It’s a only a few days into Lent, and those first few have felt very, well, … “lentish” ( if I can claim that as a new word for the season). After an especially long Ash Wednesday, full of awkward conversations, multiple quarrels to break up amongst the kiddos, and suddenly wanting to eat my arm off during church (Simply because I’m supposed to fast. Which only makes me want to do the opposite. Because I’m stubborn like that). I was already over LENT.
So when The Dude asked “How much longer ’til Easter?” (In his best “how much longer/road trip” voice), and Sunshine asked “So do you know what we’re going to wear for Easter, Mommy? We’ve gotta get on the ball with that.” I was just about ready to wave the white flag. It was only Ash Wednesday, and it already was looking like this was going to be a loooong 40 days.
miniature juvenile delinquents
My initial reaction to Lent was a big fat, “OY VEY!”
It would be really, really easy for me to regularly and publicly rant this year:
“Haven’t we sacrificed enough?”
“Didn’t I go through enough of this not being able to eat, business with chemo?”
“Can I count losing my hair (and now my nails as they peel off from the beds, as well as a losing a few “locks” of eye lashes these last few weeks… ‘Cuz ya know, ya can’t have it all!) as my lent sacrifice?”
“Chopping off breasts, replacing them with tissue that we chopped off of another area of my bod, and healing from all of that during radiation every day, while sore, etc…. That’s something, huh?”
“…WAAAAAAHH!! WAAAAAHHH WAAAAAHHHH!!….. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH…”
Seriously?! STOP! It’s a slippery sloap. It’s way too easy to go there. Yes, I realize I did go there somewhat by even typing it in satire just now, and I could very easily go on and on about these grievances, adding on atleast double or triple to the “issues” that I and the million other cancer patients out their deal with, or that our sweet families struggle with because of it all. We all could, cancer or not. Correct? But, why? Where will that really get us? The road is too long, and it’s just not worth it. Life is too precious to drag it through the mud for all to see.
I’m pretty sure that if Christ had a cell phone back in the day, he wouldn’t have been texting or updating his Facebook status about how much hungrier or more intense his fast was than anyone else’s during his 40 days in the desert. Don’t think he would’ve moaned and groaned to the 2 other guys on the crosses beside him about “how haaaard” this is. In fact, to the good thief, he said “Today you will be with me in paradise!”
Don’t get me wrong, we all have our moments, and Christ was a listening ear and an open heart. I am beyond thankful for my family and friends who have been listening ears and open hearts for my vent sessions no matter how long or short they may have been. Sheesh! Not so pretty, I know. And I welcome the friend that needs a shoulder to cry on. That’s real. We need that. It’s what we do after that day, that moment. That’s what He taught us. To pick up our cross and keep going.
Isn’t that kinda the lesson learned here in Lent? We make our sacrifices and bear our crosses. “Bear it don’t wear it.” That was a definite fave catch phrase growing up. We bear our cross in memory of and in love of God, not in spite of Him, anyone else, or what could have been. Regardless of the weight or size of our cross, if each morning is another morning that I got to wake up again, then no matter what I have to do to be here, I’m thankful that I’m here to see my family and be with them a little longer. That is a gift.
Sometimes, the cross feels a little too heavy. There are days where I can’t see how I can carry this one and get through the day. Didn’t Jesus get some help? Simon of Syrene stepped in. My family, my friends, they are my Simons. There are days when I feel quiet, not so bubbly or ready to smile joyfully out and about in a group of people. I still carry my cross, but maybe more quietly at home, or running errands by myself, or spending some time in the chapel. Those are my days in the desert. And yet, on other days, I feel God’s grace so strong that, regardless of any pain or discomfort, I want to put on a funny costume and dance around with my kids, go to a Mardi Gras parade, have a dance party, go out on a date with my hubby, or just plain live a normal life, but with a smile on my face. Why not? Those are my days out in the crowds, asking Jesus to give me the grace to do what He did and live a full life, regardless of the cross before Him. He embraced His cross, He embraced His pain, He embraced us. He did it all with supernatural grace. That’s the same “peace and grace that’s BEYOND UNDERSTANDING” that he offers to us.(PHIL 4:6-7) It’s the only way I can explain all of the joy and energy I’ve felt through my discomfort and pain.
All that said, I will remember this during these 40 days:
*Whenever I feel stress or worry about my body during radiation … “This is my body given up for HIM.”
*Whenever I feel like this Lent is just taking too darn long … After 40 days, I get to celebrate with a feast at Easter, many families in other countries won’t get that pleasure. We are so blessed.
*When I think, I probably don’t have to give up anything this year, haven’t I given up enough already? … The rest was not by choice. I can choose to make a daily sacrifice of my own, selecting it for YOU, Lord, who gave me the gift of LIFE to be kicking cancer’s butt and taking names! I won’t forget it each and every day from here on out!
*When my kids keep asking, “How much longer? …Are we there yet?” …. I will stop and pray for the grace to not go all “MADEA” on them and go a little more “Mary-like” (Jesus’ mama) instead.
2 of my many”Mommy” alter egos:
#2- Beverly Goldberg
On the outside, I may look like a not quite 5’4″, blue eyed, soon to be blonde again, lil’ mama… but inside, I feel a lot more like I teeter along walking the line between being “Madea” (could snap at any moment, don’t mess with me; see pic #1 above), and “Bev Goldberg” (obsessed in love with my family, to the point of their own embarrassment; see pic #2 above). So, being more “Mary-like” is definitely a good, healthy balance challenge that I need to work a little more on this season, for sure, far more difficult than giving up my fave “Mike n Ike” candies or other sweets. 😉
Regardless, I got my act together after our Ash Wednesday roller coaster, atleast, as much as I could. I dug into my old bag of tricks from years past and took the bull by the horns. I’m not going to chuck this year off to being one that we “already had enough on our plate so we’re just going to moan and groan and woe is me our way through it” until it drags us to Easter. Nope. Not happening. That’s not how we’ve handled this whole cancer bit, and it’s not how we’re gonna handle this. It’s not all bad. None of this is all gloom and doom. It’s an opportunity. There’s always an opportunity for growth. If anything, that’s what we’ve learned. So, once again, we’ll experience a little growing pains together, and we’ll sacrifice together and offer up each day for a new intention, and welcome the graces and fruits that come from it. We’ll take the opportunity to soak up the graces and prepare out hearts for something better to come. We’ll prepare for new life.
Now about that old bag of tricks? Last year, I wrote a few articles in the New Orleans Catholic Newspaper: The Clarion Herald, each touching on practicle ways for families to bring faith into their homes and lives. See the link below for details in one particular article on how we do what we do during LENT:
Check out a few updated pics below for visuals. I wish I could say I thought of this, but I didn’t. Most ideas come from www.catholicicing.com or fellow bloggers & college buds (www.sometimesmarthaalwaysmary.com) with big fams like mine who post awesome ideas (Winnie, you rock!) on Facebook, etc. (Thanks, y’all!) I rarely get crafty. Creative, yes. Crafty, nope. Frankly, I don’t have the attention span. I assure you, this is all very simple. And the kids can do it. Everyone can be involved in each lent activity or we don’t do it. It’s a family affair. Keeps us all on our toes. My family has kept me on my toes and kept my head in the game for my entire journey through cancer so far. So why would wouldn’t it be the same now, during this 40 day walk of faith? Granted, each kid, at each age level, is involved as much as they can for their age, taking each task as in depth or as simply as they are able. Regardless, they can all participate. It’s a pretty beautiful thing.
So here goes nothing!
That’s how we’ll roll… (fingers crossed, prayers offered), at least, we hope! With a house full-o-kids, I learned a long time ago, my plans are all tentative, all hopeful, all adjustable. We live day-to-day and minute-to-minute. We embraced chaos a long time ago and learned that we ain’t in charge. THANK GOD!!! ‘Cuz I don’t have any idea what I’m really doing. But He does. So… again, thank God for that!
Here’s to all of us to making it through these 40 days and getting the graces we need for an amazing Easter. We’ll all be ready to resurrect from the ashes. Am I right? Can I get an Amen?
No worries, He’s got this,