Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nine Very Blessed Years


It was nine years ago today that the Lord brought us together in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. As I look back on those years, I can hardly believe all the Lord has done in our lives. Most significantly, he has blessed us with seven precious souls all of whom we have offered back to Him, two of whom He has already chosen to gather to Himself. We have moved from our one-bedroom apartment in trendy downtown Excelsior, Minnesota, to a small town home in suburban Chanhassen, and then later to our humble home in Coon Rapids. And now, after a short stint living with Brendan's gracious parents, we have moved into the home we have dreamed about from the early days of our marriage.

We have been exhausted as Brendan completed his Master's program and then later became Dr. Brendan Koop. We have been overjoyed at the births of each of our children and have been blessed to watch them grow. We have grieved together with the losses of two sons and have learned to trust in God's Divine Providence. Our two choleric temperaments have locked horns and refused to budge. We have recognized our weaknesses, through God's abounding grace, and we have changed hearts and moved forward.

We are confident that the Lord has much more in store for our lives. Joy, and yes, likely some sorrow. In the early days of our relationship we claimed Psalm 37:4 as our own. We have found in these nine years of blessed marriage that the Lord would remind us many times of the psalmist's words: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Monday, June 21, 2010

A small logistical item in preparation for baby Francis...

Old family vehicle...
New family vehicle...

Yes that's right, we finally fit in at our parish now that we own a 12-passenger van. The minivan just wasn't going to fit five car seats, especially three in the back seat, and there's really no point in getting a van that seats 8 people -- one more child and that will be at capacity too. We really had to stretch to get this van with all of the home expenses, but pending repairs on the minivan made it doubly a necessity. The Lord helped us with a good find; a 2006 van that was 4 figures in price with 126,000 miles on it (a lot) but miles that were due to it being a rental van. It was rented to church groups for mission trips and other similar trips, so it's almost all highway miles. It runs very well and has a full maintenance history. 

The kids love it, and call it "Big Momma." We also call it the "Koopliner." Aidan is insisting on sitting in the furthest back sear right now to make sure he has enough space.

Molly would like to do an update post on Francis soon; he's doing very, very well praise God. His parents aren't quite as steady as he is. These last 5 weeks will be very long with lots of overstress and panic attacks about heartbeats and movement, etc. due past experience with Henry. We are ready for it to be over and him to be out with us. Praise God that He is in control.

On a totally unrelated subject, we got back from a trip bowling for Father's Day and saw three baby raccoons down in the grass between our house and the neighbors to the north. Raccoons are not necessarily the best animals to have around, but there was no denying these babies were ridiculously cute! They climbed a tree but didn't seem to care about us at all, we just walked right up to say hi (no idea where mom and dad raccoon were). They hung out while we took a few pics (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A procession to worship our Lord...


This past Sunday was the feast of Corpus Christi and our parish, the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, MN, held its annual Eucharistic procession (a good overview of a Corpus Christ procession is here if you are interested). Children who have received their first communion recently are encouraged to wear their dresses and suits and participate in the procession, and Clara was SO excited to do this! Even better, she and her friend Julia got to lead the procession and drop flower petals ahead of the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I mentioned in the last post, we misplaced our camera battery charger (just found tonight!) and so I am shamelessly borrowing some photos from friends who organized the procession and took lots of pictures. Thanks to Sue and Holly!

It is always a profound blessing and experience to worship Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Memorial Day weekend to remember...


This past Memorial Day weekend, we traveled southwest of the Twin Cities about two and a half hours through the scenic Minnesota River Valley to get to the tiny town of Searles (the "s" at the end is silent) just outside of New Ulm for a special occasion. A good friend of ours has been discerning a vocation to the religious life for some time with other young women, always known to us and our kids as "the Handmaids." In addition to our friend, we got to know many of the handmaids through my brother Evan, a seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary. The handmaids lived in household near the seminary and we often met them at seminary functions. 

In a wonderful work of the Holy Spirit, the Handmaids were invited by the Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm to form a new order of religious sisters, now named the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus. Just recently four of the Handmaids took their religious vows (a few pics are below), and only a few weeks afterward three more followed.

In the row of new sisters, third from the left is our friend (formerly Megan), now Sister Magdelena Marie of the Trinity. On the far right is the new foundress of the order (formerly Clare), now Mother Mary Clare of the Heart of the Father. We've gotten to know Mother Mary Clare over the years as well, especially as Clara has always enjoyed talking with her due to their shared patron saint. 

Mother Mary Clare takes her solemn vows.

Praise God!

Memorial Day was an open house at the new Convent for the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, and it was glorious! You don't get any more "apple pie" than this set-up: Roughly 75 degrees and sunny, seven newly consecrated sisters of a new order (complete with awesome and well-designed habits), a baseball game between the town of Searles and a neighboring town on a "field-of-dreams" baseball field complete with a cornfield as the end of the outfield, and a gigantic pot luck right next to the town Catholic church and the baseball game with dozens of great people from Searles and the Twin Cities that made the trip. We even saw our own parish pastor at the pot luck, and many other good friends. 

Alas, we have lost our camera battery charger and I was kicking myself the whole time for not being able to take pictures! Here's a Google Maps view of the little town of Searles, where you can see the baseball field, and next to it (to the east) the church, and the new convent (formerly the parish rectory) just to the south of the church.

During the get-together, some of the sisters took a group of people across a rolling pasture of a neighboring farm and down to a river near the town where the sisters will often spend their individual prayer time. I took three of the kids with me, including Max, who insisted on yelling and pointing out every small animal and bug he saw. As we walked across the pasture I asked one of the sisters if they ever had to resist the urge to spread her arms out, twirl around, and break out in "The hills are alive, with the sound of music!" She said "yes, but after the first time you accidentally step in a cow pie, it's not quite the same." :-) 

Here's a view of the town where you can see the river we walked to (to the northwest):

And the one picture we coaxed out of our camera is below, Clara with Sister Magdelena:

Searles, MN is very blessed to have these holy women doing God's work in their town!