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.

 

 

Prodigal Son and Reflections in pregnancy.

Gratitude.

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Tonight I witnessed my son growing up. We were saying our nightly prayers and it was the way he was using language and internalizing his words that caught my attention.
He’s growing up before my very eyes and I’m so very proud and happy. His life has given mine meaning in a way my words will always fail to express.

My gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ for changing me, for lifting up my broken and dying person, my withering soul, is something I only pray I can share and spread for others. I am starting by trying to share Him with my beautiful children and the man I married, with whom I am one.

Reflections on 20 yr. old Victoria.

Recently I have been reflecting on just how I really feel like my life has done a 180 degree turn from whom I was.  Prompting this was a desire to get in touch with an incredibly generous family I stayed with in Nicaragua over 20,yes, 20 years ago.  Hard to believe the kid I was back then.  I had gone on a secular mission type trip to be a helping hand in a library opening in this little town on the border of Honduras.  I realize now how eye opening that experience was, and also how much I missed by maintaining my selfishness while I was there.  I guess what I really want is a make-up chance.  A chance to really give back to that family, and mostly to bring Jesus with me.  As a Catholic convert I can really see the ways my selfishness has strayed my heart, frayed it into tiny fragments that would never be whole without Him.

This song is lovely, it reflects more sadness and anger that I let go of a long time ago, but I still really love it. Miss Michelle Shocked.

http://grooveshark.com/s/Prodigal+Daughter+Cotton+Eyed+Joe/3ET9km?src=5

Part-time Military.

Today I’m a mother and a wife and we are a part-time military family.  Which is sometimes so awkward.  My husband goes away for short stints and I fall into single mom, hold down the fort mode.  And he comes back and I just don’t know where I stand or how to deal with his presence in our family again.  Even  after 3 days.  I miss him so much while he’s away and look forward to his being home.  And the reality of his being home proves harder than the imagined one where he is husband and father and sole breadwinner.  I find myself ill equipt to deal with his presence again and every little thing seems to set me off; his disciplining our kids, our schedule, money, pretty much anything.  I try to maintain that -Happy he’s home version of Victoria-; it just always seems too short-lived.

So, why is reality so darned Hard?  Why do I have to take the kids to mass by myself?  Why do things just not go according to my oh so perfect plans?  Maybe God is trying to teach me something.  Honestly, I don’t know what it is right now.  But, I have an idea that it may have something to do with letting go of that selfish Vic, something like dying to self.  UUUUUUuuuugh.  I really Dislike dying to Self!  It hurts, it’s uncomfortable, it means I need to go to confession and to love without expecting to get anything in return.  It means I need to actively Try to bring Christ out from under the bushes and shine His light even when it’s really hard.  Like right now.  Like at the gas station, like here at home and doing the dishes, like when I talk to my husband, like when I am making breakfast for the kids at 630am.

Baby anxiety.

I’m going to go get to nesting.  It helps me feel a tad more equipped to welcome a new person into our home.  And- I can be so very thankful that we have a place to call home this year.  We will probably be staying here for arrival of little one, so that is really something for us.  To be able to nest and plant stuff and and and.

7QT on New Life

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This isn’t just a metaphor post on the new year.  Mostly it’s about praying on how to grow our family.

1. Letting the cross heal me. Being in a hard place in marriage makes all things hard for us, my spouse and I. But marriage is a Sacrament, you know?  For us Catholics it is. It is my vocation andplace to grow closer to our Savior. It took lots of prayer, talking to my husband, anger, forgiveness and help from lots of my fellow Catholic Mom circle of friends to convince my ego to Try and step aside and let love for my husband and our family that we have take it’s place.  Woof.  Yes, still a work in progress, cuz I like me some me sometimes. 😦 to a completely annoying level I micromanage everyone in my path.  Husband is no exception.  Something I long and pray to change this instant and from here forward.  Getting him to heaven is my main job, not whether or not he complies to my every whim.  And whims I have. Ego, you can kiss your annoying self goodbye.

2. Trying to open myself to the idea of another child.  I’ve been thinking for a long time, my whole life, that I would like to adopt.  Recently becoming a Prayer Warrior for a beautiful boy at Reece’s Rainbow really brought that closer to home.  We can finally pray together for God’s hand in our family, letting Him willingly into our decision making for pregnancy and or adoption.  This is scary for me. I didn’t feel strong enough recently to really offer it up. But it turns out that in my weakness I can give to Jesus that which I cannot take.

2.5 (nobody said there were rules, did they?)  Stop misusing NFP.  I love and believe deeply in the benefits of natural family planning.  Practicing it changed my life forever. BUT, I think in learning how to naturally achieve or avoid pregnancy I started replacing avoid “pregnancy” with avoid love making and avoid husband, full stop. But, Fear- be banished.  I need not fear God’s plan.  I mean, there are actual Bible stories about this.  So, what’s my problem?, I am married to one awesome and Hot man, so, I’m feeling grateful for this realization.  End be to hard place in marriage and hello to who, what and hows that God gives us to grow and renew our marital vows.  Plus, who wouldn’t want more of these people around:

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3. My WOTY:  Both Dwija and Kathryn have inspired me to pray on a Word for the Year. It turns out, my word this year is Give. Give, Victoria, Give. Holy Moly.  Am I prepared?  Well, who cares.  I’m going to ask the Lord for help, cuz that’s the word He gave me. I no longer am afraid of being 42, finances, location, doctors, vbacs or even the loss of miscarriage that we’ve suffered before.  I’m not even worried that I’m going to bother someone in an empty church if I need to sing praises instead of quietly pray.  I’m even going to look into being part of the choir.  What!

4. Make.  I am a maker.  So, I’m gonna start making’ the stuff I have plans for.

5. Budgetting!  We are finally and so so happily on a budget.  A Dave Ramsey cash envelope type budget.  It’s working.  We’re not saving as of today, but we’re On Budget!  Major sigh of relief.

6. Slowly learning something some great saints knew long ago: (I catch on eventually)

It is also a very clear sign of love to try to spare others household work by taking it upon oneself and also to rejoice and give great praise to the Lord if you see any increase in their virtues. -St. Teresa of Avila, Way of Perfection

7. Let my husband be himself and Love him more each day for it.  So- I already know I’m gonna need some help here, I’m just not the best at being unconditional.  All y’all Holy Men and Women; that’s yer cue.  Aaaaand, deep breath, be and love me.

Have a blessed weekend, thanks for stopping by and thanks for being a gracious host Jen!

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.

My letter to Pope Benedict XVI;

Dearest Papa Bene-
It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to you as our Pontiff.  I was so blessed to watch your final papal mass on Ash Wednesday.  How lovely a gesture that people stood and cheered for you.  As something we don’t do, it spoke volumes to my heart and I hope to you, for they were clapping and cheering for us all.

I want you to know that my fondness for you has grown immensly.  And when I say that it’s with no small amount of love or pride for my faith that this is true. You see, I used to be an anti-Catholic leftist who bought the media’s garbage that you were a Nazi and power hungry prying your way to St. Peter’s seat in Rome.  I used to think that the Catholic Church was only a place for the depraved and of the oppressed.  Especially women.  I thought that God would never deign to love me enough to want me as a part of His church on Earth.  My spirit, as you can tell, had been crushed and dismantled through years of not knowing God, of denying Jesus Christ and so denying any pontiff and his message.

When I met my to-be husband, he was going to enter the Catholic Church and I just thought he was crazy.  I was a professed Buddhist, having completely scrubbed Chrisianity(a four letter word to me then) from my life.  I had coworkers who were Christians and decidedly didn’t like them, I even told them how offensive their “God Bless you” was to me.  But, my boyfriend was a kind person and was going through RCIA.  He kept inviting me to go and I would drop him off for a few weeks thinking there’s no way I am going into a room with a bunch of Catholics who will hate me and whom I will surely hate and disagree with.  I finally decided that if I was going to really invest in this guy I had to find out what on earth he was doing entering the Church.  So I went to an RCIA thinking I was the cool buddhist in the room.  One of the cathecists was telling her story after we saw Dr. Hahn’s conversion disscussion video.  It was that night that I really decided that I could try to open my heart.  When I finally capitulated to the terrifying Candlelight Mass invitation from my husband, we walked into St. Thomas and it was just so beautiful, so mystifying.

Christ’s beauty encompassed me, us.  And “Where have I been that I wasn’t Here all this time?”, was all I could think and feel.  I wept on my knees what seemed for a lifetime.  It all fell out, all the sorrow, all the sin, all the fear, just left in His presence.

The things I did not know about you were inumerable.  I did not know your love and capacity to love.  Your incredible love of our Mother Mary has taught me so much.  How to humble oneself before God.

Papa Bene- thank you for teaching me, for leading the way for me and for Christ’s Church on Earth how to love God and our Mother Church.

Victoria.