Sunday, September 14, 2014

Growing in the Lord

I've been meaning to work on this blog for sometime now.   OK since Spring if you must know.   That's pretty obvious if you look at the photos I have included.  
Every spring I am amazed at how God takes our dark, dry (usually) earth and turns it, in what seems like overnight, a lush carpet of green and other colors.   Every year it fascinates me more and more.   This year it had a little help in that I tried to control some of the green by planting a garden.   I had some help, I don't know that it would have all gotten done if I didn't. But it was tilled and seeded and I waited for the green while my mouth watered thinking of the wonderful flavorful produce it would provide.
I tried to control the weeds, and did a fairly good job at first, and was in awe of the changes I kept seeing every time I went out there.   The most impressive part was just how hard some of the seeds had to work to become the fruitful plants I ended up with.  Some of those poor little plants had to move mountains to get to the point of producing fruit.  
They worked so hard but you know what? The plants that had the hardest time breaking through the ground were the strongest most productive plants out there.  
The ones that just popped up and grew with no mountains in their way were not as strong or productive.  
This reminded me a lot of my life.   I struggled through many phases growing up.   I wasn't the most popular person in the world.   At the time it in really struggled with who I was and who I was meant to be.   Often times I let that get in the way of really enjoying life.   Oh not many people knew of this struggle, I did a good job of keeping the weight of it to myself.  
But now I see that struggle helped shape me into the person I am today.   I'm stronger, wiser and I hope more fruitful because of it.  
Just like the plants struggling to break through the ground I had to have a mountain in my way so that I could come out better on the other side.
Did I do this struggle alone? Sometimes it felt like it.   I know now, more than I did then, that my parents always had my back.   They gave me the proverbial food, water and just enough space for me to learn what I needed each step of the way.   I may have pushed them aside and said I didn't need them. But just like a master gardener they knew when to "leave it alone"  so it could make me stronger.
The other thing I had on my side was a strong faith, a seed planted by those master gardeners too, that everything would be OK and God was there all the time.   I knew that when the burden was getting too heavy I could turn to God and ask for help.   Now my plants in the garden can't ask me for help but I can see and remove things that are in their way.  (weeds,  rocks, and other obstacles.) God will do the same thing, if he sees fit.   I read something just before I wrote this that made that even clearer.  
"the judge ignored her for awhile, but eventually she got in his nerves. "I fear neither God nor man," he said to himself, "but this woman bothers me.   I'm going to see she gets justice, for she is wearing me out with her constant coming!"   Luke 18:4-5  Christ told this story so you would understand the need to pray and never give up.   However, remember a "No" is also an answer to prayer." from God Knows Best About Stress by Fun Nun Sister Mary Christelle Macaluso,  RSM, OFN, PhD
So even when the Master Gardener doesn't remove the big old clump of dirt out of my way He is still answering my prayer.  He has a better plan than I do and I need to trust in it. This is so hard at times, but necessary to become stronger and wiser and more fruitful for His world.
A beautifully weeded garden.  Hard to believe it is mine.
Working hard at growing.


A potato plant moving a mountain.

The potato plant after moving the mountain.








Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Prayer or Blessing Against Storms



With the news warning our area of some major storms coming our way I thought I would share a prayer for protection against storms that a good friend (MP) shared with me a few years ago.  It has given me comfort during some pretty bad storms since she shared it, and if you know me you know I need it when the weather gets bad.  (This one comes from The Pieta Prayer Book

Now before I go on to the prayer, if you have any outstanding prayers please feel free to share.  I especially love praying prayers that others have had positive experiences with.

Please use the prayers anyway you wish.  Take it or leave it.  Or if you have one you like better share it and I will add it to this blog so others can chose.  

I prayer for your safety and peace.  God bless.



The Prayer or Blessing Against Storms
Jesus Christ, a King of Glory, has come in peace.  God became man, and the Word was made flesh.  Christ was born of a virgin.  Christ suffered.  Christ was crucified.  Christ died.  Christ rose fromt he dead.  Christ ascended into heaven.  Christ conquers.  Christ reigns.  Christ orders.  May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning.  Christ went through their midst in peacde and the word was made flesh.  Christ is with us with Mary.  Flee, you enemy spirits, because the Lion of the Generation of Juda, the Root of David, has won.  Holy God!  Holy Powerful God!  Holy Immortal God!  Have mercy on us.  Amen!  
(This prayer originated in a convent and church in Lisbon, Portugal.  Pope Innocent III, 1198-1216, ordered it published.)


Monday, March 24, 2014

Taking Time to Remember Grandma Dvorak

This showed  up in my Facebook, it really made me think of my Grandma Dvorak.  It's one of those God things since it showed up around the anniversary of her birthday in heaven.  The only reason I remember that it is close to the end of March is.... she wanted to die in March and it wasn't happening and she was starting to get upset.  LOL  OK let me explain that one.  Grandma was a VERY devout Catholic, I don't think she went anywhere without a rosary in her pocket or somewhere near by.  She loved St. Joseph the foster father of Jesus and as Catholics we dedicate the month of March to St. Joseph.  She wanted to die in the month of St. Joseph.  I just love that God granted her final wish and took her home in the month she so desired.

Grandma taught me so much.  She was a classroom teacher but also a silent teacher.  She was the teacher that wanted you to learn something but she wouldn't tell you what you had to figure it out and she rejoiced with you when you did.  She often said you needed to learn one new thing every day before you went to bed.

She taught me to love my heritage.  She was proud of where she came from.  In fact my Dad will tell you he only started speaking English when it was time for him to start school.  They spoke Czech in the house while he was growing up.  She taught me how to polka, waltz and sing songs in Czech.  She even gave me start on stage by giving me a solo, a couple of them.  She taught me a song to The Blessed Virgin Mary and we would go to churches in the area and sing it for special occasions.  The last time I sang it was at her funeral.  (I really think she would be disappointed with me on that one.  I better find it and find somewhere to do it again.)
She taught me how to really love your spouse.  (Silent teaching at it's best.)  Grandpa had health problems for as long as I can remember.  He was mobile and helping Dad on the farm in one memory and the next he was in a wheelchair.  Grandma took care of him all the time.  OK there was a short, and I mean short, stay at the nursing home, but he didn't like it there and she brought him back home and took care of him until he died.  That is true love.  On days that I am struggling with my relationship I just think of the love and laughter they shared and I can carry on.

She taught me how to be a good teacher.  I struggled with school for a time and she would help me work on things during the summer.  We didn't hit it hard but we worked on things for maybe one week during the summer.  The fun ways she found for me to learn only inspired me to find the same fun things for the students in my care.  Also at her wake and funeral I lost count of the people who said, "She was the best teacher."  Not many families who's loved one lives past 90 can say there was a FULL church at their funeral. I CAN!!!  Oh and she taught me chocolate helps boost your brain power.  Yeah we studied with M&M's or some kind of chocolate near by.  No wonder so many people liked her. 

She taught me how to laugh at life and not take things too seriously, unless you have to.  With Grandpa's illness she could have been so negative, but not her!  If something happened, like Grandpa spilling his chew can, she would find a way to laugh about it.  She always had a smile on her face.  I don't remember he being sad.  I know she probably was, but she didn't let it become our burden, it was hers alone.  Man, I miss that smile and laugh.  My uncle laughs that she got the last laugh when she passed away.  The day/night of her wake was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.  That night we sang "On Eagle's Wings", a song she did not want at her funeral (but it was her wake).  The next morning was cold and dreary.  My uncle says she told God to "punish us" with the cold weather for singing that song.  LOL

This is her at our wedding.

Here she is holding two of her Great-Grand babies Reid and Christopher.
The last thing she taught me was how to love God more than anything.  Like I said she had a rosary near by all the time.  She would find God's hand in ANYTHING that happened to her.  She taught me to believe God will take care of everything and ask the Saints for help when you don't know where else to turn.  She taught me which Saints, especially her favorite, would help you and when.  I was even blessed to be baptized on her birthday.  When I started college she even sent me a prayer to help me get through tests.  It was a great help.  

I was so sad when she passed away.  I was 7 months pregnant with Breanna and knew she was a girl.  Grandma was so excited for me. I really couldn't wait for them to meet each other.   I feel like she was meant to help me with Breanna from heaven.  I needed another advocate at the feet of God to help with the trials that are Breanna.  What is really funny is Breanna just came in the room and looked over my shoulder as I was cropping one of these pictures looked at it and laughed her laugh of recognition.  I think she knows who Great-Grandma is and probably sees her often.  Lucky girl.

Long story short.  I've been thinking about her a lot and the post on Facebook was just so timely I had to share.  I am so blessed to have had Grandma as my guide through life and into the next.  I miss her greatly and can't wait to see her again.  If she didn't make it to Heaven I don't stand a chance!



Not a colored photo, but I bet the shirt had purple in it.




Thursday, October 3, 2013

Interesting Trip

Well after, what we figure to be, nearly 4 years it was time to make a trip to Minnesota for a new brace for Breanna. This has to be our most interesting trip so far.   We went to church at home and after two weeks of not going to church for Breanna she did fairly well.   (the rest of the family went to Mass the two weeks, it just worked better for her to stay home and to divide and conquer those weeks). We stopped and ate dinner in Sioux City.   After a fairly calm meal we hit the interstate.   In the first few miles we saw a lot of pickups pulling flatbed trailers.   Of course the big question was, I wonder if they are going home empty handed from the historical car auction in Pierce,  NE the day before.  Then we saw the one pictured and the captions flew.   I just hope they have the proper paperwork for the heavy haul. I do like the fact that they think they will be able to move snow with such small equipment. 






A few hours later we found ourselves about 30 minutes from the hotel.   Suddenly the interstate turned into a two lane and found ourselves at a complete stop and in a HUGE line of vehicles.   Tom was worried that our favorite heavy hauler had crashed.   Soon a tow truck came by on the shoulder of the road.   Needless to say that sitting still in the van, when not watching a football game, a little lady was VERY antsy.  Since we were sitting still in the van Tom put it in park.  There is a child safety lock for the sliding doors on the van which was locked.  She came up (she won't keep her seat belt on) and kissed mom and dad.  Somewhere during that she turned off the child lock.  She then sat down and pushed the button to open her door.  Remember we are sitting on the interstate.  Dad and I panicked and managed to get the door closed while Reid held her so she would not jump out.  I'm ready for a new vehicle where the child locks are hidden.    Finally we were able to move and never did see what was really happening ahead. What should have to us 30 minutes took nearly 2 hours.  I do think our guardian angels were at work that night.  We had stopped before the delay and got supper.  Tom decided to park the van and eat instead of driving and eating.  I believe that decision helped us to avoid being the cause of the stop on the interstate.  Thank you angels for protecting us.

OK after we finally got to the hotel we are all tired and just want to get to the room and move around and maybe even get to sleep.  I go into the hotel and get the room key/card.  The whole family followed me in since they needed to use the restroom.  We go up to the room and on the one wall is a huge, how can you miss it, black smear of something.  Maybe mud, but Tom was more worried it may be blood.  Anyway, the boys leave to get our things while Breanna and I check out the rest of the room.  While Tom was down at the desk he stopped and told them what we found in the room.  They said it had been Homecoming that weekend and the opposing team's fans (Iowa State I believe they said, not to name names) had not been real nice.  They would move is and put the room on the list to be cleaned/fixed.  We were happy to be moved.  We unloaded and went to bed.  

The next morning I went to unpack my bag, we each pack our own duffle bag and mine is washable so all the dirty clothes go in it coming home.  I opened a drawer and this is what I found.



I immediately broke into laughter and my family thought I had officially lost it.  We all had a good laugh (but it does make me question unpacking my things into hotel drawers again) and left for the day.  I took the photo and then showed it to the gentleman working the front desk.  He laughed with us again.  His comment, " I know this sounds bad, but that's impressive.  I will make sure housekeeping takes care of it."  It was gone by the time we came back, but the photo will forever live on.  I just hope Reid doesn't think he needs to top that on any trips he takes.

One thing we did figure out was, we were somewhere on the Minnesota State campus.  Here's a photo of the stadium from the front of the hotel.



We drove and walked around there and we couldn't tell you where the campus began or ended.  We did notice though that the students we saw were all very nicely dressed.  I did not see any different colored hair or any goth-like dress.  I was very impressed.  

The best part was this hotel was maybe 8 blocks away from the hospital.  Kind of missed the pool, but it was good to be together as a family.  We were there for two more days, but I will save that for later, not as exciting though sorry,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Penny For My Thoughts



Maybe I should start out saying that this post is not free....It cost you a penny.  OK so it cost you a click, that's about all it will be worth anyway.  :)

I have always bent over to pick up a penny or any coin I see on the ground.  But since I read the poem Pennies From Heaven I look at that simple process different.  (If you are not familiar with the poem click here.)

One day, last year, a student came in from recess with a penny they had found on the playground.  I started telling them the story and then looked it up on line.  There I found the  website I shared above and along with it came the short story that inspired the poem.  

Since researching this story further I have really taken note of the pennies I have found.  One that particularly stands out is on I found in my van when I opened one of the sliding back doors to let my daughter out after a really bad day in church and there was one in the middle of the door.  Before this I was standing outside church with her, both of us in tears, and me crying out (silently) that God would send some strength and help.  I have lost so many really close, loving people in my life that I know I have many Saints watching over me. (I will explain why I call them Saints another time.) That penny, to me, was an answer to my prayer.  I just needed that small reminder that I NEVER am alone.  

I have also noticed even more of a drive to walk away from some of the pennies I find on the ground.  It's as if someone is telling me, "That is not meant for you."  I know I'm strange that way, but that is how I feel sometimes.  

Sometimes I even leave it lay hoping that it will help make someone else's day.

Most importantly, anytime I find one I make sure to say a quick thank you to who ever may have sent me that penny.  But most importantly it always, always puts a smile on my face.

Now do I feel that this is strange, yeah sometimes.  But I think we all need to believe in something, even if it is a bit strange.  Football players and even whole teams have things they do because it helps them get through the game.  I say if what helps you get through doesn't get in the way of living life, go for it.  Let's face it picking up pennies doesn't inter fer with anything, unless you are power walking then it better be a dime so you can turn on it.  :)  But all kidding aside, I don't just look for the physical pennies to help me get through trying times, there are other pennies that appear as well.  I know as long as I believe and look with the eyes of faith the pennies will fall where and how they will.  It is my job to watch for them and not just step over them.  After all the saying is "God will provide" and boy does He!!




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ironic

  

After a very eventful trip to Walmart the other night I did a lot of reflecting.  I'm going to share three of the awful experiences I've had having a daughter with a handicap.  I want you to see if you notice what I noticed.  (Don't worry I will share my reflections at the end.)

     The first one that comes to mind is.  About 4 years ago already I grabbed Breanna from daycare and went to Yankton to do my weekly grocery shopping.  It had been a long day in the classroom and she had had long day as well.  Along with something I figured out on another trip, but that doesn't weigh into the story.  I was trying to get through Walmart as fast as I could and Breanna was having a fit, screaming about something in the cart.  I was pushing her through the store getting stressed myself and her screams were getting louder and louder.  Suddenly a woman on one of the store's electric carts, wheels over looks Breanna in the eyes and says, "What the he## is  your problem."  In an action that would make my Mother proud, I pushed Breanna away from the lady and didn't say anything.  (If you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all.)

     The second incident I want to share with you actually happened at McDonald's.  Tom, Breanna and I were in McDonald's trying to get her through a meal IN the store rather than our van.  She was doing really well and the store was full of elderly men and women.  When Breanna finished she started signing "all done" and the screaming soon followed when we didn't leave fast enough.  Tom and I were trying to eat as fast as we could and get Breanna out of the store.  These two elderly women started whispering and looking at us.  It didn't take me long to realize they were talking about us.  Soon their comments got louder so I could hear them.  By now I had gotten my back bone and looked at them and calmly explained she has Autism and this is her way of telling us she is finished and we need to leave.  We then finished our meals and left.

     The last incident happened just this week.  Once again we were in Walmart, our home away from home, and it had been a long day for everyone again.  Breanna was once again upset, still haven't figured out why, and screamed through the store.  (Let me explain that I have finally led myself to believe that it is a BIG store so her screaming only bothers a few people close to us.  LOL)  I went to check out and she LOVES putting her hands on the belt that carries our items to the cashier.  This cashier was a gentleman who was sitting on a chair as he rang us up.  He was finished totaling my bill and shut the belt off.  Breanna has watched how this is done enough that she knows how to turn it on herself.  Most cashiers will just leave it on and finish with us then go on.  Not this gentleman, he turned it off.  She turned it on.  He turned it off and glared at her.  She turned it on and smiled.  He turned it off and I thought he was going to slap her hand, but he didn't.  I told her to sit down in her chair and wait for mom to finish, which she politely did.

     Have you figured out what is alike in all these stories?  Upon reflection I realized that all those who showed disgust at Breanna were themselves handicapped.  Ironic isn't it?  You would think that the people who suffer hardships themselves would be the most compassionate, most understanding, most patient.  I'm not finding that to be the case.  I'm not an expert at reading people, but can't help but wonder if there is some anger within them because of their own disability that they don't feel sympathy toward others with problems.  (Does that make sense?)  I've even seen teachers who have handicapped children be the least compassionate to handicapped students.  I can't put my finger on why, and hope that I'm not one of those people.  I pray that my experiences with Breanna have softened me to be the compassionate, loving, patient person that I would hope others with my experience would be.  It frustrating enough to not be able to finish things in public due to melt downs, I really hate having to worry about what others are thinking.  It can get one down if you let it.  It's just crazy.

     I just had to share what I've noticed.  I pray the whole world won't be like this to my family, especially my children.  I pray that Breanna and Reid will grow up to be more understanding and patient with others.  I pray that some how these three people will find a softening in their heart to be more understanding, more compassionate, more gentle.  God be with all of them and all of you.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fairness

     I know interesting topic.  I will see if I can do it justice.  We have all had a little one at some time tell us, "That's not fair".  One of my students told me her dad always said, "You get what you git and you don't throw a fit."  Easier said than done.
     When I took my Special Education classes the instructor told us, on more than one occasion, that if someone says "that's not fair" we are to remind them that we all get what we need to succeed.  Some of us need crutches, some need glasses and some need more drastic things like wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. I know if I HAD to use a wheelchair, even though I don't NEED it, it would drive me nuts.  I would think to myself, "Why can't I just stand up go to point B?"  But I STILL find myself saying to God, "It's not fair!!!"
     It's days like today that make me cry this out to God over and over.  We had a family gathering and for some reason Breanna was not happy.  So she grabbed my hand and wanted to go sit in the oven, I mean van.  I redirected her several times, but she was having nothing to do with it.  I had a few stops to make in town so we left and came back.  "This is NOT FAIR"
     Upon arriving I told her we were going to go swimming.  (She LOVES water.)  I hauled all of our stuff to the bath house to change.  I dressed both of us got her in the water and a relative calls out, "OK kids let's get out so we can go."  She knew the voice and she was done.  SIGH  "This is NOT FAIR"
     I changed her back into regular clothes and she pulls me right back to the van.  So I sat in the oven, I mean van, watching the family interact, laugh and enjoy each other's company.  "This is NOT FAIR"
     I often find myself sitting back and watching, don't worry I've had plenty of practice with this even before Breanna so I'm an expert at it.  That  doesn't mean that I enjoy watching.  Let's face it all anyone wants is to belong and to feel wanted and/or missed. ( I think that is what is driving me more and more to write this blog, I feel that I am talking to someone.)  And sitting on the outside looking in  more than being on the inside makes me cry out "This is NOT FAIR".
     I don't understand, and don't think I will understand until I stand before God, how this is FAIR.  How this is either the glasses, or wheelchair, or oxygen tank I need to get through this world.  I have lost track of or lost close contact with some very dear friends since we cannot go out as a family.  I feel alone in this big world A LOT.  I'm tired of swimming around crying "This is NOT FAIR" but it's the life I've been chosen to live.
     Jesus didn't use those four words but he did try to understand more, and get out of dying for us in the Garden of Eden before he was crucified.  He knew why it had to happen, yet he cried out His own version of "This is NOT FAIR".  
     I know I can't walk away from this burden, but I often feel that the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  I just look into that beautiful face of my amazing daughter and think "this is not fair" that I can't remain mad at the situation and I carry on.  After all it's not fair for me to give up on her.