"Raising Souls"

"Raising Souls"

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I finally down loaded pictures from my camera from our trip to Arizona which included some great pictures of a hike we took in the desert. It was a family work trip and was a also a great little vacation. Jeremy and I love Phoenix/Scottsdale and we often joke (and even not joke) about how nice it would be to live there.

We love the rock formations-

Am I willing to give up what I have in order to be what I am not yet?
Am I able to follow the spirit of love into the desert?
It is a frightening and sacred moment. There is no return.
One's life is charged forever. It is the fire that gives us our shape.
Mary Richards


pools and orange trees on every block -

weather -

and the diocese and Bishop there.

This is our second trip there for performances and each trip now holds some vivid memories. The first trip I was 8 months pregnant with Augustine and in a lot of pain, wondering what it would be like to meet our little son! I even had an emergency visit to the ER due to extreme lower back pain. Early labor? In Phoenix???

Thankfully, no, but it was an adventure all the same.

On our last trip this past January the weather was perfect and sitting under orange trees in the golden sun is exactly the kind of warm memories I want to think about during this cold and snowy March.

*I am not going to reflect on our trip home which involved us all getting stomach flu with an infant throwing up all night long and me needing an emergency fluid IV on THE FLIGHT!!! Memorable quotes included...'Is there a Doctor on the plane??' 'I can hardly feel her pulse!' 'The pilot can make an emergency stop in Denver. He has already called it in if we need it.' I may enjoy SOME drama, but not THAT kind of drama. All in the day of an actor. There does seem to be drama on all corners of our life. Whether I like it or not. Speaking of WEATHER... moving on...*


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snow Day!

I get a snow day?? This never happens! I am actually happy for this late March snow. Jeremy and I were supposed to do a show at St. Michael's Church in St. Michael, MN today but due to the snow - we get the day off! We actually still have to work today, at home, but it is still a rather pleasant treat. To top it off Augustine slept in until 9am and when he got up we all cuddled and enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs. I recently watched a cooking show about how to make the perfect scrambled eggs, so I gave it a try. They were delicious!

I will give one last tribute to snow this year and then GOODBYE we will be glad to see you go!

A car crash this winter just 10ft from our front door.

Snow drifts up to the top of the fence.

What a perfect year to get blessed with our very own snow blower! It even made snow removal less of a chore this year and saved Jeremy from hours of back breaking shoveling.

Another mound of snow... oh, wait! That is my car buried. If you look closely you can see the antenna.

And lastly a video of Augustine's first experience with snow!
Happy snow day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friends and Fun!

Augustine and I met up with friends at the children's museum for a day of play (boys) and great conversation/coffee (moms). I caught some precious pictures of the two of them checking each other out and I couldn't resist posting them... Augustine was greeted with great curious yank of the hair by his super cute little tyke of a friend.

After that he was a bit cautious and clingy but soon warmed up to his little friend and enjoyed analyzing his little ears.

The picture (above) makes me laugh as Augustine so carefully approaches touching his little friend's ear.

It will be so fun to see how these two boys grow up together as friends...


Monday, March 21, 2011

Behind the Scenes

Actors live such a glamorous lifestyle. Right?

Hahahhahhahahhha.....not so much.

Ahhh... that's more like it.
Jeremy and I just finished a three day run of shows and it was pretty tedious. The shows went great, but the nature of this work is so very very draining. I think most people do not realize just how exhausting this work is, and while we have a passion for our ministry's mission, some days we wonder how we survive the long days...

Here's a day behind the scenes:

We get on the road as early as 6am, if we haven't already driven right through the night to our destination. We arrive, and begin load in carrying large heavy boxes from the trailer to the performance location. Next we set up the show and equipment which takes as long as 8 hours. If things do not go smoothly that means we are left still prepping for the show minutes before the start of the show. I could go into great detail about what it means for things to "not go smoothly", but I will spare you the drama. We have some pretty crazy stories. The performance then requires us to pour our heart and soul and full range of emotion into every word we speak sometimes requiring full out fight scenes and long monologues packed with emotion and energy. Then, for example, Friday's show of THE SCRUTINY PASSION was followed by a short talk (by Jeremy) and adoration. We then have to tear down the entire set for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. If we have no volunteers to help us it can be pretty exhausting and take as long as 3hrs. Loading the equipment into the trailer can be knee cap dislocating (add a trip to the ER to top off the night) or back breaking (Jeremy has had 2 lower back surgeries). We find it is 11pm or even midnight and we have not eaten in 10hrs, the booking location forgot to pay us, we have been traveling and working for 16 hrs, and on a rare occasion Jeremy has to then drive overnight to the next location to repeat.

It's long and tedious, but is indeed a labor of love. It has many benefits and blessings as well and it is extremely rewarding to hear from the audience or booking host positive feedback on how the performance touched them deeply or inspired them. Sometimes we leave wondering how the next day will be provided for or where the next dollar will come from. I think God really allows us to journey in this way of unknowing to realize, in an acute way, that He is our provider and that none of this is for our own glory. I often think as I choke back tears back at the tech table during an especially moving or touching part of one of the plays... God allows me to do this work so that I can see these plays over and over. So that I can constantly be reminded of holy men and woman who were confronted with great trials and with the power of prayer and God's grace endured them with great faith.

One of the quotes from the play that I remind myself and Jeremy of often is this, "The gospel does not promise a comfortable life to any of us." Its true we are called to carry our crosses, and that is not a bad thing. Taking up our crosses and following Christ is rewarding in ways we don't often even see. When I die I hope God shows me what this work has done for people. Will I, God willing, get to walk through the heaven of pure JOY and PEACE and have Jesus point to people along the way, and as he does, I will know in an instant how my life, my husband, and this work impacted them? I sure hope so!

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise. "


Thursday, March 17, 2011

A drop of Irish goes a looooooong way!

*A special tribute to my mom the most Irish person I know ;-)*

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

Growing up my Mom and Dad did a phenomenal job making holidays special, usually on a very very tight budget. St. Patrick's Day was all my mom's domain. She had a drop (literally) of Irish heritage in her family tree and she made the most of it. On St. Patrick's Day we were all 100% Irish! My mom would (and still does) decorate the house with green Irish hats, clover on the windows, and her collection  of Irish cards that my Dad has given her over the years. Being home schooled the day was Irish themed. Music class (and gym?) consisted of marching all around the house to McNamara's Band. Prayer time was embedded with old Irish proverbs and prayers. Oh, and you could be sure there would be some real Irish fare for dinner! Corned beef and potatoes maybe some cabbage and, my favorite, Irish soda bread!! As we got older grasshoppers were on the menu for dessert. It's enough to make me drive 5 hrs back home just to be with my mom and her infectious Irish spirit. Since I am here and not there... I have taken up the same Irish spirit ready to celebrate this holiday with all the spirit I have, while bringing my own small family into the festivities. Today I made green chocolate mint pancakes for breakfast for Jeremy and Augustine had green peas. We all dressed in green and gave Irish Good morning kisses and pinches. Then we have a performance of the (Eucharistic) Miracle in Lanciano at St. Patrick's Church in Oak Grove, MN. (That's right we can't forget the REAL purpose of St. Patrick's Day! An awesome Saint of the Church and the original purpose for this celebration. What?? It's not green beer??)

So, in honor of my mom, I have included some Irish Prayers and Proverbs with pictures from today's celebrations...

As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.

May the dust from your wagon wheels blind the eyes of your enemies

May the grass grow long on the road to hell for want of use.

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Like the goodness of the five loaves and two fishes,
Which God divided among the five thousand men,
May the blessing of the King who so divided
Be upon our share of this common meal.

And to finish this is an Irish prayer that is a classic and one of my favorites...

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

No Car? No problem?

Jeremy and I have been sharing a car for almost an entire year now. That is a huge feat for two pretty independent people. Thankfully we work together, out of the house mostly, so it hasn't been to hard. However, when he travels for a show without me, which is becoming more preferred due to our antsy 11 1/2 month old, I am left home without a car. In the past I have just stayed home for a few days and went a bit stir crazy. It does make for a REEEEEeeeeeaaallllllllyyyy long few days when you can't leave the house and have no other distractions other than the phone and Internet.

So, I have recently branched out and decided to try St. Paul's convenient bus system. The 54 bus goes right by my house and I have thought for some time that I wanted to try it out. I am pretty comfortable with mass transportation after navigating my way around London for 3 months and across Italy and Spain. However, the bus in St. Paul was by far the most intimidating. It was mostly intimidating because I am no longer single. I have a baby, with a mind of his own. If he desperately needs a nap, he needs a nap! If he hurt himself, got sick, got hit by a car, got attacked by a rabid raccoon,  got.... well, you get the idea.... What if?????? I have to sit and wait for the bus to come and pick us up and then not get home home for an additional 1/2 hr.

Despite all these 'what ifs?' I figured, I would rather have a crazy fun bus adventure with my son than 4 days of sitting home going stir crazy. 

I had it planned perfectly. I timed how long it would take me to walk to my bus stop, how much it would cost, how long the bus trip would take, and whether I should take a stroller or front pack. And so we were off! After Augustine's nap we headed down to the gas station to get cash and sit and wait for the bus. Augustine looked like a huge stuffed teddy bear in his blue snow suit and strapped to my chest.

He loved it and chatted eagerly. (He likes an adventure as much as I do!) We got to mass in downtown St. Paul with no problem and then walked across the street to spend the day at The Children's Museum. We both had a blast and here are a few pics to prove it! :-)

Among all the other things to do and see I had to pull Augustine away from books multiple times.

The ride home went very smoothly as well and exhausted Augustine fell fast asleep in my arms in the crowded bus. Look at those lips!

I am really glad I gave the bus a try and I would definitely do it again! It was a really fun outing without parking troubles and other mishaps.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catholics take over... McDonalds???

Yes, its true.

Last night Jeremy and I went to McDonald's to pick up a RedBox movie and once we were inside the McDonald's our noses were tantalized by the smells of hot french fries. So after choosing our movie... we decided to get their fish and fries deal.

I couldn't resist posting this picture with this post ... this is a picture of a Large Mouth Bass that I caught July '10. Biggest fish caught on the fishing trip. It was caught off the dock with a broken fishing pole. But, I digress...

"Give me that there fillet-o-fish, give me that there fish." Last year when I was pregnant in my 10th month of pregnancy, with Augustine, we sang that jingle all the time... even making bets about words we couldn't understand in the jingle. It's amazing the weird variety of good memories that we create. So, perhaps last night we created another weird fun memory. I say this because I was caught watching the workers frantically making sandwich after sandwich of FISH!! The manager was yelling "Keep the fish coming! Keep the fish coming!! We are 20 behind on Fish, keep em' coming!!" This McDonald's was packed and everyone was ordering fish. Oh, yeah, did I mention yet that this was a Friday?

It just kind of struck me... McDonald's employees were overwhelmed with what appeared to be a lot of Catholics fasting from meat on Friday. Now granted getting dinner at McD's, even if it is fish, is hardly a fast, it was still pretty cool to see. Many non-practicing Catholics still observe fasting from meat on Fridays in lent. I'm not 100% sure why.... maybe it's because it has turned into one of those 'weird/fond memories' from their childhood having fish sticks and fries on Fridays in lent. Maybe it's that one small thing that's still Catholic in them. It's kind of like going to mass twice a year at Christmas and Easter. However small it may be, I really do hope and pray that God will take their one small 'yes' and build upon it grace. I'm trying to be in balance and in the moment this lent and that flood of fish orders at McDs has inspired me with a new prayer. Lord, take advantage of all the very small 'yeses' that people make this lent. The sandy beach is not one big yes but rather millions and billions of tiny small grains of yeses, each one counts towards the whole.

Below is a fun video we captured of Augustine, after our yummy fish dinner, laughing his heart out and "being all boy" as Jeremy says.

Make the most of today - even that trip to McDonald's!             

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Playing the drum with Aunt Lisa

The video below is of Augustine at 11 months dancing to his music. He spends hours each day sitting below the CD player eager to clap for the next song to play. Sometimes he takes a break from clapping, dancing and swaying his arms to the music to pull out all the DVDs on the shelf below. Occasionally I think, "why doesn't he play with his toys? Is he missing out on learning when he sits listening to music?" After these thoughts I just shrug my shoulders and think maybe he will be slow to say his first word but will be a music or dancing genius!! We parents spend too much time comparing and worrying. Is my child developing properly? Are they behind?? Why isn't he saying MAMMA YET!!!!!! His world revolves around mamma (mamma Augustine - mamma!). He can say MMMMM he can say AAAaaaaa. He can clap on command. He licks his lips to indicate he is hungry or thirsty. ...and yet still no mamma. (Music Genius, Sarah. Music Genius!)

This only reminds me of when I longed for him to start to crawl. ...finally he did and it was pretty awesome. But even already I think, 'Hmmm I wish I hadn't rushed it or spent time hoping it.' Especially on days when he pulls out every DVD on our shelves. One day he will be saying "Mamma, MOMMA, MOMMA!!!! MAAAAAMMMMMMMAAA mamamamamamamamammaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!" ....and I will remember this moment and think of those sweet days when he just sat clapping and swaying to his music.

Today I pledge to be in the moment. To be in the present, and enjoy it! :-)


Monday, March 7, 2011

Everyone needs a new beginning...

                        Picture from my performance in THE SCRUTINY PASSION

Lent is and should be for everyone. It is a wonderful opportunity to just start over. To say, I've been failing or falling short but I can start over. What a wonderful and beautiful feeling. What a joyful realization. Like the feeling you have after you wake up from a bad dream. Living pain and fear and anxiety and then Ash Wednesday rolls around and wakes us up and says - you get to START OVER! God is such a wonderful Father always giving us chances and opportunities to begin anew. Now, the major difference between starting over with a new years resolution and starting over with Lent is that a new years resolution is ME trying to be a better ME through much of MY own willpower and desire and Lent is GOD based. All the "resolutions" of lent are with the focus of God. Fasting is more for the purpose of holiness and discipline than health but many times do we get the added benefit of health. A perfect example of how putting God first orders everything to balance in our lives. And balance is key.

I actually get giddy for Lent as I do for Christmas. I have this excited anticipation of knowing my potential as a mother, wife, friend, and most importantly child of God.

Most years I go crazy with the fasting.... since I have seen awesome things happen in my life from fasting. It is a sort of ripple effect it really draws me into a greater spiritual awareness. When I am hungry or abstaining from foods I enjoy I think of why I am doing it and it constantly draws my focus back to God. It works.

This year, I am trying a different focus... rather than having the fasting lead me to a greater spiritual life. I want to try the other way around this year. First off not by my own grace but by His. To help me grow in holiness as a better wife I am going to do the Love Dare book (based on the book from the movie "Fire proof.") If you are not familiar with this book or movie check it out. It is really great. (I watched the movie by myself in the theatre and balled my eyes out. It is a bit cheesy but the message is awesome!) A nun focuses on her vocation... and so a wife should her vocation. I have to say i may have lost focus. I was kind of just focusing on - me. But I am called to a great vocation as a wife, a holy vocation that I mean to whip into shape this Lent. God help me! In a sense God gave me the idea to do the book... and it is a 40 day journal/guide, perfect for the 40 days of Lent. He also helped me find the book which was given to Jeremy and I as a wedding gift and was somewhat lost in the shuffle. Ok, so that is the first thing.

Second, I need to refresh and renew my prayer life. I am reading a book called, "Eat, Pray, Love". Now the religious stuff in it can be pretty hokey at times, but I've gleaned some really great stuff from it. The second long section was on Yogic Meditation in India. ...not all in line with the Christian Faith, of course, but interesting none-the-less. She spent tedious hours meditating on one mantra and being open to change and healing. The last part, that I am reading now, is in Indonesia,  her mentor offers her the first bit of advice to meditation. "Do you smile when you meditate? Smile while you meditate. Smile in your whole body. Smile in your liver." I have to admit it kind of inspired me. The thought of taking 15 min. out of each hectic day to just breathe in and breathe out a prayer. "Renew and Refresh my spirit Lord. Renew (breathe) and Refresh (breathe). Come Lord Jesus (breathe), make me holy...." and SMILE while doing it. I tried a little practice run and it was pretty joyful!!! The psychology of smiling while doing this was pure joy. I remember learning that very thing in my psych class. Now many unbelievers can reason this all away through explanations of physiology, psychology, and hokey... but that's why I glean from these sources of yoga, psychology, and even, I guess, an old medicine man from Indonesia. Because they are helpful but NOT the answer. God is the one that makes our prayers truly mean something. God is the one that makes renewal lasting. In the end God is the only true reason I have to smile at the end of the day. So part 2 of Lent will be spending a few minutes per day (goal at least 15min.) being still and doing the above mentioned, while smiling. Then, I'll let God do the rest! :-) In addition to that I will try to go to daily mass at least twice per week. That is realistic in my world.

Third of all I will do some sort of fasting... I am not entirely sure yet what that will be but I may not share that part, since Lent is also very much about not wearing your ashes around. In other words our offerings are to be private so that we do not feel any glory or get any satisfaction from them. "Ooo look at Sarah she is fasting on only bread today... Wow, she's so holy." I don't want that to be my reward. I want holiness to be my reward!!

and lastly.... I am going to try to incorporate training for this marathon into the mix. Discipline. Discipline. Disipline.

So, prayers to you all as you begin a renewing this Lent.

Friday, March 4, 2011

1/2 Marathon Training!

                                               This picture is from a looooong hike up a mountain in New Zealand.

Disclaimer: "I am training for a half marathon. That does not guarantee the half marathon will be run."

So, it is about time I just spill the beans. I've been training for a 1/2 marathon the past few weeks. Well, at first I wasn't sure if I was actually all in or just secretly hoping I wouldn't wimp out. I haven't made it public knowledge, until now. Even writing this I get this hesitant feeling in my gut. That fear. That fear of failure. If I say I am doing it - I HAVE to do it! 

I guess my main concern is that if God blesses us with another pregnancy in the midst of this training I just don't think I'll be able to complete the 1/2 marathon. I know it can be done, but with my first pregnancy I couldn't excercise for like 11 months! None-the-less, I am going to give it a try.

Thanks to my rocking friend Sarah who kicks my butt on the track, I am now up to FIVE miles!! I am so pumped!

In the months prior to getting married I got into an exercise/breast cancer research study called WISER with the U of M. I was randomly selected to be in the exercise control group. It was for four months and required me to run 5 times per week. It was a 30 min workout/run but was based on my heart rate, so towards the end of the training I was running on a treadmill with all resistance going uphill as fast as my legs could go. It was KILLER! Some fond memories of the study were getting up at 6am to go running on my wedding day, working out on the treadmill on our cruise ship during our honeymoon while Jeremy took a nap, running in circles and up and down our stairs at our tiny newlywed apartment at 11:00 at night, and lastly begging Jeremy to go with me to the gym at 12:00 MIDNIGHT so I could get my workout in while he worked (I was to scared to go alone.) After the four months were up I found out I was pregnant and didn't work out for the next 11 months. How is that for a break?!

The study was fascinating and I was able to see how I significantly built up bone density and how much fat I had lost in each part of my body, including my fingers! I was pretty proud of myself for how in shape and healthy I was. I was definitely in the best shape of my life which is what most girls would want for their wedding day. It worked out great. However, I never thought I would be able to motivate myself to workout like that again. Not that I am not a motivated person but when it comes to working out I am no personal trainer that's for sure.

Running a half marathon would really push me to my limits again and it would be my choice. I also love to see how discipline in one area affects other areas of my life. For example, I love junk food, I could easily eat a half gallon of icecream or a bag of chips or 2 bags of popcorn or an entire pizza. However, after a long run I prefer to eat more healthy - to nourish my body. I am much more self aware. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and I should treat my body in this way. This training is a physical reminder of "running the race", as Saint Paul so wisley says, in my spiritual and emotional life. Becoming disciplined in prayer, family time, housework, outreach, organization, cleaning, and health. What a perfect lead into my Lenten reflections. More on  that to come...

So here is where you all come in... accountability. Updates to come!

Keeping it real,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Motherhood: the occupational hazards - Part I

Warning: this is not graphic but may not be for the faint of heart.

Yes, it's true and every mother knows it. There are occupational hazards to being a mother.

For my first example... let me set the scene...

It's a cold winter day somewhere lost in between January and February. A little precious creature whom you dearly call yours with the face of an angel gets the whines... then the sniffles... then yes, you guessed it. A COLD.

Well, the true hazard is the sneeze. How could such a volcano flow from such a little person?? If you are really lucky you have a tissue waiting in your hand. If you are really un-lucky, which seems to be me when it comes to this subject, the closest tissue is a mile away or somehow buried deep in my purse or pocket - which might as well be a mile away! I desperately search for a tissue, remembering my magician assistant days, and hoping somehow a tissue will not only appear but come dancing to me. (Yes, I really was a magician's assistant. And, yes, he really did have a dancing tissue trick.) Meanwhile, my little one figures out what to do. Oh, yes, they are so resourceful. A mother wears pants, shirt, and socks these are perfect replacements for above mentioned tissue. Other replacements include couch, chair, carpet, and of course remote control.

Hey, just keeping it real! :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Worm

As a first time mom I read the blogs, the websites, the books, and the magazines. I kept reading over and over... read to your baby... in the womb... while nursing... while sleeping....etc. etc... As the ambitious, and yet a bit unsure, first time mother, desperate to give my baby the best start ever, I tried the book thing. Studies show reading to babies increases their love for books, for their lifetime! Because they connect reading with a cozy happy feeling. And loving to read is generally recognized with reading more and powerful brain development and creativity. Despite the encouragement in studies, I quickly grew discouraged. It only took a few story times with my wriggling newborn to realize he was just a little to little and I would rather just snuggle with him than try to get him to look at a book and hear me read. Boy am I glad I didn't push it, how silly! When he got a little older and more attentive I did begin reading to him. ...and it naturally clicked!

Augustine would prefer a huge pile of books than mounds and mounds of toys. All day he flips through their pages and traces the pictures within. (Even now as I write this he is flipping through books.) He is always eager to have someone read him a book, especially if the book includes poems or things that can be sung.

I am so glad to see Augustine's passion for books, it mirrors my own passion. I so look forward to the day when I can read books to him that don't involve green eggs and ham or me having to cluck like a chicken, although for now - that's ok too!