Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Just checking in...

Life is pretty crazy in an awesome, flying by, I can't keep up kind of way!  Moved back into my house and have started ALL the homeowner projects I haven't done for the past three years.  ALL of them.  :o)

Short trip to Utah and the breathtaking Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Antelope Canyon (okay the last is in Arizona)...pictures included.  Gorgeous!!!  And I aged another year...well passed the birthday milestone anyway. :op

Last week I flew to Texas to witness two friends (whose hearts radiate the true love of Christ!) joined in holy matrimony.  What an honor!  I was also blessed to attend the wedding with my guy! Later on during the visit, I was able to meet his friends and see part of his world...well his Texas life anyway.  :O) God is doing amazing things...I hope to write our story one day!

I'm glad to be back.  Like back in my house.  Definitely an adjustment!  But so much easier than it was to leave, to live abroad and then return from Guatemala.  I've changed.  Looking back I can see how God has patiently eased me into my before-Guate responsibilities and, at the same time, prepared me for what is to come.  He is so good!  Always.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Well, happy day after mother's day!  I just spent the last two weeks with both of my mothers!  I went with my mom on a mother-daughter trip to Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  We went in memory of my grandmother who passed away this past year and whom I loved very much.  She had a special devotion to Our Lady of Medjugorje. 

When I was 18 I lived with her and came to see how her devotion encompassed her entire life.  She tried to live the messages of Medjugorje: the five stones of prayer, fasting, Bible, confession and the Mass.  My take on Medjugorje was always, "Well, I'll go someday if it's approved."  But after my grandma's death I felt like the time was right and away I went with my mom.  It helped that the Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser, sent by Pope Francis, approved the surrounding ministry.  

View of Dubrovnik Old Town from Fort

We started in Dubrovnik, Croatia with a little sight-seeing.  This beautiful, old walled city is so pristine!  And tiny!  We stayed right in the old town (inside the walls) and since three cruise ships a day stop at this little fortress, we were glad to have the evenings and mornings to walk around and see things!

Loved this little inlet!

View from Fortress Wall

St. Ignatius Church

Streets of Dubrovnik

Our third day found us on a public bus crossing border after border...only because the countries criss-cross and so in order to reach Medjugorje we went in and out of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina several times!  Lots of stamps in our passport!  We joined up with a pilgrimage group in the small town where our Lady is reportedly appearing.

Apparition Hill our first morning with visionary Ivan

St James Church

One of the biggest blessings on this trip, besides being with my mom, was being with this group of people.  We were surrounded by devout, happy pilgrims who had come to love God and love Our Lady.  Daily rosaries, stations, Divine Mercy Chaplet and two daily Masses brought us together.  At the end of the week I was sad to leave our new friends!

Our Lady is present in every Stations of the Cross image on Cross Hill

The blue cross, site of an apparition

Medjugorje itself is a place of prayer and a place of peace.  That is the best way I can describe it.  We were there in May when all the flowers were blooming and the temperature was cool in the evening.  It was only in the midday sun that you began to feel too warm.  Prayer and song can be heard all over the valley as you walk from one side to the other through fields of grapes and roses.  The horizon is dotted by low lying mountains and nearby are two well-known pilgrimage sites: Hill of the Apparition where Our Lady reportedly appears and the Hill of the Cross where a priest placed a cross in 1933 to claim the world for Christ.

Top of Cross Hill

Back of St James, Croatian Mass

It was a blest time.  Sometimes I think we need to step back from the daily routine and focus completely on God.  This fortifies us for the challenges that so soon catch up with us!  Of course we can't always take a trip to another continent!  But maybe just taking an hour at adoration or a minute after Mass to be silent and be in God's presence.  I came home to a new roof, new boss, new job duties, and new family drama.  I'm moving back to my house this week.  I have a completely dead cell phone.  My debit card was stolen.  And for the first time in my life I am in a relationship.  

Fields that I ran through in the morning

The blessing of Medjugorje isn't that you come away living at a level of peace because all of your problems have gone away, rather you come home closer to Our Lord and Our Lady and willing to take on all your problems because you know you aren't carrying them alone.  

Kravica Falls

My biggest take home point came at the end of our pilgrimage as I listened to a priest speak about peace.  Fr. Max said that peace is the fruit of love and the love of God can only grow if our relationship with Him grows.  How does our relationship mature?  It can only grow if we are talking and listening to Him.  So we must pray.  And when we pray, we need to be attentive to WHO we are talking to and WHAT we are saying to them.  He also pointed out that the Holy Spirit is love.  He is not energy, He is a person.  We need to have a relationship with Him.  And that must come through prayer.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest;
And in our hearts take up thy rest;
Come with they grace and heav'nly aid
To fill the hearts which thou hast made,
To fill the hearts which thou has made.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The San Antonio Mission Trail and Riverwalk

I took my niece on her first trip this past week to San Antonio, Texas.  What an amazing visit!

We stayed with friends who showed us the highlights including the Riverwalk

And the Alamo!

Perfect weather, in the 80's, and the spring flowers were in bloom!

My last full day I took a ride along the mission trail which passes by the five mission churches built by the Franciscans around 300 years ago.

Not sure how but I managed to blow both of my tires...

But I did!  Easily remedied with another rental bike!

Wildflowers along the way...

Concepcion, San Juan, San Jose, Espada and the Alamo...

We were able to visit them all!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Rosary Garden

Parts reminded me a lot of Guatemala...must be the Spanish influence!

The time went by way too quickly...this city was a lovely surprise!

For more information on the battle of the Alamo, an intriguing story in itself, please check out this link: The Alamo

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Charming Charleston

Absolutely charming!  I loved Charleston!  And we had more rain than sun during our expedition...so I can only imagine what three sunny days would be like!

Like all good places, the coffee was totes phenom!  This was from a little french press in a small cafe we found our first morning.

We started the weekend off with a walking tour by Charleston Footprints.  We lucked out as the weather held until the end of the tour and we were able to see the side streets and highlights of Charleston without getting soaked!

We spent the afternoon in our raincoats, having lunch with friends, visiting the market and dodging raindrops before finishing the day at the Black Fedora Mystery Comedy Club.

A small theater run by a married couple with dual English lit degrees, they write and perform their own mystery plays, giving the bulk of the parts to the audience.  We spent the entire evening laughing and trying to solve the mystery of who killed Watson and Sherlock Holmes.  In addition to some witty dialogue, slapstick humor and surprising performances by the audience, there were plenty of funny references to both Charleston and Conan Doyle that made for a well-rounded evening of entertainment.  

The next day we had sun!  After an early Mass, we headed out to Magnolia Plantation and Garden!  The flowers, house and wildlife (including alligators!!) made for a great visit.

Some shots from around town:

boiled peanuts

Rainbow Row

Our final morning we stopped at the Angel Tree on Johns Island.  This 400 year old live oak was HUGE and amazing.  Definitely could have been in Lord of the Rings!

I wish we had more time in this charming place.  Plenty of things to see and do!  Oh well, there is always next time!