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Friday, September 15, 2017

EMbrace the moment

Bracing for the storm

Yes, my community was affected by hurricane Irma. Luckily and by the grace of God, we made it up to family in the D.C. area in time. It's an unexpected blessing to spend time with family and friends. Our home had relatively minor damage, I don't have the stress of having 5 children in a place where water, gas and food are questionables, I am basically unscathed.

But this morning I realized the stress still gets to you. We are all so different, have our own challenges in life, and one of mine is not bracing for the storm. Let me see if I can explain. 

The way I am wired, I don't take in my surroundings and live in the moment. Instead, I am hard-wired ( although I hate to use that term now that we have robots acting as people in our society's lonely lives) for responsibility. There are always endless amounts of things I will need to do, at any given moment in time, no matter what I have already done on any day for all of us, and in my given situation with 5 children, extended family and friends around, i feel myself bracing for the storm. For life. For the day. So that I can do it all.

But you know I can't, and I know I'm not meant to. Nor is that how I want to live my life. 

So today, I am thankful I caught myself bracing for the storm, thankful for those who taught me to pray and take time to know myself and God better over the years. 


Because I want to EMbrace the day, not brace FOR it. I am here for a reason, in this exact place today. And so are you. Let's be present to the moment, look a little longer into our children's eyes, and serve Our Lord as best we can. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Love you guys!

seriously, do you know how much gratitude I feel knowing I write to inspire and help along others in life as I learn something new, turn a corner, or even find a secret garden? And to know that I do inspire you? I am so grateful. It's one of my dreams fulfilled, and I'm sorry for the break, but I will always be writing in some shape or form.

We have been in summer full-swing and I'm recovering from a surgery that has been difficult beyond my own understanding of pain. So please, if you pray, say some for me!

Some things I've learned this summer with a fully mobile and vocal ( even if my one year old only minimally speaks but prefers changing his tones with "uh" to get his meaning across which he fully does) family with 5 children , is how important little side trips of connecting with old friends has been, taking only a couple of kids at a time. I can relax, they realize more people are in their life than they realize, that life is different in different areas (i.e. Miami)and we can draw from that and choose differently. They see mommy in a new lights, experience different freedom, and we can have more one-on-one conversations along the way, talking and listening.

My new name for dinners that fall short of the American ideal of all eating together but emphasize the value of letting the perfect go ( remember, don't let the perfectbe the enemy of the good!), is "cabana nights." Some of my favorite times of my life at my friend's cabana. Why make not turn it from a failure of not timing dinner perfectly to a treasured moment in time?? Why not.

And don't forget those prayers!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Made of clay



No family is perfect. I grew up hearing how some families would break apart, brothers not speaking to brothers, families no longer celebrating holidays together, and cousins not growing up together. The older I get, the more I realize how we are each made of clay, and how easily we can be broken. 

We are none of us as tough as we think or may seem. It's easy to hurt someone else's feelings, or to feel offended. It just takes one mean sentence that can cut to the heart because it's family, and we know them well enough to know how.

I often think of my children and how they will be as they grow older. I try to teach them each good reasoning and sound judgement, love, fairness, and forgiveness. But each must chose their path, how they will conceive of being sister or brother to the other as adults, each with their own passion in life and perhaps their own family to raise. 


I've not just heard but witnessed love growing cold as I age. We are all challenged to keep each candle lit, and only we know how to do it. Because love, family, and friendships are  life's greatest gifts. And we have to carry each vessel with care.

Every day is Mother's Day!






How can something so small, so beautiful, be mine? My two-year-old is so full of life; to the brim as they come. With three older siblings, she's figured out what she wants, and how to get (ahem, demand) it. I don't know if anyone else on earth is as happy as she, because she is perfectly content with life just as it is.

I think God gives us children to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of the intangible beauty of life. The secrets of pure beauty, beauty as He creates it, that can only be felt or seen if we stop.  

Be still.

Be present.

To each passing moment.

We get to watch, to witness, as they absorb and process, discover and learn to express.

Each one of my kids has taught and continues to teach me something new. At this moment, I'm relishing in learning what unbridled joy looks like.

Happy Mother's Day.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

It's the most wonderful time of year

I know most of you are thinking, "what? Christmas is so far away!" And that season evokes different feelings; feelings of warmth, love, peace, nostalgia, anticipation. I love Easter Sunday, too. After 40 days that have a tinge of clouds cast over them, Easter is all light, color, freshness and sweets. 

But Holy Week has its own power. Growing up around D.C., there is a strong tradition of attending Holy Week Masses and services. Even in Miami, people understood and appreciated it profoundly. It wasn't until I moved to the west coast of Florida that I realized not everyone had a deep love and appreciation for it. It's wasn't anything negative I sensed. It was more of an ambivalence, which got my thoughts turned toward why I love it so much. 

Holy Week has a sort of hush about it, as if God is inviting us to peek into the mystery of His Love. We step outside of time, we live again the betrayal of friends save his mother and 2 others. We witness the love of a brave woman named Veronica who pushes through the crowd to wipe his stinging face. We feel his absence from our churches when He is removed from all tabernacles on Holy Thursday until he rises to be with us on Easter. The church does a magnificent job in helping us to feel along with our Lord. Because only when we enter in can we understand what our shortcomings and laziness at looking at our lives actually means. 

Holy Week reminds us that our work is not done, both on the outside in our world, but most importantly, on the inside. If we enter in, we can't fake it. We know what's important in life. And if by chance this year we have gotten off course, we will see it and make some changes. 


What a gift indeed. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Communicate, please!




Doesn't it sometimes take you by surprise when you discover you and your spouse aren't communicating well? It's like you fall in love, have some babies, and bam! You're not on the same page. It can be about anything under the sun, from discovering the routines aren't working for anyone to not knowing what is the best way to relax individually and collectively on weekends. ( if you are asking yourself, what? Relax? Is that something I should be doing? Than you really need to read this post . 😜)

I am going to divert for a moment and sing my praises for God's plan for families. The particular angle I am excited about today is the fact that He uses everyday experiences and struggles to reveal something deep and true about our nature. He's a gentle teacher, like Socrates, anticipating the moment  that we, His students,  discover something marvelous for ourselves! He doesn't just tell us answers, He leads us along a certain path to discover them for ourselves because, well, it's more of a sudden brilliancy of light for us that way. God has always touched my heart through my mind, because He knows me best, like He knows you best. So hang in there and stay in it with Him so He can help you discover whatever it is you're looking for at the moment.

So back to the original topic. We find ourselves at a junction when we are at odds with either ourselves, our lives, our spouse, or all three! Many layers can go into this disjointedness, from background to habits to selfishness. Most of it has never been brought to the light of acknowledgement and we carry on making assumptions and feeding the bitter storm inside until we can't even communicate effectively because what comes out are bullets meant to anihillate!

I think as women we have so many mixed messages of what we should be and it is mostly coming from a source that doesn't know who we are in the first place. Our gifts of understanding people, building relationships, and service doesn't equate with being walked on by husbands and children. Our strength and ability doesn't mean stomping on every man we see in our path and grinding them to dust.

I can't answer for anyone how to communicate effectively. I do know it involves mutual respect and openness to hear and be heard. It involves believing in yourself and your needs,wants, and dreams as well as listening to your spouse's and working together on making all of those realities, in time. It also involves patience and taking one day at a time, trusting that even when it seems like the sun just won't shine that it will and you will see something you hadn't seen before about life, yourself, your spouse and God Himself.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

what's holding you back?

Sometimes in life, we are in a holding pattern. We don't know what we want, we feel our limitations all too powerfully, and stay still. Sometimes our health forces us to stay still, quite literally. Sometimes things like finances and priorities take precedence and we need time to take care of these properly before we make a move. But make a move we must, because we can sense that there is just something else out there calling us.

Everything in our lives brings us to a certain place. Our experiences, talents, and even sufferings have a role in shaping who we become. Who says we stop learning when we finish school? Maybe then is when we are allowed the freedom to really learn who we are. We have the time and space to figure out and then Live our dreams! 

Life is mean to be lived. We are made for dreams. We are made for a beautiful life. And it is up to us to define for ourselves what that means and then live it. 

So wherever you find yourself on your journey today, whether you have a dream and are living it or are in a stage of vague hopes, know that you are worth all of God's love and he doesn't want anything to hold you back.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Flo Grown


Everyone likes to knock Florida. 😉I never saw myself living here, either! But my husbands career needed building and we followed the path, leading us here 6 years ago. My eyes have since been opened to the advantages of being "Flo grown."

My kids love nature. I think all kids do! But when we moved to Florida, I was constantly in awe because of the contrast to my own childhood environment. There is a thickness to the grass here, exotic colors to flowers and birds, and the toughest  plants you've ever seen. I never knew leaves could be so thick! Hundreds of birds I had only read about became a part of our daily environment. I have grown to love the intense heat offered by the sun that is so close you can feel his warmth seeping through your skin. He's like a friend. Now I, too, love nature.

I've seen one of my children tame an iguana for 5 minutes, another calm a wild bird flying around the house so as to catch him, pass him around, and let him go. The bird himself hesitated to leave. They've saved a wild baby rabbit and have grown up with the ocean and gulf as their backdrop. I can't wait until we can grow some fruit trees and let them literally pick the fruits of their own labor.

Our youngest 2 were born here, and prefer the outdoors to the in. If I could, I would be outside with them all day. It has been so beautiful to see them nurture and love their natural world in the way God must have intended.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shout out!

Hi

I just want to thank you for stopping in and being on this journey with me. I hope in time you'll introduce yourself to me and the other readers, because we share a common interest in seeking meaning and purpose and understanding. I love to write to encourage others because we all need that. And your visits encourage me to continue doing what I love. So thanks and may your journey be blessed.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Success

Relating to a recent post, what is success to you? Is it something you can put in words, or is it a vague notion of professional accomplishments and material accumulation? That sounds shallow but this isn't a place for judgement, but honest exploration. Maybe it's your children holding good jobs and happy marriages? Maybe it's peace and harmony in the home?

 Maybe we'll take some of each? 😆

Our idea of success, Whether vague or clear, is often something given to us, not original to ourselves. That isn't always a bad thing. Let's  look at the origin of these notions.

Professional acumen can be the result of hard work, sound education, and good interpersonal skills. All good things.

The money that flows in from your career buys the things needed for both you and your family. Another good thing.

Peace and harmony in relationships means personal, tailored attention is given to each person we care to give it to. Hopefully those are the people we live with. A wonderful thing.

So, society's definition of success has good roots. The roots are in human virtue and self-giving. It all seems so clear and easy in writing! But life's not like that. There is so much we can't control, most of whom are people! And wrenches can be thrown in our best laid plans.

And maybe our plans start to control us. This is when we get caught at work until late in the evening, every evening, to get the money to buy more of what would be nice but we don't truly need. When the perfection of the house takes precedence over the people we've created it for, including ourselves. When we are so busy we forget to listen, share, and play. When we don't pray.

My friends, it's time to regroup and define success for ourselves. Because it just may be something that hasn't occurred to us yet.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Trust



We all know there is no relationship without trust. No marriage could begin or last without it. No friendship, either.

And yet, how much do we trust God?

I've heard it said that God trusts us with the children He gives us. He trusts us a lot! Or you could even say a child is a sign of His trust; that we can do it, that we will put our intelligence and will at the service of these little ones, helping them solve their problems and forming them well. It's a learning process, but He trusts us nonetheless.

My question today is how much do we trust God with our loved ones? Yes, we know we will do everything in our power to help one of our kids if they are going through a difficult time. We will support our spouse, parents, friends likewise. But what if it takes too long in our eyes? We don't see the needed internal or external change that would issue relief or happiness once again?

We need to not only trust God with our loved ones, we need to tell Him we do. There is a power in saying it, maybe because we really don't want to say it, because saying it means something. It means we can let go. Yes, we listen, we love, we do all we can. But God is ultimately in charge and allows them and us to go through things and it must be for something better.

When we trust Him, our relationship begins. Because we all know that without it, there is none. Truly trusting Him just might make all the difference in taking that next leap of Faith.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Making an impression



We grow up learning how to walk, talk, eat, write and speak in order not exclude ourselves from certain opportunities and to get a good job; in a word, to make a good impression.  But to what end? What for?

There is a woman who has come into my life as my house cleaner. She was always good at her work and a huge help with the load of laundry that has my name on it. But not until recently did I grasp the impression she has quietly made upon me.

Sometimes I wish I could harken back to the time when everyone had less and expected less. Some of my favorite memories are from visiting my grandma in her magical little farmhouse in her quiet town in minnesota. Her life was simple yet filled to the brim with small joys and purpose. At 95, to everyone she meets her warmth, enthusiasm and zest still makes an impression.

This weekend I visited a Latin American art exhibit in St. Petersburg and saw a replica of someone's bare essentials kitchen of their childhood home. They were celebrating it. Were they taught the necessity of making a good impression?  What for?Life was good then.

It made an impression.

You see, I have no idea where my house helper lives or what she has in terms of material possessions. My house-helper likes her work. She knows she helps me and she is happy knowing this. She has her hobbies, her work, her home.

She has made an impression.

Don't get me wrong. Culturally we value things that are good. There is value in doing your best, having good posture and manners and to be able to communicate effectively.  You just have to figure out what for.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Why?

St. Teresa of Avila said, " Dear Lord, if this is how you treat Your friends, it's no wonder You have so few," as she was bucked from her horse while on her way to one of her monasteries.

Do you ever feel that following God is too demanding? More than you thought it could be or should be? Shouldn't life following God be sweet?

It's hard to explain to a looker on the maxim "by the grace of God go I." If life is so hard, why not chose an easier route? It is yours for the choosing. But we each have our own path God has called us to walk, and we recognize the light on our path and know there really is no other option than to follow. It's like a magnet drawing us on. 

But what makes it so hard? Why does following Jesus have to be so hard? Maybe it's because we care too much what happens to us. We want to be seen in a certain way, we want certain creature comforts to make us feel important, we want general admiration. We want to relax, take it easy, and really just have no worries but what pleases us. Too much responsibility really cramps our style! All of this leads to the conclusion that we still think we know what will make us happy and don't live the Faith of a true child that lives happily in His Father's house. If we do, we can thank the people who have shown us how, who have made it easy, and thank God for that mega grace. 

Don't get me wrong. There are noble parts in our soul, or we wouldn't be following the path. And these noble parts keep us trudging, thank God! And there are great and unexpected joys as well, joys that we wouldn't have otherwise known even existed if we didn't follow the path God set for us. But the crosses are entwined along the road and are just as much a part of our reality. 

Let's pause to reflect upon them, because that is our gripe this morning. "Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few(!)" 

Our crosses carry out an inner purification that slowly set us free, inch by inch on that journey. And set others at a quicker pace if we bear some of our load for them, or even bear their load for a bit. And then we can all start to smile more as we see into the heart and true, spiritual successes of our friends, knowing we are getting on in the journey, peering into the water jug inside of us that is being cleansed from murky water and so, capable of holding more and more of the Living Water. 

We are friends with God. Let's not forget it for a moment. And God didn't just skate by in life. So "carry" on, and live more freely and fully in His house.