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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Marriage Parenting Victoria K

Community, Detachment, and Military Moves

The military is a beautiful, unique vocation.  We have lots of military Ink Slingers who share beautiful insights of their experiences with the military.  I highly recommend this beautiful witness of vocation and a new sense of home. Military moves are an incredible test of this vocation, but also a grace-filled opportunity to develop community and detachment.


On the road again!  My husband just received his orders, so it’s another one of those military moves for us.   The longest we have ever lived in one place is thirteen months.  This upcoming duty station might be our longest yet at about *two years.*

When I first married into the military, the moving was a huge smack in the face.  My whole childhood was spent in one house.  I was used to being settled, living in the same home, with the same things, investing in the same group of friends, worshiping at the same Church.

But *the day* after our wedding, we packed up the cars and drove hundreds of miles away from everything I knew.

There is so much grace involved in moving so frequently.  It is a spiritual boot-camp in which God truly tests your trust.  During our first move, I was flustered, anxious, unsure, caught in the tumult of everything new and strange.  How do people… make new friends?  Pick a new grocery store?  Get involved at Church?  Not get lost everywhere they go?

During this move we’re undertaking now, I’m…still mostly stuck in the chaos. But, praise be to God, I’ve learned a thing or two.  Some lessons which may’ve taken me decades to learn living in the same place, I’ve learned in the span of months. 

I’ve learned really powerful things about forming true community on the fly and learning to detach from…well, basically everything. So, for what it’s worth, here are some tips I have to share about community and detachment.

 

Community in Military Moves

  1. Invest in the community, wherever you go, however long you’re there.

My husband and I basically speed date aspects of the community, and then quick commit.  When we move all the time, we don’t have time to sit around and to be lethargic about finding a community we like.  We’ll “test run” different young adult ministries, family ministries, youth ministries (we volunteer with high school youth), and work communities.  When we find things we like or that seem like a good fit, we lock in.

There are limitations to this.  Community life isn’t just centered around what you “like” or what “feels right.”  Authentic community involves investing in the people around you and overcoming differences.  However, when things change so quickly, my family really focuses on letting the Holy Spirit guide us in those early stages.

 

  1. Join those “easy-to-join” Church ministries.

Lectoring, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Ushering, Altar Serving, Greeters.  They’re almost the same wherever we go.  For example, we serve as lectors.  At one of our parishes we committed to a wonderful training for lectors. Now we use those skills at different parishes where we are.  This helps us to connect quickly with fellow lectors and other liturgical ministers, giving us a quick foundation of community at a parish.

 

  1. Ask new people for help.

I used to think that you needed to have a really solid longstanding relationship with someone in order to ask for help of any sort.  Something that I’ve come to understand is that it is really a beautiful experience to ask for help.  Some people are just waiting to be a blessing.  I’ve been amazed by wonderful people at work, at church, or neighbors who have really helped me out in a bind.   I moved to our most recent duty station already well into pregnancy.  So many people I had just met blessed us with meals, baby clothes, and help around the house during that crazy third trimester.

 

  1. Keep in touch with the friends you’ve made after you move.

Sometimes I can be very “out of sight, out of mind” about friendships.  I commit to the people around me but I struggle to keep it up after we move.  What I’ve found, however, is that the relationships I make at each duty station don’t just “wink out” when I move.  I love the people with whom I’ve formed friendships, and keeping in touch helps to maintain these really beautiful bonds.  In phases of life when there are breaks of free time (like when we’re in long car rides to new duty stations), it’s really beautiful to spend time on the phone and catch up.  Also, social media is a total Godsend in this way.

 

  1. Be a tourist in your own town.

This one is a lot of fun (because why should moving all the time only be difficult?).  We have LOVED taking time to prioritize exploring new places.  Gulf Coast Mississippi had such beautiful beaches and delicious Cajun restaurants.  Charleston was full of history and beautiful mansions to tour.  It is so easy to just get stuck in the grind of work, chores, tasks, and to not put in the effort to really get to know the new place.  Military moves mean free travel, take advantage of it!

 

 

Detachment in Military Moves

  1. Consume your consumables.

True confessions: There are twelve tubs of lotion which have loyally followed me around going on four moves now.  Some were gifts, some I bought (because I definitely needed new lotion at the time, right?), and all of them are somewhere between ½ to ¼ used.  To be honest, I don’t really use lotion all that much! 

This isn’t a push to be wasteful, or to consume things just “because.”  Instead, I’m working to be very mindful of the things I own and that travel with me.  With a little extra intentionality, the stuff can actually be used for its true function.

 

  1. Donate the excess.

“Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest that one owns belongs to the poor.”  Pope Leo XIII.  This was a big call-out for me.  The extra stuff I have, all that stuff I’m not using, isn’t mine.  Those things are blessings that I’m withholding from the poor.

Moving is powerful because every move is a reckoning.  We go through all of our things in order to prep them for the move.  And I have to ask myself — if I didn’t wear that dress at this duty station, why do I still have it?  After some though, the dress goes into the

 

  1. It’s just stuff.

Things break when you move.  They get lost.  I’ve killed so many plants over moves (poor guys).  It’s a real, visceral moment of detachment.  Something you loved, or treasured, just doesn’t make it.  Or you’re faced with the prospect of transporting *all one million books you own* yet another time, and you find you just…can’t.

In those moments, it’s definitely time to face facts.  Stuff is just…stuff.  It is nowhere near as important as the friendships made, as the relationships you have with your family, at the relationships you have with God.

 

  1. Commemorate the places you’ve left.

There are some places we’ve lived that we miss a great deal.  Neighborhoods that were perfect places to live and thrive.  Cities that were so much fun to explore.  Friendships we’ve made that we’d love to reconnect with.  Parishes that were just so welcoming and loving.  I don’t think it goes against detachment to miss those places as we let them go.  We buy maps of the places we’ve been to serve as reminders of the places to which God has called us.  Celebrating these places helps us to remember that everywhere we’ve been sent, God has take care of us.

 

Through all of the turmoil and all of the moves, God takes care of us every step of the way.  This is so important to remember, not just for those in the military, but for everyone.  If you’re a member of the military, a military family member, or curious about how spirituality ties in with military life, I highly recommend fellow Inkslinger Anni Harry’s blog A Beautiful, Camouflaged, Mess of a Life, for further reading.

Categories
Domestic Church Finances Ink Slingers Kathleen Marriage Vocations

Holy Budgeting: Practicing Detachment and Stewardship in a World Filled with Money

Holy Budgeting_ Practicing Detachment and Stewardship in a World Filled with MoneyMoney, more specifically budgeting, is one of those topics that everyone urges you to sort out before you get married. Make sure you are both on the same page! It can put a big stress on the marriage if you are not! It is also one of those topics (see also: child rearing) that I thought I totally had figured out. Or at least I did before I got married.

If you asked me, I would say I am financially conservative. I like having a savings, I think it is important to plan for a rainy day, I do not gamble, and I do not think that spending an exorbitant amount of money on frivolous things is a good idea. My husband feels exactly the same way.

The problem is we differ on what exactly “exorbitant” and “frivolous” mean. So if you put us in a Sephora, we will have very different reactions to a new release of an Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette. I will be super excited because her shadows are super blendable and I love the way they bring out the blue in my eyes and it is only $42! My husband will question spending $42 on anything to put on your eyelids, especially when it looks exactly the same as the other ten palettes I have at home. (He is wrong, all palettes are as unique as children. But point noted.)

After five years of marriage to an actually fiscally conservative man, I have to admit that I am much less conservative than I thought, and much less conservative than my husband. I love buying things. I buy things when I am happy. I buy things when I am stressed. I buy things when I am sad. I just really enjoy buying things. That is not inherently wrong- it is fine to take pride in ourselves, our appearance, our home, etc. But it should never come at the expense of putting things above the true goals of our life and marriage- to imitate Christ and gain everlasting life with Him in heaven.

So obviously, something in my attitude had to change. I had to reevaluate my approach to money, and budgeting, and how I viewed wealth in general. Wealth is not bad. The gospels speak often of feasting, of wine in abundance, and of expensive oils being literally poured out for the betterment and the enjoyment of Christ and his friends. God made everything, and enjoying the good things of His creation is not a bad thing. It is a good, worthy thing to enjoy the goodness of creation. Christ did it. We should not hesitate to do it either.

The problem comes in when we elevate these mere things to the level of attachment. To remain complete disciples of Christ while not eschewing the world and its goods (which those of us who are married are certainly not called to do), we must practice detachment, or an attitude of financial stewardship. All that we have is God’s. Our homes, our things, our health, our husbands, even our children. They are all God’s. We have been given the opportunity to enjoy and take care of them for Him while we are here on earth. That is wonderful! We should take pride in the beautiful things that God has given us, and care for them.

But we must be frugal. I recently attended a talk with Milwaukee area accountant Maria Johnston, a faithful Catholic wife and mother who knows her way around a spreadsheet. She urged frugality in all things, but to be careful to understand that frugality means different things for people in different situations. Having a lovely home can be good- you can welcome people and bring people together in a way that a slovenly home that is uncared for does not. This does not mean you need a seven-bedroom mansion. Taking care of your things- your car, your clothing, your electronics, with great consideration is frugal. This does not mean that you need to have the newest or most expensive versions of everything- sometimes the opposite, in fact. Even carefully considering a date night with your husband can be a good use of your income since taking time together can strengthen your marriage. This does not mean that you need to spend $300 on dinner and a babysitter twice a month if it is not in your budget. (It certainly is not in mine.) All of this makes sense when you consider that our lives are entirely stewardship. All that we have is God’s, and we are merely caretakers of His goodness.

STEPS FOR IMPLEMENTING

Johnston had several tips for implementing this stewardship and detachment mentality to our lives and budgets.

 

  • Give first!

 

Catholics get a bad tithing rap sometimes. It is urged that Catholics give a portion of their income to the Church and charities. This is a suggestion that fits in perfectly with a stewardship mentality. It is important that we do this this first on our budgeting, not at the end. Our first  priority needs to be the care of Christ’s Church and his poor here on earth, even before our own needs.

 

  • Pray about budgeting. All the time.

 

This suggestion really helped me. When I feel myself wanting to stray from my budget, urge myself to pray about it. Do I need to spend $20 on lunch for the kids because I am running late and cannot get it together to pack one? Nope. Get out the sandwiches. Does the home decor purchase I am contemplating really help accent my home and therefore help my hospitality? Or is it just a throw pillow? Are those eyeshadow palettes all really the same? Sometimes, yeah. This is not to say you need to talk yourself out of buying everything, certainly not. But stepping back and praying about your budget, your purchases, and how you and your spouse view them can foster a detachment from things and a stewardship mentality.

 

  • Acknowledge that you will not be perfect.

 

Budgets are goals, and our entire faith life should be striving towards greater holiness.

We are never done, we are never perfect. We can always do better, appreciate more, and give more. The important part is to not be discouraged when we fail, but to pray and try again.

 

  • Understand that your detachment and frugality will not look like your neighbor’s.

 

A homeschooling family with eight children and medical bills whose sole breadwinner is either starting a new position or in a lower economic bracket will obviously not have the same budget as a newly married couple with two established incomes. Both families can be faithful stewards of their goods, however. But they must understand that their realities will look completely different.

Spending money is not evil. Having nice things is not evil. Ignoring the poor, the Church, and elevating mere things to a level that they are not accorded is evil. We are all given different gifts, but we are ultimately all stewards of the King.

 

Categories
Motherhood Prayer Rosary Spiritual Growth Susan

That They All May Be One: Mother As Peacemaker

Recently a dear priest gave a homily on St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She was the great-granddaughter of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Like the other Elizabeth, through marriage, she became Queen of a country different from her own. She did all she could to keep peace between her son and her husband, between family and nations. Father reiterated, “She was not a virgin nor religious; she was a mother.” When he said, “she was a mother,” I felt, “be a peacemaker.”  But what is a peacemaker?

I never considered the importance peacemaking was to motherhood. When I told my husband I was writing an article on how moms are called to be peacemakers, he kindly laughed! I cannot blame him; I mean, how often are we the cause of tension in the home?! Nevertheless, we are called to be peacemakers. But what do I know about being a peacemaker?! Where would I begin? I had to do research and reflection. This is what I have learned:

‘Enemies of peace’ need to be exchanged with ‘friends of peace’.

The enemies of peace are anger; ignorance of a person’s plight; ignorance of the world’s plight; desire for profit; lack of respect for life; self-absorption; disinterestedness in the true meaning of work; and misunderstanding the value of marriage and family. On the contrary, peacemakers love; take family seriously; promote the common good; educate in lofty values; defend the innocent and poor; promote human life and value the family. They forgive; reconcile; share goods; work for unity; avoid revenge; and avoid unnecessary war/arguments.  As I reflect on the lists, and recall the life of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, I begin to see a peacemaker as someone who brings together two opposing sides for reconciliation.

Christ is The Peacemaker and His Sacrifice the Greatest Act of Peace.

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Christ lifted up at every Mass is the same event of Christ on the Cross, held between heaven and earth, draws all to Himself. This is the ultimate coming together of two sides in the reconciling of sinners to God. If His greatest act of peace was His Sacrifice, where did He begin His work of peace? It was in the family…specifically in the womb of His Mother.

The family is essential to fostering peace in the world.

The Church follows Christ’s example and says even today that peace in the world starts in the home. Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the World Day of Peace in 2013. He said, “No one should ignore or underestimate the decisive role of the family, which is the basis of all society.” He also said the family “is one of the indispensable social subjects for the achievement of a culture of peace.”

But Pope Benedict also told the world that peace is a slow process. He advises us all to create an atmosphere of respect, honesty, and cordiality through our thoughts, words and gestures. We need to remember that we should “feel the need of others as our own” and not tolerate them, but LOVE them. He wisely states peace “depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family.” It is no coincidence that he wrote this message on December 8 of 2012 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and gave the speech on January 1, 2013 (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God). Why? Because the role of the mother is pivotal to the establishment of peace in the home and in the world.

“Thy will be done” equals peace of heart.

When Mary was spoken to by the angel Gabriel, a life was offered to her that could easily instill every anxiety. Instead, she abandoned herself to God’s will, then hastened to assist her cousin Elizabeth.  She trusted, then went about her duty. What she did is what the saints call abandonment.

Abandonment is an attitude of detachment. It is a spiritual gift which we are told to ask the Holy Spirit to give us. In Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe he writes, “The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently our detachment.” And “if we leave God free to act in His way, He is infinitely more capable of rendering us happy than we ourselves are, because He knows us and loves us more than we can ever know or love ourselves.” What happens when we do not allow Him to act freely? Anger, self-absorption, disinterestedness, anxiety, and all the enemies of peace grow. Therefore, let us to pray for this grace and read books written by the Saints on abandonment to God. Since allowing God to work freely fosters peace of heart, and we are the heart of our homes, learning to say “Thy will be done” is important to our growth in holiness and becoming peacemakers. Where can we being? With Mary, of course!

The Heart of the Mother desires peace for her family.

It was in the midst of World War I, 1917. Europe was losing the lives of many young men. The century of wars was in full force.  Our Lady reached out to the world through three little children. The horrors and threats were beyond the understanding of the poor shepherds of Fatima, Portugal, yet their hearts were open to her message. Are we? 

  • The Angel told them to “believe, adore, hope, love” God.
  • Adore the Blessed Sacrament and offer the Body and Blood of Jesus to the Father “in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference with which He is offended.”
  • Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.
  • Accept all the sufferings God wills for you. 
  • Make everything a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.
  • Do not offend the Lord our God anymore because He is already so much offended.
  • God wants to establish in the world devotion to my (Mary’s) Immaculate Heart.
  • Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners.
  • Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only She can help you.

Peace is unity with God.

It should come as no surprise that Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of the World, would teach us how to obtain peace in our hearts and our world during this modern age. She shows us that the Christian mother’s vocation is pivotal in promoting peace and she wants to help. Peace begins with conversion, and conversion requires sacrificing our desires for God’s will and the good of all souls. So by following her example we will first say “yes” to God’s will, and then “make haste” to serve and foster unity. In a nutshell, peacemakers aim to answer the prayer of Christ in the Garden when He prayed for His disciples saying, “That they all my be One, as you, Father, and I are one.” Hence, peace is oneness with God. Moms are peacemakers when we work for this unity.

It all begins when we ask what Lucia asked Mary 100 years ago, “What do you want of me?”, then hasting to serve our families in peace.

I encourage you to take full advantage of the indulgences (see the link below) given during this 100th Anniversary of Fatima. And pray the Rosary every day.

References:

https://wafusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Plenary-Indulgence-Centennial-Fatima-Apparitions-2017.pdf

http://www.foryourmarriage.org/peacemakers-born-and-raised-in-families/

https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20121208_xlvi-world-day-peace.html

https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace.index.html

Categories
Allen Ink Slingers Perspective from the Head

What God has Joined Let No One Divide

scan3-77Your Family was started on the day you got married, and after you took your vows.
 The presider may have uttered words similar to the ones above.  It not only applies to you and your spouse, but also to your entire family.  The world many times seeks to separate what God has joined together.  

Living the Life

As our kids were growing up, we got involved in Church, sports and social club activities.  It got to a point that we were busy every night of the week.  I was a member of the church choir, my wife and I were deeply involved in building a Catholic School, three of our children were playing soccer and I was coaching them, and our daughters were members of a Catholic Girl’s club.  In addition to these church and family related items, I worked full time with a bit of travel and even took lessons to become a private pilot.  When a new opportunity for spiritual growth or volunteering came our way, our method of deciding whether or not to say yes was to take a look at our calendar and see if there was any spare time.  If there was, we said yes until every moment of our life was filled with activities.  IMG_2709
Each of the activities we were involved in were good, it was the sheer number of activities that was bad for us.  Looking back on that time in our lives, I don’t think we realized that this constant busyness was unhealthy for our family.  We were just living a full life, volunteering for every worthwhile cause and making sure that each of our children was able have all the fun a child should have.  We were on the road to burn out and to losing touch with our young family.
Then I took a new job and one of the highly suggested activities at my new company was to spend a couple of weeks at our corporate offices helping out in the technical support call center.  It was a great way for a new Systems Engineer to quickly learn the technical aspects of the products while helping out our short-staffed support team.  My wife and I discussed this extended business trip and we decided to buy an RV and make a family trip out of it.  When the planning was completed, I had arranged a trip to California and back that lasted just under a month with stops at customer sites, national and state parks, theme parks and visiting friends and family along the way.  I don’t know that I fully realized the immediate profound effect this trip would have on our family, nor the way it would shape our family life and rhythm for the rest of our lives.

RVLife Lessons from Living in an RV

When preparing to leave for this trip, we had to squeeze 10 people, all our clothing, bicycles, and any personal items we needed for a month into a 31 foot Class C RV with no slide outs and limited storage.  This was a serious exercise in detachment, not only from possessions, but from our normal routines.  I still did my work on the road, but pretty much everything else in our normal routine changed.  We didn’t have any sports, school, social or church activities, we left all that behind when we pulled out of the drive on our way to California, we only had each other.
Our commitments at home weren’t missed, we didn’t long for our things, we had a great time and really grew closer together as a family over the course of our trip.  We ate all our meals together, we visited shrines along the way, attended Sunday mass and an occasional daily mass together, met with friends in different cities, and we explored the beauty of God’s creation.  In summary, we retreated from the world, prayed together, played together and formed closer bonds with each other and with the Lord.  We emerged from our month long adventure a changed family with a renewed focus on what was most important in our lives.  

The Family Mission

God taught us that one of his greatest gifts to us is our family.  Each of our children brings something unique to our family, something we didn’t have before and something that makes our family unit better.  We learned that we really like our kids and they like us too. Our kids didn’t need to be kept busy with tons of activities, they were just as happy, maybe even more so, to simply be with us.  GrandCanyon
Unhealthy patterns had crept into our family, this RV trip was a good exercise which allowed us to take a step back and evaluate our lives and our family routine.  We began to regularly spend time in prayer as a couple and as a family, asking God what our family’s mission should be and where we should be spending our time and energy.  At times this exercise has resulted in minor adjustments, and sometimes  major life changes to our family routine to ensure that we meet our primary goal of leading our family to heaven.
Every family needs to retreat from the world on a regular basis, this can take the form of a family vacation, a family retreat, or just making Sunday family days.  But if you don’t plan for them, they probably won’t happen.  Your family is a great gift from God, be sure to nurture and care for it.  
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Books Ink Slingers Kerri Reviews

Book Review: Life from our Land by Marcus Grodi

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with stuff. We recently donated a box of clothes and other miscellany to a charity and had a garage sale to get rid of a few more things. It still doesn’t feel like enough. Like most Americans, we just have too much stuff in our house. Most of which we either don’t need or are saving for some future, as of yet to be determined, event. Christmas will be here before we know it and more things will come into our home (I have 3 small children and lots of relatives who love them). It was in this context that I read Marcus Grodi’s newest book Life from our Land: The Search for a Simpler Life in a Complex World.

Life-from-Our-LandI really enjoyed this book, and not because of any desire on my part to move to a farm or even out to the country. Anyone that knows me knows that I wouldn’t survive for very long in either situation. I am a city girl through and through. But what I most liked about this book was the emphasis on living a simpler life right where we are. That may be the country for some of us, but for many we don’t have to change our physical location to grow spiritually and in simplicity. The plethora of scripture quotes throughout the book was also a great bonus!

I’m also a fan of memoirs. While this is not intended to be a memoir, plenty of Grodi’s story is sprinkled throughout to satisfy my love of hearing people’s personal stories. I enjoyed hearing about his adventures learning to farm, taking on new challenges, and his reflections on what he learned in the process. Most importantly, how God played into everything.

It is God’s hand in all aspects of creation that leads to many of Grodi’s reflections in this book. An overabundance of berries covered in thorns teaches him that God’s bounty often comes with suffering; a sick cow that needs to be put down is a reminder that our plans are not always God’s plans. These are only two of many examples.

What I especially liked was that his reflections went far beyond the farm and land he has been working for many years. He is clear from the start of this book that these are not his thoughts “on” the land, but his thoughts “from” the land. That one word in the title makes all the difference. And I found it to be true. As someone who is quite happy in my city life, I got a lot out of this book. Grodi’s reflections on modern life, all our conveniences that often draw us away from human interaction and even further away from God’s creation, and taking a serious look at the overabundance of material wealth in the western world all hit home for me. I desire to bring more simplicity into my life and am struggling with just how to approach that. As Grodi says, “When all is done, and we stand before God, when the Book of Life is opened, when the fruit of our lives is examined, what will be important?” (p. 179) There is a lot to ponder in that one question.

In some ways the chapters in this book could stand alone, but I think it is worth reading it from end to end at least once. Now that I have read it through one time I think I could easily go back and choose a chapter to read just to spend time reflecting more on the thoughts and ideas presented in that one individual chapter.

If you are looking for a book about bringing more simplicity into your life, especially one that reflects Christian values of humility, holiness, and detachment in an effort to continue growing closer to God, this is a must read. Whether you see yourself retreating to the country to escape the fast-paced city life or not, the lessons in this book are worth considering regardless of where in life you currently find yourself.

And now I need to go figure out what other stuff in my life I can detach from.

Available from Ignatius Press in paperback, also available as an ebook.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review and no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.