Saturday, January 29, 2011


"Aren't you glad we lived this long?" 

My dad says this every time he encounters the newest technological miracle or techy technique. The following is a group of more reasons to love this e-age and how it can help you grow in faith. Of course, you can hit Catholic Online, Catholic Answers, and the blogosphere on your first few rounds, but what if you want to find some new sources?

I've compiled a little list of free, cheap, or unique Catholic and/or general Christian resources found online. It's a list, it's a long one, bear with me, and read the whole thing. I guarantee you'll find something you like!

If I get your suggestions and the list grows enough, I'll make a page and plug your blog as thanks for suggesting!

* A friend and TOB co-teacher works for Uppercase Living, which has some attractive Christian inspirational sticky messages in an online store. These are so neat, I'm putting one in my bathroom so I see it every morning and night.

*Many G.K. Chesterton books are a dollar each on Barnes and Noble's Nook e-store. If you don't have a Nook, you can download the software for FREE from B&N and read it on your computer. Let's say a few months down the road it hits you: I must buy a Nook. Who could blame you? All of your B&N purchases are stored on your account. No need to re-purchase. Check out these Catholic fiction writers too: Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Ron Hansen, and these. Nerd-dom rocks.
This is here so you don't get bored...

*There are many Catholic podcasts out there including my favorite, The Catholic Guy Show. The Disciples with Microphones has compiled a list of Catholic podcasts, organized into categories. Hunky dory!

*I enjoy Patrick Madrid's apologetics Open Line show on EWTN Radio, Thursdays at 3pm EST. If you're like me and you have no idea which radio station that is in your hometown, click on one of these links and it will start streaming.

*This entire site,, is a Catholic coupon clipper's digital heaven. Seriously, free stuff. And of course, it's not just for Catholics. Anyone is welcome to get some free stuff!

*Do you have a spiritual director yet? I don't have one yet, but while I'm looking for one, I consult this online Catholic Spiritual Direction site.

*Of course this isn't all about getting. We're here to evangelize, are we not? How could I get away with my awesome post title if I don't mention that? You can donate to members of FOCUS who have to raise their own salaries in exchange for prayer intentions and spreading Christ's word to college students. There are MANY places to donate online to Catholic and Christian organizations, but that one will put your money in the trenches, feeding the mouths before they speak to those who will run the world in a few short years.
Another boredom savior...

*You don't have to spend money to do some good online. Facebook. No, really. Don't shy away from praising Him in a status message every once in a while. If your friends don't like it, they can ignore it. Hopefully filling the newsfeed with positive messages and gratitude towards the One who brought us here will make a few changes. It may make others more comfortable with sharing their praises in "public places." For some reason, so many of us fall for the idea that we should be embarrassed by our faith. Be one in the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

*One last Facebook tip: go on there and tell people you Love them. Not "luv" and not "love ya." Spend some time to make a connection with someone you haven't spent much time with. Grab their email or send them a message and tell them you Love them. People don't mind being told someone Loves them, in fact it will probably make their day. Cousins, old friends, moms, dads, grandparents (especially if they're cool enough to be on the Interwebs), and significant others: let them know what they mean to you (Note: I didn't condone unleashing on your crush). Believe me, when you don't have the chance to tell someone anymore, you wonder about how many opportunities you had to tell them.

*Not in a Catholic-rich area? Go to and look for a Catholic group. Maybe there's an age appropriate group, a mom or dad group, a book group, or a Dungeons and Dragons for Catholics group. Whatever floats your boat. If it's not on there, CREATE IT. Chances are, there are people in the area who want someone to begin something and SOMEONE should. Hint, hint. It is just as easy as arranging a dinner with your friends.

* is a music hub for Christian tunes and artists. It will point you in the direction of new artists for FREE. Music can't sound better than that.

*Using the code VAL11 on gives you 6 months of a subscription for $10/month, saving you up to 60%. You spend that much on coffee in a week. Caffeinate your Love life instead on a site dedicated to Catholic dating.

*Got Bible? Need to copy and paste Bible? USCCB has you covered. Thanks guys!

* ... an explanation would be redundant.

Don't get distracted, you're almost done!
*This site offers a way to track... that which you need to track when you're following NFP. I've tweeted with them before and they tell me Fertile View also offers one-on-one consultations with engaged couples.

*There are probably many Catholic dad and mom community sites out there, but here are two.

*The Rosary Army has an inspired mission: "Rosary Army freely provides online instructions on how to make, pray and give away all-twine knotted rosaries either to individuals or organizations of their choosing or for Rosary Army’s worldwide distribution to those in need. Rosary Army will provide one free handmade all-twine knotted rosary to any individual of any faith around the world." Pay it forward multiplied indefinitely!

*Thinking about taking a mission trip? Want to keep it Catholic? Here you go and here you go. There are TONS of Christian mission trip resources, so here is the Google search. Be sure to go on one that fits in with your beliefs. If they're promoting contraception to "control population" or they're promoting embryonic stem cell vaccines, run!

You made it! Believe me, it's my job to research and I could go on for weeks with these links. I play hopscotch with Google all day, so if there's something for which you're searching (you know, something you can find on the Internet) email me at my jewelry store account and I'll be happy to find it.

Also, if I missed something cool, add it! I'll create a page if I get some good feedback and we'll keep a running list!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 13

Click here to read the original post at

Why can't I ever just get the flu? I don't go to the doctor because they've ALWAYS told me, "No, it's not X, it's a virus." Well, this time I was SURE it was the flu. It came on quickly, it hit me hard, and I had a fever, which never happens. Normal temp for me is 97 degrees or below (about 36 C in the rest of the world) and I was running 99.

What did the doctor tell me? "It's a flu-like virus." Dang it. I guess it's good that I avoid the real pneumonia, streptococcus, plague, and flu, but good grief.

I didn't write that for pity. I wanted to explain my blogging absence, I'll be back on schedule after today. Thanks for sticking with me through this and I'm sorry I didn't have any new material for you!

This is also why I posted this a little early.

My sisters are two of my favorite people on Earth. Not only are they my sisters, but they find the COOLEST musicians. I have decidedly poor taste in music, so I trust them and my parents to find music for me. Well, they've done it again:

Boyce Avenue - I don't know if this is their modus operandi (I've been watching a lot of NCIS while in the sick bed. I didn't say I had good TV taste, either), but they cleaned up Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," which made me grin.

I used Ms. Perry's song about losing her virginity (in a sci-fi fit of celestial tumbling) in our first TOB class as an example of the world making sex look like a rite of passage. It was wonderful to listen to this young man turn the song into something much more meaningful. Take a listen, all the way to the end so you can see some other videos. Hint, he changed the first words to "I think you're pretty without any make-up on." Swoon.


God blessed me with two wonderful parents who don't mind a daughter who can't do anything for herself for 48+ hours. My mom works from home, so she was with me throughout my plaguepisode as I reverted to infant-hood. She brought me water (oh my gosh, the amounts of water I've had this week...), soup, tissues, wet head cloths, medicine, and motherly forehead touching like only a mother can.

My daddy kept up with me through text and email, confirming that I was alive and trying to make me laugh. He usually doesn't have to try to make me laugh, but I think the flu messed with my brain. Every word I read or heard was Iroquois to me.

I'm blessed to have such loving parents whom I Love back very much.

The 21st century is in want of a sarcasm font. What if, when g-chatting or IMing (if people still do that), we surround our sarcasm with ^these^ to represent the obligatory eyebrow lift when you just can't hold back the smile at your own facetiousness. Thoughts?

Calling all college students (Katie, pass this on):

The lovely Ms. Rebecca has done it again. She raked up the life knowledge she's accumulated since graduating from college and compiled a spiritual survival guide for college ladies (and gentlemen, if you don't mind stretching a few of the points).

If you have a daughter, niece, granddaughter, sister, or friend who is in college and may need some friendly advice from a young woman who lives a fashion forward life while remaining chaste, modest, and in God's back pocket, pass on this link.

Life is Not a Romantic Comedy

This was one of those weeks it was tough to remember that Emil Daddy and Joan Marie are really gone. I don't want to violate my great uncle's privacy by posting a picture of him with his wife. However, here is a very old (and very cute) picture of my dear grandfather and the grandmother I never met but for whom I was named:

I got her dimples too. These two are so gosh darn cute.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I have this log in my eye...

One of my worst faults is my lack of patience with a particular group of people and it's unfair of me to let it continue. For the most part, I have patience with atheists, agnostics, and non-Christian religious people, but my fuse is much shorter with non-Catholic Christians. I feel awful about that and if you're a non-Catholic Christian, I'm sorry for my attitude in my past.
(I don't own the rights)

I have a theory about why this is, however, it's an excuse when there should be no excuses.

The other day I attempted to rationally explain something to a non-Catholic Christian in a comment on VitaConsecrata's blog, but I failed miserably. When I went down the path of the explanation, facing what I thought to be an irrational argument, I got petty, I got a little defensive, and I did not embrace a spirit of Love or Christian unity. Shame on me.

In looking for a good "come back," I consulted Patrick Madrid's brilliant work, 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know, flipping through the pages on the hunt for the perfect verse for my debate. God was guiding me with his sense of humor and wisdom.
(I don't own the rights)

My eyes brought me to page 147.

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of you eye,' when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:3-5

Well, shoot. Humility arrow aimed right at my heart.

This Sunday's homily brought up the most frequently used wedding reading. It is so frequently used, sometimes we glaze over the depth of its meaning because we've heard the words so often:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Not only do I have a log in my eye, but I've let it catch fire. I've let resentment and debate heat up in my heart, preventing me from seeing beauty or potential in Christian unity. 


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good Samarit-attain-ia

It occurred to me that a lot of my "societal commentary" posts are negative. "Here's something you see everyday and here is why it's BAD." That's not really how I live my life, I promise.

To redirect, I've created a page for Good Samaritanisms, or real-life examples of strangers pleasantly surprising others. These people give us hope and inspiration to do the same for others... a habit to attain (I had to do it).
I don't own the rights.

Here are the ones I can remember. I'll add to the page every time I remember an old one, whenever a new Good Samaritanism happens to me, and whenever YOU share YOUR Good Samaritan stories!

*The other day I was standing in line at Jo Ann's Fabric Store (man, they charge a lot to make your own stuff) and the lady behind me approached me with a warm demeanor. She asked if any of my items were on sale and handed me a 40% off coupon that would give me a discount. She said, "I have an extra!" -- but she didn't have to save me $8.00 at all.

*On a flight to Los Angeles with the Model UN club in my sophomore year (and at the midway point of my awkward, self-consciousness), I sat next to a bubbly lady. She talked to me the whole way, made me feel comfortable, dished out advice, and then paid for my lunch.

*My sister Christine was embarking on her mile-long trek to work a few years ago and a girl she didn't know pulled over and offered her a ride to work.

*Several years ago, my dad was driving home from the bank with $3000 in an envelope sitting on the dashboard. I can hear you already: 1) yes, that was an unfortunate location choice and, 2) my parents once owned a soccer magazine and the large amount of cash was for something related to that. Upon arriving in our driveway, he realized the money must have blown out the window. With scenes of Uncle Billy and Jimmy Stewart flashing through his mind, he panicked and retraced his steps, to no avail. Later that day, a woman called our house, saying she found an envelope in the street gutter... nothing about $3000 in it. She returned all of it to my father and didn't expect a reward.

*Starbucks, oh Starbucks. My sister is addicted to you. Katie was sitting outside a Starbucks a few years ago, feeling unhappy, stressed, and worried about several things. A stranger walking out the coffee shop door recognized that she was upset, cheerfully asked her about her day, and then chatted with her for a quarter of an hour.

*After Christine's car crash in Italy, five families came out of their house to investigate. The car had flipped completely over and landed back on its tires, terrifying everyone in it. The families who witnessed it and came to help gave gauze to Christine for her bleeding legs, brought food for the car-ful of people, and tissues for the 9-year-old who was crying. They offered comfort in a horrifying time.

*A couple in the same restaurant as Christine's pre-Homecoming, 10-person party paid their entire bill.

*On multiple occasions, the drivers ahead of me have paid for my toll. Yay, Virginia!

*Katie was 9 and chewed alive by bug bites, and was trapped outside. She says we were out of earshot and/or just not letting us in. She was terrified that she was being feasted on by a tick, crying out and pounding on doors. The son of the backdoor neighbor, whom we had not met, came over, calmed her down, and helped her get our attention.

*Christine has also gotten in a pretty bad bike crash along the side of a road. A man pulled over helped her and her bike into his truck and drove her to her boyfriend's house. From there she had to go to the hospital.

*Living in a new city by yourself is tough. My cousin was feeling particularly lonely and decided to adopt a dog. As she pulled into the parking lot, another woman was also pulling in. This lady had found a dog and wanted someone to adopt him, but she didn't want him to be euthanized. My cousin got her companion and $125 in cash from the woman. The woman received peace of mind and the dog got a home and a name: Keto.

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 12


I came across this nun's blog (Monastics on a Journey) the other day and realized I'VE MET HER! She came to talk to my theology class when I was in high school and then again when we went on our senior year recruiting trip visit to the local Order of Saint Benedict.

Two posts on other blogs that I read in the same hour the other day. They were eerily linked...

A piece by Charlotte Upah on The Practicing Catholic about her daughter's vows of "in sickness and in health" on the day of her wedding (also one of the worst days of her flu). Her brand new husband hung out with her as she napped for an hour after the ceremony instead of taking a tour of the city with the bridal party.

A post by Homeboy McCoy, one of my personal favorites, about old tendencies in his new relationship as he studies to become a monk. He dips back into his history before the monastery and asks for your prayers. His closing comment is, " I find solace knowing the ultimate vocation we are all called to is to get to Heaven. Beyond that, nothing matters."

Let me tell you something. I've never been an tween or teenage boy growing up in the 1960s. However, I really enjoy watching The Wonder Years.
(I don't own the rights)

The writing is brilliant, most of the time, and it creates a balance between creating a TV haven and breaking tough ground seldom (if ever) seen on TV in 2011. If you haven't had the pleasure of watching Kevin Arnold awkwardly bounce his way around life before college, you're missing out on rewinding time in your own mind.

The producers seemed to be aware that the cult show is in high demand because I just signed up to receive an email when they finally create a DVD set.

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.”

God blessed my family with the CUTEST TWINS EVER BORN. This week I got to hang out with them, hold them, Love them, and coo at them for a few short minutes. Their grand-daddy is so wonderful with them and their gramma is watching out for them.
Cell phone cameras are the new pinhole cameras.
One of them yawns so big, it looks like her face is half yawn. She looked like Emil Daddy! His yawns were epic.

The other twinzie squirmed and wormed in my arms as she was... relieving herself, crying the cutest little cry you've ever heard. It hit me: how can people seen these brand new bundles of life, with their curious, yet cloudy eyes, watch them take in the world and deny the existence of God?

It's not simply chemical. You would have to invest a heck of a lot of faith to convince yourself of that when you see a brand new life in your arms. Jen Fulwiler has a brilliantly written post about this very phenomenon. She was freed by an exchange of eye contact with her first son.

There are a lot of wonderful Catholic mom blogs out there and I enjoy reading them. However, I'm not a mom and I have little use for some of the excellent lessons they espouse in the writing. 

I'm happy to have found the following Catholic young people blogs! Some writers are discerning or pursuing religious vocation and some are just young and telling it like it is.

We're having my family over for a on-purpose-dinner this Saturday. After these last several months, we've all learned to make an effort to show each other Love on non-holidays too.

Do I really have to comment on this? It's an animal-loving type of week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A hairy tortoise?

This discussion comes up a lot in Richmond. Many of us pride ourselves on being southern with all the charms and tendencies thereof... especially when we're behind the wheel.

Virginia drivers are like the tortoise in the tortoise (can I just use "turtle" now?) and the hare race. Northerners are like the hare.

(Don't worry, "Northern Virginians", I'm including you in the Northerner category.)

You know the story: the turtle took his time, merrily he went with consistency at his slow pace all the way to the finish line. The hare got cocky, took a nap, and now elementary school classrooms around the world mock and laugh at him.

When it comes to driving in Richmond, out-of-towners get mad at the slow pace of Richmonders on the road. When the light turns green, we step on the pedal. We're not revving the engine in anticipation of the switch.

We go six to ten miles above the speed limit, most of the time, even if we don't spy a cop along the road (radar detectors aren't allowed here). The hares sometimes show signs of impatience and ride up on our tortoise shells.

Who sounds like the winner in this scenario? The hare gets all flustered, sets himself up for a speed trap if he's not careful, and potentially jumps the gun too early waiting for the green light. The turtle just canters along his merry way, arriving at his destination at roughly the same time as the hare.

Who wouldn't want to be the slow, seemingly patient and consistent animal in this children's story? Well, this isn't the whole picture.

As a Richmond turtle, I know the slow, green way of doing things can be just as harmful as the quick, fluffy way.

Turtles, let's come clean: When a hare gets right on our shell-y tush, we take our sweet time to move out of his way. If we can help MacGyver a little 3 or 4 car-box for the impatient hare, we do it in the name of teamwork and "teaching this guy a lesson."

My Gramma, like most grandparents, drove like a very old turtle, sans vendetta. When she was driving, she would always remark to her passengers, "Everybody's in such a rush. See, you had to wait like everyone else, buddy."

Her tone was sweet and I'm sure she said a little prayer for them instead of plotting a way to piss off the hurried hare. As I try to improve my retaliation turtle ways, her words are ringing in my ears.

Logically, being the hare shaves maybe 5 minutes off a pretty long drive and causes ulcers. Being the turtle puts us in a constant mindset of vengeance and teaching lessons.

Are we here to teach lessons or to improve the world? These are not mutually exclusive, but if we corrode our insides with this form of hate, how can we expect to accomplish the latter?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Theology of the Body, Week 4

This week was the big event! The TOB for Teens class is usually rather small: four teachers and a handful of teens: between two and five... young ladies. We have yet to be graced with the presence of a brave young man.

However, this week we took the show on the road and taught the lesson to a camp mess hall room filled with 99 confirmation candidates!

Several of them wanted to be there, several were forced to be there, and others would have run the marathon distance back to civilization if their video game habits hadn't condemned them to remaining seated. One was wearing a Hooters shirt.

No matter how they got there, they all heard my fellow TOB teachers and me talk about the hope and redemption found in Jesus.

Jason Evert came up with an analogy to show a young woman, who felt used and irrevocably unclean, that she was worth the redemption that Jesus offers.

This girl, as Evert explained, had just divulged her past choices and mistakes. She had let men use her and treat her as if she wasn't worth anything. The girl asked him how she was supposed to expect Jesus to offer forgiveness. He held up a $20 bill.

"Do you want this $20?"

"Uh, yes!"

(I don't own the rights) And yes, I know it's a Benjamin.
"What if I crumble it up like this? See, it's a $20 paper ball. Do you want it?"

"Uh, yes! It's worth $20."

"What if I throw it in the dirt and grind it into the ground with my shoe? Do you want it now?"

"Yes, of course I do! It's still worth $20. You just have to straighten it out and it's good as new."

Exactly. Not only will Jesus take you as you are, all crumbled and ground in dirt, but He will straighten and iron you out until you're better than your first day.

It's a pretty simple message: we've all made mistakes. We've burned little scars and cut little holes in our hearts with each sin, especially those of a sexual nature.

As we reviewed in past classes, our bodies and our souls help make up our humanity. A sexual sin involves an intimate part of what God planned for a marital union.

It's tough to heal from the hurt, from the guilt, and from the idea that we should treat our bodies like there's something for which we are waiting.

"Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit..." -Venerable John Paul II
One is waiting for something, even if he or she has already had sex. Even if an unwed someone has had sex and continues to engage in it, there lies the potential future with their spouse and the meaningful, beautiful sexual bond they can share as a married couple.

Those who are virgins or who have made mistakes and are "recycled virgins" are also waiting for the spousal meaning of the body to come to fruition in its grandest scheme. They are preparing for it by practicing chastity while they heal.

I know I'd prefer to be prepared and as healed as possible when the waiting is over.

Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 11

From Behind the Collar with the Richmond Diocese
Big prayer for vocations! Love and prayers go out to those who hear the call to the priesthood, to the religious life, or to lay married life. Praise God for the full hearts to hear His call!

It's a great week for vocations (... it's actually National Vocations Awareness Week): A friend recently told us about their call. Joel and Lisa over at The Practicing Catholic shared with us their journey of discernment before applying to be a Deaconate couple.

Did you see Inception? How many times? Do you have a theory about the "ending?"

I don't own the rights of this SCREENSHOT
In a previous 7 Quick Takes, I praised my TOMS. I still adore them and my feet agree with me, so I'm contemplating buying this really cute pair that has a Baobab tree embroidered on them.

The best part about TOMS (as long as they're honest about where the money goes) is that materialism helps people directly and immediately. Buy more shoes!

Theology of the Body for Teens is a fantastic resource that I enjoy using when teaching the teens at my church. Just yesterday I discovered that Jason and Crystalina Everet, two of the text's writers, are publishing a book for women titled, How to Find Your Soulmate: Without Losing Your Soul.

It is coming out this Spring! I'm on the list and I'm getting it immediately and sharing it with my sisters, blood sisters and Earth sisters.... I'm not a hippie.

I don't own the rights. The guy who does died a long time ago...
New Mexico residents may soon see outgoing Governor Bill Richardson pardon Billy the Kid. Yes, that Billy the Kid. Update: No they won't, he decided against it. THAT's how the west was won.

This week in our Young Adult Club, we discussed something that is a big difference in beliefs between Catholics and Protestants. Many Protestant friends have said the following sentence, "We know that person is not going to heaven," or "They are going to hell."

This puts boundaries on God's mercy and the Catholic teaching does not. Yes, Jesus tells us that the way to the Father is through Him, Jesus Christ. This means that the only way people get to God's Kingdom of Heaven is through the mercy and forgiveness of Christ.

This does not necessarily mean that only people who believe in, worship, and seek forgiveness from Jesus while on Earth will go to heaven. If that was the case, it would contradict the verses that say those who never heard about Jesus are not responsible for not knowing Him (unfortunately, I walked out of the meeting without writing down the specific verses).

Therefore, a Muslim could go to heaven. An atheist could go to heaven. A bushman in New Guinea who had never heard of Jesus could go to heaven.

If that idea pisses you off: A) ask yourself why that would piss you off, B) take it up with the Big Guy because HE'S the one making that decision. It's not for you to make. Sheesh.

UPDATE: The host of our meeting wrote me this morning with the verses for which I was searching! 
*John 15:22 and John 9:41 show how we are personally responsible without understanding
*Acts 10:4-6 and Acts 10:34-35 talk about Cornelious who knew God as a non-Christian
*"Catholicism teaches 'Invincible Ignorance,' meaning that we are invincible from that which we are ignorant. All know God (our soul and creation shouts of Him) and all must honestly seek truth. With truth comes freedom and resposibility to living it. I think the Catechism serves as a good reference as does this response from Catholic answers."

Once again, I listened to Patrick Madrid's radio show this week and a woman called in, asking about the connection between getting abortions and later suffering from breast cancer. There has also been a lot of research about the intersection of use of contraceptives, abortions, and cancer.

Patrick mentioned and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, two great resources you should check out to arm yourself for these discussions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mass-ive disruption

Yes, those kids have been running around throughout the entire opening prayer. I think one of them is wearing tap shoes. Yup, that's them again, doing a jig, as it seems, in... no, on the back row.

This has happened during Mass in a pew just far enough away from you to pique your interest. You've felt the event going on behind you bore a hole in the back of your head. It wanted you to look at it.

Chances are those moms and dads who hear kids playing in the background sympathize with the parents of the noise-makers, but sometimes they just can't help shedding a little attention on the free show. Most parents, at one point, have tried to keep their kids from bunny hopping in circles around the stroller during a funeral (I truly hope this has never occurred), so they know the seesaw of stress:
  • Stop it! People are staring!
  • Let them stare, they have no idea!
  • Oh my gosh, I can't believe my kids are doing this to me.
  • They're kids, this is what they do.
  • I need a nap.
At the beginning of a recent Mass, a family of 233 kids started frolicking in the back. I think they were setting up a carnival, or at least a Skeeball machine.
Another from the visual diary

We, the crowd, divided between those-who-shall-ignore-and-never-look (my peeps) and those-who-will-look-if-they-damn-well-please, while the poor mother was doing her best to wrangle her children back onto the bench. There were probably only 3 kids, but that's a guess. Remember, my anxiety prevented me from turning around.

I started getting irrationally upset at the people who turned around to shoot the death stare with their irrationally upset eyes. Then I realized: this is pointless and I've completely missed the beginning of the hour of devotion.

To those who turn around and investigate "the problem:" Think about what you're doing. You're annoyed by the kids or by the kids' parents because YOU can't concentrate.

Kids make noise. If you haven't picked up on this, I doubt you can even hear the disruption to begin with, so why are we having this discussion? (Elizabeth, stop talking to yourself)

Secondly, when was the last time of complete quiet in you life? When will there ever be a time of quiet? When, other than in childhood, have you been able to live life without interruption?

There will always be someone within the speaking hall with Tourette's, someone at church who will mess up the Eucharist line because they don't know any better, someone who wants to drive a wedge between you and your faith, someone who is shaking his paper cup filled with coins at you as if to say, "Hello? Can't you hear me?," someone on the phone in the highway lane next to you, and some kid distracting you from your prayer life.

To those who get mad at those who look: you're no better and you're still letting judgment cloud your present mind.

Tie your happiness and your patience to Jesus Christ. Center yourself in the midst of the distractions. It's not God's job or any person's job to clear your mind for you. That's your job. Look at yourself.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


What, pray tell, is more affirming than finding spiritually enlightening 
lyrics in a secular song?  

Jason Mraz's song "Lucky (ft. Colbie Caillat)" has been stuck in my head for several months and I finally started listening to the lyrics: 

Man: Do you hear me? I'm talking to you. Across the water across the deep, blue ocean, under the open sky. Oh my, baby I'm trying...
Woman: Boy I hear you in my dreams. I feel your whisper across the sea. I keep you with me in my heart. You make it easier when life gets hard.
Both: I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend. Lucky to have been where I have been. Lucky to be coming home again...

The first several times I heard "Lucky," it sounded like every other cute love song about falling for a best friend. Sorry I doubted you, Mraz: after I put the words into context, I see it's a song written to someone Mraz doesn't know but for whom he's waiting!

It's about the conviction and height of Love that we foresee for our future spouses! The affirming discovery ties in perfectly with a letter-writing habit I've had for the last few years and which I shared with my first Theology of the Body for Teens class in September.

My mom suggested that I write a letter to my future spouse at the tender age of 18, which made a great impact on how I live the social portions of my life. The first letter probably began, "Hi, this feels dumb, but I wanted to write you a letter from my first dorm room..."

It helped me start developing a list of non-negotiable qualities, of future arguments and laughing fests, of the future love of the taste of blood, and conviction for our mutual relationship in Christ.

"They don't know how long it takes, waiting for a love like this... I'll wait for you, I promise you. I will. I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend..."

Write a letter to him or her while you're waiting for him or her. You know how hard it is to wait, but if you shoot for that kind of height, that kind of feeling and commitment, you won't disappoint yourself.

Even if you write a letter to a future spouse and your call is to be a priest or a religious, the objective is the same. If you're aimed at and running towards God, you'll have the same path and conviction about your call.

If you've read this whole post, but you still haven't heard the song: watch the official video!

Friday, January 7, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 10

I'm doing this one in story format for the first few:
God has already used Emil Daddy's life and death to save someone else. My Gramma (other side of the family and the only other grandparent I've ever had) has been in a nursing home and rehab center for the last few weeks because her lumbar collapsed.

Yes, that's right, my dad stepped on a crack and broke his mother's back.

(photo from
The doctors went in there, squirted some cement between her vertebra, and she started healing nicely... until she caught the Norovirus that has taken over the nursing homes in Richmond. After two days of constant sickness, she seemed to be getting better when the vomiting stopped.

Keeping in mind how much we missed visiting my grandfather and how we wished we had gone to visit him more often, my sister and I decided to brave the Noro and visit her.

The woman we saw in that bed was half dead from severe dehydration and if we weren't there to notice it, she would have died. Her nurse was not pulling any muscles to help her, even when we arranged to get her to the hospital. Molasses RN.

Gramma, when she was feeling better.
If anyone reading this has a loved one, in the hospital or not, that you haven't seen in a while: A) go visit him or her. Do it. Today. B) be an advocate and don't worry about bothering the people who are paid to help them.

If we hadn't questioned their assessment, as illustrated by her sitting in a chair and not looking at my Gramma... I would have lost my other grandparent a week after I lost Emil Daddy.

Regarding the picture here... she is a hoot. She doesn't drink, but she does make us laugh.


Baby A was the loud one, but after they cleaned her, she was an angel.
I have new twin cousins! Take a look! To the beautiful baby girls: we have been waiting for you for a long time! You have a wonderful grandmother who will keep her eye on you throughout your life. Welcome to the world!

There is no patron saint of twins, apparently, but St. Scholastica and St. Benedict were twins and very important members of the Church. So: St. Scholastica and St. Benedict, pray for us!
Baby B is the quiet, calm far.

My sisters have discovered a show they love: Dream Home. I don't always have the patience for home improvement shows, but they adore them.
(I do not own the rights)

The show was a season-long look at building a house in the mountains in Vermont (does that not sound riveting?). The show creators are giving away this house to a contest winner. It really is a beautiful home and it sparked a question: could you see yourself living there?

My answer is HECK YES, but not right now. If I'm going to live miles and miles from people, I would live in the mountains and nowhere else.

Yep, we applied for the contest. Did you have to ask?

Today brought one of those "Wow, God - You are sneaky and awesome." I love those because they hit me hard without notice.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tweet with me

Social media isn't scary, it's helpful. In the last several months I have crossed tweet-paths with hundreds of Catholic bloggers, Catholic tweeters, and pro-life activists. The deal is: you follow me, I'll follow you. With my new crop of Catholic followers I traipse on my merry Twitter way and expect we're making an impact.

I'm sure we're making some kind of impact, but I think it's time we make a deal, Catholic blogosphere. Billy Atwell wrote a great piece about the Christian effort in the social media world and I agree with him vehemently. Go read it and if you don't come back, that's okay.
Tweet me!

There are a LOT of Catholic blogs and we all seem to turn inward. These blogs are really great in many cases and I enjoy stumbling across new one after new one.

We get into a pattern of driving traffic, so we visit others' blogs, comment and then move on. We RT (retweet, for non-tweeters -- actually, "retweet" probably means nothing to you either... just know it's a compliment) and @ reply (again, compliment). There are a handful of blogs we read regularly, but the main objective seems to be attracting more people to our own site.

Billy points out that we need to create relationships in this social media realm. Scott Brown won in Massachusetts. Let me repeat: a REPUBLICAN (albeit pro-choice, etc) took a seat formerly held by a Kennedy. Whoa.

And yes, I believe we can give a lot of credit to social media and tweeters spreading the word about Coakey's slip of the tongue that Catholics just shouldn't work in health care. Ahh that fits so nicely in 140 characters: the absurdity of saying that to a state full of Irishmen came across in a short, sweet tweet.

I don't like that Brown is pro-choice and the party affiliation has nothing to do with my point: we should foster the same kind of movement among Catholic blogs. Pick ten or fifteen Twitter buddies at a time, click on their links, read the blog in its entirety, post it to Facebook, ask everyday Catholic questions in your blog like they do on The Practicing Catholic and other blogs, and don't be concerned with coming across as "too" Catholic on your social media forums.

We're in this for a reason and it's a pretty darn good one. Let's grab the torch and RUN!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Marriage *From the perspective of a unmarried, 23-year-old

Full disclosure: I'm not married and I'm 2 years out of college.

To the cynics out there: marriage can work.

I am blessed to witness a healthy marriage in my own home and in my childhood memories. But somehow, the bounty of healthy marriages don't convince cynics or Hollywood scriptwriters. They say marriage is just for "some people" or that marriage is unnatural (though it is really the most natural relationship).

No, we will not recognize literally every moment of marriage as filled with an overwhelming feeling of God's presence, but can choose to see many of them. We make the choice to commit to marriage. This kind of deep commitment really requires a relationship with God and a desire to get one another to heaven. But that's another story.
Regent's Park, London, UK. (My own photo)

In this point in my life, there are hours in which I pray, but I'm distracted and I don't feel washed with passion for what the Lord has done for me. Then, there are days where I cry for no reason every hour because I see beauty everywhere.

Even twenty years removed, I can rewind my mind to re-experience what Christmas felt like as a child. When I learned Baby Jesus arrived on Earth for us, I invited an unquenchable thirst for realizing the awesomeness of God.

He sent His Son for us in the form of a perfect little baby and we get to celebrate it every year (and everyday, hopefully). That thought explodes in my mind... so much so that I cannot think of a less juvenile way to explain it.

As I mentioned, I'm writing a novel about my grandparents' love story. When I listened to my Emil Daddy explain the journey to and through marriage, though it was a short five year union, I noted the biblical Love they shared.

The grandmother I never met and who died when my mom was a toddler was sick her entire life, confined to her bed when she wasn't in school or out with a colostomy bag. Her doctors told my Emil Daddy six months in advance that she was going to die and he kept that burden to himself. He filled the remainder of her life with the Love he'd promised for their lives together as they were united at the altar.

After she died, Emil Daddy remained faithful to that Love as he raised my mom and aunt. They now share that Love in their marriages and I look forward to sharing it in my own.

The magic of Christmas is different now than it was when I was five, just like Love in the first year of marriage is different than Love and marriage 20 years down the road. The growth is essential and we shouldn't morn when the butterflies die.

It is bound to be different as the years pass, but the core Love that you build together remains. The commitment remains, as long as we seek God from the beginning.

My words won't convince someone who doesn't agree that we can seek God, but I hope these people can witness and look for what this real Love looks like in a healthy marriage.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Foggy goggles

"Become what you are." 

This quote from the Venerable John Paul II packs a punch. It's as simple as it sounds, but then: WAP-O, right in the self-expectation gut.

The new year brings new resolutions: weight loss, a more organized house, patience, loving more, visiting grandparents (highly recommended), or calling parents more often. These great goals contribute to bettering ourselves and to becoming who we are.

I want to dig into "becoming who I am," but I'm letting something get in my way.
A little over-rotation at the age of 7.

Since I was 13, I have defined myself as a swimmer. I still do, though I look nothing like one anymore (queue the female body image pity violin).

Each day I smelled like chlorine and loved it. I used every muscle in my body for an average of 3 to 5 hours per day. My swimming peers and I competed with each other, got into a rhythm together, shared hotel rooms, motivated each other, and empathized with the balance that only athletes in individual sports can understand.

The first time I drove by myself with my valid license was to a 4:50 AM swim practice.

You're a swimmer if you walk around the pool deck half naked as if you're fully clothed. You're a swimmer if you feel more comfortable blowing bubbles face down into water for hours on end than breathing normally in the stands at a football game.

You're a swimmer if you can hold your breath for a minute and a half without panicking. You're also a swimmer if your number one fear is that of drowning because you know just how painful not breathing can be.
I'm in the middle. I miss that feeling.
You're a swimmer if you train 25+ hours per week for 3 months just to spent a few minutes, or seconds, in your own lane to the muffled sound of cheering friends.

The reason I stopped swimming is both uninteresting and irrelevant, but the affect that the void has had is striking. I find I identify myself as a swimmer, though I am too scared to go to Masters practice regularly (Masters swimming is a structured league for adults).

I allowed "swimmer" to define me for too long. I cannot let go of the title entirely because most of my competitive nature and drive are derived from my time in the water and I would still rather smell like chlorine than anything else, but it's time to embrace my real identity in 2011.

I am a daughter in Christ and of our Lord. That's all I need to process.

This year I will be brave and go to more Masters practices. I'll use them as time for meditative prayer. How many decades can I go through in a 600m warm-up?

In my short time on Earth, I've come to too many conclusions about how to live that don't include reflection as a member of God's Church. It's time to strap on my goggles and re-focus.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...