My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Another Gratitude Post: 19 Things I’m Thankful For

Once I set out to accomplish something, it’s hard to get me to set down the baton and admit the race is over. Furthermore, I’ve publicly announced my goal, so there is no stopping me now–the fact that Thanksgiving has been over for 3 months means NOTHING to me. Two more posts about gratitude… after this one.

Since it is the nineteenth of the posts on gratitude, why not go for “Nineteen things that I am thankful for RIGHT NOW”?

1. Ruby is a bit sick, but she’s holding it together rather well. She keeps calling her cough a “Naughty Cough” which is mostly inexplicable but quite hilarious. I can only hope that we don’t all get Ruby’s Naughty Cough. But if we do, we will shame it into submission.

2. Cory did the dishes for me tonight. I have been trying to convince him for several years that he should get around to doing this a bit more, and lo and behold it is WORKING. Turns out nagging DOES work.

3. I am thankful for my friend Polly who took a very long walk with me in the sunshine today. Today was a glorious day, and it was made all the more lovely by the river, the sound of a meadowlark, and connecting with a good friend.

4. I am grateful to both Ruby & Scout for a good–I’d even say GREAT–morning around here that didn’t involve any yelling. Woohoo!

5. I am grateful for The Cellar, and I’m especially grateful to their employee Becca who directed me to a delicious red wine that I am sipping presently.

6. I am grateful for my health, and that of my family. My dad is healthy, my mom is healthy, and though they both have their issues, we are NOT where we were last year at this time.

7. I am grateful to people who have a sense of humor, like whoever took the time to make this:

8. I am grateful for a warm, safe house. After a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 50s, I find myself suddenly feeling chilled to the bone after the weather turned cold.

9. I am grateful to Mary Pope Osborn, and the great work that she does that has entertained my children so much in recent months. Jack & Annie are almost real people around here, I think Scout even asked if we could look for Frog Creek, Pennsylvania on a map.

10. I’m grateful for my Secret Sister. Secret Sister is this thing we do at my daughter’s preschool, sort of like Secret Santa but all year round. My SS gifted me Enstrom’s toffees. If you’ve never had such a delicious treat, check them out here.

11. I am grateful to my sweet hubby, who is currently gearing my kiddos up in the living room something like this:IMG_4718

12. I am grateful for good books. I read a lovely one recently called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It’s a story about a young woman who aged out of the foster care system. Also important to the story: this woman communicates in the Victorian-era “Language of Flowers,” where a red rose means romantic love and a thistle means misanthropy. If you’re at all curious, there is a great interview with the author here:

13. I am grateful for coffee. EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.

14. I am grateful for my sweet niece who turns 8 today. Years ago, on the day she was born, Cory and I drove up to Cheyenne, Wyoming so that we could catch a glimpse of her. Seems hard to believe that she’s now so mature, when it doesn’t seem that long ago I held her in my arms.

15. I am grateful for small favors, like when someone holds the door for you while you’re carrying something or when you find exactly what you’re looking for at the grocery store without having to wind your way back to an aisle that you inadvertently forgot.

16. I am grateful for The Mindy Project, which is not coming back until April 1st, but I can be patient a bit longer. PLEASE, please, please, Danny, DO NOT SCREW IT UP. You either, Mindy!

17. I am so incredibly grateful for the teachers at my daughter’s elementary school. Her kindergarten teacher returned today from a 3-month maternity leave, and the long-term-sub was such a gem in her absence. The other kindergarten teachers and the paras pitched in so incredibly well. I feel so fortunate that there are so many kind people who are out in the world working with these littles and teaching them about life and literacy and how to hang your snowpants up.

18. I am grateful for my church, a place of community and love. The pastor recently gave a sermon on “Faithfully Side Stepping Tradition”–about welcoming EVERYONE.

19. I am grateful for it all, this messy, imperfect, bittersweet life. I am not a person that exudes joy in every step, or pretends that all is well when indeed it is falling apart (as it often does in parenthoodland), but I think I can honestly say that there is nowhere I’d rather be than right here in this place.

Do you have something that you are grateful for RIGHT NOW? 

My new church: I guess that I do this now

I was raised Catholic. Capital “C” no meat on Fridays during lent pray the Rosary wear a St. Christopher medal know what purgatory is fast for Ash Wednesday give up chocolate for lent go to confession and genuflect for exercise Catholic. For a very long time, I went to church. As a young person, it was “required” of me by my beloved mother. I will be truthful: It was almost never fun, and I went because I had to and not because I had some deep spiritual yearning. My mother would sit between my brother and me during mass so that we didn’t bug one another or, alternatively, dissolve into fits of laughter over something like the time one of us (I’ll never tell) farted in church. As a young adult, and furthermore as a genuine-beyond-my-early-twenties adult, I embraced the Catholic faith for its rich history, comforting ritual, its preferential option for the poor and its firm footing in acts (of charity, service, faith, etc.). I even went to grad school to study ministry and theology, but that’s another story.

The two horrible churchgoers (and yes, that is a "Members Only" jacket)

The two horrible churchgoers (and yes, that is a “Members Only” jacket)

Clearly, like nearly everyone I know, I had a storied history with organized religion, but I chose it for my own. Both of my girls are baptized in the Catholic church. I belonged to a very good parish in Denver, and I don’t know that I’d personally call it “great” but it was as close to great as you’re likely to get in the Archdiocese of Denver. You see, in the Catholic Church, so much of your liturgy, your community of faith, and your overall experience can depend on the church leadership. I grew up in a very progressive diocese in a very different era. The church had a momentum in the post-Vatican II era that, in my opinion, was not sustained. Where my home parish had embraced lay leadership and even lay homilists in the 80s, my experience as an adult was quite a bit different: lots of head bowing, poor seating arrangements and on the rare occasion you find a wonderful liturgist and homilist, well, then, the priest acts like he’s a rock star (and wears the Madonna microphone to boot).

Never mind the effect of having two girls and realizing that I’d have to tell them Nope, there are all sorts of things you cannot do or be in the Catholic Church simply because you are a girl.

When I moved to Fort Collins, I went to mass at a church and I went again and I went one more time. There was no avoiding it: this church was unwelcoming, archaic, closed-minded and in complete contradiction with my faith. For me, it closed the door on this chapter. I had to find a new church. Possibly, an entirely different denomination.

And I did. After searching (more soul than physical), I found a church that I enjoy. Furthermore, I have been–gasp–participating in the church. I went to a book club at the church the other day.

We read Faith by Jennifer Haigh. This novel, this book club, and this whole experience could not have been a more ironic introduction to my new church. The book is about a family in Boston during the height of the sex abuse scandal in 2002.

Photo from

Photo from

The Lord works in mysterious ways, right? Well, the Lord couldn’t have been less mysterious at that book club. It was fairly obvious to me how the non-Catholic world sees the Catholic church. Through the eyes of nearly a dozen (mostly) middle-aged (mostly) white Methodist women, I felt a definite distrust for any religion that would let a bunch of celibate dudes run their church-life.

And I had to agree.

My time in the Catholic church was, for the most part, good. Unlike several characters in this book, I do not have to reconcile any major abuses at the hands of the church. Fortunately, I can walk away with a hug and say, “Let’s just agree to see other people.” I wish the church of my birth and my mother’s (and grandparents and great-grandparents, etc.) before me no ill-will. But it just wasn’t working out.

I’m sure that  my relationship with the United Methodist Church will have its own issues. Every honest relationship is challenging in its own way. However, I am excited to see what this new relationship has in store for me. And my girls.

What about you? Do you have a faith community that you love?  If you have kids, is it important to you to raise your kids in a particular faith-tradition?