Thursday, May 28, 2015

So We Went to Disney World...

20 things about going to Disney with a 4 year old, almost 3 year old, almost 2 year old and pregnant
These are the things we did that made our trip awesome.  They might not work for you but maybe one or two tips will be helpful to someone.  This was one of the better trips/vacations I have ever taken, and that’s saying a lot because I have kind of been all over the world J

GO-If you can
So many people tried to convince us not to go.  Certain we’d have a miserable time because our kids are ‘too young to enjoy the experience’.  FALSE!  They are at the perfect age to be totally taken aback by the magic of the place.  To them, it’s all real.  It’s all so fun.  I am so glad we went ahead despite people’s best intended suggestions not to.  Thankful for all those people who encouraged us to DO IT!!!!
US on the morning we left

I have read all the blogs on budget Disney.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do it that way. BUT, I will say, I am certain I can count this vacation as one of the best vacations I have ever been on (and it truly was a vacation) BECAUSE we made it as easy on ourselves as possible.  But, as you’ll see in the rest of the 20 things, some of that easy came with a big ol’ price-tag. 

Can easy and this be used in the same sentence?!?!
We decided when we first put this trip on the table that we would be flying.  Driving with all them babies and a pregnant mama would have really been a bummer.  Getting on a plane and being in Orlando from Detroit In two hours and some change was awesome.  The kids did great on the plane (air-high five to the person who suggested playdough) and we saved 4 days of travel (because let’s not lie, there is no way in hizzo we’d do that drive with the whole crew in one day).  Yes, it was expensive to fly (though we used spirit and only brought one suitcase)- see #2 for thoughts on that.

Play dough, whoever suggested that one gets a gold star!
Again, for us, we saved longer and stayed shorter to be able to stay on the property. It was so essential to our awesome time that we could roll back to the hotel when needed (to escape the heat, nap, take cranky mama home- more on that later).  Next time we go we will be renting a condo, but staying on the property was so awesome.

Le sigh... it only goes downhill from here :)
This one is a tough one because it is very expensive.  There are three hotels on the monorail and none of them are cheap.  All of them are more than I have ever paid for a hotel in my life.  BUT, the extra hundreds of dollars (yes, that expensive) were WELL worth it to us.  We have an insanely big stroller and jumping on/off the bus was as much of a pain as people said it would be the few times we’d have to do it (even though I thought people were crazy #firstworldproblems when they said it).  And yes, it is a crazy #firstworldproblem but being able to roll right on the monorail and show up at the door of magic kingdom was AWESOME. 
The Aarons on the Monorail

The first morning I almost ruined our entire Disney trip.  We entered Magic Kingdom and I had a plan.  That plan was to see certain things.  But it was hot, and there were crowds, and we have three small children, and I threw up (#pregnancy) so by noon I was PISSED OFF.  Aaron was walking too slow, I didn't understand the map (I am slow on map reading), everyone was hungry and I became that crazy person.  The crazy person screaming at her children in Magic Kingdom “YOU BETTER SMILE, DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CHILDREN WANT TO BE HERE?!?!?!” (and there may have been a bit of swearing at the ol’ husband).  Thankfully after lunch and a rest at the hotel, Big Aaron gently pointed out my crazy, “Do you realize you yelled at me for walking too slow at Disney?”- Right then and there I decided to calm my crazy, I put Big Aaron in charge of all major decisions and decided to manage my expectations.  The next 2 days were awesome, but it was because I let go of control

whew she recovered and became sane
We decided once we knew we were staying on property that we would be choosing to participate in a meal plan.  It was an awesome decision.  We went for the deluxe version, which is an insane amount of food, but only lil’ A was covered under it.  Each meal we’d get an appetizer, meal and dessert, plus 2 snacks a day (water bottles counted for snacks).  We had to share off our plates with Joey and John Paul (who are both boys with hearty appetites).  Though the ‘dessert’ part of the meal plan was too much, we often were able to substitute it for things like ‘fresh fruit’ or a snack to bring back to our hotel.  The good thing about the meal plan was it had healthy/healthier options.  We didn't want our boys eating like crud for three days because their attitudes would stink and they’d get sick.  We were able to have fruit each meal and veggies lots of the time.  The meal plan was SO convenient, we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

If you are using the meal plan or plan on eating at restaurants it is so essential to book reservations right away.  I thought this was crazy talk prior to going, it’s not crazy talk- it’s necessary.  We got into every place we wanted to eat at- and were so thankful for the MYDISNEY app to switch things around last minute.

That bad morning I told you about, part of the problem is that all of us had something ‘quick’ for breakfast (bagel, croissant, ½ an apple) really early, so by 11:00 we were really hungry.  In the heat and walking around, a big breakfast was key (as we discovered the next two days) to keeping our energy up in the heat!  The buffet at 1900 Way right in our hotel was the best! We filled our tummies and it showed by the moods we were in the rest of the day.

Look at them big ol' smiles after full bellies
Um- they are awesome. So cool how the characters came right up to the table. For my Joey, he just knew these guys were his best friend. He gave a Winnie the Pooh a hug that just would not stop.  It was so magical.  He still keeps talking about the mad hatter.

Joey couldn't let him go
Quick rundown of what we rode (you will see we didn’t ride too many for two days, but again, we kept our expectations realistic).  Merry Go Round, Small World, Aladdin’s Carpet, Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean, Carousal of Progress (weirdly one of my favorites), Peter Pan, Dumbo (so freaking scary for me, kids loved it, waiting area was as awesome as they say) and the train.   I think that’s it!  Good stuff
Dumbo, I still had a smile because I didn't realize how terrifying it would be

This part was so cool.  We saw ladies with umbrellas dance, a huge dance party in the town square with all the main characters (total joy), the castle show during the day, Monsters Inc (Big Aaron got to be a character), and Mickey’s Musical Orchestra (none of us liked this).  The show at the castle was awesome, but I’m not gonna lie, it was hard free standing in the sun on such a hot day.  Would you believe we didn’t do any of the major parades or fireworks? As I said, we kept our expectations small.  One night, I almost woke the boys up for the fireworks, but I realized we will be there in future years where it will make more sense to keep our kids up that late- so I resisted the temptation. 

Poor children going to bed with no fireworks
We saw VERY little of this park. It was our day to fly out to come back home.  Man, though, the things we did see were awesome.  We went on the safari.  The boys and I love it, but full disclosure, it got Big Aaron a little sick.  The jerking of the truck didn't work for the old man.  Then, we saw the “Festival of the Lion King”- which was a highlight of the entire trip for me.  SO awesome.  Such wonder for our eyes.  I cried. A lot. 

The boys on the safari they are still talking about
Drink it- lots of it. Always.  We ended up filling our meal plan cups with ice in the morning and just filling them with water throughout the day at the parks. Totally worked out.

Water- drink it, play in it, but stay near it
I loved our afternoon breaks. Remember, we have very small children.  We would go back to the hotel after lunch, nap and play in the pools during the hottest time of the day. Honestly, as much as I loved the parks, the resort was a huge part of our fun as well. The Grand Floridian was so beautiful and the pools were so fun. I am a secret fancy girl who loves fancy things, and the fanciness of this hotel was just awesome for my 35th birthday. It’s funny, the ol’ husband doesn't like swimming and I love it.  As a birthday present, we got to do a family swim.  Swoon….

The water play at The Grand Floridian was AWESOME!!!
It is so awesome to take advantage of not having to travel with school breaks.  Awesome enough that we might do it anyway when kids are in school and just be THOSE parents. 


Here’s where we went. 
TREX- Good, scary, perfect for little boys
GRAND FLORIDIAN CAFE- awesome from breakfast and diner
TONY'S TOWN SQUARE- very much okay
1900 WAY- perfection in a restaurant
NARCOOSSEE- fancy and only happened because the meal plan, but the perfect birthday dinner
RAIN FOREST CAFE- don't judge, our kids ages dictated that one
Our super fancy dinner night at Narcoossee
We packed one suitcase, one carry on and four backpacks.  It was perfect.  We didn’t overpack but we left room for two puddle jumpers. Staying at the Disney Resort, you can check your bags off at your home airport (Detroit) and they get delivered right to your room.  I KNOW RIGHT?!?!!?

Lil A was very proud of his backpack 
I made sure to catch the awesome of what we were doing by being present in every moment.  To me, this whole trip was such a cool thing, I couldn’t believe we were actually doing it.  I tried to be present to the kids wonder and joy. 

We took our own pictures.  For us, this really worked out.  We actually didn't see too many picture taking people.  Yes, the bummer is we didn't get very many good family shots, but Aaron and I both said we were glad we didn't do the picture package when we saw the lack of Disney Photographers.  We really didn't see any around.  That would have been annoying after paying.

The only decent family photo we got :)
We are already planning for next year’s trip which will be totally different (staying in a condo with some friends off site).  So apparently we have become ‘THOSE DISNEY PEOPLE’.  It’s okay, I don’t mind J

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Thing About that Bruce Jenner Interview...

So, if you live under a rock, lemme fill you in on something.  On Friday, Bruce Jenner gave an interview to Diane Sawyer.  After, he was praised by the press, celebrated by celebrities, and cheered on by my facebook newsfeed.  His courageous move?  He declared to the world although he is a man in the physical sense of the word, he has always kind of felt like a woman 'in his soul'.  And, in a move pop culture is embracing, he has decided to begin transitioning so his soul matches his body, this would be his last interview under the name of ‘Bruce Jenner’.

A lot of people tuned in.  Because he is a reality star, some of us have watched Bruce Jenner as a husband, a father, a so called, 'fame whore’ on the show ‘Keeping up the Kardashians’.  Those a bit older than me will remember him as a gold medalist in the decathlon for the1976 Olympics.  This celebrity who so many of us related to as male, gave an interview to say to the world, ‘you might see me as male, but my truth is I am female- and to say so brings freedom’. 

At first I wasn't going to watch it.  To tell you the truth, I kind of rolled my eyes at the build up to the story.  I often get stuck in the muck that is the cultural wars and things like men ‘becoming’ women and celebrating it on national television?  Well to be honest, things like that, to a person like me, kind of flag why our world is so screwed up.  Things like that scare me.  And so I wasn't going to watch.  Why engage in the insanity that is our world/current culture?

But right before the interview on Friday night. I felt called to hit record.  I felt like the Lord was whispering into my heart that Bruce Jenner’s story is important.  That listening is important.  That walking with the pain, hurt, confusion, and suffocation of other’s stories is important. 

You should know, I believe in a few things.  I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church.  I believe that God created man out of love, male and female, He created them. I believe freedom offered through the sexual teachings of the Church is desperately needed in today’s culture.  I believe the world would be better off if people listened to the teachings of the Church, and I believe moving away from traditional sexual ethics has a devastating effect on society.

And, I also believe Bruce.

People are complicated.  We have hurts and wounds that are sometimes gaping.  We have within ourselves the ability to be saints, and the ability to be sinners.  The ability to be Peter, and the ability to be Judas.  We have a history and emotions that are unique to only us, and understood fully, only by God. 

I don’t know what to do with Bruce Jenner’s experience, or the thousands of people, young and old who related to it.  I’m not sure the best way to go about ministry with people who have those kind of hurts. I’m not sure the best way to respond in our culture... those questions are hard.  I wish both ‘sides’ of the cultural war would admit how very hard this is. 

There’s so much I don’t know, but one thing I can say with certainty... when it comes to spreading the message of love and freedom which flows from having a relationship with Christ, we must first LISTEN. Listening comes before talking.  Seeking to understand is far more valuable than screaming to be understood. 

“We must lend our ears to the beat of this era and detect the scent of people today, so as to be permeated by their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility” – Pope Francis

And so I recorded the Bruce Jenner interview. I watched it grounded in what I know to be True about the sexual teachings of the Church, but with a compassionate heart.  One willing to learn from the experience of others.  And I wonder sometimes, if that disposition might be a bit more helpful to us as we seek to introduce people to the goodness and mercy of Christ. I wonder if it might behoove us to follow Christ’s example and be willing to ‘sit at the well’.  Even if it makes us uncomfortable, even if it’s a world we do not know. 

(PS- Ain’t it just like God to move our hearts to do somethin’ right after we declared we wouldn’t be doing somethin’ for awhile…I’m still planning that hiatus, but this one kept stirring, so I wrote it)

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Mellow Dramatic Why I Haven't Been Blogging...

So, I mean, I haven't been blogging.
It's not because I don't have things to say.
And it's not because I don't like blogging.

Truth be told, I think when people make a big 'Hey, I'm on a bloggin hiatus' announcement... it's kind of annoying.

But I'm doing it anyway.

Hey, I'm on a blogging hiatus.  I know it's not like I am the biggest thing on the internets (but I am pretty darn close right?!?!),.. but I figure sometimes people read this, and I haven't posted regularly in a few months, so I 'owed' it to those people to say something'.

And the somethin' is this.

We are having our fourth kid in five years! How fun is that (answer? super fun), but how rough is pregnancy for me (answer? super rough).  Paul passed away in January, and I feel like I'm still moving through that to be honest.  So though I have lots of thoughts, I am having a really rough time stringing them together.  I've tried, I promise, lots of times...to write all the thoughts.  But, they aren't coming out and I am being patient with that.

Do I think I'll blog again?  Gee, I sure hope so. I love having a family record, and I like sharing with a community of people.  But for now, it's just not coming...

When it does, you'll be the first to know! (ha! If I show up in your feeders or whatever fancy people call them).

Till then, things are good, blessings abound, and life continues to roll.

Oh, and don't be afraid to say a prayer for me :)

Blessings on your weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Guess who's back, back again, 7 Quicks

So, it's been awhile.  Truth be told, I've been kind of off the radar for a couple months.  When people say, how did your Lent go?  My response is "I really lived it".  When people ask "how was your Holy Week?"  Well, it started with me in a ball texting my sisters, begging for prayers, telling them I "hate my life"  (never one for the dramatics).  And, if you are wondering how my Easter is going!?!?!  AWESOME.  Six Iron infusions later, I am living a spirit of Resurrection. No joke.  Which is also making me realize just how very bad the last few months were physically.  At one point I was laying in bed, no energy, constant pain and wondering if maybe it was all in my head?  Maybe I was just experiencing a time of depression?  I have never felt so terrible in my entire life- I didn't know what to do with it, and how long it lasted (Since January).  But, turns out, not having any iron in your blood really does effect how one does life.  And now that the iron has been restored (my numbers are higher than they have ever been for a pregnancy) I am honestly on cloud nine!  We are all STILL sick around here with head colds, but I barely care- I can leave my house without the threat of collapsing. It's so awesome.

Confession, and this is gonna make some of you wanna throw rotten tomatoes at me.  Until two weeks ago, I kind of didn't even have respect for natural births (drug free).  To be honest, I think waaay too often it's kind of romanticized by "natural birth advocates"- and I'm always like, "oh, or you can just take drugs and be just fine".  Anyway, it's just how I felt.  Plus, I mean, let's just be real, I have been through THREE c-section recoveries, so I'm pretty into thinking pain is kind of overrated.  So, when I got the call my youngest sister, who wanted to go naturally (eye roll) was at the hospital the same time as me (iron treatment) I was anxious to get up to her room to help be a birth coach (I mean, who wouldn't want me as a natural birth coach right?!?!).  Anyway, I'm just gonna lay it out there.  Watching her go through a six hour labor, with no drugs, and the strength it took for her to meet her baby, was honestly pretty much the most awe-inspiring thing I have ever seen in my whole life.  For real, even the next day I kept saying to my husband "you should have seen it! I have never seen anything like it".  It was so beautiful, so 'right'. I, for the first time in my almost 35 years understand the beauty of drug free birthing.  I mean, not that I'd ever attempt it, but it was really something.  OH, and the fact that like three minutes after everything my sister was literally GLOWING and acting like the last six hour of utter intensity and exhaustion had not even happened was beyond my understanding.  So cool.  And welcome to the world my sweet little godson Milo Nixon. 

Sassy post to follow- because you missed all the sass 

I cannot believe, that seemingly the majority of people I know, think that one should have to bake a wedding cake for a couple who's wedding goes against the core beliefs of the baker.  It is INSANITY that we are living in that kind of world.  And, by the way, as I have said a couple times, I am DEF. a part of the group who wouldn't see the cake baking to be an issue if I was asked... but dang, if people do...we really think the LAW should force them to make a cake?!!?!?!  I am telling you, this world has gone bat Sh#$ crazy and I am so afraid of the consequences.  This is maybe a little creepy facebook stalkerish, but you know how sometimes things show up on your newsfeed?  Well Jenny from mama needs coffee  said something like (not an exact quote) 'I think we are going to be really surprised in 10-20 years when we see what happens with religious liberties and our ability to practice freely and evangelize' ... clearly, it's stuck with me.  And yea, I think we are.  My poor kids...

John Paul, my youngest, can now crawl out of his crib.  Not 'fall' out of his crib, but intentionally and quietly crawl out of his crib. I discovered this yesterday when making lunch when he started knocking on his door and calling, 'mommeeeeeee'.  Yikes! none of my other kids even kind of attempted to get out of their cribs.  Time for the triple bunk bed eh?

I had a dream about my dear friend Paul at the beginning of the week. I know this is silliness, but ever since he has passed, like so many of us do I am sure, I asked God if I could maybe talk to him in a dream.  How childlike right? Anyway, on Monday I think, I had a dream we were all at a memorial for him.  And it was sooooooooooo sad.  My heart was so heavy.  But, after there was a reception, and he was there.  In the dream, because of how dreams go, it was very normal for him to be hanging around.  Then, he came up to me and asked me to come with him to look at some baby pictures of him.  In the dream, I didn't realize the significance, so I took his hand and went with him.  He showed me a scrap book of all kinds of baby pictures of him (Which, if you know paul, pictures aren't exactly something he even kind of cares about) and then, there was a huge light that just kind of encompassed us, and then I woke up.  When I woke up is when I realized how cool it was that I just got to spend time with me friend.  And I take great comfort in that dream.  That is all.

Franciscan University is so dumb.  I hate when I look back at my University and have to acknowledge the dumb things about it.  Poor Eve Tushnet, that's all I gotta say. I can't imagine the type of martyrdom she has to face- it's such a bummer that an academic institution would be so dumb.    

Um, so yeah.  Disney is happening.  I am like a little kid, barely able to stand my excitement.  I'll tell you all about it when I tell you all about it :)

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Friday, March 6, 2015

7 things about life around here

This week, I spoke at a Theology on Tap on doubt and it's correlation to faith.  I also was able to speak at a young adult Lenten retreat over the weekend.  It was so fun.  I gotta admit, the young adult crew might be becoming my new favorite.  It's got me a little more than a little excited to emcee the Michigan Catholic Young Adult Conference in a few weeks.  Maybe I'll see you there (if you are from Michigan and a young adult!).

I went to Confession on Saturday.  I told the priest that I am pretty much miserable and because I am miserable I am pretty much always yelling at my husband and children.  He said, 'Why don't you try yelling at God and leaving everyone else alone"- I laughed out loud.

Aaron and I went to a Brazilian Steakhouse this week. Have you ever been to a Brazilian Steakhouse?   Here's the thing, I'm not really a huge red eat meat-er (much to my iron count's sadness) but if I was, this would have been the shiznatch.  I mean, so much meat it was insane.  We had a good talk about our future and where we are headed and what we'd like to be able to do.  It was good. It's fun to project ahead and look at what our future will hold, while being aware that nothing is guaranteed.   

Still Alice.  Wow.  Now that was a beautifully heartbreaking movie.  Go see it if you can.

Grief is pretty amazing isn't it.  As I continue to process that this earthly life no longer has my friend Paul in it, there are ups and there are downs.  Sometimes I listen to 2 pac's "Life Goes On" (don't even try it unedited) and I feel better.  Then, I think of Paul watching me listen to 2 pac whilst grieving him...and I imagine him laughing.  Hard.  

My parents took my boys overnight this week. I was kind of bold- they offered to take them overnight on the weekend and I was like, "oh, that'd be great, but maybe you could take them on a weekday". The weekdays are so hard, which I know you guys know.  So anyway, they said yes.  I had the best of intentions to get my house in order, but then I threw up all day.  Wait!  Before you are overwhelmed by tragedy, during the day my dad text and was all like. "want us to keep them another night?"  and I, of course responded, "no, no, I'll be fine".  Then my mom text a couple hours later and asked if I'd like them to stay an extra night...I had just finished getting sick for like the four hundreth time, so I responded, "heck yes! I do".  And they did. I kind of felt bad, because I think they were just offering to be polite, but- you know, I needed the break.  This is turning into a long story...you know what I find fascinating about when my kids are gone?  I miss them so darn much, even if they are only 20 minutes away.  But when they are here, sometimes I am like, "I DESPERATELY NEED A BREAK!!!!"  Being a mom is fascinating stuff.

I've been making some big decisions lately, to step down from some big things and loosen up on the things I am obligated to (even though I'm not obligated to a lot).  It has caused me to spend a LOT of time in prayer about this season of my life and finding contentment in my calling as wife and mother.  I'll tell you more about that later, but in the meantime, I just wanted to let you know.

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/  


Friday, February 27, 2015

Guess What's Back- that's right the ol' Quick Takes

Well, well, well.... aren't we just in the THICK OF IT?!?!  There's more I can say, but I'll just leave it at this, every.single.Friday, it feels as though I have made it through a battle, clawing my way till 5:30 pm when Aaron comes home to relieve me for the weekend.  Yes, my friends, that's where we are at.

Aaron, the husband has been such a partner the last couple weeks I can't even describe it. The type of partner who is getting up with the kids EVERY morning, making me breakfast, cleaning the house, running the laundry, completely taking over at 5:30 pm when he gets home... etc... THAT kind of partner.  Whenever I get discouraged, Aaron reminds that we are 'Team Wilkerson...we can do anything'.  These last couple weeks, he has really put his money where his mouth is.

Can't believe it's been over a month since Paul entered into eternal life.  I am also taken back by how often I will burst into tears.  The little things that trigger the reality that my friend is no longer here in his physical form on earth. It's still so very hard.  The trickiest thing to process though is a bit unexpected.  It seems so weird to me that through the last 17 years, God always knew that Paul would be taken at 34.  I've told you that faith was always a part of my friendships in college and post.  It's hard to process that with each lovely memory, God knew the whole time they were limited.  Truth be told, it makes me kind of angry.  I know the anger is irrational.   But it's there. I don't stay with it.  But it is there.

On a much happier note...the boys LOVED wearing their uncle Paul shirts. Like, loved it.  Lil' Aaron didn't want to take them off.  That brought my heart much joy.  That, and the fact that they always ask to hear the 'Uncle Paul Song' (I Lived- One Republic).  Another cute thing, there was a commercial, with people paragliding...lil' Aaron said, 'Oh my gosh!  It's uncle Paul!'.  Cute huh?

"pregnancy brain" is a funny thing.  I especially loved last week, when I was talking on the phone with my sister downstairs and it was time to bring the kids upstairs.  While talking, I searched for a good five minutes for the phone.  It was super hard to find because I was talking to my sister on it.

I know you know, but the well meaning strangers who give advice on children/parenting...man, I'd like to punch them in the face.  
"Listen here lady, I know my kid is sucking on the Target cart handle, and I know it's probably super gross for you to see, but here's the thing, I've got a handful of them, so sometimes I pick my battles.  Oh, and my kids have kick butt immune systems"

I don't understand why people don't understand why talking on the phone is impossible for me, and I ALWAYS prefer email or text. I've got a 3, 2, and 1 year old.  One is always melting down.  Oh, and added to that, the 2 hours I MIGHT catch twice a week when they are sleeping at nap time, I don't want to spend talking on the phone with anyone. ever.   I know I am hormonal, but I have seriously considered throwing my phone out the window, or doing away with actual 'talk' minutes.  Sure, you don't prefer email/text, but guess what, I don't prefer voice talking....

so.... someone's a little cranky.

On that note, I'll let you carry on with your day!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

You Just Don't GET IT

I swear, if I hear one more “faithful Catholic” offering a critique of Pope Francis,  instead of challenging themselves to listen to what the shepherd is saying, and WATCH what the shepherd is doing… I think I’m gonna lose it. 

I’ve tried to be quiet, because I don’t want to offend.  But here’s a list of expressions in regard to Pope Francis that make me cringe…

“He just has to be more careful- he has no idea the weight of his words”

“He’s just not an intellectual, so he doesn’t realize the damage”

“He is using dangerous language, compromising the core of Catholic doctrine”

“I just wish he’d start using a script”

“He is leading people astray because he is too ambiguous”

“Silly Pope Francis, he has good intentions but just doesn't understand how his words are being interpreted”

“Someone needs to sit down with the Pope and explain to him how dangerous his words are”

I got a call from a family member the other day saying there’s a letter, signed by even RICK SANTORUM (gasp! j/k means nothing to me) begging the Holy Father to reconsider how he is approaching instruction.

Guess what?  The condescending critiques of the Pope from those who deem themselves protectors of truth are insulting, silly and transparent. 

Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp 
(cf. Jn 10).
- Pope Francis

This!  THIS!  The Holy Father had this to say to a room full of Cardinals last week.  And when I read it, I wanted to stand up all by myself in my family room and applaud.  LOUDLY.  My favorite part?  The SCANDAL of Jesus.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Pope Francis and Scandal be used interchangeably by those who would consider themselves orthodox Catholics.

I’m gonna confess something that might make me lose my ‘Orthodox Catholic Card”.  The synod on the family, I LOVED it.  I even loved the early released edition that made all the fancy theologians nervous. I thought the language was awesome. I thought the language was intentional.  And I found the language, particularly on homosexuality and divorce to be extremely helpful. I didn't worry we were flying down a slippery slope, led by a careless leader who doesn't understand why intentional language is important.  In fact, I saw such wisdom, such beauty in the desire to use language to reach those who feel beyond the grasp of God’s love.  I celebrated, as a huge group of people panicked.  And I wondered… am I missing something or are they?  I now can say with certainty “they” are.  And perhaps, if you are one of them, YOU ARE!

Our culture is moving through profound changes.  We have gone, in a relatively short time, from being a culturally Christian community, to having no sense of black or white, truth or lies.  Warnings from spiritual leaders went unheeded and we now operate in a time of profound relativism and it effects EVERYTHING we do.  Instead of cursing the climate change, it’s time we recognize that a catechist's JOB is to speak to the climate. 

Through Pope Francis we are privy to watching a masterful catechist teach, teach to a confused and hurting world.  And yes, YES the confused and hurting world is misunderstanding some of what he says, but they are listening.  My gosh, wake up!  They are listening.  And it’s our job to help correct the misunderstandings now that the conversation has begun, rather then curse the fact that the conversation is happening. 

To those of you who choose to engage in the special breed of criticism of the Holy Father, the awkwardly passive aggressive choice of words that allows one to feel supportive of the Pope whilst admonishing his simple and misguided choices of language, I want to make something very clear for you.

The Holy Father isn't currently trying to get the attention of the faithful so we can smile and nod at each other, slapping each other high-five for our like-minded understanding of truth.  Rather, he is purposefully and effectively getting the attention of those who do not believe, those who have been hardened, those who have been led to believe that the Catholic Church is one of rules and distance- representing an unfeeling and uncaring God.  That’s who he is talking to. 

And ‘our’ job?  Our job is so darn exciting.  Our job is to take the content of teaching we have been blessed with, in a special way by Pope Benedict and Pope Saint John Paul II, and answer the questions of those who are listening.  Listening for the first time ever, or the first time in years, because our Holy Father, a saintly man of God has decided to speak to them.

And now, I’m just going to leave this right here.  I beg of you to let it challenge you- as it is challenging me.

"The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. This does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold, but welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world. The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity; to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the "outskirts" of life. It is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: "Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners" (Lk 5:31-32)."
- Pope Francis