This Lenten season started like any other for Catholics. We buried the Alleluia, celebrated somber Masses & began our fasting. With Churches all over simplifying decor, drawing nearer to Gethsemane. We are making our way through the desert when we hear the news that the pandemic sweeping across the globe is upon us.
Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. -Isaiah 1:18
Daily Mass Reading for 3/10/2020: The day of my tattoo removal
Loving the skin I’m in. I’ve gone through phases with this concept. Over the years I’ve come to embrace my milky complexion, my freckled cheeks, even the silvery stretch marks on my thighs but one thing I always loved was my tattoos. Continue reading “All Things New”
Sunday morning I bundled up the kids & headed to Mass solo while my husband worked his 8th day in a row. I asked my oldest to help me wrangle the littles & prayed that things would go smoothly. Mass has been an exercise in humility lately trying to keep my 18 month old boy from bouncing out of the pews & not having my husband there as usual meant I was on my own this time.
If you knew me ten or even five years ago, you may be surprised to see my zeal for God and the Church. Back then I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be a holy water keeping, blessed candle lighting, novena saying, rosary wielding, joyful Catholic.
Continue reading “I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both”
We had the first snow of the season here a couple of weeks ago and this year I am determined to change my perspective on the cold and darker months. It really was a lovely snowfall.
My family baked, snuggled and went to bed early. I laid in the dark wrapped in my blanket, basking in the incredible silence that accompanies the flurries. I listened to the flakes piling up and the sound of a plow scraping down the street. The next day I decided to make my Advent wreath and cheerfully clipped and gathered the beautiful things that grow and dwell alongside us in our little woods.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not known for my organization! I find it really helpful to have lists and routines for myself and my family. Even if only followed loosely, I find that it helps us not to be so scattered. Some things you can allow to fall off the list and defer it to the next day but others are a must do!
As I was discussing my attempt at a more orderly home with my family I expressed the importance of making time to pray and read God’s Word each day. I told my 11-year-old daughter that she needs some form of the Word to be part of her day, each day whether it’s a devotional, church, music, or Sunday school–That night I suggested we watch a movie about the miracles of Jesus together.
My preteen rolled her eyes and sighed saying, “Mom, I know all of those stories! I’ve seriously heard them a hundred times! I already know everything!” My husband and I chuckled as I sighed and rolled my own eyes with exaggeration. I regrouped and explained to her that none of us will never know it all!
Yesterday was tough. Really tough. It was one of those days. You know the kind. Where it all seems to be falling apart and you can barely keep it together. Where you run on coffee and adrenaline. One of those days that you just don’t stop. I knew there was a lot to do that day and wanted it to start off with some quiet time with God.
My husband is old fashioned and still likes to buy the paper. One morning as I was reading yesterday’s news over my coffee I saw an advertisement for a grand opening. In a nearby city, a trendy restaurant was holding a round of open interviews. They knew that once they were in business they would have a lot of demand but little staff. “No experience needed! Willing to train!” The ad exclaimed.
So there seems to be an expectation, especially for women, to freak out about turning 30. Well I just celebrated my 30th birthday and honestly I feel great!
Why the Neurosis?
In our youth obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have a negative view of growing older. Youth and beauty are seen as valuable and powerful assets. There are billions of dollars a year made on women trying to preserve their youth and slow the aging process with countless products geared towards health and beauty.
A lot of main stream movies and TV shows focus on the young or coming of age group. Young pop stars and models are just getting younger. Social media is dominated by smooth, filtered faces, posts lamenting reaching 26, and 30 things to do before 30 lists..as if after 30 you simply curl up and die!
Life continues after your 30! You still have so much life ahead of you. You’re still young, hopefully physically able, and vibrant! You can still have dreams, goals, education, families, new careers, new travels and experiences in your 30s and beyond. Lamenting 30 reeks of naiveté. Why focus on the negative when you’ve been gifted with another year of life? Think about it..the alternative is death. How will you deal with all of the years to come and live a joyful life if you attach a negative outlook to its natural progression? How will you react to 40, 50, 60 years? Be thankful! Choose joy!
Here are some examples of inspiring women that realized their dreams after 30:
Lucille Ball: The beloved sitcom I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 when Ball was 40.
J.K. Rowling: The first book of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 when Rowling was 32.
Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey signed a syndication deal for her hit talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 when she was 32.
Julia Child: Child was originally an aspiring novelist and didn’t learn to cook until she was 36! Her iconic TV cooking show The French Chef premiered in 1963 when she was 40.
These are just a few of many examples and I highly suggest looking into the stories of each of these amazing women. Age gives us time to have a past which makes us all the more fascinating!
Join the Club-
I don’t know if you realize this but most people are over the age of 30! You’re in great company with the majority of the world.
For me personally, I am happy to leave the tumult of my 20s behind. I’ve grown into myself and have shed so much doubt and insecurity. I know who I am, what I believe, I’m healed from my past, I accept myself, flaws and all, I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’m married, I’m settled, I care less what others think, I have the tools to face adversity with strength, and I’m looking forward to moving securely and confidently towards my future.
With Age Comes Wisdom-
I never want to be one of those women who feels like she wants to lie about her age. I want to proclaim it proudly and wear it like a badge of honor. I want to be like the women who proceed me and that I look up to. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, strong, wise. We know that life still holds many lessons and challenges and only when we cease to learn, to laugh, and to grow in spirit do we begin to die.
We All Carve a Unique Life Path-
Did I accomplish everything I possibly could have before age 30? No. I never did finish college or publish a book, I haven’t seen too much of the world through traveling, I haven’t perfected all of my skills or attained many of my dreams. But I did have a career, fall in love, help others, grow a family, and make some great memories. There is no right way or order in which to live your life. Some people wait until 30 or later to settle into a career or marry or start a family so they get their education and travel in then, I did things in a different order that’s all! And that’s okay. The good news is that there is still so much time!
No matter what season of life you find yourself in wear your age with pride, sisters! Smile and live your life to the fullest in each unique and wonderful stage, and know that you have the power to decide that the best is yet to come!
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future ~Proverbs 31:25
How do you handle big birthdays and milestone moments of life? What advice would you give to your younger self or the women who follow you about embracing change and enjoying the journey?
When I was 17 years old I got my first tattoo. I was at the home of my then boyfriend’s friend who was a tattoo artist and was getting black ink embedded into my hip in the form of a Celtic knot symbol. I did this of course without permission behind my mother’s back and was very pleased with myself thinking how smart I was to put it in a place that I could easily hide it from her. I thought I was so cool! Though the Triquetra symbol has been known to be used in various cultures and beliefs, what I thought was just representing the Irish in my blood took on new meaning later in my life. Little did I know that the symbol I chose was also known as the Trinity Knot and has historically been associated with early Christianity symbolizing the holy trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yes, even in my rebellion it was clear that God wasn’t giving up on me that easily. Indeed, he wasn’t finished with me yet.
The Seal of God
Ephesians 1 describes the seal of God as the Holy Spirit which comes upon you when you believe.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. -Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)
During my defiant years I was adamant about denying the Lord but, God in his faithfulness kept his seal of protection over me. As much as I may have tried I wouldn’t break the seal of the Holy Spirit. As much as I would resist, I thankfully couldn’t erase my name from his book of life. Even when I let go, he held on to me and I’m so grateful that he did.
When I was 19 I was in the throes of an abusive relationship. One day I was wearing a Celtic knot cross necklace, again for style more than anything else. I got into a fight with my ex which quickly escalated and I ended up punched hard in the chest. Later that night after the chaos was over I looked in the mirror at my sad reflection. Tired eyes, bloodshot and puffy from crying, a sore face that I couldn’t bring myself to take home to my mother, and a red cross shaped bruise where the necklace once was. I never felt more alone.
The word sealed comes from a Greek word which means “to stamp with a private mark” and refers to preserving and protecting the object which is sealed. I was quite literally stamped with the mark of my salvation through the cross of Christ. I kept the charm and when I left the relationship I held onto it for years in the drawer of a jewelry box. Just to remind myself to never allow something like that to happen to me again. I didn’t know it at the time but looking back this was more evidence of God’s seal on my life. Through my sin and the circumstances it placed me in, it was a harsh reminder that I still belonged to God. Though the harm of my body might not seem like protection it was. And it would eventually lead my soul back to a place of repentance.
Refined by Fire
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. –1 Peter 1:6-7
Soon after that physical fight another even worse one followed which lead to me and my daughter (barely 9 months old at the time) escaping that situation for good. It caused me to move home and rent an apartment from my mother which allowed my daughter grow up close to family and gave me the support I would need as a young single mom. Moving there put me back into my old hometown where I reconnected with my estranged friend group (isolation happens often within abusive relationships) including my now husband, and we fell in love.
Hindsight allows me to see that hard season as a fire that refined my faith, a harsh lesson and a blessing after all. It started a chain reaction of PTSD, anxiety, and depression which would only be healed by a relationship with the Lord and without those humbling factors I might have continued to convince myself that I didn’t need him.
So many things happened because of that difficult time in my life that made me who I am today. It lead me back to my faith which is now the foundation of my life and the source of the joy I am blessed to now experience daily. It’s funny to me that both of these significant “marks”, the tattoo and the bruise, had the common theme of Celtic knots. God planned it that way so I would know for sure that it was him.
As I was writing this post I received a pair of earrings in the mail from my Dad for my upcoming 30th birthday-Celtic crosses! The emblems though they remained the same in each situation have been transformed. Just like God gave new names to people changed by his grace in the scriptures, so these symbols and experiences take on new meaning to me in the light of God’s love. No matter how hard our battle, we can turn our trials into inspiration and the symbols of our struggles into symbols of our strength.
How have your trials refined you? How has God made his mark on your life?
If you or someone you know are in an abusive situation help is available. It is possible to move on, heal, and live a better life!