Category Archives: Growing

The Year of Change: 2014

Wow. Looking back at 2014 is, quite frankly, mind boggling. It was a year filled with changes and events that I never would have foreseen.

By the end of January, Ray and I could only look forward and pray that the rest of 2014 wouldn’t bring more of the same. I wrecked my car on New Year’s Day, we were snowed in for a third of the month, and we lost Ray’s dearest friend.

first day of school
First day of school

Fortunately, the worst of it was over. We didn’t know it, but we had lots to look forward to. Heading into the new year, Ray and I were considering a move. However, we thought we’d be moving a few miles. No big deal. By February, however, I was beginning to feel that the move needed to be a bigger one, and within a few weeks we had made the decision to move across town, change parishes, and enroll the children in a different school. By November, we were moved into our new home. Talk about change!

In preparation for the move, I purged like crazy. I finally accepted the idea that our IMG_8188.JPGfamily was complete, and I would not be having any more children. I gave away the bassinet, the pack-n-play, the stroller… not knowing that, even as I was giving stuff away, a child was growing within me. God certainly does have a sense of humor, and a way of reminding you just who’s in control!

Learning that our family would soon be expanding led me to one certain knowledge… I could not ask Ray to shoulder the financial burden of a family of seven alone. But what does a pregnant mother of four do to earn money? I was stumped, but my sister had the answer, and I started a freelance writing business. My sister’s husband’s business was my first client, and my client base has grown, thanks largely to their networking and support. I have found myself writing on topics ranging from health and wellness, to insurance, industrial painting, entrepreneurship and the oil business. I feel incredibly blessed to have found a way to make money doing what I love to do.

To top that off, against all odds, my first novel was actually picked up by the very publisher who, in a roundabout way, sparked the idea for the book in the first place. The editing process has been a bit slow – I’m still waiting to receive the editing requests from the publisher – yet, I’m hopeful that we’re still on target for a January, 2016 release date.

My “One Word” for 2014 was Surrender. Looking back, it is easy for me to see how that word served me throughout the year. I stopped trying to have control over everything, OneWord2014SURRENDERand let God take the reigns of my life, instead. It could have been scary at times, (okay, it was scary at times) but as I learned surrender, I also learned trust. As I look back at 2014, I can see how God’s hand guided us through changes and difficult decisions. I can see unanswered prayers that, had they been answered, might have ended disastrously, and I can see how God blessed us in completely unexpected ways.

I’ve tried to analyze the changes, with various degrees of success. The bottom line is this: Even though we miss our friends and neighbors from our old community, our children are, for whatever reason, happier at their new school. Our family is, for whatever reason, more peaceful at our new house. A year that started with tragedy ends with new beginnings.

Looking into 2015, my experiences in 2014 leave me with one certainty: Only God knows what the next year will bring. Two scripture verses have been my mantra throughout this past year, and they have served me well: “Not my will, Lord, but yours,” (Luke 22:42) and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov 3:5). Whatever 2015 may bring, I pray that God will provide the grace to continue to live according to these verses, not just in the big decisions and changes, but in the ordinary moments of every day.

I’ll end with a few pictures highlighting other events of 2014:

Bonita celebrated her First Communion…

20140613-083440-30880036.jpgBear busted his head open while riding bikes at Nana’s house, but look at what a trooper that kid is!

busted headDude and his teammates achieved not one, but TWO championships – one in baseball, the other in football. Here he is sporting his baseball trophy.

ChampionBoo started preschool. You can see how sad she was to leave Momma…

Mary Lise first day of preschoolThe dog nearly died. Not once, not twice, but THREE times. First, it was something he ate, the second… well, I’m not really sure. The third appears to have been pneumonia, from which he is still recuperating. Here he is on the day of our move into the new house, hoping to drive me home after a stop at the grocery.

Keyser drivingWe celebrated a wonderful Christmas…

kids Christmas 2014And the very next day, Ray and I celebrated my fortieth birthday with a romantic evening out…

ray and steph on stephs fortieth

How would you summarize your 2014? What are your hopes for 2015? I’d love to hear about it… just leave a note in the comments section, below!

Thanks for being a part of our 2014. I pray that you will have a wonderful 2015! Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s So Good at Teaching Us Humility

Wednesday afternoon, I got some of the most awesome news of my life.

My publisher of choice – the one that caused the initial spark of an idea for even writing fiction – is going to offer me a contract to publish my book!!!!

To say I was excited would be a major understatement. Jubilant, elated, ecstatic… leaping around the kitchen while screaming my head off… that would begin to describe my reaction.

I called Ray, sent a text to my sisters and parents, and an email to my prayer warrior mom’s group, whose prayers I had requested for the book.  I reveled in the glory while I prepared a quick lunch and got us ready to run a few errands. Published! I am going to be published! My name is going to be on the front of a book cover, my picture on the back. Words that I wrote will be available for sale across the United States… and beyond!

I beamed my way through getting Boo into the car and off we were on our way to the stores. I forgot one thing… in the midst of a huge fit, during which Boo was demanding the Kindle Fire, I had placed the device in question on top of my car. I was taking the dog out, and it was the one handy place I could think of that she wouldn’t attempt to climb to in order to get her desired toy. This happened about five minutes before that wonderful email from the publisher, and I just completely spaced it.

Fast forward an hour and a half, and we’re driving down a country road when I hear “Ker klunk, ker klunk!” from the top of my car. Bewildered, I looked in my side view mirror just in time to see something black fly from my car to the side of the road. The Kindle.

I turned the car around and parked in the driveway of the home whose yard I thought I was passing at the time. I climbed out of the car and began to look . Unfortunately, the area is hopelessly overgrown, and I had no idea whether to look up, or to look down. Did the Kindle have enough lift coming off of the car that it could have caught on a tree branch? Or was it more likely to be in a ditch? Was it lodged under the pile of dead branches, or had it made it further beyond the tree line? I had no idea.

The kind home owner happened to come down the driveway, having already planned to work on cleaning the area up that afternoon, and he helped in the search for a while. After a humbling half hour spent walking up and down the roadside, picking through branches and trash, all while wearing a skirt and sandals, I finally had to give up. I gave the kind man my phone number, just in case (and because I’m in the habit of giving strange men my number), and drove off, now in a rush to complete my shopping before a scheduled meeting.

I’ve long recognized that humility is an area for growth for me, as I’ve mentioned once or twice. As I’ve prayed for the successful publication of this book, I’ve tried to remember to also pray that God would keep me humble through the process, remembering always that they aren’t really my words, but His, that it wasn’t my idea, but the Spirit’s, and that, without God, I can do nothing.

My losing the Kindle, feeling embarrassed as I searched high and low on a rather busy country road, and having to confess the loss to the children… and Ray… that was God’s way of saying, “I’ve got this Steph. One way or another, child, I’ll keep reminding you that you’re not all that. In fact, my beloved daughter, you are nothing… without Me.”

Thanks, God. Got it. For now, at least.

Jeremiah’s Dirty Loincloth and Christian Obedience

In Jeremiah 13, God told the prophet Jeremiah to go and buy himself a linen loincloth, wear it, but don’t wash it.  So Jeremiah did.

Click!
Michelangelo’s Jeremiah, from the Sistine Chapel, image courtesy Web Gallery of Art, www.wga.hu

Next, God told him to go to the Parath and bury the loincloth.  So Jeremiah did.

Finally, after some lengthy period of time, God told him to go retrieve the buried loincloth.  And so Jeremiah did.

Most of us would have responded to God’ first command with, “But, why?  Why do you want me to buy this loincloth?  Does it have to be linen?  I prefer silk.  And why can’t I wash it?  That’s gross.  How about if I wear it for a few days – I’ll even spring for three.  Then I’ll just put it in a bag, carefully sealed, so the stink doesn’t escape.”

To the second command, we might have responded, “The Parath is a long ways away.  I’ll go, but only if I have a horse and chariot to carry me there.  And food for the journey.  And a place to stay overnight, so I can be well rested.  As a matter of fact, isn’t it silly to go all that way, just to bury a piece of dirty cloth?  How about if I bury it in the desert, just outside the city, or – better yet – in my back yard?  Surely, that would work, Lord, right?  You don’t really want me to have to go all that way, I’m sure of it!”

And to the third, we’d likely have said, “Oh, come on!  Enough of this already!  I did what you wanted the first two times – or near enough.  Now you want me to go unearth the thing?  It’ll probably have bugs on it, it’ll be even dirtier than it was before, and I doubt I can even find it in the first place!  And if you want me to wear it afterward, you’d better believe I’m going to wash it first!”

God asks our obedience in all matters.  Obedience to God is never blind, but rather trusting, trusting that He will never lead us astray, but lead us to sanctification.  Even when we do not understand why we must do this thing or that thing, or not do this thing or that thing, we must trust that our obedience will never lead us away from God, but toward him.

In what matters do you find obedience difficult?  For many of us, it might be the Church’s teaching on contraception, marriage between a man and a woman, drunkenness, intimacy outside of marriage, divorce, or to attend Mass regularly and go to confession.

Or, perhaps, it’s obedience to that nudge of the Spirit to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, or to forgive willingly.

Obedience is never easy, nor is it meant to be.  It is through the trials of obedience that we draw closer to Christ, clinging to him as the Israelites failed to do in Jeremiah’s time, and as many (most?) of us fail to do in our time as well.

When Jeremiah unearthed the loincloth, he found that it had rotted.  The Lord spoke to him, saying, “So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot… This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods… shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing.” (Jer. 13:9-10)

Does that sound to you like it could easily be an indictment of the people of our age?  In some matters, is it an indictment of you and of me?

The Lord also said to Jeremiah, “For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me… to be my people, my beauty.  But they did not listen.” (Jer. 13:11)

We were made to cling to God – to Christ.  We were made to be His people, His beauty.

May we listen.

 

This post was added to July’s Catholic Blogger Blitz.  For more great Catholic blogs, click the link below!

2014 Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz

 

 

 

Don’t Read This Post if You Don’t Need a Miracle

I’m seriously nearly giddy that it’s March 24th.  Because tomorrow is March 25th.  And you know what March 25th is, right?

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION!

OK, OK, I do get moderately excited about any Marian feast, but I’m especially excited because I finally get to start praying the Impossible Novena again.

What’s the Impossible Novena, you ask?  Well, I learned about it a year ago from my friend Katie over at Noise in the Neighborhood.  In fact, she beat me to the punch and posted about it again earlier this evening.

Here’s the 4-1-1:  It’s a nine month novena.

Yes, you heard me.  Not nine days.  Not nine weeks.  Nine months.  ‘Cause that’s how long it took for baby Jesus to be born, ya dig?

And since His birth was miraculous, and there are three Persons in the Trinity, you choose three big, seemingly impossible, miracles for which you would like to pray.

Of the three miracles for which I prayed last year, two of them were answered in a tangible way.  The third was difficult to quantify, but I do believe that it was answered as well.

But the most amazing part – to me – of praying this novena was the extreme graces that I received – which I was not requesting, but I was oh-so-happy to accept.  I truly believe that it was because of the Impossible Novena that I became a regular adorer, which led to my consecration to Jesus through Mary, which created a domino effect of personal growth in this still sadly far-too-many-beads-short soul.

So, you start on the Feast of the Annunciation, and end Christmas day.  However, contrary to what you might think, it was never a chore to pray this, but rather something that I looked forward to every day.  I have a terrible habit of putting my novena prayers off until just before bed, which leads to many missed days, but with this prayer, over the course of nine months, I missed only a small handful of days.

I was sad when Christmas came and the novena was over.  I even thought of just continuing on with it, but realized that sometimes yearning for good can be a very healthy experience.

And so I’ve been yearning for this prayer for three long months.  And tomorrow, I get to pray it again.

Will you join me?

The text of the novena can be found here.

Carl Heinrich Bloch - The Annunciation

The Annunciation by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

And while we’re here, allow me to throw out what a “coincidence” it is that the Hobby Lobby trial for Religious Freedom is occurring on this particular feast.  Ha!  Please join me in prayer and fasting!

 

 

 

 

Surrender for My Valentine

Surrender and Valentine’s Day?,  some might ask, incredulously.  Seriously?

Well, surrender is a funny thing.

Were I to surrender myself to the wrong thing, say sexuality, or drugs or alcohol, or the false gods of materialism and wealth, it would consume me totally. Ultimately, it would change the person I am, change my goals, change my loves, change my relationships.  It would become difficult for me to maintain relationships on more than a superficial level.

In some ways, I suppose, surrender to God is similar.  Surrender to the Lord changes me.  It changes the person I am, changes my goals, my loves, and my relationships.  Yet, our surrender to the Lord will never consume us, not in the “All used up and good for nothing else way.”  It’s an amazing thing.  Rather than being consumed – used up –  we are given more.

In fact, it is only through our total giving of ourselves to the Lord that we can totally selflessly give to others.

I’ve witnessed this first hand in these past few weeks, as my husband has grieved the tragic loss of his best friend.  I knew he needed time to grieve.  I knew that, in his grief, he needed loving arms to come home to, and caring ears to listen.  He needed the security of knowing that I was there, no matter what.

For the first few days, I was completely immersed in prayer, knowing that I could not possibly give him everything he needed without much needed support.  And, for those first few days, I must say, I was pretty spot-on.

But then I began to slip a bit.  Quite frankly, that whole self-donation thing isn’t easy, especially when the person that you’re giving, and giving, and giving to is in no shape to give anything back.  And my husband wasn’t.  In that first week, all he could do was take, and take some more, and then a bit more.  And that got hard.

We had received the news Saturday afternoon, and already, by the time I was in adoration early Tuesday, I was begging Jesus to help me overcome the anger and resentment that I was beginning to feel.  I was disappointed in myself, but I knew that I never could have gotten through the previous three days without clinging to Christ, and that I would never get through the days and weeks to come without continuing to do so, humbly aware of my own inadequacies.

And that’s when it hit me: Surrender.  I had already taken it for my “One Word 2014” two weeks prior.  At the time, I didn’t know how soon it would come into play in my life, or that my surrender would be so important to others around me.

That morning in adoration, I realized that, only by my total surrender to Christ, could I give my husband the support he needed.  Only by giving myself utterly and totally – every shred, every desire, every need- over to Christ, could I allow Him to use me as His servant in support of His precious son, Ray.  Only then could I be the hands and feet of Christ – His loving arms, His caring words, His supportive presence.

Our God is pretty awesome, isn’t He?  He’s a jealous God (Ex 34:14; Deut 6:15; et al), yet His jealousy is not like that of humans.  He doesn’t attempt to keep us for Himself, like a jealous husband or boyfriend.  Instead,  when we give ourselves to Him, He essentially multiplies us, making us more for others, and giving us back to those around us in a fullness that we can never achieve on our own.

Love and marriage are all about self-donation.  And self-donation is hard.  But we can do it, when we are surrendered to Christ.

Last Saint Valentine’s Day, I was Meek but not Milquetoast.   This Saint Valentine’s Day, I’m Surrendering to the Lord.  Perhaps not the box of chocolates or lacy lingerie that my Valentine had in mind, but I think it will serve us well in the end.

And maybe I’ll throw in some chocolate and lace just to keep him happy tomorrow as well. 🙂

Belgium Chocolates

 

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Seeing as how it’s January 5th, I figure it’s time to finalize my One Word for 2014, and to set some goals for the year to come.  This annual exercise would be meaningless, however, if I didn’t take the time to take an honest look back at 2013 to see how I performed.

Honestly, my first instinct was to attribute the word “mediocre” to my 2013 goal performance.  Among other things, I pledged to wake early every day, do an hour of personal reading every day, and become more punctual, most importantly getting to Mass early.  With the exception of Tuesdays, when I wake at 4:20, I’m lucky to be up before six most days, I’m lucky to do an hour of personal development reading in a week, let alone a day, and early to Mass only happens when I’m lectoring or doing Children’s Liturgy.  My One Word was “Self-Discipline,” and I feel that my failure to follow through on these goals is an indication that I still have lots of room for growth in the discipline arena.

However, it occurs to me that I am probably being too hard on myself, as friends often tell me I have a tendency to do.  I do get up at 4:20 every Tuesday, I did finish several personal development books in 2013, and I did, indeed, write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November, and finish the first draft of that same novel by the end of December.  Come to think of it, I prayed the Impossible Novena for nine months and only missed a handful of days.  Interestingly, in fact, I’ve had two people in the last month tell me that I’m the most self-disciplined person they know. Honestly, I think this is a sad testimony to the state of self-discipline in today’s world, but I also figure that I ought to accept that as evidence that I have grown in discipline in the past year, and stop knocking myself so hard.

Thus, I’m going to accept 2013 as better than mediocre.  Not stellar, but above average, at least, and I’m giving myself a little pat on the back, and offering up some big “thank you’s” to the people without whom I could not have experienced the growth that I did – namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as the Mother of God, who has graciously led me through this journey, bringing me so much closer to her Son.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good year, even though I wrecked my car on the very last day of the year… the very same day that we finally paid that puppy off.  Can you believe it?  I really can’t. Neither can Ray.  But, c’est la vie.  The good news is, the car is paid off… and I was calling 911 when I backed into that pole, and the fire trucks did make it to the scene of the apartment fire in time to help extract people from the building.

Anywho… time to look forward to 2014.  It could be an interesting year.  Ray’s planning to go back and finish his degree, I’ll be busy editing and submitting my manuscript to publishers, we are talking about a potential change in homes, and much more, I’m sure, that we have no idea is on the horizon for us.

Regardless, I’d like to continue to build on the growth of 2013, and thus I’ve decided on INTENTION as my One Word for 2014.

Thanks to Melanie at www.onlyabreath.com for the great graphic!
Thanks to Melanie at www.onlyabreath.com for the great graphic!

Last year, I finished my One Word 2013 post with:

Self-discipline will leave me living life with intention. And my intention is to

Put first things first

To serve God in all I do

And become the woman he made me to be.

“Athletes exercise self-[discipline] in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable one.” 1 Cor 9:25

 

In 2014, my Intention remains the same, and I look forward to further pursuing the imperishable wreath in the year to come.  I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

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.

EEK!

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

 

 

Doing the Will of God – Increasing the %?

How often do you think we do God’s will?

Our Associate Pastor said yesterday that he once asked this of his spiritual director who estimated that, in our lives, we probably do the will of God about 15% of the time.

That’s pretty low, and yet I honestly wonder if most of us are actually doing that well?

So I got to thinking: how do we increase that number?  What things can we do on a regular basis that we KNOW are the will of God?

Here are just a few thoughts that came to mind:

  1. Every time you hug your child, you do the will of God.
  2. Every time you pray, you do the will of God.
  3. Every time you say “thank you,” you do the will of God.
  4. Every time you give a compliment, you do the will of God.
  5. Every time you prayerfully read scripture, you do the will of God.
  6. Every moment spent in adoration, you do the will of God.
  7. Every time you live out your calling as wife and mother with a joyful heart, you do the will of God.  (Yes, that means wiping bottoms, cleaning dishes, and mopping floors.)

OK, OK, so it’s not always so easy.  There are little choices in life that we make without even thinking that aren’t the will of God.  And, let’s face it, there are little choices we make with thinking that aren’t the will of God. There are also big choices we make in life, and its really hard to know just what his will is.  But here’s the thing:

Every time you try to do the will of God,

even if you aren’t doing the will of God,

you are pleasing to Him because you are

 – at least –

 trying to do the will of God.

And thus, in some small way, you are doing the will of God.

I find it encouraging that there are so very many ways I can…

do the will of God.

My list is only a partial one.  What are some other things that we can do, and trust that it is the will of God?  And what’s your thought on that percentage?  Please add your thoughts in the comments!

I’ll part withThomas Merton’s Prayer:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Amen.

Three Weeks In: the School Year

I’ve been trying for two three weeks to write a post about the start to the school year.  They’ve now been in school over three weeks, and here I am, suffering inexplicable writer’s block about a subject that should be easily covered.

Perhaps not so inexplicable, though.  The problem, I’ve realized, is that I want to write about the children’s experiences so far – which are all good – but I also want to write about my feelings – which are very confused, mixed up, and difficult to describe.

So, here I am on the third fourth fifth iteration of this post.  I’ve finally decided that it’s best to separate the two topics – the kids experiences and feelings versus my own, which really are caused entirely by my concerns over the Common Core, rather than anything to do with the school.  So, I’ll start with the easy topic – the kids.

They love their teachers.  They love their friends.  They are getting out of bed easily, and doing their homework without being asked – including sweet little Bear, who doesn’t actually have homework, but thinks that the spare math worksheet the teacher sends home is his homework.  He needs the writing practice, so I’m going with it.  I throw it back in his folder and he’s never any the wiser to the fact that he didn’t really need to do it.

Bear has settled into kindergarten better than I would have expected.  His behavior at school appears to have been impeccable, though these first few weeks have been fraught with many melt downs once he’s in the safety of Mommy Land, where he knows he doesn’t have to keep it all together anymore.

Bonita recounts many funny tales that her teacher has told, and has one favorite student who has had some physical challenges this year, whose progress she loves to share, along with the ways she and her classmates are able to help him navigate the classroom.  The school work is awfully easy for her, and I often wonder if we need to find a more challenging environment.  But, we’ll save that for some future post.

A child who is not typically a fan of school, Dude is probably still just in the honeymoon phase.  So far, we’ve only had two mornings where he’s said that he’s not going to school.  Fortunately, he hasn’t tried to push it very far, though he did miss breakfast one of those mornings.  He now splits his day between two teachers, both of whom seem really fun, (and, yes, I do believe they’re managing to educate in the midst of the fun!) so perhaps the variety and “fun” factor are holding his interest.

As for me… well, I love their teachers, and I love their friends.  I love the family atmosphere and sense of community.  I love the plaque that hangs at the entrance to the school:

 Let it be know to all who enter here
that Jesus is the reason for this school,  
the unseen but ever-present teacher in all its classes,
the model of its faculty,
the inspiration for its staff and students.

 

Despite all of my dread at a new year starting so soon, and my discontent with the Common Core, I know that we are blessed to be part of such a great parish family and school.  In fact, it reminds me of a blog post I read recently, from Lisa over at Practicing Catholic:  “Lord, it is good that we are here.” (Matt 17:4)

God is great, and He blesses us wherever we are, if only we are open to His blessings.

Lisa – and Peter – got it right.

Lord, it is good that we are here.