“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. Read More

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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In the Garden of Souls

I recently read the book “Left to Tell” by Immaculée Ilibagiza.  It’s the incredible story of how she survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994 by hiding in a bathroom with several other women for 3 months.  During this ordeal, she had incredible experiences of the presence of God, of true meditation, and of miracles.  The book was totally wonderful and I couldn’t put it down.  I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours, including me staying up waaaaaay past my mommy bedtime because I just had to know what happened next.

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Immaculée Ilibagiza

The book has tremendous insights into forgiveness, trusting in God, and prayer and so many things spoke deeply to me. I was most amazed at how her faith could be so strong and deep and her prayer life so intense in a time when things were more horrible than anything she could’ve imagined in her life or than I could ever imagine having to experience.

I’ve used this book and what I’ve read as a reference point a lot lately.  When things have gotten challenging or difficult for me (which, incidentally, they have a lot lately as I am basically single-parenting for a month while my husband is away working), I try to find all the things in the situation that I can be thankful for.  I try to immerse myself in prayer or at least point my thoughts towards God when I am starting to wallow.  I try to be a woman of faith.

I recently had a really, really, REAAAAALLLLY rough night with my children.  And, being without my husband, it compounded the fact that I had no relief during that night and knew I wouldn’t have any the next day, either.  Anyone who has children can understand what a bad night with kids can be like.  You love your kids more than anything, but you reach a breaking point.  You start begging God to make the crying stop, to have mercy on you, for guardian angels to comfort the kids, to please let you have sleep so that you can parent well the next day.

I was pushed to my limits and beyond and I had a lot of not very friendly words with God  that night. I’m convinced I was wrestling with some demons, too.

But, eventually, the hours passed and the crying stopped and the children rested (though, I didn’t really).  And, as I laid awake with my thoughts, I cried at my weakness and lack of faith.  I thought of Immaculée and how strong she was during something that was truly from the devil and lasted for THREE MONTHS (not just 3 hours).  I thought to myself, “The Lord barely gives me trials in comparison to what Immaculée and so many people suffer.  How could I ever hope to attain heaven when I can’t even make it through a tough night of parenting?”

Suffice it to say, I was disappointed and ashamed of myself.

The next morning, I prayed in thanksgiving for the new day, for my beautiful children and their happy little faces, and I asked God to forgive me for all the unpleasant things I had thought (and, some which I spoke allowed) the night before.  I prayed for the grace to be a better parent and to somehow come to an understanding of how I could ever reach sainthood when my struggles, trials, and life seem so small in comparison to what so many others live through.

And, God in all His mercy and kindness, gave me some words of comfort and a reminder of how we are all called to sainthood.

I love a good flower garden!

I love a good flower garden!

“[Jesus] set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers he created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.  I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.



And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden.  He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when he looks down at his feet.  Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wills us to be.”  (St. Térese of Lisieux)



I will probably never be a rose or a lily in Jesus garden of souls.  I will never, God-willing, have to suffer something like Immaculée did that is so horrendous and agonizing that it must be shared so that others may learn and have their faith deepened.  But, being a less significant “flower” doesn’t make my life or my sufferings any less important to the God who created  and loves me.  He glances down at my small life and hears my prayers.

It comes down to this – God has willed my life and sufferings to be what they are and my perfection, my sainthood lies in being aligned with that reality.  It’s my job, now, to be the best little dandelion or daisy that I can be.  Because, the garden of souls currently growing on the earth would be incomplete without mine, even if it’s not the prettiest or most noticeable one growing there.

This little guy loves his dandelion mama!

This little guy loves his dandelion mama!

Love Revolution

As with everyone else in the nation, I am saddened and disheartened about what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday.  Once again, our sense of peace and security has been rocked.  And, I’ve noticed people saying that events such as these are upsetting when they happen, but not really “shocking” any more since it seems like something major like this happens fairly regularly nowadays.

But, on the flip side, I noticed almost immediately people throwing up the Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the “helpers” in the tragedy.  I’ve seen it quoted more times than I can count.  And, it’s a great thought, especially for children and really for all of us.

The wisdom of Mr. Rogers

The wisdom of Mr. Rogers

When things like this happen, we first have the shock and awe of graphic pictures and videos on the news and Internet.  Everyone’s emotions get all keyed up as we try to take in exactly what happened and understand the details of the situation.

But, again, it seems more quickly than usual that the stores of heroism and “helpers” have cropped up equally as fast.  From runners finishing the race and running to the hospital to give blood to former NFL players helping others who were hurt to the volunteers of the race who ran towards the blast to strangers taking people in and giving basic first aid right on the scene – the good of people, of a city, of a nation suddenly came out in ways that inspire and move us.

And, this is wonderful.  And, it gives us hope in humanity.  And, it proves that we were made good, not evil; to love, not hate.  It proves that “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

John 1:4-5

John 1:4-5

But, why, oh why, does it take a tragedy – a bombing, a school shooting, a natural disaster – to get the best out of us?

Somehow, on a daily basis, we miss the need of our neighbor to be carried, to be comforted, to have the “bleeding” of broken hearts and lives tended to.

We don’t run towards those who are suffering in less obvious ways – from loneliness, fear, being unloved.  We aren’t rocked by the events that are blasting apart families and taking innocent lives.  We walk past those crying, calling out, shell-shocked, who just need someone to see them and care for them in their hour of greatest need.

St. José Maria Escriva said, “If we Christians really lived in accordance with our faith, the greatest revolution of all times would take place.”

This is what our country needs – a revolution.  But not just any revolution.  We need a revolution of Love.  We need to be fighting to out love each other, to see who can do more, give more, who can be pushed to the highest heights of the love we were meant to share.

We’ve proven over and over again when tragedy has struck that we are, indeed, a Christian country, who’s values are firmly planted in the understanding that God IS love and we have a responsibility and innate desire to show that love to others.  But, when will we start living that on a daily basis?  When will we stop waiting for things to get really bad to start doing the most good?

I am praying for the people of Boston.  I am praying for those “helpers” and heroes.  I am praying for those who inflicted this type of pain on innocent people.  But, mostly, I am praying that we, as a nation, as people of God, will not stop here.  I am praying that we will really begin to live our faith and start the revolution of love.  It’s time.

It-Is-Time-For-A-Love-Revolution-7

The Mass is Long

Not too long ago, I came upon this meme on Facebook….and, boy has it stuck with me.

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I’ve read many things written by many saints.  But, this particular sentence hit me right where it hurts.  Not because I don’t love the Mass and not because I would ever leave early because I “had to be somewhere else.”  There is no where I could or would ever need to be that is more important than at Mass.

Sometimes, though, I am internally annoyed because the priest chose the longest Eucharistic prayer.  Or, I roll my eyes at my husband when I see which priest is saying Mass because his homilies are always far longer than I think they should be.  Or, my favorite priest, much as I love him, decides to sing ALL.THE.MASS.PARTS.  Or the choir decides to do an especially long performance type piece a the offeratory.  How quick I am to groan, internally or audibly.

I saw this picture and read these words and I was put in my place.  It’s a short enough sentence that I can’t forget it.  It has stuck with me even though I wasn’t TRYING to get it to stick with me.  It jumps directly into my brain as soon as I start to get impatient with something at Mass or if I’m having a rough time with the kids or I am annoyed with someone sitting nearby with their loud breathing or constant chattering.

It’s no one else’s fault, especially not the priests’, that I lose my patience and focus at Mass.  MY shortness of love is the problem.  And that’s the last kind of love I want to show to my Lord or anyone else.  This week more than ever, I pray that I might enjoy all the “long” Masses and events of Holy Week with an abundance of love.

Retired Presbyterian pastor: How I became a Catholic

Below is a link to an interview with a former Presbyterian pastor who decided to convert to Catholicism.  This is from the great state of Alabama, where the population is 2% Catholic.  So, this is kind of a big deal.  And, for it to be covered by our major news outlets is an even bigger deal.

Mr. McCrummen gives some fantastic and thought-provoking answers to very tough questions, presumably asked by a non-Catholic interviewer (though, i honestly don’t know).  Definitely a great read and one that would be worth sharing with Protestant friends who have questions about the Catholic church or those who are actively pursuing it.

Retired Presbyterian pastor Norman McCrummen: How I became a Catholic

Saying Goodbye to My Papa

It’s odd saying goodbye to a pope who hasn’t died.  But, saying goodbye to this pope in particular is very personal to me.  It seems that Pope Benedict and I have run a course of ironic similarity over the past nearly 8 years.

Don’t worry.  I don’t consider myself papal or even close to the holiness and greatness that is our former Holy Father.  However, as my husband and I were discussing all of this and making our predictions about who might be elected next (and, calculating that there will probably be at least 2 more popes in our lifetime), I realized that good ol’ Benny and I have some major things in common.
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The Converted Person

A small excerpt from the book Show me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri J.M. Nouwen that really spoke to me.  Emphasis added.  I hope you enjoy.

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“The converted person does not say that nothing matters any more, but that everything that IS happens in God and that God is the dwelling place where we come to know the true order of things.  Instead of saying: ‘Nothing matters any more, since I know that God exists,’ the converted person says: ‘All is now clothed in divine light and therefore nothing can be unimportant.’  Converted persons see, hear, and understand with a divine eye, a divine ear, a divine heart.  Converted persons know themselves and all the world in God.  Converted persons are where God is, and from that place everything matters: giving water, clothing the naked, working for a new world order, saying a prayer, smiling at a child, reading a book, and sleeping in peace.

All has become different while all remains the same.”

Parenting: Harder Than it Looks

I would consider myself a pretty confident person. In fact, I would say that I have always been fairly confident about myself and my abilities. I never really struggled with school. I always had a knack for sports or physical activities. I was never excellent at one particular sport or subject, but always picked things up easily and felt good trying out something new.

Well, I am.

Well, I am.

I wouldn’t say I was overly confident when it came to guys or my looks. Though I was probably the first homecoming queen in history who didn’t have a date to the Homecoming Dance, things like that didn’t break me or cause me to not really know who I was or where I was headed in life.

Yes, confidence would probably be on the list of “What are 3 words that describe you?”.

But, I have found the one thing that is trying to break my confidence. The one thing that is not just “something I do” or something that I am trying out to see how I like it. No, it’s the ONE THING that is second only to my primary vocation as a wife. It is the ONE THING that will never, ever end and I may not ever get right. Read More

The Joy in the Tragedy

It’s been a week now since the tragedy took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school and I think I have finally gotten my thoughts together enough to write a cohesive blog about it.  I’ve been wanting to flush out my feelings on it all – about my outrage, about my sadness, about faith & free will, about the media, etc.  There’s been dozens of ideas and trains of thought running through my head and I haven’t been able to put pen to paper (so to speak) about any one of them.  I’ve started and stopped writing several blogs because there’s just too much to say about this one event.

The Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents

Like everyone else, I was shocked and sickened by what happened to all those folks, especially those innocent little children.  I can’t say anything more than what’s already been said in hundreds of other blogs, messages, memes, Facebook posts & statues.  My heart aches for the families.  My soul prays for them and seeks meaning in it all.  I know the world in which my own children are growing up has, once again, been changed in a dramatic way. Read More