Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lawn Chair Catechism, Week 10: Steamrollers

Despite my inability to actually write up a post each week, I am reading along. I have gotten a bit behind here and there but not so much that I couldn't easily catch up. I have to say, this book is perfect for someone like me. The chapters are relatively short and it's an easy read. It's packed full of great information, but presented in an easy to follow way.

That being said, I really wanted to write a post last week but simply ran out of time. Last week's chapter was on the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). It really had me reflecting on the importance of these sacraments and especially on witnessing my own children's baptisms. I've still not shared pictures from either Baptism, and I have some really nice ones. I may still. One day.

But let's move on to the healing sacraments: Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.

I have a love-hate relationship with the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. My first one was in the second grade. For my second, I was in my mid-twenties, probably around 26 or 27 at the time. That's a long time to go without the graces of this sacrament. I remember how wonderful it was to finally go again. I had gotten to a point where I understood the importance of Reconciliation and knew that I needed to go again (after many years of poor catechesis followed by years away from the Church) and wanted to go, but was scared to take that next step. I ended up at a retreat and knew that was my time. I remember being a ball of nerves prior to going in and then feeling amazingly light when I walked out. I totally felt like a new person.

I thought of this when Paprocki says "that at our deepest core, we are unable to sustain ourselves." In other words, we need God's graces to survive in this world. I certainly felt this that day that I went to the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 20 years. We are all sinners and we need Reconciliation to help us grow as Christians. We need to physically voice our sins and hear that we are forgiven. We are physical beings so it only makes sense that we engage all our senses in seeking God's forgiveness.

I'm still not very good about going to this sacrament, but at least I've gotten a bit better. It always takes me a while to get up the gumption to go, but once I'm there I'm always grateful that I made myself do it. It's been harder since I've had little children in my life. I'm pleased to say that my church is adding times for Reconciliation on Sundays, right before and right after the Mass that we usually attend. It's just once a month, but hey, better than nothing and it's very doable for both myself and my husband. I'm already planning on going at one of the next opportunities I have. Can't wait!

I love, too, how this is one of the sacraments of healing. I think we often forget that our soul needs healing as well. Even more reason to not take this sacrament for granted. We need to take advantage of the availability of it and try to go on a regular basis. And I'm talking to myself here too. As I said at the beginning of this reflection, I have a love-hate relationship with this sacrament. It's so hard to make myself go, and yet the wonderful feeling of forgiveness is unbeatable.

The Church needs to see a resurgence in people taking advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Can you imagine how strong the Church would be if more people were receiving the graces of Reconciliation on a regular basis?

This post is being linked up to the Lawn Chair Catechism series on Go check out the post for Week 10 HERE for discussion questions and more discussion and reflection on both the sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes in which I make cookies, brag about babies, and much more


Sorry for the recent dry spell on the blog. I had quite a run there for a bit in June, but then life got a bit busy. Sometimes it's best for my energies to be elsewhere and the blog suffers. But that's okay. It happens. If you've followed me for very long at all, you know that I always come back. Eventually. So what has been going on lately? Well, let's review ...


We hosted our group of aspiring Benedictine Oblates for an evening this month. St. Benedict's feast day was July 11, but we couldn't get together that day. So we got together the next day instead. I decided to make cookies for the get together and intended to write a blog post to share my accomplishment, but ... well, see #1 above. So here's the short version. It was a "simple" sugar cookie recipe. "Simple" only applies if you've rolled out dough before, which I had not. Ever. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever used the rolling pin for anything but flattening chicken, which requires no actually rolling. And then there was the decorating icing, something else I had never done before. It ended up being a late night. A few pictures of my cookies:
Working on rolling and cutting the cookies
Icing the tops to look like St. Benedict's medal

A close up.

Finished plate. Personally, the chocolate ones were my favorite.


Silas is now 7 months old. As of this past Saturday. He's such a cutie!!


As you can see in that picture, he is also starting to get on his hands and knees. He isn't crawling yet, but I bet he will be soon. This kid is always moving. He kicks his legs all the time, does "the Superman" when he's on his belly on the floor, and he's gotten really good at turning himself around to look in different directions. He's so active that I'm a little worried. Once he is mobile, he's probably going to give me a run for my money!


We have started trying to give Silas solid foods. This week we've given him some banana pieces to play with at dinner. He gets some in his hand and gets a taste, but doesn't seem to want to do more than that. Thursday night after he played for a while with it, I gathered up the pieces, mashed them up, and attempted to let him taste it on a spoon. He has yet to take to a spoon. However, I let Hubby take over and he must have the magic touch. Silas got a good taste after that and seemed to get a bit more interested. We're going to keep working on it and I hope we can get him some avocado, carrots, and sweet potato soon. 

[Side note: he had another appointment Thursday to check his weight and he needs more calories. He's not losing, he is gaining, but not a lot. He's healthy though, so we just need to try to encourage him to up his calorie intake. We're not too worried.]

Silas starting to realize he can eat this stuff Mommy and
Daddy have been giving him all week.

Mmm, that spoon tastes good!


So, we had an interesting weekend just last weekend. I'll spare you all the details and try to give the short version. Peter was sick on Friday and by lunch time I wasn't sure that he was going to get better on his own, so I called the doctor. We spent 2+ hours at the doctors office, including going down to X-ray and having the pediatrician bring in at least two other pediatricians to listen to him. By 4:30, I told Hubby to meet me there so I could go get the other two from day care (since I knew that Silas, especially, needed to eat and I was the only one who could feed him). So Hubby took Peter to the ER where they spent another 2-3 hours. While in the ER they determined that he had pneumonia and they admitted him (some of that ER time was just waiting for a room up in the Children's Hospital wing). So Peter spent the night (Hubby and I ended up switching places, with help from a friend, and I spent the night with Peter). He was discharged the next day and we were home by lunch time. He has been doing so much better since!!

Since coming home, he has been using the nebulizer three times a day, is on an antibiotic, and is running around playing like any normal 3 year old. He sounds great! Now we're also dealing with a horrible diaper rash (thanks to the antibiotic) which I believe is now also a yeast infection. So we have probiotics to help with that and I need to call and see if I can get a prescription diaper cream. Oh the fun!

The Children's Hospital has a program (unit? something?) called Child's Play. We were visited on Saturday by a lady from the program who asked if she could get us any movies or toys. At that point I knew we were being discharged soon, so I told her maybe a couple puzzles to help us pass the little bit of time we had left. She came back with a pack of three puzzles and a Batman toy. AND ... she said we could keep them. They were all brand new and in the packages still! I was shocked! And grateful. Peter was SO excited. Once we were home he insisted on taking pictures with his new toys.
This is a "monster" truck the pediatrician gave him on Friday.
She was his best friend after that!

Peter with his Batman toy. SO excited!!


Garden update!! We have stuff growing! Hubby even picked some of the yellow squash:
Our first vegetable harvest! Ever!

BONUS take: I had the opportunity to review a DVD from Ignatius Press! It got published on Catholic Sistas last Friday. Check it out HERE. I enjoyed having the opportunity to do a review for them and I hope I'll get to do some more.

Jen Fulwiler, usual host of 7 Quick Takes, is busy with the Edel Gathering this weekend. I hope there will be more such gatherings in the years to come. You can follow the event at hashtag #edel14. So, filling in for Jen this week is Carolyn Svellinger. I'll be linking up to her post. Go on over and visit and check out all the Quick Takes posts!! It'll be a fun time.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Garden Update

Thursdays are usually for Small Successes at, but I'm not feeling all that successful at the moment, even with the small stuff. Instead, how about an update on our little garden!

A few weeks ago I posted pictures HERE of our new garden getting started. Just the finished boxes, put in place, and filled up ready to go. Since then we've been watching it slowly grow. Here are just a few current pictures.

So here is a view of the full garden. My husband put together a cage of sorts with some PVC pipe and a green mesh and put it over the bush beans that you see on the left side of the picture. We have lots of rabbits around here and they like the bean leaves. So far, no rabbits have gotten in. Next to the beans Hubby planted a bell pepper plant and one plant each of yellow squash and zucchini. In the box in the back of the picture are 4 tomato plants (where Hubby is standing) and basil.

It's a teeny tiny bell pepper!! Isn't it cute? It's about an inch tall. I can't believe we are growing things that we'll be able to eat one day. Can you tell I'm a total newbie to this. I'm sure my husband is amused.

We also have the start of some tomatoes. I tried to get a picture, but apparently I wasn't very successful.

And just for fun, here is how my children like to ride their bikes: over to the landscaped corner of the yard where they can play in the dirt. And apparently it is cool to pile the dirt on the seat of the bikes. Doesn't that sound like fun? I don't think so, but I'm not a three year old boy. The three year old boys find it incredibly fun! They crack me up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Lawn Chair Catechism, Week 6: Union Workers

I gave myself a challenge this summer to read along with the book A Well-Built Faith and to blog about it. I knew it would be hard to squeeze in the time to not only read but to also write a blog post each week. And since this is week 6 and it's only my 3rd post, I'm obviously not quite meeting the challenge. But here we are once again, I'm not giving up! So on to our Law Chair Catechism discussion:

This chapter was chock full of information! Full to the brim! I don't even know where to start, so it's good that we have access to the leader's guide with some helpful discussion questions. The first two questions really get to the heart of what I took away from this chapter. I'll just touch on each of those.

What does it mean to say that spirituality is not just a slice of the pie that represents our life, but is the whole pie?

There is an exercise in this chapter where Paprocki lists several things that make up our daily life (work/school, eating, sleeping, play, family, exercise, spirituality, etc.) and asks the reader to create a pie chart in which you show what percentage of your time is spent on each of these things. I've done something similar to this before in leadership/management classes or workshops and in a "Seven Habits," Steve Covey seminar I did once. I was tempted to do it again because it is always an eye opener, but I ended up skipping it. I knew what it would reveal and it wouldn't have been pretty.

What I wasn't expecting was for Paprocki to then tell us that the spirituality component shouldn't be just one small (likely embarrassingly small) slice of the pie, but it should encompass the whole pie. Everything we do should revolve around our spirituality.

Reminds me of when St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.

Then I read this question and I thought about recent events. Hold onto your hats, I'm delving into current events:

The Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court lawsuit that came out this week is all a result of people who are trying to live and breath their spirituality. Their religion, their faith, their spirituality has infused itself so much into their daily lives that it influences their work life as well. It is commendable.

It is so easy to check our religion at the door, to keep it to that one hour on Sundays and not bring it home with us. But then we are nothing but frauds. We need to remember always that we are sons and daughters of God. We need to be charitable and loving to all those we come in contact with so that they wonder what makes us so special. We need to let our Catholic faith influence how we do our business, raise our families, and interact with our everyone we meet in our lives. We need to consider what our faith teaches us when we vote for public officials and people to represent us on every level of government.

That is freaking hard! Yes, we are going to fail. But we need to keep trying ("Always we begin again" as St. Benedict says). We should set aside time throughout our days to stop what we are doing and spend even just a few moments in prayer. We should make our work a prayer, whether your work is filing sales reports, cleaning the house, working at a retail store, going to school, changing diapers, running a business, whatever it is offer it up as a prayer.

This is something that will be a difficult challenge for me. But I think (I hope) I'm up for it.

What's the difference between belonging to the Church and being the Church?

It's so easy to think of church in terms of the parish we attend each week. That's the "church" where we know people, where we give our money, and where we spend time each week. We may know intellectually that our one parish is part of a much bigger, universal, world-wide Church, but it's often hard to completely grasp what that means. We don't see it, especially if we live in an area with only one Catholic Church.

I think for me, as I came back into the Church fully, I got a sense of the world-wide Church on a smaller scale by being a member of the Cathedral parish in my diocese. Between that and some involvement I had for a short time on the diocesan level I was able to expand my horizons some and see the Church as a bigger body than just my one parish. Of course, the Church (with a capitol C) is 100+ times bigger than that. But the point is, I, all of us, don't just belong to a parish or belong to the Church, we are the Church.

There would be no Church without the people, you and I, in it. Reminds me of the song that goes "We are all one body ..." (which I realize is based on Scripture, but the song is what popped into my head first). Jesus came to save and he left us a Church so that we could all be one. He didn't leave us a building, he left us a leader. We just celebrated the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul this past Sunday. Jesus called Peter the "rock" upon which He would build His Church. Peter was just a man, a poor fisherman, but he became the leader of the Apostles and the foundation upon which the Church was built.

How interesting that it was a person. We are all people and together we make up the one body that is the Church. When I think of it that way I really begin to see how much bigger the Church is then just the millions (billions?) of people on this earth who are members of the Catholic faith. Do you see it, too? It's the communion of saints!

The communion of saints: all those who have been received into Heaven, all those who are being cleansed in Purgatory, and all of us here on earth, still fighting the good fight. All of us together, saints in heaven and saints-in-the-making on earth are members of the Church. We ARE the Church.

How cool is that?

For more discussion on Chapter 6 of A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe by Joe Paprocki, go visit the Week 6 discussion at