I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont...
I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here

Category Archives: Simply Living

The Sun Peaks Through – A Wedding and a Funeral

The Sun Peaks Through – A Wedding and a Funeral

Life was so divinely orchestrated yesterday, I felt like I was a character in a movie.  First I attended the funeral of a good friend who at 76 passed away last week.  She shared my love of Jesus, was a model of childlike faith, perseverance, and how to be a loving spouse and mother.

I first met Dottie five years ago when we each were teaching religious education at our parish, she taught in one of the first grade classes and I in the other.  Our friendship began in earnest though 2 1/2 years ago when her husband was nearing the end of his life.

Dotty instilled in me through her stories of their love and through her own sacrifice what the actions of a mature love looks like.  I would listen to her talk about how she viewed her husband, how deeply she cared for him, and sheepishly think to myself, “Hmmmm that’s not how I always am with my husband.”

I found out about Dottie’s passing last Sunday in Mass.  Even though I knew she hadn’t been feeling well for some months it still came as a shock.  I mourned the loss of my friend.  When I found out her funeral would be on my wedding anniversary though, I smiled.

Seventeen years ago yesterday I pledged to love, honor, and cherish, my husband Kevin, in good times and bad, till death do we part  and for the first time in 17 years it looked as if Kevin and I were not going to be together on our anniversary.

Our oldest three boys and Kevin were scheduled to be on a retreat for Catholic Boy Scouts.  Kevin was one of the arrangers of this retreat weekend which at one point had its date changed due to a scheduling conflict and somehow the fact that the rescheduled date was our anniversary weekend didn’t click with him till it was too late.

Any other year I would have let anger get the best of me over this, but by the grace of God this year I didn’t.  I let it go, I let God handle it.  Instead of being together on our actual anniversary, we planned that I would head over to the camp (about an hour away) the next day on Sunday for an intimate Mass in the mess hall.  It would be something fun to do with the four little ones still with me and I wouldn’t have to try to wrangle them at Mass by myself.

On Friday as Kevin and our older boys were packing up to go, I felt melancholy.  I knew it wasn’t “that big a deal” but I was sad that I wouldn’t see him on our anniversary.  Trying to make sure I had all the info for Sunday, I asked him what time Mass would be at.  He checked his email and he said the Mass was changed to Saturday afternoon.  I would see him on our anniversary after all.

My friend Heather was so kind to come over to watch the boys for me on Saturday morning so I could attend Dottie’s funeral.  Dottie always dressed to the nines for Mass often wearing elegant hats to complete her ensemble.  I tried to honor her in the black and white sundress I wore.  I hunted down a curling iron in a drawer it has sat untouched in for years, to give my hair a little lift too.  Dottie’s is the first funeral I have attended in Vermont for a friend in the 11 years I have lived here.

I sat near her usual spot.  I sang the hymns, praised Jesus, looked up at the statue of The Risen Jesus that was so close to Dottie’s heart, felt her presence, and remembered her…  Afterwards at a local Inn I had the opportunity to meet and talk to two of her three children and a few of her grade school friends.  I was able to tell her children how much I loved their mom and that her life made an impact on mine.

As I drove back home after the funeral, time was running short for making it in time for the Mass at the Boy Scout camp.  So when I arrived, I thanked my friend for watching the boys, got them packed up in the car, grabbed a few snacks, and our wedding candle (I thought maybe the priest could just have it lit at the altar or something).  I didn’t really have time to change so I just slipped on a pair of sandals instead of the heels I had on and we headed off.

I drove our big 12 passenger van over the hills of Vermont in and out of rain, the sun sneaking out here and there, following my directions to the camp.  I pulled up as Kevin was walking the dirt road to meet us. Normally I would have felt self conscious to have been wearing a fancy dress to a Boy Scout camp, but this day I didn’t, I was just happy we made it in time and happy to see Kevin.

The first thing that Kevin told me as we pulled up, after “Happy Anniversary!” was that the Mass was going to be said in honor of Dottie.


While driving the winding way through the country side of Vermont over to the Boy Scout camp I was thinking about our marriage and about how I had dealt with the little bump of not being together on our anniversary and how even though it hadn’t been easy for me I had given Kevin grace for it and a few other moments like it lately.  And I thought how different that was from so many bumps we have had in the past, and felt in my soul that not making a big deal about it gave us a peace instead of stealing it and gave Kevin a true feeling of love and me the opportunity to practice the “action” of love.  I thought to myself about how our marriage has grown and how I was excited for our future married life together and how this was just the beginning…

As we were getting out of the van I mentioned to Kevin that I brought our wedding candle.  I watched as he took it over to the priest to explain that it was our anniversary and to ask if we could have it on the altar during Mass or something.

Instead the priest suggested we use it in a ceremony during Mass where we renew our wedding vows.

Jesus took me from the funeral of my friend and a mentor in marriage to this humble scout camp where I would end up renewing my wedding vows.  And just to tie a bow around the whole event with Kevin dressed in his uniform and I in my dress… we were even dressed for it.  Our 7 sons and the other adults and boy scouts there watched as we again pledged to love, honor, and cherish, each other, in good times and bad, till death do we part, with Kevin’s eye glistening at me through his smile just like he did 17 years ago.

pictured left: Our wedding 17 years ago. (photo by Cheryl Levine Photography) pictured right: Renewing our wedding vows at Mass at the Catholic Retreat for Boys Scouts yesterday.

Jesus you orchestrated it all…

How could I have ever doubted you?

Dottie, may you rest joyfully for eternity with our risen Lord and your husband Ed.  Thank you for your friendship and your witness and Happy Anniversary to Kevin, my partner, my husband, my friend.

Sending you all love as the sun peaks through the clouds while driving through the winding hills of Vermont,


A Prayer for My Son, A Prayer for Our World…

A Prayer for My Son, A Prayer for Our World…

We have this little box with a sliding lid that we keep prayers for dinner in.  I made it years ago when the older kids were younger and we were just starting a tradition of saying a blessing before dinner.  Some of the prayers the kids made up over the years and others I collected from books.  We have an old standby that we use at most meal times now, but years ago each child was given a night where it was their turn to choose and recite the blessing before dinner.  Lately we have mostly used the blessing box when we have visitors and want to give them the honor of choosing the blessing.

So it sits tucked away on the counter.  Two year old Paul has found it a few times lately.  He has set it on the table, slid back the top and proceeded to empty and spread out the 4″x4″ white card stock blessings.  He’s been pretty good with putting them back in, so I haven’t said too much.  Today he did it again and his brother Gus, who is almost 4 years old, got in on the action.  Eventually the cards fell to the floor in a messy pile.  I cleaned them up and put away all but one.  Gus had it and when I asked him to hand it to me he tightened his grip on it instead and shook his head no.  I tried sweet talking him a little, but he just did not want to give it up, so I let him wander around the house with the blessing while he made his own particular type of toddler mahem.  Later in the day, I found it laying on the table.  Curious I went to find out which blessing he had chosen…

It couldn’t have been more relevant.

Our world today is very nearly screaming to give voice to the voiceless.   For the tween/ teen trying to figure out how to fit into the world and feel safe using the thoroughly vulnerable space of a public bathroom, for women and the inherent inconvenience of fertile bodies that can derail plans and opportunities, or worse.  For the very littlest of us just beginning the journey of this world deep inside our mothers.  For the people who come to our country for opportunity, to escape poverty and war, who take risks we can hardly fathom for a chance at life and end up vulnerable without the rights the rest of us are born with.

For all the people our hearts bleed for, for the lives our eyes see, the people whose plights we relate to, for the circumstances that touch our families, the people that touch our hearts…

For my almost 4 year old son Gus, who has Down syndrome, a funny, sweet, great little problem solver, whose words, while they are surely making progress are far far behind most his age.

Reading that blessing he clutched in his hands all afternoon nearly took my breath away today…

“Dear Father, hear and bless

Thy beasts and singing birds,

And guard with tenderness

Small things that have no words.”


I read it and I prayed it.  And I know it is a prayer you pray in some way too…

With love from the silent mountains of Vermont,


I’m Amazing! or Searching for Simplicity in a Complex World.

I’m Amazing! or Searching for Simplicity in a Complex World.

Ha ha ha, no this is a HUMBLE brag 🙂  So my two littlest really needed some new snow boots this winter.  Even though they are not twins the 2 year old has caught up with his older brother who is 3 1/2 and they now wear the same size shoe.  Out at Marshall’s threeContinue Reading

Running Toward Happiness

Running Toward Happiness

Running is fast becoming a “thing” in our family this year.  After years and years I have started running again and what used to be something very solitary for me has become something quite different as my four oldest sons begin running too. So as summer has hit, most mornings I am out with atContinue Reading

Little Spiders and Paying a Call…

It is spring and our kids schedules seem to be in overdrive.  I can’t even think more than 7 days into our calendar without feeling anxiety, so for better or worse, I am just going day to day to day and moment to moment. Even within all this busy Jesus has been calling me.  PassingContinue Reading

That Sweet Vermont Season

That Sweet Vermont Season

We’ve been prepping all week for a run.  Those cold nights and warm days that wake the sleeping sap from roots to limbs.  Drilling holes, tapping trees, cleaning out holding barrels.  Today was the day, the sap ran and ran.  It’s been 8 years of Sugaring seasons for me now. I’ve been going through myContinue Reading

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Tumbling around on the floor this morning enjoying life and one another, I’m like a mother lion with her cubs.  ~G and ~P jockey for space on my tummy for bounces and snuggles.  “Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra” sings out from my Pandora “Raffi” station and I can’t help but think: “It sure does…”Continue Reading

Play dough and Being Made

Play dough and Being Made

There are just two of us today in our twelve passenger van making the 5 minute drive to preschool.  At 8:20am it is already a day busy with an agenda ready to sweep me away.  Hidden two rows back safely buckled into his car seat I hear my 4 year old ask in a wayContinue Reading

7 Quick Takes:  It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

7 Quick Takes: It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

Here’s my 7 Quick Takes on what’s been going on around here lately… 1 — Fall kind of slid right by no matter how hard I pulled at it’s coat tails begging it to stay!  I did manage to take a few photos before the splendor fades into the winter…     2 — ~PContinue Reading

Walking On Water

I wrote this post around this time last year and never posted it, I found it today and it seems so appropriate to my “right now”, that I thought I would finally share it in case it resonates with anyone else. It dawned on me tonight what Peter actually did on that boat when he focusedContinue Reading

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