Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The College Decision Part II

Before delving into the first option, I'd like to state our views on immersing our daughter in debt. Unfortunately we are not in a position to help her with her college education - something which I am sure many of you are familiar with. Therefore, the ultimate choice of college really lies in finding the means of paying for it.

The most common method seems to be the student loan. We (my husband and I) are against loading our daughter up with debt upon graduation for a variety of reasons:

1. Been in debt, done that - not a great way to live. Besides, if she finds her future spouse and they get married and they both have huge loans, that's not a great way to start a marriage, either.
2. Given the current state of the economy and the fact that it doesn't look as if it is going to rebound even in the next couple of years, the stress on everyone of graduating and not being able to find a job and knowing that you have huge loans to pay doesn't seem like the right way to go.
3. Quite frankly, call me paranoid, but we don't particularly want her beholden to the government at this time in history.

That having been said, we're really dependent on scholarships and grants - which may be an option because of our income to number of dependents ratio. With that in mind, we've begun looking into some private four year colleges that are out of state.

The pros to this option seem to lie more in the "experiences gained from living away from home" category. That's why I went away to school, so I can understand that completely. Also, there are some very good Catholic colleges in this country, none (in our opinion) of which are in our state - thus making it a necessity to go away! Ms 17 yo has her eye on two of these colleges so far and they both look like they would provide an awesome experience - both educationally and socially.

The cons of this option, of course, are mostly financial. Unless she were able to get some fabulous scholarships, they are probably out of the question. We'll see how the ACT comes back and then go from there. The only other cons we came up with were how far away they actually were and the fact that we would, of course, all miss her terribly :)

Closely related to this option is the option of a four year college close to home. This would knock off a chunk of money because she could live at home and commute. Again, depending on her test scores, scholarships might cover most of the tuition, thus making this a more affordable option.

On the con side, the colleges we have to choose from that are within commuting distance from our home are either not Catholic or Catholic-in-name-only. This isn't a huge problem as she's been raised very solidly in her faith and we think she could hold her own. However, I've heard some horror stories recently of what is being taught in some of these schools and the garbage that one has to sift through in order to actually learn something of value.

In summary, it seems as if the four year school option, either away or commuting, is dependent on mainly on how it comes out financially. As one family member put it recently, "You go where the money is".

Next time we'll explore the dreaded Junior College sentence, I mean option :)




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The College Decision

In my last post I talked about decisions and the fact that we have some big ones we have to make in the near future. One of the issues we are currently dealing with is the dreaded COLLEGE DECISION. I'm sure you might not all agree with me, but I'm sticking by my use of the word "dreaded".

There are SO many things to consider while looking at this issue. I thought it might help me, as well as maybe someone else out there, to lay out each of the options that we are considering (and I'm sure we don't have every angle covered, believe me) and the pros and cons of each of them.

In this post I'll lay out for you what we see as our Ms 17 yo's options. If you have something constructive to add to our discernment process, I'd love to hear it. If you are going to anonymously blast me for something I've written here, then please consider if it will truly add to the discussion or not. Thanks!

I realize that this is a somewhat volatile, and sometimes defensive, issue. For instance, when my daughter made mention that she wasn't going to college (because she hates talking about this with people), I was told that it was a shame, that they'd really like to see her do something with her life. We'll get to that one later! I've also heard people say the name of the nearest junior college as if going there was the same as being condemned to a life sentence in prison.

With that in mind, I'm going to lay it all out here - our thoughts, considerations and opinions - on these five options:

1. Going away to a four year private college.
2. Staying at home and commuting to a private four year college
3. Staying at home and going to the nearest junior college
4. Taking a year off for volunteer work and discernment time
5. Going straight into the working world

I'm not sure yet if these will all be individual posts or not, we'll see where the Spirit leads me. Again, please feel free to join in with your thoughts - I'd love to hear from people who have been here already. Maybe there is something we haven't thought of yet; like the fact that for some families, this might be a no-brainer. For us and our individual set of circumstances, however, it isn't!

Hopefully you'll join me as I explore this topic and sort things out in the coming days (and hopefully not weeks!).


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making Decisions

We have some pretty big decisions to make around here in the coming months; the kind that might even fall under the category of Life Changing Events. In the past on this blog it has been pointed out to me, mainly by anonymous people, that I tend to make things far more complicated than they need to be. In certain respects I might tend to agree with that. This might be one of those times.

What a frustrating thing it is to have to make a big decision. We pray for God's guidance, we pray for His Wisdom, we pray for a sign, we pray that we will only do His Will and we get...NOTHING.

Many would tell me that sometimes it really doesn't matter to God which of the options you pick; that He will bless either one. Other times, though, I think it is prudent to take the time to make sure He is not really hitting you over the head with His Will and you just don't want to see it.

We have had many instances in our lives where what God wanted us to do was to be patient, to give Him time to let HIS plan unfold, and in our impatience, we've rushed ahead and made decisions which have just made things harder than they needed to be.

To counteract that tendency, there have been other times where we have delayed making a decision we were pretty sure about, you know, just to be REALLY sure, and have ended up making things harder than they needed to be.

It really is enough to drive one crazy - which is where we are at with some of these decisions right now. So, in response to my bordering on insanity, God showed me a passage in my "Keep It Simple" book that really brought peace to my soul:

Jesus is furthermore the Friend who counsels, inspires and directs us. In all matters of initiative, in necessary decisions, in the forming of plans, the accepting of responsibilities, in the advice you give, and in the influence you have over those entrusted to you, He will help enlighten, and lead you. He will prompt the word to be spoken, the counsel to be given, the measure to be taken. He will relieve all anxiety and anguish. He will give you peace and tranquility concerning the decisions you have made. (my emphasis)
God is good, isn't He? Even though we feel that He doesn't have much to say right now on certain issues, He is still there helping us to get through it. Maybe in His silence He really is just whispering "Patience", but even if we do jump the gun, it is great to know that He will give us peace and tranquility concerning the decisions we have made!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

8 Days Post Surgery

I have some great ideas for some posts on decision making, but since this came in tonight, I thought I'd update you on Emily's progress. Hopefully I will get back here soon.

Wanted to give everyone the latest update. It has been 8 days since her surgery. She is starting to feel well enough to complain. She is tired of pudding and applesauce. I bought her baby food to eat. She wants to know how babies eat that awful stuff. I put lucky charms and milk in the blender for her to drink. Not quite the same I guess. I have to keep reminding her that she did just have major tongue surgery. She keeps expecting to be better already. On a positive note she still has more drugs than the local pharmacy, so her pain is under control.

Her talking is doing great. I am not surprised at all by that. She was talking right after surgery.

Dr. S called tonight to check up on Emily. He wanted to let us know that he had talked with Dr. P. He said that Dr. P was very optimistic. He felt that she has a greater than 50% chance of being cured. Now that is a huge miracle. We will be seeing Dr. P on Tuesday and I will let you know what he says. Dr. S is planning on doing another PET scan in 9 weeks. He said there is no further plans for Emily other than recovery. She can go back and finish school as soon as she feels well enough.

It was great to hear her oncologist sound so excited. All I could think about was how awesome our God is.

So I want to say thank you again for all the prayers. Please keep them up. We have a little longer to go before we can rest. Also send us any prayer request that you have. Emily still has a lot of suffering to offer up and she wants to offer it for anyone who needs it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Predominant Fault

We had a very good talk Friday morning at our formation group on Finding Your Predominant Fault! Anytime that I've heard a priest talk about this subject, I've always been slightly confused. The way my brain worked with it was that essentially all major faults that we struggle with center from our self-love and so therefore, everyone needs to work on rooting out this bad aspect of self-love.

Sounds like a simple conclusion, but when I tried to figure out how to tackle it, it was like looking at a HUGE hole in the side of a ship and wondering how to plug it up. Needless to say, I would always become discouraged before I really ever got anywhere.

Well,we were having this discussion and I was trying to explain my frustrations with the topic. One of the women suggested that it was like peeling away the layers of an onion - first you might have to peel away, greed, then envy, then gluttony, then laziness...until you get to the center of the onion: self-love.

Another woman gave me this analogy, which really opened things up for me. Envision your soul enclosed in a castle. All around the walls of the castle are weak points that are not guarded by virtues; weak points such as anger, greed, envy, selfishness etc. Of all these weak points, which one is the easiest place for self-love to enter, and thus manifest itself to others? Whatever this weak point is, that is your predominant fault.

I'm not quite sure why, but all of a sudden it was like someone flipped the switch and I could see it all clearly. I could now see that it was a much easier task to tackle allowing my self-love to manifest itself through anger or impatience then trying to tackle the entire beast of self-love in one fell swoop. (Of course, here I'm assuming you know I am talking about the aspect of self-love that brings out the bad in all of us!).

The more I pondered this, the more it made sense what another priest had said once, that the last battle that many of the great saints fought was their self-love. I finally could see that, even after you have fortified all of the weak points in your castle so that self-love is not manifested outwardly in a negative way (meaning other people don't have to deal with it from you!), you still have to deal with it in your thoughts and in your heart. This is a battle which will keep us busy for our entire lives.

The downside to the morning was that we found out it will be a few weeks before we get the talk on how to COMBAT this predominant fault. UGH! It's like getting a disease and finding out that in two weeks I'll get the remedy, but until then, I just have to deal with it. I guess it will give us all a good amount of time to think and pray about our good friend - our predominant fault.

PS, if you're having a hard time recognizing your predominant fault, ask your spouse!



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pathology Report News

One more "guest post" from Emily's mom. Keep on praying! I promise to blog about something else soon! Thank you for being so patient with me.

Hi to All,

We got Emily's pathology report last night from Dr. S. It was squamous cell cancer. The same type she has.

The great news is they got it all.

According to the MRI, it was a 1 1/2 cm ill defined tumor. When they biopsied it, it was only 1 cm and had defined borders.

That is a miraculous change right there.

They checked all the surrounding tissue taken with the cancer and it was cancer free.

So as of now Emily no longer has cancer. Dr. S said it may never come back.

Another miracle is how well she is talking and swallowing. She was talking right after surgery.

The doctors are still concerned because this is such an extremely aggressive tumor. It has a very high reoccurrence rate. (as we have just seen) Dr. S is contacting the top head and neck cancer Doctor at Harvard University to see if he has any ideas.

They feel Chemotherapy probably wont be effective. Radiation is no longer an option. Proton therapy wont help with this cancer either.

We will be seeing Dr. P soon and listen to his opinion.

However like I said, She is cancer free right now and that is a miracle. I believe it will never come back. Jesus made it possible to have all the cancer removed. He was guiding the surgeon's hand.

Emily, John, and myself feel so overwhelmed with love from all the prayers being said. I know many of you never met my daughter. But you prayed with such love. Jesus heard everything.

Last night as I was saying my evening prayers, I picked up a prayer card of St. Padre Pio. He said, "Pray, Hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear our prayers. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with you heart. In fact on certain occasions you should speak to him only with your heart."

Emily's faith has been unshakeable. While she suffers from surgery, she is already offering it up. Believe me, I wish I had even a drop of her faith. I can tell you she has never complained even once about her cross. She has born it courageously. She has never asked why me. She even said "why not me."

Our deepest gratitude for all your continued prayers. You are all prayer warriors for our family and we will never forget it.

It is the prayers of the people united that make us a holy people and it is the total acceptance of Gods divine will that make us his beloved children.

God Bless,
Theresa, John and Emily


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Beauty of Faith

It always makes my heart ache when I think of all the people who cannot, or choose to not, see the beauty that faith brings into our lives. What an incredible gift and blessing it is for our family to participate in this journey with Emily. I am always blown away by the endless goodness of Our Lord! Here is the latest from Emily's mom. Grab your Kleenex, it's a tear-jerker (in a good way!).

What 72 hours and thousands of prayers can do to a 22 year old young woman is amazing. On Friday I sent an update that broke my heart. We were given such grim news by the doctor. Although we didn't understand God's divine plan we accepted his will.

Emily had been praying all night for a miracle. She asked Jesus to send her one if it was in his will. Friday morning we were getting ready to leave for home and my friend stopped by with a 2nd class relic of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti. He is incorrupt, which means his body never decayed after death. She told us he needs one more miracle and he could become a saint. Emily was so excited. Was this an answer to her prayer?

I called my "Family Priest" to come and pray the rosary with us. I love watching my littleones trying to impress Father with their Hail Marys and rendition of "Immaculate Mary". Father annointed Emily with the sacrament for the sick. We then prayed the prayer printed on Pier Giorgio's holy card. What happened next was truly miraclous.

All of you wonderful family and friends were lighting up the sky with prayers. We have been told of prayer groups storming heaven all across the country. People wrote us not to give up hope. We were told "God has the last say". One homeschool group had over 100 people praying the rosary for Emily this weekend. A wonderful man who is studying to be a priest fasted and prayed every hour for Emily (he is suffering from brain cancer) and sat in front of the blessed sacrament all during surgery. Many of you wrote to tell us that you stopped to pray for Emily during her surgery praying especially to Bl. Pier Giorgio.


After 2 hours we were called back to see Dr. P and face the news. He began by telling us he went to a Jesuit college. He said he had devotion to St. Ignatious Loyola. He said he hoped we didn't mind but he prayed before he began surgery. I said we were praying for him to be guided by God during the surgery. He said he cut a 12mm circle around the sore and 12mm deep wedge out of her tongue. I asked him if it were possible, could the cancer be gone for good. He said absoutely. I just started hugging him and everyone in the room started crying. He said the real miracle will be if the pathology comes back non-cancer. We hugged him again and thanked him.

Now what do you think the miracle is. Emily's healing/cure??? Yes partly. The real miracle was the thousands of prayers that were prayed for her. Little children on their knees praying their rosaries. Brothers on bikes talking to Blessed JP2. People wanting to go to confession. Whole church communities praying together. What does all of this mean?? FAITH We had faith in God's will. We believed God would hear us.

Emily got exactly what she asked for. A miracle. We saw true faith. That is our miracle.

We still resign ourselves to Gods Divine Plan for our family. Hopefully Emily will be the miracle that causes Blessed Pier Giorgio to become a saint. I completely believe she is. So does Emily.

But I will never forget all of you. Your love for our daughter. Your perservence in prayer. Your faith.

Thank You for being our Miracle that we were praying and hoping for. I know Heaven was lit up and our Angels were busy. Saints worked overtime and Blessed Mother was busy interceding on our behalf. Jesus just smiled and said your faith has healed you.

Well done My faithful friends and family. Well done.

Love,
Theresa, John, Emily and Family

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's a Miracle!

As much as I am not a fan of Face Book so far, today it has been a blessing. For all of you who have been following Emily's story, here is the entry from around 3:00 p.m.:

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever. I believe we got our miracle. Dr P prayed the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola before he operated. He said surgery went great and he got everything. I asked if she could be cured? He said yes. He said the real miracle will be when the pathology is not cancer. I believe it will not be cancer. Thank you prayer warriors. Thank you Jesus, Blessed Mother, and all the present and future saints.

(I can't even believe that she had an internationally known surgeon WHO PRAYS BEFORE SURGERY!)

This one is from about 8:00 Central time:

Emily is doing fantastic. She can talk. I saw her tongue it looks beautiful. We still can't believe how God looked upon his daughter and granted her request. Please start praying prayers of thanksgiving. We are so blessed by God. Dr P seemed very happy.

Knowing that they don't have access to a computer for a regular email update from the hospital yet, I thought it was such wonderful news that I'd share these little snippets.

Praised Be Jesus Christ, Now and FOREVER!

Emily update

Today at 1:00 p.m. CST is Emily's surgery. The family is asking that we all storm heaven today and ask Jesus, through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, to guide the doctor's hands, to remove her cancer and to make sure that it NEVER returns. Here is a prayer that they have recommended:

O merciful God, who through the perils of the world deigned to preserve by Thy grace Thy servant Pir Giorgio Frassati pure of heart and ardent charity, listen , we ask Thee, to our prayers, and , if it is in thy designs that he be glorified by the Church, show us Thy will, granting us the graces we ask of Thee through his intercession, by merits of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

FYI, Blessed Pier needs ONE MORE MIRACLE for his canonization and we are all praying that Emily will be it.

May God bless you all for your prayers and concern.

I will let you know what happens. No matter what the final outcome, I'm sure the day will be full of God's healing presence.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Emily Update from Yesterday's Dr. Visit

Here is the latest Emily update. Thank you all for being so patient with me, as I feel a strong need to pass this info on. Thank you, too for all of your prayers.

I am sorry for what I am about to write. I wish I could call each of you myself. The news was not good.

Dr. P from Rush will be surgically removing Emily's tumor with a lazer. He will make a small border cut around the lesion and tumor.

Dr. S will begin Chemotherapy to try to slow the cancers progress.

They feel however that it will just return. Our time with our beloved daughter will be cut too short. I am so sad to have to write these words. Our immediate families have been notified and our children will be told today. Emily will be coming home for the weekend to spend time with her siblings. We will be leaving for Rush on Sunday. John (Emily's dad) is here with us and we will be staying by Emily's side at Rush. She will return home on Wednesday.

We still believe that God can pull a miracle. We are hoping for that. However we have always trusted Gods will even if we don't understand it. He comes like a thief in the night. I definitely feel robbed.

Please keep up prayers for a miracle. Pray for healing and peace for all of our family and for yourselves. I know as you read this your hearts will be sorrowful. I am praying for all of you who have been reading my emails from the beginning.

Emily is still in good spirits. We must do our best to keep ours up too. Lets always look to Emily for inspiration.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Emily Update

Because this is such an urgent issue that needs many prayers, I am going to post another Emily update. Here is the email her mom sent this evening (Tuesday). Please pray for Emily and her family. Thank you.

Today was a very hard day. The doctors were saddened by the test result. The MRI confirmed a new cancer. It is already 1 1/2 cm big and growing. It has no clear borders which means it is not contained and spreading. This new cancer is near her bottom jaw bone.

We see the specialist tomorrow. Our Dr. will be speaking to him by phone during the consult. We are hoping surgery will take place early next week if possible. Every day counts with this cancer. Its aggressiveness is unbelievable.

I know everyone wants to know how much tongue will be removed. I really don't know that answer. Certainly we would like to keep as much as possible. However its recurrence rate is obviously not good. Emily may have to lose some of her jaw bone also. Tomorrow we hopefully should have some answers.

After surgery, our Dr. is also consulting with the head of tongue cancer research at Harvard University. We are looking at possible chemotherapy and if it would help at all. As the Dr.put it we want to try everything. Emily is truly fighting for her life.

Please pray that we can have surgery asap. Also that we can save some of her tongue. Emily is still in very good spirits. She is very scared and hoping for the best outcome.

I know everyone that reads this is shocked and saddened. We are too. This is one of those times when I am really at a loss of words. I will email you after the appointment tomorrow. It is at 3:30pm.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Emily Update

It is with sadness that I write that Emily found out yesterday that her cancer is indeed back again, after only a 3 month reprieve. Unfortunately, it is being very aggressive.

She was told back during her chemo/radiation sessions before that she could never have them again.

Her mom said that Emily will go next week for an MRI to determine how deep the cancer is. At that point I guess they will determine if surgery is an option at all. I will keep you updated and I ask that you please pray for this very wonderful and courageous young lady.


Friday, October 2, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 32


1.

I haven't been around Quick Takes for awhile so I thought it might be fun to stop back in this week. Speaking of having fun, when was the last time you and your spouse went out and HAD FUN? I'm not talking about going out to dinner and discussing the kids or finances. I'm not talking about that fun trip to Walmart you had last week. I'm talking about going out, just the two of you, and really enjoying yourselves! My DH and I had that chance last weekend. We went out to a ballroom for a surprise 40th birthday party and did some swing dancing. I even wore heels, something I haven't done in YEARS.

I would highly recommend doing something with your spouse just for fun - You know, the kind of thing that memories are made of ;)

2.

Also on the topic of fun, we've noticed that the local deer population is out having fun. We've seen more deer out in the fields than usual, so we figure that either a.) they are taunting my husband or b.) they are heading back to the cities because bow hunting season started yesterday. He won't see another deer until February, I reckon.

3.

On a more serious note, I've been thinking a lot
(and yes, actually trying to do them multiple times in a day) about Spiritual Communions. Father gave a talk last month at our Evening of Recollection about how important and fruitful they are. Just thought I'd remind y'all about them again.

4.

I'm taking a short break from the "Love" book because the book I ordered by Mark Mallett called "The Final Confrontation" just arrived in the mail. Looks interesting. And, yes, it seems to be a book that is trying to shed some light on the times we are living in. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished.

5.

It can be hard sometimes not to get caught up in all the "doom and gloom" of the times. To that end, I try to remind myself of St. Pio's famous quote:

Pray, hope and don't worry.

If we really trust in Jesus, then this is all we need to do!

6.

I recently joined Facebook. I'm just going to say one thing:

I DON'T GET IT! Am I the only one? (okay, I know that was two things, but I couldn't help myself).

7.

I always marvel at God's timing! I'll fess up, when I was writing this on Wednesday evening I got to this number and didn't know what to write, so I thought I'd save it for Thursday and see what came up. I went over and picked up my "Shorter Christian Prayer" book to read the Wednesday Evening Prayer. One of the first things I read, which goes perfectly along with #s 4 and 5 of today's Quick Takes, was this:

May God, the source of our hope, fill your hearts with peace as you believe in him (Romans 15:13)
Psalm 62
My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation.
God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.

How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down, As though they were a sagging fence or a battered wall?

Even from my place on high they plot to dislodge me. They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.

My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.
God alone is my rock and my salvation, my secure height; I shall not fall.

My safety and glory are with God, my strong rock and refuge.
Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

Mortals are a mere breath, the powerful but an illusion; On a balance they rise; together they are lighter than air.

Do not trust in extortion; in plunder put no empty hope. Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it.

One thing God has said; two things I have heard: Power belongs to God;
so too, Lord, does kindness, And you render to each of us according to our deeds.
Somehow I get the impression that this is the whole reason that I did this Quick Takes!