Friday, June 3, 2016

My Alaskan Atrium

As our plane flew over the mountains and glaciers, over the tree lined coast, I pinched myself to make sure it was all real. Southeast Alaska exists.



And as we made our way off our plane, after a day long trip across the country with our large family, there were hugs from our larger Alaskan family waiting for us as at the end of the airport terminal walkway.

Hugs from an expectant mother. Hugs from mothers with new babies in their arms. Hugs from a bride and groom to be. Hugs from a new happily married bride. Hugs from a new grandma and a seasoned one. Hugs from a babysitter and friend who is more like a sister. Hugs from a deacon.

Hugs from lots of littles...with taller bodies, more filled out faces, larger feet from the last time we saw them.



I wept tears of joy and GREAT relief, that they were all there.

They were all real.

He really does have the eternal friendship thing down.


In Juneau.. in my Southeast Alaska Atrium... I did the very big work of transitioning from a working mother in the Coast Guard to a full time stay at home mom of three girls under the age of four. I grew into my motherhood in Juneau. I had help. Help from Him in bucket fulls of Juneau grace and in deep abiding friendships.

The friends in my life were more than just women....they were catechists. They helped me grow closer to God...all of us mothers together in an Alaskan Atrium. Sharing the work. Sharing the Bread of Life.



We were each doing our own work. We learned to respect each others work. To offer smiles and hugs and coffee creamer. My love for Juneau is rooted in a deep comfort in knowing that in our Alaskan Atrium...we were each on our own journeys and yet doing our work beside each other. One mother was doing the work of having twin sons. Another raising teenage girls. One friend doing the work of being married and away from family and another doing the work of watching a son and then a daughter...and then another daughter... marry.

And as I witnessed each mother bravely go about learning the work in front of them...their virtue, their hearts, their beautiful devotion... helped me with my own work.



So we had our trip. We had our two week journey back.

 I sat on the coastline with her dramatic tides.



We went to a wedding at the Shrine of St Therese to watch a bride and groom sing to each other.



And then we danced with that bride and groom.


We celebrated new baby girls.




And watched one baby born in Juneau learn about her birthplace...



And we needed the sunstars...




And the trees...



We needed to feel that glacier sized hug from our Father...



We needed to eat oysters in Anchorage with family made through the Sacrament of Baptism.



And I come back to sunny Virginia...and I have a great peace. I knew I needed this trip to my Alaskan Atrium, but I didn't realize how healing it would be. See, I thought this whole time I was "missing" Alaska but what I was really wrestling with...and as I write I feel hot tears in my eyes...I was really wrestling with the fears of being unwanted or forgotten by my Alaskan family. I wasn't missing...I was afraid.

And God shouted to me on this trip:



BE NOT AFRAID STEPHANIE!




I think the move from Alaska was so hard because I thought I was ripping up roots...but I see now that they were strong holy spiritual roots that don't get ripped up...ever. As soon as I hugged my friend Rebekah off the plane, I understood that goodbye last July...was not forever. I just didn't know that then. And I know it now.

So...I did still cry when I hugged my friends as the trip ended...as my May Atrium session ended...but it wasn't a hard suffocating cry. It was more joyful and sweet....and there was no fear.

And so TRUST TRUST TRUST.


I LOVE YOU!

Also....this was only a sweeping recap...I have more to write...it is in my head but will hopefully be posted soon. xxoo

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Making Home Life Attractive: Sharing Wisdom Part One

I found a gem of a book at Good Will with a copyright of 1909.

The Young Folks Treasury Volume 7: Ideal Home Life

I feel guilty NOT sharing this writing with you, so I will today! From the essay The Home: Hints of Happiness by Frank A. De Puy I would like to share the following because I find it is something I am CONSTANTLY working on.







Be Considerate

No one would think of speaking harshly to a friend or a guest. Surely the members of our own families are entitled to as much consideration as our friends or guests. Yet how many times do we find fault in the home circle for little things that we would hardly notice elsewhere!

It is the little things that make or mar the home life.






Kind words and gentle acts make the happy home.







Sympathy, help, and comfort should not be withheld from one's companions until illness or trouble has overtaken them.







Nothing is worse in the family circle than nagging. There will be no nagging where each one in the family is considerate of the feelings of others. Rough and hasty words have no place in the happy home. If we are considerate of those around us, no such words will be heard in our families.







See! You are MOST welcome. I knew you would love these words, as I have.

God Bless You!
xxoo

Monday, May 2, 2016

Refuse to Be a Spectator

Hello! Dusting off the cobwebs here I bit. April was a tremendously busy month for my family. There was a wedding, a new baby and sadly, the passing of my husband's beloved uncle.

There was so much LIFE and celebrating. Celebrating the union of a couple. Celebrating the birth of a nephew. Celebrating the life of a great man.

These momentous occasions have so much background work that make things happen just so. The family member who can work the sound for the wedding. The pediatrician on call for the littlest ones. The loving members of a parish community who bring by cucumber sandwiches for funeral receptions. Everyone knows what to do.



Everyday, however, there are small slightly unexpected occasions that require quick and creative action. As a mother to littles, I can attest to this.


On such occasions, I may not always speak out my needs but I beg for the creative forces around me to come to my rescue.

Give us some examples Stephanie!

Ok!


A few years ago I was traveling very pregnant with my son (when my third daughter was only a toddler) and I was making a trip to see my father after he had open heart surgery.....from Alaska. I FOR SURE have written about this somewhere before, but it is worth repeating.

 I remember taking the early morning shuttle from the hotel to catch my flight out of Seattle and I just was up to my eyeballs in luggage and a car seat and stroller...and BELLY. There was a pilot and his wife, a flight attendant, on the same shuttle with me. As I was juggling toddler with belly and load out of the shuttle, they came over to me and said, "We are going to take these things to where you are checking in!"

They didn't ask if I needed help. I would probably would have felt GUILTY for needing it and would have smiled and said unconvincingly "oh I got this!"

I guess they just refused to be spectators and just knew the obvious way to help me. I remember that they did ask me how I thought I was going to manage it all and I remember smiling and saying, "I prayed God would send me people like you."


I LOVE doers. I love people who see a need and fill it. I love when those people serve that need with joy. I love when they keep that deed to themselves and don't need to shout from the roof top what they did. I love the humble servant and I want to BE ONE.

Going back to another plane ride (is there a pattern here?) I recall a young mommy with a very fussy baby and....being that it was most likely a very long cross country flight...she was doing everything in her power to calm the little babe. He had some lungs. Poor fella...we all feel that way inside we just control it a little better. So there was a middle aged Indian elderly woman sitting behind her who after a while simply tapped the young mom and said, "Could I try?"

The young mom was so desperate and so very trusting in that moment that the little one went to this woman who was able to hush the baby to sleep. I theorized if this particular woman was some sort of baby whisperer but I tend to lean toward the utter exhaustion that must have finally one in sending the babe to the land of Nod.

It is ok to read a book and watch you i-pad...it IS! However, I beg of you if you find yourself spectating and judging...SNAP OUT OF IT and see if you can be part of the solution! Come to find out the lady with the magic touch was also a grandmother to a brood of children. She had a skill and she knew where she could help!

See if you can help!



My girls know my favorite words in the world (besides "I love you") are "How can I help?"

My heart sings when they decide to say those things when they see me in the kitchen.

Yet....even better...someday I pray...will be the daughter who walks in the kitchen and already KNOWS HOW to help, without asking.

Janet brings the garbage can to the garage when it is empty at the end of the driveway, she just knows that is where it goes and she brings it up. You find out about this deed when your husband gets home and says, "Thanks hon for bringing the trash can up."  You are perplexed...but then...you don't have spectators for friends, you have doers.

It takes energy. It takes creativity. It takes action.


This is more than random acts of kindness...this is more like, being aware of the needs of people around you, recognizing those needs and being part of the solution!

People feel so loved when we can anticipate their needs. Wine for a wedding? Loaves and fishes? It is so very like Our Lord to DO.

Please comment below. I would love to hear more examples of how someone has helped you recently and rose to the occassion!

God Bless!
xxoo