Showing posts from 2010

My Favorite Things....

Oprah Winfrey does a show every year where she introduces all of her favorite things (gifts and gadgets) that she loves.  The purpose of the show is to sell the products or items that she has been given throughout the year.  If she likes your product it is included on the show.  At the end of the show she usually announces that everyone in the audience will receive all of the products that were highlighted on that show.  It is met with an overwhelming applause and great appreciation. I also have a list of my favorite things to give this Christmas time and I would like to share that list with you today.  So here it goes, Joyce's Top 10 Presents to Give this Christmas: 10.  A surprise gift!  It can be anything, but don't tell them you are getting them a gift, just go out and buy them something they might have always wanted without expecting anything in return. 9.  A gas card and a grocery store gift card.  Buy one of each and put them into a Christmas card and then into

Saints and Veterans - What do they have in common?

Happy Veteran's Day!!  I especially want to wish my brother John a great day.  John served in the Vietnam War in the late 60's, early 70's.  I was merely 5 years old when he returned (thank God) to us, and a good thing he did!  He has been such an asset to this country, not just in his service, but as a citizen as well.  John is my oldest brother, someone I have always looked up to and has never let me down.  Thank you God for my brother John!  In honor of my brother I thought I would share this story with you.  It is a story of courage AND faith. Last Thanksgiving my nephew had come home for a holiday visit and was all excited to tell us about his new girlfriend (by the way, they are now engaged).  As we were sitting around the rather large dining room table surrounded by cozy decor and music, my nephew mentioned to me that even though he still considers himself Catholic he doesn't really "believe in all the Catholic stuff."  "Like what," I asked? 

National Do-over Day!

Remember when you were a little kid playing Hide-n-seek or some other great childhood game, and when you lost you would scream out, "DO OVER!"  Well how come we can't do that anymore?  Is there some rule written some where in the "How To Be a Proper Adult" manual that says we can NEVER have a "do over?" I declare today to be National Do-over Day!  What about regrets?  Most of us will never really know what we regret until we are on our death bed, then we'll say, "I really wish I had been nicer to so-and-so", or, "If I had only done this, or not done that..."  For Catholics, we believe that making a good confession is a practical way to start over.  In my own personal experience I have found confession to be a wonderful cleansing and healing process for the things I should have done better.  But not everything I regret was sinful.  Some things were just bad choices.  For the most part, I regret dumb things like some of the peop

Imperfect Perfection

This weekend we celebrated my eldest son's 16th birthday with a big clambake at our house.  We had about 45 people over for the event including about 15 teenage girls and boys.  One thing I noticed was how comfortable people must feel when they come to our house.  My one girlfriend brought her teenage daughter and she bought 2 of her friends.  My other girlfriend brought her teenage daughter and she brought her boyfriend.  My sister brought her husband and another couple I didn't know was coming.  In the end, it made me feel good that people felt comfortable enough to bring others to my house without worrying that I would be upset. We had PLENTY of food of course as any good Italian home would.  In fact, we ended up sending more food home with others then we did consuming that night.  It was great to see so much of my family and so many of my friends all together.  It was a great time.  One thing that didn't go so well was the timing of the clams.  The guy who helped us s

People of Honor

The title itself implies something old fashioned, don't you think?  Honor?  Isn't that a word generally associated with people on the front lines in armed services?  Yes, but isn't that is really too bad?  Why can't regular people be considered people of Honor?  What does it take for someone to have honor? Even though I like to read and write, the material I generally choose to read is something most of you would never pick up.  I have never been able to read fiction books because I could never wrap my head around the twists and turns of a mystery novel, or empathize with any of the characters in a romance novel.  I think it is just the way I am wired.  I can't watch chick-flicks or love stories, or sci-fi either.  I guess you could say that I am a realist, a black and white kinda gal.  That's why I have never admired fictional characters or heroes on screen.  My heroes are real, they are those people I can relate to and try to emulate. Who are my heroes?  M

Get Inspired

Several months ago I lost my job working for one of the largest Catholic churches in Cleveland.  It was an unfortunate circumstance.  The parish is one of the largest but it was also one of the most remedial as far as technology and advanced communications.  I worked there for 2 years and in that time I did a lot to bring them into the 21st century but at the end of the day, I was an expense and cost too much money.  The unfortunate thing was I really didn't need the money.  I would have worked for 30% less but they never asked.  I think that was very short-sighted on their part. Anyway, after I left I had the opportunity to interview at other Catholic parishes for similar jobs, and other Catholic non-profit organizations who were searching for qualified development directors.  In almost all of the  jobs that I interviewed for I was by far one of the best candidates, but in the end something just didn't seem to "fit."  In one case, I was told that the most important

Entitlement, an American Work Ethic

I really felt this topic was deserving a blog, especially since we are in the month that celebrates "Labor Day."  I also feel that our work ethic is not talked about enough, sort of taken for granted.  Now I can't speak for all of you out there, I can only speak for myself and my own experiences, but have you noticed something different about our culture? My father worked at US Steel Wire Spring for as long as I have been alive (44 years).  He died 10 years ago but before he died he worked for the same company for over 40 years.  The plant he worked in I'm sure was dusty, dirty, noisy, etc.  I don't really know first hand because my dad never let the girls come to where he worked, including my mother, but the boys in my family used to go.  My brothers started their work careers sweeping the floors in my father's plant.  Eventually they moved up to a few other menial tasks and then they eventually went on to work somewhere else.  That experience for my brothe

Peace in Truth - Foot of the Cross (encore)

I'm sure every Christian understands the commandment "love thy neighbor" and all that that entails, but the question is, how?  The Bible tells us that it is easy to love those who are good to us, aka our friends, but if we love only those who love us, what merit is there in that for us?  Jesus had good friends, they were his closest followers.  He traveled from town to town giving people a new way to live. Many people loved to listen to him preach and they loved his message even more.  It is safe to say that he enjoyed great popularity (by our standards) for some time.  His 12 closest friends loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to give up their lives to follow him!  I wonder how many of our friends would do the same for you, or you for them?  But at the end of the day, when Jesus was persecuted and betrayed and ultimately lifted high on the cross, who was there for him?  For all his great popularity, the Bible recognizes only 3 faithful women and one courageou

America, Home of the "Slave"

 I realize that this article might ruffle a few feathers, and I sure hope it does.  A few weeks ago, as a tribute to the 4th of July, I wrote an article on the true meaning of freedom.  Since then I have to admit that I have seen some things in my own life that have made me question our choice of freedom in this country.  I am not too terribly old but I have lived long enough to see some changes in this country that have seriously altered my opinion of "freedom." Just yesterday I was shopping with my sister at a local department store in Cleveland.  She was adamant about getting some new makeup product at one the many counters.  So, just to be social, I decided to approach one the counter sales clerks about a makeup product I have been using for years but just haven't been able to find.  Since I don't like to wear heavy foundation on my face (I prefer a more natural look-this might be TMI) I choose to use a tinted moisturizer.   In the summer I like to have a natura

A Stranger of Hope

Do you know what people really want?  A job? Less bills? More money? Happy lives?'s HOPE (you like my little rhyme?)  Why don't we talk about this hope more?  Why do we take it for granted, like it is an abstract word or something? Why hope you ask?  A few days ago I was feeling pretty down.  What happened was, I have been home with my kids this whole summer, and what a beautiful time to be home in Cleveland!  I was loving it.  Then, my son started football practice and suddenly it dawned on me that summer was coming to an end.  That meant that I had to kick it in gear and REALLY start looking for a job.  On top of that, I received an email from the Unemployment Bureau that Congress has been in a filibuster over extending unemployment benefits.  Which meant that in just 4 weeks my unemployment was going to run out and there might not be an extension available (which I was sort of counting on - my bad).  Well, that changed everything!  The rush was on now.  How coul

Freedom is a Choice, not a right

Here in Cleveland we have been blessed to have some absolutely fabulous weather this summer.  It's that kind of summer that reminds me of when I was a kid.  We used to hang out on the front porches of our neighbor's house and everyone would have either their car radios on or we would gather in someone's basement and listen to one of the many bands that formed from the hundreds of talented kids on our street.  Ahhhh, the good old days, right?  Wrong.  Now that I have two teenage boys those memories are beginning to haunt me. I just happen to have two VERY handsome boys (they must get their looks from their dad....not).  Anyhow, my younger son Johnny has been very adventurous this summer, riding his bike all over the neighborhood, visiting every girls house on his way to nowhere.  To be honest, I'm not really happy with the fact that he has all this new found freedom.  It's really funny though because when I was his age (and don't tell him this) I would do the s

Fighting for Your Life!

I am 44 years old.  I am looking back on my life thus far and I have to tell's pretty amazing.  I am amazed that I survived being the youngest in a family of 8.  There were so many kids in such a little house, not to mention the lack of food, clothing, and punishments we had to endure, oh my God.  All of us children not only survived, we all became productive citizens and descent people.  And the homework that had to be done, my mother only had a 6th grade education, my father went a little bit further but then he joined the Army, got his apprentice degree, and even a real estate license. My dad worked for 40 years in a sweat shop only to  have his pension stolen just a few years before his retirement.  My mom worked cutting hair in our basement and later worked in the cafeteria at the public high school we attended so that she and my dad could have health benefits when they retired.  It was an incredible work ethic to behold. I had a bunch of friends in our neighborho

A Friend in Need is a Friend in Deed!

I had lunch with a really good friend of mine.  She is one of those people you can call while on your way to someplace and say, "hey, can you meet me at such and such, I want to get a cup of coffee?"  And she will be there!  I have another good friend, the best really, he does EVERYTHING for me and my family.  He is very handy and super generous.  He has remodeled our bathroom, painted like 5 rooms, built our deck, yada yada.  Basically, he works for food.  He will come over on his day off during the week just to get away and "relax" with the Colovas', which I could never understand how those two words can cross paths, relax and Colovas'. My family has become so comfortable with our friend that the other day it was really funny, my son came down stairs and said, "when is Fr. John coming over, my bike is broken and I can't go anywhere?"  So I called him and invited him over for some delicious barbecue ribs and corn on the cob.  I called my hus

Never Look Back - A Graduation Story

This is a time for graduations.  Young men and women are graduating this week from grade school, high school and college.  During this time there is a lot to reflect upon.  For graduates, it is a time for them to look back on their school career and relish the memories made, ideas learned, and friendships cherished.  But I have some unique advice.  My advice is to never look back!  While those things are important, they are not the most important.  Most of the memories you made while in school you will probably not be too proud of later, and the things you learned are only stepping stone for more learning, and the friendships you cherish now will most like fade away over time and give way to new friendships. The most important thing for kids to remember is that they are on a journey, one that will never end.  When I was in school, particularly grade school, I really struggled.  In fact, my worst subject was English!  Can you believe it.  I think I almost flunked English for 9 straigh

Jesus Take the Wheel!

My eldest son Nick just started driving.  At first I was petrified to be in the car with him since he was so inexperienced, but after a few times out I realized that Nick is really a very good driver.  One day as I was taking him out for a lesson I noticed that I had stopped concentrating on how he was driving.  It was as though I had been with an experienced driver for a moment. That experience made me take note of who is really in control over my life?  Who is in my driver's seat?  So many times we want to grab the wheel and step on the break of life, but God has it all under control....or does He?  I was sitting here thinking about all the things I would be doing differently if I were God.  First, I would give all the power, grace, and pleasure to those people who make a conscious decision to do what is good, and decent, and loving.  Then I would make all the people who are self-centered, mean, or jealous suffer!  Next, I would only open doors of opportunity to those people wh

Is it wrong to question one's faith?

   I have two teenage boys.  They are at that age where I hope they start thinking about their faith.  When I was their age I used to really question my faith.  I remember thinking that God did not really exist, that He was just a made up fairy tale that my parents told me about in order to try and control me (I was pretty wild).   I had a girlfriend, she is still my girlfriend actually, whose mother was very Catholic.  They were Philippine and they had 8 kids in their family just like we did.  I used to go over to her house and have these long battles with her mother, who no matter how worked up I got, used to always respond confidently and calmly to me.  I look back on those days and I am ever so grateful for the time she took with me to help me understand God and my faith a little better.    Recently, when my husband and my eldest son were not home, my 14 year old son decided to take me on....spiritually I mean.  It was like a flashback of old times.  He came at me with his idea

A Time for Positive Changes in the Catholic Church

OK, I know a lot of people are going to cringe at what I am about to say but here it's time for positive and peaceful changes in our Catholic Church!  There it is.  Over the past several weeks we have been hearing gospel stories which involve Mary Magdalene.  Here is what we know about Mary in a brief synopsis.  First, she was a follower of Christ, she was one of only 3 people who stood at the foot of the cross during Jesus' crucifixion, she was the first person to arrive at the tomb on Easter Sunday, she was the first person whom Jesus appeared to after the resurrection, and she was commissioned to "go and tell" her brothers what she has seen after her encounter with the risen Christ.   We can not over look her importance in the life of the church.  She was the first person chosen to bare witness to the resurrection and the first evangelist.  WOW.  It's amazing since you must also consider the position women held (or didn't hold) in society over

To Rise

He is risen!  Happy Easter Everyone, may you experience the joy and hope of a brand new day!  One of the best things about Easter is the time in which we celebrate it; at the beginning of Spring.  It is the perfect time to rise above the darkness of a long a dreary winter; it is the perfect time to reflect on where we are going, both as Christians and as humans.  Like spring, Easter is a time for new beginnings!   For my readers who are not in Cleveland, you will be happy to know that we have been blessed this past week with some absolutely beautiful weather.  The temps have been in the 70's and 80's and Easter Sunday, although they are calling for a little rain shower, should be another glorious day.  But Easter is more than just a season, it is a challenge and a special calling for each of us.  What are we being called to do?  Rise!  How can a mortal body rise, you ask?  Simple, we rise above.   Have you ever heard or used the phrase "take the higher road?"  This

Foot of the Cross - Part II

With Holy Week fast approaching, I thought I would give my readers something to think about. I am actually stealing some of my own material which I wrote several months ago but felt it was even more appropriate for our upcoming Holy Week.  I have taken my original article and enhanced it for this special edition.   I'm sure every Christian understands the commandment "love thy neighbor" and all that that entails, but the question is, how?  The Bible tells us that it is easy to love those who are good to us, aka our friends, but if we love only those who love us, what merit is there in that for us?  Jesus had good friends, they were his closest followers.  He traveled from town to town giving people a new way to live. Many people loved to listen to him preach and they loved his message even more.  It is safe to say that he enjoyed great popularity (by our standards) for some time.  His 12 closest friends loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to give up their l

An Absolutely Incredible Story!

Immaculee's Journey of Faith Last week our St. Rita 8th grade students were invited to attend a talk at nearby St. Barnabas Church.  Since I have an eighth grader at St. Rita I decided to be one of the chaperones.  The talk was given by the beautiful woman from Rwanda pictured in the front row in the above picture.  Her name is Immaculee.  Her story was so moving that you could hear a pin drop in the church when she spoke. She spoke about her horrible experience of having to hide for her life during the Rwandan genocide.  She told the kids a story about how she was forced to have to live in a tiny bathroom with 7 other people in order to try and stay alive.  But her story really began when she enthusiastically described in detail what happened when they (the enemy) finally came to search the house where she was hiding.  I of course can not do her story justice, but I hope to highlight for you the miracle she encountered. Immaculee described the day they were raided.  She said t

From Darkness to Light

Well, here in Cleveland we have been practically buried in snow and darkness for the past 4 months.  Every now and then we are blessed with a glimpse of sunlight shining through our dirty winter windows.  Along with shadowy days comes cloudy emotions.  For many of us who live in the northeast or anywhere snow covered, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This week, for 3 days in a row now, we have been blessed with bright sunshine!  It really lifted my spirits and put a spring back in my step.  It has motivated me to look forward to my workouts and even inspired me to take a long hike in the park.  That was a great day!  I feel reenergized, rejuvenated, and reinspired.  Easter is still a month away but I am looking forward to having my family here for Easter dinner.  My husband is Greek Orthodox and almost ever year they celebrate Easter on a different Sunday than Traditional/American Easter, but this year it happens to fall on the same Sunday so I am happy to hav

Giving Up is Hard to Do

Lent.  In general, Lent is supposed to be a time for reflection, penance, and self-denial.  I asked my kids today, "so what are you giving up this year?"  My one son told me he is giving up Lent, "that way I'm killing two birds with one stone," he says.  One time a friend of mine asked me, "what are you giving up for Lent this year?"  I said, "potato chips."  He said, "way to stretch yourself."  I had given up potato chips for Lent every year for the past 15 years.  This year I thought about trying something different, "stretching" myself a little bit more.  I decided to give up trying to be all things to all people.  Instead of looking others in the eye and trying to please them, I am going to try and look Jesus in the eyes and please him.  Do you think that  is going to be easy?  Heck no!  You try and see if you come up short. For as long as I can remember I have been trying to make others happy (unsuccessfully I might