Wednesday, May 24, 2017

David's First Communion (and the little story of a providential book)

This past Sunday our David had the incomparable gift of making his First Holy Communion! I have pictures to remember the day but first I need to share a story, if only so that this fickle heart of mine doesn't forget how He moves.

It was just a few weeks before he was set to make his First Holy Communion and I wasn't quite sure his heart was ready. We had been doing some of the things we try to do to help our kids prepare for such a special day. Adoration time, Confession, teaching, and more. But it just didn't seem like enough and I wondered whether we were failing, whether there was more he needed. On one of those mornings around that time I needed to make a quick stop to pick something up at the Carmelite monastery nearby. I bravely ventured out with all the boys, mostly because I needed to get it done and had no choice. But also because while it definitely makes the experience at one of my favorite places a bit less meditative, I really want them to visit there once in a while and soak in the palpable grace of that place (if only for a few minutes before the toddler has had enough of this ridiculous silence business). So I brought them. We hustled inside on yet another windy, frigid, and disappointingly chilly morning like so many before it, the ones that had been progressively dulling my energy and motivation for months. 

We spent a few minutes in their humble little office/store first - literally a tiny room just down the hall from the chapel with a few bookshelves hosting things like prayer cards made by the nuns, out of print books, and fifty cent scapulars. The boys browsed, comparing medals and debating whether splurging on the better scapulars was really worth it, while I picked up the things I needed from the secretary. He found a book on the shelf and brought it to me excited, wondering if we could get it. I was frazzled with keeping the octopus toddler on my lap from knocking things over, writing a check, making small talk with the secretary all the while making sure I didn't forget any of the things that were the whole purpose of the trip. I distractedly nodded that he could add it to the pile of devotionals to take home. It was only a few dollars and the loss wouldn't be huge if his enthusiasm turned out to last a few hours (which, honestly, was kind of what I was expecting). 

It wasn't until we got home a few hours later that I really looked at what he had chosen. 

We were probably too late to start it, I thought. Sigh. Figures. Oh well, maybe he'll read some of it anyway and something's better than nothing. And then I took a moment to count the days. That very day we went to the convent and spotted that book and made that unplanned and haphazard purchase was exactly 40 days before his First Communion. God, you are so good. 

Every morning from that day on, he did his little reflection in the morning on his own before getting out of bed. Every day he counted up the "flowers" he earned through the prompts in the book and wrote them down. I didn't have anything to do with it and he kept it up completely on his own. I won't pretend that he suddenly transformed into a saint but that little book was proof to me once again that God is living and active in my children's lives and loves them infinitely more than I ever can. It may not seem like much of anything to an outsider but it was yet another reminder needed to this forgetful mother's heart that they're His first and that He knows exactly what they need. He's a better parent than I could ever hope to be. He so very often makes up for the many ways that I lack and desires their hearts for Himself outside of my failures, my distractions, and my own limitations. And my girl Therese is pretty on top of things as well.

With that divinely ordained assistance came a lot more confidence that he really was ready for such a big day.

A week before the boys were asked to serve at the cathedral and this little man decides he also needed to straight up ask the bishop for a pre-First Communion blessing! 

Before the big morning!

He made it with several other children from our homeschool group at the other cloistered monastery in our city. You can hear the nuns behind the grill singing and it's so beautifully reverent. I love that they ask that no pictures be taken during the Mass. There's one designated photographer from our group that should have a few pictures from the Mass to share with us. 

The two littles did not do all that well at the Mass, unfortunately. But we made it through and Jesus was received and I did my ugly cry as the kids made their consecration to Mary and afterward as I hugged my sweet and so very proud and excited boy outside.

He insisted on using the champagne glass for his juice :)

A simple but nice spread! The weather didn't choose to cooperate (story of this year). It poured in the morning and was gray and sprinkly the rest of the day. At least not snowing?

Toasting David and Jesus :)

He designed his cake a few weeks before and told me what he wanted - a white circle cake (like the Eucharist) with a gold chalice and host above it. His name in Hebrew and Latin means "beloved of the Lord" so I put that on, too.

Just a few days before I decided to make these sweet favors for our guests. Thank you, Amazon for delivering this mold straight to our door in less than two days flat. It came with little favor bags included.

The cards I made years ago for my oldest's First Communion (I shared them here free if you'd like to print some yourself but I think you might need a Scribd account to access them now.) On the back they thank our guests for coming.

He was very proud and so attentive to making sure every one got one as they left!

Jesus, thank you for the incredible privilege of watching my own children know and receive You in Your very Flesh and Blood. Thank you for feeding them with Your very Self. There is nothing on earth that can compare. Thank you to all of you, too, that prayed for our David before his special day!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Feminine Genius of the Mother's Day Backlash

In the last few years, something strange has begun to happen on and before the second Sunday of May. In blog posts and status updates, conversations and commercials, we're suddenly seeing a whole lot of light shed on the hidden and hard side of Mother's Day. There has been a steadily growing and unprecedented response of compassion to those for whom Mother's Day is nothing but a sharp reminder of loss. 

And it is absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Junior Geologist's Birthday

We have new eight year old around here as of yesterday! 
He has a huge interest in dinosaurs (that was last year's birthday) and now he's added a penchant for geology into his hobbies. There is something about unearthing treasures that speaks to this boy! He loves fossils and stones and gems and almost every day he can get outside finds him running back in at some point with mud splattered pants and a treasure to show me...a new flower blooming, a cool rock from the field, a robin's egg shell. I love his enthusiasm and joy over nature! Eight is a fun age (even when this choleric makes it just a bit more than challenging sometimes!).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When I'm hurting, draw me closer.

It all started with the oatmeal.

It was supposed to be cereal - after all, it was Sunday - but lack of grocery prep and no milk in the house left us with the only breakfast option being the disappointment of the standard weekday fare.

The result was dealing with fits of epic proportions as we tried to get the whole family ready and out to Sunday Mass. It was brutal and unprecedented, at least on this level. We were frustrated, uncertain, angry, stressed, and at a loss for what to do. We did manage to get there and as the tear stained little boy sardined next to me in the crowded pew (the other one still recovering in the back with dad), I was thankful for the chance to breathe and pray before we decided what, if anything, needed to happen as a result of the morning behavior and struggle. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Time Apart to Easter

Well, Easter is over. Time to shovel down the rest of the chocolate, pick all that blasted Easter grass from out of the rug, and get back to normal life agai... Just kidding! The official celebration of Easter lasts a full EIGHT days, guys! We have eight days of solemnities, the highest feast days of the Church, to revel in this mystery of the Resurrection and rejoice! (And the entire season lasts FIFTY!) Don't forget that! Let the wisdom of the Church lead your homes. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sweet Jesus, I Forgot.

Last night on Good Friday we rewatched The Passion of the Christ. I have seen it before, several times when it first came out and then I'd revisit it on Good Fridays of years past. The last few years, though, I would think about it and then talk myself right out of it. 

It's too much this year. 
My heart can't handle it. 
I've got a lot going on already.
Jesus doesn't *need* me to watch it.
I'll do something else quasi-penitential instead.

Some of which isn't necessarily wrong, of course, but they were all excuses. Ways for me to escape the visual and palpable reality of the cross. But last night we watched it. And I realized I really had forgotten. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

A (fancy) Night at the Museum

On Friday the husband and I had the chance to do a whirlwind overnight trip. He worked so hard this year, earning an award with his company and the all-expenses-paid awards fancy-people gala that goes with it. All expenses paid - like airfare for both of us to NYC, a luxury hotel in Manhattan, transportation everywhere, open bar, dinner, and dancing...there and back all in about 24 hours. What?! Who are we? He got this once before but at the time we had a little one who was too big to take with us but too little to leave home without us. It was really important for him to be there and while Ben is still nursing, he's so good natured and old enough that we were pretty sure he would do just fine for one night without us. So we took off!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pro-Life *is* Pro-Birth.

The first time I heard it, I actually wanted to cheer. Then I realized they actually meant it as an insult. The accusation and term is now flung in comboxes and rallies, "debates" and memes. The pro-life movement is only "pro-birth," don't you know? Not really caring about mothers or babies as long as the baby makes it out of the womb alive. There's much I could say about that as a 99% specious and ignorant charge as the accusers mean it, but instead I'd like to point out why the pro-life movement and a culture of life could and should be all about being truly pro-birth. 

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