Friday, October 28, 2016

Our Yes

A few nights ago we had a double baby shower to celebrate two beautiful mamas in my Bible study group. I hosted in my basement, which turned out to be the perfect intimate setting we needed for laughs and tears and sharing our hearts. The twinkle lights and decor reminded my son of the atria in Juneau...he said to my husband, "Mama made an atrium down here!" Yep, I cried at the dinner table when I heard he had said this. I thought the shower pictures would be fitting for some of my thoughts today.

Beautiful and delicious cake made by Sheila

In a social media saturated world, we can’t help but look around at the lives of others. Family size is just there! And when your heart has the stirrings of wanting to be more open to life, counting how many children and calculating the spacing of said children becomes easy mommy math.

True. Except that we don’t always know the true size of any family unless we are privileged enough to hear the story of each mother as she tells who has grown under her heart and who has grown IN her heart.



By under her heart, I mean babies and children who were here and are no longer visible materially in this space but have gone on before the rest of the family. Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Sickness. Tragedy. All such real crosses. I have sat humbly in the presence of these brave mothers. They walk with a family that is missing someone and yet so very present.

 Loss can even occur IN a heart. I recently befriended someone who “lost” in a way, a little girl she was paired to adopt overseas and  had become very attached to only to have her torn away because of a change in circumstances, her file was moved along…in a sea of adopting files. And the mama shared this with tears welling in her eyes. I share this hoping you will always see through these eyes when you start sizing up families.


So in our one minute world, we see and we size up, it just happens. We compare and we look at your family and at mine.

Where is your yes? Where is hers?

She said yes nine times! She said yes to a four sibling adoption!?!

If she can do that many children and be so happy, why is my yes SO hard then?

(Hey! Be careful putting others on a pedestal you comparer you!)

Oh be so gentle with yourself!



With her yes came the graces, they are not yours to have but hers.

I wonder, dear reader, if you can turn from contemplating on not being able to say yes at this particular moment to affirming hers. Can you even believe it? Yes, make all that you see in her yes..not about YOU!


If you or your husband are struggling with a call to more children, can you be a blessing to those who have children?

Can you rejoice when she first tells you she is having her ninth? Can you give big hugs? Can you say, “Congratulations! How can I help you?”

You are life giving when you bring a casserole. It might be simple comfort food to you, but to her it will taste like the best meal in the world…because she didn’t have to make it!

When she has her third, can you have her other two toddlers for a playdate so she can be with just baby? When you drop her children off at the end of the playdate, can you empty her trash can…without being asked?

You don’t have to even do a “work of mercy”, it can be as simple as kind eyes in Mass at the back of the narthex with a whisper “Your baby is beautiful.”

If you are not at a moment where you can say yes, can you find moments where you cheer on other mamas in their yeses! I have walked many months of my life holding back from our Lord because I felt what He was asking of me at the time was too big. If I could serve my friends with little ones, I found a bit of comfort in knowing I was making their life giving love choices feel even the slightest bit easier.



There is a woman who walked this earth, it was the land of Israel to which she called home. She made room in her heart for everything with her yes, the whole of humanity, including you.

Oh the Blessed Mother, dear reader, allow yourself to rest in the heart that pumped blood to our Lord and Savior. Allow her maternal heart, full of grace, to comfort you and your journey to yes.

God bless.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Battle to Remember a Battle

St. Michael's feast day was late September and a few of my mama friends and I schemed up a massive nerf war in order to celebrate St. Michael's awesome victory over Satan. It happened a few weekends after the actual feast day, but we all prayed St. Michael's prayer at the beginning, which somehow seemed to make everything (as in it being well past his actual feast day) alright.

It was actually very easy to pull off as everyone pitches in. We bring food but keep things simple. One family, who are more seasoned in nerf wars, cleverly ordered tons of ammunition and safety goggles.




The four families had 23 kids between them, so the dads were certainly outnumbered.



We moms took turns watching the littles and joined in every now and then to support our men








 and our parish seminarian also helped out the dads.



It was so much fun! Our backyard joins with our friend's backyard so the kids already had an intricate fort complex in the woods and all the terrain was just very appropriate for this kind of endeavor.








So...no one got hurt! I look at these pictures and I am thankful for Catholic culture and large families. It is so easy to speak large family when you are with other large families...like...let's keep it simple, I will bring mac'n cheeses, let's make sure if you get "hit" you can go to the healing area and count and be better so noone has to be upset, can we add cupcakes and a happy birthday at the end for one of our eleven year olds? YES!



  It wasn't a trip to a theme park but it did require dads who can give up Sunday football to play...and maybe some taquitos.




 God Bless!



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

True Royalty

I probably talk about it way too much to my mommy friends, but the idea of sovereignty really does make living the crazy big family life more concrete for me. I really grasped it reading Chesterton's Man Alive.



 If you were to look up sovereignty in the dictionary you would find mention of words like “supreme ruler” or “independent authority.”  If God is sovereign of heaven and earth, he most certainly should be sovereign in your home. When it comes to your marriage and the beautiful fruits that are born of that marriage, he truly works his sovereignty through you.

What you do, what you say, in your home is for your home. Over the last few years, I have seen the sovereignty in our marriage play out in the virtues we are all practicing together. When we correct our young ones, it is sometimes with a stern, “Oh we don’t do that in THIS family” or “In our home we say please.”



Homeschooling was a major leap in really taking that sovereignty to heart. Wow, can I really be the authority on what goes into my children’s minds and souls? It is not something I take lightly, luckily, I have much confidence in the literary giants I am leaning on in the classics.

Saying yes to more children has, in some ways, showed our sovereignty in our home to more people. People do not always see us singing around our Advent wreath or belting out Les Miserables, they certainly don’t see my three eldest daughters snuggled up in ONE bed Little Women style as they wait for kisses goodnight. In our home we play musical beds, who says everyone needs to be assigned one? In our home, we sing loud and who says you need to finish a song before switching over to another?

People can count though, so they do see our children.



So...In our home we value life. In our home we believe the child is supreme gift. In our home we think that children are a blessing. In our home we don’t say “the more the merrier” for certain occasions, we believe “the more the merrier” is for all the time, in all occasions!


It is a true blessing to see that sovereignty over your home and your life choices and then make it yours. Well-meaning family, who claim they are just being honest, will try to give you council on things that you are sovereign over. Medical professionals with the best of intentions will advise you on birth control options. Forgive them for not seeing your crown. Forgive them that they can’t see the jewels that are your children adorning your crown. Brilliantly.



Wear that crown in your minivan and to the park and to Mass. Where it well in your home. You are a young sovereign now, but with your crown will come wisdom if you can but have confidence in it. 

That the crown is rightfully yours.


You are sovereign.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Understanding

God is the beggar of love who knocks at the door of our hearts. (Rev 3:20)

St Therese doesn't think first about loving God but rather about understanding the depth of God's love for her. - Nicholas Cabasilas

I want more than a practicing of gratitude as I look around at this home and life. I want to truly rest in the confidence of knowing His deep deep love for me. This is the peace of mind I seek.