Birdsong

Photo by Irina Babina Nature and Wildlife on Pexels.com The Red-winged Blackbird

Before the grass turns green with the Spring rains, I am on the lookout for red-winged blackbirds. Why? Because in our family these small black birds with the red and orange stripes on their wings were the earliest harbingers of the fairer season.

Most people look for robins in the Midwest. I always look for my little red-winged blackbird friends. By the end of February and definitely by the beginning of March I have been scanning nearby barren fields for their black bodies and colorful wings. The first one of the season always brings shouts of joy. Spring is on its way! Hooray!

This year, though I spotted my first red-winged blackbird around the end of February, I have not been able to celebrate Spring as I would have liked. A broken leg will definitely put a damper on that. So, instead, I have been listening for the song of the chickadee.

Photo by Jack Bulmer on Pexels.com The Chickadee

These have been very special to me ever since I was a child. They call in two different ways. There is the “chickadee-dee-dee-dee” and also, the “Ri-ti, Ri-ti.” I know people say that they are calling “fee-bee” or something similar, but my daddy told me that they are really calling my name.

Since dad passed away almost ten years ago, every time I hear a chickadee singing my special name, I am reminded of him. He was not a perfect dad, by anyone’s standards. He did the best he could. I cherish the good memories of him and try to forget the not-so-perfect ones. I think he would have wanted it that way. Love you, Dad!

Easter Without Jesus?

I was appalled to see a post on Facebook glorifying celebrating Easter without Jesus. What? How is that possible?

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. No bunnies or chocolate treats can take that away. Period.

If Easter does not represent the resurrection, then it’s not Easter. Bunnies, jelly beans, chocolate, etc. are fun for the kids. No doubt about it. But the important thing about Easter is, undoubtedly, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. He died for your sins. He died for my sins. He died for all of us and God raised Him from the dead. How can you not celebrate that miracle?

I hope you had a blessed and beautiful resurrection day!

Goodbye, Uncle Chris!

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Uncle Chris was the uncle of my ex-husband. Not everyone in the family accepted me right away, whether it was the color of my skin, or my classical music background. Uncle Chris was the exception. He always made me feel welcomed and loved. I learned yesterday that he had passed away.

He was a big, teddy bear of a man when I first knew him, though in later years he lost a lot of weight and started working out. His heart was as big as ever.

I may no longer be married to his nephew, but I will always have a soft spot for Uncle Chris. It was he that was the first of the family to visit my dad in the hospital after a heart issue. I was so relieved to see him! He knew what was important in life. He loved his family, which included even me and my dad. He really liked dad. Now they can chat ’til their hearts’ content! God bless you, Uncle Chris!

Mental Health Update!

This week is child #3’s Spring break. We started out on Friday with a good day. Yesterday she went with a friend and hung out. Everything was going well…until today.

I tried to give her a treat by letting her stay up last night until 10 p.m. to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Yes, I know it’s old, but I rather like it! At least it’s nothing sketchy.

Today was fine until she had to make dinner, and couldn’t find the pork chops in the freezer. She lost it. She was screaming at me and spitting on me in her anger. She even grabbed my wrists, which is a favorite technique of hers to hurt me. Since I am laid up with a broken leg, I can’t stand up to her, but instead must instruct from the couch. She loves to kick the couch to make my leg hurt more. It’s unacceptable. I told her so, and eventually she calmed down enough to ask her sister, who had seen said pork chops, where they were. She made them and it was a good meal.

She also took something, I’m not sure what as all the knives are hidden away and have been forever, to cut herself. She explains it like this: everything feels like a dream. Her life is not her life. She’s not living it. She doesn’t feel pain. It’s surreal. So she cuts herself to feel something; anything. It is the only way she knows she’s really alive. Prayers, please!

All the drama (or at least a lot of it) could have been avoided if I had remembered one thing – the same bedtime at all times, Spring break or not. Lesson learned.

Apparitions – Our Lady of Guadalupe

I was prepared to write about a different apparition of Mary, but then I realized that I really wanted to start with the beginning of apparitions in the Americas. That would be Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in December of 1531. Juan Diego, a former Aztec, and convert to Catholicism, was on his way to Mass when saw his first apparition of Mary early in the morning of December 9th. He was an uneducated farmer and laborer; a peasant. He was in his late fifties, hardly your usual age for Marian apparitions.

He hears the song of birds and goes to investigate. He encounters the Virgin. Imagine his surprise! He is a widower of two years and lives with an elderly, unwell uncle. He is most humble, which would be my guess as to why he was chosen for the apparition.

Juan Diego was astonished by the beauty of the native princess. She calmed him, told him who she was, and asked him to speak to the bishop about having a church built on the spot of the apparition, Tepeyac hill, the former spot of the Aztec temple.

When Juan Diego goes to the local bishop, he does not believe him. He wonders of Juan’s motivation. Juan has failed. He returns to Tepeyac hill the next morning, where Our Lady appears to him again. She again urges him to go to the bishop to gain permission for the church to be built there.

Juan again travels to the bishop, who grows weary of the peasant telling this wild story. He demands a sign. Juan assures him he will return the next morning with a sign from the Virgin.

Life gets in the way then, as Juan’s uncle becomes very ill and will almost certainly die. He spends two days with his uncle, and when Juan is sure he will die, he hurries down the road to find a priest. There he encounters Our Lady. He tries to explain what has kept him from his mission, but she gently admonishes him.

He asks her about the sign for the bishop and she instructs him to climb to the top of Tepeyac hill where he will find roses. He is to gather them in his tilma. Juan is surprised at the roses growing there. After all, this is December and the fact that there are roses there at all is a miracle in and of itself. He climbs there and finds the most beautiful roses, unlike he’s ever seen before.

The Virgin warns him to keep the roses in his tilma until he is before the bishop. When Juan returns to the bishop he opens his tilma to spill the roses out, and all are astounded to see a picture on the tilma of Our Lady as the native princess. This is her sign to the bishop.

While she was appearing to Juan, Our Lady was also appearing to his uncle. His sickness left him and he recovered.

The bishop believed Juan with our Lady’s sign and the church was built. It remains to this day, along with Juan’s tilma, a cactus-fiber cloak with a shelf-life of about 30 years. It has survived over 500! Miracles still happen there today. Our Lady of Guadalupe was deemed Patroness of all the Americas in 1945.

Acts of Service

Acts of Service = Acts of Love

During Lent, especially, some people try to do extra acts of service. One year, the children and I did the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Some modifying had to be done, but it was accomplished and turned out better than I’d hoped.

This year we were not specifically trying to practice any of the works of mercy, however, God provided the opportunity. A few weeks back, I asked for a special prayer request. It was for me. My leg is broken. This is of some concern, as it is the same leg that was broken in a car accident almost six years ago. Back then my hip was shattered and my kneecap was cracked in half. I didn’t think there was any pain worse than childbirth. I was wrong. This break is behind the kneecap. It is extremely painful.

I have had to concede defeat to being able to care for myself in this. I generally go from the couch to the bathroom to the couch, etc. all day long. I wear a gait belt (a long belt with teeth to hold it to itself for someone to hold onto while I hop on my crutches) to or from the bathroom. If you are not familiar with senior or hospital care, you might not know what the gait belt was. It is invaluable if I person starts to lose balance, as the caretaker, while holding the belt, can steady the person falling. It’s not totally foolproof, but it is a great comfort to me as I unsteadily hop back and forth to my destination.

So, my children get the fun task of supervising bathroom trips and even showers. The good thing is, with all of the practice of taking care of seniors and my care after the 2015 car accident, I have figured out a few things. First, just because something is made for one purpose does not mean it cannot be used for something else. For example, we borrowed from my mother, a chair-type seat to go above the potty so that I could raise myself easier from it. Our bathroom is too small for it to fit properly, but it fits in the bathtub, therefore allowing me a daily shower, even if it takes a garbage bag over my leg immobilizer and much finagling.

The first thing one wants after being hurt and having that attended to, is a shower. It can lift your spirits like nothing else. Don’t believe me? Try going a few days without one. Yeah.

Second, what I call a “reachy-grabby” i.e. a grabber, can be used in many inventive ways. You may use it to grab something out of your reach from the couch, or to scratch an itch, or to rearrange your covers, or take off your socks. It’s versatile. Take advantage of that! You need all the help you can get!

Third, God’s timing is perfect. What is He telling you to do? Do you need to slow down? Have time for prayer? Time to fix those t-shirts that have been accumulating? Finish your children’s book? What is it? There must be something!

If nothing else, it enables your loved ones to help you. You may feel uncomfortable accepting help, but don’t. You are giving everyone a chance to perform acts of service, and that really is a blessing to you all!

Luscious Lemon Frosting

In the process of juicing.

Today was the day! We have had quite a few lemons hanging around, looking pretty. Well…maybe not so pretty by now! So today child #2 decided was the day for juicing lemons. Now usually we would zest the lemons before juicing them, therein making sure to get all we can from said fruit, especially if they were not in season (around December and January) since they are much more expensive at that time.

Unfortunately, our lemons were no longer good for zesting, but only for juicing. That’s ok. I have quite a bit of lemon zest still in my freezer from previous zesting excursions. I was, however, completely out of fresh, frozen lemon juice. A travesty, I tell you!

So, child #2 cut the lemons in half, and used our juicing jar to juice the lemons. She then poured the juice into canning jars not all the way full, so that we could then freeze them. The juiced lemon rinds didn’t go to waste as two of the three children who were home love to suck the leftover juice/pulp out of them. Sour! We ended up with four jars of juice. This is wonderful, as we like to use the juice in so many recipes. One of our favorites is this luscious, lemon frosting. Here’s what you will need:

1 cup dairy-free butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

approximately 4 cups of powdered sugar (or enough to make the right consistency!)

Mix the butter, vanilla, and lemon juice with a hand mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is the right consistency. Spread on your favorite cake, cupcakes, or cookies. Yum!!!

Apparitions: Our Lady of Lourdes – The Immaculate Conception

Photo by Dani Mota on Pexels.com

When I think of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother of Jesus (otherwise known as Our Lady,) Lourdes comes to mind. What on earth is Lourdes? Lourdes is a small town in France where Our Lady appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous as she was out gathering firewood in 1858. She was a sickly shepherd girl.

She was what was considered “slow.” This is one of the reasons why the apparitions were considered so fantastic. This special child was told by the Virgin Mary that she, said Virgin, was “the Immaculate Conception.” This concept, that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without sin so that she could be Jesus’ mother, had just been decided upon by the Church, but had not yet been preached to the people. How would Bernadette know, except for Our Lady enlightening her?

In her many trips to the grotto where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette, the Virgin told her to dig a well. Bernadette did so, and since then many, many miraculous cures have come from the waters of this spring. Even to this day, some cures are inexplicable. Well, to the faithful, they will never be that. They will be miraculous.

If you would like more information on Our Lady of Lourdes, please read “The Song of Bernadette” or, if short on time, watch the movie of the same title.

A New Addition

I have been considering a new addition to my blog. It is something that I’ve been struggling with for a while. First, is it something that would be of interest to my readers? Is it too “Catholic?” Is this where God wants me to go?

I have decided to take the leap. As my WordPress renewal comes due, I find it an appropriate time to write where God is guiding me. So, here goes.

What do LaSallette, France; Knock, Ireland; Lourdes, France; Medjugorje, Yugoslavia; Fatima, Portugal; and Champion, Wisconsin have in common? These are all locations of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Now, I know, there are many of you who are not Catholic, and that is more than fine. I love my faith, but I also know that there is only one God, and that it is humans that separate him into many different religions. This viewpoint is also shared by Our Blessed Mother, in her apparitions to six visionaries in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia.

My thought is to share what is known about each of these apparitions with you once a week. Are you required to read them? No. Of course not! Will it be interesting? Yes it will. Is this what God has been asking me to write about? Yes. I believe it is. He has given me the time and the inclination to share this with you. Won’t you join me on the journey?