A New Way to Wait

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

For our family, the past three months have been a time that we’ve had less opportunity to spend time with my husband, Jim, because he has been on his busiest work rotation. On the very last day of his rotation, we were waiting for Jim to return from work before starting dinner. As we waited that day, he kept on getting delayed. All of us were tired from the day and hungry for dinner (also a bit crabby).   A recent conversation with my friend Marta kept coming to mind. After two months of not having dinner with her husband, she said, “I realized that the very experience of not being able to spend so much time together makes this waiting for another real. Instead of distracting my son from the fact that my husband is not around, this can be the starting point to show and experience what waiting is.” Marta’s words kept coming to mind, however, and challenged me to live that evening differently and to encourage my kids to do so too. So as our expected dinner hour came and went and my daughter Lia asked why we were not eating, I told her that yes, it … Read More

“Why I am Grateful for Well-Read Mom” by Missy Christensen

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

Well-Read Mom member Missy Christensen contacted us after the recent shooting at Tree of Life, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Pittsburg, to share how she was impacted in a new way because of her experience with Well-Read Mom. As a busy homeschool mom of six, who would rather read a classic novel than about current events, I wanted to ignore the headlines about the latest mass shooting. I didn’t want to know the reasons, the details, the victims. But then I kept seeing Pittsburgh as I scrolled through the newsfeeds. Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, with its cobblestone roads, its trolley cars, its grass-filled parks, its majestic libraries. I came to intimately know Pittsburgh while reading Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood. Pittsburgh had its Scot Irish part of town, its black part of town, and, no doubt it had its Jewish part of town. Pittsburgh had been wounded. So, I clicked. And then I wept. I wept with my new friend, Asher Lev, who at the tender age of six had already been impacted by the accusations that his people crucified Christ. Asher showed me how marginalized Jews really feel in our country and in our world. I became aware of what a … Read More

“My Shawl” by Well-Read Mom Charlotte Ostermann

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Contemplative

The following poem is reprinted from the Well-Read Mom ‘Year of the Mother’ Journal.  My Shawl by Charlotte Ostermann I sit and knit a shawl to warm my soul When winds begin to howl and darkness falls, To weave, to tie, to join and be made whole — My life’s work bundled here within these walls. As back and forth my fingers ply their trade And prayers are woven into cloth with dreams My soul is not confined, nor thoughts constrained But freed to fly by hands content with seams. This seeming smallness of my daily world, The tiny stitches of a humble life, Will add up to my glory by God’s grace When at time’s end my knitting is unfurled And all my works as woman, mother, wife Have made a home for me before His face. Charlotte Ostermann is a speaker and author of Souls at Rest. She lives on a ‘farm wannabe’ near Lawrence, Kansas.

Friendship, Reading, and a Single Good Book

Mary TeckYear of the Contemplative

By Susanna Parent “Do you want to join a Well Read Mom book club?” I tilted my head and looked at my friend confusedly. “A Well Read Mom group? But we aren’t moms or even married yet.” Over the next few minutes my friend explained to me what Well Read Mom was and how she wanted to start a group with our friends and maybe we could call ourselves the Well Read Ladies. Having recently graduated I was craving something to keep me engaged intellectually and with our group starting our first year in the Year of the Friend, I couldn’t think of a better time to begin. Our initial group began with a small number, many of us recent college graduates. Our states in life were varied: some single, a couple of us newly married and even a few pregnant. Over the course of our few years together, women in our group have given birth to children and some have moved away; yet we continue to journey on, our group evolving with time. One of the first books we read during the Year of the Friend was a book by American Novelist, Anthony Doerr. I had never heard of … Read More

Why I Need Well-Read Mom

Mary TeckYear of the Contemplative

By Marcie Stokman “You’re not going to read this huge book, are you?” Pete put my anxiety into words as he thumbed through our yellowed copy of Les Miserables last May. “How am I going to read this massive novel?” I panicked, “Why did we put this big old book on the list anyway? This is asking too much.” Then an idea struck, “I know! I’ll suggest to my group that since we’ve been faithful with the reading all year-long, we should take a break and watch the movie instead. The ladies will probably be relieved,” I reasoned. But walking into my group, there came Linda, raving about Les Miserables. “I apologize for starting the book early,” she was saying, “but I need to get going on it and oh my, the writing is absolutely beautiful. And the surprising thing is it’s not so hard. It reads easy and the beauty! Oh, the beauty!” So much for suggesting the movie. Instead, I went home and began to read Les Miserables. This is why I need to be accompanied, to overcome my objections. I wish it weren’t so, but each time I pick up the next Well-Read Mom book, the mental … Read More

Re-Proposing Well-Read Mom

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Marcie Stokman “I’m frustrated with my Well-Read Mom group,” Sarah informed me. “You know the one rule: ‘If you don’t get the book read, don’t apologize.’ Well it sounds good,” she continued, “but the problem is, many of the women in my group aren’t reading or apologizing. They are too busy!” Sara’s irritation is indicative of a broader cultural trend that keeps women spinning on the hamster wheel: FOMO—Fear of Missing Out. People joke about it, but it’s a real problem. Somehow we get the message that we’re not okay unless we accept every opportunity. But we can’t give our whole-hearted attention to everything, so we find ourselves living half-heartedly.  We overcommit in a non-committed way. Paradoxically by keeping all doors open, we end up missing out. We might not miss out on the activities, but we do miss out on entering into our commitments with a true yes! Last year, I joined too many actives and found myself half-invested. It is not a satisfying experience to not be truly present to what I have said yes to. All of the activities were good, but too much of what is good can become an enemy of what is best. … Read More

“Go and fear nothing… I will help you.”

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

I first heard about the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI in 2010, when I read about it on a Catholic news website, saying that it had become a Vatican approved Marian apparition site. I was totally amazed to hear that there was a Vatican approved Marion apparition site in the United States, and so close to where I was in Minnesota. I was then amazed that I had never heard of it before! How could I have lived so close to it, (only about six hours by car) and I had never heard of this shrine, or the history behind it. Being young and single at the time, I immediately dropped everything, gathered a few friends and said “We have to go there!” I will probably never make it to Lourdes or Fatima, but I could certainly make it to Wisconsin! So we set out on a road trip to see Our Lady. We still didn’t know anything about the Shrine or the history of it, but we had confidence that we would encounter Our Lady in a new and beautiful way. Once we arrived at the Shrine, we began to learn about the apparition … Read More

Hill Road

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Stephanie Beatty I had no idea how long I had been asleep, but day had turned to that hazy in between time when the November sky was beginning to close its eyes on the world. It was not quite the midnight blue of deeper winter, but the gray silvery dusk of approaching cold and shorter days. Her bed was still made up with the toile comforter that had been on it since I was a child coming for sleepovers, then permission, then advice and finally to say goodbye. The pattern was a scene of a woman with a parasol in a hooped dress with roosters at her feet in shades of crimson with a cream background. It was as if the bedspread held its own story. The very same scene accompanied the spread on the other twin bed across the room that she had once shared with her husband and on the heavy curtains that framed the windows that looked out onto Hill Road. A cherry nightstand sat between the two beds and still held items that reminded me of her: a nail file, hand cream that smelled of rose petals, Vicks vapor rub, licorice cough drops and a … Read More

On Prudence – An excerpt from the thesis: “Applying the Cardinal Virtues in Motherhood”

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Jacquelyn Barten St. Thomas Aquinas defined prudence as “right reason applied to action.” (55.3). The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states that prudence guides the judgement of conscience (1806). It perfects the mind so that it can discern the true good in all circumstances and choose the right means of achieving it. Prudence is also called practical wisdom, and because it is practical it must be carried out and lived (Kaczor & Sherman 16). Prudence is the first and most important of the cardinal virtues. It is what causes the other virtues to be virtues, because it is right reason in regards to the moral life. Prudence measures and informs the other virtues (Pieper). Mother Teresa summed up prudence when she said, “Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity.” Modern parent educators often use the buzz phrase parenting-in-the-moment in order to pinpoint and develop how caregivers parent on the spot – in the heat of the moment when they are at their wits end. Mothers everywhere are faced with this scenario countless times a week, a day, or even and hour. Although missing from the secular vantage point, a key factor in succeeding at this parental transformation is by acquiring … Read More

Journeying with Dorothy Day on Pilgrimage

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Lisa Bushey Oh how Dorothy Day’s words were balm to my soul! I started reading the book, “On Pilgrimage” (January’s selection for Well-Read Mom) and I put the book down after the first handful of pages. The reason was: my soul was satisfied with her words and my mind and heart had enough “good meat” to chew on for days. In fact I was elated to find someone saw me:             “…struggling with poverty and hard work and leading, as such families with small children do these days, ascetic lives. There are vigils, involuntary ones, fasting, due to nausea of pregnancy for instance… Here is her mortification of the senses: Her eyes are affronted by disorder, confusion, the sight of human ailments, and human functions. Her nose also; her ears tormented with discordant cries, her appetite failing often; her sense of touch in agony from fatigue and weakness. Her interior senses are also mortified. She is alone with her little ones, her interest adapted to theirs; she has not even the companionship of books.. So she has solitude, and a silence from the sounds she’d like to hear, conversation, music, discussion. Of course there are consolations and joys. Babies … Read More