be reading a blog, click on a link that looks interesting and before I know it I've looked at a dozen blogs and have forgotten all about the first one. It's a good way to lose a couple of hours, if you're not careful.

Anyway, on my web meanderings I came across a meme. I just learned about memes recently. This one looked interesting, because I love to read. You are supposed to pick up the book you're reading, turn to page 123, find the 5th sentence, then write down the next three sentences (I think that's how it went).

I'm reading two books currently: Pretend You Don't See Her by Mary Higgins Clark, and Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories by, who else, Flannery O'Connor.


Uh oh, there are only 4 lines on page 123--it's the end of the chapter. How about I just type the last three lines of the chapter.

"I thought it was time to remove them," Jimmy said gruffly.

He turned abruptly and left, so he did not see R. J. Parker's angry glance at his son, nor the way Rick Parker stared at the mural of the Bridge of Sighs, from which the painting of Heather as a young woman was now missing.

It was just as well.


She knew that Bailey would not be willing to lose any time looking at an old house, but the more she talked about it, the more she wanted to see it once again and find out if the little twin arbors were still standing.

"There was a secret panel in this house," she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, "and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found..."

"Hey!" John Wesley said, "Let's go see it!"

That's from her short story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find.

BTW, both of these books were from the thrift store and cost 99 cents each. Thrift store shopping is another thing I like to do. :o)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gina, please pray for us.

At the Easter Vigil, 2006, our youngest son and his wife became Catholic. He was confirmed, she was baptized and confirmed. They had gone through RCIA, beginning in September 2005. I always pray for my family members to convert to Catholicism, but truthfully, I expected the next converts in our family to be our daughter and her husband (he is already Catholic, so he would be a revert). :o) So I was a bit surprised, but extremely delighted, when our son and daughter-in-law made the decision to attend RCIA and become Catholic. (The Green Scapular played a role in their conversions, but that is a story for another time).

Our oldest son, who was the first of our family to convert, came to the Easter Vigil that night, and so did daughter-in-law's older sister, Gina. She and Jason sat together and witnessed the beautiful sacraments that were bestowed on their siblings that night. We all arrived a bit early that night (my husband and I were the kid's sponsors), so Gina and Jason had the opportunity to talk and get to know each other a little bit. I don't know what their conversation was like, but I know that afterwards, Gina expressed the desire to learn more about Catholicism, and to be baptized.

Gina had a bad heart all of her life, and was the recipient of a heart and lung transplant a few years earlier. At the time of her sister's baptism and confirmation, Gina was having serious problems with her health. When she said that she was interested in going through RCIA, I immediately encouraged her. She said that she would wait until she was feeling better, but she definitely wanted to do it.

During the next year, Gina's fragile body began to reject the transplanted organs. By October, she was in and out of the hospital often. At the end of that month, she was flown to a transplant hospital in Houston where it was hoped she would receive help. It was not to be, however. A day or two later, our DIL flew to Houston when her parents called to say that Gina's condition was deteriorating.

Our DIL called in tears to tell me that it didn't look as though Gina would survive. Her organs were shutting down. She went into a coma, and wasn't expected to live past that day. I told my DIL to find a priest, and to tell him what Gina had told us about wanting to be baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. Being a very new Catholic, she wasn't sure how to go about doing that. I told her to go to the nurse's station and tell them that she needed a priest, and they would call one. Thank God, she did that, and by that afternoon, a priest came to see Gina and her family.

Upon learning of Gina's desire to be Catholic, the priest baptized her and performed the last rites. Our DIL answered the questions for Gina, since she was unable to speak. And so, in her last hours, Gina was baptized, which took away all of her sins, and became Catholic. She was given such great graces at the end of her life, and we know that because of that, she is in Heaven. Thanks be to God!

The picture at the top of this post was taken just before the Easter Vigil. Gina is on the left, our DIL is on the right. Gina lived long enough to get to know her little nephew, Reece. She loved him with all her heart, and he loved her. Gina was a blessing to her loved ones, and to all who knew her.

Our DIL and her sister were extremely close, and the loss of Gina is still very painful for DIL and her family, but they have the peace of knowing that she is with our Heavenly Father in Heaven, and that she can intercede for those of us still here on earth.

I believe that God, in His wisdom, brought our youngest son and his wife into the Church sooner than we expected because He knew that it would lead to Gina's conversion, even in the last hours before her death. Because they became Catholic, Gina was saved. Even now, they do not realize the immensity and importance of what it means to be Catholic, but God used their conversion for His own purpose. I pray that in time they will understand, and that they will embrace their beautiful faith more fully.

Gina, please pray for us, especially for Josh, Cyrise and Reece. Amen

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Conversion of St. Paul

Today is the feast day of The Conversion of St. Paul. A giclee print of the image above can be purchased at .

Pope Benedict has proclaimed June 29, 2008 to June 29, 2009 as The Year of St. Paul. June 29 is the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

O glorious St. Paul, after persecuting the Church you became by God's grace its most zealous Apostle. To carry the knowledge of Jesus, our Divine Savior, to the uttermost parts of the earth you joyfully endured prison, scourgings, stonings, and shipwreck, as well as all manner of persecutions culminating in the shedding of the last drop of your blood for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Obtain for us the grace to labor strenuously to bring the faith to others and to accept any trials and tribulations that may come our way. Help us to be inspired by your Epistles and to partake of your indomitable love for Jesus, so that after we have finished our course we may join you in praising Him in heaven for all eternity. Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's For Dinner?

After 39 years of marriage, I'm tired of having to decide what to have for dinner. But we have to eat, so I still have to come up with something, right? Lately we've been eating out too much, so I've been trying to cook at home more often.

Monday we had spaghetti. I brown ground beef and garlic and add it to spaghetti sauce in a jar. My son went to the grocery store and bought fresh, hot French bread while I was making the spaghetti. Fresh fruit for dessert.

Tuesday we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn. I made the meatloaf using ground beef and ground turkey, and used oatmeal as the filler. I made homemade sauce for the top and to serve on the side with tomato sauce, brown sugar and a bit of dry mustard. My daughter-in-law made the mashed potatoes and corn.

Wednesday (tonight) we had pork roast, rice and green beans. Once again DIL made the side dishes and I cooked the roast. We use only Japanese rice (well, Japanese rice grown in California). This is our favorite rice--Kokuho Rose. We've been spoiled by living in Japan for three years.

I have no clue what to have tomorrow night, but Friday we'll have blackened talapia.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Women of Grace

My mom and I are doing the Women of Grace study, by Johnette Benkovic. This is my second time through the study, and I'm learning even more the second time around.

It's a very intense study, teaching us how to understand and live out our role as women in God's plan of salvation. It's a very Catholic study, although women of any faith would find it enlightening. We use Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the book Johnette wrote, Women of Grace, as well as a study guide. The study guide has questions for us to answer, and essays by wonderful Catholic women writers and speakers. It also has articles on the lives of some women saints, and excerpts from Church writings and the Early Church Fathers.

If you are looking for a woman's Bible study, I highly recommend this one.


Our middle child, our only girl. I cannot imagine my life without this precious, sweet creature being a part of it. Loving, creative, passionate, confident, determined, beautiful, intelligent--she is everything we could ever want our daughter to be.

Her bridal portrait was taken in 2000. She is wearing my 1969 wedding gown. I think she looks like a medieval princess waiting for her prince. She made the bouquet she is holding especially for the picture.

She is fun-loving, hard-working and so much fun. She encourages me, advises me, makes me walk with her and loves me. And I love her with all my heart. Thank you God, for Kelly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thank you God, for Reece.

I have five beautiful, wonderful, smart, funny, terrific grandchildren. *grin* The youngest of them lives in our house, along with his mommy and daddy. He is 2 1/2 years old, he speaks his own language, and has the most expressive face in the world. Much of his communicating is done through facial expressions, and wow, is he good at it. :D

He calls me "Mamama," and when he says the word he taps his cheek. It is the most delightful thing ever! It reminds me of the way deaf or mute children say "Mama" by stroking their cheek with their thumb. No one ever taught my grandson to do this, he came up with it all on his own. Isn't he brilliant? :o)

His favorite toys are cars, his favorite song is Wheels On The Bus, and his favorite breakfast is oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. He loves to be outdoors, he likes to watch kid vids on YouTube, and he thinks exploring cupboards and closets is really exciting. He loves Elmo, too.

He holds his daddy's ears when he is sleepy, he kisses anything that he likes a lot (including his cars), and when he is excited, he makes a sound with his tongue that sounds like the velociraptors in that movie with the dinosaurs, and has done that since he was tiny--just months old.

He has smiley eyes, a perfect rosy mouth and tiny pearl-like teeth, chubby cheeks and a sturdy, compact little body. He is big for his age, and I'm afraid I won't be able to swing him up into my arms much longer. He is a snuggle-bug, and I love to hold him on my lap and watch his face when he entranced by something, be it a book, video, animal or person.

He's the most enthusiastic, happy little guy. I love that he lives here, and I get to see him every day, and be a part of his life. I know that some day his parents will find a home of their own and this fantastic time in our lives will change, and that's good and right. Oh, but it's hard to imagine not having Reece here, hearing his laughter and his Reece talk, seeing his joy in every tiny new thing, holding him when he's all heavy with sleep, smelling like lavender after his bath.

So I'm not going to think about the future, but I'll just keep reveling in the present. It's been so much fun to have our home cluttered with toys again, to have a car seat in my car, to find raisins and Cheerios in the tufts of the ottoman, to play with blocks and read Dr. Seuss, and most of all to have a little boy around to love, who loves me right back. Ah, Paradise.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sad Anniversary

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. This baby in the womb is 11 weeks old. See his tiny toenail and sweet little toes? Please pray to end abortion.

If it's not one thing, it's your mother.

Okay, one of the life-changing things that happened last year was that my 81 year old mother had to leave her home where she had lived for over 45 years to come live near me.

To make a long story short, Mom has been having memory problems for several years now, and these have caused some major problems. So much so that she really needs someone to help her with her medications, money management and a few other minor details of daily living. She wants to remain independent for as long as she can, and we want that for her, too.

So we found a senior apartment complex about 15 minutes from my house. Only those "55 or better" can live there. It's been a nearly impossible adjustment for her. She misses her house, her yard, her neighbors, extended family and the city where she lived for so long. She misses being able to open her back door and let her little dog run and play outside. Now she is forced to walk him several times a day. She is terribly homesick.

It's been a big adjustment for me too. Married to a military man for nearly 39 years, my life has been one move after another. I haven't lived close to family for most of those 39 years. My husband is retired from the military, although he still works for the Army, and we are settled in one place now.

I drive to Mom's twice a day, in the morning and evening, to take her medications to her, to take her dog's food to him (she was feeding him several times a day because she would forget that she had fed him at all, and he was getting too fat), and just to spend time with her.

It's hard to see my mom losing her memory. I worry that she will forget to lock her doors, or that she will forget about a pan on the stove. We have become the double talking team of all time--she repeats the same stories over and over, asks the same question a half dozen times, and I repeat the same answers each time she asks. :o) Through prayer and the grace of God, I have learned to be very patient with her.

My sister loaned me a book someone had given her, The 36 Hour Day. It is helpful and terrifying all at the same time. Mom already does many of the things described in the book, but she has not yet reached the point of some of the people the book. She doesn't wander, she's not mean to anyone, she still takes care of her apartment, eats reasonably well, and takes showers. But I am fearful that those things are coming. It's also scary to think that these same things could (and probably will) happen to me one day.

In spite of the stress of being a "caretaker," I am enjoying having my Mom near me. We go shopping, go to lunch, take her dog for a walk. Recently we started going to a Bible study at our church, and Mom enjoys it very much. She especially enjoys doing the lessons with me at her place in the mornings. I am learning more about her as we answer the questions in our workbook. We loved having Mom here with us for the holidays, and she loved seeing our family, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We talk a lot, and we laugh a lot. And sometimes we cry.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for me has been the loss of time. Two big chunks of my day are now spent with Mom, and I can't seem to get everything done that I used to do. My house is messy, I'm always behind on laundry, shopping, cooking and errands. And I think about her all of the time. Her medical care, her social security, her bank account, her insurance, her safety, her feelings--I am constantly thinking about those kinds of things. I pray that I will get everything under control and get my life back on track soon. I suppose it just takes time.

Anyway, my prayer is that my mom will be happy here in time, and that I will always be able to do whatever I can to help her. My husband, BTW, is a saint. He has done so much to help her, from moving her belongings here from 550 miles away, to hanging drapes, hooking up her washer and dryer, painting some patched spots on her walls and ceilings that the contractors didn't finish, helping with some of her bills and dozens of other little things. He's the world's best husband. :o)

Well, I didn't mean for this post to be so long. It's really the short version, believe it or not. :o)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A New Beginning

I started this blog in August 2007, made a few posts, then my world got a little crazy and I've been extremely distracted. My life has changed a bit since then, so I'm making a new beginning.

A lot of not good things happened to our family in 2007, so I'm praying that 2008 will be a better year. Being Catholic, I know that God is in control of everything that happens to us, even in the hard times, and that we can use our suffering to draw closer to Him. I'm learning to "offer it up," and trying to find the meaning in everything that happens in our lives.

I'm the wife of a retired military man, mother of three grown children, grandmother of five fantastic grandchildren. Our youngest son, his wife and 2 year old son live with us. My 81 year old mom moved here last fall, and lives 15 minutes away in a senior apartment complex. I'm truly learning what it means to be a member of the "sandwich generation," as I help care for my grandson and my mom.

I've kept diaries and journals since I was a kid. I expect that this blog will fulfill the need I've always had to write, even if it's just for myself and no one else ever reads it.