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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Lady of Sorrows

Have you ever meditated in prayer the roll the Virgin Mary played in being the mother of Christ?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014,while pondering "Our Lady of Sorrows" and ending my day, I read the following from the Magnificat and the following stood out and touched my   
"The picture of Mary bowed down with sorrow on Calvary teaches us that on earth pain is the twin sister of love."
Pain is the twin sister of love, can we relate?
How many times in our own lives have we been deeply hurt by someone and the pain turns to hate, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness? How many times in our life, have we stopped loving, because the hurt is so painful, we let the "drama" rob us of the true meaning of love?
What if you were arrested, beaten, scourged, spit on, crowned with thorns and mocked about being a king? Then you were forced to a hill, carrying a cross and they nailed you on it? Could you still love them?
"Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34
The Prophecy of Simeon
…34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-- 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
Can you imagine the sword that pierced Mary's heart that day, her Son was crucified? If anyone had a right to hate the world and her role in which she was called by God, she did.
We know and have heard many, many times "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son."
But, what about Mary and the role she played in God's plan for salvation? He chose her and called her and she said "yes." Luke 1:38 "I am the Lord's servant,"
"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. So Mary said, " Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.
My question... What can we learn from Mary? and Who is God calling you to love, through the trials of pain...
Pondering the role in which God called Mary and knowing God calls us all? Our love is so shallow and it's so hard to love when we are hurt, and yes, pain is the twin sister of love and if we can't get pass the pain, we will never understand what unconditional "love" really means? God's love is truly unconditional, we did not earn it, we did not deserve it. You will find no scripture in the Bible why God loves you. He has no reason or criteria to love us. If we ignore Him in our lives or crucify Him on a cross, He still loves us.
What about Mary? If you crucified her only Son, would she still love this world?
"All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren" (Acts 1:14). In these simple words the author of Acts records the presence of Christ's mother in the upper room during the days of preparation for Pentecost. Could you of been there, had they crucified your Son?
I'm beginning to understand through the eyes of Mary, how little I know about love, how to love and be loved. She's pointing me to her Son. Pain is the twin sister of love. But, the world tells us to run from pain, to medicate pain, to get even, to have the last word, to be right...to be self righteous... Our world tells us we need to find ourselves, love ourselves and grow in self. Did Jesus? Did Mary? Had they protected self where would we be today? Unconditional love is a hard lesson to learn and I'm a "mother too" and I'm learning from the eyes of Mary that she loved from the cradle to the cross.
Ponder this...
But in her anguish, where could Mary turn her gaze as she stood beneath the cross? Upon Jesus? Ah, it was precisely the sight of her divine Son that caused her the most intense suffering….
Her one consolation at the sufferings of her Son was the knowledge that through his death we would be redeemed. Mary offered her Son willingly for our salvation; yes, the sacrifice she made in union with him was so great that Saint Alphonsus says of it, “Two hung upon one cross.”… closing thoughts, just maybe a mother can understand this and a dad.. Being a parent, God has taught me so much about unconditional love, and our love is not to stop with our children.. He calls us to love everyone and that's when we are truly challenged. It's so easy to love those who fit in our box. Stepping out of our box, will challenge us with God's help to truly understand Agape Love... It's so hard to step out of our secure box, so many battle scars.... but God can't teach us what love really is, unless, we embrace the pain and take it to the Cross.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whatever Happened to John Lewis Grogan 1870- 1909?

This is a first time to post family genealogy on my blog, but it is an important topic of mine. I know history has been lost by other family members, that I have never met. Due to the death of my great-grandfather John Lewis Grogan, January 10, 1909 in Abilene, Texas, my grandfather Dexter Lewis Grogan, only being 2 months old at the time, never got to share in the Grogan Texas Timber legacy, which his father was apart of in it's humble beginnings. You will find much information in cyberspace about the Grogan family who traveled from Georgia to Texas around 1897 to start a mill and were very successful in their endeavors. You will also find that my great-grandfather is listed in the Grogan genealogy tree as one of several sons of; Richard Wilbourn and Nancy Lewis Grogan. This is all you could find on Ancestry.com,  until I added pictures and facts related to my great grandfather, which I gathered from our family history and new facts I have discovered. 

Searching on Ancestry.com, I felt like a detective and many times started questioning the direction I was going, but in the end I know I am right and sad to say, John Lewis Grogan was a forgotten soul.

About a year ago, I was disturbed by the "NO" history and "NO" facts that were "not" floating out in cyberspace, about my father's grandfather, my great-grandfather; John Lewis Grogan. I guess it would have not mattered, had he not been apart of the "humble beginnings" of a "lumber and mill legacy" in Texas. Sad to say, he was all by "himself" on Ancestry.com with no wife or children to claim and history could have thought he was a single man that died a young death. The only history and documents found about him, was the fact in which he was the son of Richard Wilbourn Grogan and Thersia Nancy Emaline Lewis; parents who traveled from the state of Georgia with a flock of kids, some grown and married, and started a mill in Cass County, Texas in 1890. The legacy of this family continued to grow through out the history of Texas and today the company is still a working and profitable business.

My grandfather, Dexter Lewis Grogan went to his grave, feeling left out and disconnected from his father's family and never getting the opportunity to share in this legacy. You will never find any write up about him, being the grandson of Richard Wilbourn Grogan and Thersia Nancy Emaline Lewis or the son of John Lewis Grogan, the Grogan family who came from Georgia that started the "Grogan legacy" of Texas Mills and Lumber.
It was also very difficult to find information about John Lewis Grogan's first wife who died in 1906 leaving him to raise three children. I found their marriage certificate, and they married in 1893 in Cass County, Texas and I found her grave marker, with this information; 
 "Birth: Oct. 26, 1873
, Death: Feb. 14, 1906
, Inscription:
Wife of John L. Grogan, Burial:
Sweetwater Cemetery 
Nolan County
, Texas, USA
 Plot: 28."

John Lewis Grogan and Mollie Jenkins had three children; Clarence Grogan, Mildred Grogan Van Braden and Denson Shumpart (Jack) Grogan. I could not find any records about what happened to Mollie, or how she died (death certificate). I could not find any records about where she was born or where she came from. Strangely, I could not find any information about the birth of her children with John Lewis Grogan, only dates on which they were born, in census records taken through the years, as they lived with their grandparents, grandmother and aunts and uncles. One census even recorded they were the children of Henry N. and Ida May Grogan in 1910. This 1910 census also listed their grandparents Richard Wilbourn Grogan and Thersia Nancy Emaline Lewis and Richard was listed as "head" of the household. This census was taken in Abilene, Texas 1910, the same year Richard Wilbourn Grogan died and also one year before, "1910" Richard Wilbourn Grogan and Thersia Nancy Emaline Lewis son John Lewis died in Abilene, Texas in 1909. Searching the census records through the years before the children of John and Molly were adults. I found; Jack, Mildred and Clarence listed living mainly with their grandmother Nancy Lewis Grogan. Funny thing, the information about the children did not add up with the previous census records. Sometimes they were listed as being born in Texas and sometimes Louisiana. Their dates of birth varied on the records and the place where their mother Molly was born changed with the years. She was listed as being born in Tennessee,  Georgia and Mississippi.   

From stories told by my grandfather Dexter Lewis Grogan, his father and grandfather, relocated to Abilene, Texas to start up a mill. But, in my research, and I am speculating with facts, John Lewis Grogan could have relocated before the marriage took place with my great-grandfather (John Lewis Grogan) and great-grandmother (Kate Rives). Why? Because John Lewis Grogan's 1st wife Molly Jenkins is buried west of Abilene in Sweetwater, Texas. 

Texas was growing and folks needed lumber. The Grogan's were working hard and they were ambitious in their endeavors to supply lumber to as many parts of Texas as they could, some traveling to Magnolia, Texas. My guess is the start-up of the mill in Cass County had been profitable and they set their sights and dreams to other regions of this; vast, young state, called; "Texas." Sad to say, after the death of John Lewis Grogan and his father Richard Wilbourn, all company operations, from what I can tell, ended in Abilene, Texas.

My great-grandma Kate Rives Grogan left Abilene, Texas after the death of her husband John Lewis Grogan and moved back to Vivian, LA with her parents; Edward V. Rives and M. Ellen Rives.

John L. Grogan and Kate Rives were married in October 29, 1907 in Cass County, Texas, 1 year and 9 months after Molly Jenkin's death (Feb.14, 1906.) Dexter Lewis Grogan was born in November 13, 1908 and his father died January 10, 1909. Dexter was shy of being 2 months old when his father died. Boy, this must of been some hard years for the Grogan family. Business was going well, but personal family life was having it ups and downs. 

Dexter shared many stories with family concerning the facts; his half-siblings Clarence, Mildred, and Jack would come and stay with him and his mother, during the summer in Vivian, LA and they would connect many times through-out their lives. My Aunt Kate Grogan Kennedy who lived in Pinehurst,Texas for many years, has shared many stories through the years about; Jack and Clarence picking her father Dexter up in a limousine. This was during the late 60's and early 70's, and they would pick Dexter up at her house and they would go out on the town for the evening into Houston.

According to my grandfather Dexter Lewis Grogan, John Lewis Grogan's brothers went to his mother Kate Rives Grogan and bought her out of the family business after his fathers death. What amount? We will never know, it's lost family history. But, this is not about the wealth and the riches in which he never got to be a part of, this story is about a family who never recognized a son born to John Lewis Grogan. It's about history that never got told about Mollie Jenkins and John Lewis Grogan and their children and their marriage, and John Lewis Grogan being apart of a Texas legacy and start-up of a mill in Cass County, Texas.

The following family keepsakes found among Dexter's belongings after his death are pictures with his half siblings and their visits. We also found a letter his father John Lewis Grogan had written to his mother, Kate Rives dated; August 28, 1907. Now remember Molly Jenkins died Feb. 14, 1906, which tells us a year and 6 mos. had passed, since John Lewis Grogan was widowed. Kate Rives married John Lewis Grogan, October 29, 1907, just 2 months after he wrote her this love letter. Their son Dexter Lewis Grogan, my great-grandfather was born November 13, 1908. John Lewis Grogan and Kate Rives had been married a little over a year when Dexter was born. Sad to say, Kate Rives Grogan, was married, had a baby and lost her husband and was widowed within 15 months.

Notice in the upper left corner of the stationary it lists John L. Grogan as the President of Grogan Manufacturing Company.

This letter is on a business stationary of the “Grogan Manufacturing Company.” It claims the company was incorporated in 1902, and the two addresses on the stationary are; Bivins, Texas and Atlanta, Texas. Phone No. 43-3 RINGS, Manufacturers of Yellow Pine Lumber, We Make a specialty of pine grades.

J.L. Grogan, President
T.M. Cochran, Vice President
W.R. Grogan, Treasurer
Geo L. Grogan, Secretary
R. W. Grogan, Manager

It reads as followed;

Bivin, Texas 08/28/07
Miss Kate,
My Dearest--- I have been thinking of you so often and wanting to see you so bad, thought would write you a few lines this morning, but I had so much rather see you and hear your kind voice but guess I cant to day.  (His punctuation and knowing how to end a sentence is interesting).
The letter continues and is very hard to decipher. It is a love letter in which John is expressing missing Miss Kate very much and cannot wait until they meet again. They also had a phone conversation the day before and Miss Kate told John; “she was very lonely without him.”

This letter is proof that the history of “Grogan Manufacturing Company” has ignored or maybe innocently lost information about its "humble beginnings" and how it was originally formed, concerning its officers in charge of the company.

 Picture of John Lewis Grogan and Kate Rives, Texas City, Texas before they married

    John Lewis and Kate Rives Grogan home in Abilene, Texas

     John Lewis and Kate Rives Grogan home in Abilene, Texas

      John Lewis and Kate Rives Grogan home in Abilene, Texas
                                                              Dexter Lewis Grogan 
                               Dexter Lewis Grogan at home in Vivian, LA.
                     Dexter Lewis Grogan at home in Vivian, LA.

 Dexter Lewis Grogan
                                Dexter Lewis Grogan

                 Dexter Lewis Grogan and Jack Grogan 1917
 Dexter and Mildred Grogan, Aug 14, 1923, taken in Vivian, LA after they all returned from Clarence Grogan's wedding
  Mildred Grogan, and Clarence and Jack's wives; Aug 14, 1923, taken in Vivian, LA after they all returned from Clarence Grogan's wedding.

   Dexter Grogan, Mildred Grogan and Jack Grogan; Aug 14, 1923, taken in Vivian, LA after they all returned from Clarence Grogan's wedding.

  Jack Grogan, Dexter Grogan and Clarence Grogan Aug 14, 1923, taken in Vivian, LA after they all returned from Clarence Grogan's wedding.

Dexter Grogan, Jack's wife and Jack Grogan, Aug. 14, 1923, taken in Vivian, LA after they all returned from Clarence Grogan's wedding.

Two other items I found to validate this story on Ancestory.com was the the census of 1910 in Abilene, Texas.
Richard Wilbourn Grogan: head
Thersia Nancy Emaline Lewis: wife
Henry N. Grogan: son
May I. Grogan: daughter-inlaw
Clarence Grogan: grandson
Mildred Grogan: granddaughter
Denrow Grogan: grandson, my question..who is Denrow? Born in 1903.. Now remember these documents are all hand written and the writing hard to decipher.

Then I found the death certificate of Denson Shumpart Grogan
Born 1903, died 1982, parents: John L. Grogan and Molly Jenkins. From what I understand, this birth date matches Jack Grogan's birth date found on several census records. I also found a census record with the name "Denrow Grogan" once, and that was the 1910; Abilene, Texas census. This was the census I discussed earlier. This must have been Jack's given name, and he went by Jack. I might be wrong, but the name Denrow dropped out of site and the children were always listed as Jack, Clarence and Mildred on all other census records. 

John Lewis Grogan is no longer a bachelor in cyberspace and hope my grandfather Dexter, would be proud I connected him to the Texas Grogan Lumber Empire.

Interesting reads I found concerning the Grogan family:

JOHN KENNETH GROGAN, "KEN" 85, passed away peacefully May 31, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. He was born September 6, 1924 in Conroe, Texas. He was predeceased
by his mother, Eunice Arthur Grogan, father, Clarence E. Grogan, and sister Jeanette Grogan Bowden. Past generations of the Grogan family were Texas pioneers in the timber industry; and history dates back to the America Revolution. Ken grew up in Houston, graduated from Lamar High School in 1942, and attended Univ. of Texas. He was in the lumber and steel business until he moved to Florida in 1981 where he owned Cable Construction.He is survived by his loving wife, Bette Grogan, of 43 years. He is survived by his brother Gene Grogan and wife Jane Grogan of Boerne, Texas. Also, survived by twin daughters, Melissa Grogan McCaffrey, and Melinda Grogan Grant, step-children Kathy Burnett and Ron Rowell, cousins Jacqueline Grogan and David Grogan of Houston.Memorial services held June 4, 2010 at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Orlando, Florida. Any contributions to VITAS Charity Fund Hospice Care.org.Ken lived life to the fullest-Rest in peace-God Bless. This was my grandfather's half-brothers son and his nephew.

 Cass County records reveal that R. W. Grogan, W. R. Grogan, and T. M. Cochran had a sawmill just across the state line in Miller County, Arkansas, in 1897. The company lumber yard was one mile into Texas on the tracks of the Kansas City Pittsburg & Co Railway Company. A company tram connected the sawmill to the lumber yard. The obituary for George L. Grogan, in The Gulf Coast Lumberman, noted that his father, R. W. Grogan established the Grogan Lumber County in Cass County in 1890 and the Grogan Manufacturing Company in 1902. The first mill was in Arkansas. A timber deed note of 1902 stated that the Grogan mill in Cass County would be erected and running that year. The Cass County operation was known by the two above names as well as “the Grogan's Sawmill” on the March 1910 edition of the United States Geological Survey map. A company tramway connected the mill with the Texas & Pacific tracks at Bivins. The sawmill was then situated about mile and a half northwest of Bivins. Grogan Manufacturing appeared in the January 1905 and 1907 editions of the Reference Book of the Lumbermen's Credit Association as a manufacturer of lumber. An article of The Gulf Coast Lumberman, in 1954, reported that the timber supporting the Grogan Manufacturing Company sawmill at Bivins had been cut out by 1908. In June 1908, the Grogans leased the old Bivins Lumber Company place on Mornen survey for loading and tramming and leased (later bought) J. W. Liles property, near Bivins, to build another sawmill. The same article notes that Grogan Manufacturing Company built a larger plant near Linden, in Cass County, in 1908. The Linden plant would continue for many years.

My dad, John Herman Grogan, father was Dexter Lewis Grogan. Dexter Lewis Grogan was born in 1908 in Abilene, Texas. His parents were John Lewis Grogan and Kate Rives, married October 29, 1907. John Lewis Grogan died Jan. 10, 1909 in Abilene, Texas.

John Lewis Grogan parents were Richard William Grogan and Nancy E. Lewis Grogan. They married August 3, 1866 in Milton, GA.

According to stories concerning,
“THE GROGAN-COCHRAN MILLS" told to Ann Meadows Menefee by Lois Cochran Meadows & Bill Cochran, Sr."In 1886, Richard W. Grogan, his wife Nancy, their family & son-in-law Terrell McKinney Cochran, came to Queen City, Texas from Alpharetta, Georgia. Laura, the oldest child, had married Terrell McKinney ("Mack") Cochran. Richard & Nancy's sons were John Lewis Grogan, W.R. Grogan, J.G. Grogan. The daughters were Laura, the oldest, Mary Grogan, and Fannie Grogan.In 1902, Richard Grogan, his sons & son-in-law Terrell organized the Grogan Manufacturing Company in Bivins, Texas. In 1910 Richard W. Grogan died. The Grogan-Cochran family wanted to expand the operations & secure additional "natural resourses". Terrell McKinney Cochran & his two sons, Virgil & Alfred Cochran came south & reported back to the other family members that Liberty & Montg. Co., Texas "were rich in natural resources".The Grogan Manufacturing Company then built a new sawmill in Gladstill, 3 miles south of Cleveland, Texas. This sawmill operated for several years! Along with the original name, a new company, the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company, based in Tamina, Texas, was formed in 1917. With this new company, a large amount of fine timber land was purchased. A new mill was built on the site which is now known as "The Woodlands". This mill cut out it's last timber in 1927 and was located adjacent to the now-existing "Lamar Elementary School". Over the years, these mills were established & operated by the "Grogan-Cochran" families in Bivins,Texas, Gladstell Texas, Grand Lake Texas, Magnolia Texas, & Tamina, Texas. The area around Tamina, Texas was sold by the Grogan & Cochran families to George Mitchell, in 1964. This area became popularly known as "The Woodlands". Nearly 50,000 acres were sold! This area of sell included land in nearby Waller, Montg, Grimes, & Liberty Counties.The original officers of the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company were as follows:George Grogan: President, J. G. Grogan, Sr.: Vice President Henry Grogan: SecretaryTerrell McKinney Cochran: Alternate Officer Alfred Cochran, D.D.S.: Alternate Officer Virgil C. Cochran, Sr.: Alternate Officer John Cochran Alternate Officer During the 1920's, Terrell McKinney (Mack) Cochran, with his sons, owned & operated their own sawmill at Grand Lake Switch, Texas, just 3 miles south of Conroe.When George Mitchell purchased the above-mentioned land in the 1960's the principal stockholders of the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company, located in Conroe, Texas, were as follows:Mrs. Evelyn G. AndersonMrs. Bebe C. BengeMrs. Lucille CochranG. R. Grisham, Jr. J. G. Paul Grogan William David Grogan Hattie Bell C. Hooper Juanita G. La Four Fannie Pearl C. Surratt.”

To conclude and finish up this posting on my blog ...

John Lewis Grogan and Kate Rives had one son together "Dexter Lewis Grogan." Dexter’s middle name "Lewis" was taken from John Lewis Grogan’s, mother’s maiden name, she was Nancy Lewis. Dexter’s first born child was named after himself and his second born son was named after his father "John" (John Herman Grogan, my dad) Dexter Lewis Jr. continued the name to his first and only son. And Dexter Lewis Grogan, second son continued the name "John" to his first born child and added the Lewis name.. "John Lewis Grogan" so, we've got another John Lewis, he also named his first born son "John." Sad, to say generations now have ceased the tradition.

Great Grandma Kate Rives Grogan Murray Spell holding her first great-grandson named after her first husband; John Lewis Grogan.
Standing beside her is Dexter Lewis Grogan's wife and proud first time grandmother Edith Grogan, 1954

Dexter Lewis Grogan holding his first grandchild, named after his father John Lewis Grogan.
Can you imagine how special this day was for Grandma Kate? Her first love and husband she lost at such a young age, is now holding a new generation that will carry on the John Lewis Grogan name. 1954

Friday, January 31, 2014

Traveling with a Novice

 Ten years ago I would have never dreamed where God was taking me, my husband and daughter.

A son’s a son till he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life.

Unless she becomes a Nun?

It has been 2 years and 6 months since our daughter decided to follow her heart to Jonesboro, AR., at Holy Angel Convent to discern the life of a Nun. It seems like she has been at Holy Angels longer, guess the week-end visits and a few weeks here and there, before she actually left permanently, makes it seem longer. Strange as this seems to our world today, we embraced her journey. Even stranger was the fact that Jeanine and I had only been Catholic for two years and her dad was still studying the faith with a fine-tooth comb. 

This Christmas 2013 we had our daughter home for two weeks during the holidays. We traveled to Ft. Worth to visit family and then boarded a plane to visit our son and his family in Tampa.

As we traveled by car and by plane, the reality of it all seemed to hit us more than it had in the past. You see, we knew after she returned to the Convent she and the Sisters would be discerning a major BIG step, concerning the process which one must go through before becoming a Nun, with the help of our Lord guiding all their steps.  

Becoming a Nun is not a quick decision and becoming a Nun and the discernment process is not a single decision of the one discerning. It is a process of prayer, learning the life of a monastic, and the reality that the “Community” you desire to enter are praying and discerning for the discerner too. Each step is bathed in prayer and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, if this is truly a calling from above. It becomes a decision of “all” in the Community and the Community of Sisters in the end will make the final decision, if you stay or go.

Each step was a process of discernment for Jeanine and the Sisters at Holy Angels.

The week-end visits, the weeks Jeanine took off to visit before she entered were times of discernment for Jeanine and the Sisters. Each time she went, they always invited her back. When Jeanine made the decision to enter, it was not only her decision, but the Community.

Jeanine entered as a Postulant and began the journey of following her heart. She was a Postulant for one year and we had continued contact with her. She got to come home for 2 weeks after the year was over. We had a wonderful visit with her and she informed us that when she returned, she would be discerning if she wanted to continue and enter into her time as a Novice. She was excited and her heart wanted to continue, but she had to wait and see if her desires were the same as the Sisters. They all needed to be in “One” accord in the discerning process, and they were. Jeanine started her Novice year. A Novice spends their time studying, praying and helping with the daily routine of a monastic, living in a Community of many Sisters.

Her time entering into the Novice year would require her to stay off the computer, Facebook, emailing and limited contact with her parents. A true challenge in today’s world for anyone and it did not seem to faze her at all. She took this time serious and used this time to focus on following her heart.

Nobody will ever understand, except a mother, to see a daughter wrestle with this vocation in which a woman is following her heart to answer the call in the life of a religious.

Her first visit at Holy Angels she left with tears flowing; already missing being there. Her tears then turned to doubt, “I can’t do this, what about my Nana who is aging and Grandma? I can’t leave them now!” I reassured her that she could not build her future around her grandmothers’ health and circumstances. She needed not put anyone in the equation, only herself and the direction she felt a tug.

She would visit several times before she made her final decision and her last visit to the Convent, many steps and a few months would pass before she actually knew if she was accepted. She would be so excited with the thought of following her heart, and then the next day I would see her in her room crying. “What’s wrong?” her reply; “I will miss so many things, like make-up and my jewelry and my clothes and I’m just realizing all these little things that have been a part of me.” As a mom, I wanted to say, “Okay, then let’s stop right here and go no further.” But, for reasons I still don’t understand today, I would always remind her to take one day at a time, don’t look at the whole picture, if this is of God, He will show you. You can’t let your emotions of “STUFF” determine something that could be a “BIG” blessing in your life.

It was an up and down emotional roller coaster for her until she got the final word she had been accepted as a Postulant. She was so excited and was so ready to go. After all the tears and wrestling with so many things, she was happy to be following her heart. We packed her up and dropped her off. Only time would tell if this was her vocation.

We visited her many times during her Postulant year and stayed in contact through email, letters and the phone. She seemed to be settling into the lifestyle and embracing it with a “joy” and a “purpose”, in which we as parents had never witnessed in her before.  Though when we did visit her that first year, as we left, the flood of tears would be hard on us all. Time has made it better, but when you love someone, there will always be tears during departures. I think our tears have changed in time, and they are different. We can’t really explain it. Maybe I will one day.

Her Novice year was one of surprises and the reality that seasons change in life. Two months before she became a Novice, and while she was on her two weeks off and with us on vacation in Florida, my mom, her Nana, had a stroke. It was a serious stroke and she got to say her “goodbyes” to her Nana before she left to become a Novice. My mom seemed to have recognized her, as they would share their last embrace. God works in mysterious ways.

December 2013 Jeanine is off for two weeks and she is coming to the end of the road as a Novice. She will return in January and go into a silent retreat for a week and pray, discern and see if she is ready to say “yes” to this way of life. The way I’ve looked at the process in which she has been discerning is much like a couple; dates, gets engaged and then marries.  Rushing into a relationship, sometimes folks find out they made a bad mistake. Jeanine and I’ve discussed it at length, and when she left for Holy Angels over two years ago, she was dating the idea and knew she would be dating the “process” as a Postulant and a Novice. Two years would allow her the ability to understand what this life would be like and if she wanted to walk away, she could. If she wanted to stay, it all came down to her and also the entire Community of Sisters. They would all be seeking her vocation together. Very much like a couple who invites “God” into their relationship for answers. God will guide them if it is meant to be.

The next step after dating would be the idea of engagement and I’ve known a few who did not make it to the altar. Some did not make it to be engaged.

Our time over Christmas was rush, rush, rush. She wanted to go see her Grandma in Texas, her brother and family in Florida and spend a few days at our place before she returned. I admired how well she handled being in her “habit” in the presence of family who still don’t quite understand it. Remember, we come from a long line of Protestants. It was interesting in the airports and the restaurants and many public places to be accompanied by a Nun in a habit. Funny, folks with tattoos all over their bodies, nose rings and pants hanging at their butt crack, never got a second look. But, a Nun in a habit; my, my, folks do wonder what it is all about. If they only knew…

When we finally made it to our place, I got sick and did not feel like getting out. Though we did do a few things and got to see some of her friends, she got to attend Mass and see folks at her Parish. It was nice having her home and we discussed her next step. A mom is a mom until her last breath. She was most definitely ready and hoped the Sisters felt as she did, to continue. The next step; temporary vows (the engagement) and becoming a JR. Sister. I personally know someone who wanted to be a “Religious” and the Order, in time, felt this was not this person’s calling. It devastated this individual, but in time, they knew the Order was right and God had a special plan for them in marriage and kids. We discussed it at length, what if? What if the Sisters in seeking answers, feel this is not your vocation Jeanine? To my surprise, she was very aware of this, and shared she would be disappointed, but would accept it as God’s plan for her life. Yes, she would be upset, but knew it could happen. All in all, she seemed at peace, and she was no longer the young women that left two years ago, who was on a roller coaster of emotions concerning her make-up and jewelry. She was at peace; being in God’s will.  Something we seem to have a hard time with.

I drove her back to Holy Angels, a five hour drive, and asked her if she would like to stop in Little Rock or Jonesboro before we returned and do some last minuet shopping. Because I had been sick, we had only been able to go to the Mall and shop one day. She was looking for a coat and everything was picked over after Christmas. We were ahead of schedule getting her back and I felt sure we could find her a coat in a larger market than our area. She loves to shop. When I ask her if she wanted to stop and shop for a coat, she says “ No….. I am ready to get home.” It was the “first time” I ever heard her calling a place “Home” that was not connected to me and her dad. It felt strange and was bitter sweet to my ears.

January 20th would be the day the Sisters would make their decision if our Jeanine would continue. To be honest, I had mixed emotions and in some ways had selfish motives, maybe they would not. As a mother, I’ve learned many things after she left to follow her heart. Guess my mother’s death brought this reality center stage. There is nothing like a mother and daughter relationship and all they share in life. Many women, including me and my mom, might have had growing pains through the years. But, the joy in which “maturity” finally brought our relationship as adults was priceless. We could always be ourselves around each other, no mask and no acting. Jeanine and I have always gotten along, though we have had our moments too. For some reasons, I’ve never pictured her with her own children, guess God had been preparing me. That is something I’ve come to realize and never really thought about it until after my mother’s death. Selfish reasons; knowing some moments will never take place, that only a daughter and mother share. Like the old Irish proverb says: A son’s a son till he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life.

 Though we will have many, many memories as the years go by, it’s different; just being honest with myself and whoever reads this. These thoughts were a part of the processing of the reality of it all. But, in my heart I hoped the Sisters would accept her, because I see my daughter blooming and growing and loving following her heart.

The good news is she has been accepted and will take her temporary vows March 21st.  She called to tell us her news and we shared a special moment together, as she rattled off the plans for her special day. She said; “guess what? I take my temporary vows on the anniversary that my Nana went home to eternal rest!” It was as if my mother had planned the day and I know she will be there in spirit looking down from heaven, taking it all in. She then goes on to tell me that; “St. Benedict went to eternal rest the same day.” Makes me wonder if St. Benedict greeted my mother the day she arrived and said; “So, I see your granddaughter is going to be a Benedictine Sister?” After Jeanine takes her temporary vows she will no longer be called Novice Jeanine. We will now have to call her “Sister Marie Jeanine.” The engagement process will begin and we still have a few more years before the wedding (final vows). Keep her in your prayers, you never know, she, or the Sisters, might get cold feet. God Bless!


The following links will take you to earlier writings, as we have journeyed in sharing our story about our daughter discerning the life of a religious, a Nun.

Monday, October 7, 2013

We Are On Our Way To Cross the Tiber

We are off and on our way for a pilgrimage this coming Friday, October 11th 2013 in which we hope to make wonderful memories, meet new friends and broaden our knowledge of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ in walking the “Footprints of St Paul.” We will also be visiting Rome, Assisi and other places as we track across Italy and visit historical Christian landmarks that will take us back in history and we will witness it up close and personal.

We want to think our dear friends Bee and Helen for staying and watching over our place while gone. Hope you enjoy the pool and the weather is nice for some chicken-coop time. Thanks for being such good friends and text us if you need us..

This trip is a first for us in many ways. We as a married couple, who have been together for 38 years, have never taken a vacation by ourselves, since our honeymoon. Sure we’ve gotten away for a few days together here and there, but a planned vacation…never. This is also our first Pilgrimage overseas. Our vacation days since we have been married have always been planned around family that lives miles away. To be totally honest we have also had a few nice vacations, other than visiting family, with our kids as they grew up, always taking my mother with us. But, this is the first vacation since our honeymoon, in which we have planned for the two of us. We won’t know how to act. We would not trade all those memories we made over the years, in which we shared our vacation time to stay connected with family. A family budget and vacation days only went so far and staying connected was a must. Also, family was a treat to visit and have a free place to stay. Loved it when we had family in Maine….wish they would move back. (Hint, hint, hint) Maybe this is one of the benefits of getting old…. We answer to nobody…and it’s finally about us. LOL

This is a first for me to travel overseas to Europe. Jim has been there many times on business (Sweden, Germany, France and Denmark) and usually found some time to be a part-time tourist after working hours. This is a “first” for both of us to travel to the places we are going. We are so excited to be visiting these places. Our tour guide Stephen Ray and his wife Janet just emailed us a letter with information on what to expect, to take and “to do list” to make sure we do not forget anything…like our Passports. He also said; “Just wait until you walk along the streets of ancient Ephesus in the footprints of St. Paul, and see the Island of Patmos where St. John received his apocalyptic vision of Revelation written in exile.  I can't wait to lead you through the city of Athens to the top of Mars Hill where Paul preached.” We can’t wait either Steve!

  I was never very interested in history growing up and it was our move to Pennsylvania that finally got my attention to fall in love with history.  I guess I am more of a visual learner and might have been a better student in my youth had I seen it, rather than having to read about a person or place I could not see or touch.  We lived 30 min. from Gettysburg, 2 hours from Washington, D.C., and 4 hours from NY City and the Statue of Liberty and the list goes on. The northeast boast several hundred years of history, while the area of the south I grew up in only had a 100 plus years of history. Many of my great-grandparents were part of the pioneer families of my region of the world in which I grew up. Sad to say they arrived during or soon after the government pushed the original settlers west… the American Indians.  Just think the areas we are traveling to on our “first” vacation together boast several thousand years of history. Pennsylvania also surprised us and challenged us to explorer Church History. It was such a time as this, that God used a doctrine we had never heard of to open the door and discover Church history. Up to that point in our lives we really did not think about the history of the Christian faith.  All we knew was Jesus was born 2,000 years ago and the stories in the Holy Bible told us about His life. Attending a Calvinist (Presbyterian PCA) church in PA opened our eyes to the history. The teaching of “predestination” is very much a “foundational truth” in that denomination. Predestination really challenged us and as much as we tried to make sense of it… we could not. They showed us a few Scripture passages on which they built this doctrine; we could see that the doctrine did not add up with the totality of the entire Bible. This Predestination doctrine was so different to anything we had ever been taught and in time it opened up Church history to us. We are so thankful we were challenged, because it made us start learning about the 2,000 years of Christianity, good and bad. We had heard about the Reformation, but really did not know what it was about. We didn’t even know the Reformation took place 500 years ago and that was when Christianity started splitting into thousands of denominations. We didn’t know we were part of Christianity called Protestantism… which meant we were a part of a group that protested against 1500 years of Church History, called the Catholic Church. It all started with Martin Luther and a year after he got the ball rolling he wrote this:

  “I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St, Peter and St. Paul, forty-six Popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome Hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united.” Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519 more than a year after the Ninety-Five Theses quoted in The Facts about Luther, 356
This is also why the trip is so special for us and why we are excited. We will be seeing things we have been reading about since we started learning about the history of the Church. We are also excited about the tour we chose. Stephen Ray and his wife Janet are converts to the Catholic faith just like us. Their journey to the Catholic Church was very similar to ours and it was history that pushed them to surrender to the Catholic Church. They were devout Evangelicals with a strong Baptist upbringing and very anti-Catholic. If you want to read their conversion story click on the following link: http://www.catholic-convert.com/about/why-im-catholic/   .  

 Since their conversion they have personally traveled the “Footprints of God” all over the world. After learning and falling in love with these holy sites, they started taking pilgrims from all over the world to experience the history of salvation and the footprints in which God and his people have traveled since Adam and Eve. In the last few months they have been to the Holy Lands and just finished taking a group to the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Lourdes in France. After they get finished with our pilgrimage they are off to the Holy Lands again. They have been to the Holy Lands 100+ times. If you read Steve’s daily blog on his website you wonder where he gets all his energy. He posts daily on his website and Facebook, pictures and YouTube videos of where they are and what they are doing. You can see all these places he takes these pilgrims from all over the world without leaving your home and you feel as if you are with them. This brings me to our pilgrimage …… you can follow us every day by looking at his website at http://www.catholic-convert.com/ or you can go “like” his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CatholicConvert and wait for it to show up daily on your Facebook page. We also plan to be posting it on our Facebook page too…. But we’ve learned internet service can cost a bunch over there. We have been informed that sometimes you can hook up on Wi-Fi free…. So we really don’t know how much we will be able to find free Wi-Fi. I’m hoping the hotels and some cafes will offer it free. If you do not see us posting…it means we can’t find any free Wi-Fi. If you really want to follow us on this journey, and see what we are seeing and doing, the best way is to click on Steve’s Facebook or website. His website is amazing and has so much information on it... I challenge you to read his apologetics. He really knows his stuff… Also, Jim’s testimony coming home to the Catholic Church is posted on Stephen Ray’s website “The Defenders of the Catholic Faith.” Click here to read it: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2013/06/26/jims-story-born-presbyterian-then-to-parties-drugs-protestantism-and-finally-to-the-church/

Stephen also shares a link to my testimony of coming into the Catholic Faith on Jim’s link. He called me "Jill"…lol  It’s a typo….

Our dear friends Diane and Dudley who we met a few years ago are also on Stephen’s website as well.  Click here: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2012/04/08/dudley-and-diane-brossettes-conversion-from-searching-many-churches-to-catholic/

For reason I do not understand, when clicking on the Brossette’s story on Stephen’s website the link is broken…. So if that happens to you when you click on it, their story was also published in the Arkansas Catholic and you can read it here: http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/1232
I keep telling Diane she needs to write a book. Her journey as a Christian has taken her down many roads. She grew up Mennonite and eventually end up in the "Faith" movement. Diane was a youth minister in a big mega church in AZ many moons ago. I thank my Lord everyday for putting such a special friend in my path. It is truly a miracle we both crossed the Tiber around the same time. We did not meet each other until after the "deep crossing" in which we both swam, HOME. 

Keep us in your prayers that we all have a safe trip and we are excited!!!!!

God Bless

P.S. Today is the Feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary.” A FB friend of ours posted this today on his blog. It is a very good and well written article to read today, as we remember and ponder; “Our Lady of the Rosary.”