Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Swimming to the Netherlands

It was the spring of 2003 and Phil wanted to study for a semester at Leiden University in the Netherlands.  He had applied at Towson University where he was studying for the exchange student program, but had been advised that the quota for students to study in the fall semester at Leiden was full.  He was very disappointed.  We prayed and thanked God in the midst of the situation knowing God knew what was best for Phil.

Not long after, Phil was lifeguarding at Bally's on Baltimore National Pike where he had worked for a couple of years.  This day, it was a particularly slow morning with only one man taking laps.  Phil didn't know the man, but when he was finished his laps they began to talk.  Phil told him he would be a junior the coming semester majoring in English. He also told him about applying for Leiden University without success. 

The man was a professor at Johns Hopkins University in charge of international studies who "just happened" to know Nanda, the person in charge of the exchange program at Leiden. The professor gave Phil her name and e-mail address and told him to contact her and let her know that he had given Phil her e-mail address and see if she could give him a space in the English class he was trying to apply for. He also gave Phil his e-mail address so Phil could let him know if he needed any further help.  Coincidence?  I don't think so!

Phil did get in touch with Nanda, and she was able to get him a slot at Leiden University. However, there was another glitch in the summer as to where he was to live.  Phil tried e-mailing Nanda, but to no avail.  He was getting frustrated since filling out another form and getting his passports required information that only she could give.  Since Phil and the JHU professor had e-mailed each other, he e-mailed him and told him of his problem of getting no reply from Nanda. After a couple of days, the prof e-mailed Phil advising him that he was attending a conference in South America along with other heads of international exchange student programs.  Nanda was attending as well, and he would tell her about Phil's situation. 

Nanda did get in touch with Phil, all the forms were filled out, and Phil got to Leiden and loved it.  He met lots of people from all over the world.  Thank you, God, for the professor from Johns Hopkins University and the help he gave to Phil.

Why Jesus Didn't Heal Me Of My Measles In Time For First Communion

It was the month of May a long time ago.  I was so excited.  I was going to make my First Communion with my first grade class the next Sunday. In those days you made your First Communion when you were in the first grade.  My dress had been made by a friend of the family, and I had my veil which I just loved.  I even had new white shoes and socks.

On the Wednesday before the big day I was tired and grouchy. My mom said, "You aren't acting right."  She felt my head and I had a fever and was sent to bed.  The next day I woke up with spots.  I had measles.  

Oh, how I cried.  "I am missing the last rehearsal for the First Communion Mass," I wailed.  I was so upset.  I had to stay in a darkened room and no one but my mother and father could come in to see me. I had a younger brother and a younger sister, but Mom didn't want them to catch measles from me.  That night when Daddy came home from work he came up to sit with me in my room.  I said I was so sad because I had measles but maybe they would be gone by Sunday and I could still make my First Communion with my class.  Daddy said we could pray and ask Jesus to make me better by Sunday.  We did that, and I was sure I was going to be able to go to church on Sunday.

When I awoke on Sunday I looked in my mirror and the spots were gone off my face. I got so excited and called to Mom and Dad who were still sleeping since it was very early in the morning.  Mom came in and she saw that my face had cleared somewhat, but she pulled up my pajama shirt and my back and tummy were peppered with spots.  She told me she was sorry, but I would not be able to make my First Communion this Sunday.  That morning I sat by my bedroom window watching the girls and boys make their way to the church, wondering why Jesus hadn't healed me of my spots.

I did get to make my Communion on June 6th with a few other boys and girls who missed the class communion day.  I remember still being disappointed that day, but I also remember as I went up to receive the Eucharist saying the prayer that Sister Eileen Marie had taught us to say.  It was a simple prayer: "Jesus, come into my heart."

When I became a grown woman and had received Jesus many many times at mass over the years I was thinking about my First Communion during my time of prayer.  I told Jesus that I really thought He was going to heal me after Daddy and I had prayed.  Why wasn't I healed? I wondered.   

A thought came into my head immediately.  The words were, "I wanted you to say the prayer asking me to come into your heart. If you had made your Communion with all the other children you would have been too distracted and would not have prayed the prayer.  I wanted to live in your heart."  Tears of joy came with these words and I could say "Thank you, Lord Jesus, for not healing me then, but loving me so much that you wanted me to ask you to come live in my heart."
Now, when any of my
children or grandchildren are making their First Communion, I urge them to pray the prayer that Sister Eileen Marie taught me: "Jesus, Come Into My Heart."

Monday, January 30, 2012

From Highrise Office to Home Child Care

In 1997, I was working at HTR, a computer school located on the 15th floor of the building at Light and Pratt streets overlooking the Inner Harbor. The view from the windows was spectacular, as evidenced by this photo I took, along with a prayer I always said at breakfast:

I worked from 8:30 AM to 12.30 PM five days a week. The salary was good, and I had a paid parking place in the garage attached to the building. My job was to register the students coming for class and to make coffee, hand out the books for the class, and collect the fees from the students if they had not paid at the time they called to enroll.  I loved my job.

One Sunday in February, I went to Mass as I always did and knelt down to pray before Mass started to prepare myself for the Eucharist. Down the aisle came a woman walking a little Chinese girl about a year old.  She was a cute little one. We had several single women in the parish who had gone to China to adopt little girls, so seeing this one was not something new for me. As I turned my attention back to my prayers I heard inside my head these words, "You will take care of this one." That shook me up. I did not want to do child care. I had been taking care of children for a very long time, what with the ages of my six kids.  I remember saying, "If that's you Lord, You will have to give me a whole lot of peace about that. Right now, I don't have it."  I had known the girl's mom, Kathleen (Kathie) Kelly, from a parish Renew group that I had been in a year before but we were just casual acquaintances, and on that Sunday I hadn't spoken to or seen Kathie for quite some time.

As I drove to work, I would pray for my day at HTR, and often the memory of those words I'd heard that Sunday morning came to mind.  I would just pray for peace. I did tell my Bible Study group and Larry about what I heard, wondering if they would take me to a psychiatrist.  No one suggested that, but one of the women in my group said that Kathie had child care. "Thank God," I thought.

Well, in mid-May, I received a call from the main office of HTR located in Rockville, Maryland.  My boss advised me that they might be closing the Baltimore office. I  was very sad to hear that.  However, she said they might try to keep the office but at another location.  Would I stay on if they found a suitable space in the Security Boulevard section?  Yes!  That area was close to home for me.  For the next couple of weeks she had me meeting with real estate agents and looking at places that could be converted into classrooms.

I was scheduled for my vacation the last two weeks in June. Even though I had found two places I thought suitable for classrooms, the director of the company finally decided that the Baltimore office was to close with the last classes to be held the end of July.  I told my boss that I would stay until the office closed in hopes that the powers that be would change their minds.  I went on vacation, and when I returned to work I was told that several of the companies who had scheduled classes for their employees had cancelled and that the office would close the week after July 4th.  I stayed and helped close up the place, and I was given a
luncheon and some gifts on that last Friday.

The next day I went to Mass.  It was Saturday morning and not too many people were there.  However, Kathie Kelly and her little girl, Theresa Mary, who was at this time about 19 months old, were seated in the front of the church.  I was in the back.  After Mass, as I was ready to leave, I heard Kathie call, "Wait a minute."  I am not sure she remembered my name.  She said, "Would you be interested in taking care of my little girl?  I've just gotten a new job and the caregiver I had lives too far away for this new job.  I've been having difficulty finding someone to care for her and my new job starts this Tuesday." Kathie is a nurse practioner and had been practicing at Jessup Prison, while her new job was at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  I was shocked at the request but at the same time knew that God had arranged all the circumstances, including giving me months notice of what He wanted me to do and having companies cancel classes at HTR so that I could be available to care for Theresa Mary.

Taking care of Theresa Mary (also known affectionately as "Tee," while she called me "Abi") in my home was a real gift from God to me.  I received so much love from her and had such a good time playing with her. Thank you, Jesus, for taking such good care of me and doing what was best for me.

"You Are Being Looked After And Cared For"

My brother-in-law Sam Deramo had gone to be with the Lord on December 1, 1991.  He was only 47.  Lots of people mourned his loss besides his wife, daughters, relatives, and friends.  Sam was an accountant, a real estate agent, a tax consultant, and financial counselor to many people, including Larry and me.

About a year after Sam's death, I was worried about our financial situation, what with tuition for Thom and Phil and other money concerns.  One night I had gone to bed fretting about the money and where it was to come from and was having difficulty getting to sleep.  I thought I was going to have to go in to take a bath, as the warm water often relaxed me enough to go to sleep.  I must have fallen asleep and began to dream that I had gotten into the bathtub and was soaking and relaxing when I saw a very bright light coming from our bedroom.  It was so bright in fact that it made the room look as if the noonday sun was shining in the windows at night.  I got out of the tub and wrapped in a towel to see what was going on. Where was that light coming from?  As I turned to go into the bedroom, Sam came out, but passed me by.  He did not look at me or speak to me. 

I was at first stunned, then as he proceeded down the steps, I began calling to him. "Sam, Sam."  He looked ethereal and still didn't seem to hear me. He went down another step or two, then turned around, looked me in the eye, and said, "You are being looked after and cared for," and then was gone. I began to call him loudly and found myself sitting up in my bed, putting on the light looking for him. Then I knew I had experienced a very vivid dream, the most vivid one I ever had.  At the same time, I knew in the dream I was given a message that God wanted me to hear. "You are being looked after and cared for."

These words I have repeated to myself often, and they bring me peace. Thank you, Lord, for your reassurance at a time that I really needed it. And thank you, Sam, for being the messenger in the dream.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Heron of Hope

I was going back to work full time.  I had been doing some part-time work cleaning and working for an optician, but now I was starting a full-time job with Coca-Cola.  Just a few days into my third week at Coca-Cola, I received a call that Philip may have broken his leg playing soccer in the school yard and was on his way by ambulance to St. Agnes Hospital.  I left work immediately and headed for the hospital.  I thought on the way there that probably in a couple of days, we'd have to keep him from racing around on his crutches.  

Not so!  When Larry and I were shown the x-rays, we saw that Philip had two three-inch breaks, one in the tibia and one in the fibula of the right leg.  Slowly, as we received more information from the doctors, we realized that Philip would have to be in bed or a wheelchair with his leg extended for two months and would need help. We tried to find help that we could afford, but after two weeks, I knew that I would have to stay home.  Unfortunately, the company would only hold my job for two weeks, and I still had no one to care for Phil.  So, I would have to leave my job.
I was glad to stay home with Philip, but I was concerned about how we would get enough money together to pay both boys' tuition now that I couldn't work for the months of October, November, and December.  I was concerned, too, because the unemployment rate was rising and jobs were getting much harder to come by.  Also, the tuition rate for Mount Saint Joseph was very high.

Philip had been in a cast for two weeks, and the next day I had to go to Coca-Cola to clean out my desk and take home my personal things.  It was so final and my money-worry level had risen quite high. Larry was at home when I came back, so I told him I wanted to go to the library for awhile. My local library was my respite spot.  I forgot my troubles for a few hours while I browsed, but as I got into my car, the worry was there again ready to nestle in my head. I drove from the library and stopped to make a right-hand turn onto Edmondson Avenue when I saw what seemed an enormous shadow pass over the car from where I was stopped. Believing my eyes were playing tricks on me, I pulled over and looked into the yard.  There sitting at
the edge of a goldfish pond was a blue heron, and he was about to catch dinner.

I was amazed.  A blue heron in the middle of a busy suburb!  I wondered if the people in whose backyard this bird was fishing was aware of his dining at their pond.  When I arrived home, I told Larry about the bird. He said it had probably come from the state park, about four miles away. Last summer, he had seen a couple of blue heron fishing in the Patapsco River.

Later that evening, my son found another book that needed to be taken back to the library so as not to pay a fine. The next day as Phil napped, I drove to the library.  This time I was just dropping off the book and was in a hurry when a young mom I knew stopped me on the steps. "How is Phil?" she wanted to know.  I explained his injury and then she asked about my job, having heard that I had started back to work.  I shared I had just cleared out my desk the day before and was feeling anxious about tuition money. "Well," she said, "just remember Corrie Ten Boom."  (Corrie was a Christian Dutch woman, who, along with many members of her family, was placed in a German concentration camp for hiding Jews during the invasion of Holland). My friend continued, "When Corrie's days were the darkest in that awful place, God sent a sparrow to land in the prison yard. Corrie saw the sparrow as a sign of God being with her and she took hope." 

I was in such a hurry that I am afraid her words of encouragement failed to penetrate until I stopped at that same stop sign where I had seen the blue heron the day before.  As I sat waiting for the traffic to pass, I laughed at God's humor.  For Corrie, He sent a sparrow. For me, I needed a huge bird not normally seen in the city and someone
to speak words of hope.

Philip's leg did heal, I got a part-time job, and the boys' tuition was paid on time. Thank God for those blessings, including signs of hope.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Consider The Odds

This tale has a few twists and turns, but what a delightful ending.  Or should I say beginning?

Mary had finished high school and was drawn to the young adults group at St. Michael's Church in Overlea.  A young seminarian named Tim Higgins was assigned to their group.  He and Mary became good friends, and sometimes Tim would come to the house for dinner.  He had a great personality and we all enjoyed him.  Mary and some of her friends from the Young Adults group went to Tim's home in Portland, Maine one summer and traveled around the beautiful coast of the state.  

The following Christmas, Rob came home from his two-year tour of Korea.  He had a month's leave with us, and then left for his new assignment at Loring Air Force Base in Maine, not too far from the Canadian border.  We had prayed that God would put Rob at the base God wanted.  Rob wanted an assignment at a base in California. He had been in North Dakota and then Korea, and was hoping for a base in a more mild climate. But, now he was being sent farther north.  God's ways are mysterious.

The following June, Mary received an invitation to Tim Higgins' ordination in Portland, Maine, his home diocese.  In the meantime, Rob had purchased a new car and had a stereo from his old car that he wanted to give to Mary.  He had a long weekend break, but unfortunately, it didn't coincide with Mary's trip for the ordination.  So Rob and Mary decided that on his next long weekend, he would take the car stereo to Tim's house in Portland for Mary to take back to Baltimore after the ordination. 

The trip from Loring to Portland is about an eight-hour drive.  Rob planned to drop the stereo off, see a little of Portland, then spend the night at a motel before heading back to the base.  When he got to Tim's home, Tim's mom insisted that Rob spend the night there, even though Tim and Rob had not met before. That evening, Tim took Rob out to see Portland and they enjoyed each other's company. The next day, Rob headed back to the base.  A week or so later, Mary came up for the ordination, and after the celebration she brought the car stereo back.

Two weeks later, the now Father Tim called to let Mary know his first assignment was to be the Catholic parish in Caribou, Maine, the town next to Loring AFB.  The family in Baltimore was delighted, and we quickly passed the news to Rob, who was also pleased.  After Tim arrived in Caribou, he and Rob would get together for some R&R.  That December, Mary went to Caribou to visit Tim and Rob, staying at the rectory.
In February, Rob told us about having met a girl named Julie from Caribou.  A travel agent, Julie had seen Rob come into her agency on occasion and thought he was very handsome. However, she didn't really meet him until one night at a club across the Canadian border in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, and he asked her to dance. They began dating, and in the summer of that year Rob asked if he could bring Julie home with him when he came on leave.  He wanted us to meet her.  Wow!  This was serious!  Of course, we wanted to meet her! In August, Julie came home with Rob and they were engaged.  We liked her immediately.

Julie shared with us that she had converted to Catholicism the year before because she was engaged to a local young man who was Catholic. But, just at the time Fr. Tim Higgins arrived at the parish, Julie had decided that this man was not right for her and had broken the engagement. It was a traumatic time for her, and to make things even more difficult, the priest who had instructed her in her new faith had been reassigned. He did, however, introduce her to Fr. Tim, who counseled her for a time. So, God prepared Julie and then set the wheels in motion for Fr. Tim to be at that parish at just the right time Rob was there. 
Loring AFB would close for good in 1994.

Fr. Tim officiated at Rob and Julie's wedding in December 1988, and he not only knew the people from Caribou, but most of us that came from Baltimore. It was a lovely wedding ceremony and mass; Fr. Tim made it so personal.  As he said at the wedding, "The chances of all this happening as it did is like a million to one shot. This should make a believer out of you."

In 1991, Fr. Tim would also officiate at Mary and Christopher Gleason's wedding at St. William of York Parish in Baltimore.  Since then, Fr. Tim has left the priesthood, gotten married, and started his own family.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pray For Those Who Steal Your Bike

Thom and Phil asked for bikes as Christmas gifts, so Larry bought two of them second hand.  He painted them and bought new seats and handle grips, so the guys had the bikes they wanted.  They were some form of dirt bikes.  I remember there were no gears and they were small-sized bikes.  At the time, this kind of bike was "in" and the boys were very proud of them.  Of course, when you give gifts of bikes at Christmas, kids can't use them as often as they would like because of the cold and snow.

By the first week in June, the neighborhood pool was open.  The kids were out of school, and Thom's friends were biking there.  He joined them, but didn't bring a bike lock since the bike rack was inside pool property.  Unfortunately, the location was not a deterrent to someone who saw the bike and decided he wanted it. When Thom came up from swimming, he saw that the bike was gone. He called home very upset. 

Larry happened to be home that day and went down in the car to pick Thom up.  Together, they drove up and down the streets of Ten Hills and Westgate looking for the bike.  After quite a while, they returned home without the bike.  Thom was very discouraged, and so was I.  We all sat down and decided to pray.  We asked God to give all of us the grace to forgive whoever stole the bike and help us to let go of it.  We were all still feeling down. 

Larry felt like he and Thom should go look around again.  He prayed before they left, asking God to lead them.  He drove through Ten Hills again, hoping that whoever took the bike may have just discarded it.  Still no bike.  He continued on to Frederick Road and on the ball fields behind Mount St. Joseph.  He and Thom looked around and saw a few kids playing ball, but no bike.    

They were ready to leave when Larry spied something red and shiny glinting in the sun just under a bench at the far end of the field.  He walked over, and there under the bench was Tom's bike.  When Larry confronted the boys playing ball about the bike, they all said "so and so" took it.  The boy named was there, but denied taking the bike.  Larry spoke to him, but did not press charges.  He and Thom were just happy to have the bike back. When they came home with the bike, I was astonished. I realized that God had lead them to the ball fields and had answered our prayer.  

However, something still seemed unfinished in my mind. The next day, I sensed that I was to  pray regularly for this boy and his family. I hope that they have been abundantly blessed.  I also began to wonder if there are people I don't know who pray regularly for me and my family.  Someday, in the next world, I may find out.

Goodbye, Mom

When my mother Dorothy Harp Ringsdorf (pictured here with my father, John Eugene Ringsdorf, Sr.) was in Mercy Hospital with inoperable terminal colon cancer, my sister Phyllis, her husband Sam Deramo, Larry and I wanted to pray with her.  We had prayed for healing, but felt something was missing.  Each time I went to see her, there were people all around.

One morning as I was just waking, the thought occurred to me in a powerful way to call Mom on the phone before visiting hours started and ask her if she and I could pray over the phone.  I did that and she agreed.  I asked if I could lead her in a prayer inviting Jesus into her heart. "Yes," she said.  And so we prayed, "Jesus, forgive all my sins. Come into my heart and take control of my life. Free me from the snares of Satan and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen." 

That was in November of 1985.  She died on January 7, 1986 with her family at her bedside praying prayers, singing hymns, telling her she was loved, and thanking her for all she did for us.  We also recounted a lot of the funny family stories and laughed.  Although she was in a coma, I believe she heard us.  Just before she took her last breath, my father told her it was okay for her to leave us and go with Jesus.  She smiled and died.

I was always grateful for the Lord's leading me to make that phone call that morning in November.  I needed that spiritual bonding to my mother.  It was as much for me as for her.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Prayer And A Hairdo, Two Bits

When Mary was a senior in high school, she decided she would like to become a hairdresser.  She visited several different cosmetology schools and checked with several hairdressers. The Ron Thomas Cosmetology School was recommended, and Mary liked what she saw when she visited the school.  However, there was one drawback; Ron Thomas' school was located on Belair Road, and we were moving to the west side of town.

For most of her high school years, Mary had commuted from east Baltimore to west Baltimore through the Harbor Tunnel.  Now, it looked as if she was going to have to commute through the tunnel again, or live with her grandparents on the east side.  We began praying that God's will would be accomplished.

In July, several months after we had moved to west Baltimore, a representative from the Ron Thomas School called and advised Mary that they were opening a location that September on Liberty Road.  That was only a fifteen minute drive on the west side of town. Mary was able to stay at home, complete her schooling in cosmetology, and get her license. 
That branch of the Ron Thomas School closed the year after Mary completed her course, and for the next several years operated only on the east side of town until the entire school closed in 1995.  

Prayer does change things.  Mostly, prayer changes people.

(This story had a happy ending for Mary and us.  Sadly, it did not end that way for Ron Thomas and his wife.)

Hidden Riches Yield A New Home

(The median of Edmondson Avenue in Ten Hills/Westgate.  Photo from the Westgate Community Association.)

It was 1983, and Nancy and Tony Kurek and Phyllis and Sam Deramo had moved from the east side of town to the Catonsville area where members of the Lamb of God Community (of which we were a part) had established a cluster of homes and a school that Mary, Thom, and Phil were attending. We too wanted to move there. One of our reasons for wanting to move was so we wouldn't have to drive across town for school or the prayer meetings we attended once a week. Yet when Larry prayed prior to June of 1983, he kept getting a "no" in his spirit. Eventually, he felt like he had an okay from the Lord to call my sister-in-law and real estate agent Susan Ringsdorf to start the wheels rolling to put the house on the market.

It took a while before we got a contract on the house. We had to be out of the house in two months. We looked and looked for housing, but found nothing we could afford.  Becoming discouraged, I went to prayer and opened my Bible. It opened to Isaiah 45. I saw that a while back I had highlighted verse 3. The verse read, "I will give you treasures out of darkness and riches that have been hidden away."  I wanted to believe that, but was afraid to. I sat reading that scripture again and again, but my faith was weak.

Larry, Susan, and I were again looking in the Catonsville area. It was a holiday, and after looking at two homes that did not fit our needs, we went to Phyllis and Sam's home to brainstorm, for we had to be out of our house on Dudley Avenue in two weeks.  My brother Gene (Susan's husband) had come too. As we gathered around the table, Phyllis said she knew of a house on Stamford Road that was up on the market as an owner's sale. Susan urged us to look at it even though the owner wanted $68,000 for it. I didn't want to look at the house because I knew there was no way we could afford it.  My reasoning: Why look at something you can't afford that you may fall in love with, and then housing you could afford would only seem like second best?  All the family said, "Go look at it."

I walked through the house only half looking, since when I stepped into the living room it seemed more than what I had ever dreamed to have. Larry felt this was the house God wanted us to have.  How? How could we do this?  We knew how much we had for a down payment, and we would have a mortgage that we couldn't handle.

Back at Phyllis and Sam's, Susan said she thought we could get the owner to accept $62,000. We shared with everyone there what our finances were, and even getting the owner to accept $62,000, we couldn't do it. Then Gene told us that he, as executor of our Mom and Dad's will, knew there was money set aside for us for our inheritance. I had no knowledge of this, and Gene said he was going to ask them if we could have $11,000 -- our share of the inheritance -- now to use as the added down payment which would make the mortgage payments affordable. Gene spoke to Mom and Dad, and they were happy to giveus the money.  It was then I remembered the scripture verse from Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you treasures out of darkness and riches that have been hidden away."

We moved into 613 Stamford Rd. on April 11, 1984, our 25th wedding anniversary. God was so good to us, and when I moved in, I was overwhelmed by His love for us and for the love and support we had from family. We were able through God's goodness to pay the $11,000 back before my Dad went into a retirement home, and pay off the house before Larry retired.  We would stay there for more than 26 years.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again, But You Can Leave In Peace

We had our house at 3331 Dudley Avenue up for sale and wanted to move across town to the Catonsville area. We had friends living there, as well as my sister Phyllis.  At the time, all of these people belonged to the Charismatic covenant community of the Lamb of God, as did Larry and I.

There had been little or no activity for the safe of 3331 Dudley, and we were becoming discouraged. When we prayed together about the house, we asked God why we couldn't move. We sensed God saying, "Trust Me.  I am doing what is best for everyone, and if you knew all the circumstances as I do, you would agree with the delay. So thank you, and praise Me for My timing."

Not long after, Rob expressed his feelings about moving; he didn't want to move. He felt that 3331 was his life. He had no connection to the Catonsville area, and he had helped quite a bit with the repairs and remodeling of the house on Dudley Avenue. As he expressed himself, we realized that what he wanted was to leave his childhood behind, but not have it taken away from him.

The year before, he had enlisted in the Air Force and was due to leave home on Valentine's Day.  We planned a big going away party for the week before his departure.  Just prior to the party, a couple came through the house, liked it, and signed a contract. Rob was able to leave Dudley before we showed any signs of moving, which we did on April 11th.  

He would serve in the Air Force for the next 24 years.

He'll Never Go To That School!

The newly built school Paul was attending was Northeast Middle School in the Baltimore City Public School system. Sometime in the late winter months, an announcement came over the school's P.A. system advising any student who wished to go to Loyola High School to please come to the office. Paul was the only one who went to the office.  He was given a notice advising that a group of black lawyers, former alumni of Loyola, had formed a group called the Advocate Gladiators. This group gave a scholarship each year to a child from the inner city who wanted to go to Loyola. Paul, of course, applied. He and Larry had to appear before the group of lawyers and a few faculty members from Loyola, as well as the other students who were competing for the scholarship.  I was so sure this was God's answer to our prayers because we had no other way for Paul to go to this school.

In late June, we received a letter from the Advocate Gladiators advising us that Paul was not chosen for the scholarship. What a disappointment!  That evening, we were led to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. It truly was a sacrifice since our feelings were so full of sadness, loss, and disappointment.  Over the next few weeks, we continued to pray, even though we didn't feel it, "Thank You; we trust that You know what is best and will put Paul in the school You want him in."

We now had to look for another school. We found that Baltimore City College (actually, a high school) was being refurbished and their college preparatory track was starting again. This school was noted in the 40s and 50s for the fantastic writers it produced, and was again trying for those days of glory. Paul said that this was his second choice, so we enrolled him there in the beginning of August. School was starting the first week of September.

One day in the middle of August, I was cleaning the kitchen floor and thinking of what I needed for the children to start school when the phone rang.  I answered in a preoccupied voice.  The caller announced that he was the head of admissions at Loyola High School, and both he and the Headmaster had been present at the Advocate Gladiators interviews. They were impressed with Paul's interview and wanted him as a student at Loyola. Since that time, they had been working on a plan to get scholarship money for Paul. Part of that money would come from a work scholarship which would entail Paul staying after school several days a week to work around the school doing various jobs.  However, if he would still like to go to Loyola, the scholarship, including the work scholarship, would be for four years. I was speechless.  God was faithful.  He did for Paul what we could not do.  He heard and answered our prayers and supplied the tuition.

Paul started at Loyola in September
(his name was called for roll at City College also!) and graduated in 1983.  When we looked back, we saw God's ways were not our ways. It was because of Paul's repeating the eighth grade that he was interviewed for the one scholarship he did not receive. Yet, God worked through that experience to give Paul the desire of his heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When Repeating A Grade Is A Good Thing

After going to several open house afternoons at area high schools, Paul decided he would like to go to Loyola High School. He was graduating from the eighth grade at Shrine of the Little Flower in June. Early on in elementary school, Paul had skipped a grade. Due to a gap in his chronological age, emotional maturity, and academic abilities, school was stressful for him even though he had very good grades.

One evening, Larry and I took some time to pray about Paul's education. After a few minutes, we sat quietly to see if God wanted to give us any insight about this. This time, we sensed that we should have Paul repeat the eighth grade at another school if possible, and maybe that would give him the opportunity to narrow the gap that was causing him problems.  However, the school had to be able to give him subjects he'd not had before, and it needed to be close by since I had a toddler and an infant, and we had only one car which Larry used for work. We talked to Paul after that time of prayer and he felt okay about repeating the eighth grade at another school, but he said he still wanted to go to Loyola High School the following year.  Loyola was at that time the most expensive high school in the Baltimore area. We told him to pray that God would provide if that's where God wanted him to be.

The next day, my friend Nancy stopped in and I spoke to her about what we sensed we were to do.  Our stipulations looked impossible
to us, considering the public middle school in our area. Nancy suggested calling the superintendent in our district to see if he had any suggestions.  We did, and he advised us to call the principal of the new Northeast Middle School that was being built just outside of our district, but still within walking distance from our home, and would be completed before August. We called the principal, and "yes," she said, they "could definitely give him subjects he'd not had." And, "yes," he could start in September.  What a blessing!  God had provided for all of our needs. 

This school placement was a miracle to us, but God was not finished.

Off The Rack -- And The Street, Almost

I had received an invitation to my 25th high school reunion at Catholic High. I wanted something special and Larry said I could spend $30 for a dress.  That was a good bit then for me to spend. So, I went shopping.  

I looked and looked, but could not find anything I liked. I wanted a skirt and blazer. As I write this, I am aware I wanted what I used to wear in my high school days when I wasn't wearing my ugly green uniform. Yet, I was open to buying a dress. It seemed to me that year the dresses were not very flattering, and I didn't like the way they looked on me.

It was two days before the reunion and I still had no outfit. I realized I had not prayed about the clothes. As I began to pray, a thought came that maybe I should give $20 of the $30 away. I asked Larry what he thought of the idea, since it seemed like a reckless thing to do. He agreed I should give the $20 away.

The next day I was walking on Belair Road when a van for the Goodwill Store pulled up. The men then rolled out some racks, and right there on the street I saw a dark green blazer and a red and green plaid skirt.  I went into the store and waited for the racks to come in. The blazer and skirt were my size and were in great condition. I also found a blouse and a pair of shoes - all for $10. I felt like a million dollars in my Goodwill outfit, and I had a great time at my reunion.

Monday, January 9, 2012

To Obey Is Better Than To Sacrifice Your Paper Route

Rob had been delivering papers since entering the eighth grade at Little Flower School, and was now in his junior year at Archbishop Curley High School.  He found that there was an opening for a dishwasher at the local bakery where Anne had been working. His job hours would be after school, and Saturdays and Sundays. Rob really wanted this job; he loved the idea of sleeping through the night and not having to be in bed before 9 p.m. He applied for the job and we all prayed.  As we prayed, we sensed that this was the job for him.  Yet later that day, Rob received a call advising him that the job had gone to another young man.  We were all disappointed, but thanked God that His will was being done, even though we didn't understand.

Later during the week, Gene Slater, Rob's boss for the paper delivery, called to ask me to remind Rob to serve the papers the way he had told Rob to do.  Rob had his own ideas about the way to serve the papers, and not the way Mr. Slater wanted. We talked to Rob about being obedient and told him it was right and admirable to discuss with his boss his ideas, but to stay on the job, he needed to be obedient to the authority over him unless his boss was asking him to do something morally or ethically wrong.  We also told him that it was in that obedience that God would bless him.  

The next week, he followed Mr. Slater's directions, and that Thursday the bakery called and asked if Rob still wanted the job since the other young man did not prove satisfactory. Rob worked at the bakery for the remainder of the time he was in high school.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just Breathe II: Phil's Turn

(Here's the first "Just Breathe," about Thom.)

When I put Philip to bed that night, he seemed a happy and playful two-year old. At midnight, he woke up with a high fever; he was very croupy and struggling to breathe.  The vaporizer didn't seem to help, and because of the labored breathing, Larry and I decided to take Philip to the hospital emergency room.

Awakening in the night with a fever and not being able to breathe properly is scary for anyone, but especially so for a two-year old.  Larry and I were seasoned parents, as Philip was our sixth child, and we had dealt with bronchitis, pneumonia, esophagitis, and all kinds of respiratory illnesses.  We were concerned for this little guy because he was pulling so hard for his breath.  

When Phil was examined by the ER doctor, he screamed in terror. I don't like emergency rooms myself, so I couldn't blame him for putting up a fuss.  The doctor said he wanted an x-ray of his lungs to rule out pneumonia, and he wanted it done right away.

I felt so badly for Phil; he was so afraid, and now he'd have to go into a very dark place with a huge x-ray machine placed over him.  As we stood in the hall waiting to be called into x-ray, Larry and I prayed that God would set his Angels in charge round about Phil and give him peace. I was allowed into the room with Phil and outfitted with a lead apron. The x-ray technician instructed me to lay him down on the steel table and hold him while she adjusted the machine. The room was quite dark, although there was a little light. I am sure Philip was pretty tired out from all the crying he had done, so he laid still while the technician arranged the plates and positioned the machine. Now I was told to move away from him so the x-rays could be taken. 

I looked at Phil, and he began to smile and he seemed to be looking around the top of the walls.  "Look, Mom," he said, "see the lights. Look at them, Mom!  Aren't they pretty?" He said that the lights moved around the room.  I saw no lights. Was this the work of the fever? I don't know. 

What I do know is that a frightened little boy was smiling and peaceful during a procedure his parents thought would greatly add to his fear. Did God hear our prayer for Phil that night? You bet! Did He send His Angels as we asked?  I'm sure He did. Is that what Philip saw? I don't know, but I like to think he did.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No Accidents, Please, We're British

One summer night in 1976, while Dr. Alan Hassey (above) of Skipton, England and his fiancee (now wife) Liz were staying with us, Liz was awakened during the night. She sat up in bed not knowing why she had awoken, since she is a very sound sleeper. She looked around the room and listened to what might have awakened her.  Did someone call her?  She looked to her left, and on her pillow was a tack that had fallen out of the bulletin board that was over her bed and was laying with the point straight up. If she had rolled over, the tack would have stuck in her face, possibly her eye. We all were aware of God's intervention that night. At meal time, we would pray for God's protection on all of us. Thank you, Lord, for your protection then, and in the next story that happened later that same summer.

Alan had an internship as a med student at Johns Hopkins Hospital, while Liz was babysitting for a doctor who worked there.  They were with us for about three months, during which Mary and Paul slept in the basement.  Rob and Alan slept in the back bedroom, and Liz and Anne were in the middle bedroom. Thom was in the crib in our bedroom in the front of the house.

It was about 3 a.m. and Thom woke up crying.  I got up with him and was rocking him when I heard a whirring sound as Thom quieted down.  After he fell back to sleep, I went downstairs to investigate the s
ound. I found the electric can opener going around and around and it, the plug, and the outlet were very hot. God allowed Thom to awaken so I could hear the motor of the can opener, and He saved us from a fire. Thank you again, Lord!

Your Papers, Please

The summer before Rob was to enter the 8th grade, we asked him to think about where he wanted to go to high school.  His application to the school or schools of his choice needed to be in by October. The public school in the area had a very poor reputation, and Rob knew he didn't want to go there. However, we knew that if he chose a parochial or private school we would have difficulty paying for tuition.  We didn't want to discourage Rob, but Larry and I were concerned about what to do. 

We were advised to pray that God would place in his heart the desire for the school that he, God, wanted Rob to go to, and then pray for the provisions for it. It was soon September and Rob still was not sure where he wanted to go to school the next year.  Finally, in mid-September, he decided he wanted to go to Archbishop Curley High School, which was within walking distance from our house.  The tuition there was $750 per year, very inexpensive by today's standards, but beyond our means at that time.  We continued to pray for God's provision. 

Two weeks later, Rob was offered a paper route making $700 a year delivering the morning papers, and if he began right away, he would have most of his first year's tuition by the time he started at Curley. Rob took the job and worked it for several years, getting up at 3 every morning to deliver the papers.  On school days, he'd come back in at 5, eat breakfast, and go back to bed until 7:30, then up and off to school.  It was difficult for him, but we were proud of his endeavors.  Rob did graduate from Curley, and he seemed to have enjoyed his days there.