Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Shopping - This is how we do it!

I love to give Christmas presents. I spend days thinking about each person on my list and the perfect gift to bring a smile. I like to support local (and most especially Christian/Catholic) stores and find unconventional items. Unfortunately, my mind goes "Let's-Oprah's-Favorite-Things-This!" and my wallet goes "Bah-Humbug!" I just can't give what I'd like to. So I make my presents or find creative ways to give something meaningful (I'd tell you what I'm giving my brothers, but I'm afraid they'd see.. I'm excited -- Stay tuned.). But that doesn't stop me from shopping..

My Gift of the Season: Tiny Saints!
I found these at NCYC and I'm smitten! Dozens of different saints 
-- they're perfect to clip on your favorite rosary, a bookbag zipper 
or even your car rearview! Go to shoptinysaints.com to find them!

In the last few years I've been sending my mom a list of suggested gifts for everyone in the family.. I get to do the shopping and she gets to do the "From Mom and Dad"-ing. Truthfully, I don't even know if she looks at the whole list. But if it's the thought that counts, I'm scoring every time. :)

Here are a few of my favorite places to find great gifts! Etsy.com is a gift-giving vortex and I always cross-check with Amazon.com for the best prices, but these are some lesser-known ways to get great ideas! Please, let me give vicariously through you! 

Little tip: find the Bestsellers section first and watch those reviews!


This is just a hub site. Each gift sends you out to a linked spot where you can buy the item. But it's a great place to browse and it even offers sections like "for him", "for her" and personalized suggestions by someone's personality type.



I like to just browse this site for fun! These gifts are really creative and interesting -- albeit a little expensive. You probably could make some of these, so it might spark some good DIY ideas.



These are great for kids and adults alike! I like giving gifts that are different -- PerpetualKid has many practical gifts with a fun twist. Like a toned-down SkyMall.



We don't have a lot of geeks in our family -- mostly dorks. But there is still a lot on this site that would make fun gifts! If you have a Star Wars/Trek, Big Bang Theory or gaming lover in your family, head here!



If your style is more homey, try shopping at CrackerBarrel.com! Clothes, decor, books and more -- this is a great one-stop-shop. I personally think going into this store is better than shopping online in this case. Always cute, cozy and clever things to find in here.



Uhm, I'm going to have to ask you to not judge me here. I have become a huge QVC fan. I haven't bought anything yet, but the odds are if you turn my TV on at any time, Today's Special Value will pop on the screen. :) With great prices, easy pay and reviews, this is a good place to get quality gifts. Just be careful not to shop for yourself. I have a wishlist longer than I'd like to admit.

For Kids:
There are sooo many great sites for kids' toys.. Land of Nod, HearthSong, even Target! Kids aren't hard to buy for, so I'll let you on your own there. Truth be told, all of the sites above have great gifts for young people! Go to town, ye wisemen and women.

The End
So, there you have it! All my gift-giving secret sites! Good luck!

And if you're really having trouble, my fourth calling in life (besides youth ministry, wedding/part planning and hair-cutting) is professional gift buyer. Especially around this time of year, I kinda wish that vocation had panned out.. :) Happy to help if you need it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Sister: A Heavenly Veteran

First, I wanted to share something. One of my favorite sisters posted this picture awhile ago.. A guide on finding out if you're really wearing pants or not! Very helpful in this legging-loving age.


She's not a biological sister. She's like, a religious sister. From the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration -- one of my favorite orders of all time! And I desperately want to bring this chart out at my youth group meetings because leggings are the new jeans and it's not ok. Seriously, stop by on Sunday night and you'll wonder if you've just interrupted Cirque du Soleil practice. Lycra, anyone?

Speaking of sisters, I've been thinking a lot about one of mine lately.

A biological one this time. Mary Clare.

I'll set the scene for you.. It was 1998 and I had just started 8th grade. I was going through that pitifully awkward phase (which incidentally I've never come out of) and being the oldest of five with four brothers, I was ready for a girl in the fam damily.

She was born on a beautiful day in August, just a day after her due date. And, sadly, just a day after she'd passed away. I still have trouble talking about how mom and dad came home from the hospital in the middle of the night to tell us the sad news. Tommy had come into my room hours before with the friend he had sleeping over and woke me up, worried. "Mom and dad just went to the hospital.. Something's wrong with the baby." He'd said. I waved him off. "She's probably just going into labor. It will be okay." Later, when my dad came in to wake us up and bring us downstairs, Tommy's friend was still awake. "Is everything okay?" He asked. He was the first to find out, actually. Tommy and I found out in mom and dad's arms on the couch downstairs and I've always been thankful for that private moment -- even shared with that friend. Tommy and I were both in his wedding this past summer.


So our dear Mary Clare was a stillborn baby. I remember my friend Erin telling me that when our priest had made the announcement from the pulpit before Mass, asking for prayers, she'd been confused. "Okay, so the Beardmore baby is going to be still born.. What's the bad news?"

By the way, Erin is also the gal with whom I had my most embarrassing moment.. Although, I didn't realize I should have been embarrassed until years later. Can I share? Allow me to bring you back to 1995. I'm in 4th grade. Stirrup pants are in. Beanie babies are all the rage. As are goofy Jim Carey movies. Erin and I worked out this little comedy bit with an armadillo Beanie Baby and when her dad came to pick her up from school, we tried it out. "Go ahead, girls." He'd said. "Okay." I started. "Hey Erin! Is that an armadillo in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Erin's dad looked confused as his only daughter responded with a grin, "Nope, it's an armadillo in my pocket!"

Ta-da!!!

Obviously we had no idea what we were talking about, but I can't imagine what that poor man was thinking. When I remembered this as an adult I nearly puked. #mortified

If you have trouble, click here to go to the video's YouTube page. 

Anyway,  someone sent me this video above and memories of Mary Clare's funeral came flooding back. I totally boo-hoo'd at the pictures of this mourning family, remembering the tender loss of a sibling we never knew. I thought about all of the people who brought meals and cards and toilet paper and took me to the eye doctor (yeah, when someone asked if they could do anything I chirped, "Well.. I need a new pair of glasses." And off we went. #alwaysmortified). The Church was full of friends and family and I can still hear how my Aunt Cathy read, "Come now my love, my lovely one come." in her soothing, tempered voice. My dad carried the tiny white casket out of the Church and the final song, "Goodnight Sweet Jesus" still makes me cry.

Afterward my brother and I went bowling with friends. A totally 90's way to deal with grief. And, in the months ahead, I struggled with a lot of anger towards God. That, however, became a great source of spiritual growth for me. I know that sounds strange, but it showed me that I had a real relationship with Him! Why would I be upset with someone who I didn't consider to be a loving God to me? How could I try to run from someone who I didn't think existed?

The biggest thing that got me through was the 3-inch binder spiritual bouquet we got from the CC kids. Hundreds of page-long notes from high schoolers offering prayers and their own stories of grief.  I must have read that thing 100 times. It made me feel like I wasn't alone. And it also made me feel like a certain senior boy was probably trying to secretly profess his undying love for me when he misspelled sympathy. 

And condolences. 

Oh, and funeral. 

(Sigh) It was all for a baby we'd never even met. 

So, I can't help but wonder.. What if we mourned the loss of every baby like this? :( Each one, planned or unplanned, miscarried or aborted, in perfect health or with struggles, is as important as Mary Clare. Can you imagine if our lives stopped and we wept each time a little soul in our lives was lost before they even took a breath? Maybe one of the biggest tragedies of abortion is the fact that no one even notices the loss. :(

Today, on Veterans Day, I thank each person who sacrificed their life so that we could have the chance to live as we please and I think of all the souls who never got the chance to live because we wouldn't sacrifice our lives to allow it. 

See, Mary Clare may not have ever taken a step or said a word, but she made a difference in this world. She would have been 15 years old by now. And although I'm guessing they don't wear leggings in Heaven, I'm pretty sure she is workin' it when it comes to fighting for babies who just want the chance to live and breathe and embarrass themselves with awkward armadillo jokes.  

It's so worth it. 

Mary Clare, pray for us. :) 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes - School Dazes


A friend of mine went back to grad school recently and she was telling me about it this past week. It sounded so great! So fun! Relaxing even! And for a moment, just a moment, I forgot. I forgot that I hate school. You know there are people who love taking notes and tests and listening to someone else tell them how the world works? Yeap.. Not me. I'm not saying that I needed to figure out E=MC2 for myself, but I'm just not the classroom type! So this list is a few things to remind me to take a few more years before going back for my Master's: 

1. 
I'm glad my life doesn't include reports anymore.. I'm thinking back to when I did one on Marie Curie and I have to laugh. I found it so fascinating that she married a man with the same last name: Pierre Curie. I was an adult before I realized that Curie is her stupid married name! Yeah, I'm an idiot. 

2. 
I always got in trouble! Anyone who knows me would not be surprised by the fact that my progress reports were typically focused on my inability to shut.up. Mrs. Mentekidis, my 8th grade religion teacher said it best at parent/teacher conferences in 1999. She said (in her Long Island accent): "Mrs. Beadmo, I cannot put ha anywheas! I put ha next to da quieat kids, she makes da quieat kids twalk! I put ha next to da loud kids, she makes dem louda! I could put ha next to a brick waoll and she would make da brick waoll twalk!"

Hehehe.

3. 
How could I add more books to the stack I'm currently reading? Yes, I'm one of those who will put a book down, start another one, have a third in my car and a fourth at my desk. Here's the list I'm reading now: 
Wedding Night by Sophia Kinsella
Rebuilt by Michael White & Tom Corcoran
My Sisters, the Saints by Colleen Campbell
The Great Gatsby by FS Fitzgerald
How to Stop Starting Other Books by Neve Gonnahapan

4. 
This is off topic, but I just reached 100 stations on my Pandora and apparently that is the max! I'm going to have to delete a few, but here are my current favorite stations that aren't going anywhere:
Phil Collins (don't judge), Dolores Keane, Ellie Goulding, Des'ree (seriously, stop judging!), The Commitments, Four Voices, Sharon Shannon, Cher Lloyd & Declan O'Rourke. Amen. 

Oh,yeah. I have ADD. 

Which brings us back to the list. 

5. 
I make teachers mad so easily! For example, I had this Math teacher in high school named Mrs. Winslow, who we of course called "Harriett" after the mom on Family Matters. On the morning after Senior Night (where the seniors stay out all night and T.P. the school), I fell asleep in Math class. She set the clock an hour ahead, had the whole class leave and I woke up thinking I'd slept through two class periods! When I started to go to lunch I saw her yuckin' in up in the library with my class thinking she was so clever! *Eye roll*. So I went and hung out in the art room. She gave me a detention for skipping class! Even my mom said, "Uh, yeah. You're not serving that." So I skipped the detention and got five more!

Don't get me started on the campus minister who punished me for falling asleep during a retreat. We were outside and I had sunglasses on so she didn't realize for hours!

Actually, it sounds like the problem was a lack of sleep....

6. 
I doubt they take reports in poem form anymore.. My AP English teacher senior year allowed me to do my reports in poem form, which helped distract from the fact that I rarely actually read the books. You haven't seen anything until you've seen a report on the Color Purple in 62 stanza iambic pentameter. Yes, I really did that. 

7. 
I wish school was like this: 


Hope you all have a great week, whether you (or your kids) are headed back to school or not.
Go check out Jen at Conversion Diary! She had a great post this past week about back-to-school!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why I Dont Believe Everything Happens For A Reason...

I don't believe everything happens for a reason.


I know.. It's a shame, huh? Because it's a seemingly perfect response to most undesirable outcomes!

"He broke up with you the day before your Birthday by text with a picture attached of his new girlfriend?! Aww! Well, everything happens for a reason."

"Someone beat up your kindergardener after school? Poor kid. Well, just tell him that everything happens for a reason!"

"Hey, I just heard about this thing.. The Holocaust? Whew! Sounds pretty bad! But.. You know what they say! Everything happens for a reason!"

The sub-text is: nothing is ever really wrong.. Just not yet right.

Nope. I just don't buy it.

Here's why: God never desires for us to suffer, to run away from Him, to hurt each other. The fact is, free will allows us to choose freedom and beauty and goodness, but it also allows us to submit to weakness and fear and destruction. God never, ever wants us to suffer. Unfortunately, we don't believe Him when He tells us how to avoid it and, since we live on this earth together, we cause each other much pain.


On a sidenote, I think it's good to really understand suffering, because it's not all negative. We can use it to gain things; virtues, a heart for others, even faith. God may allow suffering to help us gain the things we're not achieving on our own. Here's how I think about it:


I once heard that when a little lamb keeps running away from the flock, the Shepherd breaks the lambs legs and puts the little guy around his shoulders. (Shepherds reading this, can you verify?) The lambs legs heal and he learns to stay right next to the Shepherd, with his flock and living a happy little lamb life! While I don't believe God ever desires us to suffer, I think He knows that many times we cling to Him when we do. Suffering is not the worst thing. Being away from the flock and alone for eternity is. Can we ever believe that's all God is trying to avoid? Losing you?

So! Back to the topic. I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that everything is in God's control. Because God is the Ultimate Garmin. The King of Correction! El Presidente of the United States of Revitilization!

I remember watching my mom write before I really knew how to. She would make mistakes and be able to fashion the mis-placed letter into the correct one so quickly! Make that "2" into a "5", or whatever. God is the best at this! With our hurt and sin and sadness, not only can He correct it, He'll take a royal mess and turn it into the most beautiful creation; even more stunning than had there been no wreckage at all!

Our God is such a gentleman! He doesn't come barrelling into our lives, demanding the honor He deserves! He allows us a place of honor ourselves! Think about it.. The God who created it all, from gravel to gravity, allows us to choose the good for ourselves! That's free will, baby!

And we can feel that we're abandoned sometimes, reaping the not-so-swell benefits of free will. But I don't think we'll ever understand the protective hands He guards us with. No one hurts more than God when we suffer. And the ones who usually get in the way of His love for us.. Is us. He loves us so much! How happy we would be if we let Him.


Consider putting away all the images that other people have drawn for you about God, His will for you and what this life is all abouts! :) From one extreme (it's all about rules!) to another (it's all about YOU!).. Perhaps a relationship with Him isn't about being perfect, but being His.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lost Friendships.

Ever felt lonely in a crowd?

Ever thought you're missing the friend you've always wanted?

The harsh reality of abortion is that we all have missed out on the friends those people were never allowed to be. With 1/3 of our generation lost, there are some pretty big gaps in our circle of friends.




Yes, we may have murdered the person who would have cured cancer.

Yes, we may have disposed of the human who would have solved this financial crisis.

(Although, I think that had our country been filled with the 50+million people we've aborted, we wouldn't even BE in this financial crisis.)

But if you bring it a little closer to home, we're missing out on friends. On lovers. On roommates (good and bad).

There are a lot of inside jokes never to be had.

There are a lot of coffees never to have gotten cold from too much talking.

A lot of pieces of pizza that would not have been left over.

Oh, how sad.

How sad that we are so deprived and yet we snap at anyone who dares to point out the loss -- not the triumph -- that is abortion!

What petulant children we become when we fight for the right to be more alone in this world..

And then there's this:



In January, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people will head to Washington DC for the March for Life.   The media refuses to cover this (which is really kind of amazing.. the streets are all packed like this!), but who cares??! Consider planning your trip this year! And stand up for the friends you've lost to abortion.

Monday, June 24, 2013

WWPFD

My landlord wants to sell the house I currently rent, so I’ve been looking for a new apartment. To tell you the truth, I’ve been quite spoiled in my current house.. Two bedroom, two bathroom, HUGE laundry room, attached garage, screened patio, brand new everything, gorgeous master bath, walk in closets, pool, fitness center, snow removal, landscaping and all outside maintenance. I mean, it’s nearly ridiculous!

And as I’ve been looking, nothing comes close to this place in the price range I can afford.

I know what you’re thinking..

“What!? You’re a youth minister! You must be rolling in dough!”

Well, cookie dough, maybe.

But cash?

Eh. Not so much.

Now, I’m not complaining! I’m very blessed! And this apartment search has provided a great way to think about what is really necessary in my life! I’ve just been asking myself:

What would Pope Francis do?

See, I found this little one bedroom in a small collection of apartments near the tiny downtown that is Westfield. It’s a block away from the library and very modest. It’s not dirty and gross, but there definitely are no frills.

And I think I’m okay with it!

See, I live in a very blessed part of the country and my friends are kind of looking at me like I’m crazy..

“One bedroom!? Why don’t you just buy?” (I’m not ready to buy! I don’t even know how to mow a lawn – don’t judge.. I have 5 brothers)

“Or you could even rent a house!” (Yeah, but then I’d have to find at least one roommate and I wouldn’t mind havin’ my own digs for awhile)

“What about those apartments on ___? They look really nice!” (Those apartments on ___ are crazy expensive!)

So I think God’s asking me to scale back, live simply and look at the context of the whole world to determine what is a true luxury.

I’ll keep you posted. And God knows I’ll do a little before/after post when I move in and decorate – my favorite thing in the world!


Uh.. Besides living simply, of course!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes - Pics/ Links Version


1. 

In Crossing off some of my summer to do list activities, I played at an open mic night. Some of my youth group teens have tried to get me to do this and one happens to work at a locacafe where they have an open mic every Thursday! I have been wanting to record a cover of "You're The One That I Want" from Grease for a long time.. Perfect opportunity! Take a listen here below and tell me what you think!

Watch here.. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQiB77uG6os&feature=youtube_gdata_player

2.



I was in a wedding this past weekend. This was me getting my hair done beforehand. 
Don't worry.. It turned into this kind of curly Adele thing. It worked. By the way.. New favorite eyeliner? Maybelline Ultra Liquid Liner. Look, I laughed, cried, and sweated my way through that day. Trust me.. This stuff is good! 

Find it here...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000052WYN

3. 

I'm writing in my journal and thinking back to the days I used to rip out pages and rewrite if the penmanship wasn't perfect! Then, like 6 years ago, I saw an Oprah episode where she showed a page of her journal and it was all scribbly. I was like, "What have I been doing? Aint nobody gonna look at my stupid diary!" And now a scribble too. 

Yep, that's all.

4. 

I am so excited for our Irish festival this year! My grandparents started a festival in Cleveland almost 31 years ago and it is my favorite thing in the whole world! We have 9 continuous stages of music, 4 buildings of vendors, Irish food and theatre! It's amazing! Here's a behind the scenes look at what we do! You can follow us on twitter @Cleveland_Irish. And here's a secret.. I do the twitter! :) 

Here's the video




5. 

If you know which movies I'm quoting below, you need to read is book. 

"All I want is one shot of me where my wedding dress isnt bright turquoise."
"In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy spigot.. Spirit!"
"No one has said 'whoopsidaisies' for fifty years and even then it was blond girls with ringlets."

Here's the book..

6.

Need to explain Evangelization to teens? Try this awesome video..




7. 


Is it Halloween? Nope. Just a day in the life of a big sister. My sibs put this creepy guy in my bed at my parents' as a sweet little surprise. :) Sadly even this guy is not single. 

Hey! Go see Jen at Conversiondiary.com. The best link ever. 






Drama in the Social Hall

Is it just me or have you noticed it too?

We in the Church know just how to push the righteous buttons and get a whole herd of people worked up!

Our poor Shepherd.

Sometimes it seems like Jersey Shore is just a hair-heightened version of what goes on in parishes all the time!

Okay, clearly I’m kidding. I’ve never even seen Jersey Shore! But I live in a retirement community.. Not under a rock! And of course I know that it’s not like we’re doing body shots at coffee and donuts. (Right?..) I’m just reflecting on some “holy” conversations I’ve had in the past 10 years in the name of "indirect fraternal correction".. Whew! Stating that I’ve said, “Oh my gosh, okay, let me tell you about what happened after Adoration last week..” less than a million times would be an understatement.

In all seriousness, I find that sometimes the longest running grudges or grievances are between pews! Am I right?


“If she signs up to bring VBS snack one more time, I’m just going to cross 
her name off! She KNOWS we have peanut allergies in the 3A class!”

“You know he’s forgotten his Holy Hour like four times? Oh yeah.. At least!”

“She totally took over the Mother’s Day luncheon committee! 
I mean, yeah, everything got done, but that’s not the point!”

Of course.. As the great Judy McDonald points out, we usually end it all with, “So, pray for her, you know?”

Ha!
We gossip about the gossipers and feed the hungry-for-a-spectacles. There’s so many first stones being thrown, it looks like the invention of the dodge-ball game. (Shoutout to all my fellow Youth Ministers!)

Then on the flip side, we have people who make innocent mistakes and we throw Matthew 18 right out the window!

I think this is one of the most-frequently-needed verses in the whole Good Book!

15 “If your brother* sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. 16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

(Matthew 18:15-20)

Doesn’t this provide protection for OURSELVES too?

I think most of the time we are annoyed by things that we don’t fully understand. Jack Nicholson was only half right.. We can’t handle the truth because we don’t have it. AND, (gasp!) we might possibly not even need it!

We don’t need to know why someone has a weakness. But GOD needs to know that we’ll bring His loving strength to them!

We don’t need to know the background story on someone’s mistake. But GOD needs to know that we’ll show them his forgiveness!

We don’t need to know the gory details of someone’s habit of sin. But GOD needs to know that we’ll be a source of grace as they try to get out of it.

That whole childlike wonder thing is so easily said, so rarely achieved. And how the evil one must laugh (maniacally, of course, although I think it would be totally appropriate for him to have a little weasel laugh) when we form teams within the Church, forgetting that we all wear the same jersey.

“The woman didn't even know what a foam finger was!"

“People will just wear ANYTHING to games nowadays!”

“I can't stand sitting by her.. She sings the fight song totally off-key!"

(Sigh)

Those are as far as my sports analogies go.. I’ll try a real life story:

I remember having a bad semester at college and, when coming back to the group I was supposed to work with on a class project, my tail between my legs, I began, “I’m so sorry. I know I haven’t been pulling my weight! I’ve been having a difficult time and I –“ One girl stopped me. “Caitie. It’s really okay.” She said with a warm smile. “I know we can work this out! Here is a list of some things you could do and we’ll catch you up. Is there anything we can do for you?”

Um.

Hello, Jesus.

Now, if I can only be this image of Him to others..

Oh! You too?

Sinners unite!

Let’s do this.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For the Beauty..

(Suggested listening: Into the Mystic by The Swell Season - Van Morrison cover)

I took a drive on Saturday since it was a bit chilly. I'll have to do #3 another time. :) But I did cross another thing off my list. Go check it out.



So, I took a drive on some back roads. You know the ones.. They curve this way and that, roll up and down hills; passing the occasional farm and surrounded by lush nature. Sometimes it felt like I was the only who'd been on that road before and I barely passed another vehicle. I rolled down my window, put on my summer mix CD and.. Looked. Really looked.

The beauty of the day, of the earth, brought tears to my eyes a few times. I often slowed down the car to just revel in the magnificence. Wow.

I'm not sure how one can look at a meadow, the sky, a passing river and deny a Creator.. It makes me so, so, so thankful for my parents, my family, my friends, my parishes and the crosses I have beared (born?barren?). Why? Because they've shaped me to be able to see God -- to feel Him and to be overwhelmed by His presence, brought to tears with the sight of His hand -- in the little things.


Lately I've been thinking about this. What my crosses have given me, rather than what they've denied me. And it's the same experience as this country drive.

I have driven these roads many times. I've passed these same farms, these same verdant pastures. But only when my eyes are truly open and watching can I see the beauty.

Similarly, I have picked up my crosses every day. I've carried some for years, not necessarily well, and known them intimately. But only when I've opened my heart to them have I been able to really see the journey; to experience a glimpse of soul-beauty as I crest the top of an emotional hill or feel the sweetness of a virtue gained as I reflect on a hardship carried. 

It's like: Oh! Look! There's where I really learned to be empathetic. Hmm.. I see how He's helped to guard my purity there. Oh boy.. Here comes the hill of honesty! Uh oh.. The valley of humility.. (that one is deep).

Up and down.

Winding roads.

Our lives are one big country drive, aren't they?

Question is.. Are you fueled up? (The Sacraments) Are you listening to the GPS? (The Church) Do you know the way? (Jesus) Do you have the right road-trip drink? (Canada Dry Ginger Ale)



Because the end result of one of these drives is not the middle of nowhere.

It's home.

It's Heaven.

And each leg of the journey isn't necessarily this enjoyable and peaceful.. But its moments like these that remind us of the big picture. The destination and scope of the experience makes it meaningful.

Heaven.

Home.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Quick Takes - The Family & Friends Edition



Hey there! Hope you're having a good week! :)

1. 
I have been so looking forward to this weekend! Last night: drinks with a group from Church. Today: coffee with my soon-to-be ordained pal, lunch with my mom, dinner/movie/concert with friends. Saturday: shopping with my BFF, wedding shower planning with fellow bridesmaids, and birthday party for Heather*. Sunday: brunch for my youth ministers, the wedding shower, and Benediction. Whew! I hope to find some time on Saturday afternoon to head to Happy Hallow park and read in the grass (#3). I work a lot and sometimes I feel like my social life suffers. With everything going on this weekend I think I’ll be making up for lost time!

2. 
I am the oldest of 8 kids and I would like to officially nominate my family for the “Most Unique” award. Everything thinks my brother Tommy is the exciting one as he is an actor (check out his IMDB and a preview of one of his movies, Healed by Grace), but believe me: everyone else is just as animated. Our friends leave their families on Thanksgiving to come to our evening sing-a-long each year (it’s not as lame as it sounds! LOL), our yearly extreme Easter egg hunt is quite the hit, and we frequently hear, “Man! I wish I was part of your family!” But I really think we’d win the award based on my brothers' favorite past time.. Creating stupid tongue twisters. When I call them idiots, I do so lovingly. :)


Eddy Vedder's better leather letter sweater could weather wetter weather better than any other. 

Leave lots of Lilly's little left handed ladles in the middle of little Italy lining the little Italy little fiddle league lane like last leap year.

Steven Cleaver, the meaner steamer cleaner and Jesus believer, was relieved when his beaver's fever reliever relieved his Bieber fever. 

It’s ridiculous, I know.

3. 

Speaking of the fam and Tommy’s film experience, have you seen “The Shot on Shawnee”? This is the youngest in the family.. There are 21 years, five burly brothers and one darling sister between us. Enjoy.

4.

* My friends Heather and Jeremy got engaged this week! Heather asked me last night to be one of her bridesmaids and I am thrilled! :) I love weddings. Check out the Maid of Honor speech that I did for my BFF Michaela. The DJ and other wedding workers said that, of all the weddings they’d ever worked, my speech was their favorite! :) I don’t mean to brag but.. It really is that good! LOL

5. 
I started a list of 50 things I want to do this summer.. From an outside concert to learning Italian to Pinterest crafts, I’ll be updating as I complete each one. :) If you make your own list and comment on the post I’ll be happy to link to yours! The summer goes so fast.. This is a great way to savor each day. Join me!

6.
Tonight I'm going with a group to see Star Trek. Wars? No, Trek. I have never seen a single second of either of these movies. Or series or whatever. I might skip it and go see a band who plays at our Irish festival  who will be in town tonight. What is the point of sitting through a movie I won't be interested in? Or maye I should go and try to appreciate it.. My friend Theresa once made me watch the whole Battlestar Gallactica series.. Snore! I have no interest in watching a bunch of people with gills talk about spaceship turbulence or whatever. What do you think I should do?

7. 
Finally, our diocesan ordinations are coming up! I found out that the soon-to-be-ordained young man from the parish where I work is being assigned to the parish where I grew up! And my dear also-soon-to-be-ordained friend from the parish I grew up will be assigned to a parish near where I work! I have such a love for both of these places and I think they will be excellent priests! I got tears of joy when I found out, but that was no surprise.. I once cried at a parish All Council meeting. Don't judge! I was speaking about the faith of our awesome teens in youth group.. It was very touching!! (Sigh) Okay, I'm lame. :)




Now, go check out the REAL DEAL at Conversion Diary! Jen is so awesome!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Summer Fun-list!



My favorite summer song.
And winter song. 
Okay, all the time song.

Listen while you read! :) 

I made a list of 50 things I want to do this summer.. Some big, some small. But I'm on this kick where I try each day to do something that brings a breath of fresh air to my life! It might be lunch with a dear friend or a walk on local trails, but I find that no matter how small the act making this a priority is inspiring and uplifting to me! So, let's make a summer out of it! These are in no particular order and once I do them, I'll add a picture and a description!

** Okay.. You won't believe this.. I made this list, THEN numbered them and came up with exactly 50! Hello, Holy Spirit! :) Now I'm excited!!


✔ 1. Go to a concert at outside arena Deer Creek (Jimmy Buffett, maybe?) - It was Jimmy Buffett!! I got three free tickets and took my friends Jenna and Ruby! It was a bit crazy!
2. Sit at my neighborhood pool all. day. long (I live in a retirement community, it's great!)
3. Read a book in the grass
4. Plant herbs
5. Learn to make the perfect Mojito

✔ 6. Explore a new place - My brother Michael and I went to the prison where they filmed Shawshank Redemption! It was soooo cool!


✔ 7. Spend a weekend at the cottage on Lake Erie - Even though it basically rained the whole time, I had a few days of rest at the cottage and spent some time with my family in Cleveland. 
8. Go to the Farmer's Market and try something new - I went to an Olive Oil booth and got this Honey Balsamic Vinegar! It's fantastic!
9. Resurrect the Moscow Mule cocktail


✔ 10. Try a new recipe - Well, this is actually an old recipe. For our Irish festival my grandmother makes thousands of scones, but I went to help for the first time! It was a lot of fun!
11. Put my fav photos in frames


 12. Start going to the library again - I joined the Westfield Public Library and started a'rentin'!
13. Take my siblings to the zoo
14. Leave notes on co-workers cars
15. Win something (not hard.. I win stuff all the time!)

16. Make a summer 2013 mix CD - I kind of had a "bands covering other bands" thing going on!
17. Go to the State Fair (I've never been!) - It just never worked out. I watched this instead.
18. Spend a day at the spa - Got mani/pedis with my mom for my birthday!
19. Find a new summer make-up product - I love heighth in my hair. The bigger, the better! This is called Backcomb in a Bottle and it's amazing! Keeps the efforts of my teasing comb apparent all day! Wow!
20. Organize all my keepsakes - It's nothing pretty, but when I moved out of my old place I took one rubermaid container and organized all my pictures, letters and memorabilia! It was fun to go through!
21. Make some jewelry (I'll go to Vons!)
22. Take dinner to a friend for no reason
23. Catch some lightening bugs
24. Sketch and frame a pretty scene
25. Swap a book with a friend -
26. Make s'mores
27. Meet up with an old friend - MK! My first college roommate and a friend I haven't seen in 9 years! After spending 4 years teaching English in South Korea & Kuwait, she now lives 15 minutes away and she invited me over to her house! We laughed/talked/reminisced for hours! Love that girl!
28. Do a difficult Pinterest craft
29. Record a few songs
30. Play at O'Bryan's again
31. Go to the drive-in movies
32. Make a photo album of the summer


33. Play at an open mic night - Done and done! I covered Grease's "You're The One That I Want" and had a blast!
34. Learn some Italian
✔ 35. Do something different with my hair.. Not too crazy! - Well, this is crazy for me! A dear friend of mine convinced me to grow it out! I've never had my hair longer than shoulder length and I've been getting lots of compliments!
36. Join a book club
37. Get a dog - He is still not really named, but soo loved! He is my dream dog -- a mini English Sheepdog! And he's perfectly behaved and already trained. Love!
38. Order and sell my CDs again


✔ 39. Enjoy a root beer float - I had this one at Bruno's in West Lafayette. It had vanilla vodka in it. 'Nuff said.
✔ 40. Wear a toe ring - Okay, there is no reason why a picture of my foot should be online. Trust me. I got a toe ring. 
41. Attend a community event
42. Watch the sunrise - I did this, but it was a cloudy day and the pictures weren't very good.


✔ 43. Watch the sunset - At the lake! Yes, ma'am!
44. Stargaze
45. Use the canvases sitting in my garage and paint - I don't think I'm done with it yet, but its a start. I did this in about 12 minutes before some of my friends came for the weekend! When the first one arrived I asked her, "Umm.. Does it smell like paint in here?"
46. Make a Catechetical video
47. Build a sandcastle
48. Have an all-night movie marathon - My sister and I didn't make it the whole night, but we had an "H"-themed movie night! Hairspray, Hunger Games and

49. Get a new summer purse - I found this at Claire's today (while I was getting my toe ring) and although I don't usually go for the across the body bag, I like it! Very bright and summery! Update: this bag was horrible.
50. Go fishing

Whew! That got me excited for the next few months! What are your plans for the summer? If you have your own list of to-do's the summer tell me and I'll link them below!








Monday, May 13, 2013

Stay tuned -- The Gay Debate Continues!



"Same-sex couples and opposite sex couples are really different when it comes to the great reality on which marriage is founded which is: regulating the sexual relationships of the opposite sex so that they serve children and don't hurt them... So how does society do this? It's not because of what people do privately, it's not the wedding ceremony. It's the consensus around the idea that you gotta bring together the two great halves of humanity; male and female, to make and raise the next generation. If we had a powerful marriage culture, gay marriage would make no sense. Because the marriage culture is dramatically weakened, it's plausible to some people. But gay marriage institutionalizes the idea that marriage is just about romance." - Maggie Gallagher

This is the best short answer to the gay debate that I've heard and it is what I will use in my next post in the series to explain what children have to do with gay marriage. I'll post in the next week.. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Music in the Church

I saw this from Catholic Memes and I wanted to talk about it..


I'm not a big fan of this attitude toward contemporary sacred music..

Now, let me be clear. I grew up at a parish with an organ and a beautiful devotion to chant and old hymns. Do you have the St. Michael Hymnal at your parish? Yeah, that was created at mine. I have a deep love for this kind of sacred music in the Church and I love the solemn reverence.

However, I have also always found a great level of prayerfulness and devotion in some contemporary songs. They may not be as solemn, but it doesn't mean they are any less reverent! Are they all appropriate for Mass? No. But remind me.. In what year did sacred music and the culture become so incongruous? THANK GOD someone invented the organ. Otherwise all our efforts would be in vain.. (Sigh)

Listen, I've read the documents. I understand that chant should be given a place of pride and that the organ is the instrument of the Church! I love both! But don't you think, at some point in history, somebody could have come up with a hymn that all the right moves but didnt bowl people over? Really.. When did God stop inspiring Catholic composers?? The fact is, our attempts at worship will never equal the glory of God! We're all grasping at straws.. Some just may be those curly straws you get at birthday parties. :)

American Catholics make up 6% of the world's Catholics. Go to a Mass in Africa and tell me that there's only one hymnal for the universal Church. It seems that we limit God when we say that He can only be praised in one way. What about the sweet, childlike wonder that can be found in adoring Him with a simple song from the soul? I think Jesus looks at the disposition of the heart of the singer, not the composition of the music on the page when He is pleased with our worship.

Let me be clear: I don't have a problem with promoting chant or hymns. If the Church considers it #1, sounds good to me! :) What I have a problem with is dismissing the quality of worship of any other type of music in a way that demeans the faith of the composer or those who enjoy it. It's comments like the above meme that I think are pitiful and I know we can do better at promoting musical restoration in the Church.

Now.. Excuse me while I rock out to "Long Live the Pope".

What's sex got to do with it? The gay marriage debate continues!

This is part two in a series of blogs about gay marriage. The first is about the rights of marriage but I'll really encourage you to check out the preamble.. It explains why I won't be using the Church or Scripture to defend (although at the end I will do a Theological explanation). Be sure to check those out and stay tuned for other topics like children and gay marriage!

Maybe I should have done this post first.. It's really looking at the essence of marriage. And it's all about..

Sex!

P.S. When I give my chastity talks sometimes I have the kids yell out "Sex!" beforehand. I'll say, "Oh, c'mon!  You can do better than that! Embarrass your teachers! Let's really yell it out.. Ready?" LOL They end up screaming and laughing and it totally cuts the tension. :) I love chastity talks!

So let's do the adult version here. No need to be shy.. Wherever you are, just yell out "Penis!" or scream "Vagina!" Ready? Go!

See? That wasn't so bad! Oh.. You were at Panera? They're escorting you out and you had to leave your Bacon Turkey Bravo behind? Ehh.. Sorry about that.

But really taking a look at sex can be enlightening when it comes to marriage as it is the physical union between two, mirroring the union in the relationship of marriage.

So, what is sex? Let's head back to our Oxford English Dictionary:


Now, I'm not sure how anyone could disagree with this, but sex involves a penis and a vagina. With two of the same I'm sure you can have a grand ol' time! Rubbing and.. Whatever. But ya can't have sex. 

Notice that this definition does not talk about love. Rape can include sex. And on the flip side, it doesn't matter much love is between the two, a same-sex couple cannot have sex. It is, what the French call,  impossible. 

Like the Kraft singles (see last post in the series.. Kraft Singles can't be called cheese because they lack the essence of cheese), it doesn't matter how naked two people are, how many orgasms they have, how sexy their time together is.. If there is not a penis, a vagina and penetration involved, it might be sexy, but it ain't sex, my friend. 

And this is my basic argument for why gay couples cannot be married. Marriage IS the union of a man and wife with the potential for new life between them. It doesn't matter how much love is between two women or two men, how much commitment they have for each other.. Romance and commitment does not a marriage make. It's a distinct relationship of husband and wife with the potential for new life.*

We can't deny that the penis and vagina fit together so perfectly! You cannot bring two vaginas or two penises together like you can their counterparts. Why are we so surprised then when we make the statement that the men and women who are attached to that genitalia are, in the same way, harmoniously united? Men and women, like their "sexy bits" (*wink!*), fit together in a way like no other relationship! It is distinct! And it is worth protecting. 

When we start saying that anything sexy is sex, then sex becomes anything! Our ideas about sex become blurry, our standards and expectations are lowered, and suddenly sex is no big deal. Similarly, if we start saying that any romantic, committed relationship is marriage, then marriage will be -- eh, whatever. When you have marriages that are suddenly no different, really, from any other relationship and a society that does not support it, the institution itself will crumble. 

This is important. We MUST have a society that sees the relationship between husband and wife as sacred and supports and protects it with a vengence! Our culture should surround marriage and the family as the basis of our civilization. If we don't, and the institution of marriage fails, the family will fail. The building block of our society will break down. We cannot be a strong people without strong marriages. 

Protecting marriage is protecting our way of life. 


* Someone is going to ask: well what about infertile couples!? You have a man and a woman but no potential for new life, you know! But there is a difference between not being able to reach the potential vs. removing it completely. And just like any fluke of nature, it does not contradict the entire system. Infertile couples are the exception when it comes to marriage. But every. single. same-sex couple is, by nature, sterile. It is not a comparable phenomena. 


Thursday, May 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Exciting, Disturbing & Reminiscent

Hey there! Hope you had a great week!



1. So, you know I was born in Ireland. And I can turn my accent on and off like nobody's business. My junior high class has been asking me to speak with the accent and I said if they could remember one of my lessons from earlier in the year, I would think about it. In the fall I taught them how to make a good apology. I don't remember where I read this, but it's been a great lesson for myself! You say;
-- I'm so sorry.
-- It was my fault.
-- It won't happen again.
-- What can I do to make it better?
So I asked them.. "How do you make a good apology?" And one kid raised his hand quickly and said, "I remember!" He crumpled his face, started to fake cry and said, "Pleeeeeease don't haaaaaate me!!" LOL I laughed so hard that I gave them playground time. I love my job!

2. I'm going to Italy for the first time! Okay, it's still more than a year away, but I'll be heading over the sea with my pastor and youth group on an amazing two-week trip next summer! Until then I'll be learning Italian, reading travel books and watching Under the Tuscan Sun over and over and over again! (Sigh) "It even smells purple." I can't wait!


3. Michael Mette came to Goretti! Have you heard him? Michael is an amazing Catholic musician (seriously, the kids said, "Caitie Rose, why don't YOU play guitar like that?" I told them they couldn't handle my talent at full throttle) and is touring the country with his family in an airstream! If you don't bring him to your parish, ya crazy! Get it on and get on his "Bring Forth the Light" tour! My favorite song he sang went like this: "When I consume Your Body, and I consume Your Blood, please consume my heart." He's awesome!



4. Even more exciting tho, we had 80 students Confirmed this past weekend! The Mass was beautiful! All week I had been singing this song and, having interviewed each and every teen myself, it was truly an honor to see them receive this Sacrament! *Weeeep!* P.S. A peice of advice for my fellow youth ministers: get more cake than you think you'll need. Ain't nothing more scary than the mothers of new Confirmed teens after the cake runs out. Whew!

5. Have you been keeping up with the case in Cleveland with the three girls who escaped their abductor? I visit Cleveland frequently and have read about these girls for years! I have been obsessed these last few days! I'm just riveted! But at lunch with my co-workers I realized I might have a problem when our Religious Ed coordinator put her sandwich down as I brough the others up to speed on the grusome details of the case. I can't help it! I'm glued!

6. Speaking of, since I don't live in Cleveland, I didn't have access to TV newscasts so I was watching online streaming video. One news network left theirs up between newscasts and as it filmed a street corner, a production assistant came in front of the camera and, while talking to the control room, repeated a phone number and code a couple times. I wrote it down and, when curiosity got the best of me, called it, entered the code and was shortly connected to the station's tele-conference in preparation of that night's 11 o'clock news. Remember when you first heard that THREE guys -- not just one -- were being held for questioning? Yeah, I heard that an hour or more before you did. Thankfully the producer said it was no big deal but I felt like a young Diane Sawyer.

7. Finally, I was going through my Facebook pictures and found a whole album of Graffiti drawings I'd done for people a few years back.. Some are inside jokes, but my talent is really quite notable and I have to share.. Don't judge me for the time I apparently had on my hands back then. I wasn't in youth ministry at the time. :)

Go see Jen at Conversion Diary and read something worthwhile!











 My gay marriage debate will resume again in the next week or two! Come on back and say hello! :)