If Jesus is Batman…

“Are you kidding me?  You’re telling me when we put the Flavor-ice popsicles in the freezer THAT is condensation?  You put them in the FREEZER to FREEZE them!! This is ridiculous!!  I am not going to help you if you aren’t even going to try!”  — Me, to my 8 year old son

Suffice it to say, the brilliant and patient science teachers of the world need not fear I am coming for their jobs any time soon.  Further, my general homework/studying philosophy to date has gone something like this, “I already passed the 7th grade, now it’s your turn.”

Have I helped renovate a science fair board, or given myriad spelling pretests, or assisted in researching the culture and political situation in Azerbaijan?  Heck yeah.  Have I edited essays and worn a path to our local CVS on endless supply runs?  Absolutely.

Here’s the thing.  On rodeo #3, I seem to have fallen off the horse.  This is a horse of another color, you might say.  We have only just begun, and I am frustrated, and I am worried.

Here’s my inner dialogue.  A good mom would know what to do.  A loving parent would have patient and loving answers and interactions. A God-filled mother would know how to close the gap caused by frustration and insecurity and would persevere confidently in the direction of success with her child.

Me?  I yelled.  I lost my patience.  I wanted to do something else, anything else.  I shared this with a friend this week, and then confessed I prayed, asking Mary for assistance.  My non-Catholic friend said, “Mary?”  I said, “Yes, Mary, The mother Jesus?”

“Ahh….THAT Mary!  You Catholic girls.  I don’t get the Mary thing.  When I need a filling, I don’t dial up my Dentist’s mom, Shelly.  Can you talk to me about what the story is with Mary?”

I wanted my friend’s consolation.  Affirmation was the goal, then I wanted to head to Marsh for decongestant.  Apologetics was not on my mind.  I instantly recalled a great comment made by a friend several years ago at a CRHP meeting and I flippantly replied, “If Jesus is Batman, then Mary has the Bat phone.”


“Shelly.  Why not just pray to Jesus to help you be the mom you want to be?  That I would get.”

Then, we proceeded to have this surprising interaction.  I asked her why it is that she asks me to pray for her, for her parents, and for others in her life who are struggling.   We talked about how lots of people ask others to pray for them.  Why do we do that?  Why not just talk to Jesus?

I think there are a couple of reasons.  First of all, we don’t live on an island.  We need our friends.  Others have compassion that we need to help us through this life, they stand in the gap for us—they intercede.  Our friends, family members– all can be helps in our relationship with Jesus.

Second of all, and this is a new revelation to me.  My Lutheran friend said to me “Well, I don’t pray to dead people.”

Here’s where the conversation ended for today, but I have been thinking about it ever since.

I should have said, “People in heaven are alive.  This is what I believe.”  It’s a fundamental belief that I mistakenly took for granted entering into the chat.

I think of Mary as the original prayer warrior.  She doesn’t say much in the bible, but she does tell us that her role forever to the end of the ages is to magnify Jesus.

Let’s keep in mind here that like most good cradle Catholics I have encountered, I know virtually zero about scripture.  BUT…..I am familiar with the Magnificat.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness, behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.  The Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.  He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly.  The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

So, reading this, which is just lovely and beautiful playing in my head as a song, it seems self-evident to me that praying for her intercession isn’t worship and it cannot take focus away from the one who saved us—her son!  In eternity, her sole job in my simple mind is to lead us to Him.

Does it diminish our relationship with Jesus to have devotion to Mary or enjoy Marian prayers?  If it’s useful for our friends on earth to pray for us, then isn’t it possible those in heaven are even more equipped?  I mean, who do you ask to pray for you when you REALLY need prayer?  The holiest people you know, right??  Devotion to Mary doesn’t deify Mary…..it simply indicates incredible respect.

Writing this post about Mary was my way of making amends to her son, who I love, for the flippant initial response when I encountered the opportunity to chat with my friend about the queen of heaven.

We do not slight the son when we honor the mother.  –St. Louis de Montfort

I feel like its possible God wasn’t really all that interested in consoling me about my poor behavior or soothing my bruised little feelings.   I concede it’s more than probable that all of this was God’s way of pointing me to the greatest example of motherhood that exists.

Lucky for me, the greatest mother ever always takes calls from her children outside normal business hours.

Hail Mary, full of grace…..

Mother of Mercy

I’m gonna be honest.  Right now, I have forced myself into this chair to type hoping it will calm me down.  My heart is racing, my hands trembling; my mind is spinning out of control.  This has been quite a week.  At this moment, the gift I am giving myself is to simply spew it.  This is what I would call a “stream of consciousness” entry.

Have you ever had a friend you just cherish beyond words?  God has blessed me with a handful of them.  I just call them “my girls”.   They are the cream of the crop, each with amazing gifts that make them incredibly special to me.  My friend Julie is the REAL DEAL.  She is a loving mother of 3 boys, an artist, quiet and unassuming, funny, selfless, and one of the finest women I have ever known.

As I wrote earlier this week, my wonderful friend, Julie, lost her mother a few days ago.  I omitted details from the day she died on my previous entry.  See, the thing is, I had been with Julie most the afternoon that day this world lost Nula.  Julie had what I call a “Lucy and Ethel moment” and fell down the stairs and onto her garage floor the day before her mom died.  When I got the call to take her to have her leg checked the next morning, we both assumed she simply had a bad sprain.  Wrong.  The ankle was broken.  We talked and laughed and determined that it was annoying as heck, but nevertheless possible, to survive 6 weeks as a mom of 3 without being able to drive.  She picked out a purple cast….the ideal color for the mom of a Guerin Catholic Golden Eagle football player.  We found the sunny side, and I promised that we would help her through.

When she got home, news reached her that her mom had taken a major turn for the worse, and that doctors didn’t think she would make it through the night.  This was jarring.  Despite the fact that she had been ill, the end came very suddenly and was without warning.  The prayer warriors went into overdrive that night praying Divine Mercy for Nula and strength for Julie and her entire family.  Word came just a couple hours later that God had taken Julie’s mom.  Julie sat beside her mom’s bed in a wheelchair herself, filled with angst, in that quickly forgotten purple cast.

Funeral plans were made.  Eulogies were written.  We painted Julie’s toes purple to match her accessorized right leg.  Casserole dishes and platters full of cookies appeared.  Four priests concelebrated the mass, and Deacon Rick was “robed up” too.  It was a beautiful celebration of an amazing life.

SIGH.  NOW, it seemed time to let my friend have some room to mourn with her family.  Then, the phone rang.  It was Julie.  She wondered if I could take her to the doctor.  Her good leg was hurting more than she thought it should.

Two days post funeral, there we are in the doctor’s office again.  The doctor looks up at us and says, “I’m going to need you to head to St. Vincent’s now.  They will confirm things for you, Julie, but I believe you have some blood clots in your leg.  You need to go immediately.”

I was thinking, “Goodness.  That’s a fine how do you do, God.  Really?  Hasn’t she been through enough this week?”  Off we went, trying to remain calm.

Within half an hour, the ultrasound technician confirmed the diagnosis.  Her good leg has quite a few clots.  More tests were ordered.   Tears streamed down my friend’s face as I held her crutches, and her necklace, and her hand.  “Jules, this is when trusting God feels really hard, but we have to try.  He and I are gonna have some words tonight over you, FOR SURE, but our job is to trust Him.”

I went to get her a tuna sub from Subway, and I called her husband.  He left work, and we tried to see the sunshine.

Yesterday, more doctors were consulted.  Specialists galore, friends, and family swirled about.  She was sent home to rest and wait for instructions.

Now four days since her mom’s funeral, she finds herself in a chair, in the same hospital where her mother passed away last week, with her purple cast, a left leg full of clots, getting a blood transfusion.  It seems her blood counts are poor.  It’s REEE-DAMN-DICULOUS!  Why now?  None of it makes much sense.

Her concern is for her children.  She is texting me not to forget the youngest son’s cleats.  There’s carpool pickup, practice, and don’t forget the 9am football game.  Every mom can relate.  There’s no way to be present and peaceful in the moment until you are certain your children are safe and in loving hands.

Tonight I will have some extras at the Thieme house.   There will be picking up, dropping off, packing bags, watching games, meal preparation, kid bathing, sleeping bags, and extra hugs needed.  I wish I could do more.

To all the people today to whom I seemed distracted or even rude, I was.  I’m sorry.  Gus, greatest handyman ever, thanks for saving my house from the leaky plumbing while I talked and talked and talked on the phone today and completely ignored you.  I’m sure you’d like to give me a piece of your mind about my tacky hand waving.  A nice tip will be forthcoming.

Here’s the thought I can’t quite escape as my heart hurts for my friend.  Who do we want when we are sick and struggling?  I can’t speak for you…..but I want my mom.  Gosh.

Jules, this is my prayer for you.   I’m asking Mary, mother of us all, to watch over and intercede for you this day.  She will, because you are beloved.

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope…..