Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What you may not understand about Catholicism

The Pope has made some off the cuff remarks as usual.  Some about the likelihood of people being in valid marriages.  To this I say, he has a point.  If you are getting married thinking that you can just get unmarried or this is a trial marriage (as one of my friend's from highschool referred to her first marriage), then you may not have a valid marriage.  If you intend to never ever have children or can't physically have a physical relationship, then you may not have a valid marriage.  Point is there are a lot of factors to invalidating a marriage: everything from not having enough witnesses to finding out you are blood relatives of a close nature.

I hope that I have a valid marriage, but I have no way of knowing that positively.  My husband could have said one thing but meant another.  With the priest- who married us-'s not great record (he's no longer a priest for one), we may not have had a valid form either.  But I operate under the assumption that it is valid until some Church official reviewing the records says otherwise.  This is all one can do in any marriage.

Likewise the Pope made some remarks about cohabitators may have a real marriage because of their fidelity and grace even though they've never taken vows in a church.  I'm not sure what he means exactly.  The Church acknowledges two types of marriage: 1) sacramental- two baptized male/female in a church and 2) natural- two unbaptized male/female persons.  For all I know he could be talking about atheists having a valid natural marriage even though they've never stepped into a church or formally signed a paper.  One can speculate until the cows come home.

That said Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor and pro-life advocate and Evangelical, was affronted by the Pope's remarks.  Fair enough. I don't understand fully what he meant, but if it upsets her that's okay.  Some married people were upset about invalid marriages thing.  I wasn't.  I realize that I have no way of knowing the truth until I'm dead.  Until then I operate under a positive assumption as I assume all others should.

But then she threw out a curve ball on twitter including a poll: Is Gianna Jessen going to hell because she's not Catholic?

And she was shocked that nobody could really answer the question straight.

Several things: 1st Jesus is the only judge of souls (that's in the Bible).  The Church can't say anyone is in hell.  We especially can't say that of a living person.  She may convert and she may not.

Does this mean she's on the path to hell?  Good question.  Outside of the Church there is no salvation.  You may not fully understand anything about the Church so your culpability is small.  You may know a great deal which would mean your culpability is great.  I have no idea what Jessen knows or understands fully.  Given what she said, she;s more on the side of greater culpability than less.  Fortunately that judgement is saved until the end (no pun intended).

She was flabbergasted that no one could answer.  This is a common issue with Evangelicals.  Basically the idea is that as long as you "have Jesus" you are assured of your salvation.  If no Jesus then you are damned.  In Catholicism it doesn't work that way.  Your culpability is at play.  An infant who dies are they damned because they don't "have Jesus?"  Most Evangelicals and Catholics agree that that would be no.  It is the same of any adult who is possibly ignorant even of sins.  This is why we remain silent.

This is in line with a most recent Liturgical reading about removing beams and splinters from eyes.  We cannot judge.  Not our pay grade.  We can only tell you if you're headed in the wrong or right direction from what we observe.

The other thing that bothered me was the "I have Jesus" trope.  You only have part of Jesus if you are Evangelical.  And you are also missing out on the rest of the Church body.  What part are you missing?  His physical presence.  You have a spiritual communion with Christ but not a physical one.  That's why you need the Church which contains the fullness of Christ.

So while I'm glad that you as an Evangelical have Jesus to a certain extent.  I desire that you have all of Jesus.  Come home.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I didn't lose 5 pounds

Today I was able to finally hit the gym.  Last week everyone was sick so my workout consisted of multiple changes of sheets and laundry.  The week before I spent a great deal of time with my in laws and was only able to hit the gym once.  Although we did spend the week doing a lot of walking.  Needless to say I did a double take when I stepped onto the more accurate scale at the gym.

Wait...let me fiddle with that some more because that can't be right.  *slides it down a bit more*  Really?  Seriously?  

I didn't lose 5 pounds because I actually lost 10.  *Does cabbage patch*

Ah, heck let's add some hammer time in there too.

Great right?  I was 146.  Now I'm 136.  So I'm back into the normal BMI.  I would like to be somewhere between 120-130.  So still some work to do.  But all those boring salads that I wanted to scream over eating was so worth it.  I feel great.  And next Sunday I get to add back in complex carbs.  I'm a little nervous over doing that as I don't want to carb overload and thus gain back the weight.  So the goal is to eat salads for lunch and have soup once a week.  And sparingly have carbs like a piece of toast for breakfast and maybe 1/2 cup of brown rice for dinner.

So how was your weekend?  Any exciting news?  Have a good Father's day?  We didn't do much.  The kiddos were hyper after being down for a while.  Leave a comment.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Practicing a Spirit of Detachment

The readings for this morning are all about detachment.  I mentioned this in my last post and I'd like to elaborate.  Detachment to me means putting material things in their proper place.  That is they are to serve God and your family.  And you are to appreciate that they do this but not to the point that you neglect God and your family.  I'm guilty of slipping into this poor habit as I am sure many of you are.

It's something that Protestants often accuse Catholics of doing.  We have icons, prayer beads, crucifixes, etc decorating our homes and our Churches.  Naturally to an outsider it looks like we aren't focusing on God but are rather materialistic.  This may or may not be true. 

In contrast many Protestants have stark homes and churches devoid of anything else besides perhaps a Bible scene and a simple cross.  In the extreme, many avoid any of the symbols altogether.  This isn't healthy either.

Having religious objects and art are supposed to enhance our relationship with God.  Having nothing to aid one in this manner reminds me of the Biblical passages (which were also recent readings) of Jesus telling the disciples to wash ones face and look presentable while fasting.  In other words, you are purposely depriving yourself for prideful reasons.  It could be "I'm better than those Catholics" or "I don't need these things because I have Jesus" which is ridiculous because Jesus gives you those things to help you.  Jesus knows if you are practicing good detachment or not. 

Not to let the Catholics off the hook either.  Outside of religious objects, Catholics and Protestants do often go shopping and practice poor stewardship habits.  Are you researching to save money or are you obsessing over the object?  Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses or are you trying to make your appearance presentable to non-believers?  Is it really necessary or could you make do?  Do you thank God and take care of what he has given you or do you squander and mistreat it?  Could you give it to someone else who needs it more?

I would like to think that for Christians we practice proper detachment, but realistically we are all sinners.  If I find myself slipping down that oh so slippery slope of materialism like I so often do, I find that it's better to pray and do something productive. 

What do you do when you find yourself not practicing detachment?  How do you cope?  Do you put a freeze on spending for example and does that help?  Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Capsule Wardrobe- Finding a Solution

Hi, it's me again. Still in the trenches of sick children who spend all day watching things and nibbling very little.

I was attracted to the capsule wardrobe not because it's a fad- although one that has been revived from the 1970s- but because it makes so much more sense.  As I said before we already wear clothing based on season.  My method before wasn't very effective.  I was making pieces do double duty.  It sounds practical to wear the same dress year round while adding tights and a cardigan to make it winter ready.  But is it really?  I don't think so anymore.  The problem is that you wear that dress out very quickly not to mention that you become bored with it.

Well what's wrong with boredom.  Shouldn't we practice detachment?  Yes, but there's a balance to everything.  Christ doesn't want us to deprive ourselves to the point of misery.  The world is tough and miserable enough.  Having things that serve you AND bring you joy is perfectly fine.  You are not loving Christ less by loving the things he gives you.  Rather you are appreciating the beauty of diversity which he creates.

That said I'm not saying you should load your closet down with stuff.  It defeats the purpose of having a practical and joyful closet if you aren't using or appreciating the things Christ has given to you.  The amount of clothing of course will vary from person to person.  A nun may only need and find joy in having two habits.  Whereas a professional who is also a parent will be using and appreciating different pieces in different settings.  So it's up to the individual to discern what things they should have.

With a capsule, your clothing gets a complete rest.  It also gives you time to practice good stewardship.  You are able to replace worn out items at the end of seasons for the fraction of the cost instead of realizing in the middle of season that year long dress has a big hole in it.

There's also not boredom or the temptation to buy into "fast fashion."  Fast fashion is cheaply made clothing that flows with what's trending.  In the past people made their clothes or their clothes were more costly so fashions didn't change as quickly.  My mother tells the story that she had a classmate in high school who she thought highly of her fashion sense.  Eventually someone pointed out that her classmate owned one or two skirts and a handful of shirts that she rotated because it turns out that this fashionista was too poor to afford anything else.  This is what you should be striving for in a wardrobe.  We should go back to the basics and figure out a way to use them more practically.

You can afford better made clothes if you only own a few pieces that you rotate periodically.  Who wants to purchase a blouse that falls apart after a couple of washings?  Not me.  Who wants their core staple clothing to be things that were trendy 10 years ago?  Not me either.  So quality is key.  A well-made timeless core of clothing and a few outlier pieces should be it.  Think Chanel (although realistically I don't think many of us can afford a real Chanel dress but you get the idea).

Last post I left you with my dilemma.  I sat for a while staring at my closet.  First I mulled it over.  Then I shifted things around.  And then I had an epiphany.  Why can't I have a sweater or two in the Spring/Summer capsule for early spring weather or cold indoor places?  Why can't I have a few short sleeve shirts in the Fall/Winter capsule for warm days or to go under a sweater?  Why don't I just start moving things around by color scheme and see what happens?

And then like magic things got so so so much better.  I only ended up discarding a few pieces half of which I should have discarded a while ago because they were falling apart.  And this is what I noticed much to my chagrin....I already have capsules, but I've been mixing them.

The verdict:
Base colors- browns, white
Accent colors- green, pink, and yellow

Base colors- black, grey
Accent colors- purple, blue, and red

My Spring/Summer capsule has a few holes in it to make it work.  For instance I have this green dress that I'd been pairing with grey leggings.  It would fit better in the capsule if I had a different color pair of leggings that I could use with something else.  So I bought a pair of tan leggings.

My Fall/Winter capsule seems a bit overwhelming to me.  I'd like to downsize but I hesitate because I realize that in the Winter if you layer (which you should) you'll end up with more pieces than in the Spring/Summer.  So the goal is to live in the capsule for a season and decide what I really do need and what I don't.

Pictures for another day.  Yes?  I'm still working on kinks, but I'm definitely much happier with my wardrobe since I'm basically making what I already have work for me.  That's the beauty of using a capsule wardrobe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Capsule Wardrobe

Hi, it's me again. Yes, I'm blogging despite being exhausted.  I attribute this urge to blog as my brain trying to keep my body awake.  I do not know why children still are.  We've been dealing with a case of the stomach flu this week.  I'm fully expecting to be tweeting when I get it.  Probably Thursday.  Which would be unfortunate, but this is the nature of things.  Anywho...please be aware that there may be many more spelling errors and grammar mistakes than normal.  Okay? M'kay.

As you know I've been diligently trying to loose weight.  It is a struggle.  But yesterday I looked at myself in the bathroom (naked that is) and thought "wow, I can really see where my abdominal muscles have separated more clearly.  I wonder...have a lost a few pounds?" For those of you who don't know, it's normal for women's abs to separate during pregnancy to make room for the baby.  But they don't always go back together the way they were before and sometimes, like me, you get a dent at the bottom of your belly.  The only way to correct this separation is surgery.  And I'm not that vain nor do I have a legit medical reason to go seek out surgical correction.  So there's a permanent dent to go along with my stretch marks.  Alright? It's at the bottom so it's hard to see with the pudge up top.

End of digression.

Well low and behold my scale declares that I've lost some weight.  My scale is terrible.  It's not accurate at all, which is why I use the gym's scale.  But since my children are sick and I am understand why I used the crummy scale instead.  My guess is that I've lost 5 pounds, which would be exciting since I haven't lost a single pound since January.  (I've fluctuated but that doesn't count).

Add to that that I'm getting really bored with my wardrobe, which is weird to me.  Because 1)I'm southern. We use the philosophy: wear it out, make do, or live without.  2) I'm not a fashionista at all. Not even in Catholic circles.  Granted I love to look at what others are wearing and I like clothes, but I didn't grow up with appearance being important.

So between possible weight loss (a dress size would be nice) and this desire to revamp my wardrobe I feel guilt.

Oh, yes, Catholic guilt.  It's stupid but it's there to create a balance.  Do we need clothes?  Yes, for modesty's sake.  Do we need nice clothes?  Yes, having presentable clothes I believe is important.  Even the Bible talks about this.  I'm not talking about designer clothes.  I mean, as one lady said when discussing her book about being an foreign student in France, clothes that do not have holes in them.  Clothes that are not encrusted with gunk- baby spit up, arm pit sweat, food, and so forth.  Clothes that don't have bleach marks or other permanent stains.  Clothes that actually fit and present you in your best light. 

But I'm Southern and Catholic so it seems counter-intuitive to my natural inclination to poverty to care about appearances.  That's wrong.  Oh, so wrong.  We must balance.  I can live with little but with quality.  That's most important.  Even nuns do not keep wearing the same habit if it's irreparable.  They would replace it.  Why cannot I replace my mom uniform from time to time too?

So this is where the wardrobe capsule comes in.  I am helpless about styling myself.  If you looked in my closet right now, you would see a vintage 60s blue blazer hanging next to a brown corduroy one that I keep justifying keeping because my best friend in highschool gave it to me.  I've got a skirt that I should probably replace because there are holes/fraying forming where the vents are.  I've got pilling on shirts.  And I've got a shirt that I love but it only matches one bottom.  It's a disaster.

Ideally I would go through the whole wardrobe and discard like mad, but realistically I can only afford to do a little at a time.

Some people love the wardrobe capsule because they've discovered that their closet is crammed with stuff.  I'm not one of these people.  My problem is that I love what I've got too much to part with it or inclination turns towards wearing the item out before chucking it.  Thus my wardrobe looks like a menagerie of different styles.  It's cohesive in having particular outfits, but you can't mix and match too much.  This is stupid.  If I'm going for less, I'm definitely not getting more out it.

So what does a wardrobe capsule do?  Well it reduces the amount of clothes you are wearing to a select core few.  And you can change this up season to season.  This makes sense because we do this anyway.  I live in Arizona; I have basically two seasons.  So I don't need a pair of snow boots or a winter overcoat anymore.  In case you are curious, I knew that before the move and discarded them both.  Other people might need more seasonal stuff.  Others might have a casual wardrobe for home and one for the office depending on what they do for a living.  You decide what kind of capsule you need and you work with that instead of randomly discarding items only to discover as I have that you really have a matching problem.

So once you figure out what your needs are- mine are a Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter- then you design them.  Just like painting a house or cultivating a garden, you start with a type of style and a color scheme to go with it.  The color is important because it helps you mix and match better.  You should have a basic staple color or two like brown, black, white, or grey.  And then have two or three other colors.  Having outliers like for special occasions is okay so long as it's one or two things. My goal is to have a different color scheme for my Spring/Summer mix then my Fall/Winter mix.

Now normal people already sort of have a base color for a particular season.  Maybe you have a lot of pastels and white as a base color for your Spring capsule.  Then in the summer you may keep your white base and substitute some more nautical colors like navy and red.

But this is my closet currently.  Brown, black, white, and grey.  For Spring/Summer I have a green shirt, a golden yellow, one black, one red, two pinks, two purples, two blues.  And those are just the shirts.  It's horrific.  And doing a disservice to me, which is probably why I'm sick of my clothes.  Not that I again dislike the individual pieces.  It's just they don't meld.

It would be easier if I already had something I was leaning towards in my closet, but it's not.  So I'm making a gut decision about my choices and plan on slowly culling out the stuff in my closet that doesn't fit into that pattern.  For now, I've decided that Spring/Summer will be brown based and have green, pink, and blue colors.  I'm having trouble giving up the purple because I like the purple.  So maybe I'll change my mine and be blue, purple, and green.  Then again my favorite color is red, but I have two things that are red.  Starting to see the problem?

Fall/Winter will be easier.  I'm thinking that black will be the base, but I'm having trouble on another base.  I'm leaning towards grey because that's the color of my coat and some other pieces, but I just bought some brown winter shoes which I guess I can wear during Spring/Summer.  *sigh* The accent colors would be red, purple, and blue.

It's funny how I see how this problem became.  I can't stick to an accent color in one capsule and I can't stick to a base in another.

So how does your wardrobe look?  Hopefully not as haphazard as mine.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Stop Blaming Christians

If you haven't heard by now, there was a tragic mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando Florida.  And according to ACLU and prominent LGBT groups/persons Christians are to blame.  This is totally incorrect.  Let me explain why.

1) The shooter was a male Muslim who pledged himself to ISIS/ISIL.  He was not a Christian.  He was a radicalized Muslim not even a radicalized Christian. 

2) Gay people are also Christian.  I've had numerous conversations with LGBT people who have said that being Christian and gay is not mutually exclusive.  And they are correct.  Steve Gershom (pseudonym) is a gay Catholic blogger.  Eve Tushnet is a prominent lesbian Catholic. 

3) In other news alcoholics can be Catholics. Adulterers can be Catholics.  Thieves can be Catholics.  We are all sinners and deal with a cross for not giving into our desires.  Sometimes we slip up.  But we don't have ticker tape parades for alcoholics.  Most people frown on open relationships.  And we jail thieves.  This isn't because we hate people.  It's because bad behavior has to be kept in check either by the person themselves or by society.  Many many many LGBT persons try to justify bad/immoral behavior to the point of desiring others to except this bad behavior.  But just like an alcoholic who falls off the wagon, it isn't going to happen.  If you truly love the alcoholic or the LGBT person you would come along side them and charitably try to guide them back to Christ and on the wagon. This means condemning LGBT behavior and drinking.  #SorryNotSorry  Souls are at stake here.  We want to convert you/reconcile you and not murder you.  Murder ends the whole saving-your-soul thing.  It's counterproductive for Christians to do that not to mention immoral.

4) The ACLU blamed the shooting on legislation against LGBT people.  Most of that legislation is actually to protect businesses and individuals who are religious.  And by religious I'm talking about Christians who are peacefully operating a business in accordance with their own ethics code which all businesses have.  Having an ethics code is a good thing.  A business who operates solely for the profit regardless of how it effects employees or the environment is a bad thing yes?  So we should be encouraging business owners to have business ethics yes?  I don't agree with Starbucks's business ethics or American Apparel's, but I'm glad they have something in place.  Nobody is banning either from contributing to whatever charity they want or offering whatever benefits package to their employees that they want.  Why cannot the same be said of Christians?

5) It won't effect you, they said.  That is until the LGBT people started passing discrimination legislation.  If you truly wanted Christians to not start fighting for their rights to practice their faith any and everywhere, why did you pick a fight specifically with Christians?  Why bother Christians about something they haven't even done as in the case of Mystic Pizza?  If we were left alone, then the legislation back lash would never have happened. 

6)  I've read books about anti-Catholicism and anti-Christianity in general.  And you know why there are so many Christian martyrs and victims of violence?  It's because Christians are easy targets.  Generally speaking it's rare that we strike back as a whole or as individuals.  People have to start pulling out various individuals or groups from hundreds of years ago to show Christian violence.  You don't have to go that far back when looking for atheists or Muslims as groups or individuals. 

7) And yet somehow the topic turned to blaming Christians and syncing it up with violence surrounding abortion.  As I said, it's extremely rare.  The last shooter couldn't stand trial because he was so mental.  Christians condemned the act as being entirely un-Christian.  But what does abortion have to do with targeting LGBT gay bars for mass murder?  Saying stuff like that is grasping at straws.

I get that people are angry and upset and want to blame someone.  And Christians are an easy soft target because we won't murder you.  Blaming ISIS or radicalized Islam will.  Maybe you should ask yourself why the ACLU et al. are taking the path of least resistance.  Maybe you shouldn't head in the same direction and instead place the blame squarely where it belongs- with the shooter and the group who shared his thirst for violence.  Stop blaming Christians.