Past me can be so wise and thoughtful

Today is one of the days where one of my Gospel Reflections is published on Catholicmom.com. Having to write these way in advance, I always forget when they are coming out and get surprised when they pop on my feed. Especially because, they are normally words that I am needing to hear (read) at the moment.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for taking over my typing and allowing me to reflect in a way that, hopefully, invites others deeper into the Gospel.

 

Link to reflection: https://catholicmom.com/2018/06/25/daily-gospel-reflection-for-june-25-2018/

St. Gianna knows more than I do

So, I’ll let her talk to you today.

St. Gianna, pray for us.

“Lord, keep Your grace in my heart. Live in me so that Your grace be mine. Make it that I may bear every day some flowers and new fruit”.

“When one does one’s own duty, one must not be concerned, because God’s help will not be lacking”.

“One cannot love without suffering or suffer without loving”.

“Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy and strong”.

“0 Mary, into your maternal hands I place myself and I abandon myself completely, sure of obtaining whatever I ask of you. I trust in you because you are the sweet Mother, I confide in you because you are the Mother of Jesus. In this trust I place myself, sure of being heard in everything; with this trust in my heart I greet you “my Mother, my trust”, I devote myself entirely to you, begging you to remember that I am yours, that I belong to you; keep me and defend me, 0 sweet Mary, and in every instant of my life, present me to your Son, Jesus”.

Amen

I am a horrible person…an ongoing saga

This thought runs through my mind several times a day. Sometimes several times an hour. Most recently, I overheard a coworker talking about how wonderful her daughter, someone I know, is at being a working mother and reflecting deeply on her experiences and on and on and on. She is a proud mom, I get that. But my automatic response was 1)Insecurity 2)Inadequacy 3)Jealousy 4)Anger.  These are old friends who visit me often…and I hate them.

IIJA (I don’t feel like writing the words every time so let’s go with this) is something that pushes me in a hole that takes me forever to work my way out of and has so many triggers. My housemates, people from my past, my saint of a husband, work criticisms…really anything. I’m so susceptible to these enemy attacks.

And I know without a doubt that is exactly what it is: an Enemy attack. And, boy, is he good at it.

I haven’t figured out a good counter-attack yet. I’m trying my best to pray for those who trigger me and hold the spotlight of my anger. I’m trying my best to “keep my eyes on my own paper”. I’m trying my best to love myself as God loves me.

I’m trying. I’m usually failing. But, with the loving support of my family, I move forward and try again.

Pray for me as I pray for you.

I smell the smoke

I’m not burnout. At least, I don’t think I am…yet. But I can smell the smoke. The burnout is on the horizon. And me, being the sad little candle I am, I’m giving it everything I can until the flame disappears.

Today, I’m probably feeling this way mainly because I woke up feeling like I was a million degrees every hour last night. Heat waves don’t mix with pregnancy hormones and sleep loss makes me an extremely grumpy person.

Also, I came back from a not horrible, but also not what I wanted to hear thesis meeting.

And my work day today will be at least 12 hours, meaning I won’t be home before bedtime.

And I feel like a pregnant whale.

And I’m tired…did I mention tired?

The plan? I’m going to go to Confession in between errands tonight to try to build up some wax. I’m going to try to take the rest of the day moment by moment. I’m going to breathe. And, probably most importantly, I’m going to stop telling myself that I can’t do this and deserve an easier life because neither of those things are true nor are they helpful.

Oh, and I’m probably going to take a giant nap while Vivi naps tomorrow. Somehow, planning out future naps seems to talk me down from the ledge.

I’m actually NOT doing it all

People ask me that a lot. “How do you do all of that!?” They are being kind or nosy or are genuinely curious whether or not I can bilocate (I can’t…sad but true).

And I get it. From the outside, my season of life right now does bring on those questions. Three jobs. Finishing my degree. Pregnant. Toddler at home. Believe me, it makes my head spin too.

But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…it’s not me.

I gave a talk at my parish during Lent about my experiences in ministry. I like leaving people with small succinct takeaways during my rambling, so my first point of interest during that talk was this: I am desperately, desperately, DESPERATELY in need of a Savior…and that Savior is not me.

It sounds obvious, and it is, but, do you want to know the other secret? I forget this ALL the time.

And then I try to do it all. The results of this type of work are frustration, exhaustion and hopelessness. The biggest reason this happens is, that when I try to do everything all by myself, I try to become a person I’m not. I’ve had a whole lot of practice trying to be someone I’m not and I fall into this hole all the time. And I dwell there. I, with help from the Enemy, fill my head with the lies that I’m not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or (insert adjective of your choice here) enough.

That hole is not where I’m called to live. When I remember my real calling and surrender the work that I have been given back to the One who entrusted it to me, that’s when the pieces fall perfectly into place. The work day flies by with high levels of productivity and family time increases in both quantity and quality. My peace is found again.

When I re-calibrate my perspective to remember who is really in control, I also remember that I am incredibly blessed by all of the above. Jesus has entrusted many people and tasks to my care so that I can be the little pencil in the hand of God. (Momma T shout out!) I am privileged and humbled to share in this work of building the kingdom.

So, the newest plan I have to remember who I am, whose I am and who I work for is to take a cue from Momma Mary and constantly turn it all back to my loving and merciful God:

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
(Luke 1: 46-55)

PS We go to the doctor to see Baby Won 2 and find out his/her gender today! Prayers are welcome!

 

 

 

 

We didn’t win the Powerball…again

I had high hopes for this ticket. I planned it out in my head. The debts we would pay. The remodeling we would do. The jobs I would quit. Oh, well…there’s always Saturday.

I’ve been reading a lot more blogs lately. Well, I’m really just binge-reading one and now I have formed an entire friendship in my mind between myself and this woman. We’re very similar, I’m sure she would like me very quickly. But between that and hopes of a million dollar winner, I keep getting lost in a dream world.

With baby #2 growing more and more every day, my husband and I were faced with the challenge of adjusting what childcare looks like for our family in the upcoming months. One of the options is more time at home for me. The thoughts of a smaller paycheck is terrifying, but even the small amount of time I’ll be able to spend at home with my kids is so exciting. I dream of being a stay-at-home mom almost every day. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m overworked (3 jobs and ever so slowly finishing my Master’s degree) or because I’m lazy (not having to get dressed for work every morning sounds like a dream), but being at home is all I can think about lately. And I’m having a really hard time figuring out if that’s because of me or if God is truly putting it on my heart that this is something to consider. We have longs talks about this, but He never just comes out and says anything. Typical.

All of this to say, I want to blog more. I want to reflect more. I want to pray more. I want to share more and find my voice. I want to find my place. I want to be known and loved. I want to be more intentional with my time and my thoughts.

Lent is calling me to something new, I can feel that…I just need to figure it out and maybe putting words to (digital) paper is one of those things.

The Sunshine Transition

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Has anyone ever told you that  “things will look better in the morning”?

I was never a fan of that saying…I’m not a huge fan of any of those phrases that people throw out there when they really don’t know what else to say. “It is what it is.” “Whatever will be will be.” And don’t get me started on “everything happens for a reason”…gag

But, getting back to the hand at order, I’m so bad at see things better in the morning. In fact, its usually the opposite for me. I’ll have all my great ideas and dreams in the evening and, come morning, when I’m reviewing them in the shower…where all good reflections occur… I begin to crumble. My resolve weakens and, when faced with the actual idea of putting my thoughts into actions, my confidence plummets.

I’ve termed this personal phenomenon the “sunshine transition”, as if any ray of light that touches my hopes and dreams turns them into the scared mice I try to ignore the signs of in my pantry.

It happens more than I would like it to. Apparently, I’m a very brave person after the dinner hour and can solve all of the world’s problems, but only in theory. Because when the sun comes up, the doubt comes with it.

What if I don’t have all the facts? What if the person I need on my side doesn’t agree? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail?

The last two are the hardest: failure, or even the appearance of failure, have kept me from many things and still haunt most of my decision making processes. I feel that today. I will probably feel that in some way 20 years from now.

But what does failure do? It proves that I’m flawed and broken and vulnerable. It shows that I’m not in charge. It reminds me that I’m in desperate need of a Savior.

So, I will try to choose to let the sunlight in and not be afraid. I will remind myself that it’s not my job to be perfect, it’s my job to try. And, most of all, I will once again surrender to my calling to let Jesus be my Savior, because I would be a really bad one.

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If “control = happiness = holiness”, something doesn’t add up

My attention gets sucked into things very easily. One of my offices has a giant window that looks over a hill that can somehow make any season seem beautiful. I look out this window a lot. When I used to share the office, it wasn’t uncommon for me to need to interrupt a conversation and let my supervisor know that there was a groundhog and some birds fighting on the hill and my brain wouldn’t be available for intelligent conversation until the battle was finished.

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Currently, my attention has been pulled into the world of podcasting. I’ve been binge-listening to podcasts to the point where I need to turn my cellular data off so I don’t spend millions of dollars listening to other people talk at me. My focus has mainly been on podcasts that combine some of the following topics: Catholicism, Mommy-ing, wife-ing…well I guess that’s mainly it. Catholic, mommy podcasts (let’s call them CMPs…initialisms make me feel cool), it’s INSANE how addicting I’ve found them. There’s different topics with each episode and, even if they have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my current situation, I can’t stop.But, that’s not what I want to focus on.

I need to talk about what the CMP’s have brought out in my brain: the need for control. It’s crazy and there’s probably a CMP episode that talks about “letting go and letting God” (gag) or “who’s really in control?”

…unrelated, I wonder if there is a job in naming podcasts cause I’d be super good at that.

 

Anyway, through learning about family budgets and books I should read and how to properly self-care, I’ve realized that I equate my sense of control not only  with happiness (a pretty common trait) but also with holiness. Being in charge of my schedule means I’m totally on the road to sainthood, eating vegetables CONSISTENTLY has to be on par with doing works of mercy  and, all those faceless people who chime “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” understand that an ordered household is the only road to heaven, right?

Clearly, the answer is no, but my brain doesn’t always live “seeing things clearly” land.

Case in point, I’ve been trying to focus on my weight/eating differently to see if I could actually take care of my body for health rather than beauty (easier said than done…look for endless ways that I will both congratulate myself and fail miserably at this endeavor). And then tonight, I ate almost an entire bag of Cheetos simply because they were sitting in my office. What followed? Guilt. Resentment. Fear of being punished.

cheetos

Hold up now. Who’s going to punish me for eating delicious cheese food-type things? God. Not eating an entire bag of Cheetos in one sitting is probably the commandment Moses would have seen if he turned the tablet over.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. Felt in my heart regardless of the ridiculousness? You betcha. I lost control and screwed up and punishment is sure to follow. I’m losing my closeness to God with every bite, even if only in my mind.

It happens in non-cheese related ways as well. If I fall behind on laundry or forget to answer a voicemail, I feel “off the straight and narrow”. These things that have nothing to do with my relationship to God are really screwing up my faith.

And here’s the thing I need to remind myself, say it with me now:  I’m actually not in control at all. The most freeing and exciting and terrifying realization about my life is I’m not in control. I need to trust in my God, who loves me in spite of as well as because of all the calories in my fitness tracker. And my dirty house. And my cluttered office. And on and on and on. He’s got this and, more importantly, He’s got me.


Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

But, what’s the point?

Without going full-out drama queen on this topic, do you ever find yourself asking the question of worth? Like, what is the point…really?

I’m having those thoughts/feelings a lot lately. In some cases, it’s overly obvious.

The point of changing my daughter’s diaper is because she smells bad and if I let her sit in her own filth, some sort of rash/illness/unpleasantness will affect her backside.

The point of making dinner is so that we can nourish our bodies and function properly… or as I tell my students constantly “Eating and sleeping promote optimal brain function”. (College students seem to have the hardest time with this concept for some reason.)

The non-obvious “what’s the point” answers are the ones that are getting to me lately. The times I ask the question and can’t answer myself are the times when I sit and wallow and don’t get much done because I don’t see the point…those moments seem to be taking over my week.

Here I sit. Here I wallow. And what’s the point of it all?


For thus says the LORD: Only after seventy years have elapsed for Babylon will I deal with you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place.

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.

When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.

When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart,

I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.

Jeremiah 29:10-14

What do you do?

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I sat in the office of my Ecclesiology professor anxiously as he read ALOUD the answers I had written to the assigned questions. Not really out of the ordinary, since it’s an independent study and all of our meetings take place in his office as he looks over my work. But there is still something nerve wracking about hearing your own thoughts read back to you.

He pauses as we chat about the Apostles and the role of Judaism in the early church.

“You’re a nurse, right?”

“Ummm, no.”

“Oh. I just assumed because of your name-tag and purple shirt. The nursing students wearing purple tops during their clinicals. So, what do you do again?”

Ugh. Double Ugh.

Ugh #1 (the smaller of the ughs): We have met before. We have had this conversation before. Repeating myself makes me feel unseen, Father. And, yes, I know we will probably have this conversation again.

Ugh #2: I hate this question. This goes even beyond a hatred of talking about myself. The reason I hate this question is twofold (apparently everything is going to be twofold today):

Reason number one I hate this question is that the answer is not simple. I cannot finish this conversation in one or two words. I envy people with succinct titles. Teachers. Doctors. Accountants. Astronauts. Princesses.  I am usually lucky if I can wrap up this answer within 20 minutes. It’s complicated.

Here it is in a nutshell: My paid jobs are two part time jobs squished together to form a full time job so that I can enjoy benefits. Most days, it feels like two full time jobs with part time hours. They are both in ministry positions, one in direct service of college students and one at a more administrative level at our diocesan offices. Both are very important, time consuming and, at times, brain-meltingly stressful. Beyond my paid work, I can see the finish line of receiving my Master’s degree, but I’m not quite there yet. Oh, and after that I try to fit in taking care of a house, being a mom (to a nine month old who’s new favorite way of communicating is bloodcurdling screams) , a wife (to a wonderful husband who also works way too hard at too many jobs) and a human.

That last one is debatable. I think humans have sleep and nutritional requirements I’m not meeting.

to do

 

Reason number two that I hate being asked what I do is that I’m not in love with the answer.  I like the answer well enough.I like that ministry is actually a job, since most days it doesn’t really feel like work. I like paying bills. I like health insurance. I like feeding my family. I like not having to serve fries and medium Diet Cokes to total strangers. I like being useful.

I don’t like having to split my focus between two communities that deserve more. I don’t like the hours. I don’t like the stress. I don’t like dropping my daughter off at a babysitter. I don’t like the thanklessness. I don’t like calls that inform me that I am allowing Satan to corrupt our children. (true, and very long, story)

Now, I’m not under any false impression that I am going to love any career path I take 100% of the time. And, while I still hold out for a lottery win so that I can stay home with my family full time, I’m not under any delusion that our mortgage or student loan debt is going to magically disappear and give me that opportunity. But I can get so bogged down in the labels and the titles and the logged hours and…and…and…

It’s so easy to forget my purpose in the midst of my roles, both paid and unpaid. I’m supposed to help other people get to heaven and I work to be able to see them there myself. End of statement.

 

Easier said than done, right? True. I’m not saying being a good Catholic Christian is “easier” than my day jobs, which just happen to be ministry related. In fact, it’s actually probably a million times harder.

My point, I think, in all of this rambling is that I let the little, unimportant worldly things get in my way. And I let it happen all the time. I get bogged down and wallow in my hopelessness. I let the dark win.

And, maybe even a bigger problem would be that I let all the “what do you do?” questions cloud my view of answering the real question: “Who are you?”

So, maybe that’s the lesson for the day:I am more than what I do. Or what I don’t do.

What I do will change. Who I am will not.

And who am I?
Well, at my very core, I am loved deeply by my Creator. And once I come back to that realization, which seems like a daily journey sometimes, I can do anything.

 

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