St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Needless to say, I am attempting to enjoy each twelve days of Christmas this year more than ever.  I have taken on so much in 2013, and there have been so many zingers thrown at me to deal with;  I am milking Christmastide for all it’s worth – really in order to gain some recharging of myself so I can strive forward and onward in the new year ahead. 

How do I enjoy it?  To be honest, it doesn’t take much for me.  I am a very easily satisfied person as long as I get to have access to a little quiet time, within the walls of my own home.  For me, it usually means going out for a walk first, breathing in the freshness and generally just using those legs!  Making some excellent tea or fine coffee, and sitting comfortably in my own room, on the bed usually, nestled inside my lovely jacquard satin comforter, and reading a wonderful book or  watching TV or movies that I never got to see several years ago. Right now, it’s “watching”.  Our TV is up front and center in our living room, and I have such restrictions on TV watching, and of course I would never watch anything in front of the children that would disturb them.  I am a big sci-fi fan, selective Doctor Who episodes is about what they can watch in that genre.  But I just started to enjoy Christmas vacation beginning with Season 1 of Fringe, a series I never got to see. It was recommended to me because  I was a huge X-files fan, and when it ended, my TV viewing ended, quite literally. By then I had three children ages, 11, 9 and 3.  I never watched anything else..for many years.  I decided to watch the reboot of Doctor Who, (2005) this last summer just to see if it would give me some diversion… worked.  Now I’m hooked. I can honestly say I haven’t been involved in TV since since 2002!!  So it took me another decade to get on board with something.  I have more recently watched Downton Abbey on PBS, and I like it, but not to the point of obsession. So,  I am enjoying Fringe so far….it will give me many seasons to enjoy as I obviously just don’t enjoy much on TV at all currently.  (I’m watching Fringe on Netflix).

A light snow has fallen here in my area and we will be off later to the big city for appointments.  Did I mention my house is in utter disarray due to the holiday joy spent around the Christmas tree!?  Oh my…I won’t tackle cleaning until after New Years. 

Enjoy this sixth day of Christmas….the Six geese a’laying….marking the six days of Creation.  

God bless ~ Denise

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today marks the remembrance of the innocent children slaughtered at the hands of King Herod in his outrage that the Magi did not return to him with details of the whereabouts of the “newborn king.” Matt 2:16   Evil does not respect life.  And so it is we find ourselves surrounded by a culture of death.

I will not post any of the great and ancient masterpieces depicting the deaths of the children – the Holy Innocents – as I find them ever so difficult to gaze upon.  As a mother I can not bear the thought of the pain the parents of these children endured.  But I will leave you with strong commanding and thoughtful words from Pope Francis, defender of life as given by Almighty God, in commemoration of this day.  Thank God we have a pro-life VOICE rising up above other voices and demanding life be respected.  Our politicians try, yes, but how skeptical we are to listen to them when they seem to be so….political.   If not for a big attention catching Christian voice speaking out all over the globe…..I fear what would become of us all.

Feast of the Holy Innocents: Politicians Who Promote Abortion are the King Herod's of the Hour

CHOOSE LIFE Deut. 30:19

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas

Today marks the Feast of St. Stephen or (Boxing Day) the day after Christmas day…one of the twelve days of Christmas.  For traditional Christians whose roots extend back to before the reformation times, and follow apostolic succession from St. Peter[1] forward, and develop up through the centuries,  the next twelve days are Christmastide, or Twelvetide as they are sometimes referred to and are a profession of faith in song.  The “Christmas season” has now begun, and will end around Epiphany, the feast of the Three Kings…the Church is rich in heritage and symbolism of a visual church on earth….([1]"On this rock (petra in Greek) I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." Matt 16:18)

The beautiful twelve days of Christmas chant or song that we’ve come to know speaks of this special time, an expression of Christian belief as outlined here:

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed[2].

This chant has existed since the  late 1700s, around 1780s first prints of it came to be….it was fine tuned into the song variation we know most commonly around the early 1900s.  (1909 arrangement of the traditional folk melody by English composer Frederic Austin, who first introduced the now familiar prolongation of the verse "five gold rings". Wikipedia)

May you enjoy a blessed and joyful Christmas season, may it deepen your faith life and relieve your anxiety and bring you peace, comfort and assurance in the saving power of Christ, the partridge in a pear tree.


[2] Apostles Creed (profession of faith - Catholic and used by many other Christian traditions of the Western world, dating back to its origins, from the Council in Milan to Pope Siricius in about 390):

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following English translation of the Apostles' Creed.[21] In its discussion of the Creed,[22] the Catechism maintains the traditional division into twelve articles, the numbering of which is here added to the text.

1. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.

(*catholic, meaning “universal”)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The family is ready….

…but the weather has changed to a warmer 50 degrees on the first day of winter in Ohio.  By Christmas day it will have dropped back to 25… I’ll take this (rainy) day and run with it!

The Quad of Kids is ready for the festivities! 

Here’s the Artsy one, soon to turn 23, Mount Union grad of ‘13.  Doesn’t look a thing like me, right?  ha! 


And the illuminated one….the beauty of the family, soon to be a college senior next year…this one can not take a bad pic ….truly photogenic


The over anxious brainy one! He over thinks everything!  He is also ready for anything with his sonic screwdriver and talks up a storm about all things hypothetical and algebraic and cryptic! 


And finally…the different processing one!  Full of scientific information and facts and instructions….he reads a high school biology book for fun every night !……the dimples are the catch!


And so together, they comprise a wonderful gene pool of looks and talents and endless possibilities…..

PicMonkey XMasCollage

Enjoy your beautiful and blessed holiday season…..I’ll return after the some of the festivities fade into sweet memories….

God bless!  Denise

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Using John the Baptist as an example of a special different child

REPOSTING this wonderful article from another blog, Not Alone, a blog on parenting special needs children.



Your Child’s Differences Can Make a Difference in the World


One of my favorite women from the the Christmas story is Elizabeth. Luke tells us Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were “both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years” (1:6). But an angel visited Zechariah and told him he and Elizabeth would have a son.

But this son would be a little different. He would do great things for God, but he must not drink wine or strong drink. He would instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in Elizabeth’s womb. When their son was born, Elizabeth and Zechariah broke with the tradition of naming him after his father and instead named him John. The entire situation was so strange, Luke tells us, “all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’” (1:65-66).

We know that baby grew up to be John the Baptist, but he never outgrew his reputation of being a little different.

Matthew 3:4 tells us, “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.” He preached a different message than the Jews had heard before, one of repentance and baptism. He even had the honor of baptizing Jesus. But he was outspoken and bold, which eventually led to his death–he was imprisoned for speaking out against Herod taking his brother’s wife and was then beheaded at her request.

Maybe, like John, when your child was born, your neighbors whispered to each other about how different he was. Maybe your daughter dresses in her own unique way, and doesn’t care what her peers think. Maybe your son seems to have no filter and speaks the truth, even when it gets him (or you!) in trouble.

When the neighbors peered at the baby John and asked “What then will this child be?” they had no idea the path he would travel. But, Luke 1:66 tells us, “the hand of the Lord was with him.” The hand of the Lord is with your child, too.

Our kids are different. We can either see that as a hindrance to them, or we can look at this story of John the Baptist as our example. Jesus Himself said of John, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28).

God used John’s differences to make a difference in the world.

Thank God today for your child’s differences. Ask Him to remind you of the ways those differences have made a difference in your life or the lives of others.


Sandra Peoples

Sandra is a pastor's wife and mom to three boys. She's the author of Speechless: Finding God's Grace in My Son's Autism and Held: Learning to Live in God's Grip (a Bible study for special-needs parents).

Saint Nicholas Center

The REAL Santa Claus…..St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

Discover the real story at:  Saint Nicholas Center

O Adonai (O Lord)

So…I spent 7 hours in the dark and cold yesterday…all from the comfort of my home :)  Yes, it was a “no power” exercise in patience and gratefulness.  I am SO proud that my kids didn’t complain.  Instead, I lit every Yankee Candle I had, we listened to the “boom box” gently playing Christmas music and they TALKED and they played board games…actually, it was quite a relaxing “forced” break!  I needed a mini-vacation anyway!

So, today I play catch-up.  Alas, everyone is still sleeping!  Cold has a way of wearing you out!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*       ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I leave you with this lovely Advent scripture (O Antiphon) for today:

O Adonai:
“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (Isaiah 11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*             ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

From Wikipedia:

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions.

They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the interjection "O".[1] Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

God bless you this 18th day of December ~ as we await the joyful celebration of Emmanuel, God with us!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Did the Emperor Constantine found the Catholic Church?

Free eBook, from Amazon

Before it’s gone…check it out ….this spiritual book authored by Pope Francis is a FREE download to your Kindle right now….hardbound sells for $29.99!  Get it while it’s available:

Open Mind, Faithful Heart

Gaudete Sunday….Rejoice!

We are nearing the final leg of the Advent Season.  That means Christmas celebrations are in full swing and this is the last week to “get it altogether” before the special day hits!  In a more spiritual sense we are anticipating that renewal and refreshment that can only come from within through the power of God – by inviting Him, having conversation with Him; yes, talking to Him….and remembering He came to us as a little child.  Our God, our Savior….a little child.


Yesterday we lit the Rose colored candle of the Advent wreath, signifying “gaudete”, Latin for: “rejoice”,  marking ever so closer  our spiritual journey toward preparation of the New Born King’s arrival in our hearts and souls.  A visual reminder of our journey, and that we are almost there…..How I love that our Church (universal)  gives us such wonderful spiritual opportunities with each liturgical season to consider ourselves deeply, evaluate, meditate and improve areas of our lives, growing closer in our conversations with God.  Advent is one such time, ,and it does not disappoint.

Yesterday was both a tough day and a beautiful day.  My morning began as usual, as it has for the last 22+ years …..with arising much earlier than the rest of the family, getting myself ready then awaking the others, and heading off to our religious education sessions before church services.  God has a sense of humor, indeed…and a sense of just where I need to be adjusted each year to make it new and interesting!!  This year I have been very challenged by both my own autistic son and his sensory overload and needs…..and another young child in my own classroom who suffers from ADHD quite severely and is off his medication on weekends.  There is such total disruption in the classroom, none that I have ever experienced before in 22 years of teaching.  With 110 hours of certified credit hours behind me…and 22 yrs of “in the trenches” experience, NOTHING prepares you for this! Haha!! To remain “comfortable” and relaxed and rote….uh, no way!  God is doing “something new”…for sure!   I definitely have a lively group!


Mark playing at Grandpa’s after family Christmas dinner get together

Thank God for family, really.  Later we traveled far out of our area and settled in with my husband’s side of the family for a dinner and Christmas celebration with relatives coming from far and wide.  My father-in-law is an amazing 91 year old!….and doing well.  My husband is the “baby” of the family, and all the cousins of my children are WAY older than my children… my youngest ones, of ages 14 and 10, do not have any age mate cousins at all, on either side of our families.  It makes for such an interesting dynamic.  I am so proud of how my children can converse and get along with adults on so many levels. It’s so sweet to see how the older cousins in their mid to late twenties and even thirties interact with their youngest cousins. And….to have a patriarch of the family, a grandfather quite that old, is really an incredible blessing! 


And so this week unfolds with sweet sugary memories of yet another family annual special occasion lingering in our minds and hearts… we push on toward our goal:  the Birth of the Newborn King; Emmanuel, God with Us.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A glimpse of Christmas

..a glimpse of Christmas in our cozy little living room…..


…and outside on our street…..


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Exchange: Update to Curriculum 2013-14

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Exchange: Update to Curriculum 2013-14: Our December update on home school and curriculum we have made it to about weeks 10-14 of our studies, depending on the courses..h...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pope: When faith becomes an ideology, it can make Christians hostile and...

(Excerpt from;

Pope Francis has been very clear about how he feels about ideological purity in religion. He’s been particularly critical of right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick. He has railed against economic inequality and has criticized the anti-gay and anti-abortion strains that have come to dominate the Christian Right here in America. Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world. And Pope Francis said as much last Thursday.

Pope Francis called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness.

During a daily Mass last week, Pope Francis called ideological Christianity “an illness” that doesn’t serve Jesus Christ. Instead, it “frightens” people and pushes them away from religion.

According to Radio Vatican, the Pope said:

“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Based on past statements, Pope Francis’ remarks were aimed mostly at the Christian Right.

While Pope Francis did not specifically mention Christian right-wing ideology during the Mass, his past remarks suggest he was talking about that ideology most of all.

In September, Pope Francis attacked “savage capitalism” and took up the plight of the unemployed against a system that worships money. Earlier that month, the Pope also criticized conservative Catholics for focusing so much on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. And in July, Pope Francis put the brakes on hating gay people, saying that we shouldn’t judge or marginalize them.

Clearly, Pope Francis isn’t fond of the extreme ideals of the Christian Right. He supports helping the poor. He believes in economic fairness. He denounces hatred of gay people. He thinks the war against abortion and birth control has gone too far. Considering all of these things, it’s pretty obvious that Pope Francis was mostly talking to right-wing Christians on Thursday. Their ideological fanaticism has damaged religion. They have abandoned the true teachings of Jesus to pursue an extremist agenda. And Pope Francis just called them out for it. Cue right-wing rage in 3, 2, 1…

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent Beginnings…

As my husband and I return to conduct the bible study for the parishes, we are going to give out copies of this for our participants’ enrichment this month to engage in Advent scripture readings daily.


Please feel free to download it – it prints out very nicely.

May God bless you with a beautiful Advent season beginning this first day of Advent!