Sacred Silence

Silence is something I don’t get a lot of around here.  I have to laugh when people call my house and ask if we are having a party.  My house is just loud.  Combine a bunch of kids, small living space and tile floor and you have the recipe for a constant clamor.  So last night, when I had the opportunity to take my son to confession without little kids in tow, I jumped at it.

My husband and I had already been to confession with the little kids earlier in the day, but one son wasn’t around.  Jay offered to put the little crew to bed while I took Ben and spent some time in church alone.  Double bonus!  I didn’t even have to take the baby!

We arrived a few minutes early, but there was already a long line for the one priest.  “Perfect!” I thought.  “More time for me to pray!”  Ben got in line and I sat down in the front row, as close to the tabernacle as I could get and began to pray a rosary.

I can’t tell you how long it has been since I have been in a church without one or more children under three with me.  I breathed deeply the scent of the incense that has soaked into the brick walls.  I read the meditation for the first mystery and marveled that I only had to read it once to understand it.  More deep breaths and I prayed the mystery.

Then it happened.

A family came in.  Three adults and one – probably 2 year old – girl sat in the pew just behind me.  The three adults prayed and made very little effort to contain the antics of the 2 year old.  And I, the very person who travels along with my own circus, was annoyed.  May God forgive me, I was annoyed.

I justified it by the fact that I do at least attempt to control my children in church.  They were making no effort at all.  But maybe they had a very sick relative or something and really needed to pray for them.  I tried to come up with a situation that would make me not feel annoyed, I did.

I read the second meditation several times before I understood what it was about.  “Really, God? I’m trying here.  I get away from my own kids and you bring another one by to yank my attention away?”

And I knew, I just knew that if I dared to turn around and even look their direction that my own kids would be nightmares at mass for the rest of my life.  You can call that superstition if you want but I had a good chance of being right either way.  So I did my best to pray (it was hard) and took it as a lesson on what my own kids do to others who are trying to pray.

The family left after I prayed two more mysteries, and I finished my rosary in peace, a little chastened about children in church, and a little more humble about my own precious little people whose antics, dare I say, I sometimes consider cute.

I have always been one to fight for my children’s right to be with me in church, and I work with them carefully from day one to teach them how to behave.  I scoff at the old biddies who would dare to give me and my brood a dirty look for making a little noise.  And while I haven’t changed that position, I have seen more clearly the need to properly train my children for good behavior in church – not only in mass, but in other quiet times in the building as well.  I have been to the other side, just desiring some quiet prayer, and have seen that it can be frustrating.

7 Quick Takes

This is my first 7 Quick Takes.  I feel like one of those people on the radio who feel the need to start out with, “Longtime listener, first time caller…” and I guess that is actually what I am doing.

Diving in:

1. Bible Funnies

I was reading John 1 this week and came across a passage that made me laugh out loud.  It is a long chapter, and I was reading it as a prelude to a devotional that my moms group is doing this summer.  So I was just kind of going through it quickly.  I’ve read it all before and felt pretty familiar with it.  But then I got to verse 45 (and following):

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

I can almost hear Jesus saying, “Really, you were impressed by THAT?  Oh man, just WAIT and see what I have in store for you!”  And maybe even thinking to himself, “This guy is going to be easy!”  Maybe I was just getting punchy at the time, but I laughed anyway.  I just think that Jesus must have enjoyed at least a little bit when people were really impressed. (Provided, of course, that they eventually got the true point of His wonders and miracles.)

2. Watership Down

This Summer I am reading Watership Down for the first time.  I have always loved the movie, and wanted to read the book, so here I am, 2/3rd of the way through.  I watched the movie again, during this reading. Um, I think I have had my fill of the movie.  But I am loving the book, and one of the things that I love about it is that Hazel is so perfectly my husband.  He is a faithful leader, not by brute force but by sheer will to do the right thing and responsibility for those around him.  It has made me love both the story and my husband even more.

My kids loved the movie, but seeing my disgust at it are clamoring to have me read them the book next.  But considering we have already spent 2 months and are not even halfway through Black Beauty, we’ll see if we can tackle Watership.  I’m afraid I don’t have the same follow through for reading books aloud as I used to.

3. McDonalds

I have a confession to make.

I love McDonalds.
No matter how many food documentaries I watch or books about nutrition I read, (and I do read a lot of them!) I still love McDonalds.  Their food make be fake and poison for my body, but it sure is yummy.  And the Sweet Tea… ooooohh!  I realize it is lightly tea flavored sugar water.  Really, I do.  But it is so good.  And they have the best playlands too.

4. Yawn

My schedule is so messed up due to summer.  I have been staying up at least 3 hours past my school year bed time and it is not a pretty picture when I need to get up in the morning.  It is so nice not to have to be out the door with six kids at 7am, but I still have 3 kids who get up at the crack of dawn.  And I really am enjoying my time at night, even if I am just watching reruns while folding laundry.  Right now it just means that I don’t have to jump straight from bed to a shower and breakfast.  Soon though.  Just a couple more weeks and we will be back to the school year in earnest and I need to get my body to start switching back.  Which should I start first – going to bed earlier or getting up earllier?

5. The Plan

As a mom, I have tried so many different plans for getting my house in order: Managers of Their Homes, Flylady, Motivated Moms, and other random plans found in magazine articles.  Somehow though, none of the plans work for me.  Could it be my eight kids making things harder?  Maybe.  But for me to follow an exterior plan like that, I find I would be working 14 hours a day to keep my house clean.  The end result is only a little cleaner than if I’m not doing all that and stressing.  So right now it boils down to just needing to do whatever needs to be done next.  In my effort to bring my kitchen up a step though, I am filling the sink with soapy water as I make my breakfast.  The dishes don’t usually get washed until the water is fully cold, but at least they have been soaking for a while.  And then they usually get done before dinner.  Now if I could just get the dinner dishes done before breakfast…

6. Of Raptors and Ringwraiths

My 8 month old has found her voice.  She has always been a loud crier, even as a newborn she could cry loud enough to be heard across the house without a baby monitor.  But her cry has lately taken a turn for the worse.  She is most likely to use it immediately upon waking, on being put down, when we try to give her solids in the high chair (food on the floor is completely fair game), when the wind changes, when the lights are turned off, when the lights are turned on, when there is air in the room… you get the idea.  There is no “fuss” setting on this child.  She goes straight from happy as a clam to Oh My the World is ENDING!  I have heard a LOT of crying in my time.  She is a Zero-to-sixty crier.  One moment she is calm, the next moment she belts out this blood curdling, ear piercing, Oh-God-make-it-stop wail.  Her cry sounds a lot like a home fire alarm, alternated with Ringwraith screeching, she throws in the raptor sounds just to keep things interesting.


7.  Happy Anniversary to Us!

This past week we celebrated out 20th wedding anniversary.  We got married so young, but still that was 20 years ago.  It’s hard to believe I have been doing anything for 20 years.  But parenting and being married are now in that category.  When I look back at how clueless we were when we started out, I can tell you that it is absolutely by the Grace of God that we have made it this far and have the marriage we have today.  We have stumbled along, making many mistakes along the way, and mostly loving the whole process.  I would never have dared to hope to have a husband as amazing as Jay is.  But here we are, 20 years later.  I hope the next 20 years is as great!  (Although I would certainly accept a 20 years with less drama, I’m not holding my breath for it.)

So there you have it, a relatively disjointed 7 Quick takes.  Maybe next week I can pull it together a little more.  My whole goal this week was to get my blog writing juices flowing again, so I can get this blog up off the ground and work a little harder on my Family Blog as well.  Now, go check out the originator of 7 quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Brushing Teeth

Yesterday evening at bedtime for the little ones, I was preparing to brush my two year old’s teeth.  She insisted repeatedly that she be able to do it first – as two year olds are so likely to do.  “I will do it myfelf!” is a popular refrain around here these days.  But our rule is that a grown up needs to brush the teeth first with toothpaste and then they can finish on their own with whatever suds are left.

So she stood there on her stool in front of the sink, looking up at me defiantly.  I fully admit I wasn’t feeling really into bedtime last night, and I had a lot on my mind.  But instead of causing me to be short tempered as it usually would, I was just wandering around in my own thoughts and it brought about a moment of good parenting completely by accident.  I stood in front of her with one hand on top of her head and one poised with the toothbrush while she sat there and glared at me with her mouth clamped shut.  It might have been a battle of wills if I hadn’t been daydreaming.  But my daydreaming seems to have done the job of patience in the situation pretty well.

After a few moments (and no words from either of us) she simply opened her mouth and let me brush her teeth.

It struck me that God very often handles me just like that.  He lets me know what he needs from me gently, but I set my jaw and dig in my heels and say, “No, I will do it my way!”  And He lets me sit there, staring Him down.  He just waits until I catch up and find myself surrendering my will to His.  Often it is not nearly as peaceful as this, and I protest a little more vehemently than my two year old did over the tooth brushing.  But sooner or later, if I am paying any attention at all, I get the message.

The key here though, is that my two year old was looking at me the whole time.  Even when silently protesting, her eyes were fixed on me.  God can handle my disagreements with Him, but it is crucial that even if my will is set against His, I keep my focus on Him.

How it Began: The First Time Around

I was born into mothering earlier in my life than most, and at a time in my life when I was still feeling the pull to question every authority in my path.  I had been raised as a church-going girl.  Missing church on Sundays was just not something you did unless you had a Really Good Reason.  But I found myself as a young wife and mother with no one telling me I had to go anymore.

Hmmmm…. this was interesting.  I could do anything I wanted with my Sunday.  The freedom opened up before me like a new frontier.  In my arms, however, was a squirming new little life, looking up at me to point her in the right direction.  How could I teach her what I did not know myself – how to live a full and joy filled life?  How could I bring her meaning and show her what it meant to be a good person and an asset to the world?

Growing up in a christian home, I had been exposed to the Love of God from before I could talk.  I learned the stories of how He prepared His people for His Coming and of His incarnation and death on the cross.  At this time in my life, as a young wife and mother, though, I didn’t see myself as a particularly religious person.  But I needed a place to start with my child and church seemed as good a place as any.  So my baby daughter and I began to attend church together.

We did not go as a family yet – my husband and I had not come to an agreement on how to express our faith.  So he went to his church and I went to mine.  But we both had a vague sense of wanting to be closer to God and that kept things peaceful.  Like Abram and Sarai (Gen 12), hearing the call of God to go to a New Place that He promised for them, we began to wander in the direction that He seemed to be calling us, not really sure where we were headed or what we would find when we arrived there.  I’m not sure we even knew we were being called then, we just started on our way anyway.

Welcome!

Welcome to Circling Jericho, my new project and child of my Family Blog and Peace Study Blog.  In this blog I hope to put into words my spiritual journey as it relates to mothering my children and being a wife and family member – living my vocation, in other words.

I chose the name Circling Jericho in reference to the Bible story.  In meditating on it one day, I thought about the Israelite army, being told to do this seemingly useless, nonsensical thing – walk in circles around their adversary and trust that God had a plan for them.  In following His instructions, they won a tremendous victory over the city.  But in that week leading up to that, I have to imagine that many of those people had their doubts.  This was tedious, mindless work.  Nothing that would take an army, and certainly nothing that would win a victory.  There had to be a few thoughts in the crowd that maybe Joshua had just gone crazy.

As mothers we have a similar task.  We walk around Jericho every single day.  Doing the same things over and over.  Tedious, menial tasks that seem to take us in a circle, but are in reality bringing us closer to God.  We have little victories as the days go by.  I think God knows that we need them since we have to circle this city for much longer than a week.  But our final victory is far ahead and so we keep washing dishes and doing laundry, changing diapers and kissing owies, cooking dinner and driving carpools, and trusting that all of this running in circles is really leading us (and our families) in a straight line closer to Holiness.

So keep walking around this giant walled city, it is what He has asked us to do.  There will be a time when the walls fall down.

New Baby: Reset

Back again after pregnancy and baby, just getting started but wanted to get my weights in to finish out the year. Heh, last time I posted I was a month away from getting pregnant.

Began this pregnancy with these stats:
2/1/09 weight: 148
Bust: 38
Waist: 32
Arm: 11
Hips: 42
Belly: 38.5
Thigh: 23

At 1 week postpartum:
Weight: 170
Bust: 43
Waist: 38
Hips: 44.5

2 weeks postpartum:
Weight: 162.5
Bust: 40.5
Waist 35.5
Belly: 42.5
Hips: 43

Grouch

160!
I am grouchy and don’t feel much like writing. But I did stay under 1500 cal today – Go Me!

It is amazing how full I feel when I eat a high fiber meal, I can hardly believe I came in under calories today when I felt so full after dinner.

… and again

Still gaining and losing the same two pounds, still not checking in, still not really trying to do this.

I restarted my spark diet tonight though, and my three fast break goals are:

1. Log daily calories.

2. Journal.

3. Go outside and do something.

One week, sure I can do one week of this.

Let’s see how I do tomorrow.

Starting Again

I got all motivated and started this and then dropped it like a hot potato. Mmmm… potatoes.
Anyway – in spite of the stress that started soon after this website began and has still not let up, it is time to get back in the saddle and get going again. Yesterday went well. Or at least it went better than it could have gone if I hadn’t been giving it a BIT of effort.

So onwards and upwards, or downwards, whichever the case may be.

New mini-goal: drop ten pounds by November 1. That is 2 pounds a week and will have me looking slightly more svelte for a family wedding.

Current strategies for changing my life:
1. Log all foods. You can find them here and on my spark page. Maybe shame can get me to refrain from gorging to treat stress.
2. Exercise an average of 15 minutes a day. I can do 30 minutes if I skip a day. But I plan not to skip more than one day here and there.
3. Plan meals.
4. Follow the first few days of the Beck Diet Solution – at least until I can get my book out of storage and move forward with more days.

Goal Number One

To log my foods eaten from today (5/6/08) through Saturday (5/10/08) and weigh in and measure on that morning.