Unexpectedly Magical

finding the magic in everyday life




No church for us this morning. Last night the 6 year old managed to sneak the tub of chocolate ice cream down and eat half a quart in one sitting. He also got down the half a candy bar I was saving for a special treat and ate that all gone. I’m still scratching my head over when he found an opportunity to manage all that. 

It was a terrible night for the whole family; the only person who got any sleep was the 2 year old, but even he ran wildly around until midnight (what on earth!?!?). This comes on the heels of almost a month of sleeplessness due to Halloween and then most of us getting colds. Lack of sleep has me frazzled and feeling ill. I’ve never coped well with lack of sleep, but fibromyalgia has made it an even bigger problem. 

What bothers me most is that he chose to sneak and eat not one but two things he knows he shouldn’t. He’s tried to do this with jars of honey and even jelly in the past, but this chocolate stuff puts it to a whole new level. Locking away every sweet thing doesn’t get to the root of the problem… but what is the root? How do I navigate this as a parent? 

Between illness and official Thanksgiving break, my son will have been out of school for 11 days straight. During this time I’ve watched his behavior spiral back into extreme anxiety and aggression – shouting, screaming, scowling, flailing, acting like a control freak… it’s all back. His complete dependence on the rigid structure school provides is obvious – we made the right decision to put him there – but this dependence on structure scares me. Christmas break is going to be a horrible nightmare unless I find a way to plan every second of every day. Summer break is going to be hell. 

This last month has left me questioning my beliefs in so many ways. I’ve lost my belief that people are inherently good. Now I’m pondering something I was sure I’d never consider again – a sin nature. The level of evil, selfishness, and depravity I’ve seen in the world has shocked me to my core; even more shocking is seeing glints of that same depravity mirrored in the eyes of my children. I see it in myself as I struggle to parent gently in the face of sleeplessness, chronic illness, and high needs/special needs demands from my children. 

As this season of Advent begins, I find myself looking for hope and love in new ways. Hopefully we can gather enough sanity around here to light the first candle and share a moment of peace.


Good Vibes in Unexpected Places

The local pregnancy helpline my family volunteers with had a crafting event last weekend; folks were invited to craft ornaments that would be sent out to donors. I took my oldest son with me because I know how much he enjoys crafting; I also brought him because I think it’s important he regularly do things that are for others. I was surprised to see the church’s parking lot packed with vehicles, but even more surprised to see the throng of people inside the building working on projects. The space was abuzz with happy chatter, children playing, people working… the sounds of community. Most of the people were putting together blankets (the kind you tie around the edges) for a local charity; we found the group making ornaments and joined in. My son excitedly began smearing glitter glue around and making small talk with the kid sitting next to him. Parents supervised while also working and teenagers went back and forth from minding the younger children and helping with the crafts. Nobody was stressing out about the toddlers running around or babies screaming – it was clear that families were welcome and children were loved. Nobody gave us strange looks for being the obvious outsiders; everybody smiled and was kind.

The good vibes in that space were amazing! Even my son picked up on it and asked if we could start coming to this church on Sundays. If it weren’t almost a 30 minute drive away, we probably would try to attend. As we were leaving we explored more of the building and peeked into the sanctuary; the beauty of Catholic churches still shocks me. I realize some people find aesthetic beauty to be frivolous, but for me, a beautiful space allows me to open myself better and experience the spiritual power found in holy places. My son seemed to be feeling much the same and stood in hushed awe as we took in this place.

As I’ve studied Catholicism, I’ve sensed that the orderliness and predictability of liturgical worship will be a good fit for my son. He struggles horribly with anxiety and a need to be in control/know exactly what is going to happen. He had a meltdown before his birthday that was triggered by his anxiety over not knowing exactly what was going to happen on his birthday and what presents he was getting. The kid does NOT like surprises. A church service like I grew up with, which often included shouting from the pulpit, was relatively unpredictable and would surely send him into fits of anxiety. As I look back on my own experience with those kinds of services (which I attended a minimum of three times a week) I can see that they caused me anxiety as well. Yes, in comparing the two forms of worship, I can wholeheartedly say that liturgy is my preference.

This Sunday, if nobody is sick or otherwise indisposed, I’m going to take the oldest to church and see what he thinks of Sunday school and possibly Mass. He’s expressed a lot of interest in attending some kind of church, and is generally very interested in spirituality, so it feels right to help him embrace that interest. Our local parish is well-respected in the community and the religious education program has high praise from the therapist my son sees, so I don’t have many concerns about my son’s wellbeing or safety. This whole thing is kind of strange still, but discovering the Catholic community has brought a lot of joy into my life and helped me grow spiritually, even if I’m going into this as a ChristoPagan witch. 🙂

A not-so-happy Halloween 

October Musings

Perhaps the timing is odd, but this October finds me yet again contemplating a union of my pagan beliefs with a form of Christianity – Christopanism. The Catholic Church, with its long, rich, dark, and even magical history, calls to me. Mother Mary calls to me, along with St. Brigid, Sophia and others who (in my mind) represent the divine feminine and can be considered goddesses. 

I so deeply crave a church community, but finding a place nearby that I feel comfortable attending has been difficult. I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting a Catholic Church for two years now, ever since Mother Mary connected with me during my pregnancy with Little Brother, but I haven’t yet been brave enough to go. My respect for Catholics is at an all time high, largely due to the humanitarian work they do. Here in WI, they are the people of faith showing the most compassion to the community around them. They are feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and clothing the needy – and doing it with love instead of judgement. 

There is an air of mystical, magical wonderment surrounding Catholicism. The idea of joining something ancient, something centuries of my Irish ancestors likely were involved in, is tantalizing. My biggest hang ups with Catholocism have been the martyrdom and self-degradation found in many stories of the saints, the patriarchal hierarchy, and the opposition of gay marriage. I’m realizing that I don’t have to agree with 100% of a religious group’s teachings to participate, though the fundamentalist, cultish mindset of my Baptist upbringing has made it difficult to come to this realization. 

After being on the fringe of society my whole life, I’m tired of the pain of never fitting in anywhere. I’m tired of being different. I’m scared about my boys’ growing up without a strong sense of community and belonging. These emotions naturally play a part in my religious considerations. With no local family and very few friends, what do I have to give them? Big Brother (and now all of us) is finding community by being in public school, and it’s awesome.  What could belonging to a church community give our family?

What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up

People were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I never had much of an answer apart from knowing I wanted to get married and raise a family. Plenty of possibilities presented themselves to me -photography, church music, youth work, massage therapy, missions – but my sporadic nature kept me from settling on something. In college I changed my major several times before settling on a humanities major that focused on literature and history. What would I have done with that degree? Not sure. The development of fibromyalgia prevented me from returning to college so I completed a few credits online to receive an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. I took an online course in photography, hoping I could make that my future career, but life had some dramatic twists that have not made photography a priority for the last few years. I still love it, and am finally pulling out my camera again after a long break. Maybe I’ll pursue it more seriously as the boys continue to grow older. Or maybe I’ll pursue my zillion other passions. 😁 

Things I’m currently passionate about learning/doing:

  • Tarot reading
  • Herbology
  • Kitchen witchery
  • Crocheting with goal of opening an Etsy shop
  • Activism – consistent life ethic issues such as: adoption, foster care, food banks, poverty relief, orphanages, disability rights, Down’s Syndrome rights and adoption, environmental protection, domestic abuse, crisis pregnancy support, unjust war….
  • Maternal mental health
  • Learning sign language
  • Research
  • Speaking out about abuses in fundamentalist religious communities 
  • Teaching and being involved in the local homeschool community 
  • Natural family planning
  • Studying Journey of Young Women’s program that equips women to be mentors who will support and guide girls on their transformative journey to womanhood through Girls’ Circles

And my list continues on and on. 

In reflection, I find it… amusing that, now that I’m in my chosen career of motherhood, I find myself pining to be involved in activism at a level only attained by someone who is childless or no longer raising their children. It’s frustrating at times, but I also realize that, in all seriousness, I would not have the same understandin of many of the matters I’m so passionate about if I wasn’t raising children. Motherhood has changed my perspective in ways I couldn’t have previously imagined. 

I began mothering Big Brother a bit before his 2nd birthday; I was 23 at the time – much younger than most of the other mothers I ran into at parks and the library. I honestly do not regret skipping the career phase most 20 somethings choose before starting a family. The time for charity work will come soon enough, as my boys outgrow their dependence on me. It’s already happening, bit by bit each day.  😔😭🤔😕😊😄😁

Reflections on Unitarian Universalism

“We want to bring our children up in a community where they can feel comfortable to express themselves and explore, a community that values critical thinking and self actualization. And here in our local UU church, we have found that community.” – Libby Ann of Love, Joy, Feminism 

Quote comes from this post, Why I Take My Kids to the UU Church, in which Libby Ann explains what makes a Unitarian Universalist church so special and different from the hellfire and brimstone church she was raised in (which I can relate to since Hubby and I both grew up in one as well). Her post illustrates a good portion of why I want my kids involved in a UU church and why I’m likely to say I’m UU if asked by a random stranger what my religious beliefs are. I love the 7 UU Principles and find it an admirable collection of moral guidelines. I love the sense of community, particularly since our family is lacking in that area. I love a lot about UU and our local church, but It’s 30 minutes away and that drive eats up a lot of gas and precious time spent with Hubby on his day off (he doesn’t attend because “church” gives him anxiety). 

Also, while I’m fairly liberal, I’m not quite as liberal as most other UU’s I know. I have a feeling I wouldn’t agree with certain aspects of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sex-Ed program, and I’m not entirely comfortable with some social justice issues that are heavily promoted at my local church. I’ve also struggled with how pro-abortion the Unitarian Universalist Association is. I apply the first principle (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) to the unborn, but it seems most other UU’s do not. 😕 I realize the point of UU is to see what we can accomplish together when we set aside our differences, but a consistent life ethic is hard for me to put aside, especially if I hear abortion preached as a women’s health issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the consistent life ethic, here is Wikipedia’s basic definition: 

“The consistent life ethic, or the consistent ethic of life is an ideology that opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Adherents are opposed, at the very least, to unjust war, while some adherents also profess pacifism, or opposition to all war.”

I’ll write another post later about why I’m pro-life, but for now I’ll recommend these sites (they sum up my position pretty well):

Feminists for Nonviolent Choices

Feminists for Life

Life Matters Journal

New Wave Feminists

In regards to UU and my family, I’m still undecided what role it will play in our lives going forward. It’s hard to live without the joy of sharing a hymnal and lifting your voice together with others in joy or sorrow. It’s hard to I’ve without support and love from a compassionate community.

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