Well, I’m a work in progress. I thought my introductory post (see below) would override the default post. And it didn’t. So again, welcome!
Normally, January is my favorite month of the year. Craig would argue it’s because my favorite child was born during this month. Then, Luke would pipe in to say, “Yeah, on the 26th!”
I like January. I like the newness of it all. Christmas and all the stress and chaos of creating the perfect holiday experience for my kids is over and done and I get a break from it for the next eleven months. I can stare at a blank canvas and imagine with wonder what masterpiece I’m going to create during this spin around the sun.
Then, I started the 21st year of the 21st century off by getting sick. I may or may not have had Covid. I didn’t actually get tested. That would have required getting dressed and leaving the house. However, I can tell you that I was achy and seriously fatigued and spent two full weeks napping, binge watching TV, and lounging around in my pajamas. It was wonderful!!
After two weeks, I made a full recovery and then I turned up the heat. I reflected at how much TV I did watch and I was kind of disgusted with myself. Girl, I thought, it is time to get your cute little tush in gear and get stuff done!
I started out by making my bed and tackling my room. It still appeared as if Christmas had thrown up in this sanctuary I call the Master Bedroom.
Then, I got dressed down to my shoes and did my hair and makeup. I was ready to conquer to the world, or at least, the kitchen.
I had the perfect plan in place. My day planner was organized and I was excited about all that I would accomplish.
And then God said, “Whoa…”
This week, in particular, has been quite rough. On Tuesday, as I was celebrating Luke’s 16th birthday and remembering the anniversary of my father’s passing, I learned of friend whose daughter was killed in a tragic accident. Then, I reached out to another friend to see how her husband’s cancer treatment was going only to learn they had just transitioned to hospice. On top of that, Megan’s job hours and pay were cut in half. And as I sat remembering how my best friend of 31 years died just six months ago, Ken called me to say his was on his way home and his own employment was just terminated.
Needless to say, my whole world went sideways…
Then, I woke up this morning and opened my “Word Among Us” app to read the Gospel for the day, Mark 4:35-41. The disciples and Jesus were crossing the sea on a boat and a “violent squall” came up and Jesus was in the corner, sleeping on a cushion! With what must have been lots of shouts and screaming, they wake Jesus up and he commands the wind-he, in fact, REBUKES the wind, and says to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” Then, it was as if he was speaking to me as I read the words, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
I don’t know. Do I have faith? Do I trust in the Lord? There is a storm raging inside me. A storm of fear, uncertainty, anxiety. And then there is our Lord telling me to be quiet and be still. I know far more than the disciples. I know how the story ends. I know who wins. I know who is in charge. God’s plan is perfect. I don’t always like it, but I trust in it.
And so, I stop, I listen and I hear God speaking to me. Not quite like a burning bush kind of moment but He is telling me to be still. He’s got this. He has my friends. He has my daughter. He has my husband and his job and our family. God is in control.
This is going to be a fabulous year. We are entering a new chapter in our lives and I can’t wait to read the next page.
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Neil Diamond belted out, “America” as Ken navigated the website to our timeshare.
“Hey babe,” he called. I looked up from my steaming cup of tea as I heard Ken convey to me that we had a thousand points left over that were about to expire. “We should use those before the end of the year.”
I explained how the five weeks of being off work have really negatively affected his judgement as he shared with me a mid-week special that he found in Palm Springs.
Soon after, seven-year-old Clare was crying because it was not going to snow in our southern California neighborhood for Christmas. Five-year-old Sara Lynn then bawled because, although it wasn’t going to snow it was still winter and mommy was not going to let her go out in her bathing suit to romp in the sprinklers. Next thing I know, two-year-old Aaron, whom everyone calls Beb, was en pointe at the fridge, cup in hand, helping himself to water from the spigot, only to land on his tush, a lake of water surrounding his island of a body.
“When can we leave?” I called out.
So, a week before Christmas, with the cards still sitting on the kitchen counter, multiple presents still left to purchase, and even more presents needing to be wrapped and jammed under the tree we took off for the oasis in the desert, remarking how much we were like Jesus, and planned to construct our own personal retreat.
Our trip was lovely. We dined in “The Purple Room,” where the essence of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. resonated the once smoke filled room. We marveled at the intricacies of the plot line while watching, “Knives Out” at the local cinema. On top of that, we managed to squeeze in some shopping for the family as I pointed out a few items that I would need to add to my own Christmas list when we got home.
But, laying out by the pool is my favorite memory. The sun had just dipped behind the backdrop of a hill. The air was crisp, yet the sky was a crystal blue. With book in hand I drank it all in. For a moment I closed my eyes and just listened. There was a makeshift waterfall rushing toward the pool below. Behind it, a hot tub, offering warmth and comfort to its guests, their low voices rising above the bubbles. In the distance I heard the melody of Christmas music bringing cheer to the upcoming season.
Peace…I felt peace. No stress, no worry, no anxiety. The peace that surpasses understanding.
Ken and I took this opportunity away to consider the future. Certainly, there would be homeschooling, sporting events, and home improvement projects to keep us busy. But, also for us to contemplate was our life as a couple and as a family. Ken reflected on his new job that will begin January 2nd. I thought about my commitments to family life and how to incorporate my loved ones in my growing business. We discussed a ministry project that has been on our hearts for some time. We planned out the calendar for the upcoming months and reviewed which events would take place when.
Ken paused for a moment, took off his glasses, and gently placed them down on the table. “You know, babe, this whole trip was providential. I really felt God calling me to check our timeshare to make sure we had banked our points. What a blessing it was for us to have the points to use. And, I really felt God giving me the push to not lose them. He really wanted us here.”
So, God was calling us to the desert after all. And we surrendered.
“I’ve got it!” I jumped up and slapped the table. I was giddy with excitement. “It’s so obvious what our word for the year should be!” He looked at me in anticipation. Surrender!
We had been discussing some good ones-consistency, patience, persistence-but surrender fit us to a tee as we have been recently praying the novena together.
Oh, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything. Yes, that was it. That is why we were here. To surrender to God our upcoming year. Jesus would take care of everything.
I sat down, took a long sip of iced cold water and expressed gratitude for the clarity.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You.
Well, our oldest, Megan, married Mr. Shawn Roche on April 7th.
It was a wonderful, magical day and now the happy couple have started out their new life in Georgia…a mere one thousand, nine hundred, twenty miles away.
It’s back to normal around here. You know, normal with the rest of the gang. Saturdays means sports around here and while Dad and the boys were watching Mark throw the winning touchdown for his flag football team the girls and I (and baby Aaron) were at the soccer field with Jenna.
All I can say is, “Thank you God for the grace of patience.” These girls are busy!
The first thing is Sara was hungry…don’t feel too bad for her. Sara Lynn is ALWAYS hungry. Mostly, because she was bored. The game hadn’t begun yet and of course she couldn’t play with the toys we brought.
Aaron was content in the stroller but not for long. Clare and Sara made sure of that. They had to get in his face. And next thing I know he wanted out and wanted me. Yay. We spent most of the first half nursing with him squirming just enough to flail his arms and show off our little private moment to the world.
Meanwhile, Clare had to go to the bathroom. Thank goodness Stephanie was there to help me.
Finally, Aaron fell asleep but by then the breeze had pick up just enough to cause problems with the sportsbrella. So, there I was attempting to describe to the six year old how to attach the rope pieces to the lawn awning. Didn’t go well. Thank you coach for helping!
My favorite part came while the girls were fighting. Clare had the bag of umbrella pins and Sara had grabbed them. While they were playing tug o’ war I called out screaming, “Sara Lynn, make like Elsa and LET IT GO!” She voted to not obey. So, I had to bring out the big guns.
“Sara, maybe after the game, when all of the kids go out to lunch for their date with dad, I’ll just have to take you home.” Sara is just shy of four. She doesn’t go on dates with dad. She has to wait until she is five. So, today was going to be a special treat for her. My comment caused her to melt down, but not for the reasons I was thinking. She wasn’t as concerned about her Daddy as she was about her stomach.
All of a sudden she began screaming: I’M HUNGRY! I’M HUNGRY! I’M HUNNNGGGRY! And she was crying and crying as if she was never going to eat again. Oh dear…attempting to not wake up the sleeping nine month old I called her over to comfort my sweet daughter. Suddenly, I remembered the bag of peanuts I had in the diaper bag. Yesterday, as we were leaving Little Flowers my friend asked me if I wanted some because I mentioned I was hungry. I decided not to eat them as I was fasting for a friend who was having surgery. Thank goodness for that. Extra graces for my friend, and a snack for my daughter.
In the end, Jenna’s team won 2-1. Go REVOLUTION!!
We met up with the boys at Arby’s and enjoyed a nice lunch together. How blessed I am to spend the day with my family.
When I was a kid I always asked my mom what she was giving up for Lent. Every year it was the same answer. “I’m just not going to eat in between meals.” “But, what are you GIVING UP?!?” I protested back.
Giving up something for Lent was a tradition we held in my family. Granted it was one I didn’t really like. There was the year I gave up gum (I had braces and wasn’t supposed to be chewing gum). And the time I gave up donuts (however, the only time I ever ate donuts was after Mass on Sunday). So, I wasn’t really that great at giving stuff up. Obviously, I was so far gone I couldn’t see the sacrifice that my mom was making.
Lately, more emphasis has been given to adding something on instead of giving something up. To use your time, talent, and treasure for the greater glory of God. This year I have a little of both going on. I have decided to…
Worry less and have faith in God MORE.
Spend less time on Facebook and read Scripture MORE.
Allow the kids less screen time and spend MORE time with them, especially reading stories.
Now that I’m a grown up, I love Lent. It is my favorite time of the year. It is the time of year that I have the most discipline, the most will power. Heck, I’m the QUEEN of will power. Of course, Easter comes and then it all goes out the window. First, there’s Easter Sunday, but wait…then it’s the Octave of Easter. And THEN-there’s the whole Easter Season. After that, I’m toast.
Recently, I joined a Facebook group geared at helping harried housewives like me declutter their homes. One mom decided the less stuff she had, the more room she would have for Jesus.
With an impending wedding (our oldest, Megan, will be married the Saturday after Easter) and a nursing baby, decluttering has been put a bit on the back burner. But, I still liked the idea of MORE Jesus.
So, this year I decided I’m giving up. Once Lent is over and the celebration of the Resurrection has begun I’m not going to slip and slide. The whole point of Lent is to become holier, become closer to Christ. This Lent my focus will be on being better, not just for six weeks, but beyond. I won’t worry about discipline, or my lack there of-for I will be a disciple. And my will power will be God-power. It’s a tall order, I know. But our God is an awesome God! And I want my will to be His Will.
May you have a beautiful, holy, and Christ centered Lent.
AKA: The Half that makes me whole part II
Ken has been going through some old papers recently-cards, mementos, receipts-back from when we were dating. I keep encouraging him to throw them away. Most are letters from me to him and they are embarrassingly gushy. A lot of mushy, mushy, I love you “forever and always” type of stuff. He was reflecting earlier that often times in his past relationships there were “I love you forever” moments, but this time it was for real.
It’s not that I’m not still head over heels in love with him. Just ask Sara Lynn how often she catches us “mooching.” It’s just over the top. For example, take this excerpt from our first Valentine’s Day together: “May our future bring us closer together and may our love grow into a beautiful flower.” And that is one of my milder lines.
But, despite that, here I am again, writing to my babe. Talking about how happy he makes me and what a wonderful husband and father he is. I guess I just can’t help myself.
After that last post I was thinking, did I accomplish my goal? Did I explain to my readers why you are my best friend? I spent a good deal of time conveying what an awe-inspiring husband and father you are, but I’d like to take a few minutes to make sense of what I like (love) about you.
Let’s begin with this morning. You were up and ready to rumble getting us out the door for sporting events. First, Jenna’s 8:00am soccer game and then onto Mark’s flag football game. Not only that, but what a team we make in getting these kids to and from practices. You are a champ to jump in and let me know you’ll be off work in time to run around and pick them up, even after working all day.
Next up, Dates with Dad. You make sure every month come heck or high water you spend time with our kids. I love that ever since Megan was 5 years old (and with each one turning that magical age of five) you’ve taken her on a date once a month. I love that you teach our daughters how they should be treated by a young man and teach our young men how they should be treating women.
And then, there is you and me…and how we’ve been dating since October 19, 1990. I look forward to every Friday night and our Holy Hour of Adoration together while the kids have Youth Group and then our little snack after. Not only do I get one on one time with Jesus, I get some precious alone time with you.
Speaking of church, from the beginning, you insisted that we attend Mass together as a family. Even when our “family” was just you and me. Now a days, thanks to you, we were able to, as a family, complete the Five First Saturday Devotions. You also lead us in making sure we attend Mass on First Fridays as well.
Of course, there are also confessions and our perpetual Fifty Four Day Rosary Novenas. And I love that you listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit when it was suggested to you that we renew our consecration to the Blessed Mother, just in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima.
And don’t even get me started about an Openness to Life!! “Whatever you want, baby” began as a cute catch phrase during our engagement. Who knew it would also be the mantra of our marriage and little bundles of joy?
Homeschooling with you as my partner, not to mention-principal, has made my job smooth as silk. I certainly appreciate you doing school prep with our upper grade students and keeping the entire class (and teacher!) accountable for their work.
I love that you listen to me, for your ability to follow along with a story that weaves its way around like a plate of spaghetti. I love how patient you are with me, especially when my money tracking book is unmanageable, again, and even though you are an accountant you never criticize me for my ability to not subtract two simple numbers. I love that I can come to you for anything and how you always seem to fix my problems. I love how much fun we have together: the laughing, the teasing, the inside jokes.
I truly do love you and will continue to do so “forever and always”-even if it sound like a common cliché.
Your adorable Boo, Laurie
When I was about five years old I went up to my mom one day and staring at her with my big brown eyes asked her a very important question:
“Mommy, who is your best friend?”
She promptly answered, “Your dad.”
“Eww,” I responded. “Daddy can’t be your best friend! Girls have to have girl best friends and boys have boy best friends,” I explained. You can see I thought a lot about this.
Growing up that conversation never left me. And although I loved my dad dearly, I couldn’t understand how this grumpy Italian could be anyone’s best friend. But I’m glad he was my mom’s.
I, too, am married to my best friend. If you know me for five minutes you’ll know I also have a best “girl” friend, Haylee, but I don’t think she’ll mind if I talk about my dear husband. Ken might mind because he’ll read this post and in humility say, “Wow, she’s got a great husband. Wish I could meet him.” That’s just one of his best features.
Let me walk you through a typical day in the Shepardson Household. The alarm buzzes at 5:55am. I don’t hear it. I never hear it despite needing to be up by 6:00 to get Sissy ready for school. But Ken does. He gets up and immediately kneels at the foot of the bed to begin his day in prayer. Then he rubs my leg to rouse me to greet my day. On most days he encourages me to pray the morning offering with him even though I’m not ready to speak yet. Then he gets ready for work.
Ken NEVER misses a day of work. Okay, he has at least 11 times while I’m in the hospital giving birth to one of our children. But really, he never skips work. He takes his role as a provider very seriously. And, yet, when he’s not at work, he doesn’t bring it home. He doesn’t worry about it. Doesn’t fret. He used to bring his laptop when we went on vacation but he doesn’t do that anymore either.
When he does get home, he goes into dad mode. After sliding an LP onto his record player he enjoys one of his classic rock albums while he serves the family dinner and leads us in prayer. I’ll admit, praying to Led Zepplin is sometimes awkward.
After dinner he works on kitchen clean up. He is a master dishwasher loader!
The best part is he’s around to make sure the kids do their work. This is huge!!
After dinner he’ll read some mail and pay some bills. By 8:15 it’s time to sit down to read and pray. One night he’ll read from the Bible, another evening may be a catechism lesson. Also, he has a novel or saint biography that he adds to the rotation. On Thursday evenings we review the readings for the upcoming Mass on Sunday.
Ken even reads to us while we’re on vacation.
After reading we pray the family Rosary, with dad keeping us on track, even when he dozes off, err, I mean while he’s deep in meditation.
Before retiring for the night we send the kids to bed, Ken writes his plan for the next day, and we settle down to watch a TV show, enjoying some us time.
Stay tuned for The Half that makes me whole, part 2!
It’s been seven plus weeks now. I figure I should introduce to you our latest addition. Here is baby Aaron, born July 16, 2017, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Maybe he’s going to be a Carmelite. Craig says he’s going to be a baseball player.
Craig is quite the baseball fan!
Aaron is an easy baby. Doesn’t cry much. Doesn’t spit up. Takes a pacifier. But what is truly remarkable about Aaron is he shouldn’t be here. I know I keep harping on my age but really, women my age don’t typically have babies. Daily I whisper in his ear, “You are a miracle-God has a plan for your life.”
I am truly in awe of God’s goodness. Why did he choose to bless us again? I mean, if He had come down and asked Ken and I if we wanted another one we both would have said, “No” or maybe even, “NOOO!!!”. Maybe, just maybe we would have said, “No, thank you.” But, “Yes!”?? Um, that’s not where we were.
So, why did God choose to bless us again? We, who are so selfish? Because HE is good. And He has a plan. And even though we don’t deserve it we get to be a part of that plan. God has a plan for Aaron’s life. He has a plan for your life, too. Can you see it?
June 20, 1992 we said, “I do.”
Ken and I never should have gotten married. Actually, we never should have started dating. When we met, some 30 plus years ago, I was a 17 year old High School Senior and Ken was a 22 year old college graduate. I didn’t have many boyfriends, and rarely dated. Ken had a lot of female friends, and had been involved in several serious relationships. We weren’t even friends. At best we were acquaintances…he was just some guy I knew.
Four years later, we were still involved with St. Nicholas’ Youth Fellowship. Only, by now, I was 21 and had just completed by AA degree at the local community college. I was accepted to Franciscan University of Steubenville and was eager to go away to college. Thanks be to God, we couldn’t afford it. Because, if we could, I wouldn’t be here today.
That September (1990) Ken had just gotten out of a bad relationship and decided he just wanted to date. I had hesitated that night about going to Youth Fellowship. Perhaps I needed to be “done” helping out. What did I really contribute anyway? But, as it turns out, I had nothing else to do, and so I went. Good thing, too. That was the night Ken started flirting with me.
It was awkward…He kept asking me all these questions, “How come we’ve never gone out?” “We should go out to dinner.” “What kind of food do you like?” Etc.
Um, does he “like” me? Do I like him? Do I want to go out with him?
As I mentioned, I didn’t go out much. I thought it would be fun to go out on a date.
My dad was super excited. Ken was 26, Catholic, and he still went to church. Well, most of the time. But Daddy didn’t need to know that part.
Our first date was on October 19, 1990, a day we still celebrate. We would have gone sooner, but unbeknownst to me, Ken had already lined up two other dates, with two other women.
He was fifteen minutes late picking me up and during that time I developed butterflies in my stomach, which was weird, because, um, why was I so nervous? “Did I like him?” I questioned for a second time.
That evening he took me to a nice restaurant, Maxwell’s By the Sea. I do wish I had been in a cocktail dress. But when I asked him previously where we were going he said he wasn’t going to tell me. Hmm, why so secretive? Then I asked what I should wear. He responded, “California Casual.” (To this day my beloved will insist he said, “California Dressy,” which he did not. And since it is MY blog, I get to tell my version of the story…)
Anyway, ratty tennis shoes or not, I had a wonderful time. We talked, and talked, and talked. And when he brought me home that evening I thanked him and gave him a big hug goodbye. Cause, that’s what we did. Only I didn’t kiss him, so Ken thought we were “just friends.”
I went inside, closed and locked the door, looked in the mirror and said, “I could live like this for the rest of my life.”
Once dear one realized I was attracted he was more interested in pursuing a relationship. None of his friends voted for me. They thought one of the two other women he was seeing would suit him better. But, fortunately, I had the Holy Spirit on my side. And within a month he stopped seeing the other ladies and put me on the two year plan. We would date for a year, get engaged, and then marry a year after that. Did I mention I married an accountant?
So, when I said we never should have gotten married, that was from a human perspective. God had a plan for our lives. God STILL has a plan for our lives. And here we are, 25 years, and almost 11 kids later. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My husband and I have 15 children. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Ten of them are roaming the earth; four are in Heaven; and one is still brewing in the pot. Of those we have the privilege of raising we have five boys and five girls. Hence the name: Going to Overtime. Our tie breaker will be here in six short weeks. For the past three years I’ve been telling everyone we were done. Sara Lynn was born two weeks before I turned 45. I mean, women that age didn’t have children, did they? And here I am again, having just celebrated by 48th birthday and pregnant. Wow! That’s insane. Well, maybe. I consider it a miracle. And so to give the Glory to God I have created this blog spot to share with you that ordinary people can do great things. Not that I’ve consider myself to have done anything great. Just that God has chosen to do great things through us. So, get ready, get set, let’s Go to overtime.