Monday, January 30, 2017

Facing Our Fears, and Losing Our Bias

Tap tap tap. Huh. It seems I AM still here! 

There has been a lot of static and radio silence from my corner since the election because . . . well, good gravy! No matter what I write, I get bombarded from both ends of the spectrum. The left who can't give up the ghost of the "perfect" administration . . . the right who are blinded by this not being "that" administration. Oh, and "pro-life*."

I am, of course, speaking in generalities. In real life, as Mary would say, most people are not lunatics. Oh wait, she says most people are awesome. The lunatic part is all me. In all seriousness, I think if we were to sit down over a coffee or other strong beverage, you would find that we as a whole have more in common than that which separates us. In person, we could all admit that none of us have the answers, and maybe looking me in the eyes would keep you from spewing every liberal/conservative talking point under the sun, moon, and stars. 

Online, though? It's one big cluster of emotion and links to click. It is insanely overwhelming, and mama ain't got time or brain power for that. She has a teething baby who doesn't like to sleep on his own. The trouble with avoiding it completely, though, is that the loudest of the loudmouths continue to be heard. Of course I am guilty of the reactionary post and the linking of links. (See above reference to sleeplessness!) For this and all other sins against faith and reason I am truly sorry. Not only will I attempt to avoid what leads me to such sin, but I will now fight against it as well.

Facebook, oh ye temptress of rash judgement and emotional responses. Oh how you prey on the defenseless. Wait. What? I have control over that? Right. My bad. I do. And so do you. The truth is that media such as Facebook only provide a vehicle for our lazy thought and faux action. As with any vehicle, though, we can reroute the course and begin to shape a new narrative. 

There are serious issues facing our nation (and world) - some which are new given the tone of this administration, but most that are ongoing and will require complex solutions that do not play favorites to either side of the spectrum. I am tired of giving in to lazy thought and reactionary posts on my part. I want to feel truly informed again. I want to dive into what is actually being said and done (which is concerning enough), and prayerfully provide a forum for a discussion that re-humanizes the issues we face. Issues do not exist in theoretical isolation after all. They involve flesh and blood, real people with real stories. I want us to focus on these stories, the people, as we hash out the possible solutions (yes, solutions) to the quandaries of our time. I want this space to become a place where the bickering stops and the meaty conversations begin. I want us to leave our fears and biases at the door (and the foot of the cross), and come together to have the tough conversations, to learn, to seek and dream of answers that affirm life and joy, security and dignity. 

I will be the first to admit that I am tired and my resources of time and brain power are currently limited. There are others among you though, who work day in and day out with the populations that we are currently "discussing" and I beg you for your input. Whether it is regarding immigration, refugee care, health care, Planned Parenthood (for instance, someone just recently brought to my attention that there are some rural areas where other care is not readily accessible or known - how can we fix that?), abortion, sexuality, education, unemployment, government assistance, religious freedom, veteran affairs or [insert your own concern here], please - tell me your stories, inform me of the real realities. 

Just promise me this? Let's not pit one population against another. Let's work together to lift up all those in need and not make them fight for their sliver of care. For instance, let's not fall prey to the idea that harboring persecuted refugees is in competition with providing better care for our veterans. They are both noble and right. Can we be brave enough to look at how we might make some sacrifices to provide for both? 

If you are up for this kind of conversation and are willing to help me stay honest about staying informed of facts over frenzy, come! Please, come! Pull up a chair, grab a drink, and let's get started. There is much work to be done. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, "let us begin again." And again. And again. And again. Let us keep beginning until we get it right.


*I am in no way belittling those who are pro-life, since I'm not into self-flagellation and all that. I know the majority of these warriors are good, giving people who defend the lives of all - the unborn, the migrant, the unlovable . . . ALL. However, I use quotation marks because I am not convinced that in the political arena the term is an honest one.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Love & Mercy in a Season of Enmity

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
to give His people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
 ~ Canticle of Zechariah ~

God is rich in mercy, because of the great love He has for us. Ephesians 2:4

For our Mary's Mantle staff retreat yesterday, we began with a walk through the Holy Doors of Mercy pilgrimage at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. It seems that theme of mercy would follow me into my morning prayer as I sat with the Magnificat in what may be the only quiet moments of my day. 

I am not always good about praying the morning prayer, but the rhythm and prayers are familiar to me. They risk becoming too familiar, as my tongue rolls over the words to move on to the next prayer. This morning, as I sipped on coffee that had not yet become lukewarm, I forced myself to stop and truly pray the words of the prayers, to let them seep into my heart, to simply be with them for a moment.

These words from the Canticle of Zechariah struck my heart in a new and profound way. Perhaps it is a result of the grace from entering through the Holy Doors yesterday, or perhaps there really is magic found in a cup of coffee that is still hot. The Holy Spirit pierced my heart with this thought - we prepare hearts for Jesus by giving people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. We prepare people to receive Jesus when He comes to them by sharing with them the freedom of God's mercy, which flows from His great love. 

Cue the current state of world affairs and the temptation to shout down the devil. It seems we have forgotten what Pope Francis wishes to remind us in this Year of Mercy. No one - not one human being - is outside the scope of God's mercy. It is available to each and every one of us. Our job, as prophets of the Most High, is to lead people into that great love and mercy. 

I am so saddened by the tone of discourse that has shaped this current political season. So many people I know, love, and esteem - people who have been agents of God's mercy and love in my own life - have fallen prey to demonizing others. It is no secret, I hope, that I find both leading party candidates unsuitable for office. They are, however, created in the image and likeness of God. They are not the devil, no matter how much they are behaving as his stooge. No matter how far away from the divine image they now appear, it is my job to be an emissary of Christ and bring them to his merciful love. 

Certainly, there must be repentance and a choice to walk through the door, and that burden lies on them alone. We must, however, as Christian disciples, not lose sight of the fact that our burden is to remind them of their dignity when they have clearly forgotten. Our burden is not to resort to the calling of names no matter the sins of others. They will have to answer for their sins, and we for ours. 

In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that when another person behaves in a reprehensible fashion, when what they stand for goes against the heart of God, it is then that we are called to love even more courageously. It is then that we are called to remind them that they are made for greater things. It is precisely those who stand for what we deplore who most need our love and mercy. 

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36

There are only a few days left until the election. As much as I want to hope the tension will abate after the polls close, I fear that this is only the beginning. Let's take a note from St. Luke on this his feast day and remember that in these times, we are prophets of the Most High, declaring a love that defies all understanding. We cling to hope in the One who has already conquered the world. We stand firm being led by the Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are ambassadors of Christ, and to Him every life is sacred and soul is preciously worth saving . . . even the ones that seem the darkest. Let's not forget that He would leave us all behind to rescue that one. 

Now, go out there and LOVE friends, LOVE. Let's not let our love for one soul cloud our love for all souls. Jesus thirsts for them all.


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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Stop the Insanity! (AKA - How My Head Will Explode During the Election Season)

Fear not! This isn't hearkening back to the infomercials of the 80s. I won't try to sell you a product that will change your life. On the contrary, I am tired of being sold the same bill of goods. STOP IT!

I have refrained in large part from writing about the big black hole that is the 2016 Presidential Election. It seems like there is so much already written, and quite frankly I want this to be a peaceful, happy - albeit sometimes challenging in a good way - space. That golden silence is being broken. The insanity has broken me, and I don't mean the three ring circus that is the campaign of the two major parties. Instead, I am talking about this insane and inaccurate drivel that is becoming more and more prominent the closer we get to election day. This, my friends, is what is driving me past my limit: we do NOT only have two candidates to choose from, and we are NOT bound to vote for one of the major party candidates. Ever. 

Yes, our system of governance and politics has long favored a two-party system and makes it difficult for other parties to gain a following or a voice. However, the next person who tells me a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Trump or Clinton (depending on who they don't want to see in office) is in grave danger of ending up witnessing a meltdown of epic proportions. Epic. This will be preferable to the giant goose egg I'd like to see on their heads instead.

You see, this, THIS line of thinking, combined with an ever growing apathy that comes from being comfortable, is what has landed us where we are today. Let me be clear to those of you who might still toy with the idea of approaching me with the "a vote for a 'third' party is a vote for Clinton/Trump" - unless I am casting my ballot for either of those two, I am in no way voting for them. The result of my vote may mean that one of them ends up in office, however that does not somehow change the vote I cast. 

Let me beg you to further consider this. If enough of us stopped thinking that way and cast our votes for those we truly want to see in office instead of letting fear decide our vote, maybe we wouldn't be in the cluster of a situation we are in now. If enough of us stopped buying this lie, perhaps we could effectively shift the parties or create new ones as has been the case in centuries past. If enough of us pushed back the loudmouths telling us these are our only choices, maybe the insanity could be pushed to the periphery while civilized discourse regained prominence. All it takes for a revolution to begin is a small group of convicted people to stay true to those convictions and gather steam. To quote Margaret Mead, even though it's highly overused, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Well, that and Jesus.

For anyone who is still confused: I will not be voting for Clinton or Trump. I am not yet decided how I shall vote. However, I guarantee you that I will not be led by fear as fear is not of God. There are many novenas and other prayers that are being organized for this election, and I offer you one more act of surrender before Christ. Because there is NOTHING sweet about this election year, I invite you to join me in a sugar fast from now until election day. Nowhere will I miss this more than in my morning dose of that sweet nectar of goodness: coffee. Black coffee will once again be my friend, and I am okay with that. 

As a parting gift, I will also leave you with a link to this candidate that I discovered this morning thanks to Jenna. Let no one tell you that we have no other choice that to vote for one of two people who are so contrary to all we believe. Do not buy into the promises of the night that are forgotten in the power of daylight. For my Catholic voting friends - please please understand that neither of these two candidates is pro-life. Not truly. While you may not be convinced, please take a moment to look at Evan McMullin. If nothing else, let yourself be informed of ALL the choices that are present, not just the loudest two. As his campaign says, "it is never too late to do the right thing." 

Now, above all else, go out there and love one another. In the name of Jesus, love one another in kindness and humility...and ask yourself if those you are voting for will too...


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Friday, September 30, 2016

SQT: The One About Kids, Moms, Creatives, & Books

I may or may not be sitting in the car after coming home from school drop-off because both boys fell asleep on the ride home. Also, I have my coffee and Matt Maher serenading this moment of serenity. I'm not about to mess with that. 

Speaking of school drop off, today is G's field trip to the apple orchard. To say she is excited would be an understatement. I am so grateful we are at a school with a uniform - it makes for one less battle in the morning. Today, though, was a dress down day. Apple orchard and mud and all that jazz. I have to say, there was something in the sight of her walking away from me toward school in her jeans, long t shirt peeking out under the sweatshirt, rain boots, and pigtails with her backpack slung on her back that made my heart stand still. Time with her is short... I know I cringe when people tell me this, but though the days are definitely long (some more than others), the years are just as definitely short.

Now that some of the craziness of our life over the last year has begun to calm, the only big thing still staring me in the face is cleaning out and selling my mom's home. It seems such an overwhelming task, and it makes me face reality in a way I don't always want to. More on that here.

The littlest McCormick is growing quickly. He is four months old already! I have nursed him eons longer than my other two, and he has come to expect it if I am the one feeding him. He has perfected his "how dare you try to stick that contraption in my mouth when I want to nurse" head shake and scream. I wasn't sure whether we would be able to keep going as it did not work out as planned with the other two, but so far we are hanging in there. Once I let go of what I thought we needed to do and just went with what we can do, it got a lot easier. There was definitely the pushing through around month one, but since then we have developed a nice balance of bottle feeding and nursing as I've gone back to work.

Speaking of growing, he is also rolling and just as chatty as his siblings. This does not fare well for two introverted parents. So. Much. Noise. It is all a blessing, but that blessing can sometimes be overly boisterous. See example here:

I heart him. Tremendously. And now he is up, so I'll be back later!

I've been busy since coming back from maternity leave creating new products and stocking the shop. If you haven't stopped by recently, come take a look! There are more items that will be added this weekend too. Since the Hubs left his evening job, I've been trying to be more intentional about creating and trying to grow the business a little. It is sometimes overwhelming to think of all the little details that are probably getting lost, but it has been a wonderful outlet for me. I've been taking some short workshops to work on improving my skills and learning some newer ones, too. I love that this is becoming a way to "untighten" our finances a bit and feed my soul at the same time. The greatest hope is that in the end it feeds others souls too all for the glory of God, of course.

My stack of books is growing quickly as I try to get back on the reading train. What with the oodles of uninterrupted time I have you'd think I would have this stack whittled down in no time! Sadly, I've barely been able to get into Hallie's book (On the Other Side of Fear), and I have numerous others piling up as they arrive in the mail courtesy of the Amazon App on my phone. I think our budget would take less of a hit if we deleted that app on our phones. Seriously. I'm always looking for some good new reads though, especially fiction. I'm terrible at making a commitment to fiction. Maybe I should get my ID address updated already so I can get a library card and just flirt with some novels. What are you reading that you love? 

I'm wrapping up the takes for now. The napping baby has woken many-a-time since I started writing this morning. Having a four year old brother makes napping hard. 

Check out all the Quick Takes over at Kelly's corner of the virtual world!

Until later, love 'em like Jesus!


PS - I'll add a few more photos when I get a moment, but until then check out the 'Gram! @thepitterpatterdiaries and @rakstardesigns. Come be Instafriends - it's where I hang. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When You Grieve the Living

It's been awhile since I've updated anyone on my mom. She remains basically in the same condition. There was some hope that she would regain some memory as she continued to recover after her stroke. Unfortunately, there has been little change. As I like to say: crazy as a bat, happy as a clam!

I mean no disrespect. In all that has happened, the saving grace is that she is usually quite content and happy with her present circumstance. Sure, Bill Clinton still visits a lot . . . and may be my new daddy . . . but she's usually smiling and has a rich life she has filled in where her memory fails her.

With as busy as the year has been, I have been rolling with it. It is what it is. I cannot change what has happened, so there really is no good that comes from dwelling on what isn't. Except that what isn't here anymore hits you in the face every time we see what is. It is new mom versus the memory of old mom. Those memories are still hard, especially when I still have sell her house and go through all the things she has collected over the decades of her life. 

Life isn't business as usual. You can't simply sweep someone under the rug. There is a process to the grief that comes from losing someone even while they are still living. She is still my mom, but she is not the mom I have known and loved for forty years of my life. In order to truly give honor to the woman she has become, it is necessary for me to grieve who she was. Mom, my mom, is gone. The one who sewed my clothes, who fed the masses, who waited up for me during my college years and talked into the wee hours of the morning - that mom no longer exists. I cannot say for certain if those memories still remain with "new mom." Threads of her certainly do. She still has a feisty spirit - some things just do not change!

As I avoid cleaning out her house, sifting through the memories of days long past, I find that grieving her as I knew her is inevitable. It is not only unavoidable, but it is necessary. I miss the mom who would stay up late with me when I came home from college. I miss the mom who would gladly go hunting for a good bargain. I miss the mom who could whip up some comfort food when I was sick or just a little blue. 

In some ways, her widow's grief stole her from me years ago. Now that loss just seems more final and irreversible. There was always hope of healing and restoration of her spirit when depression stole her spunk and laughter. The damage from the stroke seems to have left its permanent mark, though. This is the first year she didn't call me on my birthday. Part of her remembered somewhere deep down that it was someone's birthday, but she couldn't remember. 

Josiah is the first grandchild she hasn't finished a blanket for, though God in his infinite mercy lit a fire under her tush to begin it early enough that I found it mostly done when she was in the hospital. Yet, when she holds him there is momentary joy, but she will never truly know him as she does the other two. There is a grief that goes with that. 

It seems wrong on the surface to say we grieve someone who is very much alive, especially in the Church. It could seem as though we are not upholding the value of her life as she struggles through the path dementia has set out for her. That just isn't the case though. It is entirely possible to love and value someone, while grieving what you knew. 

I remember when I was pregnant with Gianna, there were some soft markers for Downs Syndrome found during our 20 week ultrasound. Like a good crazy pregnant woman, I went online. While I learned that those soft markers were actually not markers for Asian women (hello?), I also came across a blog post from a mom of a special needs child. She gave me the freedom to grieve the child I expected. In fact, and this was what was revolutionary to me, she shared that it helped her to love the child she had more to be able to fully grieve and let go of the one she thought she would have. 

I recently read Kimberly Williams Paisley's new book, Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again. She shares her journey with her mom who is suffering from a rare form of aggressive dementia. In her story, I could relate to that feeling of not knowing my mother anymore, of being reluctant to visit because she just wasn't my mom. In the great words of C.S. Lewis, I found myself saying, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."

Friends, especially Church friends - the struggles in life can't always be tied up with a nice and neat theological bow. While we know that every life has dignity and is worth living, that dementia doesn't steal someone's importance, or a special needs diagnosis doesn't invalidate someone's worth, as those who love and live these stories, sometimes we need to cry. We need to grieve what we knew, what we expected, what we longed for to make room for the beauty God is creating in the suffering He leads us through. 

Sometimes, it just sucks, even if it will be okay in the end. Sometimes we just need someone to cry out to God with us - to scream our WHY? - without it meaning that we have lost sight of His goodness. Sometimes we need you to remind us of His goodness when the darkness threatens to overpower us. We know it cannot, but sometimes the emotion of the moment can choke out the memory of the promise of God's eternal goodness. He is always good, but life is not always fair. And sometimes - just sometimes even when you are well beyond your youth and adolescence - you need to throw a temper tantrum and declare that the cards you are dealt stink. It doesn't make God any less good or God, and it doesn't make the one we are grieving, even though they may still be living, any less beautiful or worthy. It simply makes us human and makes greater room for them in our hearts.

Until next time, be gentle with one another and love each other like Jesus. <3 p="">


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

{From Holy Cow to Holy Spirit} Shedding Expectations

It has been a long while since I've wandered down memory lane to talk about my conversion from growing up Hindu to living in the heart of Christ and His Church. Last we left off, I was entering my teenage years and had just invited Christ to be in my life, albeit without any magical transformation. I would leave for college in a few years not thinking about that moment again until many years later. 

Before I continue along with the tales of my journey, I feel compelled to stop for a moment and share with you what I learned about my story over the last year. After attending the Edel Gathering, I felt a strong tug on my heart to begin speaking more about my conversion. I felt certain that God was going to use me to reach others, as He does with all of us. Shortly after, I was invited to speak on a radio show about my conversion, my husband convinced me to reach out about writing a book, and I was invited to speak about my conversion at a couple of Theology on Tap events. 

I sometimes feel very close to St. Peter in that I seem to get things wrong the first time around. In my excitement to share the story of how Jesus called me into His arms, I forgot to consider that others would be looking for a story different to the one I lived. While it is true that I converted from Hinduism, I am by no means an expert on the matter. I was, like many teenagers, not a scholar of my previous faith. More truthfully, I was floundering about, desperately seeking a sense of belonging, of home, of love. 

Sadly, I'm afraid I disappointed those I spoke with in the eagerness to share my story. I had no grand rejections of Hindu principles. My identity had not been formed as a "traditional Indian" - my parents as I mentioned before were quite well assimilated into "American" culture. There was more of a gradual falling into the heart of Christ. I cannot speak to the details of Hindu worship or tenets of the faith in contrast to what I find in Catholicism beyond a surface exploration. 

My previous self would say "I'm sorry," but the truth is that I am not. I am sorry to disappoint people looking for a different narrative, but I know with certainty that God is asking me to speak. I still hear that whisper to share how I came to know and love Jesus, how I came find my place in His Church. I hear God tell me that there are so many lonely, lost, and floundering souls out there in search of Him. If that loses some of my audience waiting for that St. Paul moment of enlightenment, I apologize. My hope is that by shedding the expectation of others in telling my tale, I will make more space for Jesus Himself to captivate hearts and imaginations, to help other souls find rest. 

So next time, I'll pick up where I left off in my teenage years. Be not afraid!

Thank you for joining me along the way... Now let's get out there and love those other lost, searching, hapless souls like Jesus!


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Wounds Need Fixing, Call on the Moms!

I am getting back into the groove of writing and am over at this week talking about the untapped power of motherhood. It seems like the world has gone crazy. I'm wondering where all the moms are and what would happen if we all joined forces to conquer the chaos.

Come join in the discussion!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

SQT: The One On Radio Silence and Blank Space

It has been a supremely long time since I have linked up with Kelly for le quick takes, and through the week I had splendid thoughts on how to recap the long absence. This morning, however, amid the haze of exhaustion and anticipation of the caffeine jump start, those thoughts are elusively wandering about my neural pathways. Instead of some meaningful insights on my time away from the blog, I'm afraid this may turn into more of a "what I did on my summer vacation" back-to-school essay. Lo siento.

Here we go, about to break the radio silence and color on up this blank space! Here's what I did on my "summer vacation" . . .


I had me a baby! He is the sweetest, and we are in love.


We moved! Not only did we move, we moved four days before we had that little bundle of love above.


As happens when you move . . . ok, when I move . . . we've begun some projects to make this house our home. First order of business was brightening up the front doors!


We've been working on some projects inside the house too. Ok, I've been working on some projects inside the house because it's what I do.

We created an accent wall in our great room that will be our icon/religious art wall. I made a wooden background for it so we don't have a thousand holes in the wall, and we have somewhere to hang some rosaries.

Our kitchen is a bit "retro" (read: needs updating, but we are going with retro). I found these barstools for $5/piece. They were rusted out, but I was able to shine them up with a little elbow grease and now we have a little breakfast bar in the kitchen. The seats still need to be redone, but it's not quite as urgent as the rusted out legs, so maybe by Christmas we will have them done. Maybe.


We actually threw a party already. Did I mention we are slightly south of sane? The boys had a party - a fourth birthday and a baby baptism. It was so nice to be able to have the space to have people over instead of trying to figure out where we were going to go, and then having to lug everyone (and everything) home afterward.

Since there was a lot of upheaval all at once, the kids were not sleeping well in their new rooms. Partly, it is because the older sister told the little brother his room was scary. To our credit, we did not actually sell her to the gypsies.

Initially we had planned on having the boys in one room, but halfway through summer after talking to a handful of friends and thinking through all our options, we switched the kids' rooms around. For now, the two older ones share a room, and the baby has his own nursery (which is still a work in progress). I've been tinkering around getting their rooms put together before school starts, and I think we are finally in a good spot.

Part of the switch included superhero clocks. We had found Gia a vintage Wonder Woman clock this spring, and her brother was quite sad that he didn't have one too. I ended up making him one with a wall plaque I found at Meijer. When "vintage" clocks don't come to you, you make them happen.

With all that has been going on this summer, we have also been exploring our new neighborhood. It's nice to actually live in a neighborhood and not on a busy street. While I miss the quaint neighborhoods of where we used to live, this new area holds its own advantages: a splash pad and library we can walk to eventually! We've also gotten to know some of our neighbors and are looking forward to raising our families together.

The one thing I have not done this summer is begin to clean out mom's house. It is still a little too much for me, so that will be a story and a task for another day.

How was your summer, friends?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Revolution of Kindness

I am finally back at my keyboard after a long hiatus and maternity leave. Truth be told, I have tried to begin writing again several times. There is certainly fodder everywhere we look, especially with this election cycle and events throughout the world. Every time I would think about it, though, I was drained. Drained, because what could I possibly say that would add anything to the already electrified and volatile conversations permeating cyberspace. It is mostly cyberspace, after all. People are less daring in real life, though that boundary is beginning to fade this year as well. What could I possibly have to say that would be worth putting down my baby and engaging in that world?

As I was leaving the grocery store last weekend, a thought came across my mind that finally warmed up these old fingertips to click away. All this venom we see in this election cycle, the unrest in the world, it isn’t causing us to become less caring, more brash. No. Rather, it is because we have begun to expect apathy and cruelty that this behavior is becoming more evident in what was before “polite” society.

A little aside: I was checking out with my groceries, and the man bagging my items had a developmental disability. The other cashiers were laughing with him and engaging him in “normal” conversation. My first thought was how refreshing it was to see that kind of kindness. As I walked out, I became a little angry with myself though. Why should that be “refreshing” at all? Isn’t that what I would expect as a normal behavior? Is it really anything so extraordinary?

Certainly we should show and express gratitude for people’s kindness and generosity, because that is the right thing to do. It seems, though, if you are like me, that we’ve begun to show surprising gratitude because we find it to be a novelty rather than the norm. I see it throughout my social media feeds – articles highlighting and praising those who are kind to people with disabilities, to refugees, to immigrants, to the abused, to the marginalized. They are absolutely to be celebrated, but I can’t help but think the reason we are so enamored with these stories is that we are being fed discontent and malice on a regular basis. Our souls rejoice with stories of kindness because we are inundated with images and a narrative that suggests that the opposite is the nature of the world.

This is not the world I want my children to know. I want them to expect kindness and see cruelty as the aberration. Sadly, I know that I have to prepare them to face meanness, to expect the best but be prepared for the worst. Maybe that expectation is the first step, though. Expect the best. Expect better of one another. Call each other to a higher standard of behavior, of community, of love and care. It’s not about sanitizing the world with a false nicety. Rather, maybe, just maybe, we can imbue in the hearts of our families, our children, our friends, a desire to call forth what is the best in one another so we can change the norm. That change has to start in me. I have to be kind, to expect kindness as the norm and encourage it – at home, at work, in the community, even when I am sleep deprived and hungry! Far greater than random acts of kindness, we need to start a very intentional revolution of kindness.

It isn’t going to be easy. There is a lot out there that makes me want to throw in the towel, to rage instead of love. Sarcasm is second nature to me, and I abhor saccharin sentiment. I will need help and reminders of my own convictions. I do believe that together, we can do this, and we must. 

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Friday, April 8, 2016

{SQT} The One About All the Loose Ends: Mom, Kids, Homes, Love & Money

Shhh...don't get too excited. I'm just popping in with a really quick Seven Quick Takes update. The blog is still for the most part on vacation . . . unlike me. I am definitely NOT on vacation. If someone would like to send me on vacation, I am accepting offers.

Now...where did we leave off?


On her 78th birthday...
Ahhh, yes. Mom is still in a memory care facility and will likely be there for the rest of her days unless that miraculous recovery comes her way. She has developed an affinity for Bill Clinton, who takes her to shows off-Broadway in New York and to dinner in Boston. While the NYC and Boston events are likely remnants of reality in her past, I assure you Bill Clinton is not. I've finally taught G to smile and nod instead of looking at me with the "what the heck is she talking about" look. Ok, if I'm being honest, she does both. I'm just fine with that. Jude just likes to run around. Everywhere. Always. Oblivious. Though her mind is only loosely connected to reality, mom is in great spirits most of the time - maybe she is on to something!


I did finally get my day in court to finalize all the legal rigmarole surrounding taking care of mom and her business. Now comes all the official work of documenting her care and her estate. Thank goodness we didn't live at Downton - can you IMAGINE that inventory? Then again, I could just have Carson do it. All this needs to be done by the end of May. No biggie, right? Speaking of May...


Did I mention we sold our house? And bought a new one? St. Joseph was ALL OVER this puppy. I actually finished the novena on his feast day - I finished a novena on time, y'all - and with so many of you praying for and with us, I think he was kind of tired of hearing from me. We had an offer come in on the vigil of his feast day in March and then signed the papers on his feast day. We found our house the next day, and it was not one we chose to look at, but a "filler" that our realtor had thrown in the mix to look at between showings on other houses. Close date is looking to be around...yup, May 1, yet another homage to St. Joe. While he has this all wrapped up neat and tidy (or will have Mary help him with the trimmings), guess when we are likely moving? Mid-May. Mid-May, y'all. Guess what else is in mid-May?


Jojo is coming on May 19th, less than a week after we move into our new home. Easy peasy, right? There have been some wonky tests (all me, none him), but further testing/evaluating tells us it is nothing to worry about. Why are you laughing? I don't have time to worry! This kid is huge - as of my follow-up ultrasound at around 32 weeks, he was estimated to weight around 4.5 pounds. I deliver at 39 weeks. Chunky little smoosh-face this one. Also...I think he is going to look an awful lot like his brother. Just a guess. The kids are beyond excited to meet him, and to move. Now it's just getting all the packing done, which does NOT excite them as much (especially when their toys start disappearing).


Long story short, I am hoping that since many of our loose ends will be tying up in May, come June we will begin to be able to breathe a little easier and enjoy getting to know our new little man and settling into our new home. I may have to be reminded to let myself recover from a c-section before digging in to redecorating (which has all been done in my head already, so what's the fuss?). Seriously - all new wall colors are picked out, and new fixtures/furniture options are pinned/saved. Mama is ready. Jojo can help. You can check out the madness on my Pinterest New Home board. Madness.


That was a lot about me/us. Moving on....... If you haven't seen this on ye olde social media, now you will. Some of us kicked off a fundraiser for Mary Lenaburg and her family after an ancient $8000 hospital bill for Courtney came back at them during Holy Week. We started the #WeGiveABuck fundraiser hoping to erase that bill through a whole lot of love and small-medium donations. Y'all are rockstars - as of now we have kicked over 75% of that bill to the curb. 75%!! If you haven't had a chance to donate, please do consider it. The campaign is running through the end of April. Even $1 helps! (If you aren't familiar with Mary's story, do visit her blog. Besides getting to know her and her beloved Courtney who passed away over a year ago, you'll get to know what a faith-filled, grieving, loving, open mama's heart looks like.)


Last but not least, look for more #WeGiveABuck campaigns from The Pitter Patter Diaries and friends through the year. In talking with Mary when we were initially getting the launch of the campaign together, she acknowledged that their family had received so many blessings from their local and extended online community. She was quick to acknowledge, as we all know if we are on social media, that there were many - MANY - other families in need of love, support, and a few bucks. I already have one family in mind in my local community for May, but would love to form a small team who would help administer these campaigns (and help select the recipients). If you are interested, shoot me an email or leave me a comment. It's a shame that so many feel like they are drowning in a world that doesn't care and systems that do not show an ounce of compassion. One thing I think we are really gifted at as an online community is lifting one another up, and yes, proving that though it may seems like no one cares, we sure do. #WeGiveABuck - pun intended. Clutch those pearls if you must.

That's all from these parts for a little while. Who knows, if the packing all gets done and I catch up with my never-ending to-do list . . . erm, listS plural (mom, home, shop, life) . . . maybe I will be back before June! If not, stay in touch over on the Instagram and the Facebook. They've turned into my usual haunts while I keep swimming through these deep waters. Especially since they're easier to manage one handed when life looks a lot like this:

From earlier this morning. Now it is a boy without his pants
sprawled across my lap asleep because he is "done napping."

OH - and a very happy Easter to one and all! Now go check out what all the other peeps (non-gross marshmallowy ones) are up to over at Kelly's (and read up on some awesome parenting advice!)...


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