Friday, May 25, 2012

Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20

Let's take a little field trip.
This is St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church and School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, where I have taught for the past 5 years.  We are a private Catholic school of about 500 K-8 students.  Take a minute to appreciate the beauty of this place.

Images taken from djn_Brian on Flickr. 

It's not just the physical structures that make it beautiful, it's the people.  The students, faculty, staff, pastor, and priests at St. Paul make it a truly special place to work and learn.  I am proud of my time here and am sad to leave.  But I go forward knowing the last 5 years here have helped prepare me for what lies ahead.

As I wrap up my final days as a Laker, I've been reflecting on my time at St. Paul.  And a song kept popping into my head that perfectly says what I've been feeling.  I've posted the words below.

I know I'll cry at our final all school mass on June 8, when the children's singing fills the sanctuary.  In fact, I'm tearing up now just thinking about it.  But I will not look back at my years at St. Paul with tears of sadness.  I go forth with joy.  Like Dr. Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place
Words and music by Lanny Wolfe

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels wings.
I see glory on each face.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.

In the midst of His children the Lord said He would be.
It doesn't take very many, it can be just two or three.
And I feel that same sweet spirit that I felt often times before.
Surely I can say I've been with the Lord.


There's a holy hush around us as God's glory fills this place.
I've touched the hem of His garment, I can almost see His face.
And my heart is overflowing with the fullness of His joy.
I know without a doubt that I've been with the Lord.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Are You Mom Enough?

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

Have you seen this?,16641,20120521,00.html

The Internet was abuzz last week when Time magazine released this issue. I'll admit that I've only glanced at the actual article. But here's the gist:
No, you are NOT mom enough.

My question is this: Mom enough for whom?

It is very easy to become consumed with parenting books and philosophies that claim, "Do this and your child will turn out great!" We might take our parenting cues from close family or friends. Maybe even from that mom on the playground who always seems to have everything so together. Hopefully, parenting is a team effort between two committed people who have an equitable share and responsibility in the raising of the children.

But who are we trying to satisfy? Our spouse? Our kids? Ourselves?

In my opinion, the only one I truly answer to is God. I am his servant. Just as Mary said yes to God when he asked her to bear and raise His son, Jesus, I need to affirm daily that He has blessed me with my two precious daughters and do everything in my power to bring them closer to Him. That's how I know I'm "Mom enough." That's really all that matters. Standardized test scores, college acceptances, honors assemblies...they're all nice, but not the point.

God has equipped each one of us with the tools we need to parent our children. Sometimes I wish I had more patience, courage, and gentleness, but I know God is using my trials as a lesson.

Are you mom enough to faithfully follow?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Better late than never?

"and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us." (Matthew 6:12 NLT)

6:08. 6:12. I checked my watch again. 6:18. I texted the babysitter and received confirmation of what I already suspected. He forgot.

My meeting starts at 7:00. It takes 20 minutes to get there. I inhale the remainder of my dinner and encourage the girls to do the same. "Change of plans, girls," I said. I pack everyone into the van, promising hot chocolate if they move quickly.

I get to my PTA meeting and set the girls up in a small side room. Working at the school my daughter attends has it's advantages: I know all the good hiding spots. I turn on Netflix on the iPad, set up two chairs, open the snack container and growl, "Please behave," as I walk down the hall to the meeting.

They behave. For about 25 minutes of the 60 minute meeting. I hastily grab my purse and meeting notes, offering apologies to the parents situated around the long conference table as I exit.

I'm frustrated. My face is hot. I'm disappointed in myself and in the girls. The situation was impossible before I had even left the house, but I had hoped for the best. I drive home wordlessly. The girls are quiet, too. We have an understanding.

Life happens and flexibility is important. But it's so hard.

It doesn't hit me until after the girls are settled in bed that I was once the person responsible for someone else's impossible situation.

I was in high school. A junior, maybe? I had a family whom I babysat for frequently. The mom and dad were going through a divorce, so sometimes I was the only person the newly-single mom could count on to get a few hours to herself. I had empathy for her situation but nowhere near an understanding of how hard parenting can be.

She had called at the last minute to see if I could watch her toddler the next day. I said I could, but didn't pencil it in my calendar right away--I was doing several things at once and simply forgot.

The next day came and I stayed later than usual at my summer job. I took my time coming home. When I finally arrived, my mom gave me the message that Mrs. So & So called. I froze. I was always so responsible. I had been babysitting for many years and for many families. I had NEVER forgotten an appointment.

Did she have to bring her son with her to her appointment? Was she able to find someone else to fill in? Did she feel as frustrated as I had tonight: at myself, my kids, my situation?

I didn't call her back. And she never called me again. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I never saw her or her son again, as I returned to high school a few weeks later and then left for college the following summer.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself tonight, I'm feeling shame and embarrassment of having caused someone else the same frustration.

It's times like this that I'm thankful for God's grace and  forgiveness. I am weak and flawed. I am selfish and willful. I am stubborn and conceited. God knows. But He created me, and He is always working on me. Perhaps tonight's events were to help me understand how I'd hurt Mrs. So & So many years ago. I'd say it's a lesson learned. Better late than never.