A Very Brief Reflection on Motherhood

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There are moments, and they are fleeting, when my daughter places her hand on my face and looks into my eyes with her deep, beautiful eyes and asks me if I am ok, or she tells me she loves me, or she looks at me knowingly with a slight smile across her lips and says nothing. It is those moments when I am struck with awe. It is then that she appears, and is, wiser than I am. She reaches deep into the moment and pulls me into it with her. My hurried, busy, angst ridden self and then I am swimming deep in a pool that is deeper than her. I see the love of the Blessed Trinity in her eyes. And so it is, the little children who have it figured out, while I flounder and fall. Constantly trying to get back up again. She knows. I see it in her eyes.

Giving Up Coffee, Again

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So here’s the thing, I love coffee.  Okay, maybe I like the sugar, cream, and syrups that make coffee taste good to me.  I am not a black coffee drinker.  I need sugar and a flavored creamer, or better yet, a pumpkin spice latte, or white chocolate mocha to really enjoy coffee.  My addiction to coffee started slowly in the last year I was in the  Navy.  I would make a couple of trips to Starbuck’s a week.  It was funny that I made it through three years of miserable shift work without drinking coffee, but then, I was introduced to the gingerbread latte and it all went downhill from there.  In my world whomever came up with these delicious, creamy, holidays in a cup, is either the greatest person in the world, or the worst.  Not really, but my addiction thinks so.

 
I really started drinking a lot of coffee when my daughter was born.  I mean, come on, no sleep and I can have an immediate energy boost in a cup? Yes, please.  It started with one cup, that I would have to re-heat over and over again because I had an infant to care for.  Then it became two.  My problem is that coffee is not good for me.  I am a neurotic person by nature and the last thing I need is lots of caffeine coursing through my veins.  Thanks to my doctor, we now know major hormone deficiencies are a reason for these issues, that and 9-11 and some other things.  
 
I have decided that I need to work on giving up coffee all together, again.  I have battled this for years now.  But, my sanity, our pocketbook, my family, and my waistline all need me to quit.  I have noticed that when I drink regular coffee, non-espresso, I feel like I am shaking all over and my heart is pounding.  That is not a good physiological response to something.  Oh, you’re an anxious person by nature, here drink this cup that will cause you to spin into orbit.  Espresso drinks are not as bad, but I still notice a change in my body, and its not just my weight.
 
When something is so addictive that you think about your next cup or try to find the money somewhere to buy a cup, it has become sinful.  I don’t think all coffee drinkers are sinning, so please do not misunderstand me.  For me personally, I have crossed into the line of “false gods” and sinful addictions.  My husband sees it and I see it.  Truth be told, this gets harder for me to battle when I have to take anti-depressants.  I had to go on Prozac again, but hopefully hormone injections will make that a non-issue very soon.  Unfortunately, all the medical community knows to do with women like me is throw a pill at me and not see if something might be wrong.  Chemical imbalance, indeed.  Thank God for NaPro!!!  You will probably hear that a ton from me.
 
Today I am starting to detox from coffee, for the 353rd time, give or take a few.  I woke up and drank a glass of water and then proceeded to eat four rice crispy treats.  It’s a process.
 
I am thankful that we are Catholic.  We have religious art, prayer cards, Bibles, theology books, etc. strewn all over the house.  That means when I start struggling with temptation I have reminders.  I don’t always listen, but it is a big help for me.  I truly believe that some things have to be cut out of us by “prayer and fasting” and this may seem silly, but it has become that imbedded into my routine.  I need a new habit, hence the drinking a glass of water when I get out of bed.  The rice crispy part probably won’t be a part of my new habit.
 
This process is teaching me a lot about the  nature of sin.  We may desire the good, but we are weak and need Christ to help us.  Even though this may seem small to society at large, it is a great battle within me.  It is a fight to become who God created me to be and that means working to prune those things out of my life that are not good for me.  Even though I greatly enjoy coffee, I know deep down that it is not good for me.  So today is day one and I hope and pray to make it stick this time and if I don’t, I will pray that Our Lord picks me up and we keep going.

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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