When Your Children Inherit Your Struggles

Tuesday, January 15, 2019




I would wager that the majority of parents have something about themselves they would rather avoid passing down to their kids. Maybe it's a short temper, a struggle with reading, or anxiety.
Mine came unexpectedly because it had never occurred to me it was something that could be passed down.

I have always been on the flexible side, but I chalked it up to having been involved in dance since the age of four. Dancers are just flexible people, right?
But I'm not just your run-of-the-mill flexible. My greatest pregnancy struggle is not nausea or food issues - it's arms and legs that fall out of socket from such basic tasks as lifting a grocery bag or sitting oddly.

In high school I was obnoxiously proud of what I could do. Making pretty stage pictures comes easily when your legs and arms are so hyper-extended. I assumed when I came back to dance after my second child was born that I would have to spend a lot of time getting flexibility back.
Strength needed some work, yes, but flexibility? Apparently those were factory settings.

It never dawned on me that they might be genetic settings.

Our first two babies had some of the traits: turned out hips, tendency to stand with feet turned out, hyper-extended arms.

But nothing like our third baby.

Felicity has all of the hallmarks of hyper-mobility. She could not pull up to stand until almost 15 months because her ankles are so unstable. She struggles to compensate for a body that does not give natural resistance when moving beyond the point of stability.

How I know that struggle! I have to work hard to stay strong enough to not experience frequent dislocations. Wear gloves on my hands to stabilize my finger joints on bad days. A brace on my ankle when working on new turns so I don't sprain it - again. Pay attention to how I walk and stand and sit so I don't accidentally knock something askew.

It hurts. Often. It took many years of trial and error to understand how to minimize injury.

It never occurred to me that I might one day have to translate those solutions to use on my baby.

I know exactly how hard it will be for her. I feel all that pain, and I felt cheated.

Carrying this cross wasn't that big of a deal when it was just me. I can handle pain. I can deal with compensating for the rest of my life. God made me good and stubborn, and I can stubborn my way over many a mountain.

In my head I had made a deal with God: I carry this quietly and it stops here. 
But that wasn't fair.

Because for all the pain and difficulty extreme hyper-mobility can bring, it can also be a blessing.
I don't struggle to move.
I can find a lot of comradery for my freaky talents among fellow dancers - who are often selected because they share these traits.
I have to humble myself enough to ask for help when I need it. The consequences are too high if I fail to let others help.

Struggles, especially life long struggles, can be a magnificent blessing. They change us. They mold us into being people we would never have become otherwise.
Carrying a cross has given me a greater possibility for empathy, and a path for understanding what my own daughter will face.

*****************
To read more about Felicity's story:



Are there crosses in your life that are/could be shared by your children or other family/friends? 
How do you handle it?

When Baby's First Shoes are Prescription

Thursday, January 10, 2019



Moms worry. About anything and everything under the sun at some point.
As a society, we're used to it. We expect it. So much so that we tend to ignore motherly worries wholesale - including the ones which should not be ignored.

When our third child took a little longer to get moving than other babies her age, I wasn't worried. Kids develop at different rates, right? Anyway her brother and sister were late walkers too.

But Felicity wasn't moving at all. She could sit, unsupported, by 4 months, and that's where she stayed.
She wasn't rolling, crawling, creeping, scooching, or doing any other method of locomotion.

At 6 months.

At 9 months.

At 12 months.

At her 9 month doctor check up I was worried. But when I mentioned she wasn't crawling yet I was brushed off. Told to wait for the 12 month visit.
So I did, but something didn't feel right about it. 5 months seemed like a long time to go without any gross motor improvement in an infant.

Searching online wasn't much help. Parenting forums are filled with anxious parents concerned about their offspring's progress. Most of the answers involve something along the lines of, "My child wasn't crawling at all at 10 months. Then he started walking out of no where!" Only to mention a comment or two down that "out of nowhere" meant, "after months of extensive OT and PT".

At 11 months I was done with waiting.
Done with getting told that "mothers are often worried too early."
With being told it would be easier for me once I "had more experience with child development" (which apparently two previous children of my own, four younger siblings, and a crowd of nanny and babysitter kids didn't achieve.)
Done with being treated as an anxious worry-wort for having valid concerns.

I put in a referral to our state child development program. It's a long process of: phone evaluation, in person interview, in person evaluation, a meeting to go over the results, a meeting to decide on a plan. THEN we can finally start getting help.

It's not easy to qualify for services in just one developmental category. Felicity really only struggled in gross motor. Her fine motor skills are excellent, she had been using a handful of words for a while, and clearly did not struggle with social or mental skills. She just needed help with gross motor, but she needed it badly.

Bad enough to qualify.

For a child this young, a physical therapist comes to our home once a week. I work with her to create challenges for Felicity that are built into her natural routines, using items we have in the house.

She has made a lot of progress! She started army crawling. Then suddenly was up on her hands and knees crawling. She was pulling up to her knees to get items from the top of the coffee table.

But something still didn't look right.

When Felicity was put in a standing position she would clench her toes like mad, her hips were crazy turned out, and she was not stable on her ankles in the slightest. Even with her increasing muscle strength, she still wasn't getting any more stable on her feet.

The therapist decided it was time to talk about orthotic help.

The appointment to get fitted for ankle orthoses was hard for me. The orthotist noted how incredibly hyper-mobile Felicity is - not just in her ankles but over her whole body. How almost overdeveloped her muscles have become because of her attempts to stabilize her incredibly unstable joints on her own for so long.

It wasn't hard to hear because of how much my baby needed help. It was hard to hear because I should have known better.

I have generalized hyper-mobility.
I have to work hard to stay with a certain level of muscle tone just to keep my pain levels down.
I have to be smart when I move to prevent injury.

How do you respond when your child has inherited your struggles? How to feel when your child is hurting - and you had something to do with it?

More of this story next week!
Because it's getting long...

Update: The follow up is here!


Top 10 Posts of 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's the end of the year and it's time for a recap! 
My Top 10 posts of 2018 are....eclectic. Welcome to how we run things here at Under Thy Roof. :)



10


My Ember Day plans for Fall 2018 came in at #10 for the year! I do it a little differently every time, and that's good - I would like to have different things to work on to shine up my home and soul.
My categories are: physical, spiritual, fasting, and connection.


9


I thought I had said all I had to say about breastfeeding, but I needed to speak a little truth to power for a hot second during World Breastfeeding Week. It's not as cut and dry was the promotional posters make out.


8
https://underthyroof.blogspot.com/2018/08/hosting-your-own-retreat.html


"Something that has bothered me about retreats aimed for women is they are often 1. very expensive, 2. cater to a different demographic from me, or 3. don't have a way to easily remain in contact with women you have just gotten to know more personally.

Instead of waiting for someone to come along and drop the ideal retreat from the sky - you can make what you need! Here are some key things to hosting your own retreat."


7


One of those posts I wrote in the springtime before The Summer of Crisis. I read over it again before posting it here, just to make sure I would still stand by everything I said there knowing what was to come. Yup, still mean it. Phew.

6


Fun fact about my writing style - I come up with most posts while listening to lectures, podcasts, or conferences. What I write may or may not be related to the subject of the talk.
So if you are ever at a conference with me, and see me scribbling like mad in a notebook, this is why.
This post was written at the Well Read Mom conference last year and poured out wholesale between two talks. It's something that I have been wanting to say for years, and suddenly the words poured out.

5


This was the first post in a series of guest posts + giveaways on the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Hilary from Messy Buns and Latin Chant for writing this post that resonated with so many!

4


Ah, the post that garnered me my first hate mail. It's a milestone.
Like a lot of Catholic bloggers and writers, I wrestled for a while with what to say, if to talk about, the church crisis. Then one day I woke up and this post poured out. Two more posts would do the same by the end of the week.
It cost me a lot a lot of readers, followers, some friendships and working relationships.
Was it a needed truth? Yes. And I would do it again. It would probably be more scary to write now that I know what it would cost me, but it was the right thing to do.

3


"If you've hung around this blog for a while, you know what I do for NFP Awareness Week - share stories! I believe the best way to talk about a way of life is to show that life via storytelling (and that Anthropology degree might only have influenced that a lot).
There's been small years, busy years, and themed years.

This year is a theme year.

Supposed to be a theme year.

This has been a hard year.

This year is all about NFP in the postpartum time - but it's both on the blog and my real life. I've never had more "skin in the game" than I do this year. Merely trying to put together postpartum NFP stories has been an eye opening experience."

2


I was supposed to record a podcast as a guest to talk about the topic of body image. I had done my research, talked to people about what they long to hear on the topic, and outlined my thoughts. 
Then the podcast fell through.
So I wrote all of it up into a post! Can't keep an overdoer down.

1


In just a few days this post became my most popular post of all time. The incident that inspired it happened years ago, but it's something that has been percolating in my mind ever since.
It helps to realize you are not the only one, and that saying "I choose this" doesn't not mean "all other things are bad choices."
Embrace the freedom of "That's beautiful, but it's not for me"!

***********************

Linking up with Bobbi from Revolution of Love blog for the Top 10 Posts of 2018!


Day in a Life - December 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Time for another Day in a Life! I always do this on a Monday, but I can't honestly say this is a typical Monday. At least by the afternoon. You'll see.

Important things to know: we live in Minnesota, the kids are now 6 (John), 4 (Therese), and 14 months (Felicity). we're homeschooling the 1st grader and preschooler, I am home with them during the day and pursue theater by night. Pursue in the "audition", not necessarily "doing", sense. 
Here we go!

6:30 - Wake up, take temp

7:00 - The baby is still asleep, so I have coffee and read the paper while the big kids have breakfast

7:15 - Matt leaves for work. Biking to work made more pleasant by our freakishly warm December (for Minnesota).

7:30 - I assume the baby must be awake by now, just really quiet, but she's STILL ASLEEP. Big kids are not quiet coming upstairs to get dressed, so I grab the groggy baby and bring her downstairs to eat.

8:00 - Bring Felicity back upstairs for changing. The big kids are playing in the day nursery now, so I set the baby free after she's dressed to go join them. I get myself dressed and start morning prayer time.

8:15 - Baby comes to find me. I bring her downstairs to do morning chores with me.

8:30 - Load of laundry started and air drying dishes from last night put away. I let the baby play in the library so I can put away the diapers that I washed yesterday. Tell the big kids I'm setting a timer for five minutes and they have to beat the clock to clean up.

8:40 - I've unwrapped John's new twin size IKEA mattress (finally graduating from his toddler mattress!) and put away diapers. The kids have generally controlled the toy crazy and fixed their blankets, so I'll call it good.

8:45 - Give Felicity her milk, then change her and put her down for morning nap. She doesn't always sleep in the morning, but her hypermobility means she tires out a lot faster than most kids - so a morning rest is typically still needed.

9:00 - Put on Magic School Bus for the big kids so I can do my weekly planning. I'm wrapping up a big audition weekend with a final audition tonight, so I didn't get around to any planning over the weekend.

The best part of a roll top desk is I don't have to see my papers when I'm not working on something!
9:30 - Switch laundry to dryer.

9:35 - Remembered this is an Ember Week (thanks planning time!) Post to Facebook about it just in case anyone else forgot about it in the pre-Christmas busy.

9:40 - Also see I have an Everyday Ediths post due later this week on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Decide to get started on that by looking up what those are...

9:45 - School boxes are down and we hit the books! I printed out syllabi to the end of the semester last week and told the kids they can work as fast as they want to the finish, as long as they do it well. John is one lesson away from being done with math. Therese really finished her semester a while ago, but I haven't told her that. She LOVES school.



9:50 - Kids are going well on school. Time to get the baby up and changed before her physical therapist arrives.


10:00 - Felicity's PT is here! She is doing once a week in-home therapy visits through a school district program. Minnesota is amazing.

10:20 - Attempt at keeping kids going on school while the therapist is here is not going well. Send kids upstairs to play.

10:30 - Big kids still rowdy. They get bundled up and sent outside to play.

11:00 - Therapy over! Kids come back in and I get lunch going. Mac and Cheese Shells + steamed carrots for the kids and salad for me. I have a moment, so I pre-fill the pasta pot with water and put the lid on it for dinner prep.




11:20 - Lunch is served.



11:35 - Everyone is mostly done eating. Read aloud time!

Current read aloud. Not as beloved as All-of-a-Kind Family for us.

11:45 - Felicity is not content to play on the floor or sit on the couch with us anymore. I go put her down for nap a little early. She's normally more tired on therapy days.

Reading couch selfie!
11:50 - Back downstairs. Reading time resumes.

Therese insisted I include this one.
12:04 - Finished our chapter. Time for Therese to go for nap and for John to finish his math speed drills.

12:10 - Therese is in bed (No tears or drama! Miracle!) I get John going again while I start the kitchen clean up. I had set some herbal tea to seep during lunch, so I strain that and sip on it while I work.

12:22 - Dishwasher unloaded. John almost done.

12:30 - Dishwasher re-loaded and John is on his last drill. I love having the school table in the kitchen!

12:35 - Getting ready for Phonics time. Put the kettle on for tea.



1:00 - Successful completion of a Phonics lesson earns him an episode of Star Wars Clone Wars. Our deal is one lesson for one episode. I heard Therese moving around upstairs during the lesson so I listen for her while I bring up the clean laundry and start folding.

Star Wars is serious business here.

1:07 - As suspected, Therese was up and roving. Remind her of our plans to go to the Y after nap. Laundry is folded so I head back downstairs after re-tucking her into bed.

1:10 - Tea time! I'm reading A Secular Age right now. Very slowly. It's a tome.



1:16 - My finger joints have just about had it with me so I put a heat pack on those while I read. #selfcare

1:57 - John is putting his math skills to use counting down the exact minutes until 2:00. 2pm is when snack is a possibility and quiet time is no longer enforced in our house. Hopefully the girls will be up in not too long so we can make moves toward the Y.

2:00 - John joyfully gets a snack (pretzels). Duolingo time for me! I'm on the French course. My speaking is still weak, but my reading is greatly improved.

2:08 - Therese is up! She join in the pretzel snack.

2:20 - Felicity is up! Heard her babbling. She wakes up full of thoughts. I get her changed and start packing for the Y.

2:25 - Send John out to get the mail.

2:30 - Out the door!

2:35 - Kids are all buckled in the car and... I can't find my phone. I consider going without it, but decide that might be tempting fate.

2:45 - After searching the house twice, and the car once, I finally find my phone hidden on the side of my desk. NOW we're off.

2:47 - Realize I should probably get gas now so I'm ready to head straight to my audition after dinner. There's a station on the way so this should be a quick stop.

2:50 - For some reason all the other cars have pulled into the first pumps, and effectively blocked all the others. I have to go around and do a parallel parking maneuver into the one slot I can find.

2:52 - The pump is defective. It keeps switching off every 1/2 - 1 gallon. Even though I know the tank is almost empty. I close out and restart only to remember that the discount I had was used up in the faulty transaction.

2:55 - I call it quits and decide to fight this fight another day. I have antsy kids in the car and I really want to get a workout and some stretching in today.

3:10 - At the Y. My kids have the Kids Spot all to themselves. They're making construction paper mosaic gingerbread men today. Therese is thrilled.

3:15 - Finally getting to my workout!

When I got on here and pushed "go" it set my time goal to an hour. I laughed and reminded the machine of who was using it.

3:50 - Not as long of a workout as I would have liked, but I need to get home and start dinner.

3:55 - I go to pick up the kids and they don't want to leave. I swear they love me.

4:15 - Home! I turn on the burner for the ready to go pasta pot. Pat myself on the back for remembering that afternoon Kirby is much less put together than morning Kirby. Dinner plan is open ended pasta something, so we'll see what I create!

4:30 - Water is close to boiling. I settle on making a beefed up pasta sauce with rigatoni noodles. I use up leftover taco meat and frozen broccoli, plus a diced onion, garlic, and a few spices to jazz up my jarred pasta sauce.

4:45 - Matt's home! The baby insists he drop everything to hold her. Daddy's girl is a real thing.

Then I stopped taking notes because things started to go sideways. Here's the gist.

Felicity wants to eat the pasta, but only if Daddy feeds her. 

John loves the pasta, but Therese has sudden, overwhelming, existential angst about: using a fork, eating a bite, knowing which bite to eat, sitting, and how anyone looks at her. D R A M A ensues.
After much cajoling, yelling, time outs, hugs, and re-starts Therese finally eats dinner about an hour after we started.

But I feel nauseous. Really nauseous. That taco meat better not have been bad. I do the math and conclude there is no reason to think it would be rancid. It smelled fine and was only a few days old. Images of being up at 2am with vomiting kids fill my head anyway.

Matt has put on Lord of the Rings for the big kids while he finishes cleaning up. He is hosting a book group at our house tonight, so it needs to happen. At least we succeeded in keeping most messes contained this afternoon (yet another reason I love going to the Y.)

I've started sipping ginger ale, but have to conclude that tonight's audition is looking ill advised.
Matt tells me to go rest and that he's got it. I know he really does got it, but I still feel totally crappy about this whole evening. I put myself in bed with a Harry Potter book and try to distract myself from the nausea. 
Matt gets the baby bathed and put down, gets the bigs to bed, and tells me to feel better on his way back downstairs to play host. He's kind of amazing.

I finally start feeling better about 8:30, but the auditions end at 9:00 and it's unlikely I could make it there in time. I console myself by remembering that Anne Frank isn't really a show where I'm likely to get cast in a strong role anyway. It's fine. I'm fine. 
I scroll through Netflix trying to find a feel better distraction show, but come up short.

An unknown Minneapolis number calls me. I let it go to voicemail assuming it's some medical appointment reminder call. Whoever it was left a voicemail, so I check it real fast. 

It's from the director who I auditioned for on Saturday.
She wants to talk about my audition.
There is zero reason for a director to personally call an actor unless there is casting news. I try and call her back immediately, but get sent straight to voicemail.

I remind myself she has a whole cast to call, if that's what she's doing, so I should give it a few minutes.

I give it exactly three minutes and I call her again.

She wants to offer me a role.
Not a callback. A role. Even the role I wanted!
I accept the offer and try to sound cool, happy, and calm all at the same time. I probably failed, but whatever, first impression time is over anyway.

I roll out of bed and walk into the living room filled with the new book group people. I think for five seconds I might be able to tell Matt quietly about the news without interrupting the meeting, but it's clearly at the tail end of things and everyone is doing the polite Minnesota thing of trying to include the new person who just walked in.
So I announce it to everybody! Varying levels of excitement, confusion, and congratulations float up from the mostly male crowd. About what I expected. I go hang out in the library with the one female attendee plus baby.

After the book group leaves, Matt and I powwow what this casting means for family logistics. Mostly ok. Figuring out how to get John to Catechism classes on Wednesday nights is the biggest hurtle, but we'll figure something out.

For now I'm just so grateful to have a bone. Getting callbacks is a nice reassurance that I'm not just completely un-talented, but, over a year into being serious about auditioning in the Twin Cities, it's soooooo much better to have an honest to goodness show to put on the resume.

Got to bed sometime around 11pm. 
I tried to pick a normal day, y'all. God laughed at me.

Previous Day in a Life posts:

Quieting in a Busy Season

Friday, December 14, 2018




I'm typically busy. When you ask me how my week was "busy" is a likely adjective I will throw you. But I don't mean that in a negative way.

When I say I've been busy, I don't automatically mean: stressed, overworked, over-scheduled, tired, stretched thin, or at the end of my rope.

I just mean busy.

Busy handling the things God has given me to work on. Busy living my vocation. Busy carrying the crosses I've been given. Busy saying yes to my life.

I don't want to be un-busy. However, I don't want to be without quiet. Contrary, perhaps, to popular opinion, I'm a strong believer that busy seasons are hospitable to quiet. Here are some ways I find quiet in my busy seasons.

Morning Time

I am not one of those "wake up an hour before your family for quiet time"people. My brand of busy typically causes late nights, so I need to find a space for morning time in a different way.
Where I've found the most consistent time in the morning, for a little space for prayer and quiet, has been in my room after breakfast and getting the kids dressed for the day. The kids are normally happy at this point, so they can play in their rooms or in the day nursery on their own for 15 minutes.

Some mornings the plan works perfectly and I get a whole 25 minutes of undisturbed prayer time.
Other mornings I get 5 minutes and have to pick up where I left off after I put down the baby for her morning nap.
Sometimes it's a rosary prayed in the car while getting to an appointment.
But even if it's a go-with-the-flow kind of day, finding a morning time for prayer has been a game changer for me.

Evening Pause

I don't know about you, but I am TIRED when it's finally time for bed. But I've been making myself pause to say Evening Prayer the past few weeks. It's shorter than the morning prayer, typically only takes me 5 minutes to say, and allows me a chance to tap back into the universal prayer of the Church.

Ending the 24 hour news cycle

I have started reading my local, hard copy, newspaper over my breakfast. Every morning. That is the vast extent of my news consumption for the entire day.
I don't scroll endlessly on news apps anymore. Or get sucked into reading comment sections.
Don't. Read. The. Comments. refrain does not work on me when I know they're right there!

I'm still up to date. I am still connected and knowledgeable about the goings on in the world, but I have my peace back.

Tea Time

I have been having tea with my oldest son after his sisters go down for nap, or with all the kids if we have an early lunch. Sometimes we read. Sometimes we chat. Sometimes we plan.
It's stinkin' lovely.
It might only be so for like 3 minutes before someone is crying in frustration, but a little bit of lovely can buy a whole lot of mom patience credits.

Reading

I believe that reading and feeding the intellect is an essential part of self-care. Finding the time to read can be tricky. I've made a system that maximizes the opportunity for reading, even in my busy seasons (because, of course I would.)

 I thought about the main areas I would potentially sit down, or be stuck for any amount of time, and then I put a book there.
So I have: an upstairs book, a downstairs book, a purse book, and an audiobook.

Upstairs book is for before bed, or if I'm up there keeping an eye on the baby while the kids play.
Downstairs book is for naptimes and any at home evenings. Sometimes for reading over a baby's head while I feed or rock her.
Purse book is for when I'm stuck in a doctor's office, or when I'm being my chronically early self and show up 20 minutes before a meeting begins.
Audiobook is for when I'm driving alone or sometimes for working out.

There's wiggle room. My Well Read Mom book selection gets priority location when we have a meeting approaching, but this system has allowed me to feed my mind and soul, internal quiet, even in the busiest of times.

Fix What You Can Fix

There are things in all of our lives that suck away our quiet in little ways. One of mine was stressing out rummaging through a spice cabinet on the opposite side of the kitchen from the stove. It's a silly little thing, but when you cook everyday those little inconveniences add up.

I finally cleaned out a junk drawer (which brings the total number of kitchen junk drawers down to three. It's a process.) and made...a spice drawer! In my kitchen island! Right where I actually cook!

It's a small improvement but it has greatly improved my stress level in the kitchen.

I don't have to address every little daily stressor immediately. But I should take control of what is in my control, and change what I can change.

Write it Down

I'm finally figuring out a groove for me when it comes to calendars and planners. I'm not a planner junkie, but it honestly takes Google calendar, a paper monthly/weekly planner, a bullet journal, and four binders to keep me together.

It sounds overwhelming, but it has taken away the repeating mantra of to-dos that swirled in my head constantly before (and I STILL forgot some things!)

The greatest virtue of writing down my plans and days is now I know what I did. I have a record of changes and hopes and dreams.
I can see where my aspirations of the day did not match up with the reality of my day. I notice tasks that have been carried over for weeks that I should either outsource or just drop altogether.

Finally, I can see the fruit of my labors. Much of my days at home are doing the same tasks AGAIN. Every day, over and over.
Outside the home, it can be a long line of rejections, nos, dead ends, and dropped connections.
But writing down my days and plans lets me see that I am doing something. I am accomplishing something. Even if I accomplishing it again, I have accomplished consistency!


Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

How are you finding quiet in a busy season? Do you do any of these ideas already?

Rise of the Catholic Guru

Monday, December 10, 2018


I grew up in the Bible Belt. In the heart of Texas where our megachurches are numerous and anti-Catholicism barely shaded. The ridiculous claims of prosperity gospel Christianity were clear even to eleven year old me. I took comfort in the assurance that this sideshow Christianity was not Catholicism.
I was so sure that Catholics were inoculated from falling for such antics due to our magisterial teaching, handy millennia of writings, our leadership, and history of great thinkers.

Well the revelations of the summer seem to have changed the waters for my perspective. Lately I have noticed a rise of the Catholic guru.

What I mean by "guru" is someone who has a platform and uses that platform to broadcast their particular perspective without nuance. What makes a guru, in my mind, versus a public Catholic is a guru has a worrying grip on their audience. A guru is capable of making wild claims and has so conditioned their audience that those claims will be upheld, even by otherwise reasonable people.

I have had faithful Catholic women tell me that "NFP is overused" based on the claims of a priest YouTuber. Never mind that there is absolutely no way to back up such a claim. Unless they know of some Registry of Adequate Discernment that I have never heard about.

Other ridiculous claims have been: mental illness is caused by a lack of prayer, working mothers are incurring mortal sin, priests decorating gingerbread houses are not being men, and Joseph was the real person in charge of Mary's uterus.
And these are the examples I have heard passively in the past WEEK. I did not even go hunting for these, y'all.

But why now? While it's not fair to entirely blame the rise of the Catholic guru on the Church crisis, it's certainly not without impact.

The ongoing crisis has led to a crisis of trust. Not necessarily faith, but trust in being told the fullness of truth as the extent of the cover-up continues to roll. Many Catholics have been swimming in search of someone willing to tell them how to think about this. Sometimes that process has been healthy - such as being led to really grapple with and learn the teachings of the Church, perhaps for the first time as an adult. But others have fallen into the clutches of a Catholic guru.

Catholic gurus might be ordained people or laity.

Converts or cradle Catholics.

Bloggers, YouTubers, Podcasters, Authors, etc.

Which means...there is no one profile of a Catholic guru. Not all priests with a YouTube channel could be called a Catholic guru. Just as not all Catholic moms with a blog are automatically not a guru.

Now what to do if you realize you have been duped by one of these figures? Pushing back when they cross a line is a good first choice. Message them, email them, let them know why what they said is not ok.

I have chosen not to link to many of the specific instances I have mentioned here in order to not reward the publicity greed that probably contributed to the outlandish claims. Lessening their reach as long as these figures continue this behavior is a loving choice.

Tell other people what attracted you about this person, but also address why they should not be taken wholesale. If you have been recommending this person for a while, it's honest to set the record straight if you can. Very smart people can be taken in by guru strategies.

God is good and gave us such wonderful gifts intellect, critical thinking, and a propensity to seek truth. He wants more for us than being the sheep of a Catholic guru. He wants us to follow Christ. Christ is the literal Word of God. He is love incarnate. He is truth.
These Catholic gurus might temporarily make you feel better, there's a reason they attracted you in the first place! But our hearts should be turned toward truth, and not the perversion of truth espoused by gurus.

Have you seen the impact of a Catholic guru? What did you do? 
Have you been taken in by one of these figures? How did you change your thinking?

What's Your Liturgical Living Style?

Friday, November 30, 2018



I've been documenting a bit of how I do Advent and Christmas over the past few weeks. But it's occurred to me that there are particular styles to living liturgically. Figuring out what style resonates with you is phenomenally helpful for liturgical living success! Here's a few of the basic styles:

The Food liturgical living person

This person likely either cooks at home most of the time, or generally likes to cook. Meal planning may or may not be their strong point, but they can totally handle throwing a dessert together with a week to a couple days notice! Likely enjoys browsing Pinterest for new recipes to try out. It helps to be an adventurous eater!

The Crafty liturgical living person

This person finds happiness in creating with their hands. May have a stash of various craft supplies, or just rescued recycling scraps waiting to be made into something marvelous. Experience with crafting techniques will vary, but enthusiasm for the attempt is a given. Likely enjoys adult coloring books.

The Bookish liturgical living person

This person has a book for every possible situation. This style will range from the Children's Literature enthusiast, to the Tolkein nerd, to Poetry lovers. Saints days, for the bookish style,  are best celebrated by being curled up with a cozy blanket and enjoying the words or stories that belong to that feast.

The Party Throwing liturgical living person

This person sees changes in the liturgical year, or any given feast day, as an excellent excuse to throw a party! Large or small, cocktail party or play date. Doesn't matter, they will be there! And will likely host. This person is probably an extrovert, but there will be the odd introvert among these party throwing liturgical livers.

Bonus Categories!
There are some life situations that will impact how your liturgical living style manifests in practice.

The Parenting liturgical living person

This is the person with the most available resources for their liturgical living (let's be real.) While this person has the needs and preferences of a tiny army to factor in, kids make the joy and wonder aspect of liturgical living easy and accessible.

The Single liturgical living person

This person has to wade through the flood of liturgical living resources that assume you are trying to celebrate with, and for, small children. However, the feasts and fasts are meant for everyone in the Church! It helps to join forces with a group of friends to do at least some celebrations in community. Own your tradition and allow for others to join in! You might find that celebrating with another family, a local religious order, or your roommates make for some wonderful experiences.

The Convert liturgical living person

This person may be brand new to Catholicism, Christianity, or religion in general. They may be suffering from convert fever ("Do. All. The. Things!") or from convert overwhelm ("Please don't let there be one more thing to add on my plate, sweet Jesus!") The beautiful thing about the liturgical year? It always comes back around! This isn't set in stone. You will live if you miss a feast day.
Little secret from a cradle Catholic? *whispers* No celebrates all of the feasts! Really.
Pick a thing, see styles above to get an idea of what is a good thing to start with for you, and just try it out!

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

Which of these styles is you? Are there any I forgot? What are some other categories that impact how someone celebrates the liturgical year?
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