Life moves pretty fast.

Life moves pretty fast.

busy sidewalk

 

As noted 20th-century philosopher Ferris Bueller remarked, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be older. My Mom would say, “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, Heather. Enjoy where you are now.” Despite her sage advice, I was never content being whatever age I happened to be.

To my naive mind, if I could just be 5, or 9, or 18 — I could go to school with the big kids, or stay up later to finish that compelling novel or eat cake for dinner because I was old enough to make my own choices.

I guess you’d say I wasn’t a “bloom where you’re planted” sort of youngster. If I had a dollar for every time I said or thought “I’m bored,” in my youth ….

Read the rest here

Photo credit: Mauro Mora // unsplash

Share
It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

It’s Halloween. Again. [insert eyeroll emoji here]

Okay – I admit (yet again) – I’m a big “bah humbug” Halloween All Hallow’s Eve person. Some have wondered why I don’t particularly care for Halloween, so I decided today was as good as any to set the record straight. To clarify:

  • I am not anti-dressing up in costumes. I had a dress-up box as a kid and I wore the heck out of that stuff.all-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-papa
  • I am not anti-creativity.
  • I am not anti-fun. (Hello.)
  • I am not the world’s most uptight, protective parent. Truly. I’m not going to provide evidence to this assertion here, but trust me when I tell you this is not the case.
  • I am not anti-treats, although I don’t want my kids’ teeth to rot out of their heads nor do I want them to develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • I am not even anti-trick-or-treating. More on that later.

What I am is this:

A caring, concerned Mom of young, impressionable souls who doesn’t want her kids subjected to things that could disturb their peace and desensitize their spirits in the name of “fun.”
all-hallows-eve-2016-pumpkin-patch all-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-pumpkin

I am against:

  • evil
  • sin
  • fear, and
  • anything that makes light of these works of the enemy
  • anything that leads my kids into those works of the enemy

I’ve read my dear friend Rebecca’s post about protecting our kids, and I agree with her – I don’t think a zone of perfect safety exists. I mean, who wants to protect one’s kids to the point that they can’t survive in the real world? It’s our job to help our kids to develop and form their consciences and practical skills so they can, among other things, navigate life out in the big, amazing world beyond the doors to our homes.

Still, there ain’t no way you’re going to convince me that I must – or even should – at least once a year, knowingly subject my progeny to the creepy, gory, scary, gross, and sometimes truly frightening stuff that can be easily stumbled upon Halloween night. Perhaps you disagree. And that’s fine. You and I can agree to disagree, and I’ll still be your friend.

In fact, if you’re my husband, I will still be married to you. More on that later.

Oh, lighten up, Heather. It’s just good, clean fun.
all-hallows-eve-2011-elise-all-saints-massall-hallows-eve-2015-gigi-and-caramel-applesall-hallows-even-2011-ava-and-elise-pumpkins

Sure. I agree: Activities surrounding All Hallow’s Eve can wholesome, and even good. We’ve participated in some really lovely Harvest parties, Trunk or Treat activities, and All Souls’ Day Masses with the kids dressed up as their favorite saint. But some things can also scare the pee out of a kid, and give them nightmares for a good, long while. Ask me how I know. Still sound like “fun?” More importantly, do I, as a Christian Mom, need to expose my younger or more spiritually sensitive kids to things resembling the demonic in a non-controlled environment just because society tells me it’s no big deal?

All the nope.

Perhaps what it boils down to, for me at least, is this: Hell is real. Some people will go there. Satan is real. Some people serve his agenda. Demons are real. Some people are bothered by genuine demonic influence. Evil is real. All one has to do is take a quick look around to realize this is true. I’m not too keen on watering things down to the point where we are unable to identify and avoid evil.

Now – and I promise – my thoughts about Halloween are not (NOT!) a judgement on parents who allow their kids to go trick-or-treating, or to participate in haunted houses, haunted corn mazes, and the like. You are the parent of your children. You are in charge. You know your kids. You know what they can handle. You get to develop your own family culture, just like we as parents do. My preference, as a Mom, is to try to err on the side of Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

all-hallows-eve-kids-praying

Okay. So now you hopefully (even if you don’t agree) understand what I think about Halloween and why I feel the way I do. If you still disagree with me, you aren’t alone.

Lo these many moons ago, when I still felt like I wanted my children to avoid Halloween altogether, my husband asked me to consider allowing them to go trick-or-treating in select locations. I finally, reluctantly agreed – with one caveat: If they were going to go trick-or-treating, the Renshaw kids were going to dress up as Saints or Biblical characters. End of story. Renshaw kids are going to be lights in the world. Period. My husband finally, reluctantly agreed to my terms.St. Francis of Assisi

all-hallows-even-2012 all-hallows-even-2015-noah-with-others all-hallows-eve-2015-kolbe

Our alliance has lasted, more or less, for the past 13 years. Yes, there were times when I grew weary of fighting the battle (“Why can’t we wear other costumes? No one else dresses up like a saint!”) and years when we had babies and concocting an awesome saint costume was too much to deal with. We weren’t always a united front. But we soldiered on. Church Militant, and all that.

And now we come to this year.

Once the end of September hit, as sure as Bob’s your uncle, the kids began asking the questions – and complaining – about Halloween. Again. For about the 11th year in a row. And you know what? I stepped aside. I deferred to my husband’s judgment as spiritual Head of our home. He discerned it was okay for our children to dress in non-saint / non-Biblical character costumes for Halloween, so long as they weren’t dressing up as something scary/gory/evil, etc. And I finally, reluctantly agreed.

This year, we have an extraordinarily excited Captain America, Rapunzel, Iron Man, Robin Hood, and Piper McLean of Percy Jackson fame.

all-hallows-eve-2016-group

And, while their costumes aren’t exactly my preference, I’ll be saying a covering prayer over each of them, putting blessed salt in their pockets and holy water on their foreheads as I usually do, and walking around the neighborhood with them, rosary in hand. I even bought a little something of my own to wear for the occasion, because, while I may have lost this battle, I sure as heck ain’t ever gonna concede the war.

all-hallows-eve-2016-heather-hoodieall-hallows-eve-2016-featured-imageBe safe out there, y’all. God bless,
heather

 

 

 

Share
Thanksgiving for Advent

Thanksgiving for Advent

This Advent has been … odd. Is that the right word? Odd? Yes. Sure. Let’s go with it.

It was Thanksgiving one day, then I turned around for a second, and WOOSH! – it was the first Sunday of Advent! What in the actual heck?

I ascribe at least some of my radical disorientation to being displaced. Traveling away from home over the holidays will do that to you, unless you are super organized and have everything for the impending holiday season located, unpacked, and situated just so before you leave so it’s all waiting for you upon your return.

If you are a human who actually does that, I salute you.

I am not one of those humans.

I am grateful we only forgot my contact lens case, my glasses, and all of the 4-year-old’s pants at home.

But I digress.

Our family traveled for a good chunk of time over snowy mountains and through forests and desert on Thanksgiving day to celebrate with my family. It was a long drive with lots of excited (read: loud and obnoxious) kids over some precarious roads, but the trip wasn’t the worst ever.

Here (below) are most of us on the way out of Dodge. See how we’re all (mostly) smiling? That lasted about another 20 minutes or so. My husband is trying to make the sign for “turkey” with his non-driving hand. I think.

Renshaws on the road

The most precarious part of our journey wasn’t over the mountain itself, but through the small towns with super icy roads once we reached the other side. Thank God for studded tires!

Snowy

Look! Pretty fake stuff at my Mom and Dad’s house!

Trukey

I think it was -9 degrees on Black Friday. Holy brrrrr, Batman!

Snowy again

Something I wasn’t expecting to see (check out the date on this bad boy) at a place I wasn’t expecting to be (for four hours) with my son on Black Friday. #urgentcare #misnomer

Urgent care

Thank You, Lord (and Mom and Dad!) for date night with my main dude. It was very, very, very, very, very, very, very (infinity) much needed.

Date night

Sir K with his tube. For a Southern-born lad, he handled the freezing temps pretty well. For the first 20 minutes.

K with tube

The loud and rowdy cousin table at dinner Saturday night … we’re missing a few in frame, but don’t worry. We knew exactly where they were. Mostly.

Cousin table at dinner

And, just like that, Advent was here.

St. Thomas

And then we drove back through the (not-quite-as) icy small town roads, through the desert, through the forests, over the mountains, and finally back home on the first Sunday of Advent.

Despite being pretty bone tired from our the drive, we began dutifully digging through the bin in the garage marked “Advent,” hoping to at least find our calendar and wreath for that first evening.

A funny thing happens when you move cross-country twice in under three years with a big family and lots on your mind, apparently. Things get displaced. Or worse.

Here’s the sad excuse for an Advent wreath I found in my Advent bin in the garage. Apparently, candles don’t take too well to lots and lots and lots of changes in heat.

Advent wreath

I finally found the calendar, too, about ten boxes later. It was NOT, I repeat, NOT in the Advent bin. NBD. #rageface #whyGodwhyface

The thought crossed my mind, and it wasn’t the first time, either: “If only I could get more organized, Lord. Then I’d have a peaceful, holy Advent, and I’d be ready for Christmas.

Last Monday was spent kvetching about my presentation the next night at my old parish. You know that whole Gospel passage about a prophet not being welcomed in his own home? Yeah. That Scripture passage had gotten in my head and wouldn’t leave me in peace and I was, frankly, freaking me the freak out. I shared my specific sentiments with a priest friend, who wrote back: “Well, by all means, then, I will pray for you.”

It turns out his prayers (and those of other dear friends in the know) reached God’s ears and were answered. By no means a flawless talk, it was, nevertheless, not too shabby. The crowd was smaller than expected but quite attentive and very receptive, which was wonderful.

So, fast forward one talk and several days of more real life throughout the rest of the week later, and WOOSH! – it’s the second Sunday of Advent.

Holy moly.

I wrote a little more about what – or, rather whom – might be attempting to keep us away from where we should be this Advent for CatholicMom.com. The article was borne of a great deal of inner turmoil – I just talked about this very topic on Tuesday night! Why can’t I just get the words out on the page?? – and I hope it speaks to someone who is looking toward the manger this Advent season but is having a hard time nonetheless.

You’re not alone.

Pax,

heather

Share