Category Archives: Teresa

“Wonder”, Baby Boys, and the Finding of Jesus at the Temple

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This is Reesa. The last post I wrote (or even attempted to write) was July 3, 2013. I’m proud of myself for making it with this post before July 3 of this year. Woohoo!

I made a Lenten promise (resolution?) that I would read the daily readings every day and write a short (really short) reflection on those readings. It’s only been two weeks, but I’ve already failed a pretty significant percent of that time. It was looking like today was going to be one of those days–and I was kind of okay with that. By 3:30 I hadn’t even looked at the readings. But maybe St. Joseph interceded for me or something, because I picked up my phone (I use the Laudate app to look up and/or listen to the readings) this afternoon and had one of the most fruitful experiences with the readings I’ve had in months. I wanted to share it with you here, in case you’re interested!

The reading I focused on was Lk 2:41-51a–the Finding of Jesus at the Temple. Specifically, this line caught my attention: When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

Here’s what I wrote about it:

This Gospel reading really surprises me, because it shows Mary reproaching Jesus and telling him that she suffered from real anxiety because of his choice. I’ve also always thought it was weird that the Gospels pick up on this story as somehow significant. One of the best homilies I ever heard was about this strange, strange incident. The priest talked about how it revealed Jesus’ psychological adolescence.’ According to this priest, when Jesus says, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” he’s actually coming to grips with his (very complex!) identity, grappling with it… and hurting a few people (particularly those people most wrapped up in that identity–his parents) in the process. In short, he’s going through adolescence. The priest pointed out that Jesus took on our humanity even to the point of mental and psychological humanity. He underwent the (horrible) experience of psychological maturation, just like we do.

The priests point, I think, was that this incident is significant because Christ begins to consciously accept his role as the Son of God. I thought it was significant because that even had to happen. Somehow, I had always thought baby Jesus was born knowing He was the Son of God. And this priest didn’t say he wasn’t. He just implied that Jesus came to know it more fully around this point in his life.

* * *

Last night I started reading this book “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. I absolutely love it. It’s multiple-perspective, first-person middle school literature, which might be my absolute favorite. Long story short: the narrators (so far) are a 10 year old boy who’s severely deformed and his 14-year old sister. The boy has been home schooled his whole life because of his various medical needs, but he’s starting to go to school for the first time in 5th grade (yikes…). Middle school is always hard, but it’s that much worse for this boy because of how he looks. Auggie (the boy) is in a lot of pain… and you see, through his eyes and his sister’s, how much pain he causes his mother specifically–both by her experience of his humiliation and alienation at school and just by the way he treats her sometimes as he’s trying to figure out who he is and how to live.

As I was reading, I kept thinking about my baby boy (due early June) and how hard it will be to ever see him in pain or (as is bound to happen) watch him semi-purposely inflict pain on me. It’s hard to think about.

But I came to a couple of realizations after reading the Gospel today. First, Christ has conquered adolescence. He’s been through even this cross.  Second, Auggie causes his mother a lot of pain–but it’s not because he’s evil or because he hates her or because he’s never going to be kind to her again. He’s causing her pain because he’s… well, trying to figure out who he is. And your parents inevitably have a lot to do with that. They get caught in the line of fire, and that’s okay. Or, if it’s not okay, it’s something that Mary, the Mother of God, has, in some way, gone through through too. I didn’t think I would be able to have recourse to Mary in motherhood because, well, Michael Patrick is not going to be Jesus. But after today, maybe I will.

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Blog posts I’ve almost written

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I remember now why I wasn’t blogging as much.  Because when I blog frequently, I get this annoying little voice in my head (do you guys get this?) that starts narrating things as blog posts as soon as they are happening.  It’s really annoying… and makes you not want to write blog posts.

For lack of a better subject-matter and because HONESTLY THIS is what has been on my mind of late, I give you: Blogs I’ve almost written.

1. STUFF my Mom says

In this imagined post, I was going to write down five favorite phrases that my Mom says along with a cute “translation” or unpacking of what they’ve come to mean in our family.  Really, I just wanted to talk about her saying, “It’s okay to have baggage [emotional baggage].  Just as long as it fits in your overhead compartment.” I’m pretty sure that’s an Ellyn-original.

2. Why Soulmates Do Like FOR SURE Exist

I have not figured this one out yet (which is why I didn’t write it).  Also because the only evidence I’ve got here is either a) experiential (And I have cold hard proof for this one guys. Signed and dated. IN WRITING.) or b) a gut feeling: these articles that I keep reading against the idea of soul mates? There’s something missing there. I don’t think you can marry just ANYONE and have it work out.

That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

3. “On Failure”

Pretty sure I’m still going to write this one.  This was one of those completely weird, providential moments when a personal failure that had been bothering me for a really long time spontaneously came up in conversation and was the precise catalyst for a moment of intimacy with a complete stranger…. and that’s all I have to say about that.

4. Book Review: “Freeing Your Child from Anxiety”

Which I still am going to review, because I’m pretty sure there’s a high likelihood that at least ONE of my future children will have some form of anxiety issues.  And this book is darn good at giving practical advice on that subject.

5. The Most Influential Event of My Childhood

Jennifer Fulwiller did a post on this a few months back, talking about how often her family moved when she was a kid.  I wanted to write about breaking my leg when I was three years old, which I still remember very vividly.

Ya see, for most of my life, I’ve been a very cautious person.  However, I happen to know that a few seconds before I let go of the monkey bars and broke my femur (FEEEE-MURRRRR) in half, I thought to myself pretty deliberately, “I wonder what will happen… if I let go?”

Oh. Eons of unpacking to do on that one my friends.

6. On growing up in a single-sex family (all sisters).  The other day I was talking with an acquaintance about siblings.  She told me she was the oldest of four.  I replied, “Oh yeah?! Me too!! Wait no I forgot — my mom had two more.”

And I really did forget for a sec.  I’m the oldest of six for sure (count em) but by the time Joseph came around, I’m pretty sure my psyche or whatever was already pretty well-formed (See #5).

7. On our vacation in Seattle and how it was the most amazing experience of my life ever. 

8. On how Dan and I are house-hunting and it’s the most fun thing ever ever ever.

9. On what I want to be when I grow up — oddly this is something that was inspired by my arch-nemesis.  My arch-nemesis is a 60 something lady who comes into my life unexpectedly every few months and really annoys me.  If that sounds vague, it’s supposed to, but trust me she’s out there.  Anyway, so this lady and I were having a conversation about the future and she started asking all these questions about where I wanted to be in two years, five years, ten…. really got me thinking.  Then after that, we got into this whole talk about NFP! (She’s not really my arch-nemesis).

10. On NFP.

(What Should We Call NFP)

Friends (by which I mean, Rachel, Meredith, and anyone else who read to the end): cast your votes. Which blog post shall I write? TELL ME PLEASE.

xo

Reesa

Blogs Worth Reading with a Glass of Moscato

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Blogging and coffee

Or coffee, or tea, or other delicious beverage. Reading in bed is a plus.

Note: These are blogs that are so good they merit being read with a delicious beverage.  Not so bad that they need Moscato to mitigate the effects.

Not as much time for a long blog post today (I have lots of “real work” to do!) but I’ve been wanting to direct people to some of the blogs I read on a daily basis (and boy, DO I).  These writers are well worth your time.

Blogs I Read Daily/Weekly (in no particular order, and not including all of them!)

Conversion Diary: Obviously.  I only reference this blog every single post.  So often I’ve opened Jen’s site only to read a post that gives me the encouragement or advice I needed.  Favorites include: 21 Survival Tips and Openness to Life (never understood this concept until I read it here).

Gal Meets Glam: I’m not going to put you through the sheer number of fashion blogs I check every day, but this one is by far my favorite.  Julia describes her style as “classic, feminine, and colorful.” Her outfits are unique but not too out-there.  You’ll love her. I promise.

The Evangelista isn’t really a fashion blogger. She does cover style but she does so in a way that reminds readers (and I need it sometimes) of its proper place in our lives.  She also writes very honestly about her own faith journey.  Really, really good stuff.

Mysteries and Manners is my best friend Maura’s blog.  She writes so beautifully, and her insights make me miss sharing a room with her so much! So lucky to have her as my friend.  This post alone completely revitalized my prayer life.

Speaking of friends, Verily is not a blog, but a fashion magazine with some opinions and articles I seriously respect.  For one, it’s literally the only publication I’ve ever read/seen that has addressed how difficult it can be to maintain friendships with girlfriends after you get married.  I mean, am I the only one with this problem?? I don’t think so.  Verily writes for “the woman you are, not the woman you should be.” Amen. Plus, they say everything you want to say to your daughter one day but sound way cooler doing it.

La Luz de Fe: Oh my gosh.  I feel a little like a stalker when I read this blog, but a stalker who is being turned into a saint because of how wonderful the person she’s stalking is.  Teresa (shares my name, which is an honor) went to UD with me and has since married and had a teeny baby.  I don’t think we’ve ever spoken, but her posts are joyful and beautiful. They make me want to live better!!

Wellness Mama: Only just now getting into this health/lifestyle blog but it has some of the best writing on the Internet!! That’s a bold claim.  Read this article about coconut oil and tell me if you could make it sound half as good.

Other blogs I should read with a glass of Moscato? (Or some other wine. Maybe I’ll do a wine and blog pairing series.  Only problem being I don’t know anything about wine). Blog and/or wine suggestions are welcome!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Work/Life Balance

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Work/Life Balance

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but perfectionism and “no that’s stupid, who needs to read that? no one” has gotten in the way.  So here I am. Moira, my nanny-baby, is asleep for maybe another forty five minutes if I’m lucky.

Several months ago, Dan suggested we watch this movie:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

I’m not a huge documentary watcher (Dan is), so I was hesitant. But it ended up being one of the most fascinating films I’ve ever seen. Watch the trailer here and rent it on Netflix if you can. I’ve never seen sushi look so good.

Quick Summary: Jiro Ono is an 85 year old sushi chef who is supposed to be the most talented sushi chef in the world.  His restaurant seats only ten people.  One plate costs around $100. You have to train for fifteen years just to be an apprentice.  People travel to Japan just to eat his sushi.

You get the picture.  The film focuses on Jiro’s fame but also on his philosophy of work:

Once you decide on your occupation, you have to immerse yourself in your work.  You have to fall in love with your work.  You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret to success.

The reviews in the poster above call Jiro’s “breathtaking, inspirational, and humbling,” and that’s true.  Listening to this man’s advice on work was very humbling. For me, it really put into perspective some of the complaints I had at my first two jobs out of college –that the expectations were too high, the hours too long. In some ways, that’s just what you have to do to succeed in your occupation, in your skill.

But another word I would use to describe the movie is “horrifying.” A sub-theme in the documentary is Jiro’s relationship with his two sons.  Both are in their forties or fifties and both are sushi chefs.  The first son is filmed saying (with a smile, so he must have gotten over it) “I wanted to go to college.  my father talked me out of it.  For the first eight years, I hated working here.”

In another scene, the two sons sit together discussing their childhood with the interviewer. They recall (again, laughing, so maybe this is just a cultural thing I’m not getting) waking up on Sunday mornings to find their father in the house. They would be so unused to seeing him that they would run to their mother (this is the only time she is mentioned in the film) saying, “Mom, there’s a stranger in the house!”

In this way, the documentary reminded me of another film I absolutely LOVE, which also features a highly successful… individual.

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Why is no one readyyyyyyy?

“The Devil Wears Prada” follows Anne Hathaway’s character as she works the major fashion magazine Runway for the magazine’s Executive Director Miranda (played by Meryl Streep).  Though Hathaway really wants to work as a serious (non-fashion) journalist, she takes the job as Streep’s assistant because editors tell her it will be a major stepping stone.  “A million girls would kill for that job.”

Hathaway starts out frumpy and skeptical, but (through many twists, turns, and awesome makeover scenes) she comes to respect Miranda and the work that she does.  The movie ends, however, with Hathaway making the decision to leave the position because she repeatedly sees Miranda putting her work before the people in her life, and Andy (Hathaway’s character) sees herself beginning to follow in Miranda’s footsteps.

It’s a great movie.  But there’s one scene I never really got. Andy jump starts her big Transformation after a devastating (but oh so fun to watch) dress-down from Miranda for her attitude towards fashion.  Exhausted and humiliated, Andy goes crying to a coworker (played by Stanely Tucci) and tells him, “I don’t know what to do.  I’m really trying–” to which Tucci replies, “Oh please. Honey. You’re not trying.”

When I first saw this scene, I sat there staring at the screen, thinking I’d missed a line. “What do you mean? Of course she’s trying. She puts up with Miranda. She does everything Miranda says…”

But that’s not the point.  Hathaway has not “fallen in love with her work.” She hasn’t entered deeply into the craft.  She hasn’t even entertained the possibility that the fashion world could have some importance she doesn’t grasp.  There is no passion there. She’s not trying.

On the other hand, both Jiro’s and Miranda’s stories show the downfall of working with that kind of passion.  As I said, Jiro literally looked like a stranger to his own sons.  Miranda goes through her third divorce before the movie’s end.  Neither are really able to sustain healthy relationships in or outside of the office.

This whole meditation had an interesting tie-in with yesterday’s Gospel and homily.

St. Martha

Is this not the craziest depiction of St. Martha (or any saint) you have ever seen??

Our priest’s homily was actually about how it’s NOT bad to work hard! (Seems like a tough pitch with that whole “Martha Martha” thing in the background, right?) He encouraged us to look at the Gospel in light of the Old Testament reading, which sows Abraham and Sarah working very hard to welcome the Three Visitors to their home (making bread, killing the fatted calf, etc. etc.).

According to our priest, the juxtaposition of these two stories is supposed to show us that Abraham’s attention (and Mary’s, in the Gospel) to God is what sanctifies his actions.  First, Abraham notices God passing by. Next, he invites Him to say. Finally, he sits down with the Lord and listens to him. All of his actions are ordered towards a relationship with God.

So, the answer to this whole Work/Life Balance thing, according to Father Bob? Well, it’s a… balance.  Only by maintaining this active relationship with the Trinity will we know when to stop serving the Lord and start listening.

7 posts in 7 days

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It’s Reesa!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged, and I’m a little bit hesitant to return to the blogging world after so many awesome posts by (my better half) Rachel.  However, I was inspired to come back by (who else) Jennifer Fulwiler, who not only hosts the Seven Quick Takes series, but also has come up with the brilliant idea of:

The Seven Posts in Seven Days Challenge.

Long story short: Jen has been blogging less than usual because she’s been working on getting her book published.  She came up with this way to get herself quickly back into the swing of things now that it’s all set to come out the chute of IGNATIUS PRESS (Whoo-wee!)

Like I said, I was hesitant to jump on this band wagon.  Not least of all because I have a lot of other things on my mental and spiritual plate right now, so adding rapid-fire blogging into the mix didn’t seem like the most prudent decision I’d ever made.

Then, this morning, Jen posted a few reasons to jump on the bandwagon, one of which is “It will help you overcome Perfectionism.” Since this is the #1 thing on my mental/spiritual plate right now, this whole blogging thing suddenly didn’t seem like such a departure from my spiritual path.

So here I am.  Buckle up for 7 posts from yours truly Reesa, filling in for the riveting Rachel as she rollicks out her remaining raptures through Rome.

You have so much to look forward to.

On my Sister’s Engagement

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Hello everyone! My name is Teresa. I’m Selina’s older sister and Matron of Honor. First, I just want to say how happy I am that we have all just witnessed this truly beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony between Selina and Andrew. And I have just one thing to say about it… FINALLY.

In all seriousness, though, this has been a long journey.  Selina was saying that as of yesterday, she and Andrew had been engaged for seventeen months.  Now, I know that they didn’t necessarily plan their engagement this way, and it’s been difficult for them to wait so long to finally be married.  But I just want to say that it has been one of the most beautiful engagements I’ve ever witnessed.

I was blessed enough to move home just a couple months before Selina and Andrew were engaged, so I was able to be there—and to be with Selina—for much more of it than I would have otherwise. As Selina’s older sister, I can say that she and Andrew both have grown so much these past seventeen months, and I want to tell you all about a few of the virtues that I’ve witnessed in their engagement—that I know now are going to be hallmarks of an amazing marriage.

I think the first big challenge in Selina and Andrew’s engagement came the spring after Andrew proposed, when they decided it would be best for Andrew to take an opportunity to work and teach with a school in Urbil, Iraq.  I remember Selina coming into my room shortly after they’d made the decision, and she was just crying.  At first I thought she was crying because it would be so hard for her to be away from Andrew.  But in fact, Selina was crying from joy! Because she was grateful for the opportunity, because she was grateful for Andrew’s courage in taking the position, and because she was filled with an unexpected peace that they would emerge from that challenge all the stronger.

It was beautiful to see Selina’s faith in that moment—faith in God, in Andrew, and in their relationship.  In that moment, my little sister’s maturity and self-sacrifice amazed me.

And then, as you all know, Andrew was accepted into Officer Candidate School midway through his time in Iraq.  And he and Selina made another difficult decision: for him to come back, go to Rhode Island, and commit to the U.S. Navy. One of the biggest challenges that came with that decision was that the timing of this whole wedding was thrown into complete turmoil.  As was mentioned last night at the rehearsal dinner several times, both Selina and Andrew are planners. Andrew’s being in the US Navy made it really difficult for them to begin to plan either this wedding or the rest of their lives together.

But again, I witnessed Selina rise to the occasion with so much sweetness and grace.  You all should have seen her in the months leading up to this day. Her concern with the material details of planning a wedding sort of fell away, and she told me, “I don’t care.  I just want to be married.” I admire so much Selina’s ability, amidst the stress of planning a wedding (not to mention being IN SCHOOL), to focus on what really matters. Because your marriage is your vocation.  It is THE MOST important thing that God has put in either of your lives.  Everything else is secondary. And you have both shown that you understand that.

Andrew, I am so happy to welcome you into our family.  Because I see these things about Selina—that she is selfless and faithful and sweet and gracious—but I think you see them even more.  You see that you are the luckiest man in the world, because you could not ask for a better wife.

And Andrew, I want to tell you one more thing that I think you know: Selina is so proud of you. She is so proud, that I am sometimes embarrassed to take her out in public because I know as soon as I turn my back she’ll start talking to a complete stranger about you and your accomplishments, and this day, the day she gets to be married to you.  You deserve that pride she has in you.

This has been a long journey for you both.  But you have shown that you have faith in God, you have faith in each other, you can roll with the punches and you can come up with the knowledge of what is most important in life.  You are going to have an exceptional marriage, and I could not be more proud.

Congratulations Selina and Andrew.  Many blessings for a beautiful marriage and life together.  I love you.

Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 4?)

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By Reesa

Linking up with the reality T.V. star Jennifer Fulwiler for another EXCITING episode of Quick Takes Friday!!!

— 1 —

First, I’m sorry, but we need to talk about fashion. Specifically my fashion. And my baggage.  Not literal, but emotional.  Emotional fashion baggage.  Why do you read this blog again?

I have been suffering from sort of FASHION BUG lately where I find myself making OBJECTIVELY BAD fashion choices WITH THE FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT I AM MAKING THEM.

This is an amazing phenomenon! I have never HEARD of this before! Allow me to elaborate! My two favorite things to wear lately have been: printed tops and graphic tees.

GRAPHIC TEES PEOPLE.

— 2 —

Exhibit A:

Gap + Tailgate happiness T - gray

My favorite shirt right now. There was about a month there when I wore it almost every day. Also, that happened to my first month as a married woman. No wait I wore it during the final stages of wedding planning too.  Two months!!

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The shirt that I’m not allowing myself to buy. Because it’s RIDICULOUS. How could I go out in public in that? People will think that I think I am America’s dream girl!?! I would rationalize and say to myself, “Oh this? I’m just going to buy this to wear around the house!” but guess what? THAT’S WHAT I SAID ABOUT THE FIRST SHIRT.

Exhibit B: Printed Tops

I don’t know which is these two exhibits is more embarrassing. This latter trend is actually something we typically go through at, I don’t know, FIVE AND UNDER.

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Don’t know if you can tell (which possibly mitigates the fact) but the top shirt has hearts all over it. While I desperately want to buy it to wear on Valentine’s Day I already bought a dress with hearts all over it, and I cannot justify having TWO heart-covered articles of clothing in my wardrobe. I just can’t.

The butterfly shirt may happen.

— 3 —

WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?

I really don’t know. Very rarely in my life have I made such poor decisions. However, I think it is a POSSIBILITY that my emotional fashion baggage stems from my recent transition into married life and that I am in some sense mourning my childhood/lost youth. Or I just hang out with a baby for way too many of my waking hours. Or this is The Next Big Thing and nobody knows it but my subconscious.

— 4 —

Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Honestly that’s the only thing I wanted to say in this post though. I just strung it out for three posts. I could probably string it out for seven. But nobody wants that.

I would spend the next three posts writing very important and deep things. Sadly, the baby will soon awaken. That baby being: not mine and Dan’s, but belonging to different parentage entirely, and entrusted to us for her health and well-being this weekend and none other.

So important things will have to

— 5 —

Last night I had a dream that Rachel dyed her hair blue. Then I woke up and remembered… that Rachel DID do that once! Our senior year of high school! Remember that Rachel?!

Not a good look for you if I recall.

BUT your hair just on its very own is an extremely gorgeous blonde.

— 6 —

One week from today is a very very special day. Two weeks from today is even more special. Those days are: my birthday and then Rachel’s. Rachel’s being second. Mine being first. Rachel’s mother being pregnant for one more week after the aforementioned myself had exited the womb. Reesa being the elder, and Rachel the younger, of the two Rs.

Which seems as good an excuse as any to post these gems, garnered somewhere along the way during the last TEN YEARS of friendship.

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High school theaterrrrr

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New Years…. 2008?

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Assississi

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Photographic evidence that I went to Les Miserables with her YEARS BEFORE THAT BLOG POST.

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My face represents how we feel about camping; Rachel’s how we feel about not-camping

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Bridesmaidin with the seesters

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G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

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Six groundhogs together… yay?

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Arm-in-arm after the worst fight of either of our existences

Disney Princess Birthday Party

And pulled from the archives, our Disney Princess themed joint-sixteenth birthday party. Which may quite possibly still be the best birthday party I have ever had.

— 7 —

In the spirit of full disclosure I am channeling BooMama in my blog voice right now. A) because that’s how you develop your blog voice: imitate away and see what STICKS. B) Because she is HILARIOUS. C) In a shameless attempt to make Meredith read my blog more.

Also in the spirit of full disclosure, there will never be full disclosure on this blog. Ever. Ever ever. I have got to preserve my sense of mystery.

xoxo

Reesa