Joy Battista

"Joy Battista" stands for the Joy of John the Baptist at the presence of Christ.

"And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy." Luke 1:43-44

This blog is dedicated to all who seek the Joy of Christ's presence in their own lives.
This blog is also dedicated to the unborn, for John the Baptist was an unborn when he leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus who was also unborn at the time.

WELCOME!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sad News, Good News and Pictures!

I'd like to give a little update on BJ, the boy I blogged about on December 22nd. He passed away that night. I couldn't bring myself to update his fate until now because of my emotions and because I wanted to spare you the sad news the week of Christmas.

The news hit Will, Michaela and I hard. Michaela remembered BJ from camp last summer and his cancer was the same kind she had. She has been blessed to survive her cancer twice. We feel so bad for BJ and pray for his family now.

But the good news is that I realize, because of BJ, that the best Christmas gift I received this year was good health for all of my family!! Literally all of my immediate and extended family enjoyed Christmas without much more than a sniffle. As far as I know family from far away also enjoyed the holidays with good health too. I do not take any of it for granted!! It is a gift from God.

I've not put a picture gallery together of my family on this blog yet, so I thought I would do a sample of photos to celebrate God's gift of good health. Thank You Baby Jesus for blessing us abundantly this Christmas season!!

You will be treated to the kids enjoying the holidays and also baptism pictures of my new Godchild Graham Michael! Graham was baptized December 26th. This was another gift from Baby Jesus to our entire family!! Enjoy


Christmas eve morning frosting cookies


Happy 3 year old Daniel


Pretty and Healthy 15 year old Michaela


This was a picture I plugged in from our Christmas card (not mailed yet, yikes) because after Christmas Eve services Cole and Eric changed too fast for me to get them in their church clothes.


Will playing cards with Cole and Michaela Christmas Eve


Christmas morning the kids each found two presents from Santa and one more from Will and I.


Christmas Morning Breakfast


Graham, held by Michaela, is getting ready to be baptized while cousins Carlin and Sydney look from behind.


I'm in the red watching Graham get baptized!


Such a happy moment with my sister Ann and her husband, proud daddy, Matt.


My brother Chris, on the left, stood in for the Godfather (a friend of Matt's) and we all posed with Father Jirosvsky of St. Johns Parish in Lincoln, NE.


Big brother Charlie is the cute two year blonde in the picture


Annie and Graham gaze at each other with delight after his baptism that Christmas weekend. Oh what a blessing!! Can you imagine the gazes between Mary and Jesus that first Christmas. This picture is maybe a sliver of that love....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Take A Deep Breath Right Now

Ten year old BJ probably won't recover from the illness that he is fighting. He is in critical condition and in an intensive care unit in Omaha right now. He also has leukemia. I read this message on an e-mail just moments ago and it sure put life into perspective.

If you have been feeling the pressures of the season maybe you can take a deep breath right now and really contemplate the reason for the season. It's not so much about gifts and food and decorations... It's about Jesus and the comfort and joy of knowing that his birth was, aside from Mary's yes, the first thing that had to happen to open up the gates of heaven so that when we die we can be there with him for the rest of our lives!

No gift given to BJ can surpass the gift of Christmas! The real meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Days Until Christmas, Five Things to Do!

I heard the following on KVSS Spirit Catholic Radio today from Fr. Al Lauer of Presentation Ministries. He listed five things to do to prepare for Christmas:

1. Pray and Fast
2. Forgive, Confess and Repent
3. Witness & Evangelize
4. Be Silent, So you can think straight and reflect.
5. Accept Mary as the Mother of Christmas and your mother.

Fr. Al Lauer summarized this and said, Obey God, let Jesus be in charge.

Wishing you Joy and Blessings as you prepare for the celebration of Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"A Mother is as Happy as Her Unhappiest Child"

I’ve heard a repeated saying lately, “A mother is as happy as her unhappiest child.” How true. I read a friends face book post a while back that said, “The kid's disappointments are my own and so are their joys. With 7 kids that means a roller coaster every day.” So true!

I’ve talked to many moms lately who have all shared stories about being at the bottom of the roller coaster ride. The stories have been harrowing and these mom’s hearts have broken along with their children’s. I have also heard these same moms tell stories of how they have started the ride back to the top of the roller coaster. Is there a roller coaster that gets to the top and then stays there? I know from experience that there is one that somehow hangs out at the bottom for a long time and these other moms know about it too. But, it is a reality, for us all that life is indeed a roller coaster ride. Not only physically but spiritually as well.

Here is the great thing that I have been hearing from these moms though. They have all actively worked to make their roller coaster ride as smooth and even as possible. The number one thing that each of these mothers have done is they have prayed for their children. All of these particular mothers (I’ve talked to 4 of them) have had a daughter or two who have really struggled with their social lives. I have to tell you how humbled and inspired I have been by talking to these women of strength! They have been absolutely determined to change the course for their daughters through the power of prayer. And it is working!!

One mother has a daughter who did not receive an invitation from a friend for three years straight. These were the junior high years. In desperation she began a novena to Saint Rita which goes like this:

O Saint Rita, Holy Patroness of the impossible and advocate of the Hopeless, under the weight of hardship, I beseech you.

Free my heart from the burden of my sorrows and restore peace to my tormented spirit. I implore you, whom God elected as Advocate of the Hopeless, to obtain for me this request……..If my sins hinder the realization of my most cherished wishes, obtain for me the grace of sincere repentance and forgiveness, for which I promise a good confession. In any case, Intercede for me so that I no longer have to live in such affliction. Have pity on me!

O Lord, see the hope I am placing in You! Listen to your Blessed Rita. May your Holy Will once more grant her the favor she is asking on my behalf.

Amen

The child finally, this school year, has two friends. The mother continues to pray but is no longer tormented and afflicted with sorrow for her daughter.

Another mother not only makes prayer a priority but she has made practical life changes for her children. She has made a point to surround her children with positive influences outside of school. She has utilized family and friends to form a warm and friendly community for her children to give them a true sense of belonging, thus growing their self confidence. She has also worked very hard to give her children opportunities to be charitable to others. O how wise this mother is. I can tell you that I hope to blog more in depth about this mother and her family!! Stay posted.

The third mother has been praying to Mary for her child. This child is in junior high and has struggled with an entire class of friends. Not only has her mother been praying in earnest but she has also been actively engaged in the community and school to find solutions to the problems that have beset an entire class. This child has recently admitted to her mother that she feels included with a nice group of friends. Again, prayers answered for the child! The mother has been motivated through this experience to work for a turn around in our culture to put aside materialism and bring back the virtue of chastity and faith for our world. I look forward to praying with and working with this wonderful woman who is on fire for Christ.

The last mother I talked to in the past week said she had a daughter who had gone outside of her school to another school to seek out friends two years ago because she had none. Last year she finally found one friend inside her school and this year, her senior year, she has an overflow of friends. This mother had been praying daily for her child, specifically to be blessed with at least one really good friend. Now, her cup runneth over!

Please comment on how you have handled the heartbreaks that come with raising children! You may really help another parent and child with your story.

To read other peoples comments just click onto the word comment below.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Click on to this article about Saint John of the Cross. I love the little biography of his life! I feel like if he could become a Doctor of the Church with his background I can be successful too. If I could have just a tiny sliver of his success I'd be happy. His life gives me hope!! I pray it touches you as well.

ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Faith on the High Wire: YMCA Manhattan Restores Religious Significance to ...

Click on the link below!! It's interesting, newsy, original, informative....not so surprising in this day and age and all about Santa Clause!

Faith on the High Wire: YMCA Manhattan Restores Religious Significance to ...: "In a strange twist of reality, a YMCA in Manhattan has decided to let their Christian roots shine -- which is not the take of most who have ..."

Friday, December 10, 2010

"A Baby Changes Everything"

A friend posted a song and video on face book called “A Baby Changes Everything.” I wish I could figure out how to post it here. I shared it on my face book page if you’d like to go there and watch it. It has video clips from The Nativity Story movie and The Passion of the Christ movie done to a beautiful and moving song called "A Baby Changes Everything." If you have not seen it, you have got to find it before Christmas. It is fabulous!! You can also find it on GodTube which is where it originated.

The thing I have been contemplating and pondering after watching the video is how overwhelmingly difficult life was for the Holy Family. You know, I complain a lot. Much of my complaining is in my head. I think to myself…I wish I had this, or I wish I could do that, or I wish I could go there, or be able to buy such and such… and on and on.

I find myself pondering, this advent, thanks to that video….how Mary and Joseph had nothing but a donkey when it came time to give birth to God. I actually wish I could empty myself and my home of so many things so I could experience them fully.

I have a little book called “Mothering, Becoming the Heart of the Home.” by Rosalie McPhee. It describes The Little Mandate which was given to Catherine Doherty from the Holy Spirit as she listened intently to hear how God wanted her to live the Gospel. The very first mandate says, “Arise-go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly personally to the poor.” The next mandate says, “Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me…going to the poor…being poor…being one with them…one with me.” Next, “Little, be always little! Be simple…poor…childlike.”

When I first read these mandates I didn’t understand until I really thought deeply about the Holy Family. They are my example.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Hope Pregnancy, Part II

Last Sunday’s holy hour was my first since finding out about my molar pregnancy. I have to admit, since I last blogged, I’ve had a couple waves of sadness come over me. I’ve also experienced a sense of dullness in life, I’ve been pretty unmotivated. Food has barely turned me on, planning ahead has been a chore, preparing for Christmas hasn't been appealing. Thank goodness I had a great head start on Christmas planning before I had that fateful OB/GYN appointment last week.

But these dull unmotivated feelings are contrary to the virtue of hope. As I mentioned in my last blog post, Will had a strong inclination to name our baby Hope. Because of that I knew I would begin to study the topic of hope because I was convinced God set me up for it. So one thing I felt motivated to do, finally, was read up on this virtue at my holy hour. God definitely moved me past my frail spiritual infirmities that I was also experiencing along with my dull sense of being and put a little spark into me with what I learned.

The first thing I was moved to do was read over the journal I had started the day I took the positive pregnancy test. It happened to be October 7th which was the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary when I began journaling and here is how it began: “Well, I begin a new, beautiful and joyous chapter in life. It is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This is a most glorious day to learn, at the age of 41, that I am pregnant again. It is a complete surprise, but I am at peace. I have many concerns but am confident that as the days of the blooming of new life proceed that Jesus and Mary and all the Saints in Heaven are with me. My angels, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are firmly on my side.”

I think most of that paragraph sums up how I felt the whole time I thought I was pregnant. I actually realize that it was a genuine sentiment of Hope! This was confirmed to me as I searched the Catholic Catechism for what it had to say about hope at my holy hour. Paragraph 2657 says: “The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ’s return, teaches us to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied language, teach us to fix our hope in God: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Ps 40:2. St. Paul prayed: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Rom 15:13Paragraph 2658 begins: “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Rom 5:5.

After contemplating what I had written and then finding the above scripture passages I am truly comforted after the sadness I have experienced. My own words and those passages confirm to me, yet again, that God is with me at every step no matter the outcome. And though I was not with child, I was completely impregnated with God’s Hope that filled me with his joy and peace.

May you also be filled with hope and excited anticipation this advent, for the coming of baby Jesus this Christmas! And may you hope and rejoice at his second coming when he will fulfill his promise of everlasting peace and joy to those who love him!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Hope Pregnancy

I’ve missed writing on my blog for about a week and a half now. Last week was to be an exciting week for me starting with hosting Thanksgiving in my home for my side of the family and then traveling across the State to visit Will’s parents the Friday after Thanksgiving. And then I was to head off to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Monday with my three year old Daniel to help my sister and her new baby for a week.

The only thing that happened was that I hosted my families Thanksgiving dinner. Daniel woke up with a fever and cough Friday morning and we made the decision that I should stay home with him for the weekend while Will went ahead and took the older three children to see his parents.

All along I had planned on finally revealing to all my friends and family, upon my return from Milwaukee, that I was three months pregnant. My big announcement would happen after I got to spend time with my sister and her newborn. Surely this would put me in the mood for a baby! But God changed my plans again and on Monday morning when I went in for what was to be a twelve week appointment with the OB/GYN I found out that there was no heartbeat and no baby! I experienced a molar pregnancy. Here is the definition I pulled off the internet:

What is a molar pregnancy?
A molar pregnancy happens when tissue that normally becomes a fetus instead becomes a growth, called a mole, in your uterus. Even though it is not an embryo, a mole triggers symptoms of pregnancy.

What causes a molar pregnancy?
Molar pregnancy is thought to be caused by a problem with the genetic information of an egg or sperm. There are two types of molar pregnancy: complete and partial.

Complete molar pregnancy: an egg with no genetic information is fertilized by a sperm. The sperm grows on its own, but it can only become a lump of tissue. It cannot become a fetus. As this tissue grows, it looks a bit like a cluster of grapes. This cluster of tissue is called a mole, and it can fill the uterus.

Partial molar pregnancy: an egg is fertilized by two sperm. Normally this creates twins. But in a partial molar pregnancy, something goes wrong. The placenta grows into a mole instead. Any fetal tissue that forms is likely to have severe defects.

While at the doctor’s appointment on Monday I had an ultra sound to find out why we couldn’t hear a heart beat. There was no heart beat because we couldn’t see a baby. So I was scheduled for a D&C the following Wednesday to clean out my uterus. I still don’t know if I had a complete or partial molar pregnancy.

I now await test results from the tissue to see if there were any cancer cells in it. In that case, life will take on another twist. I am told that cancer is very rare so am crossing my fingers and praying for an all clear. I will for sure have to continue being monitored for HCG levels in my blood for at least a year to make sure nothing grows back.

This, I guess, has been another lesson to show me that God is in control and that I will just have to go for the ride of all his twists and turns in life. I don’t know what his plans are for me next, I just pray that he gives me the strength and wisdom to trust in his divine providence no matter what his plan is.

As for my emotional feelings, I was only slightly sad at first, but not heartbroken, especially since it appeared that there simply was no baby, just symptoms of pregnancy. My feelings, I'm sure, would be different if this was a first or second pregnancy and if I was lots younger (I'm 41). When I took my positive home pregnancy test back in October I was truly at peace and had a feeling of joy with the result, yet nervous as to the future and the health of myself and baby. But those fears have mostly subsided and I'll move on with a fresh outlook of what adventures God has in store for me now.

Will was shocked that there was no heartbeat. He was originally shocked at the positive pregnancy test too but had come to fully accept that we would have another baby. Towards the end of October he had called me from work one day and told me, "I know what we will name the baby! Hope!" Something he saw lead him to that name and he was inspired. So, if indeed we had an early conception that didn't go anywhere but Heaven, we have a beautiful name for the soul, Hope. I'd venture to warn you, I'll probably have a blog post or two about the virtue of Hope in the future. It only seems natural to move on to Hope, after all my writings on Peace.

I "Hope" this finds you doing well, and I "Hope" you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are having a blessed Advent!

Friday, November 26, 2010

All You Ordinary People, Simply Be Faithful!

Here is a preview of the Gospel reading and some commentary for the first Sunday in Advent! I pulled the following from a Mike Harrison e-mail I received. Hope it gives you some inpsiration!!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)

For: Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Sunday of Advent

From: Matthew 24:37-44

The Time of the Second Coming of Christ and of the Last Judgment
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Jesus said to his disciples,) [37] "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. [38] For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, [39] and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. [40] Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. [41] Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.

Vigilance. The Faithful Servant
--------------------------------------------
[42] "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. [43] But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. [44] Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
*************************************************************************************
Commentary:

37-39. In a few strokes our Lord sketches man's perennial insensitivity and care-
lessness towards the things of God. Man thinks it is more important to eat and drink, to find a husband or wife; but if that is his attitude he is forgetting about
the most important thing -- eternal life. Our Lord also foretells that the end of the
world will be like the great flood; the Son of man's second coming will happen unexpectedly, taking people by surprise, whether they are doing good or evil.

40. It is in the context of the ordinary affairs of life -- farmwork, housework, etc.
-- that God calls man, and man responds: that is where his eternal happiness or eternal punishment is decided. To be saved, one does not need to meet any special conditions, or to be in a special position in life: one simply has to be faithful to the Lord in the middle of ordinary everyday affairs.

42. Jesus himself draws from this revelation about the future the practical moral
that a Christian needs to be on the watch, living each day as if it were his last.

The important thing is not to be speculating about when these events will happen and what form they will take, but to live in such a way that they find us in the state of grace.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." -- St Jerome

"The Father uttered one Word; that Word is His Son, and He utters Him forever
in everlasting silence: and in silence the soul has to hear it.
-- St John of the Cross

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anima Christi

One of my favorite prayers that is said during every Mass at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church just after Communion is the Anima Christi:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me, Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O Good Jesus, hear me; Within your wounds, hide me; separated from you let me never be; From the evil one protect me; at the hour of my death, call me; and close to you bid me; That with your saints, I may be, Praising you forever and ever. Amen

I know many of my readers are familiar with this prayer because they too belong to St. Teresa’s Church. If you are not one of them, read it over a few times slowly and try to just take it in.

I’ve always thought this prayer could be studied and contemplated for a wonderful and insightful look at Christ and the Faith. I think each line could stand alone as its own prayer.

I would like to share my favorite lines of the prayer and then hope to hear from you what your favorite lines are and why.

The lines that stand out for me are: Within your wounds, hide me; Separated from you let me never be. The first, Within your wounds, hide me; feels so soothing, I think of it as a soft warm balmy place where I enter into the body of Christ. It is a place of safety for me and this is very comforting. It makes me feel like Christ has a special place just for me where I can escape to stay and be happy.

I have often gone to church and placed myself, in my mind, in the palms of Christ’s hands. His hands, cupped together, hold me and I again feel safe. This is similar to hiding in the wound of Christ. It is a wonderful place to be.

The other line I am most drawn to is, Separated from you let me never be. This really is one of those lines that can stand alone! I could say it all day as an aspiration to Christ. I think I’ll leave it at that and hope to hear from you as to what you feel especially drawn to in this prayer and why!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Amazing Faith of a Three Time Cancer Survivor

Each month I’ve attempted to feature a home based business mom. I missed October so I thought I’d do an extra story for November. But I’m going to change the theme. I’d like to feature a mom with extraordinary faith who has followed God’s promptings without flinching!

I’m going to attempt to tell the story of Mary Koenig. I hope I can do it justice, it is so amazing. Mary spoke at the November St. Teresa’s Confraternity of Christian Mother’s meeting last Saturday. I’m going to tell you parts of her story from memory because I hadn’t planned on blogging about her and didn’t take notes. But her story resonated with me and I feel moved to share it with you.

Mary’s story started 42 years ago when she was adopted as a baby. She grew up happy and well adjusted in a large Catholic family. She had four siblings which included one other who was also adopted. It was a natural and easy thing for families to adopt back then and Mary always felt part of the family and very loved.

Mary met and married her husband Doug after two bouts of cancer as a young adult. She had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which was treated and temporarily held off by chemotherapies. Soon after the marriage, Mary gave birth to two beautiful children, a girl and a boy. About 10 years after her second diagnosis Mary again relapsed with her cancer and was treated for a large tumor in her body.

The next course of treatment would be the most brutal, a bone marrow transplant. The preparations for the transplant which included the highest doses of chemotherapy possible would immediately throw Mary into menopause, thus deeming her permanently infertile. Mary was completely at peace with this because her goal was to live and be there to raise the two children she had already been blessed with.

Mary’s grueling treatments and transplant were a success and soon after she began longing for another child. Discussions with her husband didn’t seem to favor her longing as she and Doug talked about whether this was prudent or fair to bring another child into the family with Mary’s fragile health. Doug knew and expressed his worries that it could become a reality that in the future he may be raising their children without Mary.

But Mary was resolute that since she was alive she wanted to live her life to the fullest. She simply had a true faith and confidence in her future and was willing to trust the plans God had for her family and Doug which included the adoption of a child. Since she had been adopted herself, it seemed natural and the right thing to do now that she had been given another chance at life. Though unconvinced by Mary’s words, Doug remained faithful to his prayer life and the weekly holy hour of adoration that he attended.

One week, while at his holy hour Doug had a vision from Christ. When Mary told the story she left it up to the listeners whether to believe it or not, but she said in a matter of fact way, “Jesus came down from the cross and told Doug to have faith in the adoption of a child.” Doug returned home to tell Mary of his vision and Mary was elated and the next day immediately began the process of adopting a child.

Mary described the process as if it were a pregnancy in reverse. The labor pains happened at the beginning of the pregnancy during the time of deciding which route to go to adopt and then filling out mountains of paper work, getting scrutinized and having deep research into their lives to determine their suitability for the adoption of a child.

There were three ways the family could go in adopting. One was by fostering first, another was through an international agency and a third was through a private attorney. They found that the fastest way to adopt and the best chance for a permanent adoption was the international route and that’s the way they went.

Once they made the decision to adopt internationally and completed the rigorous research they waited and about six months later received a call that a child was in need of a home.

To make a long story short, the “pregnancy” ended with a couple trips Russia to adopt a 24 month old girl they named Tatiana (Ana). When Ana finally arrived home she came into the house and immediately became a member of the family without any sort of adjustment. She never experienced any separation anxiety or mental issues regarding the circumstances surrounding her adoption. It was really amazing how easily Ana’s entrance into the Koenig family happened.

Mary’s longings to adopt continued but she faced the reality that her family was most likely complete. She still had some old paper work from an attorney that facilitates 3-4 adoptions per year. This attorney has written and passed many of the adoption laws in the State of Nebraska and keeps a file of potential adoptive parents on the off chance she gets a call that a child is in need of adoption. The paper work for her file is extremely short compared to the international agency. Mary described it as a two page application.

Mary had filled out the paperwork long before and happened to come across it tucked away in an envelope in her home, and decided that instead of her throwing it away she would send it in and let the attorneys office throw it away. She just knew they would never accept her application since she had a poor health history and already had three children. But with a stubborn streak Mary mailed it anyway.

Mary received a call about six months after bringing Ana home and got a message that a pregnant mother had reviewed her file and wanted to meet her and Doug. Mary asked the Attorney’s assistant, “Is this a joke?” The assistant had to convince Mary that this was no joke. And the process of adopting another child began.

Mary and Doug were told that the mother was seven months pregnant and the baby was going to be born with health issues. Again to make a long story short, the mother chose Doug and Mary and gave birth to Christiona. Christiona had severe health issues that kept her hospitalized for six months but is now perfectly healthy and about 5 years old. It was an open adoption and they continue seeing the biological mother every couple months. Mary once asked the mother if she ever feels she made the wrong decision and would like to have her child back. The mother was sincere in her joy that she placed her child in the perfect home, she said her daughter has everything she ever dreamed for her to have!

Mary’s longings for more children continued and with each child she has had discussions with Doug that were not in her favor. But Doug always became inspired to accept another child and they have since adopted two more daughters. The third adoption was a foster child that came to the Koenigs as a beautiful healthy five pound baby girl. The baby came to the family when Mary was in the throws of the flu. Alena was cared for by Doug for the first week. Mary became convinced that the baby needed to go back and that it was just an unfortunate time to take in another baby. Doug said, “no way Mary, I’ve become attached to this baby.”

The last adoption was another sickly baby that survived a couple open heart surgeries as a newborn before Doug and Mary became involved through the foster program again. Doug and Mary have officially adopted 16 month old Josephina. Mary admitted this child is delayed and will be taking her and Doug on a new and uncharted journey in their lives. But with unwavering faith they have accepted this baby with open arms and value her dignity as a child of God.

This story of amazing faith is extraordinary!! I know that Mary views it in a very humble way which makes it even more endearing. God has blessed the family beyond their wildest dreams. Though life still has many struggles for the Koenigs, just like every other family, their faith has sustained them and their love has expanded with each child. This family is a testament to how to follow the promptings of God and let him lead the way, for his way is the way of sacrifice and love.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friendship

Have you ever needed God to give you a nugget of His presence for a particular need? I think most would answer yes. And have you ever picked up your bible and just let it fall open to hear what God wants you to know or to fulfill your need? Again, I bet you have.

Well, I've been experiencing a sort of writers block and a busy life that has put my blogging on the back burner. I was on a roll when I began my blog last summer and into the school year but recently have fallen out of practice. I do hope you enjoyed Sue Kouma Johnson’s story, I left it at the top of my blog extra days, but now it's time to move on. When I sat down to blog this I had a blank thought in my mind as to what to write. So I picked up my Saint Josemaria Escriva book which was close by and let it fall open hoping the Holy Spirit would guide my thoughts for this blog post.

My book The Way Furrow The Forge fell open to the chapter on Friendship. I thought, perfect, this is a great topic for me because I have recently felt a real need for guidance on friendship. In fact just last night I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about life and felt a real sense of loss. I was in intense need of a certain kind of friendship. And the only person that kept coming to my mind was my mother. Oh how I wished my mother was around to confide in. But mom is gone and I wept last night because I would never hear her comforting words telling me everything will be ok. I was really needing to poor out my thoughts and worries and needs to her and feel her unconditional love for me no matter what I said to her. I’d like to ask you, is that possible in a friend?

My remedy, last night with nobody else awake, was my rosary. I was too distraught to read and I couldn’t sleep so I laid there and prayed. I was feeling extremely alone and sorrowful, so I chose to pray the sorrowful mysteries. When I got to the last decade, the crucifixion, I thought of the good thief hanging there next to Jesus asking him to remember him when he entered his kingdom. Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” I thought if that good thief were to ask for something during Jesus worst time of suffering, I could do the same. So I asked Jesus while hanging up on his cross for my needs too. A short while after I had finished my rosary I realized my sorrow had completely dissipated. It was totally gone, I no longer had the lump in my throat and sadness for the loss of mom and I stopped thinking about all my worries. I know I have a true friend in Jesus and Mary and I’m sure my mom was also there with me too to reassure me that everything will be ok.

My goal now is to be the best mother possible to my children, because I know how important I am to them. I am their soft spot, the one to give them unconditional love and hopefully true friendship and comfort in all there anxieties, especially when they are adults. Some things that have gone on with Michaela were some of my worries last night. I have a renewed sense of just being there for her in all her times of need.

I also have a goal to be a better friend to others. All you friends reading this, I am a great listener and I will pray for you and I hope to be a better friend to you. Just give me a call or write me a note. Saint Josemaria Escriva said many things about friendship. Here are a couple of his counsels: #757 “Practicing charity means respecting other peoples way of thinking. It means rejoicing at their road to God, without trying to make them think like you or joining you. It occurred to me to put this consideration to you. These other ways are different, but parallel; each person will reach God by following his own way. Don’t get sidetracked in comparisons, or in wanting to know who is higher. That does not matter; what does matter is that we should all attain the end.” And #768, “Have recourse to the Blessed Virgin every day with complete confidence. Your soul and your life will feel comforted at once. She will let you partake of the treasures she keeps in her heart, for “never has it been known that anyone who sought her protections was left unaided.” I had to write this second counsel because I was so comforted last night after I prayed the rosary. She gave me Jesus and that unconditional love I was looking for.

I would love any comments on friendship that any of you have here! Do you give unconditional love to your friends? If so how?

(By the way, if you are not Catholic and would like to know more about the rosary, let me know. I want you to know Catholics don’t worship or pray to Mary, we pray the rosary which leads us to Jesus through Mary his mother. It is essentially a meditation of the gospels. Go to face book to leave me the message or comment here because I forgot my hotmail password, so embarrassing that I can‘t access it. I’ve tried to change it but need my password to change it. Go figure. I hope to get it changed soon.)
Otherwise God Bless You!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Life Long Art Dream Comes True for Mother of Five

Sue Kouma Johnson is a busy artist painting bright pictures of saints and symbols, nature scenes and roses. And her artwork has been beautifully framed inside silver charms designed by Sarah Long of Brown Dog Studio (Sarah was the September featured home based business mom).

Sue’s success has evolved after many years of education, discernment, motherhood, and some moments of failure. But Sue has fulfilled a childhood dream. She has known since second grade that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. Now she has become successful at combining her love for the Catholic faith with paintings to fulfill that life long dream. Sue’s journey has been very colorful and inspirational for any other woman and mother out there who has a longing to make her dream come true.

Sue began her journey when she first enrolled at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in a fine arts program after graduating from high school. She was an art major for two years when she felt a calling to discern the religious life. Her deep faith already had her using saints in her art. But to explore her vocation she went to Immaculata, PA and joined the Christ the King Sisters where she spent the next two years discerning whether she was called to a religious vocation. She was able to discern that the religious life was not her calling and she returned to Nebraska where she resumed her art program at UNL.

Sue was introduced to many art forms while in college including those that she was interested in: pottery, sculpture, painting and print making. “I tried everything but after graduating with a degree in Fine Arts I kept painting. The painting was the easiest for me that did not require a lot of equipment,” Sue said.

Sue paints with a style all her own, “I love color and people are drawn to colors. A lot of religious art is toned down and mine is different for people.” Sue was drawn to icons and the modern art of Matisse and Chagall which provided her the inspiration of mixing fantasy with religious imagery which is bright and imaginative. Sue said, “My style developed from combining modern art with icons.”

Sue’s style and success, that she now carries with her to Catholic art shows and conferences all over the country, did not come about immediately after college. What happened immediately after college were a couple shows that Sue had at various venues in Lincoln, Nebraska including the Hayden Art Gallery, a coffee shop and the Rogers House. These were great but Sue got married and said, “I had five babies and the art went on the back burner.”

During the years of mothering small children Sue kept her art alive by sketching pictures of Saints each month that went on Holy Cards. They were handed out to people at Catholic Social Services. Meanwhile Sue said, “Caring for small children was fulfilling, I loved it and this was my art.” She home schooled her children which was very time consuming.

Eventually Sue needed to find work that was very flexible which could also help the family financially. She began doing jobs as a home helper to elderly and people in need of those services. The flexibility was great but Sue said, “I had a desire rising up in me over the years to do my art. An urge to paint and create came back as I got older so I cut back on my cleaning jobs.” Besides the desire Sue knew she could make more income with her art.

The desire became reality when a friend of Sue’s commissioned her to paint a picture of her daughters confirmation Saint about 4-5 years ago. This was such a positive experience that it prompted Sue to discuss with her husband the longing she had to cut back on the home helper work to focus on her art. With his support Sue began painting and now has a wide collection of Saints, symbols and nature scenes for people to choose from.

Sue began taking her paintings and prints to different art and craft shows. Through a years worth of trial and error Sue and her husband found that their niche for her type of painting is at Catholic conferences and art shows. She found that, “people who are intense about their faith like artwork that shows their faith.“ Along with her paintings she sells the charms that Sarah Long of Brown Dog Studio creates with her art in them. She said, “The charms are an added feature, they take no extra space for me and are special to people. People appreciate them because sometimes they don‘t have room in their home for art but they like my work, so buying a charm is great for them, and knowing the person that made the religious image has more meaning. Catholic women like things that have meaning spiritually.”

Sue has shown and sold her paintings, prints and charms in Catholic art shows and conferences in Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago and as far away as Canada just to name a few.
Sue usually travels with her husband John, or a daughter or two who help her set up, show and sell her art. John is very involved with Sue’s business by exploring the internet and booking her for the art shows and Catholic conferences. He also rents cars for Sue and books the hotels for her. In the month of October Sue attended four different weekends of conferences. She always enjoys these and even gets to attend many of the conference sessions in between the sales of her art.

Sue estimates that she works an average of 20-25 hours a week and uses part of her kitchen as her art studio. She intends to grow and expand her business by continuing to attend conferences and art shows, through her website at www.suekoumajohnson.com, on the internet at her Etsy site and by finding stores that will carry her art. Currently her art is already being carried at Gloria Deo, a book, gift and church goods store in Lincoln and also in a church good store out of State.

The quality of Sue's paintings are supurb and anyone who purchases her art will have art that will survive for generations. John purchased a good printer for the business and does all printing from home. They have transitioned into using archival pigments and papers which are meant to last for 200 years.

With two college age kids, one in high school and two in grade school now, Sue has a successful art business that combines her love of her faith with her life long art dream that keeps her busy and provides a really good part time income.

Go to www.suekoumajohnson.com to see all of Sue's art where they can also be purchased.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saint Francis of Assisi, a Chosen Saint

Every evening for the past couple weeks I've been trying to get my husband and kids off the subject of football and jello at the dinner table. We seem to be able to hold fine conversations about the Nebraska Cornhuskers, our disdain for the Texas Longhorns and our bliss for having beaten Oklahoma State. Our family also has an inside joke about the topic of jello. It would not be worth my time to try to explain it to you but I'll have to admit it has caused me to giggle many times and has helped us bond through silly goofy humor.

But I have tried to get a little more serious at the dinner table as this is a sacramental year for Cole our 5th grader. He will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in the spring and is in the midst of decision making and preparation. Several of these past evenings at the dinner table we have managed to sneak in a little saint talk. I have stopped those serious football conversations and silly jello jokes to ask Cole, "What saint are you thinking about choosing for your Confirmation name?" And then I couldn't help myself but indulge him with all my favorite saints that he could choose from: St. Augustine, St. Anthony, Padre Pio....and of course St. Francis of Assisi. Eric chimed in with St. Blaise who he dressed as for his saint party at school.

Cole couldn't seem to commit. Until...last Sunday evening because he had to fill in his saint sheet with the saint he had decided to choose for his confirmation name, it was due Monday. And......drum roll..........he chose.......St. Francis of Assisi.

I must say, with regret, I wasn't convinced that Cole put a whole lot of thought and prayer into this selection. I say this because the sheet he filled out asked a couple simple questions about the saint that Cole couldn't answer on his own. And I helped him fill it out so I feel because of this it was a last minute decision to choose St. Francis of Assisi. I hope I'm wrong though and maybe the Holy Spirit or his guardian angel whispered in his ear to choose him. I'm hoping Cole will find as the years progress that he indeed chose the perfect saint to lean on and emulate all through his life.

I couldn't be more tickled with his choice though. If you haven't read my previous October post on Saint Francis of Assisi please read it, you will enjoy that story I believe. If you have already read it you should know I recently made an edit to it, Saint Francis of Assisi is my husband Will's Confirmation name, not Padre Pio as I had written. I don't know how I got that mixed up.

Saint Francis is a great reminder to us about Peace and how to obtain it. If you haven't prayed his prayer for awhile I invite you to pray it now:

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are
born to eternal life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Shopping Trip Adventure for Mother of Five

The following is a facebook post I read from my friend Karrie Seeman. I loved it so much I asked her permission to share it on my blog and of course she said yes! Enjoy.

The other day I took all five kids shopping at Walmart. Last time I did this I got looks from people and a checkout lady who seemed irritated with my bunch (and they were well behaved that day. ) I guess I forgot about that day until the looks started as soon as I went down the first isle.

Ok here we go..... By the second lane I spotted a man who was staring with somewhat of a disgusted look. I'm sure he was trying to avoid us but by the third isle there we were again, Facing each other this time. Just when I was about to ask him...."what? Do you own this store?" I stepped out of my situation and looked at us....Joe was on the bottom of the cart face and stomach down and his arms and legs hanging off the front and the back like superman, Gabby was walking along arm extended hitting everything on the shelves as we walked by, Maggie was in the top front of the cart singing a one word song she made up titled diarrhea , and Grace was 10 ft behind us with the fresh bread we bought half way up her nose still saying mmmm it smells so good. SO..... I guess it was a lot to take in for a single guy.

By the 5th isle the man smiled at us and when we finally made it to the front he said WOW you really have your hands full. Again I wanted to say " well we both made it up here at the same time" instead I thought about his comment..... And I DO have my hands full. THANKS BE TO GOD!!!!

I think by the time we got up to the front we grew on him. Who knows what his story was... We will never know but I know we made his day a little more exciting. Maybe his initial look was because he was just having a bad day and as the store time went on he enjoyed being a part of our energy or should I say on that day, circus.

I'm happy I took the time that day to enjoy my life in a big family! I'm thankful to God my hands are full even though some days It's not easy. When I think about that comment I realize that my hands are full and because of that so is my heart.

Needless to say the trip to the parking lot was a continuation of craziness. Joe dropped a gallon of milk and it spilled all over the parking lot and as we finally had a chance to pull away our side van door fell off in the parking lot. YES..... We were worth staring at that day!! It worked out because it gave my hero of a husband a chance to come out and save the day! When he showed up to help us the kids cheered like superman had just arrived and then we realized that in all our imperfections we have a beautiful family. We are so blessed. No need to worry when people stare.... Maybe they miss their family, maybe their having a tough day and maybe just maybe we are a sight to see!

God is Good!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busy Busy Busy Mom......

Since the beginning of my blog I think this is the longest I have gone without posting my own article. My last post was an easy and fast post, a link to somebody else's article about Christopher Columbus. I hope you read and enjoyed it.

Like all work at home moms(we all work, whether paid or not)I have lots to do, therefore have put blogging on the back burner this past week.

I have been pre-occupied with other things and I hope you will stick with me now and in the future because I want to be here to give you inspiration, cheer you on and just be a friend and ally to you on your journey through life.

Here's what I have been up to though, just in case you wanted to know. As the President of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers at Church I have been preparing for our new member initiation and brunch which will happen next Saturday. This has given me some extra busy work, but I have enjoyed it. If you are a St. Teresa's mom and still want to attend, be sure to let me know! I'd love to see you there.

I have written three articles and am in the middle of a fourth one. The first was for the Fall Witherbee Neighborhood Association Newsletter. I took pictures of the St. Teresa's feast day parish family picnic and submitted them along with an article. I had a deadline for this and, hooray, made my deadline. For those of you who attended, newsletters will be in the vestibule of church soon. You or one of your children may be pictured. I also accepted a position on the WNA board of directors. I have enjoyed writing articles for them for the past year about St. Teresa's and definitely want to continue my involvement with them. So they had asked me to submit a profile and picture of myself to place in their newsletter to introduce me as a new board member. Again I wrote a little profile article and met my deadline, hooray. If you have any future article ideas for the Witherbee Neighborhood Association, let me know! And my third article was a Varicak Family description for the photo album our school is putting together. I put a deadline for that one myself so I would be done with it and wouldn't have to think about it again, hooray. None of the above was difficult, but it all kept me busy busy busy.

The fourth article which I am still working on is about Sue Kuoma Johnson, whom I interviewed for my blog. She will be the October feature of a successful home based business mom. Sue is the mother of five whose childhood dream of becoming an artist has come true. Sue now travels the country and sells her fantastic paintings. Watch for this article to be posted soon! You won't want to miss Sue's inspirational story.

On top of the articles, I decided to hold a Premier Designs Jewelry Show. I used to be a consultant for Premier several years ago. My friend Brenda just became a consultant, so to help her out I decided to hold a show. I also wanted to see the latest in offerings by Premier and try to earn some free jewelry by holding the show. This is an economical way of treating myself to something special and sparkly and do a little Christmas shopping at the same time. The show is in a week and a half and I have also been busy preparing for it. If you are reading this and you personally know me, of course you are invited. I gave Brenda about 35 names and addresses of those to invite whose addresses I had easy access to. So if you did not receive one just give me a call and I'll give you the details if you'd like to see the catalog or attend.

So now that you know some things that I have been up to on top of mothering four children and trying to be a loving wife, I hope you come back again because as I said before I aim to inspire you and help you along your life's journey through stories of success and adventure and love. I believe that giving of ourselves to the Church and Community as well as being a good friend are beautiful ways to teach our children how to be good Christians. So though we are busy busy busy with little and some big things we can strive to serve out of love.

St. Josemaria Escriva said, "Do everything for love. In that way there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverence in the little things for love is heroism."

To me all the things we do in our own lives that make us so busy are the little things that will make us heroes, IF, we do them out of love!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Honoring Christopher Columbus

Honoring Christopher Columbus

Click the above link to read all the historical facts about Christopher Columbus! He was a Catholic that discovered America and changed the world. He was a hero!!

One fact missing, that I learned at church today was that he was a third order Franciscan. If you read my blog post last week about St. Francis of Assisi you must know how cool I think this is.

Enjoy this article for a great true story!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Schedule God In and Love Lavishly

In every age, times have been serious. But it seems our time is one of the most serious where the devil has been unleashed on all of humanity in a thorough way through wars and abortions, immorality, false religions, family divisions, political problems and on and on. I heard at Mass this morning that we can keep the devil out of our hearts by loving lavishly. Loving lavishly was a recurring theme all week at St. Teresa’s Church at the daily children’s Masses.

Personally I can think of lots of ways to love lavishly right in my home. The ways would include: being there wholeheartedly for my husband and children, working hard to make my home a comfort for all who enter by cleanliness, a welcoming attitude and a smiling face. I can extend a hand to a neighbor or listen to a friend. I can be there for extended family and give alms to the poor. I can also do every little and big job with excellence for God (Excellence in all you do, happens to be a central tenent of the “You Can Become a Saint Study“ I‘m in). This list can go on and on too.

One of my favorite ways to love lavishly, above and beyond what I’ve already mentioned, is to simply love God through prayer and talking to him and acknowledging Him throughout my days. This to me is the BEST way to lavishly love God. If I can do this well then all the other items I do in my home, family, community and for the world will be all the more effective and true.

I’ve learned in my “You Can Become a Saint” Study that I should actually schedule God into my days. Writing it down makes it become more concrete and easier to implement. So far I have failed at writing anything down. But I have done a pretty good job of implementing a bit of a schedule. Two new items for me are to attend daily Mass every morning and get down on my knees and pray a rosary every afternoon.

I’ve always tried to get to daily mass but it has been hit and miss. I now have a renewed reason to consistently attend Mass and say an entire rosary daily. I have a couple of BIG special intentions on my plate. I’ve decided that since I haven’t done what I’m suppose to do by writing a schedule down for God, He has decided to give me some serious reasons to make sure I start a regular schedule of loving him lavishly. Some day I will share my reasons, but for now I can share that God is 150% obviously involved in my renewed purpose for going to Him and Mary on a scheduled basis!

How about you? How do you love lavishly? Has God inspired you to schedule Him into your days?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Faith & Family Live! : The Rosary as a Family Affair

Faith & Family Live! : The Rosary as a Family Affair
To think about saying a family rosary, on this beautiful Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, click onto the above article. Read through it and scroll down to the comments where I posted a comment. Join in on the discussion if you are moved to do so. And PRAY THE ROSARY! God Bless You All.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Personal Saint Francis of Assisi Story to Celebrate His Feast Day

I never really thought about peace before. Not very deeply anyways. The first time I felt really drawn to the word and its meaning was within the last couple years when I read an e-mail from a friend who signed it Peace, Jean. It struck me as extremely profound the first time I read it from her. And subsequent e-mails from Jean have been read with great anticipation for that final message of Peace.

Another girlfriend, Shane, whom I more recently began corresponding with also signs her e-mails with PEACE. My relationship with Shane is currently blossoming and I have found that she and Jean have so much in common. In short they are both very beautiful, kind and gentle souls. They are also very confident and serious about their Faith and Peace seems to flow from them.

For me Peace has been more elusive and I pray really hard to God to have peace in my heart and in my family. I’m going to make a confession about my worst habit that causes my lack of peace. It is that I am extremely impatient and I am a yeller to my kids and husband. I very rarely swear but I yell. I would be embarrassed for Jean or Shane to know about this problem. I guess if they read this my secret is out.

Well, I took my major lack of peace problem directly to God at my holy hour of adoration one Sunday evening. Earlier that particular day the children were fighting and I was yelling and not understanding why we as an intact family don‘t have more peace even after we pray together so much as a family and attend Church together regularly and talk a lot about how to treat one another. I’m sure any psychologist that came and studied our family could pinpoint the problem immediately. Now that I think about it we did consult a child psychologist a few times as a family and he told my husband and I as parents to discipline with as little verbal communication as possible. That explains it for me I just talk too much and yell too much. I know what to do but I’m having a hard time doing it. So I sought God’s intervention at my holy hour.

God never disappoints. One of the first things I did at my holy hour as usual was I wrote the names of my family down on the daily intention sheet for each day of the following week. At the end of our six names I wrote the word Peace. Then I prayed to God to give me something concrete to help me know how to obtain peace. I browsed the book shelf and came across a small devotional book on St. Anthony of Padua. I read through the entire book. My hour quickly came to a close and as I walked out of Church I saw another friend, Lucy, and I couldn’t help but to say “have a peaceful night.” While at Church I didn’t feel that God had answered my prayer about how to obtain peace. But I wasn’t disappointed because I knew this much, prayer and silence gave me peace for the time I was there.

When I arrived home and began to get ready to go to bed a light bulb went on in my head. The Saint Francis of Assisi prayer had been in the St. Anthony book I had just read at my holy hour. The prayer begins, “Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace…“ It occurred to me that God did concretely answer my prayer for peace! The prayer showed me exactly what I needed to do to obtain peace. I was excited and thought about that prayer all the next day. I quickly forgot about it after that though because of the hustle and bustle of my family life. But God didn’t forget.

The next Sunday evening at my holy hour I was seeking a magazine for which I wanted to get the address so I could submit an article. I sifted through a plastic box full of little books and devotionals looking for the small publication. I found it and wrote down the address, put it back in the box and attempted to return the box. As I tried to shove the box back into place something behind it had fallen making it impossible for me to put the box back. Of course, because I am impatient, I tried to shove it harder hoping it would finally go back in. It did not and I was frustrated so I pulled the plastic box toward me and grabbed a couple books out that had been in the way. I took a look at the books and one caught my eye. It was a memory book of a young woman I had heard of who had died several years ago. Her name was Francis Walsh.

Francis, who was 25 years old, had died suddenly in a car accident about a half mile from where I was sitting there in church. I knew that she was the little sister of a priest who had previously been in residence at my church and I was intrigued about her life. I had never talked to anybody about her but had read the accounts of the accident in the newspaper at the time of her death. Through the newspaper I did know that she had recently begun working at Catholic Social Services and her very large Catholic family, who was well known in the community, was very saddened at her passing. I had also thought very highly of her brother Father Walsh and had always enjoyed his sermons. Like I said, the book intrigued me and I was immediately drawn in to reading it. It was written by her father.

There were several highlights for me as I read the book. One was the account that Francis’s Father gave as to the origin of her name. The first thing was she was indeed named after St. Francis of Assisi. Mr. Walsh mentioned that he had known several people named Francis and all of them had difficult lives but because of his love for the Saint he decided to take the chance and still give her the name Francis. He did recall many struggles that Francis had in her short life. But she worked through them even earning a Masters Degree in Counseling. She remained Faithful to Christ her whole life and that seemed to be a great comfort to the family even though she had many struggles.

Another Highlight was that Francis was born on the feast of St. Wenceslaus. They sang good King Wenceslaus to her at every birthday. She seemed to get a kick out of it and it provided for many great memories.

Francis Walsh had a best friend and her name was Jean, the same Jean that I have referred to who signs her e-mails with Peace. I feel even more privileged somehow to have a friendship with Jean now. Jean had provided Mr. Walsh with a lot of material for his book including great laughs. But it occurred to me that maybe Francis Walsh had provided Jean with the inspiration to sign all her e-mails with Peace.

The amazing thing to me was that I stayed up until three o’clock in the morning to finish the book. I kept looking for my lesson, the reason God wanted me to read it. I couldn’t seem to get there so I kept reading and reading until finally at the very end of the book came the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. I again had been given this prayer as a guide from God on how to obtain peace. And then I cried like a baby. First for the loss that Francis’ family endured and secondly at the thought that God really is always with me and answers my prayers. He keeps knocking at my door!

My story doesn’t end here because the next morning the Holy Spirit kept stirring in my heart to continue learning about St. Francis of Assisi and his Peace message. It occurred to me, as it also had while I was reading Frances Walsh’s memory book, that I had a deceased grandmother named Francis. I also realized that Grandma’s birthday was in the same month, April, that I was reading this book. I had to dig around my house to confirm that and as I did I came across a bookmark that had been made which on one side had the Prayer of Saint Francis written out and on the other side my Great Grandmother’s obituary write-up. This was Grandma Francis’s mother. I read about her and she and I had something in common and that is we were both involved with the Confraternity of Christian Mothers groups at each of our churches. The name of her church was St. Wenceslaus. What a coincidence!! Actually I don’t really believe in mere coincidences I believe in divine providence.

On top of all of that I realized my sister, Ann Francis, named her son Charles Francis when he was born on October 4th, 2008, which is also the Feast day of Saint Frances of Assisi! She had the name picked out way before his birth, and no it wasn’t a scheduled birth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLIE!

God’s divine providence has continued to keep St. Francis in my life. I shared my story with my friend Lucy, who I saw in church the first night I read the St. Anthony book. She told me that St. Frances’ life was very instrumental in her conversion to the Catholic Faith. Lucy also had read the Frances Walsh book!! The two of us figured out then and there that Lucy’s husband’s family and the Walshes were all Irish families from Gretna Nebraska. The Walsh’s had lived on Langdon Street which was Lucy’s last name. We were filled with the Holy Spirit at this revelation.

Upon further enthusiastic discussion about my story Lucy gave me a picture book about St. Francis which gave many stories of his miracles with nature. One such story was about how he used to sing with Cicadas. They actually would land on him and they would sing together. One of my first poems that I have written as an adult is called The Song of the Cicadas. At this additional providential discovery I began to feel more and more enamored with St. Frances and will pray to him for guidance in all my endeavors, especially when writing and spreading the word of God.

I had shared with Lucy that I couldn’t figure out why the St. Anthony book that started this whole story had the St. Francis prayer stuck right in the middle of it. She didn’t know either. A couple weeks had passed and I finally made the connection through coming across another children’s book that St. Anthony was also a Franciscan and had actually known St. Francis when he was alive. The book related the story that the Infant Jesus appeared to Anthony. It stated that, “Because of his love for the Infant Jesus, St. Anthony attracts children and young people, and helps them to preserve their purity and innocence in this world which is so full of immorality and sin.” (Saint Anthony of Padua, by Father Lovasik, S.V.D.) I must also pray to Saint Anthony to attract Children and young people to God through my writing.

Another Franciscan that has been knocking on my door is Saint Padre Pio. He has been popping up for me in various places. One thing St. Padre Pio did as a child was when another child would swear in his presence he would turn and run away as if he was fleeing the devil.

I think sometimes my children would like to flee from me when I yell. I truly know the path to peace. I’ll keep praying and persevering to obtain peace in my heart and family. For if I can then God can use me like he uses Jean and Shane and Francis…..

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Teresa's Feast Day and the Story of a Cross!

Saint Teresa of Lisieux is the patron saint of my parish! Every year on October,
1rst a grand celebration is held by the parish with a Mass which is celebrated by the Bishop of Lincoln, NE. Usually the Bishop presides over an evening Mass but this year he was the main Celebrant of the Children's daily Mass which was held this morning.

Banners were placed throughout the Church with pictures of the life of St. Teresa. The pictures above and below are two of them. The banners will stay up the entire month of October bringing an extra feeling of warmth inside the church. They are a beautiful reminder of the Saint's journey on this earth. On the first of November they will be returned to the St. Teresa museum inside the rectory.

The school posted the cutouts below on the front of their entry way. What a great reminder to the school children of Saint Teresa's promise to shower down roses here on earth when we pray for her intercessions. She is a most powerful Saint who has the ear of Jesus. She is also a doctor of the Church.

A beautiful procession in and out of Church for the Feast Day Mass included 25-35 girls dressed as Saint Teresa. Below is a picture of a couple of the girls who dressed and had processed in the Mass.

I wish I could really express how wonderful this morning was and I didn't even capture the beauty completely in these few pictures that I've posted. But I can tell more about how great Saint Teresa the little flower is in a personal testimony below.

While my daughter Michaela was being treated for her leukemia our family prayed very hard for her. The kindness of the parishioners of Saint Teresa's came through in the most unexpected ways and places. These were some of the answers to our prayers!!

One totally unexpected blessing was a cross which was given to my husband, Will, one evening when he was at a holy hour. He thought he was alone in the Church when a fellow parishioner came up to him and offered him the cross that slides open and has a relic of St. Teresa inside. Will could tell that this cross was very special to the man who gave it to him. He could tell that it surely was a sacrifice to give up this cross. The man gave us the cross to help Michaela heal and survive her cancer.

Will brought the cross home and gave it to Michaela. She came to depend on this cross for every sadness, pain and worry that she had. She was 7-8 years old at the time the cross was given to her. Her cancer treatments ended when she was about 9 1/2. She learned to pray for herself and would sleep with her cross.

The cross has since made it's rounds. One day when Will was at work he started experiencing chest pains. A co-worker took him into the emergency room and he went through a battery of heart tests. The doctors decided to keep him in the hospital over night. Michaela didn't think twice to give her dad her cross. Will also slept with the cross. In the end his heart cathaterization showed an all clear. No heart problems.

The cross is now with Michaela's grandpa who battled cancer for a year. Two years after his diagnosis his cancer is in remission.

These kinds of stories are endless for people around the world! We are but one family who have been touched by this incredible Saint. If you don't know much about her learn about her. Her story is simple and powerful. She can be your friend too. You can google her name, look her up in a Catholic book store or talk to any Catholic priest or religious. They all know her. Don't delay...she can aid you in any way!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catholic.net - It's Only Dinner

Catholic.net - It's Only Dinner
Click onto the above link for an absolutely beautiful article about the power of simply eating dinner! Your meals will never be the same.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"An Angel is Kind of Like a Diamond"

Last week I was passing the nursing home where my grandmother lived and died. I was on my way home from picking Michaela up from golf practice. I had Daniel, age 3, along for the ride. As we passed by we pointed out to him that there was great grandma’s nursing home. He remembered visiting her just over a year ago and he immediately said, “let’s go in.” Michaela and I explained to him, grandma is no longer there, she died and went to sleep and will never wake up again and she is like an angel now.

I reminded Michaela that I told her the same thing when my mother passed away when she was five days away from turning three. As we talked I mentioned to Michaela that Daniel probably doesn’t really understand what we are telling him. But out of curiosity I asked Daniel, “do you know what an angel is?” His reply was, “an angel is kind of like a diamond.” I wasn’t sure I heard it right and I asked him, “what did you say?” he confirmed, “an angel is kind of like a diamond.”

This statement seemed to roll right off of Daniel’s tongue and I was surprised he would put the two together: angels and diamonds. We hadn’t recently talked about diamonds or angels and I wasn’t aware that he knew what a diamond was. This thought stayed with me the rest of the evening and I thought, wow, that was actually a pretty profound statement by my three year old. Two things crossed my mind about the comparison: angels are very valuable, and they always see God’s light which makes them bright. So I thought he was onto something.

Just two days before the little angel talk with Daniel I had a brief conversation with a friend at my “You Can Become a Saint” study group. We had just covered chapter five that night at our meeting. My friend told me she read ahead to chapter 6 in the book which was about angels. She loved the chapter. So after Daniel went to bed I got out my book and began reading chapter six.

I got three pages into the chapter when I read this: The angels were created with outstanding beauty. The mystic priest, Pere John Lamy, said of them: “The angels are a great deal better as a spectacle than the Blessed Virgin. With those fine sparkles which change perpetually on their white robes, they look like brilliant officers beside Her, who is so simple. ”

When I read this I was astonished at Daniel’s statement. I saw all the things about a diamond in this passage, especially these words: beauty, sparkles, white, brilliant. Daniel was right on.

My heart was so warm after reading the passage that with amazement I began wondering how did Daniel know to say what he said?

I will explore this question in a future post.

What do you think? Has your child ever astonished you in this way? If so please comment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Faith & Family Live! : Life Without Television

Faith & Family Live! : Life Without Television

The above link is a little story of another family who has turned off the TV. We turned ours off back in August. At the time it was off until football season began. Football season is now here and we have been watching football mostly on Saturdays. It's kind of a family tradition, the football viewing that is. Other than football, my older kids have done pretty good at adhering to the new TV free life. It's been good just like the article I have linked above. Hope you find some inspiration to do the same. Good Luck!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pictures of a Domestic Church

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I couldn't stop at just one picture of my three boys playing church. I've posted six to inaugurate my new ability to download pictures for this blog. Enjoy!!


Three year old Daniel is on the left. Cole, the priest, is 11. Alter boy Eric is 8.

Cole has wanted to be a priest since he was about 6 years old.
He was inspired to hold this mass, which is one of many he has held, because he had just completed his first week of serving as an alter boy at our Church.

A few years ago old neighbors of ours found out Cole liked playing church and so they gave us a beautiful child size mass kit with a book and vestments and all.

Daniel rang the bell for the consecration. Eric was very serious at his alter boy duties.

Our piano bench served as the alter. The window curtain behind the boys served as the tabernacle and crackers and bread were used for the hosts.

Their dad and I were the lay faithful that attended this fine service. This really was a domestic Church. What a joy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Faith & Family Live! : The Best Kept Secret of the Kitchen

Faith & Family Live! : The Best Kept Secret of the Kitchen

I learned a few years ago, through a study titled "Called and Gifted," by the Catherine of Siena Institute, that every person has at least one charism. It is our job to discern what charism God has given to us. I learned we may have one, or a few or many charisms. But to find your charism you must look at what you are drawn to and how others are drawn to you and practice that possible charism. Whatever comes naturally and draws others to Christ through you is likely your special charism. There are 24 charisms listed in the bible. Some of them are: administration, craftsmanship, Faith, healing, hospitality, pastoring, service and writing.

I had posed a question while I was taking this study as to whether mothering could be a charism. It is not one of those listed 24. The study taught that there are as many charisms as there are people. Further, when the question was posed to our Parish priest, he was confident that mothering was indeed a charism.

I am still discerning, and have been for quite some time, whether writing is one of my charisms as well. That is why I write this blog. It is my way of practicing a possible charism.

I came across the above article today about cooking in the kitchen being a charism and I wanted to share it with you. It seems that anything, such as the simple act of cooking for our family, can be a charism because it is a gift of Christ's love.

Click onto the orange Faith and Family link above for the great article that every parent should read. And for more information on finding your other charisms go to www.siena.org. Or write to The Catherine of Siena Institute Press, PO Box 26440, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80936.

Do you have a charism? If you know, please comment.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blaze a Trail

I was introduced to St. Josemaria Escriva's book "The Way, Furrow, the Forge" at a retreat I attended in August. The retreat was an introduction to the Opus Dei apostolate started by St. Josemaria Escriva and I attended the retreat because it was put together by the facilitator of the study I began called "You Can Become a Saint."

The book was available for purchase at the retreat but since I hadn't been to a retreat in over 18 years I didn't realized you could purchase books. I had not brought money so I had to wait to get my book. About three weeks ago I went over to my local Catholic book store, Gloria Deo, and ordered the book. I received the call over this past weekend that my book had arrived and I finally went and picked it up today. This book, I can already tell, was well worth the wait! And God's timing was perfect.

Just yesterday my good friend Lucy posted a facebook quote by Karl Rahner that said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” So I commented back, "What is a mystic?" I ran into Lucy today and she explained that a mystic is somebody who encounters God. It is all about love and loving others. So when I saw the following quote in the Editor's note at the beginning of my new book I knew the Holy Spirit was with us: "We are confident that this publication will be a practical and effective instrument in the hands of those who already have discovered, in each separate work (the three original titles), a help in their personal encounter with God."

The book is three of St. Josemaria's titles combined into one book. It is a classical book about fostering a personal encounter with God. The book is a set of 1,055 counsels which are each numbered. They are indexed by topic in the back of the book with every conceivable topic from abandonment to zeal.

I'm already thinking, what Christian wouldn't benefit from this book? I'm also thinking, the world will benefit from anybody who reads and puts into practice what is in this book. And Lucy, who posted the facebook quote and answered my question, also pointed out that having a personal encounter with God was the first thing that was impressed upon the world when Pope Benedict XVI was introduced as the new Pope after the death of Pope John Paul the Great.

St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975) is a modern day Saint who was canonized by Pope John Paul the Great on October 6, 2002. The main theme of the Opus Dei apostolate is holiness in everyday life through the sanctification of ordinary work.

Here is the very first counsel by St. Josemaria Escriva, "Don't let your life be sterile. Be useful. Blaze a trail. Shine forth with the light of your faith and of your love. With your apostolic life wipe out the slimy and filthy mark left by the impure sowers of hatred. And light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart."

This first counsel is so deep that I know along with Scripture the book will be a beautiful and practical help along my road to holiness. I recommend you check it out at your local bookstore too!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Passionate Perseverance: mary's book basket ~ "choosing to see" by mary bet...

Passionate Perseverance: mary's book basket ~ "choosing to see" by mary bet...: "'I’ve told my kids for years that God doesn’t make mistakes,” writes Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Grammy award winning recording artist Steven..."

Click onto Passionate Perseverence above for a touching story about the loss of the adopted child of Steven Curtiss Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. Be sure to click on the videos. You'll see an inverview on the first video and hear a great song on the second video.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Battle Techniques for War-weary Saints"

I’m giving you a powerful piece of inspiration from another unknown author that teaches practical and spiritual ways to battle the enemy of God. I found this piece in my late mothers things many years ago. Mom passed away in 1998. I think she may have attended some sort of conference or retreat where she received this incredible outline packed full of Scripture and great wisdom on the spiritual battle we all face. Because my mother lived her life 100% Catholic I am 100% confident and can tell that this is from a Catholic source. But even if you are not Catholic you can apply all that you read because it is all based on Scripture! Take it in and know that you will succeed in the dreams and miracles God has planned for you.

“Battle Techniques For War-weary Saints”

A battle is:
*Any opposition, pain or difficulty that you encounter while attempting to obey instruction from God or complete His dreams in your life, or to receive a desired miracle he has planned.
*Any pain produced during your efforts to satisfy God’s expectations of you.
*Simply meeting opposition on the road to a miracle.

The nature of your enemy:
Satan despises God. And he hates anything that receives God’s affection. He is quite aware of God’s unusual care and protection of us and reacts with unbridled resentment. (Job 1:10)

He is deceptive, cunning, manipulating, and the father of all lies. He opposes you because you are a potential source of pleasure to God. (Rev. 4:11) His real enemy is God, but because he is powerless against God, he attacks that which is closest to the heart of God--you and me.

His main purpose of warfare is to pain God’s heart--insult Him, to frustrate His purposes in your life. He wants you to grieve God’s heart by doubting His integrity. (Numbers 23:19)

Satan’s favorite weapons:
*Delays, a delay can weaken your desire to keep reaching (Dan 10:2-14)
*Deceit
*Distractions, a broken focus is the goal of all his attacks. (Prov 4:27)
*Disappointment, with yourself and others. When discouraged, seek sources of encouragement through reading or praying or with a spiritual director.

Predicting your seasons of attack:
*When you become physically exhausted.
*When you face major changes in your life.
*Birth of a child destined to become a spiritual leader.
*When a specific miracle has just left God’s hand toward you.
*When you make an effort to launch a new ministry for God.
(The intensity of the warfare usually indicates the degree of potential that a project possesses.)
*When you are next in line for a promotion from God. (Joseph)

Your most effective weapons: (2 Cor 10:4)
*You must know and speak the word of God.
*Your conversations should reflect the mentality of a conqueror. (Prov 18:21)
*Take your authority over Satan in the name of Jesus (Prov 18:10, Phil 2:9-10)
*Spiritually clothe yourself in spiritual armor in prayer. (Eph 6:13)
*Respect the power of prayer and fasting. (Jos 5:16, Isa 58:6)
*Pursue and extract the wisdom of God from the spiritual mentors He places in your life. (Prov 1:5)
*Holy Mass *Confession *Stations of the Cross *Chaplet of Divine Mercy *Mary intercession, the Rosary and Memorare

Four forces that shorten your season of struggles:
*Your speaking, Faith is explosive. It builds you up in the spirit. (Prov 18:21)
*Your singing creates a climate Satan cannot tolerate. (1 Sam 16:23)
*Your sharing in prayer and agreement with others (Mt 18:18-19)
*Your seed-sowing creates a partnership with God that involves Him in your adversity. (Mal 3:10-11) Praise

Your battle is always for a reason.
Your battle is always for a season.


Principles and techniques to remember:
*You will never outgrow warfare; you simply must learn to fight. (Eph 6:12)
*God’s purpose in your crisis is not your survival but your education. (Dt 8:1-2)
*Nothing is ever as bad as it first appears. (Ps 138:7-8)
*Failure is not an event but an opinion. (Lk 23-35)
*Failure cannot happen in your life without your permission (Josh 24:15)
*All great men of God attract Satanic attention. (Job 1:9-12)
*All men fall, great men get back up. (Ps. 37:23,24)
*Satan always attacks what he fears the most. (Mt 2:3)
*Struggle is the proof you have not yet been conquered. (2 Cor 4:8-9)
*Warfare always surrounds the birth of a miracle. (Mt. 2:13)
*Crisis always occurs at the curve of change. (Gen 13:1, 6-7)
*Stop looking at what you see and start looking at what you can have. (Numbers 14:8)
*No one has ever been a looser longer than Satan. (Rev. 12:9)
*Never speak words that make Satan think he’s winning. (Dan 3:17)
*Those unwilling to loose rarely do. (Ps: 55-22)
Accurately assess your struggle. Name your real enemy for who he is.
Make a quality decision to go on with God.


And I say persevere!