He’s coming.

Image

A baby reaches for His mother.  She picks Him up and He lunges down towards her chest.  He’s hungry, hungry to grow and learn and to start interacting with everyone and everything because the world is so big and so full, yet so empty at the same time, because it’s waiting for Him.

His Mother watches Him nurse, both thankful for the chance to sit down, but also thinking of everything that needs to get done.  She pauses and thinks about the contradiction of both wanting Him to stay little and safe, but also wanting Him to grow, to be independent, to go out there and change the world.  He is just a baby, soft, squishy, fragile and yet so tough and able to put up with aunts and uncles and cousins poking and prodding Him.

He stops feeding for a second and looks up at her all solemn and then He bursts into a huge smile. Nothing else matters.  She has made Him infinitely happy by just being there, serving Him in the smallest of ways.  

Merry Christmas everyone!  Take time to snuggle a baby and think about how Jesus has called us all to be as little children, to have the largest faith in the world in our Father.

Thoughts on pregnancy, our bodies and thoughtless words

Random musings fit my “I want to blog, but don’t feel that I have enough to say” sort of mood.  Mull on these, especially if you have a snow day today!

  • I switch between feeling like a fertility goddess (take your pick of which one) and an orca whale.  There is an innate beauty, a sense of power and femininity that wells up within me when I’m (hugely) pregnant.  And then I look in the mirror and am reminded of Shamu.
  • My sister, also pregnant, has gotten some comments lately on her size.  She’s two months behind me and “showing” but she’s measuring perfectly and really is doing great!  Which leads me (and her and my mom) to wonder: “What gives people the right to comment on the body of a pregnant woman?  Or any woman or person for that matter?”   Why is it that we think it’s totally ok to say “You lost weight!” or “Wow, you’re getting big with that baby!” or “Did you do something to your hair?”.  Really, the only person I want commenting on my size is my doctor (and only if there’s a concern or he wants to praise how I’m doing) or maybe my husband, if it’s something like “You’re beautiful.”
  • Words are powerful.  Remember that.
  • And speaking of words, did you know that you’re only supposed to put one space after a period while typing?  Unfortunately, Mavis Becaon’s typing software taught me two spaces and I’m afraid I’ll never be able to break the habit.  I apologize now if double spaces makes you feel this blog is unreadable or visually unpleasing.  But please don’t comment on that either.

And, just for the record, I’m 34 weeks pregnant and about halfway prepared to have this child.  However, he has fully developed kidneys, an almost fully developed liver and is definitely big enough to make an appearance!

Looking back: 2010

It’s that time of year again, when we all try to remember what we resolved to do this year and when we feel really guilty about how we “failed”.  You know, the “New Year’s Resolution” guilt is a bunch of goofiness, in my opinion.  Resolutions or goals aren’t static, they are meant to change with you, to grow with you as you change and as your circumstances change.  Thankfully, I have a blog that has a written confirmation of my thoughts at this time last year, so I can evaluate what changed, where I succeeded and where I still need to grow.

Post #1: A 7 quick takes

Reflections:

Well, looking at my brief resolution there “To become the best version of myself for this year.” I wouldn’t say that I “suceeded” but I certainly did not fail.   It’s quite ambitious, so I think I did pretty good on improving myself and becoming the best version of myself.

As for the “next one” referenced, he has not shown up in 2010, but he’ll be here awfully soon (in about 10 weeks, oh my!).

And with regards to loving days where I spend my time with Grace and clean and be all “housewifey”, well, yes, those are wonderful.  When I’m not pregnant.  Now I’d rather sit around and eat truffles, drink tea and read.  And Grace can entertain herself while I gestate, thank you very much.

Post #2: Resolutions/goals

Let’s review each one and see how I did!

  1. Work on financial peace (setting and keeping budgets, working to get out of debt, saving money, etc).
    Hm.  While I have more peace about finances, in particular that God will take care of them, I have NOT improved so much on the specifics.  Maintained a good amount of awareness, sure.  Improved or saved money?  HA!
  2. Blog more (feeds my creativity/intelligence) with the goal of eventually writing a book about… something.
    Well, blogging fell by the wayside in the summertime.  With good reason, I was busy busy busy and then pregnant pregnant pregnant.  That takes a lot out of a woman!  As for writing a book, well, I started one during Nanowrimo this year, but did not finish (nor did I hit the 50k goal).  But I read plenty of blogs, which fed my creativity and intelligence and I don’t feel that I “failed” this goal either.
  3. Feed my creativity by taking the Wilton cake decorating classes and scrapbooking.
    Check!  I took the first of the Wilton classes in 2010!  As for scrapbooking, not so much, but hey, at least part of this is a solid checkmark!
  4. Fully organize my home and develop cleaning habits so I’m never spending an entire month with my facebook status saying “Rachel is cleaning.. again”.
    Well this one got buggered up when we moved in the summer.  Moving while pregnant, especially early pregnancy, is possibly one of the stupidest things to do (at least for me).  However, the new house is at least as organized as the apartment and I’ve realized that I will always be cleaning.  It’s the job that never ends.
  5. Get in shape (not necessarily lose weight, just develop a fitness plan and stick to it).
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  6. Spend time every day in some form of structured prayer.   Reading religious books does not count.
    Well, this one was one I totally forgot about.  Definitely didn’t happen, but at the same time, I do feel that I improved my prayer life.  Which is really more in the spirit of things.

And finally, my Word of the Year 2010. (sorry, there is no post about this, but it was the one thing I kept in my head the whole year.)

Last year at this time I read an awful lot of bloggers who were picking their “Word of the Year”.  And after this year, I think it is a MUCH better thing to do than an arbitrary list of goals.  For 2010, my word was Peace.  What did that mean for me?  I wanted to embrace the concept, I wanted to be more peaceful, to create peaceful environments around me and to avoid unnecessary stress and drama.  It was my number one value in this exercise and that’s why I chose it as my word.

So did I become a more peaceful person?  Emphatically YES!

For a brief example, I had a root canal yesterday.  Two nights ago I woke up with excruciating pain on the right side of my mouth.  My dentist had to refer me to an endodontist who determined that I needed an immediate root canal.  While there were certainly some tears shed over the sheer cost of this procedure and fear that I could lose my tooth, I also maintained an immense sense of calm.  Peace that all would be well, peace that even if things will be tight, it will be paid for and peace that even though it sucks God’s taking care of me.  My mother even commented on how calm I was about it all!   Heck, when it was all done, I went to the mall for several hours with my mom!

So yes, I feel that I have really made an effort to embrace peace in my life and in my self.  Does that mean I never have anxiety or drama?  No.  Does that mean my house is a peaceful sancturary where my husband comes home to order and cleanliness and a cold beer?  No, not on most days.  But in the grand scheme of things, peace is reigning.  God is taking care of me and my family and even through stress, He is keeping me full of peace.

I’m looking forward to spending the next couple days praying over my new Word of the Year (I have one in mind!) and also another fun thing that I’ll share with you tomorrow.  And I will still make some goals in different areas of my life, but it’s definitely going to be more loosey-goosey than my list from 2010!

Autumn in the air

Oh friends, how I miss summer.  It’s only been a few days of autumn, but summer has left the building.  It’s back to jeans, sweaters and socks.  It’s back to cold rain and warm drinks.

I’m sitting in Starbucks.   I’ve been working, because I have a new job.  The last hour has been spent planning one of the upcoming events.  I’m a “programs director”.  I have a title besides “wife”, “mother”, “sister”, “daughter”, “friend”, “homemaker”.  I get paid for this title.

Today is the day for Eucharistic adoration at my parish.  I stopped in for 15 minutes and read the Breviary prayers for the daytime.  The concluding prayer spoke volumes to me.

Lord God,
You made known to Peter
your desire to bring all nations to salvation.
Let all our work give you praise
and carry out your loving plan.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

This has been a blessed, consecrated hour of work.  I pray that I can continue to work in such a way.  Even if the things I’m planning are not specifically to evangelize, my work can still praise the creator and bring souls to Him.

Things are changing in my life.  Skirts are packed up in favor of cool weather wear.  And, well, those pants are soon going to be packed away in favor of maternity wear, since I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant.

Small hopes, like feeling the flutters of a baby inside me, are keeping me happy as the weather changes.  I’m keeping busy, after a busy summer, but I’m also looking forward to breathing some life back into my blog.

I’m dusting off the keyboard.  A little fall cleaning, a little follow-up on the Summer of the Skirt.  And then we’ll move on to new things.  New adventures.  And in the spring, when the weather warms again, we’ll celebrate a new arrival.

Pure joy.

Customs

No, no, not the customs that you go through when entering a country (and that brings back memories of trips to Canada for dancing and gambling).  Rather the customs of our prayer life, our faith, our families.  Our traditions (small t, not big T!).

On the Monday of Holy Week I was able to attend one of the youth groups I’m an adult leader at (it’s my every other week group).  We were talking in small groups about our Lents and how they had gone.  One of the adult leaders mentioned asking Christ to point something out in the passion narrative to us, something to think about, ponder, meditate on.  Well, for me, that had already happened on Palm Sunday!  I had such a tough time with Grace during that mass.  We had been late, I never heard a word of the first two readings and during the gospel she decided it was time to nurse.  And the cry room was full, so I was nursing her right in the pew.  Goodness!  In the midst of all that chaos a few simple words jumped out at me. (From Luke’s gospel:)

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.

Wait!  As was his custom?  You mean, this is Jesus’s “Thing to Do”?  He did this a lot?  Hmmm, interesting.

On Good Friday we hear John’s version of the this.

Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

Now this puts it into a bit more context.  Jesus went to his favorite hang out while in Jeruselem, and then one of his friends betrays him there.  It’s like when you have your secret club house with your friends and one of your friends goes and tells your mom and she comes to get you cause you didn’t wash the dishes (or some other punishment).  Course, you’re not getting led off to bear the sins of the world and die a horrible death, but if you’re at the age of secret club houses it probably feels that way.

Matthew and Mark don’t put in this qualifier about it being the hang out spot, but there are occasions in both of their gospels where Jesus is telling VIT’s (Very Important Things) to his closest disciples there.  It’s a special place for them to pray, to discourse, to fellowship.

So as I meditated on this for the past week, I started thinking about my own customs.  Where do I pray?  Where do I fellowship?  What are my customs?

Jesus was fully human.  He got distracted, I’m sure.  But when it was time for serious discussion with his friends, when it was time to tell them important things or when it was time to have some serious one on one time with his Abba, he withdrew to a special place.  And this wasn’t a rare thing or something surprising to his disciples.  It was his custom.  His tradition.

We are to follow Christ in all things, be imitators of him.  So how can I imitate him in this?  I know there are times when I should be praying.  But do I make the effort to withdraw from my daily life to do so?  No, I sit at my computer to read the prayers while eating my breakfast.  Forever stuck in the society of multitasking, we do not recognize the value of stopping everything and withdrawing.

I read somewhere that we should be working on new things in the Easter season.  This is the time of “new”: new life has come with the resurrection.  So I’m going to be working on new customs.  Finding a place, a specific place, to withdraw to.  It doesn’t need to be daily, after all, Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem the whole time.  But I’m going to work on this.

What are your customs?  Do you need to discover new ones?

Crashing and suffering

If you have one of the “Little Black Books” that parishes give out and are keeping up on the readings, this will be familiar.  Bear with me, please.

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed.

Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.”

He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him;

he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”

Mark 14:32-36

This is amazing.  Look at what Jesus is doing!  He is “troubled” and “distressed”.   He is full of sorrow.  He’s so upset that he has to fall to the ground!

How many times have we been so upset that we’ve just crashed on our beds and gone “God!  Hey you up there?   What the heck?  Why does this hurt so much?  Why must I suffer?”

But do we say the last part?  Not my will, Lord, but YOURS.

Life sucks, it really does.  We have days when it seems perfectly acceptable to cry over spilled milk.  Babies die, earthquakes hit and generally things are just hard.  As Christians, however, we are all called to pick up our crosses.  Sounds tough right?  Does it sound as tough as being mocked, whipped, wearing a crown of thorns, having nails driven into your flesh so that you can hang up by that cross?  And on top of that, you are suffering in payment for the sins of every single other human being ever.

Yeah.   Doesn’t sound so hard now, does it?

That doesn’t invalidate our sufferings though.  That doesn’t mean we should brush them off or feel guilty about asking God to take them away.  If they need to stay though, God will give us the strength to persevere.  Jesus made it, right?  Remember what happened a few days later? The “Son” shone.  Literally!

Today, I encourage you to go to the Lord with your sufferings.  Feel free to crash on your bed, or the couch, or on a kneeler at church.  Complain, whine, tell him how much you don’t want these sufferings.  And then remind Him and yourself: Not my will, but yours.  Hold me Lord.  Carry me through my trials.  And let me always remember that the resurrection is waiting.


Damned

As one of my protestant friends always reminds me, we are all damned in our sins.  If not for the grace of God, we still would be.  God steps into our lives, infuses us with grace, we turn to Him and look.  And what do we see?  What is that image that is the center of salvation?

Christ is up there.  On the cross.  Bearing OUR sins.  He’s not suffering cause he sinned.  He’s suffering because WE sinned.

As a mother, we want to save our children from suffering.   Imagine for one moment how the Blessed Mother must have felt watching her son up there.  Imagine your child in pain.  Multiply that by all the millions of sins and punishment in hell that Christ was taking care of  up there.  His suffering was immense.

When we turn away from our sin, we are looking to the cross.  When we own up to our sins, we are willing to suffer and die and go to hell over them because we realize how severe even the littlest sin is.  But we don’t have to do that.  That’s why he did it for us.  So we don’t have to.

That doesn’t mean we get out of suffering.  No, Christ did tell us to pick up our crosses and follow him.  We don’t get a free pass on suffering.  But the load is far, far lighter than it should be.

We must embrace suffering with joy.

Because after the suffering and the death, comes the resurrection and the life.

What are your sufferings?  They are nothing compared to what he suffered.  And they are nothing compared to the joy we are now able to receive.

Praise God my friends!  Lent is a time to reflect on our sufferings, to embrace them and carry our crosses with joy because in a few short weeks, we celebrate the greatest joy of all!  Easter!