Honor your Mother and Father

Ephesians 6-2-3This past week, two dear friends each lost a parent. One lost a father and the other a mother. God is rejoicing in heaven with their presence, but we are mourning the loss of their presence. All the memories shared with friends and family brings me back to the loss of my own father. The heartbreak of that loss has never soften or been filled with something else, even when it has been 11 years he has been gone. Nothing can ever replace the emptiness our family feels. I know too well what my dear friends are going through – the pain that resides amid the joy of celebrating their life and legacy.

Everyday you miss their smile, their laugh or their voice. You want to grab the phone when good news comes your way so that you can call them. With each new spring bulb you remember the garden you planted with them. On your daily walk, you talk with them. There is only one thing that can comforted me. It is the only true thing that can comfort anyone.

Resting in the Lord’s promise in a life everlasting.
Knowing we will see each other again in the presence of Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus honored His parents. He listened to his mother, Mary, when He was not ready to perform a miracle. Mary must have known, small miracles had to have occurred when Jesus was a child because she speaks confidently when she tells him they are out of wine at the wedding.  Jesus says “what do you want me to do” but the word doesn’t show a response to his question. Mary turns to the steward and says “do what he says”. Parents know their children. They know what we are capable of, they encourage, support and believe in us through anything. Mary knew Jesus’ gifts better than anyone else. If I use Mary as my model of parenting, which I have always tried to do, I know I will remain in His Love.

As Catholics, we honor Mary during the month of May. Society honors Mothers during the month of May also. And in June we honor Fathers. Honoring our parents, as Jesus modeled for us, is important to do while they are alive and after they are gone too.

Friends, who lost a parent when they were very young, talk about all they missed. The long talks, the advice, the prideful look on their wedding day or graduation. Moments when we want to be surrounded by those we love. Moments that were stolen from them, but I trust in the Lord to provide them with opportunities to receive the love of a parent in many different forms too.

Jesus learned love, compassion and generosity from his parents and the home they created for him. We too are also products of our parents. I see my father in my siblings, nieces and nephews. I even see my father in my husband. He met my Dad when we were in high school and even though he had a wonderful father already, he would say he learned from my Dad too. The hard work of his hands while he builds out of lower level, creating more family space, or the generous nature when he does anything for our children. He often says, “your father helps us when we were young, I want to help them”. And my dad did – he lifted a sagging ceiling with my husband on our first house and was always there to fish with, talk with and to bounce things off of. Parents forever hold our hearts.

As we gather to honor these two beautiful, amazing parents, whom I was blessed to know, I pray the stories shared show their families the love of their parents and honor their memories. Memories that honor them will also embrace you on the days that are hard to bear without your parents.

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3 

Embrace God’s grace through the memories of your parents who have entered eternal life and those parents who you are able to embrace with love.

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Being Fed

Last month I attended the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA. I know what you are thinking, “getting out of Chicago into the sunshine and relax” right…not for me. I absorbs as much from the conference as I possibly can. Workshop and events from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, evening concerts and guest speakers, dinner and crash. But it is exhilarating.

I wish I could be in 10 places at once – each workshop time offers over 25 topics and I want to attend so many of them. This year I was blessed to hear Sherry Weddell, Bill Huebsch, Fr. Daniel Horan, Doug Tooke, ValLimar Jansen, Becky Eldredge, Doug Leal, Tony Alonso, Jeanne Cotter, Bishop Bob Barron, Steve Angrasino and Maria Shriver!

The weekend is an inspiration to my personal spiritual growth and to my ministry for Christ. Each year my love for the Eucharist deeps. The amazing gifts of community, unity, nourishment and overflowing love from Jesus was feel by those I met, which represent a universal church. Almost 40,000 ministers of the church attend this conference.

I bring back ideas to spark a flame within the youth, young adults and adults with whom I am blessed to minister to. My heartfelt prayers are for them to see Christ through my words, actions and relationships with them.

The theme of the conference was Rise Up!

My Rise Up truths…
Rise Up to accompany another on their journey
Rise Up to share the gifts God has blessed me with
Rise Up to center on Christ’s presence throughout my day
Rise Up to inspire others to their call of mission
Rise Up to give of myself in service
Rise up to be present
Rise Up to lay down my life for another
Rise Up to reach out in generosity

I am fed by God’s word and His love. I am fed by others who are Christ in my life and I am fed by amazing opportunities such as this conference.

Rise Up! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds, the peoples, Upon you the Lord will dawn, and over you his glory will be seen. Isaiah 60:1-2

Grace embraced through the light of others shining on my life. Help me, Jesus, to shine my light to others.

1,826

Praise of Thanksgiving for every breath and every moment these past five years. 

1826 days.

Looking in the mirror every morning and evening, more than 3600 times, seeing what cancer took. Some days I have moments of normalcy where I forget what this earth handed me to deal with. Wearing a prosthetic allows others to not think about it since everything “looks” normal when they see me. Then a tightness or pain, in the breast that no longer exists, brings me back to reality. How can there be a phantom pain five years later. But there is. Pain as if being stabbed. Pain that gets your attention. It never leaves me. A reminder of my loss. My view in the mirror some days reminds me of the darkness that was cut out of me. Thankfully, most days, the scar reminds me of a God that moved mountains for me because of His great love. His love is more powerful than any darkness in our lives.

He brought me through my battle.
He gives me life to enjoy, even with battle scars and all my other flaws.
My missing breast doesn’t define me, it refined me in the grace Jesus provides me.

We all have challenges in life. It could be addiction, unemployment, loneliness, stress, or chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer recurrences or MS. Our attitude through our challenges defines us. We are never alone through these stages of life. We always have a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on. Just this week I led children in a prayerful meditation. Guiding them to spend time with Jesus in their mind’s eye. Seeing Jesus sitting under a tree, calling us to spend time with Him. Gently listening to our every need. Holding our hand and carrying our burdens right beside us.

Praise to God for giving me the blessing of reaching my 5 year mark! Looking forward to celebrating the 10 year, 15 year, 20 year and so many more.
God is Good! All the Time!
Celebrate today! Celebrate tomorrow! Celebrate Everyday!

Psalm 68:20-21 Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation. God is our saving God for us; the Lord, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.

Daily Prompt: Cake

via Daily Prompt: Cake

What is cake to you?

To me the question should be…Who is cake to you?

My daughter is Cake. She always has been. It was derived from Sweetie Cake, Babycake, Cakiebaby, etc… what stuck was Cake or Cakie. In fact when I call her by her given name she still thinks she is in trouble…and she is over 25!

Cake is kind, giving, caring, compassionate, and passionate. She loves life. She loves to meet people, hike, ski and blog. Cake is a high school social studies teacher and is passionate about sparking in her students a love of learning.

She is sweeter than any bakery cake and is more beautiful than a wedding cake.

Cake is a person to me…my favorite daughter…my sweet Cakie.

Perfectly us, four increases to five!

Today my family expands! ZachKarmen
Our son, Zachary is marrying Karmen!
The joy and love we feel is real…strong…and true.

As parents we have so many hopes, dreams, and desires for our children, yet ultimately the most important one is; we want them to be truly happy and live faith-filled lives. Both our children, Jaclyn and Zachary, have found joy in life with their careers and friends. Now to watch Zach and Karmen grow individually and as a couple these past two years, has been a true blessing for our family.

Our family of four is a typical close, in your business (sometimes), Italian family. We love passionately, care deeply and have been known to have arguments occasionally (infrequently now, but those teen years…Yikes!). We are far from perfect, but we are perfectly us.

I wonder if we our family was a shock to kind, calm, and quiet Karmen, who’s family life and culture is different. Which is true for each one of us comes from a unique and special family. Each of us bring with us a lot of family “stuff”, it makes us who we are. Melding their new lives together, I trust the Lord to  guide Zach and Karmen, to create their own ‘perfectly theirs’ family.

I knew Zachary’s heart was taken the first time I met Karmen. We met Zachary and Karmen at the Museum of Science and Industry the day after Thanksgiving 2013. Watching Zach talk with her, hold her hand, and treat her like the incredible woman she is…was it.

I love Zachary with her. He was comfortable, confident and loving…he was completely himself. I love who Zach is with Karmen, true to himself.

Then in June of 2014 in Venice, Italy on our family vacation Zach talked non-stop about why he loved her and how he missed seeing her. He was head over heels in love, I was no longer the most important woman in my baby’s heart and I was so happy to share his heart for this reason. Seeing how happy he was made this transition much less painful, because you see, he is my baby…the one I held when he was sick or hurting. Yet, now I see the man that the Lord created and am so grateful He allowed me to be part of Zach’s life.

So…
As they begin their marriage, I have to reflect on a life of marriage and the graces received (and lessons learned) through my 32 years and 2 children with my husband, Kevin. This will not be and cannot be a comprehensive guide to marriage, just my reflections as thoughts come to me.

Begin each day with a prayer of praise for all that you have been blessed with.
Put each other before yourself in life, honor and cherish every breath together.
Never lose yourself, be individuals who respect each other.
Always hold hands and snuggle all the time, especially during movies.
Share dinner together, even if it happens to be leftovers or cereal.
Take time to spend alone together.
Make birthdays and your anniversary special each year.
Listen more than you talk.
Forgive easily, especially when it is not easy.
Cheer each other in good times and cling to each other in storms.
Look for rainbows and stop to watch sunsets.
Make financial decisions together and never hide purchases from each other.
The mountains are calling you, spend time breathing in the clean, pure air of God’s beauty.
Stay close to family, they are your biggest supporters and loyal confidants.
Remember you are joined and entwined together as three cords, keeping God in the center will keep you strong.
Pray each night for each other and with each other.
Love always.

All good heart-felt advice from me is solid, I still giggle at my sister Toni’s great marriage advice of “always fight naked and no one will ever run out of the house.”

And know that all our family looking down upon us are smiling and guiding you…and know deep in your hearts that Kevin and I pray for you both and your union.

Welcome to this crazy, passionate, loving family Karmen…we love you!

#KarmenandZach
#ZachandKarmen
#marriage #love #happiness

Grace embraced through the young, pure love and happiness of this day as we welcome Karmen to our family through the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails   1 Cor 13:7

The Power of a Touch

Do we take for granted the hug we receive as we leave the house or holding hands as we walk down the street?Touch

How does touch effect our lives? Do we even notice when someone touches our shoulder or brushes our arm when walking past us? We definitely would notice a touch if we had not had human contact in weeks. We would be keenly aware of the loss of it and excitedly healed when we were able to feel it again.

Those working with the homeless, home-bound or so called “undesirable” of society would tell you a touch of another is very missed. There is something about human interaction that we are made for.

Jesus understood this. My favorite gospel story always has been found in Mark 5. A crowd is pressing against Jesus form all around. His disciples are trying to protect and move him along to Jairus’ home where Jairus’ daughter is sick. Jesus stops abruptly. He felt a power leave him, as if someone had robbed him of his strength. Without him asking God to heal someone, a simple touch healed. Just a touch of His cloak, she did not even get to touch His skin. His apostles think Jesus is crazy, tons of people are touching Him trying to get His attention. But Jesus felt one powerful touch from a woman who had been without human contact for years because of her suffering. How much more powerful would it have been if she reached out and actually touched the leg of Jesus?

A simple touch healed. Do we possess a power to heal with a touch also?

Absolutely!

Be aware of those around you, there are many people that live alone, away from family. It may be weeks since they were embraced or kissed on the cheek…or even high-fived someone. Our children whom live away, our parents whom we have not seen in a while, neighbors who are widowed, co-workers whom are single, those in nursing homes and homeless shelters…and those who are societies lost. We must begin to “see” them and to “heal” them with a simple touch.

Statistics show children whom are not shown affection or are without physical contact at young ages suffer emotionally and intellectually. Our touch is powerful. It can heal and it can help our growth. Parents would never even think about not rocking a child and placing their tiny hands into ours. There is no image more beautiful than a mother snuggling with their child against their chest. Feeling their tiny heart beat and seeing them sleep against the rising and falling of your body’s breath. It can be healing for mothers as well, to know their child is safe and taken care of. Each person needs to see others as they do their own. We are all family…we belong to each other…we are connected in our humanness…we must share in our ability to help each other by a simply hand on a shoulder or embrace.

Yet when we refuse our brothers and sisters in this world, in not reaching out, we weaken ourselves as well as others.FreeHugs

Embrace each other, laugh together, hug one another…not just family, not just those who are nearby, embrace everyone. It doesn’t matter their status in society, or their nationality, or the color of their skin, or their political affiliations…or anything. The only thing that matters is there is someone in the crowd that is so desperate they are crawling on the dirty, dusty ground to reach out to you and just touch a corner of your clothes.

A touch can give someone peace and healing today …”go in peace and be healed.”

Grace embraced through touch…
“If I just touch his clothes, I will get well. She touched his cloak….and she had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble.” Mark 5:28-29

#thepoweroftouch
#gospelofmark
#kindnessmatters
#lovematters

 

 

The Priority of Faith

“It was revealed this week that, for the first time in its history, Harvard University, which had been founded for religious purposes … has admitted a freshman class in which atheists and agnostics outnumber professed Christians and Jews.”

Be Brace

Did that make you pause and read it again? Did it make you sad, mad or upset? I had all those emotions when I read it for the first time.

This statement has been heavily weighing on my heart since I read it on Thursday, September 18th in an article by Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary of Los Angeles. Incoming freshman, not graduating seniors from college. Incoming freshman, those sons and daughter that are leaving our homes for the first time to spread their wings as young adults. Incoming freshman, fresh from our homes where they should have received a foundation of faith.

I’m sure the rest of Bishop’s article was also informative and enlightening, but I still can’t get past the first sentence. Every day since September 18th, when I read those words, I ask myself, what can I do better. I have worked in Faith Formation for 14 years, these atheists and agnostics could have been in homes of families I ministered too. This is not a Catholic thing, it’s a faith thing…or a lack of faith thing.

I have to be part of the solution. I have to help parents provide the tools to foster faith. No matter how I plan and execute faith formation, the 30 hours a year I see the children is not enough to form their faith. As parents we have to model and mentor. We have to set rituals and traditions. We work hard to form our children’s social and moral characteristics. We, together, need to mold their souls. Those souls are yearning for God, where they belong!

Our days of forming our children pass quickly. They grow, it seems, over night. We blink and they are moving out and leaving us, which causes parents to think of what did we not pass on to them.

Faith…at least basic understanding of the Golden Rule, “do unto others they way you want them to do unto you” if practiced daily shows children the Golden Rule in action. We need to bring God into our homes and into our daily lives. No…let me correct that. God is already in our homes and daily lives. We need to open our hearts and recognize His work in our lives. He wants us to know Him and He wants to be in relationship with us.

How do we change that statistic?
How do we take responsibility for making the world a more peaceful place?
How do we instill in our children that God, Allah, I Am, Yahweh, whatever your tradition calls Him, freely give us LOVE?

First we can pray!
I have seen the power of prayer in my own life and in my work. Prayer makes a difference! Any type of prayer and any time for prayer works…just pray.

We can live as examples. Living our lives with our brothers and sisters in peace, compassion, and mercy shows our youth how they should live.

Have a missionary heart. As we encounter people on the streets, in restaurants, at work and in our own neighborhood, share the joy of faith with them. Reach out to those in need and give of your time, give of your talents, and give of your treasure, you will never regret a moment you spent helping others.

Love. Love is the foundation for everything. Share Love. Speak of Love. Show Love. Be Love. priority

I created ways to spread the Love of Christ and promote faith online. Check out my social avenues:
https://www.facebook.com/sjcyc
https://twitter.com/youthsjc

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

I see God’s grace and mission for me…to help others, especially the families I minister to, to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.