Friday, September 28, 2012

When You Are Too Sceptical to Pray

Too Sceptical to Pray

As much as I'm an idealist, I'm also a realist. The two clash but help me keep things in perspective. It often keeps me from taking a leap of faith.

I admit that my faith lacks. I can write all I want of beautiful prayers and harp songs and moving statements of faith. I can pray all day and night for my friends' requests, but I can become as sceptical as the atheist when it comes to asking favors through prayer.

It has nothing to do with trust.

It's because I'm scared, that's why.

It's because, as a parent, I know that sometimes the parent must say "No" or "Not right now" and I don't want to hear those words.

I know how sceptical I was when people told me of the roses they received when praying the St. Therese Novena. I was sceptical because I preferred sceptism to superstition.

What if, despite faithful prayer, you didn't receive a rose?

Would you lose faith?

What if You Don't Receive a Rose?

Would you lose faith in your prayers? Your God?
Should faith be confirmed through a rose?

Fear kept me from ever praying that novena to St. Therese. I did not want to pray a prayer where each day would find me looking for, hoping for, searching for something that proclaimed my prayer had been heard. That was too palpable to expect. Too tangible a denial to be felt. I preferred not to chance the hurt.

Faith was better left unseen.

I'd rather go pout in a corner and sulk. :-)

My Lack of Faith in Novenas

I've never had much success at praying novenas. Never.

I've tried. In the space of a heartfelt conversation, I have been the biggest advocate of praying a novena for a dear friend's intention. I've begun them with gusto only to watch them feathered away. Only to see them fail. every. single. time.

Because of my own lack of diligence.

My commitment and my faith towards prayer has been lost in the privacy of my room where no one could see, no one could hear, and no one would know my lack of faith and prayer.

Of course, I knew it wasn't the novena prayer that was the problem. It was my own lack of caring enough, my own lack of perserverance.

In June of this year, these things changed.

Prayer Mentors/ Warriors

We met to plan the homeschool graduation. For many of my friends this was their first graduate. For Karen and I it was our third graduate. Didn't make it any easir. In fact, I found the walk harder. More than half my children were escaping my tutelag and going out into the world. Days of life with children in the home were shortening and a shadow had been cast.

There was something else weighing on my heart which I had only shared with a handful of people. My son's girlfriend was pregnant. After the graduation walk, I let these eleven friends into my confidence in a private, personal way. In the landscape of emails, confessions and confidences tumbled from the satellites in space heavens and entered our homes and our hearts.

I was not alone. Never was.

A Fragrant Faith

One friend quickly suggested we begin praying for each other and all our intentions. And there were many, many intentions. We all agreed that our husbands, as the heads of our families, needed our prayers the most. On July 2nd we entrusted a novena to St. Joseph for our husbands and families.

Every morning my friend Michelle emailed a reminder for the daily novena. In August we turned our pleas to St. Maximillian Kolbe. In September we turned to Padre Pio for his intercession. This week we send a request to St. Therese to send roses, something I have never been brave enough to ask for. Too palpable. Faith turned fragrant.

Of course we were not praying for roses.

We prayed for wayward sons, ailing husbands, employment requests, marital problems, furtility and lack of, cancer calls, moving intentions, sick grandparents, friendships, pregnancies, and those eleven graduates we released into the world.

Even while dealing with a high risk pregnancy and high blood pressure issues which put her in the hospital and delivered her baby girl weeks early, Michelle kept sending out those daily emails. Even on the eve of delivery, knowing her baby daughter would come too early, yet too troubled to sleep, Michelle turned to prayer and did not fail to send out that regular novena alert.

And a habit developed for me at home.

I no longer had a baby waking me in the middle of the night. I had an aging dog.

Odd Bed Fellows & Odd Prayer Hours

I am the caretaker of an 18 1/2 year old family dog. We've had her since she was 6 weeks old and my recent graduate was 1 year old. The three older children rode with their daddy to select this new pet and she has been a faithful dog. When she goes, it will mark an end to my older children's childhood. Despite those children turning 25, 22, and 20; I still hate to see a headstone put on top of their childhood.

So every morning I awake between 2-3 AM to let Frenchie outside. She's still in pretty good form for her age but she's a lot slower and cannot hold her bladder they way she used to. We have no more carpet in the house but I have become religious about letting her make her morning walk under the starry sky.

Email Alerts from Heaven

Often around that same time, the internet satellite in space heavens send out an email alert into my inbox and, while I wait for Frenchie to finish sniffing around the cajun oak trees, I turn on my iphone and pray that novena prayer.

As I walk in the night air and pause to look from my patio at a sleeping world, it is clear to me that I am not alone. There are ten friends praying with me. They are praying for my family because they are all faithful prayer warriors, more faithful than I. These ten other ladies are dependent upon my prayers. They are hopeful that prayers are being said, trusting that a weak, sleepy friend will awake to pray for their children, their spouse, their parents, their pleas.

I awake. I pray.

The novena prayers are no longer a burden. They have become part of my vigil.

With the praying of these novenas comes the story of my first prayer rose.

 My First Prayer Rose

Last Friday my aunt/godmother passed away. She was 91 years old and lived a wonderful life and died hardly troubling anyone. On Saturday, Michelle sent out the first day of St. Therese's novena. I began the novena with the rest of my prayer team. I prayed for several intentions, directly referred to several as my dog took longer than usual to make her round.

I did not request a rose, did not expect a rose. I purposely avoided any mention of a rose.

I do not tend to be superstitious nor do I like superstition being linked with prayers to God. Superstition has no place where faith is. Still, this novena is so closely linked with roses and showers of them that even the most pious Catholic cannot help but think of it as she recites the novena.

Are maybe it's just me. So I have always skirted it warily and with some sceptism.

I don't mean to be wary or sceptical. I just am.

On Monday my family stood at the graveside, the service over, people standing to leave. I had not thought I'd be there. I had been summoned for jury duty that morning only to be told the evening before not to report until Tuesday morning.

God's providence.

Nanny Ruth's daughter-in-law turned to all present and announced that Nanny Ruth's wishes were not to have beautiful flowers, especially her favorite yellow rose, rot around her gravestone but for us all to receive them as a parting gift and enjoy the beauty of it. She would have wanted all her granddaughters and nieces and friends to take a yellow rose home with them to remember her by.

From heaven, my godmother and St. Therese were giving me roses. :-)

"After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved..." ~ St. Therese
A Parting Gift

It hit me in that brief announcement that my godmother was handing me a rose as her parting gift. My godmother was a part of my life, always there, always in the background, ever present. She desired that I leave her side with a rose.

She and St. Therese were in cahoots together.

I knew my own mother would make sure I had a rose in hand before I left but, as I turned, my husband and son approached me with small bouquets of roses. They had picked roses for each of their "girls". I was handed five. In my contemplative discernment I could not help but see each rose as the five intentions who are most dear to me in this life.

As my godmother exited this world, through her, St. Therese had indeed showered me with roses. They were the palpable assurance of my prayers heard and grace given.

{Thank you so much for reading and, if you can, would you please say an extra Ave for some of these prayer intentions. Some have a certain air of urgency surrounding them and an extra supply of prayers would not hurt. Thank you and God's blessings.}

A Recycling Web of Stories and Events

I firmly believe that we live in circles...cycles, if you will.

We are known to wallow in worry and forever live inside the witching hour when, in reality, nothing is happening today that has not happened before in history.

It's a cycle.

Like the seasons which blossom and live and wither and die, we live in an ever recycling web of stories and events.

Take for instance this quote my husband sent me the other day:

On May 23, 1857, in a letter to an American friend, Lord Thomas MacCauley wrote:

"A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for those candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies, always followed by a dictatorship. From bondage to spiritual faith. From faith to great courage. From courage to liberty. From liberty to abundance. From abundance to complacency. From complacency to selfishness. From selfishness to apathy. From apathy to dependency. And from dependency back again into bondage."

Sounds familiar?

All we have to do is open the Bible to know that people have always lived in times of bondage, faith, courage, liberty, abundance, complacency, selfishness, apathy, dependency, and slavery.

Of course I hate to witness the selfishness. Of course I hate to live in the apathy and dependency era. I hate even more to think of seeing my children and grandchildren live in bondage.

But there have also been times of abundance. The fruit has been plentiful and we've been grateful. I was raised by parents who lived in lesser times and shared an awareness of this cycle with me throughout my whole life.

I live in awareness and reality; not fear. I live knowing there will once again be abundance.

An abundance of mercy if nothing earthly.

I know the fruit must burst and die. The seeds must furrow and lie dormant.

Annie and I are still reading those beloved Little House books. I grew up reading those books and they taught me well that simple life can be a life well-lived. It is also good to remember that Laura's life was born during the Reconstruction. Not a pleasant time in our country's history.

She writes about prairie fires and the government making them leave their farm in Kansas. She records grasshopper plagues and Ma chasing, smashing, and shoveling dead grasshoppers into the stove. She laments having to walk to church dressed in her Sunday dress that "the grasshoppers had spit tobacco-juice on." She is honest about crop losses and Pa's debt on the new house. She writes about illness and a blind sister. She writes about the heat! Laura passed away in 1957. Air-conditioning was one invention she never benefitted from.

"The weather was very hot. The thin, high sky was too hot to look aat. Air rose up in waves from the whole prairie, as it does from a hot stove. In the schoolhouse the children panted like lizards, and the sticky pine-juice dripped down the board walls."

And this is all before The Long Winter!

Yet we complain while sitting in our air-conditioned houses with five boxes of cereal in our pantry and all our plugged in gadgets to occupy our time.

We complain how hot the summer is and how bored we are and how expensive everything is. We complain because we take it all for granted.

Laura's generation never did. They lived during the cycle of "from faith to great courage...from courage to liberty...from liberty to abundance."

Families, despite social and political upheaval, lived their lives, taught their children, fixed their food, and loved their God...independent on government despite government's constant actions to control.

{Photo credit:}
I know it's never clearcut. I know all about Robin Hood and the medieval days and what brought our founding fathers to America. Every generation is running away from something or someone. I'm not saying it's perfect or easy. What I'm saying is nothing is clearcut...and it never was.

There are lessons we have to relearn. They are hard, disagreeable, often distasteful lessons to learn but relearn them we must in order to truly appreciate them.

Everywhere I click I see blogs planting seeds of simplicity...simple living, simple gardening, simple farming, simple means. I've soaked these special places up. I've read lots. But they are often unrealistic. They write with the hand of  21st century wealth and convenience. I've looked around at my own cottage under these cajun oaks and thought of how these times should be lived simply despite the abundance. I'm not sure I can yet it's a constant aim.

We are mentally molested by the news media and Internet clippings. Those things are not of God.  They trap us. They panic us. They worry us. They ensnare us. They cause us to lose focus.

Let's keep things simple, including our view of what's happening in the world at large.

Remember that in all days and ways, amist the heated furor of government politics, simple folk simply lived their lives, taught their children, fixed their food, and loved their God.


Surely it starts at home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Remember Those Delicious Book Walks?

Remember those Book Walks we did way in the past at my older blog?

Annie sure did. ;-)

Margaret Mary Myers, myself, and recently hosted a book giveaway of Margaret Mary's new book at their site.

I was printing and cutting all of your comments into slips of paper when Annie entered the kitchen. I told her I needed her to draw two names as winners.

She instantly walked over to the cabinet door where Memomma's old stone bowl is housed and pulled it out.

Here she is when we first began these delicious book walks.

Gosh, we did so very many yummy book walks.

I think MeMomma's old cake bowl needs to be dusted off and tempting book offers need to be stirred up and served more often.

What about you?
The lucky winners for Margaret Mary Myer's new book were
Wanda and Stacey
They have been notified by email.
Thank you to everyone who participated and left a comment under the review.
Margaret Mary and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every one of them and hearing of your experience in getting to know St. Therese. :-)
Congratulations once again to our winners and stay tuned.
Annie is helping me whip up another book walk in time for All Hallow's Eve. ;-)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Peek Through the Cottage Window

Plans for this are slowly evolving.
A map is taking shape.
Excitement sparks imagination.
Ideas flow.
Grace is prayed for.
Guidance sought.
Reminded again today that life is neither perfect or predictable.
God is in control of the helm and His timing is always perfect.
* * * * *
{{Special thanks to Monica McConkey for the generous gift of
Cajun Cottage Press button. }}

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumn Warmth

Note to self: buy some pretty autumn throws to replace the peace sign, snowman, penguin, and Hello Kitty blankets strewn in my living area. That way it will have the warm, cozy look my hard-working husband intended it to have.

Then again there is a great deal of warmth found in peace sign, snowman, penguin, and Hello Kitty blankets. :-)
Praying that all my bloggy friends have a warm and cozy beginning of autumn.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Updating Catholic Mosaic Booklist

We are in the process of updating the yearly booklist for Catholic Mosaic and we sure could use your help.

Have you read a book that qualifies as a Mosaic book and that was published after Catholic Mosaic?

If you would let us know about it (title and book author) in the combox along with the date of the saint's feast day or the religious event taking place in the book.

We'd appreciate it ever so much!

Need these by the end of September.

Merci! and Happy Reading! :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Did You Have a Good Childhood?"

Our first nature walk of the school year was a roped invitation.
I had promised my 5th grader lots of nature study at the beginning of the school year.
My college student had an essay to write.
It was his invitation to accompany him on his assignment that led to our first excursion.
It was my delight to follow him.
Our original destination was Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Tx only to discover, as we tanked up the vehicle and discussed lunch plans, that it was closed on the day of our outing.
Plan B.
There is always a Plan B in our family. :-)

We had heard there was a relatively new boardwalk behind the Texas Information Center west of the Sabine River off Interstate 10. It makes for a short 20 minute drive and is perfect for a nature walk, nature study, and essay paper.

The day was golden.
It provided a chance to enjoy the autumn cool front, gather a harvest of sunshine...
A chance to walk without pesky mosquitoes...
A chance to walk surrounded by love (bugs)...
A chance to talk and wonder...
A chance to share with my son what I want for his son, my grandson...
A chance to talk...
Even more, a chance to listen...

When one becomes the parent of children in their twenties while still having a child in elementary, one realizes the moments are few and childhood is precious.
We have our children for 18 years.
The world and everyone else in it has them the rest of their lives.
The one question I had for my son this autumn day was:
"Did you have a good childhood, son?"
He answered, "Yes, yes, I did."
And the one statement I wanted to give him was:
"Because that's the one thing I want you to give my grandson...a good childhood."
The legacy of a good childhood is something that gets us through the bumpy potholes in life.
It's almost essential, and I see too many children having less than rich childhoods.
By "less than rich childhoods" I'm talking about something more than devices and wires and electronics. I'm talking about a life well-spent, a life with meaning.
From there I just listened and let him talk....
about his experiences,
about his childhood memories,
about his his dreams,
about his plans.
That's when I knew that the only thing I was able to give him, positively, was a good childhood.

Parents can't give their children much else and, as much as we give, the world takes.
The world will take and suck and deplete.
Childhood memories form a reservoir. Those memories make or break us.
And they save us.
So in the moment of this day, I reminded him gently that all his dreams, hopes, and plans for his life, as of this year, had to include a little shadow walking alongside him and that it was in his hands, his capability to pass on the light of a good childhood.
Shadows need not be gloomy, sinister beings.
Shadows are part of us and who we are.
Everyone has a shadow and we often don't make their acquaintance until the sun pops out and reveals them.
Shadows are not a bad thing at all.

They connect us to the earth and what truly matters.
My son will see this little shadow beside him everytime the sun shines upon him.
This walk gave us a chance to see how he could nurture those moments with his own son in an attempt to give his son a rich childhood.
We cannot guarantee our children a perfect childhood.
We cannot guarantee our children a safe future.
We cannot guarantee our children a good education.
We cannot guarantee our children a good job.
We cannot guarantee our children a stressfree life.
We can guarantee them moments of sun...nature walks that are free to everyone...predictable autumn cool fronts...parental support...a listening ear...
...and knowing that Plan B can be as good as Plan A. :-)
Shadows can provide cool, refreshing places as long as we look towards the sun.
Shadows teach us to look towards the sun for Light.
Shadows are part of God's providence.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review of "Little Saint Therese" by Margaret Mary Myers

A favorite saint of Catholic girls is St. Therese the Little Flower. This little saint is a good patron to share with our daughters, granddaughters, and goddaughters. There are plenty of “St. Therese”s and plenty of little books on this saint from Lisieux, France. Where do we start?
Catholic author Margaret Mary Myers gives us a simple book on this simple saint which is appropriate for the younger set of children in grades Kindergarten - Third Grade. It's a perfect introduction to the little way to heaven so young children are not overwhelmed by a life too noble or a sacrifice too great.
It is written in a simple style which makes it easy for mothers to read with non-readers, perfect for new readers, and engaging for older readers. Two features I like best of all are the 'Questions to Answer' found at the end of each chapter (an answer key is found at the back of the book) and that the author includes actual quotes spoken and written by St. Therese and her parents. Through her own thoughts and words, your child will hear about the childhood of St. Therese and her early formative years until she became a new nun. Though simple, the book reads as though St. Therese is speaking directly to your little reader.
The book's ending has a surplus offering of a prayer, a novena, a page to the parents, and a list of other book suggestions about St. Theresa. While not a picture book, this book does include simple clipart and it is perfect for early learners. Margaret Mary Myers has thought of everything in this little book to introduce children to this great saint.
With the school year beginning, now is a perfect time to take your child on a visit to the homes of the saints. St. Therese can start us on this 'little way' and this book is a great resource to begin your visitation.
If you're interested in ordering, go to and search for: "Little Saint Therese" by Margaret Mary Myers (ISBN: 9781620301388). Even the cost of the book is a "little" offering of $3.25. That's a wonderfully low price for a ticket into the home of a great saint. 
Hopefully Ms. Myers might consider doing more books like this one on the lives of other saints for our children to visit. You can visit the author's website at

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