BIT OF FATIMA IN CAJUN COUNTRY

My husband and I daily drive around Cajun country in south Louisiana due to our work as insurance inspectors.  We enjoy the ride, chatting about life, finding unique places and meeting interesting people.  Sometimes we say our rosary together to pass the time on extended drives.  We are both devoted to our heavenly mother and pray for her intercession and graces every day.  The love of Mary in this part of the country is very evident to anyone who drives along the many country roads.  We have seen countless statues of Our Lady in front of homes and business.  It always brings a smile to my face to see a special shrine in someone’s yard; knowing that family has the same devotion to the mother of God.

A couple of months ago, during one of these drives, my husband and I came across a special and unique shrine.  In the middle of nowhere, we noticed a sign – “Ave Maria Shrine”.  I quickly asked my husband to pull into the parking area.  The property was very lovely.  There was a pavilion with seating and a small building under the pavilion.  I noticed the grounds were immaculate with rose bushes, statues, and wooden crosses marking the Stations of the Cross.  I was very curious about this shrine, having never heard about it.  My husband was uncomfortable being on this property.  I began to open the truck door and he immediately asked me what I thought I was doing.  I told him I was going have a look inside the building.  He let me know that he did not think that was a good idea; (he was being protective as any good husband should).  I looked again at the sign and told him, “Look, it says it is open from 6am to 6pm. It is open; I am going have a look.”  He knew there was no stopping me; he rolled his eyes and told me that he would turn his truck around while I had a look.

I opened the door to the shrine and was pleasantly surprised to see a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  It was a small shrine, but there was enough room for a kneeler and a box to place petitions.  I could see that it was lovingly being cared for as there were flowers and candles on the altar.  I wrote a petition, placed it in the box and prayed.  On the way out I noticed a pamphlet on the shrine and took one with me.

My husband was patiently waiting in the vehicle.  I very excited told him what I found inside the shrine.  Together we read the pamphlet.  It stated:

“In June of 1994, two young men from Venezuela, visited the Opelousas Ave Maria Rosary Group.  They claimed to hear and see the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They shared messages of conversion, penance, fasting, sacrifices, weekly confession, daily Rosary and mass.  In April of 1996, she asked the Ave Maria Rosary Group to build a replica of the original Fatima Shrine.  This was built by hard work and donations.  The Shrine was opened November 19, 2000.  We have had claims of healings, conversions, and answered prayers since that time.  We invite you and your families to come to the Shrine to pray and receive the blessings, comfort, and peace from Our Lady….On the first Saturday of each month, Our Lady has promised her presence at the Shrine from 6 pm to 6:05 pm.  She is there to receive our petitions and prayers.”

“How wonderful!”, I exclaimed.  “I will be right back.”, said my husband as he left the vehicle and headed towards the shrine.

We returned to the shrine the following month and said our rosary together there.  We will return there on the 13th of May in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fatima.  It is also Mother’s Day weekend.  I encourage anyone who is in our area to visit the shrine and thank our mother for her visits to earth, her prayers and intercessions.  The shrine is located at 3484 Prairie Rhonde Hwy., Opelousas, Louisiana.

I cannot make a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal; however, I will make a pilgrimage to the little Cajun Fatima Shrine.  It will truly be a special Mother’s Day weekend!

C’est Bon,

Love

Sherry

 

 

Fireflies and Mercy

My husband and I were sitting and talking on our back patio just the other evening.  While we relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company, the sun set and darkness began to surround us.  As our eyes adjusted, the moonlight provided some soft lighting and the fireflies began their shimmering dance across our back yard.  I was quite entertained with the little bright spots of light spinning and zipping around.  My husband then arose from his rocker and stated that he would turn on an outside light.  I quickly told him, “No, we won’t be able to see the fireflies!”.  He laughed, but sat back down and we continued to visit in the darkness all the while enjoying those sparks of light.

Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday.  I love this Feast Day!  Devotion of Divine Mercy was personally requested by Jesus during church approved apparitions to Saint Faustina.  Sister Faustina was born in 1905 in Krakow, Poland and received many messages from Christ.  He appeared as Divine Mercy and instructed Faustina to have His image painted.  It was His request that the image be venerated and for there to be a Divine Mercy feast day the first Sunday after Easter.   Saint Faustina kept a diary of her heavenly visits and although she was poorly educated and only lived to the age of thirty-three; she was able to achieve all that was asked of her.  If you have not read her diary, I highly recommend you do.

I spent part of the afternoon, on this glorious Divine Mercy Sunday,  watching a documentary on the original painting of Divine Mercy Jesus which was supervised by Saint Faustina.  She wanted the artist to portray Jesus just as she had seen Him.  Of course no painting can capture the beauty of our Divine Lord and Saint Faustina wept at the outcome.  Jesus was not disappointed; however, and informed Sister Faustina that the painting was a reflection of His Grace.

While gazing upon this original painting of Divine Mercy, I noticed how Jesus was surrounded by darkness.  His rays of Mercy shine forth through the darkness as He extends a blessing.  I thought about the fireflies.  In the light of day, fireflies are unnoticeable.  It is only in the black of night that these fireflies shine and sparkle the most.  In the same way, in our own darkness of sin we are called to trust in Jesus and trust in His Mercy.  We can feel Jesus best when we are at our weakest.  We can offer ourselves to Jesus most fully during our most sorrowful days.  It is in our weakness and in darkness that we find His Mercy; it shines forth and washes us with His Grace.

John 8:12 “I am the light of the world”, He said, “whoever follows Me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

Remember during your darkest days that He is there for you, and His light will show you the Way.  Never be afraid of the dark, trust in Him!

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

 

 

Grieving the Green-Eyed Monster

It was a beautiful day.  The kind of day that just brings a smile to your face when you first walk our the door.  My husband and I set out for a full day of insurance inspections on a beautiful, sunny March morning.  After over thirty years of marriage and many of that spent apart due to our different professions which required traveling; we appreciated the time we now spent working together.

The first inspection of the day was a home not far from our own home.  In just a few minutes we arrived and knocked at the door of a nicely kept brick home.  An older woman hesitantly opened the door and looked at us nervously with large brown eyes.  I quickly explained who we were and the purpose of our visit.  She smiled and walked outside, noticeably more at ease.  Her name was Vivian and she spent a few minutes answering our questions before we set out to take photographs and attain measurements.

Vivian was chatting with her neighbor when my husband and I stepped into her backyard and noticed a cute little building.  We had to ask Vivian if this was an apartment or just a cute storage shed.  She graciously walked over to her back fence and lovingly looked at the cute building in her backyard.  She explained that was indeed a storage shed and had stored flooring tools for her late husband.  “My husband was a floor man,” said Vivian.  “He laid flooring until the day he retired  I just don’t have the heart to clear out the shed.”  The smile left her face and her eyes welled up with tears.

My husband and I stood by quietly as Vivian began sharing her love story.  We learned that her husband was tragically killed in a car accident.  He kissed her good-bye one morning and never returned.  Tears were now streaming down her face as she relived that day.  There was a tremendous pain in her heart because she never saw him again.  She was told his body was too mangled and broken up.  The casket was closed, but her love and longing for him never did have closure.

Her eyes stayed on that shed, but her heart and mind was with her true love.  We told her we were so sorry for her loss.  She seemed to remember that we were there; she turned and looked at us and smiled through her tears.  I told Vivian that we were Catholics and we believed that our bodies do die, but the soul lives on forever.  She told us that she too was a Catholic.  My husband told Vivian that praying together as a family always helps us in our despair; especially praying the rosary.  She nodded and told him that she loved saying her rosary.  She wiped her face as she told us about her wonderful supportive family.

Her mood changed as she then told us that she had been married for 53 years!  Wow!  They had met at a dance.  Vivian’s face lit up as she recalled the day.  She said she had spotted him from across the dancefloor and told a friend with her, “That is the kind of man I want to marry!”  Her friend happened to know him and introductions were made.  She laughed as she described her late husband as her “green-eyed monster.”  She bragged that he had the most gorgeous green eyes and one big black brow.  The next time she was out, she saw him again.  That time she decided that she would get her “green-eyed monster”.

She was laughing, smiling, and crying all at the same time at these memories.  She got her green-eyed monster and had many happy years of wedded bliss.  She told us that they were never wealthy, but were comfortable and had a good life.

The smile left as she once again looked at his shed.  “I just want him to come home to me,” she cried.  “I don’t feel like living without him.”

It broke our hearts and we held back tears.  We had only just met this woman, yet we felt like she was family.  We wanted so much to ease her pain and take away her suffering, but that was impossible.  The love of her life was departed and she will hurt until she meets him on the other side.

I gently asked her how long had it been since her husband’s accident.  I was expecting her to tell me it had been a few months.  Her answer nearly knocked me over.  “Eight years.”, said Vivian.

EIGHT YEARS!  “Vivian”, I said, “you are living proof that love never dies.”  She laughed at that.  I asked her if she had any grandchildren and  found out that she had several.  I told her that she truly had a blessed life and with all the children and grandchildren the Lord had given her; she still had many blessings in her life.  She agreed.

We both thanked her for sharing her story with us.  She invited us to stop by and visit if we were ever in the area.  My husband told her that we would pray for her while saying our rosary and she smiled and thanked him.

After Vivian retreated back  into her home, my husband and I quickly and silently finished our job.  We climbed into our vehicle once we finished and finally allowed a few tears to fall.  She had touched us so deeply.  She had reminded us that life on this earth is short.  A husband and wife joined in holy matrimony is indeed a celebration of life and a blessing from God.  She also taught us that complete strangers can have such an important message, if one just takes the time to listen.

We drove to our next job holding hands.  I looked over at my wonderful husband and noticed how his green eyes sparkled.

 

Women March Madness

Women March Madness

I kept seeing the images on television and on the internet of thousands of women marching and protesting.  These were not women I knew.  They were angry and vulgar.  They shouted obscenities and mocked those with different opinions or values.  They wore costumes depicting private body parts and carried signs declaring their right to “healthcare” and reproductive “choices”.

As a woman, I was disgusted by the actions and hateful speech of these women.  These women ripped apart the dignity of womanhood and denigrated our special God-given gifts.  These were not women I knew.

I have known many great women in my life; women who gave everything for their families and loved ones.  Women who taught me about unconditional love and  self-sacrifice.  Women who taught me to have faith in God and to find Jesus in everyone I meet.

I have truly been blessed with the wonderful women with whom God has chosen to be apart of my life.  My mother put her nursing career on hold so that she could be at home and raise her four daughters.  For eighteen years, she lovingly cooked, cleaned, shopped, did laundry, carpools, and budgeting.  She and my father took us to mass every Sunday.  I witnessed my mom pray her rosary and read her bible.  She never wavered in her faith.

As a child, I did not look upon women who were housewives as “less” of a woman or of not meeting their potential.  It was rather the opposite.  I looked forward to the day that I would marry and have children and could be the best wife and mother I could possibly be.  Times changed, and although I was able to marry and spend some time being home with my babies, more often I worked outside of the home as a second income was needed.  My children are now all grown.  I treasure my memories of those years that my husband and I spent raising our daughter and two sons.

Over the years, I was very blessed to know and love many special and unique women.  There was my childhood neighbor, Mrs. Larson; my Girl Scout leader, Mrs. Gloria; my husband’s grandmother, Mama Nu; and my mother-in-law, Carmen.  These women and many more all had a special role in forming the woman, wife and mother I have become and also in forming the woman my daughter has become.

The women marchers would probably say I am old-fashioned.  They would argue that women are much more than a “wife” and “mother”; that women can have the world and should take whatever their heart desires.  These marchers are sadly mistaken.

The women who had the most influence on me were strong and independent, but also gentle and compassionate.  They took pride in their status as a wife, a mother and sometimes a grandmother.  What was done for their husbands, children and grandchildren was done with love.  There was no sacrifice too great.

I love being a woman.  I love being a wife, mother and grandmother.  It gives me great joy to love, support and encourage those around me.  I am not angry.  I never feel cheated.  I feel blessed.

“When a man marries, he gets the finest thing he will ever have – a wife to help and encourage him.” Sirach 36:24

C’est Bon

Love

Sherry

 

 

 

 

 

Listen Up Hollywood

61315428-meryl-streepWhen will Hollywood learn?  Just 12 days from the inauguration of a new president, Ms. Streep felt the need to take the stage and use her air time to lecture, rant and overdramatize the changes taking place.  These are not changes she wanted.  They are not changes most of her colleges and friends want.  Changes are happening because 62 million Americans voted for change.  Hollywood is in shock; Meryl Streep called it “broken-hearted.” Give me a break.

Since when is Hollywood the moral authority?  The majority of Hollywood are boasting about their diversity, tolerance, empathy for the human race and protection of the planet.  The truth is Hollywood has no diversity when it comes to political opinions and no tolerance for those of a different opinion.  Their empathy for their fellow man is only for certain races, ages, and professions.  The planet and animals are held in high regard; much higher than the unborn child (who can be killed if disabled), or the average hunter who has to provide for his family.

The two presidential candidates this past year were two very flawed individuals.  We are all flawed human beings.  There are no perfect people; that holds true for people in Hollywood.  A presidential election is about the policies and the vision of a candidate.  Campaigns are all smoke screen and mirrors.  We the ordinary people, have a hard time making sense of what is real and what is orchestrated.  Campaigns are managed and media reflections of campaigns are driven by secular ideology to promote certain political agendas.  It is all propaganda aimed at winning the election and fooling the masses.

There is no real “news”.  News organizations are biased and spin stories for ratings and swaying public opinion.  Never was this more obvious than this past presidential election.  One candidate drove the media crazy with blunt remarks and controlling social media sites and with that his message.  The other candidate ran a conventional campaign in collusion with news organizations to downplay her flaws while vilifying and mocking her opponent.

I am proud to say that the American people in the end took to the polls and voted on policies and the candidates’ vision for the direction of this country.  They refused to be bullied.  They refused to be intimidated.

Whether or not President-elect Trump will create jobs as promised and bring relief to the middle class remains to be seen.  As of this date, he has shown great respect for the office by working hard to establish a competent cabinet while also reaching out to corporate America to open a dialogue concerning American workers.  He has been extending olive branches and opening doors.  I think that says quite a bit regarding the kind of leader we have in the next president.

Hollywood should take notes, they have much to learn.

A Boy Named Heidi

A Boy Named Heidi

My grandson is seven.  A seven-year old knows the difference between boys and girls.  They have entered that “age of reason”, in which they question and try to successfully think for themselves.  They have formed opinions and know what they like and dislike.  Little boys for the most part still like hanging out with the boys.  Little girls with their quiet and “girlie” ways seem very foreign to a boy of seven.

My grandson is no different than other boys his age.  He likes Ninja Turtles, super heroes, speed boats and robots.  He started second grade last month basking in the carefree world of class time and playing with pals at recess.  Then something happened last week that stopped him in his tracks.

He got home from school one day last week wearing a most serious face and announced to his mother, “Guess what I found out today.”  His mother could not imagine what brought about such a long face on her happy-go-lucky kid.  He cried out, “MY NEW FRIEND IS A GIRL!”  She wanted to laugh, but her little boy looked devastated.  She held back the giggles and asked him what was the name of this new friend.  He replied, “His name is Heidi.”

My daughter grew up watching Shirley Temple movies.  They were a favorite at our house, especially “Heidi”.  So at first she was not understanding why her little boy had mistaken a girl named Heidi for a boy.  My grandson explained that he had not heard that name before and “besides, he looks like a boy and he talks like a boy!”, he explained.   She lovingly smiled and asked her son how after three weeks of playing with Heidi at recess, he had finally understood that Heidi was a girl.  He said matter-of-factly, “He told me he was!”.

She could hold back the giggle no longer.  Her son did not understand what his mom thought was so funny.  He found the entire situation to be humiliating and expected his mom to be outraged that her little man was the victim of a very serious con job.  He began to explain to his mom that this girl had a haircut like a boy.  “HE LOOKS LIKE A BOY!”, he insisted.  Mom told him that he obviously liked playing with Heidi and so he should continue to play with her at recess.  “And for goodness sake, stop calling HER a HE!”.

I love this story.  It lets me know that even with all the talk about “gender identity” and “gender confusion” by adults; children, in their innocence understand that we all are created male or female.  There are still stereotypes of what males and females look like and act like.  Heidi sounds like she is “tomboyish”.  She does not fit the stereotype, but she understands that she is a girl.  She is a girl who likes short hair and rough-housing with the boys at recess.

Unfortunately the world will try to shed our children and grandchildren from their innocence and the truth.  The truth is that everyone one of us is special and made by God in His image.  God does not make mistakes.  From the time we are conceived, our gender has been decided and cannot be reversed.

Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..”

 

 

His Eye is on the Sparrow

ginger leighToday’s Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34) reminds me of a painting I purchased from artist Ginger Leigh and her story behind the painting.

A couple of years ago I fell in love with a Ginger Leigh folk art painting of two sparrows.  Ginger graciously relayed to me the inspiration behind her sparrow art.  She told me that her mother and father are a part of her art team.  Her father puts together the wood pieces on which she paints, and her mother helps with the painting.  Working together has enriched their father-daughter relationship and made them especially close.

She went on to say that the previous year, her father suffered a heart attack.  Luckily it was mild and he fully recovered; but she told me when it first happened, she was very frightened.  While at the hospital and under a nurse’s care, Ginger heard her father explain to the nurse that God must have been watching over him.  The nurse recalled the words to the gospel song, “For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”  Her father enjoyed hearing those words and told the nurse that when he was young, his nickname was “Sparrow”.  Ginger was very surprised.  As close as she and her father were, she had never heard of that nickname.

The words of the song struck a chord with her.  She then researched the inspiration of the song and was inspired to create her lovely sparrow art.  Ginger told me that I should read the history of the song; she said it was a wonderful story.  I did – and it is!

The song was written by Civilla Martin in 1905.  Civilla and her husband were travelingin New York and stayed at a boarding house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle.  Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for about twenty years and her husband was confined to a wheelchair.  Despite their obvious afflictions, the couple was happy and a delight to be around.  Civilla’s husband asked the couple for their secret. Mrs. Doolittle simply replied: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”  Two days later, Civilla wrote a poem inspired by Mrs. Doolittle’s words.  These words were put to music by composer Charles H. Gabriel.

“Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart by lonely, and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy

I sing because I’m free

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.”

We often forget the words of Jesus: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

Jesus, I Trust in You!

C’est Bon,

Love,

Sherry