Responding to God’s Call

Last week when I was changing Bonita’s sheets, I was only a little surprised to find a mound of clothes under the bed.  I recognized that pile, and knew that I had told her to put them away in one of those, “We aren’t going to the museum until your room is clean” moments.

Seeing that pile gave me a good laugh.  It’s so typical of most children – rather than taking the few minutes that would have been required to put those clothes in the drawer, she threw them under the bed, then spent the next week complaining that she didn’t have clean socks, pj’s or underwear.

I was also quick to recognize the child within myself, who puts off tasks, when life would be so much easier if I just did them when they first presented themselves.

If you’ve read “Dead Fish Doesn’t Get Better with Age,” you know that this is a recurring theme for me.   But this time, it struck me a little deeper.

In our lives, I think that each of us, if we’re open to hearing it, will see very clear directions that God wants us to take.  For some, it might be a vocation to the Priesthood, religious life, or to be a missionary, a doctor, or a public servant.  Sometimes, it’s something smaller, like telling a crying stranger that you’ll pray for them, or inviting a non-Catholic friend to Mass.

What is God calling you to do?
(I wonder, if He was calling this lovely gal, if he might be saying, “raise your blouse line and fix that hair do?”)
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Having spent the initial thirty years of my life confident of my own self-sufficiency, the first time I felt that God was telling me to do something was when He called me to the Catholic Church.   Three years later, when I felt another calling, I was quick to get started.  But then life happened.  Matters that seemed more pressing arose, and that calling ended up thrown under the bed, much like Bonita’s pile of clothes.

A couple of months ago, Christ lifted the dust ruffle and brought “that calling” to the forefront of my attention.  Having made great progress, I’ve been joyously amazed at how God has blessed the effort.

As Christians, we must constantly remain open to God’s call, and be ready to respond.  The scriptures are full of examples:  Joseph’s immediate response to the angel’s instructions to take Mary into his home and to flee to Egypt (Matt 1:18-25 and 2:13-15); the call of the first disciples (Matt 4:18-22); the waiters at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11).  Even blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel took action and  got up” (Mark 10:46-52).

My prayer today is for me, and for you, and for all Christians: That we will remain open to God’s call, that we will hear His voice or feel His gentle nudge, and that we will respond to it with the immediacy of Joseph, Simon, Andrew, James, and John.  That we will remain committed, never losing courage, lest we sink (Matt 14:30), and that we will always give Him everything He asks, like the waiters at Cana, filling the jars to the brim.

Late Night Musings

It’s one A.M. and my mind is running at a thousand miles an hour, thinking about the changes that are coming.  It’s starting to sink in that Ray’s new career will impact the whole family, more than the name or figure on the paycheck, the stories brought home, or the number of hours away from home.

He’s entering a whole new world of “big corporation.”  That just seems like it will… change him, somehow.  Not in a bad way, just… different.

Definitely not the happy-go-lucky bar tender I first fell in love with.

The guy with the nickname,

“Twice a day every day, stuck in the mud, double O Ray.”

You have to be a certain kind of person to earn a name like that, one with stories attached to it that his cohorts still laugh at today.

“That Guy” was always thinking of others.

“That Guy” often spendt his night’s earnings buying drinks for all his friends.

“That Guy” was always willing to do a favor, never expecting one in return.

“That Guy” was proud to have “friends in low places”, and didn’t put on any airs, beyond the ones necessary to cover scars, emotional and physical, from a mistake years ago.

Corporate culture and “That Guy” just don’t seem to go together to me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very thankful that Ray isn’t “That Guy” anymore.  “That Guy” and fatherhood wouldn’t have gone so well.  “That Guy” and a growing faith would seem an impossibility.

But sometimes I remember “That Guy”.  I remember that he helped me to loosen the fist I had clenched around college text books.  I remember that he showed me it was possible to go out the night before an exam and still get an “A”.  I remember laughing with him at the comedy club, swing dancing with him at the Blue Bird, and sharing our first guilty kiss at a back table at Yogi’s.

I like the fun loving, more laid back girl that “That Guy” helped me to become.  And I’m saddened that the responsibilities and stresses of life have made him a thing of the past.

Wednesday Whippets

All the cool bloggers seem to have cute regular blog posts, like KathleenBasi.com has “Sunday Snippets” and Shovedtothem.com has “3 1/2 Time Outs Tuesdays”. I thought I’d give this a shot but haven’t settled on a catchy name yet.

So, for today I’ll try “Wednesday Whippets”. I’m pretty sure that in some circles this refers to illegal substance abuse, though, so this could create a lot of spam. Hopefully I’ll come up with something better soon.

Anyways, here goes…

Seven Great Things in the Last Week (or so):

  1. Starting this blog. I am really enjoying writing it, and especially enjoying the interaction from the replies.
  2. Ray got a job offer yesterday.
  3. Ray got a second job offer yesterday.
  4. Ray is leaning toward the more stable option, with great benefits.  As a mama bear of four, I like stable with great benefits.
  5. I finished the rough draft of my book, and shared it with my mom’s group today.  That’s a big step – opening up and sharing what I’ve written for all to see.  It felt really good.
  6. When the man at the book store asked me what I do, I told him that, in addition to being a mother, I’m also a writer.  That’s the first time I’ve ever said those words.  That felt good, too.
  7. My mother-in-law’s heart surgery today appears to have been successful.  After a completely wasted surgery a few weeks ago, we are especially grateful for the success of this one.  Please do send up a prayer for her recovery!
  8. Ray got two job offers.  Did I mention that?  And did I say seven great things?
This illustrates my reaction when Ray got his job offers. In reality, this is Isaac’s celebration of new flip flops.

Three Things to Pray for:

  1. All families who have lost children.
  2. All families who are struggling with mental illness.
  3. Our country.

Shout Outs:

  1. St. Jude: His feast day is coming up, and I’ve been praying a novena to him with Praymorenovenas.com.  The intention of the novena is the unemployed and underemployed.  So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Ray got two job offers. Thanks, St. Jude!
  2. Our Lady of Sorrows:  Because Keyser pooped out that sock while I was meditating on her sorrows.   No coincidence there, though I do hate to put Our Lady and “poop” in the same line.
  3. Zach and Morgan: For stellar report card performance, including Zach’s remarkable comeback from a very difficult start in math.  Good job, guys!

A Little Respect, Please

On two recent occasions we’ve had the opportunity to sit in front of people who felt that the time following communion was a good time to catch up on football scores or babysitting arrangements.  And I don’t mean just a quick tid-bit, I mean full-blown conversations.

Seriously, folks.  You’re adults.  Or, at least purport to be.  Does this seem OK to you?

Do you realize the impact you are having on the Mass experience of everyone around you? I am distracted by your conversation.  I wish I weren’t, but I am.  I imagine I’m not the only one.  I know that my children hear you, and they’re wondering why it’s OK for you to talk when they’re not allowed to.

Don’t you get it?  Do you understand what a gift you have been given?  You are part of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church!  Christ established this Church for YOU upon the Rock of Peter! He died for you so that your sins could be forgiven, and he rose again so that YOU may have eternal life with him in Heaven!  He gave you his Flesh as true food and his Blood as true drink! You just received that AWEsome, aMAZing, inDESCRIBable gift!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
San Leocadio Christ with the Host, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

And you show your appreciation, not by spending a few moments of silence with Him, but instead by catching up on the latest gossip!  We have so little quiet time in our lives.  Can’t we just take these few moments and savor them?  Can’t that conversation wait five minutes until Mass is over?

Seriously????  Have a little respect, please!

I suppose we should all be happy that you weren’t one of the many people who ran out of the door immediately after receiving the Eucharist.  But somehow I suddenly find myself appreciative of them.  If they’re going to be irreverent, at least they’re openly irreverent.  And maybe, just maybe, they have something going on in their lives and this was the only Mass they could make it to, and as much as they LONG to stay for the closing prayer and hymn, they have an unavoidable commitment and have absolutely no choice but to leave early.  In which case, I’m glad they had the love and respect of Christ to figure out a way to come, praise him, hear his Word, and receive his gift of the Eucharist.

But you? I simply can’t dream up an excuse why that conversation can’t wait until the car ride home.  I keep trying, but I’m coming up blank.

Yes, I’m being judgemental.  I will pray for my judgemental, gripey ways.  And I will pray for you, and for all Catholics, that we will all come to a greater appreciation of the great gift we have in the Mass.

Christ, have mercy.

 

 

Meet Keyser

Meet Keyser.  We think he’s a two year old yellow lab or lab mix.  We know that he’s a complete pain in the rear end, who’s eaten at least twenty socks in the year we’ve had him.  He has major bladder control issues and regularly piddles on the floor.  He has chewed up two sets of earbuds, numerous remote controls, books, and stuffed animals.  He has eaten loaves of bread, sticks of butter, countless bagels, and licked many, many plates that the children neglected to bring to the sink.  He runs away at every opportunity, and two-year-old Mary Lise does love to give him opportunities. He constantly bugs us for attention, but won’t stay still long enough for us to give it to him.  He chases after bugs, balls, and leaves with no concern for what might happen to the human on the other end of his leash.  Our walks have given the neighbors many occasions for laughter.

So all of you dog lovers will understand why he’s become such an important part of our family and why the thought of losing him tears me apart.

Two weeks ago, he had surgery to remove two plastic dragonflies, about 1.5 by 2 inches each, one from his stomach, the other from his intestine, both connected by a string, courtesy of the kids.  The greatest danger following the surgery was that the stitches in the intestines might not hold because it’s such a thin tissue.  Signs of a problem would most likely appear within 5 to 8 days.  I was so relieved when we made it to day 9.

But Friday one of the kids took their socks off and laid them on the craft table.  A while later, only one sock was left.

Three weeks ago, this would have been no big deal.  I would have been totally confident that Keyser had eaten it and it would come out the other end the following day.  Now, with those weakened intestines, I’m still totally confident that he’s eaten the sock, just not so confident that he’ll successfully pass it through.

Two days later, still no sign of that sock.

The first surgery tapped us out, and a second surgery is not an option.  Please pray for Keyser – that he will pass that stinking sock.  And please pray for our family if he doesn’t.

Update Monday, October 22nd:

I never thought I’d get so excited about poop!  But I was nearly dancing in the streets this morning when Keyser finally passed that sock!  I mean, literally laughing out loud with a giant smile plastered across my face.  The neighbors had to wonder.

Incidentally, I was praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary at the time.  I don’t believe for a moment that that was a coincidence.  Thank you, Blessed Mother!

Dead Fish Doesn’t Get Better With Age

When I realized he was dead, I couldn’t find the fish net.  So, I waited until the kids got home to ask them where it might be.  They didn’t know, so we waited until Ray got home.  No clue.  So we waited.

The weekend was busy, and we still hadn’t found the net.  The fish floated up from the bottom of the tank and got stuck in the filter.  I unplugged the filter.  I didn’t want to touch the little bugger, and I couldn’t find the net.  So we waited.

Sunday night I began to feel sick.  Monday found me spending most of the day in bed.  Tuesday my sisters and I put the puzzle pieces together.  Lunch on Friday.  All three had salads.  All three got sick Sunday night.  No one else was sick.  Food poisoning.

A funny thing about food poisoning.  The last thing you want to do is remove a five day dead fish from a dirty fish tank.  So we waited.

Saturday was the first day I felt well enough to look at the fish tank, but still no sign of that net.  Yes, it was time to figure out an alternative retrieval methodology.  But Zach had a football game somewhere near Egypt, Ray went on a three hour expedition to buy a new pair of dress shoes (Three hours?  Seriously?  How many pairs of shoes could you could buy in three hours… without kids????), and then I had to make a super-presto-quick trip to Costco before the party at the neighbors’.  So we waited.

Sunday… well, read the previous post and you’ll understand Sunday.  So we waited.

Monday morning finally found me back to one hundred percent (No ill effects from the raw chicken.  Hallelujah!).  My first priority in getting the house back in order after my bout with illness was to clean the bathrooms.  Lo and behold, someone had stuck the net in with the bathroom cleaning supplies.  So… I put the net back where it belonged.  ‘Cause once you’ve waited that long to throw out the dead fish, it just won’t hurt to wait a weeeee little bit longer.

A few hours later, I glanced at the fish tank and thought I caught a whiff of dead fish.  Time to stop waiting.

My dad always says, “Bad news isn’t like wine.  It doesn’t get better with age.”  Great words of wisdom.

And let me tell you, dead fish doesn’t get better with age, either.

As I started to think about it, I realized that this can be applied to any number of things…

A dirty, unchanged diaper… doesn’t get better with age.

Moldy food in the refrigerator… doesn’t get better with age.

The spot where the boy missed the toilet… doesn’t get better with age.

A thank you letter unsent…

A gift ungiven…

Tomorrow, I resolve to identify one “dead fish”, stop letting that sucker float out there, constantly weighing me down with the “Oh, crap! I really need to do that!” and just “Get. ‘Er. Done”.

I Love Wine

I did it again.

I drank too much last night.

I wasn’t trying to get drunk, I just really love wine.  And when you’re at a social gathering, it’s just so much more comfortable to have a drink in your hand, and yes, I could have opted for water, but that wasn’t out.  I would have actually had to ask for it…

So here I am, another Sunday afternoon, nursing a headache.  I was laying in my darkened bedroom trying to take a nap, when my lecture to myself starting playing through my head and I thought it might be helpful to get it down on “paper.”

Honestly, I don’t even think I was drunk last night.  I think I’m developing an allergy to wine, or maybe it’s just old age, but it seems like I’m inevitably hung over the next day if I have more than one or two glasses.

Which, I suppose, means I should cut myself off at one or two glasses…

It doesn’t help that I unknowingly ate raw chicken (long story, but I do mean raw) and Ray’s fix was to drink alcohol because it would kill the germs.  Man, I hope it worked.  All I know is my stomach’s rolling and I don’t know if it’s Sauvignon or salmonella.

Next Saturday night I will do better.  Father M may be coming to dinner.  Perhaps that will help my restraint?

What are those fruits again?

  • Charity
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Faithfulness
  • Modesty
  • Chastity

And

Oh, yeah,

  • Self-Control

My First Post – Welcome

Welcome to A Few Beads Short!  My name is Stephanie, wife of one and mother of four.

I’ve been playing around in the blogosphere for a few years now, but never really felt like I had found my niche.  You see, I started my first blog, marthasheart.com, with the goal to help all of us “Marthas”… people who get too caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of what really matters.  And if I do say so myself there are some lovely posts on that site.  But I think I lost sight of the goal and got too caught up in trying to present the image of a “Mary” rather than fully owning up to my “early Martha-ism.” (I specify “early” since Martha did catch on, and much more quickly than I have.)

I found myself feeling that I always had to inspire.

I found myself wanting to present a good example.

I found myself feeling hypocritical if I posted on a day when I had lost my patience with my kids or been shrewish with my husband.

And so I found myself often unable to write.

But then one night a couple of weeks ago my girlfriend Denice launched on a tirade about the seeming perfection of Catholic moms in the blogosphere.  “All of these moms have twelve kids, they home school, they go to daily Mass, and their kids sit perfectly still all the way through.  The kids are excited to dress like saints for Halloween and have never played a video game.  I mean, that’s great and all, but there’ve gotta be some real moms out there!  I’m tired of reading about perfect people. I want someone I can actually relate to!”

And thus A Few Beads Short was born.  I present to you myself as I truly am…

Impatient

Quick to anger

Sometimes judgmental

Always imperfect.

No, this blog will not be a constant rundown of all my shortcomings.  I’m a strong believer in the negative effects of moral relativism.

But it will be an honest look at the life of one Catholic mom.

A mom who struggles to make her new-found faith a constant part of her journey.

A mom who spent most of her life thinking “me, me, me” and now wants to think, “Him, Him, Him.”

A mom who frequently screws up, but, thanks be to God, sometimes manages to get it right.

That’s who I am, and that’s who I’ll give you.

Stay tuned.

(Please note that I have edited the blog’s name, changing it from “The Honest Catholic”.  I quickly realized that that name didn’t summarize the mission of the blog, totally lacked catchiness, and sounded like I was comparing myself to Honest Abe.  Which I’m not!  Though, I do hope in my lifetime to be some small part of freeing a few people from slavery, just a different type of slavery!)