Sunday, December 16, 2007

I don't celebrate Christmas

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a
reason to celebrate.
He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the
door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're
busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty, "Stew ... made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.
"Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do.
Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln . They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct
tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right
through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked. "None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and
winced at the same time

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got
repossessed last week ..."

George handed the gun to the cop. Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes
us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued. "Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said, "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.
The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a greatdoctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists.
The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord."
~ author unknown

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Be careful little lips -

Be careful little lips what you say –
Our 3 year old grandson “preformed” in his school Christmas Play this week. I am not much of a Christmas person. Don’t get me wrong I love the “reason for the season” the birth of our Lord – but the whole retail part of Christmas makes me a bit nuts. I love to give people “stuff” but I do it whenever I see something I think someone would like. My husband says I give gifts all year because I am worse than any little kids about trying to keep a present a secrete. It is just when I find something I know someone will love I just can’t wait to give it to them!
I am not good at receiving gifts. I never feel worthy. I have no idea why guess I need therapy. The only time I have ever felt comfortable getting gifts was at my baby shower. My justification was that the “stuff” was not for me. It makes my family and friends nuts. “What do you want for Christmas” is met with “I have everything I need”? So, they are left to wonder the mall trying to come up with something they think I will like. I have received some “strange” gifts over the years, but whose fault is that? On the other hand I have received many wonderful gifts that I would never have thought about buying for myself. Then there is that occasional gift that really touches my heart because I know the person put much thought into giving me something they thought I would enjoy. I received such an unexpected gift yesterday from a friend. It is a beautiful book of the Saints. There are Saints for everyday with such beautiful pictures. I taught a class on The Saints Sunday! This person is not Catholic making this gift even more special.
I have to say that watching a bunch of 3, 4 and 5 year old kids perform the story of Christmas will be the best gift I will receive this year. Oh, there was the kids that cried, the ones that had to go “potty” in the middle of a song. One group did a song on hand bells; half the bells were flung across the stage on the first ring (maybe they need to rethink those gloves). There was Mary at the manager getting a bit bored, so she hiked up her robe propped her elbows on her knees an revealed the fact that Mary was wearing cowboy booths. Hunter’s class of 3 year olds was the youngest to perform. The laughter started as soon as they began to climb on stage each one trying to make sure the person next to them was standing in the right place. When they realized all their family was there the waving began! They recited their Bible verse and sang the song about Little Lips watch what you say because the Father up above is looking down below. Each kid trying to “out” sing the others, so it was a bit of a scream fest! The grand finally involved all the kids coming out dressed in different costumes and singing several songs together. Hunter’s class was dressed as sheep. It was just too cute for words. I make Hunter sing that song for me as often as he will cooperate and I say Merry Christmas to me!
This year if you don’t have much of the Christmas Spirit find a nearby Christian School or church that is having a Christmas Play and attend. If this does not put you in the true Spirit of Christmas then there may be no hope for you!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am not and don't really mind

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know. Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Wooden bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden
Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son,
daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands
trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate
together at the table.
But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and
failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with
the mess. 'We must do something about father,' said the son. 'I've had
enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small tab le in the
corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family
enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food
was served in a wooden bowl!

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction,
sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only
words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a
fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One
evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps
on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?'

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making
a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.'
The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents so that they were
speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though
no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and
gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days
he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither
husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk
spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter
what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be
better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person
by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost
luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that, regardless of your relationship
with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same
thing as making a 'life.' I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with
a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will
elude you. But if you focus on God, your family, your friends, the needs of
others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find

I've learned that whenever I decide something with
an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don' t
have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out
and touch someone.
People love that human touch -- holding hands, a
warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn!

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No more with me - slow down we will be old one day!

"I'm sorry. Please forgive me!
I don't mean to hold you up,"
he said as he struggled to get off the escalator.

I'll admit to it. There have been times when walking or driving behind an older person I've gotten impatient and upset. I've huffed and zoomed around them because I was in a hurry to get nowhere. Perhaps I'm more aware of it
now because I see myself there one day soon. Today I saw myself in this old man's shoes and it caused me to slow down, stop and ask for his forgiveness.

He was about five or six people ahead of me. I was in a hurry and saw him as an obstacle. I've seen people get off
the end of an escalator and stop dead in their tracks, gather their things and suddenly there's a pile up of angry people behind them. You can't stop an escalator full of people behind you. Like the Energizer bunny, they keep on goin'.

This man was well aware of the challenge.
He tri ed desperately to step aside. Fumbling with his
small packages, struggling to gain his footing, you
could see how troubling this was for him.
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me! I don't mean to hold
you up," he said as he struggled to get off the escalator.

I suddenly saw this in a whole new light. It was like I
was watching my future. I felt sorry for him. I felt sick to
my stomach because this man was apologizing to everyone,
when we should have been helping him and calming
his fears.

One by one, people zipped around him. I heard a few angry comments whispered as one lady passed by him.

I saw me.

By the time I got to him he was just about steady on his feet.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know there was more," he said.

"No, sir. No more with me," I said. This really hit me hard.
I realized right then how sad it was that the world was in such a hurry. That, of course, included me. more with me. Count me out .

This wonderful man paid his dues. For whatever time he had spent on this earth, he most likely walked many rough roads and too many important miles. Now he should be apologizing for moving slower?

My heart ached as I looked into his eyes. I wished that
I could see what he had seen all those years. His face
weathered from life itself, was creased

And wrinkled. The small soft pockets under his eyes and the gentle lines that curved up and around them told me he had many happy moments, too. Those were traces left behind from laughter and a smiling, happy man.

"My friend, can I help you with those things?" I asked.

Hesitant at first, he finally said, "Well, yes, thank you!"

I placed my hand under his left arm and walked with
him a safe distance away from the rush of people.

"So what are you shopping for, sir?"

"Oh, just a little something for my neighbor. She's a young mother raising kids on her own. She's alway s so nice to me.
I thought a box of candy for Mother's Day..." he said, stopping suddenly as he searched his inside pocket of his sport coat.

"Do you need something?" I asked.

"Oh, no. Here. I think I have it right here. I always carry them with me," he said. Then pulling out a hand full of papers he shuffled through them and handed me a business card that read:

"John A. Pomicter Friend to all...enemy to no one! I said
a prayer today and you were the answer. Thank you!"

"That's for you," he said. "Thanks for stopping to
help an old man."

"My friend, you helped me. I discovered that I was
unhappy with the world and I was part of the problem.
Now I'll be part of the solution. No more with me!"

"Then this was meant to be," he said smiling.

"You know God sends me gifts every day and always at
least one special person. You were my gift for today!
Let's go get some chocolates, my Friend."

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Straight and Narrow isn't so straight sometimes

I am trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! I am an animal love and have managed to surround myself with a varity of pets all my life. Currently I have a Papillon – Toby. Bar none Toby is more attached to me than any previous creature I have shared my journey with. He watches my every move, sits beside the tub while I take a shower, will ignore an entire group of kids, dogs and people and stay at my side. Toby often travels with me, he is the perfect traveling companion, he never demands that I go to a certain place to eat and does not complain if I decide to go to be at 8pm. He never meets a strange but will only allow them to pet him if I pick him up first. If I have to leave him at home the greeting I receive when I return is worthy of royalty. If I am having a bad day and happen to yell, Toby is quick to forgive and welcome me back into his world.
I am sure most of you know where this is going – Our relationship with God is much like the one we share with a loving and loyal pet. God loves us above all thing’s, he is always watching us as though we are the only person in this vast universe. If we happen to take a side trip along our journey “life”, He is always there to welcome us back – no questions ask – and it does not matter how long we have been gone.
Being a Deacon’s wife often makes me approachable to people that will not talk to my husband or the priest. I am a well worn traveler along the road of life and it shows – so people will openly share with me life stories that they are “ashamed” to tell anyone else. Most of the time once they speak it out loud once it is easier to then discuss it with someone that can deliver spiritual direction.
I was privileged to be present when a friend was talking to our priest about his long absence from any type of organized religion. My friend was concerned that God would hold his “diversion” from the straight and narrow against him. I think this is the way most of us view God – he is sitting in heaven with a list and keeps track of our sins and good deeds and we are forever trying to keep the scale in balance. Farther assured him that God was not concerned with how long he had been gone – because God was always right behind him waiting for my friend to turn around – and that God’s only concern was that he had turned around and the amount of time did not matter.
My heart is heavy today because I meet so many people that feel that they have been “off the straight and narrow” too long to enter the narrow gate again. It is never too late to turn around.
OK – I know this is a pretty heavy blog for me – but it has been laid on my heart to share – hope it is received by the person intended.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgivings! See you at Barbra Jeans

When I was a child Thanksgivings was a holiday that made no sense to me. The women spent days cooking and getting things ready. Then everybody sat down to eat and within an hour it is all over. The men would go out and sit on the porch with their pants unbuttoned and talk about fishing and hunting and the women spent the rest of the day cleaning up the kitchen. The kids were left to find our own entertainment. Being the youngest I was often the source of everyone’s fun! So, as a kid Thanksgivings was nothing to be thankful for or excited about. As I grew older I am sorry to say the holiday still held no meaning. As most of you know I am not big on cooking and I sure ain’t going to cook for a bunch folks to consume and leave me to clean up. As long as there is a Golden Coral close by I figure we are good to go!
Now that I am “old” I finally figured out the meaning of Thanksgivings! Oh, don’t get me wrong I still don’t get the whole cooking thing so don’t show up at my house expecting to find the smells of the season drifting through the air. There will be no Norman Rockwell moment with us all gathered around the table. We will be dinning at Barbra Jeans on St. Simons Island this year.
What I have figured out is that Thanksgivings is truly a wonderful day to spent with family. To share memories of days long passed and our hopes for days to come. Most of all I have learned that Thanksgiving is the perfect day to spend a little extra time in the presents of God. I am truly blessed with worldly “stuff” and I know that it is only through God’s loving hands that I have received these blessings. So, I will seal a few minutes today and spend it in Thanksgivings with my Lord, thanking Him for all that I am and all that I will ever be.
Today why don’t you take a few minutes and share with God all those things you are thankful for. And it never hurts to share those things with you family, too often we forget to tell those we are most thankful for how we feel.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Old dogs can teach new tricks

"Watch out! You nearly broad-sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?" Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving." My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back.

At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside. To collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctors orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Rick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Rick. We began to bicker and argue.

Alarmed, Rick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But, the months wore on and God was silent..

A raindrop struck my cheek. I looked up into the gray sky. Somewhere up there was "God." Although I believe a Supreme Being had created the universe, I had difficulty believing that God cared about the tiny human beings on this earth. I was tired of waiting for a God who did not answer.

Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem in vain to each of the sympathetic voices that answered.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article." I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs - all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one ~ Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?" "Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said. I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

"Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly. Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it." Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed.!!!!

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw. Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night.

I woke Rick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene; but his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Rick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church.

The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers..." "I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article ~Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter ~ His calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father ~ and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

~God will take care of you~
Life is too short for drama and petty things.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Shaking my fist at God

Have you ever been overcome by the amount of suffering, pain and grief you are surrounded with? I have been told many times that I share too deeply the pain of those around me. How can I not share in the pain of the loss of a sister by my friend? How can my heart not break when I learn that a friend is dying of cancer? How can I not shake my fist at God and question why a friend’s husband drowned in a freak boating accident? How can I not fall to my knees when I hear that a friend’s 16 year old son was killed in their driveway by his own truck? How can I not share in the pain and helplessness that a friend feels as he is forced to watch him Mother slip into the grips of old age? How can I not worry about a friend’s unwed pregnant daughter? How can I not shed tears for a Mother that has to watch her daughter die a little more each day and wonder when the pain will end? What can I offer a daughter that should be enjoying her life but is dealing with her mom losing her job and being evicted? Seeing a Aunt that has been the final care giver for too many family members as they make their journey from this life to the next, pressed into service once agin. Knowing that a friend is worried that her son-in-law is now unemployed. The list goes on.
I cry for and with them, I pray for and with them. I carry them and their pain in my heart as I go through the day. Often times people say “there is nothing I can do” – but we can always pray. Sometimes we feel that is not enough but it is the greatest give that we can give someone that is suffering.
Yes, sometimes I shake my fist at God and ask WHY! Often I get a strange reaction when I tell people that I am mad at God and I told Him so. To my way of thinking, God knows what is in my heart before I speak it so if I am upset the best thing for me to do is talk to Him about it. I have been known to walk around the yard in a heated discussion with God, telling Him just how upset I am. Why, why, why? That is a constant theme in my talks with God from time to time.
I know all things happen for the glory of God and He would never do anything to intentionally to hurt His children. I also believe that God did not cause any of these things to happen. Yes, He allowed them but He did not visit this pain on anyone of these people. I do not believe that the devil did it, yes the devil has power in our life but only if we allow him to.
Then why do I get upset with God you ask. If I believe that He did not do any of this then why am I suddenly blaming it all on Him? I am not blaming Him, questioning why He allows certain things to happen yes. But, most of all I go to God with my fist in the air because it is through Him that I will find comfort and strength to face the pain. After my rants I will listen for that small still voice that will give me the knowing that will allow me to lower my fist. I will receive a special portion of His grace so that I can give comfort and strength to those in need.
I am so blessed now can I not feel the pain of those around me?
I know that when I look at the pain and suffering in my life it is like looking at the back of a tapestry – all I can see is a mass of threads and knots it is not a pretty picture. The red ones that were pain, the yellow ones that were joy, the gold ones that were the times that God carried me, the green ones that was God showing Himself to me in nature –at death I will be allowed to see the front of the tapestry and see what a beautiful picture these threads and knots made that was my life.

RCIA - The journey begins

Recently we started a new RCIA class. I love the RCIA process! Tom and I have been teaching for 10 years now and every year I am like a kid before Christmas. I am so excited to see who God will send our way and every year I am not disappointed. As Catholic’s we do not go out and recruit “new members” we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead folks to” Inquire” about our faith. I can honestly say there is nothing I love more than sharing my faith.
People show up for so many different reasons. Some because they are getting married, some because they are just curious about what being a Catholic is all about, others come because their children are attending Catholic school. This year we have a young guy and when I ask him what had brought him to Inquiry he told me “My Mom made me come”, hey at least he was honest. What I have noticed is that no matter why they began coming to class by the time they finish the journey it has become personal. God has blessed me many times when I have witnessed the moment when the reason a person came changes and they begin their personal journey to a deeper relationship with God.
We spend the first few classes answering what I call the 10 Catholic Questions – you know the ones I mean: Why do you worship Mary? Why do you HAVE to confess your sins to a priest? Why does Priest not marry? Why do you pray to Saints? And so on. I never cease to be amazed at how much misinformation there is floating around out there. Their reaction is priceless when I tell them that as Catholic’s we in no way worship Mary and that any relationship we have with Mary is intended to lead us closer to her son Jesus, it takes them awhile to get their mind around that one.
I have no idea who will come into the Church this Easter Vigil. I am certain that I will have been blessed by being allowed to be a small part of their journey.
Share your Catholic faith, the more you share the more you have!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

We had to come back

Honey, I’m home! Yes, we got back from a wonderful stay at the beach. I highly recommend that everyone take the time to recharge their batteries a couple of times a year. If you think your “job” just can’t make it without you trust me you are wrong. The way I look at it is – if I got hit by a tuck tomorrow they would have someone else to do my job the next day. I work to make a living; I do not live to work. I pride myself in my job and try to give an honest day’s work so that I do not have to apologize when I get my pay check.
If your husband in currently in formation to become a deacon makes sure that you make a way a few times a year to go away and enjoy nothing but rest and relaxation. It is important to spend time away from the world. I find that when we are away for a few days we both have a better chance to listen more closely to that small still voice. For me there are few things that make me feel any more connected to God than when I sit on the beach and watch the sun come up over the ocean. How can anyone question if there is a God when they sit before something as perfect as the ocean at sunrise.
I would have to say that vacation was a huge success. We slept, ate, slept, walked on the beach, ate, slept. Do you see a pattern here? Most of all we were together and I have no greater friend than my husband.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Vacation

Just a note to let you know that I will be away on vacation for a couple of weeks. It is a tough thing to have to do but someone has to do it! Thanks for reading my rambling - I hope I have helped someone in some small way. If I made you smile then my job here has been complete. As always Love, Hugs and prayers!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday go to meeting outfits - - - - -

It is Sunday morning and I am not at church! Not going to church on Sunday morning is something I will never get use to not matter how long I am Catholic. Tom had mass last night – for Catholic’s Saturday night mass counts for Sunday, so if you go on Saturday night you don’t have to go on Sunday. Tom has mass tonight so I will go then also. BUT not going to church on Sunday equates in my previously protestant mind as a sin.
Getting up and getting ready for church on Sunday morning was a production when I was a kid. Mother spent hours on Saturday getting her “outfit” ready. I have seen her spend an entire week working on a new “Sunday go to meeting” dress. My Mother was always a dresser. I know that many of you that know me will find that hard to believe since jeans and a T-shirt are my dress clothes. This is not in any sense of the word my Mom’s fault, she tried. You see she spent equally as much time on my “outfit”. She would go into town whit her sketch pad in hand and draw a picture of the dress she wanted to make for me, come home and cut a pattern then make the exact dress. For me every minute spent trying on those dresses was torture. It seemed that Mom always choose to call me in to try one of them on when I was right in the middle of a great adventure.
Sunday morning would come and we would get all gussied up. Picture if you will a little girl that rather be in the woods with her dog putting on a frilly dress. Then there were the crinolines, many many crinolines. Do you remember the one that your Mom would stretch out flat on a table and spray with starch? I would have to wear so many that my dress would stand straight out. This would call for a pair of panties with ruffles on them, just in case. Then there was the ruffled socks, ruffled gloves and to top the whole thing off there was that dang hat. I hated Sunday “outfits” and would often pitch a fit of my own about having to wear them. It was to no avail because you did not miss Sunday morning church and you were not going to go looking like a heathen. Dad knew how I felt and would always give me one of those knowing looks but he did not dare cross Mother on this issue.
Then we would all pile in the 1950 Ford pickup, the boys would ride in the bed of the truck. Back then riding in the back of a pickup truck was considered a rite of passage. You had to be at least 4 or 5; I was allowed to ride in the bed of the truck but not on Sunday. There was a whole list of things I could not do while I had my Sunday “outfit” on. Most of them had something to do with behaving like a lady and not the tom boy that I was. Man I hated Sunday “outfits”.
The only thing worse than putting on that Sunday outfit and going to church was being told that the preacher was coming for “Sunday Dinner”. This meant that I would be in the monkey suit all day! If I got wind early enough that the Preacher was coming to our house I would beg one of my friends to let me go home with them. This did not work very often because Mother insisted that I be home when the Preacher came. This was long before GameBoys were invented and we did not have a TV so I had to sit for hours in this get up.
To this day the back of my neck itches when I wake up on Sunday remembering all those “Sunday Outfits”. Yes, Mother was a dresser. She set the standard by which all the other ladies at church tried to achieve. I am sorry to admit she never succeeded in turning me into the frilly little girl or woman that she hoped for. I hope that I made her proud in other ways because I never came up to her mark with it came to the way I dressed.
Thank you Lord for a Mother that not only cared about how she looked but also tried to dress me equally as nice. And Lord when I see Mom in heaven for the first time could you make sure I am dressed in a real frilly “Sunday outfit”, but I sure hope you will not make we wear it throughout eternity.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I believe - - - - - -

  1. · Birth Certificates show we were born Death Certificates show that we died and pictures show we lived!
    · I believe -. . . That just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
    · I believe - That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
    · I believe - . That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
    · I believe - . That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.
    · I believe - . That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
    · I believe - . That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
    · I believe - . That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.
    · I believe - . That you can keep going long after you think you can't.
    · I believe - . That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
    · I believe - . That either you control your attitude or it controls you.
    · I believe - .. That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
    · I believe - . That money is a lousy way of keeping score.
    · I believe - That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
    · I believe - . That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.
    · I believe - . That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
    · I believe - . That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
    · I believe - . That it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
    · I believe - . That no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.
    · I believe - . That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become .
    · I believe - . That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life. Forever!!
    · I believe - . Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
    · I believe - . That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
    · I believe - . That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you - you will find the strength to help.
    · I believe - . That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
    · I believe - . That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.
    · I believe - that it is easier to make a living than it is to make a live.
    · I believe – that life may not be the party we hope for BUT life is too short not to dance!
    · I believe – that if God has brought us to it He will bring us through it.
    · I believe – that God loves me

What do you believe?

Friday, September 14, 2007

What I have learned being a Deacon's wife - - -

When Tom first began his journey through the Deaconate program I was worried that I would not be qualified to help him in his ministry. Oh, I had been involved in different ministries at church pretty much all my life but Tom being ordained seemed to kick everything up a notch. Tom has a degree in theology and spent five years in formation before becoming a Deacon. He has forgotten more about the Bible and the Church than I will ever be able to learn. The one thing I knew for sure was that I never want to say the wrong thing and embarrass Tom and I never wanted to be the cause of someone having misinformation about the church. I also knew that there was no way I would ever obtain the knowledge that Tom possess. So, what to do? Pray!
Every time I was asked to speak at a retreat or teach a class I PRAYED. I prepared to the best of my ability, made my notes, ran my copies and so on. In the end I knew that I would have to depend to the Holy Spirit to get me through.
I have learned that if I was ask a question that I did not feel comfortable answering it was no shame for me to say “Let me get with Father or Tom and I will get back to you”. I always made sure to make a note and get the answer then get back to them. People can handle a truthful “I don’t know” better than they can an answers that beats around the bush and never really addresses their issue. Some people will not like your answer no matter how biblical or doctorial based it is. I have had a couple of people go to Father and tell him what I said in class and his answer has always been “Well, isn’t that strange that is exactly what the church teaches”. Then he takes the time to explain a bit more – bottom line they still don’t like the answer.
I have learned that often time’s people will ask me questions that they would never ask my husband or the Priest. Some are cradle Catholics and do not want the Priest to know they did not already know. Some people are just not comfortable approaching a “man of the cloth”.
I have learned that if someone is in need of money or food they are more apt to approach me. They have learned that I am a soft touch!
I have learned that if there is no toilet paper in the bathroom they will come and find me. Same goes for wine, wafers, candles or alter servers.
I have learned that there is a lot of things I can do to serve God, Church and my husband do not need a college education.
I have learned that they Holy Spirit is always there when I call and guides my words quite often
I have learned that: God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Let me eat COMFORT FOOD!

I have been in the same business for about a hundred years – wait it just feels like it! As long as I have been thumping and bumping around I had to do something today that I have never gotten use to doing. I had to terminate someone employment. This was not just anybody; it was someone I cared a great deal about. They have been with the company for 7 years; I have watched their children grow up. I have watched them develop into a strong self sufficient person. Or, so I thought.
I pride myself on being a good judge of charter and my judgment about this person has not changed. This person is bright, intelligent, one of the hardest people I have every met and has a smile that will light up a room. What happened you ask? Short answer – personal problems that were bigger than their work abilities. Problems that I had tried to counsel them about many times.
Sometimes my kindness is mistaken for weakness and when this happens I have to do what is best for the man that signs my check. It still does not make the process any easier. At times I am in awe that I have been given the ability to strip someone of their livelihood. No one has the right to do this, but everyday a decision has to be made many times all over the world. Today was my day to decide that I cannot save everyone because some people do not want to be saved or do not have the ability to save themselves.
I try to treat everyone that I work with respectfully and with the same courtesy that I want in the work place. The sad truth is that most of us have to work, I am no exception. My thought has always been – We are all adults, we all have a job to do lets “get’r done”. I do not need to remind anyone that I am the “boss”. When I have to play the “boss card” it is not a good day for me.
I have eaten 2 lbs. of chocolate, drank a liter of coke and still have a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to go. Soon my sorrow will be drowned. I will not be able to get in any of my clothes tomorrow and all this sugar will make me swell up like a blow fish – but for tonight I need comfort food because someone I care about is hurting. I am wise enough to know that this is because of their actions not mine, but that does not help tonight.
My prayer is that over the pasted few years I have given this person the abilities to move forward in this profession when the time comes. I will continue to lift them up in prayer every day.

So, your husband wants to be a Deacon

So, your husband wants to be a Deacon and all that is going through you head is “Run Forest Run”. Don’t feel like you are the only one that has ever had this feeling! When Tom decided he wanted to be a Deacon I took one look at the other Deacon’s wives that I said to myself “Self you will never make it, those women are way too pious, they will never accept you”. While some Deacon’s wives certainly act as though their name is Rev. Mrs. Deacon, but most of them are just like me. They are trying to figure out where they fit into their husband’s new found calling. If they have been a Deacon’s wife for awhile most have settled into the role and feel comfortable with their “lot” in life. Then there is me! I am not your average 60 year old Grandmother. Someone once remarked to Tom that I had no trouble thinking outside the box and Tom replied “she never knew there was a box”.
I enjoy life as much if not more than anyone I know. Laughter is a big part of my life and I love nothing more than making others smile. My hair is gray and I ware it in pretty much in a crew cut (the shorter the better). For the most part I do not wear makeup and I have several tattoos. Talk about worrying that you would not fit in – I am a poster child for not fitting in! I made a decision when Tom started the process that I would not let the fact that he was a Deacon change me. I am happy to report that to date I am still “me”.
What I have learned through the process is that most folks could care less how I look they are more concerned about how I will treat them. Now don’t get me wrong I would never attend Mass dressed improperly and I can cover my “art work” if I feel it will not be understood. I do not feel that I am selling out to the “establishment” I am being respectful to my husband and his position. My Mom use to ask “What do you think God will say when you get to heaven about those tattoos”. My answer – Don’t think He will much care about my outward appearance, and I was sure banking on a new body.
If you husband had dropped the bomb and you are still trying to decide where he got this idea – chances are that he heard that small still calling from the Holy Spirit. Relax – if God has brought him to it God will bring both of you through it. Spend time in prayer. Talk with your husband express your fears and concerns. Talk to a Deacon’s wife – one that doesn’t look too stiff. Send me an email; I will help if I can.
The one thing I am certain of is that your husband cannot make it through formation let alone perform his duties as a Deacon if he does not have your total support.
My prayer is that God will grant you a special portion of His grace as you move through this decrement period.

Friday, September 7, 2007

God's wife?

God's Wife?A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on Broadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.
A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?""I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boy's reply.
The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought themto her.She took the little fellow to the back of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his feet and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, "No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?"
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words,
"Are you God's Wife?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

God didn't stop up my septic tank

I now know more about septic tanks than I ever wanted to know! Our tank backed up Monday today is Wednesday and the plumber finally arrived and popped the top to the tank. Needless to say the news is not good! My credit card how has $3,500 added to the balance. At least I don’t have to go out in the woods to potty anymore (good thing we live in the country) and the plumber promises me that within the hour I will be able to enjoy a nice hot bath!

When our problems with the septic tank first began it was right in the middle of our son exit from Georgia. My first thought was “Lord, why me – haven’t you given me enough to handle for a while”. I was on the verge of have myself a “pity party” when I received a call from my daughter in law saying that Billy had made it to Virginia safe and sound. I have been holding my breath and praying every few minutes since he pulled out of the driveway. So mid pity part I had to stop and thank God for the safe arrived of a very precious package. Nothing like a prayer answered to put a damper on a good pity party.

I adjusted my attitude and decided that having to go to the woods and not being able to take a shower for a few days was not such a bad thing. THEN the plumber got here and delivers the news – I had figured it would be $500 or so – but $3,500 took me aback. Potential “pity party” on the horizon! Oh, whoa with me, this is awful. Thought this time – “Lord, look at all the things I do for you! This is not fair! Look at the people down the street, they don’t even go to church and they are not having any problems.” I wallowed in that little thought for a few awhile.

I went and sat on the front porch and watched the humming birds and looked at the beauty of the flowers blooming. I saw how green Mr. Johnson’s sugar cane had become since the recent rains. I heard a cow bellow for her calf and a hawk scream from the top branch of a large pecan tree.

I had to apologies to God. I am one of the most blessed people on earth! I have a beautiful home, one many would love to call their own. I live far enough in the country that I can still enjoy the wonders of this world. I have more than enough food to eat. I have amassed enough clothes and shoes to outfit a small army. I have a husband that I share a “fairy tale” marriage with. I have three grown kids that I actually enjoy being around and a Grandson that is my heart. AND I have a credit card to put the plumbing bill on and a job that will allow me to pay the bill.

I have not accomplished or acquired any of these things on my own. God has been good me!
So, while I am standing in that hot shower I am going to count my blessings and cancel my “pity party” invitations.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Not everyone is going to love the Deacon - and some may love him a bit too much

Not everyone is going to LOVE your Rev. Mr. and some might love him too much!

If your husband will be ordained soon don’t think you are going to join hands and skip into church to a standing ovation every week. Nope, there are going to be those that he just can’t make happy no matter what he does. His Homilies will be too long or too short. He does not deliver his sermon the same way the priest does; or even worse the “Old Deacon”. (You know the one that your husband replaced). He paid too much attention to Ms. Jones and did not even speak to Ms. Smith. Little Johnny ask him to bless his new cross and the blessing just did not sound right to someone nearby. Did you see how he held that baby during baptism, and I don’t think he put enough water on her head!
Trust me you will hear things about your husband that makes you want to poke someone in the head with a sharp object. You know how hard you husband worked on his Homily; you can count the hours it took him away from the family. And that Baptism looked beautiful to you! First and for most you have to remember it is not your job to defend your husband. In most cases he does not need to be defended. Folks are entitled to their opinion (even if it is wrong) and they have no trouble voicing it to you or the Priest. Very seldom do I mention anything that is said to Tom. As a Deacon he has enough on his plate, and if he does something wrong Father Ed will let him know. However I will be the first one to let him know if his Homily was a stinker. Remember I have been listening to Tom preach for years so the bar is set rather high! When the kids were young he judge how well his delivery was based on what they remembered, now he just has me and I don’t give out many A’s. I never know what Tom’s Homily’s are going to be about – I hear them for the first time along with the congregation.
Then there are the people or should I say “women” that are going to “love” him just a little too much. This is a subject that no one wants to talk about, but everybody asks about when we are one on one. I have no idea why, but I saw it happen when Tom was a minister – some women just have a thing about a “Man of the Cloth”. These are the women that always have a question for your husband or they just need a few minutes of this time. Let’s face it girls we are lucky our husbands are wonderful caring men. A quality that is not found often enough in men and if a “church lady” is lonely they are going to latch on to a man that seems to care. Trust me you husband has been warned in formation (or at least I hope he has) and he will know how to handle the situation with no interference from you. Don’t start looking at every lady that is nice to your husband with suspicious eyes – you will make your life and his miserable. Just know that it could happen! Tom does have one rule that has served him well over the years - he is never alone with a women. He does not go to lunch with a women alone, he does not close his office door when he is alone with a woman and he will not go to visit a women alone. Sad that a Deacon or Priest have to worry about these things but they do.

I do not stand at the back of the church with Tom after Mass. Why not you ask – because if someone needs to talk to him they need to feel free to do so. Folks will often approach your husband with family problems that they would never think of speaking to the priest about. That is one of the blessings our husbands bring to the church, they have dealt with mad wives and teenagers.

Your husband is not in a popularity contest and sometimes he will have to make decisions that will not sit well with some people. Your job is to be that “soft place” for him to land when the going get rough. Love him, pray for him and support him even if it is from a distance sometimes.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What to expect when you become a Deacon's Wife

Since I am a Deacon’s wife I have been asked to write something occasionally about my “Life as a Deacon’s” other half. I guess the reason I don’t write about it more often is because it is not something that I think about very much. It simply is a fact, one that I would not change. I am going to try and address a few of the most common questions that I am asked – most questions come from wives of men in formation. Here is the test – if anyone out there is reading this that has a question feel free to send it to me either by email are by way of a comment and I will answer it to the best of my ability.
1. My husband is going to be an ordained deacon will I be Rev. Ms. Smith?
The short answer is NO. It depends on your diocese but in Atlanta wives are encouraged to attend classes with their husbands. It will educate you not only to what will be expected of your husband after ordination but you will learn more about what the Church teaches. If at all possible I urge you to attend when possible – education is always a good thing! The church is paying lots of money for your husband’s education and you have a chance to get it free.
2. What will be expected of me from the church after he is ordained?
Short answer NOTHING. This is not your “vocation” it is your husbands. All the Church asks is that you support your husband. Truth is the Church will appreciate you being as involved as possible. You and your husband may be involved in some of the same ministries and you may find your own nitch. Remember that you represent your husband and the Church at all times.
As a Deacon’s wife you will be privy to some information that is not intended for the general population – as good as you might feel the gossip is don’t share! Support comes in all forms and proper behavior and trust are just a couple.
3. We do “EVERYTHING” together. I am afraid that after he is ordained he will not have any time for me.
Short answer Maybe Not! This is the question that is always first and foremost in wives of “soon to be Deacons”. It is also the hardest question to answer because the answer depends on your husband’s ability to say “No”. Your husband has accepted the call to become a Deacon because he has a deep desire to serve God’s people. In accepting a position as a Deacon your husband has accepted a position of “service”. In most parishes he will be used to serve to the point of physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion if he does not learn to say no. While it is your job to support your husband in his service it is also your job to remind him if necessary that he just might be burning the ole candle at both ends. We have a group of Deacon friends and we try and get together every few of months(the Deacon’s in formation in our area are also invited) and as it always happens the men end up in one room and the wives in another and “family time management” is always a topic of discussion. Some men have been Deacon’s for years and still struggle with “family time management”. Others learned early on that their first commitment is to their family – these wives are the ones with the big smiles on their face!
I could write in length about this topic – and I will if you want me to – but the bottom line is: Our husbands walk a very tedious and demanding tight rope. Most have full time “money” jobs – strange how many parishioners think that just because they become “Deacons” that they only work for the Church – that require more than 40 hours a week. They have families that depend on them to be their “Sheppard”. Then there is the Church “flock” that they are to serve. One wrong step in either direction can cause their house of cards to crash. Not enough emphasis placed on their “money” job can place their employment in jeopardy, too much time spent with their “Church family” can place their own family in danger.

The one thing I know for certain is that your husband will not be able to succeed in any of these areas without your love, support and prayers.

What do I do as a Deacon’s wife you might ask? Well, last night at mass I was the sacristan, alter server and choir director. The week before I was the janitor, the people that clean did not show up. I try to wear what ever “hat” needed so that Mass is all my husband and Father have to worry about. My love is teaching OCIA, which I have been doing for 10 years. I go with Tom as often as possible (and when needed) to make home or hospital visits, home blessings and Adult education classes that he teaches.

I have no idea if this ramble will help anyone or even if there is a need for such a post. If I can be of any help to anyone all you have to do is drop me a line. I will continue to post questions if you ask them. If not I will be forced to go back to talking about my childhood!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Finding Home -

Within each and every one of us, there lies a place called “Home”. It may look and feel different at various points in our lives. There are times, perhaps long ones, in which Home seems to be absent. Did it move away and forget to tell us, or did we wander off from it? It is there none the less and if we are not presently aware of living in it, we are necessarily engaged in the search for it. Home is that place where we feel the greatest inner warmth, where we can go to be ourselves, and it is where we must go if we are to fulfill our purpose in the world.
Home is an inner place, not an outer one. It is important for us to know that, and to know it for sure. Numerous people and influences in our lives will merrily assure us that Home is somewhere on the outside. People spend lifetimes, fortunes and much, much energy trying to find it or create it outside of themselves. But until Home is found on the inside, all our best efforts to build it on the outside eventually come to naught.
Contrary to appearances and to common belief, Home is not something that can be lost. Certainly, there are times in life when we feel rootless, Homeless, sitting among the ruins of shattered lives and broken dreams. In those times, everything in our experience tells us that all is lost, that we are lost. The truth goes otherwise. No matter how discombobulated our lives seem to be, there is still that inward place to which we may turn for solace.
The illusion that we have nowhere to turn, that we might lose our Home, is the basis of fear. When someone or something threatens to take away our security, our life, our domicile, our means of support, or people that we love, we become afraid and often panic. The basis of that fear is our belief that our very roots can be taken away. Our enemies will have us believe that they have the ability to destroy us. All their power over us lies in their assuring us of the truth of that belief. No matter how sever, or sudden or unforeseen something is it cannot destroy the foundations of Home.
Home is where we know we were always meant to be. It is an inner experience of belonging, but belonging not to something outside of ourselves, but rather of belonging within ourselves.
Because Home has only to do with having a certain job, or a certain amount of money or a certain type of friends or furniture, good luck or even an unblemished moral record. Being Home has only to do with being Home. The door is always open!
Father Paul Keenan – Beyond the Blue Snow

When we have no words of our own – sometimes we can find comfort in the words of others.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I don't want to be alone when I die!

I don’t want to be alone when I die. That thought hit me very hard this morning. I would say I don’t know why but I do. It is that whole birthday thing for one and the fact that Billy will be leaving Saturday. Why would this cause me to contemplate my death you ask? Well, the birthday thing should be self explanatory – I ain’t getting any younger. I have already lived more years than I have left to live. Something tells me I want make it to 120! Billy leaving is for some reason is making me feel abandoned. I use “abandoned” because I cannot find the right word. No, Billy will not stop being my son, but he will not be able to be my “go to person”. I have always tried hard not to “intrude” in Billy’s life – well not since he got married – before that he was fair game. I know from experience that having your own “life” – work and family – is hard enough without having a Mother that has to give you her opinion on everything you do. So, I have tried hard to let Billy and Mont live their life BUT I always knew that Billy was only a phone call away if I needed help with anything from moving furniture to answering a computer problem question or just talking to me about how much we both miss my Dad. But what I counted on him and Mont for most was something I have never had to ask them to do. I always knew that if something ever happened to Tom they would be there to help me hold it together. No, I don’t think anything bad is going to happen to Tom – but we both spend a lot of time on the expressway. The last thing I say to Tom every morning is “Drive careful”. So, this thought is on my mind. I guess you could say I have always counted on them to be my “back up”.
I know that I kid and say I don’t care if Mont and Billy leave as long as they leave Hunter but this statement is far from the truth. First of all there is no way I could keep up with kid for more than a couple of days. And since I am not real good at making him toe the line he would be as mean as a stripped leg snake in a few weeks – when people would see us coming they would lock the doors because “here comes that bad kid”.
I am very proud of Billy; he has accomplished something very few people do. Billy set a goal for himself and his family and he worked hard to achieve it. I know that Billy accepting a position with the FBI will be a great adventure for him, Mont and Hunter. It will make their future brighter! I am excited and happy for them and if they were not “my” kids I would be ecstatic!
Oh, I know there are phones and planes and we have a new car, heck I have a computer with a camera on it! So, we will be in touch. And I am sure when Billy gets through the academy he will have time to answer a few of my calls. Mont and Hunter will come home to visit often and the 3 years that they are gone will pass quickly. I know that Tom and I will be fine and don’t need a back plan – we got each other. If I get really bad off and need a kid fix Julie will let me barrow Calla. These are all thing that my rational mind knows ------
Right now my rational mind is in my back pocket and my heart is in the driver’s seat --------
So, forgive me this weekend if I sit and contemplate death and cry from time to time. Because on Friday I will be a year older and Saturday the most precious gift God has ever given me – my son – will leave the nest.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You can't be stupid all your life - or can you?

As you know we live on the outskirts of Atlanta so you cannot turn on the TV or radio without hearing about Michael Vick. I try and avoid this discussion at all cost but I have decided to go on record or blog I guess I should say.

HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE? I do not even know where to start! How could someone with such a bright future ahead of them do something so stupid? Setting aside for a moment (I will get to it later) the horrific inhuman acts that he was involved in. Why would Vic not want to do everything within his power to live up to the “reputation” that had been created for him? Vic’s reputation was created by the Falcon’s Organization, Nike, Rebook and numerous other companies that signed him to advance their products. Vic was and is a good athlete, I do not disagree. BUT these companies turned a virtually unknown college football player into the quarterback that every kid wants to be.
Every kid in Atlanta wanted a pair of Vic Nick’s. Vic had made it! And so could they. I feel sorry that yet another “role model” has toppled from the pedestal these kids placed him on.

Now, to how I feel about his involvement in the “sport” of dog fighting. HOW STUPIED CAN YOU BE!
While using animal fights for entertainment has been around since Biblical times, heck they feed Christians to the lions, it did not then and does not now make it acceptable. Yes, I realize that animals do not have souls and I have no problem making the distinction between humans and animals. I still feel a responsibility to take care of God’s smaller creatures. I have 3 dogs –Max has ADD, Honey is a paranoid skio and Toby has no idea he is a dog. I cannot imagine how anyone could derive pleasure from watching any animal kill another one. As I have mentioned many times I was raised in the country on a farm and my Dad taught me a healthy respect for animals. Yes, some were raised specifically for food but they were always well taken care of. Dad believed that if you had an animal it was your responsibility to take care of it.
Guess I need to tell you a funny story about the farm. There were no vet’s down at the mall to take care of your animals, unless you had a sick cow or horse. Then you could give the vet a call and they would come out. Other than that the role of vet fell to the farmer. My Dad was pretty dang good! He could give our animals all the shots they needed and sew them up when need be. Well, one of the horses got caught in the bob wire fence and cut his forehead pretty badly. Dad got the necessary items to stitch the horse up – needle, fishing line and a large shot of Novocain. It was Charles’s (one of the cousins I refer to as my brother) job to hold the horse’s head still. Charles wrapped his arms around the horses head and set his feet to brace himself. Dad took aim and drove the shot of Novocain home – problem was the horse jerked his head up and Dad hit Charles in the side of the face with the needle. In the excitement Dad delivered almost a full does of Novocain into Charles face. Charles dropped to the ground, rolling around holding his face and swearing like a sailor (this is who I learned to cuss and spit from, and he was good at both). Charles was sure that Dad had numbed his brain and he would die at any moment. Charles was not the best of guys so I am sure he was thinking he needed a bit more time to make amends! My Aunt found lipstick on Charles socks once and when she questioned him about it he told her he had been to a “foot washing”. At last it was not Charles time to meet his maker and in a couple of hours he was fine.
I am glad that Vic has got “jail house religion” before he has served any time. The Lord is the only one that can truly know Vic’s heart and pass judgment on him. I am glad I was not placed on earth to judge anyone because I am afraid I would judge Vic very harshly. I do not understand people that visit harm on animals or humans.
You cannot be stupid all your life but Vic is off to a good start!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa is not a Saint .......

The talk today has been all about the book that is coming out which consist of letters Mother Teresa wrote to friends and spiritual directors. In these letters Mother T talks about what she called her “crisis” of faith or her “dark nights of the soul”. Apparently it comes as a surprise to some that Mother T questioned her beliefs and even the existence of God.

These are a couple of the most quoted lines I heard today.
"If there be no God - there can be no soul - if there is no Soul then Jesus - You also are not true."
At times she also found it hard to pray.
"I utter words of community prayers - and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give - but my prayer of union is not there any longer - I no longer pray."

One person even suggested that she be removed from the beatification list for sainthood. Well, guess we will have to take the keys of heaven away from Saint Peter. Saint Peter walked with Jesus and still had doubts – there was that whole denying Jesus three times, and the time Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus. How about Saint Thomas, guess his Sainthood will have to be called into question also – he was with Jesus and had to place his hand in the nail holes before he would believe that Jesus had risen. Throughout the Bible and the life of the Saints there are examples of their “crisis of faith”.

I wrote just the other night about my “desert” periods and my inability to pray. Why does the fact that Mother Teresa struggled come as a surprise to anyone? If you have ever read any of her books or books about her or had the experience of hearing her speak you would know that this was something she talked about often.

I live in a wonderful home surrender by things and people I love and still I have “desert” times. Mother Teresa was with the poorest of the poor, she saw dying every day – several times a day. How could she not be filled with doubt at times? How many of us have lost a child or family member too soon and looked up and said “GOD WHERE ARE YOU”?

I complain about not being “feed” from time to time and this is no one’s fault but my own. I have family, friends and a parish family that I can turn to for nourishment – Where did Mother T go to be “feed”? Who was there to prop her up when she had to pray over a dying child? Who did she turn to when she needed to let it all out? She had no one – because she was the one that everyone else turned to. How very draining spiritually, mentally and physical that had to be for a small little woman that did nothing great only “small things with great love”.

Does doubt make our faith any less? In my opinion NO. Sometimes, I think the stronger our spiritually is the more “crisis” we seem to face. When you walk close to the Lord, when you talk to Him and feel His presence daily and then you lose that closeness for whatever the reason, for even a few hours there is a “crisis” of faith. Sometimes it last for a few day or weeks or months or even years.

I cannot speak for Mother Teresa I can only trust that in her final journey home that Our Blessed Mother took her by the hand and lead her to her mansion in heaven. And I hope Mother Theresa is one of the first people I see when I trade my baseball cap for a crown.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

When is a lie not a lie?????

Well, it is thundering and that means I am sitting in my chair with 3 – count them 3 dogs in the chair with me. Then how am I typing you ask, they are all use to me laying the laptop on top of them. Given the choice of having to stay in the floor 2 feet away from me or laying under the laptop they will choose the laptop every time. You are now shaking your head asking why I put up with this. Animals have always been a part of my life. When I was growing up I turned everything on the farm into a pet given half the chance. Once while I was out hunting big game in the woods around the farm in Alabama I spied a little baby fox. I have no idea how old he was but I decided he would follow me home. A couple of hours later and a piece of rope around his neck we arrived home – I swear he followed me! I named him Shipper. Dad felt he was a cross between a wild dog and a fox. Made no difference to me what he was I just needed a dog. At that point I was down a couple of dogs – only had 7 dogs and 21 cats. So, Skipper became my new best buddy. He was the smartest dog I had ever seen. Skipper could learn tricks must faster than Penny (one of my beagles). We spent many hours together hunting big game and swimming in the creek. He was allowed to sleep with me, which was a real treat. I had always had pets but none of them were allowed to sleep with me until Skipper followed me home.
Skipper had one bad habit – now remember I grew up in the COUNTRY – he would run in front of the fox hunter’s dogs. Every week on Thursday night the men would get together and have a fox hunt. My Dad did not hunt – thank goodness! Skipper would go and get the dogs to chase him and then run home, scratch on the back door and I would let him in. I had no idea what he had been up to. One morning Skipper did show up. I called his name for hours. Dad suggested that he had gone to visit his old friends for a few days. At the end of two weeks it was pretty clear that he was not coming back. Dad said he felt pretty sure he had gone back to join his fox family. As broken hearted as I was I could accept the fact that Skipper needed to be with his family just like I needed to be with mine.
Many years later I happen to walk up behind Dad, he was talking to some of his friends. Dad did not know that I was there. He was telling the guys about Skipper. It seems that the fox hunters got tired of Skipper messing up their hunts. They figured out where he crossed the road every night and one of the hunters sat and waited on him. Dad found his body the next morning when he went down the mountain to town. I walked away and did not let Dad know I had heard his conversation. I was broken hearted; it had been several years since Skipper went to join his family. Enough time had passed that the edge had worn off the grief. Now I needed to process the new information. Why had Dad not told me the truth? He lied to me. There was one thing you learned early on with Dad – you did not lie to him and he did not lie to you. Dad would not even teach me that there was a Santa Clause because he knew someday I would find out it was a lie. Now, my granddad – his dad – would lead a cow around the house every Christmas Eve and tell us it was the reindeer. So, I did believe in Santa, Dad just never helped predicate his existence. So, here I was – lost my dog and Dad had told me a lie.
Somewhere in the wisdom of my 12 year old mind I reasoned out that Dad did not really lie to me. Well, he did but not a bad lie. Really, just a story to save a little girl from the truth. Dad tried for many years to protect me from the lies of the world. I lived in a fairy tale world created by all those around me. I was the youngest of the cousins living on the mountain so I was treated like a little princess. The lies of the real world would have to be faced soon enough.
I would not take anything for my childhood in the country. I only wish kids now days had the chance to live where there are no tiny backyards with fence that you cannot venture out of. A place where you knew everybody and you were somebody. A place where you could have 7 dogs and 21 cats and nobody cared. (We had a big barn and crib so there were plenty of mice to eat) A place where the morning smelled like honeysuckles and the night was filled with fire flies.
Yes, I am talking about the “good ole days” and for me they truly were good.
I did not tell Dad that I overheard his conversation until I was 16. He knew and I knew it was O.K. and I appreciated what he did for me.
When is a lie not a lie – when someone you love loves you enough to make the story have a happy ending.
May all your stories have happy endings and may God send you honeysuckle scented mornings.