BELIEVE there is good in the world

Dear Megan

God has a plan for you, my beautiful, smart and extremely talented niece. I knew it from the very minute you came into this world. There you were at the Medical Center in Beaver, PA wrapped in my arms with a little cap on your gorgeous little head — I fell in love with you at that very moment. And then your grandma said, “look at all her hair,” and pulled the little cap off and there fell three or four inches of fine brown hair. Just precious. You changed my life at that very moment.

I spent almost every night at your house for the first six months of your life. I think your dad was probably sick of seeing me, but your mom would hand you to me and then go wash her floors or do laundry or other things. She was happy I was there. I would feed you and play with you — I couldn’t get enough of you — you just loved to snuggle in my arms. You fit there so perfectly. I used to look down at you while I fed you your bottle and talk to you about where life would take you. And dream about all the things God had planned for you, my tiny niece.

And then you were baptized and as your Godmother, I made a promise to always take care of you, keep you safe and teach you about our Catholic faith. Staying true to your faith will guide you and comfort you as you begin your new journey. And with every difficult decision you encounter along the way, find a quiet place and talk it over with God. He will give you the right answer. Always believe, Megan. Always believe deep inside of you that God will protect you and guide you. God has something wonderful planned for you.

I was there for so many of your firsts, Megan. Your first steps, your first words. Your first tears and your first giggles. You used to giggle at so many things — especially your little dog Barney. Or your bouncy chair. You were a beautiful, perfect baby — with big spiral curls and the bluest, most curious eyes. Even as you got older — I was there to see your accomplishments, awards, ceremonies and recognitions. I am so proud of you, Megan. I’m so thankful that I was able to experience so many of your firsts.

Your Mom and I took you everywhere. We would go to the mall on the weekends. I remember one trip to the mall where I bumped your head by accident on one of the metal clothing stands in Lazarus department store. You screamed and cried, and I took you outside of Lazarus inside the mall where we sat by the water fountain. I cried with you, because I hurt you. I remember holding you close and rubbing the little red mark on your head. I told you I was sorry and you smiled. I’ll never forget that. I’ve learned over the years that forgiveness is so important. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody learns from those mistakes. You have to forgive and move on and remember that most people are really good inside and want to do the right thing. Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You won’t regret that.

I believed more than anything that God sent you to us at the very moment in life when you were needed here. My dad, your grandpa or “Pappy Bob” was sick and you were that gem in his day that made all the difference, Megan. The relationship the two of you had was simply endearing — you would run to him, giggling and he would have a smile from ear to ear. Those moments and all the moments between you and my dad simply touched my heart. If you’re ever feeling alone or sad, just think about how special you are — you made such a difference in so many lives. And God’s plan for you is still unfolding!

I wish you would have known my dad the way we all did. He was a man of great faith who knew what was important in life. He could do anything he set his mind to and he taught all of us that. Dad’s advice was the best kind. He knew what the right answer was and was our guide. You and I got our talents from him. And today I believe he is your guide as you embark on this next chapter in your life. He’s looking down on you and is so, so, so proud of that little baby he knew for such a short time. Pappy Bob would sing to you all the time, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.” You gave him a reason to love life when life was dishing him lemons. It was you who changed his life.

So I watched you grow up into an amazing woman who is talented in so many ways. My dad always told me that if you do something in life with the talents God gave you, you would be so happy and fulfilled. You are a baker, a decorator, a designer. You are an artist, a painter, and a masterpiece creator. You have an incredible imagination that helps you dream big and your creativity is endless. You chose the right field of study — architecture. You’ll soon be immersed in a whole new world of textures, fabrics, upcycled, recycled, reclaimed, metals, woods, natural stones and countless other materials for fabrication. You’ll learn about the history of furniture and styles — what’s new, what’s old and what’s to come. And I’m going to be that pesky aunt who wants to know everything about coming.

Dream big, Megan. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Dream big for yourself and for those who matter in your life. Get a dream book and write down 100 dreams you have for yourself. That’s right. At least 100. You can write them, list them, draw them, doodle them. Take your dream book everywhere you go. Make notes and date them. Add to your book. Cross of things as you accomplish them. And find ways to make new ones come true. Don’t ever stop dreaming, Megan. Dreams will help you live life to the fullest. And, it will be interesting to see where your dreams today take you and what your dreams look like 10 years from now.

Love with all your heart. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This Bible passage is something I read at least once a week, especially if I’m upset about something. Whenever you’re annoyed with someone else or a situation, just read these words and know that if you believe in these words, the situation will just fall apart and go away. Try it! It really works.

Be the good in the world. And believe there is good in the world. That’s my best advice, my most favorite quote. Believe there is good in the world, because there is. And you have the opportunity to Be the Good by your actions and what you do. Your kindness already touches those around you. You are so smart and caring — you’re beautiful inside and out. Your smile is so genuine and the way you show respect to those around you is admirable. Goodness oozes from within you, Megan. And goodness is contagious! You’ll attract others just like you who believe they can make the world a better place for everyone.

God has a plan for you, Megan. It’s just starting to unfold before us. I sit here and think about how much you’ve grown up and how much I love you. We would have said, “I love you big piles!” when you were two years old. The answer is still “big piles!” I can’t help but wonder where life is going to take you. Get on that ride of life and hold on tight. Never let go and always climb higher. I believe anything is possible, Megan. And I’m anxious to watch as you move into the next chapter of yours, ready to experience more of your firsts that are yet to come.

Always  B E L I E V E !

Love,
Aunt Pam

My nieces

My beautiful nieces. Megan is on the left and Tara on my right.

 

 

I Give It Up

Thursday is my CT Scan. It was supposed to be last week, but was moved because my doctor was going away for the holiday. Good for him, he deserves some time away. I’m a little nervous because I’ve been having pain in my leg, in my hip — somewhere that I can’t quite pinpoint for the past month or so. I know I hurt a muscle in it when I twisted my leg to trim my toenails. I had trouble walking for over a week and a half. Thankfully that pain went away.

Yesterday I twisted it again when I fell off the jet ski and my leg was still stuck in the jet ski for a few seconds. I knew I hurt it again. When I finally was able to climb on the boat, my left leg was shaking and weak like it was in shock. It calmed down, but when I got home after sitting in the car for over an hour, I couldn’t put my weight on it to go up the stairs, but I could walk on it. It seemed weak. In the end, though, I have to admit, it was pretty funny — what it must have looked like as I slipped and fell into the freezing water. I can only imagine what anyone who saw it thought about it!

I’m nervous about what may be going on in my pelvis. The pain tells me that the cancer is still a problem. I pray for the right solution to zap this thing once and for all. I hope that my doctor does a major cryoablation like he did in 2012. This one needle zap doesn’t seem to be working holistically. It kills the cells where they zapped, only to have the tumor grow on another side. We need to zap it from all sides and kill it once and for all. And my imagination is running wild. I’ll have pain and when we look at the scan, it’s a very small active area we’re talking about.

I have this worry and fear every three months and my mind makes up all kinds of things. But I remind myself that I trust God’s Plan for me, and I give this worry over to him. So today, I give it up. I’m not giving up. I am giving it up to God.

Always B E L I E V E !

Patience Pays Off


We completely finished the bathroom remodel earlier this month. It was a really a tough process to be living like a hoarder waiting for the master bedroom and bathroom to be complete. But it was worth it! I waited years, because of the inconvenience and wished had done it sooner.

Final ColorsFrom my earlier post, only a few things changed with the design. The Ice Stone material for the countertops was just too far out of our budget and the fabricator just wouldn’t recommend it (they said it may bow over time). When the most exclusive and expensive granite was less costly than the Ice Stone, it was a no brainer. We didn’t go with an exclusive granite either, we selected a beautiful green granite with teal undertones and “sparkle” that looked opalescent.

Hardwood FlooringWe selected light off white cabinets with matte nickel fixtures versus the bronzed color we had originally planned. We still went with the engineered hardwood flooring and ran it in two directions — vertical for the bathroom and horizontal in the bedroom. We opened up the two rooms by adding a french door instead of the single door. The hardwood flooring is so easy to care for. It’s easily swiffered and cleaned using Bruce Hardwood Flooring Cleaner.

Gray_Green_GroutThe shower and toilet area was originally a separate room with a pocket door. We removed the walls and opened it up to make one large room. This allowed us to expand the shower, creating a custom shower complete with a seat and built in storage areas for shampoo and other toiletries. We ran the shower tile over the entire back wall so the shower was not blocked off, and created a built-in vanity with the sinks with more storage.

Final RugFor colors, in keeping with blue theme, we selected earth tone teal colors and carried them into the bedroom. It took me hours to find the right rug online — we found it at Overstock.com. We finished off the bedroom with a new comforter.

It’s finally complete and I can finally say that I’m used to it now. It took weeks just to get back to a normal routine. We finally have the rest of the house in order as well.

Before and After

Be sure to click on the before/after thumbnail. The difference is amazing.

 

 

 


Thinking of Dad with Laughter

Memorial Day — one of my favorite holidays when we remember those who served and those who gave their lives so that we can be free. In Pennsylvania, it’s the official kickoff to summer with a long weekend, usually warmer weather and family cookouts.

Friday, the 22nd was the funeral mass of a friend’s wife. I had never met her, but I knew about her illness as I talked about it with him. She had an aggressive form of cancer and he had asked me about mine. I prayed for her often and for peace for her family. I lit a candle for her when I heard about her cancer and then again when I heard she had passed away. I had no idea until I attended the mass just how much faith they had.

Thursday evening I was apprehensive about attending, because she was only five years older than me, and I was worried that I might be pensive the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. In fact, I was inspired. I know that is an odd thing to say after leaving a funeral mass. I felt the same way when my Dad passed away and we left his funeral mass. It’s because I believed! I remember belting out “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left the church, and I knew in that moment that my Dad was with God!

Their family believed. During the eulogy, he told us their story — that they put all their faith and trust in God that he would make her well — but they knew if he didn’t that it was his Will. And either way it was a win-win situation for her. His faith was simple and beautiful. And he believed that everything came with a lesson and was teaching them something. He smiled and laughed — and he had peace, as did the rest of their family. As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left church, I thought of my Dad. Saturday was the anniversary of his death — May 23, 2002. It’s been 13 years.

I thought about my Dad all day on Saturday. Tom was servicing the jet ski, because we were taking it out to Shenango Lake on Sunday, even though the water was only 68°. If you’re careful, only your legs get wet — I figured we’d be okay as long as we didn’t fall in. We were going to church at 5 pm at St. Gregory, going out to dinner at the Waterhole after church, and then watching the fireworks show at Cooper’s Lake.

I talk to my Dad all the time, even though he’s not here. I pray for him everyday and then I talk to him. I’d just love to see him smile at me one more time. When I think of him, I remember a very fond memory of him where he is sitting on his bed watching TV and I go into the room and his face lights up — he grins and exclaims, “Pam! What are you up to?” And I jump on the bed next to him and give him a hug. I can recall his face so clearly and the sound of voice. I think of this all the time, because I never want to forget him.

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake.

As we waited for the fireworks to start, I was thinking of how appropriate to watch fireworks on this day, because Dad loved a good fireworks show. We couldn’t hear the music during the fireworks, but I imagined something patriotic — in memory of Dad.

Sunday we headed out to the lake. Tom got up early and waxed the jet ski, because it was looking a little dirty and sun-faded from last year. That turned out to be a big mistake!!!

We met up with my brother Tommy and his fiancé, Gretchen and her son Sam who were already on the boat. After cruising around a bit, Tom and I went out on the jet ski for a couples ride. We didn’t do that often, because it’s not as fun with the extra weight on the jet ski. When we went back to the boat so Tom could get off, Tommy wanted to take the jet ski out with Gretchen. So we both decided to get off. And that’s when it happened.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Somehow Tom leaned the wrong way when I was supposed to get off and the jet ski started to tip, but as I tried to counter balance, my foot slipped on the side of the jet ski and boom — I was in the water before I knew what hit me. I twisted my bad leg and I’m not sure what I’ve done to it (I can’t put any weight on it when I go up the stairs). Tom also fell in — we were lucky that neither of us hit our head or were injured any worse. Tom’s leg was also stuck sideways in the jet ski.

Well after this fiasco, Gretchen and Sam no longer wanted to go on the jet ski. I told them that I have never fallen in — because that has never happened to me! Thanks Tom for waxing it and creating a super slippery surface. In the shock of what happened, I never even felt the 68° water temperature. So, after talking Gretchen and Sam into going, Gretchen starts to climb on the jet ski as Tommy is already seated on it and she slips on the super slippery surface and before you know it — she’s in the water too.

We got the biggest laugh about it on the way home. It was hysterical, and I wish we could have been on one of the boats around us. I’m sure they got a good laugh at our expense. These are the kinds of things that happened when we used to go boating with Dad. Despite my new injury, it was a great day. And I hope my Dad got a good laugh with us.

Always B E L I E V E !

Stay Tuned…

Okay, so things have been quiet on my blog for the past couple of months. I’ll let you in on a little secret. If I’m not blogging, there’s something very stressful going on in my life that I can’t disclose. It’s not about my health or my family — it’s almost always about something business-related.

Stay tuned… I have a lot of catching up to do — and beautiful weather is finally here!!!

Always B E L I E V E !

The Sound of Silence

So here it was, just one week after Easter and we left mass frustrated — again. We went to mass at St. Ferdinand and were meeting our friends for dinner after that. They were all going to St. Killian, but Tom and I don’t care for mass in an auditorium. We would have gone to our own parish, but didn’t want to get caught up in the First Holy Communion ceremonies. So here we were listening to this awful chanting music for the next 20 minutes before mass started. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t pray or think or even concentrate on anything. And then that’s how mass went too. At every turn, the music interrupted the mass. This is how the music was there during lent, but I thought it was just something special they were doing then. I guess not — oh, how I don’t like change for change sake. The music used to be one of the best things about St. Ferdinand.

It seems like we complain after every mass anymore. We left mass and Tom turned to me in the car and said, “this seminar next weekend better be inspiring, because I’m thinking I’m not sure about going to church anymore.” My heart sank, but I knew too that I felt the same way.

Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
The seminar by Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic was the following weekend. We drove about 3 1/2 hours to Mechanicsburg, PA and booked an overnight stay so we could drive back to Pittsburgh on Sunday. I wasn’t feeling the greatest, because I had the stents in my kidneys changed two days before, and my doctor used bigger stents which were a little uncomfortable. But there was no way I was missing this!!!! We desperately needed inspiration!!!!!

And wow, did we get it! The program was almost four hours, but there were three breaks during the presentation. Matthew Kelly is the best speaker I’ve ever heard — period. The material was what we needed to hear and mix it with his own sense of charm and humor — simply AMAZING. Seriously, I laughed out loud during that four hour period more than some of the comedy shows I’ve been too. His jokes were clean, but so funny, because they were about things mostly only Catholics could relate to. When he portrayed Jesus with his disciples, he played a role of light humor with meaningful lessons. He tried to make us see that all these holy people we put on pedestals are really just like us, including the disciples. Matthew Kelly was all about statistics. He had them too — he talked about a multi-year research project that showed the current state of Catholicism in America. He compared our percentages to those of Europe. He shared insight into developing a closer relationship with God — finding God’s purpose in your life. Seriously, INSPIRATION.

The best part of it being in Mechanicsburg was that Tom and I talked about it off and on the entire drive home. It not only brought us closer to God, but closer to each other. We had meaningful conversations about what it meant to us that we embrace our Catholic faith. We talked about all those things that we were going to implement in our lives.

We started to make real action items. The first is silence. With silence comes clarity and allows us to hear the voice of God in our lives. So my new morning routine starts once the alarm sounds. I shut off the music and lay in silence. And I begin my morning prayers at that time. I start praying about my day and talking to God about the things coming up — what I’m worried about or excited about or just not sure. As I lay there, the ceiling fan is almost hypnotic. I also have these two prayer books. Well, they’re pretty beat up. I read sections from them every single day. I’m going to have to repair the spine on the one book. I have the same routine, now only I added 15 minutes of silence where I can talk with God.

Tom and I are reading the Gospels every night — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Well, we’re still on Matthew, and we read 1-3 chapters out loud every night before going to bed. We’ve only missed a couple of nights — nights when we were just too tired or one of us went to bed earlier than the other. We read out loud and comment on things we didn’t realize, how we interpreted something or just something that didn’t make sense. It’s a much different experience reading out loud in the silence together. I’m hearing things so much more differently than in church with all the commotion at times.

I’m also reading the book that was part of our packet from the event. It’s called The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Much of what was discussed during the night is reinforced in this book. I’m about half way through and am finding some additional techniques in prayer and following a new format for making prayer more meaningful. It’s such an easy read and I gave one of our copies to my Mom on Mother’s Day.

I feel as if I’m on this wonderful journey that I’ve been invited by God to take. I don’t know how this came about. I remember seeing a link on Facebook from my friend Val to join Matthew Kelly in his Lenten program online. I signed up for those daily messages and after that, something was awakened. That’s the only way I can describe it. And, it’s interesting that I’ve been seeking silence for the past couple of years — trips to quiet towns — away from it all, away from the craziness. Maybe God has had a message for me and I just couldn’t hear it. Well now, I’m ready to listen.

Always B E L I E V E !

Ordinary Opportunities

Today is Good Friday. I’ve looked back my Lenten plans from February 15. My goal was to identify the road blocks in my life that impede God’s plan for me, and I outlined steps I could take to let go of things from my past. Today, those are complete and this is the first Lenten season that I spent time in prayer and meditation with God daily.

I wanted to share one last video post from Matthew Kelly. It’s message is truly inspiring. I wish everyone a very Blessed Easter and lots of opportunity.

Opportunity

 ALWAYS  B E L I E V E !

Falling In Love

Well, in keeping with my Lenten theme the past couple of posts, I wanted to share a beautiful quote by Father Pedro Arrupe. It’s about Love and it really spoke to my heart. So for all of you who aren’t following Matthew Kelly’s daily Lenten messages, here’s something to noodle on.

“Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in love in a quite absolute way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Always B E L I E V E !

Oh, one last thought — check out Father Pedro Arrupe’s Wikipedia page. What this man experienced in his lifetime was nothing short of amazing.

In Search of Happiness

This prayer came through as part of my message today for Lent from Matthew Kelly at Dynamic Catholic. It’s just beautiful and what a great prayer for the start of this week. It came with the message that you can only find happiness within God’s plan for your life. I believe in God’s plan, as he has guided both Tom and me on our journey together. This week I will look for happiness.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you will make all things right, if I current to your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.
The Serenity Prayer

And yesterday, part of Matthew’s message was that “it is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness…it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle…the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society…”
St. Pope John Paul II

Yes, only God truly knows what is deep within my heart. Tom comes in a close second, but there’s just no way he can know everything. God does know how I struggle in this life from a moral standpoint with what’s going on in this crazy world — and how much I hide my true feelings so I can blend in easier — gosh that never used to be who I was! Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed to blend in.

Back when Matthew Kelly challenged me to think about what I was resisting in order to move forward, it had come to me that I seriously needed to let go of some things that I was holding onto. Some of these things are the same things that have caused me to close myself off and not be so forthright and trusting — I became so serious. So as part of my Lenten journey, I am letting go and I am choosing happiness. Watch out world, Pam Miller Peters is getting her mojo back. And I’m excited to be who I am in all ways, even if I don’t blend in.

Always B E L I E V E !