26 February 2014

7 Signs of a Youth Ministry Office....

Wowzers. day 3 of 7 and I'm still going strong...
Do you ever come up with blog ideas while you're rolling around trying to fall asleep??  That was me last night very early this morning.  So all that early morning brainstorming led to the following....
 ...Or perhaps it should be titled "the quirky things that set aside my office from other youth minister's"...

1. Evidence laying around of a minor love affair with caffeine.  Come.on.  I'll bet even Mother Teresa had her share of days a swig of Diet Coke would have helped with that 4:30am wake up.

2. Totally random things on bookshelves like 5 containers of shaving cream.  Have you ever played throw the Cheetos's onto a person's head with shaving cream to make them stick? No, never?  Gasp.  Well you haven't lived until playing that with teens:)

3. Large posters that serve as good reminders of why I do what I do and why it really is important. Or just remind me of how we used to hand out hugs after church sometimes.

4. A random sampling of some of the fine cuisine I provide and sometimes eat myself.  What could be more nutritiously delicious than ring pops, mandarin oranges, and candy?!

5. After your healthy lunch of oranges and mini Snicker's, let your mouth enjoy the crisp, minty freshness of an Jesus mint.
And if you didn't get your morning Scripture reading, not to worry! You get a dose of Scripture in the wrapper!

6. In the youth ministry office, there may likely be memento's from special pilgrimages or mission trips.  This full length flag of Lebanon I got in Brazil is one such memento for me.  I feel all international and fancy shmancy with it hanging up.

7. One thing that defines my wee office is my 'nuns having fun' poster.  It is often a conversation starter for folks that stop by my neck o' the woods, and it always brings a smile and a chuckle or two.  Nuns can be fun:)

25 February 2014

{God and the Girl}

Day 2 of 7 posts in 7 days continues...this one has been sitting in the draft folder for a bit, and is a slightly recycled-updated version of a faith based link-up.

9.9.85 I made my grand ex utero debut into the world.  On October 13, I was baptized and became a child of God...and so began our relationship.

I grew up in a pretty awesome family; we had a Norman Rockwell upbringing.  My Mom and Dad are my hero's in life.  for.realz.  They worked and prayed hard, loved each other and us kiddo's something fierce.  Mom and Dad are definitely a great example of how to not only survive marriage and parenting, but thrive.  I am the oldest of three kids.  Out of the three of us, I definitely had the tendency to be the little sass-pot of the bunch...with a mixture of bossiness thrown in for good measure.  You know its bad when you have a game you play with your younger sister where I'm the Queen of England (sorry British folks!) and she is my slave who has to polish my shoes...sorry sis!

My parents still live in the same house us kids grew up in, and it was really the only home I've known until I got married.  As I have gotten older, I appreciate my family so much more, especially as I have learned that so many people have not been as blessed as I have with a rock-solid, loving family.  We can be a crazy, loud bunch at times, but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Jesus and the church thing was a part of our lives: we prayed grace before meals (yes even in public-yup, we were that family:), said bedtime prayers, went to Mass every Sunday as a family...you get the idea.  As a little girl looking back, I had a very strong faith from what I vaguely remember and from my parents telling me.  I was OBSESSED with Mother Teresa and my favorite Native American 'princess', St. Kateri.

I still remember watching these early documentaries of her in India, my Mom was worried about me watching graphic images of emaciated children and adults, but it never phased me, but rather inspired lots of questions from me (so I'm told).  As much as I loved playing dress up and princesses, I equally enjoyed playing "Blessed Mother";give me a baby burp rag or blanket and I was happily pretending to be the mother of Jesus.  I liked to blow Jesus kisses at church and walked around with my kiddy rosary as if it were the latest fashion accessory for a three year old little girl. 

All simple expressions of what was a child-like faith that was lovingly instilled in me through the witness of my parents.
But you know what?  You cannot always just have the faith of your parents; you have to make it your own, personalize it, and know why you personally believe what you do.  Not just go to church because your parents "said so" or because its fire insurance so you don't go to Hell.

My siblings and I grew up going to Catholic schools, which at the time I certainly don't think I appreciated the great sacrifices my parents made to give us a Christ-centered education.  I remember my Dad saying to me once he would take a second job bagging groceries if he had too, so he and Mom could afford to send us to a school that instilled our faith in education.  I actually went to Catholic schools my whole life, Kindergarten-grad school.

As I got older I definitely took for granted the gift of faith instilled in my heart as a young child.  Sure I knew the 10 Commandments by heart and how to pray the rosary, but there was not a very deep personal relationship with Jesus. Just a bunch of "stuff" I did because my parents expected it and I didn't really no anything different. 

I have this distinct memory of me as a junior high student standing at Sunday Mass praying reciting the Apostle's Creed.  It was just a bunch of words to me, and I was more focused on hoping that the leftover cherry pie from dinner the night before was still in the fridge for an after-church-snack.  Clearly these powerful words which thousands of Christians died for (and still to around the world today!) meant nothing to me personally.

I was confirmed in the 8th grade.  Honestly what I remember most were two things: how excited I was for the party after the ceremony at church, and also that the bishop who confirmed me almost caught himself on fire during the middle of his sermon.  Talk about tongues of fire!

I tried out the Youth Group at our church in high school.  I went two years but never really found my niche or comfortable around any of the teens that went.  I remember wanting to fit in so badly and feel like I was a part of the group, but I never made a deep, lasting connection with anyone there...and looking back I realized I was searching for something deeper and more meaningful that what I seemed to find there.

My junior year of high school till I graduated was a really rough time for me. I was very unhappy emotionally and struggled with anxiety.  I was confused, unhappy, and horribly sad, but I couldn't explain it.  I started to get help, which helped me work through and sort out things.  When it was really bad, I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, "Geez I should get an Oscar for the performance I give every day!"  On the outside I was the happy, smiling kid I had always been but the inside I felt so alone and unhappy.  I didn't understand, which eventually led my to turn my anger and frustration onto God.  If He loved me, why the heck was I suffering this way?!  If God is a good God, why would he let me feel such pain on the inside?! 

I was just so frustrated emotionally and spiritually, I felt like there were not many places to turn to.  It was draining and exhausting to just live life.  Looking back, I see how God allowed those experiences help me deal with other things that would come up in my life, and how to handle them with courage and expectant faith.

Randomly one evening I asked my Dad to take me to this chapel where the Eucharist was exposed 24 hours a day and people come and prayer and spend time with Jesus.  So after that first time, my Dad and I would start to have our "Date Nights with Jesus" about once a week in the evening.  In the fall, I started college and continued to go myself.  I really enjoyed just going being quiet with the Lord, journaling, or just telling Him in my heart all I was feeling and going through.

One afternoon I was in the chapel all alone.  I was crying. A LOT (we're talking ugly cry here folks...you know when the mascara runs down your face). I was mad at God and just dumping it all on him; the misery, pain, confusion, hurt.

I basically yelled at Jesus and may have did use some rather coarse language (hey, he can take it right? ;-) "Jesus if you are real and really are in that little piece of bread, then you need to come help me!  You need to heal me because I don't love myself and just want to give up...I don't know what my purpose is or why you even have put me here."

And in that moment, I KNEW God heard that prayer.  I felt it in my heart.  I knew Jesus was real, that he really was present in the Eucharist, and that he was with me in those moments as I just poured out my heart to him.  And somewhere, deep inside my soul, I felt that that was the first really true heart-felt prayer of my life.

I didn't hear an audible voice.  An angel from Heaven didn't descend form the sky, but I just KNEW God showed up that day in the chapel with me, just as every time I pray he shows up whether I feel Him near me or not.  But looking back over my life, that was a turning point for me in my faith; and I consider that prayer the first real, heartfelt prayer of my life.

Of course I am NOT trying to say one can "pray away" anxiety or emotional problems.  I still have to be more aware of situations that cause me to be overly anxious.  But my Catholic faith has strengthened me, its where I find my peace, joy, my identity, and purpose in life.  It keeps me going.  Growing in my faith and having a personal relationship with Jesus has definitely helped me as I work through issues in my own life.

From that one experience in the chapel, just sparked such a deep desire to know who Jesus was for me, Patty.  To understand the Catholic faith, not because my parents made me, but because I wanted to for myself.  I wanted to be a Catholic Christian because I wanted too (looks like the grace of my Confirmation finally kicked in! ;)

I became involved in Bible studies, young adult groups, volunteered, and went on mission trips/pilgrimages; all that helped nurture a budding new faith in me.  I learned how to be still with the Lord, but also how to pray and why it really is as important as eating every day.  I studied, prayed, read, and reflected my way to re-discover what I always had, but just took it for granted.  I wanted to really know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. 

I dove into the Scriptures head first, almost shocked at how much application and relevance there was for me in my own life.  For me, I re-discovered the faith that my parents had me baptized in.  Sure I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, and still have a ways to go to Heaven, but I wouldn't change it.

I'm VERY much still a work in progress; but I strive to keep my eyes fixed on Christ.  I am grateful  I have come to re-discover and appreciate the faith of my childhood.  I've made it my own, its no longer just the faith of my parents.  And sure since then, there have been times of sorrow and pain. 
Even now in my life as a 'somewhat' newly married wife, God is really doing some major purification in the lives of both my husband and I.  Some days I hate it and it royally sucks...but I have to believe do believe this is all part of God's crazy, awesome, beautiful plan to heal and use us both for some important mission. 

And my no means are God and this girl's story finished yet!  I will be learning.growing.making plenty more mistakes. until the day I take my last breath.  I may have never officially "quit on Jesus", but I am blown away how much God can use any situation in our lives to teach.humble.draw us closer to Him.

The journey is not over yet...the Shepherd has this little lamb caught in his flock, and oh what a wonderful place it is to be.

24 February 2014

Fruit+Dessert = Frui-ssert

...or also know as Blueberry-Strawberry Crumble Crisp
I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I'm deciding to take Jen up on her challenge of 7 posts in 7 days.  It's highly likely by Wednesday I'll be starring at the computer with zip to say.  But hey, if I go down, I'm gonna go down with a fight ;)

In my head, I NEVER considered any dessert with fruit worthy of my taste or time...I'm kinda a dessert snob.  Fruit in dessert just seemed so...off?  BUT I have always been a fan of warm, hot pie...so today I decided to share this tasty frui-ssert I whipped up this afternoon.

 2 spray(s) cooking spray
1 carton of strawberries, sliced
1 cup of blueberries
3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp whole wheat flour
6 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp table salt
1 large egg white
 4 Tbsp butter, melted

 1// Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray

2// In a small bowl, gently toss strawberries with brown sugar until the sugar starts to dissolve; spoon the fruit into baking pan

3// In another small bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt; add egg white and mix it all together with your fingers

4// Drop clumps of the mixture over fruit; drizzle melted butter over the mixture

5// Bake until fruit starts to bubble, about 20-25 minutes

6// Serve warm with a cold glass of milk

18 February 2014

Chicken Spinach Cresecent Ring

Yesterday evening I hosted the ladies of my small group at our apartment.  I love getting together with the five of them to share our lives, laugh, pray, and grow in faith together.

I wanted a quick appetizer so we had something to munch while catching up.  I had an extra package of crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to use them to make chicken spinach roll-ups.  really easy. very tasty.

 1 can reduced-fat Pilsbury crescent rolls
5 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup baby spinach
5 oz. cooked grilled chicken strips
3 sticks of lite Sargento string cheese

1// Place crescent rolls with points out to edge and create a circle.  Then spread the cream cheese on the crescent rolls

 2// I threw on a little parsley and rosemary flakes on top of the cream cheese...nothing like a little spice in cooking ;)

3// Sprinkle the chopped up spinach on top of the cream cheese and spices.  Next, evenly spread grilled chicken on top of the spinach

4// Separate the 3 pieces of string cheese and lay them on top of the crescent roll.  Pull up points of the crescent rolls and wrap around ingredients.  Tuck the tips under the top of the roll.

5// Bake at 375 for 14 minutes

Chow down while its still fresh from the oven...something about warm rolls stuffed with tasty goodness that just make my heart swoon in a foodie kind of way.

Happy snacking!

15 February 2014

Batman, Bonhoeffer, & Dove Chocolate

My seven randoms of the past week...visit professional scorpion killer and author Jen for more quick takery!

1.  Last Sunday, after I came home from youth group Jim and I decided to do something random n' fun.  But it turns out at 10:45pm on a Sunday night there's not much out at the movie theater.  Jim decided to build a fort in the living room and we hunkered down amid pillows/blankets to watch "The Dark Knight Rises".  It was great movie, but it would have helped if a) I saw the movie before this one and 2) if we didn't have to hit pause every 20 minutes so I could ask clarifying questions.

2.  This week I started a really great new biography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; a Lutheran pastor who was active in resistance against the Nazi's and part of plans to assassinate Hitler. Dietrich spoke out against the atrocities going on when many Christian pastors did not.

Don't let the thickness of the book scare you!  Its a fascinating story of one Christian man who stood up fearlessly to the face of great evil; even to the point of martyrdom. 
3.  Jim works a close shift on Valentine's Day.  My plan is to watch the Olympics, cook some chicken n' dumplings in the crock-pot, and fold laundry.  Tomorrow night we'll go do something...although the day did start off with a nice surprise of breakfast in bed; the best fresh grapefruit and trail mix I ever did taste:)

4.  Just a lesson in Dove chocolate philosophy...

5.  I'm excited to do some baking this weekend and over next week; especially with Jim working close shifts it gives me motivation to try some new things.  In the works are red velvet cheesecake cupcakes and blue-strawberry crumble cake.

6.  Last Sunday our youth group meeting was on pornography.  WOW. It was really awesome in terms of how the teens responded.  I was blown away and so proud of teens who put themselves out there to share their own personal experience of struggling and working to eliminate this behavior in their life.  It was one of those heavy hitter nights, but I loved the hopeful note we ended on with a quote from Pope John Paul II: "You are not the sum of your weaknesses and failures, but the sum of God's love for you."  I couldn't thing of a more hopeful message to end on.

7.  Because of the all this crazy polar vortex nonsense, we've actually started to get small leaks in the walls and ceiling right by our sliding door to the patio.  Oh and on the top of that, the drywall right by the sliding door is peeling off and water is soaking through.  Unfortunately, the maintenance crew cannot do anything until the weather changes and snow starts to melt.  So for all you lovely people who are praying for more of this winter insanity, please stop.  Cause I'm running out of buckets to collect the water leaks, and I wouldn't mind having the dry wall fixed soon.
If you can spare any extra bucket, hit me up.

10 February 2014

Why Monday's are my Friday

For some people, Monday evokes a variety of pent up feelings and emotions.

Poor Alice ...

                            ... Or perhaps Monday evokes this sense of can crushing unpleasantness?

... Or perhaps Monday just leaves you be-fuzzled like Tim?

For me, this is probably my most common reaction to Monday...
....it catches me by surprise...makes me happy...excited...

For one thing Monday is my day off.  With Youth Group on Sunday nights and sometimes youth goings on over the weekend, life can get busy.fast.  So Monday is my "sabbath" if you will; my day to rest, relax, and do some self-care.
But the real reason that Monday has become my new Friday is my Mom.  

Shortly after I got married, I realized how in little ways I just missed my parents; seeing them everyday or having a good chat with my Mom.  I lived at home with them until I got married and never went away to college, so in a sense they were always around.  
When I got married I was really surprised how easy the transition was for me to make in moving out of their house into my new home with my husband.  I am so glad they live only 10 minutes away, but still regular family time with the original parental units gets tougher as you grow up and move out.

So Momsy and I decided every other Monday to have a standing lunch date together.  I swing by to pick up her up in my yellow 11 year old car and we're off to either to a Coney place or Panera.  It is so fun because we both joke how much we look forward to it every other Monday.   Even some of the nurses she works with ask on Monday's is this a day we go out together:)

It is so good to just catch up, swap recipes, joke around, pray with each other, and of course it definitely helps that food is involved.  My Mom is a rock for me; one of those people that just anchor's me in life.  She is a great sounding board and I can tell her anything...not to mention the woman is a freaking prayer warrior. for real.  You need prayers? Get She-She (our nick-name for her:) on the job!

Mom and I have always had a pretty good relationship, (minus some of those sassy years-give or take 10 years ;) but as I have gotten older and since getting married, I really do appreciate her all the more; especially when I know many other people were not as blessed with the person they call Mom in their life.

I love that we can spend time like this together and cherish it so much.  
Thanks Momsy, for making Monday's the new Friday for me! :)

06 February 2014

What's in a name?

I don't know about you, but naming a blog is tough.  Well, at least has been tough stuff for me.

When I first began blogging, I just threw together a name {The Happy Hubbards} and used one of those free templates from Blogger.  As I continued to read blogs that I loved, I realized that there was something unique about each of their blog names.  It wasn't just randomly chosen, but it reflected something unique, beautiful about their life.story.mission.identity.their purpose in life.  And that got me thinking, about really choosing a name (again:) that really says something about who Patty is as a rare, unique person.

Over the summer, I had some help from a bloggy pal who helped me work through some helpful steps and tools to identify what blogging is to me, why I do it, and choose a name that reflects who I am.  Then with the help of this crafty lady, I had some work done.

So why 'A Modern Grace'?

Growing up, I loved old movies. like. a lot. My family can all attest to this.  There was something so glamorous about old-world Hollywood actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.  They carried themselves in a way and dressed with such elegance, that spoke deep down to that girly-girl part inside of me.  I especially had a thing for Grace Kelly; her glamour, sophistication, and impeccable taste in fashion.

I even carried a picture of her wedding gown when I was dress shopping for our wedding because I wanted something with lace and that felt "Grace-Kelly-ish". She was a wonderful actress and movies she starred in are some of my favorites to this day...seriously.  If you haven't seen Dial M for Murder or Rear Window, you need to watch them:)

No. I certainly do not claim to be the next Princess Grace of Monaco (yup she married a real life prince too!?), but her elegance and style are something that inspire me today.  And so 'A Modern Grace' reflects my love of all things elegant and classy that remind me of her.

'A Modern Grace' also reflects the need for another kind of grace in my life.  Its great to be a classy, elegant kind o' woman, but if I don't have a strong dose of "Jesus grace" alive n' well in me, then everything else is in vain.  I need God's grace to be the woman, daughter, sister, and friend He wants me to be.  I need grace to live this one unique.beautiful.crazy.hard. life well and in a way that (hopefully) points others to Christ.  And wowzers, do I need grace to help me do that:)
So grace for me has a two-fold meaning: elegance yes, but more importantly, divine grace.

I like to hope this little place can speak to all that is elegant and beautiful in life as I strive to live with grace, class, and when needed, some sass:)
So that's what behind my blog name...what about yours?

03 February 2014

Dear Rolling Stones, please don't compare Pope Francis to Bill Clinton.

It really only seems to be a matter of time before Pope Francis makes another front page of a magazine. 

Most recently, my favorite Jesuit landed on the cover of The Rolling Stones with the somewhat misleading title, "Pope Francis:The Times They Are A-Changin'".

And while I can try to appreciate what Mr. Binelli and the magazine editors were trying to accomplish with this piece, I hate to break it to you folks...but y'all kinda missed the mark.

Dear Mr. Binelli and friends,

I am really glad you like our baby-kissing, selfie taking Pope Francis. 

But to speak SO negatively of Pope Benedict is not very kind. Or dare I say, very Christ-like.

Benedict was not a "disastrous" Pope (as you mentioned in the article).  And the minute you say he was a "staunch traditionalist" to me implies that you folks seem to think Francis is a more "liberal" Pope, which is needed to move and shake things up in the Catholic Church. Because of course the Church should change herself to keep up up with modern culture.

I really don't like terms that label people by their political ideas, because deep down I think all of our identity comes from something much deeper then whether you are a Democrat or Republican. In defining each of these men by political ideals, does a great disservice to each of them in in their unique gifts to the Church. Benedict had certain gifts such as his theological insights AND not to mention the great humility it took for him to resign when he knew he was no longer able carry out his mission as pontiff. And Francis has unique, wonderful gifts to offer the world also.
But let's not go comparing the two of them.

Pope Francis and Pope Benedict are on the same team. The way you speak about Benedict as if he was the anti-Christ. back.off.

To me it seems, you are really enjoying tearing into him with great ease. And though Mr. Binelli you and the editors who put together this story for the Rolling Stones, may personally not care for Benedict, leave your bias at home.
It shows right through your writing. 

And yes, I think what Pope Francis said about how who is he to judge a gay person genuinely seeking after God is a great statement. We shouldn't judge anyone.

What I see as important, is that the Catholic Church is not that the Church is obsessed with gay marriage, but the Church needs use be very intentional in language and context when discussing this topic. There needs to be a more intentional and pastoral way to talk about homosexuality, which I think where Francis is challenging folks with these open, pastoral words of his. 

Pope Francis is not a conservative nor a liberal. He is a Christian who striving to set an example of Christ to the world.

Please don't compare Pope Francis to Bill Clinton...he is actually not the Barack Obama of the Vatican (per Kyle Smith ).

{end rant}

P.S.  Ecumenicalism is not really a used word...I believe you are referring to ecumenism

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