Saturday, December 19, 2020

#lovelikeSha

Sunday will mark one year since a friend I can only describe as effervescent left us.  I can hardly believe it's been that long.  On the one hand, it feels like this time last year was yesterday yet in other ways it feels as if it was a lifetime ago.


No one will ever replace Sha.  No one could.  She was a once in a lifetime type of friend who was not afraid to sit with you and walk with you during hard times.  I have no doubt she would have reached out in March and April as we accompanied Dad during his final days.  I imagine what she would have said or done at this time eight months ago.  I sometimes wonder what she would say if she knew of the latest professional developments of working out of two grants and working on three separate book/chapter deals at the moment.  I can almost hear her make a fuss over Charlotte Annie and "ooo and ahh" over her dancing as Charlotte would show off her latest dance moves during a video chat.  Heck, she would probably even start dancing on her end of the call to go along with Charlotte's moves.  ;)

 

When I think back to the last time Charlotte actually did video chat with Sha, it was when she chose her to call when she wanted to tell someone she was going potty.  Sha completely rolled with it and was nonplussed when she answered the video chat to find a three year old sitting on the potty.  She cheered and made Charlotte grin from ear to ear encouraging her to keep up the good work.  The last time I had a video chat with Sha was when some of the students from Women's Ministry were sitting around my dining room table discussing the virtue of hope and the value of gracefully bearing suffering.  We all immediately thought of Sha as we had all been in Austria together the previous semester.  On a whim, I picked up the phone and on the spot called Sha.  Propped up in a hospital bed, she smiled into the phone and greeted each student at the table, including a surprise visitor from Texas.  We prayed over Sha via the video chat, some tears fell, and I, in advisor mode, said I would make plans to call Sha again very soon as I realized I needed to wrap up our call to stay on time for our Women's Ministry Book Study.  That call and last encounter took place in late October which wound up being less than two months than 12/20/19. 


It's been one year and 11 days since I received a message from Sha.  The last two messages I sent her from California were not viewed by her but I have some small measure of comfort that the last message she saw from me during her last three days was letting her know she was being prayed for in a place she knew well. 

 




As I recently scrolled through the memories and What's App conversations with Sha as I mourn, I'm still amazed at her selflessness even amidst the suffering as is evident by her willingness to not shut off from the world or to encourage me to open up and talk with her when she could tell I wasn't myself.  Some of Sha's last messages to me involved her stepping out of her own despair and entering into mine.  I mean, who does that?!  I remember feeling so humbled that she cared enough to care about my problems when she had much bigger problems than I.  

 

I strive to be the type of friend Sha was.  She had a way of making you feel like you were the only one in the room even when sitting in a bustling coffeehouse.  She had a way of always teaching through her actions/words/ways of living such as how to politely send a drink back even when the bartender is being rude and intimidating (ahem).  Her honesty, vulnerability, and realness still resonate with me nearly two years after I first heard some of her testimony and stories and had the blessed opportunity to live in a centuries-old monastery at the foothill of the Alps.  Sha once joked that even though I was only there for one semester that I would always be part of the "fam". So, tonight I invoke the intercession of the Holy Family as I think of Sha and her family. 



Please keep Sha's family and loved ones in your prayers.  


You will never be forgotten, Sha, and may we all strive to #lovelikeSha. 


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I have been training all my life for this.. ;)

Today I received an email that made Adam and me laugh and laugh and laugh.  It's not often I'm asked to say more things.  Usually, it's the opposite as co-authors or editors have asked me to trim information or to meet shorter page requirements.  In conversations with Adam, he has been known to say I need to get to the point and to stop rambling and going on and on and on...kind of like I'm doing right now.  ;)

So why the belly aching laughter a moment ago?  Well, I received this message from an editor:


I was just preparing my notes for the editorial board and I noticed that you’ve estimated the book to be about 68 pages. Is that correct? We typically require that our books be at least 100 pages (or about 60, 000 words). I know it would be asking a lot, but do you think it would be possible to increase the page count a bit? I am so excited about your work and I think it will make such a fabulous book. It seems as though there is a lot to be said on the topic so I am hopeful there is a possibility of increasing the page count a bit. Please let me know your thoughts. I wouldn’t need to see those pages now. I would just need to be able to tell the board that plans are in the works to increase the length. And of course I would give you additional time to craft the text.

Wait, you're saying you want me to keep talking?  

You want me to share more on something I am so passionate about and on fire for - - to dive deeper into the themes of my research and share more information?

Why, yes, I would be honored!!  It's like I've been training all my life for this moment to be able to speak and share freely from my heart.  This email brought forth so much joy and it was fun to see my husband smile as I read the email aloud to him and say, "You've never had a problem with adding words!"  This latest project has really truly been such a joy for me to dive into and the chance to be able to elaborate on it and possibly wind up with a book in my hands that contains the information in one place is so exciting!  

I also love that I received this inspiring uplifting positive note on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception no less!  *See below for a quick video on this feast day we, as Catholics, celebrate each December.  


Mary, who was without sin and is the ultimate role model for women and a mother I strive to emulate (especially as a fellow mother of one physical child), has been a HUGE source of inspiration for me all my life.  

I look at Mary differently now that I'm a mother and will never forget a dear friend telling me in the hospital shortly after Charlotte was born that I'm like Our Lady for she, too, had one child.  I'll never forget that moment (thank you, Marita) amidst the despair and grieving in Charlotte's first few days outside the womb.  

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I saw this reflection from one of the creators of the mass journal I use and really loved pondering on this piece:

Today on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we see such a stark contrast between Eve in the first reading and Mary in the Gospel. We can clearly see why some call Mary the “New Eve.” In the first reading, God looks for Eve, but due to her disobedience, she now realizes that she is naked. She is ashamed and hides herself from the Lord.
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Every time I hear these scriptures I am reminded of something I heard several years ago. The root of all sin is summed up in one word: fear. Though fear itself is not inherently sinful, we do sin in different ways out of fear of many things: fear of rejection; fear of what people think of us; fear of never being happy or successful; fear that what we have is not enough; fear that God will not provide.
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// Kathryn Doré in today’s reflection πŸ’™
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This study that will be featured in the book (if this proposal is accepted) is all about mothering and doing it in tough circumstances.  Mary knew better than anyone how to do this and showed humanity how to do it with grace, humility, and a total spirit of surrender.  I'm so honored to hopefully be able to share the stories of other mothers and to hopefully highlight hope and perhaps impart some peace amidst these turbulent times through my work and writing.  Engaging in this study required me to put my own fears aside, to look my own insecurities square in the face, and to lean in more fully knowing that I'm doing what God has put on my heart to do as I seek to surrender bit by bit to a different dream/version of a prior dream. 

Prayers for a successful proposal later this week, my friends, and that I may be able to pursue this book idea!  


Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. 

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. 

Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  Amen 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Balancing more than One Love

At the end of an exceptionally busy semester, I have been mulling over this : how do we find professional/personal balance? 


Granted...the times and circumstances we live in at the moment are not the norm but the reality is multi-tasking has always been the norm in my world and that of other working mothers I know. 


Maybe I am just thinking so much about this because my students had to read an article about fathers of children with intellectual disabilities and whether or not the fathers practiced mindful parenting. The study in the article is making me think of how Charlotte is being affected by all the constant juggling and balancing. 


Yet, I know that in addition to being her Mom, my vocation is to teach, research, and serve. I read earlier today a comment that someone shared saying women need to stop saying their jobs are their callings and that the jobs are just that....jobs. 


I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that concept since I have always loved what I do and derive great joy and satisfaction from working with children, colleagues, and strangers alike. I think I like the Opus Dei view of what work is better. I have always seen my work as my calling. I think I like looking at it from the lens of how God uses the gifts He has given,the way I attempt to use the gift of time, and the drive instilled within me to work  within my vocation in addition to how I put those same things to use in the home as wife and mother instead of trying to be detached and placing the job way over there. So I will continue to try to be mindful both as Wife/Mommy and as Teacher as I pursue two loves...while I also count down the days to break. πŸ˜‰

Monday, November 2, 2020

All Souls' Day

Have you ever had one of those days where things are getting crossed off the list and you feel like you have the time to get some of the items done?  That was what it was like for me today.  

Perhaps it was due to the extra hour we gained last night or maybe it was because I was able to somewhat sleep in this morning.  Or maybe I was trying to subconsciously keep busy from fully reflecting on what the next day would bring. For whatever reason, I managed to get some laundry done, clean a little, play with Charlotte, respond to student emails, took a walk with Charlotte, did some grading, submitted some proposals, baked a carrot cake with sour cream frosting (SO yummy!), and capped it off with enjoying a nice All Saints Day Dinner with Adam and his parents.  

Then, after Charlotte's bath, I settled in for some last minute prep for the new week ahead...as I was about to wrap up the evening work, I remembered that my Google Drive was nearly out of space so I began going through files and pictures and tried to remove the larger files as I've been doing here and there over the last several days in efforts to retrieve some of the stored space.  I was about ready to stop for the night when I all of a sudden stumbled upon a photo of Dad.  It was one I had taken the day before he passed and it stopped me in my tracks.  His face is etched into my mind and I "see" him constantly through thinking of him in what feels like every moment of the day.  I had been thinking of him a lot last night as I submitted a proposal I'm extra excited for and wished I could see the look on his face or hear what he would say as I would have shared the news with him over this latest venture.  In spite of all that thinking and remembering of him...I was still caught off guard seeing the last image of him I had taken when he was still with us on my screen just now.

How fitting this happened after midnight as we are now in the early morning hours of Monday, November 2nd.  We are entering the seventh month of Dad not physically being here with us.  How is that even possible?  Last night, when we were doing our nighttime prayers, Charlotte prayed, "I want to pray for Pappy.  He's all better now, Mommy, but he needs to stay in Heaven for a little while longer.  I know you cry and sometimes you don't cry but it's alright, Mommy.  I also need to pray for Spirit and for Peppa Pig, Mommy."  πŸ’•  When she says/prays things like that, it makes me wonder if she is still expecting him to come back as I sometimes feel when I forget.  There have been so many times, I think, "Oh, I wonder what Dad will say when..." or I go to text him and it's not until I'm reaching for the phone before I remember.  Such a strange mix of emotions and it feels as if so much time has gone by yet none at all.  Yet today is All Souls' Day...a day that I have been thinking of in a different way this year ever since losing Sha in December then Dad in April.  They are both never far from my thoughts so I don't really need a day to especially remember them but there is comfort in thinking of many others praying for so many who have passed in a special way on 11/02 as is customary in our faith*.  

This one's for you, Dad & Sha.  Love you both & miss you.  I hope you guys are enjoying one another's company and basking in the joy.

In honor of All Souls Day, please join me in this prayer.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
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*Per Wikipedia, All Souls' Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died, which is observed by Catholics and other Christian denominations annually on November 2nd.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Treats all around tonight!

 Charlotte is still very much a Daddy's girl but she was on fire tonight with sweetness for me....maybe it's from all the sugar. 🍭🍬🍫 πŸ™ƒ







 "Mommy, when I grow up, can I wear your dresses and be like you?" 



 "My Mommy let me wear her makeup so I could be a mermaid!" 




"Look! I got some candy for you, too. It's your favorite! I will share with you when we get home, okay?" 





At one point when trick or treating tonight, Charlotte exclaimed, "This is the best day ever, Mommy. " "Really?! What made it that way?" I asked thinking she would say because of the candy, or playing, or becoming a mermaid at the last minute...



Her response was shared with me as she leaned in to my arms, locked eyes with mine, and simply said..."You." πŸ₯°πŸ˜­

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Cup of J.O.Y.!

 At the start of the semester, I shared this post on my social media:

I posted this in a local group I am in but thought I would share here, too. 😊☕
I wanted to share something that’s been on my heart this past summer. Some of you have had the yummy coffee that my hubby and I enjoy and others have inquired about it as of late. Sooo, I wanted to offer my services to each of you through “Cup of JOY!” The idea behind this is kind of like Door Dash where I would bring coffee to you for contactless delivery (a la Coffee Dash..haha!). When you place your order, you would let me know your preferences of the following options:
1) Espresso, Americano, Latte, or Cappucino
2) Iced or Hot (depending on how far you live from me, you might need to microwave the coffee to become hot again or put more ice cubes in it)
3) Strength of coffee: mild, medium, or strong
4) Which flavor or combo of flavor? These vary…right now we have Chocolate Macadamia Nut, CrΓ¨me de Banana, Amaretto, or CrΓ¨me Caramel
My hubby and I are *not* baristas, coffee roasters, or even coffee connoisseurs…we just missed the coffee we enjoyed while in Austria so much that we ordered an Italian coffee machine two days upon our return to the US and have been sharing the coffee love since. πŸ˜‰ We use Lavazza coffee beans, purified water, & Torani coffee syrups.
I am not sure why this is on my heart as I return back to school but I’m following this prompt and posting anyway! I am usually away from campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays so would most likely be available to make deliveries on those days. πŸ˜‰ It’s a pleasure serving a cup of yumminess to our friends hence the idea behind “Cup of JOY!” at $2 per cup. Here is something I wrote eight years ago about an acronym for JOY that I created (https://pagirlmeg.blogspot.com/2012/09/joy.html). I would love to spread this message of JOY amidst COVID-19 and uncertainties we are all facing at the moment through this fun little side coffee delivery service. My prayer for us all is to, "Help to make all of us a channel of Jesus' peace and to J.O.Y. = Just Open Yourself to trust in Jesus as the Holy Family has shown us...one coffee sip at a time!" ♥
































Saturday, August 29, 2020

Sparkling Goodness


Lately, four year old Charlotte has been putting the word, good, in front of words.

"I want that yummy good egg to eat, Mommy."

"Can you give me that good toy over there?"

"Hershey is a good puppy."

"I had a good sleep!"

"Dusty is eating the good doggie food."

"Look at this!  I painted using the yellow, the good green, and fuschia!  Do you like it?"


As we listen to her commentary of her day or hear her explanations of what the toys are doing in mid-play, her speech is sprinkled with the word, good, in sometimes appropriate places but more often seemingly random places.  The most prominent example of this occurred a few weeks ago when driving her to her morning summer program at the local activity center.  "Mommy, I have a good heart!" she proudly exclaimed from the back seat.  My mother, who was in the front passenger seat next to me, and I glanced at each other in surprise and said, "Why, yes, yes, you do!"  Charlotte then went on to say, "If it's a good heart, is it sparkly?  Mommy, do I have a good sparkly heart?"  I have no idea what prompted that line of thought in her but it was so sweet and heartwarming!  Mom and I assured Charlotte her heart was so good, beautiful, and sparkly as she happily hopped into the activity center.  I've been thinking on the idea of something tucked away out of sight, like our hearts, in the darkest interior parts of our bodies...yet radiating light and sparkling goodness as Charlotte imagined and spoke of from the back seat.  You know how a prism is made up of hard edges, jagged even, and yet the light gets in there and you see a tiny rainbow if the light hits it right?  The light bends and refracts as it sneaks into broken pieces and sharp turns.  The white light coming into the prism, is in a sense, breaking up into the colors that make up the white light and burst forward shining the light outward - at least that is what I think I remember from elementary science classes. 

These are the thoughts that have been running through my mind as I think about what Charlotte said about having a good sparkly heart a few weeks ago.  God is the white light pouring into each of us.  He has loved us into being and has a purpose for each of us.  Dirt may get thrown onto us or we may feel like were mired in mud.  Yet, with God's grace, the brightness shines through and fights its way through the cracks and broken pieces that meld us together.  Would God not want us to use the gifts He has given us to the best of our ability?  Cracks and all?  Then when we offer them back to Him, He can see through the blood, sweat, and tears, our hard efforts and view them as good and sparkly even if others may only see the dust and grime on the surface.


I thought Charlotte had forgotten that statement about the good sparkly heart but she said it this morning!  This time, I said it after we had recorded a video for some of my students.  I said, "Nice work, Charlotte!" after we stopped recording?  She asked, "Was it good and sparkling?"

What beautiful imagery to think of doing our work in a way that is good and sparkling!!  The other night, Adam and I were talking.  I said something to the effect of, "Well, you know it's the two of them and all six of the children."  Charlotte chimed in and said, "We have just one children here!", with a huge smile on her face.  I looked over at Adam then back and Charlotte and said, "Why, yes, you're right!".  She said, "Well, actually there are five of us.  Hershey, Dusty, Daddy, you, and me!"  The joy radiating from her face just sparkled.  You should have seen it.  

I heard the below song earlier this week when making a coffee run.  What an amazing example of taking something that could be viewed as sad or bad to good and sparkling through this beautiful creative art taken from a small girl and her conversation with her Mama who wrote a song about it.    



Well, I can't let go of watercolor memories you made me - - and wonder how you could love something else more - -  last of my kind, you'll always be my only child!  <3  "That's a beautiful song you have there, Mama!" according to four year old Charlotte.  Have a listen for yourself.