Tuesday, September 17, 2013

...in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

Catholic 101

One God. There is only one. Yet how many things reach god-like status in our lives? Those things, whatever they may be, seem so silly and trivial compared to the maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. Maybe it's because God's work is on such a grander scale that it's hard for us to even contemplate, much less attain a relationship with the Maker. But really, what do I have to gain from expending my time, energy, and brainpower on insignificant pursuits? I often forget to take the long view, and instead get caught up in the moment, basing my actions on what will best serve me that day. Living in the moment can be a positive and virtuous endeavor, but I do see in my own life how it sometimes trips up my ability to focus on the prize. "Set your heart on the higher gifts, on the things that come from your Maker in Heaven" (1 Cor. 12) comes to mind. What would it be like, if we all lived every day with the assurance that the end of the story is good? If we made decisions based on the things that will matter at the end of life, instead of whatever might bring the most pleasure to the day? 

I spent several years when I moved to Chicago working with the elderly, and the faith I saw among bodily pain and decay was truly inspiring. I always got the sense that these folks knew with assurance, although this phase was challenging, that the end was good - and it was coming. In spite of constant physical ailments, loneliness after the loss of spouses and friends, and inability to carry out daily tasks that once seemed mundane, I saw peace. I recall being at Mass with my grandpa a few years ago, watching him struggling to kneel, and thinking "Wow. Never has it been so clear that we were not made for this earth, but for something much better." I can't say I'm entirely eager to reach old age, but I can't help but be in awe of the way that age seems to strip away the little things, and leave just what matters. May we always be conscious of the things in our lives that are of our One God who is almighty!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Catholic 101: I believe...

Catholic 101

Today, 12 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are praying for all the people who gave their lives to help, and those whose lives are still affected by this tragedy. As our country stands on the precipice of yet another war, we pray for peace in Syria, for wisdom for those God has placed as leaders in our country and around the world, and especially for the next generation - for those people we are raising right now - that they would be a generation of peacemakers.

These two little words would have been easy to skip on my way to what seem like meatier sections of the Creed, but without these words, none of the rest of it would matter. Without "I believe," a list of the tenets of a faith as beautiful as ours would be just that: a list.

I tend to take belief for granted. I was raised believing in God. My parents encouraged me to see His fingerprints in every corner of the world I lived in, taught me how to talk to Him and lean on Him when I was hurting, to praise Him when I was joyful. I am deeply grateful that I have felt the presence of God so closely for my entire life. On my journey toward the Catholic Church, as I read books that made me question many of my assumptions about faith, I felt God nudging me closer to Him, closer to the truth.

We are each created with an instinctive drive to search for the ultimate meaning of life. God reveals Himself to us, and we respond in faith: "I believe." Here's the tricky part, though: "Whoever says 'I believe' says 'I pledge myself to what we believe" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994 edition, page 51). Belief is not just something you say. It's who you are, and how you live. Every day, the implications of what we believe ripple through every part of our lives. The creed is merely a symbol of a lived reality.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God--not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:8-9

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What We Wore Sunday

We are back from our summer hiatus, linking up with Fine Linen and Purple!

It is so exciting to be part of a growing parish. We've been attending regularly at St. Gregory the Great for about a year, though I was lucky enough to meet Patrick, the music director, and start singing with the choir occasionally when I moved to Chicago in 2007. We love it! The music is fantastic, the priests and staff are amazing, the people are friendly, and there is a lot going on for young people and young families. Our Moms and Tots group meets weekly (at least!) for play, and we're starting to grow even further! This Sunday was our first Moms and Tots Family Picnic, out in the back yard of the rectory. What a fun day! Perfect weather, lots of families sitting on the grass sharing food and chatting, kids running around, and cicadas being thoroughly examined... I've attended lots of churches in my life, and I am so incredibly blessed by this one. Thank you, God!

 Our photographer was not aware that we was supposed to be taking an outfit shot. Oh well. You get what you get. :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New Baby, New Business

Alright, my fellow blogger has motivated me to check back in too! It was a weird summer, filled with chasing a toddler, morning sickness, classes, morning sickness, learning how to start a business, morning sickness, house hunting, and finally feeling a bit more like myself after about 6 weeks of living on saltines. I think my poor husband nearly gave up hope of ever having a home cooked meal again, as I sure couldn't do it and also couldn't let him cook with anything remotely fragrant. But that's in the past, until next time. By some miracle, I have succeeded in opening my business, Kat's Cradle Sleep Consulting, and growing a (currently) turnip-sized human in my belly. Whew. Life is good. I always wondered how one went about parenting a highly energetic toddler while in the throes of early pregnancy, and after going through it, I can say the answer is...I haven't a clue. How we survived, apart from the help of friends and family, is a mystery to me. I vaguely recall hazy memories of summer mornings staggering across the street to the park and letting Ryan loose to run in the grass while I sat and gagged. It's a good thing he finds sticks and passing dogs so fascinating. Anyway, like all things, that phase passed and life is pretty pleasant once again. We get to find out in a few weeks if we're having a boy or a girl! And the business, so far, has been incredibly rewarding. It's just amazing to support families on their journey to joyful parenting through rest for everyone! I especially love hearing how happy the kids become once they are well-rested. I can't wait for more of the same with upcoming clients, and feel very blessed to have started a career which will allow lifelong flexibility as a mom.

Well, I'm going to take my boy's nap time to laze around for awhile. Pregnancy is, if nothing else, a free pass to relax in my opinion! Looking forward to breaking open the Creed with our readers in the coming weeks!

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary!

Happy fall!! I took the summer completely off from blogging; too much living and traveling around to check in! But, in typical fashion, fall leaves me feeling like I need a new project (I am always nostalgic for back-to-school), so I'm back with some fresh energy and new ideas!


Catholic 101

Starting next week, look for a new weekly series called Catholic 101. We're going to work through the Creed phrase by phrase, first. I've still found myself fumbling over the words of the new translation at Mass, and after almost two years, that's just ridiculous. Hopefully this helps. We're looking forward to digging into our faith by going back to basics!


WRM logo

The Well-Read Mom. Do you know about this already? I am so excited I could just jump up and down, shouting from the rooftops. What a great idea!! And so easy - they've done every bit of the prep work for you, all you have to do is grab a book and a few of your mom friends. Do you have a moms group at your parish? Why not introduce this program? Thanks to Molly for bringing my attention to this idea!

3. I'm back on the Weight Watchers and Jillian Michaels wagon. My goal is to get to my happy weight by Anne's first birthday. I've got two months, and I'm almost there. Back in April, I ordered 3 Jillian DVDs, the absolute best of which is Ripped in 30. Seriously, if you're looking to get in shape with a minimal time commitment (20 minutes!), this is the DVD for you. Get after it!

4. I'd like to start memorizing more Scripture, especially verses that would be helpful as prayers when I'm having a frustrating moment, and verses that would help me to defend and explain my faith to others. I have many memories of my mom quoting Scripture to us when we were growing up, and I'd love for my kids to have those memories of me as well. I found a great book by Patrick Madrid called "150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know," and I'm excited to start there.

5. Did you see this post from a mom of teenage boys, to teenage girls? I thought it was great, and was slightly bewildered when I came across a lot of negative backlash the next day. I guess it was maybe too simplistic, but the idea was good. As usual, however, Simcha has straightened the whole issue out. Take a peek at her take.

6. Pope Francis has asked us to observe Saturday, September 7 (tomorrow!) as a day of fasting and prayer for Syria. My first thought was, "Oh, man, why did he have to pick a Saturday? I was going to make waffles, and we're going to the Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Lincoln Park, and there's college football on!" And then I realized that is precisely why Saturday is a good day to fast. If it had been today, it would have been exactly no sacrifice for me. I found this article to be a great primer on Syria, if you find yourself as woefully uninformed as I did.

7. We had a great summer. Lots of travel, family and friends, sun and sand. Lots of milestones. Suddenly this baby of mine is transforming into a toddler, crawling, pulling up, eating absolutely everything in sight, cracking me up and amazing me. I am so thankful that I get to soak up her bright personality every day!

Swinging! Almost 10 months.

Have a great weekend! GO BLUE!!!