mmmmmm

You know that beautiful moment when you find some fudge in the freezer?  NO?  I’m so, so sorry!  Nom nom nom

 

It’s November. 

It’s fall.

It’s beautiful!!!

SO thankful for living in such a beautiful place with such beautiful people (even when they’re driving me absolutely bananas, which seems to be often at this point.)

and freezer fudge.

and roasted chickens and bone broth.

and sage.

and babies (even when they don’t sleep) (and aren’t quite babies anymore.) (which just breaks my heart and makes me want time to stand still, but only for a minute so I can get a better grip before it zooms past)

and big kids (with vocations) (who are willing to follow God’s gentle nudging and mama’s prayers)

and boys who know who they are and where they stand and aren’t reluctant, no matter how difficult, to stand up for what is right, even if it means giving up nearly everything that was important to them until that point.

and  husbands who give up so much so joyfully with the hope of one day giving up even more.  who work so hard to live up to their patron, even if it means doing hard things in the midst of opposition.  who love unconditionally and wholly and completely.

and daughters who work so diligently to love, who study and dream and play and work and are lights to all they encounter (including their mama)

and little boys who want to sit close and love mama even when she is too busy to do so

and great friends who feel welcome into our lives and will come and be a part of them, without batting an eye, always bringing joy and laughter

and bonfires

and melty marshmallows

and Faith

 

What are you thankful for?

Mission Fields a plenty

I can not adopt or foster children, I have “too many” of my own.  I work daily to raise them and teach them and help them to grow into amazing kids.  I know there are kids out there hurting, I pray for them daily but God did not give us the means or ability to work for them.  I know there are poor everywhere, I know they need things and money and people and care and love.  Until I no longer have little toddlers running around I am useless to them physically.  I can, however, pray.  I can give what money/belongings we have, if we have any to give, although sometimes it’s all we can do to provide for our own family. 

There are so many ministries I can not actively participate in right now, prolife work that I feel so strongly about, homeless, poor, foster kids, children and adults in third world countries, the list is endless.   I hear, often, passionate and beautiful people pontificate about how they are filling a need, a very real and immediate need, and what sacrifices they’re making and how it’s all worth it.  They’re right.  It IS all worth it.  However, something that seems to be lost in translation is how upset they seem to be that everyone else isn’t following their mission.  Somehow we all should get over our selfish desires and tendencies and join them in their mission work.  Somehow we need to all be guilted into following God’s call for their lives. 

We are forgetting, in leaps and bounds lately, that God is calling us to live out  our vocation, with His Grace, to the best of our abilities.  Right now, my vocation is raising my family.  God has called me to a mission field in my own home.  He has called me to tend the needs of the children He has so abundantly blessed me with.  He is calling me to teach them about Him, about His Will and about His calling for them, in their lives.  I know it appears as if we’re doing nothing, but how can I justify serving God in the poor while neglecting my duties at home, to my family and children?  Am I really doing God’s Will to neglect the very family He entrusted to me?  Is it God’s Will to create “apostolic orphans”?  Motherless and Fatherless children raising themselves at home so that their parents can look good and feel good serving Him in a more visable and thankful venue. 

No.  I don’t think so.  I think we need to start giving ourselves permission to serve Him in the scrubbing of the floor and the sweeping of the porch. Serving him in the wiping of noses and serving the sick in our very own homes.  Serving him by teaching the ignorant within our own walls, showing and loving the least desirable in our families.  We need to start seeing how our daily life, without frills or fanfare, can, and does serve Him. 

Maybe instead of attempting to manipulate with guilt and anger we need to encourage each other in the living out of God’s calling on our lives, whatever way that manifests itself.  We need to encourage one another to listen and hear God’s still and quiet voice calling us to become better what we were created to be. 

 

Peace,

Kara

They’re all different.

It’s fall, it’s fall, it’s fall!!!!!!

Well, sorta. 

Oklahoma style anyway. 

The weather is finally cooler and looking to stay that way, we might even need to get out the boxes of clothes to do the dreaded “switching of seasons”.  I honestly can’t wait.  Weird, I know, but I love this time of year, it makes summer almost worth it.

School is puttering along but I think I’ve hit a road block with a certain kindergartner that I know.  He seems to be struggling to learn his letters (by sight) and I’ve got to admit I feel a bit like I’ve met my match!  He’s gotten the first four down.  Not sure what it is about A-D that he connects with so well, but he does.  We’ve not progressed past E-H, at all.  Not even a little bit.  We’ve been working on the alphabet for a year and a half now.  He can sing his ABC’s, but those letters are just giving him a run for his money! 

I was looking more into Montessori type activities to open up a door, or window (I’ll take what I can get) if I can.  It’s funny that after all these years of homeschooling I’ve never done anything Montessori on purpose.  I have liked what I’m reading, but the thought of starting something new, again, is overwhelming. 

So, trying to evaluate where we’re at, what we want to do, and what our goals are.  Are we serving a time line with our children’s education?  Do I care if it takes until he’s 7 to “get it”?  Yeah.  Probably not, sort of.  I don’t know.  Is it time to walk away for a bit, just do a simple “say the alphabet and go over cards” relaxed approach while reading amazing books for his nature study and counting everything in sight?  I think it might be, for both of us.  We’re talking about God, we’re talking about nature and doing experiments.  We’ve got it on the schedule to go on nature walks and relax.  We can count so many, many things. 

I think it’s so easy to get wrapped up in a time line of what “education” is supposed to look like that we forget to look at what the child looks like.  What his needs are and how best to meet them.  My little Kindergartner needs to be outside exploring, climbing and jumping to his heart’s content.  He needs to know who he is in the family he has and the community we live in.  He needs to know that God loves him and watches over him and that He died for him.  He needs to know his letters, yes, but he will. In time.  Right now the sweet little monkey needs to feel secure, and not stressed, he needs to know he’s smart and capable, and that’s what I need to be teaching him.

Vision check!

There are moments when I look over my life and see bills due, projects needing started (or finished) clothes that need bought, sewn or mended, appointments to be made or attended, school to be taught, tasks to accomplish, things to tick off.  The list is endless and terribly overwhelming.  I don’t see it letting up anytime soon (heck, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going until the day I die, I just pray that I am very old and have many great great grandchildren by then!).  When I get caught up in the chaos and insanity, with no hope for a break or a vacation, I often want to sit down and cry.  Overwhelmed by the big picture, the everything, I forget about the little things that make up each day.  The little seconds here and there that, put together, bring the entire “big picture” into better focus. 

Instead of looking outside and seeing a house in need of repair, I need to look within the walls and see a home full of love, and strength, and joy, (and sometimes pain), sorrow and rejoicing, worry and stress, and prayer and thanksgiving.  I need to see beyond the baby who won’t sleep to the 7 year old who can’t bear to hear his brother fussing and goes in to him, patting him on the back and quietly singing a lullaby to soothe him to sleep.  I need to see the 13 year old who happily plays cars with the 3 year old so he can feel “big”.  I need to see the triumph of an alphabet remembered, or math facts mastered.   Children and parents celebrating each other in things little and big.  Loving and forgiving each and every day. 

While the yard is overwhelming and we need new tires or the carpet needs cleaning or the blinds dusted, the children are growing and memories are being made.  Dad wrestles on the floor with the boys, I fan girl with the girls about Iron Man (Seriously, Ummmm, yeah.  He was a hottie when I was 13!  Nothing has changed!).  We go about our days living in these walls, in this life.  The things, the overwhelming college tuition, senior year planning, activity list keeping will always, always continue.  I will be busy until the end of my days.  And, that busy-ness is not something I can take a vacation from, there are noses to wipe, heads to kiss and stresses to calm, always.  Every.  Single. Day.  The key is to remember that is the stuff of days.  That is what really living is all about.  The other?  The upkeep of a house, bills, cars, lives, all of that happens, always and no matter what.  It falls into place and it gets finished, but it is not what the “big picture” is really composed of.  If I were to look closely I would see those things, but they would be dotted about a page absolutely overwhelmed with the trappings of life.  The noise and mess that encompasses what being our family looks like.  The scrawled notes of love and encouragement from parent to child, the “atta boys” to siblings, the gratitude journal, spread out on the school room table, pages numbered and decorated with drawings of butterflies and bird, our home, skateboards and rain, pencils strewn around it because there was no time to put it away before being rushed through bath time and bed. 

I know that God wants us to see things through His eyes, not the world’s, and yet, every once in a while the world slips in and God has to send these precious saints in training to straighten out my vision again. 

First post of the school year

We’re on week 4 (technically) of our 15th homeschool year.  I can’t believe we’ve been doing it this long and, true to form, we’re about a week behind.  Already.  If I were honest I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.  Life happens.  A lot.  We’re plugging along, things are going well and the kids are all learning (YAY!  That’s not a guarantee you know!) We’ve already had some huge learning breakthroughs and are still struggling with other areas.  It’s been a wonderful encouragement to see our decision to hold one child back a year affirmed by his overwhelming joy and enthusiasm for learning that is brand new this  year.  When you’re both the teacher and the parent it can be difficult to see exactly how things are going until you’re looking through the crystal clear glasses of hindsight.  I am beyond grateful that, in my experience, I was able to see where we were with honesty and assess what needed to be done and have the confidence to do it without fear. 

What’s turned out to be the biggest blessing has been my need to re-engineer his religion program (and that of his younger brothers, we’ve combined them all) because he did second grade last year, he got through the second grade Faith and Life curriculum (the religion program of choice in our home) and I felt, strongly, that a repeat of that particular subject, in that particular form, was just not necessary.  So I spent hours (not even kidding, good.night. it was forever!) pulling this book or that book off the shelf, pouring over this syllabus or that for ideas and crafts etc. to incorporate into the ebb and flow of it all.  Finally I settled on what looked appropriate for the wide range of boys I was teaching, challenging and encouraging each beautifully. 

This week (which was really last week, if you recall) we started (and will finish) reading God’s Love Story written by the Poor Clares.  We’ve gotten to Jesus’ miracles and how much He loves us and how He shows us His miracles to prove not only WHO He is, but that He does love us so much.  We finished, the boys seemed to enjoy the book and the discussion and as we were climbing down off the bed (what?  Is there any better place to talk about God’s love than on a pile of pillows on mom’s bed?  I think not!) the sweet boy looks me in the eye and says, “Before I become a saint, I am going to pray that God will let me preform some miracles, like St. Blaise or something.  It would be really awesome.  I bet He would!” 

What a blessing for this mother’s heart!  “Before I become a saint”!!  What an amazing joy to hear your son say that is, in fact, his goal.  My heart was so full, at that moment, so beautifully full!  Praise God that I listened to his nudging and followed what He put on my heart for my son’s education, or we would not have had that beautiful moment to share. 

God is GOOD!!!

Teething, toys, and Jesus

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I was a new mom and wife and our parish’s youth group  had a religious goods sale set up after Masses one weekend before the sacrament rush of April/May.  I wanted to support the youth group as much as possible and I had never really had a crucifix to wear so I perused their necklaces.  I didn’t want something too flashy or big, not too fancy, but not too masculine either.  I finally settled on something and purchased it, not knowing at that point quite how much a part of my life that little thing would become. 

It has become part of my “uniform”.  I always have Jesus with me. Sometimes I will wear other jewelry, for an event (you know, like the movies with the hubs!) or something, but always I go back to my silver crucifix.  I wake up and put it on and don’t take it off  until bed at night.  I have worn it in labor with many children, often it’s in the very first pictures of my babies on my chest.  I have worn it at funerals, and baptisms.  Weddings and baby showers.  It has become part of the fabric of who I am. 

This Sunday it dawned on me just how much a part of my life it was, what a comfort and strength it has been for me.  My 8 mo little boy (our eighth child) had fallen asleep during Mass, while clutching my crucifix.  He had been chewing on it and playing with it for a good part of Mass before finally just grasping it while he drifted to sleep.  It struck me that for the past 19 years I have had babies doing something similar during Mass.  This crucifix has been chewed on and played with, held and kissed by eight children through the years.  It has been a first toy for all of my children.

I can’t even begin to express how beautiful it is to me that something so amazingly beautiful as an image of Our Savior, in His pain, suffering for our transgressions and loving us to the point of death, would be my child’s first toy as they sit on my lap, being wrapped in my arms, rocked and hummed to, prayers whispered into their ears as they pray with me in the darkness of an early morning feeding, or while waiting for the pediatrician at a check up, or while at Mass, with their first taste of what is the Source and Summit of our beautiful faith. 

The toddlers and young children will climb onto my lap and kiss Jesus, and then mommy.  The babies always grasp Jesus as soon as they are swiped up and into my arms.  I can think of no greater tool for teaching my children about Christ than the simple little crucifix I wear about my neck.  When they are old enough they ask who He is, and listen intently to the stories I tell. They are so familiar with the image and so comfortable with the knowledge that Christ is their Eternal Father, their Savior and their Love.

This has been the best toy and teething relief I could have ever imagined.  I don’t need bags full of soft toys or coloring books and crayons, my babies and young ones just need to be close enough to my heart to reach out and touch Christ. 

“The Talk”

So I keep trying to write this amazing and profound post about our children and abusive relationships, how to help them see what they look like and how to get help when they see they’re in one.  I can’t make the words come out right, I can’t get them to make sense.    I’m trying.  I feel like I have something to say on the matter, it just refuses to be said. 

We’ve allowed our oldest two children (18 and 15.5) to “date” if they found someone worthy of their time and energies and we approved.  Our “dating” looks a bit different than other people’s, no one-on-one quiet time in the dark stuff.  No real trips in a car alone together, the list goes on.  We’ve encouraged purity and chastity and both of my daughters have an amazing example of a young married couple who waited until their wedding day for their first kiss, it was beautiful and they want that.  So, basically “dating” in our family is just a closer friendship.  They know they are working out what qualities they would ultimately see as important in a spouse, they get all that.  I trust their judgment.  I think they have good instincts and we gave them ample examples of what is good and right. 

What we failed to do is show them what unhealthy looked like.  We talked about being respected and loving God and praying for each other and praying together and how important all those things were but we didn’t talk about how those things could be manipulated and twisted to look good on the outside, all while hiding ugly on the inside.  We didn’t talk about mental illness and how you can’t fix crazy.  We didn’t talk about how there are more ways to hurt than with a fist, that words can kill nearly as efficiently as a weapon and that blackmail and veiled threats are not okay, not ever.  And, NEVER, EVER a part of a loving relationship.

We, as parents, need to explain to our daughters that no boy has the right to tell you who to be friends with, ever.  They don’t have the right to contact friends and warn them not to hang out with you or they would cause physical harm.  They don’t get to say “I feel like they are trying to break us apart as some attempt at winning me over”. That kind of controlling is never okay.  We need to explain that if you are that friend that you need to tell a trusted adult.  Your parents, your friend’s parents, a pastor/priest, a  youth director, SOMEONE.  Don’t delete the threats, print them up and TAKE them to the trusted adults in your life and demand they do something about it. 

We need to tell our daughters (and sons) that any relationship should not be built on “ME” and “I”.  That the text messages you get from your boyfriend/girlfriend should look like “hey, beautiful, good morning, hope your day is awesome!” and not “You know I’m sorry, I love you, I was grumpy and wanted to hurt myself so I hurt you instead, but I love you and I’m sorry, so I spent an hour crying and beating myself up, but whatever, just be mad and mean and angry.” 

We need to teach our daughters and sons that shallow, veiled threats of harm to self or others is not ever, EVER okay.  That phrases like “You know you mean the world to me, right?  I would never mean to hurt you on purpose.  I just…. I know I screwed up but it is in the past and…” or even that while “Every part of me needs you to be around to function and I’m  happy you’re mine” sounds good, it’s not your responsibility to make sure that someone is strong and happy and functioning and alive.  You are not a possession to be had.  Not ever.  If your boy/girlfriend has to apologize often for letting their “burning hatred” get the best of them, LEAVE.  NOW.  Block them from facebook, from your phone and from email.  If they speak about the fact that YOU are the only reason they are alive they are trying to manipulate you into staying.  LEAVE, NOW.   Always, ALWAYS include a trusted adult in the messages, especially if they suggest harm to self or others, no matter how vaguely.  Always INSIST that the adult take it seriously, because sometimes we need to be reminded that there are other things more serious than whether or not the mortgage got paid on time.

We need to teach our children that “no” means “NO” and “Please give me space” means exactly that, whether we’re talking about sex, or going for an afternoon stroll and need to be respected equally.  We need to talk to our children about the fact that physically acting out, in any way, towards or in reference to someone is not ever okay and to involve a trusted adult, immediately.  If you have a fight with your boy/girl friend and they see you (or a friend, whatever) and beat hands on a table, or a wall, or slam chairs or doors, that is NOT okay and it’s time to leave that relationship.  Immediately.

We also need to teach our children that being sorry means changing your behavior and forgiveness does not mean continuing to take abuse.  God loves you.  HE LOVES YOU.  He would never want anyone to abuse or hurt you.  You are His beautiful and loved child, for whom He gave His life.  When apologies roll in like waves, never ending and always coming, it’s time to leave.  Read 1 Cor. 13. 

The goal in a relationship is to build each other up, encourage each other.  Remember 1 Cor. 13?  Read it with your children.  A lot.  KNOW it inside and out.  Help them to understand that all of their relationships should glorify God FIRST, not any person.  Compare each and every relationship to the goal set in the Bible.  Read and compare often.  When both parties are working towards that common goal with healthy and loving words, thoughts, and actions, even if you decide maybe it’s time to end the relationship because you don’t have things in common (likes, dislikes, goals, whatever) walking away is easier, and kinder.  You both walk away with a good friend, which you can never have too many of.