Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas 2011


     This year has been incredible for our family. Just incredible! I love to read all of my past Christmas letters and see how different each year is. I am deliriously happy that I have chosen to trust God and let Him be in control of my life and my family. I got the opportunity to take a Bible Study that went through the entire salvation History of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation back in 2005. I am now teaching this Bible Study to a group of 15 teenagers. I love reliving this study. If the Bible could be broken down to one central theme, it would be, “Do you trust God?” One story after the other puts the Israelites in a position that seem impossible to overcome (conquering a populated city of giants….Surviving 40 years in the desert with no sign of food or water…etc.). Do they trust God? Most of the time, the answer was no. Those consequences usually ended up with God handing them over to their enemies. But, when they said yes, it was a glorious story, a miraculous story. Bread would rain from heaven, water would flow from a rock, walls would come tumbling down on their own, babies would be conceived from barren women (old grandma type women!). So, when people respectfully ask me questions of concern that a large family is commonly asked (What about paying for college?....What if you have another special needs child?....What if something happens to your husband, or you?), I just have to smile. Well, what if I give up all of my control, die to myself, and let God have all of me? It’s a scary thought but to me, it’s even scarier not to. The graces pour over our family and I so want everyone else to see and experience it too.

Roy finished off another year of Theology of the Body (TOB) for Teens and began planning to teach it again for three different classes this Fall. Those plans had to be delegated out due to an unforeseen deployment to Afghanistan. He left in September and scheduled to come back for 2 weeks in May. He will be home for good in September, 2012. He loves his job. He is in charge of the northern ½ of Afghanistan’s equipment. He recently gave up all of the military vehicles to the Afghan army and now puts around in tiny little civilian cars. I giggle at the thought. We get to talk to him on the computer a couple times a week. We can call him whenever we want using a regular phone number and not that long 21 digit number I had to use back in 2003.

I got to facilitate a Theology of the Body class for adults over the Lenten season. I loved it! I wanted to continue in the Fall but, thanks to Roys deployment, I couldn’t add one more thing to my list. Instead, I use some of my time to take some Catholic classes with the Bishop Helmsing Institute . They have been great! They are classes for adults to continue their education. It didn’t end after Confirmation you know! I took on Roy’s TOB class for the homeschoolers on Fridays. It has been great. So great, in fact, that this is one of my biggest obstacles when Roy comes back! I don’t want to give up teaching this and Roy will NOT give it up either and I think teaching together will just be an interrupting contest between the two of us. Pray for us!

This is the first year that I have had all 8 kids home for homeschooling. I have a few different avenues for schooling them so I don’t have to do it all and the kids get to travel around, meeting other people and having different teachers. We have a large and religiously diverse co-op that meets at my church, Coronation of Our Lady. It is so nice to only live a few blocks away. Not only do we do school there on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but we are able to take turns going to daily Mass and volunteering whenever we want. Travel time has no effect. The kids also take a Writing class on Wednesday and Thursday in Overland Park with the finest, nicest and most productive teacher on the planet. Every Monday, I do a co-op with 3 other families. We rotate our homes each week. My dad teaches the teenage boys Physics and I teach the elementary Chemistry class and the High School Personal Finance class. Actually, Dave Ramsey teaches the class, I just pop in the video.

I haven't mentioned any of my kids yet! Oh well, they don’t have to make every letter do they?? Just look at the picture. They are bigger and one year older than last year. Enjoy.


In July, our church was blessed with a new priest. I had been praying so hard for a particular priest to come and God answered my prayers with a priest that I believed was too unattainable to even pray for! Wow. Have I learned nothing in my Bible Study!! Fr. Stephen Hansen. What a man! What a priest! What a saint! This is a man who is on fire for his Catholic Faith, so much so, that he has even made it contagious. He ran up to me in my car with an arm full of candles to show them off to me. Sometimes he will yell across the hall to say a Hail Mary for him on my way to the car. He stops me and asks me how I am doing and how Roy is doing. For the first time ever, I feel like I have a real spiritual father. He makes me want to be a saint. He makes me want to be a better wife and mother and teacher and child to my parents and to God.

The day before Roy flew off to Afghanistan was one of the most exciting days of my life. Sounds bad right? Well, not if you’re me! LOL. On September 8th, the homeschoolers had our back to school Mass at our church with MY new priest. Yes, he’s mine and everyone should be jealous. The church was packed from front to back. Our family was sitting in the front row and got to witness my father make his very first Holy Communion. Yes, he is a Catholic now. I am no longer a child in a divided home. Haha. What a beautiful night. It was a perfect way to end Roy’s time at home. The very next morning, we drove Roy to the airport. Our van got sniffed by dogs for bombs because it was so close to 9-11. Makes me worried about why we are leaving Iraq and Afghanistan. I fear that we are inviting them over here. We have too many “Israelites” complaining, “We can’t afford the war….We should just talk out our problems with the enemies….We could never win….there are too many of them….they are giants!” Ok, well, I haven’t heard anyone complain about the terrorists being giants but you get the idea. Do you trust God or not? If we are to be handed over to the enemy, maybe it’s not because we couldn’t afford it or they are giants and we could never have won. Maybe it’s because of our own disobedience to God and His Law.   

On that note, Merry Christmas!!!

                                                                                                Love,
                                                                                            The Christy’s
Roy, Katy, Nick, Mary Kate, Samantha, Max, Theresa, Benjamin, Josephine, Matthew

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Embracing my Interruptions

If I could give one secret to keeping my sanity, it would be this...Embrace my interruptions. This is on my mind every so often but now that my interruptions have multiplied, it is worth blogging about. Years ago, a friend of mine told me, "your interruptions are your life's most important work." I had to really experience this for a time before the light bulb went on. I began to identify every time I was interrupted and evaluate whether it was really important. Writing just a day's worth of interruptions would be impossible. I would probably get interrupted just trying to do that! Here are some examples that I had recently...

My Saturday is FREE! I can actually catch up on laundry, clean my room and maybe even give it a good steam vacuuming. If I can catch a break, I can write out the next quiz for the teen Bible class I'm teaching. I can't wait!
7 or 8 something  a.m.. Maybe 9. Who cares, its Saturday!  - The first interruption has already begun. I'm woken up by my 4 year old, Josie, asking me a question about having candy for breakfast." Uh...no.  Go away.  I'm tired. Why would you wake up your poor mother to ask if you can have candy for breakfast?" 
Just as my feet hit the floor, Matthew says, "Mom! Mom! Mommy! Watch." He is on my headboard, getting ready to jump onto my bed. It was nice for him to wait for me to sit up this time. I don't really put my feet onto the floor. They are actually on a carpet of socks. I am determined that today is the day that all laundry will be found and washed and every sock will meet its match and the rest pitched! I know, I know, I can't do this in one day. I've actually been working on this goal for a week now. The wonderful  children keep dumping out the sock basket several times a day for no other reason than they just passed it and it was there.
I begin with my morning ritual...fill my mug with water and one peppermint. Heat it up for exactly 2.35 minutes in the microwave and proceed to pull out the ingredients for French Toast. As they cook on my  enormous family reunion size griddle, Max runs inside with another chicken egg. He has to show me and tell me where he found it and what chicken it came from. He is all smiles. I hope this excitement of finding an egg never ends.
Next up, I hear complaints from the other room that someone needs a new diaper. Now it is time for some delegating. "Max, will you finish up the French Toast while I take care of the baby?"

Oops. Wait,  the baby just woke up! I'll be right back to finish this blog....

Ok. He is so cute! I think I will nurse him until he's in Kindergarten. Moses mommy probably nursed longer than that right?

After the diaper, Josie reminds me that her night time diaper is still on. While I am with her, Theresa and Ben come running in with big eye's and smiles and insist that I go downstairs to listen to their duet on the piano. I listen to it over and over since they have to start over every time a mistake is made.  I rush them upstairs to eat before breakfast gets cold. Everyone is eating except me:( I have to make another batch for the little piggy's and myself just as Roy calls on Skype. All the kids bolt from their seats and fight to squeeze their little heads into the web cam screen. Ben accidently pushes the wrong button on the computer and hangs up on him. The fighting has begun! I come to the poor boys defense and call Daddy back. All the breakfast is getting cold on the island while I am making another batch that the kids won't eat now because they are distracted by Dad.

Here we go again. I'll be right back. Nick just got home from work and a bon fire at his friends house. I have to find out how his day was and see if I can squeeze out some teenage drama stories out of him. In the homeschool world, it's a little boring. LOL.
I'm back. No drama. Just clean fun with 27 of his closest friends out in the country.

I better speed this up or I will be blogging for 15 more pages. I can't even get passed breakfast. I forgot about my hot chocolate!! Its not hot any more but at least the mint got completely dissolved. See? God has a plan for everything. He gifted me with an even mintier tasting hot chocolate.

My point? Oh yes, I had a point to this other than the daily grind of my Saturday morning.

How I embraced my interruptions will be a determining factor in my salvation, I can assure you. If you are the type of person that hates to be interrupted, you would not want to be me for even an hour. As a matter of fact, you probably wouldn't even want to call and talk to me for more than 2 minutes. The interruptions are endless...BUT, are they really my most important work?

Lets review. I opened my eyes this morning to see the cutest little red head with eyes bulging out in anticipation of what my answer will be about candy for breakfast. I choose this over any annoying alarm clock.
I look at my baby smiling from ear to ear because he is about to show off to his mommy how high he can jump and bounce.
I see the excitement in Max's face as he shows me another egg that you would think was made of gold. What is he really more excited about?  Finding the egg? Or showing his mom so I can share in his excitement? Oh, how much power I have!
When I change my baby's diaper, he plops himself on the floor, awaiting our allotted time together. About 5 times a day, we both can expect to be together just for this occasion. I sing or play peek-a-boo and he smiles and giggles.
I watch the smiles and giggles coming from Ben and Theresa as they play their piece again and again and again. They will never be this little again. I soak it all up and are grateful they didn't pull out their violins instead. It could have been worse.
I made all of this French Toast that no one is going to finish eating because Dad called. I could be upset but remembering my motto, I just take a deep sigh and start cleaning up last nights mess of a kitchen.

In the end, all my kids are happy that they talked to Dad. Theresa and Ben told him about their duet, Max told him about another egg sighting, Matthew says "Hi Daddy" 15 times. Samantha and Mary Kate get to talk to him without being annoyed with the baby's diaper fiasco from earlier.

The bear that lives downstairs awakens (Nick), gobbles up all the French Toast and I finally reheat my hot chocolate and get to drink all of its peppermint taste, in peace. The entire morning all worked out thanks to the interruptions.  

In case your wondering, I did finish the socks. I watch episodes of Murder She Wrote on Netflix when I do laundry. I pause it every time I am interrupted. It took me 3 hours to watch one episode because of my interruptions.  As long as I run my motto in my head several times an hour, I not only remain calm but it free's me to relish these important moments that I will so quickly forget. It keeps me happy. It keeps me sane. God Bless my interruptions!!

 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God is the Magnet

In my Theology of the Body class for Teens, we are working on the chapter called Naked Without Shame. It is about what life was like before sin entered the world. Why were Adam and Eve naked without shame? It seems unfathomable to us to have a world where everyone is buck naked. It could make a sane person be grateful for the Fall. lol. Well, I hope not.
There is a skit that is recommended to bring home this topic. It is called God is the Magnet. I personally like to call it the Naked-Without-Shame skit because it makes my teenagers giggle at the thought of what they may be asked to do. I love their reaction!! I don't get any volunteers but I get a lot of kids trying to volunteer their friends. Love it. Love it.
I need 2 boys and a girl. God, Adam and Eve. Adam lies on the floor. God takes a rib & makes Eve. Adam (played by my darling son, Nick) wakes up & see's God's gift. He's drawn to her and uses the common pick up line used all over the Power and Light district on Friday and Saturday night..."Alas! Bone of my bone! Flesh of my flesh!" Nick circles her, sniffs her and has to add "Hey, baby girl." That is NOT what Adam said! Time to move on. ...
I ask the class...What is going on here? What did Adam really see? What was Adam drawn to that fascinated him so much? What Adam (and Eve) saw was God. Yes, they saw God IN each other's nakedness. God is the magnet that drew Adam towards Eve. God is the magnet that drew Eve towards Adam. The difference between them and us is that Adam and Eve were able to see God clearly through their nakedness because they had a purity of heart.  There was no sin, therefore, there was no shame. There was no fear that they would see each other's body impurely.
Time for Eve (Jessica Neiderhiser) to ruin all humanity:( Eve pulls the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (played by Annika Darby). Now, Adam and Eve cover themselves in shame. Again...What just happened? Now, they each have a fear that they will see each other with lustful eyes and lustful hearts. Now, this purity of heart and being able to see clearly has been clouded by original sin. We fail to see the original innocence that Adam and Eve had which is why we clothe ourselves.  God gave us a defense mechanism to protect ourselves, called shame.
How does this relate to the relationship between and man and a woman now?  When a man see's the beauty of a woman, he is drawn to her. So, what is really going on in the bottom of these desires?....As a man is drawn to a woman, he cannot see God because He is invisible. He cannot see His love either. It is not actually the beautiful woman who is drawing this desire. It is God, through the woman's body.
What happens when a person does not realize that it is God magnetizing us? If you do not see God, you will become dissatisfied with each other and move on.....and on.....and on, waiting and searching to find someone that fulfills your desire that only God can fill.
The kids sit down in groups and I ask them to come up with a list of ways that God's plan to live out our call to love one another can be blocked or even destroyed. This can be blocked by the devil, sin, pride, lust and selfishness. Since the body expresses the person, when the person becomes destroyed, so does our image of God.
Their lists included examples such as abortion (destroying a person who was a visible sign of God's love), Racism/Prejudice (buying into the lie that only some people show the face of God), Pornography (seeing a person as a collection of body parts rather than the visible sign of God that they are), Prostitution and sexual abuse (a type of slavery whose only purpose is to physically gratify others). There were many more examples but these were the big dogs. These examples are not the kind that merely darken our fog that was already there from original sin.  These examples are the kind that destroy, block and blind how we should see God and see God in each other.
Recently, a few people have been trying to convince me that they can see more clearly than I do about Bishop Finn because they have been sexually abused. This could not be further from the truth. Would God really create us in such a way where we see more clear when we are entangled in this kind of a sin? It makes me think that sexual abuse is being recommended to me so I can "see" with more clarity.

    This TOB skit could not have come at a more perfect time for me.  I love God. I just love how He comforts me and gives me little and big reminders about how He works just when I need to hear it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here I Come

 I have been teaching Roy's Theology of the Body for Teens class this year since he had to bail when duty called. There are a wealth of concerns that a family must deal with when a spouse comes home after a year. This TOB class will be my #1 concern. I love it and don't want to give it up!! What are we going to do?! In the mean time, I will continue to teach and put my whole heart into it. The past few weeks, our class has been working on self-donation....the complete giving of your whole self to someone else. Each student is to find someone to give 2-3 hours of their time serving and doing everything the other person wants them to do. Last year, one of Roy's students, Annika, had a water gun fight with her little brother in dead of Winter. That is what he wanted to do and that is what she did.  
I thought I would be a good teacher and do this assignment myself. I mean, really devote a couple hours to one person for the entire time. This was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Max and I decided to ride our bikes together. This would be perfect! Just the two of us! No distractions! This could be my 2 hours. I knew this would be a piece of cake.
Well? It was not as easy as I thought. He wants to take a different route to our normal biking trail that includes an ugly hill (actually, its a slope to some people. Bring out your level and I'll show you. Its an upward slope! aka, ugly hill).  I say, "Whats wrong with the way we normally go?" Then I remember my assignment..."Wait! No. We will take this new way."
He stops very shortly after we get on our trail because he finds a hiking path. "Max, we just got started. Lets ride some more." There I go again! "No. No. Here I come. I would love to go down the trail with you."

With mud and rocks and jumping live objects, Max says, "Mom, come over here and look at all these tiny frogs."
"Its OK Max, I can see them from here." UGH!! "Here I come."
"Mom, look at this long snake!!"
"No way. I hate snakes." Geez!!!! This was supposed to be easy!! "Here I come."

I believe that I failed at my attempt to be a total gift to Max for these couple hours. Yes, I remembered my assignment, brought myself back and focused but why did I have to do that so many times? I believe that I truly never really had the habit of being a total gift. I am trying to train my TOB students to be a gift ALL the time. Not just for this one assignment. I want them to see it, feel it, know that they are doing it and make it a part of their everyday life. Is this what I am doing? It's time to try again.
"Mommy!! Swing me!"
"You know how to pump. You can do it."
Really?? "Here I come."

"Mom? When are you going to grade my Algebra?"
"Can't you grade it yourself?" <eyeroll> "Here I come."

"Mom? Are you the only one that is going to eat dinner?"
"I fed you yesterday!!" Fine, "Here I come."

"Mom? Can I tell you my dream?"
"Sure. Wait till I change the baby's diaper." Pause and smile, "Of course. Here I come."

My most favorite motto is, "Your interruptions are your life's most important work." This is so true. If I could just get that motto bobbing in front of my eyes at all times, I would not be drifting off my path so frequently. Wouldn't it be nice to stay the course for longer periods of time? So, how can this be done?  I am trying to get through to my TOB students that they are in the training period of their lives right now. They are training themselves in chastity. Training themselves in faithfulness. Training to be a total gift of themselves so they can be willing and ready to give themselves freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully to their spouse...holding nothing back.

So, what about their teacher? It is by the grace of God that my life is as pure and full of love that it is. I can't imagine how much more rich my life will be when I train myself the way I am asking my students to. I can train this old dog with a new trick. I can. My husband is gone and I can be free to give of myself to everyone around me if I can keep my eye on the ball. When he comes back, it will be a honeymoon that is more pleasing to God than our first.



Friday, October 14, 2011

SNAP, crackle, POP

Here we go again. I have to climb in the attic and dust off my "Support Bishop Finn" signs! I was SO hoping they would just disintegrate to next to nothing up there. That's what is happening to my "Its a Girl" and "Its a boy" yard signs so I know it can happen.
Our Catholic (which means universal, so it really belongs to everyone) Church is being attacked again. There is no real surprise there. The attacks only make it more evident that I am right where I belong. The attacks are expected even though they are frequently unjustified. As I scroll around the Bishop Finn Facebook pages, the hateful comments come from a vast majority of fallen away Catholics that desperately need to come home. Rome sweet Rome. They try to make us believe that the 1.8% of priestly abuses is what drove them away but any halfway intelligent person would clearly see the holes in that excuse.  That is like saying that I need to move out of my house because I found mold in the corner of my bathroom. Let me explain my analogy. I originally had put "dirt" but thought....wait, we can live with dirt. We can not live with mold. It MUST be removed or it will grow and be a cancer for the inhabitants. Making it in the corner of the bathroom is only to compare the size to the rest of the house. It is not meant to imply that it is insignificant because it is small and in the corner.  How about we just clean it up and continue to live here? What a novel idea! Pardon my sarcasm but these people are doing a serious disservice to the victims of abuse. The victims are not looking for a "gang" of supporters. They are looking for healing and justice...appropriate justice....on the appropriate people. They need our prayers!! The church needs our prayers!! The Priests and Bishops need our prayers!!  My "Support Bishop Finn" signs are useless and empty without prayer. The SNAP protesters are nothing more than an angry, ugly mob if they abandon prayer, which they have. I just went to the SNAP website and NO WHERE does it mention praying for ANYTHING. Even in the section I was sure I would find it in...nothing...nada. As a matter of fact, they gave a litany of ways you can help "make a difference." It had 12 "quick and easy ways you can prevent future abuse, and help already wounded survivors to heal."
When I read "quick and easy", I thought I would surely find prayer in this list. Nope. Nothing. Their last and longest plea on the list was for money.  No surprise there either. If you're not going to worship the true God, you're bound to worship a false god. It is in our hearts to worship and desire something greater than ourselves. If you're prayer life has been twisted into a spiral of nothingness, examine your love and pursuit you have for something else. Perhaps....money? Perhaps...the next party? Perhaps...sex? Gone off on another tangent again!! Focus Katy!!
So? What can you do to help the victims? According to SNAP, it's not prayer. God is not even mentioned.
When I stood in support of Bishop Finn, one of our Dad's invited the SNAP protesters  to pray with us. Not only were we turned down, they laughed and talked then entire time. Where are their hearts exactly? Why are they REALLY there on the sidewalks? Is it really for victims or does it stem from a hatred for the church....
"You will know them by their deeds." Matthew 7:16
How fitting. Praying for Priests and Religious on Vocation Day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Courageous

Last night, I took 12 teenagers out to see the long awaited movie, Courageous. I have been counting down the days until this movie came out. Usually, when I get my hopes really high about a movie, I always end up disappointed. Even when the movie is great, my standards were over-the-top going in and ends up losing esteem as the story line plays out. I have never awaited and looked forward to a movie more than I did this one and I can tell you that it exceeded my expectations that were already put on a pedestal equal to their past films...Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Flywheel.
This movie was about fatherhood. It was about what it really means to be a man.  I'm talking, REAL manhood. The kind that stands up and fights for the good, crushes the bad, holds their imaginary weapon at all times in defense of their family, annihilate's evil,  leads their family as the spiritual head of the household and is willing and ready to lay down his life for his wife and children. Hubba-HUBBA. That is my kind of man!
Earlier in the day, I had a 2 hour Theology of the Body class with 20 teenagers. (The #'s keep going up each week!) We talked and discussed and watched video's all about LOVE. We defined it as giving of yourself completely to another person. Total self-donation. Our short 5 minute video was from the movie Princess Bride. Every command the princess gave to her farm boy was responded with "As you wish." Her farm boy gave his entire self to the princess. The girls in my class were fanning themselves at the end. This is what God has stamped into the hearts of men. This is what they want to do for us. This is what will fulfill them and give their life real purpose and meaning. Our only simple job as women is to be submissive to their calling. And NO Christian Neiderhiser, it is NOT "You wish". It's "AS YOU WISH."  (He's still single, btw)
Please head out this weekend to see Courageous. I wish I could say more but I have some total self donation I need to extend to my family which will include some hair-do's on baby dolls, puzzles, tickling and making eye contact for an entire conversation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Max

In January, 2000, I was driving home from daily Mass with my 6, 5 and 10 month old baby. I felt a very familiar, yet unique, feeling come over me. I pulled over, threw up all over the side of the road, looked up and said, "Oh no. Not this. Please God. My baby is only 10 months old!" I turned my van around and bought an overpriced pregnancy test at the local drug store. Yep. Max was on his way. He had been on his way for several weeks already. It is difficult to explain the mixed emotions that can go on simultaneously with a "surprise" baby ....scared, joy, worry, ecstatic, nervous, giddy. Only a woman can understand. Well, a menstruating woman, anyway. 
On September 21st, 2000, on his exact due date, he arrived! He was a spittin' image of his blond headed, blue eyed sister. Max loves it when I tell the story of his hospital stay. He was a screamer. I don't know if there was another mother who tried to return their baby as hard as I did. I pressed that red button over and over to get the nurses to take him away. Minutes later, a sweaty and disgruntled nurse would wheel my screaming baby back into the room. There was nothing I could do! I had to leave the hospital with this baby! Max did not have colic. He simply had the temperament of a child that screamed when he did not get exactly what he wanted. While Nick would hit, slap and beat up anyone to get what he wanted (he wouldn't hurt a fly now), Max just screamed for it. I'm not sure which is better. I was blessed with a boy that was given both of these character traits in Ben....groan....but God has blessed me abundantly with my wonderful mellow Matthew.  I still can not believe that all of these kids came out of the same womb. Will I ever have two kids that are anything alike? Ever? It is humbling to say the least.  Do you want to know my parenting tip on anything?? I will give you 8 different answers!

God has a plan for all of these different personalities. I have watched my little Max grow into a fine, generous, happy and sensitive boy. All of his screaming he did as a baby was just the signs of a boy who would be a sensitive soul. He looks around for ways to care about people. He is the one who prowls the van for food whenever we see a homeless person on the side of the road. He is the one who made sandwiches and water and had me drive around town to look for them. Max looks out the window quietly for a while, trying to come up with ways to help the weak and the helpless and then shares all of his idea's with me. After Max won first place in the Pinewood Derby, he said, "Winning once is enough. I don't want to win anymore. I like to see how happy other people are when they win." Oh, to be the mother of Max Christy! What did I ever do to deserve such a gift in him?

Just when you think there could not be a better gift in such a young man, there is more! Max is the one who makes the whole world laugh, including himself. When Max laughs, he laughs with his whole body. Every molecule of his being is laughing and wriggling about too. This house would be bare and empty and quiet if he were not here. He is what keeps this family hoppin' and happy.
I don't have any concrete, scientific proof but I am quite sure that God has a very special and unique plan for all His "surprise" babies. I can not wait to see God's plan for Max's life unfold year by year. This has been and will continue to be very exciting!!
Thank you God for my screaming baby.
Happy Birthday Max.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Festival of Fun

Our family has been going to the Festival of Fun that is held at our parish every year. We look forward to it and will stop at nothing to make sure we attend, even if it falls on my sisters birthday. Sorry sis.
After 13 years of these festivals, a pattern begins to develop. It is too bad that I had to learn so many things the hard way....
~bring more money than you think you need
~bring big bags to carry everything
~stop ordering the whole lunch plate (I can ever eat it all)
~if your patient, you can get all the concession items 1/2 off at the close of the day.
~pick all the Dr. Peppers first. They go too fast.
~volunteer to work the last hour of the day so you can play and be worn out before your shift. Plus, Mom's usually out of money by then.
~Go straight to the prize booth first and pick the prizes you want to win coupons for.
~If you win BINGO twice in a row, leave. You get dirty looks if you stay:)
~Always act like you've been searching for your child everywhere when you see someone trying to bring him back for you. Or just hide if they haven't made eye contact with you yet.
I love this festival because, not only do the kids play all the games but they know everybody and everybody knows us. This event makes me feel more like I'm part of a family than any other event at our church. I can always count on the same familiar faces working in the kitchen and behind the raffle table. I was a little sad when the nice man, Keith White, was not working the moon walk. It has been a few years since his passing but that was HIS job. Without fail....sigh. When one door shuts, another one opens! For the first time in my history with Coronation of Our Lady, our priest was there! The entire time!! Playing games!!! And cleaning up!!!! Wow. I now have a Spiritual Father to go with my spiritual family!!!!!  
What I LOVE about this day more than anything is that there is no standing around, wandering what to do next. The kids know. This is old hat to them. They know which games produce the most tickets and which adults are the most generous with prizes;)
Nick - He makes a bee line for the ring toss over the bottles of pop and wins every Dr. Pepper he can. He fills up my table until I'm too embarrassed to sit there anymore.
Samantha - She has picked out her prize...a suitcase/backpack combo. 50 coupons. She's off, bringing me coupons every few minutes to add to the collection that the little kids are handing me to keep "safe".
Mary Kate - She eats...
Max - My generous and loving boy picks prizes that he thinks other people would like. He's picked a gold and diamond decorated, glass turtle. He wins it for his 17 year old crush, Christi. Awwww....
Theresa - A bit on the greedy side. She wants her own bag, her own coupons, her own prizes and her own drink that no one has put their cooties on.
Ben - I try not to watch what he does. He's the one I hide from when nice old people come looking for me.
Josie - The cutest red headed pig tails in the whole church. Not a minute went by when she didn't have a sucker in her mouth and tickets in her hand.
My parents saved the day. I had just spent my last dollar. LOL.

Boys and toilets. I don't get it.

This will keep my little Ben out of trouble. Right? Actually, this is what he loves to do. He wants to just be in charge of something and he is always good at it. Good job Ben. Thanks for my coupon and prize.
Of course, right on cue, our table was the dead last one to get cleared off, cleaned and put away. We spend every minute we can at the festival. I am proud of my little church and my little church family. We are loved there and we love them.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bedtime

I have been having many conversations with people about Roy's deployment. Within each conversation, I add that this time should be a little easier on me because I have older kids now and bedtime will not be so torturous on everyone. I have awful memories of bedtime in 2003-04 when Roy went to Kuwait and I was home with 5 kids ages, 9,8,4,2,and 6 weeks. With Mary Kate having special needs, she was around the age 3 category. That is 4 itty bitty kids and Nick. Bedtime was so terrible that I started to dread the evening starting when my eyes opened in the morning. Quite honestly, those stressful, painful evenings consume most of my memories about that deployment.
Have times got any better? After all, I still have 5 kids under 10 years old. Well, the answer is yes. Thank God! For many years, even though each child has their own bed, they all want to sleep together. Every night, 7 kids cram into one room and scatter themselves wherever they will fit.  I counted, and we have 12 real beds...with mattresses! Only 4 of them get used, including my big ol' king size monstrous bed (that I purchased a week after Roy came home from Kuwait because I couldn't get used to sharing the bed when he got back). Now I can make a snow angel in the bed and never touch him! Yes! I am only keeping our beds for decoration and to have something to show DFS if they were ever to question us. 7 of the beds will be made up beautifully, like my little angels make them every morning. Ha!
The kids have a bedtime of 8:00 with the hopes that I will hear the beautiful sound of only the clock ticking or my computer fan running by 9:30. I want the kids to have fond memories of their bedtimes together. I want to hear giggles and rustling about. Tonight, Theresa came out and made 6 cups of ice water and put them on a tray to bring back to the room. Watching her face as she put each cup on the tray brought me to think...this must be like a slumber party every night. Do the kids realize what they have in each other?  Maybe not. They probably believe that a party every night is how everyone ends their day.
I am happy to say that those dreadful memories of bedtime years ago are my memories only. My kids do not remember. Their only bedtime memories will be fond ones. Memories that bonded them together forever.


I got yelled at for flashing the camera light in their eyes. It was for the good of the blog. Kids just don't understand!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Today's Daily Mass Gospel Reading
3
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?"
4
He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
5
and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
6
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
7
They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"
8
He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unlawfully, and marries another, commits adultery."
10
The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry."
11
But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
12
For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."

This reading is what really turns people off from the Catholic Church. This has to be one of the most difficult teachings of the church. To sum it up Katy Christy style, once you are in the covenant of marriage, you are married forever. Does this include adultery? Yes. Does this include abuse? Yes. It is difficult to hear but not so difficult to believe once you understand what a covenant really is.
I will be taking a group of teenagers through a journey through the narrative History of the Bible this school year. Some may believe that the Old Testament and New Testament are two very different stories with two very different "God's". This is not so! This is one very beautiful story of our salvation History that guides us through one covenant after another. What will be made very clear is that these covenants will be violated repeatedly. Repeatedly is an understatement. God's people will break every commandment over and over again but they will NEVER be able to break the covenant. Never. This is what marriage is too. UNLESS, it is unlawful. "Unlawful" means that a covenant was never made in the first place. One of the 4 key elements of the FTFF (Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful) was missing. If this is NOT the case, then you are married till death due you part. Even if your spouse grows horns, you can separate to protect yourself and the kids but she is still your wife and he is still your husband.
A very dear friend was walked out on by her husband of nearly 20 years. He simply did not love her any more. She was devastated. She was left home with one teenage boy and an 8 year old boy. After some time passed, I asked her if she was going to pursue an annulment. She said, "No, I know there was a covenant." She is going to remain faithful to him while he remarries and enjoys his new life. Her purgatory time will most certainly be cut short. She is a fine example of what living out the marital covenant really means.
My other example would be my parents. On Aug. 9th, 1971, a Monday afternoon, my parents, Dr. Richard Medary and Geraldine Fackelman made their wedding vows to each other.   Neither one of them knew what their future would hold or they probably would have had 2nd thoughts;) Ok, they would have both ended up thousands of miles apart! Marriage is tough! They were great examples of that too! Not for a glimmer of a moment did I ever suspect  they would divorce and move on. Their example alone told me that this was forever. Good times and bad times.
They celebrated their 40th anniversary. I'm sure they could have sat in for Frank and Marie Barone and been just as funny in their own quirky way. My kids love to just watch them talk to each other. The kids laugh and I am usually hiding my face if people are around which seems to make the kids laugh harder. They have a great sense of humor about their daily lives with each other. They genuinely care for one another. I love to watch or hear about how Dad takes care of Mom by cooking for her,  slapping unhealthy food out of her hand and searches for her when he suspects she's fled for another smoke break. She's hard to catch. Mom is giving him a good work out. If either one would have escaped from the marriage years ago, they would have missed out on these experiences;)
My parents give me hope for my future with Roy. When I think about what we will be like when he's 80 and I'm still a ripe 68;) I know we will be just fine thanks to my parents example of how to live out your covenant even when the horns grow and recede....and grow...and recede...

This says it all. This is the marriage covenant in action. I love you Mom & Dad


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Days are Numbered

My husband is days away from leaving for an entire year in Afghanistan. I love him so much. He is my best friend. He is a man with a magic touch (as I like to call it). Whenever something breaks around here, Roy comes along and waves his hands around and everything comes together, tighter and more solid than before. I have been called in Ephesians 5 to be submissive to him. I am under (sub) the "mission" of my spouse. What his is mission?  To love and serve me. Please, don't let me stand in your way, dear husband. I will be happy to be submissive till death do us part.

In these past few weeks, I have gotten the most heartfelt comments from people...strangers even. Grown men, with a tear in his eye, will come up to me with their fist over their heart and say, "Please thank your husband for me."  Friends and family will stop me with pity and compassion and offer to help me during Roy's deployment. My elderly neighbor, who can barely walk, pleaded for me to call her if I need any of my children watched for any reason. Oh, how I want to boldly say, "It is I who should be serving you!"
If you have seen me in the past few weeks, you should have seen peace and joy. I have never felt the presence of God more. Even when I am alone, I feel like a puppy whose owner just came home. God is all around me. He is most certainly in the company that I keep but He is also in all the strangers I meet and even in the emptiness of my home and in my car. I feel Him so close that I get the giggles and want to clap like Tinker Bell. God has even gifted me with a new, God loving, future Saint of the Church priest. God is so good to me. He is so much better than I deserve.
So, am I walking around with the poor pitiful me tone?...Home AAAALL ALONE with 8 minor children and no husband? I only pull that out when I HAVE to...like when I have to take my car into the mechanic and REALLY don't want to be charged an arm and leg. You know, the same price Roy used to charge his unsuspecting customers.  I will not be feeling sorry for myself. I will have my head held high and my sleeves rolled up. There is something a little exciting about taking on more responsibility around here. Truth be told...Roy is and enabler! His hard work kept me on the lazy side. The side that got to "fold laundry" for hours while watching the greatest tv show ever created, "Murder She Wrote". Netflix will be there next year. It will be ok. My withdraw and heavy breathing in a bag will be short lived.
It is true, not all my moments will be so full of joy. I found myself numb and still and tearful on my laundry room floor yesterday. Last night, Nick's emotions caught up with him as he listened to a young man with special needs read his report on a Eucharistic Miracle. He silently sniffed, wiped away one tear at a time and stared out his window for the 45 minutes it took to get home. Roy's days are numbered and we are both feeling it. We are both feeling inspired and fearful at the same time. We do not know what emotion we will have an hour from now. But we do know that we are well taken care of. We are well loved. But mostly, we have a communion of believers praying for us. We will be fine. Come What May.  

God above me
God below me
God to my right
God to my left
 - St. Francis of Assisi

 I am an energetic puppy with my Master all around me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vocation Day's

Roy and I were out to dinner with friends of ours a few years back. They asked me about homeschooling and why I chose to take that route. Within my litany of reasons, discerning their vocation was up there on the list. It is no surprise that the Catholic Church has a shortage of priests. I believe that one of the reasons for this is that parents are not providing opportunities for their children to discern their vocation. Truth be told, I never "discerned" the vocation to married life. The possibility of being a nun was so distant. Sooo distant. My only childhood memory of a Sister was the mean, little one that grabbed everyone by the ear when it was their turn for their hearing test. I'm so glad that was her only job. It was not the greatest memory.  I wanted...I mean...I needed to introduce my kids to their real life. They are learning how the priest and Religious live, who they are, the stories of their calling, their jobs, feelings, prayer life, community service, daily activities, and what it truly means to be a Priest, Brother, Monk or Sister.
I believe that the vocation of marriage is the norm. My kids have many fine examples of good marriages in their lives. It is not much of a stretch to bring their attention to this vocation. The vocation of the Priesthood and Religious life, however, takes a little more work..., a little more planning.  After all, if my kids really had an equal view of both of these vocations, they will have attended as many vows and ordinations as they have weddings. Correct? Something to think about. I think I can let myself off the hook on this one since "few are called but many are chosen" Mt 22:14.  There will be more weddings then vows or ordinations which makes this task of equality in need of some creativity.
Fransiscan Spirit Camp is a camp for 6-8th grade girls once a year in June. They spend the day playing with the Sisters.  It is not boring daily tasks, its playtime with apparently, much water usage. Samantha loves to go their every year.

Mary Kate volunteers every Monday at the warehouse at the Fransiscan Center. She helps the Sisters sort clothes and bag them up for the missions overseas. Mary Kate is perfect for the annoying, time consuming tasks that the normal person would despise. Her current job is to check every single pen and marker to make sure it works before it can be bagged up. Why waste shipping $$ on bad markers? She loves this job.

Every other year, my good homeschool friend, Tina Dotson, puts together an enormous Vocation Day for kids K-12. She has dozens of priests and Religious come out and do crafts, play and talk to the kids about every question they (and the rest of us) have about their job. If I can be pried away from the vendors, I can listen in on the talks for the parents on how to bring opportunities to my kids to pray and discern their own vocation.

Nick has been going to Companion Camp at Conception Seminary for 7 years in a row. This is a weekend camp for boys 6-8th grade to play and pray with the seminarians. What a gift. Nick has made many sacrifices to attend, including giving up his 10-day Boy Scout camp this year. It is just that important to him. He has been on staff since he was a Freshman.  So many of his homeschool friends go on to the Seminary, so this gives him another chance to visit. 


Mary Kate, Samantha and Theresa visit the Servants of Mary convent every other month. The Sisters have a detailed 3 hour plan for several girls that always include prayer and fun. We have not been able to attend the precious times that one of their novitiates takes her vows and receives her wedding ring. One day. One day, I SO look forward to that beautiful day.


Mary Kate and Samantha go to The Little Sisters of the Poor once a month to spend 5 hours helping the Sisters with their patients, chores and activities. They are called the Hospitality Club. Fitting name as they learn and practice their hospitality.

Lastly, having a personal relationship with the priest and Religious in our own parish is a MUST. I say that but don't always follow my own advice. From a distance, we look like a well-mannered, big, happy family. I don't want to ruin that by getting too close. LOL. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and make it happen. Fr. Hansen is scheduled for our family dinner on July 21st. Somehow, we need to make this zoo look like a domestic church and don't have much time to do it! Keep us in your prayers!
Fr. Hansen's 2nd day on the job and playing softball with the youth group in 100+ degree's. What a man!