Less is More

I had a rare opportunity tonight to go visit my mom with only three of my children and one grandchild as companions. My husband had taken the older boys camping and my teen was on retreat. My father was also out of town on business, so that gave my mother and I some bonding time while the kids watched movies and ate popcorn and pizza in the adjacent room. My mom surprised me with a gift that she had stored for over 20 years. It was a VHS movie with one-half of a handkerchief that had the words “Jill More Is Less Love Mom” embroidered on it. I didn’t recall ever seeing the movie. Mom told me that she didn’t remember it much, but I had gone with her and Dad to see it at the theatre and we both cried so much that my father tore his handkerchief in half to give to us.

So we popped the movie in and watched intently, each of us expecting some great epiphany or deep meaning to come flooding back to us. In the end the movie was a disappointment and my mom put it into her trashcan. It wasn’t a bad movie, it just had a frustrating ending that didn’t jive with either of us on moral grounds. Mom apologized to me and her demeanor seemed to express disappointment that it didn’t mean more. But, the more I think about it, the more the gift means to me.

First of all, it means that my mother and I shared a common bonding and experience watching that movie together over twenty years ago—a moment that meant a great deal to her to have purchased the movie, embroidered the hankie and waited all this time before giving it to me. It says that I am special to her: now, then and always. That is a powerful message for any daughter.

As I contemplate the words “less is more” I think of how those words played out in the movie. A young woman leaves her job to care for her dying mother. She has spent her life trying to imitate her father and rebel against all that is her mother: the domesticity, the servitude, the humility. In the end she sees each of her parents for who they are and accepts them. Her father is not the perfect man that she had idolized him to be; and her mother is so much more exceptional because of her humbleness. So, I think of the woman I was twenty-some years ago and compare her to the woman I am today. I can very much identify with the character in the movie. I, too, tried to rebel against becoming my mother. Call it nature or nurture or genetics, but I am very much like my mother today and I thank God for it. I can’t help but think it was my mother’s intuition or a signal grace that prompted her to buy that movie and hold it all these years. “Less is more” could simply mean be happy with what you have in front of you, with who God made you to be. Don’t try to be something more than who you are because you are the perfect you. A message she wanted to tell me then, but that I had to learn on my own.

And then I have the handkerchief torn into two pieces. Dad loves us both and this hankie reminds me of that love. His devoted love to my mother for over 50 years of marriage and his devoted love to his children and grand children can never be called into question. My dad always kissed me on the cheek when he left for trips and he wasn’t shy about saying “I love you” either. I have never doubted either of my parents’ love for me or their pride in the woman I am today. That is a gift I will always treasure, and one I will be sure to pass on to my own children.

Thanks, Mom for the movie. Thanks, Dad for the hankie. You were right, less IS more.

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If You Give a Mom a Project

Okay, Moms (and Dads), you know how you start to do one thing and it leads to something else, and then that leads to something else, and then pretty soon you realize that you are knee-deep into a project that you had no intention of starting? Kind of like the book series If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? So, today seems to be that kind of day for me; but, I’m not complaining. I enjoy the surprises that these experiences seem to afford.

Since January, we have had full-time help with the kids and household chores from 9am to 2pm on Monday through Friday. I cannot even begin to tell you what a huge blessing this has been for my family. Well, today our beloved Fidencia (Fifi) had another obligation and we are on our own. My energy has improved and I woke up mentally prepared to face the day without the extra help. By the time I was dragged out of bed by my adorable four-year old Sophia it was already 9am. The kids had made breakfast, eaten, cleared the table and were working on their school work. Patrick was back in his office preparing to leave for the day’s appointments. Daniel and Sophia wanted to do school with me, so while I ate my breakfast and enjoyed a cup of coffee we did Math and some preschool workbook pages. Benjamin joined us at the table and did his own coloring work. Since it has been months since I did school with the kids I realized how unorganized their books had become. The general reading books were mixed with the school books and coloring books. In addition some random toys, crayons and pencils had been thrown into the “school bin.” One of the books mixed in was an A,B,C Book that I had made with Joshua when he was a preschooler. I decided that I better put it in his baby box before it was completely destroyed.

A similar book made by Sophia

A similar book made by Sophia recently

After finishing up the school work, I took Sophia and Ben to the living room and gave them each an ipad to do their “school” turn, which means “educational apps only”. I turned my attention to the space above the television where the baby boxes are stored, which immediately set off the Kid Alarm. The Kid Alarm is that alarm that all children are born with which immediately alerts them to a parent who is on the phone, needing privacy, or working on a project best done alone and without the assistance of her offspring. So, before I knew it I had all seven children begging to look through their baby boxes. School came to a screeching halt and a trip down memory road commenced.

It is dangerous for me to look through their baby boxes or flip through the photo albums. A deep longing wells up within me to recapture those moments when they were younger and more innocent. The newborn pictures affect me the most. Those sweet, soft infant heads with a tuft of baby-fine hair and that new baby smell all come flooding back to me and make me wish with all my heart that I had those babies back to hold, or another one on the way.

Who couldn't love those chubby cheeks and that soft, fuzzy head?

Who couldn’t love those chubby cheeks and that soft, fuzzy head?

But, they grow so quickly and sweetness of those moments are always mixed with the exhaustion of caring for that new baby, the recovery of a body that has carried and nourished yet another life and given birth to it, and all the responsibility that come with adding another family member. It is bitter sweet indeed. The consolation is in the present. I looked around the room at my seven children present with me in the moment and then back at the photo in my hand . “Look at that sweet baby! And then they grow into sweet, little kids,” I exclaimed as I cupped my daughter’s face in my hand. “And, then,” I said with pride, “they become these awesome teenagers” and I held my soon-to-be-sixteen-already’s face in my hand. “And then,” I continued with enthusiasm as I skimmed through pictures to find our eldest child’s face, “they become awesome grownups, who get married and make more cute little babies!”  I quickly grabbed my phone and texted my daughter to invite her and the grandkids over for a visit later today. I am thankful for the quick response in the affirmative and look forward to enjoying the moments I have today because tomorrow may not afford the same opportunities.

I may never have the privilege to nourish another child within me or experience the bittersweet moments in those few weeks after its birth; but, I do have the children of the present. I have the toddler and the preschoolers with their endless energy and never-ending source of love and affection. I have the early years where the world is an open book and the mind and body are growing more capable of complex ideas and projects. I have the teenage years, where independence is on the horizon and the new wings are being tested and strengthened. I have the young adult whose wings are strong and the world is just waiting to be conquered. And I have a friend and a daughter who shares the similar struggles and joys of raising young children and building a strong marriage. Yes, the present is a wonderful place to be!

Our recent family pic taken by the talented Rachael McCoy at www.rachaelmccoyphotography.com

Our recent family pic taken by the talented Rachael McCoy at http://www.rachaelmccoyphotography.com

Now, back to organizing those books.

Ain’t It Great to be Crazy

My husband always jokes that it is our duty as parents to screw up our kids. I think our number one duty is to annoy and embarrass them. I am especially blessed in this department because I was given the gift of changing lyrics in songs to fit the occasion. This combined with my lack of singing abilities really gets the sighs and eye rolling responses that parents dream about.

In all seriousness, I love to joke and be silly with my kids. My mother and father where always fun that way and my childhood is filled with memories of laughter and singing. My mom knew hundreds of songs by heart probably because her own father, my beloved Grandpa Stich played the accordion and loved to sing. Almost 14  years ago she compiled all the lyrics to the songs she sang to us as children, typed them up, scrapbooked pictures and bound a book for each of her children as a gift.image It is one of my most treasured books with the words to 200 songs. imageSo, I have these tunes floating in my head and they just come out spontaneously always sure to garnish a few laughs.

For example, last week I saw some turkey vultures lunching on a flattened squirrel. Being the homeschooling mom that I am, I quickly took video on my phone to share with my kids. Science class? Check. After dinner, I remembered the vultures and shared the video with my children. This lead to my dramatic Angela declaring the she, “missed Stumpy!” “ Who is Stumpy,” you ask. Stumpy was a squirrel in our neighborhood that earned his name because his tail was no more than a stump, making him easy to recognize. We saw Stumpy often over the course of two years and then, one day, poor Stumpy was seen dead in the road. So, of course when Angela was feeling sentimental over the memory of Stumpy, I immediately came up with a song for the occasion. (to the tune of Grandma got run over by a reindeer)

Stumpy got run over by a neighbor,
Playing out in our yard yesterday.
He was playing with his squirrel-friends
And forgot to look both ways.

See, it’s a gift, I tell you. Of course, it needed a second verse. This came with some struggles, but the end result was satisfying if not historically accurate (well, mostly).

The vultures came to eat him,
Pick his flesh and eat his bones,
But our neighbor quickly snatched him
And buried him outside her home.

For added encouragement, my kids are cringing as I type this. They are squirming with the thought that I am putting this on my blog. Angela just told me that everyone will know that I am crazy if I post this. To which I responded:

Boom. Boom.  Ain’t it great to be crazy?
Boom.  Boom.  Ain’t great to be crazy,
Giddy and foolish the whole day through,
Boom. Boom. Ain’t it great to be crazy?

Advice To Mothers

After 20 years of marriage and motherhood, as I was blessed to marry a man who already had a daughter, I feel somewhat prepared to offer advice to my colleagues in our mutual endeavor of raising children. I will also add to my resume’ the fact that I have been mother to a preschooler for 18 of the last 20 years– not the same one mind you, but at least one preschooler. This is impressive as the preschooler is a most fascinating creature almost always on the move with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. It is one of my favorite stages of child development, but it also the most physically and emotionally demanding roles of parenting and can take its toll on even the strongest and most experienced caretaker. It is for this reason that I offer the following advice.

Oh, you have probably heard some of it before: take care of yourself, go on dates with your husband, get up before the children so you have time alone or in prayer, blah, blah, blah. I am not going to give you the same advice, although some of it is great advice and works really well for some people. No, I am going to tell you how to take care of yourself. Please don’t take my advice for granted. It came at a great cost to me. I had to learn it the hard way by trial and error and ultimately, falling flat on my butt before learning what they meant when they said, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.” “ Yeah, yeah. I know,” I thought to my prideful self, “but I want to be a saint and saints aren’t selfish. I’ve read Horton Hatches an Egg, and I’m no Mazy the lazy bird who leaves her hatching to someone else. No, I’m Horton.” And then God in his goodness gave me the gift of humility and my body won’t do what my mind wills it to do and wants it to do. Every time I push myself my body screams at me a day or two later. It throws a temper tantrum worse than any toddler and refuses to do much more than eat and sleep, and so I’ve learned that for my body and I to get along, I have to treat her gently. I’ve learned that there is a middle ground between old, faithful Horton and Mazy the lazy bird; and I’ve learned that saints didn’t become saints overnight, but that there is a proper order in becoming saints. We don’t get to just skip over steps because, well, we are in a hurry to achieve said perfection and declare ourselves martyrs. So, here it goes.

1. No Fair Comparing. Just like you didn’t or shouldn’t have looked at your friend’s test to compare answers before turning it in, you cannot and should not compare your life to anyone else’s. Ever. Oh, this is ever so difficult for me. It feels so good to think I’m doing better than Sally who doesn’t even do a, b or c for her family. It also feels so horribly despairing that I could never do x, y or z for mine even though Suzy does it with a smile on her face, six kids under foot and two hands tied behind her back. It produces no good fruits and serves no purpose. Also, it is impossible for us to compare. We cannot see all the factors going into another’s life and we are each unique individuals with a separate God-given purpose.

Case in point:  my seven children still at home are all assigned tasks to help get the evening meal on the table. If everyone does his or her task the table is set, the meal is prepared and served, and we are all able to eat a hot meal in joy and peace. But, normally, at least one child is distracted and the helpful siblings are quick to point out this slack in duty.

Angela: Mom, Sam is watching t.v. and not setting the plates.
Samuel: I’m only watching t.v. because Josh won’t get the plates for me.
Josh: I told him I’d get the plates after Angela unloads the dishwasher.
Angela: I’m waiting for Sam to turn off the t.v. because it’s time to set the table.

 

And so it goes until I get frustrated and exclaim, “If everyone would just do their job things could go really smoothly around here! What kind of a home do we want: a peaceful one or one where we all get upset with each other for not doing our jobs?” And the reality of it hits me hard. If we would just live our life the way God asks us to, we could have a peaceful world as well. If we concerned ourselves with doing His will everything would go smoothly. So, don’t compare and don’t concern yourself with other’s lives unless God has sent you on a specific mission to do so.

2. Listen to Your Inner Voice. Know yourself. This journey of self trust began with Natural Family Planning for me. I learned how to pay attention to my body’s natural rhythm and cycles. I became empowered by knowing that I knew my body better than anyone else ever could. It came full circle for me on the day I left the hospital in labor with my seventh child. The doctor had violated me and in a peace-filled, empowered state of mind I was able to stand up for myself. I had no fear in going home and having my baby in a loving environment where her dignity and mine would be respected (I had arranged for my midwife to meet us before leaving the hospital). It’s a story to be told at another time, but I mention here to demonstrate that there is power within each of us. God fills us with the grace and wisdom we need to live out His will. We have to work on our relationship with Christ through prayer and discernment and as that relationship grows stronger, our inner voice becomes louder and more clear. With my body’s failure to comply with all of my demands and wishes, I have really learned to rely on God’s will. It seems that I have to discern the smallest of tasks before carrying them out. Each day goes much smoother by doing so, but the cross is still just as heavy.

3. Be Humble. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. This ties in closely with listening to that inner voice and not comparing. Often, I was in a state of exhaustion where I knew I couldn’t care for myself much less my children. It was difficult to pick up the phone and call friends for help. I would worry that they would see my weakness, or think that I really didn’t need help and was just being selfish in asking for it. After all, Suzy never asks . . .Oh, yeah, I’m not supposed to compare. So, if you need help, ask for it. The worst is that everyone says “no” and then you turn to God and cry your heart out, pray and wait for the grace. Everything works out. Maybe not how you thought it would or should, but it works out in the end. You survive. You grow. I survived. I grew.

I will also add that we are called to live in unity. Women need to support women. Reach out and build those friendships. Be the kind of friend you want and wish for.  Don’t be afraid to accept the help in carrying your cross. Even Jesus had Simon of Cyrene.

4. Sleep. Whenever you are able, sleep. If you are an early riser and enjoy that time before the kids wake up and the earth is still dormant then by all means, get up and enjoy it. Go to bed early if you need to. Find your rhythm and go with it. But, if you are not a morning person and the kids are safe watching television while you get some much needed rest, then do it. Now, you have to be prayerful in discerning this advice. I am not saying to stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing computer games and then sleep until 11am while the kids veg out on PBS or Netflix. I am saying that if you are exhausted and need sleep, don’t feel a bit guilty about making changes to ensure that you are getting some rest. As a homeschooling mom this is my favorite perk. I struggle with severe adrenal fatigue and it is imperative that my body gets sleep. Some days that means going to bed at 9pm and some mornings it means I stay in bed until 9am. It has taken years for me to figure this out and make the changes to our schedule to make it work. Only you know what you need in this area. You have to work with your husband and make the necessary changes for your health. Don’t be fooled. Sleep or lack thereof is almost always the main culprit in a lack of patience and charity. It serves our family when we get the rest we need and can serve them with love and patience.

5. Eat well. If you are surviving each day by coffee, cold drinks, alcohol and/or junk food you owe it to yourself to look more deeply into demands of your daily life and make some serious changes. I know of which I speak. It all ties together. If you are not getting sleep then a cup of coffee or a Dr. Pepper are a quick fix to getting that extra boost of energy to survive until bedtime. I did this for years. Dr. Pepper was this Texan’s vice of choice. It gave me the energy boost to make it through dinner and then I was wired when bedtime rolled around. It would take me hours to fall asleep and then I had to get up with the baby and the next day demanded another D.P. for survival. This coupled with the need to eat and the lack of energy to prepare anything nutritious. Fast Food is a demon. It satisfies that urge to be fed, but has no nutrition and even robs us of what little nutrition we have in store. I still struggle with this one.

6. Do What You Enjoy. Make sure in all the busyness of life and kids that you continue to take some time each day or week to do something that you enjoy. It is your time to recharge your batteries and connect with who you were made to be. What are your unique gifts and talents and how can you use them in your station of life? Boy, is this advice I wish I had adhered to over the past ten years. As the babies came one after the other (six in seven years) my “hobbies” were the first thing to go. My husband is just as guilty in this department and it is really hard for us to reclaim our individual moments of joy. I enjoy sewing, but have decided that the energy to set up the machine and carve out time for a project is more than I can muster right now. Reading is also a huge source of entertainment and nourishment for me. So, I am fine tuning my Feedly app and finding great resources on the internet in the form of blogs and Catholic websites to give me small and easy-to-digest bits of brain fuel. Thirdly, I have rediscovered my love for writing. I wrote all the time as a teen and my husband was actually surprised by my writing after about six years into our marriage. He has been so supportive and encouraging of me. Writing actually serves a dual purpose. I love to talk and share my thoughts, but am at home with the kids and have little time to visit with friends these days. Writing allows me to get my thoughts out of my heart and mind and share them with others. It has also been amazingly therapeutic for me and I don’t feel so ‘”trapped” inside of myself.

Well, that is it. This is all the advice I have to offer. Of course, this is assuming that you are taking time for prayer each day. Whatever advice I have to give is entirely fruitless if you don’t have a relationship with Christ. You cannot possibly know what God’s will is for you if you don’t ever talk to Him! May God continue to bless you on your journey. Thank you for taking the time to share in mine. And if you have any advice for me, I’m ready to listen.

The Road Less Traveled

image

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
–The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost 1920

I read a post this morning by a Catholic homeschooling mother of ten children. It was a brutally honest blog about finding herself unexpectedly pregnant and struggling to deal with a pregnancy that she does not want. I can relate to her experience on a myriad of levels. My last two pregnancies were not planned. I cried for several weeks both  of those times when I discovered I was pregnant, but not because the child was unwanted. Pregnancy is hard. If I were to become pregnant at this point in my life, it would be a crushing blow. I honestly don’t know if I could even survive it. And this is the exact point at which the road divides.

On the one road are the travelers, like Rebecca who find themselves in a situation which they don’t like, don’t enjoy and didn’t specifically choose; but who knew that pregnancy was a possibility, remained open to that possibility and will make the best of the situation as they go forward. The road appears dark and overgrown. It is scary and full of the unknown. It will test your stamina and push your limits physically and emotionally. It is very much the road less traveled. As you go along this road you will meet some amazing people who will encourage you and lift you up. You will discover strength and grace in abundance and will see amazing sights that could never before be imagined. At the end of this road are abundant blessings that cannot be counted. Sound familiar? It is the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The other road appears straight and easy. It is well-traveled. The travelers on this road are beckoning you to join them. “This could have all been avoided so easily,” they tell you. Some will encourage you to “end the pregnancy” without considering the ending of the life that will come from it. Some will be stuck in telling you that you “made your bed and now you need to lie in it” without offering encouragement or assistance. On this road will be many well-meaning people who offer advice while at the same time judge your choice of being open to life, how many children you already have, and why you even considered having another. And to sharpen the pain, many of these people will claim to be Christians or even Catholics. If you don’t choose to end the life of your child, the travelers on this road will continue to dwell on what should have and could have been done to avoid the pregnancy in the first place. Neither position dwells in accepting the reality of the circumstances, but only attempt to alter that reality.

Too many people choose the well-traveled path and it leads to more pain and suffering in the long run. I believe the choice is made far too often because we are not fully aware of where the paths ultimately lead. Too many people do not trust in the message of Christ. Maybe they have never heard it, or maybe they are deceived into denying it like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Friends, don’t let your logic and emotions deceive you from trusting God who is Truth and Love. Remember that as Christians it is our duty to get ourselves and others to heaven. This should be our first goal. How we live each moment directs us down the path of our own choosing. This is especially evident when we follow the will of God despite the fact that our weak human will desires the easier route. So, if you find yourself in the position of an unwanted pregnancy, cry. Mourn. Weep. It is okay to feel. But, then pick up your cross and go forward. The grace and strength will be supplied in abundance by our Loving Father. If your path crosses with that of an expectant mother, offer an encouraging word or two; and if it is possible, offer physical help. Whether it is her first or fifteenth, pregnancy takes a real toll and physical help with the home, cooking or other kids is one of the greatest gifts you could give her. Be her Simon of Cyrene and help carry that heavy cross without criticism. Just imagine if Simon was helping Jesus and said, “You know, man, you could have avoided this whole thing . . .”

Veiling

In August of 2012 I finally answered the call to veil.  I say it was a calling because for the three previous years I felt this inner voice gently suggesting that I veil.  It began with a small question of why some women veil.  I was born in 1970 and do not remember the time when women were required to don a head covering.  I witnessed older women veiling, but not the women of my mother’s generation and certainly not my peers, the exception being for First Communions and weddings–until my niece (my nephew’s wife) came into the Church and began veiling.  Twelve years my junior, her wearing of the veil stirred an awareness in me.  I scoured the internet and scriptures looking for an absolute rule about veiling.  I found nothing that convinced me that it was a requirement and quickly brushed the thought of veiling to the corners of my mind.  I did not want to veil, but I would do it if I was “supposed” to.  But the thought of veiling kept coming back to me and it evolved from a question about veiling to an openness to understand why some women chose to veil.  Finally, on that evening in August I stumbled across a blog post by Lily of Veils by Lily.  As I read her words I suddenly understood my call, but I was still fearful to follow it.  I called my two teen girls into the room and asked them if they had ever considered veiling.  Allison was quick to say “yes” and Lauren was equally quick to answer “no”.  Once I spoke my thoughts aloud I knew it was something I needed to do because God was calling me to do it.  It was not a demand, not a requirement, not a law, not a threat of eternal damnation or even a venial sin; but it was a request from my beloved Lord and Savior.  It was a question to my soul asking if I would reverence and honor Him in this simple act of veiling in His presence.  Please understand that it was not this clear at the time.  God  is gentle and He led me slowly along this path to a deeper understanding of His desires. 

It was not easy to veil in the beginning, even with the desire to reverence God.  My first veil arrived in November and that first Sunday was uncomfortable to say the least.  I already feel lots of eyes upon me as my husband and I walk in to church with seven children in tow.  We intentionally sit in the first few pews where the children have a direct view of the priest and altar, thus increasing the odds that they will pay attention and be less of a distraction during Mass.  We try to sit in the side pews in order to be less noticeable and have easier supervision with half of the children sitting directly in front of us.  But, the first Sunday I veiled that was not the case.  We ended up in the first long pew front and center.  My heart was pounding and I wanted to crawl under the pew.  I felt so awkward and different and I flashed back to sixth grade:

 It was the days of big hair and I had just had a perm.  My hair was thick and long and the perm made it frizzy.  I had woken up late and was running behind for church.  My mom liked to get there 30 minutes early and I was at the awkward age of sometimes caring about my personal hygiene, but not always.  My mother gave me ample warning that we were leaving whether I was ready or not and I had called her bluff.  With unkempt bozo the clown hair I climbed into the car and went off to church.  Once in our pew, 4th pew on the right side, I became painfully aware of how I must look to other people and, like a typical adolescent, I thought everyone was looking at me.  Someone a few rows back snickered and I was sure it was aimed at me.  I began to cry as I was so ashamed and embarrassed.  My mother took pity on me and took me out to the car to wait for the rest of the family until Mass was over.  She didn’t lecture me.  In fact, I don’t remember that she said anything.  I will say that since that time I can put on makeup and fix my hair in under 5 minutes if necessary.

After this memory ran through my mind, I realized that veiling was not about me.  It really didn’t matter what other people thought about me.  The veil was a personal connection to the sacredness of the space in which I was worshipping.  It was a sign of holiness:  my holiness, the holiness of the Church and the reverence of the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  So, I relaxed as much as I could and tried to be more aware of the mystery that I was witnessing at Mass.  At one point, Father’s eyes met mine and I saw a change.  He seemed to become bolder, stood straighter and folded his hands in obvious reverence.  I don’t think it was because of me.  I think it was the Holy Spirit working through me and my family at that moment.  I glanced to my left and right and saw my husband standing reverently, I saw my children standing in reverence with their little hands folded—“good prayer hands” we like to call it.  Our witness had inspired and encouraged our priest, and his response ennobled us and others in the congregation as well.  And that is how the fire of the Holy Spirit is spread if we only allow ourselves to be conduits by our faith and actions.

Now, all of my daughters veil with me.  It is not something I require of them.  They have each expressed a desire in their own time, and Patrick and I responded by getting them their first veil.  One of the biggest compliments I have ever received was a few months back.  I was commentating for Mass, greeting everyone before Mass begins and saying the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass.  My two-year old was especially clingy and refused to go anyone else.  There was no nursery that day.  When we went back for prayers before Mass I asked the Liturgical Director if it would be a problem for me to hold my son while commentating.  As long as I am holding him, he is quiet and content.  So, I walked up to the podium with my little son in my arms and my veil on my head and greeted everyone before Mass.  At the Prayers of the Faithful, he was still in my arms.  After Mass, several people came up to Patrick or me and told us that I reminded them of the Holy Mother!  You see, I was standing directly in front of the statue of Mary with the child Jesus in her arms.  Jesus is holding the veil of his mother with one hand as she stands in prayerful reverence.

Mary and Jesus draped now for Lent

Mary and Jesus draped now for Lent

  And so I am inspired to be more like her, to weed out my sinfulness, to become more holy and reverent and prayerful, and to hold onto Jesus knowing he is my salvation, my God, my all.