War of the Rosaries

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We put saying the rosary on our calendar.  That sounds like it takes away some of the romance of our relationship with God. But like any good relationship, there is work involved. You have to make time for each other. The truth is God always makes time for us, we’re the slackers. So that’s why that rosary deserves an entry on our calendar. Actually two.

Sundays and Tuesdays are Rosary days.

Imagine this, I call the children, singing their names: Perpetua, John Paul, Benedict, Agnes, Damien. I’m blinded by the streaking light of their bouncing halos  as they jump to their knees, eyes toward Heaven …

Okay. It’s nothing like that.

The plan is to gather the kids and pray together as a loving family of God. It’s just that sometimes the loving part of the plan is foiled when expectations aren’t met and someone is late, or the little kids are more rambunctious than usual, or a certain teenager who has the ability to stay up until the wee hours starts to fade by the end of the second decade, or a dear little baby complains through the whole thing.

But still, we do our best to follow through. We say intentions for people and causes, we end up laughing at least once or twice (because if we didn’t, we’d go insane). And we get through that Rosary, always grateful that we took the time. By the end I’m often looking forward to our next attempt and wondering if I’ll ever actually know the words to Hail Holy Queen.

You better watch out

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Last year, Lillian quickly decided the man in the big red suit is scary.

Visit with Santa

You better watch out!

We went to breakfast with Santa at church, and as soon as he made his appearance, she disappeared under the table. And fast. There was no overcoming this fear. I carried her up to see him, with the hopes she’d see it was all really harmless. But no luck. She clung to me for dear life. She accepted a gift from him, with me as the conduit. There was neither hand-to-hand nor toy-to-kid contact with the jolly guy.

It is clear this year that she has an understanding of Santa’s role in the present giving. She’s always joyfully pointing out his image whenever we see stores decorated in the Santa-centered “holiday” theme. She’s told me countless times that she wants Santa to bring her a princess castle. I thought, great, she’s over whatever fear she had.

Today while we were driving, she announced that I needed to give Santa some money so he could buy her the castle. We chatted about this idea for some time, then I reminded her that she could just sit on Santa’s lap and ask him for the castle herself.


“You don’t want to sit on Santa’s lap?” I inquired. “How about if we write it down? Then you can just slip him a note when you see him.”


After some thought she finally responded, “No, we can just mail him the note in the mailbox instead.”

Fostering love


Last week, we attended a Halloween party hosted by a lovely family. They have five children, seven and under. The house was decorated adorably, games were planned and played, even the food fed the theme.  All of that was great, but one moment made it the best party ever.

Tiffany, Blayne and their beautiful family.

Fostering Love

Our hostess was busy preparing her laptop to show the guests a video clip where her children’s faces were fit into a comical clip of the Monster Mash. As her computer loaded, it revealed a desktop photo of their baby getting baptized.

Her five-year-old son pointed to the photo, “That’s when Itty Bitty got dunked. When he got baptized. Right Mom?”

Through the busyness — waiting for the computer to finish booting up and the website to load — his mother affectionately smiled at him and said, “Yes, it is.”

Then he inquired, “Did the judge say we can keep Itty Bitty yet?”

She looked at him and said, “Not yet. Hopefully soon.”

Other adults in the room inquired about the status of the baby’s adoption. Postponements, future court dates were briefly mentioned. Then, that dear boy looked up at his mother and asked, “The judge said you can keep me, right?”

“Yes. We can keep you.” She reassured him. “The judge said we can keep you.”

He asked a few more times, interjecting his query Continue Reading »

Preparing the way


We made an Advent candle project yesterday. I know, it looks like I’m on the ball — planning ahead. Yep, that’s me.

Hardly. It was more an effort to avoid my usual Advent candle mayhem, which goes something like this:

Our project

Henry, MC and Lil admire their work.

We make a trip to the Catholic bookstore to buy candles in early November. (They actually run out.) I buy them. I stash them some place I’m sure to remember when the time comes. But instead, I forget. I look in all the reasonable spots. Accuse my spouse of moving them, then I end up blaming the candles themselves  (as in, “where are those stupid candles?”).  I buy a second set. Then mid season, find the first set. Promise myself I’ll remember I have them for next year … but I don’t. And so it begins all over again. Oh, and by the way, the candles never quite fit the wreath properly. So I’m always melting them, shaving them, adding extra wax, you name it.

Not this year. I won’t be able to lose these. And the kids are so excited about them. So for once, I’ll actually be prepared to prepare the way.

Is there some special sin category

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for yelling at your kids to stop asking when we are going to say our morning prayers?

“We’ll pray when I’m good and ready!”

This, after I’m trying to feed the baby and unload the dishwasher before we start school, then unexpectedly have to change the freshly dressed baby from head to toe, rinse out his clothes and warm up my coffee (again), drag the walker downstairs all to the tune of … “Can we pray now?” or “Mom? When are we going to pray?”

I sing back, “Start your math.”

The chorus responds, “We can’t until we pray.” Which means: they won’t.

Which makes me raise my voice in the most unbecoming anti-Duggar way.

Ah … I have so much to learn. Patience is apparently a virtue that only visits me occasionally. I think I’ll pray for that … when I’m good and ready.

Soul food

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Monday was All Souls Day. It follows All Saints Day, and commemorates the faithful departed–those who die in God’s faith and friendship. At our parish, it is always marked by a mass and simple reception. Family of parishioners who died during the year are invited as well as anyone from the parish who may want to attend. It’s solemn and beautiful. I was fortunate to be asked to sing at the mass. Along with Holy Thursday, it’s really my favorite.

In addition to my participation, about a month or so ago, our pastor asked if I would bring the baby. He wanted to use him as a “prop” during the homily. I agreed, but with the disclaimer that I could not make any guarantees regarding the level of cooperation of my six-month-old son. Actually, the exchange was more like, “Are you sure you know what you’re asking?” He assured me he did, and that he could roll with it. And I knew he could, so I said, “Okay.”

My parents sat with the baby during mass, since I was in front singing and Richard was teaching religious education. My dad’s magic touch made Clifford very relaxed, and when it was time to hand him off to Monsignor, the baby just nuzzled and got cozy.

Monsignor stood in his white vestments and gave his entire homily holding our son, who comfortably nuzzled securely in his arms. Monsignor reminded all of the many sad people in the congregation that they should find peace knowing that their loved one is being held by God, much like he was holding Clifford. To help you understand the visual impact, you should know that our pastor stands just shy of 6’8″. His large hand covers almost all of the baby’s back. It was easy to picture God’s strength and loving care.

His homily was comforting and wonderful; the baby remained so calm and pretty much moved on cue. It seemed he was responding to what was being said. At one point, when Monsignor mentioned heaven, Clifford even looked up and all around at the ceiling of the church. He also seemed completely unfazed by the hundreds of people in attendance. Occasionally looking out at the people, then back at his tall protector, then at me. I was afraid that he would see me and cry, but he didn’t. He did just what God needed him to do in that moment.

A day after the mass, I received this note from a dear friend from church

I am still in awe of what we all witnessed at the Memorial mass. I know a lot of others are too. I’m sure there were many in the church who, in their grief, have doubted God’s real presence with us. If Fr. Mike’s and Clifford’s homily did not dispel those doubts, I don’t know what could. I felt His presence so strongly I wanted to shout it to the rooftop!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful son. ( I want to say that he could be a great actor someday, but I have a feeling God has something better in store for him!)

It has always been my wish for all of my children that God use each one for the purpose for which He intended and created them. I just often foolishly think of it in terms of them when they grow up. Thanks to our dear pastor, the Holy Spirit and my  bouncing baby boy, my eyes have been opened … once again.