Archive for February, 2011

Cabin fever is such a tricky thing.

It makes you want to complain about never being able to leave the house, and then when opportunities arrive, it makes you just want to keep on hibernating.

The weather has turned bitterly cold this week in our corner of Montana. I’m talking wind chills in the negative double digits. Of course we still have school, although by the time I walked 1/4 mile to class my face was so wind-chapped it just plain old hurt for the first 15 minutes of class.

But this weekend turned nicer. And so I forced myself to leave our apartment a few times.

Friday, my husband and I went to talk to our Congressman’s office about saving Americorps. It actually went really well. We voiced our concerns that Montanan’s would seriously be hurt through not only the loss of services but also the loss of jobs. We also pointed to a bill our Congressman Rehberg voted against, that served only to recognize the accomplishments of Americorps members and thank them for their service.

It’s a little weird to have your congressman refuse to thank you, huh? I guess you aren’t welcome.

Apparently, some people are against Americorps because a few Americorps members work at Planned Parenthood (not providing abortion services, but providing health education). Okay, I get the pro-life thing and why people would be against PP. What I don’t get is how you can be pro-Life and vote for cutting out WIC (Women, Infants and Children), a program that provides food to low-income mothers and their children. Rehberg voted against that, too. Hello? If we want babies, we should make sure they are fed. That’s what I was trying to say here, what’s more important to me than out-lawing abortion is creating a culture that is actually pro-life.

Phew. Didn’t plan to go down that road. But I couldn’t resist.

Saturday I was craving some dessert so we went on a late night run to Applebees. And then they didn’t have any dessert that I could eat. ‘Cause it all had chocolate, walnuts, or fruit in it. Boo. I have to admit, I was a little jealous of my husband’s maple brownie bar, but I ordered a plain vanilla ice cream and was fine. I’m working on moving past the feeling sorry for myself thing.

Sunday night, I headed over to a friend’s house to watch the Oscars. I’m not a huge Oscars fan, but  I figured I couldn’t complain about being bored and lonely if I passed up chances to hang out with people. It was a potluck, but I didn’t really feel like cooking myself something that was transportable, and that was something I could eat. (I had planned on having acorn squash for dinner, but that doesn’t make a great potluck contribution). So I figured I would just go buy a white pizza and share that. Turns out the grocery store didn’t have a single IC-friendly pizza. Boo again.

I bought myself a sandwich and a loaf of bread to share. I think I’m coming around. I didn’t have any problem admitting to my friend I just bought something for myself cause I figured I wouldn’t be able to eat anything anyone else brought. When someone asked me if I had lots of allergies, I just simply told them I couldn’t eat anything with acid in it. And you know what? It was fine. I don’t know why I have such a hard time admitting that I can’t eat stuff. I think I don’t want to come off as picky or difficult.

The show was fun to watch, but halfway through the pain started to flare up a bit. It was too crowded and I was positioned too far from the bathroom to make going an easy task, so I told my host I wasn’t feeling well, thanked her for the party, and went home. And you know what else? It was fine.

So that’s my big accomplishment for the weekend – leaving the apartment (we went to Mass too, but we do that even when its cold out, so I don’t think that counts), as well as learning to not be super embarrassed for needing some modifications to my social life. So, successful weekend.


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Notice anything different?

So I have about 100 more posts in my archive. How bout that?

I imported my old blog (spocrazy.blogspot.com) from when I was a Jesuit Volunteer. Enjoy!

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There are basically 3 parts to the Catholic wedding – the Liturgy of the Word (aka the readings), the Rite of Marriage (aka the vows), and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (aka communion). Add a few prayers in there and some processions at either end, and bahda bing bahda boom, you have a wedding.

Picking the readings for our wedding was one of the things John and I most enjoyed about planning our wedding. We put a lot of thought into our selections.

The First Reading

The first reading is traditionally from the Old Testament. This passage was read by a close friend who did JVC with us in Spokane.

Genesis 1:26-28, 31a

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air . . . God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

We chose this reading because we loved the language of the creation, of being connected to the wide world, a world full of beautiful creatures and full of life. We know that what God has created is good.

The Responsorial Psalm

The responsorial psalm is a psalm that is usually sung, with the cantor singing a verse and the congregation responding.

Psalm 118

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We chose this psalm, which is usually sung around Easter time, because it is so full of joy. It is also a reminder that this day, our wedding day, was a gift from God.

A beautiful picture of John’s grandparents singing along. One of my favorites.

The Second Reading

The second reading, which is usually from the New Testament, was read by John’s aunt and Godmother. This reading was what really was the hallmark of our wedding, and what we tried to keep on our hearts throughout the day.

1 John 4:7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God….for God is love.

God is love. A simple, beautiful reminder, that what we have is holy. That our love for one another isn’t just butterfly kisses and splitting root beer floats. It’s real, and it is from God. We love, we love each other, we love others, because God first loved us.

The Gospel

The Gospel is read from the first four books of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is usually read by the Priest or Deacon. (In our case, it was the Deacon).

Matthew 25:30

One of the Pharisees, a scholar of the law, tested Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him,

“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

We chose this reading, not because it was short and sweet and happened to have the word “love” in it, but because it is a great mission statement for marriage. Catholics believe that marriage is a vocation, a calling. We are called to be married or to lead a single life just like some people are called to enter into the ministry. Not just because its just what you do when you meet someone and fall in love, but also because it is a way to serve God and to serve others. So in our marriage we will seek to love God, love each other, and love those around us.

The Homily

The homily (or sermon) was said by a priest, the same priest who gave me my first communion, and by the deacon, who was a family friend of ours.

I love this picture from the wedding:

We are either looking at each other like that because a) the priest had mentioned having babies for the gazillionth time, or b) because I turned to John and said “shoot, I forgot to asks someone to videotape the wedding!” (I didn’t).

My mine strayed a bit during the homily cause, well, I was getting married in about 5 minutes. ACK! I do remember the Priest saying there are three things you should do at least once a year:

1) go to a museum to remember where you came from

2) hold a newborn baby to celebrate new life

3) go to a wedding to celebrate love

We had received our mission – love God, love one another, for God is love. It was finally, finally! time to wed.

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Who God Is

No, sorry I don’t know. This is not an answer.

The other day while doing the dishes, which amazingly, need done again, already. It’s like they just won’t stay clean. Anyway, the other day while doing the dishes, I listened to a podcast from Mars Hill Bible Church, the church where Rob Bell is pastor at.

Are you familiar with Rob Bell? He wrote books like Sex God and Velvet Elvis and does the Nooma series of videos. I don’t agree with him 100% on theological issues (have you ever met someone you do?) but I really respect his manner of thought. I find his church’s sermons very thought provoking, and they have some interesting guest speakers. A few of my favorites* were someone who spoke out against the sex trade, a Catholic priest on mourning and death, another person on the theology of the cell phone, and my favorite was Donald Miller  in one entitled “Story.”

To be honest, the MHBC podcasts have been piling up in my iTunes over the last couple years, collecting dust. I noticed that about a year and a half ago they did a series on the Sermon on the Mount¹, which is what we are covering in my church right now. So I thought I’d give it a listen.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

Now that’s a verse I’ve heard interpreted a million different ways, and most of those ways have bounced of me like water off of a duck’s back. Most had to do with the virtue of being poor in spirit, which let me tell you, the times I have felt poor in spirit (and their have been times), I certainly didn’t feel very virtuous. Quite the opposite in fact.

Bell had an alternative suggestion that has really stuck with me. I’ll summarize:

It has nothing to do with what is good about being poor in spirit. It has everything to do with who God is.

It is so easy to read the Bible and think “okay, so this is about me, right? What’s in it for me?” and forget that it is about God and who God is. There is no explanation for why the poor in spirit deserve to be blessed, because being poor in spirit isn’t exactly awesome. The point is, we have a God who blesses the poor in spirit.

Because that’s just the kind of God he is.

It’s not just talking about us, it’s talking about God and who God is. A good reminder for me to seek God in all things.

*the podcasts I pointed to are archived and cost $2 but ones posted in the last 12 weeks are free.

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Have you heard? Congress is considering cutting Americorps from its budget. While we can probably agree that the budget needs to be balanced, should we cut off a program that:

1) provides low-cost but highly qualified labor to agencies which might otherwise be able to afford a full time employee

2) provides jobs and more importantly, practical job skills to recent college graduates as well as people at other stages of their life

3) provides educational support for former members, giving people the opportunity to either pay off debt or continue their education

Ultimately, what I’m getting at, is that while Americorps does cost the government, the benefits the country receives are worth MUCH more than the cost.

Americorps also supports the Catholic Network of Volunteer Services which supports the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, which I spent 2 years of my life serving with. The JVs I knew worked in elementary schools on reservations, in homeless shelters, in women’s shelters, at daycares, at food banks, as nurses, with the mentally handicapped, with the elderly. My cousin is currently serving an Americorps year in New Orleans, working at a place that educates children about environmental issues and does vegetable oil drives for biodiesel engines and all sorts of other neat things.

Americorps is basically a win-win-win-win. The country wins by keeping people employed and having a cost-effective way to take care of its low-income citizens, the agencies win by getting employees they would not otherwise be able to afford, the clients served by these agencies win by receiving all sorts of services that would not be available otherwise, and the members win by receiving a life changing year that will ultimately shape their future.

2. I can’t say enough about how important I think this type of service is to this country. But maybe you can say something. Feel like contacting your congressperson and asking them to save service?

Contact your representative or

senator or

sign a petition.

Stand up for those who are most needy in our country. Save service! Gotta love that democratic process.

3. Husband and I made kale chips the other day. The result? Delicious. Basically cut up kale in bite sized pieces, drizzle with a little olive oil, add slat, bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Ta da! Healthier version of potato chips. Serve with bison burgers.

4. Can I tell you how awesome my husband is, or will you get jealous? He makes dulce de leche. Which is a milk based caramel sauce. Technically, *we* make it, but basically I just holler “of course you’re doing it right” from the couch while he does all the work. It’s a pretty awesome deal.

5. This is one of those weeks where I have had lots of existential questions about what I am doing in grad school. Its just kind of boring after working. Read, class, read, class. The subject matter is interesting and all, but the day to day routine is fairly meh.

6. What did you do Saturday? We went over to the house of a couple that live next door where the JV house used to be. They are in their 70s and maybe some of the nicest people in the world. Every time I see their wife she asks about the shelter I work at and gets into an impassioned discussion of the needs of the homeless who are mentally ill. We played dominos with the current JVs, some of the couple’s friends and children, and a few former JVs. Well, I played like two rounds of dominoes and John watched basketball with the head of the house. Plus we ate chili and brownies. (well not me, I snacked on veggies but it was still awesome).

7. One of the guests in attendance was my husband’s not-so-secret-admirer. She’s 3. Remember how I mentioned that he was going to be his cousin’s Godfather? Well her mother was the stand in Godmother. Apparently since then she hasn’t stopped asking about the “Godfather.” They pray for the Godfather at night. I asked her if she remembered me from the baptism and she said, “Yup! You sat next to the Godfather!” When we were trying to open up the thing of Chinese Checkers, she said, “maybe that Godfather in the kitchen can open it!” and then dissolved into a fit of giggles whenever he came near. Or ignored him. Basically habits that will stay with her for the next 20 years.

7.1. Scroll back up and click on one of those links to save service! Thanks. 🙂

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The Bathroom Bill

Raise your hand if you are thinking, “UGH I’m totally gonna stop reading this blog if this girl doesn’t stop talking about pee and poop.”

Different kind of potty talk, guys.

So I live in Montana. Open skies, long winters, cowboys. Its everything you’ve imagined. And this week, the hot topic to grace the headlines in this fair state is not wolf hunting or bear attacks, but human rights.

You see, about a year ago, my town passed an anti-discrimination ordinance. This ordinance added protections against discrimination based on gender-identity and sexual orientation.

So where do the bathrooms come in?

Part of this ordinance allowed people who identified as gender to use the bathroom of that gender.

Not my bathroom, they hollered. People became CONVINCED that this meant that men, women, whomever could use any bathroom they wanted to rape children. Nevermind that no one was checking IDs at public bathrooms in the first place. Nevermind that no sexual predator has ever thought, “well I would go into the little girl’s bathroom and molest a child, but the sign on the door says women and well, I’m a guy. Guess I won’t.” Never mind that people of non-majority sexual orientations and genders aren’t necessarily pedophiles or rapists. Nevermind that maybe we shouldn’t be letting our children into public bathrooms alone in the first place.

Those who cried “bathroom!” were drowned out by those who cried out for equality. The ordinance passed. In this town, people were protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We had a civil rights victory. It was historic. I was proud of my town.

Fast forward to this year.

There are two bill making their way through the Montana State Legislature, HB 514 and HB 516. HB 514 would extend these protections to the entire state. HB 516 would prohibit cities from creating their own protected classes.

Now, I realize sexual identity is a hot topic. Its highly debated and personal. I personally do not believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I accept it is a highly complex theological issue. So I don’t want to talk about that.

I want to talk about whether you are gay or straight, you have the right to rent an apartment and find a job in this town. In any town. You have the right to not be fired because your boss finds out who you love. You have the right to sit down in a restaurant and hold your partner’s hand without fear of being kicked out.

We learned this lesson once, 40 years ago. That this is not a country that stands for discrimination. That we believe those, even those we disagree with, have rights. So why would we try to limit rights of groups of people? Why would we vote against protecting the least among us? Why would we limit our own rights? Is that a precedence we want to set?

I pray that we vote to extend human rights and not to limit them. And I believe that justice will prevail. It sounds cheesy, but I really truly believe that we will stand up for our brothers and sisters. But I fear that instead of realizing this now, we will instead choose to weigh ourselves down in years of legal battles before this hope is realized.

I’m tired of people fearing the other. I’m tired of homophobia. I’m tired of all of this potty talk. Because

Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Malachi 2:10

Contact your legislators, whether you live in Montana (highly unlikely, I mean there are about 10 people who live this state) or anywhere. Let them know that you won’t stand for legalized discrimination.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear the opinions! But please, let this conversation stay gracious and kind. Any comments that are clashing cymbals and are without charity will be deleted.

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The clock struck two. Everyone was seated and waiting. It was time to head down the aisle.

Cue the music.

A Catholic wedding mass is basically a church service plus a wedding, not just a wedding. So all of the music should be appropriate for worship. No Chris Brown or “Here Comes the Bride!”

My bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Its such a beautiful, celebratory song.

All along, it had been my plan to walk down the aisle to this song, but I decided against it at the last minute. Why? Well, originally I thought was silly to change the music just for me, but I had went to a wedding a few months prior where the music didn’t change for the bride, and it seemed a little anti-climatic. Not that I really viewed myself as the “climax” of the wedding, but I didn’t want to be too untraditional.

Instead, I walked down the aisle to Trumpet Voluntary:

On the piano. So, I’m not the best at making last minute decisions, but it worked! It was still full of joy and anticipation, which is what I wanted.

But I haven’t walked down yet. First a good 21 other people had to go down. Yup, 21. Like I said, the Catholic wedding is basically a church service. If you haven’t been to a Catholic Mass, at the beginning during the opening hymn, people who are administering the sacraments or otherwise participating  in the service process down the aisle. I’ll spare you all 21 pictures, though!

First to go would be my cousin carrying the cross. Next, a fellow FJV who was one of our readers. She was followed by the priest, the same priest who gave me my first communion, and the deacon, who was a good family friend of ours.

The bridesmaids and groomsmen made their way down, and then the real cuties.

My youngest cousins were the darling ring bearer and flower girl. At first, I admit, we were going to skip these jobs. Too many extras. I just wanted to keep things simple and focused. Then my sisters reminded me how fun it had been to be in my aunts’ and uncles’ weddings. They were right. Making sure the wedding day wasn’t just about us sometimes meant things were a little less simple.

My flower girl is holding the same basket that my mom and my great-aunt carried in their weddings. It’s actually glass, though the flowers are wrapped in a not so pretty silver paper so the basket looks silver. I was selfish and wanted to carry a bouquet, but I wanted to make sure my mom’s basket was incorporated in the day. And God bless her for allowing her glass basket to be carried down that tile floor!

Our turn.

Like I said earlier, in a Catholic wedding, those who administer the sacraments process down the aisle. We believe that the bride and groom actually administer the sacrament of marriage to each other, hence the bride and groom walk down the aisle. We believe it is of upmost importance that we enter marriage freely and of our own will, but we are not given into it. See what I’m getting at? No groom waiting at the altar for a bride to be given to him, for us!

Catholic brides and grooms are actually encouraged to walk down the aisle together. But I grew up in a not-so-Catholic world and had always wanted that “moment” of seeing my groom waiting for me at the altar. I also didn’t want to tell my dad I didn’t want him to escort me down the aisle. He was important to us. All of our parents were. They made us who we are and we wanted to honor them on our wedding day.

Our compromise?

Isn’t that a cool picture, by the way?

We thought both of us being escorted by our parents was a good balance of being traditional and honoring our parents without reinforcing the (what we think are) sexist undertones of being given away and without putting too much emphasis on the bride. Hey, my groom is important too!

There we stood and prayed, surrounded by our parents

as well as the women

and men who are so dear to us.

(John’s sister was a groomwoman, and isn’t that the cutest ring bearer picture ever?)

There we stood, full of joy and ready to wed.

(all photos courtesy of Enigma Productions)

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