Monday, December 10, 2018

Has Advent made you uncomfortable yet?

We're at a festive "Ugly Sweater" party, drinking eggnog and eating gingerbread cookies. Suddenly, a guy from the wilderness, who wears camel's hair and eats locusts, walks in. And then he calls some people a "brood of vipers"! And then he starts talking about repentance! This guy sure knows how to kill the mood, doesn't he? 

Yesterday, the Gospel at Mass was about John the Baptist. Yes, right in our cozy time of Advent, as we look to a heartwarming holiday season, we hear it proclaimed that John "went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Lk 3:3). It makes sense; John the Baptist prepared people for Christ, so we should look to him at this time. But John the Baptist does not fit the sparkly and happy month of December. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

On the Bookshelf/An Open Book: Moving into Winter

Happy December, everybody! Last month flew by in a whirlwind of visiting with family, but I managed to squeeze a few books into the mix of everything. None of these are particularly "seasonal" for the fall or winter, but they were still delightful to read. My monthly reading mainly covered a mix of memoirs, though I also picked up a lovely novel :) However, come to think of it, maybe memoirs are rather "seasonal" for a time of year when we remember the dead (November) and gather with family to participate in traditions (December). Hmm...anyways, let's just chat about literature! 

Make sure you head on over to Carolyn Astfalk's link-up for more book recommendations! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

As the Year Winds Down

We're here, friends. The final days of the liturgical year are upon us, and I have very mixed feelings about all this. The past liturgical year was full of joys, blessings, struggles, growth, and fun, and I'm a bit sad to see it all slip further into the past. At the same time, though, I'm really excited for Advent. I'm pulling together simple preparations for our Advent Tea (you can read about last year's tea here), and I'm in the process of tidying the house so that I can pull out our boxes of Advent and Christmas supplies. But we'll talk about Advent later. For now, I think it'd be fun to let y'all know what I've been up to this past month. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

To the woman who thought my life must be boring

We stood on the sidewalk underneath the leafy trees. You gestured towards my apartment, and glanced at my tiny baby. "It must be so boring, being up there all day," you said. I don't fault you for thinking this way; in a culture that is fast-paced and career-focused, in a society that's forgotten the dignity of work and the value of leisure, how could you understand the adventures that fill my days as a stay-at-home mom?

I can't remember how I responded to you that day. I think I said something dismissive like, "Oh, life with a baby is always exciting." But this answer is trite and insufficient. What I really wanted to say goes much deeper, much further. I've been thinking about this conversation for the past two years, trying to come up with a way to help you and others understand-because you are not alone in your conclusion about my life. I've been told that my life consists of eating pizza and watching shows, and it's been assumed that I have copious amounts of time to read.

I don't know how people come up with these ideas. Do they just see a few pictures or status updates on social media and form a solid image of what they believe my life looks like? Or, perhaps people assume that if a woman is at home all day, every day (with the exception of small outings), she will run out of things to do and become lazy and bored? Maybe people have never experienced life in a household where a parent stays at home, so they just can't comprehend what it looks like? Maybe a combination of all of these is what causes people to draw certain conclusions about how I spend my days. 

It's time to set the record straight. So, to the woman who thought my life must be boring-here are a couple things I want you to know: 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I Am Michael Scott

My back straightened and I jerked my eyes back towards the pulpit.

"Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation." (Mk 12:38-40)

I had been struggling to focus during this Mass, for it was a Saturday evening, and my mind was a bundle of chaos as I thought about all of the projects I needed to finish up at home. Yet, hearing these words of Christ as recorded in the Gospel, my mind quieted, centering on one painful thought: 

I am a scribe.

I fidgeted, uncomfortable with this realization. I may not actually be a scribe, but how many times have I paraded around, looking to boost my own ego? How many times have I acted in a self-serving way like the scribes whom Jesus condemns? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Not just a cup of coffee

I've drunk mediocre mass-produced coffee from gas stations, I've drunk high-quality, handcrafted coffee from locally owned coffee shops. I've drunk coffee in the midst of chaos as my children fill the house with noise, and I've sipped coffee in the serene stillness that reigns during naptime. I've drunk coffee on buses, in college classes, and at church functions. I've drunk coffee by myself, and I've drunk coffee with young adults, middle-aged adults, and my 80-year-old neighbors. I've drunk coffee with near-strangers who, over mugs of steaming java across the weeks and months, become dear friends. I've drunk coffee with barely a thought, and I've noted the intricacies of this drink during a coffee cupping. I've even used coffee to entertain children. 
I was sitting at the kitchen table of my neighbors, when one of them said,

I remember when we would save the coffee grounds during World War II. 

The others nodded in assent, their collective memories wafting together with the steam from our mugs.

...we would reuse the grounds to make more coffee. 

...since coffee was rationed.

My heart filled with gratitude for these friends of mine, who graciously share their life experiences, and my eyes widened as I picked up my mug of coffee. I have not looked at coffee in the same way again. This simple drink that that I sip sends me whirling into the past.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

On the Bookshelf: Reading my way through Falltime

Even though it doesn't seem like I've been reading much lately, as I look over the past month, it turns out that I've consumed quite a few books! Some of these are non-fiction, there's some lighthearted fiction, and there's some "seasonal" stuff in here too. The topics were pretty much all over the place-everything from parenting to satire to dystopian novels. So let's talk literature!

This month, I'm also linking up with Carolyn Astfalk's Open Book, so head on over there for more book reviews and recommendations :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Farewell, October

October began with the feast of St. Therese and wine (a new liquor law-which allows for the sale of wine in grocery stores-took effect in Oklahoma on her feast) and is ending with a toddler clad in a Spider-Man suit. The month was filled with joys and struggles and lots and lots of coffee. We spent time with friends, I was a guest on a Catholic radio show, and we visited a train museum. 

This is the only tree on our street that is red/orange. Everything else is green. 
Oklahoma, what is this so-called "falltime"?

Monday, October 22, 2018

When Inspiration Becomes Uncomfortable

Have you ever been to a conference that really grabs you? The event moves your heart, to the point where you keep nodding your head yes, yes, yes, as you hear the talks and panel discussions? 

Over the weekend, I was grateful to attend this very type of event. At the Servi Institute's inaugural conference, The Urban Village: From Cloud-Castles to Blueprints, I listened to some amazing people speak about their service to the poor, their passion for classical education and the liberal arts, and the ways in which they strive for holiness as they work in the professional world. The conversations were robust, and after the first evening session of the conference, I did not get home until almost eleven because the profound discussions kept rollicking along. I was so excited about it all that I lay in bed awake, enthused about the future of our city and our country.

Yet, as I drove home from the conference at its close the next day, I grew uncomfortable. I began to realize that I couldn't just stick the thoughts and discussions of the weekend into a file of happy memories and leave them there. Instead, I became aware that I needed to do something. Yet, even though I've long been a "doer," thinking about how I need to help enact change in the community, city, and world is an uncomfortable thought. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to Encourage Your Kids to be Catholic Geeks

It was an early Fall morning when I curled up on the couch with my toddler as the newborn slept close by. Time for Morning Prayer! I announced, pulling out my breviary. In the past, when I've announced the beginning of Morning Prayer, my toddler has eagerly fetched a Bible and sat next to me on the couch, paging through Scripture. This morning, however, was different. As I prayed the Psalms and Canticle, he paged through a video game book next to me. 

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel..."


Yes, as I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours, my toddler was pointing out pictures of various Pok√©mon on the pages of his book. This is a child who can spout off a list of video game characters and a litany of saints. This is a child who will chant sections from the Eucharistic Prayer or the Gloria as he walks around the house, but then he'll sit with my husband and chant "Go Peach!" as he watches a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. This is a child who swings a Wii remote around like it's a thurible, recites part of the Confiteor as he pulls out a video game book to read, and sits on the floor surrounded by prayer books and comic books. This child is a Catholic Geek. 

Perhaps you have a young Catholic Geek in your home. He or she may not always pursue geeky interests, but for now, your child may bounce between a few different fandoms with enthusiasm. As parents, it is our responsibility and honor to care for our children. Part of this duty involves helping their devotion to God and budding geekiness flourish.  But how on Middle-Earth are we supposed to do this? 

Monday, October 15, 2018

This Postpartum Life

Just over seven weeks ago, I gave birth to my second child. In less than a week, we'll hit the "two month" mark, so I've been looking back over his short life, thinking about postpartum. This period is full of joys and struggles-not only is there the massive adjustment to life with a newborn and a completely different family dynamic, but there's also the physical recovery and emotional craziness to deal with. I do think that this postpartum has been easier than when I had my firstborn, since I had an idea of what to expect based on past experience. Yet, this time has still held challenges, a prominent one being balance.

This was 4 or 5 days after birth, on the morning when my little guy decided
not to "go down for the night" until 6 a.m. after we prayed the Angelus. 

I've been feeling a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.