Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Doors Slamming in my Face...

journey-noroom

I am working on a project and I feel like doors keep slamming in my face. 

I need volunteers. 

SLAM.  "Sorry, I am not available."  "Sorry, I can't do that."  "Sorry, I can no longer help that weekend."

It feels sort of like doors slamming in my face.  Then last night, after a particular loud SLAM, I went to bed, and God totally provided with me a revelation.

I wonder how Joseph felt when he was entering Bethlehem and realized there was no place for him to stay?

I mean, if I had been Joseph, I would have probably been totally excited for the amazing 5 star Marriott Hotel with super awesome Breakfast Buffet (complete with omelet station!) that God was going to provide for Mary and I when we arrived in Bethlehem.    I mean after all Mary WAS going to be giving birth to the SON OF GOD.  Why wouldn't God be providing an AMAZING set up for Himself?  I mean he is GOD.  Right?


I think I would have been dreaming of my omlet the entire walk from Galilee to Bethlehem.  Tomatoes, bacon, spinach, onions, and lots of cheese.  Totally.  Maybe some feta if they have that too.  For sure a waffle.  Loaded with whip cream and chocolate chips.  I mean it's free right? 

Or whatever the equivalent to this is around the birth of Christ.

If I were Joseph, and I had showed up to the first place and they had said, "NO ROOM" I think I would have been slightly annoyed, but I would have told myself, it is probably just because GOD has something better in mind.  

But what God had planned wasn't better, was it?  It was way worse.

I think if I were Joseph, when I finally went to the LAST PLACE in BETHLEHEM and they told me again, sorry dude, there is not any room here either, I WOULD HAVE FLIPPED OUT.

I mean seriously God?  (I would have been thinking.)  I am doing all of this for you and you can't even provide a decent place for us to sleep????  I would have been probably doubting and WHINING, "Why the HECK isn't God paving a path for me to do His will easily?"   I would have been wondering where the heck GOD wanted MARY to give birth to HIS son.

I probably would have been doubting whether or not it really was God's son.




The next thing I know I would have been trying to make Mary as comfortable as possible while she gives birth to the son of GOD next to animals.    I think I would have felt completely confused, and angry and annoyed at how ridiculously far away this whole scenario was from my idea.  I probably would have felt like I failed my pregnant wife, and that I looked like a disorganized husband.

Can anyone relate?


Of course now we know the entire plan.  Now we celebrate Christmas with tiny manger scenes.  No one thinks about how God could have come up with a birth plan that truly GLORIFIED Him the way He is due.  (Yes. I do mean omelet station.)   

Yet, when I do God's work now, I so easily forget that sometimes God's plan doesn't look so pretty. Sometimes it is messy, and sometimes it even involves manure.  But it is STILL HIS PLAN.  

So as these doors are slamming in my face, I have to take a minute to realize that maybe this project I am working on, won't be 5 star.  Maybe it will be messy and challenging and maybe it will be completely different than I am expecting.  But just because it may not be GLORIOUS, doesn't mean it wasn't his plan all along.






  

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Realization... Parish Employees should all be Canonized




I took a part time contractual position with my local parish, because you know what mother of five children who has a full time job DOESN'T also want a part time job?  Right?

Actually this job was really an answer to prayer.  Let me start at the beginning, and then I will get to the part about the canonizations of all parish employees.

I LOVE retreats, something about escaping the realities of life for a period of time to just bask in the light of GOd's love, and grow intimately with our Lord in prayer really makes me glad.  Even more than attending retreats, I LOVE planning and helping coordinate retreats so that others can bask in the light of God's love and grow intimately with our Lord in prayer.  To me its a thrill, and a "high" and I want everyone to feel what I feel, and experience what I experience.  SO we can all be "high" together.  (Deep down inside I really am a hippie.)

So about a year ago, and opportunity for a new full time job was presented to me and it included planning and coordinating confirmation retreats.  Well you see I sort of had a full time job already that I have been working at a for a while and I don't feel God calling to me leave.  But I did feel God calling to me to make a suggestion to my Pastor who had offered the role to me.  The suggestion was to coordinate just the confirmation retreats, as a contract employee and keep my full time job.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what the response would be, but when I received the "yes" from my Pastor. I immediately took it as confirmation from God that HE is calling me to do this.  I was excited, and filled with confidence that God really does want to use me in this way.

Then, I thought, "Wait a minute? What in the heck am I thinking?  I can't do this!"   (Those thoughts were not from God by the way.)

SO here I am in the thick of it, and it is happening.  I have to be honest. I am calling on the spirit of Moses a lot lately.  He had a speech impediment and yet, God called him to be the Voice of the Israelites to Pharaoh.  I am have a TIME impediment, and yet God is calling me to plan and coordinate three parish retreats.  Well God,  you are the one who invented Time, so here we go.

Since taking on this tiny little contract position, I have had a glimpse into the life of a parish employee, and truthfully I am realizing THEY ARE ALL PROFESSIONAL BEGGARS.  Every. Single. One.

Each parish is only as good as it's volunteers.  And in all fairness they shouldn't really be called Volunteers at all.  We are ALL called to be Disciples of Christ and Christ is speaking to each of us, when he says, "Go Therefore and Make Disciples of All Nations."  When you serve a parish community you are MAKING DISCIPLES.

Now in addition to begging people to step up and serve without any financial compensation, we require that they turn in 18 pages of paperwork, background checks, finger printing, and a three hour on-line training program to serve the youth.  WOW.  Now try to recruit disciples.

Yet this is what our Religious Education Directors, Youth Ministers, and Core teams have been doing for years.  This is seriously Saintly.

So here is my proposal for immediate consideration.

The three miracles necessary to be canonized can all be considered done after they have successfully recruited their first three volunteers.   Canonization should take place as soon as they have breathed their final breath.  Because in all fairness every Parish Employee is a TRUE SAINT even before they have passed onto heaven.

Seriously people, love on your parish staff members.  Send them flowers, show them you care.  Step up to disciple their domain;  preferably before they get to the "begging" stage.  Pray for them!  Pray that their work doesn't become tedious, and that they don't experience burn out.  Pray that they remember the spark that initiated their acceptance of the call, and that they always remain close to Christ to guide them in their vocation!!!

 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Three steps toward Forgiveness...


This is actually a blog post I started writing a very long time ago.  After reading it just now, I have to admit I can't believe I wrote it.  It was a good reminder for me, and hopefully will be for you too!


A few years ago, I went through an event that required some major forgiveness on my part.  After the dust settled and I was able to see things a bit clearer,  I knew that I would want to forgive, but I didn't know if I would be able to.

Now fast forward two years later, and I have to say that forgiving someone and moving on is the HARDEST thing I have ever done.  Actually it the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.

I realized the other day, this job is never really done. 

This is a daily chore; right up there with dirty laundry, and emptying the dishwasher.  Everyday, I need to ignore the pain and choose to love.  I need to forget what was lost, and look forward to what can be gained.  Everyday I need to die to myself and choose to live for something else.

This is the only thing that will truly bring freedom.

Dying to myself is really hard.  Especially when we are bombarded with images of happy carefree people; people on vacations, people celebrating fun birthdays, and people who just don't look like they are busy with laundry, or dishwashers, or forgiving.

Sometimes it feels like those of us who are burdened with the job of forgiveness are missing out on something. It feels like we were robbed, or have a harder life.    But to be completely honest, I don't think that is true.

I think this is a part of EVERYONE's Life.  I think learning to forgive is God's plan for all of us.  I think successfully forgiving a major pain in our life can really and truly set us free.

Some of us choose to actually take that path, and some of us put it off until later.  Some of us, think the whole process is just too darn scary to take part in, and we bury it deep down and try never to think about it again.  The truth is I really believe that every single one of us is going to be called to learn this important life skill.

Oh Boy, let the fun begin.

Prayer is pretty much the only thing that I have done that has helped this process at all.  Here are some practical things to pray for if you are struggling with forgiveness.

Step One:  Pray for perspective.  When you are in a messy situation it is nearly impossible to see clearly.  If you are able to remove yourself, and get a little perspective this can tremendously lighten the burden.  Maybe this wasn't even about you.  Maybe this was truly about the other person, and their issues.  It still won't feel great, but it will feel better.

Step Two:  Pray for Grace.  However bad this sounds the truth is, that whoever hurt you was created good by God.  Ask God for the grace to see this person as HE sees them.  Ask for the Grace to be able to think of the reasons this person was in your life in the first place. IF it is a parent, or a child, or relative, you may not have chosen this person to be in your life,  but if it a friend or spouse you did.  What are the good qualities of this person?  There must be some?  This is a hard thing to pray for, but asking God to remind you of the good in this relationship is an IMPORTANT part of forgiving.

Step Three: Pray in Gratitude.

Seriously?

Yes.  That was not a typo.

Give thanks to God for this opportunity to forgive.  This sounds insane, and it is.  But it is SO POWERFUL.   Gratitude for whatever burden you are struggling to forgive will put you leaps and bounds ahead of your forgiveness game.   If you don't know where to start try something like this:


"God, thank you for providing me this HUGE opportunity to learn forgiveness.  Out of all the people in all of the world, you chose ME for this important assignment.  You are the ultimate forgiver, and now you are inviting me to join you in transforming the world through forgiveness.  I don't know why you think I am capable of this, but you say to trust you in all things.   So even though there is NOT AN OUNCE OF MY BEING that wants to learn this lesson of forgiveness.  I believe YOU WANT me to learn forgiveness, so help me please!!!  Like right now....  No seriously, immediately.  Can you please just make it happen???  Can't you just re-program me, to be able to do this easier?   Actually can't you just re-program this other person, so that they don't mess up so bad, so that I don't have to learn this lesson in forgiveness?!?!?"

Amen.

Okay, maybe try your own prayer instead of mine.  I am still working on this whole forgiveness thing.










Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Triduum with Kids...



I have to say that I was a little worried about my kids' reaction to spending Holy Thursday evening, and most of Good Friday at church.   This is a major flaw of mine.  I try to please everyone, and I often result to bribes to make it happen.

Growing up my parents emphasized the importance of honoring Christ's sacrifice on Good Friday.  We were not allowed to have an excessive amount of fun on this day, no matter how many invitations to birthday parties, beach adventures, or boating excursions were thrown our way.  This was a HUGE cross for my eleven year old self.  Imagine lots of eye rollings, and complaining! (MEA CULPA!!)

Going into this Easter Triduum this year, I wanted to be a part of EVERYTHING, and show my kids all that happens during this holy week. But I was a little concerned at how much complaining and whining I would receive as backlash.  Normally I would bribe them all with Yogurt or some sort of amazing and rare treat, but HELLO?!?!  This is Good Friday we were talking about.  TREATS would not have been appropriate!

(Also let me confess that I SHOULD NEVER HAVE CARED ABOUT WHAT MY KIDS THOUGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE. I realize this of course. I should be SOLEY be concerned with PLEASING GOD, and not give too cents about pleasing anyone else, my own kids included.)

So here is how things went down.....

I offered them nothing!

I bribed them with nothing!

They all came to pretty much everything!

And the complaining was MINIMAL!!!

WHAT?!??!  All that worrying and stress and FEAR about how my kids would respond, was for NOTHING???

Holy Thursday I had four of my kids with me at Mass.  Smelling the incense, watching the priests wash the feet of the parishioners, and being apart of the procession towards the chapel for adoration were all memories I hope to continue for my kids.

After we came home and watched the Mark Burnett movie, "Son of God" which really emphasized and repeated the importance of this time.  (Parts of this were graphic, and perhaps would NOT be suitable for young children.)

Good Friday we went for a nice family walk in the morning, then Stations of the Cross.  We visited with a old friend we had not seen in a while, and took her back to our house for a visit.  Then we went back for the Good Friday 3 PM service.

My oldest son, recognized the fact that in EVERY Catholic Church (and many other denominations as well) in EVERY part of the world, they are doing the SAME liturgy at the same time.  I love that about our church.

He also subtracted 2017 from 33 years to see if we could come up with the APPROXIMATE anniversary of Good Friday we were honoring.   1984.  This would be about the One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty Fourth anniversary of Christ's death.  Interesting...

The Altar was completely bare, we haven't sung an "Alleluia" since before Ash Wednesday, and the tone is somber and solemn.  Every sense was touched.  Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, and Taste.

SO here we are at Holy Saturday.  Jesus is in the Tomb.  We will dye some Easter Eggs today and bake and decorate some Easter Cookies.

Tomorrow the Church will present the equivalent of a Spiritual Mic Drop.  There will ALLELUIAS Flying all over the place, the church will be decorated with more flowers than a Home Depot Nursery, and the Choir will be singing all the songs we know how GOOD defeats EVIL.  Every Time.

Easter is coming!





Friday, April 7, 2017

What I LOVE about Holy Week...




Next Week is Holy Week in most Christian Churches, and there are so many things I love about it!!  It begins with Palm Sunday and ends with good Saturday and there are only about a million things that go on in between.  

I would call it almost a universal 7 day retreat within a 40 day retreat, and it can be intense and prayerful as you are willing to make it.

Palm Sunday is basically the only mass all year that you will actually receive give aways BEFORE you go into Mass.  I keep thinking the Vatican is going to change that someday, because we all spend the majority of the Homily making little crosses out of the palm branches.  I happen to be very good at this!!!   The Gospel reading for this day is very long, but it is usually broken up like a play and EVERYONE gets to play a part.  I love this.  It really puts you in the scripture and reminds you just where you would be if you had been alive during the time of Jesus.  (Spoiler:  We pretty much all would be screaming "crucify Him" because none of us are that good, and we do it today everytime we sin.)

Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are nice, and it is always a good thing to check out daily mass on those days.  Its also good preparation for some serious Spiritual Work outs which occur the rest of the week.

Holy Thursday is one of my most FAVORITE church services in the Catholic Church all year.  IT is like the birthday of the Eucharist!  The readings are all referencing Jesus instructions in the Gospel of John and at the last supper to, "Eat my flesh, and drink my blood."  We are reminded that Jesus is going to become the Pascal Lamb and we are going to be like the Israelites celebrating passover, eating Lamb!!!  (I know that might sound lame, but it is super beautiful!!  I promise.  Really.)

Then the most beautiful thing happens.  We hear about how Christ washed the feet of his apostles at the last supper, and so the Priest or Priests WASH THE FEET of the parishioners!!!  What a demonstration of SERVANTHOOD.  In my parish, all the priests do it, and some will wash the feet of pre-selected members of the church at the front, and then other priests will wash the feet of pre-selected people around the church.  So everyone can really witness this event.  

I have to be honest here folks. I have sort of a foot fettish.  The idea of ANYONE washing my feet, is totally out of my comfort zone.  Rest assured though, in case you are totally unfamiliar with this, EVERYONE who is getting their feet washed comes with the most impeccably clean feet I have ever seen.  So very little is actually accomplished here - it is mostly a symbolic washing.  But still I can't do it.  Maybe someday. But I am not there yet.

Good Friday, is like the MOST SOLEMN DAY of the entire year.  In my family growing up, there was absolutely no FUN allowed on Good Friday.  This proved to be difficult sometimes, because this often was a day off tied in with Easter Break and there were always invitations for beach days, or boating trips, or just play dates in general.  But that was NOT happening.

Stations of the Cross is usually held around 12:00 PM in most parishes on this day.  This is a beautiful re-enactment and reading of the final moments before Christ's Crucifixion.  Not the most uplifting events, but definitely powerful to remember.  Doing on the ACTUAL day of Crucifixion, just makes it seem more powerful and an opportunity to remember Christ's sacrifice.

At 3:00 PM there is a special Good Friday service as this is the hour that Christ died.  There is NOT Mass on this day, but the Parish does reserve Communion from the previous night's Holy Thursday service, (as my Husband likes to comment; Left-overs.) and we once again have the opportunity for our Spiritual Food. 

Then a wooden Cross is presented to the congregation and all are invited to come forward and kiss the cross.  This is Symbolic of the Gift that the cross has provided to us all, which is no less than ETERNAL LIFE.  

It sucks.  IT is UNCOMFORTABLE.  I always feel totally STUPID walking up to the front of the church and KISSING a cross.  But seriously, I am super happy that I didn't get nailed to it.  Because I hear that is the punishment for sin, and that thankfully I don't actually have to pay the price.  Right??? Can I get an AMEN for that???

Holy Saturday is like an anxious day of waiting.  I usually still feel a little somber from the day before's events.  But I also have this hopeful anticipation of what is about to COME.  

Keep in mind in our Catholic Faith we have ZERO alleluias's during Lent.  The Church has been bare for the past 6 weeks.  We have all fasted, and abstained, and sacrificed, and practiced good works for as long as we are able too.  (Some of us are not able too for very long.)

But Saturday Evening the ENTIRE church is about to SERIOUSLY PARTY!!!  (Church style - of course.)  Saturday Evening is the Easter Vigil, and the Church pulls out ALL THE STOPS.  I mean there are like a million readings from the Bible, new Catholics are officially welcomed into the Church, and the Alleluia's are coming out everywhere!!

Easter is the NEXT day and it not only is awesome, it FEELS amazing.  I swear the air actually feels fresh, and new and it seems like the entire Earth is rejoicing.

AND ALL OF THIS IS COMING NEXT WEEK!!!

I am so excited!!  Are you??!






Thursday, April 6, 2017

Did Catholics add books to the Old Testament???





This debate is a regular one in our house.  I know most people are arguing over bathroom space, or who took the last pair of clean socks, but in our house we occasionally debate Church History.  This is normal; Right???  It's not like we are going to need extra counseling or anything. Right???

I would first like to praise my Husband for his Southern Baptist influence on my family.  My kids have been memorizing scripture passages since they were three.  He reads them bible stories nearly every night, and they have all memorized the books of the bible.  Even my three year old can sing the song and recite nearly every book of the old and new testament.

Except for those darn "Extra" books the Catholics have in the old testament.  Those are NOT in the song that we have at home that lists the books.  Go figure.

First a little background.  The Catholic "Extra" old Testament texts are:

Many of you probably know about these Old Testament books, also known as the Deuterocanical, or Apocrypha, but maybe you don't know why the Catholics actually have MORE books than our Protestant and Evangelical brothers and sisters.  (You would think if anyone was going to add to the Bible it would be those bible loving Baptists, right?!?) And maybe you don't know that according to Catholics they were not ADDED at the time of the reformation. 

The short version in my own words is this:  At the time of Jesus there was not a DEFINED old testament.  Some groups of Jews used only the Torah, while others read the writings from the Prophets as well.  Some of these inspired writings, were originally written in Greek, but most originally written in Hebrew.   There were versions then that were totally translated into Greek, and then others that were not.  Different groups used different versions of the old testament for a few hundred years.

It was around the 4th century that the books of the bible were clearly identified and listed, and it was repeated at at least 4 councils.  The Synod of Rome (382), the Council of Hippo (393), the Council of Carthage (397), a letter from Pope Innocent I to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse (405), and the Second Council of Carthage (419). In every instance, the old testament canon was identical to what Catholic Bibles contain today. In other words, from the end of the fourth century on, in practice Christians accepted the Catholic Church's decision in this matter.   (from Catholic Answers web site, read full article here.)

SOOOOO, did Catholics add these extra books to the Old Testament during the time of the reformation???

Or did someone else take them away?  (Ahem. Martin Luther?) 

There is so much information out there on this, and the internet is FULL OF INFORMATION regarding this specific subject.  Unfortunately not everyone agrees on what is actually the TRUTH.

Some Great Catholic Resources on this.
Catholics United for the Faith
Catholic Education Resource Center

AND just for the sake of information I am including these OTHER perspectives: (Which for the record I do not agree with.)
Some Bible website with an explanation
Something called Truth Magazine

UGH.  SO what is the actual truth?

This is when I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to build a time machine, go back in time and interview Jesus and ALL the early Christians. I want to find out exactly what was intended, and meant by every single word that was written down.  I want to know who is right and who is wrong and which denomination is the most accurate.  (ie, the BEST.)

In all fairness this is a good argument in favor of the Roman Catholic teaching on Church Authority.  I mean somebody down here should have been left in charge so we don't all argue all the time.  (*cough: Matthew 16:17-19)

But the real reality is that I need to learn to get past all this and just practice the teachings of Jesus and LOVE everyone.  It doesn't matter whether the book is included or not, it doesn't matter whether you go to a mega church with a coffee shop in the lobby, or an orthodox church which hasn't changed in 2 millenia. JUST LOVE EVERYONE, and ESPECIALLY LOVE GOD.

Alright God, I will work on that.  But in the mean time if you could help us sort the truth out, I would be real grateful!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Half way through Lent, and I need a re-do...


This post if half confession, half mission of mercy for those of you who also might need a redo on Lent.

Apparently I suck at Lent, and self sacrifice.  (And here I thought I was super good at all that stuff.)

I have pretty much cheated or failed at EVERY single one of my lenten sacrifices, and some of those cheats have been EXCESSIVE.   Whoops.

I will give you an example:  I was going to try to go all of lent without purchasing any un-necessary item for myself.  I didn't think this one would be a stumbling block, because I feel like I go MONTHS on end without the time or desire to purchase new items for myself.  BUT some demon overcame me during spring break a few weeks ago, and I ended up purchasing on-line two rugs, three shirts, a dress, a bathing suit, and a book.  ALL IN ONE WEEK.  What the??!?!

How does that happen?   I will admit I am wearing one of the shirts now, and I LOVE IT!!! (Oh goodness that is not helping.)

NO really.  Why does it seem like things are not that important, until you suddenly try and go without them, and then it is like they CONTROL you??!?  Like you can't possibly live without them? LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO DIE UNLESS YOU HAVE IT RIGHT NOW?!?!

Does anyone else feel like they get sucked into desire like that???

What can I do about it???    (Please don't answer that. I don't want to return all the items.)  Great; now I feel totally convicted.

Can I just have a redo?

Can I start fresh?

Can I wipe this Lenten Slate completely clean?

That is the AMAZING thing about God.  His answer is always YES.  I can have a redo.  I can have a redo at Lent, and at every other area of my life where I have failed.  So can you.  We can have redos at loving our spouses, we can have redos at loving our kids, we can have redos at loving our friends, and we can have redos at loving our extended family.  

God will even provide the Grace to ask for redos FROM THEM if necessary.  (Which it almost always is.)

But with that, God also is asking me to let others in my life have redos.   He is reminding me, that I need to offer redos to my family, and friends just as he has given me a redo.

SO who are the people in my life that I need to start fresh with?  Who are the people that I need to wipe the slate completely clean? Who are the people I need to forgive, let go of all the past failures, and begin again?

I would even go so far as to suggest that you go experience the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Even non-Catholics talk about the necessity of confessing your sins to another person.  In our Catholic faith, we have the opportunity built right in to our Tradition.   Nothing beats hearing a priest, (Who is basically a stand-in for Christ, during reconciliation) say,  "I absolve you from your sins!"

WHOOHHHOOOOO!!!  FREEDOM!!!  (Imagine yourself skipping and dancing out of the church!)

Powerful stuff.  Seriously, can you believe God just showed me all that, through an on-line shopping binge???

Thanks GOD!!!




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why having 5 kids can actually be cheaper than you think...


Spring break for my kids' school is next week, and we are looking forward to a nice relaxing "staycation" at home.  

I actually wanted to take them somewhere fun, but a lot of the options were just too expensive.  It costs so much money to fly a family of seven anywhere.  We can no longer stay in one hotel room at most hotels, and admissions to most places can get obscene when you have to pay for 7 individuals.

As this week was coming to a close, I started to feel around for who was going to be in town next week for playdates.  I discovered, unfortunately that many of our friends are going skiing, or to the beach, or on some lovely sounding tourist destination.  We are not.  

That is when it hit me.   I actually save a lot of money because I have too many kids.  I just can't afford a lot of things. 

Thank God, for instance that I don't have only two kids.   Honestly, the four of us (Husband and I included) would be jet setting out of town every southwest-airlines saver email I get.  This would cost us thousands of dollars a year, I'm sure. Thank God, I don't only have two kids.

Even if I had only three kids, we could still squeeze comfortably in ONE hotel room with a simple rollaway.  I would be testing every hotel breakfast bar, and swimming pool in Orlando if we only had three kids!  That wouldn't be free you know?!? Thank God, I don't only have three kids. 

Honestly even if I only had four kids, I would probably skip out on making dinner multiple times a week to eat out. You know a lot of these "Kids Eat Free" deals involve two kids free - per adult meal purchased.  Perfectly designed for a large family of six.  I could see myself doing that often.  Thank God we have have more than four kids.

BUT FIVE KIDS?!?!?!  FIVE KIDS??  WE BARELY EVER GO OUT OF THE HOUSE with five kids - it is just too expensive.

SO I laugh at all you people who believe that you CAN'T AFFORD to have more kids!  

I can't afford to have LESS!!!

Surely, their tuition bills add up, and they do participate in a lot of activities that aren't cheap.  But compared to my potential for spending on travel,  sleeping in hotels, and eating out at restaurants, believe me we are saving money!

At least that is how I am going to choose to see it.  Wink, Wink.

Thanking God for my beautiful, cheap, family.

Disclosure*  This is a Joke, and only intended to make myself feel better.  Not meant to offend anyone with less kids.









Friday, March 10, 2017

A little lesson in Humilty and a few other things...




Last week I coordinated and led a retreat for our Seniors at the school I work at.  It was really a team effort and we sort of divided and conquered the different activities.

These are senior GIRLS, so we sort of expect their maturity level to be a little on the higher side.  For many of them this is completely true.  There are a number AMAZING young women in this group of 110 eighteen year olds, and there is no doubt in my mind that these individuals will grow into compassionate, kind, fun, sincere, faith-filled adults!

But unfortunately some of them are not adept at the "adult like" stuff.

The theme for the retreat was "Exploring the Journey Inward" and we were inviting these girls to get to know themselves and GOD better, before they leave for college.  I was on such a high after the retreat and I felt good about the activities and the talks that were presented.  It seemed like many of them enjoyed some aspects of the retreat, and got the message.  But then today I discovered that the overwhelming majority didn't like it, and didn't want to hear it.

OUCH.  That sort of hurt.

EPIC FAIL by me.  

Maybe I needed that lesson in humility though.  Maybe I needed that little reality check that sharing God's love is not always going to be received graciously.  Maybe I needed to realize that even JESUS himself was rejected by people, and maybe this was sort of what he felt like.

Now some of the critiques the Seniors offered are legitimate and can easily be received to improve next year's experience for those Seniors.  But some of the comments were just down right depressing.

Without being specific many said they thought there was too much "God" and not enough bonding with each other.   That just sort of made me sad.  I didn't think "too much God" was possible.  I can't get enough of him myself.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound deflated, sad, or depressed.  I realize that I will never be able to PLEASE everyone, and although we are already working on some things we can do to make it more fun, or more appealing, taking GOD out of the retreat is not going to happen.

I do believe that many of these girls haven't really had the best faith foundation.  Many are coming from families who might be Catholic in name, but not necessarily practicing their faith.  Some are coming from families who don't have any faith life at home at all.  We need to pray for these girls.

My real prayer however, is that a seed was planted.  Maybe they didn't get it last week.  Maybe even thought they think it was a waste of their time, maybe it wasn't.  Maybe someday they will experience something, and it will take them back to last week.  Maybe something one of us told them will give them a glimmer of hope that good things can come from knowing God.  That's a lot of Maybes.  But Maybe.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lessons on Love from the Movie Frozen...


I know this sounds random, but as of mom of three girls, I have only watched the movie "Frozen" about 33 times.  The most recent time being right now. (It is literally on my TV right this second.)

I am so impressed with the underlying theme of LOVE that this movie preaches, and I wonder if anyone else is as surprised as I am about how much TRUTH this insanely popular kids movie teaches about TRUE LOVE.

Here are five powerful insights that I have gleaned from this secular movie.


1. Sometimes when people shut you out, it is not because of something YOU did.  It is because of something they did.  This was a big realization for me.  I tend to take it personally when people shut me out, and instead of just loving them away, I shut them out.  This usually only makes things worse.

2.  Fear is powerful and really really really bad.  Fear can make people do crazy, desperate things.  Fear is what isolates people from everything they really need: LOVE.

3. "People make bad choices when their scared, or tired or stressed, but throw a little love their way, and you'll bring out their best."  The trolls get it, why don't we???  Forgive people for their bad choices and love them through it.  It will make the bad go away. Wow, I hope my 3 year old is getting that message through this movie.

4.  LOVE is about sacrifice.  I love that this movie preaches this message throughout the whole movie.  True Love isn't a romantic smoochy love, it is SACRIFICIAL.   Olaf even defines LOVE as "Putting someone else's needs before their own."   The sacrifice that Anna makes for her sister, is ultimately what saves the whole movie.

5.  In the end, this sort of Sacrificial LOVE wins.  Love will always win.  If you are brave enough to LOVE, it will always overcome EVERYTHING.  Love is is truly a supernatural power, and we ALL have the power to do it.

ALL this from a super popular secular movie about a very cold Disney people!!   I mean does this surprise or shock anyone???   It just proves to me that there is still good honest, movie makers out there, who can find a way to teach truth in a entertaining and honest way.

God had to be behind this!!!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Amazing things before Lent...



So this is sort of cool.

The other day, I was near break down levels.  The kids were sending me paper airplanes with notes of love and apologies for acting like crazed lunatics - I didn't care.  I was over it, and needed some space - big time.

I have no idea what led me to open a certain drawer, but it in I found my deceased moms prayer book.  She kept a small photo album type thing with pictures of priests she would pray for, holy cards that people had given her, and favorite prayers to say for specific situations.  Also in this book are index cards with handwritten prayer requests.  This really is a treasure.

In tiny letters I saw my name on one card, and next to it was her prayer for me.

"Purity and Conversion." 

Wow.  What was going on in my life at the time, that my Mom's strongest desire for me was to be pure and convert?  Yikes.  I have no idea, but I am thinking her prayer worked?  Maybe? Hopefully?

Now, at 39 years old,  I can honestly say that my relationship with God is the MOST important thing to me in my life.   I can be stressed about money, stressed about time, stressed about the house looking like a disaster, but I will never be stressed about my God's love for me.   It is secure.

That doesn't mean I love him perfectly however.  I am constantly working on that.  The hardest part for me in that area is loving HIS people.  Oh boy, some of HIS people can be really hard to love.  Especially the ones living in my house.

But here is the other thing that seeing my Mom's prayer book helped me realized.  My job as a parent is ONLY to help my children know how much God loves them.  For them to be pure and constantly converted back to GOD.  Every household rule, and every standard we set for our kids, really should be to support this supreme goal.  How simple it sounds, but so difficult to live.

SO the first thing on my agenda after discovering this book was to get myself one.  (Actually my Aunt already did, I just haven't had a chance to use it much.)

The second thing I need to do, is PRAY for my children; constantly.  Like immediately and right now. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Another new favorite Saint...




Saint Damien of Molokai is one cool dude.


The movie "Mokokai" is streaming for Free on Amazon Prime right now.  Gotta love the PRIME!

The story is about a Danish missionary priest in Hawai during the late 19th century.  There is a leprosy epidemic going on at the time, and Hawai's government decides to exile anyone who even remotely seems infected to a remote island called Molokai.  Fr. Damien willingly volunteers to go live among the lepers to love them, and minister to them as they live out their fate.

Without giving the movie away, because you really do need to watch it, I fell in love (so to speak) with this new Saint in heaven.  Mostly because he was just so selfless, and gave of himself completely over to the people on this island he was helping, and he witnessed TOTAL trust in God during his life on the island.

This is a REAL story!!  THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED!

Okay, so my first thought is that I am one of the most selfish people that has ever walked the face of the earth compared to this dude.

My second thought it I really need to step my game up, if I ever want there to be a movie made about my life.

I don't know any Leprosy colonies still around, that I could move to, and start working on my life.  But the truth is, that I don't feel God is calling me to abandon my family and move to a containment camp.

So God, how can I serve you???

I love the quote from St. Theresa of Calcutta, "The best way to change the world is to go home and love your family."

I will start there.  And Honestly with my family - it will make one hell of a Movie!




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Here we go Lent...




Lent is coming.  I am sure you all know that.

But here is my question...

How will I make this LENT awesome for me?  Notice first, that I say for "me."  That's because I couldn't possibly know what will make Lent awesome for you.

There has been a rough campaign the past few years regarding the "Giving Up" things for lent.  It seems to me that people are abandoning the idea that forgoing Chocolate will bring you closer to Jesus.

I say Hog Wash.

The last time I gave up Chocolate for lent, it left me on my knees in tears, begging for mercy.  It was definitely a spiritual exercise for me on needs versus wants.  Chocolate is a definitive need for me.

Honestly though, I think that fasting from all sorts of things can bring Jesus and all his suffering to the forefront of our minds.  I mean there is nothing more humbling for me, than crying over no coffee mate in my coffee, and then remembering all the sacrifices others made for my sake.

Jesus' sacrifice of course,  strengthens my resolve towards black coffee.  But my small sacrifice also reminds me of the sacrifices Mary had to make for my sake, the sacrifices of all those wonderful Priests and Religious I have encountered in my life, and the sacrifices my own parents made for my sake.

So giving up things for Lent is still on my list of possible ways to make it awesome.

A lot of Catholics I know are also big fans of the "Adding" to their routines during lent.  They may add daily mass to their normal Sunday ritual or  saying a rosary during the day a few times a week, or even daily, is a good way to strengthen faith.   Indeed.

I have been trying to pray a rosary a day for the past year - (I have a HUGE personal intention, that I am looking forward to.)  I have to say, in addition to bringing me peace, this 15 minutes each day, seems to keep me more positive focused.  (A rosary a day keeps the demons away? - I'm sure that is probably a "thing")

I have also thought of a few unorthadox Lenten habits that could turn an ordinary 40 days into something special.

How about hand written thank you letter or I'm sorry note to a specific person that I actually SEND  every day?  (I have issues with writing but then forgetting to send thank you notes.) (You do too? No way!)

I would also like to consider reading at LEAST one biography, or auto biography of a Saint.  I have started a few of these, and they are so RICH in lessons.  But then I never get past a few chapters because I start contemplating all the richness.  SO far I am working on most of the Theresas. They are all good.  If you don't know much about any of them, another great source is the book, The Four Teresas.

Whatever I decide to do, I decided I AM going to make this lent AWESOME.  We still have a few more weeks to prepare.

Here are some resources, check them out and start thinking about how you are going to make YOUR lent AWESOME this year.  Ash Wednesday is March 1st!!!