Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Back to the Blog

It's been soooo long! But, by golly, I want to give this ol' blog another shot. 

It's been a long but fast year.  When I think back, I'm not sure where 2014 disappeared to.  We were on vacation in Colorado in April, went to Catholic Heart Workcamp in July, then Thanksgiving and Christmas were here and gone.  And I have very few pictures to jog my memory...not usual for me.

Married life has been great. My husband continues to grow in faith since his return to Church and it is very special to me to attend Mass with him. We have made an effort to spend some extra time together over this last year and it has helped us grow closer.  I am thankful for his love and support everyday!

Our daughter, Kayla became the store manager at the FYE store in a local mall. But they just recently found out they are going to close.  We are so proud of her for accomplishing all that she has and know she will take what she has learned to another employer and continue to build her career.

Our son, Hunter started his Junior year of high school. His schedule is heavy with some Advanced Placement classes, but he is a smarty-pants and does well. He knows it is important to work hard to accomplish his dreams.  We had a visit at Clarkson University to see if he would be interested in completing his senior year simultaneously with his first year of college.  It is a great program, but we opted not to do that. But we did find out how much we love the Computer Sciences department at Clarkson.

Work has become even more crazy, busy over this year. There is SO MUCH going on in healthcare these days, it is hard to keep ahead of it. And often times I feel like I am barely keeping up. Two of our primary care practices were re-recognized and Patient Centered Medical Homes, and we are currently in the submission process for five more of our primary care practices to be recognized also as Medical Homes. Between all the government quality programs, it really takes a lot of work to stay up with it all. And thank God I have a great team.

I had the opportunity to attend a Leadership Academy at Cornell University in collaboration with HANYS (Healthcare Association of New York State). It was a six week course with two on-site, three full lecture days at Cornell.  It was a great experience and I learned so much. I am very thankful that my organization chose me to attend and sees a leadership future in me.

Christmas was very nice this year. We had some really nice family time with our NY family, but missed our Colorado and Germany family very much.  We are planning another vacation to Colorado next summer and hope we can coordinate it with our Germany families visit again. 

And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't include some pictures...

The best part of Christmas morning was Hunter's present to Kayla. He had the idea to disguise his gift (an Alex & Ani bracelet) in a big box with a log.  He then composed a letter to her telling her how the gift could provide her with much warmth. And Mr. Smarty-pants that he is, went into detail about BTU's and whatnot. Then the gist of the letter was the best way to keep warm with this one log was to walk upstairs with it, toss it out of a window, then run back downstairs and retrieve the log, and repeat as often as necessary to stay warm.  It was hilarious listening to Kayla read it between giggles, and just as fun to watch Hunter with it.  It may not seem that funny, but it is kind of a family joke about how much Hunter knows about energy (and other things) and how much the rest of us don't. It was great to laugh like that with all of us.

Our religious education classes and their families get together on the first Sunday of Advent and make an advent wreath.  This was mine and Hunter's.  It is always amazing how they start out as a pile of branches and a Styrofoam circle and they turn into beautiful creations, no skill required, just the beauty of nature that God gave to us to enjoy.

Well, I will call that a good start back to blogging and hope that you get a little entertainment out of my blog. 

Here's to a blessed 2015!

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

7QT about Books, Music, Prayer, etc.

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During our family trip to Colorado we stumbled upon a store I had never heard of. It’s called Family Christian. As the name indicates it is a Christian store they had all kinds of different things for sale. I ended up purchasing a t-shirt for our neighbor girl who took care of our animals while we were away. It is somewhat difficult to find Christian stores so I am excited to visit their website when I next need a gift or bible or anything really. Click the picture above to take you to their website. They have a reward program called 1:27 which references James 1:27 that calls us to serve orphans and widows. Here are some of things they have accomplished, it is pretty impressive.

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One of the perks of Family Christian is their daily $5 deals. While we were there I purchased a Matt Maher CD and found my new favorite song: All the People Said Amen. It’s upbeat and refreshing and makes sing at the top of my lungs alone in my car.

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Travelling back from vacation I finished one of the best books I have ever read. It is called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is an incredible story of learning to recognize and be thankful for the gifts that God gives us everyday. And how that leads to joy in the midst of the everyday craziness in our lives. I highly recommend it. I have begun my own gratitude journal and am excited to be more attentive to God's gifts in my life. The author blogs at AHolyExperience.com.

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Recently my husband and I started praying Vespers (Evening Prayer) together each night. We also found a beautiful prayer via an app call Laudate. The prayer is called Prayer for a Married Couple. It goes like this:
O God, we want to live our life together with you and always to continue it with you.
Help us  never to hurt and never to grieve each other.
Help us to share all our works, all our hopes, all our dreams, all our successes, all our failures, all our joys and all our sorrows.
Help us to have no secrets from each other so that we may be truly one.
Keep us always true to each other, and grant that all the years ahead may draw us closer to each other.
Grant that nothing may ever come between us and nothing may ever make us ever drift apart.
And as we live with each other, help us to live with you, so that our love may grow perfect in your love, for you are the God whose name is love.
This we ask for your love's sake. Amen 

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So while we were wondering around a mall with our daughter in Colorado, we stumbled upon something intriguing. There was a Catholic resource center and a chapel right there in a store in the mall.

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When you've been away from work on vacation for a while you never know what kind of pile of work you will return to. It wasn't to bad that first couple of days, however this week was a different story. Lots of different things going on this week including a huge project that we are in the middle of that required a lot of reporting and data collecting and meetings. Anyway, I came back refreshed and full of ideas again, which tends to happen when I'm not immersed in the day to day tasks that have to be done. So I am hopeful that I can keep myself focused enough to get some of those ideas implemented. We will see.

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I got my copy of Something Other Than God. I can't wait to read it. Obviously if you reading this from the Conversion Diary site you know all about it, but if you aren't it is the conversion story of Jennifer Fulwiler and her search for happiness. You can purchase it at many places, but this is the link to Amazon.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

{7QT} Mostly about Vacation

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We booked our tickets for our family trip to Colorado this week! Yay! I am so excited. It has been 4 years since we have been there, and you see that is where all of my family is. We live so far away from each other it just isn’t possible to travel very often. We will be gone for just under two weeks, from Thursday before Holy Week through Tuesday after. I will greatly miss being at my own parish for the Holy Week services and the Easter Vigil, but this trip is important and the timing works out for several reasons.

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One of the reasons it is good timing is that my baby sister and her family is also going to be there from Germany. I am so excited to finally meet her husband and her youngest baby boy. She and her baby girl were here with us in the fall of 2010 for a little while when her husband was oversees. The baby was only 6 months old. They then moved to Germany and had another child. I can’t wait to see them all.

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We will be staying with my step mom and dad and I am excited to get to spend time with them. I also can’t wait to spend time with my other sister and her kids. It will be good for all of us.

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I am also looking forward to catching up with a few friends from my childhood. One of them was one of my best friends. She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m looking forward to potentially attending Holy Week and Easter services with her and her family. You see I don’t think she knows that I am Catholic now.

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Recently my husband has come back to his Catholic faith. It has been an amazing thing and he has really shown me that he wants to grow in his love for God and learn more about the Catholic Church. He has been attending Sunday and daily Mass with me and it has been such a blessing for him and for us. He is prepared to attend Mass in Colorado with me which is something that we have never done before on our visits. I am looking forward to it.

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My son will be attending the Regional Robotics Challenge in Virginia in a couple weeks. He is excited about it, but I am little nervous about him traveling so far away from home. So he will be missing some school for that and then he will also be missing a few days for our vacation. Lucky for him that he is doing really well this year so when I spoke to his counselor, she wasn’t that concerned about him missing a few days. Unlucky for him, is that I may have just instigated some homework for him on vacation. Oh well, it is still worth it.

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How is your Lent going? I am hoping that you all are having lots of time for prayer and reflection. Like I said in my last post, I am praying daily for those I love, those I work with, those I worship with and those bloggers out there that I read, especially all of you that are expecting little ones. I haven’t done well with finishing reading the Pope’s exhortation or the Screwtape Letters, but I still have a little time. Wishing you all many blessing this Lenten season.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent 2014


We begin 40 days of sacrifice, reflection, penance and prayer tomorrow.
These are my plans:
To read the daily reflection in “The Word Among Us”
Offering up a Hail Mary for everyone I love, everyone I work with, everyone I worship with, and all those bloggers out there that have come to be a part of my life
Attend daily Mass at my own parish on Wednesday evenings followed by Eucharistic Adoration
Finish reading the Pope’s Evangelii Gaudium
Try to finish The Screwtape Letters (that I didn’t finish last year)
I will probably do other things, but this is a good start.
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

St. Brigid of Ireland: February 1

St. Brigid of Ireland is my patron saint.

I choose her in 2002 when I became a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church.

I thought I would post what I had written 12 years ago about her.  See, two years prior I had just found my biological father. 

Here is what I wrote:

I choose St. Brigid because I have found some of my ancestors, including my great-great grandmother were from Kildare Ireland where St. Brigid was abbess of a monastery. Also one of here stories told that she settled with seven other virgins at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time. She took the veil in her youth at Croghan. 
My ancestors from Ireland are named Croghan.
 I felt a connection to St. Brigid when reading her stories.  I could picture an ancestor in her time seeing or experiencing God's grace through her, or even just running into her from time to time and sharing a smile or a hello.
 Her extraordinary spirituality and compassion are admirable to me and make me want to strive to be more like her.
I had wished that it was a daily Mass day today, but not this year.

** Linking this up with equippingcatholicfamilies.com for their Celebration of Saints Linkup.

Equipping Catholic Families

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Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Where I Talk About Healthcare

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Some of you may know that I work in healthcare. Lately, I have been a little stressed out about the MANY government regulations and incentive programs that I will have to lead our organization in implementing this year. It really is overwhelming, but I had the opportunity to go to a conference last week with other practice managers and was lucky to have met some great people. We have been in contact and I look forward to future networking with them. For support and advice and just plain to vent to people who know what I am talking about. It relieved some of my stresses, but the fact is that all the work still needs to be done.

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Do me a favor, when you visit your doctor, keep in mind that all they really want to do is take care of you and your families. I know the perception is that doctors just want to make a buck, but in my experience, they have worked really hard to gain the skills needed to provider good quality care. At one time, they were rewarded for their hard work with great incomes like a lot of other professionals are. That has changed. I’m not saying doctors don’t make good money, but the reality is that the government has put so many requirements and regulations and programs into place that they have to participate in or their payments get cut. It has actually made it really difficult for them to focus on patient care when they are trying to remember if they selected the correct code, if they checked the right box in the electronic medical record or if they made sure to ask you what language you prefer and for God’s sake do not forget to send that prescription electronically, lest it count against them. Don’t get me wrong I think having programs that do look out for patient care and the quality of the care they are getting is important. But the enormity of and the amount of regulations and programs is just a bit overwhelming.

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There is a blog I read called Kevin MD. Dr. Kevin posts many blog posts that he writes, but also many guest posts by other physicians. Every now and then I find one that captures my attention. There are some really great, caring, and compassionate physicians out there. I thought I would share a couple recent posts that I liked.

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This first one is titled “The greatest miracle a physician is privileged to be a part of”. It is a beautiful story of how “A Country Doctor” is reminded of the miracle of pregnancy and child birth. I hope you enjoy it.

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This second one is post by a physician who began to understand what it is like for patients when they are faced with medical issues. She sees that there so much confusion and uncertainty in the middle of life changing illnesses. It humbled her and she has dedicated her blog to helping people understand how hospitals work, and what can be done for a better patient experience by everyone in healthcare. It is titled "Recognize the blessings that you previous overlooked".  The author blogs at "In White Ink".

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This one is really good and accurately reflects what we see every day at our practices. I have read other posts by Dr. Rob Lamberts before, he is an interesting guy. He blogs at "Musings of a Distractible Mind". Anyway, this post is about empathy and how he recognized how patients react and describe pain based on how they have been treated before.

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It wasn’t my intention to do a whole 7 takes on healthcare, but I might as well finish it off since I’m at #7. I am certainly not a politician, and I won’t pretend to know much of the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obamacare), but what I do know is that the simple fact that all people deserve healthcare, is not solved by the creation of health insurance programs. Having health insurance and getting healthcare are two completely different things. I’m not a fan.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mary, My Mother

This is the actual statue in my parish.
My parish is a St. Mary’s parish.  Each Sunday, I look up at Mary as she stands protective over her precious son in the tabernacle. Our choir sings a beautiful rendition of the Hail Mary at the end of communion each Sunday; it is beautiful and pulls me into such a peaceful place as I pray having just received the body and blood of my savior. For a little while now I had wanted to do something to help me along the path of devotion to Mary.  I wanted her to show me that she is there for me as a mother.  I have mother issues and I really just wanted to know that I can turn to her when I feel like I need to know a mother’s love. 

In early November, the parish where I attend daily mass sponsored a spiritual exercise called Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.  It is a 33-day self-guided retreat using one of two provided books throughout the thirty three days to prepare yourself to make an act of total consecration to Jesus through his mother Mary.  I was anxious to participate in this exercise because of my recent desire to be closer to her.   

The book we were given to use is by Fr. Hugh Gillespie, SMM which is the preparation according to St. Louise De Monfort.  We had another option, but this one struck me immediately and I felt like it was the one I needed to use. 

I went through each day’s reading with pretty regular devotion. (I think I only fell behind a couple days at one point, but I caught up).  The date set up to make the consecration was on December 12th, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I prayerfully went through the thirty-three days in hopes that I would feel that my devotion to Mary was growing.  The thing is I didn’t really feel like it was. 

Through this time I was very drawn to praying the Hail, Holy Queen.  For those of you who might not know it, here it is:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee we do cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up pour sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus; O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.  Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

I had met with the pastor for a few minutes earlier in the week and in the conversation had told him that I didn’t know if I was going to make the Act of Total Consecration because I didn’t feel I had made much progress towards Mary.  He said to me that he thought that was pretty normal and at the time I was having him bless my new rosary, he said if I keep using these, it would come.  He was right.

It took a little longer than the December 12th date, but I now have a much deeper devotion to Mary.  I am still working on it, but over the last couple of weeks she has shown me how much she is there for me.  I recently placed a request in her hands via praying the Memorare, and it became clear to me she is here for me.  The Memorare if you don’t know it:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, That never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought they intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O virgin of virgins, my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.

I continue in my search and want for a closer devotion to Mary, but I know now that I am on the right path.  I look forward to all the times to come when she will show me that she is there for me, that she will intercede for me to her blessed son Jesus Christ.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

oooppppsss... I was supposed to give away my second copy of "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic"

Back in November, I had mentioned that I had an extra copy of Matthew Kelly's The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.  And somewhere between the holidays, I forgot. 

So today as I was still picking up and moving the furniture back into place, I realized I still had it. 

I put the names that commented on that post on a piece of paper and drew one.  The lucky winner is my step mom.  I will be getting it in the mail to you tomorrow, ok?

Sorry about the delay!

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 in Photos

Dwija over at House Unseen is hosting her annual phone linkup for the year.  I love to look back at the photos from the year, so I thought I would add mine.  2013 was a great year for me, let me show you a few of the reasons.
This is pretty much how the beginning of any year around here is.  It was a pretty major snow storm but it was so beautiful, I had to stop and take pictures.  I used this for a Theme Thursday post.
This was my picture for my one and only "What I Wore Sunday" linkup.  However, I wanted to include it because it was what I wore to the Easter Vigil Mass.  Lent and Easter 2013 was an amazing period of spiritual growth for me.  It was also when I began attending daily Mass, which I haven't stopped attending since.  My original WIWS post is here and I included some thoughts about this Lent and Easter in this post.
Shortly after Easter, the parish where I attend daily Mass hosted a Forty Hours of Eucharistic Devotion.  The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for Forty Hours and was kept vigil by various parishioners and priests throughout the Forty Hours.  It was an amazing thing to be a part of.  In this Quick Takes post, I talked about being a part of it.
 At the end of April, my son Hunter was Confirmed.  I also got to be the sponsor of a girl that hasn't had the easiest life.  At her young age, she has had to deal with the loss of her mother and many close relatives and friends due to untimely deaths. I was honored to be able to be present for her and still hope she knows that I will always be here for her.
 This weekend in May was our last Formation for Ministry Retreat as students.  It was a beautiful time to spend with my classmates and the icing on the cake was that it was led by the same priest that brought me into the Catholic Church.  That fact made this weekend extra special for me. Thank you Father Lauzon for your guidance twelve years ago and for the beautiful retreat to bring our two years of formation to a close.  I wrote a small amount about it here.
And, by the way, these beautiful photos were taken by one of our youngest classmates.  He is an inspiration to me and gives me hope for the future of our young people.  Thank you Jesse, for letting me use them.
 These are photos from our Commissioning to Lay Ministers.  The group photo is not the official one obviously, but it is my favorite because everyone was laughing and smiling.  Even the Bishop was laughing with us.  I've said it a few times, but we have the best Bishop!  On the right is me with the other two ladies from our parish that went through the program, along with our priest.  My original post is here and also includes some comments about the next photo.
 This is the group photo from the 2013 Catholic Heart Work Camp trip in July.
This trip is always a blessing to me.  To get to see so many young people spend a week of their summer helping others less fortunate then themselves and then come back and spend hours in praise and worship of God.  It really is a life changing week, and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of it for the last three summers. My reflection from the week is here.
 This was from the closing Mass at one of our sister churches.  In its early days and over the years, this parish was the start up for many of the other parishes in our area.  I was honored to be able to photograph the event.  It was one of the saddest things, but also one of the most beautiful things I have experienced.  This post includes more of my pictures from the closing Mass.
My Hunter in the Kayak...isn't he cute?
 Me and my kiddos!
 Hunters first day of 10th grade.
 A nice family day together!
 And to finish it off, these from Christmas!  Including the new kitten, Otto.
 **EDIT: So crazy me forgot to link back to the linkup - go check out all the best at Dwija's.
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