Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

I don't usually do these, but today I have a few small things I'd like to post.

1. A little goes a long way. I discovered today that I have a rather inflated reputation for knowledge of Catholic traditions among my Mom's group at Church. This is highly embarrassing for me, because it stems from my nerdy proclivity to shout out all the answers during class. Like when the Deacon is searching for the name of the saint that chose to die for her unborn child, I can't seem to help myself from yelling out "Gianna Molla!" This is actually a fault of mine I'm trying to curb (see my Lenten promise to let go of my opinion) but I'm somewhat comforted that my friends seem to see me as a source of information rather than an opinionated know-it-all.

2. Thank God for my Rosary. I had LASIK eye surgery on Wednesday. It did not go well. Oh the surgery itself was phenomenal; I can now see with almost 20/20 vision and expect to develop even greater clarity as time goes on and my corneal swelling goes down. But I had a severe panic attack as soon as the laser touched my eye. Two nurses had to hold me down while I mouthed the Hail Mary over and over again. Afterwards, I couldn't stop violently shaking, so hard they couldn't get a blood pressure reading on me. So I asked for my Rosary. And the moment it touched my hands I stopped shaking and felt peace. It still took me 5 decades before I was calm enough to open my eyes and go home, but I felt the Holy Spirit from that first instant. Unbelievers will chalk it up to the power of my own mind, I'm sure. I know better.

3. We're dogsitting. I hate dogs. My opinion has not been changed in the slightest with the addition of this creature to my household. Apologies in advance to all those who love dogs, but they are disgusting, slobbering, smelly things. If I wanted to clean up poop every day, I'd just stop putting my toddler in diapers. However, one of the ladies I volunteer with needed me to watch her Chihuahua puppy, so I am doing this for her. Today was supposed to be the end of it, but she called and asked me to extend till Tuesday. In my mind I said, "What? Forget it! I have barely been hanging on, expecting that this ordeal would end this afternoon, and now you want me to double my committment?" Needless to say, I am getting lots of practice with sacrificial love.

4. Ask and ye shall receive. I have been asking God for guidance in regards to my parents' marriage. This week He gave 100% clear instructions. We are now confident about the path He wishes us to tread, and though it will be difficult, I'm grateful for the answer.

5. The Bagpipe Didn't Say No. I've been occasionally bringing up the subject of adding to our family whenever it happens naturally in conversation. My husband's reaction can be summed up in one word: "Eh." More children are not on his wishlist, but he doesn't feel strongly enough to prevent more. So we've decided to start being open to life at the beginning of next year. Personally, I'd love to conceive tomorrow, but given that my pregnancies require the active participation of every member of the family, it's really more considerate if we wait until a less hectic season of the year. Also, I want some time to let God speak to me and assure me that giving up on adoption for now really is His will. I welcome any prayers you can give me on this.

6. Get the Right Tool for the Right Job. Ever since Wimbledon, my son has been an avid tennis player. Federer has inspired him, so we are on the courts at least once every day, sometimes more than that. Yesterday my mom took us to the sporting goods store and we got a tennis ball hopper. Man, what a difference that makes! My back is no longer begging me for mercy and my son's aim is really improving.

7. It takes a family. My husband has been out of town these two days. I've hardly noticed. Of course, I miss him, and it's lonely to sleep in that huge bed all by myself, but with my mom here I haven't lacked for company or assistance even for a minute. While cooking dinner together the other night, I realized what beauty we're missing with our society's single-family dwellings. The same house might be uncomfortably close sometimes, but there's no substitute for extended-family togetherness, especially when it comes to the daily domestic tasks that can be so tiresome and frustrating. Sharing the job doesn't just lighten the work load, it lightens the heart, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looking Beyond "Can't"

I'm working on figuring out a private budget based on a 10% tithe. I've been so frustrated and bewildered by how on earth I can possibly save enough money for a tithe when, based on the arrangement we have for giving to charity, only a quarter of what I save will actually go to the Church (the rest is for savings and my husbands charities.) When I figured it out, (and it's very possible my math is wrong here) I'd have to save more than I spend. I honestly can't do it; it's not a matter of better budgeting. It's just impossible.

But I think perhaps I've been going about it backwards. I don't need to actually put that amount of money into the Parish envelope each month. I don't even have to actually save that amount. What I need to do is develop a lifestyle with the tithe at the base so that we live at a Godly means.

Instead of thinking, "I just can't do it," I must think, "What can I do?" If lowering my food budget by $100 a month gets me closer to that tithe, then that's something I can do. If buying a duvet cover instead of a new comforter for the guest room gets me closer to a thithe, then that's something I can do, too. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by my limitations, I need to concentrate instead on the small things I can do on my journey to full stewardship.

That mantra has hit home in a big way in regards to a family situation I'm encountering. Right now I am boiling over with indignation and my gut instinct is to cut off all communication with this one family member. Permanently. When I think about the Christian commandment to show love and compassion, I think, "I just CAN'T do it!" I absolutely cannot love this person now. Can. Not. Do. It.

So, what can I do?

1. I can pray for them.
I don't want to. This person has caused extreme suffering to those I love, entirely through their own weakness, selfishness, and poor choices. I'd rather pray for the soul of Natalia Estemirova and the situation in Chechnya. There are people dying from hunger who better deserve my prayers. My friend with four children and one on the way is moving this week and needs my prayers, as does another friend who's been trying to conceive for years, and another friend whose husband may quit his job. I'd like to pray for my online friends, whose situations are no less dear to me despite our never having met in person.

Unfortunately, I'm not a Carmelite. So I can't pray for everything I want to and also be present with my family. Wouldn't my prayers be better spent on someone who deserves it?

Short answer: no. Though that's how I feel, I know it's not the way God works. And it's a darn good thing He's rather more merciful than I, or we'd all be in a boat-load of trouble.

2. I can be kind to them.
There's no need to write angry emails. There's no need to trash them verbally in front of my kids or the rest of the family. I don't think I'll be able to have a conversation over the phone or anything, but if the situation comes up I can simply say, "Now is not a good time. I'll have to get back to you."

That's enough to start on, I think. Anything else seems beyond me right now. I can pray for guidance, wisdom and the intervention of the Holy Spirit for myself, as I've been doing. And in the meantime I can concentrate on eating down my pantry, because with this new budget it looks like my grocery shopping is pretty much done for the month except for milk, bananas and grapes. It's not at all a problem, though. Thanks to Costco I could probably feed six people on corn chips alone!

God Bless.

Photo credit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coming up for Air

My dad's 2-week visit ended this morning; I have one week before my mom comes to stay with us for 5 days. I'm just planning to spend this week running errands and getting back on schedule, as it's not practical to follow my Rule to the letter when I have guests.

In all, we had a nice visit. The Holy Spirit afforded me the opportunity to talk candidly with my dad about the Church's position on Christian marriage. If any fruits come from that talk, it will be all the doing of the Lord. I continue to pray for His guidance in my life and those of my parents, and for the Holy Spirit to come into every conversation I have with either of them.

Accountability Analysis
Weeks of June 28 and July 5th
Working on: Organizing house for Dad's visit and maintaining spirit of humility and love
Successes: Kindness and charity to family members, lots of quality time with kids and husband, good housekeeping
Challenges: stubbornness
Average daily HOS: 1

Week of July 12
Working on: routine and prayer times

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pizza Night

I love pizza. L.O.V.E. love it, and I don't care if it's full of carbs, or fat, or whatever, I like it and I want to eat it often. However, I do not like bad pizza...the greasy, limp, cardboard kind with tangy sauce and canned toppings and way too much salt. So I'm constantly on the quest for good pizza. We've found a place here in Denver that might have the awesomest pizza known to man. Beau Jos. They're historic, green, community minded, and about as healthy as pizza can get, plus their pies are heavenly.

However, their prices are just not at a level that allows us to eat there once a week, which is what we'd do if I had my druthers.

So I've been working on perfecting pizza night at our house. The kids get really into it, and I am blessed with a husband who eats whatever I put in front of him, so I don't have to worry too much about experimenting.

Tonight I made a pesto pizza with feta, tomato, Kalamata olives and red onion, a regular pizza with mushrooms and spinach, and individual cheese pizzas for the kids. At Christmas last year I bought my son a set of 4 individual pizza trays and a kid-sized rolling pin (isn't Montessori great?) Now he rolls out his dough, slops on the sauce and cheese, and gets to feel the pride of a master chef when he sees his creation come browned and bubbling out of the oven. My bread maker spits out PERFECT pizza dough, and the large size splits exactly into 4 mini pizzas and two medium ones for us adults. I even use 1/2 whole wheat flour and the dough is still stretchy and pliable. Plus, with the bread maker, I only need to spend about an hour in the kitchen, comparable to my normal cooking routine.

I've calculated it out, and even ignoring the benefits of making the kids ridiculously happy and avoiding for one night the dinner-table struggle to get the kids to eat, and the fun of preparing the pizzas as a family, and the satisfaction of being able to choose exactly what toppings go on it, pizza night at our house costs less than $15 (and that's with exotic ingredients like feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Without those it'd be under $10.)

I love finding the perfect spot between saving money and creating happiness. Pizza night does both.