Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Never Want to See Another Cookie

We are now in the final days before our very first mission trip.  My to-do list is getting longer and longer by the minute.  Each time I check one thing off, I seem to add two more things to the bottom of the list.  With all the things I still need to do or take care of, I haven't been able to sleep at night. 

Since I couldn't sleep and baking was on my to-do list, I got up at 5:30 am yesterday and began baking for our FMC Pentecost Mission Trip.  I thought I'd get it all done early in the day, so that I could tackle some of the other things on my list. (Did not happen.)  I started by baking blueberry muffins for my family's breakfast, so that no one would interrupt my baking.  I made my coffee and said my rosary in peace while everyone was sleeping.  Soon, the smells of goodies baking escaped the kitchen and entered the bedrooms (and noses) of the kids.  One by one they came, ate, and stayed to help for a moment or two.  Then one by one the left me alone.

I cranked up my new missionary CD---The Ananias Project on my computer.   What better way to bake for a mission trip bake sale, then while listening to the songs and sounds from missions!  So, I sang, and I baked and baked and baked and baked and....  I baked numerous kinds of cookies, several cakes, different kinds of brownies, and other yummy desserts.

One of the girls periodically came to check on me and lend a hand.  During one of her visits, she watched in shock as I scraped every bit of the cake batter into the pan, not leaving any behind, and then rinsed the bowl in the sink BEFORE licking it.  (It doesn't matter what kind of dough or batter it is, I ALWAYS leave batter and then lick the bowl.)  Later in the day, one of the boys came in and witnessed the same thing.  He to wanted to know what was wrong with me as he snatched the bowl just before the faucet water hit it.  He stared at me with his "Are you crazy?" look as he tried to lick the scraped bowl.

That's when I realized that I never wanted to see another cookie or cake again!  So, I began baking homemade breads to sell.  I baked various kinds of breads until 10:00 pm Saturday night.  Luckily, my mother-in-law was in town and took care of feeding us real food for lunch and supper.  This morning we loaded up the car and headed to the bake sale.  After staring at three tables full of cookies and cakes this morning, it was confirmed--I NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER COOKIE OR CAKE AGAIN!

And guess what I was asked to cut and serve to the kids at youth group tonight? A COOKIE CAKE!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

That's What Moms Are For

I love the Spring.  I was the teacher that hated teaching in April and May, not because of all the craziness that comes with the end of the school year, but because of the beautiful weather outside.  I'd much rather have school in the summer and winter and be off in the Springtime when you can actually enjoy the outdoors.

Being a religion and reading teacher, I came up with all kinds of outdoor lessons and activities.  We'd grab our books and head outside to read the week's story.  Or grab our rosaries and head outside to pray.  All while enjoying God's beautiful sunshine!  Now that we are homeschooling, we can simply cancel school on beautiful days!  I'd much rather spend the day outside gardening or just sitting on the back patio watching the kids play and listening to the birds.  In a few weeks, we can spend those extremely hot Louisiana days of summer doing schoolwork inside in the air-conditioning.

Yesterday was one of those days that we spent outside.  Our oldest mowed the grass.  I trimmed.  We cleaned and washed off the carport and patios.  Then our oldest daughter and I headed to weed the garden that had been neglected due to all of our mission trip planning and fundraising.  As we worked alongside each other hoeing and pulling weeds, she screamed every two minutes.  Yes, screamed literally every two minutes.  She is deathly afraid of flying insects.  And rightly so.  She's the one that ALWAYS gets stung or bitten!  No matter where we are stinging or biting insects always find her. 

So, I had two choices:  I could send her in and put her on baby duty like she begged me to do and enjoy my peaceful Spring day, or I could make her remain with me and help her overcome her fear.  It was a hard choice especially after she nearly busted my eardrums several times and ran me over trying to escape a bug.  But I chose the more difficult task knowing that she really wanted to garden with me.  So, I became the "worst mom ever" as I demanded that she remain with me pulling weeds.

I'm pretty sure that all the flying insects in the state of Louisiana came to our garden that afternoon.  She cried.  She screamed.  She ran up and down in between the rows.  It was pitiful and yet a little hilarious.  It was like a scene from a movie.   I tried to make her to understand that they chase her when she runs away and that they would leave her alone if she remained calm.  Finally, as something buzzed our way, I grabbed her arm and held her in place.  She squirmed and cried, but I held her firmly in place.  Thankfully, the bug flew off, and she began to "see" what I was talking about.

Several long hours later (probably just an half hour or two, but it seemed like hours), we were sitting under the tree resting in the shade, sipping our water.  I told her how much I enjoyed our gardening together AFTER she stopped screaming.  She shook her head her slowly and replied, "Yeah, but I'm screamin' on the inside!"  We laughed and then got back to work.  I watched as she froze, held her breath, and then smiled at me as the bugs flew away each time.

On our next break under the tree, she sincerely thanked me for helping her to overcome her fear of flying bugs.  I smiled and told her, "That's what Moms are for."

Friday, May 11, 2012

16 Years Ago...

Sixteen years ago, there were two kids who thought they were in love.  
They had "googly" eyes for one another.  They had a plan. 
They were going to be married forever...................for better or worse.

Today, the two kids are one.
They are more in love than they ever thought possible.
They still have "googly" eyes for each other.
They still have the same plan with a few added revisions. 

And they will be married forever......For Better or Worse.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Our" First Grownup Talk

Here's the talk "we" (as in me and my husband) were suppose to give last night to the Serra Club about "our" vocation.  I use the word "we" lightly because one of "us" didn't make it to the meeting on time.  He was working late, and his text message said, "I love you!  You will do fine.  I'll be there with you in spirit."  I'm sure last night was the first time he actually drove the speed limit and took his time coming home from work.  (But I still love him!)  So, here's "our" first official talk that "I" gave last night without passing out, throwing up, or dying....

When "we" were first asked to give a talk at the Serra Club, we had no idea what it was.  I was caught by surprise before Easter Mass, and I agreed thinking we were going to speak to a small bible study group about our upcoming trip.  Later, I learned what the Serra Club was and just how many people we would have to speak in front of.  My stomach sank!  I can speak in front of a room full of kids all day long, but “grown-ups” make me a nervous.  But I knew that God was calling us to do this.  He’s been preparing us for a while now for something big, so here "we" are following His lead.  So, here's "our" vocation story....

We had always agreed that our Catholic faith was important and that we needed to make sure our kids knew it.   We quickly became involved with the Youth Group when we moved back to Jennings in 1998 when he finished his Air Force duty.  We felt that that was what we were called to do--to make sure these teenagers were given opportunities to grow in their faith that we didn’t have when we were growing up.  We thought we could help keep them from making the mistakes we had made as teenagers.  This was a lot harder than we thought.  Teenagers don’t listen very well!

 In 2000, we had our first son.  And we were called to a new vocation called parenthood.  It was then that we began to fully understand the importance of our faith.  We were now completely “in-charge” of getting this kid to Heaven.  We began to look at life through “new” eyes.  Things that we weren’t concerned about suddenly came into focus.  The world around us looked more dangerous now that we had this child sent from God.   We knew we were going to need a lot more help from God if we were going to be held accountable for returning this child back to Heaven.  Our prayer life began to change even more so as God blessed us with two daughters in the next three years.   Yes, three babies in three years.  The last one needed lots of special medical attention and that brought us to our knees often. We didn't know it at the time, but this helped our spiritual growth tremendously.  God can always turn the trials into blessings.

We continued trying to follow Christ’s call as best we could as parents in our home, in youth ministry in our parish, and for me as teacher at the Catholic school.   The more we tried to teach others, the more we learned.  The better example we tried to set, the better Christians we ourselves became.  Through our vocation as parents, youth leaders, and teachers, we were drawn closer to Christ and as we grew closer to Him, we realized how much we still needed to grow.  But the one vocation that we had forgotten about over those few years was our vocation to each other as husband and wife.  We were so busy tending to trying to “save” all the kids in our life (our own kids, the youth group kids, my students) that we had neglected our vocation to each other.   Our marriage wasn’t failing or in trouble, just neglected and in much need of some spiritual growth.

This was a huge turning point in our lives.  We began to concentrate more on our marriage.  We attended the Lenten Date night put on by the Diocese.  Through our weekly dates, we realized how much we had “missed” each other in the craziness of life.  We vowed to concentrate on “us” more and getting each other to Heaven and would just pray that the rest would fall in behind us.  Later, we attended a Faith Renewal weekend together---an adult “retreat” with speakers whose message was for us, not the teenagers we were always chaperoning on retreats.  Our weekend together was just that---a spiritual renewal of our marriage vocation.  We slowly began to pray more together as a couple not just as a family.  Our life began to change; our kids began to change; our faith began to change; we began to change---for the better!

We learned that when you put your vocations in the proper order, everything works much better.   We have also learned that when God blesses you the way he has been blessing us that He expects you to bless others, which has recently led us to a new vocation---mission work.  We have always been missionaries---people who bring the good news to others.  In the past, the others have been the youth in our lives.   Since our renewed vocation to married life, he has been calling us to be missionaries in a different way.  He has been sending various random opportunities to both of us as individuals and as a couple to help other married couples in their vocation.   So, for awhile we thought that was our new calling.  We had even planned on signing up for this Couples Cruise Retreat that the Diocese is having later this year.  We were going to try to get better “trained” for what WE thought we were being called to do.  We even saved up some money for it.

But after months of discernment about what God wanted, He has led us to something totally unexpected, but something He had been preparing our whole family for.  At the end of May, we will be heading to Mexico, but not on a couple’s cruise and not alone without the kids!   We will be heading to Mexico with all four kids and other families for a 10-day mission trip.  We had always thought about it, but never thought we could actually do it.  But if He wants it, He will show you the way. 

I recently read a quote from St. Gianna Molla that sums of vocation perfectly to me.  When asked, "What is a vocation?" she answered,
“It is a gift from God, so it comes from God. If it is a gift from God, our concern must be to know God's will. We must enter that path: if God wants, when God wants, how God wants. Never force the door."

It’s hard to know what God wants.  It’s even harder to do what He wants when He wants.  It’s much easier to do the things we want when we want.  We’ve learned that if it’s easy, it must not be from Him.  He is constantly calling us out of our comfort zone---constantly challenging us.  But we’ve also learned that each time we accept the challenge, the reward is much greater than we ever imagined.

This is the point where "our" talk ended and also the moment that I see my husband's truck pull up and park in front of the building.  Perfect timing for him!!!  Of course, he came in, and I gave him a hard time about his timing as did some in the crowd when they told him it was his turn and heresponded, "Ditto.  Whatever she said."  And that's why I love him, he always makes me smile!