Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dream: Wonder Struck

Today's challenge was to take twenty minutes to write my dreams if nothing were in the way. What fun! I set a timer so I wouldn't get carried away.  And I labeled my paper "Divine Dreams" as a little prayer before I started. Oddly enough, this kept my list rational, with little "buy this" on it.

I want to get our finances in order. Get our schedule working well. Get everyone healthy. Continue or expand devotion times. There are some smaller items to help these larger dreams happen. Exercise goals, food budget helps, that kind of thing.

I want to plant, raise, and can the produce of a garden. Buy a chainsaw to process all our wood. Fix raised beds so the gardening would be a little easier.

Things that cost money include a small car and travel. We'd love to see Rome. I very much want to take my children all over the USA in tents as my parents did for me.

The majority of my list consisted of home repairs and redecorating. We badly need to replace the dining room floor. The windows need replaced.  Those are major repairs. Christopher is in a pink bedroom and he would rather it be a different color. John wants our storage room for his bedroom. Some major redecorating there. All in all, I finished this exercise hopeful and energized. There's little chance any of this will happen anytime soon, for money is an object, but dreaming leads to setting goals. That's the wonder of a dream!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stillness: Wonder Struck

The challenge Ms. Feinberg has for day 10 is go prepare a favorite beverage and talk to God for 20 minutes. I fixed a mocha coffee with a dollop of whipped cream, set a timer so I would not watch the clock, and settled in to my dining room chair.

This challenge, again, was difficult for me. I'd be speaking with my Lord and suddenly realize I was thinking of my to-do list. So I would apologize, give Him my to-do list and get back on track. We covered many topics. I even gave Him time to speak!

The upshot is I feel hopeful about the new year and the challenges we face. God will see us through somehow. Our financial situation, our children, our health... Everything I worry over will be addressed by far more capable hands than mine. That's the wonder of stillness.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sky: Wonder Struck

I've been waiting for a clear night for this challenge and finally, on the Feast of the Holy Family, it was clear and cold. I spent fifteen minutes outside looking at the moon and the stars. I overlooked some light pollution to do this. I watched an airplane fly over in the night. And I pondered.

I thought of how far God had allowed mankind to come technology- wise. Electricity with which we could "pollute" the night and lengthen our work day.  Amazing! Flying in any manner...incredible! All because God gave us brains and curiosity and ingenuity. What gifts! To be made in His image and likeness!

I considered the stars and the promise made to Abraham. His name was changed and he was given the promise many years before the child of that promise was born. He died before that child (Isaac) had his own child Jacob. He was long dead when Jacob's name was changed to Israel and his twelve sons and thus a nation was born. But Abraham believed. Such faith! And when the real Child of the Promise came generations later He opened the way for me to have that kind of faith as well.

I considered all the promises for which God has been faithful to me. During my first pregnancy I highlighted in my Bible all the verses pertaining to a successful outcome of pregnancy, a healthy child. I had plenty of time, for I was on bed rest for four months.  Then that child was born, at 30 weeks gestation, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. He weighed 2 pounds, 5 ounces. He was in the NICU  for 45 days. And he came home healthy. This year his birth feast day was superseded by the Feast of the Holy Family. He is eighteen years old on this birthday and a good man. Those promises I highlighted all came true. Despite my lack of faith. Or because my husband has the faith of Abraham. He never wavered though I worried.

My husband is another promise God fulfilled. I would be enumerating forever if I tried to count all the promises He has honored. They are as many as the stars in the sky. I a wonder struck by His faithfulness.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Relationship: Wonder Struck

This challenge is to be fully present with someone, fully myself. It consists of both knowing and being known.

I try to live this way with my family. Unfortunately, I am not always available to them. With bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia, I am low energy. I take a nap daily.

This week especially I have tried to give my full attention to my loved ones as they speak. My youngest daughter has benefited from this greatly.

And I have received benefits as well. I tried to be fully present in the confessional this week, making eye contact with Father as he gave me suggestions for right living, listening carefully to every word of Absolution. What a beautiful Sacrament! Oh, the wonder of relationship!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Silence: Wonder Struck

Today's challenge is to sit in God's presence in silence for twenty minutes. Keep a pen and paper handy to write down any names of people who need prayer, verses God brings to mind, etc.

I had a hard time with this challenge. To hush the chatter in my mind... Yes, I was praying, but it was all one-sided. I rarely let God speak to me. A name would come to mind and I was off, like an auctioneer, telling the Lord what He already knows and begging Him to fix things how I think He should. When I could have said, "You know this person's needs; may your will be done in his life" and gone back to listening for my Lord.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. This verse came to me as I was praying for my own family. And while praying for myself toward the end of my time? She looks well to the ways of her household.

As difficult as it was to be silent, no prayer is wasted. I remembered many friends in my time with God. I look forward to trying this challenge again to discover the wonder of silence.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Forgiveness: Wonder Struck

The challenge for day 6 is to forgive yourself. It is obvious Margaret Feinberg is not Catholic. She suggests writing down all the things I find difficult to forgive myself. Give each to God, then rip the paper up to keep no record of wrongs. This is a fine practice, but it doesn't go far enough.

The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation is most effective. The priest acts in the place of Christ, so I can be assured as I confess my sins the vertical relationship between me and God will be set right. Some of the sins I find hard to forgive of myself involve others. This is where Ms. Feinberg's  method falls short. In Confession, however, the priest represents those others and can restore the horizontal relationship that perhaps had been broken years ago with people I am not likely to see again to ask forgiveness from directly.

My usual practice when participating in Reconciliation is to prepare with an examination of conscience. I write down what I will confess. When I have been absolved, have done my penance, I come home with a clean soul to burn that paper in our small grill. And I thank God for the wonder of forgiveness!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Creation: Wonder Struck

The next day's challenge is to get outdoors, finding the wonder of God in creation. And I had just the opportunity! This weekend I led a group of Boy Scouts to Camp Drake and we hiked the Oniquisassippi Trail there.

It was a difficult trail in places, very steep and muddy. My legs are protesting today! But we saw creation. A deep blanket of fallen leaves covered much of the trail. The water of the stream was quite clear. We could see deer tracks in the path and deer rubs on some of the trees. We came across a whole section of trees gnawed down by beaver and saw the lodge they were building. Blue jays were plentiful; and I saw a red-headed woodpecker. The temperature was about 40 degrees; perfect for a strenuous hike. Two doe were seen on this cloudy day.

But my favorite bit of creation were these boys I was with... so many different personalities and perspectives! Crunching through the leaves, offering to push each other into the stream, answering questions about the deer rubs and the beaver activities. Chattering so much the birds we saw were all flying away. These boys had no clue the hike was strenuous; they would have taken it at a run if the old woman that I am wasn't leading most of the way forcing them to pace themselves. They were in awe of the deer they saw.

God made it all. The beautiful weather and land and creature. Each individual wonderful boy. And me. Even I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God. To Him be the glory. I am struck.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hope:Wonder Struck

The challenge for today is to bring hope to the hopeless. Bring someone the wonder of restoration. I'm not sure I accomplished this challenge.

I gave myself a couple of days. Saturday I spent raking leaves with some of our Boy Scouts. I determined to remain upbeat and smiling. Boys talk about all sorts of things!

Sunday I had to go grocery shopping (we rarely hit the stores on Sunday: it is our Sabbath rest day). I kept my manners in the crowded stores, and my smile. Coming out of the last store, I realized I'd not only left the accessory on so the kids could listen to music, but also my lights. The battery was dead.

The hopeless I helped turned out to be my own 10 year old. This daughter took our enforced stay in a parking lot very hard. I spoke to her calmly, told her what was being done to get us out of there. Got all of us some food once the towing service had given us a jump. Later, during our family rosary, this same child crawled into my lap (big as she is) and fell asleep. So I cradled my youngest, babied my my baby, and delivered hope. Challenge met after all.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Beauty: Wonder Struck

Today's challenge from Margaret Feinberg's Wonder Struck ( and it is two words, not one as I have incorrectly been writing) is to use a camera to record the wonder of God's beauty, grace, love, joy, and peace around me. #livewonderstruck

These photos were all taken with my tablet and are attached. The first shows the wonder of rest and the grace of God in the blessing of my husband.

The second photo are three of my children being silly at the dentist's office. The wonder of joy and family.

Third photo: remaining children. Sisters; beauty and grace.

Fourth photo: the joy of new haircuts!

Fifth photo: the beauty of our Advent tree representative of peaceful, yet eager anticipation for His coming... And His coming again. That is how to live wonder struck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Time: Wonderstruck

Today's challenge is to look over my calendar for the next two weeks and consider those activities which fill me with life versus those which just fill up my time. Those which fill with life will most likely awaken me to the wonder of God. I need also to be mindful of the rhythm of my days and the wonder of rest.

As I look through my calendar, I see that for the next two weeks I will be seeing a lot of Boy Scouts! I am an Assistant Leader of our local troop and I am heading up our December outing: Cabin camping at our local Scout camp. We are inviting the Webelos from our local Pack, so I will be telling them all about it tomorrow. Saturday, we'll be raking leaves at a historic site just down the road. Regular meeting on Monday where we will plan our menu for the outing. I have a Leader's meeting Tuesday. Friday through Sunday is the outing then another meeting the following Monday. I also have to buy supplies, load the trailer, and do a light load of paperwork. But the Wonder of God can often be seen in adolescent boys. These items on my calendar, though time consuming, ultimately bring life.

There are also appointments. Mainly with therapists. We believe in mental health and we have great insurance, so we take advantage of that. My husband, my daughters and I all have therapy appointments in the next two weeks. Life-bringing. My kids will all see the dentist and my braces wearing son will see the orthodontist. Necessary appointments that take time. My youngest has speech therapy; falls in the same category. My girls and I will be getting haircuts tomorrow - oh, joy!

And volunteer obligations that definitely open me to wonder... Bible study on Tuesdays. A Catholic understanding of Mary in the Bible. I'm learning so much! And Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Oh, Wonder of Wonders! That our Lord would so humbly disguise himself and feed boggles the mind.

I am way overscheduled  at the moment. As soon as the December outing is over, things go back to normal for us. We're trying to have school through all this. Some days it just doesn't happen (Monday is a regular day off because I try to schedule all appointments that day). Bill goes into the office twice a week as well. Little rest for the weary the next two weeks, but plenty of opportunities to catch the wonder of God.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reflection: Wonderstruck

I've just finished reading Wonderstruck  by Margaret Feinberg. An exciting book, it tells how to awaken and become aware of God in the everyday. At the end of the book she has a thirty day challenge for readers to become awed by the wonder of God.

The first day is a prayerful reflection of what keeps me from noticing God's wonders. I literally sleep through many days. My energy level is low and I require a nap to make it through the day. But rather than set an alarm for a quick power nap, I sleep as long as I can, waking groggy and overtired.  As I take the kids to various appointments and obligations, I'm often thinking of the next thing on my list or worrying about the bank account or health or ... and I miss the glory of God as He reveals Himself on our way.

He reveals Himself not just in creation. I miss Him, too, in the stories of others because I don't take the time to listen anymore. I have always been a good listener; truly interested in people. But lately I am insulated with my family and I assume I know their stories. When out and about I haven't asked people about themselves so I could learn the wonder of God in their lives. Perhaps this challenge will help me change that.

Where have you seen the wonder of God?

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I am in my own bed now, but I just returned from an overnight stay at the hospital. My husband drove me there last night because I was having chest, back, and jaw pain. That earned a night for observation. There were just as many signs pointing away from my heart as were pointing to it; the doctor was being cautious. As we were driving back home this morning, discussing our children, my chest began hurting again. Stress. Anxiety. Our fourth child especially.

We are countercultural. Homeschool. No television. No magazines that emphasize worldly notions of beauty or fashion. We talk about health, not weight. But my eleven-year-old came to me in tears a month ago because she could not shake the thought that she would be obese. My most fit, active child with the fastest metabolism. Eleven. She dislikes the way puberty is changing her body. She skips meals. She exercises... a lot. Eleven!

So. We have found a therapist for her. Got a physical from her wonderful pediatrician to see where she is. We've set realistic goals with her to gain health (and a little weight).  And she came to me saying, "I'm starting to feel hungry again." I told her that was good; it meant her body was starting to work well again. "I hate it!" She broke down in tears. All I could do was hold her. There was nothing to say.

This has struck us broadside. Out of the blue. We were complacent and prideful, thinking our children may have difficulties but we had lessened the chance for certain types of troubles to touch them. But if my eleven-year-old can have a budding eating disorder.... We haven't sheltered them at all. Please God we have given them the tools to deal with difficulties. I don't think my heart could stand it if we haven't.

Please pray for us and for Monica. Thank you.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tuscany Press Revisited

So it was exciting to see my words in someone else's social media! The 21 finalists were announced yesterday. Ultimately, ten will be chosen. " The Penance of Living " was not a finalist. However, I learned so much! And I'll try again next year. And there's still my book to work on. Purpose is good; exciting... and scary. Back to it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tuscany Press

Tuscany Press is a Catholic publishing company which hosts an annual contest for novels, young adult novels and short stories. Just before the June 30th deadline, I submitted a short story called "The Penance of Living".

This afternoon, during a two-day migraine, I decided to check the email piling up in my inbox. I found this:

I'm writing to let you know that an excerpt from your submission to the 2014 Tuscany Prize will post to the Tuscany Press Blog August 7:

It will also be featured in a post on the Tuscany Press Facebook page:

And on Catholic Fiction's Facebook page on the same day:

"Like" the Facebook pages to keep up with all contest-related announcements and excerpts from other submissions. We also encourage you to share these links with your friends and followers.

Now, true, it's not announcing that I won any of the 5-place finishes or 5 honorable mentions. However, Tuscany Press gets thousands of short story submissions. Surely they don't excerpt all of them?  I am excited, in any case, and the news lessened the migraine pain a bit, so it's all good!

I've been feeling the call to write for quite some time. This short story is the first thing I put any significant amount of time into. A book is outlined and well begun. It is being put on hold for a stealth project - hubby and I would like to see my mother-in-love move in with us! Please pray for this endeavor.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fear and Love

So I'm reading Journaling As A Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing by Helen Cepero. I've felt for some time now a nudge from God to write (okay, a brick. A wall thrown brick by brick at me.). And not just journaling, or blogging, but books. But I'm afraid to actually start. 'Cause, what if I fail? What if I succeed? What if ... a thousand other things? In my reading of Ms. Cepero's book I found these gems:

Pat Schneider in Writing Alone and With Others says, "Where there is fear, there is buried treasure. Something important lies hidden - something that matters...." At the intersection of our deepest fear and greatest desire is where God waits for us with the gift of his presence, the hope of grace.The courage required to face our fears will not come to us because we are brave but because we know we are loved. Only by allowing God's love to meet us at the point of our greatest fear will we move from being people of fear to people of faith. When we name our fears and let go, we do not then find courage, but our unclaimed self and God's embrace and love for the very things that caused us such terror in the first place.

In my writing something matters. I KNOW I am loved. I am fearful to begin writing but God is waiting for me there and together we will share His love in my love of writing.