Friday, April 30, 2010
Religion is often seen by critics as a set of old-fashioned rules; Thou shall not ____. Especially during our youth, culture teaches us that it is OK to experiment with our new freedom and do whatever we please. What authority does religion have over me? Just like toddlers, what we often fail to remember is that our loving Father established the Church, and He knows what is best for us, even if we do not fully understand. I did not say "No" to my son to make him miserable, but because I love him deeply and care for his well-being. Similarly, not having sex outside of marriage is not a "rule" that God made simply to make life more difficult for us. Rather, chastity and purity are wonderful virtues that protect our hearts and free us from painful heartbreak and attachment to broken relationships.
In John 8:31-32, "Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" But what is this the freedom that Jesus is referring to? Jesus is saying that in knowing Him, the Christ himself, we will be free. His truth will liberate us from the illusions of this world and the slavery of sin. Just as a child who finally trusts that touching a burning oven will cause pain, we will know that the Church and her teachings are a beautiful blessing from our Father; meant to guide us, protect us and provide meaning to our lives. We are deeply loved, and as Christians, we can find nothing but joy and liberation in this.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I realized that the Lord blesses me every day I'm alive. There is always a reason to praise him (even in the storms) and I can't lose my joy or my hope. If He wants me to stay home tomorrow to save gas, well then I should feel lucky to get to stay home. We are truly a blessed people and we must always do our best to show it! (But really God, couldn't you have pointed out the wrong phone number on the resume ???)
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
When I had my second son, John Paul, I felt completely different, mentally, than with Tony. I actually felt ready, like being a mother and wife was really what God planned for me. I remember in the hospital after John Paul was born feeling so....normal. It was like he had always been with me. Once we brought him home the feeling changed a little while trying to adapt to having two babies and not one. Now, more than a year later, everything the two boys do is new and exciting and our life is crazy sometimes but I wouldn't want it any other way.
We have a third baby coming in August and I have to admit I am a little nervous about having three. It is hard going to the grocery store with a one year old in the cart seat and a 2 1/2 year old in the cart throwing everything out of the cart but where does the third baby go? Is my double stroller going to turn into a 3 baby stroller like I have heard happens (one in each of the seats and a third in the basket underneath)? Mass is a whole other issue. Right now my husband and I go in shifts and only go as a family when there is a special occasion, but those special occasions will be tough when we are outnumbered especially if the church doesn't have a cry room. These are only a few challenges that lie ahead but I feel that with humility, lots of patience, prayer and God's grace I will be able to pull through. After all God does't give you anything you can't handle....right?
As far as getting ready for the dress dare goes I am excited that I can wear non-maternity skirts. Pregnant ladies out there in need of skirts I highly recommend the Old Navy roll over jersey skirts. They have maternity ones also, but the regular ones fit fine with a belly and are really comfy to wear. God Bless everyone and have a good week.
Monday, April 26, 2010
So having a newborn is really throwing me off. I didn't even know it was Earth Day until we were watching our favorite NBC shows and realized that the peacock logo was green. Anywho, for my belated salute to the earth, I'd like to present you with "A Case for Cloth and other reusable things."
Sunday, April 25, 2010
If you ask me which article of clothing I cannot live without, I will not hesitate to answer: my pair of jeans. I am one of those crazy people who pays a fortune for designer denim, because it is oh-so worth it. I wear them out until there are holes in my knees and the hems are completely fringed. And sometimes I wear them anyways, despite rips and tears. I can fancy them up with a cute blouse and some jewelery, or dress them down with a pair of flip-flops. It sounds cliche, but when I wear my jeans, I feel confident, comfortable, and I feel like me.
That being said, you can probably guess how much I am looking forward to the Dress Dare. Can I really hang up my beloved jeans for an entire month? Why put myself through the torture? Insert my childish response here: "Because someone dared me to..."
God made men and women equal in dignity. We each have different strengths and gifts, and we complement each other in a profound way that bears the image of our creator. I have never felt called to wear skirts and dresses for the same reason that many admirable Christian women have witnessed to me. Nevertheless, I love being a woman and am proud of my femininity. I am always striving for ways to better understand my mission as a woman, and to draw closer to the Father by using the gifts that He has given me.
During what history labels as the feminist movement, women unfortunately felt that they needed to reject all aspects of femininity in order to compete with men and prove themselves to be "better". In the context of how women have been treated in some past civilizations, it is understandable why these "feminists" felt anger towards men. In fact, these conflicts can be traced back to the fall of man. Scripture says that after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, God said to Eve: Your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master (Gn 3: 16). In other words, as a result of original sin, it is a natural temptation for men to desire domination over women, and for women to be submissive to them in a disordered way.
The efforts to fight this disharmony between sexes continues to have a great impact on our society today. In completely rejecting femininity, virtues such as humility, service, patience, selflessness, charity, maternity, kindness ect., are often looked down upon in our secular world. They are seen as signs of "weakness". Nevertheless, these are all virtues that Mary, the most holy of all creatures, demonstrated in her life on earth. She is the model of all women, and the one who defines feminine beauty in every aspect.
I strongly believe that true feminism does not mean rejecting our womanhood and becoming like men. Feminism is being aware of the great dignity of my mission as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher and person. Femininity is important, and a beautiful blessing that we should be proud of. Does this mean that wearing a skirt will really bring me closer to God? Will the dress dare help to make me more perfectly feminine, in a way that I can fulfill my personal vocation? I don't know the answer to these questions yet, but it seems worthwhile to explore. If anything, I am looking forward to spending the month of May reflecting and meditating over femininity and Mary. Will you join me in this experience and discussion about femininity?
P.S. Please pray for me, since I am bound to have some SERIOUS denim withdrawals up ahead of me.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Only 1 more week until the Dress Dare begins!
The challenge is to wear dresses and skirts for the entire month of May. Leggings and stockings are allowed. Pants are acceptable when exercising or sleeping. Our goal is to discover, inspire and encourage femininity, so dare to be different and don't worry too much about fashion.
Over the 31-days, Defining Beauty bloggers will be reflecting on our Dress Dare experiences. Please feel free to comment on your progress or write your own blogs about how the challenge is affecting your daily life and focus on femininity.
And remember to stay centered on the mission and keep it modest!
Friday, April 23, 2010
I spent the early part of this week celebrating my little one's first birthday. I love him to pieces, but this year has been very difficult. It is easy for me to point everything that has gone "wrong" to one problem: my son's inability to sleep.
Before I became a parent, I was fully prepared to trade sleeping in for 6AM Saturday morning cartoons. I knew that my newborn would wake up at night to feed. I understood that there would be teething bouts all the way through toddlerhood, where my husband and I would have to console our aching baby for a few nights in a row. What I did not expect was that one year later, I would still be awoken every hour. I did not expect that I would spend half of my day trying to sooth my baby to sleep for naps and throughout the night.
It is a good thing that I did not know, because sometimes I wonder if I would have had the courage to get on board. I have spent many hours complaining, crying and praying, "Dear Lord, why won't my baby sleep?" There have been many days when I even felt that this situation was bringing me to the point of depression. How could I possibly go on physically, mentally, spiritually with this never ending fast from sleep?
Well, it is a year later and I am still here. No, he is not sleeping much better yet, but I've accepted this fact (on most days). More importantly, I have learned that my son's sleeplessness and my body's sleep deprivation are not the problem. The problem all along has been my lack of humility.
Humility in its truest sense, is the recognition of our relationship to God. To be humble we must always remember who He is, and who we are. God made us to love, worship and serve Him. We do not become saints by doing what we want, or what we think God's will should be, but by doing His will for us in the everyday circumstances He sends us. Every minute of our day is from God, and it is up to us to offer it back to him prayerfully and dutifully. In my case, staying joyful despite getting fewer zzz's is a pleasing act of humility to God.
When we lack humility, we often feel resentful, depressed, frustrated and angry with situations. Our responsibilities become burdensome and our daily crosses become very heavy. Sacrifice seems meaningless, and love lacks in our lives. If we remember however, who God is to us and that each moment IS His will for us, we feel that we can find joy and meaning in our suffering. Even if for the rest of my life I never sleep longer than an hour, I will be at peace because I will be surrendering to God's will.
Another beautiful thing I've noticed specifically about sleep is that it is one of our basic needs. God created our bodies to NEED rest. Similarly to discomfort felt from fasting, my exhaustion can serve as a humbling reminder in itself for me of how much I depend on God, because He made me this way. By "fasting" from sleep, I take attention away from myself and draw my rest and replenishment from a different source: God.
Humility reminds us that God is in charge. We might not understand His will, but it is by following Christ's example and surrendering everything to the Father that will lead us to heaven. Now, please remind me to reread this post daily-- because forgetfulness is a side effect of sleep deprivation and of humanity.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today, I encourage you to give your dad a hug. If you can't hug your dad today, then tell him you love him. In my family, saying "I love you" is always foreign and awkward (we're not "lovey-dovey" with each other), but I'd give anything for the chance to do it now.
My dad died of stage four pancreatic cancer. He was not a likely candidate for it and died shortly after his fiftieth birthday. He was a quiet, intelligent man whose hobbies included reading, gardening, sports and running.
If you have a garden, tend to it today in memory of him. And eat well, because you want to live years beyond age fifty.
If you're reading a good book right now, enjoy it and put it down after the end of the chapter so that you can spend time with your family.
If you like to run for exercise, maintain your discipline and get screened for cancer yearly. Your health is well worth it.
And if you like sports, watch some hockey today in memory of him, enjoy the fun moments in life with loved ones and try not to take life too seriously all the time.
It's probably human nature for us to not fully appreciate what we have until it's gone, but nonetheless, give your dad a hug for me, because I'd love to have that opportunity.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I think the dress dare will be hard for me. I wear pants/capris everyday and only dresses and skirts on Sundays for Mass or special occasions. Last summer I wanted to try wearing skirts a lot but that didn't really last long. I think that skirts/dresses definitely make me act and feel more feminine than a pair of jeans. I sit differently, maybe do a twirl here and there to make my boys laugh, and I always get comments from my husband.
Anyway, it will be interesting and I will keep up with the posting to let you all know how it's going.
but so far all the girls I've told about the Dress Dare just give me tons of reasons why skirts are *not* more feminine than pants and that it's all social contrivance.
Jesus and William Wallace both wore skirts, etc.
I told them that even if they didn't think they were more feminine intrinsically, it could be something they could do just to remind them to act more feminine, like a rubber band around your wrist or a string around your finger.
Anyone else running into this kind of reaction?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Docker's new ad has come just in time for our May Dress Challenge! Their new ad for men says "Wear the Pants." It's an entire campaign that is trying to call men on to reclaim their manhood! WOW! Below is an excerpt from a news article (with the link attached) that includes the Dockers "Man-ifesto." I included the news articles commentary statement because I thought it was a great way to put things. THANK YOU DOCKERS for your efforts! I'll try to buy my husband a pair (when they go on sale)!
A reader sent in this full-page New York Times ad from Dockers’ new campaign, “Wear The Pants.” Apparently, the clothing company is attempting to re-cast khakis as a “call of manhood,” man’s three-ply cotton twill answer to the androgynous evils of our “genderless society.” That’s right: Khakis.
Here’s the full text of what Dockers is calling its “Man-ifesto”
Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands diry. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
"I do not understand why some people are saying that women and men are exactly the same, and are denying the beautiful differences between men and women. All God's gifts are good, but they are not all the same. As I often say to people who tell me that they would like to serve the poor as I do, "What I can do, you cannot. What you can do, I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God." It is just this way with the differences between women and men.
God has created each one of us, every human being, for greater things-- to love and to be loved. But why did God make some of us men and others women? Because a woman's love is one image of the love of God, and a man's love is another image of God's love. Both are created to love, but each in a different way. Woman and man complete each other, and together show forth God's love more fully than either can do it alone.
That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also be thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of "freedom" can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God's gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women-- the ability to love as a woman."
Thursday, April 15, 2010
At this point, the idea of not being sick every 2 months is motivation enough!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I have learned so much in just 12-months. Just to name a few...
Things said at 3AM need not, and should not count against you.
Parenting is not like college- The baby books do not have all (or any) of the answers.
Parenting is 24/7. I heard this several times before he was born, but you really have to experience it for yourself to understand.
Sleep is overrated (yet so wonderful). You can get by on very little.
Grandmothers are blessings.
Your marriage is the priority, and it must be nurtured every day.
Parent on your knees. Pray, pray and pray some more.
It is OK to order take-out, just to avoid doing the dishes.
There is no sound more beautiful than the sweet belly-filled giggles of your little one.
Being able to pee with the bathroom door closed is a luxury.
Sleep is a luxury.
Don't judge other parents, or criticize parenting philosophies. You will end up trying them out at some point.
A baby's smile makes everything better, even during an apocalypse.
It takes a village to raise a child. Don't be afraid to ask for help. (I'm still working on this one.)
Girlfriends are important. Especially girlfriends with babies.
Being able to nurse a baby to sleep is a superpower.
Don't take yourself too seriously. Learn to let things go.
Babies smell really good. REALLY good.
Being "stay-at-home" doesn't mean you have more free time than 9-5ers. Moms feel proud if they can squeeze a shower into their day.
A glass of wine can help.
Your baby is his/her own person. You can love, guide, teach, nurture, protect-- but you cannot control him/her.
Parenthood is God's greatest blessing. Nothing else compares.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Ok - so my family already thinks I'm kinda nuts because we do our weekly grocery shopping at Costco - which means we buy vats of olive oil and 18 eggs a week for a family of 3 and
However - when I went there today, I saw that they were selling bathing suits. Suits that actually looked cute, and then when I walked up to the stand, I realized that "Mod Bod" bathing suits stood for "Modest Body(?)" bathing suits.
I almost couldn't believe it. I started looking through them and a lady came up to me to ask if I needed any help. I told her what a great idea and that I couldn't believe Costco was selling blatantly modest suits. The sales lady said that they were the only suits they were selling, and that she'd only had one lady say that she didn't like them "I wear string." The lady and I agreed that most people don't really have the body to wear string, and even if they do, we don't really want to see them in it. After all, string bikinis don't exactly scream "when looking at me, please see an intelligent women of high morals and greatness of soul."
The sales lady also said that everyone else who stopped had said that they liked both the suits and the idea and were glad that Costco was carrying them. Good for you Everett Washington shoppers!
Now, I'm not sure if they are selling them just in this one store (the headquarters are near by, so they do a lot of product testing around here) but it makes me happy that such a huge chain store is promoting modesty, and seeing that there's a market for it.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I have no doubt that chocolate is a small taste of Heaven. It contributes to our well-being by lowering blood pressure, providing anti-oxidants and even helping to balance our hormones. It stimulates endorphins, contains serotonin, provides us with good fats, and tastes oh-so-good.
Dark, milk, white, nut-filled, truffled, caramel-filled, bittersweet, or creamy... Oh Chocolate, why are you so good to me?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
The other day, High School Musical 3 was on television and Mina and I watched a little bit of it. I figured she'd like the singing and dancing, plus, I've been thoroughly entertained by these movies. While watching it, I realized, my high school story sort of paralleled the main character, Gabriella. I moved to CA from across the country my sophomore year, fell in with the theater crowd, and started dating a guy seriously that same year, and we happened to be paired up several times as a couple on stage. We continued to date into college, just as the picture was painted of Troy and Gabriella going off to colleges only half an hour from one another, living happily ever after. Only, after high school, our relationship ended in a messy breakup with broken hearts and many broken friendships as well because friends naturally take sides. I'm not sure what the folks at Disney have planned for Troy & Gabriella's future, but one thing I do know, is that it's likely unrealistic.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
For a beautiful Holy Week reflection, listen to this podcast:
It's got some beautiful thoughts, my favorite is that when Mary looked at Christ suffering, she saw the price of her Immaculate Conception.