Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Joy & Pain - Like Sunshine & Rain

I like to read the last chapter of books first. It drives family and friends nuts. I like to know how the story plays out it gives me insight to plot line development. When my SIL gives me a book to read she makes me promise to read it in the proper order – from beginning to end.

One of the things I like about Christianity is knowing how the story ends. I love knowing that everything on earth is passing away – that there will be a new heaven and a new earth - that every tear will be wiped away by our Lord – that his people will dwell with him forever – that he is preparing a place for us. It helps me keep perspective when the ship is knocked around by the storm.

Like when OSHA shuts down job sites in Alaska and Washington on the same day, the same day our insurance company is meeting with us and with the client from Hell to determine the legitimacy of his claim. The same day I heard the sad news of a woman who’s husband had died from a fluke accident – the same day I had to tell my son that the paperwork hasn’t come back from the state so he will need to spend a night in foster care. Yet all of these things both difficult and tragic are simply passing tribulations. Even in their midst, I can look with hope to the future confident in the promises of the Lord, and every now and then he gives me a glimpse into that future filled with joy.

Like the simple joy of spending the afternoon with our son, running errands or helping him make a snack (tuna and BBQ sauce sandwich are you kidding me) while I make dinner. Slowing down the busyness of life to simply be with this child. To just listen to him or watch him learn how to pogo, or hold him while he cries telling me that he wishes he could have met the Governor when he was in the Capital so he could have discussed this law she signed that forces him to leave us for a night every ten days.

It’s this time spent that reaches into the future, reaches all the way to eternity. The homes we build will crumble to the ground like so much dust, but my afternoon with my son, attending Mass and an ever so brief adoration, the quite time at home unplugged from the TV, the PSP, the internet and even the radio, these are the milliseconds that will resonate throughout time. This is where the joy of the Lord, the promises of the Lord, the painful echo of paradise lost, and the hope filled ache in the promise of the resurrection touches the earth and we see the shadowy glimpse of what is to come. This is where the love of God manifests in a tangible way and where we come to know that its all true. I’ve read the last chapter of the book it all turns out very well in the end.

Lord bless your people, be our shield and our guide. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Love Your Enemies and Pray for Those Who Persecute You

A few weeks ago I was really angry with God. It was a new emotion for me. I’m young in the faith and I have all the immaturities that come with youth. Lack of experience and often I lack depth in my understanding of the Christian faith. In my short Christian walk I’ve been blessed to have most of my prayers answered in ways I can see and understand, until recently.

Hubby and I have a manufacturing business that supplies the construction trade. Our margins aren’t huge and when a client(s) stiff us it can have a big impact. For the last two years we’ve had a really bad patch of clients stiffing us. We’ve been shortchanged several hundred thousand dollars in the last couple of years. Sue them you say, we’ve tried. It costs more to do so than you get in the end, and besides the courts do what ever they want anyway, so it’s not very productive. We’ve had to let go of fifty percent of our work force to try to keep the doors open and pay what we owe our suppliers on these jobs.

Add to this mix the worst client we’ve ever had, period. We’ve been trying to complete this job for over two years. This dude is so nuts that on the day we have a crew of men flying cross country to complete his installation and a truck of materials for his job on the road headed to his job site, he spent the entire day obsessively calling everyone he could to attempt to turn the truck around telling all who would listen that he would refuse delivery. Just one small example of the insanity.

Hubby led the crew on this site because the situation was so volatile he felt he needed to be there personally and he was on the road for most of May. I prayed and prayed. I did two St. Jude novenas, and since the men were still on site I added the three day novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I fasted for the last three days the men were on site all the while asking for a miracle on this job. Praying that when we left the job we would be done with this guy and be able to move on with our lives. Praying that his dark countenance would not cloud our horizon ever again.

It was not to be. His wrangling and pot stirring of late includes impersonating us with our insurer in an attempt to have them reimburse him for the entire cost of the job, contacting the State of California in an attempt to have our licensure revoked, filing a claim against our bond, and pot stirring with his bank in an attempt to have the payments already made reversed and the all the money he has paid to date returned to him. Yes, this fella is a gem. Frankly the cost of defending ourselves against him, or if he is able to get the full cost of his job reimbursed could very well spell the end of our company. It’s a desperate situation. Ridiculous you say, so say the people of California about gay marriage, but look how that one turned out. Very weird things happen in business and in the courts.

For a while I was just plain mad at God, ticked off, really perturbed, ornery even. He can walk on water for Pete’s sake, drive out legion in an afternoon, speak and calm the waters, what’s one little Californian nut job to him? I dare say it may be the first no I’ve ever heard from my heavenly Father.

So what am I left with, a situation that is stretching me and challenging my commitment to this Christian walk. God appears to be mute on the matter, and my prayers for an end to this madness go unanswered. All I’m left with is faith in the unseen, faith that all things really do work together for good for those who love the Lord. I’m left with faith that God will fight this battle for me, faith that his justice will prevail. Faith that my feeble little prayers for the salvation of the souls of this client who is persecuting us will be answered, and faith that my sacrifices on their behalf and pitiful attempts at fasting for their salvation and for deliverance will be acceptable to the Lord. I'll let you know how it turns out.

St. Michael the archangel, defend us in battle.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Drunk Guy at Applebee’s and Christian Unity

Hubby and I went for a quick cocktail and appetizer at Applebee’s last evening. He had been out shopping for Tony Hawk bedding (how cute is that) for our son who is moving in for good TOMORROW, and he asked me to join him for a drink before we headed home. We’re thinking the quickie cocktail date on the fly may be a thing of the past for a while, so “OK I’ll meet you there”.

The place is surprisingly busy for a Monday evening at 9:00pm so we take a seat at the bar. Plus the bartender has met Jesse (she is related to one of the DHS people) so we wanted to give her some additional dish on developments. Anyhow, the guys sitting next to us are having an interesting conversation about religion, during which the lit up one slurs. “Catholics are the worst”, to which I laugh out loud and Hubby interjects, “We are hah”?

The sober one makes appropriate “nothing personal” noises, but the drunken one isn’t done.

“When my parents got divorced my mother had to make me a bastard in order to go back to Church, and the Church is full of hypocrites, and the Catholics are the WORST”.

I tell him he is mistaken, the Church did not make him a bastard (no he’s doing that all on his own I’m thinking). He rants off a bit more about religion in general and Catholics in particular and it occurs to me he is a man in some pain. It occurs to me as he rattles on about the hypocrisy of cafeteria Catholics that while he is not well educated in the faith he knows enough to know that Christians are called to follow the Lord in word and deed, and he’s been watching the Catholics around him. I realize Archbishop Fulton Sheen is right, people don’t hate the faith, they hate what they think they know, or they hate the Catholic people who have hurt them, or who knows what, but it’s not the Catholic faith they hate, they don’t know the faith, how can they hate it?

The same prejudices apply to Protestant attacks on the Church that tend to be based on ignorance of Catholic teaching, but mark my word, Protestants are watching the Catholics around them looking to see if we follow the teaching of the Church. Making their assesment of the Church based upon the way we live our lives.

People are in pain out there and they want to know the truth. My drunken friend on the bar stool wants the faith to mean something, he wants to cling to the Lord, he wants the witness of Catholics who have closed the cafeteria, he wants to come home and be reconciled to God. If he did not he would have nothing to say on the matter whatsoever, it would not even cross his mind. People are only angry when they care about something. Could it be that those who attack the Church really just what to know - is she who she says she is? Can she bring Jesus into the world, can I trust her, can anyone tell me this business of virtue and faith and healing and love is true, is she Christ’s body?

Is God there? That was certainly Jesse’s question last Sunday as we took him to his first Mass. We told him yes, and showed him the red lantern lit to let him know God was in the house. Now will we show him day in day out that yes, it’s all true, God is love, he loves you and wants you to live with him forever, will we teach him the faith, will he learn and internalize a loving relationship with Jesus so that when the storms of life come he has safe harbor strong in the knowledge that Christ weathered storms too, or will he be hurt by our hypocrisy and end up on a bar stool lamenting his disillusionment?

I pray we teach him that our failures are our own not those God and that we may fail a million times, but that Jesus forgives a million and one if we but repent and ask his forgivness.

Lord teach us to love others as you love us, teach us to pray for our enemies and those who attack us, have mercy on us and teach us to be merciful with others. Amen.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What about you Mom?

It happened today. The day I’ve been waiting 18 years for, and it was caught on tape. Jesse was goofing off recording video with the cell phone and turned and asked, “what about you Mom”? I keep my composure, but when he and Hubby were occupied I watched the video about five times.

I’ve been called mom before, when I’m out with the nieces and nephews and people assume I am their mother, or when they’re goofing off they will call me mom, but until today I’ve never been called mom by my child.

As we were discussing the day Hubby teared up over the moment, not over being called Dad, which he was, over me being called Mom. My sweet husband watched the little snippet of video with me about five more times and he cried.

It tells me that all those years when he held me as I sobbed from the depth of my soul over the loss of our children, over the loss every twenty eight days of the dream of having a family, as he watched me wrestle with the dizzying array of choices on the path to motherhood he felt my pain. He was with me, holding my heart in his hands loving me in the way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church Eph 5:28-29 well before either of us had a clue what that meant. What a blessing.

Thank you Lord for this little boy. Help us to model your loving kindness in our home. Guide us as we all learn to become a family. Pour out your mercy and love on his natural parents, open their hearts to the ocean of your love and forgiveness. I ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Boy Likes Rap

So it begins, the parenting I mean. The kid hasn’t moved in yet, but I’ve spent several hours on line educating myself about Rap music, something I personally could care less about, until now. I suppose he identifies with the pain in this music, even Christian Rap is full of pain. I’m hoping we can redirect him to more hopeful musical messages.

He wants to change his name, first middle and last. It’s not uncommon for kids from abusive backgrounds to want to change their name, I’m told it helps them to feel safe, makes them feel like they won’t be found by their abusive families.

“What would you like to change your name to?”

“Soulja Boy.”

“I don’t think so.”

How would that play out fifty years from now? “Grandpa Soulja Boy, can we go to the park today?” Somehow I just don’t think so. “How did you get the name Soulja Boy?” “Well my parents let me change my name when I was adopted.” Ah, No.

It’s a very interesting thing to come into a child’s life – as a parent – midstream. It’s interesting not having any sense of his personality. What will be the best way to influence him? What are his likes and dislikes, aside from Rap music? How will we teach him about God? Certainly the child knows about sin and its destructive impact. Will he be open to Jesus’ healing, because ultimately it will be Jesus who heals this boys hurts, not us. I just pray that we are humble enough to allow him to work through us keeping in mind that we are just bit players in God’s plan of salvation. I’m hoping Hubby and I remember that WE need to cling to the Lord in the weeks and months to come because I have a feeling that like everything in life this ride could get a bit rocky from time to time.

Lord be our light and our guide, lead us by your path. Keep us from sin and protect us from all anxiety. Amen.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Homemaking Arts

I don’t have a great deal of experience with homemaking skills, but I’ve noticed that the more time I spend caring for my home and my husband the happier I am. I have a whole list of “retirement” skills I would like to develop that include sewing, gardening, quilting, and just this weekend I was talking to Hubby about learning to can.

I live in a rural area and I always enjoy the 4H projects at the county fair, but I grew up in the burbs and have never canned a thing in my life, so imagine my delight when I stumbled across this blog about canning today. I found her via a link at Home Schooling With Joy.

Peggy at The Simple Woman’s Cannery blog is having a gift away for some canning essentials and so I’ve joined in the fun. How cool is that for a summer starter!!

St. Anne patron of homemakers, pray for us.