Monday, January 30, 2012

Because it is Monday...

...and the list of candidates keeps getting smaller and less inspiring here in the American election, I thought it would be a good time for the reminder that politics and other things of Man will never really do...

G.K. Chesterton, an apostle for common sense
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution. 

G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News (1924)
After all these years, our politics still look awfully British.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Guns in Disguise

Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blessed!
I had the privilege of spending yesterday on retreat with the youth of Saint Martin's Church preparing for Confirmation. Let me tell you first of all how impressed I am with these kids. Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents: you have every reason to be proud. I witnessed prayerful homage to Our Lord, genuine compassion for each other, and rollicking solid good humor in these kids. They are an outstanding group of young people, ready and able to take up the reigns of adult Christianity in our Church. Thanks be to God for all of them!

Sister Dolorette of the School Sisters of Notre Dame put together the retreat and did an excellent job. Her stories reminded me, once again, that nobody lives life quite like a Sister!

She shared one story of two teens in a South American country, facilitating catechises in their village. The former catechists had been abducted and found near dead, yet these teens stood and taught their catechises even while government guns had them in their sights! Sister Dolorette described a Communion Service with rifles trained on the congregation, and asked the young man and woman how they dared. The man answered her, "If I wasn't willing to die for Him, I couldn't live for Him."

In America, Sister explained, the guns are not so obvious. The dangers are hidden and seductive. We are still in mortal danger, but the weapons trained upon us are subtle, even packaged as something to be desired. In our ignorance we grab hold of the barrel and dance with our own doom here, all the while thinking we are free.

So, in some sense, our teens have a harder time recognizing the dangers to faith, the threats to their very futures as whole and healthy adults. We live in a country that pretends there is no such thing as sin, except the sin of being faithful. These children are coming of age in a land where Anti-Catholicism is the last socially acceptable prejudice. They will have to fight to hang onto their beliefs. They will have to battle the subtle pitfalls of a seductive world to hang onto their God-given right to be Catholic.

And from what I saw yesterday, these kids are ready for it.

Please pray that all of our candidates have hearts set aflame for the Truth!

Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes

It's a small World Wide Web, after all!
The other day my husband's uncle (more about him in #2) posted on my Facebook wall that he'd been reading The Crescat on Patheos, clicked on someone's comment, and found himself reading an update on the very goats he'd milked himself. That commenter was me and it linked him to this! I hadn't started blogging the last time he visited, and I guess I hadn't mentioned it, so finding himself over here, reading about his own family was a bit of a surprise.

Click here to submit prayer intentions to the Holy Cross community

My husband's uncle is my youngest child's Godfather. He is also a Holy Cross Brother in Ohio. He teaches physics and is wicked smart, like all my in laws. He's fun to introduce as "My uncle, Brother David" (say it fast). It's also very handy having a Brother for an uncle because it's a constant reminder that there are Religious out there ready and willing to pray for any old body. All you have to do is ask. It's their job.

On a related note, I spent a bit of time over on Patheos the other day, trying to track down which comment of mine my uncle in law had read just in case I'd been a jerk. Although I find it convenient to be the same person on-line as off, occasionally it backfires. Since I don't have the mental energy required to keep up appearances in real life, I certainly don't have what it takes to keep track of an on-line avatar. What you see is what you get, folks. Hence the anxiety about the jerkiness: sometimes it slips out, like gas.
"Please excuse me, uncle Brother."


Speaking of being a jerk, I was being one the other day. There were tons of mediating circumstances: moving, an over scheduled calendar, interrupted sleep, cranky kids. I found myself saying, "Just because I'm being a jerk right now doesn't mean I'm a bad person. I'm just having an bad day" right before my husband went in for the hug. It takes a brave man to hug a bristling porcupine, but that's the one I married. He's all awesome like that.

"...and then the dishwasher threw up and one of the kids did, too, and the dog tracked in mud, and..."
As you may have guessed, we are all moved in to the farmhouse. (Back story: we bought an acre a year and a half ago, put a trailer on it, downsized into that, and then began a hunt for a house to relocate onto our property. We just got a farmhouse moved here, all house systems up and running, and are back on our land after 6 months of living with my mom and dad) (thank you again, mom and dad!) We're unpacking, rediscovering furniture we haven't seen in a year or so, and enjoying all the space. A few other things we are enjoying are the sunsets in the country, the sunrises, the quiet, and the neighbors. We have some of the world's best neighbors. Missed them all.
I've been cooking up a storm on our first, ever antique!

My husband invested in one of these beauties, fully refurbished, and I'm finding myself broiling and baking a whole lot more than usual. I think I appreciate beautiful things enough to work harder just to hang around them.

One of the things I missed the most, living in town, was milking in the predawn hours. I know I complain about the cold (because it is COLD), but I really do enjoy the routine, the peace, and the little chance to commune with the animals. I must say it's very, very good to be home.

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The gift of remorse

February is Autism Awareness Month so you'll be seeing a lot more posts about working with and around it at our house. I'm jumping the gun by posting this, but I was too happy to wait.

Monday, my 6 year old son showed remorse. It was the first unmistakable, undeniable, and unself-centered sign of remorse ever. He had broken his brother's beloved pop gun. With his brother crying in the background, I showed my Autistic son the broken pieces of the toy and said, "You broke this pop gun. John is crying because you broke his pop gun." He'd been smiling nervously, responding to the tension of the moment, but then his face changed. Tears welled up and his eyes darted to the room his brother was in. He touched the pop gun and then looked away. I seized the moment, drinking in the fact that here and now he was sorry. "Simon, you can fix this. Go hug John to say sorry."

My son John was surprised by both the tears in Simon's eyes and the hug. He stopped crying instantly. He's well versed in Autism and knows that the self-centeredness of his brother is not intentional, even if it can be hard to live with at times. Even though his all-time-favorite toy of the moment was gone, in moments he was smiling and proud of his brother being sorry for it. Of course it helped that I promised to replace the toy the first chance I got. The problem wasn't as large, the hurt wasn't as powerful now that Simon had showed he suffered over it, too.

Autism always gets me thinking. Forgiveness does not require remorse on the part of the forgiven, but it sure does help. When the wrong doer doesn't take up his own cross of remorse, we have to bear it with the thought that the person who should be sorry isn't. That makes the hurt a little bigger, sometimes a whole lot bigger.

I know that this is obvious. I know that you already know this, but some insights into ordinary things are bigger in real life. We get used to remorse in those who wrong us. We forget that it is a gift, that it is, in fact, optional. I am going to try to remember this the next time someone is sorry at me. I want to be thankful for it and not just expecting it.

Like my sons, I can learn.
Accept an apology like a gift...thankfully and politely

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Annual Walk of Ninjas

It's happened every year for 39 years. Every January 23, thousands of people, half a million this year, descend upon Washington, D.C., and barely make a blip on the national media's radar. Never is the media bias more apparent than when it comes to the Life Issue.

2012 March for Life
Now you see them...

...and now you don't.

So, I'm just doing my part to let you know the Whos are in Whoville. We are here. We are here! We are here!

If you marched, don't stop walking the walk. Here's something you can do today...

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Pro-Life Thing You Should Start Doing Today (Even if You're Pro-Choice)

by Rebecca Frech at Shoved to Them

Today was the March for Life in Washington D.C. and thousands congregated in our nation's capital to show their support for the unborn among us and their mothers.  It wasn't just Washington which saw these huge crowds, although you wouldn't know it from the news coverage, thousands of marchers showed up in communities all over the country to speak out for the voiceless.

I love their passion and admire their dedication.  Every year I hope to be able to join them, and while it hasn't happened yet, I'm sure I'll get there someday.  In the meantime, I've found my own gentle protest, my own uprising against a culture which is trending against the value of children.  Where our country is hardening itself against the beauty of Life, I've made myself a quiet spokesperson.  Being a parent is difficult even in socially acceptable circumstances.  It can become defeating when it seems as if your beloved child is unwanted by the world.  So those of us who value the lives of these children should say so.  

Will you join me?

Will you smile at the mom in grocery store, who is herself on the verge of tears, as her two year old melts down and she wants to hide in shame?  Will you look her in the eye and reassure her that this is temporary and that while this moment is bad that it does get easier?  Will you reach out to her and be the kind voice she so badly needs to hear?  Will you tell her that her screaming monster is beautiful?  Will you see past the noise and see their humanity?

Will you smile at the mother at the park whose child bears the unmistakable signs of birth defects or genetic abnormalities?  Will you look at her baby, the one others avert their eyes to avoid seeing?  Will you see past what others see as ugliness and see the beautiful eyes that reflect his mother's love?  Will you comment on the beauty of his spirit and the lovely joyous lilt of his laugh?  Will you talk to her and listen...really listen to this woman whose choice to carry her baby has made her an outcast among most of the people she meets?

Will you smile at the mom whose family seems too large?  Will you see in her 12th baby the same beauty that you would have seen in her first?  Will you be kind in your words and greet them in the library check out line instead of impatiently sighing as each child must run her own books across the scanner?  Will you offer to hold the baby as she fumbles for her keys?  When they walk past you in a restaurant and tables must be moved to seat them all, will you compliment her on how lucky she is to be surround by all that love?  Will you see them for the family they are instead of the spectacle they easily become?

Will you smile at the mother whose child has been lost?  Will you remember to speak his name and not be afraid to bring him up?  Will you look at those heartbreaking photos from the day that he was born and see not the dead child she delivered but the living love she lost?  Will you remark on his sweet face and the beauty of his hands?  Will you allow her to still be his mother even though he's lost to her?  Will you be the one who sees the mother when just the woman is standing there?

Will you smile at the woman whose womb is empty still?  Will you be gentle in your joy as her own heart breaks in two?  Will you ignore the tears she tries to hide and yet hand her the tissue box?  Will you let her talk about it for as long as the ache is there?  Will you be the person who listens to her pain?  Will you wrap your arms around her and love her when it's hard?  Will you be the smile she needed to get her through this day and not be offended if she just can't look at you?

Will you be the person you want to be in the back of your own mind?  Will you be the kind and calm voice the word just aches to hear?  It's funny how the mean and cruel words are flung at us without a care, but the kind words are held close as though their cost were very dear.  So take the time to smile  at all the people you run into today.  It's the very smallest thing, and yet it can change so much in the life of someone who needs to see it.  This is what we are marching for, the beauty we say we protect.  If all life is valuable, then we should behave as if it were true.  Will you join my little campaign?  Will you smile at them?

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

I am temporarily without Internet...

..because we have finally moved in to our home! I'll be back and blogging as soon as I can get the guy to come out and rehang the satellite dish that links our house to yours!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An interesting thought...

A friend of mine returned from a Bible Study with this gem...

We've always considered death as the penalty for sin, but it might also be a mercy. Imagine a world where Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan were immortal.

Pondering a world like that...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Husbandly Wednesday

Correction: Wifey Wednesday is up and running this week...goest thou hence and read all about it!

wifey wednesday

The Wifey Wednesday meme will return next week when Sheila at To Love Honor and Vacuum returns from vacation. Meanwhile, I am taking the opportunity to explain why I write to wives and not husbands...

I answered the "Why do you only talk to women? Men are half the problem!" question officially over at To Love Honor and Vacuum in the comments section of her Am I Too Hard on Women? post...

Like you, I write to women. Like you, I expect each person in a marriage to work equally hard at making the marriage work, but I write to women. Sure Ephesians 5:22 is hard. It’s hard to submit. In an ideal world we could do it and not worry about it. We have to work with our limitations and our husband’s limitations and work out how that is going to look in the very real world we live in.

But you know what I know? I’m glad I’m a woman! Ephesians 5:22 may be hard to work toward but Ephesians 5:25 is even harder. Biblically our husbands are called to lay down their very lives for us in love and service. I don’t know how to even approach that one, so I don’t write to men.

I don't see a whole lot of that manly type of sacrificial love going on in the Christian world, honestly. I see it here and there and it stands out like a jewel. My brother-in-law Brent, my own husband Andrew, and my neighbor's husband Timothy lay themselves down for their families like Christs, but I don't personally know many other real men: the kind of man who takes the hits from the world for his bride and children, instead of passively or selfishly making them sacrifice to ease his burdens. From what I can see around me, it is hard work to make a marriage into the reflection of God's love that marriage is meant to be. Sure, women have to work very hard to fulfill their role as the heart of the home, but in all honesty, men have the tougher job to attain the level of Christian Husband. Women and children suffer more when he fails in his duties, but the hardest job is his. Dying is harder than submitting. Period.

I think the temptations are greater for men, the pitfalls are deeper, the ways to fail are subtler. A man can look and feel the part of the loving, Christian husband and yet live as if his wife were his personal drudge. In other words, he puts her in the sacrificial role he is called to fulfill. That always looks ugly. When a husband sacrifices like a man for his family, it is exquisite and manly. When a wife does so at a husband's demand, it is a scandal. This is the little bit of truth behind the stereotype of the Christian Wife as Doormat that the secular world criticizes us with. It is this that they are pointing to when they say, "I want no part of that!"

But like I said in the comments section, I don't know how to fix men. It's not as if you can nag them good. What I do, what I have done, and what has worked for 2,000+ years, is to call women to become the jewel of love, the precious gift from God, that inspires better things from her man. What works to transform yourself is what works to transform a spouse: prayer, love, generosity, service. That's what I know.

For you men, you'll have to look somewhere else for the specifics. Here's a good place to start...

clock with burning fuse © Dvargfoto |
Five words jumped out of the sermon today – “The tyranny of the moment.” Does “the moment” ever cause you to do stupid things in your marriage?
  • You are so caught up in whatever you are doing that you are rude to your bride either in word or deed.
  • You are so focused on your immediate goal you don’t listen to her.
  • You are so ready for sleep you fail to give her the ten minutes of talking and cuddling that would make such a big difference to her.
  • You are so desirous of sex that you don’t take the time to warm up first her mind, and then her body.
  • You are so upset at being interrupted you don’t even hear what she said.
  • You are so desperate to get ahead of the bozo that cut you off in traffic, that you terrify your wife with your driving.
In one way or another, each of those is putting some short-term thing with no long-term significance ahead of the woman you promised to love, honour, and cherish. This sends a message to her that she is less important than whatever you are doing or wanting in the moment, and that’s not a message that blesses her or helps your marriage!
The term “tyranny of the moment” is very appropriate as we do give in to the moment. We want what we want when we want it, and we want to deal with what we are focused on to the exclusion of everything else. It’s easy to get such a narrow focus on now that we do things that make a mess of later; or, we fail to do things that could make later much better.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homesteading Stuff

A cute,
nubby eared La Mancha kid
one of our Nubian kids
Our milk production has been low for the past two years. Last year was almost a disaster due to the stresses on our goats from the heat and drought. The quality of the plants in the pasture is very poor. It's been a tough row to hoe for us and our animals. We are even considering selling our Nubian breeds to replace with La Manchas, who are supposed to fare better in extreme conditions. With another drought year on tap for 2012 we may have no other choice.

Despite all that, yesterday I made cheese. I was so happy to be able to make a wine and garlic ricotta and a mozzarella. For dinner we had a cheesy pasta made with 2010's garden canned spaghetti sauce. Everything but the rice noodles was produced right here.
This was the state of the pastures at the start of the summer.
Sparse was the word then. Bare was the word at the end of it.

Tonight, I have some stale breads to eat up. I will slice and toast some pieces, then fry them with more homemade spaghetti sauce and my mozzarella melted on top. It is divine.

Those of us who homestead know that there is no satisfaction quite as total as watching your family dig heartily into food brought into the world through your own labor, especially during a drought year.

For those of you who can only dream of homesteading, here is a recipe you can also try using store bought milk:

Wine and Garlic Ricotta
2 quarts of whole milk, 
3 tablespoons of vinegar, 

3 tablespoons blush or white wine
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cloves garlic crushed

The equipment: stainless steel or ceramic pot to heat the milk, stainless steel spoon, candy thermometer, colander, cheese cloth

How to:
Prior to the process place cheese cloth in a colander and place colander in the sink.

1) Place milk over medium heat until, stir constantly until almost boiling (approximately 195 degrees F).

2) Slowly add the cider vinegar while stirring.

You will see a change in the milk when enough vinegar is added. The liquid whey will separate from the solid curds. The curds will look like very small globules (a little like cottage cheese) floating in a yellowy liquid. If this does not happen after 3 tablespoons of vinegar is added, raise the temperature for a few moments before adding more. Over acidified milk will ruin the curd. Once the curd begins to form, turn off the burner and let rest for 10 minutes.

3) Pour the contents of the pot into a colander lined with cheese cloth and let drain 5 to 10 minutes

4) Add the wine, salt, and garlic (or other spices of your choice) and gently stir into the ricotta

5) For this step, you have a choice: you can put the cheese into a recipe at this point (or in the fridge) or you can knot the ends of the cheesecloth and hang the "bag" over the sink for an hour or two to continue draining. The longer it drains, the drier and more sweet it becomes.

Some ways to use it:
  • Make spaghetti as usual and simply add the ricotta to the sauce.
  • Prepare fusilli or egg noodles and drain. Coat pasta with 1 Tbs of olive oil and salt. Add ricotta and some minced olives.
  • Add it to make a hearty salad.
  • Make lasagna, of course! 

A ricotta will take on the flavor of foods surrounding it. It is made to be eaten fresh. Enjoy!