My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ewe are Blessed

You're probably wondering what's up with that title?  You may be asking, does she really not know how to spell?  Well I probably don't, but I did deliberately choose to misspell the word "you".  Did you ever notice that in many of the bible stories people are referred to as sheep?  Now for those of you who know me, you know that I am a lover of sheep.  They are cute, cuddly, and baaaa oh so sweetly.  I even have a small sheep collection, but I never liked how people were likened to sheep in the gospels.  After all, we are intelligent human beings who have great minds to reason and think with, we are supposed to use our intellect and not be led around by a prod or staff, right?  

Why then did Jesus say that we are His sheep?  Are we not supposed to think?  Maybe He used sheep because hearding sheep was popular in those days and people could relate to His stories?  Still, it seemed a little degrading to me.  If we are sheep then that it implies that we are not given free will, therefore we need to be led around, right?  If you think about it in terms of the Church then that makes sense.  Don't you ever feel like sheep at Church?  Let's face it, on Sundays we heard ourselves into church, go through a series of rituals, heard through lines, get fed, and then heard our way back to our cars.  Especially now a days with all the new changes to the Mass, it seems even more flock-like just trying to keep up with the other sheep next to you.  

I really struggle with this whole sheep mentality.  We are not sheep, we are people with a choice.  We can choose to follow the crowd or wonder off to so-called "greener pastures" if we want.

So by now you are probably thinking, 'where is she going with this'?  Well let me show you....

I believe when Jesus referred to us as His sheep, and He as our Shepard, He was talking about our love for community, not a state of mind.  In the gospel story of The Lost Sheep, Jesus asks, 'wouldn't a good shepherd leave his flock to go off and find the one who is lost'?  If we live in families, and I'm sure most of us do, we know who the lost sheep are in our lives.  We know which brother or sister has left the faith/family/community and has wondered into unknown territories.  We know if we have a child that maybe doesn't quite fit in, or tries to fit in too much, we know if our spouse or friend is into things that are no good for him/her, and we know it bothers us and makes us uncomfortable. 

Some people know these things and spend every day worrying about them, but Jesus calls us not to be idle and just pray or worry, He tells us to go after them!  Talk to them, help them, guide them, call them home!  I urge you, do not be afraid to go after those we know are lost.  Too many people take their own life or end up in a life of misery because nobody went looking for them.  

This Christmas, I pray that each and everyone of you takes the time to make amends with those you have lost over the years, and bring them home.  For those of you with children away at college or are married and have moved away, you know there is no better feeling than having your family together for the holidays, please don't forget to welcome that person/persons who seems different or distant into your family/community once again.  Sometimes people only need to know that someone cares about them.  

As a Catholic, I don't believe it is all the rules and rituals that make us Catholic.  No, it is much more than that, what makes us Catholic is the importance we put on community, family, and fellowship; and for that I am very proud!

To all my friends of every faith, lost or found, I wish you a very beautiful and blessed Christmas.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011


As most of you already know, I was blessed to be able to spend the past year and half at home being a mom to my teenage boys.  My whole life I have worked, and/or worked and gone to school, but the last year and half has been a very different experience for me.  Let me start off by saying that I was lucky to be offered a fantastic job opportunity with CC Hodgson Architectural Group (a partner of Dorsky, Hodgson, and Yue) located in Beachwood, OH.  It is more than I ever expected to get in this crazy economy and I truly feel lucky and super blessed!  My "official" title is, Focus Specialist, but we really don't use titles at our company.  The long and short of this unusual title is that I am basically CC Hodgson right-hand, go-to person.  The position involves wearing many different hats, from marketing, business development, to organizing business processes and Staff parties.  It's perfect!  

That being said, I have made some interesting observations about my time off.  During my time home I had always said, "God is wanting me to rest up for something BIG He must be  planning for me."  And of course I was not wrong.  The same week I found out about my job at CC Hodgson, I also found out that I was accepted into the Diocesan Pastoral Ministry program.  For those of you who may not know exactly what that means, basically it means I will be going back to school....again!  This time I will be pursuing my master's degree in Theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Wickliffe.  Sooooo, here I was getting up each morning, looking for work, taking the dog for quiet strolls, making family dinners, then....WHAM!  I am back to working long hours and going to school at night and on weekends.  

In addition to taking classes, as part of the program you must attend what they call "formation."  What is Formation you ask?  Well, I'm not sure I got it all figured out yet, but when I do I'll certainly write about it.  The best I can tell at this point is that formation is a time when you come together as a group, (there are 4 of us in my formation class), and discern what God is asking of us in terms of sharing our gifts with all of you!  Also, they try to pull you out of your old ways of thinking and doing and try to give us a new way to think and do.  We mostly meet on the weekends which sometimes conflicts with my sons football or soccer games, so I do feel king of torn at times.  

My life went from peaceful and restful to full blown craziness literally over night!  But some of the things I noticed now that I am back in full-swing, is how great the people I work with are.  They are all so understanding of my commitment to my faith, they support my education efforts and especially my ministry in El Salvador.  My first day on the job I was literally so nervous that I prayed, "God, I have no idea if this is what you want me to do.  I feel like I am betraying you by going back to work full-time, so please, help ease my nerves by giving me a sign that I am where you want me to be."  I walked into my new office area (the architects have a very open floor plan), and I introduce myself to the architect who is sitting next to me, who apparently read my bio that my boss sent out to each of the employees, and says, "hello, my name is Rene and I am originally from El Salvador and I am very impressed with what you do down there."  I instantly felt a huge relief.  I knew that was the sign I had been asking for.  Ever since that moment I have felt comfortable in my new job.  

Also what I have learned is that God knows what He is doing.  And I knew God knows what he was doing because I never took one minute of being home with my kids for granted.  I cherished every second and was thankful each and every day.  I did not worry (too much) about where I would work or what I was going to do because I knew God wanted me to enjoy that rest He had provided...and I did!  Now, I really don't know where I am going to get the strength to work all day, go to school, go to formation on the weekends, be a mom, a wife, a daughter to my sick mother, a friend, a sister, and most especially, a child of God. But I do know that I don't have to worry about it either.  The God who gave me rest will give me strength as well.  

After my second week of work and school I was so exhausted coming home from school at 10:30 pm one night that all the way home I said, "I just can't do this...I'm exhausted!"  "I am going to drop my class and just work and go to formation."  I had clearly made up my mind.  When I walked in the house my son John and my husband were in the living room and I said to them, "well, I have decided to drop my class because I am killing myself trying to do all of this."  My husband, knowing how hard things had been on me, said, "well, do what you think is best."  But my remarkable son said to me, "Mom, don't quit your class. Nick and I are in high school now and we don't need you to do so much for us anymore. Soon we will be off at college ourselves.  Stay in school because this program will give you something to look forward to when we are gone and leave for college." 

Nothing more was said.  I went to my next class.  How nice of Johnny to think about MY future.  It really was a selfless act on his part and one I will never forget!  

Things always happen for a reason and if you are patient you will appreciate all of them...even those that seem like burdens.  Today and always, I am grateful!    

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What is going on in this country? A back to school message.....

What in the world is going on in this country?  A few days ago my son Nick and I were sitting in the family room when a commercial came on promoting a new reality TV show.  The scenes were atrocious!  It was a show which exposes moms who try to live vicariously through their young daughters.  They apparently sign them up for "exclusive" dance lessons or something and then fight with the other moms who think their daughters are better.  Name calling, fist fights, everything in front of their young children.  After watching the hard-to-take snippet  Nick and I looked at each other and he said, "this is what's wrong with our country."  

Who can argue with that?  Other TV shows like "Jerseylicious, Real Housewives, and Toddlers and Tiaras, portraying women like we are animals who can't think or act rationally.  I believe these kinds of shows are setting women back 100 years.  Gloria Steinem is probably drinking herself into a stooper as I type out these words.  Come on ladies, you're killing me!  

What is becoming increasingly more unbearable is how to explain this to my "young men."  My youngest son John broke up with his girlfriend this past week because she was "cheating" on him.  Whatever that means to 15 year olds.  But the point is, John could not believe what low self-esteem this young girl has that she thinks she has to keep finding other boys to feel good about herself.  The truth is, how can you blame her?  Given what we (and when I say we I mean all women) are being portrayed as in the media it is super degrading.  

Listen ladies, we are strong, beautiful, confident, intelligent, and worth EVERY man's respect.  I promise, I am trying the best I can to raise men who will ALWAYS treat you with respect.  Not every parent pushes their kids to go beyond media expectations, but I do!  I want you young girls to know that there are some good boys out there who want to marry good girls.  They want a girl who will eventually be a good mother to their children and you're not going to get there by acting like a savage.  Times have changed but what has really changed about them?  Are we not still flesh and blood AND body and soul?  Yes we are!  The make up of a woman has not changed.  What's changed is how we are asked to see ourselves.  If media thinks we act like animals then of course we might start acting like animals.  But I am here to tell you that we are NOT animals.  We are good and loving people just confused on how to act good and loving, mostly because we never see ourselves behave that way on television, or in movies, or in politics. Our morality is always challenged.

Nick was 100% right, that IS what is wrong with our country.  Let's show these people that we are more than the sum of our individual parts.  We are not just flesh and blood, but body and soul as well.  I hope this simple letter can convert your hearts more than an episode of Real Housewives.  Have respect for yourself and ultimately for everyone else and maybe, just maybe, the next generation will show my generation we were wrong!  

This message is for all the young men and women who are heading back to school in the next few weeks.  

Keep your dignity and you will keep your self-worth!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don't Worry...Be Happy!

In the summer time I like to participate in a lot of different outdoor activities.  During the winter I usually go to the gym and do pretty much the same routine, but in the summer, well that's when things begin to change!  I will do almost anything outdoors, walk, run, play tennis, swim, boat, hike, bike ride, well, you get the picture...I've really been enjoying this summer, why?

The other day I was sitting outside watching my son play soccer in the front yard and it dawned on me.  I have been home for two whole summers!  Wow!  It was amazing to think that, especially since I have worked my whole teen and adult life.  I thought, "who am I that I get to have this incredible luxury?"  That's what it is you know?  Some people would look at being off of work as a punishment or curse from God, but me, I look at it like it is a blessing!  Never in my life have I EVER been able to just sit on the porch and watch my kids play in the yard.  They are teenagers now, but when they were little I used to dream about being able to stay home with them.  

So, I was talking to one of my girl friends who was telling me about her brother.  She was saying that he has a great job but everyday he worries about losing it.  Another friend was saying that she is so stressed at work because they are laying people off and she can't sleep at night for fear of losing her job. Don't get me wrong, I stress myself out too. I am always like, "what the heck do you want me do God!!" But  I had to laugh because I noticed that people are never happy, those who have jobs worry everyday about losing them and people who are out of work worry everyday about getting one.  We are never happy.  No matter what is going on in our lives we are always worrying.  

I am disappointed in myself when I worry because in my 45 years on this earth God has NEVER let me down, yet I still don't believe He will do the right thing by me sometimes.  We are SO cynical!  What's in gonna take to finally trust...50 years!  God will provide in His perfect time.  My angst and worry won't make things happen faster or better.  If we rush things we usually end up taking a direction that we ultimately will hate!  During this time off of work I discovered that maybe I am called to move on to something REALLY new in my life, something exciting, something I would have never discovered if this opportunity hadn't been here.  This fall I am enrolling in the Pastoral Ministry program with the Diocese of Cleveland.  I have made it past all of the hurdles to be accepted except one.  My final meeting with the Pastoral Ministry board is on July 28th, that is the finally step in this long and arduous process, but when it's over I hope to be embarking on a whole new life for myself, my family, and the community.

I am looking forward to starting something new, a new "career" if you will, but before I do, I promise you that I am going to enjoy every single second God has given me to enjoy this day!  I know that once I start school I will long to have these wonderful summer days back, so I better enjoy them. 

The moral of this story is to remind you that today is all that matters.  What you make of this day is the most important thing because you will NEVER get this moment back.  So take time if you can to sit on the porch, or go for walk, and don't turn down anyone's invitation to do something fun today.  When you have faith your world becomes half-full rather than half-empty.  Faith requires us to remember what God has done for you in the past and trusting that He will be there for you again.  So enjoy what He has given you today.  And if that doesn't help try reflecting on these quotes:

 Peacefulness is an inner sense of calm - it comes from becoming still - in
order to reflect and meditate on our inner wisdom and receive answers. A
peaceful heart is one that is free from worry and trouble. It's becoming quiet
so we can look at things quietly so we can more clearly understand them and
thus come up with creative solutions. It is learning to live in the present.

How beautiful it is to be alive!
                                                         - Henry S. Sutton______________________________________________________________________

Freedom from desire leads to inner peace.                                                                      - Lao Tse                                                                                  ______________________________________________________________________ 

A smile is the beginning of peace.
                                                                      - Mother Teresa                                                                                    ______________________________________________________________________ 

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are nourished.
                                                                      - Ralph Waldo Emerson

End each day with thoughts of peace.  Begin each day with
     thoughts of peace.  Continue thinking thoughts of peace
     throughout your precious day and happiness will be yours. 
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by
      which we arrive at that goal. 

                                                                     - Martin Luther King, Jr                                                                   
When we are present in each moment, the past gently rolls up
      behind us and the future slowly unravels before us.
                                                                           - Rev Richard Levy
Everything you do can be done better from a place of relaxation.
                                                                           - Stephen C. Paul
Life is lived in the present.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is
      yet to be.  Today is the miracle.

It's not the tragedies that kill us.  It's the messes.                                                                                    - Dorothy Parker______________________________________________________________________
Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life
    around it.
                                                                                    - Brian Tracy______________________________________________________________________
Nothing is worth more than this day.                                                    - Goethe______________________________________________________________________

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Honk if you're a "Bad" Mother!

The other night I was going through some old photos.  Some time ago I compiled a collection of pictures of each of my children.  The hope was that I would be like one of those "good" mothers and put them in a fancy scrapbook with neat little sayings and cute little stickers.  But apparently I'm not one of those "good" moms.  In fact, this morning while we were all out to breakfast after church I picked up this little book to browse through with my family while we were eating.  The title read: "Why I Love My Son".  It had all these really touchy-feely sayings on different pages from various moms to their sons.  At first I thought, "how cute, maybe this will be a good way to tell me sons how I feel about them," then I read the third quote out loud:  "I love you son because I can trust you to always make good choices and the right decisions....." I looked up from the book at my 2 teenage boys and exclaimed, "this is stupid, apparently this mom has NO idea how to raise kids!"  They both laughed.

The truth is, I have never been one of those really good moms.  I tell my kids the truth when they are no good at a sport or don't try hard enough, I swear at them when they leave their dirty dishes on the counter or talk back to me, and once I even took a swipe at my son with a knife in my hand (don't worry, he got away).  I don't have hours of footage of my kids little league games, or birthdays, or scrapbooks with their adorable little faces smiling up at me, or even a bumper sticker that reads, "My Son is an Honor Student at THS."  Those are all the things that I guess "good" mothers have.  But I think I do have something other moms might not, I have a relationship with my kids.  We talk about everything, we play games (even poker!), and I do go to all their sports games (almost).  I couldn't be happier with them.  They are great kids with realistic views on life.  The don't expect a pat on the back every time they do the right thing, and they don't expect to be paid for good report cards, and most important, they don't even mind.

The truth is, I would rather be a "bad" mom and take that time I would have spent cutting out pictures and pasting them in books and spend it playing basketball or soccer with my boys. If I had tried to be the perfect mom I know I would have failed. I am too realistic and pragmatic for that.  I wish my boys the best but I still expect the worst.  Summer for most moms who are at home can seem like a lifetime, but for me it is going by in a blink of an eye.  I enjoy every minute with them...even if THEY can't wait to for school start!

I hope I do it better with my grandchildren than I did with my own kids, but until than, honk if you're a bad Mom too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hope: The Greatest of Things

The Shawshank RedemptionImage via Wikipedia
"There's a small place inside of us they can never lock away, and that place is called hope." Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

In the very popular movie Shawshank Redemption, there is a scene in which Andy is sitting in the courtyard with his buddy Red talking about being locked up for the rest of his life.  Instead of despair, Andy tells Red that there is something more powerful, something that not even bars or guards can take from you.  He is talking about HOPE.  He says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies”."  But isn't hope just a word?  Does it really have any practical meaning, or is it just another one of those fluffy, feel good words people throw around so they don't seem so darn depressed?

Sometimes people use hope and faith interchangeably, but they are not the same.  How are they different?


1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.


Verb: Want something to happen or be the case: "he's hoping for compensation"; "I hopethat the kids are OK".
Noun: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Wikipedia 

Read the Wikipedia definitions above.  You will see that Faith is a belief, a complete trust and confidence, where as Hope is a "wanting."  Faith is based on a spiritual fact and Hope is based on a desire.  So why do we need hope if we have faith?  Good question.  The answer in my opinion is because humans have dreams.  I can have complete faith in God and still hope for my hearts desires.  I believe that is what Andy meant when he said, "it is the greatest of things."  If we stopped dreaming, desiring, and hoping, then we stop living.  Another life-changing quote from that movie comes from Andy's friend Red.  He said, "get busy living, or get busy dying."  Hope is the difference between them.

Although most of us do not live behind bars or in confined spaces, we still may feel trapped in our circumstances and hopelessness.  I have been here many times.  When people get "trapped" and have feelings of hopelessness they often fall into depression.  Depression is a result of hopelessness.  It robs of us our dignity, happiness, and dreams.  Without dreams people become lethargic, often described as someone who can't find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  We lose meaning in our life and ultimately energy to live it.  To remain in hope truly IS the greatest of things.  It gives our lives purpose, direction and meaning.

One of the most beautiful descriptions of hope happens at the end of the movie as Red is anxiously riding on that bus to who-knows-where, and he thinks excitedly to himself,  "hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."

Today and everyday try to remember these lines from that very inspiring movie about hope.  Because in the end, no matter how tough things seem today, there IS always.....HOPE for tomorrow.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I have a friend who is very sick.  She is a great example of Catholic faith and love but she is suffering.  I ask myself why?  I'm sure many of us have asked ourselves this question one time or another.  So I pondered on this for some time and while I was taking a shower this morning, it hit me!  I believe when we are alone and still God can speak to our hearts, and this is what was on mine this morning.

There are 3 types of people in the world, the disbeliever (atheist), the mediocre, and the passionate.  The disbeliever is one who has completely given up hope. They go through life repressing their feelings to their creator, they live normal lives, have normal jobs, live in normal homes, but when you are suffering they can not offer you any comfort or hope...they only have knowledge of tangible, wordly things.  

Then there is the mediocre person.  This is the most popular kind of person.  We find them in Atheists, the righteous, religious, and spiritual forms.  Everyone from every walk of life can fall into the mediocre category.  The worst kind of mediocre person is the righteous mediocre.  He thinks he's living out his faith but actually he is just trying to get through the day without ticking anyone off or ruffling any feathers.  A mediocre can be rich or poor, go to church every week, or not at all, they usually have good friends, fun times, nice things, and a job they neither love or hate.  Most people fall into this category.  

Last, there are the passionates.  They live a bold life, they speak truth even when they know it might tick someone off, they love with their entire heart but know they stand a good chance of being stabbed in it.  They have some friends but eventually their friends get tired of them standing on a soapbox and they slowly start to fade away, they stop calling or finding time for their passionate "friend".  Passionate people realize they are different but they can't stop themselves, they love their faith and they intend on living it almost any cost.  They are misunderstood and talked about.  If a passionate person tried to work for a righteous person the righteous person would most probably feel threatened.  They have difficult lives and live through very difficult circumstances, but they can not do it differently, even for someone they love.  They have to be true to themselves and to God.  

So if there is so much suffering for the passionate, why do they do it?  Why don't they just live a mediocre life like everyone else?  Doesn't it seem easier?  And in the end, if everyone ends up in the same place (heaven) wasn't it all for nothing?  In those questions lies your answer.  An answer no one wants to hear.  I believe that when our day comes to meet our Maker and judge, He will give the keys to the kingdom of heaven to those who suffered for him, who lived their faith passionately and proudly, in spite of the persecution from others or the physical suffering.  If they endure to the end, THEY alone will enter the pearly gates.  

Recall the story of Lazarus:

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

We are called to be different, to be a model of Christian love to the world.  In order to be that model we must be different than the mediocre man.  We must be a witness to others.  That's why I believe "bad" things happen to good people, because they are different then you and me, they are passionate people full of love and charity, but mostly they are filled with HOPE!  They hope in the Lord and in obtaining those keys to the kingdom of heaven, something our mediocre minds can not conceive.  

Let us live and love passionately, and if we can't, let us at least admire those who do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Amazes Me the Most this Lent

I have made a very disturbing observation.  It just hit me (probably because it is Lent and God wants to open our eyes to truths during this time), but I just realized that "I'm not in Kansas anymore."  What do I mean?  Well, I was having a very bad day today, among other things, my Mom called me to take her to get her hair done in Twinsburg, I live in Twinsburg but she lives in Macedonia.  Not that that was such a big deal, but my son John is starting school late this week so I had to drive him to school, then my sister called and asked if I could take her shift and pick my mom up from dialysis. Again, no biggie, but I was already scheduled to take her.  Dialysis is in Garfield, and again, I live in Twinsburg, them my husband called and said he had to go to the hospital because his Dad was having surgery, yada, was shaping up to be a really bad day.

But in the midst of this running around I noticed how ungrateful people were.  No one said thank you, or can I buy you a cup of coffee (my Mom asked me to take her to McDonald's where she placed an order and never asked if I might want something).  Anyhow, I am beginning to believe that people treat people like robots instead of people.  What's happened to our culture?  What's happened to human dignity?  Simple courtesy is out the window.  Now I admit that when I am in a better mood people generally seem nicer, or is it that I over look the dehumanizing we do?

Remember the saying: WWJD (what would Jesus do?) well, I'm sure it's none of that!  Why is it so hard for us to thank people?  Is it because we feel entitled?  Entitled to what, being rude?  One of my biggest gripes was with this "friend" of mine.  For seven years I jumped every time he said jump.  He'd ask and I'd do more, and in all that time I never heard one thank you Joyce.  Why didn't I notice it then?  Why is God showing me this now?  As I drove home to prepare our dinner at 7 pm this night I started thinking about that question.  In a way, I'd rather not be aware of rudeness, it's too painful.  On the other hand, maybe God wants me to be aware of times that I am rude, inconsiderate, or stuck up with others.  Still, that is also a painful reminder.

We are only one week into Lent and I already feel my life has been changed so much!  Lent is a time for reflecting on Jesus, turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel.  God is using this time very wisely with me...and frankly, I'm not likin' it too much.  On a brighter note, not all is bad and demoralizing.  The day I came home from a short vacation in Florida, I opened my mail box and found a thank you note...two actually.  One was from my friend Amy thanking me for a gift I gave her children, the other was from a missionary priest in El Salvador.  His was amazing because it was the first time in 7 years a priest there had the kind-heartedness to thank me for the work I do.  Not that I NEED a thank you, but everyone NEEDS to feel valued.  I go to El Salvador to remind the poor that they have value, that they are important, God has taken this opportunity to put me in solidarity with the poor by showing me how they feel when they are not remembered.  It is a blessing from God but a painful reminder none the less.

Fr. Mike's note to me was not just a "thank you for all you do...." like most letters go.  His was thoughtful.  He said, and I quote, "thanks to you and those who support us through you, the future seems a little brighter for the poor, and the people of God feel a little more loved and a little less alone on the mountain God gave them."   WOW!  'more loved and less alone.'  I can't tell you how much hope that letter gave me.  He reminded me why I do what I do.  Not because I need a pat on the back, but because I am commissioned by God, as we all are, to make others feel more loved and less alone.  Maybe I understand this more than some because I often feel less loved and more alone.  I sure wish I had a friend like me sometimes.  Oh wait, I do, his name is JESUS!

Let's try to be Jesus tomorrow, ok?  Let's try to make someone feel more loved and less alone this Lent.  Fr. Mike will never know how much his words gave me new hope.  It came at the perfect time, then again, God always has perfect timing...doesn't He?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

When Parents Age...

As many of you already know, I am the youngest of 8 children, which means my parents are more like Grandparents than parents to me.  By the time I was in high school my father had already suffered a series of heart attacks, which caused me to be nervous every single day of my life.  I would wonder if he'd make to my graduation, wonder if he would be there to walk me down the isle, wonder if he would be there to see my children being born....he was, my father was there for all of those things except the birth of my younger child, Johnny.  My son Nick was 6 months old when my father died at the Cleveland Clinic due to complications of the heart.

During those last few months of my father's life my life became very complicated.  I remember coming home from work and wanting to be with my new little bundle of joy but also wanting to go and visit my dying father.  Each day was like torture for me.  Not having a better plan, I used to come home from work, take Nicholas in my arms and hold him for hours.  I wouldn't put him down until he fell asleep.  Once he was asleep, around 10 pm, I would put my coat on and drive downtown by myself to the Cleveland Clinic to spend some time with my dad.  I usually arrived back at home just before midnight and then I would drop into bed and do it all over the next day. This lasted for several month. Then, a few months after my dad died I became pregnant with my second son John, whom we named after my father, and for those of you who know Johnny, he is EXACTLY like his grandpa!  There is no question that the spirit of John Peters senior transfered to my son, little Johnny.

Today our family is having to deal with our Mother's failing health.  Right now she lives with my sister Jeanna who is a saint for having to keep her!  Three times a week we must drive my mom to dialysis in Garfield Hts (oddly enough that is where we grew up), where she is supposed to stay for a 4 hour treatment, and then we have to pick her up.  I say "supposed" to because she rarely, I mean never, has done it!  After about 2 hours my mom starts screaming and yelling to be taken off the machines immediately!  She throws a fit until she gets her way.  It breaks my heart to see her doing that because she does not realize how caring the people are at the center.  I look at her and pray that I do not end up like that, bitter and angry.  Sometimes I see so much of myself in her that it scares me.

What makes people, especially old people, so angry?  To me it seems that if I were at that jumping off point in my life I would want to be especially kind and loving so that my Father in heaven would gratefully want to receive me.  I have been through a great deal in my life, but I seldom lose hope in people.  Even though my mom is 81 years old I still hope and pray that she changes.  I think, "maybe today she will wake up and feel grateful and blessed and want to be a blessing to others."  I say seldom because there are a few people in my life for whom I am ashamed to say I have completely lost hope.  These are people who I have trusted & valued, or who have inspired me, then, you find out they are a phony, a cheat.  It's kind of like a little kid who has idolized his basketball hero his whole life only to find out he his a heroine addict.  Those kinds of people shake us to our core.  What I've learned about people is that humans have only a limited capacity to love but the good news is, God has an infinite capacity to love. So while we are sometimes unable to love or hope in others, God never gives up I guess there is always HOPE!

We have despair, God has Hope.  We have anger, God has love.  We have brokenness, God has the power to heal.  We have doubt, God has faith in us.  Thank God for God!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Find Perfect Love this Valentine's Day!

As Valentine's Day approaches I wanted to write to you about what I believe love truly means.  There is love here on earth but then there is perfect love.  

I remember growing up in a very small house with 7 brothers and sisters and having no one to talk to.  We can be surrounded by folks 24/7 and still feel isolated.  Why?  Because we have not loved.  I have always believed that I was a little bit different, even as a kid I would rather spend my playtime in church after school praying while all the other kids were on the playground.  I went there to find peace and feel loved.  My home was always buzzing with people and arguements and work of some kind, so I relished the peacefulness of my prayer life.  I believe that sometimes when we feel isolated it is because God is inviting us to seek Him. 

For most of us, we don't feel alive unless we are out with our friends or being thought of by someone. One of the nicest gifts I have been given is the peace I receive from spending time in solitude.  Since I have always been "different," it stands to reason that people may not always understand me or be able to relate to me.  I have a few close girl friends from when I was growing up that have always loved and understood me.  I never have to try and please them or to be someone special around them.  We are just comfortable with one another, but other than a few close friends, I think that many of us feel alone or isolated...and I respect that now.  I actual am happy to be able to be alone...with God.  Maybe you feel the same?  If so, rejoice!  God has called you out of the chaos and drama of those who relish living for themselves.  He has called YOU to Himself, to spend your "playtime" with Him.  Wow, how special is that? 

I am eternally grateful for those people in my life who have loved me unconditionally, I am truly blessed.  But I am even more grateful for those people whom have allowed me to love them, because....

1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Something to BLOG about:

So, my 16 year old son, Nicholas, finally earned his driver's license!  Believe me when I tell you he "earned" it.  I have always felt a little bit sorry for my kids because they have me for their mother, and here is a good example of why.....

Six months ago my son wanted me to take to him to get his driving temps.  Since I have a more flexible schedule I told him when I got back from my trip to Florida that I would take him.  So the very next day after I got home Nick came home from school and said, "ok, let's go!"  So without further ado we jumped into the car, drove out to Mayfield, and went after a temporary license.  Nick had studied hard and was anxious to take the written test but when we got up to the counter to pay, etc. the clerk asked me for my driver's...uh, MY license, um, let's see, I know it's here somewhere...just give me a minute.  Needless to say, I remembered that I had left it in my purse I took to Florida!  Smoke was coming out of Nick's ears but he restrained himself.  We were turned away.  A few days later, with my wallet in hand, Nick passed the written test.  Phew.

Then it came time to schedule the actual driving test.  The first time he flunked (sorry Nick), the second time we had a major snow storm and had to cancel, after all, three is a charm, right?  Not for me it isn't!  We went back to Mayfield to take the test and on our way there I joked with Nick, "so, how mad would you be if I forget my license again?"  "Pretty ticked off!" he replied.   So we pull up to the cones where he was about to take the menueverability test and all of a sudden the instructor calls me over, "excuse me ma'am, but I can not let him take the test today," he said.  "Why the h-e-double toothpicks not (I wanted to say)?"  "Are you aware that your license plates expired 3 months ago?"  I wanted to scream!

Embarrassed, I slithered into the driver's seat and began to drive my poor, dejected son home once again.  We sat in silence for a while but I could see he was furious.  Nick has a way of being able to bite his tongue. So I broke the silence and said the stupidest thing I could have said, "well, you didn't seem that interested in getting your license anyway."  Nick hit the roof.  "Are you kidding me?  You screw everything up.  First you forget your driver's license, you mess up our appointments and now you have plates that expired 3 months ago, you better get your shit together!  It was so funny that as soon as I looked at him he both busted out laughing.  If you know Nick, you know he does not explode too often.  He is so laid back.

That's not the end of the story.  So on our way home we turned down a street close to our house and all of a sudden the flashers are in my rearview mirror.  "What the h-e-double hocky sticks," I said again.  The police officer approaches my window and says, "do you know you are a hard person to get a hold of?"  "Why are you looking for me?" I replied.  Then he begins to tell me my plates expired 3 months ago...yada yada.  I tell him what just happened, yada yada.  He goes back to his car and I turn to Nick and say, "you know he's not going to give me a ticket."  Nick was still fuming and exclaimed that if he didn't give me a ticket he's an idiot.

I didn't get a ticket.

The moral of this story?

Don't expect your kids to be perfect unless you are perfect.  Oh, and girls hate to take care of their cars or anything having to do with cars.

If you are wondering if/when he finally got the license.  A week later I took him to the Garfield location (we got their an hour early because I messed up on the time) and he passed with flying colors!  CONGRATULATIONS NICHOLAS!  I'm proud of you!  Now where did I put my keys???