Sunday, February 18, 2018

On the Bookshelf: Beating the Winter Blues

Hi, friends! I don't know about y'all, but I am so done with winter. I guess it's because the recent winters we've had in Oklahoma were very mild/warm/awesome-the days of bleak cold are kind of dragging along. When the weather's cold (sadly with no magical snow), books are one of the ways I stay sane and entertain myself. So let's take a look at what I've been reading lately! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

What we're doing instead of watching the Olympics

Apparently, much of the world is watching the Olympics right now. The Olympics are great, but we don't have TV, and while I'm sure I could find them online somewhere, I just haven't gotten around to it (I've got very little motivation this pregnancy!). When I came home from a meeting the other night, my husband was watching Olympics...of a sort.

I still can't figure out if the Marblelympics are really dumb or pretty cool; maybe both? My husband is fairly obsessed with them, so we've been watching them quite a bit, and lots of other little things have been filling our days. 

The other night, when I needed a break from watching marbles race down a track, I made some grain-free chocolate chip cookies. I have really been enjoying them. I figure that since they're made of almond flour (protein!!!) and coconut oil, they're not that unhealthy, and make a relatively good pregnancy snack.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Epic Domestic Church Retreat (and why I needed it)

On Thursday last week, I hugged my toddler and left him with my parents while my husband and I set off for a retreat. Since giving birth, I had never spent a single night away from my child, and now I was going to spend three nights away from him. Why? 

There was this retreat being held, called the Domestic Church Evangelization Retreat; a weekend for married couples to recharge or begin their spiritual life together and grow closer to God. This would be a time for silence, growth, and learning. While I was excited for all of these prayerful aspects, I also was pretty deliriously excited about the opportunity to spend a long weekend relaxing with my husband and not changing dirty diapers or cooking or cleaning. Altogether, I was pretty excited about this weekend away-and the retreat did not disappoint.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When something at Mass is confusing, here's what you can do

There have been a couple times when I've spoken with people who have gotten confused and ticked-off by something at Mass. Maybe there's incense, and they're not used to that. Or, the priest starts celebrating Mass ad orientem with no explanation. Perhaps there's more Latin used during the Liturgy than people are used to. Or the priest gives a homily that's not in very good taste. In one instance, someone told me that confusion at external practices caused him to discontinue practicing the Faith-and I wouldn't be surprised if this has been the case with more than one person. 

When we encounter things that are unfamiliar to us, it can be really uncomfortable. If you've grown up going to guitar Masses, hearing Latin will probably be jarring. If you're used to seeing the priest face the people, it could be insanely annoying if he starts turning around. And if a priest gives a well-intentioned by poorly-executed homily, that could be really hurtful to some people. 

However, instead of taking our bad or uncomfortable experiences and letting them drag us away from God and the Sacraments, I propose we do something else. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Five Words that I'm Praying On Repeat

"Jesus, I trust in You." 

A plea, an act of hope and faith, entrusting all that we have to Our Lord. While this pious ejaculation is succinct, it can be so very difficult to put into practice. Sure, we can say we trust Jesus, but do we live that reality? And what does living a life of trust look like when the concerns and worries of life creep into our lives and start shaking our peace? 

When the first slight, rolling ripples of nausea came, I thought I had just eaten too much Christmas candy. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

On the Bookshelf: Winter Reads

Y'all, it's cold outside. I was spoiled last year with a very mild winter (flip flops outside in January!), so this year having days on end of single digits or 20-degree days is a bit sad for me. I'd be okay if there was snow, but if there's no snow, there's no need for cold weather in my opinion. So I've been curling up with blankets in bed and on the couch a lot, and I've been moving through fiction and non-fiction books. Let's take a look at what I've been reading lately!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

And this is why I love blogging.

It was early on in December, and I needed to drive home from the coffee shop on a weekday morning to relieve my husband of "toddler duty" so he could go onto work. But first, I pulled into the parking lot of a dollar store. Advent had just begun, and we needed a pink candle for our wreath. After quickly locating a small candle, I walked over to the checkout counter. A short, dark-haired woman on the older side of middle age smiled at me, scanned my candle, and asked me a rather random question: Where did you get that skirt? 

I brushed the well-worn fabric of my beloved hippie skirt, answering, Oh, I got it in Savannah, Georgia, a while back. Why do you ask? 

The woman responded that the fabric reminded her of fabrics back home, in Malaysia. My ears perked up, and we chatted for a few minutes about how long she had been the U.S., that kind of thing. Then, I asked her if she had family there. Yes, the woman responded. She still had one family member over there. 

Has he been affected by the flooding in Penang? I inquired. 

The emotion on this woman's face was hard distinguish. Shock? Surprise? Gratitude? Maybe a mixture of all of these. It flooded across her face as she asked how do you know about this? before responding that her relative was in a different part of Malaysia and was unaffected.

In this moment, I realized just how incredible the blogging community is. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Year in Review: 2017

Merry Christmas! I usually don't blog about the happenings in my life as much as I intend to, so inspired by Michelle's delightful post, I thought it would be fun to jump on here and give a recap of this past year's adventures.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Celebrating the Christmas Season

I love Christmas! It's such a fun, joyful, cozy time of the year. After the quiet and stillness of Advent, it's amazing to break out into exuberant Christmas celebrations. We celebrate the birth of Our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings being born in humble circumstances. This is huge! Hence, Christmas is not simply one day on the liturgical calendar, but it consists of a whole season. There are several days in which we can celebrate and contemplate the great, beautiful reality of the Word becoming flesh. As Bishop Barron states, "certain mysteries are so profound they need a lot of time to process." 

Christmas is an amazing season full of traditions, prayers, and feasts. I figured that it would be fun to make a list of ways to celebrate Christmastime, keeping in mind the feasts and flow of this liturgical season. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

An Advent Tea

Y'all have probably figured out that I love observing the liturgical year. Pondering the life of Christ and centering my life around the rhythms of the various seasons is a wonderful way to grow closer to God and grow in community with others. Over the past four or five years, I've been trying to be intentional about how I observe Advent in particular. 

Something that makes it difficult to avoid celebrating Christmas before it's actually the Christmas season is the desire that people have to get together. People want to join in fellowship, drink egg nog or hot chocolate, and spend time together. I love being with other people and chatting with friends, and I also love enjoying treats-but I also like saving my Christmas-specific celebrations for the actual season of Christmas. 

This is why I was extremely excited to come across articles about having a "Jesse Tea" during Advent, in which the treats served correspond to the Old and New Testament symbols that are displayed on a Jesse Tree (you can read these articles here and here). I decided that this year, we needed to have a "Jesse Tea," though not as elaborate as the ones I had read about. 

We picked the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, for our tea-I figured that a day focused on rejoicing would be a good day for a get-together! 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What I'm Listening to This Advent

If you haven't guessed already, I love observing Advent. This year has been a really good, really peaceful, and just...Adventy kind of Advent. Somehow, I've managed to stick with my Advent plan better than I thought I would (no chocolate during the weekdays and my daily Advent devotional, while I haven't visited a nursing home yet, I'll do so this week), and while I'm excited for the upcoming season of Christmas, I'm also just loving this season of silence and waiting.

As part of my Advent observance, I try to hold off on Christmas music until Christmas actually arrives. Instead, I like to dive into music that is more suited to Advent. There is some gorgeous Advent music out there (as well as some other secular music that is somewhat appropriate to this season), and if we don't take an opportunity to listen to it, then we are missing out. Music for Advent goes far beyond "O Come O Come Emmanuel," so let's take a look at some of my favorite tunes that I've been rocking out to lately.