A good pairing

I am now 7 rows and 539 stitches into a an overambitious baby gnome hat that seems to want to become a toddler gnome hat. As long as it fits somebody in this house.

Taking gauge would probably kill me.

As I knit I think of past projects.

I used often to knit while sitting in the car and listening to audiobooks, and then after library school finals when seeds of faith were planted, Mother Angelica. I remember that, “faith comes from hearing,” and the way the stitches calmed my anxious movements enough to slow down and listen and come gently, gently to know Christ.

Coffee and donuts and yarn and Mother Angelica and most of all, Jesus Christ.

Faith comes by hearing, especially hungry and non-defensive hearing, like desert sand open wide for rain.

Living water.

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Why I Wash Dishes By Hand

whyiwashI spent yesterday morning absorbed in conversation with some other moms as we watched our children chew on wood shavings and dump sand into each other’s hair. I mentioned that recently as I unloaded the dishwasher I went to put some dishes away and returned to find a baby sitting fat and happy on the dishwasher door. My companions lamented that they didn’t have dishwashers. I stayed silent, suddenly trying to remember the reason that although I have a dishwasher, I wash the dishes by hand more often than not. File this one in the bulging, “things I don’t say out loud because they’re weird” folder.

I wash my dishes by hand because I think it’s good for my soul.

If I remove myself from the anchor of good, physical work I stay too much in my head. My vocation consists in loving God through service to my family. It comes down to a simple fact of faith: we are body and soul, not separate but together. As Meg Hunter-Kilmer says, God made us out of stuff and uses stuff to reach our hearts.

And so I wash the dishes by hand. The scrubbing makes me thankful for the dishes that we have and the food that we ate and the family that I am working for. While I wash I slow down and pray. Suddenly, I am simple again. I like the smell of dish soap and watching the bubbles slide down teal or yellow ceramic, seeing a mountain of mess dwindle down to a fresh sink.

I noticed this week that I was losing control over the dish situation, leaving food to crust onto plates and roughly loading things into the dishwasher.

I cycle into the mindset that these tasks are meaningless, and let’s finish as fast as I can to get to the really important things. Like reading A Clash of Kings. Or browsing Facebook on my phone while ignoring sippy cup re-fill requests as long as possible. I can go through the motions for days until God reminds me. Again. That he is found among the pots and pans. When I forget myself and serve Him through them. I am not made to live life inside my head, but pouring myself outward in service. My children are not impediments to a clean house and completed to-do list, they are my mission.

Jesus himself cooked fish.

I love and need the reminders of the physical in my Catholic faith. My favorites are the San Damiano crucifix and the Anima Christi prayer. Can you imagine? When he died they wrapped him in linen and carried him through a garden and laid him in a tomb. He rose again in a physical body with wounded hands and feet that St. Thomas could put his finger into. It’s a truly humbling and magnificent thing!

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
Amen

Grace in Pink Blossoms

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This year after a tremendous amount of rainfall, the Texas landscape has managed to remain green all the way into the month of July. And not just green, either. Pink and yellow and fiery orange. Around every corner I spot crepe myrtles absolutely brimming with blossoms.

I call to mind the winds and rains, torrential flooding. Wet, black soil full of nutrients and kisses of sunshine, meetings with earthworms in the dark. The tree accepted all that it was given and burst forth into exuberant, abundant blossoms as if to proclaim the glory of God. It produces its flowers in a single specialized color and style. Even if it could elude its own nature and squeeze out flowers of a different color by sheer force of will and gargantuan effort, nothing would be more beautiful than those which it was created to effortlessly produce.

I keep trying to think of my life in terms of crepe myrtle. What’s my pink blossom? When I receive all as if straight from the hand of the Father, how to I proclaim his glory and my joy? What should be my focus?

In true melancholic fashion, I have been considering this question for over a month and I don’t have a solid answer. I am possibly overthinking the question, also in true melancholic fashion.

”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena

Oratory Update and Printable

oratoryupdateandprintableDaily prayer with toddler and baby has been going surprisingly well. I’ve been getting the little pebbles together every morning after breakfast. We gather around the little oratory, pass around the rosaries and light our Candlemas candle. We pray. I promise toddler that she can blow the candle out. No one’s long, silky hair has caught on fire yet. We try to keep the fighting to a minimum. I consider it a win. The whole process takes us about five to ten minutes. We keep it simple at Casa Stone.

The surprising thing that I’ve noticed so far is the extent to which Lillian enjoys the ritual. She likes things done in the same way every time, and everyone has to have the same rosary. She can almost make the sign of the cross.

One thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out which prayers I want to pray daily. I knew I wanted to pray the morning offering, but I couldn’t remember the words…so I created a little printable cheat sheet for myself! I meant it to be printed as a 4×6 so that I could use it as a prayer card to keep tucked away and then nipped out when I needed it.

To print a copy for yourself, just click on the image to view the full size and then right click to save the image. Enjoy!

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Why I Remain Catholic

Can I tell you something private?

Living in an unequally yoked marriage is hard, y’all. Really, really hard. When you don’t agree with your spouse about what’s most important in life? Yeah. Hard.

There have been many times in the bleak loneliness in which I’ve thought that it would be easier to throw off my Catholicism and resume living secular life. I wasn’t raised Catholic; I spent years of my life espousing Wiccan, Pagan and Deist ideas. My parents aren’t religious. My spouse isn’t religious. You wanna know what keeps me Catholic?

I believe that the claims of the Catholic Church are true.

And my troubles? They’re nothing in comparison to the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

towhomsmall

Grounded in the Eucharist

Linking up today with Blessed Is She!

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My eyes bore into the wood grain on the table while my fingers trace the edges of the stray bottlecap from my open Fat Tire brew.

My father-in-law had gone into his familiar speech about why nearly every Christian in the world had misinterpreted Scripture because of a pesky little mistranslation of the word, “aionios”. If only people could understand their mistake then Christianity would become a very different thing. A correctly translated “aionios” read with simple reliance on the Holy Spirit free from denominational lenses would lead people to clearly see that there is no eternal Hell and no eternal Heaven, but only states of being that are endured for a time before giving way to other, non-defined states of being.

My father-in-law sounds very authoritative when he gives this speech. We listen dutifully. Oliver, the agnostic, has taken up care of the dishes and I have taken up the task of boring holes in the table with my eyes. I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable. Always an avoider of conflict, I am usually quick to agree with someone as soon as I possibly can. The eternity of Hell? Yeah, maybe I could waver on that.

An icy realization hits me. What if the Church is wrong, and our entire dogma is based on a series of biased mistranslations? What if everything I believe is off-kilter and I’ve just been a damn fool? I imagine my life turned upside down as I shed my denominational loyalty as a snake sheds its skin. Perhaps it should be just me n’ Jesus, as the Protestants say it should be.

I run through a mental checklist of everything that’s important to me and stop short as this Scripture emerges and trumps everything else:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

The Eucharist.

As Catholics we believe that when we take the consecrated host into our bodies at Mass, we literally ingest the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Lord of Heaven and Earth, always meek and humble of heart, gives us the gift of not only forgiveness of sins and adoption as children of God, but his actual flesh and blood to eat as we are united in his one body through the bread of life.

In comparison to the issue of the reality of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, every other issue falls by the wayside. What use is conjecturing about the end times or the nature of the afterlife when there are more pressing issues at stake? When I encounter doubt, my love and belief in the Eucharist keeps me grounded and faithful to the teachings of the (nearly) only church which offers it.

We also have really cool Marian Apparitions, but that’s an issue for another time!

towhomsmall

On the Absence of Dad

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Happy Easter! With eyes that say, “hurry up and take the damn picture so I can let go of this kid’s arm!”

I was nervous about going to Mass this Easter with my littles in tow.

I usually go to a specific Mass, sit in my designated spot right next to a pillar (otherwise known as a toddler blockade). I go to this particular Mass because it’s typically not crowded and I sit behind a kind family always willing to grab my rambunctious toddler and hold on to her while I wrestle with the baby. I go to Mass alone, yes, but not always without help.

This Easter I had to attend Mass alone and with no helpers. I recall one moment in which Baby Cara was strapped to my chest and Lillian bumped her head on the pew as a result of a certain level of mischievousness and started screaming, suddenly in dire need of being picked up and comforted. I had a baby on my chest, a toddler on my hip and sweat on my brow. Other parishioners couldn’t help but observing, “you have your hands full, don’t you?” My reply, “Yeah, it would be a great time for my husband to convert!”

There are occasions at Mass when I see families attending together and my heart aches. At moments like that it’s helpful to remember how lucky I am to be at Mass a baptized Catholic.

God spent years tending to little seeds planted in my bitter heart to bring me to this place. The fact that kneel before the blessed Sacrament and sing Alleluia every week without a hint of cynicism or irony while earnestly trying to quiet babies and occasionally hissing at a toddler through clenched teeth is a blessed miracle!

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