Friday, December 31, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 9

Click here to read the original post at
**Thanks to Joel and Lisa Ann Schmidt at The Practicing Catholic for the plug! They listed me as one of 7 Catholic blogs to read in the new year! I'm truly humbled.**

I forgot today was Friday... I'm on vacation this week (Alleluia! Praise God for waking up at 10:00 everyday!). It's a little bittersweet for the following reason:

I've never liked the winter. Being cold is miserable and I'm no fan of dry skin. I dislike it even more after winter canceled my flight to Lisbon. You can read about what happened here, but basically: the American economy gets my money this New Year's Eve. Sorry, Portugal. I know you're hurting.

More apologies to my good friends who I will not get to see. I hope you have a wonderful time!

Traveling has its risks of danger, misfortune, and, most commonly, stress. There were some peeved people pacing at the gate as we heard the flight cancellation news. As airports are my 3rd favorite place in the world because they are a people watching feast, I perked my ears and heard some stories. 

Suzie was in Richmond for Christmas, visiting her boyfriend's family. She had been waiting for days to get back to her precious NYC and away from what had become a black hole on the map. Mr. Business Man was used to the cancellation pattern and was relieved that he could join his family for the day instead of flying north. Several other people just had panic in their eyes.

1. I love traveling, especially the screw ups because it allows me to gather characters for my imagination bank as I people-watch. 

2. God bestowed upon me plenty of grace as my own panic should have set in. Before I left the airport, it was pretty clear that it didn't make sense to take the delayed flight. This meant missing out on a reunion I have been awaiting for more than a year.

A few weeks ago the nation was blowing up over the new TSA flight security measures and I stayed out of the debate. I'm still unsure which side to join, but I do know this:
It was embarrassing to step into that Plexiglas cylinder. I made efforts to convince myself that the people who were reviewing my image had been sitting in the same room all day, just looking at x-ray after x-ray. How much do I really matter?

Nevertheless, that person in the room saw a black and white version of me, naked. I don't like it.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dan Eldon

My first college art professor introduced me to the story of Dan Eldon. I cried on the spot.
The only thing I wanted for Christmas 2008 was his book, The Journey is the Destination. (I do not own the rights to this)
His love for people around him was simple and childlike, but he also took on the burden and pain for those he knew he couldn't help. Dan grew up in Nairobi where he lived a life far from ordinary and he documented it in visual diaries.

The professor told us to start keeping visual diaries, an assignment that changed my life. Recording my life with words AND art made such a huge change in my perspective that I suggest that everyone keep a visual diary.

My professor encouraged us to buy a big sketchbook, to use it to plan out our work, to brainstorm, and to create within its pages. 

A recent project I completed in my own visual diary.
He said we could glue a map onto a page in the middle of the book, start writing down a thought on another page, glue a picture from a trip to Ireland to another page, and overlay a small painting on another page with a random paragraph written on wax paper. The idea was to create a feeling and a congruent concept throughout the sketchbook, using as many layers as we felt necessary.
This took forEVER...
When I went to the art supply store, I was already in love with the idea. I bought the biggest sketchbook that would fit in my backpack and I'm only halfway through it, three years later, because it's such a big investment of time and emotion.
I combine magazine clips with written word and my own painting.
I've used magazine clips, my paintbrush, stream of consciousness writing, sketches for bigger pieces, and other random contributions to document my last three years. Much like my diary entries, I cringe when I turn some of the pages, but I love the book as a whole.

I let my eye do the deciding and eventually, something is created.
African Dan
The whole project began because of Dan and the love of his mother and sister. Dan grew up as a compassionate person who empathized with the Africans who saw war, hunger, and corrupt government everyday of their lives.

Dan became the youngest photojournalist for Reuters at the age of twenty-two and documented the war-torn continent. His compassion and his job also brought him to his death, as he was stoned to death in Somalia in July 1993 by a mob reacting to the United Nations bombing raid on the suspected headquarters of General Mohammed Farah Aidid.
A view into Dan's book. (I do not own the rights to this)
Dan's mom and sister, Kathy and Amy, raise money and awareness for African causes through art promotion through their organization, Creative Visions. After Dan's death, Kathy and Amy pulled together Dan's seventeen visual diaries and created two bound compilation books, one of which I have.

Neither the organization's website nor Dan's book mention any specific Christian mission, but they do a lot of good for people in need.

Another page from Dan's book. (I do not own the rights to this)
The foundation is a "creative activist website" that provides "toolkits" to help anyone become a "change-maker" in one's own community. They hold conferences, seminars another ways of connecting artists, journalists, and creative activists for the betterment of the world.
One more page...(I do not own the rights to this)
Yes, some of their rhetoric smells of socialism, but helping people through this private, non-profit is a great venture.

A few years ago, I got so involved in politics and the drive behind it that I forgot about the best mission: living to help other people. I haven't finished deciding how I'm going to use my talents to accomplish this mission, but having Dan as an art role model is very telling of how much we can do on Earth after we've gone.

(My parents purchased Dan Eldon's book, The Journey is the Destination, and I took pictures of open pages, though I do not have the rights to any of them)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lisbon: bummer city

Well, thanks a lot, snow.

I could use this next week to display my fiction-writing skills. You'd be dazzled by stories about getting lost in the airport, about the first moment I see my good friends, about the millionaire I sat beside on the bus to Our Lady of Fatima. Yes, yes, this is the enormous rock he gave me for my left finger...

However, that would be lying and defeating the purpose of this blog.

My flights got pushed back because of the snow and after some time weighing my options, it made more sense to get a refund and miss out on my trip. The thirteen international friends I was going to meet in Lisbon are going to have a wonderful time and I'll pray for their safety!

Last night, before the flights got pushed into the snow bank, my sisters, cousin, mom, and I talked about heading to Europe this summer. I have a new goal set, but man am I bummed about this one.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fuselage habits

I have flown a lot in the last two years, so the quirks of traveling have become habit. I am not as mechanical as Clooney in Up in the Air, but I'm good at separating my liquids and slipping off my shoes.

A friend told me that he usually asks out a woman on his international flights, which I think is brave. I usually strike up a conversation, but airplanes always seem like temporary time machines to me. I get on the plane, sit for x hours and then get off, knowing I might bump into that lady in the restroom or that guy in the line for coffee. We'll probably never see each other again.

It reminds me of how many people on Earth I will never know.

The first time I flew to California from Virginia, I remember an irking feeling that someone had driven the fuselage (thanks, LOST, for bringing that into the vernacular) into a flight simulator, projecting cloud images into our windows, and pulled back out again. It was weird to think I was standing on ground that was connected to Virginia... just 3000 miles away.

This distance also highlights how many people who live between the coasts are people I will never meet. The idea that I might know someone for longer than the flight is so foreign to me that when my friend told me he asks out someone on his flights, it was as if he said, "Did you hear they found a new continent?"

My goal for this trip is to transcend that "otherness" feeling. I mentioned that I'm working on seeing men as bretheren. Similarly, I'm going to view fellow tourists as people and not objects peppering my view as I travel.

See also:
*Lisbon: bummer city

Lisbon, here I come!

My dad suggested we call it Elizbon while I'm there...

I fly off to this former world power port tonight and I return in a week! I'm going to attempt to let you know what's going on from there via the blog, but I don't want to assume I'll be able to find a computer or Internet easily.

Pray for me! I'm hoping to see the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima and I'll tell you all about it!

May God bless your week!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Psst, Mary is preggers..."

In anticipation of Christmas, the priest at my church delivered a homily about the pregnant Mother Mary a few weeks ago. He set up a scenario about this young teen, returning from the place where Gabriel announced to her that she would bear the Son of God:

She's in awe. She might not understand how it could be possible, but she recognizes the weight of the blessing in God's choice. This teen also knows that she is just a girl and she doesn't know how to explain it to her parents. There she was, walking along a path she had walked a hundred times before back to her home, but this time she was facing the risk of judgment, charges of adultery, and death.

How would we react if we met the real Mary with the real Jesus in her womb? What kind of judgment would we pass on her in the name of Christianity. "If she was a good person, she wouldn't be pregnant right now."

Obviously, I believe in and love the teachings of JP2's Theology of the Body. I don't think "Oh, it's fine" if someone chooses to have sex before marriage, but it doesn't help anything to treat them badly. Gossiping, trash talking, and passing judgment on pregnant women are not Christian acts, even if one is doing them as acts of standing by values of abstinence.

This is where I struggle with the shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. I don't watch it often, but when I saw it I constantly try to shake my first reaction of: what was going on in their heads?

The more pressing question is: what is going on in the heads of teens who watch the show? I don't have an answer to this question because sometimes the young moms tout an "I wish I'd waited" message and others tout an "I'm old enough to handle this" message.

These girls have to learn a lot of lessons really fast, while surrounded by judgmental looks. A lot of the teen dads on the show leave the picture and start sleeping with other girls. Zero consequences, few lessons learned. Each teen in the show is responsible for the pregnancies, but only the girls carry around the reminder for their schoolmates to see.

What is the difference between women who are 5 months pregnant and not-pregnant men or women who had sex 5 months ago? Evidence. We can see the reason we should be "allowed" to judge.

Mary's parents were disappointed. The most logical reason she would be pregnant was that she had sex with a man. Before the angel came to Joseph in a dream, the only explanation he could entertain was that Mary had sex with another man. The other Nazarenes would jump to that conclusion, as well.

We can never know everything about another person. The simplest strategy should be to love everyone. This kind of love is an action, not a passive emotion.

Don't throw the first stone. Imagine everyone for whom you're aiming is either Mary or Jesus, two innocents who faced judgment and accusations.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Emil Daddy

Thanks for your patience. I've noticed some people coming directly to the site, but realize I haven't updated in almost a week. It's been a fast, fast week...

My only grandfather passed away on Wednesday, early morning and we laid him to rest today. About two weeks ago, we checked him into the ER for pneumonia symptoms and found out he had lung cancer that had metastasized to his liver on the side that was paralyzed from his stroke a year ago.

My theory is that the paralyzed side hid a lot of the pain that he would have felt in what turned out to be late stages of cancer. PLUS he was a stubborn man who felt no pain, emotional or physical. You might think Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer are tough, but that's because you never met Emil Daddy.

We called him Emil Daddy because he was a strapping, young 54-year-old when his eldest grandchild (ME!) was born -- he didn't want to feel old and he liked doing things his own way, so it was "Emil Daddy."

If you're as impeccably observant as my grandfather was, you've already noticed that his name is the backwards version of a tart, green citrus fruit. He came to EVERY Grandparents' Day at each of his five grandchildren's schools, bringing with him a bag of limes as a visual teaching tool.

"You'll always remember how to spell it because it's lime, L-I-M-E, spelled backwards," he said to a crowd of open mouthed elementary school kids sitting Indian style on the rug.

He was always a big hit and my sister says she has a friend who asked her last year, "You're the one with the grandfather with the limes, right?"

My Emil Daddy lost his young wife when my mom and her sister were 2 and 3-years-old. I was talking to a friend and cousin the day he died and she exclaimed about how she didn't know any man who is ready to get married at the age he was on his wedding day, let alone who is able to raise two girls. Those girls grew into extremely successful women with college degrees, a nursing degree for one and an engineering masters degree for the other, and kicking families, if I do say so myself.

Throughout all of Emil Daddy's own book of Job, he remained steadfast in the Lord. It was really something to admire. His faith was consistent and strong, even when it would have been easier to get mad and give up.

In his daily life, Emil Daddy was extremely organized. I cannot begin to explain just what I mean by "extremely" because you have never met someone so efficient and particular. He saved every used peanut butter jar to store something, he separated black pens, blue pens, and red pens, he rewrote the user manuals for his computer in notebooks, cross-referencing them in other notebooks (using color coordination), so he would absolutely know where to go when he had a question.
I'm on the left. Chubby little hand, huh?
I could write for hours about the little quirks and memories I have of this stoic yet sacrificing and giving man. In fact, I'm working on a novel that will explain the love story between Emil Daddy and his wife, Thelma. Sneak preview: we have a few pages of 12-year-old Emil handwriting explaining how he was in love with a girl in his class, Thelma, and how he wanted to marry her. It only took ten years, I guess.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing me into the world under the care of my grandfather, Emil. I will continue to learn from the imprint he left on my life.

Thank you for your prayers and your time in reading this. God bless you all and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I know what I like

There is a distinct difference between "good art" and art. Conveniently, the literary and art world has set up an elite system to figure out the difference. On many occasions I buy into this system because I really think "good art" sustains itself over generations.

However, if you can enjoy the same books and movies dozens of times without getting sick of them, you've stumbled upon your own definition of good art. That's nothing to be ashamed of! Below is my no holds barred list of books I have read at least 5 times and movies of which I will never get tired. If I wanted to impress you, I'd share classic literature titles and indie movies..... It's good to know what you like, isn't it?


*Ella Enchanted - Haven't heard of it? That's because it's written for 5th grade girls. I haven't read it in several years, but I was at least 16 the last time I read this. Good, romantic, fantasy stories never get old.

*Pride and Prejudice - Yes, I'm a girl. Sue me.

From the Screwtape Letters play I saw in NYC!
*Persuasion - This is my favorite Austen novel because it shows how long love lasts when you don't abandon it.

*The Screwtape Letters - A new lesson learned each time I read it. If you haven't read this, what's wrong with you? Go to get it!

*The Bible -- I've heard this several times... but I have never read it from cover to cover in one fell swoop.

*Any Little House on the Prairie book - These are stories about the richest people on Earth. Often it seems like it would be easier to live like good people if we had as little and if life was as hard as it was for this family. It's all relative, so we should make just as much effort and be just as loving as the Ingalls.

*The Lord of the Flies - We all turn on Simon every once in a while, just as we turn on the Holy Trinity. It's helpful to remind ourselves about darkness, too.

P.S. - I just found this site called Catholic Fiction: jackpot!


*"Indian Summer" - Chances are you haven't heard of this, but it's a great movie (with shaky morality) about our childhood expectations for adulthood. When we reach adulthood, those expectations can haunt us or motivate us. Oh! And it takes place in Canada. Win-win.

*"Sound of Music" - Doe, a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden suuuuuuuuuuun!

*"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" - AKA, 7b47b. What's not to love about a group of rugged, singing, dancing brothers in Oregon Territory, 19th century?

*"Meet Me in St. Louis" - I already mentioned this once.

*"Calendar Girls" - Anglophile here, so this movie gives me the right dose of British accents and English countryside. It's also an interesting story about a bunch of moms who take their clothes off to buy a couch, so it's a crowd pleaser.

*"What Dreams May Come" - Beautiful images in a beautiful story. Who cares if it's accurate or not? It makes me bawl every time I watch it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 8

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Thank you all for bearing with me on the whiny and woe is me posts. I beg of you to pray for my family again, especially for my grandfather. He is not in good shape, so if you could pray for his peace with the Holy Trinity, I would appreciate it.

From Flickr, Stlyouth
I listened to Patrick Madrid's Open Line radio show this week! One caller asked why we ask non-Catholics not to receive the Eucharist at Catholic Mass.

I have always wondered; I know Protestants see the consecrated host as a symbol, even though they're standing in a room full of Catholics who know it to have gone through transubstantiation. If they're going to think it's a symbol anyway, then they've missed the point to begin with. Mr. Madrid, as he has on so many occasions before, answered my question: 1 Corinthians 11:23-34.

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." -1 Corinthians 27-19

This is cheating, but I'm tagging back to an earlier post I had this week about boys and girls. It goes out to teenage and college aged students, especially.

My work had its office "Holiday Open House" this week, which was a lot of fun! I haven't gotten to see my co-workers in months (virtual office), so it was wonderful to see them again! It reminded me how fortunate I am work with such good, fun, honest people. I have the best boss in the world and a super support system of co-workers.

Prayers go out to one co-worker who is moving on to do mission work! See, I told you I work with good people.

Visit Billy Atwell's site for an interesting look at conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church and his hope for a new movie coming out, "The Rite." This is one impressive Catholic blogger and speaker. If you're wavering in your faith or you can appreciate a good testimony, he has some videos posted here.

Last week I said I wanted to see a concert soon and tomorrow I make that dream come true! If anyone is in RVA, Carbon Leaf is playing at the National. Those of you who are not Richmonders, check them out. They are irishy, rocky, and folky.

We are quickly approaching the darkest day of the year. This means we're quickly approaching the time of the year when the days get longer and longer. One cannot notice the light without the darkness. I'll expand on that next week, but here's a preview: "Thanks to the human heart by which we live,/Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,/To me the meanest flower that blows can give/Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boys and girls

Boys are not stressful and they are not stupid.

Reviewing the Theology of the Body as I teach the teens at my church reminds me of this. Another beautiful result of the third wave of feminism <<sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm>> is the trend of disliking men for being male.

Take your pick of any jaded female Facebook status, the evidence is abundant.

I'm guilty of a little hate speech soiling our brothers here and there, but it has been a while. I have a longer history of stressing out about "boys" and wondering if they liked me romantically or not. Oh the time I have wasted...

Ladies, think about how much time and energy you've spent analyzing something a guy has said or not said. We get all worked up, as if guys imply or hide anywhere NEAR as much in their speech as we do, and when it doesn't work out: we get to spit all over their good name.

Sounds like a good deal, right?

I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize this. Until several months ago, I thought I needed to know what the men in my life were thinking. Pick a side, I thought. Pick a side, friend or more than friend, and go with it.

God only knows how many friendships I spoiled with that approach. I'm finally at peace and trusting God. Where the words "let go and let God" would make me angry and confuse me, now I can sincerely let go.

Attention young ladies: take a break from guys for a little while. Allow yourself some time to come to see them as brothers in Christ or potential brothers in Christ.

Being friends with them is so much easier then stressing about what they're thinking -- and, if you ask me, being friends with them is easier than being friends with most women.

Aim for God, as explained in the diagram here, and He'll bring you closer to whom He's chosen for you. You may already know him! In the meantime you can get to know Him and all the hims without angst-dripping Facebook statuses.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Diary

When I was in 6th grade and having a particularly rough, middle-school-is-the-first-taste-of-hell moment, my mom suggested I start writing in a diary. "Oh mom, what do you know? Well, I do have some spare time..." The habit stuck and I'm in my 13th year of diary divulging.

Buying a new diary is a ritual. It should look like the beholder in that stage of life -- the last one I bought was understated, painted leather, and two inches thick because I thought it could be filled with stories about meeting my husband and my first months of motherhood. That was important to me, therefore it's consistent with my needs for the diary.

Unexamined self-talk is vulnerable to worldliness and I think everyone should pour thoughts onto paper. My diaries are filled with milestones...though I cringe at virtually every teenage, twenty-year-old, and "last-week-ago" thought I've written.

Diary writing became such a big pillar in my life that I built my one and only art show around it.
Two autumns ago, I painted four main pieces and picked out a dozen pages from diaries dating back to 11-year-old me, lining the pages atop the paintings on the wall. In each of the works and on each diary page I painted some version of a black area, a consistency that represents a vehicle between all of them.
My objective was to illustrate the concept of memories and how they adapt to our lives

One lady told me that this was a pro-choice painting... news to me...
I wrote excerpts from diaries around this head thing.
When you recall memories that you've thought about before, you're looking through two lenses:
1) All of the experiences since you were younger shift your perspective on everything, including past memories. 2) Remembering a memory is an imperfect task to undertake anyway and acknowledging that opens another pocket for learning about yourself. 

For example, I remember my second birthday and that my cake had no candles on it. Remembering how my parents scrambled to find candles for their eldest child's second birthday cake is more important to me now than it was at six-years-old. At six, I was more concerned with the color of my dress. 

If God wills it, I'm closer to being the parent of a 2-year-old than I am to being a 2-year-old. Six-year-old me liked pretty dresses, simple as that.

I added more diary excerpts underneath and around the tree branches.

If you try to read this, please recognize that I was probably 18 and "artsy fartsy" for artsy fartsy's sake when I wrote it. *Groan*
Reading over the diaries to pick entries was painful and posting them up on walls for others to read them was even more painful. But that was part of the point. We are the sums of our experiences and the product of our equipment for absorbing them. By sharing my impression of this concept with others, I placed a marker in my memory and in the memory of everyone who looked at my show (and now, you). 

This memory "marker" may or may not pop up again in your life, but all seemingly inconsequential moments add up. In a few minutes, days, or years you may think back on any memory with a new perspective. 

The new perspective will meet with the old perspective and the difference will give you even more to think about. 

"I was once incapable of seeing a man as a brother in Christ first, instead of a potential mate. Thank You, God, for constantly de-clouding my vision of that. In a few years, I'll see more results from that."


"Wow, 17-year-old me actually wrote the words, 'I have everything figured out.' Joke is on her... and now the joke is on me."

"I use the word 'I' too much."

There will be more memory collisions in my future. I look forward to them, as embarrassing as they will be.

Friday, December 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 7

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Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I'm a former "feminist."

Hi, Elizabeth.

The women who hoist the 1970s version of feminism onto their shoulders would be offended by me and my mind right now.

On the subject of wifely submission, I have always touted the position of, "Heck no I will not submit! Submission means you agree you're lowly and less than!" As I grow closer to what I believe God is calling me, marriage, I see how small minded this is. This post by "Barefoot and Pregnant" does an outstanding job of explaining the dichotomy. Read to the end, it's worth it.

Speaking of husband and wife, there is a really cool diagram in this post, as well as an explanation of the most pure moment of sexual desire in the history of time. Intriguing?

As Wednesday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we sang Salve Regina. My friend elbowed me and immediately, we thought the same thing; we wanted to sing this version:

Restraining and preventing myself from singing that version was like holding in a sneeze.

PC people hate on/are jealous of Apple people, the world over. I have one friend in my life, in particular, who thinks PCs are better than Macs.  

Rather than explaining the illogicality behind that (and becoming a complete hypocrite), I will share with you this shirt I found on Please check out that site, if only for the genius of the copywriter.

Prayers and an impressed pat-on-the back go out to the woman who brought Theology of the Body to my church. She's a military wife, so her family has moved around the country for the last 15+ years and has dealt with the separation of long deployments. 

This woman has raised two wonderful daughters who break the mold for what a teenager "should be" in this era. One of them is old enough to be in TOB class--the fact that she chooses to come to class and doesn't complain is jaw-dropping. But this girl wants to be there and she wants to learn what we have to teach. On top of that, she wants to make us feel comfortable and appreciated, though attendance tends to be low.

I had the pleasure of spending some time in her home last week when we were working on lesson plans. I look forward to the challenge and I pray that God guides me (and that I listen) as well as she has to raise the beautiful, grounded, and God-directed family I am fortunate to know.

It has been way too long since I've gone to a concert I actually wanted to go to... I want to fill my quota for good, live music very soon. 


Ladies and gentlemen--maybe this is the first time you've read this or maybe this is the gagillionth time you've read this, but it is such an important mission to remember:

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her." -Maya Angelou

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Theology of the Body, Week 3

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

No, the humor is not lost on me. Non-Catholics may say: You taught a group of teens about not having sex on the day you celebrate the holiest sex ever. But Theology of the Body is 100x deeper than "not having sex" and the Immaculate Conception was much more than holy love-making.

It will take the entire TOB series to cover the depth and completeness of the Theology of the Body, so that's why I'm reporting our goings on here!

Nakedness without Shame

In the beginning, when Adam saw Eve, he experienced the most pure form of sexual desire ever felt. They had not eaten of the fruit of knowledge, so they were "naked without shame." If you can imagine this: shame and embarrassment didn't even exist because there was perfect Love. When Adam saw Eve's body (and vice versa), he saw and experienced his call to love her.

The first parents had no need to cover themselves because there was no fear of being seen as an object to be used.

Unlike today. Thank you, Britney Spears.

Pope John Paul II referred to this call to make a gift of themselves to each other the nuptial meaning of the body. In the physical design of their bodies, Adam and Eve saw that their bodies literally fit together and they saw that their Maker had created them for a sacred communion. They were gifts for one another and in being so, they were able to mirror God in a sacred, albeit relatively small, way.

In the second chapter of Genesis, we read:

"Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh...the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." -Genesis 2:24-5

Marriage brings us as close to the original "nakedness without shame" as we can reach in any other capacity. Sex in the City would have you believe that having sex with as many people as possible removes your shame and makes you more comfortable with your body in that situation. Those ladies certainly act like they have no shame, as our colloquialisms would have us define, but they are corrupting the original purpose for making love.

As the first married people on Earth, Adam and Eve were able to love as God loves:
*Free- God's Love is given freely to us.
*Total- God's Love is complete and He gives all of Himself to us, withholding nothing.
*Faithful- God never abandons us and never stops loving us.
*Fruitful- God's love brings us life. Jesus died for us so that we could have new life. (Theology of the Body for Teens, pg 42)

A friend and co-teacher shared with us this triangle diagram -->

As a man and a woman work toward God, they're also getting closer to each other. If we seek God, we will also grow closer to each other, with the Love that growing close to God fosters. I love this visual because it is a superb reminder.

So, when Adam and Eve first recognized the God in one another, they were already toward the top of the pyramid. Later came the Fall. Adam and Eve allowed the serpent to tempt them into questioning the gift, as Pope John Paul II called it.

To exemplify that "questioning of the gift," we showed this clip (it won't let me embed it) from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

We don't have to wait until the next retreat to transcend worldly things and feel God's presence. Every time we review something in TOB or see something in our day that reminds me how great God is through the teachings of TOB, we can feel that overwhelming presence. Praise God!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I love 1st graders! Week 11

I'm going to miss those little goofballs! Today was the last class until late January and it is Bummer City in my heart.

On many occasions I have thought, "Wow, I really love this!" and "Teaching is fun, I love trying to find a balance between discipline and entertainment" (while teaching... okay you caught me). However, tonight revealed the most overwhelming feeling of deep-rooted Love for each of these precious little people.

The hang up is: I don't know how much I'm allowed to show. The training they make religious ed teachers undergo paralyzes me a little--thanks, lawyers. My twin snuggled up next to me while we were sitting and it was all I could do not to put my arm around her for a little side-hug. I want to show each of them how much I'm growing to Love them, and, you know, try to share Jesus' Love, but I feel like I can't.

Next time, I'm going to keep the motto I've tried to tattoo to my heart: Love always. As long as we're all together as a class, I can adore these little chillins all I want!

Jesse Tree

Tonight we joined the other classes to celebrate the Jesse Tree prayer service for the kiddies. That meant a squall of elementary schoolers attempting to sing a song I sang when I was in their shoes, about 17 years ago... a lot of high pitched mumbling to the tune of The 12 days of Christmas.

That also means: party time! We asked them to bring in a treat to share (this is a test for moms and dads more than it is for our students...) and we brought gifts!

My lovely teacher friend brought in gold ornaments that she decorated to give them along with these cards (pictured at right). It is rotten quality because I used Photobooth to snatch a picture of it when I was in weird lighting. They enjoyed the gifts!

Parents: I'm really sorry for the amount of sugar in their bloodstream when you picked up your little darlings. I hope you only heard 5 or 6 verses of the song we sang before they fell asleep.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Happy one year ennui-versary to you, family! It is the end of a year of crappy situations and pretty tragic events, to which I alluded in my All Souls' Day post.

We "joke" that my uncle kicked it off when he fell off his bike, suffering a severe head injury. For a few days there, we thought he wasn't going to be living on his own, but the day after the priest game him the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, he made a complete recovery. It took a few months before the doctors cleared him for driving... driving! One day he was on the road to life in bed and the other he was asking to drive. Praise God!

My mom tore both of her hamstrings, suspending her tennis career until six months after the surgery... her amateur tennis league. Not tragic, but she was very torn up about it (weird, overly anatomical joke? Yup, thanks for playing).

Next: my two sisters got in two separate car accidents. My baby sister walked away unharmed, yet shaken after being T-boned. The mid-kid and the car she was in flipped completely over. Christine, the mid-kid, walked away from her accident too. Her souvenirs? A bruise on the top of her head where the car bounced on the ground and a back injury that still plagues her. God is good!

Two days after Christine's accident, my grandfather (Emil Daddy) had a heart valve replaced. He went to Thanksgiving with us and had an extraordinary start of a recovery. Exactly two weeks after Emil Daddy's surgery, we got a call: "It appears Emil Daddy had a small stroke." My 77-year-old grandfather has been learning to talk, walk, and use his right arm again for the last twelve months. His mind is sharp as an ax, he just can't communicate or get around as easily as the rest of us.

This alone has taught me to value every over-share, every long-winded story, and every seemingly superfluous sentence.

Two days after Emil Daddy's stroke, my gramma (other side) lost her apartment in a fire. She came to live with us and fell in the middle of the night twice, breaking her arm once.

Emil Daddy's best friend died suddenly while he was in the hospital. His sister, who lives in California, died while my grandfather was in a rehab facility. The stroke weakened Emil Daddy's swallowing muscles, leaving him with a high risk of pneumonia. In April, he actually got so sick that he almost died in the hospital. Finally, after having surgery on her broken arm, my great aunt passed away suddenly two Sundays ago.

Each little life rock slide challenged my family and by the grace of God we learned to tie our happiness to Jesus Christ. All of us grew closer together as we grew closer to God.

Though Christine is in chronic pain (and the busiest human being on Earth), she always makes every effort to love people around her. Emil Daddy, who raised two daughters on his own, learned to let people take care of him. The rest of us are learning how to be patient and love others. We could be tempted to use this stress as an excuse to mistreat others, but we're all working to do the opposite.

I suppose this makes this week an anti-ennui-versary.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 6

I'm no Gleek, but Finn is my new "celebrity" crush (Finn's character, I know nothing about the actor). He's such a nice guy, I love his voice (of course), and I ... really applaud God's work with that kid. Typical me: he's Canadian. I should have known because he reminds me of Gilbert Blythe, my literary crush.

I haven't raved much about Canada on this blog, but it's a joke in my family: Oh Canada, you put a spell on me.


We needed a movie with a good message:

A Walk In My Shoes - 2:33 TRLR from on Vimeo.


You may have noticed that I added a new blog to my roll over there: From Punk to Monk is a blog written by "Homeboy McCoy," a self-proclaimed former "punk." He was in the fast lane as a musician and heard God's call to become a monk. He has a great voice (I have it on good authority that he has an MFA in creative writing) and some powerful insight.

Help a brother out...

Warning: Shameless self-promotion below (that's not true, I'm feeling plenty of shame for this):

I have another site and it features my jewelry business. As soon as I lasso some time, I will make some winter-friendly jewelry, but there are plenty of pieces on there.

My friends and family make fun of me because "Elizabeth changes her mind at least once a week" (as my cousin said Wednesday night). Jewelry making (not so much jewelry wearing, actually), drawing, painting, writing, reading, swimming, kids, God, Catholicism, and more -- I have a lot of passions. I can't help it.

As I mentioned last week, my class reunited at our 5-year high school reunion on Saturday. I loved seeing my former classmates and I had a great night out! We hopped around to a few bars, though I only planned on going to the first.

Let's just say I wasn't missing anything by not knowing the boys at the guy's school... I'm sure some of them are very nice and good guys (I met several), but overall... I wasn't missing much.

I am a terrible test-taker. I have always been a terrible test-taker. I will not go into my list of reasons why tests are terrible ways to measure aptitude. Last night, I took the GRE in preparation for applying for grad school... ouch.

I scored significantly higher on the math section. And yes, you remember correctly. I'm applying to ENGLISH graduate programs.

Some of the math questions gave the option to say, "Hey! There isn't enough info here to determine this!"

I wish the verbal section had that option. "Hey! I read a lot, but apparently never came across this word in my 2 decades of literacy. Give me a break, huh?"

I'm going to be a bridesmaid! You know that old "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" bit? Not me. I have been excited about being a bridesmaid forever. Yes, there is some responsibility and there will be some challenges to juggle, but I'm light on my feet and quick to solve problems. I'm so honored that my friend chose me to be with her up there on a big catalytic day in her life!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Netflix, with the help of my Wii, brought me to a cute little movie the other night. Arranged takes place in Brooklyn where two teachers of orthodox faiths, one Muslim, one Jewish, find friendship sparked by a mutual tradition in their faiths: arranged marriages.

The movie probably cost a buck and a song to make. It is not going to excite you or wake up your action-movie-core, but these quiet movies are helpful in slowing down the pace of our lives.

I really do understand the purpose behind arranged marriages and I respect them, in a way. No, this does not make me weird.

They are more statistically successful than whatever process is going into half of the marriages in America, which are failing. This is likely due to the respect for the commitment to marriage and to honoring God in that marriage, a common goal in Islam and Judaism.

Several religions practice arranged marriages and not all of them end up peachy keen -- consider that acknowledged.

In several jabs throughout the movie, the principal of the school ignorantly attempts to show Rochel Meshenberg and Nasira Khaldi how much their religion offends womanhood, according to her. "There was a women's movement, you know?"

The writer and director tastefully sprinkled blatant examples of ignorance, planted in fear and overgrown into intolerance. The principal thinks she's teaching the girls about how intolerant their religion is for female choices and that they should want to remove themselves from those chains immediately. Her arrogance and ignorance shield her from seeing just how intolerant she is.

This is a charming movie, one that I recommend for its obvious respect of devout religious lifestyles and for its unapologetic mirror for intolerance. The two women spend their lives practicing true love and devout faith, though their world surrounds them with reasons to abandon that.

After watching this movie, I am grateful for Netflix, I am grateful that I will not attempt to find true love under the hawk eyes of my Jewish mother, and I'm grateful there is a non-Christian movie that still touts a Christian message of Love.
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