Saturday, April 22, 2017

Help me, teach me, invite me

And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to carry his cross. Mark 15:21

Simon of Cyrene, help me
to come to the aid of others,
to overcome my reluctance when
 it seems too inconvenient;
when I think I'm too busy
or too afraid, or too shy, 
or it just seems so awkward.

Help me when
I think I am better than the stranger,
the accused, the shunned;
when I think that they don't deserve my help.

Help me to overcome 
my own exhaustion,
my laziness,
my feelings of inadequacy,
and uncertainty.

Help me to put aside my own interests,
my prejudices and pride.

Help me so that 
I can step up to the task, 
without having to be dragged in.

Help me, dear reluctant saint,
to carry my own cross,
my own brokeness,
so that I may help carry others.

Dear Saint of Cyrene, pray for me.

"Now, while Simon labours under the cross with Jesus, ... someone - a woman - forces her way through the rabble, even through the guard of Roman soldiers surrounding Him, and comes face to face with Christ. She is driven by compassion." The Way of the Cross, Caryll Houslander

Good saint of the veil,
teach me your compassion for the suffering,
especially when their appearance, all bruised and beaten,
repulses me.

Teach me to recognize the splendor
and the majesty of Christ
hidden there in their weakness,
in their humility and in their shame. 

Good saint of the veil,
teach me your courage in the midst of chaos,
your readiness to serve, to comfort and to console
to wipe away the grime, the filth, the tears
in all circumstances,
but especially when it is not easy.

Teach me to look with eyes of mercy
upon the faces of the suffering
and see Christ hidden there.

Dear Saint Veronica, pray for me.

"Christ goes on His way; no word is spoken now; Mary follows Him in the crowd. ... Mary remains silent, she does not lift a hand; only when He is suffering no more will she anoint His body. She simply accepts this supreme gift of His love, His suffering given to her. It is a complete communion with Him. They are as completely one now as they were when He was the child in her womb, and her heart was the beating of His heart." The Way of the Cross, Caryll Houselander.

 Dearest Mother Mary,
Your acceptance, your yes,
let it be my own.

Invite me to walk the way with you.
He is the Way, the Truth, the Life!
Invite me to see with your soul
the good in that awful Friday.

 Invite me there, beneath the Cross,
 to see the good that comes from suffering,
His and our own united to His.

Invite me to become one with Him
as you and He are one.
Invite me into your deep and abiding
trust and unwavering hope.

When tempests
arise and I'm tossed about,
remind me that He is always there,
in the midst of the storm;
that I am never alone.

Invite me there at the foot of the cross,
to hold Him in my arms
as you cradle Him, lifeless, in your own,
knowing that Sunday comes.

Invite me there to the empty tomb,
to share your peace
and your love,
and to experience your joy
at the Resurrection.

And the Life to come.

Dear Blessed Virgin, my Mother, my Queen, pray for me.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Love is Patient, but am I?

In the final chapter of his book, Heaven Starts Now: Becoming a Saint Day by Day, Fr. John Riccardo instructs us to take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and wherever the word love appears, he suggests we substitute our own name. He writes, " ... this can help us to see if these statements apply to us, and what it is that needs the most work in us."

This could be a very valuable and useful exercise as part of our nightly examen or as an examination of conscience before going to confession.

So, go ahead, insert your name wherever the word love appears in the verses below (and your corresponding prounoun in place of "it"). 

Pretty powerful, no?

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Here Where I Live and Love :: I'm Back!

After a very long hiatus, I've returned to my blog. I'm dusting it off, giving it a new look and I'm hoping that I will persevere and continue to write more generously. With God's grace I will!  And so, just to get back in the saddle, I'm starting out simply, with the concise little snippets that the daybook provides. Now that I seem to be recovering from a severe and extended case of writer's block, I pray that I will continue to be inspired and motivated to share my thoughts with you here, dear readers. 

Outside My Window ::
We're 10 days into the official start of Spring and there are signs of it everywhere. Buds on trees and my grape hyacinths are in full bloom. Daffodils have been out for a while as are many other flowering trees and shrubs. On my daily walks I've noticed the cheerful, little faces of pansies adorning the gardens of many of my neighbors. I have not planted any. 
Today is cloudy and rather chilly, not unusual for March in Virginia. There's the promise of rain tomorrow - not only from the meterologist - but I feel it in the air.
This Old House ::
Jim and I have completed our plans for a remodel of the bathroom adjoining our master bedroom. The master bath or en suite as they say. It seems a daunting task, however it needs to be done if we ever wish to sell this place one day. Which we will want to do after Jim retires. Not very soon, yet soon enough, especially considering how long it takes us to complete a project. And then there's the kitchen and the floors and, well whatever else figures in to carrying us out of the 1980's design-wise. It never seems to end.
We did re-do the powder room, quite successfully, if I do say so myself! A small, but needed uplift to a very manageable-to-update room. And we converted Kevin's former bedroom into a home office. That project is still on-going, although it's mostly complete. All the difficult things are done - built-in shelves and cabinet that Jim built and the hardwood floor that he installed. 
I'm always struck by how crooked the walls are in this house.  
From the Kitchen ::
Jim and I continue to try to eat as healthy as possible. I have recently added a little more red wine - one glass at dinner most nights - a little dark chocolate and a teaspoon of pure cocoa sprinkled in my morning coffee. Half way through Lent I decided to give up bacon and processed sausage. I'm eating less cheese only because my doctor says my LDL cholesterol is inching up toward the borderline level and I'm curious to see if it makes a difference along with abstaining from the bacon and sausage. I am waiting for a (used) copy of The Great Cholesterol Myth Cookbook to arrive from Amazon. I've read a bit about it (the myth) and I am intrigued. My copy of Nourishing Traditions includes an interesting discussion of cholesterol as well. I'm just amazed at the advice of some healthcare professionals "out there" to still eat margarine instead of butter, and who make no mention of the benefits of consuming grassfed beef and the dairy that comes from it as opposed to conventionally raised beef. 
I'm not the best fish eater. I like some fish very much, but not all and I don't always know the best way to prepare it. However, I'm also adding more of it to our weekly meals. Trying to have it at least twice a week. You know, omega 3's and all that good stuff.
We are looking forward to the opening of our local farmer's market and to getting the vegetable garden growing again. Should I buy a quarter of a cow? Jim says no!
I am Reading ::
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy  -- I'm about 170 pages in. I love Percy's writing and Love in the Ruins unsurprisingly has some really excellent passages. Like this one:
The sand trap and the clouds put me in mind of being ten years old and in love and full of longing. The first thing a man remembers is longing and the last thing he is conscious of before death is exactly the same longing. I have never seen a man die who did not die in longing. When I was ten years old I woke one summer morning to the sensation of longing. Besides the longing I was in love with a girl named Louise, and so the same morning I went out to this same sand trap where I hoped chance would bring us together. At the breakfast table, I took a look at my father with his round head, his iron-colored hair, his chipper red cheeks, and I wondered to myself: at what age does a man get over this longing?
 Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love by Edward Sri
I am reading this for the book club I moderate. I've only completed about 35 pages or so. Thus far Sri has presented the problem of relativism and the methods by which many of us fall into it. I like and appreciate the questions at the end of each chapter. They make the preparation for book club meetings much easier! I'm looking forward to reading more and to the ensuing discussion with my book club friends.
The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander. I haven't read it yet as I'm saving it for Holy Week. I have to say that Houselander is one of my all time favorite Catholic writers. Her words move me like few others do. 
I am Hoping and Praying ::
For a very, very special intention that I am not at liberty to mention right now.
I am Grateful ::
For St. Joseph's intercession concerning Jim's employment. Thanks be to God that he is able to continue to work for the same company. We're looking forward to good years ahead.
Our Father's Promise (Am I listening?) ::

Jesus said to the Jews:
"If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.

But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

"I do not accept human praise;

moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me
because he wrote about me. 
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"
John 5:31-47 

Words to Ponder ::
"Getting older, he reflected, was about letting go: our youth, looks, athletic prowess, jobs, parents, other loved ones, various abilities, and eventually our independence. We let go so that we can turn to God's grace to know how much we are loved and look to Him as the destination of our journey. " - Fr. Mark O'Keefe, St. Meinard Archabbey Seminary, Indiana. (Excerpt from Retirement: An invitation for something more by Carolyn Woo)
More about this later ...
Picture Thoughts ::
We lost our dear dachshund Holly over a year ago to complications from intervertebral disc disease. At the very end of August we welcomed two of the sweetest, goofiest, cutest little canine beasts into our hearts and home. May I introduce Teddy and Roscoe, the Havanese half-brothers!

But the best news of all is that in 2016 we also welcomed two of the most adorable little grandsons who are loved beyond all measure.
Killian Jacob Coffman

Henry Jean-Marie Phillips

Our family is growing!
So sweet! So blessed!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blizzard 2016 Photo Dump

As I dozed off to sleep last night it had been snowing nonstop at my house for approximately 34 hours. The wind was still kicking up at times, but clearly the big blizzard of 2016 was winding down. I ventured out of bed around 3 a.m., peeked out the window and was struck by the stillness and the luminescence of a full moon casting shadows upon the indulations of snow blanketing my backyard. It was so bright! And beautiful.

As typically follows a huge weather system, today dawned, crisp, clean and cold. The sun was shining! With anywhere from two to three feet of snow in our neighborhood, a driveway to shovel, and a street not plowed, there was no way we were venturing out. And probably won't be leaving the house anytime soon. Jim and I attended 8:00 a.m. Mass in our family room via the live feed from EWTN. Our bishop granted the faithful of our diocese a dispensation from our obligation to attend Mass, but asked that we do our best to keep the sabbath holy. Perhaps the digging out could be offered up as well! And that cabin fever, too?

I love snowstorms - particularly when I don't have to travel anywhere. I do not like driving in dicey weather conditions. I certainly have had my fair share of nerve wracking snow related driving experiences. They are not fun -- especially in the DC metro area. So mostly, I try to stay put before the snow flies.

And I love snow photography. There are many great photographs circulating the internet right now; on Facebook, Instagram, and being shared on print and television news outlets. Here are mine. I share them here for anyone who is willing to endure more snow pictures, but mostly for my Mom, as I know she enjoys my photos more than anyone. (Thanks, Ma!)

The birds were very busy at the feeder throughout the storm.
A junco

A mourning dove hunkering down

Holly put up with the snow.

The snow piled up on the porch roof in front of the upstairs windows. I love how some of it stuck to the glass.

Still snowing at 10:00 p.m.

And then, a new day dawns ...

And the great dig-out begins ...

Monday, November 30, 2015

Daybook for Advent :: Week One

Outside my window :: There appears a stark, grey, dreary wonderland of cold drizzle which makes inside all the more cozy and warm.

I am wearing :: a seal upon my heart. And grey sweats. And well-worn slippers.

I am listening :: to The Piano Guys holiday station on Pandora

This old house :: We have a brand new basement floor! It's a grey laminate that I chose from Lumber Liquidators - Delaware Bay Driftwood. But now the room begs for a comfy conversation area with a small sofa and a few chairs pulled together by a sweet little area rug, a couple of cozy lamps and pictures on the wall. All in good time, I suppose. After all, it took roughly 20 years for Jim to finish the room! :)

From the kitchen :: There is homemade turkey soup bubbling away on the stove. (Duh! Of course there is. It's four days past Thanksgiving!) It's steaming up the windows and filling the house with it's scrumptious aroma. Perfect weather for it, too!

I am hearing :: The washing machine churning away the sweat of hard work and the grime of the week gone by, but, no, not the memories of sweet, gooey grandbaby kisses, and the warmth of family and friends gathered in gratitude for all our many blessings. And some really good food!

I am hoping and praying :: That I am able to give my heart and soul, freely, in total abandon, to Jesus this season of Advent, so that when Christmas comes I'll find Him swaddled there.

I am grateful :: For really, really good friends.

Our Father's promise :: from Isaiah
Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths. 

Words to ponder :: Today is the Feast of St. Andrew and so from today's Office of Readings:

From a homily on the Gospel of John by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

We have found the Messiah
After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother. Notice what Andrew said to him: We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ. Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. They reveal the zeal and concern of men preoccupied with this question from the very beginning. Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.
Notice, too, how, even from the beginning, Peter is docile and receptive in spirit. He hastens to Jesus without delay. He brought him to Jesus, says the evangelist. But Peter must not be condemned for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word without much weighing of it. It is probable that his brother had given him, and many others, a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, regularly summarize a lengthy narrative. Saint John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that he brought him to Jesus. Andrew was to hand him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself. There was also another disciple present, and he hastened with them for the same purpose.
When John the Baptist said: This is the Lamb, and he baptizes in the Spirit, he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ. All the more so would Andrew act in the same way, since he did not think himself able to give a complete explanation. He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.
Picture words ::
Realizing there's some catching up to do, here are just a few pictures from Megan and Jake's North Carolina April wedding. 
All photos are courtesy of Kate Mary Photography

Friday, November 20, 2015

One Christ Loving Himself

An event that my husband and I have squarely locked in our sights is our retirement. Jim turned 60 this year so the light of this new stage of our lives continues to shine a bit brighter with each passing year. We certainly hope that it will become a reality in the next five, six or maybe seven years tops. We are mindful about saving and making investments for a future free from financial worry. Additionally, it seems we are always searching for new places to settle in our golden years away from the rat race of the Washington DC suburbs. We often dream of a quaint cottage near the ocean or in the mountains or, my husband's preference, situated on a glistening lake, yet definitely not too far from our children and grandchildren. We plan, we save, we dream. But does all the effort we put into ensuring that our material needs will be met in our old age, all of the careful planning, the scrimping and the saving and even the dreaming of lakeside living distract from focusing on our ultimate goal?

Our retirement shouldn't be an end in and of itself, our final reward for a life of hardwork and dedication. Certainly it will be a well-deserved and very much appreciated stage in our lives. And it is prudent to do what we can now to take care of our future material needs. However, if we're not careful our focus can become so narrow that we lose sight of our heavenly home and perhaps miss opportunities for growth here and now. We end up not being able to see the forest for the trees. For example, sometimes I catch myself growing super excited, like a kid who can't wait for Christmas, as I peruse the online real estate listings in rural areas and as I blissfully daydream about what life will be like down the road. 

But am I so caught up in planning my worldly future that I fail to appreciate what God is doing in my life right now and how he's preparing me for a future with Him? Sometimes I am so easily distracted from what's most important.

I'm sure the longing in our hearts to escape the bustle and busyness of our work-a-day lives reflects our true desire for our heavenly home. And no matter how much we plan for our earthly future, we won't be truly satisfied until we rest there eternally. Which is why it is important, here and now and every day, to take notice of God's presence in our lives and to consider what is necessary to ensure we are welcomed into Paradise. My efforts to grow in holiness should never cease, now or tomorrow or every day for the rest of my life.

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, our readings at Mass are a stark reminder of the inevitability of the end times, if not for all mankind, then most certainly of our own. We don't know the day or the hour, but must remain viligant and ever ready. "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32)

Who knows if I'll even make it to retirement? I may not. I hope Jim and I are given that time together, but there's no guarantee for either one of us. Assuming that we do make it, I anticipate many challenges ahead, but I hope and pray that they will simply be opportunities for sanctification and will provide what is truly necessary for my final journey. And I pray that I willingly respond to the grace to do whatever I do, today, tomorrow, next week, or ten years from now always with great love. Throughout the centuries great saints have taught us that love is the key to holiness - our union with God. Saint Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Mother Teresa, and Venerable Solanus Casey just to name a few. They tell us to do everything, even the most miniscule thing, with great love.

But it's not the sort of syrupy, overly sentimental love that is often portrayed on the Hallmark Channel. It is an intense, life altering, supernatural love. It is the love that we can only receive from God.

When a pharisee in Matthew's gospel asks Jesus which commandment is the greatest. Jesus says to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. And then he says something very striking, The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.  Without love nothing else matters. Nothing even makes sense. 

Saint Paul explains it to the Corinthians:
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
How do we acquire this love; how do we, weak as we are, love God?

Dom Eugene Boylan, OCSO writes in his magnificent book, This Tremendous Lover

For the love by which we love God is given to us by God himself. It is in fact a special effect produced in us by the presence in our souls of the Holy Spirit, who is the subsistent love of God for Himself. As a great disciple of St. Bernard, William of St. Thierry, puts it: "Thou lovest Thyself in us, when Thou sendest the Spirit of Thy Son into our hearts. ... Thou dost make us love Thee; or rather it is thus that Thou lovest Thyself in us. ... We love Thee beause we receive from Thee Thy Spirit. ... Who transforms us ... in perfect conformity with Thy love. This produces so great an attachment and union that ... our Lord, Thy Son, called it unity, saying: That they may be one in us ... as I and Thou are one. We love Thee, or Thou lovest Thyself in us; we by our affections, Thou by Thy power. And Thou dost make us one by Thy unity, that is by Thy Holy Spirit, whom Thou hast given to us." (Deo contemplando Deo) 
Boylan continues, as one modern commentator summing up the doctrine of William of St. Thierry, puts it: "We love God through God, and all supernatural love constitutes, so to speak, on God loving Himself in Jesus Christ." ... We in our self-sufficiency try to love Him with our own strength and with our own heart. He wants a love like to His own; and He offers us Himself so that we may use His love to love Him. His prayer to the Father is: That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26) Thus the Two Persons of the Blessed Trinity are in our souls to help us to live and to love."

The season of Advent is nearly a week away. It is the time we prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of Christ. John the Baptist exhorts, He must increase; I must decrease. No matter our state in life, we must stop being so full of ourselves and all that separates us from our Lord. We need to empty ourselves and allow Him in, to allow His heart to replace our own, so that He can love Himself in us! And that is how we are capable of loving our neighbor.

Boylan writes, 
We hurry from one thing to another; we exhaust our ingenuity in divising new amusements to capture our jaded fancy; we plunge deeper and deeper into the mire of self-satisfaction; and we're further away from peace than ever. For our hearts are made for God, and they cannot rest till they rest in Him. ... He pursues us and He uses His providence to draw us away from all else, and to draw all else away from us, so that we may be driven to listen to His voice, and cast ourselves upon His heart.

And finally, I hope to keep these wise words of Boylan's close by to re-read and contemplate every now and again, as a reminder of where I ultimately need to set my sights:

If we would but be convinced that there is but one answer to the riddle of life and if we would accept our vocation to divine union as the sole end of our life, then immediately everything falls into perfect harmony; the whole scheme of things down to every detail of our lives acquires a new meaning, for all things have been accepted by the will of our Redeemer and made to co-operate in leading us to union with God. All things work together for good to those who love God, for it is His purpose and plan to re-establish all things in Christ. ... We must realize that God is our tremendous lover, that He is our all and that He has done all our works for us. ...We have to accept the self, and the surroundings, and the story, that God's providence arranges for us. In humility we must accept our self - just as we are; in charity, we must accept and love our neighbor just as he is; in abandonment, we must accept God's will just as things happen to us and just as He would have us act. Faithful compliance with His will and humble acceptance of His arrangements will bring us to full union with Christ. For the rest, let us gladly glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in us. In our weakness and in our love we shall thus become one with Him, and there shall be one Christ loving Himself.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Meditation for Good Friday

The mob closes in, seething, 
with fists raised and clenched 
around their signs,
and placards 
choosing Barabbas,
even now, this day!
With lips curled, they scorn and roar 
like lions starving.

O Lord, our Strength, do not forsake Your own.
Grant us fortitude and humility,
to walk alongside You
amid insults, mockery and spitting.

O Lord, our Strength, give us the grace
to carry our cross in Your Holy footsteps;
to mingle our tears with Your own;
to uncurl our own fists there
with You on the Tree of Life.

Crown us O Lord, our Strength, 
with the Joy and Peace of knowing that 
the Victory is ours!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Therefore Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Jim's prostatectomy is in five days. As his surgery day approaches, I've been a little bit resentful that he was called away on a business trip this week. I've just wanted to be near him, to feel his strength beside me in the evening. To awake in the dark of night to listen to him sleeping and to wonder what his dreams are made of. He arrives home this evening, thank God. 

We're not concerned, he nor I, about the spread of the cancer or of it making an ignominious, wretched comeback once the prostate is removed. We are grateful, very, very much so, that this cancer is one that can be and is mostly entirely beaten, particularly at this early stage. The odds are that something else will do Jim in, in the end, but not this dreaded disease. And that is good! A reason to rejoice, indeed!

And so, we shouldn't worry about anything. We shouldn't, but we do a little bit. We wonder about the post-surgery "what-ifs." There are, after all, potential side effects that could be long term. Admittedly, the concern these days is somewhat less than when procedures and surgeries were not as precise as they are now. And Jim's overall health and relatively young age are both in his favor. "Besides," the urologist reassures, "if you do have any problems with intimacy, there are medications that will help." We have all seen the advertisements for them on television. So, not to worry, right? 

Yes, that is the goal. 

But all this has made me think deeply about our 30 years together as husband and wife and how throughout the years we may have taken our most intimate moments for granted. And how, now, I wish that I had back those moments when I had refused him for whatever reason, thinking that well, there's always tomorrow. Another day when I'm less tired, more amorous, less preoccupied. And now, I'm appreciating more fully (than I ever thought possible) just how poignant and beautiful those intimate moments were and are. The two truly becoming one every single time.

This experience is also forcing me to face yet another new chapter. And I really don't know why I am having so much difficulty turning the page! Sometimes, I just want to stop time from advancing so damn fast. Stop it - dead in it's tracks. Interiorly, I don't feel old, truly. But the outward reminders are constantly there, as when I gaze at myself in the mirror. Sometimes I don't quite recognize the face peering back. Startled, I demand, "Who the hell are you?" Or when that twinge in my knee or ankle remind me that my joints are getting a tad rusty. So, this thing with Jim? It's just another stinging reminder that we are not as young as we once were. I do hope we are wiser. 

And anyway, isn't this all just part of our journey? We're all on it, although we likely tread different paths. I honestly do not want to become so blasted discouraged. I am desperate for God to help me love every moment. To embrace each moment, each breath, for the gift that it is. To never lose hope. And in all circumstances to always, always be grateful.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you ... plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. - Jeremiah 29:11-12

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Some news about my Jim

Have you ever experienced moments when you can't quite remember how to begin a prayer or start a song that you've known since childhood? Well, that's a little bit like this post, although I'm not having trouble remembering anything. The thoughts have been swirling around in my head and held in my heart for weeks. I simply don't know how to start. I guess I'll just say it.

My husband has prostate cancer.

Blurting it out like that is so shocking, as if I had uttered a profanity. The truth is, I am still a bit taken aback by the diagnosis. It came so suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning or even the slightest suspicion. And I haven't quite figured out how to share this news comfortably, gracefully. I've never been good at sharing bad news. Certainly, there is a bright side which helps soften the blow. The cancer is confined to the prostate, it has been caught early and the prognosis is very good. We are truly, truly grateful for that!!

Some have said, "Well, if you're going to have cancer that is the kind to have." Perhaps, but no one wants any kind of cancer, right? And some men have died from prostate cancer. My grandfather is one and I have heard of others. I know of one man who currently has advanced prostate cancer and is in the fight for his life. It is, like all cancer, an ugly, horrible disease. But as I said, we are grateful that in Jim's case it was discovered early, before it was given a chance to grow into a more serious problem.

In November Jim had a routine physical with his primary care physician. During the exam she felt something odd, a small lump or polyp on his prostate. He followed up with a urologist, who determined that the lump was nothing more than a benign cyst or calcium deposit located near the prostate but not actually on it. Nothing to worry about. However, as an added precaution the doctor opted to proceed with further blood testing. Lo and behold, the blood work came back abnormal, so a biopsy was scheduled for mid-December.

The morning of the biopsy, I dropped Jim off at the surgery center and waited at home as we reside a mere five minutes away. The nurse called me when it was time to go pick him up. The procedure went well and Jim recovered quickly. We busied ourselves with our typical Christmas preparations as we waited to hear the results. Honestly, we were expecting everything to be fine, so we were a bit surprised when the urologist called Jim on the Sunday after Christmas. We had just returned from Mass and Jim was fixing himself a sandwich. In fact, we normally head to the parish hall after Mass for "coffee and doughnuts" and to visit with friends, but I had a strong inkling to head straight home. We would have missed the doctor's call if we had stayed. The urologist explained that out of the 12 samples biopsied one of the them tested positive for cancer, even so he seemed optimistic. He used words like slow-growing, a small area, not very aggressive, caught early. All the words meant to soften the blow, to keep up one's hope. A follow-up appointment was made for a little more than a week later. In the meantime, other tests were being evaluated and an oncologist would be consulted. By the way, Jim's PSA was normal, there was no enlargement of the prostate or any other outward signs indicating any problems.

One of the blood tests measures the patient's genetic tendency toward the disease and Jim's came back on the high end. Another opinion was rendered by a second pathologist who discovered cancerous cells in not one, but two of the biopsied samples. The final result of all of the further testing and consultations is that the risk level for Jim is actually higher than originally thought and the best option for him at this stage in the game is to have the prostate surgically removed sooner rather than later.

His surgery date is March 4.

If all goes well, Jim should be fully recovered and in good shape for our daughter's wedding April 25, as well as for a later surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Yep, that's right, but I think we'll deal with that one after the wedding!

We truly appreciate the prayers, love, and support of all our family and friends and hold each and every one of you in our hearts and prayers as well. We are forever grateful for the gift of faith and for the love and mercy of our Father whose generosity can never be surpassed.

That's all for now. I hope to share more of what's on my heart in the coming days and weeks. There's a lot there.

Friday, November 7, 2014


The stillness of a November afternoon
lies heavy across the lawn strewn 
with sticky, damp leaves.

And I swoon at the memory of you.
Of all that was lost
and might have been.

I cannot see beyond myself, sometimes,
heaped too high.

I will leave this pilgrim place,
one day,
for a new creation.

Where love will wipe all sorrow away
and cast our tears, yours and mine, 
to the glory of the wind,

Where hope will gather us together, forever, again.