Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Second Time Around

They said it would be easier the second time around...

I remember when I had my second child I was told it would be easier.  And it was.  I was more comfortable as a parent.  I felt more confident with my decisions. Becoming a mom with my daughter was a delight and a blessing.  I soaked up the moments and was grateful to discover that this - THIS - was what God had in store for me.  Yet with the second time around, when I had my son, there was an ease not there before.  What a gift.

And time went by...

They said it would be easier the second time around...

When it was getting close to D's senior year people told me it would be easier.  And they were wrong.  Well, they were mostly wrong.  They said it would be easier since I'd been through it already with T.  And it was easier in that I knew what to expect and what to prep for his graduation and heading off to college.  However, emotionally it wasn't any easier at all.

My only son graduated in June.  It was a happy time.  And yet I felt that tug at my heart.  I sat down to try and write what I felt, but I couldn't.  

My only son went away for the first year of his college career in August.  It was a happy time.  And yet I felt that tug at my heart.  And the tears flowed.  I sat down to try and write what I felt, but I couldn't.

My only son turned 18 in September.  It was a happy time - a wonderful milestone.  And yet I felt that tug at my heart.  I sat down to try and write what I felt, but I couldn't.

He called me yesterday to talk about his college major.  When I hung up the phone, I reflected on this last year with him.  I've observed him mature and grow and really start to settle in and discover who he is. I look at him and see a young man, no longer a child, thinking things through, making responsible choices, and having fun.  I'm looking forward to watching him continue to spread his wings and I pray that he makes far more right decisions than wrong ones as he moves along the path in front of him.

Yet there is still that tugging at my heart. That sense of loss as I see him gaining so much independence.  I know that is how it is supposed to be.  And, although this is my second time around this block, it doesn't make it any easier. 

Sometimes the second time around is easier and sometimes it is the same and sometimes, I daresay, it may be more difficult.  Yet the second time around is always a blessing and gift.  My role as a momma is changing and I feel that more than ever this second time around sending a child off to college.  However, there is great peace in reflecting back on where I have been and great hope in what is in store for me. And this second child of mine, who fills my heart with such joy and love, makes seconds something I wouldn't miss for anything.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics.  Bitter and sweet.  Alike and different.  Weak and strong.  Take and give.  Rainy and sunny.  Noisy and quiet.  Nasty and nice.  Laughter and tears.  Family dynamics.  

Every family has its own unique dynamic.  Yet we can look at a family and see their dynamic at work.  What they say.  What they do.  How they interact.  How they joke.  They know how to lift each other up.  And how they can cut each other to the quick.

Learning to love your adult family when your relationships have not turned out how you hoped they would when you were growing up is a challenge.  Some days I come out on the top of that challenge and other days that challenge crushes me and brings me to my knees.

Generally, I try to see the good, remember the good, embrace the good in my siblings.  Actually, I think I try to do that in my life overall.  However, there are days when the nastiness comes forth and what I want to do is just close myself away from some of these people.  These people who are supposed to love me.  These people who are my family.  These people who have, at times, nourished my heart and have then scarred it.

Every once in a while a day comes along, something is said or repeated, and old hurts that I thought I'd left behind are stirred up.  When there is a fresh hurt, things that have been long forgotten get blown to the forefront of my mind.  And that is where I find myself today.  I'm in the middle of the sandstorm and am trying to pray myself through it and regain peace in my heart.

Today I feel battered and bruised, weak and alone.  Today I am mourning for the adult life I had envisioned with my siblings that has not developed.  During these times in my life when I'm feeling isolated from those God placed so closely to me, I am reminded of the one who never fails me, never leaves me.

We are brought to our knees in sadness many times in our lives.  Whatever the reason that has brought us there, if we just put our hurts, our pain, our desperation at His feet, He will help us through.  Today I am on my knees with a broken heart and God is whispering, "Look up, my child.  Look up to Me.  Let go.  Let go of the disappointment.  Let the painful memories settle far from your mind.  Let go and look to Me.  I know you.  I love you. Let go.  Let go so that your hands and mind and heart are open to receive what I have in store for you.  Let go and reach for Me."

And, because of this, there is hope in my heart.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walk With Me...

Now is the time of year when I see many fund raising walks for cures of diseases that have effected people I love - family and friends, and loved ones of family and friends. I want to see cures for these things that wreak havoc on so many.

These fundraising walks can be empowering for survivors, beautiful celebrations for families who have lost someone, and inspiration and support for those thick in the battle themselves.  Come together.  Walk together.  Lift each other up. Cry together.  Laugh together.  Celebrate your journey and the journeys of so many others.

Years ago I was asked to sponsor a breast cancer survivor as she embarked on a 3-day walk commemorating the battle she fought and won.  I cried with her diagnosis and cheered with her victory.  I happily donated for her walk and listened with joy as she shared her experience with me upon her return.

Shortly after that it was brought to my attention that Susan G. Komen gave grants to Planned Parenthood.  How disappointing to me that an organization fighting to find a cure for cancer would give money to benefit an organization that takes life.  As a Catholic, I could no longer give money to an organization that is attached to a business that kills.

After that, I did more research and found that many organizations doing research looking for cures to debilitating and life-threatening diseases do research with embryonic stem cells.  Because of my beliefs, I cannot donate to these places.

Friends would post that they were walking for breast cancer, muscular dystrophy, ovarian cancer, etc., etc. and I would check out the sites hoping and praying that I could help them.  They had suffered.  They had struggled.  They watched loved ones battle. They were searching for a cure and I want to see cures found!  However, I have yet to find a fundraising walk that I can donate to that does not do research in part with embryonic stem cells or give grants to an organization that performs abortion after abortion.

A family member battled and conquered breast cancer. What a joyous celebration!  She fought a difficult and most challenging opponent and she came out on top!  And then she asked me to join her team and walk with her.  How wonderful it would be to be able to take her hand and walk with her - physically be there with her and so many others who were touched in some way by this disease.  It was a heart wrenching decision, but I had to tell her no. And our relationship suffered a deep rift that has only slowly healed, although is still scarred today.

I am so proud of those who I know personally, and those who I don't know at all for that matter, who have fought diseases with grace, strength, and perseverance.  Some have lost the battle, although they have been brave and inspiring.  Others are at the beginning of the battle, just getting their footing.  There are warriors in the thick of it, suffering losses and victories, and keeping their tenacious focus on what they hope will one day be the final victory. Some have won their battle and are ever-changed from their personal journeys and experiences.  I celebrate these people.  I am in awe of them. Their strength and their courage inspires me, touches my heart, and brings me to tears.
However, being Catholic I cannot in good conscience donate to or participate in something that does research which also goes against my beliefs about life. It is challenging finding organizations that do not work with embryonic stem cells in their research or themselves give grant money to abortion facilities, but it can be done.  If the time comes when research to obliterate a disease in our society doesn't obliterate a life in the process, it will be a time to rejoice.  That will be a time when I, with great exuberance, will take your hand and walk with you.

"If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way."  St. Thomas Aquinas 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Knew At This Moment

I don't claim to be a poet or a writer, but I do like to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) from time to time.  Today I celebrate the beautiful day 22 years ago when I became a wife. Here is my reflection on our life together so far...

He walked across the room
And my heart began to pound
Who knew at that moment
He would always be around

Then when we were dating
He leaned in for a kiss
Who knew at that moment
That life was such pure bliss

He took my hand at dinner
And slid on it a ring
Who knew at that moment
How sweet a heart can sing

Then when we were married
Our life as “one” began
Who knew at that moment
That life could be so grand

Then we had a baby girl
A blessing from above
Who knew at that moment
A heart could hold such love

A boy came not too far along
And then another girl
Who knew at that moment
These kids would be our world

These moments turned to hours
Then days, then weeks, then years
Who knew all these moments
Would make a masterpiece

"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Mark 10:9

Thursday, January 9, 2014


As long as I can remember, those beads were never far from her hands.

My mom, the youngest of 8 children raised by a single mom, was given my Nana's rosary when she passed away early in the 70's.  Since then, that rosary has never been far from my momma's hands.

A simple rosary.  Made of glass beads and chain and a crucifix and a medal.  Things.  A simple rosary.  Yet part of her.  And part of her mother. 

As long as I can remember, that is the rosary my mom would use to pray the beautiful prayer where the Mother of God, our Mother Mary, points us to her son and inspires us to reflect on Jesus' life.  Everything in the rosary and everything about Mary always leads us to her son.  That is her role, and she still does that for us earthly children today.

As long as I can remember, my mom has received other rosaries. Some beautiful and exquisite and some plain and ordinary.  Yet the one that she always went back to and the one that she treasured was her mom's rosary. 

As long as I can remember, there have been times when the beads were missing.  What happened?  Where were they?  When were they last seen?  After searching ourselves, we would pray to St. Anthony and ask for his intercession and he always pulled through for us.

I've walked into my mom's room as a child and now as an adult and found her sleeping with the beads either loose in her hand or resting next to her.  She often would fall asleep while touching these beads and praying - bringing joys, thoughts, concerns, worries, blessings, thanksgivings, sadness to her God.  As long as I can remember, the beads would be in her pocket or next to her on the sofa or on the table right by her bed.

When my mom had her stroke, from the moment we went to the hospital not even knowing yet what was wrong, she held those beads.  She would awake from a rest and her hands would move and she would search for those beads.  They would be in her hands until she needed to have a test when she would pass them to myself or my sister or my dad, knowing that as soon as she was done that she would have them back.  She would stir in her sleep and her hands would start to skim the sheets. "Here is your rosary, Mom."  Her fingers would close around the beads and a bit of peace would be restored.

As long as I can remember, those beads have spoken.  They've spoken of comfort and strength.  They've spoken of perseverance in prayer.  They've spoken of pain and sorrow.  They've spoken of trust.  They've spoken of a mother's connection to her children.  They've spoken of a child's connection to her momma.  They've spoken of where you turn in happiness and where you turn in sadness. 

Since her stroke, she has misplaced the beads a little more often.  There were a couple of times that we thought they might be gone for good.  Yet, by God's grace, they have always been found.

So last night when I went to my parent's home I was surprised when my mom handed me a note and a small pouch. The note began in my mom's writing, continued in my dad's, and ended with my mom's signature:

To my youngest child,
I did want to give this to my youngest child. Aunt D gave this to me when Nana died and since I was the youngest, I wanted my youngest to receive it...So here's to my beautiful daughter who I love very much. Enjoy using this rosary as much as I have.
God Bless,

As long as I can remember, those beads have been an extension of my mom and now she has entrusted them to me.  A mom guides her children, she points the way, she shines a light, and prays that her children will not go astray.  A mom sets an example and fills a home with love. 

Today I look down at my own hands, so very much like my momma's.  I look at my hands and see the beads of my Nana, the beads of my mom, gently resting in my palm.  I feel the love of these woman and pray that these unworthy hands, holding these precious beads, can set even a bit of the example of motherhood and love of God that my momma has taught and continues to instill in me today.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:25-31


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Wondering when it is okay to make jokes at a someone else's expense.  Is it ever ok?  I really want to know.

Someone posted on Facebook today concerning their disappointment that school was called off once again for tomorrow.  Understandable post as many people have mixed feelings about whether school should be cancelled or not.  The post generated many comments on both sides of the debate.  It was interesting to read the comments to see where people were coming from and what their thoughts were on the topic.

And then I read this:  "I started home schooling (his child's name) yesterday, already her hair and hemline are longer, neckline higher, she wishes she had 18 brothers and sisters and is hoping (his wife) becomes pregnant some time real soon, gosh darn it". 

When I read it my heart started pounding.  I get it. OK?  I get it.  He was trying to be funny.  Would I have thought this was funny at some point in my life?  Maybe.  I certainly may have.  Did I think it was funny today?  No.  In fact, it kind of bothered me.

So, what should I have done?  What would you have done?  Should I have said something or should I have just left it alone?  I don't know this gentleman at all.  I am an acquaintance with the gal who made the first post, but we don't really have many mutual friends.  So, what should I have done?

I'll tell you what I did.  I said a little prayer, took a deep breath and typed, "(his name) - wondering if you personally know any homeschooling families. I have the privilege of personally knowing many families who beautifully, creatively, and intelligently homeschool their children. I'm guessing you were trying to be funny, but that is a real mischaracterization of the majority of families who homeschool their children."

He didn't answer my query, but just replied to say that yes, he was trying to be funny.  Then someone else replied that he was.

I thought about replying again, said another little prayer, and decided that I had said enough.  I tried to plant a seed.  Maybe someone will read that and rethink making a generalization about a group of people.

It made me start to wonder if he had made a comment like that making a caricature of a family dealing with autism, depression, cancer, mental illness, speech impediments, etc. if it would have gone over so well.  Would so many people "like" a comment like that?  Would it be deemed inappropriate?  Why does it seem as though certain topics are ok to poke fun at and others are off-limits?

As a teenager I remember watching a video with my family, "Bill Cosby:  Himself."  He poked fun and exaggerated a lot of things about his family and himself.  His marriage.  His children.  Getting a cavity filled at the dentist.  Fatherhood.  He's having fun with things that he knows; things that he lives.  To me, this is a very different kind of humor than poking fun or exaggerating something of which you know very little.

Our world is filled with so many people who have made different choices from us.  We certainly aren't going to agree with what everyone has decided for themselves.  How would the world be different, though, if we tried to get to know why people made the choices they have made?  How might we speak differently if we tried to understand people even if we don't agree with what they are doing? 

Something to think about.  Or maybe not.  I'm still learning.  I'm still changing and figuring things out.  What do you think?  Do you know the right answer in this scenario?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Ephesians 4:29