Seasons

When I was divorced and single living in Orange County, all I wanted was to be married and start a family. It felt like my life was dragging by and with each baby shower I attended I felt more and more defeated, depressed and desperate.

I had reached the ripe age of 35, which in dating circles of Orange County is like saying you’re 50! Men in that age bracket ONLY wanted to date girls in their 20’s.

I guess the ticking of my biological clock was gotten pretty LOUD! I was even toying with the idea of checking Ebay for a baby (just kidding) . It seemed at the time my most likely way to get my hands on a wee human of my own, and besides Ebay has everything under the SUN!

I had been to ready give up hope. Meanwhile God had a way better and crazier plan for my life. You see just when I had become hopeless, I met my husband over the phone, at work. (Long story short I relocated and started a whole new life).

I moved to Ohio in December of 2004, during the almost blizzard (we didn’t have the winds) but people had to be rescued by snowmobile off  I75 and I70. According to Wikipedia it was considered a category 4 “crippling” snow storm that left Dayton with a record 16 inches of snow in 30 hours.

In my family we have a running joke that when a Cason moves, it disrupts normal weather patterns. For example when 2 or more of us gather earth quakes sometimes follow in places where earthquakes are NOT the norm.

But even for me this “Blizzard” was like a “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto” wake up call for me and my 16 year old cat Mr.Mokoto. I had been here in Dayton just over 24 hours and a blizzard SHUT Down the MidWest and parts of Canada.

Then the first spring came and the yards were full of daffodils, tulips and crocus flowers. I asked Chris “Are those fake?Because in California people put out fake flowers, and just hose the dust off them?” He looked so disgusted, he said “NO those are real, who ever heard of planting fake flowers?” Dude it’s a thing I promise!

Cut to me a few years later and 2 toddlers, my life literally went into a kind of hyper speed that I’m still catching up from.

Because our kids were so close together (19 months), much of their first years are a complete blur of diapers, bottles, lack of sleep and CONSTANT plotting to out smart the two of them.

So when I finally came out of the house long enough to send Isabella to preschool (her choice not mine) I started to get used to the 4 different seasons that we see here in the MidWest.

You see in California I say we have 5 seasons, they consist of Fire/Draught, Rain/Flooding, Mud Slides (because the tree roots burned away) and Earth Quakes Season (usually when it’s very HOT and Dry).

Oh and my favorite The Santa Ana Winds, that whip through the valley and blow down fences but also clears away the perpetual SMOG. Not to be confused with FOG (as in the June gloom that hangs over the beach communities until about lunch time). See the water is cold (60’s) and the air is warm, hence this fog that befuddles people on vacation who came for the sunny California beaches.

So for this California transplant, the 4 different seasons of Ohio were so amazing!

I still maintain that Spring and Fall are my favorites by far. All the beautiful color that appears each spring with the lovely Redbud, Flowering Dogwood and Cherry Blossom trees. Then every where are bright flowering bulbs.

These seem to last for less than a month, the pink flowers drop off almost over night and the leaves fill up all the naked trees.

Then the steamy summer rolls in and I try to avoid the sun and humidity at any cost. Meanwhile the kids want to be at the pool 12 hours a day. My mind is constantly thinking “Which one of us is getting voted off this island?” (#IsleofBickeringKids) and thinking of what to make for dinner that won’t involve heating the house up with the oven. #CrockPotTime

Then just when you think you CAN’T bare the heat one more day, the leaves on the trees start turning colors and fall is here! I love fall!

A neighbor has a tree that every year I know how the season is progressing because of their HUGE Maple. The leaves start off green, then start changing to a rich red, then a harvest orange with a few yellow leaves. Then they drop off and I know winter isn’t far behind this tree’s change. It’s almost like that one tree sets the schedule for all the other trees in our neighborhood.

Winter in Ohio is a funky thing, like the weather in Hawaii, it can’t make up its mind. Some winters since I’ve been here we’ve had so much snow that schools are closed and my girls have built an igloo at the end of our driveway. Other winters I have seen people out playing tennis in January.

When my girls were very little I remember bundling them up from head to toe in little snow suits, snow boots, mittens, hats, the WORKS! Just to spend 15-20 minutes outside. Now that they are older I let them dress themselves to the level that they think will keep them warm and yell at them to GO OUT and PLAY!

We get a little stir crazy here in the winter, with the lack of sun or too much snow.

In the MidWest it’s normal to be out running errands in negative 10 windchill. It’s about the only time I truly bundle up (hat, gloves, Lands End parka), to pump my own gas. But when it’s 40 and the sun is out? I call that shorts weather with a sweatshirt.

Living in Ohio has taught me an entire new level of weather appreciation. That and I like say “I’m teaching the weather a lesson!” as I wear flip-flops and a dress to pick up my kids and it’s 50 and sunny.

All this weather talk is leading me to this point, with ALL these seasons.I see very clearly each passing year of my life.

I see my children growing and changing too quickly. I see myself aging and my husband retiring. We are in that stage of life were our children are still in elementary but the next season is high school, then college.

When I first had my children my best girlfriend Shelby told me “Your life will now be one, birthday party, to one sporting event, to the next holiday”. She was so right, the way I marked time as a single woman is so radically different then the way I mark time now as a mom and wife.

It’s literally carpools, volunteering, drinks with girlfriends, what to make for dinner, etc. Some might think that is mind numbingly dull, but to me, I get tremendous pleasure in these little things that seems so mundane. Because the older I get (I’m 50 now) the faster this time goes.

I catch myself looking for homes all on level so that my husband and I can age in place when the kids go off to college. I look forward to traveling and holding grand babies one day, God willing and going to mass daily.

Maybe a move to a warmer climate is in our future, but I would truly miss these distinct seasons Ohio has shown me.

4 seasons

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

 

 

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Angels & The Bible

I hear this often “She is an angel in heaven now” or “He is angel watching over us”.

Have you ever heard this phrase? I realize it brings loved ones tremendous comfort to picture their departed loved ones as angels watching over us, but it’s incorrect to call them “angels”.

Raphael Angel

Let me attempt to explain.

If your familiar with the bible you will know that God alone makes angels.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

329 Who Are They

St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are,‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’”188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.

Sections 331-336 also discuss all the different areas within the New and Old Testaments where we see the Angels as messengers of God. Announcing the birth of Christ, aiding the prophets, protecting Lot, speaking to the women at the empty tomb

Can I just go on a rant here for a minute. In writing this blog, I try to use many different sources online or in books. It has been so difficult to find online Bible resources, that actually are full of the original 73 books of the Bible found in ALL Catholic Bibles. Protestant Bibles have removed the following books:

  1. What’s the difference between a “Catholic Bible” and a “Protestant Bible”?
    Catholic and Protestant Bibles both include 27 books in the New Testament. Protestant Bibles have only 39 books in the Old Testament, however, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel which are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church believes these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Source the USCCB.org)

Part of my wanting to write this blog is to spread the Truth  & Teachings of the Catholic Church. So in ALL my research I try to seek out solid, factual and available resources. In writing I sometimes use Siri to help with my spelling or questions of faith. You would be amazed with some of the answers I get. While writing this blog I have encountered several detours, bare with me while I get the Facts and just the FACTS! I’m sure this is Satan trying to trip me up and discourage me. #ReturnToHellDoNotPassGo

Sure enough I stopped and said a prayer and of course God pointed me to the correct answers. My Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible (New Revised Standard Edition), I checked the index and ta dah:

Angels

“In a special way, angels accompany Jesus and belong to Him:At the end of time, Scripture tells us. “The Son of Man is come with His angels”(Matthew 16:27)Excepting the fallen angels, every angel in the Bible is portrayed serving God and his plan.

A random sampling:

Raphael is sent to guide Tobiah (Tobit 5-14)

Gabriel announces two momentous births(Luke 1,11,-13,26-31)

Michael and his angels fight God’s enemies (Revelation 12:7)

Unnamed angels save Issac (Genesis 22:11)

Assist the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:5)

Appear to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)

Attend Jesus (Matthew 4 :11;Luke 22:43)

Unlock prison doors (Acts 12:7)”

Hosts of angels offer unceasing praise (Revelations 5:11)” -From page 515 Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible NRSV

Later after Christ’s Passion, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). After Peter had run back to tell the disciples that the tomb was empty (Hallelujah!) Mary looks into the tomb and sees two angels in dazzling (Clorox?) white and they ask her “Woman why are you weeping?” Then what Mary at first takes to be a stranger, Mary says “Sir,if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away” (can you even imagine how frantic she must be at this point?)

I couldn’t finish without touching on seraphim and cherubim, from the Websters.com

Definition of : a traditional hierarchy of angels ranked from lowest to highest into the following nine orders: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim.

We read a description of Seraphs “and one called to another and said

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (sound familiar? it’s part of the mass)

“The seraphs are some of the more exotic  angels described in the Bible.They are associated with the fire of the alter, perhaps because they reflect God’s holiness. I like to think that they burn with love for God.” -Ann Spangler Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible NRSV

Ezekiel 1

In Ezekiel you will find a most terrifying description of Cherubim, not the chubby little baby angels seen in Renaissance art to be sure.

No where the Bible are we can we find, that when we leave this mortal coil and ascend to our heavenly reward (God willing) do we or our loved ones become angels.

I understand in our grief we want to picture our dearly departed like something out of a Hollywood movie with Jimmy Stewart. We want to think of them with wings and a halo. That is just not the case.

Gods hierarchy of angels by all accounts are a terrifying sight to behold, I personally will be happy just to have my soul enter in to heaven and worship God for all eternity. No wings necessary.

Agnolo-Bronzino-Adoration-of-the-Shepherds-detail-12-

“One loving soul sets another on fire” St.Augustine

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

Calling Dr.Bombay or The Holy Spirit?

I belong to a Knitting Group, FYI not all of us knit. But we have all been meeting for more than 10 years. It used to be weekly, then bi-monthly, now we’re lucky to meet monthly.

I treasure these women’s friendships. Many are grandmas, wee range in age from 41-60+, with me smack dab at 50. Most of their daughters are only in they’re early 30’s and raising their own families, while I have a 10 & 12-year-old. So I bridge the gap.

But to me they are my peers and I respect their life experience and crafting abilities.

3 of us are practicing Catholics, 1 is a lapsed Catholic, 1 atheist, 2 are Protestant or Evangelical Christians.

Over the course of our friendships religion has come up a time or two.

One of the sticking points for one of my friends is why are priests celibate. She told me “Peter was married and Jesus still chose him”. I didn’t have an answer just that it is our tradition, that priest remain single.

Although I did mention that with the conversion of many Anglican Churches to the Catholic faith in recent years. The Vatican and the Pope have given case by case dispensations for “married” (prior to conversion) Anglican priests.

I tried to explain that a priest has a duty first and foremost to his parish and congregation.

One of my Catholic friends pointed out”If Father Tom’s mom was in the hospital don’t you think he would drop everything to see her”.

Well, yes of course but that’s not like having a spouse and children.

This discussion took place about a week ago. Meanwhile  this week I was listening to The Catholic Channel while the Catholic Guy Show show was broadcasting live from The Holy Land.

Well Lino Rulli was doing a bit about visiting Peters house (which apparently has a modern structure on top that appears to look like a space ship, but I digress). With his atheist producer Tyler they discussed the miracle performed by Jesus for Peter’s mother in law.

saint-peters-house

Are you following this fragmented story? So Mark Hart the Bible Geek (that’s really his title) quoted from scripture and this is what he mentioned,

Matthew 8:14

Jesus Heals at Peter’s House
When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand, and the fever left her and she got up and began to serve them.

Mark 1:29-34 And immediately, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered …

Luke 4:38,39 And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. …

After the miracle of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law the discussion progressed to the fact that Peter must have been widowed otherwise why didn’t his wife get up and serve the Lord? #MindBlown

As Catholics we don’t give ourselves enough credit for knowing Scripture. Unlike Evangelicals we aren’t big on Bible verse memorizing. YET The Catholic Church complied and kept sacred the Bible.

Sadly many non-Catholic Christians claim we are not “Bible Christians. But ONLY the Catholic Bible is complete with ALL 73 Books of the Bible, not the Martin Luther edited version that most Protestants read.

A great Article by Mary Elizabeth Sperry from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

This brief article lists 10 points for fruitful Scripture reading. From the above article:

  1. The Bible isn’t a book. It’s a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers’ accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey.
  1. Know what the Bible is – and what it isn’t. The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.

With all that said I want to return to the original point,  Why are priests required to be celibate? Where is that in the Bible?

For these answers and more handy reference I would recommend The One Minute Apologist-Essential Catholic replies to Over 60 Common Protestant Claims By Dave Armstrong.Link to Dave Armstrongs Book on Sophia Institute Press

In the chapter covering Celibacy in the Priesthood we are given a 2 page “answer” to the Protestant claim that priestly celibacy is NOT in the Bible. But the following biblical references reenforce The Churches primacy and authority on this subject.

Matthew Chapter 19:12

1 Corinthians Chapter 7:32-35,38

Luke Chapter 18:29-30

Matthew Chapter 19:27-29

 

For additional Bible references to this topic please also see: Mark 15:40-41, Luke 8:1-3,23:49,55, 24:10, 22, Matthew 27:55-56, 1 Corinthians 7:5

Dr Bombay

Footnote, remember back when Bewitched was on TV? Anytime they had a medical melody they would call out for Dr.Bombay and he would *POP* in from whatever activity he was doing. Well that’s the Holy Spirit for me, except He mystically sends me the “answer” to “questions’ of faith I may have been pondering.

Hence the title of this entry.

 

 

 

 

 

How I Share My Faith, Ordering A Pizza

 

So today was the first Friday of Lent and since I had blown it earlier in the day by accidentally making a grilled cheese with turkey on it. GAH! My kids had the day off from school and I just thought it was Saturday! #Loser

So I called Costco to order a cheese pizza for dinner to make up for my blow it move.

I got a chance to talk with Chuck.

I said “Hi can I pickup a “cheese” pizza at 5:15 please?”

Chuck “You can pick up a “cheese” pizza at 5:15″ I thought RATS, I should have said “May I pick up a cheese pizza”.

Then he asked for my name, so I spelled P as in Peter I.L.A.R.

Chuck asked “Does anyone ever call Pillar?”

I laughed and said “ALL the TIME!” I proceeded to tell him about all the crazy variations I’ve heard of my name over the years.

Pilar The Mar The Big Fat Peanut Bar (thanks Harry George in  1st Grade, you weasel)Rice Pilaf, Pillard (as if a mom would name her kid LARD) at this Chuck was laughing.

I said “My name isn’t some weird hippy name,my name is an old name that I only ever see in Spanish text books or its someones grandmas name” like Eunice, Mabel or Edith.

I was supposed to be a Paula, after my moms older sister.

Chuck shared with me that his last name is “Roucker” so you can imagine the grief and rhymes he heard as a kid.

I said “My maiden name is Anaya, which I recently found out is Basque and means “brother”. Well now I’m hearing all over for a little girls name and I think, Oh man your parents didn’t know what that meant did they, but it sounds pretty.”

Chuck laughed “Yeah know that’s true. parents name kids any old thing pops in their head sometimes. Then the kid grows up and realizes his name means Orange” I laughed so hard!

Me “It’s a serious business naming another human, it’s not like naming an animal”

He said “I don’t like it when people name animals with human names” I laughed.

Me “I get it though, sometimes they don’t have kids. I know a lot of Sophie’s and even a cat names “Frank” but he couldn’t be any other name”.

Chuck laughed and I could picture him shaking his head through the phone “A cat named Frank, I guess I could see that. Frank The Cat”.

We continued on talking about names and how they are important. I said my daughters are Isabella and Sophia which my husband thought were too old-fashioned and now everyone has those names. I can’t win for losing. Chuck was laughing.

I changed the subject.

I said “You might want to be prepared for a lot of cheese pizzas for the Fridays leading up to Easter” He asked why.

Me “Well Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent leading to Easter, only fish”

Chuck “Only fish?, Hun at my church we’re fasting for the full 40 days and no meat at all”

I said “Oh man! That would be so hard! No fish, hun? Before I was Catholic I never understood why Wendy’s and McDonald’s would have “fish sandwiches” only certain times of the year. Now I know!” LOL

I said “My youngest is complaining about NO pepperoni but she complains when we have to go to Church on Sunday, because during the week (they go to Catholic School) the whole school goes to mass on Tuesdays”.

Chuck said “I can see that.” I said”But Tuesday is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation, Sunday is or Saturday night at 5 o’clock mass.

Chuck “A Holy Day of Obligation, that sounds SERIOUS” Dude it is!

See I tell her “God, gives you EVERYTHING, the least you could do is give him an hour a week”

Chuck said” ONLY an HOUR!? At my church one song could take an hour!” YIKES!

I laughed and said “Well we’ve had 2,000 years to get it down to just an hour. That and the readings from the Bible are printed up in the Missal a year ahead (don’t quote me on this). I’ve heard that if you attend mass everyday for 3 years, you will hear the ENTIRE Bible!”  Missal

Chuck “A year ahead?” he seemed amazed that it was planned out.

I said “Yeah so every weekend we all read the same scripture reading everywhere. It’s so cool, so every Catholic ALL over the WORLD is reading the exact same reading but in their own language! Like in China and Vietnam all of us are on the same page!”

Chuck was amazed. He said “I feel like I know you! You made my day” at which I laughed.

I said “Thanks! I’ve never met a stranger in person or on the phone!”

He said “You be sure to say Hi when you come in. You ask for Chuck in case I’m in the back”

I said “I will, I promise”.

So I picked up the kids, we ran into Costco and sure enough there was Chuck in the kitchen of the snack bar. He was looking out at the line expectantly and I gave him a big wave and yelled “Hi CHUCK!” His face broke out in a HUGE smile and he yelled “Hi PILAR!”

Chuck asked”Are those Isabella and Sophia?” and I said “Yep” and pushed them forward (we were in line) so he could see them. I said”Wave to Mr.Chuck”, they seemed surprised I knew him, but no too much.

Then I saw Tenille (Like the Captain and Tenille) and asked her how her new baby was, she said he was fine and how sweet that I remembered. Chuck said “Wait did you just order a chicken bake?!” I was laughing “I said NO, I was asking Tenille about her new baby!One day she is magically 8 1/2 months pregnant, meanwhile I’m in here all the time and never noticed!”

Tenille laughed and said”Yeah some people around here care Chuck!”

Chuck laughed too.

You see my kids, husband and friends are used to me striking up conversations with complete strangers who share their stories with me wherever we go.Sometimes these folks just pour their hearts put to me in the middle of a store aisle. Sometimes I offer to pray for them, other times, I just listen, while the kids fidget and look all around. I’ve told them God puts me where he needs me and you never know maybe that was God and he was testing me to see if I would help and do the right thing? You never know.

When I hung up I checked my phone to see how long Chuck and I chatted, 9 minutes.

In 9 minutes I shared my faith, my name and how the Church is universal and we read the Bible. Some faiths think we don’t read it, so I need dispel that MYTH. But also I want to share how beautiful and old my faith is.

pizza-cat

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

Ashes to Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday and I started a post about what it means and why we observe it as Catholics. But instead I want to share with you something more important.

Last night I received an email from our school principal informing me (and the entire school) that a student in my daughters class had lost his mother last night.

This little boy is one of the sweetest kids in the 6th grade, but I didn’t know his mom Kelly very well. But this doesn’t change the fact that my heart hurts for this little boy and his family.

During the mass today the family and Kelly were mentioned during the petitions of the mass, where we ask God to hear our prayers. I couldn’t help but cry and be afraid, this could have been anyone one of us.

Any one of us parents could be gone tomorrow and what would happen to our children and the HOLE that our death would leave in their lives?

As the deacon talked about the ashes we were about to receive and that we should ALL of us be reminded that we will return to ashes, from whence we came. I cried thinking one day this will be me too.

I am bewildered that in such a small faith community that we weren’t already offering up prayers for Kelly. I realize that her illness may have been sudden or a private battle the family was keeping to themselves. But I can’t help but feel that I let her down.

I let her down first by not praying for her, for her family or for her children. I let her down by not bringing a meal or organizing a Meal Train.

I have been the recipient of so many Meal Trains after various surgery’s that I have lost track. So I am always eager to return the favor, organize and make a meal to pay it forward and say thank you.

I am praying for Kelly now and the repose of her soul, but also for her young son , her grown children and husband. For all the friends of this little boy in my daughters class who are processing how this could happen to someones mom so quickly.

graveside-service-main_0

You see we have a very small Catholic School and as Catholics we pray for you no matter what! We pray for you when you need a job, when your grandpa dies, when you’re sick, when your marriage is in trouble, when your kid is struggling to behave, when you ask, we PRAY!

That’s what Catholics do! Prayer touches every single facet of our lives, even before a sporting event we pray for the athletes and their safety and that they would seek the ultimate goal to be with Jesus in the world to come.

We don’t need to know you personally to include you in our daily prayers. We just hear the call and the WARRIORS assemble and heed the call. We send up our SOS to God, Mary the Mother of Jesus and all the Saints we can invoke, remembering their special patronage.

Over Christmas break we went ice skating, I saw a man skating with a helmet on and thought he was a skate guard. He was that skilled and talented. Come to find out he is a parish member and he went on to explain that the reason he was wearing the helmet was because he had a horrific brain injury while stopping to help another motorist remove a downed tree, from the road way. Well the tree snapped back in a freak accident, hitting him so hard in the head he had a traumatic brain injury.

All of the sudden I said ” OH MY GOSH! I KNOW YOU! I prayed for you! You’re friends with the Taylors!” He smiled and said “Yes! I owe my recovery to all the prayers from my parish in Michigan and here from the St.Charles Parish”

For me he was like meeting a celebrity in a strange kind of way. Many times I pray for strangers that I know I will never meet yet I wish for all God’s blessing for them and their families. Here was one of these strangers, walking and talking after a traumatic brain injury nearly took his life! I was over come with Gods mercy and the power of all the prayer warriors I joined.

When my husband was 16 years old his father went into to the hospital to have a brain tumor removed (mid 1960’s) before he left he told my husband Chris, “You’re the man of the house and you’re in charge until I get back” at NO TIME did his mother tell him or his siblings how perilous this surgery was.

His parents decided together to shield the kids from any undue worry. His father didn’t survive the surgery, he died and left Chris and his family shattered.

Many families grow closer after a tragedy like this but some splinter apart into a million shards. This tragically is what happened to my husband and his 3 siblings. Even today at 62 years old they are not close.

My husband is still angry and hurt that his parents didn’t tell him the truth so maybe he would have been more prepared or he could have told his dad how much he loved him and would miss him if he died.

Sudden deaths rob us of the chance to tell people what they meant to us or a chance to say goodbye and I love you one last time.

For the families of slain police officers or fire fighters, this is a constant fear at the back of their minds. But in order to function the family member has to believe that their officer or fire fighter is coming home at the end of every shift no matter what. Otherwise how could you function? The same holds for service members deployed in harm’s way or killed in minor training accidents state side.

I know first hand because my mother is a retired Los Angels Police Officer. As a teenager raising my younger brother, this is how I coped. I pushed that fear down deep and acted like everything would be ok.

When I shared this news with my husband last night his first response was ” I think our school is cursed”

Let me explain, in the 7 years that we have been there,

  • The toddler age son of our 3rd grade teacher died of heart complications.
  • The not even 50-year-old husband of one our first grade teachers, died of a massive heart attack.
  • The close friend of our 5th grade teacher, was killed in a car accident.
  • Parents of staff, have passed away.
  • Cousins of students were killed in an automobile accident that left only one surviving sibling out of 3 very young children.
  • A mom was nearly killed when her van over turned in a one car accident.
  • One teen broke his neck in a surfing accident and is paralyzed from the waist down.
  • A father of a young family was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and died 3 months later, leaving his wife and young children behind.
  • My dear friend suffered a still birth at the almost 8 months.
  • A 2nd grade teacher developed and beat breast cancer.

All of these terrible things are just part of life. This is not a curse, it’s just LIFE!

But we grieve and pray together as family in this little faith community. We don’t hold back when we ask for prayers.

Maybe this is why Kelly’s death is such a shock to all of us. Never, not once were the kids asked to pray for her in class. I realize that the family may have wanted privacy or they may not have realized how very ill she was.

But I think I speak for all the families in expressing our grief, sorrow, shock and condolences at this awful time.

As a mom I have to wonder if she felt robbed of all the amazing memories she will miss with her youngest child, all the hugs, kisses and I love you’s he will miss from her. All the accomplishments he will achieve as he grows into a young man.

Not one of us could ever replace his mom, but I pray he knows one day that he is surrounded with love and families that are praying for him and want to see him reach his full potential through Christ Jesus.

So please if you will pray for Kelly’s family and her children as they struggle through this unimaginable grief.

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

graveside-serivce-etiquette-angel-main

 

 

 

I Wish I Could Freeze Time or Shrink My Family Into a SnowGlobe!

Because my girls are so close in age much of their toddler-hood is a blur to my husband and I.

If you have children or nieces and nephews you should understand.

But tonight around the table and on our frequent travels here and there, these little people share their inner most thoughts and stories with me. Always I am startled by the depth of the things they understand and are able to convey.

My youngest daughter is the spaz in our family, like me as a kid, she gets more wild and loud as she gets excited.

I TOTALLY get it!

I am still LOUD and OVERPOWERING in most social situations. But she is also very kind, tender and forgiving.

Above all she is forgiving, if we have had a tough day and I’ve yelled all day or she got in trouble and used her “weekly do-over” then, I try to ALWAYS apologize to her before she goes to sleep. It’s a tough thing to humble yourself to your own children and say “I’m sorry Mommy should not have yelled at you or I lost my temper and that was not a good example, I am sorry.”

But she never fails to say “I forgive you Mommy, it’s ok” and when she says it I know that she means it with her whole heart, which makes me feel even worse. But I get a glimpse of how God must see us, He forgives us no matter how awful our sin or transgression, because he LOVES us so much.

This humbles me to my core and I am awed with the great task of raising these little people.

My older daughter is the practical child, the one that pushes herself to always improve at school, sports, reading, etc. But she too is also kind, tender and responsible. She is always helping me with lists, reminding me where we need to be, who I am supposed to call, etc. She is like my little personal assistant.

She is also many times the keeper of the memories, in the blur of changing diapers and sleepless nights I forgot many little moments and she keeps them tucked away for us to reminisce about.

Like the time the lights through the “forest” behind our house scared her one night (they were street lights to another neighborhood, not the aliens she feared they were).

But because she was afraid and never really had trouble sleeping I took her for a late night milkshake and to show her the street lights that were worrying her. She may have been 3 1/2 and she still remembers this special field trip with me late at night.

My oldest is going through that strange phase where kids are breaking off and into subgroups. It’s so hard to just tell her NONE of this will matter in 20 years, I promise. I just want her to be kind and stand up for herself and others.

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Sometimes my husband says I “tell” them too much. For example if I hear of some recent terror attack or shooting I know they will be praying at school for these victims most likely. I want to try explain why sometimes these things happen.

I’ve told them to NEVER forget that ALL good things come from God. Every single good and wonderful thing comes from the Lord and if you believe in God you have to believe in the devil. Every evil wicked thing comes from Satan.

Once we were listening to a Miranda Lambert song and the lyrics said “she’s been sleeping in the devils bed” my youngest asked “Mommy does the devil sleep?” I had to answer her truthfully and tell her “No sweetie, he never sleeps he just prowls the earth looking for ways to trip us up” At the time she wasn’t old enough to understand the concepts of sin.

This past Christmas Eve we made a nice dinner and tracked Santa on the computer. Isabella had a fever so we didn’t get a chance to go to Christmas Eve mass.

At dinner I asked my family to name one thing that they were grateful for.

Right away Sophia (10) said

“Can it be more than one thing?”

Me

“Of course!”

Sophia wanted to go first so she said

“I am grateful for my faith and my family”

To which her sister said

“HEY I was gonna say that!”

This wasn’t about her not being able to come up with her own comment, it was just something she wanted to say as her own, too.

These are the times when I know I am doing something right. Or when I sit with my children in Church, I know in the most instinctive way that this is THE best and most important thing I may be doing all week!

As a parent I think we all second guess our daily choices.

Raising kids is NOT for the faint of heart. It is a serious undertaking full of pitfalls, perils and life long ramifications.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Sometime last year (5th grade) Isabella was told by a classmate that there was NO Santa. She came to me and asked I told her as long as she believed she would still receive.

I could tell that she so sad, that magic was snatched away before she was ready. She asked if the Elf’s On The Shelf, were real?

Have you seen these, little Scout Elves, that report back to  Santa every night about children’s behavior leading up to Christmas Eve. Meanwhile parents have to think of places to hide/pose or make shenanigans with these elves every night Dec 1st till Christmas Eve when they return to the North Pole till next year.

Somehow I thought this would be a great idea to have TWO, one for each girls.

WRONG, this just increased my stress each night as I was just falling off to sleep I would panic because I had forgotten to move the ELVES! A few times this season, my husband moved them and then we both forgot where we hid them.

So this year Isabella (11) told me “Mom there is NO Way those Elves are real.”

WHAT!? That was the last shred of magic I had left up my sleeve.

I explained to her, that this was something that MOST parents do for their children and pass along this tradition. To keep a small glimmer of magic in childhood.

So now that she knew she could help with all the “behind the scenes” “magic” that I had been doing alone every year.

So she helped with stocking stuffers, wrapping, shopping for gifts from “Santa” and best of all MOVING the elves and staging them each night I was too tired to. I think this was her favorite part.

But mostly she got a glimpse into all the little things that I had been doing every year to make Christmas special for she and her sister.

As my girls have gotten older they realize more each year how the “holidays” that we celebrate in Church are more about Jesus and his birth or resurrection then about Santa or the Easter bunny.

So this last Christmas I realized like at other stages in their lives so far that I just want to STOP time and keep my little family like this forever.

This is a bitter-sweet time, I will miss keeping the Santa magic going (I may have one more year with Sophia) but it’s been a wonderful time in being their mama.

So to all those moms and dads struggling through the terrible two’s or a first-born, cherish it! In your sleep deprived mind, remember these little firsts.

It will fly by in the blink of an eye and I know you don’t believe me because you’re just SO tired, but take it from this mama “You’re Gonna Miss This” (by Trace Adkins) pretty much sums it up.

You’re gonna wish for a time machine that could take you back to those sweet days or speed you past the sassy mouth teen years. Or a snow globe to shrink your family just the way it is RIGHT Now.

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

Snow Globe

 

 

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“Sometimes” The Holy Spirit Bosses Me Around

If you know me in person you know that I am a SPAZ who appears to have 2 speeds Hyper or Asleep. With this said I also have a hard time staying on track when I tell a story (so many squirrels dancing in my head trying to get their ideas out FAST) is all I can compare it to.

With this disclaimer I want to tell you about the times that the Holy Spirit bossed me around and continues to. Even in my rattled brain I am listening and do what I’m urged (because it’s not a voice per se, but more nudge or a feeling).

Usually it seems to be reaching out via a phone call to people I haven’t seen in a long time and giving them a very specific message. Often times I don’t remember what the message was after I’ve passed it along, but I know that the person who received it was helped and that’s all I needed to d, was deliver the message at that moment.

For example, an old high school friend found out her mother was dying from cancer, she was worried about taking time off from work to see her mom. I said

“Go and see your Mom NOW, she is NOT getting better. No matter what she’s telling you. Who cares about this job, you can get another one. Your Mom is the most important thing!”

It was so hard to tell her this but I knew her mom was trying to shelter her, but I also knew that if I didn’t speak bluntly she would miss that last farewell and forever berate herself for letting her “job” keep her from seeing her Mom.

Sadly her beautiful Mom did pass away within a few months, I wanted to wrong in the worst way.

Another friend I called out of the blue, mentioned that his father whom he was long estranged from was dying, but had told him I never want to see you again. I said

“You should go and make your peace no matter what he says. It will be your last chance and you will never regret saying good-bye”.

A week later he called and thanked me for my random advice (I totally forgot we had spoken until he reminded me). He said a check arrived in the mail that day with just the right amount to fill his tank to make the round trip to say good-bye. With my random call he knew that God wanted him to make the trip and make his peace.

Another friend, popped in my head because I wanted to discuss an idea for this blog.

She shared that she had been going through a terrible time in her personal life, marriage and work. She mentioned that long forgotten childhood abuse had been recently stirred up and was causing just HORRIFIC nightmares.

All of this was news to me, because none of this trouble appeared to be happening according to Facebook. Also this friend has an amazing faith that is a beacon for others.

So when I heard all these terrible things were bringing her world into crashing disarray, I knew that the Holy Spirit was telling me to explain to her that she was under spiritual attack and that Satan was waging war against her.

At the risk of sounding completely INSANE! But what else could it be, any person of faith could see it plain as day.

I sent her a prayer for the Archangel Michael to protect her in battle and promised to pray for her.

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All weekend I rebuked the devil and told him to stay away from her. I petitioned the Archangel Michael to protect her in this battle and left the rest up to God.

By Tuesday everything seemed to have settled down and the prayers are working to turn things around.

I told her I didn’t really understand or mean to call initially but I knew straight off that it was the Holy Spirit, bossing me again.

A few years ago, I had to run and grab a dessert for the end of year picnic at school. The fastest route would take me past the local abortion clinic which I try to avoid at ALL costs.

I had the strangest feeling that God was thumping me on the head and saying “You have to go there today, RIGHT NOW. I will NOT take NO for an answer”.

Like Jonah in the Bible I was trying to do anything to avoid preaching in Nineveh(at the Abortion Clinic)

If you’re not familiar God tells Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh to REPENT or all will be LOST! Jonah jumps on a boat to get away from this task. He is flung overboard in a storm and  he gets eaten by a whale, but God saves him (after spending 3 days in a whales stomach, GROSS) he gets the message out and the people of Nineveh listen and are SAVED! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!(Not surprised)

So with my young daughter who was 5 at the time, I parked and approached the Pro-Life ladies. One in particular I know on sight because she is out there nearly every single day.

Rain, Snow, Heat or Cold.This woman is a Warrior for the Unborn.

I often stop and give her a few dollars when I can to help with her gas and expenses because she’s in the trenches and I’m avoiding this fight in person.

On this day, only one single pro-choice/Abortion protestor was out counter protesting this group of Pro-Life grandma’s.

I CAN NOT tell how much I did NOT want to speak to this woman. I mean I would rather have taken a BEATING then approach this stranger with what I was about to tell her.

So I walked up to her and asked quietly if I could have a minute of her time. She looked at me suspiciously but acquiesced when she looked at my little girl.

I mean how vicious or crazy could I be with this precious girl at my side.

I held out my phone and said

“This is a photo of my baby Mia Paloma who I miscarried at 13 weeks. She had a little dimple in her chin just like her sister here. Because of my age I can’t seem to get pregnant again, so this was my last chance”

I can’t remember exactly what she said, it was something like “I’m sorry”.

I thanked her for her time and walked away, shaking and holding back my tears.

My daughter Sophia had already asked me what was wrong with all those babies in the pictures and told her a half truth that they had a terrible accident.

As we walked back to the car, the Pro-Life ladies stopped me asked what I had said. I retold my brief encounter and added “If I can just change one heart, my baby’s death will not have been in vain”

You see, that was the only way I could live through that miscarriage. I had to believe with all my heart that her life had purpose and that God was and would use me as He saw fit to take up this cause.

I share my story often because it’s such a taboo, no one tells you when you lose a baby that you can deliver it, receive a death certificate ( just ask for one) and have a Christian burial.

We were guided gently by our doctor,nurse’s and then by our amazing priest Father Tom.

Every time I think I can’t share this story, it’s too painful, or it’s to embarrassing I realize that God is always with me and He always gives me the strength to endure.

I continue to pray for God to use me as He choses and to always let me share my faith and story with LOVE. He takes care of the rest with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Praying for an End to Abortion,

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

The Archangel Michael