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Control Issues? Do Whatever I Tell You.

Do you like to have control over your life . . . like where you live, sleep, eat, work, worship? I do! I’m kind of the queen of control – so much so that I alphabetize my spice rack because order makes me feel in control.

Our army family just moved from one Washington to the other. We uprooted from the Washington, D.C. suburbs and made a cross-country drive to Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington. Moving can be hive-inducing for control freaks like me because the process rips from us the normal control we are used to exercising over our lives.  Very tangibly, your life ceases to be your own: you don’t know where you’ll sleep or eat; who your new friends will be and how long it will take to make them; if your kids will mesh well in their new schools; whether your household goods will arrive unbroken, and if they do; whether your old furniture will fit in your new house. 

We started our move in late-June and continue to live in a hotel efficiency apartment while we await quarters on post. 

During week one of the move, we watched nervously as the packers unceremoniously boxed possessions that we have curated over decades. I grew anxious as the movers stacked everything into an already half-full moving van, and I couldn’t help but jump in and give direction on how to stack my furniture so that it might have a better chance of arriving intact.

Our drive was a whirlwind. (Though it was beautiful. Check out my Instagram to see pictures from our trip.) One morning I woke up and could not remember if I had slept in Iowa or Nebraska.  It turned out to be neither – we were in South Dakota!

This move, I have tried to surrender and re-surrender my instinct to control an uncontrollable situation.  After learning yesterday that our household goods delivery is being delayed, I felt pretty out of control — and to be perfectly honest — cranky. I popped over to daily Mass to try and re-re-re-surrender this struggle because somewhere in my control freak heart, I know that God’s got this.

And here’s what I heard at Mass:

“When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them.” (Gn 41:55).

Do whatever he told them ­­– those five words sent my brain straight to the Wedding at Cana, when the party had run out of wine, and Mary told the steward, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:6).

At this point in my life, Jesus is telling our family, “Trust me. Yes, your house is in boxes in a warehouse. True, you’re not sure where to send the kids to school next year.  But do whatever I tell you. And right now, I’m telling you to trust me.”

What is he telling you?

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May is for Mary Gardens

May! It’s the month of Mary, and we’re already halfway through.  Parishes are honoring Mary with May Crownings and daily rosaries.  We, too, can bring our parish traditions of honoring Mary into our homes.  How are you honoring Mary this month?

One of my family’s favorite month of Mary traditions is to plant our Mary Garden.  Every year around mid-May, my children and I make a pilgrimage to the plant nursery to pick out annuals and a few perennials to add to our garden.  I always reserve a few of these plants to a pot on the patio that serves as my Mary Garden.  The colors and fragrance create an inviting space to read, pray, or gather with friends.

With so many beautiful flowers, choosing what to plant can involve a lot of decisions.  I like to think, “WWMP? – What would Mary plant?  What would Mary have planted if she walked in your garden, lived in your climate, and enjoyed your yard or garden pots?

Here are the flowers that we chose this year:

Columbines – Another name for the blue columbine is our “Our Lady’s Shoes.”  Myth is that that they sprouted wherever the Blessed Mother stepped on her way to visit Elizabeth.  Columbines are hearty and can last in the sun or the shade.

Bleeding Heart – The bleeding heart is a perennial flower that truly looks like a pink heart.  These flowers remind us of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, her love, and even her heart’s sorrows.

Roses – Roses have long been the flower of Mary.  When Mary appeared in Lourdes, St. Bernadette said that our Lady was wearing a white garment with blue sash and that there were yellow roses on her feet.  St. Juan Diego picked rose petals from the hill where Mary directed him to build a church and put them in his tilma to carry to the bishop.  It was on this tilma that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted.

Lily of the Valley –  Another legend is that when Mary cried at the cross, her tears turned into Lily of the Valley.

Lilies – “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” – Luke 12:27-28.  If you plant lilies, let them serve as a colorful reminder to trust in God.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my gardening ideas, I’m curious to know yours!  What do you plant in your Mary Garden?