A Shepherd Cries


Kyrie eleison

A shepherd cries

A shepherd cries

On earth and in Heaven

You abide

You abide


A king and a Savior

The world divides

A shepherd cries

A shepherd cries


All earth and dominion

Above us cry

A shout for joy

The angel sings

In my heart rings

A stable and manger

A baby cries

A baby cries


My heart and longing

For You abide

So long as I try

So long as I try


Hear me in the morning

I want to obey

To hear You say

These words in my soul


“Let go of your mourning

Let all the world cry

I hear you cry

I hear you cry

You’re mine, all mine

Until the end times


Your love and your humanness

Mine, Divine

Are mine, Divine”


The words of the shepherd

I long to hear

The shepherd cries

The shepherd cries


Sweet love and affection

Within your soul

I long to know

I long to know


Your sweet Resurrection

Awaits me here

So shall I hear


A love and a future

Not far away

To hear You say


A melody of lonely

My soul adheres

To feel You near


Echoes of longing

Within my soul

I’ll never let go


My heart sends warning

Of times unknown

You let me know

You won’t let go


A walk through the desert

You’re far away

You long to stay


“Yet songs in the evening

My heart adores

Be with me

Be with me


Goodbye to the longing

Of earth below

I sit near

I want to hear


The children in playing

With blocks and clay

The earth obeys

The earth obeys


Yet in the morning

Blackbirds crow

And then you go


Come home and forever

My love you’ll be

You and We Three


No longer will shepherds

Cry out in grief

For you’ll have Me”



The Crown of My Thorns


Come forth from my Soul

The Lord’s delight

A whisper of love

The heart content

The song of a bird

You whisper sweetly

Like a lullaby

I’ve heard you once

To quell my cry

You love me softly

You cradle me close

The love of my life

The Crown of my thorns

The tearing desire

You whisper gently

And mend the pain

Sweet song of mine

Sweet love of Yours

You hear me crying

You echo my words

“Come to me, my child

Listen to me, my Words

Are softer than silk

And sweeter than honey

I delight when you hear Me

When you open your eyes

Not these of your body

But the eyes of your soul

To listen to the stillness

To swallow your pride

Be still in my Presence

I won’t say a word

But you will have peace

A clearness, in subtlety

Make way for my Presence

I’ll light a candle there

To watch in the night,

A Star will appear

Just say my name, Jesus

I hear

Let go of your worries

Let go of your fear

My Presence will kindle deep within your soul

I’ll never forget you

Be mine

Let go of control

Clearing the Way, I’ll steer

I’ll guide you forever

My promises, hold dear.”


To Unburden


There I was in the Garden of Gethsemene, but rather than seeing Jesus suffering, it was me in agony yet I was resting my head in Jesus’ lap. I saw the Crown of Thorns nearby and reached out to touch it. I winced when I pricked my finger on one of the thorns.

I told Jesus, Suffering makes me squeamish. I don’t like to suffer. Then Jesus showed me how I respond to my children and husband when they are suffering, and my grandma when she suffered in the nursing home. I imagined myself valiantly picking up the Cross. I was like a warrior. I had so much strength. Carrying the Cross almost felt good, like there was nothing else I’d rather do then use all my strength to walk with it. I felt like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas at the end of the movie when he lifts the whole sled above his head and saves Cindy Lou (if you’re watching the Jim Carey version that is).

I thought to myself, yes Jesus, I am actually quite quick at wanting to take the burden from those I love most. But here you have me suffering and feeling miserable. I don’t think I could carry another’s burden if I tried, too wrapped up in my own problems.

Jesus said “What if I told you that when you continue to suffer and offer this suffering to me, you are unburdening so many from theirs in the very best way?”

Well then, Jesus, I say it still sucks. But I consent. I offer to you my suffering that you may unburden as many souls as possible, especially those I love most.

What we’re loving about Edith at nearly 5 years old


She is THE best singer/dancer/actress/story teller/joke teller/princess. She is so passionate about everything she does! It’s amazing to see how much she believes in herself. I pray she never loses the confidence she has now.

She has the most amazing memory! Edith can remember things from her toddlerhood down to the most intricate details. She recognizes where she is by the landscapes and buildings we pass and she can tell you when and where she got just about every single possession of hers. She has the ability to repeat everything she hears(a little scary for me), and she is also GREAT at impressions.

She is absolutely the most thoughtful 4 year old the world has ever known. She’s planning surprises for her loved ones all day, every day. She knows just what to say and do to make you feel loved. She brings so much JOY!

She also has this amazing gift of peace. No matter what’s going on inside my head, Edith has the ability to bring God’s peace into times of suffering just with her presence and most especially by her touch. A cuddle with her could be the answer to world peace.

She is so creative and artistic. She designs outfits and draws the most amazing pictures.

Edith is such a great big sister. She is forgiving, loving, and most of the time, quite generous in sharing her stuff with Camille. She has now even taken to changing her diapers(even though Camille is about to be potty-trained…should have let Edy learn sooner). Edith and Camille can play pretend for hours. They love to play Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Edith is always playing the role of Mary(Cami is quite the trooper to always play the boy roles).

That smile. Those eyes. The freckles. The wavy, dark blonde hair. The skinny legs. The giggle. The fact that when she sucks her two middle fingers she still looks like our baby.

Edy girl, you’re amazing and we are always thanking God for you.


Update 5/2/2018: Edith is now 5 and 1 day old! We had a BLAST at the Jasmine Moran Museum in Seminole. She led us through the maze outside(the long way), screamed maniacally through the tunnels on the train ride, learned about surgery and anatomy (I totally nerded out), did some serious pretend grocery shopping, painted a tiger mask perfectly and told us “when I’m college age and living at home, I’ll be a great artist,” got a little scared by some super awesome life-size electronic dinosaurs, and had so much fun on the playgrounds. Edith is soooooo pumped for her birthday party Sunday and is counting down the days. I have to keep explaining that yesterday was her REAL birthday while Sunday is just the party to celebrate with everyone.

Cami Girl is Turning 2!


Camille Jude Swyden, you were the easiest baby in the world when it came to letting you do your own thing.  You could sit in the middle of the room, before you were crawling, and be perfectly content for hours just looking around.  It was the beginnings of the most curious little mind the world has ever seen, and we had yet to realize just how curious it would come to be.  You began walking a couple of weeks after turning one and you have been all over the place ever since.  You have the cutest, tiniest little feet that resemble your sister Edith’s, though they are a little bit tinier.  It blows our minds how you stay on those feet.  You can go a hundred miles an hour, come inches away from injury or at least falling over, and yet still have better balance than the worlds best gymnast.  Speaking of gymnastics, your favorite pair of pajamas is your little pink gymnastics outfit that so perfectly shows off the most amazing thigh and arm rolls EVER.  Seriously, its a miracle we have not eaten you up to this point.  You’re not very tall, and, honestly, we don’t know if you’ve grown a single inch since you turned one, but that has never stopped you from accomplishing anything you set your mind to.  You have the “Anything Edith can do I can do too… and better” attitude.  As much as we adore and love you, you give us plenty of reasons to put you in time-out, but sometimes its so stinking difficult to hold in our laughter when getting on to you.  The makings of a student who can get away with anything because her smile is irresistible.  You love to sing and dance, especially to Moana.  You could break every window in the house when you sing the line:  “I am MOANA!!!!!!”  Now lets talk about your vocabulary…  Below is a list of words, with Camille’s pronunciation:

Word – Camille’s pronunciation

Ketchup – Dap puts

Spider-man – Paduu-man

Vitamin – Paduu-man

Daddy – Duhdeeeee

Bless us O Lord – Bess us O Loawd

Edith – Eeyuff

I’m scared – I cared

I’m crying – I cying

Clifford – Biffud

When asked if Daddy loves you, you say, “No! Mommy do!”



2.5 years:

We got you Winnie the Pooh diapers and you go around the house singing “Bennie da Woo, Bennie da Woo!” Best translation ever. Oh, to be in your brain!

You sing and dance all day, every day. We specifically love when you sing “Glory to God in the Highest.”

You participate in the Mass even when you don’t really know the words. You know a lot of them, the others you kinda mumble along and you look royally cool doing it.

We love how you end up in our bed almost every night and in the morning you wake up before Momma, make your way out of the bed, go into the living room and do who knows what, and come back to tell Momma “I peeyuped.”

You play and make huge messes all day. You are awesome at puzzles and look and find books. You love legos.

When we get onto you, you nod and bat your lashes, and tilt your head and say “uh huh, mhmm daddy” or smile real big and say “eeehkayyy”… It drives Daddy crazy but Mommy kinda loves it, you ornery little booger.

You have the softest, most voluminous curls and your hair is so long when it’s wet.

You still basically look like a one year old. Same tinynesss, same leg fold, same little arm rolls, tiny little belly. I swear you still have baby soft skin. We want to eat you daily.

You stink at cleaning up. You sometimes bite Edith and you’ve got quite the temper!

But, you give the BEST squeeze hugs and kisses. They’re almost violent but incredibly heart-melting. And you tell us you love us just because.

You copy everything Edith does and you crack her up all the time. You’re just a very silly, funny girl.

You want to wear your pajamas every day, and half the time you do. You’re constantly coming and finding me to show me a different nightgown or pajama set that you’ve changed into, several times a day.

During every bath, you shimmy and sing “Body Langijj” like Ursula in The Little Mermaid. You’ve been doing this for at least a year now, and yes, it’s still just as funny as the first time.



My Mother, The Advocate for the Now


As I was trying to fall asleep last night, I started talking to Jesus, telling Him about my bodily woes of that moment, asking Him to take it away if that was His will. I felt like He was telling me “You hurt now, yes, but there will be a day where You are with Me and no longer feel pain. Worry not about your body and continue to focus on your soul.” Then, I imagined this scene in Heaven at that very moment. Mary came in almost reprimanding Jesus, as a mother often would, telling Him, “Jesus! Yes, I know You care most about her soul and so do I, but look at how she is hurting! She is in pain right now! Help her.” God’s word is always final, of course, but the persistence of the mother’s request is just as effective in the plans of God as it is in the families here on earth.

I started thinking about the roles of the mother and father of a family. The father is the head of the family. His decision is final but just look at how much your mother can sway his decision. I remember when I was sixteen. Every single one of my friends at school had a cell phone. I didn’t, and it left me feeling embarrassed and out of the loop with my classmates. Looking back on it now, it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but at the time, my mother was compassionate toward my humiliation in those present moments. She stepped in as my advocate to my father, who did not believe it was time for me to get a cell phone. Within a couple months, you know I had myself a cell phone.

I also reflected on how the father can often see the whole picture better than a mother. My husband has the ability to discipline our children and see that sometimes they will need to be left to cry in order to learn an important lesson in the end. All the while, some systemic alert is going off in my body, crying “Alert! Alert! Your child NEEDS you, NOWWWW! WASTE NO TIME. GO HELP HER!!” Of course, I agree with my husband that my daughter needs to stay in time-out a bit longer in order to learn an important lesson, but that does not take away my nature to be compassionate or remove my strong desire to nurture them in the present moment.

We have the perfect example of this at the Wedding Feast in Cana(John 2:1-12). Mary, seeing the current pain and humiliation of the family running out of wine, goes straight to her Son, who she knows to be the Messiah with power to change all circumstances, and asks Him to save them from the humiliation. Jesus acts as if this is no matter to Him. He is God after all, and His thoughts transcend ours. He is able to look at the whole picture. He can see a situation of turmoil in the present moment, yet still see the past and future of the circumstance simultaneously. He already sees how He has brought about good through their current pain. The rest of us humans, including Mary at that time, are not able to see things in such a way without God revealing it to us. However, it was also His will to establish the role of His mother that day, her role as an intercessor for us in times of pain. This was the second time that the action of His mother brought forth the will of the Divine. The first was her Magnificat, the yes that was required to bring Jesus into the world. And now her action at the Wedding Feast in Cana brought about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. God intended for His mother’s requests to be effective in His Divine Will. Her immediate actions toward our pain, her persistence in prayer, and the grace God gifted her all play a huge role in the Father’s will for us. Yes, Jesus sees and feels our pain as Mary does, but He is the advocate of eternity- past, present, and future. He has chosen His mother to be the advocate of the now, to always share in our present pain. Often, it is through Mary that God is with us. It is often through Mary’s intercession that God finally responds to the requests of our hearts.

This is why Mary appeared to the children in Fatima. Realizing the pain of the world, she came to warn and she came to lead us to peace. Before Jesus entered into the world, He used prophets to send us this message just the same. When you realize that it is the will of the Father to use the Mother to offer His love, grace, mercy, peace, hope, and graces to us, it’s not so hard to ask her for help. As Saint Louis Marie de Montfort once said, “We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.” And as Saint Maximilian Kolbe said, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”