26 April 2013

7 Quick Takes {vol. 6}

Be sure to check out Jen's weekly link-up...

This weekend is shaping up to be another busy one for the Hubbard's.  All day Saturday we have workshop for young adults on evangelization and discipleship through the young adult group we have started going too, its hosted and run through Renewal Ministries.  Its a great ministry striving to foster renewal and evangelization in the Catholic Church all around the world.  Sunday I have an all day World Youth Day prep event with our group of pilgrims and then youth group in the evening.
Also, Friday night Jim is sharing his personal testimony at a retreat...he's really excited to share how God has recently been working in his life!

This one is too fun not to pass up!  This week my Dad sent me this link...http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/22/watch-step-right-up-and-get-your-pope-francis-mask/...some guy in Brazil is making Pope Francis masks to celebrate his trip to Brazil this summer for World Youth Day.  It was something fun that made me smile today! Looking forward to having another country/continent stamped in my passport this July:)

I recently have started following Kaitlyn from Wifessionals .  One thing I discovered from her blog is this awesome service called Birchbox.  Every month you get this little box of of lifestyle and and beauty sample of all types of different products for only $10 a month, no shipping, and you can cancel any time.  That's a little bit of luxury I can afford!  I'm already thinking this would be a great idea for birthday and Christmas gifts for the ladies in my life.
Below is a picture of what came in my birchbox for April: a hair serum to make your hair healthy and shiny, a  new lip stain, an eye roller to get rid of puffiness and bags under the ol eyes, and a perfume sample.  Check it out if interested.

This past Wednesday I had my oral exam for the spring semester.  I'm usually not such a procrastinator, but this year was bad....to the degree I didn't start studying till Wednesday afternoon, I know, bad.  I had to know 5 questions on different teachings, concepts on the Trinity and Christology...wasn't bad, but I'm definitely never being that last minute again.  I did well on the oral and got an A- on my paper, score!  Another 2ish years till my master's...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.... ;-)

I'm a Pinterest nut.  Recently, I have been finally putting some of those tasty recipes to work in our kitchen.  I've never been into the cooking thing, and all I had to my name was Lean Cuisines and bowls of cereal...don't Jim hasn't been starving too bad!  We've started to look at Pinterest together and pick a few recipes to cook and try out together when go grocery shopping.  I especially been putting my Weight Watcher recipes to use and finding fun, tasty options for dinner.  This week our new fav was chicken breasts stuffed with a mixture of spinach, feta, and onions...we loved it so much and ate it twice for dinner this week!

First I lightly seasoned the chicken breasts and sliced them up to be stuffed.  The I chopped up half an onion and 4 cups of spinach

Then I put 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil in the pan...tossed in the spinach and onion to saute them...afterwards I added the feta cheese (I really like feta, so I went wee bit crazy with it)

Then I stuffed the chicken breasts with this tasty mixture.  Popped them in the oven for 30 minutes at 350, and voila...tasty dinner for 2!!! Steam some broccoli and a little lemon juice and you're set to go:)

Over the past week or so, different folks have come up to me telling me how they think I'm doing a good job at the parish I work at or like the things we're trying to do.  After this post, it's easy to get bogged down by what you feel/think isn't going right or is hard at times...it's nice every once and awhile to hear encouraging, supportive comments to bring a smile to my face.  It's not about me at all, but rather trying to be open to how God can use me here...was just something little I was grateful for this week:)

Jim and I knew we wanted to do something special for our anniversary, and we had been going back and forth, but finally decided on a road trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan...WAY up north.  He has taken on the job of planning and arranging the itinerary and I'm excited to see what he comes up with...so he's currently drafting up a game plan and making notations of fun things to see and places to stop.  I'm really excited and looking forward it and making some fun memories.

Happy Friday:)
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

23 April 2013

5 Favs {vol. 6} ...some great book finds!


Linking up with Hallie for lots of other grand five favs tonight...be sure to check out the party!
 Going with another theme for my five favs...and this time its my newest/most enjoyable reads!

Holy. Sex. Sure, I enjoy 'holy sex' with my husband...but I also love this book.
One of my friends had read it while she was engaged and recommended it to me.  When Jim and I were engaged we started reading it, and we LOVED it.  Granted, the second half we opted out of till we got married so we wouldn't be 'tempted' to put theory into practice.
The beautifully, awesome thing about this is book is that it explains Christianity's, explained through a Catholic lens, the best kept secret: that sex is good, holy, and awesome...in the context of God's original plan which is marriage.  It touches on important ideas like how sex makes us holy, is sacramental, is a great sign of God's love, how it brings unity, and creates new life.  It also beautifully expresses the teaching behind contraception and why the Catholic Church encourages/believes/teaches that married couples to go 'organic' and use NFP (Natural Family Planning).  It also has a Q/A section on all different things related to sexuality and also has a section on the 'school of physical love'.  It was a great book that got us talking, thinking, and praying more as we began married life.  GREAT read for engaged and married couples...or if you're wanting to understand more on the Catholic Church's idea on sexual morality...it's kinda awesome. just. saying.

This book was a surprise find one afternoon at Barnes Noble.
The back cover intrigued me and after skimming a few pages, I was hooked.
Set in pre-WWII Europe it is a historical fiction love story of a young couple that is separated through unforeseen circumstances of the war.  They both mistakenly think each other dead, but then a twist a fate many years later reunites them.  I fell in love with the characters, and finished this one in like 3 days; couldn't put it down.  
If you love a good love story and/or historical fiction, then this is a definite read for you!! :)

This book was actually highly recommended to me by one of my teens parent's in youth ministry.  I read it for the first time last summer upon coming home from our honeymoon.  An inspiration story on a young college woman who goes to work for a brief period in Uganda.  After falling in love with the people she served and feeling a strong call from God, she stayed there permanently starting a non-profit organization and also adopting over 10 Ugandan little girl's who had been orphaned.  Katie's story will leave you inspired, hopeful, and passionately seeking to do the will of Jesus in whatever walk of life He has called you to.
A great inspirational read!!! 5 stars on this one for sure :)

excerpt from 'Kisses from Katie'

I heard about this book on the radio and from several other folks.  As a Catholic, I think its good book to have in my back pocket; especially when much of what my faith teaches/professes is not widely accepted or even respected in the culture of today.   Sure I get that, but its important to be able to speak clearly and know what you're talking about with some of these issues.  I also recently mentioned this book in a another post here and how the title alone was much inspiration and reflection for me.  A good, insightful read for me!


This is another favorite for 'team Hubbard.'  I discovered this little gem when we were dating, and it quickly became a favorite of both of ours.

Matthew Kelly talks about what real intimacy is, is not, and how to find true emotional/spiritual intimacy in all your relationships. You'd think my hubster wrote this because he recommends this thing left and right to folks, too cute!  A great, meaningful read for anybody; single, married, discerning a vocation, or a priest/religious!

What are some of your favorite books or latest finds you have enjoyed??
Be sure to check out the other peeps at Hallie's link-up too!! 

Happy Tuesday:)

18 April 2013

The toughest things about being a Youth Minister...

1. I feel as though I am trying to 'sell' Jesus as much to the parents as I am to the teens.
2. One of the hardest things is just trying to get butts in the door.

Tuesday night at the parish we had a second mandatory parent presentation on raising happy, holy Catholic teens and how to empower parents to help raise their kids in the faith.  Also at the meeting I had interview times/dates available for their young person's interview before being confirmed.  We another meeting on Sunday afternoon to offer more flexibility for family schedules.  Out of 61 young people to be confirmed this November, 25 parents did not come.  And two parents came late, stayed at the talk for 15ish minutes, signed their teen up for their interview, and went merrily on there way. Major. Bummer.

I was flabbergasted and disappointed...don't parents care about their kids growing in the faith??  Don't parents want their kids to have a personal relationship with Jesus and understand the Catholic faith??  Of course, I am not making a wide, sweeping judgment that all or even most parents don't care about the child's faith life....but its at times like this when you feel like you're fighting an up hill battle.  Sure we could say there a lot of reasons why parents and teens are not engaged and connected in the Church and have a faith life...but it can be really frustrating for me sometimes, especially as I just want everyone to find all the joy and goodness in Catholicism as I do.  Either be all in for Jesus or not at all, but don't be lukewarm or apathetic.

One part of the equation I think is because many parents I would say don't know/understand/or maybe get even now what they believe as Catholics.  And this can be for many reasons.  30-40 years ago, Catholic schools and majority families were great at 'memorizing' the Catechism (a book of history/tradition/Scripture explaining why we believe what we do as Catholics), and sure memorizing has a great place in helping teach the faith, but that doesn't automatically translate to the heart, where people have a living relationship with Jesus.  We cannot expect people to just be able to rattle of prayers and the 10 commandments and then expect them to turn out to be intentional disciples.  For many years, a lot of Catholics have been 'sacramentalized' but not 'evangelized.'  By that I mean, many of us just went to Mass on Sunday because we were supposed to or receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation because our folks made us.  We went to formation classes, received the sacraments, and basically did all the Catholic stuff on the outside, but perhaps on the inside maybe hearts weren't being converted and changed.  And I think the Church has been realizing it for time and seeing the huge effects and implications this should have for how we educate/reach out to adults and children.  First, introduce to them Jesus, help them know and love him...and then introduce the many awesome treasures of the Catholic faith to them.

If the parents aren't living lives as disciples, how can we reasonably expect that there kids are going to jump on the Jesus band wagon with all they got? My DRE (Director of Religious formation) and I are already talking about new ideas of starting some kind of out reach/ministry to parents with children of all ages.  And it's going to take time...slowly we can turn the ship around.

I guess its frustrating because its like at times I am tying to 'sell' Jesus to these parents, as much as I am to their young person.  I just feel weird even saying that out loud, "selling Jesus"...I'm not a telemarketer!  But I imagine that there folks in the Church that could relate to that idea, because we really do have to compete for adults and teens attention and hearts just to even present the Gospel message to them; and sometimes that just can get tough.  I was talking to a youth minister friend the other day and he said he got so discouraged about always just trying to get butts in the door that he almost walked away from youth ministry after two years, because it just started to wear on him.  And it's funny cause I could relate to some of that in a very real way.  Numbers are important in ministry, of course its not all about the numbers.  But if you're only getting 4-5 kids at events, and someone down the street is getting 50-60 teens, you'd definitely ask and wonder, "What are they doing that is helping them reach more teens?"

Numbers do matter.  Getting teens in the door does matter to even try and give the 'Jesus thing' a chance.  But really at the end of the day, all I can do is my personal best and keep giving it all to the Lord and asking for more grace/guidance to help those I minister to...cause in the end, they are all his little ones; and I'm just a tool he can use to help capture their hearts/minds for Him.

I'm not hopeless or burnt out...its just hard sometimes after a rough day like this...

17 April 2013

5 Favs {vol.5} ...the Bible edition:)


Another link up with Hallie today...and I'm spicing things up for my 5 favs, and running with a theme.  Hold onto your seats, peeps as I share with you my five favorite Scripture verses and why they are special to me! Yayyyy Bible!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; 
In all your ways be mindful of him, 
and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
This one HAS to be my #1 because it was the first verse of Scripture I memorized.  When I re-discovered my faith, I had heard of folks talking about memorizing Scripture as a way to fill your heart with the promise of God's truth and that really resonated with me.  And no, I don't always do it regularly, these verses are so special because it was when I decided that I wanted to learn more about my faith and Jesus through getting into the Word more.  I also love it because I'm kind of a control freak. like. a lot.  I'm the type that can say in my morning prayer driving to the office, "Jesus, I love and I give you this day, my work, marriage, all I have and do for your glory....you get the idea".  By lunch time, I can be mentally taking it back and saying "No Lord, I don't like that" or "It's too hard and scary letting you have it all."  But I am working at it constantly with the whole "let go and let God" kind of thing...practice makes perfect right??

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence..." (1 Peter 3:13-16)
This verse I mention in my About section too.  I love this verse because it just screams out to me the importance of being a. able to defend/speak about/share your faith with others and 2.To always do it with compassion/love/gentleness...always speak the truth, but in love.  This verse for me is just so empowering as one striving to be an intentional follower of Christ.  This a verse when I read it, cannot simply help smiling because it just makes me want to work to be a better witness in my day-to-day life of the faith that I profess and believe.

"...Because you are precious in my eyes, and glorious, and because I love you..."
(Isaiah 43:4)
This one is actually a really tough one for me.  One of the things I struggle with a lot on a personal level is comparing myself to other people, especially in terms of my body.  You may be able to relate with that: focusing more on the things I don't like about my body, always wishing I was a 'smaller' size and/or weight, and sometimes sadly thinking I find my value and worth in what the numbers on the scale vs. in what God tells me about my true and real dignity.  For awhile now, I have really felt that God is wanting me to really address this issue in my life and its been hard.  I mean how do you start 'loving' yourself overnight after years and years of negative even mean self talk to yourself???  Thankfully, I have a good spiritual director who is encouraging and challenging me to take this to prayer and I have good family/friends...oh and what about Jim, yeah he's great too about it.  

I really really want to believe this verse and know that 1. I love myself for me! and b. really know that to be true in my relationship with Jesus too.
So in the end, a tricky verse for me at times, but I still love it too, because I know and sense God calling me to wrestle with all of this through these words of the prophet Isaiah.

"God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; 
but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it" 
 (1 Corinthians 10: 13)
I really love this verse, and find great comfort/strength in it for me personally and for many others I know who endured and went through hardships in life.  I know when I'm in the middle of a difficult time, I don't hesitate to whine and complain to Jesus about "fixing the situation" or "getting me out of it like pronto!"  Nobody wants to suffer in life, but it comes with life for us all.  This verse is just a great reminder on how God never abandons us...and I don't know about you, but I constantly need reminders like this!

This last one is a certain section and verses from the Gospel of John 21:1-19, it was actually the Gospel read this past Sunday.  After having breakfast with the disciple (aka the first church fish fry ;-) Jesus asks Peter three times do you love me.  Peter starts getting frustrated with Jesus and basically responds, "Well duhhh, Lord, you know that I love you."  And Jesus responds, "feed my sheep...come follow me."  I have always loved encounter of Jesus and his disciples.  I feel I connect with it and probably all of us can, because I mean how many times do I strive to love/follow Jesus, but miss the mark??  And then Jesus response, he asks Peter to rely on him more and come follow him.  Lots of good food for thought here...

What are some of your favorite Scripture verses??
Be sure to check out the link up party for others five favs too!

15 April 2013

Coffee and Convo...

Joining a new link-up today with Kalyn and Lauren for some...
Coffee & Conversation 
This week's topic:

What do you consider your two greatest strengths?  What about the areas would you like to improve?

One strength I think I have is that I'm really passionate about things in life: my family/friends, my faith/relationship with God, personal interests and hobbies, and certain issues in the world.  When I'm all for something, I'm in 100% and hard core.  Its great to have things that excite us, and fill our lives with meaning and purpose...I mean God didn't put us here so we would live meaningless, boring lives, right??    One area I can improve on this at times is I can come across as a little pushy at times.  I have learned this lesson with respect to my faith life.  I can be totally passionate and on fire for Jesus and what I believe in, but the minute I become judgmental and turn on a 'holier-than-thou' attitude, that totally is NOT the way God sees or wants it.  I wrote a recent post on my own thoughts and experience on that in my own life here if you interested.

Another strength I see in myself is I want to help other people, want to take care of the people I love.  I love to do special little things for my husband, family, and friends...and even for folks who maybe I don't know: like pay for the person's food behind me in a fast food line or pray silently for the people in line with me at the bank.  With that desire to want to take care of others needs as a genuine concern, sometimes I put myself on the back burner.  I wait until everything builds up with stress and feeling overwhelmed and then I'm like an emotional volcano just spewing stuff everywhere...thankfully the different personalities in my husband and I balance each other out.  I'm more the up tight control freak, and he is more laid back and easy going.  He reminds me its important to take time to refresh, pray, do things I enjoy, and not get so worked up about the little things.
Its important to acknowledge our strengths, but also reflect on how we may at times misuse our strengths and use them against ourselves...
thanks for stopping by! :)

12 April 2013

A Modern House of Horrors=A Bored Media

The more I read about this absolutely horrifying story of Kermit Gosnell's "house of horrors" it truly makes me sick to my stomach and cry many tears; tears women who were victimized/died and tears for the little ones who become nothing more than another number whose lives have been lost to abortion. 

Almost as horrifying as this story is, the fact that this story is not on many mainstream media outlets is a complete. total. injustice.

When 'The Today Show' finds more value in sharing on the new and latest sex toys for couples over such a story as this, that leaves me blown away and quite appalled in terms of what our country considers 'good' reporting and journalism.

Here are some places where you can read more about this story:
Bonnie shared these words on her blog this afternoon from the Overview at the Grand Jury hearing regarding the trial and charges held against Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  These are a mere stating of the facts that happened:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it. 

 Let us say right up front that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. 

You can read the full article here....

The point here is that the media on a vast level is completely ignoring this issue!  This is really the problem: a doctor (and I'm using that term very loosely) intentionally and knowingly killed babies born alive at his abortion clinic facility.  That's murder last time I checked.

This is evil.inhumane.disgusting.  And to top it off, nobody is saying a word.

NBC, CBS, ABC, civil rights groups, women's groups, the freaking medical community....where are all you, nobody saying anything!?!?  Instead of red little medical waste bags, imagine small white coffins.  No need for politics.  Cover the story.  Please don't be shy and speak up on this! 

President Obama, I know you and have different views on this issue of abortion, but how can you not speak up on this particular case?

Imagine if Gosnell had been butchering up puppy dogs and kitty cats instead of babies. There wouldn't be enough freaking parking for the satellite news vans and trucks.

Why am I and many others outraged and beating this dead horse?
Because the media would cover the beating of a dead horse and not this. sad. but. true. fact.

10 April 2013

Five Favs {vol. 4}


Another weekly link-up with Hallie! And welcome to the world, baby Charlie!

Pope Francis continues to AMAZE me. 

This is what love looks like.  This is what respect for the dignity of the human person looks like.  This is faith being lived out in action.  Every time I watch this video I'm moved to tears.  Watch it.  And have some Kleenex near by. for. real.

There's also an interview available of the father of this precious little boy being interviewed.  Check it out.   

This article by Ann Voskamp.  Her heart-felt writing and deep insight are always a meaningful read for me.  Of course like many other Christians, I was so saddened by the news of Pastor Rick Warren's son Matthew taking his own life.  No, I don't know him personally, but he is a brother in the Lord...and we are told when one member of the body of Christ is suffering, the whole body suffers.  Lift up Pastor Rick, his wife, family, and the soul of his son in your prayers....I cannot imagine the deep grief and suffering they are going through and only pray they will be comforted by our prayers and sacrifices.

This. article.
I really really love being Catholic.  Not in some blind-obedience way. But rather in some joyful, passionate, cannot-control-my-enthusiasm-kinda-way.  This article very briefly summarizes some of the things best I love about my faith:)  If you aren't Catholic or don't understand this, feel free to send me an e-mail, I would love to share it with you:)

My Dad sent me this article earlier this week.  
It might sound weird to consider this a 'favorite' because the Defense Department categorized Catholics and Evangelical Christians as "extremists" groups similar to the KKK and Al Qaeda. Really!?!?!?  I would LOVE to know the reasoning behind that one.  I put it here because I think its something important to be aware of; the cultural shift in our world that is labeling us for what we believe...crazy times.  We have to be ready to "give our reason for the hope we believe in" at all times. And for any cost.  Maybe that whole zombie apocalypse thing is coming sooner than we all think?? (reference to 'The Walking Dead' ;-)

Stumbled across this post today...7 Deadly Sins of Catholic blogging 
The first one made me laugh out loud. hard.  Any tips you would give a new blogger?

P.S.  On a random note, please say some prayers for the hubs and I this week...we are both finishing up big papers for school and have finals next week, and he is getting ready to graduate in less than a month.  So let' just that scrubbing toilets will probably not be our first priority this weekend...even though my inner control freak doesn't like that fact:)

08 April 2013

My most favorite recipe for muffins/cupcakes/cookies!

Today I just want to share with ya'll one of my favorite and easiest baking recipes...cause that's mostly where my cooking skills are at:)

Pumpkin/spice cake muffins!
Seriously. Just these 2 ingredients is ALL.  And they are low in Weight Watcher points too, score!

I have also used chocolate cake mixes too with the pumpkin and that's great, but my favorite is the spice cake one.

Really very easy to make.
The recipe I found on Pinterest calls for the average can of pumpkin pie mix, but I sue the larger size cause I love the taste of pumpkin.

Combine the two mixtures and blend really well.  Because the pumpkin is so thick, it can make the muffins/cupcakes/cookies a little lumpy...I still have to tweak that part some.

Then I scoop out batter and using an ice cream scoop (thanks Pinterest!) I put the batter into lined muffin tin pans. 
Afterward you bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Now unless you have a not so great oven (like us!), keep an eye on it.  After 15 minutes, I pull them out and stick a knife in a few of them.  If it comes out clean, I know they're down.  If not, they need some more time...which with our oven, they usually need closer to 20 minutes.  If I'm making these as cookies or cupcakes, my favorite icing to use is a cream cheese frosting...it tastes so good with the pumpkin spice flavor!

After you let them cool, make yourself a cup of hot tea or pour a nice cold glass of milk and taste the yumminess of your work!  If you get a chance to make them, let me know what you think!

Happy Monday!

05 April 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday {vol. 5}

Linking up with Jen again this week...check out all the other wonderful peeps linking up with her!

Monday we had an extra special, yet fun and simple date night.  On Easter, Jim's aunt gave us a little basket with some peeps, jelly beans, and candy.  I saw the peeps and remembered an idea I saw on Pinterest last Easter of making holiday s'mores with peeps.

Jim had class late in the evening.  I left him a sticky note on the door if he was looking for a quiet, romantic night to enter at his own risk.  I led him into our bedroom where he was greeted with this on our bed...and another love note explaining it all.

Then we put on our comfy, fuzzy robes and began roasting peeps over our stop top.
Clearly my husband likes to play with fire.

THIS is how to properly roast a peep.  He didn't believe me.

And this was our end result...not too bad! Some Diet Canada Dry in fancy wine goblets and a few peeps for decoration to keep the Easter celebration going (cause Easter is a season, not just 1 day:)

--- 2 ---
Recently, I did a very thorough clean out of my closet and re-organized everything.  When I was perusing around on Fine Purple Linen last week I noticed they had a need for a guest post on closet organization.  Be sure to check them out for my guest post!  It should be up today...take a look and enjoy:)  Let me know what you think and if you have any great organizing ideas to add!

--- 3 ---
I've got a few ideas brewing for some upcoming posts: Why we are going organic in the bedroom (NFP stuff ;-), why Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable (in a good way though!), and how sometimes I hate being wrong.  One in particular is on how much I strongly dislike when my husband calls me out on stuff.  Let's just say there were 2 evenings this week where I was a. hot. mess. And in a totally loving, but firm way, he called me out on all of it.  Okay, I know VERY childish.  I'm kind of a stubborn personality who combined with being at times judgmental and not always taking criticism very well, can = drama.  Of course I'm glad he called me out on some attitudes/behavior that was not very kind/loving but it just doesn't feel good in the present moment.  But thankfully when you're married to someone who is not just concerned about telling you what you want to hear, but rather helping become a saint and get my sorry butt into Heaven someday, in the end that's why I know I married him.  More thoughts on this at a later time...

--- 4 ---
In the 'About' section of my blog, I state I'm a lover of books!  For real.  When I get some money or a stipend from giving a talk.  I happily spend it at the local Catholic bookstore or Barnes and Noble.  Recently, I have been making way through this little gem.

 Do you ever read a book that just totally excites and revives you??  That is this for me.  It is all about the digital revolution and the new media technology, and how/why it is so critical for the Church to take advantage of these new methods to continue reach out, teach, and change the world all in the name of Jesus.  I'm feverishly taking notes and dog-earring the page.  It's got me thinking of new ideas to start in youth ministry in our parish next year too like creating a blog for youth ministry written by our youth leaders, myself, and full of relevant articles/media for parents and teens alike...not to mention to do some major over haul on our youth section on the parish web site.  And a few other things too...
It's also giving me ideas of how to use this platform (my blog) as an avenue for sharing my faith, like creating a guest post series (Why I'm Catholic? or something similar).

This book is written by all sorts of people with all sorts of stories, experiences, and ideas of how this 'new media' needs to be a focus for how we as Catholics continue to share the joy and truth of the Gospel message.  A good read for folks in ministry and all of us trying to lead souls to Christ.

--- 5 ---
Watch. this. video. http://vimeo.com/62832170# (silly blogger wouldn't let me upload the video, oh well:)  Joe Castillo is a sand artist who was at the National Catholic Youth Conference in 2011.  The teens I took loved his work...SUCH amazing talent, and what a neat way to help foster prayerful reflection! 

--- 6 ---
This picture is quite true for me. 

I'm a very temperamental sleeper; the kind that sleeps in ear plugs and complains if the room is not total darkness.  One of the hardest things getting used to is that I'm married to a bear.  Not only does he snore, ladies and gents, he snores LOUD.  I'm ashamed to say I have had to resort to kicking Jim under the covies letting him know he woke me up yet again.  Or sometimes poke him and let him know his noise pollution has woken me up again.  Maybe putting up with this will be my get-out-of-Purgatory free card?? One can hope! ;-)

Our Easter picture...down by the river.  Actually it was a very fancy river front restaurant, but still nonetheless, down by the river:)

Be sure to keep celebrating the joy of the Easter season!
And don't forget this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday...Jesus, I trust in you...or at least I'm trying to get better at it :)

03 April 2013

Five Favorites {vol.3}

Linking up with Jen and Hallie this week for some more favorites...

This. hair spray.
I'm a gal that loves to curl my hair.  For awhile I've played with different hair spray brands from the drugstore.  A few weeks ago, I went to get my eye brows waxed and saw it in the display section for hair products and thought I would give a try.  I have relatively thick hair, and it really helped my curls in.  Definitely one of my new favs!
my favorite perfume.
I bought this perfume last spring for our wedding/honeymoon.  On Monday, Jim and I had a creative date night at home were we made Easter 'peep' smores over our stove.  Before hand I sprayed some of this awesomeness on, and when he came in the door that night he asked me, "Oh are you wearing the 'honeymoon' perfume, that's my favorite on you!"  I figured since he liked it so much too, it was worthy of my five favorites.  Yes this is a pricey scent (just look it is made by!) but I used my tax returns from last year to get it.  How to describe the scent?? A spring time sweetness with a hint of Grace Kelly-ness...not too bad, huh? ;-)
This fancy gadget. Lady Comp....our fertility monitor.
And for curious minds, the thermometer goes only in your mouth.  When Jim first saw it when we bought this, he was shall we say 'concerned' about where the thermometer went.
When Jim and I got engaged we knew birth control was not going to be in the picture for a lot of reasons, and decided to sign up for Natural Family Planning Classes (those not familiar with NFP, its a way to know when your body is fertile/unfertile by monitoring your basal temperature and TMI alert...fertile mucus.  Yay no carcinogens!).  After our first 2 NFP classes, I started tracking my temp and monitoring my fertile mucus.  However, it was terribly hard and frustrating for me.  I would get upset and frustrated at myself that I couldn't seem to 'read' the signals of my own body.  We off course were going to be open to life when we got married, but through a lot of prayer and discernment realized that with both of us going to be in grad school and Jim not working right away, so for our family it was best to really know the ins and outs of NFP. 
I started talking to married friends.  And one of them introduced me to Lady Comp.  It is a VERY accurate fertility monitor that works on your temperature alone...no mucus checking, yay!  After you take your temp each morning one of three different colored lights comes on: red=you're fertile, abstain (unless you want to try and have a baby), green=infertile, no more abstaining, yay for that!, or yellow=the machine is still learning your body/cycle (which happens in the beginning as you start using the machine).  The level of my frustration with my body before we got married was very high, and I was concerned when we were married that I wouldn't be able to read the signs properly.  So we decided to purchase Lady Comp last winter, well before our June wedding.
It has been a great tool for us!  I still chart and semi keep track of fertile mucus.  So armed together with all our NFP knowledge from the classes and Lady Comp, we are doing much better at this.  And Lady Comp is totally natural so you're not putting the bad stuff of birth control into your body.
If you are interested in more on Lady Comp, let me know!  My sister who is also getting married, just got her own; and while at a youth ministry conference last summer I was telling all the newly marrieds/engaged gals about it.
These bad boys!

Since college, I've kept off a good amount of weight from Weight Watchers.  Granted I have went over my desired weight since our wedding (yes almost a year ago)...but I'm slowly working at that.  I found these at Kroger's recently and they are dee-lic! tasty and only 2 points per bar!
Just make sure you don't eat 3 or 4 at time...like I did the first time!
This devotional book.
If you haven't heard of Ann Voskamp, check out her blog www.aholyexperience.com or her book 'One Thousand Gifts'...an amazing woman of God reminding us all of the beauty of gratefulness.

That's all for me...be sure to check out Hallie at www.moxiewife.com
Oh and don't forget its STILL the octave of Easter (which means we have 8 days to celebrate how awesome our God is...not to mention the Easter season is 50 days long)!

01 April 2013

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter! Christos Anesti!

With all the extra special liturgies during Holy Week, Jim and I have spent extra time at church striving to really enter into the meaning of what Jesus' suffering/death/resurrection means for us and not to take it for granted.  Being that there were no 'Friday Quick Takes with Jen, I'll do a re-cap of what Easter Weekend looked like for our family.

Thursday evening we attended Mass at the church I work at it.  Holy Thursday commemorates two really special things for Catholics: the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood.  It is also so beautiful because after the homily, the priest washes the feet of 12 men/women from the congregation to symbolize when Jesus washed the 12 apostles feet at the Last Supper; this serves as a vivid, tangible reminder to all of us that we are called to servants to each other.  Pope Francis did something similar and unique this year too on Holy Thursday.  After Mass, the Eucharist is carried to a separate chapel called the 'altar of repose.' It is decorated beautifully with flowers and here people come and pray till midnight to remember/be present with Jesus during his great agony in the garden of Gethsemane.  There is a procession of the whole church to the altar of repose with singing and prayers.  The liturgy ends in a very somber sense, because we all know what suffering Jesus is preparing to endure for us all.  Jim and I stayed for a bit and helped 'keep watch and pray' with Jesus. 

Good Friday was kind of a quiet morning for us.  Jim watched the Passion of the Christ on Netflix.  I came in during the scene of nailing Jesus to the cross. so. hard. to. watch.  The scene that always makes me stop and think is when you see the solider put the nail into Jesus' hand and begins nailing him to the cross; that's what my sin did to Jesus. 
Good Friday is the only day of the year there is no Mass.  We arrived at church about 2:00pm.  Everything is empty and barren.  Holy pictures are covered and it is a very stark contrast to the usual beauty of the church on a given Sunday.  At 2:30pm, the priest led us all in the Stations of the Cross which are prayerful reflections that help us focus and meditate on Jesus carrying the cross and his death: from his being condemned to death to being laid in the tomb.  At 3pm the liturgy of Good Friday begins.  We have readings from Scripture, a reading of the passion account from on of the four Gospel's, and a homily.  The priest that gave the homily spoke about one the seven last words of Christ, but specifically on the first set, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" Luke 23:34).  He spoke of the importance of Christians knowing what REAL forgiveness looks like, which we see in the example of Jesus...how its not right to hold grudges (yikes, I can be a 'grudge holder' at times).  And this one sentence of the priest's words that really struck me: "If the cross is the cure of our sins, then what do our sins really look like??"  wow. 
After that is the veneration of the Cross; where people come up and kiss/bow/genuflect before a large crucifix.  That is the most emotional thing of the whole liturgy for me.  Seeing all of these people come up and show Jesus their love for him, for what he did for us.  There was a little girl with her Dad sitting behind us who I overheard say to her Dad, "Daddy why are they doing that?"  Her Dad responded "Because they want to kiss Jesus' boo-boo's and make him feel better."  And that summed up what Good Friday is I thought quite well: we come to church to show our love for Jesus, kiss his boo-boo's from his suffering, and make him feel better.

Saturday was a quiet day, we both slept in which was thoroughly enjoyable.  I went to town and did some major organizing/cleaning in our apartment.  I went through my side of the closet and the dresser: tried on all my clothes, organized by the seasons/outfit pieces, and went through all my scarves and shoes.  I have 2 bags of clothes/shoes to donate to Salvation Army.  I was pleasantly surprised that most things fit pretty well still.  There were a couple pairs of dress pants and summer dresses that were too tight, so I have some extra motivation to stick to my Weight Watcher points!  Then I cleaned out the fridge. really. well. It was smelly and I figured since I couldn't tell what the yellow stain was in the meat drawer it was as good a time as any.  After a load of dishes and laundry, I decided to sit down and watch the footage of the Easter Vigil with Pope Francis.  We had been going back and forth all day Saturday whether to go to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night or wait to get up early for church on Sunday. 

We ended up going to the Easter Vigil at 8:30pm and I'm so. glad. we. did!  The Easter Vigil is the like the par-excellence of liturgies.  It is the night the Catholic Church officially welcomes in new members into the community through Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist.  SUCH an exciting night for a Catholic nerd  like myself...but it's also a very long night too, Mass didn't end till midnight (I mean when you have 56 people entering the Church, it's bound to be a long night)!  We start in total darkness in the church.  And then the priest comes in with a big candle symbolizing Jesus as the light of the world.  We all have candles that are lit from that Easter candle.  It's so beautiful just with the candlelight and music.  There are extra readings during Mass that start from beginning in Genesis, through Exodus and the prophets, all to show us and remind us that throughout salvation history God has been calling us back to him and preparing us for the coming of Jesus.
It's so amazing watch people get baptized; to make public profession that they believe all the Catholic Church teaches and professes, that they want to more fully united with Jesus.  Watching all these men, women, and children be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit more deeply through Confirmation, and receive the living Jesus in the Eucharist...at one point I leaned over and whispered, "I know we have been raised Catholic, but geez, this is so cool, I almost wish we could do this too!"  He smiled and agreed with me.  Honestly, it felt like a wee glimpse of what Heaven will be like.  We were both on a Jesus high that night just so thankful to be Catholic and to help welcome and celebrate these new members of the Church. 
As we were leaving Mass, I got this little book of awesomeness.

The parish we went to was passing out these "Mass journals" to folks leaving.  It's a journal to take with you to Mass on Sunday or during the week to record any insights from the homily/Scripture/how you felt God speak to you during the liturgy...just a way to help people better enter in at Mass, remembering that we aren't going there to perform some 'empty' ritual but rather to meet Jesus...the same who walked this earth, suffered/died on the cross, and rose in glory.  I'm all about free stuff...and especially if its from church!?!? heck. yeah.
Yay church presents!


Easter Sunday we slept in. till noon.  Don't judge us, we were up late the night before at church.  We had lunch with my side of the family at a fancy seafood restaurant overlooking the Detroit River (not that the Detroit River is anything to write home about, but still fun nonetheless:).  It was great seeing everybody, and Jim and I even had time to go blow some bubbles outside and have my sis snap a few shots of us.

Afterwards we headed over to spend dinner with Jim's side of the family.  I was so stuffed from all the yumminess still from lunch but managed to have a bit of ham and 'somehow' made room for a few pecan clusters.  We came tummies full, and hearts happy of all that we celebrated with family today and what we as our own little family have been preparing for during this Lent and Holy Week.

And don't forget Easter is NOT just a 1 day kind of celebration!  Easter is 8 days long (an octave)...so go keep celebrating how awesomely cool our God is! :)
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