Archive for August, 2011


Born in a Barn

I often recall when I come upon certain situations a statement my father used to say all the time when we were growing up: something, something blah blah blah”…were you born in a barn?” You could actually add any statement to proceed the infamous born in a barn query…pick up your clothes ….., get your stuff out of the yard…. I can laugh at it now but back then we questioned the origins of our birthplace more than once.

These days I will be out walking in our neighborhood and come across little “piles” left by dog walkers on the sidewalk that are never picked up and I recall that old familiar statement (and some others too, that I would not care to print).
We have toilets to flush for us, we have automatic faucets, doors, towel and soap dispensers and hand dryers. We barely have to think at all anymore. In fact we can get so accustomed to this that we walk around in a daze like a zombie not really cognizant or aware of the trails we leave behind us. Using dressing rooms in department stores used to mean rehanging the clothes when  finished trying them on and even going so far as to return them to the rack set up for that purpose. (gasp!!) Not so much anymore- clothes are strewn about, dressing rooms are so full of discarded merchandise that the workers cannot keep up.

I seriously don’t know if there are enough barns to house all the people who behave as if they were not only born there, but never moved out.

Which brings me to this thought-one could say Christ was born in a barn, one of the most frequented, reverenced, and renowned barns of all.  Yet from those humble beginnings came our Savior and Redeemer. The single greatest man to ever walk the planet. What we see left in the wake of Christ is nothing resembling the things I mentioned above, but rather the scattered remains of love. He left behind healing, hope, faith, and wholeness; and these things transformed lives for the good.

So enough ranting- let’s stop acting like zombies  leaving trails of muck in the wake of our scattered lives and wake up live lives devoted to making the world a better place for us having gone there.

A Friday…

Life rolls on ready or not, prepared or not. How can we take the turmoil that hits us between the eyes, the unexpected twist, the drab routine at times…and turn it into a prayer, an offering, a means of salvation?
“Blessed be God” in every situation. “Jesus trust in You” in every worry. “My hope is in the Lord” in the terrors and storms.
It is so much simpler than we can comprehend. So take it from me-trust that the Lord is there whether you “feel” it or not. Give it all to Him. Entrust yourselves to God and see where it takes you.

Ever since moving back to Arizona in ’97, we have lived in the same neighborhood; quite a feat these days. Only a few houses were finished back then, and the desert seemed to begin right where our yard ended.

We had met on rare occasions, as our homes were being built, these strangers who would become our neighbors. Everyone seemed friendly enough as we tried to imagine what our new lives together might be like. We laugh now about those early assessments, when the kids were kind of squirrely, and it was easy to prejudge.

Move-in day boasted one hundred fifteen degrees and by the grace of God didn’t leave any of my siblings or their families with heat stroke. Sweat saturated our clothes and streamed down our faces much like the comical gags you see on TV.

Real love helps you move in, expecting nothing, even when it feels like you are moving into hell itself.

At last, I was back after living in Korea, Texas, New Mexico, Idaho, England, and nine years of freezing in Illinois. My husband was far less enthusiastic than I, since this move required that he commute to work. After dutifully following his “career” all over the world for seventeen years of our marriage, I was going to raise our family, near family. He was still going to be happily flying to destinations most folks dream about, so I wasn’t feeling that sorry for him.

So fast-forward to now. Our neighborhood is complete, and some homes have even had multiple owners. Those original neighbors we met so long ago are still here becoming more than just neighbors, they are friends. We occasionally host each other for meals, look after home and herd, and have watched our small children morph into young adults. We have laughed, cried, and supported each other through scorpions, javalinas, teenagers, roaming coyotes and the rare tarantula. (Yes, all those wild creatures are properly lumped together.) Standing collectively we have cringed as each new child received their driver’s license and drove off alone for the first time.

We come from a variety of faith backgrounds but share a common belief in taking care of our homes, families and neighbors. When news of my impending surgery reached their ears they snapped right into action providing us with meals, cleaning help, prayers, encouragement and hope. Even through this personal challenge I was given a gift to slow down, reconnect, and really appreciate the folks who have been beside us all this time. For years it seemed we were simply “waving blurs’ as we hurried in and out getting kids here and there. Our neighbor across the street will always recall fondly the time our family came home from a vacation in those early years. She happened to be watering her plants as our suburban pulled into the drive. Exhausted, frenzied children poured out of every opening. Finally emerging, our youngest daughter looked over at her and sighed, “That’s right, Mrs. Cross, the freak show is back!”

These strangers are more than neighbors and greater than friends. They have become like family to us. God placed us all together so many years ago, in this space and time and we have been touched, helped, loved and accepted, nurtured and embraced by each other. Isn’t that what we are all called to do, as we build here on earth strong families, communities and nations? Mutually respecting and treating each other with kindness as brothers and sisters in humanity and children of the most-high God.

Our little freak show is the fodder of many neighborhood tall tales, and a catalyst for lots of laughter. Looking back we all smile recalling those long lost days, yet, look forward to new adventures too.

Look around the world. Who is your neighbor? In God’s family there are no fences or boundaries, so reach out and make someone’s day brighter like so many others have done for you and me. For their love and generosity I am immensely grateful and forever changed and we all must go and do the same.

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 https://pouredmyselfoutingift.wordpress.com

Driving in Oven Mitts

It’s that time of the year in Phoenix, when we really do question why we live here. Could it be because it only gets down to ninety degrees at night, or perhaps because massive dust storms hit without warning?

I would suggest that it is something more fundamental than that: driving. I had every intention of getting a light colored car when we replaced the Studebaker last year, but no, I ended up with a black car detailed with pretty silver chrome. In November, you don’t think about what “chrome on black” does when it is one hundred and seventeen outside.

So how can I make the most of driving a kiln? Perhaps I should start driving with oven mitts?

Hopping in the car the other day, I burned my hand opening the door and my leg closing it. I sat there in my “oven on wheels,” air conditioner blasting my face like a blow dryer on high. Reaching up to get my silver rosary off the mirror, I scorched my fingers. If anything is going to act as a deterrent for Hades, it’s this place in the summer.

It occurred to me at that moment that I am going about this all wrong. I should be “making lemonade” or in this case lemon soup, out of lemons.

If I could outfit my car with some nifty solar panels, I bet I wouldn’t need to buy gas anymore. Furthermore, I could save tons of money on electricity at home, by simply drying our clothes in the back seat as I drove around town. Better yet, if I prepared dinner before leaving for work, I could set it right under the hood and bake it all day while my car sat in the parking lot. After all, I drive around in a Crockpot, might as well make good use of it.

Why stop there? I can dehydrate fruit in the trunk and at the same time grill burgers on the roof at lunchtime. I could have a little roadside café earning extra income to help pay the summer A/C bill. Now that’s using my brain cells before they evaporate.

I imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago in this heat, as the missionaries came over from Europe. No air conditioning, bottled water, or cold iced tea around every corner. Snakes, spiders, and scorpions as well as hostile natives who wanted nothing to do with them or their religious practices. More than ever I am so grateful for their sacrifices and abiding determination to bring Catholicism to Arizona.

Today I organized a tour of St Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, with a group of teens. Gordon, the choir director, spoke with such eloquence and passion of the rich history of that awe-inspiring Church. Over forty years it took to build the beautiful historic structure that we enjoy today. We got to go up in the choir loft and out onto the balcony where Blessed JPII stood as he addressed the faithful of Phoenix over twenty years ago. I felt a great peace as I pondered his presence walking up those very stairs. A modern-day, future saint, stood in the very place that I was standing.

So I ask that we all take some time and ponder the sacrifices of all those who for centuries faced persecution, deserts and jungles, violence and rejection so that we might have the beautiful churches and witnesses of faith that we sometimes take for granted today. Then sit there in those “sanctuaries and havens” and realize we are abundantly blessed to live in this time. Join me in thanking Almighty God for those strong, faithful, determined men and women who by His grace made beautiful places like St Mary’s possible for us today.

And then I have to wonder out loud what legacy will we be leaving for those who will follow after us?

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 https://pouredmyselfoutingift.wordpress.com