Friday, July 31, 2009

My Children, Part 2, Tyler

My son Tyler is fifteen. When I was pregnant with him I prayed for a boy. We had two girls and I just wanted a little boy for my husband, to do manly things with! I was so happy when I found out during my pregnancy that I was having a boy. And I even let Dave choose his first name. I wanted to name him Louis after the priest who married us, so we settled on Louis as the middle name because Dave loved the name Tyler.
Tyler was way over due. If I remember correctly I was due on December 13th with him. I had him on December 29th. That was a fun Christmas! The gramma's had bought him gifts thinking he was going to be in this world, I believe I even received a few, "Baby's first Christmas", type things. But to no avail. He showed up right before New Year's Eve.
I remember holding him in the hospital, thinking, "I just had a boy!". A big boy too. My second largest baby at 10 pounds, one ounce. He was a big boy. And I was just totally in love with my new baby boy. I couldn't stop being amazed at the fact that my body had produced a boy. I don't know why I was so taken with that notion, but I just was.
It all stopped when he started acting like one! He would climb the curtains, do destructive things with permanent markers. Dave would say to me, "Why would a boy do something like that?" and I would say, "Because he is a boy". Boys do destructive things. Because they want to see what will happen. They fill the tub until it overflows just to see what will happen. With the tub and with mom and dad. They learn how to write their name and then they use every writing tool you have in the house to put their name on furniture, walls, the fridge and outdoor patio furniture. And when you ask them why, they say, "I didn't do it! Must have been Emily!"
But for all of that, I love my Tyler. He is tall and handsome. He is going into his sophmore year, and the girls like him, which totally grosses out his older two sisters. "Eeewww. That's my brother!" is their answer to any girl who asks them, "Who is that cute boy you were talking to?" They find it hard to believe that anyone would find him cute, although Liz does admit that she knows girls can't resist Tyler's hair. Yeah, my son is a hunk.
And moms, doesn't it make your heart melt when your son who you rocked once, now towers over you and bends down to give you a kiss on the cheek? No, it doesn't happen often enough, and it usually precedes a question like:"Mom, can I have five bucks to.....". But I savor every kiss and hug I get from the boy.
Because of Tyler I actually follow one of the local sports teams. He made me a huge Sabres fan. I love hockey and I just started getting in to it and we have fun talking about the team and players. Tyler is a super huge sports fanatic. He will listen to, watch and follow, just about any sport. I always say, if it is two people spitting in a bucket and they are keeping score, Tyler will watch it and know the names of every player and champion. He is so smart, he remembers everything. His mind is like a sponge. He takes it all in.
Unfortunately, he doesn't always use his noggin when it comes to school. It's not that he isn't smart enough, he is just too lazy at times to DO HIS HOMEWORK!!!!! I need a recording of me saying, "Tyler, did you do your homework?" Cause I am tired of repeating myself. Sometimes I want to knock myself in the head over the boy. He is a strong willed, stubborn boy who sometimes does not know when to stop talking!!
But, I love him. And I like him too. He is funny and smart. I enjoy talking to him and I love that he talks to me about sports, even though he knows that I know practically nothing about sports, especially football. He wants to make me a fan of football, but he has a tough quest there. I hate football. I know, it's unAmerican to hate football, but I do. But Tyler talks to me about these things and I enjoy listening to him. I am proud of the fact that we have such a nice relationship and can talk to each other, and that even though he is fifteen, he still likes to talk with his mom.
At his best, Tyler can be really helpful. He is not so good at dealing with his little sister Amelia, because they are both strong willed, ditto his relationship with older sister Emily. But it makes me cry when I see how gentle he is with his little sister Teresa. You can see in his face how much she delights him. He gets along great with Liz for the most part, they have their moments, but I think they are really close.
Tyler wants to be a sports broadcaster some day. I think he will achieve his goals if he puts his mind to it. He is a good kid inside and I love him to pieces. I know I have a son who will always watch over his mom. He can be a huge challenge for me, and I probably have yelled at him more than the others, but I have always believed that God has a special plan for Tyler, and I think that is why we have such struggles with him. Now Tyler needs to believe that God has a special plan for him, and I pray that God will make him a strong willed, loving, kind, gentle man.
For now, I will keep encouraging him, listening and encouraging. I am so proud of my son, and I love him very much.
Go Sabres!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sheep without a Shepherd

"The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest awhile." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things." Mark 6:30-34

This was the gospel reading last Sunday and it touched my heart. I just felt called to meditate on it all week. So I did. I just felt like the Lord wanted me to really study that scripture passage, meditate on it during my Adoration time, and ponder it all week long. So I did.

The first thing that I thought about was how people hungered so much that they would run to be with Him. They ran so fast that they got there before Jesus and his apostles. They did not want to miss out!! When I was sitting in front of Him during my Adoration time, He said, "why don't they run to me now? I want you to run to be with me in Adoration, run to daily Mass, find the time to be with me." We should all want to be with Him so much. And as Catholics, we can!!! Even if we can find an open church with a tabernacle. He is in there. We believe it is Him! Aren't we blessed that as Catholics we believe He has not left us alone. He is present to us in every Catholic church, every day, in a tangible way!!!

But Catholics are not the only ones who hunger for Him. Every one does. Some look, and look. They don't know they are looking for Him. They are looking for happiness, they are looking for peace. In drugs, alcohol, sex, money, material goods. In new age practices, centering prayers, and crystals. But we will never find it in those things. He is the only answer. He makes sense. He brings peace, even in the midst of suffering.

So Jesus looked at all these people, people who were tired and dirty and hungry. And even though He was tired Himself, his apostles were tired, tired of people, tired of teaching, tired of being around others and being touched, Jesus had pity on them. Moms know this feeling. You get to the end of your day, the hubby worked overtime and for the last hour you have been counting down the minutes until bedtime. You get them all in bed and you sit down with a sigh and then one of them comes down. They are crying, they have had a bad dream, or something happened that day to make them upset. Inside you are screaming, "Go to bed already!!!!!". But you look at that little face you love so much and you have compassion. So you scoop the child in your arms and you rock them and hold them and kiss them. This is how Jesus felt about them. He had pity on them. And this is what He sees when He sees us. When I sit in front of Him in Adoration, He feels compassion for me. He sees my struggles, my worries and my hunger for Him. So He takes me in His arms and comforts me. He has pity on me. He teaches me.

I think even more today than in the time of the apostles, we act like sheep without a shepherd. People are wandering. There is a bumper sticker out there that says, "All who wander are not lost." I always say out loud, "Yeah, yeah they are". Jesus sees that, He sees us all wandering, looking, not knowing where to go. Look at all the sorrow. Look at how people treat each other. We put our trust in mere mortals, Obama is the new god, Madonna has all the karamabu answers, if only I could learn tai chi or scientology from Tom Cruise or John Travolta. Then I would find peace. All of this mumbo jumbo doesn't amount to a hill of beans. No one in scientology died for me, Madonna could give a hoot about me, she just wants my money. They all do. We wander from new thing, to new thing. Lost. Sheep without a shepherd.

In the inner city where I am a missionary, oh, the people are so lost. Generation after generation. People on the outside look at them and say, "They are animals, they act like pigs. They kill each other. Good! One less person on welfare." But these are lost sheep. They were made in God's image. Jesus has compassion for each one of them. But they don't know Him. It's our job, no matter how futile it seems. Even one soul is worth saving. Look into their faces. Look. You will see a soul there. A soul that is just as precious to God as you and I are.

When God looks at us, when Jesus looks at us, He doesn't see black, white, Latino, Polish, Irish. He sees the soul He created. He sees us all wandering in the dark. Where should we go? Who will lead us? He has compassion. He loves us so much.

He says "Come to me. And bring your brothers and sisters. I will teach you. I alone have true compassion for you. I died for you."

This world is so crazy. Getting crazier by the minute. Even those we see doing evil things deserve God's pity, God's compassion. He sees all of our hearts. Even the people you hate, even the people who are doing things that are terribly wrong, we have to have compassion for them. Jesus does. Because He knows. We are ALL sheep without a shepherd.

We have to stop condemning and we have to start loving. As Jesus loves. With compassion. Jesus knew that the people running to be with Him needed to be taught. They just didn't know any better. He didn't look at them and say, "You slept with twenty guys and who knows who the father of your baby is. Go away." He didn't say, "I don't like the way you live your life, your gay, go home." He didn't say, "You steal money from people and make their lives miserable, go back to where you came from." He gently and lovingly taught them. He loved them. He saw everything about them, good, bad, ugly. And He had compassion for them!!! He had pity on them.

If the God of the universe can know every bad thing about us and still have compassion for us, why can't we have it for each other?

What does He want from us?


Friday, July 17, 2009

My Kids, Part One

I realized that here I am a proud mama of nine and I haven't written all that much about my children. I guess I thought, "who would want to read my ramblings about my kids". But then I realized two things: 1) This blog is really for me. It helps me to be creative and thoughtful, and helps me to appreciate all that God has given me. 2) Almost all the blogs I read, ok maybe not almost all, but a lot, write about their kids. And I love reading about them!! It reminds me of when my older ones were little and I can still laugh about things because I still have little ones too. Plus the teenager stories, the preteen stories, you name it, in my household I have everything but infants right now. So I love being able to identify with people.

So here are my two oldest. Emily is on the left, Elizabeth is on the right. Emily Rose was her sister's confirmation sponsor. Emily, my nineteen year old, being the oldest, is pretty much my hard working, perfectionist, older and wiser daughter. When she was born, she was what they call, "collicky", and it was a miserable experience. I am still convinced that I made her that way. I was so nervous that I couldn't do anything right, every time she made a sound, I jumped. She would cry, and cry. Oh, I felt like the most awful mother in the world. I remember saying to my husband, "This is awful. Why do people have more than one of these?!"

But then she became the most wonderful toddler. She was obedient. I could take her into a store and I only had to tell her once not to ask for anything, not to touch anything. She was good. And actually quite delightful. Very smart too. Learned how to read at four. I remember the kindergarten teacher, could not believe that Emily hadn't gone to preschool. She had not experienced a child that came from home and knew how to use scissors, who knew how to color, could name her colors, recognize letters and write her name. She was ready to scold me because I hadn't sent her but she couldn't because Emily was so smart. I just don't believe in it. I always wanted to keep my babies home with me for as long as I could. I cried the summer before I sent Emily to school. The whole summer. Every night. It was awful.

Emily is in college now. She was on the Dean's list all last year. She is a very hard worker. I miss her. She didn't even come home this summer because she has a job at school and they gave her a place to live. She does come home often, (but not often enough) and we do things together. We still have a movie date to get to. She has grown into a beautiful young woman. She makes great choices in life. I love her group of friends! She has chosen well. She is like me though, in that people go to her for advice, a shoulder to cry on, just when they need a friend. Emily is outgoing and kind and loving, but she is not afraid to tell it like it is. She has a great sense of humor, and can zing out great one liners, that can stop others cold. They don't know what to say. She is an awesome woman! I always worried because she didn't always make good choices in high school, but she does now. She has a really nice boyfriend and she is a very faithful Catholic. She goes to Adoration. Cause she wants too!!!!! Need I say more. She wants to be a director or producer of movies. Maybe she will join the other great Catholic kids out there and we will start to see some really good, wholesome movies. I am so proud of her, and who she is becoming, she really is a beautiful girl, inside and out.

My second oldest is Elizabeth Grace. Elizabeth is seventeen. She has been a pistol since the day she was born. She gave Emily a run for her money. Elizabeth is one of our drama queens. Has been since about the age of two. She would provoke Emily and get her going and always managed to come out smelling like a rose. She is a dancer and an actress. She is also very funny. When she was about four or so, we were all sitting at the dinner table and she was laying down on her chair with her foot up in the air. I said, "Elizabeth, what are you doing?", and she said, "Pretending my foot is a flag". We all fell out laughing. It was so random.

Elizabeth is not so great in the school department. She tries, but it is not her thing. She is trying very hard now because she is entering her senior year in high school and she wants to go to college to major in special education with a minor in acting. She wants to work with autistic children. I have written this before, but my neice is autistic, and Liz has been led to want to work with children like Corinne. She is so loving and so good with kids. She is like a second mom here in our home. She is my right hand woman. I don't know what I am going to do when she goes to college. She cleans, she helps with the kids, she works very, very hard in our home. I could not do all that I do without her. I don't even have to tell her most of the time what needs to be done. She just looks around and does it. She has a job now and of course a very active social life, and I miss her sometimes. Not just because she is such a great help to me, but also because she makes me laugh. She is one of the funniest kids I have. She likes to walk around the house and sing everything instead of talking. So she could pass me by in the kitchen and be singing, "I wish I wasn't a woman cause I would love to cut off my woman parts right now because I have cramps......." You have to hear it to think it is funny. And you never know what she is going to be singing about so you want to listen every time. She is hilarious.

She is fun, she is entertaining and she works harder in my home than anyone else except for maybe John Paul. I love her to pieces. She can get into a mood. She is a creative soul so she has her dark days too. And when you get her and Emily together, they have fought over tee shirts and underwear! They will go at each other but both of them can say the funniest things to each other, Emily has good comebacks because she is so smart and can outwit Liz, and Liz is very, very funny, so I never know if I should continue to laugh or break up the fight. And if Tyler, their 15 year old brother gets involved, he sides with whoever hasn't ticked him off lately, and that is usually Liz, and he can be funny too! I get in so much trouble with Emily, the serious minded, fair is fair, oldest child, all the time for laughing instead of disciplining.

Elizabeth will do well in life no matter where she goes or what she does. I think God has His hand on her. She always has a deep experience in Steubenville during Adoration which lands us outside because of an asthma attack. She gets so overcome with emotion when she sees other teens praising God, especially the boys because boys don't usually do that, her own love for Jesus just wells up in her and she can't take all the wonderfullness. I know God has a great plan for her, He has filled her with love for others, and I am proud of her too.

The best thing I can say about both of my daughters, I LIKE them. I like who they are, I love spending time with them. I can see parts of myself in both of them. They are a delight to me. I am thankful for these two, because they taught me how to be a mom. They have been with me the longest, and I love them so much.

As you can see, I will have to do this in parts because I can write so much about each one of them. I even cut myself short on these two. But I can always add later. Right?

God certainly blessed me when He sent me my two angels, Emily and Elizabeth. I know my life would not have been so great without these two. I can't imagine my life without them.

I love you Em and Liz.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mother AND Contemplative

When I was a young mom with only a few children, I wanted so badly to be a contemplative. I would read books on prayer and about different saints who were contemplatives and I wanted it all. Except that I had one big problem. I was a mom. I would start to pray in my rocker as I fed the youngest baby and I would pray. Then a child would come up to me and ask for milk, rugrats played in the background, another child wanted to sing me a song...... and that was the end of that. I couldn't finish a thought, much less a prayer.

But as I grew in my motherhood I became very good at being able to go inside myself and steal away moments with God. The dungeon aka the laundry room became a place where I could meet Him. The sink was a good place too. And I became really good at stopping my conversation with God to answer a child's question, and fill a need, and then go right back to where I left off.

Recently while in prayer during Adoration time, I realized that God started training me as a child. You see, I was brought up in a home where children should be seen and not heard, and then we were dragged all over the place while doing it. So I sometimes had to sit for hours, not talking, just sitting. Adult conversation was often boring to listen to, especially when gramma started speaking in Polish, so I would wander off in my head. And I would disappear mentally in the middle of a crowd.

I am really good at it now. At the mission during my Adoration time, sometimes there is cleaning going on. I can shut it out. With hard work and God's grace, I have learned how to be a contemplative. I am learning that this all makes sense. Mothers should be contemplatives. Everyday we are given plenty of time to speak to the Lord. I used to think the only way I could do this was by sitting quietly somewhere in absolute silence. But now I realize He speaks to us all day long and meets us where we are. I remember reading that once. That God meets us where we are. Even literally. If we are standing over a potty training toddler, what are we going to think about at that moment? "Oh, I wonder when the pees coming?" We would go insane!!! No, we can, even in the midst of that, place our minds on a higher level. God uses every moment. And mom's days are filled with the mundane, the day to day kind of routine where God can flourish if we let Him. Just take a look at your day and I know you can find the time. Instead of watching mindless television, pray while you match the socks or fold the towels. Filling the dishwasher or washing the 23rd fork of the day, thank God for His goodness and beg Him to help those who will not eat this day. And don't forget to pray for the rich who will not only eat, but eat lavishly. He is there with us. He laughs at our children's antics, He smiles at us when we speak kindly as we answer the fortieth question in five minutes. And He puts His arm around us when we are not so patient because hubby has worked late every night this week and when did I sign up to be a single mom....... oops. Sorry. Got carried away there. But haven't you been there? God's there too.

We need to be prayer warriors ladies. Yes, we do. Everyone else out there is too busy!!!! Use your drive time. Let daddy watch the kiddos so you can go to Adoration at least once a week. Go ahead and take the baby you are nursing. I tell you, my little Joseph is destined to be a priest. He would go to Adoration with me every weekday morning when he was just a little baby. And my wonderful hubby who worked nights would come home and stay up and watch the little ones who weren't in school yet. Get your husband on board. My husband actually tells me when I need to spend more time in prayer. "Please, honey, go to Adoration. You need it!" He is my thermometer. We need to pray. Offer up scrubbing that kitchen floor. And think about people who need prayers. Not only friends and relatives but celebrities who have no one to pray for them. If we don't, who will?
Guess what? I believe that moms are on the front line of the battle for souls. Because in our every day lives we can find the time to pray. We can do it all day long. Just ask for the grace to keep your mind on things above. My favorite scripture sums it all up:

"Finally , brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9