“but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
There were two—two of our babies that did not make it to term. My first three pregnancies went relatively smoothly, resulting in little wrinkly-faced wonders. When we conceived baby number four we were hopeful for the same. I was 41 years old, not exactly a spring chicken in the fertility department. The two pink lines on the pregnancy test signaled more transition. My body would change, our family circumstance would change and our finances would undoubtedly change. Honestly, I felt a little dread. But deep down I was also really excited. A fourth baby! The big family I had wanted since I was a small child was happening. Yet, I remember remaining consciously subdued outwardly. I am a natural “glass-half-empty” kind of gal, so part of me already understood the fragility of the pregnancy as I did with each one previous. I practiced the classic, “don’t get your hopes up…” not ever comprehending what actually awaited me. Up until that point, my children’s gestations were medically routine as my OB/GYN would acknowledge after the birth of each kid. The only personal knowledge I had with miscarriage was the explanation my mom and dad had passed down about their difficult experience before I was born. Continue reading “The Babies We Lost”
“Be still and know that I am God!” -Psalm 46:11
My kids don’t nap anymore. It all ended a little over a year ago. The realization struck me recently. My daughter had a crummy virus, so I kept her home with the understanding that she would at least try to nap. Once I shut her door, I nearly skipped to the couch with unbridled eagerness. This was the first time in a while I’d get to enjoy a nap as well. As I nestled under a throw, I lay there recalling how this had been part of my routine as a new mom. It was the sweet spot of my day; a treasured time that resulted in peace, rejuvenation and a fresh outlook—three things seriously lacking, yet in high demand during this span of my life.
Before I truly understood the possibilities for this magic time, I thought my kids’ nap would be best utilized in getting more tasks accomplished. I’d try to pull off all sorts of things while creeping around so as to not disturb my little sleeping cherubs. Not exactly a practical endeavor when your modest, ranch-style home means all major activity, TV watching, talking on the phone, cooking, cleaning, happens within mere feet of the bedrooms. Even flushing the toilet at the designated sleep times was a big no-no. How I longed to give a piece of my mind to the obtuse architect of my 1960’s track home. Inevitably, the clang of a pan, a creak in the floor, a loud stomach growl or an annoying postman who ALWAYS rang the doorbell, would close the proverbial window of productive time with a clatter. No doubt someone would wake up, completely shattering the chance to get anything done. Continue reading “Rest for the Weary”
My oldest brother is not a cook. His idea of homemade is the “take & go” rotisserie chicken from Costco. When he’s channeling his inner Bobby Flay, he shreds it, adds some mayo and voila—chicken salad!
And this guy can put it away! His bean-pole stature is very misleading. You’d think he got by on a steady diet of saltine crackers and water. In actuality, his appetite is legendary, at least in the circles of our extended family where a hearty appetite is a highly-sought accolade. When we were teenagers, I recall an instance after a gluttonous Thanksgiving feast. While my mom bustled in the kitchen doing clean up, the rest of us sat immobile, just staring at each other, eyes glazed over, contemplating the vast amounts of food consumed. Tim, however gleefully walked up the stairs and shouted, “I’m getting hungry again. Can anyone go for a Big Mac?” He was already strategizing his next culinary chess move.
Continue reading “Can I get fries with that?”
Photo by Zoe Anderson
There are many times when I’ve walked out of mass, or out of a Catholic school function and thought to myself, “Hmm… that person doesn’t seem very Catholic.” In truth, I’ve thought it about whole rows of people, complete sections, even. (Oh boy, now no one is ever going to sit next to me.) I point out my sinful and serial tendency because I suspect I’m not the only person in the world who has judged a fellow Catholic and found the person in question considerably lacking in terms of their Catholicity. As if there’s this invisible yardstick by which everyone is measured to gauge whether they’re Catholic enough. Oh no, they don’t have a rosary hanging from their rearview. They fall short. He loves the guitar mass. Seriously? He’s practically fallen away. She’s seeking more fellowship at her church. Please! Why doesn’t she just head over to the Lutheran place around the corner?
Of course, the inverse is true as well. Someone knows all the Latin words to Salve Regina, or they can quote scripture like the general population quotes Seinfeld, and I think, “Whoa! Now, that’s a devout Catholic.” I can’t lie—when I spy a scapular peeking out from underneath someone’s shirt collar, I’m convinced the person has serious “Catholic cred.” Or when I see a priest in a full black cassock, I think, “Now, he’s holy!” Continue reading “I’m more Catholic than you are!”
My oldest son is a good speller. Many might even say, “a great speller.” As the woman who bore him, I put him squarely in the “great speller” camp. Heck, I’d even classify him as:
Last winter, he took part in the Denver Archdiocesan spelling bee for 4th and 5th graders. He was in the 4th grade and had never been in a contest in his life. (Unless you count the times he and his brother and sister test their skills to see who can make the loudest armpit farts. And these challenges never result in a clear winner—their fit of giggles and my shock and horror put the legitimacy of the judging into serious question.) Continue reading “Bees & Beads”
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12; 6-7)
Recently, my husband and I officially changed parishes. We had been on the books at a very large church, which someone informed me was so large it actually classified as a mega-church. Several years back, we signed our kids up for the school and once we registered as parishioners, I set to the business of trying to make connections and build community.
My faith history as a post-Vatican II baby, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s groomed me to have extremely low expectations from my neighborhood parish. As a kid, it was the place we went to celebrate mass. The word celebrate here is even a stretch as there was never much exuberance at all. But we went to mass. And that was literally it. Not even a donut Sunday in sight. I say this with certainty because I remember there was no actual place to gather- short of a very cold, (this was Cleveland after all) impersonal hallway that led to the sanctuary. There was no narthex. (Even the term narthex is fairly new to me, a cradle catholic of 46 years!) There was a nice school gym on the other side of the parking lot, but it must have been in full bingo swing, and unavailable to parishioners who indulged in fried fats rather than gambling and smoking. I understood that our church was a stop that was necessary. Once the obligation was checked off though, you were expected to bug off, preferably in an orderly, polite fashion, a goal not often achieved. Hello church parking lot road rage! Continue reading “To Be Known”
I bought the very last thing on my three kids’ exhaustive list of school supplies. I feel like it should end in a day of feasting and celebration. This year, it just happened to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption, so our parish ice cream social after mass served a dual purpose. “Yay” for Mary’s triumphant heavenly entrance and “yay” (with a little y) for me finishing this seemingly endless task. Each year, the last months of summer become a crazy odyssey through various office supply and big box stores trying to narrow down just the right plastic-covered, teal, college-ruled stenographer-style notebook, with medium grade weight paper, designed by multi-cultural children of Eastern African countries. Huh? Okay at the end I digressed into a bit of hyperbole. But you get the drift here. It got me to thinking about all this effort we expend on this “necessary” list of school “essentials.” As Catholics what’s the real essential list? What do our kids truly need as we send them out into the world, whether the public-school system or parochial? Have we equipped our kids with the real essentials? Here’s my list for my kids. I hope it will be a help to you. Continue reading “Top 5 Must-Have School Supplies for any Catholic Kid”
Another high-profile Hollywood marriage has ended and I have to admit I am disappointed and even a bit saddened by the news. Anna Faris and Chris Pratt, two seemingly likable, even dare I say, humble celebrity “hotties” have unfortunately called it quits. I say unfortunately because over the last eight years I’ve found myself undeniably enchanted by their goofy, lovey-dovey antics on the red carpets of tinsel town. One might even call their out-in-the-open flirting and chemistry swoon-worthy—as they could probably draw sighs from even the most jaded of souls. I have pored over media accounts of their fairytale-like romance with the same intensity as a zoologist who marvels and delights in the birth of an albino gorilla. (Look it up. They exist and are so dang cute.) For as long as I can remember, I have been hooked by the breathtaking love affairs portrayed in the bright lights of the entertainment industry. As wary as I am of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s politics, I was bummed out by the couple’s demise. What went wrong? In fact, I scoured countless “reputable” media outlets trying to extract a hint at what caused their shocking split. It’s embarrassing to admit how much time I pored over articles about Ben Affleck’s affair with the nanny. Why, Ben? Why? And more importantly, why is a celebrity marriage that survives more than 5 years the stuff of unicorns, mermaids, and leprechauns? Continue reading “Of Hollywood Unicorns & the Sanctity of Marriage”
How many times in our lives have we been in a social situation where the person with whom we’re conversing over dinner or lunch has something green stuck in their teeth? There comes a point when you no longer actually hear what they are saying and you become fixated with that hideous thing lodged unceremoniously between their incisor and first molar. In those situations, my brain usually begins to race… how do I let them know? Where do I even look? Do I make a discreet hand gesture, pointing to the afflicted area? Do I just casually say, “Um, there’s something in your teeth?” Or do I just do my non-confrontational best to ignore it, mentally willing the troubling piece of food to make a quick exit without anyone being the wiser? And what about when there is a another person at the table who is also in-the-know? They see the green speck as plain as a spinach salad, and yet they’re not saying anything. They’re going along with it… Continue reading “Do I have something in my teeth?”
I remember my mother’s eyes. They were clear, light blue, deep-set with a faint perimeter of feathery skin that crinkled when she smiled. Those calm, translucent eyes managed to communicate so much. But her childhood snapshots were incongruent somehow. As a child myself, paging through tattered, old-fashioned, black paper photo albums, her youthful eyes seemed slanted and squinty, only faintly reminiscent of the woman I knew. I actually felt a little pity for my homely, little mommy. Her face must have needed to grow in order to accommodate such complex and interesting eyes. As she aged, the skin around the eyes became more delicate, thinner and fainter, giving her penetrating eyes a whitish, oval frame. Now, when I look back at photos of her during her mothering years, I see so much light emanating from her face. I’ve heard it said those who are filled with goodness sometimes seem as if they are shrouded in light. Her goodness radiated from the eyes. Continue reading “My Mother’s Eyes”