Planning and Preparing

Will you be ready?

Will you be ready?

Are you planning a backyard Fourth of July party?  Did you plan a graduation party?  How about a wedding, a baby shower, a wedding shower, a retirement party…or even the annual birthday party?  Without fail, at some point this year all of us will be planning something!

And that something will take preparation!  And from experience, I know preparations for ‘events’ take hard work, require plenty of time, and above all…you need to be flexible!

If it rains, do we have an alternative venue?  What food should I serve?  What time?  Who to invite?  How many to invite? What day do we have it?  And then there are the lists of groceries to buy, the never-ending ‘to-do’ list, the who-drinks-what list,  who-is-allergic-to-what list, entertainment activities…the list seems to be endless.

All of the above occurred when my daughter planned her son’s 6th birthday party.  In the end, after hours of discussion and explaining how other parents hold them at bowling alleys, Chuckie Cheese, movie theatres, skating rinks…to name a few… she opted for an in-home ‘old fashioned’ type of party.  She served pizza, the obligatory cake and ice cream, hit the piñata, pop the balloons, open the presents…and then go play in the backyard type of party.  They had a great time, and my daughter did it with half the stress.

My family is holding a 65th wedding anniversary party for our parents this weekend.  My brother and sister-in-law just held a High School Graduation pool party.  My daughters planned a beautiful baby shower for their brother and sister-in-law.  If we are not throwing a party, we seem to be planning a trip to go to a party, or a vacation, or a meeting.

We seem to be in a perpetual state of preparation and anticipation!  Our eyes are on the clock, the calendar, the mounds of clothes yet to be packed, the chores that need to be finished, the food yet to be baked.

And yet, how many of us spend time preparing for the greatest event of all?

In John 14:3 Christ promised, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

If He came today – would you be ready?

Have you handed back the treasures God gave you to others  or have you hidden them away? Have you taken the gifts God gave you at birth and used them to teach others about Him?  Have you looked into the eyes of God’s other children and found their worth?  Have you thanked God for this world, and tried to make it just a little bit better?  Were you flexible enough, humble enough, to ask for help instead of going it alone?  Were you able to forgive not only others but yourself when you came up short.  Did you remember to praise God daily in your actions, words, and thoughts?

Christ is preparing a place for us, just as we prepare a place for others when we plan all the events that comprise our lives. The difference is our event is temporary and over quickly.  His ‘event’, our entrance into His Kingdom, will be for eternity.

Are you ready?

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Quinoa with Spice-Roasted Shrimp and Pistou


This was an amazing dish! Even my meat and potatoes guy loved it. Perfect dish for Good Friday.

Originally posted on :

I was craving shrimp recently when I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine.  The green-hued, herb-flecked quinoa stopped me in my tracks, and I knew I had to make this ASAP. If you haven’t had quinoa before, you will find that it is a great, healthier replacement for rice in many recipes.  Hailed as probably the best plant-based source of protein, it has a delicate nutty flavor that pairs nicely with just about anything.

It was such a hit in my house that I have made it a few times since, and it will definitely be in regular rotation.  Pistou is easy to make and freezes well, so you can make a big batch of it, pop it in the freezer, and then take it out when you are ready to use it.  I also used a nice smokey pimenton (from World Spice here in Seattle)…

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Help Alex…an Amazing Teen

Alex collage

Alex Berube is in need of your help.

You don’t have to go anywhere, buy anything, call anyone, or even get up off of your chair.  What you need to do is click-through the link below to read her blog and see what she has been through  these past two years, read her incredible journey, and then click-through to the Vote For Alex page listed.  In her mother’s words:

On 2/2/12, Alex Berube woke up to a day like every other. A beautiful, healthy 14-year-old, who had never been sick a day in her life, usually just jumped out of bed to start her day. By 7:15 that morning, Alex was laying on the floor, unable to move anything from her waist down”. 

Two years later she has YET to catch a break. Alex had contracted a very rare condition known as ‘Transverse Myelitis Syndrome‘ More surgeries, more disappointments, more pain…but she never complains.  She wants to help others out.

For THAT she needs YOUR help.

Today,  on her Facebook page, Alex’s mom wrote:

“Please take a moment to read what our page is about and hit the pinned post to read Alex’s story and to vote. We are trying to win this van for her so she can have a better life, an independent life. Alex is a girl with different abilities than us walking folks, but that’s where the difference ends. She wants to hang out with her friends, go to college, work in the health care profession and share her story. Become an inspiration to those having a tough time and to teach no matter what abilities we have or don’t have, we basically are all the same. Even if she wasn’t my daughter, I would be inspired by this girl. She is amazing! Thanks for joining and helping us out!”

Like the ‘Vote For Alex’ Facebook page.  Every day when updating  your Facebook status remember a young girl whose life now revolves around a wheelchair. VOTE FOR ALEX! You can place one vote every day until the contest ends in May.  Three winners will be chosen to receive a handicapped van for mobility.

YOU may be the one to put the vote count over the top.  YOU may be the one to help Alex ‘catch a break’.   Your vote will make a difference in Alex’s life.

Let’s get Alex a van! God bless all of you for taking a few minutes each day to help Alex.

 Visit Alex’s blog @

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Happy St. Joseph’s Day


As a Polish-American great-granddaughter of immigrants from the northern coast of Poland we have always celebrated the Feastday of St. Joseph.  He is our go-to-saint for everything associated with  family.

He was the head of the Blessed Family.  He was the provider for Our Lord Jesus and Mary, our Blessed Mother.  He was a carpenter, a husband, a father, and the man who presided at the head of the table during mealtimes and prayers.  He suffered through the mundane minutea of daily life. I am sure he experienced every emotion known to man: worry,  sadness,  discouragement,  happiness, and even fear yet he shouldered the burdens of his young family without complaint. He knew exactly how demanding life can be within the confines of ‘family‘.

I know St. Joseph watches over my husband and family because he totally empathizes with the problems faced by families today.  He will hear our prayers, and will answer them.  As St. Teresa of Avila said “I know by experience that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” 

I too believe this.  Enjoy today, and when the day is done – say a quick thank you to St. Joseph on his feastday.

Prayer to St. Joseph

O blessed Joseph, faithful guardian of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, protector
of thy chaste spouse, the virgin Mother of God, I choose thee this day to
be my special patron and advocate and I firmly resolve to honor thee all
the days of my life. Therefore I humbly beseech thee to receive me as thy
client, to instruct me in every doubt, to comfort me in every affliction,
to obtain for me and for all the knowledge and love of the Heart of Jesus,
and finally to defend and protect me at the hour of my death. Amen

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The Justina Pelletier case: Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future – Metro – The Boston Globe

March 17 is the next chance for the parents to gain access to their daughter.  Please lend your voices to support their efforts.  As parents we all need to know that the state CANNOT take away our children because they think they know best…the doctor at Tufts is the parents choice of doctors.. Return Christina to CT and her family.  Massachusetts Court and Boston Children’s have overstepped their bounds

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Palin on Ukraine: I told you so


Please pray for the Ukraine. Unlike our leader this is NOT an uncontested arrival of Russian troops…it is an invasion!!!!

Originally posted on CNN Political Ticker:

(CNN) — Sarah Palin may be having a bragging rights moment.

In 2008, when she was the GOP vice presidential nominee, Palin questioned in a speech whether then-Sen. Barack Obama would have the foreign policy credentials to handle a scenario in which Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

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We the People Can Do Better

Everyone has a breaking point – just ask the ever-loyal Cleveland Browns fans – who, by the way, I feel could use a tad bit more positive feedback  for their coming 2014-2015 season.  But in regards to the community of citizen-commentators who post to our newspaper, I reached my breaking point.  This week I logged on and viewed the “most comments’ link supplied on their opinion home page.

I should have cleaned out the refrigerator.

The editorial board ran a piece on the high infant mortality rates in Ohio – and it did not make the ‘most comments’ link. (107 comments)

The Editorial board ran a piece on toxic dumping in Lake Erie – and it did not make the ‘most comments’ link. (12 comments)

They ran a piece on the N. Korea’s shocking human rights abuses – and it did not make the ‘most comments’ link. (8 comments)

They ran another editorial about the new police chief in Cleveland and the need to fix systemic failures present in the department – and it did not make the ‘most comments’ link. (15 comments)

What did make the ‘most comments’ link?   Out of the top eight editorials/articles listed, five were Sports Page articles and one concerned the legalization of marijuana. The remaining two centered on social media’s reach and politics.  (Job Bank emails that went viral  and Kevin O’Brien’s opinion piece on military spending).

People in Northeast Ohio appear to be more concerned with sports and drug legalization than they do with what is actually happening around them.  We need a clean Lake Erie.  We need to know the children who are allowed to be born are taken care of.  We need to be aware of changes affecting our personal safety. We need to know about people in the world who do not enjoy a fraction of the liberty we in America casually dismiss.

1900+ comments about an NFL quarterback and only 107 comments about the high infant mortality rates. Do these statistics really illustrate what readers  in NEOhio think is important? Is this indicative of  citizen-commentators in other parts of the country?

No amount of legislation can fix problems without citizen’s input.  Regular people need get involved.  Share your opinions on stories other than those that center on sports news.  Some will disagree with you, others will agree with you…but you cannot fix something unless you realize who and what is involved, solutions being proposed, and where to go for more information.

We have the freedom and the liberties in this country to gather information, to be part of the solution.  It is our responsibility to exercise those liberties.

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Follow up to Baby Estie

As promised, I am posting an email I rec’d from one of the people who was referenced in the email I rec’d:

“Ms. Bannon,
I recently became aware you have the story about the triplets from St. Paul’s Children’s Hospital on your blog.  Please be aware that there is much inaccurate information in it.  Please be aware, this should come down off your blog.   I did not have all the information verified before shooting out my prayer email.  You might want to take down that email for your own validity sake.

Again, terribly sorry.
Me too.

But sometimes emotions about a subject matter DO influence what we write. And because the backdrop of current national attitudes on a subject influence one’s perspective…this particular email caught me in the proverbial ‘crosshairs”…which leads me to my next question.

What is it about America that causes one to believe the worst about her?  We once were a country that the entire world could depend on to do what is right. We were the country that defended all who came to her for protection…where did we veer off course?

Yes…this email sneaked under my normal “no way, not here, not in America” radar.  This email became real because ‘yes, this CAN happen here”.  When did something like this become totally believeable?

I answered many emails today.  And you know what?  We ARE a country where animal cruelty is prosecuted with a vengence by the same people who turn a blind eye to abortion.  We ARE a country where people hold marches against SeaWorld on behalf their treatment of animals, and then march in support of ‘the Right to Choose’.  We ARE a country where many castigate those who fight for the rights of ALL people, ALL humans, (yes, even the yet-to-be-born) and then  march in support of pot!

We are in a state of total chaos…and yet, in spite of all of this I now know that America is still the greatest place in the world. Our people care.  Our people want to do what is right…and for that reason I am very proud to say that this country is STILL the greatest place on Earth!

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Baby Estie

Many people have been kind enough to pray for the Baby Estie in St. Paul, MN based on the email I received from the prayer group, and published on Holding Hands.  As a Catholic writer and mother I know all things are possible through prayers.  When angry, scared, and frustrated – I turn to prayer.  This email scared me.

It scared me because I do not understand the current mindset of this country where mistreatment of animals is considered a crime – and abortion is not.  It angered me because each life is precious, especially the innocents who have no voice.  And, it frustrated me because this email showed how many desperately want a child to love, and it appeared the calls for adoption were being ignored.

As a woman who was told at one time she would never have children…that bothered me more than words can say. How many times have those fighting for the unborn  been told “…You people only care about the fetus and not about the child after he/she is born?”  We know that is not true…but so often this belief is  used as an argument against the Pro-Life Movement.

Many wrote offering up their prayers.  Many wrote asking for more information.  And there were those who work with children in hospitals, of which I am not one, who wrote questioning the email and it’s details. Last night,  I did reach out to those who sent me the email.  I did email them back for an update.  I did want to know if all of our prayers were answered.

So far, all I have received back via email is silence.

I did hear from a Right-to-Life group in Minnesota though.  They received the same email over the weekend that I received Monday… and they have been hard at work trying to validate it. While we have the power of prayer, they have people with far more connections and they have yet to validate it.

I promised my readers to write when I heard more from the group who sent the email…and I will if I do. For now, please continue to offer  prayers to all the innocents and for those who are in the front lines trying to do what is right.


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Remember the Holocaust…

Today and tomorrow, until sundown, we are asked to remember the Holocaust.

Do we remember the souls lost forever?

Do we recall the inhumane torture and suffering of all captured, imprisoned, separated from loved ones?

Do we remember the propaganda used to dehumanize our fellow human beings?

Do we remember the lack of compassion, the desire to not become involved ‘in their war’?

Do we remember the  faith  our Jewish brothers and sisters displayed?

Do we remember the courage of those who interceded on their behalf, even at the risk of their own death?

Do we remember the world’s solemn promise for this to NEVER happen again?

Do we remember?

For the sake of us all….we have no other option but to remember.

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