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Advent Hope – Day #4 – Forever Learning

December 2, 2015

GOD IS GOOD! 

Why? I’ll tell you one of an infinite number of ways He shows me this everyday.

Four weeks ago, I picked up one of our littles and she went limp in protest of what was sure to be a repeated consequence. In a split second, doing a move (simply picking her up off the floor) I’d done a zillion times before, I was significantly injured. Pain shot up my spine, I lost my breath, and I was almost completely paralyzed in fear. I knew I couldn’t really stand. I couldn’t walk. I for sure wasn’t going to be able to get off the floor if I chose to just fall. What do I do? I opted to steady myself against the wall and just breath through it. I’ve had practice with lamase breathing, right? Thankfully, standing seemed to be the key, but holy cow. After several days of crazy tough pain, not constant, but definitely intense when I did certain things, I was able to isolate the pain to my tailbone. Great. That’s never easy to heal and the ache was so far inside, nothing seemed to really ease it. Couple that with the shooting pain up my back, and the dull ache through the back of my left thigh, and I was losing my mind. 

I learned not to sit for very long, and to hold my breath when I stood up. I always walked gingerly in case my back didn’t aupport my torso with the next step, and for goodness sake, never move the mid-section as that electrifying pain was sure to return. The house was a mess, the babies didn’t really understand, the big kids were slacking in school, and I was grumpy. It’s just not the ideal way, right?

Desperate for some normalcy and feeling like I was at least a bit more mobile, I asked Clare’s friend to come over for a few hours. God is so good. After suffering for two weeks, He sends the little girl’s aunt to my rescue. She happened to be visiting from the northwest and had knowledge of chiropractic care and sports therapy, and deep tissue massage. Oh my. When God brings a literal “savior” directly to your door, even I can see the wisdom in listening. She was so very kind to extend to me her knowledge and skill, and laying on my dining room floor, with children rambunctiously playing all around us, she stretched certain areas and had a bit of relief. She offered me another hour session at her sister’s house that night. Clare was ecstatic – two play dates in the same day! 

Holy cow. This type of massage is not for the weak. Wow. She surely found every knot I had ever managed to create, and released it. I just kept saying, “God you surely sent her. Guide this path as it might be the craziest thing I’ve ever hastily agreed to do.” I don’t typically make fast decisions, nor try new things without considering the hell out of it. Desperation was a big motivator in this case. 

At any rate, I’m certain this little angel in disguise, started both physically and mentally my healing process. She will always be a true gift to me, and of course her sweet sister and niece are already counted among our dear homeschooling friends! God is good right?

This tiny woman with a huge heart and a great deal of strength coached me on the benefits of a good chiropractic adjustment and how to find a credible Doctor. She also lit the fire under me to get an appointment the very next day. 

Again, God has blessed me beyond imagining as I have continued to say yes a hundred times over in this journey of healing. Nothing in this chiropractic treatment plan is familiar to me, and yet Dr. Annette has spoken truths that even I can understand as she’s taken great care to justify both a reasonable diagnosis and treatment plan. Golly she’s been patient with me.  

Satan wants desperately for me to doubt. It’s always the best way to get me to change course. I’m forever grateful for this good doc’s wisdom and life experience to coach me through the pain, to remind me these are intensely strong core muscles and it is going to take some time to make them happy again, and that it will work. Be patient. Rest. Let your body learn not to fight itself to stay in balance.

Hhhmmmm. Think there is some divine wisdom there? How many other areas in my life do I need to let go of this “super woman” battle I insist upon fighting?

So? What now?

After five adjustments, I am dancing with joy. I’m out of pain, I’m progressing and getting stronger in ways that even I can understand, and I’m eternally grateful to have knowledge I didn’t previously possess. God is so good to give us the intricacies of our human body. I am grateful to understand that in ways I could never have seen without this crazy injury and alternative treatment.

So. Why did I say all of this? Well I’m not sure really. I guess I could have just stayed with God is good, and closed the post in the first sentence. However, there’s much to learn from this month of November. 

Taking care of me is honoring both God and my family.

Pain is a powerfully humbling force.

Friends are a true gift. Profoundly really.

Small yeses can become life-changing moments.

When HOPE is sometimes all you have, hold on tight. (Guess the name of this amazing woman brought to my literal doorstep! God is truly amazing.

Thank you Melody for sharing your own love and sister, Hope, with me. Thank you Hope for blessing me more than you knew. God you are awesome!

Continue to hold on to whatever HOPE is on your horizon! 

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Advent Hope – Day #3 – Teaching & Women

December 1, 2015

Look at this. I’m hanging in there with this little blogging commitment, and it is only 10:30 tonight, not 11:30 p.m. like last night. Yea! (To be fair, I’m blogging instead of helping my husband fold laundry. So….for the record, I am incredibly thankful for him. Although, tonight’s post is not all about him. His turn will come, I promise. Just know that I haven’t totally neglected my real hierarchy of gratitude. He is very often at the top. Wink. Wink.)

It has been such a very full day today.

Thankfully, I think the morning’s discipline was relevant and fully understood. Now, tomorrow I’ll get a chance to speak to the other teacher involved and get her feedback, but I’m proud of our “unnamed” child for stepping up today. We have a way to go in this lifelong journey of managing difficulties, but my prayer remains and I hold on to the HOPE of Divine guidance to overflow my own imperfections as parent, teacher, and formator. It’s daunting without HOPE. I choose to hold on to the promises given us and the HOPE that all faithfulness will be rewarded, on all our parts!

I had an incredible woman of God mentor me my first year’s teaching.  She taught me well to focus on a child’s good when the going gets tough. Sometimes I’d have to have help finding their good, but she assured me when I’d get overwhelmed by my class of “dysfunctional” kiddos, that each of them had bright spots. It was my job to find them. Moreover, it wasn’t enough just to know them, but she challenged me to focus on every good I found, even the tiniest of things. Celebrate all the good, even if it seems trivial. Celebrate it and celebrate it some more, obnoxiously celebrate it if you need to be convinced. Why?

Well I learned that not only did I need to see the good, but oftentimes the child needed to see the good also. What happens when we celebrate good? More good emerges, right? Sure enough. 16 years ago as I sat in my first classroom as a teacher and started to celebrate the often ridiculous things, great things started to emerge. It wasn’t long that I didn’t have to simply overlook all the dysfunction, I could instead easily see goodness as it began to outweigh what had previously been taking precedence and making everyone crazy.

I’m afraid I’ve lost sight of that reality lately. As teacher to my kids, I choose to renew my efforts in celebrating their good with HOPE that profound greatness will emerge; greatness that I can’t even imagine. I limit God constantly. I know this. I also know I limit my kids. They say knowing is half the battle. Well, I’m holding on to HOPE that the other half will come with Advent graces.

I’m forever grateful for my vocation to teach. I firmly believe it is where God wants me to serve, and thankfully he feeds my soul when I’m in the classroom. Today, it was in a one hour afternoon tutoring session and with 25 art students creating magnificent pointilism images honoring baby Jesus on his birthday. Aren’t they magnificent?

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In addition, I was reminded of the gift holy women can be to one another. I’m so very grateful for our little homeschooling village who feeds my mommy soul too. I’ve come to love so many of these magnificent women and their children also.

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Today was a total fail on healthy eating goals, but we will improve there too. Today, I choose to look at all the ways we did succeed. There were so many great moments. Tomorrow, we will jump back on the bandwagon with an easier schedule and less tight timeframes. A plan is already in place.

Here’s to celebrating more good! Happy 3rd day of Advent! How are your preparations going?

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Advent Hope -Day#2

November 30, 2015

It’s late. Tomorrow is busy. I made a promise yesterday that I have contemplated all day today. It is 11:30 p.m. and I am here, on this blog, ready to write.

What to say?

Parenting. Loving. Disciplining. Cheering. IT IS NOT FOR THE WEAK.

I pray constantly that despite myself, our kids would grow up to be better than they believe they can be. I HOPE they know how much they are loved here on earth, but even more in heaven.  I HOPE they learn to find virtue in the depths of their soul – virtue that will change the world. I HOPE and pray I will learn to hold my tongue more often. I HOPE and beg God to give me enough grace to nourish our tiny little army with a true and unwavering ability to fight the good fight.

Tonight as I prepare for sleep, I pray for my marriage, my kids, my strengths and shortcomings. I pray for wisdom and HOPE in the promise of the Holy Spirit’s gifts. Tomorrow, when I wake, may I have the right words, a tender heart, and a guiding spirit.

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Happy New Year – Advent Day #1

November 29, 2015

So…

It’s been awhile again.

I am sure I have things to say, but I’m afraid as of recently, my words have been used in other places…many, many other places actually. Life is quite busy, it’s full, and some days it is exhausting. Actually, lately I’ve managed to have the deck stacked against me regarding my “super woman” powers. (It’s the phrase Nate coined many, many years ago when I was in the out-of-control-DOING mode and then beating myself up when it didn’t all get done. We still use it often for many different scenarios.) I’m happily starting to find my moxie again, but more on that another day.

For now….it’s a new year. Actually, to be fair, it’s a new Catholic liturgical year. The year’s cycle has begun again. We have left Ordinary Time and the doldrums of the green vestments and have entered the preparations of a great feast and the majesty of purple vestments. Gosh. I like these moments a lot…the begin again moments. I seem to need them often. I love my lists, goals, event planning, contemplating, etc. etc. etc.

So here it is.

I was talking to Nate today as we were driving ALONE and mulling over Father’s convicting homily from this morning, and considering areas that needed some renewed focus. This blog is one of them. I need to take the time for myself, for my family, for whoever might be reading this, to consider my own words.

Katie was sick recently and I got the privilege of sending the family out of the door and crawled into bed with her to watch a movie. She chose Mom’s Night Out. We’d never seen it. What a cute movie and oh how I could relate. I haven’t truly LOL’ed while watching TV in a long time, but the end scenes truly had tears streaming down my face. Oh how I could so relate to the neurotic main character and her “feeble” attempts at virtuous heroism (like when she frames the artwork under the stairs). At any rate, she had something to say. I’m challenging myself (with greater prayer too) to find something to say. You are welcome to come back EVERY DAY and check it out. I’m really going to do it.

Really!

Today.

Hhhmmmm.

I think I’ll show you instead. It was a full day and I have to get back into the habit of photo documenting our day. I used it do it much better and now with my new iPhone, it is much easier to do again. I just have to retrain my brain to think of it.

Blessings to you and your family as your own New Year begins. Catholic or not, I challenge you to look at this Advent as your own new beginning. How will you prepare your heart for the Christmas celebration to come on Dec. 25th?

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Until tomorrow!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2015

It’s a day of thanks! What did our day include?

Family.
An earlier than normal morning sprint out of the house.
Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.
Food.
Gigantic piles of fall leaves.
Drawing. (Sara & Michael had a special project.)
First embroidery project.
Rummikub.
Football.
Haircuts.
More time to play outside.
More food.
Tired & dirty kids.

I’d do it all over again if given the opportunity.

There was a time when Nate & I spent Thanksgivings with friends here in Atlanta who so graciously loved on us when we were transplants without family. It is still hard to believe that almost all the Donovans are here. Gosh. Who would have thought?!

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Lemonade out of Lemons

November 16, 2015

So it seems that life has taken a few twists here lately and this little blog has been on the back burner for sure.

Last week, I picked up one of the littles who then decided to go limp and created that perfect unprecedented moment you wish upon everything you could redo. It seems that I have a tailbone injury from it…well probably from a series of things over my lifetime, but definitely flaring up now. I’ve had to say no to many things, ask for help, and take things slower. The kids have had to become just a bit more independent and I’ve had more time to consider our life and how we spend our time. There are changes afoot I think. The immediate changes are obvious. The future changes are more contemplative and worthy of pondering further.

Today, it’s a new week and the weather is sunny. Fall is here for sure with leaves on the ground and cooler temperatures too. Today, we celebrate a new week and the chance to turn this crazy tide that has been an injured momma.

Still injured, but determined, we set out to join our homeschool friends at a tree climbing field trip. Thankfully Papa (my dad) was planning to join us. However, it seems again God had other ideas. My mom landed herself at urgent care for x-rays and inevitably with crutches for torn ligaments in her foot. So…the kids and I ventured without Papa. God bless us all.

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What a fantastic day, and despite it’s many curves, everyone had a great time and we all look back on the day with great memories and the anticipation of a future spring trip also! For now, this momma is thankful to be home and with great memories of my own (and the familial pressure to actually blog the day). Hear me roar! We survived the day, injuries and all, and all are smiling.

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I spent a great deal of time with Clare today at the Chick’Pea course; ages 4-6. What a great little combination of obstacles. She conquered her occasional fears and mastered each of them!

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She had a great time and was so very, very independent and responsible with her rope safety! Everyone was smitten by her and quite ready to help her along the way. The staff at the Treetop was superb!!! Seriously fantastic. Hats off to Sarah, Brandon, & Sean! I’m so very, very grateful.

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Sweet girl fell after having finished her course. She put a big hole inside her lip and attracted everyone’s attention with the blood spewing from her mouth and her screaming too. I’m thankful for our little homeschool village that always comes to be my extra hands. (This is Mr. Sean who was one of the fantastic guides. He even played the harmonica later for Clare & Elizabeth while supervising Clare in the trees.)

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Katie is the only one who has been on the course before. She loved it as much as she did the first time. I’m so very glad as I didn’t really get to experience the big kids course much.

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Ziplines are everyone’s favorite!

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Michael says the day was “awesome. The best part was Level 3 HIGH because the ziplines were fun and it contained the most. To be on the ziplines, it felt like you were as light as air.”

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What a great way to start the week! We’ll ignore the little hiccups along the way!

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We will spend our week simplifying and enjoying our little home in preparation for a great 9-year-old birthday celebration, thanksgiving, and holiday decorating too. Wow! Five Mondays until Christmas!

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The world vs. big families

September 10, 2015

I know I haven’t posted a lot lately, but today there’s a fire lit under me. Today, I’m simply frustrated with all the little ways our world is not the same as it was in years past, even just a few years ago.  

On Thursdays Katie’s bucket is filled for the entire week. We happily drive 40 minutes so she can take a 2 hour science lab class. Some families drive hours, literally. It means a lot to her and it fills a huge need in our curriculum. However, of course it comes with sacrifices as all five kids accompany us for those hours. Realistically, it means I have the four youngest during nap time while trying to entertain them without losing all our minds or breaking the bank. It’s not all bad, but it does get tricky as the three littles don’t have long attention spans for anything. 

Today, I walked Katie in to class because despite the fact she is an old soul and no stranger to these classes, she’s not allowed to walk from the front of the building to the sidewalk still within sight of the classroom. Here’s gripe #1; no exceptions to policy. It’s a liability issue. Students must be 13 to check themselves in and out. Ugh. State of the world number 1 million.

The kids are overjoyed that today we are spending the first hour at a nearby McDonald’s play place. That means a snack, new friends, and lots of running and climbing. With a baby in my arms and two toddlers in tow, no employee offers to carry our tray. It’s ok; I’m super woman. State of the world number one million one. In addition, when I asked TWICE if they could refill the wipes dispenser, the responsibility kept being passed to different employees ultimately remaining unfilled. State of the world number one million two. Oh well. Germs are good, right? Thank you, however, for having a dedicated bathroom in the play place room. VERY, VERY helpful!!

From there, proud of myself for getting some grocery shopping done outside of our own neck of the woods, the last hour is spent at Sam’s stocking up for the week…well partially, as it didn’t really allow for many cold-item purchases. We walk in, there’s a bottle neck at the carts, everyone pushing ahead, and when I finally get to a cart of our own, there’s no room to put my three kids into it for the people trying to enter the store around me. Again, no wipes in the dispenser at the door to give a quick wipe down of the carts. What’s my number count now? …at least two more.

I’m barely in the doors, and a sales person with DirectTV seems to think I’m his target audience. I smiled, interrupted him before he had said anything other than “Hello ma’am, can I….” with my own response of “Sir. Seriously. Three young whiney children in the cart is probably not the person you want to stop. Thank you though.” He was shocked to say the least. I shook it off as an adult male who didn’t understand the dynamic of young children. However, really, it’s probably more an indication of the “it’s all about me” mentality and his quotas to sell that day. State of the world one million five.

Thankfully, we finished our shopping with only the 8-year-old saying he had to go potty (when we were in the back of the store none-the-less). Sorry, buddy. You have to wait! No lines at check out. Sweet! My three of four children graciously helped unload the cart onto the checkout belt only to get to the register and be told that the checker would have to load my groceries into a separate cart, and I needed to move the children’s cart out of the way. What? “I’m sorry ma’am. What?”

After trying to explain herself several times, I was still clearly in shock at this new-to-me policy and trying to interrupt what she surely must have meant but wasn’t actually conveying. Oh no. She really did mean what she was saying. She was required to put all my things into a new cart, and then if I didn’t want to take two carts out to the parking lot (because three children were occupying the one we had been using) I was welcome to transfer my children to the new cart that was now filled with groceries (and clearly unable to be filled with children). What on earth? Seriously? She was adamant that I could step aside and solve this myself after having paid for our things. Um no. Sorry. Sometimes this momma just doesn’t want to conform to idiocracy…real or perceived.

“Michael, please take the groceries from her cart, and transfer them back to our cart so that we can leave the store.” Of course, she thought that was ridiculous.

“But ma’am I will have already put them into the new cart.”

“Yes. Why you are doing that, I don’t quite understand as I don’t see the need to transfer the children, which clearly are the harder of the entities.”

“Ma’am what would you like me to do with your things?”

Hhhhm. I think that’s pretty obvious, right?! “I’d like you to allow my 8-year-old to place them into our cart. Thank you.”

Clearly we are mutually annoyed with one another. She is frustrated by the reality that his loading our cart is slower than her scanning the items themselves and no doubt that I trumped her ability to follow policy. I’m annoyed at the lunacy of this whole thing and it’s impact on me and my young children who thankfully at the moment are happy.

So…contemplating this scene, I’m wondering why on earth this is policy. Although she didn’t say, I can only assume that it has something to do with liability or preventing stealing of items underneath the children. I don’t know. Seems to me that there is surely a better way to deal with either scenario. Regardless, point number 1 million and six on my every-growing list.

Why did this all bother me so much today? I don’t know. Maybe it was because I wasn’t in my “predictable” home territory or that I am a bit more tired after being up last night with a baby cutting teeth. Maybe it is because in my subconscious I’m still mulling over this notion that Europe will soon be Islam because they aren’t meeting their own replacement rates. We aren’t too far behind in that regard though. It makes me so sad that our family of seven is LARGE when several decades ago, we would have been considered small.

Normally, I’m happy to live in my own little crazy world of young homeschooling children and like-minded families, but today, I was so struck by the “state of the world” and it’s impact upon us.

What do I want? Ultimately, I want my family to be admired in a way that inspires others to grow their own family. I want us to support one another on this journey of raising the next generation of our country. I want, even if it is just a little, more selflessness in how we interact with one another. I would love for kindness to be the norm and that be enough…not concerns with liability at every turn. What an idea that we would be so invested in helping one another and building a society of love that liability wouldn’t be an issue. I want the babies conceived to find homes and not meet the instruments of abortionists. I want scared mothers to believe that there is a family at every turn willing to help her and her baby too. I want to walk this country’s land knowing that I’m not trekking along alone; forging my own path. Instead, to know the certainty that there are those before me already welcoming us at the bend ahead.

So…today I choose to rejoice in my own little domestic unit that is trying to work together, trying to sacrifice for one another, trying to live in charity and generosity. I will remain committed to raising independent children capable of intelligent thought, problem solving abilities, and the desire to do good with great fortitude and strong character. I will say my prayers, holding even tighter to the rosary beads at night, praying grace upon all of us that we will embrace the changes that come with more grace in our hearts.

Today, I pray for other big families that God would place us in each other’s paths to help one another and be the instrument of change, if nothing else, by sheer numbers.

For those reading this, not in my own state-of-life and maybe not able to relate in the same way, please look around and see how you can promote a spirit of life. Big families aren’t a curse, really!! God bless our world!

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