Category Archives: gratitude

bad attitude changed to gratitude

My Bad Attitude: How I Learned to Give Thanks for Family Challenges

We were headed in opposite directions, my husband to soccer and me to fulfill our weekly adoration hour with the rest of our brood of children. It wasn’t really anything new or extraordinary, single-parenting in adoration.

Admittedly during the adjustment period three years ago when we first began adoring as a family, two pairs of arms and eyes were needed to manage our youngest ones as the clock ticked off sixty minutes, but since then we’ve all learned how to spend an hour in the chapel with (relatively) few interruptions or needs for discipline. Continue reading

9/11 The Day the World Kept Turning

9/11 memorial

Heavy with my fourth child, I remember the phone call that alerted me to turn on the television.

With my college roommate on the other end of the long distance line, I sat on my bedroom floor staring clueless and confused at the screen. My three little ones (at 5, 4 and 2 years old) were carrying on around my perimeter with business as usual, completely unaffected by the troubles of the world.

The morning news cut to live footage of the first tower with smoke billowing from its side and the newscasters tried their best to spin a story while still devoid of facts.

As I listened to their banter and speculations, a second plane appeared in the New York skyline. Its purposeful trajectory made clear we were witnessing something very different than first considered.

Continue reading

tactics for deaing with stress

Mama’s Drama 2: Putting Myself Back Together

In my previous article I wrote about how I sometimes feel like an old tattered teddy bear, who’s been tossed, toted and squished until the seams burst and the stuffing erupts.

Unfortunately, unlike the teddy bear’s frayed parts, my episodes of impatience and lost temper are anything but cute.

Honestly, I try to be a patient mother.

I try to listen with interest when someone interrupts my attempt to write an article for the fourteenth time in a row, so that they can tell me the uber adorable trick they’ve just taught their baby brother.

And I try to maintain my cool when two siblings start barking their opposing sides of a debate five minutes after we’ve all walked outside of the church doors. I try, but sometimes I fail.

Continue reading

Bird Song: a poem

by Sasha Brelinsky

I suppose writing is in the blood here in Brelinskyville. My daughter, Sasha Terese, wrote this poem recently for a poetry contest being held at our local library.

Bird Song

Up in a tree,
on his brown seat,
out of his throat,
comes a soft tweet.

The sounds echo ’round,
deep, soft, high, low,
enjoyed by all those,
standing down below.

A soft white feather,
a flash of brown,
a hint of red,
as singer flies ’round.

And every Summer day,
he gives us his song,
he tweets through it all,
no matter how long.

His job is to praise,
Him Who made he,
gave him his voice,
and feathers to see.

feral cat

A Mangy Cat and the Mercy of God

The mews from beneath our trailer instigated some investigation. Following the faint cries, my husband crawled under the mobile house and emerged with a tiny kitten in hand.

Unaware that a mother cat had chosen the underside of our home as her birthing place, we were even more surprised to find she’d left this furry offspring behind.

Seeing as our little home was already bustling with two boys and two dogs, we figured what was one more mouth to feed?

Continue reading

There’s No Room for Envy in a Grateful Heart

The house was buzzing with the usual school morning routines. There was foot traffic up and down the stairs and hallway, dishes being banged and stacked, and water pouring through the faucets. The dog was rubbing against every available leg and a rooster was crowing in the distance as the clock clicked passed 8:30.


In an attempt to corral my students to their assigned seats around the table, I grabbed my wooden beads and began that familiar recitation of the rosary. Like the Pied Piper’s entrancing tune, my rhythmic words drew my children forth one by one.

Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Employing Some Far-Sightedness: Stopping My Own Body Shaming

this body was made to carry life

Standing in front of my bathroom mirror taking note of my late pregnancy body, I sigh. At the end of my maternity fashion choices, I find myself frustrated and disappointed when those wide-banded shorts won’t make their way over my protruding abdomen. Belly button gone, a varicose vein bulges in a twisted pathway the full course of my left leg. Leaning in closer, I spy the gray hairs that refuse to be disguised and the red blood vessel that tattoos my face.

Still staring at my myriad imperfections, it hits me that I’ve made this same self-deprecating evaluation before. Throughout most of these last seven and a half months of pregnancy, I’ve been unsatisfied with my body. Oh sure, I’ve smiled and said thank you to the compliments from friends, but all along internally balking. They were just being polite, of course. What’s really beautiful or glowing about swollen, rounding and stretched out body parts?
Now it occurs to me that my persistent dissatisfaction might really be a sign of ingratitude. Do I really believe that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? If I do, how can I abuse the facade God gave me? If I am made in the image of my Creator, how can I spend so much time grumbling over His portrayal?
One doesn’t have to look far to see where I’ve developed these distorted notions of beauty. Flip the pages of a modern woman’s magazine and you’ll find perfectly airbrushed, sleek bodies scantily clad in size-two frocks balancing on stiletto heels. Even in the average ob/gyn’s office you’ll likely find pictures of fresh-faced mothers with tight baby bumps that will never expand (by choice or force) more than twice. 
Hollywood seems a bit more interested in motherly tummies as of late, but alas the praise is generally reserved for cute little bumps. And the greater achievement is highlighted later on when Star Mama flaunts her return to pre-prego size just six weeks postpartum.

It certainly doesn’t help when well-meaning allies casually question whether I might be carrying twins or, oh so charitably, equate my size to that of a “house.”

With nips and tucks, botox and Spanx, the female form is cast and there’s no room on the red carpet for a Botticelli girl. There’s a cream, treatment, procedure or prescription guaranteed to improve your odds of attaining post-Renaissance perfection. And there’s contraception to insure our fertility doesn’t leave us vulnerable to too many motherly expansions.
Blessed with two lovely daughters, I must reconsider my personal evaluation lest they adopt my lowly opinions of physical maternity. Truth be told, when in the company of other women, I’m inspired by their beauty. The difference is that I see them, the “whole” them not some deconstructed parts, and they are each and every one beautiful. So, too, I want my children to see, themselves and others, with genuine clarity not through the cloudy lens of our sterile, sexualized culture.
Taking another look, a deeper view, I consider those gray hairs represent my years of experience and the wisdom accumulated during a life well-lived. My blood vessel tattoo reminds me of my first home birth when after 25 hours I pushed my sweet son, Jude, into the wide world. The lines around my eyes came from so many smiles erupting at the sight of my children’s achievements. Rounded hips have made ample resting places for transporting toddlers.
My sagging breasts invoke memories of hours spent gazing down at little ones as they satiated their hunger. Well-worn tummy muscles provide a safe and comfy home for growing life. And that lost belly button was sacrificed in trade for the joy of watching tiny parts stretch and kick from my inside out. Stretch marks are the badge of my vocation and swollen varicose veins signify my body’s task of providing for two.
So much more than these visual parts, I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I’m a volunteer, a teacher, a writer and a helpmate. Every appendage and organ serves a purpose, like the architecture of a temple, but what use is a temple if it stands as an empty facade? The Holy Spirit has work to accomplish, so this temple of mine was never meant to remain pristine.
Indeed there is value in accentuating the positives and nurturing a healthy, strong body, but wishing away the marks of time is pointless. If God made this body, then this body is good. So, from now on when I pass a mirror, I am going to try my best to step back and employ some far-sightedness. Vanity may be a sin, but right perspective has the potential to inspire appreciation for the gift of this temple that I call me.