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.

 

 

The Big Change (A Rant About A Societal Norm)

WARNING:  This is going to be a ranting blog.  I just wanted to warn you.  If you get easily offended, you probably shouldn’t read any further.
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This is going to be a big year for our family.  It’s been coming down the pike for awhile and now, finally in 2012, the Big Change will be happening.  After 7 years of full-time youth ministry work, I will be “retiring” so that I can stay home with my son (and, by the end of the year, 2nd baby who is on the way).

Yes, I am 32 and I will be retiring.  But, in actuality, I won’t be retiring from anything – I’m just going to be making a career change from full-time paid Church employee to Stay-At-Home-Mom.

I am not going to write about all the prayer and discernment that went into making this decision.  Suffice it to say, it was a lot.  In fact, this has been a decision that has been almost 2 years in the making.  And, we, as a family, feel like now is the time to make the Big Change.  I still love and believe 100% in the importance and value of youth ministry.  But, it’s time for someone else to take it on in my stead.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but mostly I am really excited about the change.  But, something that’s been happening is really frosting my cookies…

Here’s where the ranting begins.

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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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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

Not a Grammy Review or Just Dance: I wish I could

GrammyI’ll admit it, I watched most of the Grammys. I’m not going to blame my wife, though it was on when I got home from work. I enjoyed much of it. Paul McCartney, the Boss, and Dave Grohl on the same stage = awesome-mind blowing-weird-goodness. I’m not going to touch the ridiculously silly Nicki Minoj spectacle (Am I the only one that thought it was funny to watch someone try so hard to be controversial and fail because everyone was so distracted by her lack of talent? Also, if you need proof Catholic persecution is alive and well, there you go. Okay, I guess I am going to comment on it). Adele is proof that talent plus the less is more attitude is beautiful and moving beyond words.  Jennifer Hudson same thing, beautiful tribute. May God have mercy on us all us sinners.

Wait, this isn’t a Grammy blog. I, an adult male, am not reviewing the Grammys. I am writing to say I wish I could listen to more of the kind of music played at the Grammys. I wish I could play some of the big time, top 40 dance music on display last night. But I can’t in good conscience do that. I can’t subject my children, my wife, or my own heart for that matter, to lyrical content of most of the top 40.  Call me a prude, but my job as a husband and father is to protect my family. If that means physically, I will do my best to talk my way out of it (lover not fighter, but will if I have to). It also means I am called to protect their holiness, which means I will do my best to protect them from sin or an occasion to sin. I’m not great at this, but I do my best where I think I can.

I don’t mean to get on my high horse about this, and if you feel judged by this, know that I don’t mean to judge your holiness or level of commitment to your kids.  However, I will judge the lyrical content of music, and I can judge how I behave when I listen to certain lyrics or watch certain movies or TV (had to quit Sopranos for this reason).  I just can’t in good conscience give my daughters a snake when they ask for a fish (goldfish).

Nearly every night as dinner is slowly ending, my family puts on a little dance music and throws a dance party while we clear the table and do the dishes. My girls are fun and funny and bring great joy to our family when we do this. I just wish there was more fun music that I could play while we have our crazy dance party.  Until there is, I will just have to rely on my man Elmo to parody the top 40 for my family.

I’m sorry I couldn’t come up a better title.

I'm Sorry HandsI spend a lot of my time apologizing.  I have a big mouth and a frequently inappropriate mind.  I’m not great at keeping unimportant things to myself (though great at things that pertain to my teen’s lives and my job – thank you Holy Spirit).  Also, I am a bit of a screw up sometimes and this leads to a lot of legitimate reasons to apologize.

This week, in fact has been the week of apologies.  I inadvertently shared the inner workings of a meeting with an outsider through email and had to apologize to one of my best friends in ministry. I got into an argument with my buddy Kory and ended up going too far in order to win the argument and had to apologize. I’ve apologized to my wife about 10 times, but that is pretty normal.  I’m not going to even mention that handful of emails I started with an apology.

The thing is, I’m not that upset about my week of apologies.  Apologizing is a good thing.  Yes I wish I didn’t mess up all the time. Yes I wish I didn’t stick my foot in my mouth constantly.  Yes I wish I was perfect, but I’m not.  The thing about apologizing is that it is good for everyone.  Maybe most importantly, it is good for me.  I think there are 5 reasons apologizing is good for us:

1.  Acknowledges Reality – A real apology that recognizes a legitimate problem or hurt demonstrates a firm grasp on reality.  Ignoring a problem as if it doesn’t exist and refusing to apologize is akin to a blatant denial of what is real. Apologizing is often seeing things for how they really are, not how we would want them.

2.  Shows care for other – When we apologizing we are putting the other person ahead of ourselves and proves we care for them.  For me apologizing says, “I care more that you are happy and holy, than I care that I feel good about myself.”

3.  Heals & Strengthens relationships – Every and any relationship I have been in where I had to apologize is a stronger relationship than one where I haven’t. I got a phone call complaining about something I said during Mass announcements once. I called the gentlemen, apologized and talked it out. By the end of the conversation, he mention how impress he was with me and grateful that I worked at the Church. We went form apology to compliment in 5 minutes!

4.  Training in humility – I secretly believe I breathe excellence. When I am confronted with proof that I do not, I can get pretty upset about it. Apologizing is training me to be humble (which I desperately need) and helping me to be honest with myself. Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us, and apologizing is key in making that happen.

5.   United with the forgiveness of God – I am not a priest (Shocker), so I don’t get to absolve sins during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Yet, I do get to forgive others all the time. When I apologize I get to give others the opportunity to forgive me which is central to the Christian life and straight from scripture (James 5:16).

Apologizing (and forgiving) is an intensely Catholic thing. Heck for any follower of Christ it is essential. Of all the powers that Jesus handed onto Peter, the most obvious was the Church’s power to forgive sins (Matthew 16:17-19). I will probably have to apologize and forgive a bunch of times today, and that is a good thing.  Who do you have to apologize to? Who are you not apologizing to that you probably should? How has apologizing been a good thing in your life?

Cry Room Evangelists

There’s a space in every church, hidden away in corners and behind pews.  It’s the place where tiny little Catholics get taken because they are too noisy or distracting.  It’s a room of pure chaos, noise, snacks, and understanding looks.  You may know it as The Cry Room, The Quieting Room, The Parents & Toddlers Room…

But, I know it as “My Own Personal Hell.”

That's probably not how the babies feel...but, you never know!

I seriously hate the cry room with a burning passion.  During this first year of my son’s life, my husband and I have had an ongoing discussion about what to do with our son during Mass.  Because of my position as youth minister, we sit in the very front row of the church with the teens, directly in front of Father and the rest of the congregation.  Not exactly a convenient location for “easy escapes” with an overly active child.

Initially, having him at Mass was no problem – he mostly slept.  Then, he began getting mobile…and noisy.  Trips to the back of the church or the cry room became more frequent.  Now, at 14 months, one of us has to sit in the cry room with him because he can’t even make it through the processional hymn without trying to dive from our arms onto the floor. 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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B16 explains why I baptized my kids

Pope Baptizes a Child in Sistine ChapelI read this amazing quote from Benedict XVI and had to share:

“What happens in Baptism? What do we hope for from Baptism? You have given a response on the threshold of this Chapel: We hope for eternal life for our children. This is the purpose of Baptism. But how can it be obtained? How can Baptism offer eternal life? What is eternal life?

In simpler words, we might say: we hope for a good life, the true life, for these children of ours; and also for happiness in a future that is still unknown. We are unable to guarantee this gift for the entire span of the unknown future, so we turn to the Lord to obtain this gift from him.

We can give two replies to the question, “How will this happen?”. This is the first one: through Baptism each child is inserted into a gathering of friends who never abandon him in life or in death because these companions are God’s family, which in itself bears the promise of eternity.

This group of friends, this family of God, into which the child is now admitted, will always accompany him, even on days of suffering and in life’s dark nights; it will give him consolation, comfort and light.

This companionship, this family, will give him words of eternal life, words of light in response to the great challenges of life, and will point out to him the right path to take. This group will also offer the child consolation and comfort, and God’s love when death is at hand, in the dark valley of death. It will give him friendship, it will give him life. And these totally trustworthy companions will never disappear.

No one of us knows what will happen on our planet, Read More