Archangels, really?

Today is the Feast of the Archangels!

Now, some of you might dismiss this..slotting the idea into sentimental drivel.  But, I don’t.  Sure, the angel fad of the last few years/decade was filled with a glut of angel images and notions; sentimental drivel and bad paintings and pop culture bleeding into new age pap.  But, when you’re talking about the real deal, the theologically defined “Angel’, or, “Archangel” no less…then you are considering an entirely different being.  Literally.

Angels, Archangels are beings that we can’t really wrap our  minds around.  This excerpt is succinct:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.”

Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible.

Angels are messengers.  The Archangels, they are the most exalted of them….they are like the navy seals of the angels.  You don’t send any wimpy or unskilled or incapable person to deliver the most important messages.  You send the most skilled, brightest, strongest of your company/team/family.  You send the one who can get the job done. RIght? Right. Even as a mom, when I need something dealt with and need a representative…I send my most able child at the time (most mature, bright, strong, kind: able).  God is no dummy, he knew that an angelic host was gonna be a big help with us recalcitrant foolish human children.  

So today I’m considering the Archangels.  I’m grateful for them, I love this concept and the actuality of them.  I believe in them, seriously.  Not in a Thomas Kinkade sentimental-light-fairy kind of way.  But in an olympic warrior kind of way.  They are not to be messed with, but rather, considered with wonder and awe and gratitude.

So, today I’m celebrating this feast of the Archangels.  It is – painfully – evident, our stone cold hard world needs them.

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Friar!

Happy Happy Birthday to my sweet son, Brother Peter Joseph!

He is having  his first birthday as an official Dominican.  He is a festive friar today!

And it’s hard to not have him here to hug in person, though over the college years and novitiate, I have gotten to practice that.  But, this year, I’m sending emissaries on my behalf; Tom and three of the girls are on their way to deliver my hugs and wishes, loaded right on top of theirs.

Birthdays for your kid when they are a religious are a little weird, for us at least.  Because what with that vow of poverty and all, we are not really supposed to give presents.  Hmmm.  Which seems to be harder on us than him.  He’s doing that detaching from worldly goods thing pretty well it seems.  Us? Not so much.  That urge to GIVE to your kid to mark the day is really bigger and more ingrained than I ever realized.  Poor Tom struggles with it even more as one of his love languages is gifts.  He is a giver.  He just wants to GIVE something.  So, he’s giving presence this time, in lieu of presents.  Which is, of course, the best gift of all.  {Unless, of course, the visit slips into crazy-making zone…which is likely, every time.  Family, gotta love us, but we are a burden in our own way…ha!}

So, today I will instead of wrapping up a new soft sweater or the perfect quirky something I will be wrapping up a spiritual bouquet of prayers for my son.

And, there might or might not just be a cake, special courier delivery (dad), on the way…..

Happy Happy Birthday Peter Joseph.

We love  you so.

Marking the good: Play-dirt

Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Child fame, has a few common phrases she uses a lot.  These are fun and, even better, they stick in your/my head after you’ve listened to her for a few days at a conference.  One of those key terms is “pay-dirt.”   You all know this term, and use it too, I bet.  I say, “score,” some of you might say “all-right!” some of you might say “booyah!”  I don’t know, but you get the idea.

So, I have to mark the good, again…this time with Little Man.  As you know, we have brought him home to school here, with me.  We need to work on laying deeper tracks of connection; these should help his learning fly.  That’s the theory and I’m pretty sure it’s a good one.  That said, it’s a little bit of a steep learning curve on how to work well together.  We are working on finding the right rhythm to our days as well as the right stuff to work on.  We are making good progress I think, too.  But I’d be lying if I said it was without fits and starts (literally) and without some meltdown and temper.  Recovering from those breaks in connection can be challenging.  For both of us.

One of the great things about the timing of this conference I attended a few weeks ago {and there are many}, is that the importance of that connection was reinforced, many times over.  Tools to find that connection were laid out, and tailored to some of the challenges that can push it back.  Attachment can be hard work, and happily for so many of you, you don’t need to fully “get” the concept or do that work.  But we do, in our house.  We do for so many, I dare say all, of our kids.  Because our family is non-traditional and most of my kids have come to me from a tough start.  And that, without fail, means attachment work is paramount, ever.  WIthout attachment, the train stops (another Purvis’-ism‘).  And my goal, for all my kids, but especially this Little Man…is for that train to be cruising at it’s full speed.  And I think that speed is, someday, going to be supersonic.

So, what I have found is that the best of homeschool for him is the DOING with ME.  Not that I’m all that; but for some reason….he seems to crave that connection with me, go figure.  And I’m feeling just the same way toward him. But, of course! However, as it does on any and/or every day…our train stops.  It breaks down.  His mood can change on a dime.  A flash.  And then, he’s gone.  Disconnected.  Angry.  Unreachable.  Pushing back and away.

While he was IN school, regular school, my mode had to be “the enforcer”…much of the time.  “This is the deal, get it done, gotta do this, due tomorrow, c’mon buddy, enough, ok?” Basically sitting on his head to make the list get done. His list, my list, the family list. He didn’t like me much, much of the time.  Heck, I didn’t like me much, much of the time!  Now, in homeschool, we still have stuff to get done.  But we are a team with it. That’s how we’ve structured it, so far.  He is doing some stuff independently, because he can.  A lot, we do together.  We read every day on the sofa together: history and good fiction.  And he snuggles in and we talk about the connections that leap from his freaky smart fast brain.  If I need to reel him back in even closer, we will pop some popcorn and munch as we read, chilling…together.  Pay-dirt.

But, there is still a need for me to set myself aside.  For this boy.  To find that pay-dirt.  And now, a few times, it has been a need that I have to step myself through, with hard focus and intention.  Stupidly.  But still.  Like this: last week he had a big ol meltdown one day.  Big.  Angry.  Loud.  I found myself getting loud back and very frustrated.  All that Purvis stuff was GONE.  Not in MY brain, or mouth, or head.  Finally, I thought to just sit near him.  Let him be angry but if I was quiet and stopped pushing, his mind could reset from lockdown and open up again. I hoped.  But I was tired, so I wasn’t sure.  After a bit, he pulled out his lego’s with questioning eyes, “Can I?”  I nodded, still going for quiet.  So he started piecing them together, constructing his fantastic imagination in front of us.  I watched.  Tired.  Discouraged.  A fair bit blue about how to offset these meltdowns.

After a few minutes he looked up at me and said, “Mom, will you play with me?” And I looked into his sweet face, now wide open and seeing me again.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  Both of us, tired but open to each other, again.  Now, did I WANT to play? Um, sadly, no.  I wanted to go to my own space, read, potter around, decompress, mix a martini maybe (kidding!….mostly)  But, I also WANTED and NEEDED to reconnect more than even those more grown up options.  So, I said, “You bet.

So I snapped legos together and helped him look for one he needed.  No big deal, right? Ha! I say.  A big deal.  More: Pay dirt.  No, Play dirt.  His level.  Connected.

Play dirt.  The best kind.  And so we begin again.  And it’s good.

Restart, with the Fundamentals

We are in the midst of a sea change here in the coffeehouse.  We have made the difficult decision to have Little Man come on  home to do school here, with  me.  Now, we have been homeschoolers from years ago.  School decisions are a per kid, per year, per circumstance decision.  Things shift and change all the time, especially with kids…especially with educating kids.  What might work well one year, doesn’t the next.  What might work badly one year, might be brilliant the next.  Thus, we leave the option of change wide open.  But, we don’t change without tremendous consideration, prayer, study and evaluation….mostly because I stew about things.  But hey, at least it’s not impulsive.

Anyhow, all that is to say that we are back to homeschool, for one: my Anthony and third grade.  The other kids are all doing great, so they are still at school.  He was not.  He is a kid with some issues and layers and this year at regular school (and we love our little school)….the new year has not been good. It’s been eroding connections around here and that, well, it’s unacceptable.  So last week we made the final decision to bring  him home, bring him close.  He’s super smart this kid.  The academics are not the issue.  The attachment is the issue.  We think that if he is supported in working through and building attachment and connection (and this conference last weekend totally hammered this home) then he will both  mature and be able to fly higher with his school.  I’m not willing to accept his frustration escalating and thus his skills and attachment eroding…I”m shooting for gain, for take off. So, for now, he is home.

Monday was the start.  And, what better first task, than to start with the most basic of…everything:  Bread.  Yup.  Anthony made his first loaf of bread, ever.  We read my recipe together, he measured, he stirred, kneaded, waited, watched, shaped, and baked.  It was science and math and cooking…but it was bonding.  He did it. He was thrilled.  So was I.  It was yummy goodness.  And in that first day, we had more CONNECTION than in the past month, altogether. But, it was serious, true eye to eye, intentional focused connection.  (We did other stuff too, not only cook…don’t get all judgmental….)

Anthony, first bread ever and it was delicious!

Now, can you say “Honeymoon?” I can!  Because yesterday, day two, was really tough.  So, we had a one day honeymoon.  But, while it’s tempting to be discouraged, I’m gonna chalk this whole week up to the choppy waters of changing seas.  We, I pray, will find our sea legs.  And we will figure out what works and what doesn’t, the timings, the flow.  If  you have a thought, toss a prayer for us our way.  This is important stuff.  Sure, the school stuff, the academics, it’s super important, vital.  But the connection and heart of this boy? Critical.  It’s everything.

Day two, messier in every sense of the word….but…it’s a work in progress, right?

She is Us

For Every Mom; Lady of Sorrows

drawing by Kate Kollwitz, 1903
Today is the day we remember Our Lady of Sorrows.
Oh, there is so much to this one…
As a mom, this resonates with me.
Ok, maybe as an older mom it resonates.
As a mom of sons who’ve gone to college, who has sobbed goodbye to them…
as a mom who has given her son back to God, as he has vowed himself to God and to thereligious life…
as a mom of kids who come from hard places and  have endured hardship and trauma…
as a mom who has held other mom’s babies and children across the world in dark hot smelly orphanages, waving flies off their face as I feel their damp bottoms but also their arms clinging to my neck, or see them lying limp in my arms just gazing out – disconnected…
as a mom of kids who have struggled with different needs, some of them very hard and/or intense…
as a mom of kids who’ve gone through life-threatening events and as a mom who has sat vigil bedside in the PICU….
gosh, as a mom who has lain awake countless nights worrying over  her kids…
over things big or small….
As a friend to moms who have lost children…
as a friend to moms who’s kids have been in the PICU, or hospital too….
as a friend to moms who have had kids go through the hardest scariest time in their lives and/or those of their parents…
goodness, as a mom who WATCHES THE NEWS, for pity’s sake…
….this memorial is for the mom
It’s for me.
 It’s for YOU.
 It’s for US.
A mom.
Any Mom.
EVERY mom.
This memorial is for us.
Because our Blessed Mother, she is us. 
Our Sorrowful, Blessed Mother, she is us.
She is every mom.
She is the mom giving  her portion of food for her hungry child.
She is the mom sitting bedside by her sick child.
She is the mom who weeps sending her child off, to work, to college, to a new life in a new country.
She is the mom who wishes she could hurt so her child doesn’t have to.
She is the mom who carries them, bodily, but also in mind and heart….all day, every day, all night, every night.
She is the mama.
She is us.
She gets it.
And she helps us carry it all….all those things that no one but a mom can fathom, truly…well, she does, she ‘fathoms’ it to her core.
As I have had some major transitions with my older sons this past year or so…as I wept and grieved and even grinned at the goodness of it despite the pangs……my eldest reminded me,  “Our Lady of Sorrows mom….the litany, it will help.“  I nodded, and do again.  It was all I can do, then, and it’s one of the best things I can do, now: to remember.  To pray and crack open my heart in solidarity with our Blessed Mother.  With you, all the other mothers.
So…with that, I give you this, it helped me then, and it is a reminder that she is not just the remote Mother of God.
She is everywoman.
Every mom.  Us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, .
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, 
pray for us
Mother of the Crucified, pray for us
Sorrowful Mother, pray for us
Mournful Mother, pray for us
Sighing Mother, pray for us
Afflicted Mother, pray for us
Foresaken Mother, pray for us
Desolate Mother, pray for us
Mother most sad, pray for us
Mother set around with anguish, pray for us
Mother overwhelmed by grief, pray for us
Mother transfixed by a sword, pray for us
Mother crucified in thy heart, pray for us
Mother bereaved of thy Son, pray for us
Sighing Dove, pray for us
Mother of Dolors, pray for us
Fount of tears, pray for us
Sea of bitterness, pray for us
Field of tribulation, pray for us
Mass of suffering, pray for us
Mirror of patience, pray for us
Rock of constancy, pray for us
Remedy in perplexity, pray for us
Joy of the afflicted, pray for us
Ark of the desolate, pray for us
Refuge of the abandoned,pray for us
Shiled of the oppressed, pray for us
Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us
Solace of the wretched, pray for us
Medicine of the sick, pray for us
Help of the faint, pray for us
Strength of the weak, pray for us
Protectress of those who fight, pray for us
Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us
Calmer of tempests, pray for us
Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us
Retreat of those who groan, pray for us
Terror of the treacherous, pray for us
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, pray for us
Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us
Light of Confessors, pray for us
Pearl of Virgins, pray for us
Comfort of Widows, pray for us
Joy of all Saints, pray for us
Queen of thy Servants,pray for us
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, pray for us

Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin, That we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.

**Full disclosure:  I wrote part of this last year, and part of this, this morning.  But I feel just the same…so, I’m reposting. Plus I’m attending the Empowered to Connect conference and really, it’s all about THIS.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post….to come!”

Feast of the Cross: the Triumph

 

Triumph? A cross, really…..?

 Dali, of course.

Yup.
Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
Which always seems all counter-intuitive.  Like we Catholics and Christians have lost our collective minds.  Really? A cross? That horrible gory ghastly unspeakable death?  Or, that so common it’s lost it’s punch story of the crucifixion….yeah yeah yeah, I know I know.  Easy to kind of give a mental nod to it and move on, right?
Well, yeah……..except when it’s YOUR cross.
Because that’s what this is about: You.  Your cross too.
By which I mean, mine.
And then it all takes on QUITE a different tone doesn’t it?
Because these “crosses”…..doggone if they don’t HURT!
Like HELL!

Yeah, see, you get the idea.
Takes me a while and I still forget, but yeah.
That’s the idea.  Because you don’t get to Christ without the Cross.
Dang.
But you don’t.
And really, you don’t even want to. No, really, think about it, you don’t…because it is in our suffering that we strip away the dross, the unimportant, and find the realest of real, the true.  It is in that process that we find what is most important about our lives, ourselves….and it is always the same truth: Love.  And that of course, is God.  God is love.  Done.

Why it takes the Cross to get that through our stubborn mulish heads I don’t know.  I guess because I am so stubborn.  Such a mule.  Such a slow slow learner.
So proud. So controlling.
All of that has to be kicked out of me, again and again before I can set it all down and give over….
so that I can let real love wash over me, the way it’s supposed to instead of the way I’d like to direct it…. to learn to actually LOVE, in action and deeds instead of only good intentions….to just do it {and yes, I”m still working on it, thanks for asking…sigh}.

And it’s that. In the doing, where we find the love, even as we might be carrying the cross.  Then too is when we see the triumph, yeah, even the exaltation and joy of that very cross, so despised before.  We see it’s beauty.  Because it transformed…..everything.  It transformed suffering. It transformed ugly, and pain, and horror, and fear, and weeping, and exhaustion.  It took it all and flipped it inside out….into our very reason for shouting and clapping for joy, for hugging with grateful tears, for that catch in our chest when we know that it’s ok, not even ok, but oh so unspeakably good.
Because it is love.  It is our suffering, which is our giving to the last drop of ourselves that we go the cross, Christ’s cross, and only then do we get to really learn what it means to really love, in the way that is real.
Triumph.
Love that word.
Today’s the day to remember it.
Triumph.

Siena

“We adore you Oh Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.”

 

{full disclosure: I’m reposting this from years past because today I am going to this conference, with this dear friend and it’s a busy day}

Conscious Parenting….

So, I’ve been stewing about a constellation of things lately…possible sea changes around here, fine tuning, redirecting, and so on.  And, happily, this Friday and Saturday I will be here at the terrific Empowered To Connect Conference.  I went last year and it was amazing.  So good. I’m due for a refresher on it all…and I’m excited to go this weekend!

Today, I saw this video.  Not the same source at all, but another fantastic source for thoughts on connection and attachment and adhd and intentional parenting, of smalls and teens and everyone in between.  Gabor Mate has written a few of my favorite parenting resource books: Scattered (about ADHD) and Hold Onto Your Kids.  He is a thoughtful, credentialed, excellent researcher, therapist and source for information.

If you’re interested in intentional parenting, check this out, below.  It’s a great advance prep to get my brain in gear for the conference this weekend too.  It’s worth your time and attention.  It’s all about Conscious Parenting.  Look….

 

h/t to Hattie Heaton 

Eyes Open, Marking the good: Teen Americana

Once again, I must do a post on Marking the Good.  I have posted in this series before, here, and here, and here.  The upshot of this series of posts is that all too often we (meaning, me) get too wrapped up in the hectic mill of the chaotic days and even more, trapped in the cycle of cynical.  Well, it’s a trap for me at any rate.  When you’re parenting a child with special needs and or a tough background, it’s a high risk trap: that cynical thing.  So, in order to attempt to stem that tide, now and then I look up and post some good news.

We have just had a very big event in the house, a very big event for our Marta.  Even though it’s early in the school year, our high school just had Homecoming (schedules can be wacky things, set the year prior).  About two weeks ago I got a phone call from Marta’s teacher and she wanted to let me know that our Marta had been voted as the sophomore class pick for Homecoming Court.  (Each class picks and votes in a girl to be part of the hoopla, to represent their class/grade).  Well, this year, they picked Marta.  Really!  And, because I am cynical, I had them check it out to make sure that in no way was the vote tinged with joking or malicious intent.  Now, don’t judge me.  It’s that protective thing – and you’d do the same thing in my shoes I betcha.   Anyhow, it was legit!  And so, a few weeks ago, Marta came home, lit up about “select me” to be on Homecoming.

So, we buckled up for the bumpy roller coaster ride!

Why bumpy? Why a roller coaster?  Because while this was out of the blue and exciting and kind of amazing…it also meant that we faced two big things: anxiety and ‘feeding the monster.”  Anxiety, because Marta is FILLED with anxiety over new things and needs to feel she can control every tiny detail and so on.  “Feeding the monster” because she already feels she is something of the school “Princess” and that everyone “selects” her.  So…..I wasn’t sure how to offset all that, nor was her teacher.  So, we all agreed to just RIDE THE WAVE.  (To mix all my metaphors through this whole post. It’s early, I’m not fully caffeinated..leave me be.)

So, we did.  There was a lot of crazy.  There was a LOT of excitement.  There was a lot of anxiety.  For two weeks.  And last night was the big event.  It was Homecoming on the football field at halftime! All the girls primped: the specially made dress (seamstress, fittings, oh my), the friend doing her hair after school, the sparkly shoes, the makeup by her sister, the nerves, the pictures, the buddy to escort her (Sweet boy, super nice friend).   Turns out it was POURING about an hour before the game.  Nerves worry worry (for everyone!).  Then it cleared and just left the hottest steamiest summer night of the  year.  Which is great, except for the hairdo’s….oh well.  Slice of life!  Anyhow, Marta carried it off very well. She was a nervous wreck.  She was SO excited and so happy but also so shy about being on the field that we could barely get her to look up!  Good thing we got some cute pics before!

The great thing about this whole roller coaster surfing tsunami (there, now I’ve really done it..) is that Marta felt like a million bucks.  Her sweet wonderful friends at that school made T-shirts that spelled out “We love Marta!”  How great is that?

Love these girls! So great!

Really, how great is that?  Yes, it made me both grin and blink a few tears at the same time.  And as I hustled over to the stands as the whole Homecoming court walked out onto the field, I got a spot smack in the center and handed the camera to Tom so I could shout and clap and yell with the best view.  I had her Tshirt brigade to my left and my littles by my side and her big sister and Hannah’s friends to my right.  All of them, us, standing on the bleachers, shouting and hooting and yelling for Marta.  She laughed, lit up, and looked down, again and again.

And I watched her big sis, my eldest daughter, scream for her sister and I blinked.  Because they have a complicated, jealous both ways, relationship.  And I was so proud of her too.  And I watched and grinned with my little boys and my other girls as we all yelled and clapped.  And I watched the students genuinely shout and clap for our Marta.  And it kind of made me shake my head in wonder.

This complicated tiny girl…she has a way of drawing people to her.  And it makes me laugh and ponder.  And this one night, she got the amazing chance to be a princess.  I usually hate all this kind of high school drama and hoopla.  But last night, and this time, I was grateful.  Because only here, in this special school, in our little town, would this girl  – who came  here a few years ago from around the world – be able to soak in and experience this uber-American teen experience.  And it made her feel like a million bucks.

Was it a rollercoaster? Oh. Yeah.  But, overall, a great ride!  And every time we jokingly call her a new (temporary?) nickname…..she grins a megawatt smile.  Just like a Princess….