Category Archives: Familia

An Open Letter

Dear Recent College Graduate (and others seeking your way in life),

 

First, the disclaimer.  I am not a spiritual director.  I am not trained in the theology or methodology of discernment any more than any other semi-interested lay person.  I speak only from experience and reflection on that experience.  

Also, the hope is always that prayer is constant and earnest though it all.  We’re not perfect, but the more open we are with God (by means of giving him our time) the better chance we have of finding his will, whether we realize we have or not.

That said, I remember being in my last two years of college.  I remember the questioning: where is God calling me?  And more importantly(?), how can I know?

Shoot, I remember asking these questions in college, and after college, and when we had the opportunities to move our family or change jobs…we’re more or less there right now, as we consider finding a permanent place for our family to live.

So maybe that’s the bad news: discernment doesn’t go away when you decide on your career or who you will marry or which order to join.  If anything, the stakes just get higher.

So what is different about my discernment now and (gasp) 13 years ago?  How can I talk so glibly about such weighty matters?

Maybe it’s the good news: God is faithful.  With the benefit of hindsight, his faithfulness shows up all over our lives.  It’s just that often we had to be on the other side of the discernment to see it.

I think we (by which I mean Craig and I) always knew not to expect a booming voice from Heaven when we asked God to reveal his plans for our lives.  I expect most people are with us there.  That would have been nice, of course, but we weren’t quite that hopeful.

Still, I think we expected our options to be narrowed down.  Or some friend to come up with the perfect, unassailably flawless solution.  Or a scripture quote to appear in a retreat note which was exactly the same passage we were praying over when the email about this grad school came in.  

Basically, we wanted a sign.

And even now, a sign would be lovely.  I would love to be able to say, “Thanks, God!  Now that I know exactly what Your Holy Will is, I’ll do my best to follow your blueprint.”

Life just doesn’t seem to work like that. Not for us, at least.  We have found that the best way to find God’s will is to jump in and see what happens.  Peace?  Then we made a good guess based on the understanding we had.  Not peace?  Maybe we need pray (a lot) more and try again.  

I have found, for myself, that it is usually my gut that listens to God the best.  (This is rather Hebrew of me – the seat of the person being not in the heart but the innards.)  Anyway, it’s almost always a gut check that points me in the right direction.  

Watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from 2,000 miles away was my first indication that I wasn’t meant to spend my life in the hallowed halls of academia – I needed the real world too badly.

I knew for a while that I would rather be home with my kids than teaching Latin, but it took a drive across the Huey P. Long Bridge, my first day back to work after having Samantha, with her two-year-old sister in the back seat, with SNOW fluttering around the car – what on earth was I doing?  I was going to drop my kids at day care when it was snowing in New Orleans so I could teach Latin.  To mostly uninterested high school girls.  Gut check.

You get the idea.  Sometimes the scholarship comes through (or doesn’t) and the decision is made.  Sometimes the path is clear…but sometimes you just throw caution to the wind, close your eyes, and jump.

God will catch you.  

And where ever he puts you down, he will cause you to grow.  There may be a transplanting in your future, but by then you’ll have grown strong enough to survive it, and to blossom.

And…we’re back

Re-opening the blog attempt #…

yeah, I don’t know either.

The whole keeping-up-frequent-posts-with-no-home-internet thing is a bit of a drag.  It requires discipline.  Which I sometimes lack.

But here goes again, anyway.

I went to my first writer’s conference this weekend.  The Louisiana-Mississippi region of SCBWI held its first ever KidLit conference Saturday at Sacred Heart Academy in New Orleans.  It was lovely.

The take-away:  Write for yourself, revise for your readers.  Thank you, Cheryl Klein.  

We also got to meet Angie Thomas, four days after her debut novel The Hate U Give hit #1 on the NY Times bestseller list.  Needless to say, she was glowing.  Though I suspect that is usual for her.  She was definitely an inspiration.  Yes, I bought the book.  No, I haven’t read it yet.  Really have to finish Octavian Nothing Part II before I take on anything else.  And that may be a while.  

I also got to meet Carrel Muller, who is the lower school librarian at Sacred Heart.  I want my girls to go to school there so she can be their librarian.  She is lovely!  She convinced me I need to go back and fill in all the holes in my folklore and mythology education.  And read do the same with my kids.  She also read a piece of mine (in the First Look part of the program where they read and critique the openings of several submissions), and it was exactly as I would dream of a children’s librarian reading it to little ones.  So that was a very cool moment.  Now if I can just convince someone out there to publish it…

Right.  So on that note, I could use prayers for persistence – to keep showing up at the page, and to keep sending things out, despite the piles of rejections.  Blah.

For those of you who are here less for the minutiae of my writing life, and more for cute baby stories, the lovely children are well.  I’ve picked up two Latin classes at JPG in the mornings, so they are spending the mornings with a friend and coming home for lunch, naps, etc. in the afternoons.

Just through May.  If the headmaster asks, you can assure him I still do not want to come on full time next year.  This experience has been a good reminder of where I want to be.  Home.  Period.  Which, of course, includes the library and the park.  But mostly home.

I thought our chickens had stopped laying, but it turns out they laid all their eggs in the bushes for a while.  Under the blackberry brambles, to be precise.  We found 24 one day, and 7 the next.  We have three chickens.  Three eggs a day, at best.  So it was a jubilee.  They seem to have figured out the purpose of the nesting boxes again, though.  Which is easier, but less exciting.  You can’t have everything, I guess.

We planted some vegetables and flowers last weekend.  (Thanks to Fr. Sam for the seeds!  The wildflower bed is well on it’s way!)  Hopefully there will be pictures…when I get better at technology.  Maybe next spring.  
Book of the week: This Is Not My Hat by John Klassen.  Hilarious.  It should be used in film classes as a study in dramatic irony, and in writers’ workshops as and example of how the pictures and text work together.  No redundancy – each does its own part towards a flawlessly integrated whole.  And it’s soooo funny.

I hope that there will be more posts soon.   And that is not intended as ironic, but whether it is or not remains to be seen.

Such a man!

After supper, Isaac stood on his high chair, wiped his nose with his fist, wiped that on his shorts, and climbed down.
To which Lucy commented, “He’s such a man!”
We’ve taught her well.

Let the omelets begin!

The girls contest that we are well on our way to a farm: Polly, the chicken, has started laying eggs. We are up to three beautiful brown, medium-sized eggs as of this morning.  So we can make about half a breakfast, once a week from our own chicken.

Hey, it’s a start.

Moving Tip #3

Have awesome friends.  We have some pretty fantastic friends. We made a few trips with the pick-up ahead of time, but our friends showed up Saturday morning with a fleet of minivans (and one awesome trailer) and we moved a house full of stuff in two runs. By lunchtime, we were taking a break and deciding where bookshelves should be planted. Our friends cleared the forgotten corners of closetrs, put together our massive dining room table, and didn’t complain about lugging our mountains of junk. They were jpyfdul and encouraging, and even offered to come back for more later in the week. Best moving asset: friends looks ours.

Transportation…or Delicious Snack

Isaac’s new passion: motorcycles. Which he pronounces “moka-sikles”. Which I would like to spell mocha-sicle, and enjoy as a frozen chocolate-coffee treat. Sounds good, right? So now I get a popsicle craving every time we go for a drive.  I guess ttings could be worse.

Moving Tip #2

Mark your boxes with crayon instead of marker. I love my Sharpies, of course, but crayons work beautifully (and you get to see the interesting texture of the cardboard) and marauding two-year-olds can’t use them on furniture. At least, not as easily as a marker. And if you’re like me, it’s easier to find a broken crayon on the floor than your one functional Sharpie, which you put in a “safe” place.

Cheapskate Moving Tip #1:

Best place for free boxes:  the hoppers outside Dollar General.  Other dollar stores run a close second.

“Wait,” you might be thinking, “did I accidentally go to a blog about how to change residences on a budget?”

No, you are still at the blog about my thrilling life.  But we’re moving, hence today’s topic.  The wild experiment of two (and then three) families living in one house is coming to an end, and we will have our own place again.

I’ve not been writing much lately, so now you may be thinking, “That is a wild experiment!  Why didn’t I know about this?”

Honestly, there has been surprisingly little to write.  I’m hoping to have some reflections, which may or may not be worthy of sharing, after I’ve had some time to reflect.  Right now, it’s all about the boxes.  And the Clorox ones are the perfect size for two stacks of trade-size books.  No lie – best discovery, after the box hoppers, of the week.  Since books are literally somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of our non-furniture possessions.

Only downside to these boxes: we snagged some that had dryer sheets or laundry detergent or something in them, and the back of the truck and the house now smell like whatever fake perfumey stuff some people use on their clothes.  It is not a smell I would want to spend the day with.  But hey, the boxes were free.

Archery Practice

The Scene:
Isaac is playing with a (purple) bow. Of the bow-and-arrow, not hair decoration, variety. The arrows (mercifully) are missing.
Samantha: “No, Isaac! You can’t shoot people.” Pause. “UNLESS they’re sleep darts. I’m OK with sleep darts.”
Anyone know where I could get some of those?

It’s OK, he’s two.

While playing with Legos:

Me: Wow, my hands feel so big and clumsy.

Isaac: Yeah.

I was looking for sympathy, son, not agreement.