Tuesday, July 30, 2013

johnny all clean

i don't want to spend forever perfecting this post, i just want to get my thoughts down so i don't forget a very good night.

last saturday evening, my little john paul was finally baptized!!! it drove me crazy to wait so long to get him all cleaned up, but it was nice to get to celebrate with our family in a way that we wouldn't have if we had done it sooner. because...

on satuday night, we also had a surprise anniversary party for my parents. we had the gathering at st. anthony's in garden plain, and began the evening with the regularly scheduled evening mass. the pastor, fr. sam pinkerton, an old friend of our family, let my cousin, fr. chad, who was there to do a special blessing for my parents afterwards and also to baptize my bug, read the gospel and preached the homily.

let me set the scene: st. anthony's is a beautiful, traditional style church with elaborate stained glass, statues, stations of the cross, painting embellishments-beautiful and lots to look at. we sat in the row with tim's parents and the boys were down by them, too far from me to feel like i needed to watch. when i glanced down at them, they were snuggled up to grandma or gazing around at all the new sights of the church. (our church is pretty plain.) tim was next to me and snuggling john paul and soaking up all the baby goodness he could from our sleeping boy. when i looked around the church, i could see family and dear family friends mixed in with the regular congregation, there to celebrate my parents. so much beauty. my heart was full.

and then fr. chad read the gospel-Christ gives us the Our Father, and had a homily that i felt couldn't possibly have been a better fit for the day of john paul's baptism. it was such a gift to hear fr. preach. i've heard him give talks and say daily mass, but i can't remember any other time i've had the pleasure of hearing him preach, and let me say, the man can preach. (i'm not biased one bit.) nothing he said was anything we hadn't heard before, in fact, he talked about pretty simple concepts: trust, prayer as a conversation with God, perseverance, but in that setting, with those people, and the way he preached it, i was so filled.

in the Our Father, i struggle with the "give us this day our daily bread" part. can't i pray, "yearly bread" or "lifetime bread"? trusting in God providence each day is simple and difficult. i know He loves us and watches over us, but i like things to be easy and just want a smooth path laid out for me.

trust in God's plan for us. he talked about his mother's hobby of cross-stitch. each stitch is planned and precise. as a kid, laying on the floor playing or watching tv, he would look up at his mom working on a project, and from underneath, the project was a mess of threads. from her perspective, looking down at her work, it was making a beautiful tapestry. so many times in the last several years, our life seemed like a big mess but i desperately hoped God had a bigger picture he was working on.

perseverance. we have to keep taking our prayers to God, knowing that he always hears them, but as a good parent, answers them in his time and not always in the way we want.

the last several years, as tim started his new career and we struggled in so, so many many, my nightly prayer with the boys, among other intentions, was, "for wisdom for mommy and daddy to make good decisions for our family". was this the right job for tim and our family? were we making the right financial decisions? when should we try to add another child to our family? every night i prayed and for so long, it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere. but slowly, the boys got a little easier, tim's schedule became more manageable, we felt like we were making progress, and all of a sudden, we were both on the same page about another baby.

and we were blessed with one.

then more trusting. i have never considered myself a worrier, but with this pregnancy, it seemed like more than any other time in my life, i realized just how very NOT in control we are of our lives no matter how much we try to be in control. regardless of all of my best efforts, i couldn't guarantee a healthy baby or healthy me. for those first three months, on one side of my chalk board wall in the kitchen i had written "all will be well" and on the other side, "every little thing is going to be okay".

for the last year, on and off, i had been reading sheldon vanauken's A Severe Mercy. i never read books in starts and stops, but for some reason, with that book, even though i really liked it, i would read it for a bit, and it would really speak to me, then i would put it down for a while. i don't want to ruin the book because it's a good one and if you haven't read it, you should, but right when i was first pregnant, i got to a part where a character was contemplating mortality and realizing that with Heaven as our goal and hopeful destination, no matter what happens on earth, "all will be most well." so i repeated that to myself often.

with obama's re-election and so much uncertainty is our country and world, i often thought about what the future will look like for our children. i tried to reassure myself with Blessed John Paul II's simple words, "Be not afraid." so much we can't control. so much we really just have to turn over to God.

so on the night that my little one was to begin his sacramental life in the Church, it was so beautiful that fr. spoke of the things that i, whether i wanted to or not, had to work on during my pregnancy and will always have to work on.

after mass, we surprised my parents and oh were they surprised. they've always said that they didn't want a party and several (or most) of us kids didn't think it was a good idea, but i'm so thankful one dear, bold, sibling pushed on. the slide show one brother prepared and the toast that another one gave really made us all stop and think about the accomplishments of their 45 years together in a way that we wouldn't have other wise with all the busyness of our own lives and little families. to celebrate them and their perseverance. their trust. and all the fruit that it brought forth. eight children. seven marriages. 26 grandchildren on earth and more in heaven. that's a lot to celebrate.

i told tim at the end of the night that i wish i could have had a pause button to stop it all and soak up every last bit of all of the wonderfulness. but life keeps thundering on. so as the last scent of chrism wore off johnny's head today, i wanted to pause here and try, in a very, very small way to capture the beauty of his and our family's night.


  1. Thank you for posting this, Mary. When I get bogged down in the details of everyday life- when I find my house too messy, myself too impatient, or my children not obedient enough, this does put it in perspective. Life is a slow building- like your parent's marriage. I may not see all, not even most of the fruits in this life, but the effects are long.

    Congratulations to John Paul. Welcome to the Church, little buddy.

  2. Oh Mary, my friend, this is so beautiful. I even cried a bit. Thank you do much for sharing this beautiful reflection. I love your parents and all the great friends they've given me. I'm glad for you and Tim and your little family that things are coming along and feeling more peaceful. I love the severe mercy quote, such a great book.
    May God continue blessing you abundantly.

  3. I like the cross-stitch analogy. That is really great.
    Beautiful post.

  4. I too loved the cross-stitch analogy. St. Anthony's was our parish growing up and is where Andy & I got married. It is indeed a beautiful church. This was really a beautiful reflection, Mary. I feel blessed to have gotten to read it. Congratulations to your parents on 45 years. What a change they have brought to the world through their "yes's" each day. God bless!

  5. Aw Mary, I'm so glad I missed the party to get this beautiful reflection. Your trust has really been inspiring to me.

  6. I am crying so much right now. This is beautiful... and exactly what I needed to read today.

  7. Absolutely beautiful. I pray we can all be around to be at each others 45th anniversary celebrations. Your parents have given a beautiful example for the world to see.

  8. Mary, congrats!!! How sweet! I just wanted to thank you for posting about China and the fruit and veggies on my blog....I had no idea....and I haven't been on blogger for over a month...so I just saw it! Bless you!