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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.

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]

finally

1 Jul

How is it July 1st already?  Seriously!  This “summer” has been filled with all sorts of crazy goings here, there and everywhere. 

But, July, I have big plans for you that include a whole lotta reading, soaking up the sun, playing with my kiddos, hanging with my husband, book clubbing it up with my friends, and breathing in a huge sigh of relief. 

We started July off right today.

Summer, oh how I have needed you.

[day one]

chocolate, family, medicinal swearing and other life lessons learned by 36

16 Mar

1. Enjoy Life Chocolate chips will always save the day.

2. Email is from the devil and apparently I am really good at unintentionally offending people through it. I now panic every time I have to hit the send button after composing an email.

3. James gives the best hugs.

4.  It is a major problem in America when it costs just a few hundred dollars for a woman to have an abortion, but over $20,000 to adopt a baby. That reality will likely keep our family from growing through adoption.

5. Some things are worth investing in—such as a good undergarments and shoes.

6. My adult version of “down time” consists of falling asleep with a book next to me that never had a chance of being opened.

7. My heart still aches at the thought of not having more babies.

8. God is patient. Very, very, very patient. I am grateful for this truth.

9. Stress paralyzed is a real thing. Just ask my husband. He may have a few stories of me sitting in the car hiding from everyone.

10. Dogs really are man’s best friend. Our puppy is pretty awesome.

11. Homeschooling is a full time gig. I was insane to think that a job in ministry could co-exist with the demands of homeschooling.

12. Ear plugs were invented by a wife who has a husband who snores. I’m sure of this.

13. Having faithful friends and family to lift me up in prayer during the trials that are inevitable in life is one of the surest signs that God cares deeply about me.

14. Annie’s zeal for learning drives me to be a better homeschooling mom every single day.

15. The Lord has been calling me for years to have better balance in my life. I am finally responding to this invitation. And, my o my, is it a freeing experience.

16. I could do without fall, winter, and spring. Shorts and flip flops is what it’s all about.

17. Classical education is a God-send. I’m so grateful that the Lord opened my eyes to this form of education. It is literally changing our family’s life.

18. Carmel apple tea with a spoonful of honey is from the Lord. He told me it was so.

19. Some things just aren’t meant to be figured out—like Jonah’s immunodeficiency or why my hair is so gray at 36 or why chin hair is really necessary on a woman.

20. A good stylist is imperative.

21. Jason’s guitar playing skills are some of my favorite things about him.

22. I like skinny jeans and tall boots. There, I admit it.

23. The Lord desires holiness from me and by golly, He provides so many opportunities to grow every day.

24. I have a minor obsession with Facebook. I didn’t even try to give it up for Lent.

25. A journey towards something is also a journey away from something. I’m living this.

26. Jonah sleeps like a pretzel. That’s about as athletic as we get around here.

27. Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic are God’s gift to women in modest and fashionable clothes.

28. It’s a fantastic gift when you can call your family your friends.

29. I’m pretty sure that my body is comprised of Meijer veggie chips and Pace mild salsa.

30. My holy hour every week is my absolute favorite time.

31. Quality time spent talking to my husband is my next favorite thing.

32. If I could spend the day reading book after book with my kids, my life would be pretty awesome. Good thing my kids agree. My life is awesome.

33. “This too shall pass…” has become my mantra for both the good and the bad.

34. Thus, soak up the good and take up medicinal swearing during the bad—or, I mean spend that time on your knees, begging the Lord to sustain you. He always does (even through the swearing).

35.  The older I get, the more introverted and socially awkward I become. 

36. I’m so grateful that 35 is in the books. It was a year of intense purgation. With a joy-filled heart, I am ready for this next chapter of our lives.

just walk away

22 Jan

Last Spring I got up the nerve to talk to my team of doctors about my crappy fertility and what it meant in regards to having more kids.

The answer was clear from my extremely pro-life doctors.

I wrote about it.  A few times.

And you’d think almost a year later I would be in a better place with it all.  But, you know what?  I’m not sure that I am.

Recently, I had some blood work done to see what the heck was going on because of a myriad of symptoms I’ve been having.  And while it’s not necessary to go into the details, suffice is to say, the results are crappy.   Pretty much my body screams, “Your body sucks at doing anything remotely OK in regards to your fertility.”

You guys, this?  Grrrr.  It is annoying.  The reality of it can slap me in the face, knock me off my feet and leave me gasping to find my breath.  I don’t want this to be my reality and it hits me at the craziest moments.

The little man is outgrowing his clothes, and I need to pack them away.  Thoughts of, “I should just donate all of these” fill my head.  But, I  don’t want to.  I’d like another little man to wear them.  So I shove them in a bin, along with my feelings on the matter and I walk away.

Or, the dear friends with the adorable babies—gosh, they are lovely.  And in that moment of ohhing and ahhhing over them, I can always put on a smile because I am happy as heck for them.  And those babies are so stinking precious.  Praise God!  Truly, what a blessing. But gosh, my heart simultaneously rejoices for them and aches for us and I just have to mentally walk away sometimes.

And, man, when that endearing “good Christian” (whether it be a religious or lay person) makes the thoughtless comments about those good families having all those babies…phew.  Those get me.  (Actually, those just piss me off.)  Because seriously, family size does not equate to holiness.  I know some pretty messed up big families.  Am I right?  Dumb, dumb, dumb comments.  But, in that moment, I still feel so painfully judged.  And so I walk away.

Yes, yes, I know that the Lord has a plan.  Yes, I need to take this to prayer.  I have over and over again.  But, today?  I’m frustrated.  I wish things were different. And I’m leaving it to my guardian angel to finish the words in prayer that I cannot utter.

And, of course, I realize intellectually that there is a choice in all of this.  I do my best to offer it up for the conversion of all those mommas who don’t understand the sanctity of all human life.  I pray that my cross will help a desperate momma to choose life and to recognize that there are couples like us who would welcome those babies into our home with open and loving hearts.

Because I know God always brings so much good out of suffering—when we let him.  Most days, I let him.

But today?  I just…don’t have the words or the will.  And, I know that He is OK with that.  It’s OK to walk away.  As long as I walk back to Him.  And I will.

a peace-filled year

2 Jan

endless snuggles in bed,

piles and piles of books that have been devoured together,

smiles, joy, laughter,

words of encouragement,

hugs and kisses and tickle-fests,

inside jokes and goofy grins,

working hard, achieving goals,

stretching ourselves,

and abandoning our will (over and over again) to our Lord.

These are the highlights that I hope my family remembers about 2014.  These day to day occurrences have been the fibers that have woven together to make a really, really good year.

For the first time since we began homeschooling, I can look back upon the entire year with a contented sigh, and the affirmation that God has our family right where He wants us.  The discernment process that got us here took months of 2014 and racked up hundreds of hours in prayer before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  But, we got here.  And, it is a glorious place to be.

Of course, the discernment of 2014 didn’t just include homeschooling, but much bigger decisions, as well.  The topic of family and children is one that I have been open and honest about from the get go.  In fact, it was why I started this blog back in my Creighton Model Practitioner days—I wanted to be a voice for those couples struggling through miscarriages, infertility and so on.  And so I’ve written about our losses (and here), our struggles, and God’s final answer regarding a big (biological) family.  I wish I could say that my heart is in the same place with this topic as it is with homeschooling, but it simply is not yet.  I know that I need to continue to take this to the Lord in prayer.  Some days, it is still too heavy of a cross to even want to pray about.  Thankfully the Lord is patient.

But, I recognize that God is asking me to be a mother to other children as well, and I know that He is doing that through my job in the Church with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program.  Every day, not only do I have the opportunity to bring my children closer to our Lord through this program, but also many, many others at our parish.  And while taking on the job in an official role this past Fall has been difficult at times to balance, the Lord continues to pour His mercy and love, guiding me in finding peace with a very full plate.  The Multiplication of the Fishes and Loaves has been my mantra this year.  I give what I can, and trust the Lord to multiply my efforts and time where He sees fit.

So, as 2014 is officially over and the unknown prospects of another year lie before me, my prayer is that my soul continues to remain at peace as I love the heck out of my family, while homeschooling the kiddos to the best of my ability, and serving the Lord in whatever ministries He calls me to.

Peace to you, dear friends, in this New Year.