Make Believe…Real

When they are young and life is a zoo, we cannot wait for our children to grow up. When they are grown and ready to venture out on their own, we wish they were still our babies. There is truth and wisdom in truly enjoying every moment with our children. There is truth and beauty in allowing the good and the bad to be remembered, to be time spent together well. Before we turn around, what seems like just playing dress up turns into the real thing.

This past weekend my oldest daughter had the final fitting of her wedding dress. Wow. She’s just incredibly beautiful. She had her trial run with hair and makeup on Saturday and when I saw her after work, again, wow. On Sunday, as I watched her youngest sister play volleyball and the second oldest coach volleyball, I listened as she and her father were trying to decide upon a song to dance to after the wedding. I’m cheering for each point as tears fill my eyes. I’m happy to be in a large arena sitting alone, my emotions bouncing off the walls. I’m happy to be multi-tasking as I have for years upon years, enjoying each and every moment that I could with my children while juggling work inside and outside our home. It’s funny but I think the harder we had to work to make it to many of our children’s events, to spend time with them, to take care of them when they were sick or to arrange for them to be taken care of, the more all those times mean to us. My children are keenly aware of all of those moments. They seem to take nothing for granted.

Ya see, my mother took them to choose hats and furs and to drink tea that day. And that night, they enjoyed the day all over again by sharing it with us. I guess my point is that time does fly by and we may feel we miss some moments but what’s important is that we make the most of those that God gives for us to be together and that our children know the importance of being there for one another. Seems like yesterday when this bride-to-be and her maid-of-honor were playing dress up together and in a little over two weeks the one will be making sure the other one’s veil and dress are laid out perfectly to walk down the aisle. Ya know, we have to live life no matter how fleeting, no matter how hectic, one event at a time, one moment, one diaper, one game, one dance, one wedding at a time. It may not be all make believe and dress up in fur coats and hats, but it is a gift. A real gift. And I could not be more grateful to God for all of it. The make believe and the real.

God is Brilliant

I received this picture from my college freshman from the laundry room, obviously somewhere other than her dorm, and it made me really stop and think. She’s beautiful like the others but she’s way different than her sisters. Not one of the others would sit in the clothes cart while waiting for their laundry to dry. One would study, one would leave the clothes and run errands, and the other would probably just chat it up with everyone in the room as she waits. The point is, regardless of being raised under the same roof, every child is different. I know that’s old news and I’m not just realizing it, but this picture reminds me that they each think differently. They each act and react differently, learn differently, and even eat differently. I have no gluten, no meat, no dairy, anything goes children. I have always prepared, slightly anxious, last minute is fine, come from behind children. I have don’t talk to me in the morning, mornings are okay, I love mornings, is it already morning children. And the list continues but the point is still the same. Isn’t God Brilliant!? He makes life so exciting and yet quite the challenge. When we embrace differences, we succeed. When we fight differences, we remain in constant turmoil. And through it all, when we pray, we find peace. Whether our children find their way by making laundry fun or making it a chore, whether they wait until the last minute when they have nothing else to wear or they deal with it as the basket fills, they will all figure it out in their own way, at their own pace. Give boundaries. Set standards. Pray and watch with wonder. Then pray more. It’s a strange world and each will set out after it in a different manner but hopefully, their differences will someday be our delight.

The Idea and the Reality

I have had plenty of time to think this week. My husband and two boys have been away taking care of my daughter’s house and dog while she and her sisters have been in Florida with my mom. The idea of being alone for a week was amazing. I would wake early as I usually do and work on my manuscript, go to Mass, then head to work. About 4:30 each day, I would get a call from my dad about where we should meet for dinner, close the store, enjoy time with my him and then head home to the dog and more writing time…and of course, Vanderbilt Baseball. Truly, I did enjoy a couple of days of the peace and quiet. But in reality, I MISS MY KIDS. I truly feel that they are just a huge part of my writing process. For some reason, when they are here and I have to squeeze in quiet time and work around all the “things” they “have to” do, I get more done. The idea of writing in a little cabin in the woods is just great, but the reality is that I believe I need the craziness. Who knew?

This idea/reality living is handed down from generation to generation in many families. I hear it all the time. People tell me, “If I could be alone for a week, I could…” and “If I had the money, I would…” or “You know what we should do, ship everyone off and …” Well, I’m just saying, that some of us, probably most of us, just work better amidst the crazy daily grind of life.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about our Catholic way of life and by the way, being Catholic/Christian is a way of life. I know that without all the Sacraments and Sacramentals that make up my Catholic way, I would probably be okay for a couple of days but I would miss all the “things” that have become a part of who I am much in the same way that I MISS MY KIDS. I would miss all the little things that bring me closer to Christ.  I love praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. I love visits in the Chapel and praying the novena to St. Joseph. And speaking of St. Joseph, I read about the life of St. Andre this week and realize that Joseph is an awesome intercessor for healing as well as many other needs. I love the daily readings, morning prayer and being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion every day. I love asking St. Anthony to help me find the things I’ve lost. I love lighting the candle before I write in front of the Blessed Mother statue that was my grandmother’s. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that I love my faith. I love the journey. I love the Catholic way of life. And, I barely touch all it has to offer. I still have a lot to learn about all that has been handed down.

This idea that I could write more, that I could be more effective and more efficient if I were just left on my own is just that, an idea. This idea that if I had all the time that I spend on kids and husband and house and prayer, life would be easier, better, less crazy, is just that, an idea that is not my reality. In reality, it is all those “things” and more that make up my wonderful, full, chaotic, fun Catholic way of life. It is all those “things” and people that make me love the journey and I wouldn’t trade any of it for all the peace and quiet in the world.  And, just sayin’, I MISS MY KIDS.

Spring Break and My New Book is Available!

Last week we journeyed to Naples, FL for Spring Break. As usual, we had an adventure because as usual, I had no plans.
Rarely are all my children out of school at the same time for Spring Break but this year, yes! College, High School and Grade School shared the same dates. My oldest daughter took off a few days of work and went with us leaving only one working girl home with dad. We piled into the Flex and left Nashville a little after 4pm, picked up Beth in Chattanooga and headed south. We decided to look for a hotel once we hit the FL line because the driver was tired. First exit, no room in the inn. Switch drivers. Second exit, no room in the inn. Switch drivers. Third exit, no room are you kidding me???  Stop at Steak and Shake at 3am for burger and shakes while this momma slept in the car. By the time they ate, I was ready to get to Naples. Granted, a 14 hour drive took 16 hours but it was an adventure.
I loved driving them to Naples every year when they were little and dragging all their stuff to the beach and watching them play in the sand and the gulf. But at this stage in our lives, I had the perfect trip (except for the crazy traffic coming back).
My kids are funny and they love to be with one another. One night we even walked 4 miles together to the Barnes and Noble to check out the books. What can I say? I love bookstores. We ate enough fresh seafood to satisfy us for quite a while. The boys tried blackened swordfish and fresh clams and my youngest tried fried oysters for the first time. The food was amazing, the shopping was out of this world, the beach was beautiful and my parents were the best, as always, about letting us just enjoy it all.
Family time, face time, is a time for real life conversations and real life experiences. We are one fortunate family all the way around.
The sunset picture above was the view from my bedroom window almost every night in Naples. As quick as that sun melts into that Gulf every night once it gets started is exactly how quick our children grow up. Remember to take the time, to spend the time, to love the time spent with our children. At first it seems they will never walk then suddenly, you’re begging them to walk back to you. Enjoy them while you can because it’s so true, life is short.

AND, right before I left, my new book, Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and Their Graces, arrived at St. Mary’s!!! April’s blogs will be about the trips and I will have a giveaway a week.

Stay tuned in and WIN!

Sensitivity, May Crownings, Graduations, Kids

I do not consider myself a very sensitive person. Don’t really know why. Just am a little gruff around the edges. I consider myself a little tough. I feel I have been handed down that bit of strength for generations. Of course there is being a strong woman and being a sensitive woman and so many women in my world are both, but me, hmmm, not so much. However, there are certain things that just bring me to tears and this being the month of May, of Mary, it’s “cryin’ time again”. This month I have a child graduating from college and a child graduating from high school. Both will make me cry. I went to May crowning yesterday at the grade school and I cried. Gets me every time…the songs, the 13 year old girls placing roses in front of Mary and the boys removing their boutineers and placing them at her feet, the second grade and eight grade court, the crowning and praying her rosary in community. And, I get to do it all again in about an hour at the High School. 

Then, there’s our children. Sometimes, they just catch me off guard. I had my 11 year old daughter request a new pair of shoes this week. I told her I had no problem getting her a new pair of shoes. (She’s used to hand me downs.) Then, long about 10 pm, past her bedtime, she crawled up on the pillow next to mine and asked, “Ya wanna know why I want new shoes?” “Yes.” This 11 year old, crazy, fun, over the top goofy child of mine told me this… A girl in her class was made fun of for the shoes she was wearing so she stopped wearing them. My daughter thought that if she bought the exact same shoes and started wearing them, the other girl could wear her shoes too without the teasing or if there was teasing, somehow, with numbers, it wouldn’t matter. I could not help but tear up. What a sweet gesture! 
So, I’ve been thinking that there is a difference between being strong or tough and being sensitive. There’s a place for all of the feelings God has bestowed on us. And for this Month, sensitivity is in this place.