Advent day 3

Oh boy. I’m definitely making time for Our Lord every day, but outside of those times of quiet, it’s like a raging hurricane. Very early mornings are peaceful. My husband and I wake before all the children and have coffee and breakfast together. It’s the calm before the storm. Then the children wake and the storm hits full gale. School, breakfast, mass, outside classes, laundry, cleaning, lunch. After lunch I have a reprieve–a few minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Then it’s off to track practice, swim practice, American Heritage Girls, cub scouts, boy scouts, CCD, dinner. The family rosary is another restful time.

Sometimes I wish there was less, that I was less busy with both home duties and outside activities. But this is my life. These minutiae are building my holiness day by day. I carve out times of rest and repose (be they ever so small) to commune with my Lord. He is the one who gives me the grace and the strength to keep going.

This verse from my daily lectio felt especially appropriate today: “When the cares of my heart are many, thy consolations cheer my soul” (Ps. 94.19).

Come, Lord, I am waiting for You.

Advent Day 2

Or maybe I should just call this series “Life in the Trenches.”

Advent started out with a bang this morning. I came back from a run to find out that Stepford Son had been a referee in what promised to be a full on knock-down, drag-out fistfight between Mini Me and the Youngest. And all over breakfast. Instead of freaking out and yelling, I sat down with all of them and hashed out the incident. After many tears and several apologies from all involved, life settled back down to normal. I thank God for instances like this because this is one of the things I’m called to do–teach my children how to resolve conflicts in a Christ-like manner. Plus, it builds virtue in all of us.

Though it was a busy day, I was still able to have a quiet few minutes in front of the tabernacle.

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.

 

 

Thankful Thursday. On Friday. Again.

This week I am incredibly thankful for the gift of being able to stay home. I relish being my own master (sure, I have four children and a husband to think of, and of course, my Divine Master), of deciding when my day will begin, how it will be organized, when I will take breaks. There is a TON of work to be done in keeping house, cooking meals and homeschooling children, but it’s on my clock, my schedule. I am thankful that my husband works hard to ensure that I can stay home. And I’m thankful for the gift of being able to homeschool my children, even though I complain about it and feel unappreciated from time to time.

Movie review: The Little Prince

As a family we watched The Little Prince last night. It was released in France in July of last year and was supposed to have a US release this past March. For some reason it was dropped. Thank goodness, Netflix decided to run with it. If you watch only one more movie this year, make this the one.

The film is loosely based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella of the same name. In the movie, a little girl is being prepped by her mother to enter a prestigious academy whose motto is “Be essential.” In order to be close to the school, they move to a new neighborhood during the summer and the little girl starts her “Life Plan,” the regimen her mother has designed for her to be a successful student. As the mother works long hours, the little girl is left on her own to follow the Plan but gets derailed when she meets their eccentric neighbor. He is The Aviator, and he tells the story of his meeting with the Little Prince long years ago. The little girl falls in love with the story and is soon spending all her time with The Aviator. All is well until the little girl has to confront loss. Then, too, the encounter with loss allows the girl to grow in love. In order not to give the movie away, I’ll stop there.

A few points: I think the mother is not a “bad guy” in this story. She is trying to give her daughter everything by giving her the best education and the best plan to be a good adult. Sadly, in giving her daughter the best she can, she neglects to give her what she needs–a mother. I find this in myself. As a homeschooling mom, I want to make sure my kids are learning, and unfortunately, I feel like I have something to prove. So I, like the mother, tend to try to make sure my kids have the best education and the best opportunities and the best home life, etc. etc. etc. and forget to give them what they most need.

The academy’s motto, “Be essential,” is propagated in our society. Those who are not useful or contributing to society are not valued. The poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the unborn. The Aviator is a disgrace to his neighbors. His house is ramshackle, his yard is full of weeds. He’s an untouchable. Even material things are not exempt from the motto. The non-essential items, like stars and bicycles and teddy bears, are put into a shredder and turned into something useful–paper clips. The Little Prince reminds us, though, that “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Humans were not created to be useful. We were not created for work or efficiency or productivity. We were created by Love, for love. And that is all. Yes, we work, but our work does not define us. Yes, we produce, but we are not our productivity. The only thing we will be measured by, in the end, is our capacity to give and receive love. That is what is essential.

Thankful Thursday

This week, despite my post yesterday, I am thankful for sickness. Yes, sickness. It’s forced us to slow down, to show especial care to our more difficult family members, and to appreciate the gift of health. We’ve had to cancel some activities and play dates, but we’ve read together, played board games together and taken elderberry syrup together. 🙂 We haven’t been running in a hundred directions, which has made the first week of school flow much more smoothly. Yes, I hope my children and husband return to health quickly, but I’m grateful to God that He’s given us this time with few outside distractions to remind us of the importance of slowing down and being together.

Grain of wheat

The kids and I have started doing lectio divina together during Morning Time for school (apparently it’s a thing, too bad I didn’t realize it till they were considerably older). It’s basically what I do on my own, except for the sake of time–highschoolers do a LOT of work–we only read the daily gospel.

Today’s gospel veered off from the Matthew path since it’s the feast day of St. Lawrence.

Now, I’ve read this passage about a million times, but what struck me today was the word ‘alone.’ Typically it is my very favorite word, besides ‘book’, but in this context it’s not a pleasant thing. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12. 24, emphasis mine).

I like to be alone. I like quiet. I like to read and think and breathe. It’s hard to do those things when surrounded by others. But I don’t want to remain alone. There is a time to be solitary but even more, a time to be with others. We were created for community. Community with our fellow humans, community with our God. In order to attain this, I must die.

I don’t like the thought of dying, especially dying to self. It means I can’t have what I want, when I want it. For a human being, that’s a rum thought. (Sorry, been reading P.G. Wodehouse). But if I don’t die to self, I’ll find myself alone, barren. Like wheat, fig trees, vines, I am to ‘bear fruit’, to give of myself, not to hoard all things to myself. Paradoxically, it is when I give of myself that I receive more than I could grasp if I live only for myself.

Part of the way I ‘die’ is by letting go of an exciting life, an extraordinary life and embracing the ordinary, the dullness, the routine. Life has been pretty boring at our house lately. With four sick kids, a sick husband and ghastly humid and hot weather (I’m from New England, 85 is hot), I find myself longing for something new, something exciting to change life up. Maybe a new book? A new project? New running shoes? A camping trip? Two hours on Facebook? No, I need to ‘die,’ to pour myself out in the mundane and bear fruit here and now. To love the ordinary and to the find the holiness in it.

 

 

Thankful Thursday

This week I’m grateful to have all my family back under one roof. My husband was gone for about 6 weeks while training with the Air Force in June and July. Then Stepford Son was gone nearly the entire month of July to different camps. Now we’re all together again. The grocery bill and consumption of food has drastically risen, but I’m so glad to be back in our routine of eating dinner together followed by reading aloud from our current book.

Christ’s letter to the world

“…you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written, not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Cor. 3.3

I am God’s letter to the world, bearing His Word, His Beauty, His Truth, His Goodness, His Mercy. What a responsibility! How then should I act? Sure, I should be kind to those I meet–the cashier at the grocery, other drivers, fellow shoppers, etc. But what about those in my own home? Am I not Christ’s letter to them as well? Aren’t they the first to whom I should bring His Word, Beauty, Truth? How often, though, are they the ones who bear the brunt of my bad mood, my irritation? For me, it’s easy to put on a happy face for the few moments of interaction with the gate guard on base but much harder to be pleasant with my husband when I’m tired or stressed out. It’s easy to chit chat with the mail clerk but tortuous to listen to my children’s silliness when I am irritated.

Yes, I have a responsibility to bring Christ to the world, but it starts with the people He has put intimately into my life.

 

Please Welcome….

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The newest member of our family, Octavia, the friendly shower spider.

She’s been there (in the corner of my shower) since we came home from our camping trip. She must have been lonely outside, so she moved in with all her belongings (not much). She’s quiet, unobtrusive, understanding, doesn’t eat much or make any mess, and listens to everything I have to say. I think she’s a keeper.