I've been asked to introduce myself to the newest blog challenge I've gotten into. Since Conversion Diary has asked me the same question, I'm gonna kill two blogs with one post. Or whatever.
While a "cradle Catholic," I was raised in a charismatic cultmunity... a word I just made up to describe a community that, in some aspects, resembled a cult. From the ages of 3 to 13, I spent every Sunday morning at church, and every Sunday afternoon and evening in a church hall listening to "teachings" and "witnesses," wearing skirts, singing praise and worship, and being taught how to be "slain in the spirit" (i.e. falling down while getting prayed over.) I was surrounded by wonderfully well-meaning people, overcome with zeal for the Lord.
This was not all bad.
If Dora the Explorer was not playing loudly in the background, I could spend several hours detailing the unique petri dish I was grown in, but the long and short of it was--while I'm glad I'm not wearing a jumper and that I can now socialize with non-community friends today (no, really)--I spent my childhood learning the scriptures and receiving the sacraments.
When my parents decided to seek more normalcy in my early teens, I was homeschooled. In the 80's. Being the law-abiding citizens that they ever are, and afraid that--despite the legality of what they were doing--we would be "reported for truancy"...I spend the ages of 13 to 18 pretty much at home between the hours of 8 and 3. Far from the homeschooling popularity of today, we rarely went to the grocery store during the school day for fear we would be asked that dreaded question, "Why aren't you in school, dear?"
I spent my four years of high school at the same wide, wooden desk, looking out the same window. My books were my teachers, and my classmates were penpals (the kind you used a pen to write to). I wasn't just unsocialized. I was bored out of my mind.
This was not all bad.
To fill the long days, I went to daily Mass. I volunteered at every church event that would take me, taught Sunday school, joined the choir, youth ministry, lectored, and (gasp) became a Eucharistic minister--all serving to convince every dear nun I encountered that I was specially made for their own particular order. I also took extra courses in everything that remotely interested me. I read the library section by section, shelf by shelf.
When I decided to seek more normalcy, (tee hee) I decided to go to the tiniest, most Catholic college I got a scholarship to because, you see, at this point the nuns had convinced me that I was destined to get in the habit as well. (As a plug for the ability of homeschoolers to get accepted to college, I did actually have to choose from among several scholarships...)
And for a college, I chose one that was not at all bad! Christendom College was a wonderful experience for me. And to the nuns' disappointment, I came home my freshman year with the boyfriend who would be my husband. Their dismay can be summed up in the hesitant question of dear Sr. Mary my first summer back, "But... weren't you going to Christendom Convent?"
Overall, I feel I have been very blessed on my spiritual journey from the charismatic movement to traditional Catholicism. I'm so grateful that I learned Bible verses and songs and stories at a young age. It has been wonderful to build on that foundation with the theology classes I got to take in high school, college, and even at the ITI in Austria. (ITI is very short for "The International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.")
The author who has had the greatest impact on my thinking (other than the Bible, as J. Fulwiler asks), the one who--most of what he wrote I want to jump up and say, "Yes, that!!"--is C.S. Lewis. I did my thesis on him, loving how my English and theology degrees kinda met in his work.
In the end, the shortest summation of my religious beliefs can be summed up in 1 John 4:8.
A typical day for me? I'm a mom of four girls; the only time I seriously regret this is when we are traveling and have to hit a public restroom, and I watch my husband go to the bathroom all by himself. This blog talks about many "typical days," should you be interested... Most of them involve cleaning up spills while listening to loud child noises.
My favorite part of each day is sleeping. Yes, after all this recounting of my spiritual journey and study... I wish that was more profound... :) But as a mother who spent her teen years in relative silence and her pre-kid years studying, and now having little quiet or time to think... sleeping is blissful. Really.
Right now I have two kids doing this beside me. This is also blissful. Here, I'll do a terrible quality selfie of how I finished this post...
Good night for now. :)
"God is love." 1 John 4:8
(Linked to The Conversion Diary and Being a Wordsmith)