When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I was a child pondering this question in the 80’s. This was a time when little girls were encouraged to pursue professions traditionally held by men. Most of my girlfriends proudly boasted their plans to be doctors, attorneys, research scientists and even pilots. Our mothers were starting to work outside of the home which expanded our ideas.
What did I want to be when I grew up? I had a clear answer to this question from the time I was five years old; I wanted to be a mother. Some of my best friends were surprised by my desire for motherhood partly because it was not fashionable and partly because my demeanor was not sensitive or sentimental. I was happy for my friends who were going to pursue their glamorous professions, but my desire never changed. I wanted to be a mother a 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and even today at the ripe old age of 41. I think my desire to mother a child has been the only constant in my life. Continue reading
Sometimes I troll social media to see what is going on in my two stepson’s (S & C) lives. Eric, my husband, and I have been unable to obtain transparency from S & C or their mother through the years. It’s not the kids’ fault; they have learned by example. Their mother has taught them to keep many secrets from us. When S & C are stressed, run down, or acting out I check out the internet to see what sort of chaos is going on in their lives. I’m unapologetic about it. When we know what is going on in my stepsons’ lives, we are able to deploy our prayer, time and resources to help them cope.
Recently, on one such mission, I reported to my husband that the boys were just hanging out with their cousin Mike. Eric informed me that the boys do not have a cousin named Mike. “Well, there sure are a lot of photos with S & C and their cousin Mike on Facebook,” I replied. My husband was annoyed. He came to the computer to take a look. In shock and disbelief, he informed me that the male Mike in the photos was actually the boys’ female cousin Michelle.
Upon discussing this with S & C we learned that Michelle identified as trans-gendered and had started the process of transitioning from female to male about two years prior when our sons were 13 & 9. We asked the kids how this was presented to them and were saddened to learn that they were simply told to start calling Michelle by her chosen name of Mike and to start referring to her in the masculine. We asked the boys how they were feeling about this new reality (which they had been dealing with for almost two years before we found out). Our oldest expressed being uncomfortable with having to share the boys’ bedroom with Michelle while on family vacations (especially while she still had breasts). Our youngest asked Eric and me how they removed Michelle’s breasts. These were difficult conversations to have.
I’m a Catechist for the Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). I lead the RCIA for Children class at my old home Parish. We provide catechesis (religious Ed) for the children of Catholic converts who are entering the church during the Easter Vigil. One of the things I find the most challenging about leading this group is that the children are of various ages (8-17) and have such diverse religious backgrounds. Some are just learning about Jesus for the first time; while others already have an intimate relationship with Him through their Protestant background.
We have recently been studying God’s Ten Commandments. Children, much like adults, don’t care for rules. Teaching others about God’s commandments is challenging because as a society we don’t like being told what to do; not even from God and especially not from His Church. I understand why children feel this way as they have yet to form their consciences. I admit to becoming a bit more frustrated with adults, who like me, struggle with pride and often neglect God’s laws. Continue reading
During the Christmas Vigil Mass, St. Brendan gifted one copy of The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, by Matthew Kelly to each household. It was a pleasant surprise and reminded me once again how awesome my home parish is!
Matthew Kelly studied parishioner’s church engagement and summarizes the following in his book:
- 4% of registered parishioners contribute 80% of the volunteer hours in a parish. 6.8% of the registered parishioners donate 80% of the financial contributions. There is an 84% overlap between these two groups.
- The aforementioned stats mean that 7% of Catholics are accomplishing more than 80% of what the Catholic Church is doing in America today. The Catholic Church is already the largest charitable organization in the world; imagine how engaging just another 1% of Catholics could change the world. Wow, chew on that for a bit.
- Highly engaged Catholics (the 7% who are accomplishing 80% of the Church’s work in America) are aptly named Dynamic Catholics and have four things in common. The four signs of a Dynamic Catholic are:
- Prayer: Daily prayer routine.
- Study: Students of Jesus who spend on average 14 minutes daily learning about Christ, His teachings and His Church.
- Generosity: Generous with their time, talent, & money. Generous with love in their daily lives.
- Evangelization: Invite others to grow spiritually by sharing your love of God with others.
The reading (Gospel Mk 1:14-20) from last Sunday’s Mass really got me thinking. In this Gospel story from Mark, Jesus is asking Simon and Andrew to drop their plans and follow Him. Now, Simon and Andrew had a pretty good plan for their lives; they were fishermen. Fishing was their vocation, family business and livelihood. Christ says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Gospel reveals: Then they abandoned their nets and followed Him. Additionally, James and John drop their plans to follow Christ shortly thereafter. Not only was Jesus asking them to modify their vision, but He was ultimately asking them to do something that required a new skill set. He was taking these men out of their comfort zones. These guys had their entire lives figured out; they had big plans which they abandoned for Jesus’s plan. As a person who can struggle with God’s will or plan for my life; I find this truly AMAZING.
About 18 months ago, my husband Eric and I realized that we needed to sell our home and move closer to my stepsons. They are getting older and their schedules are busier. Their mother is single mom with an additional toddler whose father is absent. Additionally, my stepsons have experienced chronic health needs which require regular physician visits. It was getting harder for us to manage this dynamic from across town; we needed to move closer to the custodial parent. We sold our home and moved into a rental 5 miles from the kids in their school district.
We had GREAT plans for this move. It would allow us to see the kids more. They could spend more time in our home. We envisioned our home being a quiet get-away from the chaos of their home. We would meet for ice-cream or a quick movie on the weekend. The kids could come over and watch football with their dad. Eric and I would know about (and attend) school functions because we would be just up the road. The boys would come to see our home as their home and not just a place they visit every other weekend. Yep, that was OUR PLAN. It was a good plan, surely God would approve. Continue reading
I’ve really procrastinated writing this particulate blog entry as well as delaying its post. But I’m blessed to have a husband that believes in me and has held me to task, so here it goes…..
Does the world hate fat people? I don’t think so. I have a little more faith in humanity, but I do think there is a general uncomfortableness and aversion. At worst, there is a widespread disapproval. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we have all felt that sense of dread when an obese person is assigned to the seat next to us on the plane. We have felt disgusted when watching the overweight friend or family member overindulged in pizza, sweets or soda. Repeatedly our society has portrayed being fat as a death sentence or personal choice. There is certainly some truth in that, but it’s not the whole truth. Biology, genetics, illnesses, and social/emotional factors also contribute to being overweight and some of these issues are not within our control. Lastly, not all thin people are healthy and not all overweight people are unhealthy. Continue reading
Sorry I’ve been away. We have been in a post vacation coma of sorts. When we woke up it was back to school time; which meant neglect for the blog. My boys are currently watching the Ohio State football game with hot homemade submarine sandwiches in their bellies. This leaves me with some time to write.
For vacation this year Eric and I returned to the house in Emerald Isle, NC where we spent our honeymoon. The beach house is owned by a friend and a weak long stay was gifted to us when we were married. It really is a special place filled with warm memories. This is our first return since our honeymoon and this time we had my mother and my step-sons S-man and C-man in tow. The kids have affectionately named my Brooklyn grown mother “MeMaw.” It’s funny because that name encompasses the antithesis of who my mom is. My mother is a cosmopolitan woman who would prefer her grandchildren call her by her first name Chris in public. My boys think she is a hoot and very different from any grandmother they know. They call her MeMaw; even my mother appreciates the irony. Continue reading