Monday, February 28, 2011

Needle's Eye

I know, I know, I'm not posting until I finish my work but I had to share my thought about the Scripture reading for today.
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Now I don't know about the rest of you, but ever since I edged toward 50 and since it's arrival, I cannot see anything up close. And I mean nothing. The eye of a needle! I can't even see the eye much less pass through it. With the rapid growth of my boys, I have been in continual hemming mode. Buying pants long and tacking up for a month or two than letting them back down. I don't like to sew much and I cannot stand to thread the needle, well, because, I cannot even see that tiny little hole much less slip thread through it. And whoever invented what I found out was called a needle threader (I thought there might be a person it was named after like Isaac's eye wire thingy or something) is brilliant.
My point here is that I'm guessing I need to get rid of all the stuff in this world that keeps me from God because I cannot even see that needle's eye much less get a needle threader and pull a camel through. Tight squeeze, no doubt.

Lord, give me all the little tools in life to help me get closer to You.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I am Working, Just not on this Blog

An entire week without blogging is somewhat driving me crazy but I am finally finishing my next book and have been reading and writing the last draft to send to my editor. Ugh! My husband said last night that it's so nice to be around someone who always has a laptop in her lap, dragging around her Bible and her papers from one room to the next trying to act like she's listening to him. (or something like that. I'm not sure all he said because I was reading) So, my blog has really suffered this week and after this book is done I have to work on many more Saint biographies and finish up a youth prayer book I have been scooting around my office. But, hopefully I can go back to my routine of writing before and after work for a hour or so and not halfway through the night. I'm a little stressed. Okay, I'm crazed right now, but it's almost over. Hope to have something good to share here next week.
In the meantime, you should read this post about the confession phone app. It's hilarious.
Ask Sister Mary Martha: Swiss Army Phone

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

On June 25, 1985, I stood on top of the Basilica in Lourdes, France as thousands of people prayed and sang together, each in their own language. The rosary was prayed in about six different languages. Everyone raised their torches during certain parts. Small children went by in wheelchairs and strollers, as well as the young and the old. The number of volunteers was unreal, especially girls no older than me. Somehow, standing on top of the Basilica, watching the amazing faith of all those thousands of people, changed me. I could never explain how or why, but I was one of “those who are present as eyewitnesses of one of those rare but terribly real occurrences in which the omnipotence of God strikes through the shadows of time and space and bind up and heal the broken bodies of men.” Catholic Weekly January 1958

I was one of those present when the power of God shines forth where His Mother is honored and venerated. I was strengthened in faith, proud to be Catholic and to this day strive to follow the messages of prayer, repentance and fasting.

From my website: juliecragon.com

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Joy of Writing

I sat yesterday at lunch with our local Catholic Book Club, Colonna, as Mary Margaret Lambert spoke on her life as a writer. Her wonderful tale of waiting for her writing life to develop around her commitment to her family was moving. She writes a column for our Catholic Newspaper, The Tennessee Register, and was introduced by our president as the dessert of the newspaper, the part everyone saves for last because it leaves us wanting more and because it's rich with flavor. This time spent with this writer made me realize that I rarely write about my writing life. And so, as if you asked...
I generally write around raising children and working full time at St. Mary's Bookstore. I love to write when I'm writing and I love to be with my children when I'm with them and I love buying for and working in the bookstore when I'm there. I wake at 5 a.m., start coffee and write. At 6:20, I wake the first of the four at home and start getting them off to school. I'm at St. Mary's by 8:15 and have started writing in the quiet of the first floor balcony until other workers arrive. At 2:30, I go home and meet my children for a snack and homework and athletic practices. I write between their needs. Dinner and bedtime and a few more words, then I sleep...well, 'til 5 a.m., when my day begins again.
I am writing a 365 day meditation for Our Sunday Visitor right now and am so, so, so close to finishing. The release date is 2012. I have a gift book on Christ, like the Illustrated Mary and Saints books, coming out this summer, I hope. I am writing many, many more lives of Saints stories to be sent to Italy and published in pamphlets for Bonella. And, my next big project, I hope, is a prayer book for youth.
I love to write and I love to be with my family and I love to work at the bookstore and be around my wonderful coworkers and customers. (Not necessarily in that order.) I started to title this, The Joy of Writing and Parenting and Buying and Selling and... I write, long hand, what I believe is being asked of me to write. I love the Catholic Faith and want to spread the fascinating stories of the Saints and of Mary and of the Bible and of His love and of our lives with Him in this hectic world. And, I want to grow up to be just like these great women who have been writing longer than I have and who speak of The Joy of Writing.
At the end of her talk, Mary Margaret left us with a quote from Erma Bombeck that I absolutely love:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Visit to Remember


After my father-in-law died this past week, we heard story upon story about him from his childhood up until literally the weekend before he died. Harlen would love this because he was a man who loved to hear, read about and tell long stories about himself as well as others in his life. This one from his long time friend touched me as important for many of us.

On the 18th of January, a long time friend of my father-in-law had planned to meet with him for lunch. It happened to snow that day and yet the friend related that the last time he canceled an appointment with someone, the person died so he was going to make the meeting one way or the other. The friend said he walked to my father-in-law's place, 25 minutes in the snow and cold, to have lunch and to visit. He talked about how happy Harlen was in his new place and how proud he was of his apartment. He talked about how well he looked and how incredible the lunch menu was that they offered. He talked about his life.

On this day, he shared how fortunate he felt to have kept the appointment despite the weather. He truly had a visit to remember.
This made me stop and think how many times I've put things off, missed an opportunity or avoided an encounter. This made me stop and wonder what our world, our city, our neighborhood would be like if we each took the time to make the effort. This will make me think. This will help me to remember.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

God-instance


I had a customer yesterday who came to the counter with a picture we had just received this week and I expressed to her how difficult this one picture of Christ is to find. She shared that it was a gift for her father's birthday and she felt it Divine Providence that she happened upon it because it was one of his favorite images and she had not seen it in years.
Made me think. Divine Providence. Often I share a God-incidence. Here's mine from yesterday.
As we sat at the funeral home to plan for the visitation, memorial and burial of my father-in-law, we were slightly up in the air as to who could speak at his memorial. Having the bookstore, my husband and I mentioned that we could get just about anyone they would be comfortable with in the way of a priest, deacon, sister, minister or friend. They left it pretty much up to us. I suggested a few people to my husband and he said he'd think about it. We finished up with the wonderful man at Marshall Donnelly and said goodbye to one another. As my husband and I went to leave, the funeral director, a friend of mine, came and hugged me and told us that Marty was asking about us. He is a deacon in our Parish. I flipped my head toward my husband and he smiled. I said, "Maybe that's a sign?" As we walked to our cars, I mentioned that Marty was head of the Cursillo in Nashville and had worked with the Methodist Cursillo as well. I find him very ecumenical. Harlen would like him too. My father-in-law raised the kids in the Methodist Church. My husband agreed and when I got back to work I tried to call Marty several times with no luck. I had almost decided to try another person when a buzz came across my phone from the intercom in the front of the store. "Margo and Marty are here to see you about a project they need you to work on." "Send them up." They had brought in some pictures that had been water damaged and asked if I could find some replacements. Of course, no problem. As we finished, I asked, "Did you get my messages on your home and your cell phones?" "No." And so I asked him to speak at the memorial for my father-in-law and although he had a slight conflict, he answered, "I can do that. No problem. I'll be there. Have the children send me what they would like me to say and I'll tie it to a Reading from Scripture." Perfect. "Thank you so much." Divine Providence
I wrote up some ideas and mentioned the Reading from Scripture idea Marty had and even though I wanted to suggest Corinthians 13, decided to let the girls give their own suggestions. Awake at 1:30 a.m. and unable to sleep, I checked my email to find one of the girl's info about their dad. It was beautiful and the Scripture verse chosen...Corinthians 13. God-instance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Harlen

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,"

What a strange day yesterday. My husband and I went through the regular motions of getting 4 children to 2 schools and getting ourselves to work. I was talking to a customer on the phone and put her on hold to get an answer for her and my husband walked up and said, "My dad just died." I really thought I heard him wrong. He wore just a blank stare. I immediately got off the phone with the customer, grabbed my coat and we left for The Cumberland, a fabulous assisted living facility in Burton Hills.

We were told that at 8:30 when the cleaning lady went to change his sheets, he asked to sleep a little longer. At 10:30, he had died. Although he had diabetes since his childhood and had developed congestion heart failure and was blind in one eye and partially blind in another, he was living to the fullest and as happy as we'd seen him since his wife, Nancy, died 5 years ago. Since he had moved to The Cumberland, he had met many of the people and participated in almost every event. He looked and acted like a new person. One of the directors came up and told us that she had just taken many pictures of him because he had agreed to be a spokesperson for them. Sounds just like him.

Harlen loved to tell stories and had a southern drawl that could make a story last for half a dinner. He was a true gentleman. He loved his children and his grandchildren and loved spending time around people. He was a native Nashvillian, a MBA and Vanderbilt grad and spent his professional career as a banker. He always had a kind word and a smile. He will be missed no doubt.

I find the blessing of the child Jesus by Simeon so appropriate to wake to this morning. He has now let his servant go in peace. May his soul rest and may his daughters and son find comfort in faith and family and friends.