Blessed Among Women

Me With My Mom and Brothers

What a difference a year makes! Last Mother’s Day, I cried most of the day. I had not seen my mother since Christmas, and I’m used to seeing her a few times a month. It was even harder because my brothers live close to my parents and were able to stop by, but I am two hours away. I knew that others had it worse than I did, and there are some who are just now seeing their families for the first time in over a year, so I count myself among the very blessed. However, I’m still the happiest girl in the world that I got to spend Mother’s Day this year with my mom, the most special person on earth.

I know, you’re all thinking, my mom is the most special person on earth, and I bet you’re all right.

Mothers teach us so much…

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Better than Chuck E. Cheese

Rebecca as an award winning actress

There was a beautiful, tear-jerking scene toward the end of last week’s This is Us (I know, right?) in which Kate calls her mother to thank her for giving the three “triplets” a childhood in which they never knew they didn’t have money. She told her mother that their homemade Halloween costumes and big, backyard birthday parties with homemade cakes “were better than at Chuck E. Cheese.”

Boy, can I relate to that, and I think my girls can, too, if not now, then when they have kids of their own.

Until my girls were in high school, I made every Halloween costume they wore. They were simple and inexpensive and were often made of materials we had around the house or purchased from the Dollar Tree. Despite all that, the girls loved them, and some even brought home trophies, winning accolades over the most expensive store-bought costumes or the hours-long, detail-oriented ones of Pinterest fame. Even thrift shop dresses and grandma’s old stole can turn an ordinary girl into an Academy Award Winning Actress (who traded her Oscar for a Prettiest Costume trophy).

My mother taught me to a make what you can, buy what you must, and use more imagination than money, but the key ingredient was always love. Mom loved us, and she loved showing us how much she loved us, not by breaking the bank, but by putting her heart into whatever she did (and still does).

And something else Mom taught me is something that I can’t help but wonder if so many moms have forgotten in the past several years: The more you spend on something…

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The Family that Eats Together…

“Grandma always gathered her family for Sunday dinner, transforming the old scratched oak table into a royal banquet… Those times are long since past, and the old oak table now sits in our sister’s kitchen…but when she places a crocheted doily on the table and spreads an array of desserts and wines upon it, we go back in time to the days of our youth and a longing for a time so precious, so dear, that only in our minds can we go” (“Family Sustenance,” Country Home Magazine, December 1994).

Those words were written by my mother and referred to the family dinner table that once sat in her grandmother’s kitchen and now sits in my aunt’s living room where many of our family gatherings are held. Oh, if that table could talk…

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Clinging to Love

When I was a little girl, our family spent most weekends “down in the country.” This was, and still is, how my parents referred to the area where they grew up in Southern Maryland. Though we lived just ten minutes outside of Washington, DC, my parents always thought of St. Mary’s County as home. I came to feel the same way after spending so much of my childhood there. In fact, even as an adult, the dreams in which I am “at home” often take place at my grandparents’ house. My mother tells me that at the end of each weekend, I would cling to my grandfather’s legs and beg him not to let my parents take me back with them. While my parents are THE BEST, all I wanted was to be with my grandparents.

As I got older, I spent many, many weekends and extended summer stays with Granddad and Gram, as I always referred to my grandmother. Much of that time was spent crabbing, fishing, or “helping” Granddad with his tobacco crop.

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A Lifetime of Blessings

Last night, we had the opportunity to have dinner with our now married daughter and her husband at their new home. This is Rebecca and Anthony’s first Christmas living together and the first time they decorated their own Christmas tree. I stood for several minutes and looked at the ornaments from their combined childhoods and thought about all the years we’ve collected ornaments for our girls. It felt odd to see Rebecca’s ornaments on a tree other than our family tree, but it was a beautiful, comforting feeling to know that a big part of her childhood hangs on the tree in her new home. We are still tethered together by tradition even when miles apart.

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2020 – A Year to Be Thankful

2020 has been quite a year. What started with Katie’s Homecoming, my trip to Houston to see friends, Rebecca’s law review presentation, and my surprise 50th birthday party, took a sharp turn into no social events, no in-person school events, and no family gatherings. I keep hearing how bad the year has been, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything with two months left to go, but I realized yesterday that 2020 was a pretty darn good year.

Every year, I make photo calendars for my family. I plug in as many pictures as I can find using my own camera roll, social media, and photos sent to me by others. I highlight different people each month, based on birthdays and anniversaries. I make sure I cover all of the special events each person took part in over the course of the year.

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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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A Journey Towards Something…

2020 OfficeThis past weekend was a bit surreal to me. My oldest daughter, Rebecca, moved out of our house three years ago after graduating from college. Together, we turned her childhood bedroom into my office. It was a bittersweet task as we combed through her belongings, separating them into things she was ready to give away, things she wanted to take with her, and things she was saving for her “real” home someday. That day seemed so far into the future… Read more

Doing Small Things With Great Love

2020 Lil on porch“In every age and in every country we find many “perfect” women (cf. Prov 31:10) who, despite persecution, difficulties and discrimination, have shared in the Church’s mission…the witness and the achievements of Christian women have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society…Holy women are an incarnation of the feminine ideal; they are also a model for all Christians” –Mulieris Dignitatem, paragraph 27.

“Holy women are an incarnation of the feminine ideal.” How beautiful! “They are also a model for all Christians.” How true. This is something I know, something I learned by example, and what a beautiful example I had… Read more