Sunday, February 19, 2017

Christ Did Not Say this Call was Easy...(BIS and NCRegister Posts)

Today is my devotion day over at Blessed is She. When I wrote this devotion about making sacrifices and the challenge of living out the Gospel in our daily lives, I did not know that would have also written about a very challenging application of it in loving our enemy and those in need at the Register this week.

I am seeing that what it comes down to is radical love and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Here are the posts and links to them:
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The Temple of God

Every moment of even the slightest suffering that we bear, we can unite to His One Sacrifice. We can choose in our daily lives to habitually participate in Christ’s One Sacrifice, and through His suffering our suffering can bring grace into our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. For we are temples of God, and as temples, we are a place of sacrifice.

In the Gospel today Christ asks of us some very hard things: turn the other cheek, give away your cloak, go the extra mile, give to the one who asks of you, and love your enemies. These decisions are sacrifices. These choices unite us to Christ...

https://blessedisshe.net/the-temple-of-god/?mc_cid=8f13b8ffd9&mc_eid=e8f0452374&v=7516fd43adaa

I think about the kind of nation I would want my children to live in, and while I would love for them to have peace and prosperity, I worry more about their immortal souls than whether or not they will be persecuted. I know that they will be. There is no denying that. Christ told us so: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Christian has always been persecuted. The model of radical love is one that I want them to follow rather than that of cowering in fear behind the secure borders of our country.

It is time to overcome our fears and meet those different from us with radical charity, so that we might hope to be among the righteous.

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:37-40)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How I Find Time to Exercise as a Mom


6 week old G napping in the jogger at Delaware Park in Buffalo, NY.
Yesterday, for the first time since something like 2011, I ran 3 miles straight. The last time was between babies number 2 and 3. I had trained for a 5k mud-run, and it was quite fun. I have been running regularly whenever my childbearing has allowed me to, but I have never extended my mileage up to three miles again until now. So, I had to blog about it. Because it is very exciting for me to hit a "mile"stone like that. I would have gotten here sooner had it not been for my concussion last February which set me back to zero miles.

I am what I call an extremely casual runner. I am not fast (11 minute miles give or take), and I run about three times a week on a limited amount of time. I have to fit my exercise and shower into about 90 minutes, so I only have so long to run for. Actually, I am a little obsessive about running at least three times a week (and showering three times a week accordingly).

I became a runner in college after three things happened: my asthma was properly diagnosed, I had good orthotics for my flat feet, and my sister who was in physical therapy school at the time trained me how to run "correctly". All of the factors explained why I hated sports like soccer when I was in elementary school or "the mile" we ran each school year. It was torture on my feet and ankles. Yet, I persisted to learn how to run, mostly for the sake of being healthy.

I like running as exercise because it requires very little equipment, I can do it alone, I don't have to go to a gym, I can fit it into my daily life, and it helps my postpartum body discover its former shape (in as much as it is able).

I also dislike running. It is a struggle to get through my runs, one could say it is a mortification. I count down the minutes and count up the miles throughout it. I find it pleasurable during the first four minutes or so, and awful after that. Though sometimes I get to the end of my planned running time and feel good enough to go an extra minute or two, so I do. And that is how I increase my miles. But I always feel good after I have done it, so I continue to push myself to do it.

I started to fit regular exercise into my life at the end of high school and during the beginning of college. I decided on how many times a week I was going to do it, planned when I was going to do it and stuck to it. In college I often would wake up for 6:30am Mass, exercise, shower, and then go to breakfast. That routine worked really well for sticking with it. Once I became a mother, I had to adjust things.

After G (my first) was born, since I already had a habit of regular exercise, I got back into it at about 6 weeks postpartum. I had a jogging stroller and that was one of regular activities together. Having two babies through a wrench in my system. I did not want to jog with two, so the professor and I created a system of me going out for runs during the kids afternoon nap time. And we have had they system ever since. Nap times for all but the baby are nonexistent, but the older ones take a quiet time during the baby's nap. So, with the professor available, on days he does not work on campus, for all of the children's urgent needs, I can take 90 minutes in the afternoon to run and shower. They play and he works. That has been our system for 6 years now, and a very good one I might add. 

The main thing that has kept me exercising has been to make a plan and stick with it, and not checking the internet when I am supposed to be exercising. Every semester, the professor and I talk over his schedule. He tells me what days that he will be on campus, and then we plan when I am going to exercise. Some semesters I run on Mon, Wed, Fri. In others it is Tues, Thurs, and Sat. With my three times a week schedule, I also have plenty of physical energy for whatever outings, walks, and games the kids want to play as well.

And now for my confession: two things that keep me motivated to run are 1) my treadmill and 2) audiobooks. I used to run outside all types of weather, but I hated planning my routes and running in public. I am more introverted than extroverted, so I like to just go and run and be alone. The treadmill solves that problem. I will run outside in a pinch, and I do enjoy it when I do, but it is often easier for us, for me just to run at home... plus, hot Minnesota summers and cold Minnesota winters make it easier to stay inside. I love our local library's subscription to an audiobook app. I can borrow audiobooks through the free app and listen to novel after novel while I run. I "read" Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles last year, and am currently on a George Elliot kick. It is a great break for me to run and read at the same time. My mother used to demand I stop reading to play outside in the summer, and now I read and get my exercise at the same time!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Blogger Conference, Gluten, and more Gluten

1. In case you have not heard, or just forgot, or are still thinking about it, registration for the Midwest Catholic Women's Blogger Network conference is still open until March 11. The conference is in St. Paul, MN on March 25 with awesome bloggers speaking, such as Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas, Nell Alt of Whole Parenting Family, and Laura Kelly Fanucci, published author and blogger at Mothering Spirit. The link will take you to the conference Facebook page, on which you can find information about registration!


2. It has been a couple of months since I wrote quick takes. The family has all been well, just living life, enjoying an extended Christmas season. We make a point to celebrate all the way until Candlemas/The Presentation of Our Lord. This year I have really been able to relax with the season, as I wrote about for the Register yesterday. We *only* traveled to see family for 12 days over Christmas this year, and it was just the right amount of time to visit with family and friends back at our homes and not go too crazy being on the road. Because of that we had over three full weeks to get back into the swing of things before the professor started the spring semester. We also managed to get our winter stomach flu after the New Year instead of before Christmas this year, which was kind of the flu if one can call the flu kind.
3. One of my Christmas gifts this year was a pasta roller from my mother-in-law. At the beginning o my marriage, when I was homesick for St. Louis, I endeavored to make homemade toasted ravioli, and it took FOREVER to roll out that pasta dough. Now, it is easy peasy. We have been having a lot of homemade pasta. I really need to not push myself, and be okay with using the dried store-bought stuff when time is tight or it is supposed to be a "quick" dinner prep. Anyway, the fresh pasta is really good. The professor gave me the best compliment the day after my first attempt saying, "It is just like eating leftover restaurant pasta!"
4. We have been joking lately that we are anti-trendy-diets, because last weekend we actually bought GLUTEN by itself. We made our first attempt at Ezekiel Bread, and one of the ingredients was plain old gluten. The reason for needing it was that whole wheat flour has a low gluten content, so you have to ADD SOME to help the bread hold itself together. Plus, for those of us who can eat gluten, it really tastes incredible when prepared well. I have gluten-ridden pizza dough rising right now as I type.
wheat, barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt in a single vessel...
5. Ezekiel Bread is based on the bread that God had the prophet Ezekiel make and eat in the Old Testament:
And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt, and put them into a single vessel, and make bread of them. During the number of days that you lie upon your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it.-Ezekiel 4:9

We went for the first time to our local co-op grocery (we take awhile to try new things) with all of the kids, and found all of our grains and the gluten in the bulk section. The professor and I worked on the bread all day, though most of it was waiting for things to rise and what not. This was my second attempt at homemade (not bread-machine) sandwhich bread. While it was really delicious, I think that I did not let it rise enough in the pans, because my bread was not nearly as tall as that of the blogger's whose recipe I used.  So, we are going to try it again.  

6. I have a really picky eater in the house these days. Mr. T will only eat what he likes and will gag if you put anything he does not want to eat into his mouth. But he also likes the strangest things. His current obsession is with GrapeNuts. He eats (small) two bowls for breakfast everyday, and sometimes again after nap. However, since that cereal is packed with gluten and vitamins, I feel quite happy to give him however much he wants.
7. I leave you with a book recommendation: Silas Marner by George Eliot. I have read her Middlemarch and quite liked it, but I really loved Silas Marner. Maybe I just liked the simplicity of the main character, but I also really liked how Eliot demonstrated through her characters how to love one really is to will and act for their good. It is short as far as novels go. So, check it out, if you like a good novel. *links are Amazon affiliate links*

I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

NCRegister: How to Post-Chrismas Like a Boss with the Blessed Mother

The expression “to post-partum like a boss” is used a lot in the Catholic mom blogging sphere, and is used to emphasize the importance of a mother giving herself time to rest and recover from delivering a baby. The physical recovery after birthing a baby is long, lasting many weeks and, for some women, months. When a mom is able to post-partum like a boss, she can take time to recover while caring for her baby. She spends her days and nights sleeping, eating, feeding, changing diapers, and soaking that newborn in. This time does not suddenly come to an end, but she eases slowly from her life of complete devotion to that baby back into the daily routine required of her full vocation. But the initial couple of weeks ideally give her time to recover and fall in love with her new baby.

One of the things I love about the old, traditional liturgical calendar is the season after Epiphany. Instead of jumping back into Ordinary Time two weeks after Christmas, it gives one a longer time to linger with the Mother and Child...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

NCRegister: Taking Care of My Little Sin

Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, and year out...Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. ‘Poor Julia,’ they say, ‘she can’t go out. She’s got to take care of her little sin. A pity it ever lived. (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Book II, Chapter 3)

I was recently asked by a secular publication about my thoughts on Pope Francis extending the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion indefinitely to all priests (who have the faculties to hear confessions). What struck me as I read his Apostolic Letter from the end of the Year of Mercy was how the women he presented from Scripture were all living sinful lives, but also how Christ extended mercy to all of these women. The women caught in adultery has always been a penetrating example for me of his great mercy and my inability to judge others, for how can I claim to be without sin and cast the first stone? Yet, he who is without sin will not cast one at the sorrowful women.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BIS Devotion: Discerning God's Will Everyday

I am over at Blessed is She writing today's devotion:

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I spent the entire semester I was abroad in Europe during college trying to surrender my will to God’s will about a particular man in my life. He very clearly liked, almost loved, me, but he was conflicted about his vocation. I tried desperately to not interfere in his discernment, but also to accept God’s will, come what may. The hardest thing for me was figuring out for what exactly I should be praying for this dear man. I wanted him to choose God’s will for his life, but I also felt that my own destiny was already tied up in this man’s destiny. In my very depths I felt that we were meant to be with each other, but I had to wait for God’s will to be made clear to him. The only prayer I could pray with any peace was this: for this man to discern God’s will for him. That letting go and letting God was one of the hardest things I have done in my life...

Read the rest at Blessed is She...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

NCRegister: How Father Michael Scanlon Changed my Life

When I first started at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2004, Father Michael Scanlan was already a walking legend on campus. He had retired from his role as president just four years previously and spent his days as the chancellor of the college visiting with students, saying Mass, and hearing confessions. When I heard the news this weekend of Father Scanlan’s death, I was reminded of how the course of my life would have been completely different had it not been for Father Scanlan turning around the failing College of Steubenville and transforming it into the vibrant, community centered, academically focused institution it is today. His life and work, open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, obedient to the requests of his superiors, has been formative in so many lives of Catholics, especially those of us who have been able to attend Franciscan University.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...