Not the Plant Lady

My mom and dad had the green thumb.  In fact, they had green fingers and hands too!  Our little home had citrus trees and flowers.  Dad planted a garden each season and his vegetables were famous for their size and taste.  Mom took great care in the front flower beds to have attractive roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises. Her flowers were always a beautiful setting for Mom’s statues of our Blessed Mother, other saints and Jesus.   While growing up, I watched these plants become fertile and produce year after year; not realizing the care and work involved in maintaining a garden.  I never fully appreciated the fruits of my parents’ labor or their hard work and patience with nature.

I married a wonderful man.  He is a great husband and spiritual leader of the family.  He is not a gardener.  And lo and behold, I did not receive the green thumb gene!  In the early days of our marriage, my attempts at keeping a house plant alive were indeed a challenge!  I tried a few times, and after a few failures, I decided, “who needs plants anyway?”.

So, we bought vegetables at the market.  Sometimes we were given some by my dad, who maintained a garden into his seventies.  If I wanted flowers, I bought them at market.  I told myself they were even prettier than if I had grown them myself.  All was well in my non-green world…until six years ago.

Six years ago, my children were grown and on their own.  We had two grandchildren and my husband and I decided to make the move from our home town to Youngsville, Louisiana to be closer to our family.  It was our first time living in a neighborhood with a HOA. There are rules requiring flower beds.  We did not panic… our flower beds have azaleas and other perennials that require minimum maintenance.  Our backyard is fenced in and private with trees and a pasture in the rear.  As I sat on my back patio during my first year in the new home, a thought popped into my head that I really needed a fig tree.  My favorite fruit has always been figs.  I grew up with them in the back yard and so the tree also held some fond memories of being young and carefree.

I expressed my desire to plant a fig tree to my husband.  His words said, “sure, we will get one.”, but his eyes said, “what are you thinking?”.  Each year since, during planting season, I would remind my husband that we had agreed to plant a fig tree in the back yard.  Each year his words said, “yes we will”, while I saw in his face that planting anything went against all his beliefs and convictions.  It was enough to have to mow, trim and weed the darn flower beds that we are forced to maintain, I am sure was going through his mind.  Each spring we sat on the back patio and enjoyed the quiet, the birds, the breeze, but not a flower or fruit in sight, until Mother’s Day a couple of years ago.

On a beautiful mother’s day, my son and daughter-in-law showed up at my home with a gardenia as my present.  I knew nothing about gardenias.  My son’s beautiful wife had a grandfather who was a rose expert, and she has inherited her family’s love and skill of horticulture.  I felt enormous pressure as I imagined planting this lovely gardenia in my back yard only to see it wither away as had all my other attempts at gardening.  The Plant Lady, I am not!  It was such a lovely gift and my son married such a lovely woman, that I had to plant that gardenia and it just had to live and bloom! I did not want to let her down!  I did my research.  I spent the next day reading all about gardenias and their needs.  I spent the next few days looking for the perfect spot in my yard that was not too sunny and not too shady.  The following weekend, my husband and I got the very clean shovel out of the garage, dug a hole and planted the flowering bush.  We watered it and we were both pleasantly surprised when we felt quite accomplished. We were rooting for the little fellow to make it!

Summer months came, (extremely hot in southern Louisiana), and we took turns watering our little gardenia.  Winter came and the gardenia was still alive.  Snow actually fell that winter, (a very small amount), and we feared that it would not survive.  Our fears gave away to excitement as early spring found little blossoms on our gardenia.  I took pictures of them like they were our children!  These delicate white blossoms  were the fruits of our love and care.  Once again, I reminded my husband that we had not planted our fig tree.  Once again I was told that we would get that tree real soon….

Fast forward to today.  This morning I walked out into the back yard with our dog, Oscar, and was thrilled to see our little gardenia full of blossoms.  The yard smelled heavenly!  It brought such a smile to my face and heart!  I gathered a few flowers and set them in a vase so that my home would be filled with their sweet fragrance.  My husband walked into the room; I showed him my bouquet and boldly proclaimed, “today, we are getting that fig tree!”.  My joy at that moment wore down his years of hesitation.  Lo and behold, this afternoon we drove up to our house with a fig tree!  And not just any fig tree, it is a LSU Purple Fig Tree!  (Big LSU fans here) Tomorrow we plant the fig tree.  I cannot wait to see what it will produce.

I am starting to get into this plant stuff.  I think I will make a Mary garden around the little gardenia.  Perhaps some roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises.  My poor husband!

Cest Bon!

Love,

Sherry

 

 

 

A Boy at the Cross

Growing up in Cajun country, Good Friday was a day to attend church services at 3:00 and solemnly venerate the cross.  Once the service was completed, families gathered together for a meal (usually a crawfish boil), and then spent the rest of the day celebrating family and the upcoming Easter festivities.  Until I was grown with grandchildren, I did not fully understand the magnitude of what happened on the first Good Friday.  At that time, I chose to spend the afternoon taking my grandchildren to Good Friday services;  there would be no family gatherings for celebration until Easter Sunday.

A few years ago, I attended Good Friday services at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Milton, Louisiana with my nine-year old granddaughter and my six-year old grandson.  The church was dark and quiet.  My grandson, who was a very talkative young man, fell asleep on the pew not long after services began.  I did not wake him.  At the time of veneration of the cross, the congregation was told to remove shoes and walk up to the cross barefoot.  At that time I awakened my grandson and instructed this sleepy little boy to remove his shoes so that we can go up to the cross.  He was a little confused by all this, but I did not have time to fully explain. I got his shoes off, and then we were up and walking up the aisle to kiss the cross of Jesus.

My grandson was ahead of me and in no time at all, it was his turn to walk up and kiss the cross in veneration.  Now he was really confused.  He stood about 3 feet away and just looked at the cross.  My mind was racing….what should I do if he continues to just stand there! I had a real fear that he would turn around and ask me what were these people doing! Embarrassed that the line of people were being held up, I decided I would just walk ahead of him, kiss the cross and take him by the hand with me back to our pew.  No sooner had I made this decision; he finally took a few steps, softly kissed the cross and it was my turn. I really  regretted not talking to him about the service beforehand.  I had much explaining to do on the way home!

The following week I attended mass and apologized to Father.  I told him my grandson had been sleeping and was confused about what was going on during Good Friday service.  He immediately asked me if my grandson was the boy who just stood there looking at the cross.  I winced and told him yes, it was.  Father told me not to apologize; many people afterwards had told him they were greatly moved by seeing this young boy stand and look at the cross before walking over to kiss the wood.  He thought it very touching himself!  I was highly relieved and felt very foolish.  I had only seen my drowsy grandson holding up a line of devout Catholics wanting to venerate the cross.  God had it planned that everyone else saw how we should approach the cross – as a child, full of awe and wonderment.  A boy standing if front of his Redeemer.

Yesterday was Good Friday, 2020.  It will forever be remembered as the day mankind truly walked the Passion with Our Lord.  Never was there a time when the world felt so helpless, lonely and forsaken.  Yesterday afternoon, I spent time with Jesus and reflected on His sacrifice and the sacrifices forced upon mankind during this pandemic.  His great pain was not caused by the physical torture and crucifixion; but by the abandonment of His friends and the emotional torture of viewing His beloved mother’s anguished and deeply grieved face as she stood by Him through it all.

It is impossible to reflect on the passion of Jesus Christ and not acknowledge the suffering endured by His mother.  I can imagine in that walk to Calvary, Mary’s mind was flooded with memories of the baby she held in Bethlehem and presented in the temple; and the boy she nurtured, fed, and loved.  Others saw only a man.  She saw the Christ child that she was blessed to bring into this world; a world that hated and persecuted Him.  Mothers everywhere can sympathize with this holy mother of all mothers.  It was her baby boy on that cross.  I am sure she stood there confused by the angry mob and the hatred spewed out towards her Son, who was all good and loving.

Her heart was pierced just as His side was pierced for our transgressions.

This Holy Week, my heart has been pierced by the separation from my children and grandchildren.  I can do nothing but stand at the cross and pray for mercy.  I approach the cross as my grandson did those years ago – in awe and wonderment.  He is my redeemer.  By His stripes, I am healed.

In the end, this too will pass.  There will be a resurrection.  I will once again spend time with my family and friends.  I will not take that time for granted.  For now, I spend my days with Jesus and His mother.  They know my pain, because they lived it and so much more than I could ever imagine!

LORD BY YOUR CROSS AND RESURRECTION YOU HAVE SET US FREE!

 

 

 

 

God Hit the Pause Button

“My Soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with Me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” When He returned to His disciples He found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:38-41

These are wondrous days.  Years from now we will talk about the “Great Pause” of 2020.

Just a few months ago, life was normal.  Everyone went busily about their day.  Work, school, extra-curricular activities, and other mundane tasks filled our minutes, hours and thoughts.  Days sped by at the speed of light.  There was very little time for prayer, stillness, watchfulness, and God.  Most of humanity were caught up in this endless cycle of wake, work, and repeat.   Then along came a virus.

Society had long ago decided that God was not welcomed in its schools, courthouses, places of business, and stadiums.  These entities are now empty, dark and desolate.

The Church Jesus began 2000 years ago has seen division and bickering among the chosen leaders.  Sacraments have been abandoned, just as Jesus Himself was abandoned in the garden.  Many Christians have decided to forego the cup and instead pick and choose the teachings of Christ that suit their lifestyle.  Sunday mass was looked upon as a chore with many finding any and every excuse to stay away.

Today, the priests stands alone in celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Parishioners cannot partake of the precious sacraments.  We have been asleep while Jesus waited for us.

The test is here.  This is a loving warning from our Father in heaven.  What lessons are we being taught in this Great Pause of 2020?  Hopefully, we have realized that only God is in charge.  He must be the center of our lives and families.  He thirsts for us.  We must thirsts for His love.

We must welcome God back into our homes, schools, courthouses, businesses and every day lives.  When the church doors open, we must look forward to worshiping Him joyfully.  We must follow the example of Jesus Christ and do the Will of our Father.  We must pray and we must listen – listen to each other and to our Lord.

Ask your Father to give you grace and strength to do His Will.  Trust in Jesus.  Keep watch, spend time with Him.

Is your spirit willing?

 

 

 

 

 

I SAW GOD TODAY

I SAW GOD TODAY

Yesterday was the Feast Day of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus.  As I drove through dark, empty streets to an early morning mass, I had time to reflect on the tiny miracles God had bestowed upon my family.  The names of these little miracles are Oliver and Olivia.

February 7, 1985, my husband and I were blessed to become the parents of our precious firstborn, a daughter.  The next seven years, we were blessed with two sons and our family was complete; or so we thought.  February 7, 2007 was the day we were proud to become grandparents to a sweet granddaughter.  Two years later, we celebrated the birth of her brother, our first grandson.

With each milestone our family celebrated, we have grown in number, in faith and in grace.  We have shared sacraments together including baptisms, first communions and weddings.  The years have brought good times and precious memories as well as hardships, illness and difficult times.

One such difficult time was the inability of our eldest son and his wife to conceive.  Each wedding anniversary for them was a time to celebrate, but also a reminder of the fact they remained a family of two and childless.  They heard the usual comments, “it will happen when the time is right…”  The love between the two of them and their love for Christ was evident as was the longing for a child.  It is natural for a man and wife to want to share their love with a child created by their love and God.  A child that is not only apart of their family, but also God’s family – God’s child.

As a mother, my heart ached for them and the emptiness they felt.  As a Catholic, I knew that I had to put my trust in God and wait for His Will.  Still, I felt I should do something!  I remembered hearing a story about Mother Teresa.  It was said that upon hearing a young couple lament over their infertility, Mother advised the woman to wear a Miraculous Medal and pray for our Mother Mary’s intercession.   The story goes that the couple returned a year later to inform Mother Teresa they had conceived.

So, in early 2018, I purchased a Miraculous Medal, had it blessed and wore it around my neck.  Our family prayed and put our trust in the Lord and we waited.

Ten months later, I took a trip with my daughter and two grandchildren.  While in my hotel room, my Miraculous Medal broke off the chain around my neck and fell to the floor.  I picked it up and quickly reattached the medal.  It had never done that before.

Upon returning home; I was relaxing with my husband and telling him all about my adventure, when there was a knock on our front door.  We greeted my son and his wife and soon learned that the day we had prayed and wished for had come!  My husband and I cried tears of joy upon learning our daughter-in-law was indeed with child!

We thanked God for His answer to our prayers.  I thought about the medal around my neck.  I decided I would continue to wear it as a prayer for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.  A few short weeks later, I looked down and saw just the chain on my chest; the medal was gone.  I knew it was a sign from above that there was no need to worry.

A friend of mine long ago said, “When God answers prayers, He does it in a big way, so that you know it is Him!”.  This was never more true, than the day my son phoned me with the news that there was not only one baby, but two!  He and his wife would be blessed with twins!

Ezekiel 28:26, “then they shall know that I, the Lord, am their God!”

June 12, 2019, our little family grew by two and our number of grandchildren doubled in a matter of minutes!  Two perfect little miracles were born!

Turning into the church parking lot yesterday, I could not help but joyfully laugh at God’s goodness.  The past three years have been a lesson in trust, perseverance and faith.  I thought about Saints Joachim and Anne; how they endured years of infertility before giving birth to the child who would become the mother of us all. Then they became the grandparents of the Savior of the world.

James 1:3-4,   “for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Every time I looked into the eyes of a newborn – my daughter, my sons, my grandchildren – I saw God.  I saw His handiwork.  His handiwork is always perfect.

James 1:16-18, “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the Word of Truth that we may be a kind of first fruit of His creatures.

Amen

 

Old Dogs and Angels

Old Dogs and Angels

Oscar was my empty-nest puppy.  It was 2004 and my first-born and only daughter had just moved away from home.  Her two brothers kept my husband and I very busy; but seeing my first child who called me “Mom” drive away, left a little hole in my heart.   I decided soon after that I would get a puppy.

There was no question as to which breed of dog I would choose.  I have always been partial to Shetland sheepdogs or “shelties”.  This breed has the “Lassie” look but are much smaller and easier to handle.  I found a breeder near us and my youngest son and I picked out the runt of the litter.  He was small and shy.  I fell in love that little runt and named him Oscar.  He was nervous and unsure of his new home.  Oscar stuck to me like glue.

That was nearly 15 years ago and Oscar still sticks to me like glue!  He has aged well, but my 15 year old sheltie is very different from the little runt I brought home.  As a younger dog, Oscar followed me diligently and was quick to jump on my lap as soon as I sat down.  He listened for my return when I was away as he kept watch at the front door.  These days Oscar moves much slower.  He no longer jumps onto my lap.  He is now deaf and does not see as well.  He quietly naps in his bed while I am away.  One thing has remained constant; he is still my shadow.  Once I return home, he follows me from room to room.  He is always close by.  He has spent his entire life trying to keep a careful watch over me.  He has been a most faithful friend.

As I study my old friend these days, I am reminded of another faithful friend who has been my constant companion for my entire life – my Guardian Angel.  Although I have never seen this angel; I believe with all my heart that God’s words are true: ” What are the angels then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by Him to help those who are to receive salvation.” Hebrew 1:14

My angel has watched over me, guided me, and prayed for me.  We have a special, spiritual bond that is beyond human comprehension.  It is a connection ordained by God and for God that began at my conception and will only end as I enter the Kingdom.

Although I have never seen my angel, it sometimes seems that my faithful friend does.  There are occasions when it seems Oscar is seeing something or someone that is only visible to his eyes.  During these episodes, I imagine and hope that somehow my old dog can see my angel.  Perhaps my angel sometimes gently strokes his fur as a reward for his steadfast watchful eye.

Someday I hope to see my angel.  For now I only need to look at Oscar as he faithfully follows me throughout our home; from the time I step out of bed in the morning to the end of my day when he lies in his dog bed right beside mine, to know the love and devotion that my angel must have.

For now I have two angels.  One angel will stay with me for the rest of my days.  One angel will be with me for the rest of his days.  When that day comes, I surely will have a hole in my heart.  I know my guardian angel will comfort me.

Cest Bon

Sherry

 

 

A Birthday Wish for Pope Francis

A Birthday Wish for Pope Francis

Holy Father, I cannot imagine the weight of being the 266th successor of St. Peter!  The entire Church of more than a billion people, look to you for leadership, clarity, and nuturing.  It is an awesome responsibility.  The world is much different than in the days of St. Peter, but the instruction from our Lord Jesus Christ remains the same: “Feed my lambs..Tend my sheep…Feed my sheep…Follow Me.” John 21:15-19

I love the Church Jesus founded on His rock, St. Peter.  I was baptized Catholic as an infant, was married in the Church, and in recent years have witnessed my grandchildren receive their First Communion.  I love the sacraments and understand how precious and wonderful are the treasures of the Church.  These treasures are not money or priceless art, but the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  His living presence is among us to this day!  The Eucharist is guarded by His Church, but also worshipped and adored.  Along with His physical presence, the Church and its leadership are entrusted with keeping sacred the Words and Teachings of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Truth and the Way.

These are dark days.  As the world blocks out the light of Jesus, darkness prevails.  Many have fallen into this darkness, including some who were ordained into leadership roles of the Church.  Humans are weak.  Even St. Peter at the dawn of the Church denied Jesus Christ.  It was a dark time, but the Holy Spirit gave courage, wisdom and guidance.  A few men fed a handful of sheep with the Truth, which led to a world wide Church today.

Holy Father, you are a man of great humility. I see God’s mercy in all that you do and say.  As we celebrate Advent and the coming of Jesus, my birthday wish for you is that the Holy Spirit give you the courage, wisdom and guidance to bring the light back.  Please have the courage to speak the Truth and “speak the word of God with boldness.”  Acts 4:31

The flock of Jesus need to understand that sin does exist, so as to avoid the darkenss.  “If your brother sins rebuke him, and if repents, forgive him.” Luck 17:3

Being cautious of offending, has watered down the Truth of Jesus Christ.  Holy Father, be the voice of clarity and truth in this precious Church. May the Holy Spirit always inspire you and give you courage to feed His lambs, tend His sheep, feed His sheep and Follow Him.

Happy Birthday Pope Francis!

THE DAY THE SUN DANCED

Yesterday we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the miracle of Fatima.  October 13, 1917 over fifty thousand people witnessed the sun dance in the sky.  It was the culmination of several months of Mary visiting three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  Mary gave the children secrets and warnings of a second world war.  She begged for conversion, prayer and fasting.  She promised a miracle during her last visit in October.

It was a rainy day a hundred years ago.  The crowd of thousands were drenched and growing impatient with the children when finally the Mother of God arrived.  She brought with her sunshine and a sun miracle.  The crowd stood mesmerized by the movement of the sun and then became horrified as the sun suddenly looked as if it were falling out of the sky.  The vision did not last long, as just as suddenly as it had begun, the sun was back to normal.  The stunned crowd stood in disbelief as they noticed that their drenched wet clothes were completed dry.

I can only imagine the commotion of that day!  The tens of thousands of people included non-believers, believers, young and old.  Many who were ill or handicapped were healed that day.  There must have been screams, crying, rejoicing, praising…  I would have loved to have been there.

Surprisingly, I do know what it feels like to see a miracle of the sun.  About five years ago, my husband and I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama.  We visited Mother Angelica’s beautiful shrine and we made a stop at a little community where one of the Medjugorje visionaries was visiting.  Mary appears to this visionary daily and a group gathered outside the home of the host to say the rosary during the time of the apparition.  It was a beautiful day.  When my husband and I were walking to the site of the rosary, we noticed a beautiful rainbow in the sky.  Following the rosary, a spokesperson announced Mary’s message.  It was now nearing evening.  My husband and I packed up our blanket and rosaries when someone yelled, “Look at the sun!”.

Words cannot describe the beauty I beheld.  The sun was swirling and all colors of the rainbow were flying off of it.  It looked like a giant pinwheel in the sky.  We stood for a few minutes and watched a miracle take place before our very eyes!  I heard someone who was a regular to this community say that this was a rarity and very special.  I could not help but hold my head up and thank my heavenly mother for the spectacular show of God’s majestic creation.  It reminded me that this is God’s world.  It is His sun, His moon, His trees, ….

Too many of us today do not take the time to look up at the sky, smell the flowers, or listen to the sound of the rain.  Our God created these for you and me!  Let us never forget the messages of Mary.  We must live this life by following the teaches of Jesus.  We must never forget that we are a creation of God.  His Spirit lives within us and if we ever feel lost, we need only look up at the sky.