A Good Day

I know it is going to be a good day.  Not perfect, but it will be okay.  How do I know this?  Because this morning my heart is beating, and I have breath. I have some minor aches and pains, but I am able to move about freely.  There was coffee in the kitchen and the dog and I enjoyed a piece of toast together.  There was no snow to brush off the car and the sun is shining.  I can see buds on the trees even though we have more snow on the way.  Spring is coming.

Lately my thoughts rush ahead to our kids’ upcoming weddings and our daughter’s approaching high school graduation and departure for college.  I have developed the annoying habit of announcing to my husband, “She will be leaving in only five more months,” as if I have a running clock going in my head all the time, which I am beginning to believe is likely.  I must force myself to stop and live in today’s present, not jumping ahead to what may or may not be in the days ahead.

My re-set button is found in the first cup of coffee and some time spent with the Daily Readings.  After my husband kisses me good-bye, I settle in on the old, beat-up couch in the family room to see what I can glean from the Old Testament, the Psalm and today’s Gospel.  I often think about the events of the day before and am reminded of how God was present yesterday in all that happened, and God is present in the here and now.  And that makes me pause for a moment, and just stop and say, Thank you, LORD. 

Even though I have no idea what events may come about today, I trust in the LORD, my protector and guide, to accompany me.  And for that alone, I know it is going to be A Good Day.  I wish you a good day, too!



On the Journey

If you were to compare your current self now to the person you were perhaps ten years ago, what would you say are some areas in your personality where you have changed?  And what remains the same?  If you’ve lived as long as I have, you may look back twenty, twenty-five, or thirty years or more!  While I cannot speak for anyone else, I have found that through the years, my once rigid, all-or-nothing approach to life has evolved into something that’s a little more open, more accepting, and less judgmental.  I also know that none of this has happened overnight, and I have a very long way to go.  Each time life has thrown a curve ball, I’ve had to step back and evaluate who I am and where I am going.  I’ve had to learn to accept help from others at times and to realize that asking for help does not mean one is weak.  I have also learned to say I’m sorry when I am wrong and that most often, relationships themselves are much more important than winning an argument.

As the words to a church hymn we sang recently say, most of the time I have “one foot in Paradise and one foot in the waste.”  Being a beloved child of God is not for the weary, my friends!  If you are like me, perhaps you have learned that there are parts of your personality that still need some work.  Sometimes I wonder how my family puts up with all my quirks and moodiness!  It seems like many days I have our LORD on speed dial, asking for understanding.  There’s so much about human nature I just don’t get, yet I believe if I can learn more about other people, I can love them better as my sisters and brothers in Christ.  Perhaps the greatest life lesson has been to remember that none of this is about me.  When I was baptized, I was given the mission to share the Good News and serve others.  I always hope to be on the right track, but when things are not going well, as they sometimes don’t, I turn to my family as well as my parish community for strength and, when needed, a reality check.  To not have to journey alone through life is truly a gift!  Please remember today that you are not alone, either.

We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all.   1 Thessalonians 5:14

Poached Eggs

Our dad made his living as an electrical engineer.  He had a keen eye for fine detail and this was reflected in his daily life outside the workplace as well.  If he came to visit us and we had a squeaky door, Dad would open and shut that door repeatedly, trying to determine the source of the squeak.  Then, he would take a can of WD-40, and, just like that, the squeak would be gone.  Dad was a problem-solver, at times a fierce critic, but a man who believed in following through, in finding solutions.

Through the years, I learned to turn to Dad for advice on many things, especially on big life decisions, because he was so thorough in his approach and would leave no stone unturned when it came to gathering data.  Along with the Family Bible in the living room, Dad kept the annual copy of Consumer Reports Buying Guide.

In our dad’s later years of life, I had the privilege of developing a genuine friendship with him, a great deal of which was spent across the miles over the telephone.  I’d listen as he told me about recipes he had made, most often with his own added ingredients and I’d fill him in on what our kids were up to.  Occasionally, he would ask me a cooking or baking question and I must admit, it felt great to be able to give him some of my own kitchen tips, although this advice was not solicited very often!

These words about Dad were prompted by such a simple memory this morning of him making a couple of poached eggs in a saucepan on the stove.  Once the water came to a boil, he slipped each egg into the pan, gently, then set his digital watch for precisely three minutes.  Every time I make those eggs I think of him and send him a little hello and a prayer of thanksgiving for his presence in my life all those years.

Maybe you have one or two “Go To” people in your life, you know, the ones you can turn to for real advice or some laughter or an occasional reality check.  If you can, take the time this week to give them a call or send them a note, just to let them know how much they mean to you.  If your “Go To” person is no longer with us, keep telling their story.  These memories can be a real gift!

“Praise the LORD.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Psalm 106:1


The sky is still that pre-dawn pink color and the family room is quiet.  Every so often I can hear Jake the dog snore, already dozing again after his rapidly-consumed breakfast.  I’m in no hurry to turn on the TV or even grind the coffee beans yet; there’s an almost sacredness to this blissful silence.  Hardly any cars pass by on the street outside the window and things are just so very peaceful until…I hear the faintest chirping sound.  I strain my ears to hear and sure enough, there it is again…I get up off the couch to look out the window overlooking the raised garden bed.  No birds to be seen, but those are birds I hear.

I know there’s plenty of birds that stick around in Central New York all winter.  I know there’s still another month until spring.  But the sound of birds outdoors this morning is enough to remind me that this winter cannot last forever.  Springtime always comes.  There’s a rhythm to the seasons.  But we must wait.

In the beginning days of the Lenten season, Easter seems so far away.   Our liturgies are simpler, the Alleluia’s gone, and bare branch wreaths adorn our doors.   We take time to pause, to reflect, to look inward, to reach out to others.  Easter always comes.  There’s a rhythm to the liturgical seasons.  But we must wait.

Every springtime season I challenge myself to pay attention to the buds on the trees and try to determine when the leaves really appear.  That probably sounds strange, but once we get a couple of nice springtime days, I forget that challenge and it’s not until the leaves have been around a week or two that I remember I was supposed to watch.  This year will be different.  I hope.

Every Lenten season I challenge myself to pay attention to the Scriptures, to do Lent a little bit better than last year.  Most years I take a few steps forward and occasionally those are followed by a few steps back.  Ash Wednesday this year found me with a sinus congestion and a drippy nose.  It wasn’t pretty, and I never even got Ashes.   But I’m not giving up.  We still have lots of time left before Easter.  I got this.  I have a faith community to journey with me.  And birdsong to remind me that Easter, like springtime, always comes.














Domestic church

It seems like just yesterday when our own three children had many questions during their Sunday mornings at Mass:  A few I remember more than others:  When could they have “the cracker”?  (their observation of Eucharist), was that guy Jesus? (no, that’s our priest, honey), and why was everybody being quiet? (they’re praying.) Over time, they learned the rhythm of the Liturgy, how to follow along with the psalm response, how to extend a hand at the sign of peace, and their favorite, blessing themselves with the Holy Water.  Over time, our children came to understand that church was God’s house and we are all God’s people.

Not every visit to church was a Hallmark moment, I can assure you!  At the risk of sounding irreverent, some weeks may have resembled a scene from The Exorcist, and well-meaning folks looked at us with a mixture of pity and horror.  There were weeks when one of us would calm a crying infant in the church vestibule or accompany a potty-training toddler to the church restroom for the umpteenth time, but we just tried to do what we thought was best for our growing family.  For anyone who ever had to hand us a pacifier, hot wheels car or sippy cup that fell to the floor and rolled in front of us, I offer you my thanks.

Our baby years are far behind us now, but every time I see a young family with children at Mass, I want to thank them for taking the time and effort to share our common Catholic faith and traditions.  It’s much easier to stay at home, so I solute our young families for being courageous and committed to passing along our culture.  Let’s keep these traditions alive in our hearts and in our homes so that they may not be lost or forgotten.

Lent is the perfect time to re-commit ourselves to the love of God and the love of others.  Praying with our parish community strengthens our resolve to be a Gospel people.  Let’s really LIVE Lent this year, friends.  And let’s keep welcoming and encouraging our young families, as they are our future church!


Birthday Blessings

If I said, “Birthday Sunday” to anyone in our parish, I’m pretty sure they’d know I was referring to the monthly Birthday blessing for all the people celebrating a Birthday in that month.  I must admit, I really love seeing all the smiles on the faces of those being blessed, young and old alike.  It’s such a simple thing and yet it’s a reminder that all of us are loved and valued and celebrated.

It didn’t dawn on me until today that February is my mom’s birthday month.  She’s been gone from us for a long time, but memories of many family birthday celebrations through the years bring comfort and even a smile as I look back.  Our mother made sure that each of us five siblings and our Dad had our favorite type of birthday cake and meal each year.  For Dad, that usually was a Lemon Meringue or Cherry Pie.  I almost always asked for her yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting.  Mom did not make a big fuss about her own birthday, but her birthday cake had to be Angel Food with strawberries.   It didn’t matter that strawberries in upstate New York are not in season during February—she was perfectly content with the frozen sliced strawberries and a little bit of sugar.  She just loved angel food cake so much, and yet, it’s such a simple, ordinary cake.

The older I get, the more I understand that often in simplicity is beauty found.  There is joy in the simple, quiet, ordinary everyday moments all around us.  I also am learning not to take some things for granted.  I wish I had taken the time to have asked Mom what her favorite meal was, but I almost think she would have said, “any meal where we’re ALL gathered around the table is my favorite meal.”  I know it was Mom (and Dad) who first brought me to Mass and instilled the love of the LORD and Eucharist and parish that burns deep within. And I’m so grateful for that gift more than all the birthday cakes and dinners through the years.  Every time I see an angel food cake, I think of our mom and her infectious laugh and all she taught me.  And that, indeed, is a blessing!










Sunday Evening Time Out

I’m usually pretty good at counting my blessings and seeing the glass as half-full.  Occasionally, though, I get stuck.  That’s right…stuck.  And stuck is right where I am as I write this, buried under a pile of soft blankets, in comfy pajamas, ready to call it a day.  I know very well that this mood will pass, but in the meantime, I’ve put myself in “time out” to get these thoughts down on paper.

Everyone has their own concerns that sometimes weigh them down.  For me, it’s the fear of the unknown as the last of our children prepares to leave home for college this fall.  As excited as I am for her and all that lies ahead, I truly have no idea what it will be like to not have a child at home because that has been my reality for the past twenty-six years. There were only three early years in our marriage when it was “just the two of us,” and those years seem so long ago.

Some people will say, “The best days are ahead,” and while that may be true, I have such fond memories of those baby days, the middle-of-the-night feedings when the house was completely quiet except for the baby and me, and the creak of the rocking chair. I know there will be a time someday when Steve and I can retire and create some new adventures, but right now there’s a little part of me just wishing the time hadn’t gone so quickly.  And I am filled with moments of sadness and concern about whatever might come next.

In prayer, though, I am comforted by the ONE who has accompanied our family through the best and worst of times, the ONE who has never left our side.  These words from Jeremiah seem to sum it up nicely:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

 I hope that these words might also bring you some comfort if you have lots on your mind today.  I hope you, like me, will be patient with yourself as you try to accept whatever your current situation may be.  The important thing to remember about being “stuck” in whatever mood one finds oneself, is to not stay there too long.  Otherwise, you may miss out on whatever plans the LORD still has in store for you or me!


I’m inspired this morning by the often-repeated words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Yesterday, immediately after Mass, two dozen members of our faith community assembled two hundred four sandwiches for a local soup kitchen and put together fifty “blessing bags” for people who are homeless.   This one little effort by a group of concerned individuals, plus a handful of other gracious donors, is a visual reminder of how we are called to share our time, talent and treasure with others.

Our small, initial attempt at a Martin Luther King Day of Caring is merely a spark in a much bigger effort to keep the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy alive through service to others.  But isn’t a spark all we need, to keep the light of Christ alive in our hearts, and to hopefully spread that love to those around us?

The Winter Olympics begin in a just a few weeks and one integral part of the opening ceremonies is the Lighting of the Olympic Torch that will burn throughout the entire duration of these winter games.  The torch used to light that flame, however, began its journey on October 24 in Olympia, Greece, home of the first Olympics.   Over 7,500 torchbearers will pass along the flame to its destination in PyeongChang.  Each torchbearer’s mission is to keep the fire lit.  Isn’t that our mission, as well—to keep the light of Christ’s love going?

We have the power of our words and actions to keep the light of Christ alive in our own hearts and in the lives of others.  Let’s keep turning towards the light and use our love to drive out the darkness of despair, bigotry, gossip, poverty and injustice.

Flea Market Rocking Chair

It’s just a chair that we paid fifteen dollars for at a flea market back in 1991.  We were coming home from a weekend trip and stumbled across a Sunday afternoon flea market somewhere outside of Elmira–it’s been too many years for me to remember exactly where it was.  We had no babies at the time but hoped that one day we would become parents, so maybe the rocker was like a beacon of hope.  Or maybe just a piece of furniture.  I don’t know, and I don’t really care what our motive was at the time.  All I know is that one rocking chair has moved with us four times in the past twenty-four years and it’s a permanent fixture in our home.

So, why am I rambling on about a fifteen-dollar rocker?  Here’s the thing.  We’ve celebrated Epiphany and now the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (in the United States, it’s observed on Monday, January 7 this year), so the Christmas season is winding down and we’re returning to Ordinary Time.  We don’t really know what the New Year brings but there’s still a glimmer of Christmas hope in our hearts.  Not unlike the Magi, we move forward into unknown territory, not entirely sure what lies ahead, but open to discovery and beauty and all that is good.  When we bought the rocking chair, we were only two years into our marriage and had no idea what parenting would even look like.  We didn’t know, but we moved forward anyway, willing to open ourselves up to a new kind of love.

Our three “babies” are grown and as our youngest prepares to leave the family nest this fall for college, I often find the phrase, “What’s next?” creeping into daily prayer.  I have no idea what this next chapter of our lives will bring, but I want to remain open to whatever the LORD has in store for me and my husband and our family.  It’s been an incredible journey so far!  I leave you with a few words from Jeremiah 17: 7-8 to ponder this week:

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD

and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat

or worried by long months of drought.

Their leaves stay green.

and they never stop producing fruit.







A Holy Family

As I write this morning, we are snowed in after a large amount of snow fell in our city and surrounding areas yesterday.  The temperatures are at record lows and it’s good to be in a warm house drinking coffee, reflecting on the past few days of Christmas and just life in general.  We are back to just the three of us, plus the dog, and the house seems kind of quiet without the people I affectionately call “the big kids” who have gone back to their own routines.

There’s a Holy Family woodcarving on the piano next to the couch that catches my eye.  It was a gift from a student I taught years ago at a local Catholic school and it has become a treasured beacon of hope.  Through the years, I have turned to the Holy Family in prayer, asking for guidance and strength and sometimes just in prayers of thanksgiving.  I know my own family is far from perfect and our household is often quite chaotic.  But the Holy Family woodcarving on the piano is a visual reminder of something much greater than us, and that is the love of two parents for their new child, who just happened to also be the Son of God.  Is that mind-blowing?  Of course.  But it’s also oddly comforting.  Mary and Joseph, of their own free will, made it all work.  They chose to stick together and follow God’s plan and that would unfold based on nothing more than trust…and love.

Through the years I have come to realize that being a holy family is not necessarily being a perfect family.  Just like the snowstorm altered some of our plans and we had to adjust our dreams to fit the current realities of weather and time, in families we often need to compromise.  Sometimes this works and other times conflicts arise because feelings get hurt in the process.  But if we keep love of God and others in the equation, things usually work out.  Not perfectly, but things do work out!

The Feast of the Holy Family’s Second Reading from St. Paul to the Colossians will be the words to guide me through this upcoming New Year, and I hope they might be of comfort to you today, too:

 Brothers and sisters:

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

bearing with one another and forgiving one another,

if one has a grievance against another;

as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

And over all these put on love,

that is, the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,

the peace into which you were also called in one body.

And be thankful.