Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Show Your Real: Christina

When Christina and I met a few years ago, it seemed unlikely that we would be friends. Not because she wasn't a friendly, lovely woman...(she was, and is) but because on paper our lives were drastically different. She was a stay at home mom of 4. (Yep- four...all boys). And I was a working woman with no kids. She's in her 30's, from Pittsburgh, a devout Catholic, who scrapbooks, writes a cooking blog, and uses phrases like Oh my stars! (Me: a 20 something, Ohio bred, non-denominational Christian who hasn't printed a photo in 5 years, shares recipes mostly for comedic effect, and tends towards slightly more colorful phrases.) I say all this not to tease her, but just to illustrate the “boxes” I tend to put people in when first meeting them. Nothing against her at all....I assumed we'd get along fine at book club, but probably wouldn't relate much outside of that.

And for a while, I was right. But then I got pregnant. And guess what! So did she (yep- again). And our relationship began to change. She became so helpful for advice, but what I found surprising was she also came to me for advice. It had been a few years since her last baby and she had never had a girl. We started exchanging Facebook messages, sharing helpful links, and sending encouraging texts. We followed each other blogs and celebrated the mini miracles of mom-ing newborns.

God has taught me through our friendship. Not only through the wisdom Christina has showed me directly, but also just the concept that it's not so much what we do, that helps us to form bonds (though that helps) it's how we do what we do. Christina has a beautiful heart, and thoughtful spirit that I can (and do!) learn from...even when my life experiences don't match hers. Our relationship illustrates the Show Your Real concept so well- seeing how someone else lives, and being inspired, humbled, and humored, even if it's very different from your real. I'm so thankful to have her sharing with us today.


------------------------------------------------

I was getting ready to share my REAL with everyone this week and thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane and see how real I've been in the past 7 years of my blog. I started this whole adventure into blogging when I was tired of just reading all these other cool scrapbooking blogs (that was my entry into the blogosphere) and thought, why can't I do this blog thing?


So I just dove in head first and here I am still. A little less frequent than I would like to be but still working on getting down onto "screen" my thoughts/feelings/meanderings/adventures that I take with my family. My blog has been my way of holding onto those fleeting (oh.so.fleeting) moments of raising kids and all of my little interests/hobbies that I try and tackle along the way.


When Courtney started talking about showing your real, I was all in for whatever she had planned. I like her ideas and her fashion sense. I feel sometimes that I have so much real to share that there's just not enough space and time and minutes in the day to jot any of it down. Then there's the side of me that is hesitant to put too much out there on the inter webs because as my kids get older, there's this certain aspect of privacy and being too real with too many people. I don't know. It's a balance, a fine line, etc etc. I cherish the IRL (in real life) friendships that I have and have fostered and I'm cool with being transparent and honest with them. I think I have the balance thing down okay. HOWEVER, blogs can get a little too shiny and perfect sometimes and I certainly don't want to be that blogger. I DO want to share that life is messy and chaotic but beautiful and worth the sacrifices none the less.


All that to say, here goes my real.






This guy has been my roommate, my love and my rock for almost 13 years now. We entered into the sacrament of marriage on December 30, 2000- it was the most wonderful day of my life despite the cold and ice.


At our wedding reception, jokes were made about how many kids we would have one day. The numbers 7 (my favorite number) and 11 (Mr. Crafty's favorite number) were thrown out there! egads, eleven is quite a lot! In all honesty, I did want to have a big family. It was fun to talk about and easy to let those words just spill from my mouth. While neither of us grew up in large families we started our marriage trusting in what God wanted to do in and through us. We were open to life and would see what that entailed.

"We must begin with love, continue with love, and end with love"


-St Francis de Sales

Now here we are, 10 1/2 years into this parenting gig and I'm over half way through my 5th pregnancy- awaiting the arrival of our newest family member... baby number SIX in September! (confused? I had twins)

I am having my sixth child.


When I say that out loud, I laugh internally. REALLY LOUD. Loud enough that I think someone hears the banter and guffawing in my head.


Why am I laughing? Well, I guess it has something to do with the fact that even though I said all those things about having a big family all those years ago, I had NO IDEA that would/could/might ever happen to me.


Apparently I'm fertile.


That said, I have never taken my fertility for granted. We have always remained open to life whenever God would choose to open or close the womb. So after number one was born.... I didn't just expect a number two and then when I was pregnant with TWINS, well, then, I thought God was hilarious and just wanted to see how big of a challenge I could handle.


Nowadays, God and I have some really REAL conversations. My youngest, number 5, is 15 months old as this goes to press. SHE is a doll. I love her to bits and pieces and she melts my heart a gazillion times a day with her funny little looks and sweet kisses and all that jazz.


But man, cute or not, this parenting thing is hard stuff!
I cry (pregnant or not) at least 3x a week because I stink at parenting or because one of my kids told me they hate me. boo
I pray every.single.day for control over my tone/words/temper and fail every.single.day and beg God to give me another chance to do better tomorrow.
I laugh out loud at something one of my twins has said every day because they're hysterical.
There is not one day that goes by that I'm not trying to figure out what to feed someone or multiple someones. I try hard to plan meals and all but sometimes a book/blog/walk/insert whatever else I procrastinate with gets the better of me and then I'm all "CRAP, it's 3:15! They're coming home soon!!!!!"
Disciplining toddlers is NOTHING compared to disciplining these 8 and 10 year olds. The words sneaky, cunning, sassy and suspicious come to mind. A.LOT.

And then I see things like this baby girl's smile and go... right, God, you totally made me for this job and I know YOU know what you're doing, so I'm going to have to trust that if YOU KNOW what you're doing, that you're going to send down buckets of grace and mercy on me to get through this, right?

("you bet, Crafty" -God (He's cool like that and calls me Crafty))



When I figured out I was preggo with baby #6 I was a mix of emotions: ecstatic, scared, bewildered, thankful, scared, frustrated, happy. I guess the pregnancy hormones hit me early with this one.


So yeah, all those emotions and then the big ones that crept into my head: what will people think/what are they going to say/how am I going to answer them now?!?!


When we were expecting Sophia we were already THAT big family. We had gone above and beyond the call of duty by having yet another baby after 4 boys! People would ask me WHILE I was pregnant with #5, "so are you done now?" or "Do you think you'll have more?" or my absolute fave "Are you crazy?!?!?" (by the way, they're still asking that question with #6!).


My response has always been something along the lines of "WHO are YOU to ask, it's none of your business!?!?!" LOL


I jest. But really, I get it. We are definitely a rare breed over here. Large families are certainly not the norm these days.

So how did I beat those thoughts out of my head? I reminded myself as I MUST do daily, that it doesn't matter what our families think or our neighbors or the lady at the checkout at Target. What matters most in life is how faithful we are to God and His plan. How obedient we are to trusting in His plan for each of us.


It's scary. It's a HUGE unknown. Most days I wake up thinking... again? dinner, dishes, laundry, diapers, arguments, cajoling into doing chores... AGAIN?!?!?


And then God reminds me, "yes, Crafty, I put up with all your idiosyncrasies and your unfaithfulness and your arguing. So just love them through me and let me love you more each day." (now, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat a gajillion times a day to self)




While I love to read and hear what God has to say to me and find encouragement, daily from God's word, our new Pope is rocking my world lately with his awesomeness. And this GEM of wisdom from last week's homily on Pentecost Sunday gave me so much hope, encouragement and fervor in living out my vocation...

Pope Francis reflecting on that scene in Acts chapter 2:1-11


Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?



Amen to that and that and that and that.

Having 1, 2, 4, 6 kids is most definitely scary. As each child is born into our family we realize more and more how little control we have of the situation. And yet God reveals himself in each of these little people in our home. He fortifies my calling to motherhood and the tremendous task of raising these children for HIM. He shows me what complete trust in Him can do to transform my heart, mind and soul. It can even help me work through the chaos of the hours between 3:21-8:00 pm (feel free to stop on by and be a fly on the wall for THAT realness).


I could write paragraphs on all the nitty gritty ins-and-outs of my day and how I manage to get through each one alive with a husband who works in the LOOOONG hours of the car biz. ha! (a little pinot grigio and Blue Moon helps, no?) But really and truly it all comes down to me being open to God's plan for each day, surrendering my wants and desires and selfishness and letting His wants and desires take the lead.




"You..can never fail. You haven't failed; you've acquired experience. Forward!"
--St. Josemaria Escriva



Do you know that line that St. John the Baptist uttered, "he must increase, so I must decrease". yeah, that.



I'm not braver than the mom next door. Most days I'm scared out of my wits and just want to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.


I'm not supermom but I try to bless my kids through the talents I have and that just comes out in cookies, crafty stuff and homemade muffins from time to time.

I fully believe God blesses some of us with one kid, some of us with many and some of us with none because He knows exactly what we need to get to heaven. The children and husband I have are my tickets there. They're transforming my very rough exterior and even rougher interior into the image of God.

I am a wife, mother and daughter who just wants to be holy and I do that through my own messy means of muddling through the day-to-day grind and leaning heavily upon grace.

that's my real.


be encouraged.


"The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake- you can't learn anything from being perfect." ~Adam Osborne



-------------------------------------


Show Your Real is a bi-weekly series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me! 

6 comments :

  1. I love it! And you! And all your babies!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Genuine, witty, real, and beautiful. Yep! Sounds like Christina! Blessed to have you for inspiration (be it crafty, food, or fun) and encouragement as a mom of little ones! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are very sweet to me. thank you

      Delete
  3. You are one of the sweetest, kindest, and awesome people I know. I also am aware of how much you are loved. Your children often tell me about your delicious meals (i.e.,the salad bar night). You are a wonderful mother and Christian. I am a witness to your Godly love in all things and for all things and I am better for being graced by knowing you. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for your encouragement! are you sure they never tell you about the crazy foods I ask them to eat? hahaha

      Delete