I am Far From the Perfect (Holy) Family

On the heels of Gary’s tribute to the Holy Family, guest blogger Anne Slamkowski shares a recent post from her Making Room for God blog.  Here at Love’s Sacred Embrace, we have mainly focused our energy to date on husbands and wives.  Thanks to Anne (and Gary) for bringing our children into the picture.

I am Far From the Perfect (Holy) Family

by Anne Slamkowski on 01/03/13

The Holy Family (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) is such an awe-inspiring bunch!  When I think of the perfect family, those three are at the top of the list.  So this weekend when I was at church and I heard the reading from Luke 2:41-51, I was left with my mouth wide open.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.

But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.

Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.  When they saw Him, they were astonished;

And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”

And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”  

But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

The perfect family looked a lot like my family (and we are FAR from perfect).  I could feel Mary’s anxiety like I had just experienced it yesterday (which I had).  Oh too well did I empathize with Mary’s feeling.  The one where I am worried sick and my child starts talking to me like I am stupid (Why is it that you were looking for me?).  Duh.  I was looking for you because I love you!  I was worried!  I was anxious about what would happen to you!  I felt Mary’s pain.  I have a child just like this.  She is wonderful and kind and loving.  She is independent and smart.  She also is a handful, exhausting and makes me anxious all the time.  Until this Sunday, I never put it together how Mary must have felt when Jesus spent 3 days in Jerusalem by himself.  For me, just putting myself in Mary’s place, I could see the picture become quite clear.  Here is how I imagine it going down for me:

Where’s Kate?

I thought she was in your car.


Oh my gosh!  We left her! We have to go back now!

What have we done?  How could we leave her?

As we return back to the spot that we assume we left her, we find Kate.  My heart which has been rapidly pounding for 3 days, finally melts as I see my baby. 

Kate, why didn’t you get in our car? (expecting her to cry and sob)

Mom, why were you looking for me?  I was here with my friends and family.  Why are you so worried?  You should have known I was here.

The boiling point in my body is rising rapidly. I can barely contain my anger.  Are you kidding me?  I was scared to death for days about you.  I felt guilt that I hadn’t noticed you were gone.  I have replayed the scenario 100 times in my head trying to figure out what I did wrong.  I couldn’t imagine how scared you must have been while we were gone.  I couldn’t bare the fact that you were sobbing somewhere and maybe kidnapped by some maniac.  I practically killed myself thinking about the “what ifs.”  And now you are asking me why I was so worried!  I will give you worried, missy!

Now, let’s face it, Mary was a little nicer than me.  She is perfect in all forms – that is why God chose her for his son’s mother.  I am not perfect, so my reaction is a little more filled with sin (because I am a sinner).  For the first time though, I realized the love that Mary felt for her son.  It was obvious in her reaction that she was scared for his whereabouts.  She knew she had given birth to the Savior of the World.  She also probably knew that from birth through the rest of his life – he was a “marked man.”  People were looking for him.  I am sure she wasn’t prepared to lose him at the young age of 12.  My guess is she was asking God to please not take him yet.  Please allow her to have him just a little longer.  She loved him so much.  When we are scared, most of us turn to God.  When we are full of anxiety, most of us turn to God.  Mary, I am sure turned to God. 

I guess what this all told me is that my life is just normal.  Even though I think I am the only oneFamily at dinner that experiences these difficult child rearing years, I am not.  Even Mary experienced it.  When I think I am making hard choices as a mother, there are others around me that can empathize.   We all try our best as parents to raise our kids to be the best possible person.  As a Christian, I pray that my kids will follow Christ in all of their choices and I try to model that (although sometimes I fail miserably).  For thousands of years people have been parenting kids with these same ideals. What Mary reminded me was that we all experience these hard times in parenting.  The important part about the entire scenario is the end when it says, “Jesus continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”  Jesus respected his parents and their decisions (even though he didn’t always understand their choices or actions).  Mary treasured her life that God had given her.  She thanked God for the blessings of parenthood and treasured it in her heart even in the difficult moments (when you think you are going to lose your cool).  As a parent, I know that I have to ask for God’s help because I cannot do it alone.  I cannot survive without His strength.  I want my scenario to look and end more like Mary’s.  I want to step back and treasure parenthood in my heart (not raise my boiling point until I explode – although sometimes that is unavoidable).  I want to find time for God, so that He is right there with me throughout the journey of parenthood (which by the way NEVER ends).

So take time to thank God for the good and the bad of parenthood today.


Posted by Christine Burrows

happiness image #2 Christine

Let’s break it down. Sub= below. Mission = calling, duty. To put oneself below or under the calling or duty which one answers.

Huh? Not words or concepts that resonate in today’s culture. In fact, they seem rather contrary to the contemporary spirit of individualism, independence, and self-promotion. How do we begin to discuss submitting to God or our spouse, when the concept of submission isn’t one most of us often consider? I started with a surrender…

Several years ago, I read Surrendering to Motherhood:  Losing your Mind, Finding Your Soul, by Iris Krasnow.  Krasnow was a journalist with 4 boys under the age of 4 when Ethel Kennedy finally returned her call for an interview. She was hip deep in little boy issues, and simultaneously trying to focus on conducting the interview.  It was bad timing, to say the least. Finally, Ethel said, “You go do what’s important,” and hung up on her.  Iris was devastated, but went on to describe this incident as a catalyst for her surrendering to her calling as mother.

I understood her conundrum. I had 4 kids under 7 at the time, and was doing some balancing of my own – unwilling to surrender one vocation for another.  Krasnow’s story made me smile, and I wondered who would need to hang up on me to give me the push to prioritize my callings, and to do so without resentment.

My own surrender was just beginning.

Flash forward to my first exposure to Theology of the Body. I’m pretty sure I was pregnant with our third child when I first heard a woman give a talk at a retreat about Theology of the Body.  I definitely didn’t get it.  Even though I was a “practicing” Catholic, I had never heard anyone bring God into the marital embrace like this woman did. I thought I was doing well by being a faithful wife, and being willing to have more than 2 babies, albeit on our schedule.  While I may have been surrendering to my vocation of motherhood, I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of submission. I’d say at that point, I was a controlled submissive.  I controlled when and how I submitted to God’s will in our marriage.

Thank God for women like my sister who desired more knowledge and were bold enough to want to share what they learned.  These true evangelists are responsible for spreading the beautiful messages of Theology of the Body my way.  As I learned more, I became more inspired to share, and more submissive to God. It radically changed the way I viewed my husband, my vocation as a mother, our family, my call to evangelization, and my love for our faith.happiness image Christine

Through the grace of God and the courage of these evangelists, I slowly found peace in submitting to God’s plan for me and my marriage.  How many children we have, where we end up living, how much income we generate, how we manage challenges like illness and financial stress, etc. – all managed by peacefully surrendering to God and trusting in his divine providence.

This week I heard a news update about how fewer people are marrying. The analyst spoke about how fewer men want to marry, and perhaps that’s because women have become more aggressive (their words, not mine). Something in this story made me think about that reluctance to submissiveness that we as a culture have. Rather, we have a stronger drive for independence and self-determination. Yet, if we could pause to think about WHO we are submitting to, and from whom we are asserting our independence, this might change. If we openly submit to God, we would desire to enter into the most sacred union God has created for us – marriage.

Surrendering, submitting, and accepting God’s will.  It’s so incredibly humbling!  But in that humility, there is grace and joy.  I strongly encourage all of us to give it a try by taking baby steps in our marriages.  Seek a moment in prayer to ask God for His will in your relationship, and see where that selflessness takes you and your spouse.

What if Politicians Put a Focus on Families and Marriage?

Yesterday was the Indiana Senate debate between Republican Richard Mourdock, Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning.  The debate got national attention when it came to the topic of abortion. The candidates where asked about their views of abortion when there is rape and incest involved and Mourdock’s words got twisted and the media interpreted him saying God intended rape to happen.  (You can read the story here. )  I believe this is not what Mourdock meant to say and I believe he meant that even in the worst circumstances the child was still created and is a creation of God.

But yesterday’s Indiana Senate debate got me thinking about the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice argument that has been going on for years.  This topic creates a lot of arguments about freedom to choose to abort a pregnancy or not.  But what about the physiological effects abortion has on so many women and relationships?  Why don’t the politicians talk about that?  Couldn’t the politicians use this topic to talk about improving families and marriage?

What if Politicians Talked about families?
So, in yesterday’s debate what if one of the politicians responded with the something along the lines of  –

“No, even in this horrible incident abortion is not acceptable because there is a life in the womb.  But if I am elected I will put my focus on creating organizations that help these women and families. Abortion or no abortion if a woman is in this horrible situation the woman still has to deal with so much more psycholgically.  We are putting so much focus on the ability to choose but not on educating society on the importance of families and waiting to have sex until marriage.  How can we as a society live with ourselves knowing that we only care about the choice?  So my stance is that abortion is illegal in all instances but I want to fix the root of the problem and improve our view of marriage and families.  Sex is a wonderful gift given to us from God and it allows us to build our families in His image and likeness.  We are in a society where being a family is not the norm.  We are both in a society and a country that is in trouble because we are losing the meaning of family and marriage.  Many counties and states  within our country live with divorce rates above 50%, many teens believe it is acceptable to have sexual relations and our cultural is much more scandalous then ever before.  The most ideal starting point to fix our country is in the homes where we can strengthen families.  Not only do we have to watch over the present but we need to plant the seeds for the future and if we don’t make a dramatic revolution towards improving families and marriages then we will be doomed”

Why can’t politicians say something like this?

A Rich Young Man and Poor Unborn Child

Catholics Supporting Obama

We are in the heat of the presidential election with just over 2 weeks to go until the election.  Four years ago I was hurt that the Catholic vote went to President Obama – someone who was in favor of Pro-Choice and very clear on what he intends to do if elected.  So, here we are, four years later and we as American Catholics have a chance to rewrite history and go into the voting booths knowing exactly what the Catholic church teaches about life and the protection of the unborn.

Voting Nuns

Over the past few months I have been proud to see the Catholic church speak louder than it did four years ago.  From the USCCB to our local parishes I have heard a constant message – to know the Catholic church’s stance on the political issues.  Over forty years ago our country created a liberal society which included a sexual revolution making sex more about “feeling good” rather than what God intended it to be.  This revolution created the mindset that it was acceptable not to marry and to avoid having kids at the expense of satisfying oneself.  We’ve had enough and as Catholics we want to make it clear that this needs to stop.  It is our time to shine and help the pendulum swing in the direction that favors marriage and families.

While reflecting on today’s homily at Mass and the approaching presidential election I felt compelled to share with you the homily given by Fr. Adam Mauman at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Carmel, IN from last week, October 14.  Fr. Adam titles this homily “A Rich Young Man and Poor Unborn Child” and explains that human life is sacred and that ultimately we will not be judged while at the polls but rather before the Lord while on our knees.

Listen to Fr. Adam’s homily.

~God Bless