Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Friday, June 23, 2017

{SQT} VBS Week

It's Friday (YAY!), so it must be time for Seven Quick Takes, hosted by Kelly at  This Ain't the Lyceum
Since I "don't work during the summer", Sister asked me if I would be able to help with Vacation Bible School this week. I, along with another lady, was in charge of getting the snacks together and getting them to the kids. It's been a great week! The program that we're using has everything: activities, stories, crafts, music, and snacks that are all centered around our theme, Apparitions of Mary.  Since every group but one has been to the story room before snacks, I had to tell them about the "Apparition of the Day". By Wed., I realized that I need to do a quick read the night before to make sure I know what I'm talking about!
Monday's Apparition was Lourdes, which some of the kids thought was "Lord". (Southern accent!) When we were planning the snacks, one of the activities looked really cool: a little bit of powdered pudding, a little bit of milk, and a drop or 2 of blue food coloring, all in a ziploc bag. When the kids squished the bag to mix it all up, the "water" (blue food coloring) came to the "top of the ground". It looked good on paper!  What we should have done was make the pudding ahead of time, put a little bit in each bag and put a drop of food coloring in between the spoonfuls of pudding. Then when they squished the bag it would turn blue.
The other snack we had was cheese & crackers in the shape of a decade of the Rosary.
Cheese & Crackers arranged to look like a decade of the Rosary
I was amazed at how many kids had no idea what a Rosary is! No wonder we're losing people!
I wasn't there on Tues. due to a couple of previously made appointments, but it was "Fatima Day". The kids at least had heard of her since our parish is Our Lady of Fatima. For snack, we found (on Pinterest) some cute crackers & cheese put together to look like a sun. No one took a picture of the finished product, but I asked some of the kids how it went & they said they really liked it.
From Creative Food
Wednesday was "Our Lady of Guadalupe Day".  We made sombreros using round crackers, canned cheese (for decoration), and a grape in the middle. We also made a Juan Diego with a tilma using a pretzel rod & a fruit roll up.
Juan Diego with a sombrero and tilma
Thursday was "Our Lady of Knock Day". Snack was a crown using round crackers, cream cheese and goldfish.
Photo courtesy of Luis Ramos
Our original plan for Thursday was to let the kids put the crowns together themselves, but we decided that some would just want to eat the ingredients instead of getting the full effect of the crown, so 4 of us got them all ready. We had a few kids who said they didn't like cream cheese, so we asked them to try 1 little bite. Some ended up liking it; the ones who didn't were given crackers & goldfish.
If I had to do this over, I would use a cookie and frosting, then use the graham cracker goldfish.
1 of the women brought some tamales to share. Oh...MY, it was good! This was definitely one of the perks to being Catholic: Having a Hispanic sister bring tamales!
2nd breakfast of tamales
AH....Friday at last! "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Day"! We made scapulars out of brownies, frosting, pretzel sticks for the crosses, and twizzlers for the string that attaches them. One of the ladies made the brownies on Wed. before we left for the day. Some of the kids who weren't going to be there on Friday were a bit disappointed.
Our music director is a young guy who is just fantastic. He's so talented, and has the talent of making music fun for everybody, no matter what your age. I would have loved to have shown you a clip of the kids, but apparently that's frowned upon!


How does this compare with Vacation Bible School at your church? Do you, or have you ever helped?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How My Faith Helps Me With Grieving

I was speaking with a young adult one evening when he received a text informing him of his great-grandfather's passing. I gave my condolences by saying "I'm sorry", which sparked a conversation between the 2 of us. We spoke of what part our faith plays in our grieving.
Two very different passings
Why do people say "I'm sorry" when expressing their condolences, especially in the case of the elderly? I don't know how many people told me that when my father passed away. He was terribly lonely, with my mother passing away almost 3 years earlier. In fact, he was just miserable, he missed her so much. He was ready to go, and had been for several months.  When people told me they were sorry, I responded with, "It's okay. He lived a long, full life. He was ready to be with Mama."
As I thought about writing this post, I came across a passage in Matthew Kelly's book Resisting Happiness. As I read page 62, I thought of my mother: She passed very unexpectedly. We (my siblings and I) expected that she would live the end of her days in a nursing home since she was showing definite signs of dementia. But, as someone pointed out to me, God is a merciful God. He called Mama home before her dementia was such that she didn't know us or Daddy. I had conversations with my father about that same thing. God showed all of us so much mercy by not making us live through that experience.
My father's passing was the total opposite, but again, God showed us all mercy by not allowing his illness to linger. He didn't suffer with his congestive heart failure long: He went into the hospital on Jan. 1 and passed away Feb. 1. That's another reason why I tell people "It's okay".
I miss both of them terribly, but I know I have 2 more people in heaven praying for me and my siblings. They weren't perfect, but they were just about the best parents anyone could pray for, and I can't even begin to tell you how blessed I am that God chose me to be their daughter. That gets me through those times when that hole in my heart seems enormous.
It's not them
After my mother passed, I went to the cemetery with my father pretty regularly, although it dwindled as the months passed. The cemetery is on a very busy highway & I was concerned that he may have an accident. I have to admit that, since his passing, I've only been to their graves a few times. Why? Because that's not them; they aren't there. All that is there is a shell in which their beautiful souls were encased. I don't go to their graves to "talk to them"; I talk to them all the time throughout my day. I don't think about their bodies deteriorating; that's not them.
In the May issue of Magnificat (p. 419), I read the following:
That sums up how my faith helps with grieving. I think flowers are beautiful, especially dogwoods and Bradford Pears, but it seems that the blooms are gone with the blink of an eye. So it is with our loved ones. God places these beautiful people in our lives, and, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it seem like they're gone with the blink of an eye, too? Even if you're fortunate to have them for many years, when you look back it seems to have gone too quickly.
Faith and hope
I was so very fortunate to have had my parents with me for so long, and that they were healthy in mind and body. I'm not going to sugar coat it: There are many tears, and there is a huge hole in my heart where they once were. Their passings give me hope; my faith that they passed to me confirms that hope.
So, when someone tells me she's sorry for my loss, I have to wonder if what she really means is that she is sorry that I'm grieving, because I know my parents are in heaven, smiling down on me, and saying "We did good".

Friday, June 9, 2017

{SQT} 7 Materials to Help You Reflect

With the internet, there are so many options to use for reflecting on Daily & Sunday Readings. These are what I have found helpful. Some can be delivered right into your inbox.
Catholicmom.com isn't only for moms. There's something for everyone on this site whether you're single or a dad. Their Daily Reflections are short and to the point. 
Blessed is She is another reflection that can be delivered daily to your inbox. While some of them are geared more toward the younger crowd, they are usually well-written and connect the readings to every day life.
ePriest's reflections begin with a prayer, petition, then 3 main points for the Gospel, followed by another prayer and ending with a resolution.
The Catholic Company doesn't have reflections, but they do have morning offerings, daily meditations, links to Mass Readings (from USCCB) and Homilies, as well as the daily saint, devotions, and links to daily prayers. Just be aware that if you sign up, you'll also receive offers from them.
The Word Among Us can't be sent to your inbox, so I sometimes forget about going to this site. (If you subscribe, you may be able to have the daily meditation sent; I don't subscribe, so I'm not sure.) It's actually very good; another short reflection that connects the readings to every day life.
Catholic Study Bible. This is the one I have, but really, any of them would do. Read the readings, and read the footnotes. Read what comes before and after the Gospel for that day/week.
A friend of mine just made a Mass Notes Journal (pdf format). Someone else made the comment that it will be great to take to Adoration. This can be used throughout the week. Included are Homily Notes, Scripture References and questions, goals, moments of grace, a place for art, a thankful page, help me page, prayer requests, and faith in action. It's a great way to reflect on the whole week using the weekly Readings.
If you have a Spiritual Director, this would be fantastic to take with you when you receive direction.

She has made it available to everyone, for free. There is a choice of 5 different covers. I put mine in a notebook, but you could bind yours. She thought of everything: She has 2 versions: Sermon Notes Journal and Mass Notes Journal.
If you would like to download it, click HERE

What do you have delivered to your inbox for reflections?


I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

{Pentecost} Eucharistic Adoration Doesn't Have To Be Silent

Last week, I was looking forward to my hour of Perpetual Adoration. I took my notebook; I was expecting an hour of silence and some time to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me with this post. Well, God has an incredible sense of humor, and he let me know right away who was in control.
The past few weeks, I've had the Chapel all to myself for the hour, so I was expecting the same this time. I walked in, and there were no fewer than 6 people already there. I love to go to Adoration when no one else is there. I know God can listen to everyone at the same time, but I'm selfish. (Even though I'm in my mid-50's, my 9 siblings still use the word "bratty" to describe me.) I like knowing that I have his full attention. I get more distracted when there are other people in the Chapel than when I'm alone. I was a little disappointed, but I made the best of it. I pulled out my Rosary and closed my eyes, trying to concentrate. You can probably guess what happened next: I came this close to falling asleep. Small victory for me: It didn't actually happen...this time.
Following the Rosary, I pulled out the readings for Sunday, as well as my notebook. The First (Acts 2:1-11) and Second (Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13) Readings didn't appear to meld together.  As I looked over my notes, it clicked. There were individuals coming together to gather within the apostles and the Jews. Each individual had their own God-given talent; each is unique in what they bring. Just as a body can not completely function without the other parts, the Church is unable to function without each individual bringing his/her own talents. When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, it wasn't to make them all the same. Each individual had a job to do, and that job perfectly fit the talents and strengths of that person. When you stop and think about that, it's just incredibly amazing. The apostles were suddenly able to speak in other languages; my guess (I'm not a theologian and didn't read this anywhere) is that the language(s) they were able to speak were in the native tongue of where their evangelization would take them. The Jews who were gathered were amazed. Even within that group, even though they heard the apostles speaking in their own language, there were doubts and talk of "too much new wine" (Acts 2:13).
The reading from Acts is the image most of us probably have in our minds when we think of Pentecost.  The Gospel Reading (John 20:19-23) confused me a bit. Is this a different account, a different perspective, of the First Reading? As I read the notations in my Catholic Study Bible, it is mentioned that the verses from the Acts may not have been that dramatic. Could Luke have embellished what really happened? Or, were these 2 completely different events?
As the last people who were "sharing" the Chapel with me left, one woman remained. We've shared the Chapel before, so I felt very comfortable being there with her. As soon as the door closed, I spoke up and asked her opinion on what I was thinking. We read the 1st Reading and the Gospel out loud, and then went back and read the passages before them to see if we could understand them. Did I feel bad about talking out loud in the Chapel? Absolutely not. I truly believe that this is part of what the Holy Hour is about: growing in fellowship for His glory.
We may not have answered the question correctly, but we came to an understanding of the timeline of the First Reading and the Gospel. After reading both passages and having some discussion, we came to the conclusion that the passage from Gospel came first: since Jesus appeared to the disciples, this would have taken place before the Ascension. (This passage also gives the explanation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.) Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, but in the passage from Acts, the Holy Spirit descended upon them.
Our conclusion, right or wrong, is that the First Reading and the Gospel depict two separate events. I left Adoration with a song in my heart. The hour was vastly different than I expected it to be, but sometimes God does that to keep us on our toes!

Friday, June 2, 2017

{SQT} Keeping it Light

I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes. 
It's summer vacation in my neck of the woods; it's time to take it easy & keep things light. Enjoy!
(The following pictures were grabbed from Pinterest unless where otherwise noted.)
Fidget spinners are all the rage. They've been around for a loooong time!
From uCatholic: This is a story about a monastery's newest member. You can read it here.
You have to at least chuckle at this one!
Get it? 
In the South, there aren't a lot of us around, so this is so me; especially when I saw someone in a deli with a Benedictine Medal.
Q: How do you beat that? A: You don't even try!
The first time I heard this was last year when Fr. Leo Patalinghug spoke at our CCW Convention.

1 more thing. Did you know Pope Francis does ride-a-longs? I found this on Amazon the other day when I was looking for something else:
Have the Pope keep you company while running errands.
They are currently out of stock, but keep checking...they'll have some more soon!  (Thumbs Up RW-POPELHD Ride with Pope (Left) ) 

If nothing else, I'm at least getting 7 Quick Takes in on this blog! I have a couple of ideas for future posts rolling around in my head, so check back next week for at least one of those.

Friday, May 26, 2017

{SQT} An Empty Nester School Employee's Summer List

On Fridays, Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum gives us a chance to spurt seven things out. Some do lists, some do randomness. Some weeks I link up, some weeks I don't. This is one of those weeks when I do.
Exactly what do school employees do during summer break? When my boys were still at home, my list would have looked very differently than it does today. I'll break down what an empty nester school employee's summer looks like.
The first thing I did after our last day was....(drum roll)...attend a tech conference presented by our school system. Yep, that's right. Contrary to popular belief, we don't really get our summer's off. The payoff is that I now get an extra day off for Fall Break.
I allowed myself this week to just veg out and decompress. I've promised myself to get away from Speech Therapy-related things this summer. That means resisting reading blogs and looking at Pinterest for speech things. Things will start gearing up for me next week. 
I'm getting ready for a kitchen remodel, so there's going to be all kinds of craziness around here. The kitchen is the last thing we need to update in our 1960's fixer-upper, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Then we can start on the outside (like the driveway, which is in desperate need of a re-paving!) If you're interested, I'm starting Thursday updates on my Life in a Small Town Blog. 
This is what my kitchen looks like right now. See all the crap junk on the countertops? I can't wait until I have a place to put all of that!
Hulu/Netflix binging. So far this week, I've caught up on Designated Survivor, Sherlock, and The Last Kingdom. If you like Vikings, then you'll enjoy The Last Kingdom. I think it's one of the best shows out there that people don't know about. Another one is Underground. My husband & I started watching Season 2 the other night. If the Underground Railroad is an interest of yours, you'll enjoy this series, too. It airs on WGN, but, since we don't have cable, we watch it through Hulu. There are no bad actors on this show. Definitely one to put on your watchlist!
Read. I am in the middle of several books: 
The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood): I finished this the other day. Weird. Would not recommend.
Resisting Happiness (Matthew Kelly): How could I not recommend a book from Matthew Kelly? This has me thinking about how much I really do resist doing things. It's also getting me off of my rear to do things I should be doing.
Getting Past Perfect (Kate Wicker): This is a Catholic Mom's read. Even though the author has children at home and I don't, I'm enjoying this book. It's helping me to realize that it's okay that I wasn't a perfect mom when the boys were home.
The Shack (Wm. Paul Young): I started this a few months ago and put it down. I just didn't have time. I'll pick it up when I finish the 2 listed above.
Plan Cee (Hilary Grossman): This is a sequel to Plan Bee. She has also written Dangled Carat. If you're looking for some good beach reads, check these out.
Writing. I have several (ahem) blogs: a personal blog, a professional blog, a camping blog (that is supposed to be a combined effort, but I can't get my husband to write a post!), and this one. I haven't had time to write; there have been other things taking precedent. Oh, but summers are for writing!
I prefer to go outside on the porch with my laptop, but there are days when I need to be inside.
Dust off my camera. I could spend hours on my porch watching these little ones:
I love watching these little territorial birds flying around, chasing each other.
It always takes me a while to get that perfect setting, but once I do, I click like crazy! There's no telling how many pictures of birds, rabbits, and squirrels I have! The past couple of years, we had some birds visit who didn't realize they weren't small hummingbirds.
I haven't seen any of these guys around yet.
Travel. I have the travel bug. Unfortunately, there won't be much of that this summer (see #2). I do, however, get to take my first trip to New Orleans. The bad news is that it's for a conference. The good news is that I won free registration at our state conference. More good news is that I'll get to spend a day or 2 with 1 of my sons. The bad news is that it's in July...with the heat and humidity. NOLA in July, y'all. I'll be thanking God every minute of the day for air conditioning! 

That's my list of summer plans. Even though I'm swearing off speech things, I do have that conference to attend, and the Friday after I get back I have another professional-related inservice to attend. I may write a blog post or 2 on my professional blog, if the spirit moves me! June is my month off; in July I start gearing back up for another year. 
How does this compare to your summer?




Sunday, May 21, 2017

{Sixth Sunday of Easter} Seeing the Holy Spirit

This Sunday, it was the 2nd reading that reached out to me. (1Peter 3:15-18) One of my sons and I had a discussion the other day about being a situation where someone was questioning his beliefs. He said he had an excellent answer, but he wasn't sure where it came from. I told him it was the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever had someone ask you a question about your faith, and were able to give an amazingly great answer that left you scratching your head? It's happened to me before. Sister said that there are times when someone will tell her what she said to him/her, and she says, "I told you that?"  The Holy Spirit will sneak in and give you the words you need to defend your faith. 
Pentecost is in a couple of weeks. Just in case you haven't noticed it, the readings for the past couple of weeks are preparing us. Just as with the apostles, the Holy Spirit descends upon each of us when we most need it...we just may not be aware of it. Most of the time, we don't even have to call on it; it's just there. It's what's in our heart. It's there, and we don't even have to think about it.
I'm not a believer in coincidences. I do, however, believe that the Holy Spirit's hand is in those instances that appear to be coincidences. We, as a society, are so quick to write it off as a coincidence. There is a purpose for every minute of our lives. What we do with that purpose, and how we relay it is up to us. 


Those little temptations that the Devil likes to put in our brains can be wiped out with the Holy Spirit. When I'm trying too hard to put words in a blog post, I'm not allowing the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and help me say what I need to say. I have to take a deep breath, and invite the Holy Spirit in. After that, I don't seem to have any trouble with what I'm saying.
Call upon the Holy Spirit the next time you feel anxious about anything. Then prepare to be wowed and amazed!
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