Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual @ soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Clear Mission

"I am part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

"The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

"My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God's hands. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.

"I no longer need preeminence, properity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ's presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God's grace.

"My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

"I cannot be bought, compromises, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

"I won't give up, shut up, let up, or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and spoken up for the cause of Christ.

"I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give until I drop, speak out until all know, and work until he stops me.

"And when he returns for his own, he will have no difficulty recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed."

~ Patrick Madrid (popular Catholic author)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Substance for the Stomach and Soul

Does anyone else see a buffet of similiarity between these posts?

DON'T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE? where the mother writes:

"I got home from the grocery store, and he immediately searched through all the bags to see what I had gotten for him. "You didn't buy me any cookies!" he announced, furrowing his brows in consternation. Then he said it. He asked me the big question that revealed all, that explained why he had been such a grumpy, unsupportive young man.

" 'Don't you LOVE me anymore?'

"My jaw dropped as I thought, "Is that what he thinks? I tell him I love him every day and hug him and kiss his cheek and talk with him and wash his clothes when he has been too busy because of work and school, but Cookies = Love?

"Then he smiled and laughed to cover up his wounded heart. I smiled and laughed with him, but the next time I went to the store, I bought him a bag of Chips Ahoy. When I got home he looked through all the bags and found the one labeled, "MY MOM LOVES ME A LOT". His attitude has improved dramatically."

BOYS AND FOOD where the mother writes:

"Food is my boys’ love language and I continue to be amazed at the difference it makes in our home. On those magical days when the boys come home to find the larders full, I can sense the difference.
"Psychologically, I don’t quite understand it. Maybe they feel secure, maybe they feel at peace. Perhaps it all speaks to that innate hunter/gatherer aspect of a male personality, but that wouldn’t totally explain things because with that theory they would be the ones out shopping.
"Ultimately, I only understand that when I buy food, my boys feel loved by me. To them, buying groceries is the most important part of what I do.

"The truth is I am called to do so many things for them. My vocation as mom calls me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children in my home. And of all the ways I care for them — working to have a well-ordered home and clean sheets and loving Jesus and my husband and this life God’s given me — well top priority, in this season, seems to be the food.

"Right now, it’s all about food."

(This originally ran in The Southern Cross)

SERVING BROKEN DONUTS in which this mother writes:  
"I contemplated the scenario of my own children rejecting a broken donut. I contemplated my own gut reaction at their possible rejection. Would I meet their sinfulness with my own? Or would I swallow the yeast of my pride and, like this nun, offer a smile and keep serving whole donuts in place of broken ones?

"Sadly, too often, I confront my children’s sinful nature with my own. I forget to add the sugar of human kindness to the yeasty growth which allows the bread of life to overflow. Instead I speak harshly about being grateful. 'Be grateful for what you have…' And I proclaim it to be discipline. Yet gratitude is never harsh.

"I doubt I will teach my children anything with a sharp voice and a broken donut. When will I learn that examples teach better than words? When will I learn that smiles are simply frowns turned upside down?

"Whatever my decision, that is my offering to God. Do I offer Him broken donuts? Broken attitudes? Broken souls? Or do I offer good whole ones?"

Whether we romance our faith or not...whether we romance the ideal or the reality...the truth is the Corporal Works of Mercy go hand-in-hand with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Coming upon any soul starving for food or for Christ, we must meet one need in order to serve the other need.

Coming upon any civilization in a third-world country, the missionnaries feed the people food before they nourish them spiritually.

Coming upon our own American families  during times of forest fires, hurricanes, floods, or tornado damage; we provide food to them before ministering to their soul.

Do not mock the donuts and chocolate milk served after Sunday Mass. They might be the one thing a child remembers when he is grown and has left the church. One day, after years of abstinence, that boy might take his grandmother to church or go to church remembering that grandmother. A donut handed to him after Mass might feed his memory, his spirit, his longing, his desire, his soul for...

...for something with more substance.

Do not scorn the cookie your child's CCD teacher hands him every Wednesday. That cookie and the kind hand that feeds it to him when he comes with growling stomach straight from school might be the only thing he remembers of his religion lesson. And the active lesson of feeding the hungry outways the book lesson every. single. time. The active lesson offers a promise of something with...

...with more substance.

When we feed the stomach we really do feed the soul.
Christ taught us that.

What To Talk About?

It's been many mornings since I had digital hours to count off on my fingertips, hours not spent helping children with school work, getting out the door to the office, taking children to co-op, paying bills, running in ever so many directions.

This morning I've given myself permission to take a morning off.

It's nice.

Not that I wasn't bolted out of bed earlier than planned. It started with my husband accepting the free gift of a kitten for Annie. The co-worker dropped it off at our house this morning which led to merry hours of quiet play and sleep in her room until...

...until I was awaken by the undeniable sound of pitiful meowing. I instructed my 9-yr-old to take the kitten outside (which was the plan for the cat from the start) to use the potty. What followed was little girl drama which we haven't had in quite awhile.

A rush down the hallway. Tears. Sobbing. Denial. A tale of the kitten getting away. Tears. Something about 'under the truck.' More tears.

I crawled out of the warm covers, hoisted my jeans and stuffed my gown into them, and skulked down the hallway to the rescue.

I won't try to make it sound glamorous. I wasn't.

We tried everything. Grabbing. Coaxing. Whistling, Beckoning. Grabbing a leg and hanging on. Warm milk.

After reassuring Annie that the kitten just needed to get use to us and her new surroundings and that she would stay where the food was; I left the milk under the truck, the tearful little girl at the window, and went back to bed. I didn't mention fan belts and cats don't mix.

I'm not big on drama.

(Update below for anyone not wishing to read the rest of my Friday ramblings.) :-)

Anyway, I have this morning to write and decided to write a blog post because I honestly haven't sat down and written a blog post in quite awhile. I don't even know where I'm going with this one. For the most part my blog posts have been quotes, pictures, and one-sentence comments. Randomness.

That's all I've had time for. Randomness.

I want more from this blog than randomness. I want more than what I've been giving. I used to be so production and regular with my blogwriting. And it's been many years.

I got on the blog bandwagon many years ago (January 2005 to be exact) with House of Literature Bookmobile. Blogs were brand-spanking new and I wasn't sure what they were for but they sounded very journal-ish which excited my writer's brain and Melissa Wiley was starting one so it couldn't be a bad thing. My first blog post written on January 29, 2005 was whimsical and creative:

"Testing...I'm learning something new!"

I was off to a slow start but starting to take flight. I then flurried over to Typepad in January 2006 with several other bloggers and blogged there for 3 1/2 years. Lots of good blogging days there. Those were rich blogging days when I was able to get sometimes two, sometimes three posts a day. I published a couple of books and had lots of visitors at Typepad. Sweet days of fruitfulness.

It seems slightly ironic that my most productive writing times were when my children were babies, small, very little and very needy. I equate that into being home more and, thus, having more time to think, sort, write, and journal. Life entrapped within four walls is easier to journal than life spread outside. When one has lots of older children who are not as needy but just as demanding is a whole other ball of busyness. Life is more frantic when it happens outside the home than within and there is no place to spread your mind out and sort, condense, and reorganize. I do have notebooks. Lots and lots of notebooks with random writings and jottings but that is as far as those thoughts go. No time to unscramble and sort and make sense out of any of it. 

Back to blogging...I made a decision in June 2009 to save pennies and switched back to Blogspot. Since then my blogging has waned as have my visitors. I have lots of writing ideas but can't seem to find the time, the energy, or the brain power to get them from my head to the screen. Sometimes it happens. Mostly it's a litany that records and repeats over and over again in my head while I'm showering, driving, or sleeping.

I have also noticed a perfectionist tendency I never realized I had. Is it common to develop a perfectionist tendency later in life? Or does that happen when the children grow up and the baby toys are put away and sold? Whatever the reason, I believe this perfectionist tendency (something I scorned and scoffed at years ago) is the true culprit of my writing lag.  

What I write never sounds as good on screen and paper as it does in my head. It disappoints me, especially when I read better bloggers, better writers and decide that they have said it better anyway. The word is out, the message is out and why should I reinvent the wheel in this massive wave of words and messages that is out here. Readers' time is precious...I know mine is...why give them more words to read if they are not written well and meaningful?

The more I've written and the better writer I've become, the more my writing mocks me and galls me. And silences me.

So I crawl away, happy to watch and read from my home, let the words and messages of others pour over me, refresh me, revive me.

I have devoted more time to reading and studying which is where, I assume, God wants me to put my energies. So that is all good.

Years ago I realized that nothing gets written, much less published, without God willing it. Yes, I do need to make myself available, but if He desires it, He will give me the time, the energy, the inspiration, the motivation, and the brain power to get it done. There's a season for writing. I know that and, when the time comes, I'll know that too.

I did happen to pull and flip through Christmas Mosaic yesterday. It was sweet revelation to discover that my writing is not half bad and it's a beautiful, rich book. It excited me to think of doing another one.

I do have a children's book out to a publisher and I'm hoping (praying?) they accept it.

I'm doing lots of reading about spiritual direction and I feel a pull, a tug, on my heart. Is it a calling? Am I a good listener? Do I listen the right way? Is this a fruitful time when God is teaching me to be silent and listen more? Am I allowing the ground to be watered? Am I accepting and living in the season? Awaiting the fruit? I think so. God's timing is perfect.

My job as Director of Religious Education at our parish church continues to be rewarding and massive. The liturgical year goes by in a blur. Who would imagine that! But it is all God's time, not mine. So I read, study, plan, and implement as best I can. I place it in His hands and go to the next page, the next plan, the next week, the next month. I keep on stepping forward in faith.

Spiritual reading? I can't be without that. That's how God speaks to me. Recently, my friend Jenn @ Family in Feast and Feria placed this document on my computer screen: Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy. What a harvest within a harvest. Jenn always guides me along His path and that is where I see His will.

School is going well. Co-op defines our home school this year and sets the rhythm for our weekly lessons. It's a wonderful collaboration that is a perfect blend for our family. It is heaven sent!

We are slowly coming out of some teenage turmoil so my daughter and I have begun Ann Voskamp's message of Eucharisteo anew. Weekly I email Chelsea an email entitled:  "Live Your One Life Well".

Within the email I include:

(1) First watch this Video...(I give her one of Ann's presentation on YouTube)
(2) Read this...(I insert a link to one of Ann's blog posts)
(3) Focus on this... (a line or two of Ann's writing to focus on, usually something that spoke to me)
(4) Scripture this...(Scripture verse to put on top of her journal page)
(5) Praise of Gifts...(she lists her gifts for the week under the Scripture verse)

And I always end my emails with: "You are one of my Gifts! Did you know that? Love, Mom"

It's a non-confrontational way of communicating with her on a weekly basis...when our busy lifestyle threatens to cut these emotional days even shorter.

That's all I have in ramblings for today. I'm thinking I might like giving myself permission on Friday morning to write more often.

Flannery O'Connor says a writer needs to show up every day so when motivation decides to visit that day, the writer is present and waiting. I argue with myself about living life versus writing life. For a writer they go hand-in-hand.

Til next Friday...

P.S. --- Did I mention that we recovered the kitten? We did. I was summoned once again when the tearful child could not bear to hear the sorrowful wailing of the kitten under the truck. People probably thought I was making repairs on the truck but one simply would not find me under a truck for anything other than a crying daughter and a disobedient kitten. Never!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Once in a Young Lifetime...

"Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold." ~Judith Olney
"Just take a golden pumpkin
Of quite the largest size, ...

"Cut all 'round the stem, just so, ...

"Scrape out the inside below,
And cut two holes for eyes.
And now fix a nose beneath,...
 "And such a great big mouth with teeth,
And you've a jack-o'-lantern!"
"Then fix a tallow candle,
Just big enough to light,
And when it flickers, see him blink,
And when it flares up, see him wink...
"And smile so broad and bright.
This is the jolliest sort of a fellow, ... 
"With cheery face so round and yellow,
This funny jack-o'-lantern."

The Name We Bear...

The name we bear is Christian,
The mark we wear the cross;
The love that we so honor
Considered death no loss
To win us as God's children
Who gladly serve Chrsit's name
Because we share it proudly
And glory in its claim.

The world may call us foolish,
Believers call us wise
For all who serve the gospel
Will one bright dawn arise
To find our true names written
In fire upon the page
Where God records the living
As age succeeds to age.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Preserving Families is Essential to a Free Society

Constitution of the State of Louisiana says about the family, and the role of the parents in raising and educating their children:
Louisiana Children's Code - Article 101 of Preamble to Louisiana Constitution

Art. 101. Preamble

"The people of Louisiana recognize the family as the most fundamental unit of human society; that preserving families is essential to a free society; that the relationship between parent and child is preeminent in establishing and maintaining the well-being of the child; that parents have the responsibility for providing the basic necessities of life as well as love and affection to their children; that parents have the paramount right to raise their children in accordance with their own values and traditions; that parents should make the decisions regarding where and with whom the child shall reside, the educational, moral, ethical, and religious training of the child, the medical, psychiatric, surgical, and preventive health care of the child, and the discipline of the child; that children owe to their parents respect, obedience, and affection; that the role of the state in the family is limited and should only be asserted when there is a serious threat to the family, the parents, or the child; and that extraordinary procedures established by law are meant to be used only when required by necessity and then with due respect for the rights of the parents, the children, and the institution of the family."

Acts 1991, No. 235, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birthday Girl's Requests

 She requested a brownie cake...
...her sister made her one.

She requested a girls' luncheon at Pujo Street Cafe...

...and got it.

She requested a weekend of fun with friends...
...and got that too.

She didn't request words of wisdom from her older brother...

...but she got them anyway.

Who can resist this...

Who turns into this...
Happy Birthday, my beautiful girl!
Welcome to new beginnings and a wonderful new birth year!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Acoustics of October

"Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!"
- Humbert Wolfe
"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house.
So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air"
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all."
- Stanley Horowitz 
"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life."
- P. D. James
"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."
- Eric Sloane 
 "Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We'll smell smoke then,
and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a
sense of sadness and departure."
- Thomas Wolfe
"Oh happy land, Bless thy fertile soil,
Oh happy people born to work and prayer,
With God to guide and strength to toil,
With heart and help goes will and power."
- Alex Doherty, Autumn Leaves
 Our family heralded in the first of October with an impromptu autumn gathering.
It was the easiest thing ever. Those kinds seem to be the most pleasurable.
A fire. Some friends. A table spread with hot dog wieners, buns, and condiments.
A crescent moon shining overhead.
A lawnmower for a harvest ride.
A batch of Harvest Bread.

Welcome October.
Happy Harvest, Everyone!

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