The Freedom to Choose…Really?


Yesterday  a young woman was ordered by the State of Connecticut Supreme Court to continue with a medical treatment, chemotherapy, for her cancer.

Cassandra C and the State of CT

Medical vs homeopathic treatment aside…and I am not going to comment on either, although I am a strong proponent of combating this horrible disease with everything in one’s arsenal…this case is strikingly hypocritical.

Today in Connecticut, a seventeen year old can receive an abortion without parental approval or involvement because the state believes “It is her body, her choice.” In fact, Connecticut has a very liberal viewpoint on this ‘procedure’. In 2014 they legislated new guidelines for abortion, and as stated in the Guttmacher Institute report *Connecticut does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions—often found in other states”.  

Allowing a seventeen-year old lady to make a decision that affects her body, her life is done all the time in the name of “Choice”.  But, when it goes against a hospitals/doctors ability to make money off of her ‘choice’ – all of a sudden – she doesn’t have the maturity? Either a seventeen year old is mature enough, or she is not.

If I were a true pessimist, I would conclude that the Freedom to Choose revolves not so much around the maturity of the individual as it does the money to be made off of that individual.  Abortion is big money to many, as is treating cancer.

Somehow, I don’t quite think this is what Freedom of Choice was supposed to look like.

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She Chooses Life


My Parents Chose LifeLife is precious.

Despite everything this beautiful baby girl has gone through in her short life…open heart surgery and a severe MRSA-Staph infection to name just a few… she is reaching out for love and life.  She is ready to get on with the business of living.

How many of us can say the same thing?

This Christmas, reach out for life.  Do not let the evils in our world compromise your ability to see God in the people He places in your path today.  Do not let worries about life’s  daily minutia compromise your joy with all God gives you today.  Do not let today’s frustrations and misfortunes  compromise your belief in the goodness of God’s plan for you.

Do not forget to reach out for life…and love.  Trust life is as it should be, according to His will. Remember:

 ‘This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad”

(PSALM 118:24)

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Grace of Yes Day!


graceofyes-twitterprofileThere is a place, in Boston, where people gather everyday and say Yes God.  It is called the Yawkey Family Inn.  This home was built on compassion, it is run on compassion…it is a place where people say “Yes God” every day.

It is a place where I was humbled.  It is a place where faith is renewed and strengthened. And, it is a place where travelers can share with one another their fears and their hopes.

I stayed at the Yawkey Family Inn  because my eleven week old granddaughter was undergoing open heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Here I met women such as Amy and Karen, who have been frequent visitors to the Inn…not by choice, but by necessity.  Here I was greeted with warm cookies late at night and homemade meals provided by volunteers; this was a place where people shared their stories, their fears, and their emotions with people who understood.

One of the first people I met was  Karen. She talked about the goodness of God and how we are all called to say “Yes God”.  Opening up her computer she played sermons she had bookmarked where the pastor was extolling the virtues of giving into God’s plan…not our plan, but His plan. In spite of everything she is enduring, the love she felt for God radiated from her.

How prophetic that I met her a week before the Grace of Yes Day!

There are moments in life when we all want to cry out”Are you kidding me Lord?”.  On this Grace of Yes Day though I will remember people such as those who helped me during a very difficult time, who sat on a basement floor with me while I poured out my worries and fears, who reminded me of the blessings that come our way when we just say “Yes God, Your will be done”.

Have a beautiful grace-filled day.

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Here I Go Again


It is time to change homes once again, and I know from experience it will not be easy.

Trust me – having moved from Connecticut, to Ohio, to Minnesota, and back to Ohio in under thirteen years  I have a faint idea of what I am up against!  Each and every time I have been faced with the same questions and fears:

  • What will my home look like? Larger or smaller than the one I have now?
  • Who will I interact with on a weekly basis?  Will they accept me for who I am, shortcomings and all?
  • When will this move take place?  During a holiday season when every home looks great and the people are welcoming to strangers?  Or will I move in during the regular grind of day-to-day living when many are too busy for more than a ‘nice to meet you’ before they hurry away to their own lives ?
  • Where exactly am I moving to?  There are so many homes to choose from within the area we have chosen to live.
  • How long will it take for me to feel at home?

It is hard because I always seem to measure every home against just one other home.  This home nurtured and surrounded me with  many wonderful people. These people – my parents and siblings, my parent’s friends and their children,  my friends and classmates, my neighbors, my teachers…they shaped who I am today through exacting standards, challenges, high expectations,  love, lots of laughter, and forgiveness.

St. Columban Catholic ChurchI truly loved my first home…St. Columban Catholic Church in Birmingham, Michigan.

There is an old saying that you cannot go home again but that does not mean we ever stop looking.  I joke about being a ‘Roamin’ Roman Catholic’ because when I move it takes so long  to find the right Church… the right home… for my family.  I measure every new Church by my memories of growing up Catholic within the St. Columban community and neighborhood.

Although it took a few years, I did find a wonderful family at St. Gabriel in Concord Ohio and  it will be hard say goodbye and start looking once again…but I will. I may end up at  St. Rita’s in Marion Ma, or a St. Anthony’s in Mattapoisett Ma.  Then again, St. Patrick’s in Wareham, MA might offer a phenomenal community for the Irish O’Bannon Family. If not, we can always take a drive to Fairhaven, MA and attend St. Mary’s.

Finding the right home is not an easy task!  So I’ll take a deep breath, wave goodbye to St. Gabriel’s,  say a prayer for guidance, and start roamin’.

Wish me luck.

 

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The Clock of Life


Yesterday I was in a hurry to get to my next destination but standing in line at our post office I realized my timeframe was not going to work.  I took a deep breath, let out a disgruntled sigh, and started to study the people in line with me.  As the lone post office staff member methodically helped one person at a time I slowly moved forward.  Near the front of the line, posted on a bulletin board, I saw a 2 verse poem  called THE CLOCK, by Robert H. Smith.  It read:

clockThe clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power,

To tell just when the hands will stop at late or early hour.

To lose ones wealth is sad indeed, to lose one’s health is more.

               To lose one’s soul is such a loss, that no one can restore

I reread it a few times…our post office enjoys the relaxed family friendly atmosphere of small town America…and although I loved the imagery of using a  clock to illustrate one’s lifeline, it was the final line that stayed with me for the rest of the day.

We all lead busy lives, where deadlines and responsibilities are second nature for most of us. If we slow down maybe we will forget something, miss something, lose something. But will we really?  Slowing down life’s pace is necessary not only for our personal health but  for our spiritual health as well.

Today, take the time to slow down and remember what is truly important.

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Mass Mobs Saving Catholic Churches


If we are lucky, we will learn something new every day. Well, today I was lucky.

Recently I have been doing research into the early Polish-Catholic settlers of Detroit for a series of articles. These early founders of the PolishAmerican Catholic Church faced extreme prejudice and hardships,  yet they never lost sight of what was truly important: their faith. They sought solace and solidarity within the confines of this faith; faith practiced not only on holidays and Sundays, but faith that was truly a living part of their daily life.

To honor this faith, and to practice it among people who spoke the same language and who remembered the same traditions, they built churches…many many churches.

st albertusOne such church was St. Albertus Catholic Church on St. Aubin St., built between 1883-1885, and dedicated on July 4, 1885. At one time this beautiful church was the largest Catholic Church in Michigan.

So it was a wonderful surprise today when my brother forwarded a Detroit news article about St. Albertus and an event orchestrated by the Catholic Mass Mob of Detroit. Begun in Buffalo, NY Mass Mobs have spread across Lake Erie to Detroit and all around the country.  As noted in this article by Kevin O’Connor, word goes out, and a mass mob gathering occurs at a historic church in need, “… it’s to boost the city’s struggling old churches, filling not only the often sparsely attended shrines, but their collection plates, too.”  Over 2500 Catholics answered the call yesterday.

There is no better way to honor the builders of these shrines than to fill the pews once more.

Kudos to the Mass Mob of Detroit!  Having bought a copy of the book Discovering Stain Glass in Detroit, which profiles the beautiful artisry of Detroit area churches, I look forward to attending a mass mob in the future.

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Save His people


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Protesting FOR a CEO – Imagine That!


save market basketIn this day and age of ‘what is in it for me’, I am truly proud of what is transpiring out east across Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  It is better than any made-for-TV movie and has all the qualities necessary to keep viewers riveted for hours:  greed, envy, good guy/bad guy, hostile take-overs, he said/she said…a family feud of biblical proportions played out against the backdrop of idyllic New England.

Seriously – it does not get any better than this.  A grandfather builds a very successful supermarket chain (Market Basket) and years later one cousin, Arthur T. Demoulas is fired by another cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.  Only one problem: Arthur S. does not realize the relationship Arthur T. has built over the years with his employees, customers, and distributors.

Big mistake! In fact, this saga has even been likened to the movie “Its a Wonderful Life”, with the one cousin being compared to  George Bailey (Arthur T) and other likened to  Mr. Potter (guess who).

The facts themselves are well-documented by just googling ‘Market Basket'; in fact, a webpage titled We Are Market Basket was created to explain exactly why both customers and employees have been protesting the firing of their CEO, Artie T as they refer to him. What intrigued me though from day one is the bond between this CEO and his employees…a bond so strong they are willing to risk their jobs for him. And,  the bond between this CEO and the customer base of Market Basket…a bond so strong most customers are protesting by shopping at rival stores, many of whom have higher prices.

What does protesting get employees?  Possible pink slips.

What does protesting get former customers?  Higher grocery bills.

And yet, they are not backing down…in fact, their numbers are growing.

They are supporting a man who does not put corporate profits over the well-being of his employees.  They are supporting a man who feels it is best to keep food costs low so families can feed their families well and still have money in their pockets after pay-day.  They are supporting a man who does not see balance sheets – but the faces of his employees and their families.  They are all supporting the man who to them is the head of their family.

Either the Board of Directors misread the relationship between Artie T, the employees, and customers or they ignored it completely in their quest for revenge and greater shareholder dividends.  Today, after weeks of million dollar loses at stores across the region, they are deciding whether or not to sell their shares to Artie T who wants to buy them out.

My thoughts and prayers are with these employees and customers. I hope they are successful.

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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


csbannon:

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) in…

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