Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Censorship Fail.

Becca:  Henry, I need to cover your eyes so you don't see this yucky part on the T.V. (She covers his eyes.)

Henry: (with great enthusiasm)  Becca, my MOUTH is yooking!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Freshman

"Mom, Are you coming to the football game?"  she asked me.  I could fill a book with the many times my daughter would ask if we were coming to a particular football game or orchestra performance. From a musical theatre production or jazz concert, to a competition, a show, a play, or even a church mass.... the answer was almost always YES.  Chris and I have attended more musical events that included Rebecca than we can probably remember.  And I have a drawer filled with programs to prove it!  Admittedly we were more enthusiastic for some events than for others.... depending on whether we had gotten enough sleep the night before with child #5 insisting on hogging the bed and kicking us in the head.

From the first time she picked up a trombone Rebecca was and continues to be an enthusiastic musician.  As she grew musically, we grew as well.  As she learned new pieces, we had them memorized right along with her, as she struggled with her competitions, we quietly prayed that she would earn a fair score.  Life with Becca has been filled with song and it continues to this day as she pursues a music degree at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC).   She is The Freshman.

Seeing that she asked me this question recently got me thinking of how different it is now that she is in college and doing musical things there.  While she is close to home, we understandably don't see her as much as we did when she lived at home.  We talk more on the phone than we did when she was in high school and we (I) use Facebook more to see how she is doing. (What did she do today?  Did she get some fruit in her diet? Is she eating too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts?).  We don't hear her practicing anymore from her third floor bedroom, and we don't have as many musical performances to attend.  On a happier note, the place is roomier without all her instruments all over the place and we can walk without tripping over some large brass horn left near the hall.   

But when she asked me if I was coming to Kenan Stadium for the first home UNC football game to watch her perform with the UNC band, I was not going to miss seeing her in her blue uniform marching with a college band! Hey that was new and different!  She a college girl now.

The day came when I was going to see her for the first time marching with the band and well, nothing properly prepares you for the moment when you spot your freshman child through thousands of fans, drums pumping, fans yelling, school pride bursting all around you.  When you get a glimpse of your child, your heart seemingly stops beating for a second and you stop breathing.  As you rush to get a better look at her, everything around you gets blurry and all you can  focus on is her.  Who cares if you knock over an old lady using her walker....she should recognize a mom on a mission, right?  When you finally get close enough that she can see you, your eyes meet and you exchange smiles.  You wave enthusiastically, but she can't because she is in uniform and is in formation with the rest of the band.  She saw you, and she knows you are there.  That is the number one goal of a parent; making sure they see you so that they know they are loved.  Relief.

Then you watch as she raises her horn up to play, with a trombone section three times the size she played with in high school. The sound coming from the band is impressive, booming and strong!...and they start to march....away from you, leading the crowd in enthusiastic song and cheers.  You run to follow the band so that you can get a few pictures of the moment, but the tears streaming down your face cause a glare in the camera and the pictures you get are not the best.  But they will have to do. Your husband catches up to you and puts his arm around you as you try not to make a spectacle of yourself sobbing with pride. 

The rest of the afternoon is spent not necessarily watching the football game, but watching her.  When do they move to the field? What are the songs they play to distract the opposing team? Is she getting hot over there in the sun?  All those silly questions pop up and distract you as you watch from afar. Oh, and what's the score again?

After the day is passed, you marvel at just how beautifully and wondrously made your children are.   How God's amazing grace penetrates through occasions such as these and surprises you with a rare gift of unexplainable joy and how eternally grateful you are for having the opportunity to be a small part of what your child will one day become.  

You GO Becca!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brotherly understanding...

Younger Brother:  What are all those red things on your face?

Older Brother:  God's cruel joke.

Younger Brother:  Huh?

Older Brother:  Just when you start to care about the way you look, God sends you acne to keep you humble.

Younger Brother:  Sorry dude.

Friday, May 07, 2010

My Growing Nick!

Lacrosse season has ended and Nick's team tied for the championship.  Nick is in the 8th grade and has grown a foot this past year, wears a size 14 shoe, eats us out of house and home and continues to be the big brother that the younger kids in the family adore...and for good reason.  He has heart.  And a heart for God.

While it pains me to see my kids grow, it give me great hope for the future and for the family to see how they are maturing into beautiful individuals.  I am growing my own best friends and how I do adore them!

Grow, Nick, Grow.  We love you!

Friday, April 09, 2010


An open letter to Confirmation Catechists

I am getting so excited about the end of the faith development year and all that we’ve accomplished! What we started with at the beginning of the year was a challenge of unknown new faces and personalities…some happy to be in TYM others not so enthusiastic.  Teens who, despite their honest love of God, needed some honest answers of why they should believe, not only the facts of what they should believe. Being a catechist is not for the weak of heart, it’s a job for those WITH heart.  Specifically a heart for teens and their plight!  

Some of us were new at the TYM scene and scared to death (myself included) while others were seasoned professionals who sailed through the year.   We all struggled with ways to effectively “get through” to the kids, lost some hair, vowed we would never come back, and were tempted to stick a movie in the VCR and let someone else teach the kids.  But God always called us back, gently…and reminded us that we are making a difference.

At the end of the year, I think it’s important to take inventory of what we accomplished and not let any tough moments monopolize our thoughts.  The truth is that we ended up with a hopeful group of 9th graders who continue to mature and move closer toward Confirmation.  We have 83 primed 10th graders who have a healthy grasp of what it is to be a faith-filled Catholic.  They are ready to be sealed in the Holy Spirit by the Bishop in a couple of weeks!  We have numerous Seniors in the WIRED group who will be graduating and experiencing a new life filled with possibility (My daughter is one of them-Lord help me!) as well as 8 committed Latino youth preparing to receive their first Holy Communion and Confirmation at STM.

Our kids have attended retreats, went on mission, discussed tough issues, served in various capacities, played and laughed with their peers, were offered words of encouragement, given new perspectives from guest speakers, did not shy away from asking, and asking (and asking) the tough questions (which we answered) and were given opportunities to confess and pray. How many of you were given so much in your youth program when you were a teen? 

But what makes a youth program great is not necessarily the size of the program, quality of the programming or craziness of its leaders…it’s the authenticity of its leaders, the lives that we lead and the honesty with which we teach. It’s the confidence in knowing that what is true, good and sacred resides in the Catholic Church.  We couldn’t teach it, unless we believed it. And that, my friends, is the greatest gift we’ve given our youth…BELIEF! 

So in the last few weeks before we must say goodbye for the summer, I want to say THANK YOU, for believing…in God, His son, our youth, in yourselves and in me.  We will walk away from this year different people and so will the teens. And it does not get any better in a youth program than that….

Monday, April 05, 2010

Henry's Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

On Good Friday, Henry and I decided to color our Easter Eggs while listening to the album, Alma Mater.  This music is a release of modern classical music and features the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  The music is very inspiring and perfect for a day like Good Friday; however, I could not tell if the music made Henry extra sad about his egg mis-hap or if he was sincerely sad about it.  You be the judge. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

An artist.

Me:  I need the water vaccume to clean up the dirt smudges on the hallway carpet.

Him:  That is not dirt.  It's Henry's handprints after playing with your makeup.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Youth Group Shadow Stations

I have been a youth minister in the Catholic Church for many, many years. I've experienced the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to build a program from the bottom up and to watch it grow and change into the place where the God can do His best work.  There are some very hard days when you work in  ministry and there are a good many successes; but at times you work so hard that it's easy to lose track and simply "check the boxes" of what needs to get done:  Confirmation retreats and interviews, sacramental documentation, parish service, permission forms, service projects, food drives, catechist training, workshops, e-mails and Facebook notices, flyers and advertisements, invitations and social event planning. On and on it goes, without end and without relief.  It's OK though, because the reward is always bigger than any struggle and  it is always exciting co-creating with the God of the universe.  He is so full of surprises.

Then there are those rare glimpses of profound grace through all the work.

Each Lent,  the teens in the parish perform the stations of the cross in shadow format for the parish.  What I mean by 'shadow format' is that each station is acted out from behind a large screen (basically a king size bed sheet) which is illuminated from behind.  The kids stand behind the sheet, completely still, and create a shadow.  It's a relatively easy project to produce as long as you have all the necessary props and volunteers.

This year was no exception.  I had 20 eager enough teens...some participating simply to meet their parish volunteers hours, others were there because they had been part of the stations in the past and it had become something of a tradition for them.  At practice, we casually rehearsed the poses of each station and made sure our speakers knew their parts with the proper inflection and dramatic pause.  The musicians ran through their songs, various verses of "Were you there..." and learned where they were to come in.

On the night of the performance, everything went off without any major issues.  The youth stepped up and performed their best. The final product you can see here.  Haunting, beautiful, full of emotion and drama.

The moment of grace for me is actually viewing the pictures of each station.  I have never been on the shadow side of this event...only on the back side of the sheet, directing the actors and speakers.  This was also the first year that we had taken professional pictures of each station, and essentially  it was the first time I had ever seen the final product from a true audience perspective.  It was awesome.

The images struck me and made me take pause...from all the work and the necessary pieces of youth simply enjoy the beauty of what our young people are capable of, and to be reminded of just how privileged I am to be some small part of God's great work at STM.

May the remainder of our Lenten days be ones of new awakening and a deeper love for the God who suffered so much pain for our sake.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

File under: I can't believe I said that.

This mother of five had to yell at her third child tonight, " Jack!  You cannot wear your school clothes to bed!  People don't do that on weeknights!"

Poor kid.  He must have thought it was the weekend or something.