Tuesday, July 19, 2016

when the world goes crazy...fight back...

Is it just me, or has the world gone batshit crazy overnight. Pardon my language y'all but seriously the news these days is just cray cray insane. I don't even recognize my country anymore. Murder, mayhem, chaos and disorder are the new norm. I don't watch the news anymore and recently stopped reading the newspaper (on-line version) because I was getting seriously stressed out by all the really bad news.

I know, you probably think that's the wimps way out. I can hear my husband now "You can't just put your head in the sand Mary. You just have to learn to not let it affect you."

When Courtney was alive my life revolved around her daily care. I didn't have time or energy to invest in anything but keeping those details straight as well as being a mother to Jonathan and a wife to Jerry. Then she died and I went into a deep, dark hole for six months and slowly crawled my way out of it. I started a new job and began participating in the world again.

These days I'm thinking that deep dark hole I was in was pretty darn nice. Mind you, I am no wimp. Strong and sassy is my game but lately I just can't take it all in. Our world is so injured and there seems to be an abundance of hate and intolerance being broadcast daily to a town near you. Last week my heart broke again with another attack overseas combined with more shootings here at home, added to the current political climate and even closer to home there is strife in the life of friends and family.

I scarce can take it in. I felt the familiar pull of hopelessness that I had fought every moment of everyday when my sweet daughter was with me and suffering so with seizure after seizure, day after day. It actually took me by surprise. I thought I was done with that battle. Courtney is in heaven having completed her job here on earth with so much courage and love. What could possibly be as bad as that?


Hate plus indoctrination.

Hate plus selfishness.

Hate plus lack of faith in the One True God.

Hate plus the breakdown of the family.

I reached a point I just couldn't take it anymore, so I turned it off and took along deep breath.

So much better. At least for a few days. Then I started to feel like a quitter and a wimp. I could hear my dad's voice in my head "Get back in the fight Mar. Use all the weapons you've got to fight the hate."

All the weapons you've got...

My first thought was of Our Lady of Fatima and the rosary. When the Blessed Mother appeared to three children in Portugal in 1917, the world was at war and people felt hopeless. There was chaos everywhere you looked. I sort of feel the same way today.

When Our Lady appeared she said "I am the lady of the Rosary." and encouraged the three children to pray the rosary daily. When she appeared again she encouraged the three children saying that if they prayed the rosary that  “My Immaculate Heart will triumph”

Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, explains it this way “The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). 

The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise. Again Pope Benedict XVI states “the exhortation to prayer as the path of “salvation for souls” and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.”

So how does this strong and sassy lady plan to take on the anxiety and uneasiness of living in today's world?

This chick is going seriously old school baby. 1917 old school. It's time to pound those beads one decade of the time. Our Lady said her Immaculate Heart will triumph and I am her newest daily warrior in that war. No more anxiety or panic. No more useless anger and shouting at the TV.


Instead this Mary got peace, hope and decades of love.

Care to join me?

Let's get our prayer on shall we?

Monday, July 18, 2016

monday - a love letter...

oh monday, how do I love thee, let me count the ways...

caffeine strong and bountiful

over ice is preferred in the heat and the haze

the heat and humidity turn my hair to frizzle frazzle 

making me unable to dazzle

dieting is difficult with the push and pull of ice cream galore

all my belly says is bring me more, more, more...

the phone calls begin bright and early

as Jesus has called home the delicate and the burly

planning liturgy after liturgy takes all my focus

by mid-morning I seek quite in the church 

breathing deeply while staring at Our Lady's vase of fading crocus. 

with a calmer spirit I finish the holy chore 

three funerals this week and next week maybe more

oh monday, I have survived thee, let me count the ways

with sangria and greek food providing leftovers for days

now on to Tuesday...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

my sunday best ~ vol. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12...

In my quest to return to regular blogging I have a massive My Sunday Best post joining in the fun with Rosie over @ablogformymom There are bold colors, patterns and lots of heat and humidity to make my hair poof and frizzle. Yay summer!

First up we have a sunshine yellow dress I wore today. It has a knife pleated skirt with a lace inspired top, an empire waist and cap sleeves. It was light and airy to wear. I had been looking for a yellow dress all summer long. I stumbled upon this one from Lane Bryant a few weeks ago on the sale rack. I could not resist the price point of under $40. I paired it with my double strand pearls, a fav from my costume jewelry collection, plaid flats from Talbots 2015 Spring and a Dooney and Bourke "Ruby" satchel. I love this purse. I stalked it online until it hit the $75 and under price point then punched. It's leather with a fabulous hydrangea print.

Next up we have a classic Navy sheath dress with a unique short peplum sleeve. This one is from eshakti. I love this on-line resource. The fabrics are fun and I can choose different sleeves, necklines and skirt length for each dress I choose. You can also have them add in pockets!! I can also make adjustments with my measurements so the dresses have a better fit than off the rack. The price point is equivalent to the department stores but it does take 10-14 days for the dress to arrive so take that into account when ordering.

I paired this dress with a scarf from Charming Charlie's that is several years old and Ralph Lauren espadrilles from Summer 2013. Again, if you find something you love and cannot afford the price point, watch and wait my friends. Sometimes the shopping fairies are good to you and you can add some fabulous pieces to your wardrobe.

Here we have one of my outfits from work. Talk about a colorful pair of pants! Carmen Miranda ain't got nothing on me sister. Again both pieces come from the sale racks of Talbot's and Lane Bryant. The top is a cotton peasant blouse and the slacks are also cotton and so comfy. Perfect for a long day of polishing brass, candle wax removal and restocking sacramental wine. Oh the glamorous life of a liturgy coordinator.

Next up is one of my favorite new dresses, again from eshakti. They had a 40% off sale in June and I scored a few pieces. This orange and navy print dress is also light and airy and the scoop neckline is very flattering for us plus size busty ladies. The sleeve length is a flattering one for me with my larger upper arms. Of course the empire waist helps create a waisting where one may not be, making me feel slender and feminine. A good dress should do that for a girl. It should make you smile at the image in the mirror and this one does that for me.

This next two dresses were DressBarn finds. Again, sale rack to the rescue. I have lost one dress size this summer so I needed to find a few things that would work as I continue this weight loss journey and these two work.

A-line dresses work for my apple shaped body. the cling where I can handle it and then flare over my worst spots like my tummy and upper thigh. Normally I would wear a cardigan but it's just too darn hot for that nonsense, so embrace my fluffiness I shall. It's much cooler that way.

This sheath dress below has a fab "jewelry" collar which simplifies my accessory choices to my watch and some fabulous earrings. In this heat, simple is best. Blue is my favorite color and this weeks post really showcases how much I love the color. I am trying to branch out a bit but I always come back to what I am most comfortable in.

I was running errands this day so no make-up and flip-flops are the name the game. It's a colorful patchwork print that can be dressed up or down depending on my mood. I think dresses and skirts are actually cooler to wear in the summer, so bring on the fabulousness.

The last installment of this week's My Sunday Best is another jewel from eshakti. It's Boho style really sings to me and makes me want to take a sip of my favorite drink with an umbrella in it. The cotton is of the highest quality and the peplum sleeves just make it fun, like a party on your arm. The shade of blue reminds me of the sea and just makes me take a long deep breath.

The embroidered detail is what drew me to it in the first place. And...there are pockets!! You know how I feel about dresses with pockets. It's a love affair for sure.

There you go my friends. Now we are all caught up. You have seen 1/4 of my closet as well. LOL!

Until next week...happy dressing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

cape cod ~ how do I love thee...

Recently Jerry and I had the privilege and honor to attend the wedding of one of my best friends children. When I first received the invite, I was somewhat disappointed that it was in Massachusetts, figuring that my husband would not be in favor of going. He is not a big road trip guy.

We both have taken new jobs in the past year so neither one of us has a lot of vacation days but we could make a quick weekend trip. I presented Jerry with that idea when I showed him the invitation. To my surprise he told me that it was a great idea. He reminded me that we had promised ourselves after Courtney died that we would take advantage of getting away and spending time together. We had yet to make an overnight trip since her death, so I got to planning.

Cape Cod here we come!!

When Jerry and I were first married, we were stationed at NAS Brunswick in Maine. We had our children while stationed there. During those three years I fell in love with New England living. Cool summers and cold winters with tons of snow. Just what I love. Jerry on the other hand, was not so happy. He would live in the deep south if I was on board. Alas...no. This lady does not enjoy heat and humidity.

This was our first time back to New England since leaving in 1992. Cape Cod did not disappoint. The water, the seafood, the water, the time all alone with my guy, the water and of course the fabulous wedding of B and J.

I even bought a new floppy hat for the occasion. The weather could not have been more perfect. We stopped in Hyannis Port and hobnobbed with elite or at least we walked along the same shore line. 

Being the foodies we are, Jerry and I scouted out the local restaurants and man were they awesome. Have you ever had a fried whole belly clam fresh from that days catch? Oh sweet heaven...there are no words my friends...no words. They were a revelation to this clam shy patron. The margarita's were strong and cold, the Pasta Diablo was spicy and chock full of seafood wonderment. 

We enjoyed Baxter's Seafood and Spanky's Clam Shack. Jerry got a hug chuckle out of the signage. He turned into a twelve-year-old boy giggling and begging me to take a photo. 

I am one to oblige my husband when he is being all cute and immature. 

We walked. We talked for hours on end. We held hands and snuggled on beach benches. We giggled over the fact that we had a king size bed in the hotel but we sleep on a double at home. I felt like we were chasing each other every evening since we like to snuggle while going to sleep. Yes, we are spooners. We decided that a king sized bed would never grace our home. Way too much real estate for us. 

I realized that this was the first time on 24 years that Jerry and I had been away together, alone, in a hotel without children. It was a long overdue trip. 


I think my face might have actually cracked I smiled so much in those four days. 

To cap off our trip, we were privileged to attend the wedding of my BFF's eldest son. I have known this fine young man since he was six years old. He has grown into a handsome, intelligent faith-filled marine who with his fiancĂ© went through a lot to make it to this fantastical day. 

Is there anything more wonderful than the pageantry of a military wedding? The looks on their faces just make my heart skip. So much love. So much hope. So much joy. The Mass was filled with so many meaningful touches, the readings perfectly chosen and the bride and groom surrounded with both families and so many friends sharing their joy all enveloped in the Eucharistic Celebration. 

As it should be. 

My BFF Maria has been such a steady and strong influence in my life. I have had the privilege of her friendship for twenty years now and boy have we been through some stuff together. She is strong, brave, and a fierce faithfilled defender of life. She is one of four women in my life that if I called at 2 a.m. in crisis, she would get in her car and be there. She is that kind of friend. God is so very good to me. So very good. 

The fact that our husbands get along so well, is a bonus. Look at these two handsome gents. 

Maria and I don't look too bad either. Sparkles are us baby. Spanx are my friend. 

The reception was a blast and we danced our hearts out. The next day was a bit rough with a 4:30 a.m. wake up call to make it home for the 5 p.m. Mass. I was sad to leave but so very grateful for the time alone with Jerry and with our dear friends. 

Until next time Cape Cod. 

Sail on...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

no, i have not abandoned you...

Hyannis Port, MA - 2016

Hello Dear Friends, 

No,  I have not abandoned you. I am sure you have wondered where I have been or what I have been doing. So much to catch up on and share with you guys. Life has been craziness central and I feel like I have been put into a blender and whirled into a oblivion. 

Nothing bad mind you. Just moving through the next stage of grief and settling into a life without all the "first" reminders that my daughter is dead and I still have a life to lead. God still expects big things of me and of my family. It has taken me some time to really wrap my head around this and when I am in a battle I tend to be quiet and the words that I would put here, dry up like leaves in the fall. 

This is the longest time in ten years, other than Lent 2016, that I have been absent here. I missed you guys. I really did. I hope you missed me too. I pray your lives are going well and they are filled with laughter, joy, hope and relationships to treasure. 

What have I been up to? 

Well, I have been working full-time (some weeks overtime) as the Director of Liturgy for my home parish. There have been several funeral liturgies to plan and carry out for some of our beloved older parishioners who served the Lord so lovingly for many decades. It was an honor to be part of their goodbyes. I am amazed at how joyful I am when planing these liturgies. I thought it would be harder for me, but I am so honored to be of assistance to these families as they are so weighed down with that raw new grief that I remember so well when Courtney died. I get it and I want them to know they are not alone. I pray they do feel guided and comforted for my small efforts to make it all OK.

I have been traveling for the first time in a very long while. Jerry and I went to one of my BFF's sons wedding in Cape Cod, MA. followed the next weekend with a trip to Peoria, Illinois to attend the "Finding Your Fiat" conference that my sweet friend Bonnie Engstrom put together. I will share more on those this week.

In the midst of these events I have also been moving through a little tunnel of grief. Grief is something I am learning to live with. It has no timetable. It will never leave me and most days it hangs as a back drop of my life. Then there are moments, that come in a flash, knocking the breath from me, making my heart break all over again, as the pain rolls over me in a fresh wave after wave, knocking me to my knees, holding me there with the sheer weight of my loss. I miss her beautiful face, her smile, her laugh and her fierce fighting spirit. I miss the bouncy curls and her long fingers holding my hand so tightly. I miss the weight of her curled into my body, snuggled close as I sing another round of "You are my Sunshine". 

I know she is never far from me but that physical separation is hard most days and then there are days when it's overwhelming and feels insurmountable. It makes me stop and sit in prayer and allow myself the hot heavy tears that lead to the ugly cry. Then when it passes, I once again remind myself that by the grace of God we will be together again one day. Until then, I have work to do. 

I also have some news in regards to the series "31 Days with Mary; Love letter from One Mother to Another". I had published up to Day 23 and then everyday life swooped in and took over. Your response to this series was so wonderful that I have decided to listen to the emails and text messages you sent. In honor of this blogs tenth anniversary in October, I will be editing the posts and adding in the ones I have not published yet here,and self-publishing a little book this fall. I pray that when the project is complete, it will bring you fabulous readers a little bit of comfort and  encouragement.

After all, that's what you have done for me this past decade we have been together. 

I look forward to our time together this week. Until then, go hug your kids and tell them they are the best...because they are!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

my sunday best - vol 7...bold...

Summer has unleashed her hot and humid weather here in NoVa. As y'all know I am a fall/winter girl. I love the crisp cold air. Hot and humid is not my cup of tea but one must soldier on. Dresses and skirts are the staple of my summer wardrobe. As always, color and bold print are front and center. 

This morning I went with a scuba pencil skirt with a wide striped, bold graphic print. I paired it with a solid emerald green top with a long bow tie. I realized once I was at work that the green's didn't really match but at that point I can't change. I just smile and make it work. Confidence in what you are wearing is your best accessory my friends. Always. 

The second outfit I wore earlier this week to work. I love plaid. This Lane Bryant blouse is a lightweight cotton in a bright orange buffalo check with a white cami underneath. I don't usually go for such a large scale check but not that I have lost some weight, I can tuck things in. That makes all the difference. 

I paired it with a Navy blue cotton pencil skirt from Talbots that I've had for three years at least. My weight has gone up and down by about 15 pounds in the last three years, so I have two different sizes in my closet right now. I am hoping by the end of the summer to have just one. This whole weight loss thing is a journey through grief for me and I am taking my time. Slow and steady wins the day. 

Head on over to Rosie's A Blog for My Mom and check out some other My Sunday Best posts. Inspiration is all around my friends.

Have a great week! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

day 23 ~ to be seen...

You can begin here...

When I was in high school, I struggled to find my own identity. My brothers were athletes, and very good ones. I hated to sweat. I was one of eight and in that large a crowd, you gotta shout form time to time to make yourself heard. My kind of shouting usually manifested in me getting into trouble. This allowed lots of one on one time with the parental units whether that was my intended desire in that moment or not. 

Believe me when I say there was some serious crazy. Have you ever gotten your braces stuck to a cute young boy as you were kissing, only to have his mother find us, call my father, who showed up with wire cutters? Or did you steal some make-up from the local drug store, because your father forbade it, only to get caught by said parent and marched back up to the store to apologize to the manager? Or maybe you had a white denim mini-skirt, bought with your own babysitting money even though you were forbidden to wear it, hiding it in your room then slip out of the house, wearing it to school for spirit day only to be unprepared when your cycle starts forcing you to call your mother to come and get you, thereby revealing said ownership. I mean how did they survive the embarrassment I caused them, let alone what my other siblings did? Told you, cray cray people. 

It wasn't until my senior year that I found a little circle of friends that I grew to trust. Once I had peeps, I stood a little taller, wasn't so self conscious about my loud laugh or my 5'10' stature. If they accepted me, than I must not be that bad.  
I think back now and I realize how different things would have been for me if I had made other choices. If I had given into the loneliness and rejection, filling those holes with drugs, alcohol or sex. Even with all the parental humiliation I caused, my parents drew me in instead of pushing me away. They never gave up on me.

They watched as I started the youth group at my home parish with two other teens. I became a volunteer for different events and a lector. I won a scholarship for one year at the local Junior College. I had found my footing and I have no doubt it was due to my parents constant prayers for me to Our Lady. I know because my mother told me so. 

After high school graduation my mother took me for lunch one Saturday, just the two of us. A miracle really. Just me and my Mom, alone, no interruptions from little people, and there was pizza! She told me about her continuous prayers over the years, that I would not give up on myself and give into the dark side. She told me of her worry and strife over my choices and how desperate I seemed at times to be loved and acknowledged. She told me how much she and my Dad did love me, and how proud they both were of me and how blessed they were that I was their daughter. 

 It is a day I will never forget and it was decades ago. I can still smell the pizza and see my mother's smile. My mother saw me that day. She looked into my heart and knew that I needed to know without a doubt that I was loved and cherished. That I mattered. My Mom had figured out that through all my shenanigans, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. 

Sorry, I couldn't resist. 

I was finally in a place that I could hear what my mother had to say and to accept that love. She had been saying and showing it all along but I wasn't ready to humble myself enough to listen. I have no doubt it was hers and my fathers prayers that softened my heart. 

I find that I still struggle from time to time with this old temptation to "make people take notice". I think I will always have that with me. It's just a part of who I am. 

I have a need to be seen. To be loved and accepted for who I truly am. I wasted so much time on pretending, so no one will see the truth that I see in the mirror. The physical imperfections, the eyes that have lost their smile and a heart that is broken. 

It's in those darkest moments that I look to Mother Mary for the confidence I am lacking. One of my favorite prayers is the Memorare. The line always gets me "Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided."

She is there waiting for me each and every time. Waiting to hold my hand and listen to my needs whether they be silly or serious. Mother Mary stands by, arms waiting to hold whomever calls her name. 

Pray with me won't you;

Dearest Mother Mary, 

I fly to thee my Mother with a heart filled with pain and hurt. I ask that you kneel with me as I ask for your Son's help and guidance. I am confused. I am scared. I am reaching for understanding in the midst of chaos. Help me Mother Mary to rely on your Son trusting that he will not harm me but help lift me up from my agony. I implore your intersession, sweet Mother, on my behalf. May my prayer be answered and my needs met swiftly, allowing the pain to end and the hurt to heal. 

We ask this in the name of your son Jesus, 

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