I totally cheated yesterday and combined pieces of several blogs I wrote on here with some theology and used it as a speech to the Women of Worship… Here is the text… minus some of the adlibbing I did in the middle. It was very well recieved and I thank God for giving me the courage to air my laundry in front of other for the purpose of bearing witness of faith.
My name is Charron Dean and although I was thrilled to be asked to speak at this event today, I was incredibly humbled at the idea. I told Sister Barbara that I really didn’t think I was the right person for this… she disagreed with me and told me I had to do it… and since she is a SISTER and I was brought up by a good Catholic mother… I hung my head and did whatever she asks..
I am just a mother, a grandmother, a teacher, a catechist, a Girl Scout leader, a merit badge counselor, etc, etc etc… yes, I am busy and I give lots of time in our community, but I am surrounded by amazing men and women who spend hours each day sharing time, talents and treasure with the community, the church, neighbors and their families. I am just one person in a world of giving and loving people and all I can offer to you is my gift to gab, to share and to laugh as we are all on our continuous journey of faith.
In the Gospel of Matthew 7:3 Jesus told us not to notice the splinter in someone else’s eye when we have a plank of wood in our own. I’m going to show you my plank.. You can take care of your own splinter.. I cannot tell you today how to fix your own faith, how to have more, or what miracles it can work in your life. That is something you have to find within yourself. It is a personal journey that is required of each of us. Instead I will tell you of my own faith.. Actually my lack of faith. I am hoping that maybe, just maybe if I share my big A HA moment, my words, my struggles can help you see that we are all here together on this path to deepening our faith.
They say the devil is in the details… and I certainly feel him in the details of daily life… the angst and stress that makes us lose our faith for brief moments during the day, every day add up and in the end hurt us as much as a great loss of faith.
Just over two years ago, we began a new chapter in our lives. We joined the growing ranks of “grandparents as guardians”. My oldest step-daughter has made some pretty poor choices, went down too many hard roads, and could no longer care for her three children. The plan was that someday, she would find her way again, and be the mother we know she can be, but that day isn’t anytime soon. And probably isn’t ever going to happen.. but that’s ok, we have made the transformation….We had a transformation from a quiet nuclear family of two adults and two children (one boy, one girl) to two adults and five children (two girls and three boys). We are now horribly outmanned, but wonderfully blessed. Our days are full of sorrow and joy, sweet moments and loud angry shouts. We are learning about post traumatic stress disorder, ADHD and children’s grief from a whole new perspective.
It took us nine months of phone calls, letters, red-tape and angst to get the kids here. The journey to get them was much like expecting a baby (although at ages 11, 9 and 6, they hardly qualified as babies) with planning and prepping but not really knowing what to expect and how we will deal with life once they actually got here. Just as new parents… we’ve had some feeding issues, some sleepless nights and some unstoppable crying, but we are finding our way together. I have deep faith in God that we were meant to have this large family and HE has put us in a place in our lives where we can not only take care of these children, but rejoice in the little miracles of everyday life.
Throughout the past few years, my husband and I, our children and grandchildren have been through our share of stressors. Health issues, unemployment, hurricanes, earthquakes, another hurricane, family stress, money stress… all the big things that we expect will shake our faith. Ridiculously enough that is when my faith becomes strong. When I see the word, FORECLOSURE NOTICE or Past Due on an envelope delivered to my house. When the phrase “we have to run more tests.. and there is more we need to see came in the same conversation with my doctor…I didn’t panic… I held onto faith.. I was so much stronger than I thought I could be. Yes, I worried and cried, shared my fears with some close friends and asked for prayers but I knew that God’s Plan is perfect and if we had to move, if I had to be scared with an illness or my husband’s health issues.. I would have faith, I would pray and I KNEW, that inevitably we would be alright, and it was.. my health is ok, my husband has a wonderful job he loves and God’s plan was d be put into action and we ended up exactly where we needed to be.
There are days that I despair of ever again having a sane moment. Days when I wake up to dog poop on the living room floor, a stack of dirty dishes and two missing gym uniforms. (Go ahead, sing along, I know you know the words to this song ) These are inevitably the days I am late on paperwork for my actual paying job , running late for every activity and very cranky with those nearest and dearest to me.
Once in a while, those times turn into days and the days turn into weeks and I fall into a rut.. a rut of despair… last winter was a particularly bad time. My husband’s unemployment had hit the six month mark, the savings had been depleted… bills were stacking up, birthdays loomed and the kids kept growing out of shoes. My heart was heavy and I wondered if I could really keep my faith strong in God’s Divine Plan. We had gone from a double income moderately comfortable small family to a single income family of seven scrounging pennies to cover sports , prescriptions, fuel costs and then two birthdays and this brought my husband and I to a very ugly place. We were suddenly confronted with our own insignificance, and it scared us. It was no small miracle when we went to church the next day and the first song was “Be Not Afraid”
For those not familiar with the song, it essentially tells the listener tht no matter what raging river, barren desert or fires of Hell you face, God is with you. I sat deep in my own self pity thinking, I could face the fires of Hell with full faith. I ‘ve endured life’s small indignities , the death of loved ones, struggles and heartache fully wrapped in the comfort of God’s love…. It’s the lost keys, the broken dishwasher, the last piece of bread when you have five sandwiches to make and the unexpected dinner guest that throws me off. AND THEN IT HIT ME!! The evil of the small details that I sweat, the craziness of daily life that I despair aren’t punishment or test for me. THESE are the very blessings God has given me. These silly moments, these crazy days.. these are my blessings!
St. Therese, known as the Little Flower wrote in her memoir “Story of a Soul” that “I may spire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible, I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way.” Her idea was to do everything in life, especially the little/menial things out of a love for God and our neighbors. Doing our daily activities, giving thanks to the many small blessings of our days can be as holy and as faith affirming as doing missionary.. if our desire is to serve God as best we can.
Its strange, this whirlwind life we lead. A (childless) friend remarked the other day that my crazy schedule is precisely why she doesn’t have children. I envied her for about three seconds… and then I felt a little sad for her. I may be running constantly, coordinating events, jumping from one activity to the next, ensuring dinners are eaten, homework completed and teeth brushed, but then I also get to hold little hands. I get to hear the grateful prayers of two young boys who never knew what a stable life was until they got here. I get to dream with my daughter about life after to college. I got to talk to my teenage son about Faith as he prepared for Confirmation. I get to hear the corny jokes that only ten year old boys think are hilarious and I get to do it day in and day out. I do not have wild party nights with friends, but I didn’t have them before I had kids, I didn’t want them. I wanted this.
I love to play Candyland for hours on end, play uno on a snow day.., listen to trombone practice, go to beginning band concerts (which I have to tell you I LOVE) and holler at the top of my lungs when five kids (and a husband) step over cat throw-up on the stairs. Ok, maybe the last one I could live without, but I’ll still take it. It is part of what makes us a family. The dirty socks, the baseball cleats , shin guards, and spilled ovaltine. It’s part of who I am deep in my soul. Thank God, its part of my husband too. The cooking for an army, the running errands, the remembering schedules.. he really is very good at it. When I lay down to sleep each night I try to thank God for all these messy people, the constant activity , the laughter and tears which go with all of it and the guy who helps ground me each night as we collapse together into our bed. This is neither better nor worse… it is family.
My husband and I have both gained many new friends in the community by putting the grandchildren into activities. Because of our very nature, my husband and I are active in the groups too. I have been humbled on many occasions from th3e generosity of scout masters, sports clubs and members of our church as they help us keep the kids involved despite economic hardship. These gifts are simple yet profound. We once offered them to others with abandon and never expected payment in return. It was our gift our responsibility for being given such blessings. We believed that if we had it to give, if we could make other’s lives easier, it was our duty. The gift God has given us now is to see what impact we have made on those around us with those simple gestures. , to know the community we have worked so hard to make better, has surrounded us with love and support as we stand before our daily fires.
St. Paul said it best in his letter to the Philippians I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It doesn’t have to be a catastrophe in my life…I am strengthened in my life every day…. St. Therese’s writings remind us, I can offer up my prayers when I’m cleaning dishes, doing laundry or even when cleaning up dog poop, because I have power in my faith, and I have a loving community to surround me.
I offer to you this prayer.. that you find the strength, joy and love of God in the little blessings each day. The unexpected phone call, the slight breeze on hot summer day… the slow driver in front of you that keeps you from getting into an accident down the road. God’s hand is reaching out for us every day. We but have to reach up and accept it.