43 Things

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’? –William Arthur Ward

That's me blowing out the candles yesterday.

That’s me blowing out the candles yesterday.

“You know you round up to 45 now? And 45 rounds up to 50. So basically, you are 50, Shelly!”

Then, gleeful grins followed by cackling.

This is the kind of grief I am getting this week. But, when you dish it out yourself, you’d better be able to handle a little ribbing. For the record, however, I think I should state that I am actually a very youthful 43 this week—contrary to what some have been told by my husband Tom and my good friend Lisa.

In honor of the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of my birth, here are 43 things, some completely silly, some more substantive, for which I am grateful. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Family. Yes, some of them are goofballs. But they are MY goofballs.
  2. Birthdays. Just love everything about them—yours, mine—life is such a gift!
  3. Yellow Box flip flops. Thank you, Yellow Box people for making the cutest, most comfy flip flops ever made (and making them in size 11)!
  4. The Laudate App. If you’re a Jesus girl who loves your iPhone, it’s a must have.
  5. French chemist Eugene Schueller, inventor of hair dye. ‘Nuff said.
  6. Pansies. You dudes get a bad rap. What an unfair name. Thanks for being there to usher in springtime!
  7. Teachers who don’t give homework on the weekend. It’s tiring for moms trying to pass 3rd grade for the 4th time.
  8. Books by George Weigel. He has an intelligent, faithful, and accessible voice. Love him.
  9. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Yum.
  10. People who smile….cuz smiling’s my favorite!
  11. The St. Margaret’s Guild Decorator Show Home. An annual girly tradition with Mom.
  12. Kenny, who bags my groceries and cheerfully escorts me to my car at O’Malia’s grocery store!
  13. Catholic Schools
  14. Diet coke, with a lid and a straw…in a Styrofoam cup. Lent is extra-long without you!
  15. Boys playing ball outside for hours in my driveway.
  16. Jimmy Fallon. Geez that guy is funny.
  17. Happy, chill music. Stuff you can listen to while you drink your margarita too fast so it won’t melt.
  18. People who “follow me” on Twitter….because let’s be honest….they are a rare breed!
  19. The garbage man. Without him, smelly chaos.
  20. The sun. May I never take you for granted again!
  21. Mass. When Jesus is on board, life just works better.
  22. Laughter. What beautiful noise!
  23. That feeling when you know Jesus used you to help someone.
  24. Hugs. My husband actually calls me a “hug whore”. Is that a compliment?
  25. Acceptance. I’m so thankful to people who like me just the way I am.
  26. Kid President. Don’t know him? Look him up. That’s one cool little dude.
  27. Glitter. It’s just fantastic sparkly stuff and you know it!
  28. Friends. “Faithful friends are beyond price…” (Sir 6:15)
  29. Hand dancing. If it was only an Olympic sport, I’d be IN!
  30. Compliments. Accentuate the positive. Latch on to the affirmative. Just sayin.
  31. Confession. It’s like free therapy for Catholics. Brilliant invention. Forgiveness is pretty great, and that is all.
  32. People who can laugh at themselves.
  33. Dangling earrings. What’s not to love?
  34. Pope Francis. Domus Sanctae Martae, regular guy shoes, a Jesuit who chose the name Francis? He rocks.
  35. Sports. Especially games the Thieme boys are playing in. When Nick Fred crushes it over the head of the outfielder, or Z crosses someone over, or D drains another 3….then the smile.
  36. Bonfires—with marshmellows.
  37. St. Therese of Lisieux. Don’t know her? Read Story of a Soul. Saccharine, sentimental awesomeness!
  38. Chuck Lofton, WTHR-13. He just seems like he enjoys his job so much I don’t even get cranky when his forecast is a bust.
  39. Mackey Arena. Not a bad seat in the place.
  40. Songs from the old “Glory and Praise” book. Sing to the Mountains, baby!
  41. My husband’s socks. Warm, cozy, cushy. Sorry, hon.
  42. Vacation sex. (Sorry, Mom).
  43. Love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

Mother Teresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. So, my birthday week gratefulness list is my attempt to smile at you, and to inspire myself (and maybe you too) to notice how big we are blessed in ways “itty bitty” as well as “ginormous”.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and REJOICE!

Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Yes Lord!

Video

Mother Theodore Guerin Teacher of the Year, Kristy Worthington and family

Mother Theodore Guerin Teacher of the Year, Kristy Worthington and family

Imagine if you will the horror of being a 14-yr old high school freshman and being asked to play the guitar at an all-school mass the very first week of school.  Nobody knows who you are yet and the first impression they are going to get is that you’re a “religious guitarist”?

As my husband tells it, we were practicing the mass songs with the students prior to mass when I became perturbed.  “Ok, you St. Lawrence people, I know you know this song….so sing!!”

If I was there playing, they better be there singing, darn it!   So, I decided to take my case to the entire student body rather loudly into the microphone.  Clearly, I’ve never been one for sliding under the radar.

With is tongue firmly planted in cheek, he tells people all these years later  “She was sooo H-O-T.  That’s when I knew she was the one for me!”  He quite enjoys torturing me with his mocking of this moment from our shared Catholic school experience years ago.

This is the life moment that came to mind as I read about Pope Francis and his daily homily from yesterday.

“You’re able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord, to come out of your shell ever so slightly to sing (his praise)?” the Pope asked during Mass.

The guy’s got a point.  We all need to get over ourselves and sing.  Don’t have a good voice?  Well, God gave it to you, let Him deal with it.

Are you more grateful when the Colts score a touchdown or PG drains a “3” than you are for your healthy children, your thoughtful spouse, a sunny day, your eyesight, the ability to smell the chocolate chip cookies  fresh from the oven, a warm bed, your kids amazing school?  The Pope is reminding us that God loves when we love Him with enthusiasm, praising Him for all the blessings He pours upon us.  It’s something to think about.

Catholic Schools Work

Today at my parish school, a kind, gracious and faith-filled teacher named Kristy Worthington was honored by her peers as the “Mother Theodore Guerin” Teacher of the Year as part of our Catholic Schools Week celebration.  While she is deserving of the honor for many reasons, I would argue her most laudable quality is the JOY she exudes to all in her path.  It draws us in, calls us all to our own discipleship.

Our churches,  our schools and our communities need people like Kristy, along with her enthusiasm, her creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of her youthful spirit.

Do you know what else?  When the school choir breaks out a few verses of “Trading My Sorrows” and they get to that refrain which is a beautiful prayer of joyful praise, she is ALWAYS among the first to bust out her “Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord” hand motions….and it quickly spreads.

Says Pope Francis, “The fruitfulness that praise of the Lord gives us, the gratuity of praising the Lord: that man or that woman who praises the Lord, who prays praising the Lord, who, when praying is filled with joy at doing so, and who, when singing in the Mass rejoices in singing it, is a fruitful person.”

Today’s prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for Catholic Schools where our children can learn about how much You love them.   This week we thank You for all the amazing gift of that grace filled presence in our lives and for all the underpaid, but AMAZING teachers like Kristy who make it possible and through whom You work.  Today on the carpool ride home, Lord, we’ll be breaking out a song of praise to honor and thank You for the blessing of all the schools where we can pray with each other and with our classmates.  We ask for Your grace to help us to do a better job of honoring You with JOY each day!

Yes, Yes, Lord….Amen.

**Post script:  The song I referenced (link below to listen) is called “Trading My Sorrows” by Darrell Evans and is available on iTunes. 

Do You Smile Like a Stewardess?

“Do you smile like a stewardess? “  –Pope Francis

Sweatshirt weather, colorful leaves, apple cider, and college football are some of the reasons I love this time of the year.  There is also a treasure trove of feast days of many of my favorite saints:  Therese of Lisieux, Matthew, Francis of Assisi, John Henry Newman, and Teresa of Avila.  If you don’t know them, for goodness sakes look them up—they are in a category I call “crazy amazing”!

Call me eccentric if you wish, but these are people I consider friends.  Through the example of their lives, they help me realize that Jesus is the real lover of our souls, and that all the blessings He showers upon us are the means He uses to urge us to love Him in return.   When you combine the sunshine and bonfire weather with the inspiration, it’s just a great big hug from our Awesome God, reminding me each autumn just how much I am loved.

Unfortunately, it’s not so for everyone.  Chances are, I’m preaching to the choir here.  I’d be willing to bet that MOST Catholic blog readers who’ve made their way this deep into the internet world are likely people who already know that Jesus loves them.

So, here’s the question:  Do you act like someone who knows God loves them, or do you smile like a stewardess?

This is the question posed recently by Pope Francis to a group largely made up of religious men and women.  It was shared, essentially, as a one sentence conscience exam on sanctity.   It struck me as a remarkable, powerful, and extremely simple bit of wisdom.

St. Teresa of Jesus said it years ago, “A sad saint is a sad saint.”

We all know when a smile is forced and inauthentic.  Let’s try saying “buh-bye” to whatever is not genuine.   We all respond to a smile that is the fruit of joy and holiness.

Here’s why it’s so incredibly important.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”  — Mother Teresa

Today, I am issuing a challenge to all willing to take it.  Let’s BE Christ today.  The world is filled up with people whose hearts are lonely and broken.  We are the hands and feet of Christ.  Look around today.  Share a brave, genuine smile, or a cheerful gesture.  Then, repeat tomorrow.  Who’s with me?

If you’re not yet convinced, don’t take it from me, read this last little bit from one of our great October saints who says it much better than I could (his feast IS TODAY):

Gloom is no Christian temper; repentance is not real which has not love in it.  We must live in sunshine, even when we sorrow; we must live in God’s presence, we must not shut ourselves up in our own hearts, even when we are reckoning up our past sins.  — John Henry Cardinal Newman

Humdinger of a Week

NantucketHumdinger. –noun. (informal)  A person, thing, action or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.

Additional context:  This week was a humdinger.

Typically, I spend my time in a state of chaotic constancy.  I go forward, day by day, and the sanctity I am afforded through grace is gained by raising kids.  There are early morning wakeup calls for my three bleary-eyed boys, lunches to pack, carpools to drive, practice drop offs, and math facts to learn.  Dinner should be hot and ready to eat anytime between 5:30-9pm.  Text messages arrive while I am in my “office”—a light blue Chrysler Towne and Country—which smells very much like the inside of old baseball cleats.  “Mom, I forgot my bat bag.  Can you drop it at the school office before 3:30?”  or “Mom, Z and I are wondering if we can eat the chocolate muffins on the table for our after school snack?”

There are 3rd grade CYO football games on Saturday mornings which are usually happening at the same time as basketball practice for the older boys.  Sometimes, I am called on to help with a research project on Belarus or Azerbaijan, and we try to wrap those up before Sunday morning mass after which the Colts game takes over the family room.  It’s a joy filled family life and extremely busy.

However chaotic this week has been, what is has not been is a typical week in the Thieme household.  I went AWOL on Saturday and headed to the Windy City to catch a flight to Rhode Island.  You see my little sister, Robin, is turning 40.  The Dykhuizen family doesn’t mess around with birthdays and so for this auspicious occasion, Mom and I “kidnapped” Robin and we took off to Nantucket for a couple nights of celebration.  The sunny little isle might be a tad light on Pinot Grigio and lobster bisque until the next ferry comes to port.  But, I digress.

“Kidnapped” is really a poor choice of words.  It implies a kind of spontaneity that is impossible for mothers with children at home.  You cannot sweep away from reality a dedicated mom.  It requires logistics:  Willing and able grandparents, a friend (or 3) who have kids at your kids school, and a Pulitzer prize winning four page instructional essay.

This specific week in question, the maternal guilt was ratcheted up for me, the “kidnapper” a notch by the fact that my husband Tom, was in DC with the 8th grade class from St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School exploring our nation’s capital—leaving both parents gone at the same time!  Here’s the thing Robin and I seem to both struggle to admit:  we are raising a total of 5 bright, lovely children who are quite capable of thriving in our absence.

What’s my problem, anyway?  Do I believe I am doing such a poor job that my boys are completely unable to bob and weave, unable to think and do a bit more for themselves than is typical?  Am I so utterly filled with pride that I believe I am irreplaceable even for a day?  I don’t think that’s it.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.”  –Gilda Radner

My instincts tell me all this is really about guilt.  There’s a maternal guilt so ingrained in us that it’s reflexive.  It’s so utterly acceptable to blame mom when anything goes wrong with a child or a family in our culture.  It’s why we mothers are natural Catholics.  We have very little trouble with grasping the reality of our own sinfulness and failure.   As a result of the unholy and unnecessary guilt, we struggle taking time for ourselves and the other women we cherish.  Sadly, we take it for granted that they will completely understand.

So many times when I have gotten busy with my responsibilities and family life, I have let go of cherished time with other women I love.  Their personal anecdotes, the nurturing we afford one another as women, it feels like a luxury.  It’s not.  It’s essential.

“For a lack of guidance a people falls, security lies in many counselors.” (Proverbs 11:14)

Women are especially cognizant of our innate need to hear and be heard.  I try to be a good listener myself, in order to build and strengthen my relationships.  I need that girl time to gain strength, I desire those words of affirmation and guidance, to do the work that God calls us all to do.  In my everyday life, there is joy, but there is jeering, baiting, demanding too.  There are swollen egos and plenty of lumps.

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter, whoever finds them finds a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.”  (Sir 6:14-15)

From a spiritual standpoint, when I go too long without a few laughs and the counsel of godly people, I am quick to remember my mistakes and very soon I get caught in my unworthiness.  Jesus could never use you, the devil whispers.  You are sinful and you are useless.  I hear his whispers loudest when the wick is getting short.

My candle burns at both ends

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

It gives a lovely light.  –Edna St. Vincent Millay

Around my neck I often wear a medallion featuring St. Matthew.  On the back is inscribed “Come follow me”.  I bought this little treasure for myself a few years ago after a no-nonsense priest (who I find God uses to teach me about Him) sent me a beautiful photo of a painting by Caravaggio named “The Calling of St. Matthew”.  I was riveted.  Jesus saw a sinful man, a reviled tax collector, and looked upon him with love and called him to be His own.  In the painting, Matthew appears to be placing his forehead in his hands.  He makes this gesture as he is being called by Jesus.  To me, it has always looked as if the great gospel writer is saying “Oh no!  Not me.  I am a mess.  You don’t want me.”  However, Matthew couldn’t refuse Our Lord.  He followed.

“I am a sinner.  This is the most accurate description.  It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre.  I am a sinner.”  –Pope Francis

Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio

Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio

It appears I have something in common with this Pope.  We are both sinners the Lord has looked upon.   I have even heard it said he finds inspiration in the Caravaggio work I have come to admire, even if just via “Google”.

So, this week was a humdinger.  There were planes, rental cars, hotels, ferry boats, field trips, babysitters, boarding passes and a big birthday was celebrated with my one and only sister.  While my amazing mom, my sis and I lolly gagged in Nantucket for a few days, I would argue we were doing the work God called us to this week.

We were hugging, inspiring, listening, delighting, comforting, questioning, sharing, respecting, understanding, accepting, and zinging with joy because we have each other.

I came home reminded that there is indeed holiness in the chaotic constancy of raising children.  There is also holiness in letting God just empty His dump truck full of love all over you for a couple days….and thanking Him for it.

Love you, Mom.  Happy 40th, fav sis!

Let it shine this week everyone!!

……………………………………………………………

P.S.  Here’s a post script “Hoo Haa!” for Grandpa Jim, as well as Nana and Didai (aka Irene and Bill Beck) for the babysitting love!   Thanks also, Nick, Drew, Zach, Maddie and Ellie for being so flexible this week!  You guys are all THE BOMB!

I am an American, I am a Catholic

IamAnAmericanMy alma mater, Purdue University, has carved out a unique way to honor our nation before home football games.  If you’re a Boliermaker, then I don’t need to explain.  For the uninitiated, here’s the drill.

A proud tradition of Ross-Ade Stadium pregame ceremonies is the reading of this tribute to freedom by Roy Johnson, voice of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.

“I am an American. That’s the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully I AM AN AMERICAN!”

Every time I hear Roy’s booming voice and the crowd proudly shouting along with him on those last four words, I am reminded about what a terrific place this is that I call home and the amazing people who died so that I could be free.

Yes, it’s true that now and then over the years we find the voters have chosen a rummy to represent us or run the big show in DC.  I am not proud of my fellow Americans who swindle millions of dollars from one another or worse yet who commit heinous crimes that simply cannot be defended. There are people who hate us everywhere on this globe, and many of them have valid gripes.  Still, my home is this imperfect and wonderful place where we watch bottle rockets shoot into the sky off piers over the lake every July 4 while we listen to Lee Greenwood sing “God Bless the USA”.  The stars and stripes are always going to be home to me.  I will spare you the list I have compiled about what makes the country great from my spot here in Indiana.  You surely have your own top 10 anyway.

Occasionally, when I am particularly aggravated by the way things are going in the US of A, though, I think about where might I move if I were going to get out of “Dodge.”  I could definitely become Canadian.  I mean, Canada is close and the people are nice, eh?  I like Tim Horton’s and I could get used to gravy with my fries.  Let’s be honest, though….they are better with Heinz 57 slathered all over them and it’s darn cold up there.  I AM AN AMERICAN. Here is where I belong.

It’s very much the same thing for me faith wise.  I am Roman Catholic.  My church is home.  None other will do.

This week I received an angry reply to a blog post.  That is a generous description on my part, if I am candid.  I will not include it here because the tone was so acerbic and the content inappropriate, but much of the frustration was squarely aimed at Pope Francis and anyone who might support him.  However, the reader rightly noted that the Catholic Church has made some grave mistakes and worse yet committed heinous crimes that cannot be defended. There are people who hate us everywhere on this globe, and many of them have valid gripes.  Still, my home is this imperfect and wonderful place called Catholicism.

Every time I re-read the angry note I received,  it reminds me of Pilate and the crowd yelling “crucify Him” to the most innocent person imaginable.  I am reminded about what a terrific place this is that I call home, all because of one amazing man who faced that crowd in obedience, who died so that I could be free.

For those of you familiar with Catholic convert Dorothy Day, she said  “The Church is at times a spotless bride of Christ and at other times she is the whore of Babylon, but we love her to death because she is Christ and she has the words of everlasting life.”

I would argue one simply cannot separate Christ from His Church.  They are one in the same if you believe, as I do, that Jesus is alive.

Perhaps when I decide to become Canadian, I will do as my youngest once suggested he might do and convert to Judaism.  After all, as my wise youngest son has pointed out, “Those are good people Mom.  Jesus was Jewish.”.

Naaa.  It just isn’t for me.

So, even though I have heard it said that the Church is always God hung between two thieves, she is my home.  To whom would I go, if not to Jesus?  No other church will do.

St. Teresa of Avila.  She was a little bit Catholic too.

St. Teresa of Avila. She was a little bit Catholic too.

I AM AN AMERICAN.
I AM A CATHOLIC.

Home IS where your heart is.

The Naked Saint on the Pizza

03-st-francis-renounces-all-worldly-goods-1299“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

― St. Francis of Assisi

Earlier this week, I was the mystery reader in my son’s 2nd grade class.  Apparently the clues I sent in about myself made it “waaaay easy” to figure out who I was before I entered the classroom.  You see, “normal moms” send in clues about the type of minivan they drive or how many kids they have, while I chose to share slightly more colorful information about how I dominate my youngest son in wall ball and that I find watching golf on TV torturous.  I’m not sure how I went wrong there, but my little man was a touch irritated.  In any case, the class was expecting me and plenty squirrely when I sauntered in at the end of the day.

First, I read a funny and silly book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.  Mostly, I chose that one because it’s sure to get laughs from a class full of 8 year olds.  It did.  Then, I went with something a little different.  It was a book about St. Francis.  Perhaps it would be nice for the kids to hear about the saint after whom our new Pope chose his name?  I mean, I love St. Francis.  The Pope loves St. Francis.  His is just a beautiful story of conversion, leaving behind “things” and choosing God.  Nothing but good can come from learning a little more about St. Francis, right?

WRONG.

Let’s review the facts on the great saint from the perspective of an 8 year old.

“Mrs. Thieme, he was kinda a rich guy with a mean dad, huh?”

“Mrs. Thieme, Mrs. Thieme!  He was rich before he went crazy and got naked on the pizza.”

“Well, sweetheart, the word is actually PIAZZA.  It’s not the same…”

“Mrs. Thieme!!  Can we see the picture of the naked saint?”

“Yeah, we wanna see the picture of the crazy naked guy!”

To the parents of 2nd graders in my son’s class at St. Louis de Montfort, I apologize for any conversations you might have had to endure about the scantily clad, mentally unstable saint after whom the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose to name himself.  I meant well, my heart was rightly motivated, and it just didn’t translate how I intended.  For the record, there WAS a cartoon style illustration in the book which showed the unadorned backside of St. Francis renouncing his worldly possessions at the behest of Bishop Guido, but I skipped over the page 17 picture.  I did so much to the chagrin of all the boys and girls listening.

Here’s the thing.  St. Francis is a saint worth knowing.  I am a touch friendlier with him than I am with some of his other cohorts there in heaven, because I spent 8 years of my life being taught by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration (SSFPA) at St. Lawrence Catholic School as a kid.  Those gals made sure we knew all about Francis and his simple life of joy.  I knew for a moment he was considered the biggest fool in Assisi, that some people thought he was mad.  But, I looked at those gals who taught me in class each day, wearing those tragic brown outfits and I noticed their smiles.  Nothing spoke to me as a more powerful witness about the love of God than did those happy Franciscan sisters who had chosen to say yes to Jesus calling them to be His spouse.

I was just dying to share a little piece of this amazing man with the kiddos.

Without the ferocity of devotion St. Francis had to God centuries ago, this group of amazing religious women who helped me learn so much about the love of our Awesome Creator wouldn’t even exist.  That’s just one tiny thing among millions that a powerful crazy love for Christ can accomplish.  Francis was on fire with faith and that fire spread like a raging forest fire through hundreds of years all the way to Indiana.  Cool, huh?

Even just this week, our new Pope preached about this idea of “apostolic zeal”.  Pope Francis said at mass on Thursday this week that Apostolic zeal, implies “an element of madness, but of spiritual madness, of healthy madness” in proclaiming Christ.

He urged all present to press on with zeal, the kind of zeal clearly evident in that naked guy I tried to introduce to the 2nd graders.

Said Pope Francis, “There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to Jesus through proclamation and Apostolic zeal. Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church the grace to go out to the outskirts of life. The Church has so much need of this! Not only in distant lands, in the young churches, among people who do not know Jesus Christ, but here in the cities, in our cities, they need this proclamation of Jesus Christ. So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord. Onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, ‘take courage!’ ”

I like this Pope.  He speaks my language.  Did you read what he said?

“If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord.”

In the spirit of being annoying  and not letting it drop already (a particular strength area of yours truly), I’ll give you a few neat facts about Francis I learned so long ago that I never got to share in 2B this week at St. Louis de Montfort School.

  • St. Francis invented the first creche in a mountain cave near Greccio where he celebrated Christmas mass in 1223 and shortly thereafter in 1224 received the stigmata.
  • St. Francis wrote the “Canticle of the Sun” but did not write “The Prayer of St. Francis”.
  • St. Francis was canonized in 1228 by Pope Gregory  IX in Assisi, and his feast day is celebrated Oct. 4.

P.S.  Is it just me or do we need more religious women back in our Catholic schools ASAP?!  Let’s pray for vocations!

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

– St. Francis of Assisi

Shelly 2.0

What’s wrong with you people?  Why can’t you understand how special I am?MotherTeresa

I mean sure, I have a little bit of a patience issue this week, but the sun hasn’t been out in months here and I am a tax season widow–so there are special circumstances.  Plus, I’ll grant you that I’m well past the pleasantly plump label at this point, but you have to keep in mind the medical challenges and my personal history.  It’s been too cold to exercise EVERYDAY.   I mean, the time hasn’t been right.  It’s a special case.  The laundry might be a smidge backed up, and I forgot to take the trash cans in AGAIN.  The “house” part of “housewife” is constantly giving me fits.  But you see, I have 3 boys playing on five teams right now who need to be carpooled to 2 different schools everyday…. and I hosted Easter last week and this weekend was my youngest son’s first communion.  We were celebrating.  We’re really busy.  It’s spring break.  I’m sure you’ll agree that’s different.  It’s a special situation.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

ENOUGH.  My “special” attitude isn’t working.

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. — St. Augustine

Ever feel like you’re overdue for an attitude change, a behavior shift?  If failure drives change, then I guess I am in the middle of a new experience with freedom here.   There is a certain freedom, after all, in knowing I don’t have to worry about screwing up anymore.  It’s happened.  I’ve already done it.  BUT, I hear without failure, there is no growth.

Growth in my case seems to mean I need to come to grips with being a little smaller.  Pun intended.  I mean it literally and in a figurative way.  Now might be time to put down the goldfish crackers and come to grips with my nothingness.

A friend of mine who has survived a long ugly battle with leukemia told me once that she wakes up every day and no matter how crappy she feels, she wants to do something positive for someone else.

Karen is clearly on to something.  It’s time to start waking with a new attitude.  So, I decided a change is in order–less me, more God.  If God is love, then I am going to thank God for the day He has given me by doing something that makes someone smile.  Inspire someone.  Be someone’s light.  Love more.

I prayed about it and I thought about it and I committed to a turnaround.  Let’s go!

Cue reality.   The day before yesterday, my internet went out.  This isn’t a new problem.  We live in a not so bright house, if you catch my drift.   I unplugged it then turned the modem back on.  Nada.  Then, I waited for a miracle.  If a particular service has been dead more than 24 hours, I let my fingers do the walking.  The nice gal tried at the cable company to work her long distance techno magic, but the pinging was to no avail.  She decided I needed a new modem and scheduled a service call for today.

A few hours later, I noticed that my land line was dead.  Since we have the same provider for the phone, internet and cable, I decided I would dial them again from my cell phone and add this issue.  The words of Mother Teresa rolled around in my mind.  Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.  Okay real life, here we go.

That’s when I noticed that the dead modem was looking more alive and my email was operational.  So, I hooked up via cell phone with my good friends at Brighthouse and a customer service gal who identified herself as Vicki answered.  Here’s how our conversation progressed.

“M’am, I see we already have a service call scheduled for tomorrow.  Do you need to reschedule?”

“Vicki, no I don’t.  I just need to chat with you for a second.  You see, when I called earlier for service and talked to the other gal, it was my internet that was out.  Now it’s my phone.  But the internet is working again.  The modem has come out of its coma for now.”

“Oh, okay.  So you want to cancel the internet technician but have a phone tech visit instead?”

“Well, Vicki, not really.”

“Mrs. Thieme, I am so sorry you’re having trouble but you don’t need to get upset, I will do what I can to help.”

“Listen, Vicki.   You can relax and call me Shelly.  No one has cancer over here.  I’m not worked up at all and there won’t be any phone rage.  This isn’t an emergency of any kind.  It’s just that I am bummed I am paying for phone, internet and cable and I don’t think all three have ever been working at the same time for a solid week since we moved here.  I already know all your technicians.  Can we talk?”

“Thank you for being nice M’am.  What can I do?”

“Well, Vicki, I know you have thousands of customers.   There’s nothing special about me or my house.  I am just thinking maybe we can talk about what other options you have there.  Do you guys have a team of super smart geeks you send out to call on the houses of people who are yelling and talking about unfair treatment?  I kinda want a shot at those guys.  Only I am going to be nice and try to make them eat super yummy cinnamon bread that I am now not allowed to eat myself so they will stay long enough to untangle the technology cluster going on over here.”

Audible giggles.  “M’am.  Shelly, I mean.  Can you hold for a minute while I do something I say I am going to do but rarely actual do?”

“You’re going to talk to a supervisor, aren’t you?”

“Yes M’am, please hold”.

“Thank you for holding for so long and being so nice.  I’ve checked your account.  I think we can do a better job for you.  I’ve asked permission to give you a promotional discount we give to new customers.  Your bill will be $61 less per month from now on.  Oh, and this month you have been given a $50 credit.”

“Vicki.  That’s so kind.  Thank you for doing that!  I’m not sure what possessed you but gosh I am grateful.”

“M’am.  I’ll tell you.  It’s three things.   You didn’t complain about being on hold for 42 minutes. You are so funny,  and best of all, you haven’t tried telling me how important or special your problems are one time.”

Hmm.  I think she just said she was extra nice to me because I know I’m NOT SPECIAL.  Haha!!  Okay, God.  I hear you commenting on my change.  Shelly 2.0 it is.

“Our technicians will be at your house tomorrow between 8am and 10am.  Is that okay?”

“Vicki.  I feel like you used a plural word.  Did you say technicianzzzz?”

“Yes, M’am.  I did my best.  Thank you so much for being really nice.  Good luck.”

Pope Francis said, “The sin that repulses me most is pride and thinking oneself as a big shot” in an interview for a book written about him by Sergio Rubin in 2010.  He said when it happened to him, “I have felt great embarrassment and I ask God for forgiveness because nobody has the right to behave like this.”

Seems like our new pope might be working with more updated software than yours truly.

Version 2.0:  Less me, more others, more love, more God.

Amen.