Sunday, November 29, 2015

what i wore ~ liturgical dressing...purple

Sparkly shoes to greet the New Year!

Happy New Year to all my Catholic peeps!! Today is the First Sunday in Advent and that means on the Church calendar it's New Years Day. 


Today, I decided to embrace this new liturgical season and dress in the appropriate color of purple. The first Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming. The candle is purple and so are the linens that drape the church. It is the beginning of a "mini" lent as we wait and prepare for the child Jesus. 

I don't have a lot of purple in my wardrobe but I do have a trumpet skirt which I pulled out and paired with a "splatter paint" shell. I topped it with a purple cardigan and drop earrings. Target provided a fabulous pair of sparkly flats to bring it all together. Unfortunately I did not have time to put on make-up at 6 a.m. this morning and boy can you tell.


I look tired. 

I am. It's a good tired though. 

Yesterday was a busy day setting up the church for the first week of Advent. So many things to accomplish in the next two weeks. My "to do" list is quite long but I am confident with the Good Lord's help and my Courtney whispering encouragement in my ear, I will make it through. 

Next week's "what i wore" will be another purple outfit. Not sure what it will be yet but my closet will reveal the secret in time. 

What are you wearing? Got any inspiration for me?? 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

still a team...

It has been a year since our last family photo was taken on Thanksgiving Day, 2014. 

It has been a year since I sat with my sweet girl curled into my lap, looking at all those beautiful lights on the Christmas tree. 

It's been eleven months since she took her last breath. It's been eleven months since I heard her hum or saw her smile. 

As we sat with my best friend's family two days ago sharing a traditional Thanksgiving feast with ALL the trimmings, I looked around the table at some of the most important people in my world. There was laughter and so much joy as we passed bowl and platter overflowing with food cooked with love. 

They made it easy to face the day we dreaded a year ago. A day when our daughter would no longer be sitting with us at the Thanksgiving table. 

Yet, Courtney was right in the middle of it all. Her presence was strong in the midst of our meal. She blessed us continuously as we laughed and shared our hearts. 

Last year we ordered our dinner from a local grocery store and it tasted like sawdust. Everything back then tasted like sawdust. My daughter was dying and I did not give a rip what was for dinner let alone who cooked it. 

What a difference a year makes. 

My beautiful daughter is now with God. She sits at the Lord's table enjoying a never ending feast. I can only imagine how happy she is to be there, to be forever in the presence of the One who loves her most.

I have such a sense of peace when I think of her most days. She is where Our Lord needs her to be now that her job here is done. She has left behind a tremendous legacy of love and joy. She taught me about grace, strength and  about suffering with hope. 

Always hope. 

It has been a year since I decorated my house so my daughter could take her final fill of her favorite lights, sounds and smells. Yesterday, I lit a Peppermint Bark candle and when I caught my first whiff, tears fell. I know that where she is smells so much better than a candle ever could but for a moment, I just wanted her back. 

It's OK to not be OK. I am fine one moment and then in another the always present struggle with grief returns. I am much more comfortable with it now. I recognize that this is how it will be for the rest of my life. It's a burden that I am willing to carry, that I carry with joy. Anything for my children, living or dead.

Today Jerry and I chose a small wreath for Courtney's grave. We will place it on her stone tomorrow after Mass. It's simple and sweet, like Courtney. I didn't cry. I smiled as I thought of her sweet smile knowing that I made sure there was no glitter on it. That's her Mama's thing not hers. 

So much has changed in the last eleven months. So much. If you told me how it would all unfold last year, I would never have believed you. The three of us, each with new jobs, new beginnings, moving forward in faith all while carrying our sweet Courtney's memory tucked deep into our hearts. 

Our daily life looks nothing like it did eleven months ago. It's not supposed to. Most days, I feel relieved. 

Yes, I actually said it. I feel relieved. 

Courtney is safe and free and whole. No more pain. No more fear. No more seizures. No more discomfort of any kind. All she knows is the ultimate love and pure joy. 

I know Jerry and Jonathan reached this point much sooner than I but we all grieve differently and that is OK. The grief will never completely leave. When one has loved until it hurts, that's not something that will ever go away. The more love, the stronger the grief. 

My email has overflowed the past few weeks with requests on how people can help us this year, now that our girl is home with God. I thought I would take a second and address it. It's your prayers we covet most. Truly, they keep us afloat. 

Yes, there is still debt to pay off. Yes, we are still working on paying that off and will be for the next three to four years. God has provided beautifully for our family, both while Courtney was alive and since she has gone home to Him. 

The PayPal button to the upper left of the sidebar will remain open until the debt is paid off. If you wish to give in Courtney's name, you have a way to do so. Everything will go to our debt.   

Today, the house is quieter than ever before. The tree and other Christmas decorations will go up when we are ready. There is no rush. Life is moving on and that is how it's supposed to be. I miss my sweet girl, but the pain is easing with time and it is being replaced by love and joy, so much that it overwhelms me at times. 

Our life with Courtney was hard as hell BUT was incredibly blessed and absolutely amazing. Her story was written with a Divine pen and the next chapter continues to blow us away. 

My daughter is a saint among Saints and I am humbled and honored that I was chosen to love her and carry her through this life. To be honest there were many times that she carried us through. We were the BEST team, my Courtney and me. 

We still are and I thank God every day for that. 

With LOVE and Many Blessings, 

Friday, November 20, 2015

miss me? I miss you...


I hope this little post finds y'all well. I have missed being here in this space. I really have. You guys are like family and it has been too long since our last visit. 

Things here in Lenaburgland are busy. We are all exhausted but it's a good exhausted. All three of us have new jobs and we are still figuring out our new rhythm as a family of three. I have done much better making sure everyone is fed and laundry is done. 

Don't look too closely at my house though. You might be able to write in my dust. I recently watched too huge dust bunnies duke it out for ownership of a prime corner in the living room. It was an EPIC battle and yet I was not really motivated to get the duster out. Housewife fail. 

Yes, housecleaning is on the list. It will get done. Eventually. Maybe. Someday. 

Anyhoo, I am loving my job. LOVING it! I recently conquered the copy machine like a boss! That is after it had spewed single-sided copies instead of double-sided copies, copies that should have been vertical but were horizontal and all kinds of other madness. Three days in...we came to a detante. It is finally cooperating and I am enjoying this time of peace. Relationships with office equipment are difficult to maintain but I am working on it. 

One day at a time. 

I am also enjoying this thing called a "lunch hour". I have never had one of those before. The concept is that you stop working and actually sit down and eat lunch, without interruption. Have you ever heard of such insanity? Me either. It's kind of cool I gotta say. 

My co-workers are awesome, my boss is pretty chill and I get to wear make-up and dress nicely everyday. It's like I am an actual grown-up. I smile at people, give comfort when needed and spend time with the Lord all day long. I don't know what I did to deserve such a gift but I am incredibly thankful for it. 

If I am being honest though, I would trade it all for my Courtney back. Golly it's quiet without her. Unfortunately for me that's not how God wished to write this chapter of my story. I could not have imagined all that has happened in the last year. God has been so generous, so very generous. I am humbled every day at how He loves me. 

Many of you have inquired privately as to how we are doing as we approach Courtney's first anniversary. We are doing OK. There are times when each of us has a "moment" or twelve and we work our way through it. 

I miss her. I do. Next weekend we will decorate the house for Christmas, just as we have done for the last twenty-seven years. It's our tradition. The one thing we do that is not so liturgically correct. We decided this past summer that we would be home for Christmas. We wanted to be here in the house where our daughter took her last breath. It seems fitting to us to honor our girl this way as we head toward December 27, 2015. 

I will have Courtney's tree set up in my office, since I spend so much time there now. We will have our family tree here at the house as we do every year. I don't know how we will each navigate these coming weeks. We grieve so differently. I do know there will be lots of hugs, laughter and story telling. 

Courtney would not want it any other way. She is with us everyday, urging us forward, even though she cannot be with us here anymore. I think of the day we will get to see her again and my heart just leaps for joy. Death no longer holds it's sting. I look forward to that day. May God allow me that great privilege in His time.

How are you doing? What's happening in your life? Can't wait to hear all about it. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015


In four hours this handsome son of mine turns 26! 

Where oh where did the time go? 

I remember that cold November night in Brunswick, Maine. It was the first snow of the season that year and my boy took his sweet time arriving, 36 hours of labor and two hours of pushing before he finally decided to cooperate. 

He has not changed much since. LOL! He does things in his own time and is as stubborn as the day us long. Just like his Daddy. When he sets his mind to something, he will not give up until it is conquered. 

Jonathan Douglas, your Daddy and I are honored that God chose us for you and you for us. I know this past year has been very tough but you have shown such fortitude and perseverance working your way through your grief for your sister. You were the very best big brother she could have ever asked for. You loved and protected her from the very beginning until the very end. 

Oh how she loved you in return. All those smiles while you read to her, the snuggles on the sofa and the always moving legs trying to trip you up when you would walk by. She was a sneaky little pickle for sure. 

You are an incredibly kind, loving, faith-filled and hilariously funny young man. 

Happy Birthday Son! 

I love you to the moon and back! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

what to do when a friend is going through a hard time...

Friendship is a sacred thing to me. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty awesome girlfriends in my lifetime. It amazes me at God's generosity in this area of my life. I am and have been so incredibly blessed. 

A good friendship takes work on both sides. As you develop and change as a person, so do your friendships. There are ups and downs, each of you stretching and growing within the bounds of that friendship. 

Time changes people. Time changes friendships and that's OK. It is part of life. Some friendships are meant to take place within a time or season. God brings them to you as you need each other and then you each move on. 

Recently, several of my friends have gone through struggles. You name it, many have faced it. As their friend, I have a specific role to play when they are in the middle of a battle. 

#1- Pray for them 
I have a prayer journal and inside the front cover I have my girlfriends names listed. I pray for them every day. When trouble hits, I hit my knees and ratchet up the prayer heat. This is always my first step of support. 

#2 - Listen
When the calls come and they need to vent. Listen. Meet them where they are and just listen. Don't take on their worry or anger, just listen and pray to the holy spirit to give you the right word of support. A listening friend is a true gift. 

#3 - Be There 
I mean show up at the house with flowers, an encouraging note, dinner or just give them a hug, but physically be there. Words are one thing,but to show up is the sign of a true friend. You have shown them with your actions, how much they mean to you. 

#4 - Don't try to "fix" it
Not your circus. Not your monkeys. 
When your friend is struggling be there to pray, listen and support but unless they ask you for it, hush it and don't try to fix things. This is their issue to work through and you are there to help support them as they figure things out. 

#5 - What is shared between girlfriends, stays between girlfriends 
No gossip. No sharing (only with your spouse). Keep it to yourself. Trust is key is any relationship but especially when someone is in distress. So pray, listen, be there and keep your mouth shut. Once that trust is broken, you can try and rebuild the friendship, but it will never be the same. 

These five things have really helped me over the last three decades to maintain some wonderful friendships. What have you done to build and maintain your friendships? Please share in the comments. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

new is nothing to fear...

Everywhere I look these days, the terrain is new and unfamiliar. New job, new beginnings, new lessons, even a new way of looking at the world. 

Courtney has been in heaven for 10 and a half months now and there is nothing in my world that has remained the same. Jerry has a new job, Jonathan has a new job and so do I. No more yoga pants for Mama. There are new schedules to adjust to, new diet, new exercise plan, new goals to make and a new future to plan. 

The fog of grief continues to lift and life is moving forward. It has made me really think about what's important in my day. It has clarified my priorities and removed quite a bit if bulk from what I thought I needed to do to what I can actually get done. 

One of the greatest lessons Courtney's life taught me was that every day is a new beginning. Every day brings new hope and new opportunities. 

I am so grateful for that re-set. As I learn and stretch myself daily in my new job, I rely on the grace and mercy that the Cross has made available to me. 

Oh, how I need it. 

Such an imperfect human I am, filled with pride and at times a serious lack of humility. Boy does that complicate things. I realized I needed to up my prayer game in a big way to make it through these adjustments or I was going to fall on my butt and it was not going to be pretty. 

Before my daily prayer was "Lord, let my daughter live another day." Now my daily prayer is "Lord allow me to honor you this day and be the face of Christ to someone in need."

I know I have been called to this new job for a reason and I know my daughter had a BIG something to do with it. It is new and scary and at times downright intimidating but somehow I have peace in my heart that calms me and says "one step at a time Mary". 

I see my daughters smiling face in my minds eye and know she is with me as I help those put in my path. I know it is because of her that this new life is even possible. My sweet Courtney taught me patience, perseverance, fortitude, faith and courage. She taught me to be brave and to dream the impossible. She taught to serve with joy. 

It's all new, but that is no reason to be afraid of what the future holds for me. He is making all things new, refining and rebuilding our family. God provided every single day my daughter took a breath this side of heaven and He has continued to do so every day since. 

New is not a bad thing. New is an exciting thing. New is nothing to fear. New is to be embraced.

Carpe Diem my friends, 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

what i wore ~ working girl...

It has been quite the week. 

I said goodbye to my two little four year old companions and entered the land of full-time working girl. 

Phew. I did it. I became an actual grown-up with an office and a desk calendar. Who knew it was possible? 

"Not I," said Mary "not I."

This week's What I Wore includes several outfits from my week. I tried to wear things that brought me confidence as  I enter this whole new world. I didn't take photos everyday because overwhelmed with adulting thy name is Mary. I have not quite figured out how to get a photo before I leave for work because my guys are already gone for the day.  Then the thought of taking one in my bedroom mirror with the disaster that is my bedroom behind me for the world to see was not an option this week. A girl has to maintain a little mystery here and there. 

All of these photos were taken between 6-8 pm. Some of them were taken in front of my day care shelves filled with disorganized toys and a few were taken in the front yard. So if my hair or makeup looks a bit off, just know it was fixed/applied ten hours earlier. 

#1 was my last day with my little wonders, so casual was the name of the game. Long sleeve navy tee and jeans from Nordi's, orange flats and striped sweater from Macy's. All these pieces were in my closet. 

#2 Both pieces are new. Yes, I said new. Jerry took me on a little shopping trip one afternoon to celebrate my new position. I was in desperate need of some dress pants and a few tops that fit into the "business casual" box. Both pieces are from Dress Barn. They were having a wicked sale and the whole outfit was less than $50. Score!!

#3 These are also two new pieces from the same shopping trip. The green top with lace sleeves is from Land's End and the black slacks were from Dress Barn. Both on sale, both can be worn with other things. The shoes and accessories are older. 

The key to making a business wardrobe work is to select pieces that are interchangable. Think of it in terms of a capsule wardrobe. Basic colors, staple pieces and then let your accessories do their job with creating different looks. 

One very big part of my job is to co-ordinate funerals. This means being appropriately dressed for both the meetings and the Mass. Black is most appropriate and as you can imagine I did not have a lot in my wardrobe. I am a fan of color but with new responsibilities come new wardrobe requirements. 

Enter #4. Basic black with a lace panel down the front. It is appropriate for work and for a night out with my guy. Again, watch for those sales. This number is from Dress Barn and was under $40 and is machine washable. My kind of awesome. 

So there you have it. My working girl wardrobe week one. I am looking forward to the challenge of my new job as well as actually wearing real clothing for the first time in a few decades day after day. 

Happy Sunday Y'all, 

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