Friday, March 7, 2014

First First Friday

For the past two months or so I have been glimpsing hearts everywhere. Just little hearts made out of a variety of substances at odd times throughout the day, nearly every day. I've been taking it as little proofs that God loves me, and he's winking at me. He's pointing me toward his Sacred Heart. I decided last week that for Lent I'm going to begin doing a First Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart. Today I went to my first ever (!) daily Mass! I don't have high theology or beautiful prose about it. I'm just going to tell you my testimony in traditional Rachel fashion, of how I let God love me today.

I was initially very nervous to go to daily Mass with a toddler. I knew that they hold daily Mass in a little chapel off to the side of the main church and that I would not be able to be invisible in the crowd. I thought old ladies would give me dirty looks when the child started making noise, and maybe I would have to take her out. I knew my only option would be to attend the 8 AM Mass, and I was nervous because Lillian usually takes a nap right around 8 AM. The first way I saw God love me was that my girl slept almost an hour later than usual this morning, pushing nap time until after I knew Mass would be over. I felt like he encouraged me to go ahead and go to Mass as planned.

What I did not expect was that when I walked into the chapel today, the only seat left untaken was directly in front of the altar. If I'd had my choice, I would have gone in a very back corner. God had other plans, he saved me a seat right in front. Clearly, he wants me to increase in humility. I felt very visible in the front, holding a squirmy baby (the only child at Mass) and veiled. Still, I was in the Divine Mercy Chapel directly in front of a huge image of the Kazimirowski Divine Mercy. It reminded me why I was there.

The Mass started with the first day of a novena to St. Joseph. My being at this Mass seemed somewhat providential. Yesterday I began my plan to read the book of Matthew during lent. I had meditated on the faith of St. Joseph, the way he put his full trust in God even when God seemed to change plans with very little notice. The novena prayer talked in part about this very thing! It seemed really fitting that I was there to witness and hear this prayer.

The Mass went on as usual. I did my best to listen and control my child at the same time (please, don't quiz me on the readings!). She tried to rip my veil off a couple of times, but for the most part Lilly did well. I did not receive any dirty looks. The baby and I received only smiles and graciousness. These all seem like such little things, but the whole experience seemed a gift from God. I went to console the heart of Jesus, but He ended up consoling mine.

Monday, March 3, 2014


With eyes fixed on God, things which seemed too little suddenly become enough. I'm sure I've read this concept somewhere, but praying this morning it really came to the fore. When we rely on His providence, one way in which He works is to sow in our hearts contentment and gratitude for the meager pickings. 

I kept seeing Mary content and joyful within her strange situation, her unplanned pregnancy that must have thrown a monkey wrench in her plans. The infant Christ laid in bare wood and scratchy hay of a feed trough. It was enough. The family sent to Egypt with who-knows-what to get by. The years of Jesus's life leading up to his ministry in which he probably encountered seasons of scarcity and hunger...but it was enough.

I know that sometimes it's my focus which gets me into trouble. I want to self-medicate the anxiety or sadness with food or buying or going or doing. I ought to throw all of my cares onto Him, because He cares about me (1 Peter 5:7). But I often turn to creatures, nonetheless. When the cupboards are a little bare it's difficult to find those little creature-comforts to give me a lift. My focus is off, and I know it.

I have lately been captivated by the image of St. John of the Cross in a dark, cramped little closet looking lovingly at a little patch of light streaming in from above. The focus on Christ which makes everything else incidental. 

Incidentally, you know what else is enough? Me, myself. God has given me a certain temperament, personality, talents, gifts, abilities. That's enough, too, when I trust that He has given me what I need to fulfill His plan in my life. Plus knowing that He gives abundant grace as needed.
"O my Jesus, keep me near to You! See how weak I am! I cannot go a step forward by myself; so You, Jesus, must stand by me constantly like a mother by a helpless child--and even more so."- Divine Mercy in My Soul, 264.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oh, Baby

Lillian turned a year old last Saturday, so in a fit of I-don't-know-what-to-write here are the things that I would tell myself if I went back in time a la Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

1. Pregnancy exercise. Keep doing it even though it's a pain to make it to the park and walk every day. A time will come and you will not be able to walk two whole laps without your porky legs seizing up.

2. Pre-natal Yoga. Don't buy that DVD. You won't magically enjoy yoga now that you're pregnant. It's boring and will mostly be used as building block by the baby after birth.

3. Natural Labor. You can do it. But you should not be going through transition in a cramped Toyota Corolla. You should probably get to the birth center before you are a 9 and make them fill up that big tub!

4. Baby Socks. Just get white ones. She will rip socks off and discard them in odd locations. She will attempt to discard socks in the middle of the grocery store. In the car. At Grandma's house. In the yard. A matching pair will cease to exist in your house, although you will have tiny feet bearing two adorable un-matching socks. Always.

5. Baby Tubs. They're a pain. Soap buildup is yucky. Just get a bath mat and set that into the regular tub. It uses more water but it's 1000 times less annoying.

6. Baby clothes. Don't fold them. It wastes your time. The onesies which become victims of heinous poosplosions should be respectfully laid to rest as  brave soldiers who have fallen in battle. Seriously, that yellow stain is not going to come out.

7. Babywise. Go ahead and read that book. Get some tips from it. You don't have to follow everything it says and get stressed out when things aren't going that way. Use your instincts and everything will be fine.

8. Baby food. Just mash up some veggies and stuff. Those little jars are too expensive and bland. Eventually she will refuse to eat them and you will have a basket-full of useless can-flavored, limp vegetables sitting on a shelf.

9. Nursing bras. Don't bother trying to find an affordable nursing bra that is supportive and fits. It's a lot easier to just buy some snapping pieces and modify a bra that you already have.