Thursday, March 27, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Lenten times

photo from one of the  pinterest boards listed below
Lent and Spring
It's turning out to be a wonderfully beneficial lent despite some of our fumbles. 
On a family trip last Friday as we were basking in the company of family members we don't get to see but every few months, we all cheerfully, socially took ourselves to a Chinese restaurant and proceeded to blithely eat teriyaki beef, honey chicken, and even desert.  We realized the next morning that we had broken Lenten sacrifices  - and on a Friday in lent.
I suppose some (maybe most?) people would say you have to be crazy to admit to liking lent.  But, I'm a rebel in areas like this so I'll say that I love lent.  I love the stretching I feel take place in myself and this year is really making it sting.  But there's joy in it, as only God can make happen.
However, I think easily everyone joins me in welcoming Spring this year!
Thank God for the Seasons.
Lenten Pinterest Boards  I am loving...
Spring Break/Spring Cleaning
I always begin Spring cleaning when we are home from school for spring break.  Some years I am more successful that other years.  This year was a good one. 
*First, I pulled out my clipboard with my cleaning list. 
*Secondly, I pulled the bucket of cleaning supplies (that I love!) out and checked for good gloves. 
*Third, I put on music. 
The weather was beautifully, lusciously spring like so I wanted to get us out of the house in the afternoons. Each morning, save one, I gave the kids their tasks right after breakfast and I got busy tackling mine.  In the end, I cleaned a storage shed, two closets, took 10 big bags to Goodwill, and the van got a once over that makes it look like humans travel in it now.
I like to be able to clean
Again, I'm a bit of a rebel in admitting to this. ~smile~ And I enjoy laundry.  I don't enjoy the constancy of either so much, but I  have found ways to enjoy the tasks themselves when I've set myself up for success - which usually means having the supplies I like, and the products I like.  Which is why I loved Rachel Balducci's post on laundry.
Babies are a gift - even when they're not yours
God bless little Jett and London
I became an aunt again (for the 17th and 18th times) on St. Patrick's day.  My cute, cute, cute little niece and nephew were born. Both are thriving at a bouncing 5 lbs. each which I will proudly mention is a very good birth weight for twins.  They are my youngest sisters' first two children which still throws me since I practically half raised her :)  So, we packed up the van and headed to sunny Oklahoma to see them last Friday and hold those babies.  It was a fun weekend trip, hence our forgetting lent on Friday night.
And my sis still looks like a beauty (maybe more so) after giving birth to her sweet babies.
Speaking of babies...
My own "babies", also twins, are receiving their first sacrament of reconciliation on Sunday.   I thrill over these kinds of milestones in their faith lives and just thank God so much for our rich faith.
Evangelizing can be Easy
If you actually talk to your kids in public apparently it draws attention and is seen as a radical form of behavior.  We stopped in for ice cream last Sunday after Mass, and like always we chatted our way through our treat.  We were approached twice by people telling us how nice it was to see a family talking and enjoying each other with not an electronic device in sight.  I hadn't even thought about it because at home it's a given that if we're at the table there are no devices allowed.  But one man even said he wanted to start trying that with his children.  I felt awesomely surprised that we had shown something of a good example to the public.  Who knew? 
I am linked with all the other 7 Quick Takes at 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Angel Guardian You came through Again

I love angels - especially the Guardians. 
I taught my children the Guardian Angel prayer the minute they could begin to talk.  I really valued the notion of each of them having their very own guardians.  That was when life was still fairly untouched by the serious kind of suffering. It was full of promise. 
I could have had no inkling of an idea then how very much all of us would come to need those very angels.

When life took some pretty serious and painful turns, however, I began to really live out the belief in the aid of angelic beings. I came to see that I could really and truly ask for help from them and actually get real and often immediate help for myself, or more importantly, for my children.
I have a handful of real and poignant angel stories and I will share those.  Tonight I am only reporting this most recent intervention.  This one from my 2nd oldest son's angel.  It amazes me that even in the trivial, ordinary matters, such as soccer, they are ever at our sides to help.

There was absolutely nothing I could say or do the other evening to help my son go through one of those growing up moments in life.  He was aching inside, and I could feel it.  He was about to give up playing his favorite sport - soccer.  In his heart, he didn't want to quit playing I could sense.  My mom radar was sounding alert.   I was trying to encourage him to stick out the season because he had made a commitment and commitments are important to honor.  This is the boy who begs to play a fall and a spring season of soccer for the last two years. 
I watched him drag himself out to the soccer field for the third time in 3 weeks. 

The second time, there he was, on the floor tying up his soccer cleats with a furrow in his brow.  This boy, quiet and strong at the same time.  Normally, he would not be so pensive on the way out to soccer practice - loving the sport as he does.  He is an exceptionally good player for 9 years of age.  He looks up and asks if I can call the coach and tell him that he is sick and can't come to practice.  I reply that it isn't the truth therefore it would be wrong to lie .  He asks if he can skip practice then without any explanation to the coach.  I remind him that he has made a commitment to the team and no practice means no playing in the games.  He grudgingly gathers his ball and glumly follows me out the door to practice.

I am perplexed because this is not like him at all.  Beyond  Minecraft and Legos, soccer is pretty much at the top of his favorite activities.  I watch him at practice and he really doesn't play much.  Hangs back, won't go for the ball, won't engage in helping teammates maneuver toward the goal.  Weird.  Oh, I think.  That's it, he's coming down with something and doesn't feel good.  I feel guilty for making him go to practice.

But no, when we get home he has no fever and says he doesn't feel sick.  But he doesn't want to play soccer anymore.  Why?  I ask.  He says his mind isn't on it anymore.  Flare of worry rises up in me.  I decide not to make a big issue of it, so I casually say "oh ok.  Any reason in particular you want to quit?"  He tells me he is a dweeb at soccer.  ????   I remind him that when he works hard in a practice or game, he's one of the best players on the field.  "Yeah, I used to be",  he says, "but that really tall boy on my team said I'm a skinny dweeb and that I stink at kicking.  So I think I'll just quit." he says.
I tell him (calmly) that he can't let negative people control him like that...  That the  boy was probably being overly competitive and it caused him to be unkind.  To which he replies, "well, I kind of already thought I was no good anyway." 
Ouch.  Arrow to my heart.
He has never voiced anything like this before.  But this is a boy who doesn't have his dad around much.  It's a void I worry about. When he began playing sports I noticed he began to really feel that absence.
Back to the soccer field... I sat there at a good distance so as not to hover or embarrass.  I watched more closely this week.  Sure enough, this other little boy was on fire with competition with JP.  He tried tripping him, and wouldn't pass the ball to him and yes, there were several insults he yelled out.  He had found JP's Achilles heel- humiliation - and he was going to use it.  The coach tried calling the little boy out on it, but this only furthered JP's humiliation.  He wouldn't play much. He shut down for the most part. 
I didn't know what to do. In quiet desperation to be able to help JP the only way I could, I began praying to his guardian angel - "please help him stand up and play his best - please help him not take this boy too seriously - please protect his sense of sportsmanship and his love for the game." 
I didn't know what to pray for exactly.  I have never really prayed so fervently for something seemingly not urgent. 
After a few minutes I saw the fire light up in JP's eyes and he decided he had had enough and he was going to play soccer hell or high water.  He began to play his best.  The rest of practice I watched him ignore the other boy and play. He ended by getting praised by the coaches for hitting 3 goals.
Walking back to the van afterwards I told him he looked good out there.  He said, "I decided to show myself that I don't stink at kicking.  And I guess I don't."

 Prayer answered. 
Way to go kiddo.
Thank you dear angel.


Monday, March 3, 2014

What's it all for?

We had an unexpected snow day called today. So we're all home and happily finding MUCH to keep us busy.  But, in a weird way, what a treat to be able to have extra time to get some of the household work accomplished without having to do it all in the evening. 
As yesterday's cold and snow didn't seem to be as bad as the weathermen predicted I really had no expectation at all for a snow day from school.  Those huge, beautiful snowflakes that fell most of the afternoon didn't accumulate into serious amounts of snow.  But as evening was setting in, there came the e-mails - school was off due to dangerous wind chills and anticipated snow throughout the night.  The kids were thrilled (high fiving, fist pumping- thrilled). Truthfully, so was I.
I went ahead and got up on time this morning at my usual waking time because I didn't want to totally break routine.  Since no one had to be out the door by any particular time, I let the kids sleep until 8:30. 
Translation - luxurious amounts of morning quiet!
I was enjoying it immensely but I noticed I wasn't inclined to pray as much as just sit there and piddle and mess with my calendar app.  I just felt like I needed some 'me time'.  Some unstructured, no demands time.
I kept trying to muster up my will to pray morning prayer but I kept finding one thing after another to stall myself.
As I became aware of some kind of force of laziness making me not want to pray, I said to myself that I would at least pray the morning offering and just leave it at that.  At least then, the Lord had been offered everything in my whole day as a prayer.
I went and poured one more cup of coffee.  I sat down and sipped at it and then resolved to set it down and prayed my morning offering.
Then I prayed the opening prayer (Glory Be) for morning prayer in the Magnificat.
Then I glanced at the morning hymn.  Beautiful.
Then I opened up my browser and played my new favorite sacred music - "Lent at Ephesus" from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.  I felt the 'force' of lazy selfishness begin to let go of me as a calm and prayerfulness began to replace it.
I finished morning prayer. Then I prayed for some special people and concerns.  I then prayed the ongoing novena I pray almost everyday.
Done.  Wow. I felt grounded as I went back to my calendar app and planned out the day. 
I was no longer wondering about the question that had popped into my head as I had begun perusing my calendar the 1st time... "Oh brother, what's all this work, demands, and constant service all for anyway?"  
It's all for God's greater glory when given to Him for that reason.  Sense of purpose restored. 
And it all started with a dutifully said Morning Offering.
Lesson learned.  God is good.