Monday, November 16, 2015

The Bishop on the Screen

I just do not turn on our tv very often. In fact, we usually are cable free save for this time of year. One MUST watch the end of season October baseball and well, nothing like a college football game around here to make us want to eat and be together.

I am so thankful though that we (mama plus homeschooled children), during our very full days of being us, were able to watch so much of the pope's recent visit.

I was wrestling with the whole "Why didn't we go see him!?!?!" We were only  __ hours away! Why didn't we plan for this?!?! How did this particular day of the week in this epic visit arrive so soon?!?! And then the very reasonable excuses flowed... we have five children with two of those being littles who wont understand crowds and waiting. An even better excuse of mine, ha you're going to love this..."Pope Francis wants me to be HERE and encounter people HERE in this home."

My tendency to be very human in this instant gratification culture was also now under the yoke of the I can't miss this I  must be part of everything that goes on culture. I say this with social media, newsertainment and our society's overall inability to experience true leisure in mind.

Oh I was grappling with the guilt of not being PHYSICALLY present in Washington D.C. ...but then I heard a very sweet message.

I love how the Holy Spirit orchestrates the hours of these lives of ours, as we follow the promptings. The Holy Spirit somehow allowed me to tune into Bishop Robert Barron's opening remarks for the World Meeting of Families.

He was wonderful. He spoke of rules. He spoke of golf. He showed us his golf swing and golf rules.

He spoke of truth.

It was energizing to listen to him speak. And he spoke about freedom and I was so at peace as I sat in my living room full of boxes still unpacked from our move...he spoke of the freedom that Church teaching gives us. Teachings that bring true happiness. I felt so grateful for knowing and living the freedom that comes with being in a marriage that is open to life. A marriage that has been blessed with five treasures.

I have been blogging about my own personal journey with NFP on here for almost four years. It took me about the first seven years of my marriage to truly understand life giving love (the Holy Spirit works slow my friends!).

As a first class (senior) cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, I understood that rules were in place for many reasons and really the rules of life there didn't truly feel like freedom. Like...say...not being allowed to wear civilian clothes anytime you wanted. I remember groaning in my ugly uniform for class formals wishing I could hide in a corner when the gorgeous local college girls in their beautiful gowns would come waltzing into the ballroom.

So when Justin and I were engaged, following a rule of the Church like not using birth control did not feel like freedom. I had seriously made up my mind on my own with my entire theology background (which was non existent) that the Church was so old fashioned. I was affirmed in this decision by a priest working as a chaplain at the academy.

I spent the first years of my married life fighting this rule. I did do some heavy reading and I was truly convinced the rule was TRUTH but oh my does one give up a control addiction? I held the round colorful pill case in my hands. It was my addiction. My addiction to having things in my timing and in my way. It was only after falling a few times did I see that there is a freedom in doing things the right way.
I can only humbly gesture to the Eucharist, my friends, as Cure.

There is a book that my children love and that is well worn here in our home. Baby bear wants to learn to climb a tree and Mama bear would like to show him the correct way to do the task. Baby bear is so excited that he runs from his Mother, not pausing to hear her wisdom. Yes, he falls from the tree and it hurts. Then Mama bear says, "Let me show you how!" And baby learns and it is FUN. The correct way to climb a tree gets us high and allows us to see the way the birds do.

This repeats a few times, with fishing and then with playing with other cubs, eventually the cub learns to wait and listen to Mama. The cub learns from multiple mess ups and then the gentle teachings of his Mama of the right way. The cub understands her wisdom and knows that the right way to do something is actually MORE FUN than the "just wing it" way.

Marriage without contraception is MORE FUN. Marriage with a mutual respect for man as full man and woman as full woman is MORE FUN.

I had such guilt in my sin when I was knowingly using contraception and refused to embrace wisdom. I still come before the Eucharist a great sinner but I find that much of my guilt has been replaced with a great confidence in my Savior.

I have found great comfort in the image of Mother Church as nurturer and comforter. What once felt like a drudgery of keeping Sundays because that is what upright citizens do has now become the Day that orders all other days.

The table is set for me. His Word nourishes me. Mother Church appeals to all my senses...I hear her as she links my arm close in hers...almost as if going through an early morning stroll...oh I know, I love candles too! Let's have lots of them today!

This is your favorite song! I know! For you dear one!

I thought today of the whole Mass you could hear these specific words that you say all the time but they will mean more to you today Stephanie! I love you!

I know you have been out in the Narthex Stephanie with your littles but I have the Bread of Life here at this table, come and be satisfied my precious one. This will fill you until we meet again.

I have been given the grace to see our Church not as a strict Mother with her overbearing rules but as a Mother of infinite wisdom. I pray this GRACE for all of us! Let us be like the little ones and see GIFTS. I pray for us to have the humility to have a listening heart, to believe in the collective memory of the Church and to have faith that He will make all things each one of us!

Please join me in praying for Bishop Barron and all of our bishops! God Bless!

****Also....think about things like getting your is going to sneek up on you! Comment if you have your turkey already!****

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real November


Virginia has decided she will not be outdone by Alaska in beautiful!


Trick or Treating on Duke of Gloucester street in Colonial Williamsburg!

Blurry but that is the headless horseman!


Halloween is a great outlet for my husband's creativity.

 This costume has been in the family ten years now, also made by Justin. 


Yes, he dressed as a shark during trick or treating duty. 

Thank you for stopping by! Click here for more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My November Dance

I am sighing with you dear friends. Yes, this year's Halloween nearly wiped me out and I am learning, along with you I'm sure, how to keep those sacred days of All Saints' and All Souls'.

I love that the Church year wraps up this month. A month of gratitude and then a lovely Thanksgiving holiday to send us into Advent.

Yes, we are seasonal people.

Order has been on my mind. Particularly order in my home as we try to settle in from the BIG WORK of moving. I ache still for Juneau but its sweet really. I feel like that ache lets me know it was all real, those six years of love and friendship and mountain air.

I also keep taking baby steps here. Williamsburg has been gentle.


And yet if I were in Juneau or Williamsburg or wherever the Coast Guard sends us, I understand that yes there is the outside environment...but really I can keep the same inside environment. One box hauled out and one picture all means something to the well being of my dear people. Yes there is a different kitchen and different layout but the same things and same wonderful people.

I felt a sense of righting the home when I cleared away our Halloween decorations yesterday to let the home relax a bit before Advent and then Christmas. I am laughing though because I have to point out to my people my ritualistic "undoing of decorations."

How interesting that the other day as I was tidying up the kitchen and removing the decorations when a gathering of the neighborhood children that had been on the trampoline made their way into my home! I checked my mouth and raised my eyebrows (remember, raised eyebrows shows delight, shows interest!).

Of course my REAL initial instinct was to say "Hey everyone! Please stay outside!" in a tone that was a nice to see you but not really you all are trampoline sweaty and I am doing my November dance in here right now.

I'm not sure but my thoughts went to...act like this is perfectly normal and raise your eyebrows and count your words. My eldest and I grabbed a pitcher of water for all of their friends and I cracked open a large box of Cheeze Its. They had their snack and went outside with minimal interruption from me, but I was a presence and I was in the background and NOBODY CARED THAT I WAS ORDERING THE HOME A CERTAIN WAY.

I was reading last night this beautiful reflection from Everyday Encounters With God that Bert Ghezzi wrote,

"When mothers and fathers take delight in their children,
 we can easily imagine our Father taking delight in us."

He goes on to write,

"Mom delighted in nourishing our bodies - and in doing so, she nourished our spirits as well. No one could escape out house without eating. There was always pasta, pizza, fried chicken, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and walnuts, pineapple-filled bars, and butterscotch brownies. She presided over her bountiful table with cheerful warmth. My longtime friends still remember her lilting laughter, the sign of her joyful care and affection."

I gobbled this up, underlining it and now, retyping it HERE. These words do not point me to becoming a better cook, which I really do want to be! I just love the delight.

Cheerful warmth.

Joyful care.


We do not have to be baking from scratch, we could simply be opening a Cheeze It box, it is in the way we do it.

This was a small victory for me and it was a victory that was really in the presence of other children as well as mine.

I mean, I DO care that my children's friends feel welcomed, but I want MY CHILDREN to feel welcomed. I know they feel loved when our home is festive and well kept and comfy. I devour blogs, particularly Like Mother Like Daughter, studying the best way to execute home environment. However, it must be with joy.

Want to try keeping your eyebrows raised with me today? To our littles? To our spouse? How can we communicate our delight in them?

Thank you for stopping by! Happy Novemberings.