Showing posts from March, 2015

Thirty-six: Special

"I feel like I'm missing something very special." ~ Haley Steyer, age 5
We were at church, as we were most Sundays. I was wrangling a horde of small children and doing my best to pay attention to worship. Beckoned by the usher, we made our way to the Communion rail to share in the Meal. Haley watched with eager eyes as Pastor G placed the host in my hand and moved on to her. He placed his hand on her head and blessed her, "Defend and protect, O Lord, this your child and the covenant you made with her in Baptism."

Upon returning to our seats, Haley climbed up in my lap and started sobbing. Upon asking her what was wrong, her tear-filled eyes met mine, "I feel like I'm missing something very special!" I knew then that she was ready to make her first Holy Communion - that her heart knew what her mind couldn't yet wrap around. She felt that this Meal was set apart, sacred, and something special in which to participate.

I was thinking about this as I …

Thirty-five: Pajamas

There should be a law that there's a pajama day every few weeks. ~Alyson Hannigan 
Pajamas is a good Lenten word, isn't it? 
What about Sabbath? Does that sound more Lenten to you?
As we enter Holy Week, and following a long weekend that was anything but restful, it was decided that a Pajama Day was in order. As much as my ocd wants to unpack from the Conference, get all the things done, and have the kids get their rooms clean, we all need a pajama day, a Sabbath. No work, except for what feeds our souls or is absolutely necessary. No major cleaning projects. No forced labor. 
Reading, board games, dreaming, sharing, creating, singing, and playing are all excellent pajama day endeavors. Napping is good, too. 
As I type, I've already accomplished sleeping in. Well, sleeping until 8am, which seems like sleeping in some days. And I've watched Pirates of the Caribbean bloopers with my kids and laughed a lot. Eventually I'll actually get out of bed. 
It's wonderful to hav…

Thirty-four: Superpowers

I make milk. What's your superpower? ~bumper sticker seen in parking lot at La Leche League conference today
We all have superpowers.
I've had different superpowers at different stages of my life. 
As a child, I had the power to make my mother laugh when she was mad at me. 
As a teenager, I had the power to make my mother laugh when she got mad at me.
As a young twenty-something, I had the power to make my husband laugh... well, you get the picture.
And then I became a Mama.

My body nourished my son for over nine months, and then continued to do so through breastfeeding. It amazed me every single time he latched on. My body was making milk that was sustaining this little life. Astounding. And I continued to use this superpower to nurse my next child, and the child after that, and so on for over fourteen years. My youngest child weaned long ago, but I am still agog at the superpower women (and a few men!) have to fully nourish little human beings with their milk, not to mention protec…

Thirty-three: Celebrate

Sometimes my body wakes me up and says 'Hey, you haven't had pain in a while. How about pain?' And sometimes I can't breathe, and that's hard to live with. But I still celebrate life and don't give up. ~Mattie Stepanik
It's going to be a crazy weekend, guaranteed. My body doesn't seem to care or wish to give me any type of break. Alarm set for 4:30AM to be out of the house by 5:15AM wouldn't be so bad if the pain wasn't so bad I couldn't sleep. Today is going to be an interesting day. 

Setting up the silent auction shouldn't be a problem ... after I get some coffee and medication in my system. Haley will be there to help. Sitting and listening to interesting speakers should be great. Lunch that I don't need to prepare will be wonderful. Tallying up everyone's auction winnings and getting the proper items to the correct people in a timely and efficient manner after a long day and no sleep should be interesting. Thank goodness for a …

Thirty-two: Spring

Spring won't let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again. ~Gustav Mahler
Spring. Ah, Spring. It's above 45 degrees here in Connecticut. Spring!

Today I'm opening windows, letting in the fresh air. My children can complain all they want that it's cold. That's what sweatshirts are for. Deal with it - it's Spring!

It's also supposed to rain on and off all day. I'm hoping the rain will wash away what remains of the snow. My yard could use a good cleaning, and I yearn to see green.

I can barely wait to go outside just to breathe. I want so much to pack a backpack and take off for my favorite local hiking trail. I yearn to sit on the rock and watch the pond come alive. Hopefully in a couple months my body will be healthy enough to comply with my longings.

Until then, I'll celebrate the greening of the world in my own way, drinking in fresh air and marveling at all the little miracles in my own back yard. 


Thirty-one: Breathe

For me, it is OK as long as I can breathe, as long as my heart is pumping, as long as I can express myself. ~ Ai Weiwei
It's been a long couple days.  Oh, wait, it's only been one day. 

On Remicade, my immune system is compromised, so when Alia uttered the words, "I'm going to puke," I had a moment of panic. Then I woke my husband and he dealt with the mess. I had slept maybe two hours at that point, and it was nearly 5AM. We got out the vinyl-encased camp mattress, sheets, blankets, the small washable pillow, a puke bucket, and water to sip and set Alia up in the dining room for the little time that remained of the night. Her bedroom upstairs and the bathroom downstairs, our dining room is the nightly sick room.

My husband returned to bed while I helped Alia settle in. He was sleep in seconds. Upon returning to bed, I tried to sleep once again and failed, my mind racing with the what-ifs of everyone getting sick. So I did what I always do. 

I took deep breaths. I pr…

Thirty: Clean

Sunday mornings are hard, especially after unusually late Saturday nights...

Every one of my children was grumpy, whiny, or just plain out of sorts. They were treating each other badly, feeding off each others' anger or lack of patience. 

I was exhausted. I was in pain. I had very little sleep. I also had very little patience upon getting out of bed and that was used up trying to drag five tired children from their warm, comfy beds. I had a house to clean, preparations to make for a gathering that afternoon - and little time to do it after worship and Earthkeeping Team and feeding a horde of ungrateful children lunch. 

My children's horrible behavior evoked anger and resentment. Why couldn't they just suck it up so we could all have a good day? Why were they doing this to me? I got up early to make french toast for breakfast and in exchange got grumbling and procrastination. I spoke nicely and kindly and in return received arguments and children throwing things at other child…

Twenty-nine: Arrow

Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.You may give them your love but not your thoughts.For they have their own thoughts.You may house their bodies but not their souls,For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;For even as he loves the arrow that flies,so He loves also the bow that is stable.~ Kahlil GibranI read this at a Women's Circle in celebration of womanhood. During the circle, we honored and celebrated m…

Twenty-eight: Explore

“Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. Everything is fascinating and holds their attention as they explore their new surroundings. Adults however, have grown up hearing the word ‘no’, ‘don't do that,’ and ‘quit daydreaming so often, they create their own little world, a world with lots of limitations. What then do most adults teach to their children? ‘No’, ‘don't do that,’ and ‘quit daydreaming.’ So, what can you learn from a child today…?”   ~James A. MurphyI'm about to head out the door with two of my children to explore the Children's Museum. Most people consider this a wonderful learning experience for the children. I consider this an amazing opportunity to learn from my children.

You see, I've forgotten most of what I intrinsically knew as a child about exploring. I need them to teach me, once again, to be fascinated with things I would tend to consider mundane or miss altogether; to explore things in the same way I encourage them to explore.


Twenty-seven: Teach

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate then they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - Nelson Mandela
In my family, we seldom use the word hate to describe something, and never to describe someone. Hate is a very powerful word and a formidable emotion. Hate can ruin your life.
In my family, we often use the word love to describe something, and almost always to describe someone. Love is a very powerful word and a compelling emotion. Love can save your life.
Be careful with your words and emotions. Be careful what you teach your children, through words and through actions.
Teach love, not hate. Teach peace, not hate. Teach kindness, not hate. Teach acceptance, not hate. Teach forgiveness, not hate.

Forty Days In Thought, Word, and Deed

Twenty-six: Joy

“There were thousands and thousands of forms of joy in the world, but that all were essentially one and the same, namely, the joy of being able to love.”   - Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

I thought I knew what joy was.
I really thought I knew what joy was. Then I fell in love. 
It was then I thought I knew joy. 
Then I got pregnant.
This must be the joy of all joys, I assumed. 
Holding my child in my arms for the first time, I knew - I just knew- that this was the ultimate joy. What joy is greater than bringing a child into the world? What brings more joy than a baby's smile? 
I thought I knew what love was.
I really thought I knew what love was. Then I fell in love. 
It was then I thought I knew love. 
Then I got pregnant.
This must be the love of all loves, I assumed. 
Holding my child in my arms for the first time, I knew - I just knew- that this was the ultimate love. What love is greater than one's love for their child? 
And then it happened. It was during Easter Vigil worship s…

Twenty-five: Laughter

You grow up the day you have the first real laugh at yourself.  ~Ethel Barrymore
Laughter is my favorite companion, my best weapon, and a true lifesaver. 
I've been using laughter my entire life to disarm people, especially my Mom. As hard as she tried, she found it difficult to remain angry at a child who was making her laugh. I use the same ninja laughing techniques on my children when they're doing their best to be angry, much to their chagrin. 
Laughter has gotten me out of lots of tight spots. It has saved my life more than once. Laughter finds its way into the cracks of depression and overpowers the darkness with its bright light. It brings people together, initiates and renews friendships, creates bonds.
But laughter can be brutal as well. Caustic laughter directed at someone's perceived deficit can wound one's soul.  It eats away at the one laughing perhaps just as much as the one made to feel less than in some way.
As children we find it easier to laugh at others t…

Twenty-four: Potential

“Just when you think it can't get any worse, it can. And just when you think it can't get any better, it can.”  ~Nicholas Sparks, "At First Sight"
Each day holds great potential: potential to get worse, or potential to get better. Often the direction of my day depends on my attitude. 

I started out yesterday with a bad attitude. I was up much too early. I had to navigate icy roads and horrible traffic to get my daughter to her 8:00AM camp physical / seven year check-up. The trip took fifty minutes instead of the usual twenty-five. I was exhausted before we even left the house due to waking up countless times throughout the night in pain. 

My ever-cheerful and very talkative seven year old did nothing to improve my mood, as cheerfulness is excruciating to this grumpy non-morning person. To add to the mess that was my mood, I was trying to act like a nice and pleasant Mama, and nothing annoys me more than fake happy.

Sitting in the parking lot that was the highway, I didn&…

Twenty-three: Prayer

I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or do that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I pray for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things. ~Mother Theresa (with thanks to Hannah Myjak for posting this on facebook!)
There is a young woman whom I have come to greatly admire. Her giving spirit and big heart are evident from the moment you meet her. Her passion for life, for helping others, and for following her dreams not only inspires me to do more and be more, but implores me to. Hannah is an amazing artist, a wonderful teacher, a compassionate caregiver, and just an all-around amazing teenager. I find myself inspired by her daily, as she posts on facebook amazing quotes that echo her heart (such as the Mother Theresa quote above) along with artwork, snippets of amusing and heartwarming conversations, an…

Twenty-two: Example

Our eyes are a lot more open to examples than our ears are to advice. ~posted by Chris in the infusion room at my rheumatologist's office
We are an unschooling family as opposed to a homeschooling family. We do not do school at home. We don't do lessons at home. We do learn a lot. We learn by doing. We learn by discovering things on our own or together. And we learn by example.

At the moment two of my children are arguing over one child cleaning more than their fair share - it appears mopping and de-cobwebbing the house are much-sought-after activities. My daughter asked if she could add a task to the cleaning list this morning because she felt like washing windows. People are amazed that my children help clean the house. I'm not surprised at all, as the example we've set is one of everyone helping to keep it tidy.

We set the example of being kind to one another, of giving with joy when and where we can, and we try our best to model the behavior we hope our children emula…

Twenty-one: Talk

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29
Each word a gift? I think I may have given some bad gifts lately.

Overtired, overmedicated, and just plain worn out, angry words flew from my mouth. It was if I was taken over by some mean, grumpy beast and I couldn't stop myself. I immediately regretted flinging such bile at my children. I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer, and apologized. Really apologized, being specific in my regret, asking forgiveness. 

I don't like it when my mouth reacts more quickly to a situation than my brain; when negative emotions overrule love. It's something that doesn't happen often, but doesn't need to happen at all. Reacting in anger, complaining about a situation, or criticizing a person's actions only serves to promote negativity and cause our moods to wither. Reacting with helpful words, figuring out how to be improve a situation, and reserving y…

Twenty: Confession

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:15-16
Silence can be awkward. Most people don't deal well with public silence, whether it's a moment of silence in remembrance of someone or that silence that comes during worship when we are to confess our sins in the presence of God and one another. Have you ever taken notice of the amount of fidgeting, coughing, whispering, and shuffling of feet that takes place during "silence?" 

I, however, love the silence. I love times of quiet reflection. I take seriously the time during worship when we are to confess our sins, and often find that the presiding minister must think highly of the congregation to make that confessional time so short. Either that, or I'm a very very bad person. 

I have a confession to make. I used to lie to priests. While in Confession.

You see, I was a good little Catholic girl who really…

Nineteen: Receiving

It's funny. Quotes on the blessings of giving are abounding, but quotes on the blessings of receiving, not so much.
Many of us are good givers. We like to help out where and when we can. We find it a blessing to do for others. Giving comes with ease. The Bible talks about giving. Most religious texts talk about the blessings of giving. Lots of people talk and write and live the joy of giving.

Receiving should be easier than giving, right? We always welcome gifts and kind words. Well, usually. Maybe? 

Sometimes a compliment is difficult to accept when we're not feeling so hot about ourselves. Often times help is difficult to receive when we are the most in need, when we are at our most vulnerable. A job is lost, someone gets sick, a car breaks down ... something happens to tip us over the edge from doing ok to being in need.  We try to explain our situation, to validate the person's assistance further, when they are simply trying to help- to do what comes so naturally to us wh…

Eighteen: Moments

Oh, if life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one - But if life were only moments, then you'd never know you had one. ~Baker's Wife, Into the Woods
I've seen the movie Into the Woods twice in the past two weeks thanks to interested children and a discount movie theater. So many thoughts are running through my mind based on the words and lyrics and circumstances in the musical. Today, the lyrics above were running through my head. 

We all find ourselves wishing that life could be good, that every moment could be better than the last. That we could capture moments and hold onto them. That we could create endless amazing moments for our loved ones and for ourselves. 

Seeing Into the Woods for the first time - or should I say attempting to see Into the Woods for the first time - produced just such moments. Crazy traffic and detours on the way there mixed with wacky conversations with my fourteen-year-old about the strangest things. We obtained tickets and munchies, …

Seventeen: Value

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~C.S. Lewis
As much as art enriches our environment, friendships enrich our lives. My life is a very rich one thanks to some wonderful people who bless me with their presence, their prayers, and their caring.

My life is better with friends who stop by to say hi and don't care that I'm still in my pjs and my hair is standing on end. Or friends who bring me gluten-free Chinese food because it comes from So Very Far Away and they were there so why not. My life is enhanced by friends who send me messages and don't freak out when it takes me hours, if not days, to get back to them. My life is saved by friends who offer gentle hugs, understanding words, and let me know that they care - and that, when concerned, tell me like it is, not matter how difficult it may be for me to hear.

I could survive life without friends, but would find it sor…

Sixteen: Share

Don't you do too much? 
This is usually asked of me as I mention committee meetings, planning sessions, teaching classes, projects we're working on, and all the things that I do on a volunteer basis.

The truth is, these things feed my soul. If they didn't, I wouldn't be doing them. They get me out of the house, give me an opportunity to interact with others, and bless me with a chance to give of my time and talents. They are things I can do in small bursts, as my physical ability permits. Doing these things fills me with joy and leaves me with more than I gave. 

Wouldn't it be better if you sold that stuff and made a little extra money?

This is usually asked of me as I talk about making another run with donations for the thrift store or clothing drop-off. 
The truth is, a little extra money would be great. But what's even better is spending the time and energy I'd use holding a tag sale or listing things for sale online, instead doing something much more enterta…

Fourteen: Poem

Every single soul is a poem.   Michael Franti
They are found in the most unexpected places. People enter my life, sometimes for a moment, sometimes to stay, their poetry in some way leaving an indelible mark. 

Just the other day, as I was sitting in a surgical center waiting room, there were two souls that captured my eye and then my heart. The were a father son duo, waiting for the child's brother to get out of surgery. The tattoo-covered Dad and his rock star son seemed to be ruling the waiting room as I approached. One glance my way, and Dad respectfully requested that his son move the pile of dinosaurs out of my way so I could crutch my way to a seat, and the rock star of a boy did so without hesitation. 

This boy had energy, going form dinosaurs to slushie to Daddy's lap to climbing on the chairs. Dad used few words when giving directions: "Sit, please." "Come here." He used many when his boy was in his lap, "Yes, we'll see brother soon. The doct…