The Bishop, the Wonky Diocese, the Cathedral and the People

I live in the Diocese of Raleigh. Just this past Tuesday we received word that our current Bishop, Bishop Michael Burbidge, has been reassigned by Pope Francis to the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia. This news is shocking. To the point I have friends who do not know how to react.

In many corners, the Bishop is beloved. He set about to personally confirm every single young person in our diocese. That means he’s traveled long distances tirelessly and been in communities that are almost opulantly rich and devastatingly poor. He’s been in suburban “oasis” parishes, rural simple parishes and inner-city poverty parishes.

For years upon years Catholics were a paltry 2% of the entire state population in its two diocese. (Yes, you read that right, there are only two diocese in the entire state.) We now measure closer to 10% thanks to retiring Northerners and Mid-Westerners and Hispanic immigrants. We are not a glamorous diocese. We are not a prized assignment. The sister diocese (The Diocese of Charlotte) is becoming a jewel but we struggle.

If Bishop Burbidge had any misgivings or grumblings about being assigned here, he didn’t let us know. Instead he embraced the challenges and diversity of the diocese. He saw what many on the outside (and quite a few of us on the inside) failed to see: potential. He believed we could be great and he set about to prove it to us.

He became actively involved in as many parish happenings at as many parishes as he could. He embraced social media to spread the Gospel. He worked to get a parish designated a shrine to the Blessed Mother and later, a Basilica (the first in the entire Diocese). He worked tirelessly to support vocations. He didn’t just make appearances in Catholic schools but embraced the families who chose to homeschool. He supported our youth in many ways including helping create the pro-life “Love My Life” rally in the state capital. I know many priests came and went when I was a kid growing up. Never was the official installation of a new pastor as big a deal as it became during Bishop Burbidge’s tenure. And he increased the presence of the TLM throughout the diocese. It still has a long way to go, but it’s getting there.

And then he decided we could be more and do more. And he launched the campaign for the currently under construction Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh. This was no small undertaking as huge swaths of the diocese are in rural or urban poverty. But there are also some very deep pockets. And it would be this undertaking that would show a not unsignificant faction of the diocese who were not Bishop Burbidge fans. There was one parish, a parish with pretty deep pockets, where an anti-Cathedral campaign was launched to great success. The argument being used was that this money would be better used to feed the poor, home the homeless, etc. It’s an argument that, on its face, seems to carry a lot of weight. My parents made a substantial donation to the Cathedral but many of their friends were not on board (we once upon a time belonged to this parish and still have many friends from that time).

When my mom shared the rumblings from this parish, I was floored. So many people had so much they could give, why did they close their fists tightly when it came to their fellow Catholics? (It is worth noting this parish has been vocal about chafing under Diocesan policy sometimes with good reason and other times with questionable judgment.)  When my mother presented me with the argument about other uses for the money, immediately I thought of Matthew 4:4:

It is written, one does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Surely we are to physically feed the hungry with food but what about those whose souls are hungry for truth? This cathedral is not being built to glorify the wealth of a few in the diocese, but to glorify God and to feed the souls of the faithful and those who are still searching.

But Kristen, St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary…use words.” I have heard some claims that we might attribute that quote incorrectly, but besides that, it’s important to note that in all cases and situations at some point it will be necessary to use words. Any atheist can fill plates at the soup kitchen and do it with dignity for the person on the other side of the plate, but we have more to heaven. We have physical bread, but we also have the “bread come down from heaven.”

That was the Bishop’s goal in the cathedral. And it was during this “anti-Cathedral” campaign that I began actively praying for the Bishop as I felt the over-whelming sense that he was under attack spiritually as well as in the court of opinion. I don’t claim that my prayers have helped him specifically but I was heartened to see him presiding over the blessing of the animals at the parish where the anti-Cathedral campaign originated last week.

I am so excited for my friends in the Diocese of Arlington like Elizabeth, Mary and Ginny. I am overjoyed for them especially because Bishop Burbidge was the joy our diocese needed for the last ten years. The joy that said, “Yes you can. You are God’s chosen one. You were made for this.” (HT to St Joan of Arc there). But I would be lying if I didn’t say I was sad too. My faith-formation class is learning the Rosary this month and we’ve entrusted both diocese involved in this transfer as well as Bishop Burbidge to the Blessed Mother and are offering our prayers for those intentions. Here in eastern NC, we have no idea what the future holds but we hope and pray and know we are worthy. Thank you God, for sending us Bishop Burbidge to teach us that.

What’s My Age Again?

No one should take themselves so seriously
With many years ahead to fall in line
Why would you wish that on me?
I never wanna act my age

-Mark Hoppus & Tom DeLonge

What’s My Age Again

If you really like my posts about faith that aren’t so navel-gazey…this might not be the post for you. Maybe it will be, I don’t know. Like the rest of my life, I’m just winging it here.

I’m listening to the Original London Cast Recording of Crazy For You. I know what you’re thinking, “recording of whaaaa???Crazy For You was an 1990s created stage show that was a “New Gershwin Musical Comedy.” And in the early 90s, when I was in middle school (some of my favorite years of my life), my friend Elizabeth had us in her old downtown Raleigh home and we listened to this alongside Hole, Sonic Youth and assorted others. Let me make clear, Crazy For You is a Broadway produced musical featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin in a new setting (Someone to Watch Over Me, anyone?). We were listening to Broadway alongside grunge. We attended a public visual and performing arts magnet middle school where we all studied dance and theater. This was totally normal. And I longed for that soundtrack and today, I bought it on iTunes. More than 20 years later.

I don’t know if I’m the only one of my friends who still has the same eclectic tastes in music and entertainment (I’ve also purchases Snoop Dogg’s Cool Aid, the Wadjda soundtrack–mostly for Grouplove’s Tongue Tied, Adult Swim singles and Lenny Kravitz in the last six months) but some days I really feel like an alien that landed here on Earth just trying to pass as human. I’m this close to downloading Hamilton even though I’ve never seen it because: Hamilton.

I’ve often found myself forgetting despite three active children ages 10-7, a marriage of 13 1/2 years, two cars, living in our second house and having a big-girl grown-up job that I’m not 19 or 13. It seems as though a grown-up would remember that when they call and ask for “Mrs. Herrett” that that person is me, not for it to take three minutes to remember it’s me they are asking for because I prefer to be called by my Christian name, Kristen. An adult might have set preferences like period-dramas vs my netflix current watch list which is a crazy mix of favorite sit-coms, current dramas, comedy specials and cartoons I watched as a kid. I was even born at the tail end of Generation X and just ahead of the millenials and therefore don’t really feel like either. I just registered to vote (after 3 ridiculous attempts) and for the first time did so “unaffliated.” Because, y’all, this election…

In anyone else, I would say these same contradictions simply mean they aren’t living to the world’s expectations but maybe to Gods and to embrace these little things that make us us. So why can’t I give myself a break? Because I am fallen. Just like we all are. And I struggle. I’ve been told this is a sign of progress that I recognize the struggle. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes Wednesday night telling a group of third-graders that sin is a conscious choice we make to turn away from God and then got in the car with my kids and let three four letter words roll of my tongue when someone cut me off in traffic. Yikes! Should I be teaching religious education to small children? Even my own children? I feel like a kid myself most days. I even have moments of “who are these kids and why do they keep calling me mama?” because I don’t feel all that qualified most of the time.

It’s not lost on me that all this is cramming the front of my brain ten days before my 37th birthday. I’m staring down 40 and this isn’t how I thought it would feel. The world’s changed a lot in my lifetime. I’ve changed a lot. And yet, I haven’t. When Blink-182 first released What’s My Age Again (in 1999 when I was 20) I felt like that was total stupidity,  who didn’t grow up? Yeah…listening to show tunes tonight made me download that song because…here I am laughing at jokes about Uranus with my kids and watching Garfield and so yeah, what’s this acting my age thing about again? What does that mean? How is my age supposed to act?

Meanwhile in NC…a guide to surviving mass hysteria and general insanity

I think my adopted homestate has lost its collective mind.

A few weeks ago, there were reports of an active shooter at one of the state’s largest and busiest malls. As it happens, there was no shooter. Rumors of one caused an epic panic. All the injuries sustained, were as a result of the stampede. The eye-witness accounts varied as to the number of gun-men, if it began as a fight between two people, the kind of guns were either sub-machine guns or hand guns and beyond. And there were no bullets found or shell casings or anything. There were also false tweets sent out by employees of one mall business saying that the gun-man had taken hostages. While people were definitely right to flee the perceived threat and their fears were very, very real, it turned out to be hyper-vigilance and fear-mongering at its worst that ignited this panic.

Then the clowns appeared. Around Winston-Salem, NC there began to be reports of people dressed as clowns luring children into the woods. Then the news spread like wild-fire. And suddenly “copy-cat” claims surfaced state-wide. Nowhere else in the country did claims prevail the way they did here. And then…this was reported. Turns out all the claims, ended up being false. And fed by the frenzy of fear.

Then, late last week, a pipeline burst in Alabama. It largely affects gas in NC, SC, and GA. Guess which state has a gas shortage? And not because the pipe burst, but because the hysteria and mere thought of a possible gas shortage has led to hoarding. This continues despite news reports that more gas is being sent. Yesterday, a co-worker witnessed someone filling ten gas cans at the station. A friend on facebook also confronted someone filling cans and told him he was being selfish and what would happen if everyone did that?

Instead of doing practical things like car-pooling, limiting driving to essential trips only, those who can work from home doing so, having kids who attend public school ride the bus, planning grocery store trips etc around commutes, people have 50+ gallons of gas in their garages along with 2 or more full gas tanks. God help them if someone tosses a cigarette butt.

The attitudes I largely encounter here are reminiscent of Salem during the witch trials. The paranoia is at an all time high and people are powder kegs just waiting for the latest “crisis” to ignite them.

Why is all this happening? Why here? Because in this state, what was once the buckle of the Bible Belt, we’ve decided we’re more American than Christian. That we’re patriots first and patriots are only out for themselves. The strong survive by not protecting the weak and by exploiting them; by not loving our neighbor as ourselves, but by spurning them. We’re real good here about quoting our Bibles, we kind of suck at living the Gospel though. We park our butts in pews with the best of them but we leave God there the moment we climb in our SUVs and head to the pump. Is it any wonder that people began publishing this meme in response to our current self-induced gas “shortage?”


We’ve turned to our self-reliance instead of God. We’re great at telling people we trust Him, but actual trust…God is here, but most of us have tried to handle everything while ignoring Him. And so we’ve abandoned not only faith but reason as well. Contrary to what many think, the two are not diametrically opposed.

So, let’s just take the recent self-created gas “crisis.” What does the Bible say about hoarding?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay can destroy, and thieves break in and steal.

But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay can destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Matthew 19:21-22

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Luke 12:16-21


Storing treasures on earth and not heaven? Deciding to stockpile instead of exercising prudence? Jesus really makes a clear point here on what is important. Hint: it’s not gasoline.

How does Jesus say we should deal with anxieties of our time?

He said to [his] disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12: 22-32

That doesn’t sound like rugged independence and patriotic individualism. It’s not unfettered capitalism either. It’s very basic. Trust God. Rely on Him. Give it all to Him. That’s not just about a gas shortage, that’s about all the worries and fears of active shooters, terrorist threats, natural disasters and everything else.

If you are living a life of constant fear and anxiety, if your actions are motivated by the “me-first” herd mentality, let me give you some sound advice. Turn off the cable news channels. Close your lap-top. Remove your social media apps on your phone. Walk away from conversations that you know you will gain nothing from. Turn the world off. Turn Him on.

Pray a Rosary and ask the Blessed Mother’s intervention in our world. Read Scripture and pray before reading that the Holy Spirit guide your hearing of His word. Take a knee–in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and just be in His presence. Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet that you may feel His mercy and kindness in your life and in the lives of those around you and that He may have mercy on the whole world. Go to Mass. I cannot say this enough, go to Mass and pray with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Encourage others who are despairing by praying with them and for them.

Stop bowing before the altar of self and start reverencing the altar of His sacrifice.

Rugged individualism and self-reliance are not virtues. Total abandonment of self and full reliance on Him are.

Remember, Jesus also said:

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Luke 12:34

If you’ve already stock-piled, is there an elderly neighbor you can share with? A large family with a gas guzzler you can support? What about your parish priests? God can and will work through past indiscretions. We are all called as Christians to care for our neighbors, if we got caught up in the panic, how can we offer that now to Jesus?

This weekend at Mass, during the Gospel, we heard the story of the dishonest steward and in the homily, our pastor talked about increasing our tithes that we may give back to the local community as parts of the Body of Christ. If we use this panic as a way to help others, it doesn’t have to be all bad. If we acknowledge our sin and repent and do our penance, God freely gives us His forgiveness and mercy.

NC, it’s not too late, we can overcome this tragic lack of faith and worship of self. But only when we turn to Christ.

The New Testament Widow, St Monica and the Truth about Persistent Prayer

I’ve seen several posts on social media from Christian friends asking for prayer for a particular situation (pregnancy, job search, selling a house etc) where they are told to remember the persistent widow of Luke 18:1-8 by good Christians as proof that God will answer their prayer in the affirmative if they just keep at it. Catholics will often point to St Monica for intercession because of her ceaseless prayers for her husband and her son, St Augustine. I’ve personally been told to create a visualization of what I am asking God for as a form of prayer. For example: to take a picture of the house I was trying to sell and super-impose the word “sold” on it.

I’ve also seen and heard world-weary stories of those who have persisted in prayer for a while only to not see results. My heart aches for them. They just want a good job, a house without mold and lead paint, or a date that leads to a second date and keep coming up empty-handed. Sometimes it feels like you’re spouting off platitudes when you tell the couple trying for a baby for over ten years who’ve exhausted every avenue, “Think about the widow and the judge in Luke’s Gospel,” or, “St Monica never gave up!” It’s even worse when someone is praying for something like complete curing of a child’s cancer and it’s at the end of their battle and someone spouts that off.

When my young cousin Andy was diagnosed with a cancerous, inoperable brain tumor, I saw and hear lots of people say, “God will surely answer our prayers!” When they said that their meaning was clear: God will answer them the way in which we want Him to answer them.

As long time readers of this blog know, God answers ALL prayers. “Yes” is not always the answer. “No” and “Not Yet” are real answers to prayers.

So what then are we to make of that woman who pestered the judge and St Monica’s prayers? Well, first it helps to see these stories in context.

Let’s take the woman and judge first. Jesus’ point in telling the Apostles this story is laid out in verse one of Luke’s 18th chapter. And it wasn’t, “God will give you everything you want if you bug Him enough.” The purpose of the parable was to encourage them not to weary in prayer. That’s actually a pretty big difference. Jesus is teaching them that God is not a genie who grants wishes and that instant gratification is not part of being a follower of Christ. All the apostles except John would be martyred and never see the fruits of their conversions flourish. Jesus knew full well that there would be persecution and He also had the difficult task of preparing the Apostles for His death. Jesus knew that while Peter had declared Him to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, but just a few verses later, as Jesus is telling the Apostles of His death, Peter chimes in with “No Lord, not you!” to which Jesus famously replies, “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:13-23). After all, Jesus was not the king the Jews had been expecting. Even John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who leapt in his mother’s womb at Mary’s greeting had sent his followers to ask Jesus if indeed Jesus was the one they were waiting for or should they be looking for another (Matthew 11:2-6). John the Baptist had preached a fiery end to those who did not believe. That the Messiah would be crucified and actually die…no, the Jewish Messiah wasn’t going to go down like that! Jesus was tasked with preparing those 12 Men to face that God’s reality was quite different than their own. There would be doubts, there would be despair, but Jesus had to teach them to never stop praying, to never stop believing. Many who started following Jesus in His lifetime on Earth would walk away, they would find it too difficult to trust in a God they could not see and give up what everyone had said was right. Judas would betray Him. Peter would deny Him. What He had to make clear to all of them was that, without Him, they would accomplish nothing. Without Him, it would all be for nothing. They had to be able to step out in faith, and prayer was the way to do that. Constant communication with God. They had to understand that God heard all those prayers, not that God would grant them.

Modern lore has many believing that St Monica was a pious woman who did nothing but pray for her son and he miraculously gave up his sinful life and became a father of the Church. Um, no. First off, Monica prayed but she also acted. She didn’t simply pray, “here God, convert him,” and then let God do all the heavy lifting. She chased her son across continents. As he prepared for baptism, she cared for him, his son and others also in preparation. And God did not make it easy for Monica to keep praying, if we want to look at it that way. Augustine had a mistress and a child that had to be accounted for. Augustine would trick her and sail out to Italy ahead of her from Africa. Monica’s faith was tested sorely. Perhaps a bigger miracle than Augustine’s conversion, was that Monica never lost her faith and never gave up that God was listening to her prayers, even when things seemed quite to the contrary. As Monica would find out, God’s timeline is often very different than our own.

This leads to the second thing to consider, with God, all things are possible but that doesn’t guarantee they will happen when or how we want them to. God sometimes gives us glimpses of what is possible so that we can continue to believe without quite achieving our desires. Monica was heartbroken when Augustine left without her, but she was beginning to see things might be possible and with that, renewed her resolve. When Jeff was looking for a job in education, he got a job offer in Colorado. We wanted a job in that part of the country but when Jeff went out and visited the school and community in question, he found it wasn’t right for our family. I was devastated that we’d waited so long for even interviews but I understood this was probably for the best. Similarly, last year when God presented us with two equally good options for jobs and one of the jobs seemed to be sealed up, Jeff went in to interview only to find out the principal only wanted a local candidate and that he had been vetted by an HR employee who wasn’t in touch with the administration. God opened my heart to that place and to find out he wasn’t really going to be considered was very upsetting but made me see that my family could handle the changes God was preparing us for. In the end, God came through in a big way when the day we closed on the sale of our old house, Jeff was offered his current job only five minutes from our new house. And the closing of our new house came 364 days after we had first listed our old house to disastrous results. We can learn from St Monica that sometimes what we asked God for doesn’t look to God what we envisioned it to look like.

Something to keep in mind about persistent prayer too, is that we should be, above all, asking for God’s will. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” When my cousin Andy died of cancer, my aunt Eileen, posted on his caringbridge site that she had prayed asking God to cure Andy and in the end God’s answer was, “I did.” In asking God for anything in prayer, I have since had to assure myself that in the end, I would be okay with whatever God’s plan was. This doesn’t mean I don’t get sad or disappointed at various rejections, however they manifest themselves, but opening myself up in my persistent prayer to God’s will does give a sense of peace and even joy. Trust me, it’s not easy. I fail. A lot. But I am learning as time goes on that sometimes just persisting in my prayer, gives me the opportunity to better trust God. It’s not all lost if it caused me to rely on Him. Maybe that was the entire point of the exercise and maybe I did better on it sometimes than others.

Regardless, it behooves us to understand that the power of persistent prayer lies not in getting what we want all the time, but utilizing it to better rely on God and not ourselves. In that vein, I would suggest that if your knee-jerk reaction to someone asking for prayers for something, anything, they’ve wanted for a long time, is to “remind” them of the persistent widow or St Monica (or any other saint) to move to a position of encouraging prayer and trust in God’s will. That is where the true strength in persistence of prayer is found.



Just an un”remark”able life…

So, Kelly and Alicia were helpful in the comments of my 7QT post from last Friday. I ended up having to reactivate my facebook account so I could find out the gender reveal from a best friend’s recent anatomy scan. (Her baby boy–yeah!!!–is due in November.) And another friend is having her scan this week.

I’m doing a great job staying off the book of face and not posting there either.

Don’t mistake my silence for ignorance nor lack of caring, I just don’t feel like engaging in general more than I have to and inviting controversy. I have friends who feel like every single venting post or post that shares personal information are an open invitation to offer advice. Even when the person explicitly says they have for example, “made a decision” and aren’t interested in others’ opinions on said subject. Most of these folks fall into the category, “never passed a combox they didn’t engage.” And sometimes it’s just to announce their ignorance on the subject at hand. I brace myself when I see notifications from some of my friends commenting on a picture or status because with the particular status and/or picture etc is something they have little to no experience with and their comment will indicate either random advice that people have heard in passing or will comment, “I have no idea what you’re going through, sorry,” or something similar.

I guess that could be a rant. Well, so be it. It’s not just reading depressing and divisive nonsense, it’s the “I have to comment on every.single.thing” nonsense too. My tolerance for it is at an all-time low, on my own posts, at least.

Which is why I love Snapchat. Very little is permanent there. It’s 10 second bites. And people who comment or “chat” with you, can’t comment or “chat” with each other on your post. And, even in your stories, things are only available for 24 hours.

So,  in the spirit of Snapchat, I’m adopting some policies for how I use the book of face.

  1. Comment and “like” sparingly. Sorry, but I HATE when friends of my friends over-engage me in comments or pick fights. So, the less I comment and like, the less likely this sort of thing is to happen.
  2. No more sharing “memories.” They are for me to enjoy and that’s that.
  3. All post will be available for 24 hours, no more. After that, they become viewable to me only and commentable (yeah, I don’t care if that’s not a word) by no one additional.This applies to all pictures and status updates.
  4. No more memes. The memes stop here.
  5. Much less status updating. Because it makes the rest easier.
  6. DMing primarily for the purpose of in-person connecting. Because the rest is mostly gossip anyway AND the purpose of social media is two-fold and the second fold is encouraging in person connections.
  7. No one is allowed to post on my page. This way no one posts while I am not paying attention and starting drama in my space without my knowledge. (I will probably remove this for birthdays etc)
  8. No longer engaging the majority of autism posts I am tagged in. I know they come from good place (mostly) but no more. I live it. I’m done.
  9. Unliking a ton of pages. That should be understood without further explanation.
  10. Finally, no profile pic nor cover pic. Because they are always public.

Maybe it sounds like I’m being Draconian, but this whole social media thing should work for us the way we want it to. I’m just no longer the biggest fan of remarking so many minute details of my life in that forum that invites so many more to comment and remark on my life in turn.

The Gospel reading for today is Matthew 10:34-11:1 where Jesus instructs that following Him means that our lives should be changed from what they were and that our first new purpose as children of God is to please Him and only Him. Even if it causes distance in personal relationships. Do I think I might lose “friends?” It’s possible. It’s actually probable, but that’s okay, I will live. And so will they. This is what is necessary right now to helping me grow in my faith and love of Him and be a better, more effective member of the Body of Christ. My life may appear unremarkable to most people, but it is precious to Him and His will will determine my eternity, not my “likes” nor my “friends.”

7QT: In which a 4-day week feels like it will never end


Linking up with Kelly today because this week: was epic.


Sunday we attended Mass at Infant of Prague which, being the only Catholic church in town (one of only two in our county not counting the Chapel on base),  has a tremendous military presence. Singing America the Beautiful while being surrounded by active duty families and generations of vets was moving in a way I’d never experienced before.


So Monday, for the Fourth, we did, nothing. Well, we watched movies (The Sandlot) and ate but we stayed home. Jeff took Shelby and Joseph to fireworks but William wanted to stay home so I stayed with him and the dog who is deathly afraid of fireworks.


Tuesday William started reading camp and Jeff went to do some work with his dad. William’s reading camp is a more fun version of summer school. At the end of the year, he tested just below where he needed to be for second grade so the school system offered us a completely free reading program during July. They even transport and feed him. He was hesitant but the first day three friends from his class were in his class for the program as well as another little boy he knew. He had a rough morning this morning but he has had fun overall.


Wednesday was a big day. First, it was Shelby’s birthday. She is ten now. Ten. Two whole hands. An entire decade. Is it wrong that I think maybe I’m deserving of an award for keeping another human being alive this long? Anyway, it was another big day for Shelby because Jeff decided that based on some significant maturing we’ve seen this summer thus far, Shelby was ready to potty-train again. Because of her sensory issues, potty-training has never been successful with Shelby. It also doesn’t help that because of her developmental delays, she really did not understand what we expected of her when she sat on the potty no matter how we explained or watched videos (I can receit the Elmo Potty Training DVD…seriously, and I’m available for parties, it’ll be entertainment your friends will never forget, I promise!), or read books or demonstrated, she had no idea. But a lot of things have been clicking for her this summer and so I said, whatever and went with it. Jeff bought panties Tuesday night and I set low expectations based on past experience. The morning was one accident after another. In the afternoon I hid the panties and forced her to go with no bottoms which she hates. We were timing for every 15 minutes and suddenly, she started peeing on the potty. We praised and rewarded her each time. Yesterday was another mixed bag of mostly successes. Well, pee successes, we haven’t quite overcome the sensory issues associated with bowel movements on the toilet. We’ve never made it to day 3 before so we’re still seeing how this goes. (And we won’t be tackling night training for a long time…if we can go everytime during the day on the potty, I’ll be happy!)


Still on Wednesday, before Shelby and Joseph were up (William gets on the bus at 8),  Jeff called me downstairs while I was folding laundry. He asked me to check a lottery ticked he bought for the Mega-Millions drawing online. I was thinking, “What? Why can’t he check it himself?”Well, it turns out he had checked and wouldn’t you know, we matched four numbers. It wasn’t the jackpot or even $1 million but we got $500. We almost never play the lottery, first of all, we didn’t have one in NC until 10 years ago. I literally have bought one powerball ticket my entire life. Jeff usually buys a few when there are big jackpots but those we usually don’t even match one number, so yeah, there were lots of reasons to celebrate on Wednesday.


Wait, you want to know what we did to celebrate Shelby’s birthday besides potty training and winning the lottery…Jeff did most of morning potty-training duty because William was at camp and Joseph wanted to go to library reading club. I went with him. Usually there are crafts and games but this week they watched Zootopia. We’ve seen the film before and enjoyed it (plus the free bag of popcorn) but the floor was hard and Joseph wanted to go about 45 mins in so we decided to leave early. After lunch and William getting home from camp, Jeff took the kids to the pool. Then for dinner we had one of Shelby’s favorites, Chinese food followed by cake and ice cream. Shelby also got to pick all our tv viewing. It was very Spongebob and Elmo heavy.


So maybe it’s two-weeks on, two-weeks off, but I deactivated facebook again last night (personal blog page is still around). Guys, I just can’t right now. My African-American friends are hurting and I ache for them. My law-enforcement friends, who are all wonderful people, are hurting now as well and I cry for their loss. Some of my other friends, I really can’t handle their extremely narrow world view. Between the sadness, the anger, the fear of those hurting and the “I’m-not-a-racist-but” crowd. It was enough to drive me insane. And the Catholic controversies are no less divisive. We had the Maria Goretti controversy (check out Simcha Fisher’s post) and the reaction of Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion and a real lack of mercy and charity. So let me be clear, my life in real life this week rocked, my online life sucked. And it was the Holy Spirit saying to me: take a break. A long break. I was reading about Exodus 90 which is a group for men that helps break addictive habits with 90 days of abstinence/avoidance from them with support. I’m thinking it might take 90 days to heal from this most recent spate of hate spewing and division. I’m not promising that, but my husband is zero social media and we don’t allow our kids on it. Plus we have family vacations coming up which are technology free. Will people really miss me? I don’t think so, I’ll still be blogging and the blog fb page, but I’m so done right now. I don’t think I can make this world a better place through my personal online presence but in my real life in the things I do when not behind a screen. So here goes nothing….

Head on over to Kelly’s for some quick (and probably shorter) takes…

Why I Love Summer Vacation…part 2

Will this be the last part? I have no idea…but here we go:

5. Jeff is home.

Full time. He still occasionally picks up work for his dad or his brother or restaurant work, but it’s not a consistent thing so he’s available for beach trips and pool days and the like. We always work better as a team rather than two individuals running around with separate agendas which sometimes happens during the school year when he’s balancing lesson plans, his regular work day and life in general. Fun days out are more fun when we’re all together and I have a back-up so I can, you know, pee if I need to.

6. The Liberating lack of routine.

Routine is good and I normally love it. But, I really love to shake it off occasionally. The routine of the school year means I have to be available to get kids off the bus and if something took too long (or at least longer than expected during the day) I sometimes don’t get to something I wanted to (ie–a special cleaning project or reading time). The lack of routine is liberating because I do not have as many things depending I be there and so more things actually get done. I know, I know, it confuses me too. Don’t think too much about it.

7. The garden.

I married a man with two green thumbs which is really luxurient when there aren’t enough of them to go around, but I really enjoy seeing him work his magic in our postage stamp size back yard (we’ve laid new sod!) and our small front plot. When we moved here we loved having a smaller yard because our huge gorgeous lot was just simply too much to keep up, especially with Jeff doing the bulk of the work, so this size is perfect and manageable. And lovely this time of year.

8. Classical Music and Reading Time

New to this summer! I started using Snapchat recently and I follow Retta on there. She is hilarious and she snapped last weekend about a tradition she used to have of having Sundays where she wouldn’t watch tv or surf the web but listen to classical music and read. Color me inspired. So, now, in the afternoons, we turn on classical music (either online streaming or on the classical Music Choice tv station) and read for about an hour. It’s relaxing and it’s growing our brains. #Winwin

That’s all for now folks!