Sunday, March 12, 2017

The trouble with Eli

Eli is our firstborn son.  The trouble was, we weren't supposed to have a son.  Our doctor told us that we would be having a daughter.  We were going to name her Madeleine.  We painted the nursery pink and had lots of girl clothes ready for the big day.  The trouble was, we had a boy instead.  What a shock!  Luckily we had boy names picked out too, and we named him Eli.  Well from that moment on, our lives were changed.  Everything revolved around Eli.  As the firstborn, everything he did was a first.  We took lots of pictures and videos of special moments in his life as he grew up and got older.  He loved sports, especially baseball and basketball.  We got him involved on church teams.  He moved into select teams in different leagues and venues.  We logged many hours taking him to practice and watching games and tournaments.  The trouble was, we had to help out with concession stand duty and make adjustments to our work and social schedules when conflicts arose for game times.  Eli also got involved with Boy Scouts and church activities.  He was very popular and had lots of friends.  The trouble was, he got invited to lots of birthday parties.  You can't go to a birthday party without a gift.  But we became friends with the parents of his friends and got to know many new people that Eli brought into our life.  Besides sports and extracurricular activities, Eli was also smart in school.  He got good grades and test scores and moved into honor classes over time.  He was also funny and liked to have a good time.  He had parties at our house, went to sleepovers at his friends houses and was always on the go.  The trouble was, he needed a ride.  So the family taxi service became a reality as drop offs and pick ups became more common and frequent.  He continued to play basketball and there were still lots of games and tournaments to go to.  But we loved to watch him and his team play ball and win games.  Once Eli moved into high school, he found out that things were more competitive and he didn't get as much playing time.  The trouble was, he got cut from the JV basketball team his sophomore year, so his basketball career was over.  He tried tennis and seemed to do well with that, but it's not the same as team sports.  Eli was still popular and good looking.  He met a girl that he liked in Spanish class and they quickly hit it off.  Maddie was her name.  She was pretty and had a big smile.  They seemed to be made for each other.  Most kids in high school go through many different relationships, but not Eli and Maddie.  They have dated for over two years now and are both juniors.  Once Eli was old enough to drive, he wanted to get his license.  The trouble was, we had to teach him to drive and endure some scary moments of feeling uneasy with a new driver behind the wheel.  Once he got his license, he wanted to have access to the family car.  The trouble was, he wanted my Ford Mustang and my only other option was to help him buy a used car or come up with a different solution for myself.  I decided to sell my motorcycle and get a new, used car for myself.  That way, he could have the Mustang, which we knew the service and maintenance history was good.  Like all parents, we waited at home nervously while Eli went on dates with his girlfriend, Maddie.  Eli got a part time job to help pay for his new car expenses and insurance.  He was really acting mature for his age.  The trouble was, he was still only 16.  Eli got his first speeding ticket and was involved in a minor car accident.  Luckily, the accident was not his fault, but it was still nerve wracking when we got that text from him saying that he was in an accident.  The trouble was, some time prior to that incident, we got some other news from Eli that parents do not want to hear.  My wife noticed that he had not been eating and was acting strange.  He called her into his room the next day and with tears streaming down his face, he told his mother that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant.  The trouble was, he was still only 16 and she was only 17.  Teenagers, who were now faced with decisions that they were not prepared to make.  We met with both of them and let them know that their lives were going to be changed forever.  Coming from Christian families with an upbringing in church and a strong faith background, they knew they had made a huge mistake, but they were ready and willing to take responsibility for their actions.  Abortion and giving up the baby for adoption were not an option.  They both wanted to have the baby and make the sacrifices they needed to make to take care of the baby when it arrived.  High school schedules had to be adjusted, college plans had to be reevaluated.  We met with Maddie's parents and were all in agreement that we would support our kids and the new baby the best we could.  We watched as Maddie went through her pregnancy and noticed that she and Eli were true to their word.  They both went to their doctor appointments together, made the necessary adjustments to their work and school schedules and were frankly acting very mature for two teenagers in their position.  The trouble was, they still had to deal with other kids at school who were not so nice about their situation.  So they found out who their true friends were and they prepared to have a baby.  Well the big day came.  The baby boy arrived, a few days early.  After a long day and night of testing and labor, a little baby boy was born at 4:25 in the afternoon.  They named him Luke Joseph, and he was as cute as could be.  Eli and Maddie were proud parents and they smiled broadly as they let their brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents hold the new baby for the first time.  He was going to have lots of aunts and uncles and support from his extended family.  For all the things that have happened in Eli's life, both good and bad, for all the adjustments and sacrifices we made to take care of him and do what we thought was best for him, we realized that he had turned out alright.  He was a good kid, who made a few mistakes along the way, but he was a good kid.  The real trouble with Eli is, we love him very much, and we would do anything for him because we are his parents and we love him unconditionally.  So even though this is not how we envisioned life for Eli to be, we will be there for him and Maddie and now his, son Luke.  We will continue to love them because that's what parents do!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Today's post is a guest post from Sister Marie Paul Curley:

“Return to me with your whole heart!” (Joel 2:12) “With your whole heart” means choosing to enter decisively into this season of Lent. I’ve heard Lent called “a retreat for the whole Church.” Some people might groan when they hear the word “retreat,” but for me, a retreat is like a spiritual birthday party in which:
1) we come to spend quality time with the Friend who loves us most,
2) we find that the Friend is hosting a surprise party for us, and
3) our Friend gives us a stack of wrapped gifts.

Turning to God or making time for God is the best way we can enter into Lent, and it’s also how we can become more receptive to God. God responds to our openness by giving us special gifts. We can unwrap the gifts, appreciate them, and put them to good use. Or we can be unappreciative guests: we can come late to our own party, leave the gifts unwrapped, or even unwrap the gifts but leave them unexamined in our closet.

Lent has arrived at just the right moment for me because, in a world that is more than ever haunted by division and suffering, I need the reminder that Saint Francis de Sales shares with us this week: God doesn’t abandon us. Instead, he sends his only Son to be with us, even in the most difficult of moments, bringing the gifts of grace, love, and peace. 

I pray that you may wholeheartedly receive God's gifts to you this Lent. 

God bless,
Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP