Posts filed under Miscellaneous

Let's Talk the Big Stuff {Should you be following me?}

So I lost a few email subscribers... and it's okay with me. I wasn't upset or alarmed to see the numbers drop. I'm mostly just surprised that people who were interested enough to subscribe to my email list in the first place would disagree so fundamentally with my position on the recent Supreme Court rulings... which also happens to be the position of the Catholic Church. It's not as if I hide my Catholicity here on the blog. But I expressed my sorrow in that email... and people expressed their disagreement by unsubscribing.

No big deal. But it got me thinking... Do my readers really know me? Does it matter? And I thought Of course it matters. Because on the whole, our reader feed should reenforce the goals that we have for our lives. As Christians, the salvation of our souls should be at the top of the list and if I'm not helping you reach that goal, you should drop me like a hot potato. But if we can help each other pursue Truth, beauty and holiness, we should pursue the relationship. So let's talk the big stuff. The following questions have all been asked of me (in one form another) by other Catholics within the last few months...

WHERE DO I STAND ON MARRIAGE?

I stand with the Catholic Church. Period. (And not with certain shepherds who seem to be struggling with their personal assent to Catholic moral teaching... but THE Church.) I posted this last week on my blog Facebook page:

I tend to do most of my active posting on my private FB page and mostly post blog updates here. So it has been quieter here this week while I have worked out my disappointment elsewhere. But this isn't an issue that will pass, nor is it a topic that should die out after a week within Christian circles. It's not just another judicial overstep in a corrupt political system and its not just about love.

It is devastatingly sad when a handful of activist judges undermine American liberty. They have sidestepped the democratic process to legislate morality on a nation. In doing so, they have not furthered the cause of love but have substantially increased the governments control over our basic liberties. It is not about love.... Because even those who celebrate will eventually suffer under a system that denies basic freedoms to people of faith.

Every blogger out there is writing about this right now and I don't intend to do a specific blog post because it is almost too large for words... I'm not talented enough to capture it all. But it is a part of who I am. I will not be bullied into silence against injustice. My efforts to build a culture of love have redoubled in my home - An increase of prayer, of learning, of living out the Gospel message. My blog will continue to be a place where I pursue that end without compromise.

For some super quick reading and evidence that this is not fundamentally about love, I encourage you to read the updated Facebook status of the Christian bakers who have not only been denied their livelihood but also (just this past week) stripped of their First Amendment rights. Sweet Cake Update

WHERE DO I STAND ON LITURGY?

This is important to people. I was recently asked in a discussion if I was a "neocon or a traditionalist" and I answered: I am a Catholic. But I understand the desire to know more about the preferences and self-identifying labels of fellow Catholics, which is why certain terms can be helpful in some cases. For example, if someone identifies himself as a liturgical or political liberal, I pretty much know what they mean in an American context. The label annoys but it can sure help if cooperative effort is necessary. So here's some additional information about my preferences...

I am neither a traditionalist nor a charismatic. I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I have seen them at work, but I also believe that the Holy Spirit has guided the direction of the Roman liturgy. Consequently... I think the rubrics ought to be followed.

My liturgical preference (based on my basic understanding of the Church's preference) is for Mass in the vernacular that is celebrated ad orientem, with sacred music, smells and bells, all male altar service, a communion rail, and rock solid preaching from joyful, manly priests. My second choice would be the incomparably beautiful Extraordinary Form. My tie for last choice would be the banal 1970's liturgies (with beauty stripped, priests going off-the-cuff, guitars ka-chinking next to the sanctuary, 42 extraordinary ministers, etc.) and full charismatic liturgies where the emotion too often seems to overtake rubrics (but not always). In the end, I'll take any of these with gratitude - if I must - because.... JESUS.

WHAT PLACE DOES HOMESCHOOLING HAVE IN THE CHURCH?

The saints of Church history have come from all kinds of educational backgrounds and cultural scenarios. God can work through ANY circumstance. That being said, I homeschool my own kids because I have an obligation (if it's within my power) to offer an environment that honors them as sons and daughters of God; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In other words, homeschooling is not simply an educational choice, but a lifestyle of faith. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it would make an eternal difference. It's too durn hard to be embraced lightly.

Now, do I think you should homeschool? I can't answer that because I don't know your specific situation. I have seen bloggers promote Catholic parochial schools as the best option for Catholic kids. Some of these families are being taught by faithful, young, dynamic religious sisters, strong orthodox pastors, teachers who all sign the mandatum, and community which is largely believing. To be blunt, they've kind of found a Catholic unicorn. They have an option that most in the American Church don't have and promoting Catholic school as the optimal scenario based on their rare gem is perhaps short-sighted. In any case, homeschooling is a beautiful and important option that will become increasingly important (and persecuted) as our freedoms come under fire.

WHAT KIND OF HOMESCHOOLER AM I?

A Catholic one. No, seriously. That's all. I am constantly (imperfectly) reevaluating the needs of my family in order to honor the dignity, beauty, and individual intelligence of each soul under my care. The changing curricula I use reflects that alone and not any specific methodology.

WHAT KIND OF BLOGGER AM I?

I don't know. Catholic? Yes, Catholic. 

IS BLOGGING YOUR JOB?

No. For every penny I have earned blogging, I have spent two. I would honestly love to be able to supplement our family income through blogging but, up to this point, have not. Such material success would have required much more time than I can reasonably take away from my family and probably also more skill than I naturally have. Monetarily successful blogging takes a tremendous amount of time and for many Catholic bloggers, involves a family commitment based on specific need or mission. If you've ever wondered how a mommy blogger is able to "do it all" when you are struggling to comb your hair, rest assured... she's not. She either has a family arrangement that allows more time than you have, hires others to do things like design or social media engagement, or must work to help support the family and has chosen this path to do so. Nobody can vacuum, cook, and write a blog post at the same time, but I caution you: Don't judge. Every family discerns it's own path according to needs. You are likely not ever going to be privy to those particular needs. 

In spite of a desire to make my time on the blog work materially for my family, I have decided to keep affiliates and sponsored posts intentionally to a minimum. I do include them periodically... although never for a group, cause, or product which I wouldn't stake my reputation on. 

My long term dreams for this blog do include the hope of monetary blessing (because, yikes, raising kids can get costly), but that may be a pipe dream. If I do ever come up a couple pennies ahead, it will be because I have finally managed to finish the book or two I have in draft (and convinced a few people to read them) while fulfilling my primary obligations in the home. 

Interested in knowing more about my blogging perspective? You can listen here to Catholic Blogger: Created for Greatness

WHAT IS YOUR PARENTING STYLE?

Catholic. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) After 17 years, I have eaten so much humble pie that I don't even dare try to label what I do. I sometimes cringe when I read the postulating of very young blog moms who will most certainly be retracting their public positions after a later child brings them to their maternal knees. I was an amazing parent when I had 3 little ones and knew the answers to everything... that didn't last long. I periodically give my opinions and perspective here, but with the full knowledge that the Church leaves these details up to individual discernment.

If I had to generalize... I would say that I more strongly relate to the attachment parenting lifestyle than highly structured parenting. I believe (based on my understanding of Church teaching) that we have an obligation to explore the beautiful and natural means by which God has designed us to bear, nourish, and raise children before we commit to other options. Translated, that means I do what is reasonable to birth, feed, and nurture babies in a way that is consistent with my body's natural design. I am not freaky about this... but it is important to me to do my best to reasonably seek that ideal. And no, I don't think you're a terrible parent for doing it another way that honors the health of your family and children.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Did I miss anything essential that you'd like to know? I'll gladly answer those questions for you... just leave them in the form below. If it seems like we can get along reasonably well (or if you don't mind getting to know people whose different ideas challenge you to sharpen your own), you can subscribe to my email updates here: Blossoming Joy Newsletter

Question may be featured on the blog but your identity (if you provide it) never will.


Posted on July 5, 2015 and filed under blogging, Miscellaneous, Ask Me, Womanhood.

How to Finish a Blog Post {In Two Months}

The best way to get material for new blog posts is to get the heck off the computer and live life. The worst way to get material for new blog posts is to get the heck off the computer, live life, and enjoy it so much that you don't want to ever come back. My current happy problem is that my heart and life are so full from my break that there's a traffic jam at the entrance to the circus tent... and all the crazy is stuck inside. So I'm just going to let a few of the animals and clowns out one by one, randomly, until I can a steady groove going again...

HOMESCHOOLING

Is awesome. Hard. Hard. Hard. But beautiful... like the Cross. I have no idea what kind of homeschooler I am (somewhere between Tidal and Unschooling and Freak-Out-Because-It's-The-End-Of-The-Year-And-Where-Is-My-Checklist homeschooling). I don't adhere to any one methodology except one: All for Jesus. I would prefer a more defined and detailed mission but my limitations keep me realistic. I'm no education guru. I'm simply a mama fighting for the good.

Does it work? I guess we'll see. In the meantime, I love what my kiddos have been up to. Here's a sampling of what my high school junior (rising senior) has been doing:

College plans are progressing as well as a more serious focus on seminary discernment. With these things on his mind and heart, he's been writing...

Learning the Priesthood: The Role of Altar Service in Vocational Discernment
Yes, it's an article about how his experience in an all male altar server community set fire to his interest in the priesthood. It is also an argument for the reinstitution of an all male altar service in the Church at large.

Because Homeschooling Works: So Says a Student 
This article was pretty much my homeschooling consolation for the year.

Goodness to Greatness
A little college discernment... a little philosophy.

If you'd like to contribute to his formation and discernment, he is currently raising money (and working hard himself) to go on pilgrimage to Rome and looks like he's going to come up short for the deadline. We'd love to send him but it's outside of our family budget. As homeschoolers, we've never asked anyone to buy a single magazine from us... consider this his once-for-all school fundraiser. ;) Priestly Discernment Pilgrimage

PRO-LIFE

The Catholic life itself should be so completely enmeshed with a pro-life worldview that we shouldn't need a separate category. However, our culture isn't particularly Catholic and so... we wear cool t-shirts... and enter contests...

We participated again this year in the National Pro-Life T-Shirt Week Photo Scavenger Hunt. Just like last time, it was completely wonderful and terrifically exhausting. We hope to win, of course, but the greatest good to come of it really is bringing the pro-life message to many different places and people as a family. We could write a novella based on our adventures with chapters like: The Missing Paddle Boats Lead Us to Mood Rings, The Shattered iPad, Hay Bales at Midnight, and She Threw Up in the Car Twice.

Also check out Jessica's NPLTW family adventures at Shower of Roses.

BLOGGING CONFERENCE

When the Catholic Women Blogger Network started organizing regional conferences a few months back, I thought it would be a good (albeit crazy) idea to offer to host one in Ohio. So I immediately invited one of the most talented Ohio gals I know to get a little crazy with me. She said yes... and now, Brooke Taylor (of The Sacred Sink and Saint Gabriel Media) and I are co-hosting the CWBN Ohio Conference at the end of the month. To say that I'm excited is simply a huge understatement. It's going to be fantastic. Registration closes on May 13th so if you blog, are in the region, and can make it, get on that!

ANXIETY

Some of us currently have it more than others. Since no good mommy blog post is complete without a gratuitous photo of the youngest child, I'm running with the anxiety theme and highlighting my toddler; the girl who has recently awakened to the reality that the world is terrifying. Trucks, dishwashers, bulldozers, big men with beards, large crowds... all things that I'm afraid of, actually... but I no longer fit in a trash can. I am forced to reconcile with scary things. But it would be awfully nice if they made these in mommy sizes.

I have so much more to share and unpack but this will have to do. When I'm not blogging, I still manage to keep up with other forms of social media.  I'd love to stay connected!

My Advent {Sorrow and Joy}

My heart is so full of sorrows and joys that all I really want for Christmas is a 25-year long nap. This incredibly beautiful and intense Advent has been soul-stretching. While I appreciate that and have been blessed with much consolation and truly lovely season... I'm just wondering how I'm going to survive the next few decades. The answer is just... Jesus... and a thousand little yes's and and failings and daily showers of grace and mercy. I just cannot tell you how sad I am. And I have no words for how extraordinarily happy I am. I'm not sure how a soul can remain intact long through that kind of movement. And the depth of my fatigue combined with a strangely renewed energy... a contradiction. But proof that my soul is really alive.

I remember when I was younger and I would just take a break when I needed one. Now, there is no break. There are brief periods of nourishment but not at all timed to my personal preference. Motherhood is a continual dying to self until, presumably, the only thing left is Christ Himself. I don't resent it. I am grateful. But there are certainly days when I am completely in the dark as to how the strength will come in the morning. The marathon of the holy day seasons are beyond my strength and I'm really just learning to hang on and embrace the imperfect with peace.

With those thoughts in mind, I'm dumping 7 Quick Takes using whatever is on my ipad camera.  Each one a post of it's own (and some will be). But the posts that my heart writes all day, everyday in the midst of engaged motherhood... those posts just can't be written yet. I wouldn't even know how to begin. Joy and sorrow. Bigger than a keyboard.

~1~
Christmas Love Letter

This is the post-in-waiting about how the surprise early Christmas gift I gave to my husband completely changed my heart. I think he liked it and I'm grateful for that. I am astonished that I was able to pull off the surprise. But the biggest surprise for me was how a dormant part of my heart blossomed as I transformed our sanctuary. This post is definitely coming. With lots of pictures.

~2~
Bittersweet

If we're connected on Facebook or Instagram, then you may have already seen this. But I'm going to say it again. Thankfully, no one can see my tears... again...

No words. Other than... The great joy of seeing my children love each other will certainly be challenged by the sorrow of eventually seeing them leave each other.

~3~
More Than Music

Nothing illuminates the great problem of bad liturgical music like hearing well done sacred polyphony. When this group starts to sing, it is as if my soul has no choice but to pray. Like getting knocked down and then raised up by a strong and gentle holy wind. It is incredible how this little group of 13 managed to fill the entire church with... what? Not just music. More than music. And my girl, whose voice I always try to single out, but never can.

~4~
Vestibule With a View

It has been a very long time since I have been able to sit in church, with my family, for more than 15 minutes. My 18-month old is a stinker. Most of them are. But this one is the uniquely stinker-ish. Consequently, this is often my view at church. Between getting ready, out the door, and wrestling my girl through Mass, Sunday mornings are a physical marathon. I'm not really complaining. Because teenagers are much harder to wrestle. Yes, they are.

~5~
He Must Become Greater; I Must Become Less

One of the many beautiful little nooks hiding in at our parish. This is one of my favorites and also happens to depict my saint for 2014. St. John the Baptist. I don't always know why my saint picks me. This year I do know. And that is one of the posts my heart sings but my hands cannot write. Yet.

~6~
A Good Priest Brings Christ

Good priests. Joyful priests. Fervent priests. Priests who get what we do as parents. And live their lives as if what they do, say, wear, and live matters to the rest of us. Because it does. Perhaps more than they can know on earth. Priests who live for Jesus first and clear the way so that we can see Him more clearly. Priests who challenge you to live a life of holiness... and then let you buy them a bacon burger so the conversation can continue. 

~7~
Singular

The isolation of the young trying to live a Christ-focused life. The sitting in the back of the family bus even though the wings are ready to fly on their own. The dreaming of the future. The stretching of mind and soul. Joy and sadness. The post that can never really be written by me at all. 

And that's all I've got for now. Well, not really. It's just all that I can manage to communicate. And I'm pretty sure you understand. Because holy seasons are not for staying in neutral but for great movement of mind and soul. I trust that you have your share of joy and sorrow this Advent. I am keeping your intentions in prayer.

Joining up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

Posted on December 14, 2014 and filed under Advent, Family Life, Miscellaneous.