Reminders from Thomas Merton and St. Francis and a Mute Button about Small Favors

popeILY“My mom’s home care nurse called. She was having distressed breathing. Her pulse ox level was 83 which is poor. She was struggling to breath. Having pain. Ambulance was called…I am beside myself….

Gracie’s pain is being managed to the best they think we can do without surgical intervention….

Today we will be discharged…we will be making (her 90th brain) surgery date in the next few days. Grace has had a wonderful spirit through all of this. She just wants to not have pain anymore. Team Amazing Grace needs prayers for wisdom and peace…

Please pray for. Grace we are turning back to go to the. ER … I am over an hour out and she is. 10 pain. She is not well…”

Those are just a few of the frantic Facebook status updates that a friend of mine has been putting up in the past two weeks as she asks for prayer from her huge circle of online friends. She is one of a small handful of women that I’ve tried to keep in touch with for almost fifteen years on the internet. I met them while looking for information about adoption before our youngest was born. Lately contact with them has dwindled to a lot of clicking of Facebook “likes” or these cute cartoons that have a bit more flare in a response and “save time” for a “real” response. Two of us have been going in a new directions – one as a writer and me with my American Sign Language studies. One of us has been doing a lot of elder care and is busting out all over with pride as her daughter is stepping into her own skin and singing like no other all over her town.

In this small group of friends two of us, the mom whose status updates I quoted and another mom – have during that 15 years buried three children. One child took his own life and two other boys died from genetic illness. Another mom’s child has been diagnosed with a lot of maybes – but a “probably” that he is struggling with neuro sensory issues that are along the lines of autism. He is a complicated puzzle of emotions. He is a delight and she sometimes shares quotes of what he is saying out loud that are at times hysterical. Other times his quotes are heart wrenching observations about the world that should be coming from an old man, not a Ninja Turtle who is barely old enough to read chapter books.

What I appreciate about this group of friends that I have never met is that because we’ve grieved together with prayer for those three sons that died – we don’t, well I don’t anyway, always necessarily explain what prayer is being asked for when one of us requests an all out bended knee effort. And we And I feel comfortable with not always having the time to explain the details of what is going on with me or my kids when I share with any one of this small bunch – I have sort of a code phrase that is about the song “row, row, row your boat.” If I make a swing by comment about that song it means either that I know that their mom heart is in a state of worry, or it’s a general announcement that I’m in a bind and don’t have time or space to explain why I am a ball of nerves and doubt.

merton worthy

I have to share something really cool that just happened…but I promised my husband I would do an important chore in a few minutes, so forgive me if I don’t make sense.

Early this morning I read what could be a day old status update that my friend’s daughter is needing her 90th brain surgery to help with hydrocephalus – I started looking for some music to send her way. Her oldest child is a wonderful musician. And I went with a liturgical dance video that I found yesterday while looking for videos of church sign language interpreting.

But…as I mentioned in my last post, music sometimes hurts my ears of late – especially violin or high pitched vocals. I read a recommendation to listen to cello music because the frequency is lower.

So, I’m watching the liturgical dance video and wondering if I should share it, got cranky that the music was ruining the video for me, and clicked off the sound button on the video itself.

I had forgotten that I had Pandora running at the same time and an instrumental song called “Expression” was being played by Helen Jane Long. (The link I attached to her name is not the same song – but just as pretty).

Here is the amazing thing: the instrumental song, when I replayed it in the background, but watched to video in front of it (remember now, the actual music that was being used in the video was turned off) – when I paired the instrumental words with the St. Francis prayer dance – they were PERFECTLY in step – seriously. Don’t quote me but I think it was in 3/4 time – and in any case, there are a few moments of silence after the song finishes and she finishes her dance prayer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that 15 minutes of my day much more interesting than the day of chores I have ahead. And I may not be able to to check in on my friend and her little girl until tomorrow – but I firmly believe that the music, and the dance video, and my friend’s pain, and my sadness about singing out of key- all of it – got a really, very, super nice fifteen minute reprieve.

We can’t do it all, can we now?

But every once in a while, we get a deep breath from out of what seems like no where at all.

Thank God for small favors, eh?

My Family Brought Me Home From the Beach

20130630-084422.jpg

Oh.

And this is what they got me for Mother’s Day 2013. I call my sweet new to us ride:

“Monsieur Percy PanFromage”.

In English that means

“Mr. Bread Cheese”.

Don’t tell anyone, but our first trip “to the store” was an accidental side trip to Le Claire, Iowa.

We got a pizza on the way home.

Safe travels to all.

Ugly Is As Ugly Starts

Ugly is, as Ugly Starts

Okay.

I can do that.

I am following, admist good bad and not so pretty domestic stress, a writers series that encourages 15 habits. These habits include “must have” routines for those that write for fun and for those that are in it for more than fun.

I’m on day 7. Others, I kid you not, are finished and have started, or even finished, a book in those fifteen days.

Cool, eh?

So, my assignment/suggestion, should I choose to follow is to

start

a project. But start it ugly.

Make something ugly. And leave it ugly (temporarily). Be okay with it. Embrace the splotches and streaks for what they are: evidence that you’ve started. ~ Jeff Goins 

“JesusMaryAndJospeh!” my mother would grouse. ” ‘START’  a project? You tell my daughter to ‘start’ something new, why not coach her on at least getting to the middle of a project and we will all sleep easier at night young fellow!”

“Well”, I am snarking back to my celestial MamaForce, SOME of us are better at casting seeds and forgetting what we planted, and much of the time WE don’t care.

Humph.

(Just pictured mom and some other creative gal pals going to the other side of the galaxy for a quick, won’t kill them now smoke. They are now rolling their eyes at how much work I continue to be, even at my tender age of “old enough to know better.”)

Okay. Busted. Of course I care.

Of course I want, sometimes, often times to be able to even remotely write here what I really mean to say and sometimes   often times I get

SICK

and TIRED

of being too, too…worried, and uptight, and hesitant to just,

just at least pluck away at unfinished projects that I beat myself up about. Unfinished?! Ha! Let alone unexplored!

often sometimes feel like I’ve lost my creatiave young adult “all that” forever, and then blame on the kids, the spouse, the dogs, my illnesses, the weather…

If I could just,

just finish a few, not all, but a few of the unfinished projects that I don’t only believe, but know would make a difference to others. Maybe then I would give myself permission to stop pretending that I don’t care.

I do.

I don’t want to fail, I get tired of being embarrassed and making false starts, I’m concerned about the galaxies of word twisting jerks out there and not quite versed on how to handle them (familiar and strangers)…

but.

“Hell’s bells Katherine!” I just imagined my artist Mom and designer Granny smiling with cigars replacing the smokes in their ashtrays. I’m pretty sure they just shook their heads and are now bowing them for some odd reason. Are they laughing, crying or praying? This reminds me to look at the clock.

Which reminds me to go to yoga.

And makes me wish that I had time to write more on how excited I am to try as hard as hell to remember to photo and blog the ugly clematis flower vine I made a minute ago!

Ugly is, as ugly starts.

Damn. Good words ladies, thanks!

Such a Self-piteous Start to Her Saturday

Made-up Word of the Day: Self-piteous.

Defined: A belief system that that goes something like this: “Nobody loves me, it’s not fair, and it ain’t never gettin’ no better, and this stinkin’ day is going to last for and ever.”

Here's the letter "s" in sign language...snapped a shot mid-snuggle

For example: So, it’s Saturday. She woke in a Surly and Self-piteous State. Hand to forehead, She Sneeked a peek at just one of her aSsignmentS.

So tempted to Slump into Said Self-piteous Situation, She firSt made a place Setting at the table in hope for Several Sumptous seconds of Sendentary Salve.

“So it goeS” She Said with a Smirk.

One Word, One Photo: Ready

You pick, I can’t decide!

Forgiveness Friday: Now is the Time

“Now is the time.”

“The time is right.”

These are the two phrases that are going to be sticky noted by my desk today. Perhaps I will tape them to my ears.

Rather than utilizing Word-Sunday, my favorite online Catholic lectionary and reflection source, I tapped into a Methodist website that I’ve been subscribed to for months but haven’t had chance to explore.

.“Now is the time.”

“The time is right.”

Continued fist bumps to Larry at Word-Sunday, and now a high-five to the staff at Alive Now for their Audio Lectio.

This website and accompanying blog is totally tubular dude. I spend so much time reading and writing, that, I kid you not, the nine minutes that I grabbed of solitude yesterday listening to this coming Sunday’s Gospel may have saved my family from my wrath for the entire weekend.

At a minimum, my aging eyes were given a deserved break.

Want to hear what I heard? Click HERE.

No time to listen? Gotcha baby – I’m on that frantic path myself.

Both yesterday and today, when I listened to the Gospel, the phrase that I grabbed onto like an after school Twinkie was:

.“Now is the time.”

This morning I read the Gospel story and another version of the phrase was:

“The time is right.”

The story is about Jesus passing by two sets of brothers who are both working in pairs on a shore. Jesus invites them to go do some work with him inland spreading his message of peace and faith.

At first I wanted to hear the message of “now” over and over because I am working so hard to up my game in terms of being more focused and time savvy, rather than my typical distracted, and avoidant self. It’s so much easier to hear “hurry up!” in the voice of Jesus than from my loving housemates who remind and cajole me into laundry, food, basketball and dog treats.

Besides. Jesus doesn’t need lasagna. He just wants me to remember to be nice, and to keep my eye on a bunch of cool prizes such as laughter and sound sleep.

So.

Forgiveness Friday in my snow filled part of the planet is about self forgiveness.

‘S happening in your kitchen or on your work shore?

Tell Me the Qualities of a Most Marvelous Wife

Do me a favor and pretend to hear this in the most awesome version of my teacher voice:

“…and after all of that hard work, here is an assignment that I think we will all enjoy. I want you all to go out and figure out the exact qualities that make women most marvelous wives.”

Huh?

So, yeah…I’m looking for adult input, but now that I think of it…I wish I was still a teacher because a large group of third graders would probably have the best answers.

I’m going to be on the hunt today and watching strangers with abandon while doing chores and basketball games and such.

Wouldn’t it be cool, if just by paying attention, I could take advantage of my new status as an urban dweller and uncover the secrets to being a super fantastic, better than most wife?

It’s just a thought. I’m eager for input from anyone who already knows. What are the qualities of woman who you know who seems to be a super great wife?

I’m marking my calender with a date with myself tonight to write my report.

Re-insert teacher voice: “…this assignment is due by 9:00 p.m., central time, on November 12, 2011.”

Yes ‘um.