Archive for July, 2010

Tumultuous Teen Years

Two years ago, we had our five children (a.k.a. young folks or simply ‘the kids’) living under our roof, one of whom was a college girl home for the summer, one a recent high school grad,  two teenage drivers, and we were getting ready to move the three youngest (11, 13, and 16) and ourselves to England for a 1 – 2 year job tour.  Jane didn’t have her driver’s license yet.

We spent a year away in England, returned (huge  t r a n s i t i o n!) and spent a year back in our old home with the same three “youngest” but – not the same.  Teens change a lot in a short time.  (Also, Kristin had left “teenage-dom” in May of 2009 while 12-year-old Brad aged up to replace her as one of four teens the month after our return from the U.K.)

Now, just under two years later (and with overlap), we have three in college, four with mostly full-time jobs, and Brad (now a teen!) is home most of the time alone with me.  However, even he was gone for two separate 6-day stretches to camp and the beach and plays on the neighborhood tennis team.  Big sister, Kristin, lives in Minneapolis, Kathryn is currently in the country ( 🙂 ) and comes and goes with great frequency or works hard and does a variety of responsible, adult-type activities.  Jane works 5-6 days a week in preparation to go off to college, and spends many hours away, driving to social occasions with various groups of friends.  (After all, Jane changed schools five times in six years, and is about to go to college to top it all off!)   J.T. recently returned from a two-week Action trip to Indianapolis (!), and is also working pretty steadily Monday – Friday and finally, has been participating in the neighborhood swim team when he is home.

John and I even had one evening in the last couple of weeks when there were no kids in the house overnight (NONE)!  In less than two years, we have moved from a full-house to hints of an empty nest.  Not really, of course, but this is certainly hard to wrap our minds around and gives us some cause for tension – some say this is normal (what is normal?) …

My mother used to tell me as I was struggling through the real energy crisis of having five children age 7 and under, that I was going through the “Turbulent Child-bearing Years.”  It was often an apt phrase to describe the difficulties.  Well, I have coined my new descriptor for the current state of affairs in the Elliott household – the “Tumultuous Teen Years”.   I think I am having a harder time with these maybe because I am older and tired-er (is that a word?)

Dear Lord, HELP!


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Vote NOW!

My friend and community brother, Steve Dalgetty, made this cool commercial video which has made it to the final round of the cheaptickets.com contest.  If enough people vote for his video, they may win.  How cool would that be?   Not only would they win, but the video is really funny and good, (my humble opinion) and all in just 30 seconds…

Hopefully your interest is piqued.  So…

Go to:


Look for “Jim W.” (their filmer), and the title of the video is “The Hotel Pregnant”.  You can vote every day (so check back) till July 27, 2010.

Pass this info on to anyone you think can help!  Y E A A H !

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Mary and Martha

When I was fourteen in the Catholic Church, I celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation. I did as I was told and looked for a holy Christian from history to be my role model and inspiration at that time.  From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, I found Martha to be my companion on the Way.

Some talk about becoming an “adult” in the Church when they speak of Confirmation.  I understand it as a deepening, strengthening, and ensuring measure designed to aid the believer (often an older child) in achieving the mission of being a more committed Christian.  It did  help me as a Catholic to better bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by actions.

So though I was decidedly not an adult when I celebrated Confirmation, I was inspired by the saint I chose, Martha, and my experience of the sacrament at the time.  I found a new power to listen to the Word of God proclaimed and be able to focus on that proclamation and the preaching afterward, especially at Mass.  But my saint and friend in the faith, Martha got a lot of bad press because of the way she treated the Son of God.  At Mass yesterday, the gospel retold that famous story of inhospitableness and how Martha got anxious and ran around like a chicken with her head cut off when Jesus came to visit.  She left Mary, her sister to entertain the Guest, then got ticked off at her for not helping with the details of dinner.  (Does this sound at all familiar to you?)

That story, which touched my heart as a 14-year-old young lady is still a needed reminder to shore up my emotions and attitude when undertaking service.  After asking him to back up her complaints, Martha was “set straight” and mildly scolded by Jesus.  Homilists and preachers have used this as an excuse to sideline Martha and point out Mary’s virtues.  O.K., I get that.  But I have always appreciated St. Martha, and reasoned, if she were really so bad, the early Fathers wouldn’t have declared her to be a saint already!  And although I know how “bad” I am, I aspire to sainthood myself.

Fast forward to Sunday, July 18, 2010, and I am listening to this reading and the priest discussing it afterward.  Our Father provided me with an insight into my own tendency to get anxious and panicky when guests come.  I thought he said, “Maria, I gave you your emotions to help you in your relationships.  But everything in the fleshy “old man” needs to be purified and reconstituted in the blood of my Son, Jesus, in order to be a new creation!   Submit your emotions to me, and let the Holy Spirit restore you to wholeness.”   Then He reminded me about the practical things I ought to be doing to improve hospitality in our home – most of which require my own hard work and preparation well BEFORE the guest arrives.  Martha should be “cut some slack” for getting upset as the Holy Spirit hadn’t been sent yet, and telephones weren’t invented either.  But I have all I need, by God’s grace, and more.

I should be choosing the better part of Mary even while serving as Martha did.  The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, and Peace, etc.  The more I serve full of the fruit, the more Christ is really in me – the Hope of Glory!

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In my Church today, the second reading is from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 1.

One of the most crucial lines of that scripture follows:

But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.  It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. Col. 1:26-27

If you are baptized, then Christ IS in you – this is the hope we all have to see the glory of God on earth.  As we build His kingdom, we are literally carrying Christ everywhere we go.  Wherever you are, Christ is, all the more as you live and move and have your being in Christ.

The mystery hidden from ages and from generations past is now manifested – Go tell the good news!

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