Sunday, December 17, 2017


I am most definitely not a morning person. Convincing myself to get out of bed takes prayer. However, once I am awake, morning is one of my favorite times of day.

It is a clean slate. I have yet to make any serious mistakes. The air just feels clean and fresh when you breathe it in. God starts with a fresh canvas each morning too. The sky slowly comes to life with colors different than the day before, different from the moment before.

I sat with my coffee and my Magnificat this morning in my comfy orange chair, now riddled with claw marks from the kitten who is now mostly a cat. As I glanced away from the page to ponder what I had just read, I saw out the window the most brilliant red horizon. I blinked and the view had changed, yet was just as beautiful. I dashed up the creaky wooden stairs to grab my camera, hoping not to awaken the kids. Stepping into my slippers and stepping out the door in my bathrobe, I attempted to capture a brief moment of the ever-changing canvas before me.

There is such promise in the morning sky. I ask God to guide my feet and my heart as I begin my tasks of this day, full of things yet to be.

from this....

to this was less than a minute.

Friday, December 8, 2017


The first snow of the year is magical. Even for adults who know better. Those first flakes appearing faintly, then falling more steadily until there starts to be a blanket of white over the landscape. Snow can transform the bleakness of leafless trees and gray skies into a wonderland.

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It seems to me that Mary herself laid this blanket of white over the world to remind us what her Son can do.

They seem to be gazing longingly at their destination and their destiny

I have been reading "On Pilgrimage" by Dorothy Day for my book club, underlining passages that stand out or give me pause. From my lunchtime perusal, I can across these gems:

"What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is Love."

"God sees Christ, His Son, in us and loves us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it."

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, said "Yes" to God, said "Let it be done to me". Is that not the perfect example for us all? It was her love for God, for all of us, that let her give that "yes". Love. There never can be enough of it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Back in the Saddle

I woke up one morning and realized that I had let too many things go. The things that matter to me, that make up the rhythm of our days. It is easy in life to get overwhelmed and revert to what I call "survival mode". You take care of the basics of life until life calms down. Then you can take a deep breath, hike up your britches and add those things back to your day.

I am starting small. Bread, to be exact.  I had stopped making bread in Germany because, well, let's face it, German bread was better, not to mention fresh baked and cheap, and could be obtained by a quick stroll to the village bakery. Now? I have no excuse for eating bread that doesn't taste good. My mother had a bread machine taking up space in her pantry. So, I brought her machine to my little condo, and started experimenting. I now have a nice white loaf that is delicious. Next up is a honey whole wheat loaf that is not too dry.

My goal is to add back one thing at a time, until it is a full life we are living and not just surviving.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ironic, isn't it?

Picture if you will, a college campus, a boy, a girl. He, a meat and potatoes kind of guy. She, a vegetarian. Both studying music, yet an unlikely match. Nevertheless, they meet, fall in love, and get married.

A quarter of a century passes, seven kids are born, and the next thing you know, he is stationed in South Korea. One night he is
looking for something to watch on Netflix and decides to watch a documentary, and becomes a vegan. His wife, meanwhile, is now raising a pack of carnivores back in Tennessee.

What will become of these two? Will she learn to how to prepare vegan meals? Will the kids protest? Only time will tell, though the protesting children are pretty much a sure bet, based on tonight's foray into vegan cooking. Stay tuned as the story unfolds.

Fall Fleeing Fast

The days have been flying by, barely allowing me to appreciate them at all! In one sense, that is a good thing, because it makes this year's separation from Tony go faster. I can't believe we are almost at the halfway mark. On the other hand, after the kids are finally in bed and I can breathe a sigh of exhaustion, I wonder how many times I really, truly looked at them that day.

The kids and I have been looking out the windows of the van all through October and into November at the brilliant fall foliage surrounding us. The mountains almost looked ablaze for a while there with all the reds and oranges of the trees. Then, almost overnight, after one of those windy, rainy kind of nights, the colors were gone. Fall was gone. The dreariness of a long winter stared back at us.
Same trees, one week later

As the idea of a long, cold winter sunk in, I happened to notice this pair of deer frequenting our backyard in the mornings. The baby still had its white spots, which I thought odd at this time of year. On one of our visits to Bays Mountain, I asked one of the park rangers about the baby. She figured the mama had a miscarriage and got pregnant again late in the season. She then informed me that most of those babies don't survive the winter. Already feeling sad about this news, the next morning Anna noticed the baby's leg was injured. I called Bays Mountain again, worried sick. They said the best course of action was to let the baby stay with the mother unless it could no longer walk or the mother abandoned it. Then almost 2 weeks went by where I did not see either of them. I feared the worst. So imagine my joy this morning when I looked out my window to see them both! The leg is still injured, but looks no worse. The baby looks stronger and healthy!

I took this the morning we noticed the leg injury.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

On Finding Peace

There is an unnamed time between summer and fall. It comes and goes as swiftly as the hummingbirds at my feeder, and is just as wonderful to behold. Mornings have a chill to them, fog delicately shrouds the mountain and river, while sun glows a brilliant orange through the still silhouetted trees. The trees are taking off their lovely green summer frocks and blanketing the ground with discarded, decaying leaves, foretelling the approach of fall in full force.
Nature does not fight the changing seasons, unlike me. All the changes in our daily living have left me unsure of my place. During the terribly darkest doubt, I felt I had abandoned all the very things that define my existence. This morning, I stayed for morning circle. There, I witnessed my children participating in a farewell song to one our priests, and peace finally settled upon my heart. I know that God has led my family to this place. This school, this parish are our faith community to lean upon and contribute to for the next year and we are blessed indeed.
I wish I could bottle this moment of peace and place it on a shelf, to uncork and breathe in whenever doubt starts creeping back in, as I know it will. Adoration is one place where that peace is restored for me. Another is in nature. This morning was an answer to a prayer that has long been on my lips. 

First day of school at my alma mater. Anna is still at home with me.

One of the best parts of being in Kingsport is having my parents so nearby.
My parents have a boat on the lake. Taking advantage of one of the last  sunny, summer days.

Spending time in nature is such a balm for my soul. God's amazing handiwork abounds.

Capturing a hummingbird in flight is pretty nigh impossible.

Another change for us, a kitten! Lulu is a sweet little cat.

Celebrating Grams' 106th birthday.

And Therese's 7th.

Some things stay the same even among all the and knitting.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

When it Rains or alternately, God's plan is not always what you expect

Firstly, I am extremely grateful for our safe arrival back in the US. No one threw up before during, or after the flight, which is a vast improvement from our flight to Germany. Our wonderful friends brought us a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the flight! They never made it on the flight since they were all consumed beforehand. Mainly because we had a major delay. Our priest came to see us off as well, which I appreciated ever so much.

Less than a week after our arrival, we received the devastating news that a dear friend had died unexpectedly. We hopped into the car we had purchased only days before, and made our way to Virginia. I am so thankful that we were able to attend the funeral Mass. we stayed in the area a few extra days to see Tony's siblings and other dear friends.

There have been some glitches getting settled into our new home, and I am trying my darndest to remain positive and trust that God has a plan in mind here. The hugest obstacle to my trust happened this week. I knew not to expect our household goods to arrive quickly so when I got the email on Thursday that not only were they in country, but actually in Kingsport, I was thrilled! I called to schedule delivery and that is when it became extremely hard to say "I trust you Lord" when they informed me they could not deliver it for an entire month!! What? Kingsport is not that big. How could there possibly be that many people needing to move?

Forward to the next evening, when I got a call from the maintenance man at our condo. "Umm, ma'am, there is water leaking from your unit into the basement. Could you come over quickly?" And we did, to discover that a water pipe had been leaking for almost 24 hours! It had soaked almost all the carpet on that level of the house. It is currently being dried out and we are praying that there is minimal damage. But now I see that if the furniture had been delivered when I had hoped, all our belongings would have also sustained water damage. How good is God for sparing us that heartache! And so I am reminded once again how God's way is really the best. I must try daily to put my trust in Him.

Meanwhile, I am so incredibly blessed to have such wonderful parents, who are housing our gang until we can finally move in. I know we are not an easy bunch to accommodate. Also, the church community has been so welcoming and the VBS was this past week. What great timing! With all the glitches,the kids were able to go have fun while the big people sorted out all the problems!

I hope to return to this blog more frequently once we are settled in to our new home.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Nowadays, I will be doing some task and think, "This is the last time I will do this in Germany." The days are slowly dwindling on our European assignment. We must go back to our home country. The emotions involved are so contradictory that the whole family is struggling. Yesterday, we went to daily Mass (it was the next to last time for that), and after returning home, I was so tired out that I didn't have it in me to do any schooling, and I thought, "Let them just relax and play." They are just as unsettled as their mama apparently, for chaos and arguing quickly filled our echoing, empty house. As soon as dinner was done, we headed for the bowling alley to release some stress. It worked. Tears turned into hugs and laughing (the chocolate chip cookies might have helped too).

The previous day we went on a field trip (another 'last') that a friend so graciously set up for our family. We learned how brass instruments are made. Most of us were spellbound, excepting the two smallest, who quickly lost interest but hung in there with minimal complaints.

We toured the Alexander Musical Instrument manufacturing company. They produce baritone horns, Wagner tubas, regular tubas, and french horns. Their claim to fame are their french horns. Tony informed me that the first really good tuba he ever played was an Alexander.

Tomorrow is likely our last culinary hike. Monday is our last day in the house I have grown to love. Then we go to temporary lodging to await our flight home. Home. We have one waiting for us. A place I have only seen in pictures on the computer. But we will make it our home for the next year. This military life is full of upheavals, yet it is our life. And we will soldier on.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Lent, Legos, Lessons Learned

Lent. It was long, and emotional. Our little world is about to be in some major upheaval as we pack up and make our way back to the states. We must begin to really look at the contents of this house and decide "Is this really necessary? Why are we clinging to these things? Will they be useful in our new house?" I think Lent is a lot like that, but with our souls. What things are hanging out in our souls that are taking up precious space that needs to be for Jesus? How can we clear out a space for Him? What is keeping us from doing so?

On Holy Thursday, I was blessed to be able to spend time with Jesus in Adoration after Mass. I tell you, He can really hear your prayers when you are that close to Him, so be careful. What I asked of Him was given to me almost immediately. The question is, will I grow closer to my Lord, or will I let fear grip me and not rise to the challenge?

Somewhere along the way, we started a tradition of putting little trinkets in the Easter baskets along with the candy. Somehow that escalated this year into a group gift of a Lego set. They had all been asking for this one for over a year and it seemed like an appropriate time to give it to them. It is the Mass set, complete with a priest, vestments, tabernacle and even a relic inside the altar. They played with it all day yesterday. Jack saw a need for some enhancements to the set. He has already added a closet with hangers for the vestments. He has also added a choir and altar servers.

We invited a few friends to join us for Easter dinner. The kids got into the spirit of preparing for guests and were so helpful yesterday. It was a much needed blessing. They made place cards, folded the napkins to look like Easter Lilies, helped with food preparation and general straightening of the house. All these little things did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Today, I gave them the choice of a laundry folding party or schoolwork. They chose the first and we did have a good time together. I pray that I can continue to do the little things that will keep this family closeknit. I need only ask the Holy Spirit to guide my actions. The remembering to ask is the hard part, so I suppose that needs to be a new habit to form!

May this Easter season bring much joy to you all!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Black Forest Trip

We are nearing the end of our time in Germany. There are ever so many places I would like to visit before returning to the USA, yet we can only see so much in these remaining days. The Black Forest area is nearby, we had yet to visit this part of Germany, and we had to work around Anna's online classes. We picked places that would capture the interest of each of us, found an apartment, and we packed up and started our five day adventure.

Sunday: Drove to Strasbourg, France. It was near our destination and we had time before our check-in at the apartment. We found the Notre Dame Cathedral and waited in line to climb 330 steps to the top of the Cathedral. The kids took off at a tremendous pace, and going up a spiraling staircase, I quickly lost sight of them. That was stressful for me, even though I logically knew that they couldn't fall off the building. I admit to being short of breath by the time we reached the top, but what a view of the city! You might be surprised to learn that there are 330 steps back to the ground and my legs were quite wobbly and grateful to be done. Because there was a special Mass for what we could best figure was celebrating a new Bishop, we could not go inside the Cathedral. There was an amazing procession of nearly 100 priests in purple vestments entering the church as we waited in line.

           Then we drove onto the apartment. I was most impressed. It was so clean! Three bedrooms, a really nice bathroom, and a living/dining/kitchen area. The grocery store and bakery were right around the corner. We ate dinner in the hotel dining room the first night since the grocery store was closed on Sunday, but after that, I prepared our breakfasts and dinners, and packed picnic style lunches. We stayed four nights for just under 400 Euro plus the cost of groceries.

Monday: Europa Park. My family loves theme parks about as much as I love to knit. They had a wonderful time, therefore so did I. Jack and I rode a rollercoaster together, the first time he rode one with loops that take you upside-down. He was nervous as we waited in line, holding my hand tight, and chatting away. But the smile he wore when the ride was over let me know that he loved every minute! Tony went on all the other "wilder" rides while I managed the tamer ones with Therese and Peter. The mascot was a mouse that looks like Chuck E. Cheese. Peter kept yelling out "I love Chuck E. Cheese!" We even saw my sister's German doppleganger too!

I giggled when I saw the sign for this ride. I know I shouldn't find this amusing, but I do.

Tuesday: We drove to Furtwangen to a clock museum. It was a very nice museum with all the explanations in German, French, and English. They also had a kid's scavenger hunt to keep the little ones interested. They each received a postcard for finding all the clues. Triberg was our next stop. It boasts the largest waterfall in Germany. We enjoyed our short hike near the falls, and then did some extra exploring before heading back into town. We perused a souvenir shop, but they were a little snooty as they eyed the kids. We had to be back at the apartment by 4:00 for Anna's online class, so we did not stop at the other museum on our list. While she attended her class, we went to the store for dinner groceries and I cooked. We were all so tired, we went to bed pretty early every night. At bedtime, it was discovered that Peter had left his backpack in the clock museum with all his stuffed animals inside.

Wednesday: Our next city was Freiburg. Rick Steve's had a self-guided walk in his book on Germany. We learned so many interesting things. We also happened to be there for the open market which was right by the Cathedral. We ate Lange Rote, (long red bratwurst), fed the pigeons, browsed the market stands, and followed the walk laid out by the tour book. Then we tried to drive to St. Margen, which was supposed to take us through a dark valley. Google Maps was not aware that we may not want the fastest route and took us a different, but very scenic way. St. Margen was not too far from where Peter's lost backpack happened to be, so we swung by, picked it up and got Anna back just a few minutes late for her class.

These little water canals lined the streets. They were originally used for stopping fires from spreading by flooding the streets.

Thursday: We checked out of the hotel and headed to a glass blowing museum in Wolfach. Anna got to blow her own vase, which was pretty cool. Then, for my lover of all things antique, we went to a car museum. We are glad to be home. I will especially love my fluffy pillows and soft mattress tonight (and I believe my back and neck will thank me tomorrow).

This old car was not at the museum, but parked at the glass blowing place.

The man did all the shaping, but Anna picked out the colors and got to blow the glass.

It is still cooling in this
picture. The colors changed even more as it cooled and then they finished the top of the vase.

We are so blessed to have these opportunities. I hope the kids have wonderful memories of their time in Germany.