Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm going once, going twice, I'm sold! on the lady in the second row!

Have you done your good deed for the day? The week? The month? The year?

Well, have I got an idea for you!

Leila has introduced us all to Reece's Rainbow, which is an adoption ministry that works to raise money, awareness, and support for children with special needs who are waiting oh-so-patiently for their families to find them.

The children that are featured just break my heart, because they have so much love to give... yet they are sitting in an "orphanage" (better known as institutions) where they don't receive adequate care and not nearly enough hugs and kisses that every child deserves.

One of these sweet kiddos is Andrew, who spends each and every day in a crib!!!! Before you get all emotional, I have some good news - praise the Lord for the Spivey family, that cannot wait to bring him home!  What little boy wouldn't want to live with sisters and a brother, with goats to pet, and little chickies and ducklings to play with and so much more!!

However, they need our help! Adoptions are expensive... really expensive. To help defray some of the costs, they are holding an auction right.this.very.second. out on Facebook, where the bidding is getting crazy!  ALL of the items were donated, so all of the proceeds go to help bring Andrew home!

How can you help?


There are some great items up for bid, and again, all the money goes to help Andrew come home!

In my not-so-humble opinion (IMNSHO?), one of the best items out there is this here blanket:

Made by yours truly.
That's right. I will make you a one-of-a-kind homemade blanket, for you to snuggle up with your honey or kiddos or just by yourself with a mug of hot chocolate.

The current high bid is $75, but it's worth so much more than that, because along with a specialized blanket, you also get lots of prayers for your own special intention as I tie each one of those knots - that is a lot of knots!

So what are you waiting for!? Go bid on the blanket, or any of the other ~150 items!

But, wait, that's not all!

If you call within the next 20 minutes...

Wait, wrong advertisement (I said that with the British pronunciation in my head... go ahead, say it like them - ad-ver-tɪs-ment)...

Are you stuck in a bidding war for a one-of-a-kind blanket made just for you or someone you love?

Well, guess what?

TWO blankets have been donated to be auctioned off, awarded to the two highest bidders! We're talking a lot of knots here, people. Come on, you know you want to bid away!

Why are you still reading this post - why haven't you hopped over to the auction or to Andrew's page to donate directly?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Christ, My Wingman (Being Single Series)

I enjoyed reading Julie's post because as a single woman who is not in a relationship, it is very easy for me to forget that single women who are in relationships or engaged also still struggle with things like loneliness. It is a great reminder that we all need to seek Christ as our center, no matter what our current Facebook relationship status is.


The morning after my future sister’s wedding, my fiance and I attended the family brunch and were asked the question: short or long engagement?

B. said “short” and I said “long” – the listeners laughed.

We’ve been engaged for eight months now; four more months to go. It’s been a struggle intertwined with the joy of deepening our relationship and connections. As B. prepares to apply for residencies, I’m working, planning our wedding and preparing to transition into married life. We’ve made budgets and meshed five year plans. I’ve decided to delay grad school and he’s studied for and taken test after test following each rotation.

And that’s love, we’ve been told – let each struggle bring you closer together and closer to God, they say. But those practicalities are not even the hardest part for us. No, the hardest part of our engagement is that we’re still single people.

We’re long-distance and living with our families. B.’s weekends are usually on call and I try to balance my schedule with his. I’m squirreling away my income so we don’t have to take out anymore loans. We’re preparing to join two lives, two finances, two kinds of dish washing preferences and styles and prayer lives and quirks together into one union.

We’re single and we’re engaged and we’re ready to be married in a very real and literal way. This is our struggle, and there is a profound loneliness no amount of hand holding, night prayers or assurances of love can quench. This is why we both need Christ.

In Song of Solomon, it reads:
Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave me no answer. “I will rise ow and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.” I sought him, and found him not. The watchmen found me, as they went about the city. “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” Scarcely has I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house… I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please” (3:1-5).
In these verses, I see my own beloved, and think of our chance meeting; I also see Christ in them. I experienced many heart wrangles before experiencing such human love, and I am of the firmest persuasion that B. and I met when we did because of Christ’s divine love for us.

Many single people desire to marry but do not first seek the peace of Christ first. Too often, God becomes an acquaintance when he should be a wingman.

In 1979, Blessed John Paul II addressed young people in Madison Square Garden. He told them that the meaning of life is to know Christ:
When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ who is the fullness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world and the of the United States, look to Christ.
In the midst of my engagement, as I pray thanksgiving to God for my intended, I also talk to Christ about our struggles. Even in an engagement, there is a lot of loneliness. There are times we cannot talk, we cannot comfort, and we cannot be with each other. We cannot yet share many the ordinary movements which make up life. Still, this time is not wasted and it is needed. I am glad the Church requires at least six months for the engagement period. I am glad we struggle with temptation instead of trivializing it. I am glad that we can help carry this cross with Christ.

It is in Christ that I first loved B. It is in Christ that I love him and others. It is only in Christ whom I can rest my heart. It is him whom my soul seeks, and one is never truly single when Christ is with you.

Christ, my Lord! Christ, my Savior! Christ, my wingman! Pray for us! Be with us! We’re in it for the long haul.

This post was also written for Ignitum Today, check it out!

Julie and her fiance, B.!

Julie is a 20-something passionate Roman Catholic who blogs at The Corner with a View. You also might have read her writing as one of the Bright Maidens and over at Ignitum Today and Creative Minority Report.  In case you missed it, Julie is engaged to be married to B. [why yes, that is his real name ;)] at the end of this year. Julie hails from one of the greatest states ever, which makes her pretty cool.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rest in Him (Being Single Series)

I love Trista's short and sweet reflection.  It's a great reminder to all of us - especially those of us who are single - that we will be restless unless we rest in God alone.


Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? - Matthew 6:27

For the past few months, I have been worrying a problem to death, mulling it over and over again. Just when I thought I was done - bam! Back in worry mode.

The Lord has been with me every step, though I couldn't always hear him because of all my chattering. He tried to help me come at the problem in a variety of ways, and yet I still allowed myself to get worked up and distressed.

Finally, He got blunt, in a message surely meant for me, but useful for all single ladies and gents.

"Little girl*," He said, "when was the last time I told you to obsessively worry about some future event and how it will happen or how it might not happen?"

"Well, Lord," I sighed, "never."

"Exactly. Come rest in me, and I will give you my strength for what I have called you to do."

If you are obsessively pondering the single state, stop! Take a deep breath. Rest in the Lord. We are called to live in the moment. We are called to do His will, here and now. Let Him take on all our worries and cares. What He calls us to do, we will surely fulfill, if we just rest in Him.

*Please note this is usually how I feel the Lord addresses me and has no derogatory connotation. The Lord's words "Talitha koum" meaning "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" (in Mark 5) always resounds deeply with my soul.


Trista is a young adult Catholic who blogs at not a minx and is one of the Bright Maidens. She lives in New York, and has a special devotion to St. Joseph and St. Raphael. Some of her most popular posts include handling break-ups - Catholic style! - and her current long-distance relationship with her beau. Trista loves to travel, including all the way to the DC area to meet two other pretty cool Catholic ladies!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Being Single Series!

I wrote recently about how being single is a choice. No, it's not a choice that I make because it's oh-so-fun, but it's a choice that I make because it's what is good for me. Knowing this though doesn't make being single any easier.

There is so much that I love about being single, and at the same time, there is so much that I hate about it.
Love: having time to myself (introvert alert!); being able to do what I want/need to do any time I want; not having to be bear the responsibility of taking care of anyone else; being able to come home from a long day at work and plop on the couch and watch whatever television show I want to watch (after growing up in a family of six, it's nice not to have to fight over the remote); being able to spend what I earn on the things I want/need; that feeling of independence of being able to take care of myself; being able to hold and cuddle other people's babies while still being able to hand them over to momma when they have a dirty diaper
Hate: having too much time to myself; the intense feelings of loneliness; coming home to a quiet, dark, and usually messy house; being responsible for everything (chores, bills, etc.); waking up from a nightmare and being alone; seeing others living their vocation to the fullest (and mostly happily); not being able to truly care for others like I feel called to do; longing for communion with others on a deeper level
I don't know if you noticed, but many things on the "Love" list are, well... selfish.  There's a lot of "I" and "myself" and "what I want" in my list of loves. Yet, I wasn't created to "not have to bear the responsibility of taking care of others" or "watch television whenever I want". I was created for union and communion - which requires an Other.

All of this leads me to the following conclusion:

I am absolutely terrible at being single.

There, I said it! Glad I got that off my chest.

Just like the many stages of grief and healing, knowing and accepting the fact that I am awful at being single is just the first step. It is one thing to say this, but it's an entirely separate thing to actively will this knowledge and make the changes I need to make to stop being absolutely terrible at being single!

I had a mini-revelation during a conversation with someone I had just recently met at a friend's wedding. We were talking about where we'd been in the past year in terms of discovering that "What's next?" phase of post-school life. He was talking about how he didn't really know what he wanted to do, and didn't really have a job, and wasn't sure where he would end up - but that none of this really worried him. He said that all he desired to do was to follow Christ, and so that's what he was doing - and he was confident that if he put following Jesus first, then everything else would fall into place.

It hit me when he said this that even though we were in a similar place in terms of discernment, he was completely further on the path than I was. He got the point of being on the path, while I was still stuck on trying to figure out the reason for it all. I realized that one of the reasons my single life has felt so stagnant is because I am not following Christ as much as I claim to be doing/want to do.

I have to use this time that I've been given to learn how to truly put God first in my life. I realized that I have to live this single vocation to the best of my ability, and until I can learn to be better at being single - and putting God first in my life - whatever God has planned for me won't happen because I won't be ready for it.

As much as being single can be a burden sometimes, I have to see the single years as a gift. At no other time in my life will I be able to say that I have no direct responsibility for the well-being of anyone else. This is actually a good thing, and is part of the purpose of the single years, because not having direct responsibility for others gives me time to grow closer in union and communion with the one Other that really matters - God!

That's what makes these years so crucial for learning how to put God first in my life. If marriage and a family are to come later on my path, I have to be ready to care for others, but I can only truly care for a husband and my children if I am able to love them through my love for God. To do this, I have to care for myself first by truly striving to follow Christ.

Like I said, it's one thing to realize and know all of this, but it's another thing to learn how to be good at being single. So, just as God built us for community, I've asked for a little help from my friends.

Over the next couple of months, I am going to have some amazing Catholic women guest posting on my blog with the theme of "Being Single"! 

*Applause applause!*

I will be chiming in on this topic as well, but this series is as much for me as it is for you - we are going to learn from each other's experiences on how to be good at being single.

We'll hear from women who are truly single - like me - and who may be discerning. We'll hear from women (and maybe even a lad!) who are single, but are discerning marriage by being in a committed relationship. We'll even hear from some ladies who have discerned marriage and are engaged.

Even though we are all coming from a different place in life, we will all share the fact that we are all trying to truly live the single vocation that God has called us to at this point in our lives. We will hear what these single ladies do to live out their single vocations, and also hear things that they wish they had done or could do better.

You can follow along with this series by checking in with the Being Single Series tag on my blog. Read each guest's input, reflect on what they say, and join me on the journey of living the single life to the fullest by growing closer to God.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Brownies

I made these brownies for Bible Study and my co-workers last week, and received mouthfuls of "Oh my gooooooodness!!!!" along with requests for the recipe - that, and Grace has requested that people post more recipes. But...


These are brownies that you should only make if you are ready for the chocolate-caramel frenzy this will induce in all of your friends and family.

I've warned you.

My family affectionately calls these brownies “Diet Bars” – I can’t imagine why…

The recipe is very simple, and doesn’t really even have any measurements (that’s how we roll on my dad’s side of the family).  Basically this means that anyone can make it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 box of German chocolate cake mix
3/4 c. of melted butter
1 small can of sweetened condensed milk*
1 (6 oz.) package of caramels**
6 oz. (or more!) of chocolate chips

*Here’s the deal. Because of how the cans of sweetened condensed milk are these days, it means that you will have leftover milk if you only make one batch of these. Now, if you double the recipe, the measurements work out JUST right for a large can of milk, about 14 oz. Darn, I guess I have to always make a double recipe…

**You should probably unwrap the caramels. Just sayin’.

Mix together the cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 c. of sweetened condensed milk.  You can also optionally add chopped nuts, but I never do this.
Butter. Quite possibly the greatest gift to bakers (besides chocolate) EVAH!
Take 2/3 of this mixture and press it into a lightly greased 9" x 13" baking pan, so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Bake this at 350 degrees for about 6 minutes.

You should probably wash your hands before doing this step.
When you take it out of the oven, let it cool. While you’re waiting through the smell of chocolatey goodness, unwrap the caramels. Pour 1/3 c. of the sweetened condensed milk over the caramels in a bowl, and microwave to melt them together. I recommend microwaving for 1 minute, then stirring, then microwaving in 30 second intervals while stirring in between. This avoids burning, which you don’t want. When it is all liquid and mixed together, you’re ready.

Spread the caramel mixture over the lightly baked cake base. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the caramel, as little or as many as you want.

This is about when I decided that maybe it was time to go on a diet...
Crumble the remaining cake mixture in crumbs over the caramel and chocolate. Continue baking for another 20 minutes.

Sorry if I drooled into the pan.
You can check to see if it’s finished by sticking a toothpick or fork into the center of the brownies – beware though that the caramel and melted chocolate chips could throw you off. I can also tell by just giving the pan a little shake back and forth – if the brownies still move like liquid, you can tell they need a couple of more minutes. You do want them to have a bit of give though, because they will continue to cook in the pan a bit after you take them out. Plus, these brownies are better soft and gooey.

You should probably remove these from the oven before eating. Patience is a virtue, people.

...and this is when I decided that my diet could wait a few more days.


Liesl’s extra-special, super-secret tip for keeping your brownies fresh longer.

So you just HAD to make 2 batches so the milk measurements worked out, didn’t you?

Now I am usually nice, and share these extra brownies with friends, co-workers, etc. However, if you want to be a pig and keep them all for yourself, you’re going to want to keep them moist and chewy.

Store them in a sealed container, and after a day or two, place a slice of bread in with the brownies in the sealed container. The brownies will soak up any moisture from the bread, keeping them moist and chew-tastic. You may need to replace the bread after a day or so if you are continuing to store them.

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