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Ink Slingers Mindy You Did It To Me

You Did It To Me: Harboring the Homeless

Welcome to the series “You did it to me” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!

IMG_2830One of the tangible ways you can exercise this work of mercy is to open the doors of your home to foster children.

While many people consider this possibility, more often than not it is an idea that is fraught with fear and uncertainty.

Foster children are homeless children in need of a home. They have been removed from their parents, usually for a good reason, and placed in the homes of, frequently, strangers. Ideally, they are placed with people who are known to them, but in some populations, there are no friends or family members who are able to pass a background check or safely care for their loved ones. Or they are simply not able or willing.

Out of the mouths of babes, I thought I’d share what my thirteen year old Wolfgang has to say about this subject. Wolfgang

Q: Why should families consider becoming foster families?

A: “I’m still getting the juices flowing. I just woke up.” (laughing) “You could think of it this way. Pretend you could not care for your children and you needed someone to care for them. Would you not want them to be cared for by a considerate and loving family?”

Q: What has been your favorite part of being a foster family?

A: “Spending time with everyone. Making them feel loved. It sounds kind of mushy, but when you look at it, a lot of these children come from backgrounds where they’ve been neglected and mistreated. J, D, and K really stand out. I just really love them.”

Q: What has been the hardest part of being a foster family?

A: “Keeping the babies from climbing on [our medically fragile foster/adopted son] J. Seriously though, I can be kind of stubborn at times, so to morph to meet some other needs can be taxing.”

Q: Is it hard to say goodbye to children when they move out? Don’t you get attached?

A: “Yes, it is hard. But in the same vein, when you become attached to the child, you form a stronger bond with them and care for them more than you would have when you just hear about them on a phone call. So, while it is hard to say goodbye, and you may not think of it as the best in the long run, you form a stronger relationship with the child. Yes, it is hard to say goodbye. But you want them to have good memories of love and affection and care that they would not have otherwise had if you just sat them down with a cup of water and showed them where the bathroom is. Foster children are humans, whether people think so or not. They live and they breathe and they need love!”

Q: “Is it hard to share your mom and dad?”

A: “For me, not very much.”

Q: Thank you for your interview, son.

A: “Thank you! I was honored.”

Consider opening your home to homeless children today. An application can be found on your state’s Department or Office of Children’s Services. In our state, an independent organization provides training and support for foster parents, and this enables prospective parents to get unbiased information. You may want to call your local department and find out if any resources like that in your state exist. Get involved, up close and personal, in the lives of these precious children.

*Want more information on how to get started fostering children? Click here for a link to your state’s requirements.

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Ink Slingers Mindy Series You Did It To Me

You Did It To Me: Comforting the Sorrowful

Welcome to the series “You did it to me” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!

Comfort the SorrowfulOne of the spiritual works of mercy is to comfort the sorrowful. When I think of this, my mind immediately turns to a young, profoundly disabled woman who stayed with us in our home for a period of time. She had the mental functioning of a very young toddler, with the upper body strength of an ox. Her brain injury frequently caused her to have very powerful emotions which would take over and cause her to cry or to laugh at a moment’s notice when something struck her as particularly strange or funny or sorrowful.

At this particular time, she had every reason to be sorrowful. She was spending the night in a strange home, separated from the family she loved, and with not a great deal of capacity to totally understand what was happening to her. Also, we did not know her very well at all, and we were still in the very early stages of learning who she was and figuring out how best to spend time with her.

That night, my first night tucking her into bed, she started weeping. She wept and wept, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I sat with her, verbally comforting her, singing songs, and trying to make her laugh…anything to try to help her stop crying and to be a source of consolation to her.

Suddenly, she stopped crying, looked at me, and reached out and grabbed my hair, which was hanging down in front of my shoulders. With her incredibly strong arms, she pulled me down by my hair until I was within her reach and wrapped her arms around my neck, clutching me in what is the tightest hug I have ever received.

Finally, she settled down and fell asleep. I untangled myself and managed to slip out.

I weep a little bit when I think of her, because one thing I wish that I had done, in the time that I had known her, was to give her more hugs.

It took a lot of energy to take care of her. Sometimes, I was so worn out by the end of the day that I simply felt I could not do anything more than help her to get to sleep and then collapse in a heap on my own bed in exhaustion. But the works of mercy call us to go beyond our normal energy and remember what is truly the most important thing in any encounter.

God, help us to go beyond what we “feel” we can do and to fulfill Your call.

Categories
Discipleship Marriage Matrimony Mindy Ten Commandments

A Chaste Woman’s Hero: Jane Eyre

jane-eyre

** spoiler alert ** If you haven’t read it and think you might, don’t read this review! This truly great book is filled with suspense and surprises.

I rarely read a book more than once, but Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte has captured my attention repeatedly since I first encountered it years ago.

The book jacket claims that “Charlotte Bronte poured her contempt for the stifling conventions society imposed upon a woman’s right to emotional and sexual fulfillment.”

On one hand, I can see how this “frank revelation of female character” may have been shocking or particularly well-developed for the time. The romantic male characters in Bronte novels are far from ideal or societally acceptable in the classic sense.

In actuality, this novel is far from a feminist treatise, unless one defines feminism as upholding Christian chastity in the spirit of Proverbs 31 and Matthew 5:30.

In this novel, Edward Rochester is the desire of Jane Eyre. He is an ugly, older man with a bombastic character and a whole lot of baggage. In fact, he has a psychotic wife locked up in his house, a secret he has kept from almost everyone, even Jane. Yet, they fall deeply in love; a love which is well-developed in the story and quite pleasant to read.

Finally, he asks her to marry him and, with their vows imminent, someone speaks up during the ceremony to oppose the match. The truth comes out about the wife and, in spite of her intense feelings of affection for him, Jane makes the decision to leave Edward completely. He is exceedingly repentant, and by the time you hear his story, you don’t feel nearly as bad for him as you want to. But she runs away and does not look back. The reader sees her deep love and her compassion for him and his situation but also sees that there is a finality about her actions; a refreshing sense of totality in her willingness to abandon her desires for the sake of her conscience and her knowledge of the Ten Commandments.

All seems lost, and I assumed Jane was going to end up with an austere, brilliant, and handsome missionary and minister who proposes to her and invites her to go to India with him.

She can’t leave, however, until she resolves once and for all to learn what has happened to her true love. Is this regret or remorse for turning away? The reader senses it is purely love. It turns out Edward’s house has been burned down by the disturbed wife who died in the fire. He has been blinded and left even uglier than before, and now that she is free to marry him, they marry and live a contented life together.

How this book can be touted as a feminist masterpiece in the modern-day, cultural sense of the word is beyond me. I found it to be an incredible spiritual treatise, and Jane and Edward’s spiritual journeys are palpable and poignant.

When Jane leaves Edward, refusing to give in to the temptation of living with a married man, she trusts God entirely to care for her. Where she ends up is ultimately prosperous, both materially and emotionally. She gets reconnected with family she didn’t know she had, and part of the very communication that led to her initial tragedy of the called-off wedding turns into the very thing that prospers her. When she does meet Edward again, she gives herself wholly to his service. She feels free to love him completely and serve him in his infirmities, which ultimately lessen as he regains some of his vision.

Edward, on the other hand, travels through the fire, getting terribly humbled. Only when he completely gives himself to God does he have a second chance to find happiness, and this time, on the terms of the Christian faith which is the foundation of the story. These characters face extreme trials while staying true to Christian ideals.

The underlying message of this book is that God’s rules are liberating and lead to a very unexpected joy. Not very feminist in the modern-day sense of the word!

If you haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, you should. You may find her, as I have, a strong and fitting companion for the Christian journey.

jane-eyre-9

Categories
Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Mindy Sacraments Spiritual Growth Vocations

Five secrets to a strong marriage

7 marriageRecently, I had the privilege to interview Gil and Sandra Cragen, honored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as the longest-married couple among nominees in the state of Alaska.

That interview will appear in the Catholic Anchor, Anchorage’s Archdiocesan newspaper, next month. But I thought I’d share some bullet points about their marriage and what has made it so successful.

I know that simply being married 54 years does not equate to a good marriage. Yet, from the moment I entered their home, I felt blessed by their mutual love and warm hospitality. Sitting there eating homemade cookies and sipping lemonade, I not only felt physically but emotionally and spiritually nourished. So, I think these tips are worth sharing. I have also newly committed to praying for and striving for these qualities in my own marriage, and those of my friends and loved ones.

1) Commitment. It sounds silly, since marriage is a commitment, right? But in this day and age, one shouldn’t take for granted that both parties bring a strong commitment to the table. I myself did not understand that marriage is a lifelong commitment when I got married. My husband taught me this through his example, and showed me where the error was in my thought process. A lot of people have an attitude these days of, “I can always leave when things get tough and I’m no longer feeling happy.” I speak from experience.

2) Communication. Wait for the spirit of anger to dissipate, and then find the time and a way to communicate. It doesn’t have to be talking. The key is to prioritize mutual respect and tenderness for one another, as well as patience and compromise. This is probably the biggest challenge in my marriage–not the respect, tenderness, patience and compromise part so much as the time part. Between my husband’s work schedule and raising 9 children, time is often in short supply.

3) Intentionality. Strong families don’t happen by accident. When you think in your mind of what looks like a strong family, what is important to you? Do strong families eat dinner together at the table, for example? Do they read the Bible together? If you are not doing these things you wish you did, start! The time is now. There will never be a better or more right time.

4) Church. Raise your children in the Church. Show up frequently. Go together. Pray together. Practice the faith at home, exercise faith in your lives. Be the example.

5) Love one another. If there’s one thing that was supremely obvious from my time with the Cragens, it is that they dearly love one another. They do it through their tenderness in speech, their patience while conversing, their mutual respect for one another’s viewpoints.

What has worked for you? If you feel you have a particularly strong marriage, we’d love to hear what makes it so. Thanks for sharing!

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Easter Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Mindy Spiritual Growth

Is It Still Easter?

Easter checklist

Lent appeals to my checklist-loving, accomplishment-coveting brain.

Especially as the mother to many young children, “finishing something” is rare. Completing the steps of Lent may be the only way I can savor that experience in any tangible way.

Not that that is what Lent is about. No, Lent sometimes happens in such a way that it prevents us from engaging in that kind of formulaic practice. God arranges that for us so that we can be jostled out of our predictable patterns and find new ways to exist as Christians.

This year, I managed to say “yes” to my children’s request to play indoor soccer with our local Christian league. Every game during Lent fell on a Friday. Sigh. Just another year saying, “Next year, I will do things differently.” More awareness. More mindfulness. More boundaries.

Fast forward to Easter, and it is zooming right along. We have much to do as the school year comes to a close. It is easy to forget that Easter continues, whether we celebrate or not.

How are we intentionally planning this time so that we pause, rest, and celebrate the Risen Lord Who saves us? I’m going to ponder this today.

For example:

When children are upset, I’m going to make sure I remind them about Jesus, and share with them some JOY.

When a piece of our seemingly never-ending supply of candy wanders across my path, I’m going to savor it for the moment, enjoying its sweetness and then picking up my Bible instead of a second piece.

I’m going to choose at least a few hours where my phone is not within arm’s reach. No illusions that I can keep it tucked away all day–as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot going on, and communication channels splash like salmon streams, about all sorts of things. But I can step out of the stream for at least a little awhile.

Let us remember: it’s still Easter.

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

Now, on a humorous note, I managed to collect this montage of photos of my 9 month old daughter who mostly eschews solids–at least, until she found this Cadbury egg. Imagine her excitement when she was able to discretely devour this yumminess! My son found her, took away the foil pieces, and then let me know what was happening so I could delight in her discovery of naughty food.

Cadbury 1Cadbury 2Cadbury 3Cadbury 4Cadbury 5

CUTE!