Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kudos to Kayleigh

Here is another memory from this past week that I want to bottle up and keep here to remember.
 4 years ago our beautiful daughter graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors from our local high school.

This past week she was inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma Theta Tau) and will graduate this December with honors.
This is the little girl who went to college with a couple of scholarships and TOPS which is allowing her to graduate debt-free. {Can a parent be too proud?} :-)
We told her she needed to focus on her school and it was not practical to maintain a job at the same time. But I forgot which child I was talking to. This is the child who cleans house to de-stress. :-) She has worked these past four years while maintaining a high GPA and leaving a stellar impression on her professors, instructors, and nursing peers.

Wanted to let y'all know that there are still nurses coming out of college who you can entrust your life (and that of your family) to.
She thinks she might like to continue her education in a special nursing field but must work two years out of school first. Whatever she decides to do, we are already so proud of her, her focus, her dedication, her work ethic, her devotion to her family, and---most of all---her beautiful self and smile.
We are so, so, so proud of our baby girl. She's all grown up and engaged to be married next year. Please keep her in your prayers.

{thanks to Oma for taking pictures}
{Kayleigh is pictured here in clinicals on the far left}
{Hat Tip to her older brother who has let her live in his apartment rent-free while she gets her college education.}

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Medicine for Discouraged Mothers

Can I pierce this otherwise laid-back, low-key, amible blog with a frustrated ranting and raving?

If you're so kind to listen, thank you.

If you're having a bad day it's probably best you bounce onto another blog.

I just got off the phone with a grandmother whose daughter is trying to find help in caring for her son's three little girls. The wife of her son/mother of those three little girls has "flipped out" and left the family for lights, action, party, and good times.

This is the second time this week I've heard this tale of women who are acting like children woe. It would take two (maybe three) hands for me to rattle off the names of family, friends, and acquaintances I know who have suffered at the hands of women gone wild women like these. They have children, begin "acting up", and take off, leaving the husband with the kids, house, laundry, cleaning, carpooling, etc. while they party, play, shop, hang-out and friends, and act like they're teenagers all over again.

It's incredible!

I've seen good, Christian devoted family women do it as well. It isn't just women who were denied the presence of a good mother growing up. It's women of every background possible. I blame the media...for lack of research on my part.

Why are women acting like this? Why?

Why are so many women acting like this? Why?

I'm going to repair my blog's reputation and offer a positive little bandaid of advice and mentorship for those wives/mothers who are feeling like the only place they can turn is outside the home.

For years I have followed the writing and mentorship of Sally Clarkson. I've read every book she has written and am a faithful reader of her blog: I Take Joy

I have sent/given her first book Seasons of a Mother's Heart to friends when I felt they needed a refresher course/ booster shot/ 101 course on mothering.
Sally (her message, her voice, her advice) is always calming medicine for the bewildered, discouraged, discontented mother. Sally has turned the compass of my thoughts constantly back towards home. She has instilled within my heart the worth of my mission as a wife and a mother.

Sally's mission is to help other mothers and, by doing so, to help strengthen parents and families because she knows how valuable and precious are the people who belong in them. Families are the one entity still deemed irreplaceable within society.

Sally has started something new and refreshing for moms as well. Mom Heart Online is the place where mothers are reminded that their "mom's heart matters". It is the place to go when you "need encouragement, inspiration, insight, or help as a Christian mother... Twenty Christian ("messy, striving, well-intentioned") moms will keep your mom heart beating for God."

Click over to and be inspired to be the best wife and mother God intended you to be.

And, just so you know who you are, Mom, read this.

Discontentment with Expectations

Too high or too low, expectations can trip us and leave us forever angry, upset, embarrassed, and discontent. As in all things, there must be a balance, even with expectations. Not too low, not too high.

I have struggled with and written about expectations so I was grateful for Michelle Duggar's input on having expectations towards our family members and how to handle them.  Sometimes I fear having made simple expectations for my family (like asking my children to grow-up to be good, kind, loving, decent, hard working, Christian human beings in anotherwise competitive, harsh world) is too...simple.

When is simple not good enough?

I haven't raised rocket scientists and they are far from holy. God's still working on them and for that I feel a strange sense of relief and calm. My lower-than-some-parents' expectations has been more for myself than they; I knew I couldn't live up to other people's expectations of me so I did not set goals for them which I knew I could not reach or one's I had already failed at.  I knew if I set higher-than-thou expectations of my children that when they failed I'd be wallowing in the mud.

I don't like mud and I don't like wallowing.

For my husband and I, compassionate expectations trump competitive ones. But that's just us.

Family-orientation is one goal I did set and stressed and implemented. It seems to be the one expectation my children have committed to memory. There are some expectations I wish I had stressed more but, when I think of other parents who stressed those same expectations and seen their children fail in achieving them, I realize that none of us are in control of our children and their lives...expectations or not.

No one can secure expectations of others because we all have free will.

Regarding the giving up of expectations, Michelle writes:
"... giving up expectations gives us a grateful spirit -- we're not discontent with where we are in life. And we're not always grumbling and complaining about the way things should be -- it really does create a spirit of gratefulness in our heart."
For the most part I learned to lower my expectations after failed expectations threatened to snowpile me under. This was when I was a young wife and mother with high expectations. My mentors were the saints. With guidance from many, many saints who learned (and shared through spiritual writings) how to trust in God's will, I have learned how to deal with expectations. It isn't that I don't still have expectations...high ones even...but I've learned that when those expectations get smashed over my head, I have to lean boldly on this quote:

"Banish from your soul, then, in times of adversity, every thought that cannot be expressed in these few words: It is God's will. Any other thought will only increase your anguish and make you feel your unhappiness even more deeply." (The Imitation of Mary)

Annie's View of the Yard on a Spring Day

Yard Toys Against the Pecan Tree

Stray Piece of Paper in Yard
Soccer Balls in Yard (the teeth-riddled one is for Garrett's Jack Russell Terrier)
Gentle Yard Dog (reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull sitting under a tree just smelling the flowers :-)
Crawfish Hole Amidst a Clover Patch
Bricks Found Against the Cypress Tree

(I hope everyone is having beautiful spring days like we are.)

* * * * *

Here is a sneak peek at the view the newlyweds are having this week:
As my husband said, a photo can't possibly do this place justice but the blue skies assure me that their spring days are as gorgeous as ours (if not more so). For all those who have asked how the newlywed are doing: they're doing wonderful! They saw the painted desert, the petrified forest (click on to take a virtual tour of the petrified forest), the Meteor crater (click on to experience the impact of the meteor hitting the earth's surface 50,000 years ago) and saw the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Corey said they've also done a ridiculous amt of walking. It's a once-in-a-lifetime trip. They're tired, but happy. :)

(The honeymoon isn't over yet; they have a few more stops along the way, but please pray for their safe trip home.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bottling Memories

This weekend has been a lovely whirlwind of life, joy, and thanksgiving. I wish I could bottle up all the laughter, the smiles, the hugs, and the memories to keep during the days that will come, must come, that are dark and teary.  But, for now, I see only the blessings God has given our family and I am so amazingly, joyfully, thankfully grateful. Everything else pales in comparison.

For once I did not take my camera or iphone on my person. I wanted to absorb the precious moments without boundaries, lenses, and borders. I am grateful for those who did take pictures and am waiting on the photographe'rs pictures to come in.

In the meantime,while I'm slowly loading and sharing them on Facebook, I'm sharing a few pictures here taken by Oma and a dear friend because this is the place I bottle up the memories.
Wedding Cake---a labor of love made by the bride's grandmother
Wedding Party---April 20, 2012
Exchange of wedding bands.
Our new "little' family.
Mark and I---still dancing after all these years. :-)
These kids grow up TOO FAST!!!
A Favorite of Annie with her older brother during the money dance.
"If you've got the money, honey, I've got the time." :-)
One of my absolute favorite pictures. One of the girls told her mommy that she got to dance with the "wedding girl!" :-)

More pictures as I get them.
Thank you all for the many prayers. We were showered in them...literally!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dog Ate the Wedding Dress Ticket

I'd always heard of dogs eating people's homework. Though it's always been shared in comic relief circles, it has never happened to me, so I doubted its credibility and possibility.

Of course I know puppies chew; I've had dogs all my life. I had one puppy chew the corner of my college book and some things have been swallowed whole but I never had a dog eat my homework.

Fast forward past all those school years, all those college reports and assignments, and past 15 years of homeschooling my own children.

Never has happened!

Last week I did the simple task of taking Adrain's wedding dress to the cleaner to get steamed. I was given the claim ticket. That day the girls brought Corey's Christmas gift to Adrain (a cute, sweet, furry Yorkie puppy) to the house to play with and, in the mist of my lazy reclining evening, a furry blur whizzed past the doorway and skidded across the new wood floors followed by Annie. There was mention of a piece of paper as a chase ensued. I paid it no mind; Annie was having fun and little Marley was getting some exercise. The whizzing and skidding continued back and forth across the shiny slick new floor.

When the culprit was finally overtaken and the paper pryed from her fierce latch, both dog and paper were brought to me with a questioning "Don't know what this is but do you still need it?"

It was the dry cleaner's claim ticket for the wedding dress. Part of it was sliced in half and one corner was found on the floor.

Luckily the claim number was still recognizable.

I have already delivered the dry cleaning ticket and the dog safely back in Adrain's arms, wishing I had paid more attention to the race and the white flag flying from the dog's mouth.

I will never again doubt any stories of dogs eating people's important homework (much less other important papers) and I apologize to all the dogs I ever doubted.

Constructive Creative Messes

We still seem to make messes and more messes; only the girls seem to clean-up a bit better, a bit, than they used to.

This morning I left Annie in the study with her timed math lesson and returned to a playground construction site underway made out of playdoh and yarn, complete with slide, swing, see-saw, and merry-go-round.

"Very creative use of your time." I pat her head. "Now back to the math lesson."

But it was time for her sister's doctor visit so she loaded reading book, math lesson, math book, and reading comprehension into her book bag and we set out.

The other day I found these 14 year old birthday twins in my kitchen making Mochi Ice Cream.

"Let it be as messy as it's gonna be.
A warm wet rag cleans it up beautifully.
And it's so worth the memories."
{~Paula Deen}

Foolery in the Kitchen

If anyone visits my home today they will think blueberry jam is bubbling away on my stovetop or blueberry muffins are blanketed soft and downy in the oven. They may be fooled into thinking a blackberry cobbler is steaming soft and syrupy in the oven.

The children did keep an eye on Uncle Gerald's berry bushes while he was at the camp during Eastertide and one of the girls did take a sullen, moody walk to the cow pasture  one day and came back revived and renewed with muddy sneakers and a bowl full of purple-black berries. 

Sugar and cream anyone?

But today I'm not cooking or baking anything. I have to go shoe shopping for a wedding. ;-)

And so, if anyone visits my home today, they will be offered a cup of coffee and the wonderful smell of a kitchen in the mist of springtime pleasures.

But the blueberry smell is wafting from my Scentsy Warmer a gift from my friend Becky...not my oven. ;-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Temperament God Gave You to Work With

Part 2---The Mommy Wars

Whether a wife/mother works outside the home must involve intentional discussions, praying, prudent planning, and much discernment between the spouses with special discernment towards the needs of the children. It also involves knowing that God's Will will trump any plans of ours and temper that knowledge (because knowing God's Will is such an incredibly hard thing to know) in knowing that God will take any bad decisions of ours and make good come out of them.

Know Thyself

The decision to work outside the home or not also involves fully knowing (and accepting) our temperament.  Accepting our temperament is far more difficult than finding out what it is.

It is often more difficult for our family to accept those God-given temperaments than it is for us to accept them.

Or...perhaps it is the other way around...harder for us to accept our own temperament than for others to do so.

Whichever it is, and I don't attempt to know the answer, our temperament truly defines us, as well as defines our life, because it is weaved into our DNA so finely and meticulously. Our temperament defines why we make the decisions we make; it is endowed by God and thus who we are. It was weaved into us by a "Professional", I guess you could say.

What Is Temperament?

In brief, temperament is one's personality type based on the four humors identified by the Father of Medicine himself, Hippocrates.

 "The body of man has in itself blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile; these make up the nature of the body, and through these he feels pain or enjoys health. Now, he enjoys the most perfect health when these elements are duly proportioned to one another in respect to compounding, power and bulk, and when they are perfectly mingled. Pain is felt when one of these elements is in defect or excess, or is isolated in the body without being compounded with all the others."

Knowing One's Temperament

Here is a pretty simple 72 Jung and Briggs Myers Personality Test you can take online. It will tell you a little about yourself. It does not define your temperament but give personality traits. I was able to predict mine pretty much:

My Personality Type is:


My personality is high in perception. I perceive people reactions, situations, and feelings at a rather high level. I have often wondered if that makes people uncomfortable. When you test, try not to analyze yourself too harshly and do not test in past tense, your childhood or your past life, but how you are today.

Our personalities and reaction to situations do change with experience and maturity. No two people's results will tell the whole story or be all inclusive. You want to know what your temperament is today, not yesterday or tomorrow, but know that these traits tend to change with circumstances, experiences, and interactions.

Remember also that no person is 100% introvert or 100% extrovert. We are all, in fact, multi-faceted creatures made in the image and likeness of God. These tests and labels do not define us but, rather, show us where our strengths are and where our comfort zones lies.

You might be interested in this book The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett (54 paged PDF file of the first part of the book as well as a Temperament Indicator)

Study of the Four Temperaments is fascinating for those who like to study human nature and why people tick the way they tick...or don't tick. People have made studies out of this and, because human beings are such complex creatures, these studies have expanded into every direction you can imagine. Here is something about the Keirsey Temperament Sorter which results in 16 personality types. For anyone it's a good way to learn why other people react the way they do and how to better get along with people in your social or work circle.

Knowing temperament styles is a necessary plus (somewhat vital) in knowing to to get along with family members, especially one's spouse and/or children.

The important thing to remember is that we ALL have strengths and we ALL have weaknesses. There is not one person whose score or personality type is perfect. Extrovert people tend to feel outwardly superior to introvert people. Introverts tend to feel inwardly superior to extrovert people. This alone is a false asumption that God made one person superior to another. Totally false and extremely arrogant.

Accepting One's Temperament

The other night I was trying to justify to my husband something I had not done yet that I felt like I should have already done and I just couldn't bring myself to do; and I knew exactly why the said-thing wasn't getting done.

It demanded too much of me.

"I have to have my downtime," I moaned to my husband. "I just have to have my downtime or I am incapable of doing anything at all."

"Well, that's fine," he said, "but you seem to need more downtime than uptime."

Now, knowing my husband, he was being funny...because he's usually a funny guy...all the Gibson guys are...but, after 26 years of marriage (this May), his wit is sometimes lost on me. I want sympathy, not comic relief. I've remembered his comments days later because I have thought too much over the downtime I've sequestered myself inside of these past couple weeks. But, the fact is, I am in a singular season of my life. This season of downtime assures me of getting through the uptimes that are sure to come, most notably this week.

Even the earth begs a season to sit in quiet reprieve in winter. In spring, it springs into a lovely new dress and rotates into life with a flouishing dance, multi-tasking, nurturing, caring, serving. Then she settles her skirts to enjoy the picnic of life. She enjoys the fruits of her labor then snuggles back under a blanket of leaves and snow to await the new dress and the new season.

Women are much the same way. Sorry, folks who may disagree, but women are made very different from men. I am not an "expert" but I have a husband and 2 sons and 3 daughters to prove my point. Men are task-oriented; women are people-oriented. Men see what is in front of them; women see what is on the sides, top, and bottom of everyone. Men tend to the task before them; women multitask constantly.

Of course we all know there are no defining limits on the above. In accord with our particular temperaments, we all share similar components and differences but, overall, men and women ar different.

Working Through Life Despite One's Temperament

I am sure I am more intentional than intense. While some people have an overwhelming need to do and act during times of stress, I have an overwhelming need to just be and think. I blame it on God.;-)

It is not the duties or work, however, that quells me but, rather, the constant interrruptions. I can do the work, it's the excessive noise and commotion in the back that paralzes me. I have written before about expectations and their crippling effect on me.

But, thank God for conversions. :-)
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!"  (St. Therese of Lisieux) 
Like St. Therese and her Christmas conversion, I had my own minor conversion of sorts several years ago. I've learned to not only quiet and calm myself but to quiet and calm all those voices and constant interruptions. Not an easy thing to do but God has sent great teachers into my life to teach me how. A few may know who they are. ;-) I also encourage the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

If anyone is under any illusion that I do too much, my family will bring me back to my knees. Our temperaments can be affected by a glob of hormones and pre-menopause mood swings, thyroid issues and blood pressure pulsing as well as many other things.

I felt guilty my birthday morning when my husband worked until 11 at night then got up to fix me a birthday breakfast at 5. I felt guilty as all my grown children left the breakfast table to go out into the early dawn to work and school while I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and my youngest and I cuddled on the sofa to watch "A Wrinkle in Time"...then fell asleep. I felt guilty last night when my husband got home from work after working over and I was already sleeping on the sofa and then when he got up in the dawn to go to work this morning and I was still sleeping. I feel guilty for admitting these lazy sessions whether I admit them to 20 readers or 200 readers or 2000 readers.

The reason for the guilt is in knowing that in sharing these faults, I am placing myself into the firing line of those arguments that justifies stay-at-home mommies as being shiftless and lazy...without knowing the whole story.

Only Through God is Any Work Glorified

Again, thank God for conversions or I would indeed be shiftless and lazy. I have to believe that what I do each day is an offering of self to God or all that I do becomes nothing at all. Irrelevant and unnecessary. Only God can amp it to a high level.

The whole story behind my personal "downtime" are all the little things that must be done every day and all the mental work that goes on inside a woman's head. I might be sitting but my brain is forever jumping forward and sideways and backwards. The mental work exhausts me in a way the physical never could, but the mental work affects the physical state as well. In an attempt to store-up my mental energy, I have to conserve my physical energy. It isn't laziness or weakness; it's the temperament God gave me. There isn't much I can do to change that. It's about self-conservation which is a whole other ball of wax. 

Again, this is where God enters in or it becomes useless thoughts, useless logic, useless nothingness.

This is what drives work-outside-the-homers crazy. Those friends of mine who are single parents, having to work full-time jobs and tend to children's education and health issues as well as pay the bills and oversee countless other "little' tasks; my hat is off to them. I don't see or know how they do it. I just don't know. That our technological, media bred age is running us to death and creating us to be people God never intended us to be is another conversation as well.

What drives work-outside-the-homers crazy is that I actually have the "time" and "privilege" to conserve any energy at all. That I have the privilege to focus fully on home and hearth and self. That I have the benefit to unburden myself during some part of the day. That I actually have time at home to unwind, refocus, and have sanctifying "downtime" is appalling to some and "unfair" at best.

Yet I know the temperament He gave me and all my life decisions (for the most part) have been made in order to live within that temperament. If I abuse this temperament I am not being the best that I am capable of being. Frankly, if I don't live within my temperament, I am abusing the person God made me to be. God knows me better than I know myself; He made me!

If I abuse my temperament, my children will have a crazy mother and we don't want that! Now do we?

{Next Time: How part-time work has given my temperament the balance it needs}

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stay-At-Home Mom is an Oxymoron

I wasn't going to go there. I really wasn't.


Oh, you know...the foxhole in the Mommy Wars.

I really don't have the time. Usually.

I usually have a laundry room popping with unclean, unfolded, pure-wrinkled, unrotated clothing. I have a blind, deaf dog who wanders into the woods and has to be bathed so that fleas and ticks don't find their way on the unwashed (sometimes unmade) bedding. I have school papers to check and correct. I have children to bring to dance and ball practice and play dates because (God forbid!) they don't get proper socialization (God forbid!). I have supper to fix. Easter baskets and birthday parties to shop for. A wedding (a week from today) to prepare for (so next week I am completely planning to be the working employee of my son and his fiancee'---willingly so) and schedule haircuts and shoe shopping.

But, today I have a chunk of time to write so, maybe I will go there. :-)

I'm also utterly exhausted with the whole debate.

My first thought when I read this was "Really!?! You've got to be kidding me! What century are we in again?"

And I applauded Mitt Romney's outstanding sense and sensibility of his wife's work: "My job is temporary...Your job is a forever job that's going to bring forever happiness..."

Takes a true man to acknowledge that. A sentiment such as this is sweeter to any wife than a bouquet of flowers. Flowers fade and die. Words of praise speak forever to the heart.

At a wedding a fews years back, when someone complimented my cousin on the way his children turned out, my cousin gave a lovely kudos to his wife, and she was no where within earshot. "She was the one home with them most of the time," he said. "She did a very good job."

Never once did he add that without him working to provide for their family, she couldn't have stayed home and done the job she did. Never once did he add that she worked for a time outside the home. Never once did he try to expand upon his place in the home. He didn't have to. By his words of praise, we knew that his wife had not raised those children single-handedly.

It was the work of both parents.

Like a great dancing couple, a wonderful partner always compliments his partner and, by doing so and not seeking any personal praise, he draws attention to the couple as a whole instead of to the individual who is only half of the whole and incomplete during the dance.

So what work do stay-at-home moms actually do when, to the world at large, it looks as though we aren't doing anything? What contribution do we give? What gain do we contribute?

Raising decent, law-abiding, hard-working, trust-worthy citizens and Christians men and women to be sent into the world is of utmost value and importance! If we do this we have contributed to society in a HUGE way, a very important way.

This is not to say that moms who work outside the home do not contribute these same decent, law-abiding, hard-working, trust-worthy sons and daughters out into the world. Either way it is a sacrifice fought and hard-earned. It is not an easy task and so parents should unite no matter where their workplace is, no matter if they are the stay-at-home mother fully home or the work-outside-the home mother fully present.

The world's view that stay-at-home moms don't "do" anything to benefit society hangs over the head of my generation. The very term "stay-at-home mom" is an oxymoron in today's world. It voids us of anything we do "do". The stay-at-home mom that people grit their teeth over is the Susie Homemaker icon made famous by the media circus in the 1950's.

I've talked to my grandmother who raised two children in the 1940s and 1950s. Susie Homemaker never existed.

Women left the homes because they knew she didn't exist. They knew their work was more real than she was superficial. She didn't exist any more than Rosie the Riveter existed.

These were stereotyped icons of another time and place.

The terms and images have stuck because they are a place of the heart more than anything else. If we are more a homebody, family-oriented, or have a love of home cozies, we usually label ourselves as a stay-at-home mom and Suzie Homemaker is our diva. If we have an extrovert temperament and the walls of home close in on us, we think of Rosie as a brave, darling, adventerous girl.

Today we are at home if we want to be. We work outside the home if we choose to do so. The classic stay-at-home mom doesn't exist in the 21st century. We are everywhere.

There are seasons for us as women. Nothing is status quo in this century.

Enter Creative Connie! Wish I had a clipart picture of her. :-) But this little lady is all around us. She is our neighbor, our friend, our college roommate, our sister, our niece, our daughter. She doesn't do things quite like they've been done in the past but she's living her life with her children and she's doing it the best way she can.

The friends I know at home are doing great things to serve others. Call them Creative Connies. We've come along way, Baby, and are paving more roads for daughters and daughter-in-laws to venture down so that they will have the options to proudly be Susie Homemakers if they want to in a world of Rosie Riverters or to have the work grit like Rosie Riveter with the heart of Susie Homemaker upon their sleeve! They can be Susie Homemaker while having a Rosie Riveter business from home.

One friend told me with a sly smile, "Yeah, the family harps on me getting a 'real' job and yet I took care of all of their children so that they could work." They should be serving her now instead of giving her a hard time during her "golden" years. Another friend carves out a few hours each week to work in the paint section at Wal-Mart. Another house sits for the elderly. Another one stocks greeting cards in department stores. Still another cleans houses. Another irons and sews. Quit a few are making their mark with Pampered Chef, Plexus Slim, Avon, and other household names. The writers among us are numerous. Online Etsy and Ebay stores are too many to count. Several babysit in their homes. One has a newspaper route she does in the early morning hours so she is home with her boys during the day. One teachers piano. Another tutors school subjects. Another one has a monogram business inside her home.

It really isn't a do-you-work or do-you-stay home debate any more.

It's a competition of moms competing over who raises the best, well-rounded, educated, self-sufficient children. Who has the newer car? The leather seats? Who has the bigger house and the nicer clothes? Who has the hearts of their children? And who doesn't.

And what happens when we fail?

It's a competition, a vicious competition that you don't hear men, husbands, and dad arguing over.
I'm sure the Creative Connies out there have some answers.

I Prefer Small Spaces and Glowing Candles

I've decided I'm going to write today. I have this chunk of time to write and, though I don't know what I'm going to write or if I have any audience left, I am going to write.

Honestly, I haven't "felt" like writing much and am thoroughly discouraged over anything I "do" write. I read lots of other expressive thoughts, sentiments, ideas, etc. on the Internet and it makes me feel void of adding anything to that. There's so much out there!!! I almost heckle at the idea that I can possibly add anything to the ever-increasing ruckus and that's pretty much how I've lived my life...pussyfooting backwards into the shadow of everyone else's thoughts, words, and ideas.

Some may call it lack of confidence.

It isn't. By no means.

Let me explain.

When I was younger I was called shy. Maybe. Introvert. Maybe. My writing let's me speak without people misunderstanding me, without people assuming anything about me, without people speaking up for me.

But one thing I have always been sure of is who I am, what I wanted, and that I have been loved unconditionally all my life. My parents gave me that confidence. My husband and children have nourished it.

I've struggled, like everyone, in different areas, but I've always known who I am, what I wanted, and that I was loved.

That gets a person pretty far in life.

Far? you say! Far? You still live in the same town you were born in. You still live near your parents. You have never made enough money in your life to support yourself, much less a family! You haven't written a best seller.

The world wants to beat us down, doesn't it?

Don't give it permission to do so. Stand up to it.

Contentment is a far greater thing than Confidence.

I may walk in the shadows of others but I know where I stand and who I am.  If I find myself in the shadows it's because I choose to be there. I don't like bright-lights or cameras and it isn't lack of confidence at all. I like the peace. I don't need lights, cameras, and action to feel important or to know who I am and what I'm about.

Every now and then I step out of the shadows and add a few thoughts. Every now and then I publish a book (it's been a while). Every now and then the mama bear in me has had to bare her teeth. But, for the most part, I can never understand why people are not comfortable in their own space, their own skin.

I prefer small glowing candles. I am at peace with an occassional moth that flies into its light. Soft candles beckon me to come out of the shadows and sit a spell. I prefer one-on-one conversations with my friends at their homes and mine with so many children running throughout. I like intimate community life around the kichen island at Monday co-op classes and a room full of religious education instructors rather than corporate rat races. I thrive in the bosom of family rather than social upheaval. A conversation with a son while sitting on a car bumper or a conversation with a daughter while collecting eggs from the chicken coop brings me bubbling forth more than being handed a microphone.

I prefer small to big, except when it comes to family and friends; I'm a contradiction of self that way. ;-)

Actually, my family is enough for me.

Dull! Boring! Maybe.

But I am content. I know who I am. What I want. What I'm about. And that I am loved unconditionally by so many people. This knowledge alone makes me step out in faith. Into the Light!

Which brings me to the Mommy Wars which were ignited again by the comment of Hilary Rosen against Ann Romney.

I wasn't going to go there. I usually don't have the time. But, since I have a chunk of time to write...maybe I will go there.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Business of Blessings

Thank you for all the prayers for the happy couple. The wedding date is quickly approaching but, first, there was the blessing of this weekend.

On Saturday, April 7th, during the Easter Vigil, our son's fiancee' Adrain, followed the new Paschal Candle through the doors of St. Theresa's Catholic Church. After a year of discussion and studying and inquisition and reading and discernment, she followed a physical sign representing the Light of the World, through the doors of a Catholic church, into the faith of our family.

Because of her answer to this call, our grandchildren, before they are even called into being, have been given a gift: the gift of a two parents sharing a faith, the gift of parents who know that for a marriage to have any chance of surviving it must be built on faith and dependance on God.
Several family and friends have asked me what led to her decision to join the Catholic church.

We live in a world of curiosity. We are constantly wanting to know what is going on in other people's lives, in other people backyards, in other people's business. I do not object to the questions at all. If I am truthful, I've pondered them myself. 

Faith, afterall, is not something to be taken lightly. Certainly there is great discernment done before answering a call to change one's religion.
The girl I've come to know and love would not mind them at all either and would answer in her own quiet, giving way. For her there is
no secret, no great revelation, no mystery. She loves our son and wishes to make a home, a family, a life with him. Part of that encompasses the church they shall attend and the faith they shall practice.

But, for the mothers among us, life becomes a deeper mystery when we first hold that babe in our arms, stare into his eyes, and wonder (pray) over what the future has in store for him. We are always trying to get inside our children's hearts. From there, everything becomes a mystery. Love is a crazy thing and it does that.

I have not spoken to Adrain at length about her decision to join the faith of our family. Part of me doesn't feel the need to know. I've heard others ask her and some who went to R.C.I.A. classes with them have shared bits but, overall, we have simply welcomed her decision with a quiet faith that God's hands are at work in the life of our family.
That is enough for us.

This particular blessing has taught me more than ever that nothing my husband and I ever did in raising our children is worthy of this grace. We did nothing at all.

It is a grace freely given and, thus, should be freely received.
Sometimes questions place a burden upon our shoulders that God never intended us to shoulder.

I tend to see the failings in my past parenting all too quickly. I'm a mess at wanting to turn back the clock and do it all over again...corectly this time.

I sigh in resignation and know that I have no choice...none whatsoever...than to give it all back to God and ask Him to make it whole again, good again...
...worthy...of something! anything!

He has intervened on this young couple and blessed them abundantly. Not that they deserve it. Not that our family deserves it. We deserve nothing. In a world that lives an entitlement mentality this is a foreign notion and, often, a scary idea. Yet we come into this world naked and we leave naked. The very first breath of air we breathe, and each breath thereafter, is a gift. Everything given is a gift. We deserve nothing.

That our whole family is blessed because of one girl's personal decision, that our family lineage is blessed because of a choice made, is a Paschal bonus, part of the Paschal Mystery. Some mysteries cannot be solved no matter how hard we analyze them, inspect them, and turn them over and over in our heads, hands, and heart.

Sometimes, in order to fully appreciate a gift, we have to let go of the mystery, place it back in God's hands and ...

Be Still!

For me, this has been a part of God's business and I am hesitant to question His business.

Afterall, gifts should leave our hearts full of thanksgiving, not questions.

{courtesy of Richard Paul Evans}

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