Archive for July, 2011

This is the second year I have decided to invest in a home garden here in the desert. That means we start planting by late February or March when most places are still shoveling the nasty white stuff.

The only reason I toy with this fantasy has everything to do with what we did after the in-ground trampoline had bounced its last bounce. We filled in the space with real dirt. You know the kind the rest of the country takes for granted. You see here in the desert southwest we have rocks, with dust mixed in for giggles. When we agreed to have a trampoline in the first place, it was on the grounds (no pun intended), that a ground-level trampoline was safer. The kids got right to work with their little shovels and after an hour had accomplished nada.

Observing the locals, we decided a pick-ax would do the trick and only mom and dad were allowed to wield it. That lasted thirty minutes and we didn’t care if the four year-old swung it as long as there was visible progress. After a week we had made a hole the size of Malibu Barbie’s wading pool. We were losing heart, and the kids were conveniently unavailable. Week two, we saw some progress when dad got serious with the ax. The diameter extended to five feet around and a whopping six inches deep.

It was about that time I had a landscaper come by to make a bid on the yard. He took one look at my husband and said the magic words, “If you give me the job I will throw in digging the hole for free.” You would have thought Mark had won the lottery. The ax hit the dirt and it is history from there; but I regress.

So we have this lovely circle in the yard with authentic dirt, and shrewdly determine to grow our own produce. “Why not, think of all the money we will save.” A few trips to the store later, about a hundred bucks, and we are in business. Or so we think. Tomatoes need cages, grapes require a trellis and then there is the netting, fencing, and the gross amount of water needed to keep plants from turning to crust in the desert heat? Need I go on?

The first year we had no clue and netted a harvest fit for a mouse. This year, the birds beat us to the grapes although I did get to taste the last ten they left on the vine to tease me. Our tomatoes were a different story altogether. A rabbit found his way into our yard through a small design in the fence, and ate himself too fat to get out. I discovered that desert rabbits love tomatoes and ignore carrots and lettuce. Between the bunny and the birds they sampled most of the tomatoes, much like a kid samples a box of chocolates. Arr-gh!

I am pretty sure that if we divide the cost of everything into the harvest, we can happily say we dined on twenty dollar tomatoes. Even from a production and labor cost comparison, this happy experiment was a failure of seismic proportions.

What have I learned? Set traps next year and learn to cook rabbit, then we will have meat with our carrots.

Thinking about this from a spiritual perspective, I can imagine that we humans are the seeds God loving and expectantly plants here on earth. Each of us has such potential to grow and be fruitful and transform the area we are planted in. Trials and difficulties can come by and chew on us leaving us a little imperfect but stronger as we continue to grow and mature in the light of the Son. When we are ripe and have remained rooted in the vine, the master gardener will come and gently remove us and take us to the great banquet in heaven where He can show us off as the fruit of His unconditional love.

It is there I hope to see everyone; strong, perfect, beautiful and displayed in a dazzling array of unique and wonderful creations.

Barbara Lishko  is blessed to be a lifelong cradle-Catholic. She and her husband Mark, have been married for 30 years, and have five amazingly talented young adult children who are an abundance of inspiration for her weekly columns. Through her experiences as a wife, mother, and full time youth minister she shares her unique humor and insight with her readers. God continues to abundantly bless her life by allowing her the honor of serving as a tiny instrument in His Almighty hands. Barbara is a past recipient of the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Service Award given through the Diocese of Phoenix. Visit her blog at

Those Before Us

I set up a tour of St Mary’s Basilica today with our some of our teens. Gordon the Choir Director a wonderfully knowledgeable young man who hails from Scotland, presented the history of the Basilica with such passion and  joy it was hard not to be interested. The majestic stained glass windows and sound of the organ enraptured us in the mystery of faith.

We were invited to the choir to glimpse the great organ and back window of the Immaculate Conception, and then Gordon took us up the stairs to the balcony where Blessed JPII addressed Phoenix over 20 years ago. I felt as if I was walking on sacred ground and imagined what it was like in his presence.

Gordon spoke of the early missionaries that set the foundations of faith and ultimately the Basilica in Phoenix. Imagine the hardships they endured in the desert hundreds of years ago. We are so blessed for their sacrifices.

May we thank God for all of them. May we imitate their determination and great love so that generations from now others will be grateful that we did our part to add to the solid foundation already built by these.

Going Fourth

Today is not supposed to be only about picnics and fireworks. Today we really need to look back and ponder the immense sacrifice that others gave so that we CAN have picnics and fireworks and FREEDOM. I know a young man who is in the Marine bootcamp right now, he was raised by a single mom who did her best to love on him and bring him up. He signed up for the Marines not consulting anyone mid year his senior year of high school. Nothing could have prepared him for this experience. Nothing in his young life that had limited male leadership and influence. His letters to me spoke of the harshness of his instructors and how he wanted “out” so badly but no one would let him. I responded with letters that encouraged him and pointed out the strength it required to stay the course. The importance of prayer and relying on God in particular at this time and my faith in his ability to step up and find the man deep within.

So today is also about praying for those young men and women who cry at night in desperation wondering what in the world they have done, yet they stay the course and find in themselves the courage and strength to go the distance and become the next heroes that our nation depends on to protect and fight for our freedom even in the midst of the ungrateful masses.

Robert…I know you can do this and there are many of us  praying for you!!

Abundant Outpouring

“What can I do to help?” These words echoed again and again as news of my surgery rang through our Church, neighborhood, friends and family.

It is awkward being on this end of needing. I like being the giver. I am a Martha, and we like to be the do-ers. What I wanted more than anything tangible was prayers, and lots of them. I have learned from experience that prayer can work miracles and bring calm beyond human understanding. I didn’t freak when I got the news about the tumor, I didn’t scream and indict God, point fingers, or assign blame. Acceptance and calm pervaded my being all the way up until I lay on the operating table and slipped into la-la land. It was weird actually; I kept wondering when it would all “hit me.”

This is the supernatural gift that is the fruit of prayer; it pervades your being, grabs a hold and draws you into the tranquility and truth of trusting God. I imagined myself falling backwards into the waiting outstretched hands of the Father, where I knew I was safe…no matter what transpired. Even thoughts of death did not sever my serenity.

“No storm can shake my inmost calm when to that Rock I’m clinging,
if Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing.”

I do not write these words to brag or boast in myself, but only to give credit where it is due…God. Over and over we are reminded in Scripture; “Do not worry…” (Matt 6:25-31) “Have no anxiety at all… (Phil 4:6-7) “Do not worry about tomorrow… (Matt 6:34) “Cast all your worries upon Him… (1Pet5:7) “Anxiety in a man’s heart depresses it… (Proverbs 12:25). How often do we really believe these words, and trust these words? They are for our benefit, not God’s, and will only be as useful as we allow them to be.

One of the prayers that I found to be particularly helpful was given to me in the confessional by a Spanish priest and it is by a beloved Spanish Doctor of the Church, St Theresa of Avila.

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you,
All things pass, God never changes.
Patient endurance achieves all things,
God alone suffices.

I invite you to memorize this or any of the above Scriptures and recite them often. Share them with family and friends and anyone else who is fret with worry or fear. Make a plaque; write it on your wall, a stickie note, or a screen saver. The moment anything worrisome begins to creep into your thoughts, pray these and know that it will calm your fears, strengthen and protect you.

Life happens to all of us, trials, tribulations, fear… death are all part of the journey. God won’t give us more than we can handle, seriously. We just give ourselves so little credit at times. We are all here on the journey together and more importantly, we are not alone to work it out ourselves. I spoke about my surgery because I knew that together, our prayers are more powerful. Almost every day I would learn of how far away people I barely knew or didn’t even know at all were praying for me, even stretching over continents.

Wow, the Body of Christ coming together for the benefit of the Body of Christ; my suffering for them, their prayers for me. Together we grow stronger.

So stop worrying, it is a worthless waste of time and makes us sick. Give it over to the One who can actually do something about it. Don’t be afraid to ask others to pray for your intentions either, we love to do that, and at times, it is the only worthwhile thing we can do. May you comprehend the peace that transcends all human understanding and the joy in knowing that your heavenly Father really does “have your back.”


Barbara Lishko