Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Year Anniversary {Family Business}

2004: family business about two years old

Ten years ago today, our home grown pawn shop made its first loan.  I'm told that the odds of a small business surviving ten years are 1 in 25 (a 4% success rate), making today's decade mark a milestone worth celebrating.  With Tim running the show, this enterprise was bound to succeed.  Born and raised with creative entrepreneurial tendencies, gifted with a phenomenal intellect, and graced with a strong faith and high ethics, my husband's business prowess and tenacity are noteworthy. 

Several serious financial challenges and ridiculous bureaucratic set-backs have make the ride a bit bumpy at times.  Problems with permits, the odd delinquent employee and random acts of bullying by the powers that be have lined our 'yellow brick road' in the pawn business with a few stumbling blocks.  Expanding from one shop to three in ten years, the growth factor sheds light on Tim's visionary tendencies and resolve to succeed.  Outstanding managers and dedicated employees with a keen sense for sniffing out rats and weeding out trouble have saved the day on more than one occasion.

Keeping life interesting, our shop(s) have the intermittent good fortune of helping to solve crimes like the recent Golden Flute incident involving a car prowl on Church property while we were at daily Mass.  Undeniably unpredictable, our pawn business(es) rolls along; the ever expanding to-do list and daily grind sometimes taking a visible toll on my most ambitious entrepreneur.  Nice work, Tim!
2009: Zachary assists at our family business relocation project
2009: New location meets Joseph's approval

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uncommon Friendliness {Toddler Love}

Peter with the twins at Benediction before Mass
The twins skittered around in the gathering space today before Mass, as we whispered reminders of a few simple rules Church etiquette.  Following last week's double altar dash, general noisiness and mayhem, we've coached and trained in preparation for today's return to Mass. 

"No running in Church.  Quiet voices in Church."  Like little parrots, they echoed the directions ~ visibly excited to attend daily Mass with us. 

Their heads turned in unison toward the front doors of the Church each time another worshiper entered.  A select few merited big smiles and waves, and others got nothing but the tandem sideways glances.   One woman, whose son died suddenly a few months ago, received much more...

When she entered the Church, Leia ran toward her saying, "Hi!" and looked like she was about to give her a hug, but changed her mind and sheepishly retreated with a shy grin.  Luke jumped off of Peter's lap and ran straight for the woman, saying, "I want a hug!"  In a move that was both bold and totally out of character ~ he gave pure two-year-old love to the grieving mother.  Luke hugged her and let her carry him to a nearby chair where he sat contentedly on her lap for several minutes.

Shortly thereafter, I related the tender moment in amazement to the sacristan.  She smiled as she shared that the intention for today's Mass would be for the repose of the soul of the woman's deceased son.  Timing is everything, and God's timing is perfect!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Coming and Going {Grace Abounds}

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

In our quest for daily Mass on Mondays, we have accidentally attended many funerals at the other Catholic Church in our home town. Today we happened upon the exceptional occasion of a 'double funeral' for a husband and wife (Nina and John), married 72 years.  Although baptized as infants in different countries, they both received the rest of their sacraments (Eucharist, confession, confirmation and marriage) and lived as members of the Church of the Assumption.   Dying within days of each other allowed this couple's loved ones the unique opportunity to pray for the repose of their two souls together at this one Mass.

Leaving Mass and re-entering the world-in-progress is sometimes like leaping from a hot tub into a glacier fed lake.  Today was one of those days... 

As I exited the Church after quiet prayer following the funeral(s), I caught a glimpse of a pair of high school age boys walking toward me in the opposite direction on the sidewalk.  As our paths crossed, one dropped the conversation-in-progress to chant loudly the lyrics to Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast."

Perhaps the sudden rock-n-roll monologue was for my benefit, or perhaps something inside of him randomly rebelled at the very instant he passed the Holy Church where Christ is truly present in the Eucharist.  I prayed for the young men, and praised God for His merciful, endless, and inexhaustible love.
There but for the grace of God, go I.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fostering Peace {Eternal Joys of Foster Parenting}

Acolyte Joseph with Father Joseph; Benediction at Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Our recent experience as a foster family reads like a fairy tale in some chapters, and a little like a horror story in others.  The challenges we faced with the maze of daily logistics as a family of nine were sometimes crazy-making.  Parenting seven kids (aged one through nineteen), with several needing delicate handling due to traumatic pasts, required plenty of prayers and lots of help from friends here and above.

Our relationship with the twins (nicknamed Luke and Leia here to protect their privacy) continues to blossom and grow; their mom considers us family, and regularly brings the kids to our house for visits.  They are chattery two-year-olds now, their spunky personalities emerging with every new word and expression.

Recently, Luke found me working in the kitchen and began asking, " you!"
I asked him, "Why do you want me to open the gate?" 
"Church... Go Church!" Luke emphatically replied.
I promised Luke that we would be going to Church soon, but "not right now, in a little while."

About one minute later, his little while had passed and he began begging, "Church... Church... Go Church!"

Not every two year old begs to be taken to Mass, but for Luke and Leia, going to Mass with us has become a favorite activity, something they eagerly anticipate.  Seeing Jesus, dipping their little hands in holy water, smiling at familiar friendly faces, holding (wearing) rosaries, and singing are highlights of their visits to Sacred Heart.  Some of Luke's first words were "Holy!" and "Alleluia!" (Sounded more like howey and layooya.)
Luke helps Peter with Thanksgiving meal preparations.

Peter teaches Luke and Leia the fine art of mixing pumpkin pie filling.

Joseph colors with Leia

Upon arriving at Church with the twins, the sacristan approached (my only helper) Joseph, and asked if he would please serve Mass as the normal servers that day were not available.  He agreed, after I assured him that I could handle the twins by myself during Mass.  Little did I know what sort of aerobic activity awaited me.  The little ones were in fine form: chanting (a little behind the congregation); calling out, "JOE!" whenever his motions in the sanctuary caught their attention; pew stomping and circling; and even a run for the altar ~ at which point a friend darted out from her pew to scoop up Leia in the nick of time.  I caught up with Luke from behind, a few steps behind his bolting sister, and every bit as determined to join his big (foster) brother, Joseph and Father Joseph in the sanctuary.

Although I didn't leave daily Mass with the peaceful sensation of having been rejuvenated and refreshed by the Lord (and certainly without my usual opportunity for silent prayer time) I left completely satisfied and extremely grateful for the love of God in allowing me to serve His little ones and bring them closer to Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Another Day {To Pray}

Owen wears a cap to cover some 34 probes attached to his head to read his brain waves during a seizure study at hospital.
Owen's brain scans revealed a disturbing pattern of near-constant seizures at night and several episodes during daytime.  While these revelations give light to the hidden mysteries of Owen's brain, they bring grief to his parents' hearts, as preventative treatment for this wide range of seizures does not exist.  

Baby sister Brenna keeps Owen company during another long stay at hospital.

Apollo's recovery from his second heart surgery is ongoing and painful.  Today his mom wrote from Houston:
Three hours of sleep last night for me and Apollo due to more vomiting. I am *beyond* tired and he is hysterical. Not an auspicious start to day 9 in the hospital :(
 A detailed description of the trials facing Apollo today are here

Please continue to hold Owen and Apollo and their families in your prayers. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Election Results {Joseph Victorious}

In a very close race for senior patrol leader, Joseph emerged victorious after the Boy Scout troop's election last week. Joseph will serve as the assistant senior patrol leader for the next six months, and begin his term as SPL in May 2013. 

Running against three other Scouts (worthy opponents all), and on his third attempt at being elected to this top position in the troop, Joseph carefully wrote and rehearsed his election speech and made sure all his merit badges were sewn onto this sash.   The question and answer session following the speeches gave Joseph an opportunity to practice impromptu speaking and crowd pleasing.

A series of junior leader trainings, or JLT (with sessions led and taught by the Scouts) and a planning meeting will kick off the new leadership terms this week, and a new round of boy leadership will begin again.  I must admit, I am pleased with the election results.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things and sound leadership to come...