“The nights are long but the years are short when you’re alive.”–Anthony Kiedis or RIP Stuart Scott

Why bother getting emotional about a sportscaster you never met, Kristen?

Except, there’s this thing and it’s called cancer and we make those who “survive” it seem like heroes. And we don’t talk about the bravery of those who died. Last October, during the height of “pink-mania” a friend posted about how we give very short shrift to those who die while battling cancer. Her brother had passed in his early 20s of bone cancer, a tumor wrapped around his spine, strangling his spinal cord. And it hurt. It hurt because Andy. Yeah, my brave little cousin who just made it to his 13th birthday before going home to God on Mother’s Day weekend. It hurt because I knew it was true. I know there are people out there who think “if only (he/she) had fought harder” someone would still be with us. Yeah, it’s not really like that.

And Stuart Scott knew it. 

As Jim Valvano is quoted today from his Arthur Ashe Courage Award speech, “Don’t give up, Don’t ever give up,” as his rallying cry for all those facing cancer, today Stuart’s words are being quoted around the internet:

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

After seven grueling years of battling this awful disease, Stuart knew what was happening. He fought til the end. But he did not lose. The only loser in the cancer equation, is cancer itself.

Stuart gave a voice to those battling, and battling hard, but not making any head-way. He acknowledged the courage of those who died during their fight. Hannah Storm, while fighting tears, memorialized Stuart in this way:

“Stuart didn’t lose to cancer, we all lost Stuart.”

Similarly, Rich Eisen, Scott’s one-time co-host on Sports Center and close friend, was called to memorialize his friend on the NFL Network, where he now works.

“I loved this man. I still love this man, and the fact that he has passed away is absolutely mind-boggling, and a travesty,” Eisen said as he fought back tears. “And as you go to bed tonight, flip your pillow over to the cool side, and before you go to sleep — as Stuart would say, when you hit your knees tonight — and pray to the big man for his beautiful daughters who he loved, Taelor and Sydni.”

Rich Eisen chose to remember his friend the fighter, the man who loved his life and fought for it.

Stuart Scott, like Jim Valvano before him, and like Lauren Hill still fighting against all odds, have shown us that life is very worth living. Every second we are given is a gift we can use to make the world a better place. And in a world where people are celebrated for ending their own lives when receiving a terrible diagnosis to make things easier for those around them, we need to remember those who lived their lives even as death came in. We needed to love and lose Stuart Scott, so we can remember that life is worth living, every blessed second. And remember when those closer to home are suffering with these terrible diseases, that a cure doesn’t always mean living life cancer-free in this world. No, a cure can look like someone fighting to make life better here, and going home to God when it’s time.

RIP Stuart…thank you for being a reminder of what is truly important.

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Best Catholic Blogs You (Probably) Aren’t Reading (But you should be!)

I have a very small blog following. Pitifully small. But this isn’t a gripe. It’s quality people, not quanitity. However, some great blogs out there do deserve some attention and I’d be more than happy to be the one who brings them to light.

1. Where the Catholic Sun Doth Shine by Maggie Cheung

Maggie, of Mighty Maggie fame, keeps it real. And by keeping it real on her Catholic blog, she delves in where few of us publicly dare to go. Maggie doesn’t hide that she struggles with faith. She doesn’t hide that she has a big ol Evangelical side to her spirituality. And she bares her soul when she feels that she isn’t doing this whole “God-thing” right. Maggie may not be for everyone, but her candor is refreshing. She’s not interested in debating Pope Francis vs Benedict or Latin Mass or any of the other hot button issues. Nope, she’s talking about her struggles and I find myself nodding in agreement and saying, “Yup, me too!” quite a lot.

2. Fear Not Little Flock by Priest’s Wife

Yes, this is a Catholic blog. And yes, the woman who authors it is married to a Catholic priest. A Ruthenian-rite Catholic priest. Confused? Well, there are many rites in the Catholic Church that aren’t Roman. They aren’t all large and some are in lands far away. Priest’s Wife does a great job breaking down where Rome and the East meet, where they differ and the struggles of being a non-Roman rite Catholic both in the world and the US.

3. Our Beautiful Chaos by Lerin

Lerin was listed a few years ago as one of the most widely read Catholic blogs. Life happened and stuff happened and Lerin took a break from blogging with occasional appearances. But it’s 2015 now and she’s back!!!! And while her blog is now slightly more slice of life, she is better than ever! Check out what her awesome clan is up to.

4. A Slice of Smith Life by Tracy

Tracy, her husband, and five “cupcakes” are members at our parish. Tracy is a homeschooling mama who does have a following already, but I think a few more couldn’t hurt ;). Anyway, Tracy has some great ideas for liturgical feasts, like this one (because we all know how I am challenged with anything crafty)...a doughnut Rosary for the feast of the Immaculate Conception! I love crafty ideas shared that even the most challenged of us can do. She’s also given me some great ideas from her homeschooling notes that help so much with supplementing/enriching what the boys, especially, are doing at school.

5. Peace Garden Mama by Roxane Salonen

Roxane has tackled everything from her kids growing up, to losing a parent, to inter-Christian dialogue and beyond on her blog. I really appreciate her tone which is genuine and never condescending. And she’s never above admitting that she’s still learning too and everything isn’t all figured out yet. Her recent post on Pope Francis’ “All Dogs Go To heaven” pronouncement was classic in her staying true to church teaching but admitting, we don’t need to know all the answers.

6. Half a Dozen and More Productions by Maurisa

Maurisa is another home-schooling mama living in Utah, not exactly a bastion of Catholics living the good life and spreading the good news. Maurisa is an aspiring photographer and her pictures capture God’s beautiful creation in nature, family and more.

7. Betty Duffy by Elizabeth “Betty” Duffy

Not her Patheos blog. Unlike most Patheos bloggers who move their entire blog to the site, Betty maintains two. Her original writing space and a separate Patheos blog. When it was announced she was coming to Patheos, a lot of people just moved their readers over thinking she would be like everyone else. Let me say here: Betty Duffy is never like anyone else. Much like Maggie, she keeps it real. As in the faith struggles, the struggles about talking to her kids about sex (despite having written a chapter on it for a Catholic women’s book) and her past with Regnum Christi. Betty is honest and frank about her short-comings but is also a very lyrical writer. I find myself transported to her situation every time I read.

I realize this list is short on men–okay there are no men listed–, most of the men I read are already well known and have written books, columns and been on EWTN or Catholic TV. The ones I read who are not as well known don’t seem to be publishing much recently and while archives are always fun to peruse, I would prefer the content a bit more up to date to refer new readers there. I hope you’ll head over to any of these blogs you’re not familiar with and give them a whirl. I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did!

Blogging more and more and more

Or something like that.

Anyway, Lerin at Our Beautiful Chaos is my dear friend (we were virtual pregnancy buddies with William and Lucy) whom I connected with via her blog and then friended on facebook. Lerin and I share so much in our May babies and having special little girls with autism spectrum disorder. Lerin has decided to move away from facebook by moving back to blogging and transferring most of her pictures etc to the blog from facebook.

We all know how I have this love-hate relationship with facebook, but it’s really not gotten to me much of late. I took an unannounced break for a couple of weeks in the beginning of Advent just because. And truth be told I miss it less and less when I get away. Or just have the window closed. I’m the last person you’ll find saying social media is the direct destruction of humanity or marriage or the family. People do all those things, social media is just another tool they use and trust me, they would find another way without facebook, twitter, instagram etc.

But lately,I’ve become more and more attracted to blogging again. Maybe it’s because blogging is now considered “dead” and the mega-bloggers are starting to fall off, except those awesome New Evangelizers. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel compelled to play a game mid-post so much anymore or check the feed mid-update. Maybe it’s because it’s my blog and I don’t have to necessarily see or read anything else here I don’t want to. Being the selfish girl I am, I’ll take that last one.

Blogging and social media are not part of my resolutions. And I’ve decided to not include them in my fasts either. Mostly because they end up being big fat fails, sometimes for very noble reasons: a friend in crisis, a family emergency etc, but also because they don’t feel like real sacrifices. I’m an introvert who gets drained by social interaction: real as much as virtual. I only do so well on social media because I can control what I get to see and hear (unfollow, delete and block, I do love you so) and can walk away without seeming rude. So there.

that's illegalTrying so hard not to let those grammatical errors bother me…anyway…

I don’t think of blogging as a community thing so much as a writing thing and that’s what I guess I need to be doing now. Especially with all my shepherding my creative minority stuff I got going on in 2015. So I won’t make any promises, resolutions or predictions that you’ll see me here more than usual, but if you do we can count it as a win.

2015, Day 2 here and gone already

Back before Christmas, I chose my patron for 2015, my #1 patron is St Peter. I decided today my family all needs patrons so here goes:

Jeff– St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz

A saint I had never heard of but who has a fascinating story.

Joseph– Bl. Marie Rose Durocher Feast: October 6 Patronage: Against Loss of Parents; Sick People

I’m especially glad his saint will protect him from losing his parents! Considering Joseph’s difficulties with asthma and walking pneumonia, hopefully his patron will continue to protect him.

William– St. Aelred of Rievaul Feast: January 12 Patronage: Against Kidney Disease; Against Kidney Stones

Considering William’s eating habits, not a bad saint for him to have. Also considering his digestive issues as an infant, he can really use all the prayers he can get.

Shelby– Shelby’s saint is not canonized or even beatified yet. She is not in the saint generator. Yet. But since her joining of the church triumphant a week ago, her powerful prayers have helped our family already. She saved us from having a broken down car and got us home safely even today as we came home from my parents’ house. Since she has passed I have seen her glow in Shelby’s smile and laughter which seem to be even more vibrant. She has become for us the patron of little girls with special needs and their parents and brothers. Shelby’s saint is Saint Courtney Lenaburg and we will celebrate her life on December 27, all 22 glorious years of it.

This year, in addition to selecting a word, I’ve selected a Bible verse. I’ll start with the verse, when St Peter came up, the verse immediately came into my mind. It is John 21: 15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,* “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”* He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.i* Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

To be an apostle, to feed His sheep, to live in complete submission. Those are the things I’ve been striving for, continue to strive for. And as I’ve spent time meditation repeatedly over St Peter and this particular exchange, my word for 2015 became clear.

Shepherd

To Shepherd my children, to be one that the world looks down upon but who fights and fights hard to defend and care for those entrusted to him or her. The thought of surrendering my needs to one who truly shepherds me, but tending to His flock, particularly, my children, my husband and others I come into contact with. I think this will become even more important as we move to a new place this year where we will know almost no one. Both being a shepherd and allowing myself to be shepherded will be happening this year.

As for resolutions, I’m historically not big on them, but I would say that this year, Jeff and I have decided to make some positive changes in our home. We are going to commit to being meat free on Fridays and aim for more fish in our diet weekly. We didn’t do so great today because of the travel and the added stress (we took out Chinese food which meant chicken and pork) but I am going food shopping in the morning and look to rectify that situation for next week! We also have committed to not spend money at one particular big box store. The reason being that even if we save money on individual items, we end up spending more money on things we don’t normally purchase. Not to mention, staple items like milk, eggs, and butter are close to double the cost there than at the store I work at plus I get an employee discount. We will only spend gift cards we receive there.

And that’s about it! Hoping your new year is getting off to a successful start!