A DYNAMIC Prayer Life

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:FB_IMG_1423155109916

  • 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.

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My Plan Vs God’s Plan

Got-a-Plan

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

Lord Help Me I’m Fat!

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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

The Vacation Mirror

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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

Sustainable: How Sustainable are YOU?

Sustainable developement 2

 

Adjective: able to be maintained at a certain rate or level; able to be upheld or defended. (Miriam-Webster)

The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere = to hold & sun = up), thus the Miriam-Webster definition of upheld or maintained.  In 1987 the Bruntland Commission of the United Nations (UN) defined the concept of sustainable development as “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Once the concept of sustainable development was loosely defined, it took off. Not only has sustainability turned into its’ own industry, but it is now a widely used marketing concept. We hear the concept of sustainability applied to food, cloths, fabrics, building materials and other piece goods. We hear the concept of sustainability also applied to plant and animal life. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) even had an Animal Welfare and Sustainable Development Conference  in Brussels (2012) to discuss its’ Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) through 2015, which it defined as “Continuing to promote high animal health and welfare standards in the EU and internationally.”

I take no issue with any aforementioned sustainable development plans. As a Christian woman I have a responsibility to God’s earth and the life found in it. Genesis 1:28

God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.

Genesis Chapter One reminds us that the whole human race is made in the image and likeness of God and has dominion over the earth. As a human, I must be respectful of the dominion given to me by God. The Lord is telling humans that we have responsibility to all living things on the earth; they do not have responsibility to us. For example, I have dominion over my cat Larry. It is my responsibility to take care of Larry; it is not Larry’s responsibility to take care of me.

Why do we apply this concept of sustainable development to everything from food to textiles but we don’t apply it to the human beings to whom God gave special dominion? We often don’t uphold or maintain human life and ironically this is done to support the sustainability of future generations. How does this make sense? Continue reading

Let Go and Let God?

Proverbs 30.16

Sheol, a barren womb,

land that never gets its fill of water,

and fire, which never says, “Enough!”


Yesterday I was at the Doctor’s office. I’m now a mature woman in my EARLY 40’s, but when I was a young girl I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It was the aggressive stuff that less than 2% of woman with endometriosis experience. I was stubborn and despite 3 nerve blocks and weekly visits to the pain management clinic, I would not have a hysterectomy. Over the course of the next 11 years I would have 13 surgeries. In my 20’s & early 30’s I just refused to accept that I would not give birth to my own children. It was not until I was 36 that I realized I was out of options and consented to a total abdominal hysterectomy. Uterus, ovaries and cervix are all gone. Immediately post operative, my physical pain was relieved and I was able to stop all pain management.  In the years since my hysterectomy, I have been diagnosed with a general autoimmune disorder resulting in multiple bouts of pleurisy and other inappropriate immune responses.  My Doctor’s believe that my autoimmune issues may have been what caused my endometriosis to be so aggressive; conversely, my endometriosis treatments (such has chemotherapy) may be what have angered my immune system. It’s a ‘what came first’ scenario.

Anyhoo, back to my Doctor’s appointment yesterday. I was meeting with an endocrinologist regarding my thyroid. He asked the same question as my internist and gynecologist before him, “Do you work?” I responded with the same answer I gave the other doctors and told him that I do work. He then gave me a familiar response, “Can you work less?” And there it was. The question my husband and I have been pondering for the past four years.

There were two predominant issues that kept me working full-time. One was my desire to adopt a child. Prior to my hysterectomy I was obsessed with preserving my fertility. Post hysterectomy I became obsessed with adoption. The second issue was that my step-sons were in chaos. I feel the need to define their chaos: their mother had a child with a married man, this man and his two-year old son were often spending overnights in their home, threats to be moved out-of-state, a cousin who is transitioning gender from female to male, depressive episodes, and everything else that comes with disorder in the home. I don’t have to tell any reader with children that when they are in chaos, it can be a financial strain that you will gladly carry to remove them from a state of disorder and place them back into a state of order. Both of these issues have since resolved (though not in the way I desired).   Continue reading

Step-parenting is REALLY hard (but not for the reasons you might think)

I have the privilege of step-parenting two boys. I’m unable to have children and I was lucky enough to marry a man with two. I love these kids. They are one of my greatest sources of joy and they are one of my greatest sources of pain. I imagine, in that way, step-parenting is very similar to organic parenting. For the sake of this blog post I’m defining organic parenting as a child living with a custodial mother and father who are either biological or adoptive. Organic parenting involves a child being in your home full-time and decisions (good and bad) are made by both mom and dad. Organic parenting is natural. It’s never perfect and it’s not always successful; but it is the best parenting model. It’s been tested; it’s the old tried and true. Organic parenting is the only parenting model which unites children with both their mother and father.

Step-parenting is none of these things. It’s not organic. My step children are not in our home full-time; they split their time between two homes. Decisions (good and bad) are not made by both mom and dad. My step children do not get to experience a parenting model which unites them with both their mother and father. My step children have to live with a parenting model in which mom and dad are split. It’s not natural; nothing organic about it.

What makes step-parenting difficult is that there is nothing a step-parent can do to rectify this situation for their step-children. Many adults are unable to acknowledge that this problem even exists. Just the mere mention that step-children do not get to experience an organic parenting model angers many adults. We have created soft phrases to describe split parenting such as “co-parenting” or “modern family.” Continue reading