Sunday, May 30, 2010

Religious Book Trade Exhibit

Handed down from both parents, I have a genuine love of books. I love to read and I love to peruse through bookstores. I am known to work at our bookstore all day and stop at Borders on the way home to check out new titles. I love the smell of bookstores and I love the feel of certain books in my hands. I love to share great titles with family and friends and I love to recommend certain titles to our customers.
It is no wonder that Tuesday starts one of my favorite times of the year. I travel to St. Charles, IL for the annual RBTE. This year I'm driving with my oldest daughter on Monday so we can be there nice and early for the seminar on Tuesday given by Lisa Hedney about social media. The luncheon talk will be given by Joyce Rupp. Each year Catholic and Episcopal Booksellers gather with editors and writers and publishers and share ideas and industry news and a love of books. We celebrate Mass and we buy and we listen and we learn. Each day an author speaks at lunch and at dinner on Wednesday and Thursday. Also on Wednesday, authors set up in a large room and autograph books for each of us to take home. I'm fortunate enough to be in meetings each afternoon with Paulist Press and St. Anthony/Servant to talk about the future of book selling and the needs of customers. By the way, if you want to see something specific in the Catholic Market, now's the time to make a comment and I'll pass it on. I do a lot of talking and suggesting and begging for Catholics who want something more.
So, for now, it's off to the Windy City and on to an exciting week. Speak up if you want me to put a word in for ya! It never hurts to ask.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Truth

Today we read about Jesus entering the temple area and being confronted by the scribes and elders about His authority. After asking them a question in return, they discuss and come back to Jesus with no answer. But, we hear them say that they cannot answer out of fear; fear of believing in Jesus and fear of the crowds. They cannot handle the truth. They know His authority comes from Heaven and yet they cannot handle the truth because they fear truth.
Today is the Feast Day of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, a woman who despite the signs of the times, despite opposition and with no fear for the truth founded the Society of the Sacred Heart and her congregations opened over 100 schools all over Europe and into North America. She began by offering education to the poor and to those suppressed, especially girls, during the French Revolution. She moved with vigor and grace to offer opportunities to truth. She could have easily been a quiet sister and teacher but when asked to do more, she accepted.
Today, Jesus teaches us about truth. Through His own witness as a man and through the witness of the Saints He teaches us that truth has no fear. Can I handle the truth? Can I swallow fear and witness to truth? Really witness? Not just through words by through action? Lord give me the grace to handle the truth and the strength to say yes to the opportunities You place before me each day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Anger

Today, we see Jesus in a state of anger. He's hungry and the fig tree has no fruit so He curses it and it withers. He enters His Father's house and the money changers are buying and selling and He turns the tables up and makes them leave. He's got a lot going on in His life and He knows He's going to be put to death and in His human state He's angry with the way His day is going. Sounds a little like me and some others I know with a lot on our plates.
When we were growing up my mother had this small wooden plaque outside her kitchen door on the way down to the basement to which we all paid close attention. Eight little dogs, maybe just 6 at the time, hung on hooks with a large doghouse at one end. When we entered the back kitchen door, we knew whether or not mom was angry and who she was angry with and we braced ourselves for "a good talkin' to" or time in the "yellow chair" or a day in our room. Many times my dog could be found inside that dog house. My friend paid close attention and I heard more than once, "Gosh Julie. What did ya do this time?" Made me so mad. It's funny but now that the tables are turned (pun for the day), I totally understand my mom's frustration trying to raise eight children and part of our neighborhood and keep us busy and cook 2 or 3 meals a day and sit us all together at the table and sew our clothes and straighten the house and shop and provide more with less and still have time for herself and my dad and her friends. I'd say I regret all the difficulty I caused as a child but it's made for such great stories now that we've grown. I was constantly where I was not supposed to be and constantly late and constantly saying the wrong things to the wrong people. I slipped a curse word at a neighbor, crossed the railroad tracks to buy candy at the Hick Store, sneaked into the swimming pool after hours, etc. etc. Mom was angry. There was an old song she played over and over around Christmas time, "I'm gettin nuttin for Christmas, mommy and daddy are mad. I'm gettin nuttin for Christmas cause I ain't been nuttin but bad." That was me. Hangin in the doghouse. Most days my mom could probably of withered a fig tree and turned up the tables but instead, she just moved my little wood dog on down into his house.
I guess what I'm trying to pass on is that anger is a human trait. We all feel it at one time or another and we need to let in out in ways that won't hurt others. Take it out on some thing and not some one. A lesson today I need to hear loud and clear.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Living Stones

"Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
I love to read Scripture as if the writer is speaking directly to me. Today, Peter calls us to come to Jesus who himself was a human rejected by the world and yet chosen by the Father. He tells us to come to Him and allow ourselves to be built up as living stones into a spiritual house, (I'm reading as in our body is a temple of the Lord). And, as these living stones built up we are called to be holy and to have a special function and to do good and to care for others and to make sacrifices in our lives for others.
Just last night as I was cutting the grass (the hummmm of the mower allowing me to think) I was contemplating my true calling. What does Jesus really want from me? Am I being fair with my time to my children and to my community? If I'm tired all the time from working at the store and rising in the early hours to write, am I really giving all I have as a mom? The typical struggles I go through every now and then. And, in His Infinite wisdom, He answers me first thing this morning. He calls me not for the specific, separate vocations that I see but as living stones. He calls me to be built up. He calls me to be holy. He calls me to be good and to care for others and to make sacrifices. Jesus calls me not as wife, mother, retailer or writer. I am constantly over thinking all these separate vocations and when I just sit and listen, He comes and pulls me all together.
Today, we are called to be living stones, stacked upon one another to build His Kingdom. May the firm foundations of our Faith and the strong cornerstones He has blessed us with serve to make us strong, to make us one, to build us as living stones into one spiritual house.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brown Scapular


My second grader was invested in the Brown Scapular yesterday. I happened to be on lunchroom duty and noticed all of her class wearing their scapulars proudly. This is another reason I love second grade. Not only do these beautiful, innocent children receive First Holy Communion but they also learn about and receive the Brown Scapular and are taught the rosary. What an awesome year!
About the Brown Scapular from the EWTN website:
The best known and most highly esteemed scapular, and the one most favored by the Church, and by the Blessed Virgin in many of her apparitions, is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It is adapted from the scapular of the Carmelite Order and represents a special Consecration to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Those who wear it practice it a special devotion to Mary. In the past this was the Little Office of Our Lady, but today this can be commuted by any priest to the rosary. In addition, the person has a special entrustment of themselves to Mary for their salvation. This, in fact, has been promised to those who faithfully wear the scapular: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." This must not be understood superstitiously or magically, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in faith, hope and love are required for salvation. The scapular is a powerful reminder of this Christian obligation and of Mary's promise to help those consecrated to her obtain the grace of final perseverance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Sister

Today is my sister Donna's birthday and although I could never top what I wrote last year, I will still give her a deserving tribute. Donna and I are back to back on the food chain in our family, numbers 5 and 6 of 8 and with only 3 of us being girls, we have always been close. The three of us shared one room and one dresser, each getting two drawers and one closet. Several months ago I was cruising through the old hood and happened upon an Open House at the house where we grew up. I stopped immediately and went in. The Real Estate lady announced that it had just sold as I walked in the door but still allowed me to look around. I had to laugh at the lack of changes in all these years. I wandered up the stairs to the bedrooms and paused as I entered where Jeanne and Donna and I used to stay. (Jeanne more often than us because of the groundings but I'll get to that on her birthday.) The room brought back many memories of which I'd like to share with Donna on this special day.
The window that overlooked the back yard was much smaller than I remembered and so was the air vent right below in the floor. I'd like to apologize again today for dropping your goldfish down that vent and him dying a few days later despite me cleaning the dust from his gills. Between that window and the closet door I envision our bunk beds. Oh the many nights you pushed up on the springs above your head to irritate me and I'm sure I hadn't done a thing to provoke you. How many times I climbed down the headboards to step in your gum you had stuck on the top of yours so it wouldn't end up in your hair in the middle of the night. You always were one for ABC gum. How in the world did we fit our toys and our clothes in that tiny walk in closet? The plywood dad put up for shelves was still there and some scraps of the paper we covered the shelves with was still glued to certain parts. We shared that cardboard Barbie Dream House that we dragged in and out of that closet because there was no room to leave it set up all the time. You know, when I walked in that room, I could only think of happy memories. Even when we tortured each other, we seemed to laugh about it later. As I've said before, you handed down more to me than just clothes and shoes and bicycles. You handed down friendship and love and a work hard ethic that naturally rubbed off as we have grown together. And for all these things I am grateful. Happy Birthday Sista!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are You Willing to Give it all Away?

“You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Everything? But what about...? and ...? I worked for years for ...? Everything? I often wonder how I would handle giving everything to the poor. I often question my need for my stuff. I often wonder, could I give it all away? And I often think, well He doesn't mean everything, does He?
Today's world puts so much emphasis on material objects and I find it very easy to fall right into today's ways. My grand Mama Rose rarely let me leave her house without offering me something of hers. Her cedar chest was bottomless and so was her love for her grandchildren. I pray someday I grow up to be just like her when it comes to generosity. We can certainly explain away the true meaning of this passage from Mark. Camel pass through the eye of a needle. What's the catch here? Truth is, there is no catch. There is no joke. There is no hidden meaning. Jesus wants us to give it all up for Him. He wants us to give Him our full attention in a world that keeps distracting us with material goods. He wants us to let go of all the stuff and follow Him.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mind Your Own Business

Today we have John telling the story where Peter asks Jesus about John. Peter knows John is the youngest and highly favored but let's face it, Jesus probably treated them all equally. These guys were just jealous of one another. John leaning all over Jesus as a big brother or father figure and the other Apostles thinking hmmm Jesus is babying John. Come on fellows. He's Jesus. We're all his children. We're all equal in his eyes. And Jesus point blank tells Peter to mind his own business, to worry about himself.
What family doesn't experience this Gospel story? How many times I've found myself saying, "What concern is it of yours?" "Mind your own business." "You worry about you and let your sister worry about herself." I don't know about the rest of you, but my children are always worried about equal time, equal love, equal attention. And I shouldn't say always because most days it never comes to the surface but occasionally. I do make an effort to keep everything even. And I have to say, the only way I have found that it all works out is when God is in the mix. When He is among us, all is well. Children mind their own business, jealousy is not mentioned, Christianity rules and love reigns. But, when evil peaks its little head, all hell can break lose. So, my job is to keep Christ among us and help everyone to mind their own business. Wouldn't that be a great message for the whole world? Follow Christ and mind your own business.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feed my Lambs, Tend my Sheep

Well as odd as it may seem, my meditation today has been on sheep. After my morning reading, I looked up a little about sheep on the internet and this is what I found. I AM ONE. I couldn't believe the comparison. Hahaha. "Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground may cause sheep to balk." Well, since I've had to use these crazy reading glasses and I often am to lazy to take them off as I venture around the store, I too have experienced a problem with depth perception and the occasional balk. "In general, sheep have a tendency to move out of the dark and into well-lit areas. In addition to the need for food, water, exercise, and shelter, they have good hearing." I do love the light. Helps me not use my reading glasses as much and just the pure warmth of light makes me happy. Food, water exercise and shelter are all I really need and ask my children, I have great hearing.
This all brings me to my huge comfort zone with Peter being called to feed me, to feed my little ones and to tend to our needs. And, guided by the Holy Spirit, the chair of Peter is occupied by another of whom I am comfortable. As Catholics, we are asked to follow our Shepherd and he in turn is asked to feed and to tend. Today I am grateful that Peter and all who have followed have answered "yes" to the role of Shepherd of the Church. I personally am happy to be a little sheep, stumbling around, balking occasionally, basking in the light, being fed and hearing it all loud and clear.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Father, they are your gift to me."

Just back in from Chicago. My husband and I work with other Church Goods Companies each year around this time to put together our large catalog. Companies come from all over the U.S., Europe and Canada to show us new products. It is a very tiring week and I left my poor husband there to finish the job.
But, on to the point of this post. I arrived at our bookstore a little before 4PM thinking I'd grab the night deposits and check on everything that had gone on over the 3 days I was out of town. All was well. I knew my girls had watched over the little things around the place making sure there were enough workers for the day. Same at the house. They got the kids ready for school each day, drove the high school boy when needed, helped with homework and made dinner. But, I have to say, they have a way of making me so proud. My friend's father died of cancer on Monday. The previous week my son and my husband had cleaned his gutters and his yard so he could enjoy his home as he spent his last days on his back porch which quickly changed to a hospital bed. I asked the girls before I left if they would mind going to the funeral if I was not back in time and both said no problem. As the inevitable unfolded, my girls not only showed up, but helped. They picked up the memorial cards for the visitation, attended the funeral and one of them was even an Eucharistic minister. They managed to pick up the high school boy, relieve for lunch at the bookstore, help finish homework and have a nice dinner waiting when I got home. Our children can make us so proud can't they? They naturally handled everything. Anytime I checked with them, they both responded, "It's all good." I hope, I hope I am grateful enough for these gifts that my Father has given me. As I read this week about Paul moving on and having faith that all he had preached and taught would continue through the disciples I thought about our children. I thought about the importance of filling them up at home with all the right "stuff" so the world will not, can not tear them apart or need not correct them. My children know that I am extremely tough on them for their own good; so the world won't have to be. "Father, they are your gift to me" and I could not be more grateful or more proud.

Monday, May 17, 2010

All Will Be Well

Got a text this morning from a childhood friend to say that her father died. The same man who last weekend sat on the end of his bed and tried to iron a better crease in his pants because the "cleaners just don't do things like they used to." The same man who bugged his daughter until she returned my 1st Communion missal I had left at his house since 1968. The same man who asked if my son could come clean his gutters. The same man who had Mass said at his house with his family just days ago. The man was definitely prepared for his journey. And with the words today from the Gospel, "Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me" I am reminded that although (what I worry about the most) I know my friend's family will all be going back home after this is said and done and my friend will be going home alone, she will not be alone. Her father and her mother made sure that she had a strong faith to fall back on. She knows the Father and He knows her. The hour has come. The family has all been together for days and all has been prepared. Soon, all will be scattered and her father will find his final resting place and she will know, because of preparation throughout their life together, she is not alone.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

St. Isidore

I usually try to refrain from commenting on comments because to me if someone wanted to read more about the saint of the day they can read the comment for themselves. But today, the comment on St. Isidore deserves repeating. "Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also." This coming directly after the morning reading from Acts where we see that Paul "traveled in orderly sequence" "bringing strength to all the disciples."
St. Isidore was a simple farmer who worked on the estate of a wealthy landowner all his life. He started each day going to church and talked to God during the day as he plowed. He loved to work with the poor. "Many implications can be found in a simple laborer achieving sainthood: Physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness."
Now half my life I have heard my mother tell me that she asks God to order her day, especially when she has more than she can handle. Order brings strength. Order helps commitments fall into place. Jesus first. The rest just falls into place. Jesus through the day. More accomplished. Jesus at night. Restful sleep.
I had a woman come into the store and somehow we got to talking about Jesus being in control of our days and our nights and how with Him everything just seems to work. She said that she has actually only had time for a short night sleep before having to begin a large project, prayed that Jesus would give her the rest she needed and awaken to feeling like she had 8 hours when she had only had 4. Not only made it through her day but made it through feeling wonderful.
Isidore was known to linger in Church a little too long some days and legend tells that there were visions of angels working his plow for him so he would get all his work done.
Orderly sequence. Bringing strength. Jesus first. The rest just falls into place. Ever had those times?

Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Matthias

I have to think about St. Matthias today who after the betrayal of Judas took the spot as the "new" twelfth Apostle. In Acts this morning we read that the guys gathered to vote between Justus and Matthias and we hear them say that it must be one of the guys who have been with them from the time Jesus baptized John to His Ascension. I hear them say that they are choosing someone who has been with them through thick and thin. They want someone dedicated to the task. They want someone who has experienced all that they have gone through and have stayed with Jesus. Someone who gets it.
As usual, when someone asks in a crowd, "Who'd like to take on a task?", my hand goes up immediately. I love a good challenge. "Pick me. Pick me." But, today, I have to pause before I raise my hand and think, "Have I really been with Him through it all? Do I have it in me to trudge the long road all the way to the Ascension? Have I listened? Have I read enough? Am I sharp enough? Honed? Sure of the answers? Simply, do I fully follow the Spirit? Do I ask Him to lead me every day? Do I put Jesus first always?"
Today, as the lots are cast and the twelve are looking for new leaders, I think about Matthias and Justus and with them wonder if I'm good enough. Will they choose me? And, even better, if I'm not chosen for this role, will I continue to strive for something more? Continue to teach and to preach and to learn? What are our reactions toward our roles? As our lots fall on us in this life, how do we respond?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Lady of Fatima


Last year, my mother, my two oldest daughters and I made a pilgrimage to Fatima. We traveled by car through the valleys and over the hills to get to the small village. As with other apparition sites, the area was surrounded by shops carrying souvenirs of everything from plates to nitelites to aprons and candles and mugs etc etc embossed with Our Lady of Fatima. The area where Mary appeared to the three Portuguese children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, was "marked off" along with the Basilica of the Rosary, a small outdoor Chapel of the Apparitions and the new Church of the Holy Trinity. Inside this huge concrete area, there was peace. As people crawled on their knees around the statue of Our Lady inside the Chapel, praying the rosary, there was peace. As visitors toured the Basilica and gathered around the areas where the children were buried, there was peace. As pilgrims joined for Mass in the more modern Church of the Holy Trinity, there was peace. As I wondered down to the area for confession, there were huge waves of peace and consolation. Lighting candles for our intentions and washing in the waters around the statue of the Sacred Heart, there was peace.
Today, I envision the huge crowds gathered around this holy place. I walk with the many pilgrims who have journeyed on foot fulfilling promises to Our Lady in exchange for her blessings. I hear the rosary being prayed in many different languages. I see the reverence and the respect given in an area where once Our Lady appeared and asked three small children to spread the message for need of prayer and fasting and repentance for world peace and to reveal the three secrets that she made known to them. Today, I sit in peace knowing that Our Lady holds us in her mantle. Today, I see her smiling down on all who have listened to and followed her messages given at Fatima.
“Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ's proclamation: the Father's love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion. This too is the message of Fatima which, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel” (The Message of Fatima, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 26, 2000).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May Crowning


Makes me cry every time. I can never really pinpoint what does it to me. Could it be the First Communion children walking down first? Could it be all the awesome hymns to the Blessed Mother?

Could it be the eighth grade boys lining the center aisle as the girls dressed in pastel walk down and place flowers in the vase in front of the statue of Mary and gather around the altar as the boys follow, unpin their boutonnières and place them at the base of the statue? Could it be that as Our Mother I love the devotion and respect given her on this day? Could be all of the above.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

College Girls Home

I love having all my ducks in the pond. I have to admit. This past weekend amidst the craziness of Nashville, my second college daughter moved back home for the summer. With her came all her stuff on top of the other college daughter's stuff because we had yet to organize. Busy with the needs of those who have suffered from the storm, I failed to make room for my own children. Hmmm. Today is my day off and I am trying my best not to just bark orders about what I need them to help me do. I'm trying to make space for their returns both with their stuff and with their beings. So many times I catch myself working for others and dragging my kids to work for others and I slack on my job right in my own home. And, they understand. They let it ride. They comment to one another about my fits of needed help and yet they step up and do what needs done. Again, hmmm. I finally got a good night sleep and my mind is clear and I know that God wants me to begin right here at home so we can all have the love and the energy to go out and spread His love. No one can do His work if they feel miserable. No one can spread His love if they lack love themselves. No one can give time if they don't have time. Today, I start my summer with all my ducks and I work to clear the pond of all the mud and the muck so more feel welcome and all play nicely.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Flooding in Nashville

One week ago today I sat in this very spot at work and worried as creeks and drains began to fill due to the heavy amounts of rain in our area. By late Saturday we were hearing of families having to pump out basements due to flooding. It was not long before basement flooding turned to stories of moving furniture from first to second floors to stories of evacuations and boat rescues to stories of total losses and even deaths. The area around our school and in our community was completely devastated. People were seeking shelter and comfort from neighbors and churches and schools. Areas all around Nashville were affected in one way or another. Every river and every creek became a major factor. The Cumberland River finally spilled over into the downtown area Monday causing major damage to our businesses. Story after story began pouring in to the bookstore. Four of our employees from the bookstore were affected and everywhere people were gathering to help.
The comment I can truthfully make about Nashville is that we have pulled together as a family. Those who can, tear out and dig out and clean. People work extra shifts for the families who need to stay home. Food and clothing and other necessities were donated in huge quantities. We attended funerals and buried our dead. Masses are still being said despite the massive energy our priests are using to attend to the spiritual needs of our communities. Many took in families or took care of children so others could go work. Moms are substituting for our teachers and our principals. As in every community, life goes on. There are still those in hospitals who need to be visited and they are. There are still those dying of cancer and there are still the elderly who need to be attended to and cared for and they are. I haven't talked to one person who has not physically or spiritually done something for someone else this week. People are tired and tempters are short and yet we are still coming together every day to care for one another and to love one another and to be a family.
Here's a small example of the exchange program I see going on also. I've been more worried than usual about not doing enough for the people affected in our community. Take your pick. They're everywhere. I have a life long family friend whose dad is dying from cancer and today the family is meeting at his house to decide about care and hospice etc. etc. So my co-worker had left a text last night and said she'd like to cook for them. I text back this morning to say that I was going to leave them some bagels when I got his newspaper and I'd taken over something for them for lunch. She had made chicken salad and we were on target for me to run by at 8 before work. I got plenty of bagels to include everyone so I dropped some off for my children and I took some in for her family. She handed me the chicken salad and a brown bag lunch for me for today. As we swapped meals I couldn't help but think that this is exactly how I'd like to describe Nashville: one hand feeding another, one heart loving another, one family, one faith, one.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Peace Amidst the Storm

Tonight I went with two of my daughters to the St. Cecilia Motherhouse for an evening of prayer and a little history. Being taught by these amazing ladies brings to mind many questions for our young children as well as us parents. I love to be invited into their home. Truth is, I have longevity with these sisters because my grandmother, my mother, my sisters, my children and I have all been taught by them. Fully habited, these sisters follow the basic rule of St. Dominic. "St. Dominic was a man of deep prayer, out of which was born the zealous active life of preaching that consumed his days." And, although St. Cecilia was not a Dominican, she is their patron; "the choice of St. Cecilia was a natural one, as our sisters were invited to Nashville in 1860 to establish an academy for girls that would place an emphasis on music and the arts." The young sister explained to us that they go out to preach and teach each morning and they return to a monastic way of life each night. She explained many parts of their life in the convent from the way their new names are chosen to their daily schedule and rituals. We all joined the sisters for evening prayer in their beautiful chapel, the center of their convent. I personally needed this time with a small part of our school community. I needed this time to listen in prayer and to contemplate the lives of those who could not come this night due to the recent flooding in Nashville. Sitting in that chapel as the sisters prayed back and forth from one side of stalls across the aisle to the others, I was engulfed in the peace of Jesus Christ. Their movements, their complete full waist bows during any mention of the Trinity, the sprinkling of holy water and the candle lit procession to the Tabernacle occur every evening in their convents throughout the U.S. and now in Australia. Together with priests and sisters and brothers and many lay people throughout the world they pray the Liturgy of the Hours. They pray for us, for the world, for the victims of the flood. In this small monastic-like place, this group of Dominican Sisters make a difference. For me, it was pure peace amidst the storm.

If I Could Just Be More Like My Children

My titles teetered between the above, Confessions of a Household Cook and Don't Send Me Any Men Who Can't Pour their Own Coffee. I'm awful. I can't believe myself sometimes and that's just the plain truth. As much as I harp on my children to be good examples and to love unconditionally, you'd think I'd follow my own commands, but no. I stayed home yesterday with my children and my father-in-law so my husband could tie up some loose ends before leaving today to get our eldest from college. My day started off by rousing my boys to go with me to clean out their grandfather's fridge and kitchen and check to see if there was any damage from the flood other than the electricity being off for days. We gathered cleaning supplies and headed out. I could not believe the small road leading across to his house! The clear markings of mud over the roofs of houses, with people loading their front yards with all the contents left inside their houses waiting for trucks to return to gather more for the dump. Incredible traffic and people gathered in yards helping to the point of overflowing. As we entered granddaddy's house, we were pleasantly surprised by the clean smells, fresh air, running water and working electricity. We had very little to do because the fridge was working and most of the food seemed perfectly good. What a relief! We weaved back home talking to a co-worker along the way in case she needed us to swing over and do some cleaning but she was waiting for insurance adjusters and at a standstill. Back home granddaddy was somewhat happy that his place was in good shape but not interested in leaving our home just yet. No problem. Hmmmm. I next told the boys to make their grandfather a grilled cheese while I took the girls to shop for a few items for my daughter's friend whose home was a total loss. As noon hit while we were out, I called my sons to check in and they informed me that granddaddy was at the table but would wait for the "girls" for lunch. "That could be 2 o'clock." Long story, after dropping off cookware and a new mini hamster guy and accessing their other needs, we headed home to get a dresser. There granddaddy sat at the kitchen table. Frustrated I told him I'd be back to take care of lunch after I delivered this dresser. My boy jumped up and helped me load and deliver and on my return after 2 o'clock I began to make the grilled cheeses and serve. Fed the crew and sat down to my computer and in walks the man asking for me to warm up the last bit of coffee. No prob except the part where he referred to me as the household cook. I know, no big deal. I served and then the household cook went out to mow the 2.5 acres while her children went to a neighbors house. I ran in at 5 and he was at the kitchen table. Not time for dinner but I did put the meat in the oven and went back out to pick up my daughter and her friend. Home and back to the grass until 6, put all away and as I came in to finish up dinner, he's at the kitchen table. I finished cooking and served a nice meal. Every time I turned the corner granddaddy was asking when Margaret's young friend was leaving. We were trying to get her to stay the night but when her mom came to pick her up, granddaddy even walked to the door to make sure she left the building. And did she remember to get that school uniform that was hanging out for her all day?
I arranged with my sister-in-law for granddaddy to be picked up and taken home the next day at ten and he seemed a little sad. He's lonely and I'm awful. My 10 yr old boy came through to tell everyone goodnight (he's a hugger) and he shrugged his shoulders like "what the heck" and went and hugged his grandfather. All I could think all day was how tired I was and that I was more than an old fashion household cook and my son comes through and bam! hits me right in the unconditional love department. All day I thought how my good deeds had been negated by my bad attitude and unkind thoughts and I was right.
This morning we all said goodbye to granddaddy and I made sure to let him know that he was welcome any time, tragedy or not. Ya know, this guy is not like my father with 24 grandchildren who hug and kiss all over him and mess with him and he gives it right back. This man is the old fashion kind but he still needs love and attention just like the rest of us. Ugh. Why can't I just be more like my children?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In the Midst of Disaster

I worked at the bookstore yesterday on my regular day off because three of our co-workers suffered damage to their homes caused by the floods this past weekend. I have to say that I feel an internal yearning to be out there in the mud and the muck cleaning instead of working at the bookstore but I know God has plans for each of us and covering so that others can take care of their families and their homes is just my part. My husband stayed home with his father that we have taken in who could not stay in his own home due to the lack of electricity and water. But the true purpose of this post is to say how moved I am by the phone calls and emails from my salespeople and other bookstores in different parts of the country. I love that other people care about the welfare of our family and our business. They called to make sure that we did not suffer great loses but also to see if there was anything they could do personally, and they are sincere in their gesture. After I explained that our home and the store where fine but that I had several good friends who had lost everything, they informed me that they were sending checks to the bookstore for me to give to those families in our parish community. They knew that they could give to the relief funds set up but knowing that we would get the money to someone who lost everything short of the clothes on their backs and one car made them feel like they could do something more personal. I am moved by what mankind will do for one another. I have watched on TV what a difference we can make in each others' lives both positive and negative but to experience the good on a personal level during times like these is simply inspiring. Today I'll keep myself open to where God leads me and whether I simply deliver my pots and pans gifts requested last night or clean a house or wait on customers at the bookstore, I'll know that with the help and kindness of those inside and outside our community, we'll work to build up one another and to make a difference in our community. God Bless you all.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kindness

As the waters of the Cumberland River spilled over into business after business and as the Harpeth River and other waterways lowered yesterday, Nashville was certainly a city of mixed emotions. Even the news had a difficult time focusing on what needed to be broadcast and where teams needed to be to help with the ongoing disasters. We are definitely all over the place, not knowing who or how to help, not knowing where to be. We finally got in touch with my father-in-law who has been dry but without power for 2 days. My sister-in-law put out a plea on facebook and a neighbor went to him with a phone and he assured us that he was safe. Last night my husband and daughter went to bring him over to our house, (the first time they could weave their way through the roads near the river). I was fascinated by the kindness of my children preparing for his arrival and after he settled in. My oldest son cleaning his room(he gave up his bed without a fight and moved to the couch)and my daughter changing bed sheets and making sure all paths were clear. My younger son and daughter working on general pickup around the house knowing their grandfather is partially blind in one eye and completely blind in the other. It took some time to convince him to come and stay at our house but upon arrival, he was welcomed and then left to settle down and get his bearings. He was confused with his insulin (type 1 diabetic) and I watched as my 12 year old tried to help him make decisions and sort out his needs. The other children cleared the area until he took his shot and had some dinner. Putting a partially blind, partially deaf man in a strange house is a challenge for him but he seemed to calm down after the first hour. My husband and children sat and watched the news with him and then helped him down the 3 steps to his room for sleep. I was grateful for these children who always surprise me with their abilities to rise to the occasions. I know when called upon they will be glad to go and serve others as they have served their grandfather and will continue to serve him today. Their kindness calmed an old man who was obviously frightened to leave his familiar surroundings. May this same kindness spill over into our neighborhoods and bring Nashville some well needed peace as we continue to help one another. God Bless the victims of this awful disaster. And may we all show a little kindness.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away


I cannot believe the amount of damage that two days worth of rain has brought to Nashville and other surrounding areas. As flood waters continue to rise, I have found myself begging God to stop the rain. It's actually scary watching the water rise in my yard and realize that there is more rain coming. As the banks of the Cumberland River come close to overflowing, I am concerned for all of the businesses in the downtown area, including my own which is quite some ways from the river. Today, I pray for those whose homes and businesses are damaged from the floods. I pray for those who have lost families members because of the storms. I pray for all that is ahead of us and I beg God to help this community to work together to get through this disaster. Jesus, You walked on water and calmed the storm and quieted the fears of a motley crew of fishermen. Be with us in our needs. Calm our fears and help us to work together. We know there is more to come and ask that You be with us as we deal with the days and weeks ahead. As always, may the work of our hands reflect You.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

St. Joseph the Worker

Yesterday I participated in this exercise on another blog (All in a Day's Thought) that asked, "If you could have anything printed on the side of your car to say something about you, what would you have printed?" This was a very thought provoking question. I came up with "Under Construction" because that's exactly how I see myself in my spiritual life, in my writing, in the bookstore, with my children and in my relationships. Now granted, I didn't invent the idea. I believe my dad coined the phrase "Christian Under Construction" some years ago when the Cursillo first began in Nashville and he was giving witness talks. He worked in the Construction business so... One more Hand-Me-Down for the books but the point here is that today being the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker brings to mind the importance and the dignity of Work, of being a carpenter, like the beginnings of the men who have worked with my father. These men work from early morning through the day to build the forms for foundations to be poured and if anything goes wrong, they tear it out and rebuild because without a solid foundation, the structure itself is worthless. I know there are fiberglass forms for many things these days but I've watched these carpenters use plain wood and nails and create structures with pure hard work and determination. Ahhh, the old fashion foundations. The same foundations we work to build our families on. The same foundations we hope to build our businesses and our relationships on. The same foundations we pray to build our spiritual lives on. The pure, diligent work of our hands exemplified by a simple carpenter, handed down to his Son and celebrated today. As I remain "Under Construction" I pray for those foundations I'm working with and hope that I have the humility to tear out and start over where there are flaws. Like St. Joseph, like my dad, may we all work together to build solid foundations and to build up the City of God.