Thursday, January 31, 2013

Catholic Schools Week

I am very fortunate that my parents sent me to Catholic Schools. In turn, I too am sending my children to those very same Catholic Schools. Each year, on the day of this week that is set aside for Parent's Appreciation Day, my husband and I get some kind of thank you from our children for sending them to Catholic Schools. This year it looks like this:

We got a kick out of the fact that she finds us both "revering". My guess is that she was asked to us a vocabulary word! Her teacher should have stressed...correctly. As usual, we were touched by our child and her teacher and her school, my old school. And, this morning as I read my morning prayer from the Magnificat, I read:

Your servant has revered the Lord from his youth. (1 Kgs 18:12)
Saint John Bosco devoted a great deal of attention to the question of how the young could be formed for a good, holy Christian life. He chose love rather than severity as his tool for teaching children to treasure God's will and promise.

Thank you Catholic School teachers and administration for forming my children for a good, holy Christian life and more importantly for loving them! God truly knows (especially with me as their mother) that it takes a village.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dry Runs

I truly believe that if we pay close enough attention we can learn all the "things" we need to live this life to the fullest from those who have gone before us. Starting with the lessons we learn from Adam and Eve about listening to and obeying God and moving on to the trust of David and the commitment of the disciples, and coming more to the present lessons we learn as children from our parents and our grandparents and the examples of our siblings, we have all we need to live a life of love. The meditation in Magnificat for Monday by Fr. Jean-Nicolas Grou started me thinking about the "dry run" on this earth of our life in heaven. Speaking of giving ourselves to God and living a life of love, he says, "But what do I desire upon earth, if I do not aspire to this life of love? Is it not to such a life that I am called in heaven? This life will be my bliss: is it not the only object of my desires? And do I not wish to begin it here below?"

This weekend my freshman daughter enjoyed her first High School dance. She had arranged with a friend to get dressed at her house and have her mom drive and have me pick them up. This would obviously mean that I would not see her before the dance. Much to our surprise, my oldest daughter drove two hours Friday night to have a dry run with her sister. They worked together on hair and make-up and jewelry. They talked and laughed and planned their manicures for the next morning. It was nice to get to see my daughter so beautifully put together. Her sister even showed her how to put on her date's corsage before heading back home for a cocktail party herself. We were so grateful. (I'm not really very good at all that stuff)

As the saying goes, "Practice makes perfect." My daughter receiving help from her older sister made the actual day of her first dance so much less stressful and so much more fun. Our life on this earth, the lessons learned from those who have gone before us, can make our days so much less stressful and so much better. Our life of love for one another, can it not be our beginning for a life in eternity of so much more? May each day be our "dry one" of a better tomorrow. May our life of love, of giving ourselves more fully to God, bring us joy and happiness and lead us to the object of our desires, to that life that will be our bliss, to a life we are called to in heaven.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jesus at My Side review

Thank you Allison at Rambling Follower for these wonderful comments on my new book, Jesus at My Side: 365 Reflections on His Words

Thursday, January 17, 2013

For This Reason, I Write

If you are anything like me, occasionally you may question your job or your talent or what you believe to be your calling. Several weeks ago, a friend, who's blog I read, questioned whether or not anyone reads or gets anything out of what she writes. (I do.) I wonder that about myself, often. An artist friend looked at me one day and said, "I don't know why I even bother" referring to trying to keep up her website and promote her art. (Because she's awesome.) I completely understand and again, often wonder about those things myself. I hear other bookstore owners say, "I work and work and some days I just feel like I am driving myself crazy for no reason."  Retail is very difficult right now, but I am beginning to understand what it means to make a difference to just one person, even if we never hear about it.

Last week, I received the gift of a lifetime. Reading around different blogs and websites and questioning whether or not the sale of my book was going well and worrying about the lack of time and talent I have to do any of the kinds of promotions that other writers do, I found myself questioning this calling. Who really cares what I have to say and what makes me think that what I put out there is really what God wants? And then, I received IT! It. A Letter. A letter from a friend of a friend who received "Jesus at My Side" as a gift. And for this reason, I write...

"Julie, I have debated about writing you a letter until I read your Dec. 22 personal  reflection in your book about loving personal mail - it was a sign. I don't know if my friend has shared with you but I have been sick for 6 months with ... She sent me your book and all I can say is that it saved me. Daily I look forward to the message it brings me.  So many times I feel God is speaking directly to me whether answering a question I had on my heart, giving me hope when I needed it or bringing me much needed peace.  Your book has been to every single doctor's visit. I carry it with me everywhere I go.  I want to thank you for using your God given gifts and writing this book.  I believe I was meant to have this book during this time and as I go forward on this journey. You will never know the countless ways your book has touched me. Thank you and may God bless you."

Needless to say, I am humbled by this young girl's words. The message I want to share is that we may never know the difference we make, but if we touch one person with our words or our talents or our prayers, that is enough. One word. One picture. One prayer. One touch. One person. Enough.

(Artwork by Jean Dortch )

Thursday, January 10, 2013

As Usual...It's Right in Front of My Face

God has a way of giving us all we need if we just trust in Him, pray, listen, believe. For me, when I need an answer to something "going on" whether I realize I need the answer or not, He seems to print things out for me plain and clear. I can take this many ways but to me it's this simple, I need answers to be written out for me and put right in front of my face.
This morning, I was bemoaning the fact that I had a difficult day at work yesterday, came home to a dinner where all that was left was ham and mac and cheese when the kids ate ham, mac and cheese, broccoli and rolls and I had to clean the pots and pans. I whined and ate a bowl of cereal. Big Baby.
I am reading an awesome, awesome book by Colleen Carroll Campbell, My Sisters The Saints. Did I mention that it is awesome? Anyway, so I am still a little worked up this morning about my bad yesterday and I proceed to read this: The reference is to a "woman's maternal gift going awry" and "when this happens, the generous, selfless mother (wishful) becomes the controlling matriarch with a martyr complex whom no one can please." (And there's much more.)  "Edith (Stein) suggests two remedies for a woman who finds herself falling into this trap. The first...thoroughly objective work...sweeping...researching a term paper. Such work forces a woman to submit to laws outside herself, helps her escape her obsessive focus on herself and her own emotions, and encourages her to develop self-control, an important discipline for the spiritual life."
Well, well, well. Okay Lord. I hear You loud and clear. Ya see, I've been procrastinating working on this new book which needs quite a bit of research work and bam! I'm back to work as of today and back on track and working through my whining and well, my acting the martyr. I can see I have quite a bit of work to do and this book has given me so much to think about as far as the lives of certain Saints that I would like to read more of. 
So, as usual, He spells it out for me and puts it right in front of my face.  God is so good.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Star Light, Star Bright, First Star I See Tonight

With the New Year, I decided to use January to get organized. Ya know, just take one room at a time and un-clutter. This past Sunday, as I opened my eyes at a little after 5 a.m., I noticed directly through my middle bedroom window a faint light shining in the sky. (No do list for that room) I thought maybe it was an airplane so I stared a minute and the dot got brighter and I could see clearly that it was a star. A bright star. So, I naturally recited, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight." And so, I made a wish about organizing my life, both physically and spiritually, to better serve. Little did I realize that the star shining brightly through my window Sunday morning, the morning of the Epiphany, the morning that the Kings were led to the Newborn Baby, was going to be the entire topic of the Homily at Mass.
Ya see, Father spoke about that star. Father spoke about the importance of each of us finding that very star within ourselves that shines bright and that leads others to that same Newborn baby, Jesus Christ. Father spoke about all of us being made in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ and all of us having a purpose that when once discovered and used in the way that makes a difference, shines through so that others want to join in the journey. That star that seemed so dim at first, that I could have easily mistaken for a plane, that called me to recite a child's rhyme, is the light leading us to the King of Kings, the One who saves, the One who can make a difference both physically and spiritually, who can un-clutter all that holds us back from serving others and in turn, that holds us back from Him. He is that light that burns in each one of us and when we discover Him, when we follow Him, we in turn can be a light for others.

Friday, January 4, 2013

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

As three of my girls and I were making our trek through Kentucky, West Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio this summer, we happened upon this little treasure in the mountains of Emmitsburg, Maryland. We were going to the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, awesome, and my daughter said she'd like to stop in at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Wow! What a wonderful visit! And, this image of Our Lady giving the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure is beautiful. Later, as we walked through the Grotto, we read a sign about how often St. Elizabeth Ann Seton visited the Grotto and brought her sisters to visit and to eat their dinner and pray before going down to the church for Mass. It was wonderful for us to walk her grounds and then to walk the paths in the mountains where she frequented with her sisters. This morning at Mass I was reminded of the entire experience as I read in the Magnificat, " St. Elizabeth Ann Seton' path took many unexpected turnings because she followed God's will rather than her own.  What matters most is that the path God chose took her to Him.  In her obedience lay the source of the wisdom with which she taught others to follow in God's ways." This summer, I felt her presence in the places she had been and we were definitely led in so many ways to Him. Unexpected turnings. As this year possibly brings about more unexpected turnings, may we all be led down the paths that take us closer to Him.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Retail Worker's after Christmas Dream and more

I know that the Christmas Season is not quite over but today I have sent the 3 youngest back to school and I am home, with a self-sufficient son and a new puppy, catching up on my life and ready to start a New Year! When ya work retail, ya truly appreciate a day just to pick up the house, do laundry, bake a birthday cake (my youngest is 11 years old today...Happy Birthday Jules!) and write...alone. I received a new book contract right before Christmas Day and I am soooo excited but that also means that it is time to work...alone. I know that Ash Wednesday is just around the corner and I know that means Confirmations and Communions and new Catholics coming into the Church (awesome), along with fasting and penance and preparations. We are displaying Lenten materials as quickly as we can put away Christmas items, waiting for the Kings to arrive first, of course. It's a whirlwind in retail and I can see in the exhausted faces of workers from other stores, those that stay open many more hours than our store, that it's not just workers in the Christian industry who long for a day...alone. But, I have to say, the Season has been and is wonderful. The customers and the families and the waiting and the birth and the celebrating and the gift giving and receiving are all a part of truly the "most wonderful time of the year". But for today, this retail worker's after Christmas dream is just a little peace and quiet and time...alone.