Nine Days of Prayer = A Lifetime of Happiness

Here we are, four days post-wedding, and I’m feeling that letdown that happens after months of frantic activity. Since the first of July, I have followed a strict daily list – adding, rearranging, and checking things off each day. Now, I’m not sure what I should be doing with my days! Fortunately, I already have a bit of an outline (in my head, of course) for my next book, and the manuscript is formatted and ready for me to begin weaving my tale. Once my house is finally put back together and all loose ends are tied up, I will be back at my desk for eight to ten hours each day. I will still have my checklists, but they won’t be hyper-focused on wedding planning! One thing I know I will still follow from those many checklists is saying a daily novena. I’ve never been a novena person. My grandmother used to say them all the time, but I just never thought about adding one to my morning prayer time.

For those who are not familiar with the novena, it is an ancient tradition in which devotional praying is repeated every day for nine days (hence, the “nov” part). Tradition holds that the first novena was said between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost when the disciples gathered for nine days in the Upper Room and prayed before being sent into the world by the Holy Spirit. Most often, novenas are prayed to ask for the intercession of saints on behalf the person praying or persons being prayed for. Many Christian religions use novenas in prayer.

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That’s How it Should Be

Ken and I started our week by attending the very low-key funeral of a dear friend from our church. As I stood in the pew watching the priests process to the altar, it occurred to me that we are beginning the week with a funeral and ending it with a wedding. I thought to myself, how appropriate.

Though many see death as the ultimate ending, we Catholics see things differently. We celebrate funerals. We don’t have them. We don’t host them. We don’t do them. We celebrate them. A funeral is a celebration, not of one’s life (though we certainly do that, too), but of one’s passing on to the next life. Death is not seen an end but a new beginning. Jesus told us,  “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:2-3).

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I Surrender

Our daughter’s wedding is less than two weeks away, ten days to be exact! To say that planning a wedding during COVID is stressful doesn’t begin to come close to what it’s actually like. It seems like there’s a new snag to deal with every day. However, our family has come to realize that for every bad thing that comes up, something good outweighs and outshines it. And each time I become frustrated and want to scream, Ken reminds me that Rebecca’s wedding day will be a beautiful celebration of love no matter what.

No matter what.

That’s a phrase I keep repeating to myself. No matter what we face, no matter what obstacles or stumbling blocks we hurdle, no matter who is there or not there, our daughter and the love of her life are getting married in a union blessed by God. And that’s really all that counts, isn’t it? They are being married, and God is involved. All of these snags, all of these inconveniences, all of these worries and fears, perhaps they are God’s way of reminding me to stop trying to be in control, that He is involved, that He has this under control, that all I need is to surrender to Him.

I need to surrender and to remember that from the day they met, God has been involved.

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It’s Pumpkin Time!

Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, and we all know what that means…

It’s time for everyone to begin going crazy for pumpkins! 

I will admit that I am a pumpkin loving gal. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin decorations, pumpkin candles, cookies, cakes, and yes, pumpkin spice lattes. I just bought the most adorable pillows for my living room. And I haven’t dug them out yet, but I have even more pumpkin pillows that I like to put on our front porch swing.

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I Will Give You Rest

For the past fourteen years, Ken and I have traveled, about once every eighteen months or so, to our shared cabin in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains. It is a refuge for us, a place where we can lie around all day and read or hike through a field of wildflowers or climb into the sky atop a fourteener.

Uncompahgre Peak, elevation 14,308′

Last week, Ken and I spent several days at the cabin, and it was unlike any other time we’ve spent there, beginning with the drive.

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Your Message to the World

Today, it seems that there is this great desire to be somebody, to gain the praise of millions, to become YouTube or Tik Tok famous. Everyone wants to make their mark on the world, be it for a moment or a lifetime. I think it’s quite natural to want to make a lasting mark, to leave behind a legacy, to create a name that will be remembered forever. We all want to believe that there is more to our lives than our meager, daily existence. We want to feel that we’ve delivered some kind of message to the world.

We’re all looking for a way to stand out, to be noticed for something, to be remembered for something.

But is it possible to make a name for ourselves, to deliver a message to the world, without ever becoming famous?

I truly believe it is, and here’s how we can do just that…

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Finding Peace

A couple weeks ago, we set out on an evening adventure to see the Neowise comet. The outing was a bust. There was too much cloud cover; and, with no visible stars, we weren’t sure we had the right angle. It was a pleasant evening, though, sitting on the dock, listening to music and talking as we waited to see if the clouds would make way for the brightest comet to appear in our skies in over a quarter century. We didn’t see the comet, but we were treated to a beautiful twilight sky, and we certainly couldn’t complain about that!

Though we weren’t able to see Neowise that night, we were undeterred. We looked at the weather forecast and chose another night two days hence. We anxiously awaited our next attempt, and guess what…

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Setting the World on Fire

My middle daughter leaves this weekend to head back to school for her senior year. She’s so ready. She misses her friends, her studies, and her routine. She wants what we all want–for life to return to normal. Of course, normal is very relative these days, and her final year in college will not resemble anything she has come to know as normal. Still, she’s excited to embark on this transitional journey of senior year.

I remember my senior year of college. I was so certain of what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to work at the National Archives, doing research, writing papers, and recording and preserving history. That desire came about gradually over the course of my four years. I had gone to college determined to be the next Peggy Noonan, writing memorable, quotable speeches for future presidents. My love of history won out over my love of politics, and I began seeking graduate programs in historical preservation. When I moved home after graduation, with no money in the bank, I took a job at our local library, hoping to put away enough money to pay for my next degree. I had been accepted into both George Washington and American Universities, and neither was inexpensive. In a move that evidently surprised nobody who knew me, after spending a summer working in our local library, I ended up going to library school instead. Isn’t it funny how a simple summer job can change the course of one’s course?

My story is not unique.

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10,000 Plants

Let me just start by saying, I am the daughter of a master gardener. No, he doesn’t hold a degree or a certificate of gardening, but my father can grow anything. He and my mother have had the most exquisite gardens for as long as I can remember. Even their back deck vegetables are always perfect.

I did not inherit that gene.

For years and years, we’ve talked about planting a vegetable garden, but we always knew it was a bad idea. As I’ve said here before, Ken has always traveled extensively, and in the summer, when he went away, we went with him. We knew we’d never get to enjoy the foods we planted, and we wouldn’t be able to properly maintain and take care of the gardens. When he was alive, my father-in-law brought us beautiful tomatoes (Katie’s favorite) and lots of corn from the farm on which he and Mom lived, and my parents have kept us well supplied with cucumbers (Morgan’s favorite). For everything else, we shopped local produce stands and the farmer’s market.

Then, everything changed…

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Blueberry Lemon Cake

When our family talks about my Great Aunt Sissie, someone always brings up her prize-worthy coconut cake. It’s as much a part of her as the country store she ran and the white hair on her head. Though Aunt Sissie is no longer with us, her recipe will live on through her grandchildren who still get together throughout the year to bake the cake in her memory.

2020 coconut cake
Aunt Sissie (far right) w/ her daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughter, & coconut cakes!

Great Aunt Mary Alice made the best chocolate cake ever. It was a staple at family functions and is in our family cookbook. Thanks, Mom!

There’s something about baking… Read more