Friday, September 2, 2016

hey,hey it's friday...{SQT}...

It has been forever since I have participated in {SQT} with the fabulously awesome Kelly @This Ain't Lyceum. Let's see what's happening at Chez Lenaburg shall we...

1. 
Tomorrow I get to actual spend time with the splendiferous Kelly Mantoan of This Ain't Lyceum as we are both speaking at the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference in Front Royal, VA. It's gonna be a party and I can't wait to see some of my peeps. It's been too long. 

2. 
The hubster and I are the leads for our parishes Labor Day Picnic. It is the 158th year for this picnic so the pressure is on. It has been an exhausting process keep all the moving parts from crashing down on our heads.

Today, all the food arrived and the most important pieces of the weekend...


What follows is Jerry's Instagram post that accompanied the above photograph (and yes, it's a real bible verse): 

grouchy_historian Ok. As far as I'm concerned the most important delivery of the day is complete. đź’© "You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. " Deuteronomy 23:12-14 #smoslabordaypicnic2016 #picnicking #shouldhavethepatienceofjob #standingonmyverylastnerve #yupiwentthere

3. 
While we were waiting for the 1100 chicken halves to arrive at the picnic site, Jerry and I took advantage of the lull and did a little fall grave clean up by our sweet Courtney's head stone. I chose purple, orange and yellow this time. By the time we were done, the Cisco truck had arrived. It made me smile to see everything looking spiffed up again. 



4. 
Sunday's a BIG day in the church. The awesome and spectacularly wonderful Blessed Mother Teresa will be canonized becoming Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Imagine, my Courtney is hanging out with her (and all the other saints) in heaven. I wonder what they talk about. 




5.
After checking out Grace's post on furniture painting, I am now inspired to get going on my own furniture projects. Only a few more weeks at the church and then it's home again for this chick. Well, for a few days anyway. Then there are talks to give and books to write. 

6.
Looking for a quick summer meal...I'm here for you my friends. Check out this little diddy...

Barefoot Contessa's Crunchy Noodle Salad
I have made this at least once a week the entire summer. Never a complaint to be heard my friends. It is so freaking good. 

7.
One more gram from the hubster's feed. Yes, he is this funny every day. Yes, I am a very lucky girl. Oh...he is kind of cute as well.





Monday, August 29, 2016

life.is.short ~ make.it.count.



Life.

It's a grand adventure.

Sometimes you are in a valley and can not see the light. 

Sometimes you reach the summit of the mountain and survey all the awesome wonder God has made. 

Most times we are heading up that mountain or on the other side heading down. 

God has a purpose for each season and each challenge we face within that season. 

Courtney has been in Heaven for 20 months now. 

I don't cry every day anymore. I don't even cry every week. I save it for special occasions, like her birthday or a day when I need to just sit in the grief for a bit, mulling over my loss and allowing myself to go that dark cavern, way deep in my heart where I keep my pain and loss. 

One does not "get over" losing a child. 

Ever. 

One does however, learn a few new dance steps, so that one can move through life finding some joy and happiness again. 

Over the past three months or so, I have been wrestling with my life goals and dreams. I am approaching my 49th birthday in a few weeks. This has made me stop and really think about what I really want out of life. 

You notice I said "I wanted" right? 

Yep. 

God noticed as well. 

When I was in Portland, Oregon last week, for the Catholic Women Rejoice Conference,  God and I got to spend some quality time together in the quiet of the Franciscan Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows Convent. He has spent the last year leading me out of heavy grief and into a new dance, demonstrating each new move with patience and grace, allowing me time to adjust and get used to the new choreography. 

My sweet daughter has been with me in every moment of these lessons. I thought that it was all about what "I wanted" and while there, I may have learned another thing or three thousand. 

You see, we celebrated Courtney's birthday while on the west coast and that night in prayer I felt led by the Holy Spirit to ask God the Father to speak to my heart, peel back my fear, and show me where He needed me to be. I asked Courtney to intercede for me during this time so that I would really listen and hear His voice if He chose to speak to me.


my inspiration and my heart <3 - 2013

Note to self: do not mess around when asking Courtney to intercede for you. My girl does not play around.  

Oh did he speak...

Courtney taught me many things while this side of heaven but one of the most precious lessons is one I had set aside for a time, but no more. 

Life is short. 

Time is precious. 

Love fully, holding nothing back. No regrets.

Live everyday as if it's your last one. 

Because it just might be. 

My daughter's life was filled with strife and difficulty, BUT, God always brought so much joy and hope to us no matter what was happening. It came through ALL the love and support you all gave so freely. It came from family members who moved mountains when needed to help us meet whatever need existed at the time. 

When it came to living in the moment, our daughter was the bomb dot com. Things would literally change on a dime, but, she still smiled and laughed and allowed us to love on her with wild abandon. I am so very grateful for that sweet gift. 

God brought these memories forward in my heart and mind last week, reminding me that He still had work for me to do for the kingdom. 

I have long held a dream of one day speaking and writing full-time. I have made many mistakes in my lifetime but in each and every one, I have found God's forgiveness. Not only that but He has encouraged me and loved me through all the insanity. I have never been alone for one moment. 

Not.one.moment.  

As I stood on a stage in front of 250 women, the Lord spoke directly to my heart and said "I want to give you the desires of your heart Mary. You see these faces? Speak to them from your heart and share my love for them with them. Dig deep my Mary. Be vulnerable and don't be afraid to expose your deepest hurts. I have forgiven them and healed them. Help draw these women to me, so I can heal them too."

I put my notebook down and spoke straight from my heart for 50 minutes about how God has made all things new in my life. I spoke about my husband, son and daughter, our ups and downs, our failures and triumphs. I spoke honestly, exposing the bruises in my life without fear. I told these beautiful women about the Lord's love for them and how He wished to heal them if only they would open the door to their hearts. 

It was beautiful. 

There were tears and laughter. 

In the end there was an embarrassingly long standing ovation, followed by hugs and whispered secrets, prayers asked for and given and so many blessings. I was blown away that so many women followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and headed to confession. God must have been so pleased to have so many souls reconcile with Him that day. The Holy Spirit showed up in spades and I was witness to the wonder of His overflowing grace.

I get goose bumps just thinking about it. 

It has happened this way every time I step out and give my redemption story. You think I would have gotten the message by now that maybe He had different plans for me but no. God is so patient with me. 

When I went to bed that night, I knew what new challenge God was calling me to. I knew that it was time to step out in faith of His provision for me and my family, and jump off the cliff trusting him with my landing. 

I came home filled with peace and a little bit of excitement. I chatted with the hubby, we prayed about it for a few days and then decided it was time to make some changes. 


At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows - Portland, Oregon

After a year of serving my local parish family with love, pouring myself out to assist families burying their loved ones as well as all the other jobs that go with being the Liturgy Coordinator, it's time for me to step back from that job and answer the call on my heart, placed by a loving God who needs me to walk in a new direction. 

September 30, 2016 is my last day on staff at St. Mary of Sorrows Church. I ask for your prayers for my pastor as he interviews and makes a decision on who my replacement should be. This will not be an easy thing for him. I'll add my prayers to yours. I have no doubt God will show up in a HUGE way. After all, He said leap, so He will cover the hard parts with mercy and grace. I have no doubt.

I am going into full-time ministry speaking and writing all about the love God has for us, no matter what we have done in our past. jerry will remain gainfully employed so we can eat and have a place to lay our heads at night. 

I'm going on the road to give retreats and talks all about letting go of shame and embracing who God made you to be. About accepting whatever cross God gives and wringing out every ounce of joy you can in honoring that gift. About finding joy after devastating loss, trusting God to renew and restore your heart. About letting God be sovereign in your life and walking with him. About keeping your eyes on him, never losing hope no matter what comes your way. 

About so many other things as well...

I have one devotional book three quarters done and a memoir almost half way done. 

Life is short and time is precious.Courtney's and my story needs to be shared. Life needs to be celebrated. The dignity of the human person needs to be honored. 

God gave me an awesome gift this past year. He allowed me to step out of grief and into service, showing me that I am capable of doing more than ever thought I could. He spoke through my pastor, urging me to love so many. He is now urging me further to step outside my comfort zone and bring His message of love and acceptance to as many as I can, all while letting go of the financial security of my steady salary. 

It is daunting. 

It is exciting. 

It is terrifying. 

It is the answer to a decade long prayer and Courtney is right in the middle of it all. 

Every time my stomach rolls or I break out in a sweat thinking about what needs to be done and how crazy this all sounds, I talk to my girl. "It's your fault I'm here so you had better intercede for me, moving mountains girl. Your momma needs you now more than ever." She has yet to disappoint. 

There you have it my friends. Life is beautiful. Life is short. Time is precious. It is time to leap and go forth and teach. Won't you cover me in prayer for this new adventure?  Cover Jerry too since this requires his to really trust in the Lord's provision for our family. Pretty please?

Here we go friends...here we go.

If you are looking for a speaker for your retreat or a single talk at your parish, give me a jingle won't you? I can be reached at (mary_romance@cox.net) I am totally willing to go wherever and the subject matter of each talk is individualized for my audience, wherever and whomever they are. 

It's time for new beginning #1,034 don't you think? 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

pushed to the edge...



One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is that when God pushes the limits of my comfort zone He is getting ready to talk me into leaping off a cliff with him.

Y'all I am not a thrill seeker in life. I don't ride roller coasters or jump out of perfectly good airplanes. I do enjoy a good surprise from time to time but in general, NOT looking to leap without knowing where I will land.

Well the Lord has recently answered a few long standing prayer requests and ALL of the answers, every.single.one. involve leaping without knowing what is coming. He is asking me to trust him in a HUGE way with my future.

There are so many thing to share with you guys!! So much has happened in the last two week, but I need you to be patient for a few more days. If you would do me the honor of holding me and my family in prayer until then, I will be back on Monday with some fabulous news that I think you will be excited about.

Y'all are just the best!!

See you Monday!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

in the kitchen ~ mom's cold tuna salad...



I have eaten this salad as long as I can remember. Growing up in a family of ten, my Mom was always looking for ways to feed a crowd on the cheap. The most expensive part of this recipe back n the day was the Miracle Whip. Now I think the tuna's price point is higher.

Mom would whip this up on the hottest of summer days and it was a staple at any potluck that we attended. There were never any leftovers. 

This salad comes together in about 15 minutes. You can add chopped red pepper, celery or bread and butter pickles if you'd like to change up the flavor profile. Be adventurous and make this recipe your own. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mom's Cold Tuna Salad
recipe by Marianne Green, my Mom

Ingredients:
1 pound box elbow macaroni
1 bag frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
4 cans white albacore tuna, packed in water, drained

Dressing:
2 cups Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt and peper to taste
(chopped celery and red pepper optional)

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, stir together the salad dressing, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and celery seed. 

Pour over the the macaroni, add in bag of peas and carrots and stir until well blended. Remember to check your seasonings and make adjustments according to taste. More or less vinegar. More or less salt and pepper.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

my sunday best ~ vol. 13, 14 and 15...


It's been a few weeks since I have chimed in for a fashion post. The weather is hot and very humid these days in NoVirginia. It must be August. 

For those who have been following me on the gram, you know I made a poor life chose last week in regards to my hair. Not only did I get it cut waaaayyyy too short but I strayed from my natural auburn color (with highlights of course) and went too dark. My new call sign - Vampire Mistress of the Dark. It;s been a huge lesson in impulse control and vanity. Thankfully, I will get the color fixed on Thursday. I cannot wait. 

This weekend I wore a blouse form eshakti with a long gold pencil skirt and navy heels. The only photo I have was taken in my office and I look horrid. Two blemishes on my face, the hair from hell and I only got about three hour sleep (darn Olympics). 

Rough. Really Rough. 

Moving on...

I have begun to wear white once more. When my sweet Courtney was alive, I would not dare. One sneeze while eating her favorite spinach soufflĂ© and stain removal became an olympic challenge. The color is slowly making it's way back into my closet. 



As y'all know, blue is my favorite color. I love any shade. It plays a prominent part in my wardrobe. This dress from eshakti has beautiful embroidery in shades of blue which pops off the crips white cotton. It has a four inch elastic waist that really helps me look slimmer. It cinch's me at the smallest part of my waist and then gently floats off my largest part. It's light, feminine and quite comfortable. We will ignore the lovely zits my non made up face. Always keeping real here my friends. 



Next up we have another dress in shades of blue. This one reminds me of water. I bought it at DressBarn two years ago I think. Again it's got that empire waist that is my go-to in the figure flattery department and then a gentle float away from the pufferfish belly. It's also wash and wear which for this working gal is key for ease of wear and care. 

I have truly embraced the sleeveless bodice this summer. I have never been comfortable with my east german swimmers arms but I am finally at a certain age that I know this is how it's going to be. So embrace it I shall and sweat I shall not. 



Next up is an outfit I wore to work this week. I love this longer sleeveless tunic. Vertical stripes are a plus size woman friend. The white slacks are just a dream to wear. They are a slim fit and so comfortable. I never thought I would wear white slacks and actually like them but I really do. Both pieces are the house brand from Nordstroms. Their twice yearly sale makes a clothes purchase of higher quality garments possible for me. 

There you have it my friends. I can't wait for Thursday so I can fix the great hair debacle of 2016. The lesson from this is when feeling a great need for change, call your best friend or your husband to chat about said change before entering the Vampire darkness of a horrid impulse move that will make you cry. 



Head on over to Rosie's a blog for my mom to check out some other fabulous women sharing their summer fashion choices. 

Have a great Sunday Y'all, 

Friday, August 5, 2016

28 years...





Greetings Blog Readers!

Saturday my lamby-pie and I celebrate 28 years of married bliss. Ok, maybe not ALL 28 were bliss. There were some days of “Holy crap what did I do?” and “Who the heck are you and what have you done with my sweet adoring life companion?” but for the most part we consider ourselves fortunate to have made it through the last 28 years still in love and with most of our marbles in one bag.

With that in mind, I thought I would inspire everyone with the wisdom gained from 28 years of married life. PAY attention men especially, as we used to say in the Navy, everything in a Navy flight manunal (we called them NATOPS) is written in blood, especially NOTES, WARNINGS, CAUTIONS.


In that spirit, here we go:

Notes: These are the little things that you should know

We shall start with the easy things. 

Men are always responsible for the position of the toilet seat. This is a mystery to me. Someone invented a hinged toilet seat for a purpose, you put it up if you’re a guy, you put it down if you’re not. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

However, this moves into a CAUTION status (where you could have severe aircraft damage or serious injury) if say, early in your marriage you left the seat up (or are accused of such) and your new bride has to use the bathroom at 3 am and say, sits down and experiences cold, cold water.


AND you could move into WARNING status (loss of life or an aircraft) if said wife shrieks at you that her butt is wet and cold and you roll on the floor laughing at her predicament. Not of course that this happened to a young Ensign in flight school or anything. Yup, not that it was stinkin’ hilarious. Not at all.

Ok, another NOTE

Somehow, men are expected in a marriage to perform three basic household tasks day or night, in all weather and flight conditions.



1) Smash large bugs. It is amazing to me that after 50 years of feminism, we still have to smash the huge hairy crawly things. Not that we mind, it is in our nature to hunt big game, but seriously honey, the spider the size of your finger-nail will not gnaw your leg off.

2) Open jars. This isn’t really a big deal, again, it’s an engineering thing, so we don’t mind doing it.

3) Take out the trash. I guess this goes back to removing the Wooly Mammoth carcass from the cave, but fine, whatever we can do that.

SO, I propose, based on my experience, that women should have three basic household chores to perform day or night:


1 ) Replace the stinkin’ toilet paper. 
Seriously, women use toilet paper twice as much as men, but somehow it’s our fault if the roll is empty? How does this work? I mean I always check toilet paper as a pre-flght rule, but somehow, my lamby-pie doesn’t and that’s my fault.

2) Remember ALL the family birthdays. 
Ok, this is a no-brainer. Men can reasonably be expected to remember that all those little people running around his house are his children and probably remember their names and well, shoot, their birthdays, BUT all the nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins., OYYYYY.. I have like 18 nieces and nephews (wife says 20) and there is no way I can remember all their birthdays…not even gonna try. Oh, and the wife should remember the parent’s anniversaries too, to avoid awkward phone calls.



3 ) This actually wonders into CAUTION territory sometimes, when it comes to date night, it’s ok to choose where to go to dinner. I mean after 28 years of marriage and 30 years of being together we still are like Laurel and Hardy (HA, if you don’t know who they are, you’re clearly not mature enough yet) “Where do you wanna eat?” “I don’t know where do you want to eat?” NOW, I have learned after 28 years to never go into WARNING territory and let my wife pick the movie as she tends to like sappy, emotionally laden movies where someone DIES tragically. So, I usually pick the movie and we do our schtick until we decided on the place we both really wanted to go to in the first place, but we’re being nice and letting our spouse come around to our point of view. Marriage Psycology 101….or as I like to say PSYOPS.

Now some real WARNINGS...

MEN, this is key…never, ever do this….TALK TO YOUR WIFE ABOUT HER BAD HAIR DAY. It’s like that movie Fight Club:

The first rule of Bad Hair Day is: you do not talk about Bad Hair Day. The second rule of Bad Hair Day is: you DO NOT talk about Bad Hair Day! Third rule of Bad Hair Day: if someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, Bad Hair Day is over. Fourth rule: only one woman in the house can have a bad hair day on any given day.


DON’T mess this up men, women become strange flame spewing she dragons when you ask (or don’t ask) “Honey did you get your hair done?” This may also work in reverse if your sweety is having a GOOD hair day and you don’t compliment her on this. Basically men, it’s sort of a Kobiyahsi Maru scenario…you can’t win. Seriously, after 28 years of marriage, I’m happy to have one, yes (1), 1, uno, lone hair on my head.

Another important WARNING. Never ever, listen to your sweetie when she says, “Ok, if that’s what you want to do, then go ahead.” This is usually a clever trap where she knows you want to do something expensive, ill-advised, or something involving fireworks, so be very careful, after all, she will be the person who calls the paramedics….or not.

Finally, and on a good NOTE. Always be appreciative for your spouse. Our best line, which we always used in marriage mentoring is “Well, at a certain point, you know you married the right person, because they are the only one who can put up with your craziness. (Yea I toned that down a bit). Now this may seem a bit crass (especially the original sailor version) but in a way it is true.

Love is knowing everything about your spouse, the good, bad, and ugly, and loving them everyday anyway. Knowing they always have your six (have your back for you civilians) and that they will love you no matter what.


My lamby-pie have literally been through hell together and these last couple weeks have been PAINFUL, but we hang in there.

We are a team, now and always.

1986 - The Beginning...
I love you lamby-pie.

OH, AND I do want it publicly known that I made actual dinner reservations for our anniversary to avoid the Laurel and Hardy routine. SCORE!

Today- 2016 - She's still cute, a keeper for sure. Happy Anniversary Babe!


Monday, August 1, 2016

freedom...it's what God wants for ALL of us...



Freedom. 


Freedom from shame. 

Freedom from guilt. 

Freedom from past mistakes and sin. 

Sounds awesome doesn't it? 

You know it's possible, right? You know that God loves you more than your sin and your shame, right? You know that the war has already been won and the gates of hell shall not prevail, right? 

You know that Jesus died on the Cross for you and for me, then He rose three days later and opened the gates of heaven for all who know and love him, right?

You see, I ask these questions of you as I ask them of myself every single day. 

I spent much of my adult life weighed down in shame and un-forgiveness, of myself and others. I have had to learn how to "let go and let God". 

Recently during confession, I was walking through some intense shame and self-loathing I felt for mistakes I had made long ago that I was still carrying around. As Father guided me through this maze of pain, he helped me pray my way through asking God for forgiveness and thereby helping me to forgive those whom had hurt me. 

That day, I was struggling with the very idea that God died for ME, this wretched sinner who didn't deserve such an act of love. At one point I was asking my sweet Courtney for forgiveness over my perceived inadequacies of my mothering and caring for her. I desperately needed her to know I had tried my best even if I had failed along the way. I needed her forgiveness. 

I closed my eyes for a moment and for the first time since her death I saw my daughter clearly as if she was literally standing right in front of me. She simply put her hands on my cheeks, as I had done to her so often, looked into my eyes with her crystal clear blue ones and told me "I love you Mama. I love you always and forever." Words I had said to her every single day of her life.

I knew that God had sent her to me in that moment so that I would no longer be weighed down by worry or fear. Father shared with me later that in that moment he saw Our Lady leaning down and handing me a rose, to offer her complete understanding and love from one grieving mother to another.

In that moment, I felt a weight lift off of me. I mean I actually felt physically lighter. This was a first for me and it was way uncomfortable. After all, for the first time in a long time I was free. Truly free. 

This was not my typical confession experience. I had carried some things for so long I had actually grown afraid of laying them down because I didn't know how it felt to not have them with me all the time. 

Crazy right? I was more willing to carry that sin and shame than to lay it down at the Cross and ask forgiveness because I was afraid of how my world would be changed. That's just nuts and yet...I know I am not alone. 

God absolved me from my sin that day and many times since. He sent my daughter to me to make sure I really heard Him. He loved me enough to send His son to hang on a Cross, so the I might have life.

This freedom...I want it for you too.  





The weekend of August 19-20 I will be in Portland, Oregon to speak at the Catholic Women Rejoice Conference. The theme of the conference this year "Rejoice and be Free". My dear friend Heather Renshaw started this conference five years ago and each year to has grown and so many women have been blessed by it. 

This year will be no different. 

My sweet friend Hallie Lord will be joining me sharing the keynote duties. She will be speaking about fear and how to move beyond it. Jenna Guizar, the founder and creative director of Blessed is She will be sharing as well along with the indomitable Rebecca Frech  and Heather herself. Mass will be said by Bishop Sample. It promises to be an amazing conference and I pray you are able to join us. 

What will I be speaking about? 

Fortitude and perseverance through all the muck and mire that life throws at you. I will be concentrating on four words...Thy Will Be Done. These are the four words that freed me from bondage and pain and allowed me to love my special needs daughter Courtney for twenty-two years before God called her home. They are the words I cling to now when I am confused and uncertain of where God wants me to go or what He needs me to do. 

I know that God has great things in store for this conference  and those attending it because everything that could go wrong has. It's the devil trying to distract us from this incredibly important message that ALL women need to hear. 

Rejoice and be Free!! 

Thy Will Be Done!!

Guess what, this girl will not be shaken, or distracted or thrown aside. I will not give up or give in to discouragement or fear. If you can make it, click here and see what a special deal I worked out for my readers. This special pricing is only good until August 15 so go get those tickets. 

Rejoice and be Free!!

Thy Will Be Done!!

Join me in Portland won't you? I'd love to see you there. 


PS. If you are a crafter, writer, artist, small business owner or have an etsy shop and you would like to donate a door prize or purchase a business card ad in the program for some extra publicity among your Catholic peeps, PLEASE email me at mary_romance@cox.net and I will hook you up. I will also give you a personal shout out at the conference. Share your talents my friends. It's why God gave them to you. 
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