Spiritually blind

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

For three days, he was unable to see Acts 9:9

Saul sure has an encounter with Christ on the to road Damascus, knocks him right off his horse!  During my time as a mom, I have been knocked off my horse many a time.  Sometimes, like Saul, I am doing it to myself by how I perceive things or how I am reacting to things.  Like Saul, I may just have a certain experience of a situation that I angerly can not shake;  won’t shake.  I am emotionally and spiritually blind.  Or worst of all, I am just too tired from life to want to hear, see, be anymore.

How many times have we all said: “Well you opened my eyes!”  We aren’t physically blind, but emotionally/spiritually.

Emotional/Spiritual blindness has everything to do with the heart.   “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them..” Matthew 13:15  We can become so involved with the mundane aspects of life, the tedium of troubles,  soul-crushing worries that we no longer can hear God, see God or feel God’s presence.  Does all that life close our eyes does to wear us down? Do we stop hearing that soft, small whispered voice of God because of the cacophony of noise from gossip, negative talk, depressing news?  Or do we hear God but just ignore Him because His message is too hard to accept: that we are loved, that we have a purpose larger than the world, that we are made wonderfully?

It is clear that Saul, before he became Paul, saw no use for the Christians.  They were upsetting Saul’s well-planned world.  His blindness came from prejudice.  His was not going to see any of the good that the Christians were doing.  He was not going to acknowledge God’s power, Jesus’ sovereignty.

Like Saul, we do the same thing.  Is time for us to become Paul?

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We all know one

We all know one.  The person you try to avoid because they are an occasion of sin.

  • The spiritual bemoaner
  • The spiritual aggressive
  • The spiritual dismisser

How are we being called to deal with them?  In the same way, we are called to look at everything: with prayer and in a spirit of discernment.

If you are a mom with children in their 30’s, then you are very familiar with a parenting program called: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, otherwise known as STEP.  Now STEP isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it did have an excellent matrix created to help parents understand their child’s behaviour and how to deal with accordingly.  I wanted to use something for the faithful realm.

Every behaviour, whether from an adult or child, has a motive.

The spiritual bemoaner:  Here is someone for whom life just isn’t fair. They see everything as being targeted towards them.  It’s not that they lack empathy; it is that they feel no-one has shown them empathy. They may repeat a story where they felt slighted many times over.  Do not try and solve their feelings of being slighted; that is not the focus of this behaviour.  The focus is self-injustice.  They do not feel worthy. They may have a very low affect: meaning they always look as if they are about to cry.  Spiritually they.  This repeated story has enormous emotional energy for them.  The “slighter” is seen by our spiritual bemoaner as a person of immense authority, one the bemoaner must be associated with.  But for the bemoaner, the authority figure is more than merely human, they are super human. The authority figure is someone who is not allowed to have feelings, troubles, inadequacies of their own.  What the bemoaner is looking for is someone who can take all of the bemoaners painful feelings and make them go away.

How this person is an occasion for sin.

When dealing with a bemoaner we must be careful to not be drawn into the drama of their life.  They are trying unsuccessfully to create solutions without confronting the cause, without finding out why whatever happened, happened.  They look to us to be their saviour. We can not be.  So we must pray for their inner peace while dealing with them and after.

The spiritual aggressive  is someone who knows everything about everything, at least they is what they try and project.  They see themselves as experts on Church teachings, law, practice.  They have no patience for anyone who disagrees with them, or is seen as contrary to established norms.  It is their way or the highway.  Someone may be in full alignment with the Church, but because they are not doing as the spiritual aggressive does they are wrong and everyone will hear about it.  Often a spiritual aggressive hids a deep secret: their fear of being wrong.  Somewhere in their past they learned the only way to be seen as “good” was to be perfect, to know everything, to not be fooled by anything or anyone.  The spiritual aggressive is the bull in the china shop.

How this person is an occasion for sin.

Someone dealing with spiritual aggressiveness is going to have to keep clear of any heated discussion or topic.  Often spiritual aggressive will bring them up so that they can feel significant and important.  It is important that you remember they are trying to make themselves look good, feel better, not in your eyes, but their own.   They can be thought of as modern  Pharisees.  It’s all about the show, not the belief.

The spiritual dismisser:  This person can’t wait until everyone stops sharing their petty little lives and just listen to them: the spiritual dismisser.  It is often hard to tell if the dismisser is truly so arrogant that they don’t care about others, or that they are not aware how insensitive they are being.  Those who are dismissive do not see the relationship that is profoundly in the Greatest Commandment: Love God, neighbour, self.   They relate to the God and self part of the relationship, everyone is just an extra.  They may have been pampered by others.  Pampered to avoid any temper tantrums, arguments, or general, prolonged unpleasantness.  Dismissers use their lack of empathy as a weapon, keeping people away.

How this person is an occasion for sin.

Spiritual dismissers can be charming, even likeable.  It does not mean that their actions will not one day cause you to snap at them, it is that we must be on guard against.  We often leave confronting dismissers until the last moment because we truly hope they are better than they are acting, but this causes tempers to build.

Be upfront with them in gentleness and truth.  Speak to them about how you are feeling about dismissed.  Do not blame, or accuse, just state facts clarly and simply; because often they do not know how they are coming across.

 

 

 

It is a great time for parents of faith everywhere.

When I was in highschool, (I went to a Catholic all girls High school), there was a nun who taught human Catholic sexuality.  She taught us that as women we may be called to marriage and children.  For her marriage and child raising was an opportunity for parents to raise saints, but also to become saints.

Yesterday Pope Francis announced plans to canonize St. Therese of Lisieux’s parents during the family synod and that is fantastic for parents. It is a great time for parents of faith everywhere.  This action truly supports parents in our Baptismal role of Priest, Prophet and Queen. It gives us hope that as faithful parents our guidance of our children, our being their role model, our lives lived as 2Tim 1:7 tells us how we should and must be lived filled with the Spirit of God [who] does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline that by doing all that we become the parents God calls us to be.  But we do not do this without the help of God and the tools he has given us.

With the example of  Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin we have confidence to raise saintly children, but how do you do that?

Become your Baptismal role of Priest, Prophet and Queen for your children, your family, your community.  When I was a young woman, before I was married and a mother, I was a very fearful person.  After I became a mom I found great strength, strength I never thought I would have, and it was because God had given me that strength because I was a mother.  Know that your children are crying out for leadership.  Those times when they say: “I hate you!  You  are the worst mom in the world!” it may hurt for the moment but know that is being said because you have hit a nerve in the child that suddenly they are not in charge, and they say whatever they hope will make you back down and let them have control.  Remember God put you in control.

Staying in control means you are mindful of a child’s development.  Each stages of your child’s development has its own challenges. Toddlers and Teens are very similar, both have fastly developing brains awash with hormones.  They can not think logically or rationally, that is where you must step in and be the face, voice and stand of reason and logic.  Always assume the best with your children and work as a parent from that position because that will help you focus on the best not the worst.

Creating children of moral strength is by responsibility.  Knowing that every child can do something significant the more connected to the world they will feel and this will give them a better of understanding of how much they are needed by God, their community, life.  Give a child a chore they can do.  Have school age children pick a chore, teens give them a chore that makes them feel significant and helpful.  Connection with the world is connection with God and a how they find their own love of themselves as God loves them.

Continue the teachings of Godly connection and Godly self-love, which is what parenting truly is, and why we are Prophet: First Teacher, by: Allowing them to be as God calls them to be.  As our children grew we gave them every opportunity to view all aspects of the world and their talent.  We worked as a family for Habitat for Humanity, as they grew older they helped teach CCD classes, were Lectors, altar servers.   We helped them explore their talents exposing them to music lessons, acting, sports.

Help them have a sense of independence.  Each stage of a child’s development gives them an opportunity for independence.  A young child is able to pick their own outfit from a variety of approved choices. Allow a teen to go places and be responsible for their own action.  We must build up to independence with each small step, only when there has been a misstep do we step in, and become Queen: Guardian.  When our eldest was an older teen, almost 18, he did something that got him arrested.  It was the hardest thing to do to watch him go to jail, do probation and apply to all the conditions, it was the most important thing to do: Keep his feet to the fire so that he would come around to be a better man.  This my husband and I did with great love, without accusations, without belittling.  We tried to act as Jesus would have acted with our son.  We must remember that when we deal with the situations we are not condemning our children as people of God, but we condemn their actions, hold them responsible and help them hold themselves responsible.

As a note: Our son is now 29 years old, working for a major company as their chief IT person overseeing interns, and a group of employees.

Be authentic.  If we wish to raise saintly people, we must be authentic.  We must live our faith, live as we believe God is calling us. We must show our children who a servant of God is and how they act.  The adage of don’t do as you see but as I say will not create morally strong people.

Being authentic will help us speak to our children as Jesus would: Speak in love, peace and justice. Speaking in love means we speak the truth to our children, our family, our community.  We must speak in peace, not to nag because that disheartens person and makes them not want to do as we ask.  Speaking in justice means we don’t speak in could/should/would, but also working in the strength of straight forwardness.  Jesus did not just think of what he had to preach but spoke it out loud.  But honest and let people know what you are thinking, feeling and hoping to understand; this is also speaking in love, in peace, in justice.   Know that your words have the power to heal, to create, to destroy.

Finally, take time to renew each relationship in your life with special, specific, and significant time alone.   Every person in your life: God, children, spouse, friends and self.

Some resources:

  • Raising Saints: A place of retreat for this mother of seven to speak on the joys and challenges of life for a Catholic family immersed in American culture.
  • Raising {& Teaching} Little Saints: A blog about family life, home educating, and faith!
  • Family & Honor Inc.: Providing and promoting a family-centered Catholic approach to chastity education
  • Raise Happy Children…Raise Them Saints! Paperback – October 6, 2002 by Mary Ann Budnik

Speak to us of children

Lena Levon of Ms Elena Levon Traveling.com came to visit, so I stopped by her blog.  I found on one of her recent posts the meditation of Children written by Kahlil Gibran.

It is my favourite meditation of his and I thought I would share it with you all:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, not tarries with yesterday. “

Kahlil Gibran
from the book : The Prophet

God’s Miracles Are New Everyday

What a great morning! This morning I am at Lansing Community College‘s, (LCC), library to work. I arrive at LCC a half an hour before the library opens so I am sitting here in the lobby waiting. I love sitting here joining all the others waiting for the opening. Here I am listening to a group of geeky guys playing a Mystic Knights of Ka’Ah-ish game, a small group of girls talking animatedly about their lives-all young adult gravitas, a “mature” returning student working on his laptop. I love all the energy, of all that hope, of all the expectant joy, and excitement.

It amazes me that we can get more people to rally around animal rights than our own children.

I know a lovely woman who as a young aunt took in her sister’s children, here is her story:

“I lost a 2 1/2 year old nephew to shaking syndrome. This poor baby didn’t stand a chance; two parents who NEVER should have had children (and one of them was my younger sister)!  I will continue to be a voice for these voiceless victims until the day I die!”  People have asked her how she would stop child abuse her reply is:  “By continuing to speak up for the rights of children! It amazes me that we can get more people to rally around animal rights than our own children. Things have changed since I lost my nephew but it is a long and slow process. The key is to never give up!”

What you can also do is stand up for a child who may be being abused.  You can call Child Protective Services anonymously.  There are organizations you can join if you wish to be active in the solution; in Lansing, Family Growth Center is always looking for volunteers.  I know of Family Growth Center from personal experience.  I both volunteered and had our eldest children in programs there, that was about 25 years ago.  Family Growth, affectionately called FG, is a very nurturing place for both mom and child.

Here is what they say about themselves from their website:

Family Growth Center (FGC) provides free drop-in respite childcare to families in crisis and parents who need a “stress” break. Childcare is provided by a highly skilled and compassionate staff in a licensed facility.  The FGC provides quality care for children from 6 weeks old through age 5.

During days of operation, hours are 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM/ 1:30 PM – 4:00 PM for both locations.

During the School Months (September – May),
the Family Growth Center is open on the following days:

Monday: University United Methodist Church,  1120 S Harrison Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823

Tuesday – Thursday: Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church,
549 E. Mt. Hope, Lansing, MI 48910

During the Summer Months (June, July & August),
the Family Growth Center is open on the following days:

Monday: University United Methodist Church, 1120 S Harrison Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823

Tuesday – Thursday: Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church

549 E. Mt. Hope, Lansing, MI 48910

Other aspects of the Family Growth Center
include the following:

        • FGC operates a small food, toy and clothing bank for FGC families in need.
       

• FGC helps connect families to other community resources in support of 

         employment, housing, health, and legal needs.

Please call (517) 371-1347, for more information. 

You can make a difference by volunteering just a few hours
a week to the Family Growth Center.

You can also help in the following ways:

        • You can provide your assistance by adopting a family at special times of the
year or donating toys or games for the holidays—making holiday dreams come
true for needy children and their families.

        • You can choose to help lower our costs by donating much needed
office supplies or equipment.

        • You can also help by giving generously through a financial donation
to the Family Growth Center.

For more information on this and other Child Abuse Prevention Services programs, contact Kathy Kelly, CAPS program director, at (517) 484-8444 or email to kathykelly@childandfamily.org.

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