Today my area is trapped by a blizzard.  Trapped by a snow that has shut down at least two major highways, and yet, I feel incredibly blessed.

I have electricity.  I have warmth.  I have running water.  I have my family home safe.

I have my husband who had to stay home from work today so that he could re-plow the driveway.  He cannot get to work due to road closures.  Yesterday, he refused to stay in Marquette, likely because he was more worried about leaving us potentially stranded here than he was about himself.

I am trapped, but peacefully so.  My students are actually starting to whine about NOT being able to go back to school.  In short, I think this post is about how sometimes (like during Lent) we need to go without things in order to appreciate when we do have.

I am largely without a voice, and already, my family listens more. If my speaking is still froggy or whispery when I go back to school, the students often will whisper back and behave better.  I appreciate the students who are emailing me assignments or asking me questions.    I am grateful for those who do care and for the Internet to allow me to help them.

I am going without a lot of sleep due to coughing, so I am grateful for the brief snatches I do get.  


But I am with so very much more.  God wants me to appreciate the moment.  Being trapped by God is a blessing.


Week 2

Ash Wednesday Week

It was lunch time during a very odd winter homecoming week.  Short.  Off-kilter. The students were all eating and chatting, when in walked a Catholic woman with a large ash cross upon her forehead.  No, it wasn’t me, but I wish it had been.

She strode across the cafeteria with a serene smile.  The students didn’t really react, and some seemed not to see her at all, although I am sure a few noted her smudge and made comments.  For me, it marked a brief but indelible presence.

It has made me contemplate what exactly these ashes mean.  My young daughter asked me exactly that.  She had just come from altar serving practice, and she has been asking many great questions about the Catholic faith.  


So, I ask you the same question in turn:

What do the Lenten ashes mean to you?



To me, they mean many things:

First, they mean what the priest instructed when I received my own ashes: “Repent and remember the gospel”.

 I do need to stay humble, avoid sin, and I need to find more time to study from the Bible.  

My  ashes were blurry, some were on my shoulders, and a bit more in my hair.  Symbolically this may show that my faith has not always been focused on God, but more on what God can do for me.  Perhaps this is where so many people go astray; it’s the “It’s all about me” factor.

Our ashes were dirty and some had stained my daughter’s white hat.  I still haven’t yet been able to toss that into the laundry yet.  It’s as though I too want to simultaneously hide and show off our faith. But, since I cannot easily profess it at work, I will have to try to lead by example instead.  The staining may also symbolize the dirty past history of the Catholic church or shame for all of our sins.  On the other hand, Jesus had dinner with both tax collectors and sinners alike.

 I also want to encourage some of those in my family who have left the church to return.  Maybe this is why I keep noting the scattering of the ashes–how they seem to get everywhere, but no where at the same time.

My daughter said she wanted to give up candy.  I was so proud of how she listened intently to the deacon during his brief advice at the children’s service.  She also has been asking to help in the house more.  Her abandon of candy lasted 24 hours, since the next day was Valentine’s Day.  I wanted to scold her, but since I had chosen to give up anger (or trying to minimize becoming angry), I too have not been completely successful.  Thirty days should not be that long of a goal to purify ourselves!

I guess that is what Lent may truly be about to me.  It’s something to do within and a process of continual spiritual cleansing.  It is not only about  great suffering, fasting, or crying out like hypocrites who may pray more for recognition of their praying than about God (echoes of Matthew 6:5), but a cleansing from the inside out.  I can remember that I am dust and to dust I will return, or I can repent, and work more on remembering who and what I am supposed to be and what God wants me to do.

Week 1

I just learned how to start a blog today.

I also am learning about how to give more and to how to sacrifice more.

It surprised me to learn (from Kelly’s book) that the Unites States may be promoting divorce and profiting from the pain in broken people as these trends lead to greater profit.

To combat this negativity, my first attempt has been to give more by upping what I tithe ten percent for this year. I hope to try to increase this amount each year.

Although my family and I don’t exactly make millions, I can afford to give to my church and to those who need it.

I further promise to never use this blog in anger, but with God always in mind. Some of my friends may think I am crazy, or even that I am joining a cult, or becoming an online paster. No. Nothing of the kind. This blog is a journey to try to become the best Catholic I can be.

Our family has given up many things to live where we do:

*We have given up television. At first, not because we wanted to (after the digital TV conversion), but now, even though we could afford satellite, because we have found better things to do with our time.

*We are not dominated by cell phones or technology. In fact, although we pay a lot to maintain high speed Internet access, I shut off all work-related emails, so as to concentrate on family when I am with my family.

*We are not getting top salaries. I think we can afford to live. It is enough. I could work somewhere else and earn more. My husband is very skilled and could earn more. We manage.

*We are not surrounded by tons of people or feeling the need to have piles of constant admirers. I could live closer to my friends, but I have learned that there is a big difference between good friends (those who invite me to stay with them or those I delight to have come and stay with me). We resist the urge to live by a status quo or to be “popular”.

*We live where it is safe and mostly clean. We love living where we have some privacy, clean water, where I can garden, and my children can run and play.


I also decided to do a bit of sacrifice today. This week is Ash Wednesday and the calendar I received in the mail from “Food for the Poor,” challenged me to make a small sacrifice for someone else. Although I feel I already do that daily as a mom and as a teacher, I decided to so a sacrifice with my husband in mind.

He is a very hard worker; he is often gone well over 40 hours each day for work, and he still manages to do all the household chores at the cost of additional hours (just to keep things running smoothly and safely). This may mean hours of snow shoveling/plowing, roof repairs, etc.

So, today I dragged a heavy ladder up to the house and shoveled as much of the snow from the roof as I safely could. This included opening much of the roof vent, the edges, and trying to open rain gutters. I didn’t do nearly as good of a job as my husband does. I learned to appreciate even more the sweat he dedicates to keeping a heavy snow load off our roof. I have always helped some in the past, but I have never shoveled alone. The whole time I worked, I asked God to help me do what I could. I lugged the ladder. I asked Him to help me keep my footing on slippery shingles.

I made a small difference on the roof, but small is where I plan to start this journey…