Hallelujah

Mommy Mantra October 16, 2014:  PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4, 5-6 Responsorial Psalm from this mornings readings are so wonderful:

R. (2a) The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

It is a call for us to renew ourselves.  Renew our souls.  Renew our thoughts.

Slavery

Mommy Mantra October 14, 2014: Gal 5: 1-6 “…..so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery”
Paul speaks right to the heart of the matter, he is saying to the early Church don’t get caught up in the law it will only draw you away from what is important: Christ.

One of the many things that can draw us, as moms, away from Christ: the pursuit of perfectionism. There is no perfect mom. That is a myth that needs to die. The only thing it will lead to is competition. And competition leads to envy, which leads to gossip, which leads to superiority.

None of these are remotely helpful, Christian, or loving.

Stories of mother’s prayer

susan hiddenThis is a joyous Facebook post.  For almost a month her sweet ten year old daughter was sick with some unknown and worrying illness, it took days for doctors to determine that her daughter had appendicitis.  For her, her husband and son it was a terrifying time. A time when you need to reach out.  Being the new Millennium means reaching out to friends, family and nieghbours through social media: Facebook.  It was through Facebook a strong and faith-full community came and rallied around this family, filling them with prayers, support and love.  Every day the community, (both virtual and physical), anxiously waited for updates.   Every day prayers where posted, Masses offered, all with the knowledge that when two or more are, (virtually), gathered together there is God.   The community stormed heaven with prayers of healing for the sweet girl sick in her hospital bed.  Prayers for strength for mom and dad as they stay a prayerful vigil at the bedside of their little girl.  Prayers for big brother so he will still feel warm support as mom and dad deal with little sister’s health support.  Prayers for the doctors and nurses who worked to bring their sweet girl to full health.

Now, the prayerful mothering experience of a young mom who sought out God’s call for the best way to educate her lovely school aged son entering first grade.  Here is her story of prayerfully discerning the best and most supportive way to educate her son. It is certainly not the typical first grade experience.

We started off the year at a private school, which our son has attended for the 3 previous years for preschool and Kindergarten. Things did not go well. He was struggling both academically and socially. We pulled him out of school in the middle of the 2nd week. We decided to try homeschooling. Things have turned around into such a positive experience since our son has been homeschooling. He seems to have regained a love for learning (which he loathed learning in his former school). He read his first book! He was SO proud! I’m jealous his dad gets to be the one with him all day long, (I work 8-5, M-F) but I’ve been doing lessons on the weekends. It has been going really well and we think we may do this for more than one year now! We initially thought we’d hire a tutor to come to our home but after a few communications she stopped responding. We’ve been doing fine on our own, so I took that as a sign that we don’t need someone else to do it for us. I feel like this has been one of those “everything happens for a reason” experiences. Although it felt like hell getting here, I am so glad we ended up where we are now.”

Then there is this very imporimmodest dresstant thread being discussed on a Facebook group focusing on Catholic Moms.  A newly married woman, (who I am not sure is yet a mom, if she is than her children must be very young), posted about her experience of a recent Mass.  She was upset with a Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist who, for whatever reason, was not totally “there” when discharging her duty, but what caught my eye was her throw away statement of young girls; I read here that the girls who must have been preteen/teen agers, dressing immodestly for the celebration of the Baptism during that recent Mass.  This struck me in the heart because it is a HUGE issue, one I have dealt with personally and professionally.

My reply to her posting was of a very personal experience of how a family member of ours was being talked about during a Mass, and what was being said was very hurtful.  This thread had many members of the group posting replies to me in support and of their own mothering experience of their own troubled girls in their own family who were/are dealing with emotional-spiritual issues that they express their pain through their dress.  This preteen/teen girls’ dress is more a call for help, love and support than derision and hurtful-loving help not understanding the moms feel such pain when they and their girls were judgedrd instead of prayed for.  One of the members posted perhaps the best understanding of the aspects of prayer: that our experiences can be transformed by God into wisdom for others and our self, she wrote:  “And God uses us and struggle to help others.”

10689545_10202678678597317_1759546044157950620_nFinally, this loving senior portrait.

I posted this reply to this young woman’s Facebook timeline: “Look at this senior picture, really look at it. First off how many seniors would have their mothers in the picture, very few; so what does that say? It says that here is a daughter, (Kateri), who understands and values her relationship with her mother, who understands the sacrifice and work of her mother, and how that work, in all it’s aspects, shaped her into the woman she is becoming.

Secondly, look at Dawn’s face! She is beaming! As she should be!

Both Kateri and Dawn’s face just glow!

 

Celebrities

I found this post on my timeline on Facebook:

I truly believe many people would be measurably happier in their own lives if they spent as much time caring about their own lives as they do the lives of celebrities.

Why do we fixate on celebrities?  That is complicated.  For many it has to do with fear: Fear of success.  Fear of others opinion of what they are doing.  Fear of criticism. Fear traps us.  Fear is also additive, lolling us into a false security.  Fear makes us believe that if we don’t do anything we feel called to do than we can’t do anything wrong and no-one will judge us; and by not being judged we  won’t feel badly about ourself.   Fear is like a small child clinging to our legs, begging us not to change because change is terrifying.  So, we look outward for the life we want.  We want that life, but we are afraid to do what it takes to get it.  Or we do just enough to start and because it didn’t happen overnight we stop and say very smugly: Well, that’s it we couldn’t do it, woe is us.

We look at the celebrities and pretend they are us.  We imagine their lives are so important. Ours are not.  We imagine that their lives are prefect.  Ours are not.   So, we allow fear to lie to us.  Like a jealous lover it will say anything to us to keep us.  But what fear tells us are the lies that we are not important, that our lives are not important.  Fear tells us that celebrities are so important that their lives are prefect, no-ones life is prefect.

The most important question to ask ourselves is do we want to change.  Do we want the life we feel called to have, or are we in denial about how much we want a life lived large?

If we want to be more than a celebrity watcher than we look at what the fear is, what is says to us about what we are called to change:

  • Recognize Fear as a Sign of Your Growth
  • Change Your Attitude
  • Turn Your Fear into a Question
  • Surround Yourself With Powerful Thinkers/Read Powerful Books, Blogs, Material
  • Think Bigger

As Moms we need all the help we can get.

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels RV 12:7-12ab “For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.”

As Moms we need all the help we can get.

Raphael Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

God, with great wisdom You direct the ministry of Angels and men. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.

Gabriel O Captain and Leader of the armies of heaven, unworthy as we are, we beseech you without cease to surround us with your intercession and cover us beneath the shelter of the glory of your ethereal wings. We bend our knee and cry out with perseverance: “Deliver us from danger, O Prince of the Powers on high!” Amen.
Michael Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Prefect or Complete: Which is it

English: perfectionism at its finest

Mothering/parenting, while it has many rewards can be very frustrating, and we have to be honest with ourselves about that or else we fall into this trap of having to be perfect: a perfect wife, a perfect mother. I speak from experience. I have been married 30 years have four children: two sons 29, 24, twin daughters 19; and our house has have had EVERY possible parenting issues you can imagine: troubled teens, drug and alcohol, preemie twins, ADHD the list goes go.

Say you are a young mom with very young children, who like all young children get swarmy, fidgety, hungry, bored.  As this young mom you are trying your best to keep those children as quiet and prefect as possible, but it’s hard.  You can feel the eyes boring in on you.  You can feel them drilling holes in the back of your neck. You feel exposed, vulnerable. Than it happens.  Call it mommy hormones, lack of sleep/rest, but you find yourself balling like a baby right along with your infant hungry child.  You had just reach your tipping point and the tears came. Those who don’t get it or who are annoyed by what happened are dealing with their own issues, and for the most part that issue is, frankly, perfectionism. It something I have seen time and time again, Take the lady who said “GAH” to you, who rolls her eyes in that: “My God!” derisive way; for her Mass is an ordered and quiet perfection. She likes it when nothing goes wrong and when it does well you, mother, are not doing your job right. Again the trap of being perfect.

Perfectionism creates no support only derision. In Matthew 5:48 Christ tells us to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”, you could just as easily replace prefect with complete. None of us can be as prefect as God but we are all call to strive for that perfection, some people just forget the striving to be prefect part and demand perfection from others NOW.

But it is much easier for us to see how we can be as complete as God: Grace, mercy, hope, faith. The Sacraments help us achieve this completeness, our turning from temptation, doing Acts of Mercy. In the Old Testament people who were striving for this completeness would be called righteous.

To combat that perfectionism I found I had to keep my eyes on the prize, and the prize is a moving target: infancy…keep them feed, happy and dry. Toddler/young school child: teachable moments of life, faith and the world. Preteen/teen helping to guide them through the pitfalls of hormones and the second toddler-hood. And part of that fight to be prefect meant I had to ignore those who were judging my calling on how I was to be a mom. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please the person who matters the most: God.

Road to Perdition

One thing I feel called to do in my own life, is to stop thinking of per-teens and teens as somehow on the road to Perdition. I/We must start to see everyone…as Christ did/does/and tells us to. I am thinking of my work with moms of teens/preteens going through hard times. These moms see themselves in a long dark tunnel and the light at the end, what light? For them days can seem like a long series of frustration, guilt and despair. the very common mantra is: “Where/What did I go wrong/did I do wrong. These can intellectualize that every child has been given by God gifts and talents that are to be a benefit to His people; but for right now they are doing their best to keep their preteen/teen emotionally-spiritually healthy. Thinking of the future is so far off it might as well be centuries from now.

Right now these gifts and talents are hidden under issues that have come to surface, but as they work on what God is calling them to do; their gifts and talents will shine through. I deal with moms of these trouble kids, and I tell them that the pain their child is going is going to be changed by God into wisdom. I tell these moms that their own pain has been changed into compassion, wisdom and emotional-spiritual strength. But these changes must come with the attitude of Christ: positive, compassionate, wise.

Trouble men, or lying yes men

Jesus

 

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”

We have four children.  When our eldest was a teen, he was very troubled, angry, and difficult to live with.  When asking him to do anything it was struggle.  He was always honest in his dislike of any chore we would ask him to do, but he always did them, maybe because we gave him no other choice.

As a mom I was often frustrated by our eldest.  He did everything he could to make it very clear he didn’t care what he was being told to do, he just wanted to do what he wanted.  It was as if he was goading us to argue with him.  It wasn’t going to happen.  If he wanted us to yell at him like many of his friends parents did, yelling at their troubled sons of all they frustration and anger, that wasn’t going to happen either.

I often told mom friends of mine that I had a mouth full of blood from biting my tongue.  I knew at the heat of the moment if I really open my mouth and said what was on my mind, it would destroy my relationship with my son.  That was not what I wanted.

In the Gospel passage we don’t read that the Father, (God) yells at the son, (us).  It doesn’t even say what tone of voice the Father uses to address the son.  There is no indication that he was anger or frustrated with the son, from what we can gather the tone at best must have been neutral.

God does not fall into the trap of becoming part of the first son’s refusal.  He, God, just assumes the son will do it and the son does.

Now the second son is even more frustrating to deal with.  To get his Father off his back the second son says yes, but does not comply.  The second either is willing to do but forgot, fine that’s fair.  Or this boy lied from the started which would make for some heavy duty trust issue between Father and second son.  At least with the first son you knew where you stood, with the second it is all a guessing game.

So the question is: Do you want yes men who are truly lying, or troubled men who at least let you know where you stand and therefore be able to work on the relationship, me I want to know.

Why I love Pope Francis

Dear Pope Francis:

Thank you for bringing compassion, love and Christ-likeness to my beloved Catholic Church.  Thank you for being the type of Pope who does not want to live in the Papal Palace, but chooses a simple Roman apartment block.  Thank you for wanting to go out and walk among your people to get to know them, and what they truly need.  Thank you for washing the feet of troubled teen-agers.  Thank you for embracing that disfigured man.  Thank you.

Your actions are showing the whole world how to live as Christ asks us, thank you.  Thank you for shaking the Bishops, Cardinals, all the Clergy awake.  Thank you for demanding that they no longer live the letter of the law to the point where they loose sight of the people they serve.  They Serve!

Thank you Pope Francis for seeing us, your flock, as people who hurt and need healing.  As people lost who need to be guided home.  As people without hope and are struggling.  That we need a Catholic Church that will not just preach to us of our faults, believe us we know our faults, but one that wants us all back no matter who we are.  After all didn’t Jesus CHOOSE to be with the greatly hated of his time?

Pope Francis, thank you, for reminding the Clergy that if they keep acting like the Pharisees, all rules no compassion, there won’t be a Church to guide!

Thank you Pope Francis for loving Christ more than the role you have assumed.

No excuses

No Excess

Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber

Love this Daily Post question, and it all comes down to discernment.  I work with moms as a spiritual director, read here to learn more about what I do, but I digress; saying/blogging too much is messy when it is done out of fear.  There are many types of fear, let’s look at the two I have encountered most in my life: neediness and superiority.

When someone is blogging or explaining too much they are like a drowning person desperately splashing about trying to save themselves.  They have a great need to be heard, to be  taken seriously, so they overdo thinking that to bombard someone with words and thoughts will force that person to take them seriously.  Often the opposite happens, the talker/blogger says too much and it overwhelms or repulses the listener/reader leaving them with emotions and feelings they have just been given that are not theirs but still must be dealt with, almost like someone handing you the trash to take out; that is what the needy sharer is dong hoping you can take the emotional trash out for them because it is too difficult for them to do it.

Superiority may not look like fear but when someone just has to over explain or blog/speaks to you like you are an idiot being blessed by the profuse use of words, then you are reading/hearing from a fearful superior.  Like the needy blogger/speaker they have a desperate need to be heard and taken seriously, but the difference here is that unlike the needy sharer who feels you won’t take what s/he has to say seriously, the superior sharer feels s/he is imparting knowledge you couldn’t possible know, even when you explain that you do know/understand. They blatantly ignore you thinking they know best what you need, while the needy sharer is horrified that s/he told you something you already knew and can’t stop apologizing to you.

Think of Sheldon when you think of a superior sharer/blogger.  Think of Monica from the old Friends series for a needy sharer/blogger.