Monday, April 30, 2012

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home
are of more importance to the soul
than their simplicity might suggest.” 
- St. Thomas More {emphasis added by moi}

Especially coming off of a long weekend with Luke out of town, I needed to hear these words from St. Thomas More.  {Proof that God speaks through random friends' Facebook statuses :)} 
There were more than a few occasions during the weekend that I lost sight of the supernatural aspect of my Vocation as a wife and mother.  
I lost sight of the big picture.
My vocation is not just about giving baths, making dinners, rocking babies to sleep, sweeping floors, and cleaning up toys--it's about the love {or lack thereof} with which I do those things day in and day out. 
It's  about remembering to offer up the sufferings and hard moments of my day for the sanctification of my children's souls--and my soul. 
It's about remembering that the sacrifices I make for my family can either be made with love or with frustration and resentment.
It's about remembering {in the heat of a very difficult moment} that my child is a Beloved Son of God and, for that reason alone, he never deserves to be yelled at.

As St Thomas More so beautifully suggests, ordinary acts are really not so ordinary at all. 
All day long, with every decision that I make, I am given the opportunity to grow in holiness and in my relationship with the Lord. 
Every decision is a decision whether or not to love.
{I wish I chose to right path more often}.
It is a constant struggle.

I stumble when I see things through the eyes of the world, rather than through the eyes of God.
The world judges by success. 
The world makes me want to be perfect in the eyes of the world.
Yet, in reality, it matters not what the world thinks
God judges by love and demands only faithfulness.
And if I lose sight of that, I lose sight of what is really important
...regardless of how well behaved my children are, how clean my house is
{or how handsome my husband is :)}.

Today is a new day.
Love will be my motivation for everything.
In the words of St. Augustine, 
"Love, and do what you will."
And where was Luke this past weekend, you ask??  Orlando, Florida.  Although the purpose of the trip was to play a soccer game Saturday night, he and his team spent all day Sunday soaking up the sun and the fun at Disney World...while I prayed my way through day three of single parenthood.  Boy, are we happy to have him back at home! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Peace in the Present

So I actually wrote this post on January 4th, 2012 ,but I never got around to publishing it.  But in the months it has been sitting in my draft box, it's message has continuously been relevant in my life, so I figured now is a good time to share it. :) 

I realized about seven years ago that you only get the present once--and then it's gone.
Seven years ago, I was a recent college graduate and had just committed to spending two years working for a non-profit {FOCUS} doing campus ministry.  As much as I wanted to serve God in this way, I was terrified of being asked to serve at a college away from my family in Colorado. 
The day I found out I had to move to New Mexico, I cried. 
And cried. 
And cried. 
I tried to put my heart into that year of missionary work, but in the back of my mind, all I could think about was moving back to Colorado.  Instead of fully living in, and embracing, my present state in life, all I could think about was the future.  It felt like my life was just on hold that year, and when I got back to Colorado I could begin living my life again.  Of course, I had some great experiences, learned a lot, and grew in my relationship with the Lord, but I always had my focus on the future.  

God answered my prayers, and the next year I got placed at a university in Colorado--but not without teaching me a lesson in the process.  That year in New Mexico, God taught me the value of living in the present, embracing the state of life He has placed me in at every moment, and finding true peace and joy there. 
God taught me that the present is precious--that each moment only lasts a moment--and that living for the future means missing out on great {and even not-so-great, yet precious, nonetheless} moments in the present.  I have FAR from perfected that ideal, but I try.

Do you know what I did after that year of campus ministry in Colorado?  I {voluntarily} moved all the way across the country to Charleston, South Carolina!  Something I never would have done a year earlier was suddenly the easiest (and one of the best) decisions I have ever made.  I was free to make that decision because I knew if God was truly calling me to that life, he would provide the grace I needed to survive--and not just survive, but to thrive.  That decision may have involved a certain boy who is now my husband ;) 

I stopped dwelling on what I might miss out on in Colorado and started focusing on what I didn't want to miss out on in Charleston. Though it had always been my "plan" to live in Colorado, that wasn't my reality, and I was finished letting that rob me of my peace.

Don't get me wrong, it is still a hope of mine to move back to Colorado one day (soon, perhaps!).  But I can honestly say that--almost six years later--I haven't obsessed about moving back or missed out on the joy of the present in anticipation of the uncertain future.  Virginia really feels like home--we have invested our lives here, made great friends here, and created many, many memories here that will last a lifetime.

I am glad God taught me this lesson, though I have still had to remind myself many times to stop fast-forwarding my life in my head! when Luke and I were engaged and I was SO excited to be Mrs. Vercollone! But, we tried our best to embrace the unique and fleeting life circumstances that being engaged present, and it turned out to be a very memorable and special time in our lives. 

So as the birth of my baby approaches, I do not wish these final days away.  Instead, I cherish my last days with just Augustine and Luke--as I cherished my last days with just Luke prior to the birth of Augustine.  I know our lives will be enriched by the addition of another little one, but I also know that I don't need to be in a hurry to get there.  That day will come fast enough on its own.

And I will rejoice on that day...

**As many of you know, "that" day--the birth of our daughter--came a few weeks sooner than expected!  And then, following Gemma's birth, she had some severe tummy issues that made her extremely fussy.  I was constantly reminding myself that, even when it was very difficult, this season of her life would pass ever so quickly and I didn't want to miss a second of it.  It was tempting to wish her out of infancy and into a calmer, more coherent stage in life, but I resisted and here, just a few months later, she has improved so much!  I guess I am constantly learning {and relearning!} that God's plans are always better than my own.  

And now with our move to Colorado "confirmed," this notion of living in the present is knocking me over the head on a daily basis!  I have to stop my imagination from running wild with scenes of Augustine and his cousins playing all day long while my sisters and I sip coffee and chat and remember to live each day in the present with peace and contentedness
...though a little joyful anticipation is never a bad thing either. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Naming Gemma

Luke and I knew what we were going to name our first baby {God willing} before we even said, "I do":
Augustine Patrick for a boy
Gemma Patricia for a girl.
We have a "thing" for unique Saint names, clearly.

Since our first little bundle was a boy, Augustine Patrick he was, thus claiming my Mom's namesake for his middle name.  My Mom, Patricia, passed away when I was seven, and we wanted our first baby to be named after her. 

When we saw two pink lines again, about a year and a half after Augustine was born, we knew the baby would still be Gemma if she was a girl, but we'd have to come up with a new middle name.  {And thank goodness she was a girl because we still don't have a first or middle name picked out for a boy!}

I can't remember exactly when I first heard the name Gemma, but I fell in love with it immediately!   
Initially, I didn't know anything about Saint Gemma except that she was a Saint and that she had a beautiful name.
As I learned more about her, though, the name became more significant for our baby.  Coincidentally, Saint Gemma's Mother also passed away when she was seven.

Coming up with a middle name to go with Gemma took us a few months. 
One night while I was registered students for the soccer programs my husband runs, I came across a little girl named, Michaela.  I loved the spelling of her name, as opposed to the more common spelling, Mikayla.  Given that Saint Michael is one of our favorite saints and that "Gemma Michaela" sounded so pretty together, we quickly decided to go with it.

And the name suits her perfectly--our sweet, little Gem!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tornado Warning

If someone were to ask to see a picture of my son these days, I don't know which image would be more appropriate to show them.

So innocent, right??

or This:
Yes, that is a tornado.

You see, as sweet as he is {and he is very sweet}, my son is wrecking severe havoc on my life. 

He roams around our house all day long ripping things out of their places, creating chaos, and destroying everything in his path {well, not everything...}. 

He climbs on chairs, he sprays mop solution all over the floor, he pulls every.single.piece of clothing out of his drawers and puts them in his clothes hamper {how helpful!}.  He can't walk by an outlet without unplugging whatever happens to be plugged in, be it a baby monitor, phone charger, Internet router or baby proofing outlet cover.  Similarly, he can't pass by the refrigerator with out pulling his artwork off of it, and he can't see his sister's bassinet without indulging the urge to throw her blanket out of it.  One sock is always forfeited at some point {or points} during the day. 

His uses the rocker to get on the changing table to get to the Vaseline. 
He uses the chair to get to the upper shelf of the bookcase to get the candle. 
He uses the stool to get on the toilet to get on the counter top to get his potty "treats" from the medicine cabinet.  

Perhaps the most accurate??  That little stick figure there--that's me.
His toy box, mind you, remains untouched most of the day.   

But, boy is he sweet.  No matter how big the mess or how frustrating the situation, I can't stay upset long.  Those big, blue eyes and innocent face melt me every time.

And he's so forgiving.  Even if I get upset, he is ready with a hug, a kiss, and an "I love you" to bring me back to reality and to what really matters.
Thank you, God, for my active and healthy little boy!  I will try not to lose it while hanging the same picture on the fridge for the third time in a day or wondering where my phone charger disappeared to--again.  I will be more patient and loving. 
I will thank you at all times for the many blessings in my life--among the greatest of which is my precious little boy.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes : The Excited Edition {...a day late}

1)  Gemma is doing awesome!!  My diet is really helping with her tummy issues, and she is much happier.  The highlight today was being able to sit on the couch and read a magazine for about 15 minutes while she played alone on the floor.  Definitely a first for us.

2)  Since October Augustine has been nursing to sleep for his naps, as the result of a week-long vacation to Charleston in which nursing him was the only way to get him to nap.  But all this week he has been going down on his own.  And today, he took his nap on the twin mattress on the floor of his room, instead of in his crib.  What a big boy! 

3)  Luke's Mom and sister, Angela, are in town to visit.  It can be stressful at times, but it's great for Augustine and Gemma to get to know our families, especially since they live far away.  Aunt Angela just loves her niece and nephew and especially loves to watch Augustine play.

4)  Thursday night we ate at Chipotle, and Gemma didn't have a negative reaction!  This is very exciting, as I love Chipotle, and it is very hard to find places to eat while I am avoiding dairy, soy, gluten, peanuts, and eggs (!!!).  They do use soybean oil to cook, but the oil is so refined that it is not even considered an allergen--some children still show an aversion though, so I was worried, but she has done great with it!

5)  Luke has been MIA all day yesterday and today--which is not the exciting part.  But the reason he has been out and about is that he has been training new Mighty Kicks Franchisees!  There are now four MK franchises!  That is very exciting!

6)  I found a local, crunchy grocery store where you can grind your own nut butters!  Since I can't have peanut butter, which happens to be one of my favorite foods, I have been using store bought almond butter as a weak substitute.  When I grind my own, however, it tastes incredible!  My gluten free bread and gluten free pancakes taste so much better now :)

7)  I have been doing a lot of house hunting lately, and I am planning a trip to Colorado in June to see my family and visit some houses!  If we find something we really love, we plan to buy a house at the end of July or August!  If not, we may have to rent until we do.       

Friday, April 6, 2012

Saying it Outloud

Do you ever fear that if you say something you're excited about out loud, it won't actually happen? 

I do.

For example, when you are considering a new job
...or pursuing a promising relationship
...or trying to get pregnant
...or preparing to move across the country in order to fulfill a life dream of raising your children near their cousins and grandpa.  

I know, it's silly.  But inviting others to anticipate with you something that has yet to happen really does make one very vulnerable.  Once you reveal your idea/plan/goal, there is suddenly all this pressure and expectation from everyone around you that wasn't there before.  It's like now if things don't work out, you're not the only one who is going to be disappointed--everyone is going to be disappointed, and they are going to look to you for answers {and with questions!}.

Yet, there is no escaping the possibility of things not going as planned because, well, it's just a plan.  You have to leave room for God to work {and we all know a great way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans}. 

Still, despite the vulnerability, there comes a time when you just have to say it out loud

So, here goes:

After years of hoping for this and several months of planning on this, we are moving to Colorado in the fall.  That's how it looks on paper, but this is how it looks in my mind: 


There, I said it...and I'm not going to lie, there are butterflies in my stomach.  Although I am becoming more and more convinced that it's really going to happen with each day that passes, I am keeping my heart open to an alternative reality because, like I was saying before, you never know when God's plans will be different than your own.  

But for the rest of this post, I am going to let go of that doubt and just approach this as though it is a certainty in my future!  Let me enjoy this for a moment... 

In just five months, I will be living only a short drive {or maybe even a short walk!} from two wonderful sisters, two great brother-in-laws, six precious nieces/nephews, and my Daddy!  Can I tell you how good that feels?  Though I wouldn't trade the "on our own" time Luke and I had in South Carolina while we were dating and now here in Virginia for the first 4 1/2 years of our marriage, I am beyond excited to be living near family for the first time in seven years.

Our move will also bring us within a five hour drive of my third sister, her husband, and their three little princessesTo my brother, Sean, this is my plea for you to move to Colorado...Augustine wants all fourteen of his cousins close by to play with :) 

In addition to family, which is the reason we are moving, there are lots of other things to look forward to come September: 
  • Like, a new house!  One thing that has been on my mind a lot is where we are going to live when we move.  Buying a house is a big and scary decision, but it's also really fun, and I love picturing our lives in the new house that will host our most special memories over the next decade or so.
  • Reconnecting with my close friends from high school and my time as a missionary will also be great.  I am really looking forward to having play dates with ladies I haven't spent much time with since we were single and child-less!
  • The Catholic community is also very strong in Northern Colorado, and it's always exciting to get involved with your parish and share fellowship in your faith.
  • Oh, and the food!  Some of the best places I have ever eaten at reside in my home town.  Luke and I generally don't go out to eat much, but when we first move back I will have to take him to all my favorite places!
  • Finally, we will enjoy the mountains and the active Colorado lifestyle.  Although we are NOT looking forward to the cold...or the snow...not even a little bit.  And Luke is already considering whether or not Augustine will be able to receive adequate soccer training in knowledge is limited here, but I told him I would look into it :) 
But, seriously, no matter how great the views:
or how much the town has to offer in fun or entertainment:
it all comes back to this:

Ah, family!

I won't bore you with all the details of what living near my family means--not today anyway--but it's going to be epic :)