Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Help Me, How Do I Answer That?

“Mom, why don't we like Obama?”

As I stood in line at the super market and heard my then three-and-a-half year old son's question, I actually said a little prayer that no one else had. It wasn't that we liked Obama or that we didn't like him for the wrong reasons. Oh no. In fact, we, as many other conservative Roman Catholics living in America, cringed at the idea of this man taking office and the consequences it would have for the pre-born (among others, but I digress). I wanted to tell him that we don't like Obama because he supports the murder of babies in their mother's wombs. I wanted to tell him that we don't like Obama because he doesn't think all of God's people deserve the same right to life. I wanted to tell him that there were almost too many reasons to count why we don't like Obama.

Looking around at the faces of the people nearest me at the checkout, I could tell that they had heard the innocent question. Whether or not they realized it was innocent is beyond me. I took a breath, and did what I always do in situations such as this: I prayed. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me in my answer so that I might impart the truth of God's love and honestly answer my child's question. Then, I looked into my son's face and told him why we don't like Obama: “We don't like Obama because he thinks it's OK to hurt babies while they are still inside their mommies tummies and that's just not right.” “Oh,” he responded, and went back to inspecting the items in the cart and on the belt. I could feel the eyes of those other customers on my back, staring me down, or maybe I just imagined that part, (although I doubt it). We payed, collected our groceries, and left the store.

On the walk to our car I replayed the scene in my head a hundred times, trying to think of other ways I could have answered his question that would have been as honest and as respectful of his innocence. I don't think there was another way that would have worked for either of us. I am sure, in fact, that in his young mind, my explanation meant that Obama thought it was just fine to walk up to random pregnant women and punch them in the belly (because this is what my son told me one day while describing how he and his brothers' could not wait to grow up so they could be knights who protected women from Obama, but again, I digress). What I did not do, though, was think of ways I could have avoided the topic altogether. You see, as a mother, I think it's my job to teach my children, to “raise” them up to God in our Faith, and to encourage them to think about things, even things that may be a little beyond their grasps from time to time. This philosophy has gotten me into some uncomfortable situations from time to time, I admit, but it has also helped my children to grow in their Faith by asking about things they don't quite understand and opening the door to conversations I would not otherwise know they wanted to have. So I encourage other parents to keep answering those questions that seem almost unanswerable. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and He will always be there for you. I mean, He was there for me when my toddler asked about Obama, and even when one of my sons asked a question about how, exactly, God puts babies in my belly, in the middle of Sunday Mass. Be open to His inspiration and go with it. It will never lead you astray.

By the by, my answer to the second question was “Love”, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

God is Good

I have a confession to make: I love my life.

Why is this such a big deal? Because, according to most, I should have some serious problems with the ways things are going for me right now. You see, I am a stay-at-home married mother of five, with another on the way, and an unemployed husband. We live in a small apartment with no yard and we won't be buying a house any time soon. Our health insurance situation at the moment is iffy at best and we are barely making ends meet with our unemployment insurance checks. Also, over the last almost two years, my car has mysteriously died once, been broken in to five times, stolen twice, had the battery stolen once (yes, just the battery), and been completely destroyed once (this was all spread out over three separate cars, by the way). So why, you may ask, do I love my life? There is a very simple answer to this: God is good. Let me elaborate on what may seem an overly simplistic answer.

When I think of anything “bad” that has happened in my life recently, I am reminded of the good things that have always followed (and preceded, and coincided with) the bad. In January of 2010, as we were driving down the NJ Turnpike to visit my in-laws, with all of our then four kids in it, our van died. Literally. We were in the left hand lane, going the thing just died. I somehow managed to coast over to the right shoulder without causing any accidents and we called for help. My father-in-law didn't hesitate and came to the rescue. My husband's family was more than gracious in their offers of help and one aunt even gave us her car. Gave it to us. For keeps. After a few months of making two trips for just about everything, my mother-in-law did the unthinkable: she gave us her baby – I mean her van. God is good.

A few months later, in early October of that year, as we lay sleeping peacefully, we had no idea that, around the corner, a couple of teenagers were in the process of stealing our new van. Some attempts had previously been made throughout the summer, but nothing had come of them, until now. Before we had time to report the theft, a police officer showed up at our door, scaring the heck out of me I might add, to ask if we owned a green mini-van. Apparently, the teenagers weren't very good drivers because, after breaking into and hot wiring the van, they crashed the thing into a tree less than four blocks away. No one was seriously injured, and the breaks that were apparently not so great hadn't failed with my children in the car. God is good.

In April, my husband lost his job. With a wife and five children to support. One month after we had spent our savings on a “new” van (see aforementioned car-tastrophes). I was devastated when he told me the news. I didn't know what to do. How could we tell our families and friends? More importantly, how could we buy groceries and pay our rent? We didn't know what else to do, so we did what we could: we prayed. In a short time, our family was pitching in with everything they could to help us through this rough patch we had hit. Soon, even people I had never met before were praying for us and helping us in every way. Have you heard of Regina Doman? Amazing author. Even more amazing person. She learned of my troubles at a homeschool conference and handed me a copy of her book, free, and promised to keep me in her prayers. God, in His goodness, has blessed so abundantly in our time of need that we can not help but repeat, “God is good”.

When I was starting to lose hope, after our latest was stolen and missing for two weeks, I prayed to God to send me a reminder of His goodness, to help me not despair. The very next day, our van was found. What's more, it was barely damaged. Our family, of course, helped us with the cost of the small fixes it required. A couple months later, I learned that there would be an addition to our family, joining us in April of next year. No, I don't have any insurance yet. No, my husband has not miraculously rejoined the workforce. No, I am not crazy. I am overjoyed. I am reminded with each pregnancy of the words of Carl Sandburg that, “A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.” Who am I to argue with Carl Sandburg...or God?

As I sit in my [small] living room typing this, I can hear the [sometimes] light snoring of my five sleeping children from the next room. I think of the baby we haven't met yet, waiting with his or her “Angel in the Waters”. I know that in them, God has given me the greatest blessing I could possibly receive. (In my family, we have a particular knowledge of just how precious those gifts are but that is a story for another time.)  The good always outweighs the bad. God is always good. With all the wonderful blessings He has given me, how could I not love my wonderful, if sometimes trying, life?