Thursday, May 24, 2007

Suburban housewives have a woman after their own heart

I sometimes think the saints had it easy in a way... some of their choices were so crystal clear. I always think that I'd certainly proclaim Jesus Christ as my Savior if faced with imminent death by a firing squad. Martyrdom gives you the black and white choice of Life vs. cowardly betrayal. Seems easy huh? Then while I envision myself on my heavenly cloud ascending brilliantly to heaven for my brave choice, I have another thought: I'd give my life for the name of Jesus... but would I jump into a pit of teeming poisonous spiders for Him? Would I tend to the wounds of an HIV infected person for Him? Would I do simple, annoying things for His glory and without a second thought? So often I do not... I waste my Cross.

Suddenly, I'm scrambling for a parachute as God backhands me off my cloud of glory.

Today is the anniversary of Blessed Mother Teresa's final profession as a Loretto sister. Here is a lovely piece my friend sent to me that really speaks to our own hearts. I especially pondered this thought:

"Sometimes it would be easier to love a beggar dying in the street than the neighbor who growls at my children if a stray ball rolls in their yard."

Again that black and white choice of being IN IT with the poor and destitute of the world seems much more simple and noble than what I'm called to do in my life: smile at the cranky neighbor, pray for the man that cut me off in traffic, change diaper after diaper after diaper and prepare nourishing meals for my hardworking husband.


one of us :: 12:37 PM :: 2 Comments


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

and even more on gardening

I'll have all of you know that my thumb is anything but green. I appreciate beautiful gardens and I long to have one myself but I don't know a thing about anything. I don't know about what plants go where or how deep or when to water, fertilize, etc. It's so overwhelming to me that I can look at my little plot of a yard (which is mostly concrete and pea gravel) and feel quite depressed that it's never going to have the glorious foliage adorning it that I'd like. Despite this, I'm determined to do SOMETHING. Last week my husband and I started ripping out some ugly plants and weeds out of our front yard and extended the border or the garden area but pulling up the grass. It felt so darn rewarding when we were finished to see the beautiful brown dirt in between nicely spaced plants (it really was quite overgrown and poorly designed to begin with). And then I picked up a neat little book I've been reading that makes me feel just a wee bit better about NOT being out there weeding and planting and doing what I want in my heart to do. I felt guilty because I feel like a garden is so much WORK. Of couse I want fresh tomatoes and basil and raspberries and lovely flowers bordering our walkway. Who doesn't?! But I get a sinking feeling whenever I think of how much work it involves to maintain a garden. This passage struck me:

A garden tends to get inside us. If we go there to accomplish something or get something, the garden soon becomes a burden. With expectations that it must look good or produce no matter what, we will soon grow tired. The garden is really a place in which we can give ourselves away. This is true of any serious contemplation too. We are transformed by it. We are reduced and revealed by it. In it we may experience a lived sense of our connection to the earth, to our inner freedom, and to the Sacred, the ground of our existence. For me, gardening is a process that invites me to be fully engaged. It is also a constant exercise in letting go since so much happens that is not in my control. Strangely this duality seems to cultivate a joy that embraces impermanence and finds refuge in the invisible... I want to trust that with reverence for place and awareness of my foibles, I can grow to be more present and a better steward of my small corner of the earth. (Gunilla Norris in "A Mystic Garden: Working with soil, Attending to soul")

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one of us :: 7:45 PM :: 2 Comments


Monday, May 21, 2007

A book for Spring

We've just finished planting this year's little vegetable garden... lots of produce to look forward to!
One of our readers just expressed interest in how to get started on her own garden. Whether you live in the city or on land, you can have a garden of some sort. There are a few basics to starting a garden: choose a South-Eastern facing part of the yard; take out the grass and turn it into a vegetable garden by adding fertilizers and more topsoil if needed; start a compost pile with your kitchen scraps, etc. These are just the basics, but everything you need to know is here in this book below. If you're any type of serious gardener, growing flowers or vegetables, I'd like to recommend a great book to have around. Lately I've been reading THE NEW ORGANIC GROWER: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, by Eliot Coleman of Four Season's Farm in Harborside, Maine. This book has been a real treat for me to read over my lunch lately. It has always been my reference book whenever spring hits. As one reviewer said, he transforms gardening from a task to a craft, and finally to a 'local science'...

This book is not only an excellent manual but also incredibly motivating! Whenever I read any part of it it just increases my desire to learn more about growing my own food and to get on top of more projects such as growing our own salads all winter long in greenhouses... ah, to have more land!


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one of us :: 10:05 PM :: 3 Comments


Thursday, May 17, 2007

more prayers

We have a couple new additions on our expectant mother prayer list. Please continue to keep them and all mothers in your prayers and forward us the names of anyone who may be expecting that you know. Also I'd direct your attention to Kim due next month. Her family is dealing with a heavy cross already with their 7 year old daughter who has cancer. May the peace of Christ reign in the hearts of those who suffer for Him!

one of us :: 3:47 PM :: 0 Comments


Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord.
Today, I also want to ask our readers to keep a particular family in your prayers; they've been longtime friends of my family; I've grown up with these children in the parish of my childhood. This father of 6 was killed yesterday in a logging accident. His name is Emil; he was a good and gentle man. The family has been preparing for the oldest daughter's wedding. The oldest son is in seminary. The youngest is still in grade school. I ache for the pain they must be feeling and ask that God uses it for the conversion of souls.

one of us :: 8:20 AM :: 1 Comments


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

St. Isidore

St. Isidore, pray for us!!

I don't have much experience in the world of farming, but I did spend a solid few years tending an acre of land in Ohio where I grew vegetables and flowers, mulched our fruit trees and built compost piles. I got up every morning to weed and do whatever work there was to do before it got too hot outside. After 2 pm I'd go back outside and work till dusk. All day it was silent, save the sound of the birds, the bees, the distant barking dogs. It was just the earth and myself. I was very in tune with the weather. I always knew when it would rain, when a storm was coming. I can't think of another time in my life when I was more alive, more in-tune with God's voice. I was at peace in my heart, mind and whole being. It was, spiritually, probably the richest time in my life I can remember.
I miss having land to cultivate. However, I am also now a mother of 2 babies and seem to have a lot less time now to devote to anything other than the simple humble, everyday tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, diapers and nursing. I don't think I'd be capable of tending lots of land right now anyway! I have a new path to holiness, which is through my new tasks. However, I still think it very important to get one's hands in the dirt every so often. In Russia, as Catherine Doherty points out, a farmer is called Krestianin. This means "Christian", which fits: a farmer should be the epitome of a Christian. Farmers, Shepherds and such live very close to the natural created world in which there is unique peace-- one which is hard to find amidst our noisy culture of today. I may not be able to be a farmer, but I can try to find those bits of peace and give them to my children through doing little bits of contemplative gardening outside in our little suburban plot of dirt here in our own backyard.
Here, working with what we have, we have taken out the old play structure and replaced it with a large portion of dirt, which is now our vegetable garden. (We can always go to the playground!)We compost all vegetable matter, which I carry out and top with leaves. Currently I have lots of large containers going for this decomposition step, but within a few weeks I hope to "build" a compost pile, using wet matter and dry matter, with the help of the sun. We have wildflowers, herbs and berries bordering the yard and now perennials in large pot containers to cheer up our tiny concrete patio. I'd like to have goats and chickens, too-- just to get our neighbors out of their little suburban comfort zone-- ;)-- but for now this is enough. It is enough to stay in touch with the outdoor world, trying to hear the geese, the birds, the bees in the midst of the deafening silence of Suburbia.
Prayer to St. Isidore the Farmer:
Lord God, all creation is yours, and you call us to serve you by caring for the gifts that surround us. May the example of St. Isidore urge us to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of mankind. Amen.

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one of us :: 4:43 PM :: 2 Comments


Friday, May 11, 2007

testament to life

one of us :: 3:33 PM :: 4 Comments

Friday Coffeehouse: Blood Diamond

Lord, forgive us for all of our offenses against Love! Jesus, have mercy!
Normally I do not watch very violent movies, as I hav trouble with the images and sleeping at night. However, recently a friend recommended the movie Blood Diamond. She is from South Africa and said tht the movie was pretty accurate concerning the social situation over there. She also said that it was filmed near her beautiful home of Mossell Bay.

I was pleasantly surprised for a number of reasons: The acting was excellent. Unlike movies such The Last King of Scotland, this movie did not leave me feeling utterly depressed. It left me saddened by the horrors committed against Love. Saddened by the hatred we have in our world. It left me saddened and grief-struck for the mothers who have to watch such horrors and watch their children exposed to such horrors. But it left me with hope! It witnessed to the fact that Love is indeed amidst the ruins! That Love triumphs over all, that His light is even shining in the darkest of places. It also left me feeling incredibly grateful for the very safe country we are blessed to live in and raise our families in. So often we take this for granted! It also refreshingly did not include any steamy sexual scenes whe it easily could have. The director chose to show two hearts drawn to one another but to leave out any unnecessary steamy scenes. I thought this made the movie all the stronger.

After having seen this movie I am led to ask a question to you all regarding the social and political situation over in SA and in other parts of the world:
How do we, as Catholics, other than of course PRAYER (we can never pray enough!!) respond to these horrors? Which organizations and charities do we suppport?


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one of us :: 12:34 PM :: 3 Comments


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

quick pick

Outstanding. Teresa Tomeo's book "Noise: How our Media-Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families" is able to articulate what most of us probably sense but don't quite know how to express. I just checked this book out from our local library and am eating up the wonderful quotes in it.

Busy lives and homes filled with 'noise' (via the TV, radio, telephone etc.) wear on our energy levels in such a way that we allow the media to think critically for us.

Most readers here know that you can't trust everything you see or hear in the news. But just what kinds of ramifications do various media outlets have on our thought processes or our family attitudes.

The bottom line in this book is as old as Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Our highest faculty of our human person is the mind. Reflection is a lost art. We do everything we can to be distracted or entertained. God lives in silence. In silence we find Him. This book is a great tool for living a proactive life rather than a reactive one.


one of us :: 3:54 PM :: 1 Comments

Question of the week (month!)

Well, we're not doing weekly postings as we used to but we can still have questions for our readers! I'm just curious and so I'm going to throw out to you all a good old Question of the Week:

Do you have bedtime routines? If so, what is your routine? What works for your family?


one of us :: 3:37 PM :: 2 Comments


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Our Path to Sanctity

I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember the fact that our daily crosses, these everyday trials and frustrations, are our path to sanctity!

A little over a year ago I came, in tears, to a good friend/mentor of mine back in Ohio after having been in a fight with my husband. I was emotionally very upset at the time with the various crosses and trials of marriage. She just smiled at me tenderly and said, "See? This is why you are meant to spend the rest of your life with this man! God knew what He was doing. You will become a saint living with him!" It all became so clear at that moment, and has been clear ever since. Marriage isn't all peaches and cream, growing and changing as a family, making a home together, welcoming baby after baby... It isn't the perfect little life, playing house. It's brutally hard and rough. Beautiful and blessed, yes. But easy? No. On the contrary, it is very, very hard to day after day, love each other through thick and thin, through all the frustrating personality clashes and kinks in a relationship. It is hard to be patient with our children. It is hard to turn to prayer in times of frustration and irritablity when all you want to do is throw something across the room. But if we continually turn to prayer, continually humble ourselves and strive for Love, we will indeed become holy. God is working through those in our lives to lead us closer to Him. Every dish we scrub, every diaper we change, every time we get annoyed with someone's ways or personality, it is all opportunity for growth, for further union with our Lord. I remind myself all the time, no matter what the situation, that my call is very, very simple! It is to love God and to love all of those around me. It is serve Him and know Him, to serve and know the Christ in all I meet. It is to give my all to my family, to Him.



one of us :: 9:58 AM :: 8 Comments


Thursday, May 03, 2007

My case against cell phones

As a disclaimer, I believe cell phones can serve a good purpose when used in moderation. I had a cell phone when my husband was deployed and I was in and out of town a lot; it was the only way he could get a hold of me. I also think the pay-as-you-go phones are a nice idea for use in case of an emergency on the roadside or other such incidence. Cell phones also are useful for people who's jobs demand it especially if you have your own business and need to separate your home line from your work line. I also want to make it clear that I don't think that everyone who has a cell phone is selfish, ignorant, or wrong. They may be just going the flow with society and some may simply use theirs as something of a convenience, rather than a social lifeline. The majority of my family members have one as well as almost every single one of my friends.

All I know is that there is a certain kind of day to day living that I personally want to experience... and for me, that doesn't involve cell phones. And I think it worth the time to explain why. Now just why on earth WOULDN'T I want a 2 inch, zebra-striped, camera phone strapped to hip wherever I go?! Many reasons:
  • First and foremost, it's simply one extra bill we DON'T need.

  • Talking on the cell phone while driving is unsafe to yourself and other drivers, even if you do have one of those ear-pieces. People who are on cell phones while driving rarely realize how badly they're driving by the way... so don't try to sneak out of this accusation! I'd say at least 50% of bad driving we see on the road involves people on their phones. I'm a bad enough driver WITHOUT a phone so I don't need that temptation.

  • Cell phones can inhibit natural conversations and interactions that would happen in "real life" moments. Standing in the grocery store line, waiting for an airplane, walking around in crowds, etc. You never know what kinds of friendships or moments of grace you're missing out on by talking on the phone.

  • I LIKE to be unreachable sometimes. When we go on a daytrip or on a hike, we are free from worrying about prosaic concerns until we get home. (Some reasonable people simply turn those phones off and that's fine too.)

  • I love the shocked looks we get when people find out we don't have a cell phone. That alone makes it worth it.

  • We never have to worry about embarrasing moments like a Sir-Mix-A-Lot ring-tone sounding loudly during Mass because we forgot to turn it off.

The number one reason I dislike cell phones is that they take people out of the NOW. If I'm chatting with a friend and her phone rings and she answers it and yik-yaks for a couple minutes... this message is that she can't fully commit to me at that time, even if her heart is in the right place. We have so many things in society begging for our attention. We're taught the skill and efficiancy of multi-tasking. It's so rare to just BE where you are and present with the planned and chance encounters that are happening in the 3-D world here. Even if we are physically present with our family and friends, we are called away mentally by various phone calls that eat up our time. Same goes for "texting." I have a friend who has a cell phone, but I didn't discover this until a year after knowing her. (Speaks volumes, doesn't it?) She's never given me that number and I've had sense enough not to ask. They use it for emergency situations and pay as they go. Bravo.

I don't think the average person NEEDS a cell phone. But 49% of people say they couldn't live without it. Sure it's a great convenience. I know because I've had one, and when you are a regular cell phone user you almost always think it's necessary and you probably think you use it prudently (which may or may not be true). And I thought life would be incredibly difficult and inconvenient without one. But it's not! It's so liberating! It would be nice, sometimes to call my husband when I need him to get one more thing I forgot to tell him at the grocery store. And it would be nice when we're in crowds trying to meet up somewhere (we actually have old fashioned walkie-talkies for just such occasions!). But the freedom knowing that I'm not tempted to take away from the people and situations that I want to fully devote myself to is worth all the inconveniences. I imagine it's like quitting tobacco; there will be some withdrawals at first. But my husband and I are well into our second year without a cell phone and we are more and more thankful that we DON'T have one.

What about all those people who tell me they have one for emergencies? Well, I think there's still something to be said about good old trust in mankind. We've stopped a couple times to help out broken-down motorists on the side of the road, only for them to tell us that they've already made a call and help is on the way. If I broke down without my husband, I suppose the thought of flagging down a passing car is abhorrent to some people. "It's unsafe. You never know what kind of people will stop!" Well, I say that I'm providing opportunities for boy-scout values that cell phones prevent nowadays. There are good people in the world who would love to feel "needed" and helpful to you. There's something to be said for prudence, but I don't think it's in any way irresponsible to NOT have a cell phone. I think it opens the doors for something that seems to be a lost art: brotherly love. Sometimes we have to step outside of worldly values (caution, self-reliance, independence) in order to have faith in mankind and trust in the providence of God.

And that is why I don't have a cell phone.



one of us :: 7:21 AM :: 12 Comments


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

question for you

One reader wrote in asking for ideas on how women can earn money from home while still keeping her kids the first priority. What are your ideas?


one of us :: 9:18 AM :: 8 Comments

May: the month of Mary

It is the month of Mary now. I love this month... time to plant gardens, spend more time outdoors, and, in a special way, honor Mary our Mother. How fitting, that it is a season of new growth and blossoms. Mary is a perfect example to we mothers of gracefulness, femininity, gentle and loving ways. Our vocation demands these ways of holiness. May she take our hands and lead us closer to our Lord... May we outstretch our hands with a total openness, a total fiat, a spirit of humility and desire for holiness.
I love having different liturgical times, feast days and seasons to encourage and motivate me to pick up new devotions or spiritual steps, and this month is perfect encouragement to focus on growing in our communion with Mary. There are a few wonderful prayers to her on our prayer page, and then there is also of course the Litany of Mary, a wonderful way to meditate on Mary's different roles in our lives through her various titles, and of course the Rosary, which is a wonderful meditation on the life of Christ and her fiat.

"This is the month of Mary, mother of God... Why not begin a journey inward to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to learn from her the secret of the king, her Son- the secret that would change our lives, and with them that of the world, the secret infinite charity, of God's peace, and Mary's joy--the secret and art of being before God and doing for God? ...The woman who spent her time on earth cloaked in silence is speaking to us today from Lourdes, Fatima, and many other places. If only we took time to listen and to ponder her words, ours would be a century of peace, ours would be lives of joy."



one of us :: 8:18 AM :: 2 Comments


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

St. Joseph the Worker

Christ the Lord allowed Himself to be considered the son of a carpenter: come, let us adore Him, Alleluia!
-- Invitiatory Antiphon for Saint Joseph the Worker day

Come to Joseph! Come to gentle, humble St. Joseph. Lets pray to him for our husbands, that they will always be good providers, hard workers and faithful husbands, as Joseph was.
Go to Catholic Culture's site to read more about this feast and for ideas on cooking, activities and such. He is such a powerful patron for families.


one of us :: 8:50 AM :: 0 Comments