When my oldest was a wee thing, I got involved in our parish youth ministry. This was at least partly motivated by the selfish interest of finding local babysitters. Training us was the Director of Lay Ministry, Dave O’Brien. This is one of the reasons that my short stint on the Youth Ministry Team was so significant in my faith life. Dave was one of those people who decided long ago that God mattered most and he jumped into this point of view with both feet. He strives to live his faith radically, choosing extreme simplicity for himself so he can share more with others. His sparse closet could inspire a new reality show on TLC: Extreme Simplicity
In these hard financial times, one of the greatest sacrifices we made turned out to be the greatest blessing. I was very upset to find myself pregnant and unable to see my usual, pro-life obstetrician because of our insurance changes. The new, low-budget insurance continually pointed me to a pro-choice clinic that put me in line to talk to a nurse so I could talk to a doctor weeks later. Already almost 3 months pregnant, my regular doctor began running tests and found that I had some serious complications and needed to get prenatal care ASAP. The clinic’s biggest concern was that I was missing my window for “genetic counseling”, which translates to being able to get an abortion. The distress of feeling like I could not take care of my unborn child, could not get the medical care I needed, could not find a pro-life option, was overwhelming.
When I was little, my mother always told me how old she was. She never said, “It’s not polite to ask.” or “29 forever” or any other evasive answer. As I got older and heard other women refuse to reveal their age, I asked my mom why she was so practical about this hot-button topic.
“Why should I care about that?” she’d reply, “What’s wrong with growing older?” I thank God for this example. My mother tries to look nice. She dyes her hair and cares for her skin. But trying to look a little younger and healthy is not the same as refusing to acknowledge your advancing years to others. There is an honesty and self-acceptance that makes this a beautiful thing. The world may be obsessed with youth, but we don’t have to follow. We must take joy in the journey, all of it. Not fight it.
My life is not simple right now. Pregnant at almost 39 means complications that I’ve never experienced before. Our homeschoolers are going to have to work through the summer to complete this year’s work. Making Music Praying Twice is growing, which is wonderful, but means regular travel and speaking in addition to my usual jobs of teaching, writing and keeping on top of the websites. Of course, life continues to include dance classes, Little League, Tae Kwon Do, choir practice, forensics, physical therapy, etc., etc..
We needed a break. It seemed like trial after trial was coming our way. Amid the normal fears and financial tribulations of running a two-year-old business that we are passionate about, I’m dealing with the hormone shifts of a young pregnancy, and everyone must deal with me while adapting as a family to the changes that came with our 19-year-old niece moving in to help us out as a part-time nanny. Our homeschooled clan is missing Mommy’s attention and the guilt is as powerful as the fatigue and morning sickness. Suddenly, I’m faced with a couple of serious pregnancy complications, and health-insurance nightmares that keep pushing me toward a pro-choice prenatal clinic. Our son is diagnosed with Lyme Disease, and my father-in-law dies of a sudden heart-attack. We are trying to work out doctor’s appointments, plan a last minute 12-hour road trip for a family of seven complete with funeral wardrobe, and deal with the stress. All of these trials are part of the normal storms of life, but it happened all at once.
Years ago, a close friend, the godmother of my youngest daughter, presented me with the Inventory of Charisms by the Catherine of Siena Institute. It was a great opportunity to reflect and think about what God wanted of me based on the Charisms the Holy Spirit had manifested through me in my life. But, in reflecting on where the Lord has led me now, as a wife, mother, and co-founder of Making Music Praying Twice, I find that the inventory brings me to my knees. I need God to fill me with His power with charisms that make up for my failings so I can serve Him better.
So, here are my very personal prayer resolutions:
Christmas is a time for worship, family, and giving. It is also an excellent time for evangelization. The angel told the shepherds at that first Christmas, “I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (NAB Luke 2: 4-5) For all the people. The shepherds were not chosen only as the first witnesses and worshipers but as early evangelists. They were called to spread the Good News! They returned from the Manger, not in silence, but “glorifying and praising God”.