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Showing posts with the label Autumn

Things That Make Me Happy

God was lavish with me on Sunday, drawing me close to him through church, music, family, community, and nature. Why would I sabotage his invitation to intimacy, his consolation? I must continue to pray and discern how to help others who suffer, certainly, but the panicky guilt I suddenly felt constricting my heart was a dirty trick. The movement I had noticed all day was joyful consolation; only an enemy would be interested in sucking the gratitude out of me. Once I got that straight, I decided to accept God's gift, gratefully, and to store up the peace for more difficult times that might lie ahead.

Brimming with joy, then, I made this little list of 5 things that make me happy. Maybe they will make you happy too, or remind you of other happy things you've been meaning to thank God for. And now, Things That Make Me Happy:

Find out at Praying with Grace!

Hey. Slow the heck down.

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Don't you just love a season with an unnecessary letter? A misspelled Autum looks so weird, while Autumn embraces its gratuitous silent letter and invites us to linger on that final mmmmnnn sound.

I am excited about autumnnn.

Strangely, autumn is the time for school to start and family calendars to EXPLODE. Sometimes I want to hire an event planner just to help us get through a week of school, work, sports, music, theater and church activities. This autumn is no different than any in that regard; we really do have an abundance of scheduled opportunities. Nonetheless, I plan to slow down.

Read on at Praying with Grace!

Near the World Trade Center: Contemplating an Open Heart

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I had not been to the World Trade Center site in about five years, hadn't taken that big escalator up to ground level, hadn't seen World Trade One or Four or seen the memorial site. 
My friend M. and I on Saturday took the PATH train to the World Trade Center. Our final destination was about a fifteen-minute walk away and this was the quickest way there from New Jersey. 
During this journey, my heart was full, remembering: how I used to take the double stroller here with our two boys to visit my husband at work up on the 68th floor of Tower One and to have lunch at the Stage Door Deli, how one sunny fall day we lost friends who risked their lives in the buildings so that others could escape, how my husband managed to survive even though he waited and made sure everyone on his floor was accounted for before he headed down the stairwell. 
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We Stop Beneath the Buckeye Tree

The seed pod dropped on the sidewalk and split.
I see the ruddy shine through a slit
in the spiked orb and wonder at its depth
of color, the certain slant of light spent
on its creation and its becoming. I hold the sharp husk gingerly between
my fingers and thumb and wonder at the satisfaction
in prying apart the halves, the silken rip at the pith.  Notions
of Autumn’s approach, the colored leaves, the drying bits
of grass and flower are upon me.  The death and dormancy that fit beneath the harvest ground conceal a greater thing:
Latent energy bursting into fullness, our God blossoming
into the son of man ripening into the fullness of his mystery.
I am tempted to hold fast the shells and face
the blank wall, keep myself hidden within the pointed case and find my way to fullness turned inward.  Yet I strain
against the covering, press into the exterior a plain
and arching back.  I drop against the ground and split
to see a shining depth of light in which
death and birth work together. Falling away from se…

one small thing for God...

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On Saturday evening, before Mass, I went to confession, after a rather long gap of 2 months After the Priest absolved me, for my penance (in addition to praying the Pater Noster before the Blessed Sacrament) he asked me to do one small thing as well as I could this week for God. I came away feeling this was an easy penance! But on reflection I realised that this is something I should do every day, and don’t. More often, I do things in a hurried, slapdash and unrecollected way, often without considering God at all.
Immediately, my thoughts turned to the Little Flower, whose hidden life was made up of an accumulation of small things. She had neither need or opportunity to do great things, but she had plenty of opportunity to do “small things with great love”. St. Therese wrote:
To strew flowers is the only means of proving my love, and these flowers will be each word and look, each little daily sacrifice.Whether working in the laundry or at prayer, Therese offered everything, as well as …

The blessings of a broken toe!

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Sorry to have been so quiet, but I'm not long back from holiday in Berlin. And then I went to the loo in the night on Sunday and broke my toe! There is a cabinet in our bathroom which we brought over from Mum's, and it's in the way between the loo and the door. Not ideal, but it's the first time I've gone to the loo without putting a light on! Smack, I kicked it with some force. The pain didn't hit me immediately ~ I didn't even yell, so I just got back into bed, but then it really started to hurt, so I rubbed it, like you do, and the pain was unbearable, and I had this huge wave of nausea. So I turned on the light and had a look to see my toe (the one next to my little toe) was sticking out sideways...so I put it back straight, and heard a horrible click and felt it crunch. That was it then...I hopped back to the loo to be sick, groaning loud enough to wake my husband up who came running in to see what on earth was the matter. It took me a while…

Fulfilment & Sacrifice...

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These two things have been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I’d thrash them out here. I looked up the words in the dictionary and have plumped for these two definitions:
Fulfilment: a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires Sacrifice: To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value. If I think of our modern, everyday society, everything seems to be geared to the former, rather than the latter. Self-fulfilment is big business, and we are encouraged from very early on to strive to achieve our desires and ambitions, to be successful. When the word sacrifice is used in this context, it can be negative. How many times do we read of people sacrificing family time in order to pursue a successful career...

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Tempered by the Fruit of the Spirit...

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I've had quite a lesson this weekend. Yesterday I was very tired after cleaning Mum's old flat, and consequently feeling rather grumpy (tiredness and grumpiness often go hand-in-hand with me!) As a result, when I went to see Mum in the afternoon, I found myself being rather short with her on occasion, not realising this until my daughter (God bless her!) pulled me up about it afterwards by saying "I thought you were a bit bossy with Grandma today". As soon as she said it, I looked back and realised that all my responses had been wrong... 

It made me realise that it doesn't matter how I'm feeling, whether grumpy, tired, out-of-sorts, the important thing is how I treat other people. With a little effort and a lot of the Holy Spirit, I could have been more pleasant, patient, forgiving, accomodating, compassionate and understanding. If I look at the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance I…

"Ecce...Fiat...Magnificat!"

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The last few days have not been good ~ not because of anything that's happened, but because of my attitude. I allowed myself to sink into a whinging, self-pitying sorry-for-myself mood ~ just be glad I haven't blogged it!

The crux of the matter though, to be brief, is my unwillingness to take up the task God has set before me, and ended up in the "I Wish" zone ~ I Wish I didn't have to do this/that, I Wish things were different, I Wish I didn't have all htis work to do etc. etc. The I Wish zone isn't a pleasant or a godly place to live! What's turned things around for me is pondering on Mary, encouraged by a book I am reading which looks at three statements she makes in the Gospel..."Here I am...Yes!...Magnificat!" These three words sum up most of Mary's words in the Gospel, but encapsulated in them is the blueprint I as a Christian need to follow.

Ecce...
When Mary receives the news that she is to become the Mother of God, her f…

The God in my Coffee

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I had one of those lovely moments of insight and grace yesterday afternoon, which was sorely needed after the second night's disturbed sleep in a row I have been waking up feeling horribly anxious and panicky over Mum moving, and feeling I can't cope, and we haven't got enough time to get things ready! I never feel like this in the day and can always successfully deal with any anxiety very quickly! But at 3.30 in the morning, it is an entirely different experience. I feel overwhelmed, and scared and very anxious. I know all the techniques, and what works for me, but it doesn't seem to work in the middle of the night! I pray, I hand it over to God, I invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into the situation, but my mind keeps returning to whatever is bothering me. I know what the Psalmist meant when he wrote of "the terrors of the night"! In the end, all that really seems to help is to get up, make a cup of tea, sit in the garden (yes, in the we…

life and losses

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I am waxing a little philosophical today…

I have had cause to think about this recently as a result of my (counselling) work, and working at a deep level with a client who was grappling with the whole issue of life and losses. I’m not talking about loss through bereavement here, but the necessary losses which form part of our every day life. But the process of bereavement and other types of loss is often very similar…

Loss is really change and vice versa, is it not? Whether we move on from a job, move house, leave school or college, life brings changes. It is unavoidable, no matter how we use our energies to try to keep the status quo. God, although unchanging, is the God of changes, and all creation including our *self* is never static, but constantly evolving. This happens on a physical level…I will not be exactly the same person by the time I have finished this post as I was when I started it. Cells will have died, reproduced, divided, skin will have been shed, and my heart will b…

Life on the Home Front: a plug!

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If you have time, please pop on over to my kitchen, on my Life on the Home Front blog :)

I haven't had much time to update it lately, and my readership has gone down, but today I posted some tempting pictures of Cakes and Tea which I'd love to share with you. I also have a series of posts on Proverbs 31 and Saint Zita. I shall attempt to blog there more regularly from now on...

Here's a sneak preview to entice you...

Tout pour Jésus

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There are days, like this Sunday, when caring for my Mum feels utterly overwhelming. While she is becoming more independent at home, there are still things she can't do for herself, like hanging the washing out, shopping, cleaning or going out. On Sunday I did all of these, and took her out for a coffee in a wheelchair. Not easy, as I am quite weak, physically, and she's very overweight!

It all feels too much sometimes, and I struggle with personal tasks such as emptying the commode. Such things never used to bother me, and I was a geriatric nurse for years and coped with all kinds of bodily fluids! But the last few years I have become incredibly squeamish and have no tolerance for bad smells at all, not even BO! But in the midst of all this doing today, I remembered a passage from my favourite book The Nun's Story, and having just read it this last week, it was fresh in my mind...

All for Jesus, Sister William had said in the ward pulling on the rubber gloves. Say it, my d…

A cry for life...

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Listening to the radio this lunchtime, I heard a woman on a discussion show describe how she aborted her 3rd child, the fruit of a stable relationship, because the family income was just a little too much to qualify for Child Benefit. She talked about the "wonderful counsellors" at the abortion agency who helped her come to this decision, and their "care and support".

For the sake of a few pounds a week, a human life was torn from what should be the safest place in the world, his/her Mother's womb.

When my children were small, we were living on an extremely low wage and had no luxuries. There were times when we had to rely on the generosity of others, and help from the state. And yet our girls were richly blessed with love, joy and laughter, and have grown to be lovely young women with children of their own.

I feel such pity and sorrow for this Mother, who has been led to believe that we can put a price on a human life. May God have mercy on her, and may we al…

Our Wonderful Holy Father!

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I found these beautiful, relaxed pictures of our dear Pope Benedict at his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, and just wanted to share them with you...




We love you, dear Papa!

"...the Valley of Achor for a door of hope."

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I have been reading through Hosea every night this week, one of my most beloved of OT books, and was struck by these verses:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortingly unto her.
And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. [Hosea 2:14-15]
Achor means trouble, or suffering. It is the place where, in the book of Joshua, Achan and his sons and daughters were stoned to death by the Israelites because of Achan's greed. [Joshua 7] And although Hosea's use of the Valley of Achor as a metaphor is in direct reference to this incidence, as his unfaithful wife Gomer would have warranted stoning according to OT Law, it is also a useful description for those times we find ourselves in the wilderness, when times are troubled, or when we are suffering in one way or another.

When life brings you nettles

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Imagine someone bought you a bunch of flowers, nicely wrapped in pretty paper with a big bow, and when you unwrapped them, you found a bunch of nettles and stung your fingers... :( You wouldn't be very happy, would you?

In many ways, this last week has been the equivalent of receiving a bunch of nettles as a gift. It's been fraught and tiring and full of *worry-potential*, trying to juggle work, family, grandchildren, my Mum who is in hospital and is likely to be in some kind of rehabilitation for weeks to come until she's mobile again. Plus, on top of all this, trying to keep a home, eat well, do the shopping and just generally remember a hundred and one things at any one time. Nettles...

But, I learned a great lesson about nettles this week, after my eldest Grandson and I had a "discover and learn" day on Saturday. We harvested a good crop of nettles from behind the house, and turned them from nasty and stingy to really rather lovely! We made nettle soup which…

Confession

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Recent events in my life have highlighted areas of sin, and the need to go to confession on a regular basis. I know we are only required to go to confession once a year, but if I followed that, I would spend 11 months of the year crawling on my knees weighed down by a burden of sin! I often feel I am the only one who regularly goes to confession during the Saturday slot at my parish...no one seems to go in before or after me, even though I try hard not to notice. I must look like the most sinful person in the Parish!

I have always tried to make a regular communion, once a month, more often if necessary, for the good of my soul. Whilst we don't need to confess venial sin, it is ultimately worth doing so for the grace of the Sacrament, and the conferring of God's forgiveness, love and strength. Going to confession is like stepping in a power shower after a hot and dusty day. One feels clean and fesh afterwards, and resolved to make amends and turn back to God.

I took this photo…

Humble Obedience

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Her master, seeing his goods multiply, as it were, in her hands, gave her [St. Zita] ample leave to bestow liberal alms on the poor, which she made use of with discretion, but was scrupulous to do nothing without his express authority.
From: St. Zita “Without his express authority”. Saint Zita was always careful to respect and obey the authority of her master. Wise words for all of us, not least in respect to the authority of our Mother the Church. As Catholics, we are called to obey the Church. There are many who would disagree with that statement, and espouse the right of the faithful to question and sometimes even disobey. The trouble is, when we do that, we are no longer the faithful.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with questioning, especially when we come across something we don’t understand; there is nothing wrong with wanting to know the whys, hows and wherefores of our faith, but questioning needs to be done with a supple and compliant spirit, and with …

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places...

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Yesterday, after coming back from the hospital at tea-time, picking Mum's elderly cat up on the way, I had chance to finally sit and think about what had happened and its implications, but by this time tiredness had brought with it a sense of peace. I thought of the verse in Psalm 15(16) v 6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage. How difficult it is at times like this to acknowledge that God has drawn my boundary lines in "pleasant places"!! But He sees this situation from above, on the beautiful side of the tapestry so to speak, whereas I see only the messy knotted threads underneath. I'm not saying that this is a pleasant place for my Mum, but it has to be God's will for me, and God's will is for His glory and my good. I have written this verse on my heart, as I have also Deuteronomy 33:12 which I blogged about last time.


Once again, a picture speaks to my heart. The above is a scene of beauty, and yet the sky i…