Lenten Requirements

Lent, and especially Ash Wednesday, is such an interesting thing in this era of social media and technology.

Back when I was young, Ash Wednesday was a big deal to us because, well, we are Catholic AND we went to Catholic school.  Other than McDonald’s offering fish sandwiches on the menu, the rest of the world didn’t seem too clued in to what we over in our Alabama 1% Catholic community were doing.

When we would show up places after school, we were looked at funny or asked what was on our head.  I don’t even really remember there being a lot of Ash Wednesday services at all the Protestant churches like there seem to be today.

Lent-pixBut, now, social media is exploding with reminders of the beginning of Lent and Ash Wednesday.  The hashtag #AshTag is trending on Twitter.  There’s blogs upon blogs upon blogs suggesting ways to make the most of your Lenten season.  There’s Instagrams left and right of people’s ashy foreheads (guilty!).  There are even a few new and very cool apps out there that are specifically for meditation and reminders to pray daily and not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

It’s an incredibly interesting time to live.
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God Provides. Yes, He Actually Does.

I am 23+ weeks into my pregnancy with our happy surprise Baby #3 (a little girl).  When I say she is a “surprise”, I mean just that.  We are people who use NFP regularly and though we are pro-life and thus always ready to accept a new little life as God sees fit to give it, we weren’t purposefully trying to get pregnant with this little one (as we were with our other two).  So, when,  that 2nd little line showed up on a pregnancy test last fall, surprised is the best word to describe my reaction.530862_661837282070_1511837382_n

When it took 14 months to get pregnant with my first child, I learned quickly that God alone is the author of Life and only HE knows when it is best for a person or family to have a baby.  Sometimes our will and His will line up (we were trying for a 2nd child and God deemed it to be the right time and we got pregnant quickly).  Other times, it’s challenging to understand why God is or isn’t allowing a pregnancy to happen.

I have never once take for granted the gift of this new little life within me when I know so many people who would give anything to get pregnant and I am so thrilled to be having another little girl.  But, from my limited perspective, I wouldn’t have chosen right now to be pregnant again!  Continue reading

The Cheerful Giver?

Cheerful-Giving“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)



A few days ago, my mother came upon a woman in a Facebook group who was collecting donated goods for some families with children who were in desperate need this holiday season.  Upon looking at the list, she felt like she could help them out with a good number of items.  She contacted me to see if I had anything on the list that I would be able to contribute.

Just like most of us, I have plenty of extra things sitting around that, in all honesty, I don’t really need to keep hanging on to.  Not only did I have a few things, once I started really looking, I found that I had a lot of things that I could pass on to these other families.

Giving away the goods was not the challenge of this act of charity.  No, no.  Physically handing things over to another person, family, or organization doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I found where I really need to learn a lesson in giving and that is in my attitude.

Because, what good are all those items given to another if they aren’t given, as St. Paul says, “cheerfully”?
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The ONE Thing I’m Thankful For

vintage-thanksgiving-postcard-8It’s that day.  THE DAY when we make our obligatory list of “Things I’m Thankful For” and prepare to present it in front of family and friends around the Thanksgiving table.

We all know how the list goes: air, family, friends, health, job, home, football, pumpkin pie (in whatever order is preferable to you), etc., etc.  All great things to be thankful for and generally worth mentioning.

I’ve been meditating on the “what are you thankful for question” a bit more this year, though, because I feel like saying, “Duh” when all those general gifts are mentioned.  OF COURSE I’m thankful for my family and children, the blessings we have in the form of good health and a job and home and all the extraneous things that make my life what it is.  I try to daily live my life as a woman who is aware of my many, many blessings and who regularly tells God “thank you” for them.

But, why?  Why do I try to live in this mindset (or, really, HEARTset)?  What is it that I am truly the most thankful for that allows me to be a person of thanksgiving, of praise, with a grateful heart?
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This Was Not the Plan

I don’t know when I started to realize that no matter how many and how often I made “plans” I made for my life, it would almost never go the way I envisioned it.  When I look back, I can see how different things that happened in my life were dots that were going to connect me to another dot in a way that I hadn’t envisioned and never would’ve thought of.

The first place I can really remember it happening and changing the course of my “plans” was in high school.  After two years of playing on the volleyball team (one of those years as varsity), I was unexpectedly cut altogether.  I was devastated and had all my high school plans and dreams seemingly crushed. Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

But, that event led me to a new dot – going from running track in the spring to running track in the winter, too.  Though I never really wanted to pursue track in college or try to make the Olympic team or anything like that, I ultimately had a much more successful career as a runner than I probably ever would’ve had as a volleyball player.

God knew what He was doing.  Imagine that.

When I review my life thus far, I can now clearly see how things like that happened constantly, changing the course of my life and taking me in a new and better direction.  Sometimes they were things I had no control over (like getting cut from a team), but often they were choices offered that I hadn’t considered, I ended up choosing, and that made all the difference. Continue reading

Oh, Happy Day!

It’s really easy to focus on all the negative and bad things going on in the world and our own lives, too.  And, let’s face it, there really are a lot of crappy, upsetting, unfortunate, and sad things going on around the world.  It’s easy to rue the world and our society.  It’s easy to become bummed out.

But, as much as Facebook drives me crazy at times, I have to admit that I’m thankful that I have a lot of uplifting and joy-filled people in my life who make it their business to keep the good in the forefront.

Sure, there’s lots of beautiful pictures of babies and weddings and family that celebrate the miracles and happiness of our daily lives.  However, there’s lots of great stories and articles circulating about society and culture at large that continually bring me hope (and often a teardrop or two).  God made all of us very good – and that’s really what’s deep in the souls of all people…

Goodness.  Beauty.  Joy.  Love.

Click one of the words above and you’ll be taken to one of my favorite stories and articles of the past few days.  Don’t forget to keep a tissue nearby – I promise you’ll need it!  Hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.

(Oh, and here’s a bit more happy just for the heck of it…don’t even act like you aren’t singing, clapping, and chair dancing along with it!)

I Am Not Fearless

This morning, I brought my two children to a large playground that is in a more urban setting than most of the playgrounds by our home.  Okay, it’s not like it was in the middle of downtown, but it’s right next to a large, busy intersection bordered on one side by a very upscale neighborhood and on the other side by less-than-upscale apartments.  It’s a playground that is frequented by families with children, people of various ages and races, runners and bikers, and…….the people who make you nervous.

You know what I mean when I say that.  And, I don’t say it to be mean, rude, or unloving.  It’s a reality that all of us are familiar with, especially if you have children.  Sometimes in public areas, there are people who put you a little on edge, who cause you to watch your children a little closer, who’s movements you watch out of the corner of your eye.

It happened twice today.  

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“Mama” Mary

I don’t presume to think I am “cool”.

Any type of “coolness” I may have possessed in my younger years has most certainly gone flying out the window with motherhood.  I finally spoke this truth out loud to my still cool, unmarried, currently living in Nashville (the epitome of hipster/music/coolness) about to go to awesome music graduate school younger brother.  “Yeah, there’s pretty much nothing we do as moms that will become an ‘in’ thing.  In fact, if something becomes a trend for moms & kids, it is probably on it’s way out,” I said.

Good one, Catholic Memes.

Good one, Catholic Memes.

The reality of my motherly uncoolness became even more pronounced today as I was sitting in Barnes & Noble visiting with my pregnant friend while her son and my two kids played around with a group of other children (most of whom were accompanied, also, by moms of various ages and stages of pregnancy).  We chatted and laughed about potty training (yes, discussing poop), baby food, sleeping habits, toys & interests of our kids, pregnancy, and motherhood in general.  Probably the most boring conversation ever for my girlfriend’s unmarried friend who was with us, too.

Yes, motherhood is unglamorous and totally uncool when it really comes down to the nitty gritty of it.

On the ride home, this realization got me thinking about the Blessed Mother.  Our Most Holy Mother Mary, who is always depicted as beautiful, serene, demure, hair perfectly coiffed, the “coolest” woman who ever walked the face of the earth in all her holiness and Immaculate Conception-ness, was also a mom. Continue reading

Why We Need Dads

I’ve spent the last nearly four weeks husband-less.  Though this occurred by choice, it was a choice made out of necessity.  I know a month is a drop in the bucket for military families (God bless you all!) and an even smaller drop for those who have lost their spouses (God bless you even more).  But, it’s been a tough month for us.

il_fullxfull.222456628I could go on and on and on about how much I’ve missed my husband and how important it is to appreciate and recognize all he does for me on a daily basis; how we, as wives, need to treasure our other half and realize that, yes, without him, you really are incomplete and don’t function as well.

Those things are very true, but the hardest part about my husband being gone has not been because I miss him (though I have, terribly), but because I miss him being with our children.  I miss my other half, but I really miss the other half of our parenting team.
 
So, with Father’s Day on the horizon, I thought I’d take a minute to mention some of the things that Dad brings to the household – things that I’ve always known, but that have become glaringly obvious while the father of my children has been away.

(None of these are things that a Mom can’t and doesn’t bring to the family, too.  But, they are things that Dads really bring in a special way.)
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