Monday, March 29, 2010


Observation Day for Gymnastics last week.  Here's a few shots of the action - Betsy, John Michael and David are our gymnasts this year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Everyone Needs a Mary

I have a friend named Mary.  We think alike which most people would say is a scary thing to have *two* brains like ours in this world.  I first met Mary at a Catholic charismatic prayer meeting in somebody's living room.  I'm not even sure which somebody but I'm sure it was a living room since that's the only place we ever met for meetings.  That was shortly after Tad and I were married - so I guess I've known her for going on 16 or 17 years now.  It was love at first sight.  She was among the many who prayed JT into our lives after the medical professionals pronounced us infertile.  She didn't stop there - she may be single-souledly responsible for the next 11 as well as she is probably our biggest prayer warrior ever.  That and very early on she had a vision of me in a denim jumper surrounded by children of all ages and nationalities.  I think she was determined to see that vision become reality.  As you can imagine, she's perfectly thrilled with how things have turned out.
Over the years I've learned everything about Mary.  She calls me on the phone at the most random times and we have hour long conversations.  I've heard all about her children - one of whom grew up in Tad's circles and when a mutual friend of theirs died at a too young age they reconnected at the funeral.  When her daughter was in a terrible car accident I prayed hard for her and her unborn baby.   That unborn baby has since become a tall and athletic young man but he'll always be "my Michael" when Mary talks about him to me.  I never met these people - they've come alive to me over the years in our phone conversations.  Her people became my people and they never knew it.   One day Mary called me up and said "I know what your baby looks like and I know where she was the other day and I know she's really cute.  Do you know how I know all that?"  I hadn't a clue except that she's Mary and Mary just seems to know things about me.  Turns out "my Michael" is Mick - the kid with long, curly hair on JT's travel soccer team and I had unknowingly developed a side-lines friendship with "my Julie", Mary's daughter.  Turns out I know things about Mary that even "my Julie" doesn't know.

My kids love Mary.  She shows up at completely random times, always loaded down with goodies she's bought on clearance at the Dollar Store (only Mary could find clearance items at the Dollar Store).  She sweeps into the door demanding hugs and kisses and showering the kids with lots of "oh you've gotten so tall"s and "is that really you?!  I never would known it - you've grown up so much"s.  Then she plops herself down on the floor in the middle of them and starts pulling things out of plastic bags as they climb all over her and giggle and try to peek in her bags.  Once she distributes all the toys she sits back and grins from ear to ear, watching them play.

After a few minutes of that she gets real serious and pulls them all up around her and says, "You know what I want now.  It's time to sing me a song."  Ben will step forward and start a rousing rendition of My Mommy's A Pirate or the German Water Drinking Song - which always makes her laugh - before I steer them into a church song we've been learning - most recently the hymn to the Theotokos - which always makes her cry.

One time she visited, instead of bearing gifts she came bearing ice cream for the freezer and slipped me some money to buy the kids a real surprise - something a bit more lasting than Made In China toys.  The last time she came we broke out the two cotton candy makers she had bank-rolled and she and Tali ran from one to the other licking up the stray sugar and sharing wisps of fluff right out of the machines. That time she also brought boxes of toys that came from her niece who works for an adaptive PE equipment distributor.  What fun to have among those boxes team pinnies numbered from 1 to 12.  Of course she made them all put them on in order and get their picture taken.  That was the same visit the kids unveiled the mii they had made of Mary on the wii. Mary has no idea what a wii does but she was tickled pink with her mii.

Mary loves babies.  Over the years she's done things like rock drug babies in the hospital, prepared maybe as many as a thousand bassinets for young mothers who have nothing for their new babies - and taught us how to prepare them as well.  She's prayed for babies she's never met and she's held every one of my babies.  She grandmothers women who have had abortions and loves them out of their pain at Rachel's Vineyard retreats.  She spends equally as much time with the elderly.   She's just awesome like that.

Somehow I always know when Mary is going to call.  I can feel it in my soul and then the phone rings.  She always leaves me with nuggets of wisdom - usually the very same things I've been grappling with in my spirit are the thoughts she names for me.  "It is what it is", "The older I get the less I know", "Children are so much smarter than the rest of us."  She collects stories and shares her personal pilgrimage through life with me and then she listens as I share mine.  Everyone needs a Mary.  Who is yours?

Faith - Six Months!

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Trying to get everyone to confession before Pascha is a bit of a challenge.  So last evening I took JT, Ben, Ruth and David to Vespers.  David is very interested in singing in the choir so on lightly attended services, I pull up a chair for him to stand on, put him in front of a music stand and whisper the words in his ear so he can follow along.  That worked for a while until he started to lose ground and looked at me with little pleading eyes and said, "Mom, Miss. Peggy is going too fast!"

After the service, Ben, JT and Ruth moved over to the other side to indicate to Father they wanted him to hear their confessions.  Not wanting to be left out, David followed along and sat right in line with them.  A few of us smiled at him which made him realize he might not be doing what he was supposed to be doing so he came back over to me and asked, "Mom, what is confession?"  After I explained it to him he answered with, "Oh, I think I'm not tall enough for that" and went along his merry way.