Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Idea and the Reality

I have had plenty of time to think this week. My husband and two boys have been away taking care of my daughter's house and dog while she and her sisters have been in Florida with my mom. The idea of being alone for a week was amazing. I would wake early as I usually do and work on my manuscript, go to Mass, then head to work. About 4:30 each day, I would get a call from my dad about where we should meet for dinner, close the store, enjoy time with my him and then head home to the dog and more writing time...and of course, Vanderbilt Baseball. Truly, I did enjoy a couple of days of the peace and quiet. But in reality, I MISS MY KIDS. I truly feel that they are just a huge part of my writing process. For some reason, when they are here and I have to squeeze in quiet time and work around all the "things" they "have to" do, I get more done. The idea of writing in a little cabin in the woods is just great, but the reality is that I believe I need the craziness. Who knew?

This idea/reality living is handed down from generation to generation in many families. I hear it all the time. People tell me, "If I could be alone for a week, I could..." and "If I had the money, I would..." or "You know what we should do, ship everyone off and ..." Well, I'm just saying, that some of us, probably most of us, just work better amidst the crazy daily grind of life.

I've been reading quite a bit about our Catholic way of life and by the way, being Catholic/Christian is a way of life. I know that without all the Sacraments and Sacramentals that make up my Catholic way, I would probably be okay for a couple of days but I would miss all the "things" that have become a part of who I am much in the same way that I MISS MY KIDS. I would miss all the little things that bring me closer to Christ.  I love praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. I love visits in the Chapel and praying the novena to St. Joseph. And speaking of St. Joseph, I read about the life of St. Andre this week and realize that Joseph is an awesome intercessor for healing as well as many other needs. I love the daily readings, morning prayer and being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion every day. I love asking St. Anthony to help me find the things I've lost. I love lighting the candle before I write in front of the Blessed Mother statue that was my grandmother's. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that I love my faith. I love the journey. I love the Catholic way of life. And, I barely touch all it has to offer. I still have a lot to learn about all that has been handed down.

This idea that I could write more, that I could be more effective and more efficient if I were just left on my own is just that, an idea. This idea that if I had all the time that I spend on kids and husband and house and prayer, life would be easier, better, less crazy, is just that, an idea that is not my reality. In reality, it is all those "things" and more that make up my wonderful, full, chaotic, fun Catholic way of life. It is all those "things" and people that make me love the journey and I wouldn't trade any of it for all the peace and quiet in the world.  And, just sayin', I MISS MY KIDS.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Working in a Family Business

Last night I got all cozy in bed and suddenly heard one of my older daughters in the hallway. It was not late so I called out, "Hey. Just thinking about you. Glad you're home." Dinner with friends. Early night. She came into my bedroom and commented on her younger sister being awake and I said,
"Hey, come in here and rub my feet." My older girl who hates to touch feet offers, "I can rub your feet." Really! Yippee! I could not get them out from the covers fast enough. I love a good foot rub after a long day. As she massaged, she talked about her day and her night and related a story about seeing a girl she graduated from high school with at the restaurant last night. The girls asked her what she was up to and she said, "Work." "And where are you working?" Turns out, she's an event planner and her job sounds really cool and my daughter could not imagine why she didn't just offer the info on the front end. We laughed and she said, "Hey it's not like she works for her mom or something. When she asked what I was doing I told her that I am coaching high school volleyball and working at the bookstore for my mom and my dad." Again, we just laughed. The conversation ended and so did the foot massage.
While getting my hair cut this morning, it dawned on me...Hey! Wait a minute! I work for my mom! Is there something wrong with that?

Thirty-five years ago, my mom bought St. Mary's Bookstore from the Diocese of Nashville and soon after I started working with her while going to Vanderbilt/Peabody and getting my teaching degree. The entire time I worked at the store, when asked, I would say, "Oh I'm just doing this until I get a teaching job or until I can open my own gift shop." Ya know, not wanting any of my friends to think that I would work for my mom or for Jesus my whole life. After graduating, I did go back to our high school, St. Cecilia Academy, much like my daughter, and coached and taught P.E. and yet continued to work at the bookstore.  Hmmm...much like my daughter.
For almost thirty-five years, I have worked in my mother's bookstore. She has moved the store from a two room building off Harvey's Dept. Store in downtown Nashville to a 4-story, once apartment building, just out from downtown, a block from the Cathedral. She has maintained her goal of having "something for everyone" and keeping the store "beautiful", honoring the very One whose Word she spreads. Her goal has always been to bring others to Christ whether through example, by word and deed, or by providing something that could serve to change a life, such as a book or one of the wonderful sacramentals of the church that remind us to stay close to Christ through prayer and the sacraments.
People ask me all the time, "What are you doing now?" "I'm still at the Bookstore." And ya know, it's good. I want to be there. I want to continue the work. Granted, I'm nothing like my mom. I am much rougher around the edges, not near as kind (the salesmen seem to love to take a jab at that when the occasion arises), and just not as humble and sweet. But, we make it all work. I love what I do and let me just tell ya, working with family (or should I say family working with me)  is not easy. As a matter of fact, anyone who works with me should gain a ticket to Heaven just for the time they've put in here. Think about it. You work all day and go home together and over dinner remember that something was left undone and you blurt it out while cutting your pork chop and suddenly the rest of the day churns into a full conversation and despite trying not to, work is brought home and sitting with you and your kids at the supper table. Now there may be something or everything that wasn't handled the way one of you thought it should be and you become a little miffed. So, through the years you try really hard not to bring up work at every family event, but it's not easy. It has become a part of your lives. But the more we work together, the more we understand one another, the more we know how to choose between the good stuff to talk about at home and the hard stuff to talk about at work.
So, working for your mother... Yes. I am still working for my mother and I love every minute of it. I work with my husband and my mother and my sister and my sister-in-law's sister and my second daughter and for the summer, my third daughter and her friends and sometimes even my youngest daughter. My son will help with work on the website as he did last year, I'm sure.  Together we have a Family Business. Together we work on the business of Jesus. Together, as in the beginning, we work to bring others closer to Christ, to offer something for everyone and to help to build up the city of God. I hope so anyway.
And, the answer is...there is nothing wrong with that.

Our Lady of Consolation - Carey, OH

I love this display my sister and my mom put together for "Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces". I love the little grotto that was given to my grandfather many years ago in exchange for work he had done at the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL. I love the pink car to drive me around to the different grottoes and Marian shrines around the U.S. this summer. (Convertible?) I love all the brochures that the different Shrines sent to the store for us to hand out so customers might go and visit some of the beautiful shrines themselves, and the small overnight tote/hat box. How creative! I came home to this after being at the Religious Book Trade Exhibit in St. Charles, IL this past week. What a whirlwind that was but it was great to see familiar faces in the bookstore industry and to share ideas and to talk about and sign my book. I am grateful to the wonderful people at Franciscan Media/Servant Books for a great couple of days.

This weeks pictures are from the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH. Not only is the history behind this shrine amazing but the continual stories of conversion and healing are something to be seen for oneself. We noticed the recent dates on "things" that people "left behind". Everything from leg braces to whiskey bottles to letters and pictures are left at the church after pilgrims have been blessed by Our Lady in some way. Our Lady of Consolation is a "dressed" figure and many of those who have had a healing in some way make a dress for her in gratitude for answered prayers.
Our Lady of Consolation

Prayer Requests left for Our Lady

Dresses made in thanksgiving to Our Lady

Left Behind

Inside the original Church

Shrine Park

Stations in Shrine park

Happy Father's Day