"Abundance: Trust vs. Hoarding" by Barb Szyszkiewicz (Franciscanmom.com)

#MondayBlogs: Abundance: Trust vs. Hoarding

I have a pantry in my basement. This is an old photo, taken when all the kids still lived here full-time and we went through several boxes of cereal each week. My pantry is less crowded now, because there are only three of us here full-time. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of shopping for only three (or four, when my daughter’s home from college). This means that I wind up buying too much, and some of it gets wasted because it goes bad before I can use it.

But I feel the need to keep that pantry (and my upright freezer) full.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

There’s this threshold in my mind — this imaginary line I must not cross. I was down to less than a quart of milk on Wednesday, and I knew I wouldn’t get to the store before Friday. Never mind that I live 1/4 mile from the nearest gallon of milk; I was expending a lot of mental energy over the lack of “enough” milk in my house. It’s not like anyone around here (except me) even regularly uses milk. But that milk level was below my threshold of comfort, and it bothered me until Saturday morning when I finally made it to the store. We still had some milk in the jug. We had not run out. And as I said already, my neighborhood is not food-insecure.

Thinking about this gets me a little anxious — even now that I have almost a full gallon of milk in the fridge.

Where do I draw the line between having too much stuff that I “might need someday” and having enough to use for what I need right now, as well as something to share?

Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12: 25-26)

I’ve run into this issue before with medical supplies, but that’s different. VERY different. Medical supplies are non-negotiable, and I do need to be very aware of what we have, what we need, and whether there is enough.

As for the other things, how do I stop feeling that I must fill that available pantry space and instead be grateful for what is there? How do I dial back my threshold of “enough” when there is obviously plenty there? How do I trust enough to share from that abundance?

Because I really want to stop the worrying that kicks in when there’s only a quart of milk in the house.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

No Matter How Small…#MondayBlogs

For the past two weekends, TheKid has been earning service hours by volunteering as a stagehand/cast babysitter at a local Catholic grade school musical: “Seussical Jr.”

Other than driving him back and forth to that school 3 zip codes away, and financing Candygrams for his friends in the cast and fast-food dinner on a double-show Saturday, I had considered myself done. I didn’t have to sell the ‘grams or the soft pretzels; I didn’t have to hang up costumes or fold programs. And honestly, I wasn’t going to go to the show. For all I knew, TheKid was backstage the whole time, “threatening the little kids with a squirt gun” when they got antsy. I wouldn’t see him (or his handiwork) at all.

And then he tells me he’s “in” the show (translation: he runs onstage in one scene and shoots a water gun at Horton the Elephant) so I have to come and watch.

I admit, I was a reluctant audience member. But this show was captivating, and I’m glad I went. The kids did a great job, their Seussian hairstyles were hilarious and fun, and the music was catchy.

Via Flickr (2009), all rights reserved.

Based on everyone’s favorite Dr. Seuss books, “Seussical the Musical” is a mashup of stories featuring the Cat in the Hat as the narrator who gets in on the action sometimes, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle, Daisy-Head Mayzie, and many others. It’s been a while since I’ve been immersed in Dr. Seuss, but the whole show is in his trademark anapestic tetrameter, and I was thrilled to hear an entire song based on my favorite Dr. Seuss book of all time: McElligot’s Pool!


There were nods to so many Seuss favorites in this show. But the storyline is what really got me.

“Seussical” is the most pro-life musical I’ve ever seen–two pro-life subplots, no waiting!

Based on Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg, both these subplots involve the kindhearted elephant who’s “faithful, 100 percent” to the commitments he makes. Horton responds to a call for help from what appears to be nothing but a speck of dust, but he recognizes that there is a whole tiny world on that speck, filled with tiny people and tiny families and they deserve to be protected. He’s ridiculed for this, and some hooligans steal the clover on which he’s settled the speck of dust for safekeeping, but Horton will stop at nothing to save that tiny world.

In the middle of all this, Mayzie, the vain, flighty mean-girl bird, takes advantage of Horton’s helpfulness and takes off for the tropics while Horton babysits the egg on her nest–for almost a year, in all kinds of weather, the whole time worrying about the Whos on that clover somewhere.

Throughout the show, the refrain “A person’s a person, no matter how small” was constant.

If you get the chance to see this show performed, go see it. “Seussical the Musical” features life-affirming messages in a brightly-colored, rhyming package.

Images via Google Images, licensed for noncommercial reuse, and Flickr, all rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS


Of Parenting, Free Will and Poor Choices

One of the hardest things about being a parent is letting your kids make their own mistakes. rain bootsIt’s not too bad when they’re toddlers and they want to wear their rain boots to the grocery store on a hot, sunny day. There’s a natural consequence there. They’ll get hot, sweaty (and stinky) feet. They’ll learn the hard way that this isn’t a good idea.

Once your kids are older teenagers and young adults, the mistakes they make go beyond the fashion faux pas of the terrible twos. They still have to learn the hard way, and it’s a lot harder on the parents.

We’ve hit one of those “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” situations as parents, and the helplessness I feel is a lot greater than what I felt when those same children, as two-year-olds, suddenly and inexplicably refused to eat the grilled-cheese sandwiches they’d demanded for lunch every day for the past three weeks.

Now, it’s not that my kids have never screwed up before, but usually you find out about it after the fact. At that point it’s all about picking up the pieces, in whatever form that takes, and helping them navigate the natural consequences of their actions.

This time I watched it happen and there was nothing I could do to stop it (despite many ahead-of-time parental warnings, which did happen–and which were ignored.)

I can take them to Mass every Sunday for their entire lives, making sure to work around sports schedules and theater schedules and birthday parties and all kinds of other things, but I cannot make them want to go. I cannot force them to make the right choice and to go to church before they go to the beach.

They have the gift of free will, and they used it. They chose poorly. And that makes me sad. It makes me feel that what I’ve been trying to instill in them for the past 17 or 21 years has been rejected.

Did I, as a parent, a Catholic, a Franciscan, do enough? To what extent do I take the blame for my Big Kids’ poor choice?


Winning Isn’t Everything

“I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Yesterday Big Brother’s track team had a meet against a local rival. Big Brother told me last week, “To the captain of the team, this meet is the Super Bowl.” Both teams were undefeated in the local matches, going into this meet.

But Big Brother’s team was handicapped: one of the runners, the captain of the team who competes in at least 3 events per meet, was injured and would not be running. Everyone was sad for him, that he wouldn’t get that last chance to prove his strength against this other team, and for the whole team.

Big Brother was asked to run the 400m hurdles (1/4 mile) even though he has never done this in practice. (He ran the hurdles during one meet earlier this season). He doesn’t feel very confident about this event, since he has never had the chance to practice, but he agreed to do what was asked of him and he did the best he could.

Track & field is interesting in that it is uniquely an individual AND team sport. Each individual competes not only to defeat an opponent, but also to achieve a new “personal best.” In addition, points are awarded to the whole team for first-, second- and third-place finishes.

I was really impressed with the spirit and heart the team showed. They knew they were missing one of their key runners, but the whole team was in the stands, making noise, encouraging each other, and when they competed, they all tried their hardest. They didn’t win the meet but they have cause to be proud.

Can we say the same? Do we “fight the good fight” in everything that we do? Do we run our races with all our heart, all our energy, all our strength, with our eyes on the ultimate goal? And if we lost our race, can we do so with dignity, and with renewed resolve that next time we’ll do just a little better than our “personal best?”

What he said.

I just read what Pius I of Totus Pius has to say about the Barbaro debacle.

We are sickened by the fact that so much money was spent on this horse (we think in excess of a million dollars) when there are people in the world who do not receive basic medical care. And what happened in the end? The horse was euthanized because of his injuries. All that money that could have gone to helping people instead was wasted on a horse.

That horse was kept alive in order to be used. He would either be used as a racehorse, or as a stud. Either way, he was made an object to be used.

The resources wasted on those months of medical care for an animal could have helped so many in real need. For shame.