When letting go broke my heart wide open.

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I didn’t expect this major life lesson this week.

I thought we had the week covered: we had a weekend to ourselves and spending it together: our most valued commodity: time as a family. Homeschooling. Work week would commence shortly.

And then I got a call from my husband as he was taking care of some business from his Air Force desk with our eldest in tow. {I only presume he actually has an Air Force desk btw, I mean, stripes Must allow for an actual desk, right?}  The phone call was not- “hey- can you look up so and so dates for me? like I expected. It was a, “Hey! There’s a guy here who needs to sell his dog! Guess what? It’s the dog- puppy- you want, honey! Do we get him?!?!?!” phone call.

Gulp. Questions question questions from wife.

This is me thinking to the Jeapardy! tune…. Think hard Falls, think hard.

So we got said adorable German Shepherd ball of cute and ball of energy pup delivered to our door. Little did we know that waiting inside was a very frightened – unbeknownst to even herself- 3 year old. She really – thought- she wanted a puppy and had turned the “I’m afraid of doggies” corner. No. She had not. And then our little guy took cues from big sis and it was kinda mayhem in our house.  We made All of the classic mistakes introducing this pup to our kiddos. All of them. In hindsight- 24 hours later, had we known they would be so afraid we would not have gotten this dog. But- I learned a very very valuable lesson out of having this sweet guy in our life for a day. That no matter what, even if it is the dog of my dreams that I never ever thought was within the realm of reality for us, that our kids come first. They need to know that. The one caveat – that they do not come before our marriage.

So I woke up in the middle of the night and found some amazing puppy training resources for him and thought and thought until I was 4 am hungry and could finally rest after reading enough and downing a yogurt. Phew. Back to sleep so that I could poooosibly deal with the morning that was sure to arrive all too soon.

This morning arrived with husband waking to get pup out and us fighting over logistics and daughter and little guy seriously screaming at the top of their lungs from atop the kitchen table because pup was looking in their general direction. Le sigh. Poor pup. He seemed so eager to please and there was just no having it from the two littles. None. And a broken hearted mama and dada. So daddy had to make the hard call and try to get the previous owners to take him back. Uhhhh- no go. They were like- peace out suckahs. And did I ever feel suckered- even tho we weren’t. And did I ever feel like a jerk. Even tho we really wanted to keep him. It turns out you can’t force a child to change his fear into non fear because of your desire for it. It also turns out that we – Jeff and I had to put on the parent role and take care of our kids. Suffer for them. Love them thru our suffering. Lift up our suffering to the cross and ask Jesus to take it for us. And to carry our own crosses. I mine and Jeff his. I had to be nicer and stop snapping at him. This was not his fault. I had to lift up my sadness and ask Jesus to take it for His holy purposes and especially for our daughter that she might come thru this with love and patience and a desire to do God’s will in her life.

It turns out that lifting up your children is the hardest thing. Abraham did it, didn’t he? But wow, me? I often hide them under the bushel. I can lift up anything, I find- except for them. I am too afraid to let God into that place where I think I have it all covered and under control. How can He help, I think underneath it all? Why would God actually care to carry MY children when I’m supposed to be doing it? — It turns out that I don’t. I don’t have it all- not by a long shot. But also- and more importantly – that I am better when I realize that I don’t need to have it all covered or controlled. Our priest asked recently what it is that we keep to ourselves and don’t let God into our lives with. This is mine. My kids. I think I do. I tell myself I do. But I don’t. I’m selfish and want to do it all myself. I think I’m supposed to -and that if I don’t do it all I’m an abject failure.

I am not a failure. You- if you are reading this- somewhere relating- are Not a failure. But I have to let God into those places that I keep to myself. Those moments I deem too precious for anyone but me. I would do well to let my husband into those moments, too. And not play the martyr SAHM when he comes home from work. I succeed sometimes, but I could definitely do better.

So I found that we could get the pup re-homed to a good home and the seller is giving us and incredibly generous “credit” for when we are ready and have the right breed in mind for us all- and approved by kiddos.

I also found Christ in this little animal. In his eyes and his pawing at me and in my kids’ pleas to get him away and in my yearning for him to stay with us and in my husband’s easy smile with him and in letting him go to a new home. I cried some serious tears like I haven’t cried in a while for the loss of something or someone. I cried for wanting to be a better Christian and better wife and better mother and better me and for letting it be in God’s hands for once.  Last night before the dog came as I was preparing the house a little, I prayed that this dog would teach me about love and about kindness to grow spiritually. Our son named him Patrick because it was St. Paddy’s day yesterday. Sometimes God answers your prayers in such unexpected ways, doesn’t He? Unexpected indeed.

This song played as we were driving home tonight and helped me remember that it’s okay to feel. God gave us feelings. And to trust in the Lord.

 

St. Patrick, pray for us.

 

 

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The Light of the World.

Divine-Mercy

Yesterday in and among our vigil mass and kiddo wrangling, I actually heard some of the homily that our Deacon gave. This is a rare occasion. He’s just the sweetest man and for some reason very very hard for me to listen to, or not have to get up and go to the restroom in the middle of or some other distraction. Anyway, he pointed to the painting of the Divine Mercy and asked us all to pay attention to it.  I did.  

He asked us to look and notice that it is just Jesus and the text.  He is coming out of the darkness. There is nothing besides our Lord in the picture. No background. No trees or mountains or context of any kind. Just darkness. Because He is the Light of the World. Him and only Him. In this time of cultural darkness, I will hold fast to this.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ,in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

 

Happy Sunday. Peace be with you friends.

 

Thoughts from a post-abortive/ post-miscarriage Mother.

What I really wanted to talk about was this thing that always happens to me as a post-abortive/ post-miscarriage Mom.

The fact of pregnancy and the hormones that accompany always take me into at least one tailspin of our lost children.  I dwell all night about my first child, the circumstances, the things I wish I would have done, known, who I wish I could have been.  How much I miss that baby that was lost to the tragedy of abortion that January so long ago.  Each time a new doc or nurse or tech or anybody has to delve into my past, there my baby is, waiting to be spoken about.  Waiting to be loved.  And now, all I have for him is love and longing to be reunited with him in Heaven.  I know that he is safe and loved more than I could know in the arms of Jesus, as are our other two darling children.  I don’t carry shame anymore, God in His grace has granted me forgiveness. Really, it’s more an inability to express how much those children mean to me. I have two living beautiful children and 3 wonderful souls in heaven.  I pray for them and know that they pray for me in whatever capacity they have.  I am their Mother today and always and I cherish this.

I’m so grateful for the work of pro-life people like Abby Johnson, who will talk about these things, about forgiveness after abortion.  The light that is shed on darkness through Jesus Christ is life giving and freeing.  I remember when I was confessing my sins for the very first time just 5 years ago this Lent and just how amazing it was to truly ask the Lord to forgive me for killing my baby.  It was one of the biggest moments of my life.  Before that I felt so dirty and ashamed and unable to own what I had done.  I didn’t have Jesus before that year and you can’t Give yourself true forgiveness, it  only truly comes from God.

As a Buddhist I had always assumed that role for myself and it brought me only heartache and deep depression.  I couldn’t admit anything.  I hid many many things from myself to forget pain and pretend that I was strong enough.  I used every form of denial; alcohol was my favorite go-to, but relationship hopping and sex were never out of the question to fill the void. I learned the very very tough way that I’m not the one in charge, but He is.  I’m not saying it wasn’t important or even essential to try to forgive myself, to forgive oneself for aborting a baby.  It is.  But there still was that place in my heart -and it turned out to be my whole heart- that needed true food, true love.

So here I am, with an amazing husband who loves me and who helped me come to know Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness and come to the Catholic Church.  With whom I have two amazing and perfect living children and one growing inside of me now.  This pregnancy is hard.  Harder it seems than the last, and seeing and hearing her perfect little heartbeat made all the yucky nausea and pain just worth it.  I’m a mother to a new soul, a soul that has been co- created with God himself.  I am eternally grateful to know that and have love for the little fragile life inside me.  She’s my baby now and forever and I already love her in her teeny tiny phase and the rest of it.

Thank you for reading and I hope this heartens people to know that change is possible and that if a person like I was can change anyone can.  I really believe that because Jesus healed my heart and brought me back to life.

If you are reading this thinking I’m crazy, but How would a person become Catholic?  Just hop over to your local Catholic Church and ask about RCIA – Rite of Christian Innitiation for Adults.  Even universities like CU Boulder where my husband and I converted have campus parishes and amazing people to connect with.

And if you are reading this, pregnant and don’t know what to do I recommend these amazing places/organizations for some of the best care and help an expectant Mother can ask for:

Gabriel House nearest you for the best pre-natal and infant/Mama support I’ve ever known. This one is for Denver but it’s a nationwide project to help mothers and babies.

Abby Johnson’s site has wonderful resources.

Embrace Grace is out of Texas and here’s an amazing video they produced.

I thought I would end here.  Peace be with you.

7 QT: On Slow Rise and making Sourdough when life gives you lemons.

Welcome to my Freezing Friday -cooped up with cabin feverish kiddos- 7QT!

a. First, a big thank you to Jen for dragging yourself out from beneath covers to be our gracious and -hopefully better hostess!

1. I’ve discovered that my “maker” includes “baker”.  Phew.  Glad I got that out. My art grad school self is trying hard not to be disgusted with my newfound love of BREAD self.  It’s seriously all the cool stuff my sculptor self loves: art, science, experimentation, whimsy, love and even theology.  More and more and more bread to come your way, maybe even to some doorsteps soon. to be continued…

so, here’s this item of deliciousness that my dear husband helped me knead for days it seemed to get even Some bubbles: Behold, Extra Sour Sourdough Bread from the oven of SpicyCatholic! Who needs culinary school anyway?

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2. Then, my sweet friend Amanda sent me this awesome Ted Talks vid, and it’s awesome, if you love BREAD and theology, it’s worth the 15 minutes. 

I only heard of this guy, he’s a big deal in the bread maker world – Peter Reinhart- and I haven’t done much research on him, but me thinks he’s a Catholic, and at least a Communion receiving Christian.

3.   Superbowl!!! It’s Denver and Seattle, and I am so very excited, so much in our win over the Patriots that I’m sharing silly Broncos cupcake cutie maxin’ in the glow of victory with a blue mouth.

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       I wanted to plan a big feast and stuff, but sadly it falls on husband’s AF Reserves UTA, so, yeah, not feasting, more like praying/ mitigating survival of sanity.  The show must go on.

4.  I feel down and out when I’m not making, baking, writing or doing something that makes my heart happy, and weird as it may be, I have fallen for bread.  Glad I got the chance to check in today with all y’all linkup amigos.

5.  Congratulations to all y’all awesome bloggers nominated for Sheenazing Awards.  You all deserve awards and martinis!  Really really good martinis.  Headed over to vote myself very very soon.

6.  Can I just get an AMEN for Child Lock on the Tablet!?  We do the kindle version and boy were we paying for stuff before they put That baby in there.

7. A big big hair change is coming up.  Dun dun dun!  I really hope it goes well, or else next week’s 7QT may be a little tears in my martini kinda post.

7.a. Downton: that’s another post I haven’t gotten to

7.b.  Sherlock: ditto, but don’t fret, I’ll get on it soon.

Hope you all have a dandy weekend and are out of the cold wherever you are.

Dr. football , Or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the game.

Captive Siberian tigers play-fighting

When I was a youngin I didn’t really care for all the screaming and yelling that went on with Bronco Sunday.  We weren’t Christians, as a family, and really, our religion, if there was one, was football.  So I kinda had a mad on for football for a long, Long time.  I even went to Ohio State , where in Columbus if you are not a football fan you may as well just Move.   Now that I’m not there (thanks be to God) I can appreciate the culture, from afar, a very very far.  Never was cut out to be a Buckeye.

Anyhow, as I’ve gotten older, traveled and lived all over the world, I have come to really appreciate the football season.  And expecially college football season.  Having children, especially a boy has been the game changer I think.  Not to mention of course being married to a native Alabama man and born and raised Bama fanatic.

When our son came I realized that I really want him to love and appreciate football as much as we do.  Not just because it’s the most fun you can have on a Saturday in the Fall, but because there is something, many things special about this game.  I want to flesh those things out for myself and for anyone else interested in Why!? you would ever want to watch a single game with your football loving husband.

Comaradery.  There is just a feeling, maybe inexplicable feeling you get from knowing gameday is here.  It’s like waking up on Christmas morning in October with an unknown present coming.  [Especially if you’re an Alabama fan].  But, only you and millions of other fans are in on the gifting.  You get to come together with all kinds of folks for good, clean competition.  And, this is especially why I love College Football because it’s not the NFL, players are still young and impressionable and learning who they are on and off the field.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that there aren’t big money issues in College ball, too, but still, it’s not the NFL where players are paid gajillions.  That, however is another post entirely my friendly readers.

Americana.  When I was living abroad, one of the things I would miss the most in the Fall was American Football.  It defines us as a nation, whether we like it or not, it’s Our sport.  I began to get homesick living in Korea for my friends and I hanging out in front of the tv watching a game, drinking something cold and eating all kinds of gameday food.  I guess I’m just a ‘Merican at heart.

Team.  I have always found team play really important.  Which is odd considering my personal choice of sports: Tennis and cycling.  Ha!  Those two sports are all about me, me, me.  Looking back I wish I had gone out for the girl’s soccer team, just to be part of a team sport.  And now as a Mom, I really am hoping that our kids get the chance to play, learn and enjoy team sports.  They are character building and enjoyable for so many reasons.

Roughhousing. One of the main reasons I think football in particular as a team sport is great, is because of the idea of roughhousing and learning our  inner and outer strengths.  Playing rough is one of God’s great gifts to human kind, to all animals, and it teaches us trust in ourselves, our bodies and in others.  Especially if we were allowed to roughhouse as kids.  It is practice for the real world for animals, but on many levels for us too. We learn boundaries and how to exceed them, if and where possible, and we learn about the magnificent gifts God has bestowed on us in play, through excertion of our physical bodies, through laughter and frustration, we learn, grow and get stronger.  We learn that we can overcome.  Here’s Mandisa’s gorgeous song and tear jerking video(I’m 3 for 3 in crying while viewing):

Manliness.  I believe it’s extremely important, especially today to define our gender roles.  It is essential for a boy to know that it is not only OKAY to be a boy, but to Act like a boy.  Boys are generally bigger and stronger than girls and it’s important for them to have positive, healthy outlets for being boys.  They are our future Men; future husbands, fathers, military, priests, builders, caretakers.  I want our son to know that he can be himself in a world that may not want Manliness to exist at all.  Men are an amazing, beautiful strength and gift to the human race, I would like for that to be the case forever.  And, in something as simple as playing football, they can learn skills that will carry them into Manhood with grace and love and understanding of proper roles as a beautiful thing, not something to hide or be ashamed of.

Coaching.  This is an amazing gift, this thing called coaching. It’s not parenting, but it is, it’s not teaching, but it totally is, it’s not anything short of helping a person excel at his or her own personal gifts.  I have had the privilege of knowing some wonderful coaches; people who really cared about their teams and sacrificed their own time to help kids get better and be better, on and off the field, or choir room, or theatre stage, or ninjutsu mat.

So these are some reasons I will always root for my team, try to be the best coach a kid can ask for in a parent and pray for players and coaches. And I pray that my kids have as good a coach as Peter Mussett or Nick Saban or Rhonda Fossum or Mary Stevens.  Roll Tide. PPS Coach, please don’t leave Alabama until Blaise can play for you!

Love, Vic.

On Marriage and Friendships: A guest post!

I am grateful to my husband, Jeff Falls for writing here and thinking with me about this important question.  I will further delve into the subject, but would like to let his post lay the groundwork for who we are and where we come from.Peace be with you!

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De Amicitias
by Jeffery Falls

My underlying assumptions:
1. I am not Cicero
2. Sanctification is our Earthly goal and all endeavors hereon should have that purpose in mind.
3. All friendships should be Christ-centered. No exceptions. See 2, above.
4. There are two categories of women with whom I should develop intimate friendships:
a. My wife
b. The Saints
5. The Enemy hates our guts.
All are free to reject these assumptions at the outset, in which case no further reading is necessary. One does so, however, only at great risk to his eternal soul.
I married my best friend. I don’t mean that in the 21st century cliché way. I married a beautiful woman, for whom I had great affection. When we met I had a few “best friends” already. I had served in the Marines and taught personal protection for a number of years and had developed several very close friendships in those contexts. Since then, I have carefully cultivated a friendship with my wife based upon mutual trust, with the goal of getting her into Heaven. She has become my best friend. I married my one-time fiancé, who transformed into my best friend on Earth.
I don’t have other close female friends. My tone with other women, whether connected to them socially or professionally, is friendly but, admittedly, aloof. I don’t share secrets with them. I don’t invest myself in their private lives. My wife can be confident that if another woman knows something about me, that she, as my wife, knew it first. There is no cause for me to establish intimacy with any female who is not my spouse. Our inner lives are the specific purview of our spouses. When we allow someone else of the opposite sex access to those lives, especially to the exclusion of our wives and husbands, we are denying our marriages the fuel that they need to thrive. The preservation of our marriages requires constant, intentional focus. We must assign our marriages to the most sacred of places in our heart and vigorously guard them from outside influences that would exploit chinks in their armor. We must eliminate those weak spots.
I can hear the rebuttals now.
To those voicing them let me say that one need not be a lust-indulging eye wanderer or jealousy-stricken henpecker for this principle to apply. It is in the very nature of Fallen Man to be susceptible to the slow erosion of moral uprightness by laziness and inattention. In a prelapsarian universe the above notion may not be true. That’s not our world. Sin in insidious. Sin is just fine with moving slowly. If we are not careful, that slow movement becomes, but for the grace of reconciliation, inexorable. If marriage is our vocation, and our relationship with our spouse the most valuable we will ever have with another human, then we must do all that we can to prevent the Enemy from establishing a toe-hold in our matrimonial lives.
We must not allow the world, which has convinced most that equality means sameness, to dictate the conditions of our relationships. As a man, I need close friendships with other men; “iron sharpens iron,” and all that. My wife does not. As a woman, my wife needs female confidantes. But I don’t. When I say that we need friends of the same gender, I’m not talking about outlets to complain about our marriages or spouses. That’s why we have spouses. I’m talking about relationships that have Christ at the center, with the purpose of building up and holding accountable one another in the Faith. I’m talking about purposeful connections where an unambiguous conversation has taken place regarding whys and wherefores. I’m advocating for living more intentionally Christian lives.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the word “friendship” only seventeen times. They’re all worth a read.
Thank you to the readers of the Spicy Catholic blog and to all of Victoria’s friends who follow her @spicycatholic in the twitterverse. You’re a constant help to her.

For more of me and my (infrequent) musings you can read my blog here and follow me @sergeantfalls.

 

5 things, or Cinco Cosas;

This kinda post is right up my alley:  short and sweet and baby girl doesn’t have to get too too mad at me for keyboarding. Even tho it still took me a week!

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1.  I love, love, love being a Stay at Home Mommy.  It ‘s just such an amazing blessing to watch and help my little ones be formed in life.  Our son is the sweetest thing and so shy and funny.  Our daughter is absolutly in love with him.

 
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2. Habemus Papam!  I am so very happy that we have a new Papa.  I realized that being Catholic feels a little different today than it did about a week ago.  One of the great mysteries of God’s Grace.

3.  I LOVE licorice.  Luscious, dark, molassesy licorice.  Just devine.

 
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4. Just 3 weeks until This.

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5. Chile. Baby Vicuna besos. Can’t wait to return.

Many thanks to my friend Suzette for the fun tag.

Happy 5th Sunday of Lent!
Love, Vic.