Sunday, January 29, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #10

1. A Song

2. A Verse
"And the Lord said to me, 'This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.'" ~Deuteronomy 18:17-19

3. A Quote
Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” ~St. Theresa of Avila

4. An Image
mountains, but not the ones Moses taught from.  these are in Oahu, and God made them too.

5. A Blessing
The voice of truth, spoken through the prophets of ages, just like God promised in today's reading from Deuteronomy.

6. An Intention
I will be praying this week for leadership in all Christian Churches, and especially for all involved in the GIFT program in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.  We can get too caught up in organization and structure, and lose focus on Christ's mission to be His hands and feet.

7. A Challenge
I am fasting from my snooze button.  No sleeping in.  No "five more minutes." Ugh.  But it is a good challenge, and I am offering it up.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: A Severe Mercy

In honor of the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, I will attempt to share with you some literary thoughts on the latest book checked off my to-read-list,  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.

A very quick summary:
  • Part love story, part conversion journal, part poem, part part grief manual, all rolled into one.
  • Traces the story of Sheldon (author) and his wife Davy through their courtship and marriage, Sheldon's service during WWII (and how Davy followed him to the war front), island exploring on a yacht following the war, continuing their education at Oxford, the development of their friendship with C.S. Lewis, their conversion to Christianity, how they served the Kingdom, Davy's strange illness and ultimate death while still in her thirties, and Sheldon's exploration of grief and mercy, all packed into 240 pages!
A few reasons why you should pick up this book:
  • Almost half of the book covers their lives before their conversion.  Sheldon refers to he and his wife as "pagans," completely wrapped up in each other with the only goal of soaking up as much beauty in the world as they could.  However, the big ideas that they wrestle with pre-conversion led them to an academic understanding of some very Christian topics, including the fact that with joy comes pain, that all humans yearn for beauty and truth, and that a husband and wife are no longer two individuals upon their marriage, but have become one.  Add to that their line of thought during their conversion, and you have got a great insight into the story of how two very well educated people were led to become Christians.
  • Read it for the beautiful, lyrical, poetic language.  The book itself contains over twenty poems by the author, his wife, and friends written during the time of the events in the book.  The romantic description of the people and places and experiences takes your breath away.
  • The book contains eighteen letters from C.S. Lewis, chronicling years of he and the Vanauken's friendship.  His wit and wisdom comes through in these personal thoughts that crossed an ocean and can apply to us today.  For example, in a letter that was one of many during the time of Sheldon's struggle to believe in Christ, Lewis concluded with, "But I think you are already in the meshes of the net!  The Holy Spirit is after you.  I doubt if you'll get away!"
  • Finally, read it because of Sheldon's take on grief and God's mercy.  Through his pain, he was able to share truths in ways I had never quite heard them put before.
Thanks, RyAnne, for sharing this book with me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just Right

Once upon a time...Goldilocks visited Oh-Henry.

She was tired after her journey, and needed a place to sit down and have a cup of tea.

So, she decided to use my couch.  (There are very few good tea places in Oh-Henry.)

She got all settled, and went to adjust the pillow behind her.

And took a closer look...

And decided that it was ugly.
Now, Baby Bear thinks that this pillow is fluffy and perfect to sit on.  Goldilocks thinks that it is sooo 2005.  She wondered what lay beneath the slip cover...and found this monstrosity.
Now, Papa Bear thinks that this pillow is soft, and a good size to put under his head for a nap.  He does not care what color it is.  Goldilocks said that it would just not do.
 So she set to work with some fabric she found in the closet.  (Aren't the pastel pins pretty?)
A few rows of stitches later, she flipped it inside out, covered the peach monstrosity, and whaa laa- I found this beauty on my couch when I got home.  Goldilocks, Mama Bear, and I all agree that this one is better than "just right."
She must have been proud of her efforts, because this one was on the other couch.  Not quite as pretty as the first, but I like it too.
Come to think of it, these pillows look something I recently posted.  Maybe Goldilocks reads my blog!  If so, she should become a follower.
I promise that these browns match IRL.  
Goldilocks should visit more often.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Turning a Sow's Ear into a Silk Purse

Ok, so I have to be honest upfront.

There is technically neither a pig nor any silk in this post.

But it is the essence of what I was trying to say, and it sounds better than "Turning What Was Once Crap into Something Creative."

I have been challenging myself to use/re-use/re-purpose more craft materials lately, especially fabric, for a few reasons:

1. Fabric is expensive, and I do not have a money tree in my backyard. 
2. It is a creative challenge, and a little challenge is good for the brain.
3. It is more globally/God-given-resource responsible.

So, we begin with a sad laundry tale.

This used to be a beautiful, long, flowing wrap/scarf.  It used to be about 3 or 4 times this size.  I usually don't have "nice" things, so apparently I did not pay attention to the tag that must have said it was a wool blend.

Fast forward to Hawaiian sand + wrap + strange boy's malfunctioning washing machine = one very shrunk & misshapen chunk of fabric.  It has been waiting to become something new.

I decided to try the Buttercup Bag from this post.  I originally was going to make this post more of a tutorial about that bag, but after cutting out the pattern, I did not follow the directions at all.  Some of them I did in an easier way, some of them I disagreed with, and some of them I just didn't read because I have found that I enjoy sewing more when I can wing it.
 It still felt weird to be cutting apart this scarf.  In my minds eye, I can see it in its former flowing glory, and cutting out chunks seemed wrong.

I added some hefty sized pockets to the lining (using some leftover fabric from another project).  A good bag needs pockets.
 Getting closer: but the whole thing is still inside out.
 And the finished product:
 Cute, huh?  Oh, and here is the back: 
I cut out the flowers specifically in those locations, while still leaving enough room on (what used to be) the scarf for another bag.  The photos don't really do it justice, but the look is very felted-wool-vintage-evening-handbag.

A little reminder that something beautiful, even if we can't see the beauty on the surface, is always of value. "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." ~Matthew 7:6

The intended recipient?  My red-headed sister, who has requested a handmade magic-mary-poppins-camera-bag, which may take me until  2014 to complete.  This is my token of appreciation for her patience in the meantime.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quit Planning and Go With It

Note: This is a very long post, which might not be very interesting.  However, I am feeling grateful for the evening, and wanted to record the details, more as a reminder for myself of how good God is.  I don't mind if you don't want to read this whole thing :)

Youth Group is always fun, and rarely what I expect.  This week, poor weather was going to keep most of the kids away, so I had mentally resigned the evening a "wash" according to the lesson, and instead an opportunity for some additional fellowship in a smaller group.

However, more kids showed up than expected, so we went ahead with the plans for the evening.  (The kids in attendance sent regular text updates, including pictures, to those stuck at home- I take this as a sign that they are glad to be at Youth Group, especially when the texts are accompanied by phrases like- "Ha! ______ is going to be so jealous that they are not here!" And yes, I know that the grammar of the previous sentence is poor.  What can I say, it came from the mouth of a teenager...)

We completed the T3: Teen Timeline in December, so this semester, I am expanding on it with a theme of "Who Do You Want To Be?"  Each meeting brings a topic (like forgiveness), a figure from the Bible, and a Saint.  This allows us to continue to talk about God's plan of salvation as laid out in T3, but puts more of an application spin on it, focusing on growing into Godly men and women.

Topic this week: Integrity.  People to look to as examples: Ruth and St. Therese.
The lesson is discussion based, using excerpts from the T3 videos as well as the Who Cares About the Saints DVD.  At the end of the night, I send the kids home with a sheet reviewing some of the big concepts, as well as additional things to look up, questions to reflect on, and things to pray for.  I don't kid myself that many of those sheets end up in the trash or under a bed, but I also am an advocate of putting resources in people's hands, even if you don't know when or if they will use them.  If one kid reads one part of a handout and it makes them think, then they are worth giving out.

Here is a link to the sheet I made about integrity, Ruth, and Therese. Feel free to use or pass on.

Then the evening got interesting.  Being that it was Jan. 22nd (the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade), I moved the discussion to how a person of integrity treats everyone with equal respect- the unborn, the elderly, the annoying classmate, the disabled, etc.  I didn't want to beat them over the head with the topic, so had just planned it as a little addendum.  However, they took off with it.  They were all talking over each other, asking intelligent questions, and wanting to know more about the Church's teachings about people with disabilities, about prenatal testing, about "pulling the plug," etc.  So we talked.  Usually the last 30 minutes or more are spent playing a game, and the kids guard that time pretty seriously.  Tonight, no one looked at the clock.

Then, I asked them some questions specifically related to the rights of the unborn.  And I was able to pull out our newest parish resource, of which I am ecstatic about.  Have you seen The Touch of Life Fetal Models?  They are incredible, soft, touchable models of babies at 12, 20, 26, and 30 weeks gestation that are the correct form, size, and weight.  Seeing does not do them justice, you have to hold them.

I pulled these out, and the kids went nuts.  The babies spurred more questions, and comments, and text messages to the home-bound youth group crowd.  They thought they were incredibly cool.  It was so cute how they passed them to each other and held them, like they were real babies.  (I mean, look at how they are even supporting their heads in the picture below!)  They mentioned several times feeling the need to wrap them in a blanket so they wouldn't get cold.  At one point, they decided that it would be great if everyone could carry these around in their pockets and pull them out to start conversations with people about the sanctity of life (we've got some future pro-life advocates here). 

Before I could get too proud, they then realized that the babies DO FIT in your pockets.  So they put the three 12 week babies (the size of your thumb) in one girl's sweatshirt, poking their sweet little heads out, and said she was "carrying" triplets. One of the boys held the 30 week baby and said, "Take a picture!  I'm a dad!"  They then decided that pregnant women should be able to carry real babies like a kangaroo does, and pull them out at different stages of development to show people.  Then they tried it themselves in various hoodie pockets.  And hoods.

And then we stopped having stimulating, theological conversations, and they just had some fun.  And then I kicked them out because there were parents waiting in the parking lot.

Tonight was a good example of why you should not set expectations for a ministry event.  You should pray more than you prepare, and show up ready to go where the Spirit leads.  It was a lesson that I needed to be taught again, because this was all Him working tonight, and not me.

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." ~Psalm 143:10

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #9

1. A Song

2. A Verse:

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning,  those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away."
~ 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

3. A Quote:
"The blessing hands of Christ are like a roof that protects us. But at the same time, they are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven my enter in, may become "present" within it." ~Pope Benedict XVI

4. An Image:
Our Lord of the Plains Way of the Cross Park, Colorado
5. A Blessing:
Isn't it a blessing to be allowed to take part in creation?  I mean, really, God is the only one who "creates" = makes something out of nothing, but that we are allowed to have a spark of his creative genius in us, that drives us to make the world a better place, is in short- awesome.  So whatever you do- write books, sing silly songs to preschoolers, make presentations for businesses,  plan math it all with an enthusiasm for however His creativity plays out in your life.  I sure am grateful.

6. An Intention:
I am not a big fan of following politics. But, let's start praying for the 2012 election, shall we?  I think that the political world needs our prayers.  I know that the political world seriously needs the guidance of Wisdom on High.  So let's pray.

7. A Challenge:
I didn't accomplish finishing this book last week (as was my goal in my last Keeping the Sabbath post).  I have started it however, and it is beautifully written.  A Severe Mercy is the autobiographical love story of a couple and their conversion to Christianity partially through the influence of C.S. Lewis.  So far, I am most impressed by his view of redemptive suffering, and am eager to finish the book to see how it plays out in his life.  I will finish it this week!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jane got it all right, and all wrong

You might have heard (or read) that I am part of a Jane Austen Book Club.
 I know, I know.

But trust me, we have intelligent conversation, completely unrelated to Colin Firth.
 This month's meeting: Sense and Sensibility

We are currently putting up a flurry of posts here about some of those conversations, funny things that happened, recipes from the day (go at least for the recipes!), and other topics that we have related to the book.

Our common theme that we have picked up after reading our third Austen novel:
Jane thought all women were ridiculous and all men were weak.
It comes out in every character in some way.
All of them.

If you think that Jane was merely writing simpering romance novels for wistful girls, 
I would say that you are wrong.

She actually had a finger on the pulse of her culture.
And our culture, as a matter of fact.
The danger of men being weak and women being ridiculous has strayed into our time.

However, I would not call her prophetic.
I think that she was a good study of Creation.
And whether she understood it or not, 
she was able to characterize something 
that has plagued humanity from the beginning of time.

It all goes back to the Garden.
Eve plays the drama queen, embellishes the truth, and then shifts the blame.
Adam shirks his duty, gives in when he should fight, and hides in shame.

The same story plays over and over again in all of our hearts.

Fortunately, Jane's peeps are just make believe,
and we know the truth of Who we were created by,
and what we were created for,
and how we have been redeemed.
Through His strength, we can fight Original Sin and the tendencies to be weak and ridiculous.

Thank Goodness, because I couldn't stand to live in the world of one of Jane Austen's novels.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." ~1 Peter 1:18-19

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pop Quiz: The Box Edition

Pop Quiz

You have just opened your door to find a four foot tall stack of boxes.

Question: Why?

Possible Answers:
A) You do a lot of online retail therapy, and it has been a bad week
B) You are getting a new roommate, and he/she has packed his/her belongings in tiny (yet heavy) boxes, dropped them at the door, and expects you to unpack them.
C) UPS must have a new driver on route who made a mistake (my UPS driver knows me by name, doesn’t yours?-I’m not joking. I have run into him in other places, and he is all like, “Hey, you’re Katie, from over on ______ Street!” Yes, this is a small town.)  
D) Your neighbors are having storage issues and have decided that the hallway in front of your door is fair game.
E) You seem to be improving in soliciting donations for an upcoming conference.

Correct answer for Katie?


Did you guess?

I was surprised to open my door today to find this stack, delivered at least a month before I thought that it would be.  This is ONLY HALF of a great donation that will be put in the goody bags for the upcoming Behold Conference.  Half!  Have I mentioned that I already have an entire closet full of items for the conference?  I am currently wondering where these 16 boxes are going to go.  So if you come and visit me over the next two months, don’t be surprised to find boxes stacked to the ceiling in my living room.

Oh, were you wondering what was in the boxes?

You’re just going to have to come to the Behold Conference to find out!

Monday, January 16, 2012

How we welcome people

Yesterday brought two new families to our church, each with two kids.  (This is practically a population boom).  I enjoyed showing the kids to their classrooms, introducing everyone, and then sitting down and chatting with the parents.  They were both lovely couples.  One couple stuck around longer waiting for their kids to be finished with class.

I, being a gracious hostess, offered to get them some coffee.  The father affirmed that he would like a cup, so I ran upstairs (to the kitchen) and poured him a cup.  I brought it back, and asked if he wanted cream or sugar.  He did, so I got him one of those nice little dishes we have filled with packets of creamer, sugar, sweetener, and stirring sticks.  We then picked up our conversation where we had left off.

Until he said, "Hmmm....This creamer isn't dissolving...Oh."

Oh?  Oh, what?

He said, "Well, I didn't think that I needed to read the packets. I thought this was creamer, but it is Parmesan cheese!"

We laughed and laughed, and I of course went and got him a new cup. (I will refrain from telling you what hot coffee and parmesan smelled like as I poured it down the drain.)

I guess this is what happens when the two largest functions held in your church kitchen are Coffee and Donuts and Spaghetti Suppers.  The two apparently should not mix.  Welcome to our church! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #8

1. A Song

2. A Verse
"Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, 'We have found the Messiah' - which is translated Christ -.
Then he brought him to Jesus." ~John 1:40-42

3. A Quote
"We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. ... It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God's grace, we ourselves have received." ~Pope Benedict XVI

4. An Image

5. A Blessing
Can I consider hot drinks a blessing?  Sorry if it seems silly, but this time of year, few things make me feel as cozy and comfy as a cup of hot cinnamon tea or caramel hot chocolate.  I am going to take them as a sign that God loves me.

6. An Intention
Please join me in praying for all Christians, that we would have a heart for evangelism.  My favorite part of today's Gospel is that Peter only knew Jesus because of Andrew, and Andrew only knew Jesus because of John.  It makes me grateful for those that have led me closer to Christ, and reminds me that I am accountable to do the same for the people in my life.  As Pope Benedict XVI said, "Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to Him.  A great joy must not be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on."

7. A Challenge
I WILL finish this book this week. It comes highly recommended, and I need to get back into a routine of spiritual reading.  The Christmas season threw me off.    But I really want to read this, so I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #7

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

1. A Song

2. A Verse
"Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD." ~Isaiah 60:5-6

3. A Quote
"…we are like the 3 Wise Men who journeyed to Jesus. Now, like those Wise Men, we return to the world from which we came, to the everyday life where we will witness to what we have seen…indeed it compels us to start out afresh on a new stage of the journey on which we become proclaimers and heralds.…The Wise Men were in a sense the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but made them set out anew on the paths of the world." ~Blessed Pope John Paul II, in his Epiphany homily, 2001

4. An Image
5. A Blessing
I love a good Bible Study.  I am very blessed to be starting a study on the Book of Revelation this week with a group of wonderful people at my church.  We share great food and great discussion, and I am looking forward to learning more about one of the more "controversial" books of the Bible.

6. An Intention
Considering JP2's meditation on the Magi being the first missionaries, will you join me in praying for all who work in the mission field, short term or long term?  I'll be praying that their needs be provided for, that their work be fruitful, and that their missionary spirit be contagious.

7. A Challenge
I will be taking advantage of the beautiful un-January-like weather we have been having by getting outside more this week.  Because the good weather is going to hold, right?  (Don't burst my bubble if you've heard differently!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

People get ready, Sunday is coming

For a couple of months, I have intentionally been working on preparing for the Sabbath, making it the focus of my week.  I explained my plan in this post.

One thing that has helped me is Fr. Robert Barron's weekly podcast.  I have seen him speak twice, and he is phenomenal.  His dynamic and practical teaching style carries over into these powerful, yet short, sermons.  The podcasts come out a usually a few days before the Sabbath, and are reflections on the upcoming Sunday Mass readings.  Last week's was a beautiful reflection on looking into the face of God and why Christ came as a baby.  This week's is a comparison of King Herod, who looked at the world through the lens of his own ego and was trapped inside himself, and the Magi, who looked outside of themselves for truth, and were therefore liberated  to follow the star of Bethlehem.

You can visit his website, Word on Fire, or can subscribe to the podcast through itunes.  Ten minutes to help make your Sunday more meaningful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #6

Yes, I know that it is not the Sabbath.  I blame my lateness on the holidays, lack of internet access, and pure undefiled Christmas laziness.  But, I was thinking about preparing for the Sabbath throughout the week, so here are my Sabbath thoughts for yesterday-

 Happy Octave Day of the Nativity and Happy Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God!  (oh...and happy new year!)

1. A Song
Sorry, but I had to...
 How can you not love this?

2. A Verse
"The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message  that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." ~Luke 2:16-19
3.A Quote
"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity." 
~Washington Irving

4.An Image

5.A Blessing
I got to spend a ton of time with family and friends over the past two weeks.  It is such a blessing to have more opportunities to be present in each others' lives. 

6.An Intention
I'm praying for all of the families of the kids I work with in my job.  The family is so important.  The kids spend a very small fraction of their time actually in our programs, and we desire for that time to have an impact.  However, I am starting to understand more and more that our time spent in prayer for their families is more fruitful than all of the programs and resources that we can provide combined.  I encourage you to be praying for the families of the people in your life.  Join me in praying for leadership, charity, faith, strength, and growth.

7. A Challenge
Must. Get. Back. To. Work.  Must seek routine and structure.  Must annihilate to-do-list.  Must complete without loosing sanity or vision of what is important.  I love the holidays, but I sure don't love the aftermath.