Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seven Fat Takes Tuesday

OK, so I'm WAY out of synch for the "Seven Quick Takes Friday" meme. I hope Jennifer from Conversion Diary won't mind too much if I post one today. I have several small items I want to share, and I will link this back to Jennifer; although I'm not sure whether to link to last Friday's post or wait until she posts a new one!


Baby Gianna
The Archbolds over at Creative Minority Report have started a week-long series telling the true story of Baby Gianna. They've posted the first two parts already; please click on the links below and read this beautiful and moving story. It will bring tears to your eyes.

Baby Gianna, Part One
Baby Gianna, Part Two

I will try to post the links to the rest of the story in the coming days. I am looking forward to seeing how this one unfolds, even though it's heartbreaking.


From Baptist to Catholic
I've finally started working on my conversion story. So far it takes up two pages of a Word document (single-spaced, font size 11), and that's only the Baptist part. I'm afraid I'm going to have to do some editing, and I'll most likely post it in two parts here (hopefully no more than that) once I finish. It's taken me almost fourteen years, but I'm glad to be finally getting around to putting my personal spiritual journey in writing.

Why, you may ask, did you finally decide to do this? I needed a little push from a fellow Catholic. The other day on Twitter, I received a "tweet" from Mr. Happy Catholic, asking me if I had ever posted my conversion story. When I said no, he reminded me that folks are inspired by other people's stories of faith. Happy, aka Sieu-Hoa Thoi, has a web site full of helpful links for Cahtolics, as well as his own story of faith. Check it out here.

(If you want to follow moi on Twitter, click here! I think my next blog challenge will be to figure out how to put a Twitter link on my sidebar...)


40 bags in 40 days? With Lent only one day away, I've been trying to come up with unique ways to observe Lent, and really take advantage of these days of fasting to grow closer to God. About halfway through Lent last year, I came across a post much like this one, encouraging Cahtolics to shed themselves of extra "stuff" by getting rid of one trash bag of items every day for the 40 days of Lent. When Danielle Bean invited others to take up the challenge this year, I decided to give it a whirl.

You might also want to check out this post from Erin at And Sometimes Tea; she has some great ideas on how the 40 Bags Challenge can help us in our spiritual journey.


Besides getting rid of stuff I have some other things I'm planning to do during Lent. I want to go to Mass every day, unless I'm substituting or have other obligations. Often I use the "too much to do" excuse, so I'm looking forward to pausing for those extra 30 minutes to spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist. I also plan to stay off the computer for most of the day--I can't seem to bring myself to completely give up Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger, so I'm going to allow myself computer time BEFORE 6:30 am and AFTER 8:30 pm, but no later than 10:30. (Maybe that's lame, but last year Lino Rulli from the Catholic Guy Radio show gave up eating lunch at Chipotle, but ONLY on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I rest my case.) If I need to order something online, send emails, etc. hopefully I will have the self discipline to do so during those times. That will leave less time for reading and writing blogs and playing on Facebook; I have my phone for Twitter, so for the time being I'll give myself that little pleasure during the day since I usually only "tweet" when I'm having down time anyway. Besides, my "peeps" are mostly Catholic bloggers and journalists, with a few politicians and MSM reporters thrown in (mostly from Fox News...) Lastly, I am giving up alcoholic beverages, ...EXCEPT... If beer and wine is served at my brother's wedding and/or rehersal dinner in March, I will allow myself to imbibe just a litte bit. Like one or two drinks at most; that's about all I usually have anyway.


40 Days for Life If you have never participated in the 40 Days for Life campaign, check it out! It's 40 days of prayer and fasting for the unborn. The few hours I have spent praying in front of abortion clinics have been extremely rewarding. It changes hearts and minds. Women decide to give life to their babies, Planned Parenthood employees quit their jobs and join the pro-life movement, and abortion mills close their doors for good. God is doing great work through this grass-roots movement, and founder David Bereit and his wife Margaret are two of my personal heroes. I am proud to know them.


Snow, snow, and more snow!
What else can I say? It's beautiful, and a big hassle at the same time. Our kids have been to school only four days in the last 2 1/2 weeks. This morning we woke up to another two inches on the ground--another snow day. Below are some of the pictures I've taken in the last few weeks:
Someone told me that it looks like the tree is bending over to pick up the branch that fell down.
"Winky" has found shelter from all the snow underneath our shed.


Father Leo and Fajitas
The other day I pulled a hunk of local grass-fed London Broil steak out of my freezer. Since London Broil happens to be on sale at the grocery store this week, I decided to go pick up a few more and cook them up (on our indoor grill--too much snow on our deck for outside grilling); and to try to make Father Leo Patalinghug's semi-famous Fusion Fajitas. Months and months ago I posted a video of Father Leo whipping up those babies, but I never could find a recipe in writing. One person left a comment on that post listing the ingredients for a marinade for the steaks, but I never did try it. So yesterday I went over to Google and typed in "father leo," and several search options popped up, the second one being "father leo fajita recipe." I clicked on that, and guess what the first listing was? Go on, guess. That's right; my own post! Pretty cool. You can try it for yourself, or check out that blog post here.

I still haven't found a written recipe for those fajitas. I decided to print out the ingredients left by Leann in my comment box, but when I began gathering up my ingredients I realized I didn't have any soy sauce! Grrr... I still haven't made them. I cooked the steaks, though, and they were delicious! (Fajitas on Thursday with the leftover steak and chicken from tonight. Not fusion, but hopefully good.)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Presentation of...Phil?

I love the movie "Groundhog Day." Every year I wake my kids up in the morning with, "Wake up! iiiiIIITT'SSS----- GROUNDHOG DAY!!!!" (The boys don't know what the heck has gotten into me, but I'm happy to say that we finally put the movie on our Netflix queue to watch for our weekly Family Movie Night. With luck, they'll be quoting the movie before this month is out.) The other day I was pondering the film's message (actually, for years I didn't realize it even had one), and realized that many of us live our lives much like Phil Connors: we wake up and face each day with a sense of dread knowing that it will be very much like the day before--and tomorrow will be just like today. It isn't until we begin to open our eyes to the small joys in our lives that we begin to look forward to another day of work, school, chores, messes to clean up, and the frustrations and challenges we're bound to face. Phil wakes up every day, and it's always Groundhog day, and he always finds himself stuck in the little town of Punxatawney with the same people he can't stand, doing the same things day after day, and having the same conversations; and to make matters worse, the woman he loves blows him off over and over and over. Pretty soon he's so depressed he kills himself--only to wake up the next morning to live the same day all over again. After several suicide attempts he finally decides to make the best of his situation. He learns to play the piano. He begins to treat the people around him with kindness. He decides that his beautiful collegue who won't give him the time of day will someday love him back, and it's that hope that keeps him going. Every day he gets to know her a little bit more, until finally, one Groundhog Day, she falls in love with him. He realizes that the mundane things in life are often the things that give us the most joy. (Just like in the movie, "UP;" when the little boy says, "It's the boring stuff I remember the most.")

I've always thought Groundhog Day was a silly holiday. When the guy in the top hat pulls Phil the Groundhog out of the little box, there are TV lights shining in his face; of course he's going to see his shadow! Why does everyone make a big deal of Groundhog Day? I suppose it marks the halfway point between fall and spring; we've lived through winter for six weeks, so we can make it for six more. Sure, it's fun, but you've gotta admit, kinda pointless.

It was only this morning that I realized that Groundhog Day falls on the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Forty days after Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph brought the infant to the temple to dedicate Him to God. (Click here to see today's readings.) I love the mental images of Mary and Joseph bringing their little baby into the temple, with their two turtledoves in a cage to offer for sacrifice. Here's an old man praying; when he notices the Holy Family, he humbly asks the teenage mother if he can hold the child. When he looks upon the face of Jesus, he recognizes the Messiah and offers prayers of thanksgiving to God. I wonder what Mary was thinking at this moment? She knew her child was the Son of God, but did she have any inkling of the suffering he would endure in order to save mankind from their sins?

Years ago this was apparently quite an important feast day in the Church but for whatever reason, it seems to have lost its significance. Now on February 2, we wait in joyful hope that Punxatawney Phil won't see his shadow predict an early spring. Is Grounhog Day the Pagan version of the Presentation? Hmmm...I wonder....

Today on The Catholics Next Door radio show, Greg Willits remarked that even though Groundhog Day is a fun holiday, the Presentation of Christ is much more interesting. I certainly agree! Maybe next February 2, I'll rouse the boys with "WAKE UP! iiiiIIIITTT'SS....PRESENTATION DAY!!!" Somehow that doesn't seem as funny, but it's definitely a better reason to celebrate.
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