Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moving and prayer

It's been 2 1/2 months since the move to Juneau and most areas of my life are leveling out to a new equilibrium. However, my prayer life is still hobbling along.

First, there was the crazy, frenetic exercise of packing...
Then, there was the cross continent week long drive...
Then, there was living without our furniture, kitchen items, etc for about 2 weeks...
Then, there was unpacking...
Then, my dad came to help watch our son for 3 weeks...
Then, I was out of town for a conference...
Then, things seemed like they were settling down...
Then, my son got Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease...
Then, I got Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease...
And along the way, learning a new job, making our way around a new town, making new friends...

Most of these things are fantastic - and I'm not complaining (except for Hand, Foot, and Mouth - that's horrible!) but there have been a lot of changes and it's hard to work in prayer.  Most days I feel like my Hail Mary's are like a Hail Mary pass. "Thanks God...I hope you hear this but I gotta run."

I want to do everything I used to do: Bible, meditation, discipleship program, Catechism, journaling - which took an hour each morning.  The pace of my life is very different now, our living space is much smaller, and our morning routine is very busy with three of us trying to get ready and out the door. While the rest of my life is settled into its new home, it is as though my prayer life is still living out of boxes.

I have been reluctant to change my "old" prayer routine, but it has to change because my life has changed. It's time to unpack and rearrange my prayer life into an order than will work for this season of my life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Discipline, martyrdom, and obedience

"The very nature of marriage means saying yes before you know what it will cost you. Though you may say the 'I do' of the wedding ritual in all sincerity, it is the testing of that vow over time that makes you married. I hope that I will always have faith in the giddy wonder of romance, but in considering what makes a marriage endure, I am likely to employ such ascetic and unromantic terms as discipline, martyrdom, and obedience."

The above quote is from the book Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris. It's a great read about the little discussed/known sin of acedia which is spiritual sloth or apathy. She explores the history of how acedia has been understood over time, but also her own lifelong struggle with acedia. The one area in Norris' life where she didn't experience acedia was in her marriage; she was fully committed to her husband and the commitment she made to him through everything: manic-depressive disorder, a suicide attempt, and very serious illnesses for the last several years of his life.

I can't say I've ever experience acedia, but after I read this quote my eyes filled with tears and I had to put the book down. I know only too well what Norris is talking about...and most especially now, at this time of the year. Five years ago on August 25th my first baby was stillborn at term and last year on August 21st I had a miscarriage. Five years ago today I lived in the world of "giddy wonder of romance". Martyrdom or obedience or discipline were not words I would have used to describe our marriage after only two and half years.

Now, I understand.

Burying our baby, sticking together through grief, surviving our pain, figuring out our new "normal", finding the courage to try again, learning to be parents, finding the courage to try yet again, saying goodbye to another baby, and most recently moving across the continent for a ministry position...

I understand obedience in marriage not as "yes, dear" to my husband, but "Yes, Lord" to the vow I made and staying true when times are tough. I understand discipline through the practice of saying "Yes" to marriage and life and hope, but also by saying "Yes" to Christ even on the days when I didn't want to. I understand martyrdom not as being put to death for my faith, but as dying to myself, my wants, my dreams, and my plans because God has different vision for me and my life.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Are you a disciple?

Thanks to a new co-worker I have a very long reading list now (and it's AWESOME!). Most of the list has grown through conversations usually going something like this:

"Oh, have you read this book/heard of this author?"
And, the response of the mom of a 3 year old has been, ""

The first book on the list was Forming Intentional Disciples. If you are in ministry or volunteering at your parish or thinking "where are the excited Catholics?" then you must read this book.

The book is incredible and answered a lot of questions, however, it's a little depressing as well. I'm a freak about the Catholic faith - I love it! I love Jesus, I love the Church, I love the liturgy, I love theology. This pretty much has made me a freak for a long time now and I've gotten used to it. Yet, it's also pretty sad because there's a very small contingent of Catholics who are Jesus freaks - and I mean that in the best possible way.

Every year the Church loses people to evangelical Protestant churches because they have more fire in their hearts than Catholics do when it comes to Jesus. They're not afraid to talk about Jesus, but if you mention Jesus to an everyday Catholic they get a little scared. If you're one of those Catholics, then please ask yourself why does talking about Jesus make you nervous and share in the comments section.  

Every Christian should be a disciple, but the sad thing is, not too many of us are in the Catholic Church. Why? Jesus is THE rock star of the universe...and dang it, he is worth talking about! Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God (that's just a sampling of his titles), we should't be nervous or shy or worried or scared to talk about Him.  We need to proclaim Him with our lives, but we also need to proclaim Him with our mouths.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My life reduced to 6'x7'x8'

No...I'm not in prison. The long title of this blog should be: My life reduced to 6'x7'x8', a Hyundai Elantra Touring, and a rooftop bag. 

On June 7th I got a phone call from Bishop Edward Burns of the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska and I was offered the position of Executive Director of the Shrine of St. Therese. From that point forward life got a little crazy! 

My husband and I sold off or gave away most of our belongings. Even my son had to part with toys and books in order to make this move - and he was a trooper. My theology book collection was reduced to the essentials. I even had to leave behind my glider (rocking chair). In the space of three weeks we packed boxes, had a garage sale, I flew to Juneau to meet the Diocesan staff and the Shrine staff, we packed a very small pod, drove from Southaven, Mississippi to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, and spent a day and a half on a ferry to Juneau. We arrived on June 28th and I started work on July 1st. 

I had been praying for weeks and weeks that I would get this position, but didn't want to blog about it. Juneau seems to be heaven on earth for us. 

Many people have asked if I've had second thoughts about this. And my answer is: not a one. Everything fell into place and I can see the fingerprints of God all over the place. 

Please check out the Shrine website and Facebook page:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Worm of Worry

Worry is such an easy thing to give into, especially if you are worried about important things...employment, paying the bills, care of your children or spouse.  Wait a second...Jesus said something about not worrying...

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink ; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?...And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?...Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will wear for clothing?' But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (read the whole passage: Matthew 6:25-34)

This is when I want to say to Jesus, "Uh, yeah...right! You're God and You've got everything that You need. I'm a lowly human and my husband might lose his job and then how will we provide for our basic needs and take care of our son and...(and on and on it goes)." Before I know it, I've pushed Christ out the picture and I'm convinced that my worry will save the day. That's when Jesus says to me, "Uh, yeah...right!"

Last year I (was an idiot) and worked myself into a frenzy over worrying about my husband's employment. His department was cut due to budget constraints and I frantically worried about what we would do. Did the worry help me? Not a bit! I was (as they say in the South) a HOT MESS and my anxiety was through the roof. During the last week of the school year he found out his department had been saved. It was hard to be happy because my worry had consumed me. It took a long time to shake it.

This year I've tried not to get into a frenzy and thus far I have been pretty successful. The district is going through a merger and the future is uncertain, but what is the point in worrying? I certainly didn't had an hour to my life with all the worrying I did last year, in fact, I probably decreased the length of my life. Worry is like a worm. The more it eats, the more it grows, and the more space it takes up in your heart.

The Worm of Worry

Imagine something like this eating it's way through your heart and it only gets bigger and bigger and bigger. There is less room in your heart for love or obedience to Christ or fun because your heart is being eaten by worry. YIKES!!!

If you have a worm of worry, pray that the worry be removed from your heart. Then (and this is very important), humbly ask that God fill that space with His concerns, what people or things does He want you to pray for: widows, orphans, end of abortions, civic leaders, etc. Isn't that replacing one worry for another? No, not if God is the one who puts these concerns in your heart. Then, your prayer will be guided by the Holy Spirit to pray for people or things that need prayer. And, that's way better than the Worm of Worry.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baby clothes

Today I did something hard. Really hard. I've prayed for years that this day would not come, but it did. In the storage room I had bin of brand new baby girl clothes, toys, and decor. Since the day my daughter was stillborn nearly 5 years ago I have prayed that I would not have to give them away unused. This morning I packed them up and gave them to a friend who recently had her 14th child.

Why did I do it? Why not just continue to hang on to them? It's not like we've given up on trying to have another baby. God willing, there will be another little Darr (oh, and btw God, I'm hoping for a girl). What's another couple years?

It was time.

It was time to let go of these adorable little clothes and let an adorable little baby wear them.

It was time to stop thinking of them as Keenan's clothes. Keenan, sadly, didn't get to wear them and if we're blessed with a little girl she will deserve her own clothes. A little girl does not need to live in the shadow of her dead sister.

It was time to stop worrying about using the clothes.

It was time to let go of the final "things" I had to connect me to Keenan. After all, it's just stuff. Keenan is hanging out with the Beatific Vision, singing with the angles and saints, and is certainly not thinking about a box of clothes in the attic.

There were a few blessings out of all this. First, every single piece will be the perfect size at the right time for my friend's little girl.

Second, the youngest child in a big family will get to wear brand new clothes. No hand me downs for this mini-fashionista.

Finally, maybe it seems silly to hang on to unworn baby clothes. What's the big deal? I have plenty of clothes that my son didn't get a chance to wear in those days that he grew like a weed and I'll probably sell them in a garage sale next week without remorse. But, when a baby dies, it's different. Every single thing that would have "belonged" to that baby becomes sacred in some way. Each item is revered as "the baby's". The truth of the matter, those things don't actually matter, it's just stuff. What matters is how much I love her and miss her and not what outfit she would have worn. Today was about letting go of stuff, but not letting go of her.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The internal 3 year old

I try to have quiet prayer time early in the morning - after my husband goes to work and before anyone else wakes. Most days my little guy wakes up around 6:24 am; the kid has one accurate internal clock. Somedays I'm really lucky and he sleeps until 7:00 am.

Usually when he wakes up he comes and says good morning to me and I walk him back to his room, "It's too early to be up and running around. Nanny and Papa are still sleeping." I also have to add "and don't come out of your room until I come get you." Some mornings he's great and plays in his room, other mornings he's a nut running in and out of his room, calling for me, and my prayer time consists of short bursts of "God help me."

For whatever reason, the other day I told him he could stay with me during my quiet prayer. "You can either lay on the couch quietly or you can sit in my lap." He chose to lay on the couch. After 5 minutes of endless shifting and talking to me, I picked him up and sat him in my lap.

He relaxed as soon as I set him in my lap and snuggled into me. "It's time to be very quiet and still. Mommy's going to pray and you can say your prayers to Jesus." I closed my eyes and listened to him as he whispered his prayers. It was very sweet and I thought, I'm not doing too bad at this Mommy thing.

Then...a small whisper..."Excuse me, Mommy." I decided to keep my eyes closed and try to focus. A small hand reached up and stroked my face accompanied by an emphatic whisper, "Excuse me, Mommy."

I opened my eyes, "Yes, what is it?"

This apparently was an invitation to a waterfall of questions and observations and squirminess. And then it dawned on me...I joke around about having a hamster wheel for a brain, but really, when I pray I'm more like a 3 year old sitting in the lap of the Lord. Constantly chattering, pointing out bright shiny things, asking questions, squirming, daydreaming, all the while trying to be still and present. I couldn't get upset with him because I was too busy laughing at myself.

Finally, the 3 year old in my lap settled down and the 3 year old in my head quieted down. We got 2 solid minutes of stillness and it was a lovely way to start the day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Not your average catechist

Why is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) so awesome?  Two reasons: it respects the intelligence of the child and the catechists are awesome (I'm not tooting my own horn.  Really.)

I'll start by highlight a "problem" with regular religious education programs in parishes.  Most programs rely on volunteers who in the goodness of their hearts offer their time to the children of the parish - this is NOT the problem.  The problem comes down to training and the books.  A lot of the people I know who teach religious education have had the moment where they think, "What the heck am I doing?"  This is the problem.

When I was younger - long before a theology degree - I volunteered to be a catechist at my parish.  I was excited about my faith, but I didn't always know how to convey it to the 8th graders in my care.  Worse yet, I didn't even have a text to work from.  I was told to discuss topics which I was not informed of until the moment I arrived.  On top of this scary scenario, the Director offered no help.  I don't doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to swoop in a fill in all the many gaps, but this was a recipe for disaster.  I managed to flounder through the first part of the year and then I "resigned".  I felt the kids deserved better.  Looking back with the benefit of experience and education, it was a huge mistake that I was even placed with that class.  A significant background check was run on my non-existant criminal history, but there wasn't a background check on my theological and religious knowledge or my ability to teach.

Don't even get me started on the "textbooks" that are out there.  My biggest beef with the textbooks is that the writers don't respect the intelligence of the child and the faith is watered down.  And, this is why CGS will trump textbook religious education classes everyday of the week.  CGS respects the fact that kids, especially little kids, are sponges.  They delight in learning the proper names for the articles of the Mass or learning a song in Latin.  Furthermore, CGS actually fosters religious experience - communing with God - that a classroom setting can rarely create.

CGS catechists are often volunteers, but they have to make the commitment to complete training.  Each catechist goes through intensive training that is approved by The National of the Association Catechesis of the Good Shepherd USA.  The training is either a 2 week intensive format or a weekend format meeting several times in a year.  Level I training (3-6 year olds) focuses on the most essential elements of the faith: the Mass, the Infancy Narratives, Baptism, several parables of Christ, the Good Shepherd, some of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ, and laying the foundation for the moral life.  Each catechist then creates an album page (lesson plan) for each presentation (lesson) and creates an album (lesson book).  Essentially, each catechist writes her own book that is used to teach the children.  The process of writing each album page helps the catechist to internalize the teaching.  

It is a huge undertaking for a parish to being CGS, but it is definitely worth the effort.  I have written before that Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) would start a revolution in the Church. I am part of what I like to call the "Rainbow and Sunshine Jesus" generation. American Catholics, of a certain age, were not taught the foundational theology and dogmas of Christ and His Church, rather we got a watered down, feel good, hippy-dippy catechism that had no substance to make us crave Christ and no backbone to support us when life got hard. An entire Catholic generation was lost under the banner of "experimentation".

The Church doesn't need any more experiments; it needs children who know the Good Shepherd.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday 2013

If you've ever gone to Mass on Ash Wednesday, then you have probably caught the incongruity of the readings with our actions at Mass.  Jesus tells us to wash our faces and not look glum in Matthew 6:17-18.  And what do we do as soon as the homily is over?  Smear a cross of ashes on our foreheads!  Why the heck do we do that?

At Mass today my pastor shared a good explanation, but I had a squirrely three year old with me so I can only share the gist of what he said:
The ashes are an outward sign of my sinful ways.  The ashes represent the parts of my soul that have been scourged due to sin and/or neglect.  The ashes represent the areas that need the life-giving waters of Christ.

Whatever I give up or take up this Lent should help me to grow and to tend to the ash-like parts of my soul.  For instance, I'm horrible, and I mean horrible, at fasting.  I'm a great big baby when it comes to fasting - and the Church doesn't ask us to do it very much.  I wind up being miserable just like the gloomy hypocrites that Jesus talk about (yikes!)  For years I have flirted with trying to "improve" my fasting.  Guess what?  Flirting with fasting is not fasting.  So, this year one of the things I'm going to focus on is fasting because I like food way too much; it is a crutch for me.  Prayer should be my crutch.

If you're still trying to figure out what you're going to do for Lent, allow me to suggest Fr. Jonathan Morris' Lent Challenge 2013.  He lays out a great plan that helps to think through the areas of mind, body, and soul.  Because Lent isn't about denying ourselves for the sake of denying, it's about growing closer to our Lord and Savior.

I pray you have a good Lent.  Remember, ashes are excellent fertilizer.  I pray that on Easter morning you find grass growing in your soul where once there were ashes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's not April Fool's Day

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning.

If you told me this in about two months, then I would laugh and say, "Very funny, Happy April Fool's Day."  Today is not April Fool's Day.  It's a Monday in February.

There are a ton of questions to be asked and answered in the next few weeks.  All the i's will be dotted and t's crossed, but the most important thing for Catholics to do right now is pray.

Pray for Benedict XVI - for his health, peace of mind, thanksgiving for his service.  Pray for the Catholic Church - for a smooth transition of the papacy, for unity among all Catholics, and for a renewal of faith for everyone.

The Holy Spirit has promised never to abandon the Church.  Hold this promise close to your heart and pray to be the Spirit's conduit of grace to a broken world.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The silence of 25 children

Sunday was a success! The first meeting of the Atrium at St. Brigid's in Memphis was fantastic. We have a rather unusual set up because we have 3 Atrium sessions happening simultaneously. The ages range from 3-8 and if you know anything about children, then you know there's a huge difference between a 3 year old and an 8 year old. I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but we did our best to divide the children up by age, and the Holy Spirit took care of the rest.

The children were so attentive and quiet; they knew in their hearts that this special place was for them. We ended our time together at the prayer table and I reminded the children about how to sit quietly without fidgeting. It was beautiful! The children closed their eyes and sat in silence. Complete silence. No one moved, no coughed or sneezed, no giggles, just silence. We could hear the wind blowing outside, the tick-tick-ticking of the clock, the buzz of the fluorescent lights. I taught them two versions of the Alleluia. They were so joy-filled with smiles all around. One of my fellow catechists told me that her kids were singing Alleluia for the rest of the day.

It was so wonderful to be in an Atrium again. I have 5 and 6 year olds and they learn things a lot faster than 3 year olds - I used to work in a 3 year old Atrium. I have spent the last week furiously reviewing and editing my "album pages" (lesson plans) and planning out the coming weeks for my class. I can't wait for Sunday to get here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Opening an Atrium

This Sunday will be the first session of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) at St. Brigid's Catholic Church in Memphis, TN. I have had nothing to do with the planning, assembling, and setup of the Atrium (the room where the Catechesis is taught), I just happening to show up along the way and said, "Hey, can I get in on this?"

Late last summer my family decided to go to Mass at a different parish, sometimes a change is good. We had been floundering a bit at our parish, me especially. Mass at this new parish was lovely and reverent and then, at the end of the Mass, the pastor announced that CGS would be starting up in a few months. I had to contain my scream of excitement! My son would be three by the time the Atrium opened. I was elated and quickly asked my husband if he would mind if I volunteered with the program. Being that he's awesome, he said I should do it. And, before we had even talked about it, my husband grabbed a parish census form so we could join. "I figured," he said, "it was a done deal."

It has taken a little bit longer to get the Atrium together than hoped, but it's finally starting. It has been over 10 years since I have had the chance to work in an Atrium. Yesterday I met with the other two catechists who are newbies and I got a chance to walk around the Atrium. We will have about 28 children in the Atrium at one time - that's a lot! There are plenty of questions to be worked out, but I can't wait for Sunday morning.

The role of the catechist is serious and important. We don't watch movies or color cheesy pictures of Jesus. You can't just volunteer to be a catechist; you have to complete the CGS training.  The children learn about the chasubles (the robes worn by the priest), the chalice and paten (used by the priest during consecration), the liturgical colors and calendar, the Good Shepherd, and the altar just to name a few things. The catechist helps to form the child to participate at the Mass - even at three years old.

It's hard to explain what an Atrium is like, you just have to see it (I'm hoping to get pictures up in a few weeks). Everything is at the level of a small child. Everything is smaller than child-size. The Atrium is not a nursery or a play area; it is the workspace of the child and the work is to encounter God. As the catechist, my job is to journey along with the children to meet God. I'm a fellow Catholic Christian seeking the Good Shepherd who knows me by name.

It is a very beautiful place. It's a mini Kingdom of God.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Forgive and Forget?

I'm still making my way through Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness. It's a profound, thoughtful book that has led me to some serious introspection and I take it in small doses. Also, active three year olds aren't exactly understanding of the need for introspection. If you haven't gotten this book yet, then please do.

Genevieve Kineke addresses one of the most often quoted thoughts about forgiveness: forgive and forget. But, is that really possible? Kineke makes an excellent distinction on forgetting. In small, trifling matters I should forget the hurt, but for bigger, habitual, or traumatic injuries forgetting is not wise.

In the case of habitual hurts, say at the hands of an abusive parent, it would be stupid to "forget" the injury after forgiveness. Why? Because you set yourself up to be hurt over and over and over again. Protecting my heart from someone who has been known to trample on it is not selfish or un-Christian, it is wise. Sometimes I have to end a relationship because it is damaging to the soul and other times I have to be a little smarter in how much I trust or what I share.

In the case of traumatic hurts, forgetting is practically impossible and certainly not normal. Kineke shares a powerful story of a rape victim and her search for forgiveness, but you'll just have to buy the book to get the story. I'll share a quote though,

"We should not ask for the ability to forget the sins against us but rather to remember them in a way that we can manage, that will give glory to God for his great mercy..." (page 84)

The Sacrament of Reconciliation was part of my grad school studies, but it had more to do with the history of the sacrament, Biblical theology, and the nuts and bolts of the sacrament. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time talking about the "how-to's": how to help people see the need for forgiveness and the Sacrament; how forgiveness is a process; how to pray to be able to forgive; how to know my forgiveness is earnest.

 I'm glad I've got Set Free now, not only for myself, but to help me in ministry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Firing Squads

55 million souls...

That's more than the total population of the 20 biggest cities in the U.S.  Imagine that tomorrow no one lives in New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonia, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Austin, San Francisco, Columbus, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Detroit, El Paso, Memphis...(which is only about 32 million...I stopped adding after the top 20 cities).  Imagine that all those people are suddenly gone.  Now instead of these people disappearing, imagine that they are murdered by firing squad with the blessing of the federal government.

If you lived outside of one of those cities, what would you do?  Would you go on with your day?  Would you stand up to the injustice?  Would you pray for the firing squads to stop?  Would you cheer on the firing squads?  Would you pay the salary of the firing squads?  Would you vote in favor of more firing squads with the power to increase the numbers of people shot?

I have to admit that I haven't done much to stop abortion other than vote for life, pray outside abortion clinics a few times, and pray for the end of abortion.  Every prayer is efficacious and every prayer matters, but action is necessary.  Somehow, some way, I'm going to find more ways to be involved to stop abortion.

A nation that kills babies shouldn't be surprised that other things in the culture aren't so rosy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Anne of Green Gables

I've been a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables since I was 11 years old. I am most familiar with the Kevin Sullivan movies that aired on PBS, Anne of Green Gables and its sequel. I read the books when I was young and made a pilgrimage to the real Green Gables nearly 12 years ago with a friend and fellow "Anne fanatic".

I got the bug to re-read the series last week and plowed through the first book Anne of Green Gables in a few sittings. It's one of those books that has multiple levels; there's something for young people and something for adults. When I was young I loved Anne and her world of imagination, because I had my own little world, but reading it now I have a deeper love and appreciation of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.

In case you don't know Anne's story, here's the background:
The story is set in the late 1800's on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Anne was orphaned as an infant and taken in by neighbors who did little to educate her to proper behavior or God, but she has a very good heart. She was passed on to another family and made to take care of the children when she herself was a child. The husband was a violent alcohol who would smash windows when in a rage. Finally, she lands in an orphanage where she is adopted by Marilla Cuthbert, a spinster, and Matthew, her painfully shy brother who never married. However, when Anne arrives at Green Gables there is a great surprise because the Cuthberts were expecting a little boy, not a girl. Interestingly, after learning a little of her background the Cuthberts do not send her back, as Matthew says, "Maybe we could be of some use to her."

The things that stood out as I read the story this time was sacrificial love and Christian responsibility. There was no reason for the Cuthberts to keep Anne - she wasn't a boy and God only knows the kind of upbringing she had, but they kept her because they saw a young girl who needed them.

Anne's world produces nostalgia for a simpler time, which is not possible to attain. On a deeper level, though, it stirs a desire to be as loving and willing to face sacrifice, regardless of the cost, as the Cuthberts and that is possible to imitate.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book on Forgiveness

I'm in the midst of reading a GREAT book on forgiveness: Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness by Genevieve Kineke. I'm planning to write a proper book review when I finish, but I couldn't wait to share some of the wisdom.

Are you waiting for an apology from someone who has hurt you? Here's why Kineke says that is a bad idea:

"...if your forgiveness hinges on the other's contrition, then he or she is exercising a control over you that is entirely unwarranted. If you put forgiveness in the hands of the wrongdoer then you hand your eternal destiny to a finite creature..."(page 26)

Yikes! I had never thought about waiting for an apology in that way, but it makes perfect sense.  Christ commanded forgiveness, but if I'm harboring a resentment and waiting for an apology, then that is doing harm to my soul.

Another pearl of wisdom that got me was about the act of forgiving. "Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling." (page 31). I have been in the position when I have wanted to forgive someone - made the decision to put the hurt behind me - but found that I got upset again if I was reminded of the incident. I thought that meant I hadn't really forgiven the hurt and had to wait until it no longer bothered me. Not so! Her advice is to forgive and if you get upset about the incident in the future, then make another act of forgiveness. It makes so much sense since forgiving can be a long and hard process.

Is it necessary to say 'I forgive you' to the person who has wronged you? Depending on the hurt and who did it, it may not be necessary. In some cases, confronting the person can bring back painful memories or perhaps the person has died. So long as I can pray for that person and the idea of meeting them in heaven doesn't fill me with dread or anger, then the forgiveness is real.

These are just a few of the nuggets I've gotten from this book and I'm barely a quarter of the way through. I highly recommend this book for anyone.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Not appropriate

It's interesting the things I did not notice before I had my very own little person for whom I'm kid's movies. I have watched lots kid's movies with my nieces and nephew in the past, but I missed a few things.

My husband and I have been working on building a DVD library of movies and shows we're okay with and that we are okay watching over and over and over again. Last week we added Cars to the mix. I'd seen it years ago, but while my son was watching it I caught a few things I had missed.

I was working on the computer and barely paying attention to the movie when suddenly the word "idiot" snapped my head around. Then, the phrase "hillbilly Hell" was used twice. Huh?! Really? This movie is targeted to my son - who is 3 - his pull-up diapers have Lightening McQueen plastered all over them! I know that he's going to hear these words, but does it have to be in a kid's movie? I want to keep the name calling at bay for all long as possible and I'd rather he never swear.

There are times I feel the desire to simply shield him from everything, but it's hardly possible and probably not healthy. And then I think about trusting in God. I have to trust that the Holy Spirit is helping me in this whole parenting process and I have to trust the Holy Spirit is guiding my son, too.

I guess it's time to hunt down more of the oldies: Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, and Robin Hood and Lady and the Tramp...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


"Why Mommy?'
"What's that Mommy?"
"Why Mommy?"
"Who's that guy Mommy?"
"Why Mommy?"

My son is in the stage of asking all kinds of questions, most often, "Why Mommy?" Most of the time, I don't mind the questions, but there are times when they get annoying, like when I'm trying to do something quickly.

Often the questions can be easily answered, "What's that Mommy?" Uh...that's a dump truck, that's a grocery store, that's a cow. Some questions are harder to answer, "Why is that there?" Uh...I don't know, I guess someone left it there. And then, the hardest question to answer, "Why?" Some whys are hard to explain to a three year old.

This morning I was thinking about all the whys my little guy has been asking and how some of the answers are so obvious, but they can't be explained to a three year old. That's when it hit me that my intelligibility of the whole universe is much like a three year old when compared to God's infinite and all-knowing knowing.

The biggest mystery of all is probably the question of suffering and evil.  If God is good, then why do bad things happen? It's called the mystery of theodicy. And then the question that follows is why does suffering destroy some people and other people grow stronger from it? I suppose to God the answer to that question is very straight-foward and makes perfect sense but how do you explain that to a three year old?

Perhaps my son has the answer to getting the answer: just keep asking why, why, why until you get an satisfactory answer.