Monday, March 31, 2014

Wine and food pairing

I love wine.  Red wine in particular.  I have known that there's a system of sorts for what type of wine goes with what type of food, but I've never really followed it or even known it all that well.

So imagine my delight when I found this -

Check out the original image and accompanying article here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Convalidation Conundrum, part III of II

Wait – what?  Yeah, you read that right.  It’s my blog and I can have a part 3 out of 2 if I want to.  It’s not as if I changed the laws of physics.  Sheesh.

Anyway, we finally got everything done.  The paperwork, the pre-Cana, the FOCCUS, the paperwork, the dispensation for me to marry an unbaptized person, the decree of nullity, and oh did I mention the paperwork?  Apparently “Thou shalt kill trees to support Church bureaucracy” is the long-lost 11th commandment.

You may recall if you read this and/or this that I was still on the fence about what, if anything, we should do to celebrate.  My mother-in-law was lobbying hard for us to have the ceremony on our 5th wedding anniversary in June, and for a while that was the tentative plan.  But then Father called in early November and told us that all the approvals from the Archdiocese were received, everything was in order, and we could have the ceremony whenever!

All I could think about was how much I missed being able to receive Communion at Mass, so I REALLY didn’t want to wait until June to plan something big.  But when I talked to my husband it turned out that he actually wanted to do a celebration.  He does so much to support and celebrate our friends’ weddings; he wanted a chance to be the groom.  Okay.  So I called Father back and we set a date for the middle of December, six weeks from then.  And prepared for a whirlwind.

That afternoon I found and bought my dress.  In 30 minutes.  It was the first one I tried on.  I tried on a second dress, but I liked the first one the best.  Well, that was quick.  Immediately a weight was lifted off my shoulders, because I thought that part would take the longest.

Soon everything fell into place - dresses for the girls (one of which will get repurposed as a First Communion dress in spring - super win!), hair appointments, makeup decisions, flower package from Sam's Club ordered, tux for my husband, tux for the baby (so, so cute!), and a family member as a photographer.  Also, with my floor-length dress, I decided to just wear my usual black socks and gray shoes under the dress.  Well, no one could tell, so why did it matter?

One thing we couldn't quite decide on right away - what are we doing after the ceremony?  We didn't really want to pay for a full-blown reception.  Plus, neither one of us really cared about most of the trappings of a reception, anyway.  Not the cake, not the bouquet toss, none of the usual reception activities.  I thought it would have been nice to have some dancing, but it wasn't worth it to me to pay for the entire reception just for dancing.  So we settled on paying for a nice dinner for everyone after the ceremony.  That was our plan, and we were okay with it.

Fast forward to December, with ONE WEEK to go, my mother-in-law announces that we "need to" have a reception, and that she will pay for it.  My jaw hit the floor.  How in the hell is this going to even be possible?!  Well, it turns out that when you decide to have a wedding in the middle of December, plenty of places have availability!  Also, planning the reception isn't as much trouble as I thought it would be, since most places seem to have "wedding packages" - almost as if they've done this before.

Since the place needed a final headcount 48 hours after we booked the reception (with FIVE DAYS to go at this point), we begin a mad rush, calling the people we've invited to get a firm yea or nay.  Surprise!  Almost no one knew they were invited.  What the hell?  I stormed over to my husband's best friend and demanded an answer.  He is the social ringleader for our group and also works with everyone else in our group, so he was supposed to invite everyone.  Well, it turns out that while he told them the date of the convalidation, he didn't tell anyone a time, a place, or even the fact that they were invited.  Great.  The good news is, even with being invited at the last minute (grumble), most people could make it and we got our headcount.

So with only a handful of evenings left (and this is a GREAT time to suddenly be super busy at work), my husband and I picked out all the music and saved it to a playlist, to be played on shuffle at the event.  Now, this actually took a while, because while I love to dance, most of the top radio hits are absolute crap in my book.  So I vetoed probably about 90% of the suggestions sent my way; this was my ONE bridezilla moment and I am not ashamed.

Overall, it was exactly the event that we wanted.  We had about 20 people come - friends and close family.  Father heard my confession beforehand - I couldn't even get through "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned" before the tears started streaming down my face - very cleansing feeling!  The ceremony took place in a charming little chapel, Father told a touching personal story, and there are a couple of pictures of me holding my baby boy while we said our vows (he got fussy so I held him).  Both my girls were breathtakingly beautiful.  Afterward, we had food, alcohol (but not for the kids!) and lots of conversation and dancing.  At the end of the night the baby passed out in a port-a-crib in the back of the room.  I could go on about every perfect detail but this is a blog post, not a novel.  So just picture how you would feel / felt at sharing your wedding with everyone you love - THAT is how I felt.

And that's the end of the story!  We finally did it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It still hurts

I saw this comment here by Ms. Tess Krajewski, and it was too moving not to share.  Formatting and emphasis mine -

"It still hurts …

If I could go back in time (17 years) and talk to myself, while still being who I am today, I would put my arms around the young woman sitting in that chair with her face covered in tears. I would tell her that I understand how lonely she feels, how scared she is, and how she feels like she can never do anything right. I would also tell her that one day soon the term “a blob of tissue” will no longer be used by anyone because it will be recognized as a scientifically and medically wrong term. It will simply be referred to as a fetus. 

The fact is, my sweet girl, that you have a life growing inside you. I know, oh how I know, that you do not feel ready to be a parent yet. I understand the feeling of having to take care of (what seems like) this problem and the want for it to go away. Please trust me, no matter what you choose to do, your problem, your situation, will never go away. You cannot erase this time in you life out of your memory however much you wish or try to. The hopelessness you feel, the confusion, and frustration that lives inside of you will not go away just because you end the life now growing inside of you

There will come a day in your life, a day that you cannot now imagine or ever believe to be true, but the day is going to come when you will understand life in a whole new way. That day, you will once again be struck by what you have done. Pain you now only think you understand will grip your heart and almost drown you. Your eyes will be opened to a whole new world, a spiritual world where you will see yourself for who you really are. You will weep like you never have wept before as you are allowing yourself to be embraced by the AlmightyTriune God. Before you are able to utter the words that are rising up inside you, you will already be forgiven. You will become a new creation, you will fall in love with a Heavenly King.

As you walk on this journey as a new creation, as a forgiven person, you will meet people that will bring your thoughts back to what you did all those years ago. You will meet husbands and wives that will share their inmost desire of having a child of their own. You will look at their faces, you will see the pain in their eyes, it will be as if you can feel their longing to have a child, but for some reason they cannot conceive on their own. Your feelings of guilt will once again rise up. What if you would have been able to give the life growing inside you to a loving husband and wife like that. One day, not so terribly far away, you will meet a man that will happily become your husband despite all your baggage. The day will come when you will find out that the two of you are expecting a baby together. You will rejoice, but once again, you will be reminded of this first time you found out you had a life growing inside you and tears will involuntarily stream down your cheeks.

Then, the beautiful day will come when you will experience a new kind of love. The love of holding your baby in your arms for the first time. At that same moment, you will experience a new kind of pain and sorrow. You will look at your beautiful baby and you will realize that this baby once were at the same place inside of you and began growing the same way as the life you decided to end. No one will ever again be able to convince you that you are not a murderer.

I cannot forgive myself, but I praise God that He is so much mightier than me. I praise Him for not depending on me forgiving myself in order for me to have forgiveness in Him."

I can't imagine.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Christianese for Beginners

The following is a quick primer on Christianese, for those of you who are either travelling or who may have encountered a foreigner in your hometown.  Please note that most Christians speak fluent American English and, as such, you will not need this guide to speak to and become friendly with them.  However, in the event that you encounter someone who stubbornly insists on speaking the Christianese dialect at all times, you may find this helpful.

I may follow this up with more elementary or intermediate Christianese at a later date.  For now, here we go - 

Amen (interj) – 1) let it be so.  Use instead of: 1) yes; 2) I agree; 3) you are right

Usage – 

Tom: Kale is nutritious.
Susie: Amen!

Anointed (adj) – to be chosen by God.  Sometimes used instead of: 1) I choose; 2) I want to
Usage – I am anointed to give testimony about my blind date last night.
 Alternate usage – This kale has been anointed to bless me with nutrients. 

Blessing (n) / bless (v) – anything good that happens.  Sometimes used instead of “coincidence.”
Usage – We went out last night to see a move – it was such a blessing!(*)
Alternate usage – This kale has been anointed to bless me with nutrients. 

(*) This is not hyperbole.  I actually heard these words in sequence.

Called (v) – 1) decided; 2) wanted.  Use instead of: 1) decided; 2) wanted; 3) thought it was a good idea
Usage: I felt called to begin an exercise program since I gained some weight over the holidays.

Conviction (n) / convicted (v) – to feel bad.  Use instead of: 1) I am sorry; 2) I feel badly
Usage - I feel convicted about snapping at you earlier; I have been going through many trials.
Alternate usage - I was convicted about gaining some weight over the holidays, so I feel called to begin an exercise program.

Delight in (v) – to be happy about.  Use instead of: 1) to be happy about. 

Usage – If you do not delight in your role as a wife, you will be convicted of your failings and will be led to give testimony to other wives.
Alternate usage – If you do not delight in the trials of your new workout program, you will be convicted of your sloth and will give testimony about how holiday treats are of the devil.

Godly (adj) – the only word for “good” you will ever need.
Usage – Look how meek and demure Mrs. Smith is!  Clearly the Smiths have a godly marriage.
Alternate Usage – What godly window treatments!  They really let in the light from this day the Lord has made.

Led (v) - 1) decided; 2) wanted.  Use instead of: 1) decided; 2) wanted; 3) thought it was a good idea
Usage - I felt led to begin an exercise program since I gained some weight over the holidays.

Of the Devil (adj) – the only word you will ever need for “bad.”
Usage – I gained some weight over the holidays; holiday treats are of the Devil.

Persecution (n) – criticism of any sort.
Usage -

Teacher: Your writing needs some work; there are many spelling and punctuation errors.
Student: I’m being persecuted!
Alternate usage -

Child Protective Services: It is illegal to force 10-year-old girls to marry and sleep with 40-year-old men.  That’s called statutory rape.
 Compound resident: I’m being persecuted!

Testimony (n) – a story, any story.
Usage – Let me give you my testimony about my blind date last night.
 Alternate usage – Could you please give testimony about your daughter’s loose tooth?  Jim hasn’t heard about it yet.

Trial (n) – the only word for “something bad” that you will ever need.

Usage - The devil sends us many trials, such as when our shoelaces become untied and we trip over them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to successfully teach religion to kids

Normally I’m not a Doug Giles fan.  Scratch that – normally I’m REALLY not a Doug Giles fan.  I don’t agree with much that he writes, and on top of that he’s usually so arrogant.  But here, I am shocked to say I agree with him 100%.

In reading this, I see a couple big reasons that I probably fell away from the Church for a while.  For example –

“If you want to guarantee your kids will walk away from the faith, just make it an obnoxiously narrow, fastidiously legalistic, life-sucking, skull-numbing guilt trip.”

Yup – that was my upbringing, all right!  The worst of Catholic culture, inescapably up close and personal.  It was all about the rules with absolutely none of the softer stuff – no discussions about sensing God’s presence or seeing the fingerprint of God in every human being and all of creation.  Heaven forbid we attend a church where Mass had anything other than stodgy “sacred” organ music. 

“We never isolated ourselves.  Our friends were everyone.”

Growing up we were quite the opposite.  I was so isolated it was painful; I had to teach myself how to be normal when I left my parents’ house.  It’s still a work in progress.

“Lastly, our Christianity wasn’t anti-intellectual.”
Finally – the one thing my parents did right!  I read so many apologetics materials growing up that eventually I came back to the Church.  Regardless of how “the rules” just don’t seem to apply in the real world a lot of the time, I can’t escape the fact that the theology is really all there.  Not sure how to deal with that dissonance at the moment, so for now it’s in a little box in my mind.

So with my kids, I’m definitely doing things differently.  Having a particular faith is easy enough if everyone around you shares it.  But it doesn’t mean anything until you have your faith challenged by smart people who think differently than you.  Plus it’s imperative for kids to learn how to socialize with a wide variety of people, even if they don’t agree on everything.

Also, as Chesterton said, “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”  It’s a GOOD thing if religion feels good sometimes.  In fact, it should.  Doing the right thing is often painful enough, but if it’s ALWAYS painful, there’s something wrong.  Sunday school (which I help teach) can be fun sometimes.  Contemporary music at Mass is not a sign of the apocalypse.  And (horror of horrors) maybe sometimes it’s a good idea to get to know your fellow parishioners!  Shocking, I know.  My kids and I hold hands and sway during the music, I make sure they have good handshakes during the sign of peace, I help them find their place during singing and group prayers, and I point out things to look at and think about during silent prayer.

We’ll see how well this works.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Which Greek god are you?

This is beyond silly, but I took the quiz in the link, and surprise!  The answer is Athena.  I guess I picked the right pen name, no?