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tough conversations

7 Nov

A few days ago, James snuggled into my lap and fell asleep.  I truly cannot remember the last time that happened.  He cuddled and slept for over an hour.  It was awesome and sweet and amazing confirmation that I really, really miss having wee little ones to snuggle and to cuddle.

Apparently the kids do, too, because every. single. day. they make a point to tell me or Jason or God during our petitions that they wish that I could have another baby.

“Momma, I wish you could have another baby in your belly, only I want it to live so we can meet it now.  I don’t want it to die like the other ones did in your belly.  I don’t want to have to wait until we get to Heaven some day to meet it; I want to be with it here on Earth right now,” Jonah lovingly told me during our morning time.

My heart longs for the same thing, Jonah.  You have no idea how many hours I’ve spent before the Blessed Sacrament talking to God about this very thing.

Annie’s used-to-be daily declaration of “Mommy, do you have any idea how much I wish I had a little sister?”  is slowly becoming less frequent. 

I think she is starting to accept God might just have other plans.  “I don’t understand why so many of our friend’s families have so many babies, but we only have the three of us.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  You and daddy would love to have more babies.  Why won’t God give you more?”

I know, sweet Annie.  God’s will is holy, perfect, and completely beyond my understanding. 

“Momma, I wish you could have more babies.  I know then I wouldn’t be the baby, but that would be OK, because I love babies.”

Yes, James, you are almost five and you are still our baby even if you are willing to give up the title. 

You guys, seriously, daily conversations like this with the kids are just hard.  I remember talking to my spiritual director about this a few years ago when we got the news that more biological children was probably not in the cards for us.  At that time, it was just Annie asking when God was going to send us another baby.  Father suggested gently telling her that God had other plans.

In theory, that sounds reasonable.  Except kids, well, they just don’t always except reality.  I’ve told them countless times that momma’s body, it just doesn’t do this pregnancy thing well.  But, the kids, well, they hold on to the hope. 

I think I do, too, sometimes.

starting over, starting again. starting.

6 Oct

After discerning it, deciding and moving forward, I could not be more grateful that I submitted to God’s will and have moved on from ministry in the parish-setting.

We started our atrium sessions a few weeks back.  The biggest difference this year?  We are back to doing it in our home. Me and my kiddos, my mom and nieces and nephews.  Small.  Simple.  Perfect.

By the grace of God, in just two months, we rebuilt a lovely and simple atrium.

I believe whole-heartedly that we should serve our parish and the larger faith community by giving our time in ministry.  I’ve poured every ounce (sometimes to a fault) of myself into ministry for well over a decade.

And, I’m continuing to do that now—just in a different capacity.

Now?  My way of serving the Church is by building up the domestic church.  By being here as a wife and mother—both physically and mentally.  And, I’m reminded daily, that is no short order.

It’s my vocation and I’m honoring that.  And God is pouring out His grace and mercy.

And, so as the year begins to find it’s rhythm, we are adjusting—peacefully—to our new-old surroundings.  So many things about this are just perfect.

new beginnings

7 Sep

Peace.

Joy.

Peace and joy.

This year, the beginning of the year, it feel so very different.  I feel like it is a little gift, a loving grace, from God for being obedient to His call to step down from ministry to be with my family.

I’m so dang grateful because this “yes” has granted me a spiritual, physical, and mental health that is allowing me to not just be here physically to my family, but to be here with them—as in my mind and heart are here.  There is so much more peaceful, restful, joyful space open in my brain to love the heck out of my kids and husband. 

No longer is the to-do list knocking me over the head, leaving me with a massive headache and an unsettled soul.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt the anxiousness of being “behind.”  I’m not perpetually distracted anymore. No, we are just living.  Being.  Enjoying.  And praising God for the gift of balance.

This is what it feels like to have my priorities straight.

I wouldn’t give this up for anything. 

(day 1–going to try this again. We’ll see)

an observation

9 Jul

Why, o why, is it so much easier to do what makes me feel awful at the end of the day than it is to do what I may not initially want to do, but know is right?

For example, chocolate chips.  They taste so dang good … and so I eat them.  A lot of them.  And then have a massive stomach ache later.  Moderation—not always my thing.

Or, helping the little people brush their teeth.  It is so much easier to  do everything else than it is to pick up that darn toothbrush and take the 2 minutes to brush their teeth.  Because, seriously, there is facebook to check.

And, what about making dinner.  That one kills me just about every day.  I try so stinkin’ hard to have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.  For me, the only way that can happen is if I make a plan first thing in the morning and stick with it.  If that means throwing something in the crockpot right away, than I must do it in the morning.  Or even at lunchtime.  But, I can’t do it at 4pm (even cranking the crockpot on high, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best—yes, I’ve tried it too many times and am speaking from experience—it just doesn’t work).

But somewhere all of the things that encourage my procrastination, my morning walk, and making breakfast and cleaning it up….and so on, I loose my will to get to that crockpot dinner prep. 

And, alas, the day slips away from me and we are stuck eating eggs for dinner…again.  Or pasta.  This week it has been an alternation between the two.

In so many areas of my life I am incredibly self-disciplined…what we eat, how we school, the order I need in my house, etc  But man, my time management skills are TERRIBLE.  Just terrible. 

I need to be better disciplined.

Because what ends up happening more often than not is that I will run around like a crazy person, throw together dinner only to have my kids offer to help and then back away and say, “Do you just want me to go and play” when they see the crazy mom eyes popping out of my head and the steam coming from my ears, as I yell, “Get out of the kitchen.  We are going to be late for x,y, or z.  I need to finish this NOW!”

Ugh.

Doing the right thing at the right time…in all areas of my life.  It is just hard.

7 on 7/7

7 Jul

Dear Jonah,

Today, you turned seven and what a good year you have had.

In the Fall, you began taking karate lessons twice a week.  You’ve earned 3 belts and have amazed us with your grace and cool-nerves while on stage and in front of an audience.  These lessons have been a true God-send, as they have not only helped with your strength and coordination, but your confidence and perseverance.  We are so very proud of the work that you have put into them!

2015-06-25 18.15.36

You’ve also grown so much in the academic world with your ease at reading long chapter books, your persistence in mastering new math concepts like multi-digit addition and subtraction.  Your handwriting (the same skill that required OT just last year) is stunning now, and your spelling and mechanics improve weekly.  Your love of learning history, science, and really, any subject makes you one easy kid to home educate. 

Easy…yes, that is the word I would use to describe your personality.  Easy going, easy to discipline, easy to talk to, easy to enjoy.  I love that so very much about you.

2015-06-28 16.16.59-1

You are in the stage of the never ending “how come?” questions which generally leaves me uncertain as to how to answer them.  Half of the time, the questions are totally off the wall and the other half of the time, I’m truly stumped.  And that is the thing about you, we are never quite sure just what you are thinking.  You have the quiet, introverted, self-reflective soul of your daddy.  I think it is why you and I get along so well. 

This was also the year in which we got answers (ish), or at least a final verdict about your perpetual blood issues.  You also had a very healthy year, in that you didn’t catch every single cold that came within 10 miles of you.  That was awesome.  It certainly made this year feel “normal.”  We got a lot of opportunities to just be and enjoy you and all that quiet love that you bring to our family.

As you enter into this next year, I am eager to continue living this life right along side you because you bring a joy to our family that makes getting out of bed worthwhile every single day.  This is the year in which you will receive your First Reconciliation and your First Holy Communion, the year in which you will be able to respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd to be with him in a particular way at Holy Mass in the Eucharist.  What a year it will be. 

Thank you for holding that soft spot in my heart, sweet Jonah-bear.  I love you to the moon.

Eskimoka kisses,

Momma-lou

::And, now for your annual birthday Q&A::

What is your favorite color(s)?

Red

What is your favorite sport?  Why?

Karate because I like to learn all the katas.

Who is your favorite friend?

Elijah, Matias, Elena and Graziella

What do you like to do during your “free time?”

I like to play with Magformers, my blue truck, building train tracks and Legos.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A dad and have a farm.

What is your favorite and least favorite meal?

Favorite is pizza

Least favorite is stir fry

What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream

What is your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

Favorite=history

Least Favorite=spelling

What do you like to do with Annie and James?

Play pretend games.  I also like to go to the park and ride bikes.

What do you like to do with your family?

Play board and card games.

What are your three favorite books that you read this year?

Encyclopedia Brown, The Gray Fairy Tale book, Dr. Dolittle, Green Ember, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (I just can’t choose three)

What are your favorite movies?

Curious George and Thomas

What is the most important thing that you know about God?

That He died on the cross for us so that we could have eternal life.

cleanly perspective

5 Jul

Something about the end of the school year brings about this intense need to purge, clean (and I mean gut out, scrub, and go all Martha Stewart clean), and organize every single room in the house.  And, the garage.  And, the detached workshop. 

It’s quite a project and one that I own with intense joy and determination.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that this is my type –A personality attempting to regain control over the house and the inevitable “letting go” that takes place during the school year.  So much letting go.

But, I’m telling you, something therapeutic happens in the scrubbing and the gutting.  God speaks in the quiet of my work, providing me an opportunity to process the whirlwind of a year that we just had.  With each room I purge, I feel like the view of the forest slowly returns and the fine details of the trees that were at the tip of my nose no longer seems so big and so daunting. 

I’ve determined that there is something about letting go of what is weighing you down physically that can lead to a freeing of the heaviness of life and to-do lists.  I’m living that now. 

I just finished the last room yesterday—the office—the room that was busting at the seams with my filled to the brim files of ministry work.  That work that I decided to take a year off from.  Projects are now ready to be handed over.  So much letting go.

I ended this 6 week purge by sleeping in until 9AM this morning.  Apparently gutting my house and my will is exhausting work.

[day three and four]

seasons

2 Jul

Like the changing of seasons throughout the year, so, too, do we all experience different “seasons” in our life.  Am I right?  For example, in college, I had a “season” in which I was a vegan hippie who traveled to South America, studied in the rainforest, and hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.  That  was quite a season.  As an adult, I had a fantastic “season” of teaching both elementary-aged children and middle school teens.   Then babies came along and I entered into the “season” of motherhood.  I am now in the “season” of homeschooling my little people. 

Seasons—they come and go—sometimes when you least expect them to.  I’m living that right now. 

For the past 11 years, I have been involved in ministry for our faith community in the school, parish and diocesan settings.  My “seasons” included full time, part time and volunteer positions.  All of have been exhilarating, challenging, joy-filled and at points, down right exhausting.  One thing is for certain:  they have all been so. dang. good.

But like all good things, at some point they need to come to an end.  And, so, after hours and hours of prayers and a handful of novenas, I can peaceful say, my “season” of working in ministry is ending (for now).  It’s time to place my “ministry hat” on the shelf for a bit.  Maybe a year (I hope).  Maybe longer.  I’m just not sure.

::gulp::

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to type those words and have the needed conversations to let people know that I am stepping down from ministry for the time being has been tough.  Perhaps this is because the current ministry that I’ve been heavily involved in is near and dear to my heart because of the gift that it has been to my family. 

But it is time…the “seasons” are changing. 

I’ve been feeling this tug for the last nine months—that God was calling me to step down and instead focus my attention on just being a wife and (homeschooling) mother. 

Just a wife. 

Just a mother. 

Just a teacher to my kids. 

That’s no small calling

And, to be honest, that is a more difficult calling for me than to wear many hats and keep many balls from dropping from the many commitments I had outside of the home.  It is a calling that I’d rather not respond to (hence the nine months of discernment).  I have never been just a mom or just wife.  A full time teacher in private schools and a wife?  yes.  A mom and a Creighton Practitioner?  yes.  A wife, a homeschooling mom, and a director of CGS?  yes.  Just a wife and a homeschooling mom?  Now that is a new one.

But, alas, a calling is a calling and to not respond, I’ve found, does no good at all because God, well, He doesn’t exactly change His plans because I just don’t want to put on my big girl pants and do what He is asking of me.  And, so, He continues to place it so strongly on my heart to focus my energies in the home and in educating the kiddos.  He repeatedly showers me with underserved grace and direction, opening the door to new and enlightening ways to educate our kids.  And, the only way that I am going to be able to follow through with the vision of homeschooling and the family culture that God has so clearly placed in my heart and mind is to be present.  To be home.   To be just a wife and a homeschooling mom who finally has the time and energy to cultivate this vision so that it can actually come to fruition.

It is time.  This is that season.

[day two]