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

Preparing the Inn

(NOTE: This is actually an article I wrote for our church bulletin way back in 2007.  I really have been wanting to get a blog together, but with a newborn baby and a toddler filling up my life, and my hands, I have been having a hard time finding the time, finger-freedom, and, heck, brain cells to write anything!  Though it’s a few years old, it’s still applies to THIS Advent.  Please enjoy!)

My family doesn’t hail from the deep South originally.  Though we have lived here 30 years or so, neither of my parents nor the oldest 3 of the 5 were born in Alabama.  Consequently, pretty much all of our relatives are located in the Northeast – where it snows and is cold in December!  Because of the long distance, it was rare in our early lives that we got to spend Christmas with the extended family.

Totally not us...

Totally not us…

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The Changing of the Seasons

It’s often considered “the most wonderful time of the year.”  To many people, even more wonderful than the ACTUAL “most wonderful time of the year” (the birth of Our Lord and Savior).

It’s the changing of the seasons.  And, no.  I’m not talking about the weather-related changes from the warmth and sun of the summer to the coolness and colors of the fall.

Supporting a team while keeping things in perspective

No, I’m talking about the changing of the sports seasons from baseball to football.  Or, as most people understand it in my state, from “not football season” to “football, y’all.”

It’s hard not to love football when you’ve spent your entire life living in the greatest conference of the NCAA and having your entire society revolve around one of the greatest team rivalries in college football.  Some might even argue that this is, in f act, the greatest state FOR college football (at least, in the past decade or so).



(NOTE:  I’m not saying that it IS the greatest state for it, I’m saying that many in this state might argue such.  So, anyone from Texas, Buckeyes, Californians, Sooners, and whoever else disagrees need not send me hate mail or comments touting your state’s glories.  I know there’s lots of great college states out there.)



Anyways, I have to admit that, yes, i DO in fact love football season.  Maybe it is because of the changing temperatures and getting to break out my jeans again.  Maybe it’s the beat of a drum line on a Friday night, echoing across high school campuses.  Maybe it’s the tailgating, wearing your team’s colors, and uniting with fans of the same team, even if you don’t know each other. Read More

A Hidden Life

There was a time in my life when I thought I wanted to be famous.  Well, maybe not famous, but at least notable.  When we took the Meyers-Briggs personality test in high school and college, I would undoubtedly always get the “Extrovert” E.  I used to love meeting as many people as possible, being included in major events, going to parties where there would be lots of people, making an impression.

As I got older and began my career in ministry, I thought it would be great to become a public speaker.  Maybe not be on a major circuit, but at least on a minor one where I got to travel and meet lots of people and be a recognizable name.  I wanted people calling me because they were so impressed with my public speaking skills.

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TGOF

TGIF!  Thank God It’s Friday, the world is shouting.  And, it’s true.  I’m pretty sure there’s not a person you could talk to today who wouldn’t agree that they are thankful that it’s Friday.

But, I think I want to commandeer the TGIF expression and change it to TGOF – Thanking God On Friday.  As we are all prone to celebrating the end of the week and the freedom of the weekend ahead, maybe we should take a few minutes to look over the past week and say “Thank You, God, for all the good things that happened this week.”

So, here I go.  I’m going to set the TGOF ball rolling…

Saturday – I am thankful that the weather was nice and we were able to enjoy the Bloomin’ Festival as a family.

Sunday – I am thankful that we had a good turn out and a great night at youth group.

Monday – I am thankful for all the great people on the Pastoral Council who work so hard to serve the parish.

Tuesday – I am thankful for a great friend who invited me out for “grown-up time” and for my husband making it possible for me to hang out with her.

Wednesday – I am thankful for Mass and Chick-fil-A breakfast with a faithful group of teens.  Also, for good conversation with the evening Bible Study group.

Thursday – I am thankful for generous people who gave me maternity clothes and some new shoes for my son.  Also, for good dinner provided by my mom and for a mini-doctor’s appointment for the baby with Dad.

Friday – I am thankful that it IS Friday and also that the weather’s warm enough for my niece and nephew to come over and swim with their cousin.

(One thing I am NOT thankful for on this Friday, though, is that a chipmunk got into the kitchen from the screened porch, where the cat was tormenting it.  And, now it’s trapped under some cabinets until my husband gets some.  Ooooh, that scratching noise is NOT cool.)

So, I hope you’ll take a moment to TGOF today.  Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the GREAT things that happened this past week.  Enjoy your weekend!

This chart has nothing to do with this blog. But, it's good for a laugh on a Friday.

 

 

Case of the Mondays

Beating the crap out of the fax machine (or maybe phone) sometimes feels like the right option...

Some days just get you.

Today is one of those days for me.  As I type, I can hear my son, who has been laid down for a nap (due to his non-stop fussiness this ENTIRE.FREAKIN’.DAY), throwing various items out of his crib and across the room.  And, I continue to type.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing.  E-mails haven’t stopped coming in.  The list of things I need to get done this week keeps growing.  The stress of upcoming life-changes seems to be sitting directly on top of my eyebrows.  Deadlines are bearing down on me.  And, I can’t get the doggone blog homepage to look right. Read More

Finding God on Pinterest

Image

Actually, I HAVE made quite a few of the recipes that I have pinned!

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I love Pinterest.  And, the fact that you know exactly what “Pinterest” is means it has become a culture and internet phenomenon.  I have to give credit to my youngest sister.  She told me about this “website that’s basically virtual bulletin boards” almost a year ago.  It wasn’t a thing then.  It was just a humble little site used to store bookmarked links.  I got a Pinterest board in the fall of last year and it has since exploded like crazy.

I know a lot of people, mostly men, I would guess, don’t get the fascination with it.  Why do people (mostly women) want to spend all day looking at recipes, art projects, home ideas/decorations, clothing, child-rearing ideas, etc.?  How could one possibly spend hours looking at and “pinning” pictures and links, 90% of which we’ll never use? Read More

Lean on Me – Morality, Part 1

Note: This is part 1 of a 3 part series on morality in teens – introduction & explanation can be found here.

We want to be independent. Or rather, we think we want to be independent. But in reality, none of us wants true independence – we want others to depend upon us, and we want others to be there for us to depend upon. Though we have this romanticized view of independence, we don’t really want that.

And neither do teens. More than us, probably, they want to feel a part of something – they want to know they’re not going it alone.

More than teens realize, and more than adults know – teens need us. And I don’t mean that we are needed for our money or housing or food or clothing. I’m talking about being that reliable, safe, trustworthy, accountable, old-steady, even-steven sort of partner for a teen.

Teens need at least one adult they can rely upon and trust.

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Spiritual Breathing Room

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve been reading “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.”  Yes, I’ve been reading it for awhile.  It’s not that I am a slow reader, it’s just that when I find a few minutes here and there to sit down and read, it’s just that – a FEW minutes.  Anyways, I am, finally, nearing the end of the book (I plan to finish it before Lent is over!).

Yesterday, as I was reading about working, resting, service, etc., I came across an interesting passage from St. Ignatius.  He was speaking to a group of young Jesuits who were so exuberant about their new found desire to serve the Church that they were trying to “out-do” each other with ridiculous religious practices.  Ignatius had this to say:



“Let your service be a reasonable service.  First…God is not really served in the long run, as the horse worn out in the first days does not as a rule finish the journey…Second, gains that are made with this excessive eagerness are not usually kept…Third, there is the danger of being careless about overloading the vessel.  There is danger, of course, in sailing it empty, as it can then be tossed about…But, there is also danger of so overloading it as to cause it to sink.”

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Oversimplified morality – in 3 parts

Working in youth ministry with junior high and high school students over the past I don’t know how many years has given me lots of things.  First, it’s given me an incredible amount of failures.  It’s given me a lot of entertainment and laughs.  It’s given me gray hair.  It’s given me headaches and sleepless nights.  It’s given me countless privileges to walk on a faith journey with a young person.  It’s given me lots of tears, stress, extra hours of prayer, challenges, successes, awesome retreats… ok I could go on.

One other thing is that it has given me a little bit of insight into the heart and ind of a teenager.  I’m not claiming to have all the answers – I’m not claiming to be very smart – I’m claiming that my experience with teens over the last 12 years has given me a little bit of insight with teens.

I hope that isn’t too much of a stretch.

Ok, why all this?  Because, morality. There are so many well-meaning people at our parish, at other parishes, and from who knows where telling me we need to do more things to teach morality to our teens – but it all sounds and feels more like “you need to crack open their heads and brainwash them into thinking this one thing that I think is the end all be all issue and it needs to be this.”

And we do morality nights – on chastity, on obeying God, on pro-life, on stealing, on cheating… etc.  Do I expect a big turnaround in the life of teens based upon these nights?  Heck no.  It can start a discussion or get them thinking, but if convincing others of the truth were as easy as one 90 minute youth night, well, we probably wouldn’t have too many youth nights.

I’ve come up with a bit of a theory here – and it is that teens essentially need 3 things to really be empowered to make good moral choices in their life.  All three of these things are important, none of them is a quick fix, and they all take efforts from the teens, the parents and the Church.

So this, I guess, is a 4 part series – and you’ve just read part one.  Congratulations!  And I realize, this told you nothing more than – Hey, I’m writing a morality series!  Parts 2-4 will come out about every other day for the next week or so – so stick with me.

Again, I’m not claiming this is the end all – be all.  And I’m not claiming that this closes the book on teen morality – this is my discussion starter – based on my experiences loving, being rejected by, listening to, supporting, praying for, praying with and observing teenagers.