Friday, August 26, 2011

I Have Called You By Your Name...

My 7 year old daughter was in tears telling me, “I’m not me anymore.  I don’t feel like myself.  I don’t fit in this body.  I don’t know why I feel this way.  I just want to die.”  She tries to hold her breath to die, but can’t.  I hold her on my lap on the back porch; I understanding the feeling but I don’t have any good suggestions other than dinner, a warm bath and a cup of tea.  My daughter is really trying to make a choice about where she belongs.  Our neighborhood school is filled with rough kids.  Is it worth it to give up her sweet nature to fit in with the girls in her class?  Does she want to be a in the super speller group if it means a lot of hard work studying?  Who is she when she is not at home with our family? 

It seems paradoxical, but we most often question our identity when we are in the midst of having to choose which groups/families/teams we belong to.  I think this is because our very selves are formed by our daily experiences of belonging and of course, the sacrifices we make to belong.  Who and what are worth "dying to self"? To really know oneself one must know the ground of their being, that which they belong to at the most basic level.  To really make wise choices and not get lost in all the possibilities, and be willing to give of one's self graciously, confidently, one must know they are a child of God.  If you belong to God, to the maker of the Universe, then you can belong anywhere He calls you to be.

So this morning, as she was doing her hair for “Picture Day” I took off my Confirmation Cross necklace and enfolded her hand around it.  I read her the inscription, “I have called you by your name and you are mine” and reminded her that if she ever doubts who she is, this is all she needs to know:  She belong's to God and He has a special plan for her. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let your Yes mean Yes and your No mean No

I hate saying no to my kids or husband.  It makes me feel like I am mean and totally detracts from my efforts to be super mom/wife.  But it is increasingly a necessity, because "later," "maybe," and "yes, but its not a promise" only bring on a mirad of questions.

I hate to break promises, because...well, because its a promise and I think that means taking a vow.  When promises are made and broken it really hurts.  It's not really so much that the promised "thing" or "event" did not materialize, but that the something sacred in the word spoken was defiled.

It is so easy to forget the powerful nature of the spoken word.  God spoke and the world was created.  We speak and we cause healing and growth or pain and suffering.  A wonderful book that looks at this indepth is Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well.  And so our "yes" ought to be as good as a promise and our "no" be firm as well and we choose when to use them after a moment of reflection.  I'm trying to learn, "Ask me again [specify appointed time] when I can give you a thoughtful answer" [so I don't burn dinner again].

If we consider the Theology of the Body as well, we can apply the same principles.  Let all that you do be in sync with your thoughts and your soul.  The hug I give my child ought to be an authentic condolence, my household tasks true acts of service, and my giving of self a thoughtful endeavor.  If I say I am going to do something, then I ought to do it and do it well. (My own mother was very big on this in regard to household chores and management.)

And I am hoping that eventually, as my children grow older, when they read of God's promises, or God whispers some difficult question in their heart, they, like Mary can give their own thoughtful "YES" and it will be life-giving and it will take root deeply.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Pieta

I saw a picture of the Pieta today and it struck me to the core.  I had just held Sophia in the same position trying to comfort her and cajole her before heading off to the first full day of school this year.  To describe watching one's own child suffer and be unable to help them as "heart-wrenching" is an understatement, but I don't know any other words to describe the pain.  Is there any other feeling of helplessness that comes as close? 

I find it hard to put myself into her shoes.  What is it like for sounds of a crowded gym to hurt your ears, for underwear to be painful to your skin, to actually feel your intestines moving food through them, to have people watching you try to navigate through life and making nasty comments about how inadequate or awkward your efforts are? 

Sophia is not going to be healed, but I pray for the patience and grace to calmly offer her what encouragment and help I can as she suffers her way through childhood with Asperger's. She already knows too well that life is not fair...that she has been dealt an unfair disadvantage. How can an 8 year old understand the Providential plan of suffering when I don't even really comprehend it? So I will continue to ache when she aches and pray for our family.

How odd Christ must have felt walking through the world, perceiving the sufferings of all those around him discerning who needed intervention and who could persevere with just a word of encouragement.  But then, that's what Mary also did, and what all mother's do on a daily basis.  We comfort, console, encourage, take on the hurts of our loved ones, and we wait...for healing, help, hope

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saved From Becoming a Mommy Zombie

When it comes to all the little "deaths" that family life requires and I compare them to the death of Christ I know I'm way off because there is a part of me that considers the finality of Christ's act as a blessing.  When compared to this kind of life where the sacrifices are daily, continuous, and heart-wrenching is like the difference between death and becoming a zombie/vampire/undead creature of your choice. 

The biggest source of despair is that I know there is no end soon.  Tomorrow I will get up and my autisic daughter will have another panic attack over having to wear pants or go to school.  Dan and I will be frustrated that we became frustrated again.   I will still have to make dinner with 5 hungry kids fighting and whining, not wanting to do dinnertime chores after I get home from work. "Just take me now LORD" is my unspoken prayer.  And He does.  He takes me just to the brink then urges a child into the room to ask for a kiss or ask why I'm cying, and I know that I am loved and this too shall pass, and I am blessed to be "resurrected" by a child, saved from becoming a mommy-zombie.

So it makes me think....I must be overlooking the multitude of daily sacrifices that Christ lived through and maybe reflecting on those will bring me to a deeper understanding of the sacrifce he made at the end of his life. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Wind Through Your Hair

Sunday was a gorgeous day so we got all the bikes and wagons out.  "Look at me Mom, I'm riding my bike!" Josie proclaimed joyfully.  Learning to ride a bike is used in so many analogies regarding learning and freedom, but I think as adults we often really forget the sense of empowerment, exhileration, and fullness of life that this experience begets for kids.  Josie commented on how "windy" it was as her hair whipped about from both the light breeze of the day and her momentum...and I smiled to be able to share that wonderous moment with her.  A half hour later I was rejoicing with Gianna who finally overcame her fears and tried to ride without training wheels.  She's been practicing every day since.  This is a really big feat for her because I've known she had the skills for over a year, but her fear kept her back. 

For further reflection:

How many timesdoes fear keep us from experiencing the fullness of life?  What is the best way to overcome it?

Exercise can really give that sense of empowerment and exhileration for me as well.  I REALLY need to get back to working out.  It's been about 2 weeks now since I last worked out.  I struggle between the "feel good" of working out and the "feel horrid" that occurs a few hours later as my planters fasciitis flares.  This is one cross that I am getting very frustrated carrying because it makes so many of my other goals harder to strive for...having an active life, doing stuff with kids, fixing healthy meals, getting chores done, etc.  What would Jesus say about bearing this burden?

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    The Last Hurrah of Summer

    After ushering Dan out the door to ComicCon and a mad scramble to get all the chores done that we ignored on Friday, I kept true to my promise to use our free zoo passes and then head to the beach at Lake Evergreen/ Comalara Park.  It's the last weekend before school starts and all our previous attempts were postponed due to the horrid heat of July.  We arrived home a half hour before a quick summer hail storm blew through.  Now I am looking forward cuddling up with the girls to reading a few chapters of "The Secret Zoo" before bed.
    Pool Graphic

    • Dan cheering me up in the morning and getting to spend a few minutes with him.  It's amazing how he can turn my mood around when I am feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
    • Kids doing their newly assigned chores (even though they did whine a lot).
    • Leif petting the chicken at the zoo...just too cute.
    • Sophia thanking me for taking them to the zoo completely unprompted!!
    • Repeatedly "rescuing" Josephine from drifting under the umbrella waterfall.
    • Sophia's sand castle...more like the river Nile after she added various grasses found near the lake.
    • Watching Leif dance.
    • Sophia thanking me for taking them to the beach, again, unprompted.

    Friday, August 12, 2011


    In Kathleen Hughes book, "Saying Amen: A Mystagogy Sacrament" she reflects on how each Sacrament embodies Christ's Passion...they each include life, death, and resurrection for the sake of Love.  Because the Sacarment of Marriage is the living of a life together, and not just the rite in itself, there are a million moments where this Passion can be seen.

    Every "little becoming" will entail one or more of these parts of the Passion.  I am usually more likely to share the "dying" more than the "rising", though that will remain to be seen, for surely they are equal in number.  Our Hope, our ability to persevere comes from the Grace given, the joy of all the little resurrections, which is far surpassing the pain of the endless little dyings.

    School of Holiness

    The Catholic Church has often referred to the family as a "school of holiness."  This blog is an effort to document some of our efforts to grow in holiness through the hard lessons of life.  When Dan and I married we were allowed to write our own vows...mostly because I wanted vows that took into consideration all that I had learned in my studies about the history and theology of marriage. "I, Sharla, take you Daniel, to be my husband in the community of the whole of life.  I vow to be faithful to you, to the Sacrament we are entering into, and to God, by whose grace we shall persevere."  There is so much meaning packed into that little statement that I still contemplate it in wonder and awe. 

    However, unlike the academic setting where the syllabus is clearly laid out, the School of Holiness follows a hidden course with lessons and pop quizzes at the most unlikely of moments. Little do we know what our community will continue to become, what all will be entailed in the "whole", what "life" and "lives" will be, how much the Sacrament of Marriage embodies the Passion, and just how much grace and perseverence it will require....all the "little becomings" that are happening on our way to heaven.