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Choosing Laughter

November 20, 2020

Sometimes all I can really do is laugh. Usually at the worst possible times. This is one of those times.

In September we decided (read I suggested and Jon is wonderful) it was time for new, grown up furniture so we visited a “new” store and ordered two couches and two chairs. It was the 18th.

Two days before scheduled delivery I listed our sectional on marketplace and it was gone that night. AWESOME SAUCE!

Delivery day came 10/8 but only couches, no chairs. They were back-ordered so the company rescheduled them for 10/20.

Ugh. Fine. Whatever… except the night before, on October 19 they called to reschedule them for NOVEMBER 20. Boooo.

So today is the day! November 20! I’ve spent the morning nesting, making room for the chairs that would soon complete our living room. So pumped.

I received a text saying they were 10 minutes away with a tracking link. WOO HOO! The link took me to a page that had a tiny truck on a map of Brighton and a tiny footnote that said “denim couch quantity 2.”


😳 😂😂😂

The delivery team phoned less than a minute later so I inquired “Please, tell me you have two chairs and not two couches because my couches were delivered last month.”

“Oh, no, I’m sorry ma’am, we have two couches. I’m so sorry. This happens a lot, the warehouse loaded the wrong items.” He gave me the customer service 888 number.

I am on hold now and I really have to at least try to stop laughing because they won’t take me seriously if I don’t. But it’s funny. Also I’m not a yeller, although this would be the time for volume.

Here is how my day could have gone:

Yell at Ibrahim, the delivery driver who was super courteous when he called? No. I told him not to worry that I would call the number and sort it out. I wished him a beautiful weekend and a blessed Thanksgiving. I told him to stay safe and well. He thanked me and wished me the same.

Yell at our salesman, Mike? No but I did call him because as a veteran of the furniture store that recently folded and thus a new employee of the new company, he wanted an update about delivery issues. I made it ok for us to laugh together. He said our situation makes him professionally embarrassed I didn’t even know you could make a profession out of that!

He thanked me for making him laugh and said he would discuss us with his regional manager and call me back later today. I believe he will call back because I didn’t rip his head off so calling me back won’t be unpleasant for him.

He told me that he had just walked in the door and was going to need more coffee or maybe cocaine. Because I’m super helpful, I suggested that cocaine dissolves nicely in coffee. I’ve heard.

Yell at the customer service rep? No, I’m pretty sure I’ll pass on that, too. I’m writing this while on hold, now at the 35 minute mark. Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, there are many other things I could, should, would rather be doing. I’m still not going to muck up another person’s day just because I’m inconvenienced. Nope.

Cynthia, the customer service rep who just answered, was also delightful. Embarrassed and apologetic but delightful. I could hear a small child making all kinds of noise in the background. I thought about how many calls Cynthia must take each day, in what sounds like her home. How many times a day is some stranger yelling at her?

People seldom call customer service with praise. They call her when they’re dealing with a problem with her company. She has to listen to that all day, with at least one little kid running around. God bless her. That is one heck of a load.

She definitely does not need to have me yell at her, too. I don’t care if it’s her job. She deserves kindness. Everyone does.

There is so much anger in the world and I won’t add to it. It would mess up everyone in my path. There are three people that I could have hollered at and taken my frustration out on. No. I made a decision to put out what I want to receive. Just like my mom always reminded: Do unto others…

Please don’t consider this virtue signaling and don’t gag at the “sweetness” because I can be and often am just as much of an asshole as the next person. I can be cranky, real cranky. I am quite often angry. I have bad breath when I wake up in the morning, too.

I’m tired of evil. Aren’t we all just so tired of the anger, the unkind things people are saying and doing to one another?

There is just so much evil. I pray and I pray and I pray. I have to do more. I am aware that I can’t control any of the things that are happening in the world. I can only control my own self.

I’m writing this to suggest that we ALLLL look for ways to lighten the anger load in the world. Just be effing kind. We will NEED each other more than ever very soon.

Kindness, humor and patience win. I feel like at least one little part of today is a win.

One Wild Idea

November 19, 2020

I am unplugged, well, mostly. I am not watching network news, in fact I haven’t for several years. I read what my Facebook friends post and believe me, with close to 600 connections I see ALL of the headlines. The whole spectrum. 

Sure, I post or repost everything that makes me laugh out loud because I feel that if I crave laughter then, certainly, everyone must. I want to be the person who injects her friends’ news feeds with silliness and laughter. I don’t mind being perceived as a meme spreading bubble head. I know there is more to me.

The YouTube channels I follow include a few exorcists. Yes, exorcists, every bit as badass as the ones in movies but also saintly and extremely insightful. You see, I believe (and my exorcists concur) that everything we are seeing in our current events isn’t entirely caused by humans. 

Yes. Amy believes demons are real and active. You should, too, but it isn’t for me to convince you, it is my job only to open your eyes to “what if?” You can and will figure it out. I know, it’s “out there” at best and downright terrifying otherwise.

So I have a wild idea: What if we could ALL work toward resolution? I propose that it matters not for whom you cast your vote. It also matters not for whom your friends or enemies voted. Liberating, isn’t it?

Voting was the small part of your responsibility. The REAL responsibility, which we all bear now, is to pray. <cliche alert> PRAY like your life depends on it because it really does. 

What if we all prayed together for God to immobilize the demons? This would mean that we don’t pray for our own party or candidate. We don’t pray for what WE think will be the best outcome. What if we all pray for what God wants? What if we all pray that demons are unable to do their thing, which is sow fear, unrest, distrust, anger, depression, anxiety, division, oppression and all of the other awful things in that vein. 

If you have read this far then first, thank you, and second, well, buckle up because I’m just going to put it ALL out there now.  There is power in our unified prayer but we cannot do this alone. We need Heavenly help. 

All of my life I could refuse my mom nothing. She cooperated with God to bring me into this world and she cared for me. I always tried to do whatever she asked and I desperately wanted to please her, soothe her heart, make her happy, whenever I could. I held nothing back from my mom. If anyone dare say anything against my mom I would (and did) fight them. I would like to think that most people give their moms that kind of sway over their lives. 

So think, for a minute, how Jesus must feel about His mom. He loves her and wants us all to love her. He places her above all other humans. He lets her do things that nobody else would or could do. He listens to her. In the Bible, at the wedding at Cana, he tells us to “do whatever she tells you.” and at his death he gives her to us “behold your mother.” She is the help we need. 

We need the protection of a mother. Demons fear her so if you want something protected, give it to His mother. No demon dare go after what she holds in her hands or in her heart. 

Let’s ALL ask that she hold our country in her hands, take us into her heart, love us all, PROTECT us! Sort us out! Keep us safe. 

Demons will claim to have dominion over our country but they don’t. WE DO. This is OUR sovereign nation. Only we can and should give our nation to her, place it in her care. We can’t keep it safe alone, we need supernatural assistance. What if we asked her to watch over and protect our whole country and our election proceedings, that God’s will be done here instead of our own? What if we just give it ALLLLLL to her? 

Would you find that secure? I sure would. I do. 

Here is what might be the hard part: Can you live with an outcome in which your “guy” doesn’t get in? Would you find yourself able to be introspective enough to consider that you could abide with whatever outcome God intends? Would you be able to proceed with your life peacefully, knowing that you voted, then you prayed hard and let God decide the outcome?

Wouldn’t you prefer to live in a country that is as God wants it to be? 

I would be thrilled to live in a society God has planned for me. I will most likely have to wait for Heaven for that. While still here, it would be more than wonderful to not see distrust and fighting everywhere I look.

For many months after losing my dad I found it very hard to pray. In the wake of the unrest that led up to and has now followed the election I find I am praying again. My full time job is now praying for our family, our state, our country, our world. Please find the time and the generosity and a few minutes every day to do the same. 

Here is the thing, though, and it causes me anguish to write this, based on how we, as a nation, have behaved regarding those pesky 10 commandments over the past many years, what we deserve may be anything but peaceful. 

We are not to fear, though. When one surrenders one’s life, all of it, then one is given everything needed to endure. 

So… Pray. Pray harder. Be kind. Have peace. God wants to give you His peace. Get right with God, you will need His help in the days to come. I also suggest “go to confession!” and that will be another post entirely.

One Year

November 13, 2020

One year plus two weeks ago after your breakfast, you dressed in the Halloween t-shirt I had given you on your birthday then you had Karen text me your photo. Although Halloween was never your thing, you knew how much I enjoyed it and you indulged me.

One year plus one week ago we shared your last ever champagne. You always loved wine, especially bubbles. Like father, like daughter, I guess. It was a Wednesday, our final Dad and Amy Day. We’d had 17 months of Wednesday dates after Mom died and I am so very grateful for every single one of them. I knew our time was slipping away faster every day and I greedily wanted every moment with you that I could have. I slept over that night.

One year plus six days ago I awoke very early. I sat in a corner of your room praying, the nightlight helped me keep watch of your breaths. I prayed, I watched and I cried. During the third decade of my second Rosary you woke up and saw me. You sat up, swinging your legs over the edge and said “Oh, Honey, don’t cry, I’m not dying.” Then you made this goofy face and added “well, ok, I guess I am… but not today.” Pause. Grin. “…I hope.” Then you laughed and I did, too. You patted the spot next to you and I came to sit. You kissed my hand then held both of mine in yours. We left not a single loving word unsaid. We were, as you had always said, “simpatico.”

One year plus five days ago I packed up to go home, you promised you would be there when I returned the next day. You always kept your promises so I slept like a log in my own home that night.

One year plus four days ago your kids and grandkids visited, everyone thrilled with how alert and funny you were. Jon and I arrived in the early evening and you were still in party mode but after a short time everything about you changed, it was as though you had been unplugged. You rode your stair chair up and walked to the bathroom, needing so much assistance. You were then too spent to walk so you rode on the seat of your walker to your room, Karen gently pushing you down the hall from behind. She and I helped you stand, Karen behind, me in front of you. I wrapped my arms around you to lift and I instantly understood that this would be our last hug. I held on to you for dear life; we pivoted you from the walker to your bed. You would not rise again.

Over the next very blurry days all of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren visited, we loved, we prayed and we lifted each other.

One year plus two days ago you smiled at me for the last time. Ever the creeper, I was once again watching you sleep. You opened your eyes and I forced myself to grin because I didn’t want you to see that my heart was mid-shatter. You met my grin with such a sweet smile.

One year ago today you journeyed toward Home. I am and will always be immensely grateful for the privilege of being present.

You and Mom had shown such a noble acceptance of God’s will during your final years, acceptance of all the suffering and loss that had penetrated your life. You had taught us all how to live well a Catholic life and now also how to suffer bravely and die well, close to God.

Not a day passes that I don’t miss you both, in fact seldom an hour passes that you don’t cross my mind. I pray that your souls are together in Heaven and have faith that just as God has promised I will see you again.

When God Sends an Old Friend to Revive You

March 19, 2018

Sometimes I get the feeling of mentally wearing a bike helmet, strapped into a window seat on the struggle bus. Lately it kinda feels like the bus is on fire, careening over a cliff, bumping and banging on every rock, shrub and boulder all the way down toward what looks like a happy little river but will most likely turn into Niagara Falls when we round the first happy little bend.

Ok, that might be just a little dramatic. A slightly more realistic depiction would be a cushy motor coach on a Sunday drive in a light rain. I’m probably still wearing the helmet and licking the window, super confused about how to get the cold rain from outside the bus to refresh me because life can REALLY dehydrate you.

In either scenario I’d be pleased to find an eject button or rip-cord to pull, for to be doing the stopping and the disembarking but nope. I keep looking, though.

I think I’m currently in my third month tryna read Henri Nouwen’s emotionally and spiritually dense A Cry For Mercy but it is probably more like six months. I’m usually all about a difficult read and often have a stack of four or five books that I’m reading simultaneously. Usually I choose non-fiction, the nerdier and more obscure the better. I usually prefer spiritual works and science, always knitting God and science in my head and heart because that’s how life makes the most sense to me. I usually devour a good book, especially thin books like this. Usually. Yet here I am on page 82 of 145. For months, people.


Somebody send help.

And wine.

Good wine.

I’ve decided being stuck in Nouwen isn’t a reflection on my ability to read and comprehend. I think I’m stuck because this book is jam packed with truths. Truths God wants me to know about life in general and truths about my own life. Who knows, perhaps truths He wants you to know about your life, too. The hard thing about truth is that it isn’t always what we want it to be, it is what is.

Some days I read an incredibly personal passage, slam the book closed and look around for hidden cameras. “I’m not reading THAT for a while because it knows too much.”

Anyhooo… as the title says… enter the Old Friend.

Very early in our homeschool career we studied the masters and were particularly fascinated with vanGogh. His adept use of rich, bold colors and his terse yet fluid strokes engage like few other artists. I also have always loved how his own red beard appears in many of his paintings because Vince and I share a super power of injecting ourself into our work and seeing life through a “me” monocle.

I thought I had seen all his work and yet today right there on page 82 mention is made of vanGogh’s The Raising of Lazarus, with the bright sun representing God, in whose light all become new.

Um, excuse me? His raising of what now? We missed one. Maybe we didn’t really miss it but it was a divine plan that I not truly encounter it until today when I really needed a good resurrection.

Must. Know. More.

In the words of my brilliant brother-in-law: “Consult the Googles!”

I found the image and then whoosh down a rabbit hole I went finally landing on this webpage, a meditation written for the 5th Sunday of Lent 2011.

Ummmm, yeah, so yesterday was the 5th Sunday of Lent.

A “coincidence” like this is just too much to keep to myself.

Happy Monday, my loves ❤️

What is God calling you to that is outside your comfort zone but may just set you free?

Imma write.

She Can Read. Who Knew?

July 13, 2017

Guess whose crazy red poodle can read. You already know, don’t you? Ya, ours.

For six years (her entire life) it has been a struggle to get her to eat. She has always been several pounds under the breed standard. Visitors often comment on how skinny she is, especially when compared to our two <ahem> meatier dogs. She has earned the nickname Bird Bones because she is built more like a baby bird than a majestic standard poodle.  I often worried that perhaps she was Penny-rexic.

I’ve tried so very many bowls: pet bowls from pet stores, pretty ceramic bowls from human stores, paper plates and even metal bowls but she would only eat when the planets aligned and/or the humans humiliated themselves and even then it was a crap shoot.

We have tried numerous ways to get her to eat: sprinkled parm over the food, sprinkled “magic” dust (just rubbing empty fingers over her bowl), stirred plain yogurt in, mixed in bits of  leftover human food, which she picks out leaving the kibble behind, and I’ve made “gravy” by adding water to whatever pan I cooked the human dinner and mixed that in.

On more occasions than I care to divulge I’ve even tried blowing kisses into her food. Yes, a loud “mmm-wah” with accompanying theatrical gesture and overdramatic blowing. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She may eat a little then just backs away.

Sometimes she would eat if a human would sit rightnext to her and pretend to eat, too.

If we did get her to eat it was a tenuous situation. We have been known to loudly whisper “she’s eating nobody move” and every human in the room will freeze in place lest we disturbed the balance of her universe and she stop eating.

Close the dishwasher, fridge or a cupboard door? Pop a cork on a bottle of wine? Speak too loudly? Dare to cough, sneeze, burp, fart or laugh? Peace out, it’s over, baby, she’s done.

The struggle is more than real.

I bought some new dog bowls at TJ Maxx last week and since using them HRH  GOBBLES up every last nugget – instantly. How are these bowls different? They have words on them which she has read and taken to heart, I’m certain. I guess she needed aesthetically pleasing, clearly labeled bowls.

“DOG live, love, bark”


I’m thankful they don’t say “eat” because if she read that she probably wouldn’t.


December 25, 2016


THE gift.

Growing up in the 1970’s my parents had a beautiful nativity set which was set up in our mantle every year. It was accentuated by a beautiful sky behind it made by my mom. It was deep navy blue and she had placed lights and angels all over it with a large star. It was so beautiful over our fireplace and as a kid I would often sit and look at it while thinking about all that Jesus meant to me.

Fast forward to last year when my two youngest kids and I were dragging my parents’ decorations from their attic to help them prepare for Christmas. My mom had decided to purge some old decorations and handed me a sandwich baggie filled with the little angels from our childhood nativity. She said “You can throw those out.” I gasped and said “Throw out the angels?” She laughed at my horror and said “You can have them.” So I took them home in the little baggie.

This year when we were decorating our house (by “we” I mean my youngest daughter, Kolbe, because I was sick in bed.) Kolbe asked me what to do with the angels. I certainly could never throw them away but also, what should I do with a baggie full of tiny angels from the seventies? I told her about the beautiful sky my mom created for our nativity scene and how much they meant to me. I could not possibly part with them this year and then I put them completely out of my mind.

This morning as my kids were passing out all the gifts from under our tree I was handed a wrapped box which said “To: Mom, From: Kolbe” and all my kids said “That will be the last present anyone opens because nobody wants their present to follow that one.” And they warned me that I would cry. Kids are mean, anticipating my crying. Who do they think they are?

I was determined that I would NOT cry. I would be an ice princess with zero emotions. I was expecting some sort of photo project with images of my babies, now all adults. NO. No crying.

After waiting what seemed like FORFREAKINGEVER for all my peeps to finish opening all their gifts from Jon and I and from each other and then opening all the gifts for me from each person, I was left with the one box that was declared “the last gift.” I was hungry, brunch was almost done, my champagne was good and cold, waiting for me on the patio steps and I was ready to be tear-free and show my kids that I have a heart of stone. LET’S DO THIS.

I opened that box and when the first layer of tissue was removed I could not believe my eyes, nor could I stop the river of tears. My Kolbe had taken each of these tiny 70’s angels and attached them to a string of lights which she then wrapped around a wreath covered in deep navy blue tulle ribbon. Absolute perfection.

I wept like there was no tomorrow.

After drying my face, we all agreed that nobody should ever buy anybody another gift EVER because this was THE gift. My childhood joined to my adulthood, and on a Christmas on which I couldn’t be with my parents, well, it just brought so much comfort. AND JOY.

I know Christmas isn’t about stuff. I know this. It is about God becoming a tiny baby who would grow to sacrifice His entire self for all of us. It is the story of the Incarnation and the story of our salvation. It is the proof that each of us is loved more than we could ever imagine by our God who would have come to save us even if there was only ever one human to save. It is the fulfillment of a promise and the completion of a covenant between God and man. It is real love, an all encompassing, overwhelming, powerful love that withstands everything and anything. It is the remembrance of an event now rich with traditions which further serve to bring us closer to the God who created us from nothing yet longs for us to love Him.

For me, today, it is a reminder that I am part of something that can never die, not just the family from which I came but also the family I helped create. It is about a sense of belonging and a knowledge that God loves me, always has and always will.

Each of us is loved, more than we know. I wish I could just convince everyone everywhere. God IS love and each of us is His favorite ever.

All this sprang from an inspired, loving gift of 70’s angels on a wreath. Maybe not a miracle, per se, but an amazing inspiration.

Sixty-five years of love.

September 13, 2015

Today my family celebrated a pretty big event, the sixty-fifth anniversary of my parents’ wedding.  Technically, their anniversary was August 19th but it has been a really rough year and we moved it to a time when they were both well. It was a small gathering, compared to the size of our family, but it was full of love nonetheless.

My daughter, the one I call my “Apple Ninja”, scanned several of my parents’ photos, starting with their wedding photos, She set it to some Anne Murray music and voila!, tear invoking images of their/our collective life.  It has been a good life, make no mistake. A REALLY good life.

Several people at the party asked me and/or my Ninja to provide them with a copy of the slide show.  For now we have this video for you to watch and for the family who couldn’t make it and the friends who are interested in seeing little Amy… and aren’t we all curious as to her beginnings?

Aaaaaand there it is… one of my super powers, perhaps my strongest… making it all about me.  My other super power is turning food into poop but alas, that is another post for another day.

Please enjoy this glimpse into the gift that is my family.  They are the best.

Exorcisms 101

March 3, 2015

This past weekend I attended a conference that changed how I see everything.  Everything.

The first speaker was a theologian, Dr. Lawrence Feingold.  His talk was entitled Angels and Demons.  There were many brilliant points he made but the most significant concept to me was that just as humans are the very top animal of the created material world, we are also the absolute bottom of the spiritual world. I have created in my own mind a Venn diagram, the intersection of which has a marker which states “YOU ARE HERE.” We are the only creatures in both realms and also the only creatures that cooperate with God in creation, that is, the creation of new humans.  All angels that will ever be were created in the same instant and because they are pure spirit they never die, they also don’t have baby angels.  Another important concept is that humans do not become angels when their physical bodies die, they simply leave their body behind and only their soul, their spirit, remains. All demons made the decision to turn against God in the very instant they were created and there is no conversion among them.  There is no hope, ever, for their salvation and this is just one of the reasons that demons work like mad to separate us from God, too.

Any hoo… back to the scary stuff…

Two of the talks were given by an exorcist.  Yes, a real-life, nothing like in the movies, humble, funny, absolutely brilliant, Roman Catholic priest who exorcises demons out of humans every day. He is extraordinarily busy.

Fr. Cliff Ermatinger is the pastor at a large parish in Milwaukee.  He was quite calm and matter of fact.  I can’t think of a subject that is scarier than exorcism, just ask my family; I avoid demon movies because they’re just too real for my taste.  Fr. Cliff’s dry sense of humor and complete confidence in God made it easier for me to hear the things he talked about and I did not have nightmares after, so that’s a bonus.

There are several different kinds of extraordinary demonic activities and I am not qualified to even attempt to define them.  When I started writing this I looked for a webpage to which I could hyperlink, to provide the necessary definitions. As I read through some of the search results, I decided it is all just pretty frightening, mostly because it is quite real. I don’t want to send anyone to a scary page.  My reason for writing this post is to relay information that was either new to me, surprising, or super cool.

A differentiation was made between a demonic infestation (the attachment of demons to a place, thing or animal) and a haunting, which is a human soul, suffering in Purgatory yet stuck on Earth.  Fr. Cliff explained that “haunted” television shows featuring these poor souls exploit the suffering of a human for entertainment.  He expressed great sadness at that.  It is quite sad.  They need help.  What is needed to free the soul? Go to your local Catholic parish and ask the priest to say a Mass for the soul, although sometimes it may require a few Masses.

During an exorcism, which is performed on a human whose physical body is controlled by a demon, the exorcist commands the demon to tell how they gained access to the person. It turns out there are a terrifying number of ways that demons enter.  Contrary to what we learn from Hollywood, you don’t have to personally invite them.  Each and every time you commit sin you open yourself up to demons, you enter into a contract with them.  They don’t always take up residence but you may notice that after one sin, subsequent sins become easier.  Slippery slope.  Easy fix: go to confession OFTEN and don’t sin.

One case he shared was that of a man who had been experiencing extraordinary demonic activity.  When commanded by Fr. Cliff to tell how the demon gained access to the man, the demon answered “in a can of coke.”

Ho.  Lee.  Shit.

It turns out that this man, who was married, declined the romantic advances of a woman at his place of work.  The spurned woman happened to be a witch and yes, we learned this weekend, witches are real, too. She put a curse on a can of soda and the man drank it.  Fr. Cliff called this a “fortuna” and said curses can be placed on anyone or anything.  Other common items that contain a fortuna include cursed tattoo ink and illegal drugs that have been cursed, often as an offering to Satan, then sold on the street to cause addiction and chaos in the life of the buyer.

At dinner later that night my sister and I half joked that in addition to swearing off cola, we should sprinkle everything we eat or drink with blessed salt from now on.  She carries blessed salt with her at all times, I do now, too.  I mean, c’mon!  Can you imagine the possibilities? An angry food service worker, an evil minded food or drink distributor, farmer, grocery store worker…  There is so much evil in our world and there are those who just want to plunge our society further into darkness.  It makes me want to never eat or drink again.  Oh, wait… that easy fix again: go to confession, attend Mass regularly and don’t sin.  Phew.  But I’m still putting a small container of blessed salt in my purse.

Fr. Cliff explained that what you see in a movie exorcism is nothing like what really happens.  First, it isn’t over in 90 minutes.  Exorcisms often take months or years to accomplish.  What you see in a movie, with all of the terrifying deformities, super human strength, apparitions and voices, is quite accurate but all of the activity one would see in a movie actually often takes place over many, many exorcism sessions.

As I mentioned, he is a pastor in Milwaukee and his parish has a school.  Those responsibilities could each easily be two full time jobs and exorcisms are actually his part-time work.  He said he only does them at night because with a school full of children on the campus of his parish, the shrieking and screaming associated with this job is bad for business.

He also said that possessed people puke during exorcisms.  They puke a lot.  He  keeps several buckets at the ready during the exorcism process.  He can tell how an exorcism is progressing based on the changes in the vomit.  For example, the man who ingested the cursed coke, although it was consumed years earlier, once Fr. was told the method of entry and commanded that the coke (and the demon) leave the body, the man began to vomit coke.

This brings me to something I had never really thought about before.  I guess I just always accepted that demons, although spirits, do have control over things in our physical world but I never really thought about how.  There is a scientific law that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. The coke was reconstructed from the contents of the man’s body and expelled.  Other examples Fr. mentioned of ways in which demons rearrange things within a human body were the appearance of fangs, bruises, scratches and blistering of skin.

Father Cliff told another story of a teenage boy who, having purchased a Ouija board, brought it to the home of a friend where a group gathered to play with it.  The teens invited any spirits present to touch them.  All of them were immediately beaten up by unseen assailants.  Covered in bruises, the owner ran home, leaving the board behind in his friend’s basement.  Once home, crying and praying, he discovered his Ouija board had made its own way home, too.

He told another story of a young man in a cohabitating relationship began to exhibit demonic manifestation.  The girlfriend kicked him out, thinking that the behavior was his.  Having been raised a Catholic, instinctively consulted a priest, ending up with Fr. Cliff.  During the months that followed, the young man went to confession, returned to an active faith and remained in the state of grace, going to daily Mass and Holy Communion.  The demon was eventually exorcised and the man returned to his normal self.  Once himself again, the girlfriend welcomed him back.  Fr. Cliff told the young man that he was better off possessed by a demon with his soul in the state of grace than he was as a demon free man living in his current situation.  Should he die as the former, his salvation was not in jeopardy, as it was in mortal danger in the latter circumstance.

Father said that he always asks the demons’ names and has encountered the same demon in different people.  He also said that some methods of entrance are more common than others, one of those being pornography.  It seems that many pornographic producers  are also active Satanists.  They put curses on their images.  Humans voluntarily ingest (via sight) these images and the demon gets in.  He told us that in one exorcism he commanded the demon to tell him the method of entry and his reply was “through my greatest invention ever, internet pornography.”  I certainly didn’t have to be told that Satan invented pornography but the way Fr. related the story sent chills down my spine.

During a question and answer period someone asked if he was ever in frightened or in danger during an exorcism and he immediately answered “No, not at all.” I believe his courage comes from his complete trust in God and the Catholic faith.  Being a “cradle Catholic”, if I ever encounter a problem of the demonic variety I would immediately seek help from a Catholic priest. I had always been curious about what people of other faiths and denominations do when they have a possession, well curious, but not curious enough to look for an answer.  It turns out that they, too, go to Catholic priests, just like in the movies.  Fr. Cliff told us that he exorcises many non-Catholics and , I was very surprised to learn, large numbers of non-Christians experience extraordinary demonic activity and that they not only seek the help of Catholic priests but they usually convert to Catholicism afterward, too.

Another statistic that I found extremely interesting is that there are two rites for exorcism, one is Latin and a newer one is English.  Fr. told us that of the 80 some exorcists in the United States he does not know of any who use the newer rite.  Apparently the old rite is preferred.  As a fan of all things ancient and Latin this makes me happy.

On another happy note, I was very relieved to know that demons, and angels for that matter, do not know your thoughts. This isn’t to say that they don’t know what you are thinking because they are more intelligent than we could ever imagine and they can usually figure out where you’re heading.  They do, however have complete access to any sensory input you have ever had and all of your memory.  This is how they are able to tempt us with the precision of a surgeon.  They know everything about who, what, when, where and how you are and have ever been.  Yikes.

The simple fix?  The spiritual solution?  The one thing that can keep you safe?  Get in the state of grace and stay in the state of grace.  Frequent confession.  Daily Mass. Don’t sin. Pray.  It is exactly that easy and exactly that hard.  In our world we often forget what the Bible tells us over and over and over: Repent and sin no more, be healed.  I know I’m on repeat but this is it.

Just Be Holy.      +:o)

Fr. Cliff Ermatinger has written several books, some of which you can find here.  For an interesting article published by The National Catholic Register click here.

Baby it’s cold, wait, nevermind, it’s not.

October 14, 2014

Raise your hand if you remember the great and terrifying Sussman appliance apocalypse in the Spring of 2013. It was one sad week which saw the demise of our washer, dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher. We replaced them all in one trip to Home Depot. A few days later we had to replace the garbage disposal because the dishwasher installer broke the old one but I digress.

The stove became the Grand Dame of the household appliances. I whispered about the others when I was near her and told her every single day how pretty she was and how dearly I loved her. In hindsight perhaps I killed her with kindness.

Three weeks ago she just up and quit as I was to embark on an all day cooking extravaganza for our first dinner party in months. Well, poop on you OLD stove, who needs ya? My daughter and I prepared an amazing feast (if I do say so myself, which I just did) using only the toaster oven, the grill, the microwave and two crockpots.

The dishwasher at some point in time had decided that she would only complete a wash if we ran the 2 hour 47 minute “super” cycle. I made the unilateral executive decision to just run the super cycle and if the minions forgot and she stalled with an error code I would throw in another detergent pod, top off her “Jet Dry” (the crack cocaine of the dishwasher world) and tell her how pretty she was then reset her to run again.

Being the professional level procrastinator that I am I haven’t called for service. I. Am. The. Worst. Wife. EVER.

This morning I noticed a small puddle of something that looked like poodle diarrhea (YES, I actually am an expert in identifying that particular substance) next to the fridge in the kitchen so I wiped it up and, as is my duty – NO, MY DIVINE RIGHT – as poodle queen, I sniffed it.


It was purple-brownish and had a decidedly fruity aroma.

I opened the freezer and immediately had PTSD from the appliance apocalypse. Everything was melted.


The ice bin held a tiny ocean with a few floaty cubes, the frozen waffles and bag of frozen wontons were soft, the ice cream was goo. All the frozen veggies were dripping, soft bags. The Popsicles had melted and, along with my homemade frozen Sangria, were the cause of the goo on the floor.

The fridge seemed cold, though and so I deemed it ok and I made a mental note to call for service, LATER, and took the opportunity to deep clean, throwing everything in the freezer away, except 3 lbs of chicken breasts which I flung in the crockpot for soup, which BTW… amazeballs.

With the freezer clean I went about my errands for the day. Included in my errands: over $300 worth of easily microwaveable pre-prepared refrigerated meals (duh, no ovey no cooky) and some refrigerator only staples, grass-fed butter, organic half and half, artichoke/jalepeno dip, cheese and an anti-pasto tray that I bought to try so we could see if it was good enough for big entertaining scheduled in 2 weeks.

Daughter and I put it all away and I took a post Costco nap. The smell of my “let’s make the best of a bad sitch soup” filling the house.

Husband arrived home around 9:30 and we discussed my appliance woes. He ever so gently suggested that tomorrow I call for service. I nodded… Yes, honey. Then we discovered, TO OUR HORROR, that not only was the room temperature freezer not cool, the refrigerator wasn’t either. In fact, it was warm. All that Costco food… Over six hours… Above 50 degrees…

You may be physically ill now. I was.

We threw out so much stuff I wanted to cry. Condiments, eggs, hard boiled eggs, all my pickle friends, cheeses, olives, yummy leftovers, the pre-prepared Costco dinners which were supposed to buy me another week until I had to call for service. I stood at the sink grinding up the contents of So. Many. Jars. Husband gathered the stuff we thought would be ok and moved it to the garage fridge. The only happy thought was that in the time it took me to clean out all those jars, the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, relocated to the garage fridge was FINALLY cold: 34 degrees- Hello brain freeze, good night moon.

So tomorrow I call for service. I promise: refrigerator, stove and what the heck, dishwasher, too.

I know, first world problems. That’s all I got.

Ninety nine problems and a fridge ain’t one. Oh, wait… Yes, it is.

Late Night Frog Lessons

September 6, 2014

I go to Eucharistic Adoration every Saturday morning from 1 – 2 AM.  I do not do this because I am holy.  I do this because I am most definitely NOT holy.  Holiness or the lack thereof has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  I’m merely explaining the setting for my story.

For the last several weeks I have encountered nature on the way to my car after adoration.  I’m just going to put this out there:  Nature?  I am not a fan.  On two occasions a tiny snake slithered across the sidewalk in front of me.  Several times I have encountered a tiny frog frantically hopping across the sidewalk.  Tiny frog chased by tiny snake?  Quite possible.  I don’t know, maybe it was a toad.  Whatever it is, it is always super fast and ALWAYS scares the snot out of me.

Last week I quite loudly asked it “What the heck? What are you doing?  It’s 2 o’clock in the morning!”

I thought about it on my suddenly brisk hobble up a very long hill to my car and decided that the little guy was just being completely obedient to God. That frog is just “doing him” and nothing more.  He didn’t set an alarm for 1:58 so he could jump out and scare that one lady on her way to her car and give her a mini heart attack.  He probably didn’t even notice me.  He was just being a frog, in fact the very best frog he could be.  Animals have it easier than we do because animals have no free will. (Although my poodle, whom my kids call the worst dog ever, sometimes makes me wonder.  Alas, that is another post for another time.)  Animals do exactly what God created them to do. They obey Him perfectly.

This week as I was walking from my car to the chapel I was completely lost in thought.  I had a super crap week, which culminated in a super-duper crap Friday and I was intent on spending my whole hour complaining about it. I was making my list of things to cry over and planning how I would unload all of it as soon as the adorers before me closed the door.

I did not see the frog.

That is, I did not see the frog until I opened the door and he leapt, arms flailing, into the adoration chapel  like they were giving free flies to the first 50 customers.

It gets better and by adoration frog“better” I mean more embarrassing. The husband and wife who adore immediately before my shift were sitting on a pew, quietly praying when I shrieked “OH! FROG!”

In unison they turned to me and said “What?”


It jumped into their view and the man was up and after it instantly. It crossed that chapel and disappeared in under two seconds.  The man was crawling around under a pew, I handed him my phone to use as a flashlight to no avail.  The man looked under everything but no frog.  The couple chuckled then left.

My perfect plan to moan, wail and gnash my teeth was ruined.  I looked at Jesus and said “OK, this week?  This week broke my heart but you already know that, don’t you?  You were there.  I don’t have to tell you.  You know.  You know how confused and sad and worried I am about all of my loved ones and what seems like really, really unfair suffering. You know about my anxious, sleepless nights because I talk to you during them. I didn’t want to even come here tonight, except to tell you off but now I have a frog to worry about, too, so I’m not going to unload.

<Audible Sigh>  Sometimes it feels like I have to do everything around here.

Yes, that little frog had interrupted my regularly scheduled broadcast.

I was back to my frog spirituality thoughts from last week:  free will, obedience and fallen human nature.  After a few minutes the frog came barreling, out of nowhere, right at me, moving so fast that it looked as though he was waving his arms, about to hug me, shouting “Amy! Yay! There you are!  I thought you were lost!”

I just knew I had to take care of him.  Armed with a kleenex and last week’s church bulletin, I tried to gently persuade him to go outside. I chased him for another 10 minutes until he disappeared again.


Light bulb over my head much?

Here is what I learned from spending one hour with the Blessed Sacrament.  And, um, a frog.

Just because I think I know what to do does not mean the frog has the same plan.  He has to be who he is and I have to accept that.  I can’t make him jump out the door, even though I believe that is what will be best.  I could have kept chasing and forced him outside but then I’m not doing what I was put in that chapel to do, which is to pray for all my loved ones for an hour.  If I spent my time making him do things my way then not only is he not “doing him” but I am also not “doing me.”  I must pray. My loved ones need prayer.

Accepting that the frog is a frog and just letting him be him most likely means that he will die a premature death.  I have to accept that, too.  What better place for him to die?  I know that if I was going to die I would want to be near Jesus.  We should all want to be close to God when our time comes.  I think it is safe to say that most frogs do not get to die in the physical presence of Christ.

Accepting is a really hard thing to master.  I’m not there.  If I can get there, to that accepting place, I think I will be happier and much less anxious.  I will be closer to God and hopefully closer to those I love.  I think that accepting is a higher form of love.  It is unconditional love.  It is “love the sinner, hate the sin” kind of love.  It is almost a form of blindness, blindness to perceivable faults of others.

I want that love.  Don’t we all want that love?  To get it we have to give it.

Fear, anger, judgment, jealousy… all of it… it has to go.  Where in my heart will I store all this love if those things are in there?  I want to love, accept and just “be” with those who need me, just let them be them, sit beside them and love them.  Serve them, when the opportunity arises but always and only from love, never from “Hey, you know what I think you should do?”

I’ve said it eleventy billion times and I will say it at least once more, Miss Swan:  Love wins.

I did leave a note for future adorers, telling them that the frog is in the chapel somewhere.

Thanks for the inspiration, little frog.  I wish I could have saved you.  I guess I had to save me.


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