Yet Eternal

As is typically the case here in Maryland, we went from sunny, balmy days, to breezy days and cold nights in the blink of an eye. One day, it was eighty-five degrees, and the next, it was fifty! Fall is certainly here, and according to the national weather map, that’s the case across the country. Along with pumpkin spice lattes and the sudden appearance of corn mazes and apple cider ice cream, we’re turning our focus to warm fires, cozy sweaters, and fast approaching holidays.

The leaves are beginning to change, and the days are growing shorter and shorter with less daylight in each twenty-four period. My evening walks are now late afternoon walks, and we’re turning in earlier than we were just a couple weeks ago.

I like to think of fall as the time of year when we recharge. It’s the chance to snuggle under a blanket, sip from a big mug of hot chocolate, and take Sunday afternoon naps. There seems to be a kind of lull between the busyness of the summer and the rush of the holidays where we can just take a deep breath and gaze at the world around us.

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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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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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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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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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Like Riding a Bike

2020 BikesWhen I was a kid, I spent a lot of time riding my bike. I rode to my friends’ houses. I rode to the neighborhood park. I rode with my brothers in the woods behind our house, up and down the rock hill and along the trails. I rode with my mom on days when we girls just wanted to get out on our own for a short time. When I was in high school, my boyfriend and I frequently rode bikes on sunny summer days.

Several years ago, we bought bikes to take with us on camping trips. Every now and then, I’d ride mine around our little fishing village but not often. Over the lockdown this past spring, we all lowered our bikes down from the rafters of the garage and tried to take family rides, but my bike was old, and the seat was hard and uncomfortable, and I dreaded riding it. 

I think that often happens to us in life… Read more

“Just to Sit Still Would Be a Sin”

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Maryland Public Defender’s March for Justice

These are strange and trying times we are living in. We go from months of being isolated from the world to having the world marching outside our windows in our streets and throughout our cities and small towns, not sitting still but sitting in to stand up for justice. We have lost trust in the news, we have lost trust in some of the medical experts, and we have lost trust in each other. But the larger failing of the human race, the one that has led all of us to this moment is a greater loss–the loss of love, the fundamental loss of just loving each other, for love is the only thing that can win in this fight, and it has to be the kind of love that is the pure, unselfish, dying to self kind of love. We must imitate the greatest of all loves… Read more

Filled With the Holy Spirit

2020 El Greco Pentecost
El Greco, Pentecost (The Prado 2016)

We have received word that our church is hoping to reopen on the weekend of the celebration of Pentecost. When I first heard this news, I was thrilled, but I didn’t give much thought to any deeper meaning or significance to the timing. However, as a few days have gone by since receiving the text from our pastor, and upon finding out that many other churches are also opening that weekend, I’ve come to a realization that I find both uplifting and amazing.

Just think about it for a moment…

Live Masses across the country are going to begin happening on Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost Sunday.

Uplifting, yes. Amazing, absolutely. A beautiful example of how God works in our lives, beyond doubt.

How? Read more

Wishes and Prayers

This entire period in our world’s history continues to bring upon us new challenges and stark realities. For some, priorities have become clearer. For others, life is more confusing and harder to face than ever. I’ve learned that we should never take anything for granted and that the power of prayer is even more present, more real, more attainable than I ever imagined.

2020 Mom and me
Mom and me last Mother’s Day

Many of you know that I have really struggled with not being able to see my parents over the past two months. I spent all of Mother’s Day in tears, hardly able to even call my mother because I was so emotional. I went through all the stages of grief, from sadness to despair to extreme anger. All I wanted was to see my mother.

Unfortunately, the old adage slapped me right across my face–be careful what you wish for… Read more