Archive for ‘Faith’

December 31, 2011

It’s New Year’s—And I’m Back

It might have seemed that I fell off the face of the earth this last week, when what I intended to be a four- or five-day break turned into over a week off of blogging. The truth is, I was having so much fun with my family that I just didn’t sit down at my computer. And as much as I love blogging, a break from the norm was very, very welcome.

 

The silly bit of it is that I’ve had end-of-the-year posts saved up in my brain for weeks. That’s how my blogging mind works—I think of things to write before the appropriate occasions present themselves. Then I either write them down way too early and save them to be posted later or, as in this case, I keep thinking about them and thinking about them, then leave the state for a few days, stay away from my computer for a few more, and then finally cram it all into one post.

 

2011 has been an excellent year. I’ve come into my own as a mother; I’ve learned a great deal that’s helping me to focus on making my marriage and family life the best it can be; I’ve successfully launched a freelance business; I’ve read thirty books; I’ve learned to knit; and (for the most part) I’ve kept up with blogging.

 

Man, am I tired. Ha!

 

But then this list is not meant to toot my own horn. Rather it’s meant to express, in large part as a reminder to myself, that this year I learned to trust in a whole new way.

 

I learned that I achieve more when I don’t cling to what I think I know, what I think is mine.  I learned that life is more worthwhile when it’s not just about myself. I learned that I have more energy when I give my time completely to others—to John, to Jacob, to friends I talk with over the phone or visit with in person, and most especially to God in prayer.

 

I could not have had the year I did without my faith, my marriage, my family. People sometimes say that high school is the best four years of your life. Others contend that the years spent in undergrad are the greatest. Those times were good for me, and when they drew to a close, I had only a hazy expectation of what came next. It turns out, these years after high school, after college, when I am in the world and making it my own; when I am learning what it really means to be married, to be a mother, to be a woman of faith—it is these years that are truly my prime.  And I can’t wait to start another one.

 

Photos and “Best of 2011” lists coming soon!

 

Happy New Year!

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December 14, 2011

Your Rod and Staff Comfort Me

Over the past few months, we’ve heard a lot of tough news in our circles. Friends have lost a mother, a grandmother, a grandfather, and just yesterday we learned that friends of friends lost their two-year-old son. He went to sleep Sunday night and didn’t wake up Monday morning. What grief, what pain.

 

As we remember these families in our rosary each evening, I am struck by how fleeting life can be, how quickly it can end. Since Jacob was born, this sort of news, and the idea of our family without John or Jacob—or me—can frighten me so much I am almost paralyzed. We need to make the most of every moment. Should I have been cross with Jacob when he didn’t listen earlier? Should I have spent the afternoon working and only occasionally reading to or playing with him?  Was it really more important that dinner was made than that I gave Jacob an extra eight million hugs?

 

But living lodged in fear that way means not living at all. Jacob needs to be disciplined, because we have the hope of his living a long and happy life. I need to do my work, because I have been blessed with a fruitful business and it is my responsibility to help it to grow. And let’s be honest, we need to eat.

 

When I think of someone ill or passing, I can’t help but think of the moment that person was born and the moments that person’s children were born, if they were a parent, too. How little we can think of the end of life when it is so new, and rightfully so, of course. But when you have the perspective to look back on a whole life like that—wow. It brings you to your knees.

 

In considering this and reflecting on what the season of Advent means during a walk around the park yesterday, I could only think of how much more I need to live the joy in my life. Being mired in the fear of what could happen, what someday will happen, means not being truly grateful for what is before me, in my home, in my arms, in my heart.

 

To make that more tangible for me, the other side of the coin is making itself known in our prayer intentions as well. Our list of families who are expecting children is approaching the status of litany.  And while this is no comfort for those who have lost loved ones recently, there is a very important breed of hope embedded in there.

 

A couple of lines from a hymn have stuck with me this Advent: “How silent all rebellion! / How loud the angels’ praise!” In the end, there is God and there is love, and all the rest will pass away, so I’d better praise what is worth being praised every chance I get.

 

If you’re interested in helping out the family who lost their little boy, here’s a link to a fundraising effort through the end of the year: http://www.giveforward.com/charliesway

November 21, 2011

Time to Celebrate!

Yesterday was Jacob’s Baptismal day. I didn’t grow up celebrating Baptismal days, and I didn’t know that anyone did. John’s family introduced me to this tradition, and if only for the fact that it doubles the amount of cake you can justify each year (eight birthdays + eight Baptismal days = cake! cake! cake!), I found it to be a really great thing to commemorate.

John’s family, and I’m sure others too, mark the day not only with special dessert after dinner, but also with a chance to “honor” the person being celebrated. Even when I was John’s girlfriend, I loved being part of this tradition. In whatever order people feel comfortable, everyone around the table shares something he admires or appreciates about the honoree. Sometimes it’s a recent act that displayed joy, faith, or integrity. Sometimes it’s something the honoree did to motivate the honor-er to think more about his or her own faith or character. Other times, it’s more simply the characteristics of the honoree that inspire honor-ers to be better, stronger, happier people.

Whether the honoree was John, one of his parents, or one of his siblings, I enjoyed offering my own thoughts as much as hearing everyone else’s. How often does a family take the time to consider the beauty, the individuality,  and the promise of each of its members? This sort of encouragement is something I hope John and I can foster in our own family, and that starts today.

In the midst of all this honoring, there was always one comment that, frankly, baffled me. Whoever could get to it first would honor the baptismal day boy/girl for being a “son or daughter of God.” For a long time, I didn’t understand this. Weren’t we remarking on things the person had chosen to do? Characteristics that, even if they came naturally, the person allowed to shine even in tough situations? How could we honor someone for something over which he or she had absolutely no control?

Being Jacob’s mother, I’ve come to understand this in a very humbling way this year. Every day I learn something new about Jacob’s character, his temperament, and the choices he’s likely to make. Yet even before these things began to surface, I loved him simply because he was a little boy, my little boy, made in the image and likeness of God. I love him simply because he exists. And that is how God loves us—simply because we exist.

So today—or yesterday, really—I honor Jacob for being a son of God. And for teaching me what that means.

Happy Baptismal day, Jacob!

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