Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Defense of marriage...Or not :)

So, I am gonna write a blog.  Right now.  About something I tend to be very careful about.  Something I take extreme caution when writing or speaking about…something sitting on my heart heavily.  I am going to write some thoughts about marriage equality, civil unions, domestic partnership and other things.  Prior to writing this blog, I talked to my Pastor, a man who is very much in love with the Catholic Church. I talked to him because I am going to dance on a line that is difficult when it comes to Church teaching and American politics.  But, I have some thoughts and want to share them.  This might make a few of you mad, just know, I am trying to write it in a spirit of charity, hopefully that works out.

But first, two things.
1.     I want you to comment, I want to hear your thoughts.  However, I find both sides of this discussion to be incredibly disrespectful and hateful when it comes to the other side.  SO…if you can’t say what you want to say nicely, know that I will delete your thoughts.
2.     I am not gay (this might be obvious).  I have never known what it feels like to be attracted to the same sex exclusively. I cannot imagine the fear, the conflicts, the tension, the rejection, the loneliness, well, frankly, the cross that would come with that reality.  I can’t imagine what it would feel like to think the whole Christian community hates me. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have people quote Scripture to direct hate at me.  I just don’t know that.  So, those of you that might be gay, or close to someone who is exclusively attracted to the same sex…be gentle in your reading of this, I am not trying to be hurtful.

This morning, I woke up and checked facebook, about a zillion people had on their newsfeed’s this icon.  I am crazy social media girl, so I went to ‘google’ and looked up, ‘Large red square with two pink lines!’. Google let me down, but within an hour or so it became apparent posting this icon was an act of solidarity with the LGBT community.   These are very important days as our Supreme Court looks at how marriage should be defined in this country.  A LOT of people were posting about it.  And then the circus started.  You know the circus.  It happened with Chick-Fil-A last spring.  More than half of my newsfeed was filled with people supporting Marriage Equality for all, many of them adding little anecdotes, reminding people that only hateful bigots don’t agree with marriage for all, including those of the same sex.  A handful of people posted icons/articles stating why marriage simply must be preserved between a man and a woman in this country, if it is not…well, then we are doomed. 
And all this social media chatter?  Well, it made me feel sad.  And it got me to think some thoughts. I shall share them with you¸ because, praise you Jesus…my blog helps me get things straight in my head.  Here are my thoughts.

The Sacrament of Marriage (remember, Sacrament is a Catholic thing, you don’t have to believe it) is meant for a man and a woman

Dang!  That is a hard pill to swallow.  That particular pill has lost me a couple of friends.  The Sacrament of Marriage is something that is defined by my Church for a particular reason.  The Catholic Church thinks sex is super important (we love it), the Catholic Church thinks procreation is super important (clearly, Aaron and I dig that) and the Catholic Church has a completely different idea of sexuality than current culture.  The Catholic Church understands marriage starts and ends with a Cross.  The primary purpose of marriage according to the Church is procreation, which means that gay sex, birth control, divorce and remarriage, etc…are things that can never be allowed.  The Catholic Church’s teaching is one based out of love, but love understood as total denial of self.  This type of love doesn’t really make a lot of sense in this world, so I completely understand most people don’t buy into it.

I am worried allowing for same sex unions at a state/federal level, could compromise my Religious Freedom

Geez, I hope not.  But I do worry, being honest, that if we allow for same sex unions (which, btw, is going to happen), within a matter of time in our crazy culture, churches would be forced to marry same sex couples.  I get afraid, friends, often, that tolerance for lifestyle choices is true for every life style choice except ones that don’t fit within current popular trends.  That scares me, I’m just being honest.  You see, a couple of years ago there was this story in the newspaper.  It was about a church down south that refused to marry an interracial couple.  People FREAKED THE FREAK out.  I am one member of an interracial couple and I DIDN’T freak the freak out.  In fact, I thought, awesome, at least I know what church not to go to.  Unfortunately, a lot of people thought the church should face consequences, be forced to shut down, etc… Here’s the thing.  In our country, we allow for a variety of thought, and if a church doesn’t think a black man and a white woman should be married, well that makes me shake my head.  BUT, I don’t think our government should force the issue.  I don’t think our government needs to be involved in how marriage is defined in churches.

Our Government’s definition of marriage has little to do with my Church’s definition of marriage

I don’t look to Uncle Sam for much when it comes to moral authority.  I just don’t. I think that ship sailed a long time ago.  If tomorrow Uncle Sam decided Marriage Equality was a must, it wouldn’t affect how I feel about it.   There is a lot about the country’s current understanding of marriage I don’t dig.  Heck, I think divorce is pretty awful, artificial birth control is toxic in marriage, couples need to pray together, marriage has almost nothing to do with emotion, etc…(see, I just pissed off about half of you with those statements).  SO, I don’t waste a lot of energy asking the government to protect my definition of marriage because frankly, they never have.  And, I’m not quite convinced they should.

My understanding of marriage doesn’t make me a bigot, and doesn’t mean I judge you

I am so thankful for my gay friends who get, truly get, that I don’t waste a second of my life judging them. Not one second. I advocate for love towards all.  ‘Ain’t nobody got time for judging other people’ for real ya’ll.  You know, yesterday the husband and I got into a pretty bad fight.  In that fight, I ended up calling him a ‘piece of chewing gum’ (insert your own words).  You see, I have enough sinfulness that I needn’t look elsewhere to point out other’s sins.   I daily struggle with my inclination to choose the disorder of evil, so I try not to spend time a’ wastin’ thinking about yours (yours meaning all of us).  Sure, if asked, I will break down why my Church teaches what She does.  Sure, I live it (sometimes) and love it (always).  BUT, when it comes to pointing the finger and saying you are sinning because you don’t…I stop just short of that.  I am so thankful for each and every one of my gay friends who have noticed that, thanked me for that, been clear headed enough to see that…you have made up for every person who has ‘blocked me’, treated me poorly, or accused me of being a bigot.  You rock.

For those of you that have added your voice in the social media/political world demanding that marriage be kept between a man and a woman…ask yourself this, ‘how’s that working for you’.

I’m embarrassed about the homophobia I see acted out in Christian Churches

One thing I always try to point out to teens is the Catholic Church is NOT like other Christian churches when it comes to her teaching on sexuality and homosexuality in particularly.  Believe it or not, the Catholic Church affirms people that are attracted to the same sex. The Catholic Church calls out discrimination.  The Catholic Church says that people attracted to the same sex have a unique opportunity to walk with the person of Christ.  Unfortunately, a lot of people get it twisted.  Catholics and Christians alike.  If you are gay, or close to someone who is gay and have been hurt by homophobia, I am so so so sorry.  I wish I could take that pain away from you. Especially when that pain is inflicted in the name of Christ.

Having different views than you regarding sexuality does not make me homophobic

Unfortunately, current culture has got us convinced that if we say, ‘hey, there might be another way to live out sexuality’ we are automatically pegged into a corner of homophobia.  It isn’t fair.  It has been very hurtful to me.  It is a form of bullying and shaming that should be looked down on by everyone.  People throwing out words like HATE and BIGOT unfairly has stalled the conversation in this country. It has created a world where we dare not have intelligent conversation about important things (like what constitutes a family), and it creates a defensiveness in people, few have the courage to address.  Did you read the story about the owner of Chick-fil-A?  How he was unfairly attacked?  How his whole personhood got called into question?  Did you read the follow up story that I posted (if not, can I give it to you?) about a leading gay activist and him working together for almost a year to learn from one another and increase love?  If not, you should.

Those are my thoughts.  They aren’t in any order, they might not even make total and complete sense.  I needed to write them, I am hoping that at least a few of my social media ‘friends’ take a moment to read them.  Those that are posting their support for Marriage Equality and those posting their opposition.

Like I said, feel free to agree/disagree/question…but keep it respectful, or your comment will just be deleted.  There is just way too much hate going around when it comes to this subject to allow for it to get out of control. 
Have a good night.   And remember,
 ‘And the greatest of these is LOVE’ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes-

--- 1 ---
So, last night I did a social media presentation for the City of Livonia's 'Save Our Youth Coalition' *I think that is the name.  I was QUITE nervous, which is really unusually.  Do you ever find yourself sitting on a panel with fancy people, being referred to as a technology expert, knowing full well that you don't know the first thing about technology, but love you some social media anyway?  Yeah, me either ;)  Actually, the night went really well. And, after my initial, 'o m lowercase g, my voice is shaking and the microphone I am holding is too', moment, I got into a groove and people seemed to enjoy it.
--- 2 ---
Speaking of talks, on Monday night I had the opportunity to present to teenagers the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality, and,  it went really awesome.  If you work with teenagers in anyway (teacher, youth minister, know a youth minister)  please, please, please let me give you the resources we use, or even come out and present it for your group (though, see below, things are changin' in regards to that).  Through a lot of prayer and thought, I think we have found a great formula that affirms the human person and shows the beauty and reasoning in our Church's teaching.  My heart is full every time I think about it.
--- 3 ---
So, people that occasionally give presentations and maybe work in ministry, I need some advice.  I think I need to start being explicit about getting paid a stipend to come out to parishes to present material.  SIDENOTE: If you read my blog, and I have done a presentation for you and not received a stipend, that is completely fine, this is a new decision :)
The thing is, each time I do something, it is time away from my family, and it is getting hard to justify.  In the past month, I have given 5-6 presentations, which takes up quite a bit of time, and for those presentations, I have received a stipend for 1 of them.  The ol' husband has said I need to start asking for payment when asked to do presentations, but I don't know how to do that!??!?!  Because, it seems so weird to ask for compensation to do ministry.  BUT, if you do the math, 5-6 presentations are 5-6 chunks of time that I am not with my family.  AND, that is all good if it in someway benefits my family, but if not, it is hard to justify, even if I love it.  So, the question is, when someone says, 'can you come out to my parish to present_____?'.  How do I say, 'yes, if get paid'. :)  Thanks!
--- 4 ---
Yikes, this is a 7 Q T full of questions. I have another question for those of you that watch "The Walking Dead".  We just started watching it in our household because so many people love it and it is on netflix.  Truth be told, it is a FASCINATING show. I love the intensity and I love that  I cannot WAIT to watch the next episode. What I do not love is the level of violence. I don't love it at all.  And, I wonder if it is good for us to be watching something that has such graphic images of death.  I'm not getting judgy judgy, because, like I said, I love the show. I am just having a hard time justify the extreme images of violence. Doesn't really seem to reflect the truth, the good, or the beautiful, you know?  So, if you watch, how have you reconciled the images of violence?
--- 5 ---
I was complimented, on 'the facebook', for my use of the 'oxford comma'. I don't know what that is, I don't really want to know either (for those of you that were about to tell me).  The thing is, I know nothing about grammar, and break every rule in the book, the amount of rules I break, in fact, stresses people out.  BUT, I got complimented, for writing properly (I think) unintentionally, and I feel real good about that! :)
--- 6 ---
Tonight, I have a lock in at Church. I detest lock-ins. Like, when I get to heaven, if the person that invented the concept of all night lock-ins for teenagers is there, I am going to ask that he/she be removed before I enter.  They are awful.  Staying up all night is awful. Honestly, lock-ins were one of the main reasons I knew I had to get out of this youth ministry gig as long as I have small children.  Sleep gets out of whack, but I still have babies to attend to the next day.  They are just awful.  Slow forms of torture.  And, lock-ins whilst pregnant and vomiting?  Let's just say I need your prayers tonight.  A lot, A lot of prayers.  The big consolation is, this will be the last lock in I ever have to attend!  Woot woot. And, after this lock-in, I have all weekend to recover.
--- 7 ---
 Full disclosure, the husband would be angry if I didn't mentioned that he volunteered to come up and run the lock-in for a few hours, so I could go home and sleep- but, there were too many complications with the childrens, so I declined that offer.  Because I declined, he has said I have lost my right to complain all weekend that I had to run an overnight lock-in whilst cookin' a baby.  Bummer. I love complaining.

Oh, and just so you know, part II of my NFP thoughts (how NFP ruins romance) will be blogged this week :) The pope and other things distracted me!!!

Have a great week and join Jen at 7 Quick Takes!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Conversations with the husband...

"I feel like I have to go to Confession today for the way I talked to you".
"That makes Jesus say, 'Back so soon?"
"Tomorrow is St. Joseph's Feast Day, we have to go out to dinner at the Polish restaurant"
Aaron (a convert)
"Wait, what?  Isn't that why we put candy in shoes?"
"No, that was St. Nicholas's Day in December"
"I think you are making this stuff up"

While watching The Walking Dead (a show about zombies), as a girl has to decide whether to shoot her infected sister..
"If you were a walker, I'd shoot you dead in the face"
"I'd shoot you before. "Did you get bit? No? Well we can't chance it""

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why the Steubenville rape case is heartbreaking...

...in more ways than one.

The Steubenville rape case has been on my heart for quite a few months.  I went to college in Steubenville and so I am familiar with the culture. I remember when I was a freshman trying to comprehend why high school football was such a big deal!  When I saw Steubenville in the news, I started to pay attention.  The more attention I paid, the more disturbed I was.  I am going to share with you some of the reasons I think this case is a lot more complicated than people are naming, and I am going to share with you how I think we are all, at least a little, to blame.

I am in no way trying to excuse the actions that took place on that horrible night in Steubenville. For those of you that don’t know, a girl was raped repeatedly while drunk to the point of being passed out.  She was dragged to multiple locations, many people were involved, and people posted videos of her being taken from one place to the next.  Social media sites had pictures of her, jokes about her, etc…And, as though that isn’t evil enough, apparently at least a few people in the town tried to ‘protect’ their football stars by covering up/using false information/etc…  I firmly believe any adult who actively participated in covering up these crimes should be forced to face severe consequences. And I was wish that was being talked about more.
But that aside, I think we need to start reflecting about the complexity of this case.

When the group ANNONYMOUS decided to get involved, they posted video/social media links from that night.  On a random Saturday evening, I watched.  And I was shocked and horrified. I could not believe the sheer number of young people involved.  As I watched the twenty minute video of young men (who were clearly wasted) laughing about the torture and exploitation of the young girl, I was sick to my stomach.  In the video background, people come in and out of the room, so many people aware this was happening.  And then, whoever made that video, even if just for a short amount of time, posted it to youtube, so they could brag on social media about how it felt to victimize the wasted girl.   As I watched the video, I thought about the young people I work for, and I wondered, if in a similar circumstance, would they be willing to do the right thing?  Would they be willing to step up and say, ‘this is wrong’?  I wondered if the young people I work for understand the danger of using drugs/alcohol, when the lines between right and wrong are blurred by impaired judgment.  I wondered if I will be diligent enough to raise my own boys to understand the importance of self-control, respect for women and standing up against peer pressure.   I wondered what in society, would lead young people to make such systematically poor decisions on a night that altered the lives of so many families . 

And the conclusion I have drawn is although we should be horrified of the events on that tragic night in Steubenville, we should not be surprised.  And, I’d like to explain why.

We should not be surprised because we live in a culture where the ‘fist pump’ dance was popularized by a group of people who Barbara Walters called, ‘the most fascinating’.  The men of the Jersey Shore have taught us that the’ ideal day’ is a day consisting of going to the gym, tanning, and doing some laundry.  That’s the ideal day.  Night is something different though. At night, these men go on the prowl, avoiding the ‘grenades’ (less than attractive women who keep them from the hotties), mocking the intoxication of their peers, and stopping at nothing to make sure they get laid after a night of partying.  I’m not throwing stones here, I watch reality tv with the best of them. I’m just saying, when young men look at a women as solely objects meant to bring them gratification…we should not be surprised.

We should not be surprised because we live in a culture where the number one series for women last year was a series about the handsome Christian Gray.  Cloaked in mystery and romance, women flocked by the millions to read the tale of Fifty Shades of Gray…making it a number one best seller, and helping it shatter book sale statistics.  ‘Women love this book’, media tells us.  It happens to be a book about a woman who chooses to be tortured and enter a world of sadomasochism, but hey…isn’t that what sex and romance is all about?  Again, I am not throwing stones; all of my literary choices don’t reflect the true, the good and the beautiful.  I’m just saying, when women enjoy reading a distorted book about a fictional character being tortured by her lover, should we really be SHOCKED when young people struggle to understand the sacredness of sex and the importance of boundries?

We should not be surprised because the message we send young men from a very early age is respect depends on the ability to control the other.  We teach young men sexual pleasure is something to pursued, bragged about, and experienced with no consequences.  We teach this through our music (“shake ya a$$, watch yourself, shake ya a$$, show me what you’re workin with”), we teach through our magazines (sports illustrated swimsuit edition, shockingly, wasn’t meant for women), we teach through our movies and most of all, we teach through social media.  Social media, where pornography is so rampant and starts so young, the statistics in terms of those addicted by their early twenties are mind-blowing. 

And yet, we act surprised when teenage men  act out a night rape and abuse.

Here’s where I might cross a line, but I am going to do it anyway.  When I first heard this story, a bit of my heart broke for this young woman, a woman who was exploited by a whole community and will wear those scars forever.  But, when the guilty verdict was read the other day, and pictures were shown of two guilty young men breaking down (along with their families) as the reality of consequences finally caught up to them, my heart broke a little for them as well.  The bottom line is we are training young men, through popular culture, to be sexual pigs, and then, when they act that out in a night of intoxicated abuse, we act surprised.

And the next time I make a choice about the music I am listening to, the books I am reading, the movies I am watching, I am going to consider the messages they are celebrating.  Because, you know what?  Our youth deserve better.  Much, Much better, than what we are demanding for them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes born from a lack of sleep

--- 1 ---
Can't sleep, that stinks more than I can articulate. This week has been really tough on me sleep wise.  I am not even sure it has anything to do with the cookin' child either.  More like the second eldest who has decided it is completely appropriate to wake up every three hours, and a mom who is unable to fall back asleep quickly.  Anyway, 4:00 am has pretty much become my norm of being up and not being able to fall back asleep. You know, till about six, when the kids get up!  Then, I am all sorts of ready to sleep ;)  
--- 2 ---
You might want to skip ahead to three.  You've been warned.  Who are we kidding?  You're not skipping ahead.  Well, here goes.
 I am SO SICK of professional Church workers, who receive a PAYCHECK from the Catholic Church, entrusted to hand down the Deposit of Faith as defined by the Catholic Church, who instead hand down their own twisted version of what that means.  OR, better yet, those that are actually aggressive towards the ACTUAL Church and don't seem to like it very much.  I am SO sick of them. Like, So.sick.  And here's the thing, YOU AREN'T A PROPHET.  Actually, you are a heretic.  Don't get it twisted. Thanks, I feel better.
--- 3 ---
(you might wanna skip this one too)
Now, I am not one who gets all,  "'throw them stones'- like" when it comes to wealth inequality (newsflash- while you are freaking out about the top two percent, please remember most of you are living in a reality of the WORLD'S top five percent).   However, I have spent some time thinking about what I think is excess, both in my personal life (maybe more on that later) and in the reality of the American Catholic Church (i.e. building expansions, the way some priests/bishops live, etc...).  Anyway, I really think Pope Francis is going to give a tremendous witness when it comes to this.  I REALLY think we are going to be challenged to consider the 'needs' in our lives instead of the wants.  The crisis of conscience that some of us faithful might have to go through will be difficult.  Stay tuned.
--- 4 ---
Yikes, these are all turning out to be a little soap box-y.  So, I love me some World Youth Day.  I mean LOVE me some (for those of you that might not be Catholics, WYDs are international gatherings of Catholic youth, that happen every 2-3 years, and generally draw crowds of a million or more).  WYDs were significant in my life and the lives of so many others. I would not be a youth minister, would not have the faith I have, etc...if it weren't for these beautiful gatherings.  However, I have struggled to defend the resources that go into putting on such a massive event (and getting pilgrims there), but have allowed that to rest in the back of my mind.  With our new pope first asking his countrymen not to attend his installment as bishop and now asking his countrymen not to attend his papal installment...because he believes the money should go to the poor...it kind of makes me wonder. I am REALLY curious how he is going to respond to WYD.  Any thoughts?
--- 5 ---
FACT- Aaron Christopher Wilkerson II is a comedian.  I mean an honest to goodness comedian.  He says things in funny voices, he loves to make me/others laugh, and laughing seems to be his favorite thing (especially at naptime).  I am falling in love with this kid more and more everyday.
--- 6 ---
Speaking of falling in love with one's children, we have an official crawler, which causes me much anxiety.  Our hardwood/ceramic tile floors make for a hazardous wasteland when it comes to children exploring their new found mobility.  Here's hoping for no more emergency trips.
--- 7 ---
Last weekend, I was driving on the highway and got turned around, and while checking my GPS,  I took my eyes off the road for a few seconds.  Stopped traffic in front of me was unexpected and so, through poor reaction choices, I ended up skidding, my car turning all the way to the left, then because I overcompensated,  flipping around to the right.  When I stopped, I was facing oncoming traffic.  Two things.  1)  The car behind me stopped, and instead of being a jerk about it, the man (though the window) waved and mouthed, 'you're okay'...sometimes people rock a lot. 2)  Life is incredibly short and we do not know how long we have to live on this planet.  
Nothing happened, I am not trying to be dramatic...but as I calmed myself down, and started to drive away, I thought a lot about what COULD have happened,where my soul's at, and do my husband/children know how much I love them every minute of everyday?  Anyway.  Good stuff to reflect on.

Go check out more 7QT ;)
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oh you wanted my papal thoughts...

Since I know you have all been anxiously awaiting my thoughts on the conclave, the election, and our new pope, I thought I would spare you any further stress...voila

It was so exciting!  Who knew how fantastically exciting this process could be!?! I am about to tell you something that I didn't realize until the eve of the conclave.  When Pope John Paul II died, I did not pay any attention at all to the process of the election.  See, to me, JPII was more than a Pope, when he died, for a variety of reasons, my heart was broken. I had just started working in the Church, I started to realize not everyone that worked for the Church, loved the Church, and frankly, I was losing my ability to see things with a hopeful heart.  When he died, it was like a friend died. I had no interest at.all. in seeing who would replace my friend. I didn't pay attention, I was happy about Ratzinger, but I would never describe it as exciting.

It wasn't until this time, I realized that I didn't pay attention to Pope Benedict XVI's election because my heart was broken.  I had not put two and two together.  Well, that led me to watch a few videos on my boy JPII and that had me in hysterics.  I was in my bed, praying to the Lord that the Church would elect someone like him this time.  Frankly, I was begging God to allow Dolan's election to happen.  Not just because I like him, it was more than that.  I was praying that God would give us another pope who so clearly showed the Love/Joy/Excitement that comes with being a disciple of Christ.

I have told many of you, on the morning of the first vote (um, three days ago) I was driving in my car and once again begging for the Holy Spirit to somehow work a miracle and inspire the hearts of the cardinals to elect Dolan or someone like him.  A tangible witness of joy. During that prayer (these were, no joke, very intense prayers, God and I were having an actual conversation), the good Lord reminded me that he's 'got this'.  He reminded me, the world is very much bigger than what I could see.  He reminded me, He knows  so much more than I ever could...that He cares for the hearts of His people.  Lastly, He spoke very clearly to me and said, "Please remember, your prayers...they are to end with a 'not my will, but YOURS be done".  Gotcha God...I started to prepare myself for the announcement.

I had a very very frustrating day at work on Wednesday.  I work for a Catholic Church, as many of you know. I guess, I am of the belief, if you work for a Catholic Church and white smoke goes up...the world kind of shuts down and you get to be a part of Church History.  Apparently, not many other people I work with felt that way.  I don't have anything else to say about that.

As I said, I couldn't watch when the white smoke blew- I had no way of watching it live.  About 1/2 hour after the smoke, I got a text from a local number, but not one that I recognized...it said, 'Oh my gosh Mary, are you freaking out?!?!  Dolan, Dolan!!! Are you freaking out???'.  Then I got a second text from a friend (that ended up being totally coincidental) saying, 'are you totally freaking out right now?!?!'.  Funny joke men, well played.  Of course, for a hot second, I thought my boy got it, I called my friend John who let me know there had not been an announcement.  Mike and Erik- I believe both of you read my blog.  Payback is a word that I don't use in written form, but be ready. It WONT be pretty.

I got to a tv for fifteen minutes, I saw the announcement.  A picture flashed on the screen of a grumpy looking old guy...  I was bummed. I mean bummed.  But, chose to trust.

On the radio on way back to work I was slowly discovering who this man from Argentina was.   Wait he is a Jesuit?  Wait, he chose the name Francis?!?!!?  Wait, he lives in an apartment, rides the bus and cooks his own meals?  What the what? Stop the presses.  WAIT, A JESUIT CHOSE THE NAME FRANCIS (insert text to my friend Sean (Jesuit background) who has razzed me for years about the Franciscans)???  My husband called and said, 'Mary, you have to check this guy out, these quotes from him are pretty unbelievable'.  And so I did.  THEN, I saw a picture of him smiling.  Be still my heart.  He's got it.

Just three more things to say about our boy.
First-  this meme sums everything up for me.  When I first saw it, I didn't like it.  It seemed to indicate that the other popes were lacking in the virtue not describing them.  Then, I sat with it and lemme tell you- I adore seeing the Will of  the Father so clearly laid out through the Church His Son instituted.  Be. still. my. heart.

Second-  This pope is going to make a lot of people who like to use labels, feel desperately uncomfortable.  As I said to a facebook friend yesterday, the Catholic Church is staunchly pro-social justice (with an option for the poor), hugely pro-personal responsibility and, finally, unwavering in her stances on Faith and Morals.  You see, this ain't a progressive pope.  This ain't a traditional pope.  This ain't a liberal pope and this ain't a conservative pope.  This guy is the real deal.  This guy is Catholic.  And to those of you, like myself, that work for the Church...he just upped the ante.  And he did it by his example. More to say on that in upcoming weeks...


Peace and love!

Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

...in which I share with you my highs and lows of the week!
--- 1 ---
Aaron and I went away last weekend to celebrate our debt-freeness (do you get bored hearing about the journey?!?!) I hope not.  We stayed in a super fancy hotel, ate delicious food (crab and lobster stuffed Barramundi- um, yes please!), and spent time relaxing.  It was awesome!

--- 2 ---
Not so High
Okay, so you know how we have two children?  And I am working on the third?  Well, for the past month, all I could think about was sleeping in for TWO STRAIGHT DAYS and doing nothing but relaxing for close to 48 hours.  We decided not to go 'out of town' but to stay local for our weekend away, mostly because I was afraid the being sick would hinder any awesome that we might experience, so I didn't want to waste hundreds of dollars going somewhere fun and warm, if I was just going to vomit the weekend away (TMI- oh well- it's truth).  Our weekend away was spectacular, but I was sick on Friday/Saturday (does throwing up in a brown paper bag on the way to the hotel count?!?!).  Not a complaint, just a statement of fact.  And then, how weird is this...but we didn't really sleep in.  I think the first night I slept 6 hours and the second I hit 7.  More than usual?  Heck yes!  Back to the ol' days of single hood  sleeping in till 11:00-12:00 before rolling out of bed?  I think not.  Children ruin you...but, they are cute, so it is worth it.
--- 3 ---
So, I can be, how you say, presumptuous sometimes. And, unfortunately, I sometimes presume that people are going to be negative about my Catholic life choice. I go into situations defensive (one day I have GOT to share how I was going to share our third pregnancy with the social media world, it was pretty much a, 'screw you haters' instead of a joyful announcement).  Anyway, I was CERTAIN my secular OB was going to be so angry when she found out we were pregnant with our third in three years. I met with her assistant two weeks ago, and she was supportive, but did go through a run down of, 'how did this happen, what is your future plan, etc...'.  Um, my OB was FANTASTIC.  She walked in the room and said, 'my favorite customers back again! I am so happy for you'.  Then, went on to not only show me my kid (shim is pretty cute), but to really talk me through the risks that might be associated.  At the end I said, 'I was so afraid you were going to yell at me'.  And she said, 'you know I have got to be honest, I see parents in here all the time that I am worried about in terms of having children, you and your husband are SUCH good people, I love that you are populating the world with adorable children'.  UM...What?!?!  I felt terrible for judging how she would respond before giving her the chance to respond, and it made me think of my friend Mary's blog on a similar topic.  Looks like I am still a work in progress.
--- 4 ---
Not so High
The husband and I are really trying to figure out a way to make it to my brother's house (outside of DC) for our newest goddaughter's Baptism.  Well, today, we figured it out, and I am very VERY psyched (that is a high), the kind of bummer is, I will have to wait about a year to get new couches.  This is TOTALLY a #firstworldproblem (misuse of the hash-tag, oh, how I long to be relevant), but I cannot stand our couches.  They were really 'cool' when we bought them, but totally uncomfortable, made for lounging (as opposed to sitting, which is really embarrassing when guests are over), and one of the cushions has a massive tear.  Then, I realized I am giving a talk the Saturday of the Baptism weekend, so we are going to have to fly out psychotically early on Sunday, in order to roll in just in time for the Baptism.  BUT, how freaking awesome that we get to go and that the ol' hubster is making it happen. I like him.  A lot.

--- 5 ---
Totally participated in two link ups...and got like 3 new followers :) I am pretty much legit, you didn't know that did you?  Now you do.

--- 6 ---
Lowest of Lows
So, remember when I dropped lil' A on his head at 3 weeks (if you forgot, you can read about it here.  That was a pretty big bummer.  Last year, when there was a recall on BUMBO seats and people were suing the company because their kids were falling out of them I thought (and said outloud), 'typical America, people sue companies because they are too stupid to know they shouldn't freaking leave their freaking child on a plastic seat on a kitchen table'.  Flash forward to Wednesday, and I freaking left my child on a freaking plastic seat on our kitchen table (while I went to grab his baby food), and I left him really close to the edge.  Joey grabbed one of our metal chairs and used it to rock himself right off our table, and flying to the ground. Big A immediately swept him up, he was screaming, but we could tell he was fine.  I followed behind them (Big A for some reason had gone to the bathroom) and then realized there was blood (insert freak out 1) a LOT of blood (insert freak out 2) and we couldn't figure out where it was coming from (freak out 3).  Turns out he had split one of his fingers, almost to the bone.  We went to the ER, and when bandaged it didn't look terrible.  But, it was bad enough that when the resident took off the bandage, what she said was, 'I'll have to go get the Attendee'.  5.5 hours, a baby sedation, and a few stitches later, and we were as good as new.  Well, kind of.  I mean, how desperate does this picture look?  I'm telling you, parenting, it ain't no joke.
--- 7 ---
Super High
We are not cosleepers, our children rarely, if ever, are in our bed.  However, sometimes Aaron goes to play basketball late, and instead of falling asleep alone, I always go get the eldest and snuggle with him to sleep.  Co-sleeping rocks! :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Workin' mom link-up

Colleen, over at Martin Family Moments had the awesome idea of doing a 'Working Moms Link Up'.  Now, obviously, every mom is constantly working, but there is something different about working outside your home part time/full time...so I am super psyched to participate.

As many of you know, I have REALLY struggled with working and being a mom.  Working as a professional Coordinator of Youth Ministry and being the mom to two kids under two, whilst cookin' another, has been really REALLY tough for me!   But, there have been some joys/lessons mixed in there too.
I am going to answer Colleen's suggested questions...here goes...

1) What do you do for work and why do you work?
I work as a Coordinator of Youth Ministry at a parish in Michigan.  I have been here for almost ten years!  A very, very long time ago (my sophomore year in high school) I felt a strong and clear call from God to serve him through working with young people.  That call was solidified in college and the Lord has made the path pretty clear, even opening up a job in my hometown for a Coordinator position at the perfect parish for me.  It became clear to  me, about two years ago, that working in this particular job, with little kids would not be ideal.  However, at the time, the husband and I had over 80k in student/car/credit card debt.  So, I have been working both to give my parish a good amount of time to transition to a new youth minister AND to do the responsible thing and pay off the money we owe due to decisions we made :)

2) Did your mother work?
She did not. I think that is what makes it so hard for me to work (one of the things) I cannot be the wife/mother that I would like to be, or thought I would be, and do the job that I am currently doing.

3) Describe a typical work day.
The great news is that I do not work everyday. I only work two full days a week, then I work evenings and weekends.  Part of why this job has been so tough with babies is that I don't have a typical day.  I have gotten so so so much better at planning, but for the most part, my job is quite sporadic and the hours are very inconsistent (meaning not the same, not that there are no hours).  On one of the days that I work, we have an awesome sitter come to our house. She takes care of the boys while I am at work all day. Mornings are a bit chaotic, mostly trying to make sure our house is presentable enough to have someone in it.  Our bedroom door is always closed due to the HUGE mess it is, I bet she thinks we have dead bodies in there.  The other day, I pack up the kids and bring them to my parents.  Aaron picks them up after work, since I work late that day.  It is not easy to get two kids out of the house and over to my parents, but we are so so so blessed that they help us out one day a week and we can save on the babysitter, because sitters, dang, they cost a lot (and ours is awesome and doesn't cost us an arm and a leg!).

4) What's the best part about having a job?
Working with teenagers and allowing their faith to inspire me is the coolest thing that I get to do.  Getting to see teens who might have otherwise been shy and insecure, blossom through a program that shows them they are loved is fantastic.  Having flexibility has been necessary and awesome.  Having a boss that trusts me, allows for flexibility (including working from home sometimes) and supports me is HUGELY beneficial.

5) What's your least favorite part?
I have to go out of town.  A LOT.  When my son was 6 months old, I realized I was out of town over a month of his short life (it was a really weird time in youth ministry).  I had to leave him at 3 months for 16 days to go World Youth Day.  Women are built differently, I get that now.  Some women can be out of town/leave/etc...and be just fine. I felt closer to insanity in those 16 days than I have ever felt in my life.  I vowed I would never leave my children for that length of time again.  AND, I told Aaron almost immediately after, I could no longer do the job I loved.

6) What would make your life easier?
ah, this question is tough.  my husband has been a rockstar and truly has made things a lot lot lot easier.  But honesty, the only thing that would make this job easier would not be doing this job, or having regular hours.  But, this job demands irregular hours, which is why I shall be stepping down from it soon.

7) How do your children handle their mom's career?
Weirdly enough, my kids are SO young that at this point, it only benefits them.  They get very used to strangers, very early on.  They are super easily adaptable.  I don't think (fingers crossed) I have caused them any real damage by leaving them when I have to go out of town.  I remember, when my husband broke it to me that I would have to work at least another 1.5 years  before I could be home I cried and cried and cried.  But, he reminded me that my kids would never remember a time when their mom wasn't there with them.  I felt good about that.

8) Do you feel supported in what you do?
My husband is awesome.  Especially now that I am cooking our third kid.  This morning, for example, he got up with the kids at 6:00 am while I slept.  He changed them, fed them, and cleaned the kitchen/family room for the babysitter.  When I woke up, he let me eat before I jumped into helping mode (If I don't eat, the level of sick I get is hard to describe).  That is just one example.  Whenever I get overwhelmed, he says, 'Mary, we are Team WILKERSON, say it!' and then really steps up. I feel supported by my friends/family...they constantly tell us how proud they are that we are crawling ourselves out of debt.  SOMETIMES, not often, I feel unsupported by the VERY FEW people in the Catholic world of tradition (as opposed to orthodoxy) who consider it almost sinful to work.  But those voices are VERY few and far between, isn't it funny though how those voices sometimes stick out?!?!

9) What are your future goals when it comes to work/motherhood?
I will probably end up back in the work force at some point after retiring from youth ministry in July. Many, many people have said they can't see me totally content at home, I just don't know.  I have some potential work options, so that is exciting. But, for awhile at least, I will be the caretaker of my sweet little family.  In addition, my friend Mike and I are starting up a ministry (It actually already happens, but we are naming it) of retreats/speaking/etc...for our local area.  We have great success when working with young people and our presentation style seems to be really well received by lots of people.  I am going to have to be careful that the ministry doesn't become full time, because it easily could.  However, I love that I will still be able to work with young people, share whatever gifts God might have given me, and have a blast while doing it.  More on that in the future...

10) What are some tips that help you balance it all?
This is lamo, but I have really sucked at it, so I don't really have any tips to share.  Maybe the only good constructive tip I could share is to be honest with your spouse. I have cried with Aaron, talked to Aaron, asked him for help and for advice.  If I didn't have him as a partner, I would not have been able to manage the past year.

Thanks for the Link-Up Colleen, you rock!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Liebster Award!

So, Patty over at the Happy Hubbard Family, hit me up with the Liebster Award.  99.9% of the time I avoid link-ups and connecting thing-y-s...mostly because the rules are generally too complicated for me to understand.  That is why I participate in 7 Quick Takes, because it is nice and easy! But, alas, I am a sucker for learning facts about others and sharing facts about myself, so, alas... I am participating.  At the end, I will be nominating some others, don't feel like you have to do it, but if you have time, as stated, I love me some facts about others.

So, without further ado...My 11 Facts

1.  In 2009 I went to the Holy Land on a Pilgrimage.  While at Cana (as in the wedding feast) I wrote an intention and prayed that the Lord would either bring me my spouse or move my heart to be content with the fact that I would remain single.  3 weeks later I went on my first date with my husband, we were engaged six months later, and married 9 days after our first date.  He is a true miracle

2.  .I have 14 books of journals that I began when I was in 10th grade.  If I ever die, one of my besties, Bree has strict instructions to hide said books, because they are very angsty and say not nice things at times.

3.  Like the lovely lady that nominated me, I am a bit older than my husband (4.3 years).  Him and I are very different in oh, so many ways. And yet, our faith walk together has always been our strength. I think we make each other better people and we really push each other (sometimes to hard) to be our best selves.  I really like him.

4. I really dig reality tv.  I have very low standards when it comes to the shows that I will watch :)

5.  I have, more than once, driven to Niagra Falls, on a whim to see the sunset.  The first time was on a random Tuesday my sophomore year of college. My two best friends at the time (Paul/Leah) and I used to go to Mass and dinner on Tuesdays.  One day, we were like, we should do something crazy, lets drive to Niagra FAlls to see the sunset.  And so we did.  And then we drove home in time for class the next day.  It was awesome.  So awesome that I did it several more times after that!

6. I love to read, but since the arrival of my second child have not finished one book. I am thinking that reading might not occur for a couple more years.

7. I once drove to the grand canyon and back in 36 hours.  I did so with five other people.  In a pick up truck. It was one of those pick up trucks that has a cap over the back.  Four of us rode in the back, two up front. It was by far one of the most adventurous things I have ever done.

8.  My favorite book is 'Catcher and the Rye', I used to read it once a year.

9.  My favorite movie is 'Dead Poet's Society' though I haven't watched it in several years.

10.  I took out a $1000 loan the last two months at Franciscan University. I did this in order to party the last two months at Franciscan University and not have to worry about the finances of it.  Aaron called it my 'bad decision loan', it was the first one we paid off when we began our journey to be out of debt.  In retrospect, he was right!

11. I have been to five continents, and 18 countries (I think) and a crud ton of states.  I love to travel, it is my favorite thing.  When I was pregnant with Lil' Aaron, I realized my travelin' days were probably done for a really long time. It made me sad. I cried. Then, I realized this life is a lot better than the travelin' life!

Questions from Patty from thehappyhubbardfamily
1.  Favorite Saint and Why
St. John Bosco.  His love for youth and his method of working with them has inspired tears from me on more than one occasion.  "Get them to love you and they'll follow you anywhere" has been the most important advice I ever received for working with young people.
2. Why you started blogging
I started blogging to record our family history now that I don't journal, it has become something much bigger than that now :)
3.  Name something you have always wanted to learn
How to cook :)  right spouse?!?!?
4.  1 place you want to travel to and why
Turin, Italy, it is the home of St. John Bosco, many people have prayed for me there, but I have never made it!  One day!
5.  When you have some money favorite store to shop and splurge at
Old Navy :)
6.  Best book you have ever read and why
Ha!  See above, Catcher and the Rye. I think it does a good job explaining the confusion of adolescence.
7.  2 Questions you want to ask Jesus someday when you meet him in Heaven
Wow, this is good and hard.  Um, 1) How do you experience emotion?  2)  Did I do okay?
8.  Favorite Disney of all time
Hmmm, is Mary Poppins a Disney movie?
9.  What animal best describes your personality and why?
Wow.  Another tough one, um...have I metioned I don't like pets/animals?  this is tough.  um, I like monkeys.  They are fun and energetic but are pretty dangerous moody creatures...lol, sounds like me!  Just ask my husband!
10.  Favorite blog to follow and why
Wow, this is hard too, because I like a lot of them.  Because it will be too hard to choose between all the small ones I love, I will write Simcha  Fisher's 'I have to sit down'.  She is one of the 'bigger blogs' I follow and actually, when it comes to faith she writes pretty much everything I think!  I'd like to be her friend in real life :) But, truth be told, she is  not my favorite.  My favorites are the smaller ones I read, by people like the people I will nominate.  The ones that are about day to day marriage and family life.  those are my fav.
11.  Biggest Lesson you've learned in life so far
That as long as you are following God, it is best to trust that he is setting up a path for your best life ever.  I doubted His plan a lot in my twenties, when I sure I should have been married, and was lonely.  I thought He was playing tricks with me.  I was very wrong.  He was creating the life that I live now, and preparing my convert husband to be able to handle all of thisssss....and everything worked out just as it should have :)

Alright, now on to the people I will be nominating.  Here are your eleven questions.  This takes a really long time though (be warned) so...I will not be offended AT.ALL. if you don't have the time to do it or would rather pass on it!  BUT, I would like to know things about you, so think about it :)

1.  Happiest memory
2.  Most difficult life experience that you are now on the other side of
3.  Why did you start blogging
4.  What is your favorite blog
5.  Who is a person that you KNOW (in real life) that you currently admire most
6.  What is your favorite EASY dish to make
7.  Favorite song (you have to choose just one)
8.  Best place you have ever visited
9.  1 of your life goals
10.  What is your favorite thing to do with children
11. When have you felt closest to God?  How did that come about?

My nominees 

Friday, March 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes...

--- 1 ---
So, I am about to do a 'pay it forward' take because I read this when I first started blogging and now, it is my turn to help the world.  If you are a blogger, it is a great idea to disable the security thingy that makes you punch in a bunch of letters/numbers in order to leave a comment. This can be easily done in your settings, AND, you can still set it so that you have to approve the comments before they post (if you feel that is necessary).  IF you disable it, people will comment on your blogs more, because it is way easier to comment.  For instance, trying to comment from a smart phone enter those stupid codes is close to impossible. I can't tell you how many times I have said, 'forget it'.  And not said the brilliant thing I wanted to add.  However, if you don't like comments, disregard my words. 
--- 2 ---
So, at 8:05 am, I realized I was allowing Lil' Aaron to drink pepsi out of his sippy cup.  Best mom ever?  See, I can't drink coffee without having to revisit it a half an hour later, so I have been drinking 1/2 glass of soda in the morning (and, weirdly enough, it helps settle my stomach, don't judge, you do what you gotta do).  Anyway, Aaron often approaches me with his sippy to put my drink in his drink. It is usually milk/water, so no biggie.  This morning, it was a biggie.  BUT, what makes me the world's best mom, is after I realized it, I continued to allow it. I rock.
--- 3 ---
So, my sweet Joey Mike.  I am experiencing some mommy guilt with him.  You see, he is like, the best kid ever.  No joke. He will play, quietly and contently by himself for hours.  And then, here is the kicker, if you say, 'Hi Joey Michael' he will look up at you and smile the biggest smile.  BUT, because he is SO good and the whole, 'do what ya gotta do when you feel like crap all the time' (not a complaint), I am just kind of letting him be.  BUT, he is SO sweet.  And so, as I was driving home from a talk yesterday, I ended up feeling pretty bad that I don't 'give' him more affection/time/etc... poor boy's whole life lights up if I just say his name.  I'm gonna make a commitment to snuggle him more.
--- 4 ---
So those of you that are Catholic, how freaking proud to be Catholic were we yesterday???? I don't care who you are, I LOVE our Church. I LOVE our history, I ADORE our traditions and I love that we have a Peter who loves us.  I was SHOCKED by the positive reporting yesterday, because  I am so used to hearing secular media talk about all the reasons the Church sucks.  Yesterday was a sad day, because saying goodbye is always a bummer, but yesterday was a great day, because our Church, well, here's the thing...it really rocks.
--- 5 ---
This is a big weekend. It is a weekend we have been waiting for for many, many moons.  This is our, 'was suppose to be a cruise, but I am knocked up again, so we will do something special anyway that is very much not a cruise' weekend. It is going to e fancy. I am going to sleep. I will tell you all about it.  BUT, lemme just spoiler alert and let you know it starts at about 2:30 pm for me, and it will be 100% kid free.  I adore my kids, but, the sleep is gonna be more awesome than I can describe!
--- 6 ---
So, little Aaron has an awful time eating food he is suppose to.  Usually, we just let him go hungry (we don't give in) and put up with whines for the next couple hours.  BUT,  yesterday, I had a brilliant idea.  I put one M&M on the big table, while he was in his high chair refusing to eat.  He, of course, FREAKED out for the M&M, and I told him he could have it AFTER he finished his whole meal.  Well, wouldn't you know, he ate EVERYTHING on his tray.  Here is the question.  Is the method okay, because it is like, 'dessert after you eat your meal'? Or, is it tragic, because it is using bribery to get him to do what he should do without bribery?  Help a sister out...I am really trying to avoid raising brats!  So, if your kids are none brats, what do you think?
--- 7 ---
And finally, we got family pictures done. I keep tell you guys, but our boy's photographer is pretty much the best ever.  For under 100 he will spend and hour with you and then, give you the rights to ALL your pictures, so you can print them/use them/post them on blogs/etc... Please let me know if you want his contact.  :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!