Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Race...

     My friend Joanne sent me this, from Father Z's blog. Isn't it funny that someone will send you a pick-me-up just when you need it most.
     Thanks Joanne.

Planned Parenthood lies. Shocker.

     Wow. Who would have thought that the people who kill millions of babies each year would also be liars.
     Watch here, from Creative Minority Report.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

International Crisis Group and the Responsibility to Protect...

     If you want to know more about what we are really doing in Libya, read about the International Crisis Group, from Discover the Networks. ICG co-founded the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Recognize the term?
     These groups advocate sweeping change in the Middle East a la revolution and usurpation of state sovereigntyThey favor an Islamic state, oppose Israel, and are heavily funded by George Soros. Surprise. Surprise.
     They believe that state sovereignty is not a right, but a responsibility, that can be superceded by the international community, under the doctrine, Responsibility to Protect. Libya is the test run for this policy.
     Former Obama senior foreign policy advisor Robert Malley is the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for ICG. He is sympathetic to Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood, Fatah and Hezbollah, and has repeatedly condemned Israel. He has urged the U.S. to disengage with Israel, and to reach out and negotiate with traditional Arab enemies, such as Syria and Iran.
     And alongside another Obama senior foreign policy advisor and likeminded thinker, Samantha Power, is Gareth Evans, the biggest proponent of the ICG's Responsibility to Protect doctrine... aka The Obama Doctrine.
     Wait for it. Evans is a Fabian Socialist.
     In fact, the ICG is riddled with socialists, communists, marxists, transnationalists, anti-Israel-ists, and anarchists. And they are determining U.S. foreign and military policy.
     Remember the Fabian window?
     The Fabians believe in hammering out their new world order from above... imposing their will on the people below them.
     Their goal is to "set the world on fire and remould it nearer to the heart's desire." Little by little, they convince all of the people to kneel to the god of socialist thought. It is telling that their crest is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
     The Obama Doctrine indeed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The reason for bombing Libya... This is what happens when the revolutionaries are in charge...

     If you are scratching your head, wondering what we are doing with our foreign policy, here is the only explanation that makes any sense.
     Relinquish American sovereignty and move toward the destruction of Israel all in one fell swoop. Revolution is the way you get there, and I have said for months that the revolutionaries are in charge.
     This "Responsibility to Protect" rationale is the brainchild of Cass Sunstein's wife: White House foreign policy advisor Samantha Power, and has been embraced, developed and implemented into the UN by none other than George Soros.
     And it is now the rationale for military action in Libya. 
     President Obama is establishing a precedent whereby US sovereignty is turned over to the UN under this Responsibility to Protect policy which will give the UN the power to go into any country it deems is committing "crimes against humanity." 
     And the main target among these people is Israel.  
     Power talks of a "mammoth protection force" to carry out the Responsibility to Protect policy. Perhaps this will be the Egyptian army and soon the Libyan rebel forces. With the help of the US??
     Egyptian president Mubarak had upheld an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty for decades. The Egyptian rebels, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, are anti-Israel. Mubarak needed to go. 
     And Quaddafi, just a former "friend" of Soros, is no longer necessary to carry out these foreign policy goals. What happened to "sitting down and reasoning with these dictators, with no preconditions?" Why the jump to military use of force without any diplomatic efforts? 
     Many of the rebels in Libya hate Israel and America... and are most likely Al Quaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet we are helping them. We were fighting against some of these same rebels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anybody see a problem here?
     Please go to 
The Blaze for more about this.
     Also, read more about Samantha Power and the whole troubling Obama foreign policy team in this 2008 article from the American Thinker. Power is pro-UN, anti-Israel to be sure, as they all are. And George Soros is once again pulling the strings.
     And now over the weekend, we had Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitting that although Libya poses no American national interest, it was of interest in that Quaddafi's actions there were threatening to derail the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Click here for that story.
     It's no secret that revolutionaries want revolution.
     But a revolution into what?
     Remember the goals: Destroy Israel... Destroy capitalism and the western way of life... Overthrow the US... Set the Middle East on fire... Chaos... Revolution... The UN calls the shots in the new world order... Or maybe a small group will call the shots, and just use the UN...  George Soros's Open Society comes to mind. 
     Remember rule number one... The ends justify the means. Congressional consent and an explanation to the American public need not get in the way.
     Pray for God's protection. He will provide it. Shine the light on the darkness. The Light always wins in the end.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... Give it up for Lent!

    Well... we are almost three weeks into Lent and we are each having various degrees of success with our Lenten sacrifices.
    I have given up two things.  First, I have given up cursing. I am not a big curser, but any cursing is bad, so why not?  I must admit that I have come to believe that some jokes are just a little funnier with a little curse word inserted in the exact right place. I have justified ''joke cussing," so I must admit, that one is not going so well.
    On the other hand, I am kicking ass with my second one. I have given up soda. Since I do not drink coffee, basically this means that I have given up caffeine.  As a result of giving up soda and caffeine, I have also given up being awake past 10 p.m. every night.  Fortunately, I have not given up ibuprofin because I walk around with a constant headache as a result of caffeine withdrawal. I would kill for a Dr. Pepper right about now, but I am staying strong. I give myself a B-.
    Grace has given up her snooze button.  If you read Funny Guy Friday on a regular basis, you know that my girl loves to sleep in the morning. But this sacrifice has not been as difficult as you might think... she also has given up setting her alarm at night.
    As a result, I have to get up early and wake her up every morning. She is so used to hitting her snooze alarm, that she reaches up with her hand and fumbles around with my face until she finds my nose and pushes in on it until I stop talking. It works pretty well because it takes about nine minutes for my nose to stop hurting before I go back in to try again. I give Grace a B for her clever strategy.
    Noah has given up video and computer games. This has been pretty tough for the little guy. He will ask one of us to play so he can watch, but then he just sits there and drools like Pavlov's dog. It is kind of sad, but on a happier note, I am getting better at Angry Birds. I will admit that he has at times slipped up and grabbed his brother's ipod and played a game or two. At least he is honest and rats himself out. I give Noah an A- because he is very cute.
    Matthew has given up dessert. Typically, he is strong with his Lenten sacrifices, and this year is no different.  Most of the family feels guilty as we eat our ice cream and cake and he grabs a glass of water or a banana. We don't feel bad enough that we refuse to partake, but we do feel bad as we gobble it up.
    Grace, yeah, not so much.  She tests his resolve by slowly licking her spoon and commenting on how much she loves her Italian ice.  Perhaps Grace should consider giving up teasing her little brother, but what fun would the Easter season be without a little sibling tease. If Jesus had a big sister, I am sure she would have had a few comments for him as He battled the devil in the desert. Matthew comes in with a solid A.
    Then there is Cheryl. She has given up a few things this year. First, there is the laundry.  She is doing great with this one. The laundry room is five feet high with clothes, and we can barely open the bathroom doors. Second, she has given up doing the dishes... although she fell off the wagon tonight and washed some pots and pans. I am guessing that God will forgive her. Third, she has given up hanging up my suits and picking up my shoes. We can't both give that up can we? Finally, she has given up French vanilla coffee creamer, but don't get too excited about this one because we ran out last week and apparently, she has also  given up going to the grocery store to buy new creamer. I give Weez a C+.
    Actually, our family does our best to prepare for Easter. Our little sacrifices are just a small part of what we try to do during Lent. Of course we will abstain from meat on Fridays, attend all of the Masses as well as attending Stations of the Cross. We will also be sure to go to Reconciliation in preparation for the Holiest of seasons. Recently a priest said that all of these types of things are nice but they don't mean much if you are not committed to Jesus Christ. We do all these little things in honor of the big things He did, and continues to do, for us.
    God has blessed us with three great kids and He has blessed me with a wonderfule wife... even if she won't hang up my suits. What the heck, I can do it myself for the next forty days... but after Easter, it is back to business as usual around here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Revisiting food storage...

     It never hurts to be prepared. Stock up.
     Read here, to find out how.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More from South America... Good for Chile... Not so fast America...

     So, not only in Brazil, but in Chile, too. What's praiseworthy there is not allowed here.
     Read this from Investors Business Daily.
     Have you asked yourselves, "Why?"
     Do you know yet?

Obama give thumbs up to drilling... in Brazil...

     There's a theme going today... When you know who they are, you understand them.
     Read here, from Investors Business Daily.

Latest plan to destroy the U.S. economic system...

     I've said it before. Once you know who these people are, you can understand all of their moves. Labor unions and community organizers are planning to bring about another economic crisis to collapse our system. Their plan is to create "ungovernability."
     Watch this from the Blaze. And read here from Business Insider.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... A Good Man goes to heaven!

    My father passed away on March 12th. He took his last breath with me, my mother, a sister and a brother at his side. The rest of my brothers and sisters arrived shortly thereafter.
    After almost twenty years of marriage, my wife has picked up on the fact that when I think highly of someone, I will say that he is a "Good Man." I tell her it is the highest compliment that I can give.
    A Good Man is someone who is faithful to his religion, his wife and to his family. He is someone who can be brutally honest, but focuses on the honesty part and disposes of the brutality. Someone that you can rely upon and trust. When he says he will be there, you know he will show up. In fact, he will probably show up in your time of need, even if he is not asked.
    A Good Man lives a life based on principles and will not compromise those principles for convenience's sake. A Good Man will treat everyone with respect and will engage in both parts of a conversation, the talking part and also the listening part. He is fair and he is forgiving.
    I make the declaration that I believe that someone is a Good Man based on what I observe and whatever limited contact that I may have had the pleasure of having with them.
    I have had almost daily contact with my dad over the past forty seven years and I can say without hesitation that he was a Good Man!
   So this past week, my six-year-old posed the question, "Do good men go right to heaven?"
   Wow, good question Noah. My immediate response was to just say "yes," but I thought that it would be a good question for my brother Paul. Paul is a Lutheran minister, and is great with kids. In fact, one of my favorite photos is of my brother in his vestments surrounded by a group of young kids. I thought I would take advantage of having him there.
    Oftentimes, clients of mine ask me if they really need a lawyer. I ask them what they do for a living, and if they happen to be an electrician, I will tell them that although I can change a lightbulb, that does not make me an electrician. They can talk, but that does not make them lawyers.
    Noah's question was right in my brother's wheelhouse, and although I go to Mass every weekend and had a strong opinion on the answer, I am not an expert, so I deferred.
    So off Noah went in search of Uncle Paul and an enlightened answer. He returned after about ten minutes and I was anxious to get the response. I asked Noah to tell me everything that he heard. His response was priceless. Noah told me that Uncle Paul told him, "Yes!"
    That's it---Yes! Turns out that I am an expert after all.
    I told Noah he had been gone for ten minutes... Uncle Paul had to have told him more than that... more than just, "Yes!"
    Apparently, Uncle Paul had been on the phone for nine minutes and fifty five seconds of the ten minutes, and with his remaining five seconds, he was able to tell Noah, "Yes." I wish I had thought of that.
    At this point I had two thoughts. First, I hope that my brother did not spend a bunch of money on classes dealing with life after death issues while a student at Divinity School. And second, I suppose it really is that simple---if you live a faithful life devoted to Christ, your wife and your family... if you are honest, responsible and stay true to your principles... if you treat others with respect and are fair with people and forgiving of others... YES... YOU DO GO TO HEAVEN!
    It is comforting to know that my dad was a Good Man and is walking in heaven.

    Anyway, after my dad passed, we all sat with him. We waited for my brother to arrive so we were there all day. After two hours, Noah came into the room and said that Uncle Paul must have been wrong. "What are you talking about?" Cheryl asked.
    Noah replied, "Well, it's been a lot of minutes, and PapPap is still here."
    PapPap was still in the room, he hadn't gone anywhere. As it turns out, Pastor Paul could have offered a few extra minutes of instruction to young Noah.
    Noah's work was not done for the night. After my dad's body was removed from the house, he wanted to draw a picture. He asked my sister what to draw and she told him to draw whatever was in his heart. Noah went to work as only he can do---very focused. After about ten minutes, he left the room to finish coloring his masterpiece. He came back with a picture of Jesus on the Cross. It was a great picture that he decided to give to my mother. Very sweet.

    Again, thank you all for your thoughts and your prayers. My family will miss my dad, but he was a Good Man, and I will assure you that he is a Good Man in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Love conquers death...

     On Saturday, my father-in-law passed away.
     I had prayed for so many things for him.
     Healing, if that be God's will. Mercy, in the absence of healing. Peace for him and my mother-in-law. And grace to help us all through this time of his suffering and dying.
     I prayed especially that the Holy Spirit would guide me, and help me to know what to do with regard to my children. How much should they see? Please God, don't let me mess them up. Death is so scary... and ugly... right? Everybody knows that.
     When I shared my uncertainty about what to do with my kids, my brother-in-law Paul commented that, in our culture, we try so hard to hide death, that often, we are unprepared for it when, inevitably, it comes. He said, "This is the time that the grownups get scared, so the kids get scared."
     That was me. I was scared.
     But, I decided to abandon my own understanding... and limited wisdom... and trust the Holy Spirit. And what followed truly amazed me.
     We decided to spend the night on Friday, sensing that the end was close. Plus, Mark was planning to stay, and I wanted to be with him, just in case.
     I had asked the kids what they wanted to do. And they had all clamoured, "Stay."
     I prayed that I would not be scared. And that my kids would be fine.
     I prayed that I would "see Jesus in the dying." That I'd see something beautiful, like I've heard others talk about. Because so far... nothing was beautiful about this process.
     Then I saw it.
     The suffering was indeed ugly. I saw nothing beautiful there... until I studied the faces of the people bedside, gazing at him with a love that said they would trade places with him if they could.
     I watched my mother-in-law kiss his face... and lovingly touch his hair... and faithfully hold his hand. Even as his labored breathing reminded us his time was short.
     I watched my husband, with wet eyes, telling his father that he loved him.
     Mark's brothers and sisters kept vigil, attending to his every need. In-laws and grandkids too. Every last grandchild had made a pilgrimage to visit him one more time, to play cards, or to just hold his hand.
     The hospice workers lovingly helped take care of his body, giving selfless comfort and kindness to a virtual stranger.
     And of course, I watched my children, showing love more than fear, despite his physical condition. Loving him in their own individual ways. Kissing him. Holding his hand. Wanting to be close by.
     Mark's brother Paul is a minister in Washington state. Late Friday night, we had gathered together around PapPap's bed to give thanks, and to bless him with the sign of the cross on his head, his eyes, his ears, his lips, his hands, his feet, and his heart, each time saying, "Into your hands, we commend your servant." My kids stepped right up to take part in this beautiful and consoling rite. We prayed. And we sang a little.
     The next day, just before noon, PapPap snuck his moment of death in quietly, right after his bed-bath... with Mark's mom, Mark's brother Paul and sister Michel there, and then Mark and me entering the room just at that moment. I wasn't even sure that was it. I think I was waiting for a big moment. But that was it. And I was not afraid.
     I went to tell my children, and they came quickly to see him. My six-year-old asked if he could still kiss him. I said, "Of course."
     Mark's brother Paul and sister-in-law Pam groomed him a little, and laid his hands at rest, so he would be presentable to those who would come to see him one more time. And as he lay there, I could not help but marvel at how very peaceful he looked. The more time that passed, the more he looked like how he used to look. Before the suffering.
     The more I looked at him, the more I marveled at him. His skin was flawless. In his suffering, he had looked so old. But now, although he still looked old, he somehow looked so young. I could not help but notice his hands too. Throughout all of the suffering, his face had changed, but his hands had always remained the same. Strong. Giving. Loving.
     As the day went on, more family came. And we cried. And then we laughed, too.
     But there was one thing for sure. Through the laughter, and the tears, there was love. Love filled that room. You could see it on the faces of those that were bedside once more, gazing at him once again, loving him so deeply as to let him go...though painful... knowing he is happy now, enjoying the glory of God that remains our hope, as we stay behind, here on earth.
     And then, with all of us gathered around, Paul anointed him with scented oil. Lovingly anointing his face and chest and shoulders and arms. Praying as he anointed. Honoring him in death, as we did in life.
     My sister-in-law Theresa stood with me later, in the kitchen, and summed it up so perfectly. She said that to look around, what happened there that day just proves what we know to be true... "Love conquers death."
     Death was not the star of the day. Love was. And my children witnessed it firsthand. No need to fear.

"At last God called him saying, 'Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.'"
~ St. Bernadine of Siena ~


Friday, March 11, 2011

Funny Guy Friday... A simple pat on the rear...

    I will start this week's FGF with an apology for once again writing about the events surrounding my father. For the past few weeks, I have gone to work, and then over to my parents' home. This has been my only source of material.
    When I get to my parents' home, I never know who I might find----my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or in-laws. We all take turns spending the night watching out for dad and being there for my mom.
    Currently, my dad is sleeping comfortably and communicating with an occasional squeeze of the hand or a raised eyebrow or a slight smile. But this restful state is a new phenomenon. His days and nights have been mixed up and as a result, he was sleeping during the day and restless at night. Despite his weakened state, he was still able to outlast all contenders.
    My first "spend over" with dad had me paired with my brother Jeff. We are both relatively athletic guys. Both played college sports and we can both still go out and play with much younger competitors. Two on one... and the one is an 83 year old with a failing kidney. Can you say mismatch?
    If you took the old guy with the bad kidney, you won.

    We all started out asleep at about 12:30 a.m. Two of us wanted to stay asleep but unfortunately, one of us wanted out of his bed. Over the next two hours, we moved him, we covered him, we uncovered him and we held him. Nice, but he did not want to be moved, held, covered or uncovered. He could not speak but like always, his actions spoke louder than his words. He wanted up and out. We fought to keep him down and in.
    At about 3:00 a.m., we decided to give him a dose of medicine. Before she went to sleep for the night, my sister Michel had laid out all of the medicines, and told us both which one to use, how much to use and when to use it. No problem, we had it all under control---right up until this conversation:

Me: I think we should give him some medicine.
Jeff: Okay, are you sure?
Me: I think so.
Jeff: Okay, you do it.
Me: No you do it.
Jeff: You're closer.
Me: You're older.
Jeff: You're right there!
Me: You can get up and move---we'll trade places.
Jeff: I am going to pound you!
Me: Fine, I'll do it.
Jeff: Are you sure you got the right one?
Me: I think so.
Jeff: You know there are two medicines.
Me: I know.
Jeff: Do you have the right one?
Me: Yeah, I think so, I'm going to give it to him.
Jeff: Wait, do you have the right dosage?
Me: I think so.
Jeff: Are you sure?
Me: This is what she told me to give him.
Jeff: Are you sure we should give this to him?
Me: I think so.  Should I wake up Michel?
Jeff: Yeah, I think so.
Me: MICHEL, come quick!

   Having drafted a third sibling to provide the proper dosage of the proper medicine (for the record, I had it correct), we decided to move dad because he looked uncomfortable as he laid awkwardly on his side across two pillows. We decided that we would move him into a more comfortable position.
   After approximately 90 minutes of pulling, tugging and manipulating him, the three of us got him into a position that looked... well... it looked very uncomfortable, and awkward laying on his side over two pillows. That's right, it took three of us an hour and a half to get him into the same exact position in which he started.
    I am sure that my father was hoping that his other three kids would come in and take over. All six of his kids could not possibly be this incompetent. Satisfied with our success, my sister headed back to bed and left me and my brother to fend for ourselves.
   Oh, but the night was still young for dear old dad.
   After catching a few winks in this new/old position, he demanded, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted up. We tried to avoid this because we were afraid that he would want to get into a chair and then we would not be able to get him back into his bed. Despite our fears, we decided to lift him up out of his bed. We did this exercise five or six times and every time he stood up, he would just stand there and rest his head on my shoulder, or on my brother's shoulder. At one point, while we were holding him up and he was resting his head on my brother's shoulder, I got a pat on the rear.
   After doing the lift and hold routine for about 25 minutes, he wanted back in his bed. As we laid him down, I advised my brother that he should have been working harder on holding dad up instead of giving me a friendly pat on the butt. He then told me that dad patted him on the rear also, and whispered "good boys" while his head rested on his shoulder.
   Three days later, I was paired with my nephew. He was warned of the possibility of an all-nighter. Dad slept through the whole night. Unfortunately, he has not been up much ever since. When my nephew and I woke, I made a deal with him---we will tell everyone we were up all night and that dad did not sleep at all but that we were able to handle it like a couple of veteran candy stripers. The first one to crack and tell the truth owed the other one ten bucks.
   As I recall and write about both nights, I can't help but think that I much prefer the sleepless, exhausting night when my dad patted me on the rear. This was his way of telling me and my brother thank you and that he loved us. It was a simple gesture that spoke volumes. I would gladly spend another sleepless night with my dad in return for a simple pat on the butt because in the end, as always, his actions spoke louder than his words.

   We have been advised that the end is imminent. Once again, I thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray for my dad, and just as importantly, for my family. A cousin was over tonight---her father was my dad's best friend, and he had passed away a few years ago. She was talking to my dad at his bedside and described both men as "pillars of their families." A perfect description with an image that has stayed with me.
   In all likelihood, at this time next week, that "Pillar" of our family will not be with us on this earth. That is the sad news. The happy news is that he has led a good life, and I am confident that he will be in a better place with our Lord in heaven.
   He and my mother raised six children that love and support one another. In turn, those children have done the same with their kids, and their kids are now doing the same with their kids. Six kids, twenty six grand kids, thirteen great grand kids, with three more great grand kids on the way---quite a legacy. Other pillars in our family have emerged and still others will develop. None of us will ever replace him, but together we will love and support each other. He built this family on rocks, not sand---because of him, and because of Him, we will be okay.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Birdwatching... Catch the fever!

     Okay... so I never thought this would be me. But I am hooked. I have fallen in love with birdwatching, and boy, what a buffet that visits me each day.
     I consult my Reader's Digest, North American Wildlife guide to see what's what (I ordered mine at Amazon for less).
     So far, in just the past few days, I've seen cardinals (I've grown to appreciate the subtle beauty of the khaki-colored females), blue jays, robins, white-throated sparrows (these look like chipmunks, with their black and white striped heads), house sparrows (or english sparrows, as they are called), black-capped chickadees, common grackles (gorgeous, fairly large, black and irridescent purple and green birds resembling the brewer's blackbird), dark-eyed juncos (very small, sweet little things), eastern towhees (black headed birds with burnt orange sides and white-edged tails), and of course, the mourning dove.
     This is a very exciting new pasttime for me. I put some seed out so I can study them as they eat. Each time I look outside is a surprise.
     If you live in Maryland, be on the lookout for these and more. I can't believe I wasn't paying attention all these years. And to think spring isn't even here yet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The purpose of ashes on Ash Wednesday...

     "The Church extends to all Catholics an invitation to receive ashes. The rite of administering ashes has been created by the Church as a sacramental to make us conscious both of the reality of death and of the necessity for penance and contrition. The effect of this rite depends upon the prayerful purpose of the recipient."
~ From the Sacred Heart bulletin.

Lent begins today...

     I was back at the window today, saying my prayers, and watching for the morning to come alive once again... yet I did not see one single bird. Not one.
     I think this means I am supposed to turn my eyes to the inside of my home, and pause to consider my plans for this new liturgical season of Lent.
     What I need to do cannot be found out in my side yard.
     Forty days. A period of sacrifice and hardship before the gift of new life.
     So... Here goes. This is what I plan to do...
     Housework first, before computer. Fill forty bags in forty daysMake room in the inn.
     Life moves quickly... examining my conscience at the end of the day is not enough for me. I must be prepared ahead, and be aware of my pitfalls. For nothing lands me in the confessional like my sins of omission. The things I should have done that I did not. Fridge stocked. Meals prepared. Rooms picked up. Laundry done. Blah. Blah. Blah.
     I would simply rather read or write. Or sit still and think. But these other things are my responsibility, too.
     And so for today, I will strengthen my will by doing what I'd rather not, to help me with tomorrow. And for forty days, I will use my hands to bless my family, and my sacrifices to make lots of room for God in my home.
     May God bless you abundantly this Lenten season.

For the link to Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nature's consolation...

     This morning I came downstairs at sunrise, made my coffee, sat on the loveseat in my dining room, gazing out of the bay window overlooking the woods of our side yard like I always do. There, the natural life of the early morning peeps out to start the day.
     This is where I, too, begin each day, and say my prayers for the morning.
     This morning, I asked God for something that I don't usually do, but I've had an emotional time of it lately, and so I asked for a small sign of His consolation. Of course, I qualified it to the Lord, saying that I was not testing Him, but was in need of just a little of his supernatural comfort in my very natural world.
     Suddenly, I looked down, and there was an unsual bird, just sitting on a fallen limb on the ground. Unusual, in that it wasn't a robin, or a cardinal. It was a plain taupey-greyish bird that looked a little like a pigeon.
     No offense God, but I was kind of hoping for a happy little yellow finch, or a graceful blue bird.
     That's okay. I sat and studied this bird anyway. It sat there for a very long time... longer than I did... barely moving except to leave a little goodie on the grass beneath it. Nature. Still okay. God knows what He is doing.
     The more I studied it, the more I thought it was beautiful in its stillness and its simplicity.
     Of course, I had to know what kind of bird this was. I had seen it before, and I knew it wasn't really a pigeon. So what was it? I consulted my wildlife book, and found it.
     It was a mourning dove.
     Not a morning dove, but a mourning dove.
     Providing me with some peace and joy in the stillness of the morning... and the mourning. For as long as I needed it.
     God does indeed know what He is doing.

Other birds I have seen in my side yard today: blue jays, cardinals, robins, white-throated sparrows, and black-capped chickadees. The mourning dove has gone on its way...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My husband, the Funny Guy...

     Most of what Mark writes about in his Funny Guy Friday posts are silly, ordinary, everyday, slice of life things... But these past few weeks have been anything but ordinary.
     If you follow this blog, you know by now that Mark's dad is dying.
     His kidneys are failing and he has elected to forego the dialysis.
     The first week at home brought a serenity to Mark's dad.
     He was relatively comfortable, maintained his sense of humor, played cards with the kids, and had many visitors. Each and every grandchild came home to visit him one more time. And of course, Mark's siblings were all there.
     Most of the grandkids have returned to their daily routines, many of them, in other parts of the country. After seeing him with everyone, I would say that PapPap was satisfied.
     But these last few days, pain has replaced the serenity, and he is uncomfortable and agitated. It is harder to carry on normally. The easy conversation and the card playing have stopped. And the pain now requires morphine.
     So Mark and his mom and brothers and sisters must now stand by and live through the very worst.
     There are circles of involvement here that cannot be penetrated. The innermost circle contains only PapPap. Him and the Lord Himself.
     The next circle contains Mark's dad and his mom. I call their approach to this the ultimate gift of the magi, because of their love for each other. He would love to just let go and be with God in the glory of Heaven, but would hold on for her. And she would love nothing more than to have him around for years to come, but would let him go because she loves him.
     The next circle out includes the kids. Mark and his brothers and sisters. This is their dad.
     I am part of the next circle... the siblings' spouses and the grandkids.
     I cannot penetrate the siblings' circle. I can only be present and do what I can to help.
     Mark is dutiful. He tries to keep life as normal as possible. But I know this is harder for him than even I can imagine.
     Through it all, roles among the siblings have emerged. Some are doers... washing dishes, preparing meals. Others make sure the meds are in order. They consult with the nurses about his condition. Still others sit vigil, praying or making sure he doesn't accidentally hurt himself.
     Mark's role is to try to make everyone laugh. He imitates his dad at the table, asking for pancakes made just the right way. He makes fun of his sister for not hooking up the oxygen the right way. Or he tells funny stories from the past. Or he writes a funny post, even though he doesn't feel much like like laughing.
     Or maybe it's because he needs to laugh.
     I love you Funny Guy. You are a blessing to your family.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FGF... The Miracle Worker and other funny stories...

    This past week brought my brothers, sisters and every niece and nephew to my parents' home to say goodbye to my father.
    This, I thought, was my dad's last wish.
    Although at times if was difficult... for the most part this gathering was a joyful celebration of my father's life. Stories were told and re-told and more importantly, my family provided me with a few ridiculous moments for FGF.
    Story 1:  My brother came in from Washington and my sister came in from Texas. They have been staying with my parents and have been providing nursing services to my dad. The other night, my sister, who fancies herself as Florence Nightingale, gave him his medication, tucked him away in his bed, and hooked him up to his oxygen.
    In the middle of the night, my dad woke up and questioned whether his oxygen was working. My brother assured him that it was because the machine was on and was making all the right noises. Still, my brother decided to confirm his suspicions and put the hose up to his face. Sure enough, it was not working. He then decided to trace the hose back to the machine, and it turned out that my sister hooked dad up to the one line that was not connected to anything.
    Lovingly, I have told her she is more like Dr. Kevorkian than Florence Nightingale, and have told Cheryl that she is to keep my sister as far away from me as possible, if I ever take ill.
    Story 2:  As many of you who read Funny Guy Friday know, Cheryl is weak minded and catches whatever illness somebody else may have (see Honey I think I'm Coming Down with Something). The other day, a nurse asked my dad to take a deep breath. I was sitting there and I noticed that every time Dad took a deep breath, so, too, did Cheryl.
    It turns out that she is a sympathetic breather. I told her to knock it off because her heartbeat was drowning out Dad's. Fortunately, the doctors have advised Cheryl that her kidneys are functioning well, and she is going to survive Dad's illness.
    Story 3:  Yesterday, I got a call on my way to Court and was advised by another brother that Dad had a terrible night, and that I might consider going to the house right away. I was able to rearrange everything, and found him in a chair appearing almost comatose. I thought to myself that this is was the end.
    The hospice nursing assistant came, got him into his bed, and told us that this looked more like exhaustion than a coma. Please lady, I have been exhausted and I never looked like that. I did not think he was in a coma, but based on my medical degree, it seemed pretty close. He was barely responsive, and could hold his eyes open for only a second at at time. He was out.
    I had to run to court and was not sure what I would find when I returned after lunch.  What I found when I got back was not much different than when I had left.
    Later that afternoon, after almost twelve hours in this condition, the hospice nurse arrived and tried to stir him. She started to question him, and at first, got little or no response from him.
    On a side note, my sister, nurse Kevorkian, was on top of her game, and she was able to provide answers to all of the nurse's questions for my father. Again, everyone should rest easy and know that my sister's kidneys are also working just fine, thank you. Of course, we all would have appreciated it if she would have let Dad respond, because we were all pretty sure it was part of the nurse's exam. How she knew that Dad wasn't hungry is beyond me.
    Anyway, after several minutes, the nurse was able to get him to sit up. She was able to get him to respond to her questions. She was able to get him to eat. She was able to get him in his wheelchair, and get him out to the kitchen table. Hell, she was able to get Lazarus healthy enough to whip up on two of his grand kids in cards. This woman was a miracle worker.
    Well, it turns out, er uh, well, it turns out, he was just exhausted. Just like I thought the whole time.
    Finally, Story 4---my favorite story of the week:  My dad was getting out of his bed and into his wheelchair. Getting comfortable has not been easy during these changes, so he raised himself up in his chair to adjust himself. My mom rushed over to see what was the matter. Dad, still not wanting to be babied, told her in a not so gentle tone to relax. She gave a frustrated sigh, and he shot back, "I wish you had testicles."
    After sixty one years of marriage, I suppose he wanted her to enjoy a similar discomfort.
    This, of course, struck me as very funny because, up until now, his last wish was the very noble wish that he could see all of his kids and all of his grand kids one more time. This was a request that the entire family was able to rally around... and everyone came back to Maryland to see him. It was truly beautiful.
    Unfortunately, no matter how much we want to make his last days as good as they can be, we cannot accommodate this most recent "last wish." Unless, of course, the miracle-working hospice nurse has some ideas. After all, she was able to bring Dad back from the brink... perhaps she could do a couple of miracles for Mom.

   FYI----My dad is still hanging in there. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

   Funny Guy Friday is a slice-of-life post, written each Friday, by my husband... a funny guy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bartimaeus again...

     Today's Gospel tells the story of Bartimaeus.  I posted about this last year. Here it is again, in case you missed it.
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