25 August, 2014

15 Months + 30 Years Equals Childhood

I always say that 15 months is when my life changes with a baby. Thomas has been no different. At the end of this month we will hit the 15 month milestone. He is walking, indicating needs, calling me mama, and feeding himself. He is as much joy and contentment as he was as a newborn. He brings so much light to our lives.

Next month marks another milestone for us as our beautiful Clara starts school. I will put two of my children on the bus each morning and spend a few blessed hours with my baby and my house. Never before have I had this blessing, challenging as it may be sometimes.

This year would have been so different if it weren't for the unexpected arrival of our Thomas. I would be working outside the home. I would be contemplating a move to full time. We would still have a nanny. The kitchen cabinets would not be refinished...

Because of the open nature of our marriage and my womb, our lives have been changed in such a miraculous way. I am now home with my children. I am now more present to their lives. Because I am now home during the day, my career as a writer and speaker has taken off in directions beyond my wildest dreams. My health has never been better in my adult life.

Today I sit in the visitor center of The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I am preparing to give a retreat for the executive board of Catholic Charities, La Crosse. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this as part of my life.

But my Lord did.

As I turn 30 this year, so many things have settled in my heart and become the focus of my prayer life. 30 so far seems to be the decade of reflection and reconciliation. We've lost some dear friends this year and come closer to others. We have been called to face the mortality of our loved ones and the mortality of ourselves. The great blessing in reflecting on our limited humanness is the opportunity to remember God generosity, God's provision, and God's fortifying love.

Since losing a dear friend in June I've spent a great deal of time reflecting on those in my life who have impacted the woman I am today. Two weeks before his death I ran into him while dining at a local restaurant with my children and mother-in-law. He bought our dinner, unbeknownst to us, until the bill arrived. I thanked him, Clara gave him a drawing and we went on our way with a light quip about lunch sometime soon. About a week later, I drove past the parish where we'd worked together and saw his vehicle out front. I considered stopping to talk, but told myself I'd do it later. A week later, he had gone to our Lord. It is one of those moments I will never forget; one of those missed opportunities that will stay with me forever.

As such, I'm making it a point to feel more in my 30s. My husband regularly reminds me that I need to trust God and follow my heart, not the way society tells my heart it should be feeling. In the past 20 years I've left so many things unsaid. Raised to move around, I've left so many relationships unfinished. It is only now that I am beginning to appreciate the person God created me to be. It is only in the present moment, stable and supported, that I have truly begun to appreciate the awkward, precocious, curious, and genuine young woman of my youth. My adolescent emotions and anxiety had validity. These experiences make me authentic and I must not go forgetting them or pretending they didn't happen. I've already spent too many years running away and then trying to catch up to whom I really am. I'm tired of starting over.

I want my daughter to know authenticity. I want her to trust her heart at any age. I want my son to recognize, name, and embrace his "old soul" in a way I wish I had. I want my baby to forever live in his simple joy of risk. I want to protect them, but I want them to grow to love their own identity and their own place in this world, unmasked by my fear and trepidation.

God guides our hearts if only we take time to listen. It's easy to talk. It's hard to listen. As a child, I was a great listener. When I found myself no longer heard, my ability to listen diminished, leaving me vulnerable, confused and broken. When I married Kevin, my voice once again took on sound and I am now in a place where I need to practice the art of listening once again. I must re-learn listening so that I can grow in Faith, Hope, and Love.

Matthew 18:1-5 "At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.""

I having been hearing God's call in this passage for the past few months. 30 marks a new childhood for me. I must embrace this time with my young children and husband as a time to not only example, but practice these childlike arts. I am being called to fill myself up with knowledge and experiences like a child. I am being called to practice once again the genuine love, innocent trust, and fearless abandonment of my childhood. It is time to laugh like Christ and the little child.

I am excited and I am grateful. I miss my dear friend, but I'm in debt to him for being an example of Christ's selfless, ever-giving love and for inspiring me to embrace the Christ child within.

"Come, sit, and tell stories of those loved."





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