Monday, October 30, 2017

This Joyful Home Bit

I absolutely love that peak season is right around the corner. I act like I am the only person in the world who really loves fall. Surely no one can love it as much as I do?



I sound spoiled don't I?

Well, did I tell you that I actually am super spoiled because by the grace of God the Level One Atrium at our parish is up and running and really just doing what it does so beautifully and that is...provide a peaceful and holy space to sit and wonder about the Good Shepherd with children?



YES. Oh it is just awesome seeing this work in action.

However..

Did I also tell you that I wanted so bad to bring an atrium to our parish for two years only to realize it is my own home that is the atrium? My own home is the prepared environment that points to the Church? My own home can be the "peaceful and holy space to sit and wonder about the Good Shepherd with children!"



And so that has been on my mind much lately...what a Joyful home looks like.

I think a joyful home starts with humble beginnings. Mustard seed moments. A proper ordering of the day with intentional time to wonder.

I think a joyful home starts with a surrendering.



There is this rumbling that is happening, and I dare say, an awakening among His people, and I think we truly find that it is in the hidden and humble things that our world will be sanctified. To know the proper order of things in our own lives and to surrender to that order, namely to surrender to the vocation, will defeat Satan every time.



What if...what if we think about that pride of the angel Lucifer...what if we think about him being too great and full of himself to obey, to KNOW and surrender to the proper order of things.

Can we mamas be the ones to embrace this order? You have your pride World.  I will bend my knee. You have your pride Crowd. I will stay hidden. You have your pride Satan. I will be content with my pecking order.

And our anthem is:

'Tis a Gift to be Simple
'Tis a Gift to be Free
'Tis a Gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in a place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true Simplicity is gained
To Bow, to Bend, we shant be ashamed.
To Turn, to Turn, it will be our delight.
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.




What is going on?

Oh I will tell you.

I receive texts like this from my dear friend Jennifer in Wisconsin: "Happy Friday! We had a rainy day today and read a lot along with much free play, legos, and cross stitch. I wanted to share how much I have been enjoying my kids and how blessed I feel to spend all day with them! What an honor it is that He led us to this work!"

Boom. Take that Feminist agenda, take that you monster ever growing State. Jennifer's little stay at home day is a small pebble that can take YOU down.



My friend Lindy and I talked about this for an hour last week. This being...um...OUR LIFE'S WORK! Lindy in Anchorage, Alaska. Hidden. Raising two small boys eighteen months apart. Oh she is in it, yes, this good good work.

We talked about wanting to do things well. I want to do six well. She wants to do two well. What does well look like we asked? I told her I bet it includes making sure everyone's nails are clipped.

The world that wants to destroy the holy space of the home smirks, "I'm too busy routing memos and doing grant work and hashtagging cool things to stoop to caring for children. Clipping toenails is beneath me!"

I say: Caring for children is not beneath me.




In fact, I want to do it my whole life. I do.

My four month old woke up in my bed this morning with a diaper that was wet all the way up her back. I thought...yes, I did want to change those sheets again! How lovely that she reminded me!

No...no I'm not quite that joyful yet!

But I did see my Pearl's beaming smile and I thought, "Let's do a quick warm bath to make sure you really get all cleaned up from this rather messy morning."

I could have went with a quick baby wipe "wipe down" but I wasn't in a rush, and the morning was young, and I HAD tackled the kitchen before bed...so...let's do this WELL.

Oh she LOVED it. Our tub had a nice huge pump bottle of generic baby wash all ready and I scrubbed in all those great skin folds and she sucked on her fist. I had fresh towels folded on my vanity for the occasion and clean clothes to put her in. She happily went into her buzzy chair so she could watch me finish up breakfast.

I can be proud of that. I did something well. I have a happy, clean baby. My baby is happy!



Up until now...nobody knew that she was happy! Maybe the other kiddos in my home saw that our Pearl had a bath, but that wasn't profound to them. I didn't post it all over Facebook, #motherhood, #lovethemwhiletheirlittle, #welovebathtime. I didn't tell my husband, he doesn't really think about those things. He doesn't think about those things because I DO.

I have a point here somewhere and it is this. I think what I want to tell myself and Lindy and the other mommies is that...how well we do the little things in our home matters very much.

I have a Biblical proof.

Where?

Read about the first thirty years of Christ's life.

And you are like...we don't know much about his childhood!




Ha! There it is! The Bibilical proof of how important our work is!  Romana Guardini would suggest that, it is in the very fact that we don't know what the Holy Family's life was like that makes it so very sacred.

The Messiah's formation was so important, so vital, that it was kept sacred and hidden.

Wow.



So important was His mission, Who He was, that Mary and Joseph led a quiet and hidden life in Nazareth. So sacred was the home life that we know nothing of it. We are not in the pecking order to know.

Speaking of future kings..I would love to see what a typical day at home for Prince George looks like. I read somewhere that the Duchess had little chicks in the home that her children loved to watch grow. (And then I promptly got in my van and went to the nearest farm to get my own...no I didnt!) But really, how hidden the modern day Royal Family's life is. At least they try their very best to keep it private, because, well, Western Civilization needs a good leader in little George. They "release" a picture or two on birthdays and such, but otherwise, who are we in the pecking order to get to be privy to the details.

How do you view your own homelife? If we belong to who we say we belong to, as part of our Baptism, our families are raising saints! Do you see what you do in your home as sacred? My blog is a bit of a contradiction because I do share pictures and stories!!!! But really, I want you to see my piece of beach in the Toehold, not to compare but only to encourage. It is all His anyway.



And THAT is how our God works. He uses the small and the hidden. When we stay small and hidden and do so with joy we are cooperating with the GREAT INNER STRENGTH that makes the mustard seed grow.

Off to bed I go as I have a little one turning three tomorrow.










Thursday, October 26, 2017

Our Cause

"Culture derives from woman - for had she not taught her children to talk,

the great spiritual values of the world would not have passed from generation to generation.



After nourishing the substance of the body to which she gave birth, 





she then nourishes the child with the substance of her mind. 








As guardians of the values of the spirit, 











as protectress of the morality of the young, 










she preserves culture, which deals with purposes and ends, 







while man upholds civilization,which deals only with means."
Fulton J. Sheen


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

His Vision

My husband and I had a beautiful talk around the kitchen table recently about how faith and hope were different.  My husband explained that faith was about total trust. That many of us are hopeful, but we don't all have faith.

And yet one will hear that faith is a gift, which seems a paradox to me, because you have to CHOOSE to TRUST.

You trust in the gift of faith.

I look back on our six children in our thirteen years of marriage and I see how generous He has been. I honestly feel such great peace with the faces of the people around me, in this home, my people. I had written a few posts ago how I feel a new call to be THIS baby's mama totally. Not just when she turns 18 and moves away, God willing, but that I will never stop being her mother.


Motherhood is a lifelong vocation.

And yet, I see these thirteen years of marriage and I see that I have been quite the fidgety little sheep. I see myself on my Good Shepherd's shoulders and his mouth so close to my ear and I see that even through all the years of having our children, I have been restless with His ultimate design for marriage. He was gently whispering to me as He held me steadily on His shoulders, and I look back at my response to His whispers and see: a constant fight and wrestling over the matter of trying to live a good NFP life...trying to reconcile my idea with child spacing and His! The thought of this makes me restless in my writing and kind of uneasy about what it is I stand for.


I took my NFP writings completely down from my blog about a year ago as I had a complete crisis of faith in my own understanding of marriage. The trigger for this was reading the book Covenanted Happiness by Cormac Burke and also meeting some very faithful friends. Yes friends and reading will usually do it, and a steady dose of people who have walked the walk, like Leila Marie Lawler over at Like Mother Like Daughter.

So I found myself in this perfect storm really of God dragging me kicking and screaming from my comfort zone in Alaska to being dumbfounded by truth. Truth that you can't unhear.


I'm irritated that there had to be so much searching on my part to come to a very simple truth: married men and women have children. I think about how complicated we have made it. We the Justin and I. We the current generation. We the Church. It hurts my head.

Before I married Justin I was in the muck of it all, the birth control muck of trying to decide what to use out of thousands of birth control options. All of it was mind boggling, as if I had to CHOOSE someTHING out of all the treatment options for my perfectly normal..fertility.


EVEN when the obvious choice was NFP, thanks to books like the Hahn's Lifegiving Love and the encyclical Humane Vitae, it all seemed hard. Hard in the way that I was a "good Catholic" hard and I had picked my cross of doing NFP unlike all those other not so Catholic faithful in the pews. And so that was my cross...to still use birth control?

I fundamentally did not believe people got married to have children.  Children were something that came along after a few years of marriage. There were steps and plans and degrees and homes and pets and careers and THEN children. There was even a way it was supposed to all LOOK: not too many, not all at once, at least look responsible about it, wipe their faces and match their socks for goodness sake! Some of the most hurtful comments came from the mouths of my own family as they told me "three was a lot of responsibility" how I  "was ridiculous" or asked why "four wasn't enough?"

Its funny how much I let those comments hurt me, you can't make someone see gift. All I see now is gift...and I can hold my chin up, see...look at the fruit..


So I came across an article on Facebook  recently and it was the same old boring song: If you want 12 kids fine by me, go ahead you rock! Wanna see a cool trick? Say 12 kids to my husband and his face turns white (this is where you laugh). She went on to say she had five but having 12 kids wasn't the vision for her family and the big question was if NFP was EFFECTIVE in your last years of fertility and then came a lengthy article of women who HAD used it EFFECTIVELY etc. She had to add she didn't want to be one of those moms having kids when her eldest was having babies, its just not her thing.

Ouch.

Ok.



I have six children and I think about two years ago I might have sang the same song: ok Stephanie, time to hunker down for the long haul of "trying not to have anymore children."

But...but what if...there is no serious obstacle other than your own vision? No really, no severe handicaps in the family. No high risk pregnancy issues. No money issues other than sacrificing vacations and things. What if I could spend my years coming down the fertility mountain actively trying to be ready for another yes?


My sixth pregnancy I had severe pain from varicose veins in my second trimester but it was literally all gone by my third! My third trimester pelvic pain was at times unbearable, especially first thing in the morning. I had never had pelvic pain before and I learned and my friends were right, that it goes away once the baby is delivered, which is what happened!

So...ok Stephanie, that's fine..you do you and I'll do me!

No. That can't be right?

Then you are telling me there isn't one truth? You are telling me my searching for this meaning in marriage was so silly because when it comes down to it: Do what feels right for you.

I'm so confused by the you do you and I'll do me culture because it isn't Catholic!



I  have put SO MUCH energy into planning out the spacing of my children that essentially...even with NFP...I was still telling God...YOU do YOU and let ME do ME.

God, I don't want YOUR vision for my marriage. I want my vision. Are we, as in, the PROUD NFP using Catholics really giving God a big fat giant "You do You!"

I know the fruit of ME do ME. I know the pill. I know the worry. Lots of worry and anxiety...to control everything. I also know the charting and the temperatures and the multiple pregnancy tests to see if this "natural method" works. Yep...all of it is WORRY..the worry of it not fitting my vision.

The fruit of when I held this little one in my arms..was JOY. There was no WORRY. Just JOY.



I was flat out told a few weeks ago at my women's Bible study a "you do you." I explained how it doesn't feel like work anymore with this sixth one, and it was then clarified by a friend, who I know meant well, that "we aren't all meant to have six children."

Oh...I felt so little in that moment as I was surely not trying to tell others to have six children, I had an agenda like that when I was a new NFP warrior about ten years ago on my "I am open to life and better than thee" high horse.

I was just sharing my gift. I was doing exactly what Anna did when she left the Temple. What the woman does when she finds her coin! What the Good Shepherd does when He finds His sheep! When people are cured and healed by this Man they GO and SHARE and say "See LOOK at my Gift!"

 I will keep sharing my gift...and honestly...my joy might make others feel uncomfortable. Maybe they are uncomfortable because they are wrestling with the "what ifs" of another baby as well.

Well if I'm not an NFP warrior, what kind of warrior am I?

I humbly say,"Oh no! I'm not a warrior, I'm actually trying not to fight anymore! I am an unprofitable servant. I am passive. I want to just surrender to His will and vision. My blueprint for my life was crap, His will for me has the best fruit."



Isn't that what we were talking about in Sunday's Gospels? The vineyard and the fruit it bears?

 So little ol' unlearned Stephanie is putting this out there...what if we lived our marriages constantly seeking His Vision?

Let's pray about this together xoxo