NaNoWriMo, Insanity, and Inspiration

So, I might just be completely insane, but I’ve signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who (like me a year ago) have never heard of it.  Participants sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November.

That’s 1666.66667 words a day.

And I struggle to write a 350 word post each week.

And I’ve never written fiction.

Even in second grade, when I won the Young Author’s Award (yeah, look at me steaming up my nails and brushing them on my pajama shirt), it was a true story about my dog Tasha’s near brush with death.  It was cleverly titled, “My Dog Tasha”.  The pictures were great.  Wonder where that is?  (Geesh, and we moms worry about keeping every little picture our kids sign their names to!)

So, anyways… sometimes (OK, always, you just have to be looking for it) God gives you just what you need, and I think this might be one of those times.

This is going to seem a bit circuitous, but here goes:

I’ve been working on writing a Bible study for a few years now.  But, I felt terribly under-qualified.  The idea of getting a Masters in Theology has been playing in the back of my head for quite some time and recently really began to take shape – to the point of investigating schools, getting pricing, looking at scholarship info, and even – gasp! – sharing my desire with Ray (fearing that he would wig out since we’re still paying on his college loans – don’t even talk to me about saving for the kids’ college!)

Clearly, we are not in a position to send me to school to the tune of $12K or more.

So, I began to pray: “God, if you want me to do this, please show me the path.”

A few days later, I was looking at a publisher’s website and saw that they are specifically looking for Catholic teen fiction.  That sort of clicked with me in a scary sort of way.  Scary because, while the idea of writing fiction has popped in my head a few times lately, writing teen fiction was never part of my thought process.

Exciting because… I thought, “Hmmmm….  I might be able to do that.”  And,  “How cool would it be to impact a young person, about to embark on a lifetime of choices?”

If only I had an idea to get started.

So I prayed, “God, if you want me to do this, you’ve gotta give me an idea.  ‘Cause I sure don’t have one!”

And then, Saturday morning, a new Twitter friend, @Catholici_T, tweeted me, “@afewbeadsshort, but have you ever pondered the power of just a single bead of the Rosary?”

My first thought was, “Great thought!  I think I’ll make a blog post of that!”  And I still might.

But after letting the idea roll around in my head for a few hours, it turned into a Catholic teen novel.  What d’ya know?  Maybe God does want me to write this.

I’m an “all in” kind of gal.  It’s either all or none for me.  So, writing a novel in a month seems like a good way for me to go about it.  Here goes.  T minus 35 hours and counting.


Imaginary Friends

When we shipped the oldest three off to school in August, Boo was left at loose ends. As the youngest of four, she’s simply never had to play by herself. This has left me a little ragged. I do not believe that mothers are meant to be playmates, yet I completely understand her boredom. So, I’ve been riding the line between good, healthy mama and helicopter mom. Helping her with puzzles, playing games, doing our home preschool, and – of course – all the running that motherhood requires, all the while also trying to encourage her to learn to play independently.

Then, by the grace of God, Abby appeared.

She came out of nowhere, following a day when Boo had played with a friend named Abby at Mom’s Group. A few days later, Abba started playing with them as well.

Boo, Abby and Abba. They’re quite a team.

Abby and Abba eat lunch with us, have frequent sleepovers at our house, and quite often they are responsible for the messes I find in the basement. Dumped over bins of Barbie accessories, scattered Legos, the doll house lying on its side… “Boo, did you make this mess?” “No, Mommy. It was Abby and Abba.”

OK, so my daughter is learning to lie to me at a terribly young age. But you’ve got to appreciate her imagination.

Most of all, one must appreciate the hours of entertainment provided by these two renegade imaginary friends.

I am happy to set two extra places at the table, happy to buckle an extra seat belt here and there, happy to extend a “hello” to a friend I can’t see. But there’s a limit to how far I’m willing to go.

Here’s our conversation yesterday:

“Mom. I need to go potty.”

“Ok, honey. Go potty.”

“Me and my fwiend need help.”

There you have it. That’s my limit. I draw the line at wiping imaginary bottoms.

Does your child have an imaginary friend? What’s the funniest thing they’ve ever done?



Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

I’m kicking myself for failing to purchase the book I heard about a few months ago that gave ideas for celebrating the liturgical calendar in the home, and as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary drew near, I tried over the weekend to think of a meal that would mark the celebration.

So here’s the best thing I could come up with, but – while it gave me and Ray a good laugh – it is way too irreverent. Can you guess from the photo what my idea was? I don’t have anything to give away, but I’ll pray a Rosary for the intentions of the first person to accurately guess. 😉

I did consider making an edible rosary out of grapes and blueberries, but never made it to the store to purchase supplies. We made pony bead rosaries last year, so I couldn’t see doing that again, and we’ll be making rosary holders at Becoming Girls in two days, so that was out too. Alas, we marked the day by simply placing a statue of the Blessed Mother, with a rosary around her feet, in the center of the kitchen table. Bonita had a rose from her weekend performance, so I put that next to Mary as well. We prayed a decade in the car on the way to school, and the kids prayed a full rosary at school.

Are there moms out there who did better. I’m sure there are! But I’ll celebrate my small successes – and try to find that book so I can do better next time! (Let me know if you have any suggestions, please!)

Another small success: I wrote this post entirely from my phone – a first for me! The app crashed twice on me, but saved all my changes so no biggy!

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 sucks.  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.

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!  If you can, your a saint and I want to know you better – in hopes of soaking in some of your reflected light!  Clearly, I have work to do (as all of us do), and this has illuminated an area of opportunity for me.  And 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 afliction 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