Catholic Spirituality, Catholics Do What?, Italy pilgrimage

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry” (it’s Padre Pio’s feast day)

September 23, 2016

Today, the 23rd of September, is the feast of the beloved Padre Pio. In a happy coincidence of internet unreliability, I couldn’t blog about it until today, his actual feast day, even though we left Petrelcina, Piana Romana, and San Giovanni Rotondo more than 3 days ago now. We spent 2 days exploring first his hometown of Petrelcina, scaling the winding staircases, peeking into the rooms his family lived and worked. Next we made a quick stop in the neighboring town where he received his “invisible” first stigmata (he received a visible stigmata later in his priestly ministry, from which point on the wounds in his hand would bleed continuously for the rest of his life), now home to a church which marks the spot under an elm tree where he was invited to participate in Christ’s passion in a mystical way, and then finally stopping for the night in the city where he lived and ministered as a Franciscan friar for more than 50 years, and where his partially incorrupt body still lies in state.

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Of the places we saw relating to Pio, I found his family home and the cell where he studied during his novitiate year to be the most moving. Firstly, because seeing the bedroom where his mother delivered him and the kitchen where she prepared the family’s meals shamed me from ever complaining again about the size of our kitchen and the state of our furniture.

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Pio’s cell with his writing desk and bed.

Secondly because, like Assisi, there was a profound sense of the spirit of the saint having permeated the town. Just as Francis still very much dominates his hometown with his presence and protection, so too does Pio. Maybe it’s a particular Franciscan charism?

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Seeing his body was surreal. It was not nearly as moving as visiting the tomb of St. Francis or St. Clare or even St. John Paul II, because the church in which his body is housed has to be one of the ugliest religious buildings ever constructed. The scale is bizarre, and the effect is that the saints’ body is almost an afterthought in this gaping chasm of mosaics and swooping curves. I guess there must be somebody, somewhere, who thought the place attractive enough to sign the million dollar check for the renovations. Either that or was too afraid to stand up to the architect.

Padre Pio is one of the “incorruptibles” of the Catholic church. He died in 1968, and his hands (visible as he lies in state) are withered away to the bone, but his face is serene and untouched by age or corruption. His beard looks as if it still needs regular trimming. His skin looks supple and alive through the glass. It’s a remarkable thing to behold.

I prayed for your intentions there in the brief moment we had to stop before his tomb, and throughout the tour through his hometown and his adopted city. Everywhere you go in Italy there is usually a patron saint of the town or city, unless you’re in Rome and there are 1000 different saints. So in San Giovanni Rotondo, everything is Pio. The Pio pharmacy, Pio rosary stands, Pio banners in the square advertising the festival of Padre Pio (today and tomorrow and Sunday, if you’re interested in going). Even a Pio gelato shop. It’s something completely foreign to the American mind, to see such an intersection of the secular and religious. Even just cruising down the auto strada (the Italian freeway) it’s not uncommon to pass semi trucks with images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some particular saint. The Italian people might not be practicing Catholics any longer, for the most part, but culturally they are definitely still Catholic.

I had the chance to go to confession in the old basilica in San Giovanni, the place where Padre Pio’s body used to lie before he was moved to the amphitheater of mosaic confusion, and it was a true Italian experience. There were 4 confessionals staffed by Franciscan friars, and a room full of chatty Italians who seemed to know, in that way Italians are uncannily able, the precise order they’d each arrived, and therefore who was up next. Sure, forming a line would have been easier and ultimately more efficient, but why constrain ourselves to a linear progression when it could be reasonably estimated, by means of continually scanning the room and making mental observations, who arrived and in which order they did so? Plus, it’s an excuse to talk more.

Finally my turn arrived, and while the list of comprehensive languages outside Father’s confessional included English, it was definitely not his native tongue. But it was such a gift to be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation there in San Giovanni Rotondo where the saint had labored for so many long hours in the confessional, delivering absolution and relieving people of their great burdens. Even jet lagged and anxious as I was, it was still a tangible peace that descended as father spoke the words of absolution in Italian, after explaining in very halting English that he could not remember the prayer in my language. But what better demonstration of the universality of the Faith then for a white American woman with a baby strapped to her chest to have her confession heard by a black priest from a French colony in Africa wearing the brown robes of a Franciscan friar, having taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as first espoused by a tiny Italian man who lived out a radical gospel poverty 700 years ago?

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Tell you what, it’s a wild ride, this Catholicism thing.

Tonight we’re have dinner with our old friends, a mixed American/Italian couple and their 3 beautiful kids, in one of our favorite restaurants near the Vatican. This is my first trip to Italy since cutting out gluten (and most other grains), and it has been a little tricky. Lots of apples and french fries and salads and some surprisingly good meat, at least compared with the stuff I used to buy from my friend the smoking butcher at our local market. Gelato is still good though, and wine is still “senza glutine.” So, va bene.

Happy feast day, and Padre Pio, pray for us!

Uncategorized

A pilgrimage of unexpected proportions

September 22, 2016

Well that was quite a week. Here we are in Rome, and at last with some internet that allows for more than a cursory Facebook post or text message. I want to give a bit of a play by play on where we’ve been so far and the amazing things we’ve seen, but first I need to be totally honest with you guys and also a little bit vulnerable, so here goes. Would you pray for me? I’ve been struggling with profound anxiety pretty much since we touched down in Italy, which I first chalked up to Luke being just a little harder on the flight than we’d expected (ha. just a little.) and then to jet lag, but at this point it’s safe to say it’s not you, Italia, it’s me. I’m not really sleeping much at night and I’m definitely not soaking up la dolce vita, which I realize makes me a complete moron, but I can’t seem to shake the deep, deep funk of missing my big kids. I literally can’t sleep for missing them, and I feel sick about having still another 5 days till we see them again. So I guess the moral of this story is the grass really is never greener, and I will never, ever take for granted a long, frustrating afternoon with my little charges, because while I’m sitting in what is arguably the most beautiful city in the world with my sweet fat baby and my wonderful husband, all I want is to jump a plane home to the rest of our crew and go to the super lame park across the street from our house and play with them.

So anyway, just had to cop to that startling realization that I actually really, really don’t want to be anywhere else than home, with my kids, being their mama for now. And if the Lord had to bring me halfway around the world to drive that point home, and if that is in fact the entire point of this trip for me, then so be it. I will go home content and with unbelievable eagerness to return to the incomparably beautiful status quo.

Let’s back up a bit though, because thanks to the miracle of the disappearing internet connection, I’ve had nada to blogga.

We’ll start at the beginning. Day 1 we touched down in Rome late Saturday morning, waited around for our lost then found luggage (hello, Italy, you haven’t changed all that much) and hopped onto our bus to Napoli. We were a little stunned after 13 hours in the air, no sleep, and a bit of a wait for those bags, but none of us more so than Luke who then resigned himself less than gracefully to another 2.5 hours confined to a moving vehicle. Everyone in our group was positive, by the time Mt. Vesuvius came into view on the horizon, that it was not the ancient volcano that was in danger of erupting, but the angry baby on my lap.

We had a quick tour of the church of Gesu Nuova in Napoli and there we prayed before the tomb of St. Joseph Moscato for all the intentions we’d be entrusted with, along with some special prayers for the doctors and medical professionals we love. After lunch in Naples we drove the short distance to Pompeii and embarked on a 2 hour walking tour of the excavations. It was absolutely stunning. And I was more tired than I’ve ever been in my life, possibly including childbirth. Carrying Luke’s stupid umbrella stroller over 2000 year old marble roads and exposed chariot grooves was an act of olympic effort, and it was only the sight of the 92-year old woman in our group nimbly scaling the elevations and striding briskly through the temples and piazzas that kept me from face planting somewhere. She continues to put the ablest-bodied pilgrims among us to shame.

After Pompeii (this is still all one day) we visited Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, where we had Mass in English and heard a little about Bl. Bartolo Longo, which I am ashamed to admit I remember exactly nothing about. Luke had transformed into a vampire bat at this point and I was doing circles in the hallways and around the church, weaving through crowds of nuns and stray cats and starting to question the meaning of life itself. We got back on the bus after mass and headed to another town that had something to do with a castle and Maria and the ocean, and then we finally crashed. Luke slept about 3 hours and then cordially invited us to stroll the town center with him from 1-3 am, which we agreed to under some auditory duress. It was definitely a good immersion experience, and it true Italian fashion, the streets were so thronged with party goers and gelato and panino consumers that we thought it had to have been a major local holiday.

Nope, just Saturday night in Italia.

Luke eventually found his chill, and we eventually slept another 3 hours until wakeup call. Which is where I will leave you, because I am being summoned to dinner by a handsome little pterodactyl who is ready for his pasta ration. I’ll try to add some pictures when the internet is less sleepy, but you can also follow me on Instagram.

Tomorrow we’ll visit Pietralcina, Piano Romana, and San Giovanni Rotundo. Ciao for now.

Catholic Spirituality, Catholics Do What?, Life in Italy, Traveling with Children

Can I pray for you?

September 15, 2016

Tomorrow morning we head out bright and early with one sweet but angrily-teething baby (who will be assuring our otherwise glamorous trip remains firmly categorized as “pilgrimage”) and 2 suitcases. We’re connecting through NYC and then straight on till Rome. Once we’re on the ground in Italy, we’re headed directly out of town to Napoli (and Pompeii, which my 7th grade ancient-history loving heart is positively atwitter over), and then the rest of the trip is very much oriented toward visiting shrines, churches, and other pilgrimage sites.

We’ll be visiting the Church of Gesu Nuovo on our first day, where lies the body of St. Joseph Moscati (a medical doctor canonized by St. John Paul II.) I’ll be praying there especially for my doctor friends and for a decisive defeat of the physician-assisted suicide bill on the Colorado ballot this fall.

Still in Naples, we head to the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary and learn about Blessed Bartolo Longo, mentioned by name in JPII’s apostolic letter on the rosary as an “apostle of the rosary.” So far the count of “saints I’ve never heard of” stands at 2.

The next morning we head out for Padre Pio’s stomping grounds, Pietrelcina. We’ll be visiting the house where he was born (!), the church where he was baptized, and the church where he celebrated his first mass. Then we head to Piana Romano, the site where he received his stigmata. Finally, we head to San Giovanni Rotondo, where he served as a Franciscan friar for 52 years.

Day 4 is the day I think I’m most excited about, and I’m not even totally sure why. We’re headed to the Grotto of St Michael, which is the oldest shrine in western Europe, a site that St. Francis of Assisi made a pilgrimage to but felt himself unworthy to enter, so he stayed and prayed outside the door. He carved the “tau” cross into the doorpost, which I’m hoping is still visible? But I don’t know. I’d never heard of this place before seeing the itinerary for the trip, but I’ve been crazy excited to visit, even without knowing much about it. Next we head to Lanciano, which my computer wants to correct to “Lansing, Michigan” desperately. Every time. Lanciano is the home to one of the most famous Eucharistic miracles, dating from the 8th century, when a priest doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist said the words of consecration and was astonished to find the bread and wine physically transformed into human flesh and blood. Type O negative, universal donor, to be precise. The flesh is preserved in a reliquary and has been vetted by countless doctors and scientists over the years as the real deal. It’s incredible.

Next we’ll head to Loreto, reportedly the dwelling place of Mary when she was visited by the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, (I know, geography…bear with me for a minute) and then where the Hoy Family may have spent their early years. Pious tradition has it that the house was physically transported to Italy from the Holy Land in the 14th century by “angels,” which is sometimes how the Crusaders are referred to in historical writing. I’ll let you know what I think.

Finally, we head “home” to Rome for 4 days. We’ll hit all the usual spots and I’ll be stopping in to St. Peter’s to walk through the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and of course to visit my main man, JPII, where I’ll be leaving all the intentions we’ve carried with us there with him, like we did last time.

If anyone wants to leave specific intentions, please feel free to do so in the comments, or if you want to remain more anonymous you can message them to the Facebook page. (I’ll be updating IG with shots from our trip in the evenings, but staying off social media during the days in the spirit of actually being on pilgrimage.)

Prayers for a sleepy flying baby and healthy, happy kiddos at home with grandma and grandpa much appreciated!
st michael

About Me, motherhood, Parenting, reality check, social media

Smart phone, dumb mom

September 14, 2016

I wanted a pithier title than that, but the pun artist in me couldn’t resist. #sorrynotsorry

Last night my trusty Samsung Galaxy J6 (sounds fake, but real, and amazingly cheap!) bit the dust in the kid’s bathroom under incriminating circumstances that none of the 4 bathers present would cop to. Best the gal at Best Buy could figure this morning, actually killed the phone a week ago, in all likelihood, when it went splat on the concrete and cracked the display, thereby allowing the magical power crystals installed there by factory unicorns to leak slowly back into the atmosphere, mingling with the stardust from whence they came.

Obviously I’m a big fan of technology. And my life as a mom with a job, kids, doctor’s appointments, volunteer commitments and the title of carpool and grocery schlepper has made me increasingly dependent on google maps, while far flung friendships have secured Voxer and WhatsApp a tender place in my heart.

But. But.

I am connected all the time. And while I like to fancy myself moderate in my usage, especially after my summer of self discovery and internet fasting, the reality is I’m super, super available to anyone who dings for my attention on that little square of magic in my pocket.

And I can’t always say that I’m the same for my kids.

This morning, untethered from my tiny screen, I found myself with the familiar case of the phantom phone checks, reaching idly for my back pocket or into the cupholder or my purse ever 15 minutes or so. I felt like a woman with a tick. I wanted to see what my sister was up to this morning and couldn’t call her, so instead I drove the 9 minutes to her house and pulled into the driveway, catcalling her with lines from Mean Girls and trying to entice her to come shopping. She didn’t take the bait, but she did invite me in for a cup of coffee and 30 minutes of cousin time. 30 minutes that would never have happened had I simply texted her, been rejected, and gone on my merry way.

Hmm, thought I, this actual, physical “stopping by unexpected” thing is kind of cool. I mean yes, she could have been in a towel and displeased to see me roll up in the minivan, but then again, she could have been delighted, as she was.

Once we made it to the store and I had my replacement in hand, I seriously considered bringing it into the library to activate it there while the kids played, but decided I wasn’t so much of a junkie that I couldn’t wait the extra hour until we were home.

Then a funny thing happened. We went into the library and it was story time. And I didn’t run away shrieking. And I didn’t pull out my phone and resign myself to multitasking during the milkshake song, mentally checking out while my kids shook their maracas and licked strangers. Instead I pulled Luke into my lap, plopped Evie into the circle of preschoolers, and I watched them. Listened to the story. Let Luke suck the (non lead based? fingers crossed) paint off of a wooden flamingo figure while the librarian read through 3 books and performed a really stand up rendition of the itsy bitsy spider. Once or twice I reached for my phone to capture a moment and send it to daddy, but it wasn’t there.

But I was there.

I was there, and it was good. And it doesn’t matter if I didn’t preserve the memory or share it with a single other soul. And I know this in my heart, of course, but it’s easy to live as if the opposite is true, as if every memory has to be captured, shared, tagged, and filed away as worthy of being experienced. All the while, the experience being the crucial thing that *is* being missed.

After the library I did something even crazier than story time, and I crossed the courtyard to a little pet store that I’ve walked past 100 times and never thought to go inside. We opened the door and there were dozens of real, live puppies in cubicles of soft straw, playing with toys, wrestling each other, sleeping in piles of fluff. It was semi magical, except for the devastating aroma of pee that slapped enough sense into me via my olfactory system and reminded me WE ARE NEVER GETTING A DOG.

But still.

I told the guy at the desk we were definitely not buying today, but could we look at that little keeshound puppy? He was happy to pull him out and put him into a little play yard with Evie and me, Luke looking on from the safety of his stroller and longing to pull out clumps of fur, no doubt. And the puppy was adorable and I was instantly 15 years old again, playing with the family dog (we had a keeshound named Mac, and he was irascible) and oh, how my fingers itched to snap a shot of Evie getting puppy kisses and nuzzling his fur. Also, I wanted to google “hip dysplasia in keshounds” and research the likelihood of using a live animal to bribe my 2 year old to potty train had any kind of proven track record for success. And also to send a WhatsApp to my 6 siblings that said “MAC!!!”

But instead I just watched her play. I picked up the puppy and cradled him in my arms, showing Evie the right way to hold “not too fast, not too squeezy,” and I soaked up the urine-scented moment of unexpected joy in an otherwise ordinary Wednesday.

Afterwards I took them both out to lunch, free Chipotle kid’s coupons in hand. I sat patiently and helped Luke pop pieces of quesadilla and rice, which is possibly the worst food to attempt to feed a baby in the whole world, into his little mouth. I poured some of my club soda into a condiment cup and let him try to hold it himself, which went exactly how you’re thinking it did. I wiped mouths and answered questions about cheese and why it’s stringy. I passed out lemon slices and picked up single grains of rice off the floor until finally we just gave up and slunk out in shame.

What I didn’t do was check my email. I didn’t log into my work messaging app to chat with colleagues. I didn’t open notebook to drop a rouge idea into text. I didn’t send a single vox, and I didn’t spend a single minute scrolling through Pinterest looking at healing Paleo squash recipes to welcome Fall with all your heart and also gold spray paint.

I was disconnected, but I was present. Am still present. And while my replacement phone is charging up beside me as I type, ready to be activated and to connect me back with the rest of the world, I am aware that I have a pressing responsibility to learn to do this better. My kids are growing fast. In a few years they’ll be clamoring for devices of their own, especially if mommy continues to use hers like it’s the most important thing in the room.

But of course it isn’t.

Or is it?

Is it?

I wouldn’t fault a casual observer for thinking, after spending a few hours or days following me around, that it was.

So here’s to a broken screen, which has done more in 24 hours to show me how broken my relationship with technology has become than any number of self improvement resolutions have done in recent years. Yes, I will reactivate the phone. No, I’m not going back to a dumb phone. But I also don’t want to continue being a dumb mom who is more tethered to her device than to her actual life. Maybe I’ll even leave the device itself tethered, plugged in and waiting for me at home, once it awhile.

(But we’re still not getting a puppy.)

dumb

About Me, toddlers, Traveling with Children

Have baby, will travel

September 12, 2016

This is a little fluffier than last time, because I like to keep you guys on your toes. Also, because I’m staring down the barrel of packing for 10 days with a messy 13 month old and no idea whether we’ll have laundry facilities at our disposal. Which is a good thing to check on in advance, actually, so maybe I’ll send an email to the travel company as soon as I tap this little missive out.

We’ve done a fair bit of international travel with our kids, and all our long flights with kids have been with ages 3 and younger. I think as they get older it will probably get easier, but as we no longer live abroad and their tickets aren’t “free” any more, (ask me about international taxes on lap babies. My upper thighs are a tariff-able region.) we’ll probably never find out.

Or maybe we will. I don’t know why, but our family seems to have been given a travel charism of sorts. Or at least a “travel to Italy” charism. It’s one of those ridiculous this-doesn’t-make-sense-at-all God things, but since we got married almost 7 years ago, we’ve had the opportunity to make the trek for work or as a ridiculously generous gift at least once per year, and always with kid(s). (So to the narrative that laments “your life is over once baby is born” I issue a resounding “nuh-uh.” At least not mine.)

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By now I should be a travel guru where lap babies are concerned, but of course, I’m worried afresh about how Luke my very mobile, cusp-of-walking, pushing 30 lbs chunka love will do on the New York to Rome leg of our journey. I haven’t started worrying about the return trip yet because to date, every return trip across the Atlantic is a blacked out blur in my mind, and hopefully this time will be no exception.

But I do know how to pack a suitcase. And a carryon. And in case anyone out there in blogland is gearing up for holiday travel season with minions and sweating a coast to coast flight, I got you.

Here are some of my non negotiables for friendlier skies with babies on board, in no particular order. Well, maybe in order of size. We’ll go with that.

1. The umbrella stroller. I know you have a great stroller, maybe an  amaz$$$$ing jogger with a super comfortable seat and undercarriage storage for days. That’s awesome. Don’t bring it with you. At least not for an international trip.

First off, cobblestones and inner tube tires do not play nicely together. Secondly, if you will be jumping from plane to train to automobile, the last thing you want is anything larger than a simple umbrella handle to sling over your arm as you wrestle bebe+bags onto a crowded vehicle or into a diminutive seating compartment. I asked around this time because our last umbrella stroller retired somewhere between babies 2 and 3, but alas, I had to resort to a very sophisticated Mickey Mouse model found at Walmart for right around $20 bucks. I’d love to have a Uppababy or BabyJogger version just for such occasions one day, because the construction is so superior, but for the price and with the distinct likelihood that this thing will get super beat up during our trip, Micky Mouse it is. Bottom line: leave the fancy stroller at home.

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#howtodad

2. The baby carrier. Yeah, you’ll have a stroller with you. But once you hit the airport, that bad boy will be pulling double duty as a rolling luggage rack, and you’ll want baby strapped on for the ride until you clear security. (Bonus tip: around the same time the x ray scatter machine things came into vogue, I had my first baby. I’ve only traveled +1 since then, and I’ve never had to go through the scanner. Just step to the side of the line, put your palms out for a bomb wipe down, and be escorted through the center aisle for a simple wanding. Voila. Plus, you get to keep baby strapped on the whole time.)

I am not a huge baby-wearer outside of travel, but when we’re on the move, I wear at least one kid for the majority of the day. I try to wear them during the majority of the flight, too, thought some airlines will make you unstrap them during takeoff and landing. It helps keep baby calm and contained, distinctly increases the likelihood that they will sleep, and makes your arms a whole lot less sore as you’re pacing the rear of the plane for hours. And hours. Once my babies fall asleep in their carrier (I like the Ergo Sport, but I haven’t really tried anything else), I can usually settle gingerly back into my seat with them still strapped on and sometimes enjoy up to an hour or two(!) of peaceful seated flight time. Once you get to wherever you’re going, and especially if you’ll be doing a lot of touristy stuff or walking (like on a pilgrimage) having a front to back carrier is basically essential to having any sort of a good time. And you can always toss them back into the stroller when you’re both too sweaty and too tired to go on.

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3. The food. Bring baby foot pouches or applesauce squeezes. Injecting liquid nutrition straight into an angry toddler’s gullet is a proven delivery system. I usually bring about 40% more food than I think they can possibly eat, and then they eat it all and I spend the rest of the flight changing diapers. Which brings me to my next point…

4. Diapers. Bring so many more than you think you will need. And if you cloth diaper? Don’t do that for the flight. Just trust me on this one. I figure 2 diapers per flight hour is a safe bet, while accounting for delays and tarmac sitting too. So for a 3 hour connection to La Guardia and then a direct flight from NYC to Rome, I will bring 24 diapers. Isn’t that ridiculous? Yeah. But you know what’s worse? Repurposing a blown-out diaper with some  cocktail napkins and crossed fingers. Don’t be that guy.

5. Change of clothes. I bring a single onesie for the baby and I layer the older toddlers so that if one layer gets blown, they can get peeled back to a clean base layer. I’ve definitely arrived at my destination with a shirtless diaper-wearing cherub, but usually the backup onesie is a sufficient plan, and doesn’t bulk up the carryon.

6. Muslin swaddling blanket or scarf as wrap/nursing cover/swaddle/comfort object. Don’t bring their beloved stuffed animal, unless they truly won’t sleep without it. Do bring a super soft, versatile something they can cover up with, rub their face against, and which becomes your umbrella stroller canopy-extension once you’re on the ground.

7. A water bottle with a suction pop top. My little man is currently in the throes of weaning from an actual bottle, but he will be appeased by the sucking action this little water bottle requires. Plus, there are no sippy cups in most restaurants in Italy, so we’ll be able to dump his cappuccinos into this.

8. That’s it. Did you think there’d be more? Trust me, you are already going to be a human pack mule. Don’t exacerbate the problem by overpacking or bringing 10000 fiddly little toys and stickers (okay, maybe 1 sheet of stickers) to try to keep track of on the flight. It’s crap that will get dropped or thrown away anyway, and most airlines offer complimentary tv (cartoons!) on individual screens for long haul flights anyway. Plus, plastic cups and drink stirrers make great toys. If you simply must pack something, bring an activity book with stickers and let them go crazy on the tray table (maybe test the stickiness first) or inflight magazine. I have done the 824 dollar store toys in the bag trick before, and it’s not worth the hassle nor does it keep their attention or keep them from fighting. Flying, as my friend Rachel eloquently notes, is already super stimulating for kids. Let it be that.

What to find/buy/borrow at your destination:

  • A crib or packnplay (most hotels have these, call ahead. Or look up friends in the area and ask for them to lend you one/borrow one on your behalf. You can even buy one at your destination and then gift it to a friend, local charity or church when you leave, and that will still be cheaper (and less of a hassle) than checking and paying international fees for your own trusty Graco model.
  • A carseat. This one is personal preference of course, but when we’re going to be traveling a lot by train/bus/taxi, we don’t bring one. Some parents are okay with this, others are not. When we lived in Italy our kids didn’t have carseats because we didn’t have cars, and carrying around multiple carseats + kids while navigating public transportation would have rendered us effectively homebound. If you will spending time in a car, or if you have a scheduled airport limo pickup or tour bus, most companies will rent you or find you a carseat or booster, too. Ditto for rental car companies.
  • diapers and wipes. Bring what you need for the flight plus day one, then plan on buying the local brand at your destination. It’s actually sort of fun.
  • Babyfood/formula: ditto. Unless your kid has specific food allergies and needs something special.

Traveling with kids is a little bit stressful. But travel in general can be a little bit stressful, and there is something kind of magical about experiencing a new and exciting place with your kids. Plus, people are really so kind, sometimes especially when your baby is having a hard time. We’ve always been blown away by the charity and kindness of strangers, the flight crew, servers in fancy little restaurants you’d swear were coming to yell at you but really just want to take the baby for a stroll around the dining room, etc. It’s a great way to see the world. (Also, pope bait.)

SANY0523as

Buon viaggio! (And pray for us on Friday if you think of it. Fingers crossed for a very sleepy Luke.)
passport

(p.s. follow along on our pilgrimage on Instagram.)

Catholic Spirituality, Evangelization, Homosexuality, relativism, Theology of the Body

Lost friendships, hard truths, and homosexuality

September 9, 2016

This is a sensitive topic, and it’s a post I’ve been mulling over in my head for a long time. My closest male friend in college was gay, and I loved him. We spent many a lazy afternoon together drinking margaritas on the patio of our favorite Mexican watering hole, singing Tim McGraw karaoke and enjoying the endless sunny days Boulder, Colorado had to offer. The last time we spoke, it was to meet for drinks when I introduced my now husband to his then boyfriend. We shook hands, we laughed, we played pool, and we never spoke again.

That was almost 8 years ago now, and I think about him from time to time and go over the slow drift that pulled us apart after college. I wonder if there was some way we could have kept going forward, he living an openly gay life which I never once condemned him for, and me a practicing Catholic, married with a vanful of kids. I don’t know that we could have done anything differently, either of us, to keep things on track, but it hurts my heart to think about what we left behind because of seemingly irreconcilable differences.

I know that part of what caused the drift was his knowledge that my position on homosexuality was immovable. That much as I loved him unconditionally, I would never affirm him in his lifestyle choice. We both smoked at the time and while it was enjoyable, we both knew we should quit – tried to quit together, several times – because we knew the pleasure came at too high a cost. I am not drawing a moral equivalent between homosexuality and smoking, only pointing out that the tension between human desires and cravings and what is actually good for the human person is as old as humanity itself.

The final time we saw one another, I think we both recognized it as such. As much as we practiced kindness and respect for one another, what he wanted from me was compete acceptance of his homosexual relationship, and that I could not give. It simply wasn’t enough that I greet his boyfriend with friendliness, that I shake his had warmly and laugh with him over vodka sodas. He wanted more. And I don’t blame him. The differences that drove our friendship apart are heartbreaking, but they remain irreconcilable.

All of my love and kindness weren’t enough, so long as they fell short of total acceptance of their relationship.

Why, some of you may be asking, couldn’t I just get over myself for the sake of our friendship and tell them that I was happy for them? Why rock the boat so hard someone had to fall overboard?

I guess the answer is twofold. First, we never actually had the “I don’t approve of your lifestyle but I love you unconditionally” talk. We didn’t have to. He just knew. Without my explaining a single thing, he understood that I was Catholic, and that the same morality that precluded premarital sex and marked me out so singly at 1 am down on Pearl Street was the one that informed my view of homosexuality. He also knew I loved him like a brother. He felt the irreconcilability of our opposing positions, and it hurt him. It hurt me, too. But while my other roommates never forced me to choose between accepting their IUDs and sleep-over boyfriends and them, he did.

And thus we come to the real difficulty with the age we inhabit: Anything short of total acceptance is insufficient, and agreeing to disagree no longer seems agreeable enough to remain on one another’s Christmas card list. Or, in a more modern twist, to remain Facebook friends. Because that’s how it played out in real life. With the single click of a button, I was banished.

He wanted not only friendship, but tacit approval. He wanted me to change my moral position to suit his, to jettison my code of ethics and to adopt his own. Because it is uncomfortable to know that someone you love doesn’t approve of what you’re doing.

Just ask the family with 6 kids who gets ridiculed and chastised by extended family for going overboard in the procreation department. Ask the chaste, 32 year old female staffer on Capitol Hill living the single life in a sex-drenched social scene. Ask the young guy discerning the priesthood – and a life of celibacy – at a public university, regularly raked over the coals by his progressive sociology professor for colluding with an archaic patriarchy.

It is difficult to maintain your core values in the face of criticism, rejection, and hostility. It is even more difficult when real, live friendships are on the line. But what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?

This scenario will only become more common as homosexuality becomes more widely accepted, and gay marriage becomes the law of the land the world over. Christians cannot run from the issue. We have to face it, head on, with clarity, charity, and utter humility. The time for polite private disagreement and crossing one’s fingers it doesn’t happen “in our family” has passed. It will happen. Because homosexuality is being advanced in public schools and universities and embraced by popular culture as a new, essential value. And those of us who refuse to recognize – to wholeheartedly embrace – this new value, will be made to suffer the consequences.

And that’s okay.

It is okay to suffer for your beliefs. Actually, if we aren’t suffering for them, I wonder if there might be something not quite right, as the Lord Himself flatly states in John 15:18.

So I want to wrap up with a charge and a challenge. The first is to know your beliefs, to read deeply and pray intensely into the issue, and to search the Scriptures and the documents of the Magisterium to know what you believe, and to be ready and willing to explain it and defend it. If you are struggling with the Church’s position on homosexuality – or anything else for that matter – then it is your responsibility to inform and then reconcile your conscience to the Truth. There have been numerous issues over the 33 years I have lived as a Catholic that have stopped me almost in my tracks. And my response can only ever be to question, to challenge, to study, and finally, to accept with humble obedience even when I do not understand.

The Church’s teachings are the teachings of Christ. If one of them is a sticking point for me, then it’s me who has to move. Not Him. 

The second challenge I have is this. Do you have a friend, a neighbor, or a relative who is gay? Do you keep the relationship at arm’s length, hoping the difficulty won’t rear it’s inconvenient head? Are you being authentic in your love for this person, or are you intentionally keeping it surface level to keep the peace?

Don’t do that.

If there’s one thing I wish I could do over with my lost friendship, it’s that we talked more openly and more intentionally about that elephant in the dorm room. I don’t know that it would have changed the outcome, necessarily, but I think I’d wonder less about “what if?” and I know that part of what held me back was cowardice. Was wanting to keep things agreeable, friendly, light.

But look where that got us.

I hope he knows how much I loved him, and how much I love him still. And that no amount of disagreement between us had to end things. If he called tomorrow, we could pick right back up. I know a great margarita place just down the street, and we could talk for hours.

the trouble

(Comments on this post are closed. Respectful dialogue is welcome on Facebook.)

About Me, Catholic Spirituality, Catholics Do What?, Evangelization, JPII

Who’s your BFS?

September 7, 2016

This past weekend Pope Francis solemnly pronounced what the faithful have known for nearly 20 years now – that Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a saint. I had a front row seat via the various social media newsfeeds to the devotion this little woman inspired in people across all ages and cultures, and it was inspiring to behold. It was also a little disturbing to see that my social media worldview is so myopic that every single “friend” or follower, almost to a fault, was going gaga over little St. T. (Either that or the entire world really was focused on Rome last weekend. Dare to dream.)

But I digress.

Last night I lay in bed, unable to sleep and so fingering my rosary – a gift from our youngest son’s godfather which was touched to the body of Mother Angelica while she lay in state last spring (#Catholicsbecray) and I wondered over the phenomenon of how certain saints inspire such fervent devotion in the faithful, and others kind of fly under the radar for centuries, popping up in a later age only to be discovered as unbelievably important and applicable. I’m thinking here of St Therese, St Faustina, saints like those who’s sanctity was kind of discovered quietly and after their mortal lives had ended, exploding from the halls of eternity into the present with a kind of grace bomb that was exactly what the world and the Church needed at that precise moment.

I was also thinking about how most people seem to have favorite saints, and while there are a few universal rockstars beloved by the entire Church, there are thousands and thousands more who are still – or are now – relatively unknown. And I think it’s awesome. It’s awesome that God gives us saints to befriend and emulate and petition for prayers and heavenly assistance because it’s such a tangible connection between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. And it is so like our incarnational God to leave a kind of mentoring channel open between the would-be and the have-been Saints.

I love to hear people’s stories about why they named their kids a certain name, or what the significance of that huge St. Joseph statue in their office is, or why they wear that particular marian medal. It’s fascinating to me how our best friend saints (BFSs if you will) seem to choose us, and not necessarily vice versa.

I heard so many recountings of what Mother Teresa meant to people last week in the lead up to her canonization: how she changed a life with a single encounter, how she’d been a faithful intercessor for a mother for many years, how she’d given a certain piece of advice and redirected the trajectory of a soul.

And I thought, of course, of my own BFS, St. John Paul II, and how much I love him.

How generous the Lord is, to give us such wild variations in personality and life circumstances and historical context. There’s literally a saint for pretty much anything you can think up, and I’d wager there’s a saintly personality that almost anyone on earth can relate to. It calls to mind CS Lewis’ words:

How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.”

I love JPII for his holy boldness, for his bravery, for his unwavering courage in the face of tyranny, for his propensity to speak truth to power, for his deep love for human love, and for his profound understanding of the mystery of the human person and of the dignity of our sexuality. I think even if he hadn’t played a pivotal role in my own conversion story, I would have come to know and love him. But it’s a hundred times sweeter that he did, and that as I grew to know him better, my heart recognized in his a kindred spirit. Because how like God is that? It’s a bit like discovering the goodness of fit between your spouse’s and your own while you’re dating, to have that moment of encounter and thrill to the realization of “you, too?”

I’m excited for my children to discover their own intercessory champions as they grow and mature in their faith. Even as little boys, my 2 eldest have beautiful devotions to St. Nicholas and St. Anthony, which is funny because we’ve not named anyone after those two great men yet. Our little family has a strong devotion to St. Joseph and to St. Maximilian Kolbe, and of course to JPII, but my biggest boys have saint friends all their own, without any real influence on our part. How crazy is grace?

So who are your BFSs? And if you don’t have one in particular who jumps out to you, have you ever stopped to ask the Lord to reveal one to you? Some years I’ve used Jen Fulwiller’s saint name generator and let a saint “choose” me at random, but my deepest and persisting devotions have been discovered more organically through life circumstances.

Thank God for friends in high places, and for friendships that span time and space. Only a creative God like ours could have come up with such craziness.

St. John Paul II, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese, St. Rose of Lima, St. Joseph, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Anthony, St. Genevieve, St. Luke, St. David, St. Nathan, St. Francis, St. Nicholas, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and Mother Angelica, and all you holy men and women, pray for us!

John Paul evoking a young Karol Wojtyla

John Paul evoking a young Karol Wojtyla

 

About Me, Catholic Spirituality, house reno, Life in Italy, reading, Traveling with Children

7 quick takes: oldschool

September 2, 2016

Remember when blogging was just basically long Facebook statuses? And bloggers wrote about mundane minutia and nothing was brand conscious or beautiful or filtered? Sometimes I miss those days. I think readers do too? I’m not saying I wish all blogging was still raw paragraphs and embarrassing fonts and sparkle GIF signatures, but it is nice to revisit a simpler past from time to time. And I know I always love when my favorite bloggers write day in the life kind of stuff. So, without further ado, some disconnected thoughts and things I’m loving lately.

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Mother Teresa. I love her, my husband has a super big devotion to her, and she was bffs with my favorite saint of all time, so I can.not. get enough of these video montages and all the coverage of Rome gearing up for her canonization on Sunday. Her love and her clarity and her pragmatism have rescued me in some of my darkest moments of motherhood. Some of my favorite quotes of hers:

mother

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2 weeks until we leave with Luke for Rome, Lanciano, Manoppello, San Giovanni Rotondo, Pietrelcina, Pompeii, and a couple other places so awesome it makes my head spin thinking about it. We’re going on pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy with our wonderful Archbishop, and we’ll be seeing Italy in an entirely different way that does not involve schlepping 2 toddlers on public transportation and changing diapers on the floors of every major basilica. (Actually that last part is still totally going to happen. But the tour buses will be a significant upgrade.) I would be honored to pray for you while we are visiting the different holy sites and shrines. And I very much covet your prayers for a well behaved lap baby who is newly mobile and can hardly be contained on my person for for 11 minutes, (I’ve been practicing and nervously timing him so I know this) let alone 11 hours.

capp practice

Feeling like a fresh new mom all over again while I countdown the hours till takeoff. Wine and melatonin. Wine and m-e-l-a-t-o-n-i-n.

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Our new neighborhood is great, but it isn’t our old neighborhood. The street is significantly busier, the foot traffic is 100% more, and the kids are kind of struggling with the concept of an off-limits front yard, however great our backyard (will eventually be/)is. I’m trying to think of all the ways this house is an improvement even though we miss our old hood, and I’m trying to unleash my inner gardener/manual laborer as we gear up for a long weekend of laying mulch and generally de-crappifying a quarter acre of complete horticultural neglect. I wish I was as outdoor crafty as I am indoor crafty.

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Lovely,

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Still basically serviceable,

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And then it gets real. Reminds me of my Steubie days.

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The downstairs/main level is looking pretty great. Dave worked hard laying these floors which are actually (drumroll) plastic. They’re luxury vinyl planks, installed to the tune of $1.99/sq foot after the Pergo engineered hardwood we’d ordered was so damaged during shipping that it was unusable. 4 frustrating hours later we surrendered and took the stuff back to Lowe’s, who to their eternal credit returned the entire order no questions asked. Customers for life. And this plastic stuff? I can clean it with a diaper wipe, a wet rag, a mop, a vacuum, whatever. It doesn’t really feel like wood, but it does look pretty good, and I’d do it again in heartbeat. When the kids are older and we’re richer (that’s a thing, right? Hahahaha…..no.) we’d love to do hardwood, but for now, plastic floors are mother’s little helper. Holler.

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Madame Secretary. Everyone I’ve talked up this show to has wrinkled their nose at me and asked “isn’t that about Hillary Clinton?” to which I respond “Only in that Tea Leoni is also blonde and has a female reproductive system.” because, no. Just no. It’s the most awesome show on the Netflix right now, and Dave and I eagerly gobble up an episode every night once the kids are abed. This week we’ve had a slew of nighttime obligations and last night I was longing to be curled up in front of the laptop watching the Secretary help save the world, along with her winning staff and clever dialogue. Watch it. You won’t be sorry.

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Christy came to my rescue earlier this summer and filled my ear with book recommendations. I’ve loved everything she’s told me to read, but I’ve especially been obsessed with Kate Morton. So far I’ve read the Lake House, the Forgotten Cottage, the Secret Keeper and the Distant Hours. I think the Secret Keeper was my favorite, but I loved them all. It’s so rare to find modern fiction that isn’t either trashy, super gruesome or just … bad. And these are none of those, and set largely in Cornwall, England, and I love everything about them. The end.

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Grace shouted out these jeans from Old Navy and I might have to squeeze myself into a pair this weekend and see if the hype is warranted. I love ON jeans because you can wear them … a lot of times between washes. Which is unhygienically important to me at this stage of life.

See you over at Kelly’s (who wrote the most beautiful piece earlier this week or maybe last about prayer as a special needs parent)

7qt

About Me, motherhood, Parenting, Suffering

The winnowing season

August 31, 2016

This summer has been, my recent college grad sister and I keep joking to each other, “the summer of ‘no.'”

As we trudged through these past 3 hot months shoulder to shoulder, she searching for a job and I for a home, we had ample opportunities to commiserate. She couch surfed with us a few nights most weeks, trading babysitting and extra hands on deck at dinner and bedtimes for a place to crash when she had interviews in Denver. Some evenings would find me frantically unwrapping string cheeses and pelting them at the kids as I backed out the door towards yet another showing, tossing apologies along with mozzarella.

My children were patient and flexible for the most part – remarkably so for their ages. We must have dragged them through 2 dozen houses in 6 weeks. I, however, was not so patient. Not so flexible.

As one contract and then another fell apart after unwelcome surprises during the inspection process, I would retire to my room at night and cry hot, salty tears of frustration and exhaustion into my pillow. We had already given tentative notice to our landlords and I’d been packing. I couldn’t believe we could be starting over.

Of course, you know the punchline and I should have known the punchline all along. Here I sit tapping this out on the final day of August, a breeze coming through the open sliding door from our new backyard. It was just a little over a month from the depths of despair to closing day, all told. Long enough for me to contract shingles and lay uselessly on the couch for the better part of that month, and long enough for me to fall out of the habit of social media use and much internet use at all.

And you know what?

It was glorious.

It was so glorious that I’m a little sad I’ve come back at all, because being alone with my kids and our little life and only hearing about terrible news and global goings on from my husband casually over dinner or in the homily at Mass was pretty awesome.

I found, to my everlasting surprise, that I liked being “just” a mom for a while. Blistering rash and all. And I found that when I did make my way back to the keyboard, the words didn’t flow quite the same, haven’t flowed quite the same since.

I spent the other morning lying in Evie’s rejected toddler bed – which she expresses her perpetual disdain for by regularly removing her pajama bottoms and urinating in it and then sprinting from the scene cackling like a drunken Olympian – just cuddling with the younger 3 and reading them stories. We probably spent 45 minutes just lounging around, thankfully with no urine present this day, and I CAN NOT remember the last time I’ve done something so intentionally meaningless with them. There were no orders being barked, no multitasking, no thoughts of wasted time or lost productivity. Just big, sloppy baby kisses from Luke’s enormous puppy dog mouth and endless renditions of the Bunny Rabbit Show.

And I kind of loved it.

Maybe that’s an admission that should embarrass me, that I can’t remember the last time I just messed around with them. But the truth is, I didn’t really know how.

If I hadn’t spent the bulk of last month uselessly splayed out on the couch with Netflix blazing and babies and crumbs collecting around my ankles, I doubt I’d have been able to enjoy it. I’d have been thinking about the laundry piles, the unanswered emails, the looming deadlines and requests for help, for connections, for advice, for collaboration. But that morning I just stayed where I was, physically and mentally content to remain at home.

I am sorry for the months and years I wasn’t able to be in this place with my kids, but I have no guilt.

I don’t think I was ready for full contact motherhood until recently. I think it was essential to my mental and physical health that I have some degree of separation from my kids, and I think it helped me to survive a demanding season of life.

But my parenting muscles are growing. I’m getting stronger and more able to withstand long stretches of time without the relief of going off duty, even if only mentally. And I’m so glad. Because I love my children, but also because for a while there was a sneaking suspicion, never voiced but ever present, that maybe I didn’t pick the right life, so to speak. That I should be doing motherhood better, stronger, more joyfully.

Now I can see a little more clearly that as they have grown and changed and matured, so have I. That it’s easy now to do what was impossible when I had my first baby, when I’d only recently been removed from the position of “center of the universe.” (Painfully obvious disclaimer: I’m not suggesting all non-parents are selfish. Just that I was. And am.) And it isn’t that I chose wrong when I chose marriage and motherhood, just that I said yes to an idea and to an ideal, and reality is infinitely more beautiful and more difficult.

(Oh, and for sure I don’t plan on dismissing my extraordinary mother’s helper any time soon, so please don’t misread this as a missive for why a mother must do All The Things by herself. Malarky. I may be taking more enjoyment in the “wasted timelessness” or whatever Pope Francis calls chilling on the floor with Legos, but introverts still gonna introvert. So for 8 hours a week. Just throwing that out there.)

The summer of “no” was a bummer. But it has ended up being a beautiful, necessary season of suffering and course correction that had me thanking God for the gift of shingles, for mold problems, even for sleepless nights when it was all said and done.

It is a gift to see oneself in the light of reality. And the reality that hit home for me is that this season really is fleeting, and that while more days than not are dog hard and long as hell, there’s nowhere I’d rather be, and there’s nothing more important that I could be doing.

I’ll still be writing here in this space, because writing is another thing I was made to do. But it may be with less frequency, or it may not. I’m not really sure what this fall and winter holds for our family, but I suspect that I’ll be saying a lot more no’s so that my yeses can be more whole hearted.

masculine tape

 

About Me, Catholic Spirituality, house reno, sin, temperaments

Radically detached and slightly unhinged

August 25, 2016

Maybe we should get a kitten.

We’ve been in our new house a week and a half now, and as the floors are slowly covered with clean, shining new surfaces to scratch and scuff and sully, I find myself sucking in pained breaths of First World air, agonizing over the new damage wrought almost immediately upon installation. I remember learning in earth science or some class that all of life is essentially in a constant state of decay, the microbes and bacteria at war with the material universe in a continual cycle of reclaim and recycle.

I could see that with mine own eyes as the kindergartener dragged a waylaid dresser across the new living room floor, gouging a cut in the surface my husband and sweated to perfect only 12 hours before. The walls are almost literally crumbling around us as we shift and juggle and apportion furniture to different rooms, scraping and arranging against new and unfamiliar walls.

A little to the left crash no let’s try that wall, scraaaaaaaaape, no maybe back there was perfect crunch.

I joked to my babysitter this morning that I would have made a terrible nun because material detachment is so painful for me, before I stopped and wondered aloud to her (bless her heart, she puts up with a lot between me and the kids) if actually, maybe motherhood is a little tougher for my personality type, at least, because the detachment is less of the bandaid-ripping surrender all your worldly goods and don this habit, and more of the for the rest of your days, you will see furniture destroyed, walls marked, and floors savaged. Prepare your heart to love the people more than the place. 

I am not a graceful detacher. I am more of a strangle-holding controller. My really lucky husband and my darling children are benefiting from a front row view of the disassembling of my fragile, Type-A psyche under the assault of motherhood and early childhood. This morning as we shoved my precious leather couch through the front door, my heart sinking as we punctuated the backside with a fresh laceration, I noticed a tag I’d previously overlooked: “Durablend: 17% real leather.”

That’s so nice, I thought, beads of sweat dripping onto the scratched laminate floors we did not install but have managed to really bring to rustic perfection in just over 1 short week. I’m glad it’s not real.

All this to say that I am as much a work much in progress, as is my slowly-beautifying and simultaneously-necrotizing house. For every wall I finish painting, stepping back in satisfaction to sigh and set paintbrush aside, 15 more improvement/repair projects pop up in the resultant vacuum.

I’m kind of like that too. For every layer of bad habit, pesky personal shortcoming and outright sin that I allow the Lord to peel back, I am rewarded not with a static, serene panorama of progress, but with a fresh jolt of “Look at all that garbage! man there’s still a lot of work to do.”

During this summer of shingles and signings and strips of packing tape being applied and removed, I have become more and more humbled by my utter incompetence to weather any actual stress, and by my husband’s incredible fortitude under pressure. I’ve marveled over my kid’s flexibility while marking my own fragility in wonderment, scarcely recognizing that the woman who scaled mountains in her twenties and now bursts into tears over first days of school and flooded basements.

I don’t feel like I’m going backwards though, not exactly. It’s more like the Lord is revealing, through the circumstances of my very ordinary life, my actual position in the universe: weakness.

And there seem to be two choices; either I allow the weakness to overwhelm me and I scramble to deny it, wrapping my fragile heart in material comforts and conveniences and surface-level stuff, or I embrace the weakness and transform it to receptivity, looking expectantly to God to make up for what is clearly lacking.

I have thought often enough this summer that if I just had more help or more money or more energy, everything would be fine. Which is a lie. Because it’s never enough. The human heart is an endless chasm of desire, and no amount of material striving will fill it.

In fact, some of the most memorable moments of providence have been from moments of abject need: friends rallying with meals and helping hands while I lied in bed, to sick to tend to the kids. My parents and in-laws swooping in with power tools and muscles and moving boxes to transplant us from one house to another while I cried paint-streaked tears of overwhelm and gratitude, huddled in a too-hot bathroom at 11pm with a roller brush and 3 opened cans of primer.

Every time I’ve shown Him my real weakness this summer, He has overwhelmed me with a blanket of grace, covering my metaphorical nakedness with such generous care that I could not help but acknowledge my littleness and His bigness. And that has always been a little hard for a choleric go-getter. I don’t like to need, I prefer to be needed. But He waits patiently, allowing me to follow my delusions of grandeur to their natural conclusion. And then He rescues. He delivers. And I am ashamed and relieved and resolved all over again.

And then I find another wall to paint.

Home renovation and holiness is the work of a lifetime. And that is why I suspect we should find ourselves a cat, to hurry along the progress of perfection.

(Dave, if you’re reading this, you know I want a little calico, and that the kids want to name him Peyton Manning.)

progress