Saturday, February 16, 2019

Children of God

"To be borne again in God is also only a beginning, an infancy. We are children of God when we are 'born of water and the Holy Spirit,' but we have yet to become the sons and daughters of God that we have been empowered to become. What can we do to further our spiritual maturity?

A great deal: think, reflect, struggle for knowledge, clarity and virtue, fight our weaknesses, help our neighbors,


PERFORM OUR GIVEN TASKS LOYALLY





and much more.

Yet even all this alone, is not enough; the growth of divine life in us too must come from the source of our second birth: from the Holy Spirit, who must permeate our thoughts and struggles and deeds, and thus renew them. Again and again, therefore, we must supplicate:

ETERNAL BEGINNING, CREATIVE SPIRIT, RECREATE ME! 
YOU HAVE BEGUN ME, COMPLETE ME!"

From Romano Guardini's The Lord, within the chapter entitled Rebirth in Water and the Holy Spirit

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Words of Encouragement

Hi ladies...wipe your hands of all that flour for a second. I know you have been measuring out love all week in those little moments.

I know you are filling to the brim the measures you can DO WELL. Your arms are working, sifting and pounding out your House of Bread. 

The yeast is leavening.

It all smells lovely.



I think we can agree that a lifetime of Full Measured Motherhood will surely be a Light in this world. 

Yes this rather dark world needs the Light and isn't it wonderful we can DO SOMETHING about it?

Ah yes...because if there is anything that needs to be said about any given day it is that we
ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING.



I love getting texts from a dear mama of two small boys in Alaska. I sometimes get them at odd hours because of the time difference, but the last one I felt was a small attack and slight to her vocation. Which gets me all prickly...

To sum up things, it was that she simply had a conversation with another mother who was going  back to her career in nursing so she could "actually do something" during the day. She has a two year old daughter. 

My friend also worked hard for her nursing degree and all while becoming a mother in her last year of nursing school!

She worked hard for this! She knows the trade of nursing too!

Ah yes...the "working" mom vs. the "homemaker" mom debate. Or take your pic.. "Homeschooling" mom vs. "public school" mom.  The devil LOVES these divisions.

I have seen motherhood debated cruelly at times on the internet as the mommy articles are shared and make their way around. How nice that we can say such ignorant and stupid things to random people on the internet and not have to bear any awkwardness of the body language and facial expressions that come with NASTY words. A slippery slope of shaming and what I would beg to say is the wrong SOMETHING to be DOING.

So, I won't begin to assume I know this particular mother's deeper reasons for wanting to return to her career in nursing to "actually do something." In fact, it is quite the luxury for us to sit here and wonder about what it is we want to do with all our time, a privilege of the first world country we live in.

God Bless America.

My dear friend was asking me for encouragement, because something about those words were tough for her to hear.

 I think she is wrestling.

And I think this wrestling is GOOD.

I love most she is AWARE of it.

So when others tell us what it is they are proposing to do, the Christian who is deducing their own similar musings on "what to do," in any given moment or in the entire span of their one life, can't help but conclude that this decision is married to the will of their Almighty Father.

What is it GOD wants you to do?

He wants you to Actually Do Something to Build His Kingdom.

He has created you with this work in mind.



To make your life a Gift in this great history of salvation.

Part of full measured mothering means making decisions within your set apart space.

These decisions of how you work and go about living will bear fruit!

So when you find the fruit that bears a thriving, stable, right ordered and happy household then friend I say FOLLOW THAT FRUIT! A steady inner peace is probably the fruit I follow MOST in my own personal Kingdom building. I like to follow the work that brings me peace.

The fruit of a quiet Sunday is peace for me. The fruit of children who have full bellies before bedtime yields peace for me in the evening. The fruit of clean sheets on a nicely made bed yields peace in restful sleep. The fruit of having folded laundry so that clothing the wee ones is easy if one must leave the house quickly yields for peace getting out the door (sometimes).

Oh I do love when there is peace. 

So what is YOUR VISION for YOUR FAMILY?

 Much of this vision depends on where YOU are in your home and if you are AWAY from it. Time in the home and time away will all bear certain fruit. There are certain works that require my large family to be right ordered and happy. When done well, there comes (in time) a lovely staying together that brings us all much joy.

Being IN my home bears this fruit.

Actually Doing Something in my home seems to fit with my own family vision.

You have to decide what kind of fruit you are after. You have to do the small things with the BIG VISION in mind.



In the freedom I have found on my own motherhood mat, it is HIS VISION for our family that has always born the best, most beautiful fruit.

His Vision was and is to have me home. I am most grateful for the fruit I experienced as a full time officer in the Coast Guard in the early years of my motherhood because I can say that the being home full time fruit is much better. This is my experience.

I am truly confident this is where I am supposed to be. I am home to the point where I home school and can make this nest for my people. The wonderful stability God has provided in our marriage and family life leads me to dare to hope that my husband and I could possibly welcome more children.



This may be the case for my friend too! 

The world doesn't support the Christian life and we are called to build something different. 

Let us pray for the wisdom to make decisions that follow the will of the Father! 

Let us look forward to the day when comments that seem to belittle what we are doing, if they were meant to or not, leave us feeling grateful that we have the choice to stay home and leave us excited for all the fruit this decision will bear. It is beautiful, trust me.



HUGS xoxo

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Full Measured Motherhood

Happy Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord!

When we begin to wake up in our OWN Baptismal Mission, we are constantly seeing all things belonging to the Church with THIS question...mainly...

Why was the Church created?

And then, the answer to the "why" is: to spread the Gospel! We spread the Gospel by announcing the Kerygma, or the Good News, about the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We announce it by our words and actions.

The Mass ends with this great sending, this commission to Kingdom Build. Naturally, wanting to help in building this Kingdom, I find I am constantly looking for WAYS to Kingdom Build.

Of course Jesus says, " I am THE WAY..."

And yet, no really Jesus, I need something more concrete. Perhaps I can...oh I don't know...start another atrium up to spread Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at a neighboring parish. Or..or maybe I can run a clothing drive, or finally serve some meals at the House of Mercy. It always looks like MORE than what I am doing now.

I mean...I'm doing this now...




Wait a minute, I'm doing this!



This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ is GOOD!

I bet this COUNTS as Kingdom Building!

The Church sex abuse scandal has rocked me and I feel like I have probably gone through some stages of grief in the process of all my article reading, YouTube watching frustration. I point my finger at the institution. I sign petitions to the Pope.

Through this wrestling, a parable has been settling and revealing itself to me, about the method by which I....Stephanie....can Kingdom Build. It has really nothing to do with "fixing" the Institution of the Church and has everything to do with my own conversion.



"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, 

that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour 

until the whole batch was leavened."

                                                                                               Matthew 13:33



My eldest daughter has very fond memories of working with this parable in the atria in Juneau, taking cups of flour and taking a butter knife with each cup and skimming the excess off the top.

There is such an exactness to this.

She said there is something so satisfying about taking the time to be precise and have a nice packed, full measure of flour to then dump into the bowl. One can imagine the back of that butter knife even making a smooth sound of metal knife upon metal cup as the overflow goes back to the flour container. This. This much right here is what I need.



I love it too. I love it even with little teaspoons, to press the teaspoon against the side of the baking soda box and then as you bring the spoon out of the box, see a lovely exact measure. To then take that packed measure and bang it loose against the bowl and watch as it is added to the batch of chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, carrot cake mix.

This.

This bit is necessary.

There is a truth and an exactness to baking. Baking takes great patience and I admire people who really are GOOD at baking.

It was my friend who first introduced me to the half vs. full measure difference. The parable says

"...mixed with three measures...."

Not three quarter measures...not three half measures....three measures.

There is an instruction here. There is a RIGHT measure.



When I was introduced to half measures, my friend and I were talking about efforts within parish ministry that we saw as not full efforts. It was not about blame, but more about the method. We wondered why particular fruit was not yielded when we make "efforts" in parish ministry. We have to think about the measure of time, attention, man power GIVEN to the ministry.

She would consistently tell me...We just have to stop giving half measures!

So as a mother, in this absolutely beautiful vocation, I DO believe there is a method to building a fruitful home for the Kingdom.

This method is Full Measured Motherhood.

The fruit of full measured motherhood would be a spouse and children that know they are LOVED by Jesus Christ and are in a relationship with Him. The second fruit being, they grew up in an environment, a space set apart from the world, that fostered their different gifts and charisms and supported the child's efforts in using those gifts to Build the Kingdom. They learn truth and beauty because it was given to them in varied full measures throughout their childhood.

Full measured motherhood is the type of mothering that requires work, integrity, patience, kindness and love for what is true, good and beautiful.

Everyday the people within our home require measures of love.

My husband and I gave a big full measure to our daughter on her thirteenth birthday.


Sometimes, it can simply be a teaspoon sized measure...like silencing your phone and being absolutely engrossed in whatever story your nine year old MUST share about her new ballet class.

I took my second eldest, just her, to get some much needed new jeans together. She is growing. Pants that fit matter when you are tween... we split a little of bag of M& Ms on the ride home.

Can you hear the sound of the back of the butterknife across the mouth of that cup?

The measure that says I love you.

The measure that says I see you.

The measure that says I delight in you.


The thing that I find most comforting about this method of mothering is that I find I am limited, especially with six children, in my ability to give everyone large full measure cups everyday. I mean there are holy, beautiful moments when this happens, and it shouldn't surprise you to know that these full measured moments happen around pivotal times in living the Life of Christ in the liturgy.


Full measures in the heart on Christmas Eve! Even my youngest there! Ha!

He surely does give in abundance!

We cannot always give BIG FULL CHRISTMAS EVE filling up measures.

We do what we are able to do.

In the everyday sense, I am thinking of dance nights. My girls need a good packed dinner on their dance night. It is important for them to have a substantial meal between classes. They like sub sandwiches, the occasional Ramon Noodles. They are home-schooled so this is the one time they get to use their lunch boxes. These dinners are not always stellar, but sometimes they are gourmet! To have NO packed dinner, would be an empty cup. We can't have that in full measure motherhood. I do the best measure I can!

I know when a school day is what it should have been that day and what it shouldn't have been. There is the truth, order, beauty that I am always after. Reading a read aloud in pajamas in the morning for an hour can actually be a BETTER measure of school than a worksheet. Deep down we know if we were able to do more or not. If the measure was a good one.

I am a dork and actually rolled a mat out on the carpet in my den to SHOW my husband this work. I took the flour container and took a cup and showed him measuring out flour.

Right....Ok! When I was all done I thought, "so we have different spiritual needs right?!?!?"

It wasn't until I saw him reading Saturday's paper on Sunday morning that I told him "I will go get the Sunday paper, I want you to have that." I went outside and got some fresh air, grateful for shawls and its covering ability and it was something to do instead of watching my coffee brew.

As I handed the paper to him he said, "Thank you!"

I went to the kitchen to get my much anticipated cup of coffee and he called to me from his chair, paper in hand, "Hey! I think you just gave me a measure didn't you?!?!"

Yes! Yes I did!

Are you going to call on your sister's birthday or just send a text?

Would your little one be really happy and better able to sleep on this particular night if you drew a bath first?

Can the children clear the foyer of loose shoes before dad comes home so as to be able to enter fully into this space?

Can you ask the cashier how they are doing today?

What is the MEASURE YOU ARE ABLE TO GIVE in any particular moment?



It is better to try to give a tiny sized full measure if that is all one is able to do!

But..should we withhold any size measures if they can't be done as a gift and with joy?

Who wants a measure when you tack on the end of it, "I'm glad you appreciate the paper because I got cold out there."

Measuring with joy is one thing.

Measuring counting the cost is another.

Done without joy you might as well have a little hole at the bottom of your measuring cup. By all appearances you are giving a full measure, and yet, the true measure is MISSING its fullness.

As I smooth the flour out, compacting the measure for each person in my family throughout the day....

Toast the way you like it for you.

A nice long hug in the morning for you.

Saying yes to lego play for you.

I get to the measure that has my name on it.

In a 21st century mom world of me time and you do you and I'll do me. Escaping, comparing, indulging, tired tired mamas...the concept of "me time" is very hard for... me. I tend to steer clear of articles that insist I leave my children for four hours on Saturdays with my husband, because honestly, I like to BE with my husband on the weekends. I also have a nursing toddler so, we are working on that, so I say "I don't need me time" when really getting away is difficult.



I CAN get behind full measured moments, FOR ME. Sometimes it is a long walk that fills me up, other times it is getting uninterrupted time with a friend, or reading, or french press coffee instead of from the pot.

It is amazing how far a little measure can go in MY life and then it has been beautiful to watch unfold in a day the measures given. You begin to appreciate small things. What you thought was a tiny measure for you to give might have been MUCH BIGGER to the person receiving it.

To me this is where the yeast in the parable has a great role.

That life giving yeast, the Holy Spirit, is at work in the measures you give your home.

There is a truth to your measures. There is a particular way in which a moment must be done and to its fullest to bring about the Kingdom.

When we fall short, which we will, it is OK! We can't go about moping and playing the victim in our inability to do things well, NO! No we must work at it, fumbling with our little butterknife like we have the chunky fingers of a two year old, our tongue slightly sticking out the corner of our mouths and our eyebrows furrowed in concentration as yes...we try to get the measure just right.

Why? Because measures are true and good and beautiful and the LEAVEN, needs the measures.

The leaven is mixed in with these measures,  the parable says until

"...the whole batch is leavened..."


Then, the BREAD of LIFE will be born in YOUR home. Bethlehem means "House of Bread." Your home will be a little Bethlehem. My friends, do you see the importance of your hidden work?

The yeast hides in the flour. Working. Dying. Hidden. RISING.

Do you see how Kingdom Building requires a Bethlehem? Will you offer your little space? Will you do full measure motherhood with me?

It is what I want to do most this year.

Can I go to bed earlier each night because every half hour of extra sleep I get is a full measure for me?

Can I yield to the agenda of the day to meet the needs of a child who needs to just be home and napping?

Can I trust that if I feel a child needed more of the measure that I was able to give that I will be given an opportunity to give a proper measure and that the Spirit will LET ME KNOW that moment when it is in front of me?!?!

Speaking of folding in these measures...there is so much to unfold in this parable.

I have more but I will leave you with my favorite Advent song, People Look East, that has a beautiful line that bids me to prepare for the King...

"...Make your house fair as you are able...

...Trim the hearth and set the table...

...People look East and sing today...

...Love the Guest in on the way..."


I love this verse so much because all this song ASKS of me to prepare for this Guest is to do what I am ABLE to do.

Make your house fair as you are able, one measure at a time friends!



In this post I wrote about his hidden life, and with this being the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism, we definitely did skip over the thirty years in the quiet obedience of a hidden life with Joseph and Mary. 

Ah...but we KNOW that this time was sacred and significant. We know that the batch must be completely leavened. This work takes time friends. It is beautiful and true and good.