The World to Me

To the world you may be just one person,
but to one person, you may be the world.

Happy Birthday to The Man, who is undoubtedly, to me, the world.

For you, on your birthday, I pray...

for many years of love and laughter.

for {lots} of good food.

for continued success in your career.

for respect from those around you.

for puppy dog hugs and kitty kisses.

and most of all, for happiness.

I love you, Man!


Thank-you, Senator Byrd

I pride myself on working to create a better future for West Virginia and our nation.
November 20, 1917 ~ June 28, 2010

From one proud West Virginian, thank-you.  So.  Very.  Much.
I pray for your soul, that you may rest in peace.

The Fountain

I found a parking spot on Hall Greer Blvd, just on the outside of Marshall University.

The quarter clinked into the meter as it told me I would have 1 hour.

I followed the sidewalk that led between the Science Building and the Morrow Library; I hoped I'd parked somewhere near the center of campus.

As I cleared the buildings, I heard the calm silence of a small University campus in the summer.

I heard the water, too.

The water that shouldn't be there; that shouldn't have to remind what it reminds.

As I crested the (very) small hill, I saw the fountain.

And I felt the tears on my cheeks.

As I took pictures and listened, a student walked by and said to the friend on the other end of the phone "see you at the fountain."

The fountain that reminds Marshall University what was lost; and what a community does to heal.

When my hour was up, I walked away, pausing as I began to pass between the buildings for one last moment to listen.

(If you haven't, grab your tissues and watch We Are Marshall.  It's a football movie, that's not really about football at all.)


A Priest Groupie

Sunday was a bittersweet day.  Not because it was Fathers' Day (that part of the day actually turned out better than I thought), but rather because it was a day to say good-bye.  Our Priest, who I love, retires tomorrow and Sunday was the last Mass he would celebrate at our parish.  He is from the southern part of WV and will be moving back.

I know now that it's not the Priest that we go to church for, it is to worship God and receive Him through Eucharist, but 2 years ago I was very concerned with who the new Priest at my home parish was when we moved back to Morgantown.  I even put off going to Mass for 3 weeks because I was afraid I wouldn't like the Priest and would 'have' to find a new Parish.

As The Man and I walked into the church on Sunday, my heart was heavy and I was nervous.  I have been through Priest changes before, but I never understood why people cried when a Priest left.  I understand now.  As Father Leon finished his homily, he first apologized if he had in any way failed any of us (yep, the tears were started), but it was what came next that truly touched my heart.  He reminded us, that for any of us who he had ministered to and helped, that it was not really him, but rather God who had helped us.  He couldn't be more right.  I have no doubt in my mind or heart that God placed Father Leon in my life.  It's no secret that my knowledge of Catholicism is still limited, but it is much less limited thanks to Father Leon.  Not only because of what he taught, but the way he taught it.

My friend Kate is a theology grad student and she once said that Father Leon didn't challenge her enough.  I very much see her point, I see how if I was feeling challenged and growing from what Father Leon taught, how someone with a background in Catholicism may not feel challenged by him.  Even The Man has said at times (after I've gone on and on about how a Homily made something clearer) that he didn't really learn anything new.  (The Man went through RCIA 8 years ago.)  Had Father Leon challenged them, I would have been lost.  I very well may have walked away from the Catholic Church to another religion because my (wrong) impressions would have been perpetuated.
This Sunday, we will meet our new Priest and I am looking forward to it.  And I don't think I'd be able to say that if Father Leon had not been a part of my life.  So, while I will resist the urge to become a "Father Leon Groupie" and following him all over the state to where he is filling in, I will forever be grateful for the gift that he is in my life.  It is just one more very clear example to me of how God truly does go before us.  Always.


Friday Fragments

1.  Monday's post and your comments gave me a lot to think about.  I feel like sometimes I take 2 steps backwards in my process of dealing with my parents' divorce.  I'm sure some of you are thinking "geesh, it's been 22 years, get over it."  And there is a piece of me that thinks that too.  What makes that hard for me is that I don't think I ever dealt with it then.  Not once do I remember anyone ever asking about how I was doing or talking to me about it.  I was the 'tough' one and the 'together' one, so clearly, I was fine.  I am just grateful for The Man.  He doesn't understand, can't really (his parents are still married), yet he supports me and challenges me in a way that heals me.

2.   Nicole, Mike, and Sara are coming tomorrow!  We are daring to have overnight company in our tiny one-bedroom apartment, and I am actually looking forward to it.  I can't imagine better friends to share a cramped space with.  On Saturday we are off to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  I love the zoo, especially the elephants.

3.  The Man and I are trying to make a decision about our apartment and how much longer we will call it home.  I'm not gonna lie, it's tiny 'round here, but the thought of moving makes my heart beat too fast and my stomach feel like it's gonna jump out of my body.  The last time we moved, The Man moved 6 months before I did and I got to pack an entire 3 bedroom house up by myself.  Then, when we moved into our apartment, The Man was out of town for a friend's wedding (I was supposed to go but couldn't handle leaving all of the boxes) so I got to unpack it all too.  So, if we move, I will be out of town that weekend.

4.  I just realized I never told y'all what we did for our anniversary.  We had planned a low-key evening at home, but while The Man was out working a Health Fair in the morning, I decided to search for a new place to go out to eat.  A restaurant The Man had been wanting to try popped up and I clicked over to see if they had a sample menu online.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that they were having dinner-and-a-movie night.  They set up the banquet room as a dinner theater and show a movie while you eat a 3-course dinner.  The movie was Dinner Rush and the food was delicious (I have pictures and will post them sometime this year).  We both loved it and are looking forward to going the next time they do it!

5.  I was really hoping with all of the conference shuffling going on in the NCAA that maybe WVU's new athletic director would decide to join the SEC as his first official act of business.  That obviously didn't happen and when reading an ESPN article earlier I've decided I'm okay with that for now.  The Big East remained intact, and ultimately that is a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few years.

6.  There are 78 days (or 77 days and some number of hours by the time you read this - check the counter on my upper right side bar for exact time) left until football season starts for WVU.  Which means there are even less days until practice starts and we get actual football-related news again!  I know most of you care less about football, and I'd promise to keep it to a minimum, but we all know I'd be lying!

7.  I might be crazy, but I'm feeling up for another Can of Worms post.  Any specific topic you'd be interested in chatting about?

For more Quick Takes, please go visit Jen and have a great weekend!


A Baby Giant works for the CIA

A few years ago I spent the whole weekend cleaning the house and ended up with a horrible case of back spasms.  To make it worse, on Monday morning I HAD to be at school because my class was going on a field trip and it's not a good idea for the Teacher to miss field trip day.  So, The Man agreed to come to drive me to work (it was a 90-minute one-way drive and driving while on muscle-relaxers is not a great idea) and just go on the field trip with us since he would be there.

He was about 4 weeks post-surgery (on his wrist), so not only was he not missing work, but he had a really great cast to show off to the kids.

On the bus ride there, he chatted with the kids and it turned out was a great help with taking the boys to the bathroom after the play we saw.

On the way back to school however, he engaged in a fun conversation with one of the little kiddos that went something like this:
Child:  I'm 3, how old are you?
The Man:  I'm a baby.
Child:  You're too big to be a baby.
The Man:  No, I'm not.  I'm a baby Giant.
Child:  No way!  You're not a baby giant, you're a grown up.
The Man:  No, really, I'm a baby Giant.
The child thinks about this for a second and then says:
Child:  No, you are definitely not a baby Giant, you are a grown up because Ms. Rebecca is a teacher and teachers have to be grown-ups and a grown-up wouldn't marry a baby, so you are not a baby Giant, you are a grown-up.
The Man:  Fair enough.  I'm a grown-up.

Throughout this whole conversation, I've been busting trying not to laugh.  I tell the child he is very right, I am a teacher; teachers are grown-ups; and I would never marry a baby.  I then turn and chat with another child while The Man and the first child continue talking.  I miss the rest of their conversation and the next morning at school this child's parent drops off and pulls me to the side, very seriously, and it goes something like this:

Parent (in a whisper):  Can I ask you a question?
Me:  Sure.
Parent (still whispering):  Does your husband work for the CIA?
Me:  Huh?
Parent (more whispering):  Does your husband work for the CIA?
Me:  No, my husband is a massage therapist.
Parent:  Really?
Me:  Yes, really.  Is there a reason you ask?
Parent:  Well, (child) came home yesterday and told me that your husband is a secret agent and that he was on a secret mission and was bit by a shark and that's why he had a cast on.
Me:  Huh?
Parent:  Yes, I figured the shark part was made up, but I thought the secret agent part might be real and I didn't want (child) spreading it if he was undercover.
Me (trying not to laugh hysterically):  No, my husband is definitely NOT a CIA agent.  He is however a big kid at heart and loves to play tricks and tell stories.  And a secret agent that got bit by a shark is definitely something I could hear him giving as a reason for his cast.
Parent:  So I guess I don't need to clarify that your husband is a grown-up and not a baby giant then, huh?
Me and Parent:  Hysterical laughter.

No, my husband is definitely not a baby Giant who works for the CIA, thanks for checking though!


What Makes a Family?

Six years (and a couple days) ago, a new family began.  No, not with a pregnancy or the birth of a baby.  But with a wedding.

Our wedding.  Our family.

As of late, the question 'When will you start a family?' has stung in a different way.  Not so much because it's really none of anyone's business if and/or when we will have children, but because what does that say about our marriage?

If we never have children are we any less a family?

I guess if we want to get technical, perhaps.  I tried to find a definition of family that did not include 'children' in it.  No such luck.  (It's kind of like googling NFP and West Virginia.)

But I ask the question again:  If we never have children are we any less a family?

I know that we, The Man and me, are a family.  We, our family, comes first.  Before me and before him, our family is first.  Every decision we make is made by what is best for our family.  Our family of 2.

And what about those couples who aren't able to have children?  I'd say the struggle of infertility can only be endured by a family.

So maybe Webster, and dictionary.com, and every other definition-producing-source-I-could-find disagree with me.  I don't care.

It just feels like such a slap in the face every time I have to answer that question.  If we haven't spent the past 6 years building a growing a family, then what have we been doing?

We are grateful for the family we have created.  And no, we do not have children.


You claim I was the one you wanted, yet you forget.

And you, you always said it was him that is your favorite, yet it still hurts when you forget.

And you, you say I could be yours, yet you forget too.

A six-year-old promise, still not fulfilled.

A lifetime of reminders that I'll never measure up, just got longer.

"Things will never change."  Yet this won't ever happen to him, or even him for that matter.

How many times do I forgive?  How many times do I forgive, and truly think things will change, only to be disappointed?

I have no more cheeks to turn.

His heart breaks a little with mine every time.  It's not fair.  Every smile shouldn't be dampened with tears.

Am I selfish?  Too sensitive?  Just delusional?  Is it my expectations that get me into trouble?  Is this my fault?

How many times can a heart break?


6 Years

Has it really been 6 years?  or Has it only been 6 years?  Both questions seem appropriate (no matter how cliche they may be).  It seems like just yesterday The Man and I were exchanging vows and starting this thing called marriage.  But it also feels like it's always been this way.  As I consider our marriage, I look at how things are so not how we thought they'd be and yet are exactly as we planned.  I remember my Nan (whose anniversary we share) telling me that some years would be harder than others, but that the hard years are worth it because the years after are that much better.  This year brought us many challenges that tried hard to break us; yet today, I say with confidence we are stronger than we were a year ago.

Six years ago, I couldn't understand how a marriage goes from happy to divorce (even though my parents are divorced).  Sadly, now I do.  And oddly enough, I understand it because my marriage consistently grows stronger every day.  There is never a day I feel it is weaker than the day before - harder, yes; weaker, no.  I credit this to 2 promises we made to one another long before we took our vows.  First, we promised that this was forever.  This marriage, a sacrament, wasn't something to be taken lightly and we are both truly committed to 'til death do us part'.  Second, we promised to never go to bed mad.  This second promise has led to some very late nights, but is always worth it.

Yet, in the midst of these late nights, when I'm exhausted and feeling like I want to give up, I'm reminded that giving up isn't an option for us, and in that small reminder, I am in turn reminded that I don't want to give up.  That this man, this marriage, this life is all that I want on this earth.  That without it, I have nothing.  That no matter where we do or don't live, what we do or don't have, or what we do or don't do, as long as I share it with The Man, my life is complete.

We truly strive to live Ephesians 5:21, "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ".  Every day, our marriage comes first.  Not me, not The Man, but our marriage.  And it is in the living of this that I understand how a marriage goes from happy to divorce - the people in the marriage quit submitting to the marriage, to one another.  And in this understanding, I thank and praise God for the gift of marriage I have been given.  I thank God that my marriage grows stronger as a result of harder times and not weaker.

On today, our 6th Anniversary, I thank The Man for living this life with me.  I thank God for the many gifts of our life together.  I pray for all marriages, that husbands and wives can truly live 'marriage first'.


A Little Luck for a National Championship?

West Virginia University announced the hiring of it's new Athletic Director today:  Oliver Luck.

A former QB at WVU and 2nd round draft pick (to the Houston Oilers in 1982), Oliver Luck returns to head WVU Athletics.

I, for one, could not be happier.  The quote "once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer" is clearly true in this instance.  And with all of the conference shake-ups happening (or imminent), I sure am glad it seems like WVU is planning ahead and not waiting until the last minute.

Not only does WVU have a new AD, we've also had a new President for a few months now.  My hope of this new President was that he hire a new AD who was National Championship minded.  Who wouldn't settle for just a winning season and a bowl trip.  My first impression is that our new AD is absolutely National Championship minded.

So, as Tony Caridi says, "It's a great day to be a Mountaineer, wherever you may be!"


My Faith Journey, Part 4

My Faith Journey Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

As I realized the physical symptoms I was experiencing were in fact due to birth control, I discovered NFP.  I had never heard the term before and my only experience with the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception was that it was not OK.  I didn't know why or what was considered an acceptable way to prevent pregnancy.  And then God gave me many of you (specifically Michelle, Sarah, and Elizabeth), and then, when we were ready, through Elizabeth, He gave us Alison.  We began our NFP classes eager to learn and trusting that it really would work.  At the same time, we began attending our Faith Group and found an amazing group of other young adult Catholics, who for me, would answer my questions without making me feel stupid (not in the least, in fact!).

It is said that 'ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice' and I feel this fits where I am at today perfectly.  I still have much to learn, but my soul is burning to learn it.  I don't know all that I want to know, but I love my Catholic Faith and the more I learn, the more I love it.  Sometimes I get frustrated, or feel less-than-intelligent because of what I don't know, but if I've learned nothing else, it's that it's God's timing, not mine and that I will learn what I need to know as I need to know it.  I have an amazing study bible, thank-you Kate!, that answers common questions and addresses misconceptions about the Catholic Church and I am enjoying every word.

The hardest thing for me right now is to not get angry and frustrated at the lost time and all that I don't know.  To not feel cheated.  But then again, maybe I should put this anger to good use of preventing this same type of lukewarm Catholicism from happening to another generation.

My Faith Journey is far from complete, but this is where I am to date.  I am excited about what more I have to learn and I am grateful for the path I've taken, for if I'd taken a different one, I may not be where I am today.


My Faith Journey, Part 3

My Faith Journey, Part 1 and Part 2.

Through the course of the Bible Study with my girlfriends, I learned that Proverbs has 31 Chapters and is a great place to start with 1 chapter a day according to the date of the month (just don't start with Chapter 30, it's a tough one to live up to).  I purchased 2 bibles (neither a Catholic bible, I figured most of the books was OK, right?  YIKES!)  One was a women's devotional bible that I still refer to and one was a great study bible complete with maps and a concordance (I do wish my Catholic Study bible had one of those, I think I'll keep those pages before I donate it).  I asked the question "What is Grace?" and wasn't laughed at.  (Grace is God doing through me what I am unable to do myself.)  And I stumbled across Ecclesiastes 3:1, and I clung to it as The Man moved back to Morgantown and I stayed in Martinsburg waiting for our home to sell.  While The Man was in Morgantown, he attended Mass sporadically with my family and I attended Mass sporadically and also went to church with my girlfriends.  And I started feeling a pull back to the Catholic Church, but I didn't know why and I was nervous that when I was finally able to move to Morgantown I wouldn't 'like' the Priest at our Parish and would not want to attend (see all about me, I clearly didn't get it yet).

I finally followed The Man to Morgantown at the end of summer, 2008.  It took us more than 6 weeks to attend Mass, we had all sorts of reasons excuses, but we finally went.  And I instantly felt at home.  I loved the Priest and we began attending Mass regularly for the first time in our married life.  I still didn't know why we did what we did during Mass or any of the history of the church (in fact, I still don't, but I'm learning).  And then, I was asked to teach the children's RCIA class.  I prayed about it and reviewed the workbook and figured, I could do it (sadly, it was about the level at which I was ready to learn and as a teacher, I truly believe you learn something the best by teaching it to others).  I had so many 'oh, so that's why we do that' moments as I would prepare each week and I so enjoyed working with the children.  I was so proud when at the Easter Vigil they were baptized.  Looking back, maybe I wasn't ready to teach such a class, but I will say I prepared each week for our class so that I would be prepared for it.

Over the next few months, life got hard for me.  I've shared a little with you all about how lost I felt and it was through these months that the part of me that was a lukewarm believer really started to take over.  I began using the concordances in the bibles I had and found strength in God's words.  I also searched out and found this amazing blogging community and learned so much from so many of you who are reading these words now.  I started to learn just what it means to be Catholic, and I fell in love with this Faith that I've been a part of but barely understood my whole life.

This past fall, I was presented the opportunity to teach the 9th grade Religious Education class and I thought to myself, can I do this?  Am I ready?  Do I know enough?  After prayer, and reassurance that the classes were based on the Lectionary and came with a workbook, I figured it was worth a try (and I had a coteacher with lots of experience).  I remembered what my CCD classes were and were not and it was my goal to create a different atmosphere for these 9th grade young adults who would be making their Confirmation next year.  What I learned was that, if the parents aren't putting an emphasis on Religious Education, the children don't either.  And I was saddened to realize that a new generation is getting the same type of Lukewarm Catholicism that I got.  But I was given hope by the student in our class who knew more than I did; who could have taught the class herself; but who enjoyed having discussions with me.

And then I decided I'd had it with the way Birth Control was making me feel and The Man and I were invited to attend a Catholic Faith Sharing group of Graduate Students and Young Professionals. These two seemingly small things, in hindsight, were the catalyst to where I am now.

To be continued...


My Faith Journey, Part 2

My Faith Journey, Part 1

The first service The Man attended with me was Good Friday's afternoon service.  Not exactly what I would choose as a first step into the Catholic Church, and I made him promise that if he came with me to that service, that he would also come with me to the Easter Vigil as a follow-up.  In my head, sure it would be long, but at least he would see what he would experience if by some chance he decided to join the Catholic Church.

Long story short, The Man did decide to enter the RCIA program and after much thought, it was decided that my Mom would be his sponsor (that's a whole other story).  The Man completed the RCIA program and was baptized the following Easter.  We talked about his experiences, but I didn't know what questions to ask, and I think he just assumed I knew all that he was learning.

After his Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, we attended Mass somewhat regularly, but by no means were we there every Sunday.  And soon after that I moved to California.  I slipped back into my habit of sporadic church attendance, and though I found a church, it never felt comfortable to me (silly me, thinking it was all about my comfort).

After graduate school, it was time to get to serious with our wedding plans and figure what we were going to do about our required marriage prep classes, and just what our wedding ceremony would look like.  I came across an article about Catholic wedding traditions that highlighted marriage as a sacrament and suggested that at the start of the Wedding Ceremony, the couple renew their Baptismal Promises to symbolize their understanding of the Sacrament they are undertaking together.  This really spoke to both The Man and I as we had already agreed that our Marriage wasn't something we were going into lightly and had already agreed that Divorce was not an option.  So one of the very early decisions that was made was that we were going to renew our Baptismal Promises at the start of our wedding ceremony.

Our marriage prep classes were not so easy.  We lived 2 1/2 hours apart, I worked full-time and The Man worked full-time and went to school, so the Wednesday night classes offered at our Parish were not going to work.  A weekend retreat was financially not going to work.  So I got creative and approached the Priest of the Parish we planned to join and attend once we were married.  (I was already attending, sporadically, but attending).  Father Brian agreed to let us utilize his marriage prep couple and they agreed to flexible with the scheduling to allow The Man to come when it fit with his class and work schedule.  Our marriage prep classes were great in the sense that the focused on very practical things - communication and money management to name a few.  They were not so great (in hindsight) in that NFP was never brought up (we were told the church's stance on contraception, but not why).

Leading up to our wedding, we continued to attend Mass sporadically, but were very serious about what our wedding day would symbolize and how committed we were to each other.  Following our wedding day, we attended Mass regularly until Fall and then wanting to beat the traffic back (following football weekends in Morgantown) became or new reason excuse for not attending Mass on Sundays.  We fell into our sporadic attendance routine once again.  This continued for about 4 years.

Towards the end of our time in Martinsburg, a group of PartyLite colleagues/girlfriends and I started a non-denominatinal Bible Study group based on Joyce Meyer's "Battlefield of the Mind".  Our group was made up of me (a sporadic Catholic who knew not much about Catholicism), a Presbyterian who had recently returned to her church, an Assembly of God's Pastor's Wife, and another lady who I can't remember her background.  I had never participated in any type of bible study and while it wasn't a group of Catholic women, or even led by a Catholic (the Pastor's Wife led us), it was truly the start of my Reversion.  I learned more about the Bible in those eight weeks than I'd learned in a lifetime.  I learned the context for scripture I'd heard quoted over and over again.  And, most importantly, I began to pray and study and learn.

To be continued...


My Faith Journey, Part 1

Leila posed the question "How did you come to know and really live your faith?".

She asked if "you were raised and catechized well by very devout parents" or if "you were a cradle Catholic raised in general ignorance of the Faith who later figured things out"or if "you are a convert".

As I read Leila's second option, I felt like someone else finally got it; like it wasn't just me, feeling like I'd totally missed something (over and over again for 30 years).

I absolutely fall into the cradle Catholic raised in general ignorance of the Faith, but I wouldn't by any means say I've figured it out.  I'd say by the Grace of God I'm figuring it out.

Let me go back and I'll share how I've come to be where I am now.

I was baptized at 6 weeks of age into the Catholic Faith.  I attended Mass regularly on Sundays with my family, and upon entering public Kindergarten, I also began CCD classes on Sundays after Mass.  The only time I remember discussing God or Catholicism outside of Mass or CCD was during my First Reconciliation and First Communion preparation when my Dad and I did my homework each week on the living room floor together.  That Fall, my parents separated and in March of 1988, divorced.  We continued going to Mass and CCD with Mom, but on our weekends with Dad, we only went to CCD.  I remember hearing talk of an Annulment, but I didn't know what it meant and through the years only learned that it angered my Dad enough that he walked away from the Catholic Church.  It wasn't until I was in college that I learned what an Annulment truly meant.

In Eighth grade, I was Confirmed, though I remember very little of the prep classes or anything other than that Confirmation mean receiving the Holy Spirit (whatever that was).  I knew the Holy Spirit was one part of the Holy Trinity, but I had no real understanding other than that.

In High School, I stopped attending CCD and started fighting with Mom about attending Mass.  She rarely gave in, but never gave a reason for needing to go other than, "You have to go to Mass."  Once I started college, I still identified myself as a Catholic, but I certainly didn't act like one.  I rarely went to Mass, I never went to confession, yet I received Eucharist when I did go to Mass.  A few times during college, I tried to get reenergized about my Catholic Faith, but it never really worked out, for one reason excuse or another.  I do recall returning to Mass one Sunday after many months of not attending and the parable of "The Prodigal Son" was read.  I cried many tears that Sunday, and though I walked away again, I credit that day for showing me that I could indeed return home once again.

When The Man and I started talking about our future and marriage came up, I told him that if we had children I wanted to raise them Catholic and that he didn't have to become Catholic, but that he had to support my decision to raise them Catholic (which in my head just meant going to Mass, and in my actions meant going to Mass when I felt like it).  He agreed to come to Mass with me and find out just what this Catholic thing was all about.

To be continued...


The Saturday Evening Blog Post

It's been a while since I've participated in The Saturday Evening Blog Post hosted by Elizabeth Esther.

I've chosen my post about my Mother-in-law written just after Mother's Day.

Please be sure to stop by Elizabeth's and see all of the other 'Best of May' posts.