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Advent Christmas Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Spiritual Growth Victoria K

The Road to Bethlehem & The Flight to Egypt

Two Incredible Moves

Nothing goes together quite like military life and moving.  The longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere is one year.  My stuff hasn’t been in one place for more than a year since 2011. The transient life can really get under my skin sometimes.  There are times that I really just want one neighborhood, one set of friends, one parish, one job, one doctor, one grocery store… the list goes on.

Focus on the struggles, and it can be unbearable. Last Advent and Christmas Season, however, I was inspired by another wife who found herself moving a lot: Mama Mary.  Her journey on the road to Bethlehem and her flight to Egypt.

After all my moves, I can’t just skim over these passages anymore – The Journey to Bethlehem and The Flight to Egypt hold a special place in my heart now.  They inspire me with their witness of trust and totally abandonment to God’s will – something that I pray for in my own vocation.

 

The Road to Bethlehem

Oh man, pregnancy.  What a beautiful time – and oh goodness but I was nauseous, sick, sore, the list goes on.  We moved down to Charleston and I was pregnant, navigating all the exhaustion and food aversions of first trimester.  It’s so uncomfortable traveling long distances that pregnant. There was no position I could sit in and be comfortable, and I had motion sickness something fierce.

I can’t help but to be struck by our Mama Mary traveling in third trimester (which was my worst trimester) to Bethlehem.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the facets of this journey. This journey for them was hard.  Physically exhausting.  Emotionally exhausting. 

I think about how hard these journeys must have been on Mary’s body.  How Mary had to deliver her child away from her parents, away from her mom, St. Anne. Yes, she had St. Joseph, but I know if I had to pick between my husband and my mama to be there for labor and delivery, I’d pick my mama.  Every day of the week.

How could she endure such a hard journey at such a critical time?

 

The Flight to Egypt

For our next move, we had baby in tow.  Mamas, I don’t know how y’all move with children. It’s stressful, hectic, and overwhelming. You end up packing up just the thing your baby decides she needs for the trip.  Everything is lost, all over the place, naps are messed up, overnight sleep is messed up, eating patterns are messed up, everything is messed up. We moved up to Norfolk with a baby screaming the whole way there.

Moving with a baby, I connect it with the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.  How there was no idea of how things would be taken care of. When would they be settled? When would they come home?  Where was home?

How do you make such a dramatic move with a newborn?

 

Radical Trust

The answer to the questions is so simple and clear, but so hard to live out: radical trust.

If we have anything we can learn from the Holy Family, it is total abandonment to God’s call.  Both times they gave everything to God. Just look at St. Joseph’s response to the call to go to Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15.  They just went. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t complain like I always do about having to pack things and leave all my favorite places and people behind.

Finally, as I still encounter moving stickers, unpacked boxes, everything in all its newness, I contemplate  the Holy Family in Egypt. The bible doesn’t say a whole lot about that time. But they would’ve been foreigners in a strange place.  They would’ve started a new life. Worked, raised Jesus, form community.  

Although the bible never explicitly states it, I have to believe that they approached it with peace, with love, with trust.

As my husband starts his new job, and I work to raise my baby girl, and we all work to find our place in this community, meditating on the Holy Family in Egypt is a great solace.  

God has called my family and me to this life.  He has called all of our families to a myriad of crazy situations. For all of us, there are moments that are hectic, stressful, chaotic, difficult, messy.

  

 

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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.

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Ink Slingers

Moving with Little Ones


While I wish this was a post about getting exercise with children, it’s not. (Although maybe someday, I’ll write about that.) For now, I literally mean packing up everything and moving to a new home. And did I mention with an almost three year old and nine month old?

Here, I am going to outline eight practical tips for moving with children.

  1. It seems so obvious, but sometimes we forget to do it when it comes to events that aren’t religious, per say. Entrust your move to St. Joseph and Mother Mary. They had to flee to Egypt right after Jesus was born so they know how to move on a dime. Ask them to take care of the details; to help keep peace during this time and to let God be glorified through it all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if at the end of the move day, you could say, “Wow, God, that was wonderful. Thank you!” Let us ask St. Paul to intercede for us so we can give thanks in everything.
  2. Get movers. We live in an age of DIY and yes, you can rent a UHaul and yes, you can summon family and friends to help you, but having movers eliminates many worries. Especially with little ones because one parent still has to be all hands on deck, so that leaves one parent doing most of the physical work. Moving is exhausting. Parenting little children is exhausting. Get the movers. You can still be cost-efficient by being prepared and have everything packed so you only have to use them for the minimum time.
  3. Make a packing schedule and list, and start earlier than you think you need to. You can start with the non-essentials and do one box a day. As moving day gets closer, check your schedule often so that you stay on track. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can take the longest––for example, taking down curtains and curtain rods. A seemingly 20-minute project can be an hour plus once you wash the curtains because in taking them down you realize they were quite dusty! Gradual packing is like spiritual life in that we need to be working on it daily as to not be rushing at the end.
  4. Accept help. If family and friends offer to watch your kids so you can pack before or on the move day, say yes. It’s amazing how much you can pack in one hour uninterrupted as opposed to two hours interrupted. If a friend from church wants to help with a couple boxes, let them. Sometimes we try to keep people away when we don’t feel our home is presentable or that we ourselves aren’t presentable, but it’s humbling to let people see us when we’re less than our best. Let go of the pride and let people in.
  5. As you pack things up, think about if you really use it, want it, or need it. Moving is a good opportunity to declutter and simplify. Do you really use that panini press? Is that second hand coffee table really practical with children? Make the time for deciding now, because we think we’ll have more time once we move, but the truth is that we’ll be getting settled and we won’t want to be deciding about our things then. We’ll end up putting them in the attic and dealing with it later. We all know that later could be in 10 years, at which point we’ll donate or discard them. So save the hassle of moving them and the mental space of keeping of them. Only keep the things you use, want or need.
  6. Lower your expectations. Not to get confused with getting rid of expectations altogether, because that’d be chaos! Lowering expectations is about accepting that things won’t go as you planned, but they’ll still go. Frozen meals for a couple nights will be fine. Boxes overflowing into the living spaces add character to the rooms. Running out of clothes because you sold your washer and dryer makes you thankful for the one you’ll have in the new home. Having lower expectations lets you accept the present state with joy even though it might seem disastrous!
  7. Take pictures. This move is part of your family story. In the future you might have more kids who won’t realize you lived in a different home. They’ll want to know what it was like. They’ll want to see what you were doing before they were born. Pictures always serve as a great record-keeper.
  8. Give tasks to your kids. They like to help and they like to be included. Maybe it’s giving them a marker to label a box with their own writing. Or asking them to hold the tape down as you pull it across the box. They like to see the changes happening around them too. Moving is a family effort and there is something for everyone to do (except the babies, of course), but even they can “supervise” from their high chair.

If you’re moving, you probably want this to end here so you can get started on your packing schedule, but I have just one more thing to add. Moving reminds us that we are pilgrims in this life. Our true home is in Heaven. The home we are moving to won’t be perfect, but we’re thankful nonetheless for what God has provided. May our move be an opportunity to reflect on our eternal dwelling place with the Lord. May it stir in us a deeper desire for Heaven and the things of Heaven.

Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for those of us moving.

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Celeste Domestic Church Ink Slingers Parenting Special Needs Connection Vocations

Moving as a Special Needs Family

The process of moving a family is a huge undertaking. For a typical family it can be stressful, anxiety inducing, and full of the complexities that come with transferring a family to a new residence. The additional complexities that come with having a special needs child (or several in my case) can make the task quite overwhelming. This is where faith, organizing, and a good support system come in.

Three of my children have special needs and we are facing moving in the very near future. I am grateful that I have some experience under my belt already. Just over two years ago, I moved my little family across the country from North Carolina to California. My oldest was 12, and my youngest was about a year old and still breastfeeding. I drove the kids in the van, and my mom followed behind with our dog and the household goods in a truck. I like to think of it as an adventure. Thankfully, we won’t be repeating that adventure, and I am grateful that everything went so smoothly with some planning and thinking ahead.

Some of the planning begins even before we find the right place to live. Safety and accessibility to resources are essential components, not just enough rooms and square footage.

Location

Location is important for us. I want my kids to be in a safe place, but also to have things easily accessible to them like their schools and other resources. For many families with special needs children living out of town, or far from doctors and specialists, can be a life or death situation. Often a family will move to be certain to have these accessible to their children. Within my own daughter’s class, the parents were conversing just the other day about their choice of neighborhood because of the schools that it would allow their child to go to that give the most comprehensive services for their child’s needs. My initial move from the East Coast to the West Coast was for exactly this reason. Within the special needs community, it is extremely common for this to happen. Being a caregiver can be extremely demanding at times and having the resources available to your child can be essential to the well-being of the family as a whole. So for us it isn’t always just about what house we’ll fit into and can afford, but the location within distance to the resources that are needed. It can be very complex and stressful at times. Having to begin with new doctors, therapists, and specialists is a full-time job when you have more than one child with special needs. In my own situation, I am hoping to keep my children within the same school district so that we don’t have to change schools, services, and start from ground zero.

Education and Services

The complexities that come with children with IEP’s also adds a dimension to moving. My oldest child just had his first IEP meeting for high-school last week, and I’m hoping against hope to be able to keep this particular school within reach. For him, moving and beginning from ground zero after arriving in California was a bit of a traumatic experience. We went through some very difficult emotional and behavioral issues, which resulted in having to slowly integrate him back into a public school setting. It took 6 months. He’s made friends now, is doing very well academically, and has resources and specialists that he knows he can depend on for help when he needs it. As a child gets older, who has intellectual and/or learning disabilities, it doesn’t always get easier to handle change. The child may develop more understanding and hopefully develop better coping skills, but it is a very delicate balance. Introducing new things, or too many changes at once, can be overwhelming. Have you ever experienced a man sized-child meltdown in public? It is stressful for everyone involved. If I can avoid upsetting the delicate balance in the household by keeping things as steady and dependable as possible, that is what we aim for.

Preparation

I like to prepare my kids as much as is possible for all big events. Moving is no different. We talk about the move, when it will happen, and what will happen. This is a practical part of our daily life and working on executive functioning skills. These are the skills that you and I use everyday to function in our home, school, and the community. But we practice and prepare purposefully to be ready for things. I’ll give them a general time frame, and make a point of being as open with them as possible, and appropriate, for their age. No one likes things being sprung on them, especially something big like a move.

Home Accessibility and Safety

Depending on what your child’s disability is, you will have to consider aspects about the housing that you are moving into. Is it going to be accessible and safe for my child/children? What precautions do I need to take ahead of time to make it safe? I have two children that are escape artists and bolt out open doors. Do I need to install extra locks on doors? Are there doorways, or stairwells that will need gates to keep someone in a safe area? Do we need locks on windows and cupboards? Door knobs that need locks installed or to be replaced altogether to prevent escaping? If you have a child with a wheel chair, can a ramp be installed if you are not at ground level? These are just a few examples of the practical things that need to be considered for a move.

Support System

Having a good support system and trusting that God will be with you through it all are the essentials. You can’t control every aspect of a move, and what may unexpectedly happen. I’ve learned that first hand, things happen that can’t be helped. Having friends or family to lean on is great, even if you need someone just to talk to and lean on. As special needs parents, we know that having someone in a similar situation can be essential to saving our sanity at times. Parenting kids with special needs can sometimes be isolating and lonely. Moving and still caring for a child or children with special needs adds a dimension that is very complex to something that is already a stressful situation. If you don’t have support, I would suggest searching out support in the place where you hope to relocate to. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer over your situation, as most special needs families that I’ve met have great faith and are wonderful prayer warriors. Sometimes practical help, like having more people around to move things is not what you need, but moral and spiritual support is. Lean on your friends for this.

Trust in God

God knows and sees in our situation and knows our needs even more than we do ourselves. Keeping this in mind, we can go to Him when we feel uncertain, stressed out, angry, or whatever the emotion may be. We do our best, and we need to leave to Him the rest. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last few moves that we’ve made, it’s that sometimes things don’t go as planned (or even close to it), but they do always work out somehow for our good.

Lord, we place our upcoming transitions in your hands! St. Joseph, pray for us!

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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Karen Resources Your Handy-Dandy List

The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Moving to a New Town Without Losing Your Mind

Since marrying my wonderful amazing husband (are you reading this, honey?) in 2010, we have lived in three states, four towns, four apartments, and two houses. As an added wonderful bonus, we’ve also had three children in that span.  I learned quickly how to adapt to a new town and become plugged into the community, at least a little relatively quickly, mainly through trial and error and my husband’s past experiences with moving around frequently.

So, when you are knee deep (scratch that. OVER YOUR HEAD) in boxes, wearing sweatpants because it’s a day that ends in “y,” and you’ve eaten takeout off paper plates with plastic forks four days in a row, how on EARTH do you start to adjust yourself to a new town, let alone grow friendships and find a solid parish community?

Before You Move

  • Pack a box that has kid toys and kid bedding in it, and make sure you either bring it yourself, or that it will be the first thing unloaded off the truck. The last thing you want to deal with when you face moving day is not having materials for your children to play and nap. Tired and bored kids make for a cranky mom. And well, you know what they say: When Mom ain’t happy, no one is! Bonus points if you do this early so that the toys are exciting.
  • Prep your kids. This is helpful more for the over 2.5 year old crowd. Kids like to know what is going on. Get them excited about the new place and all the cool things they will get to see in the new town. If you have kids of an age where they will have to say goodbye to friends, have a sendoff party or gathering (ideally at a park!) so that they can have one last fun time, say goodbye, and exchange contact info to try to keep in touch.
  • Research parishes. It’s easy now to research parishes before you ever move to an area. We found one great way to research what parishes in our future hometown might be a good fit for us was to look up their Sunday bulletins. In many areas, these are available online. They can give a good picture as to the Church’s financial situation (many post their financial summary right there in the bulletin), their priorities, their activities, and even often stats about them like how many parishioners they have. I gravitate towards a parish with lots of young and large families, and I have tended to see that more in parishes that have a focus on pro-life causes and lots of activities for a range of age groups. Mass times and confession times are a big deal to me. We aren’t 8am churchgoers (10am is difficult to get to for us!), but I love a parish with frequent confession availability rather than the usual Saturday 3-4pm slot.
  • Research Catholic mom groups within the parishes and on Facebook. Get added into applicable facebook groups and check out their events listed. RSVP to one that is reasonable (a mom’s night where you can bring the kids to play in the church playroom, for example). Do this BEFORE you move so that you have something to get plugged into quickly.

 

Day of the Move

  • Track down that toy and bedding box and set up a corner for play and nap time.
  • Lower expectations. Things might break, kids might go nuts, and no matter how hard you try, you will not get time to wipe everything down before your stuff ends up there. Roll with it. You will get time soon enough to deal with it all. The lower your expectations, the less crazy the upheavel will affect you.

    Full boxes stacked neatly in a corner--about as clutter-free as a move can get!
    Full boxes stacked neatly in a corner–about as clutter-free as a move can get!
  • Eat out or eat takeout the first night. Maybe you are super organized and prepacked a meal. If so, bless you, you are more organized than I! For the rest of you busy moms, just do takeout. It’s easy, and no dishes. Who wants to do dishes on their first night? Amiright?
  • Track down the disinfectant. I know, I know. I talked about lowering expectations. But since my kids threw up on everything our first night in our new house, I have to just put it out there: know where it is.
  • Unpack only plates, cutlery/silverware, cups, a frying pan, the beds, and bath stuff first. The rest is all a bonus. When you’re childless, generally you have so much less in the way of belongings that it makes lots of sense to follow the old advice of unpacking your bed last so that it forces everything else to be put in order, but for those with families and especially little kids, it’s not practical.

After the Move

  • Go to that RSVPed event. The house is a wreck. There are at least fifty unopened boxes (or worse, they’re all unpacked as a cluttered mess calling your name). Just go. Not only will going to an event/mom’s night invigorate you, but it very quickly gets you over the nervous introductions. And, as an added benefit, you will meet some undoubtedly nice people for whom it is fun to tell you all about town. When people find out you are new to town, they are much more welcoming and interested in talking to you than if you’ve been around for a year. So get out there, introduce yourself and take that very uncomfortable first plunge into meeting new people. A good goal is to meet at least one person with whom you exchange contact information with to schedule a future playdate.
  • Keep going out to things, as you are able to. Just don’t invite anyone over for a month while you get your house in order (people will totally understand!).
  • Be sure to contact that person you met to schedule that playdate!
  • As quickly as you can, swing back into routines. It will make your soul feel good to be back to a normal schedule.

With any luck, these tips should help you to have a solid strategy for moving to a new town and adjusting to your new settings.