Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart, so that I should recall my sins.  -Saint Patrick

Poor Saint Patrick.

One of the most well-known saints (along with Saint Nicholas and Saint Valentine) and his feast day (March 17th) has become a day of drunken debauchery in the United States.

For those of you that don’t know the story of Saint Patrick, here it is in a nutshell: Patrick was born in 387 to a Roman Christian family in Great Britain. As a teenager, he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. [Read more...]

Lenten Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop

I never lack great thoughts or ideas…just time to get them on paper (or the blog).  With that being said, I am only four days behind on getting this post up.

Two weeks into the Lenten season and my zeal was waning.  Sacrifice was supposed to make me feel optimistic and hopeful, right? Well, it should, but I wasn’t.

(And here comes the amazing part of the story…the two wonderful priests at our parish (Father Carlos and Father Humberto) write homilies just for me! Not true, but it seems so. Every week, without fail, their homily touches on my struggles that past week – no lie! And this past Sunday was no exception, but I digress.)

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent (Luke 9:28b-36) was all about Jesus taking Peter, John, and James up the mountain to pray. As you know from the Bible, many times people are called “up the mountain” to be closer to God as He often revealed Himself on the mountain-top.  Father Carlos’ homily drew on this and told us how when he first visited our city, he was given a tour by our Archbishop. On this tour, the Archbishop took him to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Father was struck by how the Cathedral in our town sits as the highest point in the city — almost like the Cathedral sits atop a mountain.

BOOM!

There it was…my spiritual dryness could only be cured by a trip to the mountaintop, well, a trip to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. [Read more...]

The Reality of Lent with Special Needs Children

*This is going to be a bit of a lengthy post. The first half was written last night, as a reflection on what we’ve done so far this lent. The second half was written this morning, after I realized just how difficult this season can be with special needs children. If you’d rather just skip to the honest truth about the reality of celebrating Lent with special needs children, scroll down. – Tammy*

I have to admit, I am enjoying Lent. I have observed over 40 Lenten Seasons in my life, but this year, things are finally making sense.

I am finally understanding how wonderful it feels to make more room for God, and less room for me.

I want the family to live simply and austerely for the next forty days; to grow closer to God and truly appreciate how much He has blessed our family. I already mentioned how we are abstaining from all unnecessary, material purchase.  I also want each family member to step out of his comfortable (okay, call it what it really is: disrespectful or rude) interactions with the family and take these 40 days to make conscious efforts to grow and change they way we communicate and engage with each other. [Read more...]

Ready or Not, Here Lent Comes! Little HolyDays Link Up

This year we are ready for Lent! Well, maybe.  At least we’ve talked about it more than once before Lent, instead of the day after Ash Wednesday.  So that’s a good start!  We had our usual impromptu family meeting as lunch was wrapping up this Sunday, explaining the how and why of Lent. We gave a brilliant exhortation on a call for an increase in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, which was immediately followed by (or should I say interrupted) by the myriad of ridiculous questions like “can we give up brushing our teeth?” or “can we fast on only chocolate?’

In year’s past, our Lenten journey has been of a more personal or individual nature, but this year we are creating a Family Lenten Plan. Everyone has added ways they hope to grow in faith during this season. They also offered ways the family can incorporate more prayer into our lives.

These are some of the ideas we will using in our Lenten Plan to incorporate Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving: [Read more...]

Celebrating Saint Thomas Aquinas

Just as it is better to illuminate than merely to shine, so to pass on what one has contemplated is better than merely to contemplate.

- Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Source

 

God has granted us so many gifts, yet the one gift that is oft forgotten is the gift of the Communion of Saints. This wonderful group of saints is just like us – funny, quirky, and even cranky. They made mistakes like us and had plenty of trials and tribulations. They have walked the road before and are our cheerleaders, cheering us on to cross the finish line into heaven to join them.  Celebrating life each day with the saints is celebrating life with the family God gave us; perfect patrons for every occasion and every vocation. We will never be lonely or lost with the help of our intercessors!

In our family, we turn to the saints on many occasions for help, guidance, or just a friend to cry with.  Of course, Jesus is there too, but one true and good friend never detracts from another.  Oh, you good saints of God, thank you for your help! [Read more...]

Morning Fail: Special Needs Parenting Slip Up

Morning Fail

Simpler Times… My baby is now a 3rd grader!

Special needs parenting is rife with slip ups.

I know better. I restrained myself for a good 7 minutes. Then I let loose.

Our 14 year-old daughter struggles with a panoply of mental health issues.  Sadly, she carries with her the baggage of the early abuse and neglect she suffered before she joined our family. Most days, her behaviors and actions remind us that she still has not healed from her past – and maybe never will.

This morning was no different. She awoke on the wrong side of the bed. Things were not going her way, and she wanted to blame everyone but the real culprit – herself. My husband and I listened to her complain and blame us while we nodded and sympathized. Such is the daily requirement of special needs parenting.

On the drive to school, the tirade continued. I bit my tongue, knowing no good would come from me pointing out how her logic had failed her – how the quandary she found herself in currently was squarely because of her own actions.

But the rudeness and disrespectfulness got the best of me. [Read more...]

They will never “grow out of” Reactive Attachment Disorder

I blog for World Mental Health Day

The other day, I was discussing my 14 year-old with another mom I had recently met. She was asking about the issues my older children struggle with because she is considering adoption, possibly an older child. I am asked about adoption frequently, especially by people contemplating adoption or foster care. I usually explain that adoption can be difficult, and not just the whole process leading up to placement of the child. However, I always temper that with the blessings that I have realized as a result of the child joining my family.

I did not paint a particularly rosy picture for this mom because the adoption of an older child can be trying for some families without proper training. I ended my answer by telling her about all the progress I have watched with my children; I beamed telling her about the first hug I recently received from one of my children.

After listening to my lengthy answer, she nodded her head and said, “Well it’s good to know they grow out of these behaviors, it would be tough dealing with these things forever.”

I wanted to look at her and ask “are you kidding me?!” I either made mental illness and disabilities seem like a cakewalk or she zoned out and didn’t hear a word I had just said.  I bit my tongue and smiled.

Hopefully, if she moves forward with the adoption process, a good social worker can correct her misconceptions. I just did not have the energy that day.

A child does not “grow out of” Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). A plethora of behaviors can flow from the disorder, which can look like a defiant and highly-reactive child. With intense therapy and a good deal of understanding by the family (and possibly a hospitalization or five), a child with RAD can learn to trust a little more, form some basic attachments, and overcome some of the associated behaviors. However, a stressful situation or trigger can bring it all back in a heartbeat.

Children do not grow out of RAD.

[A child diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder is typically neglected, abused, or orphaned. RAD is believed to develop because, during the early formative years, the child's basic needs for comfort, affection, and nurturing were not met or were met inconsistently. Therefore, loving, caring attachments with others are never really established. Studies have shown that this lack of attachment permanently change the child's growing brain, hindering the ability to establish future relationships.]

I chuckle when a parent tells the story of how his child drew on the wall with crayon. My child smears feces on the wall.

I can relate to a parent who is struggling with a child who bites a sibling. My child pushed a sibling down a flight of stairs…and smirked.

I love the stories of a child who found a pair of scissors and cut her own hair. My child tried to stab me with a knife.

Parents tell me about their visits to college campuses with their teens and ask if I have attended any yet. No, my meetings with the Country Attorney for truancy keep me busy enough, but now that my child’s probation is over, we can leave the state to travel with the child without permission.

My stories are very real [and common in my household], but I rarely share them with other parents. Parenting a child with RAD is not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, it can be an exciting journey for someone up for the challenge. It is a life filled with constant learning and paradigm shifting. A life with rewards few and far between, but when they happen (and they do), THEY ARE HUGE!

The day I stood before the adoption judge and swore I would love and protect my children, I meant it. My [vow/goal/promise] is to help them heal and, someday, leave my home in better shape than when they entered it.

…but my children will not grow out of RAD.

{This article was originially posted on my previous blog, The Durable Mom}

Why I have yet to write

I have yet to write a post on the blog that is technically half my responsibility.

When Hannah and I first brainstormed the idea of writing a blog together, it sounded so perfect.

Of course, life gets always seems to get in the way.

We had decided we would start writing after Hannah and Sean’s wedding, in June. Then we wanted some time to relax, so we waited. Then we were prepping to travel down to Iowa, for a reception on the Mac side of the family, so we waited.

After that, it was August. Things were slowing down a bit in our house.

The quiet before the storm, really.

Come September, sun up to sun down would be packed with school, chauffeuring, after school activities, volunteering, chaperoning field trips, and sports practices and games. I just wanted some down time.

Then September hit, but not as hard as I expected. In the past, there has been no down time in September – until this year. For the first time in fourteen years (Yes, fourteen. I’ve been a SAHM or WAHM since we adopted Tav, who will be turning 16 this December) there is finally a time during the day when I am alone. Granted, it only happens three times a week for 2 1/2 hours when Aiden is in preschool, but those 450 minutes are all mine!

With all this luxurious free time, I’ve been doing some thinking. These thoughts have been churning around in my brain for quite some time, but now I finally have the quiet to hear myself think.

This is the one life we’re given.

This is our only chance to do well by our Lord, and raise up those around us to Heaven.

I don’t like where society is going. This culture of mindlessness, living too fast, and unnecessary excess is not one I want my children and grandchildren to live in.

It’s time for me, and my family, to live more mindfully.

It’s time for me, and my family, to become more involved in our church.

It’s time for me to say all the things I’ve wanted to say. All the rants I’ve been holding inside.

It’s time for me to write. Just write. Because I can. Because God gave me this voice and this ability and I’ll be damned if I let my talents go to waste.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

And blog all about it.