I’m not even going to title this one…

The following conversation may or may not have happened today.

Even though it totally did.

Child 1 to Babysitter: Babysitter! Child 2 won’t stop saying the word, “Nipple”!

Babysitter to Child 2: Child 2, don’t use that word.

Child 2 to Child 1: But you did! You punched my nipple and now my nipples hurt!

Child 1 to Child 2: Stop saying “Nipple”!

Babysitter to Child 1: Why would you punch your brother there?

Child 1 to Babysitter: I didn’t mean to punch him in the nipple…

Child 2 to Child 1 (screaming… just in case the whole neighborhood hadn’t already heard): But you did punch me in the NIPPLE! And now my NIPPLES HURT!!!

Sometimes there is not enough coffee in the world…

But hey, the entertainment value is priceless.

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None Other Than You, Lord

As a teacher, I like to have “Morning Meetings” with my kiddos before we start our day. I usually lay out the day’s events, and then discuss a theme I want the kiddos to focus on for the day. One of the perks of working at a Catholic school is that I can pick a particular saint to highlight each day, and then direct our discussion on what we can learn from that saint and how we can emulate them.

This past year, when we got to the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28th), we had a lengthy discussion about his regrettable perception early on as a “Dumb Ox” and how, despite that reputation, he went on to become one of the greatest theologians in history. Later that day, during our weekly visit from one of the parish priests, the kiddos learned more about St. Thomas’ great devotion to the Lord. The father told the class the well-known story about St. Thomas and that toward the end of his life, he had a miraculous vision of Christ on the Cross while deep in prayer. During this time, St. Thomas saw all of his works he had written during his life. Referencing all that Thomas had done to grow the theological and philosophical riches of His Church, Christ addressed him saying, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward will you have?”

To which St. Thomas replied, Non Nisi Te, Domine” (“None other than you, Lord”).

I was profoundly moved by that story, but oddly intimidated by it as well. How did one achieve that level of devotion and intimacy with the Lord that they wanted nothing else than more of Him? At the time, I could have thought of a dozen rewards I would have asked the Lord for.

But as intimidated by that story as I was, I was also hugely envious. I wanted that depth of devotion; I longed for that level of intimacy with my Lord and savior. And that night, during my evening prayers, I prayed for precisely that – knowing that I had a long way to go before I could get there.

And then something interesting happened. The other night, while doing the dishes, I was talking with the Lord. I was telling Him about my day, asking for His help and guidance with particular situations, thanking Him for His provision and grace… and just genuinely sharing my thoughts, anxieties and hopes with him. I do this on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I literally spend my entire day communicating with the Lord, both mentally and verbally. I feel like I can’t breathe if I’m not sharing with Him. My relationship with Him has become so close, that I don’t want to go a single minute without sharing with Him.

And in the midst of this prayer, while praying for a particular petition I’d been making for months, if not years, it suddenly struck me… If God chose to deny me this heart’s desire… I would be okay. If He didn’t answer any of those prayers that I had previously deemed as critical to my happiness… it didn’t matter. Because right there, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than Him. More of His presence, more of His grace, more of His love. Nothing else mattered except for… Him. He had already so profoundly blessed me, and abundantly poured Himself into this crazy, amazing relationship with me. He was showing me things and speaking to me and directing me and just loving me… that I could not have asked for anything more wonderful than more of Him. And so I told Him. As I stood there in front of a sink full of dirty dishes and soapy hands I just said, “Lord, I just want you. I want more of you – in whatever way you want to reveal yourself onto me and walk with me – I just want more of this.”

And at that moment, I remembered. I remembered the story of St. Thomas and my long forgotten prayer. I remembered my longing and that incredulous petition.

So there I stood, utterly dumbfounded by His goodness and His love… That this crazy, mixed-up journey had brought me to this sink full of dirty dishes, an encounter with my Lord, and an amazing answer to prayer.

I could not ask for anything more.

Control Freak

I don’t know if this has come across in any of my writing, but I tend to be a major control freak.

As in, I must take care of everyone and everything including those things that are not my concern because inevitably someone is going to drop the ball on something and the sky will fall and the world will erupt into mass chaos.

Unless, of course, I’m allowed to be in control.

Because… duh.

I don’t even know how I got to be this way. Youngest children aren’t usually control freaks. Youngest children aren’t the hyper-responsible, take control, high-achieving types. They’re usually the go-with-the flow, laid-back, “someone else will take care of it” types. I don’t know which gene was switched on at birth, but apparently, I have yet to experience the luxury of functioning like a typical youngest child. It’s honestly exhausting. I literally exhaust myself.

“Why are you always so tired?”

“BECAUSE, I AM TRYING TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING AND RIGHT NOW YOU’RE DISTRACTING ME WITH YOUR INANE QUESTIONS, SO IF YOU’LL EXCUSE ME, I HAVE AN ACTUAL JOB TO GET BACK TO… YOU KNOW… “CONTROLLER OF THE UNIVERSE”???”

sassy

Seriously…

I wish I could be “chill” (as the kids these days say…). I wish I could trust someone else to just take over, but I can count on one hand the number of people in my life whom I actually trust enough to “be in charge”. Not only “be in charge” but also, “do things the right way”. Because there is a HUUUUUUUGE difference between “being in charge” and “doing things the right way”. Very rarely do you ever meet anyone with that magical combination of “being in charge” AND knowing how to do things properly (AKA the way I would do them) and when you meet them, it’s like capturing a beautiful, magical unicorn that you never, ever, EVER want to let go of. Because being around these magical creatures is the ONE opportunity you have to just… relax… and not worry… and instead you get to watch them carry the control freak burden around (quite capably, I might add…) and somewhere in the midst of watching them capably handle everything the “right way”, you discover you’ve actually fallen in love with them…

dreamy

Ahem… Not that that’s ever happened… ’cause… that’d be… weird.

But inevitably, these magical creatures must spread their wings and fly away to unknown lands in which to spread the same joy and happiness to other control-freaks all over the world.

And just like that… I’m back to making sure everything is running properly.

Until, of course, I undoubtedly trip over myself and my good intentions and make not only a disaster of everything, but a complete fool of myself.

(I just love when that happens.)

And when that does inevitably happen, there’s God, just waiting… wondering if I’m done… wondering if I’m ready to give up… wondering if He’s one of the lucky, chosen few that I trust enough to take over.

And usually I am… until I’m not… because let’s face it… real true control freaks can never completely give up control… right? Because… sure… you can trust God but… it’s just that… He may not do it the way you think He should do it.

Um… all due respect, Lord, but… you’re doing it wrong.

That’s supposed to go over there.

And you’re timing is all off.

And that wasn’t on my five-year plan.

And I can see how you might think that would be a good idea, but I’m gonna tell you right now… it’s not.

Because, I already tried that. It didn’t work. I mean, you’re welcome to try it again, but… in my experience, it just wasn’t happening.

But… you know… to each their own… If you want to give it a whirl, by all means, have at it.

And then, just as you’re ready to take back the reins and get back on the horse (Because clearly God Almighty needs your help…) He gives you a wink and a nod and tells you on the way to the grocery store…

“Be still and know that I am God.”  ~Psalm 46:10

And you’re all, “Okay. Got it. Sorry. I’ll let you be in charge. Again.” But you only do it half-heartedly because you have a plan and you’re just going to go ahead with the plan because the plan is the plan and YOU NEED TO STICK TO THE PLAN!

And then, that evening, as you open your evening prayers in “Magnificat”, the following words jump off the page…

“Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today…. The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”  ~Exodus 14:14

And the next morning’s scripture calendar reads…

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD.”  ~Ephesians 2:8

And just in case you still haven’t gotten the memo, the second reading at that morning’s Mass states….

“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the SURPASSING POWER MAY BE OF GOD AND NOT FROM US.”  ~2nd Corinthians 4:7

Until FINALLY, you have to conclude that maybe, just maybe…

GOD WANTS YOU TO LET GO AND LET HIM.

Which is the hardest thing for a control freak to do.

But really… who is going to be more capable, more competent, and more adept at handling ALL your situations… in being the ULTIMATE control freak who not only knows how to take control but will do it PERFECTLY (He’s not even going to do it well. He’s going to do it perfectly… with perfect timing, perfect means and a perfect end result…) than your Heavenly Father?

Seriously. How dumb do we have to be before we let go?

my bad

Sorry, Lord. My bad.

I mean… I think He’s got this.

 

Just a reminder…

“Happy indeed is the man
Who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
    Nor lingers in the way of sinners
    Nor sits in the company of scorners,
But whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And who ponders his law day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted
    beside the flowing waters,
    That yields its fruit in due season
    And whose leave shall never fade;
And all that he does shall prosper.”

~Psalm 1:1-3

To Love Means…

I came across the following quote by St. Josemaria Escriva the other day:

“Love is not content with a routine fulfillment of duty. Love is incompatible with boredom or apathy. To love means to renew our dedication every day, with loving deeds of service.”

St. Josemaria Escriva
Friends of God, no. 31

Nice sentiment, right? A good reminder. A helpful nudge in the right direction.

But how many of us actually experience love in this way? How many of us are prone to get so bogged down in the mundane details of everyday life that we forget what real love really looks like?

For some of us, most days are a mad dash to keep up with kiddos’ and spouses schedules, to shorten the ever-lengthening to-do list, and limp through the work day until our heads hit the pillow for a moment of respite.

For others of us, our days consist of constant glances at the clock, counting the hours until we can punch out so we can turn off our phones, order take out and plunk ourselves down for some quality Netflix time.

We’re all guilty of it.

Just get through the day.

Yes, you try to be patient, you try to be kind, you try to keep a level tone with your five year old who is arguing with you about putting on pants, you try not to roll your eyes at your spouse when they forget to put gas in the car yet again, you try not scream profanities at the slow driver moseying along in the passing lane, you try to keep your opinions about your boss to yourself even though he or she is wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong, you try not to avoid the phone calls from your sweet grandpa who is just checking up on you (even though you somehow never get to the phone on time)…

You try to show love in your daily routine, but you’re busy and things need to get done and sometimes it’s not real, and sometimes it’s forced, and sometimes you just do it out of a sense of duty.

But that’s the thing. Love shouldn’t be about duty. It shouldn’t be about boredom and apathy. Love requires time and commitment and it should be new and exciting and joyous. But how? Most of the time, “love” just feels like another thing we have to “do”.

Yesterday morning, when I woke up, the first words out of my mouth were, “Lord, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this day. I really need your help.” My body ached all over, my head was pounding, I was more exhausted than I had been in a long time, my face was puffy from all the feelings of the previous day, and I knew the kids were going to be cranky and sleep-deprived from having had a sleep-over the night before. I just couldn’t do it. It was raining – again – and there were music lessons and chores and I couldn’t even comprehend all the coaxing and arguing that would ensue during the day.

I looked at the clock at 8:30 and thought, “If I can just get through the next eight and half hours, then I can go home and plunk myself in front of a good movie…”

And then, oddly enough, something shifted.

“You guys! After your music lessons, if I can get my Smart Board working, you can watch a movie in my classroom… on the big screen… in the bean bag chairs.”

Their faces lit up.

When I got to my classroom, my computer was on the opposite side of the room from where it was supposed to be (because… summer cleaning) in a tangled mess of wires that I knew not where to put. My first thought was, “Nevermind. Too much work. They’ll just have to get over it.” But again, there was this prompting of, “Just try.”

So, I tried. Ten minutes later, I had the Smart Board up and running. They were thrilled.

Afterwards, we baked brownies.

I built them a fort.

We created a side-walk chalk town in the driveway.

We played a day-long game of tag.

We joked and laughed and made fart noises and I chased them around the house and the yard because oddly enough I was always “it”.

My back was killing me, the dull ache in the back of my head was still there, I was functioning on 8 cups of coffee, and to be perfectly honest, I was counting down the hours until I was off of work (because… exhaustion), but we had one of the best days we had had all summer.

And I think it’s because I did the things I did out of love. Not out of a sense of duty or guilt. I didn’t do it out of routine. I did it because I wanted to bless them…. to make their day better… and that made all the difference. Because I renewed my dedication to them in loving deeds of service.

And then I stumbled upon the St. Josemaria Escriva quote. And I’m not exactly certain, but I’m pretty sure, that was God’s way of winking at me.

So, even when you think you can’t show that real, self-sacrificial love, you can. It just takes a little extra push (or a massively huge extra push depending on the day you’re having…) but I guarantee, it makes all the difference. For you and for them.

Feelings… Nothing More Than Feelings

You guys…

I had some feelings today.

Usually, before the feelings can get the best of me, I do this :

60fbf108267cf5cc245097bd64bcff0c

But, I just couldn’t fight this feeling anymore…

feelings 3

I’d forgotten what I started fighting for…

feelings 2

It was time to bring this ship into the shore…

bring it in

And throw away the oars…

oars

Forever.

forever

(Why YES, I DID just make a Giphy montage for an REO Speedwagon song… because I AM that awesome. Thanks for noticing.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The feelings. All the feelings.

I was perfectly fine not dealing with the feelings. I’m an expert at not dealing with feelings.

I just shove them deep, deep down into the cavernous depths of my soul where they will never see the light of day again.

But then I ran into a friend… who was having feelings… and at first I was all,

dont be cry

But she kept talking about all of the feelings…

And somehow the feelings got ON me…

And… before I knew it…

giphy

And the kids were staring at me like I had lost my ever-lovin’ mind…

You guys…

I hate it. I hate the feelings.

Feelings are hard.

I used to not hate the feelings, but I’ve had so many hard, ugly-cry, grief stricken feelings the past few years… that I just can’t do it anymore. Feelings are the worst. I avoid them at all costs. I don’t want to feel anymore. It hurts too much. So, I just keep jamming the feelings down, down, down, down, down in my heart.

WHERE?

Down in my heart to stay.

And never see the light of day.

But some “people” say that’s not “healthy”. Well, if it’s so not “healthy”,  why do all the feelings eventually erupt in a production of GLORIOUS madness once a month? Huh? HUH?!

Oh…

(It just occurred to me what those productions of glorious madness actually were… I’m not the most self-aware person.)

At any rate, those feelings had no business rearing their ugly heads. I’m a lady, for crying out loud. I don’t cry in public. I am made of stone. And my heart is two sizes too small.

(Basically, I am a man, trapped in an itty-bitty girl package.)

Please tell me someone else has this problem with the feelings. Am I an anomaly? Are all girls just, “I’m gonna let it ALL OUT and SPEW MY FEELINGS ALL OVER EVERYONE BECAUSE EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW EXACTLY HOW I’M FEELING AT ALL TIMES!!! Is that how girls are now? If so, what’s wrong with me? Why the running and the stuffing?

*sigh*

I have so much to work on, don’t I?