Advice for the Bride

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Last weekend we had a bridal shower for Teresa and I had this brainstorm that as we ate, all the wives could give her advice based on the length of their marriage. I called it Sage by Age.

We probably had 20 married women at the tables. Their advice was amazing and honest and funny.

The first wife was Rachel (5 years) and her advice was to argue naked and never go to bed angry.

The middle wife was Teresa’s mom Lorri (26 years) who said she does go to bed angry but maybe she’d try the naked thing and see if that helped.

The last was my mom, married 50 years in August.

I filmed her. I should have started earlier, but the whole thing was off the cuff and then it was so good that I was listening and learning and it didn’t occur to me to film until it was my mom’s turn.

But I got my mom and it was worth it for that alone.

Share with the brides and wives in your life!

Question of the Day

This post is thanks to the nasty comments on an article about a priest somewhere in this nation who excoriated the local Catholic schools on his Facebook page for allowing a gay couple to serve on the annual fundraising dinner committee.

You can imagine the rhetoric and vitriol that followed.

I was just about to leave the comments when I noticed that this one guy was being such an ass. I felt called by the Spirit to tell him to lay off.

His answer was that he was RIGHT. We’ll call him RIGHT Guy.

I have been known to have the RIGHT disease. As I’ve aged and decided I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’ve come to understand that it’s better to be right and humble, right-ish and/or right with a side dish of not really sure.

Because the minute anyone seems to think they are the only one with the RIGHT answers, things start to go poorly.

The Pharisees are an excellent of example of this. Jesus told the Apostles they must be careful of the Pharisees: “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matt 23:3-4). And indeed, the Pharisees were so busy being RIGHT that they crucified the Christ.

Whoops a daisy.

RIGHT Guy was so comfortable in his RIGHTness that he was running all around the comment section calling people idiots and damning them to Hell. Not to say there weren’t other RIGHT folks firing back. There was a lot of cherry-picked Scripture.

RIGHT Guy kept insisting that it was our job as faithful Christians to point out sin and keep pointing it out until the sinners finally realize how RIGHT we are and give us an award for being RIGHT everyone was worthy of their salvation. He called himself a defender of the faith.

It’s interesting that he thinks banging others on the head with his RIGHTness is defending the faith of Jesus, but maybe he’s reached a place in his faith I haven’t gotten to yet. Benefit of the doubt.

That’s still only half the job Jesus gave us. Love him faithfully and obediently.

But also—as in both/and, not either/or—love others by bringing them to him.

So I asked RIGHT Guy what he’d done that day to bring others to Jesus.

He exited the conversation.

I felt triumphant for a second because I’m human, y’all. Then my Catholic guilt kicked in and I asked myself the same question.

What have a I done today to bring others to Jesus?

That’s a good question, isn’t it?

All the Devils are Here

The idea of Satan used to be unpalatable to me.

He felt mythological, fairy tale-ish. A way to scare children.

But that was when I wasn’t such a good listener.

Since I have tried to let God be the Alpha Dog in my life, the existence of dynamic evil is something I can’t ignore. At the risk of sounding all Jonathan Edwards, I need to share this story.

I have a colleague who has been a successful realtor for 16 years. The last few months have been dry, which is normal for the market—buyers and sellers tend to hibernate for the winter—but in a smaller town with 1200 agents, those months can be long and dark and start to feel like there will never be customers again.

Like any good veteran agent, in the meantime, she has taken advantage of the classes our brokerage offers on marketing and social media and farming and what not. She could probably teach the classes, but she knows that there is always something new to learn.

So she picked a farming strategy for her favorite neighborhood and sent a letter out, introducing herself and talking about the market. Her letter was light and kind and full of experience, because that’s the kind of agent she is.

She sent out 500 letters.

This week she got one back.

It came from a man named Clint in Nevada. By his perfect cursive, I will guess he is in his 70s or 80s and at some point in his elementary years, was taught by the good sisters at a Catholic school.

I can tell you though, the only thing he learned from those sisters was handwriting.

Clint took it upon himself to copy her letter, correct it like he knew what he was talking about, and send it back to her with this charming note at the bottom:

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It crushed her.

“I have great faith”, she told me in tears, “and I have prayed and prayed and asked God if this is what I should be doing and promised to follow His plan. Every time I think I’m going to do something else, I feel that I should stick with it. And then this happens. What kind of a person does this?”

The fact that her letter fell into the hands of a nasty old man in Nevada who was so bent on hurting someone that he copied the letter, corrected it and mailed it back to her in Oregon says that this is more than coincidence.

For one hard, tear-filled hour this morning, she was filled with doubt and hurt. Those feelings tried to teach her a lesson about the world, that people are mean and selfish, and she should pack it up and go home because the world is a nasty place. That also is not coincidence. That is what Clint meant her to feel.

Satan works in big ways, like despots and starving babies and chemical weapons.

But he also works all the time to steal the joy, faith and love right out of our hearts, and he uses people like Clint to do it.

Luckily, there is a large contingent of faithful women at our brokerage and one by one, after hearing the story, we said the same thing to her: “That letter is Satan trying to derail you. Don’t let him.”

She didn’t.

She made the changes to her letter that Clint suggested.

Then she copied that sucker and sent out 100 more letters.

 

 

 

What If Judas Had Lived?

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Three weeks ago, I did a walk through Holy Week for the Sunday School kids.

In order to get it right, I had to sit down with all four Gospels next to each other. I’ve never looked at the Passion that way before. Having all four together helped me see some things I didn’t remember.

For instance, the naked dude in Mark.

But also, how in Luke 22, it says “Satan entered Judas”.

It was a Huh moment for me. I contemplated that—to be fair—Satan was going to be stronger than Judas since this was before Jesus died for our sins so…what is Judas’ culpability in the betrayal of Jesus?

Then I decided it was above my spiritual paygrade and moved on.

Until Easter Sunday when I sat down to watch Jesus Christ Superstar.

We don’t know much about Judas, other then he committed the nastiest betrayal of all time. We don’t know why he did it, other than those words from Luke. We can, and do, speculate that when the Gospels talk of an Apostle questioning Jesus especially in terms of money, acts of service and inclusion of Gentiles, that perhaps this is Judas beginning to feel that Jesus was not what he had said he was.

(See what I did there?)

This is Superstar’s interpretation for sure. Judas sings:

Every time I look at you I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did get so out of hand
You’d have managed better if you’d had it planned –

One thing we absolutely know about Judas?  He was human and let his fear outweigh his faith.  I like the tidy Superstar presentation of Judas’ fears driving his disillusionment because I can relate to that. I’ve said before that given my personality, it would have been hard for me to follow Jesus in his day. Jesus’ ministry was on a “need to know” basis and I’m more a “know, then go” kind of gal. I think I would have been exhausted by all the mystery.

The question though is this: Would I have been converted by the Resurrection?

The answer—and I know this with every fiber of my heart—is yes.

Because Jesus kept his word. And that would have been enough for me to let go of what I didn’t understand, lay down my fears and never look back.

So I wonder—what would have happened if Judas had lived? Would his remorse have become conversion?

The greater point of course is this—there was a plan, the greatest plan of all. It had to play out and needed the benefit of hindsight before it made sense, but I think we can all agree the wait was worth it.

Judas couldn’t wait and missed it all. Maybe beyond the vilification of 2000 years—Dante was especially tough on the guy—that’s the real lesson we can learn from Judas.

 

Yeah, but why is he yelling?

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Most of the protesters drove by in cars.

But this guy stood on our side of the street. Since we were walking on the sidewalk, he was standing in the bushes, inches from the marchers.

“WE NEED OUR GUNS” he yelled. “WE AREN’T SAFE HERE.”

Then, strangely “IF YOU DON’T LIKE GUNS, GO TO MEXICO.”

A grandmother in front of us stopped. She spoke softly: “We don’t mind guns. I have guns.”

“THEN WHY ARE YOU MARCHING?” he yelled in her face.

“Because I don’t think teachers should carry guns.”

“YEAH, YEAH” he yelled, “TEACHERS NEEDS GUNS. GUNS TO KEEP THE KIDS SAFE. MORE GUNS!”

Gabriel turned around and looked at me with a raised eyebrow and a laugh. “Mom, what the HECK is that guy talking about?”

Sweet bud. I’m glad you think it’s laughable. It was odd and laughable to me too. But I was proud of you, and your sister, who asked me why he was yelling. I told her that he disagreed and that he gets to disagree. She said “Yeah, but why is he yelling?”

I think that’s what makes this pack of kids so threatening to the “pray, pay and obey” crowd. They have demonstrated remarkable ability in a couple key ways: 1. They are inherently geared toward consensus  2. They tolerate disagreement and 3. They aren’t scared. They don’t give a rat’s behind for who’s against them. They care about who is with them.

This makes their momentum hard to control and predict. They threaten the status quo because they show what the status quo could be. Should be.

The grown-ups who make their money in destruction instead of building won’t be able to stop themselves from trying to make these kids get in line.

It’s already started, with the photoshopped picture of Emma Gonzalez tearing up the Constitution. They were willing to take a 17 year old trauma survivor and make her a villain.

And Rick Santorum? I can’t even. Marie Antoinette. He was Marie Antoinette, times about a hundred.

But it didn’t matter. The kids were not distracted.

The kids laughed. Then they got back to work.

This is why I think they are the answer and not just for the gun control problem. They are the answer to the nastiness, the kitchen sink fighting that has become the norm in our national discourse. They remember the lesson that we, their parents, taught them when they were little and scared of the dark:

The monster under the bed lives on fear and darkness.

Don’t feed the monster.

Average Mom

My friend Tonya posted this on her Facebook page. I paid close attention because she doesn’t usually say this much. It’s pretty phenomenal, so I asked if I could share it here. 

My children all unanimously decided I was “an average mom”. We were all having a deep and insightful conversation over dinner last night, and at one point in the dialoguing, I was coined this term….”average”.
Now….let it be known that I’m extremely sensitive and take most direct and potentially opinionated comments towards me personally. However? I found myself laughing inside and out, that my children were all on the same page regarding this fact!

They, in true insightful form, had reason to back their theories! I listened and opened my mind as best I could. I was captivated at their strong and researched hypothesis….case in point…I am a “mom”, I am a “hairdresser” and “photographer” and I am, at times, a homemaker that doesn’t bake.

I am comfortable submitting to my children’s opinions and theories. I am comfortable seeking their opinions and their perspectives and I am VERY comfortable confiding in them and trusting them, because they are “beyond average” and have shown me though example and concrete evidence, that they are worthy.

After we all went to bed…I pondered this and realized? I’m glad that I am average in their eyes. In my humble opinion, that moniker makes me “approachable”, “attainable” and “real”, and, let’s be honest, it makes me human to them. All of a sudden, I felt a little “average” tinge of victory as a mom!

I want to enable them with all the artillery they need to achieve their dreams. I want to applaud and encourage their journeys. I want to see their successes and failures shape them into the best versions of themselves. I want to empower their unique gifts and qualities and help illuminate to the world all they have to offer. I want to take the brunt for them and elevate my 3 to the heights they are meant for. And the person best for this job? Is their “average” mom! Because? Sometimes? It takes a mediocre type of thinking to see the magic and beauty within others.

See?

We are all instrumental in the big picture…we all play a role and we all bring something unique and special to the table. Whether we are “average” or “above average” or “below average”….(whatever those guidelines mean???) We all have something to offer. Let’s honor “us” and support others, and let us begin to look beyond…for we all matter and we all have something to say; average or not! Thank you to my beautiful children for the insight I crave and need. NO better three I can think of, that have this ability to help me witness these truths within myself. I wish for you all great things, and in “great”, I MAY mean average;) Because you know what??? I may know a thing or two about what I’m talking about! ❤️

(Average mom)
T~

Spiritual Gifts

Every time someone hands me a personality test, they laugh. I’ve gotten used to this and I understand it.

My personality is not a light hidden under a bushel. It shines like a beacon in the night and speaks with a voice loud and clear.

Last week, I took a Spiritual Gifts test for a retreat team I’ve joined.

At least this time, the nice lady who gave us the test didn’t laugh at me until she gave me the results.

On a scale of 1 (Almost always true) to 4 (No desire towards it), and with five questions for each gift—this means the lowest score (and strongest affinity) would be a 5 and the highest score (and weakest affinity) would be a 20—I scored a 5 on Administration.

Also, a 6 on Faith and 7s on Discernment, Hospitality, Leadership, Service, Teaching and Wisdom.

I’M NOT A MARTHA. YOU’RE A MARTHA.

Ok, I’m a Martha.

And really, I don’t want to be a missionary, healer, evangelist or believer in miracles. I want to teach the catechism, say the prayers, honor the traditions and keep the calendar. I want to organize gatherings where missionaries and healers and miracle believers and evangelists come share their stories because we need that. All of us need that. We need to listen to those with the gifts.

And I need to build the agenda for that meeting, perfectly scheduled down to the last snack break.

I can see what needs to happen and how. I can make that vision come true. I can find and convince the right people to show up.

I may not move the mountain. But I know who can.

I used to think that the payoff for these gifts was a job well done, mostly because my OCD had yet to be diagnosed and treated.

Just like Martha, I had to learn: my gifts are all front-loading. Which means, if I’ve done it right, I get to be present for the very thing I built. I get to see the fruits. It only works if I let myself be done. I can’t try to control what I have wrought.

If I’m still trying to administer, lead, serve and teach unto the very last moment, I miss it.

But when I trust my gifts and my boundaries, then I see this little boy, waiting on God to call.

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I see 70 kids singing joyfully at the end of Mass. A 17 year old boy standing in tearful awe of a famous painting in the Louvre. My daughter and her friends dancing in the sunlight in their First Communion dresses. Teenagers giving up their first week of summer sleeping-in to work at church. A young woman we have loved and cherished finding the man God meant her to find and planning a life with him.

So now that’s what I do. I plan and lead and serve and administer and then I send it out into the world and watch what happens next.

I can’t share the test I took on the blog because someone paid for the rights to use it. But if you search “20 Spiritual gifts test” you’ll find some iteration of what I took.