Sunday, June 30, 2013


I'm home on a Sunday night, which is reason enough to celebrate with a blog entry. It's weird to be home on a Sunday, in my pajamas mid-afternoon and all the other Sunday things that people do. I'm home because we went in SUPER early- I had a baptism to wrangle and Scott sent his kids off to camp. He's not going to camp this year because he's recovering from an operation that his surgeon assured him he'd be fully recovered from in 2-5 days. What have we learned? Don't trust surgeons. Finally someone admitted to him that healing takes at least two weeks, and since he can't drive, I'm chauffeuring him around and so when he came home from work today, well, I had to come too.
Meanwhile, we're adopting a dog! She's nine years old and her person died of cancer, and she's a collie/golden retriever mix. She's very sweet and fluffy (wait till you see her tail!) We bring her home tomorrow, and we are so excited. I've been envisioning our lives with a dog included, and I think it's going to be great.
Meanwhile, I have a new job! No, I haven't lost my old job, I've just added another one to mine.  Our religious ed director has retired (who DOES that??) and when our interview process didn't turn up the perfect person to take her position, I was (ahem) promoted. I'm going to try like heck to keep my own work going, while doing hers, and delegating a lot. The best news is that we've hired a part-time admin. assistant to take on the administrative parts of the job, which is the only thing that has kept me from hyperventilating over the past month. It was announced in the bulletin this weekend, and all the older people coming out after Mass (I was greeting) said "congratulations! That sounds like a LOT of work!!" So.
Meeeeeanwhile, I've been taking a Canon Law and Marriage course from the Archdiocese. It's interesting, which is better than I expected. It's all women, and they ask veiled personal questions like "what if SOMEONE was married on the beach, despite her mother BEGGING her to go to the church?" One woman asked a question about annulments granted on the grounds of fraud, and then said "well, that's my marriage." Awkward!!! 
I'm taking the class so that I can be certified as a Pastoral Associate, which people on the Catholic streets say will be valuable for people who want to keep working in the Archdiocese. It's hard to know if this is true, or will be true, or... what will be true. But hey, why not get as certified as possible? If there's one thing I've learned from my Canon Law and Marriage class is that I don't really want to get into the annulment-arranging business- too much to know! But hey, who knows what I'll end up doing? I never dreamed I'd be doing whatever this is going to end up being.
Meanwhile, my mother's been in the hospital this week, again, sporting a nasty and un-helpful attitude... I've been too overwhelmed to be any help at all, this time around. Next health crisis, I am so there, siblings!
I think that's it. For now. But meanwhile...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hey Grandpa, what's for Sprummer?

 Happy first day of Summer! It's been just the right combination of sunny/thundery/rainy around here, and my garden is full of glee (and earwigs. AUGH!). The lettuce I scattered as seed has come up green and lush. I missed the spinach and now just pick it out when I see it towering over my lettuce plants... I never have  had much luck getting the timing right with spinach. But my peas, my peas! They are growing in leaps and bounds, and the tomatoes and zucchini plants seem to be bouncing back from their near-drowning over a couple of rainy weeks.
Anyway, all this is to declare that this is my favorite food season: Sprummer. Last week, just in time, the strawberries came in and I ran to the farm market to scoop up a few quarts. We ate some all day, one at a time, I set aside a quart for my Dad, and mashed the third quart with some sugar for strawberry shortcake.
(Our strawberry patch, for which we fight against the squirrels and rabbits for domination, is bigger than ever, and produced great berries this year! We got a few handfuls of them- but not enough for any kinda recipe.)
Today, a week later, I couldn't keep myself from going back for one more quart- I ended up slicing them, drizzling a bit of honey over them (less than a teaspoon, but it makes the most delicious difference...) and we had them for dessert tonight with whipped cream. For dinner we had taco salads with lettuce from the garden. So gratifying!!
For breakfast lately I've been whipping up flaxseed buns for egg sandwiches. So easy and good for ya!
And, can I just tell you about the stuffed mushrooms we had for lunch today? Good Gawd.
ALSO! Flour-free pizza crust that is to. die. for. Last week when I made it, we were out of pizza sauce so I made a paste of olive oil/soft butter/garlic/parm cheese and brushed it on the crust, and let me tell you. Heaven. Speaking of flour-free, this almond-flour coffee cake (I made it with strawberries) was a relative hit with my family. Who'd have thunk?
Sorry, I have no pictures, as we've gobbled everything up before snapping photos.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thinking Outside the Box

This weekend we hear the familiar story of one of Jesus' conversation with his apostles. He asks his closest friend, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They answer him by saying that people think he might be Elijah, might be John the Baptist, might be one of the "ancient prophets" come back to life.
The crowds are trying to make sense of what they are seeing in Jesus, trying to reconcile him to their old, existing images of what someone sent from God would be like. They are unable to "think outside the box" and instead, try to make Jesus fit the boxes they're familiar with.
I think we do the same thing with God. We have images of God that we cling to, even when they're unhelpful to us. We hang onto our images of God so tightly that when God doesn't behave in the way that fits our image, we give up believing. We create God in our own image, and then measure God's behavior (or lack thereof) against that image. When things don't go according to our plan, we decide that it is God who's at fault (or, non-existent)- not our images. We find it easier to discard God than it is to discard our boxes.
Of course, Jesus was way beyond what the crowds could understand him to be, and of course, God is beyond our reach of understanding too- Jesus calls us not just to change in behavior but a change in thinking- a paradigm shift. We have to stretch our understanding, dare to imagine that God could be something beyond and different from what we expect and are comfortable with. How do we do that?
The Apostles knew who Jesus was, and it was because they spent many hours face to face with Him. The crowds only knew pieces of Jesus, gleaned who he was based on his appearances and sermons. But the apostles, they logged time with Jesus. It was because they spent time in His presence that they could see Him for who He really was.
So, to follow their example, if we are going to be able to shift to a new paradigm, a new understanding of this God, we can't step away, boxes in hand, self-assigned images intact. We have to log time with God. We need to be face to face with God, spend time in His presence. Just like the Apostles, getting to know Jesus is not a promise of a life without pain- but there's a promise of a happy ending that we cannot find in the boxes we create.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Awakening Faith

I have a catless lap for the first time in a while, and so can take a moment to tell you about my recent experience using the PNCEA's Awakening Faith program. (Wait, are they not called the pncea anymore? Well, anyway, the Paulists. When it comes to evangelization, they're literally the book-writers.)
AF is an out-of-the-box program for Catholics who may have stepped away from the Church and are curious or feeling an inkling to step back in. Part of its greatness is that it's NOT the RCIA- not designed to firehose the participants with remedial dogma. The six sessions consist of short essays that you read with the participants, as-is, and then discuss. The essays are thought-provoking and applicable, and just a little bit challenging. But what's nice is that as a leader, I can claim no author-ship for what's written. I can say "so what do you think about what this person has to say?" without implying that it's right or wrong to agree or disagree, and without having to implicitly defend it. The writing is well done, though. The first night, as I prepared for the class, I thought "oh people are going to be so bored with reading this, there is so little here!" But as we started to read, my participants would say "oooh" or "hmm, that's true" as we read along. We had great, fruitful conversations after the readings, and I got to pull from my bag of teaching stories to complement the lessons. What fun to hang out with people who have never heard my stories!
I had two women participate, and they are very different from each other, but the three of us bonded over the 6 weeks in a really nice way. We had goose-bumpy moments, teary bits, and lots of laughter. I think both of them came away feeling encouraged in their journey back toward the Church, in their own ways. I think I'll offer it again next Lent, with a PR push on Ash Wednesday. I'm looking forward to doing it again!