Fonticulus Fides

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Blessings to you and yours...

...on the occasion of the Feast of the Pentacost.

Do yourself a favor and really have some sort of feast today. It's important to celebrate these things and give thanks to God.

We were spared tornadoes in this neck of the woods yesterday, although the weather remains condusive. Clean-up from last week's storm continues. The Hallam residents are going to vote whether to rebuild or just let Hallam become a ghost town. The agricultural damage is estimated at $60 million at least, could go higher. Over 114,000 acres of crops in this county alone were destroyed last week. And other parts of the state had baseball size hail yesterday -- that'll kill off a young corn or soybean crop real fast. Not to mention all the equipment damage. It's a heavy burden to bear, particularly when so many farmers have been battling drought for the last 8 years. Pray for them, please.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Pentacostal Novenal, Day Nine

O come, Holy Spirit, come!
Come as holy fire and burn in us.
Come as holy wind and cleanse us.
Come as holy light and lead us.
Come as holy forgiveness and free us.
Come as holy love and enfold us.
Come as holy power and enoble us.
Come as holy life and dwell in us.
Convict us, conver us, consecrate us until we are wholly yours for your using, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!


Friday, May 28, 2004

Pentacost Novena, Day Eight

O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear,

Penetrate my inmost heart that I may ever be indful of Your presence. Make me fly from sin and give me intense reverence for God and for my fellow men, who are made in God's image.

O Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and giver of every good gift. Grant me I beseech You (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Pentacostal Novena, Day Seven

Forgot to post yesterday's -- sorry.

O blessed Spirit of Piety,

Possess my heart, incline it to a true faith in You, to a holy love of You, my God, that with my whole soul I may seek You , who are my Father, and find You, my best and truest joy.

O Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and the giver of every good gift. Grant me I beseech You (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Tornadoes are particularly mystifying in the way things are not destroyed during the storm, but strangely swirled out of their original location and gently deposited elsewhere.

One of my college roommates was from Zion, Illinois, a city that was visited by a tornado in the early 1980s, if I remember right. Jill told me that when she and her family emerged from the basement to survey the damage after the tornado passed through, they walked outside to find a ladder leaning upright against their garage – a ladder that didn’t belong to them. On the third rung of the ladder sat a pitcher of orange juice, almost as though somebody had left it there to consume later.

Stories like that are starting to come out of Hallam, too. One lady was picking through the rubble of what used to be her kitchen and found three unbroken eggs lying on the floor. Her refrigerator door was in the backyard, but the fridge itself was nowhere to be found. Odd that a tornado strong enough to crumple railroad cars and snap the trunks of tall oak trees would have been able to swipe three eggs out of their container and set them carefully on the floor, then smash the rest of the house around them without leaving so much as a hairline crack.

There’s a metaphor to this, but I can’t quite work it out in my head this morning.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Pentacost Novena, Day Five

O blessed Spirit of Fortitude,

Uphold my soul in every time of troubel or adversity. Make me loyal and confident.

O, Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and the giver of every good gift. Grant me I beseech You (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.


P.S. I know, I forgot to put Day Four up yesterday. Sorry. It was just chaos at my house & I didn't even dig out my pamphlet until around midnight some time.

Also missed my mom's birthday -- what was I thinking? It was yesterday, and may God bless her today and for the rest of her 67th year. At least I had the kids make cards & mailed them late last week.

Inspirational Story...

...about the Communion of Saints. This article ran in our local paper on Sunday and actually features an acquaintenance of mine, Chris, who was one of the folks praying for us as we considered converting to Catholicism.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Damage Update

The initial estimates were low. Now they are saying that 95% of the homes and businesses in Hallam were completely destroyed and all of the remaining 5% suffered damage. Every single citizen has had to be relocated -- I think it's 260-some people. The video they are showing on the news is just so devastating. Entire blocks wiped out. From the outskirts of town, Hallam just looks like a pile of matchsticks.

Other folks in the surrounding areas also lost homes and other property. A nearby high school is probably a total loss -- luckily, classes ended on Friday for the summer. Not sure what they will do come fall. They certainly can't build an entire high school in three months.

They interviewed a farmer from Holland, Nebraska, who was born in his family homestead 73 years ago and has lived there ever since. He saw the funnel cloud coming and dashed to the basement. Just as he hit the bottom step, his entire house was lifted away from him. All his farm buildings and equipment were destroyed, too. He could hardly speak of it, so profound was his loss. And then his eyes brightened and he said, "But we made it to church this morning. God has been good to us. We can't complain."

I need faith like that.


Tornado Damage

I don't know if the national news is broadcasting the information or not (usually not), but Nebraska had a series of 11 tornados last night, all here in the southeast corner of the state. The little town of Hallam, just 25 miles south of here, was pretty much obliterated. Initial estimates were that 80% of the buildings suffered damage. I watched one news reel, and every single house on one street was smashed, every single tree either uprooted or snapped off about 10 feet off the ground. One 73-year-old woman died, another person is reported missing, but the officials are still going door-to-door to make sure every person is accounted for, so the number could rise.

Please be in prayer for these folks. Also, if you can send some monetary relief, it would sure be appreciated, since almost the entire town needs to be rebuilt. You can make a donation to the American Red Cross, designating it to "Hallam, Nebraska." I'm going to see about getting together some material goods.


Pentacost Novena, Day Three

O blessed Spirit of Understanding,

Enlighten my mind, that I may know and love the truths of faith and make them truly my own.

O Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and the give or every good gift. Grant me I beseech you (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Novena, Day Two

O blessed Spirit of Wisdom,

help me to seek God. Make Him the center of my life and order my life to Him, so that love and harmony reign in my soul.

O Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and the giver of every good gift. Grant me I beseech you (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.


Friday, May 21, 2004

Pentacost Novena, Day One

This was handed out at our parish yesterday following Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption. The Novena was written by Rev. Msgr. T.J. Thorburn, JCL and received its Imprimatur from the Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, our Bishop.

God the Holy Spirit, love of the Father and the Son, I consecrate to You now and forever my whole being: my heart and my will, my body and my soul, my thoughts and desires, my words and actions, my joys and sorrows, my life and my death. I also consecrate to You all who are dear to me, and all that I am and have, that You may rule over us and Your love guide us.

O Holy Spirit, You are the highest gift of God most high and giver of every good gift. Grant me I beseech You (mention your petition). May Your will be done in me and through me.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Another Dad Update…

As of this afternoon, my dad is finally home and resting comfortably. Well, almost comfortably. He still has a number of weeks ahead of him before he’s fully recovered.

My father-in-law is home and not resting comfortably, but that’s only because the words "comfortable" and "rest" are complete opposites to him. He’s only comfortable when he’s working. I hear reports that he’s puttering around the yard and basement, looking for things to do. Tuesday he was working on his furnace – with four still-broken ribs! If anything, the man needs prayer that he will rest long enough to heal before he does something else to himself that requires medical intervention.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Maybe this is my problem:

You're a Narrative writer!

What kind of writer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I read too much old British fiction like Jane Austen & Charles Dickens, so the stuff I write comes out too long and meandering for today's sensibilities.

Thanks to Two Sleepy Mommies for the tip!


Monday, May 17, 2004

A struggle revealed…

Post-partum depression is strange thing. At least it has been for me. Frequently, I’ve tried to talk myself out of it – after all, I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children. I have my Lord and Savior, the communion of saints. A decent house, a decent life. There’s no need to be blue, let alone depressed. Let alone suicidal.

But I kept slipping, spiraling downward. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t get anything done. I couldn’t sleep, but I was so tired, I was barely awake. I didn’t want to eat – if I wasn’t nursing the baby, I wouldn’t have eaten at all. I would stare at the baby and wonder why she was smiling at me. I would look at the older kids and think, who are they? Whose children are they? Then some small thing would happen, and I’d lose my temper and start screaming at them.

It happened so gradually, I hardly noticed how bad I was getting. And then I guess I bottomed out. One day, I realized that I understood Andrea Yates. I understood why she felt like she had to murder her own kids. She was afraid of ruining them. She was afraid that her own psychosis would damage their ability to love, to trust, to serve Christ. She wanted to rescue them from the thing that had such a horrible grip on her own mind. She picked a desperately evil way to do it, but she wanted to save them, to get them into heaven before it was too late.

I wasn’t in any danger of doing the same thing to my kids – I’ve had way too many nightmares about the final moments of those five young Yates children. But I understood Andrea Yates, and that scared me. And I started to wonder how I could rescue my own kids from the damage I was inflicting on them.

I started gauging different means of dying. I rejected every form of suicide because I knew that there was no way to do that without hurting the children. I became obsessed with images of car accidents, house fires, tornadoes and so forth. Always trying to figure a way to keep the kids and my husband safe while I exited the scene.

About two weeks ago, my husband was getting the older kids ready for bed and I was sitting on the couch with the baby, thinking about strangulation and how wonderful such an embrace would feel.

Yeah, wonderful. "Wonderful embrace." That’s exactly how I described it in my head.

That did it. I went to see my doctor the next day and started a course of anti-depressants.

I’m ashamed to be on medication for this. I want to be strong enough and smart enough to just look the problem in the eye and make things right. I want to fix it by praying more and going to confession more and receiving the Eucharist more. I want to fix it with logic, because it’s just silly to feel the way I have been feeling.

But I’ve tried that and it’s not working. My doctor says it’s a chemical imbalance, my hormones and everything else are all out of whack. A few months on an antidepressant will get me over the worst of it. The medication will help clear my head and straighten out my thought processes. I hope by the end of the summer to start weaning myself off of it and fly solo again.

I went to see a counselor, too, because that kind of goes with the territory when you are dealing with depression. But she pretty much set me at ease, telling me I was doing all the right things, heading in the right direction.

Already, the creepy death obsession is fading away. I’m able to maintain my temper with the children better, too. The baby smiles at me and I find myself smiling back.

I’m still not 100%. Still need time and care to get myself back on track. But I write all this today in the hopes that I can help somebody else who is on the downward spiral. Don’t be afraid to ask for help like I was. If you can’t talk yourself out of the blues, you might need a little extra help. And it will help, if you’ll just give yourself permission to accept it.

So that’s what’s going on with me. Don’t hate me because I’m psycho, okay?


Update on our dads…

My father-in-law expects to get out of the hospital today. He’s still feeling the pain of his broken ribs, but at least the collapsed lung seems to be functioning and not filling up with fluid so much any more. He is anxious to get back to the farm. We're all anxious that he stays in bed once he gets there.

My dad’s recovery has been slowed down a bit by a looming infection. He’s on antibiotics to help with that, and trying to walk the hospital corridors a few times a day so he can go home, but my mom thinks it will be Wednesday at the earliest.


Friday, May 14, 2004

My dad is in the hospital too...

He had an enormous cyst on his kidney removed today. Surgery went well, but he's in quite a bit of pain. Prayers welcome, if you have a moment.


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Please pray for my father-in-law…

He had a bad fall yesterday (between floor joists of a building he and his brother were salvaging) and is in the hospital with 3 or 4 broken ribs, a wound on his hip and a (formerly) collapsed lung. His ribs are broken so badly, he might have to stay in the hospital for a full two weeks; otherwise he risks the lung collapsing again. They’ve got him on morphine now, but it might take something stronger than that to keep the guy in bed – everything you’ve heard about farmers being workaholics is true.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Best laid plans…

It’s my sponsor’s birthday today, and I wanted to do something special for her. With money a little tight, the best I could muster was a homemade birthday cake. She’s into the low-carb thing, so I made a flourless chocolate cake that’s really easy and quite tasty. It was sitting on the counter under a clean tea towel, ready to be transported when disaster struck. Edyn, in a fit of toddler curiosity, snatched the towel and brought the cake and cake plate down onto the kitchen floor, smashing both to smithereens. She burst into tears and my husband snatched her up before she managed to step on a shard of glass and cut her little foot. Then she proceeded to cry for another 25 minutes while I held her on my lap in a "time-in" and my husband cleaned up the mess. I wanted to cry, too, but all I could do was call my sponsor and tell her we wouldn’t be bringing a birthday cake to her today after all.

"Time-in," for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is an alternative to "time-out." Edyn is too little to stay in time-out without constant supervision anyway, so a time-in makes more sense with her. Basically, instead of expecting her to calm herself down, I try to help her by stroking her back or hair and occasionally whispering something into her ear. I usually don’t force her to stay on my lap, but with broken glass all over the kitchen floor, it was a safety issue. Frankly, I don’t know if she was crying because she was still scared from the cake thing or because she was angry that I wouldn’t put her down. Maybe both.

Well, if I get a chance to run to the store tonight, I will have to pick up some more chocolate chips so I can make another cake. Or maybe you’d like to try it? It’s a nice fudgy cake with one of those "cracked" tops.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bag chocolate chips (don’t skimp – buy the tastiest ones you can find)
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute like Splenda if you are going low-carb)
6 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter a 9" springform pan (mine is 10" and it works fine). Melt the butter and chocolate chips together, set aside to cool a bit. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar or sugar substitute and beat until stiff peaks form. Retrieve the chocolate mixture and whisk in the egg yolks. Fold 1/4 the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining whites. Transfer to prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake 45-50 minutes or until the sides begin to pull away from the pan and the center is just set. Cool completely on a wire rack (top will sink in as it cools). Unmold and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if you like.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

My Hearty Congratulations... Ashli of the S.I.C.K.L.E. Cell, who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Elise, last Friday. They went home on Mother's Day -- how wonderful! It was a very difficult pregnancy, and I'm sure Ashli is glad the terrible part is over. Read the birth story here.


Saturday, May 08, 2004

Mother's Day Blessings...

To all you moms out there in St. Blog's (readers & bloggers alike). May God bless you richly.

Me, I clean forgot it was Mother's Day tomorrow & didn't get even a card in the mail to my own mom. I'll have to call her.


Friday, May 07, 2004

I really do want to blog something...

...but I'm short on time this week & every time I sit down to do it, I get interupted. Sorry! Let's see how fast I can type...

More on Terri Schiavo

I haven't been as diligent as I should be in praying for Terri. Terri's Law has been ruled unconstitutional. However, that doesn't mean Michael can have her feeding tube removed. At least not yet. Please pray for Terri and all other folks who are trapped in such situations.

Thank goodness that's over!

Friends, I mean. I found few shows more morally bankrupt. I mean, didn't every single episode include extra-marital sex by one or more of the cast? Or maybe it was just the handful of episodes I caught. It was like peering into a co-ed fraternity house. Ick. Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you like, but I'm sorta happy it's off the air.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Drought Update & Random Musings

Despite so much snow this winter, we are still in a first-stage drought, and at our parish every day, we pray together for the safe arrival of more moisture.

I was talking to my father-in-law the other day, marveling that at one point, he had more than two feet of snow on the ground all over his farm, yet he gained less than an inch and a half of ground moisture from it. That’s because snow mostly evaporates in the wind and sun, especially when the temperatures are too low to cause much melting off. And, as my father-in-law said, it was a "dry snow" – each inch of snow was only equivalent to less than a tenth of an inch of rain to begin with.

Back in the horse-drawn days, farmers used to plow under late winter/early spring snowfalls, because it was the only way to ensure that they’d get close to the full amount of moisture from snow. I don’t hear about farmers doing that anymore. Anyway, my father-in-law has a no-till operation, so he doesn’t have the equipment to turn soil as it is.

The sky is brilliant blue today, and the trees are full of bright new leaves nodding in a gentle breeze. We had a bit of a sprinkle in the early morning, the kind that gives the air that fresh-washed smell. Zooey watched a bird pluck a worm from the front lawn and fly off rapidly. I suspect it was a male bird bringing breakfast to his pregnant partner who is warming a few eggs in a nest somewhere nearby.

The yard has greened up, and the parched spots where the grass died in last year’s drought have filled in with weeds already. If I tried to get rid of all the weeds, I’d either be faced with mostly dirt in my backyard or an enormous water bill from trying to keep grass alive. I’ll take the weeds, thanks. My husband tries to keep them mowed down so they don’t go to seed and infect the neighbors.

Edyn has mastered the climbing set we got for a song at a garage sale years ago. And her devotion to it has renewed Zooey’s interest in it, too. We go out in the backyard as often as we can so they can climb up, down, around and through it. Laurel sits on my lap in a lawn chair, peering out from under her floppy hat as she chomps on one fist.

Zooey asked if we can plant a garden again this year. Corn, tomatoes, and peppers. He’ll only eat the corn, so I’m not sure why he asked for tomatoes and peppers, though I’ll surely put some in, if I can find the time to plant at all. I had to skip last year – too much morning sickness. But Edyn’s already as big as Zooey was the first time he helped with our garden, and Zooey is capable of doing more. It shouldn’t take much to get the garden going again.

Maybe I’ll try green beans again. One year, I planted "three sisters" – a native American approach to companion planting. Corn, pole beans and squash all go into the same mound. Each plant takes different nutrients from the soil and puts back what the other two need. The beans twine up the corn stalks and the squash leaves cover the ground so that the weeds don’t come up. Except the year I tried it, I lost the squash to squash vine bores – my garden is organic, and I haven’t found a good remedy for squash vine bores yet. And the beans I planted came up woody and bitter, though I tried to pick them at all different diameters to catch them while they were still sweet. Must have got a bad lot of bean seeds.

Zooey suggested pumpkins, too. I’ve never tried to grow a pumpkin, but I imagine anything is possible. I tried to grow watermelon once, but I made the mistake of planting it in the coolest part of my garden, thinking that fruit needed less heat and more shade. I didn’t know that watermelon comes from Africa, and it needs lots and lots of heat to grow. Sandy soil, too, so I’d have to amend a patch for that. But it would be worth it to have fresh, sweet watermelon outside my door.

The baby sighs and leans heavily back against my chest, ready for a nap. Edyn scrambles to the top of the climbing set, turns her face into the wind and throws out her arms, giggling. Zooey drops a fistful of dandelions in my lap and runs off for another boyish adventure (hunting for garter snakes, I’m guessing). I shut my eyes and take a deep breath, listening to the chirps of random birds, and I believe. I believe God answers prayers. I pray He will answer the prayer of your heart today. And I hope He will answer the one weighing on me, clearly and soon.


P.S. Thanks to St. Anthony for praying with my husband that he would find two important things that were lost. Both found within a day – more reason to trust that God hears us and answers us.

P.P.S. Why exactly is St. Anthony the one we go to for prayers in finding lost things?