I guess the topic of failure is not done with me yet. Given how great I am at failing, it's nice to know I'm in good company every once in a while.
After writing The Importance of Sharing Failure, and posting the status update to Facebook, I've gotten some really great feedback. As such, I've been thinking more about it and wanted to again point out that the mirage of perfection that we see online, in magazines, and on television is just that - a mirage.
The only perfection we can hope to attain is that eternal reward of union with Christ in Heaven. That is the perfection we should be running towards. What does a thigh gap have on eternal life? Do the numbers 36-24-36 mean anything in the light of Divinity? Or is it the bulging biceps that will somehow overshadow the merits of the Sacrifice of the Cross?
We all fail. It's part of our frail human natures. Even the greatest saints among us have fallen.
St. Paul spoke of the thorn in his side. He never named the sin that caused him to falter, but he understood the importance of sharing his faults so that others may benefit.
St. Augustine. Oh bless him... St. Augustine is proof that there's a chance for me yet.
Even St. Peter, himself, failed his best friend, Jesus - THREE TIMES.
We all will fail. The difference between St. Peter and Judas is that St. Peter sought forgiveness. He recognized his failing, and he sought forgiveness.
We are not perfect, folks. How lucky we are that God forgives! And yes, this ties in nicely with all the Pope Francis talk about Confession.
Run to Him. Recognize your failing as a stepping stone towards sainthood. We will all falter at some point. However, it only becomes failure if you give up and do not seek forgiveness. So long as you're still alive, you know God hasn't given up on you. Why should you give up on yourself if He hasn't?
Recognize your failings and rectify them so they become beacons of Christ's mercy. What better place to do that than in the Confessional wherein Christ wraps His arms around you and pulls you to His Sacred Heart. The absolution you hear is simply the vocalization of His beating Heart serenading you with unconditional love and boundless mercy.
For about a month and a half, I've attempted to make a conscious decision to eat better and exercise more.
The last two weeks, I basically threw my progress out the window and indulged in every gluttonous whim I could've shoved down my throat.
I put off getting on the scale because I knew my vice would come taunting me in gained pounds. However, I started publicly posting my progress on FB for the specific purpose of holding myself accountable. The first few updates were great.
"Hey! I lost a few pounds!"
"Diet and exercise still working."
That sorta stuff.
However, I didn't want to post this one. I didn't want to post my failure, because that's what this was. A failure. Who wants to make that public?
But I posted the results just the same because it's important for people to understand that the "reality" they see on social media sites isn't reality. The "I lost 10 lbs!" doesn't happen magically. It doesn't happen all at once. It happens with effort. REAL effort.
And with real effort comes real temptation to quit. Real temptation to throw your hands up and rationalize why you don't need to exercise or why you can get away with eating that cookie.
I know for a fact that some of my friends are influenced by what I post on my feed, especially things dealing with body image / self-esteem. As such, I feel a real responsibility to portray my struggles alongside the success so they don't think I'm this "lucky duck" version of reality.
So I posted this:
Being sick the last two weeks, I've totally derailed my diet and exercise routines. As a result, I gained back one of the pounds I lost. Worse, I let almost two weeks go by... two weeks I COULD have been losing 4 more pounds.
I post this because changing your lifestyle isn't always "I lost X lbs! Yay me!"
It's also recognizing where you've failed, holding yourself accountable for it, and making dang sure you don't make the same mistake.
Sick or not, lazy is lazy.
Sooooo, back on the bandwagon.
Apparently it was a good move on my part. I got a private message from a friend who has really been struggling with her own weight loss. She was frustrated that it seemed "easy" for people like me to shed pounds. It made her feel like she was doing everything wrong (when obviously that was never my intention).
So by pointing out that I fail just as easily as her, she felt less annoyance with me and even opened up to sharing her own struggles with weight loss.
I'm posting this here because I think it's very, VERY important to share failures. All they are, in essence, are stepping stones to success. If you recognize them as errors and work to rectify them, you can use that knowledge in the future as a means to motivate yourself towards whatever goal it is that you have.
So as I pointed out on Facebook, my new mantra is going to be "Recognize and Rectify."
And that goes for all areas of my life - spiritual as well as physical. :)
I got a completely unexpected phone call from the Child Study Team today.
Vince was approved (AHEAD OF A WAIT LIST) to attend a special Pre-K that's taught by a Special Ed instructor and has specialized aids in the classroom.
It's an inclusive class (meaning children with and without special needs are included together) and relatively mainstream.
Best of all, he begins on MONDAY!!! MONDAY!!!
Can you believe it?
I almost can't believe it. When I got the call, it was like a dream.
They had a spot open up? They skipped us ahead of the wait list? Vincent was a "perfect fit" for the room? He could start Monday??? You want us to fill out paperwork tomorrow???
YES, YES, and YES!
God has just been so incredibly good to us throughout this entire process. Every time I was beginning to feel painted into a corner, He came in to point out the window I had my back against.
Gotta keep reminding myself that...
Even finding a Pre-K program when we most needed it. Even finding it in the middle of a school year amidst wait lists that extend to double digits.
I'm just... I am in awe of how perfectly He sets the stage for us.
Thank you, Lord! Thank you for taking such good care of Vincent. Thanks for having this fall into my lap just when John and I were beginning to go a little nuts trying to come up with a solution ourselves.
Swoon with me, people! Isn't this just darling?
This painting by John Everett Millais not only captures Jesus and His parents... it captures John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth, too!
It seems they're all hard at work in St. Joseph's carpentry shop. They're working on what looks to be a door. Poor little Jesus nicked His Hand (His Blood trickled down onto His Foot), and Our Lady stoops down to comfort Him. John-not-yet-the-Baptist comes running in with his trusty water, a precursor to his future calling.
The others surround and look on intently at the unfolding scene before them. St. Joseph even reaches out to grab Jesus' hand as if to see how badly He'd hurt Himself.
You can see the Holy Spirit hanging out on Jacob's Ladder in the above detail, too.
As St. Joseph checks Jesus' Hand, St. Elizabeth is already moving to remove the blasted nail from the door so He doesn't hurt Himself again. You can also juuuust make out the triangle, a carpenter's tool and also a symbol of the Trinity.
A young man looks on - likely an apprentice of St. Joseph's. Just outside are the herds of sheep indicative of the flocks Christ will lead as the Good Shepherd.
Yup. I'm swooning for this painting. The colors... the details... the symbols chosen... even their facial expressions. Everyone seems so somber... as if they all understand what this little event is foreshadowing.
Everyone but St. Joseph. To me, he simply looks concerned and loving towards Jesus. "Oh Son, you've cut Yourself. Let's see what we can do to make sure You're okay again. There, there."
He's even holding three of Christ's Fingers. Jesus is typically painted with three fingers up to represent His union with the Trinity. His other two fingers represent His Human and Divine natures. In this case, one is pointing upwards (His thumb) and the other is pointing down for His Humanity. I like what Millais did there.
Alrighty, you folks enjoy. I absolutely love stumbling across gems like this!
I have a few books I keep on hand for short bursts of reading. The one I'm focusing on today is called The Two Witnesses and is a collection of excerpts from a larger work titled True Life in God. Both works were written by a purported visionary by the name of Vassula Ryden.
Again, as with all things mystic, keep your eyes on the Holy Spirit and ask His guidance. I am neither supporting nor denying her claims. I haven't even gotten halfway through the book yet. So please exercise prudence.
That being said, I came across something that made me laugh a few days ago. It's been rattling around in my head ever since, so I'd like to share it with you.
When Vassula writes, she tends to go back and forth between her conversation with Christ (or His mother) and her conversation with those she's praying with (which technically extends to readership). This particular excerpt prefaces the particular "Message" Christ supposedly had Vassula write down, and even though she writes it as a preface, the reaction from Christ takes place AFTER He dictated the message.
Yesterday I was... under the Lord's dictation... and in the end I asked Jesus, "Jesus, shall we go now and do some other work?" (I had in mind to start cleaning the kitchen.) And Jesus, without the slightest hesitation said, "Then let us go!" He sounded very eager to have me up and start cleaning the kitchen. He behaved as though I had to do a very important and urgent work."
I chuckled when I read that. In all of the excerpts, Jesus is talking about very important matters like God's Love for His children, how wayward we've become and how vital it is that we reflect upon how little we love one another, but when the floors need scrubbing, the floors need scrubbing.
It reminded me of a quote I found on a fellow blogger's page that also made me chuckle when I first read it a few years ago. Hat tip to Katherine of Having Left the Altar for this namesake gem:
"A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find Him
I remember laughing when I'd read that upon stumbling over to her blog. I think that's why I kept reading. The idea that God could be found in the mundane - maybe ESPECIALLY in the mundane - it was something that amused me.
I guess it still does.
And yet I believe it. I fully believe that God sees the work of looking after our homes and families to be of importance. Each washed dish and tucked away toy is an act of love. Each sweep of the floor and every stir of the pot is another syllable of a mother's ongoing ode of love to her family.
God doesn't see the scrubbing of floors as a banal act of drudgery. If done with a happy heart, He accepts it as the gift of love it is. All we do is a gift of love if we allow it to be.
These were the cute little crafts Vincent and I put together for my mom and John's mom for St. Valentine's Day. I saw something similar on Pinterest and thought I could adapt it to Vincent's skill set. I'm really happy with how they came out. They're simply adorable!
All you need:
A frame (I chose 8x10)
Fabric leaves (optional)
What to do:
1) Paint your child's hand with red paint (or, as I did, let your son smash his hand around in a dish of paint).
2) Press hand firmly onto poster board (top center leaving about an inch border).
3) If you're using fabric leaves, you can thread a green pipe cleaner through the stem, or you can simply glue them in place as sepals. If you'd rather, you can simply paint, draw or use pipe cleaners to create the sepals.
4) Use different colored pipe cleaners to form letters. This was something Vince needed help with, but once I showed him how to do it, he kinda liked trying to bend the pipe cleaners into shapes.
5) Glue the letters into place. We chose to spell out "Love," but obviously you can spell out whatever you'd like.
6) Date the project!
7) Insert the poster board (now completed) into the frame after allowing time for the paint / glue to dry.
Super easy and super fun. I absolutely loved how they turned out, and Vincent's really proud of them, too. Plus, it was a great way to work on his fine motor skills. We can't wait to give them out. Hopefully the snow goes away so we're able to do that soon!
On Tuesday night, I explained the roots of St. Valentine's Day to my class. I told them about Father Valentine and the love for (and dedication to!) God that he was ultimately put to death for. I explained how from his jail cell, awaiting death, this holy and courageous priest would write letters to his parishioners telling them to hold fast to their love of Christ through their love of one another.
Many of them were surprised to know the national day for flowers and candy actually springs out of the martyrdom of a holy and courageous priest. When I pointed out the liturgical color for a martyr's feast is red, it took them all a quick moment to connect why everything associated with Valentine's Day follows suit. Tradition is a terribly hard thing to bury indefinitely. *Grin*
Anyway, at the end of class, I read an excerpt from The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you unaware, this incredibly beautiful prayer book was dictated to Luisa Piccarreta by Our Lord, Himself. Together, the two of them journeyed back to His Passion and experienced it for the purpose of sharing the depth of His love story to us.
I could speak of this prayer book forever, but I chose a small snippet for my class expressly for St. Valentine's Day. It is taken from the 10am-11am hour of His Passion, just as He takes up His Cross. It reads:
I [Luisa] see that your enemies shove You down the steps, while the mob awaits You with fury and eagerness. They have You find the Cross already prepared, which You seek with great longing. You look at it with Love; and You go straight towards it to embrace it. First, You kiss it; and, as a shiver of joy surges through your most Holy Humanity, You look at it with utmost satisfaction and measure its length and width. You now establish the portion in it for all creatures. You endow them with sufficient cross in order to bind them to the Divinity with a nuptial bond and render them heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I reflected thusly to my children:
Jesus did not run from His Cross. He did not turn away from the torturous and humiliating death He was about to endure. Instead, He JOYFULLY accepted His Cross. He kissed the very instrument of His death because He understood how necessary it was for the salvation of His beloved family. WE are His family. He kissed that Cross for Love of us. He shouldered that Cross for US, and He left to us the inheritance found within its splinters so that one day we might be reunited with God in Heaven.
This is our constant Valentine. Each and every time we see it, we must stop to reflect upon the Divine Love that was infused within its very existence.
"Behold, I make all things new."
Oh Lord, behold, indeed! You took the world's symbol of humiliation, agony and defeat only to turn it into the triumphant throne of mercy, salvation and victory. This is, indeed, our truest love letter from You, signed in Your Most Precious Blood and delivered with Your final, loving sigh.
This is my reflection for Saint Valentine's Day.
May the Lord bless each and every one of you with peace, love and mercy.
Isn't she beautiful???
I just adore pregnant versions of Our Lady. This statue is just under 12" high. I found her in my travels at the Archdiocesan building. She's located on the 11th floor on the desk of a colleague. I asked permission to snap these photos with my phone and she laughed saying she got compliments on this statue all the time.
I asked if there was a St. Joseph statue to go along with this (like some sort of La Posada set). She said she didn't think so. It's always been just Mary and the little, unborn Jesus within her.
I could look at this statue all day. I absolutely love it! So I'm sharing it with you fine folks!
Here she is from both sides so you can appreciate just how round with Life she is! In the one on the right, it almost looks like Jesus' tiny Foot is pushing her abdomen out slightly. *Giddy swoon* LOOOOVE this tiny statue!
The Blessed Mother as the first (and most pure) tabernacle of Christ. How she must have marveled at the miracle hidden within her most holy womb.
Every year, I dread the Superbowl.
Because my husband flies out to Vegas with his dad and uncles for about a week as some sort of male-family tradition.
I don't mind that he's in Vegas (the only place you can legally bet on the Superbowl). Sure, there are plenty of women he could easily contact for sex (with prostitution being all but legal there), but I trust John. Sure, there are plenty of drugs and drinking to be done in Vegas, but again, that's not really John's thing.
Actually, he drinks, but not to the point of inebriation.
I don't even mind that he gambles. Typically he's a smart gambler and sets limits for himself. I play in a similar manner, and we both tend to do it for fun rather than a silly "get-rich-quick" scheme.
I miss the following:
Obviously the above list isn't exhaustive, but uuuugh. I hate being without John for long stretches of time. Truthfully, it makes me much more appreciative of having him around when he's home, but uuuugh.
I really miss him when he's gone. Aside from the fact that I've gotta do everything he does and everything I do, I just miss having my best friend in the house to goof off with.
I always try to chalk it up to God's yearly reminder that I need to be more appreciative of the things he does for our family. I wonder if God gives John any yearly reminders like this. Ha!
Pictures like this make it look like I'm great at making friends. They make me look like I'm the life of the party... a social butterfly... the center of all that is awesome and fun.
Truth is, all of those things USED to describe me. I really was great at making friends. I was a TOTAL social butterfly and inserted myself into the center of everything. However, all of that changed when I became a mother. I slowly began to hang back from social situations. I'd devote all my time to Vincent and allow John to go to parties and social events on behalf of both of us.
However, over the last year or so, I've realized that I missed having a social life. I've missed hanging out with my friends and doing things outside the realm of "Mommy." I've also realized that my reluctance to build a social life outside my comfort zone was detrimental to Vincent. After all, if I didn't have other "Mommy friends" who brought around their kids to play with, he was just as socially ostracized as I was.
So when John and I signed him up for a special class for sensory children, I knew I was being given a special opportunity. There are currently 6 or 7 kids in the class, and they're all Vincent's age. The parents are my age, and they're all dealing with the same struggles John and I have endured in trying to diagnose and treat Vincent. They were PERFECT candidates for the Mommy-group I'd been looking for.
After a few weeks of small talk, I gauged interest. I asked, "Would any of you like to start a Mommy-group with me? We could support each other, offer tips and tricks, and meet up for special play dates given the close age and special needs of our kids."
All of them agreed.
So the next day, I put together a basic website for us to use as a sort of forum to share things like DIY sensory toys, favorite sensory places, and articles on issues like Autism and ADD. I called the center to ask for contact information for those parents I hadn't spoke with. I wanted to let them know we were doing this and to invite them to join in.
Their response made me sorta feel like St. Peter as he was "handed the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven."
Not only was the director in full support of what I was doing, she offered me full run of their facility on Sundays. She'd even staff a therapist (free of charge!) to help run things as the kids used the various therapy centers.
And then, she offered to host seminars on specific topics like Sensory Processing Disorder and even Dyslexia if we so desired it.
HOW CRAZY AWESOME IS THAT?!
Apparently they'd been looking to do this for a long time, but they didn't have anyone with the skill set to put a site together. Since I had already done it (and was already willing to run everything), they wanted to throw their support behind this little group to see it blossom.
She asked if I'd be open to allowing other parents from their center to join in. I said "Yes" but asked if she'd be kind enough to wait a few months until I got things going with my original group. I want to get a feel for how things will run with a smaller number of people, and then when I feel comfortable adding members, I'll happily expand to include others.
But can you imagine??? I was calling for an e-mail address and she gave me keys to the center. That's just... God is so good. So incredibly, awesomely good.
And I guess that's the reward you can expect when you step outside your comfort zone to multiply the love, folks. For so long, I've been content to stay within my cocooned little shell of a life, but I knew I needed to change not only for myself, but for Vince, and look... what a blessing it turned out to be!
So that's where I've been the last few days. I've been busily fleshing out a forum / website for this parent-group and trying to come up with a game plan for how everything is going to run.
For those of you who have experience doing this sort of thing, PLEASE message me! Also, for those of you who have good online resources for things like DIY sensory things (toys, games, etc), I'm all ears!
I get this is a really ridiculous question to ask on a Catholic Mom blog, but I figure there's gotta be someone out there who has some suggestions.
I'm 30 years old and I'm beginning to go gray. I'm not concerned with that so much as what it's doing to the cleanliness of my hair.
This picture (taken a while ago) shows a part in my hair. This is typically where the problem is most noticeable. So you can understand why it's beginning to annoy me given how prominent that particular area is.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my hair feels like wax in certain areas. I hadn't changed shampoo or conditioner, and I hadn't done anything different with my hair. Why, all of the sudden, was my hair acting funny?
I tried washing it several times, because I understand that every now and again gunk builds up and needs to be washed away with a good clarifying shampoo. However, nothing worked.
So I Googled the issue, and sure enough, as hair goes gray, the roots get coarse and absorb conditioner and oils a lot more than they used to. As a result, some areas get waxy. I tried doing a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar (as some folks suggested). Aside from making my hair smell like a salad, the progress was minimal. I still had waxy hair.
I tried Listerine. Truthfully, the Listerine did work much better, but it left my ends brittle (even WITH the conditioner).
I get that my hair is changing on account of age. But there's gotta be a better way of cleaning my hair.
Thoughts? I donate my hair in April, so please nothing drastic as I'd like my hair to be somewhat decent for the person who gets it next. Thanks!
I was goofing off in this picture, but whatever. Let's pretend for a moment it's a legitimate moment of distraught frustration.
Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
My sitter got a late start on account of snow and traffic which made me late for work. As I pulled into the parking lot, my tire hit a pothole and I got a flat. The biting cold nearly turned me into a popsicle, and then a UPS driver just about ran me over accidentally because he couldn't see me crossing the street (I had the light).
Work, itself, was a symphony of insanity. Folks needed things ordered yesterday, two closets needed to be completely reconfigured so as not to pose a fire hazard, database changes from angry callers were pouring in, and to top it off, my second babysitter (for the 2-5 shift) got the dates wrong and just no-showed, causing me to fly home (with the flat tire, PRAYING the entire way home that I made it) way earlier than I should have had to relieve Chrissy.
I haven't felt this frustrated and frazzled in a while. I was near tears on the way home because I just felt like everything - EVERYTHING - was out to get me. It was so frustrating.
I kept getting annoyed at God. "Why are you doing this? What in the world did I do to you??? C'mon with the onslaught of tests, already."
That sort of mindset. Things don't just fall apart like this. I started getting anxious that the day was going to get worse, and given that my husband was taking two planes, I was on edge.
When I finally did get home, Vincent was in the mood to play, play, play, so there was no rest for the frazzled. I had almost forgotten my friend, Jay, was coming by until he messaged me to let me know he was on his way.
Thank God for Jay! A big bright spot at the end of the symphony of dark.
We went out to Chik-Fil-A together. Vince loves Jay, so he was all sorts of excited to have his best buddy to romp around with. However, after he ate, Vince found a friend whom he went off to play with, content to forget about Jay and I while we caught up.
We hung out at Chik-Fil-A for about two hours, and in that time all the stress from the day seeped out of me. By the time Jay and I hugged goodbye, I was in a much, much happier place.
And I realized while talking to Jay that I should've kept my cool all along. Things always happen for a reason. I know that. I've witnessed it. However, I couldn't see the forest for the trees today because my own short-sightedness. God had His Hand in everything.
Firstly, had my sitter not been late, I would have been in work before my coworker had the chance to request I drive to Staples to pick up some supplies she hadn't realized she'd need. That means I would've been forced to walk around in the frigid air over several blocks twice over trying to lug the materials back from the closest Staples. Instead, I was able to pick everything up on my way into work.
As for the frigid air, itself, that was the prime reason I'm not road kill. Usually my hood is wrapped up over my face and I can't hear anything. Just before I crossed in front of the truck, a huge gust of wind blew my hood off my head. I then heard the revving of his engine and ran out of the road, just in time to stare him down with my best "What in God's Name were you THINKING?!" face.
God didn't want me to be squished, so He used the weather I hated to clear my ears. Fancy that!
The cherry on top was my sitter no-showing. You'd think that'd be the worst of all given I was freaking out about leaving work and trying to get home with a flat tire with no notice at all. However, had my sitter shown up on time, I might not have gotten home at all.
Because when I ran back to my car, I remembered about the flat tire. I drove it to the nearest gas station to see if they could do anything about it so I could safely get home. They couldn't, but the customer behind me just happened to have Fix-a-Flat in his car that he put in for me.
Had I not left the office on account of my sitter, I would have never bumped into this customer and I might still be waiting for AAA somewhere on the side of the road.
So really, why was I angrily calling God out for leaving me high and dry? If anything, I should be thanking my lucky stars He lined everything up for me. Life happens. We live in an imperfect world. He, however, can make sure we've got things ready for those moments we unexpectedly need some Divine Intervention.
And yes, I just considered Fix-a-Flat Divine Intervention.
So next time Life has you wanting to stab things with sporks, look around. God's got you covered.
I've had Vincent's 1st birthday invitation hanging up on my fridge since I made them a few years ago. I kept it up on the fridge because I just love seeing his pudgy little face.
Last week, a friend of mine asked if I knew of any good 1st year poems she could post for her son's first birthday (which is coming up next month). It reminded me that I'd written one for Vincent's invitations. I hadn't looked on the backside of his invite in such a long time that I'd forgotten I'd written it!
So I sent it to her and am posting it here for anyone interested in using it for their children. You'd have to tweak it for a girl, but you could make it work!
If you like the invites, I got them from VistaPrint. I seriously get all my printed materials from them. They're fast, cheap and always give great service. Plus, I love how easy it is to personalize items.
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