Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Steven Curtis Chapman - Do Everything (Official Music Video)

I love this song. This is the Carmelite theology of the "little way" in song form!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bruno Mars - Just The Way You Are [Official Video]

A Catholic told me recently "God doesn't love us with affection!" It was so shocking, I listened to him repeat that exact statement three times during his speech. "God doesn't love us with affection!"

In my heart I said "NO WAY!"

And I prayed for him. Because he obviously never drank in the glowing words of St. John of the Cross.

God loves each of us, in an affectionate, uniquely personal way. And just because He loves the whole entire world and forgives us all of sin, it doesn't diminish that between Him and me there is a unique, teasing, personal love. He has real affection for my soul.

As one of my wise Carmelite friend likes to say "I'm God's IT GIRL!"

(And her counter-point, "I don't even mind that your God's IT Girl, too. Because I know for certain, I am so the IT GIRL!!!!)

This has been an unbelievably hard week. I am fighting the Devil tooth and nail. It's three weeks before my first Carmel promises, and I'm in the boxing ring with evil. Those bad forces, bad thoughts, bad situations never seem to let up for a second.

And I'm falling down.

I'm falling into sin. I'm screwing up. I'm letting down the Church Militant.

I mean, man if I was a Carmelite soccer goalie instead of a hidden prayer warrior, my current score board would not look good. Something like Evil 256, Pathetic Carmelite 1.

So I was moping around the house today, praying to God for Help and feeling totally miserable.

This song came on the radio.

I can't explain it.

It's personal. It's affectionate.

I might have a million sins still clinging stubbornly to my soul.

I might be a pathetic washout as a mother, a wife and a Catholic.

Yet my pre-engaged spouse, Mr. Jesus Christ, Himself, he still sings to me that "when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while....."

It's personal, our love affair. It's affectionate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Knew?

So the new neighbor with the annoyingly loud Great Dane was the one who rescued me and four kids when we ran out of gas at soccer practice tonight. Goes to show, "you never can tell!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 Paul Simon BBC TV (Love Me Like A Rock)

I heard this song on the radio for the first time last night. I love it! It's all about Mommy Mary and the vocation of Catholic Motherhood (even if poor Paul Simon doesn't it know it yet)

When I was a little boy,
And the devil would call my name
I'd say "now who do,
Who do you think you're fooling? "

I'm a consecrated boy
I'm a singer in a sunday choir
Oh , my mama loves, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Like she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages

And loves me
She love me, love me, love me, love me

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Receiving Contempt With Joy (Sort of)

My baby annoyed someone at church on Sunday.

No, not that one......
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the one that is still in my belly!

As I registered the words I heard, I looked down at my budging 18 week belly. I had this silent debate with myself:

"You mean this one?
The one who is completely silent and still fully wreathed in my stomach muscles?
This is the baby who is most annoying you in this second?
For real??????"

I mean, come on. At least, give my youngest kid a little time. He's a Benjaminite, after all.* I have no doubt that in a few short months he'll crying during the exact moment of the Consecration. However, in this specific moment in time, I'm pretty sure that I, his mother, am the ONLY human being in the planet who is remotely affected by my little sweet pea's presence.

I talked about this later with my husband on the phone (because I'm so rotten at practicing the art of silence, of letting bad things die with me and not further troubling the waters--hence this blog post). We were laughing about how EVERY SINGLE pregnancy brings a fresh batch of trouble.

You receive contempt.

You make new groups of people mad.

It never gets easier.

We were reviewing the situations from last to first--number six--making some people mad at church. Number 3 (a miscarriage), Number 4 and Number 5 (getting scorn heaped on us by the medical professionals at my obs office). Number 2 (conceived less than 9 months after the first) got us disowned by our extended families.

I was stumped on Number one.

"Every lets you have a first child," I said. "Oh wait, work." Yeah, I was working during my first pregnancy and my co-workers so angry at being inconvenienced I quit as soon as I discovered I was pregnant with baby number two.

In the middle of the 40 days of life campaign, I just want to remind us--do not be scandalized. Pregnancy = contempt. The world is a harsh place. The world does not welcome new life. If you are currently pregnant, and you find yourself at the other end of a verbal thrashing equal to a grizzly bear attack, just remember "I am in good company."

Rumor, has it that Mommy Mary couldn't find a kind face from the midst of a crowded inn while the poor dear was in labor!

*No, I don't know yet if its a boy or a girl. I just assigned a gender for the sake of clarity in this post.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prayers Please

Tomorrow my husband Jon and I have our formal interview to see if we get the green light to make our temporary (three year) promises to be Carmelites.

St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, please pray for us!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leaving Academia

I don't know why my beef with the American Librarian Association has me so rattled. Yet I'm up at 3 AM thinking about it.

I'm the daughter of a college professor. I grew up in academia. To date, I'm still far more comfortable in a classroom or a library, than I am in my own kitchen or praying in a quiet church pew. Academia is my natural habitat.

In the back of my mind there was this assumption that certain rules applied--however, imperfectly executed my individual historians. We don't use foul language. We don't make sweeping generalizations about that past that are unsupported by facts. We don't "pander" to public opinion.

To discover that the American Librarian Association thinks that this book is an excellent example of scholarship for juvenile readers,---it's sort of like discovering that the emperor has no clothes.

Jesus said "whoever follows me must loose all possessions." I guess following Him means stripping myself of self-identification with intellectualism or academia. I've got to be willing to put Him ahead of everything else. I need to be willing to be seen in public as the poor, pregnant slob of a girl who is a prissy about children reading foul language and poorly constructed historical arguments against our Faith.

Mary, I'm totally yours!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Admonishing Sinners

Ahh, such a talent I have---NOT!

Today, I told my small city librarian today that I didn't think an American History book where the first chapter is subtitled "Notorious Whores" and the author's insulting thesis is that "the early roots of American Democracy are identical to the Taliban" should be shelved in our children's section.

Her response: "Well, not every book is going to be right for every family!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Prayers for Logan


For those that read my last post, Logan is number 4 in this picture. My son is number 13.
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

"When you feel like you don't belong somewhere, it doesn't mean that you're not supposed to be there"

I watched the "cool parents" of my kid's soccer team fall apart this morning. The Mom of the super star of our Under 8 soccer team died of leukemia on Thursday. Before Friday, I'm not sure that anyone on the team knew who she was, or that she was sick. The lone father in attendance during our Fall soccer games seemed like just another product of a divorced family. (Man, does it suck to judge!)

Most of the parents were horribly uncomfortable with sudden appearance of death on our kids soccer team. We got an email saying that if we told our kids about Logan's Mom's death, then it was important for the kids not to mention it at practice. Someone made our team armbands that were orange, not black.I asked Alex about it before the game and found out the coaches had passed out orange armbands for the team to wear without any instructions that orange is a symbol for leukemia patients, or why this was suddenly important for our team. Then the coaches had an uncomfortable meeting with the parents post-game where we decided to collect money to send flowers to the house.

Because I'm a foolish Carmelite, I took my whole family to the viewing today. The funeral home was a 2 hour drive from our house. All during the trip I worried about what I would say to the widower, or how my six year old son (a man not famous for his spirituality or his tact) would react to the viewing.

Why do I worry?

We got to the viewing and knelt uncomfortably down as a family to say a Hail Mary and an Our Father. My husband looked up and noticed that their was a crucifix above the coffin. "She was a Catholic!" he whispered to me.

After our prayers, we found Logan to give our condolences. My husband introduced Alex as a member of his soccer team.

Logan, said "I remember you!" with his face lit up with a huge smile for Alex. Then he asked a surprising follow-up, "Do you want some candy?"

A relative had sent a funeral wreath filled with tiny whopper candies all pinned out on an ivy wreath--a totally unique floral arrangement.

Logan went up to the wreath and pulled off a bag of candy for Alex. Then he got candy for Hannah and Maria.

These four kids hung out in total normalacy inches from his mother's open coffin. They munched on candy. They joked. They make those little twitches and jumps that only little kids can make. It was such a moment of grace, of connection, and of hope. I couldn't believe that my kids were the ones who could gracefully walk into a funeral parlor and offer friendship to a six year old kid who had just lost his Mother.

(Wow! When Jesus says "I will comfort the sorrowful," He really keeps his word!)

Later, Jon got to talk to the husband. He found out that the Mom had made a strong friendship with a priest during the last stage of her illness. The funeral was held so far from their home town because they wanted to have the funeral services within the parish boundaries of this priest. My Jon said "you made the right decision."

I found out today, that my life has no accidents. I thought we were the odd fish on the soccer team. Honestly, I really wanted us to drop out. I felt uncomfortable with the other parents, tired from pregnancy, and my kid is the one watching cloud formations while everyone else is running after the ball.

Yet this was all a part of God's plan all along.

I also found out that there are no strangers inside of a funeral home. We don't need a long history or deep connection to be instruments of God's grace. We just need to be willing to be his servants to someone in need.

Please pray for the soul of Tara Semak and for her husband Pete and her wonderful sons Dustin and Logan.

Mother Mary, pray for Tara. Blessed John Paul the II, please comfort a fellow soccer lover and motherless child named Logan.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mentally Rewriting the Corporal Acts of Mercy

Since I'm clearly not holy enough to merit having angels to do my housework like the beautiful St. Zita (or rich enough to hire a cleaning lady!) I've been working on my terrible mental attitude regarding "the daily grind" of Motherhood.

My husband came up with the idea of tying specific tasks to the Corporal Acts of Mercy. It has really helped!

Previously when I thought about "sheltering the homeless",

I got a mental picture of volunteering for "Habitat for Humanity." As the mother of four young kids (and another one the in belly) I'm unlikely to get a Saturday free to use a staple gun to help the homeless for approximately THE NEXT SEVENTEEN years, I'd get depressed. I'd think "I'm not really doing anything." But when my patient husband explained that every time I cleaned up clutter from the living room, I was creating a home for my own family and thus "sheltering the homeless", my heart expanded.

So here is my mental revision of the Seven Acts of Corporal Mercy, adjusted for a pregnant SAHM of very young children.

To feed the hungry;---- cooking AND grocery shopping AND cleaning out the yucky junk in the fridge

To give drink to the thirsty;--give milk to the toddler AND paying the water bill online

To clothe the naked--doing all tasks associated with the laundry

To shelter the Homeless--cleaning up the living room, paying the mortgage, etc.

To visit the sick--buying cough drops and making routine ped. appointments

(Still working on visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.)

When I have a task, if I take a few seconds and put it in the appropriate work of mercy slot, I find I have a much better attitude. I'm finding it easier to combine a life of prayer AND work, or "work as I pray."