Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Catholic, Three Years Later

At this time every year, I feel compelled to reflect upon our time of being Catholic.  We have
officially been Catholic for three years; it has been the hardest three years of my life, but also some of the best three years, where I have learned, grown, and experienced tremendous joy.

The first six months after our conversion were some of the most difficult times.  I felt the profound divide that had occurred between myself and almost everyone that I was close to.  My family was devastated, my friends thought it was strange, and my new Catholic family just didn't know the pain that I was experiencing.  I felt very alone.  Have our relationships improved?  Yes and no.  Most of our friends have accepted our decision, but it has caused a divide.  We have formed many new friendships and have started to feel a part of the Catholic community at large.  Things with our family are easier in the sense that there is an acceptance on both sides.  I no longer feel that I need to hide our faith: I know they don't like it, don't understand it, and it makes them feel uncomfortable, but there is an acceptance that wasn't there before.  Some of our family members enjoy discussing Catholicism with us, and with others, there is a sense of resignation.  There is and probably always will be a deep feeling of bitterness and betrayal, but we are learning to deal with that.  For those of you who are struggling through issues surrounding your conversion, it will get better!  There is a deep peace that comes with the grace of the Sacraments, a peace that will comfort wounded hearts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Four Children Later...

My baby turned one a few days ago, and as I lament time gone too fast, I have been compiling a list on what I have learned about life with four kids:

  1. When I was pregnant with number 4, people often commented that four was much easier than three.  It's not.  Nick and I are completely outnumbered, 2 to 1.  There are times when we just sit back and laugh with a giant, "Alright children!  You win!" 
  2. There isn't a quiet or dull moment.  Ever.
  3. I have been waiting for the day when I have all four children crying at the same time.  It has yet to come.  Three kids crying, yes, that is a regular occurrence.  But all four?  I don't know why, but the kids haven't orchestrated that one yet.
  4. Sitting down for a peaceful cup of coffee is a far off dream.  It is one of the laws of the universe that as soon as I sit down, someone will need something.  Every. Single. Time.
  5. There is a lot of love to go around.  One of my greatest joys has been to watch my children interact with each other.  There was a tiny part of me that wondered if my new baby would get enough love or be neglected with all of the other activity.  Nope.  This little guy is the most loved member of the family.  Every little milestone he reaches is celebrated and noted by his older siblings.  Love is lavished on him, and he spreads his own love as well.
  6. I don't need to exercise to burn calories.  Running around meeting the ever-constant needs of these kiddos is enough.
  7. Another law of the universe:  My entire house will never be clean.  I clean one room, move onto the next, and within 10 minutes, the kids will have moved into the first room and set up a fort.  Or a store.  Kids gravitate towards the cleanest area in the house.  And that is never their own room.  Ever.
  8. I have laughed more as a parent than ever before.  Who doesn't laugh when you look out the window and see your children stripped down to their underwear singing "London Bridge" and doing cartwheels?
  9. Third law of the universe:  There isn't a meal in the world that I can make that everyone will like.  The kid who liked it the night before will hate it the second night, and the kid who hated it the first night will loudly declare, "I love it!!"  the second time through.
  10.  Parenting four children is exhausting.  I have never worked harder, but I have never been more content.  There is nothing more fulfilling than being a parent.  The kids are my life and my joy.  Children ARE life.  They are a constant reminder that there is good left in this world.  They are a constant reminder that my life is not about me or my own comfort.  Life is about pouring yourself out for others.  And as my living room is currently being turned into a doll park, they remind me that this brief moment of writing is DONE!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Education is a Life

As I enter into the final stretch of our homeschooling year, (or the last minute panic of "hurry and get everything done before summer!!"), I begin the process of evaluating what we have covered this year and what is left to accomplish. This of course is met with a sinking feeling in my stomach as the doubts creep in, and I convince myself that my children are behind and I have completely messed up their education.  The irrationality subsides, and I go back to the basics and ask myself the important questions - why do I homeschool and what is education?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

After Some Quiet Reflection

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  I just took a huge, deep breath of relief, and it was refreshing, so very refreshing.  Taking this time off from blogging was just that - a huge relief.  I gained some perspective, and took away one more responsibility clouding my already overloaded brain.  Here I sit, six months later, my baby is almost one year old, and, dare I say it....I am getting regular sleep at night.  My brain has cleared, my body has healed, and I look forward entering a new chapter of writing.

As I look back at some of my last posts, I find a common theme regarding being overwhelmed at the internet, this virtual reality we all place ourselves in. This criticism still remains.  As modern Americans, we have changed the way we interact with each other, our communication, our relationships, the way we think, and our reality.  Have we ever stopped to think just how our constant "connection" to our computers, tablets, and phones is literally changing who we are?  Technology has officially dominated our society.  What would life be like without Facebook, email, Instagram, Twitter, and our phones?  What on earth would we do?  Who would we talk to, and *gasp* what would we miss? 

When I think about my life without the internet, it is difficult to think about being without this luxury.  Daily, I communicate with my friends via the web, print off homeschooling resources, read the news, upload pictures, find dinner recipes, and literally waste up to two hours everyday updating myself on the lives of my friends.  What would I do?  I believe that we are addicted to the internet.  We are addicted to having instant access and information.  We are addicted to knowing real time news.  We are addicted to keeping up on the details of each others lives while posting the details of our own; it is changing who we are and how we think.  If I wasn't spending my quiet mornings surfing the internet, I would read a book, spend longer in prayer, and have a free lap to welcome a child who just woke up.  I don't have a Smartphone, I have chosen not to get one because I don't believe that I have the self-control to refrain from being on it too much.  When I go to the park, I want to be at the park, not on my phone.  Even though I don't have a phone, with all the time that I spend at home, I feel the pull to be on my laptop often.  A few quiet minutes?  Better check what is going on.  My leisure is comprised of scrolling through my favorite websites.  Stay-at-home moms, I think we are some of the biggest culprits of internet addiction.  Let's face it - long, lonely days at home with our children are tough.  I just want escape.  I want something exciting outside of the mundane of cleaning messes, changing diapers, and folding laundry.  I crave interaction with someone over the age of 7.  When (or if) I finally get 20 minutes of down time, I usually feel worse about myself and my day if I have wasted it all on Facebook or Pinterest.  There are better ways to spend our time.

With Lent coming, I think it is time for us to truly evaluate our internet usage.  Perhaps this Lent, it is time for a technology fast.  What would life look like without the internet?  What would happen if we only "checked in" for 20 minutes in the evening or every other day?  Would we survive?  Yes, I think we would; in fact, we would more than survive, I think we would thrive.  We would find peace for our souls.  We would find time for quiet contemplation.  We would read, walk, pray, and reflect more.  We would go back to the tangible reality of searching through a recipe book, looking at old photographs, reading a newspaper, or writing a letter.  My lap would hold children, not a computer.  I want my children to grow up discovering the wide world through books and nature, roaming free in wide open spaces, not confined to a virtual reality; shouldn't I desire the same for myself?  Lent is a time of discipline, prayer, fasting, and abstinence to help us along our path towards holiness.  May God bless you this Lenten season.

This video certainly gives us a picture of our technology addiction:

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Farewell

I have desired to write this for a long time.  It has been so long since my last post, and I wanted to thank all of you who have continually checked back here or have contacted me.  I appreciate this little internet world.

That being said, I have been doing a lot of reflecting about the internet and our Age of Information these last few months.  I am at a point in my life where I am too busy living life to stop and write about it.  I find the internet overwhelming, filled with articles, tips, opinions, and views into the lives of people I'll never meet.  Right now, it just seems to be noise in my soul.  Noise that I can do without.  Please know that I am not trying to condemn bloggers or anyone else, just right now for me, I am trying to live a life that is as free from technology as possible. I need peace.  Rest.  Reflection.

I started this blog as a place for me to share my journey into the Catholic Church.  It became a place where I enjoyed writing and posting thoughts.  I hope to come back to it someday.  I hope my story can encourage others.  We must all seek truth, and guard our minds from being lulled into apathy by our materialistic culture. 

If you would like to contact me, my email is I would love to hear from you!  I have "met" many wonderful people through this blog.  I am thankful for you all.  Check back, I may write more one day, but for now, I am reading a good book, at the park with my kids, or enjoying cup of coffee on the back patio.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Finding the Beauty

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I have posted anything.  To be honest, I have been slightly jaded by the blogging world.  The sheer number of articles, thoughts, and blogs out there is overwhelming.  Technology overwhelms me.  It seems as though there is always something to read, something to check out, and some sort of advice being offered.  Life has been very difficult here as many changes have and will be occurring in our family.  I have been challenged to find peace in my soul; the internet is not a place of peace.

I feel that I have learned a lot over this past year of trial, someday I look forward to writing about it, but that is not for today.  Today I am working just to love my children through patience when I am tired and stressed, and to find joy in the daily moments because time seems to quickly ebb away.  My baby boy is already four months old, and my oldest daughter will be seven in a month.  I don't want to waste my days with these precious children worrying about what is next, even though the future is so uncertain.  I desire to find the beauty in everyday life ~ children, garden, sunshine, and prayer.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth.  Let my soul glory in the Lord; the lowly will hear me and be glad.  Glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol his name."
~Psalm 34

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moving Over

Only a few more days and Google Reader will be shutting down.  Boo.  I will miss it, but have been trying out Bloglovin' for about a month now, and am getting used to it.  Check it out, it has some cool features.  Don't forget to move your blog feed over before July 1st!  The button to follow this blog is over on the right sidebar, follow me there! 

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Monday, June 17, 2013

I Will Miss You, Grandma

The last three months of our life have been....intense.  A birth, baptism, loss of a job, trying times at work coupled with a job change, a wedding, and now, the death of my grandmother.  We flew half way across the country with FOUR kids under age SIX (crazy, at best) for a wedding, and then traveled 300+ miles for a funeral, and have spent a lot of time without daddy as he was working two jobs.  Intense.  There is much I could say, my heart has been heavy; for now I want to share with you all what I wrote and read at my grandmother's funeral.  She was a beautiful lady with a beautiful soul.  Loss is hard, death is hard.  I will miss you, Grandma Minnie.

When I thought about what I would like to say and share about Grandma Minnie, I didn’t know where to begin or what to say.  Every memory I have of Grandma is happy.  Then I talked with my sis and we had so many of the same memories, and  they are all happy.  We remember all sorts of things we did at her house, and we remember loving to be there.  We remember lying in her backyard watching the fireworks, playing Oregon Trail traveling up and down the yard, inventing all sorts of perils that inflicted us poor weary travelers, time grouped around her counter on bar stools writing stories about a make believe family, and the smell of her sheets in the guest room.  We remember spending New Years Eve at her house, fixing her hair, and ringing in the New Year by banging on pots and flushing toilets.  Now I realize that mom and dad were probably happy to send the kids away while they rang in the New Year with grown up friends, but back then, I thought going to Grandma’s was all about us.  And we loved it, it was the coolest thing ever.  My mind is filled with fond memories.  I loved going to her house.  I don’t remember a harsh or impatient word coming from her; Grandma’s house was a place of happiness, and it was a place of happiness because she was there.  Her quiet, peaceful presence was always there tidying up after us messy grandchildren, making delicious homemade applesauce, and working in the yard, all while smiling to herself at all of our childish antics.  Grandma was constant, more of a mother than a grandmother, and Grandma was love.  Even during my teenage years when I didn’t enjoy the presence of any adult, I still loved going to Grandma’s house.  Her peaceful demeanor and listening ear were as constant and true as ever.  I remember her smiling down from the stands during all of our sporting events and faithfully perming my hair every year before school started.   During my first few years of college, I loved when Grandma came up to Salem for a visit, as she was a part of home, sent to bring peace.  I remember talking to Grandma, calling her from college when I needed someone to talk to.  

Now, as an adult, I am amazed at the woman Grandma Minnie was.  She owned her own business, working 5 days a week, cutting hair here in Lakeview.  She had many regular customers who I now know must have loved coming to her.  They probably chatted away, while she quietly and patiently listened.  She spent years working at church in the AWANA program, listening to children recite memory verses, she worked in the church nursery, her house was always spotless, and she was a wonderful cook.  Jamie mentioned how Grandma taught our mom how to make the delicious homemade tortillas, applesauce, and macaroni and cheese that were staples at our house.  Every Monday during the summer, we looked forward to spending time at Grandma’s house with our cousins, while she filled the role of babysitter.  She didn’t miss a sporting event.  I can remember always seeing her Bible and Daily Bread lying on her nightstand, where I know she spent hours reading her Bible and praying for her family.

It’s strange just how etched her house is in my mind.  I remember her bookshelf and what books were on there.  I remember her dresser and how much I loved looking through her jewelry, and her wonderful walk-in closet filled all sorts of interesting things.  I still remember how it smelled in there.  Grandma’s house was not only a place of happiness, it was a place of comfort, rest and joy. 
Even during these last few years when her mind was suffering from Alzheimer’s, her presence was still a comfort.  Because wherever Grandma was, there was love.  Throughout these last difficult years, as I’ve watched my parents and aunts and uncles care for her, it has been extremely hard.  But it seemed like even though she was suffering, there would be stories my parents would tell here and there about how Grandma would give them just what they needed at the most trying of times.  She would recognize them and give a smile, or even just utter the words “I love you” just when they needed to hear it.  Even when she was unable to fully converse with others, her presence was enough, always emanating peace, joy and love.  That is what makes her passing so difficult.  Grandma Minnie, even in her last years, was comfort and love.  

Even though it is difficult, and we will miss her greatly, it gives me great joy to think of her sweet, quiet presence in Heaven, still showing love to those around her.  She is whole once again, freed from her suffering and with Christ, smiling down on us, and praying for us.  I look forward to meeting her again one day, but for today, I am thankful for all of you here who are joining with our family to remember and celebrate our sweet Grandma Minnie.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Not Exactly a Pinterest-worthy Year

Now that life has finally settled down (a little!), I have been trying to finish up this school year with the girls.  Looking back, I find that I didn't really get a lot accomplished, work-wise.  When my mom came to stay with us after Edmund's birth, she asked the girl's to show her all their work from this year.  They didn't really have a lot to show.  Miriam told her, "we don't really do much, we just do math."  And yes, when I think about it, we pretty much "just did math."  We did math, we read books, and we played outside.  That was all this morning-sick mama could accomplish for most of the year.  Nothing big, nothing exciting, and certainly nothing Pinterest-worthy.  There is a part of me that sets into panic-mode as I write this.  But the larger, more rational part of me says, "wait, what else does a first-grader and two preschoolers need?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Sacrament of Baptism

Our hearts were full on the day that we brought our sweet little Edmund Arthur Francis before the Lord for the Sacrament of Baptism.  This was our first Catholic baptism and it was a beautiful and joyous occasion.  We were blessed to be surrounded by dear friends, our Catholic family.  There are times when I mourn that our families are not involved in our Catholic life, and I pray that one day they may join us.  Until then, we are continually blessed by our little community of Catholics here who show us continual support and love.