a thank you note to god

by Dolores Cameron

A dear friend of mine gave me a book of letters that his mother wrote, called A Thank You Note To God.​  In her letters, Dolores  wrote with beautiful words to illustrate how much she loved God:

"Dear Lord, thank you for the beautiful sunrays shining and glimmering through the trees last night. They were so beautiful... I have not forgotten you, I think of you constantly every day of my life. You are the most important person in the whole world to me. Thank you for everything--- just as it is my sweet Jesus"

​(Letters from June 29, and July 15, 1994).

Dolores constantly thanked God for her family and children, which encourages me to be a thankful mother too:

"​Thank you dear Jesus for everything--- just as it is. The way things are is the way You want them to be, whether they are bad or good in our eyes. I know You are always taking care of me and all my children and whatever happens is because You are allowing it to happen for our good. Thank you my dear sweet Lord. I trust you completely, always and forever"

​(June 8, 1994).

Thank you for your beautiful words, Dolores. I hope many people find a way to be as thankful and as beautiful as you.

(You can buy her book on amazon.com)


"You will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 4:7).​

"I was prayed over by three different people for physical healing. All three people gave me the same message from God: 'You are a rose among the thorns.' God did not heal my illness.  He chose to heal my soul and gave me strength that can only come from Him. God's healing of my soul was the most important choice."


a cross of roses

Pencil drawing by my sister, Christina

From Mountain Madness to Mountain Grandeur

by Rita Simmonds,

based on the Mexican Poppy painting by Carrie Bucalo

I left the violet mount “in secret, on a cold, dark night,”

I hoped to find my blissful side, the child I never met.

I fled for days of frolic; but skips were weighed with stone.

I could not leave the mountain; it caved inside my soul

majestic, proud and threatening—a bruised and throbbing mass,

an anchor and a sickness I could not heave or man.

I knelt from imposition. I begged beyond the clouds

defeated by injustice—the crime that kept me bowed.

“My Father, do you hate me?“ I screeched, and tore my clothes.

The mountain echoed, “Hate me!” A darkness pierced my own.

“Finished…It is finished.” I heard but couldn’t see.

A white and blinding brightness infused new sight in me.

An earthquake cracked the boulder that kept my heart entombed.

Strengthened like a soldier, I faced the twisted truth:

Like tumbleweed entangled, the lies rolled rootless on.

I walked the sandy desert; my steps made poppies bloom.

They waved their yellow petals in victory over thirst.

The sun set on the mountain; it’s purple turned to grace.

The sky takes from its grandeur and sweetens cotton clouds.

The child in me can wander in lavender and gold.

May 17, 2016

Rita A. Simmonds

Bunny Love & Mary beneath the Tree

Painting and Collage by Susan H. 

The Resurrection

Watercolor with pressed flowers and leaves, by Carrie Bucalo

The End of the rainbow in Sydney

Photograph by Justin Bucalo


by Rita A. Simmonds

(from her book Greeting the Seasons​, based onThe Nativity watercolor painting by Carrie Bucalo)

A sky so filled with constellations

at last displays the essential star.

We need decode no more

but simply follow what is most pronounced-

what we cannot help but heed.

We discerned a cross on the mountain top

still a long way off,

and thought that would be our aim

until we caught sight of a warm light

at the foot of the hill

seeming to rise to meet us

as we moved quickly toward

nothing but a family

huddled in a cove---

but we were explorers

and had to know

yet somehow couldn't ask.

The baby slept

the mother smiled

the father watched,

and held his staff.

No one said a word.

From science we learned to observe.

In silence we learned to adore.

We gave our gifts with trembling hands.

Our velvet knelt in straw.

The truth that ruled was plain to see---

we couldn't see it all.

The cross was still a long way off.

The star had led to light.

The journey to the mountain top---

An hour, not this night.

We headed back a different route.

The hour not this night.

-- Rita A. Simmonds

Jesus in the woods

photograph by Carrie Bucalo 

My friend, Deb, has gone through her own journey of faith-wounds, yet has found incredible peace and beauty in her home and faith life. Here is one of her first paintings. (A marvelous first painting)And here are her words about it:

"A writer by trade, I also love to craft. I am always dabbling in this or that; pouring myself out and receiving joy in return. Though I am not normally a painter, I have lately been learning to paint. With this Fall came a new year of nature study in our homeschool adventures. It lends itself perfectly to this venture. And I've been enjoying it immensely.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Something about the harvest invokes a deep sense of awe for life and its seasons. Life is so often a frantic, messy business. Yet in the midst
of all the stress and worry, fall is an invitation to a deeper connection with the world around me. My children and I head outside to enjoy the cooler weather. There I'm immersed in God’s heart. I see Him in the wisps of clouds; and the brilliant
color of our mountain; in the trees shrouding themselves in beauty before their long sleep; and in the providence of the harvest. I see Him in the curve of a pumpkin, the orange skin shining radiantly in the sun. There, is an invitation to rest. To take in the moment and capture, in my own way, the peace which is all around us."

~ Deborah Brenna, October 31, 2016

"One winter evening, as I was walking through the woods at sunset, God asked me: 'What do you see?' 

I said, 'I see beauty.' Then I asked God , 'What do you see?'  He said, 'I see Love.'"  

~Nancy Laughrige

​When life gives you pumpkins

Watercolor and reflection by Deborah Brenna

​Prayer for healing

Loving Savior, 

I ask for strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties I endure because of my wounds. 

I ask for renewed trust and faith in God the Father.

I ask for the strength and the gift of uniting myself more closely to your passion; to be consecrated to bear fruit, by my configuration to your holy cross.

I freely unite myself to your passion, death and resurrection, to contribute to the good of the entire People of God. 

I ask your Holy Spirit for the gift of healing,

and for the gift to glorify God the Father in my life.

I ask this through the intercession of my brothers and sisters, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Communion of Saints.


(Prayer based off the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1520-1523)

A Time for Prayer

Photograph by Carrie Bucalo 

rose among the thorns

Painting and reflection by Carolyn 

hermitage & girl in a garden

Paintings and Reflection by Susan H. 

My sister, Christina, and I battle through our faith-wounds together. We've been through a lot, but God has captivated our hearts through the beauty of art. Christina loves to draw, and I was so happy when she agreed to draw this piece for my website. Her cross, covered with roses and thorns is a great reflection of the journey we walk together, and I'm so proud to have her for a sister. Here are her words about this piece:

"A cross of roses, from the bottom of thorns, there is beauty which unfolds, into the light we hold."


"This is my hermitage: a place of peace and healing, growing, learning...how to be me after an abuse situation. Not just me, but who God wants me to be. 'This is the Garden of Life I have for you.' ​ But it takes time. Sweet, sweet peace of Jesus. At times elusive, hidden but if we keep totally connected to him- no matter what- He reveals what we need to know."

~ by Susan H. 

caught by christ

By Carrie Bucalo

Wednesday of Holy Week

         As Lent draws to a close, I feel completely unprepared for Easter. I've fallen short of my Ash Wednesday aspirations and desires. My morning prayers were more like a soldier's call in a war zone than the peaceful chants I once sang in the monastery; I relied on chocolate and soda to survive in the afternoons; and I missed Friday Stations of the Cross because I was too exhausted to wrangle my five small children into the church at the ungodly hour of five o' clock. I draw close to Christ today, only to discover a terrifying Gospel: Judas is caught by Christ in his betrayal, and dealt the harshest words I can imagine: Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.

​         These words are sharp and piercing, like a hook in my broken human condition. With sins, like Judas, I pull against the love of Christ, creating great divine tension. I question Christ's words. I fight my own doubts about him. But in the end, unlike Judas in this one way, I hold the tension of Christ's line. What happens next is mot unexpected indeed! I'm caught by Christ, the extraordinary fisherman, who spoke piercing words to fish for my faith: "Jesus, I trust in you."

Reflection based on Matthew 26:14-25

(THE MAGNIFICAT LENTEN COMPANION 2017, Published with Permission)

Mexican poppies at sunset

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

Wife, mother, artist, writer

Radiant Meadow

Watercolor and pressed flowers

by Carrie Bucalo

I painted this piece when I was a Carmelite nun. When I couldn't turn to God in prayer because of my faith-wounds, I found help in Our Blessed Mother. I wrote about my journey of faith in The Spiritual Journey of Healing,​ which you can download by clicking on the link below.

​beneath the cross

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

Benedict XVI's essay on sexual abuse in the catholic church

First, I'd like to thank Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, for his essay: The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse. This is the first time I have heard anyone in the Church's leadership recognize the need to include victims in the future of the Church. One of my deepest sorrows has been the feeling that the Church is willing to move on without me. I am a victim of sexual abuse by my lay minister Catholic father, who sexually, physically and emotionally abused me for the first eighteen years of my life. My father was a Eucharistic Minister, altar server, lector, usher, RCIA sponsor, Bible study leader, Marriage Enrichment Leader, (and the list goes on). He physically looked just like Christ and played the part of Jesus in our parish Passion Plays. Needless to say, I am deeply traumatized, and in order to keep my Catholic faith, I must face eighteen years of trauma. (My father is now serving a lifetime sentence in prison for sexually abusing my sisters and me).

My negative physical and emotional responses to Mass and the Sacraments make living my Catholic faith almost impossible. I would've turned and walked away a long time ago, but I unexpectedly fell in love with Christ in his Christmas Mystery, and recognized his helplessness in front of my pain. I decided not to abandon Christ. My whole life has been a difficult and painful expression of my love for God, and the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has made it even more traumatic and painful for me. But I am here. I show up to Mass every Sunday and I frequent the Sacraments, even though it feels like it might kill me. And I know there are others out there who are walking this same path with me. I would like for all of us to be included in the mind of the Church on earth. I don't want to be abandoned and forgotten. So I want to take this moment and thank Pope Emeritus, Benedict, for thinking of me, and all those who have been lost in the silence of the sexual abuse scandals. I know that the Church stands helpless in front of me, but I promise that I will continue living my life as a Catholic wife and mother, as an active, participating member of the Body of Christ. On my part, I refuse to leave God or the Church behind. 

A new beatitude

By Greg Cook, confiteorbenedictus@gmail.com 

The Nativity

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

​would you like to share your art, poetry, writing, photography, or video?

I'd love to hear from you.

my love for god

'Sacred Heart' watercolor by Carrie Bucalo 

This is a wonderful book of poems by my dear friend, Rita Simmonds. It is filled with deep Advent and Christmas expressions and emotions. I wish I could give this to everyone for Christmas this year! You can find it and order it, inexpensively, online at Amazon.com. 

Sunset, Florida, & Majestic Beauty

Paintings and Reflection by Nancy Laughrige

When I think of Christ at His resurrection, I see Him as being utterly creative. He rises; He breathes, He speaks; He moves. And life springs forth with His every step. His movement beckons for a greater imagination and belief in what is beautiful, and what is good.

"O, Lord, I cannot go any further on my own. I have tried my best to cooperate with your will because I love you. I do not possess the strength to reach you by my own means. I see that I cannot. You will have to do the rest. And if you are obliged to leave me here in this state until the day I die, then I understand  that to live the rest of my life in this place would not be a fault of mine, but rather, it would be a poverty that you will not despise. I am little and powerless, but for some mysterious reason, you have such pleasure to dwell in a heart that is poor. Therefore, I am content to remain with you here. Amen. 

Blessed are the powerless, for theirs is a foretaste of life’s end:
The infant, pushed out and into the world’s unfeeling sight;
The schoolboy, knocked around by bullying might;
The lover, defenseless against his beloved’s charms;
The soldier, pierced under orders through battle’s harms;
The advocate, defeated and overthrown by perjurer’s lies;
The washed-up, worthless and without status in his family’s eyes;
The senile, restrained like an errant pet and penned.

Blessed are the little ones, who find their way to Christ.
And eat the crumbs begrudged to them, taxed and over-priced.
Blessed are the honest, drawing hatred from all sides.
The prophet targets he who mocks and derides.

Blessed are the patient ones, who rise from falls each day.
More blessed are the simple ones, who delight in life and play.
O Lord bestow your blessings upon the powerless,
So we may hear You say: “My beloved—My great success.”

​Easter Morning Sunrise

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

healing rays

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

"Are we willing to love those who are not exactly like ourselves?" 

~Susan H. 

Prayer for the spiritually poor

By Carrie Bucalo

(from The Spiritual Journey of Healing)

40 Days in the desert

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

The living flame of love

by St. John of the Cross

Oh, living flame of love

That tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center,

Since you are no longer oppressive, perfect me now

if it be your will

Break the web of this sweet encounter.

Oh, sweet burn! Oh, delectable wound!

Oh, soft hand! Oh, delicate touch

That savors of eternal life and pays every debt!

In slaying, you have changed death into life.

"Oh, lamps of fire, 

In whose splendors the deep caverns of sense

Which were dark and blind with strange brightness

Give heat and light together to their Beloved!

How greatly and lovingly you awaken in my bosom,

Where you dwell secretly and alone!

And in your sweet breathing, 

full of blessing and glory,

How delicately you inspire my love! 

​​Greeting the seasons


by Rita A. Simmonds

First Communion in Bavaria

Photograph by Carrie Bucalo