Sunday, August 2, 2015

ice cream on thursdays

I have a friend, a former co-worker, who is older than my mom, who is having some serious health issues, having been diagnosed with  some chronic problems.  She has been asking for months for me to take her to "Charlene's Grave".  Charlene Richard was a little Cajun Girl who lived and died over 50 years ago in a rural community about 45 minutes from us.  She died at age 12 after a short battle with leukemia, and gradually she has developed a reputation as the "L'il Cajun Saint".

So, with school about to start, and time about to become very short, when she suggested that we go "next  week", I googled.  The cemetery where Charlene is buried is adjacent to the church.  The parish has Mass at 6:00 pm on Thursdays, so I told her we would go then.  I figured if we were going to make a road trip of it, we might as well do more than sit in a hot cemetery.  This is Louisiana, and it was July.

We arrived in time for Mass.  I knew that since it was a small, rural community, we would obviously stick out at Mass, but I had hoped to blend in at least a little.  Well, so much for that idea. Including the priest, the musician, and the altar server, there were 7 of us at Mass.  That's the number of completion and perfection in the Bible, though.  Mass was absolutely gorgeous...the musician played and sang her heart out.  The homily felt like it was written just for us (and matched the picture of Abraham and Isaac in the sanctuary).

After Mass, we ventured out to the cemetery.  Charlene's grave is easy to spot, but someone else was praying there, so we meandered around the cemetery for a bit, before stopping to visit with Charlene. Even though it was after 6 in the evening, it was still quite hot, but  the experience was so peaceful. We were alone, and except for nature, there were no sounds.  No vehicles passing on the highway.....just peace.  We paused long enough to write down our petitions and place them in the box on her grave.  We knelt and prayed. Tears may or may not have been shed.

I know that some have reservations about the whole business of asking saints to pray for us, but I believe that if we can ask other broken people in this broken world to pray for us, then surely we should be able to request assistance of someone whom we believe has direct access to the Good Lord.

We made our way back home, - a little more at peace, and a little more hopeful,  but not before stopping at McDonald's for an ice cream sundae.

Fast forwarding to the next Thursday.  It was hotter than hot, but my son and two of his Boy Scout buddies were to meet in a local park for one of the other parents to take their pictures, in anticipation of upcoming Eagle Scout Ceremony.  

A couple of the grandkids were visiting, so I had brought them with me, thinking they would enjoy the park as something different.  They fed the ducks....

...and played on the playground.  But they were tired, and it was hot, and they mostly just wanted to get to their other grandma's house.  

When the photo shoot was done, the boys decided to go eat ice cream (it is summer and it is hot), and after letting the girls play for a little longer, I took them to meet up with their other grandmother. We saw one police unit shortly after leaving the park.  We were nearly broadsided by another that was speeding through a red light.  After I dropped the girls off, I met up with the boys and the photographer dad at the ice cream shop, and we sat for an hour or more, talking and watching as law enforcement vehicles - marked and unmarked - sped by at odd intervals. The 3 boys have known each other since second grade, and all of them are starting college in the fall, and that occupied much of the conversation.  "My mom says there's been a shooting at the Grand," one of them said quietly, reading the text from his phone.  So in the age of instant information, we all turned to our phones...

Yep, sure enough.  But not much information available. Maybe some domestic issue, we assumed.  We visited a while longer before going our separate ways. 

Once we got home, we saw our  hometown on national news. When all the dust settled, three people were dead - people connected only by the fact that they had gone to see Trainwreck on a hot, July night.  The deceased included the shooter - someone from out of state who was "just not right" and two beautiful young ladies, Jillian and Mayci.  Several others were hospitalized.  

But here, we still pray.  Here, we come together to emerge even stronger. Here, we have joy, and nobody from out of town is going to steal our joy on a hot Thursday night.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

so much grace

Something about this time of year makes me want to put down thoughts somewhere and Facebook just isn't the right medium for it.

It's been a time of grace - the last few months.  Lent started in February and I wrote down a prayer or two. "Lord, grant me the wisdom and humility to see myself as you do....Help me to see."

And instead of caving into the temptation to do a million things for Lent, I picked 2 things - getting up when the alarm went off the first time and writing names of friends and family on a calendar and praying/offering the sacrifices of each day for them.  Both of my Lenten observances were works in progress.  The calendar worked when I remembered to look to see who I was praying for.  So many days the conversation went, "Lord, I am offering this Mass for whoever is on my calendar today."  I had even taken a picture of it on my phone, so I would have it.  But then most days for Mass my phone was in the car.  And getting up when the alarm went off...well, that went OK the first week, but then Daylight Savings Time happened, and the struggle was on.

God, for His part did grant the things I asked for.  Oh, indeed I could see, and there were other things that He put in my path that I took advantage of.  God would get an A+ for this Lent.  I was probably about a C-.
One of the graces of Lent was a Catholic Youth Fest held at a seminary a couple of hours from home in late March.  I had heard of it a few years ago, but at the time going just wasn't in the cards.  This year, it was.  Both of my boys and their girlfriends went, and ENJOYED it!

Tell me this is not a grace.  Of all the, bathroom, church tours... this was by far the longest. There were about 2 dozen priests scattered throughout the clearing in the woods, sitting under umbrellas. They said that over 800 people made their way through the confession line that day.  

 And this.  4,500 people  - most of them teens - at Mass with an Archbishop, 2 Bishops, and dozens of priests.  Right before Mass ended, the Archbishop addressed the crowd, asking for those young people who were actively discerning or who would be OPEN to discerning a vocation in religious life,  should the Lord call, to come forward.  There were hundreds who did so.  My youngest turned around and said to me, "Well, that's an awkward question to say "yes" to when your girlfriend is right here!"  Grace.
 Here's my four favorite young people at Mass.  Boys and their girlfriends - one Catholic, one not.  All claimed to have enjoyed the day and asked about returning next year.  Grace.
Young people praying in the Chapel Tent in the woods.  Quiet. Still.  Grace.

Early in the week, there had been a 90% chance of rain forecast for the day of the Festival.  Gradually, it subsided to 50%.  It was a beautiful, warm, spring day, and the rain held off until about 8 pm.  At that time, the events abruptly concluded before the final speaker finished and before the candlelit adoration.  But that was grace, too.

My "take away" was from the last speaker - a seminarian named Joe Bass.  He was leading up to Adoration, and told the teens, "Jesus did not come to bring you a good conduct report.  He didn't come to bring you a sticker and a Dum-Dum.  He came to meet you in your brokenness."

This year, our pastor was available for confessions on the Tuesday evenings of Lent.  Only 30 minutes, but it still beats Saturday afternoons.  I went one of the Tuesday evenings towards the middle of Lent, and I was #4 of 4 penitents, I think.  The Tuesday of Holy Week, he was available for an hour, and there was a much bigger crowd.  It was to this one, that one of my teens accompanied me.  When they were much younger, we used to indulge in ice cream after confession.  Some things don't change, I discovered. But it's grace when your young adults will still set foot in a confessional.  And for the record...that flavor of ice cream...worth every single calorie.  My penance that night was to offer Mass the next day in thanksgiving for God's mercy and to be open to His graces during Holy Week with a "warm heart".

Wednesday was our Tennebrae Service.  I always go, but don't always walk away inspired.  This year, I got a text in the middle of the day from our choir director asking if I was going and if I would read for it.  Being open to whatever graces might be there, I answered back "yes and yes".  I spent the day at our Special Olympics Track meet and it was hot and very sunny.  I was spent by the time the evening rolled around, but the music was lovely - you could just sit back, close your eyes, and listen, the Psalms, all came together.

Holy Thursday is my favorite day of the Liturgical Year, I think, and for weeks, I had contemplated taking the day off.  At some point, I got an email from one of my friends during Lent inviting me to the Passion Play on Thursday morning at her son's school, and I figured that was a sign to take the day off.  So I did.

The Senior Class put on the play, and it was well-done and moving.  My youngest son, who had gone to school with some of these kids in elementary and middle school also took the day off and came with me. Grace.

The next stop of the day was the Chrism Mass.  I've been a few times before, and love it.  My regular church lady friend couldn't come, so I invited my sister-in-law.  I sensed that she wasn't sure about coming, because she had a lot to do that day, but she did.  The priests of the diocese come to this Mass to renew their promises as a priest and also to receive the blessed oils (thus the name Chrism Mass) for use in their ministries and parishes.  As you see row after row of priests file into the pews, you are struck by the diversity of the priesthood.  There are fat and skinny, tall and short, old and young.  Priests in shiny loafers and priests in worn black sneakers.  Black, white, Indian, and Asian.  Priests who are bald and even a priest with a pony tail.  And then there is a deep appreciation for all of them - whether they are long-winded or short and sweet, arrogant or humble, simple or extravagant, funny or serious, - a deep appreciation for their "yes". Grace.

I have no pictures of the Chrism Mass; it would just not be appropriate to pull out a camera or an iphone and start clicking.  And it probably wouldn't capture it anyway...the sights, the music that is right next to heaven, the incense. When all was said and done, my sister-in-law turned to me and says, "We're coming EVERY year!"  Grace.

Thursday evening is the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and if I could only go to one Mass a year, this would be it!  I have no pictures of it, either.  It is a simple affair at our parish.  No feet are washed.  Adoration only continues for an hour after Mass.  But the Eucharistic procession touches me every year.  Our priest carefully wraps his vestment around the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament, as a mother would wrap up a child going out into the cold, holds it close to him and slowly processes around the inside of the church, up and down each side.  It gets me every time - Jesus walking among us.  It is grace.  And the period of passes way too quickly, but it is a lovely, quiet time to reflect on Lent that is now over and to look forward to the events of Good Friday and beyond.  Grace.

There was a side note to my grace this year.  All during Lent, and even before, I have struggled with getting to daily Mass on time.  For the past few years, I have driven my kids to the bus stop, waited for the bus, and then proceeded to Mass, and the times worked out perfectly - I was seldom late.  Now my remaining high schooler drives himself most days, and the urgency to get out of the house is not the same.  I have brought the struggle to confession, once, twice, maybe more.  It has been way harder than it needs to be.  But the struggle is real, as they say.  I know that I checked the time for the Chrism Mass, and relayed the time to my sister-in-law.  I "knew" it was at 10:00, and we were there nearly an hour early.  10:00 rolled around, and things didn't seem to be starting.  Oops, it was 10:30.  As I sat there waiting, it occurred to me that God had indeed found a way to get those minutes back that I had been late.  Grace!

That would be funny enough, except that I repeated the scenario almost exactly for the evening Mass.  I had copied and pasted the Mass schedule from last year's (or the year before's) altar server schedule and missed the fact that Mass was at 6:30 and not 6:00.  I felt a little bad for my altar servers who were there an hour early, but they (and their parents) were good about it.  Grace. And God's sense of humor.

May God's grace find you in the celebrations yet to come as part of the Triduum and the Easter season. Look for Him with a warm heart and an open mind.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

creating a space

Often in the mornings, I stick around after Mass.  There is really no point in going back home (and leaving again in 5 minutes), and I don't want to be too early for work.  So I soak in 15 or 20 or 25 minutes of quiet time and life is good.  The priest finishes up what he needs to do to get ready for the next Mass, and then he turns off the lights - except for the one where I hang out - locks the doors, and leaves me in peace.

Sometimes I drift over the alcove where the Blessed Mother's statue is.  We talk about mom things or husbands.  There are candles in her alcove, and it bothers me when there are some that are burnt out, so I will take those out and replace them with fresh ones and then all seems right in the world.  Occasionally, I come across one which has started to burn and then fizzled.  I will indulge my inner pyro and relight it...sometimes it takes a little bit of persistence, but I usually get it.  Prayers go along with those burning candles, so I figure maybe those prayers needed to be stretched out for a while longer and I'll add my prayers for whatever intention they were lit for.

A couple of weeks back, though, I came upon a candle that was a challenge.  It was filled to the very top with wax, and the wick didn't have a chance.  It reminded me of us sometimes.  We are so filled with all kinds of useful and good things - husbands, children, work, church activities - that we don't have a chance.  The candle had every thing it needed in order to be a fully-functioning candle (wax and a wick), it was just too full.  During this season of Advent - or what remains of it - give yourself some space, preferably a quiet space and see if that doesn't help your light shine more brightly in the darkness.

Related side note:  One of our church people had a stroke last year about this time and now lives in a nursing home nearby, but is still pretty functional.  At Bible study a few weeks ago, he had asked me if I'd give him a ride to the church gumbo which was last Sunday after the 10:30 Mass.  I'd agreed.  I called him on Saturday to see what time he wanted to be picked up (I'm thinking 10:30...11:00.)  "Well I want to go to 8:30 Mass," he said, "so you can pick me up at 7:30." I must have stuttered a little bit, and I'd already left a voicemail  suggesting 10:30 or 11, but I agreed to 7:30.  He called me back a few hours later and left a voicemail saying 11:00 would be fine, and after having had some time to think about it, I called him back and told him I would be there at 7:30.

He was waiting with his walker outside the facility the next morning when I got there (in the vicinity of 7:30).  He showed me how it folded up, I threw it in the back, and we were off.  There was only one other person in the church when we got there, and the air conditioning must have been set on "morgue", but in an otherwise non-stop, crazy weekend, it was wonderful to have that quiet space before Mass started, and I appreciated that God had arranged for me to have it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ending another chapter

Hasn't been too many months ago since we passed this milestone!
And then we were on to the next step.  We all agreed that a 4-year college wasn't the best step.  He loves history and art, but school - not so much.  He had signed up for Aviation Maintenance on the Community College website (because someone told him it might be fun?)  Then he thought about becoming an Electrician.  My ADHD son around electricity didn't sound like the best career path, so we suggested Machine Tools.  He seems to have an eye for seeing details that others don't.

One day, shortly after graduation we were shopping at one of those large warehouse chains when we ran into our Cubmaster from long ago, along with his wife and youngest son.  I knew that he worked for a company that employed machinists, so I told him of the decision we were looking at:  Electrician vs Machinist.  With a little encouragement from his wife. ;-), Mr. P offered to take the graduate to work with him one day and show him around.  Later in the week, they did just that, and the boy returned home certain of what he wanted to do...Machine Tools, it was!  He scheduled his classes that afternoon on the Community College website. He even texted his schedule to Mr. P, who had said they might be able to find something for him to do part time at his company.

All was well until about 3 weeks ago, when the community college called and said that his classes wouldn't start until the spring.  Now what?  Well, look for work, I suppose.  Once again he contacted Mr. P, but he didn't hear anything in reply.  Then about a week ago, the community college called again and said he could reschedule his classes.  Oh, and by the way tuition was due.  So we took care of that.  This kid took the money out of his savings and checking accounts to pay the tuition because he said he knew he'd do better if it was his money.

Then Sunday, Mr. P's wife called me.  "P's boss is trying to get in touch with B....make sure he calls him," she said.  He called yesterday and scheduled the interview for today.  "I think I got the job," he texted me.  It's a full time job, starting Monday, if he passes his physical.  "On the job training for this kind of job is better than school," he says.  A part of us is programmed to say, "You HAVE to go to school."  But he is going to see about a tuition refund tomorrow.

He is excited and looking forward to this new chapter.  I am, too.  That's what we do as parents...raise productive members of society.  But I suppose, though, this is kind of a signal that childhood and all that entailed is wrapping up real fast. I'm a little sad about that.  But glad that we are moving forward.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

remember me?

It's been a million years or six months since I last posted anything here.  Sometimes I think about it, but then I get half way through a post or don't start it at all.  I don't know what happened from the days of thinking, "Oh, I can blog about this."  I suspect part of it is that my kids turned into real people.  More or less.

But  there are a couple of  things from earlier in the year that I want to write down just so I remember them. Remembering is getting harder and harder, it seems.  I think its because my brain is out of available memory space and there is a constant assault of information  That's what I'm going with, anyway.

I am spending some wonderful, valuable, golden time with my BFF.  I've been here's been three years -almost exactly to the day - since I was here.  But tomorrow I head home.

So let me download a couple of things from my memory...good things.

In 2013, towards the end of wrestling season, one of my sons' coaches collapsed during practice and died right there - on the mat.  It was sudden, it wasn't pretty, and it was one of those parts of life you wish you could shield your kids from, but can't. forward a year to the 2014 wrestling season.  Our high school hosts a tournament every January, and this year it was renamed in honor of the coach who had passed away.  Many of his family members were in attendance.

As I washed my hands in the restroom - of all places - a woman that I had never met before, introduced herself to me as the sister of the late coach.  She said, "I just want you to know, I'm ______'s sister, and he always had such positive things to say about your sons.  And I've heard other coaches say the same thing, too."  We do our best raising our children, but sometimes it really is nice to hear something out of the blue so positive.

I hate it when people post on Facebook about how fabulously, wonderfully awesome their amazing honor roll, principal's list kids are, so I refrained from splashing that on Facebook for all the world to see.  I think sometimes those people just want more people to say how awesome their kids are and it's because their parents are so great, of course.  But it's here so I won't forget it.

I had another proud mom moment in April.  There was an evening meeting for my son's internship program after school one day.  There is a kid who lives in a nearby subdivision...his parents work nights...he asked for a ride.  So we picked him up - not a total stranger, he has run cross country with my boys, rides their bus, etc.  On the way home, my child wanted to stop at Chick-Fil-A.  I was not interested in eating  there(started Weight Watchers a month or so earlier), but I stopped so he could get something.  I stayed in the car and let them go in.

Our ride-along buddy didn't have any money, and had never even been to Chick-Fil-A before.  I was proud of my child, for doing the right thing (without me nudging him along) and buying a sandwich for his friend.  After they got in the car, his friend said to my son, "I owe you, man."  "Nah, that's OK...just pay it forward some day."  It was another proud mom moment.

I listened to the 2 of them talk in the back seat on the way home.  My boys and this young man catch the bus at 6 am, which is way too early, in my opinion.  BUT, this kid wakes up even earlier and walks his sister - who goes to a different high school even further from home - to the bus stop at 5:30 because he does not want her to wait alone at that hour.  It kind of gives you a little bit of faith in humanity that there are still responsible, selfless, giving people in the world.

Now I shall crawl back into blog oblivion...or maybe I'll come back and share my visit with my BFF.  Just depends on what's happening in the world (my world).  Tomorrow will be a travel day, and then the next day begins inservice days for school.  RIP summer.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

today's faves

Inspiration for this post goes to Meg at Held By His Pierced Hands.  Her blog should really be in my sidebar....I just haven't updated recently.  I love, love, love her writing and thoughts.  In a recent post, she shared some of her favorites after someone had asked what her favorite parable was.

And since I seem to lack for ideas of my own lately, here goes.....

Favorite Parable:  The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:  11-32)  I think it is the story of most of us.  I also remember reading it during our First Confession Ceremony/Celebration/Liturgy all those years ago in third grade.

Favorite Image of Jesus:  The Good Shepherd  The fact that He leaves the 99 and goes off in search of the one lost sheep.  So, not only does He welcome us back when we come to our senses, but He goes out, searches for us, and carries us back.  See Matthew 18:12-13.

Favorite Bible Verse:  I'm pretty sure that can't be narrowed down to just one.  Tops on the list:  Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)  Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. (James 4:8)  Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.  (Mark 9:24).

Favorite Bible Study: Anything by Jeff Cavins and the folks at the Great Adventure.  I have studied James, the Bible Timeline, Revelations, Acts, and Matthew (twice).  Again it is difficult to pick a favorite, but James was short and had a great deal of practical application.

Favorite Liturgy:  This is an easy one....Holy Thursday...the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  It is beautiful.   It begins with an open, empty Tabernacle.  Even without the customary washing of the feet - an option that our pastor chooses not to exercise - there is so much symbolism and richness.  It is a Mass that doesn't least not right then.  It concludes with Adoration, at the end of which the priest removes the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle, leaving it empty as it was at the beginning of Mass.   A bonus on Holy Thursday is the Chrism Mass, which is held early in the day at the Cathedral.  Simply beautiful.

Favorite Prayer:  This would have to be the Prayer of St. Francis...Lord make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred..... I don't know why it's my favorite.  I'm pretty sure I don't know it by heart in its entirety,  nor do I pray it regularly.  Maybe it's the structure, the poetic nature, or just the simplicity, and the image of what we should all be.

Favorite Sacrament:  Of course, the Eucharist is the hands down (or hands-out) winner.  What is not to love?  Our God making Himself present to us - condescending to us - to be consumed in order that He can consume us.  But a really close second would have to be Reconciliation/Confession/Penance.  It is that one-on-one with Jesus.  That combination of nervousness and anticipation.  The grace, the encouragement, the warmth, the fresh start.  It is so worth it.  Every single time.

Favorite Penance:  I have had many that are thought-provoking and/or helpful, and my current priest never assigns the "say 3 Hail Marys" variety.  My favorite, though, "Go and bask in the silence and let Jesus speak to you."

Favorite Catholic Musician:  That would be Matt Maher.  Love, love, love.  And my favorite of his songs, "Deliver Me."  Loosely based on the Litany of Humility.

Favorite Catholic Devotionals:  This awesome series.  There is something for each day of the year that  matches up with the Scripture readings for the day.  Things that make you think, but presented so that normal people can understand.  In Conversation With God.  I got most of my copies from eBay.

Favorite "Catholic" thing to do:  Adoration.  This is the best thing ever.  Whether the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance or simply present in the Tabernacle of whatever random Catholic Church you find yourself at.  What do you do when you go?  You can just sit in the Presence.  You can kneel.  You can kneel then sit.  You can pray prayers you know.  You can just sit and gaze.  You can tell God everything that is on your mind.  You can sit and listen to God whisper in your ear.  You can read.  You can write (one of my favorite things to do).  You can ask for forgiveness.  You can ask for wisdom.  You can ask for help.  You can surrender. You can praise Him.  You can thank Him.  You can do all of the above.  It is amazing the answers that come.  The peace that comes.  Amazing.

Favorite Lenten Practice:  The best Lenten "penance" ever was daily Mass.  I started part way through Lent one year, and committed to 3 days a week (because our parish had Mass at 6:30 am 3 days a week and I could go and make it to work at the required 7:05).  This was absolutely the best thing ever.  I was hooked long before Lent was over and felt like someone had been keeping this little treasure a secret.  It's not a penance.  It's a gift.  And it's certainly not just for Lent.

And that, boys and girls, are my favorites for now.  I'm sure there are more that I could add....and maybe I will....

Friday, January 3, 2014

13 for 13

I was going to compose something profound about the year in review, but this seemed like a better option.  Especially since its been a while since I've written anything bordering on profound.  Thirteen pictures...from 2013.

1. My boys at a wrestling meet.  It is such a hard sport to appropriately photograph in action.  I love that they enjoy it as brothers.  They say wrestling teaches a lot about real life.  It became a little too real, however, when one of their coaches had a heart attack and died during practice in early 2013.

2.  The Eagle Project for Son #1 was completed.  Merit badges remained, but at least this part was done.

3. In the spring, I made a decision that I never thought I would make, and elected to leave the place where I had worked for the past 24 years.  In retrospect, it was an unexpected blessing.

4.  This was the key to my sanity while working at that place.  Almost every morning, before work, I could find 10 or 15 minutes or more...sometimes an hour.... to sit in the peace and the Presence.  It was at Mass in this church that I first had an inkling that God might have something different planned for me for the coming year.

5.  It wasn't the school where I thought I might be going.  But I prayed to know the "right" one, and in the end, it met every one of the specifications (both serious and not so serious) that I had on my Perfect School list.

6.  Kid #2 got to spend 2 weeks at the National Boy Scout Jamboree.  He is a character.

 7.  Kid #1 turned 18.  I was so excited that he would be able to sign all of his own back-to-school paperwork when school started.  He also worked 2 jobs this summer:  a 7:30-4:30 internship with the computer repair folks at the school board and then a 5:00-11:00 or so job at Sonic as a carhop. We didn't see much of him!

8 &9.  Totally enjoyed a visit from the grandkids.  There are 6 of them...4 of them are seen in these pictures.

10.  We don't always get back-to-school pictures. Its a hectic morning for all of us.  But they let me snap one out of the car window as they waited for the bus.  I have a junior and a senior!  How time has flown.  Speaking of's about 6 a.m. in the picture, which is why they don't look too alert.

 11.  This was a long road - working on the Ad Altare Dei religious award.  But we finally finished it up and our pastor presented our little group with their medals one Sunday morning.  The lighting in the picture is not great, but we were proud.

12.  Son #2...full of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Smelling the sweet scent of chrism.

13.  A half-way decent family picture at Son #1's Eagle Ceremony.  Finally!!

Lagniappe:  Visiting with my Granddad.  He is 97 and looking good!

Gotta include one more bonus pic.  This one was a "selfie in the sacristy".  Altar servers before the Easter Vigil Mass.  I like the little guy looking up to the older servers.  My guys have served at the Easter Vigil for the past 7 or so years.  They do it willingly, but each year I think, "this might be the last time.".  That growing up thing.

It was a year.  Closed doors and new beginnings.  Goals achieved, gifts received.  Through it all, God is good!