Joy in Motherhood on Hallowe’en

Motherhood continues to amaze me in wonderful new ways.  Yesterday was Hallowe’en.  My husband and I had found a bee costume at a local consignment shop.  I put it on her in the early evening last night, and my heart melted.  She was adorable!  I am sure she will be embarrassed by this in the years to come, but right now I get to enjoy her cuteness in all of its glory.

We went over to a friends’ house to have dinner and then go trick-or-treating together in their neighborhood.  Their neighborhood is perfect for trick-or-treating; safe with minimal traffic.  There were a lot of kids out.  We started off with a pizza party.  My husband met us at their house.  He came dressed as a farmer, even wearing his straw hat.  He had put our wheelbarrow in the back of his pick-up.  He was going to wheel our daughter around the neighborhood.  That is a lot of walking for a 2 year old.  My husband is awesome!

At first, Michaela was shy.  She would go up to the door with the other girls and just stand there.  At each house my husband would tip over the wheelbarrow so that she could jump out.  As the night went on, she got more and more confident.  She would say “thank you”, even if she did not master “trick-or-treat”.  She had so much confidence that she would grab multiple items out of the bowl, when people would offer her a choice.  Each time she would climb into the wheelbarrow, she would say, “more candy”.  We could not stop laughing.  The neighborhood loved that my husband pushed her around in a wheelbarrow.  I think that she was the youngest kid out.  Our friends’ daughter would help her up the steps when she wanted to go up without me, which became more frequent as she got the hang of it.

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As I stood at the curb with the other moms who were trick-or-treating with us, I felt the tremendous joy of motherhood.  I had so much fun.  Sure I have fond memories of trick-or-treating in 6 inches of snow, I am from Montana, but watching my daughter gave me such profound joy.  I had the most fun that I have had in a while.  She brought joy to the people handing out candy too.  I could tell as they interacted with her.

Holidays like Hallowe’en, which for us Catholics is not over yet, can be stressful.  The costumes, pumpkins, candy, and all of the preparation can take away from the fun.  As parents, we get to experience the fun and wonder that our child experiences each year, if we allow ourselves too.  Every year holidays take on a new dimension.  This year, our daughter really experienced Hallowe’en.  Last year, we took her to our neighbors’ houses, but it was bitter cold and she was only one.  This year she could figure it out from the older girls.  It is a strange and wonderful feeling to watch my 2 year old to bravely go up to a stranger’s door without me.  The one night a year they take candy from a stranger!  I also started to understand why some parents dress up with their kids.  It is a family night.  My husband got fully involved, after joking with me that he was going to stay at our friends’ house, hand out candy and drink a beer.  Of course I gave him the wife look.  It made me wish that I had thought of something to wear.  I went as a mom.

The longer I am a mother, the more I realize that I am fully alive in this wonderful, painful, challenging, joy-filled, amazing, vocation.  Seeing my daughter grow fills me with bittersweet joy.  It is wonderful to see her develop and learn, but at the same time it pulls at my heart.  I want to hold her tight and keep her as she is, but that is not how life works.  Motherhood is a constant lesson in letting go.  Isn’t that a part of love?  Allowing someone to blossom in their own way, of their own free will.  It is deeply challenging for a mom.  So last night I stood in the dark watching my child filled with peace and joy, while experience the cut that is letting her go.  That is why marriage is a vocation, it prunes away at us.  It teaches us to see joy, which only comes from God.  I am deeply thankful for last night and I look forward to the joyous occasions that are in store for my family and me.  Happy Feast of All Saints!  Get to Mass. :o)

Thanks Be to God

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It is easy for me to get worked up about the evil going on in the world, or about how I fail often at being the mother and wife God wants me to be.  By becoming distracted by all of the darkness, or by allowing a self-loathing dialogue to run rampant in my mind, I am allowing the Enemy to win in my heart.  He wants me to despair.  He wants me to think that he has won and that there is no point in fighting back, in serving others, or focusing on my family.  That is his creed: despair.  But, the truth is that Jesus Christ won the battle for us all by dying for our sins and showing us the hope of Eternal life.  That does not mean that this life is easy, but it does mean that love and hope always will conquer over evil.  It just may be that we will not fully understand until we are with Him.

When my husband I were dating he would tell me to write down 10 things that i am grateful for that day.  Our engagement was full of stress, family medical issues, and change.  When I would allow my job, family, or the world to get to me, he would tell me to focus on what I am thankful for in each moment.  I have had gratitude journals off and on for about five years, but I have not done a great job of keeping up with it.  Then, when I was sick as a dog while pregnant with my daughter, I discovered the blog, A Holy Experience, http://www.aholyexperience.com, through my friend Dana’s Facebook posts.
Her blog is beautiful.  Her words are like poetry and speak deep truth that bring me peace and reminds me that I am not alone.  Sometimes I read her writing and think we were separated at birth.  Like me, she has struggled through periods of loss and anxiety.  She knows what it is to live on auto-pilot.  One day she woke up from a nightmare and realized that she truly wanted to live and she discovered that gratitude was the way to accomplish living a Christ-centered life.  Even though we differ theologically, her message is one that all of us need to take in. It is the same message that my husband has been trying to get across to me.
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What happens to me when I start being grateful for all I have and truly pay attention to what is going on in my life?  I start to notice the way the sunlight falls across the room early in the morning.  I can see the way the breeze rustles my daughter’s golden hair.  I see her long eyelashes and her beautiful, radiant eyes.  I see my husband’s smile.  I am touched by the joy he brings Michaela when he gets home from work.  I savor the smell of soup cooking in the Crockpot.  I laugh at the squirrels trying to steal our sunflower seeds.  I start to see Christ in the people around me.  I have more strength when bad news comes, as it will in this life.  I pray more because I know that joy and pain are joined together.  I am more generous.  A full heart wants to share its blessings.
A lot of us are frustrated, or downright disgusted, with our government right now.  Many of us worry about the state of the world: poverty, hunger, disease, terrorism, worldwide Christian persecution, abortion, attacks on marriage, attacks on the Church, the hurt our children experience, the suffering of the ones we love.  The truth of the matter is that suffering is a part of life here.  It is how God refines us in the Divine Furnace, as our recently retired priest told me in Confession, as I cried about my most recent miscarriage.  We are guaranteed to suffer in this lifetime, but we also experience tremendous glimpses of joy.  I never realized how blown away I could be by the golden sunlight illuminating my daughter’s face.  I only had to pay attention and offer my thanks to God.
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When I close my heart off to Him.  When I focus on the darkness, then I cannot find my way.  If I focus on what God is doing in my life and throughout the world, then all I see is Him.  He is who I must focus on if I am going to keep up the good fight.  He is who is going to guide my husband and me in protecting our daughter and bringing her up in the Faith.  He will be the one who will show us the way through health problems and grief.  Sometimes he has to carry us for a while before we realize He has been there all along.  As human beings, we get lost in ourselves.  Instead we must step outside of our own inner dialogue, our own pain, even our own families, and listen for the sweet whisper of Our Lord.
Have you tried writing down things that make you thankful each day?  I have a journal that I use to write down my gratitude.  Even just taking five minutes to write down a couple of things can change the course of my entire day.  Give it a try.  Offer up your thanksgiving and see how the abundant blessings flow.

Forgiveness and Abundant Blessings

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A couple of weeks ago one of my junior high students in my religious education class at church asked me an interesting question.  She wanted to know if God sometimes does not give us what we want.  I told her that sometimes he does not give us what we want because it is not what we need and sometimes gives us what we want either because it is what we need, or we may need to learn a lesson.  Yesterday, this question was answered for me.

In my previous post, I wrote about how I needed to forgive someone whom I loved long ago.  I felt God call me to write to him after four years of no communication and nearly 12 years since we last saw one another.  It is complicated story that a lot of military folks would understand, but that is neither here nor there.  I did not actually expect him to respond to my email, but he did, rather quickly, I might add.
His response taught me a few very important things.  First, it unleashed the power of forgiveness and healing across time and distance.  It showed me that in my honesty and vulnerability were both able to say what was needed.  Second, it showed me that our perceptions are not necessarily  reality.  We may not realize that people do not mean to hurt us and if we do not tell them, there can never be reconciliation.  He did not realize fully how much he had hurt me.  Third, we can love people deeply, but that does not necessarily mean that they are the right one God wants for us in the Sacrament of Marriage.  God wants us to become saints and not every person is right for fulfilling our vocations.  And we are not necessarily right for that person either.
I think that a lot of us have cared for or loved someone who did not turn out to be who we married or will marry.  Many of us, myself included, pray for things to work out with that person, but it doesn’t.  It may take some time, even decades to finally see why it did not work out.  To see that choices we made at that point, set in motion our future path.  This man and I both made that choice when he chose an overseas duty station.  It took longer for me to understand that that particular choice would impact both of us over the long term and eventually lead us to each find our proper paths in life.  His in the  military and mine with my husband and daughter.
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Even though I supported him in pursuing his dream of living in Europe, it broke my heart when he left.  I did not fully recover for a long time, even though I dated.  I wanted God to make things better, to re-unite us, but it never happened.  Some of it was pure circumstance, we just never could get to the same place, and some of it was God’s intervention.  I am sure of it.  That’s the point.  Sometimes unanswered prayers are God showing us an even greater love and path.  Sure it hurts in the process.  But, what a gift this guy was to me in those moments we had together.  He was the first to truly teach me sacrificial love.  When we are young, we tend to be impatient.  We also tend to think in the short term.  I wanted him to be the right guy, not looking at how my life would play out, or how his would either.
After I received his email.  I cried tears of joy for about an hour.  I was relieved and filled with such a deep gratitude.  I knew Our Lord was the one who had a hand in our reconciliation.  We were finally honest with one another and in doing so, we are both able to think fondly of one another and be grateful for the paths we have been given.  I was also able to apologize to him for all of my mistakes.   I had a deeper sense of love and awe for my husband.  I could see how God’s hand guided me over the last 12 years, even though it came with deep pain.  I saw how God wanted me to find my husband and He wanted to give me the tremendous gift of our daughter.  He wanted me to truly begin to understand joy and I can only do that with the right vocation.  My husband is my vocation.  So I found the right path and this man who I loved so long ago, also found his path.  It gave me great joy to know that he was safe and that he, like me, was finding his way.
Today at Mass I offered up my Mass for him.  I know that he struggles with faith and I prayed hard that he may find Christ.  I also offered up the Mass in deep gratitude for the peace and joy that came with our reconciliation.  My husband was very supportive.  Once I told him what happened he was glad that I was able to be set free and begin to understand the abundant graces that flow from forgiveness.  It is when we love as Christ loves that we are truly alive.  There are other deeper hurts that I need to forgive and this experience has revealed the graces that flow from choosing forgiveness, which is what He did on the Cross.  It is what He offers us every single time we sin.  We only have to ask for it.
So, what would I tell my student now?  It probably would not matter, because she, like I did, will want to make the mistakes and take the paths of youth.   I do not consider this man a mistake, rather a part of the journey.  Sometimes we love the wrong people and sometimes we love people who are only a stepping stone on the journey to holiness.  It is hard to let go of someone we love.  We were made for and by Love, but let go we must.  We never know what greater things God has in store for us until we let go.  I pray that, like me, you can receive and offer forgiveness and that Our Lord will give you abundant blessings in the process.
And Happy Feast of the Archangels!  It is my daughter’s big feast day.
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Forgiveness, Even Years Later

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This morning I felt called to write a letter, really an email, that I have wanted to write for about 10 years.  This person was on my mind recently because they are forever linked to my 9-11 relief work days and September can sometimes remind me of him.  I don’t mean in a longing or sinful way.  I am happily married and I have an amazing daughter.  I would not have it any other way and I no longer harbor romantic love for this person.  He just hurt me really deeply on multiple occasions over a 7 year period.  Much of that time separated by two different branches, continents, and jobs in the military.

 
Throughout my lifetime many people will hurt me.  Their impact will not be lasting and I will forget it quickly.  There are others who for whatever reason will stay with me and I must consciously choose to forgive them.  For that reason, I felt like God called me to actually write to this person and forgive them even though I have not had any contact with him in four years.
 
I know him.  He is a rather selfish person and I know that he may have never heard that he is forgiven before.  I know he has not heard it from me because we cut ties when he hurt me, yet again, a few years ago.  But, that does not change that I cared for him and it does not change the hurt I felt.  He comes to mind rarely these days, but occasionally he will in September.  I realized today that I needed to write to him and tell him what I never was able to say and to say that I forgive him.  I told him that I pray that he is happy, as happy and blessed as I am.  Really, besides saying that we forgive or choose to forgive, even if we don’t tell the person, all we can do is pray for these people.  Even in hurt, when we loved someone, we always desire the best for them.  It may take years to heal.  It is a journey.
 
I told my husband about it.  He didn’t quite understand, but we are different.  He wasn’t upset, he just moves on and would not need to write this type of email to anyone.  Don’t get me wrong, I have long moved on.  I felt called to write it for two reasons.  First, so that I can continue on my own journey of learning to forgive.  I have some other deep hurts that I need to work on that are much harder to tackle than this one.  This is a first step for me.  Second, I hope and pray that my forgiveness and honesty will help him to Christ.  He struggled a lot with faith.  I was trying to witness to the power of forgiveness and Love.
 
The thing about technology is that it keeps us in contact with people who would normally be long gone.  I am not friends on Facebook with this person, as I do not think it is appropriate for married people to be friends with previous romantic interests.  As Christians, I do think it is necessary for us to actually tell certain people that we forgive them.  Not only for their sakes, but for our own.  There is a great healing in uttering the words “I forgive you”, which is precisely why Our Lord calls us to forgive and to seek forgiveness in the Confessional.  It heals broken relationships, even if that relationship will only remain in the past.
 
Some people might think my choice strange.  But abundant blessings flowed into my heart when I hit send.  This is something that I have thought of writing for about 10 years, but never had the courage.  Perhaps because this person kept on hurting me over a 7 year period, because I let them.  It took that long for me to just completely walk away.  It was the best decision and I found the right man because of that choice.  I finally stopped comparing the men I dated to him.
 
Forgiveness is a conscious choice that we must each make in every moment of hurt.  Some things are easier to forgive than others, but forgive we must.  Is there someone or some people who you need to forgive?  Perhaps you could sit down and write them a letter.  If you cannot send it, then write it and throw it away.  The act of writing down your thoughts and feelings can set you free.  To forgive, the other person does not necessarily need to know they have been forgiven.  I have lived all over, and I do not have the contact information for every single person I have known.  Family may be harder to forgive.  The point is that we work towards that forgiveness.  Christ died on the Cross for each one of us, when we sin each and every day.  Unleash the freedom and peace of forgiveness into your own life.  Have a very blessed weekend!

Timeless Sundays

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Life gets busy.  The pace seems to be dizzying some days and weeks.  I looked at the calendar yesterday and could not believe that it is almost October.  And while the sunlight tells me it is autumn, I cannot help but wonder where summer has gone?  Did I sleep through it? Perhaps I was living in a haze of stress and to-do lists?  I always think of how we need to slow down on Sundays.  Mass is not something we check off of a list.  Now that I am teaching junior high religious education, Sunday mornings are, well, busy.

Maybe it is that I live in the South now, but I find a great deal of romance in the idea of a lazy and slow-paced Sunday.  A time for picnics on the church lawn, fishing poles, walks, or long country drives after Mass.  During the colder months, I like the idea of making a hearty meal of roast and vegetables that is topped off with one of my homemade pies.  Too bad it is more alive in my imagination than reality.
We get distracted.  There are only two weekend days and Saturday is always full of jobs around the house or activities somewhere else.  Those jobs tend to spill over into Sunday, especially during the months we are growing a garden.  We just bought our home in May, so it has been a whirl of projects and issues that come up as we get to know our house that was built in 1947.  That is old by American standards, which I always find amusing after my time living in Europe.
Speaking of Europe, while the Europeans have largely abandoned their Christian heritage and faith, they still know how to take it easy on a Sunday.  When I lived in England, I always enjoyed the slower pace.  The shops don’t open until late, if they open at all.  The pubs tend to serve one item and that was a roast with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.  It was a good day to brave the weather, or enjoy the sunshine for the two weeks a year it stayed out, and go for a country walk.  There are thousands of country trails in England.  You don’t have to worry about getting shot walking on a trail through someone’s property.  There is a serious lack of “Do not trespass” signs in that part of the world.
I need and crave timelessness.  Matthew Kelly talks about it in some of his talks.  He talks about how our relationships with people and with God thrive on timelessness.  If I could pick one love language that heals and soothes me most, it would be time.  My husband and I fell in love during months of timelessness.  We did not focus so much on the tasks we had to get done, as much as we focused on each other.  We would wander the mountains of North Carolina on a Sunday afternoon after we went to Mass together at our beautiful mountain parish.  The one we were married in.  My eyes were opened to the grandeur of autumn on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I am a native Montanan so I am used to the pine and stone of the Rocky Mountains.   I had never seen so much color explode on a mountainside before.  We found hidden waterfalls and were awe-struck by God’s creation.  But, life happens.
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We moved away from Boone two weeks after we got married.  We moved to the mountains of Southwest Virginia, where the Parkway is a good 45 minutes away rather than 10.  Phil started working.  I got pregnant with our beautiful daughter.  Parenthood began.  Our priorities shifted.  We had more to accomplish and little time to do it in.  Timelessness vanished all together.
The moments I am most at peace are when I stop and truly watch what is going on around me.  When I look at the way the wind blows through my daughter’s hair.  Or how the golden light illuminates her face.  Those times when I look in my husband’s eyes or admire his face.  Perhaps counting my gifts is what is helping me to do that more?  Looking for moments of blessing in my ordinary day.  I tend to live on autopilot way too much.  My brain is always humming with thought.  I could power an entire city with energy if we could harness my constant thought-processes.  I get lost in my day and before I know it months and years have passed.
After Mass yesterday, my husband suggested that we go look for a new truck for him.  His died completely two weeks ago, which has added to our financial and emotional stress in what has been one of the most stressful years of our lives.  It has been one thing after another: medical issues, a serious miscarriage, the near death of a friend, the sudden death of a friend, major costs on the house, and now the need for a new truck and a heating system all in the same month.
At first I was resigned to another Sunday of shopping and busyness.  We started driving around.  Looking for a cheap used pick-up is a daunting task.  It is hard to find used vehicles anymore thanks to the joke that was Cash for Clunkers.  We drove through a few car lots and then we went to buy me a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  We then found ourselves heading outside of Roanoke onto the road that leads to Bedford and Lynchburg.  It turns into a lovely country road.  And something wonderful happened.  In our process of looking for a pick up, we started a country drive just like we used to do.  Our toddler slept and I looked out the window at the green countryside that will soon be alive with fall color.  Even though we were looking for a truck, we were able to just drive and enjoy the day.  The truck became secondary.  Timelessness.
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I felt like I could breathe softer again.  I looked around me and enjoyed the moment.  I was not thinking about the bills, dishes, laundry, or to-do list for the week.  We stopped at a garage sale and found a cheap St. Francis statue.  We had been looking for one for a while, but they can be expensive.  It needs a paint job, but it was the right price for us and our garden.  We drove through historic Bedford and took our time.  And by the grace of God, we found that pick up we needed.  I knew right away it was a blessing from God.  It was the right price, a Toyota, and it was well taken care of by the owner who is now deceased.  I was at total peace with buying it for my husband.  We could pay cash for it and still afford to pay cash for our heating system.  Our savings is depleted, but our needs are met.
I want us to recapture the restfulness of Sunday.  I know that it can be a struggle.  Americans live at warp speed and it makes it difficult to slow down and keep the Sabbath.  While going to Mass is our duty and privilege, I think that God also knows that we need a break.  We need time with our families.  We need times of rest, even if it is just watching football.  We need timelessness.  I know that the number one thing that gets in the way of my prayer life is my lack of timelessness.  It is much harder for me to focus on my Bible, Rosary, Divine Office, or simple prayer when I feel like I am going to get interrupted or cannot stop thinking about what needs to get done.  All relationships need periods of freedom.  That includes most especially our relationships with God, our spouse, and our children.
One of the amazing blessings of the day was that it made me more focused on Christ, my vocation, and my prayer life.  I thought about the blessings of the day and was truly thankful.  I spent time in prayer and then I cleaned the kitchen and folded and put away laundry.  Those are tasks I usually would have left until today, but by truly resting, I felt rejuvenated and I could serve my family better. That meant that I did not start this week already feeling overwhelmed.  Do you have periods of timelessness in your life?  Make Sunday a day of rest and peace for your home.  It will bring abundant blessings to your and yours.
Some of the things that I am thankful for these days:
My bossy toddler
Wide open country lanes
The wind in my daughter’s golden hair
The way my husband’s eyes light up when he smiles
An affordable truck for my husband
Timeless Sundays
My junior high students in religious education
Michaela sitting still for most of Mass
An encouraging word from my Dominican friends
Christ helping me deal with my fears

Amazed and Thankful

 

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I know that I am doing something right in moments like the one I experienced this afternoon.  My two year old daughter came up to me and handed me a cross shaped piece of pumpkin vine.  She pointed to it and said, “Jesus”.  My heart melted and I was so proud.  These are moments that strengthen me in my vocation.  It is easy as a parent to look out at the Fallen world and feel like it is impossible to keep our children committed to Christ.  I think that Our Lord reminds me through my daughter that I must persevere and by His grace she will walk the path of holiness to Sainthood and the Beatific Vision.  What a blessing my daughter is and I am so thankful that God chose to give her to me, as unworthy as I am.  Happy Saturday!

Gratitude in a Confession

Enter into the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. + St. John Chrysostom +

Have you ever experienced the undeniable presence of Christ in Confession?  He is always there, of course.  It is not the priest who forgives our sins, but Our Lord and Savior in the Sacrament.  I go to Confession regularly.  Why?  Because I am sick and need the Divine Physician.  I quickly become burdened and weighed down by my sins. It reminds me of St. Paul, “I not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rm. 7:15). I get frustrated with myself because I am doing the same things over and over again.  I know there are things that I am addicted to.  I am not talking about just enjoying, I am addicted to them.  I know that these things are not good for me or my family, and yet I still do them.  In large part I do them because I feel empty and need a void filled.  A void that can only be filled by God.  This is how I walked into Confession this past Saturday: heavy and frustrated.

In the first place, I had to take my toddler with me because my husband was helping the Knights out with a fundraiser.  My toddler ran around the Sanctuary while I prepared for Confession.  I have to pick my battles.  I can either hold her down while she screams bloody murder, or I can let her explore a little bit.  When it came to be my turn, I took her in with me.  I laid my soul bare and confessed my sins.  My daughter climbed all over me, but for once, I was too focused to notice or even get frustrated.  The only time I got slightly annoyed was when I could not hear the priest, who I already had to focus on because he has a Nigerian accent.  What happened in that Confession left me awe-struck and thankful.

I felt so weighed down by my addictions that I felt incapable of holiness when I entered that confessional.  Instead, Christ (through the priest for any non-Catholic readers)  first asked me why I came to Confession.  And I said in all honesty, “Because I am tired of hating myself.”  Much to my surprise that was the right answer.  We then discussed a couple of my biggest addictions: pride, anger, coffee, and Facebook.  I was reminded that I am one with my husband and that pride and anger work against that unity.  Something a lot of us forget as we live out our married life.  I need a reminder often.

We then talked about my outward addictions: coffee and Facebook.  Now don’t get me wrong. Facebook and coffee are gifts that are meant to be enjoyed.  God gives us things to enjoy.  It is when we become dependent or make them gods that the problems arise.  During Confession Father asked me why I think that I need coffee?  I said to take care of my daughter because she has more energy than me.  He then told me that I don’t need coffee to take care of my daughter.  I know this to be true because I worked horrible hours on shift for 3 years while I was in the Navy and never drank coffee.  He then asked me how coffee makes me feel.  And I said it gave me energy for a while but then I crash hard around 3pm and “need” another cup.  So he then asked me what I should be drinking and I said water.  He said we have a tendency to  take things that we enjoy and turn them into needs and then they become sinful addictions.   There is nothing in this life that I should “need” besides food and water to survive.  I should not feel like I cannot function without a cup of coffee and more importantly, I should not be willing to sacrifice my principles to get a cup of coffee, which I have been doing.  It is pumpkin spice latte season, which means that I have broken my boycott with Starbuck’s to get a lot of pumpkin spice.  I knew that I was in trouble when my own principles were easily discarded.

I also mention these sins because they directly impact my family.  When I spend too much time on Facebook, it hurts my daughter and my husband.  I focus more on people I used to know than on the people God has given me right now.  It is a strange phenomenon of our age that we can focus so much energy on a virtual world and ignore the flesh and blood right next to us.  In that way I think that the Devil has taken the good that is technology and warped it into something dangerous.  My husband does not enjoy Facebook.  He does not like a lot of what his “friends” post and he knows that it sucks people in for hours on end.  He is absolutely right.  I get lonely sometimes being alone with a two year old and I allow myself to get sucked into the world of “adult” conversation on Facebook.

Coffee is also an issue because it impacts our pocketbook and my well-being.  I am an anxious and neurotic person by nature.  Drinking high amounts of caffeine is not good for my body or my mind.  But, I truly enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning.  The problem is that it is no longer a cup in the morning and it is not usually at home where it is much cheaper.  I get into phases where I get a coffee out every single day.  Within 10 days I can spend over $50 on coffee.  When I was single and working full-time that was doable.  Nowadays with a family, mortgage, vehicles dying (my husband’s truck is done), etc. it is not feasible.  No matter what, it is not good for finances, my waistline, or my health.  I said a lot of this during my Confession.  I really needed to be brutally honest with Christ and myself.  These are socially acceptable addictions and without even realizing it we can help enable each other in these addictions.

Then the moment when I knew it was Christ, not the priest, who was talking to me came.  He said, “You can do this.  You can overcome these addictions.”  Given how I felt going into the Confession that day, my ability to overcome my sins was not something I felt capable of in that moment.  And I have only written about a few of the sins I struggle with daily.  The 7 deadly sins and I are well acquainted.  However, once it was said, I felt like Christ had picked me up off of the floor, dusted me off, and said you can do this, keep going.  I will be here to help you.  I started crying tears of joy.  The gratitude I felt was overwhelming.

Confession is not truly for God.  Yes, we must seek forgiveness for our sins, but Confession is about our healing.  Sin hurts us.  Sin can kill our very souls.  This disconnects us from Christ.  We run in shame and fear.  We get frustrated and despair.  The Divine Physician knew that we need somewhere to unburden and unload our sins, to be set free from them, and strengthened by His grace for the journey.  Sin keeps us from being who God created us to be.  Sins are not a laundry list of things that keep us from enjoying life.  They are a list of things to avoid in order to become the person Christ created us to be.  Sin enslaves us.  I know this to be the case.  I went into Confession feeling like a slave.  I felt chained and it was only Christ who could break my bonds.  I left Confession set free.

Does that mean that temptation departed from me?  Absolutely not.  This is a spiritual battle that lasts a lifetime.  I still feel the tug to do this or that, but by God’s grace I am saying “no” more often.  And that is the point.  Sainthood does not come overnight.  Most of us do not have dramatic conversions.  Instead it takes us our entire lives to overcome sin.  Christ died for our sins, but it is our job to work to overcome the sins we committ in our lifetime.  He will forgive us no matter how many times we have to come back and seek that forgiveness.  As Pope Francis said recently, “Never forget this:  The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us.  It is we who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

A few more things to be thankful for today:

–All the new words my daughter is learning

–Writing

–My husband working hard for us today and helping out the Knights after a long day of work

–My friend Ann watching Michaela for a couple of hours so I can attend a talk at church

–Second to last hormone blood draw is finished

–Cooler days

–Pumpkin spice bread