housewife note, no. 24601

Below is a poem I jotted out while literally half awake, puffy tearing eyes (not from crying, from tiredness), the other night. I’m guessing some of my stay-at-home mommy friends might relate. Wiping butts all for the glory of God, right? And for the love of our children? Here, here! 🙂

days rush by!
no time to breathe!
what can i do
for me, me, me?

berry la croix & “ready player one”
since when was sparkling water
& a book
such fun?

no, but,
srsly.
and i mean,
srsly.

this job has me
pwned.

and they call me
“housewife”?
well, i’ll be
darned.

i feel so much more.
a giver of…?
life!

what a dinky, boring title–
plain ole’ fashioned “housewife”?
oh,
heck no.

i give and i give
and i give
watching my insides
die.

but it’s for them,
for them!

and anyway,
when have i also
ever felt
so alive?

those smiles and
those eyes.
i swear they’ll
kill ya quick.

such a venomous bite!
that adorable
neediness.

but they’re mine, mine, mine
and they’re ours
and O, they’re His!

so, i’ll gladly die to self
for this joy,
this hard love.

this bliss,
this bliss.
His bliss.

our happiness.

(c) awakenwonder

Millennial minimalism: aspiring to be like monks and nuns!

As fairly new homeowners (it’s been 1.5 years), one struggle that my husband and I have is that of finding a right balance with how much stuff we possess. Our goal: not to possess too little stuff (we’re not hardcore minimalists) and not to possess too much stuff (we still want breathable and livable space). 

Moving from small apartments in the city to a larger house in the suburbs, I wonder this: why does the pendulum mostly swing to having more? I speculate that, as Millennials growing up in suburban America in the 90s and 00s, we were subconsciously and unwillingly influenced us to see the “McMansion,” chock-full of stuff, as a sign of a life well-lived. Yet as the days tick by as homeowners, I see how empty spaces in our home are precisely where our “easy breathing” and most cherished prayer time and deep thinking occur. 

We underestimate how much we actually have and we overestimate how much we actually need. Indeed, some of our happiest times as a married couple and family have been when we’re literally living out of suitcases! When we are visiting family in either California or New York, or traveling elsewhere for vacation, we have very little stuff, but our hearts are so full and our days are so wonderful. We have just what we need to survive and to enjoy just… being.

It all sounds quite Zen Buddhist, and it probably is. However, as a Catholic, I have come to realize that the concept of minimalism is very much Catholic as well! If you think about the most fervent prayer warriors in our Faith, monks and nuns who live in secluded communities dedicated to prayer throughout the world!!, what do they possess and need? The following are just my layperson speculations…:

–A few sets of clothes for protection from the elements.

–Bread and water on which to physically subsist. Food and drink.

–The Bread of Life (the Eucharist!) and the Living Water on which to spiritually subsist.

–Holy Scripture, the Liturgy of the Hours, and other sources of spiritual reading (hymnals, too!) with which to pray.

–Other necessary literature, including that for leisure and personal growth.

–Pen and paper for personal writings and communications. (Tablet? Smart phone? Or daresay a laptop?)

–A bed to sleep, a chair to rest, a desk to ponder. (Ikea minimalist furnishing will do!)

–A kitchen, a bathroom, a sink. (Likely all communal in their case.)

–Medicine and toiletries. (Even monks and nuns gotta floss!)

–Sacramentals, such as a rosary, a crucifix, and holy water. Most of these are likely worn on their habit (religious garb) 24/7!

–A few other items of beauty (i.e. flowers or paintings on the wall), sentimentality (i.e. pictures of family and letters from friends) and recreation (i.e. a bike or a basketball– hey, nuns playing basketball at the convent? I’m sure it happens!).

–Coffee and tea. Our sipritual brothers and sisters gotta get their day going, too! 😉

–Beer! 🤣 (Our monks make it best, right?! No. Seriously!!)

I know this list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s an honest attempt! Taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, monks and nuns are able to develop their “poverty of spirit” when they live a materially minimalist life. Our Church, the Body of Christ, saw this benefit thousands of years ago, and we looked to Christ for this model. Even He had no place to rest His head. He told His disciples to go from town to town with nothing but the sandals on their feet, the cloak on their back, and a walking stick, healing the sick and proclaiming the Good News.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines describes a “poverty of heart” quite beautifully: “Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them to ‘renounce all that they have’ for his sake and that of the Gospel'” (CCC #2544). And, quite simply, the Catechism goes on to define “poverty of spirit” as “voluntary humility” (CCC #2546). When we practice voluntary humility– detachment from ourselves and from earthly goods– we have more energy to place towards living out the Gospel and figuratively bringing it to all the ends of the earth.

Further alluding to several Scripture verses, the Catechism (CCC #2547) also summarizes: “The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.” Being detached from ourselves, our egos, and our things, we have more capacity to be attached to Our Lord, to people, and to experiences. In fact, the Gospel says that we can even see God more clearly when we aren’t hampered down by things! And isn’t this what– rather, isn’t this Who and who– matter most?: Who we will be with Heaven, and the people who we will take to Heaven with us?

Let us therefore work on acquiring non-earthly goods and riches, such as deep relationships, growth in virtues, and the spreading of good works an deeds. Let us work on flourishing in our respective vocations in life, which ultimately leads to the salvation of our souls!

 

As I think about what monks and nuns need, and how much stuff from which they are detached, I can’t help but wonder what I need personally and what my family needs. How can minimalism help myself and my family to de-clutter our home and our spirits as well? How can minimalism help to re-energize myself and my family in all aspects of our lives– including the evangelical element of being Catholic? 

As Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton once said, may we: “Live simply, that others may simply live.” As a fellow millennial trying to minimize, what’s on your list of necessities? How can YOU make like a monk or a nun in YOUR life?

social media’s effects on friendship

Yesterday, with a “fear of missing out” (“fomo”), I decided to resurrect my Instagram. As I add more of my contacts as friends, I already feel my heart rate rising and my breathing getting faster. I wonder: What? This is supposed to be an enjoyable moment!

I quickly realize that truly, I have not been missing out from connection with others due to a lack of social media presence. I realize that I have enough of that already (on Facebook!) and that I am merely opening up another means of surface-level sharing with the world. Yet deep down, I know that it is deep-level sharing for which my heart keeps longing! Oh, the irony.

My husband never goes on social media to socialize. He’s a “lurker” who likes to casually see others’ posts and content of interest. In my reflecting upon my own relationship interactions, I’ve come to realize that many of my best friends tend also to be lurkers or just casual users who update accounts very seldomly. Interesting coincidence.

It also seems that (in general), the less that I interact with someone on social media, the closer I am to him/her in “real life.” Perhaps it is because I text and call and Skype with these people instead. Better yet, I hang out with them, in person, one-on-one, in a vulnerable and private way– rather than a way in which all is exposed, a.k.a. social media.

My heart yearns for friends with whom I can waste time together. My heart yearns for friends with whom I will plan to spend time together in intentional, meaningful, and purposeful ways! And isn’t that what– I mean, isn’t that who— we want in our life? Not just contacts or “friends,” but real friends?

May we (attn: millenials) revel in our closest friends and re-learn how to make and to cultivate genuine friendships in this ever “updating” world of social media.

ditty to my children 

would you believe me if
I told you that
your every breath
fell on listening ears?

that I cared so much
I cried?

especially when
I thought I
let you down?

(even when you
had no opinions
nor thoughts
on anything at all.
my sweet sweet little
babe!)

no,
they don’t teach you
how to be a mom.
or a dad.

your heart learns!

would you believe me if
I told you that
your happiness mattered
more than mine
more than ours?

that we wish we could be
“mommy” and “dada”
forever?

cure your every ill,
wipe your every tear,
hold your hand
when you conquer ev’ry fear?

squeeze you so tight,
and so near, so hard, my dear?

and!

laugh and laugh and smile
and smile and laugh some more

with you,
always with you?

would you believe me if
I told you that
we thought we knew
love
but then we met you,
(and you, little sister!),
and both times, we realized…

we knew nothing of
Love.

No.

We knew nothing of love
at all.

and would you believe us
if we told you–
that to us,
you both were never all that “small”?

but the world to us,
the world.

oh, the world!
our happy world.

(c) awakenwonder

O, that deep and hidden love

You know you’re a mom when it’s past midnight and you’re chatting with your friends in a different time zone and you suddenly realize the time and whisper to yourself: “Thou shalt pay for this in the morning!”

All that aside, I’ve felt a sudden gust of inspiration from the Holy Spirit above to get off my lazy bum and start blogging again. I’ve also been prompted lately to use a good half hour, at least, of my morning routine to contemplate the daily Mass Gospel reading and to meditate on other spiritual readings before the day begins. And my, how the latter has done my soul good.

I finally feel like I’m being fed again. And in turn, I finally feel like I have a more whole version of myself to offer to my husband, my son, the baby in my belly, my extended family, my friends, and those that I serve…! When you take care of yourself, it’s so much easier to love others.

I’d forgotten that in what often seems like the rat race of family life, the goal is not to accomplish. And yes, even as a stay-at-home mama, life can feel ALL too HARRIED at times!

It’s crazy because you’d think that of all vocations, being a stay-at-home mama has the potential to be one of the ‘most relaxing’: or so, you’d think. But no, it has demands in and of itself, and of course Satan always wants us to feel rushed, hurried, threatened, and unappreciated for all that we do (so we try to do things more perfectly, or we try to do more, more, more to prove ourselves– both to no avail!). Moreover, Satan always wants us to feel unsure of WHO WE ARE, God’s very sons and daughters, beloved despite all of our deficiencies and defects!

Recently, I’ve been relishing in the fact that it is OK to stop and smell the roses (ha! seems so cliche, yet it’s such an important aphorism to remember), to smile, to laugh– to REALLY laugh and joke and make merry, to take time to saunter in the sunshine (and the Son), to take time to pray and to reflect (so as to grow!).

Just this past week, I woke my son up from a late nap. And usually, if he’s rested well enough, he’ll roll over and give me the BIGGEST smile this side of the Mississippi. After this particular nap, I was holding my breath wondering if he had rested enough, though– but lo and behold, what did he do? He rolled over after I kissed him on the cheek and started to play with his hair… and gave me the biggest grin ever! He continued to hug me and to just stare into my eyes. 

Fast forward to a week later, and my toddler son told me to cuddle with him. He then gave me a big hug and proclaimed, “Love you, Mommy!”My heart got smashed into a million pieces both instances. That’s how smitten I was with my toddler son’s adoration and affection of his dear Mama.

This is the kind of time God wants us to spend with Him, I realized. Not just so we can show Him that we love Him… but so that He can show us that He loves us, uniquely, individually! God wants to spend time with us when we are well rested, i.e. those intentional mornings offered to him (in addition when we are not well rested at all, and think we have no time to spare!) so that we can feel well rested. The math of it is mysterious, especially in that latter situation, but it’s a Divine equation. And God always comes out more generously on His end.

This is the kind of joy that God wants us to find in different moments of our day. Sometimes these moments are direct and easy to come by– and other times, heck, most of the time– they’re indirect, hidden, difficult to find. But those moments of Divine encounter and love are there, because He’s always there.

So here’s to trying to live a calm, peaceful, intentional life– yes, amidst the chaotic humdrum of the everyday and the ordinary. And here’s to trying to find the joy, whether it’s at hand or it’s deeply embedded in the more obscure places of our lives.

how foolish are you?

Since 2009, I have been volunteering to teach Confirmation class to Catholic-raised teenagers. It’s a weekly class that meets for about 1.5 hours.

Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Catholic Church; Baptism and First Communion are the other two. If you are Catholic teenager, Confirmation seals your infant Baptism in the Trinity, and at that time, your parents and godparents take oaths to raise you in the Catholic Faith. At your Confirmation, you take an oath to take on those Baptismal vows as your own.

Every year, I get this extreme bout of anxiety and doubt about whether or not I am called to teach the teens again. They’re so full of life, questions, and oh so many emotions and thoughts… every class feels like a marathon!

Do I still have it in me? I ask myself once fall rolls around yet again.

But when I take it to prayer, I find the Holy Spirit rekindling Himself within me, and telling me this:

Rosanna, I called you not because you are wise, not because you are a great teacher, not because you are morally upright… none of that.

I call you because you are WILLING to be a FOOL for me, and for the Faith!

Come, follow Me!

So after I get over the panic, self scrutiny, pride, laziness, etc., and I throw it at the foot of the Cross, Jesus gives me the energy and the passion to do what I’ve done every year before!

Christ gives me the energy and the passion to yet again start on the journey alongside the teens, going forward all the while I am interior-ly on my knees, so to speak, hoping that the teens’ eyes are opened to the one fact that WE ALL NEED CHRIST (especially their teacher) because WE ARE ALL FOOLS.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing to rely on– the undisputed fact that you are an idiot, a fool– but that in the eyes of God, stupidity is all that it takes? Your foolishness is ALL that God needs.

Jesus simply needs you, stupidity, foolishness, and all. This is where humility meets mercy. Yes, you in your shame, your brokenness, your sin– Jesus needs you with all of these things– so that he can give you His glory, His wholeness, and His righteousness in its place.

In Him you are healed! And only in Him you are wiser than you ever could be.

Today, these awesome words of 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 floated into my heart:

Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something,so that no human being might boast* before God.It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,so that, as it is written, ‘Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.'”

 

 

 

 

on feeling silenced

I never thought my voice would fade.
The vigor, the passion.
I let someone
silence me.

Slowly.
You’re too this-
Can’t you see
that?
Insert judgement
(here.)

I’m tired of
Withdrawing
Denying.

Letting go of who
I am.

So here,
here I am, world.
Here I am, yet again.

Hello!

(c) rosannanoelle

Being a disciple of Christ can be one of the loneliest feelings. Simply put, you feel quite ostracized by society. Particularly in this day and age, and in meeting so many wonderful people, mentioning that you’re Christian feels almost taboo. It’s not that I don’t connect with non-Christians; it’s just that I feel that it’s a large part of my life that seems like a turn-off to many that I meet. So I either consciously or unconsciously keep my faith at bay, even when the Holy Spirit feels like it’s burning within me. Don’t wanna char anyone!

Religion is seen as archaic, and , well, the opiate of the masses. (I suppose this is what lead me to meet my spouse on a faith-based dating website– ha, ha! Well, that and Divine Providence.) But in all seriousness, it felt nearly impossible to find a guy my age practicing his faith with equal fervor. At least for who I am as a person, it was so important to share that deepest part of me with the love of my life.

It’s hard to feel deeply lonely among your peers and most especially among your own family at times. The latter can really grate at your soul, and pierce you, because your family is who you love the most. I used to so fervently blog on my site “Catholic Twenty Something.” However, as the years passed, I noticed my vigor for writing about my faith taper down– sadly, almost to a trickle.

And after years of introspection and prayer, it finally dawned on me what had actually happened. I succumbed to bullying. I let a few angry, judgmental voices of individuals near and dear to me really erode my heart. Perhaps they did not know they were hurting me so. But in so many instances, it truly felt like they knew, and they simply wanted to have their word with me. By the grace of God, and truly not my own strength or willpower, I have forgiven them and moved on.

For NO matter the faith walk of those that I love, I love them because they are who they are– not because they do nor do not support my faith walk. Loving someone just because they make you feel a certain way or approve of all of the things you do and say– well, that’s probably a utilitarian relationship, at best. I want to love like Christ loved. And he especially loves those who hate him.

But it’s true that those who you love the most can hurt you the most. And their words can break you. And my heart, well, it sank, and sank, and sank listening to such voices. Deeper and deeper into an abyss, into the darkness. Yet my eyes were always pointed to the light.

It just felt as if I had let my voice… drown. Under those who are so much more confident than I am, so much more approved by everyone else I know. But this post is not meant to be a sob story!!! Being a disciple of Christ is, for the most part, a life of JOY, at least in my own journey. And in this bullying, I found the deepest peace I had ever met, in the pierced heart of Christ Himself. 

In these last few years of feeling like my zeal to evangelize was dampened, God actually did something amazing: He stirred that thirst for Him even more vigorously within, in a contemplative, meditative way. And He brought truth to my situation: that the pain from this kind of bullying was stopping me from being the beautiful person that He made me to be. That His love and approval is worth gold, and that the love and approval of the world is rubbish.

During these years, God has never ceased to send people to walk alongside me in my faith walk, with open ears and open hearts. I have so many strengthened relationships, and a much stronger marriage, because of this internal struggle. And step by step, in many ways– and this blog being one of them!– I hope that I can reclaim my voice that began to fade a few years ago.

Have you ever been in such a situation? I encourage you to take it to contemplation, meditation, and prayer. No voice deserves to be silenced.

 

 

 

 

a letter to my dear toddler son

Dear Dominic,

I love you so much. You have no idea! You are such an amazing little man. You are full of compassion. You are so tender and sweet. You abound with curiosity. You want and you yearn to be independent, useful, and industrious– at the mere age of two! I cannot believe how much you have grown physically and mentally and SOUL-fully in the last 28 months. You have a BIG personality all your own in that little body, and you express it in the biggest ways!

I am ever grateful how your presence in my life, and your Dada’s and my life and marriage, has helped to make us less self-centered and selfish– more others-focused and selfless– and best yet, so full of WONDER and AWE. At YOU, at GOD and His goodness, at the world at large.

Your pure and innocent heart has helped my heart beat more passionately and fiercely again. I’m sure Dada would say the same.

We love you so much, Dom. We are always so proud of who you are. We love you. You are our gift.

Love,
Mama =)

not just luck

It seems that lovers are meant to have those “aha! I knew we were meant for each other all along” moments. Epiphanies of such curious serendipity bring strength to a relationship. They bring meaning and purpose and a powerful sense of invincibility. These aha moments hold two individuals together like cosmic glue.

I can’t help but smile thinking of all of the circumstances and coincidences that my spouse and I have deemed as part of our own cosmic glue. For instance, we were both incredibly in love with New  York City. He had family there, and I took a trip there at the golden age of ten ,and it would leave an indelible mark on my heart. We also found out that we both received our First Holy Communion on the same exact day!

I can’t help but believe that all of these circumstances that were so coincidental before we even met are all part of the holy will of God. My hopeless romantic heart will believe in this cosmic glue theory it until the day that I die. And I gladly will tell my son of each and every one of these aha moments!

This has to be more than good luck, for this is far too good than I could ever conceive! These are my thoughts, the words of my heart.

I refuse to attribute the good things in my life to luck. I know that my God must have a master plan, because sheer chance could never deal out to me the goodness that I have met.

What good things do you hold dear in your life? What good things are you grateful for,and simply beyond amazed by? Why is that so? I invite you to wonder about the sheer serendipity in your life.

awaken wonder: new wine into fresh wineskins

IMG_20170626_181828157(edit)

Tabula rasa. Clean slate.

I’ve spent the past weeks pondering whether I should maintain posts from my Catholic Twenty-Something on this new blog, Awaken Wonder. I added to them slowly and often spontaneously throughout grad school, a long distance relationship, the beginning of my married and family life, and the establishment of my career in counseling. During that time, I was knocked off my feet to see that I had visitors from all over the world, with over 24k views. And what an honor to have readership. Knowing I had even one reader was such an honor! I am truly humbled.

Recently, I’ve felt like something is amiss, however. My old posts no longer sound like my current voice. My intention for writing has also slowly changed. Glancing through the timeline of my blog, it seems that I went from lots of theological musings to simply reflecting upon my most ordinary happenings, and how they moved me and touched my personal spiritual life and faith journey. With much thought and prayer, I’ve decided that I want to change the tone of my blog yet again, and to give it a new name to signify this change. So with vigor and excitement, I have decided to move on from Catholic Twenty-Something and to begin anew with Awaken Wonder. As Christ once said:

People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.

A new name, a new beginning.  My hope is to pour new wine into new wineskins with Awaken Wonder. Well, metaphorically.

I’d like to start afresh with a more broad approach for this blog. I’ll write about things that awaken wonder within me, with the hope that I might be able to touch just one soul out there. That beging said, I will still incorporate my faith into my posts; I mean, how could I not, whether directly or indirectly?! Impossible. Catholicism is so core to my being, and it still colors my whole world. So while I will not always blog about faith directly anymore, everything I write about will still be from eyes of faith—my own unique set, that is.

I am not quite sure how this new blog will look. I am not sure how it will be formatted. I do know, however, that it will be challenging and exhilarating with this new focus of “wonder” in mind. I’ll likely doing my usual blogging about “every day curiosities and musings,” yes. I also might also be putting up a poem or short story on occasion… or reflecting on a song, movie, or other work of art… or writing a book review… or sharing about some new experience or place traveled.

If you have read this far, I am honored that you have. May we walk on this journey of awakening wonder, together!

Pax et bonum,

Rosanna