surrender884

compassion, confession, faith

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Fatherhood

Life has changed tremendously since my last post. My wife and I were to travel to Ireland this month. Crcumstances beyond our control changed everything we had planned for my retirement years.

In late June of this year our third grandchild was born. She is our second granddaughter. Then on July 3rd of this year my wife’s daughter who had given birth to our second granddaughter died the day she was to be released from the hospital maternity wing.

We became on the day of her death parents of the remaining grandchildren and the newborn baby girl. It would be six weeks before our third granddaughter would be released from the hospital’s NICU unit.

My dream of visiting Ireland would be replaced with raising the most precious little girl I had ever laid eyes on and her two siblings, a boy and a girl.

Luckily I had put back enough money that my wife and I would have a stress free retirement for years to come.  There are times when twenty-fours in a day is not enough. Gone are the days of uninterrupted sleep. It has taken me over an hour to write this much.

Not for a loss of words am I. One feeding, diaper change and all that entails takes time. Time away from other activities I used to enjoy in the evening hours. Raising children is more than time-consuming. It is a commitment raising three young children. I never had the opportunity to be a Dad. God has given me the task to be a Dad and I intend to be one now.

Before in other posts I wondered what God’s plan was for me. Today there is no doubt what His plan is.  To be a committed parent is His plan.

A Rose, a Homeless Man, and 10 Measly Dollars

The Beggar's Bakery

how

homeless manSt John’s
Photo by swissrolli on Flickr

By: Jana Greene

I’ve always had a love / hate relationship with the saying “There but for the grace of God go I.” I love it because it’s a handy-dandy way to explain how some of my alcoholic friends might have died of their disease but I’m still sober. I hate it because it makes blessings and cursings result from a God who plays “Heads Up 7-UP” while we all have our heads down not paying attention and goes around choosing who’ll be graced by random thumb-touch (if aren’t familiar with Heads-up 7-UP, I’m not sure I can explain it. Google might be able to help.)

At any rate, the implication is that God somehow graced me with a circumstance that he has flatly refused to grace another human being with. Which seems cruel and rings of “favorite-ness,” as if he loves…

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No Regrets

Today was filled with many ups and downs. My friends got me through it.

I am a Facebook user or am used by Facebook. There is no privacy when using it. That is another topic to be covered one day.

My interests vary. Catholicism, non denominational Christian beliefs and always anything Irish. Two days before St. Patrick’s Day this year I was accepted into a closed group, an Irish one.

The rules as there is always in groups was simple. No offending or hateful posts of any nature, no nudity, the whole gamut of standards to not break. I asked once, what about religious post? Fine was the answer as long as it was within the confines of the rules.

Joking, humor, banter, cultural posts are expected according to the standards set forth in the group. Banter I did, jokes I did, laughing till I felt I would stroke out I did. For almost thirty days I learned much about Irish culture, it’s history and it’s past.

While there I made a handful of new friends. Some Christians, some not. I have an open mind and try to see others points of view. At times it seemed that it was getting out of hand with personalities clashing. The administrators of the group would stop it before it became utter chaos. Once there appeared a guy posting, who wanted to debate Islam. Before that went postal, the post vanished. Last night someone was doing a video blog on humanity. I watch it and commented.

Today before heading out to do my volunteer hours at Catholic Charities, I logged into the group to see who had posted what. Easter  is less than a week away, so there was occasionally Easter or Christian prayer posts. Always someone posting humorous subjects. As usual I comment here and there.

I come across a post where someone is complaining about all of the Easter posts, saying it had no place in the group. If you know me well enough I have an opinion and express it. So I tell the one complaining that no rules had been broken and to lighten up. I wait, no response given. Scrolling up the the page I see the same individual posting how Christianity had turned his pagan holiday into Easter. That got my attention to say the least. So, I comment on how in another post by him he is complaining about religious posts but, now he is doing it. Then people tell me to just keep scrolling by supporting his views. Of course I said, no, no way. A friend of mine in the group comes on with a sarcastic remark which is allowed and encouraged in the group. I have to log off and get to my volunteer duties.

Later on in the day I log in and the group page doesn’t exist in my account. I get with friends and tell what is happening on my end. They are in but, some had been blocked.  After some time it appears I too have been blocked. Those friends attempt to add me back. No luck, no explanation given out. I contact the creator of the group and inquirer about the matter. No response, a dead end.

At this point I lick my wounds and chalk it up as God’s will. As I am contemplating what to do a friend comes up telling me about a group page. The group is from others who at one point in time had been blocked too.

Some time passes and I get a notice that I am in this new group. Sarcasm, joking, some apparently frustrated by the changing standards of the group we were blocked in. In my book they have a point and are not afraid to voice it because those rules don’t apply anymore.

In the mean time I convince a few to join this new group and make friends with those existing members also. Nice people they are. Free to speak whatever they want without offending others.

At the end of today I lost and gained. No regrets.

On the dole

Colm Pierce


When I left school at 18 the first thing I did was to sign on.  To sign on was, in other words receive social benefit. That dole money was a lifeline to people who had nothing. For me it was another roll of film  I could buy. In Cumberland Street where you had to get your welfare was a depressing place. This – you can have any colour you like as long as it’s battleship grey – building was never empty. All sorts of working class life  walked through its doors… kids crying with young mothers, school leavers, smack heads, the odd punk or new romantic.

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Make your plan and work your plan

Last year was the pits. Losing my mother and mother-in-law in less than thirty days. Then in December the looming date for retirement in thirty days, approaching fast.

Well, it all worked out. Made the decision not to find employment again. For crying out loud, I needed a rest. Isn’t that what retirement is for? Wasn’t sure how long my wife would take to adjust to me being home everyday. Not like I planned on sitting out till death came knocking.

When there is no job to go to, people would say, ” Your going to go bat shit crazy” with nothing to occupy 24 hours a day. Huh, I found more to do then there was hours in a day.  Floors that needed attention, yard work that had been put off till hell froze over. It was January, so there was limited work that could be accomplished.

In the mean time my wife had purchased items desperately needed for around the house. My last payroll check was adequate to get us through till Social Security and my pension came on a steady schedule. It took a period of three months be steady.

I started thinking what else would I want to do, other then a to do list. I had heard people recently speak of a bucket list. What to see and do before you die kind of list. Number one was to follow through on my dream to visit Ireland once. I tell you, it is hard to know your of Irish descent, belong to an Irish-Catholic fraternal organization without dreaming of the land where a distant ancestor had come from. My wife isn’t to thrilled about it with a new granddaughter coming into the world this year.

My cousin down in Georgia, who I made contact with two years ago had shown interest in going to Ireland. I did ancestry searches for years and stopped when I got to a dead end. My cousin and I exchanged what we knew from what our parents had shared. Still nothing developed in further searches.

So my goal is to visit Ireland before 2017 comes to an end. Sure having a new granddaughter will fill up my time, as did the other two grandchildren. Nothing will keep me from reaching my destination.

So, cousin when you read this, get your ducks in a row and pack your bags. You can finish the ancestry search while I am out finding my roots.

Slainte, yall.

Depending upon the kindness of strangers

Black coffee and cigarettes

kindness 2

Noah and I made it to Cairo from London safely last night.

I travelled the world by myself some years ago. I went whitewater rafting down the Zambezi below Victoria Falls – with a lifejacket since I couldn’t swim. We also bush safaried on the Zambezi with lions and crocs and hippos around us and I was ok. I abseiled on some insane boot camp in Scotland a few years later, crying all the way – note to self, death-defying stunts rarely change your life or suddenly imbue you with the courage to fulfill your dreams – and I made it through somehow.

But travelling alone with an infant for the first time is, without doubt, the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. The sheer logistics of it – packing for a five-month old, negotiating Heathrow’s complex liquids rules (how much milk?), going through security with your baby in a…

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The Luck of the Irish

George J. Galloway

I was fast asleep. It was late on a billowing March night on the eve of the feast of St. Patrick when I heard my father urgently whisper up the steps to my bedroom “Jiggs!”

I was sixteen and it was 1973. There was a lot going on. The War in Vietnam still waged on even though Nixon and Kissinger would soon skillfully manage a tactical withdraw that was anything but “honorable.” Watergate would soon predominate the headlines. Roe v Wade changed everything in January of that year and Catholics went to war with each other over the sanctity of life. No small things.

I say this because my dad sometimes woke me up in the middle of the night to bounce some ideas off me that disturbed, impressed or excited him. Sometimes he would wake me up to listen to the end of a ball game on the radio…

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In the twilight zone

Back before I retired there was an employee based health insurance that covered my wife and I. The cost was near one third of my monthly income. We managed to squeak by every month after meeting a deductible required by the insurance provider.

Being qualified for Medicare coverage it went smooth for me. Sure there were not as many doctors to choose from but, I found one that met my needs. Out of pocket expenses with my supplemental insurance are reasonable.

Today my wife searched for a new physician with her health insurance provider online. Here in Oklahoma health insurance providers are slim. Two actually offer health insurance since the ACA went into effect. The cost for her coverage is the same as I paid for family coverage while employed.

Fifteen physicians were listed online by her health insurance provider. Of those fifteen listed the majority do not exist by location and phone number. The three that were available had a wait time of two to three weeks. Eventually she will finally find one to care for her health.

We have been through this same kind of search when I was employed, to find physicians located in the twilight zone. They are listed yet they don’t exist. You would think that an insurance provider would keep a record of physicians up to date. Apparently not a high priority for them.

With the talk of the ACA being repealed and replaced we can only hope that the health insurance providers will get their priorities focusing on the customer first. It is a sad country we live in where the cost of health care and greed of the same overlook the needs of their citizens.

 

 

January 13 – When God Shows Up

THE RIVER WALK

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Genesis 28:16)

Read: Genesis 28:1 – 29:35, Matthew 9:18-38, Psalm 11:1-7, Proverbs 3:11-12

Relate: There were about six of us sitting around the table playing Monopoly. Normally, any story that starts out this way will not end well. I tend to be a wee bit competitive and so does pretty much everybody in my family.  I remember playing at my apartment with a few cousins when two of us ganged up on the third cousin’s fiance in an attempt to force her into bankruptcy. Our engaged cousin got so angry at us he stood up and flipped the table before storming off into his room. Poor Jen just sat there in awkward silence before saying, “Yah, he loves me.” Another time, in Bible college, a guy jumped over a…

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Leap of Faith

They said why don’t you retire and draw your pension with Social Security benefits?

They were right. Why work in a job that wasn’t going to go anywhere? Why work through another winter and the stifling heat of summer?

Get your ducks in a row and retire. Everything was there just as I thought but, taking that leap of faith.

Notified my employer that the date has been chosen. Now it was time for them to make it happen.

The last day of December 2016 everything need to make it official was presented to me for signing. And signing on the line is what I did.

With a smile on my face and the new life ahead I took a leap of faith.

What a life it is. It took some time to adjust my body clock to sleep a little later. A friend recommended an app called Laudate, for the daily bible readings. There wasn’t enough time in mornings when I worked to read the days readings. Now it is the first thing every morning to do. Reflections on the scripture readings is part of the app. How great it is to be in the spirit before taking that first sip of coffee and doing morning chores at an easy pace.