Monthly Archives: April 2011
Before you groan and click away, how can you groan and click away?
This whole royal wedding thing is so exciting. A real prince, who is someday going to be a king, is about to marry a “commoner.” His college sweetheart, not some arranged marriage to a woman he’s never met! I’d call that progress.
So in honor of progress, and my 8th grade super-crush on Wills
my quick takes this week are dedicated to all things Royal wedding.
The wedding coverage begins at 4am! I will not be getting up at 4 am; I think I’ll plan a 6 am wake up call so I don’t miss any of the good stuff. I’ll be watching the special “Good Morning America” that will be broadcasting from London.
I first learned of Prince William when I was in 8th grade. That was the year Princess Diana died. Of course he was (1) a prince (2) two years older than me and (3) very cute.
On the other hand, my crush has long since passed. That might be because age has not done all for Wills one might have hoped.
Seems he has begun to resemble Dad more than Mum with age. Pity.
Now his bride-to-be…that is another story.
I might have a little crush on her.
She is so stylish. Some of her outfit choices, particularly bathing suits, are not even close to modest, but I do just love some of her more formal wardrobe.
What I really love is that the royals have decided they do not want wedding gifts. Instead, they are asking for donations to be made to a charity they have set up; the Berkshire Community Foundation.
You can read about it here.
Did I mention I lover her fabulous sense of style?
I wish I owned this outfit. Or that I had somewhere to wear a beret. Atticus, please take me somewhere where I can wear a beret. Preferably Paris.
And because it deserves its own quick take
Show us the bling Kate!
I think it’s really nice that Wills wanted to use his mother’s ring for Kate.
The center diamond in my engagement ring was the diamond from my mother’s ring, which was the diamond in my great-grandmother Sarah’s (who I am named after) ring. I love the family heirlooms.
And in case you’ve read this far wondering, “who cares?”
The reason people like this kind of stuff is because:
(1) none of us will ever be royalty, and we all have a secret voueyeristic side, and we want to see how the filthy rich people do things.
(2) It’s a sweet love story, and only those with the hardest of hearts don’t like a love story.
(3) Just about every woman has at some point probably had daydreams of being a princess.
(4). With all of the other horrible, depressing things going on in the world, it’s nice to see something happy. It’s a modern day fairy tale, and I like it. So there.
Are you going to watch any of the coverage? What do you think of Kate? Or could you not care less? I’d love to know!
Have a happy weekend folks, and please say a prayer for me. I am having the first of two root canals on Saturday. Blech.
Today Maggie is 4 months old.
She continues to amaze, challenge, and love me every single day.
For you, my baby girl.
In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero.
I am strong and wise,
And I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see:
She was sent to rescue me,
I see who I want to be, in my daughter’s eyes.
In my daughter’s eyes, everyone is equal,
Darkness turns to light,
And the world is at peace.
This miracle God gave to me,
Gives me strength when I am weak.
I find reason to believe, in my daughter’s eyes.
When she wraps her hand around my finger,
Oh, it puts a smile in my heart.
Everything becomes a little clearer.
I realize what life is all about.
It’s hangin’ on when your heart has had enough;
It’s givin’ more when you feel like givin’ up.
I’ve seen the light: it’s in my daughter’s eyes.
In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future.
A reflection of who I am,
And what will be.
And though she’ll grow and, some day, leave:
Maybe raise a family,
When I’m gone, I hope you’ll see,
How happy she made me,
For I’ll be there, in my daughter’s eyes.
— Martina McBride
Happy Four Months Maggie! Your Mama and Daddy love you!
I forgot to mention: today, in addition to being Maggie’s four month birthday, it is the feast of her patron, St. Gianna.
I apologize these are a bit late, but here are some pictures from Maggie’s first Easter!
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter with your families!
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves.”
— CS Lewis
We were sitting in his parents’ basement. It was a warm Memorial Day weekend and we had been dating for 4 months. He closed his eyes and pulled the bow over the strings. The most beautiful music came from the curved wooden frame of the cello. The look on his face was one of bliss, of being re-united with a lover. The first time Atticus played the cello for me – the prelude to Bach’s cello suite #1 – I closed my eyes and let the beauty of the music wash over me. I offered a prayer to God: please let me always hear him play. Please let me always love this man who loves beauty.
I married him, so it would seem God granted my prayer. Beauty is at the heart of every love story. I remember the first time Atticus called me beautiful. It was during our second date; we had gone to the Art Institute of Chicago and seen some famous paintings and sculptures. It was a sunny spring day with a decided chill in the air. We were walking arm in arm down Michigan Ave. He looked over at me, smiled and said, “You’re beautiful.” In my head, I gasped.
Any woman who has ever heard the man she loves tell her she’s beautiful knows, those words are one of the most powerful drugs in existence. Especially if they are not words you hear all that often. For me, I couldn’t remember the last time anyone, let alone a man I liked, called me beautiful. When he said that, and the look in his eyes confirmed that he meant it, I felt my heart fall into my stomach. I think you know what I mean. It’s like a butterfly landing on your shoulder, seeing the tree on Christmas morning, and the first flowers of spring all rolled into one. To be called beautiful is itself, an experience of beauty.
To call a woman beautiful, to tell her that’s who she is resonates with something deep within her. It doesn’t much matter if the woman is a model or plainer than plain; it’s a truth we all want to know. I am beautiful. I am seen. There’s nothing quite like it.
Dostoevsky once said, “Beauty will save the world.” Of course, he was right. God is Beauty. Everything on this earth which is beautiful is ultimately a reflection of God, who is Beauty, and it is God, the Creator of the world, who has and will save it. On another level, we can say that the earthly things which are beautiful have a role to play in saving the world, as anything which is truly beautiful will draw the mind and heart to think of God’s grandeur.
So everything, from a symphony to a spider, has the potential to elicit a response of beauty. Even more than any of these other works of Creation though, woman has the ability to elicit this response. Men and women both bear the image of God, yet we do so uniquely as a man or as a woman.
As women, we bear the image of a God who is ultimately relational and beautiful. God is, at the core, a relationship of persons – Father, Son, and Spirit – and God is, as the core, Beauty itself.
It’s not news, but we live in a fallen world, which has, among other things, perverted beauty. Particularly the beauty of a woman. Attacking the beauty of woman is one of Satan’s purest delights. Instead of woman’s beauty being a balm to soothe the tired souls of man, it has become a weapon by which we try to assert our power. Instead of being the relational, deep, inviting peace which God intended from the beginning, we are told to hone our “power” and “hotness” like a sword being sharpened for battle.
Social diseases like prostitution and pornography further invade and manipulate our notions of what beauty is. It becomes about a waist or cup size, about making women less human rather than more. It becomes skin-deep, when in reality, it is the exact opposite. It becomes something exclusionary, rather than the essence of who we are.
Every woman is beautiful, because we are created by a God who is Beauty, and we bear His image. For every woman that exists, there are as many ways to be beautiful. Beauty is not just something we are, it is what we are destined to be. After the final resurrection, we will all be transfigured. We will all finally see the beauty that is at our core.
When we embrace our beauty, and place ourselves in the presence of Beauty Himself, we become more beautiful. We bear the image of God more and more into the world. The light of our beauty shines through and over the darkness of this world. We can, each in our own way, overcome the culture of death that surrounds us.
I’m not saying it’s easy; we all have wounds when it comes to beauty. Mine run deep. It’s taken many years, thousands of desperate prayers from a tear-soaked heart, and the power of God’s transforming grace for me to be able to look in the mirror on a good day and call myself beautiful, and on a bad day, to silence the chorus of criticism in my head.
We each have our story to tell. Some are more painful than others, but make no mistake about it: You are beautiful. In a real, tangible way. You are seen, you are known, and if you let it, your beauty can change the world.
Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but Heaven’s will
No scheme of Hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim…
Happy Easter friends!
We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with father or mother
Than even with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.
– Anne Porter
Blessed Triduum, friends!
If you haven’t, go ahead and read Part 1 first!
“Your love is like a shadow on me all the time…” – Bonnie Tyler
Is it wrong to start a blog post with lyrics from “Total Eclipse of the Heart?” Well, if it is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The song is very cheesy, but it’s good. And the above line, it’s just the perfect one for starting part two of my story. God’s love has always been as close as my shadow. It took me so very long to turn around and see it.
When I graduated from college, I had really started to embrace my faith. I was back to attending Mass weekly, and I had even added theology to my studies during my junior year. The last semester of college had been so bittersweet; I was going to really miss The Mount (what we call Mount St. Mary’s MD), and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do post-graduation. I thought about going for another degree, perhaps in Theology. But the truth was, I had grown weary of academia, and was itching to do something “real”.
I’d done three service learning trips during spring and fall breaks at the Mount, so the possibility of doing a year of volunteer service after graduating appealed to me. Two girls who graduated the year before me had gone on to Maggie’s Place and ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education), respectively.
I liked the idea of ACE, so I applied for the program. I also applied for several other programs that were similar, one of which through Loyola University Chicago. LU-CHOICE. As it turned out, I was wait-listed for the ACE program, but accepted into LU-CHOICE and decided to go with the sure thing, rather than wait and hope for a spot in ACE. I was headed to Chicago.
Let’s pause there, while I tell you something about me. I grew up in a small town, a small, small town. We got a McDonald’s when I was in high school, and it was a huge deal. I’m not even kidding. Then I went to a college that was the same size as my high school, and which was located in a town whose population declined by half when the 1,200 or so students from The Mount went home for the summer. I went from that to Chicago. Not just Chicago, the south-side of Chicago. You might be able to see where this is going, and add a “rut-roh” for effect. I, on the other hand, was about as ready for what was about to happen as those gents on board just prior to The Perfect Storm.
I graduated in May, moved to Chicago one month later. I’d live on the Loyola campus for the summer, have 8 weeks of training on how to be a teacher, and then be put in charge of my very own 6th grade classroom in a under-resourced Catholic school on the south-side. I spent the summer trying desperately to learn how to be a teacher, and not even beginning to realize what I was in for.
You might be wondering what this has to do with my faith story: bear with me please, you’ll find out why it’s important.
Spiritually, Loyola was a different world from The Mount. What was I supposed to think when I went to daily Mass my first week there and a woman read the Gospel and gave the homily? I was so confused, I actually thought about leaving, but I didn’t want to be rude. The Mount was the first Catholic school I had ever attended (I was public K-12), so I just figured all Catholic schools were basically the same. Not so my friends, not so.
Since I had added theology as part of my studies, I had learned a lot about my faith and the Church. I knew a lot about God’s love and grace, and all about the importance of the sacraments and prayer.
In French, there are two different verbs for “to know” – one means to know in the factual sense, “I *know* that the sky is blue.”, the other means to know in the intimate, real sense, “I *know* Paul well.” One could say that I *knew* all about God’s love and grace, but I did not *know* it.
Or, to put it another way: I knew all about God, but I still didn’t know God all that well.
I’m floundering about how to put this, but I was just so unsure. I wanted to trust that God loved me and wanted the best for me, but I did not know if I could. I went to Mass every Sunday, I prayed somewhat frequently, but it was as though I was blocked. I could not get past this feeling that if I let God into every area of my life, I would end up old, alone, and unloved. That somehow if I relinquished control, then I would never find the love that I wanted. I was afraid to believe that God could love me enough to give me something truly good.
All of this was going on throughout the summer, and into the fall, when school began. When I started teaching, I didn’t give much time to prayer, and I even slowly stopped going to Mass. I lived in a house with four other people who were teachers in my program, and weekly community prayer was supposed to be one of the things we did together, in order to support each other. Only myself and one other girl were interested, so after a while with no one else wanting to participate, we just stopped doing it.
Teaching was a million times harder and more draining than I thought it could ever be, for so, so many reasons, that really it deserves its own post. Most weeks by the time Friday came around, all I wanted to do was spend the weekend in bed watching tv. Mass and prayer were one of the first things to go.
That fall and winter, I was in a dark place. I hated my job, realizing as each day passed just how much I was not cut out to be a classroom teacher. I hated my boss and her passive-agressive, non-existent, “leadership style”. I never really meshed with most of my roommates. I was basically small, alone, and miserable in a cold city of 3 million people.
After coming back from Christmas break, I hoped things would be better. They weren’t really. Then they got a lot worse. That February, I’d had enough. I didn’t even know myself anymore, did not like the person I was becoming, the person I had to be to survive the day in that school. I did not want to quit, because it was the first time I was ever truly on my own, and I wanted to prove I could do it. Thing was, I could not do it. I was drowning, and I can remember the exact moment that God rescued me from myself.
I was sitting in my room in our crappy apartment. My room was just off the kitchen, it had probably been the maid’s room once upon a time. The apartment got broken into while we were all home the first week we lived there. One time, we saw a rat climb out of an electrical socket in the kitchen. Then there was the time we found the drunk homeless man passed out in the laundry room because the back gate lock never got fixed. It was a hell-hole.
There I was, sitting in my apartment with the bars on the windows (installed after the break-in), on the floor of my room, thinking about what to write for my suicide note, when I was stopped dead in my tracks. I could literally feel God’s presence in that shoebox of a room; He lifted me up in His arms and said, “Don’t you dare! Don’t even think about it! You have a whole lifetime of work left to do for me, and I am not going to let you throw it away over this.”
I cried so hard, the sobs shook my body. I thought to myself then, “What am I doing?” About one month later, in a turn of events both frustrating and absurd, I quit teaching. I was terrified, but I was free.
During that night on the floor in my apartment, something else happened. Yes, God set me free to recognize how much of a gift this life is. But He also finally broke through my walls. The ones that kept me from believing that He really does, always and everywhere, will only to give us love and goodness. He never wills us pain and suffering; He allows it, but He never wills it.
I always thought, in the end, that in order to have God’s love, I would need to be someone else. Someone who did not make my mistakes, and did not have my hard heart. I always feared that in order to have love in any real way, I’d have to go out and snatch it for myself, because God would not ever give it to such as myself. That night, I felt for the first time the truth that I had always had God’s love. That God’s love was the reason my heart continued to beat, and my legs continued to work. God’s love was the reason I was alive. I didn’t have to do a thing to earn it; all I had to do was accept it. I started to know God in a way I’d had glimpses of in the past, but had never grasped until that moment. It was dramatic, but it was real. It changed everything.
I made a vow that night, one which I thought and prayed about over the following days. One that I had made before, which I knew now I would keep. Despite my past mistakes, I vowed to God that the next man I would be intimate with would be my husband. And even if God saw fit for me to never marry, then I would keep that vow all my life. I had let the pursuit of earthly love, and the fear of being alone, keep me from pursuing the Love of my life. The Lover of my soul. I would never make that mistake again. I didn’t.
Two weeks later, I met Atticus. And that’s a story for another time.
Head over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!
** 7 **
I’m sorry that you’ve basically just had poetry from me this past week. Actually, on second thought. No, I’m not sorry. Poetry is wonderful and everyone should read at least a little.🙂
But what I mean is, I haven’t written much in the past couple of weeks. I’m feeling a little blog slump, maybe? I also have started four posts, but finished none of them. I’m not sure if anything I have to say these days is worth reading. Sometimes I feel that way.
** 6 **
But, I will be publishing part two of my “Love Story” (don’t worry, it’s not like Taylor Swift’s — though I have to say I dig her) on Monday. If you haven’t read Part One, you should check it out! I’m doing a three part story of my faith journey thus far. Monday’s post will be talking about what happened from my college graduation until I met Atticus.
** 5 **
To change gears completely, I have some mommy related questions for all your lovely mama’s.
Diapers: My cloth diapers are leaky! Help! They only leak from the legs, but leak just about every time I put one on her, usually within two hours. I stripped them in my washer with sensi-clean a few weeks ago, and it helped a little, but they are still leaking. I switched from Tide powder (which the Jillian’s Drawers website recommended) to the Allen’s Naturally because I had a bunch of sample bottles. Now I’m almost out of them, and I need a detergent. If you have diapers that don’t have leaking problems, what kind of soap do you use?
If you’ve had leaking problems, how did you fix it? Anything other than stripping them?
** 4 **
Maggie hates tummy time. She hates it. She’ll do it for about five minutes, then she starts screaming. She’ll do a modified version of it on her boppy, but she’ll only do that for about ten minutes or so. I’m kinda worried that she’s never going to roll over, or crawl, or anything.
How do you make tummy time bearable?
** 3 **
I am reading The Help and it is really, really good. If you’re looking for an interesting novel, especially if you like books tied to something historical and real, I’d recommend it. Of course, I am only half way through, so I can’t speak about the whole thing. But what I’ve read so far is very good.
What are you reading these days?
** 2 **
We have a zoo membership, and they are opening a new tiger enclosure over Memorial Day weekend! I cannot wait to go and check it out. The tigers are cool, but my favorites are the bears and the lions. And the seals. I love the zoo.
** 1 **
Maggie and I have been listening to Pandora radio a lot. I discovered a great song for “baby dancing”. We “baby dance” when I hold Maggie upright so she can see everything, then we bop around the room. The song is “Say Hey (I love you)” by Michael Franti. It’s such a great feel-good song, you can’t help but want to dance when you hear it.
Happy Friday and Happy listening!
I Stop Writing the Poem
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.
Happy Monday and happy folding folks!
This is one of my favorite poems. ever. I gave it to Atticus when we had been dating a few months, because for me, it captures hope in words.
On this, the first beautiful, true spring day here in Indiana, I offer you one of my favs.
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background, from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.