Friday, May 31, 2013

7QT (Vol. 42): OMG is not OK

Last weekend, I watched Parks and Recreation for the first time. It was funny with likable characters. It was also extremely profane. The few expletives were bleeped out, but it seemed that God's name was used in vain roughly every minute. This made me uncomfortable... because I was enjoying the show and trying to just ignore the blasphemy.

I hear God's name profaned a lot, of course. "Everyone" talks that way. It's on the radio, in books, in movies, even in conversations at church. Societal acceptance of sin doesn't make it less sinful, though. After Parks and Recreation, I asked my husband what he thought about us consuming media that treats blasphemy like a non-issue. The next day he came to the same conclusion I had: we cannot be lukewarm about this.

My husband noted that he'd always considered four-letter words worse than blasphemy (even while having no problem with most expletives) growing up, because that's how society reacts. Yet, the Ten Commandments say nothing about "bad words" while explicitly forbidding taking God's name in vain.

This is hard, especially for him. He's an aspiring screenwriter, has frequently watched movies to socialize, and owns a lot of movies. After sorting through our movies last night, he lost almost 50 (to my seven) and has 16 (to my one) that he needs to re-watch to determine suitability. We're losing at least half of our movie collection. We're losing most of Psych, too. We own seasons 1-5 on DVD, so I plan to re-watch those and keep track of what (if any) episodes are good. Psych is my favorite TV show, but between blasphemy and advocating for sex outside of marriage, I'm not sure there will be much to keep.

You might be surprised at some of the movies that didn't make the cut. The Incredibles. Iron Giant. Matilda. Even Babe, which is rated G. Using God's name in vain is so pervasive and accepted, no one gives a second thought to including it in family movies. Guarding against sin is something we have to do for ourselves. In the near future, we'll check our music and books, too. I think this will be easier, since I read mostly fantasy and Christian romance and he reads mostly non-fiction.

We have kept a few with blasphemy. Documentaries, those telling true stories (e.g., Good Night and Good Luck) or describing aspects of our society (e.g., Requiem for a Dream) are not using blasphemy as entertainment; they are depicting what actually happened. Even within this genre, we're only keeping the ones that we believe have an important message. Maybe we're just rationalizing sin by allowing even these in our home, but at this point, we think we are making the right decision.

We're expecting a fair amount of backlash. "You're over-reacting. This is pointless." They'll argue that we can't shield ourselves from everything and it's not like hearing it is the same as saying it. Laughing at racist jokes isn't the same as saying them, either, but it is wrong to give the appearance of supporting sin. And hearing it enough causes us to become complacent. We cannot turn a blind eye to that which offends God.

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 41): Thoughts on Food

So, good news and bad news. Cutting out dairy from my diet has virtually eliminated Anne's gas pains. Her quality of life has improved dramatically, making her a much happier girl. That's the good news.

Bad news is that my husband is a cheese-phile. He was jokingly bemoaning his fate today, now that we've cut dairy from most of our dinners. I reminded him that he still has a cheese sandwich for breakfast and at least one glass of whole milk each day. "Yeah, but I miss my macaroni and cheese." He does make a mean baked mac-n-cheese.

I say we've cut dairy from most of our dinners. We still have quesadillas once or twice a week because Peter and my husband really enjoy them. I have my tortilla spread with peanut butter, sprinkled with raisins, and rolled up. Truthfully, I like it better this way. :-)

I saw this recipe on Facebook yesterday. Cookie cake with no eggs, grain, sugar, gluten, or milk. It is rumored to be excellent. I am almost curious enough to try it.

My friend, who enjoys exaggerating his conservative politics (he cheers for the Empire in Star Wars), was picking a flavor for the Keurig machine tonight. "Columbian fair trade? I don't know about that..." "Yeah, you like yours to taste like oppression."

Not to completely ruin your evening, but I did just learn something awful about Skittles. They replaced the lime with sour apple. I KNOW! Who does that?!

I want your ridiculously cheap recipes that are dairy free. I've had two problems searching the Internet: dairy-free usually brings up vegan (and I'm fine with eggs, for example) and there's no way for me to know if it's any good. So, please share!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pentecost Festivities

Grandpa made Peter a sandbox!

Peter helped with the heavy work.

Fruit salad for fruits of the Spirit

Birthday brownies for the Church (dairy-free!),
with 1980 written in chocolate and peanut butter chips

Monday, May 20, 2013

Saintly Mothers

I think the idea of patron saints is a bit overdone. There are, for example, patron saints of fear of mice and mad dogs. The patron saint of television, Clare of Assisi, lived in the mid-1200s. It seems like patron saints can become a way to market saints rather than strive to imitate their holiness. There are, however, a few patronesses of mothers whose intercession I often ask.

St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. She raised a saint, so must have done something right! That "something" was constant intercessory prayer for her wayward son. She taught him her faith as a child, then stormed Heaven with her prayers when he turned his back on God as a young adult. I struggle to pray as often as I should for my children, so I keep a holy card of St. Monica up in our kitchen, reminding me of the value of prayer.

St. Margaret of Scotland, mother of eight (including St. David). Here was a woman who knew how to get things done: lead by example. Her holiness, manifest in gentle piety and love for the poor, inspired her husband, the king, and the whole of Scotland. When I am feeling frustrated and short-tempered, I remember the most powerful witness to my children and those around me is to be a living example.

Mary, mother of God. Mary, filled with grace, was called to be mother of our Lord. In uncertainty and sorrow, she persevered in living her vocation. She embodied all virtue and serves as an outstanding example for mothers, but that is not the only reason I look to her. Mary made mistakes. She accidentally left her son in Jerusalem when he was twelve! I take comfort in knowing that the mistakes I make with my children do not mean I have failed or am unfit to be their mother.

Friday, May 17, 2013

7QT (Vol. 40): Chicken, Waffle Cones and Gifts - Celebrating Feast Days

Because she is adorable and I didn't use this on Wednesday...

Why the World Doesn't Take Catholicism Seriously is a challenging message well worth your time. The institutional Church cannot fix the problems facing it today. We need saints. Are you willing to answer the call?

Related to living our faith, I'm doing my best to make feast days special. I read that in the Middle Ages, people ate some type of bird on the Ascension to celebrate Jesus "flying" into Heaven. For Ascension Thursday last week, we all had chicken for dinner (or something resembling chicken; it was McDonald's after all).

Last Friday was the feast of St. Damian, who ministered to the lepers in Hawaii. He was originally from Belgium. I had planned to buy waffles (we don't have a waffle maker) and have those for lunch with Peter, but forgot. Instead, we all went out for waffle cones! The feast was also a good way to work in a mini geography lesson for Peter.

Sunday is Pentecost , the birthday of the Church. I haven't totally decided yet what we'll do to celebrate, but obviously we need some kind of birthday party! I'm thinking brownies, since they're dairy-free and hold candles well. And maybe fruit salad for the fruits of the Spirit.

What do you think about gifts? Focus on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, explaining them as best I can to a 2 year old? Give physical gifts? Try to tie the two together? Decisions, decisions.

Though to be honest, activities with him don't always turn out as I expect anyway...

And unrelated, I have a guest post up on Working to Beat Hell. The "readiness-based" model of sacramental preparation has opened the door to a tragic misunderstanding of readiness, especially when considering First Communion in relation to the sacrament of Penance. Read more here (if you didn't read it on Tuesday when I put it on Facebook).

Monday, May 13, 2013

When Quitting is Required

A few weeks ago, I happened to wake up one morning before anyone else. This rarely happens. I took those sacred 15 minutes or so to snuggle up on the couch, watch the sunshine, and meditate on some Psalms. It was beautiful and has prompted me to be more diligent about carving out some time for quiet prayer in my day. The more time I spend simply being with God, the more I hear him tell me, "That is all I ask."

The first time was through a prayer in The Abbey Prayer Book, titled Prayer of Self-Dedication to Jesus. It went deeper than I anticipated. I had to pray it many times before I could pray it sincerely. It will be an ongoing challenge. In this prayer, I not only vow to rely on solely on Christ, but ask him to "take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will." That kind of surrender is scary. How can I survive without my identity and ability to make my own choices? Wouldn't God be better able to use me if I am healthy and whole? Well, probably. But God's ways are above my ways. The best I can offer is all of myself, to use as He desires. All that I am and offer comes from and belongs to God. My gift is my willingness to quit, to give up everything.

Peter during my prayer time. Yes, he's really asleep.

The call came again in the writings of St. Jeanne de Chantal, which I read today while the kids were napping.
Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him. That is all the doing you have to worry about, and the only activity which God asks of you and towards which it is he alone who is drawing you. ... without a wish to see, or feel, or carry out any work, but merely content to remain in his presence - relaxed, at peace, confident, patient, never inspecting self to see how things are going. nor what one is doing, feeling, or enduring. ...One thing alone is necessary: It is to have God. In short, then, no matter what is going on, we must hold both our attention and our love on God, not wasting our time in studying what is happening to ourselves, nor what is its cause. Our Lord asks this of us.
This is so hard for me. I have a hard time not peeking at rice while it's cooking! And the irony is not lost on me that by writing about this, I'm doing exactly what she said not to do...  It's a good thing God is patient with me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 39): Meat Minimalism and a Rain Dance

I was ahead of the game this week and started planning this post on Tuesday, when I noticed how much protein is in cottage cheese. Yesterday, I took Anne for her four month well-child visit and mentioned her frequent, painful, and strong-smelling gas. That, along with another intestinal issue, prompted her pediatrician to suggest I go dairy-free for two weeks and see if that helps. Oh, the irony. Anyway, I'll still share my ideas with you here.

Meat can provide important fats and proteins and, of course, taste delicious. However, it can also be expensive and less eco-friendly than other sources of protein.

If you want to enjoy the flavor of meat while spending less money, you can include it as a part of casserole. We enjoy potato soup flavored with chipped ham and Spanish rice with shredded chicken. In this way, the meat is part of the meal without being the focus. The starchy "side dish" becomes the focus and helps keep the meat serving to the recommended size.

Another option is to reduce the amount of meat from what is recommended in the recipe. When we make our chili recipe, we put in half the ground beef and add another can of beans for flavor and protein.

Also, meat and beans are not the only sources of protein. When I was making lunch earlier this week, I noticed that half a cup of cottage cheese has more than twice the amount of protein in a hot dog. Now, of course it's debatable if a hot dog should be called meat, but the point remains. Dairy has protein!

Soy and tofu are also good sources of protein, although I don't have much experience with them. The tofu I've had wasn't very good, but that may have been just prepared in a way I didn't like. I do like soy milk, though, which is good since I'm off cow's milk for the foreseeable future.

And in a totally unrelated final take, Peter dancing in the rain today!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blessed be the Lord

Goodness of days
full of snuggles and giggles
tantrums and cries
made better by hugs and kisses

Love in so many faces

A heart of prayer
aching for the least of these
unsure of the path

Nights of questions
sometimes desperation

This is the day the Lord has made
let us rejoice and be glad in it

Saturday, May 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 38): Scripture and Life

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. Luke 1:38
Maybe it's that simple. I don't need to "do enough", in fact, can't do enough. I need only give my yes and allow it to be done to me.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
What is popular is not always right. I have a mind for a reason and should use it!

So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
I may be the only Gospel someone hears. I can't afford to be spiritually lazy and risk turning someone away from God.

Do everything without grumbling or questioning, Philippians 2:14
Eek. Not only do what is right, but do so cheerfully, being content with the will of God and bearing the failures of others and myself.

morning smile

Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!
There are times when I feel isolated and misunderstood. I take comfort knowing that God cares for me, loves me, and will protect me.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
My body is so wonderful that God himself dwells within me. Powerful stuff. Can't think of a better reason to take good care of myself!

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
I am never alone. It is well with my soul.