Friday, August 29, 2014

7 quick takes road trip edition

Road trippin' to Kentucky and so I don't have the fancy 7 quick takes format, but thought I'd share some takes on the way!

At the end of the night, when I go to each boy's bed and put their blankets over them one last time... I always think to myself "I can't believe I have three boys". It's truly wild!  

We are not doing preschool. Around this time of the year, I feel like a bad parent for that decision.   I'll get over it.

I always try to tell people "The Walking Dead" is such a good show- so much more than zombies. But I finally figured it out.  I figured out why I think it's a really good moral show as well. In the Catholic faith- there is this understand that the end never justifies the means. So even if a "good" is the outcome, if you have to willingly participate in evil, it's not okay. In our time, that particular philosophy is becoming further away from the norm of thought. But! In the walking dead- they always show it. And the characters portray how very difficult it is to do the right thing in tough situations. Anyway, that's your nerd talk for the day.
The Emmys were awesome! And all the people I wanted to win, won!!! (Which never happens). And the dead people part was very touching, especially the song in the background in light of robin Williams. Well done Emmys.

Dr. Ben Carson... My new favorite. I think we'd be best friends. 

I have this dream, always and it's terrifying. I am at college (Franciscan university in Egan hall) and I realize I have not been to class all semester, and I don't even know what classes I was suppose to be attending. Then, I try to figure it out, but realize I am going to fail out. It's always so stressful. I had it three times last week, so this week I decided to look it up.
Side note- I don't really believe in dream interpretation, but sometimes it has value, like in the common dream I have when all my teeth fall out. Turns out, it's a very regular dream. 


TURNS OUT... this dream is super common too. 

It was so weird reading people give the same account of a dream I've had for years.

And, incase you are wondering, it indicates one is neglecting an important part of one's life- often time health.

Um, yup!

The movie, "jobs"
I liked it a lot more than I thought i would. It's on Netflix. You should watch it.

Have a great week and check out more quick takes at "conversiondiary.com"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Talk to Me Tuesdays...remember these?

Hey 'member talk to me Tuesdays? I used to love these.  I am resurrecting them because this quote has been rollin' around in my mind/heart/conscience

"The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor.   But what happened instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger-- nothing ever comes out for the poor"
- Pope Francis

Crazy right?  I think it's easy to look at this quote and shake our fists at Capitalism (which has it's problems) - and the American structure of 'bigger, better, greed, more, more, more'!  I think it's easy to take the Pope's words and frame them into our internal political battles here in the US of A- that's easy.

What's far more difficult is to consider how this quote can challenge us personally.  We have visited this topic before, but I am interested in your thoughts in light of this quote.  I know many of us are struggling to get out of debt and just get by (but are we REALLY?).  However, to those of us who are out of debt and making choices with excess money, it's difficult isn't it?

You see, when we moved into our little 'just over 1000 square foot' home, I thought we'd live here forever.  It used to drive me crazy to no end when people would call it our 'starter home'.  But now, after almost five years, we are considering moving (not anytime soon).  Why?  I want a dining room (right now, our kitchen would not be big enough to put a table in that would fit eight).  I would like a fireplace.  I want a bigger bathroom, because it is really challenging to bath the babies with my face smashed against the toilet (true story) and zero storage space.

But, our house has sufficient space.  I could give up the dream of the fireplace, we could put a dining table in the basement, and I can suck up my bathroom woes (as Aaron said, "My grandmother raised 9/10 children in one house with a bathroom much smaller than this").

The house is just an example though, it's more than that.  We live, in the United States, a life of excess.  Even our poverty line is skewed based on the rest of the world.

At what point is too much, too much?  How do you know when you are magically making your cup bigger, rather than allowing it to overflow?  People say it's only about percentage of personal wealth/giving, but do you think that squares away with the magic cup idea?  How do you make these decisions in your household?  SUPER curious to hear your thoughts...

Friday, August 22, 2014

7 Quick Takes- enter at your own risk

The ice bucket challenge, with an option to donate to the ALS fundraiser of your choice, is awesome. If you don't think it is, you are wrong.

The president shouldn't have been golfing this week. I get he deserves a vacation (probably more than most of us), but when you have certain jobs, and there is a crisis, you have to stop your personal world. I used to have to do it in ministry all the time- it's part of the reason I knew full time ministry had to go once I had children.  He shouldn't have been golfing.  If you disagree, you are wrong.

I'm going to the prayer service at Hart Plaza today for the persecuted people of Iraq.  You should join me.  Truth- I am kind of afraid, but feel we should be there.  

Social media has been a hard place to be the last couple of weeks. It makes me want to take a break.  I have been taking lots of breaks- but thinking about an extended one.  But then, I think, if we all take a break, only the crazies are left, and wouldn't that suck???? (I understand many of you probs think I am the crazy).

I was shocked by the amount of people who commented that the Duggars (I don't watch the show) are awful because one of them got married after 'courting' for eight months and announced their pregnancy two months later.  My husband and I got married after 12 months and announced our pregnancy 2 months later...now I know what you really think.  And you are not nice.  And, you are wrong.

It's time to bring back healthy living in our lives.  This summer was REALLY difficult with lots of out of town and I fell off the wagon.  Time to jump back on.  

I'm just kidding.  Wouldn't that be funny if that was my seven though?  
Just an 
Truth- I am feeling a bit of 'ugh' lately but, BUT, there is this song, I am putting it below and it is a great reminder about who is in control.  When I start to get overwhelmed by the 'ugh' I keep remembering #ourGodisgreater.  It makes me feel better.  You should listen to it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gaza #themoreyouknow

Below is a letter I received in my email this morning from Terra Sancta Pilgrimages (who I had the pleasure of traveling to the Holy Land with). It offers a first hand account of Christian Palestinians living in the Gaza strip (lest we forget that Palestinian is a nationality,  not a religion).  Please read!

"We want to share with you a wonderful article about the Catholic Church in Gaza written by a friend of ours who works with the Holy Land.  He is a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher.  I hope you profit from it and pray for the courageous sisters, priests and laity who stand strong as the living stones of the land there."- Terra Sancta

Gaza: The Best of Us
Gaza. A word that is rarely associated with positive images. Yet, it is here that the strength and love of the Church in action is best on display.

According to Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA's regional director for Palestine and Israel, “Our churches and Church institutions in Gaza provide a beacon of hope despite all of the misery, Holy Family School, the Greek Orthodox parish and its' Cultural Center have all opened their facilities to hundreds of displaced families, giving them food, clean water and above all a safe roof over their heads. The Anglican run Al Ahli Hospital, continues to open up its facilities in this emergency crisis to anyone needing medical treatment, without charge. Incarnate Word Father Jorge Hernandez continues to risk his life every day by making home and hospital visits. The Missionaries of Charity continue to call Gaza home despite the various offers for evacuation.” The Daughters of Charity and other religious orders have also stayed.

Despite being warned to leave Gaza and with their residence damaged by Israeli shelling; the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity have silently continued their work amid an Israeli troop ground offensive. “We have taken the Fourth Vow — of giving wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor, no matter what the circumstances. We are privileged to serve in Gaza, which is one of the poorest places in the Middle East. As for the raids, we have got used to the sound of the bombs exploding. We have learnt to live with it,” Sr.Liliet says. Their Convent is in Gaza City and their Superior Sister Belfina says that they are “not going anywhere” war or no war. They have in their care over 24 disabled children and 15 elderly women whom they will not leave. The House of Christ in Gaza, is a care home dedicated to looking after them.

Sister Liliet of the Order is from India. “The Indian office in Ramallah has been calling often, sometimes four times a day, to check on me. It offered to arrange for my passport and papers so that I can return to India... But I don’t want to go back,” she says. “The bombings have caused a lot of damage... the borders are closed. People’s houses are being destroyed. Most of the children in our convent are from these villages. Their parents leave them here so that they are safe and are fed properly.” says Sister Liliet.

And this is not the first time the Sisters chose to remain with the people despite the danger. During the conflict of 2009, the Sisters stayed in Gaza despite being told to leave. They continued to bathe, feed and care for the incapacitated elderly and the mentally and physically disabled children as well as they could. Their home is located in the center of the city just behind Holy Family Catholic Church.

Sister Thertsen Devasia told Catholic News Service at the time, “We are OK. We go to Mass every day at the Latin church. Father sends his car for us and brings us back.” Some of the children had been terrified by the noise of the bombings, she added, but most do not react to their surroundings. A one year old girl who was living with them screams whenever she hears loud noises, the nun said. That year also, a 15–year–old Greek Orthodox girl died from a heart attack; unable to take the strain from the fear of the aerial attacks. “By the grace of God we are safe and we will stay here. If something happens to our people we will be with them,” said Sister Thertsen.

Gaza’s 1300 Christians are made up of some 310 families.  “All of them are concentrated in the city of Gaza, Fr. Raed explains.  “So they are in the middle of the conflict. The whole situation is difficult:  no electricity, no water, day and night bombardments, missiles from both sides." “I am describing the situation but to see the photos and hear these stories, it’s really beyond your imagination!" says Fr. Raed. "It’s like in the Second World War which means wholesale destruction.  They are targeting everybody: civilians, women, children and hospitals. Churches are trying to help them, providing them with food, with gasoline, with milk for their children."

Recently, the Holy Family Church in Gaza had also received an evacuation order warning them that Israel was planning to bomb their neighborhood that night. Father Raed Abusahlia, president of Caritas Jerusalem who has been in contact with the parish priest, told Catholic News Service that Father Jorge Hernandez of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and the three nuns who live at the parish had nowhere to evacuate the severely disabled children and elderly women in their care.  "How will they manage to leave? If anyone can intercede with someone in power, and pray, please do it. "
Since Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza, it has sent text messages to citizens to evacuate if they will be near a target. Israel bombed near Holy Family Catholic Church the morning of July 30. Father Hernandez, said the main target of the bombing was a home a few meters away from the parish. The home was completely destroyed, and the parish school, office and some rooms used by the parish were partially destroyed. Father Abusahlia told CNS all the windows of the whole compound, as well as that of the Greek Orthodox Church, already were shattered from previous bombings of buildings around them. 

Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA's Regional Director said that the clinics run by the Near East Council of Churches in Gaza “are all shut down because they operate in areas that are way too dangerous to reach.”  

Churches have opened their doors to numerous displaced people, giving refuge to as many as they can. “In our Holy Family school the number of refugees was days ago, 700.  Today, we reached 1,100 people living there.  In the Greek Orthodox church, days ago the number was 1,100 people.  Now, it is 1,900 people. Caritas has been providing them with powdered milk, diapers and gasoline, which is especially important after the attack on the Gaza electrical plant", according to Fr. Abusahlia.

"Everything happens around us," he said. "And we cannot do anything. We cannot evacuate, it is impossible with children. Their families live here. It is more dangerous to go out than stay here. We try to stay in safer places, always on the ground floor." Fides quoted Father Hernandez as saying: "We had a tough night, but we are here."

Despite the violence, the Church continues to build bridges. There is the increasing solidarity between the Christian minority and Muslim majority. This is growing in Gaza as both suffer under the Israeli offensive, with churches sheltering all religions and with prayers being offered up on all sides. The church has become a haven not just for Christian but also hundreds of Muslim families seeking shelter there as the offensive drags on. “The church has been our hosts for the past two weeks, offering food, clothes and whatever we needed, their loss is our loss, their pain is our pain,” says 45-year-old Mr. Abu Khaled. Father Manuel Musallam, a former priest of Holy Family Parish in Gaza, has always been an advocate for unity. Father Musallam told the Muslim community, “When they destroy your mosques, call your prayers from our churches”. 

Recently, an Israeli missile hit the house of the Ayyad family. The Ayyads, who are Christian, were the first family among the tiny minority in Gaza to be targeted since the offensive began three weeks ago. Sami El Yousef said that, although the Israeli army apparently warned the family that their home would be targeted, a missile flew through their roof and into the home before they were able to flee. Jilila Ayyad was killed instantly; her son, Jeries, survived, but sustained extensive burns and shrapnel wounds that required the amputation of both his legs.

A memorial service was held on Sunday for Jalila at Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church. She had to be buried three hours after her death “because there were no places left in the hospitals." In something that surprised local journalists, both Christians and Muslims carried out Jalila's remains together. Shared wounds and mourning are bridging past divides in war torn Gaza. “The world must realize that Israel’s missiles don’t differentiate between Christians and Muslims,” said Abu Khaled.

Another example of the Church at its finest are workers like George Anton, a CNEWA team member. He “leaves his young family on a daily basis and risks his own life to visit local institutions and individuals in order to assess the situation on the ground,” CNEWA's Regional Director said. "He shares the lives of ordinary people affected by the war, the displaced families housed at the Holy Family Catholic Church, the hundreds of injured patients at the Anglican-run Al Ahli Hospital and the devout Muslim women and their children taking refuge at the ancient Greek Orthodox church: which itself had sustained damage by Israeli artillery shelling."

"Despite all of the suffering,” El-Yousef writes, “the Christian mission is certainly at its best. These brave souls — who are personally risking their lives — continue to comfort the injured and displaced, and provide assistance to the weak and marginalized with the Gospel in their hearts. Please know that your support and prayers for the people of Gaza, especially the women and children, are priceless and help to keep hope and faith alive.”
The Latin (Catholic) Patriarch in the Holy Land says of the situation: "Their families are in need of everything. We do what we can with Caritas and the resources of the Patriarchate, but we get little concrete and effective support from the outside. Messages and statements we read are not enough to say: we are with you".

As Sister Thertsen said, "If something happens to our people we will be with them”. When the best of us like Sister Thertsen can remain in Gaza while bombs literally fall around them: it is more important than ever, we take action and reach out to let them know that they are neither alone nor forgotten.

Interviews compiled from a variety of sources.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A police officer and a black man

My brother is a police officer, I'm not sure all of you know that.  I'd call him a cop, but my parents never let us call police officers cops, they found it to be disrespectful.  So, he's a police officer.   He is also the father of six kids, a marine, and an ex seminarian. And I fear for his life...all.the.time.  His job is hard. Last year, we had a falling out, it lasted a few months, we didn't really talk. He called a few times, but I hate talking on the phone and I REALLY hate talking on the phone in conflict, so I put off returning the calls.  But then, I was driving down the highway and I passed a police officer.  And I thought of my brother and his job, and the uncertainty of his safety because of what he does. I called him that night. I called because it hit me that because he is a police officer, in a very real way he puts his life at risk. He responds to calls of domestic violence, and to random traffic stops with unstable people. He is called in for robberies and walks into danger on the regular. Oh yea. And he gets paid crap. We hear often and regularly how teachers are underpaid, in our city, the starting salary for a cop was less than 35k. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.

My husband is an African American man. We are a mixed family with three adorable little mixed babies. And I don't fear for his life. Ever. I asked him, the other day, if he ever felt physically in danger because of his race, his answer was no. He also was never really in trouble. Aaron went to Detroit public schools, but his parents were intentional, so he attended a school of choice. His parents are married, he is educated and he would tell you he has never faced one closed door because of his race.  And I guess I should note a few things, like that I get the generation before us faced terrible persecution because of their race. I get that we live in michigan, and although sometimes racially divided, for the most part people get along just fine.  People have given us looks, and, in Aaron's past, a couple people were creeps to him because of his skin color... But his life has never been threatened. Because he was black.  Aaron doesn't fear for his life as a black man.

I guess I just wanted to remind you of that. The "don't shoot" story that proclaims police just like to kill black men is deeply, deeply flawed. It's an insult to members of law enforcement, it's an insult to my brother. And sure, there is an abuse of power sometimes, I've met my fair share of police officers who need to prove the size of their gun...but I'm doubtful there exists even a handful who are out to kill black kids.

So, as the story of Ferguson continues to be told, as the facts continue to come to light- I'd be careful about the things you say, post, repeat and believe. Because you just might be forgetting the ones who truly take risks, you might be re-telling a narrative that's just not true.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes in which I tell you what I learned from Aaron being laid off.

Aaron was laid off a week ago today.  If you’re pretty close to us and hadn't heart yet- we are sorry, we have been trying to wrap our heads around what to do.  Scary huh?  It was totally unexpected- so it’s thrown us for a bit of a loop.  But, these last seven days I have learned me some things. I’d like to tell you about them.

--- 1 ---
I am married to an incredible man. 
Those of you, who know me, probably know that.  Those of you, who know us, might be confident in that.  Those of you who only kind of know Aaron, or feel like you haven’t really gotten to know him… you might be surprised.  But he is top notch.  He hit the ground running after the initial shock. I can’t tell you the amount of connections he has made, the interviews lined up, etc… Most men would need a hot second to wallow before they’d be ready to kick butt.  Not my husband.  He has hit the pavement hard, and I am not worried.
--- 2 ---
I don’t hate CrossFit (the capitalization is important).
  Some of you know Aaron’s exercise routine has been a bit of a strain the past six months.  It’s hard because it adds a big element of time into our day, and our days are already a bit crazy.  I have b@##$’d a lot about him going.  But, I will tell you, the minute this happened I knew CrossFit's importance.  It’s so easy, when stress occurs, to immediately stop taking care of your health.  I knew going to CrossFit was important for Aaron, but he really felt/still feels like it’s a luxury for working people ;)  Anyway, several people from the gym, including the owners, reached out to him, noticing he’d been gone for a few days.  Letting him know he needed to come in to blow off stress and steam.  THAT’s what life is made of.  Relationships that encourage, and more than that, reach out.  I’m now drinking the CrossFit juice (though don’t ever expect to see me at ‘the box’... however, I said, ‘the box’ this week…Aaron said it was progress). 
--- 3 ---
I am a “calm now, freak the freak later” type.
 I have always known this, but man was it crystal clear this week.  I barely batted an eye when my husband came home, shaking he was so upset, to tell me he was laid off.  I was surprised, but steady.  Assuring him we would be okay.  I did good for two more days.  Any fears shrugged off, tried to be as supportive as possible to my husband, etc… BUT then, there was Monday and Tuesday.  Joey, as most of you know, was chucked (accidently) into a wooden table by the eldest.  He gashed his head.  He needed stiches.  We’ve had a few more issues, some I am sure I will tell you about later- enough to throw a person off her game.   I freaked on Monday and Tuesday. I mean, I was so angry inside.  Smiling at my kids and being kind to my husband was literally like a battle between the me I can be, and this devil beast who wanted to throw an all-out tantrum on the floor. I am glad Big A stuck with me through those two days- and now we are okay.  It’s just funny, my delayed reactions.  Need to work on that ;) 
--- 4 ---
Friends/family are important and times like this really help define important people. 
We were planning on being up north last weekend.  We decided to still go after having the ‘no job’ news.  At first we weren’t going to tell anyone. HA! How do you not tell the closest people to you something so significant?  Our family rallied hard around us.  Tears and worry were expressed.  They let me be a little crankier than usual.  Swear a little more than I normally would have (which, as we know already is A LOT- sorry Shawn, still feeling bad about that one).  Our family was awesome.  We have learned a lot about friendship this week, in those who have made sure to reach out.  Check on us every couple days.  It’s been good. 
--- 5 ---
Jesus is super important.  
didn't get it, at first, why Aaron was so upset last Thursday.  Like, yea, losing a job is never awesome, but we are okay financially for a few months and I am super confident in my husband’s ability to make stuff happen.  But then, driving in the car one day, everything clicked. I said to Aaron something along the lines of, “This must be hard for you, because even if you know we are okay, you know our peace rests so much on you as the dad/husband…and you have three kids and it was unexpected- that has to be scary”-  BULL’S EYE. I could see in his face, I hit the nail on the head.  
And would you like to know how my husband has responded to that fear/anxiety?  
He has started each morning going by himself to Mass, to pray for the good of our family, to pray for wisdom.  He has met his fear/anxiety by meeting Jesus with it each day.  Trusting walking WITH God in crisis is better than walking without Him. I like Jesus.  A lot. 
--- 6 ---
A Financial Plan/Safety net is Essential.  
Three years ago we began Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  We did it to pay off almost $90,000 of debt and then, to provide a way for me to become a Stay at Home Mom.   Now, I see it’s value in a whole new way. I cannot imagine if this had happened four years ago, prior to us whipping our finances into shape.  Because we no longer live ‘paycheck to paycheck’…we really are okay.  And with three small children, I cannot tell you how much that calms my heart.  How much peace that brings.  Jobs/Incomes can shift in a minute- it’s best to be prepared for whatever that might mean.
--- 7 ---
WHO you work for is important. 
I know, DUH.  Aaron was let go because he was the lowest on the totem poll.  It makes sense.  We made a decision about 9 months ago to move to a smaller company, in hindsight that now seems dumb.  The company thought they’d get a few accounts that fell through.  I get it.  Companies are not charities.  BUT, this week, I understand the value of making sure you work for a morally good company (to the best of your ability).  You see, because Aaron’s company was small- they knew him.  They knew Aaron was a man with three small children.  And they waited till the last day of the month to let him go so they wouldn't have to pay him another two weeks and wouldn't have to pay out any new insurance.  So, the day he was fired, we lost our insurance.  And they did it on purpose.  Again, companies have a right to do that.  But, from now on, Imma make sure we work for the type of companies that wouldn't.  Because it was a sh@#$ thing to do.  And I am still mad about it.  Three days later Joey cracked his head and needed stitches.  We were fine, we are smart (thanks Dave Ramsey)- but it could have started snow ball of really awful financial things.  Again, his company did it on purpose.  To a man who they KNOW has three small children.  I am mad.  The company review I am crafting in my head is like, ‘whoa’ and I can’t wait to post it!  Not that I need revenge or anything like that.

Anyway- that's what I learned.  
I'm also going to ask your prayers.  My sister's boyfriend, Bravo, lost his mom totally unexpectedly on Monday.  The funeral is on Saturday, I know they'd appreciate any prayers they could get!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, August 1, 2014

7 quick takes driving up north edition!

So, here's the thing. I'm driving up north! And don't have the 7qt format- nor can I link to Jen at conversion diary... But you should go check out other quick takes there!
Turns out, the Buckley cottage is super relaxing if you don't have 30 people in it, more than half under the age of five. I briefly touched on it, but our up north adventure last year was not full of awesome. And I was waaaay too pregnant with waaaay too many toddlers to be there by myself. We ended our family vacation last year in complete silence, some of us siblings not speaking for months (we can talk about this now right?). Anyway- what a difference a year makes! Look how much fun we had last weekend...

The crazy thing is I have zero cell phone reception up north. It is crazy to be this disconnected. It took some adjusting but... It's crazy awesome! 
Now that Joey is talking in sentences, I gotta tell you- he has the cutest voice ever.
John Paul is walking with furniture- he is pretty much a teenager.
I keep having terrible dreams about being kidnapped. They are not fun.
Random fact about me. I love chewing ice. And, yes, I am iron deficient.
My dad is on his first official retreat for his formation in the diaconate! Would you pray from him and my mom this weekend? Thanks team! Have a great week.

7 quick takes driving up north edition!

So, here's the thing. I'm driving up north! And don't have the 7qt format- nor can I link to Jen at conversion diary... But you should go check out other quick takes there!
Turns out, the Buckley cottage is super relaxing if you don't have 30 people in it, more than half under the age of five. I briefly touched on it, but our up north adventure last year was not full of awesome. And I was waaaay too pregnant with waaaay too many toddlers to be there by myself. We ended our family vacation last year in complete silence, some of us siblings not speaking for months (we can talk about this now right?). Anyway- what a difference a year makes! Look how much fun we had last weekend...

The crazy thing is I have zero cell phone reception up north. It is crazy to be this disconnected. It took some adjusting but... It's crazy awesome! 
Now that Joey is talking in sentences, I gotta tell you- he has the cutest voice ever.
John Paul is walking with furniture- he is pretty much a teenager.
I keep having terrible dreams about being kidnapped. They are not fun.
Random fact about me. I love chewing ice. And, yes, I am iron deficient.
My dad is on his first official retreat for his formation in the diaconate! Would you pray from him and my mom this weekend? Thanks team! Have a great week.