San Diego Trip: 5 Life Prospering Aha! Moments

We recently returned from San Diego to visit one of my sister’s and her family who live out there.  We had a great time.  It was relaxing (as much as it can be with two year old twins).  It was enlightening.

And it was a trip in which I encountered a few life cultivating Aha! moments:

1. My parenting vs my sister’s parenting is quite different…for good reason. I have twins. It has to be different.  

Gadsden and Davny running to catch a seagull

Scene: My sister’s home and all throughout San Diego

I don’t know how many times I’ve compared my parenting to others when I tell myself not to because when I do I immediately set myself up for failure.  It is never possible for me to be like other people because I am not other people.  Everything about me, my family, and my situation is uncommon and that means that my methods have to be uncommon.

I want to be more nurturing with my children and “chillax” already! like my sister, but I can’t.  Why?  Because I’m constantly in survival mode with my two-year old twins.  When one kid isn’t doing something dangerous or destructive, the other one is, or they both are at the same time.

I like staying at home because I can keep them under control and I prefer to be within a 5 minute driving radius from their beds because my son will fall asleep in two seconds in the car, but that means he will not take a nap when we get home, even if he only slept for 5 minutes.

The only place I can go shopping with them by myself is the grocery store because they have carts that contain them.  I give them an ipad and iphone during Daily Mass (I know…sneer, sneer!) because I’m alone with them and I want to concentrate on God’s Word, not two toddlers trying to take a bath in the baptismal font, climb and play on the piano, the altar, the pews, the kneelers, the choir section, etc.

Going out to eat, to the zoo, to a museum, to anywhere that doesn’t have floor to ceiling padding?  Forget it unless I have one other person with me to chase after them.  It. Is. Exhausting.

I’ll be honest, I look forward to their bedtime.  That is when I finally get to relax!

2. Watching my children’s love for others.

When Daddy’s around, I don’t exist. This was waiting to catch the train to San Juan Capistrano.  By far, the coolest thing we did in San Diego!


Scene: Any place with people we adore.

Lately, both Gadsden and Davny want to be held, hugged, coddled, pushed in a stroller, pulled in a wagon, etc. by everyone except me.  It broke my heart for a while because I thought that I wasn’t being a nurturing enough mother to them and that’s why they wanted other people.

Then I realized that No! it’s the devil talking in my head again.  It is good that they want other people because they are practicing exactly what I do.  They are loving others as I love them!

They have observed my affection for them along with my family, friends, and neighbors and want to give that kind of love too.  The love of Jesus!

Jesus always and forever will love his mother, Mary, but as a young child he didn’t cling to her.  He loved as she did.  With absolute sincerity freely given to anyone and everyone.  That is exactly what my children are doing.

I will praise their fondness for others, not hinder it for my own selfish reasons.  They are children of God and that is what He wants.

3. God gives each one of us different fears to fulfill His plan through us in our own unique ways and in our own unique timing.

This excerpt (I added in the words in bold) from a Franciscan Media article about St. Rose Venerini sums it up more eloquently:

Whatever state of life God calls us to, we bring with us an assortment of desires, fears, experiences, interests, gifts and [blankety blank] however small they seem to us.  All that we are is meant to be put to service wherever we find ourselves.

How did I stumble upon this Aha! moment?  By a casual exchange on a hiking trail near my sister’s home in Solana Beach.

Scene:

Two young ladies, most likely in their twenties, spot me running through a canyon trail.

One of the girls: Wow!  You are running this trail?  How can you do that?

Me: I’m trying.

I proceed to run on and turn around at the dead end.  I pass by the girls again, but this time one is climbing and scaling the canyon for a photo opportunity.

Me: Now that is daring!  I would never do that!

My fear of heights dissuaded me from climbing up the wall of a canyon to obtain an amazing cliff hanging photo.  Those two girls did it without hesitation.

On the other hand, their apathy for running prevented them from taking the long trail filled with animal life, beautiful flowers, and a spectacular water view.  I ran it without a moments thought.

I may have missed out on a unique photo opportunity, but they missed out being immersed in a lively natural habitat and interacting with other people on the trail, in which I heard a few simple words come out of a young boys mouth that changed my way of thinking about fear.

4. It’s only the end if you want it to be.

Scene:

Sign: Danger. Unstable Cliff Area. Do Not Enter.

 

This same trail goes up to a lookout point that oversees the lagoon, which is blocked off by a scant wooden post fence that is easily able to climb through and continue a trail of your own, if you so wish.  Although the terrain is quite steep and unstable, as the sign on the fence clearly states.

At the top I overheard a brief, but profound comment made from a son to a father.  Son looks at the fence and says:

Dad, it’s only the end if you want it to be.

The father was definitely not interested in going beyond the boundaries.  He remained on the safe side where I was, but that boy’s words stuck with me.

He was only speaking of a physical roadblock, but I thought this statement could be applied to any fear I have in life.  It is only the end if I want it to be.

These fears and desires that are unique to each one of us can change gradually overtime or as quickly as hearing simple comment like the one I just heard.

What prevents me from moving forward when God is with me?  He casts aside all anxiety. He is not the God of dismay and angst.  He is the Doer, the Giver, the Shaker, the Creator, the Comforter.  He is Love and Hope.  He removes the barriers and provides me with what I need when I need it.  He has done it time and time again, without fail.

So again, it is only the end if I want it to be because God is infinite and with Him we have infinite possibilities.

5. Homeschool + traveling = Roadschooling!

Birch Aquarium: Capturing this moment on camera with four kids ages 3 and under….Repeat-twice-less!


Scenes: Birch Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, Train ride along coast from Solana Beach to San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Juan Capistrano (scroll to bottom for more photos)

With each adventure we embarked on in San Diego, I began to see how God was distinctly shaping my vocation as a wife and a mother.

Ever since the twins were born I’ve had an inclination to homeschool, but with the normalities of the culture we are submersed in there is a constant battle between putting them in private school and homeschooling.

The thought of teaching them myself scares me beyond measure.  I am no brainiac, I have no desire to teach, and they might turn out to be just like me.  Not only that, but sending the kids off to school sounds like a daily vacation in which I could get many things accomplished such as cleaning, doctor visits, exercise without interruption, grocery shopping without tantrums, Daily Mass without my son wanting to join the consecration on the altar, Eucharistic Adoration, Spiritual Direction and confession without scheduling Matt or a neighbor to be home, need I go on?, and oh, yeah…I have zero patience (my family will be the first in line to tell you that one).  But…It’s only the end if I want it to be.

I realized that this desire to homeschool wasn’t from me, it’s from God, and it wasn’t for me, it’s for my children.  But it doesn’t end there.  He wants me to take homeschooling further than I ever dreamed.   He wants me to take it on the road.

These experiences in San Diego proved that to be true.  The excitement on their faces, the absorption of knowledge, the embedded memory that can’t be obtained just by reading about it or looking at it through a picture.  They are immersed in the adventure, they become a part of the history, and that is the greatest education of all.  The best teacher in the world can’t top the actual experience.  I believe that is why I love to travel so much.

My husband’s new career has a lot of flexibility with schedule and travel, as well.  This is something that he will be doing for the rest of his life, so we have ample ability to go anywhere (as long as he has cell service) during our children’s educational years.

After some contemplation I realized that not only will this roadschooling teach our kids, but it will help us bond as a family, it will teach Matt and I more about the world, but mostly we will have the ability to help other people along the way.   People we would never encounter here in our safe and comfortable community of McKinney, Tx.  We can show people throughout the United States and the world our faith through the love that we share as a family and through the experiences we encounter.

We may be a small family, but we are easily mobile and we have great love.  With that great love, we can take it with us wherever we go and change the world.

 

In front of Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano: One of very few selfies with my daughter
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Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano Holy Doors of Mercy (Not even one minute after the photo taken above, Davny decides to entertain spectators with a tantrum.)
Birch Aquarium

 

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Birch Aquarium
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San Diego Zoo

kara scow

My Bout with Spiritual Warfare 


I began writing this post over a week ago and the post turned into a novel. So to keep my ADD readers from going AWOL and to practice the art of brevity I’ll keep that post to myself and label it as a few diary entries during Holy Week.
To those who are unbelieving, this sequence would simply seem like a coincidental occurrence of bad events. I see it as Spiritual Warfare. What is it? The devil on attack. Yes, I said the devil.
Many cringe at the very sound of his name, but he is real and God is his number one enemy. God could crush him in one tiny wisp of a breath, but he doesn’t. Why? Because he is leaving that battle up to us. He wants us to choose between good and evil. He wants us, mere human beings, to defeat him.
The devil’s favorite time to pounce is usually right before or during a very spiritual period, in which you are receiving many graces from God. For myself and for my family that time was most definitely during Holy Week, but it is also now, and forever. We are a family of continual conversion, therefore, our Spiritual Warfare will go on and on.
To update you, my husband completed his RCIA and received full communion (Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion) into the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil Saturday.
It’s a big deal and the devil knew it!
He was about to lose another soul and he was scared.


The following are actual events that occurred before, during, and after Holy Week:

3.18

Day Before I leave for my Spiritual Retreat

Davny trips and falls head first into the brick mailbox that we installed that same day! Her bump protrudes out to a magnitude I’ve only seen on cartoons. I take her to the ER. They give her a CAT Scan. She is fine!

Thank you, Jesus!
3.19-3.20

Spiritual Retreat and Palm Sunday

Some amazing events occurred, but I’ll reserve them for a future post.
Holy Week
3.21

My Twinados strike the playroom and they cause a destruction I’ve never encountered before. An F4 level of destruction. And no nap. My patience is thinning with every tantrum. Then, my neighbors come to the rescue and surprise me with an impromptu birthday celebration. Their kids entertain mine.

Praise God!
3.22

Matt and I plan to put the kids to bed early to watch Passion of the Christ as we eat dinner. We succeed in getting them in their rooms by 6:15 with a 20 minute “reading” time. Upon return, to tuck them in bed, books are torn all over the room. Strike 1.
Lights out. Matt is on the phone. Coffee table in front of the TV is set with dinner and wine is opened. Twenty minutes later I hear a blood curdling scream from Davny. Nothing out of the ordinary. I wait. Screaming continues. I go up. Gadsden says, “Dirty Blankie”. What is going on? I turn on the lights. Giant blood stain is on Davny’s bed along with a blood smeared sound machine. What the? I turn around. Davny’s head and face are covered in blood. Strike 2.
Oh my dear Lord, please be ok.  I rush her downstairs to clean off the blood. It’s from a gash on her forehead. Not deep. Not big. No stitches needed. Phew.

Alleluia!

We conclude, by the evidence presented, that Gadsden threw the sound machine at Davny’s head. That was the end of anything but stuffed animals given to them at bedtime.
I give Davny a bath to wash off the rest of the blood. Matt is attacking the stains on the blankets and sheets in the laundry room. I assume Gadsden is with him. I hear “NO GADSDEN” from Matt. I finish up Davny’s bath and ask Matt what happened. Gadsden was playing Sommelier with our wine on the coffee table. He poured wine in our glass, but spilled some on the floor. Strike 3.

Most of it actually ended up in our glasses. Only 2 years old and he already knows how to pour wine. That’s my son!

Praise Jesus!
3.26

Easter Vigil Saturday

Matt’s family and my family arrive to witness and celebrate Matt’s full communion into the church.
3.27 

Easter Sunday

Gadsden trips and hits his head on the stairs. It leaves a giant bruise and bump on his forehead. He’s fine.

Thank you, Guardian Angel!
3.28-4.2

A week of uninterrupted fun with Matt’s family in town!
4.3

Divine Mercy Sunday

Matt’s family returned to Montana yesterday. Matt left for a work trip this morning. I take the kids to the park. We explore next to a lake and hike up and down the stepped spillway. Davny wants to walk through a marshy area. I tell her no. She throws a tantrum. I proceed to carry her up the stepped spillway and back to the stroller. We are at the top. Gadsden is behind me. I set Davny down to talk to her and try to calm her down. I look back. I see Gadsden near the edge. He teeters. Oh no, Gadsden! He falls over the side…
I run and jump over the edge. It’s a 10 foot drop. Thankfully the bottom is all grass. He’s crying. I don’t know what to do. Now, Davny is near the edge crying. I have one hurt from the fall and one about to do the same and there is only one of me. I run back and forth.

A man and his wife in a nearby house witnessed the entire episode and they run to help. Gadsden isn’t really moving, but he’s crying. Please, nothing be broken. Please, not his neck. He’s not moving his neck. I’m frantic. I carry him up and lay him down next to the man. I call my neighbor. By God’s grace she is driving home with her daughter and is nearby. She arrives. Gadsden is up and moving now, but still crying. I think he is going to be ok, but I’m not sure.

We try to put our gigantic stroller in the back of her car. We can’t. She takes Davny in the stroller. I put Gadsden in the back of her car. Her daughter rides with me. We drive to my house so I can grab my purse. I put Gadsden in our car. We go to Urgent Care. It’s closed.

We go to the ER at Baylor. We wait. They do a full body examination. No bumps, no bruises, no broken bones, no signs of concussion. Nothing.

Praise the Lord!

They want to be sure, so they request a full chest X-Ray. We wait another hour. The X-Ray is done. We wait for the results. The PA does another examination to make sure he hasn’t developed any signs of concussion. Nothing. The X-Ray results are normal. Phew! We are discharged.

My saints, my angels, my Lord and my God, Thank you!
We get home. My neighbor is there. It’s late. Davny is asleep in bed. I give Gadsden milk. He doesn’t want any food. I’m talking to my neighbor. Gadsden throws up. Uh oh. That’s not good. Could he have a concussion?  We clean it up. I put him to bed and monitor him. All is well….
4.4

The next morning, I go upstairs to get the already awake kids. I smell vomit immediately when I enter the room. Oh no. Vomit is all over Gadsden and his bed.

Holy cannoli! He does have a concussion! He could have died! I don’t want to go to the ER again.

I strip the room and wash everything, including the children. Gadsden feels warm. He has a fever. It occurs to me that he could have the stomach bug that’s been going around. I text my neighbor. I make an appointment with our doctor. Neighbor comes over. We go to the doctor. He has a stomach bug. I am actually happy that he’s sick. I can handle sick.

Thank you, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!


 

So what do you think?  Spiritual Warfare or just random bad coincidences?

A Bottle of Wine Led Me to Saint Thomas Aquinas

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St. Thomas Aquinas via soul-candy.info

 

In honor of The Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas today, I would like to share my Saint Name Project with you that I wrote last March for my Confirmation.  It gives a brief history of Thomas Aquinas’ life, ministry and accomplishments within the Catholic Church, and the reasons why I chose him as my saint, which ties to my fondness of wine.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

I have chosen Saint Thomas Aquinas as my Confirmation Saint Name.  Before I give my motivations for favoring him, I would like to present a little history of his life, which will provide more understanding of his path to sainthood.

Saint Thomas Aquinas’ mother, Theodora, and father, Landulph, count of Aquino, gave birth to their son  on January 28, 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy.   His family came from royal descendants, but their class rank was likely considered at the lower end.  At age five, Thomas was sent to Monte Cassino to begin his education, then was moved to Naples, where he became acquainted with the studies of Aristotle, which would later provide an enormous impact on his teachings of theology and philosophy.  At age nineteen, against his family’s direction, he chose to assemble with the Dominican monks and receive his habit.  His family felt violated, so they decided to kidnap him and hold him captive in their castles back home at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca for a year.  During that time his family attempted to dissuade him from being a Dominican monk, even to go so far as to entice him with a prostitute, but Thomas would not relent, and the incident only gave him more strength to remain a virgin.  His family finally subsided, and in 1245, he was released and returned to the Dominicans.  Over the next several years, he studied in Naples, Italy, then Cologne, Germany, where he became ordained as a priest in 1250, and later ended up in Paris, France where he was taught by St. Albert the Great, the Patron Saint of Scientists, and earned his doctorate in theology.

 During this era, one big controversy was how theology (faith) and philosophy (reason) were or were not correlated.  Previous philosophers thought the two were completely separate from each other, and Thomas wanted to prove that one was needed for the other to work accordingly, so after completing his education, he felt compelled to begin a preaching voyage to teach his learnings and to document his research on their interdependence.  Thus became his writings of almost 60 known works, and among them the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles are his most acclaimed and controversial.  In his writings, he distinguishes Theology and Philosophy as two different sciences of God, and to achieve revelation (theology) one must be advised by reason to restrain from lapse of judgement, and one needs reason to analyze and define their faith.  He also wanted to show evidence that everything originates from God.  Amid much of  Thomas’ discoveries, I believe his greatest achievement, and most argumentative today, is in the Summa contra Gentiles, in which he proves the existence of God in five ways: 1)Movement needs someone or something to make the unmoved move, and that is God. 2) Effect needs a cause, and the cause is God. 3)Being is temporary and the permanent being is God. 4)Humans are defective, God is perfect. 5)Knowledge is given to humans by God, who knows everything.

 Among his time, Thomas was offered a bishop ship, but he declined any higher clerical positions for he only wanted to teach and write.  Then one day while celebrating the Feast of St. Nicolas in 1273, Thomas claimed he was told by God that he did not need to write anymore because what he had written was well enough.  Shortly thereafter, on March 7, 1274 he passed away.  His canonization took place in 1323, and in 1567 he was given the title as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V.  His feast day was originally the day of his death, March 7, but it always fell in the time of lent, so it was moved to his birth date January 28 in 1969.  In the late 19th century, during the time of Pope Leo XIII, Thomas’ theology became the essence of Catholic indoctrination, both inside the church and in Catholic educational institutions, therefore, he was announced as the patron of Catholic education and students.

 Now for a few reasons why I chose St. Thomas Aquinas as my saint.  I’ll be honest here, as I should be since this is a project for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The main reason I know of him and why I chose him was because I came across a bottle of wine named Aquinas while dining out with my husband.  We thoroughly enjoyed it, so I read the back of the bottle.  I wanted to find out what this Aquinas was about because I had never heard of the name.

To my delight, I discovered that “Aquinas wines are named for St. Thomas Aquinas, the seminal 13th century Italian priest, theologian and philosopher who dedicated his life to reconciling reason and faith.  Just as he challenged the assumptions of his world, we are challenging the assumptions within ours.”

I was intrigued by their statement, and I wanted to discover more about this saint.  Upon more research, I realized that I felt exactly the same about his belief that God and Science go hand in hand.  Science can’t exist without God, who created it, and God uses Science to prove to us human beings that He exists.  It was like a lightning bolt and it made so much sense to me.

I also was impressed by Thomas’ loyalty to God by remaining celibate, even given the temptations by his own family.   He was incredibly humble.  He knew what his calling from God was supposed to be, which was to write and teach, so he declined any position that was of higher rank than a priest.  He was a man who went against the odds to seek answers, and he was able to brilliantly prove a correlation that everyone else thought was completely unrelated.  He was a man of honor.  He was a man of God.

Bibliography

“St. Thomas Aquinas – Saints & Angels.” Catholic Online. Catholic Online, 2015. Web. 24. Mar. 2015

“St. Thomas Aquinas.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

“About.” Aquinas. Don Sebastiani & Sons, 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

Mission Impossible: The Eucharist

This is sort of a continuation from my most recent blog post As an Adult, what gives me that childlike Christmas Morning Joy?  The short answer is the Eucharist.

The Gospel reading for January 15th was Mark 2:1-12.  To summarize, four men carry a paralytic man on a mat through the crowds that Jesus attracted through his preaching.  These men were so determined for Jesus’ healing powers to restore this man that they broke a hole through the roof where Jesus was teaching and lowered the man down right next to Jesus.  Jesus was so moved by their faith that he instantly healed the paralytic man and forgave his sins.

Talk about determination to get to Jesus.  

After reflecting on this Gospel reading, my own light-hearted, modern-day version of this story came to me and how far I would go to be with Jesus.

I call it Mission Impossible: The Eucharist.  

It’s Christmas Eve and I arrive alone at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney to attend midnight mass.  The most beautiful vigil celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.

The church is packed.  So packed that the greeters won’t allow any more people to enter because they are over capacity, according to the fire code.

I’m bummed and frustrated because I really wanted to receive communion.  To consume Jesus at the moment that he came into this world would be the greatest Christmas gift from God and now I will not be able to encounter him until tomorrow.  

Ugh!  I am quite agitated with the “Chr-easters” (people who attend mass only at Christmas and Easter) that are taking up all of the seats!  I forget that I used to be one of them.

Suddenly, I am wearing a cat-womanish outfit, equipped with Mission Impossible like climbing gear, sticky gloves, and a laser cutter.  

CA.1129.scene-breakdown.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

I begin to climb up the walls of the church using the sticky gloves.  I reach the roof and peer down through the glass windows.  Ahhh!  I notice Communion is already under way!  Luckily, the lines are long.  I have time, but I better hurry or I will miss it.

I accurately discern the exact area where I need to be to drop directly next to our pastor giving communion at the main altar station, which is also straight in front of the crucifix.  

With my laser cutter, I cut a perfectly shaped circular hole.  Somehow, I know how to prepare all of my climbing gear and I begin to lower myself down into the sanctuary.  Down, down, down like a spider descending from its web.

mission-impossiblemovie
Mission Impossible. Courtesy of tvtropes.org

Everyone in mass stands in awe.  They are so dumbfounded by what I’m doing, they are motionless.  Then, instantly, they all disappear.  It’s only the priest.  

I land right in front of him and I kneel a most reverent kneel.  I stand up.  He holds up the Eucharist and says “Body of Christ”.  I say, “Amen.”  All of a sudden, he is promptly holding the chalice and says “Blood of Christ” and I say, “Amen.

I. am. complete. I. am. one. I. am. Jesus.

 

I hope this made you smile or chuckle.

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara

As an Adult, what gives me that childlike Christmas Morning Joy?

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In light of this recent Christmas season, I wanted to reflect on a recent blog post that caught my attention about the “Crazy, Twirly, Fist-Pumping Christmas Joy” that children experience every Christmas morning, “and why, when we reach adulthood, we lose that sense of giddiness.”  

So, I started to think if it was true.  Now that I’m an adult, have I lost that I-can’t-wait-to-jump-out-of-bed feeling?  Does anything give me that childlike anticipation and joy?

In my old secular life, I would have said, No, but in this Renewed-Catholic-Everything-is-Filled-with-Life Life…100% YES!

So what is it that does it for me?  

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The Eucharist.  

Otherwise known as Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament, Transubstantiation or the Real Presence.

It is Jesus Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity consecrated into a material substance, bread and wine.  It is His greatest gift that He left for us; Himself as our food to fuel our bodies with His love and passion.

Mother Teresa said, 

Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. 

It’s so simple, yet so hard to comprehend and trust.

For a while I had to abstain from receiving the Eucharist because my civil marriage to Matt was not valid in the Catholic Church, but once Matt and I convalidated our marriage this past November, and I was able to receive Jesus Christ’s body and blood again, Oh what a miraculous state of consciousness I experienced!

This time receiving communion was infinitely different from the countless other times I consumed it because this time, I believed. I truly, wholeheartedly, with my entire body, mind, and soul believed that Jesus Christ is and always will be present in the Eucharist.

My absence from Holy Communion had made my heart grow fonder and wiser.

This moment, something that I had intellectually and spiritually prepared for, nurtured, and safeguarded for so many months had finally arrived and I was as eager and elated as a child on Christmas morning.

Body of Christ. Amen.   Blood of Christ. Amen.  I believe.  This is Jesus.  He is in me and I in Him.  We are one.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

All at once, I was awake!  And more aware of my surroundings and the life that filled it than ever before! All of my harboring struggles, sins, and sorrows lifted up and out of me. I gave them to God and I was so overjoyed with emotion that tears began to quietly flow.  

I’m not sure if anyone witnessed my reaction, but I didn’t care.  I felt zoetic, on fire, and a perfect love envelop me!  I felt His inconceivable mercy…once again.

And I feel this elation, yearning, peace, and fondness each time I attend Mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament.

C.S. Lewis beautifully illustrates how I adore the Eucharist:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

And finally, Saint Maximilian Kolbe had it right when he said,

If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.

 

Here are a couple of videos that brilliantly explain and portray the Real Presence in the Eucharist:

Sophia Sketchpad: The Eucharist

https://youtu.be/QcB7Uem00n4

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

http://youtu.be/bJjW3LXuHzo

 

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara

Having the Merriest Greenest Christmas 

 

Santa Claus…It seems our twins still don’t trust him.
72 degrees, green grass and little blooming flowers on Christmas Day in McKinney, TX?  Unheard of until today.
More green grass….

This Christmas has been different to say the least.  Yes, it’s unseasonably  warm, we have green grass and blooming flowers, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I am 100%, through and through, my heart and my soul, devoted to yours and ours truly, Jesus Christ by way of Catholicism.

And because of Christ and Catholicism, this Christmas we have given.

Yes, we always give on Christmas, but to whom?  We usually just give to family, but this year, we also gave to those in need and those in need were people that indirectly, directly or have never touched our lives.

And it felt good.

Better than good.  It felt exhilarating.  It felt like love.

I finally unblocked the clogged artery backed up by my past sins and opened it up to God.  In doing that, I received the gift that I have been asking and praying for all of Advent.

To accept God’s mercy and experience the burning flame of His love in my heart.  And that love roared out of me like a Dragon’s fire and onto others through giving.

With this “love following upon love” (John 1:14) I have never felt the fullness of life more than I do now.

 

Also, because we actually stayed home this Christmas, we were able to begin our own traditions and spend this special day with our amazing neighbors, Miss Karla, Miss Toni and their families.  They are all the epitome of this season (even when it’s not this season) and I adore them beyond measure.

My words will never be enough to express my gratitude.

I can honestly say that this year I have actually sensed the true meaning of Christmas.

To give without expectations.  To love without limits.  To live in God’s mercy.

Have the Merriest Greenest Christmas!

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara

5 Things I learned from Unsuccessfully Potty Training My Twins

This is about a month over due, but I thought I’d share anyway.

pottytraining
via susiebhomemaker.com
  1. God controls what I can’t.

God’s will versus my will are two infinitely unequal opposing forces in which success only comes when my will goes along with God’s will.  

I can’t force someone to do something, even two-year olds, when it is physically out of my control.  They must be ready and being ready means it’s in God’s hands, not my own.

For some unknown reason, I had no problem with my twins walking and talking on their own time and in going at their own pace learning their ABC’s, 123’s, colors and shapes, but with potty training I had to take control.  I had to teach my kids to use the toilet and be out of diapers at precisely two years old and that was that.  

Why?  I suppose because I view bathroom behavior as an area in general etiquette that I must ingrain in my children at an early age, along with all other forms of manners.  There is a necessity for thoroughly deep-seating common decency and politeness into them before beginning any formal education.

If they have not been taught to respect, sit quietly and listen to an authority figure then how will they ever learn the material presented to them?

Manners show appreciation, such as a “Thank you” when receiving something, and turn a demand into a courteous and shameless request just by adding a simple “please” in front of it.

Sharing, giving, and controlling their emotional outbursts are also instilled, and, most importantly, they express love and respect for one another.

Once all of this is fundamental in my children’s lives there will be far fewer struggles during their schooling lessons.  Everything taught becomes easily absorbed into them because they have learned to listen.

As I digress.

Yes, bathroom etiquette is important, but they must first acquiesce to putting their bodily waste into the toilet, and trying to force any human to do that is physically impossible if their bodies haven’t naturally learned bladder and bowel control.

2. Sometimes you don’t know until you try.

How many times have you heard “How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”, while cross-examining a food or an action that looks or smells or sounds displeasing to you?

Sometimes the outcome is good, for instance, I postponed trying Brussels sprouts until my twenties because I heard they were disgusting. While taking a Chef Course during that era of life I made Brussels sprouts and when I tried them for the first time I was pleasantly surprised. To this day they are one of my favorite vegetables.

Then, sometimes you wish you had never, ever tried it, like drugs. Bad idea.

Well, that same question is the standard in first-time parenting.

No book, article, blog post or YouTube video can give you the gift of that first trying experience. Only actually doing it can.  It may turn for the worse, but you don’t know until you try.

3. It’s ok to give up, claim defeat, and admit that you made a mistake.

It’s time to wave the white flag, and throw in the towel, after you’ve been through 3 days of 100% full-on, hands-on, everything-on potty training and you are still chasing two kids around saying “remember tell mommy when you need to use the potty”, but then your daughter slips and falls on another puddle of urine. You grab your Clorox wipes that are basically attached to your hip, cry for the umpteenth time on your knees, looking up at God, begging for mercy, and praying for a miracle, all the while not noticing that your house smells worse than a bridge taken over by homeless residents because you haven’t left your home since it all began!

This is when it’s time to stop and give up. It’s ok because you can try again. Just do it a little later…as in when they are ready.

4. I shouldn’t compare my children to other children (even ones I’ve only met by way of a training manual).

I promised myself I wouldn’t, but I believed potty training need not apply.  Boy, was I wrong.

“Every child is different”.  I’ve heard this from everyone I know with children. I’ve read it in every baby book, blog, and article, and I believe it, but like the military grade sleep training technique we successfully accomplished when they were just newborns, I figured the outcome of potty training would be the same.

I thought that because they were 25 months old, and the 3-Day Potty training author says that any child can be potty trained at 22 months…I mean all of her kids were trained around that age, so then mine were ready too, right?

[Really loud Ehhhhh] Wrong!

Did they have signs of readiness?  What other sign did they need other than their age?

Yes, this is a classic symptom of First-Time Parenting Syndrome.

Amnesic ignorance.

5. “Better a patient person than a warrior” (Proverbs 16:32)

Finally, after my son woke up with a horrible croup cough, most likely induced from all the potty training stress and from sleeping all night in his own feces, the sense was almost knocked back into me.

I consulted my dear friend, Wendy and my sister-in-law, Becca.  I asked them if potty training was supposed to be this hard. They both said “NO” and that my twins were not ready.  At that point, that’s all I needed to give up. I was done.

And, hello?  Two-year olds need a patient, loving and nurturing mother, not an onerous drill sergeant who commands “Pee in the potty or else!”

The warrior in me wanted to win at potty training, but it dawned on me that this battle was not worth winning, beside the fact that I would never win it because my children weren’t physically capable of controlling themselves.

It is so hard to practice patience in our fast-paced, instant gratification, convenient ridden world, but our children need it from us.  This is why my number one most prayed prayer is asking God for patience.

Slowly, but surely, my impatient tendencies are becoming less apparent, and I have only God to thank.

Benedicamus Domino,

Kara