It's been about six months now since I stopped blogging, and I've been feeling the urge to sit down at the computer once again. Quite a bit recently, actually - there are so many thoughts and experiences percolating in my brain from the past six months, that I'm actually not sure where to begin. Bear with me as I work my way through my muddled thoughts and promptings from my "sabbatical."
I spent a lot of time contemplating my life and vocation and just what God was calling me to as a Catholic wife and mother. As an introvert (through-and-through melancholic, at that), it was as if I was on a refreshing (albeit difficult at times, but I don't think those two characteristics are exclusive) six-month long retreat. I read. A lot. Spiritual books (mostly St Josemaria Escriva and Fulton Sheen). Mommy books. Catholic Mommy books. Blogs. Lots of blogs. Apologetics books. Good old Chesterton. Pretty much anything I could get my hands on that might help me grow deeper in my relationship with God and grow a better understanding of my vocation.
It seems only fitting that the calling to start implementing some of the things that I learned over this time, as well as some of the ways I feel called to change, during the liturgical season of repentance and renewal of our Catholic faith. God has a sense of humour, doesn't He? ;)
It's been an interesting six months, physically as well as spiritually, for me. Shortly after I wrote that last post back in August, we found out we were expecting a baby. This is pregnancy #6 for me, and carrying a child after a loss (or multiple losses) sends a woman into a place of fear and anxiety that I would never wish upon even my worst enemy. Looking back, I see my blogging sabbatical being just another way to cocoon myself from the outside world and nurture and protect this little one growing in my womb. God was calling me to focus on family and motherhood, with Him at the center, and at the time I didn't realize just what direction that was going to take.
In November, we discovered that I have a faulty gall bladder. I was sicker than I'd ever been before, and went through pain that was worse than giving birth. There was one night in particular that I honestly thought I was having a heart attack, and we went to the hospital. Abdominal surgery isn't the prime treatment to have done during a pregnancy, and so we decided to try a more conservative therapy of diet and lifestyle first. Again, God's calling to cocoon myself, to slow life down a bit, way back in August was preparing me for this experience. I was forced - it was medically necessary to "de-stress" - to prioritize family life and remove any excesses. I was forced to give up volunteer commitments and outside stressors, forced to simplify our family life - homeschooling became about the basics (no more weekly field trips), meals were simplified and we became a "whole food" kind of family (not the store, but the back-to-basics kind of whole food meals), our daily schedule was thinned out as much as possible. Carpools were created to minimize my time each week running errands. Family time became even more of a priority and we guarded it carefully. Weekly time spent in Adoration became a priority, not just a desire/would-be-nice-kind-of-thing. My days started and ended in prayer and reflection time. Naps and "feet-off-the-floor" time became a regular occurrence.
I guess you could say we started moving toward being simple Catholics (not any reference to any of the groups out there - I mean that we became simply Catholic. Let me explain). Our faith is so rich in traditions and beauty and Truth that we started moving toward focusing on a few simple ideas:
- we are called to become saints. All of us. Every single person we meet (and the ones that we never meet) are called to become saints, as they are also created in the image of God and He wants them in Heaven with Him just as much as He wants us there
- God has given us, personally, a vocation of marriage and family life as a means to becoming the saints we were meant to be.
- The "how to become a saint" has been revealed through the truths found within the Catholic Church, the church that Jesus founded
Everything in life can come back to one of these three ideas. Every choice, every action we perform, every word we say or write, every aspect of our home and family life should point toward these ideas. It's as simple as the "motto" of a friend of mine: "Get to Heaven, and bring your brother." With every choice/decision, it became my first step in discerning what we should do: does this reflect God, and therefore, help get me or someone else to Heaven? (It's amazing how much this can carry over to everything you do: what you choose to do with your actions, your words, your stewardship of your time, talents, and treasure, how you interact with the people and world around you. Does it respect God and His Creation?).
God's call to simplify and contemplate and pray way back in August was an invitation to join Him on a journey. A journey to sainthood. A journey THROUGH the mountains and valleys of motherhood and marriage. A journey full of suffering and joy, sorrow and love.
I have a lot more to share with you over the next few days, leading up to Lent. I hope that you'll join me throughout the season of Lent, too. I have a feeling that it will be a fruitful, exciting forty days. So much has happened here at the Circus, and I'm bursting at the seams to share the blessings and graces that God has showered upon us, and continues to on a daily basis.
I'm also looking forward to hearing from you. Shoot me a message. Leave a comment. What have your last six months looked like? Are you ready for the months ahead?
"On this Lenten journey, let us be attentive to welcoming Christ's invitation to follow him more decisively and coherently, renewing the grace and commitments of our Baptism, so as to ... clothe ourselves in Christ, thus reaching Easter renewed and being able to say with St. Paul 'it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me'" Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI