Building Family and Faith

Many years ago, my children and I were spending the day at my parents’ home, (Maw-maw and Paw-paw), while my husband was busy at work. Paw-paw was busy building a folding camping table that day. My four-year-old, Brennan, stood nearby closely watching his grandfather measuring, sawing and nailing. My dad proudly showed off his carpentry skills for his grandson, who was thoroughly engrossed with the transformation of wood and nails into a fine piece of furniture. When the table was completed, my son ran over to me and Maw-maw and brought us over to see what his grandfather had accomplished. He boldly told his Paw-paw, “When my daddy grows up, he will be able to build too!” My husband drove up right at that moment as we were all chuckling over my son’s comment. He also got a big kick out of it!

This memory reminds me of St. Joseph. I can imagine Jesus as a little four-year-old boy watching his father work with wood; measuring, carving, and creating. As a young child, Jesus would have had that same wonderment as Brennan in seeing the transformation of wood into objects and furniture. He would have looked up to His father, St. Joseph, and would grow up learning the craft, assisting His father.

Not all men are skilled in carpentry, but all fathers are builders. It takes a loving and strong man to build his family, to protect them and guide them as spiritual leaders. St. Joseph is our model of a self-sacrificing husband and father. He did whatever was needed to keep his wife and Son safe, whether it meant finding shelter in a cave or fleeing for a strange land in the middle of the night. He was a man with tremendous faith and he built a Holy Family.

I grew up with a father who was a “jack-of-all-trades”. He could build and fix anything. I was the oldest of four girls and did not appreciate the many skills of my father when I was a girl. I thought at the time it was something all fathers could do. Seeing my father through my children’s eyes, I had a newfound appreciation of his creativity and craftsmanship. Today I look back at the times my father took on huge construction projects such as adding a third bedroom and utility room to our home and I realize he was not just building a home, he was showing his love for his wife and children. Taking time every Sunday to take our family to Mass and visit our grandparents, was my dad’s way of building faith in his family.

My wonderful husband is not a carpenter, but he is a builder. From the moment we left the church as man and wife, he has devoted his whole self and life to our marriage and family. My children, grandkids and I have always felt his love, devotion and protection. Years ago, he was involved with his boys as a football coach; today he leads his children and grandchildren in the rosary on first Fridays.

Looking back on that memory of Brennan, I do see now that his father did grow. We both grew as parents and now as grandparents. His father is a builder of family and of faith. I hope our grandkids look at us just as I saw Brennan look at my dad those years ago, with wonderment and with love.

Brennan with Paw-paw and Maw-maw

Preparation for the Storm

Southern Louisiana, Cajun country, gets its fair share of storms. As a child and into my adult years, I witnessed numerous tropical storms and thunderstorms, several hurricanes and a couple of tornadoes. Hurricane season was always a time to be mindful of the weather. As soon as a tropical storm or hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico showing an inclination to head towards Louisiana, families along the Louisiana coast began to prepare. Homes and businesses would be boarded up and families not evacuating made sure supplies were on hand in the event of damage or power loss.

Today Louisiana is under a Winter Storm Watch. Beginning tomorrow, Cajun country will be pelted with freezing rain, ice and sleet. Temperatures are expected to dip into the teens as roads will likely become hazardous ice thoroughfares. It is all very unfamiliar territory for this part of the world, where winters are mild and freezing temperatures are rare. Watching the weather forecast today reminded me of my first winter storm many years ago.

I was a young Navy wife and mother of two, who had been uprooted from south Louisiana to Norfolk, Virginia, where my husband was stationed. My husband was out to sea when I heard reports on the radio to prepare for a winter storm coming that weekend. I had never heard those words before, and I thought it would be quite an experience to see a true winter wonderland. I told my little ones they would be in for a treat and went off to the grocery store to prepare.

Having never experienced blizzard or ice conditions, I never had to prepare for such an experience. I had heard to expect being snowed in for a couple of days. I thought a big pot of chili would do nicely to keep the three of us warm and fed. My shopping consisted of chili ingredients and picking up any other items the pantry was lacking. It was Friday and the storm was hitting that night.

After tucking my daughter, Hallie and son, Chase into bed that night, I laid on the couch and watched television. The house was cozy. The dark living room was softly lit with the flame from the wall furnace. Looking outside the window, I could see the freezing rain falling through the light of the streetlamp. Before retiring to bed, I watched the late-night local news broadcast. The first news item was the winter storm approaching. News reporters were stationed at local stores and covered people buying batteries, flashlights, blankets, etc., in preparation for the storm. I immediately sat up on the sofa and listened intently to the warning of ice buildup and strong winds which could lead to power outages. What – power outages? I felt so foolish! I had never considered the possibility of losing power! I was from Louisiana, where winter did not have storms!

I looked out of my window again. The rain had turned to sleet and snow would be arriving soon. There was nothing I could do but say a prayer that God would take care of us. I quietly made my way to bed and put everything in God’s hands. I heard the winds howling as I fell asleep.

The next morning, upon awakening, I looked out of my bedroom window and was shocked to see a thick white blanket of snow everywhere! The house was still warm and cozy, so power was still on. I quickly woke the kids up and had them feast their eyes on a winter wonderland, the likes I had never in my lifetime seen!

The morning was spent playing in the snow and building a snowman. We had no snowman accessories so we made a snow witch topped with my daughter’s Halloween witch hat. My children were not all together thrilled with snow and upon getting back inside to the warmth of our kitchen, they refused to return outside. The rest of the day was spent cooking chili, reading stories and every now and then taking a peek out the window to view God’s handiwork.

My husband got the biggest kick out of hearing how his wife prepared for a winter storm by buying chili ingredients! As we sat in our living room today watching the weather forecast, he reminded me of my first winter storm those many years ago. We are more prepared today for an ice event. We have also learned over the years that ultimately, God is in charge.

St. Padre Pio once wrote in a letter, “Let us be on the look-out for even the slightest symptom of anxiety, and as soon as we notice that we have fallen into discouragement let us turn to God with a child’s trust and total abandonment.”

Temperatures outside are dropping and the morning will bring sleet and freezing rain followed by another sharp drop in the temperature. I received a text message from my utilities provider warning of possible power outages. I smile at the message and say a prayer to my Father in heaven to take care of us Cajuns, who are inexperienced with winter storms and are preparing with gumbos and stews! I must go now, my beef stew is about done!

C’est Bon!

Love, Sherry

Hallie, Blizzard 1989, Virginia

The Fountainbleau Fisher of Men

A decade ago, I was employed with a property management company out of New Orleans, Louisiana, Fountainbleau Management. The owner, Roland and I had mutual respect for each other, but we also had a very different perspective of management and people in general. I was his Director of Property Operations and Managers, and in that role, I was constantly having to hire, supervise, evaluate and sometimes terminate employees.

Roland was an extremely intelligent, kind and compassionate person. During the fourteen years I worked for him, I observed him go the extra mile for many people that were in his Fountainbleau “family”. He was genuinely concerned with the welfare of his employees. Most of the benefactors of Roland’s kindness were loyal, hard-working employees; however, some did occasionally seek to take advantage of him.

I personally witnessed several people whom Roland had taken under his wing, fall into old habits that were detrimental to the business. It bewildered me how Roland could give them chance after chance to get back on their feet and get back to work. Not many of those second or third chancers ever did make it. I would shake my head and wonder if my boss would ever learn.

Today at mass I heard the same Gospel, Mark 1:14-20, that I heard roughly about ten years ago. Those many years ago, upon hearing the words of Jesus, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”, I thought about Roland. I considered myself to be a good and faithful Catholic, yet I was so ready to write people off as soon as they stumbled. I was looking at people as good or bad based on their backgrounds and achievements in life. I was looking for the unblemished and unfallen in a blemished and fallen world. Roland on the other hand was seeking those whose talents were there, but through hard times or a less than perfect background, had never been given a chance. He was being a fisher of men.

Humility sank into my heart as I begin to understand the man and his mission. That night, I emailed Roland a note describing my epiphany that day and thanking him for teaching me to look beyond a person’s worth on paper. He taught me to look at a person’s heart.

I received a reply the next day. Roland told me he read the email and was at a loss for words. It seemed I had taken him completely by surprise. He was touched and thanked me.

A few years later I was leaving Fountainbleau for a new adventure and Roland invited me to lunch. I gathered we would talk about the fourteen years of buying and renovating properties and all the people we had gotten to know. Once we sat down, it became apparent to me that he wanted to talk about Jesus. He told me that he understood Jesus lived and was a real person; however, he had his doubts that Jesus was God. This time, I was the one surprised! I did tell him that I wholeheartedly knew and believed that Jesus was not just a mere man. Roland had a lawyer’s background; he needed proof. I knew I was never going to convince him in the hour we sat down for lunch, and I did not want to get into a heated debate on my last day.

The following week, I sent Roland a thank you card for all the kindness shown to me over the years. Included with the card was a favorite book of mine, Life of Christ, by Fulton J. Sheen. I do not know if he read it. I hope he did.

A little over a year ago, Roland was killed in a hunting accident. I know he has now met Jesus Christ. As I heard the gospel today and the words of Jesus, “and I will make you fisher of men”, I thought about my friend and said a prayer for him. I thanked him for his wisdom and guidance and I hope I am living my life looking for what is in people’s hearts just as he did.

Rest in peace my friend.

For my country

The year was 1983. I was the 4-H state winner in Child Development and would represent my state along with 44 other Louisiana delegates at the 62nd National 4-H Convention in Chicago, Illinois. It would be my first trip to the “northern” states and my first flight on a plane. I looked forward to both.

I took time off from my Freshman year at college and left the day after Thanksgiving for Chicago. A friend from high school and fellow delegate, Angela, would be my travel buddy and roommate. It was Angela’s first time as well to fly; she was nervous and scared. Angela’s mom had made her pack Dramamine in the event of motion sickness. While at the airport, waiting to board our plane, Angela somehow talked me into taking a Dramamine with her. I did not see any harm in taking it if it helped calm her nerves. Unfortunately, I had no idea that in no time at all I would become so drowsy Angela would be walking me to my seat on the plane! I fell fast asleep once seated and missed my entire first flight! Angela had no side effects from the drug at all and she rather enjoyed the plane ride. We laughed about it when I regained consciousness!

My Chicago trip was a great experience. There were banquets, tours, speeches, and entertainment such as Shari Lewis and Lambchop. It was the Christmas season; there were twinkling lights and window displays. This small town girl had stepped into a different world.

As much as I enjoyed the experience, what I remember most about my trip were the people. There were young adults from nearly all 50 states. Never before had I seen such a rich mixture of cultures and regional diversity. The Texans wore cowboy boots and talked with a “twang”. East coasters had a preppy style and that Bostonian accent. The slow southern drawl of Georgians made me chuckle as did their Bulldog cheers. I also marveled at the diversity of accents and customs of all the delegates from my own home state. My southern Louisiana Cajun accent sounded nothing like the dialect of those from North, West and East Louisiana. Our nightly state meetings were always very entertaining, as the individuals with the thickest accents and drawls were the also the most talkative.

We were all so different, but…

At the beginning of each day, each one of us delegates stood and put our hand on our heart and stated the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag. We were united in that we were all Americans. Some of us came from mountains, some deserts, some, like me from swampy flat lands; all of us came from the U.S.A.

What happened to us?

Identity politics has forced American citizens to categorize and label ourselves. We have to be defined by race, sexuality, political party, income level…the list goes on. These definitions came into being with the promise of bringing understanding and respect; instead, they have brought division and condescending attitudes.

I am proud to be a Cajun. I am proud to be a Catholic. I am proud to be a wife, mother and grandmother. There are many “labels” that apply to me. First and foremost, I am a child of God. I was created by God my Father and given the gift of life. I was blessed to born in a nation that was founded on Judeo- Christian principals and beliefs. This nation that has been a beacon to the world, a safe-haven and defender of justice and liberty. This nation has always been great.

Louisiana delegates at 62nd 4-H Congress, Chicago, Illinois. (Sherry Kenner bottom left)

The last day of my Chicago trip was extra special because it snowed. We do not get many snow days in Louisiana and it had probably been about six or seven years since I had seen snow. Following our final state meeting, most of us Louisiana delegates jetted outside to play in the snow. We were joined by many other fellow southern delegates. I remember rolling snow balls with girls from Florida and Hawaii. Delegates from the north got a kick out of seeing us so excited. “This is not a lot of snow,!”, they kept telling us. We disagreed, and they smiled and enjoyed watching our enthusiasm.

I consider my flight home from Chicago as my “first” plane ride since I was awake for that one! My parents met me at the airport and as they had never been to the state of Illinois, they wanted to hear all about Chicago. I told them very little about the place, but I told them a great deal about the many different people I had met from the many different places. Still to this day, I remember very little of the tours, banquets, and surroundings from that time. I do remember the faces, laughter, jokes, and accents of my fellow Americans. We did not have to label ourselves, we knew we were from different backgrounds and areas. Differences were accepted and appreciated. We wanted to learn from each other and share our stories with each other. We were all Americans.

What happened to us?

4-H Pledge

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, My Country, and my world.

Smells like Snow

As I age, I savor long days and hope to see the years stretch out in a slow drip as in the days of my youth. Alas, the more birthdays I celebrate, the faster the days and years go by- until 2020! 2020 has been a LONG YEAR of challenges and disruptions. Life has not felt normal for quite some time. This year, I have desired the days to hurry by. I am ready to face a new year; hopefully one that will bring a sense of normalcy back to my life. I anxiously await the end of 2020 and the coming of Christmas!

It is not yet Thanksgiving and my Christmas tree and decorations are all in place. There are twinkling lights of various colors and wrapped presents under the tree. All of this early preparation is an effort to bring a little more peace and joy to days filled with uncertainty and trepidation.

Spending more time confined at home has led to much reflection on my years on earth and lately, my Christmas celebrations of long ago. I remember all the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas from my childhood as if they happened yesterday.

Our little house in New Iberia, Louisiana had a floor furnace for much of my younger years. I can still hear that furnace kick on during those chilly December days. Warm air shot up out of the hallway floor as the heater crackled and hummed. On really cold days, I would carefully stand right beside the furnace in the small hallway, holding out my hands over the warm air rising up and feeling its hot breath on my face and hands. Those days that were too cold to play outside, my mom would put her Christmas albums and records on an old record-playing console that had belonged to her parents. Soon, the sounds of Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Gene Autry’s Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer had me tapping my feet and smiling in anticipation of Christmas morning. If I was really lucky, mom pulled out one of her heavy saucepans and in a matter of minutes, I began to smell hot chocolate drifting through the air from the kitchen.

Hot chocolate was one of the smells I loved at Christmas time, but my absolute favorite was the smell of snow. Of course we had no real snow – we lived in south Louisiana! Mother had to improvise with what was available – snow from a spray can!

Each year, my dad brought home a cheery green tree he purchased for his bride and daughters to decorate. Upon entering with the tree, the house immediately took on the strong scent of pine. Dad was in charge of tree lights. It took time to untangle and get the lights wrapped around the tree. Once done, mom went to work! Ornaments were placed on the tree followed by what seemed to be tons of tinsel. A soft pillow of white skirting was draped around the tree bottom. On this mound of snow-like puffy white drape, Mom lovingly placed her holy family, shepherds, animals, angel into the nativity creche. The scene was not complete until she whipped out that can of snow. Quickly, the nativity scene was blanketed with a thick layer of snow. The windows where the tree sat were also given a frosted look with this magical snow concoction. When all was complete, I marveled at the frosty and bright world my parents had just created. The scent of the snow from a can now filled the living room and overpowered the heavy scent of pint. It was glorious.

Year after year, Christmas smells and sounds were familiar, faithful and left me secure with the knowledge that all was right with the world. No wonder I have already this year pulled out the tree, decorations and photographs! It is the familiar family traditions that calm one’s soul and give the assurance that at the end a dark day or even year, God’s gift to us remains constant and unchangeable. There is always an Advent season; the light of the world overcomes the darkness.

As I sit reminiscing and admiring my Christmas handiwork, I no longer am longing for a quick end to this year. I am content to see 2020 slowly tiptoe through this chapter of my life. I close my eyes and I can hear Elvis singing and I can smell snow. Let’s make some hot chocolate. Merry Early Christmas!

Cest Bon,

Love Sherry

Bless my Socks!

I was very lucky to grow up in a home with a mom who was a graduate of Mount Carmel Academy for girls in New Iberia, Louisiana.  In 1870, the Sisters of Mount Carmel opened the school in New Iberia and remained until 1988.  The Sisters of Mount Carmel are religious women dedicated to an active ministry of pre-school, education, spiritual direction and social services.  During my mother’s tenure in the forties and fifties, the Sisters were the primary administrators and teachers at the academy and passed on a very traditional Catholic faith.  Students were taught the importance of the mass, sacraments, praying the rosary, and the blessing of sacramentals.  Students took pride in being chaste and virtuous.   Father Joseph Chauvin wrote, “For is not every Carmel a garden of God where lovely blossoms of virtue bloom?”

It was evident growing up that my mother was in love with God and with the mother of God.  Our house always had a statue of Mary in a front flower bed.  Just as she had assisted one of the Sisters at Mount Carmel with painting statues during her high school years; my mother would lovingly clean and paint her statues if they became weather-worn and dull.  She kept blessed objects in our home and holy water.  There were numerous times during a stormy night, I would see my mother running around our home sprinkling holy water for protection.  Her rosary was kept beside her bed and she always ended her day with her rosary and prayers.  I watched her light candles in church for a special intention or in thanksgiving.  She often spoke of the saints, especially St. Anthony and Theresa.  My mother lived her Catholic faith and she made sure her husband and four girls, (while we were still under their roof), lived it with her.

One’s faith either grows or withers away.  Due to the great foundation given to her by the Sisters of Mount Carmel, mom’s faith has never wavered.  She and my father are now retired and live a quiet life.  Even though they are part of the high risk group during this pandemic, they still live their faith by watching mass daily on TV and spending time each day in prayer and reflection.  The two of them turn 80 this year!

We celebrated mom turning eighty in July.  For one of her presents, I bought her some religious socks.  A local Catholic gift shop had a selection of socks with designs such as Mary, Joseph and St. Theresa.  After much thought, I settled on a pair of rosary socks and Mary socks for mom.  I knew that she loved wearing socks and would get a kick out these!  She was surprised and very pleased with her gift.  She was so pleased, that later that evening I received a phone call from mom telling me that she would be bringing her new socks to her local priest for him to bless them!  This really tickled me!  I laughed and told her, “Mom, I do not think anyone has ever asked Father to bless their socks!”.  Mom went on to say that I was to make sure she was buried in her blessed Mary socks!

The Catechism teaches: “Among sacramentals, blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) comes first. Every blessing praises God and prays for His gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father, with every spiritual blessing.”  Sacramentals “are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them, men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”.

A mother never stops being a mother.  Mary was Jesus’ mom not just on earth; she is His mother in heaven.  Because we have now become children of God and brother and sisters of Christ, Mary is now too our mother in heaven.  Even though I am now a mother and grandmother, my mother is still mom.  She is still teaching me how to live my Catholic faith.  She is still setting an example for her family and showing us the way to heaven.  I only hope I am doing the same for my children.

Well, I will be giving socks for Christmas this year.  Oh, and they will be blessed!




This Little Church of Mine

My first memory of attending mass is probably Easter Sunday at the age of three or four.  I had a pretty dress, bonnet, little white gloves, and shiny white shoes.  The church was full and so my parents and I stood in the rear gathering area.  I was very pleased with my Easter outfit and paid little attention to the Word of God.  A few years later in that same church, I was again enthralled with a lace white dress and veil as I knelt at the communion railing and received my first communion.  Once again, I did not appreciate the moment, but looked forward to cake and presents.

Year after year, each Sunday I attended mass with my family.  Eventually I married in the Catholic Church.  It was a beautiful mass and ceremony.  As a young bride, I was focused on my dress, flowers, groom, and reception to follow.  In the years to follow, my husband and I had three children who were all raised in the Catholic faith and who were all busy with extracurricular activities.  We did not always make Sunday mass and thought little of it at the time.  Life was busy and we felt “God understood”.

Gradually and thankfully, the Holy Spirit worked on my husband and I and we were given the grace to realize the importance of mass attendance and the sacraments.  As we grew to understand the meaning behind the mass, we grew to love attending mass.  We wanted to give more of ourselves to our Savior who gave all of Himself for us.  When we were asked by our parish priest to help mentor engaged couples we jumped at the opportunity to share our story with other couples.  It was our hope that the young couples we welcomed into our home would come to appreciate our faith, traditions and sacraments from the moment they would begin their life as man and wife.  The mass, family rosaries, and adoration were now an important part of our lives.  It was important to share with others the abundance of joy our faith brought into our lives.  It was our gift to the Giver of all gifts!

Then along came covid 19!  Never in all my 55 years did I ever consider it possible that our beloved church would be locked and closed to the public.  As faithful Catholics, my husband and I felt a little lost on Sundays.  We had to adjust to a new normal of watching mass on the TV or computer, spiritual communion, and group messaging family rosaries.   Our home became “our little domestic church”.

We moved into our current home about six years ago.  At that time, I decided to create an altar in my living area and bedroom.  On these altars I placed statues, pictures, icons, Bible, etc. to remind all that came through our door that Jesus is the center of our home and family.

Pope John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church.”  He also said, “As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of life.  This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift.”

The last few months have been hard.  The loss of the mass and sacraments have only made our love for them and Jesus grow.  We look forward to the time when the churches are all open and full to capacity again.  This past Easter celebration was rather different and difficult for I am no longer the little girl who basked in the beauty of my Easter outfit; I wanted to feel the presence of My Lord and Savior.  Good Friday was a solemn day.  My husband and I watched the 3:00 service, fasted and waited for the Easter Vigil mass.  We filled our altar with candles and lit them one by one during the Vigil mass as we celebrated His Resurrection.  We felt His presence and His love and we knew that in the midst of all the chaos and confusion of these days, God is in charge!

Jesus, we trust in YOU!


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!






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!






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?