Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dear Not-So-Good Mom

Keri from Living in this Season asked me to guest post for her today.  She wanted a letter to a mom. So head over there to see what I wish some knew and could rest assured with, especially myself! From one "not-so-good" mom to another...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ten Virtues of Mary: Divine Wisdom

This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here's a great place to start ;)

Well, it's my turn.  To be quite honest, I am not the perfect person for this post. In fact, I'm lacking in each of these virtues, but Divine Wisdom?  Gosh, I pray for it.  But I don't think I will ever feel "there."  However, I don't believe we should.  Breaking down this virtue, Webster tells us this:

Divine: 1) relating to, or coming from God or a god. 2) very good.

Wisdom: 1) knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.  2) the natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand.  3) knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; good sense or judgement.

Mary was the mother of Wisdom.  Truly, she carried and gave birth to the Son of Man, sometimes referred to as Eternal Wisdom.  God prepared her from her conception to carry His Son, and in doing so, she was blessed with a gift of wisdom that none but Jesus will ever truly know.  But being Mary shouldn't be our goal.  We will never be.  Our goal, however, should be to imitate her in every way we can, every second of the day.

What strikes me most about the definition of wisdom is the idea that it comes only from experience.  Mary experienced it all.  She was an unwed, pregnant teen in a time when that typically called for death.  She planned to marry Joseph, yet I don't know that she ever planned to be the Mother of God.  From the moment of Gabriel's announcement (and truly, long before) her life was no longer her own.  Before Jesus was even born, there were threats against His life.  And that was a short one.  Mary thought she lost him once.  She knew that her heart would be pierced because she had said yes to God.  In the end, she watched - only watched - as her son was betrayed, ostracized, and brutally beaten.  She watched as he carried his own instrument of death.  She watched as he was nailed to a cross, knowing he was guilty of no crime.  And, she watched as her only son struggled to breathe and finally asked for the forgiveness of his perpetrators before he took his final breath.  She could not comfort Him.  She could not take his place.  She could not take any of His pain on her shoulders.  She could only watch as He bore it all...for you and for me.

She could not do it because she knew - in her wisdom - that God had a plan.  In that plan instead of sparing her grief as a mother watching her only son suffer and die, God used her, and her experience, to save us from a pit of unending pain and suffering.

She gave up her life in order to live one through Him.  In her "yes" to God, she became a living example of His will.  In her divine wisdom, she gave to God what was rightfully His for His doing...her very life.

How much do we do this?  Do we give ourselves completely to God?  How often are our wills aligned directly with His?  If I'm answering, I think my true answer is this: some times.  There are days when I'd like to think my will is His will.  But, it's during those times when I also typically convince myself that I need a lot more things that I really do...that I'm not truly doing something for any prideful affirmation but because I feel called to...that God would surely justify my unloving actions as I categorized them: justice (not mercy).  Wrong.  This isn't allowing God's will to work through me.  It is forcing my will on Him and calling it His.

I remember vividly making specific decisions when I was younger.  They were important ones to me at the time such as which college I would attend, which career path I would take, which job I would accept, etc.  In each of these decisions, I remember fretting immensely.  I would call everyone I knew that might have knowledgeable input.  I would make a list of the pros and cons.  I would cry.  I would lose sleep.  I would go back and forth and finally, in the case of college, overnight a decision on the day before my answer was due.  Then, I would worry some more.  I would even play the "what if" game after a decision had been made.  Finally, my mom asked if I had prayed.  Yes.  She then said, "Trust in His will.  He opened this door and led you here for a reason.  It is His plan."

My problem was when the first mishap would arise.  That mishap was seen as a "sign I had made the wrong decision."  I had no true trust in Him.  Had I, I would have known that wisdom comes from experience, and His will for us does not always mean sunshine and roses.  Sometimes it means learning lessons.

This is where Mary and her divine wisdom comes in.  She simply said, "yes."  And, she lived it.  To the joys, the sufferings, the responsibility and the agony, she said, "yes."  God has given her to us as Our Mother to help us say, "yes" too!

When experiences come our way that we don't feel we deserve, let us say yes.  When God takes something from us and we question that taking with every fiber of our being, let us say yes.  When we feel unloved, unwanted, and even uncool, let us say yes.  When the weight of the cross He has asked us to bear seems like it will take our very life, let us say yes.

And let us remember that if in Her place, we would have probably cried out that our Son was innocent, ripped the cross from our Son's shoulders, and given our own life to take away the slightest pain in Him.  In those moments, instead, she was silent, and in her silence she said, "Yes."

Mary, Mother of God, in your wisdom, mother us.  Help us understand that our crosses are for our gain, and pray that we receive these experiences in life with open arms, understanding that we will only grow closer to Him if we let Him have complete control of every minute of our lives.

Lord, give us wisdom.

For the rest of the series, please visit these blogs:

October 7 - An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary - Olivia of To the Heights
October 14 - Lively Faith - Molly of Molly Makes Do
October 21 - Blind Obedience - Kendra of Catholic All Year
October 28 - Constant Mental Prayer - Jenna of Call Her Happy
November 4 - Heroic Patience - Kelly of This Ain't the Lyceum
November 11 - Profound Humility - Carolyn of Svellerella
November 18 - Angelic Sweetness - Regina of Good One God
November 25 - Divine Wisdom - Britt of The Fisk Files
December 2 - Universal Mortification - Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings
December 9 - Divine Purity - Gina of Someday Saints
December 16 - Ardent Charity - Christy of Fountains of Home
December 17 - Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights - Just in time for Christmas

Monday, November 24, 2014

Through a Child's Eyes - Finding Joy

Last week we had our first snow.  It came in the night, and we had some excited little boys the next day.  Once the sun came out, they begged to be bundled up to go out.  As is typically the case, it took fifteen minutes to find all of the gear and get everyone suited up, and three minutes later, two boys were back inside ready to take it all off again.  However, Carter stayed out.  So, I thought I'd sneak around the back and see if I could catch a couple of shots of him without him knowing...

His joy.  His pure joy.  He was all alone outside - one who tends to enjoy the company of his brothers - and yet, he was taking it all in.  Alone.  As I watched him, I quickly realized that it's been awhile since I've experienced that joy.  Don't get me wrong...there are things the kids do every day that remind me of what miracles we are blessed with.  My heart swells, and I become more and more vulnerable with each minute I love them more.  Seeing their daddy love them is one of the most beautiful parts of my days, too.  Those things are my favorite joy.  

However, I think these photos illustrate the heart of a child in a way words cannot.  They see pure beauty for exactly what it is...a source of joy.  Carter didn't have to have anyone there to push him toward having more fun.  He didn't need anything to accompany this moment.  He was just there...fully present...with the beauty of a gift received.  And, he welcomed that accompanying joy with wide open arms.  

Then, he saw me.

And he let Amos and me in on his fun, with a few snowballs tossed toward the both of us.

He didn't want to go in.  He was loving it, even with his snow-soaked pants and frozen little toes.

He eventually did, and was welcomed with hot chocolate "swimming with marshmallows."

His excitement, over what some may see as a ordinary thing (me often included), reminded me of the choices I have each focus on the ordinary or to find the extraordinary in it.  This moment - seeing my baby smiling from ear to ear - is a perfect precursor for the season of Advent ahead.  In the midst of the craziness that surrounds the Christmas season, the image of Carter in the snow will daily remind me to slow down...our lives, our hearts and our order to truly see the joy in the gift we will soon receive.

I hope it's a blessed one for you!