Every Life Brings Love

Today, January 24, we celebrate our third child Genevieve’s birthday. Eleven years ago today, I held my newborn baby with tears in my eyes as I watched the March for Life taking place in Washington D.C. My heart was overcome with emotion as I cradled her in my arms and fed her, so thankful for the new life I held close to my heart.

I can only imagine the fear an unplanned pregnancy would bring to any mother who found herself pregnant, yet not feeling able to provide for the child she carried within her. By God’s grace, I was married and we were ready to welcome and support our children when they arrived; yet I realize that not every pregnancy comes at the most opportune time. To these mothers, we offer our daily prayers, support and love and say, as President Trump said today at the 2020 March for Life, “Every life brings love!” God has a way of helping us through the most difficult and heart-wrenching situations and bringing good out of every hardship, if we only trust him and follow his will for our lives and for the life of every unborn child.

St. John Paul II so beautifully addressed us, “America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”

Winning the Game of Life

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

My children (and husband!) really like video games. Although I often discourage this addictive habit in favor of them choosing to be active and play outside, I must admit there are times when an exciting round of Legend of Zelda or Animal Crossing has brought our family together, in the same room, and provided evenings of family entertainment. Recently, the winter weather and a bout of a flu-like illness resulting in several sick days has given us opportunities for several rousing video game marathons in our living room. I realized that gaming is not all bad, as it brought us together, in one room, for some family fun and healthy competition. Upon examination, I was even able to draw some parallels between the video game world and the pursuit of the spiritual life.

In video games, there is usually a conflict of good versus bad; a battling of opposing forces. Similarly, in life, we battle the destructive forces of evil in the forms of the world, the flesh, and the devil, in our daily lives. We are reminded of the battle between St. Michael and the devil in Revelation: “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” (Rev 12:7-8) We must be on guard against the temptations and pitfalls that can lead us astray from God and living a holy life. As in gaming we try to destroy the evil forces that threaten our survival, in the spiritual life, we work diligently every day through prayer, the sacraments, and living good lives, to attack and eliminate the temptations of the devil in our lives, and our own vices and faults, so that we can become more Christlike.

In gaming, as in life, we are working toward an ultimate goal. We are pursuing a victorious end – to win the game and obtain a triumph or successful end. We can and should look at our lives as a pursuit of the ultimate goal of heaven. It takes commitment and perseverance to achieve this goal and it is not achieved easily. We give time and attention to our relationship with Jesus and work diligently toward becoming saints so that we can win the crown. St. Paul encourages us to compete well to the end to win the prize of heaven. “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. (1 Cor. 9:24-25) Are we disciplining ourselves daily and keeping our eyes on the “prize” – to achieve the ultimate reward, life in heaven with God?

When playing video games, you are usually given several lives, or chances, to obtain the objective of the game. In his great mercy, God also extends many opportunities for us to rise and begin again when we fall. One of the greatest gifts we have as Catholics is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we can be cleansed of our sins and begin again. In essence, we receive a “new life” with which we can start over after every defeat. As Our Lord instructed St. Faustina,“Tell souls where they are to look for solace, that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated.” (Diary #1448) When we approach the confessional, we receive a chance to begin anew with a clean slate and to correct our sins and faults through penance and a change of heart.

Even though I wish my children would opt more often for active pastimes, I am trying to look on the bright side and see the benefit of sitting indoors and working a Nintendo controller on days when there are no alternatives. I have loved basking in our warm living room this wintry season with my family, experiencing the time we have together. Despite my hesitation and misgivings, we have certainly created some special moments that I will fondly remember.

Our Lady of “Quick Help”

Replica of the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, St. Pius X Church, Lafayette, Louisiana

In this age of immediate gratification, our phones are updated, information is received, and goods and services are delivered, quickly, if not instantly. In the blink of an eye, our physical needs are met. We forget, however, that God can meet our spiritual and physical needs quickly – in an instant, if he wishes to. He often does so through the prayers and intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Today, January 8, we honor Mary under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, or “Quick Help,” and, as we remember instances of her speedy and miraculous intercession, we are reminded to call on her in our times of need.

The title dates back to 1727, when a devotion to “Notre Dame de Prompt Secours” spread among the Ursuline Sisters and the people of New Orleans, who invoked her for protection and assistance. In 1812, facing a horrific fire which was consuming the city of New Orleans, the Ursuline nuns, in a desperate act of faith, placed a small, gold statue of Our Lady in the window of their convent facing the fire and pleaded, “Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us or we are lost!” Suddenly, the wind changed direction and the convent was miraculously saved.

Three years later, during the Battle of New Orleans, in which the Americans were greatly outnumbered by the British, these same nuns stormed heaven for a victory. They received word during Mass on the morning of January 8, 1815, that the American troops, under the leadership of General Andrew Jackson, had managed an astounding defeat over the British. Once again, the quick answer to prayer was credited to the Blessed Virgin, under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. To thank Our Lady, the nuns promised to celebrate a Mass on the anniversary of the victory, January 8, a tradition which continues today.

Because of the miraculous intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, she has been declared the patroness of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The crowning of the miraculous statue was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1874. Pilgrims visit the exquisite statue today in New Orleans at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on State Street.

These stories of long ago can serve to inspire and encourage us to seek the powerful and speedy help of Mary in all of our needs and petitions. She is still the same vigilant mother interceding for her children with Jesus and obtaining timely answers to our prayers, if only we call out to her in faith and trust as the Ursuline nuns did years ago. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, she is still today invoked as “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” As she assented to her role in God’s Plan at the Annunciation and faithfully fulfilled her purpose standing by the Cross, she continues her mission today. “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation …” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 969)

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!

Gethsemane and Advent – Preparing Our Hearts through Prayer and Fasting

Image by falco from Pixabay

Years ago, I received an unusual visit from a woman selling religious prints. On her suggestion, I purchased an image of Jesus kneeling in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. I kept the picture and wondered about its significance over the years. Only later did I understand its relevance to my life.

Today I see this image of the Agony in the Garden as God as a sign of God preparing and strengthening me for the difficulties I would encounter on the road ahead of me. Obtaining the picture was a reminder to me to continue to be faithful to prayer and fasting as a means of preparing for the future. The scene of Jesus in the Garden is normally associated with Lent and the preparation for Good Friday and Easter. How can the remembrance of the Agony in the Garden apply to the season of Advent? As Jesus retreated from the world to the Garden to prepare in prayer for his darkest hour, there are times in life when we are called to wait and pray in preparation for the events of life so we can gather strength and courage to do God’s will. Advent is a time of prayerful preparation for the coming of the Infant Jesus into our hearts at Christmas. Just as Jesus withdrew from the world to prepare for his Passion, the Church invites us to take time to retreat from the busyness and bustle of the commercial aspect of Christmas to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation through prayer and sacrifice.

At times, the path of silence and contemplation can seem to be a difficult and lonely one. Jesus experienced loneliness and anxiety when he discovered that his closest friends were asleep while he prayed to the Father in the Garden. While the world tells us to find our joy in constant noise and activity around the Christmas season, we hold a priceless secret – that true peace and joy are to be discovered in Him alone. We find this peace and joy when we follow St. Teresa’s of Avila’s advice and frequently “take time to be alone with him who we know loves us” through prayer. Only when we commit to time with him will we be able to hear his voice and recognize the many ways he communicates with us through the working of the Holy Spirit. If we commit to daily reflection during the Advent season, our hearts will be prepared to welcome Jesus at Christmas time.

John the Baptist exhorts us, in the gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (Matt 3:2) and to Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Matt 3:3) The gospel reading from Matthew for the First Sunday in Advent also emphasizes urgency and reminds us to watch and pray to be ready for the coming of Christ. The reading concludes with the passage:

Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Matt 24:42-44)

In addition to time for prayer, fasting is an important component of preparation and “staying awake” for the coming of the Child Jesus at Christmas. Most of us are blessed with everything we need and more; we experience abundance without the pain of poverty and need that the less fortunate in the world experience. It is necessary to make conscious sacrifices and to deny ourselves of some conveniences and sense pleasures during the season of Advent to remain fully awake and aware of the voice of the Lord speaking in our hearts. When we make sacrifices and experience need and deprivation, we unite ourselves with Mary and Joseph in their poverty, as they traveled to Bethlehem and as they searched for a place to welcome the Christ Child.

When I see the image of Jesus in his Agony, it still today reminds me of the necessity of prayer and penance at all times, but especially in times of preparation, as in Lent and Advent. Through prayer and fasting, we are purified from the effects of sin and remain open and ready for God to bless us with his gifts of peace during the Advent season and at Christmas. Let us prepare our hearts and encourage our families to do the same as we await with joyful anticipation the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

Being Simon to Others

Image by VisionPic.net from Pexels

“As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.”

Matthew 27:32

Recently, I came across an inspirational sign which caught my eye that read, “Slow down, happiness is trying to catch you.” Those words resonated within me and reminded me of my own need to slow down and to be alert and fully present in the current moment, instead of mindlessly forging ahead with whatever projects and goals I may have set for myself. So often we rush around, pursuing our own plans, instead of slowing down to listen to the Holy Spirit’s soft whispering. What we fail to realize is that peace and true happiness will only be found in God’s will, which, very often, we ignore or miss in our hectic pursuit of success and achievement.

The last two weeks have been challenging, as my second daughter, who has a diagnosis of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, had a setback and has been home from school, struggling to deal with her diagnoses and the additional burden of depression. These two weeks I have had to let go of my routines and plans and slow down to a crawl to accompany her as she recovers and learns how to cope with life carrying all of these heavy burdens, along with her schoolwork and other responsibilities. I realized that I had been rushing ahead with my life, not fully aware of the extent of the hardships she faces from day to day, trying to survive in a world that is too fast and complex for her to keep up. Although we have tried to meet all of her needs at home and school, I realized she needs more intense care and support than we have been giving her.

This time with her has been a blessing, as I have found happiness and joy in spending quiet moments with her and have been able to appreciate the beautiful soul that she is, and to be thankful that God has gifted our family with her. I felt like Simon the Cyrenian, who was chosen to trudge slowly and painfully through the dust with Jesus as he carried his Cross. I wondered if Simon had to slow down prayerfully to respond to the promptings to the Holy Spirit that lead him to that fateful spot, where he was given his momentous task of assisting our Savior and providing relief to him as he walked the Way of the Cross. Surely, Simon had to sacrifice his own will and plans to assume the duty of carrying the Cross with Jesus. Similarly, we are called to surrender our will and our plans to the Divine Will so we can serve others and cooperate in God’s plan for our lives.

I am thankful to God for the opportunity to be Simon to our daughter, shouldering some of the burden of her heavy crosses for her and hopefully easing some of her pain and suffering. Each of us has the opportunity every day to slow down and find a suffering soul in need of a Simon to help – someone who needs us to lean on or to look to for comfort, aid, or companionship. So many people are suffering spiritually and emotionally in our world; how can we reach out to those around us in need each day? There are people all around us, in our homes, within our families, and among our friends, who are quietly suffering and need a helping hand or a warm embrace. As mothers, we have built-in opportunities to minister to our children daily and help each of them to carry their own unique crosses.

Mother Teresa told us to “find our own Calcutta,” where we can bring Christ to others. “Giving drink to the thirsty” can involve more than a cup of water. It can be a visit to the lonely, a word of comfort to the sorrowing, or simply lending an ear to listen to someone who is hurting. When we identify the suffering souls in our lives and reach out to them with love and care, we are serving as the hands and feet of Christ to them. This is true happiness and joy – not to acquire more money, possessions, status, or power, but to serve others and receive the grace that comes with imitating Christ in our lives. Who are the suffering souls in your life, and how can you be Simon to them today?

Worrying and the Laundry

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

If you are like me, managing all of the tasks and difficulties of each day can lead to tension and stress. I am usually not the calm, collected one of the family, and I often turn to family members for advice and help when I am overwhelmed with stress. 

My husband has a unique talent of coming up with appropriate and descriptive analogies. When there is a problem or a situation he wants to explain, he is always quick to create an analogy that puts everything into perspective and helps me to understand the situation better. Recently I presented him with a number of pressing problems I was dealing with. In typical overreactive fashion, I had become overwhelmed with the gravity of it all. He calls this lumping everything into one giant catastrophe the “snowball.” 

He asked me what the first thing I do when attempting to wash clothes is. I responded that when I tackle the laundry, the first thing I do is to sort the clothes. I started to see where he was going with this. When overwhelmed and anxious over life’s worries and problems, the best thing to do is to sort them out – to make a list of them and examine each one, one at a time, and come up with a course of action or a solution for each one individually. In this way, rather than become frustrated and hopeless about the enormity of the collective mess of difficulties, I can break it down into smaller, more manageable problems. 

This skill of compartmentalizing problems definitely doesn’t come naturally to me. I tend to become overly emotional and overwhelmed when life gets stressful. This lesson of listing problems and solving them individually has helped me to manage my stress and become calmer and more productive over time.

Following the laundry analogy, another step I take before washing the clothes is to find the really tough stains and pretreat them with stain remover. Prioritizing the more urgent problems is the next step in the problem-solving strategy. After making a list of tasks or problems, we can prioritize the ones that need immediate attention and set to work solving them first. Then we can move on to the less urgent needs of our families. The more difficult problems often require more time and effort, like the tougher stains. 

Scripture tells us to “have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 4:6-7) This is not always easy to do. We often worry when we feel out of control of a situation. Jesus repeatedly offered his disciples peace and told them to be not afraid. He offers us the same peace and freedom from fear if only we learn to trust in him and to give up trying to control every aspect of our lives. As St. Pio of Pietrelcina advises us, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

Jesus never promised that the vocation of motherhood would be without challenges and problems. However, he did promise to remain with us and help us through any difficulties that arise. He gives us our husbands to help and guide us in our journey as mothers. I am thankful that my husband always provides me with a helpful analogy, or even a hug and a kind word, when I need one. I know with his help, and the help of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and the saints, I can sort through all of the difficulties of family life and conquer any challenges that arise. 

Lessons from Toy Story 4

Toy Story fans will enjoy the latest in the series, Toy Story 4. Several weeks ago, we took our children to see the movie when it was in the theater and we all enjoyed it. In the movie, the toys have been passed along to a new “kid,” Bonnie, who becomes attached to a makeshift toy she creates on her first day of kindergarten, forgetting the rest of her toys.  Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang encounter adventure on a road trip with the family, finding meaning and hope and rediscovering an old friendship with Bo Peep and making new friends along the way.  Built into the plot are ample lessons for young and old alike.

Buzz Lightyear and the Inner Voice

When summoned to find and rescue his friend Woody, Buzz Lightyear hesitates and becomes unsure how to help. The answers come when he remembers to press the button on his space suit which activates his voice box, which directs him on which steps to take.  Throughout the movie, Buzz is instructed by his “Inner Voice,” which leads him to come to the aid of Woody and the other characters.  The “Inner Voice” is like our own conscience and the subtle voice of the Holy Spirit which guides and directs us when we remember to attend to it.  Instead of rushing ahead without contemplating the consequences, Buzz remembers to consult with his conscience, and the Holy Spirit, as we should in all circumstances. Do we often forget to pause and ask God for direction and guidance before forging ahead with our first instinct? Buzz’s attentiveness to his “Inner Voice” is a lesson for all of us to pray for the counsel of the Holy Spirit before all of our decisions and actions.

Following the Narrow Path

The instructions he receives are not always easy to follow and choose.  In one scene, Buzz is told to leave Woody, who stubbornly refuses to listen to reason.  Not wanting to abandon his friend and hoping for a different answer, Buzz presses his button over and over again in search of an easier solution, but the voice continues to tell him to return to Bonnie and the other toys.  At times, God asks us to do difficult things, to give up people or habits which draw us away from him. The road of Christianity requires us to take the less-traveled path. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matt 7:13-14)  If we ask for direction in prayer and through good spiritual direction, and are obedient to the “still, small voice” which is God directing us, we can be confident that he will lead us on the right path, as challenging and sacrificial as this path can sometimes be.

God’s Not Finished with You Yet

Throughout the movie, Woody struggles with no longer being the “favorite” toy and finding meaning and purpose for his life. Being overlooked by Bonnie, he distracts himself with continually rescuing Bonnie’s new “favorite” toy and returning her to Bonnie. We may often feel like Woody in life: overlooked, abandoned, rejected by others. We should remember that Jesus never said this life would be easy and that we would not be loved and accepted by all when we choose the narrow path of discipleship. We may flounder around, searching for meaning in our lives when relationships change and we are replaced or find ourselves as outsiders. We can trust that God is always with us, guiding us, and watching over us as the apple of his eye. He loves each of us as if we are the only person on earth with an love unequaled by any human. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain my faithful love for you.” (Jer. 31:3) When we deepen our relationship with him, we experience his support and compassion and realize that his is the greatest love of all.

A Mission for Everyone

Woody reunites with his old friend Bo Peep, and, although their lives have taken different paths, they help each other to discover happiness. The lesson for Woody and for us is that we are all special and loved by God, and he has a mission and a purpose for each of us, if we are open to finding and following it.  This lesson is especially relevant for those of us who are getting older and leaving youth behind, especially parents whose children are leaving home.  We can wonder what our purpose is once the nest is empty, but God assures us that he can use each of us to serve him and others if we are open to serving and following his will for our lives.  We are never too old or too far gone for God to use us.

Lessons in Love

In Toy Story 4, Buzz and Woody, the main characters are not the A-list celebrities they once were. They have aged and are learning new lessons in life and love. They teach us about loyalty, compassion, self-giving, and love and friendship.  They also teach us about humility and sacrifice, as they work to give of themselves and help the other toys. The movie is primarily for children but is heartwarming and entertaining for all ages.

Image by cleber true23 from Pixabay 

Making Time for Play Time

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

Our family attended the One Faith One Family Conference held near Mobile, our hometown, this past weekend. It was a wonderful day to be together, enjoying each others’ company and learning more about how to strengthen our family life while growing in our faith as well. The speakers were Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, popular speakers and hosts of More2Life Radio. Dr. Greg Popcak is also the founder and Executive Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute.

One of the subjects of their talks that most impressed me was the need to incorporate adequate play and recreation time together into family life. I realized that at this phase in our family’s life, we have put relaxation and play time on the back burner. We are so focused on prayer, work, and study, that we often forget to relax and have down time. Our society in general is often overly fixated on the end results of success and achievement and fails to remember the importance of the journey. Even in sports, there is so much focus on training kids to become winners that we lose sight of the fact that they are still kids, and these are games that should be fun for them and help them to learn teamwork, camaraderie, and good sportsmanship.

In their talk, the Popcaks emphasized the value of family play time as a mechanism to help teach a healthy relationship to fun. Life is not all work; even in monastic communities there is scheduled time for recreation and relaxation. Families need to rediscover the art of “wasting time together,” according to Dr. Greg and Lisa, and recapture the fellowship and companionship that flourishes when they enjoy games, play, and other recreative activities.

The whole conference had an emphasis on play time as necessary for family life, with the title of the conference being “The Family that Plays Together Stays Together.” One of the contents of the parting gift bag that we received was a simple deck of cards, which has provided lots of fun for our youngest daughter and me, as we have been challenging each other in card games since the weekend. Last night, we all settled into an impromptu family game night, complete with popcorn, which was a welcome respite from the daily grind and much needed as the children prepare to return to school next week.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that Sundays are an ideal time to retreat from the usual activities of the day and enjoy play:

Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2184)

Whether it is playing board games, going for a walk or a bike ride, or just enjoying each others’ company, let’s remember to make time for family play time this and every week.

A New Path

I am so blessed and honored to begin writing for catholicmom.com in August! In addition to my column at Patheos Catholic, I will be contributing articles to the Catholic mothers’ website. I have enjoyed articles, tips and ideas from the site over the years and can’t wait to become a contributor. Catholicmom.com is an excellent source of wisdom from women who desire to live out their vocation as mothers by leading their families to Jesus and, ultimately, to heaven.

Now that two-thirds of my children have entered a new phase of life, that of the teenage years, I can look back over the past fifteen years of motherhood and see the victories and defeats, the triumphs and the challenges. I have learned so much from other, more experienced mothers who have helped me along the way. I hope I can share some of what I have learned with others.

The road of motherhood is not an easy road. It is paved with sacrifice and sometimes anxiety and hardship, but it is a most joyful and rewarding path to take in life and one I am so blessed and thankful to be on. I have certainly not done it perfectly so far and will not be a faultless parent in the future. I only know that I have tried to give 100% to my husband and three daughters over the years and continue to put forth that effort each day.

Leading us on the road is Our Blessed Mother, who was the perfect mom and who intercedes for all of us mothers in our needs and struggles. By entrusting our families to her loving care, we can have confidence that we have the protection and care of the greatest mother ever, one who is so close to her Son Jesus in heaven that she is the most powerful intercessor with him for all of our needs and desires. When we give her our cares and worries, she brings them to Jesus and obtains blessings and favors for us in line with his will.

Each of us have managed to make it this far in this unpredictable quest called motherhood. With the help of Jesus and Mary and all of the saints, and under the guidance of our Mother the Church, we can complete our mission of getting to heaven and bringing our families with us. All it takes is faith, hope, and a whole lot of love.

Welcoming Spring at the Festival of Flowers

The theme for the 2019 Festival of Flowers is Dutch Gardens. A colorful, azalea-lined canal and windmill serve as a striking centerpiece for the scenic landscape.

Where do you find a blogger who loves flowers as much as I do on the first week of Spring? At the Festival of Flowers in Mobile, Alabama, of course! Every variety and color imaginable are crafted into elaborate and fragrant displays.  This year’s theme is Dutch Gardens, a picturesque array of azaleas, hydrangeas, weeping willows, and of course, tulips set in a colorful Dutch countryside scene, complete with winding canal, 24-foot tall windmill, and working water wheel.

This is the 26th year for the festival, hosted by Providence Hospital Foundation each year as a fundraiser for the hospital.  The first show was held at Spring Hill College in Mobile by a nun and a group of men, and continued there until it moved to its present location at the Providence Hospital Campus. The proceeds this year will help to purchase defibrillators for the hospital’s cardiac unit.  Not only does the fundraiser benefit the staff and patients of Providence Hospital, but this year lead designer Catherine Cannon Arensburg has incorporated a project to involve at-risk youth in the creative effort of the show.  Young artists from NEST of Mobile and the Strickland Youth Center were able to tap into their creative abilities and contribute their talents to design and paint a large mural that is a beautiful attraction at the festival.

Festival of Flowers Lead Designer Catherine Cannon Arensburg (center), Marian Lormand (right), and me pictured at the NEST of Mobile Mural

Catherine says the preparation for the festive was a nine-month collaborative effort between the designers and all other participants.  The hard work definitely paid off, as the colorful showcase is delighting visitors with the floral displays and events for people of all ages.  Featured speakers will conduct seminars throughout the weekend, vendors are present for shopping and concessions, and awards will be presented on Saturday for the Photography and Art Contests.  The weekend will conclude with a Family Fun Day on Sunday.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Festival of Flowers, accompanied by my dear friend Marian Lormand, who happens to be the sister of lead designer Catherine Cannon Arensburg.  She gave us a semi-private tour of the gorgeous landscape and answered all of our questions about the setting and particular flowers featured in the exhibits.  The weather was perfect, and it turned out to be a lovely way to welcome the season of spring.  I would definitely recommend making a visit to the festival if you are in the area of Mobile in March! 

Dutch floral market display with an array of flowers for viewing and purchase