Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Somebody's ticked off...

...and that somebody is me!

I’m ticked off about something.  And I want to write about it. So I am using my blog.  Some of you won’t agree.  That is okay. I am still going to write what I am ticked off about.  It will not please some of you, so you might want to just skip this one!

 A LOT of my friends like reading Thomas Peters, as an orthodox Catholic blogger... I disagree with a lot of my friends. I don’t like reading Thomas Peters.  Sometimes, I think he makes great points, but in general I try not to read him.   I started not enjoying him because he wrote an article YEARS back that basically SLAMMED Christoph Cardinal Schönborn for not being ‘orthodox’ enough in his liturgies.  Anyway, back to the issue at hand. The issue at hand is that I don’t like reading him, and I don’t like reading him because of articles like this one(for those of you that are not clicking on the link, it is about the President fake blessing a turkey before the turkey is killed- and how offensive that is).   

In this country we have a lot of stuff to be legitimately antsy about.  The current administration has boldly put Religious Liberty on notice, morals are rapidly in decline, and our rights are slowly being stripped away.  If that last point seems a bit too much for you, please remember that in NYC, one is not ALLOWED to order a drink more than 16 ounces (of soda).  Anyway, there is a lot to be upset about.  I get upset all the time. I stay up at night worrying. I wonder what our world is going to look like in twenty years. I am scared about where we are headed (but take comfort in the promises of our Lord).  BUT…


Let me tell you something that should NOT have our panties in a jumble…
President Barack Obama blessing a turkey before it goes to death.  That is funny.  It was a cute little video, where he, his wife, and his child are laughing.  It wasn’t meant to be an attack on the Catholic Church.  It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful.  You can tell by the video it was a spur of the moment funny thing.

Now before you panic, understand that I understand 2 things.

1.   If he mocked pretty much any other religion besides Catholicism EVERYONE would panic    and it would be front page news

2.   He is the President of the United States and so he is called to a high level of sensitivity in all actions.

That being said…IT was NOT a big deal.

You know what we should be talking about?

An economy that continues to tank, jobs lost, entitlement as the norm, student debt rising and forgiveness being on the table, social security, Medicare, etc… Those things matter.

Would you like to know what IS a big deal?
The current administration going to war with religion.  The Current Administration deciding that the law of the land can force religious institutions to pay for, either directly or indirectly, services that religious organizations deem morally unacceptable.

You know what is a HUGE deal?

The current administration’s policies regarding abortion.  The fact that babies are being killed with this country’s permission and the current president has sworn to respect that right (even at nine months, even after a baby is born ALIVE from a botched abortion, even without the consent of parents, etc…)

Do you know what doesn’t matter? 
The president blessing a turkey before it meets it’s untimely death.

And would you like to know why I am ticked off about it???

Because making things like this a huge deal (the blessing) detracts from the REALLY big deals that are happening.  People don’t want to listen to us ‘extremists’ when we panic about an obvious joke.  We forget real issues.  And, we end up looking like fools.  But to take it one step further…we end up losing elections.

Did I just say we lost the election for caring about things like the blessing of a turkey? 

Do I get that it is way more complicated than that?
(so no need to comment in despair- it’s my blog, I can say what I want to).

So friends, let’s let the turkey go.  I know that some of you will struggle to do so, because of the whole, ‘Barack Obama is the anti-christ’ thing…but we really should let it go.

I do believe that real evil is at play here, but I believe the evil is abortion, the stripping away of religious rights, and the movement towards a socialism-based government (ha- just kidding, don’t panic lefty-leaning friends)…

IT IS NOT the evil of blessing a turkey.

WHEW, I feel better.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Merry Thanksgiving Weekend...

...with love, laughter and cheer!

So blessed this weekend to have one of my very best friends of 14 years (are we really that old?!?!?!) Paul Coakley and his lovely wife/family stay with us.  The four day weekend was full of delightful memories with our kids (because yes, we have them), reconnecting with family (hey there lil' brother, good to have you back) and so many fantastic memories.  Here is the story in pictures (I'll try not to put too many- wait, who am I kidding, there is going to be a lot)!
The Aarons finishing up much needed raking.  Might be my favorite picture of the two of them together. 

Joey sure does love his Uncle Paul

"stop running away...I wanna play"

Dad's toast

I am so very thankful for the three people who have changed my whole life.

All that for one little boy :)

Coakley smiles!

Reunited and it feels so good

Not a thanksgiving without a little cake in the face

....er, or a lot of cake in the face

Two besties 

love of my life

best.aunt.ever. seriously. best.

The Jacketts and the Coakleys

I love how lil' Aaron is looking at his cousin

I actually have to set time limits on myself to go to bed when my dear friend Ann is in town, otherwise we would literally stay up all night talking.  Which gets awkward at the 5:30 am baby wake up call!

Good times!

Annie ROCKED out the dishes this year!  And Jen got to get in on the action!

Insert cheesy 80s song, 'Friends are friends forever, when the Lord's the Lord of them...'

Cannot tell you the joy in my heart

Cousins crew is down to a few 

This is such a Bad A$$ daddy pic

Cannot wait to watch these little guys grow up together.  Christian did so well with the littles!


Lil' A really wanted to get into the action

"Don't mind if I do" says Ellie

Sticker time is AWESOME

This kid is really something else.  There is something so special about him. Future priest? We shall see, but in the meantime, look at that smile!!!

So fun!

Uncle Paul ROCKS! He has movies of monster trucks!

pretty much in love with this boy

I love this one


What a great big brother


Christian is a stellar playmate!

Didn't win, but still smiling.
Such a great Thanksgiving was had by all!  I adore everything that comes with September-February.  Thank you Jesus for all of our gifts and the way you love us through each other!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The importance of being us…

….even if that means without the little guys!
This weekend was one of our reward weekends.  Big Aaron and I have been working really hard at a lot of things. Like, a lot of things.  And, sometimes that gets hard.  We work on loving each other well, loving our children well, squaring away our backwards finances, trying to get control of our health, etc…A lot of our work I have tried to chronicle in this blog.  And, I have said many, MANY times that I need rewards and treats to have the perseverance to keep striving for the better.  So began our twenty four hour reward, three months in the making.

It started on a high.  10 weeks ago, we began a weight loss challenge.  We are using it to kick start a healthier us, so that we can be good, healthy parents for our children.  We stopped buying junk, stopped eating out, stopped drinking soda (oh, how I have missed you soda) and began exercising.  This week was weigh in week. DRUM ROLL please…Aaron lost 34 lbs and I lost 14.  We were really proud of ourselves and psyched to see results.  We also decided that this weekend, all bets were off.  And off they were.  We REALLY indulged this weekend.  It was awesome.

Before I get into the sweetical sweetness of our almost 24 hour date. I have a funny story.  Well, tragic and funny at the same time.  While getting ready to leave on our date, I could not find anything to wear.  I have a closet full of things, but this "two pregnancies later" bangin’ body still appears to be very much with child, even though the last child left my bangin’ body 4 months ago.  When we got in the car to leave, I was actually crying. This is a little personal, but for me, it is a very weird thing to feel so insecure about myself.  I have never been ‘thin’ but I have never been bothered by it.  But these babies have shifted my body in ways I don’t dig, and sometimes I struggle.  So anyway, back to my crying. I was basically throwing a complete temper tantrum on our way to the date. I started crying and telling Aaron things like, ‘you have no idea what it is like to see your body change and to not have any clothes that fit right’.  As I got more and more worked up (because the husband wasn’t exactly executing an understanding attitude) I finally screamed, ‘I LOOK LIKE I AM STILL SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT!  THAT IS MY PROBLEM’. The husband paused a moment and said, ‘look at it this way, 10 weeks ago, you would have looked 8 months pregnant’.  Ahhh…well played Wilkerson. I started laughing.  And my stinky attitude passed.

First, we went and saw the movie Breaking Dawn. Now, I know within the Catholic world, there is some debate as to whether or not this book/movie series was a good thing. I will continue to hold on to the fact that it is an EXCELLENT series (albeit, cheesy).  A popular series for teens, where the two main characters choose NOT to sleep together, and do it for the possibility that something higher might be calling them to a better life is a-okay by me.  Even if it takes vampires to get that message acrossJ  Anyway, the movie was FABULOUS in my opinion. The surprise ending had me upset/frustrated and then completely joyful!  Well done.  We saw the movie in a crowded theater at the RenCen and the crowd was off the hook.  At one point there was so much cheering, it was more like a sporting event then a movie.

From there, we went to the very tip top of the building on the glass elevator that makes you feel like you are flying up to the clouds (correct me if I am wrong, but it is more than 70 floors up).  We had the most delicious dinner. And guess freaking what?!?!  Aaron Rodgers ate at table four down from us.  Now, if you know me (and my blog friend Jenna-click here to start reading her blog) proximity to famous people makes me pretty much famous.  SO, not only did I get to see a great movie, have a delicious dinner, but I pretty much became famous again by seeing a famous quarterback!  Dinner started with lobster corndogs, lobster and crab bisque, and a ceaser salad.  Aaron had filet mignon and I had pasta topped with shrimp scampi.  We ate lots and lots of bread.  This was a cheat weekend, and we owned it.  For dessert, we rode the people mover to Aaron’s favorite bakery called ‘Astoria’.  He ordered tiramisu (his favorite) and I ordered strawberry cheesecake.  The amount of delicious is hard to describe. 

I thought we were going to stay at a hotel near the airport (thank you grandparents for pretty much making our lives and taking the kiddos overnight so we could sleep, I cannot tell you how much I needed sleep), but the best.husband.ever struck again.  He took us to this hotel called ‘The Henry’ that was all sorts of fancy and modern and had really really cool rooms. My husband knows that I ADORE hotel rooms, and this one was perfect.  We ate our desserts while cuddled on a huge king bed and watching the end of an exciting day in college football.  Perfect maybe? I think so.

In the morning, we woke up to order breakfast in bed (yes, I told you, we balled out this weekend) and watched the newest batman which I had yet to see.  BTW- I did NOT like that movie.  Which is weird, because I love movies like that.  Any movie that I need a study guide to understand is a movie that is not for me.  But, by the end I found it acceptable (how cute was the robin part?  And the French cafĂ© part)?   Overall though, I did not dig the confusion of the first 1.5 hours.  

It was 11:00 am and time to take off the glass slippers and head home.  The husband went and got the boys, while I went to give a talk.  When I finally got to see my little guys it was around 3:00 pm.  Nothin’ better than lil’ A’s face to greet me with a wide smile at the front door.
Here’s the thing blogosphere.  The best part of the weekend?  Just being with my husband.  We had a chance to talk about some important things, we had a chance to snuggle and hold hands.  We laughed and enjoyed each other.  We talked about real things, love things, where we have been already and where we are headed.  We talked about concerns, and goals.  We talked about what we want our lives to look like and how we can learn from the good and bad of other couples.  It was so nice to just talk to him.  I have said this before, but the hubs and I are pretty committed to always figuring out a way to date at least once a month and go away at least every 6 months- 1 year. I think it is so important. Especially since we had kids right away.  It is essential that we give our kids the gift of being in love with each other.  And, because we fight so much and pretty much are drastically different and don’t place nice together (true story) for us, date nights like this are essential. 

I say it all the time, and I haven’t lost sight of it yet, but I am desperately in love with my husband.  He is a good man and a man that truly I just like hangin’ around with.  And, this weekend, it was really good to hang around.  J

Friday, November 16, 2012

--- 1 ---
Sr. M Johanna
I went to Steubenville this week. I learned five important things. Number one, time really does fly. I cannot believe it has been 10 years since I graduated from college. Number two, teachers who have a significant impact on your life, can still make you smile and want to do good many years later. Sr. M Johanna was happy to see me. It made me feel special. She looks exactly.the.same. Number three, smells really are powerful. The JC Williams Center smells the exact same. Number four, God has a plan all along. I sat with my babies, at Mass, in front of the cross in Christ the King Chapel. I thought of how many times I had sat in that chapel praying, crying, hoping for a future that would bring happiness and holiness. I felt God say very clearly, ‘You see, silly girl, I had you all along’. Number five, bringing two babies, to FUS, when I am going there to stay at a house of a family I had not yet met(Bob Rice’s they were, um, awesome) and speak to a class is a VERY VERY bad idea. However, I would have done it the exact same way if I had to do it over again.
--- 2 ---
Cousin time rocks. The husband and I went to Kentucky for the weekend to surprise my sister with a shower and to attend the Baptism of our family’s newest saint Keegan (Aaron is the godfather). The weekend was great, but by far the coolest thing was watching lil’ A and Joseph play with their cousins. They are all such good/sweet/fantastic kids. As our nutballs ran around laughing, my heart soared with that special mix of joy and sadness. Joy, because were watching lifelong bonds begin to form. Sadness, because we don’t get this reality every day. But, alas, we had it for the weekend, and it was awesome. Plus, the husband and I totally survived a road trip with two babies! We rock. A lot.
--- 3 ---
THESE are the type of signs we should be holding 
 I have said this before, I will say it again, and I am starting to care less and less who I offend with this FACT. Prolife people SUCK at being good at talking about prolife issues. Again, I have been convicted through experiences that the pro-choice argument is extremely easy to point out flaws in. It is a shallow argument based on so little. Unfortunately, we pro-lifers get so darn worked up, that we forget to explain our position in a loving/rational way. This week, I challenged my students to find me one prochoice person who can LOGICALLY defend their position. I did this, because I am desperately seeking one prochoice person who can LOGICALLY defend their position and I have yet to find them. Anyway, a few teens stayed after that are ‘very prochoice’ and we kind of publicly discussed the issue. The pro-life students that were listening said, ‘Mary, we have never heard anyone explain it this way’. ‘Mary, why don’t more people talk about this issue the way you do’, etc…etc… The thing is, we HAVE to start learning how to talk to people in rational, loving and logical ways in order to change hearts and point out errors in thinking. I am becoming more and more convinced that pro-choicers are prochoice because they don’t’ want to be associated with the ‘cold hearted hateful prolife people’. Can we PLEASE start to work on that? Also, if you haven’t yet, go watch this movie. This is the movie that radically shifted the way I talk to people about this issue. We need to start to talk more like this and less like we are currently talking. Whew. Thanks!
--- 4 ---
Thanksgiving is shaping up to be EPIC. I mean TRULY Epic. It appears some of my besties are going to be in town and others are going to be very free for socializing. The only thing we have locked down for five days is a meal, actually two. We have really been going hard this month and are in desperate need of a little bit of a slow down. That slow down is right around the corner. Two word. Bring.it
--- 5 ---

Restaurant is at the very tip top of this building! 
Speaking of bringing.it. This weekend, the husband and I have a fancy date, three months in the making. In the city of Detroit there is this really tall building. On the top of that building is a restaurant. It used to rotate (it doesn’t any longer) and it has been a goal of mine to eat there for YEARS. Probably ever since I was a child and my parents told me it rotated (do you know how magical that is to a child?!?!?). Three months ago, the husband and I found a GROUPON for it and so, tomorrow, we will dine at the Coach Insignia at the top of the RenCen. I.am.dying. You cannot imagine how much I have been looking forward to this. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that bucket list dreams are made of. And, because we are fancy, we are making a whole fancy day/night of it. Breaking Dawn, followed by dinner, followed by night in fancy hotel. Here is the thing, we live on a pretty crazy budget, we have paid off over 50,000 of debt in the past two years, but when we do it up, we do it up BIG. This weekend, we will be doing it up BIG.
--- 6 ---
Are.You.Kidding.Me? with that face. sigh...
Last night, Joseph Michael woke up around 2:30 am and simply talked to himself in bed for one hour until I got up to feed him.  Here is the thing about this kid, he is FREAKING incredible.  Like, take my breath away incredible.  I have never been around such a mellow, delightful baby.  Almost every.single.time he falls asleep he does so with literally a smile on his face.  He loves to stare at people and explore what the look like. He so rarely cries, that when he does, I am certain something is wrong.  He loves to be interacted with, smiled at, and held, but it is totally content chillin' on the floor for hours. My heart is his.  There is no other way to say it.
--- 7 ---
'Tis the season of digital media talks :)  I am kicking off a set of 6 different talks in the next couple of months on Sunday with Our Lady of the Wood 8th grade students. I look forward to spending time with these young people and encouraging them to heed the call of Pope Benedict XVI to use social media to evangelize the digital world.  What a blessing it is to see young people start to consider how to responsibly use these avenues in their their daily lives.  What a blessing it is to be able to spend time discussing these things with fabulous young people!  YAY JEsus.

Have a super weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Ministry of Motherhood

“And I believe it was sometimes during the first week of Sarah’s life, as I held her tenderly in my arms thinking the sweet thoughts of a new mother, that I realized she was to become my own, in-home disciple in the making. I had spent the last ten years of my life in the ministry of making disciples from people I met in the world. Now Sarah and any future children would become the focus of my ministry”
- Sally Clarkson, ‘The Ministry of Motherhood’

This is a quote from a book Aaron recently  bought for me.  He bought me this book with an explanation…‘since you will be a stay at home mom soon, I thought you would appreciate being intentional about the vocation you are about to take on’.

I want to say that I do not think that everyone is called to be at home with their kids. I have talked to, and believe, many women who are better moms because they work. I have full respect for that reality. In fact, when I met Aaron, when we talked about our future, the plan was always that I would continue to work.  It seemed simple, I had one of the most flexible jobs ever, you couldn’t get a better job for mommyhood, that was the plan. However, after a few months with my first child, I knew that the plan had changed. 

When lil’ Aaron was three months old, my vocation as a youth minister called me to leave him for sixteen days while I took a group to World Youth Day in Spain. I have told people since,  I have had a VERY privileged life, but it was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done.  As I held lil’ Aaron in my arms at the airport, I could not stop crying.  I kept saying to my husband, ‘This isn’t right, I shouldn’t be leaving my baby, what am I doing?!?!’.  To be honest, I had irrational thoughts as well, ‘I am not going to go, I am not going to get on this plane and leave my baby’.  Thank GOD I thought to have parents meet me an hour after saying goodbye to my husband and child.  By the time the teens were dropped off, I had calmed myself down enough.  The sixteen days went by so slowly and were beautiful and disastrous all at the same time.  Everyone knew that when we returned the US of A, the moment our plane hit the soil, my responsibility was done and I was going to be running to the arms of my husband and child.  That is EXACTLY what I did.  For the month that followed, occasionally I would burst out into tears, feeling so grateful to have my baby back in my arms, and my husband by my side.  I told Aaron I wasn’t sure I could do this job anymore; I told him it was time for us to start talking about me being a stay at home mom.  He told me it was not something we could afford; give it time, it will be better…

When lil’ Aaron was six months old, I realized that I had spent close to 30 days away from him.  Almost one whole month.  I had found out I was pregnant again right before leaving for yet another youth trip, the National Catholic Youth Conference.  Crazy youth trips are spectacular and were spectacular throughout all my years of ministry.  Crazy youth trips in the beginning of pregnancy are horrible, and I was convinced could be dangerous to the little life I had growing inside me. After sleeping very little, staying up super late, living the crazy lifestyle of a youth minister, I started spotting. I had a really rough day the last day of that conference.  The entire bus ride home, I thought and prayed and talked to God.

When I got home, I asked the husband if we could talk. I remember sitting on our bed and opening the conversation.   I told him I needed to quit.  I needed to be at home with my baby.  I told him it was more than not wanting to work. I told him that I knew, for the first time in my life, that I was not following the will of God. I was being called to be a stay at home mom.  I was being called to fulfill my lifetime vocation.  I was being called out of youth ministry. I cried a lot of tears and begged him to find a way for me to be at home with my child.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like, for my husband, to know our financial reality, but to hear his wife say that something had to change.  I was CERTAIN that God was calling me to a new reality.  A reality that didn’t make sense for a lot of reason,  including the fact that I was expecting our second child in less than 2 years and we had a mound of debt (almost all mine) that needed to be paid.  The husband said he would think about it and get back to me.

A few days later we ironed out a new financial plan.  A plan that would take a lot of work.  A plan that would mean saying ‘no’ to ourselves often.  A plan that would take longer than maybe I wanted, but would put me at home in a reasonable amount of time. I remember, and I get a little teary eye’d when I think of, Aaron saying, ‘Mary, if we can stick to this plan, our children will never know you as anything but a stay at home mom’.  And so, in Nov. 2011 we put into place a plan that would have me home with my children as a full time stay at home mom in July 2013.

This past week, I told my teens that at the end of the school year, I would be leaving.  This past weekend, we announced to the parish via the Church bulletin that as of July, a new youth minister will be at SJN.  And tomorrow, I will travel to Franciscan University of Steubenville.  My plan is to talk to the students who are entering the field of youth ministry next year about the challenges and joys of working in this amazing field. After that, I will encourage a few of them to apply for a fantastic full time position.  The transition has officially begun.

In January my job will be officially posted.  By April, I hope we have someone hired.  By May/June I will work with that person to transition the program I spent almost ten years building (obviously with and through the grace of God).   There is a bittersweet reality that I am currently operating under.  I cannot wait to be at home with my babies. I cannot wait to be able to plan things on the weekend with the family.  I cannot wait to spend more than one weekday evening with my husband.  But, alas, I will sure miss these teenagers. I will miss the creativity. I will miss the weekly reality that I have truly grown up with the past nine years.  It is amazing to think of the young 23 year old, starting in the perfect position, not far from where I grew up.  I have had such amazing experiences, I will spend sometime in the next six months reflecting on that…but, in the meantime, I look forward to the call of ministry that motherhood will offer me J

And pssst… I am excited to tell you in the next couple of months what I have ‘up my sleeve’ to keep me connected to the awesome community that is serving youth!  Can’t wait!!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

These are my thoughts...

...shared mostly so you can understand where I am coming from, even if you disagree with me.

It is 11:47 pm right now and I should be sleeping. I should be sleeping but I am unable to.  One hour ago, it appeared that the current president was going to win his bid for re-election.  One hour ago, I walked into our family room and asked my husband to come join me in our room and hold me until I fell asleep.  He fell asleep firs...(typical) :)  I asked him to come hold me because I am scared.  Here is the thing, I know I have a lot of friends who voted for ‘the other guy’ and I know that tonight is a night of celebration for you. I know you will be happy and think that you have reached a level of success.  I know you are certain that something better has happened for our country.  I know you are confident that you can believe in the change that you are striving for.  And finally, I know that you don’t quite know why people like me are so scared.  I thought I would let you know why.  Because here is the thing, understanding where the ‘other’ is coming from is a good thing. I want to help you understand.

I am scared that we live in a country where a celebrity is elected president. 
I suppose this has happened many times before in history.  Some of the greatest public speakers in the past were complete and total tyrants.  Charisma does not equate to truth…and I am scared people have lost sight of that.

I am scared of what will happen to my Church’s institutions with the HHS Mandate
but more than that, I am scared that more people aren’t scared. I am frightened that the President’s unprecedented over-reach in terms of demands placed on Religious Institutions is not causing a National Outcry. I get that it is complicated. I get that these Institutions accept federal funds.  I get that the issue appears complex….but let me promise you, the current administration drastically over-stepped it’s ‘powers’ by demanding anything from my Church…and that scares me.

I am scared how loosely the president talks about abortion.
I get that prolife people suck at discussing the issue (I talk about that RIGHTHERE), but the president’s pro-abortion stance is startling.  Protecting even partial birth abortion, which most of us at least can agree is significantly horrific.  I am scared that I am 32 years old and have never met a pro-choice person that speaks from a place of logic (if you are one, please private message me, I would love to understand you better) but rather from places of emotion and a false sense of compassion.

I am scared about race relations in this country.
I am so so so scared that while I was falling asleep tonight, CNN reported, ‘President Obama’s Team went into African American Communities and told them he had their back, now it is time for them to have his’.  It was reported. Like that. On a major news station.  I am scared when things like that can occur and people don’t wave red flags. I am nervous about what that does for race relations in this country and what that will mean for my biracial family.  I am frightened that it is okay for the current administration to take advantage of race and people on the ‘other side’ can’t mention it.

I am scared about our economy.
Not as scared as other people.  I don’t know the ins and outs.  But I am scared that we live in a country where people are in an UPROAR about PBS and NPR when we are trillions of dollars in debt.  I am scared that conceding certain things MUST be cut for the good of our national budget doesn’t seem to be a reality.  I am scared that we, in this country, think that debt is normal and expected... instead of trying to live within our means.

I am scared we have lost a sense of personal responsibility
Speaking of the economy. I am scared that we live in a country where we think it is the government’s responsibility to forgive the college debt that we have personally accrued.  On the day I was married, I handed my husband 65 k of personal debt from student loans and credit cards.  My bad decision making is incredible in retrospect. It has altered everything about the way my growing family operates.  But I am so thankful that I do not expect that someone else should have to pay for the decisions I have made.

I am scared for my children
I am scared that my children will be raised in a world where they will not be able to express their faith freely.  I have something controversial to say, that will not please my conservative friends. I actually could care less about whether or not ‘gay marriage’ becomes legal.  I don’t think our government has any business saying who should/should not get married (I know, I know, controversial) .  BUT, I would like for my Church to be able to decline marrying same-sex couples if She chooses to …I am scared that She won’t be able to in 10-20 years without fines and punishments.  I am scared that the current president is putting us on a course that will make that acceptable. 

I am scared of the bashing
I am scared at how people have talked about conservatives and liberals during this election (see HERE). I am scared not just because we are polarized, I don’t dig that, but it is more than that. I am scared that a real divide is occurring within this country. I am scared when someone says they are beginning not to like me because of the views that I hold (especially because I ALWAYS try to be respectful, but honest in my approach).  I am scared that people have defriended me on facebook because of my ‘radical views’.  My views are different than yours I am certain, but they are by no means radical.

I’m scared that people are not really thinking about things critically anymore.
I shouldn’t be surprised, because we are not taught to think about things critically.  We are taught that whatever feels good, works.  We are taught that to suffer is the worst possible hell.  We are taught that how we ‘feel’ about things determine them to be true or untrue.  We are taught that ‘true’ or ‘truth’ does not exist.  It all depends on your perspective.  Friends, if my perspective was my son’s red fire truck was blue, it wouldn’t make it any less red.  I am scared that modern thought lacks constructive thinking.

I am scared of entitlement
I am scared that entitlement is SUCH a part of our culture at this point (and in such a short time) that we TRULY believe things should be handed to us.  We believe that if one man has more than another, that man should be forced to give more.  Not asked. Not moved in charity. But forced.  And if he chooses not to, we believe we should make laws that demand that he does.  That scares me.

Tonight,  I am so scared.

And let me tell you something. I welcome comments of all kind, but I DO NOT want you to tell me why I shouldn’t be afraid.  This is a post about what I am feeling.  And you telling me not to be afraid and explaining why the above things are okay, would not be helpful.  I am assuming you read my blog because my thoughts intrigue you.  These are my thoughts.  And, at least right now, I still have a right to think these thoughts, and I am asking you kindly not to explain them away because you do not agree.  Or worse yet, to insult me because of them (which, of course, has ALREADY happened).

I started this post at 11:47 pm. I said I wanted to show you where I am coming from.  This is where I am coming from.  But, of course, I will leave you with a PLOT TWIST.

It is 12:13 pm and I am comforted and hopeful.  Because I know that I was not promised anything in this world.  One of my favorite Scripture passages says, ‘Do not be surprised if the world hates you, it hated me before it hated you’.  See, as someone said, tomorrow I will wake up and my God will still be my strength.  Life will go on, at least for a while, pretty consequence free.  I will snuggle my sweet baby boys and give my husband morning kisses.  Jesus will be the center of my household and I will tell myself over and over again those sweet words to Peter, echoed by my beloved JPII ‘Do NOT be Afraid’.  If my fears continue to be realized, I will take comfort in the fact that this was not something forced upon us, but something chosen, chosen by many people, including those that consider themselves faithful Catholics.

I will wake up tomorrow and my life will be pretty unaffected by the result of this election.  So I will keep my eye on our country, shake my head at so many of you, and take courage in a God who loves us ALL! 
And there, my friends, is my hope.

Good night. Happy Election Day 2012
“Your right and everyone else is wrong”- Aunt Kathy

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
look at them eyes
You know how most babies and especially toddlers are good-lookin’? Well, one thing I am confident about is how adorable our two little munchkins are, but this week, my breath was taken away by our oldest, Aaron. People have commented about his big eyes before, but I guess I never really took the time to stare at them (I am not much of a stare-er). Anyway, when I was pulling him out of his carseat the other day, he gave me this look, with his great big brown eyes that literally took the wind out of me. His eyes are so big, and such a deep color of brown, they are quite amazing. Since then, I have been looking at his eyes pretty much everyday.
It wouldn't be right to not add a pic of Joseph Michael's soulful eyes as well 

--- 2 ---
Yesterday, my incredibly thoughtful husband surprised me with two books on the spirituality of motherhood. You know, as referenced, he is a big punk face sometimes. However, I don’t know a lot of dudes that buy their wives books on the spirituality of motherhood. Also, his explanation was great. He talked about how I am will be spending more and more time with the kids as my vocation and it will be good to be intentional about making that holy (those are my words, but that is basically what he said). I mean, are you kidding me?

--- 3 ---
The books were a present. Why do I get a present you ask? Because on this day, we will be paying off one of my significant student loans. We are really on the downward side of the hill at this points, 7 more months until we are debt free. Now, you might ask why I get presents, when clearly it is my dear husband who is doing the work, providing the motivation, keeping us on track to pay off what is mostly my student debt…I will answer. I can’t do it without treats and presents. It is pretty darn hard to stick to this crazy budget we have developed, and so, I need the celebrations to remind me to keep going!

--- 4 ---
The one and only FUS
So November is a month of travel. I am so super psyched about all that we have planned. The week after next, I will be headed to Steubenville with my dear friend Jodi and the two babies. I am going to speak to a class about what it is like, as a FUS grad, working in the field of youth ministry. Um, excited much? It is completely ridiculous that I am bringing my two children with me, but I just think there will be something so special about being on campus with the little people God blessed me with. The plan is to go down on a Monday night, eat/attend Mass with the lovely Ashley Hursin, sleep at Mr. Bob Rice’s house with the children and Jodi (hey, he agreed to it!) and then talk to the class Tuesday afternoon before heading back. In addition to that awesome trip (which I am sure I will tell you more about), at the end of the month, we have a trip to Orlando for the National Youth Ministry Conference (I am bringing Lil’ A…I will def. do a ‘team facebook’ status, but in the meantime, any advice for flying with toddlers? On one’s lap???). My sister is coming to take care of lil’ A during the conference. It is going to be a fabulous time. Also, a trip to Kentucky is being talked about as well. Whew, thank goodness December is known for being a slow time of the year, I will need some recovery! :)

--- 5 ---
This weekend, I get to go share time with the young adult group from St. Francis in Ann Arbor! I do enjoy e some teenagers, but after SEVERAL Confirmation retreats…not gonna lie, I am looking forward to being able to chat about faith without throwing candy at people’s faces  The topic is a ‘soulful response to God’s love and others’. I had a REALLY hard time with this one, but the beauty of it is, because of struggling, I had to spend a lot of time in prayer with the topic. Now, I am feeling really good about the two hour block of time where I will be sharing and we will be exploring what it means to be disciples responding to God with our whole selves.

--- 6 ---
Healthy Living Update. I have had a rough couple of weeks. Not that I have gained, but losing was a bit stalled. I am at a solid 14 pounds lost. The thing is, it is really hard, in the world of Youth Ministry, to eat right. October was a month full of retreats/overnights/activities…that had me surrounded by lots of not so good food. It’s okay though, I am def. a moderation girl, so I cut myself a bit of slack. The great, super, fantastic news is that the rockstar husband worked a gym into our budget. For me, that is almost essential to this journey towards a healthy life. Although it is not easy to cart two kids there, once they are locked away in daycare, I am pretty much in heaven. The headphones go on and the treadmill, elliptical, bike and me go to our happy place.

--- 7 ---
Believe it or not, it appears that I am going to be involved with an organization called Catholic Athletes for Christ. It is being kicked off in one of our area Catholic High Schools and I have been asked to join the development team. At first, I wasn’t too pumped, I was pretty much doing it because my boss asked me to and he asks me for very little, so I agreed. Now, um, it is awesome. I am so excited to get this rolling and hopefully to meet young men/women where they are at (sports) in the hopes of giving them the opportunity to develop a closer bond with Jesus. Seriously, I think it is going to be awesome. I will write more about it as it develops! In the meantime, say some prayers…it has the potential to really engage young people!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!