The Snow Storm Birthday

My backyard on March 24, 2013

My backyard on March 24, 2013

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.  –Carl Sandberg

Yesterday, we set a record here in Central Indiana.  According to WTHR, our NBC affiliate, it was the largest snowfall ever recorded in March.  As of this morning, there were 8 inches in my backyard and the snow continues to fall.  The previous record of 5.8 inches was set on March 1, 1912. March ONE.  For goodness sakes, God, it’s March 24!!  On this day, my birthday, I usually plant pansies in my front porch flower pots.  What is going on here?

It seemed to me as the forecasters continued to issue their “Winter Storm Warning” in advance of Palm Sunday 2013 that this was just going to be an utterly depressing weekend.   I was thinking like my friend Lauren who posted on her Facebook page, “You know that phrase – I’ll see you when hell freezes over?  Snow at the end of March makes you wonder.  Just sayin”

I’m absolutely with you, Lauren.   You make me laugh because I was thinking this is what the first week of spring is supposed to look like…..maybe in Juneau, Alaska?

Ever an optimist and determined to enjoy myself anyway, I remembered this little golden nugget.

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Ps 118:24)

Ok, God, I will try to love this snow covered birthday.  I will.

Being a lover of all celebrations of life, and with childlike enthusiasm for my own as well, I jokingly issue annual reminders to all who will listen about the upcoming “festival of Shelly” when it comes around exactly one week after St. Patrick’s Day each spring.  If that seems a tad childish and disturbingly narcissistic, then you have a clear and accurate picture.  A gal has got to do what a gal has got to do.

I’ll not defend myself so much as ask that you allow me to explain.  First of all, I have the most amazing parents (no, really, mine are the best) who taught me birthdays are just plain “the greatest”.   We have some fairly terrific birthday memories from over the years and NO MATTER WHAT Mom and Dad always find a way to get us together to celebrate every birthday in the family WITHOUT FAIL.  Always.  This exercise is compulsory.

God used them to teach me something about the value of every life.   I believe a birthday is a gift– it is one day set aside each year to celebrate life.  If your life intersects with mine on a regular basis, eventually I will seek out the date of your birth, add it to my calendar, and when it’s your day,  I will try to make sure sun shines all over you.  Some of you will resist and you will lose your battle.  On my day, I love the chance to celebrate my fantastic life, filled with gratefulness, with those I love.  All of us have been given that great gift of life, all of us are made in God’s image, and all of us have lives worth thanking God for with a little gusto on our special day!

Secondly, a gal sometimes has to advertise the birthday just to hedge against the possibility the CPA husband could lose track of her fabulousness during these ugliest days of tax season.  My friend Lisa would call this my “charmingly abrasive” side.  However, 80 and 90 hour work weeks are brutal.  My guy is pretty well trained now and I could probably back down the advertising campaign, but now it’s kind of a treasured ritual of our family life! Right, honey?

Stay with me now as I circle back to the snow covered birthday of 2013.

My fabulous husband suggested, in advance of the snow, that our immediate family go for dinner to open up the festival.  We did that on Saturday night.  I chose “The Ram” in Fishers because I am a mom with 3 boys and a husband who love March Madness and I knew we could enjoy our family time AND see the games.  I even got to overrule the watching of Tiger Woods on the golf channel “because it’s my birthday” and watching golf on TV makes removing old wallpaper seem like fun.  We giggled, ate onion rings, and then came home, watched more basketball.  Later, they brought me a scoop of ice cream with 2 candles on top and sang, “Happy Birthday”.  In short, it was awesome!

When I opened my eyes the next morning, yesterday, the snow was already falling.  We made it to mass and the grocery store.  My crazy parents drove down here in the snow.  Mom and I went shopping for Easter dresses while the snow came down.  Dad taught the kids a new card game.  We had pizza for dinner, we ate my favorite homemade angel food cake, and then the greatest thing happened!!


There was so much snow in fact that the boys got to stay up late because school was cancelled.

There was so much snow that their grandparents decided to spend the night.

So, the party continued.  There was a long, loud card game won by Tom, a lesson on what exactly is “The Harlem Shake” for the grandparents, there was late night hot chocolate, NCAA basketball bracket updates, more giggling, and bacon and eggs this morning for breakfast followed by a game of euchre.

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God- who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Thanks to Tom, Nick, Drew, Zach, Mom and Dad for ringing in my 42nd birthday with me during the snow covered weekend.   It was fantastic.  I love you.  You all are the most amazing blessing.

And God?  You just get me.  The snow storm birthday of 2013—nice.  THANKS.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.  Each moment is all we need, not more.”  Mother Teresa

Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I


A friend who knows how much affection I have for all things Franciscan sent me a text message when our new leader’s name was announced.  It affected me so instantly and deeply.   

NBC News shortly thereafter followed by saying, “Cardinal Dolan confirms Francis named himself after St. Francis of Assisi.  He says the Pope specifically explained that to the Cardinals.”

The joyful message, still ringing in my heart:

The voice of God that spoke to St. Francis of Assisi now echoes forth from the conclave, “Francis, rebuild my Church.” 

And now, we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name!  Amen.

On Pope Alarms, Adopted Cardinals and the Secret of Happiness

Well, I’ve adopted my cardinal.  I’m following @PapalSmokeStack on Twitter, and I’ve signed up for the “Pope Alarm”.  I mean, it’s time to rock and roll on this whole matter of the conclave, right?  I mean no disrespect to the men in black (and red) when I say, “Let’s get ‘er done fellas!”

My adopted Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil

My “adopted” Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil

I was with some Jesus gals this morning.  We took a few minutes to pray for our Holy Mother Church and the Cardinals in Rome now.  We all expressed our fervent hope that the Holy Spirit will be powerfully present.  We prayed that pride would be set aside and God’s choice would be made powerfully clear to the College of Cardinals by His grace.

As history is made, it’s pretty exciting to be a witness.  My oldest, a 15-yr old, reminded me of this fact the morning that we heard about Pope Benedict’s resignation.  As we watched Matt Lauer interview Cardinal Dolan last month, my son recalled vividly being a 2nd grader during the last conclave and described in fairly impressive detail the exuberant reaction of his classmates when the new Pope Benedict stepped out onto the “loggia”.  He clearly felt that as a defining moment in his Catholic journey when he said, “I think I got it for the first time then that I am part of something really big.  Being Catholic I mean.”

Still, as much as we have heard about the “papabile” the last few weeks, participated in prayer and guessed about who our new leader will be, ultimately, a large part of my internal thought process was in sync with a friend who wrote me today to say that it’s simply all in the hands of the “important people” or the “elite” of the Church.

Then, moments later I heard the following.  It was written by Fr. Mattias Scheeban, a relatively obscure German theologian from the mid 1800s.  In this I heard God speaking to me.  I hope you will too.

“The soul adorned with grace becomes a new reality, an ennobled tree which is always green, always in bloom, always bearing fruit.  If you knew yourself, Christian soul, how you would treasure and esteem yourself!  If you but knew yourself, O saintly soul lived and dwelt in by God…lovely paradise of your Creator, splendid tabernacle of the Holy Trinity…if you but knew yourself daughter of the Father, Sister of the son, (spouse) of the Holy Ghost, Associate and companion of the whole blessed Trinity!  If you only knew yourself, how highly you would prize yourself, not because of what you are (in and of) yourself, but because of the dignity that Grace brings to you!”

Is not God reminding me through Fr. Scheeban of how highly God prizes each of us, hearing us and our prayers clearly even despite how invisible or sinful we may feel?  Are you and I impossibly unimportant in the big picture here?  Or, are we all terribly vital and equally valued and loved in the sight of God at this moment and always?

Dig into the memory banks for a moment and remember with me a parable….. the tax collector who stood at a distance and would not even dare raise his eyes to heaven?  Perhaps you recall him too?  He’s the publican in Luke 18 who says “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Little and despised though he was in the eyes of men, God heard him and he was justified.

Where am I going with all this? Though we may feel of little consequence, though we may feel invisible, our task is to become more like Mary, especially now during this important time for our Church universal.  A faithful soul that magnifies the Lord can ask anything and it will be given.   We have to know who we are in Christ.   If we pray often, give all the praise and honor to Him, He will continue to bless us and guide us on our journey to Him, serving Him in ways big and small– though we may not ever realize what He has accomplished through us—or what He plans still.

So, as the dental hygienist worked on my teeth this afternoon,  I never dreamed we would be talking about the conclave.  She quizzed me about prayer as we chatted about THE smokestack and I confessed about my morning and my prayers and then she said,  “Can I ask you something?  How do you know what to do, what to say?  I just really feel weird about prayer.”   

 I said, “Don’t worry about how to do it.  Just be who you are.  Try to be patient with yourself. God knows you.  Just talk to him.  Just be you.”

Then, I smiled and I dug in my purse to give her a copy of some terrific wisdom from Cardinal Mercier.  You may have seen this before, but it’s worth reading again and again.  One of the Jesus gals gave it to me this morning, and since I had seen it before, I almost said “thanks, anyway.”  I felt nudged to grab it, and I’m so pleased this time I listened. 


I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness.  Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to the things of sense and your ears to all the noises of the world, in order to enter into yourself.  Then, in the sanctity of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit saying to Him:

O, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You.  Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me.  Tell me what I should do….give me your orders.  I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me.  Let me only know Your will.

If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in  the midst of trials.  Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the gate of Paradise, laden with merit.  This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.  –Card. Mercier

Note to self:  Silly woman, when someone offers you the secret of sanctity and happiness, take 2 copies.

A Passion for Purple: GCHS

St. Theodore Guerin, pray for us!

St. Theodore Guerin, pray for us!

Two trimesters into our family’s likely 30 trimester experience at Guerin Catholic High School, I am feeling grateful to God and therefore I am compelled this day to share 10 things I love about this high school.

1. The first all school mass of the year.  A standing ovation to welcome the freshmen?  You gotta be kidding me.  AWESOME!

2.  Long Live the GC Student Section!  Experiencing the rowdy, smiling fools– dressed in God knows what crazy theme on any given night—totally fun!

3.   Boys who know how to tie their own tie. 

4.  Deacon Rick’s weekly letter.  Man oh man, I’m gonna miss that guy!

5.  Purple Pride.  This one was almost a deal breaker for us choosing GC.  Think LSU colors.  Yikes!  But now, I admit, I find myself searching out purple accessories.  It grows on you.

6.  Ash Wednesday Lunch:  A bowl of soup, a piece of bread.   Hello, Lent.

7.  Fr. Joshua Janko:  Fantasy conclave pushing, mass before finals celebrating, oversized basketball jersey wearing PASSION.

8.  Mr. Panasuk’s Videos:  Here’s a sample:

9.  Community Service Day:  “Be a Servant. Be a Leader” (X 750).  Powerful.

10.  Teachers who get it:  Here’s the sort of thing that happens in every department, with consistency.  These people just get it.  This letter went out to Spanish students yesterday.  Remember, this isn’t from the Theology teacher.


Final exams have been graded and plugged in.  The overall grade you see listed is your FINAL grade for the course.  There is nothing more you can do, even if you are only .0000000001 from whatever the next grade up may be.  If you wish to see your final exam, you may come check with me after the last final exam period is complete. I thank you for a good trimester together and would like to leave you with a quote from Fr. Michael Keating, an associate professor of Catholic Studies at St. Thomas University in Minnesota that recently struck me as the reality of this statement is stunning.  He said, (referring to eternity) “You will either be a creature of eternal light and rule with Christ in His Kingdom, or you will be an eternal horror full of darkness in the depths of hell. You are not called to just be a ‘nice’ person.” I don’t know about you, but I find that to be absolutely amazing and terrifying at the same time. Let us pray today for the grace to live a holy life, so that we can live forever as creatures of eternal light. Your life may be the only Bible some people read.  – Author Unknown

It is impossibe to estimate what a Christian education does for these young people.St. Theodore Guerin

Great Catholic schools everywhere deserve our thanks.  They are filled with amazing educators, administrators and volunteers who aren’t in it for the money, that’s for sure.  What do you love about your Catholic school??