Blog Jump Start: Week 2

This week's topic for the Blog Jump Start, hosted by Donna at What if God Says No, is: Remember When? Christmas is in a week. What are some of your favorite memories?

39 Christmases to remember, and I'd like to do it in a nice, neat flowing narrative, but they seem to be coming at my memory all out of order. I think I'll just do a little bit of a stream of consciousness bullet list for this one. 
  • I don't remember Christmases too much before my parent's got divorced. The year they separated (at Thanksgiving), I remember that originally they had told us that my Dad would be at our house to spend the night on Christmas Eve to be there when we woke up on Christmas morning, but then those plans changed. I suppose it was to avoid confusing us, but I remember being so upset and disappointed when they told us it wasn't going to be that way.
  • Going to my mom's best friend's house one or two years on Christmas Eve (when we still were waiting for Santa) and watching Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (links to full show on YouTube)
  • Once we were no longer waiting for Santa, and my mom switched from a shift work nursing role to a Monday-Friday role, we started joining my extended Italian family on Christmas Eve. We filled whoever's home we were in (my Nan and her 2 sisters rotated hosting) and enjoyed snacks, cookies, and the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Lots of Manhattans for the adults to drink. Piles of presents. My big Grandma watching midnight Mass at the Vatican while we opened gifts. So much fun.
  • When my parents divorced, Christmas Eves were spent with my mom, and Christmas Days with my dad. My dad's parents lived on the west side of Pittsburgh and mom mom's on the northeast side, so after Mass with mom we'd meet in the middle and head to see my Dad's family. There was also a big family there, only here the cousins were all close to my age and so it was full of fun and playing. 
  • One year driving home after Christmas Day, it was just me, Dad, and my brother still, so before he remarried, I remember a horrible snow storm. I took my role as my dad's "navigator" very seriously and took great pride in staying awake while we drove home in the dark and snow. We used the phrase "that's an accident waiting to happen" a lot that drive as people would fly by us. I still think of that trip and that phrase anytime someone goes driving past me in a big hurry on snowy roads.

I got interrupted by the end of naptime as I finished that last memory and I didn't get a chance to come back to this until now.  Since that means it's now over a week late to post AND I still have to post this week's prompt, I think I'll just post this as is and move on. 

Merry Christmas!


Blog Jump Start: Week 1

Donna over at What if God Says No is hosting a link up for those of us who would like to get back into a regular habit of blogging. I love the topics she has picked already and am looking forward to joining in each Tuesday for the next few weeks. Donna, thank you so much for hosting! Please be sure to stop over to What if God Says No and read (and comment on!) the other posts included in this week's link up.

This week's topic is: We all write for some reason.  What's yours?

Given that today is also my 9th Blogiversary (and it's Donna's 7th - Happy Blogiversary!!!), a reflection on why I write seems like a great way to jump start things.

Nine years ago when I first sat down to write out a blog post, I really didn't think it would last a month, let alone 9 years. I had never been a journal or diary keeper and really didn't think I would keep up with it. I wonder if anyone ever really thinks it will last - did you? I am not even sure exactly why I wrote when I started - I had been introduced to the blogging world by Kristen of No Small Thing, who is the mom of a former student of mine. I had never heard of a blog before but before long I was headed down the rabbit hole of clicks that introduced me to this world.

When I first started writing, it was mainly to share every day things that were happening in my every day life. I ventured into some controversial topics now and again, but for the most part it was just life as it was happening. Slowly, as I experienced my reversion to my Catholic faith and for the first time in my life truly embraced what it meant to be Catholic, I began to write more about my faith and the experience of it. This space was the first place I was comfortable truly being 'me' and sharing my faith.

Then infertility became a part of my story and for the better part of four years, I blogged about the experiences I was having. I wrote as an outlet for all of the feelings I was having. I wrote to let others know they weren't alone. I wrote as a way to document my process of clinging to God with white knuckles, a God who I had just only really gotten to know and was determined to not lose sight of again.

Then infidelity and pregnancy and divorce came and here I am, somehow, still writing. I have often wondered these past couple of years why I still write - and I think it is evident in the scarceness of posts that I've struggled with it as well. For so long this was my safe space and then in the blink of an eye, when being brutally honest and baring my soul, my underbelly, it became not safe at all. It became a place I of which I was afraid; a place where known and unknown people wrote at me instead of walking with me; a place where my words were shared across the interwebs when I had not been widely shared before. Somehow great suffering wasn't worth passing on, but failure and the thrill of scandal was.

So, why do I write now? What is my reason?

I write because what goes here is a part of my processing of all that happens in my life. Never before a person who journaled, I am now. This blog taught me how to do that and the words that don't get publicly shared are either in drafts or handwritten in a stack of journals that I hold dear.

I write because I find comfort in reading another's words and relating to them. I write because I find value in reading another's words and being convicted and challenged by them. I write because I hope that this space provides that for others. I write to let someone else know they are not alone. Not because *I* am with them, though in shared experiences there is immense value in human solidarity, but to remind us all that we are not alone because God is with us....Emmanuel. It is as much a reminder to myself each and every time I write the words "He is trustworthy and so I trust Him," as it is to anyone who is reading. I write to share the realness of this life, this road home, of mine.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!


Seven Quick Takes


I have about three or four posts started on the topic of what it is like to be living in an "irregular situation" in a post-Amoris Laetitia world. However, they are all really long kinda-rambly posts that boil down to this one thought:

I am extremely grateful for the wisdom of the Church in not backing down on the teaching that those who are divorced without a Declaration of Nullity and living in a new union (whether civilly married or not) must make a choice to either live chastely according to their state in life (as understood by the Church) OR to abstain from receiving the sacraments. It is precisely being faced with this choice, choosing the latter for a time while I wrestled with the first, that held me close to the sacraments and ultimately led me choose the former. I am confident that had I decided I knew better than 2,000 years of Church teaching and presented myself to receive Eucharist when not properly disposed to do so it would have done damage beyond that which I can fully comprehend.

It's not mean. It's not unjust discrimination. It is Truth. When we follow Truth, we find God - the One who actually exists, not the one we try to make Him be in our heads. We then weep with joy when we encounter His Divine Mercy.

It's that simple and that complicated. But I am so exhausted of having situations like mine bantered about in the media (Catholic and secular, alike). I am especially exhausted by those who uphold a situation like mine and try to claim that it is unfair to us, and yadda yadda yadda.


Related to number One. There is SO much more we can do on this topic besides just debating over random and removed examples and situations. This is what Pope Francis means when he talks about the Church being a field hospital - walking with people is messy. Really. Really. Messy. It took me months (and I have plenty *head* knowledge needed to be able to make an objective assessment) of wrestling with this teaching and being able to accept it. Months of asking why I was having such a hard time yielding to what I knew to be true. No amount of spouting canon law or treating me like a black sheep was gonna make that time go faster. Also, no amount of false 'mercy' and acting like my sins were somehow not was gonna make it go faster, either. Sitting in the tension of it with me and letting me process it was the only thing that was gonna make it happen faster. I know I keep coming back to this theme 'round here, but honestly, I feel like I could write the next hundred posts about the need to authentically have compassion (to suffer with) and it still wouldn't be enough. So while I will try to not write one hundred consecutive posts on this topic, I'm willing to promise this won't be the last one.

Moving on :).

Well, that got a little more serious that I intended....hmmm...something fun, maybe? Do you like Star Wars? What about Calvin and Hobbes? If yes - enjoy this gem, and then (after reading the rest of the takes, of course!) click here and go enjoy the rest :).


Growing up Christmas was all about (well, maybe not all about, but mostly) family and food and presents. Yes, we went to Mass and I knew we were celebrating Jesus' birth, but other than that there wasn't much focus. We also always had an Advent wreath. Other than that, though, the focus was on getting the meal and presents ready. During my years of infertility, Advent often correlating with some fairly intense times of suffering and for that I am grateful. It taught me to focus on what Advent and the Christmas season are truly about, and in doing so, it has made this time of year look oh so much different than it would have otherwise. There is a quietness to our home, an anticipation that was lacking for most of my growing up and early adult years. There are many experiences and lessons of infertility that have nothing to do with now being a parent for which I am grateful, but this one might be one of the ones I appreciate the most. I see the world rushing around, it's loud and busy, and my home and my heart are not. It is refreshing. I don't have it all figured out and we've had a few days of 'way too much', but overall I do think we are on the right track and I'm looking forward to enjoying the fruits of this quiet during the Christmas season.


Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! If you are a Catholic, don't forget today is a Holy Day of Obligation - or better yet - Opportunity. And remember, today's feast celebrates Mary's Immaculate Conception (without original sin) in the womb of her mother, Anne NOT the conception of Jesus, which is celebrated March 25 on the Feast of the Annunication.


I am working on a plan to keep the momentum of a regular running routine going. Sugarbeet and I have ventured out together on local roads (with sidewalks, of course!) instead of just the rail trail system. The rail trail is great, but requires a car ride to get there and gets kind of boring. It's so nice to just head out our front door. I have a list of supplies (Under Armour for Sugarbeet, a weather cover for the stroller), and I'm hoping to be able to keep us both warm on these colder days. It's so hard to judge other than just stopping to touch her if she's warm enough, and I can't judge based on how I feel because I'm running, not sitting getting wind in my face. Do any of you run with a jogging stroller in cold weather have any tips for successful winter training?!? I'm planning on a half marathon in the Spring and maybe...MAYBE...a full in the Fall. Definitely a half, though.


If you are a follower of the private blog, there are a few new posts since the last time I mentioned it here. I promised to keep you updated using this blog, so consider this your update :).