Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Have a piece over at the Register Today

I know blogging has been light, however, I do have a piece over at the National Catholic Register.

Please share this book review so that more people discover this saint's wonderful writings as translated by Victoria Schneider.  I have a link to Scepter Press if you'd like to purchase the book, The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle, Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia.  I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Because the Schedule is Driving Me Batty

Today, we had summer school I, summer school II, pick up from Summer School 1, Pick up from Summer School II, drop off for Driver's Ed.  Drop off for Conditioning.  Pick up from Driver's Ed.  Pick up from Conditioning. Drop child off at the Metro.  Drop kid off at the gym (note, not me), and later, pick up kid from gym, and later still, pick up kid from metro.   My youngest son's favorite movie?  Cars, Cars 2 and Cars 3.  The kids' favorite video game?  Mario Kart.  For someone who doesn't Uber, I spend a lot of time playing Taxi. 

This mind you, does not exclude the time at home spent folding laundry, sweeping, organizing paperwork, cleaning the kitchen, cooking meals and loading and unloading the dishwasher.

I also spent a load of time putting away books like a mousy librarian. 

I decided, this won't do.

So tomorrow, I'm taking a different tack.   I'm wearing all black. I'm going insist other people drive and cook and clean.  I'm only going to work at night.



I'm posting a note for them tomorrow on the fridge. 

Dear Children,

If you are in crisis. If there's a need.  You should wait until nightfall and go out with a flashlight and construction paper and signal this:

 Before signalling, understand BatMom will handle things differently than ordinary mom. 

For example: 

If you take your sister's cookie, I will make you return said cookie, or if it has been consumed, BatMom will make you clean  your sister's room and take her out for ice cream.  The difference between Mom and Batmom? Batmom will talk in a low gravely voice and wear a cape.   It makes being a Mom cool. 

If you fight with your brother over the television/Wii/DS/Switch/whatever it is, Mom would separate you and take away the electronics.   Batmom will separate you, take away the electronics, and tell you no electronics until you read a book and give you both three chapter books to choose from.   Why?  Because I'm Batmom. 

If you turn on the electronics after Batmom declares otherwise, Batmom will using a Batmom voice, challenge you to a waterballon fight outside.   Batmom knows, you don't mix electronics with water, so it will get you away from the stupid inducing machines.    Batmom is also a better shot than regular Mom. 

I still have to do the horrendous schedule.  But I bet if I slap a few bats on the outside of the car, and it won't be quite so boring. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Fruit We Should Be Serving...

Early in his papacy, Pope Francis proclaimed the Year of Mercy from December 8th, 2015 to November 16,2016.  I’m wondering if he’d consider a Year of Mercy Part Two, because I’m not sure the first one took.

First, a confession.  I am a terrible sport in games.  I struggle with getting irritated when I play poorly, which makes me play even more poorly.  I get rattled, and I forget in those moments, I'm playing to play, not to win.  It is a source of constant frustration to me even if I'm swallowing it, because it robs me of the pleasure I sought from spending time with my family playing. I've prayed, confessed, wrestled with this most of my adult life.  I've read articles, I've tried to remain detached, and I've considered simply not playing to avoid temptation.  Instead, I've opted to have my family remind me over and over again when that particular demon flares up, "You're playing to play."  in one way or another.  Sometimes it involves stepping on my foot under the table.  I consider such steps, a good corrective mercy by them, which I deserve. 

So back to the issue that's bugging me today. 

Why hasn’t the New Evangelization worked?  

There’s loads of energy being spent on radio, online, newspapers, television, on evangelization and what isn’t being seen, is the building of community.  There are lots (Thank God) of individual conversions taking place, giving witness, but there isn’t a sense of a community being formed by all this work.  Our nation feels fractured and broken as never before, both inside and outside of the Church, which left me with a nagging question.

Why hasn’t the New Evangelization worked?  

People are writing. People are reading. People are praying. There are email chains of novenas and podcasts on scripture, blogs, videos, great lectures on the catechism, all at our fingertips. Where is the fruit? 

People are doing all these things and while there are moments, there is not a collective weight, a visible sign to the outside world of this internal reality of being the Body of Christ. In the same way, we all know there’s all this energy directed at serving the poor, providing for material needs in countless places, through soup kitchens and pantry programs, through shelters and job training and all the very good good things provided through the Church and her charities because people believe in the teachings of the Church, however, there is not a joy manifested to the world, only more need.   

In the same way, there are thousands of Catholic schools that provide education in both the academic and spiritual realm.  The community, on both a macro and micro level which should be the Body of Christ however, remains somehow, not fully engaged. 

Online, it's easy to stumble into places where people fight over what the Pope says, what the Pope means, and whether to follow him or fight him is the correct manifestation of living the faith.  Those same people cry out for the excommunication of those who disagree. 

There are fiefdoms within parishes, cliques, serious schisms between those who favor one ministry over another, and out and out hostility over issues both discreet (what type of music is played) and profound, (actual arguments about doctrine) which keep all of us from being Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  The fights in the parishes, online, and throughout the nation seem to go on without end, and with all the time, a dark joy from their perpetual spitting and spinning. The spirit of the age is distrust, deny, dismiss, and destroy, the very opposite of what Christ calls all of us to as individuals and as His body.  

My thoughts I thought perhaps too dark, so I turned to the scripture for the mass of the day.  On July 23, 2018 and the readings involved Micah, Chapter 6, Psalm 50 and from the Gospel, Matthew Chapter 12, versus 38-42 where Jesus says to the scribes and Pharisees, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the Prophet….”  

That didn’t help.
We know what doesn’t work; excessive focus on doctrine, excessive focus on service, excessive focus on art work, group projects, group prayer, individual prayer, one way, a thousand ways, ground up, top down, systemic scaffolding of instruction, everything we’ve tried. Despite all wanting theoretically to achieve the same thing through different means, we keep stepping on each other's toes. 

The only answer to the angry spirit of the age, is to be asking each other, to please step on our toes when we take too much of a lead.  The answer to my problem, humility. The answer to the bigger problem, is the same thing.  Offer Mercy.  Ask Forgiveness.  No quid pro quo.   Offer mercy everywhere there is anger.  Ask for forgiveness whether it is given or not.  These are the salves that will lead us to salvation.  They are the fruit we should be offering if we want the coming age to be one of something other than a nation of angry islands, all screaming for someone else to be punished.   

Elizabeth Scalia wrote at Word on Fire about The Anti-Christ Arriving in a World Without Mercy," and showed a picture of a wolf.  If we want a world not peopled by wolves, we must fight the Anti-Christ with the one thing the Devil cannot abide, love; love manifested in acts of mercy, and sublimation of ourselves.  

The early prophets all preached essentially the same thing, (however unwillingly at times), as the early apostles.  “Repent and believe.”   We must do the same thing.   It’s both a universal and individual call. 
Christ tells us, over and over again He is the way, the truth and the light. Come to Him ourselves, and invite others.

The question I think for many, is how do we do this?  How do we know we are doing it?  How do we know if we are engaged in true acts of service, true acts of generosity, truly doing little things with great love? 

Answer: If we stop trying to win.  If we stop trying to take credit.  If we stop trying to prove we’re right, or better, or more worthy or smarter or more informed or more whatever, and simply serve. Or, as I told my children to remind me, play to play. 

Put God first, trust God.  Put Christ first.  Trust Christ. Spend time with Christ, and Christ will order each of our souls so that eventually willingly, we will put ourselves last, so more people can encounter Christ.

I'm going to go ask my kids if they want to play a game with me.      

Friday, July 20, 2018

At the Register Today

This week, practice asking God, "What do you want me to do?" and stand back to hear Him speak.  Every once in a while I remember, this relationship is a two way thing, and not all about me and my wants, and it is in that rare moment when I stop talking, that God answers. 

As such, I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, "We Have Been Given Freedom in Order to Really Love God." Memo to the children, thanks for the inspiration.  Back to writing...

The Unexpected Break in the Blogging...

This week, my computer died.  So here's link ups to the past week's work.  Will get back to posting and writing now.   This doesn't mean I haven't been busy. 

This week:

Leticia Velasquez invited me on her WCAT radio show, Living the Gospel Life. We had a great time swapping stories about our children who have Down Syndrome, and the Gospel of Life.

Here's this week's Small Success Thursday post as well.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Over at Aleteia Today

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to break into new markets, and shore up my work at older ones.  Here's a piece I wrote for Aleteia on 10 Easy Ways to Create Summer Memories.  Going out today to play with them. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Over at the Catholic Exchange today...

Something new for you.  I've been published for the first time over at the Catholic Exchange.  Here's my first piece, The Unexpected Graces of Offering Dailly Prayers for Others.  Please go take a look, and share if you like it.  Thank you!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Small Success Thursday

Hey, I'm posting on Thursday...about Small Success Thursday.   As a bonus, I can report this is day seven of willingly submitting myself, or submitting my will, to exercise. Running Downhill.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

At the Register

After a long hiatus, (a week), I'm hitting the hey, I'm a writer who sometimes gets published trail again.   My latest is inspired by real life. Your teens will always be your babies.  It's true.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Ten, No, Twelve Stages of Writing a Column*

*Not inspired in any way whatsoever by real life. Any similarities to the writing process for anyone (living or dead) is purely coincidental.  Really. 

12) I have an idea. Oh. That would make a good column. I should write it down. 
11) Writes it down. Oh, and I should add that and that and maybe tie in this...--Good idea brain.  Writes down more.  Wait...developing it too much before I get to the computer will kill it. 
10) Holds rest of ideas in brain but fears incontinence of brain.  Hold it. Hold it. Hold it until I can get to a keyboard.
9) Gets to Keyboard.
8) Where the hell did it all go?  How did I lose it? It was all so crystal clear, it was perfect, funny, urbane, and now it's gone! 
7) Self medicates --depending upon who you are, chocolate, surfing the net, alcohol, binge watching a series you've already seen.
6) Sits back down at keyboard, looks at notes. 
5) This is garbage. It's giberish. Why didn't I write more of it down? Why did I think fleshing it out more would hurt my ability to write it later? 
4) Looks at blank page.  I guess I should write something.
3) Writes something.
2) Rereads what's written and grieves.  It could have been so much more. It could have been the break thru piece, the one, the one everyone shares, the one that would have put me on the map as a writer. 
1) Pushes send/publishes anyway.   

Celebrate by returning to self medication.    Repeat tomorrow, or later today if inspiration strikes and you make it to the computer in time. 

*Editor's note: Mom, this is not how I do things.  Really.   I promise. 
(I eat the chocolate first). 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It's My Birthday

Hello everyone. 

It's July 3rd and I'm fifty-two.

Part of enjoying the birthday is counting 52 blessings and/or big events from the past 52 years.

1966  Born...and survived it.  Yay!
1967  Got to come home from the hospital. Yay!
1968  Started talking.  Never stopped.
1969  Became a big sister.
1970  Remember going to the Neuman Center, and mass.
1971  Became a big sister again.
1972  Learned to rollerskate.
1973  Took trampoline lessons.
1974  Had my tracheostomy removed.
1975  Learned to swim.
1976  Remember going to DC, and watching the fireworks on the lawn.
1977  Saw Starwars
1978 My sister was born.
1979 Our house flooded, but we thought it was kind of cool, because we saw fish swimming in the kitchen. 
1980 Made the track team. Ran in the 1320.
1981 Started high school.
1982 Principal tapped me to be a journalist/cartoonist
1983 Got a 4.0 for the first time.
1984 Graduated from High School
1985 Met one of my best friends, in line for getting rooms.
1986 Volunteered for Logan Center, became interested in Special Education
1987 Applied to and got a full ride for graduate school.
1988 Graduated from Saint Mary's College
1989 Moved to Boston to start (and finish) master's.
1990 Got Married.
1991 Moved to Houston.
1992 Found out we'd be parents in the next year.
1993 Became a stay at home mom with our son.
1994 Got into graduate school for the University of Texas
1995 Moved to Maryland
1996 Had our first daughter.
1997 Had our second daughter.
1998 Started volunteering at the kids' school.
1999 Had our second son.
2000 Was asked to write for school.
2001 September 11th.
2002 Daughter was born.
2003 First miscarry.
2004 Son was born.
2005 Daughter was born
2006 State agrees to take our house and help us move.
2007 Daughter was born.
2008 Son was born and survived surgery.
2009 Second miscarriage.
2010 Third miscarriage.
2011 Youngest daughter is born. 
2012 All twelve of us go to Texas for my brother's wedding.
2013 Book published.
2014 Dad died.
2015  Went to North Carolina and hooked a ray.
2016 Daughter graduated from high school and started at the college I attended.
2017  Got certified as a teacher again.
2018  Son graduates from high school.

All of which is to say, I've been more than blessed these 18,993 days. I can't wait to see what the next 18,993 days hold. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

What to Do?

There's an issue when you write things for publication.  Read the comments.  Don't read the comments.  I have learned, no matter how hard I try, if I read the comments, my ego shall be bruised.  My brain will be frustrated, and my writer's heart will want to try and write again to explain whatever it is. 

However ignoring what is written means I don't learn what I need to know to grow as a writer. 

It's a quandry, because when you look at comments, sometimes you don't know where to begin or how.   What you wrote, isn't received in the spirit in which it is given, and there are as many arm chair editors as there are legitimate discussions being raised as a result of an article as there are arguments over interpretations.  It's overwhelming and I'm not sure how to manage it.  I know the first rule, don't go into the com boxes. 

It's the second rule I don't know.  When to respond possibly with a column and when to let it go. 

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!