Happy Halloween

Farmer John’s Garden

Pumpkin Garden

This is from my 2009 Retreat – it always remind me how far God has brought me

Farmer John wandered back and when he reached
the pumpkin patch, began to speak he said
“the weather’s getting colder summer’s over
and it’s almost Halloween that’s the day,
the reason you were raised when everything
about your life will change

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning in the darkness but
remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time in a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

The pumpkins held a meeting then
some were very apprehensive and afraid
“Could this really happen to us?
what could be the meaning?” is what they were saying
“This is home, it’s all we’ve ever known”
then one bold, outspoken pumpkin spoke

He said “I don’t need eyes to see,it
sounds like a lie to me
I like it just fine here in John’s garden
And remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time In a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

There is much to ask and to ponder
in the pumpkin patch when imposing
old October shows up at last

Then a pumpkin from the farther end
who had been silent up till then
Over the commotion, said
“What would you rather have my friends
A chance to shine, or die here on the vine?
The better way seems very plain to me

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning
in the darkness
and maybe that candle shines
for only the briefest time
In a jack-o-lantern’s heart
Oh, but one goblin’s smile should
make it all well worth while
you know you might even see the starlight
and knowing that time is brief,
makes it that much more sweet
when you have a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

John’s Garden (Written & Performed by Peter Mayer, from the album Million Year Mind)

These was part of my retreat last year (2009). This really hit home to me because last year was
when Matthew’s health was so uncertain and many times I and the doctors were not sure he would live out the year.

When I went to the retreat I went for some rest (I had not slept in 8 months at this point) and some
quiet time with Our Lord. I needed to some find some peace inside my soul as far as Matt’s health.
When the very last paragraph was sung, I had a deep feeling inside me that Matt would not live out
the year but I was at peace because I took to heart with:

“A chance to shine, or die here on the vine” this statement made me realize that there is something very important about the quality of life and if Matthew was confined to a bed at 20 years old then he wasn’t doing much living.

“and knowing that time is brief, makes it that much more sweet” this statement made me realize that no matter what happened Matthew’s life was filled with a lot of purpose, teaching many people (including myself) through austism, asthma and CF what truly mattered in life.

After much rest and an improved outlook filled with peace, I realized that God was waiting for me to give up my control to Him so that He could heal Matthew.

To look back now 4 years later, I can’t tell you how right I was in realizing I needed to give up my control to God so He could work in my son’s life. God has done amazing things in my son’s life, but also for my daughter who faced a health crisis last year. When I think about how far God has brought my family, it brings me to tears – in thankfulness and joy.

This song is near and dear to my heart.


Today is Blog Hop day over at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies! I am writing about a time specific time God spoke to me and I had a “say what” moment.

My life has been full of searching for someone or something to fill a void I have had most of my life. I have searched for acceptance, valued and loved. As a child and a teenager, I didn’t feel accepted, valued or loved by my family. Now that I am older I know they did loved me – very much so – they just couldn’t love me in the way I needed.

I married and had children very young so that I would feel loved. What a surprise to me that marrying and having children didn’t fill that void. I blamed my children, my husband, and the things that happened to me as a child. I was mad at everyone around me, especially God, for the life I felt I deserved and didn’t have. I wanted a life full of happiness, peace and love.  I didn’t want the life I had that was filled with conflict, anxiety and stress.

As I entered my thirties I realized I needed to bury my past and get over myself. I began to rebuild my relationship with my dad, I quit being so angry and I started accepting my life. I began to go to church regularly and read my Bible. For the first time ever in my life I was feeling a sense of peace.

And then my world was shattered at 32 years old when I lost my mom very suddenly and unexpectedly. I felt like an orphan, even my dad and I had reestablished our relationship. Less than 5 months later, on my mom’s birthday the relationship with my dad ended. I was drowning in the feelings of worthlessness, feeling unloved and angry. It was too painful to open up and getting hurt repeatedly. I came upon this Scripture:

”And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” ~Matthew 18:9

My life application study Bible notes said explained: We must remove stumbling blocks that cause us to sin. For the individual, any relationship, practice or activity that leads to sin should be stopped. “AHA – there it is right in the Bible. Any relationship – must be stopped.”

I asked my husband “does this means I can walk away, having nothing to do with my family ever again?” He looked at me with sadness and concern asking “why does it matter?” I replied “I don’t like the person I become when I am around my family.  I get resentful and bitter.  I don’t want to hope and then be disappointed.” He asked again “why does this matter so much now, you have been hurt and disappointed before. Why does it matter so much this time?” Tears were running down my face, there was an empty hole in my heart.

Finally I had the answer I was searching for my whole life. And without thinking I blurted it out:

”I want just once, just once in my life to know that I matter, that I am the most important person to someone. Just once I want someone to love me enough to fight for me, to stand up for me.”

As the tears ran down my face, I heard clearly, distinctly and lovingly…..

“I do Veronica and I did”

I knew instantly I heard the voice of Jesus! I understood what He whispered to me:  I did matter to Him, I was important enough, and He did fight for me.  All that love was shown on the Cross. That day changed my life – that was my #saywhat moment and the day I decided to say yes to follow Him.


Yes To God

Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study ~ “What Happens When Women Say to God” by Lysa TerKeurst

This weeks blog topic I choose was number 4. #yestoGod. Share a time you caught a “glimpse of eternity” as you said yes to what God was asking you to do.

I can totally relate to Lysa’s hesitation when God asked her to give her Bible away. I remember the day God asked me to give away something just as precious to me. As I was praying the Rosary for a dear friend who needed some serious prayers for her child, I had the sense God asking me to not just pray for her but to GIVE her my Rosary.

I argued with God saying “she’s not Catholic!” But the more I prayed for her the more I KNEW I was supposed to give it to her. So I finished praying, loving packaged the Rosary up to mail, all the while thinking “I have had this Rosary forever, it has been with me through every one of my son’s hospital stays; every prayer for my marriage, my children; it was a comfort to me as I grieved the death of my mom; every tear I cried over my son and the setbacks; it was a comfort to me during the times I prayed over the uncertain future of my son.”

I teared up as I handed it over the post office counter. Afterwards, I stopped into the Catholic store and bought me a new Rosary. Walking back to my office with my new Rosary in hand I thought “really God?” and then I heard a whisper “new Rosary – new chapter!” I paused to think about that and it was true, I was entering a new chapter. My son had not been hospitalized in over a year and even though he wasn’t able to live on his own, he had just moved into an independent living home and was doing remarkably well – all my prayers were being answered. As I thanked God for that, I heard another whisper “Your old Rosary was passed on to another mama who knows the heartaches and tears of an unknown future of her child.” I bowed my head in awe and thanked Him once again.

Who was I to argue with God and His plans? Whatever God says do, do it!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6



Prevailing Through God’s Plans

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19:21

My Plans

Oh I had all sorts of grand plans for when I grew up. I was going to marry prince charming, have four adorable and well-behaved children, own my own dream home with a white picket fence and a wrap around porch where I would sit in the afternoon admiring my children at play. Inside my home would always look like Martha Steward herself lived there. I would be a picture perfect mom and wife. Our home would be filled with the laughter and love of family and friends.

My Reality

I became a mom for the first time at 17. I married at 19 and had our second (and last) child at 20. Nowhere in my plans did I dream:

  • Raising a son with autism and cystic fibrosis
  • My daughter struggling to learn to read due to severe dyslexia
  • My husband and I working so very hard at our marriage
  • Our home being empty of family and friends, because we were just trying to survive the day
  • Only sleeping 2-3 hours each night for 22 years
  • Being very lonely, stressed and at times miserable
  • Fighting a public school system for my son’s right to be educated as he needed
  • Fighting with a different school that my daughter was in fact dyslexic
  • Having a daughter who would rather play basketball and baseball with her cousins instead of having pretty dresses and tea parties
  • Being broken, lost and isolated
  • Being a hands-on parent 24/7 for 23 years
  • Spending a life time in hospitals (both medical and psychological), thousands of doctor’s office and many ambulance rides

Fast Forward 23 Years

I could never have dreamed of the blessings that came with God’s plans for my family. Yes, I called all of that a blessing. Why?

  • Most marriages don’t make it through the kind of stuff we went through: married early, two small children, Marine Corps, special needs children, and life-threatening illnesses. But God knew exactly who would stick by my side through all of it, even if we didn’t like each other very much on some days. We will celebrate 22 years of marriage this year.
  • I questioned, ranted and raved asking God “why? why me?” Then one day I realized God was teaching me about unconditional love, patience and the bigger picture.
  • Because we didn’t have close friends we depended on each other very much and our dependence on God increased.
  • Because I didn’t have a girly girl my daughter opened up the world of sports to me. I look forward to going to basketball or baseball games.
  • I never thought our son would be able to move out. God knew though. Our son is flourishing in a new home learning daily life skills with the hope of one day moving into his own apartment.

When our son moved out in April 2011 and our daughter was in her own apartment at college I thought “finally smooth sailing – it’s been a very long 22 years!” I thought surely we have faced and conquered enough obstacles to last three lifetimes…….

God Had Other Plans

Six weeks ago our 20-year-old daughter was diagnosed with seizures. As we look back over the years we realize now that what we thought were migraines were seizures. This is a pivotal time in her college education – Spring semester of her junior year. Her life has changed. She needs other people to drive her. She has to ask for help and that bothers her greatly. I have to once again rely completely on God.

Do I still say all of this is a blessing? Yes – a thousand times over yes!!! The one central unchanged theme in my life has been I have needed God at all times, in all circumstances! Each time I thought “whew, that’s behind us, it should be easy peasy from here.” I would find myself on my knees asking God to see us through.

If I would have had my dreams come true, I wouldn’t have needed God for anything. His plans require that I need Him minute by minute. I have lived through hell, been broken and had my dreams crushed but through it all God has been and will continue to be my Refuge, my Rock and my Shield. Yes, His plans are always better than my dreams.

By the way – I absolutely married my prince charming.


My One Word

I have been reading MY ONE WORD by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen.  On Christmas Eve morning I began reading Chapter 3 ~ Pick Your Word.

I found it very fitting that I at Christmas Eve Mass, God gave me MY ONE WORD.  At first I thought it was DAUGHTER because the opening reading was from Isaiah 62:3:

You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

As I heard that Scripture being read I clearly heard the word DAUGHTER.  However, it must have been the LORD using it to get my attention.   Before the Gospel reading, EMMANUEL was on my heart and mind.  Father Ed’s homily helped me to know for certain.

Father Ed opened his homily asking “what can we do to grow?”  Today is born for us a Savior!  Salvation was born 2000 years ago and again today in 2012.  Salvation lives within us.  Salvation is not a what, it’s a Who.  God is with us – Emmanuel.

Mary and Joseph are the first witnesses of the Who of Salvation.  Salvation was born through Mary and Joseph.  Yet Salvation lives within us now, in this year, Christmas 2012.  This Christmas calls us to live lives that proclaim “God is with us!”  He is with us through caring, merciful, compassion, generosity, and kindness.  We too are giving birth to Salvation through these loving actions.  We see them daily and sometimes we take them for granted, such as a parent tending to a small child, showing compassion.  God among us, transforming us into God’s very presence  for us (being His hands and feet.)

As the Christmas song states “do you see what I see?”  All through the centuries people have been compelled to announce this to others.  Christ is Born! For us a Savior is Born!  We make known that message very clearly by the way we live each day.  Our own priceless gift this Christmas Season and everyday is to bring Christ’s presence to others.    The greatest gift we will ever give to another person – our parents, a child, our lover, our boss, our employer, our neighbors or our friends – is Christ’s presence.  The gift of Christ’s presence also invites us to allow God to live in our lives, to open our hearts to the presence of God within us.

The story of Christmas never grows old.  Perhaps because it tells us of God’s great love of us.  God loves each and every person, with an everlasting love.  Your presence is important to God and everyone!  Believe that!!!  Every one of us are precious!

Father Ed’s homily hit every point I thought of as I was praying for MY ONE WORD.  I want to bring Christ’s presence to others.  i want to be kind, merciful, giving, compassionate.  I want to be those things not only to my family and friends but my co-workers, my boss, my neighbor and the stranger I meet.  I want to be those things not only when I feel good but when I don’t feel like it.  I want others to know God’s absolute, everlasting love through me and my actions.



Perspective and Truth

Today I have the great privilege to be guest posting on my dear friend, Jamy’s blog.  Be sure to stop by and leave me a comment; while you are there be sure to sign up to follow Jamy’s blog and check out her new book “Get Real

I want to thank Jamy for asking me to guest post today.  She is a great friend, my prayer partner and a dear sister in Christ.  I am very blessed to have her in my life.

My perspective this Christmas Season on counting every blessing and taking hold of each precious moment, capturing them before they are gone.  I hope you leave all the stress behind and do the same – before you know it, it’s here and gone!

Trimming the Tree

Trimming the Tree

In Memory ~ Rich Hollinger

What a difference a week makes LORD!  What a difference 24 hours make!  A reminder that our time here is very short and precious.

I want to yell, scream and stomp my feet.  Why?  Why Rich?  Why now?  He was so full of life.  He made the world a better place just by living each day with so much joy.  He went out of his way to help people:  family, friend, coworker, neighbor or stranger it made no difference. He lived a life of service.  He cherished Amie and his daughters.  They were his life and his world.  I can still see the way his eyes lit up any time he talked about them.

And then there was his work!  Or as I like to think of them……the 3 Musketeers.  Nick, Larry and Rich.  all three very passionate about the work they do.  All three giving the best of themselves to build a company that is known for integrity, honesty, doing what’s right and where the customer is the priority.  That says so much about the character of each one.  They not only lived it, they held each other accountable to continue living with those values.  They respected each other but above all they considered each other family.  It doesn’t always take blood to be brothers.

So I have to ask why LORD?  Why Rich?  Why now?  He was too young, he had so much more life to live, he had more years of being Amie’s husband, more years of being Lexie and Anna’s dad, and there can’t be a 3 Musketeers with only 2!!!

It makes no sense LORD!  Yet, I can imagine how big Rich’s smile was when he heard those most glorious words we all long to hear:

“Well done good and faithful servant, well done!”

His smile lit up any room here on earth, I can imagine when he received his eternal reward, for his servant’s life, it was bigger and brighter than the sun.  And knowing Rich I can believe he probably yelled out “HAIL YEAH!”

His work here was obviously done but how do those left behind more forward, how do we go on without him here?  How does Amie, Lexie, and Anna begin to put back the pieces of their without their husband and father?

I know Your Word says: Your ways are not our ways; Your timing is perfect; Your plans are to prosper us not to harm.  I know Your Word always bears fruit and will be there for them but LORD honestly right now I don’t want to give them a Bible verse.  Show me a way I can be of help to them, to be the hands and feet of You.  To live out Your Word instead of repeating Scripture in their time of need.

I ask for Your mercy LORD.  Wrap Your arms around Amie, Lexie and Anna; every member of Rich’s extended family and his Manor Roofing family let each one feel Your presence in a deep comforting real way.  Let peace come into their souls, hearts, minds and bodies.  Remove all worries from them LORD and replace it with You.  Place on their hearts and minds good memories of Rich so that instead of crying through the pain they can laugh through the tears.  Help them to celebrate the man You created in Your image.

In the days, weeks and months ahead I ask for Your servants to be there in the time of need for Amie, Lexie and Anna – just to be there for them in the way they need.  May the three cling together in their grief and not allow this to divide them.  Help them to be patient, understanding, kind and forgiving not only to one another but to themselves as well.  LORD, my heart breaks for them.  I just ask You to hide them in the shelter of Your protective wings and let no more harm come to them, only Your rich blessings.  Remind them that they are strong through You.  In Jesus’ Name I Pray ~ Amen.

“Strong Enough”
by Matthew West

You must
You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through

Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I’m not strong enough to be
everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe
Maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Cause I’m broken
Down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Oh, yeah

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Strong enough