Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane (well a jet plane, then a boat, then a train, then a plane again)

Well, my countdown is about ready to expire! I've been counting down until my Alaskan cruise for the past 63 days and now it's here! Now it's confession time! Are you all ready for it? I'm a homebody! There, I said it! I don't like to sleep in any other bed except for my own - well, maybe the Ritz-Carlton wouldn't be so bad but who am I kidding, I've never been there either! I've never been west of Chicago (do the western suburbs of Chicago count as going west?) I've only been on an airplane 4 times in my whole life and I've never been on a train or a boat.

Enter all of the emotions! I've been a mess today! I'm freaking out because I need to mow, I need to clean the house, I need to grocery shop, I need to jot down all kid activities, I need to change the linens on the bed, I need... This is all a cover-up to hide the fact that I'm going to miss my kids! I've never been away from them for longer than 2 days! I like being in charge of everything, despite the fact that, at times, I hate being in charge of everything! I'm terrified that when I leave, the kids will be better off with their aunts, uncle, and grandparents than they were with me! Will my toilet be clean enough to trick people into thinking that I am this tidy and organized all of the time? Don't even get me started on the bed linens! I'm confessing (another confession?) that I don't sleep with a top sheet but I will make all of the beds with their top sheets so that the rumor doesn't get out that I'm a barbarian! Don't tell anyone, please!!!!!!!

It is more clear, after re-reading this post, that if ever there was a time that I needed a vacation it is now! Just with the ridiculous amounts of exclamation points it is apparent that I'm a little wound up and could use some vacation time. My thing is that I never feel like I deserve it. I can think of other people that kill themselves being the end all be/all for everyone. I know of one of my friends that is the mother of 3 boys (ugh! The stink!!) who takes care of everything and has a husband out of work (so, that means 4 boys at home) and still manages to me make me laugh all of the time. She could use a cruise to Alaska! I have another friend who is the mother of 3 kids that gives and gives and finally can't take it anymore because she's put up this front that she's the caretaker when all she wants to do is be taken care of a time or two. She could use a cruise to Alaska! I could go on and on thinking of every friend that I know of that deserves this more than I do. But, I'm going, darn it!! I really need this and I'm very excited but so nervous!

Please pray for a safe journey for B, his family, and myself! I can't wait to spend some alone time with B - without the pressures of kids, work, cell phones, family, sports, etc. I sure hope he likes "Mellow Kelly" because I'm not sure I've seen her in a very long time!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I know that this post will seem sappy and sad but it's more intended to be the mindless wonderings of a girl lacking some serious sleep! It's that time of year again. Father's day has arrived again with the same old confusion. How do we "celebrate" father's day as fatherless children? We aren't sad and we aren't feeling sorry for ourselves, we just don't know how to acknowledge the 1000 pound elephant in the room. We've made our cards for the men in our lives - Uncle Joe, Uncle Kevin, my Dad, etc. but there's always that pause when people realize there are fatherless kids in the room. It's ok, really! We'll spend it like we have the past three years (inevitably at the ballpark on a 90 degree day) together! We'll trudge through this one day set aside to honor fathers and Monday will poke its ugly head to begin another week.

Then come the big questions! You see, father's day is just any day. It's the odd Wednesday or the emotional Friday that throws me for a loop. I've felt like the biggest tool of a mother. Take back my hardware for Mother of the Year...Wait! What? I never won that? Shocker! My 12 year old son is hormonal and is in a constant stew about something unless he's doing what HE wants to do. Heaven forbid I ask the kid to shower, brush his teeth, unload the dishes, or strip the sheets off his bed! Holy Hannah, you'd think that I just pantsed him in front of a bus full of a cheerleaders! Heck, three months ago I could have pantsed him in front of a bus full of cheerleaders and he wouldn't have cared! Now? I dare not even claim to be his mother around certain people. Just ask me how much I respect THAT boundary! Answer is, I don't! I pour it on even more (I guess I don't need to wonder why he doesn't seem to love me anymore!) He's a great kid...to everyone else! I love him but I'm not in love with him anymore. We've officially broken up and I'm the only one crushed by the whole thing. Him? Not so much - or, better yet, not at all! Sniff...sniff...sniff!

So, begging your pardon for my lack of reverence for this day, I'd prefer to skip father's day and bring on Monday!

I love my father, by the way! He's the best and he's always been there for all of his kids! He's now an amazing grandfather and my kids would be lost without him! He certainly fills so many voids in terms of my fatherless children. I could write a book on the amazing men in my life from my brothers to my brother-in-law to my friends and now to the newest man in our life. I'm very blessed to have wonderful people in my life that show my kids (and myself) that there are great men that are also great coaches, great husbands, great priests, and great fathers. The biggest example of this is my Heavenly Father!

Putting aside my cynicism, if for a brief moment, Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Little Something from Basketball Camp

Gosh! I really love camp! I really, really love camps that have a Christian slant to them and that teach my son (children) that there is more to life than shooting the perfect jumper or pitching the perfect slider. It begins and ends with a good relationship with God.

Murphy has been going to basketball camp and they handed out this little ditty at the end of today's session:

When John Wooden graduated from Centerton Grade School, it was a big occasion. Grade schoolers did not always go on to high school. Children often received a gift from their parents. Joshua Wooden decided to give the gift of wisdom to his son.

On one side of a 3x5 card, Joshua wrote a poem he loved by Rev. Henry Dyke:
Four things a man must do if he would make his life more true->
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely.

On the other side of the card he wrote 7 principles to life:
1. Be true to yourself
2. Help others
3. Make each day your masterpiece
4. Drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible
5. Make friendship a fine art
6. Build a shelter for a rainy day (faith in God)
7. Pray for guidance and counsel and give thanks for your blessings each day

*His dad also gave him a 2 dollar bill and said as long as you keep this 2 dollar bill, you won't be broke...They found the 2 dollar bill in Coach Wooden's wallet after he passed away.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sr. Briege Marie McKenna

*I got this story from the Da Mihi Animas blog. I have loved Sr. Briege Marie McKenna for many years - I've loved her enough to name my daughter after her so I am proud to share this story on my own!!*

This story is very fitting for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ! I received this via an email today and thought that it was a great one to share here. God bless Sr. Briege in her ministry. Have a blessed Feast day!

Today Sister Briege McKenna’s healing ministry is totally centered on the Eucharist. During a special retreat for Sisters a few years ago, she shared a remarkable story of how Jesus led her to this Eucharistic centering.

She said, “I had a big problem. After my own dramatic healing and then receiving the gift of healing others, I was worried because so many people were coming to me.

Many Healings

“In less than one year, so many healings were taking place, that the people wanted to make a saint out of me, even asking for relics… cloth from an old habit, my hair trimmings, etc. I was astounded and disturbed by it… and then there was the way that some people wanted to touch me, as if they would be healed or graced by doing so.

“I loved the people, but I did not like what was happening. There was a danger that, instead of directing people to the Lord or to the Mass, they had come just to see me.

“I certainly knew that, of myself, I had absolutely no power, and that it was Jesus Who was doing the healing; that I was only His chosen instrument. However, even to be chosen by Him was itself an extraordinary gift. Pride could step in, and one could begin to believe that one is better than other people. “In a certain way, I felt that I was becoming a celebrity, and I knew that it was neither true, nor good for my soul.

“I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and begged Our Lady for help. I asked Her, to please keep me in the heart of the Church, and to show me how to integrate this healing ministry into the life of the Church.

“I remember sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Exposition one day, just praying to Our Lady. Then I went down to the Grotto.

“A pilgrimage was taking place of mentally handicapped children, and as I watched them being assisted from Mass, I remember thinking and knowing that Mary will show me the way.

Come to El Paso

Sr. Briege came back to America, and three weeks later she got a phone call from Fr. Rick Thomas. He had a special ministry across the border in Mexico. He said to her, “I would love to have you come and visit the poor at the garbage dump and pray with them. You can help with the healings. Their need is so great.”

She explained that given her existing commitments, she had only an evening and a morning available, and he responded, “That’s fine. God doesn’t need a long time. On your way back from California, stop off and stay over night.”

She arrived in El Paso to be met by this very colourful charismatic priest, a man who witnessed to the faith in everything he did. On the one hand, he was normally wearing a Texan hat and Texan boots. On the other hand, “Alleluia” was his favourite word, which he regularly repeated with gusto.

When Sr. Briege arrived, he started jumping up and down with delight, and introduced her to his dog and his donkey. Sr. Briege did not know what to expect next!

The Unforgettable Dump

That evening, they drove directly out to the dump, and he told her, “They do not have a clue as to who you are, and it does not matter. When the time comes, I will just get you to say a prayer with them, and God will do the rest.”

When they arrived at the dump, Sr. Briege witnessed scenes she will never forget. On the Texan border with Mexico, there is the Rio Grande, the river which Mexicans try to cross to get into the U.S. They are driven back by border police. These are poor Mexicans, who squat and live at the garbage dump, and their children, are born there.

As Fr. Rick showed Sr. Briege around, she was horrified by the sheer squalor. She had given retreats in South America, but she had never seen anything like this.

When Fr. Rick told her that he was going to celebrate Mass there for them the next morning, she was somewhat taken aback, wondering how Mass could be celebrated with any dignity in such an environment. What would the people know or understand?

The children were running around wild like little animals. She was horrified at thinking that, in that place with those people; they will not be able to comprehend what happens during Mass. Anyway, the next morning, she, a small group of young Mexican Americans, and Fr. Rick set out for the dump. He brought a little table and all the Mass requirements.

When they arrived, already up to 1000 people were there, and more were coming!

She remembered standing there looking over this crowd of poor miserable people. Clearly visible in the distance, not even fifteen minutes away, were beautiful homes and a big Mexican Seminary. But these people had no church, and indeed, they had nothing. Fr. Rick had taken it upon himself to go out there and to begin evangelizing and ministering to them. He was trying to break down the hatred through speaking of God’s love, and then seeking to get them into groups to do works toward that end.

The Mass

The Mass started, and although Sr. Briege has been a daily communicant since she was 12 years old, she said that that Mass had changed her life! Before the Mass began, she watched an old woman coming in, carrying a bundle on her shoulder. At first, Sr. Briege thought that it was some form of a gift for Fr. Rick.

But, when the old woman opened up the cloth, in it there was a little child, completely burned from head to fool, filthy dirty, and screaming!

The woman looked at Fr. Rick, and with great compassion, she said, “Please bless him. I found him smouldering when I was coming across the mountain.” She had picked him up, put him into this cloth, and carried him to Fr. Rick.

The child was practically skinless! Fr. Rick looked at the little boy, got Sr. Briege to join with him in a prayer, and then suggested that he be placed under the table on which the Mass was to be celebrated. Sr. Briege related that once the Mass had begun, she felt and saw the presence of Jesus. When Fr. Rick said, “Let us say the Gloria,” praises to God came forth from the tops of their voices.

She had come from across the border from comfort. She had everything that she needed, but they had nothing, and yet they praised God loudly and wholeheartedly. She heard the Lord speaking to her, saying, “If my people do not praise Me, the stones will cry out!”

Here were the poorest of the poor and they were radiant with praise to God. When the consecration came, she had her head down. Then she looked up and saw that Fr. Rick had one of those large hosts. For a moment, everybody was prostrate on the ground. It was then that she had the most beautiful image of Jesus with His two hands out. He was smiling, and within herself, she heard the words of the Gospel, “Come to Me all you who are weary, and I will refresh you.”

Just as she was seeing that, the people lifted up their faces and started shouting, “Viva Cristo Rei” …long live Christ the King!!

At that moment, she truly knew that Jesus was in the Host… that it is not just a piece of bread, but truly Jesus, Himself. For these people, in the midst of their poverty, they had the King of Kings. They clapped, cheered, and cried, “Viva Cristo Rei” …long live Christ the King!

She found herself weeping as she saw the great faith of these people, and she asked herself, “Is my faith as strong as theirs, that I may always realize that a Consecrated Host is really Jesus’

The Little Children

Mass ended and the burned little boy, who had been placed under the Mass table, had long since stopped crying. Sr. Briege went to look for him, and she was overwhelmed when she saw him. He had crawled out from under the table, was totally healed, and was playing in the sand!

She went over to the old woman, and said to her, “What happened to him?” With hindsight, she realized that it was a stupid question. The old woman looked at Sr. Briege, and said, ” What do you mean what happened? Didn’t Jesus come?”

As Fr. Rick put his hands over the bread and wine and called upon the Holy Spirit, as the bread and wine were changed, the little boy was changed. He was given new skin!

Not only that, before the Mass, Sr. Briege saw a mother bringing in a Down Syndrome baby. The mother was a young girl, and she had this beautiful little baby in her arms, but it had all the appearances of having Down Syndrome. She and Fr. Rick prayed over the child. At the end of the Mass, the child’s mother came running up to her, saying, “Look at my baby!” Her baby was now perfect.

More Healings

There were many more healings. Sr. Briege had spent eight hours with the people, and she did not remember which ones she prayed with, but it was certainly not all of those who were healed. It was as if God had put on a display of miracles. Fr. Rick usually did not pray with the people. All he did was celebrate the Mass.

Power Of The Eucharist

Sr. Briege spent eight hours on the mountain dump, and she went back to El Passo so overwhelmed that she could not sleep. Finally, at three a.m., she heard Jesus tell her, “Get up and pray.”

She knelt at the side of the bed, and the Lord said, “You asked My Mother to help you, and to show and teach you, She brought you here. People come and seek signs and wonders. They go looking for healers and for something to help them, and they will go to anybody!

Yet, I am on the altars of the world and in the tabernacles of the world, and they pass Me by. I brought you here because I have a mission for you. I want you to go to the world and speak on the power of the Eucharist. As you begin to lead people to the Eucharist, I will show you what I can do… and, He is doing just that!

This occurred in 1972. Since that time, Sr. Briege has been traveling all over the world to speak about the power of the Eucharist.

In Ireland, as in many parts of the world, they have a history of men and women who knew that the Mass was worth living and dying for.

Beg the Holy Spirit to help you to understand the Eucharist. Beg Jesus to give you a Eucharistic Heart, a real love for the Eucharist, like the two disciples who said to Him, “Where do you live?” and He responded, “Come.”

Come to Him in Mass and Adoration. Tell Him your needs, confide in Him, love Him, and then feel His consolation and healing. This is what He wants of us now. Sr. Briege understands that she is only an instrument through which the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus comes to us, but He tells us that we can approach Him directly by loving Him in the Eucharist. He wants to console and heal us, but first. He wants us to believe in Him, and then to come to Him. Do it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Schools Out for the Summer!!

I'm not sure who is happier about school being out for the summer! It, quite possibly, could be me! To finally have a break from the penance I call homework, making lunches, forcing daily baths, early bedtimes, and the dreaded wake up routine makes this mom a happy camper (well, maybe not a happy camper since the thought of camping does not make me happy)

Here are some shots from the end of school activities:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today would have been Bill's 50th birthday! I'm not sure what the proper protocol is for an event such as this. Even 3 years later I'm still asking myself what do you do on days like this. I know that there are no rules but I sure wish that I could turn to page 25 in the Widow Playbook and read something!

Anyway, a very blessed birthday to William Arthur O'Brien! We miss you and we are still praying for you! By the way, Bill, thanks so much for making such a ruckus with the thunder and the lightening yesterday! - I told Keagan you were popping lots of balloons getting ready for your Heavenly Birthday Party!!