Monday, April 23, 2018

Growing......OLD?

We have had four days in a row of beautiful sunshine...I can almost say I feel human again with the amount of natural vitamin D I've been able to get.  But my bebe is still testing the boundary of my sanity...I'm trying to pray more and through the night, I constantly have my cord rosary in hand and when I'm awake, I am either praying the rosary or the chaplet.  I am constantly calling on Jesus to help me be patient...

Well, the last few nights, I've had other thoughts and I tried really hard to remember what they were so I could write them here.  I don't know if anyone else thinks like me, sometimes, as I tell my friends, my mind is a scary place to venture alone in....

But last night, I distinctly remember the thoughts that popped into my head.  I was nursing Agnes right before we turned out the lights.  I noticed my fingers.  I have arthritis in my fingers.  I actually have arthritis in a lot of places, wrists, ankles, toes, knees, both my hips, my neck, you name it... I suppose I can thank my genetics for it...both my grandparents on my mom side had osteoarthritis and for some reason, I feel like my grandfather on my dad's side did as well.  I also carry the factors for rheumatoid arthritis.  Which means, my blood work fluctuates (as all of ours does I found out from my RA doc) and six months from now, I'll test again and it will show different factors.  Or the factors that were showing this time, will be normal and vice versa. It doesn't mean I'll get RA, but it does mean, I have a greater chance of getting RA. It's quite amazing.  Factors might be the wrong word, but I'm working on an average of 6 hours of sleep or less a night and I require much more than that on a good day.....

So, back to what I noticed.  My fingers.  All of the sudden, I had this horrible twinge of great sadness.  I could see my fingers bent up and wrinkled as if I had aged 20 years instantly.  It took my breath away and caught me so off guard I became a tad emotional.  My fingers are already showing signs of these cysts that rupture and form which eventually lead to the crooked/broken looking fingers you see on little old ladies...I wanted to run away and find the nearest fountain of youth and drink it up!!  How could I be getting........OLD???

When did this happen?

What happened to that 20 something red head who had just married her best friend in the world and was ready to tackle anything that came her way???  

An overwhelming amount of thoughts came flooding through my mind in those short moments of quiet nursing.  I am 45.  I am married to a man who is 48, will be 49 in just a few short months.  I'm closer to 50 and I guess the realization of that really hit me...  I know plenty of people who are in their 50's and doing fantastic.  I've no doubt I'll be just fine in my 50's and God willing in my 60's and 70's as well, but I guess my mortality really hit me hard last night.  

I have friends who are my age who are grandparents.  I have friends who are my age who are just starting their families.  There certainly is no "set" way of life for a person who is 45 and reflecting on her mortality.  It just really hit me in such a strange way last night.  I was looking at the bebe and her beautifully perfectly soft skin.  I was rubbing her sweet little cheeks as she nursed and caught myself wondering if my rough finger from years of dishes, making meals, cleaning, digging in the flower/vegetable gardens bothered her...I have a memory of my grandma Grace rubbing my arm and thinking how her fingers felt like sand paper.  I always thought it was something that happened when you were, you know, OLD.  Not 45.  

As I sat there, I realized other things, too.  My red hair that took me DECADES to appreciate was graying at a much more rapid pace than in the past....how much longer would I be a red head?  My husband loves my hair, but he has always said he'd love me no matter what, but the silly thought, 'what if he doesn't like my hair all gray' kept playing in my mind... 

'Is this a mid life crisis,' I kept saying to myself....Or just a woman who is extremely exhausted, tired of fighting the battle that is the world/culture on my family, and feeling a tad bit vulnerable sitting here in the dark with an 8 month old bebe who would rather stay away 24 hours a day and nurse 23 of those hours???

I quietly spoke to God and asked Him to please remove these vain thoughts that kept bombarding my brain.  I started to pray the Chaplet and asked Jesus to make these thoughts go away.

They certainly didn't go away, but this morning, while I was making breakfast for the two second youngest, I remembered a picture I wanted to write up and print off.  It really struck me this morning as I re-read it....my computer is being wonky (can't imagine why, when I have 5 children who do homework on it....) so I'm just going to have to type out what the picture said...

"Obedience is one of the virtues that we struggle with from our earliest years.  Strangely enough when we are placed in charge, it becomes something we demand in justice. 
Whether it be something we want to demand or whether it be something we are bound to, the fact remains that obedience is that bond that ties us to the will of God, and ultimately to the love of God. 
We can not do the will of God by doing that which we prefer, and we cannot show God our love by doing that which we prefer, and usually in direct proportion we turn away from God and how He wants us. 
The pain of not doing what you want is a passing pain - it barely lasts but a few moments.  However, the reward for doing what God wants you to do begins now, and lasts forever."



Isn't that beautiful?  I read this last night before my little "mid life crisis" but it didn't really connect.  This morning, while I was trying to collect my thoughts, God (because say what we will about coincidences, I find them Godly) was showing me there was an answer to how to approach this getting "old" thing.  I actually, for the first time in a long time, felt peace about something that was really bothering me.  

I am getting old.  My husband is getting old.  Technically, we started getting old the day we were born.  But there is something waiting for me if I but just obey God and stop worrying about things that are completely out of my control.  Like growing old.  Like wrinkles.  Like arthritis.  Like gray hair.  Like rough hands.... I can't stop it.  It's a natural part of aging.  I can certainly take care of myself, exercise, eat healthy, stay out of the sun (for too long), and get plenty of sleep (yes, Lord, I'm trying to be obedient to my state in life with sleep right now.....), but ultimately, I'm getting old.  I'm going to age.  I'm eventually going to die and I pray with all my heart, that God will look upon me and have mercy on all I did, and all I didn't do.  

So today, as the temperature actually soars to near 70 (has it even been that warm since last August?????), I shall give thanks and praise for my Creator.  I shall smile at that woman in the mirror who doesn't quite reflect the woman in my heart or mind, but is her still the same, and I shall do all I can to be the light of Christ to my little people He's put me in charge of....

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Divine Mercy abounds....


My story has been brewing for almost 22 years.  I suppose if we want to be technical, it’s been brewing for over 45 years, but for now, I’ll keep the focus to the past few weeks.

Lent this year was less than stellar for me.  I always find it fascinating that no matter what I decide to give up or even include during my Lenten journey, God always manages to throw some new ideas into the mix during the 40 days. You know, some I certainly would never have chosen for myself...   This year proved to be no different. 

A little side note here- when I am nursing or pregnant, I tend to do very little as far as food sacrifices go….a girl has got to keep up her energy...especially one who is the mother of 8 children who all apparently inherited some crazy energy gene that I do not carry…

But this year, I tried to give up snacking (like the junk kind…) and TV (mostly because the only time I really watch it is with my husband and he gave up Netflix and Amazon Prime so- easy!).  But as far as actual sacrifice goes, it seemed as though my list was waning.  A bit.

But never fear- because when you are the mother of 8 and you help put together a Catholic Women’s conference, there is no limit to the temptation to sin being thrown at you daily.  

I had my fair share of less than stellar mom moments, friend moments, colleague moments, wife moments, daughter moments.  It was a veritable cornucopia of shame when it came to realizing just how much of a sinner I am!  (we all are, I’m not being scrupulous, just pointing out the obvs…)

The entire Lent was marked with sick babies almost WEEKLY, a constant barrage of family issues, events, etc that left me feeling exhausted and wondering why I ever worry about ‘giving up’ something to begin with.  If I just wait, Lent will show me my sacrifices rather quickly…

Fast forward to the week before Holy Week.  We were attending the new parish we are in the process of switching to.  It’s literally a mile down the road from our house and we’ve been hemming and hawing for years about how much easier it would be if we attended Mass/religion 5 minutes from home as opposed to the 20 minutes, sometimes 30 during the evening rush, we had been dealing with for the last 8 years.  Also, having three in high school, one in middle school, one in upper elementary and soon one in lower elementary in the local area, it was really starting to become impossible to get to every single place without implementing teleporting…. :) Wouldn’t that be awesome??  

We are very good friends with the priest at this particular parish and his mom is practically my mom, too.  I just love her.  She sends me notes, letters, even gifts often and that Friday (the week before Good Friday) at Stations, I was privileged to see her!!  The priest had made mention that the Divine Mercy Novena would be starting on Good Friday and ending right before Divine Mercy Sunday.  He said, “my mom sent me with all of these Divine Mercy Novena pamphlets to leave for you all and she told me to tell you to do the Novena….And I try to listen to Momma….”  (This priest is actually quite hilarious….but loves his momma dearly).  And it got me thinking that I’ve 1) never really done the Divine Mercy Novena (or I don’t remember doing it at least) and 2) I sometimes RARELY finish Novenas-really.  Some I do, but it’s tough with my short memory and crazy chaotic life.  3) I felt the call that my husband and I needed to do this Novena.  Like, NEEDED TO DO IT.  It’s hard to describe and my typing skills have weakened thanks to constant texting, so to actually put it into words….I really felt the call from God that I needed to do this Novena.  I’ve had a rough year and a half.  And as I stated early, 22 years of brewing and stewing…..

So I didn’t want to ignore this feeling that God was calling us to pray the Novena and my husband readily agreed to do it, so I knew it was meant to be.  And we remembered EVERY DAY!  The kids would even ask for us to do the “singing Chaplet” when it was time to recite the Chaplet.  It was kind of fun to see how some of them sang along….

There is a Plenary Indulgence with the Divine Mercy Novena.  I’m not 100% sold on this practice (which is the beauty of my faith, I can question things until I’m sure I understand them, and that’s so important to me, especially during these times where most would just LEAVE their faith because they didn’t like, understand, or accept a particular teaching/faith matter/practice.)

I borrowed the definition of a Plenary Indulgence from EWTN.com.:

The following "General remarks on Indulgences" from Gift of the Indulgencesummarizes the usual conditions given in the Church's law (cf. Apostolic Penitentiary, Prot. N. 39/05/I):
1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".
2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions(below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works ..... [in this case, those granted for the Feast of Mercy]
3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.  [i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.]
4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
?have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

?have sacramentally confessed their sins;

?receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);

?pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father's intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.

As you can see, it’s something that might be hard to understand, but for whatever reason, and i’m getting ahead of myself, it was made crystal clear to me on Divine Mercy Sunday.  But I’m jumping ahead.

We finished the Divine Mercy Novena on the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday.  I had wanted to get to confession, but we had such a crazy afternoon/evening and one of mine had to serve at our former parish on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, so even getting to confession was looking slim.  I knew I would miss Saturday.  Sunday would mean no confession, because i knew my former parish didn’t have confession on Sunday.  I was secretly praying that God would somehow grant me the grace to receive the sacrament without saying anything to anyone.  Boy did He blow my mind away with what happened. 

Saturday night I was home with the little ones and my husband went to our new parish.  My oldest took my one daughter who had to serve to our former parish (which is still her parish since she has been confirmed and is much like me, a creature of habit and comfortability).  Sunday morning my second oldest daughter and I went to our new parish and to my delight, were told about the Divine Mercy celebration that would take place that afternoon starting at 2 with confession and exposition of Jesus in the Monstrance.  Did he just say CONFESSION??? You can imagine my delight.  But I had a dilemma as you can guess, being a mom of 8 might….

My husband was in another state with my oldest at a volleyball tournament.  My son, who is the sacristan at our former parish (he’s been confirmed, too, and his parish is our old one…) had to work at 7:30 that Sunday morning.  Which meant, he finished at 1:45.  But our former parish was also having a Divine Mercy celebration at 2 (not with confession as far as I knew) but I knew it would be tough to get him all the way in another town and back to our new parish in time to get in line for confession.  For some reason, I must of known it was going to be tough, and wow.  I’ve never seen that many people in line for confession outside of parish penance nights during Advent and Lent!!  It was unreal, but I’m jumping ahead again!!

I had texted my son to see if he would possibly be able to leave by 1:45.  He wasn’t sure because he might need to help set up.  I figured as much, but instead of getting down as I usually do, I just sighed and told God it would be really nice if I could get to confession.  I had been wanting to get to confession for a few weeks because I really wanted to confess some root sins of mine that I needed to work on.  You know, like pride, anger, sloth…..the ones we struggle with constantly.  I knew I needed to really work on being forgiven for my root sin of pride because honestly, pride is what I struggle with the worst. It affects everything I do from being a mommy monster, to feelings of jealousy, to not getting my way, to how I deal with disciplining my children when they disrespect me. You get the idea... I needed confession.  

Not to mention, I felt in my heart, not connected to the indulgence at all, but connected to God’s mercy, that there was something very powerful about the novena and purifying my heart in confession and receiving communion.  Again, it’s hard to explain, but my heart actually was burning for confession. 

So I decided to head up to get my son at 1:45 even though he might not be ready.  And wouldn’t you know it, he finished and was out by 1:45.  I was super excited and maybe a tad too confident I would make confession.  I even heartily agreed to stopping by the house to let him change clothes because he actually wanted to go with me.  Bonus!  Also, by stopping, my 12 year old daughter decided to go to.  I had offered it to all the kids at home, but they were the only two to take me up on it.  So the baby, my son and daughter, and I headed to my new parish.

As we walked into the church, I was shocked and and a bit worried, when I saw the confession line, 20 people deep...I was almost discouraged, but I kept my focus.  In my head I just kept asking God to allow me to receive confession.  Please Lord, I need this.  Jesus was exposed on the altar, and I just kept trying to focus on Him and asking Him to hear my plea for confession.  I would not allow myself to be down, or even entertain a negative thought.

We stood in line for a good 20 minutes before a lady showed us that there was actually another line for another priest up front.  We, and several others, decided to leave that line and head over.  Little did we know it was our priest friend whose line we were in.  It was almost 3 and I knew the Deacon was going to start saying a few words, we would sing the Chaplet, and then Jesus would be put back in the tabernacle.  I was getting nervous I wouldn’t make confession.  It’s rare these days for priests to stay in a confessional and just listen to the sins of the people until they are all heard.  Finally the person in front of me went and I started praying for my confession.  I knew what I needed to say, and I suddenly felt a twinge of guilt that I was putting myself before my two children.  I sheepishly turned around and graciously offered them to go before me.  I felt terrible for seeming so selfish, but those two were so kind.  They both told me to go first.  And it wasn’t because they were afraid to go, it was because they knew how badly I wanted to go.  

It was finally my turn. I think I practically RAN into the back sacristy where the priest was sitting and laughed out loud when I saw it was my friend.  He was laughing at me for laughing and I started my confession.

I LOVE confession.  I know that sounds crazy.  But I do.  I love it, like I love shaving my legs.  Bare with me for a minute.  I know it’s a bizarre analogy, but maybe I can help it make sense.  I hate shaving my legs.  It’s such a tedious task, I don’t like wasting hot water, but I struggle with shaving with no water on because I’ll freeze and  then get goosebumps and shaving goosebumps is never comfy, so I resort to using hot water, and blah blah blah...am I making sense yet?? (yes, I know, my husband doesn’t get me either at times….) but once I shave, I lotion up and my legs FEEL SO GOOD!!!!  They feel so smooth, and creamy.  I LOVE it.  I can wear shorts.  I can wear jeans without feeling hairs bending up and hurting.  I can wear nightgowns without cutting either leg with sharp hairs….

Are you getting my visual yet??  Are you a tad disgusted by me?  I know.  I was born with a broken filter...it’s ok… ;)

Well, confession for me is the same way.  I love confession.  I hate how nervous I get before while I wait in line. It's so hard for me to tell the things I’ve done OUT LOUD to this priest (who consequently is acting in persona christa- you can google that for a later discussion if you don’t get the whole we are going straight to Jesus thing), I don’t like feeling like, wow, I’m a sinner (but that’s inevitable, we are.  Thank you, Adam and Eve) but once I go?

It’s like my heart is free.  I feel so clean and ready to tackle the world.  I confessed my root sins and said my prayer of contrition, got absolution, and literally left bounding out of the room.  All in all, it probably took less than 5 minutes.  But it was the BEST, most  HOLY 5 minutes ever of confession for me.  I felt amazing.  I had the baby with me, so her and I went to the back of church where I could do my penance, and for the first time in so many months, as I sat there before Jesus, I felt compelled to slip my veil on.  Now, I’m not going to wear it all the time right now.  I struggle with feeling like we already get an enormous amount of stares as it is, and the baby loves my veil.  In that, she would like to wear it, too.  So when my daughter came back from confession, she took the baby and I was able to kneel in adoration of Jesus with my veil on. I felt such amazing peace.  I was truly worshiping my Lord and my God.  It was awesome.

When the deacon began to speak, the priests continued to hear confessions.  I was in awe of that.  What a blessing for these people!!  The deacon went on to explain the whole, plenary indulgence and how we can apply it to ourselves, or to someone who had passed away.  So I thought to myself, alrite, if this is legit, and the church says it is, but if it is, I want to apply it to my Grandma, Grace.  She passed away in 2011.  So I left it at that.  The deacon went on to speak and was just a beautiful soul as he spoke about the Divine Mercy devotion and how he came to love it and we then sang the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  As we were leaving, my daughter told me that she applied her indulgence to my Grandma, Grace, too!  I was blown away that she was so selfless and thought it was perfect that she chose her as well.  So I asked God to apply it to my grandfather, her husband, who had died when I was in high school, and was someone who I struggled with forgiving for setting the ball for all the father wounds in my family.  I felt another bit of peace there, as well. 

But my story doesn’t end there.  That was Sunday.  On Monday, I had decided that my sebactical from working out was officially over and I needed to do something to help my brain seem less foggy and my body seem less icky. I knew I needed to start working out. I always feel better physically and mentally when I do.  And since I was getting things right with God spiritually, I needed to get things right with Him physically. He doesn't ask us to become bodybuilders, but our bodies ARE temples.  We ARE responsible for their health and well being.  No matter what the circumstance.  So I got the baby to sleep (and prayed God would help her rest long enough for me to get a weight work out in) and took my phone and baby monitor to the basement with my next two youngest.  I not only got a weight work out in (which was tough.  If you work out, you know what I’m talking about.  My muscles cursed me that day….and have only eased up the cursing on day 5 today….)but I even walked a cool down mile walk on the treadmill!  I thought I would watch something on Formed.org.  I absolutely highly recommend Formed.org.  If you don’t have it, or your parish doesn't, go talk to your parish administrator, or priest.  It’s chocked full of Catholic content that ranges from kid friendly cartoons, to in depth Lectio bible studies.  
I decided on the Formed pick of the week, the video series featuring Fr. Michael Gaitley as he presented “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.”

That was the beginning of the end for me.  I was sucked in, hook, line, and sinker.  I watched each video with mouth open, jaw dropping amazement.  The history, the miracles, the connection between saints and countries and our faith, BLEW ME AWAY.

I only had time to watch a few of the ten, but it was enough to tell me that there was something CRAZY to this Divine Mercy business and what it was that God wanted me to do with it, was still unknown.  I really am not sure what He wants me to do as of right now, but something is going on. 
















To make the story even crazier- these Divine Mercy stories also involve Fatima and the Blessed Mother, whom I feel I have a really good relationship with.  I have a crazy scapular story that happened to me 20 years ago, so for the last two decades or so, I’ve had Momma Mary to turn to during times of needing a motherly love or advice.  Well, we had our priest friend over for dinner and he brought a gift that his mom gave to him to deliver to me.  It was the Magnificat book on the Virgin Mary. Now, to understand why this was so crazy, I had just watched the Fatima connection to the Divine Mercy that day.  I had just thought about the Consecration to Jesus through Mary book, 33 Days to Morning Glory and thought to myself, I should consecrate myself again.  It gets crazier.  I promise.
So I had this book.  It wasn’t the book, it was the fact it was Mary.  I was getting goosebumps.  What on EARTH could God be calling me to?
I watched the rest of the videos that week and basically finished them by the middle of the week.  Fr. Michael Gaitley ends it with a plea to consecrate yourself, or re-consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary.  I thought I had the book by St. Louis de Montfort that he spoke of, so I went on a rampage through my house.  I just KNEW I had the book.  Matter of fact, I had two of them.  True Devotion to Mary (the one I currently could not find) and Secrets of the Rosary.


Image result for consecration to jesus through mary st louis de montfort


I found the rosary book, but the one pictured above, True Devotion to Mary, is MIA.  I’m sure I gave it to someone.  I am always loaning and giving my books away.  But I did find another gem of a book AND I found my copy of the Diary of St. Faustina.  The other book I found was one someone gave me years ago that I tucked away for a later read. 


Image result for total consecration of the family to Jesus through Mary


This book looks amazing and I can’t WAIT to do this with my family.  Now, of course, my family isn’t exactly singing joy over this.  But that’s a blog for another day.  When I explain just because I have 8 kids and an amazing husband, does not mean they sit and watch and soak up all the faith-based material I present to them.  Hardly ever….
Below is the book I have that I originally used for my consecration to Jesus through Mary! By Fr. Michael Gaitley (who is presenting the Divine Mercy videos on Formed!)


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So, I had these three books and I decided I would re-consecrate myself.  Unfortunately, I missed the start by a day.  Isn’t it crazy how crazy we make ourselves when we think we’ve missed something?  I was devastated!  How silly of me of course, because I once remember listening to Johnette Benkovic on her Women of Grace radio show that if you miss a day of a novena, to never let that stop you from doing a Novena.  So I knew in my heart it was ok to catch up one day, but I still fell into a puddle.  I texted my friend who immediately replied, JUST START TODAY!!  So I did.

Now, I’m pretty much caught up to today.  I have no idea where God is leading me with this.  We’ve switched parishes, we are doing a new religious ed program with this parish, I am trying to do less and listen more to God and what He wants….I’m excited, tho.  I’m exhausted, and I feel that the devil will definitely use my baby and her insastiable appetite to just nurse exclusively 24 hours a day to bring me down, so I must keep focused.  And when the shadow of doubt starts creeping into my heart, I have to remind myself of this extraordinary experience I had with Divine Mercy.  I have to understand that I am called to do something.  Maybe it’s with my own kids.  Maybe it’s with my new parish.  Maybe it’s with the women’s conference.  I have no idea.  But for now, I’ll just sit back, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and wait for His next move….



Saturday, July 15, 2017

When it becomes too much.........


   





I have five weeks left with this pregnancy.  This pregnancy that will produce my 8th living child (God willing) and also God willing,not be the shocking, please don't let me die baby Jesus, birth experience I had 2 1/2 years ago!  I had a great delivery with baby #7, but a few hours later, found myself going through something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy!  There are some things, just not worth reliving- that is numero uno on my list.  Bleeding to death.
So to say I've been struggling with anxiety is probably the understatement of the year.  Decade. Heck, Century....
I'm gonna be brutally honest- I have probably been the numero uno WORST patient for my OBGYN...between the last four babies having some kind of CRAZY bleeding during the first/second trimester, to my near death experience after baby #7, I am almost 99.999999% certain, there are little red dots or stars, or actual skull and cross bones on my chart.....


Image result for skull and bones
Pink, because, well, it's cute.


This might be extreme, but let's face it.  We all have things we struggle with.  As women, moms, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbors, classmates, friends, you name it.  We women struggle with things that God probably doesn't want us struggling with at all.  I have shared about my struggles before.  My insecurities.  My inability to stop worrying about what others think....
I am the one who wouldn't walk in to pick up one of my kids when my belly started to expand because I didn't want certain people to see I was expecting again........
How horrible is that?  Am I not even proud of the fact that I am indeed pregnant with another blessing, another soul for Heaven?  Am I that insecure with my own life that I don't want to hear the exasperated GASP of, 'what is THIS?'  Another baby?????  I mean, I get it.  Today's world does not shy away from posting/writing/tweeting/instagramblabblering/spewing it's own opinion of how stupid people are for even considering children, let alone LOTS OF THEM......
Take this for instance.....true story......


Who writes stuff like this, and better yet?  Who lets their friend actually speak like this in public?

I have several friends who are either pretty close to 11 children, or far surpass them.  Heck, I actually have 12 babies if we want to be technical, and I will rejoice when I get to meet my four who have died in utero before I ever got to 'meet' them.  So I get it.  Society, social media, people everywhere, are just spewing their opinions everywhere.  And sadly, many of us, are reading what they're spewing and taking it personally.  Which is WRONG.....

We struggle with maintaining sanity in a world that wants to remind us if we don't have Martha Stewart's house designs, home made organic meals/snacks/food for our kids/husbands/family, we are horrible.  If we don't do breast feed, use cloth diapers, vaccinate/not vaccinate, make our own baby food, clean with cleaning supplies made from the grass in our backyard, we are failures.  I could go on....

There seems to be a new movement I've noticed on the Instagram account I run for our Catholic Women's conference that is women showing all the books they're reading, rooms they're 'redoing,' meal planning they're engaging in, all these amazing things we can be doing and I have to admit, it makes me get the willies. Some days, if I let it, I can let myself get sucked into this, clicking from account to account following these amazing people, all the while, feeling my heart rate increase, sweat bubbles pop up across my forehead, and blood pressure slowly rise.  I can completely see how we women can fall into a trap of thinking because we are NOT doing these things, we are failures, or at least, not living up to our potential.  

Social media can really be quite the unhealthy, unkind place to find ourselves sucked into.  Once, I had a woman actually unfriend me.  Not only unfriend me, but block me from every social media site she had and the funny thing was, all I remember about why she was mad at me?  I couldn't get together with her because of all my kids activities kept me planted at home and at their disposal because they didn't drive.  And do you want to know what's even crazier than this?  I actually still let it bother me all.the.time because I'm not a bad person. I want to somehow prove to this person who clearly isn't healthy for me, that I'm not.that.person......I'm nice.  I promise..... Who does that???

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I PROMISE!!!


Tell me we aren't oversensitive and looking for people to affirm us!!!!!  

With all these insecurities, and the hormonal drama in my brain (which as we know is a place we shouldn't dwell in alone....) I knew I needed to do something pretty radical and for once in a very long time, for myself. 

So I decided getting together with other women and either doing a bible study or a book study was essential.  

Imagine my surprise when not one of these, but BOTH of these opportunities landed in my lap-or what's left of my lap.  One of my partners with the Catholic Women of Buffalo Catholic Women of Buffalo, Inc., asked me if I was still interested in a bible study of some sort.  So we got in touch with our other partner in crime who works for Augustine Institute and she suggested we do the bible study, Lectio: Peter.  It was a GOD SEND!!  Truly.  We've only met twice and I've learned more about Peter and the bible and God's plan in those two meetings than I've known my whole 20 years of reversion back to the faith.  It's been exhilarating!!!  If your parish doesn't have Formed you need to get them on it.  It's the best money your parish could spend.  So much information right at our fingertips.  It's almost ridiculous.

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Some AMAZING content on this website!!!!! www.formed.org

The second opportunity was kind of crazy.  I saw that one of our speakers from our first conference was putting on a study with one of her awesome books that I had read when it first came out several years ago.  I figured a million women would put in to get into this study through Ascension Press, so I didn't really count on getting in it.  Imagine my surprise when I checked my email after a few days and there was a message from a rep from Ascension Press inviting me to participate and to let them know ASAP if I was going to in order to fill my spot should I not accept it.  Here is the link to that site where they, too, offer amazing information.  Books to order, studies to participate in, you name it.  Ascension Press
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I've ordered a ton of books from here.... :)

So now, every Wednesday in July (which is PERFECT considering I'm due mid-August) I get to "chat" on google chat with several women, including one of my true Catholic heroines, Danielle Bean!  Her book, Momnipotent, is one of my absolute favorites because as I've told her before, I feel like she has literally taken my life and put down on paper.  I laugh, I cry, I shake my head in solidarity at pretty much everything she wrote!!!  There is a journal and videos that we write in and watch before we meet on Wednesdays, and they too, have proven fruitful for me to see just how my insecurities interfere with God's perfect plan for me.  It's been a true blessing for this weary old brain of mine......

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Danielle Bean's book....a treasure...

To be honest, I really believe, that the sense of community, is something we all need.  All of us.  Not just women, but humans in general.  I think most especially women.  I am not very close literally/figuratively to my family, so getting together with them, or even sharing with them, is not something that happens often, or ever.  But finding that community, to feel a sense of belonging, is important regardless of our family dynamics.  I have some of the most amazing women in my life and sometimes I take them for granted.  I have found since getting together with them this summer, that I am feeling better.  I know it's only been twice with each group, but it has been enough to know I'm not letting it fall to the wayside again.  It's healthy to be with other people and it makes us better women for it.  Listening to someone else's perspective on current events, life, children, friends, family, bible studies, is just what we need!  It grounds us.  I find I'm a better wife to my husband after talking about things that I tend to keep bottled up because I don't want to burden him with my silly issues.  I think it gives me a great sense of how really great my own kiddos are compared to the rest of the world. It affirms us. Gives us perspective.  Lessons burdens.  Lightens loads, and most importantly?  Fills that part of our tanks that need filling. God didn't make us to be alone.  He showed us that from the beginning of creation.  First He gave us beauty all around us.  Then he gave us amazing creatures.  And lastly, He gave us each other!  

So as I said, I have five more weeks of potentially being pregnant.  Hopefully with these new adventures I'm participating in, my anxieties that at times tend to overwhelm me, will somewhat calm down.  Hopefully, I can reconnect with my prayer life when those moments surround and overwhelm my brain.  My prayer is that after these two events end, I'll still be working to find more things to get involved in.  Being at home is a wonderful thing, I love being with my family tremendously, but I also know, to be a good wife, mother, friend, neighbor, sister, daughter, I need to take care of me, too.  We all do.  We owe it to the people in our lives.  



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HAHA...
So next time you find yourself sitting outside your shoe, feeling overwhelmed, as if you'll never make it through another hour let alone day, with all your kids that are a BLESSING, not a horrible thing, remember, there are other women out there feeling the same- go find them and start something huge!