Thursday, January 10, 2019

How I fell in love with my wife - again!

I've been in sales for nearly 10 years now and I've learned some very important concepts in human relationships.  Most of these concepts are counter intuitive to what we typically think of when the word "salesman or saleswoman" come to mind.

A good salesperson has two qualities or skills that can make him or her successful.  First, they have the ability to ask good questions.  These aren't run of the mill questions with simple "yes" or "no" answers.  Rather, these questions cause the one being questioned to pause and really think before answering.  Second, a good salesperson has incredible listening skills.  He or she truly hears the answers to the questions they have asked.  They are truly interested in what the client is saying,  A good salesperson listens to learn not simply to respond.

So, what does this have to do with falling in love with my wife again?  These same skills are what makes for a deep, personal, intimate relationship.  Is it easy?  No way!  In fact, it's often extremely difficult.  After years of marriage we may find ourselves not asking questions for fear of the answers!  We may discover that we can't wait for our spouses lips to stop moving so we can vomit our opinion and ideas at them.  We may even, after years of living together, think we know everything there is to know about our spouse.  We don't and that can be a very good thing.

Recently Nicole and I traveled to Cincinnati for my company's Christmas party.  We left 8 kids at home to fend for themselves and each other.  In Cincy we stayed at a nice hotel, ate incredible food, and enjoyed drinks and great laughs with my co-workers.  Back at the hotel we crawled in bed, sans kids, and watched the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers.  It was icing on the cake for a great evening!

All of this helped us bond as a couple.  We need those times away.  We need to be with other adults.  Yet with all of the great food and drink, laughs and conversation, a nice hotel and a Saints win, there was one thing on our mind; getting back in the car and driving home.

The drive from our home to the hotel was about 2.5 hours.  That's a lot of windshield time and if there's not much being said it can often feel like double that amount of time.  So, before we left I suggested we try something different.  I had read about the 36 Questions years ago but had never really looked into it.  These 36 Questions are supposed to be able to bring two people who just met really close through a series of increasingly personal questions, they may even fall in love.

Nicole and I can safely say that we are in love and haven't recently met but I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a try.  So for 2.5 hours we went through nearly half the questions.  We shared laughs, dreams, and ideas.  I learned a lot about my wife that I never knew before and it was fantastic.  She learned things about me that I had never told her before.  We grew closer as the miles went by.

When it was time to hurry home, before the CR-V changed from a carriage back to a 4-cylinder grocery-soccer-gymnastics-scouts-wagon, we couldn't wait to for the long drive back home.  We finished the questions and grew ever closer.  We even discussed going through the questions again only this time recording our answers on video for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to watch years after we're gone.  I'd give anything to have something like that from my parents and grandparents.

No matter the state of your relationship today, I highly recommend giving the 36 Questions a try.  Maybe just go through one each day after the kids are in bed or make a weekend getaway and just focus on the questions and answers.  You don' t have to be a salesperson to ask great questions or listen intently.  I wasn't trying to sell Nicole on anything.  Okay, maybe I was trying to re-sell her on the decision she made 19 years ago when she said yes.  After the 36 Questions and our short time away together I think she's going to renew the contract for another 19 years!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Me - Be the Match 10 Years Later

This morning I received a phone call that I had been expecting for about a week.  It was the last call of this nature that I would receive and it brought closure to a beautiful experience.  For ten years, wow, time sure does fly, researchers have been calling me every so often to ask about my health to ensure that what I had put my body through had no lasting ill effects.  There were certainly lasting effects but none of them ill.

10 years ago today I received a similar phone call that began this epic journey.  I was told that I was a nearly perfect bone marrow match for a 21 year old male dying from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

I consulted with Nicole, the Donor Program, and numerous doctors.  I went through test after test, was poked, prodded, weighed, and tested.  I was healthy enough for the process and decided to make the donation knowing full well that I could back out at any time.  I also knew that backing out would mean almost certain death for the young man.

Rather than take my bone marrow they decided to harvest my stem cells.  Nicole gave me regular shots that tricked my system into going into overdrive making these cells.  My blood was flooded with these cells that they would then remove during the harvesting process.

I remember the donation day well.  I was in a hospital bed for 3-4 hours with giant needles in both arms.  My blood would leave one arm, travel through a machine that would take the stem cells and then return to my other arm (a little cooler).  I couldn't move or take a break.  I had to just sit there, listen to books on tape or watch TV.

Almost six months after the procedure I learned that the young man had made a complete recovery.  Thank God for prayers, the human mind, and modern science.

So now, 10 years later, I've answered my last questionnaire....unless I'm a match again....

If you aren't registered as a potential donor, you should do so as soon as you can.  It may save someone's life, affect generations to come, and even convert souls created for eternity.

LINKS lead to my original posts about the journey.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bid to Help Bundle Baby Bottoms

As we prepare to close our online store we contemplated a way for all of us (family, friends, clients, and customers) to help make a difference in the lives of others.   Having 8 children of our own we thought maybe diapers would be a good thing?

A program that has been dear to our hearts is the Bottoms Up Diaper Drive.  This program helps provide diapers for children in need.  It's hard to believe that such an essential part of rearing a child is often a burden for so many low income families.  Bottoms Up seeks to help bridge the gap and provide this necessary need for so many babies.

So, we decided to auction off one of our handcrafted cord-knot rosaries for Bottoms Up.  This is a one-of-a-kind rosary that you won't be able to find anywhere else.  For those Catholic Buckeye fans, it's the chance to score big.

You can bid on the rosary until January 1st just hours before the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl (we hope).  The winning bid will get the rosary but the real winner will be Bottoms Up.

Help us send a ton of diapers to this great organization.

Also, if a wealthy individual or business would like to partner with us, we are looking for someone who may be interested in upping the game.  Maybe you'd like to match the bid up to a certain point, or match so much per point scored during the Rose Bowl, etc.  Let us know if you are interested in joining us.

Click here to bid.
Click here to send diapers.
Click here to learn more about Bottoms Up Diaper Drive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Unanswered Prayers

Luke 1:5-25

Whenever I take the time to look back on my life I am amazed at the goodness of God. Especially so in light of my wandering ways. When I look back at the things I asked for and what was given to me instead I am filled with praise and thanksgiving. Like the country song says, "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

Scripture tells us that God's ways are not our ways and sometimes this just plain stinks! Yet, God is a loving Father who knows what is best for us. He has a plan for us. And His plans, His ways, are always far better than ours.

In my younger days, before my conversion, I dreamed of a life of singing in a band. I dreamed of living on stage, in bars and clubs, and partying till the end. What a stupid dream! In fact, I think I even prayed, in my own twisted way, for these things. Thank God for a great big "NO". If God would have revealed to me His plan at that point in my life I would have laughed and said "thanks" but "no thanks." Now I can't imagine my life any other way. I can't imagine not being married to my wonderful wife and enjoying my beautiful children. His ways are far better than mine.

I am sure Zechariah and Elizabeth had many days to dream of what life would be like with children. I am sure they had ideas in their minds of what they would do with their child. They obviously prayed constantly, even in their old age, for a child. How disappointed they must have been as the years slipped slowly by and no child came. Yet God's ways far exceeded their dreams and ideas. I'm sure they never expected to have an angel announce that they would be given a child. I'm sure that they never thought that he would "be great before the Lord...filled with the Holy Spirit...turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God...or make ready for the Lord a people prepared." Their expectations were met and exceeded beyond belief. Hence the name that God gives - John - "God is gracious."

God has a plan for you today. You may have gotten out of bed early in the morning with ideas in your head of how the day was to go but He has plans that are far better. This doesn't mean that the day will end with all of your heart's desires being fulfilled. Rather, it means that He loves you and wants you to trust Him for He has plans for your good. Your only duty today is a simple one, say "yes" to God. In good and in bad, say "yes" to God!  There is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. "Do not be afraid for your prayer is heard!"

* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Pray with or for your family using - Rosary Meditations for the Family.  20 Meditations on Family life through the lens of the Mysteries of the Rosary.  Also includes the Joyful Mysteries of Marriage and meditations for children.  
Available in Paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Conceived without Fear

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

What do you think you would do if you were to come face to face with God this very instant? We all like to imagine what we would do, but if we were honest with ourselves we would admit that we would probably want to crawl under the closest rock. Even though we may have just come back from Confession and Mass, we would still know that we are not worthy to stand in the presence of God.

Throughout Scripture we are given examples of how people react to encounters with the living God and His messengers, the angels. In the first chapter of the book of Revelation John encounters Christ and says, "I fell down at his feet as though dead" (Rev 1:17). Later on in the same book John is speaking with an angel of God and here John says, "I fell at his feet to worship him" (Rev 19:9). Now, of course all of this is in a beatific vision so we could excuse John in this case for he is at this point out of place. He is allowed to catch a glimpse of the Heavenly Jerusalem and the experience surely overwhelmed him.

However, we see the same reaction from John, James, and Peter at the Transfiguration. Here Jesus is transfigured, His divinity shines through His humanity like a light through stained-glass. The disciples see this event and hear the very voice of God and "they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe." (Matt 17:6). Again, we could excuse this behavior because of the magnitude of the event.

Yet, again, we see others falling before God, trembling in fear throughout the sacred writings. When the angels appear to the shepherds announcing "good news of great joy" the shepherds are "filled with fear." When Gabriel appears to Zechariah he "was troubled...and fear fell upon him."

In today's first reading, Adam hides himself from God out of fear, "I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself."  Eve too was naked and afraid, hiding herself from God, right there beside Adam.

But there is one person who experienced a revelation of God's power and love through the message of an angel who was not "filled with fear" and who did not "fall on her face." In today's Gospel, Mary receives her visitor with wonder but not fear.  For the one who is "full of grace" could not also be "filled with fear." She does not fall on her face for she has been chosen as the Queen of the Angels, The Great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. When the angel says to Mary, "Do not be afraid", the angel is not trying to ease her fears of himself or the glory of God that surrounds him. Rather, he is comforting her and helping her to overcome the natural, holy, and humble fear or awe that would arise with the announcement of this, her vocation, to be the Mother of God.

You and I would most certainly follow the lead of the Saints like John, Peter, James, and Zechariah in falling on our faces before the living God and His messengers. We would do this because unlike Mary, we have sin and it's effects to deal with. But let us remember that the Woman, the Great Queen of Heaven and Earth, is also our mother (Rev 12:17). She is our mother and she will pick us up and bring us to her Son if we only learn to imitate her beautiful example. "Fiat!" - "Be it done unto me according to thy word!"

FROM THE SAINTS - THE LORD IS WITH THEE - "He is more with you [Mary] than he is with me; he is in your heart, he takes shape within you, he fills your soul, he is in your womb." - Saint Augustine

Learn more about Our Lady with this wonderful, easy to read book by Dr. Scott Hahn (no relation) - Hail Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Only Say the Word!

Monday of the First Week of Advent - Matthew 8:5-11

"The prayer of the righteous man has great power in its effects." - James 5:16

This story, in the eighth chapter of Matthew's Gospel, is meant to show us both the authority of Jesus and the necessity of faith. Since Jesus' address in the synagogue in chapter 3 all the way through chapter 7, Jesus has been teaching. Chapter 7 ends with this verse, "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." This leads us to understand that the scribes were teaching in the name of Moses whereas Jesus is teaching of His own authority. In fact, He often says, "you have heard it said...but I say."

Matthew then moves on to show us that Jesus' authority is not contained merely in His teaching alone. He shows us that His words have the power to change hearts but also the power to heal. Sometimes His words are accompanied by a touch or an action as with the leper at the beginning of chapter 8. At other times, like in today's Gospel, it is His word alone that heals.

However, these healings and His words, come as His response to the faith of the person being healed or to the faith of one interceding for another.

The centurion is interceding on behalf of his servant. This tells us that the centurion was a man with compassion. He had a heart for his fellow man. He did not treat his servant as a possession but as a human person with worth. We can even guess that he loved this servant by the efforts he puts forth to approach Jesus and ask for the healing. The centurion certainly didn't approach Jesus under cover of darkness and he didn't hide his faith that Jesus was someone special, "Lord, I am not worthy."

The centurion, as a man in authority, also recognized the authority of Jesus. He recognizes the fact that if his own words have such power over those under his authority, how much more power resides in the words of this Jesus of Nazareth!

My favorite quote from this passage is, "When Jesus heard him, he marveled..." I pray that during this season of Advent my faith may increase and the Lord will "marvel" at my prayers as well. Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed, only say the word and my loved ones will be healed, only say the word and this world will be healed.

Who, during this Advent season, can you bring to Christ in prayer? Who do you know that may be sick, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and is need of the healing power of Christ? Is it a relative? A friend? A politician? Is it the mailman? Is it the teen you saw at the mall this weekend? Is it someone you heard about on the news, a blog, or in the paper? Do you know someone that you are reasonably sure has no one to pray for them?

Be the centurion for that person over the next four weeks. During this time of Advent bring this person each day to Jesus in prayer. Trust in his healing power with the faith of that centurion and you too will amaze Jesus. Wouldn't that be a nice gift to give the King!

* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Advent and Fear of the Lord


Luke 21:34-36

I haven't posted much this week in the area of Scripture meditations. The reason is that, well, they've been pretty frightening. Seriously, have you read them? If not, take a few moments and check them out. We're talking Apocalyptic readings! Death, famine, earthquakes, fire, and angels with sickles. It's certainly not what I like dancing around in my mind as I put up the Christmas lights on the house!

Although I haven't posted much about the readings, they have been haunting me all week. So, I had to take some time and ask myself, "What is it about these readings that so bothers me?" The gut instinct response is, "I'm scared to meet Christ face to face.  I don't think I'm ready.  I need Confession and to turn my life more fully toward God."

Isn't that strange that I fear my encounter with Christ more than all these other things. For instance, on Tuesday I read, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky." but it is the Lord I fear.

On Wednesday I heard that, "They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors...You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death", but still I fear meeting the Lord!

Thursday I read, "Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives...", yet, still, I mainly fear the coming of Christ rather than these things.

Friday, again, I read, "this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away", but I am without fear except for the coming of the Lord!

On Saturday the readings for the week ended with these words of Jesus, "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

After reading all of this I believe that my fear is in the right place. If I were worried about natural disasters my heart would be too concerned with the world. If I were worried about wars and battles to the point that I was paralyzed, then I am sure my heart would be in the wrong place. Even if I were worried about imprisonment, torture, and death (my own or of those I love) then I think my sights would be set only on this world.

None of these things do I fear. Rather, I fear the Living God and pray that I, "have the stand before the Son of Man." To those of us who fear God and not man, to those who see all the tribulations as nothing compared to our encounter with Christ the King, Jesus says, "when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."

To the worldly, these signs are terror and destruction for they are loosing all that they have placed their hope upon. For those who believe, these are the signs of arrival of all that has been promised.

As Advent begins tomorrow, let us adopt a holy fear of the Lord.  A fear that restrains us from offending Him.  A fear that is born of love like a lover fearing to offend his beloved.  Let us take advantage of this Advent season to truly prepare a way for the Lord to enter into our hearts!

FROM THE SAINTS - Even here amidst trials and temptations let us, let all men, sing alleluia. God is faithful, says holy Scripture, and he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. So let us sing alleluia, even here on earth. Man is still a debtor, but God is faithful. Scripture does not say that he will not allow you to be tried, but that he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. Whatever the trial, he will see you through it safely, and so enable you to endure. You have entered upon a time of trial but you will come to no harm—God’s help will bring you through it safely. You are like a piece of pottery, shaped by instruction, fired by tribulation. When you are put into the oven therefore, keep your thoughts on the time when you will be taken out again; for God is faithful, and he will guard both your going in and your coming out. - St. Augustine

Grow in your faith this Advent with books from Real Life Rosary.  These three books are available as PDF bundle.  All three books delivered as a digital download for only $1.99.

Book Bundle "A" contains three of our most downloaded books to date.  These 3 books are sure help you grow in your faith life.  This bundle also includes the 4 Simple Steps Daily Worksheet for use with the book 4 Simple Steps to Better Meditations.
4 Simple Steps to Better Meditations - Learn how to set aside time and distractions and dive deeper into scripture.
Rosary Meditations for the Family - A series of rosary meditations focused on family life and the beauty contained therein.
Meditations on the Crucifix - A beautiful set of meditations on this beloved Catholic sacramental.
Your download will begin shortly after purchase.  It is a single "zip" file.  Once downloaded, you may "extract" the individual files for your reading pleasure.