Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Getting My Kids Into Harvard Is Not My Endgame: I'm Aiming Higher



I received an email from my nine-year old daughter’s dance studio, which stated if she missed any more ballet classes, she would not participate in the yearly recital.  I did my due diligence and typed up an explanation for her absence coupled with an appropriate apology.  It took sincere effort, however, to refrain from reminding the director that Mary is not a professional dancer.

Nor is she an Olympic athlete. 

Mary will not grace the stage as Baryshnikov’s ballet partner, but finds great enjoyment in the fundamentals of dance.  Her pleasure is enough for me to continue with lessons.   I don’t care if she isn’t the lead in the Nutcracker Ballet or occasionally misses practices because of legitimate family commitments. 

I live in an area where children’s extracurricular schedules run parents.  Moms and dads across my state spend their time outside of work toting kids from music lessons, to dance classes, to robotics clubs, art, soccer, baseball, horseback riding, lacrosse, etc.  There is no time for family dinners or throwing the football or read alouds.  There is not time for children to foster creativity.


Read the rest here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Micromanaging Your Family's Prayer Life Before Tending To Your Own


 I had convinced my mother to watch all six kids for the weekend and my husband, John, finagled a day off of work. I fixed my dyed red hair and purchased a new outfit, a darling blue and white striped skirt with a white cotton blouse to match. We both felt the same level of excitement and anticipation. Together we yearned for the moment where we would live every couple’s dream date: a two-day national Catholic Family Homeschooling Convention.

Talk about romance! Talk about passion! Talk about two nerds with notebooks!

 One of the best lectures we attended tackled Lectio Divina, the Catholic Church’s traditional method to read, meditate, pray, and contemplate the Holy Scriptures. The point of the priest’s presentation was “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt 6: 33). When he concluded, I resolved immediately to abandon my evil ways and approach prayer with renewed vigor. I glanced around the room and sensed the other faithful attendees felt the same way, but then someone from the audience raised her hand and shattered my hopeful attitude. “What’s the best way to bring this important type of prayer into our children’s lives?” she said. -

See more at Aleteia.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Five Easy Tips To Make Your Photos More Beautiful


A priest friend of mine told me recently that the famous theologian Hans Urs von Baltasar once said there are three things that can save the world: truth, justice, and beauty.  It was beauty that Father was encouraging me to focus on in my work as a photographer because contemplating beauty inspires the human person towards the pursuit of what’s good and true.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a lot of ugly in the world, but photography gives both the artist and the viewer the opportunity to actually see in picture form God’s majesty in our mundane and sometimes drudgery filled lives. Lately, every time I lift my Canon and click the shutter, I think about von Baltasar’s words and am reminded that by capturing a fleeting moment of beauty or joy or love, I’m participating in God’s work of saving the world.

That’s a hobby worth pursuing, I think.

With the advent of the camera phone, everyone is taking pictures these days.  Hop on any social media site and there is someone, somewhere who has posted a photo of her or her trip to the grocery store or coffee shop.  Have you ever scrolled through someone’s Instagram feed and thought to yourself, “She just seems to have a ‘knack’ for producing pretty images! How does she do it?”

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Parent's Litany Of Humility


I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to nurse some pretty crazy anxieties when it comes to parenting.  If I stop to think about the sheer amount of responsibility I shoulder in  caring for, educating, and raising six unique human beings, I find myself hankering hard to curl up on the couch with my favorite blanket, suck my thumb, and stay in the supine position for a day...or ten.  

I know there are some people out there who are totally confident that they've got it altogether when it comes to parenting.

Good for you.  

I mean it, really, good for you.

But me?

I feel like I'm flailing around in the dark, begging Jesus to help me do the best I can to raise my children with the time, resources, and (limited) emotional IQ He's given me.

I've always loved the Litany of humility and it struck me recently that I could adapt it quite easily into a prayer to aid me when my parenting worries reach their peak.  I share my revised edition below because maybe you are sometimes anxious too?

Let's pray for each other.

The Litany Of Humility For Parents

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,  
Hear me.
 

From the desire of having my children be esteemed as intelligent and accomplished in the eye's of the world,
Deliver me, Jesus.


From the desire of having a perfect Catholic family,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of having it appear my family has it altogether (when we often feel as if we are hanging on by a very thin thread),

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire to shelter my children from anything that might cause them pain,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of having my family, especially my children, praised,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of having my family, especially my children, preferred to others,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the tendency to compare my familial situation to another's,
Deliver me, Jesus.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Seven Signs You Are An Imperfect Catholic





1.     You read the story of Jesus’ feeding of the 4,000 people and you get stuck on the fact that the people hung out with Jesus for three whole days on top of a mountain without any food.

2.     Your larger than average family gave up sweets for Lent, so you sneak into the pantry to ensure there are no witnesses when you shove a peanut butter cookie into your mouth.  Sadly, you are caught red-handed by your way more devout and diligent 9-year old. 

“Mom,” she says, horror written all over her face, “it’s Lent.” 

“Whoops,” you reply as cookie crumble falls from the corner of your mouth.

3.     When the kind man your family frequently sits next to at church leans over to tell you what well-behaved children you have, your first thought is, Ha!  Fooled him!  




4.     You go to Confession face to face with a visiting priest and after you finish your litany of sins, the priest takes a deep breath, props his hands up on his knees as he leans in to tell you, his eyes narrow and serious, “You know, no one likes living with a saint.”

5.     You are not only distracted by, but sincerely entertained by the behavior of the children sitting in front of you in mass.  While their parents sing in the choir a few pews ahead of them, they entertain each other with loud conversations and energetic game playing.  You may have even inadvertently encouraged their disobedience with your laughter.  

6.     You can’t bear to part with the one-handed Mother Mary statue your mother-in-law gifted you so many years ago.  A child accidentally victimized her when he played with her when he wasn’t supposed to, but you love that image anyway.  The statue, despite her broken appearance or maybe because of it, reminds you of Mother Mary’s fidelity and love, even in imperfect conditions.

7.     You read this list and judged the author for her lack of “Catholicity “and her poor efforts at Catholic parenting.  You decide to pray for her because you realize she needs all the help she can get. 

              




Monday, April 11, 2016

Mediocre Parenting Rule # 1: Keep It Simple, Stupid


I hate parenting books.

There's nothing like reading the words of an "expert" to activate my neurosis about the innumerable ways I'm failing and warping my kids. 

While I don't spend time or money reading those expert's opinions anymore, I devoured so many in my younger years, their admonitions and advice just kind of float around in my brain, even when I don't want them too.

I can't escape the rhetoric.

It's terrible, actually.

One of the recommendations from those parenting books that haunts me the most is the idea that spending quality time with your kids, one-on-one, serves to deepen the parent/child bond.

Doesn't one on one time with each kid just sound like a good idea?

What parent doesn't want to have a good relationship with their kid?

What parent doesn't want their child to feel important and special?

If spending a little QT with your kidlets ensures a positive relationship, why wouldn't parents try to make it happen?

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Good News About Imperfect Families





Do we have to go to church?” my five year old, Camille, whined as we readied for the Good Friday Stations of the Cross.  “It’s boring and stupid,” she said, tears dripping down her cheeks and punctuating her overly dramatic sentiments.

“I want to go to the Stations.  Today is the day Jesus died.  I want to comfort Him,” I responded.

“I don’t,” she whined again and stomped off.

Camille had entertained visions of outdoor playtime with her best friend who lives next door, another five-year old named Emmy. Emmy is the proud owner of a motorized Barbie hot wheel and an afternoon darting around in a pink hotrod sounded much more appealing to Camille than our austere parish and the long wait in line for Confession.

A few kids ago, Camille’s anti-Stations of the Cross-attitude would have worried me.  Did she really think church was “stupid and boring”?  Would she ever know the value of her faith?  Would she always see the religious ceremonies we bring her to as pointless?

You know what else would have stressed me out? 

The tense atmosphere in our home as we readied all six of our reluctant kids for the most important Liturgical celebrations of the church:  the Holy Triduum and Easter Sunday. 

Read the rest at ICL.
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