Tuesday, June 26, 2012


She came in Saturday for the candles for the Church. I gladly got them from the basement and carried them to the cash register along with the votive glasses. "Yes ma'am. I mixed purple and green and blue, no red. Is that okay? I haven't seen you in a long time."

"Well, he's in the car but he's not doin' well today."

"May I go see him?"

"Oh yes."

I couldn't believe what a month of chemo could do to a man. A large man. A strong man. He couldn't even grin as I came around to his side of the truck. As I approached, he simply said, "I'm sick." My emotions got the best of me. I could feel tears coming. I responded, "I know." He continued to tell me about how weak he feels all the time and how awful it has been not to be able to do anything for himself. "I can't even put my clothes on." His voice was weak. His weight loss obvious. I could tell it was about his dignity. I rubbed his arm as he talked and I just listened. I don't know how he feels. I don't understand. I do want to cry for him. I just listened.

Sometimes he shows up in his garbage truck, "the truck" he calls her and sometimes he comes by when he isn't working. He always tells about his grand babies, his trips to Chicago to family reunions or his Church. He's always smiling and laughing about something. Except the day he told us about being sick. He's scared and he's tired and he's sad that he can't take care of his family at home and at Church.

He says again, "I'm so sick. I can't take care of myself."

"Let them take care of you. Let them take care of you." It's all I can say.

The words just slip right out. They are hard for him to hear but he knows he has no choice. "Yes ma'am. I will." He gets it.

"I will keep you in my prayers." It's all I can do.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tropical Storm No Match for My Sister

As you well know from my previous post, my sister Jeanne is at Disney World with my 6 kids plus 5 nieces and 1 nephew. And as you may well know, tropical storm Debby is pouring rain down on Orlando. So I've been praying for a break for them. Man, they traveled all that way and they have to deal with the rain. You've got to be kidding. However, my sister sent me a text this morning and I quote, "That d@#$ Debby isn't stopping us. It's off to Hollywood Studios with ponchos and umbrellas. No need for sunscreen and gatorade." 7:51 a.m. I feel sorry for little Debby going up against my sister like that!

My sister-in-law sent a message to say that she talked to her girls and they were upbeat despite the weather. Aunt Jeanne was showing them a good time and they were loving the time with family. This all made me think about just exactly what the Camp Counselor was teaching our kids. Being a teacher, she's constantly teaching someone something and that is no exaggeration. But for these four days, amidst these conditions, she is teaching these kids that:

No matter what life throws your way, YOU CAN HANDLE IT. CHANGE your schedule, ADAPT to the conditions, do not let ANYTHING keep you from having a good time and do not for any reason sit around and pout about something you can do nothing about. No one said life was gonna be all SUNSHINE AND ROSES. LEARN how to HANDLE THE STORMS. PUT ON YOUR PONCHO AND KEEP MOVING. I for one, love that my kids are in this situation with her at the helm. She has some kind of amazing energy! And, like I said, I sorta feel sorry for anyone or anything that tries to stand in her way. Move along Debby, my sister's out to show my kids a good time. And my sister rocks!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Camp Cousins: No Parents Allowed

Off they go! Five of my children and two of my nieces are headed to pick up their sister (cousin) in Chattanooga and then on to Atlanta where they meet their head counselor (my sister Jeanne) and 4 more cousins. For the past several years as my brother Pat and my sister-in-law Kathy (Robert's wife) and my mom and I have ventured off to the Atlanta Merchandise Mart in July, my sister has done something fun with our children (the beginnings of Camp Cousins). Last year they planned to go to Disney World and today they are on their way. My sister is taking one of her own (from her four), my six, Robert's two and Pat's three to the Magic Kingdom. My older girls are driving one of the cars. They are all so excited! What an awesome aunt!
This reminds me of our trip to Disney Land when we were young. My dad piled all eight of us plus my grandmother into our station wagon, pulling a pop-up trailer, and headed west. What a haul! The youngest turned two half way over. Robert fell out of the pop-up one night and we freaked out the next morning when we couldn't find him. My grandmother and I got lost in Disney World and I had the time of my life not even realizing it was a big deal. Heck I had my grandmother so I figured I was fine until we found my mom and she let loose the tears. Ohhhh we were lost?! I just thought we kept riding the overhead rail thingy because she liked it so much. Or would she not ride it because she was scared of heights? or maybe that's me who is now scared of heights? or maybe this is why I am scared of heights?
Oh well, anyway, as usual, the crazy stories come from these awesome adventures when we are kids and I cannot wait to hear about all the fun! BTW, the lanyards I sent to put their passes on for the park and the hotel have St. Anthony medals attached. Don't want anyone getting lost like I apparently did with Mama Jo. God Bless their way and especially Camp Counselor Dr. Rast!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Groundhog Day - The Movie

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter Sarah!

So, I'm sitting in the Chapel this morning and I realize I should be contemplating forgiveness, lack of revenge, getting past the abuse life tends to send our way, Jezebel, an eye for an eye, but I can't help thinking about Groundhog Day. Ya see, it's early Mass and the attendees are all in the same places they were each day of last week that I went to the early Mass. I mean, same people, same places, same bat station. All I can think is that I'm on the same day, in the same place, with these people, over and over. I have a chance to make this day better or worse than yesterday. What will it be?

As I open my new book, Jesus at My Side (published by Our Sunday Visitor, available at St. Mary's Bookstore or your favorite local bookstore), and read the meditation for today, it fits more with my wandering mind than the Gospel message. Jesus' words that fell on this day are from John, "I performed one work and all of you are amazed because of it." In turn, I challenge, "Jesus tells us that one work, performed completely out of love, is worth more than any long list of tasks. If we were remembered for one thing that we did today, what would it be? What have we done or what can we do to make a difference, to impact a life? We may only have this one chance. Make this day amazing." Groundhog Day...called day after day to make a difference, whether we are in the same case scenario or not. Day after day, opportunities. One work. Can it amaze?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One vs Four Hundred Fifty

One vs four hundred and fifty. That oftentimes feels like the odds we parents have with our children. By the time they finish telling us just how many of their friends and their friend's parents think that such and such is okay so it should be okay for us too, it can feel like us against the world.

Today, good ol' Elijah takes care of the odds against himself by very simply having the One and Only God on his side. Go ahead. Knock yourselves out. All you prophets call upon Baal to light your fire. Go first. Take your time. And what happens? Nothing. No smoke, no heat, no flame. Ah, but Elijah follows instructions, believes, prays and the good Lord lights his world!

Today, the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua reminds us that he was just a regular guy. Joining some Canons of St. Augustine and hiding himself away in a convent for eight years studying scripture and praying, he was one on One. He and God. Never really alone. So when the time came that he was headed out as a missionary and ended up in Italy, joining the Franciscans and being picked by the heads of Dominican and Franciscan orders to preach during an ordination, surprise! unprepared! he was amazing. He was ready. It was he amongst hundreds and many far above him and he nailed it. Well, he and God. As a matter of fact, he was known for having to say Mass outside the church because so many people came to here him preach. He certainly gathered the lost. Well, he and God.

Today, when we may feel like it's just us against the world whether as parents or as people in business or as just plain ol' Christians, let's remember...we are never alone. Read some scripture, pray, know what your partner expects and accepts and go light the world, gather the lost, stand your ground. No matter the numbers, we will be good. Well, us and God.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Sometimes I sit in Mass and smile at the simplicity of the words. Sometimes I get this large V-8 moment. Sometimes I get both. This morning as the priest spoke on the word simplify, I envisioned the "Life is Good" t-shirt I bought 2 weeks ago with a picture of flip flops and the word "Simplify" beneath. I thought about the morning Collect, of which I had just folded down the page to remember, with the words, "may at your prompting discern what is right, and by your guidance do it." Just listen and do it. I listened as Fr. spoke of Merton's thoughts on simplifying. He reminded us that the Risen Christ dwells deep within each of us. He's there for us. Every one of us. Fr. spoke of the importance of simplifying, of taking 10 minutes each day to be still so that we can bring forth or listen to the One that dwells within us. And, I heard Him say that this is why my parents have passed on the example of daily Mass. As our family goes, we never sit still. We are constantly doing something and if we are sitting, we are planning to do something or thinking about our next move. I have made myself find time to sit and allow Him to come in but the easiest quiet time, the most precious time, the time never disrupted, is this time at daily Mass. I should have had that V-8 long ago but on we journey, not looking at the past. As we ended with, "free us, we pray, from doing evil and lead us to what is right" I thought, how much more simplified can it get. Wear the shirt if we need a reminder, but listen and do it. Spend time with the Risen Christ who dwells within and He will free us and lead us to what is right.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On the Move

What a fantastic week I had last week! I'm so glad that my parents handed down the wonderful example of going and of doing and of trying new things. I could be so content staying at home with our kids and just hanging out but it's just not in the genes. We are a people on the move.

Last week I was fortunate to go to the Religious Book Trade Exhibit in St. Charles, IL and buy for the bookstore and meet incredible authors and publishers and sign my new book for the many other book vendors and exhibitors. Signing between Hallie Lord and Mary Sperry was honor enough but then to share a meal with them as well as the president, marketing directors, editors, sales associates and other authors from Our Sunday Visitor was amazing. But, that story is for another time...

On the journey to Oz, I mean St.Charles, my husband and I stopped at The Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, IN. I've been meaning to stop for a couple of years. The two men who put the incredible Shrine together and their wives had come into the bookstore several years ago and invited me to come visit. They took pictures of our store to help them with ideas for their own store. Hey, they don't need help! The place is amazing. The gift shop is like a museum.

Frank overheard me mention at the front counter why we had come to visit and he came over and reintroduced himself, then called his partner and his wife to come and visit with us. He told us all about the beginnings of the place and started us off at the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden and Christ in front of Pilate, then sent us on our way. Wow! Everything was beautiful. From the life size figures to the meditation at each station to the music to the landscape, it was amazing. We had been told about how much clay had been brought in and how the rocks were placed so they looked natural and how the landscape was done with red rose bushes at each station to symbolize the blood of Christ and a yellow rose bush at the Ascension. We had been told about the ginormous Mary statue on the top of the hill near the church. We had been told about the artist for the figures and how he was found and how the crosses were placed. We had been told and yet, to experience the journey with Christ was beyond what words could tell. The details, the compassion and the passion, and the love was the experience. The men who took the time and the effort and the money to build such a place, and then to take hours to share with my husband and I who were just passing through, on the move. Wow!

Again, I thank God for parents who passed on the gift of trying new things and of going. What a day! What a journey! What a week!