8 Little Arrows in my Quiver

Reflections and Ramblings of a Happily Harried Mom of Many

The Blessing of a Good Priest February 23, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Family — 8littlearrows @ 4:12 pm

We had a wonderful pastor at our parish who served there for ten years until he was transferred a few years ago.  Fr. Gary was one of those priests who was so involved in his parishioners’ lives.  He would pop by the house randomly with treats for the kids, or go golfing with my husband, and he even took our family to Six Flags two or three summers in a row.  When he heard our confessions, we knew that he knew us and cared about us. He loved Mass and the Eucharist and preached it regularly, but outside of Mass he was a fun-loving, social, “regular” guy.  The kids flocked to him.  He was an integral part of our (almost) daily lives.  We miss him terribly.

But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized just how much.  One of our recently ordained priest friends (who was a student when we were campus ministers 15 years ago) came to our area for retreat/vacation, and he came over yesterday to celebrate Mass at our home.  What made it even more special was that it was the Feast of the Chair of Peter, our son Peter’s feast day.  It was an awesome way to honor the day, and of course was followed by some tasty treats and fellowship. 

After Mass, when we were in the kitchen enjoying each other’s company, I glanced over at the stairs, where Fr. Dave was sitting surrounded by every one of our children, from the teenagers down to the baby.  I wished I had my camera to capture the moment, but I somehow misplaced it last week. (A side effect of having so many children seems to be loss of brain cells! 🙂 just kidding!)  Anyway, it dawned on me in that moment just how precious a time it was.   It is so valuable to have our kids regularly exposed to priests and nuns, and not just in the church setting.  Our day was the perfect mix of the sacred and the more “worldly.”    Just the evening before, Fr. Dave had come for dinner and stayed to play football on the XBox with the kids and hubby.  And then last night he went to the movies with hubby and the older kids.  What a wonderful way for our kids to see that a priest is dedicated to serving the Lord in such a special way, and yet, he is also just a normal person like us.

Fr. Dave seems to be enjoying the time just as much, and I think is a little concerned with wearing out his welcome.  But the truth of the matter is, we want to max out our time with him while he’s here, because we are currently not blessed with the opportunity to do that with our parish priests.  But yesterday made me realize one thing — we need to make more of an effort to get to know our priests, even if they may not be naturally inclined to be really involved with parishioners.  And honestly, I think it is just as important for them as it is for us.  Stay tuned for a guest post from a priest about this matter. 

And in the meantime, please join me in thanking God for our faithful priests and praying for His blessing upon them.

P.S.  Please ignore the ads that pop up below.  I have no control over them, (or at least can’t figure out how to keep them from coming up) and sometimes they are in poor taste.  Sorry about that.

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A Perfect Day February 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 8:49 pm

Don’t you just love those days when everything works out perfectly?  It doesn’t happen often, but it did today.  My lovely mama came and watched the younger kids for me so I could get away for a few hours to ski with my hubby and my older kids. And she let me borrow her car, since mine is in the shop.  (Thanks Mom!)  I had a wonderful time of prayer on my way to the slopes.  The weather was absolutely beautiful — sunny, and warm enough to ski without coats.  It felt glorious to be flying down the hills with the sun and wind on my face, and not a care in the world. 

When I got home, fixing dinner was easy because I had had time in the morning to prep everything.  And I was in such a good place that I didn’t even get upset that hubby and kids got home late.  I just fed the younger ones and figured the rest would show up when they showed up.  When they got home, my hubby grilled salmon for me, since I’m on a gluten-free diet and couldn’t eat the pancakes and sausage I had made for everyone else. (Thank you, hon!) The baby took her medicine beautifully, and she and the two-year-old went to bed without a fuss.And on top of all that, I actually got a couple loads of laundry done today, too!

Now, a pessimist would say, “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”  But not I.  No way!  Will the other shoe drop?  Of course!  But why on earth would I want to spend time worrying about when and how, instead of enjoying the blessing of the moment?  Here’s the way I see it: I need to soak up every minute of a perfect day to fuel me for the rest of the not-so-perfect days.  Because I know from experience that when that shoe drops, I’m going to need to remember this perfect day so I’m not tempted to get overwhelmed. 

And the last thing I’m going to do is take a day like this for granted. See, God is so wise.  I think He knows that if He gave me too many of these “perfect” days, my ego would probably get a little carried away and I would start trying to take credit for being a great mom, wife, etc.  But since these days are pretty rare, I’m able to realize that anything right and good and beautiful in my life is all gift.  And “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, NIV).  So I thank Him for this wonderful day, and for blessing me with the grace to just enjoy it.

 

Prayer after a Miscarriage

Filed under: Family,Miscarriage — 8littlearrows @ 5:14 pm

I happened upon this prayer the other night on the Faith and Family website, and I found it so beautiful that I wanted to share it.  When I had my three miscarriages, one of the things I found most comforting was that I knew the babies I had lost were now little saints in heaven, and could intercede for me, their dad, and their siblings.  This prayer comes from a “Mother’s Manual,” and it’s a wonderful way to maintain a connection with your little one, and stay focused on the bigger spiritual realities of what is otherwise a very painful loss:

My darling (name) you are now in joy in the presence of our God; and in your spotless innocence, which He loves, you can speak to Him in a voice that He will heed.  You are still my little baby and will surely regard the prayers of your mother who bore you. So with confidence, then, I speak to you. Intercede for me to obtain the favor that I here ask as a mother through her child who stands before the throne of God (mention petition).  But, if what I ask is not according to the wisdom and loving designs of Almighty God for me and others, then ask Him to grant what is best according to His good pleasure and to give me the wisdom and faith to conform my will to His.  Amen.

 

By the way, just wanted to let you know, if you’re not aware of it already, that www.faithandfamilylive.com has some great stuff to support you in your desire to grow in holiness and  in the Catholic faith.  Check it out.

 

Getting Me out of the Way February 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 10:11 pm

Tonight I did one of those things that I find very difficult, but necessary: going with my husband to pray with a dear friend of ours, who is dying, and his wife.  My husband has a gift for this.  I sit there and marvel at the way he allows the Holy Spirit to work through him.  He seems to always know the right things to say and pray in these situations.  I, on the other hand, seem to revert to my familiar tendency to clam up and feel awkward because I don’t know what to say. 

When Jay got home tonight from dropping off one of our kids at youth group, he told me he felt like he was supposed to go see this friend, and asked if I would come with him.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes, because I’ve learned that his discernment in these matters is almost always right on.  All the way there, I just prayed, “Lord, You know this isn’t my natural strength, but I know You want me to support my husband, and if there is any way You can use me, please just push me out of Your way and work through me as You will.”  Before we got there, Jay said, “Why don’t we pray a Chaplet, and then maybe you could sing ‘The Irish Blessing’?” 

I was afraid he was going to ask that!  But at least he asked before we got there, so I didn’t get put on the spot.  When we got to our friends’ house, their extended family was all there, and a bunch of us crowded into the sickroom to pray.  As I watched Jay take charge and lead everyone in the Chaplet, I fought to focus on praying and not on having to sing in this room full of people I hardly knew.  During the fourth decade, I realized that I was losing my voice, which at first panicked me, until I realized that God was answering my prayer and getting me out of His way.  So I just had to let go of the whole thing and depend on Him to orchestrate everything.

When the Chaplet ended, Jay told our friend that I had a song for him, and with a quick prayer I opened my mouth, letting go of the fear of humiliating myself.  It was an incredibly freeing experience, realizing that it was all God.  He was obviously singing through me, as moments before, I had barely been able to speak, and now it was coming out clearly, without a single croak.  It was almost like an out-of-body experience.  I knew I was singing but it didn’t feel like it was me.  It was an awesome reminder that this wasn’t about me.  My pride, and fear of making a fool out of myself were so unimportant in that moment, and I’m so grateful to God for making that clear to me.  I’m also incredibly grateful to have a husband who invites me to stretch beyond my comfort zone.  I have grown so much because of him.

As we drove home, I found myself imagining how hard it must be to watch your spouse dying.  And I was humbled that the Lord would use me to help minister to someone who was going through that.  I pray that I will always be open to the ways He calls me, and that I will get better at getting out of His way.  And I pray for our friend, for the grace of a happy death, and for his wife, that she would be comforted and upheld in the mercy of the Lord.

Please pray with me, friends.

 

The Importance of Godly Friendships February 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 2:33 pm

I happened upon a wonderful blog recently that I wanted to share.  It’s called “The Glamorous Life of a Housewife”  (http://glamlifehousewife.blogspot.com).  It’s written by a young wife and mom who loves the Lord and isn’t afraid to show it.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  The most recent post I saw was about the group of godly friends she had growing up, and it was very thought-provoking.  You see, I really didn’t have one single friend growing up who shared my faith and encouraged me to grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even at the “Catholic” college I attended, I didn’t find a close group of truly godly friends.  Without that support and positive peer pressure, unfortunately, I fell away from my faith, and only by the grace of God was I able to rediscover it.

I was listening to a talk recently by Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly, and he said something which really struck me — that whenever you are trying to decide something, ie. whom to include in your close circle of friends, or whether or not to engage in a certain activity, you should ask yourself one question:  Will this person (or this activity) help me to become the best version of myself, the person God wants me to become?  It sounds so simplistic, but I wish I had had a grasp of this concept when I was young.  It’s so hard, in this culture, to stay focused on living this way.  We need each other for support, encouragement, and inspiration.

Jay and I have always tried to stress this with our kids in their choice of friends and activities, but lately I’ve realized something.  Since two of my closest friends moved away in the last couple of years, I no longer have any like-minded friends nearby with whom to have a close, supportive, and challenging relationship.  I have been convicted that I need to start seeking these kinds of friendships more actively, since I’m home with the kids so much.  I need to be intentional about getting out and making friends, not only for my own growth, but also as an example to my children.

One way I have tried to find inspiration is by reading the blogs of other Christian women, and it has been a much-needed shot in the arm for me.  But it’s not enough.  It’s time to get out.  So wish me luck and say a few prayers for me, will ya?  It’s not easy for me, as an introvert, to do it, but I’m committed to it.  And I’m also re-committing to praying for my kids in this area.  I want something better for them than what I grew up with. I’m so appreciative to Whitney at “The Glamorous Life of a Housewife” for painting such a specific picture of the friendships I want my kids to have.  It helps to pray with that picture in mind.  The other thing I’ve realized is that I need to make sure my kids have the opportunity to be involved in the kinds of activities and groups where they will be likely to meet these kinds of friends.  Sports teams are all well and good, but not to the exclusion of activities of a more spiritual nature. We have absolutely nothing going on at our church, so it’s up to us to find other avenues.  We’ve been fortunate to find a good Christian camp and youth group that they can attend, but we are still looking for some Catholic stuff.

On a different, but related, topic, I have also been having some great discussions with my older kids about boy-girl relationships, chastity, etc. and I’ve got some great resources for you if you’ve got tweens or teens.  The first one is the same blog mentioned above.  Check out Whitney’s Love Story on her blog.  If you want a real-life example for your kids of a wholesome, godly approach to the whole “dating” issue, her story provides it.  I was reading it one night and Maggie joined me.  She was floored, as was I.  I’ve read all about this type of thing in theory (“I Kissed Dating Good-bye,” and “Boy Meets Girl,” both by Josh Harris) but this was the first time I encountered a real person who actually accomplished it.  A word of warning, though — she’s not done putting the story up yet, so we’re waiting for the new chapters.  Maggie keeps asking me, “Did she put any more on yet, Mom?”  Please hurry, Whitney! 🙂

For a Catholic resource, check out the novel “Arms of Love,” by Carmen Marcoux.  Maggie couldn’t put it down, and was very impacted by it, both in her Catholic faith and in her desire to practice chastity.  Joe, my 15-year-old, also read it and liked it.  Jay and I decided to include it on our required reading list along with the two aforementioned books and some others.  I’ll post that list at some point,  so stay tuned. Also, check out Carmen’s website www.courtshipnow.com. You’ll find lots of practical and straightforward information about courtship on it.  The kids and I went on it and checked out some of the questions we had.  As parents, we need all the help we can get instilling the right values in our children.  I will post more resources for you as I find them.

God bless!

 

Music That Moves Me February 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 9:35 pm

I was getting ready for a mini road trip today and was looking for some good music to take along.  I opened the big CD wallet that I found on the mantle, and there was my Sara Groves CD.  Just seeing it made me smile — it was like running into an old friend.  You know, one of those friends you don’t see very much, but when you do see them, you just pick right back up where you left off.

You see, God knew that I needed to listen to that CD today.  The past year has been one of constant discernment about our future, with not a lot of answers.  I try hard to live in the moment, but some days I just give in to frustration and discouragement.  I’m a very “steady” person, and I don’t mind change, but I like to be prepared for it.  This past year, we have thought a few different times that we were going to be moving, but each time it has been delayed.  We keep praying for God to reveal His will, but apparently He’s not ready to do that yet.  The uncertainty is hard for me, because I don’t know what is going to be expected of me.  So anyway, the last week or so I’ve been having a hard time with the waiting, and with trusting that God has a plan that is surely better than the one I have.

Enter Sara Groves.  She has a way with words.  When I was first introduced to her music a few years ago, her lyrics really spoke to me, like she was singing my thoughts.  Or, in today’s case, the thoughts I needed to be thinking.  My favorite song by far is the one I need to be singing every day.  It goes like this:

Morning by morning, I wake up to find the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine. Season by season, I watch Him, amazed, in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways.  All I have need of His hand will provide.  He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain He did not recycle to bring me gain.  I can’t remember one single regret in serving God only, in trusting His hand.  All I have need of His hand will provide.  He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem.  This is my song, the theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long.  God has been faithful; He will be again.  His loving compassion — it knows no end.  All I have need of His hand will provide.  He’s always been faithful to me. (From her album “Conversations”)

I sang along in my car, but changed the words just a bit so I was singing to Him instead of about Him.  It’s amazing how it changed my whole perspective.  Because it’s so true: He is faithful, and He does always provide what I need. I just forget that sometimes.  Thanks for the reminder, Sara.  And thank You Lord for the gift of music that moves me in ways that other things can’t.

What music moves you?  Feel free to leave your favorite in the comment section.  I’m always looking for some new artists.

 

Letting Go…But Not Without Some Investigation February 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 9:44 pm

My thirteen-year-old daughter, Maggie, has the opportunity to go on a two-day retreat-type experience with some of the other girls in her youth group, and she’s been waiting for us to decide whether or not we’ll let her go.  I’ve had some reservations about it, especially since she’s fairly new to this group and I don’t know the leaders.  It’s a two-day, two-night thing, where they will be staying at a hotel and driving to the retreat site during the day.  I’m a tad overprotective, so the fact that it’s not self-contained makes me a bit nervous.   I think I’ve heard too many horror stories of girls being abducted, etc.  And I don’t always trust that other adults will be as careful as I would.  I do realize that I need to let go of that to a certain degree, but I also know that it’s my responsibility to protect her.  So, with that in mind, she arranged for me to get together with the woman in charge of her youth group.

This morning, Maggie and I went out to breakfast and I got to meet and talk with this woman.  Meeting her put my mind at ease (or at least as much at ease as it’s going to get!).  We actually had a delightful breakfast and chatted about all sorts of things.  She told me a lot about her vision for the youth group, and had no defensiveness about my concerns.  I could tell that she totally understood and respected where I was coming from.  But there was one thing that totally blew my mind.  She told me that in her 20+ years of doing youth ministry, this was the first time a parent had ever expressed the desire to get together with her and get to know her a little bit!

Now, I know that I’m an ultra-paranoid parent, but P L E A S E  tell me I’m not the only one who wants to know just who is helping to form my children!  Doesn’t anyone else get nervous that their kids are going to be taught something contrary to their faith?  Or that the leaders won’t supervise the kids properly? Or that the discussions that go on might not be something I want them discussing?  Or that they won’t be as strict about things like movie choices? Or…well, you get the idea.

I was recently reading another blog where someone was saying that their 4-year-old daughter’s piano teacher was having a mandatory party for her students and was not allowing parents to come.  And it was a “pajama theme” party, so the kids were supposed to wear their pjs and bring a pillow.  The mom was thinking it was a little weird and was questioning letting her daughter go.   Seriously????!!!  I wouldn’t let my 4-year-old go to the piano lesson without me, let alone to an event like that!  A mandatory party?  No parents allowed?  Are you kidding me?  And by the way, what does any of this have to do with piano?  I’ll tell you what my response to that would be:  “Bye-bye!  I think it’s time for us to find a new piano teacher!”

What I found most disturbing  is that I’ll bet most of the parents won’t bat an eyelash, and will just drop their kids off for this party.  I can only pray that the whole thing is totally innocent and just shows poor judgement rather than malicious intent on the part of that teacher.  And we wonder why our world is in such rough shape!  What ever happened to intentional parenting?  I understand that we can’t always keep our kids safe, and that we do have to learn to let go, especially as they get older, but isn’t it our responsibility to do everything in our power to make sure they’re going to be safe and then let go?  It’s kind of like making sure they’re buckled up in the car.  It’s a little more work, but if anything ever happens, at least we’ll know that it wasn’t because we failed to do our part.