Category Archives: Prison

Divine Mercy and Pope Saints

Today we are blessed with 2 new saints to our army of intercessors, friends to pray with us, friends to pray for us and friends who were once Pope.  Jenny is hosting a little gathering of memories of Saint Pope John Paull II and there are a ton of great stories, photos and pictures,  a great way to remember the man and to celebrate the saint!

My contribution contains no personal photos of up close and in person with JPII and no earth-shattering and profound moments except that when I came back to my faith in the late 90s, early 2000s, John Paul II was Pope, when my world fell apart in 2003, John Paul II was Pope, when we entered our season of separation and survival, John Paul II was Pope, as we ended our first school year in that season, John Paul II passed away.  The foundation had been poured and the example of his own mercy, forgiveness and love for humanity penetrated deep into my own heart and has since been lived out in ways that can only be accredited to “By the Grace of God” through the living example of Pope John Paul II.  Not only did he pray for mercy for the whole world (see a portion of the Divine Mercy Chaplet below),  he sought to bring his whole flock to the faith and love of Christ and he fought hard for the youth, knowing that the  young are our future.  Perhaps that is the message that sticks with me the greatest.  And so today, Divine Mercy Sunday, we welcome 2 new Saints and rejoice in the example of faith in their lives and hopefully go forward sharing our own faith with all we come in contact with, that we may all come to love and trust in the saving power of Christ in His endless Mercy, Compassion and Grace.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

I’ve tried to find out a bit more about Saint John XXIII as well and just loved his quotes I found this morning on the Catholic News Service…because we should all find some humor in life (which I often struggle with among the daily “must-dos”)!


1. Visiting a hospital he asked a boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said either a policeman or a pope. “I would go in for the police if I were you,” the Holy Father said. “Anyone can become a pope, look at me!”

2. “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about the serious problems afflicting the world and I tell myself, I must talk to the pope about it. Then the next day when I wake up I remember that I am the pope.”

3. In reply to a reporter who asked, “How many people work in the Vatican?”, he reportedly said: “About half of them.”

4. When a cardinal complained that a rise in Vatican salaries meant a particular usher earned as much as the cardinal, the pope remarked: “That usher has 10 children; I hope the cardinal doesn’t.”

5. When he went to visit a friend at the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit in the evening, the nun answering the door said: “Holy Father, I’m the mother superior of the Holy Spirit.” He replied: “Lucky you! What a job! I’m just the ‘servant of the servants of God.'”

6. Not long after he was elected pope, Blessed John was walking in the streets of Rome. A woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing what she said, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”

7. He once wrote: “There are three ways to face ruin: women, gambling and farming. My father chose the most boring one.”

8. When he was cardinal and patriarch of Venice, the future pope was talking with a wealthy city resident and told him, “You and I have one thing in common: money. You have a lot and I have nothing at all. The difference is I don’t care about it.”

9. When a journalist asked the then-patriarch of Venice what he would be if he could live his life all over again, the future pope said, “Journalist.” Then he said with a smile, “Now let us see if you have the courage to tell me that, if you could do it all over again, you’d be the patriarch!”

10. A Vatican official told the pope it would be “absolutely impossible” to open the Second Vatican Council by 1963. “Fine, we’ll open it in 1962,” he answered. And he did.

Today as we welcome these Saints we can pray,

“Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII, pray for us and the whole world.”

Theme Thursday: Dad

What is the meaning of this, Tracy?  Two posts in one day?  What in the sam heck is going on with you?!??!  Clearly this time off with a rehabbing child who is limited in energy and prohibited from sun has us INDOORS and running short and brief errands which in turn leaves me plenty of “bon-bon time” as my Hubby calls it.  Shoot, I’ve got blogs in stand-by, you’ll be sick of me by next week.  Or hooked.  Either way.  When I actually blog, my stats go UP.  Who knew??

So today…..I join in with Cari and fellow Themers at:

Father’s day is coming.  I’ve got a super cutie thingamajig planned for the Hubs by the kids (totally His love language, but I can’t tell you about it b/c he actually reads my blog from time to time…so tell you later!).  And so perfect timing on the Father Theme.

Dads are crucial.  Period.  End.

Case in point:  When my Hubs was “away” I knew, KNEW, KNEW….his relationship with our kids and vice versa was the key to our future as a family.  We did everything we could to cultivate those relationships during this time apart, from frequent visits, phone calls, letters, date-visits, photos, etc, etc.  There came a time close to him coming home during a heated exchange with our oldest at his tweeniest that he said to me “You wait until I tell Dad about this”.  It was at that point, I knew all of our joint effort as husband and wife, mother and father that it was ALL.  WORTH.  IT.   Further affirmation came when Hubs was finally home with our dark chapter behind us and re-entry into our FULL family life was essentially smooth as buttah.  Life wasn’t and ISN’T perfect, however, our struggles are pretty much in line with any other family life with mucho kiddos.  We are imperfect people.  What can I say?  We acknowledge it and move on.

The fact that Abba, Father has been the cornerstone of our family life may have had a little somethin’ somethin’ to do with it also.  Just an observation.

Happy Father’s Day, Hubby!  And to all those dads out there….keep workin’ it….it’s worth every second!!!

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Birthday. Poor guy never gets a straight shot at the candles!

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Father’s Day ’11

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Father’s Day with Popop, MY step-dad who is the BOMB-Diggety. This is 2 years old and he is now dwarfed by the boys…

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The boys off to mow lawns, a job obtained due to Dad’s teaching, patience and diligence. My wallet is forever grateful!

A decade of sobriety.

10 year coin and copy of AA founder's actual prescription to his patients.

10 year coin and copy of AA founder’s actual prescription to his patients.

10 years ago this month our life was forever changed.  My dear Hubby’s drinking problem finally came to a head and he hit his “rock bottom”.   This post isn’t about that moment.   However, just to give you a SUPER brief overview:  there was an event fueled by an alcoholic binge, the event led to prison…for 7 years.  I moved in with my parents for 5 years to have help with the kids (1,2,5& 7).  Later I bought a house (awesome God story in that one!!).  Hubby came home roughly  18 months ago.  I have stories galore of God and His plan and the countless mercies and graces He rained upon us through our family and our friends but those are for another time (or when I feel led to copy them over from my prior blog); this is about my Hubby.  About staying sober.  About losing everything and gaining even more.

Immediately following the event, Hubby went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  In the midst of losing his job, draining our retirement account and preparing to sell our house to prepare for what lie ahead, he continued to attend meetings;  everyday, sometimes twice a day, faithfully trying to figure out how to repair his life, our marriage and live without alcohol.  He also went to an inpatient rehab center for 28 days.  Though it was difficult (to say the least) with him gone, we both knew there was no other option if he was going to make sobriety a priority first for himself, secondly for our marriage and family.  He was in it for the long haul.

The time apart was good since it gave me time to process everything that had happened, was happening and would likely happen.  It gave me time to choose if I would throw in the towel or stay and fight for our marriage.  Neither would be easy, but the fight would be A. FIGHT.  In the end, God gave me the amazing gift in the ability to forgive my husband.  The peace that followed lit a firestorm in my faith, gave me amazing strength and removed the weight of grief weighing my heart down.  It was at that time I received a clear and concise promise through my quiet time:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, for a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

It’s become our family’s Scripture.  Our mantra.  Our lifeline.  His plan is not always ours, but He can most certainly use ANYthing for good.  And He most certainly did.

From rehab Hubby and I both learned that Alcoholism is a hereditary disease.  In talking with the kids, we explained it as an allergy; ‘some people can drink alcohol with no problems, other people can’t’.  It may not BE an allergy, but it’s a realistic analogy.  We also learned it takes hard work, not to mention that family and friend support is crucial.  This was a HUGE help for me in not being resentful at the time he spent at AA meetings and with his sponsor.  These times away were for the long run and this was a marathon for our entire family.

For my Hubby (and I know this doesn’t hold true for everyone), drinking alcohol is a non-issue.  He has no desire or urge whatsoever.  He lost his job, career, financial status, friends, and years in prison to alcohol…no amount of Miller Lite is going to wash that taste out of his mouth.  Ever.  As for me, I can take it or leave it.  On that note, we keep our house “dry”, it is a small sacrifice for me in supporting him.  On occasion, I do meet up with my girlfriends or my mom or my sister and have a glass of wine.  Just not with my husband.  And it is rare.  Maybe once or twice a year.  Seriously.  Guess what?  It’s no big deal.  However, everyone is different and I know that for us, we chose to seek God in showing us the way to work it together.  It works for us.

The thing is when you are an alcoholic and choose sobriety, your life changes.  Even if you don’t go to prison, but have come to your “rock bottom” or close, it is a lifestyle change; sadly not everyone will be on board.  Our family recognizes this and respects our dry house and go on about their business in their own homes.  Some family members just don’t get it.  at all.  period.  They can’t understand why it’s even an issue.  Often they are the ones steady hitting the bars and/or regularly “tying on one”.   You just have to be ready to change and willing to put in the sweat equity.

For us, ten years later, our marriage is stronger because we can communicate–even if we disagree on something–and respect each other’s opinions and work toward a compromise.  We are setting an example for our children in pushing through difficult times and staying true to your self, even if that choice is contradictory to everything the world tells you.  Our health is good (knock wood, we are getting older you know!) and Hubby even ventured back into triathlons at the end of the season last summer.  We have jobs (although in this economy and uncertain job market that can change at any time for any one) and are thankful for them.  Our finances are improving and recovering from our total drain.  Our faith grows.  Everyday.  So many ways.  We take each day, one day at a time.  Today is all we have.

Honey, I’m proud of you.  Of all your hard work.  For every effort you make at improving yourself for us and for yourself.   You are an awesome Husband, Father, and Friend and I look forward to every day and am excited to see what God has in store for us for the next decade…and so on and so on!

So far, so good, so much better than it was.  10 years later.

Life giving friendships

These girls, ladies, women, amazing friends and sisters in Christ.  They’ve been an integral thread in my life for a dozen years.  We met during a women’s retreat at our parish and many of our husbands participated in the men’s retreat that took place after ours.  Our retreat group was probably twice this size after formation, but this group……THIS group struck a bond.  A bond that went beyond formation and providing the next retreat.  A bond strengthened over bible studies, rosaries, dinners and desserts.  In spite of busy lives and season changes, we’ve managed to stick together, each taking a piece of the other’s heart so that we are all forever sisters regardless of distance and life’s plans for us.  These are life giving friends.

This picture captures a rare moment of togetherness recently,  and marks the move of one friend and her family to Washington D.C.  The fact that we were ALL able to make the dinner (with school over and summer ON, one with laryngitis, one leaving the next day with her husband and 6 kiddos on vacation, myself being 4 hours away, and one with a newborn) was an amazing accomplishment in itself–on a Wednesday night no less!  It was a bittersweet dinner (saying goodbye is NEVER easy) however, we were ALL able to take turns “catching up” in a roundtable discussion and enjoy each other’s company, laughing at stories and enjoying super delicious food, too–BONUS!

12 years brings much opportunity for prayer, encouragement, hope, love and comfort.  What a blessing in these friendships, an abundant harvest resulting from following the prompting of our Lord to attend a weekend retreat.

These friendships are a tapestry of prayer and God reveals the image one story at a time.  Through the years He’s weaved that tapestry through praying for one another and sharing in each other’s lives.

Prayers for struggling marriages and praises for God’s gift of forgiveness, compromise, commitment, and strength in fighting through the challenges and the fruit of  healed hearts.

Prayers for babies born and unborn and praises for those who took their sweet, sweet time.

Prayers for being open to life  and praises for the many varied gifts of life in this culture of death.

Prayers for children’s health, novenas for treatment and praises in God’s gift of talented physicians, compassionate nurses and a network of prayer warriors storming heaven.

Prayers for children lost in the sea of peer pressure and hurt as they spread their wings and fly solo, praises for God’s path and the gift of  healing through angels on earth who allow the Holy Spirit to form their words and gently redirect their path.

Prayers for the unfairness of cancer and all the promises it robs, praises for the power of prayer, God’s will and the promises of His plan far exceeding our own.

Prayers for guidance and advice in the ongoing vocation of motherhood and marriage, and praises for God’s wisdom and love provided through friends as we all weave our families through this obstacle course of life.

Prayers through job loss and financial struggles and praises for jobs found, opportunities presented a faith to step out of comfort zones into Trust.

Prayers throughout a family’s prison ordeal and praises for a family restored.

Prayers for friends who move away and praises for the unexpected gifts received in stepping out in love and hope.

Prayers spoken, fears whispered, tears shed, hope restored, love shared, faith renewed.  Prayer warriors and lifetime friends.  A bond not weakened by distance.  A bond strengthened through prayer, sharing, love and faith.

Thank you, Lord for the gift of friends.  I am truly blessed.

Proverbs 11:14 

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

For more on friendship Scripture check here…

A year? REALLY? WOW!

What a difference a year makes.  Last year at this time (yesterday), I was counting down the hours, playing it cool with the kids trying not to let the cat out of the bag that THIS DAY would END our season of Daddi-O “away” in prison.  No more weekend visits, patdowns, metal detectors, long and hot lines, crappy vending machine food, games of UNO (although UNO is enjoyable…), teary good-byes and collect phone calls.  Hallelujah, our 7 years was OVER.  We were ALL ready, willing and able to slam that chapter shut and file it away, preferrable under a tree somewhere and move ON!!  And move on, we did.  I’ve mentioned it several times along the way in my blog, such as HERE and HERE (where I forward you on to my interview with the amazing and gracious Pat Gohn @ Among Women), but generally I don’t dwell on it.  It was a difficult period in our life, in which we choose not to let define WHO we are but rather how we move on in spite of it.  We all fall short.  We all make mistakes.  And we are ALL one step from prison, believe me, it only takes ONE mistake to completely change your life, if you think you are immune, I can only say “Dream on”.  We are all sinners and one mistake can easily change the course of your life.  However, now I’m getting off track!

We marked the day quietly with (if I do say so myself) amazingly awesome, homemade double chocolate chip cookies after dinner.   And I’ve reflected on the past year, in awe.  Obviously many changes have occurred, and strangely enough, many things haven’t even changed.  God is good!

  • Having Dad in the house has HUGELY altered attitudes and hearts in a precious way.  Our oldest son, who had automatically assumed “man of the house” role (despite encouragement to ‘be a kid’) relinquished that role back to Dad.  He still pipes in at times where he needs to zip it, however, it’s an ongoing lesson for ALL in “Minding your own business 101″.  His smile is back and peace has returned.  My heart swells.
  • Youngest son has blossomed from the simmering and sometimes explosive temper to the French Horn playing prodigy.  (OK, maybe not prodigy, but for the kid’s first effort @ a musical instrument, he’s had a phenomenal year)  He’s excelled in school.  The temper has tempered (still rising occasionally, but more expected than unexpected).  He’s a focused kid, whether on Xbox with his friends or deciding he’s going to play an instrument, qualify for fitness team or Wow his teachers (and we had a phone call from his extremely impressed math teacher just the other night).
  • Our people pleaser, oldest daughter has begun to emerge from her pleasing shell.  Ready to condition for soccer.  More confident in her leadership abilities.  Harnessing that confidence at school and at home. Enjoying the attention from Dad.  The obvious security he brings to her life has brought her more calm and less frantic.  She is a nurturer and that love and sweetness spills out, not only to our family but to little kids everywhere.
  • Our youngest.  Though she has had the biggest battle with sharing Mom with Dad, she has made great strides.  Quality time with Dad, has helped her to slowly but surely work on her self-control.  As the youngest, I think she’ll always have that “Diva” in her, however, she is methodically bringing that personality trait under control.  She has found her natural athletic ability a great fit for outdoors-loving Dad and they enjoy kayaking (she’s a great paddler) together.
  • I’ve had to re-learn to not employ the ENTIRE bed to myself but to use “my side”.   A year later, I’m still working on it.
  • I’ve had to learn how to share the burdens of parenting, finances and household chores when I’ve been used to doing it solo.  My way.  That wasn’t so much fun sometimes, but it’s a lovely treat to no longer have to deal with the yard work.  The house has been painted and looks fabulous.  Our finances are more well-organized.  Parenting is more consistent since we can tag-team and I am not as easily worn down by incessant begging.
  • We’ve had to rework the seating chart @ Mass.  The presence of Dad @ Mass is a huge impact on two boys who are quickly getting to the age of “WHY do we go to Church?  It’s boring.  It’s all old people (true in our area). ”  Learning by their Mom AND Dad’s example will do more for their Faith than me alone.
  • A therapist told me before Hubby came home that it will take 90 days for him to acclimate to a non-institutionalized life.  I’d say that was about right.  It took most of the summer for him to acclimate to life at home and all the changes over the past 7 years, technology wise, etc.
  • The same therapist told me it would be about a year before he and WE would return to “normal”.  I’d say things are great.  At this one year point, we’ve truly hit our stride.  I don’t know what “normal” is, but for our family, we are doing alright.

Life isn’t perfect.  But God is.  And He is good.  There is no doubt our family is a miraculous testament to His goodness and mercy in carrying us through these past 7 years, providing for us and giving us hope when the world would tell us it’s a lost cause and we are wasting our time.  When I could physically see that  roughly 200-300 men out of 1300 incarerated regularly receive visitors, I can more fully understand why we have such a problem with recidivisim.  Where there is no love, there is hell.  There is no fear in love.  (1 John 4:18)  Praise God for His example of love, His love brought us out of our season of darkness and into this new season of growth.

We’ll still navigate these learning curves of two people in the kitchen….urgh!!….old people kissing and hugging OPENLY…..they’ll get over it….Life isn’t perfect.  But it’s what we do with what we are given.  For us….we’re making the best of today in hopes of a better tomorrow.

I missed a day of blogging, but these peeps might not have…still a few more days in May…go check ’em out!

Laura

Lynnell

Apurva 

MB

Brite  

Amanda 

Lea 

So THAT’S how I talk…

A while back I agreed to do an interview with Pat Gohn from the Among Women pod cast.  She’s a wonderful speaker (voice like butter!) and I always enjoy her pod casts:  part women Saints history and the other part an interview with various women on various topics.  I love getting a glimpse into other people’s lives, their faith walk and how they incorporate their faith into this world.  Her program feeds my “spiritual voyeurism” and encourages me to keep on keepin’ on.  We all need that from time to time, don’t we?  Back to the interview…..she asked me to speak about MY faith and how it was tested, evolved and sustained me through our own trials.  For some reason I agreed.  Completely out of my comfort zone, I assure you.  However, I had prayed for a long time that if our suffering and faith walk were ever to be a comfort and encouragement to others, than  “Lord, here I am”.

Pat was amazing.  Having NEVER done anything like this in my life, she guided me each step of the way.  Beginning with a draft AND a word count (sheesh!), she edited my story showing me where to fill in the holes.  Once I got going, I didn’t worry about the word count, the story wrote itself.  We Skyped a couple of times to go over things and prep and then came the interview.  It was like chatting with a dear friend over coffee, which is exactly as she wants it to feel.  HOW does she do that???

In the end, the show was aired this week.  I listened yesterday and once I stopped counting my “uh’s and umm’s” (a public speaking gig I won’t be pursuing any time soon) I listened.  And relived.  And stepped out of myself.  And praised God for a wonderful work that  He has done in our family. (and continues to do so daily)  I also realized that I need to get back to THAT place of prayer and faith that I purely lived in heart, mind and soul for so long.  I hope it was somewhat of a tribute to how God blessed us so amazingly with family and friends in our life willing to do His work for us.  It really does take a village and our family, our children, have been blessed mightily in spite of this period of difficulty.

So cling to Him.  He will deliver you.  Today’s Readings are of Esther asking for God to put the words in her mouth to release her people.  She gives Him full reign, full obedience.  Waiting on direction.  The Psalms remind us that when we call on the Lord, He DOES hear us.  We are to trust.  And in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus reminds us to ask, seek and the door will be opened.  And if even we as earthly parents give our children what the ask for can we even IMAGINE what God can do for us.  I’m here to tell you, it’s true.  Every bit.  It’s a huge step in faith.  Easy to say, but that first step is a doozy and won’t be one you regret.

Blessings!

Wrapping up the week…

Friday and since I am on a roll, I figured I would once again participate in 7 Quick Takes with lots of other people!  You can check in over @ Betty Beguiles for all kinds of fun, weekly reports from all over the world!

  1. I’ve started reading the Hunger Games.  The fact that I can come up with 6 other things while getting sucked into this book is amazing in itself.  yes.  I just called myself amazing.
  2. After getting the new and revised football schedule for our son I was able to hammer down some plans to visit with friends and my sister in our old town in a couple of weeks.  While I’m there, I’ll get to see the daughter of a good friend play the lead in “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  And get to visit with my sis and some friends.  Bonus!  This particular weekend actually has friends out-of-town and other activities so the group is much smaller, but sometimes God plans it that way and I’m trying real hard to stop second guessing Him.  His plans are generally far more awesome than mine anyway.
  3. Speaking of football, Hubby was able to get our son a new smaller helmet and boy did that make ALL the difference for our boy.  He came home a different kid.  Being the first year of “tackle football” after many years of “flag” it’s been a little eye-opening and my whole reasoning of steering AWAY from tackle all these years has been affirmed.  My boy is bruised, sweaty, tired, learning to deal with hydration and migraines if not hydrated. and he LOVES it.  OY!  What’s a mama to do???  I bought him a bigger water bottle/jug and am ready to cheer him on next weekend at his first game–double header.  GO SHARKS!  (I’ll just keep my whining and fear under my cap…..)
  4. Good exercising this week.  Even snuck in a walk with Hubby tonight.  In between refereeing bickering girls we even got to chat some.   Now that’s good stuff.  After celebrating our first Valentine’s day together in YEARS, it’s been a good week.  To say the least.
  5. Made a DEE-LISH ham and bean soup this week in the crock pot.  Love.  The.  Crock-Pot!!  The kicker is that I actually remembered to soak the beans overnight. it was a hit with all but one child (who has pretty consistently always been the picky eater of the family.  ah, his loss)  oh.  and the recipe?  Totally winged it.  Did I say I was amazing?  😉  well, if I can replicate it….than believe it!  To be continued….
  6. I have a few new followers this week.  WOO hoo!  Almost to 20!  I would love to really sit down and write/blog more regularly, but HOLY COW, it takes time.  effort.  patience.  I am lacking in all areas.  Kudos to you writers  out there!  However, I do have a couple “mental health days” I am taking off of work and I wonder if I will get any writing/blogging done or just put the smack down on chores and errands.  Right now I think God has me right where He wants me and if He wants me to blog more, that window will open, for now it’s good practice!
  7. Our friends are coming to visit this weekend!  So exciting!!  My husband’s fraternity brother and his wife and their two boys.  We’ve known each other since college, but MB and I became close these past few years while Hubby was away.  And I am so grateful for God’s timing in this friendship.  What a gem.  There is something intimately comforting when you can share your heart and the Lord with a dear friend.  And she most definitely is one!  The forecast is for rainy weather but I think we will figure something out.  Looking forward to catching up and relaxing!

Happy Friday to all!  God Bless!