Saturday, October 12, 2019

Let's Bring Cloaks Back

Whenever I step out of the house while draped in my wool cloak, I can never anticipate the reactions that people will have when they see me.  There was the man who yelled out "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" as I walked down the sidewalk one fall morning. There was the elderly man who stopped me in a parking lot because he wanted to know where I bought it, since I was looking for something like that for my wife. And then there was one delightful woman, a worker at the zoo, who asked me if I'd heard of a nearby Viking Festival (she then proceeded to put down her broom and give me an impromptu tutorial of how to make a cloak by hand and waterproof it with beeswax).

Recently, I was meandering through a retail store and a brightly-colored box caught my eye. I blankly stared at "The Comfy" before confusion flooded my mind. Sure, it looks cozy, I thought, but why-WHY-would someone wear a tacky-looking, hooded "blanket sweatshirt" instead of an elegant cloak?

Granted, there are times when I love to curl up on the couch while wrapped in a baggy sweatshirt. However, most times when the weather is chilly, I don a cloak. And I wonder: Why aren't cloaks commonly worn anymore? They emerge at medieval festivals and costume parties, and occasionally in ladies' fashion, but their sight in daily life is rare indeed. This is a tragedy, for cloaks are simply amazing.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Please, Respect Life

Another October has come around, and I wonder how much we've changed since last year's "Respect Life Month." Have we grown in our respect for life? Are we treating each other with the dignity and reverence that we all deserve? As I look at the climate that surrounds us, I think we need to step up our game and consistently respect life. 

It's not enough to say "I'm strongly opposed to abortion" while you attack the dignity and personhood of others. 

It's not enough to identify as "pro-life" while thinking that really, only some people should live.

It's not enough to proudly participate in "pro-life" events while engaging in activities that demean ourselves and rip apart our relationships. 

Let's step away from internet arguments and turn to prayer. Let's build relationships with the people God has placed in our communities. Let's honor and respect all people, including those we disagree with. Perhaps we've had a rocky start to "Respect Life Month," but we can still pull ourselves together and ask God to work in our lives and the lives of others. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

An Open Book: Comics, Novels & Games

Happy feast of the Guardian Angels! Another months has begun, so that means I'm linking up with Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book! Over the past month, I read a huge variety: from Jane Austen graphic novels to an account of a chess tournament, to a classic Catholic novel. Let's dive in!

Monday, September 23, 2019

In Pursuit of Rest

It was miraculous: both of my children lay asleep in naptime. The entire house was still, and the silence burst forth joyously. Exhausted from several days of seemingly unending work, I stretched out in bed for a rare nap. My eyes closed.

A dam burst open and anxieties flooded in: events and worries that were beyond my control and work that needed to be done. I laid there and prayed, trying to relax my body and rest my mind. All of this was to no avail; I could not sleep. As I drug myself out of  bed and back to work, it occurred to me that I hadn't even achieved any real rest. While I got some good prayer time in, my body wasn't rejuvenated, and neither was my mind.

When we are weary, when we are exhausted, and when we are just so done with today, we need to throw ourselves in the arms of Christ. When we're not tired, drained, and worn-out, we still need to fall into God's embrace. Cultivating a life of prayer and deep intimacy with God is vital (does anyone else have Matt 11:28-30 on repeat in their heart some days?)

I need to care for myself spiritually, but I also need to care for myself physically. That fateful afternoon, as I lay on the bed racked with worry and exhaustion, I realized that I had reached a breaking point. While I got good, regular prayer time in, I was failing to care for my physical needs, particularly my need for rest.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Should I Wear Jeans so that People Know I'm Catholic?

You know, when you first came in here, I thought you were Pentecostal Holiness.

His words jolted me awake even more than the scent of the freshly brewed coffee that stood on the counter nearby. Naturally, I asked him why (Naïve cradle Catholic that I am, I'm unfamiliar with many of the perspectives that Protestants have). He remarked that when I first began frequenting the coffee shop, I had long hair. Together, with the long, flowy skirts that I often wear, I apparently projected the image of someone who is Pentecostal Holiness. Amused, I put this short exchange on social media, and within minutes, several of my friends commented that they, in their skirts and dresses, had also been confused for members of non-Catholic religious groups. Should I wear jeans so that people know I'm Catholic? I jokingly mused.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

How Noticing can be Life-Changing

Four words slide together, forming a question that I utter several times a day. Four words form a backbone of the education I present to my children. Four words that, I hope, we can all ask our children, ask each other, ask ourselves.

One day, I was reading a book to my children; it was a simple, ordinary ritual we participate in often. Like many parents, after I read the words on a page, I asked my son: What do you see? It was some sort of attempt at grasping his comprehension, I guess. I wanted to know if he could identify elements of the pictures that were splashed across the page. Of course, this wasn't always the most peaceful occasion for me as I would grow bewildered and frustrated by how my child couldn't "see" an obvious picture.  

However, I suddenly realized that I had been asking the wrong question. As we sat on that mottled couch, a book spread across our laps, I resolved to ask something else.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

An Open Book: Comics, Novels, & the Creative Life

Another month has rolled around, which means it's time for another literature roundup! I read tons of comic books, some books on creativity, and I dove into a couple of fiction novels as well. Head over to Carolyn Astfalk's blog for more great recommendations :) 

Monday, September 2, 2019

These women are changing my life.

Lately, a group of women have been rocking my life.

They have been inspiring me with their courage, boldness, and love. They all lived many centuries ago, and their legacy has travelled down from the early Church to our modern world. I don't know why these women aren't being featured in t-shirts and talks. I am particularly confused by the silence of fellow Catholic feminists concerning this particular group of women. So, I've decided that enough is enough. I'm discussing these incredible women over at today. It's a short reflection, because really, I initially just want to bring people's attention to them. In the future, I want to come back to this group of ladies and dive deep into what they've been teaching me. For now, though, let's keep it short and simple ;) 

I hope you all have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Power Outage and a Podcast: Summertime Adventures

I was sitting in a restaurant the other day and noticed an advertisement for "Fall" milkshakes. Shocked, I realized that even though it's still toasty outside, summer is winding down as falltime (hopefully) begins. It's amazing to look back on the past several weeks and see what God has brought our way. One exciting moment was the chance to be on a podcast! I was interviewed on a recent episode of Homeschooling Saints ("Building a Network when your Children are Small"), so if you want to hear what my voice sounds like and/or want to soak up the wisdom of Lisa Mladinich (the podcast host), you can give that a listen :) 

[Though to be completely honest with you: After that interview, I was filled with anxiety and doubts. I desperately wanted the recording to somehow be misplaced or deleted, because what if what I said came out all wrong? What if people take my words the wrong way? What if....what if...After some prayer and letting myself calm down, I realized that all of my anxiety was unnecessary. God is in control, and if he wanted this interview to happen, then maybe someone else needs to hear it and experience solidarity.] 

In other news, I chopped off my hair! I was sick and tired of having long hair, and I love not having to deal with it anymore. Especially since we had a big adventure coming our way. First, some relatives came to visit for a day/to take care of the kids while we packed...because then we went to Arkansas for the first time!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Doorbusters

Strings of gray hair limply dangle underneath a Veteran baseball cap. LIFECHURCH is splashed on the t-shirt that stretches across his rotund body, and his kindly face is wistful as he talks about trying to contact a former classmate after several decades...

The scrawny, pubescent boy huddles on the bench, a bright shirt poofing around his body. Large rimmed glasses frame his eyes as they peer at the e-reader in his hands...

The wrinkled face of the aged woman smiles as she stands, her gentle hands resting on a monochrome outfit. "They're so cute," she croons at young children nearby...

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Challenge of Homeschooling in the Early Years

I want to homeschool my kids. I am excited to guide them as we learn and explore this tremendously fascinating world. I am curious to see where there interests will take us, and what interests they will pursue. I am thrilled for my husband and I to grow and discover with them in this journey. 

My oldest child is now three-years-old. Many people proclaim that, Kids just need to play at that age! You don't need to "do school!" Yet, there's many children this age who are heading off to preschool (since some schools offer programs for three-year-olds). Then, there's other kids who aren't going off to preschool, but are planning on attending a brick-and-mortar school when they are old enough for kindergarten. They don't see themselves as being part of a "homeschooling family," and mentions of homeschooling will cause their parents to say, that's really great for some people, but it's not for us. 

I firmly believe that play is vital, particularly in the early years. Yet, my firstborn is fascinated with "schoolkids." He's talked about going to "school" someday. He loves being with other children. I think that right now, he would enjoy doing something "schoolish" with others. However, I've run into a small difficulty.