Thursday, March 29, 2012


Back when my husband and I were knee-deep in books about theology--and cautiously contemplating an eventual conversion to the Catholic Faith--I distinctly remember telling him that I would never be able to go to Confession. 

The idea of slipping into a tiny, dark room and divulging all of my worst sins to a priest?  Um...yeah.  NOT appealing to me--in the least.  For one thing, I didn't like the idea of someone besides God Himself giving me Absolution (former Evangelical that I was), but even more than that, it just plain sounded scary.

Of course over time, it became hard to argue with Biblical passages like John 20:21-23.  And I couldn't deny that this practice had been handed down by the early Church itself.  So I eventually had to put on my big-girl pants and get over it.

And you know what?  The grace I've received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been, by far, the greatest, most pleasant surprise of the Catholic faith.

I actually knelt in the Confessional booth one recent Sunday afternoon, and a dear visiting priest spoke wisdom into my life that has slowly, subtly, gently begun to seep into my heart. I had confessed (among other things) my propensity to become frustrated with my children. Frankly, one of my biggest struggles as a mom to seven little ones. And the priest replied back that being firm, raising your voice, acting angry, are part of the job description sometimes. (Whew!)  But that I should attempt to do so without actually being angry, and that this will help prevent me from becoming a truly angry person.

I'll be honest and say I walked away thinking that's a whole lot easier said than done. I've prayed regularly for patience over the years, afterall. I certainly don't like that I'm easily annoyed by my gaggle of children, but come on, how do I reach the point where I'm able to disengage enough to pretend to be angry when I'm not?  I'd hit a plateau in this area and I felt stuck.

But there's a reason God gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There's a reason we go and confess our sins and receive Absolution. And that reason is this: Sacraments are real. We receive real graces through them because, well, this is how Jesus established His Church and how God designed things to work. Even if we can't understand.  We need to seek forgiveness from and reconciliation with our Lord, and one another, and Jesus decided to give His Church an important role in that.

And since that day in the confessional a few weeks ago, I kid you not, God has given me an immense measure of extra strength to love my kids. To be patient. To start each day with a new slate. God is working miracles in my heart through His Sacraments, and I am all kinds of amazed and shocked by that.

Believe me when I say that I am not someone who lives life and makes decisions based on personal experience or emotion--instead, I typically embrace things intellectually before I can "feel" them in my heart.  So it is always kind of amazing when my experience starts to mirror the very thing to which I have intellectually assented.  I was able to get on board with the idea of Confession from a mental standpoint before joining the Church, but to have now experienced the amazing love and mercy of Jesus--and receive His divine help--through this Sacrament is, well, kind of astounding.  And most definitely confirming.

Someone recently wrote that converts serve as a reminder that the Church is something worth choosing.  And it's true--I was not baptized into the Catholic Faith as an infant.  I did not grow up reciting the beautiful Hail Mary, nor did I ever have a crucifix on my wall or a rosary in my pocket.  Rather, I accidentally stumbled upon the Church when I was in my late twenties. 

In simply seeking to understand why the Catholic Church prohibited the widespread and (nearly) universally accepted practice of contraception, I found mercy, charity, and hope.

In merely attempting to satisfy my curiousity about a particular group's view on marriage, I found a Pandora's Box of truth.

Belief in the centuries-old historic doctrines and dogmas did not come immediately, or easily, and would ultimately lead to my having to make a choice

And I have not looked back once.  Because at each and every turn, God has confirmed to me that the Catholic Church is absolutely worth choosing.

Even in the blessed and  mysterious Confessional box I'd once dreaded, but am now learning to love.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Doing it well

Just about every time we leave the house now to run an errand or pick up groceries, I think about our image.

Not in a shallow, air-brushed-Kardashian sort of way.  But when your family looks like mine, people are watching.  And asking questions.  Even if you're not a fancy celebrity with your own semi-reality TV show.

I'm really trying to embrace the fact that we more or less live in a goldfish bowl, and so I've actually given some thought recently to the image I want to portray.  And this is what I came up with:

{a wife and mother of a life-filled family, attempting to live out her Catholic faith, and thriving while doing so.}

Perhaps that sounds overly ambitious.  It probably is. 

But I actually had a bit of an epiphany at Costco the other day, so hear me out on this one.

Had you been there at the store, you would have seen: me pushing one cart overflowing with kids and food, my son pushing the other cart filled to the brim with diapers (and a laminator--be still my homeschooling heart), and my daughter pushing a kid in a stroller.  The two remaining children walked alongside.

We were quite a sight.

And garnered several comments.

One came from a woman, probably in her early sixties, who approached me from a distance.

"I just love this.  It is so, so good to see a happy mama with happy, well-behaved children.  Your family is precious.  Thank you."

Wow.  I didn't know what to say.

Humbled, encouraged, and convicted, all at once.

Because how often have I brusquely marched my kids through the store, so obviously NOT projecting the image of a happy mom?  How often have I forgotten that people are watching me, constantly, when I'm out in public with my crew?

Pretty often.

And that afternoon at Costco demonstrated that it's ever-so-important for our society to see regular-looking-women-with-multiple-children, out and about, shopping at the store.  In our time of HHS mandates and anti-family bias, we are making it abundantly clear what we stand for when we leave our home.  Without even saying a word.

I know, I know--what does it even mean to be a representation of a thriving wife and a mother, living her vocation well?  It certainly doesn't mean convincing unsuspecting strangers that I'm perfect.  (I'm not.)  It doesn't mean pretending that our life is filled with unicorns and rainbows every day.  (It's not.)  It doesn't mean I don't vent to my closest girlfriends about goofy things my kids did (I do), or that I dish up a five-course meal every night (I don't.)

But it DOES mean, for me, that I make a valiant attempt to get dressed and do my hair and makeup before I take my kids to the store.  It means I try to smile and laugh and even enjoy winding my way through the aisles at a snail's pace--because my 7-year-old is proudly and carefully pushing a cart over which he can't even see.  It means making the effort to reflect on positive things my dear children have done, the things I love about them, and keeping a short list of faults.

Because whether I like it or not, my values are sticking out like a sore but hopefully semi-beautiful thumb.  Ev.ery.where.we.go. 

So I long for my very life to reflect the truth that living out God's design for married women is ultimately liberating, soul-nourishing, and natural--not automatically oppressive or miserable.  And it's totally (read: especially) possible to have a wonderful, happy marriage while being fruitful and generous and raising children.

Who would have thought that the day would come when simply giving birth and raising little ones would be so counter-cultural?

But, it is.  I know it is, because I hear comments every time we leave the house about our family and life-choices, which just plain make very little sense in today's social climate.

So even though I'm a total failing-all-too-often work in progress, I want to do my very best to publicly and graciously live out what I believe.  And hopefully, maybe eventually, my life will become one in which true womanhood is exemplified--where I am doing this thing well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Malcolm Monday

I'm teaming up with some fabulous ladies today to help spread the word about a precious boy in need of a family.

Meet Carla.

Meet Jen.

Meet Leila.

And now, meet Malcolm.

Here he is again.  So, so precious, this boy.

There are a few things I'm passionate about in this life.  Okay, maybe more than a few.  But anyway, the adoption of children with medical needs is one of them.

This is a cause near and dear to my heart because, friends, I have four adopted children.  Including two daughters born with Down syndrome and who, as a result, were also born with severe heart defects. 

So I have seen first-hand the vulnerability and lack of opportunity for a child with medical needs and developmental delays living in an orphanage--even in a good orphanage.  Both of my little girls have come SO FAR since coming home six months ago.  They are thriving.

Now please hear me when I say that the orphan crisis (both internationally and domestically) is an incredibly nuanced thing.  Not all orphans will be adopted, many of them are not legally clear for adoption, and most children classified as orphans around the world have at least one living birth parent. 

Messy, right?

Well, yes.  But.

There are many, many children languishing in orphanages and legitimately waiting for a family.  These children will not be reunified with a birth parent, and these are not the children fetching high premiums for an agency or facilitator.  These are the kids who've been deemed by society (and oftentimes biological family) as unfit and/or less deserving of life.  They may have been born with a genetic condition or cerebral palsy or perhaps they contracted HIV from their birth mother.  Either way, they sit for years in an institution where, quite frankly, even the most resilient child will be kept from realizing his or her potential and basic human dignity. 

So, today I'm using my blog to speak up for these children and to tell you about one in particular, Malcolm, who needs him a family. 

Because if no one comes forward for him?  He'll be transferred to a mental institution.  Next month.  Where he will surely not survive. 

If you are interested in giving a little (or a lot) towards Malcolm's future and playing a role in this sweet boy's story, please consider making a donation to his adoption fund at Reece's Rainbow. 

Children with fully-funded adoptions inevitably find a family. 

And if you are interested in the adoption of a waiting child (possibly even Malcolm), please don't hesitate to contact someone (email me if you'd like) with your questions or ask an agency for information.  Sometimes the first step is the hardest, but really, it never hurts to gather information and become more informed.  You can read about my own discernment process here.

So let's do this.  Together, let's get Malcolm's adoption funded and bring hope to this precious boy created by a loving God.  A God who is, mercifully, all about the business of redemption.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Deciding to adopt

Something I'm regularly asked as an adoptive parent is,

"How did you decide to adopt?"

Some people are just curious, and others can't fathom why a couple with three biological children would choose to raise and love a child (or four) not born to them.

The fact is of course that most of us have mulitple reasons for embarking on such a journey--and it's not as simple as an in-the-middle-of-the-produce-aisle-of-the-grocery-store answer might afford.  Especially when your two-year-old is attempting to sneakily put assorted bags of candy into your cart while pulling your four-year-old's hair.

Ultimately, making the decision to adopt is a multi-step discernment process, and one that usually involves a lot of back-and-forth and thinking through scenarios and ruling out others.  So I thought I'd share a little bit here about how the process played out for us, and maybe this way I can just refer people to my blog when my kids start going crazy in the store.  :)

1.)  It's not either/or.  When my husband and I first decided to adopt several years ago, we were not doing so in lieu of having another eventual biological child.  We remained open to life throughout the process, and I did in fact get pregnant four short months after my sons came home.  And there was much rejoicing.  (Have you met Kaitlyn?)  So yes, you can be open to more future biological children and also pursue an adoption, and you don't have to have your entire family planned out to begin the paperwork.

2.)  It doesn't have to be a lifelong dream.  People often wonder if we always knew we wanted to adopt.  And the answer is no, we did not.  In fact, I'd never remotely considered adoption until I was standing in the shower one day.  (I do some of  my best thinking in the shower.  Don't judge.)  And the idea of international adoption literally popped into my head.  I know it was a God thing, because there was no logical reason for it.  And so after my shower I got dressed and made a beeline for the the computer, where I began reasearching the global orphan crisis.  And I was appalled by the vast number of adoptable orphans in need of a family.  I thought about my little girl napping down the hall and how she got to go to sleep with a full tummy and a mommy and daddy who loved her, while many children didn't.  I looked at profiles of waiting children with medical needs and knew that at 23 years old I was wrecked--in a really good way.

3.)  It doesn't have to be his/her idea too.  Eventually you and your spouse will need to be on the same page about adoption for it to work.  But initially, most likely, it will be just one of you who comes up with the seemingly wild idea.  And that's okay.  I am a firm believer in the idea that God works in marriages through our personal, sometimes initially-individual convictions.  He won't necessarily give both of you the same passion and desire at first.  If you feel a call to adopt, and he/she doesn't, you can respectfully share your heart and thoughts and see what happens.  But do your research first.  Have some figures in mind when, inevitably, they ask how much it costs.  Get a handle on the general process.  Most of all be loving and patient, because this is most likely all brand-new for them.  I was really nervous going to Kevin with my convictions and thoughts, mostly because I felt so strongly that we should do this and what if he said no?  But he didn't.  He heard me out that afternoon, saw that this was something I cared deeply about, and God led him--not too long after--to the same convictions.

4.)  It doesn't have to be all mapped out.  International adoption means rolling with the punches.  Be flexible and know that if God wants you to become the family of a child in need, it will happen, and it's okay if you enter the process unsure of how it will turn out.  We began our last adoption with the intention of adopting two waiting children who'd been born with HIV.  But some horrible things (that were out of our control) happened in-country, rendering that impossible, which meant we were stuck finalizing a homestudy when we had no clue who we were adopting or what we were going to do.  We reached the place where we had to simply hold our hands open and tell God that we would finish up our homestudy and trust that He needed our family for children we didn't yet know about.  And it turns out He did.  So while it's good to have a general idea of what you're going to do, remember that things don't always go the way you imagine and, well, that's okay.

5.)  It's not everyone's dream.  This one was embarrassingly hard for me to learn.  When you feel so strongly about something, it's really hard not to question why everyone else isn't doing it.  Especially when it's a good thing to do.  But the fact remains that most of your family and friends won't go on to follow in your footsteps and adopt a child.  Often, people will question your sanity or even tell you that you're making a huge mistake.  And the best thing you can do is simply live the story God's given you, and live it well, and be grateful that He chose you for it.

6.)   It's okay to be afraid.  When we were in the process of bringing our sons home several years ago, I was beyond excited  Really.  Yes I read all the attachment books and I knew that a challenging placement might certainly be in my future, but nothing could dampen my spirits.  We were adopting, and I was thrilled.  This second time around though--and I'm going to be painfully honest here--I regularly struggled with doubts.  And fear.  How would my family change?  What if things went really badly?  How would my other children adjust?  What were we doing?  I just didn't have that strong sense of purpose and optimism that I'd had before--even though I couldn't deny that God had brought us to this point.  But you know what?  Things with my daughters have gone amazingly well.  And even if they hadn't, fear during the process is okay and doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't be adopting.  Sometimes God will hold your hand and smooth out all the bumps, and sometimes He'll pull back a little and force you to walk by faith. 

7.)  It's not about who you are.  While any discernment process will (and ought to) include taking a good, long look at whether or not you are suited for the task, it's important to remember that when it comes to adoption, there's really not a one-size-fits-all standard.  I was only 23 (about to turn 24) when we began the paperchase to bring our boys home, and I know plenty of people who've adopted in their 40s.  Adoption seems most prevalent in Evangelical Protestant circles, but I can assure you there's nothing that makes it incompatible with any particular worldview.  (On a personal note, I'd love to see adoption become more common among my fellow Catholics.  We talk a lot about openness to life and generous parenting, and oh my goodness, adoption is such a beautiful picture of both of those things.)  Just know that no matter who you are, whether you already have five children or two, it's possible that God is calling you to adopt.  Don't rule yourself out because you don't identify with this or that adoptive family that you know--good families come in all shapes and sizes.

8.)  It's about redemption (and redemption isn't easy).  One of the most important considerations in deciding whether to adopt is, am I open to bringing trauma and brokenness into my family and home?  I don't mean to sound negative, but the truth is that while adoption is GOOD, relinquishment/abandonment/death is TRAGIC.  All four of my adopted children suffered major loss before coming into my family.  There are holes there that I will never be able to fill--only God can bind up those wounds and work all for the good.  And in the practical day-to-day, I have personally found that even though all of my children attached well, we have faced various hurdles along the way.  Small ones to be SURE, but hurdles just the same.  Both of my sons have had some learning delays, one of them has ADHD, and my daughters have experienced some grief and things over the past several months.  We have had difficult conversations in our home over the years about birthmothers, and my children knew words like "poverty" and "HIV" from an extremely early age.  Many families experience behavioral issues related to past trauma.  So, yeah, don't expect that your child will come home ever-so-grateful to be at your house and wanting to please at every turn.  They have experienced more pain in their short life than you or I probably ever will, and that is going to manifest itself.  It's part of your family landscape now.

9.)  It's not all about the money (but it's expensive.)  One of the number one reasons people give for not being able to adopt is finances.  And it's true: international adoption is expensive.  But.  Do some research on the Federal Adoption Tax Credit.  Think about whether you have a Home Equity Line of Credit (or can open one.)  See how much each fee is and when it is due, because you don't pay all at once, and things always seem more manageable in small chunks.  Look into grants and loans that are available for adoptive families.  Think about places you can save a bit or about some sacrifices you can make.  The truth is that most people who complete an adoption are NOT wealthy by US standards, and most of us did NOT have $25,000 just sitting around in the bank at the front-end of the process.

10.)  It's all about meeting needs and waiting children.  I saved this one for last because it's my own personal soapbox (and not always very popular).  And it's ultimately the most important thing I'm going to say here.  Are you ready?  Here it is: if you feel the call to adopt, find out where the needs are...and go meet those needs.  Even if you grew up just KNOWING that you were going to adopt a two-month-old baby girl with brown hair from Scotland, if there are dozens and dozens of names on a waiting list to do so, go someplace else where the CHILDREN are the ones waiting.  Because international adoption should never be about supplying Americans with a demand for healthy babies.  Ever.  This can lead to in-country child-trafficking and baby-buying by unethical agencies and causes a whole host of other problems.  And believe me, from a global perspective, there are many, MANY children waiting for homes.  A lot of them are older.  A lot of them have medical needs.  And if we truly want to cultivate a heart for the orphan, we must recognize where the needs are.  Be aware too that things regularly change in any given country--sometimes, by the time we're ready to adopt, we have to change course and reevaluate what we're going to do.  Figure out what your non-negotiables are (age?  health?) and then find a situation where children in that category are currently waiting.  Maybe it's Ukraine or Ethiopia, maybe it will be domestic foster care, maybe you'll decide now is simply not the time.  But try to always remember that in addition to adding to your family in a pretty amazing way, adoption is about becoming a family to a child who needs one. 

Friday, March 16, 2012


Mekdes sleeping sweetly at her brothers' soccer game

And so it begins.

My daughter Mekdes, on the playground, waiting for big siblings to be done with their weekly homeschool coop.

Running, climbing, sliding down the slide, giggling with her younger sister Mary.

But then a bigger (though probably not older) girl, who we don't know, shoves her down.

I assumed it was an accident.  It happens.

But after two more times I realize it's deliberate.

My precious girl, bullied by someone who was just plain in the mood to be mean.  I'm sure she's normally a nice enough kid, but I'm also sure that it's easy to bully someone who doesn't speak your language, whose skin is darker than yours, and who struggles to keep her balance. 

Everything in me wanted to go yell at that girl--and tell her all about the life Mekdes has lived: how she was born with a heart that doesn't work (and had to have risky open heart surgery), how her birth mother relinquished her and how she lived in an orphanage for two years, how she has an extra chromosome that translates into her taking longer to do things...and how brave she is in spite of it all.

But I didn't.  Immediately after pushing Mekdes down, the girl left with her mom.  So I sat and watched my daughter stand back up, dust herself off (again), and return to the slide--where her little wispy blonde-haired, blue-eyed sister was waiting for her.

As infuriating as the whole thing was for this mama bear, it was also a good reminder of why children need parents.  When we were in the discernment process of this adoption, discussing whether we would be a good fit for two sweeties with Down syndrome, something we kept coming back to was that our crazy, noisy, huge, crazy (yes I said crazy twice) family might actually be a really safe place for a child with an extra chromosome.  Yes, it seemed daunting.  But.  Instant friends, strong community, lots of little buddies to hang out with and learn from and nurture too.  People looking out for you and accepting you just as you are.  People who see you for who God made you to be.  People who just plain love you, and who think that goofy face you make when you're having a tic is the cutest thing ever.

I truly believe God knew what He was doing when He dreamed up the whole "family" thing.  Because there is something that siblings bring to the table that, as hard as I might try as a mama, I just plain can't.  Security, comfort, and love unique to the bonds that brothers and sisters share.  Yes, my house more closely resembles a scene from Lord of the Flies than a Hallmark commercial, but by golly, you better believe my kids love and look out for each other. 

Seeing my daughter bullied today made me angry, and sadly I know it won't be the last time.  But you know what?  It reinforced my view that family is where it's at, and my family is committed to being a safe place for each one of my children--especially my two little ones with Down syndrome.  They will always have a full table at their birthday parties, and will always have six friends-for-life.  No matter what.

I can't control what other people do, and I can't make life easy for my Mekdes.  But I can love her, and along with my family, make her feel safe. 

What a gift, this opportunity for us.  May I always see it as such.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On purpose

Tigist attempting to climb out of her highchair, and Mary clapping for her. 

When my daughter Tigist first came home in September, she couldn't do much.

She had a strong trunk, but at two years old, her poor arms and legs were oh so floppy.  Not to mention she couldn't drink from any sort of cup without losing a good 40% of the liquid out of her mouth, she was unable to suck, and could not eat any sort of food texture beyond mush.  And she was unable to take bites.  Of anything.  No matter what you gave her to eat, you could be sure that she'd just grab it with the palm of her hand and shove it all into her mouth.

It's difficult to know what is the result of Down syndrome, and what is merely a consequence of living in an orphanage for nearly two years.  Most stuff is probably a little bit of both.

Slowly but surely though, our girl has been making progress.  She learned how to drink from a sippy cup within the first two weeks of coming home, she takes bites now, she's cruising while holding onto furniture(!), and she can crawl all.the.way.up.the.stairs.

Needless to say I am so, so proud of my little girl.  She's living proof of the redemption of God.  A profound example of beating the odds and surviving and just plain refusing to give up. 

And even though life has been speeding along at an insane pace since bringing our daughters home in September (funny how going from five to seven kids, with three heart surgeries for two of them, will make you feel that way) I am acutely aware that our lives are just as they should be.  Most of the time, anyway.

I recently read the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, and my main takeaway was how she spoke about God choosing who He wills.  In other words, He doesn't necessarily pick superheroes or really patient people or even the most experienced to do His work.  No, He has His own purposes and lovingly and deliberately selects individuals for reasons often unknown to us.  And I found great encouragement in St. Therese's profound words because on more than one occasion over the last several months, I have actually questioned God's wisdom while wondering how on earth we wound up here.  Deep down I have no regrets, but there are days when I just sigh and think that surely someone else would be a better fit for, well, my life.

But when I start thinking that way, I also get this nagging feeling that something is wrong with how I'm looking at things, and it's time to regroup and adjust the murky lense through which I see the world.  And St. Therese's perspective completely floored me because it speaks to the idea that God chose me for this.  He chose me to raise my four adopted children, including two little girls who were born with Down syndrome and heart defects.  It might make more sense on paper for them to have gone to a smaller family, or a family already caring for a child with Down syndrome, but God picked us for some reason.  And that's a big deal.

So take heart when you feel as if God is asking you to do the impossible, because He doesn't make mistakes.  He picked you for a reason, on purpose, to do something for Him.  It might seem big or it might seem small and unimportant, but it just plain matters because it's God's work.  And, I kind of love that. 

And if you ever get the chance to read anything by St. Therese of Lisieux, I highly encourage you to do so.  You won't regret it!


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Big bloggy day

Reluctant-to-get-out-bed, stumbling towards the coffee maker, weaving in and out of the various small people I share my house with.  Yesterday was a morning like any other.

Except that it also included an email from a new friend, who just happens to run the New Advent website.  And it turns out that this new friend linked to my blog(!), and so I got a whole bunch of people reading my silly little post about Sunday's Rite of Election.

I want to welcome those of you who are new readers here.  I'm humbled and honored that you found your way to my happy little corner of the blogosphere.

By way of introduction:

I'm a Catholic, a wife, and I have me some kids.  Seven, in fact--and no that's not a typo.  :)

Four of my children are adopted from Ethiopia.

Two of my children just came home in September, and were born with Down syndrome.

I spend my days homeschooling and managing chaos.

And my blog is a mishmash of life, reflections, and other assorted randomness. 

Just Showing Up ultimately began as a no-bells-or-whistles documentation of our first adoption journey back in 2005 (I know, sounds fascinating), but somewhere along the way I (re)discovered my love of writing...and concluded that I want to tell my story.  No, my daily life isn't particularly interesting.  It's definitely not glamorous.  And I'm not doing anything other mamas aren't doing ten times better.  But, it's the story God's given me, and I want to steward it well.

Plus, at the end of the day, I just plain like blogging.  There are things I'm passionate about (medical needs adoption, motherhood, faith, dignity of human life) and I love exploring them in this context.  I enjoy connecting with all of you and maybe, just maybe, I'll say something at some point that someone out there finds helpful.  (Or will at least make someone laugh.  I like to make people laugh.) 

Afterall, I've been married for nearly ten years, I'm raising a slew of kids (all ages 8 and under), two of them have Down syndrome, and two of them have been through heart surgery.  In October my husband and I (previously lifelong Protestants) joined the Catholic Church.  We homeschool.  If that doesn't all somehow qualify me as a candidate for being certifiably insane, I don't know what does.  And while I'm not an expert on anything (except for procrastination), I can share my heart and tell you what I have seen and learned and experienced.  And you can tell me, because you have a story too.  We may not be able to sit down for a cup of coffee, but we can connect here, in this space.

Because for me, whether it was adoption or Catholicism or mothering-many-small-children, I found great inspiration in the writings of others in the trenches.  In fact, I still love reading my favorite blogs.  It's good to know we're not alone in our joys and sorrows and general craziness, and sometimes discovering that someone else knows how we feel is just what we need.

So thanks for coming by.  I do hope you'll stick around, if for no other reason than the fact that there is great potential for my blog to be a bit like a traffic accident--where it's painful to look yet you can't look away.  :)  In any case, I'm glad you're here!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rite of Election

Isn't this church beautiful?  I took this photo on Sunday afternoon when I had the joy of attending the Rite of Election at the cathedral in downtown Denver. 

And what is the Rite of Election, you ask?  Well, people joining the Catholic Church do so at Easter Vigil, after several months of classes and preparation.  And each year during Lent the Archbishop holds an event at the cathedral where those joining the Church are formally recognized, and go forward to shake his hand. 

We of course are already Catholic, and so primarily attended the Rite of Election to support the people in our parish who are about to enter the Church.  (And I'm actually the sponsor of a dear friend who is becoming Catholic.  Which makes me so, so happy.)

Sunday was my first time visiting the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  And it was beautiful.  Stained glass, white marble, lovely statues.

But as stunning as the Cathedral was, the best part of the afternoon was seeing person after person after person have their name called and go forward.  Many of these people are new to the Christian faith in general.  Others were previously baptized in another tradition, and are about to become Catholic.  All of that to say, there were so.many.converts.  And the people we saw on Sunday only comprised 25% of our own diocese.  (They hold four ceremonies in Denver in order to accomodate everyone.)  Imagine how many dear souls are joining the Church worldwide this Easter?!

I would love to have known each person's story, each unique journey into Christ's Church.  Because no doubt they are all amazing.  And I know from my own story that it is oh-so-sweet to finally come "home". 

It still kind of astounds me that for thirty whole years, I was on the outside.  For three long decades I lived out my faith the best I knew how, virtually unaware that Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist and that He established His Church for you and for me.  Because in spite of being a devoted, lifelong Christian, I never ONCE gave the Catholic faith any serious thought.  Nor did I ever wonder what exactly as a Protestant I was protesting!

As I look back I can now see that my faith more or less existed in a historical vacuum--while it was real and vibrant and genuine and yes, legitimate, it was not anchored in any sort of context (save for my own personal interpretation of the Bible, which would naturally change based on what Christian book I was currently into).  And even in spite of reading through the New Testament various times, I missed a bunch of stuff.  Like the verse that refers to the Church as "the pillar and foundation of the truth".  Or the passage where Jesus gives authority to Peter and the other apostles to do stuff like forgive sins. 

I missed all of those things as a Bible-believing Christian because, quite frankly, they did not fit with the Protestant narrative.

But God is all kinds of awesome.  And He wasn't content leaving me where I was at.  And as a result, I now receive Jesus in the Eucharist each and every Sunday. 

And it's funny because I never would have imagined that I'd eventually find myself downtown at the Cathedral on a sunny March afternoon with my husband and one of my best friends, witnessing hundreds of men, women and children coming into Christ's Church.  A visible, tangible reminder that Jesus (and His mother Mary too!) is beckoning each and every one of us to join His family, no matter where we've been or what we've done or who we are.  

My heart is so very encouraged this week, and I hope yours is too.  Because God is working in our world, as He has always done, and hearts are being drawn to Him and to His Church.  Entire lives are being reborn, and I was privileged to have a small but glorious glimpse of that this past Sunday.  What an amazing gift.

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