Not Just A New Chapter

Last summer I made a decision to blog regularly. I had even decided to work with someone to redesign the blog and move it to a new domain.

However, none of it ever happened. My laptop stopped working and a nine-day fix turned into a two and a half month ordeal; resulting in a new laptop, but a corrupted hard drive. I lost everything!

But that loss pales in comparison to several life events that began to unfold during the summer as well. I have been debating whether or not to post about this; and every time I decide to post it, the debate becomes how much to share. I love reading blogs; and getting a glimpse of other people’s lives. I have loved getting to know several people I have ‘met’ in this blogosphere. But my pet peeve is reading blogs where the author seems perfect; where it seems that nothing negative ever happens in his or her life. While I don’t believe that bloggers should reveal all the intimate details of their lives, I do believe that if you are blogging about your life you should be real. So that is how I finally made my decision to write this post. I want to be real. Please remember that I come from a Catholic background. Everything I have done has involved prayer and consultation with Godly people, as well as my priest.

So, here goes… last summer I discovered that my husband was having an affair. I certainly did not condone this behavior; and have not, as of yet, forgiven him for it (I’m working on it). I did feel that it was only right to try to fix what was wrong. I prayed, bought books, and sought out couple’s counseling. We even attended a Love and Respect video conference (I highly recommend this conference!). I tried changing to be the wife he said he wanted.

Out of respect for my children & a little privacy, I won’t go into all the details; but let’s just say that nothing made a difference. In fact, a tragedy revealed that he had never really ended the affair. The husband of the woman in question chose to commit suicide. It was this action, in combination with his deception, that began a severe downward spiral. We each spoke separately to a priest at our church, and I had hoped we could somehow reconcile this and move forward. It wasn’t to be. In fact, things began to get worse.

Something seemed to snap in my husband. He began to verbally and emotionally abuse me; in private and in front of my children. He began to get more secretive – removing my name from accounts, changing passwords, and refused any attempts to reconcile. He still went through the motions – we tried to appear ‘normal’ during the holidays and for my birthday in January, but it didn’t work. I would find out later that he was still involved with her, even after her husband’s suicide. The abuse continued to escalate and he claimed his health was beginning to suffer as a result. He blamed me.

At the end of February, I had foot surgery. I was told that I couldn’t walk or drive for three weeks. One week after surgery, he moved out; leaving me with two children unable to take care of themselves. He has been gone ever since. I don’t really know where he lives. To his credit, he continues to pay the bills; though he has mentioned that he does this so the courts won’t consider it abandonment. However, he threatens to shut something off on a regular basis; he’s even threatened to withhold our food money unless I did something he wanted. He does come and visit the kids about once a week for a couple of hours. Ironically, he spends more time with them now; and pays more attention to them, then he ever did before.

But my children are suffering. They don’t understand. I am doing all that I can for them, but it never seems to be enough. I pray for them and with them. I spend ‘alone’ time with each of them separately. I have counseling available to both of them. I’ve kept things as routine as possible. It’s all so difficult – I can’t explain to them why this happened; I can’t change it; I can’t bring their father back; I can’t give them the daddy they so desperately desire. They deserve better. So I pray for them. I remind them that God wants to be their Father. At their ages, it’s just not enough for them.

I have met with my priest and discussed all the details with him; including many not mentioned here (hard to believe, huh?). He said that the separation was probably a very good thing. It would hopefully prevent things from escalating further. He also told me that since we were married in a civil ceremony (at my husband’s insistence), the Church didn’t consider us married. I know that some of you will disagree with that; but it does help in the event I am blessed with another opportunity for marriage. Which means this one will have to be dissolved legally…

I know God hates divorce; but I also know He loves me and my children. He doesn’t want us to remain in a situation where there’s potential danger. I know some people would say to remain married and just live apart. However, that, in my opinion, just condones his adulterous behavior. It’s just not something with which he is concerned. He has already moved on. Also, remaining legally married prevents the children and me from having the opportunity to find a Godly relationship. I believe that God will provide a Godly man for us who will teach my children what a Godly marriage looks like; what God intended husbands and fathers to be.

While I know not everyone will agree with my decision to divorce my husband, I have prayed about this and talked about it with Godly people. It’s not a decision I made lightly. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother with no income. With God’s help, I intend to maintain that. As you may know from other posts, my son is on the Autism Spectrum and he needs to have his mother home with him, as it has been for the entirety of his life. Neither of them need any more changes right now. I have decided that I am no longer going to subject them to the abuse. It certainly doesn’t teach my son how to be a Godly man; nor does it teach my daughter how a man is supposed to treat a woman. What I am trying to teach them is strength, integrity, and reliance on God. I am at peace with this decision, even if it’s not what I wanted. I am at peace with it, even if it’s difficult. I ask that instead of judgement you say a prayer for my children and me.

Thank you for reading, and not judging. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for allowing me to be a bit transparent and real. My life is far from perfect, but it contains the most perfect thing there is: the Love of the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

Contentment

As this holiday season comes to a close with Epiphany, I find myself reflecting on how this last month or two went. As I think, I realize that this has been one of the best Christmases ever.

  • It wasn’t because I got the best gifts.
  • It wasn’t because we hosted the best parties.
  • It wasn’t even because we attended the best parties.
  • It wasn’t because we had the best clothes.
  • It wasn’t because all the food turned out great.

I am realizing that for the first time, I really put Christ in CHRISTmas.Here’s how:

  • We participated in Holy Heroes Advent Adventure;
  • We took my daughter’s doll cradle and some shredded paper (added for acts of kindness and sacrifice) and made a bed for Baby Jesus;
  • We wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a Manger;
  • We followed the genealogy of Jesus with a homemade Jesse Tree:
  • We celebrated the lives and Feast Days of some Saints who loved Jesus long before we were alive – we discovered we can learn a lot from their faith and example!
  • We made many of our gifts, removing ourselves from the malls (we did go to a couple of stores, but were determined not to participate in the madness);
  • We made Christmas Eve Mass a priority – it was something special – we arrived early and didn’t rush out. We lingered. We studied the beautiful Creche. Then we went home and read The Night Before Christmas, but the last thing we did as a family was to read the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke.

It was such a beautiful time this year. There was no stress. There were no worries about the ‘perfect’ gift. There was just family and love. From the First and Holy family, to our immediate and extended family.

I am convinced now that this is a lot closer to the way things are supposed to be. It’s amazing that the more I let go of the way the world thinks I should do something, the more I feel at peace. How about you? How did you make your Christmas season centered more around Christ? Happy Feast of Epiphany!

Calm After the Storm

I’m sure everyone’s done talking about Hurricane Irene; some feel it was hype, while others are still cleaning up. My thoughts and prayers are with those who got hit hard and are still struggling.

We were kind of in the middle – a huge amount of rain, many trees and branches down, and power outages galore. But for the most part, we were safe; and I am grateful.

But I want to talk about a different effect Irene had on me and my family. We got hit with a majority of our rain on Saturday night, into Sunday morning. Once the rains stopped, the wind didn’t. We made it through Saturday with only a few flickers; so we thought all was good. We were going to try to go to Mass at noon. However, that was not to be the case. The winds were just too strong for my car; and we decided we’d better not risk it.

We are fortunate to get the Catholic television station, EWTN, so we planned to participate in Mass via the TV. It’s not exactly the same, but we can hear the readings, participate in the prayers, and learn from the homily. Mass was due to be televised at noon, so we made plans to gather around the TV at that time. But that was not to be the case either.

The power went out at 10:49 am. It remained off until 1:30 pm on Monday. Then we had a fire in a transformer across the street and lost power again at 9:00 pm on Monday. It remained off again until sometime Wednesday afternoon. It was an interesting couple of days, but I want to get back to Sunday…

I had awoken early Sunday morning (probably due to loud wind gusts), and began the day reading my Bible. {I am participating in reading the Bible in 90 days} Then, when we couldn’t go to Mass, or even participate via TV, I gathered the kids around me and we did the Sunday readings ourselves – Diva wanted to do two of the readings herself {love that!} – and we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together. The rest of the day, even without power (and maybe because we didn’t have power), was one of the most peaceful days I have ever experienced.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my church and my faith; wouldn’t trade them for anything! But I spent so much of the day, in little chunks here and there, in God’s word, in prayer, and reading another book based in His word (I will be reviewing that book very soon, so come back and check it out – you’re gonna wanna read this one!!!).

There was no work; only rest. There was no noise; only peace and quiet (ok, the kids weren’t exactly quiet all day, but you know what I mean). We read, we prayed, we laughed together. It was a wonderful day – it was a Sabbath.

Now that I’ve re-stocked the fridge and freezer, and cleaned up parts of the yard; it’s time to get ready for TS Lee and TS Katia – they should converge on our area very close to one another, between Thursday and Saturday.

We’ll head to Mass in the morning as usual this week, but as these two storms approach, I can’t help but wonder what next weekend has in store for us…

This post is being linked to Building Our Homes Together.

Word on Fire – The Catholicism Project

The other night I had the opportunity to preview Episode One of Catholicism. Catholicism is a ten part documentary created and hosted by Father Robert Barron of Word On Fire.  The website’s description:

Soon you can discover the rich heritage of the Catholic Church in an epic media experience. Word on Fire Catholic Ministries offers a vision of the Catholic Faith, which has never before been seen. This vision seeks to explore, through a global journey, the living culture of the Catholic Church. From the lands of the Bible, to the great shrines of Europe, to the shores and heartland of America, to the mysteries of Asia, to the rich landscapes of Latin America, to the beating heart of Africa – and beyond, witness the passion and glory of the faith that claims over a billion of the earth’s people as its own.

If the first episode is any indication, this is going to be one great series! Fr. Barron narrates on location from Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and more. Through this series, we visit places central to our faith; places most of us would like to see, but may never get the chance. Fr. Barron takes us to the birthplace of Jesus, the site of the Crucifixion, and the site of the Resurrection.

Fr. Barron takes the Gospels and makes them come alive; while walking in the path of Jesus. He uses his extensive knowledge of Scripture and helps us understand what it was like over 2000 years ago. He brings Jesus to life and makes it very personal.

One of the things that stood out to me was his description of both Jesus and His angels being warriors. Jesus came to fight; but perhaps not in the way the Israelites, or us, think about fighting.

I mentioned before that this series was filmed on location. Over the course of all ten episodes, Fr. Barron will take us to the following places:

  • Chicago
  • Kentucky
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Mexico
  • Ireland
  • Florence
  • Spain
  • Lourdes
  • Rome
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • France
  • Poland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Kolkata, India
  • Philippines

The Catholicism Project will dispel myths and take you on a journey of our Christian faith that you will never forget. The Catholicism Project, while Catholic, is for everyone. It is for Catholics who want to learn more about their faith, Catholics who have left the church, all Christians, and even those of other faiths. Fr. Barron has comments on his site, testimonials of his work,  from people of other faiths who are learning what the Catholic church is really all about. There is one from a Mormon who is considering what he has to say; and one from a former atheist (who ironically found Fr. Barron while searching for Bob Dylan!). I encourage everyone to give the Catholicism Project a chance. It will be available on TV and on DVD.

Here’s a list of the titles of the ten episodes:

  1. Amazed and Afraid: The Revelation of God Become Man
  2. Happy Are We: The Teachings of Jesus
  3. The Ineffable Mystery of God: That Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought
  4. Our Tainted Nature’s Solitary Boast: Mary, the Mother of God
  5. To the Ends of the Earth: Peter, Paul, and the Missionary Adventure
  6. A Body Both suffering and Glorious: The Mystical Union of Christ and the Church
  7. Word Made Flesh, True Bread of Heaven: The Mystery of the Liturgy and the Eucharist
  8. A Vast Company of Witnesses: The Communion of Saints
  9. The Fire of His Love: Prayer and the Life of the Spirit
  10. World Without End: The Last Things

So, check out Fr. Barron’s Catholicism Project at Word on Fire. It will be well worth your while. It isn’t just about one religion – it’s about Jesus, His reason for His humanity on earth, His teachings, His reasons for dying, His reasons for the Resurrection, and what He wants us to do with it.

 

VBS – Vacation Bible School

Last week we had our own VBS right here at home. While I know it’s typically enjoyed as a day camp type of experience, we couldn’t afford our church’s VBS this year. So we opted for Holy Heroes online version. It’s called Summer Faith Adventure and you can click on the title to find out more about it. I believe they’re offering it for another week or two. These aren’t affiliate links, I just enjoyed what the kids and I did last week, so I thought I’d share. Also, I love to be able to support small, family-owned, Christian businesses whenever I can.

Anyway… This program consisted of a daily email for the five days. In each email was a link to the day’s activities; which included video lessons, crafts, games, and snacks. There were also audio links to daily songs, a decade of the Rosary, and the Angelus. Also within the link was a pdf file of the suggested order of the day, questions for the Biblical instruction, song lyrics, recipes, and instructions for the games and crafts. For older kids, there was a section with a list of Bible passages for them to read and determine the main theme.

The message for the week centered around the Kingdom of David; both the original one and the new one established by Jesus. We discussed the the Old Testament stories of Jesse, Samuel’s anointing of David, and more. Then the children learned what Jesus did and how it mirrored or was related to the Old Testament. Throughout the course of the week, the children were introduced to the sacraments and taught how Jesus instituted them for us. They were able to see how each one came directly from the Bible.

On Monday, we discussed the “Keys of the Kingdom” and the “Master of the palace.” The children learned about the role of the master of the palace in Old Testament times and how Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, making him the master of the palace here on earth. Our craft of the day was to make a Papal Miter, similar to the one described in the book of Exodus.

Ya never know – could be a future Pope…

Our snack that day was to take sugar cookie dough and make crowns and keys. Well, these aren’t popular cookie cutter shapes, so we did get some interesting cookies (though I forgot to to a picture of how they turned out).

On Tuesday, they made stained glass windows. One of the things they learned was that originally, stained glass windows were used to help those who couldn’t read to better understand the Bible. These windows told stories.

See the cross?

This is supposed to be a dove, but she said it looked more like a duck when she was done!

Another craft we did was a prayer book. The pdf file had a couple of pages of prayers typed out for us. All we had to do was cut them out. The kids made small booklets out of colored paper, and stapled the spines. Then they took their prayers and glued one to each page. Diva even used some fancy scissors to make hers more decorative (she is her mother’s daughter!). Then they had the option of illustrating each page. Both of them did a cover page for their book. Now they have a small-sized prayer book to help them learn and remember some prayers they may not have known before. It’s a convenient size to take anywhere!

Obviously I didn’t include everything that they did this week – this post would be way too long! But if you like what you see, hop on over to the Summer Faith Adventure and sign up for one of the remaining weeks! Did I mention that the online version is offered at no charge?

How was your Vacation Bible School this year?

* This post is being linked to Women Living Well WednesdaysBuilding Our Homes Together with Jesus, Women in the Word Wednsedays, and Thankful Thursdays.  Please click on over and see what other ladies are doing in their homes!

Come Home

I may be one of the few Catholics out there who has only heard Father John Corapi speak, via EWTN, once (didn’t have cable/satellite access for a few years). For that I am now sorry. I have been paying attention to all the drama surrounding his situation and am deeply saddened. I am not interested in debating guilt or innocence; the system: whether it’s broken or not; there are plenty of bloggers (most of them more educated than I) doing that.

However, I came across this video today and it really tugged at my heart-strings. These men speak from their hearts. They speak of the Divine and of human needs & emotions. It is a true outpouring of love; and that’s why I re-post it.

Father Corapi, I don’t know you and you don’t me. I haven’t heard you speak, but once. But I know Jesus Christ, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and the importance of the priesthood. I know that Jesus needs you to be His Hands and Feet here on earth. We need your prayers. We need you to hear our confessions; and we need you to Consecrate the Eucharist. We need you to continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once a priest, always a priest.

Dear Younger Self

Today, Lynn and Dineen over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage began a series called The Intentional Marriage. While I was unable to view the first part of this series (long story, but no audio and very little data usage), I wanted to take a moment to participate. The challenge this month is to offer advice to our younger selves – before we were married.

Well, I wasn’t so young when I got married; at least not like brides used to be. I waited until I was in my 30’s to tie the knot. I had even known him for many years before we married. However, ironically, my advice to my younger self would be to wait a little longer and get to know him better. Had I done that, though, we probably would never have been married at all. So, what do I mean by this seemingly conflicting advice?

Ok, so maybe we wouldn’t have married… I can look at my younger self and honestly say that I wanted to be married. I was in my 30’s and had no prospects. I had grown out of the typical ways I thought one would meet a husband. I look back and know that I had already overlooked a few red flags. We got married, and even though we had known each other for years, we really hadn’t spent much time together.

Now older and, theoretically, wiser, I would highly recommend courtship instead of dating. I would suggest spending more time together learning about how each person handles conflicts, how he or she relates to family members, and how arguments are handled. These are all important as these situations will surface in every marriage.

Ok, Lynn and Dineen also requested that we post a picture from the wedding – keep in mind that we didn’t have digital cameras so this main be a bit grainy.

Reconciliation

Last night my daughter, Diva, made her first Reconciliation with a group of other young people at church. They did a short prayer service as a group and then divided up to go to different areas. Diva wanted to have her first confession heard by a certain priest but he was unavailable last night. So acting like the angel she can sometimes be, she was very agreeable and was blessed to be assigned to our pastor who heard Littleman’s first confession as well.

The theme for the evening was that of the Good Shepherd (Luke 15:4-7). After the Gospel was read, Msgr. began a short homily. Shortly after he began, Diva turned to me said, “That’s like a sin!” Any fears I had about her readiness faded away. She understood.

As we sat in the pew, her excitement grew. They were called to line up at their assigned confessional. She got in line and turned back toward me. She smiled, blew me a kiss and flashed the sign (ASL) for “I love you.”

Littleman and I began to pray for her. We prayed until she came out. When she did, she was all smiles. After her penance, she turned to me and said she felt great! She also said she wanted to do it again and asked if she could go tomorrow! I told her she could go any time she wanted, but just not to start sinning on purpose so that she would have something to confess!

To top off the beautiful evening, she met up with a friend at the exit. They shared their excitement of the sacrament and compared recently lost teeth. All-in-all ~ a perfect evening! I love you, Diva!

Diva