Indelible Mark

This weekend has been the Catholic Moms Summit (if you haven’t checked it out you still have time! Hurry over, it’s all free, though if you want to be able to watch what you’ve missed later, as well as have access to the live events they held you will need to purchase the pass). I listened to a few talks, all of which were very good. My absolute favorite was by Beth Sri, Birthing 101. Beth is a Catholic wife and mom of 8. You can learn more about Beth here.

In her talk, Beth talked about the things she figured out after her first four births and wished she had known for them. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details of the practicalities of birth here, you can head over to the Summit if you want that information – it’s worth it, trust me!

One of the things that really left me floored was something she said toward the end about the spiritual aspects of birth. She had a spiritual director tell her, when she would share about a new pregnancy, “Thank you for your gift to humanity!” As Beth says in her talk, this sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it? But no! If we believe what we say we believe, if we as parents are truly participants in creation with God the Father, how could this new little person be anything but a gift?

Beth, of course, understands this also. She concludes her talk like this:

“You’re going to contribute in an indefinite way to eternity. Not only is your little person and your experience going to make a mark on the world, but it is going to make a mark on eternity. Forever, this new soul will exist forever.”

Wow, just wow. Taking this opportunity to announce we are going to be welcoming our 6th gift to humanity in March, I can honestly say I have not considered the indelible mark each of our children will have on eternity. On the world, yes. Ben and I have all of the usual hopes parents hold – we hope our children are faithful, brave, compassionate, truthful and cultivate all the other good virtues. We pray that they follow their vocation, that they listen to God’s Will in their lives and that they discover that happiness lies in self-giving love. But an indelible mark on eternity? I’m rendered a little speechless at that one.

Indelible means “not able to be removed,” or similarly, “not able to be forgotten.” By conceiving our children, heaven has changed forever. Every single child, whether they are born into this world or whether their mark is made only on our hearts, will make a new impression on eternity which cannot be forgotten.

God knows the number of hairs on our heads, even if your babies are born bald like mine. Not a single child is forgotten by their loving Creator, and heaven is all the better for it.

Indelible Mark #6
Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Don’t Just Share It – Say It

There is a lot going on right now. And none of it’s comfortable. I think I have to start there. There has been so much, from Covid-19, to the horrifying death of George Floyd, to the protests and riots, to the clearing of the steps of St. John’s Episcopal in D.C. There has been so much to wrap my brain around, and so much to break my heart. And not a single bit of it is comfortable.

I have written and rewritten this post at least 3 times. Because it’s not comfortable, and I have to get over that. Because for too long, so many black Americans have lived in less than comfortable, they have lived in fear. And it has to stop. So my discomfort really doesn’t matter in this moment. It doesn’t hold a candle to what others have lived with their entire lives.

Yes, I am a white person. And as a white person, living in America, I have benefitted from systematic racism. It makes me sick to say these words, but they are ones I have to own. It is also clear that I have to help change that reality. To be silent is to be complicit, and I refuse to let myself be used in that way. So, I’m taking up a challenge that Ivirlei Brookes put on Instagram. She posted a video about how she felt a white person could help in the fight against racism.

Toward the end, she said she was sure people would be posting and sharing about her video, and she’s right. But she asked people to do more than that. It isn’t enough to share a video and say, “oh look, I did my part, I’m good now, right?” Wrong. She called on everyone to go out and say what she said in our own words, staking our own reputation and claiming a new identity as a person who stands against racism in no uncertain terms.

Don’t just share it, say it.

So, here I am.

The first thing I need to do is spend time reflecting on how I have either contributed to racism, ignored racism, or stayed silent while it played out in my presence.

Next, I have to make a commitment to myself that I will not tolerate racism in my presence. It’s not funny, it’s not a joke, it’s not just an opinion, it’s not a one time thing. I need a bright line in the sand over which I will not allow myself to step past with anyone else.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBDEWKZHmEF/

That second point feeds straight into this last one. Ben and I will not raise children who are passive in the face of racism. I want them to be bold, to be willing to stand up for their friends, to have the words to express what they see, here and how they feel, and to demand justice where injustice exists. But above all of these good and true things, I want them to recognize that each person they meet is first and foremost a beloved child of God. That we all were loved into being by our Creator.

One simple thing I am going to do as a homeschooling mom is check what books I am putting in front of my kids. The literature they read is highly influential on how they are thinking. This is true for adults as well. I want to show them a rich diversity of characters and heroes who stand up for what’s right. But I need to be aware of who those characters and heroes are. Are my white kids only reading about other white kids? Or are they finding heroes in Asian, South American, African and Middle Eastern children as well?

There is an app which makes this so easy, there’s no excuse for all parents to be using it. It’s called “We Read Too” and it is a massive booklist broken down by reading level, including picture books. There are books upon books which have children of color as the main characters. There are books with black children in schools, Chinese American immigrants, Hispanic children celebrating Christmas and Easter – you name it. Each book has a short description and picture of the cover. Many are Newbery Award winners among other prizes. This is such a rich resource for all parents. Books spark conversations, they inspire new ideas and ways of thinking and they help us process challenging topics.

Now that this is all out there, it’s still uncomfortable, but a bit less. I have some words now, I am building confidence. I am still learning and listening. There can be no middle ground when it comes to racism. It is past time to end the systematic and pervasive subjection of black Americans to lives of fear, anxiety and less than the best we all have to offer.

So, if you want to become an ally for black people, especially if you a white person, take some time to dig within yourself. Where do you need to change? Make those changes. Listen to the stories of others, share what they are saying. But most importantly, say it yourself, using your own words. Don’t just support the change, be the change in your own life. Every single day.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

#CreatedtoCreate

Happy New Year and all that jazz! It’s been quiet here on the blog with the holiday season joys and fullness. But there’s a lot coming up including a series of posts specifically on cooking during Lent and of course, the Lenten Journals. Big thanks to everyone who downloaded the Advent Journals and used them throughout the season. If you have any feedback for me on those journals, what you liked, didn’t like, wish you had instead, I would love to hear it as I work on the ones for Lent.

In case you didn’t know this about me, I am a crafter. I especially love fiber arts like crochet, cross stitch, and quilting. I have dabbled in making clothes, I have a fascination but with no skills attached to knitting, and a yet to be explored obsession with weaving. There is an underlying desire within me to always be either making something or learning how to make something new. 

I love cooking and making. I make our own bread and yogurt. I make pasta when I can. I make fruit preserves and homemade pies. New recipes inspire me (though not too spicy please!). I decorate sugar cookies for holidays and just because it brings me joy to do so. 

I am a maker, a creator. One of the codes, if you will, that I live my life by is: “Why buy what you can make.”

I know I am not alone in this desire to create, though the “maker community” is larger than you might think. Those belonging to the community are not just artists, designers, or builders. In fact, I would argue that every single person carries the title “creator” even if they do not know it. 

I recently read Every Tool’s a Hammer, a mix up of biography, how-to and inspirational book by Adam Savage. Savage was one of the co-hosts for Discovery Channel’s hit show Mythbusters. In the book, Savage reflects on what it means to him to be a maker, a person who makes [insert pretty much anything]. 

“We’re taking our experiences and filtering it through our words, or our hands, or our voices, or our bodies, and we’re putting something in the culture that didn’t exist before. In fact, we’re not putting what we make into culture, what we make IS the culture. Putting something in the world that didn’t exist before is the broadest definition of making, which means all of us are makers. Creators” (p 44).

Though not speaking from a religious sense, Savage couldn’t be more correct. Consider how the first acts of creation came about. God created the world, the seas, stars, plants, animals, everything. But only humans does He create in His own image (cf. Gen 1:26-27). Humans are told to, “Be fertile and multiply.” Go forth, create! Do as I did. Bring forth new beauty into this beautiful world. This has been the calling of humanity from the beginning of time. 

It is January, the month of resolutions. As I began this year, I was listening to Sarah McKenzie’s podcast The Read Aloud Revival where she highlighted the prolific children’s author and illustrator, Barbara Cooney. One of Cooney’s most well known books is titled, Miss Rumphius. Without giving the story away, I was struck by this one line which I plan to carry forward into this new year:

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” 

We are all made in the image of God. Just as God creates, so to we, at our own level, are called to create. In a hashtag, #createdtocreate.