Monday, May 13, 2019

Run To Jesus

I have been blessed to raise 8 children. These children have taught me to love and give as I never thought I could. They have brought me incredible joys, and at times, have brought me to the brink of despair. Life with my children has been a strong catalyst in strengthening my own relationship with God. Nothing brings me to my knees faster than their struggles. Nothing brings me to praise God quicker than their personal victories. They have taught me to run to Jesus in all things.

One of our sons, Peter, is profoundly Autistic. When Peter was around 7, he was still in the thick of the difficult years of parenting him. He was a very wiggly kid who still had a habit of bolting away from us. Peter needed to have constant...and I mean 24/7 kind of constant...supervision. He had the impulsiveness of a young toddler and the physical coordination of a child his age. We had keyed locks on all our windows to keep him from escaping the house...put on after he escaped out of a window when I took my eyes off of him for a literal two minutes and didn't find him until 10 minutes later halfway down the street of our neighborhood sitting on one of our neighbor's lawn mower tractors in their driveway. Life with Peter at that point in time was extremely stressful.

Every Sunday, Peter sits next to my husband, Jay, at Mass. It was a challenging hour to get through for Peter...and us! One Sunday at Mass when he was around 7, Peter slid out of the pew and...........

Click here to keep reading my blogpost over at Catholic Sistas

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"What Do Those Stones Mean To You?"

It's a really interesting stage of life we are in with our two engaged sons. I'm enjoying listening to their plans and watching the process as they start creating the details of their (not so distant) future lives as husband and wife. Besides all of the actual wedding plans, of which there are many(!), there's all the practical decisions to make, like where they will actually live.

Our son, Andrew, has been looking for an apartment that will be the first home for him and his fiance, Liz, once they are married in August. The most important features that they were searching for in an apartment was a safe location and a price that could fit into their budget. Liz was hoping for a two bedroom for a little extra room, but that was in a category of “wish list” rather than “must haves”.

They have been searching for several weeks and haven't found much that fit into their location/price criteria. They did get offered a small one bedroom, third floor apartment. Andrew wanted to take it because they hadn't found anything else, but Liz didn't really like it. The wedding isn't until August so they have some time, and together they made the decision to pass on the apartment and keep looking.

A couple more weeks passed and still nothing. Andrew tried contacting some listings he found on Craigslist, but his emails went unanswered. Jay and I were praying for Andrew and Liz to find the right place for them. Jay was praying in particular to St. Joseph. St. Joseph certainly understands trying to find shelter and the desire to care for your family! In my own prayers for the situation, the scripture line “I prepare a place for you.” John 14:2, kept popping in my head. Certainly we had some extra opportunities to practice trust!

Yesterday, I was at work and one of my parent's tenants came in to pay their rent. This particular tenant lived on the second floor of the tenement house my mom grew up in. He handed me a letter for my mom and explained that he and his wife bought a house and would be moving out by the last day of May.

I was overjoyed...and incredibly thankful! God couldn't have worked out the timing any better! Like my mom said when I told her the news, “It must have been meant to be!”. This apartment is in a safe neighborhood, in the price range they could afford, and it even has two bedrooms. Check, check, and check! Isn't is a great thing when God not only takes care of our needs but also our wants?!?

I have said many prayers of thanksgiving since this apartment became available for Andrew and Liz yesterday. I started thinking that the blessing of this apartment will be a memorial stone for both of them. Do you remember the story of the memorial stones from the Book of Joshua? God parted the Jordan so that the Israelites could pass through and He wanted them to always remember the miracle.

“When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,
“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them,
Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan,
from the very place where the priests' feet stood,
and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight..
....when your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?
Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan
were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord;
when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.
So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial for ever.”Joshua 4:1-3;6-7

There have been so many times in my life when God has “parted the Jordan” for me. In the last 26 years of marriage, Jay and I have collected our own memorial stones in our hearts. They are reminders of the times that God has interceded for us; moments when our faith and trust in God was nurtured and grew.

For Andrew and Liz, the blessing of the timing in this apartment's availability will be a memorial stone for them. When they recall the story throughout their marriage, it will be a reminder that God is faithful and will provide for their needs.

It is a beautiful beginning. 

You can find these trust rocks on Etsy!

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Art of Letting Go

When the majority of my kids were young, I couldn't imagine life without all the craziness of having littles. Our oldest 6 children were born in a 10 year span. And, when the youngest of that crew went to kindergarten, God blessed us with a bonus baby...that was followed 2 years later by a bonus, bonus baby! There were lots of years of babies and toddlers!

Parenting young children is physically exhausting because of their many needs all day and, at least with our lousy sleepers of which there were several(!), all night long.

When my older kids were young, I remember listening to other parents talk about how they couldn't wait for their kids to start school and be more independent. (To which I would cringe a little on the inside because I couldn't imagine my life without babies and little ones around!)

In a way, they were right. When my kids started getting a little more independent and could play on their own for short amounts of time so that I could get a little housework done with, (*gasp*), two hands and no child on my hip, that was a pretty amazing feeling. When you can go places without diaper bags, giant car seats, and without having to worry about nap time, that makes life easier! A little increase in our child's independence gives parents a little more freedom and it feels pretty good for the most part.

And then they become teenagers and young adults....

Continue reading over at Catholic Sistas....just click here :)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Involuntary Penances

"Involuntary Penance" by Michelle Hamel (

We have arrived at Holy Week! The end of Lent is getting very close. Just a little longer and we will be able to stop all of those voluntary penances. What do I mean by voluntary penances? Voluntary penances are all of those sacrifices we chose to make on Ash Wednesday.

Lent can be a challenging season. Have you found that this season of the liturgical year is filled with challenges and changes that were completely unexpected on a day to day basis? I don't know about you, but each Lent there appears to be "extra opportunities" that God sends our way to help us stretch and grow...whether we wanted to stretch and grow or not! I call the "extra opportunities" Involuntary Penances.

My definition of Involuntary Penances are those trials that God sends our way giving us all sorts of opportunities to work on lots of different virtues that we never had any intention of working on never realized we were going to have to work on during Lent.....

Continue reading about some of this Lent's Involuntary Penances I've experienced over at!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Sweet Sixteen

We have another daughter who has reached the Sweet Sixteen milestone! Sixteen years ago today, Jay and I held Ellen in our arms for the very first time. Ellie was an 8 lb 15.5 oz bundle of joy. Sarah was thrilled to have a baby sister and the boys all fought for a turn to hold her.

Ellie was a child filled with joy and enthusiasm. She was slow to talk, but made up for that in spades during her preschool years! She loved to go shopping with me when she was little and always asked if we could go to "just one more store" when it was time to go home.

Being Ellie isn't always easy! Having five older siblings meant that there were often lots of people bossing her around!

Ellie was our youngest child for over five years...the longest stretch we ever had between babies! We thought she would be our last, but God had other plans and made Ellie a big sister a few months after her 6th birthday. Despite all those years of being our "baby", Ellie was excited and enthusiastic to be a big sister! She has always been a "super sister" to Luke and then, two years later, to Kate as well. Ellie spent countless hours making up games and playing with both of them. Just another expression of her very generous heart.

Ellie was our Cindy Lou Who girl with her big blue eyes and very blond hair. The blond hair darkened as she got older, but those big blue eyes are still amazing and draw people in! When she was a baby, all the older ladies at the market were drawn in by those big, blueberry eyes and gave her lots of attention. (Which Ellie always loved when she was little!)

Ellie is our sports girl. She loves watching baseball with Jay and played basketball since she was 7 up until this year. In high school, Ellie joined the volleyball team and this year decided to try out softball, which she hasn't played since she was 9. She loves being part of a team and cheering people on.

As Ellie became a teenager, she lost some of her exuberant personality. She no longer tries to photo bomb lots of pictures...and I have to beg for, (or sneak), a photo nowadays! Ellie has always been a reader, and she still loves to hide out in her room getting caught up in one of the many books she is putting holds on at the library.

Ellie has done amazing in high school academically! She works really hard in school..sometimes a little too hard...and has to be reminded that a "B" wouldn't be the end of the world!

Ellie has a gentle, loving heart and is a very spiritual girl. She feels emotions very deeply, which can definitely be a challenge for her at times!   But her big heart is part of who she is, and we love that about her.

Ellie has definitely been one of our easier kids to parent through the teenage years so far...which Ellie reminds Jay and I frequently that we should be thankful for. Which we are! :)

Ellie is looking forward to getting her permit in the very near future. (Driving...shudder, of my least favorite parenting phases!) She also just got her very first real job as an ice cream scooper for the summer in anticipation for paying for car insurance towards the end of the year. Ellie is just growing and changing into an amazing young women right before our eyes. She gleefully reminded me this morning, "Only two more years until I'm an adult!"

As a mom it's definitely a little bittersweet to see the youngest of our older crew spreading her wings more and more. Despite how hard it is to see Ellie growing up, Jay and I are so grateful that God had blessed us with such a wonderful daughter!

Happy 16th Birthday, Ellie! We love you to the moon...and back!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Reluctant Yes

Who doesn't love a Solemnity during Lent??

Today the Church celebrates the Annunciation.
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 
He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High; 
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; 
and of his kingdom there will be no end"
....And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; 
let it be to me according to your word."
Luke 1:30-33,38

Mary's yes was not a "maybe", or an "I guess if you can't find anyone else...", or an "If I have to!" with a sigh and an eye roll.  She gave of herself completely...body, mind and soul. Mary's yes was a perfect yes. 

My own 'yeses' to God often sound more like a reluctant yes.

There are so many small yeses in everyday life. Take today for instance. Monday is my day off and usually I drop off the kids at school and then head to church for about 40 minutes of prayer/reading time before Mass. This week I even had breakfast with a friend planned for after Mass, followed by a couple of errands before heading home to do some cleaning and writing.

Well, Luke had a fever all day yesterday so that meant 'Plan B' for me today. My yes this morning was to hang out with my little guy and take care of him. It was a yes to movies, being together, and reminding him to rest, drink lots of water, and cough into his elbow(!). Instead of quiet and alone time, God asked me to serve Him through my youngest son.

We all have lots of opportunities to say a small yes every single day. Yes to serve by getting lunches and snacks together each morning. Yes to remaining patient when the gym uniform is missing. Yes to showing compassion to grumpy customers or coworkers. Yes to giving love through a smile for your spouse as he walks through the door amidst chaos. Yes to generosity as you drive your kids to games or practices. Yes to a bedtime story or a request for water after you've finally sat down and just want to shut off for the day. Yes to middle of the night wake up calls because of bad dreams...and climbing bunk bed ladders and squishing into a twin bed in uncomfortable positions so your child can fall back to sleep and not feel scared and alone.

All those little yeses might seem unimportant, but they aren't. They are a continual giving of ourselves. It's our way of reaffirming to God that I will serve...even when it's inconvenient, even when I'm tired, even when it's my Plan B...or C or D or Z!

And thankfully, God even gives me grace for the times that my yes sounds reluctant! God even gives me grace when my first response isn't a yes at all but then I work through whatever it is that's keeping me from being open to His will. Yes to letting God into our hearts always bears fruit.

Banner, Yes, No, Decision, Choice, Choose, Decide
We aren't the only ones struggling with the yes/no battle on a daily basis. Even the saints had to practice! Take St.Teresa of Avila, who is not only a Saint but a Doctor of the Church as well.  In Fire Within, Fr. Thomas Dubay writes, "Yet Teresa had her faults for saints are not born out of the blue. They are weighed down with the same weak human nature we all have, and they experience the same temptations. The difference is that they say a complete Yes to the healing grace God offers to everyone, whereas most of us say 'maybe', or 'somewhat' or 'wait a while...not yet.'"
(emphasis mine)

Saying yes takes practice. God gives us lots of opportunities to say yes in the little things so that we will be ready to say yes in the bigger things He needs us to do.

Where is God asking you to say "yes" to Him today?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Just Let Go

Have you ever struggled to focus on the big picture when God is trying to get your attention? I know I have.. and I'm not the only one. Even the apostles had a hard time. The feeding of the 4000 and the feeding of the 5000 were two of the amazing miracles that the apostles were witnesses to. They saw Jesus act in big ways and they still got stuck focusing on the little things. In Mark 8:14-21, Jesus is trying to teach the apostles about some deep spiritual truths. "Beware of the leaven of the pharisees"(Mark 8:15) - and all the apostles can focus on is the fact that they only have one loaf of bread between them.

I'm super excited to be a contributing author at Catholic! Click here to read the rest of my post to see my own personal example of how holding on too tightly to the details kept me from seeing the bigger picture God was trying to show me.