As I told you on Thursday, I don’t really feel like writing. *sigh* I’ll get there, when I get there. Reading however, that’s another story. And reading I have been doing – so let me tell you about it right now.
As a direct result of reading, today I will write, as the blog tour for Random MOMents of Grace (from Loyola Press),by Ginny Kubitz Moyer stops here, which I am very excited about!
When I discovered Ginny’s blog, Random Acts of Momness, I was hooked, and I’ve been a near daily visitor for a couple of years now. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s very insightful, and I think what I love best is how she reveals such small-s-sacrament moments of grace with such beauty and ease.
Anyway, let me offer this very short review… I loved the book. Rather than tell you why I loved it, I simply recommend it very highly. If you read this book, or take a look at Ginny’s blog, you will understand. While the blog, and the book flow forth from Ginny’s Catholic motherhood, I can promise you, neither the blog nor the book exclude anyone. So don’t let that keep you from this treasure.
I would like you to know Ginny a bit better, so take a look right here…
You describe parenting as the “ultimate spiritual workout.” What are some “training tips” that you might offer expectant moms about to begin this journey?
Most pregnancy books give you lots of advice about what to expect, post-baby. They tell you that your body will change, your sleep patterns will change, your love life will change – but they don’t tell you that your spiritual life will change, too. Those changes can be challenging (less time for prayer/meditation, noisy plastic toys constantly underfoot), and yet parenting has deepened my faith life in ways I could not have anticipated. Since having kids, I understand the love of God better than ever before. I’ve gained an entirely new appreciation for what it means to be part of a community. Formerly fuzzy concepts like grace are much more concrete to me now.
Any time we leave our comfort zones, we grow. Motherhood is all about leaving one’s comfort zones. It puts you into situations that are not exactly enjoyable (being stuck overnight in the airport with a nine-month-old baby is not anyone’s idea of a good time – don’t ask me how I know this), but it also brings you moments of astonishing joy and beauty. I’m not sure you can prepare for all this, exactly; you can only embrace it. And so I’d tell an expectant mother that she’s in for a wild ride … but a transformative one.
In a chapter called “The Good and The Bad,” you write beautifully about how both exist in our lives. Do you typically feel aware of the necessity of both as you live through those moments? (I can’t help but think of the short span between Matthew telling you that he loves you, and his journey to the time out place that almost immediately followed, as I ask this.)
In any bad moment of life as a parent (the stomach flu, the tantrum, the cross-country-flight-with-rambunctious-kids) I think we all just want to get past it as quickly as possible. But at the end of the day, when I think back over the day’s experiences, I can often see that the bad moments fit into a larger narrative, so to speak. I can see how they are a part of life as a mom, but they are not the sum total of my parenting experiences. That makes them easier to accept, somehow.
I think this is why an evening’s moment of reflection is so useful. When we step back and look at the day, we can see not just the icky parts, but also the moments of grace that were present. And the more you identify these moments of grace after the fact, the more it trains you to become aware of them in real time, as they are happening. I can’t do that all the time, but I am getting better.
Maintaining a life of faith that includes attendance at church is one of the most difficult things for young families to do. What would you say to a mom of young kids who would love to be able to live that way, but feels too time and stress challenged to do so?
I’d say just pack up the kids and go, and let yourself be open to whatever you are able to absorb of the service, even if it doesn’t feel like much. Honestly, it’s hard to recall the last time I could focus on the entire Gospel. The moment the priest starts the homily, one of the boys invariably has to use the potty; it’s like a Pavlovian response. But even when I miss what feels like ninety percent of the service, it’s not a wasted experience. Certain words or phrases will leap out at me, even while trying to contain two squirrelly kids, and sometimes that word or phrase is just what I need.
Also, as a Catholic, I love the fact that even when I am utterly distracted by the boys and miss the readings and the Gospel and the homily and the creed, I still have the Eucharist. Walking down that aisle and tasting the body of Christ is a moment of total, pure involvement. That action breaks through all the distraction and focuses me on the relationship that is the very heart of my faith. Because of that, every Mass – even the ones where the kids are so active that I wonder why I came in the first place – is utterly worth it.
Franciscan priest and author Richard Rohr has said that faith has to be “caught and not taught.” How do you think that a life of faith is transmitted to the next generation?
Well, I’m a teacher by trade, so I can’t not teach my kids. ☺ But I do think that so much of faith is about the example you see around you, in your own family. If someone asked your child, “Does your mom like being Catholic?” (or Presbyterian, or Jewish, or Mormon, or whatever), what would your child say? And if you think your child might not be able to answer “yes,” what can you do to change that? I think this is a very useful question to ponder.
You love to garden; how is gardening a mirror of grace in your journey as a mother, a writer, a woman of faith?
Gardening is so elemental, isn’t it? – it’s about connecting with what is most basic and important in life. In our technology-driven world, I think this is more necessary than ever. I remember one summer afternoon when I was feeling foggy and edgy from being online too much. I stopped and went outside and began to deadhead the lavender bushes, and it was like instant renewal. It was fabulous.
Also, gardening is not something that most of us instinctively know how to do. There’s a learning curve of figuring out which plants can’t do well in the shade, how much watering is enough, etc. Often, we can’t do it without the advice of someone who is more experienced than we are (in my case, my garden-loving mom and grandma.)
If you ask me, that makes it a pretty good metaphor for parenting. Maybe some women take their first baby home from the hospital and feel totally confident about their new role. I was petrified. Enter my mom, who was a lifesaver during those first few confusing and exhausting weeks.
And gardening is all about nurturing new life, helping it flourish, and making the world more beautiful by your efforts. When you stop to think about it, parenting is, too. They both require creativity, faith, and perseverance … and they show us that grace is all around us, if we take a moment to look for it.
Ginny is a very talented and truly wonderful person, so I am glad that you got to know her a little. Her words really come from the heart. That to me makes this book a very special one.
If my words and that endorsement still have not influenced you, then our last stop is the excerpt.You just click on that little PDF file below and you will get a real treat – Mom does always come back after a nap and a snack, that is for certain!
I hope that you have enjoyed what you’ve heard about here, whether or not, you don’t always feel like you “fit” into the category. Like any good journey of faith, in the end, all are truly and beautifully welcome. Love and grace are present for all if we find them in life all around us, as Ginny has so richly done in this book.
And there is nothing random about that!