Tag Archives: #VirginMary




Thursday, December 8, was the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day nine months before Mary’s “birthday” of September 8, which is called the Feast of the Nativity.  According to Catholic dogma approved in 1854, the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin on this day.

It was also the day this week that my mother, a.k.a. the Radish, went in for a repair of her mitral heart valve.   She stayed under a little longer to fix the tricuspid too.

My sister, Mood Ring Momma, my father, and I had a long time to fellowship together in the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, delivering my mother at 5 a.m. for her operation.  Scripture and cheesy Jesus photos adorned the walls of the hospital lobby and waiting rooms.  I was at total peace, even as the clock ticked past the time the OR nurse was supposed to have provided an update.

At some point, it occurred to me that December 8 was a Feast Day of Mary and that I should be on the lookout for her.  I know this because I had hoped that 12/8/98 would be Thing 3’s birthday, coming two years and three months after Thing 2’s birthday, 9/8/96.  I like even numbers.  The only drawback:  most Mexican Catholics born on this date, be they male or female, are named Concepcion (Conception) and go by the (unattractive to me) nickname of Concho/Concha/Conchita.   Would I have caved to the pressure???

The first apparition, if you can even call it that, was a teensy blue medal worn by a former cardiothoracic OR nurse named Linda who chatted us up in the waiting room.  Her Aunt Mary had bought it for her at the Vatican.   At 67 years old, Linda rocked her scrubs.   I have never seen such a glamorous nurse.   Although this was a pea sized appearance, Linda was a veritable angel of information.

The second apparition was far creepier (?)/comforting/scalp tingling.  As the afternoon wore on, I received a text message from an unknown New York number with an accompanying photo of a double tombstone.  The text said, “Dad would have been 100 yrs old today.  Mary & I just stopped by.”  The name of the dad was Joseph.  Now, obviously, I was mistakenly included on someone’s text string. (Or was I???).  In any event, I felt that Joe and his wife, who shares a name with Mood Ring Momma, were looking after the Radish, perhaps during a perilous part of my mother’s journey.   As was Mary.

Naturally, I was on the look out for the third apparition.  Nearly catatonic by the end of the day, I had no further sightings and went to bed nervous for my mother, who we left unconscious and contorted in pain.  With half an ear open all night for a phone call, I slept very little.   If I am honest, I was also a little disappointed there was no trinitarian sighting.

But lo and behold, Mary showed up the next day in the mailbox in the form of my mother’s Christmas card, a little overdue but right on the money.  The Radish had used the above image of Mary for her annual epistle.  Here is her message, which bears reprinting:

“Radish here.  This is a Heart of Mary icon which I stole off my daughter’s blog.  It spoke to me because it is simple, timeless, and her heart is showing, and maybe this year we can show a little religion.  Her heart represents all her joys and sorrows.  Further,  Papa Bear and I with both our hearts wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017.  This year we are so appreciative of our families.  And those who are our friends, you will never know how much you mean to us.  Be open to miracles this year.  XOXO”

A photo of my mother, crazy-haired, and my father, grinning insanely, hovering over their breakfast bowls, graces the back of the card.

Day Three post operation the Radish slept a lot but was not in pain.  Tomorrow, Nurse Ratched is on duty.  We are going to get that granny moving.  This seems to be part of my fate but with Mary, Joseph, and Cheesy Jesus on my team, how can I not surrender to the season???  Perhaps at 52, I am finally learning the true meaning of Christmas:  waiting for a miracle or ten, stripped down and wearing a backless gown, joy found breathing in a sheet swaddled recliner.

N.B.  I did not edit this so if there are any errors, so be it.  You’ll understand.  Also, it is Broccoli Babe’s birthday.  She is an angel encourager.

Shopping suggestion:  Vistaprint.com for all your holiday messages!




Filed under Birthdays, Family, Life, Religion

Green Tuesday

Today the December issue of National Geographic arrived in my mailbox. The title of the issue is: The Healing Power of Faith. A painting on an Italian fresco of St. Catherine, collapsing after receiving the stigmata, is featured on the cover. “Pilgrims visit her shrine in search of cures.”  Not Mary, but close.


Readers may recall that the Virgin Mary was featured on the December 2015 issue of Nat Geo.


Today, in honor of Giving Tuesday, instead of a shopping suggestion, here are a few charities who are matching donations:






Here are some others that are not matching (to my knowledge) but are also worthy of consideration!



hfotusa.org (Homes for our Troops)

Finally, my friend Mary is a missionary for this organization, the Congo Initiative, “ […] a Congolese-led, multicultural movement of people passionately committed to the flourishing of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We accomplish this through multiple initiatives rooted in Christian ethical principles that serve to transform lives and develop strong, indigenous leaders. As the people we serve are transformed, they become agents of hope and healing for all of Congolese society.”

Shhhhh …. don’t tell my kids, but they are getting part of a goat* for Christmas. That’s what I call a bang for a buck.** For my nephews, a subscription to National Geographic.




*Note to Martita: we have come full circle. Thanks to your in-laws for planting that mustard seed so long ago!

** a male goat over the age of one year old is actually called a buck!


Filed under Charitable Endeavors, Life, Religion



No, it’s not a zip code.  It’s my latest order number for MySaintMyHero.com (isnt’t that a cool order number?).    If you scroll to the bottom, you will find my (garbled) comment under the Share Your Story section.  In the past, I bought their blessing bracelets from a local small business retailer in my Ohio town.  There is a dearth of shopping in Tornado Alley so I recently went on to their site and saw the new  (to me) Miraculous Medal bracelets.  Apparently, this past year MySaintMyHero has been focusing on Mary.   “Be open to miracles” is their clarion call.  

I am waiting on several miracles so this greatly appeals to me.  Miracle #1(?) was the removal of the vise grip on Thing 1’s brain and her working in an, albeitly underpaid, job in a fun city where her besties live. I do not know how many times we heard it was well nigh impossible to get rid of an intractable migraine by the “experts” but voila, we had a miracle, Thing 1’s second major healing miracle.   God rolled out the red carpet for Thing 1 in Boston back in September – ROLLED IT OUT.  The miracle itself was slow-rolling, a process, establishing that while some miracles are instantaneous, others take their time.

My heart is very tender towards mothers whose children are in distress.  We have neighbors whose youngest granddaughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  Little 8 year old Emily Anne is past her 100 day mark bone marrow transplant procedure but has to spend the year inside the house.  So do her tween sisters and mother,  to keep the environment clean and stable. This means a year of home schooling.  Her father travels a lot, putting bread on the table.  Sounds like a whole lot of sacrificing to me.  Guess who is getting some Miraculous Medal blessing bracelets from MySaintMyHero?  Emily Anne’s is made with rainbow colored cord – a reminder that God keeps His promises, even if we don’t know  what those promises look like.  It’s always better than we can imagine!

I leave you with the Scripture that has been my phone cover for over a year:

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord  would fulfill all his promises to her!”  Luke 1:45 NIV

It’s Cyber Monday.  Get your shop on!


Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays, Life, Religion, Shopping

True Story (#1)


It is a little peculiar that one of the people who checks in with me most frequently about the health of Thing 1 is my Jo Malone Fragrance saleswoman, Saba.  Saba is from Eritrea but –  I am not going to split hairs here – goes to an Ethiopian Eastern Orthodox church (their Christian calendar is slightly different).  Her sister Belai is suffering from cancer and for the past two years, Saba has spent her vacation time nursing her sister in Washington, D.C., cooking food to freeze and cleaning the house.

Saba leaves voicemails every once in awhile inquiring about Thing 1’s migraine situation.  It makes me happy to no end and reminds me to pray for Belai.  Because I KNOW Saba is praying for Thing 1 and it is working.

One day last year I introduced Polly Positive to Saba and Jo Malone.   We had a good time at Nordies, playing with the various scents.  Afterwards, Polly and I went outside the eCafe to have a coffee.  There, sitting on the mesh table top, were two large silver and blue enamel Miraculous Medals strung on on chains.  JUST SITTING THERE.  AT A NORDSTROM CAFE AT A MALL IN OHIO, WAITING FOR ME.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?

Polly Positive and I just LAUGHED.

Polly was the biggest local champion of my Camino, sending me off with a care package of various goodies for my walk in Spain.  Polly knew the importance of the Miraculous Medal to me.  I had given Polly her own medal, blessed at the Chapel  by a nun from Madagascar.  At the time of my visit to the Chapel, in September of 2014, I bought a bag of 50 tiny medals but I had given them all away by the time I heard of Saba’s sister’s predicament.

“You wouldn’t mind, would you, if I gave these to Saba and her sister?” I asked Polly.

A paragon of virtue, Polly replied, “Of course not!”

Belai’s tumor is now shrinking and she no longer needs a wheelchair.  She can go to the bathroom by herself.  Saba is going on Easter Sunday for a visit, to cook and clean for a week, and spend time with their brother who is flying in from Oregon.

GOOD THINGS CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU GO SHOPPING FOR PERFUME AT THE MALL PEOPLE.  Are you paying attention to the Universe?  Can you spot Mary in today’s post?

Herewith ends Day 34.  Things are amping up.






Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Religion, Spanish vocabulary, Travel

Polly Positive, Paragon of Virtue


Today I had coffee with Polly Positive.

With the exception of my Bible Study, my friendships in Ohio are compartmentalized.  I have about 3 friends that I meet up with for coffee or lunch.  Polly and I discuss all manner of topics – families, politics, religion – nothing is taboo.  We do not always see eye to eye but pretty close.

For Lent this year, her project was not to dump on her husband.  Apparently, he gets the brunt of whatever is bothering her, usually related to her family.  So, rather than be Negative Nellie, she morphed into Polly Positive.  Her husband has noticed.

With one exception, I have never heard Polly say anything negative about anybody.  So I was surprised when she started the conversation by saying that she was slightly irritated at her husband.   I then confessed my Proud Mary moment, about which only my youngest sister MCV knows.  (Frequently, I have a teeny tiny heart. I try to keep this to myself.)  

Polly is good at listening and sorting things out.  

But then she sort of rocked my world by providing me a different perspective on myself, a dose of truth serum.  She said that I was – and here I don’t really remember how she phrased it – but I think the word was “contained” (ok, it might have been “controlled”.  Whatever).   That I don’t ask others for help when I am in dire straits.


That is not how I see myself AT ALL!

But just to be safe, I had to ask myself if perchance, there wasn’t the slightest bit of truth in Polly’s observation.  Which, of course, there is.  Let me say here that I was not at all offended.  NOT AT ALL.  REALLY.

This seeming ability to appear “contained”,  I think, is a direct result of a) not wanting to burden others b) 17 years of living in countries where there is no 911 and  sorting out emergencies myself  c) chatting with God who gets the brunt of my cries for help  d) having a helpful family (blessedly) who always volunteers and e) former expat communities who saw needs and just jumped in.   MAINLY, I HAVE NOT HAD TO ASK FOR HELP.  UNTIL RECENTLY.

Polly Positive was my Marian apparition for today.  Don’t you think Mary would be a truth teller?  Are you good at asking for and/or receiving help?  Do a little bit of soul searching and get back to me so I am prepared to meet your future needs! Or not!

Finally, I have noticed that God also likes to get a jump on the next day’s blog post with the former day’s  title.  Talk about Our Lady of the Snows!  Also, this is not going to be a Bag on the Expat Princess Forum, friends.  Try and channel Polly Positive in your comments.  She will be making an appearance tomorrow.

Featured above are Nittany Kitten’s actual photos from the church, stained glass windows from the hospital where I recently had tests (ne freakez pas), and some of my flower vases.  I enjoy the commonality.

Herewith concludes Day 32.











Filed under Friends, Life, Misunderstandings, People, Religion

Our Lady of the Snows


I tried getting photos off my phone, sent in by Nittany Kitten, of Our Lady of the Snows in Sun Valley, Idaho.  When I can figure this out, I will update the space above.  Beautiful!  It reminds me of a small stone chapel in O’Cebreiro, Spain, both peaceful settings.

In other news, my nephew and godson is going to Gonzaga University in the fall.  He wants to live in the dorm named Madonna.

Herewith concludes Day 31.  Thanks to Nittany Kitten for sending Maryterial!


Filed under Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Religion, Sightseeing, Travel

Proud Mary Redux

God always likes to give me a little bit of rope with which to hang myself.   This morning this daily devotional from Biblegateway.com, an excerpt from C.S. LewisMere Christianity, arrived in my inbox.  Read here.  I just hope pride doesn’t go before the fall this time …  OUCH!

Lord, forgive me!

Herewith concludes Day 30.


Filed under Life, Mature, Reading, Religion