Our [Imperfect] Family Rosary

“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
(Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia)

I don’t think there’s any practicing Catholic out there who would deny the importance of daily recitation of the rosary.  The saints, the Popes, and even the Blessed Mother herself invites us to pray it on a regular basis, promising great spiritual wealth and growth as a result of it.  And, I have no doubt at all that that is true.

childs+hands+holding+rosaryBut, for the vast majority of us, praying the Rosary daily is actually rather challenging.  Or, maybe that’s just me.  I am not sure if it’s that I lack focus or the ability to sit still that long, but when I am attempting to pray it alone (which, let me tell you, happens about 0.1% of the time of my life) or when I am driving (which is more realistic), I easily get distracted.  I do much better when I pray it aloud with other people.

But, the only people I am with on a regular daily basis are these tiny human beings that I call my children.   Which, hey, is GREAT!  Because, praying the FAMILY rosary is possibly an even more beneficial and spiritually efficacious type of prayer than praying it alone.

Maybe efficacious isn’t the right word.  Perhaps saying it’s a source of “great sanctification” is more appropriate.  Especially when your prayer partners are 5, 3, and 20 months old.

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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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The “Modern” Family

The Cast of “Modern Family”

I admit it.  I’m a bit of a TV junkie.  I am.  I just really like TV.  There’s so many interesting and entertaining shows to choose from.

Though I probably know more about what’s on HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, and Nick Jr. than a normal person should, I don’t just enjoy shows that are on the science and learning (or kids!) channels.  I also enjoy a lot of the sitcoms and a few dramas on network television.  One of the shows we enjoy in our house is Modern Family. Read More

Size Doesn’t Matter

I come from what some might consider a “big” family, being one of five children.  My Catholic family came in the standard way – one mom, one dad.  My husband’s family, however, arrived at their 15 kids (yes, you read that correctly) in a different way – one mom, two dads.

Now, before you freak out that that is an “unorthodox” way of having a big Catholic family, you need to know the circumstances.  Josh’s mom and dad got married and had 6 kids.  His dad died tragically at a young age, leaving his mother widowed with small children.  Several years later, she remarried a good man with two children who had just come out of a difficult marriage.  They had 7 more children together.  If you are keeping up, that means my husband has 5 full siblings, 2 step siblings, and 7 half siblings.

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My Husband is Not a Doofus

I watch a lot of HGTV.  I really enjoy seeing all the awesome transformations of rooms, houses, yards that can be done in 30-60 mins. on seemingly endless budgets.  I gather ideas for the day that our family wins the lottery or gets a huge inheritance from someone or that the Church starts paying its employees the same amount as movie stars so that we, too, can do great renovations and upgrades to our home.

But, in the midst of all that painting and remodeling are commercials for cleaning products, preparing meals, groceries, childcare, etc.  And, often these commercials depict the men of homes as complete morons.  You know what I’m talking about – the whole “I don’t know where the dishes go, so I can’t empty the dishwasher” or “I don’t know how to turn on the vacuum, so I can’t help clean-up” ridiculousness shown in ads.

And, I am sick of it.

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I am the monkey bars.

I am the monkey bars. It doesn’t matter the Mass – early or late, long or short, loud or silent, engaging or reflective – my daughter spends nearly 46 minutes climbing on me like I am some sort of human jungle gym. It’s worse for my wife. She was the human pincushion. Sophia used to spend most of Mass poking my wife in the face, stick her hand in my wife’s mouth, and trying to rip her glasses or earrings off. I don’t know why this started or why it has stopped, but at least now it is just the climbing of Daddy mountain every Sunday.

The latest excitement occurred last night. During a pause in the Eucharistic prayer, my daughter blurts, “Is it done?!” “No honey, shhhhh, we have to go get Jesus and then pray and then its done,” we responded quietly amidst the laughter of our neighbors. Communion happens. Our pastor is quietly reflecting after just making Jesus physically present for 600 people in the Eucharist, and Sophia asks again, but even louder, “IS IT DONE?!” This outburst was loud enough for Father to turn in our direction. I’m not as embarrassed as I should be (What? It’s funny), but I’m not thrilled about it either.

Taking my kids to Mass is hard sometimes. Sometimes all I feel I get out of Mass are bruises and frustration. There were Masses Liz and I spent most of our time out in the gathering space chasing kids or quieting a baby. Some weeks it didn’t feel worth all the work, I felt like I was getting nothing out of it. Those are the weeks I have to remember that I don’t just go to Mass for me. Yes, I go to pray, hear scripture, and receive the Eucharist connecting with God in such a physical and intimate way that nothing else can match it (on earth), and that connection is for me. But I also go to Mass for others.

I bring my kids because, as hard as it is, when they are little, don’t get it, and struggle just to sit in the pew at all, I know that the practice of going to Mass takes time and I want them to get good at it. The good news is, I can see it paying off in my 6 year old daughter, Ella. Yeah there are weeks she spaces out during the homily (There are weeks I space out during the homily. There may be weeks priests space out during their homilies – I kid, I kid.) But she actually prays and responds and knowing that I am helping to cultivate some connection to Mass is a huge pay off for me.

I also bring my kids to Mass because my Church needs us. The older people need to see young families committed to the faith. Other families need to know there are others in the same boat with the same struggles. And frankly, as a youth minister, I want teens to see my family at Mass so someday, when it is hard to get to Mass, they figure out a way.
Mass has been such a gift for my family and me. I can’t imagine my life without it. For my life it is worth the sacrifice of tough schedules and irritating, irritated kids.

No judgment on my fellow young parents just trying to find 4 solid hours of sleep and an adult conversation not about diapers and how the carpet has been newly ruined. I get it, I’m with you in this. I want you to know that I am praying for you and that Mass has been worth it for my family and my marriage. Hope to see you this weekend at Mass – Jungle gym, bloodcurdling screaming, awkward questions in the silence, and all.