Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  ~Matthew 5:14-16

Merry Christmas from New Mexico!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mom of Five

I am a mom of 5, my children’s ages: 12, 5, 4, 2, and 11 months. So what that means is I have a fun (sometimes moody) tween in the house and a Dora fan club, “Can you say back pack? Louder!!” Life around here can get pretty crazy and it is pretty awesome as well.

It is a challenge taking care of everyone, and I certainly wish I did a better job, but I do try my best and know that in the end, that’s all we can really do and leave the rest up to God. I know that without His grace, life would fall apart around here pretty quick, and if it weren’t for some very special friends that I have, I would feel alone in my daily life as mom, teacher, maid, chef, nurse, wife and all of the other hats every mom/wife wears. But these friends inspire me. They help with the monotony that sometimes fills a stay at home moms routine. They teach me how to love my little ones and husband more, they show how to trust God in times of struggle, and to relax and enjoy the happy times. They show me how to be a Christian and find God even among the piles of despair a.k.a the laundry, dishes, and bills.

These friends of mine are really not friends but family, my brothers and sisters, the Saints. Like in all families, I have my favorites and I want to share them with you, these are family members that no parent can live without knowing. I hope they inspire and brighten your path to God as they do with me.

San Isidro

Today a friend asked me to pray for him. I said okay and figured some quick words would have to do since I was having a typically full and busy day around the house. Well this friend asked me to ask for prayer from one of our favorite saints, St. John Maximovitch, whom I will share with you later. I have an akathist that I like to pray when asking St. John for help. Like I said, I first thought some quick words will have to do but knew that the akathist would be better. So I put the kids to bed and lit the candles. While I was praying the Akathist to St. John I was trying to focus on the prayer and not think about the list of to-do’s I had waiting for me. Well San Isidro’s retablo came to mind as I prayed. San Isidro was a farmer and in retablo’s painted of him you will see him in a field kneeling down in prayer while angels in the background plow his field for him. The angels would do San Isidro’s work for him so that he could pray more. What a comforting yet challenging story. I felt immediate relief from the anxiety of my to-do list and felt God and San Isidro reminding and challenging me to remember what is most important in the life of a Christian: Prayer and my relationship with God. If I put first things first I must trust that God will help me with the other aspects of my life. In a year from now it probably won’t matter if my to-do list was completed by the end of the day but stopping and praying for a friend and spending time with God and St. John will make a difference, perhaps a very significant one.

San Isidro reminds us that God will help us when we love Him as we should, God will provide for us when we let no one or nothing get in the way of our love and desire to be with Him. So does this mean I can drop all my chores and neglect my kids and lock myself in my room in prayer? No, of course not, but San Isidro’s life does remind me to never place anything above God, to never say "no, I can’t pray right now, I have to take care of other things first."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Community Life

Last night I read a story to my children, “The Holy Twins” by Kathleen Norris and Tomie dePaola. It is a story about Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. The story is very charming and my children were quite engaged by it. It tells the story of the saintly twins and their lessons about community living and Christian charity in two different ways.
Scholastica became a nun and her life was portrayed in the background pictures throughout the story. She feeds the poor, prays, and eventually becomes an Abbess. Benedict’s life is a much harder one. He leaves Rome due to corruption in the city and becomes a Hermit. After a time, he is made the Abbot of a monastery and due to his strict ways the monks try to poison him. He leaves the monastery and continues to struggle on his spiritual path. Eventually, those monks that want to live like him join him and form a new monastery.
By the end of the story Scholastica and Benedict meet again. Benedict tells Scholastica of his plans to write a rule to help his monks and others that want to live the Christian life. She teases him and remarks how funny it seems that he had to go out and live the rough life he has lived and travel all around the country to learn the same things she has learned by staying in one place! Both twins learned Christian charity while living amongst their respective communities. Benedict also learned by traveling and at times living on his own.
This morning as my children and I were having breakfast and we were going through our daily ritual (someone making someone else mad, one of them having a fit and everyone wanting something to eat or drink at the same time) with me there refereeing and calming everyone down while trying very hard to not lose my patience and yell, the thought occurred to me; family life is just like monastic community life. Here in the domestic church we learn from one another and hopefully, we learn true Christian charity. It is so tempting to not bother with disciplining the kids sometimes, to just keep the peace (and my sanity) at whatever cost. Even if that means not raising them and teaching them as I should all throughout the day.
This morning I was tempted to give in to some of the kid’s requests just to keep the peace and move on with my day, but then my 11 year old did something amazing. I asked her to get some milk for her brother and two sisters and cut their pancakes so that I could finish my breakfast. Now usually this type of request is greeted with a big sigh, rolling of the eyes and grumpiness oozing from my daughter as she begrudgingly fulfills my request. I braced myself for it, the attitude towards the little one’s whom she really didn’t want to help, but it never came. She quickly and without a thought did as I asked, and was even sweet towards her siblings! Wow! I couldn’t believe it! All of those little talks and lessons on treating one another with love and respect seemed to finally sink in. Just like that my daughter’s behavior changed. All the work of teaching her about this aspect of our life at home is bearing some fruit. And oh how sweet it is!
So we will see what tomorrows breakfast brings but for now I will learn from all of this myself and remember that making the effort (even when I don’t want to) and teaching the kids to have respect and love for one another is always good for them…and for me as well.