Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I got the call from the Institute for Spiritual Direction today.  I applied for their Spiritual Director program this Spring, and interviewed last week.  The director of the program said they (the board) believe I have a calling to be a Spiritual Director, but "not right now".  I need more time to "do what you're doing."

My disbelief has grown with each passing hour.  Not because I'm so awesome, but how could I be so wrong?!  How can I still be too young when I've already been waiting to begin this program for two years, and wouldn't be finished with the program for three more?!!  How not ready can I be?

The director told me at my interview that the selection process was a discernment, which in this case, meant there was prayer involved.  And I don't think a group of prayerful people can really screw up God's plan.  Can they?

My pride wants to send a long email explaining how I became a caregiver at age 16, and detail all of the other things that make me older (wiser) than my age might tell.  1Timothy 4:12 flies into my brain as a rebuttal:  Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.

But, then I think of the example.  Jesus.  Isaiah 53:7 - Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.

And He was God.

I'm just a human being who's feeling a little misunderstood and very confused.

Aside from being 100% certain that my husband was the man I wanted to marry, I have never felt so sure of anything.

The self-doubt is creeping in and the ground is feeling a little shaky.  Maybe it's a coincidence (are there such things?), but our A/C went out on Friday.  When we learned the price of the replacement, I started wondering if I need to be working.  I have no idea.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done...

The Desire to Please God
My Lord God, I have no idea where I
am going, I do not see the road ahead of
me.  I cannot know for certain where it
will end.  Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am
following your will does not mean that
I am actually doing so.  But I believe
that the desire to please you does in
fact please you.  And I hope I have that
desire in all that I am doing.  I hope 
that I will never do anything apart 
from that desire.  And I know that if I
do this you will lead me by the right
road, though I may know nothing
about it.  Therefore, I will trust you
always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.  I will not
fear, for you are ever with me, and you
will never leave me to face my perils
alone.                      Thomas Merton 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Concussion and an "F" for Trust

Happy Father's Day to you and yours!  It's been a good one for us.  Sleeping in, Mass, and eating out make for a pretty great day.  I also emailed my Dad the links to my posts where I wrote about him (A "Rough" Life - A Tribute to my Grandma, Uncle, and my Dad).  He doesn't do blogs, but it occurred to me that he might better understand how much I love and respect him if he could read what I had written.  He was deeply moved, printed it off, and put it in his Bible.  Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

Two weeks ago today, my husband (and the father of my children) got a concussion when he and his skateboard parted ways.  I was at the swimming pool (roughly 100 yards away) when it happened.  My oldest son came and told me "Dad has a concussion, but he's fine.  He's up and walking around".  I clambered out of the pool to go see what in the world was going on.

As I was gathering our stuff, my husband walked into the pool, saying he thinks he has a concussion, was seeing stars, and half of his vision was blurry.  He wasn't really sure what happened or if he lost consciousness, so I sat him down on the pool steps and went to investigate.  What I found was a pool of blood in the bottom of the skate bowl.  At the time, I couldn't find any witnesses, so I assumed he was knocked out because he laid there long enough to make a puddle of blood (from his elbow) the size of my footprints.

I did my best to wash the blood away and we loaded up to go home.  He had virtually no memory of the day and began to ask a series of questions, which went something like this..."What happened?  Was I awesome?  Did anyone see?   Was I unconscious?  What happened?  Was I awesome?  Did anyone see?   Was I unconscious? What happened?  Was I awesome?  Did anyone see?   Was I unconscious? What happened?  Was I awesome?  Did anyone see?   Was I unconscious?..." 

You get the idea.  I worked for an ambulance service for 6 years, so I knew he had a concussion at least, and was worried he might have bleeding in his brain.  I waited for a couple of hours to see if his symptoms (repetitive questioning and memory loss) would improve, but they persisted. 

To make a long story short, we ended up in the ER.  He had a CAT scan which showed no bleeding on his brain and he got three stitches in his elbow.  He took the following day off of work for "brain rest".  Aside from a sore neck and elbow, and a little light sensitivity, he was back to good. 

But, then I wasn't so good.  The more I thought about what happened, the more I had my own series of thoughts that went something like this...

"It freaks me out that my husband was lying unconscious (or something close to it) 100 yards away from me and I didn't have any idea.  I guess I always thought that if something happened to him I would somehow know.  A gut check or something.  Nope.  Nothin'.  What if it was worse?  What if his brain had bled, and he had a stroke or an aneurysm?  What if he had broken his neck?  If he died, financially we would be able to make it, but if he's disabled and it didn't happen at work, we'd have nothing.  I am totally dependent on him and his good health.  This vulnerability feels like crap. Should I get a full-time job?..."

This went on for about two days.  I was pulling back emotionally and he knew it.  He was telling me not to dwell on what could of happened, and that I couldn't love him any less because of some dumb accident.  But, I was trying to.  I don't want to be physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially dependent on someone who could check out at any minute!  I told him he was a liability, and he was quick to let me know that I was one, too.  Then, he said something to the effect of, that's what happens when you get married...


Good point.  He would be in as much of a fix if something happened to me, as I would be if something happened to him.  Not for a paycheck, but for someone to run the household and take care of the kiddos, and all of the other things wives do. 

After this conversation, and by God's grace, I started to realize that the only problem I had was a trust problem.  In the unusual circumstance of seeing my husband incapacitated, I withdrew my trust from God, and put it in myself.  Only, I quickly realized how drastically short I came from being able to provide the solution that I was trusting myself for.  If this whole scenario was a test for my trust in God, I'd have a Big 'ol "F" over here...

As Providence would have it, one of the Mass readings during this time was from Tobit 2:9-14.  In the story, Tobit became blind for four years after some birds pooped on his eyes.  (I'm not making this up!)  Eventually, his wife weaved cloth and provided for the family, and life went on...


God has provided for me for 35 years.  Some of those years, he provided for me through my parents.  Others, I provided for myself.  For the last 10 years, my husband has provided for me and our family.  If something were to happen to him (God forbid!), God would continue to provide for me.  Yes, it would look different.  Very, very different.  But, I would have what I need.  Just like I always have.

It is a paradox to be sure, but our security is our vulnerability.  It doesn't matter if I like it.  It's just the way it is.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?   Matthew 6:25-27

Dear Heavenly Father, Happy Father's Day!!!  Thank you for being The Father of fathers, King of kings, and Lord of lords!  Thank you for fathers who help us believe in You and Your love for us.  Thank you for my husband and the way my kids will emulate him even before they recognize his greatness.  Thank you for his health and the big lesson in humility and trust, when it was compromised, even for a short time.  Please bless him with good health and a long life. 

Lord, please draw near to those who don't know what a good father is.  Make Yourself known to them!  Please grant the grace of forgiveness to those who need it. 

Abba, I love You.  Thank You for loving us first!  Make us love You more and more.  Amen.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cigarette Burns and Pooping in the Bedroom

I'm thinking I'd rather be in bed right now, but I have too many details from other people's lives swirling around in my head (again).  I have a friend who marvels at how the world is big enough to hold all of the stories that it contains.  I'm starting to wonder the same thing.

My boys were eager to get back to the skate park after being out of town for a few days, so we headed up this afternoon with a cooler of drinks in tow.  Bringing food and drinks for the skaters was part of the resolution we made at my last women's meeting, in an effort to "love the sinner, but hate the sin".  It sounds presumptuous and judgmental even to write it.  Of course, skating is not sinful, but there are a lot of other things that often go with the skating lifestyle...Sex, drugs, rock and roll?, rebellion, tattoos/piercings and language that would make a sailor blush. 

They're not worse sinners than me, or people who dress well, or people who keep their lips buttoned.  They're just not so careful about covering it up.  Sort of refreshing in its own way, if you think about it.  The point is that these kids need love like everyone else on the planet.  They're just not (always) the most approachable or easy to love. 

I took my seat at a picnic table, and in 5 minutes, (I think my little guys were inviting them) there were 6 dudes at my table throwing back drinks and talking to me for the first time.  I'd seen several of them before, and one was quick to say "Y'all are the coolest parents that come up here."  And I thought I'd been invisible every time...

Most of them came and went, but two stuck around.  It didn't take long to notice the (nine) cigarette burns running down the right side of the skinny, shirtless one.  As I was talking to him, I kept thinking how he looked like Jesus.  Not just because we're supposed to see Jesus in everybody, but for real.  His hair was dark and almost shoulder length, and his eyes were honest.  I told him he had great hair.  He said "thanks", showed me how he couldn't get his fingers through it, and shared his dreadlock plans with me. 

In short time, I learned he's almost 20.  He lives with a roommate (who has nine cigarette burns down his left side) and his anti-social girlfriend.  Their self-inflicted cigarette burns are a memorial to their friend who died when he was hit by a train.  Apparently, he convinced eighteen friends to burn him with cigarettes, so they each did half in his memory. 

He has one brother and thirteen sisters.  They are mostly "half" sisters, because his mother was a "crack whore", so their dads are all different.  They were all eventually adopted by the same family, but they "never really cared what I did".  He said the best piece of advice he's ever received was, "You only live once, so you better enjoy it the first time around."  I countered with the idea that there are a lot of things that are good for you that don't necessarily feel good.  He acquiesced, but followed with, "But, only if you have to."

His goodness came through when we started talking about the three-year-old boy I've seen up there.  He said he saw somebody give him a cigarette once.  It was the only time he beat somebody up.  "You don't give cigarettes to a three-year-old."  Agreed.  He went back to skating and circled around every time he got thirsty.   

The other guy made me want to cry...
After describing himself as a "roller coaster addict", he painstakingly described a "Haunted Adventure" house experience, and said we should never go.  I very sincerely told him that we wouldn't.  Little by little, the conversation moved from this scary fake experience to his scary real experience.  He jumped around between mission school this, and group home that.  There was something about how he and his sister were left beside a Georgia highway when he was a baby, and his struggles with a learning disability.  Later on, he and his sister were adopted, but only to be sexually and mentally abused.  His adoptive mother locked them in their rooms and wouldn't let them out.  "If I had to go #1 or #2, I had to go in my bedroom because she wouldn't let us out."  He and his sister communicated through an air vent.  They were eventually put in foster care and bounced around the system. 

He pulled up his shirt to show me his rose tattoo in honor of Lady Gaga.  Apparently, he's a big fan, she has something similar, and that is good enough for him. His vulnerability was palpable, and when he showed me that he knew the alphabet in sign language, I could see his hand trembling.  He is 24-years-old.  He is looking for a job and planning to start school in the Fall.  He lives with a lady who ran a group home where he previously lived, and her children.  He affectionately calls her Mom. He attends Church with her dad.  He knows he makes mistakes, he knows God forgives him, and believes "I am a man of God." 

My sons were "in and out" during these conversations, but my 8-year-old caught on that the second guy had suffered a lot and heard me repeat something I heard Mother Angelica say once. "When we are suffering, that is when we are most like Christ.  If we are not like Him at any other time, we are like Him when we are suffering."  To this, my son said, "I guess I've suffered."  I said, "No, you haven't."  He said, "I've suffered a little.  My great-grandmother just died."  I said, "Yes, but you didn't suffer."  And he said, "I guess I wasn't really that sad."  Right.

I vacillate between thinking it is and isn't good for my kids to be at the skate park.  Today, it was good.  It was good because they got to see that these kids are "nice".  Even if they use bad language or have metal in their face.  It was good because my oldest son heard about real suffering, and consequently, realized that he has not really suffered.  Having parents who love you enough to make you go to bed at night, chores here and there, and something other than your favorite food for dinner is not suffering.  In lieu of going to Africa to appreciate what we have, I think we'll be going back to the skate park.  We still have a lot to learn.

Dear God, I don't know how I continue to meet so many people with such painful and incredible stories.  I can only assume that you are "hooking us up", so thank you for the privilege of being on the listening end.  Lord, have mercy on these kids, and on their parents, who will have to give an account for them on the day they meet You face to face.  Please, give me the grace to show them Your Goodness, Truth, Light, and Love.  Thank you for my Regnum Christi sister, Robye, who provided the drinks I brought today, and all of those who spur me on in my faith.  God, bless us all.  Amen.