Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Being Grateful

One of my dear friends had asked a question on Facebook…..

“What can I do to teach my kids to be grateful for what they have?”

Needless to say, she got several replies.

“Charge them for everything they use.”

“Have them watch you pay the bills.”

“Send them on a missionary trip for a week” (That was my answer)

The best answer that she got was from a 17 year old girl. She said, “You teach your kids to be grateful by being an example of a person who is grateful too.”

I ad-libbed. She said it so much better than I just did! But she was so right! – Out of the mouth of babes….

I went to a friend’s home from High School a couple years ago who was a great example of someone who knew she was blessed and knew Who she owed her blessings too. Her husband is the president of a popular beer company and they were doing well. She was happy to show me her home and showed such gratitude for all of her gifts.

I have another friend who, by the American definition, would be considered poor. She lives in a small home with 8 children and her husband is out of work more often than on but every time I see her, she tells me about all of her blessings. She is always smiling. The very few times that she has shared her hardships with me, she always did it with a smile on her face and an enthusiastic anticipation of God’s plan for her. She sees every one of God’s gifts no matter how small they would look to us.

I have many friends that I could use as examples of gratitude. It is difficult to choose. As a leader at my co-op, I was told of a mom who had her tuition waved because of financial hardship and her husband being out of work. My mouth hit the floor. This was the most joyful mom in the entire co-op. Heck she is the most happy and joyful woman I know!!

This idea of being joyful, grateful and feeling blessed about every gift even if we don’t have money is not a foreign idea. People all around me have this joyful spirit. They are my examples. I feed off of them and bring it home to my own family.

Every day, I tell each of my kids how blessed they are for the infinite gifts we have. Nothing good that we have is by our own righteousness. Every trial has a purpose. Every hardship has a reason. Knowing this keeps me calm.

When my dishwasher breaks, I smile and wonder how God is going to work His blessings. He always does.

When the drum set my son wanted got sold minutes before he was going to purchase it, he almost cried. My eyes widened and I smiled really big and said……”God’s got this! He just put His hand in your drum set purchase. This clearly wasn’t the one God has planned for you.”

He got a much better drum set that came with extra parts, a book and DVD for a cheaper price.

Yes, my kids are still going to Guatemala this Summer for a week but I know that their real gratitude comes at a much cheaper price. I need to be grateful and I need to pass this on to my kids or they will be miserable. Poor or rich…Rich or poor, I need them to be grateful for everything good that they have and recognize every miracle God sends their way.

When something breaks…..When someone dies…..When trials and hardships rear their ugly heads…..

God is about to make something special happen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bible Study

Ten years ago, I attended a Catholic Bible Study in Kansas. It was open to everyone but the vast population were Catholic Homeschoolers.

The little kids had their own class called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. When the kids walked in the room, they were in complete silence. There were different stations around the room and the kids would rotate stations alone. One station would consist of dressing up a small dummy in priest vestments in the proper order. Another station would be to pour water from a cruet into a water bowl and do that repeatedly. It was a great training in patience. The kids had to discipline themselves so they never dripped. The class was silent the entire time. The kids LOVED it. They felt like little grown-ups. They were given duties in their actions and character that were equal to mature and disciplined adults.

The teenagers were in a Bible Study class just for them. They would study the same book or books that the adults were studying.

I had such fond memories of this class. Nick (only 10 years old) and I would read the scripture lesson together and answer our questions during the week. I loved this time with him. We would ALWAYS start talking about something else, mostly about life lessons based on our readings.

On top of all the readings and homework, I also had a collection of tapes and cd’s of theologians that walked me through my studies. I felt like a cheater because I would walk into class and share my incredible “insights” with the group of moms.

One particular year, the Bible Study was on Jeff Cavin’s Great Adventure Through the Bible. It was a 24-week study that took us through all of salvation history from Genesis through Acts of the Apostles. It took us through 14 books of the Bible that walked us through the history. We learned how the other 59 books fit into the story. If any one of us had a good chunk of time on our hands, we could read the other 59 books as they fit into the story. (Ex. We could read Psalms at the time we were reading about David in the book of Kings. Or we would read Corinthians while we were reading about Paul visiting Corinth in the Acts of the Apostles).

I understood the Bible better than I ever did before now that I knew HOW to read it. And reading it from front to back wasn’t it!

Understanding the Scriptures opened doors and windows for me that I never thought could be opened. I could now open up books that I considered “over my head” – particularly, anything written by any of the Popes! I understood the Cathechism now. I was able to move on and study church history. And the most exciting benefit – I was able to defend my faith & using the Bible to do it. Heck, just learning the history of where we got the Bible, who wrote and who said it was inspired was enough apologetics for me!

I was so excited about what I learned that I started teaching it to High Schoolers in my homeschool loop. I spent hours upon hours preparing for that class. I wrote out my own questions for each lesson that were more child friendly and less thought provoking. I listened to all of the CD’s from Jeff Cavins and took notes. I made a gazillion color-coded timeline bracelets so the kids could keep track of the order in history. I watched dozens of Bible movies and found just the right 4-8 minute clips to have my students watch to help them get a real visual about the Old Testament stories. And just today, I finished up 29 Bible Timelines for the next school year’s class.

I have one student take home a Eucharistic Miracles book each week and do a short report on one Eucharistic miracle to present to the class just to keep their faith alive and well throughout the year.

I am pretty sure that the reason this class has been so successful for the past 4 years has to do with WHERE I prepared. 80% of this class was prepared in adoration – right there in front of Jesus Himself.


Monday, May 19, 2014

With Great Power.....

Comes Great Responsibility.

I may not have a superpower but our family has powers that are unique to the 21st century.

·        We have the power to make anyone’s birthday into an unscheduled party.

·        We have the power to clean a messy house in ½ hour.

·        We can paint a whole house in 3 hours…..well, maybe when everyone is all grown up.

·        We have the power to be the loudest singers in Mass (never done it but I bet we could!).

·        We can gather around a hurt child and have them smiling and playing within minutes.

·        We can scare away a park full of people just by jumping out of our van one by one.

·        We scare away bad guys.

·        We can make any event not get cancelled because we always have the minimum # required.

·        We can shovel the elderly ladies driveway in 5 minutes flat

·        We bring people hope for the future of our children in an immoral world

This is just a small list of what a large family can do that smaller families cannot. BUT, we also have the power to cause great harm. I have seen too many large families take advantage of this and it makes it worth blogging about.

We can totally destroy the spirit and annihilate and ostracize anyone who hurts one of us

Yes, a small family can do this but nowhere near to the magnitude that a large family can.

You know the drill. Someone picks on and bullies your 10 year old and out comes big brother to defend his sister. NO ONE bullies his sister except him!!

Can you imagine if everyone in a large family does this? Oh it happens! And when it does, it is UGLY. It is a long and nasty relationship for months or years on-end. The power is overwhelming and terribly sinful.

Just as a priest has a greater punishment for a sin than you or I commit, so does the way a large family treats someone who wronged another member of the family. We have a greater responsibility because the harmful effects are greater than that of a small family. (Still wrong……just greater and uglier)

I have had this talk with my kids repeatedly. I remind them that if anyone hurts a member of the family, the proper way to ban together is to do whatever it takes to IMPROVE the relationship. Never will it be to collectively hurt, criticize, mock, unfriend or end relationships. Never. It is hurtful and sinful yet so many families use this power for great harm to others. Even though parents may teach their children that EVERYone is made in the image and likeness of God, that undeniable fact seems to get thrown out the window when a much less important outsider wrongs one of them.

I’ll admit that the first thought in my mind sometimes is “GET EM GUYS!!! NO ONE CALLS YOUR SISTER A BRAT AND GETS AWAY WITH IT!!!!” But then I settle down and remember what my superpower responsibility is. It is to unite and not divide. It is time to pull out the big guns called virtue and prudence not avenge and revenge. It is time to pour on the kindness and compliments and bring that person to know that everything will be ok. Everyone in the Christy family is safe.

When I meet large families, I pay close attention to how they operate when friction happens with an outsider. If I catch that they unite and conquer poor imperfect children, we stay far away. I wave and smile from a far distance and make sure to never get close. It is toxic and dangerous. It can leave scars on a person for a lifetime. No thank you.

If I care at all about my children’s salvation, I will never train them that other people are less important than them. I will never tell them that the best way to solve friction between 2 people is to gang up and destroy their spirit with hurtful comments, gossip, eye rolls, laughter and the cold shoulder – “That’ll teach em to mess with my sister!!”

It is not cute. It is not adorable to see your children caring for each other in that way. And it is certainly not holy.