Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My in-laws are still living: my father-in-law is 90 and mother-in-law is 86. They still live in the house where the family was raised; an old home sitting on 5+ acres. Some time ago they deeded over 4 acres to the children because the taxes and upkeep were more than they could handle with the understanding that the kids would keep the property intact while mom and dad were living. My father-inlaw is a saint. My mother-in-law - it's just hard for me to say anything. There's much bad water under that bridge. She is a difficult woman. At some point in my marriage I realization moment. My mil has problems, but somehow I had allowed her problems to become my problems. The amount of my energy that was spent with being angry, upset, offended, hurt, worrying about what she would do, would say, was draining me. So I made a choice to let her problems be hers and make my peace. Sometimes that literally entails my getting up in the middle of a conversation, making a lame excuse and leaving. Sometimes it has meant my not visiting my in-laws for several months at a time. It works. Also helping is her age; she just doesn't have enough energy to be miserable, difficult and cranky. So I can say I have reached a place where we have a fairly good relationship - something I didn't think would ever happen. There are still moments, but those moments aren't worth going over.

Along one edge of their property the bushes and trees are growing out into the street. They received a letter from the city some months ago, and one son trimmed up some of the branches. But the majority of the overgrown shrubbery remains. So this past weekend Tim, the younger three and I went over with nippers, saws, etc. to start the clean up. Now when you try to help my mil, you had better be geared up for battle because it will be a battle. In the old days, I would have thrown up my hands and said to hell with the whole thing. Now I don't do that. I ignore all the comments, the totally unnecessary remarks about my fil being lazy (remember he's 90 with a very bad heart), and every difficulty she can dream up. After a day of trimming, with very sore muscles and scratches up and down my arms, I will say it was a good day. We got a lot of work done, with a lot of work for next weekend, the girls had a blast building fairy houses in all the little hollows under the trees, we did a task that needed done, and I managed the whole day with a smile on my face. I am VICTORIOUS. I have conquered a nemesis, and it does feel good.

Other than that, on Monday I had an esophageal endoscopy. The procedure itself wasn't bad mostly due to the fact that whatever drugs they pumped into my vein put me to sleep, and they were able to dilate the area with the stricture. The downside is that I had no idea how much discomfort I would feel after wards. Today my throat is still extremely sore; swallowing is painful. Cool jello or ice cream feels best. The worst part? Today is Fat Tuesday, and it is our tradition to have lasagne, salad, french bread and cheesecake. This is so not fair. NOT AT ALL FAIR. Feeling very sorry for myself.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sacred Places

My hearth. The center of my home. Here I find warmth and strength.

What is important
in Infinity?
Smiling flames.
What is important
in Eternity?
Climbing flames.
What is important
in Immortality?
Glowing flames.

~Sri Chinmoy~

Friday, February 13, 2009

Breastfeeding another's baby - Taboo?

Copying this from my other blog.

Have you all seen this video clip of Salma Hayek breastfeeding another mother's baby in Africa? Taboo or beautiful?

If anyone knows me, they know how I would respond. An absolutely beautiful, human, loving, gracious gift.

Would you do this?

Absolutely yes.

Would your husband be okay with it?

Absolutely yes. He would be my biggest supporter. What a darling he is.

I guess a lot of Americans think it's inappropriate, yucky, taboo. It's okay to run to the store and buy formula, or maybe possibly okay to pump breastmilk and feed the hungry baby that way. But to offer your breast - no. Here we are, America, leading country in the world, and we're offended by a mother using her breast to give succor to another's child. Let Victoria Secret models almost totally expose their small, pert breasts, but God forbid should a woman partially expose her life giving breasts to feed a baby. Yeah, let's keep breasts a sexual object, by all means, and never honor them for their highest purpose.

Scratching my head....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love: Feeling or Action

So, which is it. Feeling? Action? Combination of both? Or sometimes is it a feeling that keeps love going, and at other times it’s actions?

This rabbit trail was prompted by a discussion I was involved in about the mother of octuplets. Everybody was providing their opinions and judgments on the woman – mostly negative; then someone made the statement that she did not love her children. Her actions proved she only loved herself and not her children. Up to this point I had remained mute on the subject, but this statement brought me out of my mute state. I maintain that we cannot make that judgment regarding love. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I pretty much stay clear of that type of media so I’ve read very little about her. My first thought is that her actions were irresponsible. Human life isn’t something to play with just to satisfy needs. Beyond that, I’m not about to make a judgment on whether she loves her children or not. That I will leave to another judge, thank you very much. To which I received responses like these:

OH YES WE CAN! (In response to my saying we cannot make that judgment.)

Come on people, love is ACTION. It is NOT feeling.

It has nothing to do with how you feel.

The definition of love comes from the Author of Love, Who Himself is Love. God so loved that he GAVE. Love is not a feeling, it is action.

Guess I got told, huh? At this point, I backed out of the conversation. Well, after a couple little replies, that is.

I could say some things about this such as: actions can be false; judgments can be clouded by personal experience; judgments can be in error due to lack of personal information. I know someone very well, in fact, you could say I know this person better than any other person now living on this planet. If strangers were to cast judgment on this person based on sketchy information (such as what you get from the media), it’s very likely that judgment would be the same as the mother of eight received in this recent discussion; ‘she doesn’t love her children’. Yet I know for a fact, beyond a doubt, that she does love her children. I’ve witnessed her trying and fighting to do the right ‘actions’, but sometimes being so hampered by depression, instability, bi polar disorder, her actions would have convicted her. This is one of the reasons I will leave the judging to someone who can view us from the inside out.

Actually this question is something that has been on my mind recently. Over the summer I read several books on love/dating/marriage. These books were from a Christian perspective – primarily Protestant. The main point: our feelings cannot be trusted. Feelings are not stable, not reliable, they will trip us up and let us down. We need to use trusted sources such as Scripture (which is another whole discussion), authority figures God has placed in our lives such as parents and pastors with which to weigh these decisions of the heart and leave the heart out of it. I admit to being surprised at the number of my Catholic friends that totally agree with this perspective: you cannot trust your feelings.

This fits in with my faith journey because my journey is based largely on my feelings. I could substitute the word emotions or convictions of heart for feelings. I’ve been trying to look inward to see what outward steps I need to take. The few times I’ve shared this faith journey and my feelings with others, the advice I’ve received is ‘you cannot trust your feelings’. My feelings will lead me down the wrong path because they’re not reliable. I’ve been advised to ignore my feelings and rely on sources that I know are trustworthy and sound and cannot fail me. Such sources as the Word of God, the Church/Magisterium (which cannot err in matters of faith and morality), and other authority figures God has placed over me (spiritual directors, pastor, deacon, etc.) Simply put, be obedient to these as Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary and God, and you will be safe. Start following your feelings, and you could be falsely led. What they didn’t say, but what I heard is, if I follow my feelings/passions/emotions, I could be following Satan. Why following all those authority figures who are human with feelings just like is safe, but my feelings aren’t safe, is another discussion, too.

So this leads me to the question “where did this distrust of our feelings come from”. I am starting to think it is very connected to our belief in original sin.

I need to go attend a Little House on the Prairie tea party that my three little darlings have put together. More later.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Last year I was on a reading binge of non-Christian authors or, at least, not traditional Christian authors. I finished most of those with a rather cluttered and more confused, than usual, mind. I decided to stop reading that type of book for a while and just ruminate. In the background I kept reading as I could no more not read than I could go without water, but that was limited to fluffy fiction - some deeper and some pretty shallow. My sister moved last year and gave me a stack of books. After looking through them I picked up Wicked by Gregory Maguire, and in spite of myself, I was quickly hooked in perverse way. I didn't want to like it, in fact I wanted to hate it, and actually set it aside for a time, but being the weak creature I am, I had to finish it. Then of course, I had to read Son of a Witch.

For some unknown reason reading those made me want to pick up The Screwtape Letters; however, I found it just about impossible to turn the pages. Since I had been giving so much time to the other side, I figured I would try Mere Christianity. I forced myself to stay with that one longer. Sometimes I would nod my head and follow his reasoning. Then there were the times when I would shake my head at his reasoning. But then who am I to question Lewis' reasoning ability. Obviously I'm in over my head. Looking over my religious bookshelf I just didn't feel quite up to much that it contained. I suppose it could be guilt. I don't know. I have been reading bits and pieces of In Conversation with God by Fr. Francis Fernandez, The Imitation of Christ and Prayers and Devotions by John Paul II. Sometimes I find great help and motivation to keep trying, to stay true to the course. Then other times I just feel plain uncomfortable. Oh, I know, it's that good old guilt again.

What started this, I believe, is the fact that I'm preparing my twins for their First Holy Communion. We read, we talk, they ask questions, I answer. Sometimes when I'm answering I'm not sure I believe what I'm saying. Can anyone understand how hard a thing that is to admit? My girls are forcing me to face my questions again. On the up side, we've had some very good discussions and completed a few fun projects. They made a prayer book from beautiful old fashioned hold cards I have, a book mark for their First Reconciliation, and we are now working on a Mass book. They wanted to learn the rosary (shameful that this Catholic mother hasn't taught this prayer to her young daughters) so we have been working on it one decade a day. I haven't prayed the rosary since my dad was fighting for his life in intensive care six years ago. I've actually found peace in those prayers, but one decade is about my limit. My older daughter, 11 yrs., is wanting to learn the Angelus, so I've promised we'll start that. I love the beautiful, traditional Catholic prayers. They give me comfort and security. My husband got me a chain for my very special miraculous medal, so I have been wearing that. Again, I feel very peaceful about it. It's just the theology that gets me down. If only I could ignore it, but that's not me.

Then on the other hand I put When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone on hold at the library. Oh goodness....

Oh, and I did watch a video about Hildegard of Bingen and am going to explore that further. Our library has several books about her.

In the meantime I picked up The Historian and am deep into vampire lore.

And I wish I could figure out how to format things here at blogger. The font is all wrong.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's been quite some time since I've blogged here; I still blog over at Xanga but sporadically at best.

I've been in hiding. From myself. The door in my mind that I started to let open over the last couple years - the door that lets questions in, questions that your mind has to mull over, think about, search out, then eventually look for answers, but those answers can lead you down very frightening paths - yes that door, well I've been trying to shut it. I think I knew intuitively when I first started to let those questions form in my mind, that there was no turning back; nevertheless, I've been trying to shut the door and go back to the status quo. Basically I've been faking it, pretending. I read somewhere that's what you do when you find yourself doubting; you fake it. Don't let the doubts in and continue to do everything you were taught to do whether you question it or not. Do that, and God will be faithful and reward your trust in time of doubt. Well, all it's gotten me is a major headache and the feeling that I could be on the cusp of depression. Pretending makes you feel lousy, it makes your insides feel torn up, it leaves you no peace, no contentment but constant turmoil.

I need to let the door swing open and face whatever the other side brings me. I need to be brave, but in truth I'm scared. I'm afraid of the other side. This side is so safe with it's rules and safety nets. The other side is unknown. I want to be able to trust in God's mercy, I want to feel safe in questioning and wandering and perhaps ending up somewhere quite different from where I began, but I find it so hard to shake those voices in my head. They don't leave me alone.