About Kristen

A 30-something wife and mama of 3 (so far) living out my faith (Catholic) in the southeastern US.

What I’m Loving Right Now

Books:

The Bible–or reading my way through it

Harry Potter series–I’m on book 3 still one of the best series ever

Apps:

Spotify– playlists are so my jam lately. High school, praise & worship, roséwave, and love songs…among others

Bellabeat–because I had to have a pretty health monitor. Inspires healthier living

TV:

Rewatching The Office, again on Netflix and just found Cougar Town is finally on Hulu but not into much of anything on the real TV except some of the Olympics.

Movies:

Can’t wait to see Wonder again but this time with the whole family.

And I keep re-watching Hotel Transylvania on On-Demand. I am semi-obsessed and probably need to write a whole post just on this one.

And Grown-Ups 2 because everyone else thinks it’s awful and so do I, awful funny.

Miscellaneous:

Adult Coloring Books (yes, still)

Confession

Podcasts (but fewer than before)

My quilt

Board games with my kiddos

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Reminder Why I Gave Up Social Media today…

Publishing a week late because I have THE issues.

My fast is social media this Lent. I don’t count blogging because I’m pretty sure nobody is reading this anyway.

Sunday’s are controversial in Lent as to whether we are allowed to “feast” on these days because they are always, in fact, feast days.

Jeff, my husband, in case you’ve forgotten, asked me to check something on Facebook today because it was Sunday and so I did. And went to check a couple of groups to see if there were any pressing things I needed to know. Yeah, I’m gonna tell you right now that I’m gonna take the “ignorance is bliss” route going forward with these groups.

We’re talking instant blood pressure raising, stomach clenching stuff. I’m tempted to say I will give up social media forever but know that that’s both unrealistic and extreme. I’m just glad I didn’t look at my feed. But for the remainder of Lent I will continue to do as Depeche Mode advised and enjoy the silence.

In the case anyone is out there, how is your Lent going?

Galentine’s Day Isn’t Lame

I’ve been a bit dismayed to learn of the poo-pooing the existence of Galentine’s Day. In case you haven’t heard of it yet, Galentine’s Day was a holiday created by the fictional character Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, on the television show Parks and Recreation. Leslie meets with her single girlfriends on February 13 to enjoy a meal and some gifts and each other’s company. In later seasons as Leslie falls in love with and marries Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Ann, her best friend, (played by Rashida Jones) eventually ends up having a son with Chris (Rob Lowe) and moving to Michigan, Galentine’s ceases to be the important tradition it once was.

So why do people hate Galentine’s Day? Well, there is the snowflake defense of hatred toward the idea. That basically says that women who engage in this type of gathering are too sensitive about not being in a relationship and so they are attempting to subvert the secular celebration of love with their own agenda. Personally, I think the butthurt people who believe this are snowflakes. What is so wrong about people celebrating friendship? Oh they’re annoying with posting about it and their pics? Well, no more so than the happily married or dating people who obnoxiously get gifts all day or post their pics and lovey-dicey statuses so I’m pretty sure y’all are even on that front.

There is also an argument that by having a day for single and unattached people we devalue marriage.

Have any of you who believe that load of bull actually been around Valentine’s Day in the modern era? The day may have been named for a Catholic saint but the celebration is anything but Catholic or sanctifying. In the hook-up culture it’s all about consequence free sex and how much “stuff” you can get. And even if you’re chastely celebrating with your spouse, is your marriage really so unstable that you’re threatened by single women gatherings together? I know many women who desperately want to be married and can’t seem to find the right guy as well as women who are trying to joyfully embrace a vocation as a single woman. And then there are those who are widowed (I live in a military community and this is very at the forefront ) or who have suffered through divorce. Is it really so terrible to let them have a fun day?

Personally, as a married woman, I like the idea of spoiling a few of my fabulous single lady friends with a special day celebrating female friendship. A nice contrast to the general sniping and back-biting that many female relationships can devolve into, especially in a world where we are set up to be against each other versus supporting and uplifting each other. A chance to celebrate our similarities not focus on allowing our differences to divide us.

I’m not “the right kind of Catholic”

In which I pretty much make everyone feel uncomfortable with my inadequacy and prove, once and for all that no one should be following my lead.

I put my faith ahead of my nationality. I espouse traditional values but don’t hate those who don’t. I pray for politicians I didn’t vote for because they are children of God the EXACT SAME AS I AM even when they may not appreciate that. I readily admit that I don’t know how to Catholic perfectly and therefore am not entitled to tell anyone else that my way or any way is best. I leave that kind of stuff that’s out of my pay grade to those in authority in the Church. I listen to contemporary praise and worship music. I married a Protestant. I am the daughter of a cradle Catholic and a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism. I wanted lots of kids but God stopped sending them after our third. I love adoption but I realize it’s not for everyone and our family will not be able to grow in that way. I sometimes struggle with Church teaching even as I am obedient. I’m not great at forgiving nor forgetting. I don’t hate Jesuits. In fact, I’m kind of a St Ignatius of Loyola fangirl. I love social justice as much as doctrine and liturgy. I love a theology heavy homily but I’m just as good with an explanation of the readings. I pick my battles carefully when it comes to what a priest or bishop/Diocese require for sacraments because life is short and I can’t fight every fight. I have opinions and strong feelings but I am careful when they are known. I witness more scandal being caused by people claiming to be righteous and fraternally correcting others (including parish priests, Bishops, and Cardinals) on social media than people actually committing mortal sins. While we’re on the subject, I believe fraternal correction should largely happen in person and between people who actually know each other. At the very least it should mostly be private. I don’t associate with Catholics exclusively, I’ve been known to be friends with Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists. Oh and I’m a sinner.

Mercy and Forgiveness

A few years ago a dear friend was in a horrific accident with two of her children. The accident report was chilling and one of her children lost their life afterward. In the ensuing investigation it was found that the accident was caused by driver error and also it came out she had been driving on a suspended license. Ultimately, she was not charged but the pain kept coming.

There was PTSD for her and her surviving children. There was a huge scandal involving people raising funds for her family (this incident has made me very wary of crowdsourcing). And her marriage did not survive.

Her faith lay as shattered with the glass in the street. She converted to Catholicism years before as a teenager. It had been an unpopular move among family and friends but she stuck it out, determined this was the Truth. Later many of these same friends and family would abandon and betray her in her most tragic moment.

Over time she’s had to rebuild her life and her faith along with that. The first Good Friday after the death of her child, she commented how close she felt to the Blessed Mother. She made many changes in her life that brought her closer to God again. But one terrible thing holds on: lack of forgiveness and mercy.

Not on God’s part for sure, but in our human imperfection, we often cannot come to be merciful to ourselves and forgive. Ironically, even for things we don’t need forgiveness for.

I have watched my friend struggle from afar (she’s moved across the country now). She is much, much better but those moments of grief where she beats herself up are brutal to watch. I can’t imagine how they actually feel.

Last night at a Communal Penance service, I thought of her when the pastor said that Jesus always has mercy and forgives our sins, but we also have to love Him and ourselves enough to forgive ourselves. It’s not easy in small matters, but ones like what my friend is enduring…

My prayers for my friend, for all those who are suffering for mercy and self-forgiveness this Lent. And get to Confession!

That time the Holy Spirit showed up at Publix

Wednesdays are my craziest days. After a full day of work, I have to rush home and eat quickly before picking William up at Science Olympiad and then we rush into the small-ish, city-ish where our former parish is where I still teach Faith Formation (until the end of the school year) and the boys attend FF. It’s a 40 minute drive each way and in rush hour traffic.

After class we trek home usually with no stops. EXCEPT…they’ve opened a new Publix on our way. And the boys and I love Publix. So last week we stopped in for the first time and tonight we went in again because today is payday and we are out of school snacks and coffee creamer.

As a treat, I promised the boys we could get doughnuts. We came to the bakery counter where we were greeted by the kindest smile and countenance. The young woman waiting on us’ name is Olivia. And as we started to give our order, her smile got brighter as she said, excitedly, “Who is on your medal?” I’m used to non-Catholics asking about my Crucifix but rarely about either of the medals I wear on the same chain. I assume it’s out of an over-abundance of politeness and wanting to avoid awkwardness about Mary and the Saints.

I reached for the medals and looked down saying, “This one is my Miraculous Medal and this is Mother Teresa,” as I touched each medal.

Olivia came out from the back of the counter and pulled hers from under her collar to show us and said, “I have St Lucy, she’s my Confirmation saint.”

She returned behind the counter to fill our order when I took a chance, “Were you confirmed at St Mark?”

Her face lit up even more which I didn’t think was possible when I added, “Was A. your sponsor?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed barely able to contain herself.

“I was at your Confirmation Mass,” I told her. I had remembered her Confirmation saint.

We exchanged a bit more before concluding our order and I was sorry the encounter had to end. We wished each other well and the boys and I continued our shopping.

Olivia had no way of knowing that we had just left the Faith Formation or that my maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Santa Lucia. Those details did not go unnoticed by me, however.

What Olivia did know, however, was also not lost on me. She knows the beauty and richness of the fullness of Truth. She knows the joy of recently coming into the beautiful faith I was blessed to be born into. And in that moment, when she saw my medals, she knew the overwhelming feeling of family encountering a stranger who had this amazing faith in common with her. And she knows something else…she knows the power of witness and evangelization. Yes, even our fellow Catholics need to be evangelized within the faith. It is far too easy to take this incredible gift for granted…especially if you are a cradle-Catholic. When you see it in the eyes and the spirit of someone who found it after years of never knowing about it and for whatever reason was reached in the least Catholic state in the nation, the Holy Spirit will take that opening and force in as much grace as possible.

I left Publix tonight feeling like I haven’t in months. I can’t fully describe that feeling, but I know at least in part I knew what an awesome God we serve and the simple joy of loving Jesus and letting Him love us back by sending the Holy Spirit into an ordinary encounter.

Shouting Into the Silence

One of my favorite songs of the past year is Lauren Daigle’s Trust in You. It brought me great comfort in a year when our family lost both of my husband’s parents, my grandfather, and a beloved pet. When your ten-year-old tells you it’s been a rough year, it kind of breaks you in ways you never knew you could be broken.

Brokenness is hard, but beautiful too. The beauty lying, of course, in the truth that it allows God’s grace to flood in and, if we allow it, to change us and bring us closer to Him.

God showed me in the past year lots of concrete ways, within this world, that humanity acknowledges the beauty in brokenness, like the Japanese art of kintsugi where broken pottery is repaired with gold, silver, or platinum so that the imperfection becomes beautiful or the fact that scar tissue is stronger than “regular” tissue.

And God blessed me in the midst of some tragedy with long prayed for things, like my current job.

I have felt a special connection to the Psalms in this time as I have often felt like David, shouting into silence and begging God to relieve me of the pain of the current struggle while simultaneously clinging to Him. God has taken me to some places I could never have imagined both wonderful and confusing. God has let me, like Moses, see my heart’s longings but not allowed me to live in them.

I continue to shout into the silence because the struggles still seem insurmountable some days. I continue to cling because like Peter tells Jesus,

“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)