Monday, April 24, 2017

Radio Interview Coming Up!


Me, about 10 years old, and already bugging my parents about becoming Catholic.

Our local Catholic radio station, Salt and Light Radio, is kicking off its pledge drive this Wednesday, April 26. During the drive which will last through Friday, different parishes will be highlighted, and my parish will be on the air from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday.

I will be interviewed about my journey to becoming Catholic from 4:30 - 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. You can tune in from anywhere in the world through the internet: http://www.saltandlightradio.com/ .

I wouldn't mind a few prayers as it's a little different on the other side of the interview process, besides being live on the air!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Carbonated Holiness




We celebrated all Twelve Days of Christmas. When Epiphany came, I had to fly to Oklahoma to help my dad relocate to a retirement home in a whirlwind of activity that lasted five days. On the flight home, I was exhausted. I resolved that I would unplug from all activities for awhile and just focus on home life. And God laughed.

On January 16, I began training to be the Interim Editor for the Idaho Catholic Register (ICR). This promoted me from a contributing, freelance writer for the ICR to an employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise. Because of this, I have been intending for three months to post this disclaimer (which is also on my sidebar): The views expressed on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise.

I also went from being a few hours per week, work-at-home mom to over 20 hours per week, work-at-the-office mom. Life shifted. 

I did not expect to love my work as much as I did, and I found the experience to be wonderful. I enjoyed covering different events. I interviewed our bishop, Father Mike Schmitz, and Catherine Adair. I was given a story assignment (still in process) that involved interviewing other national speakers, and I'm floored each time I think about it. I was taught basic use of InDesign, and I got to meddle with Adobe Premier Pro one afternoon. I've learned more about writing, editing, marketing, and layout. It has been a blast!

The kids adjusted better than I feared, and now our 3 year old loves going to preschool. I'm still homeschooling the middle two kids though, and this was relegated to the not-so-ideal method of workbooks with lots of reading. Despite less than perfect circumstances, the kids enjoyed asking me about my day, and they liked the different stories I'd tell them about events and people.

God was not done with surprises though. Although the odds were against it, February started off with my finding out about baby six, due around my 44th birthday. Morning sickness made interim editing an interesting challenge. I am grateful I work for a truly family-friendly employer. I can't imagine the nightmare women face when they are stuck with employers who have no respect for pregnancy or family life. 




Of course, life doesn't stop just because your career took a turn and you're on a learning curve . . . and you're pregnant. Flat tires, winter illnesses, school events, house repairs, birthday parties, pet woes, and some such or one-thing-or-another cropped up with more regularity than it seems the powers that be ought to allow.

I'd fuss in Confession that I didn't have time to read or pray or go to daily Mass. I'd sigh when I looked at the stack of books by my bed, too weary to open them. I missed time with my kids during the day. I was torn between loving the exhilaration of my work (I truly loved it) and missing parts of my former life. Transitions are rarely smooth and clear.

Somehow though we all made it to spring and the second trimester. We all got through Lent, and now it's Easter.

The new editor is fabulous, and I've enjoyed learning more about journalism from him. My hours are going to drastically change, but I am happy that I'll still be writing for the diocese. I'm grateful for my job every day. I'm also thankful to have more time to do things with my family and with my parish.

A friend posted on Facebook a quote from Anne Lamott: Laughter is carbonated holiness. 

I laugh when I think of God laughing — not cruel or condescending, but with love — over all my plans and perfectionist ideals. I want smooth sailing; He wants me to learn how to peacefully navigate a storm. 

When my priest asked me last week how things were going, I told him that it's been humbling — none of my plans ever seemed to work, yet things always worked out anyway. Then we laughed.  


Dying to self is painful, no doubt about it. But resurrection is joyful. With resurrection, we can see the ridiculous nature of our own selfish ways and ambitions. We can laugh and remember that holiness isn't stiff and strict with dour schedules and rigid expectations. Holiness is grace and love; laughter sets it free in blissful bubbles.




©2017 Emily Woodham




Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Grace






All my kids love the snow, but my youngest adores it. My two (almost three) year old finds absolute glee in shoveling snow. She sees her older siblings at work and rushes out to help them. However, she does everything on a whim. If we tell her it's time to come in before she's ready, she makes a fuss. Or if we were to tell her she absolutely must shovel snow, when she'd rather make a snowman, she would be sure to resist!

My fifteen year old knows shoveling snow correctly is actually hard work. He knows that within minutes his nose will run and his cheeks will sting. However, he trusts my motives when I tell him he needs to go out and shovel. He'd rather play a video game or read a book, but he goes out into the snow without a fuss. When I go outside to join him, he's smiling, even laughing. When his brothers, who've become bored, break out into a snowball fight, he stays the course. He chats with me a bit while we work, and there is no resentment in his voice. When he's done, he goes inside satisfied with his job and makes himself hot cocoa.

I didn't ask God for a message from Him this Advent, yet my mind seemed to come back to this over and over during the last four weeks: "Love what must be done." This paraphrase of Goethe by Christopher Perrin has stuck with me for four years, and this Advent it became a prayer, again. 

I have been reading the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. My priest told me to read it slowly, and so I have. (I lost it for awhile, which slowed me down even more . . .)  One day after going to Mass, my two year old wanted to snuggle for awhile instead of getting back into her car seat. I took advantage of staying put and prayed in the way de Sales suggests. In my prayers it struck me how much St. John, the Apostle of Love, trusted Jesus. John stayed with Jesus when all the other apostles abandoned Him. 

The Gospels are pretty good at recording the foibles of the apostles, yet they never say that John complained or tried to stop Jesus from doing what must be done. John simply loved Jesus and because of that love, trusted Him. It can be easy to dismiss Jesus' trust in the Father because of His divine nature. Yet John, totally human, also gives witness that love trusts. This trust is faith.

"Every morning when we roll out of bed, we also make a decision: We decide to give up, or we choose to trust in the grace of God to accomplish the mission He's assigned to us," said the deacon. I missed all but those last words of his homily a week ago. It was precisely what I needed to hear. 

Grace ties everything together. To love what must be done and to have the faith to do it, takes grace. 

My youngest child shovels the snow for fun. My fifteen year old shovels the snow with grace. He loves and trusts me, and he loves what must be done, despite wanting to do something else. 

I have encountered many amazing people this Advent who are overcoming painful and tragic circumstances. Despite death, divorce, job losses, and myriads of other problems, these people are still happy about Christmas. They have a light that shines from deep within them, and nothing can put that light out. They live in grace.

And grace is not just for extraordinary circumstances. Grace is for everyday living. From cleaning spilled milk to shoveling snow, from starting a recipe over because the cake didn't rise to reading a bedtime story again and again  . . . and again, grace is there to enable us to do all things in love.

As I finish writing this, the clock turns to Christmas Eve. Love Incarnate is soon to be born. The fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets and our every Hope is coming to bring us to Himself. Oh, how He loves us! With our growing pains and imperfections, still He loves us! 

He doesn't resent emptying Himself. He doesn't grumble about being born in a stable in poverty. He doesn't say snide things about us because He has to save us. He doesn't give up because we're too difficult or too ugly or not worth the time. He isn't critical or condemning. He loves us and loves what must be done, despite having the full understanding of all that entails. 

His love is not arbitrary. His love is so true and certain, that we cannot comprehend it. 

We can talk about unmerited favor, the power of God at work in us, and so many other definitions of grace, but I believe (keeping in mind that I'm not a theologian) grace is another facet of the love of God (divine love), which is both unmerited and empowering. To abide in Jesus and His grace, is to soak in His love, or to use my priest's turn of phrase, "to marinate in His love."

To be honest. waiting feels like work to me. It feels the same way shoveling snow does. I have to choose to wait every Advent. 

But Christmas! Christmas is playing in the snow! It's basking in light and marinating in love, even if I still can't find our nativity set and I'm waaaay behind in wrapping gifts and baking pies. Christmas is faith that takes in the circumstances and still trusts and obeys. Christmas is grace. Christmas is love.


©2016 Emily Woodham








Sunday, December 4, 2016

Test




Test

by Emily Woodham

(For my friend who mourns. I love you.)


slips down the threads woven
slips down my feet upon them
pendulous, air is tight
lungs compressed, I breathe

dark treads on luminescence
dark moves the beating rapid
closing in, choice is nothing
single path, no turning

prostrate, silence echoes
prostrate, pain relentless
fragmented faith clings
hardened hope yearns

lifting to a scarred Face
lifting to a pierced Hand
the bitter cup stays
no solace, save in consuming


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Night Seasons


Originally published 7/10/10. Slightly edited.*

The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: 
thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel:
my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me: 
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
--Psalm 16:5-11 (KJV)

Night seasons are a part of life, but when we make the Lord our portion and happiness, we have nothing to fear.  Hearts that are dedicated to Him continue to find His wise counsel as darkness tucks in the corners of the sky.   

I think of my friend who will wake in the middle of the night to nurse her newborn, and a friend's daughter who is in labor tonight with her first baby. There are parents who can't sleep as they long for healing for their sick children. Heros work night shifts, giving up the daily rhythm of life, so that others might live.  

I remember summer nights as a teenager, unable to sleep because I was filled with such excitement about my future. I remember laughing with my husband until the wee hours of the morning, telling each other jokes and reminiscing about silly things. I think of fitful nights of worry that melted into peace because of His presence. I am humbled by all the times His forgiveness and mercy brought solace when regrets of the day crowded the silence of night. His love for us does not run out, no matter the time on the hands of a clock.

How many prayers will be said for the first time tonight?  How many whispered conversations between couples?  How many tears?  How many giggles?

The night belongs to Him as much as the day.  He rules over all.  His Holy Spirit guides us when the sun is brilliant and also when there isn't a star to be seen in incomprehensible darkness.  He never slumbers nor sleeps. 

Set the Lord before you always and you will find courage, gladness, rejoicing, rest, and hope.  He will guide you through the night seasons; He will show you the path of life.  Abide in Him, and you will find fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

*In the Douay-Rheims translation, this is Psalm 15. Even though I'm Catholic now, I still love the language of the King James Version for this Psalm, which doesn't affect the meaning of the translation.

©2010-2016 Emily Woodham

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Becoming Catholic: The Missing Piece

A gift from good friends on our Confirmation Day



I was asked to write my conversion story for the Idaho Catholic Register before I wrote The Day We Decided to Become Catholic, Parts I and II for this blog. Although I talk about the timely conversation between a priest and me on in my blog, I share very little about what was discussed. That part I saved for the Register, which was published on October 7. (Correction: In the paper, and for two years, I could have sworn that I met with this priest on May 31, the Feast Day of the Visitation. Something caught my attention today though, and now I'm not sure what day it was . . . ah, the forgetfulness of a sleep deprived mother. I only can say for certain that it was a Friday, either the last one in May or the first one in June in 2014. Although I checked and double checked a calendar, it seems I still screwed up the date. No matter what though, it was an important day for me. And now for some ice cream to go with my humble pie . . .)

So if you want the missing piece, pop over to the link and go to page 5 (which also has a book review I did on Crime and Punishment: https://www.catholicidaho.org/documents/2016-october-07iii

To read the story in order:

The Day We Decided to Become Catholic, Part I

From Canterbury to Rome (page 5)

The Day We Decided to Become Catholic, Part II

And don't forget to subscribe to Idaho Catholic Register!