Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Road to Emmaus....

I am so excited about the book study that we are doing at Good Shepherd for the next six weeks.
Last night was the first session.
I have put together a blog to share the details as we go along....

You can see it here....Road to Emmaus

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Gifts....

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11

I was reading this passage this morning, and thinking about Jesus' words. He could have used any words. He could have said "necessities" or "food and shelter" or "the things they need", but He didn't. He used the words "Good Gifts". Gifts are different, because we don't give them out of obligation or duty, we don't even give them because we are asked. We give gifts because we want to make the person we love happy. We want to make their lives and their world brighter and better, just because they are who they are.
He specifically talks about the relationship between parents and children. Giving a child a gift is different. We give our children gifts because we love them, and we just love to see those beloved faces light up.
Our gifts come from the heart, because these are children of our hearts.

What Gifts has God given to me, Just Because?
What has He done just for me, to see me light up, and to make my life wonderful?

Where to begin?

He has given me life itself, and the gift of my wonderful husband and children to share it with. That alone is more than I can ever thank him for.
"Here, beloved, is a man that will love and honor you. He will be your partner and best friend, and from that love I will give you the greatest Blessing that can come from human love, children, just because I love you and I want you to have Joy!"

The gift of His own child, His Son, which above all gifts is incomprehensible.
Knowing how much I love my own kids, and how much greater is His love for His Son, I can't imagine the scope of this love. How much would I have to love someone to give up one of them?

The Gifts of the Sacraments....
Gifts of Grace given to us to help us grow close to God our Father, to bind us to Him as His children, to make us one with His body, and to bring us back to Him when we stray.  And all because He loves us. Free gifts, given to us, just because.

How much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?
Ask Him!

Fifteen Years!

Happy Anniversary to my best friend in the world!
Fifteen years ago today we gave ourselves to each other in that little church in Malibu.
Every day since then has been a gift from God.

The scary times only served to reaffirm the amazing Blessing that we have in each other.
I truly can't imagine life with out Tim. I can't even think about it, and by the Grace of God I don't have to.
This life that we have in our little house, in our little town, in Maryland, has been better than I could have dreamed.

Thank you to my dearest, my love, my best friend.
Thanks Be To God!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Christ and The City...

God in the Streets of New York City
"God In The Streets of New York City" depicts the stark contrast between the everyday chaos of the busy streets of New York City -- complete with traffic, construction and police cars -- and the majestic, serene, peaceful presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
There is always an opportunity for you to meet Jesus face to face. This meeting poses the question: Will you recognize him and adore Him? Our Lord desires to be among us, to nourish us spiritually.
The monstrance used to carry the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of New York City in this video is one of six that were personally blessed by Pope John Paul II before his death to mark the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist.
From Grassroots Films.
Thanks to Barbara@MommyLife!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Yes" is a Four Letter Word

I was having a conversation with Laura, a couple of days ago, about why we tend to be too willing to take on so much that we end up chasing our tails and losing track of, not only the details of all the projects and programs that we are supposed to be responsible for, but also the focus of our lives, which is Christ, and the true vocation that we are called to, which is the vocation of Marriage.

The Domestic Church was meant to be lived in, not dropped into at the end of the day, with an exhausted sigh and a promise to be more prayerful, present and pleasant tomorrow.
This has become a theme for me. I have become so programed to my lists and my calendar, that I don't take the right kind of time out of each day for the real Reason for all of it. The reflection that I am being called to each day, should be a time of attentive listening to Christ, instead of a pointed reading of the Gospel and trying to figure out how it can be used to make sense of my day. I sit there and tell my Lord what I want Him to say, instead of quietly listening to His love for me.
I have not chosen the better part.

So, what to do to rearrange my priorities, to become less the doer of errands and tasks, and more the heart of my home?
I have begun to seek direction in my prayer life again.
I can see that I have been cutting corners in my attempts to grow in my Faith.
Checking off the daily prayers isn't enough, and it's mediocre.

I have begun to scale back the demands on my time, outside the home, especially at night.
I realized that we only have a short time left, with all the boys at home, for family dinners, talking, bike-riding, and family prayer time.
We need to take advantage of these few, short years.

Most of the things that I am doing for other people can be done by someone else. Most of those things can be done later. And most of those things will be forgotten, in time.
My time with my family, at the feet of my Lord in prayer, and in the bringing up of our children, in our school, cannot be done by someone else, cannot be done later and is the education of the future, so that the important things aren't forgotten.

How could I have become so caught up in so many things that distract me from my true vocation?
I am a "Yes" person.
I always think that one more little "yes" won't make a difference.
One more meeting a month, one more committee, one more appointment, it's just one, right?
When did I forget basic addition?
How is it that I missed the number of tasks required to prepare for, and follow-up on, that one "Yes"?

I wonder if Martha, in the bible story, was a "yes" person too? Did she take on all the household duties, and then have to direct the cooking, and get Lazarus' laundry done, and then try to find a leg of lamb, at the last minute, for that growing crowd? Did she tell Mary, at first, "No, no, I'll do it. I'll take care of those details because I know how I want it done." Only to resent later that she was the one "in charge"?
Did she bring it on herself, when she was stuck with all the serving and cleaning? Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the better part, but when did she choose? Did Mary refuse to become a task-driven, take charge woman in favor of a more contemplative existence?
How does one balance the two, when "yes" trips off the tongue before the mind can check it?
How much of the imbalance is the need to always have a project, always be stimulated, always be challenged?

I am determined to listen to the call of Christ. To sit at His feet, every day, in quiet awareness of Him and His love. Only He can help me to refocus my priorities and only He can give me the calm that I need in my heart to stop giving in to my own inclinations.
He is so good!

On an Icon in the back of our Church the there is a quote from St Theresa of Avila, "For God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres." 
I can't remodel my temperament, but He can. I just have to show up.
My "yes" has to be to Him.
Martha can be at the feet of Jesus, but she has to learn to sit, and be quiet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Great Day at Hershey Park!

 Roller Coasters,

the Water Park,

                                       the Chocolate World tour

They haven't stopped talking about it and they are in bed now and STILL talking about it!
  ... they just can't wait to go back!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day was Great!

Yesterday was really the most relaxing day that we have had, as a family, in months.
We had gone to Mass the night before, because the boys had to serve, and so we all slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and then I went to the store to get the things we needed for a cookout.

After I got home, we all got ready to go to the pool. The weather was perfect, not too hot, but sunny.
The boys were happy because our friends, the Andrews, came over to swim and they all had a great time diving.
Tim was happy, because he had a chance to rest!
It was so good not to have anyplace to go at any specific time.

When we got back from the pool, Tim got the grill going, and I pulled everything out and took it all down to the back patio. I grilled burgers, and we had an outdoor feast. It was so nice out and there weren't even any bugs to speak of. The boys all came back in the house, and Tim and I enjoyed sitting out on the patio enjoying the yard. The groundhog family all came out and had their dinner. We counted three.
It was just so nice. I am now motivated to make it even nicer out there.

Last night we were tired but we felt refreshed. It was a good tired.
This week I am going out to find a bike, and we are going to fix up one of John's bikes for Paul.
Next weekend we can all go riding as a family, and then Tim and I are going to ride downtown for our Anniversary dinner!
We are hoping to get in lots of riding over the summer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Here With Me

I have always loved this song, by Mercy Me, and this is always what I think of when I hear it....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Most Fun You Can Have in an Airport....

....but how embarrassing for the airport. This wasn't staged, this was just two guys having as much fun as possible while they were waiting for their flight.

STUCK from Joe Ayala on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Only The Best....

H/T Barbara @ MommyLife!

palin and trig.jpg

The UK Daily Mail printed this Palin email to her family imagining a letter from God about Trig:


To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!):
I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I've heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I've answered them because I only want the best for you!
I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up. Though another girl would be so nice, you didn't think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!
Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be "Trig", because it's so fitting, with two Norse meanings: "True" and "Brave Victory". You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!
Then, I let Trig's mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news - that way Piper wouldn't have so long to wait and count down so many days - just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palins look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days... you all really like cake .) I know you, I knew you'd be better off with just a short time to wait!
Then, finally, I let Trig's mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing . But I gave Trig' s mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!
I've given Trig's mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. I'll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig's challenges, but I won't impose on you...
I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig's life a great one.
This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters . The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven't experienced yet. He'll show you what "true, brave victory" really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is "normal" or "perfect". You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.
Trig will be his dad's little buddy and he'll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He'll love to be read to, he'll want to play goalie, and he'll steal his mom's heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did. And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for in fact Trig will - in some diagnostic ways - always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.
Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it "Down's Syndrome", and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!
Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!
Trig's mom and dad don't want people to focus on the baby's extra chromosome. They're human, so they haven't known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I'm giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family. Many people won't understand... and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won't be considered "perfect" in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider "perfect" or even "normal" anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as "perfect" on t.v.? Have you noticed I make `em all shapes and sizes? Believe me ,, there is no "perfect"!)
Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.
I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: "My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts... for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!"
I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book ! Look it up! You claim that you believe me - now it's time to live out that belief!
Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won't give you anything you can't handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can't wait to meet you. I'm giving you ONLY THE BEST!
Trig's Creator , Your Heavenly Father


I love my Hydrangeas.
They are just beginning to bloom, and it makes me happy to know that there is something beautiful growing right outside my door. I planted them and they are so alive and healthy.
It's just one of those things that you have to feel good about.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Congratulations to John

Tonight was John's eighth grade graduation ceremony.
It was a very nice program and Cathy Rodriguez really made all the kids (and parents) feel special.
There was a chance for the kids to share something that they have worked hard at.
One boy did a Karate demonstration and one of the girls played the guitar and sang.
John chose to keep a low profile.

The moms and dads presented the certificates and then a slideshow was played while we each lit a candle and then lit one that our child was holding.

I am so proud of John and all he has accomplished.
He has done so well, in school, and in each new thing that he tackles.
God has truly blest our family with so many gifts and blessings in our children.

 We are so grateful.

St Anthony's Feast Day

Just want to mention that it is the feast of one of our favorite saints today!
Saint Anthony has become one of Brendan's best friends, and even though we don't have an Anthony in the family, he has become a patron as far as the Merkels are concerned.

St. Anthony of Padua
Doctor of the Church

St. Anthony of Padua<br>Doctor of the Church
St. Anthony of Padua
Doctor of the Church

Feastday: June 13
b.1195 d.1231

Saint Anthony was canonized (declared a saint) less than one year after his death.

There is perhaps no more loved and admired saint in the Catholic Church than Saint Anthony of Padua, a Doctor of the Church. Though his work was in Italy, he was born in Portugal. He first joined the Augustinian Order and then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old. The reason he became a Franciscan was because of the death of the five Franciscan protomartyrs -- St. Bernard, St. Peter, St. Otho, St. Accursius, and St. Adjutus -- who shed their blood for the Catholic Faith in the year 1220, in Morocco, in North Africa, and whose headless and mutilated bodies had been brought to St. Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. St. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of shedding his own blood and becoming a martyr. He lived only ten years after joining the Franciscan Order.

So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, so that the most unlettered and innocent might understand it, that he was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946. Saint Anthony was only 36 years old when he died. He is called the “hammer of the Heretics” His great protection against their lies and deceits in the matter of Christian doctrine was to utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary. When St. Anthony of Padua found he was preaching the true Gospel of the Catholic Church to heretics who would not listen to him, he then went out and preached it to the fishes. This was not, as liberals and naturalists are trying to say, for the instruction of the fishes, but rather for the glory of God, the delight of the angels, and the easing of his own heart. St. Anthony wanted to profess the Catholic Faith with his mind and his heart, at every moment.

He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus, to whom He miraculously appeared, and is commonly referred to today as the "finder of lost articles." Upon exhumation, some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Church!

It's Pentecost!
Thank You dear Lord, for sending your Spirit, to stay with us, and to give us the Grace of the Life in You.
You are so good to us, we Love YOU!

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. 
And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, 
grant that by the same Spirit 
we may be truly wise 
and ever enjoy His consolations, 
Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Happy Birthday John!

Happy Birthday to our new teenager! John, this is a big year for you. I know you are going to go through the next few years in a blur of getting ready...
Ready to take on High School, ready to drive, ready to work, ready for college....
It will be an adventure, it will be a joy, and it will be an honor.
 I am so proud of the young man that you are, and I am so looking forward to seeing what you go on to do.




Saturday, June 11, 2011

Strawberry Festival 2011!

What a great time the boys had today at the Strawberry Festival at Good Shepherd.

They always love it, but today they got a special surprise.
The National Guard was there with this crazy contraption, and both the boys loved it!
Brendan made the most of his time with acrobatics,

and just have to watch it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

We Are Who We Are Called to Be

We homeschool.

We have homeschooled since the Lord called the girls out of public school 17 years ago.
I really had no quarrel with Dry Creek school, and I think, looking back, that the girls probably had the best of the teachers that Clallam County had to offer at the time, with the exception of one.

I knew that homeschooling was a calling for our family, and that has never changed.
I have prayed and listened to God's prompting on the issue, and He has never nudged me in another direction, or asked us to revisit our discernment. For whatever reason, He wants our sons to be educated at home and to be a part of the amazing community that we have in our area.

I think that there are probably wonderful experiences to be had in every educational environment, if you know where to look, but I am so grateful to be blest with the gift of being able to educate and observe these young people, as they progress through each stage.
I loved having babies, and I enjoyed the toddler and preschool years so much. Teaching the kids about their world and their Faith and participating in the discoveries that come with each phase.
That was a Blessing, and it was a joy. Knowing how they learn and how they respond to new ideas and experiences, how wonderful to be able to watch their minds and hearts grow as they become young men.

I loved going through the teen years with the girls. They are beautiful women now, and I love them and know them in a way that I am so grateful for!

I really got thinking about all this at Mass this morning, because today was the end of the year Mass for Good Shepherd School, and if they don't get ten more students, the school will not reopen in the Fall.
I know that even if we were to put the kids in school, we would never have the money for private school. The tuition is way out of our reach. Anyway, why would I change something that is working so well for our family?

John is writing and has time to develop a novel. He finished Algebra 1, with almost no help from me, and he has a wonderful group of friends. I wouldn't trade anything for the chance to watch him develop a quick wit, and confident bearing, and a beautiful soul. I am so proud of him and the young man that he is becoming. How can anyone dread the teen years?

Brendan has had his struggles. I know that school would have been tough for him, with the challenge of some kind of auditory processing problem, and his past emotional sensitivity. He has made huge strides in his ability to relate and respond to others. I know that he would have had a very difficult time trying to get along in school. He has been able to take his time in relationships that he is certain of, and he has been able to branch out into groups and activities, knowing that he will be guided by other families that know him and want the best for him. The consistency has been so important. He now has the confidence to  engage people, free of labels, medications, and the ghosts of judgments that can haunt a person for the rest of their life.
Paul would probably thrive in school, but Paul has a mind that is miles ahead of the daily tasks that he has to accomplish as a 9 year old. Without constant reminding to sit down, focus and finish, he flies out into another world of imagination that would take his feet off the ground and his thoughts off of the things that he will need to use that mind for whatever purpose God has in store. He needs grounding in love and purpose. Who can love him better than his family?

Our community is such a blessing to us in our efforts. Our parish welcomes us, it does not judge us and we are able to participate fully in the life of the Church and to be a part of the larger parish family.
Our homeschooling group is made up of all kinds of families and we have learned that these blessings are not always a reality for other homeschoolers in other parts of the country. We are so grateful for the opportunity to live in a place that fosters a sense of security and acceptance.

We pray that we will be able to continue to flourish as a family.
Thanks be to God for His many, many blessings!

For all these reasons, and many, many more, we have chosen to be the educators of our children.
It isn't the best thing for some families, but it is what God has called us to do and to be, a homeschooling family.

Another Hot One

It's been in the upper nineties to over 100 this week. I cannot understand how they did it in the days before A/C! Maggie hasn't been out for a walk because it's even too warm at night. The boys have been going to the pool every day and we will go again tonight. I hope it cools down today, as forecast, because we have a big weekend coming up! It's John's 13th birthday on Sunday. Today we will probably go out to get his gift. He thinks he wants a Playstation that does all kinds of stuff. He may hold out and try to save a bit more for something even better.
He is also getting a surprise tomorrow morning. Hopefully he will get a few pictures for me to post.
Tomorrow is the Strawberry Festival at the church. We are going to help out for the day, and then John will go and spend the night with Jerry Andrews. They are sharing a birthday weekend.
Sunday we will probably be at the pool most of the day, weather permitting.
John shares his birthday with Pentacost this year. That is pretty special! Turning 13 on Pentacost, God is good. John is such a great kid! I love his sense of humor and the way he thinks.
Well, we are off to Mass. Today is the end of the year Mass for Good Shepherd school. We are going to tag along. It's the end of the year for us too!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Good Time. Period.

You would have to see it to believe it.
Civil War era entertainment and 21st century teens enjoying it like there has never been another type of fun to be had!
But that's just what was going on at Good Shepherd tonight.
There were young ladies in period gowns, and the boys all acted like perfect gentlemen.

They were very willing to follow the etiquette of by-gone days and they had such a good time.
When we got there, all the chairs and tables had been cleared and the leaders were working on the dances that they were going to teach.
The dance caller was a young lady who just returned home with her family from six months on a boat trip to the Bahamas.
Many of the kids that were there were doing Merchant of Venice last month.
The last time we did this I think we had about sixty people. This time there were eighty-five.

The kids were from all over. Some of them are re-enactors and they have the costumes for the dances.

Most of the kids were just in jeans and tennis shoes, but you wouldn't have known it.
There were even adults that came dressed up to enjoy the fun.

I am so happy to see the kids enjoying such a good time, with such a willingness to try new things.

I started watching "Glee" a couple of weeks ago. I stopped.
I really hope that isn't actually the way it is with most of the youth now. That would be so sad.

I really hope that there are kids all over the place that would love to dance the Virginia Reel or the Spanish Waltz, if someone would just teach them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Know That Nightmare.....

...where you take your dog, all fluffy and hairy, to the groomers for a bath, and when you come to pick her up she has been shaved bald from nose to tail?

I lived that bad dream today.

Maggie needed a good bath and brushing, and she also needed her yearly vaccines, so I thought I would get it all done the same day.
I called and made an appointment, and provided explicit instructions as to what we wanted. Twice.
They said they would do a Golden Retriever trim, and get rid of all the winter undercoat. Just what I wanted. Great.

It's usually just a couple of hours and she is ready. So I was kind of surprised when I called and they said that she wouldn't be ready until 3:00.
At 3:00 I was there to pick her up. I knew she would be very glad to see us!

I paid, and the woman at the desk told one of the assistants to go back and get Maggie.
I was waiting at the door, and when she opened it, out walked this Golden dog, SHAVED BALD!
When I saw her, my stomach dropped to the floor. I was stunned. All that beautiful golden, flowing hair...gone! ACK!

I gathered my wits and swallowed, and looked at her more closely. Wait. This dog was not leaping all over me, and seemed a little confused. In addition to that she had a mask on her face like an older dog.
She was apparently a Maggie, but not MY Maggie.
I looked at the lady at the desk, and said "Ummm, this is not Maggie." The assistant said "Yes it is!" The lady at the desk looked over the counter, quite surprised, and said "Oh! That's the wrong Maggie!"
Both the wrong Maggie and I were very relieved.
The girl went back into the grooming area to try again, and this time she came out with our darling girl, all bathed and brushed and smelling sweet!!

She is so happy to be home!  Somewhere there is another Maggie, shaved for the summer, who is very happy to be home with her family as well.