Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I used to sit on this fence.

It was difficult to climb, and certainly gave me my fair share of splinters. At the time, just sitting there was my goal, splinters and all. Sitting on the top, right there in the middle, was so much easier than climbing to one side or the much easier than seeking a new vantage point; easier than coming to grips...uniting myself with the radical "crazies," dividing myself from the masses- taking a stand...on the ground.
In my sophomore year college public speaking class I was asked to give a persuasive speech on an  issue affecting the public today. Some people chose which airline we should fly as a consuming public (JetBlue, she said, as they have leather seats...convincing), others chose the best types of music, whether health care should be reformed and socialized, and the lowering of the legal drinking age (Go Buffs?). I chose partial-birth abortion. Ha!

Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe public speaking. Ironic, as I do it for a living...but 10 year olds versus peers equate to such different monsters in my head. Seriously, I hate speaking in public...I always clam up, turn so red, and fumble, over not just one or two words, but usually every other word... on a good day.

So, there I stood, in a classroom full of people I didn't know, prepared to give a speech about a topic that could cause some serious ripples...knowing that I was choosing, CHOOSING to make myself the quivering voice on an issue that I still wasn't completely sure about. I, uh uh uh mmmee, could make or break their thoughts, their perspectives on this issue. Right before my turn arrived, I sat clutching my visual of the growth process of a child in utero thinking, "I could have chosen leather airline seats? Seriously?"

I suppose now is the time in the story where I say: "And I got up to the stand, and I began my speech, and it flowed, like music, and the class sat, jaws dropped, listening- hanging on every word. It was pure magic." But as I said, I hate public speaking, and I learned very quickly that the feeling was mutual. My speech sucked. Like b-b-b-b-bad. I know- they videoed it and consensus, I sucked.

So why? Why did I choose to give a speech on a topic that I was unsure of, in a forum that triggered fear and freak-outs? I still don't know...but I will tell you that nothing happens without a reason.

Up until that time I considered myself pro-? I knew that abortion was not a choice that I could ever make, but far be it for me to take that away from someone else. Abortion was a service that people needed, it was in the best interest of society. It was about women, their health, their bodies...

The incredibly inspiring German philosopher, Edith Stein, once said: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. In reflecting upon that quote and the life of Edith Stein, the late John Paul II noted, "The modern world boasts of the enticing door which says: everything is permitted. It ignores the narrow gate of discernment and renunciation... Your life is not an endless series of open doors! Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface, but go to the heart of things! And when the time is right, have the courage to decide!...In our time, truth is often mistaken for the opinion of the majority."

Abortion is legal and choice is the opinion of the majority... therefore, it must be truth. Right? I mean the act of abortion is an act of love...or is it an act of truth...

I was recently reading an article that was discussing the history of human rights in our country. Beginning with Native American discrimination, and working its way through African American injustice, suffrage, etc. The basis being that these groups were marginalized within society. Society as a whole held a perspective on these groups as being less than, unable, not worthy. In each of these cases throughout our tainted history, these groups rose and showed that they have an innate call to live as equal and free members of our society- that they have a voice and it deserves to be heard. And it was good, and just, and beautiful. 

But there will always be an underdog. Always. There will always be the kid who is picked last for dodge ball...however, as a society, we have finally achieved the unthinkable. We have finally chosen the kid last for the dodge ball game who cannot even play. We have finally marginalized a vital part of our society who have no way of advocating for themselves. No picket signs to march with, let alone voices to call out to the masses, "Hey, what about us?" We have finally marginalized a population who will never be able to rise up and save themselves...we reign victorious.

I am amazed, as I watch the students interact with one another in my classroom. The student(s) who are always picked last are always chalked up to something else. "Eh, well he is not really an athlete" "Miss, he is always fumbling around...we want to win." When I ask how they think it feels to be picked last, the response I usually gets is: he knows he's bad; he doesn't really care; he won't help the team and he knows that. Is it true? How would you feel, I ask. 

The truth is, we have chalked up 50 million lives, 40% of current new life, to nothing more than cells.. how has it come to this? I am fascinated. 

Now, I am not going to spout the usual pro-life arguments (You were just a ball of cells once too, etc). That is not my goal...but I would like to challenge thought. Just think...

What if, just what if, that ball of cells is actually more? What if, as probes were inserted to dispose of these cells, they had a chance to say just one thing? 

...What if the opinion of the masses is wrong?

I am well-aware of the problems that occur with the increasing pregnancy rates, the exponential raise in poverty, the health concerns connected to back-alley procedures...well aware. I do not have all the answers. I understand the arguments about the tragic cases of rape and incest- I get it, in more personal ways than I would have ever imagined. This world has some serious issues. And I don't know how to solve all these problems...but what I do know, what I would say now to my 22 fellow sophomores, is that 50 million united voices would take an awful lot to silence. And we have. 

***Please know that in this post, for those of you who have had, or know someone who has had an abortion, my intent is in no way to judge or hurt.  The agony that must have accompanied that decision I am sure was beyond measurable and the intentions behind it, well-meaning. While that choice cannot be reversed, what can change is our perspective, opinion, and heart...with love and prayer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Ninja saved my life...

It must have been about 3AM when my life took one of the more profound and incredible turns it has taken it quite some time. Yes, at 3AM, while sitting on my couch, feeding a very hungry then 2 month old, I was first introduced to a device that would soon change my life.

I cannot say that I have much of a history with infomercials. This is not due to their ungodly air time, ridiculous, yet enticing claims, unappealing pitchmen, or their particularly aggravating scripted, this is because, and I am not proud, I am an easy sell. Yes...I totally looked up the Shake Weight reviews, own an Ab Blaster, and love me my Oxyclean. To be fair, all of these products have been either gifts or introduced to me via some other medium than infomercial, but upon hearing their claims...I would have so bought them had they been "As seen on TV."

Thus, my introduction to the infomercial began when Cal was born. Cal didn't have much to say there for awhile, and thus, I was left with no other choice than paid programming for late night company. And that was where I saw it...slicing and dicing those tomatoes like Leonardo rocking his katana while making dinner for the other turtle boys. I thought to myself, "Homemade salsa, yes, but what else can this magic machine do??" And my heart began to pound...Blend, dice, chop, mince, did it all!

Must. Own. Ninja.

And ask and you shall my wonderful husband had finally had enough of my ramblings about this brilliant and ingenious device that he caved. In came the Ninja, and from that point on, my kitchen was never the same.

I am sure that those of you still reading are questioning..."Really, a whole blogpost devoted to this heavenly and inspiring little food machine toward which I too find myself inexplicably drawn?" My reply, "Yes...and here's why."

We had crabcakes with mango salsa the other night. Salsa? Ninja...3 minutes.

Stuffed bell peppers that called for diced onions and mushrooms. Ninja...1 minute.

Morning blueberry, banana, and orange juice smoothie. Ninja.

Pina Colada...Margarita....Daiquiri...Ninja...Ninja...Ninja.

Oh yes, and some neurotic woman in charge of my kid's dietary needs insists that he eats all organically with homemade purees. Possible? Yep....the Ninja made me do it.

If you are in the market for a blender, food processor, baby food maker, miracle's all about the Ninja. It truly makes mincing magical.

***As a side note: We used the Ninja for every last bit of Cal's baby food. It was fun, fast, and easy. The #1 complaint I heard from friends about making their own food was that it took too much time. However, we just boiled veggies or blended fruits, added a bit of water, and within seconds had the perfect puree. It was so much cheaper than store-bought foods...and we were able to make it in bulk, pour into ice cube trays, freeze it and use for later. Once he was eating more, we pored it into empty baby food jars, froze and defrosted as necessary. It was such a Godsend...and I am so thankful we found it!

Jesus was Way Cool...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Runner's Angst

I started running at sea level. Mistake.

As someone who needs to feel progress in order to keep my motivation, a week of successful running in  D.C. at sea level followed by a rude awakening to the mile high left me feeling what little progress I had made in my quest to runneth had been rebuffed. Discouraging? Yep.

Now, I am not proud, but I think the longest distance I have ever run is, maybe, two miles. I am simply not a runner. I have never experienced the famed "runner's high." I wanted to, I really did, but learning to run with my attention span, it just never quite fit. As I have learned, becoming a runner is a marathon, not a sprint, and I live my life in a series of I just have no patience for this marathon junk. So...two miles it is, was...until recently.

Having a baby changes you. Yes, my heart is more open, I see the world more clearly, I love more deeply, blah, blah, blah, but really, my stomach is more saggy and I feel like I should be rocking 'mom jeans,' pleats and all. Yet, my friends/family who are runners are still sporting their six-packs and playing beach volleyball in a two-piece swimsuit. Gasp. So, in addition to wanting to get into better shape for my health and future, wah., I would like to look down to my abdomen and see more firm and less flan. Call me vain...I own it...but Runner's World, here I come.

I have begun on the treadmill, although the outside does beckon, so too does The Simpsons reruns on the large flat screen TV to help time pass. Running for the past few days, I haven't gone far, maybe 7 tenths of a mile daily (without walking...haha)...and have slammed right into the usual problems I seem to face when beginning to run. Shins and ankles...shins and ankles. I try to run through, because I am that tough, but really...they hurt, and well...I am not that tough.

I have transitioned to non-impact machines, which do not accomplish the whole "running" thing, but do pose less problems for my lower legs. I have also decided that warming-up, stretching, and not running at capacity just to beat the guy next to me for the two minutes I can keep up with him are essential.

Would love any input...novice runners to pros? Advice for the lower legs, morale, or both...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolutions take Resolve

It takes a brave woman to make a solid New Year's Resolution. I suppose, by definition then, most of people I know are resolutions come a dime a dozen. Yet, for some reason, I know that in 2011 I desire something different.

I don't know if it's the "double ones," or the fact that we can no longer wear those New Year's glasses with the awesomely clever zeros for eyes... Maybe it's some dip in the weather, or the incredible and blessed start of a new day. It could be that Katy Perry told me I was a Firework tonight on the radio...or perhaps, it's the fact that my life has taken so many wonderful and trying turns in the past few years that I long to ground myself and actually stick to something. I don't know. I don't know why this year I desire something different, but I do. And that is Good. Really Good... brownie good. As a start, this year I am resolving to commit to my resolutions resolutely. And how.

I wanted to begin my resolve with a sort of Mission Statement. A contract between me, and, well...the Internet, that will help me to stay true to who I am and who the Lord is continuing to call me to see. I don't like the idea, especially being a woman of faith (although continuously humbled by how little), of, come January 1st, society as a whole decides it is time to "fix" themselves. However, when I was reflecting upon this, I realized, that although the time frame should probably be more arbitrary, and should definitely be a perpetual process, I love the idea of striving to improve myself. I love the idea that we can begin ourselves anew just as each day begins anew. And today, January 1st just happens to be my day to begin anew...

Now we're not talking major overhall here. I am not going to shave my head and dye it blue, or join the Peace Corps in Malawi. But I do want to take a good hard look at the things that I am constantly drawn to in my life but can never seem to grasp, and begin grasping. I hope to chronicle each successful grasp, and each humbling folly, in hopes of showing some sort of evolution and maybe, just maybe, providing some sort of inspiration or impetus to those who may stumble upon our blog.

Tonight I listened to a woman Eulogize her thirty-something husband who died just days prior in a way that not only created utter bliss and uproarious celebration in Heaven, but inspired each and every listener, both in person and beyond to fall on their knees. Not to thank the Lord for our husbands, our children, our blessings, but to thank the Lord for His Sacrifice, His Mercy, His Love, His Devotion. She was pure Faith. Faith that is unwavering. Faith that WILL move mountains...Faith that will transform the hearts of many. Faith that brought this woman to the point of complete jubilation during her husband's eulogy at just the mere thought of knowing what her journey, her suffering is all about...the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
  • I desire this Faith. I desire to return my heart to its rightful owner, and continue to share it with those with whom He has blessed me. I desire to fall on my knees and cry out...not out of despair, or rejoicing, but just to be with He who is above all else. I desire to serve my husband as Christ served His Bride- and do my best to deny myself before this service. I desire for my son to know, and love with all his heart He to whom he belongs. I desire to witness this...not preach it, but live it.
In a recent conversation, a beautiful woman was telling me about the triumphs and the trials of stay-at-home-motherhood. Her service and love for the task with which she has been blessed was radiating, although she remained so humble. It was the little things that made me take notice. The way she understandably wanted to snap when the kids were not listening, but instead she took the time to talk to them, to love them fully, and to see them for their strengths in that moment rather than scold their weaknesses. It was the way she prepared a meal, painstakingly selecting only the best of ingredients so that she could give only the best to those with whom she ate. It was the way she chose to love her spouse so beautifully and completely. I think above all, it was the way she was able to so profoundly reflect upon her day, her actions, her choices, and after all her work was done, still want to perfect herself for the Kingdom, for the others in her life, to point where it hurt. It was breathtaking.
  • She said, "I feel as though I am sometimes acting out of self-preservation, rather than serving out of love" Although I cannot agree that self-preservation was in anyway her goal, I can agree that it is often times my own. I desire to act out of love... and out of service...
Sitting on the couch tonight I was talking to my husband, something I tend to do often. Yet, it was funny because although we do have a tendency to, you know, talk to one another, it seems like it is a rarity that I take the time to see him. Sad.  Looking past his words, looking past the day's events... and straight into the heart that has been entrusted to me until the day we die. I got to see the beauty, the pain, the glory, and the falls...I got to see the detail with which the Lord molded every inch of his heart into this unique and imperfect, but oh-so-perfect for me, heart. It was truly awe-some. I was given a gift tonight...and it was amazing.
  • I desire to see my husband, truly see him...through the eyes of Christ. I desire to see all who I meet, and truly see them, through the eyes of Christ. Noting the beauty and the battles, their hearts and their hurts, and knowing we were all cut from a cloth sewn Love.
We received an email from some friends about volunteering a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. This is something Eric and I had always talked about of our time and hearts to help nourish.
  • I desire to volunteer, on a regular basis, with an organization that I can truly give my heart to. I desire to also serve with my family in order to give of all of our time and talents.
Recently, a couple of friends of mine completed their first marathons. I was beyond inspired by them, as this is not an easy journey. The dedication and commitment that it takes to complete a race like this seriously, I am not sure I possess. However, I remain inspired.
  • So, I desire to run a 10K by this May...and really run it. I am not a runner, never have been, and continue to question this goal, but...I would like to push myself. I would like to get into better shape. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but in service to my family. Because, who wants a mom who tires in the middle of a game of family pick-up soccer??
In a black case in a lonely corner of our basement lives a beautiful acoustic guitar. It has followed me everywhere, from single to married, from high school to motherhood...yet, I neglect it and its strings remain unplayed.
  • I desire to relearn how to play my guitar. I desire to use this guitar as an instrument to bring joy my family, allowing us to sing and worship together. I desire play with friends, and family...sharing in song. How very kumbaya of me!
The Catholic Church is a Church based upon community, sharing in sacraments as a parish-unit. Yet, since college I have found myself constantly "parish shopping," trying to find the right fit or making excuses due to the fact that I may move, or may get busy. Yet, my parish is what brings me the Grace of the Sacraments, the Grace that sustains my very life. And yet, I do not give back??
  • I desire to commit to, and get involved in my parish. I desire to not only contribute, but to look for voids and try to fill them. I resolve to a weekly Holy Hour, during which I simply revel in the Lord.
Finally, there is a myth that exists that tells of a creature who is able to cook a 5-course meal, while spotlessly cleaning the whole if its dwelling, who dons clothes outside of sweatpants, and who always has the right thing to say with a side of smile. This creature: Super Mom. I have read articles, seen movies, heard the stories, but have decided such a creature does not exist...close, but does not exist. So...I will not strive to be Super Mom...but,
  • I desire, with the help of my incredible family, to keep our home picked-up and remotely clean. I desire to cook more, while still honoring our devotion to Chipoltle. I desire to read more books, of all types, and use the knowledge I glean, be it practical or nourishment for my soul, to help feed my family. I resolve to put the clean laundry away, so that the piles of clean laundry don't get so used to their piled state that I need to re-wash them. And I desire to entertain more, host more parties, share meals and laughter with family and friends. I want to open the doors of our home and our hearts and readily share these blessings with all those we meet.
And so, 2011...let us begin.