Academy Nicholls, Here I Come

I did a thing last night.

It might be crazy. It may be a little arrogant? It takes a lot of arrogance to be an artist, or at least that’s what I tell myself so I won’t hide all of my work under a rock. Yes, this writing of mine is a conscious decision in favor of pride in the face of possible humiliation-in a way at least.

Anyway, the thing I did is bold if you say it nicely, foolish if not. We have been struggling so much with money. Last week I decided that I would use my fun money that I’ve been saving for months and all of my returns for our emergency fund and debt payoff. It was more important that little rewards right? I’m so discouraged about money, maybe that is what would make me feel better.

Then I found out that I hadn’t missed the deadline for the Academy Nicholls Fellowship.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the most prestigious film competition out there for new writers. But that’s not what matters to me(although it’s the first thing I tell people so they get the context of what I did.) What matters to me, is that it is the answer to all of the prayers I’ve said this year if I get it.

It is just enough money that Patrick could stay home or work part time while he finishes school, so he could have some time to breathe, which I have been begging God for all year.

It is just enough money that we could cover everything. We wouldn’t be rolling in the dough by any means, but we would be ok. I have been asking for help with that.

I would be getting paid to write MY work. I would be getting paid to do what I always wanted to do, and not on someone else’s terms. I’d have a mentor, but I wouldn’t have to write a story fitting their guidelines. It would be mine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with getting paid to write for someone else, but this is a whole other level.) I have been asking God for this since I was born.

I would have a mentor to encourage and help me to improve my work and it would be their job to help me write another screenplay. I’ve got one almost done, one done, I’d have time to do another one. I’ve been praying for that this year.

I would have more time with Patrick and more time to breathe. I’ve been praying for this since Willow was born.

This year has been so hard. It’s hard to express how hard because some stupid things don’t make any sense if you describe them, but they can devastate you if you are having a hard enough time. I’ve noticed sometimes if I stub my toe I don’t even care, but if a day is bad enough it’s enough to resort me to a sobbing mess, or a cursing sailor. This year, has made the smallest issues into mountains that make me feel completely helpless.

It took over year for me to build the courage to do this. God has been working in so many ways in my life to prepare me. He healed my trauma about miscarriage and spiritual abuse through a hellish year teaching at a Catholic school and a horrific birth that was still the most amazing thing that could ever have happened to me. He healed the trauma from that birth a little over a year later with another birth. He healed the wounds from the Catholic school by bringing me to a new Catholic Church and Bible study.

My first time at the Bible study, I hated it. I was never coming back, until I saw the back of one of the books. “I am looking for a deeper relationship with you.” I knew without a doubt it was God talking to me. Every single time I have made it to this Bible Study He has shown up for me. He has taught me SO much. He brought me back to myself through the women that I met, the readings they supplied, and the time out that I got because of the study. I am incomprehensibly grateful for what He gave me in them.

If I tried to list all of the lies and fears that God came down and disproved this would be the longest blog in the universe, but suffice it to say that He worked on me hard, and that is exhausting and hard, but it was amazing in so many ways too.

Holy Week was like that point in labor when you decide you can’t do it and you are totally ready to give up. I started to think there was no point to anything that I had heard all year. I felt myself fading away, and I was so angry. Easter was, surprisingly, even worse.

It was awful. God sent me a free Christian concert(yes I believe it was from Him because it was my favorite Christian band and I had been longing for a Christian concert and mourning that we couldn’t afford it and this was free) and I was so excited, but then it was actually a Protestant service. I was raised that you don’t go to those, so I was in a tailspin of enjoying it, and being terrified of the guilt and shame of being there. They talked about “taking your place at the table” and “the battle is already won,” and I loved it, and I heard Jesus in it, but then I became lost in sadness about the Catholic Church and the fact that I couldn’t accept their message because I’m Catholic.

I fought that, because none of what they said went against the Church. They had a message that we are supposed to be giving and arent. And sure, I believe there are things Catholics have to offer too, but Protestants have some amazing gifts. So I prayed away the guilt and shame a little bit more everyday.

And I found out about Academy Nicholls.

Part of what I have learned this year through Dave Ramsey is that I have been serving money, not making my money serve God. I’ve got a whole lot more coming about that, and how it doesn’t always look like Scrooge hoarding money, but for now suffice it to say that I was convinced I couldn’t try for this fellowship that I believed God wanted me to try for, because money said no.

I prayed every day for the money, but I was convinced it would be a no.

Then I got the money, and I fell into despair and misery because I became sure I wouldn’t win it.

Then I went home and I read the reading from the Bible Study. Ephesians 6, about putting the armor of faith on to conquer evil in the world. And I knew.

So I entered the Academy Nicholls Fellowship competition, and I probably will not win, but, I could. With the money I spent to enter it, I bought freedom from fear financially, I bought hope, I bought one of the greatest acts of faith of my entire life, I bought a new life. So wish me luck, and say a prayer when you can for my dream job. ♥️♥️♥️

Let the Little Children Come to Me: Defending Catholic Moms

Last night, I had to leave the Good Friday service halfway through. I went to this particular Church because the churches nearby us don’t have cry rooms, but at this parish, we had been treated kindly by the parish priest and daily mass crowd, so I figured they would be kind and merciful to us if the kids were not great. It was my first time going to mass with them alone, and I have a one year old and a two year old, so it is not an easy feat.

Just after I got little one #1 out of the car seat, my heart sank. The doors were chained shut. There was another door nearby that was open, so I thought maybe it was to the stairs. Turned out it wasn’t, but I made it down anyway. I knew the Church was under construction and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect is there was nowhere to take the kids. The service was being held downstairs instead of in the Church which we had navigated before.

There were some very sweet people when we first came in, the usher smiled at us and waved, another older man did, and two teenage girls were right behind us and they smiled at the girls and waved too. I was so excited and grateful that we had come here.

But then the girls had a much harder time than I expected. The younger one would crawl away under the chairs and the oldest kept calling for me to read “Batgirl! Batgirl!” I tried pacing the back of the church area but the two year old kept running away. I tried going by the entry door, but there were multiple doors open with Mass supplies, making it unsafe for her to be pretty much anywhere. I found a little nook with mostly closed doors, but one open one I could stand by and listen to the service. I was exhausted, but felt peaceful, finally I could keep an eye on them, and still be present.

It was still hard managing them in the little nook, but they were at least mostly happy(okay the little one face planted and wailed for a second, but mostly happy, lol.) Suddenly, after relative peace had been accomplished, an usher came back, cast us a dark look and slammed the door. Well, the closed door made the room echo badly, which my two year old just loved. I try not to shush her most of the time because she is rarely loud, and I want to encourage her to use her voice, and not make her feel bad about it. I became a shushing machine. We were boxed in and echoing so bad, and I didn’t know how much they could hear and seeing the door close made them want out, and I couldn’t hear the service anymore, so what was the point of all of this effort. Suddenly another usher came back, cast us a glare and left.

You guys, it is already so hard having two under two, it took all of my courage to even try to come to the service, but my lent had been so hard, and I had been clinging to Christ the whole time so desperately, I just needed to be there. I hadn’t expected them to be helpful, but I had expected to be treated kindly if it went badly. I was so frustrated to be trapped in this nook and feeling so ashamed. Finally, I decided I was just going to have to leave. I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. Had it LOCKED on me? I muttered under my breath, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and of course it fell open jolting me and the girls, and what felt like the entire congregation turned around and glared at us. Most of them looked away, and we made our way out as fast possible.
Once I made it outside, I realized I could still be present to Jesus if we stayed. So we wandered around outside for a little while. It wasn’t a safe area for kids at all, but my girls are really well mannered, so I was able to keep them calm. A few minutes later a mom came out looking just as frazzled as I felt dragging her 5 year old son. He was crying already and she spanked him, hard. What got me was not just the actual fact of her spanking him, but I could so feel her frustration. If she was feeling even a little of the shame I was at making noise in that environment, I could sympathize with any amount of exploding in anger.
I tried to listen through the windows as much as possible, but I ended up timing our entry for the Veneration of the Cross badly. Most of the congregation hadn’t gone yet. I felt so awkward and ashamed, and no one looked at us. Finally, when my poor two year old was sobbing and fell to the floor, my attempt at “presence” with Jesus had to change. In this moment, I needed to be present to Jesus as He lives in my little girl. It was not ok to traumatize her, and become this angry monster in order to be present to Jesus Crucified. He would rather her grow to love Him than have silent resentments because Church was torture. (I firmly believe this because I have to work so hard to overcome how much I hated Mass and Church as a kid, and I was very spiritual, I loved Jesus.)
Finally, we left. I told my littles how much I loved them, and I prayed aloud for the congregation as we went home.
St. Paul says, “They shall know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me.” Not only was this church not an example of these things, but they were the exact opposite. The church we normally go to embraces children, and loves them. They have a “wiggle room” for children to go to when they need to move around a little, but they have a sign that reminds parents that they are welcome and wanted in the main church area. There is a beautiful 3D painting of Jesus holding a crowd of children. I still occasionally get a little side-eyed glance for walking around the back of the Church or letting my little one look at the statues, but more often, I get smiles and nods. I am so grateful for that Church. It is a rare, and amazing blessing, I know because I went 5 years without being able to find a Church I called home.

This Church was the absolute opposite last night, it was the example of all the reasons why I hated being Catholic for so long. I almost left the Church. I was so profoundly angry at God. Last night, because of the mercy of having an amazing Church that provides for us, and my own work to stay in the Church no matter what, I wasn’t tempted to leave, and I wasn’t angry at God, but instead, I can tell you, this needs to change. There are people who have not had the same experiences I have that are leaving the Church because of being treated this way.
So, do better.

How?

1. Welcome people who come to your church. Say a quick hello, give them a smile, something. I have been to churches where there is a moment set aside at the beginning for greeting each other before Mass begins and as a first-time parishoner there, it made a huge difference.

2. HAVE A CRY ROOM, better yet, don’t call it a cry room-call it a Wiggle Room, or something else fun, so it doesn’t sound or feel like a horrible place to be.

3. Do anything you can to let parents know they are welcome. They are forming the children that are the churches future, and they are treated badly enough anywhere else. They don’t need to feel like even God hates them. Plus, kids can pick up on the anger and frustration and then they associate that with God, which is BAD.

4. In fact, do anything you can to let everyone know they are welcome. Be love, like St. Paul.

5. Incorporate the kids in ways that take into consideration the purpose of the service, aka meet their needs without corrupting the actual Mass itself. At my Church, the children get to bring up little meal offerings at the offertory. It doesn’t interfere with any actual Mass parts, but it gets them excited about helping the poor, and about giving back to God. My two year old loves this, and it brings me so much joy. They also bring the high-schoolers who want to up to the foot of the alter during the Canon of Mass, physically manifesting “Let the little children come to me.”

6. Let go of the desire for the “perfect” service. Jesus did not command us to have the perfect ceremony. He did ask us to remember Him. He asked us to love. Sure, we could have a perfectly silent Mass, with no children there, but I’ll tell you as an ex-member of parishes that were that way, there is a heck of a lot of pain there. A lot of pain, and it wasn’t just me. Maybe if you really want to offer a really nice fancy silent service, have a children’s Mass available where parents don’t have to feel condemned.

7. Jesus first. In any decision being made in the liturgy, or any way you act during church or at church or ever, remember who Jesus was, and live like Him.

Embrace Your Cross

“Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabbactani
My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”

My God, My God, why did you abandon me?

I gave You everything. No matter how hard everything was.

I gave You my childhood. I gave you the feeling of being invincible that I never got to feel.

I gave You my obedience that destroyed my dreams, and my spirit for years.

I gave you myself, no matter how bad it got, and it got bad.

No matter how much I give, you always ask more.

How could you ask of me my child?

I was faithful.

I was strong.

I followed You.

What could I have done to deserve losing her?

I wrestle with any imperfection in my life before that moment.

Is this why He took her away? Was it this fight? Was it this day of work? Was it the juice I drank? Was it that I wasn’t healthy enough? Is it because I didn’t do something?

What did I do?

I thought I was following You.

What did I do? I never said I was perfect, but what did I do that was so bad that You would give me hopes and dreams I never thought I even had only to destroy them immediately after?

I can’t stand confession now, because I don’t know what my cardinal sin was.

My entire life I was afraid I was evil, and You hated me.

Do you?

Why?

What did I do?

Was it the moment that I was so afraid about the money that for a split second I wanted an abortion? I never meant to think that thought. I never wanted to lose her. I was just scared. I loved her.

Was I not motherly enough? Do I not have what it takes to be a good mother? If that’s why, am I good enough now? Please don’t take away the babies I have now. I love them. Please don’t take them away.

Why would you do this to me?

I was faithful through horrors that only You understand, and You gave me more.

“When will you make it end?”

I keep hearing you say, “when I am finished,” but God, finished with what? Is my suffering not over yet? Do you hate me so much that You created me only to hurt me?

Are some people just meant to be tortured by you, and some are just loved?

Do You know what it took me to stay alive because You said so? Because You would hate me if I didn’t? Do you know what it took me to cause pain to the most important person in my life, because my parents told me to, and you said to obey them? Do you know how much it hurt, and hurts, to have lost the life that I see in others, before mine even began? Do you know how much it hurts to hope when some dreams can never be fulfilled?

How do you even manage to grieve what is lost, when no one would understand?

I lost my wedding to the kindness I thought you asked of me. I lost my dreams to the curse of the ones you gave me. I lost my sense of self over and over and over and over and over to the One you entrusted me to. I lost my hope that You might love me.

I lost my dream of a mother who supports me and my dreams unconditionally because she believes in me and loves me, before I could even dream it. I lost my dream of a father I could trust to hold me when I cried. I lost my dream of even knowing my father at all, and the dream of having a better one too. I lost my dream of someone seeing me in pain and holding me. I even lost my dream of a husband who would hold me when I cried, what a cruel joke that is. He is amazing and healing and emotional, but I have to ask him to hold me when I cry.

I can’t bear this. It’s too much. It hurts too much for the human heart to bear. It is too much loss, too much pain, too much grief, just too much. I can’t breathe when I can feel the loss. The years and years of loss. The knowledge that I am not alone in the loss. I can’t breathe.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” CS Lewis

I had locked it up, God. You know how completely I had shut myself off.

I asked you for this. I asked you to heal my “dry bones.”

Don’t stop. Make me feel again. Make me ME again. Don’t let me close up again, I can feel my body trying to. I keep catching myself holding my breath and thrusting my tongue into the roof of my mouth to block whatever is happening in me. My body is terrified. My heart cries out to you, Oh God. Oh God, Oh God, why have you abandoned me? Oh God, Oh God, why have you abandoned me? Oh God, Oh God, why have you abandoned me?

The fear might be the worst part for me.

The fear that since You have done it before, You will do it again.

Mother Teresa felt abandoned by You for FIFTY years. How could you?

Would you do that to me?

If You did that to her, would you do that to me?

Would you abandon me for that long?

When you protect me, I am afraid You will stop, because You stopped.

When you lead me, I am afraid there is only worse pain ahead.

Miscarriage taught me how little I know of pain.

Childbirth taught me it can get even worse. Childbirth taught me pain can get so bad, that you think you are going to die, and you really don’t care anymore. It would be better than living this moment.

Motherhood has taught me to scream.

I am losing my joy to my attempts not to feel.

I am losing my joy to every moment I hold my breath so I can’t feel the hurt.

I am losing my joy to every moment I am so consumed by despair that I can’t convince myself to try anymore.

I am losing my joy to everything I already lost, and my fear of what I am going to lose.

 

“There are things we can do
But from the things that work there are only two
And from the two that we choose to do
Peace will win and fear will lose
It is faith and there’s sleep
We need to pick one please because
Faith is to be awake
And to be awake is for us to think
And for us to think is to be alive
And I will try with every rhyme
To come across like I am dying
To let you know you need to try to think”

God, it hurts so much to think. It hurts so much to be as me. I want to be me.

Redeem me here. Redeem me in the pain that goes so deep it never ends. Redeem me in this fear that You are not for me, You are against me.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

But if God is against us?

First

Suddenly, I remembered. He isn’t!
He is not the most important aspect
Of your God-given life. He is just him.
That is all. That is much. But its all.
He is just a man whose temporary,
Just that temporary, tastes are. That’s it.
They waver like the sun when clouds are there.
Hello then goodbye is their hymn in life.
And his will? Well only unchanging if untrue.
So I ask if God would put the hands nigh,
And when the answer was, “I do not know,”
I realized I must stop, and wait and pray.
For only in the time when darkness rages,
Have you found the book of everlasting pages.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑