Monday, December 18, 2017

O Baby!

I realize it's been quite a while since my last post, and I haven't been keeping up with my resolution to post at least once a week . . . for oh, the last six months or so.  But here's why . . . you see, pregnant.  With a beautiful baby girl, who we'll call Calamity Jane in these posts.  And between pregnancy and work and all the other things in life that keep marching on, this blog has taken a back burner.  And will likely continue to do so for quite a while.
But I wanted to take a moment and comment on the beauty of God's grace and how I would not be this far along with this pregnancy and this peaceful about ALL THE THINGS if it wasn't for His grace working in me and through the people around me.  I have always known (or at least for the past twenty years or so) that my vocation is a wife and mother.  The first year of marriage (which was incredible, full of growth and love) was also met with some impatience and disappointment . . . because as much as I wanted to, we didn't get pregnant immediately.  It took a good ten months, but thank goodness for God's timing.  He really does know EXACTLY what we need and when, regardless of what we may have in mind.  Turns out those ten months were a Godsend for many reasons, and I know my marriage is a million times stronger facing this new change in our lives than if we'd gotten pregnant right away.
And then in July we found out we were pregnant with our little bundle of joy, and we couldn't have been more thrilled!  Sure, there were stresses and new things to consider . . . bills; work; doctors; delivery; baby stuff.  You know . . . life with a baby on the way.  And every day I thank God for my amazing husband who has been so incredible these past six months, comforting me when I'm freaking out about anything and everything, soothing away the nightmares, supporting me and reassuring me that everything will work out when insurance and money seem to be acting against me, and just being there as an incredible rock.  I am so very blessed, and so is Calamity, to have this man in my life.  And I know he's going to make an incredible father.
And then God works through our family and their support, encouragement, and excitement.  When I'm feeling exhausted, or sore, or just so ready to be done being pregnant, I remember how excited my sisters are about being aunts or how the grandparents were overjoyed (and still are) at the thought of a new baby!  And the first grandbaby on either side . . . lots of pressure, right? ;)  But honestly, I am eternally grateful for their love and support.  And advice.  Lots of advice.  But all given with love and taken gladly.  And my friends, my dearest, closest friends who have been there for me through thick and thin.  They have been a Godsend as well . . . truly angels on earth for me.  Whether I'm super excited, or anxious, or nervous, or scared, or done with the day, or impatient, or happy . . . they always know what to say.  And I know God's grace is what brought these wonderful people into my life.
And so it's by God's grace that I pray to be a good mother and wife, to fulfill my duties and obligations well, to shower love upon this child and many more to come, and to raise them in the Catholic faith with the help of my husband as we solemnly take on the duty of leading their souls to Heaven.  What an awesome responsibility, and with God's help, we will do our very best.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women Always Have To Remember

Wow . . . three weeks since my last post . . . and today's topic perfectly explains WHY it's taken three weeks for me to write another post.  Because I've been completely and utterly burnt out the last three weeks doing ALL the things (and please note, this is NOT a complaint . . . just an observation).  Anyway, a friend of mine shared this article with me (You Should've Asked), and a lot of it summarized perfectly how I've been feeling.  However, because I don't agree with all of the article, I'm going to write my own post drawing from it.

Image result for householdFirst, "You should've asked."  Now, this question is not something I ask . . . I don't tend to ask for help.  I tend to take care of ALL the things myself until I burn out and explode . . . like the pot of food on the stove.  And granted, there is a part of me that wishes people would just help out without my asking.  So women tend to be the managers of the household . . . as is their rightful place.  After all, that's our role - to raise the family and keep things running while our husbands are out providing for us.  And it is a beautiful role.  (So here's my first disagreement . . . men are not underlings in the household.  They are members and partners.  They just have a different role in the household.)  Besides, the managing role tends to come naturally to the wife in matters of the household . . . groceries; chores; bills; etc.  

Now, this article implies that men should just know what to do without being told . . . which completely disregards the fact that men and women think and process things VERY differently.  Women tend to think like a ball of string . . . ALL the things are connected . . . while men tend to think in boxes, i.e. one thing at a time.  This means that if you ask your husband to get something out of the dishwasher, he'll get it out . . . but he won't necessarily think that this also implies he should empty and load the dishwasher.  So women, we need to get better at vocalizing exactly what we'd like help with.  And men, it would help if you would take notice of those things that we do ask for help so that you can do more without us asking.

You should've asked_013Anyways, the fact that women of the household are constantly managing and thinking of all the things means that we have a mental load that never disappears . . . we ALWAYS have to remember.  Men, this post is NOT intended to shame you or make you feel like you're not doing everything you're supposed to.  Rather, it's meant to explain (hopefully) a little more clearly why your wives may be more exhausted than you expect when you get home.  And also to keep you from showing up and asking why we're so tired when all we did was stay home all day.  Don't say that.  

We want your help, and sometimes we want you to pitch in and help with the chores.  And I'll admit that it can be rather exhausting to come up with ALL the things I need help with rather than just doing it myself.  But then I remember that I won't get any help if I don't ask.  And if I don't ask, then I'll burn out.  And my husband is very good at asking if I need help . . . although I don't tend to be very good at coming up with things that he can help with.  

The second part of the "You Should've Asked" article that I disagree with is that men are refusing to take on their share of the mental load when they say "let me know if you need help."  I think they just don't know what the mental load is like . . . they're programmed to handle things at work or in the office.  That's their sphere.  That's their role.  And it is a good thing.  Because that way we, the wives, don't have to handle all the work things.  And managing all the household things comes naturally to us . . . after all, we are the ones at home.  So rather than looking at this as a negative, look at the fact that they ask if they can help you out as a blessing.  And be prepared with a few things they can do.

You should've asked_027Third, I completely and utterly disagree with the insinuation that conditioning society to view women as mothers and wives and men as heroes, aka workers, is wrong.  This is the way it SHOULD BE.  Rather, our society today is conditioned to think that women should do it ALL . . . career; family; household.  And that's where the discrepancy and frustration comes from.  Because women are essentially asked to handle two full-time jobs (career and home) while men still only have the one.  Now, if you choose (or need) to have a dual-income home, then you and your spouse should communicate, discuss, and adapt as need be to alleviate stress.  But essentially, the solution to this "mind load" issue is about both parties gaining a better understanding of the demands laid upon each other and how they can help each other.  After all, marriage is a partnership . . . and it will only succeed if both parties work together.

So I'm not sure if all of that makes sense . . . or connects properly.  Essentially, the wife and mother manages ALL the things at home, and it's a never-ending list that keeps repeating in her head.  And this is exhausting, in and of itself.  Then you add actually DOING all the things on that list . . . and yeah, it's no wonder women are so exhausted all the time.  So husbands, please understand the load placed upon your wives.  Give them the gift of patience and understanding when dinner is late or the kids are screaming.  Give them the gift of offering to help with a particular chore or asking if there's anything you can do.  Give them the gift of a bouquet to brighten their day or a moment of peace as you wrangle the kids after dinner.  And wives, ASK for help.  While the household is your burden, it is not yours to bear alone.  We've shifted away from a society where women had a support system in their small village.  Now we must create that support for ourselves, so don't knock yourself down when you don't get everything done.  Rejoice in the things you accomplish and move on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Solemn Oath

As some of you may know, I was admitted to the Florida Bar this past week.  After law school and the bar exam, the professional responsibility test and passing character & fitness, I was deemed a worthy candidate for the practice of law in the State of Florida.  While I may or may not actively practice, the Oath of Admittance is a solemn one:

I do solemnly swear:
I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.
I will maintain the respect due to Courts of Justice and Judicial Officers.
I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land.
I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the Judge or Jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law.
I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with their business except from from them or with their knowledge and approval.
To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.
I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged.
I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice.  So help me God.
Reading through it again gives me chills . . . the good kind.  It's a weighty task with which lawyers are charged.  And yes, there are definitely those of the profession who serve less than satisfactorily.  But this oath embodies the ideal to which we should strive.  And the conduct which it prescribes has a broader application - to all aspects of our lives and all interactions.  We should act with truth and honor.  We should keep the secrets entrusted to us (with exceptions).  We should act fairly and civilly with integrity and strength of conviction.  We should be kind and refrain from offensive personality.  And we should champion the defenseless and oppressed!  So help me God!  

Just ponder the words and think for a moment about how they could apply in your life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Oh the Places You'll Go

Look at that sass - age 4.
This coming weekend is bittersweet.  My baby sister (ok, not the baby . . . actually, 2nd oldest in our family, but still) is graduating from college!  And my middle sister is about to graduate from high school and start college in the fall.  And the next two aren't far behind.  With my sister's graduation from college comes her moving back home, 1000+ miles away from me.  It has been amazing to have her down here, and I'm going to miss her terribly!  But I know God has great plans in store for her, and I can't wait to see where He leads her next!  So this post is for her.  
Rachel & Rebekah - 1995

Rachel, I have watched you grow up from the moment you were born.  I was so excited to finally have a little sister!  And I also thought your baby clothes were particularly adorable . . . and was rather adamant that they still fit me . . . even though I was almost 5 years old when you were born.  Over the years, I know I haven't been the bestest friend big sister I could have been . . . I distinctly remember many years of "playing" where I was more interested in setting up the Playmobile than in actually playing with it . . . sorry about that.

Summer 2009 - the middle one is starting college this fall!
And then I went to college, and you were suddenly the eldest at home.  And how I missed you all so much!  I didn't get to see you grow up and blossom into a beautiful young lady.  I didn't get to see our younger sisters grow from toddlers to teenagers.  But I got to see you on holidays and hopefully make up for some of the lost time.

Mackinac Island, 4th of July, 2011
And then I graduated from college and moved away from home . . . a good growing experience for me, but still too far from you.  And then I moved even farther away when God called me to law school in Florida.  And I went . . . no idea about what He was planning or where I was going.

Fall 2013 - your 1st semester
Which is why I was so incredibly happy that you decided to come to Florida for college . . . because it meant that you were only a short drive away instead of thousands of miles!  I got to see you!  And get to know you again!  And see what an amazing young woman you were becoming.  A woman of grace and faith, with that beautiful and warm smile and all the enthusiasm of a new college student.  And I know I didn't visit as often as I should have, but I loved every moment I got to spend with you!

Don't mess with Skiba Girls.
And we had fun.  Lots of outings and adventures, just you and me.  Exploring all that Naples had to offer.  I still want to go back to the Botanical Gardens some day with you for another awesome photo shoot.  You have no idea how much spending time with you helped ME get through law school and life in general.  You were there whenever I needed my sister, even though I'm the big sister.  The past four years have been incredible.

St. Augustine, FL - May 2015
And then it was my turn to graduate (again).  I graduated from law school, but thankfully I got to stay in Florida near you!  Enjoying the sunshine when we could and working through your last two years of college together.  And yes, by this time you were dating . . . an incredible young man.  :)  And I was dating.  And we were dating together.  And it was ALL the drama and ALL the fun and ALL the planning and dreaming.  And then you'd go home for the summer, and I'd miss you terribly.  

But then there was that one summer you stayed in Florida, and I got to see you more!  And we had more photo shoots.  :)  And I got to see you grow up into the amazing, beautiful, and talented young woman you are today!

SeaWorld November 2015
And I am forever grateful that I got to celebrate at least some of the hallmarks in your life thus far - like your 21st birthday!  Skiba girl style, of course.  That trip to SeaWorld with you was one of the best trips I've ever had!  I hope you look back on it with as much fondness as I do.  And the next time you're in Florida, maybe we can go again?

Orlando, FL - April 2016
And we continued to grow together.  There was that trip to the financial conference (and SeaWorld) where we saw in action everything our father has striven to teach us regarding finances and the future.  And more than I thought had stuck . . . and still sticks.

The Best Sisters EVER!
Wedding September 2016
And then you were there for me as I went through my engagement and preparing for my wedding and marriage.  You were the absolute BEST Maid of Honor I could have asked for.  You talked me through all my fears and frustrations.  You helped me find the perfect dress.  You kept everything running smoothly so that I didn't have to worry.  I want you to know how much I appreciate that!  I couldn't have done it without you.

And now, over the past 8 months, you've finished college.  You are taking the next steps in your adult life, and I know you're scared and excited and nervous and relieved.  You're ALL the things.  Just remember, sangria is best with a friend, phone calls are life lines, and I will ALWAYS be here for you . . . no matter what!  I love you so much, and I can't wait to see where God takes you next!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Time Capsule

Spring Formal 2009 - 8 Years Ago
Apologies for the rambling nature of this post.  My brain is still recovering from the inevitable lack of sleep from an incredible weekend visiting one of my best friends.  Those of you on Facebook, I'm sure, have noticed the "On This Day" feature . . . where it shows you back through the years what you were posting, doing, etc. on this day in years past.  Often, I look at the status updates and wonder what I was possibly doing . . . and other times they serve as a reminder of how far I've come in my faith and life journey.  And, more often than not, they remind me just how blessed my life has been and is.

VA Trip 2017
Take a moment today to think about the blessings in your life, both present and past.  Thank God for them.  And don't take them for granted! Today I am grateful for family and friends.  And especially the wonderful gift of modern technology and transportation - the things that allow me to keep close to my friends even when 1000s of miles separate us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recipe Corner - (Sweet) Potato Roses

This was my first year hosting Easter dinner, and I was excited to try out a new recipe I saw on Facebook:

I adapted the recipe somewhat - using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and no cheese.  But they were super easy AND super scrumptious!

Pre-baked roses looked so pretty!
I sliced the sweet potatoes using my handy mandoline (definitely a MUST HAVE for any kitchen).  Swirled the spices in the olive oil, layered the potato slices over a slice of bacon, spread the oil, and rolled them up.  Easy peasy.  I ended up using a mini muffin pan for baking . . . I'd advise toothpicks to hold them together if you're using a regular size muffin pan.

Turkey from Honey Baked Ham
Sweet Potato Roses from my kitchen!
Then I baked them, and they smelled delicious!  I am definitely making these again.  They were a huge hit at dinner, and my husband said I can make them any time I want.  

What are some of your favorite holiday dishes?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On Your Own Time

It's been almost two years (July 2015) since I first took the Florida Bar Exam (an awful experience), and then a few months later found out that I had failed . . . by 1/2 of a point . . . not even a full question.  At that point, I took it as a sign and a blessing from God that I didn't HAVE to be an attorney . . . seeing as I've never wanted to practice law.  While my immediate family and closest friends understood that and didn't really pressure me to retake it, I spent many months fending off inquiries, motivational speeches, and guilt trips from pretty much everyone else.  And all that pressure?  Nobody wanted to accept that I was completely and utterly FINE with not passing.  They just couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that my goal in life was (and still is) to be a wife and mother.

Fast forward to September or October 2016.  I'd spent the last YEAR explaining and re-explaining my attitude towards the bar exam and how I was absolutely, positively NOT retaking it.  Ever.  And while many people would love to take credit for what happened in the past six months, it was my decision, on my time, and for my reasons.  See, the first time I took the bar exam . . . it was like pulling teeth.  I didn't want to take it at all, but everyone convinced me that if I was graduating from law school, I had to at least try.  So I did.  I studied diligently.  I completed 100% of the bar prep program.  And I failed.  By 1/2 a point.  When people asked afterwards why I failed, I said it was (a) reading too fast and missing one of the triple or quadruple negatives PLUS (b) the fact that my heart wasn't in it.  Anyway, back to six months ago, I finally had my own reasons for retaking the exam - I wanted a backup plan in a worst case scenario, and I wanted to be able to help my husband with legal matters if we ever started our own firm.  So I looked at my old paperwork . . . and it turns out I only had to retake one portion of the exam, and my other scores were still good.  So I took the plunge, signed up, and started studying.  Of course, I wasn't going to spend $$$$$ on another bar prep program, but I did use many resources in the library to study - mainly hundreds of multiple choice questions.

Fast forward to February 2017.  I'd mostly forgotten the reasons WHY I decided to retake the exam, but it was too late to back out.  So there I was . . . sitting in the same room again, forcing myself to read "slowly."  I still finished with almost an hour to spare, and that freaked a lot of people out.  But whatever.  I've always finished exams super early.  When I walked out, people asked how I thought it went.  I very confidently told them that I got two questions right . . . out of two hundred.  And that was it.  I didn't have my hopes set on passing.  I didn't think I passed.  I didn't care if I did or not.  I'd tried again, and that was that.

Fast forward to April 10, 2017.  Bar exam scores were released.  I checked.  And double-checked.  And checked about another hundred times.  Yep.  The file number was correct.  The sheet said I passed and was ready to be admitted to the bar.  I admit I was shaking when I first read it . . . I mean, I passed the Florida Bar Exam!  Yahoo!  But I still don't plan on really practicing . . . except in an assistatory capacity with my husband.  And everyone so far that I've told has been far more excited than I am.  But I do feel blessed, and I'm sure God's got a reason for why I passed now.

Anyway, I did it in MY time (and God's) . . . not bending to the peer pressure to retake it immediately.  I waited.  I relaxed.  I got past the bad taste of law school and the bar exam.  And, most importantly, I WANTED to retake it.  I wasn't being forced to do it.  And that made all the difference, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sit Still; Look Pretty

Does it ever scare you how distorted modern music makes relationships sound?  That all men are selfish pigs.  That all girls are simply put upon and used.  That romance means a quick tumble in the backseat.  That love means a pretty girl and a hot guy.  I find it hard to listen to the radio these days (for many reasons), but chiefly because the lyrics depress me.  And they disguise their subversive message in upbeat, happy tunes - like "Sit Still, Look Pretty".  A fun tune to listen to . . . but the lyrics?
You get off on your 9 to 5
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I'm never gonna be 'cause I don't wanna be
No, I don't wanna sit still look pretty
The refrain makes a marriage sound like a death sentence for the women.  That their sole purpose is to make their husbands look good.  And the subliminal message, at least to me?  Women who choose to stay at home and care for their families with their picket fences are being used and essentially suffering from some kind of Stockholm syndrome.  
That Snow White
She did right
In her life
Had 7 men to do the chores
'Cause that's not what a lady's for
And then this!   As if women somehow feel entitled to have a man do EVERYTHING for them while they sit around ruling the world and doing whatever they want.  How have we lost the understanding that responsibility and a shared partnership in marriage is what it's really about?  That marriage isn't simply "the only thing a boy's gonna give a girl for free's captivity" . . . but that it's a beautiful example of self-sacrifice?  Or at least it's supposed to be.
I'm never gonna be that girl
Who's living in a Barbie world
. . . . . 
This queen don't need a king
. . . . .  
But this gal right here's gonna rule the world
Now, I understand that not every girl is as girly as I am . . . that we have different personalities and likes and dislikes etc.  And granted, Barbie definitely gave a skewed view of the world as well.  But not needing a king?  That's simply not true.  And I'm not advocating that every woman needs to get married.  Absolutely not.  There are definitely women who are called to the religious life or to the single life.  But in that case?  Their king is God alone.  And in a marriage?  The relationship between the husband and wife is meant to mirror that between Christ and the Church.  Wives are called to submit to their husbands - not to rule the world.  I mean, have you met women?  We're awesome at organization and love and brainstorming . . . but we also tend to think with our hearts first, which could have disastrous effects on a nationwide level.  Because in business and economics and politics, logic should come first.  Even if it feels awful.  And men are just better at that in general . . . at least, they used to be before society emphasized being in tune with their emotions so much that we wound up with a bunch of boys who can't handle adult responsibility.  And then women swooped in to take over and fix things.  And we've got the mess we have today.  And yes, I'm aware there's a lot more nuance to that story . . . but that's the topic for another day.

So what's the bottom line?  Other than the fact that these lyrics and all others like them really piss me off?  Marriage is a partnership.  It's a union of self-sacrifice and giving for the other.  It's helping each other get to Heaven.  It's not a phenomenon where the woman is constantly downtrodden and used as an object.  And it's not a situation where the man is constantly overruled by the woman and made to feel inferior and incompetent.  It's a union where the two become one and they use their individual skills and abilities and gifts together to create a firm foundation and a solid example for their children and the world.  At least that's my two cents on the matter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bloom Where You're Planted

Do you ever get that nagging feeling that something is missing?  Or the little green monster pops up unexpectedly at the worst times and reminds you of all that you're missing?  He compares your meager and measly life to the thriving ones of your friends and family, convincing you that you're never going to achieve your dreams and that life is just a drag - well, a drag for you anyways.

Believe you me, I'm well aware of how quickly and deeply that little voice pierces your soul.  And you catch yourself focusing on all the things you don't have yet and may never have rather than on all the blessings in your life.  There's a saying: "Bloom where you're planted."  And honestly, that's the answer to your jealousy and sorrow.  For better or worse, God has placed you where you are right now for a reason - maybe to test you; maybe to prepare you for trials ahead; maybe to give you blessings you don't even realize.  And that little monster talking about YOUR dreams and YOUR wishes?  He's trying to turn your attention away from God's plan for your life and make you focus solely on your own idea of what should be happening.  And then making you feel like crap when that isn't the reality.

Of course, blooming where you're planted doesn't mean you shouldn't be working towards those dreams as long as you aren't trying to go against God's plan.  And knowing what that plan is . . . well, that's a tricky business.  But if you pay attention, He'll show you.  Blooming where you're planted often means making the best of the situation you're in . . . focusing on the positive and learning the lessons you need to learn.  And oftentimes, being stuck in a situation far from your ultimate dream can help you discern what that dream really should be.

Your life isn't going to change with a snap of your fingers.  You have to make it change.  And if you keep trying and trying and hitting roadblock after roadblock, then either you're not trying hard enough or God is perhaps giving you a sign that you should try a different path.  Or maybe the devil is working against you.  Regardless, with discernment and reliance on God, you can figure out your path in life (at least for a few years down the road) and can then set about adjusting your present to prepare for the future you want.  If you want something, you're going to have to work for it.  The hard part is figuring out how.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Recipe Corner - Zucchini Lasagna

As you probably know, I'm supposed to be wheat, corn, and potato free . . . and rice noodles tend to be pretty nasty.  Which means that if I want any type of noodle dish, I need an alternative.  For a while, I've been using my kitchen contraption for turning zucchini into noodles . . . and those are really good.  But it's nice to mix it up every once in a while . . . even if you're still eating the same food.  This dish was inspired by a recipe I found for making enchiladas with zucchini.

First, I sliced the zucchini very thin with my mandolin.  I found mine on Amazon, and I absolutely love it!  It's perfect for slicing anything . . . including apples to make apple chips!  

I cut two zucchini in half, both across and long ways.  Then I sliced them with the mandolin fairly thin and placed the first layer in my greased 8x8 pan.  Since it's just myself and my husband, this was the perfect size dish for us.  But since it ended up so tasty, I'm planning on making it in the full-size pan next time.

Next, I cooked up 1lb. ground beef (I'd use more if you're using a bigger pan) with a little seasoning and mixed in spaghetti sauce.  I then alternated zucchini and the meat mixture until I was out of meat sauce.  I placed a layer of mozzarella cheese on top and baked it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

And voila!  This really was tasty AND low calorie AND gluten-free.  You could also make it dairy free by removing the cheese or using dairy-free cheese.  I'm planning to experiment with this more . . . maybe substituting shredded chicken for the beef.  Or making an enchilada-esque lasagna.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As sanctity and holiness decline, energy declines.

First, a brief synopsis of this particular talk:
"Work hard."  To be happy, we have to do more.  Most of us live below the level of our energy.  Do all that you can!  Work to the limit of your abilities.  

Our world suffers from indifference.  Is it possible that our Lord suffers more from our indifference than He did in the crucifixion.  Don't be bored with life.  When you're in love, you'll do anything.  

Waste yourself on others - give yourself to others.  When we save things only for ourselves, it becomes sinful - lust (our body); avarice (our money); pride (our knowledge).  

When anyone asks you to do things, be prepared to do more!  Energy is renewed if we love.  "As sanctity and holiness decline, energy declines." 

"Believe the impossible, and you can do the incredible!"  If you have faith, the impossible things can be done.  

Be generous with yourself!  "As we give, we get.  As we pour out ourselves, God gives us strength."
So often we find ourselves caught up in the drudgery of daily life, focusing on all the things we must do and all the things we wish we could do if we only had the time.  We begrudge our aid to others in our lives, especially those closest to us.  We want everyone else to help us out and make our burdens less.   

I'm absolutely guilty of this myself.  Of relying on my own strength to accomplish everything and failing to increase my reliance on God, Who alone can truly give me the strength I need.  So waste yourself!  Give all of yourself through God to others, and He will give you the energy to keep going.  And if we all did this . . . if we all wasted ourselves on others, surely others would take care of us.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Whirlwind Almost Adventures and the Beauty of D.I.Y.

Over the weekend, my dear husband and I decided to go house hunting, found a place, made an offer, but eventually rescinded the offer.  Yes, this all happened in 48 hours - start to finish.  But we learned some valuable things, and we got a better handle on where we're heading down the road.

Why the sudden urge to move?  Partially a good market.  But mostly the immediacy came from my spring fever and desire for a project or a change.  I used to rearrange my bedroom every 6-12 months for a change.  I was feeling a little stuck in our current home, and I wanted a change.  But as we pursued moving and discussed all of our options, we came to the conclusion that it would be more responsible and prudent to continue living where we are and save money rather than taking on a mortgage and doubling our current payments.  However, since we're staying where we're at, we are going to invest a little in some home improvements - and I'm excited!  These projects will make our current place much more OUR home, AND they'll tackle my spring fever.  

As these projects progress, I'm sure I'll be posting about my varying success with DIY projects.  The current list includes:

  • Removing the wallpaper in the kitchen.
  • Painting the kitchen.
  • Painting the kitchen cabinets (since new cabinets are not an option right now).
  • Painting the bathroom cabinets.
  • Framing the mirrors in the bathrooms.
There are many more projects that may come after these, but I'm excited to begin.  There's a part of me that sees these improvements as tackling a "Love It or List It" of my own . . . putting some love and time into making our place our own.  Blooming where we're planted.  Being content with what we have.  And saving and preparing for the future, whatever that may be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Catching Up

It's been three weeks since my last post . . . I guess I failed with my "once a week post" resolution.  But that's ok.  I can get back up and start again.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that taking time off to study for the Multi-State Bar Exam is a valid reason for forgetting things like weekly blog posts.

Speaking of the exam, I have absolutely no idea how it went.  Nor do I particularly care.  Obviously, it would be nice if I passed.  But my ability to practice law is not a deciding factor in my future.  Even if my husband and I decide to start our own firm, we only need one licensed attorney (and he's already got that.)  I can help with the work without being licensed, as long as he is the one with final say.  Besides, we've got our whole life ahead of us . . . and God only knows where He's leading us.

The past two weeks I've been home studying/out of town taking the exam.  And they've been heavenly . . . even with all the studying.  It was a nice confirmation that my ultimate vocation is truly as a wife and mother (hopefully).  Whether that's near or far in the future, I know that's where God's leading me.  And that makes getting through today and the present much easier.  Because there must be something He's trying to teach me or show me where I'm at right now - if I would but open my eyes and see.  

Lent begins today (Ash Wednesday), which means it's time for Catholics to renew their New Year's Resolutions. ;)  In all seriousness, I really love that the Church gives us this period of time to sacrifice and work on ourselves and our relationship with God, keeping our earthly life and our heavenly goal in perspective.  And one of my Lenten works is trying to focus on the good in each situation rather than complaining about all the little, annoying rubs.  With God's help, I'll be able to find joy in my daily sacrifices and draw closer to Him.

May you all have a blessed Lent!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Bond of Perfection"

"All programs and resolutions of the spiritual life are of little value if they are not animated by love and directed to the perfection of love."  ~ The Divine Intimacy, #70
We read in Scripture about "faith, hope, and love . . . and the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13.  We also read that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16.  What an incredible love that God would sacrifice His only Son for us?  And yet do we really understand or appreciate that love?  Does our desire to participate in that love drive our relationship with God and our spiritual life?  Or do we get caught up in the details and forget the foundation?
"The spiritual life requires the use of so many means, calls for the exercise of so many virtues that care must be taken lest we become lost in details, forgetting the love which should be the foundation and end of all."  ~ The Divine Intimacy, #70
Developing our spiritual life entails incorporating so many prayers of various forms into our lives.  Of setting apart time each day dedicated to meditation and contemplation of God.  Of bettering our relationship with God so that we can better hear His voice and follow His path for our life.  Of attending mass and the sacraments regularly.  Of practicing virtue, aspiring to Christ's example in our actions and thoughts.  I don't know about you, but I often get so caught up in trying to remember and do ALL these things that I forget WHY I'm doing them.  That my love for God is the underlying foundation, the driving force behind any and all of this!

As my friends know, I'm extremely detail-oriented.  I love planning and checklists and organization.  I don't do terribly well with impromptu changes or no plan at all.  And organizing my spiritual life is helpful to a certain extent; however, I find that sometimes I spend so much time planning out how I'm going to do ALL the things (daily Rosary; daily meditation and reading; Mass on Sundays; etc.) that I forget Who I'm struggling to do all of this for.  Having a plan is great, but if I lose sight of my end, then all the planning in the world is worthless.

The greatest of these is love.  Let us remember that in our daily lives.  As we go about our vocations, keep love at the forefront (I'll write a post later on about the difference between love and just letting people get whatever they want).  Keep God at the forefront of everything.  Let His love for you and your love for Him illuminate and drive your existence! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Can We Give God?

"Suffering is the only thing that is impossible for [God], Who [is] glorious and omnipotent, the only thing which [God] [does] not have and which I can give [Him.]"
It's hard to believe that I've already been doing the readings in The Divine Intimacy for over two months now.  Time is certainly flying by - how is it already February?  Anyway, I'm extremely grateful that my friend suggested we do this reading.  There isn't always a huge "AHA" moment each day, but every day there is something worth learning and contemplating.  

Yesterday, the reading and meditation was on "Living Christ" - how our "imitation of Christ should not be limited to some particular aspect of His life; it means living Christ and becoming completely assimilated to Him."  The Divine Intimacy, "Living Christ," pg. 181.  The passage went on to talk about how we are called to be an extension of Christ's humanity to the world, a conduit through which He can pour out His graces upon the world.  Now that He is in glory in heaven, He can no longer suffer . . . yet we here on earth can.  And what do you give a God Who has everything?  The one thing He can't do.  

Through our sufferings, if offered up to Him, we can attempt to express at least a small portion of our eternal gratitude to Him for all that He has given us in this life.  There are many ways people have looked at suffering.  Some claim that it is a punishment.  That God wouldn't let us suffer if He really loved us.  On the contrary, He lets us suffer BECAUSE He loves us.  If we do not suffer or struggle in life, how can we see our own inadequacy and eventually turn to rely on Him?  Then there's also the added factor of redemptive suffering, whereby we can offer our sufferings to God for Him to use to aid others. 

And I'll leave you with these quotes from 63. Jesus Calms the Tempest:
"God is not a tyrant who crushes us, but a Father, who tests us because He loves us.  If He permits sorrow, interior or exterior trials, personal or public vicissitudes, it is only to draw out of them some greater good.  Virtue and goodness are strengthened in time of difficulty; the efforts made in bearing trials tend to make us surpass what we would have done had we enjoyed perfect calm."
"If we are disturbed and upset by trials, it means that we lack faith.  Even when God conceals Himself, when everything seems to fail us and we feel terribly alone, we can be absolutely certain that God will never abandon us if we do not first abandon Him.  Instead of becoming bitter or falling into despair, it is the moment to intensify our faith, to make strong acts of faith."
"Many times we fail to surmount interior difficulties because we work alone.  God wants us to experience our own insufficiency; therefore, He lets us struggle until we have recourse to Him with full confidence.  Certainly God wants our efforts, but He does not want us to place all our hope in them.  This accounts for the small progress so many make on the road to sanctity - too much reliance on their own resources, too little on God's help."
Lord, I ask that You help me and all Your people to recognize and acknowledge our own inadequacy and to turn to You for aid through Your grace.  Help us to follow Your path for our lives, wherever that may lead.  To place our faith in Your plan. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Following Through With My Resolutions . . . Fitness & Food

Good morning!  

I <3 the turquoise color!
I'm super excited about my new FitBit Charge 2!  A friend of mine was telling me about hers, and I decided that it would really help me get on track and stay on track with two of my resolutions - food and fitness.  The app makes it super easy to track food and portion, and seeing how many calories I've eaten throughout the day compared to the amount of calories I've burned is extremely motivating.  I've been super terrible at following my no sugar etc. . . . way too much ice cream and donuts and sweets and ALL the things I shouldn't be eating have been consumed over the past month.  But I resolved again this week to actually cut it out.  I sacrificially consumed the rest of the ice cream in the house last night, so no more temptation there.  And I've eaten so many bad carbs the past few weeks that I no longer really crave them, which is also good.  So now to keep that up and attack the portion control - which is where the FitBit calorie tracker comes in.  Plus, I can also track my water intake - which will help me meet that goal AND keep me less hungry.

Being able to track my sleep is another cool feature that will help with overall healthiness.  I got 6hr, 56min of sleep last night - only 6 minutes of which was awake/restless sleep.  That's good, right?  Honestly, the fact that the FitBit Charge 2 tracks my sleep at night is one of the key reasons I took the plunge and bought one.  I've wanted to be able to track my sleep patterns etc. for a long time, but every app on my phone requires the phone to be IN BED with me . . . which just doesn't sound like a good idea.  Thus, having a device that I'm not terrified of dropping or squishing is AWESOME!

Finally, fitness.  I love how customizable the FitBit is for every goal - steps; stairs; exercise; weight; etc.  I know I need to exercise more, and I'm still struggling to keep on top of everything else going on in my life . . . which is why I haven't yet found the time to actually think about fitness, let alone incorporate any exercise into my life.  But my current goal is to make meeting at least the 10,000 step goal a daily habit.  I figure if I can at least be moving that much during the day AND eating right for my blood type, I'll be on track with making these regular habits.  An added bonus is the heart rate tracker.  I'm hoping that I can have the presence of mind to take note of my heart rate when I start to develop anxiety so that I can remind myself to take time to calm down and focus.

How do you keep track of fitness and food?  Any tips?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where Do You See Yourself?

Last week, this question came up in a group of people, and we were going around the room saying where we see ourselves going, what our goals are, etc.  Since I work at a law school, everyone's goals were centered around life after graduation - starting their own firms or working for a law firm etc.  I was last (and part of me hoped I wouldn't have to answer since I was one of the instructors . . . no such luck.)  And I just said the first thing that came to mind because it's been my goal and aspiration since I was five years old.  My goal?  I want to have 12 children.  And that's what I said.  I also added on that I enjoyed working and helping people because I do enjoy my job (and my co-instructor seemed a bit shocked that 12 children was the goal I chose to share with a class full of law students.)  In fact, he wanted to know if I had any law firm aspirations . . . to which I replied possibly if I get my license and my husband and I start something.  But in the back of my mind, I was thinking "Not really."  I absolutely support my husband as he considers starting his own firm, and I will do everything in my power to assist him in whatever way I can.  Especially while we don't actually have any children.  But I know, deep in my inner core, my vocation is to be a wife and mother.  It's all I've ever wanted and worked towards.  I fully believe that a large part of why God led me to law school was so that I could meet my husband.  Who also wants 12 children, by the way.  So that works. :)

Typically, when I tell people my goal is to have a large family, they laugh or dismiss it saying "Come back when you have two kids and tell me that."  Or something else along the lines of "That's all?  What about all of your potential for SO MUCH MORE?"  And my self-conscious introvert sits there and feels like I'm not good enough somehow.  That my dreams aren't "big enough" or whatever.  That somehow the world views the bearing and raising of children as insufficient for a fulfilling life.  That I, as a strong, intelligent woman, need to DO IT ALL in order to be truly successful.  That having that many children would mean giving up myself. (I will say it was refreshing that one person in the room last week said afterwards that my goal was admirable and worthwhile.)

When I hear those responses and reactions, I just want to scream back at them.  That having children and raising them to be good, moral, Catholics is the highest goal and aspiration I could ever have.  That my goal to be a mother is one of the most important in the world.  I mean, without mothers, how would the world survive?  We'd essentially breed ourselves OUT OF EXISTENCE!  It was really saddening to read a statistic the other day that more women today are choosing simply not to have children.  They just don't want them.  And I understand that having kids is hard work, absolutely.  And I know that I don't have first-hand knowledge yet since I don't have kids of my own.  But even so . . . what will become of our society if we don't have children?  

I've known my vocation as a wife and mother for decades now, and yet somehow I still feel doubt in myself when people question my goal.  Should I really be that selfish to want to just stay home and raise a dozen children?  Shouldn't I be contributing to society in some other way?  Shouldn't I be fiscally responsible and help generate income for my family?  And it saddens me that I know my calling, and yet I still allow others to spread doubt in my mind.  It's been a long struggle, and I'm definitely more confident in my goals than I used to be.  It helps that my husband fully supports this goal.  And what greater aspiration could I have than to share what little I know with my children who will one day go out into the world and continue on the next generation?  

I don't know what life has in store for me or when God will bless us with children.  But I do know that being a wife and mother is a noble, admirable, and sacrificial vocation - one that I am nowhere near worthy of successfully living but one that I am striving to fulfill as best I can.  And in the meantime?  I work and help the people around me as best I can.  And I place my trust in God that He's got all of this taken care of.  That He's the one in charge, and we're working with His timing and not mine.