Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three Years of Bliss

On March 28th, Luke and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. I am so thankful that God has called us to be together...forever! We celebrated on our actual anniversary with a great dinner and fun movie at Cinebistro. I ate half a cow topped with a few slices of pig {it was an intense [double] burger!}, and Luke had salmon. Both were delicious!

But we started the festivies early by spending the day before our anniversary near Washington D.C. with my Dad who was in town for a conference. While my Dad was in meetings, we took a lovely walk, making stops for cocoa and cupcakes and then snuggled up in my Dad's hotel room to watch VCU beat Kansas to advance to the Final Four! That evening, my Dad spoiled us with a super fancy dinner with the other attendees of the conference. Luke, of course, said it was all part of his plan...he's crafty.

While we were eating dinner, Luke and my Dad were arguing over who was luckier--Luke as my husband or my Dad, as my Dad--they really know how to make a girl feel loved :) {though, in fact, it is I who am the luckiest}. Anyway, I just though it was really sweet when my Dad said,

"I am so blessed. I have five children whom I absolutely adore, and five children-in-law who are just like my children."


In short, I am feeling very blessed--as a daughter, and especially as a wife, as Luke and I continue on our journey of love.

But you seem so happy...

A few weeks ago we were out to dinner with a friend, and we were talking about religion--a frequent topic of conversation with this particular individual.

Since he is Protestant and Luke and I are Catholic, there is always a lot to talk about, and we enjoy discussing our faiths and challenging each other in a respectful way.

At one point during a lull in the conversation, my friend looked at me and said, "You are a happy person; you've got Luke and Augustine..." I was smiling and nodding in agreement, as he continued, "so how do you explain your fervor for your faith?"

Say what??

He wasn't being at all facetious. "You know, because a lot of people turn to religion because they are unhappy, and they want it to make them happy. But you are already so happy..."


To be honest, it took me a minute to figure out what to say. I had never been asked that question before.

After a brief pause and some rambling, I told him that my fervor for my faith is the result of being radically convicted by the Truth and that it would impossible for me to turn away from my faith without living a lie.

I also told him that I am not always "happy."

And that despite my passion for my faith I am rarely the kind of Christian that I hope to be {which creates a saddness perhaps less obvious to the outside world, but painfully present internally}.

And that all the good and happines in my life comes from God.

He went on to say, "In my church, there is just such an emphasis on being broken."

Hmm again.

As I tried to wrap my head around the disparity my friend was suggesting between being happy and being broken, a few thoughts crossed my mind...

*We are all broken to the extent that we are a fallen human nature in need of a Savior--Christ,

*yet we need not mope around because we DO have that Savior.

*We must not use being "broken" as an excuse for, or to justify, our sins.

*Am I really so prideful that I come across as totally happy and totally unbroken and totally without need for my Savior?? {I realize that is not at all what my friend was suggesting--he was actually complementing my devotion to my faith, despite not "needing" it, but it made me uncomfortable and I couldn't help but wonder if people frequently assume "happy" people are without need of a Savior...and how my "happiness" could be affecting others}.

So how do we find a balance between being happy and being broken?

How do we live authentic lives and show our weaknesses, while at the same time "being all things to all people" and sharing the Gospel joyfully?

How do we share our brokeness with others without glorifying our sin or causing scandel? Is it just as scandelous to be "happy" all the time?!

How ought one display their brokeness? Their happiness?

I don't have the answers to these questions. But please share your thoughts if you do.

For the time being, I am just going to focus on the fact that genuine happniess--true joy found in relationship with the Lord--surely cannot be proud. So I will just work on being more humble and trust the Holy Spirit to work in me, that how others perceive me--whether "happy" or broken--may glorify Him.

...But just for the record: I am broken...and happy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! Today is a special feast day in our house because of my mom {Patricia}...and thus, me {Andrea Patricia Clare}...and thus, my son {Augustine Patrick}.

This is one of my favorite prayers {most especially the part I bolded}. Enjoy.

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Making Me Smile Today

*getting 7 hours of straight sleep last night! thank you Jesus {and Augustine}!

*having time to shower and get dressed before 7:30 am Mass

*pancakes for breakfast


*this face

*Crafty Moms group this afternoon {hoping to finish Augustine's baby book--sigh}


*Being married to him

What is making you smile today?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Please Pass the Bread...

My little helper in the kitchen.

Latley, I have been loving baking bread. Especially the pumpkin bread and beer bread I am about to tell you about...

I know, I know, winter isn't exactly peak pumpkin bread season, but I could eat pumpkin bread everyday and enjoy baking it {and taking in the scent} year round. In the past, I have always stuck to using Emeril Lagasse's recipe, but the other day I didn't have one of the ingredients I needed for it so I got on google and found this gem. It's really yummy! We like to spread peanut butter on it--surprise, surprise--and cream cheese frosting tastes ah-maz-ing as well! {Oh, and in the case you don't need THREE loaves, you can divide the recipe accordingly. I baked two loaves the other day and froze one to enjoy later this month.}

Ok, are you ready for the easiest bread recipe ever?!

All you need is:

3 cups self-rising flour {do not use all-purpose...I may or may not be able to personally vouch for that}

3 tablespoons sugar

1 12 oz. can/bottle of beer {Newcastle tastes awesome! But any beer will work--darker ales produce a stronger-flavored bread}

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat an 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, beer, and sugar.

Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes more.

Wa-La! You have beer bread!

It tastes great thinly sliced for grilled cheese...or dipped in soup...or to accompany a tasty salad.

Happy Baking!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Staying Plugged In

With Lent right around the corner, I have been thinking about how I can grow in my relationship with Christ through new committments to prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving. While one's Lenten resolutions are ultimately a personal matter, I have enjoyed hearing the ideas {and encouragement} of other bloggers lately.

One idea that has come up a couple times is to fast from the computer {or the internet or social networking sites or blogging} during Lent.

I can definitely relate to needing detatchment from my computer...and each year for the past several years, I have implemented some variation of that fast {typically just limiting my time on Facebook to ten minutes each day}.

But this year, I need greater detachment.

I am not going to give up the computer/internet entirely {though that certainly is a huge sacrifice, and I support those who feel called to it}, but I am going to stay "plugged in."

Let me explain...

The easy part:

I like being able to stay plugged in to what is going on with my family and close friends across the US, and Facebook is a great tool with which to do that, since neither Luke or I live near our families. I love seeing pics of my siblings and their kiddos online, leaving them messages, emailing, skyping, etc., and I don't feel called to give that up entirely. {I do appreciate old fashioned letter writing and personal phone calls for sure, but it is so easy, quick, and convenient to communicate via the internet sometimes}.
Also, per Pope BenedictI's J.10 Initiative {you have to scroll down a bit}, blogs, status updates, link sharing, quote sharing, etc are great ways to spread the Word. {As neat as it is to see "Lent" pictures instead of friends' faces on FB, I do miss the holy inspirations these same people share on FB during the rest of the I will make a conscious effort to contribute to FB in a positive way over Lent}.
Now for the hard part:
I am going to stay, literally, plugged in. That is, I am going to plug my computer into the wall in our office upstairs on Ash Wednesday and leave it there until Easter.
Currently, my laptop resides in our living room 95% of the time. It is way too accesible. I find myself logging into Facebook 47 times a day for no good reason;
refreshing my email several times a day, only to reveal gobs of new marketing messages from the likes of Chilren's Place, Shutterfly, and CVS--clearly urgent stuff;
googling everything {how to peel a shallot, reviews on toys, substitutes for all sorts of ingredients, medical symptoms, new recipes, quotes, pictures of baby teeth coming in, directions, word definitions, etc etc etc}. I'm not going to lie, google is AWESOME, but I will be a little more selective about my searches when they entail a trip up the stairs and into the office, Augustine in tow.
There always seems to be a reason for me to get on my computer real quick, and, to be honest, it's really getting to me. As one of my favorite authors has said, "You can never get enough of what you don't really need"...and that is how I feel about my computer lately.
I know keeping my computer plugged in upstairs will greatly reduce the amount of time I spend on it, yet I will still be able to socialize online in moderation.
It will be so freeing, as sacrificing often is. And I will inevitably find more time for prayer and reading, among other things.
So that's my plan. It's going to be tough. But I know it's what I need.
I wish you all the best this Lent as you strive to grow in your relationship with God!