Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Let's be more aware of all the choices, situations, twists and turns that brought us to this place right here and now. They May Be Miracles.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Miracles in the Midst of Madness

I've been trying to put this blog together in my brain for a time and can't organize it very well there, so I thought I'd try writing it out and see where it goes.

Let me start by saying how I have always felt about tragedies, especially other people's tragedies. Maybe someone reading this can identify with me...I'm sure many others formed a more mature position on the topic earlier in their lives. Tragedies to me were always kept at a decent distance. I could sympathise but if I tried to empathise that would be too close. I have always been good at praying for people, really praying, for miracles, or for whatever their needs may be, but especially that God's love would surround the people in trouble and that He would provide His grace and His comfort. But selfishly, I was always too afraid of being too close to the pain. I did not want to experience that kind of pain...I was so afraid of the emotional pain that I had to ignore the comfort that I could possibly provide for someone. I know, someone is now seeing a side of me they didn't realize existed. To tell you the truth, I just never wanted to imagine going through what some of my friends have gone through.

That being said, when I spent a lifetime trying to avoid pain, putting up the necessary walls to not have to walk with someone through their time of trouble, you can imagine what happened when the events of this past year culminated with the death of my dad.

So let's just quickly put 2009 "tragedies" into a nice little paragraph sort of like ripping off a band aid. I believe it began with the death of my friend Sue Lorenz from post brain-surgical complications after she had dealt with brain cancer for about 8 months. Then, during the summer, my mother-in-law, Betty, developed a very bad infection with her diverticulitis, went to the hospital for a week while they treated the infection, went home for 2 days only to have to leave in the ambulance again and face surgery to have a portion of her colon removed staying in the hospital for another two weeks. Right around that same time, a friend that I used to work with, Staci Kelts, was diagnosed with untreatable cancer and died within 6 weeks of being diagnosed...a shock to all who knew her causing a lot of pain to even closer friends of mine. The second to the last week of September my dad passed away suddenly. A few weeks after that I was at May's Farm helping out for a day when a woman from a party in a tent out back came running up to Betty and I and said that something was wrong with Lee (Dan's dad). He was laying under his tractor and she thought he wasn't very coherent. I had to call the ambulance for him. It turned out that he fell off his tractor and broke his arm...unfortunate and uncomfortable, yes, but not as bad as it could have been. Just two weeks ago Dan's "Aunt" Mathilde died. Believe it or not I think I'm forgetting something, but I think you get the gist. Please don't think that I want you to think, "poor Dustine," because I happen to know that many other people face much worse circumstances (think of what Sue, Betty, Staci, my dad, Lee and Mathilde had to face)...just wanted you to realize that some tough things have occurred this year causing me to reflect on some important realizations. I think I could have gotten through the other events with little emotional injury (unless something worse had happened with Betty or Lee, which it didn't) but the death of my dad is where I had to really face reality, where I stand with my faith, and what really matters to me. So I am now going to go through the events of my dad's death...for those of you who are like the me I described at the beginning, you may need to stop reading...however, if you do stop reading, I warn you that you will be missing out on first-hand accounts of God's loving hand reaching out to show us that He's very much here among us, gracing us with His miracles in the midst of madness.

Basic truth #1: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
The day after Easter, 2009, I drove my mom and dad down to North Carolina where they would be staying with my sister while we tried to sell their house in Marion. Together we had decided that it would be too challenging for them to try to get it fixed up and ready every time a realtor wanted to show it to somebody. Imagine having to move out of the home you lived in for over 30 years quite quickly and suddenly knowing you would never live there again. I know it took some adjustment for both of them, but my dad struggled with it especially. He did not want to move out of their house. They were making the best of it in North Carolina and adjusting.
Sometime in August I started thinking about the May's Fall Festival at the farm which starts toward the end of September and goes through the end of October. I asked my mom and dad if they would come up for the month of October to watch my kids on the weekends so that I could help out at the farm. They agreed and since my younger sister's bridal shower would be mid-September they would come up that weekend and just stay until the end of October.

After a very nice bridal shower which everyone, including my dad, attended my sisters left and went back to their homes. There was work to do that following week on the farm to get ready for the festival, lots of work actually because Betty had her surgery and things had fallen behind there. So my parents lept right into watching the kids that week as I went to the farm.

On Wednesday when I got home my dad asked me if I'd take him to the emergency room because he was having really bad pain in his mid-section. I took him to Mercy at about 8:00 that night. It was a very busy night. We waited a long, long, long time to get in. There were people in very bad shape and I kept praying for them and kept saying to God, "Thank you that Pop only has stomach pain and it seems to be subsiding. Please bring your blessing upon these people who are suffering in so many ways." They had that show "Grey's Anatomy" on the television in the waiting room, which I can't stand...I can't stand any of those shows...they're too stressful! I wanted something funny on, but it was out of my control so I tried not to pay attention. After spending the evening in the emergency room, his EKG coming out fine, they found in the CT scan that he was passing a kidney stone and said that's where the pain was coming from. They said he also had a bladder infection. They gave him an antibiotic pill, and a shot of vicodin, and sent him home with a bottle of vicodin and a prescription for an antibiotic at about 3:00 am.

Thursday, I went to drop Pop's prescription off at the pharmacy. Again, a very long line and when they did get to me I found out it was a new guy and he was slightly confused with the computer. He said they were backed up and it would be ready later that day. I went to the farm. I called home and mom said pop was sleeping and the kids were fine. I worked late and did not get to pick up the prescription. When I got home I found out that Pop had been dizzy and had fallen. Mom said he had bad pain a couple of times during the day and she gave him the vicodin for that. I told her he was probably having a bad reaction to the vicodin and to stop giving it to him. Meanwhile she read the side effects of the antibiotic and it said it could cause dizzy spells and falling so she did not want to give him the prescription. I picked it up anyway on Friday. On Friday she called pop's urologist from Marion and he agreed she should not give him that antibiotic and called in a different one and also told her NOT to give him any more vicodin, that he should not be taking that stuff. He was still dizzy, had a dry mouth, and fell on Friday. I still thought it was a side effect of the vicodin. Saturday morning before I went to help on the farm he fell again and was in a position that he could not stand up. I helped him was very challenging, he could not help himself hardly, but we got him up. I asked him what the problem was and he said he just needed to sleep more. I told him that I thought this was all a reaction to the vicodin and to sleep it off. So he got back into bed and went back to sleep. I went and picked up the new antibiotic prescription on my way to the farm, and called during the day. Mom said he was up and around and seemed to be doing better. He was using her walker, but at least he was walking around a little. We got home before the kids were in bed on Saturday night and I checked on him while Grace was waiting for me to take her upstairs. Mom said he was having trouble holding the water cup because he was shaking so bad, and was still dizzy...he told me he was so thirsty. I went to the internet and looked up vicodin side effects. These were all listed as side effects and it also said that vicodin was rarely fatal. So I put my fears to rest, I told Grace that Grandpa just wasn't feeling well and that he'd be much better in the morning (I didn't want her to be scared of him or the situation) and to give him and grandma a hug and kiss goodnight. I told mom that the computer said that his symptoms were all listed as side effects of vicodin. She hadn't given him any for a couple of days, but we just figured that with all the fluid he was retaining in his ankles (he had been for a couple of weeks) that it wasn't metabolizing quickly.

At 3:30 am Mom called up the stairs, "Dan, Dustine, pop needs you! He fell and can't get up." We ran downstairs ready to help him up. We got there and his eyes were closed...well...mostly closed...I could see a little of his eyes through a crack in the bottom of his lids. But I thought he fell asleep there. So I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at him. Dan asked if he fell asleep. I said that I guessed so. I tried to wake him up, said his name, reached down and shook him. No response. We looked at each other. Was something wrong? None of us knew. Dan asked if something was wrong. I didn't know. I shook him some more. I slapped his face. He was good and warm. I thought for an instant that was a good sign. I felt under his nose and looked at his belly and did not feel or see breathing. I knew I needed to give him breath. I held his nose and tilted his head back and gave him breath. I did it again. I did it again. He took one big breath on his a struggling breath. I thought for an instant he was fine. Then I saw he wasn't breathing. So I gave him a few more breaths and decided that although I did not know how to check his pulse, that I was sure I should do cpr. I couldn't had been so long since I was trained and I never had to really do it. I went to the center of his chest and just did 20, sometimes 25 (I couldn't remember) pumps. In between I would give him a breath. Meanwhile, Dan had called 911. They showed up fairly quickly. When I saw them come in I kept going until someone came over to him. I stood up and just shook my hands and arms and had no words...I just wanted them to take over and do it right. We were all in shock and didn't really know what they were saying or doing. We all really, really, really thought that he would be fine. Pop had been through a lot of close calls in his life and always made it through.

They would take him to Mercy Hospital. When we got there they lead us to a room. I told the nurse to call a priest. She never did. A doctor came to us after several minutes and told us that it didn't look good for him. They were able to restart his heart a few times but they couldn't keep it going. If he continued to crash they would not be able to bring him back eventually. He left to go back to him and not too long after that came to let us know that he had passed on.

Miracle #1:"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Pop got to be with the entire family at Dea's bridal shower one week prior to his passing. He would have wanted nothing more than to be with his whole family together.

Miracle #2:"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Had this happened in North Carolina it would have been so much harder and so much more confusing to deal with the funeral and all the details of things you have to take care of after such a thing happens. Had it happened in Marion with Mom and Pop living by themselves, Mom could not have dealt with this all on her own. I did not ask for this. I did not want it. I wish it would not have happened at all. But it is a miracle that it happened in Ohio and with family who could support my mom.

Miracle #3: The very first thing Danelle did when she walked in the door after driving for 8 hours from North Carolina was to come straight over to me, sit down next to me, and look me straight in the eyes. She said, "Dustine, this was not your fault. You did nothing wrong. You took good care of mom and pop. It was just his time. I thought I was seeing signs of it while they were staying with me and I was preparing for it to happen down there. It was just his time." I was torturing myself that entire day going over the details in my mind. All the "What if's" - what if I knew how to do cpr the right way - what if I had taken him to the hospital - what if I ever paid attention to those shows like Grey's Anatomy...maybe I would have known what to do - what if I would have stayed home instead of going to the farm - on and on. How did Danelle know I needed to hear that? It still took a good month for me to stop blaming myself, but her words would echo in my mind...they were words that sustained me.

Miracle #4: About 3 weeks after his passing I was a mess. Couldn't sleep for a few nights. I decided to go see a woman who does reike to see if she could help center me and calm me down. After the reike treatment she asked me if I had a conversation with my dad about someone not feeling adequate either him or me. That long night in the E.R. he had told me that he felt so inadequate as a father and did I feel like he was as bad a father as he feels he was. She said that she was getting a message about someone being inadequate and she said that she should tell me, "you did the best you could." I told pop that night that he did the best he could at the time with the circumstance given him and that he was fine...that we're all fine. She said he was using that conversation to let me know it was him and that he was telling me that I did the best I could with the circumstances given to me. She said that he said to look in his blue plaid shirt pocket for something (later mom had told me that it was one of the first things she did and that shirt was the one that he had all his pictures of his family in). She said that something else was wrong with Pop, that if we had saved him or taken him to the hospital sooner they may have found it, it would have been a long, painful, road for my mom and she could not have withstood it. She said that he needed to pass this way. It was his time. After this she gave me some advice. She said that I was acting like I had some sort of choice or power over what God had determined from before time started. She said I had a sort of power complex and that I needed to realize that some things are out of my control. If God wanted to take him there was no way I was going to be able to stop that. These words were the other miracle words I needed to hear to let myself off the hook.

Well, there were more blessings in all of this. But I fear I've really run away with this blog. I'm not sure it turned out the way I had hoped, the blog I mean, but I guess it turned out the way it turned out. Maybe I'll be able to pull my other thoughts together for a follow up after Christmas sometime. I think we'll all be far too busy for me to sit and try to do this again until then.

God bless everyone who reads this and have a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fond Memories

My sister, Danelle, asked me to post to my blog the eulogy we wrote and presented at our father's funeral. I told her I would do it when I thought I could handle looking at it again and having it there every time I went into my blog. I guess I'm at that point now. I have some other things to say about all the events leading up to his death and things that have happened since, but I'll do that another time. For now, here's the eulogy. It's missing the opening poem that I wrote to him when I was in Jr. High (he had it laminated and carried it in his brief case wherever he went and we found it still there along with his medications, pictures, and anything he deemed important to carry in his briefcase). I don't have the poem, but if I get it I'll post it another time.


Opening: Poem (Dustine)

Let us share a little bit with you about our dad, “papa” or “pop” as we affectionately called him. Many of you who knew him before we were even born would agree that he was always ornery and enjoyed making people smile and laugh. He loved to introduce himself as “Dennis The Menus,” and anyone who knew him would quickly agree. He had a corny joke up his sleeve for any occasion. His favorite jokes with us when we were little included “I can tell a train just came through here…want to know how? It left its tracks!” and if we asked how to spell a word he’d get us to say, “Pop how do you spell it?” and then he’d say, “ I – T!”

He loved to strike up conversation with people. His witty personality was the foot in the door. No waitress was safe when he went to a restaurant. He was a charmer – he would brighten their day with the twinkle in his deep blue eyes and his great big smile.

During Mom and Pop’s second visit to their new church parish down in North Carolina there was a baptism of a small child and after the baptism Pop went up to them and gave the child a rosary. Her father was gratefully taken aback and told Pop that he didn’t know him yet and wanted to know his name. Pop responded with, “Oh, I’m Dennis the Menus!” At that moment the priest was walking by and commented, “I don’t know about the Dennis part, but I sure do know about the Menus!” – this after meeting him only once before.

Speaking of rosaries, Pop was known everywhere as “The Rosary Man.” He always had a rosary with him to pray and he always had a rosary to give away. He never knew who he would be giving them to, but somehow, many times over, years later, a stranger would approach him and say, “You gave me/my son/my daughter a rosary years ago and I/he/she still has it and it really affected/or changed our lives. I just had to thank you.” Pop would respond that it wasn’t him, but our Blessed Mother guided him as to who to give it to.

We never knew who would be at our holiday dinners because Pop would invite less fortunate, or shut-ins, or people who had no family to be with to come to our house for dinner. After the dinner was over he would take the left-overs to shut-ins.

A man of many names, in the Nursing Homes where he and Mom did nursing home ministry for over 25 years he was known as “The Candy Man.” He began nursing home ministry with the St. Vincent DePaul Society and they would deliver diabetic candy to the nursing homes. So when he walked through the door they would yell out, “here comes our Candy Man!” and the name just stuck with him throughout the years.

He was a peaceful man with a calming presence. Children would flock to him. Anyone could put a screaming baby in his arms and the baby would calm right down and go to sleep. He could also find a song for almost any thought or word that someone uttered. He loved to just break out in song, usually very softly.

We never doubted how much he loved us or how proud he was of us. He told us regularly. His shirt pocket did not hold pens. It was overflowing with love. His love for his family. He held in his shirt pocket photos of his children and grandchildren…some of them even in small frames. His family was the most important thing to him and he never failed to remind us how much he loved us. He often left us phone messages just to say that he loved us. One time when Danelle was on the phone with him talking about coming home for the week visiting from college, he said to her, “I’m sad because in a week from now you’re already going to be leaving me.” He shared similar experiences with all of us.

His relationship with his grandchildren was precious. Grace, the first grandchild, would order him to come sit on the ground and play with her when she was just 2 and 3 years old. If he would start to sing a song, as he loved to do, she would point at him and say, “No Grandpa, no singing!” and he would continue a little to tease her or to finish his chorus, but he would obey her commands. He found much joy in pleasing his grandchildren.

In 2002 after his bout with Guillian Barre he went from perfect 20/20 vision to almost blind. So Mom would read to him in the evenings. It was the best part of his life – he didn’t care about television or anything else – he just loved the sound of Mom’s voice and wanted her to keep reading to him – even when she would get hoarse, he just wanted her to keep on reading. Mom and Pop were never separated from one another – you never saw one without the other. Mom was the love of his life, and he was hers.
One time Dea went to the movies with Mom and Pop and they sent her ahead to buy the tickets. While she was buying the tickets the people behind the ticket booth started commenting, “Oh look at that cute old couple walking in holding hands! Aren’t they just the cutest thing you ever saw! They’re still in love…I hope I find love like that someday…come look at this!”

These are only a few things we can tell you about our Pop. This world doesn’t have enough words to summarize the depth of our love for him.
Right now we can only imagine all the ornery things he’s doing up in heaven…heaven will never be the same now that he’s there.

Ending: Oh My Papa Song (Dea)

(Dea sang "Oh My Papa" to him every year on his birthday)

One other note that I don't think is included in the eulogy: He often called each of us (almost daily) hoping not to actually reach us but to get our voicemail so he could sing, "I just called, to say, I love you. I just called, to say how much I care..." We all have it saved either on our cell phones or answering machines. I have not had the courage to listen to my recordings yet, but at least I have them. I also have him wishing me a happy birthday last year on my birthday. My birthday is next week so I may just have to listen to his message...might be a good gift.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Enjoy the Ride

I had to go to the mall the other day to finish getting parts of Grace's school uniform. I took the kids with me, of course, and as we entered the mall from the Sears side we approached mechanical rides that require .75 or 1.00 to ride. Maggie ALWAYS asks if she can ride on the rides when we go into the mall...and SOMETIMES she gets to. This day was no different. I told Maggie and Grace that if they were super duper extra good in the mall that they would get to ride something on the way out.

Well, they were particularly good this kidding...and I really should have let them ride 2 or 3 rides for as good as they were, but I told them one and they had to agree on the ride. Well, they had agreed on a ride and at the last minute I saw the Cedar Point roller coaster ride and convinced them that they should ride that one - that it would be more fun. So they both got on to the Cedar Point ride which Grace was more than excited about since she's now totally into roller coasters! Maggie was willing just because it was a ride.

The ride started and immediately Maggie started pointing at another ride that she wanted to do next. I told her to watch the movie screen that she was missing this ride and that she does not get to do another ride. She continued to point to a different ride that she wanted to do next. I told her that there will be no more rides and to have fun on this one. She kept saying "but I want that one next Mom." The entire ride I couldn't convince her to just enjoy this one...all she could think about was getting on another one.

So of course to me this whole incident was an analogy between the life of a 2 year old and life in general. I couldn't help but stand there and think about how often I miss the enjoyment of the "ride" I'm on because I'm constantly thinking about the next thing I want or how much better things would be "if". Here I was trying to convince Maggie to concentrate on where she was at the moment, knowing all along that this is a challenge even for a grown up.

Although ambition is a good thing, it's nothing unless we have a great attitude about present circumstances. No matter where we're going or what we're trying to achieve, if we get there with an attitude of ungratefulness and dissatisfaction then we lose the enjoyment of the ride. And most likely we won't even appreciate our accomplishment either. Attitude is everything.

I felt sorry for Maggie because when she got off that ride I could tell she didn't even feel like she had been on a ride. She missed it. Granted, it's not the ride she had chosen...but that's life too, isn't it? It was still a ride.

Although there are many more things I wish to accomplish in my life, I am so grateful to be home with my children and enjoying my time with them for now. There are days that I want to pull my hair out because I feel like I need a break from it...but those are the days that I find a friend or family member to go somewhere with me and leave the kids with Dan. Dan and I have had times when we can get away too if we find a babysitter. All in all I would not trade these years for anything. When I look back someday I have a feeling that I will not remember the things that bother me now with not having two incomes (such as not being able to give the gifts I'd like to give to friends and family...or not being able to get new clothes on a whim) - but I will remember all the times and moments with my kids. If only I was good at recording those moments! I think for now I'm just going to enjoy the ride I'm opportunities arise I can embrace those, but certainly my mind and heart are fixed on the moment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just A Happy Thought

As a youth minister there are many moments when your heart just wants to overflow with joy - sometimes just being part of the youth ministry community, sometimes a great spiritual moment, sometimes when you witness the students receiving some spiritual realization, sometimes when you witness students and adults giving time and talents unselfishly...just so many good things come from being a part of ministering to youth. I miss the ministry and the people every day. However, I have so so so many happy memories where my heart felt like it was overflowing with joy. There is one time I was thinking about today that I want to share.

Every year deaneries for which my parishes were a part of would put together pretty much a program every month for our students to attend and get to know other kids from the other churches around our area. In fact, they still do, but I'm speaking as in the past because it is the area I used to live in. We called our area the Back To Heartland area and there is a history behind that name which you can ask me about another time.

The Back To Heartland area would put together a program for high school students always on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend called the Back To Heartland High School Gathering. The last year I helped to plan this event, 2008, I wanted to add a little "theatrics" to the ceremony parts of the weekend...anyone who knows me knows that I'm sort of into the "theatrics". So I put together a group of high school students who met with me for a couple of months prior to the gathering, picked a few songs that I wanted them to act out skits to, and had them help me choreograph skits to those songs. They would perform those "song skits" during different ceremonies over the weekend.

One of the songs they performed a skit to was called "Here I Am" by John Angotti (if I knew how to attach the song to this blog I would do that for you, but alas I can not figure out how to do some things on here yet). The song, in short, is a prayer to God telling Him, as the chorus goes, "Here I am, Here I am, Here I am on my own free will. Send me, Lord, to do your will." The verses speak a little about our fears and confusions and how we need to turn to God and focus on what He sent us here to do. So in the skit the students and I decided that we would have one of them wear a robe and portray Jesus. There would be a student at the beginning who is sort of distracted and a little weary, she would open up her bible when the lyrics cued her to do so, then when the chorus broke out into, "Here I am..." she would raise her hands and look to heaven and the Jesus character would come over and take her hand and lead her to the side to wait for his directions. Another student in the second verse does a similar scenario.

At the end of the song, we used the live version, a choir breaks out into an amazing chorus of, "Here I am, Here I am, Here I am, Here I am to do your will...Here I am, Here I am, Here I am, Here I am to do your" and we had the Jesus figure go in front of the crowd of students where we planted the rest of our skit students in the front and they were to raise a hand (as if to say, "pick me") and Jesus would pick them to come do his will too. Before they did the skit I told "Jesus" that there could be a couple of others from the audience who would raise their hands too and to go ahead and pick them to come up too.

"Jesus" went to the crowd when the choir broke out in the chorus and began choosing our planted students. Unexpectedly, student after student after student after student kept raising their hands as the choir sang, "Here I am, Here I am, Here I am, Here I am to do your will..." and "Jesus" kept pointing and waving them up. Tears just streamed from my eyes. My heart was overflowing with joy. They were hearing the song and wanting to stand up and show that they were here and ready to do God's will. Out of 150 or so people in the audience I would say about half ended up at the front. I wish now that we had planned some amazing climactic ending...but it was simply a girl sitting alone at a table with a cafeteria tray that they were to go sit and be with. God's will is that simple sometimes, though.

What do we know about God's will? Mostly what the world would call the "Golden Rule" - "Do unto others as you would have done to do." Sometimes it takes a lot, we have to step out of our comfort zone, to accomplish this. Sometimes it's pretty easy.

As for the ones who did not raise their hands or stand and go to the front, I am sure in their hearts they were there. How many times are we somewhere in our hearts before we are there physically? There are many reasons a person may not have wanted to stand and go to the front...they were afraid of looking weird, they were enjoying the show, their friend wouldn't go with them, they were comfortable and didn't want to move, they were praying the song in their mind and did not think they needed to physically go to the front...lots of things. Just so, there are lots of things that keep us from standing up in real life and doing God's will - whatever that is for you or for me. Sometimes something pulls at us so strongly that we just know we are suppose to do it, but we are afraid of looking weird, or it is not convenient for us, or we said a prayer for the situation that someone else would take care of it...

Let's create more moments in our lives that make our hearts want to overflow with joy. To do that we have to stand up and go do God's will. Whatever that is for you or for me. Certainly if we do more and resist less then we will find ourselves in many moments of joy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Strange Occurrences

Have you ever...(love that game by the way) -

Have you ever had something strange or inexplicable happen to you in your life? If so, I'd love to hear about it...I love TRUE stories about strange occurrences. Why? Because it's so hard for people to deny that there is a higher power at work behind the scenes...when things are inexplicable we are forced to consider FAITH. For some of us faith comes easy - it has just been ingrained in us and we have practiced it our whole lives. For others, to just simply CONSIDER faith in God is an awkward step out of a box or brick wall that has been built up around them, and to see and hear about otherwise strange occurrences are a wonderful means for them to ponder the "what if".

My sisters and I have a great relationship today - in my opinion. Sometimes we had a good relationship while we were growing up too. Sometimes we wished we had a better relationship with each other - but none of us can deny that we cared about each other no matter how much we fought or ignored each other. Sometimes we were just awful to each other, though. Sometimes we said mean things, many times we screamed things at each other that probably didn't even make any sense but we just wanted to be louder than the other. Sometimes things got physical and we'd wrestle or hit or push. This strange occurrence happens to be one of those physical times.

When we were old enough there were times when my parents would leave for a couple or few hours for a meeting at church or other commitments and they would put my older sister in charge. My older sister is 11 months older than I am and sometimes I really resented that she was "in charge" especially since she seemed to milk it for all it was worth. Really she only needed to be sitting for our younger sister, but she was told that she was in charge and that's just the way it was. You know, I'm talking like Danelle, my older sister, and I were probably in high school by this time and Dea, my younger sister, would have been 4 or so years younger than us.

On this occasion my parents walked out the door and they didn't even make it out of the driveway when Danelle looked at me and said, "I have a really bad headache tonight and I don't want to hear a sound out of you. I have a lot of homework and I can't have any distractions. Not a sound out of you." I mean, come on, tell me not to make a sound and what do you think I'm going to do? Really? Really? What would you do? Who out there would not make a sound when someone, your sister, challenged you not to make a sound? What do you think I did? "Peep." "Tweet." "Psssst." "*cough*." "*sneeze*." "*tap,tap,tap*." "Peep." "do,do,do,do,do,la,la,la,la,la...."

She says, "Ok that's it..." and she races toward me and tries to - I think she may have been trying to choke me, but I threw my legs up to defend myself and so it was like she was trying to get to me, kind of pulling my hair and such, and I'm kicking her back with my legs and feet...ya, we're in a full-fledged fight. Dea was in her room and hears us screaming and fighting each other downstairs and comes to the stairs and is shouting at us to stop - we were scaring her. It didn't take long and suddenly...

"Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring." The phone began ringing. Not the normal ring when someone was calling, but a pattern of like 4 rings at a time. We stopped fighting and I answered the phone. "Hello?" "Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring." The phone continued to ring even though I picked the receiver up and answered it. Danelle answered the kitchen phone. "Hello," she said. "Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring...," the phone continued to ring even though we had two phones off the hook. Danelle told Dea to go answer the phone upstairs. Dea answered the phone upstairs. "Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring...," the phones all continued to ring for another minute while we all stood holding the phones off the hook.

The ringing finally stopped. "Wow," I said, "that was really weird." Danelle looked at me and said, "I'm not through with you," and she charged at me. Again, she was trying to pull my hair and whatever else and all I can remember is defending myself by pushing her away with my legs and feet. Dea was screaming at the stairs for us to stop. She was crying.

"Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring." I answered the phone again. "Hello?" I said. "Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring...," the phone continued. "Hello," Danelle answered the kitchen phone. "Ring, ring, ring, ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring...," the phone continued. "Dea, go upstairs and answer the other phone," we said. Dea answered and the ringing continued another minute, all the phones off the hook once again. Danelle looked at me and said, "I think we better stop." "Yeah," I said. "Are you ok?" she asked me. "Yeah," I said, "are you ok?" "Well, you were really hurting my stomach while you were kicking me back," she said. I apologized, I didn't know I was hurting her. I didn't antagonize her the rest of the evening and probably rarely after that. She might disagree, but I don't recall many, if any, incidents after that one.

Why was this particular fight stopped? We'll never know. We're pretty sure our angels were frustrated with us that day. I hope and pray that God and the angels intervene in your lives when you need them and save you from any harm.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More Aware of Gifts

My dad almost died once.

Well, he actually had several occasions over his lifetime where he almost died. He had heart surgery when he was 16 years old - to date he's the oldest living person to have that particular surgery. I'm told he would have died without that was experimental at the time. He's had some other close calls, but I'm privy to only one for now.

In February of 2002 I received a call that my mom had taken my dad to the hospital. I was told not to worry or get excited because they didn't know if it was anything serious - they just wanted to make sure he was ok because he had been feeling some numbness in his hand and arm. Something just didn't feel right about the call so I left work to go to the hospital. He had been undergoing some tests that morning including tests to check for stroke and heart attack, they would do a ct scan and a spinal tap too. The numbness kept getting worse and was slowly spreading to other areas but they could not find anything wrong with him.

My older sister who was living in North Carolina thought the whole thing sounded strange too, so she booked a flight into Columbus immediately and I went to pick her up at the airport later that day. By the time we got back my dad was almost completely paralyzed. My younger sister was there too, so all of us were witnessing this deterioration. I really can't recall the timetable of seemed to all move so slow and so fast all at once. No one could determine what was happening to him. My husband arrived sometime that evening. Well into the night he was not only unable to move, but soon became completely incoherent.

The doctors were baffled and finally told us that sometimes a body just decides to give up and there is nothing they can do about it. A nurse came into the special waiting room that they took us all to and told us that we should all prepare to go and say our final good-byes to him. We each went and took our turns with him. The nurse had asked if there was a minister or priest we would like to have present and she called the priest from St. Mary to come over. Meanwhile we all sat in the little waiting room and prayed...together. We prayed that we were not ready for him to leave yet, to please spare his life, to help the doctors figure out what the problem is, to help the doctors save him. The priest came and gave him his final blessings.

A visiting doctor came up to where they were holding/treating him. He was told what was going on with him and he said he had seen something like this at the hospital he works at. (My details as to what they did are very foggy now). He said they had performed a plasma transfer (or something like that) and it stabilized the patient. So expediently they did this procedure. I think it must have been like 2:00 am by this time.

Just like that, after a day and night of horror, fear, uncertainty, and continuous prayer, my dad was stabilized.

At this point they wanted to life-flight him to Riverside Hospital in Columbus since they could not diagnose him in Marion. Upon arrival to Riverside he was quickly diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome. He was in ICU for about a week. This portion of time was extremely painful for him because I guess the virus attacks the nerves before rendering them useless. Then they moved him to a long-term care floor because it would take a few months for each part of his body to get feeling back. Unfortunately a couple of big mistakes were made by a staff person on a couple of different occasions which set his recovery time back due to complications. He was in the hospital for 8 months. Fortunately, though, he recovered....mostly. There was another man, a minister in his 40's, in the hospital at the same time with Guillain Barre Syndrome as well. He had many more complications than my dad and last I had heard was in a wheel chair for up to a year after his experience.

I can't say that my dad ever recovered 100% but I can say that he recovered and was able to walk and talk again.

We're eternally grateful to God for sending the visiting doctor to my dad in the nick of time to give him the plasma transfer that saved his life. We know this to be a miracle and have since become more aware of all the gifts that we are given.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To Burt's Bees, or Not To Burt's Bees (little miracles part IV)

I have three beautiful children. Grace is the oldest and will soon be 6, Magdalene (Maggie) is 2 1/2 and Brady was born in September of 2008 and is now approaching his 9 month mark. Grace is your classic first-born child...she just has to have rules for everything, especially for Maggie, and she is very concerned about making sure she does everything right and perfect. Grace is also very sweet and loving and very sensitive as well. Maggie, well, she's just concerned about being 2. I have been saying since she was approaching 2 that she is the ultimate 2 year old...she was born to be 2. I'm still not sure what will happen when she's 3 and even older. Maggie has such a pleasant personality and is very laid back. When she is trying my patience I just shake my finger at her and say, "You are such a two year old!" and she thinks that's hilarious. Brady's personality is just starting to shine and he's waaaaaayyyy different from the girls even as a baby! He just goes after everything and is VERY demanding and wants what he wants and wants it right now...and for now at least, he is very much a "mamma's boy." I never had to worry about Grace and Maggie getting into things all that much...Maggie more than Grace, but still not bad...but Brady, he's only 9 months and already crawling into places in the house that the girls never cared about.

Brady was pretty much born with sensitive skin. All babies are, but he's had a few issues with his skin. First we were dealing with a bad case of cradle cap that covered the entire back of his head - I guess that was around the time he was like 3 or 4 months. And he also would get little spots of eczema behind his ears and other places on his body. About the time he was 6 month old he came down with RSV so we gave him the breathing treatments when necessary and also steroids for his lungs. A few days after his last steroid treatment his face broke out with a horrible case of eczema. We have been dealing with this extremely bad eczema ever since then.

First, we followed the advice of our pediatrician and made sure we washed all of our clothes in baby detergent (we only wish during all this time we could have convinced the entire rest of the world to wash their clothes in baby detergent too so that no matter who held him wouldn't cause him to break out). Also following our pediatrician's advice we used the cetaphil soap and lotion on him...which in reading up on eczema on the internet is a widely supported brand for the condition. We also went to the dermatologist who walked in the room, looked at him, and imediately asked, "Does eczema run in your family?" He said that it was hereditary and may or may not be caused by allergies. He prescribed steroid cream and also some high-strength antibacterial cream because the cracked and bleading areas were cause for concern for staff infection.

I had read on the internet that although steroid creams are effective for treating eczema, they should be used sparingly because continued use of steroid creams can cause other and worse skin problems due to thinning out the skin. So the steroid was the only thing helping him...any time I would use the steroid the eczema would go away for 2 - 3 days, but then come back with a vengence on the 3rd or 4th day. Frustrating!! I did not want to continue using steroid to treat him, but needed to find other options.

I took him to a woman for a reike treatment and that actually helped calm the swelling...the redness went away that day. This woman who did the reike told me to try udder cream with him and actually udder cream seemed to give him less of a reaction than anything else I had used, so I continued to use the udder cream from then on.

We then took him to a homeopathic doctor. She believed she could come up with a remedy to cure it completely. She did not like the idea of steroid cream because it just supressed the eczema and didn't help to cure it. She thought that Brady might have a milk allergy and said that we needed to pick one thing to feed him (I was both nursing and supplementing him) so to stop nursing since I did not have enough to feed him. Also, to take him off of regular formula and to give him goats milk, soy formula or rice formula and to not feed him anything else until she could determine if it was a milk allergy. I chose soy formula. Brady broke out into full body hives from the soy formula. Not a good choice. I switched him back to his regular formula and called the homeopathic doctor to tell her. She said she really wanted him on goats give him goats milk. I told Dan and his reaction was, what's the difference between goats milk and cows milk?! If he has a milk allergy why would it matter which animal it came from? So I did some more reading on the internet. Turns out goats milk is NOT a good thing to give to an infant AT ALL! Even a goats milk company trying to sell goats milk has a large exerpt on their page that says, NEVER under any circumstances should goats milk be given to an infant. Everything I read said that if your infant has a milk allergy you should give it the hypoallergenic formula. So that's what I did. We did this for 2 weeks. No change...Brady still was in a constant state of extreme eczema and he was hungry and crying ALL the time because his appetite was too big for a formula only diet.

Dan and I did not take Brady back to the homeopathic doctor, and I started feeding him other foods one at a time again to check for reactions. I do think he may have a sensitivity to wheat, but that's another story another time.

I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to use steroid cream on him every 3 or 4 days apart to keep the eczema from being too cracked and bleading...and that was just how it was going to have to be. I would use udder cream, and I had also read on the internet to not wash him with soap, but instead to wash him in baby oil so that his skin could hold moisture better. So I started washing him in baby oil, slathering udder cream on him, and periodically used steroid cream.

Well, one day Dan's mom told me that she had been speaking with one of Dan's cousins and she had a similar problem with one of her kids. She said she had never used steroid cream because she didn't want to, but basically she eventually used Burt's Bees lotion on his eczema and it disappeared and never came back. I said that maybe I'd try that because I was willing to try anything...and felt I had tried anything so far. So I basically decided that if I came across Burt's Bees somewhere I would pick up a bottle of lotion and give it a try. It kind of left my mind after that.

Last Wednesday I went to Amish Country shopping with my mother-in-law. When she met up with us she noticed that Brady was pretty swollen and red that day and he was in for a full flair-up by the end of the day...I knew I'd have to use steroid by the next day. She mentioned to me again what Dan's cousin had said about Burt's Bees and I said, "well we'll be in Amish Country today, I'm sure I'll see some of that somewhere...I'll give it a try if I find some."

We shopped several furniture stores in the morning looking for a deacon's bench for her mud room. We decided to stop for lunch and then we would go to several other furniture stores that we had passed by on the way to lunch. When we got to the restaurant there happened to be a lot of people waiting in line in front of us, so I took Maggie to the bathroom and she held Brady. The people behind her started playing with Brady and struck up a conversation with her because of his eczema. They had a grandchild that had it really bad and I should try washing him in goats milk (ugggh...goats milk again!). They lived close by and they assured us that this was the best Amish restaurant around and worth the wait...the Amish even eat at this Amish restaurant. My mother-in-law asked them where the best place would be to get a deacon's bench. They decided Slabach's was the best and explained how to get there.

After we ate we started for Slabach's furniture. We went down the road, but then missed our turn and knew it right away. So we were looking for a place to turn around and go back, and found another furniture store where we could turn around...I said, "well since it's a furniture store and we're here, we might as well go in." So we did. It turned out to be a very high-end furniture store and they did not have a deacon's bench anywhere in the store...but the woman was very pleasant and wanted to take my mother-in-law through her catalog. So I walked Maggie and Brady through the store and Maggie had to sit on all the chairs and open drawers to all the dressers and desks. I was about to take them outside to walk around outside and Maggie noticed a tiny display of lotions that she wanted me to put on her hands (she loves lotion). It was Burt's Bees on a bottom shelf down on the floor level of a book case. There were maybe 5 Burt's Bees products altogether. One of the products was called Baby Bees Lotion and it said it was for sensitive skin. I figured this was the one I needed. Hmmm, I had forgotten that I was kind of looking for this. Fancy that.

Listen, we weren't even planning on going to this furniture store. They didn't even have what Betty was looking for. I was waisting time with my kids...and here, after making a wrong turn and stopping at the place we were just going to turn around in, I find this Baby Bee product that has been reduced to half price because they were not going to sell Burt's Bees products there anymore. Now, if I had known that it was going to completely cure Brady of the eczema on his face...that he would have normal beautiful baby skin on his face just by using Baby Bees lotion on his face...don't you think I would have bought every single solitary bottle of that lotion that they had left??? Yes, I'm telling you here and now that nothing else worked for this child...a complete and total random series of events led me to the correct lotion. I may never have even picked that lotion given a choice in another store...but it's really all they had left at this store. Why would a furniture store even have Burt's Bees products ... on a bottom shelf ... of a book case ... down by the floor where no one is looking....except my 2 year old who thought she wanted me to put some samples of lotion on her hands?

I put the lotion on him as soon as we got to the car. Before we ever reached home that day his face was cleared. It still needed to heal a little, but it was cleared. It has been 4 days and he has not had a flair-up. I have not used steroid at all. Only the Burt's Bees Baby Bees Lotion. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...but it looks like we found his cure.

I'm not the only one that miracles happen to either, by the way! I'm sure you have a story to share!!! Leave a comment if you have a story!

By the way...the furniture store that those people told us to go to, "Slabach's," we did end up finding it and the store had so many deacon's benches that she could barely decide what to get! And they were very reasonably priced too. Now Dan wants one and I guess I'm going to have to try to find it again...who knows where we'll end up the next time we take a wrong turn!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not So Much a Miracle as a Word of Wisdom

I was commissioned to do a talk one time on a Cursillo weekend (a retreat that helps to enrich a person's faith). My talk was supposed to focus on the importance of reading books, watching movies, listening to music and even doing internet research on or about your faith...looking into God and faith in order to strengthen your faith.

While preparing my talk I somehow found myself centering in on the story of Mary and Martha in the bible...where Mary was franticaly waiting on Jesus and becoming frustrated with Martha because all she would do was SIT at the feet of Jesus and just listen. Martha wouldn't lift a finger to help Mary and Mary was stuck trying to make everything perfect for their guest all by herself. Jesus finally pipes up and says to so many words...calm down! Martha is doing the right thing! Just be still and listen!

It must have been a message that someone...or many of us...on that particular weekend needed to hear because it turned out that several other people who had talks to prepare used that story and message as well...that we need to listen more and talk less...take time to be still and look into the things that can help us hear and understand Jesus more.

Before a person gives a talk on a Cursillo weekend s/he waits in a prayer chapel where people pray with and for them. There is quiet time and time to discuss whatever is on your mind before you give your talk. When I was in the chapel before my talk I mentioned to the woman praying for me there that I had this element in my talk that seemed to be a theme so far on the weekend about being still and listening. She sat there a moment, wrote something on a piece of paper, then turned to me and said, "You know, while you were talking just now it occurred to me that the words 'listen' and 'silent' have the same letters in I had to write it out and see, look...they are the same letters, just in a different order."

To listen, truly listen, we do need to silent our mouths, our brains, our emotions...all the things that interfere with our ability to learn and see and hear. I don't think it's a mistake that listen and silent both have the same letters. I think it's another little miracle that has a simple, yet very important message imbedded in it.

Whether you're trying to learn something...or just showing your kids or spouse that you are really listening to them...try training your thoughts and mouth and emotions to be silent so that you can really hear and learn. We're so busy, like Mary, trying to make things perfect in our lives that sometimes we forget all we really need to do is to sit, be silent, and listen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Through The Eyes of a Child (little miracles part III)

Well, this is actually my husband's story but I will tell it to the best of my ability. If I get any of it wrong, believe me, he will leave a remark and correct it...he does not like when I embelish or get any of the facts wrong. Such a detail and logic oriented brain - we balance each other out nicely.

My husband has been putting the kids to bed since Grace, our first-born, was old enough to require a bed time routine. He likes this job because he can read stories to them, and even better, he can make up stories for them and with them...and it really is great bonding time between dad and kids.

I think usually what happens is that once the kids have their jams on and have brushed their teeth the two girls (Brady is still a baby and stays with me for now) meet in one of their rooms of their choosing for stories and songs and bedtime prayers. When prayers are over Maggie stays or retreats to her room and Dan tucks her in. Then Dan goes to Grace's room where they have what I call, "Bedtime Lessons With Dad." Grace starts asking all kinds of questions and then she and daddy discuss. For instance, once she started Kindergarten this year they introduced fire drills and tornado drills and lock-down drills and all the scary things that a little 5 year old is trying to comprehend and understand. So Grace asks daddy all kinds of questions about how fires get started and how we know if there's a fire and what if we're sleeping and a fire happens...and on and on. Same with tornadoes. She has lots of other things she asks about too. Sometimes Dan tries to talk to her about sharing better with her sister or being nice to other people or having a good positive attitude about everything she does.

This past year we had the opportunity to move closer to Dan's family in Canton. It was a long drawn out process to get there because we were having trouble selling our house in Bucyrus (although we feel extremely blessed that our house sold in Bucyrus since many houses are not selling at all). Due to several timing issues we stayed with Dan's parents who were very kind to let us be there for a little better than two months. We were getting nervous about whether our house in Bucyrus would sell, and if not, what were our options? We did a lot of praying.

One night after prayers with the kids Grace asked Daddy, "Why do we pray to Jesus?" And Daddy answered, "Because Jesus loves us and He wants to know what we're thinking about, so we tell him what we want or what we wish for or we just say thank you to Jesus for loving us and keeping us safe and healthy..." (not a direct quote but I believe it was something to that effect). Grace said, "well we keep praying that someone will buy our house. Who's going to buy our house, Daddy?" Dan said, "I don't know." She said, "Well, when is someone going to buy our house?" Dan said, "I don't know, why don't you ask Jesus?" Grace said, "Well Jesus told me that we were going to sell our house on the 28th." Dan chuckled and quickly looked at the calendar and saw that that was a date in the future and said, "Oh ya, and who's gonna buy it?"
And Grace responded without hesitation "Well the people who are looking at it now Daddy." And he chuckled to himself again because no one had looked at the house in weeks and he gave her a kiss and said good night.

The next day Dan called the realtor just to see if anything was going on. She said, "well I didn't want to get your hopes up but we showed your house yesterday."

A week later, Sunday, September 28th, Dan was putting the girls to bed. He had made note of the date all day and by this time had decided there would not be an offer on the house on this particular day. 8:30 pm he had just finished putting the girls to bed and his cell phone rang in his pocket. It was the realator. The people who had looked at our house the day Grace had spoken of had just submitted their offer on our house.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

little miracles (part II)

Have you ever run into, crossed paths with, chance encountered an old friend or a family member you haven't seen in ages? Maybe you had been thinking of them and then ran into them...or maybe they hadn't even crossed your mind in quite some time and out of the blue a chance encounter! How about when you're about to pick up the phone and call someone and then the phone rings...and it's the person you were just about to call! I LOVE those little miracles that so many people just enjoy a chuckle over or shrug a shoulder at...the little miracles all have significance!

During my last year of college my fiance's (now husband) parents let me live in their home so that I could save money by not paying for college housing or rent (Dan had already moved out and begun work a couple hours away). They lived about 25 minutes from Kent State and I guess about 40 minutes away from my waitress job in Streetsboro. So I would commute both to school and work on a daily basis.

It was my last semester, maybe even my last couple of months, in school and I knew I was going to need a nice suit for "grown up" job interviews. I went to Aurora Farms outlet mall after work in Streetsboro one day to see if I could find something nice. No problem at all - found a very nice suit pretty quickly. I was so excited! Resume's were out, graduation was approaching, I'd be getting married soon after graduation, and I found a great suit to interview in...I was sure to get the first job I interviewed for with that suit!

On my way back to the May's house (home at the time) I needed to stop for gas in Rootstown...sort of half way there. There are I guess maybe 4 gas stations in Rootstown so it was just a random pick over which one to stop at. I got out of my car, went to the pump, and who should pull up to the same pump on the other side? My parents. Yep, my parents. My parents who lived 2 hours away. In the car with them was my younger sister who was going to school at the Pittsburgh Art Institute at the time. What a chance meeting. They had gone to Pittsburgh to pick up my sister to bring her home for the weekend. They knew of course that I was staying at the May's, but never traveled to the May's via route 76 so did not know it was the exit leading to me and had not planned on coming to to visit me. Actually they were going to drive right by where I was (should I be insulted?), but they needed to stop guessed it...gas. In Rootstown. At the same moment and at the same gas station. Not to age me but this was before cell phones so believe me there was no way to set this up.

I got to show them the very cool interview suit that I had just purchased! It made the whole experience of buying that suit even more exciting!!

You know, I've actually run into my parents several other times since then. I know that they pray for me and my sisters all the time so I really think that God helps to arrange for times that they can see us or hear from us when we really weren't even planning on it. I hope that God will do the same thing for me and my husband with our children someday when they're grown up and much too busy to see us as often as we would like.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Little Miracles (part 1)

So my sister and I were cleaning my parents' house and getting it ready to sell. My parents are ready to downsize from the big farm house they have lived in for 30+ years. It's one thing to prepare a house to sell; it's an entirely different thing to prepare a house that has been lived in for 30+ years by people who don't throw away very many things. I must say that it was sort of fun to go through old school papers and newspaper articles from my childhood, and even more fun to read all the old notes that friends used to pass to me in the halls in high school. Couldn't believe they were still there (even after the fire) but fun to read through nonetheless. Some people are pitchers, others are keepers. My parents are keepers. Make no mistake it was a very stressful time for them to let us help them pitch things that were cluttering their place and had to go. To say those things had no value would be an arbitrary statement...value is in the eye of the beholder. Assuming I continue to blog I may refer back to this experience periodically.

While going through some clothes in one of the closets, deciding what would go to the Salvation Army and what mom wanted to keep, I came across a stunning, gown-looking, very small like baby-sized, light blue satin with pearls outfit hanging inside a clear cleaners bag. I wondered only for a second what it was and then I told my mom, "this looks like an outfit that the blessed infant would wear at the Carey Basilica." Mom said that it was indeed an outfit that the blessed infant had actually warn in Carey and that she has three of them, although this one was the nicest one. She wanted me to have it...but only if I would share it with people who were in need of a miracle or some sort of healing, whether physical or spiritual, who would be willing to pray the rosary with it in their presence. I immediately thought of a friend and contacted her when I got home.

My friend responded quickly that she would love to have the opportunity to pray with the blessed garment. However, it took a couple of weeks before we connected again. On a Monday morning she called me and asked if she could have the garment that day because she wanted to pray with a friend of hers that is dying of cancer. Certainly, I had no problem bringing that straight to her, afterall, I was just heading out of the driveway with 2 of my children to enjoy the nice day with no particular plans anyway.

When I arrived at her home with the blessed garment I wanted to share a story with her before I left the garment with her. Although not for her sake because her faith is strong, I wanted her to be able to share this thought with whomever else she may ask to pray with her using the garment. My parents had a very big fire in their house in 1992. They were not there, they were actually out of town because unfortunately the very same week my mom's mom had passed away and they had taken my older sister back to college after the funeral when they received the call about their house.

That following week we all went back home from college to see the damage. Going through the house where we could, anytime we found a religious item we could see where the fire burned right around it but never touched the item. Crosses, pictures of the sacred heart, statues of Mary, sacramental gifts, bibles, all were spared. There would be black and burn marks all around a blessed item, but the item was never touched. Now, the way I look at it, if God chooses to protect THINGS that have been blessed, then how much more do you think he wants to protect us, His people, His loved ones...we who were made in His own image. We may not seem to get the miracle we ask for sometimes, but God is always loving His people and protecting them and gracing us with amazing miracles day to day. Nothing is a know you believe that too.

Well, later that Monday my friend had to call me to tell me a story of her own. She went out to take the garment and pray with her friend. Before calling her friend she wanted to stop at church and go into church and pray by herself. She had not yet contacted the friend she wanted to pray with. When she drove into the church parking lot her friend was there sitting in her car. My friend told her she was just getting ready to call her and ask if she would want to pray with her and this garment. The woman was at the church to meet a couple of other friends to go in and pray at that same moment in time. So all of them went into the church, with the garment, to pray.

There are no coincidences.

This is just the most recent - I have many other little miracles to share.