Sometimes you have to put the anchor in the water.

Hope
Hope

From my Facebook time line this morning, written by a mom of teens: When do the growing pains of your children stop hurting and stressing you?”

My response to her was: Sweetheart. I am with you. Trust. Trust in your mothering instinct. Trust in your gut. Trust in love and grace. Trust in hope. Trust in the strength of your mothering. Trust in the larger positive picture. Trust that you know when to reach out, when to hold back, when to lovingly confront.

As with all things God connects us one to the other.  Earlier this week there was an incident with our eldest twinnie, and the wisdom of her sister gave me more insight into parenting.  It was an “Aha” moment, a God inspired comment from someone that is directed to you, God speaking directly to you: She said it was time to put the anchor into the water.   How apt that image is.

The anchor became a key Christian symbol during the period of Roman persecution. As Michael Card observes in his recent album, Soul Anchor: “The first century symbol wasn’t the cross; it was the anchor. If I’m a first century Christian and I’m hiding in the catacombs and three of my best friends have just been thrown to the lions or burned at the stake, or crucified and set ablaze as torches at one of [Emperor] Nero’s garden parties, the symbol that most encourages me in my faith is the anchor. When I see it, I’m reminded that Jesus is my anchor.”  ~Christian History

Jesus calmed the seas, Peter tries to walk on the water to Jesus, Jesus tells the apostles to haul in their nets when they were sure they weren’t going to get any fish; how much like parenting situations these are.  My friend has teens, but this is just as fitting for any mother of any age child.  We often find ourselves in rocky, turbulent waters of life.

We try to have faith to walk out in trust onto those churning waters of troubled parenting waters.  We try to stay strong, to keep our eyes on the parenting prize: having children who are what God calls them to be., but there is always that rogue wave that knocks us off our stride.  we begin to sink, and find Jesus’ firm, steady hand reaching out to us.

He asks us why we have little faith?  Faith in our own instincts as mothers, faith in trusting God.  Faith in our judgement that when and what resources we need we will get.

Jesus doesn’t chide us for our mistakes, fears, doubts, he just asks us to cast out our net again, to try again, to keep going, keep trying. He knows that positive emotional movement forward is the best way to help turn everything around.

We are the anchors in our children’s lives.  We are the secure link between the fear they have of becoming adults and the roaring need they have to be adults.  We need to be stable, secure, strong and calm in the face of their uncertainty about life, who they are and how to live life.

Jesus is our anchor, our strong link, so we may be all our children need.

Always look to the big picture, the pain will lessen as long as we are anchors, anchored to Christ.

Here is a post of a mom dealing with the same thing. Elephant dedicated to mindful life.

Today let’s pray for a positive big picture of our lives.

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Sweetheart, fellow mom, you are not alone

Righteous Cause Monday.

10479750_770483182974897_5370651985988896174_nI found this on my Facebook feed about a young mom who wanted to quit being a mom, a blog post from the website “Finding Joy”.

Sweetheart, fellow mom, you are not alone, we, moms of older children, feel your pain, understand your pain, had lived your pain, and survived/thrived and grown as women and people in ways that not being a mom would have given us.  We, moms of older children, know how mothering can feel like you are standing in the tunnel and you see NO LIGHT at the end.  The end is near, just hang in there.

We, moms of older children remember those early days.  It is so easy to be lost in the endless late nights of breastfeeding infants, not getting the sleep you need, constant nappy changes, and laundry that feels like Mount Everest.  It takes a huge toll on you, after a while all that exhaustion can make you feel person-less. Hang in there my dear heart. Please ask for help. Please ask for friends/family to give you a break so you can recharge, get much needed rest.

We, mom who have been there, love you, want you to hold on.  We understand the struggle of toddlers and young children as the role of hormones and self discovery starts to create conflict between you and that lovely little baby you were just beginning to understand.  It feels as if you are starting over, in a way you are, hang in there.  Find support for those times, joining with other moms in the same struggle can give you much needed support and wisdom, creating life long friendships.  There is a reason TV shows like Super Nanny or American Nanny are popular, there is no manual we receive at our babies birth that explain how to be a parent. There are resources to help you become the mom you want to be.  But please I beg you don’t fall into the perfection trap; we, no matter how much we want to, we will never create prefect children, prefect home, perfect life.  We can only create the best life, a better life.

As your children become school aged you have finally a feeling of confidence much earned by all you have learned, survived, created that works for your children, your family.  During this time you may find your child needs help with learning or being, but you now have strength to deal with it.  You will have good friends, good support, more understanding of yourself, your child, your world.

Please know that tweens and teens are again like toddlers.  Again you will face children who want fierce independence, please do not lose heart if things get rough, they will get better as your children mature.
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 “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain

Some things very few will tell you.  There will be great days, months, years, things will be wonderful.994950_10152013871048352_209180184_n  Keep those days in your heart.   They will come in handy when things get touch, they will help you staying in love with mothering, your family, your spouse, at moments when it looks like you are in that early tunnel again.  People will “advice” you on how to raise your children, trust your heart.  As I often say, my mouth is bloody because I was biting my tongue to keep from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, trust your knowledge of your children to know how to treat difficult times.  There will be times when you will make mistakes, where you feel like just waking up will be wrong; but know love and forgiveness will work wonders.

Know my dear fellow young mom that you are loved and supported.  here are moms all over the world thinking good thoughts for you, saying prayers, sending blessings; we are all in the same boat and want to be a help if you need it.

Prayers for you.

Blessings

First FYI Wednesday Answers: Marisa’s children and prayer question.

Vicky (19) relating her first remembrance of God, about age three:

I remember thinking that He would keep all the babies in a pocket next to his heart and he would hand pick the parent of each child. I believed that he would sit on his throne in heaven looking down on everyone and that you had to ask him to be able to get a gift or to do something, in sense believed him to be my father. I remember not being scared of him because I know he loved(s) and cared(s) for me. Also not being as curious of him as I was when I was a  young teenager. He made the world make sense for me.

I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such questions about motherhood and spirituality, children’s  spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; I have received four: Thank you so much, a great start.

From Marisa, she asks: How do you encourage children to pray when they don’t believe it works? Thank you!

Thank you, Marisa.  Since I am no sure the ages of the children it might be helpful to review their spiritual development.

The “global” stage – Infant to seven zzzzzz
  • Does not differences between religious faiths
  • Can appreciate religious symbols and rituals but,
  • Don’t connect to God
The “concrete” stage – Eight to 12 zzzzzz
  • Still very grounded in the concrete thought
  • Beginning to develop a greater sense of spiritual identity based on:
    • personal experience
    • religious practice
  • Rituals effective in helping children understand religious themes.
The “personal connection” stage – 13 -18 zzzzzz
  • A feeling of personal closeness to God
  • Budding actual relationship
  • God becomes a confidante

Reference: David Elkind, Ph.D., professor of child study at Tufts University

Now how can moms help their children develop a relationship with God?

Parents with children ages birth to 5
  • Participate as a family in rituals and practices that engage the five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Adapt your religious and spiritual practices to match your child’s developmental abilities. Children this age may only be able to sit 10-15 minutes (or less) at one time. Offer a quiet activity or book to keep your child engaged.
  • Encourage your child to talk about her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts, asking questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what she says.
Parents with children ages 6 to 9
  • Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes.
  • Make conversations about spiritual matters a part of your family life.
  • Spend time regularly with other parents and families who share your spiritual beliefs, practices, and priorities.
Parents with children ages 10 to 15
  • Encourage your child to take part in positive peer groups that reinforce and nurture his spiritual commitments.
  • Talk with other parents (including parents of older teens) about your family’s experiences with religious and spiritual commitments.
  • Keep talking with and listening to your child, even if she says things about religion or spirituality that worry or disappoint you.
Parents with children ages 16 to 18
  • Model spiritual beliefs and practices that are important to you. At this point in parenting, actions often speak louder than words.
  • It’s okay for your teen to seek out adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Exposure to different cultures and belief systems can help him evaluate and define his own

Note for moms of teens: Be open to following your teenager’s lead if she/he introduces you to spiritual passions and commitments that are important to her/him, but are different from yours. If she/he moves in directions that cause you concern, share your perspective and listen to what she/he has to say.

Now I would ask what has happened, a divorce or death of a significant person in the children’s life; because this can break the bond of trust that is developing.  It is important to talk with the children to help them process what has happen.  Children will by nature think that they have somehow created the situation, helping them process out what happen and how they were not responsible can help rebuild a relationship with God.

You might want to get the Prove It book series by Amy Welborn.  Amy Welborn is an American Roman Catholic writer and activist, as well as a public speaker. Formerly, she was a theology teacher at a Catholic high school in Lakeland Florida and served as a parish Director of Religious Education; here is her website

Marisa, I hope this helps.

Reference: Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence at spiritualdevelopmentcenter.org.

 

Next answer to question 2:  When did Jesus knew.

Video: I’m a spiritual director

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This the first video for Spiritual Lives Of Women.  I am using these animations to bring an other aspect to the ministry.  It is my hope that I can begin to broadcast an every Wednesday a Q &  A video.

This is extremely important. He had to learn! He isn’t doubting Thomas. He is learning Thomas.

Project 7 3 2014 smAn addendum to Thomas.

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All day I have been dealing with these thoughts rolling around in my head; so I thought I would let them out.

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Earlier I wrote about Thomas and comparing his experience with those of our children learning to navigate the world. In that comparison I used the words “quell fear”; those are the words that have been rolling around in my head, the words I feel complied to expand upon.

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You see Thomas wasn’t with the others when Jesus first showed himself and I don’t think it was doubt he was expressing but fear.

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Doubt for me always held a bit of a lie in it. Because to doubt you have to mistrust the thing or person and I can’t see Thomas, one of the Apostles, mistrusting Jesus. Or having misgivings, or apprehension, or being suspicious; all synonyms of doubt.

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I feel he was more afraid that Jesus wasn’t what he thought he knew he was; why else would Jesus say: “Peace be with you?”

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Jesus knew, as we learn the longer we parent, that disciples, and children, fear the new the different. But each of us, like Thomas must explore, learn and discover that new, that different, this life for ourselves.
That is what I think the Gospel’s focus is on; not the fact that Thomas doubted, but that unlike all the other disciples, and ourselves, he was not there first hand, he had to learn about what happened.

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That is extremely important. He had to learn! He isn’t doubting Thomas. He is learning Thomas.

Thomas isn’t doubting, he is doing what we all must do

Mommy Mantra July 3, 2014: Feast of Saint Thomas It would be just too easy to write on doubt, but today I feel called to write about Jesus’ response: “Peace be with you.”

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Oh Lord, do I wish I could react to “surprising” parenting situations like that! In all the parenting classes I have taken, and taught, over the years the basic concept is the same: gentleness rules out over an overly emotional response.

When I think about Thomas and Jesus’ interaction, Thomas was demanding to be shown like our toddlers and teens do. Thomas needed to investigate, learn for himself just like our school aged children and young adult children do.
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Jesus doesn’t stand there doing the frustrated parent eye roll; he invites Thomas to quell his fears. When our toddlers run and hide behind us and venture out again, they are using us as a touchstone to help quell their fear of the big bad world. A world they don’t have the experience to understand. When our school aged children want to master a new skill they look to us for support to quell their fear of failure.
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When our teens do things that try a mother’s heart, they are like they were as toddlers, reaching out from between the boundaries of behind our knees to explore a world they feel they have mastered but truly haven’t. They need us more than ever to quell their fears.
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It’s too easy to say Thomas was doubting. Thomas is doing what we all must do with our faith: explore, question, investigate, understand for ourselves. Today let’s prayer to support each other as we see Thomas in ourselves and our children. Let’s strive to say to ourselves and our children: “Peace be with you”, and to hear Jesus saying it to us.

Scriptural Reflection In Pictures “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

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Amos and Jesus

smile to hideMommy Mantra July 1, 2014: Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12, Matthew 8: 23-27

For those of us with older children, tweens, emerging adults, these readings can speak volumes. The Prophet Amos is coming down hard on Israel. Jesus is in the boat asleep when a huge storm threatens to swamp it.

The two readings seem to have nothing in common with each other. Amos is dealing with an unruly Israel who think the rules don’t apply to them. Jesus is in control of a situation that terrifies his disciples.

Sounds very much like many parenting situations I have been in.

I am often like Amos reminding the children that they are loved but the rules are the rules. And my husband is more like Jesus taking control of a situation that could/did/have potential to get out of hand, and bringing it around. It’s the partnership of parenting styles that works.

Now we are imperfect beings dealing with things imperfectly, but the readings do speak to parents. What they are saying is we must set boundaries, give our children responsibilities, teach them the way they should go, but be prepared to see them do the opposite sometimes. Like Amos we got to lay the law down, repeatedly, but let them know they are loved and everything is a teaching moment, character builder.

But some parenting situations are a little bigger than undone chores. These are situations that try parent’s soul.

That is when a cool head must prevail. As Jesus did we can not let panic take over. If it does we are sunk.

That is when a grasp of the bigger picture is needed. Jesus knew what was, he had no fear because he knew what he could control. We are not Divine, but in every situation there are things we know we can control.

That’s when you call on the biggest guns ya’ got on hand: prayer.

I want to take a moment and talk about prayer and difficult situations.

As I have said in the past we are parents of four ranging in age from late twenties to late teens, and we have what seems to be two sets of kids: the ones that appear easy to raise, and our challenge children. It’s the challenge children that dropped us to our knees. We prayed for guidance. We prayed for courage. We prayed for wisdom. We prayed for the right words to say.

Sometimes it looked like God wasn’t listening and frankly that feeling sucks. But then something would happen that broken the situation open.

Parenting is both art and “science”, but what it truly is is faith. Faith in your calling. Faith in your spouse and helpmate, faith in God

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

what motherhood is like

We are going to a birthday party for our Godson; it will be his first, and an exciting time for family and friends. It is a time for us to rejoice in this little boy’s life, looking back at all the milestones, not just the little boy’s but the parents as well; and with today being the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary it will be interesting for his mom to view this first year through Mary’s own experience.

Susan Netter wrote in her Facebook posting yesterday of Mary “pondering all these things in her heart”, and how parenting is hard, and we as “modern moms” ponder many things in our hearts. The Gospel this morning certainly reveals that Mary was going through experiences that we have go through or will with our own children. We see a teen age Jesus acting as teen age children do: exploring and expressing his own understanding of who he was becoming. And as older moms know and have experienced that process can be difficult, fear riddled and angering, the beginning of the letting process that is nature but not always liked by moms: seeing our children grow up, form their own response to God’s calling, and leaving the nest.

Did Mary, as she was searching for Jesus, look back on her life raising Jesus and see his milestones from infant to then and did she wonder if those memories would be her last? Did she vacillate between anger at Jesus being gone to her own doubts and worries to hope that Jesus is OK?

When Mary and Joseph stood at the Temple door looking in I don’t think they knew what as going on. It’s clear from the Gospel they didn’t, Jesus had to tell them why he was there and what he was doing. For our Godson the future is open, and the path being made. Mom and Dad are helping to forge that path, but it is our Godson who will be walking it. Like Mary and Joseph each decision whether conscientiously made or not helped shape Jesus’ journey but not the only influence, just as is true for our own children. And just as true of Mary and Joseph prayer, hope, and thoughtful guidance will be the best thing for our children

Responsorial Psalm June 27, 2014

smile to hideI have a friend who posts wonderful posts on Facebook that are filed with gentle wisdom about love, parenting and life. Today she posted the following which just rang in my heart as a prefect modern understanding of today’s readings but most specifically the Responsorial Psalm:

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 10

Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

Her posting:

Pretending that painful or negative feelings do not exist doesn’t keep relationships more intimate. It can even create inner distance when I act as if the intimate relationship is not strong enough to hold pain, anger or hate. Powerful feelings can be frightening, but denying their presence keeps me from deeper layers of self. When my intimate relationships are able to hold the powerful, paradoxical feelings of love and hate, anger and forgiveness, something deep within me can relax and let go. If they are not able to do this, I need to withdraw from the relationship in order to be myself.

I can hold angst.

In this era of self-understanding and conscious efforts at parenting, we learn we should not come down to our children’s level. That is, we should not be as hateful toward them as they are to us. Yet, if we seal ourselves off they are cheated and burdened by the illusion that anger and hatred are personally inappropriate. Therapists are like parents. When the therapist comes down to their level, both grow from it when the generation gap is reestablished.