Not Feeling It

It’s Holy Week and I guess I should be sharing my grand plans, but I as I said in the last post I’ve been giving myself permission to let go of my high liturgical aspirations. I’ve got a couple little Oriental Trading Company crafts to do with the kids about Holy Week and Easter and I’m going to try to remember to pick up cinnamon rolls to make for Friday morning. I’m going to skip ahead in Henry’s Religious Ed book and read some of the chapters having to do with Holy Week and Easter over the next few nights.

I have stuff ready to go for Easter baskets and it looks like all hopes for an outdoor Easter Egg hunt are on hiatus due to last weeks lingering snow. In true fashion, I miscalculated my weekend off and have to work for the next 5 days straight which honestly means it’s all feeling a bit anti-climactic. I struggle with feeling the weight and significance of this week, to begin with, and then to be so disconnected with it due to life just being life really makes my head spin.

I really haven’t figured out the way to experience this week in my real life yet, and I think that’s the key is that I need to figure out how to feel this in the way my life is. I didn’t grow up with this week being very ritualized and it still feels foreign. I’m thinking that maybe I need to find ways to live this out in action to better help me internalize it all. Maybe next year I need to set aside some time on Thursday or Friday to do some volunteering at our Catholic Worker House (it’s been on my list to get involved). Maybe I need to find something we can do to serve those who feel hopeless and abandoned on Saturday, because just sitting around feeling Solemn is not enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mass and its importance, but I’m a do-er. I need to experience my faith in a very active way and this year it’s become obvious that I need to find ways to make my Holy Week experience more active. I have no idea how to do this- but it gives me something to work on for next year.

I’m going to try to get us to Mass tomorrow night and I’m hoping that helps me reconnect with it all. I can never go to 3 p.m. Good Friday stuff because of work, maybe one year I’ll finally remember to ask for extra time off to better experience it, but maybe I can run in for a little adoration on the way home or after the kids go to bed.

I do love the Easter Vigil, but unless the kids stay with Grandma that night we’re just not in a good place to take the whole family. I think I’ll probably end up with the kids at the 6 p.m. Newman Center Mass on Sunday.

One good thing that I’m reminding myself is that Easter is a season and not just a day – it’s okay if we don’t fill every moment of that Sunday with all the celebrations and traditions and fancy dresses and all those things, I’ve got time to celebrate it all.

5 Things for 5 Years

It dawned on me today that with this Easter Vigil it will mark 5 years since I converted.  It’s been a wild ride, never thought in that time I’d go through so much including our three years of miscarriage and writing for a Catholic women’s ministry as well as contributing to Catholic books.

 

So I wanted to take a few moments and reflect on where I am in this journey and what I’ve learned over the last few years.

One:

I’m still learning and reevaluating the difference between doctrine, dogma, disciplines, etc. and how that applies to our lives and teachings.  I’ve hit a wall with certain teachings and their applications recently and my biggest breakthrough has come from remembering that there is one commandment Jesus gave us above all others and when I strip away everything down to it’s bare bones it needs to reflect that love first.  The closer I get to that primary idea the clearer I see doctrines and disciplines in the light of their essential Truth.

Two:

The Church still has a long way to go in reaching out to the marginalized.  As I mentioned last week it’s very disheartening to still see hurtful assumptions and opinions regarding things like family size, sexuality, race, justice, socio-economic issues, etc. come from so-called “good Catholics”.  There’s still such a long way to go and I need to do better.  I’ve stopped reading and following many people this year because of this, and am finding firmer ground to say “I’m not THAT type of Catholic.”

Three:

I’m never going to fit into certain molds within the Church and that’s okay.  I’m not a theological deep contemplative or driven to uber traditional practices.  Learning more about the Jesuits and their “faith in action” ideas recently has really helped me see my place in the world and my faith.

Four:

I don’t need to be a liturgical maven!  Oh, I love seeing people home oratories and constant and consistent liturgical celebrations… but that’s just not my jam.  I love and respect those traditions, but they have their time and place and while some are called to make little monasteries of their homes and families I’ve been feeling more and more called that our place is a bit more public, a bit more action-driven than a constant cycle of feast days and private practices.  I feel like we’re called to be good examples of Catholics out in the world, interacting with others and let God’s love shine through our interactions outside our home.  This has been a big struggle, because I love those beautiful traditions – but I live a different life and in fact I live in an area that doesn’t have those roots (most of our parishes are committed to either certain ministries of social justices or a general support of families, not traditional holy days and other liturgical celebrations and that’s okay!).  If it comes down to taking the time to develop these little celebrations or being active in ministries and other aspects of our community the tug on my heart is the later.  It’s not putting those activities above God, but rather how I feel God is leading me to show my faith AND to teach my faith to my children.  I really believe that whether you’re called to an active life or a more internal life it is the joy of faith that encourages our children more than anything else and there are many ways to show that.

Five:

The last and most recent thing I’ve learned is that I don’t need to deny or ignore my religious upbringing and that there are things I can take from my Protestant past to help my faith.  I don’t need to disregard that part of my life in order to be a good Catholic.  This has come out in how I look at teaching our faith to my kids.  I’ve come to realize that right now what my kids need is to learn to love God and take joy from that – the theological truths and teachings can come later.  Without that love and joy, all the catechism lessons will be for nothing.  I’ve taken time to remember that I grew strong in my faith this way and this is how I know to raise kids in the faith.  I can relax a little and do things my way which draws from both my new Church and my old life.  It was such a weight from my shoulders to give myself permission to do this over the last few months.

This also relates to how I approach my day to day faith life too – remembering that I can draw on the things I learned growing and finding ways to incorporate them into my life instead of casting them aside.  Things like it is okay if I don’t know ALL the Catholic prayers, but can draw on my Protestant upbringing to pray fervently and joyfully off the top of my head.  That I can still celebrate holidays in the way I did growing up and still be faithful and fine. That I can be inspired by others outside of my faith because I’m strong in my foundations – I do not need to ignore the writings and joy in God found in Protestant or even non-christian books and things.  I can use my own reason and intellect to find inspiration and information from many sources and that it can be good to break out of a Catholic only echo chamber sometimes.

Really, five years in I think I’ve finally given myself permission to discover who I am as a Catholic woman and forge my own path with how I interact, how I teach and raise my kids, how I inform myself and where I draw certain lines.  I’m definitely not perfect and I’m not even sure I’m trying for perfect.  I’m trying for better than I was and closer to God.

 

The Lord is Testing Me…. explained in GIF’s

I honestly couldn’t tell you what today’s date is, but I do know that Holy Week must be fast approaching.  How do I know this?  Easy….

Ugh, people.  Seriously, do they hibernate then come out for spring?

When I was in the process of becoming Catholic I made my husband promise that I could be Catholic, a good Catholic, without being a jerk.  He assured me that we could, but sometimes – after weeks like these – I wonder.

I run in a pretty awesome group of people, even though we don’t agree on every interpretation or practice, but every now and then I venture out of that little burrow and I’m just like….

People who refuse challenge their minds.  People who are in the running for “Best Pharisee of the Year”.  People who just need some hand clapping truth shouted at them “THIS.IS.WHY.PEOPLE.THINK.THEY’RE.NOT.WELCOMED.HERE”

GAH.

And guess what?  This isn’t about me sitting here saying “Oh, I’m such a better Catholic than so and so.”  This IS me saying “Hey I’ve got struggles, you’ve got struggles, she’s got struggles and none of it is worse than the other so let’s all ride this craziness together.”  In fact, so many of the ostracized and criticized often do so much better at acting like Christians than the ones doing the pointing and the pearl clutching.

Fear-mongering.  Homophobic bull****.  All types of Prejudice.  Inconsistent expectations.  I’m over it.

I’m over all that crap.  I’m still dedicated to this idea that I can be a good Catholic and not be like all these bad examples…. but ugh, people why do you have to make it such a struggle.

So I guess I need to say that I’m here to not be a jerk.  I’m being imperfect and you can sit at my imperfect table and I think Jesus would sit at our table too.  I’m here if you don’t feel like you have a place or don’t fit in, because after weeks like these and the arguments I’ve diffused and comments I’ve seen – I’m not always sure if I do too.

A Quick Trip

This last week we took our first Spring Break road trip. My husband’s brother and sister in law live in Austin and we’ve been eager to get down to visit for a few years. Since flying is a little non-cost-effective right now we decided to make it a road trip and we drove! And when I say “we” I mean I drove, because I like driving and am a little controlling about it.

We loaded the kids up and hit the road at 6 a.m. on the first day and headed down to Kansas City. We had a eventfully uneventful stop for breakfast in which we received a “synonym” roll and then nothing else for about an hour and got back on the road after realizing the cook had only just shown up to the little roadside dinner we had stopped at.

We stretched our legs at a little State Park off the highway and then drove down to Kansas City where we stopped at the world famous “Joe’s” for BBQ, it was delicious and well worth the wait! It totally made up for our grouchiness at having missed breakfast. We then pushed on to Oklahoma City to stop for the night.

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right and early the next morning it was back on the road. We pulled off for Turner Falls in Oklahoma, which I wish we had had a bit more time to explore, it was lovely. Then down into Texas! We drove through the Dallas/Forth Worth area twelve years ago and it was heavily under construction and twelve years later I don’t think anything have changed. Then it was a quick stop for a wonderful lunch and a few hours of relaxing with our friends in Waco. More traffic and road construction until we finally got into Austin.

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he next morning we had breakfast tacos from a truck down the street and then on to Zilker Park, the Zilker Zephir and dipping our toes in the water – a treat for Iowan’s still waking up to freezing temperatures up north. Then across town to the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Gardens to see the bluebonnets and other sites. Then further out of town to Family Business Brewery – I guess this place is owned by one of the actors from Supernatural and I was understrict orders from a friend at work to go there. Ben’s a fan of the show so he got a kick out of it. Good brews, a big playground for kids and a Cajun foodtruck. Then we headed back into town to relax a bit. We tried to all go see the Congress Street bats and do a bat boat tour, but Ben and I had issues finding parking in time so it ended up being a special treat for Henry with his Aunt and Uncle. We drove across town and got Tipping Cow Creamery Ice Cream – mine had Dr. Pepper sauce on top.

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he next day we drove up to Inner Space Caverns for a tour and then over to Georgetown for Mueller’s BBQ – best brisket and siracha coleslaw. Then it was back on the road for us and we drove back up to Oklahoma City that night and the next day was just powering through home with no fun stops.

We got home to find out that my dad had quite the adventure helping us do some work on our main bathroom (it’s our Christmas/Birthday presents this year that he’s tearing up the old linoleum and 1970’s orange indoor/outdoor carpet and helping us put down tile and spruce things up a little) including a busted sewer line and I think at some point water was coming down through our garage ceiling. But he’s amazing and got it all fixed and laid down upstairs. We just need to put down new baseboard and finally paint away the horrible yellowy white my entire house is painted and it will be a new space (then on to the basement!) I need to pick out a new lighting and thrift a new mirror as well. I’m a big acts of service love language person, so this is how my dad and I communicate on this level – we get a huge kick of finding deals and doing things on the cheap. All our tile he found at our local ReStore for pennies a tile and the new sink he’s putting in the basement is from a hotel nearby doing a major reno.

There were a lot of things that weren’t updated or that we chose not to update when we bought this house to keep it affordable when we were just starting out, but now the place is starting to show it’s wear and age and it’s nice to slowly start fixing it up. I can’t wait for the day when I can tear out the puce carpeting in the bedrooms even if that’s still probably a few years away.

Inadvertently Irish Day

Trying to keep to my goals of finding time to relax and do things with the kids during this busy weekend I managed to inadvertently make today “Irish Day” at our house. I wanted to make sure we got a chapter in on our Religious Ed book (we’re a few chapters into “Faith & Life” and it’s been a huge game changer for us) and then I realized I had a post from Oriental Trading about St. Patrick. We won’t be home for the feast day so I got it out and went through its basics (St. Patrick is a patron of…, famous for, and the whole Shamrock thing). Of course, you can’t talk about St. Patrick’s Day without developing an urgent need to listen to Irish music so I called up a playlist on Spotify and the baby immediately went crazy dancing around the kitchen. Henry mentioned he had seen “Irish Tap Dancing” in music class at school and that meant I had to call up some Michael Flatley on Prime for the kids to watch. Sadly, it wasn’t the original “Lord of the Dance”, but it made do even though it’s disappointing to see them up the sexuality, etc. in the show in recent ideations. I need to find a DVD of the original at some point. Not going to lie, I loved and still love that stuff.

I was already making cabbage and sausage for dinner when I realized I had a box of “Irish Soda Bread” in the cabinet from Aldi’s and mixed that up for a full, pseudo-Irish experience.  I was kind of excited to actually get to use my “Irish Soda Bread” dish for the occasion. It was fun and completely unplanned, which is honestly how I like things – I get less stressed if I just focus on having things on hand to fit into our lives instead of trying to fit our life into these things and grand plans.

Busy Bees

We’ve been lucky in the last five or six years not to have too many times where life was really busy. We were able to keep commitments and work at reasonable levels and just coast along. We’re not in that season anymore and while we try hard not to overcommit or over schedule life is just in a busier season. My hospital has been at max capacity and I’ve been putting in overtime to help out. Ben is working extra this weekend and the following week to minimize the effect of our vacation this week following our fun weeks of strep and accompanying sickness. We had Boy Scouts and birthdays and a house that gets messy as soon as your feet touch the floor in the morning. I had deadlines last night, and have more next week and the week after for writing. We’re both trying to get to the gym when we can and Ben is working on school work in his spare moments. I just finished the bi-yearly Continuing Ed. requirements for my certification and we have all the other stuff that lands this time of year – taxes, renewals, etc.

Our little hive is just busy and it’s hard to prioritize.

Last night Ben was away – finally getting a sleep apnea test we’ve needed for a while – so I put on My Little Ponies for the kids, made a plate of chicken nuggets and did laundry and hammered out my last devotion for last nights deadline. Then bundled up both kids in our big bed, tucked in and went to sleep flanked by two children who do karate in their sleep, but it was still good. I put the baby to bed while listening to an audio rosary, day two of the 54 day novena I’m attempting for a few important intentions.

Today will be just as busy – I have a treadmill that is going back to the used equipment store because after a couple hours of work we realized we mis-measured and can’t fit it in our house. I have a pile of bed linens waiting their turn for the washing machine and a dozen other things to do this weekend while my husband starts 5 ten hour days in a row while I hold down the fort, go back to work and get everything prepped for our trip next week.

Here’s hoping I remember to just sit down and relax tonight.

Busy little bees.

Birthday Thrifting

As of today I’m 35 and honestly that came out of nowhere. I don’t have many formed thoughts on this point of my life yet, but I did do my annual birthday thrift store run with my mom. It’s becoming my regular birthday present, getting little things to freshen up our little home.

I found the best vintage Fisher Price tea set for the kids for less than $5.

I rescued a little Marian statue which is now hanging out above my kitchen sink and has been dubbed “Our Lady of the Dirty Dishes”.

How adorable is this poem book that I got for 75 cents!?!

And we found two brand new rugs at my favorite consignments store (the red/brown one in the living room and the round one for the kids room).

That’s it for this year’s birthday thrift run!