Thursday, October 25, 2012

Week at a Glance

My parents subscribe to the Magnificat; therefore, so do I. They both read morning Scripture; therefore, so do I. They both attend morning Mass; therefore, I'm working on that. Ya see, I see that they have had a pretty good life overall. Yes, the trials (me included) and yes, the daily grind, but overall I bet they would say it's been good. And, I bet they'd say they attribute most of it, if not all of it, to their faith. Many "things" our parents hand down to us, we may not really want. For instance, in the doctor's office yesterday for my son's physical, the doc started going over all the medical issues on both sides of our family and man, please, feel free not to hand those down. But, the faith, the trust in God for everything, the gratefulness to God for it all, even in the toughest times...that, we welcome to be handed down.
All of this brings me to a quick sharing of a glance at my week. Monday morning, my eldest had a late start so as my routine is to wake him at 6am then my daughter next, I completely forgot to wake my daughter. As 6:36 rolled around, I jumped from in front of my computer and ran to her room. Her ride was outside the house at 6:40. At 6:50 she got in the car. "Tell them I am so sorry. And yes, you can also set the alarm on your phone from now on." I didn't want all the blame. Now, the 6:30 shower for the next son was off time wise, and so was mine, which made the youngest late to wake and we were rushing to school like a crazy family. Thank goodness we are 3 minutes away. As I knelt before Mass, all I could say was "hectic" and all I got in return was "rest in Me". All I needed. And the morning prayer in the Magnificat, "Every morning we arise afresh in Christ our Light". Thank the good Lord tomorrow morning promises the possibility of a better start. Tuesday morning, all was well and again, I knelt before Mass and lifted up my children to be watched over and guided and guarded and I received that my eldest' pause in her job (Monday was her first day without work so she is doing much needed online work for the bookstore) was not about anything more than using her as an instrument to further evangelize. And the meditation in the Magnificat, "Stop trying to think out a solution for the moment; there isn't one. One day there may be; God will then show it to you. In the meantime, accept it all as being the big thing for God and his Church that he asks of you..." Wednesday, my youngest was serving for the all school Mass and as I sat in the Church, the sun was shining right into my face, blinding me. I kept my head down and read in my Magnificat before Mass, "The bright light of the risen Sun, Jesus Christ, shines to all parts of the earth. Let us walk in His light and follow His way, that, reflecting His brightness, we may enlighten the eyes of the blind with faith and hope." As the Mass progressed, I noticed that same Sun was shining intensely on the face of my little altar server. And lastly for any readers that have hung on this long, today, on my day off, I was headed to vote and read, "Let us put into God's hands our heart, our soul, the deep recesses of our being wherein dwell those beliefs and thoughts that govern our actions, so that He may guide us in the ways of the Gospel." May the Gospel be our guide, every hour of every day, a day at a time and a week at a glance. And, may God Bless America!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ugly, Awful, Feet

I truly believe that all we need for our day, to know what to do and how to do it, is Scripture. If we could just read Scripture and follow it, we would be a much better world. Today, I get this message, not just once in the morning meditation from the Magnificat, but a second time as the entrance antiphon. Gosh, talkin about God really wanting me to get the message! 


"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one who brings glad tidings, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation."  Isaiah 52:7

Okay, that was weird. I typed this once and it jumped off the page and I had to type in again. Man, okay, I get it already!

Anyway, this morning I was thinking about how completely selfish I have been the past couple of weeks because I have been so incredibly busy and I have had many "things" due for mid-October. The bookstore had to be in 3 different locations in one week, I had to write wording for a couple of different TV commercials, I had a proposal due for a book I am working on, I needed to order contacts for my daughter, get her to her orthodontist appointment, get her to the dentist for some teeth to be pulled, finish up volleyball season with another daughter, I had to schedule dentist and doctor appointments for my son, get hotel rooms for my trips to Lake Barkley, Cleveland and New Orleans, and along with it all, I still had to work at the store and do laundry, cook and help with homework and college applications. I was no fun what so ever! I was really very selfish thinking that I was the only one who had anything to do. I even whined to one of my good friends about how much I had to do. Come on! Hahaha. We can all see the common word in this hoopla. Sounds like one side of the Debate the other night...I, I, I. Then, I get this in my morning meditation and at Mass this morning. "How beautiful...brings glad tidings...peace...good news...salvation." All I see is "how ugly...brings selfishness...I'm too busy...not right now...I'm the only one in the world."

Then, the Scripture message goes even further, "he sent ahead of him in pairs". In pairs! We are not meant to do this alone. This is when we could get caught by the evil one. And I so did. This is when we are apt to be tested...when we try to go it alone...then we are vulnerable. We are meant to be paired up. To go in twos at least. To ask for and receive help. We must get over the "poor pitiful me, I have to do everything myself" and get the help we need. So what if we have to continually ask when we really want others to jump in like they should automatically. So what. So...I made lists and my husband and my mom and my sister helped me get the workshops done and my husband helped call around and get appointments and hotel reservations. (By the way babe, we still need one for New Orleans, if you're reading.) And my kids pitched in and helped unload the van from the workshops and ate whatever I brought home and my son actually cooked for the other kids in my absence and drove others where they needed to be. And, my eldest came in, took a personal day at work, and entertained some out of town guests with my husband, sister, mom and employees at the store. She and my mom really did the wording for the TV commercials. And my two oldest called and listened and sympathized as they usually do for pooooorrrr mom.

Ya see, despite my ugly, awful feet, others helped to bring gladness and peace and good news. I was never alone even when I thought I might be and Scripture is point blank on target in my life...as it is in all our lives if we just open the Book.

St. Luke, Patron Saint of Artists

 On this Feast Day of St. Luke, I'd like to share some of my mom's wonderful artwork. 
You can see more at www.jeandortch.com .


Call to Prayer

Just Before Sunset

Raw Beauty

Spring at Radnor

North Carolina Beauty

Light in the Dark


Mountain Majesty

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Road Again

Once again I had the incredible opportunity to set up shop in Maggie Valley, NC for the priests of the Charlotte Diocese. Each year I take a van load of books and vestments and churchware for them to peruse between scheduled events of their retreat. Each year I come away with a little more on my mind. The area alone is worth the drive and the time. It is beautiful in those mountains as the leaves are turning colors, with the cool air moving in.

I was a little hectic before I left, setting up a book fair for one of the area schools and leaving my family to host the Midwest Church Guild for the weekend and on Monday and having my mom and my sister cover for me at a book club on Tuesday taking books to be donated to an area hospital. But, it all worked out as usual and I am home, having driven until after midnight and picking up the last of the book fair this morning.

Each day that I was in Maggie Valley I thought about how hectic I had been trying to get everything settled before I left. I thought about how hectic I make my life and I thought about what I could do to make things a little less hectic. Hmmm. Not take the bookstore out to the people. Well, no, that's part of our mission. Not be in the Catholic Book Club. Well, no, I enjoy those people and it makes me read books I normally may never read. Not allow people from other parts of the U.S. to come visit our store and see how we operate and what an amazing job my mom and sister do with our displays and my husband does in the small space we allow him to have. Well, no, I think God gave them talents that need to be shared. Not write. Well, no way, I love to write. So, this day as I begin the first day of a Year of Faith, I am contemplating all that God has put into my life, my awesome kids included, and I am thanking Him every day for the opportunity to have to juggle, to have to find creative ways to get it all done. Sitting alone for 3 days with the occasional visit from a priest can make a person contemplate. Lord, what do You want me to do each day? Teach me Your ways. Let me be Your hands. Let me walk Your path. Show me. Lead me. Give me Faith.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Humbling

I just have to share this moment. God is so good. He knows I do much better with the flashing light signs and signals and confirmations. He knows that I am more like Thomas than I would ever care to admit. He knows that every once in a while I need a message that tells me that no matter what type of struggles I may be going through or what others may think or say, I'm doing okay in His book. Keep working hard. Keep praying that what you do or say works for someone. Keep believing in the mission. One person could be changed by one word or one book or one bit of kindness.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the balcony at the store taking a look to see what kind of books I could take for a workshop. We have had a lot of book tables lately...a good thing...and I am grateful. Before I could exit, this big man came toward me and said, "You've worked here quite a few years haven't you?" He had my undivided attention because I was not getting past him anyway. "Yes sir." "Do you have a second?" Here it comes..."I just wanted to tell you that I have come in here since the 1980's and when I first started coming with my friend I was Church of Christ. He convinced me to become Episcopal. We have continued to come into the store a couple of times a year." "Oh. That is great." Then...it surprised me..."Well, I am now studying to be Catholic. I am taking RCIA classes and I wanted you to know that this store has been a large part of my journey to the Catholic Faith." Well, I thanked him for sharing that, truly thanked him and found myself crying as I spoke. I was completely choked up.
You see, my mom has done such an amazing job keeping this Catholic Bookstore up in Nashville against the odds. I say that because when she bought it from the Diocese and enlarged it to the four story building it sits in today, it was really a leap of faith. The percentage of Catholics at that time was I believe 2.5% in Nashville and it may be 7% now. She was very careful to make the store a place for everyone, of all faiths and of no faith. Today there is a flashing sign right in front of me, actually blocking my way, that says that her hard work, her prayer, her belief in the mission, her faith, our God, has made a difference. It was humbling to hear this man speak of his journey, to share his story, to include the store. Completely humbling.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Forest For the Trees

Path thru the Gates
We had a new priest Sunday from the Josephites in New Orleans. May I say, what a delight! Our Parish has been very fortunate in that because our pastor has been on leave for an extended time, we have had visiting priests who have all brought their own flavor to the Mass, of course, including the homily. Some chant, some don't, some speak very good English, some don't, some follow the same way as far as the mechanics, some don't, but they all make us pay close attention for some reason or another and they all wake us from the sometimes regular Mass (although I know no Mass is really "regular"), same voice, same motions, similar lessons we have come accustomed to hearing. And, that has been a beautiful thing, for me at least. Anyway, to the point...

Fr. John opened his homily Sunday with the old saying, "can't see the forest for the trees". He used this to make the point that neither the elders who prophesied with Moses nor John could see that the men who were working outside "their" groups were still doing good. They were so busy nit-picking the fact that they were not "one of them" that they couldn't see the good work happening. This hit me right between the eyes because I had just sat with a small group, each of us bemoaning some nit-picky person or thing in our lives that just wasn't working with us. You know, our way. As the priest spoke, it hit me how important it is to look beyond the person, the place or the thing and see the big picture. For all we know, God has sent us that very occasion as an aide to get us one rung up on the ladder to Heaven. The very person, the very thing in our lives that drives us absolutely out of our minds, could be who or what we should be the most grateful for in such a way that how we handle it or him or her could make for a wonderful spiritual encounter. Hmmm. Something to truly ponder. What is the big picture for me? How can I trim down all those trees and prune away all those branches so as to find a path that will guide me in the right direction? Through the gates? Not necessarily an easy path, but once found and surrendered to, a path to complete happiness.

Unlike the football fans, I've loved our replacements and yet like those fans, I will love having our pastor back.