Saturday, March 31, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #16

Happy Palm Sunday!

1. A Song:

2. A Verse:
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!"
~Mark 11:8-10

3. A Quote:

On one side stands the crowd.
Jeering. Baiting. Demanding.
On the other stands a peasant.
Swollen lips. Lumpy eye. Lofty promise.
One promises acceptance, the other a cross.
One offers flesh and flash, the other offers faith.
The crowd challenges, “Follow us and fit in.”
Jesus promises, “Follow me and stand out.”
They promise to please. God promises to save.
God looks at you and asks…
Which will be your choice?
~Max Lucado

4. An Image:
Better than an image, today you get a video.  In honor of one of the longest liturgies in the church year-

5. A Blessing:
I spent this Saturday sewing.  I love sewing.  My back does not.  However, with the help of eight 4-H members and volunteers, we were able to make seventeen dresses to send to Africa and sixteen dolls to send to Haiti.  It was fun, and it was good to help put all of our "needs" in perspective.

6. An Intention:
For a meaningful Holy Week for all, especially those joining the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil.

7. A Challenge: To "get the most" out of Holy Week- I want to experience the beauty that the Church offers this week as we remember the walk Christ took during the week of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

Friday, March 30, 2012

An Awkward Double Date

Did I catch your attention with the title?
Don't get too excited or think that I am not keeping you up-to-date on my life.
I was on an awkward double date last night, but I was the fifth wheel.
The couples, you ask? My parents.  And my Godparents.  Ever done that before?  Me neither!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday, and my Godparents (my parents' best friends) called to see if they wanted to go out to celebrate.  Somewhere along the line, all the daughters (there are five of us all together) that are local were invited to come along.  Their youngest daughter and I went to dinner with them.  Then M went home, and I continued on with them for the rest of the evening.

What did we do, you ask?

We went to cooking school.
The Concept: Big audience, professional chef with lots of back stage help, yummy recipes made before your eyes.  All of the perks of a cooking show, but it was live and you had the chance to win the food.  But more on prizes later.

So, my mom and Godmother loved this.  I think I enjoyed it too, but it was for a different reason.  Anyone who knows my dad knows that this is not his kind of thing.  He and my Godfather are hard working, get your hands dirty, and then have a beer kind of guys.  My Godfather was a very good sport, and my dad attempted.  Needless to say, when we found our seats, the ladies were on my right and the guys were on my left.  I was in the middle of two very different sets of conversations.
For Example:

(When the chef handed a dish off to a helper to have it put in the oven:)
Chef: This is Mark.  Isn't Mark great!
The Ladies: That's nice that she has help- just like the magic of TV.
The Men: She has a manservant!

(As the host was drawing for prizes throughout the show:)
Chef: You could win this specialty gift basket!...
The Ladies: Ooo, I hope we win that.  Men, if you win, you will have to give that to me.
The Men: Win? We can't win.
The Ladies: Yes you can.  You paid for a ticket just like everyone else.  That means that you have the right to put your door prize slip in the drawing. You can too win.
The Men: We didn't turn in our door prize slip.  We didn't want to fill it out and we didn't want to win any of this stuff anyway.
The Ladies: WHAT!!! You just decreased our winning odds by half!
(This argument continued for the rest of the night. For the record, none of us won anything.)

(While watching cooking trivia on the screens in between demonstrations:)
Chef: So, can anyone tell me what Ghee is?
The Ladies: Clarified butter.  The trivia just showed us how to make it.
The Men: Well of course.  I didn't need the stinkin' trivia. I already knew what Ghee was.  Didn't you?

(When the chef was advertising a strawberry cutter-gadget that she thought would be fun for kids to use in the kitchen. She was attempting to shoot the strawberries across the kitchen:)
Chef: Isn't that fun!!!
The Ladies: Yes, fun until someone loses a finger.
The Men: And then it's hilarious.

And so it continued.

So, if you are ever looking for a fun night out, make plans with your parents and their friends.  You might be in for more than you bargained for.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Feast of the Annunciation

Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation!
In the middle of this season of preparation and penance of Lent, it is cool to remember the bigger picture and story of Christ's life.  I love the that Church organizes a year that allows us to recapitulate the story of Jesus, fully God and fully Man.  Today we remember the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Mother, changing her plans completely.

Some of her story sounds very familiar...

Young woman.
Had her own dreams and plans.
Unexpected pregnancy.
Faced opposition and persecution.
Chose life.

How different the world would be if each woman looked at each pregnancy with the value that Mary saw in Christ.  Until then, we can continue to pray for a renewal for respect of life.

On that note, our parish pro-life coordinator is organizing a cool project for our CCD kids.
They are each spiritually adopting an unborn baby for the next nine months.  They all got a magnet with Fulton Sheen's Spiritual Adoption Prayer on it and we talked about the connection between the Annunciation and being pro-life.  The kids will be doing activities, learning how the babies develop, etc.  It should be a very cool lesson.  Here are a few of the resources that we have/will be using if you wanted to do your own Spiritual Adoption:

Creating a Culture of Life Youth Group Discussion Points
 In the Youth Group Discussion Guide, I used a song and a movie to drive home the points:

JJ Heller, What Love Really Means:

99 Balloons:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #15

So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
"Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me."
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out!"
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
"Untie him and let him go."
 ~John 11:41-44
Sing it, Matt!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Love/Hate Relationship

I am currently in a love/hate relationship.

With morning.

I'd like to tell you that I took this picture of a beautiful sunRISE off of Oahu. 
But, let's be honest- it was a sunSET.

I hate getting up in the morning.  I hate my alarm clock.  I hate the back-up alarm set on my phone.  I hate the rumbling of trucks driving by my windows that steal five minutes of my sleep.  I am terrible at getting up in the morning, because I am a night owl.  It does not matter how tired I am, I can always find one-more-thing-to-do before bed, which whittles away at my sleep until I become a walking zombie when the sun comes up.

Because (at least my weekdays) I have a flexible work schedule this year, and I know how my mornings go, I have intentionally scheduled things in the morning so that I don't waste my day.  I go to the earliest Mass offered.  I opt for earlier appointments when possible.  I gave up my snooze button for Lent (epic fail there).  I am trying...but I don't seem to be changing my attitude.

I mean, Scripture says, "weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  I should love the morning, greet the new day, rejoice in the new opportunities, right?


So one day this week, I found that I needed to be somewhere early.  I decided to get up even earlier so that I could still get done the things that I needed to do before going on with the plan for the day.  I was going to offer it up for Lent as a pittance towards my snooze-button-fail.

But it turns out that what I intended as a sacrifice turned out to be a great encouragement (funny how that works).

I enjoyed watching the sun rise (albeit through my windshield).
I savored the alone time singing to the radio before the rush of the day.
I loved hearing the ring of the church bells calling worshipers to a (very) early Mass.
I soaked in the quiet of the prayer.
I liked sitting down to breakfast. My coffee even tasted better.
I was satisfied to check things off the to-do list at a time of day that I am normally still in bed.
And I still had a whole day in front of me.

So, honestly, I find that I love morning.  I can think of many special moments over the years that all happened only because I forced myself out of bed at an (by my definition) unreasonable hour.

Love or hate, all of the day is a gift from God, meant to savor and appreciate.

And I was glad to have a reminder that the morning is included in that.

Anyone have any advice for greeting the morning with joy?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who would you put your money on?

You know how people pretend to put two things up against each other in a contest and then argue over who would win?

For example:

Chuck Norris vs. Spiderman (crazy martial arts skills or shooting your own web?)
Samson from the Bible vs. Fabio (it's a hair thing)
MacGyver vs. My Dad (My Dad would win, and he could do it without duct tape)

FYI, the man on the left is MacGyver, sporting a mullet.  The man on the right is my dad, sporting some sort of a comb-over.
Here is a new one:

Semi Truck vs. 25 year old White Planter (As in, farm equipment with which you put lots of seeds in the ground.)
Who would win?
Argue about it all you want, but I have evidence.
Because it happened to my sister and her fiance last week.

Read all about the contest here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Double Tagged

No, I don't know these kids.  But they look like they are having fun playing tag, right?
I know, I know, I should not be doing this right now.  I should be working.  But I need a break.  And you just might too, hence why you are reading this.

Besides, I wasn't just tagged, I was double tagged, thanks to Cynthia and Rachel.
Double tagged sounds much more serious than tagged.
Kind of like double tapped- as in two shots to the chest meant to kill.
I think that I watch too many crime related TV shows.
But I digress.
I was tagged.

So Here's The Rules:
  1. The first rule is to post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself then write 11 things about you/your life.
  3. Answer the questions for you set in the original post.
  4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter to tell them you have tagged them
Garden of the gods, Colorado.  Don't mind the hair blowing in my face.
Eleven things about my life:
1. Speaking of hair blowing in my face, I would much rather drive with the windows down than with the air conditioning on.
2. Most days, you will find me wearing a skirt.  On other days, I will be wearing a dress. Rarely am I seen in pants.  Which makes me glad that spring (summer!) is here in Illinois- no more tights and leggings.
3. I am a complete and total introvert.   I have to work really hard to be "on" in front of people, and it's exhausting.  I could easily hole up someplace and not talk to or see anyone for a week (or honestly much longer) and be perfectly happy.
4.  I really like crime TV shows- NCIS, NCIS LA, Bones, Covert Affairs, etc.   I think this is interesting because I don't like violence, murder, lies, blood, or lawyers.
5. I am in a book club.  And it is not just an excuse to gossip.  We are nerds and enjoy using study guides with our post-it-note and highlighter marked books.
6. I am excited that many bridemaids' dress styles are currently sporting pockets.  This matters because I have a feeling that I will be adding extensively to my bridemaids' dress collection over the next couple of years.  And pockets make it seem more bearable for some reason.
7. If I could gain any talent with no effort, it would to be able to sing well.  Not that I would want to perform anywhere (see #3) but I so enjoy singing and wish that I could do so without making babies cry or dogs bark.
8. If I can help it, I will never own a cat.  I will only relent on this if I live on a farm and need them to kill mice.
9. I would rather shop for office supplies than clothes.  (Oh, Office Max- the paper, the markers, the organizational possibilities.)
10.  I sometimes think that I was born in the wrong era (not for real, God!  I know you got it right!) If I could pick another time to live in, it would either be the 1870s or the late 1940s.
11. I apparently have a hard time coming up with 11 random things about myself. Ummm...oh, if I had been a boy, my parents would have named me Seth. ta-da

I am going to cheat a bit on the rules, because I was double tagged.  I will answer both Cynthia and Rachel's questions, but I am not going to write my own.  I'm a crazy rule breaker like that.

Cynthia's Questions:
  1. Mini-van or other? Someday a mini van, maybe, but not until I reach the three kids mark.
  2. Favorite clothing item? My crazy-four-different-prints-"real"-silk-wrap skirt from Hawaii, sold to me by a crazy vendor.
  3. Best friend in the whole wide world? Why? Very hard to answer.  My sisters are the longest and closest, so we will go with them.
  4. Favorite movie? Return to Me
  5. Your favorite trait about yourself? Hmmm...although it is also sometimes a source of frustration, I think my creativity.
  6. Best concert you've ever been to? A long time ago: Dierks Bentley-danced-at-the-edge-of-the-stage-got-our-shirts-signed-then got-pulled-over-by-bored-cop-on-the-way-home...
  7. Most difficult decision you've ever had to make? Leaving my job last year.
  8. What did you want to be when you were little? A teacher.
  9. Favorite quote? This is like asking which star is my favorite.  A current favorite is "Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece." -Blessed John Paul the Great
  10. Most expensive item [at the grocery store] that you have ever purchased?? Bulk packaged toilet paper.  Holy cow, that stuff is expensive enough when you are not buying 54 rolls.
  11. Best television series you have ever watched? NCIS.  After 10 years, they still have a strong character plot going on along with interesting issues in individual episodes.

Rachel's Questions:
(these are easier, because I think that we talked about many of these things around 4 in the morning on our trip back from Colorado this fall)
  1. Most Memorable Moment- I have really strong memories of a Confirmation I attended at the Cathedral last year.  I was a sponsor, and it was a very moving event.  I don't have any big memories of my own Confirmation, but this one reminded me that the Confirmed are marked indelibly by God, and the the Spirit is at work in us.   It was very powerful.
  2. Favorite Childhood TV Show- Full House.  I wanted to be D.J.
  3. Kitchen Item You Cannot Live Without- My avocado-green-third-owner-OLD-kitchen-aid-mixer.  It was made right.
  4. Favorite Saint.Why? -St. Joseph.  He was the closest person to Jesus and Mary, and even though he had the King of the Universe in his living room, St. Joe was the one charged to provide and protect.  I like that he was a man of action who listened to God.  I appreciate his strength and his character as he prays for the universal Church.
  5. Top 5 Favorite Anthem Songs- Anthem?  As in, I shouldn't really like this, but I do, and I am going to sing it at the top of my lungs? Here's a few.
    1. The Boxer, by Simon and Garfunkel
    2. Hail Holy Queen, Sister Act Style
    3. I Should Of Been a Cowboy, by Toby Keith
    4. Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel
    5. Everything I Do, Bryan Adams
  6. Favorite Recipe-anything that I can't screw up. I'm a big fan of soup- it is very forgiving.  Here's a good one that I made recently.
  7. Favorite Lip Smackers Flavor- Strawberry.  Keep it simple.
  8. Dream Vacation- Italy.
  9. Coffee, Tea or Pop- Coffee, with a close second to Diet Coke.
  10. Favorite CD that you can listen to the whole thing- Sara Groves Fireflies and Songs- every song is different, but I love them all.
  11. If you could have an actress to play you in a movie, who would it be? Why?- I think Katherine Heigl.  No strong reason why, but I think that I like her- bubbly, can pull off awkward, beautiful, and funny.  More of the qualities that I wish I had :)
Whew, that was a lot of info.
I tag... Anita, Steph, Becca, and Kayla.
You can pick one of the above sets as your questions, or mix and match. Have fun!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why wait?

Why is it when I say:

"Oh, really?  The deadline is extended?  That's great!  This means that I can put a little more of my heart into the work, can strive for excellence, and can check everything over to make sure that it is just perfect."

I really mean:

"Oh really?  Now I can procrastinate a little longer."

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Life Seeds

Looking for an Easter gift for kids (or anyone)?
Need it to be cheap? Check
Need it to be quick? Check
Need it to send the real message of Easter? Check

How about these New Life Seed Labels?

Note the flowers that I chose- Morning Glory? Forget-Me-Not?
Buy some seeds in bulk, glue on label, and you not only have a great Easter gift or basket stuffer, but you have a lasting object lesson.

The verse on the labels says:
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” ~John 12:24

This verse can start many conversations surrounding questions like:
-What happened on the first Good Friday?
-Why did Jesus have to die?
-What did they do with Jesus' body?
-What happened on Easter Sunday?
-Why do we celebrate Easter?

Connect that with:
-What happens to a seed when you plant it?
-Does the seed stay the same after it is buried?
-If it dies, does something better come?
-How is that like Easter?

Also, if you give these to kids early and talk about the seed-dying connection with Lent, they can plant them now and have sprouts for Easter Sunday and hopefully flowers before the Easter Season is over.

Happy planting!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Surrender seems to be on my mind a lot lately.

St. Paul knew a thing or two about surrender:

Wealthy, well educated, powerful, kickin'-Christian-butt-and-takin'-names: Saul had it goin' on.
That is, until he got knocked to the ground, blinded by unnatural light, and forced to question everything that he thought he believed.

"In a blinding flash of light the Risen Lord penetrated the inmost being of Saul-henceforth to be known as Paul- shattering his resistance, causing a complete change of mind and heart, that lead him to be a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ." ~Bishop Saltarelli

Saul had a choice- listen and surrender, or deny truth and maintain control.
He chose to surrender.

That was our topic at youth group last Sunday.

We also brought good-old St. Francis of Assisi into the discussion, whose conversion was similar to Paul's in a lot of ways.

After talking about their stories, we related it back to how we can surrender our lives to Christ.  We brainstormed what modern youth need to let go of.  Control, the future, relationships, family, power, money, stuff, education, popularity, etc.

Then the kids had a chance to demonstrate that surrender.  Surrender=white flag in imagery, right?
Personal white flag+Marker+Prayer Time with this song playing:

White Flag+Fire Outside=send your surrender to God.
Yes, it started snowing in the middle of this activity. We didn't let it stop us.

We surrender.   
"God gave himself to you; give yourself to God." ~Blessed Robert Southwell

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Prizes, prizes, prizes

So, I haven't seen Betsy and Bonnie since they became the winner-winner-chicken-dinners from this post, but I know what their prizes are gonna be...

Betsy, grand-prize-cardigan-comment-winner, gets a pretty purse for some summer weddings!
Wait, does that look familiar?
Did you read this one?
Re-purposing a  ruined scarf into a cute bag, intended for my sister.  She thought it was adorable, but thought that it should be smaller, and have a zipper, and have a wristlet strap instead.  So this became her birthday present:

So, Betsy gets the original design, a pretty, go-green, cute handbag. Hope you like it!

Bonnie, runner-up-homeschool-comment, gets some pretty monogrammed notecards, for when she needs to send a thank-you, or last minute birthday card, or a just because note.
She just needs to let me know if she wants an "E" or a "B" stamped on them.

Yay ladies!  Hope you like them :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath #14

Happy Sunday!

Just a song for you today, but there is more of a story to go with it later.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stuff this Catholic girl says & Prize winner announced!

You may have missed this post.
If so, please watch this video before reading on.

We all have lingo- doctors, teachers, Protestants, Catholics, moms, cooks, referees...sometime you have to be one to understand one.  I think that is a reason why this video struck me as so funny.  Sometime we get so wrapped up in our "lingo" that we forget what we are really saying.  Unfortunately, that means that we are leaving the rest of the non________ crowd out of the loop.  The video "Stuff Catholic Girls Say" definitely made me laugh, but it also made me think.  What are Christians, especially Catholics, saying out of habit that is misunderstood, overused, or insincere?  What kind of witness are we giving by the words that we use to represent our faith? Are we empathetic, genuine, and open when we talk?  Do we make an effort to keep others in the loop as we discuss Christ and His Church?  Hmmm...something to ponder.

Ok, enough with the introspection.  It is way too late in the evening for that, and I have people hounding me and threatening to un-follow my blog if I don't announce the winner.   Let's move on to the lighter stuff.

So, I mentioned that I have had every one one of these conversations before.

I re-watched the video, and there is a slight correction to that statement.  Since I no longer teach 6th grade, it has been quite a while since I have discussed Justin Bieber.  I also have not had a discussion about his possible Catholic-conversion-marriage-status to Selena Gomez.  (Sorry, Rachel.)

So what was my favorite line?

It actually has nothing to do with being Catholic, which is why it struck me as so funny.  Because even though it has no connection to Catholicism, I can't tell you how many times I have heard or said this statement in my circles of Christian friends over the years.  I guess there is a connection to modesty, but other than that, it was just funny.

The winning line is...

"Oh, my gosh, I love your cardigan!"

Congrats, Betsy!

I know, its a dorky line, but aren't they all?

There was a very close runner-up, which is a little more genuine, so I decided that it merits a runner-up prize, also to be fabulous and crafty.

The runner up line is...

"So, I can't decide if I want to homeschool my children or not."

Congrats Bonnie!

That one was my second favorite, because I have been asked my opinion of homeschooling over and over  (and over) sometimes by the most random people.  (For example- I am on a long car ride with a person that I don't know that well, and in a very serious tone, they turn to me and say... "So, tell me, are you planning on homeschooling your children?"  And I am all like.... "Children?  I don't have children, unless you know something that I don't.  I think I'll save making decisions about things like their nursery color and schooling options until they are at least conceived. Thanks.")

Oh, I was going to post what the prizes were, but this post has gone from very late evening to very early morning, so I think that will have to wait. I'll keep Betsy and Bonnie in suspense :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oh. My. Goodness.

What have I gotten myself into?

This is currently my living room:

Those boxes are three deep, btw.

With that picture in mind, any of my readers who is local is cordially invited to help stuff bags for the Behold Conference on Sunday, 1-5, Tuesday 5-9, and Thursday 5-9.

I will feed you, and you will have the internal satisfaction of knowing that you have helped build up the kingdom of God through mindless, repetitive, assembly-line style work.  We would love to have you.