I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont...

I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here
Running Toward Happiness

Running Toward Happiness

Running is fast becoming a “thing” in our family this year.  After years and years I have started running again and what used to be something very solitary for me has become something quite different as my four oldest sons begin running too.

So as summer has hit, most mornings I am out with at least a few of the boys while one or two of the older boys keep watch over the little ones as they sleep.  What a change from my norm of stroller walks!  I laugh at life and its twists and turns as I realize it only took fourteen years to get to this point.  Running with my sons is such a pure joy it is truly beyond words.

And that makes me think of happiness and how elusive it can be.  As a twenty something, before children and before I met my husband Kevin, happiness and finding myself was my goal.  Each second counted, was I happy in this moment?  What things could I do/what experiences/job/activities/deep thoughts brought me to that place of happy?  I analyzed my life, stepped out brazenly into new experiences, wrote poetry about it, and reflected, reflected, reflected.  Happiness was supposed to happen now, fast, in the moment.

It wasn’t till I got “elbow deep into the muck of the world” and life was no longer all about me that I started actually getting somewhere.  Children have a natural way of ripping off that self involved band-aid.  As a new mom life was painful.  I was just surviving, with twinklings of exhausted joy mixed in.

But motherhood has taught me to put one foot in front of the other literally.  My happiness is of the fourteen year variety.  Fourteen years of letting go of everything I thought I wanted to be to one day (during vacation at my dad’s last week) go running on the beach surrounded by sons I never imagined, singing the theme to Chariots of Fire, the movie we had watched as a family the month before.  -It was pure bliss.

And from that moment of bliss, it is back again to one foot in front of the other.

After our run this morning I sat perched in my upstairs bedroom listening to loud decisively angry yelling break the early morning quiet and then screams of pain.  At first I am irritated that the two boys I ran with this morning may wake the little ones who are still asleep, but I tamp down the irritation, say a little prayer to remain calm and head downstairs to check on everyone and help parse this trouble.  Thankfully instead of yelling about how they were impeding upon my time and their other brothers sleep (what I really wanted to do), I send the offending kicker out to take care of the recycling and I bring the yeller upstairs to talk.  We say a decade of the rosary together, I feel the grace of Jesus through praying with Mary calm him, and give me peace.  Afterwards we talk about what happened and what he could have done to have helped diffuse the situation. He  apologizes to his brother (who had already quickly apologized for the kick moments after it happened) and we move on.

I didn’t lose my temper, I gave my sons what they needed.  I wasn’t selfish.

My husband is working on the cleaning crew at our local elementary school for the summer.  Up at 5:30 this morning and a little grumpy after I barrage him with too many questions for his foggy morning brain to handle he works steadily to get himself out the door.  My “go to” in this sort of situation is to get irritated by his grumpiness, continually convince him with my words that he shouldn’t be grumpy, and then slowly let self righteousness creep in and without consciously meaning to, lead us into an argument.  Instead, this morning, by the grace of God, I let go of how his grumpiness affects me and instead of bringing on a fight, offer to make him some coffee, even though I really don’t feel like doing it.  When it is time for him to go I give him a kiss, from my heart thank him for going to work for us, and wish him a great day.

This is not how I thought happiness would look, small moments of overcoming my selfishness, and bliss when I least expect it.

I am finding contentment in the soft clap clapping of foot in front of foot in front of foot on this old rocky road of life that we are all called to travel.  It’s humbling this sort of running that isn’t so much about winning and catching happiness in all its immediate fruit as it is about slowing down when I’m winded, sprinting when I can, even walking when necessary, but always moving steadily and faithfully forward to the finish line.

Love to you all from the dusty back roads of Vermont,




Little Spiders and Paying a Call…

It is spring and our kids schedules seem to be in overdrive.  I can’t even think more than 7 days into our calendar without feeling anxiety, so for better or worse, I am just going day to day to day and moment to moment.

Even within all this busy Jesus has been calling me.  Passing our church after dropping a couple of sons off at track practice, I feel it, a little nudge that could so easily be brushed aside.  Without thinking too hard I put on the directional and park.  I try the little side door of our church and expect it to be locked, but instead it eases breezily open and I go in and sit with him.

Our tabernacle is in a little room/chapel off the side of the main church. The front of the tabernacle has a design of loaves of bread in a basket with two fishes set in relief and it has a keyed lock where the door opens to place the Eucharist in.  There is a wooden kneeler placed in front of the tabernacle for people to kneel at and pray, that’s my spot.

I’m not sure how it got past me, but as a child and young adult I really never understood that Catholics actually and truly believed that Jesus was made present in that little wafer of flat bread (passover bread) when it is consecrated during the Mass.  It wasn’t till son number one was making his First Communion and I attended an information night that it smacked me in the face.  The Director of Religious Education said unwaveringly that the Eucharist was Jesus, no longer just a piece of bread and certainly not just a symbol.  I remember feeling taken aback and yes even thought she was a bit foolish and naive saying/believing something like that.

That was 7 years ago now… and here I am stopping by for a chat with Jesus in that little wafer…

…AND writing about it.

A couple of times a week 3 year old ~G. gets services (speech, OT, PT) at our elementary school.  He’s only there for about 45 minutes, so I usually just take a walk with ~P in his stroller during that time.  This week though, I’ve been hearing the call and head down the street to our church instead.  I leave the stroller by the door, put 18 month old ~P in a back pack carrier and head in.  I kneel and pray/chat/thank and ~P babbles on my back.  It’s nice.

Light streams in across the floor in front of the tabernacle through a green window. Today I am watching the light as it brightens and darkens with the ebb and flow of the clouds.  It is like a heart beat.  I pour out my prayers to my God.  I talk to him about the things weighing on my heart and pray for the wellness of people I know who are sick or struggling, for peace in their storms, thanksgiving for blessings, help with my mothering, and on.  It’s all very informal, just talking, what comes to mind.

As I stare at the rug and the beautiful light, I see a very clear dark spot.  I think at first that maybe there is something on my glasses.  Then I realize what it is.  It is  on the edge of the hand rest of the wooden kneeler.  It is a very small spider.

Ha, I think, how funny.

Then Jesus in his very Jesus-ee way makes the connection for me.  It’s not just a very small spider, it’s an “Itsy- Bitsy- Spider”.

And cue the song in my head…

The spider goes up the water spout, the rain washes him out, the sun dries up all the rain, and there goes the spider climbing up again.  And as I sing the song in my head, I watch this tiny spider in real life HD climb this invisible string right before my eyes, before Jesus.  It climbs and climbs, it’s teeny tiny legs, sure and certain.  And my God speaks to me in the language of my current life with little ones.

Yes the rain is going to come, and yes it will feel like it has washed you away, but I will always be here to dry you off and give you strength to climb again.

Love to you all from the often sopping wet trenches,




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