Friday, January 28, 2011

A Wacky Week

I love working from home because it is so wonderful to be flexible. I can be home with my family. I can get the housework done when I take breaks. But it has its drawbacks as well. Too many interruptions. People often think you are not working, that you are free to take on other responsibilities. And as my health as been improving, I am taking on more and more. It feels good to have the old energy back, not be in constant pain, be able to do more ... but I was unprepared this week for sick children and strange school schedules. I wish we could simply have the week off.

Thankfully, this week is almost over and my son, who could barely speak is now talking back. It's not Strep, just some viral thing which will take its own course. He's catching up on homework, as I write this. My student lessons are corrected. My family is fed, watered, walked and brushed. I've been staying up very late to write and I'm feeling the strain but I get so much pleasure from working on my book.

The end of January also brings on the cyclic grief over the death of my mother. It's been 25 years and surely she's in heaven by now, but when I look back to those dark, dark days, I know I felt sorry only for myself and for not having loved her enough. The saddest part is that I don't remember praying for her soul, even at her funeral. Watching someone you love die makes your heart ache, yet it is oddly beautiful. Peace radiated from her face as she let go of earthly attachments and started looking toward the Kingdom of God. She spoke of her own father and my older brother, who had died many years prior, and I wondered if they were waiting to receive her and lead her up to stand before God. I could imagine Him saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Best of all, my husband found this wonderful link for Archbishop Fulton Sheen's transcripts for Life is Worth Living. He is a charismatic speaker. We let the kids pick a topic (you have to scroll down to see the list), snuggle with our pets by the fireplace after supper and listen. Of course, nothing can replace a book, but what wealth on the Internet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On Breaks, Revisions and a Cracked Pot

I had a lovely break with my husband's folks this weekend -- got some much needed TLC, a change of scenery, and pace. So relaxing. I brought the kids, the dog, a book I'm reading by Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Your Life is Worth Living: The Christian Philosophy of Life), my notebook, and my first draft of my novel. I forgot all my toiletries, because I was so intent on packing all my medicines. But I did not need them, despite the long drive and rain. I am truly on the mend thanks to all the loving support and prayers and should've had faith!
We left the kitties at home in care of a neighbor. My husband was supposed to come along as well but he had to go to Japan. So he's working long hours, sleeping in a fancy high rise hotel and eating lunch out of bento boxes. He says we'd love it here. And all I can think of is the song from the Chipmunks: Japanese Banana.

So after nearly a two month hiatus, I have begun my revisions on my novel. If I suddenly drop off the blogosphere or the Blueboards, that's why. Although I have 15K revised already, I had to start at the beginning and as always, there are things to fix. Always.
I had much time to think and reflect and write in my notebook. One thing I am certain of, although I am a very cracked and crooked pot, God can still use me to do His work. I may never hold oil or wine or perfume, but I can hold water and pour it out to a thirsty fellow being. So I pray that the Lord fill me.
Sunday's Mass and readings all felt directed toward this (I always feel this way, but especially so this weekend -- it really did feel like a retreat). I sang Psalm 40 with my entire heart: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I highly recommend this book ... for Christians and non-Christians alike. Very readable. It's actually a transcript of Fulton Sheen's radio broadcasts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feast of the Epiphany

Today is the Feast of the Three Kings. I know for many Mexican children, this is a little Christmas, but in the tradition of my mother, we shall have a reading, perhaps a cake with a hidden bean. I daren't bake a cake with a doll for fear the doll will melt. I've been known to do very silly things like that.

I have been thinking of all the gifts we've been bestowed with, and the gift of writing is one. Our dreams and deepest desires and what makes us happy and lost in that activity should surely make us realize what we are meant to do. It makes me happy when young people develop their gifts. Recently we were having supper with friends of ours, both their young boys who are applying for medical school. They are called to do this and have already established mobile clinics in poor areas in India. I too, was once passionate like this.

But fear stopped me. When I was a young woman of 21, even though I got into medical school, I rejected that call because the thought of borrowing $100,000 with no buffer just for my education was frightening. I was taught to never borrow money. There was no option to teach part-time. And I hadn't even figured living expenses. I did the more secure thing -- I got a job in research, got my PhD and paid my way by teaching and research assistantships. But I never felt that same calling. And I never did reapply to medical school. And it is one decision that I have regretted because it goes to my very core. I was called to heal. I believe that when you are given a gift, you are obligated to nurture and develop those gifts. I did not, and that is where this regret comes from. I think if I were a Christian back then, and had put all my faith and trust in God, I would've been just fine and God would've provided (maybe I would've learned that it is okay to borrow money and pay it back later).

God is good. He has given me other gifts. The gift to write. And every time I think of letting it pass by, my conscience tells me to not to give up. Now my conscience has been developed by the teachings of the Church, the Bible. I accomplished a tremendous feat last year. I read the entire Bible. Not that I understood it. Hah! I am showing my ignorance here. It is a very difficult set of books to read. Thank goodness we have priests who can interpret many of these stories. Many of the stories I already know well and their meaning is clear. But there are so many I did not even know and there are so many that are downright confusing. God did that? That's not very nice. But throughout my readings, one phrase leapt at me. "Do not fear" or "Fear not" and it is what I needed to hear.

We are all so fond of making New Year's resolutions. I have one writing related goal and that is to finish my novel revision and send it out to my top agent picks. I am not going to let fear stop me. I am going to say "Yes" to God when He calls me to do something in all areas of my life.

On the Blueboards, Anastasia asked what would be our word for the year. There are so many great words I could think of: faith, believe, trust, balance -- oh, there is much to juggle -- mothering, teaching, writing. But after much thinking, I chose the word SURRENDER because I want to surrender to God's will. I want to live my life with no regrets. Be more holy.

How about you? What gifts do you have? What regrets? What is the one thing you would like to change this year? What is your word for this year? Please share.

Here's a page from the January Highlights featuring my talking animal story Teeter-Totter. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it with your own critters. The illustrations by Debbie Palen are darling.
Happy New Year, all. Persevere. And keep your balance!