Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Welcome to The Not So Perfect Catholic!

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

Short but Sweet Thankful Thursday

 It's time for some gratitude! Head over to Overflowing with Thankfulness to get a huge dose of thankfulness from other bloggers.

This week, I am thankful for

💚The beauty in this world that the passing of seasons brings. Each season has its own beauty, but don't you think Spring is the season that gives us hope?
I love how the cherry tree is blooming in the background of the Bradford Pear whose blooms are just about spent

💚Friends who share my faith. I was chatting with one yesterday and she mentioned how nice it is to have friends like that. They get things I talk about and I don't feel like I'm being judged.

💚Running into said friends at Daily Mass. I ran into a couple who live fairly close to me but I haven't seen in a while. They own a tile business and did my kitchen backsplash when I remodeled my kitchen. Now I'm looking at having my back porch tiled and he's the guy to do it. It was great catching up with was like I had seen them yesterday!

💚Songwriters who I swear can see in my heart and are writing just for me. I heard this song before but it popped up on my Spotify DJ playlist. I've played it over and over for the past 2 days. This is one of those songs that is just so pretty and says the right thing that it makes you cry. It says it all:
What's on your thankful list this week?

A Grieving Thankful Thursday

I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I've written a post for Thankful Thursday! Time for some gratitude! Head over to Overflowing with Thankfulness to get a huge dose of thankfulness from other bloggers!

💛I'm so thankful for my family & friends who showed me such compassion and love during my husband's last days. I knew I could call on any of them anytime and they would be there for me.

💛The Hospice Workers were absolutely amazing. The nurse we had for those few days was compassionate but stern with me when she needed to be for not getting enough sleep. She is truly an angel. She gave me the confidence to do what I needed to and assured me that I was doing everything right. 

💛I am grateful for the love that my husband had for me. Even though there were times in our marriage when we both thought we were done, looking back I realize what a gift he gave me. I am fortunate to have known that "once-in-a-lifetime" unconditional love that not everyone can experience.

💛God gave us time. We were able to take one last month-long trip out west four months before his passing. While we didn't do as much as we would have liked, we saw a lot and had some special time together. My husband bounced back from a hospital stay enough to tie up some loose financial ends and spend individual time with each of our boys.

💛I'm also thankful that through my faith this has not been a completely sad time. Yes, I'm very sad that he's not here with me, but how can I be sad all the time knowing that he is praying for me to get to heaven? (As I write this there is a cardinal looking in the window at me!) His funeral mass was filled with happy songs, just like he wanted. 

I have sad moments. I have moments when I miss him terribly, but I'm trying to live my life like he told me to. He made me promise him that I will travel and see the places that we didn't get to. I'd much rather do it with him, but looking back, I understand now why he left most of the travel plans to me. He was preparing me for when he is no longer here with me. He wanted me to live life to the fullest. It's going to be weird not having him physically beside me, but I have a feeling I'll be able to feel him right there!
Little Grand Canyon, July 2023
💛I chose yellow hearts for this post because yellow was his favorite color. 💛


After reading an entry in a Lenten Journal about distance, I thought about how God has felt so near and distant in my life. More specifically, during my husband's illness and passing. All during my husband's illness, I felt that God was close by. He was there to see me through the rough times, the times when I didn't think I could continue to be a caregiver the way he needed me to be. I needed to feel that closeness for my husband. I needed the courage to take care of him without him knowing my insecurities. 

After his passing, God seemed distant. I keep thinking about how, for roughly three months following my husband's passing, He didn't seem close. And I didn't understand it. He had been there for almost 3 years, why did He leave me when my husband did? I continued with my prayer life and with Daily Mass. I continued to do all of the things I was doing to get through the rough times when he was still alive. I knew God was there, but why couldn't I feel Him?

While meditating on the entry, it occurred to me that, during the illness and the preparation for my husband to return home, He was there. Now, after my husband's passing, it's up to me to fill the gap. Not just by going through the motions of my prayer life, but actually being there for Him. Not just "reading", but actually "praying". Actually getting to know God and having a real relationship with Him. Meeting Him halfway and not making Him do all of the work. 

This is so completely different than when my parents passed away. I felt so close to God during that time. I didn't have to work at it, He was just there. Why is it different with my husband's passing? Could it be because the relationship is different? It was my parents instead of my spouse... a totally different relationship. My parents spent so much time in church; their lives were centered around our Parish. After my mother passed away, it took me about a year to make it through Mass without crying or tearing up.  Two days after my husband passed away I attended Daily Mass...I felt like I needed to be there. It was a comfort to me; I was home and surrounded by the other usual attendees, people I knew prayed for us and continue to pray for us. But I didn't feel that God was near.

Again, I knew He was there but felt like He was distant. Now, on the fourth month anniversary of his passing, I'm bridging the gap. I'm putting in the work to become closer to God. I'm closing the gap and meeting Him halfway. I know He will meet me where I am, no matter where I am. I am choosing a relationship with Him. I'm choosing to have joy in my life. I know my husband is with Him, rejoicing, singing "Hosanna", and praying for me to join him. And I feel like the distance between God and me is closing.

Hope Never Disappoints

Over the past 3 years, I've had so much hope. I hoped for a miracle, that my husband's cancer would be erased by the chemo. I hoped for more time. I hoped that he would return to the Sacraments. Lastly, I hoped for a happy death.

The Miracle

I just knew if I prayed enough, God would hear me and answer me just as I wanted. I've never experienced such devastation in my life; how could He not take care of me with this request? I continued to hope for a miracle for 2 years. It wasn't until after then that my hope began to shift. 

More Time

Looking back over our life since his diagnosis, I realized we did get a miracle: God gave us the miracle of time. Over and over, he allowed us to have more time. We talked a lot and had some very difficult discussions. I'm not saying we didn't argue, because we did have more time for that as well! Just before my husband's passing, he had a hospital stay following an emergency colostomy. During that stay, he spent 5 days in ICU and another 5 in a regular room. Even his doctors were surprised that he improved enough to go home. During this time, he was able to tie up some loose financial ends. We also had more time for discussions and he had more time to spend individually with each of our sons.

Return to the Sacraments

After hoping and praying for years that he would return to the Sacraments, a week before his passing my husband told me he wanted to speak with a priest and go to confession. This was without my prompting or asking him. I ran into our parish priest the following morning and he came by that evening. My husband and I shared his Viaticum. I wasn't going to receive the Eucharist since I attended Mass that morning, but he asked me to share it with him. It was an absolutely beautiful gift that he gave to me, more precious than anything else he could have given.

A Happy Death

I spent the day of his passing saying a Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. At that point, he was on comfort medications and was not able to speak or indicate that he understood what was being said to him. I asked the priest to come back by the night before and he administered the Last Rites as well as an apostolic pardon. My husband was surrounded by the boys and myself, as well as one of the girlfriends. At the moment of his passing, the boys and I were around him, with football on the TV (the sound was off) and the dogs in the room as well. He simply stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating.  Each of us gave him permission to leave this world and greet his aunt, grandparents, my parents, and the Holy Family. He passed away at home in his recliner, which is exactly how he wanted it.

A Shift In Hope

Now that he is gone, my hope is shifting. Maybe a little selfishly, my hope now is that God will show me His plan for the rest of my life and that I will be wise enough to follow it. I hope that the boys will find their way back to the Church, or at least back to God. Ultimately, I hope that I will have a happy death when the time comes, with my husband, parents, and the Holy Family waiting to welcome me home. 

My Prayer

Lord, may I never give up hoping to do Your will. May I keep hope in my heart as I look forward to the life to come. Thank you for my parents who taught me how to hope through Your love. Thank You for my husband: I saw first-hand what hope is for and what having hope does. Thank You for Your love; without it there would be no hope.
This picture was taken at Arches National Park during our last trip together in July, 2023

FMF: Access


Five Minute Friday: Kate provides a word every Friday. The writer sets a timer for 5 minutes and writes whatever comes to mind.

I did it again: I've overextended myself for Lent. There was a time not so long ago when access to Catholic study materials was very poor. We depended on our parish to provide us with Lenten materials. What and how much you received depended on the pastor. Times have thankfully changed. We have so much to choose from now. Every year I swear I won't overextend but most years I do.

The internet has given us a huge amount of access to materials we didn't have before. Podcasts do, too. Not to mention social media. There is so much out there, we just have to access it. There's so much that it's hard to decide because it's all so good. I think I could do year-long Lenten studies with the materials I have access to. 

Let's not forget Zoom; it gives us access to national and international book studies! I recently completed a book study on Bernadette Speaks. Sr. Mary Martha led us through the book every Wed. night. We had people from all over the USA and one lady in England reading the book and commenting on it. For Lent Sister is leading us in the book "He and I" (Gabrielle Bossis). 

Times up!!! How do people write so much in just five minutes? I'm a pretty quick typist but  I can't get any more than what I wrote today in 5 minutes! 

I have to include my list of Lenten studies:
Metanoia (Fr. Dave Pivonka)- Some ladies in my parish are gathering once/week to discuss a video from this series.
The Ascension Lenten Companion (Fr. Mark Toups)-Fr. Toups is amazing with visualization. He has a way of using words to put you in the scene of what is happening in the Bible and applying it to your life.
Be Transformed (Dr. Bob Schuchtes-the Abiding Together Ladies are leading this book study. They've done some excellent Lenten book studies in the past.)
Best Lent Ever (Dynamic Catholic---I usually only watch the videos-which you can have delivered daily in your email- but a friend gave me the journal and I can't let it go to waste!)
He & I (Gabrielle Bossis): This is the zoom book study by Sr. Mary Martha (Daughters of St. Paul- the "media nuns"). The good thing about this study is that if I can't make the zoom on Wed., the sessions are recorded so I can catch up during the week. Gabrielle was a single woman in the early 20th century who, at the age of 62, began dialoguing with Jesus during her daily life. 

What are your Lenten plans?

Thankful Thursday in a Different Spot

I really need to get into the 'thankful' mode! I found out that "Thankful Thursdays" has a new home...or guest house. Thanks to Jennifer at Overflowing with Thankfulness for keeping things going!

* Thank goodness for leggings! I had surgery a couple of weeks before Christmas and am just now (at the beginning of Feb.) able to comfortably wear "real" pants. (I'll probably stick with the leggings with long shirts as long as I can get away with it!)

* I'm super thankful for my husband and son who took care of me while I was recuperating. I wasn't allowed to bend over or pick anything up for 6 weeks. They were real troopers, especially since I quickly developed a bad case of butterfingers after surgery. 

* Routines. I do so much better and feel so much better when I have them. I felt out of sorts before school started back. This past month hasn't been the most routine (with appointments and expected inclement weather days-where we were out of school because bad weather was in the forecast but didn't materialize) but it was more routine than December.

* My siblings. I don't know what I'd do without them. Even though we don't see each other very often, I know I can (and have) pick up the phone and they'll listen. 

* I keep saying this, but I'm so very grateful for the gift of time. I don't know how long my husband & I have together, but I hope that we'll have enough time to make more memories after I retire in May. 

Thanks again to Jennifer for hosting!

Heavenly Hugs

Photo by Brett Sayles
With the 2 year anniversary of my husband's cancer diagnosis looming, I felt the pressure of the insecurities and fear of living without him. The reality hit hard. It's been easy (for me anyway) to go about my life with a new routine since he started chemo. He is able to go to appointments without me and since I'm still working full-time outside the home, I'm not there to see just how badly it affects him. The worst days are a couple of days after his pump comes out. To look at him, you would never know that he is terminally ill. You wouldn't even know that he is sick at all. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm ecstatic that God has given us this precious gift of time. But I know with each month that the sand is running out of the hourglass. I know I shouldn't mourn him right now; we have a lot of living to do while we still can. We have a lot of memories to make; we want to live life to the fullest until we can't. 

So, yeah, I had a pretty pissy day the day before the anniversary. I went to the Adoration Chapel and spent more time there than I had in a long time. A friend gave me the booklet "Pray the Rosary with the National Council of Catholic Women". Each of the Mysteries includes several different themes to choose from. Since it was a Friday, I chose the "For Courage in Adversity" theme in the Sorrowful Mysteries. Those meditations were exactly what I needed. The words were perfect. They helped to console me and give me the hope I needed. 

While in the Chapel I talked to God about how much I miss my mom, especially now. I know that she would have the right words to say to me; at the very least her hug would help ease my pain. My dad wouldn't know what to say (he was a man of few words) but his bear hug (even though somewhat awkward) would hit the spot. On the day of the anniversary, during my morning prayer time, the morning Reading from the Liturgy of the Hours included this verse:

He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from him. (2Corinthians 1:4)
I pulled out my Magnificat, read the day's Mass Readings, and then took a look at the meditation. I have to admit, I will often look at the author of the meditations. Sometimes I'll read it and sometimes I won't, based on who wrote it. The meditation on that day was from Mother Agnes of  Jesus who is St. Therese's (of Lisieux) sister Pauline. My mom had a devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux so this meditation intrigued me. Man, am I glad I read it! 

Let us not ask Jesus that suffering or some events should not make us tremble—for that might perhaps
be a useful humiliation—but that we may always follow him step by step; and if we are so weak that we
run away for a time, that our hearts may remain united to him in continual prayer and confidence, and that we may come back to him without delay. Never doubt his love and mercy, for that wounds him to the heart...
 He must therefore know that we are weak, that our exile is painful, that even the most strongly established virtue can fail, and that often everything around us seems to combine to make us weep,
seeing that we no longer have the strength to row because the wind is against us. He comes to us in the night of trial. We must do our best simply and humbly. How beautiful it is, it is everything—littleness, the spirit of childhood, humility. Let us ask just for these virtues at Jesus’ crib. He will give them to us, and we shall be as happy as is possible in the land of exile and then go straight to heaven. You have only to acknowledge in the depths of your heart that you are unworthy of so many blessings
and immediately you will be pure. “O my God, make me more and more aware of my weakness, but at the same time of your divine strength.”
Mother Agnes of Jesus, o.c.d.
Mother Agnes of Jesus († 1951) was the sister of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and prioress at the Carmel of Lisieux for over fifty years.

There are moments when I just want to run away. I just want to be left alone and not have to face what is to come. I want to run away to Ireland and hide out in the countryside. I heard a song about a week ago; these verses really hit home for me:
To run and hide would be so easy
You don't wanna stay and fight
If you don't give yourself completely
You won't get to see the beauty
Waiting on the other side
It's gonna take some time
Healing always does
Embrace the road you're walking
Be patient with the process
You're gonna make it out alive

I'm getting constant reminders that God is here with me. He's giving me what I need when I need it. Running away isn't an option. Instead of "Godwinks", He is sending me "heavenly hugs" just when I need them. God is good all the time; All the time, God is good.