Tag Archives: High School

The Ultimate Recommendation

This week I was filling out a parent form on my daughter for the college counseling department to prepare her college counselor to assist her on her applications to college.  “List three to four adjectives that describe her.  Describe her greatest challenge and how she handled it.  How has your child developed the most?”

It did make me think, however, what if someone was filling out this same survey about me?  What would it say?  What if God himself was answering the questions about me to see whether I could make it to “the next level.”  Would I like the responses?  Would they make me cringe and wish I could do something over again?  Or would I be proud of what my Father wrote about me?

The good news is, God knows me better than I know myself.  He knows how many hairs I have on my head.  He knows my comings and my goings.  He knows the good adjectives that describe me, and the constructive ones that I know in my heart I need to change.  He knows my greatest challenges, and has even walked through them with me.  He knows the challenges that I have ahead that I cannot even envision right now, and He already knows how they will turn out.  He knows how I have developed as a Christian, and He hopes I will make good choices in the future as I continue to become the best version of myself.

Just as I look forward with a mix of joy and trepidation to the next year of college applications with my daughter, I know that the years ahead will be a mixed bag for me as well. Thankfully, my Counselor will write me the ultimate recommendation, and I just need to keep striving to make sure I make the final grade that really matters.

“No single act for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted.” – Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

Disciple’s Prayer

Jesus, my Lord and my brother, let me do your work for Your sake, and not for my own pride or self-satisfaction.  As long as I want what You want,  I will act prudently and safely.  If I fret at my failures, I am working for myself and not for You.  Your will is to be done, not mine.  I hope to attempt all the good within my reach, but I will not be over-anxious about the results.  If I lose my presence of mind and my peace of soul it is because I am thinking more of Your work than of Your will.  I need only do my best.  The rest depends on the people around me and Your grace.  Let me never think I am bigger or more able than You.  I now put all things into Your hands.  Amen

 

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Those Darn Teenagers

I know this goes along with the territory of being a parent, but I worry about my teenagers.  I not only worry about my own teenagers, but I worry about their friends.  I not only worry about their friends, but I worry about teenagers I do not even know, the children who go to our school.  There is something universal about being a parent.  When one child suffers, we as parents all suffer.  When one parent despairs, we all despair.  When something unfortunate happens to a child, it could have just as easily been our child.  We are all one in these moments.  No one parent is immune to the influences of our crazy world on our dear, beloved children.

What do I worry about?  Probably the same things you worry about.  The big stuff, and the small stuff.  Their grades, their immediate futures, their long-term futures, their circle of friends, their driving to and fro.  Their stress level, their happiness, their lack of happiness.  Their faith life, and the times they question their faith.  Their temptations, their reliance on the electronic devices in their lives, their ability to say no when they need to say no.  Their ability to say yes when they need to say yes.  Will their college roommate speak to them if they continue to make mountains of dirty laundry in the middle of the room?  Did they take their multivitamin today?  Ok, whew.  One less thing to worry about.  Is it not so much harder to be a teenager today than when we were teenagers?  I feel like a 45 record in saying this (hello child of the 70’s), but it is exponentially harder to be a teenager today than it ever was for us – and we felt like we had it rough!

I would like to say that I “give it all up to God” when it comes to my children and their daily challenges.  However, I don’t.  I feel like I can fix it.  My husband feels like he can fix it.  However, as parents, we can SO not do this alone.  We need the unconditional, non-judgmental support of our friends.  If we think we are alone in our challenges, we are not.  We need our faith communities – youth group, positive and faithful adult role models, or just a great relatable priest, youth minister or religion teacher can make a huge difference to a teen.  We need the model of the Holy Family – a mother and father who lived simple lives but still had the reality of raising their child to be a functioning adult amidst normal day to day challenges.  (Did Joseph regularly grab any milk on the way home from work?)

And of course, most of all, we need prayer.  There is a line in the Marist Mother’s Prayer Group prayer that says, “whatever we may do for our children, let us never fail to pray for them.”  Our role as parents is to help them to know, love and serve God.  No short order in our current, crazy world with distractions galore.

Here are two prayers I found, one for both a boy and one for a girl. (source: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com)

Prayer for my Teenage Boy

Dear Lord,

Help me to love, without expecting anything in return.
Help me to engage, even when I don’t fully understand him.
Help me to provide, quietly and gently to give good gifts.
Help me to speak, not to sow criticism but encouragement.
Help me to say sorry, to own up when I mess up.
Help me to forgive, even when I feel hurt or ignored.
Help me to hope, to breathe out joy and vision for the future.

Help me to carry my son, through the patchwork of hopes, dreams, hurts, worries, anger and the joy of teenage years.
Help me to remain open and soft
To understand and not to judge
My brilliant son.
Amen.
Prayer for my Teenage Girl

Dear Lord,

Help me to love, when she is angry and upset.
Help me to engage, when she needs a friend and a listening ear.
Help me to provide, to accept her needs and give out when she is needy.
Help me to speak, not to sow harmful words, but encouraging ones.
Help me to say sorry, to apologize when I fail her.
Help me to forgive, each day to provide grace and a new start.
Help me to hope, to pour out love, acceptance and truth.
Help me to carry my daughter through the patchwork of hopes, dreams, hurts, worries, anger and the joy of teenage years.
Help me to remain open and soft
To understand and not to judge
My beautiful daughter.
Amen.
We are all on this journey of parenting our pre-teens, teens and young adult children together.  Let us support one another in words, deeds and mutual prayers.  The occasional knowing hug, or well-timed text message.  Let’s get all these monkeys to heaven.

 

O When the Soup Comes Marchin’ In

I was sick for a solid ten days before I dragged my sorry self to the doctor.  “Bronchitis and Sinusitis,” she said.  Four prescriptions later, I was on my way to recovery, or so I thought.  When the antibiotic kicked in, I was sleeping 12-15 hours a day.  Laundry was piling up.  My feral children were wondering if I was going to throw them some raw meat for sustenance.  I would get up, wander around, and wonder when I could go back to bed.  We were surviving on take-away pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.  That’s when the soup started arriving.

First, a frozen batch of tomato bisque arrived from my friend Cathy – a definite “open in case of emergency” soup.  Next, my friend Gae brought Italian Wedding soup.  It fed my family for three to four meals.  My daughter said, “Thanks for the nice dinner, mom.”  I told her to please thank Miss Gae instead – I could take no credit. When all this ran out, St. Tricia of Alpharetta came through the back porch with baked potato soup with all the fixings.  That’s when I realized that soup is love.  Soup warms the tummy and the soul.  It is comforting and sustaining.  Soup is communal and often comes from a family recipe that means something to the giver.  Soup is little bit of love.

Jesus said, “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”  When you donate a bag of rolls to My Sister’s House, make a homemade cake for the men’s shelter, donate onions or apples or a turkey to Campus Ministry at Thanksgiving, you are feeding people both body and soul.  You meet their immediate need of hunger, but also their deeper need to know that someone loves them and cares about their well-being.  You are feeding their need to be seen and recognized as important and as a valued member of the body of Christ.

I promise that there are far greater needs in our Marist community and beyond than my small and temporary situation.  I just hope that my recent example reminds you that as Saint Mother Theresa said, In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Here’s to all the small things that we can be thankful for in this week leading up to Thanksgiving.  I am incredibly thankful for my family, friends and faith community who sustain me body and spirit during good times and not so good times.  Small gestures are never forgotten by the receiver, and are certainly never forgotten by our Father in Heaven.

I know that our children are coming up on exams, which brings stress and anxiety.  Here are some prayers for both exams, as well as for older children who are traveling back from college or work to be with us during the holidays.

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed holiday with friends and family.

Prayer During Exams

 Notre Dame, Our Lady, they call you the “Undoer of Knots.”

Turn your eyes to us during our exams, and undo the knots in our minds,

that we may think creatively and compellingly in those critical moments.

Undo the knots in our bodies, that we may channel stress

in good health and with noble composure.

Finally, undo the knots in our souls, that in our study and success,

we may not become puffed up with the wisdom of this world,

but come instead to know the Wisdom of God, and the heart of your Son, Jesus,

who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Amen.

(Source:  Fr. Chase Pepper, CSC – University of Notre Dame)

 

Prayer for Exam Anxiety

Heavenly Father,

Only your peace can sustain me through the anxiety and stresses of exam nerves.

Your peace surpasses all understanding.

I ask for this gift and choose to lean upon you at this time.

Lord, come and remind me of your unfailing love.

Remind me that you hold me safe, you understand me, and you cherish me.

I lay down my fears before you.

I leave them at the foot of the cross, for you have overcome the world.

I choose to give you all my concerns, worries and fears of failure.

I trust that your loving hand will hold me through these exams and lead into a bright future.  Amen.

(Source:  living-prayers.com)

 

Prayer for Travelers

 God of the journey, your grace and favor has always been with us as you called us by name before the foundation of the world. Thank you God for your faithful, steadfast love. Jesus traveled from his home to share your good news with all lands.

May the Holy Spirit surround all who are going to new places or sites of past visits. Lead the pilots, drivers and all passengers to be patient at all points. Remove all fears and anxieties about those left behind and those one meets at the end of the trip. Open my eyes, open my ears to see You and hear You each moment of the path. Amen.

(Source:  Rev. Jim Bracke, CSC – University of Notre Dame)

 

St. Christopher Motorist Prayer

Grant me O Lord a steady hand and watchful eye.

That no one shall be hurt as I pass by.

Thou gavest life, I pray no act of mine

May take away or mar that gift of Thine.

Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear me company,

From the evils of fire and all calamity.

Teach me to use my car for others need;

Nor miss through love of undue speed

The beauty of the world; that thus I may

With joy and courtesy go on my way.

St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers,

Protect me and lead me safely to my destiny.

(Source:  Catholic Online)

 

You Are Always Welcome Home

The times, they are a-changin’.  Despite the 80 degree temps around these southern parts, the leaves are finally starting to turn fall colors.  The election coverage promises winds of change.  Our children are growing out of the clothes we just bought them (ahem).  We are also about to change our clocks back.  (Thank you God!)
This Homecoming week has also made me think of the many changes at Marist.  The campus has grown in remarkable ways – the Foundations, peer leader and parent mentor programs all help to build the Marist community – a community like none other.  We have our large and welcoming Campus Ministry with retreats for every grade.  When I look around this beautiful space, I cannot help but think that the many physical changes have made Marist a better place for our students, parents and alumni on a far more than physical level.
When I started Marist back in the dark ages, I had braces, wings shellacked back with tons of hair spray, and my fair share of pimples.  I was ready for the next step after elementary school, but I had no idea where I was going or where I was to end up.  When I left Marist, I was a completely different, fundamentally changed person.  Marist’s mission of forming the whole person in the image of Christ through academic excellence, Catholic education, and the spirit of Mary initiated the formation of who I was, as well as the person I am today. For that, I will be forever thankful.
 “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”
 
– Thomas Merton
My film-making-crazy son has been creating the “hype” videos for Marist this past football season.  This week, he created a Homecoming video which gave me a bit of a chill.  The lyrics to the song he chose say, “Come to me.  Oh, your weary soul…is always welcome home.  You’re always welcome home.”
This lyric not only spoke to me as an alumae who always feels welcome at Marist, but as a Christian, who is constantly being called home to communion with my Savior.  I am always welcome home, no matter how many mistakes I make.  No matter what I do outside of the box, I am always welcomed home.   I just need to ask.
I cannot believe I am quoting my son, but here we go.  His words from his video said, “Let’s stand side by side.  The young and old.  Current and former students.  All those who have shaped this school into making it what it is.  Let’s celebrate that our alumni are home again, because we can all call our community a family, and Marist, our home.”
I couldn’t have said it better.  Welcome home, students, parents, and alumni.  Welcome home, Marist.  You always have a place.  “You’re always welcome home.”

The Days are Long but the Years are Short

Last week during a visit to my mother’s house during spring break, I found myself having a rare opportunity to relax by myself for a few moments. I was sitting on the beach and watching a little boy about three playing joyfully in the sand. I thought to myself that it was only yesterday when I could not take my eyes off my two busy toddlers as they ran back and forth from the surf. Now my eldest was half-way across the world on the Bearing Witness trip visiting Dachau and Auschwitz, and my youngest was somewhere on the island doing an eight mile run by himself. When the kids were young, the days could feel so very long. I often reminded myself, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

I cannot believe that we are already in third term. Where has this year gone? I have been told that time goes by more quickly the older we get, and this has proved to be true. My daughter was sick this week and was home from school yesterday. We were lying in bed together chatting, and I thought to myself how the next two years of her time at Marist are going to go by so very quickly. In some ways I want to just stop time, or at least slow it down to make the moments really count.

I really enjoy a blog written by a very grounded Christian college student named Grace Valentine (gracevalentine.org). Although this list is written from the point of view of a girl, many of the life lessons could be translated to our sons as well. She encourages young girls to embrace their innocence, and stop trying to grow up too fast.

51 Things I Wish I Knew in High School (from gracevalentine.org, 12/31/15)

  1. Do not spend more than $9 on mascara. CVS sells ones that work just fine.
  2. It won’t matter later on that he was on a high school football team.
  3. Your push-up bra is obvious.
  4. Chill with the eyeliner.
  5. If he cheats on you, say goodbye.
  6. Stop subtweeting or Facebooking your life.
  7. Don’t tell your mom you hate her; you will regret it.
  8. Innocence is beautiful.
  9. Call your grandma just because.
  10. Some people will never like you; don’t let it bother you.
  11. Kill them with kindness.
  12. TPing/Rolling houses is all fun and games till it rains and you have to clean it up.
  13. You were beautiful before he told you.
  14. Don’t believe stereotypes. Get to know people personally instead of judging them.
  15. Don’t let one mistake define you.
  16. But learn from your mistakes.
  17. Eat home-cooked meals. You will miss it one day.
  18. Your mom can see a fake friend before you can.
  19. Your dad can see a crappy boy before you can.
  20. Enjoy your metabolism while it lasts.
  21. There is more to life than Friday night.
  22. If your parents buy you something, whether it’s a McDonald’s or an iPhone, say thank you.
  23. You are more beautiful than you will ever know.
  24. Prom is not the “best night of your life,” but go anyway.
  25. High school years are not the best years of your life.
  26. However, enjoy high school while it lasts, you will miss some of it.
  27. Bad times make you appreciate the good times.
  28. It’s only a bad day, not a bad life.
  29. Stop comparing yourself to others; that will never do any good.
  30. Learn to forgive. Also learn that not everyone deserves your trust.
  31. Learn to apologize.
  32. He isn’t the love of your life.
  33. Sex does not make you mature or an adult.
  34. Stop pretending to be someone you are not to impress people.
  35. Keep a journal.
  36. You’ll regret spending $90 on that Abercrombie fur vest.
  37. Eat the dang doughnut.
  38. Five for $27, appreciate it, and never forget it.
  39. Pray for your future husband every once in a while.
  40. Pray for your future kids too.
  41. Take those ACT prep classes seriously.
  42. Hug your grandpa every chance you get.
  43. Write thank you notes for everything.
  44. Tell your favorite high school teacher she rocks.
  45. Nothing good happens past midnight.
  46. Put others before yourself.
  47. Unless that person is an ex-boyfriend. You deserve happiness – stop worrying about him.
  48. If you love God, then you should love people.
  49. His plan is greater than yours (Romans 8:28).
  50. Stop speeding; especially on turns. Also stop at stop signs.
  51. Enjoy life. It goes by faster than you think.

 

These thoughts of hers make me think that my time is shorter than I think for imparting words of wisdom, values and life lessons on my children before they are out of my reach. Then I have to remind myself that I have been trying to do this their entire lives, and probably will continue to do so even when they are adults! Even my 74 year old mom has moments where she still wants to parent 47 year old me – I think that inclination never quite goes away.

“Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

 I also have to remind myself that I am not perfect. In fact, I make a lot of parenting mistakes and mishaps. However, I pray for guidance, strength and patience, and ask God to help me to be the best parent that I can be.

“Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is ‘forged’ by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows.”

– Pope Francis, during visit to Cuba and the U.S. (source: Lifeteen.com)

So I am going to continue to try and train my not-so-young children in “they way they should go,” and hope they remember at least a few of the times that I actually got it right. And I will continue to work on my mission of helping them to know, love and serve God every day on their journey toward adulthood.

“And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, April 24, 2005

If you have a spare moment, take a look and listen to a favorite song of mine called “Blink” by Revive that encourages us as parents to slow down the pace of our crazy life and enjoy these gifts of children we’ve been given. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4itARWKR-A)

Peace to all of you on your journey towards Easter.