Monday, December 30, 2013

A few reflections on the passing of Judge Baker

Although I hadn't seen Judge Baker in a few months, he was always in our prayers. It is common that when someone is a part of your family, as Fr. Baker has been to ours, you tend to also love those close to them. This was a gift and grace for us to get to know Judge Baker. Our kids even had the opportunity to speak with him often after Mass, bring him to lunch and eat chocolate brownies with chocolate ice cream for dessert (because vanilla was unacceptable) and to pray for him in his last hours with our family. The last time our family was with him was when we picked him up to bring him to the University Catholic fish fry, where we enjoyed sophisticated conversation with him as always and a huge smile and great laugh.

I was blessed enough to attend his funeral Mass. It was beautiful. To see his son celebrate the Mass, to hear the singing of the monks and sisters, to experience the love and farewell from a community that loved him so much. Fr. Baker wore black vestments, which I have never seen worn before, but was really moved, realizing how much sacramentals are such a huge part of our liturgy. 

Throughout the whole Mass there were two things that struck me most. One, was that I thought it was beautiful that during the blessing at the end, Fr. Baker mentioned both his mother and his father when praying for the deceased... I thought it beautiful, being married myself, that that would be an option in the final prayers for the dead. It really moved me to hear their names spoken together. Second, during the homily, the priest was speaking of all the human and spiritual marks Judge Baker had made on the community. One part really stood out. He said, "And then he came into full communion with the Catholic Church, thanks to the example of his children." This blew me away. What a gift! To know that giving life to this world could and does give life to us as parents... in so many ways! In this case, Judge Baker discovered the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church thanks to his daughter and son and their fidelity. It was so beautiful to me. It will leave a mark on my heart forever.

My last reflection is something I have constantly been thinking on. Even as a mom of such young children, I already know the final goal... my only prayer. For every parent who knows the love and mercy of God, you pray that no matter what, you die knowing your children have also discovered the love and mercy of God, that they know Christ personally, and that they will never tire in their journey to find Him, love Him and serve Him. What an amazing gift for this father! Both of his children by his side before his death... both whom know the love and mercy of God! I know with certainty the amazing peace Judge Baker had as a father and a man... Fr. Baker and Sr. Margaret Andrew, you were the biggest grace in his life. 

One last thing. In all their simplicity, my 3 and 4 year old expressed their deep concern for Fr. Baker last week after sharing the news with them. I had already explained to them that Fr. Baker's mom was in Heaven and now I shared with them that Judge Baker had left to go there too. I loved their innocent reply to me.... "But wait," said Gabriel, "What will he do with no mom and no dad?" Anthony leaned in towards Gabriel's face, "I know. I know. He has a sister. Mommy said yesterday." Gabriel answered, "OH YEA, HIS SISTER, she will definitely take care of him." And then I hoped to remind them who their real mom and dad were, always there to take care of them... "Guys, who else is Fr. Baker's mom and dad?" "GOD AND MARY!" Yes, certainly. We always have a mom and dad with us. It was so simple. But, it is so true. 

Judge Baker, we will miss you. I will most especially miss the story I heard every time I was with you. I know for certain that I heard this story most because my boys were right at the age where "John Sims" was when he was always jumping off the refrigerator. You would ask, "Do you know when John Sims stopped jumping off the refrigerator? When he learned to read." I have always been glad that my boys brought back a memory of your son as a young boy. 

Rest in peace. We will pray for you. Pray for us.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I am yours

"I belong to everyone. Everyone can say: 'Padre Pio is mine'."
-Padre Pio

The experience I have been having of saying good-bye has made me realize how much God's grace has blessed me, what amazing friends I have gained, what an incredible grace it has been to be a part of so many hearts. It is mysterious. Thank you, Jesus, today, for allowing me to give a piece of my heart to so many souls and ministries. I want to proclaim what Padre Pio has... thanks to You, Lord... "I belong to everyone." I am always here for each of you, in prayer, in thought, in my actions as a wife and mother... and through the amazing and mysterious Mystical Body of Christ. 

I am seriously overwhelmed, exhausted, and so grateful for the past week. The time spent, the letters, the visits, the gifts, the words of kindness and gratitude, the tears. My time here has been a grace... and this good bye has been one of the biggest graces in my life thus far... I had no idea how much my family and I were loved. I am so humbled and so touched. Thank you.

(stay tuned for my thank you post... bring your tissues along)

Friday, November 22, 2013

We're having a GIRL!

Last Friday morning consisted of a last minute decision, two little boys who sat patiently in the waiting room, and a mommy who cried tears of shock. With each boy you have your chances go up that you will have more! My heart was totally prepared for another boy. It seemed to make sense. I only have boys. I know how to do this well (at least mostly well) and I have really just got the hang of how to deal with them, relate with them, let them get dirty, and all the rest.

Well, BOY was I surprised! We are having a GIRL! We went in thinking maybe we would get the gender in an envelope, get someone to bake us a cake with pink or blue inside or do some other crazy trick to get the reveal, but God knew it would be shock enough to find out in that moment. The ultrasound tech agreed to tell us right away before she performed the whole scan. It was almost instant that the baby made it possible to see... that she indeed was a GIRL! I was soo incredibly shocked. I started to cry, I covered my face and said, "No way! Are you serious?!" Anthony then started to cry because he thought I was sad. Patrick had to comfort him... and then had to recover from his own shock that now he was a daddy to a little girl. It was so exciting.

I have thought often of the moment I would get to hold a little girl, dress a little girl and buy a doll for my own daughter. I am dreading the differences I will have to adjust to with raising a daughter, but I really couldn't be more thrilled. Someone to have around to braid their hair, paint their nails, and dress up with bows and in lavendar. I still don't believe it.

The world has really attacked the dignity of the woman. I feel now I will be challenged with something much different than raising young holy men, but now, I will have to battle the messages that will be sent to her about the very being she was created to be, a daughter of God. I feel I need to pray much for her already. I have fought the battles myself and continue to as a mother and wife. What an opportunity! Fighting the good fight so she always knows she is worth so much. Thank you, Jesus, for my sweet baby girl.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trying not to miss the opportunity

I am praying in many difficult moments. Trying to reflect on the daily gospel. I am praying when I am awake in the middle of the night. I am praying when I feel impatient and tired, when I have a headache and when my whole day consists of a sick child that I have to walk around on my shoulder while watching my house fall to pieces. I am praying in the many moments when I am not sure where I will be in the next fews months.

I am trying to not miss the opportunity to be sanctified at this time. It seems our Lord has asked us to surrender everything at this moment. I imagine these are the moments I will turn around and look at and remember the sweetness of being so out of control... of everything. I imagine he likes us best there, where we only have him to rely on. But, it is so very difficult.

In these moments where control is gone, there is so much sweetness in raising these three little boys, in feeling a small little one move around for the first time in my belly, and of learning how to use the one free minute I have each day for something worthwhile, of making the best of grocery money so I don't run out, of cleaning what I can and leaving the rest to be a disaster and trying not to care. Trying to grab on to the lessons I need to learn, the sweet children I have to enjoy and the husband who works so hard for us.

So, praying to be sanctified through every moment. Trying to pray. And trying to raise these adorable guys and enjoy it before it passes away.

These faces keep me going every day.

Adam has started walking. Finally at 16 months, and he never stops. He is working very hard on speaking, but only has a handful of words that are hard to figure out unless you are his parent. He says, "Da," "ba" for grape (i think because it looks like a ball), "caar" "cracka," and "ess" for YES. He giggles constantly. The picture below is a pretty good shot of what he looks like 75% of the day. He smiles with that little scrunched up nose and I just love it. He is into EVERYTHING. He shocks me every day. He climbs into the toilet, empties cabinets, pulls books off the shelf, steals toys from the older boys, climbs on everything, tries to open the fridge, empties the panty, and the list goes on. I have not seen him sit and play with one thing for longer than 30 seconds. He is quite the challenge. I do nothing but referee him most of the day. It is a great 2 hours when he naps. I wouldn't survive without that time to reboot myself to chase him once again when he wakes up. Adam is my joy. He is my trouble maker and my determined, never defeated warrior of it all.

Anthony just turned 3. He is just about the sweetest guy I have ever met. You can see it below in his eyes. He just wants to be hugged. He feels very deeply. His sad is very sad and his happy is overwhelming. He has begun to tell me stories more and more every day, his imagination is growing like rapid fire and he loves to eat. Every night at dinner I can always count on him trying everything I give him, loving it, saying "MMM" out loud and finishing it all... but slowly. He is always the last one done. He loves to be praised and hates to get in trouble. He is definitely the most sensitive of the bunch. He likes to drag things out, takes his time and right now, we are working very hard on listening. Last night as I bathed him, he looked at me for a good 5 seconds and then said, You have blue eyes, Mom. Can I touch them?" To anyone else it would've been weird, but to me, I knew without a doubt, Anthony was giving me a compliment. I so appreciate that he is so observant. He is going to be awesome with the new baby. Every day he is kissing and hugging my belly and continues to tell me that I am getting, "'Bigga, bigga, bigga" (bigger). He wants the baby to be here now and he wants it to be a boy. He is exceptionally sweet and exceptionally trouble!

Gabriel, my oldest and most responsible. He can sometimes come across as a little boss man or controlling, but the bottom line is, he is the oldest, he likes order, he likes to help and he really likes to make sure things run smoothly (his way!) I have begun to appreciate it more and more. He is supremely observant and checks on things, watches out for his brothers, and keeps them in line as best he can... and I have to say that most of the time it is truly out of care. He does not forget anything. I am shocked daily when he tells me stories in detail about when he was one, two or three years old. He is always right on and remembers much better than I about events and great moments of his life. He is super athletic, a really fast runner and a quick learner. He had been asking us to buy him legos for about a year now and my mom finally bought him some... he put everything together on his own... every small intricate piece with the guidance of Patrick showing him the directions... I feel bad it took us a year (but legos are for 6 years and up). He LOVES power rangers and ninjas and loves to pretend fight. He has begun to fold laundry with me and empties the dishwasher. I have realized the pride he takes in having jobs and duties and I am encouraged as mom to keep it up and never underestimate little hands and feet to help me. He wants the new baby to be a girl and has given me many name suggestions and wants to change diapers (sure, dude!) Gabriel is my absolute caretaker and such a little gentlemen.

They sanctify me in all their strengths and in all their weaknesses. I realize more each day I am with them how much of myself I need to improve on so they will learn to love better. They have also made me realize that children are such a gift. Recently I have been asked so often if I will have more children if this one is not a girl. Of course I will. It's not about that. It's about each one, boy or girl, who are so unique and so different and so special in their own way that God made them. Another boy isn't just another boy. They are each so amazing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A reflection for a tough few months

"The decision about the number of children and the sacrifices to be made for them must not be taken only with a view to adding comfort and preserving a peaceful existence. Reflecting upon this matter before God, with the graces drawn from the sacrament, and guided by the teaching of the Church, parents will remind themselves that it is certainly less serious to deny their children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters who could help them to grow in humanity and to realize the beauty of life at all ages and in all its variety" (1979). Blessed Pope John Paul II

I am glad that JPII can always put us in our place. It has been tough being pregnant this time around. The migraines have done me in. The exhaustion, sick kids, and finances have caused stress and worries. But, the moment is always passing. The grace is always there for that moment and we get through it. And when I worry about what I can not give to them, I love to be refocused on what I am giving them: one another. I feel certain nothing can ever be more important than that. If my only goal is to teach them love, well then, the school of siblings is the best. A teacher of selfless love, helping one another, pitching in, feeling part of something bigger than yourself, having friendship and companions, having more people in your daily life to love and love you. I can't see that anything would weigh heavier than love. In the end, that is all that remains anyway.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


"You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” - St. Teresa of Avila

Today on the feast of St. Teresa I saw that someone had this quote on their facebook wall. It seems that quotes from saints are one of the only reasons I tend to keep my account... I just love reflecting on them. I like to be deep. My heart doesn't have trouble going there.

I was reminded today to ask more. In the midst of kids, my sweet husband, helping to run this school, and feeling pretty terrible, I have forgotten to ask help from Jesus. I am in constant need... a place He loves me to be, so He can be needed more. And I'll be darned if I haven't asked. 

I need help, Lord. I need more patience, to learn to lower my voice when correcting my kids. I need help. I need your healing power to keep me well, so I can take care of my children for each long day they are in my care. I need help encouraging and supporting my husband as he finds where God wants him to be. 

I resolve to ask more. To ask bigger. And to ask more specifically. You are Lord. You can do it if You will. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The promise I made...

I found this when I was cleaning out my disaster of a closet/office/trash room/storage. It appears to be more of an office now, at least when I can keep the door closed. I found many treasures, but this was the greatest.

I had committed myself to this promise so often while growing up, while learning what chastity was, while struggling through high school and college with the peer pressure and the expectations so many guys had and what I thought could give me worth. Confession was the only thing that actually got me through. Continuing to renew myself, so failure would never happen. Continuing to have Christ remind me that even in the struggle, I could get back up and still keep my eyes on the prize. I offered every moment for a man who would do the same.

The last time I signed one of these cards was on the date you see below, 7-8-02... considering the amazing party that followed our wedding Mass on 7-7-07, this promise was made exactly 5 years before I gave myself away for the first time. Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy, and the undeserved grace to make this happen. There is not a day that goes by that I am not overwhelmed with gratitude that God saw me through this promise.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pope Francis stirs things up...

Last night I went to a talk. It was a miracle I made it. These pregnancy migraines have really done me in this time. I am praying for a reprieve. Thanks to Jenny who drove me. Tonight for the first time, I do not feel nauseous. I cannot remember the last time I didn't feel as if I was on the verge of gagging. I am not sure if it will last... but I know well that the first sign of relief means the end is in sight... I pray Mary chose well with my suffering this time... I know she did.

So... back to Pope Francis. It was beautiful how Fr. Edward explained how this Pope of ours has come to be the third step in a series of three. He reflected on the way that JPII spoke to the will, Benedict spoke to the mind, and Pope Francis now speaks to the heart. He is using the media in such a creative and strategic way. He is not only teaching the world, but at the same time, guiding the media... to be reminded that not only does the Church focus too much on contraception, abortion and same sex marriage, BUT SO DO THEY! He is finding a way to bring back the love and mercy of God to the media. It is a message lost behind the many doctrines and teachings. We're getting back to the basics.

We were reminded last night that our Pope is encouraging us to not be satisfied in our bubble of Catholics or even Christians, but to go out, to make contact with those who have never experienced the love of God. The most prominent point here is... there is never conversion without the experience of love. And there is always conversion with the experience of God's mercy. This is what we are being called to bring back to the souls in our path... and those that may not be so close to our path. We must go out.

JPII led us back to the Church by reminding us its beauty and setting our hearts on fire to change. Benedict taught us with his intellectually stimulating letters and books and by his humility... and now... Pope Francis shows us that you must walk beside those who do not know Christ, get to know them, hear of their brokeness, and then share the mercy of God with them. Today, people have forgot that Christ has died for them. They need to know.

It has always been true for me... and probably for you too. There is nothing I have ever done for Christ without remembering His mercy. He has saved me from so much. He has loved me so much. He has so loved me.

I am forever grateful that I chose St. Margaret Mary Alocoque as my confirmation name so many years ago... at the time, I did not realize what a great treasure she is to me... and to the Church. The message Christ gave her is the same one we are hearing from Pope Francis. The heart of Jesus burns for us. His sacred heart wants nothing more than our love.

It is all very simple. We must love better and bigger every day. We must love our husbands and our children and be patient with them. And then we must be courageous enough to share God's mercy with the world.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Let the children come to me...

I brought the boys for a quick visit to Jesus the other day.

No one was in the chapel... every mom's relief when she goes to visit Jesus with three little boys.

They ran in. I cautioned them to slow down, no running.

I explained like I always do that Jesus was there in the tabernacle. I suggested they talk to Him. 

Well, they got really really close. I cautioned them, "Not so close, guys." But, why? Why not up there right next to him, sitting on their knees? Talking to him like a best friend? Or a father? Their dad doesn't tell them to back up when they come to sit at his feet to talk or listen. So, I let them be. And as always, my children taught me something in their great simplicity. We must always come to Him like a child. Up close. So close. And sit at his feet. That is where He wants us. I am certain. So, I took a picture as to not forget this lesson they taught me.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me through these little souls. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

He's in control, baby

It just so happens that when you ask the good Lord for something, He gives it to you...  I feel like in the moments of my day where I do have time to pray, I am always asking him with a sincere heart to take my life and do whatever He wants with it. I use to be somewhat of a control freak, very anxious, wanting everything perfect and very impatient about it. It's still in there. But He has a way of sanctifying all that we are, especially when we ask. He strips us of everything to fill us up with holiness and self sacrifice to make us more like Him.

I love the homily Fr. Steve gave last week at Mass. He was speaking of rituals young boys have gone through throughout history to be initiated as a man. There was 4 common goals in these rituals and he compared them to the Christian life. (Because, yes, being a real man and a Christian are certainly two high standards that have much in common). He listed them as such: 1) Life is hard  2) You will die  3)You are not as important as you think you are  4) Your life is not about you

It was all very inspiring. And a great reminder to me of what the Christian path looks like. It's not about me. It's a total self giving, self sacrificial life. One point I have been reflecting on about self giving is self giving in marriage in particular. One of the easiest "rules" or should I say "teachings" of the Church for me has always been the issue of birth control. By its very nature, my heart has always understood on a very practical level and also a very spiritual level the meaning and depth behind this law. It is not in our right to take the gift of fertility out of the hands of God and into ours. Along with the harm it does to our bodies, the chance of chemical induced abortions that are caused by the pill, and the way it destroys marriages, taking out the "possibility of life" and leaving only the pleasure to remain. But, I have to say that now, more than ever this has been a challenge for me... not because my understanding has gone away, but because I have come to a point of real surrender to God. I am in a moment where I am exposed, out of control, and in a place I could argue (maybe), I did not choose.

This has left me scrambling for answers. How do I explain now that NFP works? Especially if I followed the rules. How do I explain now that I am not an idiot? Or irresponsible? But, then I realize, these are not the questions I need to be asking. It is not about NFP. It is not about what others think or even what I think of myself. It is about God. It is about trusting in Him. It is about letting all my control go and letting Him choose what is best for me even when I discern something different. It is a complete surrender to His divine plan. A plan that He hopes will make us more like Him. "This is my body, given up for you."

It will take me a lifetime to figure out how to surrender. Holiness comes slowly. It comes very
s l o w l y. When I pray for a generous heart, at this moment, he is not allowing me to cook more meals for people who are struggling. When I pray for more patience, he does not only want me to be better at waiting in line. When I pray for everything to be in order, his order is different than my idea of order. Generosity comes from allowing him to take my life, however he wants to. Patience comes from waiting for 16 weeks to feel better from morning sickness, and another 24 to get through the back discomfort, the restless legs and the heartburn. The order he wants, it must come from me ordering my life through the tiny souls He has entrusted me and the daily tasks to help them survive.

Baby Bentley #4 is due April 3rd. Our most unexpected expectation! After a week of tears, I came to realize more than ever the gift and miracle that I have been entrusted with... and that life is hard, I am going to die, it's not about me and I am certainly not as important as I think. On the other hand, to God I am so important... so much so that He made no mistake in giving me this gift. So, now I accept it with a full and open heart.

Thank you to a husband who celebrates, pulls SO much weight and just loves on me every single time we find out we are expecting. For a man who has no limits in his giving. Already, he lets me nap more, makes me eggs the moment I wake up to help curve the sickness, and pushes through those difficult moments of kitchen clean up and dirty diapers for Adam. I could not manage this path of fidelity to God without you. It is very hard. But, it is an eternal soul, who will exist for all time. My child is worth mountains of sacrifice and love and suffering.

I want to offer this pregnancy for some intentions very close to my heart. For those who have been told they may no longer have babies. For those who want a child so badly and can not. For those who have a difficult time conceiving. For those who have recently had a miscarriage. For those who lack appreciation for their fertility. And lastly, for those who are pregnant often, struggling through the tired and sickness, the acceptance and the appreciation for this gift.

Lastly, I will leave you with a part of a beautiful letter a friend sent to me when I expressed I was struggling this time... so tired and so confused at God's plan... she sent me part of a writing by a very holy priest, Fr. Jacques Philippe.

"If we decide to make an effort to achieve some spiritual progress according to our ideas and our own criteria, we are by no means sure to succeed.  As we have seen, there is sometimes a big difference between what God is actually asking of us, and what we imagine he is asking.  We won't have the grace to do what God is not asking of us.  But for what he is asking, he has promised us his grace: God grants what he commands.  When God inspires us to do something (if it really is God who is the source of that inspiration), at the same time he supplies the ability to do it, even if it is beyond our capacity or scares us at the start.  Every motion that comes from God brings both the light to understand what God intends, and the strength to accomplish it: light that illuminates the mind, and strength that gives power to the will."

Let's do this. Totus Tuus. I am totally yours, Lord.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Trying to leave a legacy... of boys.

It is not uncommon to have pj parties, horse riding parties and dance parties in the evenings at our home!
Our youngest and craziest. The hair tells all. He is into everything. He empties the pantry, the cabinets, the toy box and loves to play in the toilet. One toilets now has a gate around it in our home.

Brotherly love.
I just love his cheeks and those little lips.
I love that we have a priest in the family. It is a gift that I will only know the graces from when we enter Heaven. I feel assured that Uncle Fr. Eddie will be key in their discernment of their vocation. He skiis, he eats hotdogs, he plays games, and he celebrates Mass! Just being around him brings so many questions already.

Their dad is their hero. They just adore him. Behind all good men is an amazing father.
Silly goose.
Adam turned one! Sang and ate cake on the dock with all 11 cousins. Couldn't have been better!
Fishing at sunset. I just LOVE this picture. Gotta frame it.

My oldest, who is only 4, skiied for the first time. He is fearless when is comes to water. Always has been. We call him our little Michael Phelps.

I want them to learn to love. I want them to know what respect is and how to take care of what they have, whether its a little or a lot. I want them to know how important their siblings are and the value in taking care of one another. I want them to learn patience and perseverance. I want them to have a great appreciation for life. I want them to know how to ski and fish and swim and run and jump. I want them to set goals and keep their hearts fixed on accomplishing them, even if they are small. I want them to appreciate their time together and always love to dance. I want them to know Jesus. Really know him. In an intimate way. So they speak to Him every day. I want them to know how much their dad and I love them. Because we really do. I want them to know that even though we have weak moments and sometimes are impatient and sometimes are grumpy, that that's not the standard to live by. I want them to know that the Church and all it teaches is the greatest gift they are given as a compass in life. I want them to know how hard I have worked to start this school, so one day they will appreciate the time they have had at home, to learn and be together. I want them to know that they are worth something and God created them for a purpose, a vocation, a very specific way to love. I want to leave a legacy of these three young men behind one day. Three young men (and maybe more) who know how to be a real man, who love Jesus, and know Love in the spiritual sense and the human sense.

Praying today for all parents. Those who are struggling to fight the values the world uphold. For those who are not able to be with their kids often. For those who have husbands deployed. For those who are just simply fighting the good fight. And I pray for the grace to help guide my little souls to all good things.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Love your husband... the rest will follow...

Patrick and I just celebrated our 6th anniversary. It has flown. I say that... but, we have moved 2 times, had 3 babies, held 6 different jobs between the two of us to make ends meat, and got a PhD... and now, we are starting a school. God has provided soo much. I look back and cannot believe the countless graces, unexpected gifts, and amazing joy He has given to us. It has been tough and we have both worked hard, but every moment has sanctified and brought us closer to Our Lord Jesus.

About a month ago I was asking advice from someone I really respect about a certain situation in my life that I have been struggling with. I asked, "What should I do? What should I say? How do I act? Should I make a phone call about it? Should I yell about it? How can I make a difference?" She told me she knew exactly what I should do. First, stop worrying about it. Anxiety and fear never comes from God. Second, when the time does come, an honest open heart and a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit would do it. Don't make big plans to say grand things. God will help me. And lastly, she told me she had the key to everything. Drumroll, I thought to myself. I am ready for the magically and life changing answer. She told me that if I ever wanted to make a difference in anyone's life, that I need to love my husband as best I could. To make him first and foremost (next to Jesus of course) and that the rest would follow. That is all. That is what changes the world. Love my husband.

Thankful for the vocation of wife and mother today. Praying to be more faithful every day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There are have been so many graces, but here is the first one...

It was one year ago on May 13th that I began my consecration to the Blessed Mother. I chose the 13th of May because it is rare a consecration would begin on that day, since the important detail is that your consecration ends on a feast day of the Blessed Virgin... and last year I took advantage of beginning on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. She is near and dear to me mostly because of the experience I had during my pregnancy with Gabriel... which I am happy to share in another post...

So, she never does allow us to outdo her in generosity. She has continued to bless me and give me many special graces during this month where I am celebrating my anniversary to giving my whole life over to Jesus through her. Just a few graces include a random visit to the chapel at EWTN, which we did not intend to do at all, Patrick's graduation from Vanderbilt, a new lake house which our family will spend many summers enjoying, but a place I also believe will be a place for many to find Christ. And lastly a recent detox, which I am almost certain rid my body of a parasite, which has been plaguing me for a few years now... my life is truly changed because of it. I have been in a constant state of struggle with my stomach for as long as I can remember. God is good. So, let me tell you how the month long anniversary began... it is the first grace of all the others...

I was on my way to the park about mid April and got pulled over by a cop car. What a humbling experience with your kids in the car. I have warned them time and time again that the police officer would get them if they were not buckled, didn't stop crying or didn't go to sleep at nap time. And now, look at me. I wasn't speeding. So, what did I do? I was being stopped because my back taillight was out. We meant to fix it but we were away most of the weekend running a retreat so put it off till the next week. It wasn't until he got out of his car and walked closer that my heart stopped beating and my breathing got heavy and I started sweating. I was not certain that my license had been renewed after I had turned 30 the week before. Patrick and I had a conversation that went something like, I will do it for you, ok, but if you really don't have time just tell me what website to go to and I got it. So, did it get done? We would find out soon. Nope. I was driving my three kids around without a license. Not only did the officer hold me there for 45 minutes but he proceeded to take a picture of me, take my prints and give me a court date. What was happening? I am going to court, I thought. No. I had to explain to my kids what had happened and that I wasn't a bad guy and that he wasn't taking me to jail. Then he let me go. We missed our play date at the park and ate our chick fil a picnic in the living room that day. Patrick came home to fix the light and renewed my license online about 30 seconds after I got home. Now, I had a court date. It was the Monday morning after graduation and on the feast of our lady of Fatima. This was the anniversary of the day I began my consecration to the blessed mother last year. I am not sure what she had up her sleeve but I wasn't being receptive to finding out.

What happened on Monday when I went to court was for me another reminder of the way God infuses his grace into my life. He never allows us to outdo him in generosity. It is a great mystery to me how he takes the simplest prayer, the lowliest person, the smallest opening in our hearts and moves mountains. So, let me tell you what happened. 

I arrived like the officer told me to at 6:30am, which meant I woke up at 5am, drug my kids out of bed and over to Jenny's house and Patrick, Adam and I drove downtown. I was third in line and thought, this is going to be a breeze. No prob. Just show them my renewed license and be on my way. They let me in, booked me, took my mug shot, and spent 20 minutes trying to get my prints. The officer ran my fingers and hands over the equipment about 25 times each... With no success and finally gave up and stuck with the partial prints he had. My hands were too dry to get prints. All those dishes did me in. He said he had never seen that before in his life. Afterward my hands were numb and swollen from the amount of times he pushed my little hands over the machine, shoving, pushing, pulling, spraying my hands to get something to work. I finally was told to go to courtroom 1A. I headed down there with Patrick, realized it didn't open till 8am and sent Patrick to get me food. By 8 I headed in, sat like a sardine in the middle of a bunch of smelly people and waited. No judge. 9:30 rolls around and the room is filling up. Still hadn't called me. I snuck into the bathroom stall to eat because they would've taken my food. And then proceeded to nurse Adam in the stall as well because there was nowhere to sit anywhere to nurse. Patrick stood outside the courtroom door to make sure I didn't miss my call and so I wouldn't be placed at the bottom of the pile. I sent them home. I knew it was going to be a long day. 

I waited as patiently as I could. Hours went by. The room continued to fill up. They continued to call names, but not mine. The judge was in and out. The people were restless. The room was tense. I prayed. I was so frustrated. I decided to take advantage of the moments I had there, alone and still. I prayed the rosary. I wished I had a book. I prayed some more. I made really good resolutions. I missed my kids. It was so hot in there. I prayed more. And then, I began to receive lights from God. A year ago I had consecrated myself to the Blessed Virgin, promising her that all of my prayers, sufferings, and everything else would be hers to do what she would like with. In that moment, she told me about the poor souls in purgatory. They awaited the just judge. It was hot. It was crowded. It was a time of impatience. This is what it will be like and you do not want to go there. The judge began to call people up and explain to them that they were there because of their own choice, their own doing. He sentenced them with all sorts of crazy things, from essays, to never going to a wal mart again in their entire life, to taking away their licenses and sending them to jail. What was I doing here? I continued to pray. I just wanted to go home. I knew at that moment that that desire to be home was the desire everyone feels in purgatory. They just want to be where they belong. I saw the sorrow in their faces. I saw the regret. I saw that they did not know that anyone loved them. Charges were called out. Trespassing, simple possession, theft, indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, driving with a suspended license. The consequences hurt. What was I doing in the same room? I did not want to be in there. I was given a newfound desire for Heaven, for skipping purgatory, for pulling myself closer to Christ, and most especially for praying for the poor souls in purgatory. It was all very real to me being there. It was scary. And it was a moment of grace.

It took 5 hours for them to call me up, ask for my renewed license, sign some paper and say, "thank you, Mrs. Bentley, your case has been dismissed, you may go now." I ran out of there as fast as I have ever ran out of anywhere. I called Patrick and begged he come to get me right away. I told him to call me so I could tell him where I was. I wanted to run. I have no sense of direction so I took off in the middle of downtown, heading nowhere. I wondered if I could be smart enough to find my way to St. Mary's so I could pray a while, but was certain that it would be locked.  As I continued on my way, I started to hear the bells ringing. I followed them. I ran faster ad faster! And found the church. It was open and when I walked in, Mass was beginning. I called Patrick to let him know I would be going to Mass. I sat down and cried. What a long morning! What a long run! And now, Mass! The moment I knelt down, I looked up at Mary and she made it clear that I had to go to court, so she could get me alone with her Son. I cannot remember the last time I was able to go to Mass alone. She reminded me that Our Lord would not be outdone I generosity and that He certainly remembered that I had consecrated myself to her. 

To put the icing on the cake, Fr. Baker was there to celebrate Mass and his homily spoke of the message of Our Lady of Fatima. How her appearance and her story and her message reminds us that as old fashioned as the modern world thinks the spiritual life to be, that truth shows it has meaning and influence on the temporal world. It matters. Prayer matters. It is real. We can not underestimate it. It was a huge grace. My favorite feast day. The day I began the consecration. She answered a pray for me that I have had in the depths of my heart so often lately... which is a deep desire to be alone with The Lord just for a moment in the silence, and most especially in the Mass. Thank you, Mary. 

Friday, May 3, 2013


I feel as if I could speak of this beauty until I am blue in the face. But on the other hand, I have accepted with my whole heart that it's OK if I do... because God has given me and my husband a special grace to understand His hope and desire for married love... not in its perfection or completeness, but in its joys and simplicity. And one that we will continue to learn as we grow old together on this adventure.

Adam was army crawling across the floor downstairs tonight and I looked over the balcony, called his name and said, "Hi, buddy!" His little eyes darted all around looking for his Mommy. He finally found me, looked up, gave the absolute sweetest little smile and then put his little hand in the air in a fist, which to him meant he waved. Patrick smiled up at me and instantly responded with, "We made him. He is amazing." My eyes started to water. How is it that Patrick gets it like I do? How is it that he gets it?

When he said that to me, it meant much more than "our kids are awesome." It meant, we have a gift in our marriage to create eternal souls... and we will never take it for granted, sterilize it, or destroy it. What we had discussed two weeks earlier in our Mom's Book Club came back to me. As mothers we are called to be receptive... we are to always say, "Yes, Lord" whether it be "Yes, I accept a child" or "Yes, I accept that now is not the best time to have a child" or "Yes, even though you have given us a child, you may take them away." In those moments of speaking with my friends we spoke about how it is not only us moms who are called to receptivity, but our amazing husbands have also taken on this vocation, and it is a beautiful experience as a woman to have a man stand beside you in this receptivity. God's plan for married love. It can not be separated from marriage and I am sure that this is why so many marriages are ending. Life does not continue to connect them.

Today I overhead some ladies speaking. I heard at least two of them state that if they knew for sure they would receive another child of a certain gender, then they would have another baby, but since they could not be certain, they probably would not attempt in case they failed. I had to do a double take. It was as if I was hearing them say, "Oh, I already have a red pair of shoes, so if you are giving me another pair of red ones, I don't want them, even if they are a free gift. BUT, on the other hand, if they are blue, then for sure, hand 'em over now." Children are not accessories. You don't have them to get one of each, you have them to teach them the love of Christ, so more people will then know the love of Christ! I did hold my tongue, but my heart hurt.

I get frustrated. I have to watch out for my judgements of others. I have to make sure I place an understanding there. Lord, allow me to be understanding. I have to remain being thankful for this grace in my marriage... the grace to "get" God's plan for married love, which is receptivity and joy, a joy that carries a heavy cross, but still, a great joy in being open to the gift of life.

All this being said, I am not pregnant. Not today. But, maybe tomorrow. ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's Springtime around here, peeps

For the past two weeks Patrick has been bringing the boys out front to watch a nest, which is situated in a very cozy bush next to our front door. For a while there were 4 beautiful blue and brown eggs. See picture below. We noticed on rainy days the mommy bird would be sitting tall in the nest, protecting her eggs and when the sun was shining, she would wait on the roof of the house next door, keeping close watch. Days went by and to our sadness we did not get to witness the babies hatching out of their eggs, but we sure got a glimpse of them soon after. They were little fur balls, with beaks so small and little eyes that were closed. It was a miracle. I quickly resonated with that joy of waiting so long and then having a child born.

As the days have passed, the little birds have grown so fast. Their eyes have started to open more, their little wings are taking shape and you can even start to hear little cheeps. Each time we go outside, if the mommy bird is not on the roof watching, she is with them. And most of the time if she is on the roof, she is successfully holding some sort of yummy worms, which I suppose is lunch or supper... and as soon as we pull out of the driveway, she swoops down to feed them. I have also many times seen her swoop down to head butt another bird heading in the direction of the babies. It was courageous... and so... maternal!

The boys love when sometimes the babies mistake us for their mommy; we move leaves out of the way to see them and they stick their little heads up and open their beaks real wide. It has been one of those dream science projects that every mom wishes she could create in her back yard. God has sent us the miracle all on His own. It has been a great way to teach our kids about the beauty of life. And a great reminder to me as to how to be a mom... first you feed 'em, then you train 'em, and then you have to let them go... and fly on their own. I already feel sad that one day the little birds will be gone, but I feel proud about it too. There is such a beauty in this life.