#WorthRevisit: The Fruit of an Upbraiding

Very recently, a Sister in Christ who was once a friend said some very hurtful things to me.  It’s been a long time since such a thing has happened, but goodness knows humility’s not my strong suit, so the occasional upbraiding is probably well deserved.

Since the purpose of this blog is to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am writing a post that I’d rather not write.  But perhaps it will help someone else who may have a similar experience – past, present, or future.

This person and I had developed a friendship over the past few years, but have drifted apart over the last several months.  I had my own reasons for allowing this to happen, as she – obviously – had hers.  I knew when we met recently that things were boiling under the surface, but didn’t see a point in bringing them to the light of day.  Perhaps that’s me being passive-aggressive.  Probably.

Well, my Sister in Christ is much more outspoken than I am, and I learned, through her eyes, how the distance that had grown between us has affected her and made her feel.  I learned her view of my inadequacies and shortcomings.

Its never easy to hear yourself criticized by another person. In fact, it really stinks.  It left me feeling pretty low for a while.  Knowing that my loving Father does not want me to feel this way, I searched my head for scriptures that might apply.

First, I remembered Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And, verse 46: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”  And so I dropped to my knees in the middle of fixing dinner and prayed for this Sister in Christ – that she would have healing in this difficult time, that she would know Christ’s love, peace, and comfort, and that she, too, would recognize the opportunity for introspection to become more conformed to the woman God made her to be.  In the midst of a lot of hurt and anger, that prayer was the singularly most healing prayer I could have prayed.

love-your-enemies-2

The second scripture verse that came to mind was Hebrews 12:11: “Now discipline [some versions say “chastisement”]  always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

Thus, this is an opportunity for reflection.  Am I, in all my relationships, letting Christ shine through me?  Am I building others up in all I do?  Am I maintaining my integrity?  Are all my actions directed by my mission in Christ?

Of course I can’t honestly answer “yes” to all of those questions!  I have work to do (a lot of work), and this has illuminated an area of opportunity for me.  For that, I am grateful.

So, I thank my Sister in Christ.  Good will come from her actions and her words.  I trust in Christ to help me identify those areas that need improvement, and her words to me have made me more conscious of an area in which I need to ask for the Spirit’s wisdom to look interiorly at my actions and my motivations.

Indeed, her upbraiding – I pray – will bear much fruit.

“…we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” Romans 5:3-5

#WorthRevisit is a linkup of FAVORITE PREVIOUSLY posted blogs …. Visit Reconciled to You to read more authors’ posts worth revisiting!

So Much for Good, Strong Bones

My family has good, strong bones. It’s one of the stupid things that I’ve always been just a wee bit prideful about. We may have our weaknesses, we Engelman’s, but we’ve got good, strong bones.

Through all the football games, rough housing, dirt bike riding, and general stupid stunts, my kids had yet to break a bone.

Until Tuesday.

Mind you, our oldest had just gotten a new scooter, and went to the skate park to try it out. This seems like an inherently dangerous thing, so I gave him a big hug before he left and sent up a few prayers while he was gone.

Our ten year old daughter, “Bonita” on the other hand, had a kickball game. I screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-06-04-amwas wracked with guilt over missing it  but I needed to be at Confirmation and had no choice. So, I did give her a big hug before she left, but it was an “I’m terribly sorry I’m not going to be there” hug, not a “please Lord protect her” hug.

During Mass, I thought of my son, maybe breaking his neck “dropping in” to some half pipe, and offered another prayer for him.

After the Confirmation Mass, I checked my phone and saw that I had several texts. Bonita had hurt her pinky finger trying to catch a ball. It was probably just badly jammed, according to a doctor who happened to be on site, but it could be broken.

Mehhh. We’ve got good strong bones. She’ll be fine.

Wednesday, the school nurse looked at it and forewarned me that it may need to be checked out.

Thursday, the nurse called and left a voicemail. Take this child to the doctor.

The irony is that, only a few weeks ago I joked with a friend, “Hey, I just found out that we’ve met our out of pocket max on the insurance! If the kids are going to break some bones, this is the year to do it!”

Whoops. I shouldn’t have said that.

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Lesson learned: unless you want to wrap your kids in bubble wrap, count on them being in danger at every turn. Even kickball is a dangerous sport, apparently!

Ultimately, trust them to the Lord, and he will take care of them in his own perfect way!

god-is-my-bubble-wrap

The Crucifix: Inspiration for Repentance and Love

Growing up, the crucifix always struck me as–well, gross, graphic, and unnecessary. It simply didn’t make any sense. Why did Catholics insist on displaying such gruesomeness? Wasn’t it better to look at the clean and less offensive empty cross, and remember that Christ rose from the dead?

estatua_de_la_crucifixion-_cristo_crucificado

However, upon my conversion, I quickly gained a deep appreciation for the crucifix. There is “no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends,”  and Christ loved me so much that he died for me in this terrible and incredibly painful way. To see it so clearly depicted before me served as a constant reminder of just how great his love was for me, a sinner, and for all sinners.

When I read and understood Numbers 21:4-9 for the first time, my love for the crucifix grew as the beauty of scripture filled me with awe. Once again, we see how the New Testament is contained in the Old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. The Israelites complained against God, even as they should have thanked him for  freeing them from slavery in Egypt. God sent serpents among them, and many Israelites perished. Moses prayed for the people, and, upon God’s instruction, made a bronze serpent and mounted it upon a pole.  Whoever was bitten by a snake had only to gaze upon that serpent atop that pole, to receive healing.

Likewise, we who experience the bite of sin can look upon the likeness of Christ, mounted upon the cross, to begin the process of healing. That image, which calls to mind his death and love for us, will drive us to true contrition and sorrow for our sins, and a desire to be worthy of such sacrifice. It will lead us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are blessed to hear those most beautiful words of absolution.

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Thus cleansed of our sin, we find ourselves gazing more lovingly upon our Lord, emptied and broken, longing to love him as he loves us. The desire to be close to him, to be concealed within his wounds, leads us to ever closer union with him as we seek to love him through loving our fellow man.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, may the crucifix and its reminder of Christ’s sacrifice serve as our strength, inspiration, and reassurance of Christ’s love for us.and-just-as-moses-lifted-up-the-serpent-in-the-desertso-must-the-son-of-man-be-lifted-up-so-that-everyone-who-believes-in-him-may-have-eternal-life-john-3_14-15

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

Answering God’s Call, Even When It Doesn’t “Make Sense”

The Unexpected Blessing of Being Open to Life

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Answering God’s Call, Even When It Doesn’t “Make Sense”

In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus tells Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon informs him that they’ve been out there all night, and haven’t caught a thing. But, he does it anyways, and they catch so many fish, their nets begin to tear.

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Sometimes, Jesus asks us to do something that seemingly makes no sense. When we do it anyways, we reap an abundant harvest, just as Simon and the other fishermen did.

The trick is knowing when a prompting is of the Spirit. It might just as well be of our own manufacture – as Peter experienced during the Transfiguration when he wanted to build tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Or, worse, it could be the manufacture of a very different spirit – for example, the spirit that prompted Judas to betray Jesus for a bag of coins.

First, we ask ourselves,  does this appear to be of God? God is all loving and all merciful, so a prompting that is not rooted in love and mercy must clearly not be from him.

After that, we might turn to the counsel of Godly friends, our priest or pastor, or our spiritual director. Having another person’s perspective on matters is always beneficial.

Ultimately, though, I find that patience and prayer are the most sure ways to know that I’m following Christ’s will, especially when he seems to be prodding me in inexplicable directions. The question, “Really, God? You seriously want me to do this?” is perfectly valid, as long as we ask it with a willingness to respond according to his answer.

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.

When the prodding remains after much prayer and discernment, we are called to step out in faith and trust. Even if we have misunderstood God’s call in our lives, he will bless us in our efforts and willingness to be pleasing to him. We may make mistakes, but his correction will be both loving and gentle.

Ultimately, God doesn’t expect perfection, only a desire to seek perfection, and a willingness to please.

Book Review: 7 Riddles to Nowhere

In her latest novel, 7 Riddles to Nowhere, author AJ Cattapan takes the reader on an intriguing and inspiring journey through the streets and churches of Chicago, as the young protagonist and his friends seek to win a fortune and save their school.


Most seventh graders would have other plans for the money. (Mine would probably want to add a trampoline park and swimming pool to the backyard.) Kam Boyd is hardly your average middle schooler, however, and when he’s presented with the opportunity to win a fortune, he’s determined to succeed in order to save his small school, which is threatened due to financial struggles.

Kam’s only recently moved to the school, but this selective mute had  hoped for a fresh start.  He has already become attached to his warm and generous teacher and several classmates who have befriended him despite the fact that he can’t speak to adults outside of his home, which means he barely talks at school.

Winning the contest is no small feat. Kam and his friends must find the answers to seven riddles, bravely traveling the streets of Chicago. They must also compete with other, less honorable teams, most notably the school bully and his sorry lot of friends. The chase takes them through beautiful city churches, where the clues and answers are hidden in architecture and artwork.

I found myself unable to put the book down as it neared its conclusion. Kam is an incredibly lovable character, and I enjoyed rooting him and his friends on as they strove to win the contest against all odds. There were beautiful lessons in church doctrine and history delicately interwoven into the tale, with the sound message that, “where your treasure is, there also will your heart lie.”

While Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a middle grade novel, I’d recommend it to any child ages 10 and older, and even a younger precocious reader. Every school library should keep this book on their shelves, especially those at Catholic schools. It would also be an excellent addition to school curricula, as an aid to teach tolerance, generosity, courage, and the universality of the Church.

Seven Riddles to Nowheres official release date is August 31, and author AJ Cattapan is holding  a Facebook launch party to celebrate. She’s giving away lots of wonderful prizes, including a signed copy of my book, A Single Bead, with a rosary blessed by the pope, an Amazon gift card, and more. Follow this link to join the party and have a chance at winning. Please tell her that Stephanie Engelman sent you!

I received an advance copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you follow the links, and add the book or anything else to your cart, you’ll pay the exact same price but I’ll get a tiny little commission. It’s a great way to support your favorite bloggers… Thank you!!!

Book Review: The Perfect Blindside

If you’re sad to see the end of the summer Olympics, The Perfect Blindside, a young adult novel by Leslea Wahl, is a great way to recapture some of the excitement, while also preparing for the winter Olympics, coming in just two short years.

This sweet fictional romance features Olympic silver medalist Jake, who has recently moved to the town of Silver Springs, Colorado, and is firmly confident that he is way too good for the little town or anyone in it. In other words, fame has gone to this kid’s head, and he’s become the cocky athlete we see all too often when watching sports coverage of, say, idiotic stunts pulled in gas stations by swimmers in Rio.

Jake is a jerk, but I liked him because he is, indeed, very real. We have all known a kid like this: too big for his britches and pushing people away at every turn, all the while feeling secretly lonely and isolated.

Seemingly the polar opposite of Jake, Sophie is a high school junior who loves her little home town. She’s pretty much a goody-two-shoes, and, while  the rest of the teenagers in town are fawning allover the new arrived Olympian, she takes an instant dislike to Jake and his cocky attitude.

Jake’s world begins to fall apart when he’s framed for drug possession, and Sophie realizes that perhaps she’s been a wee bit judgmental. Ultimately, she is able to use her knowledge and love of Silver Springs to help Jake uncover the mystery behind the old abandoned mine, thereby clearing his name, all while romance blossoms between the two teenagers.

I would recommend The Perfect Blindside for tweens and teens. Both my ten-year-old daughter, and my twelve-year-old son read and enjoyed it, and since my son isn’t a big reader, that’s quite a complement to author Leslea Wahl!

The Perfect Blindside is offered by my very favorite publisher, Pauline Books and Media, under their Pauline Teen imprint.  While the characters are Catholic, the message is universal and will appeal to all Christian teens. The Christian message is understated enough that teens who don’t identify strongly as Christians will enjoy the book as well. I highly recommend adding it to your family library!

I was provided a copy of The Perfect Blindside by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on a link, and add anything to your cart, I’ll receive a tiny percentage, but you’ll pay the same amount! It’s a great way to show your support for your favorite bloggers. :) 

 

#SmallSuccess Thursday

I confess. With the kids starting school this week, I feel like I’ve been struggling just to keep my head above water. But, that’s why I need to find these small successes, anyways.

Small Success #1 – A Magazine Mention

A Single Bead CoverAuthor Barb Grady Szyszkiewicz listed me on her list of “Top ten authors you should introduce your students to” in September’s issue of Catholic Teacher Magazine. Me! Unfortunately, I don’t take this particular magazine – for obvious reasons, since I’m not a teacher. However, I think we can safely assume I was mentioned as a result of  A Single Bead. The mention makes me feel even more urgency to writing the next one, so here’s to ten thousand words this week!

Small Success #2 – Reading Great Non-Fiction

I know there are a TON of women out there who devour non-fiction books like they’re going out of style. I’m not one of them. For me, finishing them is frequently an act of perseverance. Not because I don’t enjoy them while I’m reading, more because there’s no story to draw me in and keep me turning pages. Inevitably, another book draws my attention, and the ADHD part of my brain moves on to the new one without a thought for the old.

However, I am pleased to report that I am persevering in reading Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 10.37.50 AM
TWO non-fiction books right now. One of them, From Grief to Grace, was written by author Jeannie Ewing. It’s well written, with Jeannie’s personal stories of grief interwoven throughout the book, and I’ve found it to be a page turner, even when I’m not reading the “story” part of the book. I especially loved a passage where she reflected on how we could experience joy even in the midst of grief, which so closely reflected my own journey. It’s a beautiful experience – that particular joy – and one which I believe Jeannie’s book will help others to experience as well.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 10.52.15 AMThe second book, Champions of the Rosary by Fr. Don Calloway, is exactly the book I’ve been waiting for for years – filled with the history of the Rosary, and the miracles associated with it. I heard about this book while I was driving to Chicago several weeks ago. It hadn’t been released yet, so I asked Amazon to notify me when it was. Fortuitously, Fr. Calloway was at the conference, and giving away free copies of the book! My progress is slow, but I’m loving every page.

Small Success #3 – The Crazy Nutrition Plan

One of my favorite meals on this plan, steamed brocolli with spaghetti sauce and goat cheese.
One of my favorite meals on this plan, steamed brocolli with spaghetti sauce and goat cheese.

A few weeks ago I went back on my “crazy nutrition plan” because my energy was low and I had been sick for months. This basically means I’m avoiding wheat, sugar, meat, and dairy. While for sanity’s sake I’m giving myself some leeway, especially on weekends, I’m pleased to report that the energy and illness resolved themselves immediately once I stuck to the plan for a full day. AND I’ve lost three pounds, which, considering that I’ve been hovering at my undesired weight since Little Man was born 18 months ago, is definitely cause to celebrate!

For more #SmallSuccesses,  check out CatholicMom.com!

 

 

 

Sex is NOT the Nourishing Food of Marriage (but it is the apple pie a la mode)

On Friday my Facebook feed lit up with reposts of an article from Aleteia.org, written by Mr. Ryan Williams, entitled “Sex is the nourishing food of marriage,” with the subtitle, “It doesn’t come as the result of other acts of charity in a marriage; it is the cause of them.” (**Please see the editor’s note at the end of this post for an update)

WHAT???!!!

First let me say that I LOVE Aleteia. They cover awesome topics like Simone Biles regularly attending Mass, and Eucharistic Miracles in Krakow. But I must say I am questioning their judgement with this particular article.

The angry, snipey part of me wants to say: “Go figure, a man wrote this article.” Yep. An article that’s all about the “fact” that everything good in a marriage is an outgrowth of sex.

The guy doesn’t even use flowery terms like “marital intimacy,” Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 4.10.43 PM“intimate union,” or “the marital embrace.”

No. He just baldly refers to it as “sex,” the most banal, mundane term that exists for this awesome act of unity between a man and a woman.

That’s right. It is an awesome union. I REALLY LIKE the act of which we speak. A lot. But is sex the food that nourishes a marriage? Are the acts of charity in a marriage caused by sexual intimacy?

Dear Lord, I hope not.

Men and Women Aren’t the Same

If Mr. Williams hasn’t figured this out, he probably needs to, in order to keep his marriage happy. For men, he may be 99% right. Goodness knows it seems as though a man can think very little of his wife one minute, and want to jump between the sheets the next.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 4.06.12 PMFor women, however, it’s a very different story. If a husband has mistreated, ignored, or maligned his wife, she most likely will want nothing to do with the marital act. If they haven’t spent “quality time” together recently, she will very often want nothing to do with sex. We women are generally sexually attracted to the person who makes us feel loved, important, and cherished. If these needs aren’t being fulfilled, intimacy will often be toward the bottom of the list of things we’d like to do in our spare time.

Good to Better, Better to Great

If things are relatively okay, sex can make them good. If things are good, sex can make them great. And if things are great, sex can bring husband and wife to a physical and a spiritual intimacy that can be known in no other way on God’s green earth.

However…

Sometimes Sex Isn’t on the Menu

If sex were the “nourishing food of marriage,” from which all acts of charity arise, how would a man ever care for his elderly wife suffering from Alzheimers, who no longer recognizes him as her husband? How could he possibly change her diapers, spoon-feed her, and help her in the shower?

If sex were the “nourishing food of marriage,” how can a woman caring for her brain-injured husband help him to “re-learn his history,” oversee his therapy,  and sort out all of his medications? How could she remain patient (albeit imperfectly) when his reactions are inappropriate and disinhibited?

Are these couples less married because they can’t partake in the marital act?

From where do these caregivers’ many acts of charity arise? Mr. Williams would have us believe that such acts cannot, in fact, exist because these couples aren’t uniting fully in their marital bed!

Let’s look at this from a different angle

A priest is married to the church. If acts of charity in marriage arise only out of sexual union, as this article would have us believe, how on earth can a priest carry out his duties of endless self-donative love for his parishioners and Christ’s people?

Likewise, a nun is married to Christ, united with Him in a holy union unlike any that we married folk will ever understand. She performs countless charitable acts for her students, strangers, the poor, the disabled. How can she possibly perform these acts when she can not make love to her Beloved?

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 3.57.41 PMHow?

And just consider for a moment the Holy Family, the most perfect family ever to exist on this earth, upon which we are meant to model our own families. If charitable acts flow only from sexual intimacy, how was Mary able to serve Joseph, and Joseph able to serve Mary?

Sex: The Apple Pie a la Mode of Marriage

I’d like to counter Mr. Williams’s with the argument that sex is not the nourishing food of marriage. To try to stick with the “food” analogy, I’d argue that, for us dessert lovers, sex is the apple pie a la mode of marriage – the pièce de résistance which more fully unites us, which makes us feel more wholly one.

But there are many other wonderful delicacies on our menu, even if Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 4.42.59 PMwe’re not enjoying dessert. There’s the meat and potatoes of long hugs and extended kisses. There’s the delicious mozzarella sticks of holding hands. There’s the  delectable fresh bread of laying in bed spooned into one another, even though you know this cuddle is going absolutely nowhere.

We can still have a perfectly wonderful meal, even if apple pie isn’t on the menu. In fact, skipping dessert while more fully exploring other menu options can lead us to a better understanding of what we both enjoy, while also leaving us feeling more satisfied and maybe even a little healthier.

Likewise, a marriage can be strengthened through abstinence, whether it’s forced or voluntary. The acknowledgement that our union transcends beyond the physical and can survive the lack of the physical can increase trust and improve our ability to give selflessly. Moreover, it can help us to recognize that our ultimate goal and responsibility is to aid our spouse on their journey toward the ecstasies of the heavenly kingdom, rather than toward the ecstasies of the world.

With all this in mind, I would ask Mr. Williams, and all married people, to consider the roll sex plays in their lives and marriages. Can your marriage survive – and thrive – without it?

If it can’t, I suggest that you consider broadening your menu.

**Editor’s note: The article referenced on Aleteia has been changed since I originally wrote this post, for which I am extremely grateful.*** The article no longer states that “Sex is the nourishing food of marriage,” but that “Sex is kind of like the nourishing food of marriage.” (emphasis mine) The subheading has also been changed, from indicating that sex is “the cause” of charitable acts, but that sex is “a cause” of charitable acts. This is a huge distinction, drastically changing the meaning of the article, in my opinion. Thank you to Aleteia and Mr. Williams for clarifying the author’s intent. I do not know whether the body of the post has been substantially changed. In the interest of editorial integrity, I will leave my post unchanged.

***another Editor’s note: I initially indicated that I “was extremely grateful” that the article’s title and subtitle had been changed. Upon reflection, I realized that’s not true. I’m actually extremely ticked that the article would be so substantially changed. In this “blogosphere,” changing articles substantially is not okay. I’m grateful that the clarification was made, but wish that it had been done in a way that was more honest and respectful of the original content and context.

Small Success Thursday – My First!

Trying out another new linkup today and I must say that I LOVE the idea of this particular linkup! All of us have small successes to celebrate, if we will only open our eyes to look beyond the failures. Here are three of mine from this week.

Small Success #1 – I’ve Been Praying More

I’ll admit. It’s been a little hit or miss lately. Regular readers will understand why. But, the fact of the matter is that prayer saved my life (figuratively) and, I believe, my husband’s (literally). Therefore, the importance of returning to that solid prayer foundation, even while we’re still in a  little bit of crisis-mode, has been weighing heavily on my mind.

Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of war.-3The conference I went to at the end of July convicted me on one thing. We must pray the Rosary. Every day. By ourselves, in community, with our families. However, whenever. We must do it. And yet we don’t do it. Even this “Rosary girl” had fallen into a bad habit of going to bed at night even if I hadn’t prayed my daily Rosary. My greatest small success of the last two weeks, therefore, is that I’ve prayed at least five decades every day, sometimes with Ray, sometimes with the kids, sometimes by myself at midnight because I refuse to go to bed if I haven’t done it. It’s amazing how that practice helps to bring peace into my home and my life.

Probably as an outgrowth of my renewed Rosary habit, I made it to Adoration last week, I went to Reconciliation, and I’ve gotten up early every day to read the daily Mass readings, pray, journal, and otherwise spend quality time with my Beloved. The hardest part is tearing myself away.

While I’m still woefully imperfect, these practices make me a much better wife and mama.

Small Success #2 – Of the Professional Sort

It’s been a good week professionally, too. I learned that my proposalScreen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.36.12 PM
to speak at the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) annual conference next April was accepted. They apparently receive a lot of proposals, so I’m pretty geeked that mine made the cut. My topic will be “The Power of Fiction to Change Hearts and Minds.” Please let me know in the comments if there’s a fiction I should read as I prepare, especially (but not limited to) any Catholic fiction.

I also spent three glorious hours Wednesday night, staying up until 1:30 in the morning, working on character development and the plot outline for my next book. I think I’m on to something, and that feeling is pretty amazing.

Small Success #3 – I’m Finally Getting Organized

Having Ray home has given organization a new urgency, since brain injury survivors thrive with routine and a schedule. For the last few weeks, I’ve been relatively successful at providing a daily schedule, and sticking to it. This week, I’ve used my old-fashioned Franklin Planner to keep track of important tasks and appointments. Far fewer things are falling through the cracks, and I feel much less overwhelmed. Last weekend, this extended to my pantry, when I finally broke down and organized it (and found tiny bugs eating the dog food. Lovely).

It feels SO GOOD to open that door and be able to see the floor. It feels even better to know that I’ve killed all those slimy nasty little insects.

These are just a few of my #smallsuccesses of the past week. Please share yours in the comments! And, for more small successes from other great bloggers, visit CatholicMom.com!

#WorthRevisit – Rollerskating with my Father

Looking back a few years to a post that’s “worth revisiting.”

A couple of weeks ago, I took my six year old son to his school’s roller skating party.   Being six months pregnant, I had no intention of skating.  However, my heart broke as I watched the poor guy trying to stay up on his skates, falling every couple of yards.  I couldn’t possibly leave him to do this on his own, and I decided to take the risk, figuring that I could protect my belly and the worst that was likely to happen was a broken wrist.

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Me and that “little boy,” now twelve years old!

So I joined Zachary on the skating floor and held his hand as we went around in circles, skating to the music.  Before long, he was able to make it several laps without hitting the floor.   Of course, there were times when I decided that the safest and best thing to do was to let him fall. There were other times when he began to fall, but I was able to hold onto him and keep him upright.  Several times, he got a little irritated with me, saying that I was hurting his wrist by holding him up.  Nonetheless, after a few songs, Zach shouted up to me, “Mommy, it’s easier when I’m holding your hand.”

Of course, that warmed my heart.  It also made the embarrassment of feeling like a whale in roller skates well worth it.

But a thought struck me and I considered it as we skated, drawing many parallels to our situation.  Life is easier when I’m holding onto my Father’s hand.  This is especially true in new or difficult situations, but even when I am coasting through life and everything seems to be going well, it’s great to have His companionship, someone with whom I can skate along, talking and enjoying the music of life.

As long as I continue to skate side by side with Him, following His path, I will be less likely to fall.  At times, he will hold me up, preventing my fall.  Sometimes, that might not feel so good to me, just like my vice grip on Zach’s hand didn’t feel good to him.  Those times are unanswered prayers, or answers that I don’t care for, or times when following God’s will is not the easy thing to do.  Jesus going to the cross in accordance with the Father’s will is the prime example.

Other times, He will let me fall, to learn a lesson that must be learned in order for me to grow closer to Him and more like Jesus.  When I fall, I have two choices – I can sit on the ground, wallow in my misery, and let all of the other skaters (a.k.a. the cares of this world) run over me.  Or I can look up, seek God’s hand once again, and with His help rise above the painful tumble.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matt 7:9-10)  Just as I saw my son having a rough time and went to help him,  our Father is always there to help us.  Only He helps us perfectly – every time we need it, to the degree we need it, in the manner in which we need it.

Are you skating hand in hand with your Father?  Or, have you gotten caught up in the music and you’re rushing ahead of him?  Perhaps you’re reluctant to follow a path He is trying to guide you down, and so you are lagging behind.  Have the cares of this world plowed you over?  Look up.  He’s holding out His hand.

For most #worthrevisit posts, check out the link up on Allison Gingras’s Reconciled to You Blog.

An Honest Look at the Life of One Catholic Mommy