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The Perfect Mother
      by Charlotte Volnek

I fought back tears as I shut the bedroom door behind me…actually shutting it a lot harder than any rational adult should have.  Through clenched teeth, my anger snapped at the walls.  “What was I ever thinking when I said I wanted to have children. I should have listened to my mother and raised flowers instead.”

It had been a trying week. Everything seemed so messed up. The kids wouldn’t listen. All we did was fight. The littlest thing would turn into a mountain of confrontation.

Yes, raising flowers would have been much, much easier. 

I stormed through my room to the bathroom, frustration balling my fingers into fists. I turned on the water and slipped into the tub. Within seconds, my heated emotions wilted into depression. What had I done so wrong? Why couldn’t I be the one in control? I was the mother after all. Why couldn’t I be the perfect mom?

For several days my emotions see-sawed  back and forth. I grumbled in my prayers, demanding God to force my children into submission, and blaming him when they didn’t.  Why didn’t He care? Why didn’t He answer my prayers? I felt alone and abandoned.

More days passed. Finally in desperation, I picked up my rosary and sat down contemplating the prayers to the Virgin Mary. Maybe she would listen to me and make my children succumb.

Hail Mary, full of grace.

Yeah, Mary had it easy. She had the perfect son. My kids were anything but perfect.

The Lord is with thee.

And Jesus listened to her. He turned the water into wine at her suggestion after all. Sure he argued a little, but he still did it.

Blessed art thou among women…

See, everyone knew she was perfect.

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

Yes, Mary was a great mother. She took care of her family. She was always in control. Why couldn’t I be more like her? What was I doing wrong?

My thoughts tumbled as the images of Mary and Jesus (from the many movies I’d watched) flashed through my mind...Jesus as a baby, sleeping soundly in his mother’s arms, a glorious radiance surrounding them. Mary caring for a young boy Jesus, and worrying over his straying from the family to spend time in the temple. Jesus as a man, teaching to the masses. Mary was always there, an ever present fixture of motherhood.

The images flashed faster, to the last day of Jesus’ life. My breath quickened. I felt the horror and dismay as Mary watched Jesus being led before the priests, to be accused and scorned. She watched silently as the crowds cursed and spit at him. How she must have trembled as they scourged him, beating his body bloody and ripping his flesh.

When Mary met Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem, the cross heavy upon his shoulders, he told her he ‘was making all things new.’ And all she could do was follow him. Follow him up to Calvary where the soldiers nailed him to a cross and raised him to hang like a criminal. She watched as her son struggled for breath. She wept as he cried out to God and then gave up his spirit…to die for sinners…like me.

The realization hit me hard. Mary, the perfect mother, wasn’t always in control. What must have been going through her mind as she watched her son, our Lord, suffer and die? Why didn’t she argue with Jesus, or beg him to save himself from this torture. We know he could have…but she didn’t even ask. Why didn’t she curse God as they lay the precious body in her arms? Instead of cursing, blaming, begging or pleading, she remained steadfast and surrendered her control to God’s infinite plan. She placed her trust in His ultimate wisdom.

I bowed my head, remorse flooding my face with tears, the reality of my human weakness bearing heavy on my heart. I closed my eyes and began to pray, begging for forgiveness for my pride and arrogance. In the silence, two arms embraced me from behind, squeezing my neck tenderly. I touched my daughter’s arm, love swelling within. Yes, despite all the trials, I loved my family with all my heart. And they loved me. They were not perfect, but I was far from being the perfect mother I so wanted to be. Yet, I would do anything for my family, guiding them and protecting them the best I could…and when I couldn’t…when things balanced beyond my human dominion …it is then I needed to take the powerful lesson from Mary and offer them up to God, surrendering my control and placing them in His ever-knowing hands. 

I whispered a grateful prayer to Mother Mary, for being the perfect example of Motherhood, reminding me to always go to God in faith and trust, placing my family in the care of His love and wisdom.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
 
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.

I wish a most Happy and Joyous Mother’s Day to all mothers. You have been given a most precious vocation; to care for and love God’s children!


 
Just Another Day 05/04/2012
 
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Inspired by true events...

Just Another Day

Is it morning already? I rub my eyes and get up to ready myself for just another day. It's just another day...I look out my window to see the sun beaming down, caressing the Earth with its golden rays. Above, white clouds float in the brilliant blue sky. I hear a cardinal singing to his mate as he perches upon my back fence. And a bed of crocus open their purple heads to the heavens in joyful thankfulness. 

It's just another day. My small daughter bursts into the room, her giggle ringing through the house as she hugs my neck tightly. Her small hand fits into mine as she pulls me to the kitchen to show me the card she has made. A stick figure with curly brown hair waves from the paper and beneath it, written in purple crayon are the words, "I love you, Mommy." 

It's just another day as I stand quietly and watch a handicapped child. He struggles to get his special walker over the curb, but it won't budge. A well-meaning teacher offers assistance, but he brushes her away. With determination, he conquers the curb and is off to laugh and play with his friends. I weep inside for his handicap, but I am inspired by his courage. And I smile as I watch the children play, totally accepting their friend for who he is, not judging him for what he lacks. 

It's just another day. My son proudly presents the report he did for school. He shares with me the hopes and dreams he holds for his future. His curiosity and excitement are contagious as we unfold the limitless possibilities that lay before him. I am encouraged that no dream is beyond our reach if we want it bad enough. 

It's just another day. My beloved wraps his arms around me and surrounds me in love. I turn to look in the eyes that share my innermost feelings. What a special friend I have. Someone who loves me for who I am. Someone to lean on when I feel down. Someone to share my happiness. Someone to love. 

Yes, it is just another day. A day to enjoy God's gracious beauty upon this Earth. A day to kiss the cherub cheeks of my children, and share in their hopes and dreams. A day to learn the value of determination and hard work. A day to learn the value of judging mankind for the quality he has, not what he has not. A day to learn the value of love. 

Yes, it's just another day, I sigh. The stars dance in the velvet sky as a full yellow moon smiles cheerfully down. The house is quiet and still. The only sound is the soft even breathing of my spouse. I recall the scripture: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) And as I lay at the side of my soul mate I pray that God will let me see "just another day"!

May you have the most blessed of days!
Charlotte Volnek


 
To Be Forgiven 04/20/2012
 
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Welcome to my blog. To be forgiven is truly a wonderful blessing, but I learned a powerful lesson about the desire and attitude of being forgiven from the most uncanny of sources. I hope you enjoy today's story. May God richly bless you always.
Charlotte Volnek

To Be Forgiven


Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, ‘Drink from this, all you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, pour out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’

                        ~Matthew 26: 27-28

Usually, for your 25th Wedding Anniversary you get something silver. Just the thought of that ritual made me feel old. I didn’t want silver. And my wonderful husband knew that and surprised me instead with the gift I did want... a fuzzy wiggly Papillon puppy. All puppies are cute of course, but Noah stole the hearts of everyone in our family. A puppy…full of spirit, joy and love. He loved everyone and knew no strangers, only friends he hadn’t met yet. He picked up tricks as fast as I could teach them to him and became the root of much laughter in our house. 

But, Noah wasn’t without his mischievous side. He was a puppy after all.

That summer we enjoyed having our son, Chris, come home for his short break from the Naval Academy. He brought his play station and spent quality down time playing his favorite games on the TV in our living room. This was a luxury that he was not allowed at the Academy and he seemed at his happiest. But one day as Chris went to play his game, he noticed a ragged cord lying broken across the living room floor. Noah had chewed the power cable in two.

"MOM," a loud yell erupted. Chris was furious. He fumed at Noah and stormed through the house in search of me... as if I could magically mend this shredded cord. Noah followed, bouncing merrily. And the more Noah followed Chris, the madder Chris became. "Bad dog," he yelled at Noah. My puppy lowered his ears in a pitifully sad look. No one had ever been this angry with him.

Chris went around the house trying to find other things to entertain himself. Noah followed. Chris tried ignoring him, but the little puppy followed him everywhere. If Chris would look Noah's direction, the puppy would wag his tail in hopeful response.

When Chris went to the kitchen for a snack, Noah was at his heels, watching patiently. When Chris sat down, Noah was there. When Chris would head to the bathroom, Noah followed and sat diligently at the door until Chris came back out.

Chris watched the sorrowful puppy for a good part of the day, trying his best to ignore him. But try as he might, he could not maintain his anger toward our little dog, and finally Chris could take it no longer and laughed. Noah wagged his tail, his whole body wiggling with joy. The puppy was forgiven and his joy could not be contained. Chris opened his arms and my puppy jumped into them without hesitation, licking Chris' face, hands, anything his doggy tongue could reach, with the purest of happiness.

I thought about how wonderful it was of Chris to forgive Noah. How happy it had made my little puppy. Then I thought... am I that happy when my Heavenly Father opens His arms with His forgiveness. Lord knows I have much to be forgiven for. Do I follow Him with the same desire in hopes of gaining that forgiveness? Do I wiggle with excitement as our merciful Savior offers me pardon so that I may one day obtain the glory of eternal life?

Noah perched beside Chris, a happy doggy smile covering his fuzzy face, unaware of the valuable lesson he’d just taught me. I must not take the precious gift of our Lord's forgiveness for granted. I must be as diligent and remorseful as Noah. And then I must be truly jubilant when given the wonderful gift of forgiveness and revel in the glorious mercy God will bestow on me.

Then, maybe I can be as truly happy as Noah.

(In Memory of Noah. Rest In Peace my joyful pup. They say that heaven is filled with all the things that make us happy. So I pray I will see you again. May you be bringing as many smiles to Jesus and Mary and you did to our family.)

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Today, I hope you enjoy this short story of reflection and pray you hear His voice within.  Thanks for sharing my day!

He Was Talking To Me

I sat at the golden gates of heaven, alone and afraid. The gates were closed. Could I not get in? Then an angel appeared and sat down beside me.

"Where is God," I asked tearfully. "I have been calling and calling for him. Why has he not heard me?"

"He's here," the angel said softly. "But are you ready to meet Him?"

"Of course," I said, a bit indignant. "I'm a faithful, loving Christian. I go to church every Sunday."

The angel nodded in agreement. "But have you heard Him calling you?"     

"God calling me?” I asked. “God has never called me." 

“What about when God asked you to be a friend to the friendless?" the angel asked. "Do you remember a young lady you met on the street, lost and alone, asking for directions? She needed a friend that day, just a few kind words. Did you hear God calling you to acknowledge her, not to ignore her?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said.

"And what about feeding the hungry?" the angel continued. "Did you hear God calling when your pastor asked for people to donate food or time so the hungry in your community could be fed?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said again.

"Did you help those less fortunate?" the angel asked. "A family in your town lost everything in a fire. Did you hear God calling you to help when they asked for donations?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said, an ache building in my heart.

"And what about sharing the Glory of God's word?" the angel asked.  "A young man came to you, asking for advice. Did you hear God calling you to comfort him with the certainty that the Almighty loves and cares about him? Did you pray for him?"

I hung my head. "I didn't realize he was talking to me."

A glorious figure walked by on the golden path in front of me. The angel turned and bowed in front of him and I knew in an instant that it was the Lord, my God. My heart fluttered and anticipation replaced the ache inside me. But He walked on by.

"My God," I called. "Have you forgotten me? I have been here so long, crying and alone. I need you! I have been calling and calling for you. Did you not hear me?"

"Oh," God replied. "I didn't realize you were talking to me."

….“Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7


 
The Kind Prince 04/06/2012
 
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There once was a good and kind prince who adored his people. He showered them with goodness; feeding them, clothing them, curing their ills and spending time with them, teaching them the principles and wisdom of the kingdom. Though the prince was of royal lineage, he wore no arrogance or vanity and instead came to people as a simple man, sharing many a modest meal of bread and wine, promoting the meek and humble.

In turn, the prince’s subjects flocked to him, seeking his service, his comfort, his aid. Little children played with him, their small voices twinkling with laughter, mixing with the rich amusement of the prince’s own voice. From the mountains to the ocean; from hills, to desert, to rich farmland, the prince ventured to be with his people.

But despite the prince’s love of his people, a grumbling began to erupt. Suspicion and distrust grew. Some did not like his kind and gentle ways. They were scared of him and how the people followed him. They growled to each other, declaring the prince must be stopped..stopped before he could change the world as they knew it. Even though, the prince claimed the world would be better, these people did not believe. The grumble grew to a murmur, then to a whine and a yowl— finally ending in a loud roar, swallowing the people in hate and rage.

The prince was aware of the mutiny swelling within his people, but in his attitude of love and forgiveness, he continued to reach out to his subjects. He meekly accepted their invitation as they welcomed him into their city, breaking bread with them, celebrating the holiday and continuing his mission to share the king’s design, all the while knowing a horrible crime was about to be committed; a crime that would lead to his ultimate doom, a torturous and violent death. And it would commence at the hand of one of his most beloved friends. Even though the pain in his heart was great, the prince allowed himself to fall into the trap, to be mocked and ridiculed, handed over to be murdered by the people he loved the most. He became a sacrifice, forgiving his offenders and offering a future for those who would turn to him in his death.

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By now, I’m sure you have guessed the prince in my story is our own Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t help but be moved today, on this the most holy of Christian holidays, Good Friday. What a travesty. What a tremendous transgression against our good and kind prince. Why? Why would the Heavenly Father allow this good Prince to die? But I only have to look in the mirror to know.

At last night’s Holy Thursday mass, I watched the reenactment of the Lord washing his disciple’s feet. I was instantly overcome with a feeling of unworthiness. I tried to find some comfort, remembering the reflection my dear husband had shared me…the incredible symbolism of the washing of the feet. He shared...

At Peter’s rejection of having the Lord wash his feet, Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you will have no part of me.” 

Peter responded, “Then Lord, not just my feet, but my head and hands as well.” 

I can only imagine Jesus’ smile as he answered once again to Peter.  “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.” 

I can picture Peter sitting back, puzzled by the Lord’s riddle. The bath Jesus spoke of is baptism. At that, we are washed clean and receive the blessing to be a part of Jesus’ life. But we still walk among sin, the grime and stains sticking to our feet. Though our body is cleaned, we need to wash our feet…and can do so by confessing to our Lord and accepting his washing waters of forgiveness.

I smiled at the reflection, but the unworthiness remained. Even though I loved my Lord, I couldn’t imagine him ever washing my feet. My sins are too great. Too many times, I am ignorant and arrogant, unworthy of the Lord’s modest gesture of cleansing.  How could I ever be worthy of that? A small voice whispered to me, quiet and hushed like a feather in the wind. Jesus spoke to my heart… “Come to me, sit with me and let me love you. You are worthy because you are mine.” 

May the Lord keep you and bless you as we reflect on Jesus’ death and celebrate his resurrection, his glorious gift of salvation. Have a blessed Easter. 


 
 
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Greetings and welcome. My name is Charlotte "Charlie" Volnek and I am a Cracked Pot. Each time I read the legend of The Cracked Pot (the complete story is on the home page) I can't help but see myself in the story. It is a reminder to me… I have so many flaws and blemishes. But, with the Lord's gracious hand to guide me and mold me, he can take my pitiful shortcomings and create goodness. 

In my Lenten journey this year, I was determined to create a blog of short stories to encourage and inspire, stories of truth and humility. With Holy Week beginning on Sunday, I am taking my first step to create this blog. I pray the words I share might enhance your Christian faith as we give all praise and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ . 

And so, without further ado, here is my first installment of Reflections of a Cracked Pot...

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I Got One!

By Charlotte “Charlie” Volnek

I nestled a little closer to my husband, reaching for his hand as I proudly watched our young daughter singing in the church youth choir. With a quick wave she smiled and joined her fellow students in song. I gazed from the girls and boys, all dressed up in their Easter best, to the sparkling white lilies dressing the altar. I breathed deeply, the smell of spring permeating the air.   

The church was full. Not an empty seat seemed to be found from the looks of it.  I nudged my mother and pointed to the priest stepping down from the altar.  “Watch this,” I whispered. “I love what Father does here.”

The priest walked down from his chair and stood at the base of the steps, a simple brown wicker basket in his hands. A little girl walked up shyly and dropped a handful of coins in the basket. Father smiled and nodded. The small voices of the choir drifted sweetly as other children moved to give their offerings...another girl, a little boy, a brother and sister. One couldn’t help but smile at all the children, giving to the church not just money, but the joy of their precious youth.

A small, blonde-haired boy crept up the side aisle. I noticed him only because he moved slower than the other children...quietly...stealthily...inching closer and closer to the priest. He lifted his hand to the basket and in an instant, snatched out a dollar bill. “I got one! I got one!” he squealed happily as he spun around and raced back down the aisle. 

From the back of the church I could hear a father groan and try his best to shuffle to the end of the pew as quietly as possible. But it was too late to stop the boy. The priest grinned as snickers surged through the church. Fathers tilted their heads and laughed. Mothers gasped, then chuckled along with the men. The choir almost halted as the students tried to stifle their giggles, turning from one to another and pointing. 

I laughed out loud, enjoying the joy and happiness radiating through the worshipers. Did that little boy realize what he had just invoked with this one simple phrase, “I got one!” Could anything have created such delight today? I beamed throughout the homily, so much joy filling my soul, the presence of my Lord surrounding me in His loving embrace.

But I’m ashamed to say, I had not always felt so close to the Lord. Many years I wandered. Too long, I let the world lead me, stealing my time for our precious Jesus. Not that I didn’t believe, I just didn’t trust the Lord to make my decisions for me. I didn’t need him. After all, he gave me free will to do what I wanted…right?

In time, and with great humiliation, I became painfully aware of how wrong I was. I was floundering in the sins of the world and I needed Him. I loved Him. I wanted Him. And luckily for me, our Lord is ever faithful and patient. I fell on bended knees, a sorrowful sinner, and relinquished my life, once again, back to Christ. 

Back in my seat, I listened to the cherub voices of our young choir. I smiled as I envisioned a similar service, only this one in heaven, before our Lord God. A multitude of angels and saints gathered in His glory and honor, their brilliance filling the temple. A hush filled the gleaming room as the heavenly beings bowed their heads in worship of our Master. Suddenly, an angel...my angel...was running down the aisle after witnessing me on my knees that day.  

“I got one! I got one!” she yelled in triumph.

All the angels and saints rejoiced with shouts of Alleluia and songs of praise as my heavenly Father smiled happily and nodded knowingly. He knew me. He had waited for me. Through his generous and patient love, he had allowed me to come home to him again. 

The youth choir finished their song of praise and beamed with pride. I leaned back in my pew, God’s love and promise surrounding me. I was at peace. 
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
(Numbers 6:25-27)


 
First Post! 02/24/2012
 
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