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.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Would Mother Teresa Want Me to Do?

She would want me to smile at the only black boy on the street.
She would want me to see the blessing in the boy whose mother gave life to him when she was only 15.
She would want me to have patience for the boy who knocks on the door 3-4 times a day, for his mother works a night job and is home sleeping.
She would want me to be welcoming when I see he is alone and lonely.
She would want me to teach the boy to talk in a quieter voice by reminding him as many times as necessary.
She would want me to encourage the boy with a kind voice and words.
She would want me to talk to the boy and learn what’s on his mind.
She would want me to empathize with the boy whose biological dad is not around.
She would want me to have mercy on his mother who is still so young.
She would want me to befriend his mother and give her a helping hand.
She would want me to admire his mother for giving him a little job at the nursing home she works in and exposing him to the elderly.
She would want me to be happy that his mother found him a safe neighborhood to live in and a man for him to call dad.
She would want me to say kind words to him as he perseveres in trying to play with the other kids on the block.
She would want me to realize he has so much to give and to teach me if I would only take the time with him.
She would not want me to worry so much about this precious child of God.
She would want me and my children to understand and love and learn from this bright child.
She would ask me to set limits with this child when necessary.
She would want me to treat him as I want to be treated by God when I return to him and knock on his door.
She would want me to see Jesus in him and be Jesus for him.
She would remind me, his mother chose life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

She Conquered Her Pain

My 15 year old daughter, Michaela, attended camp CoHoLo (Courage, Hope, Love) last week. Camp CoHoLo provides a camp experience for children who have had or have cancer. There are two sessions divided by age. Michaela attended the second session along with about 80 other kids which ran from Wednesday through Sunday.

When Michaela got home she had a great time telling me all about camp. Her experience included sharing a cabin with 6 other girls and 2 camp counselors. They did obstacle courses, archery, laser gun games, crafts, rode down water slides, went into town to swim at the swimming pool, had a dance, had a kickball tournament, enjoyed campfires each evening and much more.

She went on and on telling me how much fun she had and all the funny things that happened. She also had a couple stories that required her to tell me about her own courage, hope and love.

One of those stories was about how she had been doing an activity that caused her to turn her foot and pull a muscle. The pain gradually became excruciating. But Michaela decided she was not going to let the pain interrupt her fun. The incident occurred just before the campers were planning to go swimming at the pool that was in town and she chose not to report it to her counselors. Instead, Michaela said she began to pray.

I asked her why she didn’t say anything to someone about it and she said, “I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.” She said she just kept walking on her foot during the outing to the pool even though it was extremely painful. And through it all she prayed.

She said when she laid in bed that night she prayed and prayed to God to heal her pain. In the morning the pain remained. But as the day went on it got better until it finally subsided.

All I can say now is that I thank God, again, for healing my child. And I thank God that Michaela goes to him for her needs. What more could a parent ask for?

Please share if you have a story of your own child’s faith in God by adding a comment here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank You For Coming to this Blog

Please review all the July blog posts and let me know what you like by commenting. Also, please become a fan and click on the right of this blog and become a follower. It will surely motivate me to continue on writing about things I love in order to bring Christ's Joy to others and to honor the unborn. Let's leap for joy just as John the Baptist did in his mother's womb at the presence of Jesus in Mary's womb!!! And together, lets spread the joy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Exercise Saviors

I had gone years without regularly exercising. I depended solely on chasing toddlers and house cleaning to stay in shape. Nursing babies was also very effective for me in staying fit and trim until…I turned 40. After age 40 I started gaining weight and realized that I would need to try much harder to keep those unwanted pounds off. My problem was that I had not been motivated to do so until my exercise saviors came to the rescue.

My exercise saviors came in the form of 4 aunts, 6 cousins and my sister! I had just turned 41 when they began planning the semi-annual “Vering Girls Weekend” to be held in May of 2010. Due to family circumstances I had never attended this wonderful get together with my extended family in the past but I just could not pass up the chance to go this year.

One of my big motivations to attend was the exercise contest that the Vering Girls established to get us all in shape before seeing each other and hanging out by the pool. Two of my cousins were appointed to be the commissioners of the contest. They disseminated a set of rules and kept the ladies motivated throughout the duration of the contest. Each person that chose to participate in the contest submitted $20.00 which would be used to award cash prizes at the end of the contest during the Vering Girls Weekend. There would be a first and second place prize awarded along with a consolation prize for coming in last place.

This is how the contest worked: We had eleven participants, so each week for 11 weeks leading up to our girl’s weekend, every participant would be eligible to earn one point for each day they exercised 30 minutes, for a maximum of 5 points per week. Bonus points could be earned for the super challenge which was to be determined by a different participant each week. For example, my cousin Becky was responsible to come up with the first week’s super challenge. She chose to challenge everybody to drink half of their body weight in ounces of water each day for five days. Five more points could be earned that week for succeeding in the super challenge. We used the honor system to submit our individual totals to Commissioner Heidi at the end of each week.

If any dispute came up one of the commissioners would determine the final outcome. It became a hoot to see the e-mails go back and forth amongst the participants. One controversial super challenge was to eat 5 fruits and vegetables each day. Aunt Karen e-mailed her daughter, my cousin Karey, and admitted to eating french fries as a vegetable. Karey wouldn’t stand for that. The e-mails started flying back and forth with this admission by Karen. Commissioner Heidi made the final determination that french fries did not count as a real vegetable.

In the end Aunt Karen, host of the Vering Girls Weekend, won the first place cash prize and Cousin Karey and I tied for second. I admire Karey for her determination because she was about six months pregnant with her third child and most weeks I managed to exercise 5 times for 30 minutes and got most of my points for the super challenges. If I were pregnant I don't think I would have even attempted the contest.

The contest got me to start regularly exercising and I am so thankful to my exercise saviors for motivating me to get started!!! My favorite workout now is walking on my treadmill as fast as I can while praying my rosary.

What motivates you to exercise? Please share by commenting! It may help another person get going again!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Destination

Our family finally took a "real" vacation this summer from Lincoln, NE to Milwaukee, WI. We travelled all day to reach our destination then we spent the next three days with my sister and her family. We picnicked on Lake Michigan, spent an afternoon at the beach, rode roller coasters at Six Flags near Chicago and attended a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. We then spent another full day driving home.

Will and I had never been willing to travel that distance because of the age and temperaments of our children. We felt we were finally in the position to handle it with our youngest child almost ready to turn three. With the help of a GPS to guide the way and with ipods, books, ad libs, munchies and a portable dvd player on hand our trip went fairly smoothly. We had a great time. We now know we can do it!!

Now that's the "family vacation". I have often dreamed of taking an "exotic vacation" where we fly away to a cozy resort right off the ocean or next to a mountainside. We would eat at quaint and fancy restaurants, stroll around shops, lay out by a beach or climb a beautiful mountain and sip wine. We would take in some entertainment, go on an excursion or two and come and go as we please. You know what I mean?

With 4 children at home and finances tight, the "exotic vacation" is truly a dream. There was a time too when the "family vacation" was just a dream. One day when my youngest child was about 9 months old I was wishing to go on vacation but was unable to. After feeling sorry for myself for a while my dream for the perfect vacation finally came to an end when I started interacting with my baby. As I was enjoying him the following poem popped into my mind. I hope you enjoy it.

My Destination

When I look at your toes
I need nowhere else to go
I kiss them and count them
and sing a song about them

I have arrived

As I watch you crawl across the floor
there isn’t anything else in life I want more
I see you discover
Everything is new - I relish in you

I have arrived

Then you turn to me - you need to see
I am watching you - I stay by you
and you look and smile
and I melt for a while

I have arrived

Whenever you sleep
especially in my arms
time stands still- Oh….I wish it could
I never understood
but now I do

I have arrived

You squeal with delight
I don’t need to take flight
You are my destination
my ocean, my mountain
my sun and my moon
That’s how God created you

Monday, July 19, 2010

I've Decided I'll Bloom Where I'm Planted

The lure of a $6,500.00 tax credit along with the encouragement of relatives nearly caused my family and I to move away from our beloved home, neighborhood and community. My husband and I searched last November, December and January and found a much larger home in a great area of town for which we decided to buy.

The large home appealed to us since our current 1100 square foot home is small for our family of six. That did not deter our 7 year old son to declare to us that, “this house is like a mansion to me,” in trying to convince us he did not want to move! He has friends in the neighborhood and he can walk to school.

Tears flowed from our 15 year daughter’s eyes at the thought of leaving behind the choke cherry tree we had planted eleven years ago in our backyard in memory of her grandmother. Grandma, who is my mother, was buried in the Cemetary which is located just behind the fence of our back yard. How could I leave her?

My husband and I thought about the children’s concerns and decided we were choosing where we will live long term while the children will grow up and move away regardless. So on with the moving plans we went.

We decided to sell our house on our own. We would have some help from the sellers of the house we were going to buy because they were both real-estate agents. They came through our house and felt we could get it sold within two months so they took their house off the market to give us that amount of time to sell our home. This was very appealing to us and drove us to move forward in selling our home to buy theirs.

We went so far as putting together a for sale sign for the front of our house. We posted our home on the internet and were just about to run an open house ad in the newspaper when I decided to stop the whole process cold turkey.

I just could not bring myself to put that for sale sign in our yard. I had to convince my husband why I had a change of heart and these are the reasons why:

First, our church and school are 5 blocks away from our current home. We dearly love our Parish and the many wonderful people. The church has a 24 hour adoration program where somebody is always at church praying. I have my own regular hour each week. I just could not move far away from my dear church.

The school is fabulous. One bright young alumni of the school had received the Presidential Scholar award in 2009. My own 10 year old son enjoys being in a reading classics group called “Page One”. The academics of the school and it’s extended programs are superb. I didn’t want to take my well adjusted children out of this wonderful school.

Next, the neighborhood and community are great. We live right around the corner from a popular street with tons of kids. My close neighbor had recently counted how many children presided on the 5 block stretch of avenue where we live and she came up with 59. I didn't know where else in town there would be that many children living so close and with such great access to a pool, park, tennis complex and trails that are provided by our nearest park. I realized I would be leaving that all behind.

The Neighborhood Association is one of the strongest in Lincoln and continues to make the community clean, safe and friendly through it’s dedicated board and many projects which keep this area a great place to live. Why would I want to leave that umbrella of support?

I must admit that an important factor in my decision was that I couldn’t stomach the higher monthly mortgage payments that would have come with the purchase of a much larger home. We qualified for financing but it really was not a logical decision in my mind. The price wasn’t worth what our family would be giving up.

Lastly and possibly the most interesting is that I am attached to the cemetary behind my house just like my 15 year old daughter is. I know many great souls who have been laid to rest back there.

Jennifer Finder, a young mother who succombed to breast cancer, is buried directly behind my house. Her story made news because she first battled her cancer while she was pregnant. She has touched many lives through her fight to save the life of herself and her child. Her son survived.

Madonna Addison, my daughters first grade teacher, is now buried back there. She battled cancer along with my daughter during the time that she was in her class. She will always have a special place in our hearts.

Nathan Raun, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 13 is back there. He still touches lives. New York Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain played youth baseball with him and continues wearing a version of Nates number 8. Joba’s is now 62. You’ll hear New York Yankee announcers talk about Nathan’s impact on Joba’s life often during games.

The list could go on and on about the cemetary. It is truly a treasure right in our midst. I feel privileged to live by it. It always helps me remember how I should live my life! Why would I give that up? A bonus to the cemetary is that walking or running twice through the streets on the inside edge of it is one mile.

I’ve decided I’ll just add on to my house and make it bigger someday and bloom where I‘m planted.

What do love about the neighborhood you live in?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emily the Rose

My only daughter’s name is Michaela and she is a two time cancer survivor!! Because of her I have learned how to pray from the bottom of my heart and for that I am eternally grateful. This story is about a time when I specially asked for intercessory prayers from a very wonderful Saint.

Michaela was first diagnosed at the age of four with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She completed her chemotherapy and had been off treatments for one year when we learned of her relapse at the age of seven. I had prayed all along for her but it wasn’t until the years of her second diagnosis that I turned heavily to one particular Saint for intercessory prayer. During her second diagnosis it really hit me that we were facing a true life threatening illness. Right after Michaela’s first diagnosis the Doctor told us 85-90% of children are cured of this kind of illness and Michaela had every odd on her side. But when she relapsed her odds plummeted to 45-50%.

I don’t know why I waited so long but it wasn’t until Michaela was nine and still receiving chemo treatments that I finally decided to pray a Saint Teresa of Lisieux novena for her. I was searching for two things when I prayed this novena and they were number one, a complete cure for Michaela, and number two, for a deeper more spiritual purpose in my life. Besides Michaela’s cure I wanted to know concretely what God wanted me to do for him.

I faithfully prayed this novena for nine days in a row. Before beginning the
novena, I had learned that I should expect a shower of roses from St. Teresa after completion of the nine day series of prayers. After I began I started to understand through the prayers I was saying that St. Teresa had a mission in life and I was taking part in her mission and that was to spread the gospel of Jesus to the world. I didn’t know what form it would take but I eventually learned God would provide the path.

Nine days passed and I was done saying the novena prayers. I started to think about the shower of roses that I would receive from St. Teresa. The roses never came as real flowers. I didn’t notice their true appearance until after the fact. Had I not been journaling every evening to God I may have never understood my shower of roses. But because I was having an intimate relationship with Our Lord and writing love letters to him He sent me roses. Saint Teresa facilitated the delivery of those roses!

I received my shower of roses for my second prayer intention first. Like I said before, my intention was for God to show me what he wanted me to do for him. He did indeed have a project for me to complete for him. I figured out my project after I came across a book on a bookshelf. I had originally been looking for a bible index book when I came across a prayer book that had once been owned by my deceased mother. I happened to pull the book out of the shelf and took a closer look at it because I had never read through it before. All I knew about it was that my mother once owned it. As I was thumbing through the book I noticed that it was filled with painted pictures of roses, bible passages and a rose prayer. It occurred to me that this possibly was my shower of roses but I wasn’t sure and I didn’t know yet how it was an answer to my prayers. So I put the book in a special place so that I could contemplate it later that evening.

The book appeared on a Saturday afternoon, the day after the completion of the novena. By early evening of the same day, Michaela had invited a friend over to play. The friend was my neighbor’s granddaughter, Emily. Though it was a very gray rainy day the girls began asking me if they could go outside. Specifically, they wanted to go out in the backyard and jump over the fence to roam around the cemetery that is behind our backyard. I repeatedly told them no but they insisted. The insistence came more from Emily than Michaela. I was exasperated with their constant begging. So I asked Emily what her middle name was. I wanted to firmly use it with her first name to scold her and make her understand that I was serious in my objection that she and Michaela go out in the rain. Her answer to my question was, “Rose.” So I said “Emily Rose, you may NOT go outside!!” That was it. End of debate. They were not going outside.

Later that night when I sat down to journal God, I began my letter, Dear God, Thank you for my day and I love you, this is what happened today…… and I told him about my day. By the end of my letter to him I realized that I had indeed received my shower of roses. I had been contemplating doing a memory book about my mom’s life, and I realized that my shower of roses came in the form of a book full of roses that was once owned by her. This was the concrete sign that God was telling me I should do a book. The memory book had the mission to touch the lives of my mother’s dear friends and family, and she and her spirit could live on in all their hearts in a Godly way. I wrote the book by asking everybody I could who knew her if they would write their best memories and stories about her. I received a great response in the form of letters. I learned that my mother strived to live her life the way God wanted her too and she was really a great example for me. I also learned something I never knew about her until writing the book- she also had a devotion to St. Teresa. She had prayed the novena before and had also been showered with roses. The project took me two years to complete, but I did it and printed 30 of the books and gave them out to all her closest friends and relatives.

My love letter to God also made me realize that Emily Rose was the answer to my first intention. I had asked for a complete cure for Michaela. It hit me that God had sent me a friend of Michaela‘s, a child, with the middle name Rose to give me the message that Michaela, a child, would be ok. I had to learn Emily’s middle name in dramatic fashion to understand this. I also discovered that God has an amazing sense of humor. While writing the a-ha moment to God I laughed and wept at the same time. I also felt my mom’s presence. She used to work with Emily’s grandmother, and I could just imagine her giving St. Teresa the idea to send Emily over for me to scold her with her middle name. I bet they were up in heaven having the greatest chuckle that I played right into their plan. There’s no doubt in my mind that Emily was my rose for Michaela! Michaela is now a healthy 15-year-old girl.

Since my encounter with St. Teresa, my family routinely prays a short St. Teresa novena prayer every evening as part of our regular bedtime prayers. In the middle of the prayer we say our intentions and ask for St. Teresa’s intercessory prayers for our family. She is a most powerful Saint, and I believe she and God are in heaven conspiring for great things to happen here on earth and I believe my mother is there too. I am so happy that along with St. Teresa and my mom I’m part of God’s divine plan. It makes me feel special and loved.

Do you have a St. Teresa of Lisieux or Saint story to share?