31 October, 2007

Color My Life Lord!!

As women of faith, God has created us for great things. He has created us with the ability to feel great joy and great sorrow. He has given us the influence to paint the world with our feelings and our lives.
And yet, so often we get caught up in our busy lives and the secular world. Our lives become stressful, dull, and neutral. We live in shades of gray or in some cases we become shrouded in black.

You’ve all seen or heard of the shows “Trading Spaces” or “While You Were Out”. The most exciting moment of these shows is the moment the designer opens the paint cans to reveal the creamy new color of the room. We need to help one another to open a few new paint cans in our lives by exploring one question:

What color palate is God creating in my life?

Consider the following passage. It is a passage I have struggled with regularly since I could understand it. How will I ever live up to the example of this woman??? How can I ever be as perfect as she is??? What I discovered when reading this passage in light of the forementioned question is that this woman's life was not about her successes or her failures, but her ability to create a beautiful palate of color in her life. Look at all of the amazing color and imagery used to tell her story!!!

Proverbs 31: 10-31
10 When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
11 Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
12 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
13 She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
14 Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
15 She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
16 She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
18 She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
20 She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
21 She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
22 She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
23 Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
24 She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
27 She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
28 Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
29 "Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
30 Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

What color is your life today?

26 October, 2007

A Sad Week

Life is so fragile.

Some people believe that deaths come in threes. This week they came in more than that. Kevin and I had to keep a firm eye on the end of the week hoping and praying it would bring an end to the sadness.

We were fortunate that the closest death came was a childhood playmate, but still. Each death made us reflect on just how delicate we are and just how out of control. Since our marriage, we have each become much more aware of how mortal we really are. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that now the impact of our own death is so much closer.

We had to elect life insurance this week (it is hard to believe there wasn't some kind of conspiracy going on there...). We both receive a small amount as a benefit through work, but we had to decide if we wanted more and how much. Kevin was adament that we get life insurance on him as the primary source of income. He wanted to be sure that I was provided for in the event of his death. He wanted me to be able to care for our children and myself in the most healthy way I could without him. I am very blessed by that gift. We filled out the election, sealed the envelope, and placed it in my purse for the mail.

Then I got to thinking, "What if something ever happened to me? What legacy did I want to leave for my husband and my children?" I want my husband only to worry and think about our children and not the expenses, not the budget. I want my children to have time with their dad. I want my children to have a good Catholic education. I don't want money to be an obstacle to the depth of their relationship in a time when they are so desperately going to need one another. I want to be sure that I leave my family in a state to successfully support one another without having to devote extra time to money.

So, I ripped open the election form and changed the election over to family. What's an extra $4 a month when you consider the benefits? For $48 a year I can assure that if God calls me home before I see my children grown, they will be cared for in a fashion similar to that which I would have cared for them.

Certainly, it is not all about the money, but in this case the money is what will make the care, the mercy, and the love an easier focus in a time of great darkness. And isn't that what God calls us to? We are called to look beyond ourselves and be loving stewards of our time, our love, our fortune, and our future.

Life is delicate. Embrace every opportunity. Love in every moment.

24 October, 2007

Oh Vey! Busy Woman Working!

I'm not even halfway through my week and I am exhausted!!! Don't get me wrong, this week has been great, progressive and encouraging, but sometimes that can be just as exhausting as the difficult, digressive and discouraging weeks...

I need to be filled up. I need a good hour or two with good friends. But there are a few problems...

#1 My first stop is a call with my sisters or my mom. They get me. They get my brain and they understand my goofy issues...I've done that. Sadly, they live WAY TOO FAR AWAY and we are all WAY TOO BUSY for regular phone calls. We've also concluded that growing up we did each other a terrible disservice being best friends...we've set some incredibly high standards for friends...

#2 Sure, I can get together with some of our friends and have a nice stiff drink and plentiful laughs...but what about the values struggles? What about the relationship questions? What about those "womens" problems? Those can't exactly be the topic of polite happy-hour conversations...

#3 So, my next recourse would be church. I love church. There are great people at church. We have a Ladies Guild right? Yes and the membership is primarily 40+ women playing bunco and planning craft sales...okay, so that doesn't work either.

Where are our Catholic young people? Where do I find them? Specifically, where do I find young Catholic women? To quote a dear friend, I am tired of feeling like an island!!!

For those non-denominational friends out there who are saying, "Come to church with us! We have a women's ministry!", my polite answer has to be no (as much as I appreciate your friendship and your invitation). You just don't have what I need. I feel as much like an island at your church as I do at my own because I cannot partake in the Eucharistic feast and because in your small groups I can't be my authentic self, Catholic, without being frowned upon or challenged. So the answer must lie somewhere else, although I will admit doing research into that possibility.

We as women need each other. We need the kind of support system that our mothers and grandmothers had in their sisters, aunt and mothers. It is very hard for us to achieve that in today's transplantable society. We have compartmentalized ourselves from the world. We go to work in our cars by ourselves. We sit in our office or cubical by ourselves. We come home and crash in our own rooms. We spend our evening hours with a computer screen with one keyboard and one mouse. When we exercise we shut out the world with our IPODs and Zunes. Even at church we come in at the last minute, sit in "my regular pew", and leave the second the organ heaves its last note.

How are we supposed to find women of faith, value, and joy?

I want to encourage each of you to think about the women in your life. Do they uphold you? Do they bring you joy and color? Do you uphold them? If not, go to your parishes and your churches and share your struggle. Together we will get the message out. We need honest and loving women to hold us accountable and women with whom we can share the very essence of our lives.

I propose these seven initial steps. First we pray. Then we trust. Then we pray again. Then we look, we listen, and we ask. And then we pray again.

I am so blessed to be hosting a gathering of 8 women this weekend at my home. I ask for your prayers. I hope it will be a gathering of great joy, sharing, and support; somewhere that a woman can come to be filled up by other women who will uphold her value system and faith-life.

God gave us others to walk the journey with. Let's find them offer our hand in friendship.