If you should see..

… my younger daughter, Sarah, tell her I love her and am praying especially for her on her 25th birthday.

She was born on October 20, 1991, a week before my 24th birthday, and as I held her in my arms after a long, hard, arduous labor, all I could think was how untenable was Dan’s and my plans to stop with only two children. holding that newborn in my arms was a joy and a contentment that I couldn’t just tell God I wouldn’t do any more.

He had other plans. I never had more children, one of my great sorrows. But Christy and Sarah have more than made up for the disappointment.

Whenever I am tempted to think I would like to go back in time and change my decision to marry their dad, I think of them, and I’d gladly do it all again. They make it all worthwhile.

Their existence justifies mine.

Two wonderful books

Browsing in the local library a couple of months ago, I found a wonderful book, A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit. Wendy writes about her discovery of an old-fashioned religiously-based modesty and the consequences of immodesty on our culture — and particularly on women.

It’s a book I recommend most enthusiastically. I am also happy to report that pre-publication sales are underway for Wendy’s new book: Girls Gone Mild: Young Girls Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to be Good

You’ll also enjoy checking out Wendy’s blog.

Can an earnest Catholic woman FLIRT?

Okay, I’m not so sure I’ve ever really done a lot of flirting. My parents’ voices personalize my superego, and a very efficient job it has done of keeping me meek and restrained over the years. But it took me aback when, back in May, a friend asked me just who I was flirting with these days. Or maybe it was “how many?” he asked.

Did I say “taken aback”? My dears, my friend is a 6′ tall good-looking Catholic gentleman… it embarrassed the everliving daylights out of me!

So… I began to do some heavy evaluating.

Actually, this predates the query posed by my friend. For a little less than a year now, I’ve been in the midst of a major paradigm shift (more on that some other time). I have been holding past relationships up to the Light of the holiest of Christian ideals, ideals explained and illuminated in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and been grieved by the compromises I’ve been willing to make over the years.

I’ve also found myself brought back to myself, to my right mind, after years of carelessness and compromise of long-ago ideals. Consequently, I’ve been motivated to evaluate and modify my behavior so that my future life might be of a different, superior quality than the past.

Simultaneously with the attitude change, I’ve found myself being shown, through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, memories of conversations that had brought about or contributed to those compromised relationships. Grievously painful, that.

My conclusions are still in process of being fully formed, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

*I have come to believe that flirting is not about friendship or about the cultivation of wholesome comraderie, but is, rather, about sex. It addresses, seeks to appeal to, that more carnal base of operations whereby men and women are superficially attracted to one another.

*If my friend and brother takes himself to “the BOX” (i.e., Confession) and one of the things he has to bring before God is the sin of carnal thoughts…
and if those carnal thoughts found their point of entry into his mind through some immodest or suggestive comment I’ve made — or if he is not Catholic but still sins, knowingly or not, in consequence of my provocation —
… then I’m guilty of sinning against my brother, to whom I ought to be devoted to help attain Heaven.

*I also have bought into a worldly view of relationships, particularly dating and courtship relationships, or of attracting and inviting relationships, that I’m no longer complacent cannot be in violation of what I believe as a Christian.

So, for the time being:

I renounce flirting. I’m going to do some more evaluating of the topic and general, and my habits in particular.

Let me know what you think, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Counting blessings…

There are times when I feel like a salmon trying to get upstream, pushing against vigorous, if not overwhelming, currents of emotion and circumstance that seem determined to leave me stranded and dying where I sit. It’s too easy to look at the negatives and to become entrapped in hopelessness and despair, or at least despondancy.

Counting blessings may seem like Pollyanna’s game, but it is a decent antidote. I know it from experience.

One of my journals, a couple of years ago, I began with the sole intention of recording daily blessings. It was a bad patch, my nerves were raw… I felt about to go under for the third time. Then I watched through my bedroom window as a bluebird lighted on the ground outside. The sunlight catching the blue and rose of his breast and face gave me a momentary sense of being transported beyond myself —

I felt as if God were sending me a brief message of cheer and hope.

I realized that there are many such moments in each day, certainly each week, that I owed Him to pay attention to. I began jotting them down:

The bluebird. A small herd of deer in my yard when I returned from choir practice. The cloud arrangements. The smell of fresh-plowed earth; the smell of same earth with raindrops penetrating it. The butterflies flocking around the buddleia. The quail I watched for over an hour from the kitchen window – positioned under the front-yard dogwood, thrusting his little chest and chin out as he called “Bob-WHITE!” The Canadian geese honking overhead as they approached Hawthorne’s pond. The hawk circling the field. A hug from a friend. The fragrance of incense during Mass…

So many ways God tells us He loves us and has not abandoned us!

and Life AFTER

Discovering your husband or ex-husband is gay really isn’t the end of the world. It only feels that way for a substantial period of time.

We all deal with it in our own way (some ways healthier than others). I remarried after eleven years, an event I wish I could delete from my history as much for its brevity as for its horrific wrongness. But at least he was straight! (which is one of two reasons I got involved with him in the first place, the other being that he really enjoyed talking to me)

I’ve had relationships with men that were far from healthy, but thankfully, with only one exception, an integrity was maintained throughout that allows us to still be friends in varying degrees.

I learned something in that process — no I learned a lot of things, beginning with

1) I really like being a woman, and I’m glad God made me one.
2) I really like being me!
3) Mom was right: I didn’t amount to a hill of beans. I amounted, am amounting, to a great deal more.
4) Dan was right: I am a “trophy.”
5) My own instincts are most of the time spot on, worth paying attention to — at the very least investigating.
6) God brings dignity and beauty to each of our lives – and if we keep an inner ear tuned to learn His voice, we will see His gifts to us.
7) Before we can be honest with others, we have to have the courage to be fundamentally honest with ourselves.
8) Anger is part of the process. It’s not the defining part, or the terminal part. It just sometimes feels that way.
9) Soul companionship is more memorable, more re-live-able, than the most mind-blowing sex.
10) I’m just getting started.

Let it be known…

I got an email a little while ago from a friend down under — that’s Australia, by the way — urging me to be gentler in my treatment of Dan. He may not have had the choice, she said…

I believe the beautiful boy I used to love was denied his choice by age 14 when the selfish bastard seduced him. Maybe there was even a selfish bastard before the one I knew about.

Just what culpability Dan faces for his homosexuality is known only to God, Who is a just God as well as a merciful One, Who alone has the true and full knowledge and perfect understanding of all the factors that cause us to do the things we do.

I don’t believe Dan will get off scott free simply because of some verbal assent of Who Jesus Is; salvation requires more of us in return to His sacrifice. But I trust God to be fair — to Dan, and to me.

I do blame Dan for what has happened since. Maybe that’s uncharitable, maybe it’s unfair. But it’s the way I see it, and it’s the way I’m calling it.

Hey, Dan — an open letter to the Ex-

Dear Dan,
Since Beth has so graciously published me in the Greensboring blog (where do people hang out, if they think Greensboro is boring? They ought to move further south!) I have some hopes that you might recognize and check this blog out. If you do —

I am ready to file for the ecclesiastical nullity procedure in the Church. I was Confirmed in November, 2002 — my conversion story is very early in the archives of this blog. You and I discussed this nullity idea several years ago, when I first began exploring converting, I think you’ll remember, and you offered no objections at that time. I need a current address for you, so the Tribunal can contact you and offer you the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

I assume you likely will prefer not to participate; however, if you tell the tribunal rep that, yes, you’re gay, you’re out, and it’s not something we discussed before we were married, then that’s the end of it, I’m free in the eyes of the Church to date, marry, get on with my life. If you choose not to participate or to cooperate with the tribunal rep, then they’ll come back to me asking for witnesses: family, friends, anyone who can give a statement about our marriage, our lives now, etc. I’d have to name your parents, your siblings, others… and I’d rather not — not so much to protect you as to protect them. I know Richard and Lila are elderly and have been plagued with poor health in recent years. Remembering Lila, I dare say it would upset her terribly, and she’d come back and harp at you about it.

I hope you’ll be willing to cooperate. I really, really want this.

Our older daughter told me next to last time I saw her that you’re living with a partner now. I hope the life you have chosen for yourself is everything you were promised it would be. My life is quiet and I am happy, really, in just about every way imaginable.

Give the girls my love. Remember to keep a generous portion for yourself. I get angry, resentful (I am adept at understatement, you see)… but I do remember, don’t forget, the boy I used to love… who was my hero in defending me against Mother… who held me and cried with me when I had the miscarriage… who held me and shared the awe (despite the brutal nausea) of my being pregnant… who helped me get through difficult and frightening labors… who helped me first to know the Lord and so paved the way for the Faith I now find such joy in… my friend.

There are some people, friends, from the old days you might want updates on if you want to contact me.

You know how to reach me — the email address Judy had for you is now closed, of course (as I suspect you know) — I still am at the same address and phone number I’ve been at for 12+ years now. Email is the most consistent way to reach me, though. Judy can give that to you, of course. I have no contact with Deann and won’t use her as an intermediary.

Take care.