Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hold on tight

I went to adoration a couple of weeks ago, and I was feeling and also praying at my wit's end about a few things. The Lord spoke so beautifully to me in prayer that night that I have been wanting to share it ever since. I hope that what He gave me encourages some of you as well.

First of all, though...poor Jesus! When I finally get a chance to go to adoration, I am pretty much always at my wit's end about something. I know it's not supposed to be that way with prayer. But until spiritual maturity kicks in...Lord have mercy.:)

Anyway, I had grabbed a Bible on the way in, and I finally sat back in my chair, picked up the Bible, and told Jesus, "I need you to talk to me today. I'm about to open this Bible and I want you to tell me what to do about all of this." 

Of course I then had to go and add something like, "Because you know it's a miracle that I'm able to be out alone and at adoration by myself and so my precious time with You needs to count and blah blah blah..." I know. Yikes. Poor Jesus. But, again, until spiritual maturity kicks in...the Lord is so merciful. And I think he accepted my immediate apology after that little speech. Because I opened to this:

"Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good." -Romans 12:9

This simple passage spoke powerfully to the exact crosses and struggles that I had been praying about.

"Hate what is evil." Struggle itself is not evil. Sin is evil. It's easy to hate what is hard or painful for us, but we have to save our hate--our righteous anger--for sin, starting in ourselves. So often the crosses and struggles He permits us give us opportunities to identify and reject sin in ourselves. I needed to hear that again. Also, sinfulness in other people is what we should "hate"--not the people themselves. When I pray about my own struggles, I need to also pray more faithfully for the souls of any others involved, most especially when those people are struggling with sins of their own. 

"Hold on to what is good." How encouraging and helpful this short little sentence is to me. I've got to hold tightly to my faith, first and foremost, and I can't allow myself to lose hope or to despair about things. Close behind, I must hold on tightly to thankfulness for the "good" of my many, many blessings. Remembering what is actually good about a person or a situation, and sometimes being honest about what is actually going well in my life, can put things into perspective for me so much. 

The closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy has been especially helpful for me very often this past year, which has probably been the most difficult year of my life so far. It is worth committing to memory. In moments when I realize I need to surrender a cross or a struggle all over again, I always pray this prayer. At least for me, it just says everything I need it to in the moment, every time.
"Eternal Father, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion is inexhaustible, look kindly upon us, and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we may not despair or become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself." 
Probably every sweet soul who reads this post is going through a rough patch somewhere in his or (more likely:) her life. From one child of God to another, I encourage you to hold on tight with me to our faith. Pray that closing prayer to the Chaplet and let God center you again on the truth that he is solid, faithful, and is working everything in your life together for your good. With Divine Mercy Sunday coming up this weekend, let's pray for one another to open our hearts even more to the Divine Mercy and the plentiful graces He sends us to live a holy life. 

Jesus, I trust in you! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Oh, that Southern charm

If you've never been to West Feliciana parish in the spring, you ought to put it on your bucket list. It is truly a gift to visit this beautiful part of the state. I haven't been in a couple of years, and I was thrilled this past Friday to be able to take Michael and the kids to see St. Francisville.

A friend of mine from Houston, Mary Lou, just moved to St. Francisville with her family, and she was able to meet up with us for lunch and some sightseeing. I think it's safe to say she was completely enchanted with the area. We only went to Afton Villa Gardens this year, since small children prevent one from being too ambitious with this sort of outing. Even though the mansion burned down years ago, the grounds and gardens are well, well worth the visit. The children had a wonderful time running free and exploring, as you'll see. I would love to live in a place this lovely one day.

I should warn you that there are a lot of pictures. Michael took most of these. This was his first time to St. Francisville, and I think you will be able to see why he got so camera-happy. He was charmed.:) 


Gabe and Faith just ran and explored everything. It was a pleasure to watch them.

My friend, Mary Lou, and her PRECIOUS baby boy, Joseph, who is Gianna's age.

They just sat down next to each other like this and soaked in the beauty...for about 15 seconds.

Faith was so proud of the "treasure" she found on the ground

The plants on each side of the path are yellow tulips. We came a few weeks too late to see the tulips and azaleas at their peak. Can't you imagine though how beautiful this part of the path would be with rows and rows of golden tulips on either side of it?

Now THAT'S an old wisteria.

Mary Lou's husband, Bronson, was able to stop by for a few minutes with us.

Now that's a view I wouldn't mind having.

I love azaleas. 

Repeat above caption...
Old live oaks with Spanish moss hanging down like beards

Those Southern planters sure knew how to make a driveway

I am kind of silly this way, but I like to get photos of just Michael and I when I can. I wish I would have thought to have the whole family take a photo here. How lovely. 

We were trying to go for romantic "dip" shot, but I think I am too ticklish...

A shot as we were leaving the property. Until next time, then. :) 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Let the good times roll

Just a photo roundup of recent family events: my sister Shannon's Match Day in Shreveport a couple of weeks ago, and also a fun family reunion party last Saturday at Michael's aunt and uncle's home on Lake Ponchartrain...enjoy! :)

Gabe has been asking us to go fishing for months and months. It's just one of those little kid things when they get an idea into their heads and fixate on it. My dad found two little fishing poles for Gabe and Faith, and Michael set them up fishing off Uncle T's pier at the party--their first fishing experience! Gabe caught a 15" catfish (which we threw back, of course) and was quite proud of himself!
Hanging out and eating petit fours (my favorite!). Gabe is extremely loving and sweet with Gianna. He even flirts with her in Baby Talk, just like I do. So cute. 

My brother in law, Dr. Jeff, and Gabe. Gabe and Faith (and Gianna now too) love crawfish. 

I need to get this little fish a swimsuit! She had to borrow one of her cousin's. She's got her mother's fair skin tone, though, so I'll be looking around for a suit this year that will cover up her baby skin from the sun. (Any suggestions?)

My sister in law, Shell, looks this beautiful in every single picture she takes...she below...:)

I surely love my cute sister-in-law. She's such a love. 
Switching gears now...on to my sister Shannon's Match Day a couple of weekends ago. We had such a good time, and we are thrilled to bits that she matched to New Orleans, since that means she and Myles will only be an hour or so away from us.

Margaritas for happy hour at Superior Grill after Shannon's Match Day: My cousin Liz, my brother Ryan, me, Shannon, Michael, and my sister Rivers is kneeling in front of us

The Happy Couple:) I think I had already downed my frozen pomegranate margarita by that point. Probably why I look extremely happy and relaxed here...

Rivers, Ryan and Michael

Gianna with her godmother, the soon-to-be Dr. Shannon Palombo. Considering who Gianna is named after, I think it's so beautiful how Michael and I asked Shannon and Michael's brother Chris, an anesthesiologist, to be godparents. We didn't plan to have Gianna's name and her godparents have such a special connection--it just felt right and ended up being pretty neat, I think.:) 

My grandfather, Tom Berryhill, and my brother Ryan. We had dinner at a delicious, upscale pizza place called Frank's. It was great to have Paw Paw be able to be with us for the weekend. He is so proud of all of his grandchildren, and tells us so all the time.

Shannon reading out where she matched--LSU New Orleans in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics! She is going to be a wonderful physician. 

My cousin Liz, me, and Shannon at Superior Grill

We ended up stopping in Natchitoches on the way home from Shreveport. We went to see my sister Rivers (who goes to school there, at least for the next month or so:) and we ran into a little street fair where a local charity was releasing butterflies. It was a sweet little afternoon of unexpected fun. I hardly even remember the kids all melting down into wild things on the way back to the van. We had skipped naps to take them to the fair. They all fell asleep in 12.4 seconds once we got back on the road. Michael and I really enjoyed the ride back to Baton Rouge from there. We had some good hang-out time talking in the car all the way home. It was a little taste of those old college road trips when we talked for hours and dreamed big dreams and just enjoyed each other's company.

Oh, what is that I hear? A little boy waking up too early from his nap and calling for his mother to come to his side at once...

And so I think I'll leave the rest of the captions I wanted to write unwritten, and the edits I spotted unedited. I will say that little prayer that I say to myself before I go in to get the children out of bed in the morning or just as naptime is ending and they're all waking up. Lord, I'm here. Help me today to be a cheerful and willing servant to my family. 

Peace to each of you!