Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Chance to Live All Over Again

Babies make the world go round and forward. Without babies, life would just stop and we'd all be a bunch of selfish, self-centered zombies.

Babies give you the chance to live life all over again, more fully.

They teach you more than you've ever been taught.

They teach you about love so intense it hurts.

They teach you about sacrifice and loss.

They bless you in ways you've never been blessed. They are a precious commodity.

They give you hope that tomorrow will be something beautiful.

Babies give you the chance to live life all over again.
And God keeps giving our family the gift of life, lessons, and love over...and over...and over again.

Introducing Grandchild #1...
Mr. Hudson Andrew Gibson

{Auntie Annie fully expects him to share the beautiful month of December with her. ;-) }

After the ultrasound, Kayleigh baked secret "gender reveal" cupcakes and Grandpa and I were treated to a private video viewing with cupcake in hand. {The little aunts were there as well.) Much excitement in the air! I told my Facebook friends, I'm not as confused as I look in the photo. A dear friend of mine said I didn't look confused at all, just intent. God, bless that friend! Lol!

At a pre-selected time, the video was paused and we were allowed to open our cupcake to reveal...

Please pray for the parents. They are 19 and young and in love. It's not the best situation. We know that and so do they. I usually don't go into the lives of my older children on this here blog but sometimes lives get spliced open in order to reveal His power, His message, His generosity.

They have both been working two jobs. Garrett will start our community college this fall, knowing that the next two years are part of his preparation at being a father. They both have families and friends who are supporting their decision to keep the baby and raise it. It won't be easy but it's a chance to stretch further, a chance to pray harder, a chance to love more fully.
My friend Tina calls it a Life Challenge. I like that term. Life Challenges are good for us.This is so about life. And who can deny the challenge?

As my niece said, life isn't easy but it's still beautiful.
I'm seeing the beauty in smiles like these...and blue-tinted cupcakes made by excited aunties...and little purple LSU t-shirts...and cotton-hued ultrasound pictures...and picking out of baby names and grandparents names...and such caring words of wisdom from a community of family and friends who love us dearly. :-)

And, most of all, I'm seeing the beauty in the chance to live all over again in the presence of this dear, dear, dear little heartbeat who waved at us from the television screen.

God had this little soul in mind from the beginning of time.
In the end it is not about how children come into the world that matters, but how we receive them.  

It was His plan to ask us to love this child and watch over him.
And we said, yes, of course. It's an honor and a privilege.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Everything Slows Down

Watching a kitten nurse is a little like watching fish swim in a fish tank, a fire flicker in the dark, or a sun set over the lake.

Everything slows down.

One's heart. One's breath. One's thoughts.

There are still faint signs of life.

The flutter of a fin. The gentle flip of tail. The motion of heat. The sizzle of engulfment. The steady breathing of life. The faint tremble of an infant chin. The twitch of momma's ear.

But the stillness reminds you that God is looking over your shoulder.

When Your Child Hurts {and so do you}

All parents have a favorite child. Erma Bombeck describes that favorite child beautifully:

"All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there."

Parents of older children are no longer overseeing bad haircuts, failed spelling bees, stolen bicycles, unattended birthday parties and life with braces. Parents of older children see this favorite child from a mountaintop of experience. Those parents are no longer in the mist of human frality and weakness; that was just prep camp for life's real battles. The favorite child has now become a victim of his/her sins and the sins of others. Our children's infancy taught us sympathy and compassion for others. When they are grown and leave our protection, we go into combat with those who were never taught or never learned.
What can parents use as they go into war with-for their favorite child? I'm not a professional or a counselor but here's a couple things I've turned to and encourage parents not only to offer it to their "favorite" child but to seek the good for themselves as well (some things may have to be adjusted for sons and daughters as they approach things differently):
  • Make an appointment with God: Adoration Hour and prayer time
  • A trip to the confessional (hospital of mercy) might be in order.
  • Send your child text messages that affirm them, short prayers that protect them, and assurances of your love and support throughout their day.
  • Give your child books that encourage positive thinking such as: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life
  • Turn to a mother who knows how you feel, who saw her son rejected and scorned, who lost a son, a mother who stood beneath a cross and had her forehead anointed by her son's sufferings. Consecrate child and all into the hands which cared for Our Lord. Like any good grandmother, she will bring your pleas and hope to the Master. This book will serve as a guide: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael Gaitley
  • For daughters, give her One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp along with a gratitude journal (complete with a message from mom to that favorite child).
  • Get your child reading stories of the saints, especially the saints who survived hard knocks in life and how handled them for God's glory.
  • Seek out a mentor or spiritual director for you and your child if necessary.
* * * * *
(for those wondering who that "favorite" child may be)
Erma Bombeck's "My Favorite Child"
"Every mother has a favorite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine – the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand. My favorite child is the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party – who had measles at Christmas – who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in – who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.
My favorite child spent Christmas alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on E, lost the money for his class ring.
My favorite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless.
My favorite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other people’s feelings, and informed he was a royal pain to the entire family.
My favorite child slammed the doors in frustration, cried when she didn’t think I saw her, withdrew and said she could not talk to me.
My favorite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn’t curl, had no date for Saturday night, and a car that cost $600 to fix. My favorite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered, and self-centered. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world, and quite wonderful.
All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Storing Granules of Grace with Gratitude

I had just dressed up my blog a wee bit yesterday when I came across this written by Emily at Chatting at the Sky:

"Even when I feel hopeless, discouraged or small, writing here reminds me that small isn’t a bad thing."
I've been blogging for 7 1/2 years, practically when weblogs were first unveiled. I was game to the idea and genuinely intrigued. But I held off. Would people think it presumptious that I actually thought I had anything to say, little me? Would people think I was too bold, little shy me?

I began tentatively. I wrote slightly and lamely. Tip-toed into the murky waters. I didn't share my blog with anyone probably the first year or so. I didn't share my blog openly with family until probably half-way through the 7 1/2 years. I spun my web slowly and carefully. I didn't hide it, mind you, but I didn't proclaim it from the door jamb either, least someone swat it down.

With publication of my books came an avalanche of attention. It was nice and everybody was so nice. But I never realized what a private person I am until that time. Then Facebook came around and there are no expectations at Facebook the way there are at blogs. I gave myself permission to spend more time there than here. That period was nice too.

I've never been one to jump on other people's wagons. I tend to like to tidy and decorate my own campground. In hindsight, I see the braveness of this. I was not born with a follow-the-crowd mentality. I hang back. But it isn't fear of the unknown or of what others think, that holds me back; it's the ever present, ever avoidable fear of pride. I don't want to fall victim to that vice.

There's also a mean-streak of originality in me that comes with being a writer. I don't want to fall into others' cliches and old plots. I don't want to be the character in other people's stories; I want to be the author and create something original, something worth sharing freely. I don't want to row the same pirougue as everyone else and this, dear reader, can also prove breeding ground for pride. We must be careful.

Emily writes: "God has used writing to convict me of sin and selfishness. He has also used it to convict me of righteousness and giftedness. You can’t leave that part out."

This was true for me. Writing this blog and reading others as built me up, lifted me up. It has refreshed my soul to see the way others think and, by doing so, to understand them and their stories better...more charitably.

I see myself observing my writing more...less impulsively. I am not happy with some things lately shared. Not that they were wrong to write or out-of-place or not due considering current events, but they are not what I want to be writing. They are not the voice I want to share. While those thoughts and conversations are in my life at this point, it is not the tone I want here. I want to look back on this blog years from now and see something good and holy, not drab and holy. I want my voice to lift others up, to make them smile, offer them to share and think, and, hopefully, to soar to their own adventure.

I have a couple more thoughtful posts to do before I turn over a fresh leaf but things will look fresher and more light here in the next couple of months. I feel a strong pull to reclaim this space and spend more time here than there.  I want to reclaim the adventure here.
Some things have come up in the past months...lots of happy, family, blessed events...that have stretched our family and bonded us. Grace has been poured into our family.

Grace has also been withdrawn, through our own sins and through the sins of others. But God heals and makes all things new again. And He waits to renew us, with more granules of grace. God doesn't keep a blog, at least I don't think He does, but His graces are journaled in a text that should be alongside all our computers.

Our adult children have grown into wonderful people that I can depend on and lean on. We have a new daughter-in-law who not only dries our clothes when the dryer breaks but also returns them folded. She also texts me on nights she is cooking and let's us know what is for supper that night. They live next door. ;-) We are beyond blessed.

And, due to that pride thing, I have often worried about others thinking my family lives a stressfree, overtly-blessed life. If my blog comes across that way it is only because I strive to find a glass full of positives in a world full of negatives.

I would put those positives in a crystal goblet if I could find one. Instead, I have only this little blog. 

The negatives are always there, always in our face, always threatening our peace. The graces are usually so small and fragile that they must be grasped carefully...sometimes on a simple blog such as this.

And...still...this fallen world threatens to knock that precious crystal glass from my hands and shatter it on the rocks.

Job's walk was real and Biblical. And God alway loved him.

I was recently talking to my daughter about her journal keeping. I don't want her to ignore the negative but I want her to focus on the positive. I encouraged her to go back to the gratitude journal I gave her this past Easter and wrap herself in God's graces. That is the armor whichs protects us from the harm this world invokes, through the sins of others and through our own sinfulness.

People remember the big awful things that happen in theirs lives while often forgetting the small graces God offers them everyday. Years later, if we thought to treasure those graces and store them in a crystal glass (such as a journal or blog), then we can come back to those little diamonds of grace and smile and put the big ugly things to rest because we can visually see all those fragile graces glistening in a fallen world.

My family has gone through a very full season in 2012. We're looking forward to a quieter season in the near future. We're anticipating a gentler season in the near future. We're praying for a graceful season.

And I will go back to storing my little slivers of light here on my blog because my family needs to see that light and, as mothers, we are the lightbearers.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

50 Years and Counting

50 years spent wallking side by side...

serving one another while serving others...

They are wonderful parents who have always put their children and grandchildren above all else. They taught me everything I needed to know about living a sacramental marriage and knowing that family life was our path to heaven.
There have been times they said too much...because all parents do...but, more than any words spoken, they have been shining examples of perserverance, charity, hard-work, forgiveness, wisdom, and...most of all...unconditional love.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Oma and Opa!
We Love Y'all!
Love, y'all's creations: "Mark, Cay, Corey, Adrain, Garrett 1, Tavyn, Kayleigh, Garrett 2, Chelsea and Annie"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What is Truth? What is Charity?

This past Sunday I sat in New Orleans' famous St. Louis Cathedral for Mass, knowing that the many arguments, misunderstandings, objections, and lukewarmness over the HHS Mandate (pdf flyer) swirled outside the Cathedral with the same menancing gray clouds of impending doom that lurked in the rain-clouded skies over New Orleans that day.
What is the HHS Mandate? (pdf flyer)

In the middle of our passion and needs and, certainly, our misunderstandings, we need to step back and remember this quote of Elizabeth Foss (along with supplied links). It is worth highlighting:
"Our goal is to defend religious freedom, yes. But our greater goal is to bring souls to God."

"Our  greater goal is to bring souls to God." That is the ultimate, end result. The arguments, misunderstandings, and objections of today are temporary time interruptions. What matters is not how the person feels right now, today, at this very moment but how they will feel on the day they die.

They may not agree with us today but your example will set the tone. They may make their mother weep bitter tears for many years (St. Augustine's mother did). They might hate the Church and persecute Christians (St. Paul did). They may have an abortion today (Catholic Worker Dorothy Day did). They may deny knowing their Lord (St. Peter did). They may have a child out of wedlock (Thomas Merton and St. Augustine both did). They may embrace the world and all it has to offer over their faith and all it has to offer.
But these are temporary time interruptions within the span of a lifetime.

Am I saying that we shouldn't speak to them? That we shouldn't give our friends the Truth?

I am not saying that. I'm only sad at how many words are being used and not enough charity is being made through action. And I love words. I write them often.

And words can hurt and sting and tear down. But words can prove meaningless in the end. Their wounds, however, remain. That is where charity steps in. We do not base our faith and the Truth on our fleeting feelings of today but we must remember that those feelings are part of our humanity, as delicate as it is.

Angry, hurtful outbursts from passionate Christians have been known to isolate and turnaway lost sheep for a lifetime. Hurling words and stones only scare the sheep away. They run off in another direction, into the unknown, into a field where someone or something else lurks, waiting for them.
Are we there with a gentle approach? Is the ringing of our dinner bell more conducive than empty words released?

Relationships are built on love, not hate and indifference.

Everyone thinks they have the Truth and speak with bold Charity.
Few do.

We speak of having the Truth, yet do not have the truth in our own lives. We self-proclaim the Truth but do not constantly seek knowledge of it.

We forget (or fail to observe) that "God opposes the proud...even when they're right." ~ Fr. Mike Scanlan, shared by Scott Hahn.

I am not opposed to Truth. But, like Pontius Pilate, my weak tunnel vision questions, "What is Truth?" In an OCD moment, I repeatedly bath my hands in the clear water, then dry them of ever finding that Truth because I live in a world where everyone thinks they have found the Truth. Few have. I cannot walk the path of others who "think" they have found the Truth. I must follow the Truth. Or, at least, trust that He will guide me back to it when I loose my way or take a detour. :-)

I only know that there is one Church I can follow because it is the one authority left to me by Christ. He did not leave me orphan. Like a good brother, He left me a recording (the Holy Spirit), a road map (Scripture), a mother (the Church), and a thick family album full of family stories and recipes and celebrates and feast days (Tradition), as well as a family who fights and feasts, lives and loves (the Communion of Saints).

I embrace my Catholic faith wholeheartedly because it has so much to offer. And, in over 2,000 years, it has never misguided its children in the things that truly matter.

So I don't worry about the Truth as much as the Charity which comes from my lips. Lately that has been my main focus...everything done in Charity because Charity remains even where Truth collides
And what is Charity?

My good friend Monica supplied these thoughts and quotes:
"In light of our president saying he likes to follow charity in his life of faith...

Fulton Sheen says, "Charity is in the will, not in the emotions or passions or senses. In human love, feelings have their places, but unless they are subordinated to reason, will and faith, they degenerate into lust, which wills not the good of the one loved, but the pleasure of the one loving."

"St. Augustine says,“Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”
"St. Therese says, "I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects--not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues."

"Many like to think of charity as just what St. Therese says, which is beautiful, but all three of these really make charity beautiful, I believe." ~ Monica

And this quote by St. Robert Bellarmine sums up all three nicely: "Charity is that with which no one is lost, and without which no one is saved."

One must find peace with knowing what type temperament they have in order to be charitable and share the Truth.

I have struggled, and searched, and prayed for that wisdom and, in a blindsided way found it. And, when finding it, was graced to be given a To Do list regarding the HHS Mandate and my small place in God's world.

More on that later.

In the meantime, how have you found your peace with God's Truth? How do you believe Charity is given and spread?

Passing of Bread Mentality

Interesting discussion in the Bookworm Room:
"I was speaking with my sister about a friend of hers, who belongs to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, in Oregon, although he does not live in tribal land. He’s a recovering alcoholic, and lives a fairly marginal existence. Sadly, his is not a unique experience for Native Americans. Statistics for the United States’ Indian populations are depressing. Those who live on reservations are poorer, less educated, less unhealthy, and more drug and alcohol addicted than the average American who does not live on a reservation. The reservations, although technically sovereign, are really federal appendages. Each is a mini-welfare state. The residents get to preserve their tribal identification and a few of their rituals (as long as they don’t violate federal law), but otherwise, barring those few who have gotten rich from oil or gambling money, these are rural ghettos.
The thing about these ghettos is that they are well-intended. We, the beneficent Americans, having taken over the land the Native Americans once freely roamed, have “generously” given back to them small slices of land. Full reparations are impossible. There’s no way America can return the entire continent to the Native Americans. But I wonder if government created ghettos are a blessing or a curse."

Read more here.
* * * * *
Brings to mind the wise words of Thomas Jefferson:
“Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. The course of history shows us that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” Thomas Jefferson

We are a lazy, self-indulgient lot, aren't we? But we have got to see beyond that. We have to get out of bed every morning and move forward; even if it's only to feed the chickens in our backyard, pick-up a shovel in our garden, save our extra change in a water jug, get re-educated over the Internet, read spiritual writing every day, work for what we want and be satisfied with what God gives us. And remember that Christ said, "The poor you shall have with you always." (Matthew 26:11/ Mark 14:7/ John 12:8)
I hate to sound cynical (I prefer to think that I'm a realist), but there will always be corrupt government, wars, homeless, dirty ghettos, and hungry souls. The wrong is in the way the rich man treated Lazarus. The right is in the passing of the bread to one another by one another.

And the freedom to do so.

Garrett's Graduation Video

June 2, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Daybook

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook

Outside my window...summer has arrived gently this year.

I am hearing...the rush of cars going to work this morning and...inbetween...the silence of country.
I am thinking...of the richness of family and friends God has given Mark and me.

I am thankful for...the richness of family and friends.
I am jeans shorts and red top with a bustline nod of buttons!

I am remembering...this past weekend. Wonderful. Complete. Beautiful.

This is my note to myself...My last daybook entry was January 9, 2012. At that time I wrote: "You will survive 2012. You will. You will. Enjoy the serenity of 2011 and remember that God will send many people in your path to help you waltz and party through 2012. And remember that all the things barrelling in on the eve of 2012 are rich celebrations. Joyful noise! Happy proclamations! Of life! And family! There is no reason to stress when things are joyful!"

Who would have ever predicted me to be a prophet? Not I. But my words were prophetic. God is good!
I am reading...cookbooks! And pamphlets on New Orleans.
I am going...on a soulful trip. Our children have collectively gotten together to send us away this weekend. It is a much needed retreat away from home and children and life and everything inbetween. It is much needed. We need to rest. There is no second-guessing our children's decision, no second-questioning our children's instructions, no attempt at returning our children's gift. We are exhausted. We recognize the gift and we graciously accept it.
I am creating...I'm not...I'm just being.
I am have a relaxing, refreshing retreat this coming weekend with my beloved.

On my mind...the gift of friends and family within the Body of Christ...the gift of souls who raise us up when troubles come and my heart burden be... 

From the learning rooms...Annie and I have begun talking about learning plans for 2012-2013. She's excited; I'm excited. Co-op classes have been offered and listed. Plans. Plans. Plans. For now...summer fun!

From the liturgical calendar...tried to complete my Marian Consecration using the 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat but, alas, I'm a slow reader and even slower at pondering and meditating. I refuse to speed the process. As someone wrote, this is a process. I want to make the consecration fully and thoroughly, knowing what I am doing and, more so, why I am doing it. I've already received many graces in the process. It's all in God's timing.

My list this week...a little bit of visiting with friends...a little bit of office work...a little bit of writing...a little bit of laundry...a little bit of packing.

Pondering these words..."If we judged parents by how their children turn out then our heavenly Father is the worst parent of all. We all know he is the most wonderful Father of all but we his children don't always make the best choices." ~ quote from a friend

From the kitchen...I've dug all my cookbooks out of the pantry...I'm on a cookbook binge...not really cooking much (too many leftovers from too much celebrating), but enjoying the possibilities

Around the house...not in the best shape but it's capable of being tamed so I am not stressing...yet.

One of my favorite things...quiet time

I am praying...for a special intention

From my picture booth from the homeschooler's graduation night...What a fun way to end a fun adventure!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bottling Up Garrett

Because the memories are only in the mother's heart...the little boy is now a man...and time keeps marching on...
Thank heavens for old photos, new memories, scrapbook-style blogs, and little boys who grow into exceptional men.

Recommendations by Engageya

Blog Archive