Faith

Palm Sunday

20160320_191000Today is Palm Sunday.  The beginning of Holy Week!  The end of Lent is near!  This day marks a time when Christians should focus on the Passion of our Lord.  His suffering endured, the torture, the death of a cross…all for us, so that we may one day return to our Creator, our Heavenly Father.

Today is Palm Sunday.  For parents, it is one of the most dreaded Sundays of the Church year.  Yes, we should have all of our attention turned toward our Lord, praying and meditating, and getting all holy-like, but it is impossible when you have children.  You love your children and strive to teach them good church etiquette, but that any progress made goes out the window on Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday Mass is really beautiful, but it is LONG.  If you’re lucky, your kids can handle one hour in church.  At the 61st minute, however, they turn into little creatures of unknown origin determined to make you scream and get the attention of the whole congregation turned on you, including the priest.  You know they were baptized.  Shoot, you even splashed holy water on them as you entered the church, but that doesn’t stop kids’ behavior from becoming hellish when you expect them to be little saints.  And that’s on a good day.

Also on Palm Sunday, our parish, as many others, start Mass outside, and process in, waving palms, reminding us of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey.  This is a very lovely, beautiful display of our faith, but it doesn’t work well with kids.  You see, when you are in the church, your child is more or less confined to the length of your pew, unless you have children with a tendency for spelunking and they crawl under the pews as if exploring a cave.  Even if the kids escapes your pew, there are walls to keep him/her inside.  But when you’re outside, the boundaries are endless, and the little ones love to explore God’s creation and take off running.  Sometimes into the parking lot.  Or picking the beautiful flowers in the church landscaping that the ladies of the parish so tenderly care for.

What would Palm Sunday be without palms?  Easier.  Much easier for parents.  When handed a palm, a child suddenly has a weapon.  A sword or whip.  Oh, look, little Johnny and little Bobby are having a light sabre battle with palms.  How angelic!  Palms can also be used as a tickling tool.  Have you ever had your head bent, deep in prayer, only to feel a light, wispy feeling on the back of your neck.  Sorry.  That’s not the Holy Spirit touching you.  It’s little ornery Susie behind you, seeking revenge for the time you shushed her seven weeks ago.  Oh, yes, she can make it look like an accidental, random act, but behind that sweet little smile is a well-calculated maneuver designed to make you shiver from head to toe.

Even though my children are (mostly) beyond this point, the memories are still fresh and the embarrassment is still raw that I strongly sympathize with my fellow parents.  Palm Sunday Mass is a wonderful celebration, and a great opportunity to share our faith with our families and learn and grow.  Parents are just thankful it happens only once a year.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

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Where’s My Motivation?

The dog is not motivating me.  I know it’s not his job, but seeing him curled up on the couch snoring the day away just makes me want to take a nap.

The dirty dishes in the sink are not motivating me.  Eh…the sink’s not overflowing.  They can wait a little longer.

The threat of no clean socks in the morning isn’t motivating me.  The laundry has been sitting around for days.  Surely some of those socks have aired out enough by now that they won’t be too stinky to wear again.

The thought of no plans for dinner isn’t motivating me, either.  There is always PB&J.

There is only ONE thing that is motivating me to get off my rear and get some work done.  I truly believe my God-given vocation is a wife and mother.  By serving my family, I am serving Him.  My procrastination and lack of motivation are pure selfishness, putting me before everything and everyone else.  Pride is an ugly sin.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

-Matthew 23:12

 

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The Unwanted Christmas Present

Guess what I got for Christmas.  SICK!  Yes, on Christmas Eve day, I became ill.  More specifically, I came down with the flu.  Fever, chills, hot-flashes, dizziness, aches, and just that general all-over crappy feeling. We had just loaded up the van with kids, luggage, and presents and started off toward my parents’ house.  Yes, my parents, the older folks who have health issues of their own and shouldn’t needlessly be exposed to germs and such.

At that point I wasn’t really feeling sick, just tired and run-down.  But it was the day before Christmas.  Who wasn’t?  The Oldest was behind the wheel, gaining some needed experience to go with his driving permit.  I was the responsible Adult Relative riding shotgun, making sure he was following the laws, etc.  This meant my beloved husband was in the very back row of our twelve passenger van, leisurely reading a book. About 20 minutes after departure, we had our first request for a bathroom break.  It was then, while waiting inside the store for our restroom user to finish…um…resting, that I had had my first icky moment.  Everything suddenly seemed all floaty and surreal.  I must have looked the part, too, because I was asked by a store clerk if I needed help.  “Simply a head cold,” I told myself as we loaded back in the van, this time with me in the back.

Now my son is a fairly good driver, but he is still inexperienced.  The little adjustments and lane changes aren’t as smooth as they will be one day.  At this point in time, however, these corrections can feel a bit sudden and jerky, especially when riding in the back of a twelve-passenger van.  When I asked for another pit-stop, my husband assumed I wasn’t feeling well because of the rough ride (it wasn’t, I just needed to pee).  I asked my husband if I felt hot because I was fairly certain I had a slight fever.  He briefly put his hand to my forehead as we stood on the windy sidewalk at the rest stop and assured me I didn’t. Yeah, right, I thought.  We were not quite to the halfway point to my parents.  I contemplated turning around and heading home, but I knew how excited they were to see us so we trekked onward.

That last stretch of the trip was miserable.  As soon as we arrived at my parents I waved at them (sparing the germs that could possibly attack them if I offered my usual hug), confirmed which bed I would be sleeping in, and crawled under the covers, consumed by feelings of fever, chills, and exhaustion.  As I curled up in the fetal position, I admitted to myself that these were flu-like symptoms.

As I tossed, turned, and dozed, my husband took on all of the jobs that had been awaiting me:  grocery shopping, cooking, and preparing a meal and table for twelve, as well as his usual unpacking, etc.  And, with the help of the children, he did so beautifully.  My brother, his wife, and her sister arrived, and they all had a lovely dinner at the dining room table, while I enjoyed the same lovely dinner in bed.  I was able to wrap myself up in a blanket and plop into a chair on the fringe of action in the living room during gift opening, although I was feeling quite miserable.  Occasionally, someone would plop a package into my lap, which I would open after several minutes of mustering up the strength to open the gift bag.  Despite me, I think everyone had a nice evening.

On Christmas morning, I was still the same:  feverish, achy, chills, sweats, etc. (thankfully, never any tummy issues).  This time, it was just my husband, kids, and parents.  I wandered a bit deeper into the living room, setting up camp in a recliner.  A few more presents.  Stockings.  Christmas stuff. Then it was time for church.  Oh, how I hated missing Christmas Mass!  But I knew it was for the best.  I sat in the recliner coaching my husband and oldest daughter on what was packed for everyone to wear.  After they left, I trudged back to bed where I spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of sleep, taking Motrin and Tylenol, and occasionally wandering out to the living room to see the family (after all, it was Christmas day).

flu stocking

On the third day of illness, the flu bug gave to me…a trip to the doctor.  Finally!  You would think I would have gone the first day.  I usually would have, but getting sick at Christmastime is very inconvenient.  I don’t recommend it.  After the typical uncomfortable wait in a walk-in clinic, staring at several other people who looked just like I did, and at others who harbored unknown illnesses to which I was now potentially exposed, I eventually saw the doctor.  I was able to walk out clutching a handful of prescriptions in one hand and my husband’s arm with the other, as I was still a bit dizzy (no jokes from the peanut gallery).

The next day, Saturday, as the drugs were building in my system, I started feeling better for short periods of time, but would again slip into The Great Ick.  We left my parents (this time, we took our chances and actually hugged) and headed home where I have set up camp in my own bedroom.  Feasting on prescriptions and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches lovingly made by my children, I am slowly starting to feel better.  In between naps, I have been able to spend my days electronically killing zombies, leading water to a waiting alligator, and dressing up models in clothing.

Today is…well, heck, I don’t know what day it is, but I feel a whole lot better.  I have been out of my room, gotten dressed in real clothing, done a few motherly things, and even ran an errand with my 16-year old chauffer.  I haven’t had a fever in over 36 hours, and the only symptom I have left is a cough.  Oh, and fatigue, but you have to expect that from someone who has been in bed a week!  It will be some time before I am back to my usual self.

Through this constant bout with the flu, my trusty companion Mr. K. has been by my side.  At a time when my loved-ones (the people kind) were told to keep away for fear of catching my illness, the dog kept me company.  Just feeling his little paws on my legs as he climbed over to settle in behind my knees gave my heart a chance to smile at a time when my face was too weak to.  Frankly, a little dog alone isn’t much company on the biggest holiday of the year, but I am glad we were vigilant about the family getting too close to me.  No one else in the family is sick.  There were times at my parents’ house when I was certain the Oldest or the Curly Girlie would get it because they spent a lot of time in the bedroom with me watching TV, but so far, so good.

I  really hope this is the end of the flu for me and it doesn’t happen to anyone else in the family.  I still stand by previous PSA about getting a flu shot, but I also want to stress get to the doctor soon if you feel you are getting sick.  They told me that Tamiflu works if you get it within 2-3 days of the onset of symptoms.  I was pushing the 3-day mark, and I have a hunch it would have helped more if I could have had it sooner.

The saddest part about this Unwanted Christmas Present is that it didn’t come with a gift receipt so I was stuck with it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

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What Happened to Advent?

Whoa, there!  Slow down, everyone.  It’s not the Christmas season yet.  It’s Advent.  Don’t rush things!  The Christmas season doesn’t officially start until December 25, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Christmas then continues for 12 more days (THE Twelve Days of Christmas, sound familiar?) until Epiphany, the celebration of when the Magi visited the baby Jesus.  We are now in Advent, not Christmas!

Please don’t think I am anti-Christmas.  Far from it!  I LOVE Christmas, and all of the traditions that go along with it (well, maybe not ALL… that elf that moves around at night is kind of creepy).  But please don’t skip over Advent.  It is a beautiful season, too.  Use this time to prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s birth.  What were people expecting in a Messiah?  What signs and prophesies were fulfilled?  Why do we even need a Savior?  Advent should be a time of focusing on our faith journey.  It’s not a crime to deck the halls, but don’t let it overshadow this special season.

Use this Advent season wisely.  Pray more.  Go to Church.  Explore the Bible.  Feed the hungry and clothe the needy.  Visit the homebound and elderly.  Live out your faith.  I’m not a Bible scholar, but I don’t think Jesus ever said, “Good prices on electronics come to those whose who wait in a line for 20 hours.”

I once heard some wonderful advice with regards to the crazy pre-Christmas rush:  “If what you are doing doesn’t bring you closer to Jesus, then don’t do it.”  Pray for me, friends, as I try to follow those wise words, and know that I will be praying for you, too.

 

 

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Happy Easter, Happy Dyngus Day

Excuse me for being quiet lately here in Blogland, but I tried to focus my last days of Lent and Holy Week on my faith journey.  The internet can be a big distraction to me as I tried to comprehend and contemplate the concepts of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.  I will never truly understand, nor will any human on earth, the tremendous depth of love our God has for us.  I simply accept that I don’t understand it, and maybe wasn’t meant to understand it during this physical lifetime.  And that is fine with me.  I have faith and trust in God.  I don’t need to completely understand Him.

I hope everyone had a beautiful, wondrous Easter Sunday!  My family and I were blessed by an invitation to have Easter dinner at our friends’ house.  Lots of yummy food and fun and fellowship.  Of course, there was an Easter egg hunt, too!  As the kids (and some of us adults, too) were lining up at the edge of the yard, waiting for the signal to start egg-hunting, their big, teddy bear-of-a-dog decided to wander into the middle of the yard and took a dump.  Once that situation was …um…disposed of, the egg hunt commenced.  I picked up a few eggs.  (Hey, it’s free candy!  Don’t judge!)  Being the ornery person I am, I emptied the yummy contents of one of the plastic eggs into my pocket then filled it with landscaping rocks and put it back down for my daughter to find.  hee hee hee.  Oh, the things Easter memories are made of!

Later that evening, when we were home, we lit a fire in the back yard and roasted hot dogs.  Not the typical Easter meal, but we took advantage of the good weather to practice for the upcoming camping season.    Being a scout family, we are sure to have some camp outs in the near future.  The fire was a nice, relaxing way to spend the evening enjoying our family.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Dyngus Day!  Dyngus Day is a holiday celebrated on the Monday after Easter.  It is popular in Poland and other eastern European countries, as well as in certain American-Polish communities.  I am not sure how it is celebrated in Europe, but growing up in South Bend, IN, Dyngus Day was a celebration of the end of Lent and a day to partake in yummy Polish food such as sausage, noodles, chicken…mmm…the memories!  It is also a popular day for politicians to campaign in local bars and social clubs.  Now that I have moved from South Bend, I miss Dyngus Day.  Maybe I will put on some polka music and dance around the living room.  Nah…that would just scare the dog.

Happy Easter and Happy Dyngus Day!

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“How’m I Doin’?”

Former New York City Mayor, Ed Koch, would often greet his constituents with his trademark phrase, “How’m I doin’?” Even as a young teen, that left an impression on me. How neat that someone in an elected position would directly and routinely ask those who voted for him how they thought he was doing at the job!

Too often, we undertake something with great ambition only to find our enthusiasm evaporates or our direction changes from our original intention. Or we are too busy patting ourselves on our backs for a job well-done that we can’t see that the job really wasn’t done that well.

I think it is important to occasionally step back and evaluate ourselves. I just did that with this blog. I spent time reviewing my posts and seeing if I am doing what I set out to do. On my homepage, I wrote:

I invite you to take a peek at our chaotic, cluttered life and how I am trying to make positive changes. On my blog I will post musings on motherhood, family anecdotes, and housekeeping triumphs and tragedies. Through all of this you may see my Catholic faith. I can’t do anything without Him (although I sometimes try, then fail)!

I think I have done a decent job of that.  I have shown you the chaos (The End of the Christmas Concert Season) and clutter (Bathroom Improvements, Part 1).  I have written motherhood musings (She-nager! and My Big Baby Boy) and family anecdotes such as Christmas Shopping with the Kids.  You can read about housekeeping triumphs (Attacking the Tub) and even the canning tragedy with my finger (The Corn Story, Part 2).  My faith is part of who I am and presents itself in varying degrees.  I try to share my faith without sounding too preachy.  It is a big part of who I am and therefore a part of my blog.

After reviewing, I am quite satisfied with what I have done so far.  Frankly, I thought I would disappoint myself, but I didn’t.  This blog has really helped me keep myself of track to reach the organization and positive goals I have set.  I have recently changed the look of karenthemommy.com, but not the content and direction.  I think things are going well.

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me, “How’m I doin’?”  Leave a comment or send an email.

Thanks for stopping by!

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What Happened to Advent?

OK, I need to vent a little. Why the big rush charging into Christmas the day after Thanksgiving? Or should I say Halloween? Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, define Advent as follows:

Ad·vent
noun \ˈad-ˌvent, chiefly British -vənt\

Definition of ADVENT

1: the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting

 

One would think that those who celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, would be Christians, but when I look around I don’t see “a season of prayer and fasting”. Most people have hit the fast-forward button and gone straight to Christmas. I see plenty of Santas and Snowmen but few Advent wreaths.

The season should be a time of preparation to renew our relationship with Christ, to welcome and celebrate the little baby who was born for us. Born to show us how to live to serve one another and give of ourselves. Born to endure unthinkable pain and agony so that we may be reunited with our Heavenly Father.

Don’t think I’m all high and mighty. I haven’t been using this preparation time wisely, either. I planned to, but it hasn’t happened. I picked up an Advent daily devotional book at Church, vowing to read it faithfully. Yeah, well…I’m not even sure where it is now. I wanted to put up a Jesse tree and have family prayer time every day. You guessed it. No Jesse tree. No Advent wreath either.

There has been one ray of hope during this Advent season: my Curly Girlie. Several nights, my sweet 10 year-old has gathered the family together for scripture reading and prayer. It was beautiful. Simple and beautiful. We all climbed onto our queen-sized bed (yes, it was crowded) as she read a passage. We talked about it a little then we took turns mentioning special intentions for which we all prayed. We ended with the Lord’s Prayer and hugs. Simple and beautiful.

I’m not giving up on Advent. Just because we are almost halfway through it and I haven’t done all that I planned doesn’t mean that it is a complete failure. I can still make this a holy season. Baby steps. Just little bits at a time.

I ask you…no, I challenge you to make this season a time of prayer and spiritual growth. You don’t have to have a big, complicated schedule of praying, fasting, praying, fasting. Little acts can be a place to start. Maybe switch your car radio to the Christian music station. Instead of cursing the idiot driver tailgating you, pray that he gets to his destination safely. Smile at the overworked mother pushing a full cart at Stuff-Mart. Give thanks for what you have.

Let’s try to reclaim this Advent season and return it to the Lord. What are you doing for Advent?

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Celebration Sunday!

The victims of the massive typhoon that hit the Philippines and surrounding areas have been weighing heavy on my heart this week. The devastation and chaos are more than I can comprehend. The death toll is in the thousands and continues to rise. The survivors are dealing with homelessness, helplessness. Families are separated, not knowing if their loved ones are dead or alive.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP! This article contains links to different organizations and ways you can help.

I’m sharing this Jeremy Camp song, “Healing Hand Of God” as a reminder that our Lord can heal, even in the most desperate times.

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Sunday Celebration!

DSCF0805 (296x640) In celebration of November 1, All Saints Day, our youngest daughter and her Kindergarten class dressed up as Saints.  This is the Princess as St. Katherine Drexel.

 

There is a lot of confusion about the Catholic Church’s position on Saints. The Communion of Saints is the body of Christ, the believers. Because we have immortal souls, this includes those who have died. Just as we may ask our family and friends to pray for us, we can ask the Saints to pray for us because we are connected through Christ. It’s not like we are avoiding Jesus or going behind his back because he is the common denominator. We can and most definitely should pray directly to Jesus. But it is also good to ask our Christian brothers and sisters to help us, too. I think that God likes to see us helping each other out.

It is important not to confuse the words “prayer” and “worship”. Worship is reserved for God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – alone. Praying to God is worshipful. Praying to the Saints is a type of devotion or great admiration. Because the Saints were ordinary people from all different walks of life and having varying experiences, many people can relate to the life of a Saint and feel a special connection with him or her. Some were pious and holy as young children, others lived rather wildly and had later life conversions.  I can understand how it may appear worshipful as some people are a bit overzealous honoring a Saint. But we must keep it all in perspective.  Worship is for God.

I am just not as eloquent on the matter as I wish I were.  In other words, I hope what I said makes sense.  I found this youtube video to help explain it better.

Have a blessed day!

 

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Sunday Celebration

Lord, help me be more like this tax collector and less like the Pharisee.

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
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