Wednesday, July 11, 2012

another day, another Catholic celebrity

Today the family drove over to a Benedictine Monastery for the solemn profession of vows of a very dear friend, Fr. Jean-Luc. While he was yet a diocesan priest in 2007, he baptized newborn Maria - and shortly after entering the Benedictine Novitiate, he was godfather to newborn Bernadette in 2009. He's very special to us and so Rich and I were excited that we returned from New Zealand in time to witness this incredible occasion in his life. After the (LONG - but very beautiful) ceremony, there was a luncheon. Our children were so thrilled to have a few more hours of sitting quietly in a formal setting after the hours spent in church that morning - but at least this time there were cheese, crackers, pasta, roast beef and chocolate cake. Oh, and A.C. - let me not forget the blessed A.C.! (Air con, Kiwis, air con - we're talking temps in the low 30s and a jam-packed church building just baking away in the summer sunshine). 

in the back of the church after the Mass

Seated at the table directly adjacent to ours was a beautiful family of eleven, with nine children ranging in age from maybe six months through sixteen years (my guesswork). The two eldest boys actually did not fit around the table with their family and the poor guys got stuck sitting with us. Meanwhile Joseph liked the looks of their two youngest sisters so much that he spent much of the luncheon unsteadily tottering over to visit the other table. Because of the chaos associated with feeding, quieting and keeping track of the twelve children between us (and the cups they shattered and the spills they created) we parents smiled and spoke a few words, but did not get much beyond that. On the drive home, Fr Jean-Luc called to thank us for coming and mentioned that the family of eleven was none other than that of a very prominent Catholic author and publisher whose work Rich has long admired. We were stunned. Richard joked to me that if he had known, he would have tried to get my book publishing deal brokered on the spot so that he could quit his job search. But even more amazing was that during the luncheon, a different, but even more famous and prominent Catholic author and speaker (from Down Under, by the way!) called Rich on our cell phone. Richard had interned for this man over eleven years ago and has not kept in touch since, but they caught up for a few minutes today by this man's own initiative.

None of this has anything directly to do with our prayers for employment. But in one week's time, the Lord has brought no less than THREE very powerful Catholics shoulder-to-shoulder with us (a Bishop and two renowned authors) - which we are choosing to interpret as His reassuring sign that His own power and influence are just as near - and nearer. I feel like He is just showing us the many friends He has in high places and the many ways He can work to bring people together without any anxiety or effort on our lowly part. 

I was laughing the other night as I scanned the week's readings and saw Jesus' instructions, "The harvest is abundant, but the laborers few, so pray the Master of the harvest to send laborers for the harvest." I feel like Rich is jumping up and down with his hand in the air shouting, "Pick me, Lord! Pick me! Send me to the harvest!! Pick me!"  And He seems to be reassuring us this week that He does have a corner of the vineyard all picked out for Rich, but that there is still a season of waiting (and growing in trust) for us to complete before the harvest season of work is fully upon us. So - we continue our efforts ("efforts" of grace alone) in that endeavor. 

Incidentally, it's not all R&R anymore either - Rich is beginning two part-time jobs this week so that we will have this little luxurious thing called "income"- but this is still a time of relative calm before all the drama of moving and shouldering heavier responsibilities. We are very grateful for these two jobs! Thank you to any and all who joined us in praying for some work for Richard as we wait on The Call.

Last night was Joseph's first night ever in a big old American crib!
He'd been sleeping in a pack 'n play since we returned. 
Translation for Kiwis:
Kia Ora! Last night (which was the middle of the day for you, of course) 
was the first time EVA that Joseph has slept in an American cot. 
American cots are nearly twice as big as Kiwi cots, 
even though strangely, American porta-cots are 
barely half the size of Kiwi ones. 
Sweet as! She'll be right. Cuzzie. Kia Kaha. All sorted. Mean!
(oh yeah, we've still got it!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

in the confessional

Today Rich headed out to Confession. He wanted to go to Confession at our own parish earlier that day, but I had been invited out to a beautiful luncheon and had left him with no car, three kids and the shoe-leather-express option - in 100 degree weather. So he decided to wait until this afternoon and drive to another parish for Penance. But when he set out, he passed a different, closer parish and realized that they had Reconciliation taking place at that very moment so he turned into their parking lot instead.

He made his Confession to a priest he had never seen before, spilling the beans on all his least gorgeous behavior from the past two weeks. He also needed a bit of counsel about how to live this job-less limbo that has been getting him a little down in the dumps, so he gave a nutshell version of the past two months or so. The priest asked for a few more details - and said something like, "I know a Bishop who is looking to fill a job in his Diocese" Rich told him a little more about his experience and what kind of work he is looking for. But - it turns out that what this priest actually said was "I am a Bishop who is looking to fill a job in my Diocese," which of course, makes all the difference in the world!

Rich came home looking like he had seen a ghost - the Holy Ghost, to be precise. Neither of us has the faintest clue if any of this will actually pan out into "Our Future" - but the most important detail is that the Lord has once again flexed His mighty muscles in our presence and completely reassured us that He is perfectly capable of providing for our most urgent need  -  out of thin air  - at any moment of His choosing  (and without any help from us, thank you very much). Seriously. Not only was no resume or application sent to this prospective employer, BUT rather than showcasing all his best qualities to the "interviewer" he confessed all his worst ones! Only the Lord works in this way, upside down from the way the world works. Or rather, right side high are His ways above our ways.

(And the second most important lesson from this is that Confession is awesome! RUN to your nearest Confessional! Who knows what the Lord has in store for you there!

Friday, July 6, 2012

in the waiting room

The Divine Physician is running late - again.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

The point is that Rich and I are still waiting and we are feeling a little....antsy. We are still at peace and hopeful and all the rest (blah, blah, blah) but we're just restless. Rich has applied for openings at some really exciting jobs in some really exciting places - from Oregon to Maine, from Texas to Missouri, from Florida to Kansas (Kiwis - looking these places up on a map could keep you busy for while! Americans, maybe you too! [Or should I be ashamed to admit that it did for me????])  Rich is very excited about the prospect of possibly moving to places with New-Zealand-like climates (or warmer!) and New-Zealand-like beach access. I, on the other hand, will die if I don't see snow this winter. And I have successfully brain-washed Maria into believing the same. I know snow means nothing to my husband, but I'm astonished that he has failed to grasp this simple truth by which I choose to live: the hotter the weather, the bigger the bugs. It does not seem to fill him with an ecstasy of relief that the biggest insects in our house right now are the teensiest little ants you ever did see. After living with enormous cockroaches for two years, I don't even squish these adorable little ants. I just smile at them kindly and wish them well in their quest for crumbs and point them gently in the direction of the highchair.

I don't know how to articulate that it is possible to feel truly peaceful and at the same time restless, except to say that we are not so much worried about our future as we are eager to get cracking. I think poor Richard has had his fill of domestic life - and "domestic life" is ready to put down an anchor and settle into some serious routines. Floating and drifting was fun for a while, but we both feel a little directionless now. We're eager to know what it is that the Lord has planned here. We're quite sure that He has a plan, but we're begging for a little teensy tiny hint. I sort of knew before we left New Zealand that the Lord was going to leave us guessing until the Very Last Minute (because that was His preferred pattern over the entire mission period). I must have said it a million times. But I thought that the Very Last Minute was going to occur somewhere around the third of June. It's more than a month past my definition of "The Very Last Minute", so I can only presume that He is stretching my understanding of the concept of "Last Minute" - in addition to some other bits that needed to be stretched.

Nothing is wasted with God. He is always extravagant but never wasteful. Therefore, this extended period of rest and uncertainty has a purpose. Many purposes, I presume. So the mission in which we're currently immersed is trying to figure out what He's teaching us here - and to be good pupils. I think until this week I had been looking at this season as a such a fleeting and transitory one that it could just be lived any old way. This week it's starting to dawn on me that there is no such thing as a snippet of time (no matter how short) that ought to be lived just any old way. Each day is a gift, and each day needs to be lived as a gift and given back to the Giver.  

If I could possibly set aside my impatience to feel some sort of "stability and security" take hold, the gift of these days would not be so lost on me. I am happy. I mean seriously joyful - all day long, just filled with deep and satisfying J-O-Y over very small things. Having so much more time with Rich has been so awesome for us as a married couple. Having so much more time in general has been awesome for me as a mother. I feel like a calmer, more attentive and more intentional parent than I have for two years, and I'm enjoying the littlest things about my children more. For example, every day after Mass this week, Bernadette has asked me to drive past Fr. Friedhelm's house. She never requested this favor the whole time we lived in New Zealand. Now she asks every day. It's driving Maria insane as she repeatedly explains that Fr. Friedhelm does not live in Pennsylvania. Bernadette is unconvinced, even by Maria's most exasperated, animated, frustrated tirades about airplanes and international moves. This conversation replays every morning during the 3 minute drive home, and it cracks me up every time. I don;t even participate, I just listen. I actually think Bernadette knows that Fr. Friedhelm is in New Zealand - I think she is just enjoying her ability to calmly drive Maria so berserk. And each night, Joseph wakes up from a sound sleep somewhere between the hours of 11pm and 2am and he happily begins singing ALLELUIA!!!! as loudly and as joyfully as he possibly can - for about a half hour. If he goes on too long, Rich and I just push his crib out of our bedroom and into the kitchen, but I'm laughing the whole way. And then there are the sounds of the (American) birds singing loudly first thing upon waking and the sounds of the (American) bugs singing loudly as the last thing I hear before sleeping. It's all the little things that I'm enjoying so much. And when bugs make you this happy, you know you're in pretty good mental space.