Loving Lent

Standard

I love the season of Lent. The bare trees. Bleak weather. Diving into the Scriptures. Stripping away all that is extra and committing to give more of self. Okay, “love” might not be the right word. But I know I need Lent.bible

It is a nice reminder of how weak I am. I make grand commitments and forget them within a few days. Sometimes I think the less things I decide to do, the better chance I have at success. But that’s not true, either.

So I take it day by day, trying again to remember my pledges to prayer, sacrifice, and charity. And trying to be spontaneous, too, open to the little trials and opportunities God sends my way.

There are so many opportunities in the family: finding ways to make others happy, turning the other cheek, working without grumbling . . . Or how about doing something you really don’t want to do, like cleaning and organizing parts of the house that have been forgotten?nonfiction

When I fail, I’m motivated to get back up because I know that through prayer and self-denial, God changes me. He turns me away from selfishness and worldly pursuits and back to Him!

I also think of Lent as a time to redouble my efforts to help the suffering souls. They can’t pray for themselves. But we can pray for them!

If you are looking for something to read this Lent, this is a good nonfiction. Hungry Souls by Gerard Van Den Aardweg

How is your Lent coming along? Are you sticking to your sacrifices and prayer commitments? How many times do you forget and have to start over?

Advertisements

The Terrible Wonderful Family

Standard

I’ve finished homeschooling and lunch and now I’m trying to write. My son who has autism is asking me for the umpteenth time if we’re going bowling on Wednesday. I’ve answered him umpteen times, and it’s on his all of calendars—yes, he has several. But he wants to be sure. I try not to lose patience . . . and my mind.mobile-842814_1280

One of my other boys, who shall remain nameless, has forgotten to do the chore I asked him to do several times before. Now he’s arguing about it. It’s the same every day. I suppose he has other things on his mind, like schoolwork and games. Priorities are not the same for teenagers and adults.

I’ve put off making dinner because I’ve been trying to chisel a few other tasks off my list. When I look at the time I realize my husband is about to come home and he’s usually starving. I wonder what I can throw together quickly.

Another bill came in the mail, something unexpected. My husband won’t be happy. He just told me we have no money until next payday.

raffaello-sanzio-67751_1280

Raffaello Sanzio

I love my family. I love being in a family. But trials come with family life.

I am always amazed that God the Father sent His Son to earth through the family. God could’ve chosen to come into the world in any way He wanted: riding on a cloud with thunder and lightning, or simply appearing everywhere all at once . .  . He’s God. He can do anything.

But He chose route of the family.

Because he came via family, Jesus experienced the very things we experience, from the first moment of human life as a zygote to the boring everyday happenings of daily life. He learned how to crawl and walk and talk. I bet he couldn’t wait until he was old enough to work side by side with Joseph, his foster father, measuring and sanding and sawing wood . . . the Creator of the universe making things with His hands.

He also faced trials and sufferings, like we all do in the family. While the Scriptures don’t moon-1108007_1280give us much, our imaginations and life experiences can fill in some of the blanks. What trials and sufferings did the Holy Family experience? What were their relatives like? Did Jesus base any of his parables on relatives or neighbors? Like maybe that neighbor banging on the door at midnight so he could get some bread for company? At least wait until the sun comes up, man!

One thing’s for certain, Jesus experienced the heart-wrenching death of a loved one: his foster father. And after Saint Joseph died, Jesus took on more family responsibility . . . until the day His Blessed Mother pretty much threw Him out of the house.

Okay, I’m sure it wasn’t like that. But when she told the waiters at the wedding of Cana to “Do whatever he tells you” she knew that she was telling Jesus to perform His first public miracle. After that, Jesus went on the road, preaching and healing and preparing for His final sacrifice—at which point His Mother would have her greatest sorrow, standing at the foot of the cross.

Through all the joys and sufferings, hard work and rewards, trials, blessings, and sacrifices, families are special. We all begin in the family. It is within the family that we are meant to experience love and belonging. Here we learn to care for others and to accept responsibilities.

Throughout history, strong families have been the sign and foundation of strong societies. But when the Son of God stepped into the family, He turned it into so much more. There is something almost mystical now about the family unit.

I don’t know what I’d do without my wonderful husband who supports and encourages me and who is the best friend I’ve ever had. Or without my twelve-year-old who still likes when I read to him and who insists I tuck him in. Or my son with autism who has the biggest heart of any of us and who teaches us by example how to befriend anyone. Or my son who challenges me to look deeper into the person I’ve become and the person I want to be. They bring out the worst and the best in me. But I absolutely love my family, and I love being in a family. And I believe that the family unit is more important than we realize.

It grieves me 9780996816809to see the breakdown of the family in our society and in the world. And it makes me wonder: What would society look like without the family unit? How important are families to a stable society? These thoughts led me to write my dystopian trilogy, Chasing Liberty. In the bleak future in my books, the family has been eradicated so that the government can control everything. What do you think society would look like then? What little things go on today that chisel away at our strong family units? Is this something we should be worried about? How long does it take for a culture to change…for good or for bad?

 

If you also think about these things, please share your thoughts in the comments.