Christ Mirrored

At Mass the community atmosphere is warm and welcoming and it’s always good to see the House of God filled with people.

But, every once in a while I get the opportunity to walk into the sanctuary when no one else is around.  The feeling I get at that moment is indescribable.  Surrounded by beauty that is both simple and refined I am often overwhelmed by the gift of Jesus in my life.  And, I am thankful for the quiet moment to enjoy His presence.

Taken on my IPhone  I didn’t even realize the mirror of Christ was part of the baptismal font.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered ‘my’ clever skills.

St. Jude

Motorcycle Mishap in South Dakota

On a Sunday afternoon in June, while riding through the hills of South Dakota, my sister-in-law, Chireen, was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident. She and my brother, Jon, were 350 miles from home and, for the next 3.5 weeks would endure numerous complications and setbacks from her extensive injuries.

It was a scary time for them, as it was for all of us who love and care for them.

It began as an overnight trip riding motorcycles through the hills of South Dakota. The weather was beautiful and the scenery magnificent.  However, it all changed in that proverbial ‘blink of an eye’ when they came upon a sharp curve that was not clearly marked.  Jon – about 1/4 of a mile ahead of Chireen –  went through the curve first.  Realizing she would need to slow down he immediately pulled his bike over to warn her.  But it was too late.  Time slowed to a crawl as he turned around and saw her and the bike tumble through the air, hit a guardrail and crumple to the ground.  The bike landed on top of her and by the time he reached her side she was making gurgling noises and bubbling was coming from her mouth.

The accident occurred in a secluded area with no cell service and it was 20 minutes before anyone drove by.  The first car to pull over then turned around and drove back to a spot with a cell signal to call 911.  A few minutes later a family of three came by on their bikes and stopped to render aid.  Stephanie – a nurse – was the calm in a raging storm as she took charge of first aid until paramedics arrived.

The extent of her injuries were bad and, the area pretty remote, and it was decided she needed to be air lifted to the hospital.  As they loaded her in the helicopter Chireen was semi-conscious, and as Jon told her goodbye, all he could think was, “this may be the last time I see my wife alive….”

When he finally caught up with her at the hospital she was – for that moment – in stable condition and the good news was she had no head or neck trauma. (Thank God they are a safety-conscious couple and each were dressed head to toe in protective gear.  Without a doubt these items saved her life.)  However, the other injuries she sustained – a broken collar bone, a fractured wrist, multiple fractures in each rib on her right side, a punctured lung and a shattered ankle – caused a myriad of complications that ended up prolonging her stay way longer than the originally anticipated few days.

The complexity of things that went awry were, at times, baffling to everyone involved in her recovery, and there were several low points as she battled to overcome the seriousness of subsequent infections. As the length of her stay went from days to weeks the news would be good and it would be bad.  It felt like she would take one step forward and then two steps back.  We would be encouraged by her progress and then discouraged as she encountered one complication after another.

It was an extraordinarily stressful time for my brother.  Not wanting to leave her bedside – especially that first week – he dealt with every single thing on his own. Phone calls, texts and emails to family, friends, employers, insurance, tow companies, police and the bike shop.  Bombarded with new medical terms and procedures he was forced to learn and absorb on the go. Sleeping was in bits and spurts as he watched over her and her care. The hospital food was not appealing to him and as a result he was not eating.

For Chireen, bad days that brought unbearable pain and little to no progress were discouraging and, when the effort became too much to cooperate with the treatments Chireen was tempted to give up.  And, while those moments frightened all of us they were short-lived.  Her determined will and desire to live would resurface each time and ended up being stronger than the infections.

Bob Marley has a quote attributed to him that says, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

They had no choice. The reserves of strength, courage and patience each of them discovered were beyond their imaginations.

At the beginning of the third week in the hospital the doctor came in with the grim news that, in essence, the infection was winning.  As they digested this latest setback Jon and Chireen took the opportunity to say all the things they each wanted the other to know.  After signing a DNR (do not resuscitate) and a Durable Power of Attorney they discussed her final wishes.

I spoke to my brother that afternoon and he was peaceful.  He realized he had been given the gift of time with his wife. Time they wouldn’t have had if she had died the afternoon of the accident.

But, as we talked he also recounted another God-incidence which had occurred that morning.  A mysterious picture showed up on Chireen’s phone which had been lying on the windowsill of her room.  A picture in which the whole frame is some kind of bright light.  He didn’t understand it but, it filled him with the knowledge that everything – no matter what happened – would be okay.

As I said before, Chireen is a fighter and that last setback was just that…a setback.  She battled and ten days later was finally released from the hospital to make the six hour journey home.  Home (and two year-old grandson, Jace) proved to be the tonic no antibiotic could cure and, her recovery has been moving forward and on track.

The experience was life changing for Jon and Chireen.  Their faith was tested but they never underestimated the power of our Lord.  The picture was just one of many ways God revealed his love and mercy during this time.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely. In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.

For all of us the number of God-incidences and the multitude of angels he sent to watch out for both of them were numerous.  Our faith is also stronger for the experience.

Philippians 4:13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

There was Stephanie, the nurse who first arrived on the scene.  She stayed with them both and, then, realizing Jon was alone and far from home traded phone numbers with him so she could stay in touch. And she did.  She was an invaluable source of help and support.

There were the numerous hospital nurses, techs, doctors and specialists who consulted and provided unparalleled counsel and care.

Chireen’s mom, Haide, who arrived and provided support for not only her daughter but, also respite care for Jon so he was able to leave the hospital for brief periods of time. Jon’s daughter, Kelli, took care of everything at their home; feeding the dogs, checking the mail, making sure all was well. Their employers, who were gracious beyond reason, offered love and support.  They were told to take all the time they needed – and the beautiful part was, they meant it.   Friends picked up the bike trailer.  Family provided meals so he didn’t have to leave the hospital.

And, the prayers.  So very many prayers for healing were offered up to God. Prayer chains, prayers of the faithful (offered during Mass) prayer warriors, individuals, big groups, small groups, prayers out loud, written prayers put into prayer boxes and prayers held silently in our hearts.  We offered God praise when things looked good and we thanked Him for his love and strength when things felt desperate.  And in those moments when we despaired and railed against the injustice of the situation he gently reminded us He is always in control.

This storm came to pass with the answered prayer we were hoping for – healing.  But, if the gift of Chireen’s life had been shortened we would have continued to offer praise.  Why? Because no matter what God is good…all the time.  All the time….God is good.

Saved Images (2)


James 1: 2-4

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Jon & Chireen playing in the snow


Mass in Mandarin

Staying in the Jiading ‘suburb’ of Shanghai or district, as they are called here, our light colored skin, hair and freckles have proved to be a source of fascination for many locals.  Heads have turned as we walk by and many have taken our picture.  Some openly and others, thinking we can’t see them, take our photo on the sly.  It doesn’t bother us and we are happy to smile and pose as long as they are relatively polite and respectful.  Which, without a doubt, they have been.

This morning we went to a very small (300 people) local Catholic Church to attend Mass.  We came in the back and sat in the last pew but, in no time at all, word spread through the sanctuary that foreigners were present. Heads turned and they made no secret of staring at us.  I’m not kidding, LOTS of heads turned.

Mass was lovely and while I understood 4 words total….Ni hao (hello) XieXie (thank you), amen and alleluia I was able to follow along because worldwide the service is the same wherever you go.  Same readings and same prayers no matter the language and no matter the location. It.Is.Awesome. (Plus, with Mass Apps I can follow the readings in English)

Jesus I trust in YouI know what this says!! (Jesus, I trust in You)

Sared HeartThe altar of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Diocese of Wenzhou

And a big kudos to the congregation for the beautiful and roof-raising singing.  It was amazing to hear such joyful voices being lifted unto the Lord!

After Mass we wandered back into the courtyard where we ended up the main attraction for pictures. We happily posed for about 10 minutes while taking different group shots and individual selfies.  It was fun and the Chinese – in all their curiosity – were welcoming and excited to see us.

Sacred Heart

Taking a picture of them taking pictures of us

Sacred Heart

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.

WPC: One Love

In my world one love has a domino effect.

Matthew 22: 36-38 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment.

property of terezpics 10/20141 John 3:16a The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us.


Matthew 22: 39 The second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (represented by my beloved family)Photo cred to Kyon Photography

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.



authors note:  Photo cred for the crucifix belongs to me @terezpics.  However, photo cred for the group photo of my family goes to KYon Photography.  Check out more of her pictures on Facebook.

A Whole Lotta Sauce

Spaghetti sauce, that is.

Nov 19 sauce

When you’re hosting lunch for a crowd you need to have a lot of whatever you are serving.  For Saturday’s feast I chose spaghetti and today I made this huge pan of sauce.


I won’t have time to make it on Saturday so I’ve stayed ahead of the game by getting it ready early.  My house smelled delicious as the ingredients came together and it simmered on the cooktop.

Why am I hosting a big crowd for Saturday lunch?  To celebrate Ben’s Confirmation and Gianna’s 3rd birthday.

Three years ago today my beautiful granddaughter arrived and she has been keeping us on our toes ever since.  My daughter said it best on Instagram when she stated, “She brings laughter, joy and many moments to practice holiness everyday!”

That’s my girl and I sure do love her. 🙂

Ben is being confirmed on Saturday.  He is growing up so fast and he has grown into a wonderful and handsome young man.  I am so proud of him.

Nov 14 Ben

It’s going to be a great big celebratory, happy, family weekend.

I love these moments.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.




A New Beginning

This is my brand new blog. Focusing on my family, my faith and my photography. I’ve had another blog for 3 years but for a variety of reasons I decided to shut the old one down and start fresh.

Here’s to taking chances.

Following are tidbits about who I am.  It’s pretty much a copy and paste of my ‘about me’ profile. But, this way, if you don’t feel like clicking on anything we’ve still been formally introduced.

T mar15So….Hello!  My name is Teresa and I am a Wife, Mother, Nana, Sister & Friend.

I have a big family whom I adore.  And our ‘village’ works hard to support one another.

I am Catholic, I love Jesus and I love my faith.

I am pro-life and pray that the world will have a conversion of heart and come to believe that once conceived all lives matter.

The cast of characters in my life include but are in no way limited to…
My husband: Ronald
My Kids: Krista and husband Leslie, Joshua and wife Emma, Patrick, Benjamin (Ben)
My Grandkids: Charlie, Caleb, Claire, Kolbe, Gianna and Thérèse

I am an amateur photographer learning my way around a camera.  I take lots and lots and lots of pictures – especially of my family.  I am looking forward to sharing them on this blog.

Thérèse just turned one and I had so much fun during our photo shoot.

TAK 1st bday8

The ‘official’ one year portrait.

I am an 8 year breast cancer survivor

I love to eat and I love glasses of wine, vodka & tonics and green tea; especially when it is shared with family and/or friends.

I am a 50-something woman who has lost 50+ pounds from my heaviest weight.  I’m keeping it off with a combination of (trying) to eat right, running, strength training and boxing/kickboxing.

I have a lot of days where I feel like I’m messing up life and not getting anything right.  But, then I try to remember I am a child of God and immensely loved by Him.  When I am able to do that it is easier to pick myself back up and try again.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me. Thanks for checking in and taking the time to read.