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!!!

                                                                                            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!!