Cheese Pizza and Fish Sticks…yup, it’s Friday

I never wanted meat so much as I do today.

–William, age 6

This year has been the first year Joseph and William have really been into living liturgically. They came up with their own fasts for Lent and have learned how to use the three Catholic calendars plus Liturgical calendar to figure out the meatless days. And, as William has found out, there is nothing to kick a craving in like knowing you’re not supposed to have it!

So far, we’ve done really well with our fasts.

The kids were off from school today because there was some nasty weather. Freezing rain, sadly no snow, but it was a safe decision and therefore the best one.

Thankfully, because Jeff is a teacher, he was able to stay home with them because I had a day shift at work today.

At work we have a thriving floral department combined with great wine selections and a ton of specialty chocolates so we’re super busy this weekend. Plus people were freaking out about the weather and buying all the bottled water. So it would have been awful to have to call out!

Before I went into work Jeff made us grilled cheese sandwiches. I appreciate how he really tries to make sure the boys and I (and Shelby loves her great grilled cheese) are keeping on top of our fasts and days of abstaining.

At work we sold a ton of seafood. I was helping another cashier with bagging and in the cart were cheese pizzas and fish sticks. I smiled and the customer noticed and smiled back. We were thinking the same thing which she said out loud, “Yup, it’s a Friday!”

I came home to cheese pizza that Jeff had delivered. I was tired (and I’m doing it again tomorrow!) so I loved the ease and simplicity. Especially since I forgot to grab any salmon!

I’m interested to see how the boys feel this time next week, but I’m optimistic!

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Growing up my home parish for my adolescence was Our Lady of Lourdes in Raleigh, NC. While very modern in design, it was very traditional in liturgy and unlike other churches I’ve been to, the tabernacle was on the altar where it should be. I was confirmed there. Two of my brothers were as well. Two of my brothers also made their First Confessions and First Holy Communions there. My mother was active in the scola as well as a cantor. I was active in youth group. The first chapel for Perpetual Adoration was established at this parish during our tenure there. My mother was an assigned adorer from 3-4 AM (or maybe 2-3 AM) every Tuesday morning for years. My parents were also catechists there briefly.

We had holy priests and the parish came to be known for the “Dream Team” of seminarians and associate pastors that came through its doors in the mid-late 90s. One is my current pastor and my daughter’s Godfather. Recently a former associate who had been a Franciscan friar before deciding to become a Diocesan priest was named Monsignor. He’s also now the pastor of the largest parish in the diocese.

With all that, you’d think I’d have developed a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. But I never really did. I have no doubt of her intercession on the behalf of many who did and still do spend time in Eucharastic Adoration there. I know my mother’s prayers for a man shot at a local gas station and critically injured in a robbery contributed to his recovery (she also put in a prayer request card for him in the chapel which led to many others’ prayers as well) and that the Blessed Mother interceded for him. I know that it was miraculous to have this kind of parish available to myself and my family during a time of great turbulence for us spirtually as we left the parish my parents had helped to found and in some ways fled to this parish. My parents allowed us a small say in the decision to switch as to which parish we would like, I was in love with the local Cathedral but a small voice told me we belonged under the mantle of the Blessed Mother and so when I was asked which parish, I chose Lourdes, as it was affectionately known.

Even so, I never developed the devotion one would expect. And this in spite of the fact that as a small child I loved St Bernadette and was fascinated by her.

Healing. That’s what happens at the grotto in Lourdes. That was what Our Lady had Bernadette establish there. And honestly, that is what that parish provided for our family at that time. And maybe that’s why it’s hitting me today. Last night, as Ash Wednesday, I was in church #3 of 3 in our options. Honestly it was because of proximity and mass time. This parish reminds me in many, many ways of the parish my parents helped found. The one we left to come to Lourdes. The music, the people, the design…so much of it brought back very stark memories of my childhood. Memories that are sometimes painful.

After receiving the Eucharist and praying, I felt the lightness that I at first attributed to my fasting and then, rightly, realized was the reality of the True Presence there inside of me and my turning toward Him. I also felt like something had been released, let go of, in my heart.

This morning I prayed the closing prayer for the novena to Our Lady when that place name zapped me: Lourdes. Healing. I never had truly felt wounded but I realize now what my parents realized in some way when they switched parishes. We were wounded, our souls were crying out for something more. We were crying out for more authentic communion with Jesus. We were crying out for God and He sent His mother to shelter us and guide us and heal what was broken in us, before we truly understood what that was or even that it had happened.

It was not an easy or light decision my parents made in switching parishes. Everything we knew was wrapped up in that place. But once moved on, things started to happen. Good things. Another family from our old parish we began seeing in the pews. They had a daughter my age I had been friendly with at our old parish. Together she and I were active in youth group. Now her younger sister and I are busy raising our kids in a crazy world. I’m friends with a lot of my old youth group friends again. I am thankful to that parish and Our Lady for that.

In truth, I’ve begun to understand just how much I owe to this particular Marian appearance. Without me asking or her acknowledging, Our Lady of Lourdes has quietly worked behind the scenes to mend what seemed (in hindsight) irreparably broken. I literally owe the fact that I am still Catholic today and not Episcopalian or Lutheran or Methodist to her. She was the lifeline that the Father sent to bring us closer into the fold. And I’m sure that as I prayed the Anima Christi last night, she looked to her Son and agreed, “it’s time.” It was time for me to understand just how much she changed my life and how this image of her in front of a young girl in a grotto in France was literally me praying and staring up at her, even though I had no idea.

Now that that curtain has been raised…it can never go back down. I had no particular devotion that was aware of to Our Lady of Lourdes, but yet I was in some way always consecrated to her. And now, the devotion lives in me consciously.

Fasting and Praying and Ashtags…oh my!

Blessed Ash Wednesday!

I have to say over the years this has become one of my favorite masses and this year did not disappoint.

But first…

the day began with breakfast…aka a cup of coffee and five grapes. And then I took the kids to school because I had a conference with Joseph’s teacher. It was called because of concerns which we are jointly addressing and have a plan of action on.

I came home and set to house cleaning and praying and not eating nor breaking my other fasts :). I managed some online Eucharistic Adoration as well as several different reflections a full Rosary and Rosary of Seven Sorrows.

Just before the kids came home from school I also got in a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 pm.

William came home and went straight to bed so Joseph and I headed out to Mass. We decided to go to parish #3 of 3 which is actually the closest. Not a fan of the music there nor the lack of pews and kneelers (it’s impossible to kneel the way the seats are). But a huge fan of the priest. It was standing room only including a very large military contingent. For reasons I don’t really know Joseph’s never made it with me to an Ash Wednesday Mass so he was very interested in getting ashes.

These readings are some of my favorite, in particular the first reading from Joel. It’s one of those that hits me in all the feels. In a great big way.

The homily at Mass included the priest admitting he hates Lent and hates how it reminds us both of our sinful nature and our mortality. It was a really hard hitting homily that even the kids understood. (This is the priest who last year gave me one of the best penance’s I’ve ever had at the Lenten Penance Service at our parish.)

After Communion I found myself sitting with my eyes closed praying the Anima Christi and feeling the strange mix of joy and repentance that define Lent. I began to wonder if fasting was really getting in my head but it wasn’t. It was Jesus. There in the Body and Blood. It was feeling how it feels to turn toward Him despite everything the world wants us to believe that we can do it by ourselves.

We came home to find the rest of the house mostly in bed (except Shelby who would stay up all night if allowed). And I promised Joseph we’d commemorate his first Ash Wednesday Mass (seriously, how did I never have him with me in previous years!) the way he asked… #ashtag


#ashtag #ashtagdor #dor #AshWednesday #Lent #herrettashtagfabulous #waitedalldayforthispic

A photo posted by @recoveringpeoplepleaser on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:31pm PST


The Obligatory “What are you giving up” Post

Fat Tuesday was phat…

So, I happened to be off work (I work Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Valentine’s Day weekend..). This morning after getting three kiddos on the bus I headed out to the Dollar Store to get Valentine’s Day supplies for the kids’ card exchanges at school. I was pleased to find some cute stuff for St Patrick’s Day. Then I headed to the grocery store for our Mardi Gras necessities.


King cake and pączki…not homemade, as I’m sure you can tell.

So after dinner (taco Tuesday, the one dinner everyone actually eats), this was dessert.

So, what are we giving up? Well, the kids are, as always complicated.

William: getting new toys (this happens an embarrassing amount of time with his dad) and asking for them, youtube and treats at school (he earns “money” he can buy treats with)

Joseph: originally it was going to be electronics but that was going to be next to impossible, especially since he often has homework assignments that include some kind of online ability. So he’s also giving up youtube.

Kristen: I am giving up my personal facebook account and secular music. I’m going all K-Love or Catholic radio (when I can get the signal in my car and online). Also I’m trying to snack healthier and try to avoid meat whenever possible. Fridays for sure, but Joseph is helping me find alternatives for some of our other standard meals.

It’s less than three hours til midnight…let’s do this.

Losing Doesn’t Make Losers

Last night there was a football game. Maybe you heard about it.

I live in the heart of Panther Country. That is, North Carolina. It’s been a rough couple of weeks because I’m a Manning Girl trapped here in Panther Country.

For me, there is my team, the woeful Cleveland Browns, and then there are a few players I am solid fans of: Peyton and Eli Manning (of the Broncos and Giants respectively), Eddy Lacy (of the Green Bay Packers), Philip Rivers (of the San Diego Chargers) and DeAngelo Williams (of the Pittsburgh Steelers, formerly of the Carolina Panthers). I never root against these guys. The Manning Brothers vs each other is one of my most difficult things.

Technically the Panthers are the hometeam but again, never rooting against a Manning.

BUT, since the Panthers are on a winning streak this year there have been lots of “new” fans in these here parts. Fans who never much cared but now were caught up in the fanfare and add them to the die-hards and well, I’m outnumbered. So for the last couple of weeks my facebook feed has looked like this:


That last shot is a real road sign in NC.

Anyway, I’ve taken it in stride the way a lot of Panthers fans have ribbed on Manning and how the Panthers’ quarterback, Cam Newton, has been a firebrand that has created strange bedfellows. I’ve seen friends who loudly decry “Black Lives Matter” and the “entitlement of minorities” join the Rainbow Coalition in saying Cam doesn’t get a fair shake because he’s Black. Strange bedfellows indeed.

The real showdown happened last night and the Broncos defense soundly defeated the Panthers 24-10. And after the game, this happened.

To say Cam was disappointed, well, duh. To say he could have handled it better, that’s an understatement.

Fans are disappointed too, but the lashing out I’ve witnessed from Panther fans takes it a step too far.

Yes, Cam is young. He’s 26, however, he’s still a man. It is not too much to expect him to behave like one. Dan Marino was on that stage at 24 and he didn’t walk off nor give mono-syllabic answers. Today, we don’t talk about Dan Marino never winning a Super Bowl, in fact, many mistakenly think he did win one.

Today we refer to former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly as “Kelly-strong” after his defeat of cancer and his work on behalf of his late son. Rarely does someone mention his four consecutive Super Bowl losses as the starting QB for the Bills.

Cam is young, so hopefully, he still has time to learn.

In the post-game analysis, former players Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk discussed Cam’s interview. Faulk tried to defend Newton by saying that no one whose never been on that stage can be critical. Really? Like many of us haven’t had personal or professional defeats before?? That no one can be critical?? Wow.

Then when Sanders put the pressure on by saying this:

“You are the face of our brand right now,” Sanders said. “You can’t do that. I understand the emotions of losing. You can’t do that. A Manning, a Brady, all of those guys who have been prototypical [guys] would never do that.

“You can’t be dabbin’, smiling, styling and profiling when you win, so this is how you go out when you lose?”

Faulk responded by accusing Sanders (known for his own antics during his playing time) and Irvin and others of wanting Newton to be himself in triumph but be like “them” (Manning and Brady) in defeat.

Hold up. Wait a second. I don’t think Faulk thought that one out completely. He intimated that what we saw last night, the two-year-old going home with his toys, is who Cam Newton really is. If that’s so, congratulations NFL, you can my make my six-year-old your MVP next year.

Cam, buddy, I’m ten years older than you so let me tell you a little bit about the real world where people don’t get endorsements when they lose the highlight (to that point) of their career.

First of all, disappointment and broken dreams, they happen. Yesterday while you lost the Super Bowl, my dear friend Pat lost her husband. Another friend got news yesterday that the last-attempt treatment for her child’s illness, failed, she is watching her little one die slowly now. But life doesn’t stop or end when a dream is deferred, we move on and tackle the next mountain.

Second, life isn’t fair. You went into yesterday’s game knowing there would be a winner and loser. You ended up second best. When people say they don’t want their kids to get participation trophies, your performance off the field yesterday is part of the reason why. You are a father now, you have a son that looks up to you. He deserves to know his dad did his best and that his dad knows that his entire worth isn’t wrapped up in a Lombardi trophy. That old-guy you lost to…he’s lost twice before. That guy who got booed when the MVPs came out…he’s lost twice before too. You are younger than them and will have other chances. Think about those guys who came into the league with such promise and never got to play in a Super Bowl…life wasn’t fair to them either. Show your son in the future that losing with grace can happen.

Third, losing can teach you a lot more than winning can. You will never truly understand how strong you are or how sweet victory is until you have tasted the bitterest defeat. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” You know who said that? The guy whose trophy the other team held up…Vince Lombardi. A lot of eyes were watching you last night. A lot of people are choosing now to remember the season you had instead of what they saw in that interview. A lot of people want to believe you’re a better player and man than what they saw last night and that you have the capability to learn from your mistakes on and off the field and can be and do better.

Look, losing doesn’t make you a loser. Bad behavior, poor sportsmanship, those things make you a loser. A lot of us are hoping you prove us wrong and that last night was a one-off. All eyes are on you Cam–your move.