Imperfect Catholic Moms Unite
Today I have the great pleasure of sharing with you Good Enough Is Good Enough: Confessions Of An Imperfect Catholic Mom by Colleen Dugan out now from Ave Maria Press. I've long been a Colleen Dugan fangirl, so being asked to take part in the Good Enough is Good Enough Book Launch Blog Tour is really quite a joy.
I've enjoyed reading all the other reviews, interviews and blogs thoughts about her amazing new book. This struggle of perfection in parenting and the feeling of failure has long been a part of my own momma-thought process. Just knowing I wasn't alone made this book worth the read. However, I took away much more than that I learn not only am I not the only one, but realized these feelings seem to be pretty normal. That just my desire to center my family’s life on Christ, even in the most imperfect way, will still bear fruit. All we can offer is our desire to be faithful, God is generous to bloom even a mustard seed of fidelity into great things!
I wanted to share with you three quotes from the book that particularly touched my heart and a few thoughts on each. Would love to hear your thoughts on them as well, please drop those musings in the comment section below.
Can I Not Pee in Peace?
“While I never would describe myself as selfish before I had kids, I couldn't deny that fact after. A ticker-tape of script ran through my brain all day, Reflections on the frustrating conundrums I faced as a parent too many little people:
*Disclaimer: I used voice to text for inputting the Good Enough is Good Enough quotes - hilarious and erroneous versions may occur. Mea Culpa to Colleen and Ave Maria Press.
Every single Confession, since I've had children, have included the words “and I have been impatient with my children.” The biggest regrets and saddest moments in my motherhood life have come from looking back at those moments where I completely lost my poop with my kids. Those moments you can't take back and regret to the soul of your being. Yet, not one of those meltdowns has gone without a sincere apology to my kids (and God).
As they become young adults, and are still coming to me for advice or to just chat. Or when each of the boys recently posted on social media how much they are grateful to have my husband and myself in their life. I feel like those apologies certainly did go a long way. I know bringing those feelings to confession were a huge part in the healing process as well. I often forget that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing. I am grateful that Jesus teaches us how important forgiveness is. It is the heart of the Gospel, and clearly within any family quickly becomes the heart of the family. Being human, is not something I take well, I'm always complaining and confession of all the sins that are just part of my humanity. I'm grateful that God forgives, and I'm extra grateful that my kids forgive.
Now just a quick word about “peeing in peace”. I thought that was difficult with my boys, then the Lord sent me a child who is deaf. At least with my hearing kids, when the door was closed and those little hand and eyeball appeared under the door yelling, “Mama, Mama are you in there.” You could just yell back I'll be right out. That didn't work with my Faithy. She was relentless, knocking and knocking. Now, however, those are memories of great joy and laughter to our family.
“ Shouldn't this whole Mass thing be easier for everyone involved? we wondered. As if the struggle to get our children to Mass wasn't enough, once we were there, we then spent 60 minutes in tremendous anxiety over their behavior. We worried about what other people would think. We were worried we were distracting other Parishioners [side note: voice text transcribed that word as: prisoners] and that other people would question our discipline tactics if one of the kids decided to throw an epic temper tantrum in the middle of the consecration
Oh my gosh, did you finish reading that and think, “been there and done that!”
My firstborn son was premature and diagnosed very early with AD/HD. His attention span was even less than that of a gnat. He also struggled with severe behavior issues. Mass was so stressful when my two boys were little, that I actually joined the choir, so I could get peace during Mass. I watched my sweet, often sweating, husband from the choir loft above. There I would sing God's praises for all to see. This of course, made me look good to prying eyes, instead of seeing the horrible parent I really was up there just trying to escape the stress of my misbehaving children. My husband definitely earned some points toward sainthood by wrestling the two for the 60 minutes each week.
When we added Faithy to our family, I finally had to make the decision to leave choir and sit in the pews to help my husband. At the beginning, her language was very limited, so needing to interpret of the Mass into ASL was also very limited. I spent most of the time wrangling her in and trying to curb her ‘bratty” behavior at mass. It was a mystery to my husband and I. She didn't act like that anywhere else but in Mass. Do you ever feel like that? Like your children do not behave in that bizarre way except for in Mass? I feel like Don Bosco's image of the Little demons tapping on their children's shoulders to distract them was truly more than just a dream. It truly seemed to happen every week in Mass With my kids!
The hardest part for my perfect parent problem was that you can’t see Faith’s deafness. We were in a new parish, where our story was not known. You could not tell by just looking at her that she had just been adopted at 4 years-old, and that was still in this process of assimilating into a new family. I felt like I wanted to stand up and explain her situation to the entire church after weeks and weeks of carry a screaming child down the aisle and out of Church. Through the grace of God, we eventually navigated those stage in parenting. Now, I make it a concerted effort if I see a parent struggling with their child during Mass, too seek them out to thank them for bringing their children to Mass and offer encouragement. I hope it helps them see that more people are behind their efforts, then judging them.
This Hurts Me More Than It Does You
“Is it painful for you to sit and watch your children suffer? Are you burdened by poverty or grave illness or familial addiction and generational sin? Are you paying by your grown children's lapse of Faith? Run to Mother Mary, “the Consoler of the Afflicted,” Help of Christians,” and “the Refuge of Sinners.” She has crushed the head of the serpent. She will help you to conquer the devil, ‘the flesh,’ and ‘the world.’ She will obtain for you all the graces to hold firm to the nobel idea, which the Lord has placed in your heart.” No matter how tepid, sinful or hopeless you may feel, entrust yourself into the hands of Mary. Jesus bequeathed her to you; how could she abandoned you?”
I stink at watching my children suffer. When they were little, I would have totally been labeled a helicopter mom (if that been a thing back then). I wanted to fix everything. I still want to fix everything. I want their lives to be filled with roses and puppy dogs and no suffering at all. I realize, that has been a grave mistake, as their coping mechanisms have been challenged as they grow into young adults. It is hard not to be a mom and want to keep your children from any pain or suffering. Even in light of knowing that Redemptive Suffering is the Way of the Cross, and that God promises to bring good from all of our situations in life for those who love Him.
But I want their situations in life to be smooth, and easy, and their burdens to always be light. That, however, is not the way of this world, and it does them no justice or good for me to constantly step in and fix things. I loved Colleen's advice to bring it to Mary. To allow Mary to sit with me in every single situation I face with my children. The good and the difficult. I love her reminder that our Blessed Mother knows what it feels like to watch your child suffer, and can comfort, console, and walk that path with us.
Colleen Duggan's Book is Better than Good Enough
Every Lent, I spend some time contemplating how I might devote more time to prayer, fasting, or almsgiving. These habits I work on throughout these forty days of Lent have had remarkable sticking power in the past. Even though I pray every day and often, I wondered if learning more about prayer would help me pray better. So, this Lent I am revisiting lessons from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the five types of prayer.
The Time Before I Thought to Talk To God
Eleven years ago, my dear friend and convert to the Catholic faith, introduced me, a cradle Catholic, to a remarkable book: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Karen was (and still is) the first and only person I have ever meet, who read The Catechism from cover to cover – all while on a family vacation. Although I primarily use this book as a research resource; Part Four on Christian Prayer garners a great deal of my attention.
Prayer had never been a natural part of my life, aside from the Rosary my mother made us pray during thunder storms and the occasional “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” as a child before bed.
Armed with this new knowledge about prayer, my relationship with God rose to a height I never imagined possible. The strengthened relationship came from discovering the five types of prayer presented in the Catechism. Each one represented to me new opportunities to enter into a dialogue with God. While I was aware of petitioning God for favors such as help out of the pending speeding ticket as the officer approached my car, the idea that I could bless, praise, or adore him was not part of my prayer vocabulary. Even the fullness of intercessory prayer eluded me; my immature faith understanding put a limit on the number of prayers God would answer so I tended to hoard them. Overall this was fine as I did not travel in circles where people went around readily asking for prayers; never mind the notion of turning to saints for intercession. Saints were holidays – Valentine, Patrick, and Nicholas – not heavenly helpers.
Thanks to my friend, and her simple book recommendation, I discovered these five types of prayer; and this Lent, I am revisiting them to continue strengthening my relationship with God.
Every Day Ordinary Prayer
Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us; it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that through Christ from the Father – he blesses us. ~ CCC 2627
As I read about this continual ascending and descending of grace, prayers, and blessings between us and God, my mind formulated the strangest parallel. The 1980’s primitive video game, Pong, with its small rectangle paddles and pixelated moving dot, popped into my mind. I remembered the difficulty of the first few times I played. After I’d played a few hundred times, however, the volley became increasingly easier, and the game lasted much longer. Similarly, The more we practice blessing and adoring God the more continual this movement from Heaven to earth and from earth back to Heaven.
2. Petition (CCC 2629-2633)
Next we will look at the one probably most familiar types of prayer: the asking, sometimes maybe even begging, for something from God. If I am honest, I did not expect to learn anything new from the Catechism with regard to the prayer of petition. Ever since my first math exam, I had figured out pretty quickly how to seek the Lord’s help in my life. Only a fool believes she has God’s ways all figured out, because just three paragraphs in, I read this:
The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that “we receive from him whatever we ask.” Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer. ~ CCC 2631
Forgiveness is “prerequisite,” which means that it is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist. At first glance this confounded me. The more I thought about the need for forgiveness first before other requests of God, however, it become much clearer to me. How utterly arrogant of me to think I can do whatever I please and then approach the Almighty God for a favor or blessing!
Being a mother of three has given me an interesting insight into the necessity of seeking forgiveness before offering a prayer of petition. My darling children have all had their moments when self-absorption or self-interest have gotten in the way of their good judgement or behavior. They have all had their turns of ignoring my commands, skipping out on obligations or duties, or failing to help around the house. Oblivious to the consequences of this behavior, these same children have come petitioning for rides, money, or help and are perplexed by my denial of their requests.
The motive for my holding back is to teach them a lesson to protect them from believing that behavior is acceptable. I want to train them to be the best version of themselves. My decisions, whether they see it this way or not, are always for their good. It always astonishes me how much of a child I really am in light of my faith and relationship with God the Father. How often I got about my everyday life ignoring God’s commands, dismissing the Spirit’s promptings to serve others, yet I fully anticipate an outpouring of answered prayers when I approach him.
3. Intercession (CCC 2634-2636)
Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. ~ CCC 2635
So Many Ways to Pray to Jesus
In 2007, my husband talked me into joining Facebook. I quickly found that I fell into temptations of gossip and judgment, not wanting to leave social media completely, I prayed about a way to use this wonderful power for good. The Spirit inspired me to post for prayer intentions before I went to adoration each week. I was amazed at how many requests I received, and continue to collect even ten years later. I am still ask on a very regular basis if anyone would like prayer when I am going to adoration. Though in addition to my status asking, I also include a beautiful picture of our Monstrance with a simple, “Can I pray for you?” Each time I am deluged with over 100 prayer requests. I then bring my phone with me into adoration, open Facebook, and scroll through each and every name bringing them to the foot of the cross and asking the Lord to bless them and all those whose they are interceding for.
4. Thanksgiving (CCC 2637-2638)
As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”; “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
This paragraph jarred my prayer sensibilities. I never considered to thank God for every circumstance of my life. Some of those circumstances were horrible and thanking God for them seemed almost ridiculous. Thank you God for allowing my house to be struck my lightning. Thank you God for that drunk driver smashing into my car at 7 am in the morning on my way to high school. Thank you God for my parents’ divorce and the selling of my childhood home. Thank God? Really?
Yet, there were elements of those most difficult circumstances that were good and I could thank him for them. In Romans 8:28, St. Paul clarified, at least to me, this paradox a bit more when he writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
In all circumstances, we can find something to thank God in; even in the situations that don’t turn out the way we wanted. The house, was struck but did not burn down and my dad finally put up that metal rod to ground our antenna (clearly this was an incident from 1970-something). The car I was driving that fateful morning was a big, old, heavy-duty Ford Granada, and the only thing broken in the accident was my nose. Thank you God for sparing my life, and I pray that young man also learned from this harrowing event. Thank you God that my parents can have peace which trickled down to all of us kids; and I pray our home was a blessing to the many families that inhabited after us.
5. Praise (CCC 2639-2643)
Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the “one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.”
Many years ago I read a book called The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian. At the time, my prayer life was still sporadic and uncomfortable. She speaks of how praise is the prayer that changes your heart, your mood, and your mind. It is the prayer that stops with fear and anxiety and worry in its place and replaces it with the peace of Christ.
It was then I opened the Psalms and started to practice praise using those beautiful songs. From that time forward whenever I find myself struggling with anxiety, sadness or doubt I still turn to music. Contemporary Christian music has taught me how to praise and worship God when I have no words or even desire to pray. Music can fill my heart, it is a wonderful way to praise the Lord, much like David and his Psalms.
Talking with Jesus One Prayer at a Time
After reviewing the various ways to pray, I have created my Lenten prayer plan. Listing in my journal each category with a prayer to match each daily, as to more fully embrace the grace God has for us through engaging with him in prayer. I am a bit of Lenten overachiever. Though some of my friends are concerned I am setting myself up to fail, I consider a full plan just one with more options to help me succeed. The Church, in her infinite wisdom, has identified five ways to converse with Jesus; as I discovered so many years ago, each one provides countless opportunities to strengthen my relationship with Jesus one conversation at a time.
What is Grace? and Why Do I Need It?
The Allison abridged version for the definition of grace? Grace is the undeserved, yet freely given gift of God's Holy Spirit living within us. It is pure gift from a purely loving God. Sanctifying Grace is what we receive in Baptism that allows us to participate in a life with God. Actual Grace can be thought of as those passing, sometimes momentary, glimpses of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. A little (or a lot) of divine assistance to guide and support us through life. This gift of God's grace is abundant. We need only dip into the spiritual well-spring to receive it. Why do we need it? Grace is the fuel for our souls to reach Heaven.
Filling Our Grace Well
The most effective way to refill our ‘grace well’ comes through the other gifts God has for us. Primarily, prayer, Sacrament, and Scripture, or what I affectionately refer to as the “Grace Trifecta”. The secret is simple, and not really a secret, immerse yourself daily in conversation with God - ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and I guarantee that door will be flung open!!
Entering into Conversation with God aka Prayer
Online Pray More Lenten Retreat
There are many honors in my life that I shake my head at and wonder - how on earth did I get that blessing. Being on of this year's Pray More Lenten Retreat presenters is RIGHT up there among the craziest! Blessed to be sharing my favorite way to build a foundation of faith - the Grace Trifecta. Click the image below to learn more!!
“Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ” St. Jerome
Choose one scripture verse a month to memorize. Some suggestions from the well-spring of scripture that has blessed and transformed my life:
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How Do YOU Fill your Grace Well?
What are some of your Favorite ways to build a stronger faith
foundation through Prayer, Sacramentm and Scripture?
My 2018 Saint Posse
A few years ago I realized at the end of the year, that I seemed to turn toward the same saints each day for intercession. I also noticed that my group of heavenly friends also tended to shift from year to year. New saints were added as I discovered them in my spiritual reading, as well as, different seasons of my life seem to draw me to special intercessors.
I dubbed them my saint posse and created the hashtag: #SaintPosse
Who is in your 2018 Saint Posse???
Can you name all of the Saints in Mine?
Hint: Some of my Posse includes a Venerable and two Blesseds #OnTheirWay
ADVENT a time for waiting ...
Well, have you ever wondered if things are going awry because the evil one is trying to mess with the good you may do or that God instead is not so gently nudging you in a different direction? That distinction can be very difficult to discern some days. This is one of them. My post ... much much earlier this morning will not post. My changes revert back and things I add won't stay. So, plan B!
A Look at the First Week of #SnapAdvent
ADVENTures Check in...
How is your Advent Going?? Are you finding time to pray?