Monday, December 31, 2012

Embrace Authentic

I really blew it last night. I didn't feel well at all yesterday; didn't even go to Mass. I REALLY did not feel well. But I did laundry. My husband and I just traded rooms with our youngest daughters, so I did a little bit of cleaning there. I came downstairs to see how things were going to find our artificial Christmas tree's base had broken; the tree had fallen. It was now propped against the stair rail. Taking down the tree had not been on my agenda, but I began wrapping ornaments and boxing them up. For the most part I worked alone. My husband fixed supper; we watched "Lorenzo's Oil"; and I went back to work on it. I had let our youngest three decorate the tree and it was LOADED. Hubby and my eldest were on computers; three children were upstairs; the 8 yr old was unwinding ribbon from the tree while I was trying to remove the lights. They were tangled. Tightly. I was huffing. No one got the hint. I started taking the tree apart to get the lights off - throwing the pieces in front of my husband's open office door. I was ticked. My self-talk had me with "never anything nice - this broken, old tree - have to take it down by myself - he's always on the computer - I feel so ill and no one cares or helps...." On and on. Bill finally came out of his office to ask what was going on. "I can't get these lights off and you care more about that #*%@ computer than you do me!"

A lie. And a petulant one at that. I regretted the words the instant they flew out of my mouth. Not only did I basely accuse my husband of not caring for me, but I did it within earshot of three of my children. My teenager ran upstairs, he was so upset by my outburst. I apologized, of course. I am so not where I want to be in this journey of Christianity, marriage, motherhood.

Time was when I would mull this mistake over and over in my mind; castigating myself. Sliding into a depression
because I am so not perfect.  Guess what? None of us are.

Jill Savage's new book No More Perfect Moms has hope for all of us striving to be better Christians, wives, and mothers. Starting tomorrow there will be a 31-day Email Challenge for which you do not need the book. Simply sign up! Check out the No More Perfect Moms website for great resources and the authentic stories of other moms. Finally, buy the book, but wait to do so until Feb 4-9. We're hoping enough people will buy the book in this first week of its release to get No More Perfect Moms on the New York Times Bestseller list. This will serve the purpose of getting the book into the hands of even MORE women who desperately need this message.

I have read the book through once as a member of the Launch Team for this wonderful book. I am now reading through it a second time and taking notes so I can blog my way through it. Check back often. Until then - embrace authentic!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No More Perfect Moms

This is the title of Jill Savage's newest book, to be released in February. I've been looking forward to reading it since I first heard it was in the "birthing" process because I am, face it, a Mom who needs these words of wisdom. I have felt a flat-out failure before when I have blown it with my kids. I am very, VERY guilty of the comparison game; and I always come up WAY short. Of course, as Jill points out, I'm comparing my insides (which I know are dark and squirmy) with other women's bright, shiny outsides. The sides they only show to the world. I have several friends who have it all together - or so it seems - and I so want to be like them! But I have no idea what they may be hiding in their dark and squirmy insides. On the outside they're...perfect. And I'm...not. I am so not perfect. So I waited anxiously for Jill's book to be released.

Guess what? I no longer have to wait! I've been chosen to be part of the launch team for No More Perfect Moms! How exciting is that?! I get to pre-read the book and write a review to be published wherever I can send it. I get to pre-read the book and present it to my Mom's Group, because it contains a message we all need to hear. I get to pre-read the book! I am looking forward to the blessings God will bring from Jill's writing.

If my friends are interested in No More Perfect Moms (as well you should be!), please do not pre-order the book. Wait until it is released in February. Let's see if we can get Jill on the best-seller list! More to come from me about this topic!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Overcoming the World

"These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world."
--John 16:33

"Live like no one else so you can live (and give) like no one else."
--Dave Ramsey

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" Sometimes. "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Actually, it's been one of the warmest Holiday seasons I can remember (I'm not complaining, mind you). "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." It's barely Advent! In the course of general, every-day errands, I've had occasion to hear all these songs and more in the last two weeks; frantically urging me to get in the "Holiday Spirit" and SPEND already! Give, Give, GIVE to everyone I know, the bigger (i.e. more expensive) present the better, so they will be sure to they're loved.

Guess what? Love cannot be bought.

I have been struggling with the world's notion of the Holiday season this year. Everything is so rushed, so materialistic, so meaningless. Our consumer-driven society simply adds to this sense.

My husband and I recently completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We are valiantly trying to get our fiscal house in order. This time of year is especially tough for me to do that because I am by nature a generous, giving person. I LOVE to find just the right gift(s) for the special people in my life; imagining their joy in receiving this well-thought-out choice. So the frenetic pace of Christmas-upon-us and the turtle-speed of our Baby Steps is discouraging to me. And we're trying to have a less expensive Christmas; so I'm left with a general enviousness. A dis-satisfaction. Not good. After all, that's not what this season is about, anyway.

I really like celebrating Advent. A time of waiting, anticipation, looking forward to the birth of the Lord. And to His second-coming. We "build-a-tree"; putting a few purple ornaments per evening on it (one per child). On Gaudete Sunday we start putting pink ornaments on the tree. Usually we cannot wait until Christmas Eve to fully decorate the tree, but it's always the last week of Advent. We light our wreath, with readings and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". We do a few service projects as a family (we can always give, even if not monetarily).

Our family is getting used to being... counter-cultural. We are a "large" nuclear-family who truly enjoys the company of each other. We homeschool. We live on one income. We make nearly all our meals (including bread, yogurt, etc.) from scratch. We are faithful Catholics. We celebrate Advent before Christmas. We do not have credit cards. This list could probably go on...we do not want to be like the world at large.

With God's grace, we don't have to be like the world. Christ has overcome the world. Our goal is to model Christ. This has been extremely comforting to me as I try to stop struggling with what "I" want to do, to give, to buy and focus instead on the true meaning of and pace of this season.

Happy Advent!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bittersweet Birthday

My baby turned eight yesterday. Her birthday is always bittersweet to me. I celebrate the wonderful, beautiful, joyful child Quinta is. Oh, how I celebrate that! But there's always a little regret on this day that there will be no more children born to us. Even now, as I approach my 47th birthday, that regret is there.

Quinta's pregnancy was my sixth. The others had been difficult; with dangers for Mom and Baby, so our approach was super-cautious. When I began spotting at 12 weeks, I went on bedrest. Saw the obstetrician every two weeks with an ultrasound every month. That got us to 36 weeks, when a minor placental abruption and fetal distress called for an emergency c-section.

I got a spinal epidural, so I was awake during the procedure. Her birth was uneventful; she was whisked to the NICU to be taken care of, accompanied by her daddy. I was feeling terrible. I could feel tugging and hear intense whispering of my surgical team. Then I felt heat and blackness at once over my face as I heard someone say, "Hang a unit of blood!"

"It's a miracle she was ever pregnant at all." The gentle assistant surgeon's voice was the first thing I heard as I came to consciousness. Then my own Catholic doctor's voice as she leaned over me, "It's gone, Lisa. We had to take it." She was talking about my uterus. My womb. Gone. My first reaction? Relief. I've regretted the circumstance ever since; but the first reaction was relief.

We had talked about the possibility of this happening. Four of my previous pregnancies had ended in abruptio placentae; with this latest abruption...the more abruptions a woman has, the greater her risk of placenta accreta, where the placenta will not detach from the wall of the uterus. This was indeed what had happened to me. I fainted from blood loss caused by trying to deliver a placenta so deeply embedded into the uterine wall that it was pulling the uterus inside-out. I only needed two units of blood because they responded so quickly to the need, getting the diseased uterus out. I woke as they were examining the uterus, which was so full of endometrial scars and fibroid tumors that it was indeed a miracle I had ever been pregnant.

God gave me six miracles; yet I regret not having more. A dear friend once accused me of "collecting" children. Is that what I'm doing? Not loving each of my miracles enough because I want to accumulate more? I don't think so. I don't have "baby fever" each time I hold the tiny blessings my friends have. It's just when Quinta's birthday rolls around, so near to my own birthday, that this regret creeps in to lessen the joy just a bit. Bittersweet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Revolving-Door Confessional

My husband and I used to tag-team for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One would watch the increasing number of little children while the other would enter the confessional. Then, after lucky number one's penance was done, he or she would watch the children so the spouse could be shriven. By the time said spouse was finished, number one's soul did not feel so bright and shiny any longer after dealing with the stresses little children inevitably bring and a return trip to the confessional was often joked about. This is when we began talking about the need for a confessional with a revolving door.

Concupiscence. Paul in Romans 8 describes it well, saying he does what he doesn't want to do, and doesn't do what he would like. We all know it well; but I am a worm and know it better than most.

I went to avail myself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation Saturday. Truly contrite and profoundly grateful for absolution, I said my penance next to my oldest daughter in the back row right which seems to be reserved for penitents in our church. Then, since we were staying for Mass, we moved forward in the church, where I sat contentedly contemplating Jesus on the Cross. Yes, God forgive me, I was looking at the crucifix in church, speaking with my Lord, and perfectly content. Complacent. Complacency does me in every time.

One of the entrances to our church needs repaired; the door slams shut rather than closing slowly and quietly. Most of the people know this, but don't think to catch the door and close it themselves. The third time the door's slam interrupted my reverie my first thought was "Damn it, can't you catch the door?!" My eyes travelled back to Jesus on the cross. I was no longer content, but convicted. My sins, including these just committed, had put Him there. Not only had I used foul language IN CHURCH, but I was being uncharitable to my fellow parishioners (I have a special problem with being charitable and never fail to mention it in the confessional). I felt I should make an about-face and march right back into the booth. Then I saw the Sacristan heading to the back with Father's chasuble. Too late.

Fortunately, these were venial sins and receiving Jesus' Precious Body wiped those sins away. My own contrite heart was fertile ground for His saving action. I thought I had a bright, shiny soul - for ten minutes! Turns out my attitude of heart and mind may have made the time less than that. Concupiscence. I still need a revolving-door confessional.

Monday, January 23, 2012

St. Rita

Each new year, along with a really serious resolution, I go to a website for a saint for the year; an extra patron to pray for me, from whose life and holiness I can learn. The selection is random - until this year a nun prayed for my request for a saint, then assigned one to me. This year I used a Saint's Name Generator website. My friends and I have always referred to this process as the saint's choice.

The saint who chose me this year is St. Rita of Cascia. She is so powerful! She is also a little frightening to me. If I'm going to need her help this year...God may ask a lot of me in 2012. St. Rita is a patron of those in difficult marriages (can't see how that could ever happen, my beloved Bill is the most even-tempered person I've ever met!). She's also a patron of desperate causes, harsh illnesses, and widows.

That's stuff I don't want to face. I'd much rather the Christian life be a picnic. I'd rather read and study and have a theoretical understanding of the providence of God. As it is, we understand God providing our physical needs - there's always more month than money, yet everything is...comfortable. I LIKE comfortable. And it seems, if I'll need St. Rita's intercession, the lack may not be monetary (which I'm used to); but perhaps health. Quinta has been having pain issues; no cause has been found, so she has been in physical therapy. Or mental health; with her pain, Quinta has become glued to my side. I am struggling against resentment at losing "me" time. We won't even discuss the possibility of widowhood - which scares me beyond measure.

And maybe, just maybe, I am simply to learn from St. Rita's life and holiness. To enrich my own life and increase my own holiness. I'm going to try to reign in my wild imagination and approach my new patron in that way. St. Rita of Cascia, please pray for me to the Lord our God!