Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Send me! Pleeeeaaase send me! Now! (On Life Callings)

I'm the first to call out, "Here am I, Lord, send me!" But it's usually while getting sprayed in the face with pee during a half-awake diaper change, or hearing, "NO!" followed by toddler shrieking for the hundredth time a day. And somedays, I wouldn't mind the Lord sending me just about anywhere, as long as it's anywhere else.

My wiggly, fussy toddler decided to be snuggly and quiet during the homily on Sunday, so I guess I really needed to hear it. Deacon Duffin brought up the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, called to be a missionary, even from before he was born, and St. Paul, called to be an apostle, even though he had spent a good portion of his adult life trying to kill the new Jesus cult. And then Deacon Duffin asked about the callings in our own lives.

For me, responding to Jesus' call is more like getting myself out of bed to make breakfast for my hungry, adorable goblin children, than checking airline prices to the Saharan mission field.

Some days are more exciting than others.
In the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, I've wondered if he misheard God's voice. Surely God would want him to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, unafraid to fill the public spotlight with an image that even to the end, even in suffering, life is beautiful, a voice to counter the message that if we're old or less capable, our lives lessen in value.

I heard speculation that his proud Germanic heritage wouldn't allow him to showcase the intimate face of suffering and the inevitable trials of old age. But then I read The Anchoress' thoughts, and realized that our beloved pope is following the same path as the one before him: offering his life for the world, on the public stage, as it's been for the last eight years, or behind closed doors, as it will be now.

How beautiful, as Pope Benedict himself once expressed to a journalist, there are as many ways to God as there are people. The international mission field isn't God's be-all/end-all highest calling for every person. And as Pope Benedict chooses a life of prayer over his public missionary life as the Servant of the servants of God (favorite papal title), he demonstrates even the papacy isn't the be-all/end-all greatest calling for holy Catholics.

Whether ”cloistered” in a home with needy kids, ”cloistered” in an office with needy co-workers, ”cloistered” at a university with needy professors, or cloistered in a monastery for the sake of a needy Church, we listen for our God callings, to be who and what and where we're called to be, to spend our lives meeting the needs around us.

”Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

Our Unofficial Family Protocol

1. There's no need to apologize for kids being kids. "I'm sorry my kids cried impatiently while they were tied down next to candy they weren't allowed to touch while waiting in line at the one checkout for people buying more than a 6-pack,” never needs to be said.


2. Only laugh at someone's toothpaste rolling style, disgust for stickers, Lysol obsession, etc., if they laugh first.

Stickers. Gross.
3. Say "yes" to as many requests as possible.

"YES, you may keep that, but you have to carry it home."
4. The person who folds the laundry gets credit for the entire load, regardless of who started it or moved it to the dryer. 



5. The weight of a person's opinion about how a task gets done is directly proportional to both the frequency and recency of that person's completion of the task in question.



6. How to begin those conversations when you feel like the other person is 100% wrong, and the only thing you did wrong was not tell them sooner how wrong they are: ”When you _________, I feel ________, I need [for you to] _________.”



7. The dog probably shouldn't outdo one's excitement when a significant other gets home from work. Unless the dog is a lab puppy or chihuahua.


8. A rotating chore chart isn't always the best solution. There's nothing wrong with specialization of labor, as long as the same person isn't specialized in all the labor.
9. If one person's home with the kids, their job is to keep the kids alive. Cooking, cleaning, and washing are all extras.


If, by chance, some laundry gets done on the side, more power to you.
10. #9 is non-negotiable. 

11. If one person is home with the kids, no matter how crappy the other person's day is, or how crappy their job is, or how crappy their boss is, the person home with the kids had a harder day.

  
Yesterday we only read this book 18 times. Today, let's make it 27!
12. A question that never gets asked of a kid younger than five: "Do you feel like taking a nap?" Because whether or not they feel like taking a nap is irrelevant.
"Nooooo!! I don't need a nap!" Obviously.
13. If there's not a way for kids to participate, just do it during nap time, after bedtime, in ten years, or not at all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dual Enrollment (On the School of Mary)

I didn't realize until I entered the working world that different universities offer different educations.

All I'd ever absorbed -- surely by ignoring many good sources probably informing me otherwise -- was that you get a good job by going to college. It didn't matter which college, or even what you studied. Just. Go. To. College.

I realized at Freshman Orientation, toured around campus in "small" groups of 40, that this feeling of traveling in a herd was my new normal. But I didn't realize it doesn't have to be that way.

In hindsight, I can see that I began attending another school while enrolled at university, and perhaps it was my preoccupation with these other lessons that made my academic degree plan feel more like a side job and less like the reason I moved to Denton, TX.

I changed majors with the seasons of each year, drifting from Archaeology to Dance to Organizational Communication to Dance to Rhetorical Studies to Psychology to Counseling to Dance to Communication Studies (finally ending up with Communication Studies, emphasis in Performance Studies, minor in Dance).

All the while, I found myself distracted and captivated by other, less formal classes, in a sanctuary of old couches and cobwebbed windows. I experienced the peace of silence, how to sincerely ask someone to forgive you, who I am in solitude, why I can be an introvert and still enjoy game nights, and that my deepest, wordless prayers float effortlessly to heaven on the words of the liturgy.

What surprises me today -- besides the fact that my university department advisors let my flaky self return to their offices so many times -- is that they never knew my name. They could pull up my transcript on a computer and delineate on their flow chart where I was on the progression of their major, but they didn't ask where I had come from, or where I was going, or what I was doing. I didn't hear about internships, informational interviews, networking, 10-year plans...

Yet in my unofficial studies in a creaking, seemingly forgotten chapel, my teacher knew my name. She opened a door that countless travellers before me have stepped through. Pope John Paul II called this the School of Mary, where we learn to follow Christ in the footsteps of a mortal so consecrated to the Immortal that He chose to incarnate within her.

Am I an idolator that I call her mother, that I rest at her feet to learn of her Son? That I want to be close to her, because I find such solace in the same arms that cradled our Lord to sleep? She who spent more time with Him than anyone, who pondered his wonder decades before a first miracle, whose own heart was pierced in sorrow, as Simeon said it would be, and who stood with the early Church at Pentecost, though she'd already received the Holy Spirit 33 years earlier.

Jesus taught me to call her Mother.

I rest on Jesus, as his beloved disciple, I hear of Jesus' resurrection, as his beloved disciple, I witness Jesus' resurrected body, as his beloved disciple, I trust in my future, as his beloved disciple, and I receive the gift of his mother, as his beloved disciple.


She continues to teach me many lessons and to bring me, always, to the heart of her Son.

7 Quick Takes: In Which Lent Begins

1. ON COURAGE AND TIME:

My walk of shame to the library's return desk has not yet occurred. I did have the audacity to check out two more books, four kids in tow, and felt the all-knowing eyes of the librarian reading my soul the whole time.

2. ON FORGOTTEN HOBBIES 
I went to a dance rehearsal for the first time in, well, a long time, and it felt good. Not the part where I threw up my breakfast in front of people I don't know. But the rest of it, felt good.

3. ON BEING A FB ADDICT:

I left Facebook for Lent, since I can't seem to use it in moderation. But I'm pretty sure this ensuing hyper-productivity will propel me to 2015, where Facebook no longer exists. Or the loss of my safety valve for high-anxiety situations will kill me. Either way, it's good for me to disconnect from my FB virtual unreality and reconnect with the reality of any given moment.

"My kid just threw up all over the cat who is rolling on the bed trying to clean herself up. I don't know what to do, but am feeling much better now that I've shared this on Facebook."

4. ON FASTING:

This is the first year in awhile that I don't have the excuse of being pregnant or breastfeeding to avoid real fasting. Aw, oh well. It still feels kind of gratuitious sleeping for 8 hours at night.

5. ON CAT ACCESSORIES
I don't usually advocate accessories for cats. BUT, here's one for $5, with an incalculable ROI: kitty litter mat.

Note: Kitty litter on mat. Kitty litter not on tile floor. Works like a magnet.

6. ON CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Let the conspiracy theories fly! Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating the chair of St. Peter! Here's my favorite theory.

Hint: It's not because his Germanic heritage forbids him from experiencing the trials of old age in the public spotlight.

7. ON MOVIE REVIEWS:

Obviously late to the party, but I just watched "There Be Dragons" (currently streaming for free with an Amazon Prime account)! An inspiring story about Josemaria Escriva, a young priest during the Spanish Civil War. It's got beautiful cinematography, and the storyline's not so saccharine that you feel like Disney princesses could eat it for breakfast. Josemaria is a modern-day saint who lived through war and persecution, trying to discern where God was in all of it. Relatable and hopeful.

To read more Quick Takes from random people's lives, click here!

Friday, February 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes: In Which Libraries Don't Save the Money I Thought They Would

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 1, possibly "and only")

1. My kid took a bite out of a library book today, and I've spent the last 90 minutes beating myself up about how I should've kept the book in a special place, had special library book reading time, blah, blah, blah, all the stuff good parents do, and trying to imagine how much a library-grade board book might cost. This wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't been so darn self-congratulatory about the whole new library adventure. I elected myself "mom of the century" while entering the library's children section with my toddlers -- who are obviously geniuses #whyelsewouldIbethere -- and now I'm the mom who's standing in line to pay for a chewed-up book. 

  2. Speaking of going to the library for the first time in awhile, I totally get people who leave the Catholic Church and then come back again once they have kids. a) "Well, it hasn't meant much to me the last few years, but I want my kids to have this experience." b) "Hm, being here is kind of nice. It's different than I remember, but familiar. I like it."

3. Our kitchen light went out a few weeks ago. We replaced the bulbs, which didn't work, and in the mess of other new homeowner to-do lists, it just wasn't worth the mental effort to troubleshoot it further. Until this morning at breakfast, when I suddenly decided it had to be fixed. Now. We took off the cover, and removed the only other part we could, a metal box with lots of wires. I took it to Home Depot, held it up like the foreign object it is, and said, "I need one of these." The part they sent me home with wasn't an exact fit for our fixture, but nothing a power drill couldn't fix. So when the light came back on, we felt like superheroes. Or I did, at least.


"I need one of these."

4. We never did turn off the power while working on the light and reconnecting all the wires. But as my Latest Favorite Youtube Instant Sensation explains: ain't nobody got time for that! (From what I understand, this woman's been offered several commercial spots since this news story aired!)




5. I've become obsessed with things that can look better with a coat of paint. And since the prime of our new home was circa 1980, I just don't even know where to start. My latest target was a coat of white paint over the gold fixture in the bathroom, which spread to the gold light switch covers. (Who even knew you could get those in gold???) This is definitely budget-inspired creativity, but the convenience just goes so much further. No shopping for breakables with kids in tow, spray paint dries in about the length of a nap time, and worst case scenario, it turns out horribly, and we have to replace it. Which we were gonna do anyway. I wish I had a before picture to show you, but I suffer from this terrible impulsivity, and when it hits, see #4.



6. I collect trash. It's part of that "budget-inspired creativity" that makes me look at anything that's not smelly or exceedingly deteriorated and think, "That could be something!" So my latest acquisition was a changing table, and a nice one, rescued from my neighbor's Spring Cleaning pile before the morning rain got it. I wiped it down with Lysol, and now our garage smells piney fresh. Mmm. I was thrilled when Wally said, "Well, we don't really need a changing table, but maybe we could cut the top off, and it could become useful for something else." Yes! That's what I'm talking about! I love that ingenuity! But seriously, we don't actually need more stuff. So within seconds of posting it for free on Facebook, one of my friends responded that her church had just posted a need for a changing table. Yes! Need met!



7. Five days late, and always a dollar short: thoughts on Beyonce's Super Bowl half-time: She is a great dancer and singer, so talented. But I was disappointed, because instead of just being a cool, fun performer at a national event, her whole show was saturated with sexual innuendo. It highlighted the double-standard between men and women performing artists. Why do amazing women feel like their talent won't be recognized unless it's sold with a sexy message?

For more Quick Takes, go to Jen's site, here!