Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Loving Ourselves, Loving Our Neighbor

The stories surfacing from those who were slammed with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are pouring in as fast as the floodwaters. They are heartbreaking and heartwarming in the same breath. These stories give insight to the true nature of people. It's been said that true character is revealed when no one is looking, and it appears that we've got some moxie and heart, not hate and division. Praise the Lord for that! Can the animosity and stupidity be washed away with the floodwaters please?

As I've been watching all this unfold from the comfort of our couch (and let's be honest - bed - because I rarely get right to sleep), my heart has felt drawn to those tiny island nations that were decimated by Irma. Please don't misunderstand. I'm heartbroken for those who lost everything, those who are now struggling to rebuild, those who lost their loved ones, their livelihood, and their lives here stateside. It's just that those images from a completely flattened nation-state are haunting me. Who will rebuild them? Where can they go? 

While I was pondering all of this last night, I reached out to a good friend whose lifeblood is rooted in the work of mercy. I asked in that safe space this very question. Who will help them, and why aren't we saying and doing more. God is so good to surround me with people who are wiser and can hear His voice more clearly. 

She reminded me of the tremendous financial impact the two hurricanes and fires have had in our own backyard. She reminded me that though I've seen images of a whole nation that is now uninhabitable, that in areas of Texas and Florida are places equally uninhabitable. She reminded me that in those areas likely live people, who because of their status and misfortune to be stuck in the middle of a political debate, have no access to resources to rebuild either. These people will also need private help because they have no other place to go. Then she left me with this gem which I am paraphrasing. We use our resources to clean up our backyard so the people down the street can help out our neighbors. The door to give remains open for all the world. When we are suffering, we mend ourselves first. Basic emergency training. Duh, Rakhi. Duh.

Thank you, friend, for helping me remember what I already know so well. We cannot rank and compare pain and misery. It is all awful and contrary to God's ultimate desire for us. While we have more resources as a nation that the islands that are on my heart, we also have a whole population that does not have access to them. So, those of us who can, give.

Please consider making a donation if you haven't already. Please choose something local so the money goes directly to those suffering. If you have the islands on your heart as I do, today is a good day to give through Google also - they have a button when you go to their website to give through Catholic Relief Services and they're matching donations. Please pray. Please give. There is so much destruction from which to recover. 


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Friday, September 8, 2017

7 Quick Takes: On Turning 42 and Other Nonsense

DUDE. I turned 42. As Gianna is not ashamed to tell everyone, I am OLD. Seriously - remember when we thought 30 was old? I'm a carton of eggs older! Truth be told, I do feel old - the grey hairs and hip pain remind me I ain't no spring chicken these days. In spite of this, I have loved every decade even more than the last. Here are a few thoughts that have been rattling around in my head this week as I face another year checked off the calendar...

 - 1 - 

That first decade was pretty sweet, what with being a kid and all. There are days I would LOVE to be five again, learning everything new, wide eyed, sassily telling my friend he spelled his name wrong. I was privileged to be in a loving home and want for nothing that I knew of (though my mom would later share that she felt guilty that in the early years they had to make do with apartments and hand-me-downs). It was a blissful time in the late 70s and early80s. Bellbottoms were making their way out, and neon was making its way in! I loved listening to music on our turntable and cassette player. There are so many fond memories of me riding my bike and going fishing with my dad, or "cooking" with my mom. While it wasn't always perfect, and I was a bit of a misfit, memories seem to make those first years seem idyllic.

- 2 -

The second decade can pretty much bite it. That's right. I said "bite it." This isn't going to a publisher. I can say that. Those teen years can shove it. Awkwardness, nerdiness, mean girls - no thank you! There is nothing idyllic about those years for me. I was a misfit even more so than my elementary years (where I at least was mostly oblivious). Parties I didn't get invited to, boys who didn't ask me to dance (or only did as a dare and a joke), the popularity train speeding by on the express track leaving me in the dust - none of these make me want to go back. I poured myself into school and extracurricular activities, where I found my tribe for those years. The wounds of this decade still play with my heart and mind sometimes.

- 3 - 

I left that teenage decade behind as fast as I could. I dove into college at just shy of 17, so I guess I lump the end of the teens into my twenties. These were my fun years. They were my heartbreak years too, but I met some of my best friends in these years. It was the era of grunge, and we were trying to forge our own paths and redefine ourselves. I was still trying to figure out my place in the world, but I felt freer to explore and not be bound by expectations at this point. At 20, I came into the Church through the invitation of my best friend (and Jesus, of course), but at 21 I lost my father unexpectedly. So...the decade began with some pretty big moments. I got my BA, my MS, and my first professional job by the age of 23 and thought I'd run the world. Oh, those idealistic dreamers - what a pain in the patookus I must have been! Still, my twenties brought a new tribe of friends who would get me through some lonely years...and help me move into my very own house that I bought while still single. I stopped waiting for "someday."

- 4 - 

Enter the thirties. The thirties were the best. As life has it, there were plenty of ups and downs, but I was beginning to feel more sure of myself. The facades I put on began to fade little by little. Though I had come into the Church in my early 20s, I was finally just now beginning to feel like I belonged there. I learned to surrender my life more fully to God's plans. It was in my 30s that I met and married my husband, had my first two babies, and began to dream about life beyond work. As it turned out, I wasn't really enjoying the candle-burning-at-both-ends life where I was working 60 hour weeks, even if it was for the Church. The thirties brought the new era of TeamMcCormick, where we dreamed together of new directions and passions and callings.

- 5 -

Now the forties. I know the joke is that you're over the hill, but I feel like I'm still climbing it! There are still dreams to be chased and fun to be had. I mean, sure, maybe I'll need a walker or a wheelchair to get to the top, but it's hardly a downward slide. Heck, I had a third baby to celebrate 40, so life is going to keep us on our toes for a while yet. I've entered fully into a sandwich generation where I'm raising babies and caring for my mom. That stinks. I don't love that part of my 40s. It is harder than I ever thought possible and my anxiety makes it really hard to do well. I have amazing family and friends helping me out, and I know at the very least that I don't face this alone. There is a certainty of this now in my forties that in years past would have left room for doubt.

- 6 -

It's also in my 40s that I have gained enough confidence in myself to try to venture out with a small creative business. Let's be honest - God has placed more people in my ever growing tribe to make this a reality. The work has been in the background for awhile, but I feel certain that if it is to succeed, now is the time to really give it a go. I get to write alongside my husband, draw and create in my home studio, and work in parish communications - I'm kind of living the dream. If only the kids would stop waking us up all the time! ;)

I'm hoping my 40s bring with it a greater sense of confidence as a mother. I've had more practice at the other stuff, so this is kind of where I still feel like a newbie. There is always a feeling that I'm getting it wrong, but thankfully every day brings a chance for a new beginning. I'm learning to accept and give more grace, to choose mercy over punishment (slowly!), and to pick my battles and let go of my control-freak nature. Yes, of course it's okay if you wear that polka dot skirt with the striped leggings. Sure you can eat apples dipped in ketchup. (If I say these things enough maybe I will believe them!). Any tips from you seasoned pros on how to keep my cool but raise cool & kind kids are always appreciated!

- 7 -

While I am not one to celebrate my birthday with a lot of hoopla, steaks, eggplants, or Hootie and the Blowfish (bonus points if you know the reference!), there is one thing I love on my birthday - Facebook! It isn't so much watching the notifications roll in that people are wishing me a happy birthday, though that is nice I suppose. What I love is seeing the many different facets of my life shared by the people who are wishing me that happy day. From people I have known nearly my whole life, to family I've only recently reconnected with, to grad school, conferences, ministry work, mission work, and so on and so forth - I am reminded how rich a life I have led and how much God has blessed me through those He has put in my path. So, thank you Facebook for that reminder every year. 

So tell me, what's going on in your neck of the woods? How do you like the decade you're in right now?

Until later, get out there and love 'em like Jesus . . . and go visit Kelly to read more quick takes from this week!


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Monday, August 28, 2017

4 Ways to Help Texas: A Work of Mercy

Sources from top left clockwise: ABC News, NBC News, Time Magazine,
Winston-Salem Journal, The Independent UK, Fox News

Unless you live under a rock, it's certain that you have heard the news about the devastation being caused by Hurricane Harvey. While we joked about an invisible rabbit upon hearing the name, this storm is no joke. It is threatening to be a force greater than Katrina in 2005, and so many are STILL rebuilding their lives after the immense loss. 

I've been checking in with friends and family, and the reports are grim. People have lost everything. More people will lose everything. Those in the poorest area often lose the most, including their lives because they often live in areas that become inaccessible after this massive level of flooding. When emergency notices are telling you to get on the roof if your house starts to fill with water, it is beyond bad - it is a nightmare. We had a couple feet of water in our home a few years ago, and we still recoil at the thought of it. Some families are being told their houses will fill with five feet of water. Did you know Texas doesn't have basements for the most part if at all? That is 5 FEET of water in your living room. Your kitchen. Your bedroom. That's eye-level water.

So, what can you do in the face of such a threat? Oh, people of the Lord, we pray and we act. We show mercy and we love with the heart of Jesus. Here are five ways you can do a work of mercy for the people of Texas and the Gulf Coast:

1) PRAY. 

Offer up your inconveniences, your hardships, your aches and pains, and back to school nonsense for those who are losing everything including their schools. A friend mentioned that Our Lady of Prompt Succor has long been observed by locals as the patroness of the Gulf Coast. You can find out more about the devotion here. Consider joining us in a novena to Our Lady for the people affected by Harvey.


Sending money allows relief providers the most discretion and ease to utilize resources as they are needed.

There are several relief organizations already working overtime to serve those affected by Harvey. Choose one that resonates with you and make a sacrificial offering. Here are are a few to consider:

Adore Ministries - I've heard wonderful things about this organization. It is local to the Gulf Region and is coordinating volunteer efforts as well as accepting monetary donations. 

Catholic Charities (text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to donate)
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Your donation to CCUSA’s Disaster fund supports disaster response and recovery efforts including direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services. Please visit to learn more.

3) Volunteer!

If you are in Texas, agencies are looking for people to help with relief and recovery efforts. Here are just a few:

Adore Ministries: They're looking for plenty of help with current and future recovery efforts.

-we need volunteers with trucks/vans and time to help families relocate to new homes, cities, or even states.

-we need help finding temporary places for families to stay, and then moving people to there

-we need physical labor to help clean up houses and neighborhoods

Salvation Army Volunteers to hand out food at local shelters

Team Rubicon USA (Veteran-led disaster response teams)

4) Give blood. 

Whatever you do, you do in the name of Jesus. Go out and love the people of the Gulf like Jesus now and in the years to come. Recovery has yet to begin...

Blessings, y'all...

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Back in the Saddle Again - Tales of Summer Lovin'

Tap, tap, anyone still out there? I'm popping in for a little update and joining up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes. Hold on . . . here we go!

1) It's been a while since I've sat at this keyboard to muse on much. Between chasing after three children, still settling into a new house, and trying to grow a business while still working part time, quiet time where I'm coherent is hard to come by. Instead, you'll find me hanging out over Instagram doing a little microblogging. That's a thing, right? Between my @thepitterpatterdiaries account, and the one for my design business (@rakstardesigns), I've been sharing a bit about what's been going on. The truth is, I have just been trying to keep my head above water and popping in to wax philosophical took too much energy these last several months. Am I back for good? I think so. It will likely look different than it did over the past few years. I'm making plans to start a more regular blog for my business and hoping to increase the quality of what I write for, but I would love to be able to engage in this forum again as well. There's a lot rattling around in this head and heart of mine.

2) We had this grand illusion that summer would give us a chance to kick back and relax and do some things around the house, but somehow that just didn't come to pass. I did my darndest to kick "busy mom" to the side and try to pull out "fun mom," and we went to the beach that day. Wouldn't you know, after buying a park pass for the year (because we had so much fun we decided to try to make it a weekly thing), they closed the beach due to contaminated water. Curses! So there have been trips to the park, playing in the back yard, and more subdued fun activities. Not quite the kick back and enjoy summer we had planned, though.

3) Part of our busy-ness this summer has been due to a project the Hubs and I have been working on together. We have been working on Advent and Lenten reflection booklets/devotionals for ACTA Publications using The Message translation. The Hubs has been doing some work for them, and they asked if we would consider it. It's been fun taking little day-dates with him to work together. I've also had the opportunity to incorporate some lettering and design into the project which has been fun (and I need to finish!). I'll keep you posted on when these babies see the light of day! 

4) This summer has also included a change of jobs for me. While I enjoyed my time at the maternity home, it was becoming clear that I needed to move on and let someone else take it from here. With a third child and still navigating the responsibility of mom's care and estate, I just didn't have the emotional or spiritual energy to commit to such a vulnerable population, and they deserve someone who could give them 110%. I'm now working in communications at a parish and loving it! The hours are the same as the old job, the staff is beyond accommodating and kind, and there is a lot of room to grow. I just have to grow my patience muscle since not all things I'm envisioning can happen overnight . . . or at all. Sadly, the pastor was re-assigned unexpectedly shortly after I began, but all shall be well. 

5) My babies keep getting older. I know. It happens. Little dude turned FIVE this summer, and the baby is already 15 months old. What the what? I'll have two kids in school full time in a little over a week. It's kind of like the promised land, mixed with a tinge of heartbreak that they are so old already. The oldest loves school, but the little dude is a little trepidacious of a new teacher. He LOVED his preschool teachers, and I think he has had to deal with a lot of changes over the last year which makes him a little hesitant about this new adventure. I know he'll love it when he gets there though - that's his M.O.

6) Let's talk about the real reason this summer has been busier than anticipated. I took a giant leap of faith and applied to be a vendor at The Edel Gathering a few weeks ago. I've never done a big vendor gig, so I had NO idea what to expect. I also probably put off the making of the things until a little too late because I had no idea what it would involve. Most of July was spent feverishly making, making, and making. Jewelry. Signs. Labeling prints. Beading bracelets. The Hubs was overseeing the little people while all this happened. I felt so badly, but he was my biggest cheerleader. Y'all. I was so scared I would get there and sell nothing. That people would just walk by my table and move on to the real artists and vendors. I bought a sequin tablecloth just so people would at least see me! (Ok, not exactly - I just couldn't say no to the sparkle!) It was a giant risk, and in the final days I was kind of wishing I would have just attended the event and enjoyed myself. BUT! The vision I had for my space took life, I met people who had been buying my pieces all along, I met wonderful women who were kind and struggling and looking for beauty and peace and something to share with their loved ones. I finally met fellow artists in person and they were even more beautiful from the glisten on their skin in the Texas heat to the marrow of their bones and the depth of their souls than I could have imagined. It was hard work, but it was amazing. {And thanks to Wendy who knew I was guana crazy for thinking I'd get everything set up by myself in an hour and came with me to help. And then sent her sister to get me water when I got nervous and shaky.}

The spirit of Edel, y'all. I found my tribe there two years ago, and we had the chance to finally see each other in person together in one place again. These sisters have walked with me through everything these last two years. A somewhat surprise pregnancy. Mom's stroke and subsequent dementia. Struggles with anxiety. Rejoicing at the little wins. All of it. I only wish I wasn't so focused on my vendor table (and then surprised by "womanly issues" that afternoon) so I could have gotten to know many more of the wonderful women who attended. We are all desperately in need of our tribe - both near and far. Find those women (or rather, ask God to send those women) and love them fierce.

7) Just a little frivolity for you. Here are some things I should be doing instead of sitting on the bed typing: laundry, cleaning the bathroom, organizing mom's bills, unpacking the boxes in my "studio," working on my weekly marketing plan, yada yada yada etc etc etc. Yet, here I sit typing because I want to get back in the practice of it. Also, I'm thinking the blog needs a little face lift. We'll save that for another day, though!

If you want to read some more interesting Quick Takes this week, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. Plus, she has AWESOME news on her blog about her boys!

Until later, get out there and love 'em like Jesus!


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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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