Thursday, January 22, 2015

Small Success Thursday: Contentment

From the outside, nothing about the past week would seem different from any other week. We had the usual activities: work, school, college course I'm teaching, dentist appointments, trip to the mechanic, etc. Yet, there was something different about it. It's difficult to describe, but for the longest time, I felt like I was just flying through the various events of the day & fighting an uphill battle to survive all the frustrations that our tiny rental house brought with it. But, since we've moved & settled, I feel like there is so much less that I have to contend with. I actually feel & am enjoying (dare I say it?!) being content & present in the moment.

Now, I realize that life has a way of throwing things at you when you least expect it, so I'm going to enjoy the present moment while I have it. With that in mind, all of my successes this week involve

- I played with my kids. I realize this might not seem that momentous, but these are small successes after all! It had been a while since I actually got down on the floor & played. And we had so much fun!

- I spent some time adequately preparing for religious ed class, instead of waiting until the last minute to throw something together. It was a success! The kids enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. I have one student this year who has been particularly challenging to keep focused. I assigned my helper to sit with him during class to keep him focused, & it worked great. He even came up to me at the end of class & asked me to tell his mom the good news about his behavior!

- I was able to continue unpacking a few more boxes. The storage room with all the kids' clothes is organized & all the plastic containers have been appropriately marked. I reorganized our movies & posted an entertainment system cabinet for sale that we can't use. Feels like we're settling in! Now, I have to get to organizing my spaces (make-up table, closet, books).

- I love listening to TED & TEDx talks at work. They are extremely motivating, encouraging & exciting. I encourage you to check out the YouTube channel.

You can read more SST posts at Catholic Mom. One additional comment since today is the March for Life in DC. I can't believe it has been a decade since Jesse & I went to our first march together. The pro-life movement is so important to me as a mom, but also a human being. It is so important that we do whatever we can to keep being a voice for the voiceless!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I'm Pro-Life

I have a hard time accepting that we live in a society where the President would stand so blatantly against protecting unborn babies as he did here. I posted this article & comment on social media. It immediately started to attract comments, both positive & negative, educated & not. I usually don't respond to such comments, but based on the tone of what was being said, I did decide to make a few comments, which I share below.

1) I do not believe that being pro-life has to be a religious issue at all. With all of the advances in science, we have gone above & beyond to show (to "prove") that these are lives, lives that have a right to be lived. There is no difference between killing a baby while in the womb or waiting until the baby is born & then killing it. I am pro-life not solely because of my religious beliefs & I think there are plenty of others who aren't of my faith or religious at all who are also pro-life. Check out this article from a pro-life atheist, he brings up some really awesome points.

2) Being pro-life should go hand-in-hand with being pro-women's rights, not against it. In fact, there is a whole group called Feminists for Life that explains why the earliest feminists were pro-life & why you can be a feminist & still be pro-life. Unfortunately, gender inequalities still exist in our country. Our society does not do nearly enough to support & encourage mothers. Our job is made harder because we have to fight to be a mother & a working professional. Rather than try to encourage societal change so that raising children is more acceptable rather than an inconvenience to employers, we are told it is easier to get rid of the yet unborn baby so we don't have to feel the pinch of trying to balance it all. I read an article that said society is prejudiced against mothers (especially single mothers) & by giving women a way out of motherhood, we are accepting & perpetuating that prejudice.

3) Research shows that not only are these babies feeling pain while being aborted, but they cry out. It is disgusting to me that anyone, especially a public figure such as the President would turn in the face of such research & threaten to veto any measure that would protect these innocent babies. I don't believe that being pro-life is a religious issue, nor do I think it is a political one. I think it is a human issue. The fact that we are killing our own children, in the one place where they should be truly safe & cared for, is disgusting.

That is why I am pro-life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Seeing the Little Way

As the mother of four children, I often have the privilege of overhearing conversations among them. These discussions range from funny to serious, gross to factual. Sometimes, they go something like they did this morning...

Bella (age 4): "They put Jesus on the cross & he died."

Sophie (age 6): "Yeah, they put nails through his hands right here [points to her palms] & through his feet [demonstrates how Jesus' feet look on the crucifix]."

Bella: "But that's so sad."

This conversation went on for a few more minutes, all the while, my heart swelled knowing that the girls are absorbing all the Bible stories we share with them. The crucifix is an ever-present & constant reminder of the most important of these stories. But, what struck me more than the accuracy with which Sophie & Bella shared details of the crucifixion was the way in which Bella reacted to the various elements of the story. At four years of age, the story of the crucifixion is still "new" & her reactions are genuine. And this had me thinking, "As adults, have we become numb to the true emotions that the crucifixion story should evoke?"

St. Therese of Lisieux is a much-revered & loved saint in our house. We have a special devotion to her & her influence can be felt in various elements of our lives. Her name is the one I chose at confirmation & is shared by our oldest daughter (Sophia Therese). One of her main teachings was that of "The Little Way." That is to say that we can follow God through our littleness, in becoming childlike in the eyes of God & being obedient to Him. It is a mantra that I try to live by as much as possible.

I believe that this childlike nature should not only be in how we perform our duties, but also in how we see the stories of the Bible. In listening to Bella's response to the pain that Jesus felt, it makes me pause to take a closer look at how I think about the stories of Jesus' pain & suffering. We are inundated with images of pain, suffering & death on television, movies, video games, magazines, etc. Coupling that with the many countless times we hear the story & I think it's fair to say that we become desensitized to the actual events that happened on Golgotha. But seeing the story heard & felt through the eyes of my children has shown me a new way of thinking about & reflecting on these events. The next time I look at a crucifix or recite the Sorrowful Mysteries, I hope my emotional connection to the story will grow as I begin to feel it the way my children do, seeing it through the Little Way.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Small Success Thursday: Thank You

I have some people to thank on this Small Success Thursday...

Thank you to the author of this post. It's like she wrote it for me. Those are the emotions I feel, the highs & lows of being in ministry. It's the reason I wanted to start this blog, in the hopes of connecting with other youth ministry wives. It feels nice to know that others have seen our struggle & appreciate what we do behind the scenes.

Thank you to my husband for really shifting the balance in housework since we purchased our home. I have hours (literally hours) back to myself now that we have a dishwasher. And, he has made a huge effort to be home on a more routine basis.

Thank you to all the dinner guests we've entertained in the last two weeks. You have no idea how fortunate I feel that we have such good friends & now finally have a space to accommodate having you over for dinner & conversation.

Thank you to my children for our Tuesday family prayer nights. This is the thing I most look forward to each week. And sometimes it is the only thing that gets me through the week.

Thank you to the faculty member that invited me to begin teaching a college course this semester. It has been one of my life long dreams to teach in higher education & I am treasuring every moment. It breaks up the routine that I have followed for the last seven years. I pray that it may someday turn into something more permanent.

Thank you to local Catholic radio station that is now playing in our area. It gives me great joy to listen to stimulating faith conversation as well as prayerful moments throughout my day.