Mass boring? Can’t focus? Let’s Chat.

Any Catholic parent knows that attending Mass with Tiny People Under the Age of 20 is heroic in and of itself.  First, there’s the struggle to get out the door without breaking 70% of the Ten Commandments.  Then, the oh-so-pleasant ride to Mass, made memorable by the people who are still upset about the ritual of getting ready, and those who aren’t still raving are downright sullen.  Of course, Dad taking the turn into the parking lot on two wheels and almost hitting old Mrs. Reilly with the car doesn’t help the mood much, either.  And then, the fun begins!  Race to the door!  Bathe in the holy water!  Stop pulling your sister’s sweater off!  Race to the pew!  Genuflect towards Jesus, not the exit sign!  For goodness’ sake, GET IN THE PEW ALREADY!  Sit!  Kneel!  Stand!  Stop chewing on your hair!  No, you can’t go up and talk to Father on the altar right now!  If you ask me if we’re getting donuts after Mass ONE MORE TIME… GET BACK IN THE PEW!  You should’ve went before we left home!  Why do you have a stuffed snake?!  WHERE DID YOU HIDE THAT THING?!  No, it’s not time to go home!  Three more songs!  And so on.  Sound familiar? Continue reading

Edel {2014} – A {memorable, amazing, inspiring} Gathering

*If you visit the Edel Gathering website at http://edelgathering.com/about/, this post will make a lot more sense.  If you don’t visit the website, my pitiable summary is that Edel 2014 was a gathering of Catholic women from all over the country (plus two chicks from Canada!) for a unique experience of sisterhood, solidarity, and celebrating the vocation of women in society.*

I’ve deliberately fasted from the Edel recap posts of my favorite bloggers today so that I would be able to compose my own thoughts without the influence of others.  Too often I look at life experiences and try to compare them to others’ life experiences to see if I perceived something the “right” way.  Too often.  Today, my restraint from reading ALL THE BLOGS before authoring my own post is one of many wonderful fruits I hope to see as a result of this weekend.

Like so many women I talked to this weekend, I didn’t think I would really be an Edel attendee.  When I saw on Jen and Hallie’s blogs the first few glimpses of what it was all about, I told myself I would likely have to just read about it after it happened.  We didn’t have the money in our already strapped budget (and I thought that BEFORE I saw the $200+ price tag), and there was no way I could convince my husband that I should go to a gathering of women I’d never met before.  How could he even comprehend I considered many of these women my “friends,” when all we had previously shared with each other had been in the form of Facebook comments, Instagram photos, and Tweets?

I should’ve learned long ago never to underestimate Superman…or the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The day before tickets went on sale, I casually mentioned that there was “this awesome-looking conference coming up hosted by these two bloggers I really love, and I’ve already preordered the redhead’s new book and I would love to meet some of the other bloggers in person and too bad we can’t afford the tickets.”  I didn’t even give him the website address.  Initially.  Later in the day, he told me to send him the link.  I figured he was just curious.  Valentine’s Day came, and I received my gift – a ticket to what was to become one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

Continue reading

Learning from the Wise

This past weekend, I made the decision to take my three girls on a five-hour road trip to visit my great-aunt in Morgan City, Louisiana.  We left HH and Superman here in Houston for A Weekend to do Manly Things.

I decided to take this trip because I have been doing a lot of thinking about how generations from the past learned basic life skills and relationship counseling from older family members and friends.  In other words, they sought wisdom from those who had already experienced many of the same things they were currently going through.  I know this sounds simplistic, but hear me out.  We are living in a world where everything is Googleable, from “how soon should I give my baby solids?” to “what do I do if my spouse and I fight over money.”  We look up YouTube videos to learn to sew a button, knit a sweater, frost a cake, and change a tire.  Of course, sometimes these things really are best illustrated with the help of modern technology.  And sometimes, non-experts don’t give the best advice, like the time an older family member fed my two month old applesauce.  Clearly, some guidelines from a doctor would be better when it comes to recommended ages for feeding babies solid foods.

But when did the internet become not only our first, but largely only, reference library?  Superman and I have recently been working through some relatively minor issues in our marriage, and for the first time in a very long time, my first instinct wasn’t to find a book or a website to walk me through the conflict resolution.  My first thought was to call my widowed grandmother, who had been married to my grandfather for almost 50 years when he died.  He was a man with a good heart, but he was an alcoholic.  Surely my grandma could give me advice on how she coped with that, every day of her marriage?  This really got me thinking about how families in general are spread out all over the country, and thus no one is really “around” to ask these types of questions.  And so we look to the internet for answers.  Why not grandma?  Why not the neighbor lady who raised three kids? Why not the grizzled war veteran?

In an effort to begin to rewire my brain (and those of my kiddos) when it comes to some types of problem-solving, I decided some one-on-one time with some wiser individuals might really benefit our family.   Thus, the idea for “Girls’ Weekend at Aunt Judy’s” was born.  I called her, pitched my idea, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that she really loved the plan.  I told her I wanted to bring the girls to spend some time with positive family members who were older and wiser – family members who had some knowledge, skills, and memories to share with us.  The weekend was far, far more fruitful than I could’ve ever imagined or hoped for.  Some of the highlights…

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First stop?  Jesus in the Adoration Chapel at our parish church.  The Holy Spirit nudged me to stop in on the way out of town to ask Jesus to protect us and grow closer to Him over the weekend.  We awere running a bit behind schedule when we left the house, so I was tempted to skip the stop, but I decided this would be a great tradition to institute, and there’s no time like the present!  As it turns out, we arrived right at 6:30am, which was exactly when a small group of folks gather in the Chapel to pray Morning Prayer of the Divine Office.  PERFECT start to the day!  As we exited the Chapel and headed back to the car, we saw a parishioner walking her dog.  The girls enjoyed the few minutes that I allowed them to play with and pet our new furry friend, and it was in that moment that I realized this weekend should be about drinking in the experiences as they happen.  I silently resolved not to say “Not right now,” “Come on, hurry up,” or “Let’s GO, girls!” all weekend.  I’m proud to say I didn’t!

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We stopped several times on the way there, including once at a rest stop which had a playground.  I let the girls run and slide for at least 15 minutes, something I’d have never done without my new resolution to let them drink in each experience.  Once we arrived at our destination, Therese immediately began exploring the backyard.

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Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Marie were being kept busy by a Photo Scavenger Hunt that their great grand-aunt had prepared for them.  They were racing against the clock, and each other, to find each of these items.  And the fun twist she added?  They had to take a selfie with each item!  I have never heard so many squeals of excitement!

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The “#18” that we found. Notice the selfie contains very little face. This photo wasn’t cropped; it captures the photographer’s original composition.

 

We baked a cake, and Marie got to use the hand mixer for the first time.

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Therese stayed busy coloring in her coloring book and on her new backpack, a gift from Aunt Judy

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We attended Mass and spent time walking the church grounds, admiring this beautiful Grotto

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We went through old photographs and shared family stories, most of which were about older generations long since passed, and which I’d never heard before.  To round out a perfect weekend, Aunt Judy presented the girls with leotards and tutus, and gave them their very first ballet lesson.

Can you top that, YouTube?

7 Quick Takes…the #murica version [vol. 4]


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Here’s a quick seven things I am grateful for this 4th of July.  Happy Independence Day, y’all!

— 1 —

Though I have NOT been grateful for the hateful, ugly, and painful discourses it has ignited on social media, I’m glad for the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week in the Hobby Lobby case.  As Catholics, we certainly identify with the Green family’s moral objection to paying for employees’ abortifacient contraception.  May God bless them, and may those of us who have friends and family lashing out over this decision remember that we are all in different pats of our spiritual journeys, and that we should respond with love and empathy.  Though it may be hard to endure and to not take their insults personally, we must continue to pray for our loved ones and for our nation.  The Gospel reading for Tuesday was Matthew 8:23-27.  When I read this selection, the day after the Supreme Court ruling, I completely identified with the disciples.  I was in the boat, rocking in the wind and waves during that tumultuous storm, and fearing our country would drown.  And Jesus is seemingly asleep!  But oh how convicted I was by Christ’s admonition:

They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.

And just like that, my anxiety lessened.  He will calm the storm.  We are called to great faith.

— 2 —

I’m truly looking forward to celebrating today with some wonderful friends, with whom we’ve spent the last several Independence Days.  When it’s all said and done, over 25 kids and 30 adults will gather for bbq, beverages, fruit, desserts, queso, guacamole, and lots of laughter.  And…my kids’ favorite part…the monster water slide of awesomeness.  What a blessing to be able to share this day amongst our close friends!

— 3 —

Our “Must Make” dessert that we bring to this function every year is the delicious Golden Corral knockoff Banana Pudding.  This stuff is so good, we fill an entire roasting pan by quadrupling the recipe…and we never come home with leftovers! It’s not clean eating, but we only do it a few times a year, so…mmmmmmm.

Look at all that cool whippy goodness!
Look at all that cool whippy goodness!

— 4 —

My brother, who recently graduated high school, is passionate about his patriotism.  While other seniors quoted Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (I wish I were exaggerating) in their yearbook, he chose a quote from the Declaration of Independence.  He shared this video today on Twitter and his facebook page.  It’s a great, straightforward reading of the Declaration.  If you’ve never read it, or just would like to review, you can find it here:

— 5 —

One of my favorite people in the history of ever – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen – had this to say about liberty:

A spirit of license makes a man refuse to commit himself to any standards. The right time is the way he sets his watch. The yardstick has the number of inches that he wills it to have. Liberty becomes licenseand unbounded license leads to unbounded tyranny. When society reaches this stage, and there is no standard of right and wrong outside of the individual himself, then the individual is defenseless against the onslaughts of cruder and more violent men who proclaim their own subjective sense of values.”

— 6 —

One July 4th when I was a teenager, my mom suggested that we go as a family to Mass in the morning.  We all looked at her strangely.  The pool needed to be vacuumed, there were sparklers and firecrackers to purchase, and Daddy had a brisket that needed to smoke for 10 hours.  We did NOT have time to go to Mass.  Why should we, anyway?  Independence Day isn’t a Holy Day.    Well, she ignored our whining and my dad’s forlorn stare at his marinating brisket sitting in the fridge, and hauled us out the door.  And oh how glad I was that she did!  The hymns were all patriotic, and the priest gave a moving homily on how blessed we are to live in a land free of religious persecution. The 4th degree Knights of Columbus were there, and it was a very beautiful Mass.  Ever since, we’ve done our best to attend, and I’ve been happy to pass this tradition on to our kids.  Do you have a Mass you can attend today?  I encourage you to take an hour out of your celebrations today to give thanks to God for this beautiful land He has given to us. Especially in light of the heightened persecution of Christians around the world presently, has there ever been a better time to offer praise and thanks for the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave?

— 7 —

Dear Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, please bless our country and draw our nation ever closer to You.  Happy Birthday, America!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!