Categories
Fatherhood Ink Slingers Marriage Michelle Motherhood Parenting

The Camera in My Mind

I often look at my children and am amazed at how time has changed them… their faces no longer pudgy with baby fullness; their tiny hands bigger- some bigger than my own; their voices deeper; some are taller than I am and others are still growing, but none fit snuggly into the crook of my arm anymore. It makes me sad that in a blink of the eye their childhood zooms by. I still have some who are rather young, but I can look at them and know that before I know it they too will be like their older siblings- grown and moving on with their lives.

I have often said I wish I had a camera in my mind that would take a snapshot at any given moment so that I could relish that time over and over again; a camera that could bring me back to a precise time to smell the smells, see the sights, and feel the feelings I had then- to place me directly in the moment again.

As I age it becomes even more important to me to remember all the details I can. My memory, while still amazing, isn’t as good as it once was. It hurts my heart not to remember all the intricacies of each child when they were babies or even when they were older. I want to remember every detail and I want to be able to share them with my children. I try not to worry about this too much, but still, it lingers on my heart and in my mind.

There isn’t much we can do about our children getting older. It is how life works and how it should be. We don’t want our kids to be young forever and we definitely don’t want them to be dependent upon us forever either. We want and need to raise them to be mature adults who will contribute to the greater good of our society… people who are kind, loving, faithful, responsible, and caring. This is how it is meant to be. As parents, our children are only ours for a short time.

The fact that we only have them for a short while is reason enough to want to remember every moment we can. But how do we do this when time seems to get the better of us and slowly robs us of those precious memories?

I think the most important thing we have to do is to just continue to make as many memories together as we can. While we may not remember every single one of them later down the road, the feelings we had of being together will always remain with us. I think about my kids begging for family game night or family movie night; they may not ever remember the movies we watched or the games we played, but they will remember us being together, laughing and loving. I will have those memories too. Being together and doing together is most important. The things we do on a regular basis are the things we will remember the most. The more we do and be, the more we will remember.                                                                                                              

Aside from continuing to make new memories, what else can we do to help remember those times? Using social media to record and share our times together is also a great way to keep track of those memories. Facebook, Instagram, blogging, and other social outlets are fantastic ways to record those images, times, and feelings. I first started blogging in 2004 after my daughter Anna was born. While that blog is no longer public as I maintain a newer blog, I sometimes go back and reread those memories and cry, laugh, and simply shake my head in amazement over the things we have gone through. So many of our trials, our good times, and the cute things our kids have said through the years would be lost had I not started blogging so long ago. Because I wrote in such depth, including all the feelings I was experiencing, I can be transported to those times in an instant.

Another great way to preserve those memories is to scrapbook or to create digital picture books online. We are all guilty of taking hundreds or even thousands of pictures and yet we simply leave them in our phones or on our computers. What good does it do to have them there? Sure we can thumb through them when we have a spare moment, but to put them in a book to share with others, to write down what was happening, and to make a memento for years and years to come seems like a wonderful way to safeguard the memories that are so dear to us.

Finally, one of the very best ways to protect and pass down the memories which we hold so dear to our hearts is to actually write them out- yes, with a pen and a paper. Buy some pretty stationery (or use whatever you have if you can’t get stationery) and write out what is going on, what you feel, and what you wish to remember. Write a letter to your children, to your grandchildren, to your spouse, or your friends. Write a letter to yourself even. The physical act of writing not only helps to seal something to our memories, but it also creates a keepsake unlike any other. It is incredibly personal and is guaranteed to be cherished for years and years to come.

Letter writing is a lost art. Don’t worry about your penmanship, your spelling, or even how to say what you want to say. Simply write. When you are done sign your name and place it in an envelope. If you don’t wish to give to the person, put it in a pretty box and set it aside. You can read the letters later if you wish. They become a part of history and when you or others read those letters later, history will come alive.

In an age where everything comes at us so quickly and we have many ways of saving information, sometimes the most important memories and feelings end up not being registered or remembered. Our lives are busy and there are many demands on our time. What can seem important today with work and meetings and busyness, won’t be so important tomorrow when we suddenly feel the need to slow down and enjoy the moment we are in. We can’t allow all those time stealers to come in the way of what is truly important.

Before it’s too late we have to make the choice to cherish the time we have with the ones we love. We have to capture the moments that are special to us and we have to record them for the future. Unfortunately we don’t hold cameras in our minds that take snapshots of the important events we attend, the feelings we feel, or the words we hear. Instead, we have to be active in our pursuit to make memories and to remember them.

One of my goals for the New Year is to make each moment count, to make amazing memories with those I love, and to record the memories that change my life- whatever they may be. I used to be pretty good at doing that but I haven’t done a good job of any of those things recently. I want to do better… not only for my own sake, but for my family as well.

Categories
Ink Slingers Misty Spiritual Growth

Viral Photos Change the Sacred to the Profane

Viral Photos Change the Sacred to the Profane
A perfect example of how we’re now more focused on documenting our lives than living them. (Photo by John Blanding of The Boston Globe)

Making the Facebook rounds recently was a photograph of a father comforting his extremely sick toddler in the shower. The photo has generated controversy, as Facebook has waffled on whether it violates its community standards against nudity.

What troubles me is how few people see the real problem with the photo–that it puts on public display a private moment of love that ought to have remained private. Which begs a bigger question: Is there anything in our lives–even the most sacred–that we prudently shield from the glare of social media?

I’m sure the mother who took the photograph had good intentions. As she’s said about the photo, “I was just overwhelmed with the scene in front of me. This man. This husband and partner and father. He was so patient and so loving and so strong with our tiny son in his lap. His whispers of reassurance to Fox, that he would be OK and that Thomas would take care of him were so steady and so honest.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve witnessed countless intimate scenes of sacrifice from my husband toward our five children. More than once, he’s cradled them in his arms while covered in vomit, wearing nothing but boxers, because they woke him up with the flu in the middle of the night. He’s cared for them while throwing up himself. He’s wrapped himself around them on the floor or held them in the shower to combat respiratory illnesses or cradled them in the bath while they’re infants. 

Yet never once did it occur to me to not only document those moments, but to display them to the world. 

When Facebook first arrived, I joined up just like everyone else. But as the years have marched by, I’ve dialed back my participation to almost nothing. Mainly because I saw the platform nurturing vices of pride and self-absorption in myself and others. More troubling was how the relentless Pollyanna snapshots of other people’s lives left me feeling inadequate as a mother, wife, and even child of God. I wasn’t at all surprised to see a recent study showing that depression increases in teens with increased social media use.

 

Viral Photos Change the Sacred to the Profane - Few know that 30,000 Americans died at Iwo Jima, making this iconic photograph one of the most staggering exampled of human suffering and sacrifice.
Few know that 30,000 Americans died at Iwo Jima, making this iconic photograph one of the most staggering exampled of human suffering and sacrifice.

We ought to consider where our obsession with documenting and displaying every moment of our lives is taking us. A revealing and massive new study showed that Millennials in particular say they value “money, fame, and image” most of all. Image–again, not surprising for a generation taught to covet others’ applause through social media.

Instead of living our lives and being enriched by our experiences, we’re more concerned with whether a moment will garner us attention and envy from others. Today, even the most personal and sacred moments of one’s life are fodder for public consumption, as evidenced by the couple that live-streamed the birth of their child on Monday. This is one area when the wisdom of our elders ought to be grasped with both hands, as shown in the first photograph. 

There is an appropriate time to share intimate moments; after all, some of our most poignant and powerful images have captured life’s most profound moments for posterity. Think about the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima; the soldier kissing a nurse in Time’s Square to celebrate the end of World War II; bodies falling from the tower on 9/11. The difference is that these photos were originally anonymous; their participants had to be ferreted out and even now, few know the people captured. These images are iconic and powerful because they represent all humanity and our universal joys, sacrifices, and sufferings. 

Viral Photos Change the Sacred to the ProfaneBy putting the picture of her husband and son’s shower on display, however, photographer Heather Whitten limited the photo’s impact and fell prey to the narcissism so prevalent in social media. She exposed a private family moment to the harsh glare of the public, and sacrificed her son’s privacy to do so. If the photo had been shared anonymously, it would have represented all loving fathers. But instead, we got a photo highlighting one specific father’s love. What could have offered poignant insight into the human father’s great capacity for love is instead just the latest platform for self-aggrandizement. 

There’s a reason we say these photos go “viral,” folks. 

Categories
Discipleship Evangelization Ink Slingers Mindy Parenting

If Facebook Cost You, Would You Use It?

Dislike

A friend recently posted a little meme, which, of course, I can’t find now, about Facebook: essentially, if Facebook cost money, would you use it? Her answer was “no.”

I like to think mine would be too, but as I pondered this question, I reframed it in my mind until a different answer, once again, came painfully into view:

What does Facebook cost me?

I don’t know about you, but this past month, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling about same sex marriage, it has cost me a great deal. 

My feed has been flooded with rainbows, memes, articles, and all forms of sarcasm and veiled resentments and hatreds simmering up into plain view, like bubbles on the surface of boiling water, a warming pot waiting to overflow. 

Transfixed by its ever-changing stream of content, I can answer that Facebook has and does cost me, dearly: in the form of time and peace. 

It has cost my children their mother’s attention, even while I rail inwardly about children at least deserving the chance to have a mother and a father. 

It has cost me in things I can never have back. Good, real, thoughtful, compassionate conversation, such as what I almost always have in real life, but what seems so challenging to have online, except in private email conversation.

Images I have seen now on it have been seared into my mind, costing me precious attention and detracting from my peace. 

Furthermore, my actions in response to all of this are also rooted in my Facebook response. What status, what meme, what point shall I make today to perfectly counter this other status or meme? 

“I’m so done.”

I say that now. 🙂

So, what to do?

You know what, Facebook? I would pay to use you, but only in exchange for some sort of limiting feature which grants me the ability to truly control my time and content. I have only found one good app for the time part, called “ScreenTime,” with which I could successfully limit my usage of apps at will, but it is no longer available to me on my current equipment. Furthermore, it is easy to cheat with these.

I suppose this is one more example of technology in our digital age in which technology exists simply to exist, and I am still stuck with my humanity. It’s on me. 

HAS FACEBOOK COST YOU? IF SO, TELL US HOW.

Categories
Adrienne Spiritual Growth

I Want Only Positive Comments

Internet-Surfing-300x199

I’ve cast a lot of words out onto waves of the internet, and mostly have reeled in positive comments (“So cute!”, “I completely agree!”, “Looks delicious!” <- I actually don’t receive that one), and of course innumerable likey thumbs. There have been plenty of times I’ve cast out some words, or shared an article and have reeled in absolutely no feedback. There I am, out on my pier, all alone with my religious article, pretending to be cool about it. On occasion I’ve reeled in some negative feedback. And, I deem negative feedback as unwarranted, unfair, and uncharitable of the person from whence the smelly fish of a comment came. Even a mere comment of disagreement has no comfortable place in my combox. If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all. Keep your smelly fish to yourself. Since nothing I write is of any interest to people outside of my immediate family and friends, I receive lots of positive feedback, a good lonely helping of no feedback, and only a little negative feedback.

Evidence bears out that once a blogger reaches an audience base filled with strangers, the negative comments come trolling in, no matter the topic. But most internet contributors I know, via their personal blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook statuses fall into the same category as me – receiving lots of positive feedback.

The internet provides all of us an unusually large daily audience, even for us friends and family only folks. Everyday has an opportunity to share something already emotionally sufficient in our lives and garner even more emotion from it. Enjoying snow cones with the fam? That’s already a pretty great hour spent. Post it on Facebook, and enjoy the high of 34 “likes” rolling over the next several hours. Downtrodden with the stomach bug going around? Post “Ugh. Sick again” and soothe yourself with the sympathies of ten “I’m so sorry, get better soon!” replies. Well, maybe it won’t be soothing, but at least a little entertaining while you’re stuck in bed. Share a deep theological article, and people will let you know how much it convicted them or how much they agree with you and your deep theological self. Maybe it was just a good thought provoking meme. Same response of affirmation from them, same response of feel goods from you – or, more specifically, me.

Auguste Toulmouche, 1890
Vanity, Auguste Toulmouche, 1890

In the last few weeks it dawned on me how self-centered and self-affirming my approach to internet response is. I could receive thirty positive responses to an article I’d written here at CS, but only one negative response and that negative response would make me feel like a failure. To be fair, I don’t think this only applies to internet correspondence, but I think the internet both exaggerates and inflates the condition. I realized that if my expectation when posting something to the internet is that it will only be well received, that I am, in effect, reveling in vanity.

Furthermore, this made me realize how much I need to expect and even embrace the negative feedback. Afterall, I’m not perfect. And, even if I were, Jesus and Mary already taught me that perfection is no defense against sorrow, disagreement, or even alienation in this world. Mary is pregnant with the Savior of the world, and yet she and Joseph are turned down, inn after inn, after inn. Jesus feeds thousands of people, then proclaims that He is the Bread of Life, and all but twelve leave him. He is beaten, spat upon, and nailed to a cross, all for proclaiming the Good News.

As someone who is neither Jesus nor Mary, I need to be ready for negative feedback for three reasons.

A) We’ve been warned by Jesus, “You will be hated by all because of my name.” Lk 21:17 – As Jesus and Mary exemplified for us, evil will combat me no matter how close to God and Truth I may be. Such is the nature of living in this world. Charity and honesty are needed, but also the realization that even Christ didn’t badger people into believing his teachings. He simply stated the truth once and let them follow or leave.

B) We’ve been instructed “in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another.” Col 3:17 –  – I mess up a lot. Plenty of times I need to be admonished, and of some of those times, someone might actually do so. It’s not evil. It is, however, uncomfortable. And it’s biblical. I need to be ready to accept the admonishment, especially without transferring the blame.

C) When someone disagrees with me, it’s okay. It’s not necessarily hatred or mean spirited, someone can just simply disagree with me. Sometimes it’s easy to take this personally when it doesn’t have to be. It may be more personal than the interlocutor may admit, but maybe not personal at all. Above all, I need to remember that my ideas and preferences can be disagreed with.

D) Sometimes, yes, I will receive unwarranted negative feedback, of the type that may be a personal attack or simply unfair. I need to remember to not dismiss all negative feedback to this category, but to see first if it may fall into the first three. On the occasion that the confrontation is of this category, I need to be ready to forgive immediately, because God knows how many times I have said things in this category to others. I don’t need to hold others to a higher standard than I wish for them to hold me to. And in this case I need to respond to them the way I would genuinely want to be responded to when I am in the wrong – which may be to just let it slide without recognition.

While I know it’s honest that I still want only positive feedback, I can see that this desire in me is neither good nor healthy. It’ll be a long time, if ever, before I can receive negative feedback well, not matter how warranted or unwarranted such remarks may be. My humility, however, will demand I learn to do so.

 

 The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)

From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.
In the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Categories
Current Events Ink Slingers Martina

Catholic Sistas 2013 Year in Review

2013 has been an AMAZINGLY fruitful year! The talent of our Ink Slingers and their ability to convey the Faith in a variety of ways to meet you where you are in your faith walk, our prayer campaigns shared exclusively through our Facebook fan page, our prayer intentions on the fan page as well as the website, our splash onto the Instagram scene with our debut Lenten photo challenge, our saint of the day photos, Catholic Nerd series created for chuckles, our daily #WFD posts on Facebook {that’s What’s For Dinner for all you greenhorns!}, our strong presence at the DC March for Life on Twitter and lastly, quadrupling our following on Pinterest, this year has been marked with a lot of projects and activities, all centered on sharing the Faith. I am excited that we have had a well-balanced presence on the most popular social media platforms!

I would like to take a moment to reflect on Pinterest, friends. Stick with me. 🙂

Though the primary mission of Catholic Sistas has always been 1) to inspire others to learn and grow in the Faith {transmission of the Faith} and 2) to connect others through prayer, I am pleased to be able to offer something else I find important and almost integral in the life of a Catholic – being connected to other Catholics and Catholic resources to assist our ongoing faith formation. Our Pinterest account exploded this year! After careful review of the content we were offering in early 2013, it became necessary to restructure the boards. All this means is the boards that were broad in nature were carved into specific niches, creating a more streamlined experience for both myself as well as all our followers. In April, I took over the Pinterest account responsibilities and saw how much the previous ladies had done, first Heidi and later Birgit. It was incredible to me the amount of work they put into getting it where it was! I initially had some reservation about making changes, but knew it was inevitable. The account went from 30+ boards to currently sitting at 120+ boards, with a few more on the horizon {mostly taking broad categories and carving them out a bit}.

YearInReview2013

Because our schedules are so busy and our time precious, this became the motivation for me to create very specific boards for our Pinterest account. I want our followers to find what they need and pin it and not get sucked into the Pinterest vortex! From all things Catholic, such as feast days by the month, Catholic homeschooling, sacraments, vocations, our pope, respect life, articles, youth ministry ideas, and domestic church, to food, design, homeschool resources, organizing, fashion and more, you will find there is something for everyone! If you have not yet ventured into the world of Pinterest, I invite you to come check us out. I even wrote a how-to article on Pinterest for those interested in the pros and cons from a Catholic perspective. We have become one of the largest, most organized Catholic Pinterest accounts and look forward to your company!

Our 10 most popular posts for 2013 are the following, thanks in part to our readers like you who continue to support us by reading and praying for the blog and its mission. Without further ado, I give you:

10) Getting Over the Free-Range Chicken Syndrome, Order in {Catholic} Homeschooling

9) Why Christians Opened the Door to Gay Marriage

8) 19 Shockingly Simple Ways to Live Your Crazy Catholic Life

7) Your Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices

6) A Chemist Believes in Transubstantiation

5) 7 Things the Secular Media Should Know about the Pope and the Church

4) We Will Remember: How Being Chained to An Abortion Table Saved a Life

3) 10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

2) Will the Next Pope Be the Antichrist? The Last Pope? Is The End Near? and other burning questions

1) Super Bowl Show: Trying to Make Hell Look Cool

If you could continue to keep Catholic Sistas in your prayers as we head into 2014, I sure would appreciate it! With a simple mission, it allows us to explore so many avenues, ideas and projects and we always make every effort to place God at the center of those decisions.

Thank you, friends, and God bless. 🙂