the gift of tears

TearsI am regularly experiencing a new thing for me: tears! Lots of tears.

A couple weeks ago I reached out to my friend Angela via text. In that conversation, I mentioned that I find myself crying lots but that I’m not sad. She texted back admonishing me not to forget the “gift of tears.” I’d never heard of the gift of tears and the quotation marks in her text told me it was a thing, so I looked it up. 

This article said the gift of tears is a "phenomenon mentioned in spiritual writers since very early in the Church, and it refers to an intense personal experience of God that overflows in abundant tears. It is the overflow of a spiritual experience in an emotional/physiological expression that creates deep comfort in one’s soul, and deep encouragement for the person who receives the gift, . . .”

Lo, and behold, I think Our Lord has given me the gift of tears, at least for a season. It’s difficult to describe, but the tears seem purifying, a lot like prayer. They come unbidden and seem to be an expression of one of two things: deep gratitude that I haven’t the words to express or intercessory prayer where I have little knowledge of the facts, but sorrow over the need.

CemeteryIt’s not easy to describe, but I want to give it a try. One of my “happy places” is a large cemetery. I go there often to walk and pray. Here, the tears sometimes flow, feeling like intercessory prayers. Often tombstones deliver sorrow to my senses and I experience significant awareness of the pain in our world, that person’s pain, their family’s pain. I offer up my tears and the tears and pain that that tombstone represents up for those people and their descendants.

Recently, I stumbled across a couple who, decades ago, lost four children under 10 years old. Two of those deaths were in the same year. The crushing grief! It is almost too great to think about. But it can illustrate how I think God may be using the “gift of tears” as a form of intercessory prayer.

Did these parents’ grief send them to God or did they grow bitter? Did they raise their other children in gentleness and grace or harshness and severity that sprung out of crushing grief? Did the other children grow despondent? Did they carry dysfunctional grief into their adulthood, damaging their children, who in turn damaged their children, and on and on and on. Each tombstone represents people with eternal souls, not just the soul named on the tombstone, but the souls deeply impacted by him or her, too. God is all powerful and outside of time. How does God use my prayerful tears? I have absolutely no idea, but I know He is not bound by time and He is full of mercy. My cemetery prayers rise to Him and are not “too late” to make a difference. Many tombstones belong to souls in purgatory and I present those souls to Him through, what I have recently come to think of as, intercessory tears.

Debs confirmation dayRegarding how the “gift of tears” are expressions of gratitude, I will use my daughter, Deborah, to illustrate. For years, I wondered why on earth God would allow what He allowed in Deborah’s life. I assumed I would never have any clarity this side of heaven.

Deborah’s life was marked by nearly every sin imaginable. That she is alive, is probably a miracle in itself. Recently a photograph of Deborah brought on tears of gratitude that words couldn’t express. The picture was on the day of her confirmation and it portrayed at transformed person. In it, I saw how God had even changed her countenance. The tears, laden with thanksgiving were also purifying. I realized how contrary to what I had assumed – that I’d not see any answers to why her life unfolded as it did this side of heaven – I saw her powerful redemption story in her countenance.

I can say in absolute honesty, if Deborah’s wild years were required to make her into who she is today, a young lady who wants Jesus to be #1 in every area of her life, then I’m so grateful for those years. I’d willingly go through those years again. I’d willingly go through even worse. What a breakthrough this is for me! Those years, and even the memory of those years, are shrouded in such darkness and despair. But now I see a reason to view them with thanksgiving and purpose. Deborah put her whole heart into rejecting everything good. She practically mastered the art of putting her whole heart into something. Praise be to Jesus Christ, with that expertise she is now putting her whole heart into pursuing Jesus.

And the tears flow. They are tears of inexpressible gratitude. They are prayer. The tears are communion with God.


confirmation

Jan 6 1Last Saturday God answered another big prayer request. Deborah was confirmed into the Catholic Church and wee Atlas was baptized. Oh how glorious to see God expand his kingdom and bring more of my loved ones to him. My heart is so incredibly full.

In his kindness, God has been causing me to stumble upon notes and prayers - like this one - asking him for these gifts, as if he is saying, "always keep praying, my daughter. I love to involve you in my work." 


my catholic conversion

St john lateranMy journey into the Catholic faith is a glorious part of my life and this is my attempt to capture some of its beauty. 

I grew up in an anti-Catholic environment. I thought Catholics worshipped idols, worshipped Mary, paid no heed to the Bible, added to the Bible to suit themselves and, I knew for a fact, that they drank liquor and danced. The lax morality of drinking and dancing (Haha) in and of itself separated them from my fundamentalist upbringing. Even though I spent almost three decades with this negative view of Catholicism, the next 20 years were marked with a longing for something that Protestantism didn’t offer and an attraction to some things that I may not have known were Catholic at the time. This writing is a recapitulation of some events that happened through the years that pulled me in the Catholic direction, because once I embraced Catholicism, I saw a sacred thread running through my life pulling me in that direction for many years.

Sacred threads:

I met a good, Christian, Catholic family in my young years and was quite puzzled by them. Just the tiny bit of exposure to their ways, intrigued me. Each daughter had a crucifix over her bed and that made an impression on me. Crosses were part of my paradigm, but crucifixes were not. *

In 1992, I was very struck my Mother Mary’s faith and holiness as I read the story of the Annunciation. I even wrote an article called, Mary, a Woman of Great Faith, that was published in a Christian newspaper.

After Gordon and I married – I was 27 – I entered the darkest season of my life. Gordon bought me a paraphrase of St. John of the Cross’, Dark Night of the Soul. It was so deep and profound that I could only read a few paragraphs at a time. I plugged through it and it ministered deeply to me. Upon finishing it, I re-read it. I had never experienced a book like it. It stirred things within me that had never been awakened. I knew St. John of the Cross[1] was Catholic, but I reasoned that he was way before Catholics went off the rails into idolatry.

During the same period, I experienced “Responsorial Readings” for the first time in the Baptist church we attended. These readings delighted my soul. In the same church, we occasionally recited The Apostles’ Creed.[2] I loved everyone, in unison, saying, “I believe . . .” *

Through the ensuing years, I occasionally picked up a Catholic book or article that added to the intrigue. Paula Huston’s, The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life influenced me greatly as she told her retreat experiences in a monastery and the customs she adopted having spent time there. I was mesmerized and longed deeply for the faith she saw in the monks. I longed to meet a Catholic like the ones I read about. It didn’t need to be a saint like St. John of the Cross or a monk; a faithful Catholic who deeply believed and lived their Catholic faith would have sufficed. That person was elusive.

The Holy Way, the book that I’d recently read, stirred up a strong desire to sit in a sacred space and just enjoy God’s presence. Catholicism was so foreign to me that I was intimidated to go to a Catholic church alone. Gordon escorted me to the local Catholic seminary to see if they’d grant me permission to spend time in their chapel and attend Mass. The few times I went to the chapel were divine; I wish I’d known who I was with back then. I sensed His presence, but assumed it was “spiritual only”. I didn’t yet know about the “real presence.” (Once Gordon and I walked past a tabernacle with the crimson candle beside it and he told me that Catholics believe the wafers are really Jesus. I thought that was a ridiculous concept and said, “Well, that’s stupid.” I’m sorry whenever I recall that flippant remark.) *

I went to a women’s retreat on prayer at a Catholic retreat center and I had a private retreat twice at a different Catholic retreat center. I spent my time in the library alone, reading and praying. I didn’t understand the significance of the chapel and chose the library because I was afraid I’d get in trouble for doing something wrong in the chapel. It seemed so sacred and everyone did movements (genuflecting, bowing, and making the sign of the cross) I didn’t understand and I sure didn’t know the rules of when to do each movement. Even without understanding why they did those movements, I was struck by the reverence. *

When I homeschooled the kids, I designed a course on saints, with special emphasis on St. Francis of Assisi because he was my favorite and St. Nicholas because I loved his story and wanted the kids to see where some of our Christmas traditions came from. *

We started attending a church that was more contemplative and I loved it. The pastor implemented symbolisms, such as lighting a candle to remind us of God’s presence, and other things of that ilk. Once, to the chagrin of many, he lit incense to remind us that our prayers were rising to God like a sweet fragrance. It blessed me tremendously. *

At a powerful Good Friday service – I’d never experienced a powerful Good Friday service – at the end he invited the congregants to come to the front and pass the cross thoughtfully. I was so internally moved. I loved Jesus and wanted to do something external to express my love. I was so grateful for his sacrifice and I wanted to DO something to show it. I sat there pondering this trying to articulate the inner struggle and what it was I wanted, but I didn’t know. About that time, a lady who had grown up Catholic and converted to Protestantism approached the cross and bowed. She bowed. That was it! That was what I wanted to do. As I approached the cross I wanted to bow but at my moment of opportunity, I allowed my inhibitions to get the better of me. I didn’t bow and returned to my pew sorry that I hadn’t had the guts to bow in gratitude to Jesus who died for me.

Communion had always been a bit of a mystery to me. In my childhood church, it was all but comical. (In 2005, I wrote about my lack of understanding of the Lord's Supper here.) To me it seemed nothing more than trying to conjure up sadness: “Poor Jesus. They killed him because of my sin.” I tried to enter into that, but it was never authentic. I went to a number of churches through the years and none of them gave me any more insight into the Lord’s Supper. At this contemplative Baptist church, for the first time, I got just a bit of insight. One thing we occasionally did there was go up for communion rather than being served in our pews. That so resonated with me. His sacrifice wasn’t cheap, didn’t it deserve my getting up out of my comfortable pew and going forward to receive it? Didn’t he deserve my choosing to receive as my getting up indicated. Going up for communion, as opposed to it coming to me, really impacted me. It cost me something to get up. By walking forward, I identified with him and chose him, I felt.

One Sunday during Communion, I had my first Communion insight ever. As the pastor read the Scripture, “Do this in memory of me,” a light bulb went on and it seemed to be Jesus saying, “Remember me. Remember how I loved the  children. Remember how I healed people. Remember how I had so much compassion on them.” In my prayer journal, I thanked God for the insight and said something to the effect of, “I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what Communion means. I know there is something much, much more than this insight, but it’s the first one I’ve ever had and I’m so thankful.” From then on, as I received the Protestant communion, I always remembered the insight and tried to remember well the Jesus of the Bible. It certainly helped, but I still knew there was something HUGE I was missing. I knew it! Monstrance

Around the same time, I started reading lots on St. Francis and the Franciscan order. After much deliberation, I tried to join an ecumenical order of Franciscans, meaning it was open to any denomination and to either gender. Twice I tried to join, both times no one answered my emails. This effort was to no avail, but I tell it to illustrate my hunger for something more than I was finding in Protestantism. 

When Deborah started school, I went to work and no longer had the luxury of going to the occasional weekday Mass and quit thinking much about Catholicism. But I grew more and more discontent with Protestantism, although I would have used the word "church" rather than "Protestantism", because it never occurred to me it was a Protestant problem; I thought is was simply a church problem. Catholicism, of course, was not a viable option because I believed all the lies I'd been told. Many Sundays I skipped church to be alone with God. During those times I prayed and read my Bible and got so much more out of it than going to church. Those Sundays were my favorite. It seemed I always got annoyed at church. I very often complained inwardly that it was too people-centric. Everyone who took the stage seemed to think they needed to be entertaining. The announcements had to be clever, the worship leader always had to offer his insights, the minister, then the worship team, the special music, . . . To my way of thinking, the God-focused time was very small. And even that part was sometimes disturbing as I recognized that each minister could believe something different but it was his version of truth. I wondered how one could know who was right, and it seemed like a vicious cycle that couldn’t be escaped. I remember listening to a debate on the end times by two ministers that I respected very much and wondering, “Only one of them can be right, but they both claim that the Holy Spirit taught him. How can we know who’s right and who’s wrong?” *

I remember several times telling Gordon I wish I could find a church where I really fit. I was attracted to different things about different denominations, but there wasn’t one that took my favorite things and discarded my least favorite. I wanted a customized church to my liking. That’s a pretty ugly way of thinking, but it was my way of thinking. And why not? After all, in Protestantism anyone can start their own church and everyone chooses the church they like best.

Once after our Baptist church had an ugly split, it became almost unbearable just to attend. I remember being so  incredibly disillusioned trying to figure out what was needed to get church “right.” Something was missing and I knew it!

More sacred threads:

When Gordon was still a Baptist minister we read articles, did a little research, and concluded there were elements about divorce and remarriage that we couldn’t reconcile with his being in pastoral ministry. We both experienced conviction – he could explain his, I couldn’t explain mine – that our marriage was “off”. (That is my word, because as I said, I couldn’t articulate my conviction.) His conviction led to his resigning pastoral ministry. *

Gordon and I used birth control, but we both admitted way back in our young days that we felt conflicted about it. There seemed something amiss about it. We said we trusted God with everything, but recognized we didn't quite trust him not to give us more children than we could handle. *

Once when eating out I saw a man pray over his meal and cross himself. It was enormously compelling and I wished for a Protestant equivalent. When watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the aunts crossed themselves upon hearing “bad” news. Although it was a humorous part in the movie, I recognized a desire to have an instant bodily prayer upon hearing something grave. When I worked at a Vet Hospital and an animal died, I wanted to do something that marked the sacredness of a life ended. Sometimes I secretly made a cross on their bodies with my fingers. Even a dog’s death seemed to merit a holy gesture of some sort since it had been created for God’s pleasure. During those moments, I wanted to be Catholic because I recognized they had an appropriate gesture that conveyed a holy moment.

My pastor offered something that vaguely helped, at least at mealtime. He told me to cup my hands to acknowledge that I come to God empty handed, aware of my need and that everything is a gift from him. It helped, but it was still lacking.

RosaryGordon and I visited a Catholic bookstore and he bought me my first set of rosary beads. They promptly became a part of my evening prayers. I didn’t pray the rosary, but I designed a Protestant way of praying with the beads. I quoted the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, three “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” and then gave my loved ones at least one bead each as I prayed for them. I recognized how involving my hands in prayer kept me focused in prayer. Later, Gordon visited Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal and bought me two more sets of rosary beads. I cherished them. Later, his friend went to Rome and asked Gordon if he’d like a souvenir and Gordon requested a set of rosary beads from the Vatican for me. I was thrilled, but still prayed my beads in a Protestant fashion. My rosary beads were accumulating. I had a set in the living room, the bedroom, the office, and in my car. Because I was enjoying mine so much, I even gifted some to other Protestants telling them how they were helping me focus better in prayer.

And then finally, . . . after 16+ years of searching, I met a faithful, committed, holy Catholic. Robin and I worked together and I was attracted to her because she didn’t shy away from mentioning her faith. She had convictions and wasn’t afraid to discuss them with anyone. I had often thought of holy people as people who prayed, read their Bible, and tried to live lives of integrity. Robin went beyond that. She went to Mass daily, guarded her tongue better than most, lived a very convicted life, and quickly stood for her convictions if they were being assaulted. We became friends and started taking our afternoon breaks together. She patiently let me grill her for months. I began to go to Mass with her occasionally and I loved how it wasn’t people-centered at all. I presented her with problems I saw with the Catholic faith and she told me what they “really” believed as opposed to what I’d always heard they believed. She cleared up lots of my confusion. She couldn’t clear everything up for me and tons of confusion remained, but Robin’s conviction of being right was unwavering. 

Gordon, recognizing my sincere exploration, bought me Peter Kreeft’s book, Catholic Christianity. Peter Kreeft is a convert to Catholicism himself, and this book explains the Catechism.  I was enormously blessed by this book and spent the whole summer poring over it, reading it in conjunction with all its Bible references. As I read things that resonated, my heart would pound with excitement. Many questions were answered, others were unanswered. But there was enough goodness, clarity, and beauty that I knew I wanted to learn more. Many of the longings, the dissatisfactions in my church,  the vague convictions that I couldn’t clarify, many questions about passages in the Bible that I didn’t understand, - all the things that created that sacred thread pulling me into The Church – were slowly being addressed and, to my amazement, the answers were found in the Catholic Church.

By buying the rosary beads and books, Gordon was being a sweet, kind, and loving husband wanting to help me grow in faith. He had no intention of facilitating my conversion to Catholicism. I told him I wanted to join RCIA (adult classes for people interested in learning more about Catholicism) and he wasn’t particularly happy about that and he wasn’t at all interested in joining me, as I’d hoped.

My first night of RCIA, I was very excited, but nervous. Still in the hallway on my way to the classroom, I sensed the Holy Spirit so powerfully that I nearly began to cry. Then as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I couldn’t hold it together any longer and I cried as I told what I’d been reading and some of the things that were drawing me to Catholicism. I also told how my journey was “upsetting the apple cart” at home and how if I continued on the path, I knew it would be hard. In my world (my family and friends), everyone agreed that the Catholic Church was way off the mark.

From that night on (it lasts about eight months) RCIA became the absolute highlight of my week. It was vibrant, and I fell in love with the faith more with every meeting. The word I use is "beautiful". The Catholic faith is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. I had believed a lie all my life. The Catholic faith, were it what I’d always heard it was, was worthy of the vitriol I grew up with, but I was seeing the lies very clearly. The lies I’d heard all my life were just that, ignorant lies.

 

[1] St. John of the Cross lived in the 1500’s. Whereas Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation, St. John was working within the Church for reform. He was imprisoned and publicly tortured by fellow Catholics. As Catholics, we esteem him for being among the faithful who fought for reform in the Church without breaking away from the Church.

[2] This is the Apostles Creed which we say at the beginning of every rosary: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

* indicates that I want to eventually address this topic in more detail.

  • Why Catholics venerate crucifixes above crosses
  • Liturgy
  • The Eucharist
  • Reverence and Christ-centered worship
  • Saints and why we value them
  • Symbolism
  • Magisterium
  • Marriage and its indissolubility
  • Natural Family Planning

advent thoughts

InnkeeperHappy third week of Advent. Advent is a season to prepare for the coming King, both the Baby King and the soon returning King. I'm trying to live Advent mindfully. 

Decades ago, there was a Motel 6 commercial that ended with, "We'll leave the lights on for you." I recall that phrase every time I get up during the night and see the lit-up living room. I leave the lights on the tree burning 24-7 during Advent as an on-going conversation with Jesus. "Jesus, my home and heart welcomes you. The lights are on so you can find your way. Do you see the welcoming light proclaiming, 'this house over here?'"

Unlike the innkeepers in the gospels who had no room for the Holy Family, I want Jesus to see our welcome from afar. My blinds are open and the tree lights proclaim, "You are welcome, Lord Jesus. My heart and home have room for you. You will be honored here. You, your mom and St Joseph, are welcome to stay here. The simple (and smelly) shepherds are welcome to worship you here. The esteemed Magi are welcome to bring their gifts to you and pay you homage." By assuring him that my "inn" has room for him, I'm committing that the ones who worshipped him in the manger are welcome to worship him here, too. "I have made room for you and all of them in my heart and home. The lights are on so you can find us easily. The blinds are open so we can easily be seen as a welcoming place. Jesus, please join us through this Advent."

I welcome his second coming, too. Might the lights that I'm leaving on for him shine symbolic light on my heart to reveal areas that aren't ready for his return? I want to be pure and holy, like a bride washed clean, pure, with eyes only for her bridegroom, radiant in his pure love. Are there areas that aren't ready for his return?

Jesus, be born anew in me and in my home. Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Holy Spirit, convict and cleanse me. May my heart be fit to welcome the coming King. 


masked worship?, offer it up

Masked worshipLast week COVID restrictions were increased and one notable change was that masks must be worn throughout Mass now. Before, it was just when we were not in our pews. It grieved my spirit. (Here is why I think masking is a spiritual liberty infringement.) 

I was "off" to say the least. I struggled breathing properly; my glasses stayed fogged; and, I was hot. I couldn't hear any responses from the faithful and realized the masks were muzzling their voices. As I observed this, I resolved I wouldn't let the mask muzzle my responses, that I would enunciate clearly and loudly. 

During Holy Communion, we are allowed to take our masks off on the "X". I resolved to stand there an extra moment and let Jesus look on my face. Back at my pew, a cried a bit thinking about how COVID restrictions have affected our worship. I left Mass slightly heavy-hearted.

In the afternoon my advent reading ended with this reflection question: What expectations and demands of life can you let go of so that you can be more prepared for the coming of Jesus? I knew instantly that I was to offer up my "muzzled worship." Within seconds, I saw things differently. With this change of attitude and spiritual posture, I'm going to worship more efficaciously during Advent, not less. I'm going to "offer up" the masked worship as a sacrifice, uniting it with Jesus's sacrifice. What a difference this mental and spiritual shift will make. 

Does Satan mean the masks to be oppressive and hinder worship? I believe he does. But I'm not going to give him that. Instead, I'm going to offer the mask, maybe even two of them, as a sacrifice, uniting it with Jesus's suffering for the salvation of souls. I will gladly don my mask, or two, throughout Advent as penitent sacrifice. I will reveal my face to Jesus for those few extra seconds on the "X" for us to look at and whisper our love to each other with unveiled face. I will speak my responses loudly and clearly through the mask. I will delight in the privilege of being oppressed by a mask for Jesus's sake.

Happy Advent. Come Lord Jesus.


prayer, communion of saints, st therese

RunnersI love to pray, and I consider prayer my vocation. I think I was put on earth to pray (and deposit five awesome souls into this world). Prayer is a huge part of my life. Huge.

Recently I shared a little bit about St Therese of Lisieux and the communion of the saints and I want to develop it more.

Communion of the Saints

The Communion of the Saints is one of my favorite Catholic teachings. I accept every teaching of the Church as true, what I mean by favorite is that it is beautiful to me. I’m no theologian, but I want to describe what the Communion of the Saints is as best I can.

Christians are the mystical body of Christ. We are always connected. When a Christian dies, he/she continues to be part of the body of Christ. They are not cut off from the body of Christ just because they died on earth. They remain part of the body, just in a different location. Being his mystical body, we, his disciples, are intimately united.

We are surrounded by the saints, those who are in heaven. Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, . . ." This verse is following the "Hall of Faith" chapter where many saints of old are praised for their faith. Here we see that those saints are with us, “we are surrounded.”

Imagine we, all Christians, are in a huge stadium. Either we are running or have already run. If we are running, we are still alive on earth. If we have already run, we have departed this life. As residents of heaven we are filled with perfect charity and have no impurities, insecurities, axes to grind, or any of the emotional baggage we deal with here on earth. Instead, we want each runner in the race to succeed as if he or she is our beloved little brother or sister. We know the pitfalls and the challenges of the racecourse because we ran the same course. We want to lend our support and wisdom.

The saints in heaven hear us, pray for us, and take our prayers to Jesus. Revelation 5:8, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” Psalm 141:2 speaks of our prayers as incense too. “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!”

When our prayers reach heaven they are as incense. Catholic churches burn incense as a symbol of our prayers wafting up to heaven.

James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” A person in heaven is perfect in holiness therefore their prayers are the most powerful and effective. Asking for their intercession is smart.

Some might object to our asking the saints for the intercession by saying we should go directly to God; we have Jesus as our mediator, we don’t need anyone else. Yes, Jesus is our mediator, and we can go directly to God. Communing with the saints does not undermine that; we must speak to God regularly. But God made us a family. As a mother, it delights me to see my children loving each other, praying for each other, counselling each other, laughing together, etc. I would be terribly disappointed if I were the only one in the family they talked to, not to mention how dysfunctional it would be. The saints in heaven are our wise big brothers and sisters. We don’t need them because God is in any way deficient. Rather, each person in the family is a gift from God to every other member of the family. God delights in us having rich relationships with our siblings.

To take, “we should only go directly to God,” to its logical conclusion would be to say we shouldn’t ask anyone on earth to pray for us either. But we know from numerous verses that it’s God’s will that we pray for one another.

Others might think that talking to the saints is sinful because God forbids necromancy. This objection fails to recognize that the saints in heaven are alive and well. More alive and more well than anyone on earth.

Necromancy is inviting the dead to talk to us totally apart from the love and light of God. Whereas we recognize the saints in heaven to be fully alive, someone in a séance recognizes they are striving to speak to the dead.

If talking to those who have departed this world is always sinful, Jesus would have been guilty. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was joined by and spoke with Elijah and Moses who had departed this world centuries prior.

St Therese of Lisieux

I wrote briefly about her before, because a couple of her admonitions touched me deeply. “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love,” was one. But my absolute favorite thing she said was this: I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.

St Therese understood the doctrine of the Communion of the Saints. She had a long, painful struggle with tuberculosis, and when she said those words I love so much, "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth," she knew she was dying. She knew she would soon be in the great cloud of witnesses cheering on (praying for) her little brothers and sisters as they ran their race. She embraced death knowing it would allow her to do more good on earth than she could while living on earth. She died in 1897, at 24 years old. Her last words were, “My God, I love You!”

Prayer, Communion of the Saints, and St Therese. What am I trying to say? When I die, I hope you will remember the Catholic teaching on the Communion of the Saints. I hope you will remember that my vocation is one of prayer, because I think that will be my “thing” in heaven too. I hope you will remember St Therese’s words, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” I hope you will ask me to pray for you because, like St Therese, I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth. 

PS St Therese's autobiography is called The Story of a Soul. It is a short book that has helped millions grow in holiness. I'd be grateful if you'd follow that link as your purchase gives me a small kickback. 

PSS St Dominic said this to his brothers as he was dying: “Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.”

St Therese, pray for us. St Dominic, pray for us.


debs is engaged

EngagementThis weekend Deborah and Davis got engaged. We've been expecting it, but it's now really real. Happy engagement, kids. Their courtship has been sweet to watch. They met over Tinder, a dating website that's notorious for one-night stands. Deborah's profile had something to the effect of, "Not looking for a hookup; in it for the long haul."

In Tinder vernacular, they "swiped right." They had their first coffee date and it lasted hours. Davis later told Deborah that he left it thinking, "I'm going to marry her." The next morning, she told her sisters about him and Rachael could hardly contain her excitement because we had a bit of an inside track on Davis. It was an itty bitty bit, but it excited us!!

Very soon after moving to town, I got involved in my church's RCIA program. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and is a catechism class for adults who are exploring coming into the Catholic Church. I'm profoundly grateful to be in the Church and RCIA is a ministry I want to be in as I want to be part of bringing others into the Church. Because, after all, the Catholic Church is the best thing on earth.

I didn't volunteer in RCIA long before my mother needed my help in Arkansas. But during those few classes I attended, I was super encouraged to meet four young men who took their faith seriously. Jesse, Dakota, Devon, and, wait for it, Davis. I learned that they got together regularly to discuss The Summa Theologica, by none other than St. Thomas Aquinas, d. 1274. Not exactly lightweight reading material. I squealed with delight when I learned this, embarrassing myself, but seriously so excited to meet young men who were embracing the depth of the Church. Within a few days I had excitedly told Hannah and Rachael about these guys and how I was so encouraged to meet them. 

So after Deborah and Davis's coffee date, Rachael and I were beside ourselves that Deborah was seeing a Catholic man who took his faith seriously. Ooohlala.

Now, instead of volunteering at RCIA, I'm keeping little Atlas while Deborah and Davis attend. Deborah will be coming into the Church at Easter Vigil 2021, and they will get married the following Saturday, April 10. 

I'm thrilled that they found each other. I'm thrilled that they are committed to purity until marriage; that Davis is helping Deborah grow in her Catholic faith; that Davis has come into Atlas's life at such a young age and is planning to adopt him; that Deborah's life continues to get better and better. Her life hasn't been an easy one and there've been a number of times we didn't know if she'd survive some of her choices, but God has worked so gloriously in her. She radiates joy and recognizes she is a victim of God's amazing grace. Her life is a testimony that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)


atlas pinches and hides

Rocking atlasI'm a blessed Beppie; I have 14 grandchildren and I'm pretty confident there will be more. Maybe lots more. (I could not contain my smile as I typed that.) With all those blessings, only one grandchild lives nearby. Little Atlas. He is 15 months old. I see him often and am thankful. I wish I could as easily see the other grandkids and have regular sleepovers, tea parties, and dates. My favorite Beppie blessing is rocking them to sleep. Rocking grandkids is a most perfect time to pray for them. And I take every opportunity I get. 

Atlas likes to annoy my dogs, Peewee and Charlie. He likes pulling tails, holding paws hostage, and pinching. Last night, in the mood to pester the dogs, Atlas found the familiar lump under the blanket that the dogs and I were covered with and pinched it. The dog did not react. Disappointed, he pinched again. Still he didn't get the desired reaction. With clinched teeth, he squeezed the lump so hard he shook. He was squeezing my knee. 

Later I was working in the kitchen when Atlas hugged the back of my legs. I decided to make a game of it. "Where's Atlas?," I sing-songed. He released his hug and I continued the game pretending I didn't know where he was. "Where, oh where, is Atlas?" I slowly began turning around, fully expecting a cackle when our eyes met. Instead of a cackle, I faced a little fellow who upon hearing, "Where's Atlas?" had covered his eyes to hide from me. 


mandatory masking and why i'm against it

Like many others, I think things are amiss with COVID 19. It is not that I do not think it exists, of course it exists. It is how it Maskhas been handled that I have issues with. There are many things that arouse suspicion with respect to its handling:

  • Conflicting information from the “experts”
  • Radical advice reversals from the “experts”
    • Masks will not help --> We must wear masks.
  • It has been politically advantageous to the Democrats as it was another thing to lay at President Trump’s feet.
  • Crackdowns on conservative groups (churches) that met, but BLM riots were left unhindered, even praised by some politicians.
  • Quarantining the healthy
  • Devastating the economy
  • Censorship of information. The doctors and scientists who offered opposing viewpoints were silenced. Social media posts expressing unpopular COVID opinions were removed.
  • The misleading numbers. Yes, cases are up because testing is up.
  • COVID being listed untruthfully as the cause of death on death certificates.
  • The lockdowns have been a deathblow to many people. Lockdowns killed my mother.
  • The forced withholding of the Holy Eucharist.

Adding to those concerns, which I think are significant, I have some fundamental problems with mandated masking. I do not have a problem with people masking of their own free will. I am happy for everyone who wants to wear a mask to wear a mask. It is the mandate that I struggle with.

Hiding the image of God

I’ve been pondering 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” My Bible has a footnote at the word contemplate that says “reflect.” Substituting that word, that part of the verse would read, “we . . . who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory.”

We are made in the image of God and it is our face that reflects His image to the world. Everyone bears the image of God on their faces. Requiring the image of God be covered is my greatest problem with mandated masking.

Masks dehumanize interactions

We used to be comfortable chatting with others at the grocery store, now it is a “risk” to be avoided. I have avoided speaking to the elderly because between my mask and their mask, conversation is terribly difficult. The worst part of that intentional ignoring is that I cannot even give them a friendly and caring smile because it is hidden behind a mask.

Faces are our most recognizable feature, and they reveal our essence better than anything. Faces are almost critical in getting to know another and in being known. When our faces are masked, a lot of our essence, our humanity, is also masked.

Anonymity should not be the norm

I have never robbed a bank, but I know that wearing a mask is important for the job. There is a reason the Lone Ranger wore a mask – to conceal his identity, of course. When we mask, we are not totally concealing our identity, but we have made a leap in that direction. I read that it would take a kidnapper less than two minutes to make a girl unrecognizable to her parents, provided the girl was wearing a mask. Put her hair in a baseball cap and throw boy clothes over her clothes. The mask made the feat incredibly easy.

My point is that masks masks our identity. That is not an okay place to live. We have all seen the grossly insulting comments on public Facebook pages. There is no accountability when we are hiding behind a computer screen; people are emboldened to be their worst selves. Anonymity allows the dark side of people to thrive. When we are not easily identifiable our lower natures creep up.

Recently I was in a public situation where I was uncharacteristically rude and inconsiderate. After I was rebuked by a stranger, who was equally rude and inconsiderate, I was embarrassed and slightly horrified by my behavior. At the time I thought maybe I was in a partial daze because my mom had just died, and maybe there was some of that in there, but I also think my standard was lowered because I was behind a mask. I was relieved to be absorbed into a crowd because I knew, thanks to my mask, he was not going to be able to pick me out of a crowd. And I was not going to pick him out of a crowd either.

I feel a little dead inside when I mask

That sounds dramatic and funny both. But something changes in me when I mask. I do not feel like I am getting enough air and my breathing is simply not normal. I search out empty aisles in the store to pull my mask down just to get my breathing rhythm back on track. Masks make my face terribly hot, adding to the breathing problem. My glasses fog. Soon after donning my mask, my emotions begin sinking. I start feeling “blue” and thick-headed. I feel pure relief when I take the mask off.

I feel these physical sensations of constraint and unease so distinctly that I can 100% say that my best self is suppressed. Is the suppression of our best selves good for our world? I cannot believe it is.

Bad omen for the future

As I said in the beginning, the handling of COVID has been suspicious. Because of the reasons I outlined, I am distrustful of any “expert” on COVID. There are people and causes that stand to profit by the prolonged COVID fearmongering. Having read a little on the Great Reset, I see that keeping COVID in the forefront of everyone’s mind is advantageous to the Great Reset’s materializing. And what better way to keep it in the forefront of our mind than mandatory masking? It’s something to consider.


st therese

St thereseOne of God's beautiful gifts to us is family, and the saints are a critical part of the family. I can’t stop smiling as I contemplate this grace. My heart swells with love and gratitude; I wish I had better words to express my thanks. Some days I just ask God to receive my smile and the warmth and joy in my heart as my offering of thanks. 

What an amazing gift God gave us in the communion of the saints; their love, their intercession, their help, their teachings and writings, and their friendship. St Therese of the Child Jesus is my newest saintly friend. "Do small things with great love," is the biggest gem she has taught me thus far. Since learning about her teaching on small things, or the "Little Way," as she called it, I've been striving to reframe things in that context. I remember last summer, after having read her "Story of a Soul," getting out of my car at a gas station and seeing some litter and thinking of it as a small way to give love to God. I picked up the litter and disposed of it, all in the context of St Therese's words to do small things with great love. I gave that little act of disposing of someone's litter to God. It felt good.

She wrote, "What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love." I think we've forgotten the power of love, if we ever knew it to begin with. I've always focused on deeds, not love, so this teaching is profound to me. Therese believed and taught that the secret was not in doing great things, but in doing ordinary things with extraordinary love.

Another one of her quotes that I love is, "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth," in which she meant she would intercede powerfully for us. How glorious. I too, want to spend my heaven doing good on earth. As it is November, the month the Church particularly honors the souls that have died, I've been spending time at the cemetery praying. While walking the cemetery praying, I've realized that I would love that epithet on my tombstone: I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.


chapel veils

VeilAfter quite a lot of thought, I recently decided to begin wearing a veil to Mass. For me, veiling is about three things: reverence, submission, and femininity.

Reverence. Wearing a chapel veil is a testimony of our reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Nowhere else in the world is as sacred as a Catholic Church where Jesus is always present in the Tabernacle. The incredible honor of being in His presence deserves something out of the ordinary. I don’t wear a veil anywhere else; the veil is reserved for being in Jesus’s presence. The veil proclaims this place is sacred.

Submission. A bride wears a veil as she walks toward her bridegroom to whom she is giving her whole self. When a woman wears a chapel veil, she is testifying that she has given herself wholly to Jesus. One of the ways that absolute giving of herself to Jesus is expressed is in total submission to the teachings of the Church. Wearing a veil is an expression of total commitment to Jesus and His Church. Our time before the Lord in the Eucharist is like a bride before her groom. Wearing a veil in Mass says, “I give my whole self to You and I submit to all your teachings.”

Femininity. Veils are usually made of lace and are very feminine. When I wear a veil, I’m embracing my dignity as a woman and I’m expressing praise to God for my womanhood. Why praise God for womanhood? Because womanhood allows us to carry life within us. What an awesome gift.

Our world is so incredibly upside down with respect to all these things. By worldly standards, nothing is sacred and deserving of reverence. Submission is a distasteful word that is equated with subjugation. Femininity has been replaced with equality or sexiness, whichever is most beneficial in the moment, and the ability to carry and produce life is denigrated, as evidenced in contraception and abortion. When I wear a veil in Jesus’s presence, I am countering the values of the world.

The Catholic Church used to be set apart by its reverence. I’m not sure we still carry that distinction. Women who choose to veil, I think, remind us of the reverence that our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist deserves. It’s a testimony to others that we truly believe He is really present in the Eucharist.

After I began veiling, I learned something that reinforced my decision. In 1968, the NOW (National Organization for Women), encouraged Catholic women to send their veils to the NOW national office to be burned. If an organization that promotes killing babies in their mothers’ wombs hates the chapel veil that much, that should give us pause. And for me, it does just that.


happy reformation day?

Cath churchOctober 31 isn't just Halloween, it's also "Reformation Day" and my Facebook feed always has some Happy Reformation Day posts. I think the Reformation is the saddest event since the fall in the garden. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, October 31, 1517, the Catholic Church was in a terribly corrupt state and desperately in need of reform. How I wish Martin Luther had stayed in the Catholic church and humbly fought for reform there. Several Catholic reformers did and they made a powerful difference. Jesus prayed that we would be one as he and the Father are one. But now, thanks to Martin Luther and the reformation, we have over 30,000 denominations – anything but unity. No one denies the church needed reforming, but we didn’t need a new church. We needed a purified church. Thankfully, God raised up saints who fought for purity and reform in the Church. Martin Luther, on the other hand, threw out the baby with the bathwater. 

The "Happy Reformation Day" posts often include something about, "Scripture alone. Faith alone. Christ alone." Regarding Scripture alone, I want to ask: Where might that verse be found? "Scripture alone" is a self-refuting argument since it’s not in the Bible. When I was a protestant, I cited 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as proof, ("All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equipped, prepared for every good work.”), but really those verses confirm the value, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Word, not the teaching of Scripture alone.

Catholics believe that Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (Apostolic teaching) constitute the full deposit of faith. Chronologically, Tradition came first as the early church didn’t have the New Testament. The New Testament wasn’t canonized until four centuries after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus left us a Church, not a Bible. Apostolic teaching (Tradition) propagated the spread of the gospel before the Bible was available. If “Scripture alone” is valid, how did the early church survive? Thankfully, they weren’t reliant on Scripture alone or they would have starved to death.

Regarding faith alone, isn’t the flip side of faith faithfulness? Can one have faith without being faithful? Romans 1:5 and 16:25-26 speaks of the obedience of faith. If faith is simply believing, what is the “obedience of faith” that Paul speaks of? The Catholic church is accused of teaching that we can earn our salvation, but the Church teaches no such thing. We believe in

Confirmation day
My Confirmation Day, 2016

 faith and works. I cannot earn my way to heaven by good works. But once God gives me the grace of conversion, (His work, not mine), for love of Him, I will “work out my salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 “For faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:18

Glory to God alone!! That Catholics worship anyone other than the Holy Trinity is untrue. To worship anyone else is heresy and idolatry. We honor and esteem the saints who’ve gone before us, Mary above the others, but in no way do we worship them.

I am head-over-heels in love with my glorious Catholic faith and badly want to come to its defense when I see the Reformation Day posts. But that would be futile, and I'm anything but a debater. But I know my experience well and it is this: when I came into the Catholic church, I didn’t give up anything, but I gained a richness, depth, and beauty in my relationship with Jesus that I never dreamed possible. I have never been more in love with Jesus. I have never had more powerful prayer. I have never been more aware of my sin and His mercy. I have never been more whole. Jesus, through the Catholic Church, has changed everything.

 


"until the end of time"

Mama continues to be on my mind an awfully lot and I keep thinking of her legacy. My mom was not a perfect person, but she did so many things right. It's so gracious of God to bring those things to the forefront of our minds after someone dear passes. The same thing happened with my dad. Good thoughts are so easily recalled and bad thoughts tend to stay in the background. It's an interesting phenomenon. 

Several months ago, before Mama went into the nursing home, I spent a lot of time with her. I'm not going to pretend it was easy; it was very hard, and I was often in tears of frustration and fatigue. But bed time was always sweet. She would ask me to sleep with her and then we would pray. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. Since Mama would forget she had prayed, she'd always start again after I prayed and then prompt me to pray again because she'd forgotten I prayed. 

A fascinating thing about our prayer time was her lucidity. Her words were never twisted. Never. She would sometimes apologetically say, "Lord, I don't know how to say it, but you know what I mean." But she had said whatever it was perfectly fine. She had a regular refrain in her prayers that made an impact on me. She prayed consistently that all of her descendants, "until the end of time," would be saved, and that "not one hair would be lost." 

I pray for my offspring daily, but until prayer time with Mama, I never thought to pray for the offspring far removed from me. I pray for my children and grandchildren, but never had I considered praying that my descendants "until the end of time" would be saved. Well, I do now. 

Mama's prayers were the only time she made good sense. I always marveled at that. Then one day, unlike her regular words that "not one hair would be lost," she asked that "not one hoof would be lost." It was the first time she'd used a wrong word in prayer time. Weeks later, I was reading about Moses and the great exodus and read these words: not one hoof was lost. Even her wrong word wasn't really wrong if you considered she was praying Scripture.

When Mama went into the hospital, I spent the remainder of my time there cleaning her house and going through her stuff. When I came across all her saved items from Debbie, my sister that died at 14 months, it was clear to me that they needed to be buried with her. She'd saved it for 63 years, it could hardly be thrown away. I put it in a box and, eventually, it was buried with her.

Shortly afterward, Mama moved into Edgewood Nursing Home. Near my time to come back to Canada, Gordon flew down so we could drive back together. We went to see Mama one last time at the nursing home. When I told her we were headed back to Canada, she prayed for us. I do not recall what she prayed, but it was bang on and powerful. It was a commissioning-style prayer, if that makes any sense. I was quite convinced, through her prayer, that it was our final goodbye. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Mama dyingA few months later, I was back in Arkansas, and God so graciously allowed me to be with her as she drew her last breaths. Diane and Mama's twin, Jill, were there too, and each of us had a daughter with us. Jill had Peggy, Diane had Misty, and I had Stephanie. I'll ever be thankful that we were there. She wasn't alone. As she departed this life, we were able to tell her that she had lived a good life: her children loved her; her children loved God; she taught us to pray and read our Bible; many of her grandchildren were walking with the Lord; she was home surrounded by family. "You were in the hospital, but now you are home and we are all with you now." I remember saying, "Mama, tell Debbie we love her." I don't really know why that came out, perhaps because in my heart Mama and Debbie can't be separated. And it's true, I do love Debbie, even though I never knew her. I don't know how that love came to be, but I love her and I always have.


thursday thirteen, things mama said

Back in the day when I blogged regularly, Thursday Thirteen was an awesome way to capture things that were cumbersome to Mom and me
write. During my recent time with Mama, just prior to her death, she said things that were cute, sweet, peculiar, and insightful. But most things were lacking lucidity. Because of her advanced Alzheimer's, she seldom made much sense. 

This Thursday 13 is composed of things Mama said near her end that touched me. 

  1. She told my sister about a man getting startled. "They afraided him."
  2. One day as I sat with her, she said, "Darling, you look so sadful." 
  3. "We need to have a prayer meeting. Tonight, we're going to kneel down and pray. Lord Jesus, I need you the most."
  4. When she was awake, she was likely praying. "It's in Jesus's name I'm asking. I don't know how to ask, come be with us. Teach us how to walk, speak to our hearts. We're all sinners ready to be spoken to. So many powers are hung out to dry."
  5. She called each nurse, "Teacher."
  6. She told me I was beautiful. "You look just like your mother, but I think your mother is prettier." I asked, "Do you know my mother?" She replied, "I've seen her a couple of times. You're gorgeous, especially when you're beautiful."
  7. When I told her she was my mother, she said, "Let's not get carried away."
  8. She was often very worried about her parents, especially her dad. When she'd ask where they were, I'd say they went to town for groceries. She'd say, "How do we know something bad didn't happen to them?"
  9. "Will you be taken away from me? Stay here with me."
  10. "Should I pay?" "No Mama you don't owe any one any money. You've paid for everything." "Well good."
  11. "Get the hair out of your eyes." All my life, she's told me that. That time it didn't irritate me at all.
  12. I sang "You Are My Sunshine" to her, then she started talking about it in third person. "That sure was sweet when Valerie sang, "You Are My Sunshine" to me.
  13. She often prayed for all the men in the family, my brother, Michael, the most. But for each of her brothers and all her grandsons, she prayed "May they be mighty men of valor." 
  14. Praying, she said, "Deliver our children. I ask this for my kids."
  15. "I love you like the dickens."
  16. In prayer, "I'm asking for your saving grace. The house is tore up. Let it be clean."
  17. "Come on, Beautiful." I replied, "I'm right here Mama," to which she responded, "Very good. I love to hear you say that."
  18. "Bless your heart, Baby."
  19. "Lord, help Michael shut-up."
  20. She put both hands on my face and said. "I love you. I love you so, so much. Of all the people in the world, I love you the most, outside my family."
  21. Interestingly, her last spoken words were, "Be still." When the paramedics brought her "home," they jostled her around terribly. She was quite drugged and couldn't really wake up, but she managed to tell them to be still. 

I exceeded 13, but that's okay. 

Mama has always prayed. When her mind was going, going, gone, she prayed near constantly. Near the very end, her prayers were very disjointed and lacking sense. What a comfort to know that God knew exactly what she was trying to say, what her spirit was expressing. That is such a beautiful thought, actually it's not just a thought, it's a fact. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us . . ." Romans 8:26. Her prayers reached heaven perfectly sound minded. Thank you, Holy Trinity.

_________________

Updated a couple days later: I shared the above memories with my siblings and aunt and two of them had things to add to this list. My sister, Diane, shared these:

  1. She told me that someone had been “scorchy” with her. 
  2. She talked to Stacie about not worrying and said, “Do you pray?"
  3. “Jesus, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”
  4. “Lord, you are the one I want to love…”
  5. With Vernie sitting beside her, she prayed, “Lord, is Vernie good?” And Jill promptly spoke up, “Tell me what He says." 
  6. I was bent over her close (with mask on), and she was talking when she suddenly stopped mid-sentence and said “What beautiful eyes.” It was so heartfelt, so sweet. I told her I got them from my mother. She asked who my mother was. I told her Geraldine Piearcy. I saw confusion cross her face. She was quiet for a moment and then said thoughtfully, “There’s two Geraldine Piearcy’s.” I didn’t not know it then, but I learned afterwards that there really is.

_________________

My Aunt Jill, Mama's twin sister, wrote this:
 
She kept saying at one point, "Jesus make Vernie not talk to me that way!"  I asked her how I was talking to her and she said, "Like I'm an inferior person."  I said, "OK I'll not talk that way to you any more."  But in reality I hadn't been talking to her that way.  Diane said a nurse had come in earlier and had "talked down" to her.  Diane thought she was just calling everybody Vernie and that's why I got the blame for somebody else talking down to her.
 
My favorite memory of Geral was when I first walked into Hospice House that first morning after she moved in.  When I opened the door to her room she was lying with her face toward the door.  She saw me come in and her whole demeanor sharpened and went on alert.  She stared at me and said disbelieving like, "WHO ARE YOU?"  I reached up and removed my mask and said, "Who am I?  Don't you know who I am!!!"   I've never in my life felt so much joy at that moment at seeing her again and watching the relief and joy spreading over her face.  There was no doubt about it.  She KNEW WHO I WAS!  She may not have been able to say my name but she KNEW WHO I WAS!  I've thought about that moment a million times since then.  It was a perfect moment for me.  I think it was for her.  I take much pleasure from remembering that one moment when we first made contact. 
_______________
 
Those memories, even if I wasn't there for them, are very special to me. My favorite thing about blogging is the family records it preserves.

sr josefa and redemptive suffering

JosefaNow I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. - Colossians 1:24

Sister Josefa Menendez wrote: I begged him to accept all the little acts, . . . the sufferings, . . . and above all the very real desire . . . to comfort him and please him. I asked him to purify and transform these very little things and give them some value in his sight.

Jesus replied: I do not look at the act itself, I look at the intention. The smallest act, if done out of love, acquires such merit that it gives me immense consolation. . . Love me, and refuse me nothing to obtain for me the love of many souls."

I want to give Jesus souls through every hardship; to offer whatever cross or suffering God allows in my life for the salvation of souls. Difficult relationships provide ample opportunity to unite sufferings to Jesus's sufferings for lost souls. Most often I forget about this awesome opportunity I've been given to "offer it up" and instead get caught up in the annoyances, frustrations and hurt of the moment. But I'm learning and I ask for the grace to remember to offer it up, whatever "it" may be.

Somehow, when we unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, our Lord will bring good to the lives of others in need of him. It's an awesome opportunity and I deeply wish I'd known this years ago. Not only does our suffering united with his suffering work salvifically in the lives of others, but it helps us along the road to holiness. 

It doesn't have to be a great hardship like persecution or cancer, for us to offer it up. We can offer up the phone call from an annoying neighbor, the email we're struggling to compose, the laundry, . . . There is no limit. 

The minutia of day-to-day life provides much opportunity to grow in holiness. Saints of God, pray for me. Help me see those opportunities as you did.

 


i can't see you

Mama armsAs you might imagine, my dear mom is on my mind lots. Having been a victim of COVID lockdowns in the nursing home, she would hardly let us out of her sight when we finally got to be with her in the hospice house.
 
On the day I took this picture she didn’t want me to sit down because sitting down meant she couldn’t see me as well.
 
I’m glad I stood.

deborah shares

DebsMy daughter, Deborah, shares more about the work of God in her life. She says, “I really, really hope that this speaks to someone. Someone who is hurting, and who feels irreparably damaged.”
 
I am a privileged person. So privileged. Not because I’m white, not because I’m a woman, not because of anything that can be brought down to worldly things. I am privileged because I have God in my life. Please don’t stop reading, because there is more to that statement than you think.
When I was 13, I lost my virginity to rape. The boy I lost my virginity to was 16 years old. For so many years I hated him. I wished him dead. I was so damaged because of what I had been through, and no part of me ever wanted to forgive him. No part of me ever thought that I would be whole again. Through the years more events occurred. More assaults, and abuse, and a lot of dangerous and damaging situations that I subjected myself to. Needless to say, I became a virtually irreparably damaged person. So I thought.
 
I went through a lot as a teenager, a lot of it my own doing, and some of it not. My parents didn’t think I’d live to see 16, and frankly, I didn’t want to. Every year that went by I would find ways to try and numb the pain of my memories and trauma, my body physically fighting to stay alive, but my mind and my heart had little intention of making it very far through life. I used drugs, self harmed, attempted suicide, and partied my life away. I damaged my body, and my psyche, and those that I loved. I would scream and cry because I thought that I couldn’t ever be normal, or sane. I hated everyone, and I hated the idea of God. I hated it all because I so desperately wanted to be normal and undamaged. I wanted to be secure, and stable, but I had absolutely no idea how to be. I couldn’t do it on my own.
 
I fought the idea of God, and scoffed at people who believed. I deemed them stupid, and was certain that they only believed because they hadn’t been through or seen the things that I had been through and seen; and if I found out that they had, then I just assumed that they had found their crutch and that it helped them get through life. Little did I know that people would one day look at me in that exact same light.
 
This is already long, so I am going to try and summarize it to the best of my ability.
 
Since becoming a Christian my life has changed drastically. I have changed drastically. I used to be such a negative person. Always sucking the life out of fun events with my negativity, unless those fun events included drugs, booze, and other dangerous methods of trying to achieve some level of disassociation from my life. I now attribute this previous negativity to a complete lack of gratitude. I felt as though I had nothing to be grateful for. I felt as though I had been treated unfairly, and that the world was a terribly disgusting place, full of terrible and disgusting people. The latter part of that statement is true but what I didn’t understand is that I was, and am, very much one of those terrible and disgusting people.
 
I found redemption in Jesus Christ, and in God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. I found abundant gratitude, because I realized the grace and mercy that had been shown to me. You don’t know the freedom that comes along with being grateful until you have it. I realized where God had been in those moments where I didn’t see Him. Now, I am so immensely grateful for that trauma, and those tough times, because I am so immensely grateful for the relationship I have with my Lord. He turned all the rubble into gold. Something only He can do.
 
One of the things that stands out most to me, is that the boy I lost my virginity to, I have come to forgive. You may think that I don’t, but I do. My heart hurts for him because he, too, was just a child. I pray that He finds the same grace and mercy that I have found, because it is there. Because he can be forgiven in the same way that I have been forgiven. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is one of many things that I have been healed from through the power of Christ alone.
 
I’m 100% aware of the fact that the grace I have towards him can absolutely not be attributed to myself, because I know myself. I know how much I hated him. I know the changes that had to occur in my heart and mind in order for me to forgive him, and I know that those changes were not my doing, but Gods.
 
This may seem like some jibber jabber that some damaged person may spout, and I know that people will probably think “what kind of delusional person forgives their rapist?”. But I’m not delusional at all, I simply know how depraved I am. I know the atrocities that I have committed, and I know that I am no better than that poor, lost 16 year old boy was.
 
I know who I was without God, and who I am with God. I know that boy didn’t have God. I know that he needs God. I know that you need God. I know that I need God.
 
I am never able to glorify my Father in the way that He deserves. I will never be able to achieve that. I just hope that these little bits and pieces of my testimony, scattered across some random posts, will speak to someone. Please believe me when I say that I could never have become the person that I am today without God in my life. I wouldn’t be free of mental illness, and of anger and resentment towards the world. I wouldn’t be free of addiction. I wouldn’t have thriving and healthy relationships with those I love most in the world. I wouldn’t be grateful for what I have, even though this week has truly been a terrible week for me 😂 realistically speaking, I would probably be sulking in self pity if I didn’t realize how blessed I am to know the Lord.
 
I know that God has been so incredibly gracious towards me, and He has been so gracious towards all of us. I want everyone to know Him, because I know that the light in my life is HIS light. I wish I could show people what is in my heart, and my soul, and my mind, and that I could articulate the magnitude of the change.
 
Anger turned to love. Resentment turned to forgiveness. Disgust turned to empathy. Idleness turned to a desire to serve. Tears turned to laughter. Damage turned to healing. Darkness turned to light. That’s what it is. All by the grace of God, and by the grace of God alone.
 
I really, really hope that this speaks to someone. Someone who is hurting, and who feels irreparably damaged. I hope that you may allow God to work in your heart, and your life, because I truly can not emphasize enough just how much He will change everything for you. I know it, and I believe it with every fibre of my being. If you need guidance or help, please reach out. I don’t know much, but I know a lot about the grace and healing power of God. I know how present He is. I know that He desires a relationship with you more than anything.
 
May God bless you and keep you, and smile when He looks down upon you.
 
You are so unbelievably loved.

dear darian, meditation

MeditationDear Darian,**

When you are consistent in praying the rosary, you’ll experience a spiritual rhythm within the week. Tuesdays and Fridays will take on a more somber tone as they are the days we contemplate the Sorrowful Passion of our Lord. You may begin to look for ways to do penance. I’ve chosen stairs over the elevator, walked to the next bus stop, refrained from tempting snacks and things of that ilk because meditating on the sorrowful passions makes me want to participate in Jesus’ sufferings in small ways, even if it’s just giving up my desires to be on Facebook.

Meditating on the mysteries of the rosary is so powerful. (Don’t let the word “meditate” intimidate you. It’s acceptable, to call it “thinking”.)

Oftentimes I think about the day’s mysteries as I’m drinking my morning coffee and watching the sun rise, while making the bed, or showering. I can’t think of a more solidly Biblical way to regularly “think on things above”[1] than by thinking about the mysteries of the rosary.

Even though I haven’t been a Catholic for a long time, I’ve been a Christian for many years and have had years to build my praying muscles. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of strength in your praying muscles yet. If praying the rosary seems far-fetched, you can begin by just thinking about the meditations of the day. Try to engage your imagination as you think about them. You may be surprised how powerful using your imagination can be in bringing you closer to Our Lord.

Love,

Valerie

**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian."  In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts. 

[1] Colossians 3:2


grateful

Mama b4 and afterMy poor mom was a victim of COVID. Although she had asymptomatic COVID at one time during the pandemic, that isn't what I'm talking about. She was a victim of the lockdowns. She was in a facility in Northwest Arkansas where she had enjoyed regular visitors. Mama was very social and all about family. With Alzheimer's, family visits were her best medicine. But when lockdowns were implemented, no one was allowed in to see her. Fortunately, we were allowed to FaceTime with her. She could hardly understand that and sometimes it just confused her more. She cried out for family members up to 12 hours a day, and was often hoarse from the effort. She declined rapidly. 
 
By six months into lockdowns, she had fallen twice, breaking a hip each time, she had two hip surgeries, and lost 26 pounds. But still, no family was allowed into the nursing home. One night, my sister nearest to Mama's facility, Diane, got a call from a nurse saying that Mama's vitals were not good and that Mama might be dying. Since she might be dying, Diane was allowed to go be with her. (If a patient is "dying" the family is allowed to visit.) My other sister, Stacie, from North Carolina, immediately headed to Arkansas to be with Mama too. 
 
After a couple days of Mama not dying, the administration told my sisters they had to leave and my sisters challenged them. It didn't go so well and instead they transferred Mama to a hospice house so family could be with her as she died. This was great news and once Mama was at the hospice house we all got to visit. Only one visitor at a time was allowed, but if the visitor was Mama's 84-year-old twin sister, another person could be there to prevent Aunt Jill from getting overwhelmed. It was a wonderful set up. We all spent lots of quality time with Mama. 
 
She was so precious. I'll always cherish the memories. Her mind didn't miraculously return, but her soul needs were clearly being met. We talked, she caressed us, patted us, called us Darling, Sweetheart, Honey and told us how much she appreciated us. Having not been able to see her because of  lockdowns, it was such a blessing. Such a blessing!
 
Well, with all the love and familial interaction, Mama rallied and the hospice house doctor told us she had to go back to the nursing home. We were utterly devastated. She got to the point she was at, we believe, from lack of human contact, and once she got the love, touch, conversation, and compassion she needed, she vastly improved. But improvement dictated that she go back to the nursing home and she was transferred that evening. We grieved and we wept. What a messed-up system! Mama roommate
 
We frantically started thinking outside the box trying to find a way to have her with us. That first evening, my daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie and John Mark, offered to let Mama and me live there until Mama died. We were over-the-moon excited. 
 
John Mark tore down the king-sized bed in the guest room and traded it for a twin bed making room for Mama's hospital bed. The room was set for us to be roommates. We were overjoyed knowing she'd get to be surrounded by family. I was committed to staying in Arkansas for as long as it took. I looked so forward to more time like we had at the hospice house. 
 
I was giddy with thanks. Thanks for Stephanie and John Mark offering to take Mama and me in, thankful for who they are, pro-family and pro-life in every sense of the word. Though a family of 10, they didn't hesitate to take in two more. Such generous spirits, they have.
 
I was so grateful that eight of my grandchildren would get to be part of sacrificial love in action. I hoped it would make a profound impact on them to see respect and dignity given to their great grandmother. 
 
I was so grateful for Gordon who shared the conviction that it was the right thing for us to do during this season of life. Not every husband would be supportive of their wife living 2000 miles away indefinitely (until her mother died, which we'd been told would be 1-3 months). I was so grateful that he is that kind of man, pro-family and pro-life. 
 
I could not think of a greater honour than to take care of Mama during her last days on earth. What a blessing to be able to serve her and help usher her toward her heavenly home with love and compassion. But that time was way less than expected. 

affectionate love for jesus

JESUSI love worshipping the Lord in the mass. I’m so grateful that he’s put this great love in my heart. I remember well in 1995 telling him in prayer that I wasn’t sure I loved him. I knew I loved his comfort, his Word, his gifts, but I wasn’t sure I loved him. At the time, I wasn't sure what was missing, I just had a vague feeling there was something deeper, something more. I know now it was affection. 

Praise God, I’m now madly in love with him. I have so much affection for him, more than I ever knew was possible. I credit that love to praying the rosary. Contemplating the mysteries of Jesus's life on earth has drawn me into this glorious love affair with him. I can easily imagine him looking at me, looking at the crowds with pity and love, the gentleness and love in his eyes as he spoke with Mary Magdalene on the morning of his resurrection, . . .  And as I contemplate these mysteries my heart swells with more and more affection. And nothing brings me into this time of daily contemplation like the rosary.

Most likely, the grace of affectionate love for him is not just from praying the rosary, but my confirmation, the Eucharist, and confession. All are sources of great grace. I love this holy Catholic faith and I want everyone to come into it, to experience this glory, grace, and affectionate love for Jesus.


the eucharist

Recently I shared my conversion with a couple of protestant friends and they responded that they were happy for me and the joy the Catholic faith gives me. I appreciate the sentiment and their kindness, but it shows a tremendous lack of understanding of their Protestant and my Catholic theology. Our faiths, on a few levels, are incongruent. No Christian who understands their own faith should be happy when one of their own (Protestant or Catholic) moves to the other side (Protestant or Catholic), no matter how much joy it gives the mover.

Bread from heavenThe Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. The Eucharist IS Jesus. It is really, really Jesus. In John 6, Jesus says, "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." He continues, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, . . . For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

Repulsed, disciples began leaving because of his claim. He let them leave; he didn't try to persuade them to stay by saying, "Friends, I was speaking metaphorically." No, he meant exactly what he said: The bread and wine were his body and his blood. He said to the remaining disciples, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is to no avail; the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life." Here, Jesus is saying that only by the spirit can we accept this mystery. In our flesh, our reasoning and thinking abilities, we cannot accept this truth. It is a spiritual thing; one that we can only understand by the spirit. And after saying that, more disciples left. They didn't leave him because of symbolism or metaphorical language, they left because they knew he was speaking literally. If he was only speaking symbolically or metaphorically, he would have called his disciples back when they left, don't you think?

This, the Holy Eucharist, is the greatest difference between Protestantism and Catholicism. And this is the crux of what I mean when I say it's poor theological understanding for either a Protestant or Catholic being okay with one of their own going to the other side. A Protestant does not believe that the bread and wine is anything more than bread and wine; it is merely a symbol of Jesus' body and blood.

A properly catechized Catholic believes the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharistic prayer. A Catholic's purest and highest form of worship is eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. Catholics worship the consecrated bread and wine as the Real Presence of Jesus. When a Catholic leaves the Church for a Protestant church, a fellow Catholic should fear for the mover's soul because they are leaving the greatest gift Jesus gave us, his body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. 

But if it's not the body and blood of Jesus, as a Protestant believes, he should fear for the soul of a Protestant who converts to Catholicism as the new Catholic is going to be engaging in idolatry as they worship, what a Protestant believes is, a mere piece of bread. No Christian should be okay with another Christian engaging in blatant idolatry.

Again, while I appreciate the sentiments of my Protestant friends who were happy for the joy I've found in the Catholic Church, they shouldn't be. Admittedly, prior to researching the Catholic faith, I didn't know Catholics believe the communion bread and wine are the Real Presence of Jesus. Perhaps my friends do not either. But if they do know about our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine, they need to ask themselves why they reject belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; if they do not reject it, then why haven't they come into the Catholic Church, the only church that offers it; and, if they can explain why they reject it, why could they ever be happy about me finding happiness in worshipping a "wafer"? 


niece mindi eulogizes her mimi

My Mimi
Mimi pabob and mindiWe used to gather at her home every Sunday after church, with all the cousins. She made a yellow cake (usually with chocolate frosting) and would let it cool as the adults sat in the living room with coffee and talked. I remember sneaking into the kitchen over and over to scoop up a finger full of melted frosting that would drip over the edge of the Tupperware container that it rested on. Occasionally my aunt Valerie would come in to do the same and I remember thinking to myself “she is the aunt that is the most like me”.
 
She made the greatest “Mimi Burgers” of all time. The cousins decided that Mimi should open her own restaurant and call it “Mimi Burgers” or maybe “Mimi’s House” and only serve burgers and fries (which my PaBob would occasionally make in the garage in a deep fryer) and of course, a cake made from a box mix. That’s really all you’d need.
 
On these Sundays, all of the cousins would spend hours outdoors, running wild through the woods behind her home. We went on adventures which found us on the edge of the local cemetery, making up stories about how the people died. We would splash through the creek and catch frogs and tadpoles. We made up gymnastics routines on the metal play set they had installed behind her home. We would teach my PaBob’s German Shepard, Max, tricks, but they were mostly tricks he’d already been taught.
 
We caught lizards on the side of her garage for hours, always watching out for the elusive “Blue Racer” snake that my cousin Ben and brother CJ seemed to spot almost weekly before it raced off into the woods.
 
We pretended to drive my PaBob’s lawn mower, his boat, his Jeep. We rode their bicycles around the circle driveway that ran through their wooded neighborhood. We carried each other around the house in a wheelbarrow, creating elaborate obstacle courses. Every Easter egg hunt was there. Every piñata. Every birthday celebration.
 
When it was rainy, we would pile into the back bedroom, (usually no less than 7 of us, but more often up to 13 grandkids at once) and try to find Nickelodeon on a box tv the size of a small car. We would take turns playing hide and seek, which was tricky in a room with one small closet, a pull-out couch, a velvet blue recliner and lamp, and, again, a Kia sized television.
 
We began hiding within the pull-out couch, often hiding 2 cousins on the bed and then folding it up and sitting on the couch to prove that Randall and CJ couldn’t possibly be hiding in there.
 
We spent our time jumping on Mimi’s personal trampoline, and using her assortment of mail ordered workout equipment. A thighmaster, handweights, a sit-ups assistant. It was like Christmas when we walked in to find an exercise bike, to be replaced years later by a rowing machine. We spent every Sunday “getting buff”.
 
On the rare occasion when we needed adult attention, we’d parade through the living room to make the adults laugh. We knew we needed a gimmick, they wouldn’t let us just sit there and listen as they updated each other about their weeks. Some days we’d organize a talent show.
 
My brother CJ would start it off with a full rendition of Ray Stevens “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”. Amy and Stephanie might follow shortly with an impersonation of Mimi, on a drive to Wal-Mart. My cousins Ben & Randall were always good for a funny skit, or a song on the piano. I once bought a joke book for my stand up act that would follow.
 
My oldest cousin, Jeff, figured it out early. He’d eat lunch and then “nap” under the piano bench. He was privy to so much more information than the rest of us, because when we’d get shooed outside, we were told to leave quietly, not to wake up poor Jeff.
 
When we WERE allowed in the living room with the adults, they would often switch to pig Latin to discuss private matters. “Hey Michael, did you see that dress that Ane-Ja Oe-Da was earing-wa at urch-cha oday-Ta? Who was she dressing up for, do ya think?”
 
We were a fast study and cracked their code in an hour. Even faster than when they would just spell the code words when we were younger.
 
My Mimi hosted every Christmas for years, even getting a Santa Claus to burst in through the mud room with a sack of gifts for us kids. She’d write us $15 checks on our birthdays. As our numbers grew, the checks got smaller, until Mimi’s gift was just a real good hug. 😂 She would hire me to clean her house (which mostly consisted of running a manual vacuum over the carpet and using lemon pledge on every wooden surface of her home. She rode motorcycles with PaBob to a prison ministry where she showed such loving kindness to the inmates there. I told kids at school that my grandma was a biker that went to prison every week...
 
She volunteered to lead a section of children at Tuesday night AWANA’s at her church. She quit smoking when she found her granddaughters “smoking” pencils and pretending to be Mimi. When we’d sleep at her house, we would be terrified when we got too loud and she’d burst into the room, without her dentures, wearing a silk nightgown, to tell us “Y’all settle down now, and I mean it!” We ate Corn Flakes and Special K at breakfast when we’d sleep at her house.
 
She slept on a waterbed. She owned a gun and showed us the high cabinet it was kept in and threatened our very lives if we ever got into that cabinet. She taught herself and then me, to knit and crochet and when her Alzheimer’s got worse, she began to crochet for hours at a time, stacking the blankets in a cabinet until Christmas when she would pass them out in big bundles by family member. She fell for every pyramid scheme at least once. She was determined to be technologically savvy up until her Alzheimer’s got bad enough that she couldn’t remember any of her login info. She taught me how to properly set a table and she always used cloth napkins with wooden napkin rings. When I was very young, I would sneak into her purse to find cherry chapstick and use every bit of it in one sitting. She never got mad at me. She smelled like Cherry Almond Jergen’s lotion. She loved having her feet rubbed. She ALWAYS saved room for dessert.
 
She was the most sparkling conversationalist. She always spoke with so much grace and understanding, that you couldn’t help but pour your thoughts and feelings out to her in a one-on-one conversation. She taught me the importance of good posture, writing things down, reading, speed walking, coffee with dessert, memorizing Scripture, and never using profanity, unless it enhanced the conversation, because it’s like over-salting food. Just a sprinkle when necessary.
 
She never once saw me without telling me how much I looked like her. She never once saw me without hugging me and telling me she missed me. She called people “Hon” and “Shug” and never once let you leave her house without saying “Well now, don’t run off. Why don’t y’all sit down and stay awhile?”
Before she was put in a nursing home, she was speaking to my Aunt Stacie over the phone. Somehow my name came up and my Mimi, puzzled, slowly asked...”now Mindi....she’s one of mine, right?” The fact that she thought I was one of her daughters nearly made my heart burst right open and I hope that she never ever thought otherwise until her last breath.
 
She was my last living biological grandparent, and she passed away on September 5, 2020.

mama's obituary

Geral "Jeri" Dean Funderburk

February 3, 1936 - September 5, 2020

Mama yellow sweatshirtGeral Dean "Jeri" Funderburk, age 84, of Mena, Arkansas, died Saturday, September 5, 2020, surrounded by family. She was born, February 3, 1936 to Philip Anderson and Elsie Lannie Keen Piearcy in Hugo, Oklahoma.

Jeri was a committed Christian who modeled a love for the Word of God, a life of prayer, an ease of laughter and a great sense of humor to her offspring. Throughout her years of declining health, she continued to model prayer as her default. Even as her words became twisted and incoherent this past year due to Alzheimer's, she continued to call out to God in prayer. Her family takes comfort knowing that the words that reached her Father in Heaven, were not twisted to His ears, rather perfectly sound.

The love for her family guided her life and filled it with happiness. In her younger days she enjoyed gardening, long walks, sewing, crocheting, motorcycling, prison ministry, traveling, and volunteering in Awana's, a ministry to disciple children and young people. Jeri was very proud of her family and cherished every moment she had with them. She will be dearly missed, especially by Bob - her husband whom she loved so dearly - and her children who were her pride and joy.

She is preceded in death by her parents; one daughter, Debbie Callahan; three brothers, Philip Piearcy, Bob Piearcy and David Piearcy, and one sister, Cleta Rose.

Jeri is survived by her loving husband, Bob Funderburk of Mena; four children and their spouses: Diane and Steve Schultz of West Fork, Arkansas, Michael and Lawana Callahan of Hatfield, Arkansas, Stacie and Jimmy Pineda of Boone, North Carolina and Valerie and Gordon Dykstra of Alberta, Canada; one brother, Jackie Piearcy of Ola, Arkansas, her identical twin and life-long best friend, Vernie "Jill" Smith of Mena; sixteen grandchildren; thirty three great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

Due to vulnerable family members and a large family, the family regrets that Covid 19 restricts the service to family only. A graveside funeral service will be held on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, at 10:00 A.M. at Gann Cemetery in Potter, where she will lay beside her Darling Deborah Jean. Arrangements are entrusted to Bowser Family Funeral Home in Mena.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Grace Bible Church Awana Club, 1911 Highway 71 North, Mena, Arkansas 71953.

Pallbearers will be Jeff Shreve, Christopher Rose, Melody Pineda, Amy Hernandez, Elliott Shreve and Christian Shreve.


i'll miss her dearly

Mama red sweatshirtMy beautiful mom. I will miss her warmth, humour, and unconditional love. I believe in the “communion of the saints” and that we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” In that way, she’ll be closer to me than ever before.
 
When Mama went into the nursing home, I was privileged to go through her most personal prayer journals and diaries. In those, she had written her deepest, darkest secrets. I was privy to her most saintly and least saintly thoughts. I learned of her greatest regrets (sins) and I learned of the serious sins that she wrestled with, and those that nearly snagged her.
 
When I was younger, knowing she fought those temptations would have sickened me. But now, more seasoned in understanding human nature and profoundly aware of the darkness in my own soul, it did nothing but make me respect her more. She fought the temptations and she beat them. Mama has gone to her reward. She fought the spiritual fight and won.
 
Her greatest gifts to me were a love for the word of God, a love for prayer (conversing with my Lord), and a great appreciation for laughter. I am blessed.

stephanie eulogizes mimi

This is by my oldest child, Stephanie.

Mimi.
Mom and stephIt has only been since becoming an adult that I’ve realized that my childhood wasn’t normal, that the role my grandmothers played in my life was extraordinary and few people have the privilege of having the experiences that are so precious to me.
 
It was a normal weekly occurrence that all my mom's siblings and ALL my cousins would pack my Mimi’s house. After church on Sunday was a given but it wasn’t uncommon to be over there other days of the week as well.
 
Walking into her house the air would be thick with haze from smoke off the large griddle in the kitchen where she was making her “signature” Mimi burgers. Tony Chachere and lots of pepper were the secret ingredients but I swear I’ve never been able to recreate so...I think she may have had a “secret” secret.
 
Regardless.....delicious! She had a cabinet devoted to yellow cake mix and chocolate frosting so that was our staple meal at Mimi's, Mimi burgers and yellow box cake with chocolate frosting.
 
I was staying with her when my grandpa died and I can remember finding out in a room full of people. Pabob didn’t know I was there when he came in and said my grandpa had died and Mimi rocked me the rest of the evening.
 
She loved her rocking chair.
 
Also, my love for coffee came straight out of that house. She always had coffee ready to offer anyone who may stop by. In fact the the gurgle and popping of the coffee percolator (always a percolator) was the soundtrack of her house. I love that sound!
 
Laughter, she laughed all the time. I have a terrible issue with laughing at inappropriate times. I’ve always blamed it on nerves...ha, but I’ve been thinking about Mimi and I actually think that’s all her. She could laugh at all times and when things felt awkward or someone was telling a story it didn’t matter what was happening there was always something to laugh about. I remember when I was pregnant with Roman, my first baby, she was telling me of the horrors of childbirth (I think we were specifically talking about her delivery of my aunt Stacie) and I guess I grimaced at a particular description and we laughed the rest of the day. Maybe save the horror stories for when someone isn’t pregnant with her first.
 
That leads me to babies, she LOVED babies! Each baby was always the best, the most beautiful, the most precious baby she had ever seen. Babies were treasures and she never met one she wasn’t instantly in love with. Also, they all looked like someone in her family. I believe it because those genes are strong ones.
 
Things got hard in our family for a while and talking about things was hard but we found our way and she became someone I confided in, I know those times were hard for her, but I found comfort there talking to her. Always at the end, when it would get quiet for a minute, she would always say, “I love you, Shug,” I always knew that!
 
The last visit I had with Mimi in the memory care unit, before Covid, I took Remington (2 at the time) and he was her pride. She told everyone he was hers. All the ladies loved him as he walked around and shared a bag of goldfish with everyone there. Every time I looked at Mimi she was beaming.
Remington gave Mimi his hat and she wore it proudly the rest of our visit.
 
Honor is taking care of those who have taken care of you. That’s what I feel. Honor and so privileged that she was here in my home. I’m sad that her time with us was so short, I expected weeks at least, but I also believe that she felt like she was home with people she loved and once her twin sister arrived she was ready and left us peacefully. I will be eternally grateful that she was here with us. That time, although short, was precious and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for Jesus and the hope we have in Him. I’m thankful that we have knowledge that this isn’t goodbye but see you later.
 
We’ll see you soon, Mimi.

misty eulogizes her mimi

Mama left a legacy. My niece Misty wrote about some of it:

Mom and mistyWhen I was a little girl, I would often ask my mom why we believed what we believed and what different parts of the Bible meant. I was always amazed at how she would walk me through Greek and Hebrew roots and the historical context as she walked me through it all. One day I asked her how she knew all of that and she told me that her mom helped her and always taught her to seek truth and understanding.
 
Today we celebrate that legacy as we mark my grandmother’s passing. Mimi’s house was an iconic feature of my childhood. My aunts and uncles would gather on the weekend and share life. It was there I learned the value of laughter, the joy of family, the power of a well-told story, and the importance of the Word of God. She took us to Awanas and paid our dues so we could learn the Bible. She taught us old time hymns when she realized our progressive church left us without that knowledge.
 
I conducted a series of interviews with her in college to understand how her identity was shaped in her youth. I grew proud as I listened to her share a journey that didn’t stagnate as she grew older. Even after her retirement, she engaged in a process of transformation. It was a source of pride that I always shared with my kids. One of the many legacies she gave us was her never-ending quest for personal growth and her search for truth.
 
As her mind deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s over the last ten years, she lost her short, then long-term memory. Sometimes when we visited it was clear that this lack of context naturally resulted in a level of fear. Even as her mental capacity failed her, she would quote the Bible and ask us to pray with her. Even as her mind and body declined, her spirit held strong. Of all of the legacies she gave us, that spiritual strength is the one I cherish most. I’m so grateful for her life, her love, her joy, her strength, and her faith.
 

hannah's wisdom

Nothing is as satisfying at seeing your adult children growing in love for Jesus, their Catholic faith, and wisdom. Today I want to share what my daughter, Hannah, just shared on Facebook. She is well spoken, bright, and articulate, but it's the wisdom that makes me smile.

She writes: Flora dawn

This is my daughter, Flora 💐 She is our third child and is already an absolutely delight. Right now she is just over 7 weeks old (on the left is a picture of her today). Just a few weeks ago she was brand new, as weak as you can imagine after being suspended and sustained for nine months in the womb. She was born a few days before her due date and was a little on the light side, weighing 7lbs and 4oz. My oldest, Holly, was 7lbs 11oz and one time, someone even asked me if she was premature! That's just ignorance, but the point is that babies are startlingly small...
 
Here in Canada, a baby can be aborted up until the moment of birth. We have no abortion legislation. Flora, as well as both of my other kids and many others, were born before their due date. Depending on who you talk to, they may or may not have been people before then. There is no decent or remotely scientific reason why babies like mine are not considered babies, or even human beings, while they are still in the womb. Most people in this country will tout a "woman's right to choose" -- a sterile euphemism for killing a fetus pre-term. What other choices do we have? We all have choices. Every criminal in prison chose to commit a crime. Humans have always had the capacity to make choices, even if those choices are evil. The question is not whether or not women have a choice, because they have always had a choice. But do women have a right? When does another person ever have the right to do something evil just because they have the ability to do it? Having the capacity to kill a fetus in the womb does not translate into the right to do it. Does a criminal have a right to kill someone because they hate them, or do they just have the choice? The answer is obvious. Killing is a choice, not a right.
 
My newest daughter was herself from the moment she was conceived. Her DNA was her own and she has never been my property because human beings are not property. Her own personal DNA rendered her an inalienable right to life since before she was born. She belongs to me only insofar as I have a responsibility to raise her, love her, and educate her. She was truly herself from that very moment of conception. Flora was never just an extension of me or of my body, she was herself: precious, independent, and valuable because she is her own person. Her personhood is as inherent as her DNA and it was there since the beginning.

dear darian, the rosary

Rosary beadsDear Darian,**

Our imaginations are powerful and can be prayerful even if we aren’t engaging in prayer in a formal way. We may not say “Dear God” or “Hail Mary” but as we think of the mysteries of the rosary, we may be deep in prayer. If the rosary intimidates you in any way, know that you can begin simply by thinking about (meditating) on the mysteries. Allow your imagination to run wild. Be present with Jesus and Mary in the scenes. Imagine Mary taking you by the hand like a child and allowing you to see the scene through her eyes. What do you see? What is God seeing? What is Jesus thinking, feeling? What are the smells, weather, sounds? Who are you with? Who else is there? Try to look at the mysteries through the perspectives of those present. Allow all your senses to be involved.

By God’s grace and mercy, this was an area that came easily for me. I read a few simple instructions on how to pray the rosary and my imagination took off. Through imagining myself in the scenes of the mysteries, I learned to gaze on the face of Jesus every day. And that practice, better than anything else, made me fall madly in love with him. Through the rosary, that love continues to grow.

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was a Spanish priest and the founder of the Jesuits. His imagination drove his spiritual life and eventually, imaginative prayer became associated with Ignatian spirituality.  Perhaps employing your imagination as you visit the scenes of the mysteries, like St Ignatius taught, will help Jesus become more personal to you. 

Allowing my imagination to be fully engaged has certainly been a tool God has used to help me fall in love with Jesus. I hope something similar for you. Our experiences will be vastly different, I’m sure, but I look forward to our conversations on how the rosary is changing us and leading us into deeper love with our Lord.

Love,

Valerie

**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian."  In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts. 


happy birthday, hannah

Han collageHappy birthday to our Hannah Kathleen. She was a delightful-beyond-compare child, and thinking about her childhood floods my soul with sweetness. She was - and still is - articulate, compassionate, and a thoughtful, deep thinker. She had a noticeable piety, even as a child, knowing spiritual things mattered. That awareness seemed to go dormant for a number of years, but it returned with a studiousness that is rare. Even in her childhood, I used the phrase “still waters run deep” when describing her.
 
Her life still exemplifies that depth; depth of character, conviction, and purpose. She was named Hannah Kathleen after “Mrs. Hannah” (that’s what we called Samuel’s mother from the Bible) and Catherine Marshall, a godly woman whose spiritual writings greatly influenced me. Hannah has honoured her namesakes well. She is a praying woman, and a godly wife and mother just like “Mrs Hannah” in the Bible. And, I feel sure if Catherine Marshall were to meet my Hannah Kathleen, she’d be most honoured to have played a role in Hannah’s story.
 
My heart overflows with thanksgiving for Hannah, Darian, and their kiddos. Our world needs more families with their convictions and values.

pius-vasyl assumptio

PiusMy cup runneth over with goodness.

Rachael and Kyle had their baby last night. Meet Pius-Vasyl Assumptio Wirachowsky. I don’t think he could have a more Catholic Ukrainian name had they tried. Pius is after Popes Pius the 10th and 12th, godly popes they admire. Vasyl is after a Ukrainian priest martyred for his faith. Assumptio is for Mother Mary as August contains the feast day of her assumption. Welcome to our world Lil’ Pius. I think we’ll celebrate tonight by having perogies and sausages for supper.


dear darian, confession

ConfessionDear Darian,**

When I was a Protestant, I didn’t loathe my sin like I do now. I thought it was impossible to be without sin. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s easy, but I will say the goal to be sinless is solidly in place. Now, there are short periods when, to the best of my knowledge, I have no unconfessed sin. (Jeremiah tells us our hearts are deceitful,[1] that’s why I added the caveat “to the best of my knowledge”. Also, please note I said, “short periods.”)

Before my conversion to Catholicism, sainthood wasn’t a goal. I saw all believers as saints, although I could hardly imagine how I in my sin and others in theirs, could be saints. But now, I ask God daily to help me avoid sin and grow in virtue, to help me be a saint.

Awareness and conviction of sin is a special grace we’re given in the sacrament of reconciliation. I go to confession a couple times a month. I don’t often have mortal sin to confess, but I want to confess and receive reconciliation often. When a person brushes their teeth twice a day, they recognize the grit and grime of their teeth far better than someone who is haphazard with their dental hygiene. The sacrament of reconciliation is our spiritual hygiene. The better my spiritual hygiene, the more in tune I am to the grit and grime of sin and the more I love the experience of being spiritually clean.

As I confess my sin, my resolve is strengthened to “beat my body into subjection”[2] in that area of sin. Sometimes this works and other times the sins are so deeply a part of who I am that it’s pure grace that gives every ounce of victory. Perhaps my desire and resolve to overcome sin is what God’s grace in the sacrament looks like. James tells us to confess our sins and we will be healed.[3] Our sin is like a cancer and as we confess it, its evil talons are loosened. Some sins that were a problem in my past are no longer a problem because I’m dead-set against having to humiliate myself by having to confess them aloud. (Do you see the pride there? Funny how God draws straight lines with crooked sticks, eh?)

In my experience, one of the graces in the sacrament of reconciliation is the change of heart, the desire not to participate or engage in that sin. Because of confession, I become more aware of sins’ presence and influence in my life. Confession fine tunes my awareness of sin. The more often I go, the more aware I become of sin. My confessions use to be actions I’d done. Now it seems I confess a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle attitudes and thoughts. This is the fine-tuning of the heart.

After confession I ask God to help me be aware of sin and He does. Those hours that I’m free from unconfessed sin are wonderful. And again, by God’s grace, those periods are slowly growing longer. That’s more of the grace of the sacrament.

It’s none of my business what your confession habits are, but I’d sure hate for you to be missing out on this powerful sacrament and the graces it unleashes in our lives.

I’m thinking and praying for you today, Darian.

Love,

Valerie

**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian."  In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts. 

 

[1] Jeremiah 17:9

[2] 1 Corinthians 9:27

[3] James 5:16


deborah shares some of her story

My Deborah writing about her journey. I'm so thankful. She writes:
 
Debs on drugsI’m coming up on two years clean and sober, and I just wanted to take a moment to glorify God and all that He has done in my life. He held out for me, and showed me the love that I had been searching for throughout those many years of my life. As many of you know, I struggled with drugs and mental illness all throughout my youth. There was scarcely a time between the ages of 11-19 that my life was not at risk. I had very little regard for my safety, and absolutely no concept of my own, God-given, value. I was trying, in all the wrong ways, to cope with trauma and to get through each and every day by the skin on my teeth. I committed grievous sins, and lived my life for the enemy with very little knowledge of the fact that I was doing so. Debs not on drugs
 
I held a lot of hate in my heart, and I resented God. Always funny how that works hey? I didn’t believe in God, but I hated him. Anyways, God never left my side. Through all my anger, and hurt, and disregard, He never left me. I am here now alive and well, with a beautiful son, a roof over my head, food in my cupboards, and no struggle with addiction or mental illness. You know how we often talk about being bathed in the Holy Spirit? I do believe that my life is a testament to that. My soul was made new, and I was given a new identity in Christ. Though very undeserving, the Lord showered me with His Grace and Mercy and Love. I am so very thankful, and my life belongs entirely to Him.

dear darian, guardian angel

Dear Darian,**

Guardian angelDid you know that guardian angels aren’t simply a thing of lore? They really exist and we all have one. Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”[1]

Recently I was meditating on this and wondering what my angel is like. It would be so cool to have a relationship with him since he is always with me. As I thought about him, I realized with amazement that he knows me better than I know myself. He’s been with me from the very beginning. He remembers when I was born and my babyhood. He knows everything he has spared me from – something I’m not privy to – protected me from and allowed me to experience for my good. He knows my sins and my merits. He knows me beyond well. Isn’t that interesting?

I wonder if he waits with bated breath when the Holy Spirit prompts me to do something to see if I’ll give my yes. It’s a thought.

I’ve heard of people who experience communion with their angel. I never have, but I’d like to and I don’t see any harm in asking to know him. What about you? Does that interest you?

Love,

Valerie

**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian."  In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts. 

 

[1] Matthew 18:10


happy birthday, deborah

Debs and atlasHappy birthday to our beautiful daughter, Deborah Elizabeth. She is 21 today.

She was the sweetest child who gave us nothing but delight. Then adolescent years hit and she went off the rails so bad we didn’t know if she’d survive - and I’m speaking very literally. God be praised, He sent her little Atlas. We were so scared, afraid of how the drama would play out. God used Atlas so powerfully. She got clean and sober and began the work of putting her life together. Now we once again have the incredible Deborah back. She is strong, stronger than we ever knew she could be, funny, a devoted mother, a student of the Bible, a leader, generous, empathetic beyond compare, and just generally a most delightful soul.

I’m so thankful she survived. My world would be radically less bright without her in it. Thank you, Jesus. Happy birthday to my darling Deborah.


dear darian, humility

Dear Darian,**

As I meditate on the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, I’m often struck by how each mystery has a strong current of humility. Everyone represented in the mysteries is humble. Mary, of course, is the humblest of souls. In her Magnificat she proclaims her low estate, her low degree, and her neediness. Elizabeth proclaims, “who am I that the mother of the Lord would visit me?”. Joseph accepts Mary even though he may have known he’d forever be in her shadow. Aged Simeon and Anna desire to see Israel’s Messiah even though they’re near death and probably won’t experience their nation’s improved status. The shepherds were among the lowest ranking in society, yet the heavenly host appeared to them, not to the religious or well-taught Mother teresa

One would be hard-pressed to find a saint who wasn’t humble. Pride and sainthood are mutually exclusive. They don’t reside together.

Mother Teresa said, “Humility is the mother of all virtue . . . It’s in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint, you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” She even had a “humility list” for her order, the Sisters of Charity:

  1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
  2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
  3. Avoid curiosity.
  4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
  6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
  8. Give in to the will of others.
  9. Accept insults and injuries.
  10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
  11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
  13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
  14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
  15. Choose always the more difficult task.

That list drives home just how badly I need to grow in humility.

Consider Jesus: He chose to be born poor. He could have chosen to make Mary and Joseph wealthy prior to the annunciation, but he didn’t. He chose a humble earthly life. Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.”[1] Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”[2] 

How do we humble ourselves?

Both Old and New Testaments are replete with encouragement to choose humility. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord.[3] …. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted"[4] “Humbles himself,”- it begs the question, how does one humble himself.

Sainthood can only grow in a humble person. Holiness and pride are diametrically opposed. To be holy as Jesus wants us to be, we need to choose acts of humility and graciously accept humiliations. Like a muscle, the more we practice humility by choosing acts of humility and accepting humiliations, the stronger our humility will become. But the paradox of humility is we will never know when we have it.

When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me a card that said, “Humility is the strange possession that you lose the moment you find out you’ve got it.” Like Jesus – who emptied himself – we can practice emptying ourselves. We can empty ourselves by embracing any item on Mother Teresa’s humility list. Practically, that could be saying, “Today I will speak as little about myself as possible.” Or, “Today when a slight is directed toward me, I won’t respond.” Or, “I’m not going to argue, even if I know I’m right.”

Ironically, sometimes it’s pride that drives the desire to get rid of pride. Really, when you think about it, aren’t the proudest people the hardest to be around? Isn’t it pride that says, “Who wants to be like him?” Pride is a tricky thing and it inserts itself into everything. We always need to be on our guard against it. While on this earth, we will have to battle pride. But to become who we were created to become, we must not abandon the fight.

Love,

Valerie

**My dear son-in-law, Darian, was the first person I sponsored into the Catholic Church. He was the first in my family to see the Truth I saw. I wanted to help him along the way and started a book called, "Dear Darian."  In it I wrote about things I was learning, especially things I was learning through praying the rosary, hoping it would help him on his journey too. Well, Darian's spiritual life was on steroids and my little essays didn't seem needed as he was reading much greater minds than mine. So, my "Dear Darian," has instead become blog posts. 

 

[1] Philippians 2:6

[2] Philippians

[3] Psalm

[4] Matthew 23: 11-12


easter morn

RisenHe is risen indeed. He is the great and glorious redeemer. He is the greatest joy and love in my life. He is not an imaginary friend. There are numerous historical proofs of his existence, that he was indeed crucified and rose from the dead. If I am wrong, what have I lost? If I am right and you view him as unimportant, you have lost the greatest blessing in this life and will gain an horrible afterlife. Please look into the historical proofs of his existence. He is a great source of love, joy and peace. Jesus, I trust in You.


no regrets

Stephs famThirty-five years ago today a little bundle just over 8 ½ pounds gushed into my world. My life was changed forever. I was only 19 and had spent nine long months hating my life. Pregnancy was the last thing I wanted, and I was convinced I’d ruined my life. In early pregnancy the thought of an abortion comforted; I imagined it a solution. I received a poem from someone – who knew nothing of my situation – and one of the lines of the poem was “I want this day to bring good, not evil.” Somehow, even though I had a hard heart and a thorough hatred for my situation, that line spoke to me and I knew I couldn’t abort her. I still loathed my circumstances and spent the remainder of the pregnancy hoping for a miscarriage. When a miscarriage didn’t come, I hoped for a stillbirth. The darkness in my soul was profound and had I had the courage, I would have committed suicide. There was not a fiber in my being that wanted to be a mom.

Imagine my shock when they laid that squirming warm body on me and I was immediately head-over-hills in love. I still had more emotional issues than I could shake a stick at, but one thing was certain: I was madly in love. I had no words to articulate my thoughts, but I knew I wanted something better for Stephanie than I presently had to offer. I know now that those thoughts were a prayer. God took those thoughts – which I couldn’t even unravel into words – and drew me to Him. I didn’t have a clue how to start, but that’s when my journey to God began. Since that day 35 years ago, my journey with God has sustained me through everything. I’ve committed horrible, grievous sins, but God has never shaken me off. Journeying with Him is what gives my life meaning. Abortion crisis

So today, when normally I’d want to wish my sweet baby Stephanie a simple Happy Birthday, I wanted to share something a little deeper. My crisis 35 years ago turned into the greatest watershed moment of my life. It turned into one of the greatest blessings and sources of joy in my life.

For those who have had an abortion, I do not judge you. I say everything I’m saying not to condemn those who’ve had abortions, but rather to extend hope to those who find themselves in that situation now or in the future. Because of Stephanie, the topic of abortion is personal. Where would I be without her? She changed the trajectory of my life. I cannot imagine this world without her; the good she’s done, the life she’s chosen, the lives she’s touched . . . My crisis passed and nobody had to die. If you find yourself in a crisis, please know, it will pass. It may be excruciatingly difficult, but no one needs to die. Choose life.

Happy birthday, my darling Stephanie. Thank you for letting me share a bit of our story. I love you.


debs on abortion

My daughter Deborah has been through a lot. Here’s a piece of her story. I’m so incredibly thankful she chose life for our little Atlas and that she didn’t heed all the advice to get an abortion. Our lives will never be the same again; we adore Atlas.
 
Written by my daughter, Deborah:
 
Atlas 7moYou know, after years of being an abortion advocate (regrettably) I finally sat myself down, away from the crowd I was following, and did some in depth research on abortion. I have watched the debates, I have watched Planned Parenthood lie repeatedly to appeal to the eyes of its audience, and I can safely say that there is not a single argument in defense of abortion that cannot be refuted. So I recommend to anyone who believes that abortion is "empowering" to rethink your beliefs because it is ultimately setting us back whilst committing mass genocide. The dismemberment and starvation of humans at ANY stage of development is morally and ethically wrong. And to instigate such a radical attack on our own species in the name of empowerment is absolutely ridiculous. I read a post recently that said "telling women that they need to employ their "right to choose" in order to have a successful career is the opposite of empowering", and I could not have said it better. I make this post because I know that many people on my page are pro abortion or pro choice, I know this because I have had many conversations raving about how it is "only my right". I can give you dozens of reasons as to why this "right" will contribute to the collapse of any civil society that we have.
 
This is my son who would have been starved of his nutrients or ripped apart had I decided that it was within my rights. Luckily, Grace saved him as I was already 8 weeks pregnant when I called the abortion clinic and they told me I would have to get an invasive surgical procedure done. I couldn't go through with that. People said it was within my best interest to abort, even called me an idiot for choosing to keep him, but it was the smartest thing I've ever done and not only was it definitely NOT in my best interest to abort, but more importantly it wasn't in his. And it is our responsibility to care for and protect the innocent and helpless.

2019 review of goals

GoalsHere are my goals at the beginning of the year followed by the status at year end.

2019

  • Yip, Yip published - Yip, Yip was published and Hannah (who is Patty in the book) said it was probably the best present she ever received.
  • Spend prayer time every month on specific people (January: Sandy; February: Paul; etc) - I was faithful until I lost my job in April. Most of the prayer focuses of the month were work colleagues and once I know longer interacted with them daily, I forgot to pray for them. 
  • Eat low carb and no whites - Did pretty well.
  • Pay credit line down to $5000 - Success
  • Almost finish Bachelors Degree, maintain a 4.0 GPA - I slipped in my GPA; 3.94.
  • Focus on growth in fortitude, patience, and temperance - Praise God, I'm growing, but I'm still quite rooted in being an impatient, gluttonous coward. But less so then at the beginning of the year.
  • Finish Bible Timeline study at church - Success.
  • Read more in the evening and Facebook less - Still a struggle, but striving still.
  • Keep 3:00 prayer break - Did well until I lost my job in April, and then the "break" wasn't a part of life. 
  • No snacks between meals at work - Success
  • Park at Mall instead of at work so I get more walking in every day - Success while I was working.
  • Spiritual reading at noon - Success while I was working
  • Embrace femininity more, for example, wear dress pants to Mass. - Success
  • Keep Tuesday adoration habit - Success while I was working. The habit was that I would go directly to church after work and pray until church started at 7:00. Once I wasn't working anymore, I quit going to the church early.
  • Things I was believing in faith would happen in 2018, but didn't, I carried over to 2019:     
  • 1. more crypto seed money - had a bit of success
  • 2. D repent and turn to righteousness - not yet
  • 3. G come into the Church - not yet
  • 4. H take faith seriously - Praise God, she's all in!!
  • 5. S & J into Catholic Church - not yet           

thursday thirteen, arkansas sweetness

Here are a few of the funnies or sweet things from this last trip to Arkansas: Beppie blankets

  1. Once Riley was yelling at me incessantly, but I was distracted in conversation with someone else. Roman got my attention and said, "Beppie, I may be mistaken, but I think Riley wants you."
  2. Remington calls me "Buppy."
  3. Ella wants me to call her Isabella.
  4. Isabella made me cards, welcome banners, and a mug that says, "I love Beppie."
  5. Sydney told me I was a retired tooth fairy
  6. Roman said, "I don’t mean to be cocky, but I kind of consider myself a higher power in this family."
  7. Avery wants me to call her by her full name, Avery Claire.
  8. Landon loves when I tell him how much I love his dimples.
  9. Sydney, who's uncomfortable with affection, lets me hug her. 
  10. On my first day there, at 4:30 when the kids got home from school, I couldn't stop giggling at Stephanie's life. It was absolute chaos. Absolute chaos. Eight children, all hungry, all wanting to tell about their day, and all with backpacks on the kitchen island. I still giggle recalling my initiation into the chaos. Five minutes earlier the house was clean and tidy and then it was like a small bomb exploded. 
  11. Beckem is so gentle and soft spoken. But always smiling and nearly always shirtless.
  12. Christopher's wolf dog, Akeira, came to visit Stephanie's already densely populated home. Akeira was wet and shook off in the house. The dogs started fighting and while Stephanie was trying to get them outside she slipped in the water Akeira had shaken off. It was another moment of intense chaos where I got the awkward giggles.
  13. One of my highlights of this trip was making every child a tie blanket. It started out as my making a blanket with Avery. As we made it she told me she'd like one too. I started making her one the next day, and another child expressed interest. When it was all said and done, each child had a new tie blanket from Beppie. 

lily sweetness

Lily, my goodness, how I love this girl. We're moving back to Alberta and I swear my only reservation about it is leaving her. Lilyb
Thinking about leaving her makes me queasy and sad.

In April I was laid off at work and that has worked wonderfully because I've been able to keep Lily. My last summer on the Sunshine Coast and we are making lots of memories. I'm thankful for this time.

This post is to remember some of her sweetness.

  1. I have a small pink washcloth that was a gift from one of our Japanese exchange students. It's Lily's favorite. She asked if she could have it when I die.
  2. Mike, her dad, accidently spun out of the driveway one day when he dropped her off. She said, "That's the spirit, Dad."
  3. When taking her to Mandy's house for the first weekend after Buddy's birth, she told me to call her if anything went wrong with Buddy.
  4. I bought her a dress that she calls her "special dress." She wants to wear it to special places; the West Sechelt Elementary Carnival, Strong Start preschool days, Buddy's birth, and church.
  5. Soon after Buddy was home from the hospital, I asked if she wanted to hold him. She shyly nodded no and said she was afraid she'd hurt him. "Remember that time I broke that cup?"
  6. One day as we were driving past a bus she said, "I'm glad one of my grandpas is the boss of the buses." That, of course, would be Gordon she's referring to.
  7. One day she was studying my hand with its wrinkly skin, and said, "You're old enough to die, aren't you?"
  8. When she goes to church with me, her genuflect is a curtsy. 

lynnwood court

IMG_1004
IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 IMG_1004 After 4 1/2 years on the Sunshine Coast, we are heading back to Alberta. This time we're going to the southeast corner of the province, where we've never lived. I'm excited. Alberta got in my bones and I never knew it. I LOVE Alberta. 

British Columbia is very beautiful, but it's not the kind of beauty where I feel most at home. Of course, I couldn't have known that, much less articulated, had I not lived there.

In BC, things are wild and untamed. Our backyard was so extraordinarily beautiful, but bamboo might shoot up overnight. We had to stay right on top of it or it would quickly get out of control. 

Alberta is tidy and tame in comparison. While living in BC, I learned how much I appreciate tidy and clean. Straight roads, open spaces, nice flat yards, long drives, prairies, and perhaps more than anything, the Alberta culture. It's very different from BC culture. I fit much better in Alberta's culture. Someday I will try to unpack that. Right now it's just something I know. I haven't unpacked what it means exactly.

We have a beautiful home here. It's the view that sold us on it though. Gordon so loves the view. I love it too, but I think Gordon loves it more. Soon after we moved here, I'd always smile driving home seeing the ocean so beautifully below us. It felt like a fairy tale in the beginning.

Rachael and Hannah left the Coast less than a year after we moved there as there wasn't much there for them. Once they left, and especially when Hannah and Darian started their family, Alberta seemed to be calling us.

Gordon set his sights on a job in SE Alberta and eventually got it. He leaves in August to begin work there. I will stay here until this house sells. It's another part of this journey of life. I'm happy to be going back to Alberta, but I'm thankful for our short time in BC. It's been an adventure and much good came out of it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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happy birthday, rachael

RachaelToday is Rachael Christine's 24th birthday. How she delights my soul!!

When we learned we were expecting Rachael, I was not in a good emotional place. Getting pregnant seemed like the least logical thing in the world and it definitely was not something we would have chosen. God saw things differently.

Shortly after learning I was pregnant, I read in Psalm 30, "You have turned my mourning into dancing." Rachael's life infused my sorrowing heart with joy. I'm so thankful for God's kindness in doing that. To this day, 24 years later, I cannot read that verse, "you turned my mourning into dancing," without thinking of my sweet Rachael. God used her so powerfully to restore my joy and purpose. 

She was a most delightful child and gave us joy beyond measure. Then she became a teenager, . . . and I went back into mourning as she participated in nearly every bad choice available. Thankfully, God once again turned my mourning into dancing as he worked so powerfully and beautifully in her life.

Recently I revisited Psalm 30 where it says, "you have turned my mourning into dancing," and realized it is the same chapter that says, "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Rachael's teenage years caused lots of tears, but I'm grateful that that season of weeping is over as we've seen her embrace our Lord and Saviour Jesus with great joy. 

I will always think of Psalm 30 as Rachael's Psalm. First, he used her to turn my mourning into dancing, and then he used her to teach me that after the weeping he once again brings joy.  I'm so grateful for the Word of God and how it can speak to my heart so powerfully and personally. And I'm forever grateful for the His awesome gift to me, Rachael Christine. 


josefa on humility

HumilityJesus told Sister Josefa, one of my saints, that when she had two options, to choose the humbler one. I'm trying to apply this wisdom more and more often. I’m trying to embrace humility in various ways. My sweet saint friends, Francis, Anthony, Rita, Faustina, and Josefa all modelled humility in powerful ways. Their writings and lives have taught me a lot about humility, but I am still so proud. Pride rises up all the time. Every single day.

Humility is simply not thinking of myself. I want to be humble. I want to become a saint, but there are no proud saints. Humility is a virtue of all the saints. Therefore, I need to remember what Jesus told Josefa: when you have two options, choose the humbler one. Little by little, day by day.