Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! God Bless Everyone!

Since I do not blog on Sundays, I will post a Christmas message tonight, Christmas eve. Plans? With all the kids having flown from the nest a decade ago, Donnie and I will be having our Christmas eve dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, run by Korean, prior to midnight Mass, which is at 10:30 this evening. (It finishes at midnight, so the name is not entirely misleading.)

As he does every year, Finnegan, our priest's cat, has wandered from the cold into the warmth of the manger. Both he, and Sula, are parish cat, take turns sleeping in the manger. Sometimes they share it.

Sharing warm Christmas wishes with all! May God bless each one of you tomorrow and all days of this happy season!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two Anti-Hunger Websites for the Holidays

As the holidays -- and all the yummy treats that most of us will be eating -- approach, I wanted to share with readers of my blogs two wonderful sites that help those who may not be feeling full during the holidays, or any time during the year for that matter.

The first site, No Kid Hungry, is fledgling group with a good objective: The leaders of the movement are asking visitors to their site to take a pledge to reach this goal by 2015.

The other site has been around for years (at least ten years) and does wonderful work:, and I posted about it on H2Helper a while back. This site can be visited every day, and just by spending 2-3 minutes at the site, without any investment other than time, you can help feed hungry children worldwide, contribute to saving the rain forests, help autism research, promote literacy, support veterans, and help abandoned animals -- it is an amazing site.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prayer, Unexpressed

“Ask, and ye shall receive,” we are told. But so many times, I do not ask, yet receive. And many other times, I ask for a little (e.g., strength to bear pain from a medical problem) and receive a lot (e..g., medical problem removed). I wonder sometimes if God does not find joy in giving us more than we expect, anticipate, or deserve.

Recently, I had become concerned about my daughter Noelle’s apartment situation. She had clearly been being used by a so-called friend (we could not find any behavior that one would expect from a real friend) who decided to move in with her and refused to move out. The friend was not on the lease and did not pay any of the rent. She lived there for several months before the apartment manager noticed and told Noelle that the friend had to move out because Noelle was in violation of her lease.

Noelle seemed completely under the spell of this person and was about to get evicted from her handicapped-accessible, low-rent apartment. In the current economic climate, she would neither be able to find something similar nor would she be able to afford something different. Yet, she did not want to talk to Donnie and me about. She said she was independent and would do as she chose. We were further stymied because even the sheriff could not remove her friend without a lengthy process. Once the friend had lived there for a few weeks, she was considered a resident even though the apartment manager had told Noelle repeatedly that her friend had to leave. Truly a mess it was.

Then, the logjam broke. It could have been my telling Noelle that Donnie and I would not help her if she ended up on the street because the situation would have been of her own making. It could also have been the fear of ending up on the street although that had not come up earlier. In reality, I think it was my e-note to Noelle that if she ended up on the street, she might lose her kitty. I think protecting her kitty gave her the strength to stand up to her friend and tell her to leave.

But the friend refused to leave. Noelle contacted me. Donnie and I drove to Salts to be witnesses when Noelle gave her friend a written eviction notice. Explaining the contents, Noelle handed the note to her friend, who refused to look at it, knocking it to the floor, stating that she had no intention of reading the note and that we (Donnie and I) could just put ourselves outside the door; we were not wanted there. Noelle was nonplussed; being in a wheelchair, she could hardly physically eject her friend.

“You don’t have to read the letter,” I stepped up. “There are three witnesses here who are telling you the content, which says that you are required to leave immediately.”

She repeated that she had no intention of leaving, that she could not find another apartment to her liking, and she would be staying as long as she needed to. She raised her voice. Her chutzpah would astonish even the most brazen soul.

Noting to her that she had been given formal notice, we left, planning to call the apartment manager in the morning even though I was flying to the East Coast that day. We were concerned that the manager was getting ready to present an eviction notice to Noelle, and sometimes eviction notices cannot be repealed.

Noelle is an unconserved adult, so we had not been involved in her lease or any other aspect of her life except where requested. And we could not be involved with the apartment manager without her permission. Now we had her permission, and now we saw the whole picture.

As we exited the building, a man, identifying himself as Wentworth, approached us and asked if we were Noelle’s relatives. I have no idea how he put two and two together. We admitted the relationship. Then he told us that he was the assistant manager and lived in that same building. We told Noelle’s side of the story since, under the influence of her friend, Noelle had been incommunicado with anyone in management of the apartment complex. The manager was indeed preparing an eviction notice.

Now that the assistant manager knew the situation, he said the management would help get the friend out, including filing formal eviction papers on her behalf against the squatter. He made a copy of the note Noelle had given her friend, and then he called the police, who showed up right away. While the police could not remove the friend, they scared her.

Later that evening, Wentworth, who had taken our phone numbers, called me and told me that the friend had just left on her own volition. He said that all was back in order with Noelle’s lease, and that the management would keep an eye on Noelle for a while to make sure the friend did not sneak back in and try to browbeat her into letting her stay there. He commented before hanging up how “providential” it was that he had seen us and everything had worked out so easily. He also commented on how surprising God can be and how clearly God watches over Noelle.

That evening at Mass, a visiting priest told us in his homily that we all should ask for God’s help more often and not try to depend upon ourselves. Certainly, I would have prayed about the situation when I got home had I not received the phone call from Wentworth. However, I had not yet had a chance to ask when the actors and actions needed for resolution suddenly appeared on the scene. When you practice the Presence of God in the way of Br. Lawrence, sometimes God, always being with you, answers even before you ask!

(also posted on Clan of Mahlou)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trust II

Recently in our prayer group, one of our members talked about some difficult times she and her family were facing, and she called it a "test" from God. We moved from there to similar kinds of issues in other members' families and then on to a discussion about my children, especially the three (two of my own and one who came and lived with us) who must deal with one or more birth defects (Noelle, Doah, Shura), along with my grandchildren who have also been affected by these family "gifts" (Nathaniel having been born with hydronephrosis and Nikolina with that, too, as well as OEIS Complex). It surprised me to learn that these people of God looked at my children and my family situation so differently from the way I look at it.

First, my children are not burdens. They are blessings.

Second, life with these children is not difficult although it is challenging. It is a constant opportunity to learn and to grow, including learning how to lean on God and others God sends, which, I believe, is something that God wants us to do.

Most important, in no way do I think that God is testing me or my family. Rather, I feel favored that God would trust me (of all people) with something so special. Likewise, I don't believe that my friends are experience a test from God. I believe that they are experiencing God's trusting them not only to cope with the difficult situations that they face but also to learn from them and to grow in faith (and yes, trust).

May God continue to bless all of us in this extraordinary way, and may we learn and grow and live up to His trust in us!