Saturday, September 28, 2013

Homecoming 2013!

This weekend is Homecoming weekend in the Climax-Scotts area in SO many ways, and I'm being very blessed by each and every one!  For starters, all week long, my kids have been preparing for the big Homecoming festivities!  Floats were built.  Costumes were selected so that Isaac could be a cheerleader for his Senior Girl's Powder puff football team.  Dresses were purchased.  Shirts were ironed.  Music was practiced for Harriett's feature in the Michael Jackson song "Bad" at the Homecoming halftime show!  Much preparation was made for this wonderful, busy week that will all culminate in tonight's Homecoming Dance.  
So why do they call it Homecoming when I mostly spend every waking moment transporting high school kids hither, tither and yon?  I did spend more time 'coming home' because I spent a lot of time not BEING home! Well this weekend, some people I love are celebrating REAL homecomings.  Allow me to share.

Cousin Joe is getting married today to his sweetheart, Jenny.  Marriage is the first step in creating a new family, and a new home within each other's hearts.  Forever more they will be able to see each other or even just think of each other, and know where they belong.  My prayer for them is that they will build that marriage so that wherever they are, no matter WHERE they live, together they are always "home".

Another friend will say goodbye to her grandfather this weekend.  He has gone home to be with the Lord.  His work here is done, and it was his time to say goodbye.  Sadly, I don't believe this friend got to say goodbye.  She has very few memories of her grandfather.  Although he has the joy of going home, she missed out on the opportunity to really get to know who he was, or what he cared about.  How sad that he took that with him. Maybe HIS Homecoming should be a reminder to us all not to be selfish with the gifts God gives us, and to share ourselves with each other.  Mend the fences.  Make amends, before it ends in regrets and missed opportunities.

There is another Homecoming this weekend, I hope.  If his last x-ray looked good, my friend's husband will be coming home from the Cardiac floor, sporting his new Aortic Valve that was replaced this week.  What an amazing Homecoming that will be.  I looked on as his son was crowned Homecoming King, and rightly so, as he is celebrating his father coming home today.  My Isaac played football with the King in the big game last night.  He told me that after King Sam scored, he held up the ball and said,"this one's for you, Dad!" What a nice kid.  What a nice family.  What a beautiful example of faith in God that all would be well.

So tomorrow is Sunday.  I will be celebrating my own Homecoming as I go 'home' to my Father's house and spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I will be united with my beloved Savior in the Eucharist, and will share my genetic family with my spiritual family.  I will not be wearing sequins (probably) and I don't think a float will be required.  I will not be making reservations, but I will definitely be there!  I'll work my hardest for the home team, and I will bask in the company of all who have gone before me and the thought of all those that will follow.

Isn't that kind of what Homecoming is about?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Mom Eyes"

I am blessed to work with some pretty amazing educators. Each one of us brings something a little different to the party, and somehow it just works.  Today, I walked into class to find a hug-fest going on.  Kids were lined up to hug their teacher.  I assure you that only school-appropriate hugs were exchanged in the presence of other adults, who were also being hugged by a hug-crazed room full of Kindergartners! At the conclusion of this hug-mania, I heard her say, "this is the best fake-Mom hug I can give you. Now let's read the story."

The little girl whose dilemma started the hugging needed a bit of Mom-ness.  The teacher told her that since I have so many kids, I have Mom-Eyes that can see when ice (or an ambulance) are needed, or if just a quick hug can fix it.  You'll be glad to hear that she is expected to make a full recovery from a very VERY minor bump she received yesterday.  I sent her back to class, but left school thinking about my Mom-Eyes.

I've been a Mom for most of my life.  The Mom-Eyes developed without notice.  I wasn't even aware that I had them until my teacher pointed them out.  Now that she mentioned it, I can see how they change my vision.   Every child is a son or daughter.  Maybe not mine, but I can imagine they are the sparkle in someones eye.  They are the reason someone wants to be a better person.  At least they should be.  The saddest time to HAVE Mom-Eyes is when you see a parent without them.  Some parents are just too busy to see that they're missing out on the best part of parenthood: the kid!

Sometimes the Mom-Eyes see differently than the rest of the world.   The world may see a little kid crying loudly (almost goat-like) sobbing, drooling, with tears pouring down his sweet little face. "Awww.  Poor little guy! Let's give him what he wants!"  The world may think that.  My Mom-Eyes have seen this performance enough times to know better.  If I give in, the waterworks stop and the "Ha, I win!" smirk is on his dear little face.  Oh no! I will tell this child to follow the direction or there will be a consequence that he may not like.  Then I will remind the child that he is choosing to lose out on any chance of receiving the fussed-over item.  I am not being sweet during this time, but I AM being loving.  Should I allow this kid to grow up thinking that stomping and storming and bawling gets him what he wants? I am truly sorry that he made this choice, but a lesson learned when he's little may save him the pain of jail time later.

Mom-eyes are eyes of love, but sometimes they cloud what's real.  For example, it's hard to see your son graduate high school when you really can only see him as that awkward 12 year old version of himself when he's still mostly boy, but trying so hard to fit into a manly body.  It's hard to trust that young men will treat your daughters with good and pure motives when you see that the Lord has blessed them with beauty. I see her.  She is at the same time, my baby girl and a grown woman, and she's counting on me to be her example. My Mom-Eyes see me wishing I had the perfect words for them, and failing at being everything they need.  Maybe that's not my place.  Maybe my place is only to love them and do my best.  

My dear teacher/friend/work-wife called her hugs "fake-mom hugs", and it is true that she has not yet been blessed with a child of her own.  Her time will come. I pray that she will be blessed with her own children, and her own Mom-Eyes, and I hope it is everything she ever dreamed it would be! For now, there's nothing fake about it.  She is truly Mother to the children in her class during the school hours (and frequently long after!)  She cares for their needs, listens to their stories, works diligently to help them grow smarter and stronger and more capable every day.  She teaches them not only how to read and write, but encourages them to imagine and wonder.  She shows them by her own example how to appreciate and value every member of our classroom family. That sounds an awful lot like Mom behavior.  Maybe Teacher-Eyes (really GOOD Teacher-Eyes) are not so different from Mom-Eyes.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The View from THIS Shoe

I watched Sylvia get ready for picture day, and noticed that where my toddler used to be, a lovely, confident young lady now stands. At a moment's notice, she can be ready to perform a world class dance recital...or gymnastics...or a dog show...or maybe perform the song she's just written.  You can't always tell about her, but there's usually a performance being planned.
I worried for a minute about who Simon should stay with while I took Harriett to look for a dress for her Freshman Homecoming Dance.  I had a moment when he told me he'd like to stay home alone.  He's old enough to babysit, not NEED a babysitter.  He's totally in Jr. High, and one of the most responsible kids I've ever met.  I think he's got this.

That's right.  I said Harriett's FRESHMAN Homecoming Dance.  What happened to my little shy curly-haired girl with the skull do-rag and the princess shirt that made the biker guys melt?  I'll tell you what happened.  She tried on a dress that accentuated her beautiful assets, and I was forced to face the truth.  My baby girl is a beautiful young woman!  She's growing up!  It's an epidemic!  They're ALL doing it!  

Everyone except me! I'm not getting any more grown, but I might be mellowing with age.

I've learned to let Lydia blow her stack a little when she's upset.  When she's rightfully angry it's important for her to feel it and own it.  I love it when she shares her thoughts with me.  I love that she accepts my apologies when I have wronged her, and that she is quick to apologize when she is in the wrong.  That little bitty one who challenged me so much as a teeny tiny toddler has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, (tall) strong young woman.  I never knew what a blessing daughters would be.    

Then there are my big boys.  (Yep, I'm crying tears of joy.)

Isaac is a senior.  I see a man where Buzz Lightyear's biggest fan used to be.  He lives in the same skin.  He shares the same DNA.  He still loves to hug his Mom until he hears her bones crack. He's home now, but it won't be long until he'll be setting his sights "To infinity...and beyond!" I'm not ready.  The good news is that I don't have to be ready today.  He's supposed to be walking the dog, but I suspect he's really sneaking spoonfulls of Nutella.  They each have things they do that they think I don't know is them.  I am SO on to you!

I will miss this someday.    

Like the way I miss the kitchen drawers and cabinets ALWAYS being pushed in and fully closed.  This was something Spencer excelled at!  AND babysitting.  AND being willing to shed his own blood to protect his sister from a broken china doll (even though it almost cost him the use of his pinky!)   Spencer has been the quiet partner in my life for a really long time. There were so many times he was just "there" and his presence was calming and reassuring to me.  We used to watch Graham Kerr's cooking show together while we had quiet rest time on the couch.  Now he's in Afghanistan, and I believe he's doing okay.  But I miss those days.  I miss those times.

Every day at 2 o'clock has been naptime for as long as I can remember.  Every day, I can tell when it's nearly two as my head fills with sleepiness, and the memory of snuggling my unwilling "I'm not tired, Mom" nap-protester until we were both sound asleep on the couch.

Not long ago I was in Alabama, watching my sweet little boy (now a grown man with 2 sweet little cherubs of his own) putting his own children down for a rest.  He talks to them and plays with them and loves them so much.  He's their protector, and then he's the monster chasing them around the room, and then the hero that rescues them and makes them feel safe.  I tried so hard to be that for him.  He was my very first kid, and I was so young when he was born.  I didn't know how to be a Mom yet, but I knew I loved this kid with my whole heart, and every choice was an attempt to honor that.

And God blessed me over and over and over, with the best blessings I could ever ask for! With every new person he added to my heart, he allowed it to stretch and grow and make room for lots more love.

That's what I see when I look out from my shoe, that houses so many children I scarcely know what to do.  I see my life's work.  I see my mission and ministry.  I see my children, and the blessings they bring to me and so many others.

I see Love.          

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sharing a Drink

What am I DOING?

I was thinking this thought as I held the golden cup.  I thought that as I held the cup in front of a young lady and reaffirmed for her what the cup contained: "The Blood of Christ".  She responded, "Amen." The same as millions of Catholics would worldwide on that same Sunday, and have for centuries.  It's the same thing I have done myself, almost every Sunday since I was in the second grade.  (With the exception of a brief period of years when I was very lost.)

What was I doing?  I've never been on this side of the cup!  I am so completely NOT WORTHY to hold the cup that contains the blood of my Savior.  I am participating in the most beautiful and profound giving of gifts that Christ ever gave and I am both exhilarated and grossly aware of my unworthiness.  I truly am a dirty rotten sinner.  Do I really belong here?  I'm no Peter, but is this how he felt? Is this how ALL the disciples felt in that upper room on Passover?      

My priest asked me if I would consider becoming what the Church refers to as an "Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist".  An "ordinary" minister of the Eucharist would be a priest or deacon.  This IS their day job.  Even if they do it every single day, I pray it is never really ordinary for them.  The day that it doesn't really matter to you that you are holding the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our blessed Lord and Savior is the day you need to go on retreat and pray for renewal!  I admit, the title sounds like a superhero, and I DO wish I was truly extraordinary.  I just wasn't sure I could make it through this blessed task without weeping.  I frequently cry during Communion when I am struck by the truth of what is happening. I got trained anyway.  Father Chris has faith in me. I respect (and occasionally question) his confidence in me.  

  Earlier that day, I was teaching my Religious Ed class, and we spoke briefly about what a disciple is.  A Christian disciple is someone called to share Christ with those God puts in their path.  Share the Love!  Share the peace!  That's what we are called to do!  Before today, I have never done this so literally. I have never before looked someone in the eye and said (in essence) "Have a drink.  Drink richly of the covenant Jesus made with us all before his death on the cross.  Do this in memory of Him, WITH ME! Drink and be made whole.  Drink of the Spirit that renews and refreshes the soul, and heals the body and calms the mind.  Drink of the blood of the sacrifice to end all sacrifices!  Drink Liquid Love, and let the truth of it enter every cell of your being and make you ONE with the Creator, through the love of His Son!"  And they each respond with a humble, "Amen." Which means, "Big Fat Yes to all that."

It's a good thing no one asked me to write the words for Communion.  It would take a lot longer, and we'd need a LOT more cups, because I nearly cried when my cup ran out. I could have shared Jesus for the rest of the day.  I'm hooked.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I think I may be a disciple of Christ.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


We are the bride of Christ, therefore, I am the bride of her Son.  

I know this son to be precious to her heart.  Her beloved.   Her reason for being.  She held him in her womb, and her arms, and treasures him in her heart. They have a bond I will never be a part of.  Yet he has chosen me, US, to be his bride, and the wonder of this is not lost on me.

I wonder how she sees me.

I know I can never be worthy of the love of her son.  He's such an amazing man of honor and faith.  I am like the lost stray puppy he has taken in, and I wonder if that's what she sees when she looks at me.  I wonder if she sees the muddy messes I have rolled around in.  I wonder if she notices where my ribs stick out from lack of nutrition from feeding on the stuff of this world, instead of from the Word of God.  I'm certain she envisioned some beautiful creature that was filled with grace and compassion, not this imperfect, broken, common woman I know myself to be.  I wonder if she had hoped for someone smarter, a better mother, a better homemaker.  I'm stubborn and hard to get along with.  I repeat my mistakes.  I am not the woman every Jewish mother has in mind.  

Yet, here I am.  Her daughter-in-law.

I have a deep respect for His mother. She may have initially had fears about this bride's ability to care for her son in a way he deserves, but she knows how deeply I love him.  She is aware of my quirks and weaknesses, but she sees how his love for me (and our love for each other) fixes everything.  She trusts her son and his ability to see inside the hearts of those he loves and see their potential.  She knows his choice is always the right one.  Even when it hurts her. Even to the Cross. Even when it becomes a sword, piercing her own heart.  

Yet, sometimes I hold her at a distance.  My fear of her disapproval makes me put up a shield to protect myself, and now I realize that this is only hurting me. I realize that she loves me because of her son.  He has given her to me as a mother of my own, and I long to grow so close that we drop the "in-law" at the end, and I can call her "Mother".

Mother Mary.

She only wants her son to be loved and valued and seen for the treasure he is.  That's all she's ever wanted.  That's what every mother-in-law wants.  Why would Mary be any different?  She only wants us to love him like he loves us, his Church.  His Bride.  His chosen Beloved.