Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


June 2010

Looking heavenward…

O Lord my God,

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all

The works Thy Hand hath made,

I see the stars,

I hear the mighty thunder,

Thy pow’r throughout

The universe displayed;

Then sings my soul,

My Saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul,

My Saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

These incredible pictures (thanks, Zachary!) were all taken within an 8 hour period…amazing cloud formations, a heavenly sunset and magnificent storm, all within the space of just a few hours.  The beauty of living on this earth…in this place, with land so flat and sky so big…our eyes are constantly turned heavenward, but only rarely are we rewarded with sights this magnificent!

In your charity, would you please pray for me?   Surgery tomorrow and a long recovery ahead.  I’m reminding myself that my heart as well as my eyes must be ever turned heavenward…thank you so much for your prayers and friendship!


P.S.  Had a wonderful, joy filled and oh-so-brief visit with my Meredith…photos to post soon!

Don’t you just love it? Small Steps = many blessings!

Excerpt from Small Steps for Catholic Moms for June 25th:



“Make many acts of love, for they set the soul on fire and make it gentle”

St. Terese of Avila


Open my eyes wide, dear Lord.  Let me see all those small acts of love for which you created me.  I want to be your instrument.  Show me where to go and what to do.


Buy some very small silk flowers (three inches high or so).  Set them in your family room or on your kitchen table in front of a glass bowl.  For every act of love, invite your children to put a flower in the bowl.  When the bowl is full, make small bouquets of silk flowers and tie them with thin ribbon.  Put the bouquet in front of statues of Mary you have in your home or take them to church and offer them to Mary there.


Small Steps for Catholic Moms

Ahhh…it’s just that simple.  Such a small way, to encourage acts of love in the heart of our homes.  And that’s all it takes…small steps = many blessings!  If you’ve not yet purchased a copy of Danielle Bean’s and Elizabeth Foss’ Small Steps for Catholic Moms, may I encourage you to do so?  It’s such a sweet devotional…not too heavy, full of beautiful quotes from the Saints and practical suggestions to help us Catholic moms “think, pray and act” in ways that will bless the little things we do, day to day.  In an increasingly complicated world, it’s a nice reminder that smallness is truly the way to holiness…


Fruits of the forest…

Down the short and dusty path…

With a truck load of precious cargo…

The woods beckon…

Shrouded in haze, oppressive humidity…fighting clouds of mosquitoes…braving the thorns…

We seek them…black raspberries!

I thought perhaps I’d miss the harvest, and yet, God in His infinite mercy, offered this precious gift…the gift of an afternoon.  Like glistening jewels, they hang upon delicate, thorny stems.  They do not give up their hold easily…and yet persistence is sweetly rewarded…purple and red stained hands, the badge of honor.

Delicious and oh, so tempting…”snitchers” abound:

The woods…the woods offer us so much!  Fruits of the forest:  mulberries, black raspberries, blackberries, hickory nuts and wildflowers.  Cool and shade…marvels and memories…

To touch, to see, to smell, to hear…to immerse oneself in such beauty…is to live, to experience God in the intimacy and wonder of Creation.  To see, as God does, that what He has made…

is good…


Send in the clowns…

It took every bit of restraint within me, to not laugh out loud in the middle of this morning’s homily…

“Patience untested is not a virtue…” these words struck me like a missile, especially given yesterday’s comedy of errors.

It all began when I arose, much earlier than the rest of the household, and quickly strode outside to say the rosary in the cool, pre-sunrise morning air…I asked our Lord to help me to be patient and kind, to respond with humility and gentleness, regardless the frustrations of the day. Oh, how often have I done that!  Haven’t I yet learned?  Patience is a virtue earned…and you only know you have it when you’re up against the wall…which is, of course, why I continue to pray for it.  Because I just don’t have enough to last an entire day…and every time I turn around, I’m once again, up against the wall.

But I digress…

Prayers thus said, I began the day in a state of optimism…congratulating myself for this and that small victory.  But as the day wore on, and the temperatures rose (and tempers along with them!), I noticed that “edge” creeping back in.  Particularly when my husband, who’d planned to run the afternoon errands for me, said he had to finish up a project.  “Great…” I muttered, under my breath…”I have absolutely nothing else to do…”  This was all said with much sarcasm, inaudibly, but it was still there.  Hardness crept in; humility was not on the menu.   “By the way, can you stop at the Yutzy Market and pick up some sandwich meat and cheese?”  Well, yes, I’d love to have one more errand!!!  This only meant I had to travel to another town, to the Evil Empire (Walmart), a place I’ve been avoiding like the plague.  No politics here, folks…just an ongoing frustration with rising prices, shrinking inventory and Target-esque remodeling efforts that have made for a shopping nightmare.

I went anyway.  In the cool of the car, my temper eased and Zach and I discussed the list of needed items and I reiterated that I had a lot to do and really needed to accomplish our errands as quickly as possible.  He’s super-easy about these kind of things, and before I knew it, we’d picked up a few items and were making our way to the car…

Have I mentioned that my purse is a disaster?  That I have a nasty habit of simply shoving money, papers, receipts, etc. inside without much consideration?  Well…as we approached the exit, a gust of wind snatched my receipt from my open purse and carried it across the parking lot, helter-skelter.  I, in a scatter-brained attempt to retrieve said receipt, abandoned the shopping cart…bags, purse and all, and pursued it, limping like Quasimodo on a really bad day.  A gentleman, watching my (I’m quite sure) hilarious antics, exited his truck and helped snag that wayward paper.  “Uh…miss?  Your cart?”  EEK!!  I’d forgotten!  There it was, in the middle of the parking lot, cars doing their best to avoid hitting it…I’m sure you can picture it, can’t you?  I limp-run for it…and make my way to my car.

And where was my 16 year old son, during my ordeal?  Why, starting the car, of course!  The sideshow attraction was just a little too embarrassing for him, so he decided to make himself useful.

I was, shall we say less than appreciative.  Grumpy.  Grumbling.

Loading the groceries in the backseat of the car, I said “You could have at least grabbed the cart!  Oh, never mind!”  I slammed the car door, and he sheepishly closed the driver’s side door.


Our eyes met.  LOCKED!!!  Keys in the ignition, car running, doors…locked!  It’s one of those built-in safety features that I hate…we’d played this scenario once before in the driveway, at home, with lots of resources to help us break in, but not in a Walmart parking lot…

The frustration…the anger…I could have seized that moment and risen above it, offered instant encouragement but instead I ranted.  “Why?!”  “HOW?!!”  “AGAIN?!”  As I looked into his hurt, and slightly-more-than-angry eyes, I saw my own frustration mirrored there.  Time to back down…regroup.

“OK.  We’re stuck.  Dad’s repairing the truck, so calling him isn’t an option.  How did we do this the last time?”

We discussed how we’d managed to slip a yardstick-sized piece of wood in a gap in the sunroof and pushed it down, down, down to the button that unlocks the car.      We decided we’d pick up something similar inside the store and repeat the process.  “A tension rod might work…and I actually need one!  Let’s go…”  We argued for a bit over the size of the rod.  I felt the smaller, thinner rod would be long enough, but he didn’t.  As he was the one who’d unlocked the car before, I deferred to his wisdom.

A few minutes later, we were back at the car.  The heat index was approaching the upper 90’s, but armed with the rod, a bottle of soda and a bottle of water, we approached the vehicle with renewed determination…only to discover that the larger tension rod was too thick to pass through the small gap in the sunroof.  Oh, how I hated to be right that time!  Zach was furious…it seemed we were beginning to draw a crowd of interested onlookers.  We were quite the sight:  I, holding his pocket knife, prying open the sunroof; he, trying to push that rod through the opening.  It was kind of surreal and not one soul offered to help.  So…back to the store, to get the smaller rod, which we were now certain would fit through the opening, and its adjustable spring would allow Zach to extend it to the appropriate length.

My good young man slit open the bag that contained the new rod.  He measured it against the distance needed and began to adjust it.  CLANG!  The rod fell into two pieces…no spring!! It was defective!

“THIS IS MADDENING!!”  Can you believe this?!  Both of us were incredulous at this point…and I began to think that perhaps the police might have better luck breaking into this car than we…but we persevered, Zachary performing a few MacGyver-like modifications, using nothing more than brute strength, his pocket knife and creativity.

As he prepared to push the rod into the opening, the hilarity of the entire escapade struck me and I began laughing like a loon.  From the mad receipt chase, the abandoned shopping cart fiasco, the twice-failed purchase of tension rods and the rude onlookers…it just struck me as incredibly funny.

“Zach…this is an absolute circus!”  I began humming that crazy circus tune we’re all familiar with.  Zach, one eyebrow raised, says “Yeah…all we need are a couple of…CLOWNS!!!”  He shouted the word “clowns.”  I thought he’d snapped or joined me in the loony bin, but no, he was pointing at the car that had just pulled in.  Right in the middle of my circus music performance, two clowns exited this vehicle.  Complete with big red noses and funny whistles!

You just can’t make this stuff up…

We were dying at this point…trying hard not to make eye contact with the clowns, when Zach gave the rod a final push and we heard the blessed “click” of the door unlocking…

Ah, freedom!  We entered the car and sped hastily out of the parking lot, cranked up the air conditioner and spent the remainder of the errand run reliving the insanity of that half hour.

I shared with Zach my prayers of the morning.  How I’d asked the Lord for patience, kindness, etc…

“Well, Mom…I’d say that experience was an EPIC FAIL!”

Oh, yes…I’d have to agree.  There I was, with my back against the wall, and I decided to turn and run…SMACK!  Right into the wall…again.

Well, I’ve dusted off and sonny boy and I have a really interesting shared experience.  So, perhaps, it’s not such an epic fail after all…


Alphabetically speaking…

To my dearest love:

I am AWED by your AMAZING selflessness, steadfast love and the way you BOLDLY and COURAGEOUSLY proclaim your DEDICATION and EXTRAORDINARY FAITH…

Your GOODNESS and GENEROSITY are apparent to all who know you well.  You clothe yourself in HONESTY and HUMILITY.  INTELLIGENCE, JUSTICE and KINDNESS are your armor.  You LOVE with your whole heart, asking nothing for yourself…

You are a MAN’S man…there is very little that is beyond your abilities, as you demonstrate on a daily basis.  NOBLE in purpose and OBEDIENT to the will of God; PATIENT in ways that I am not…you inspire me to be a better woman!  Your QUIRKY sense of humor brings laughter and joy to our household…

Your sons and daughters are blessed to have the very best ROLE MODEL…how you love them!!

I’ve never had to doubt your SINCERITY and have been blessed to lean on those STRONG shoulders of yours on so many occasions…you are TIRELESS in your desire to comfort and console…

Your UNSWERVING, UNDYING devotion to God, family and country is inspirational.  VIRTUOUS:  the true, the good, the beautiful…I see these things mirrored in you as you kneel in prayer at weekly Adoration and Mass…

WONDERFUL…need I say more?  I need only ask or suggest a need and you are so quick to fill it!  Your eXUBERANCE and YOUTHFUL vitality are the fuel that feed your ZEAL and ZEST for faith and life.

Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart!  You are a gift every day, in every way and I praise God that you are in my life…


Lazy, hazy, crazy days of soon-to-be summer!

It never ceases to amaze me.  It’s not quite June and yet summer, in all it’s heated glory, is here…at least according to my thermometer!

We’ve been so very busy…preparing our home for the Grands, spending many lovely days and nights in their company…days of BBQ and beer…sunning and swimming…laughing and loving.  Hazy, hot and humid days; magnificently stormy nights…all part of the beautiful web of memories, woven to sustain us until the next visit.

Until then, we’ll spend our days in the pool.  And in the garden; green and thriving, lettuce to harvest, and tiny new potatoes.

In the woods…the mulberries are ripe and delicious and the black raspberries are nearly ready.  I’m soaking up every bit of spring and summer I can…in twelve short days I have surgery and will lose the rest of summer and fall.  At least, I’ll lose the freedom to enjoy it as I’d prefer, all in hopes of many much more comfortable days thereafter.  I’m sure you’ll forgive me for the scant posting…the computer just hasn’t been a priority, though I’m sure in the days to come you’ll hear from me a good bit more…hopefully without too much whining ;-D

Until then…enjoy the days, the nights, the sights, the sounds, the beauty of this season.  That’s what I’ll be doing!


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