Friday, May 17, 2013

Knitting, and Other Creative Successes

So I have started knitting.

A year ago, a friend I met in Bible study brought in a book on knitting pillows she had won from a raffle earlier in the week. She had been knitting for years and was explaining to me the ins-and-outs of how truthfully easy something like this was to knit. I did not believe her.

My own experience in the creative parts of life are as a cook and a writer. When I feel a tug to do something creative, or keep my hands busy, I generally open my pantry or Microsoft Word. Baking makes me happy, and writing is an invaluable medium for me. My handwriting still stinks to high heaven, though.

I explained to my friend, Terry, that I am not particularly crafty, but she was still willing to try what I thought was impossible: teach me to knit. My sister is the one who sews and makes things that are really impressive. The things I made, in my experience, were at the first-grade-toilet-paper-roll-craft level.

I have since discovered that this is not true, that actually I really like to craft. Some stuff I make even looks good. Most projects have a quirky, homemade quality, and I particularly enjoy making party decorations. But my friend, Terry, said that she could teach me. She was confident that knitting really is easy to learn, very relaxing, and fun.

I agreed, and she was right. Anyone can knit, even me.

We started by making simple swatches to learn both knit and purl, which are just opposites of each other and make up about 75% of the actions taken to actually knit something up. For a while I wondered how these two actions could take place side-by-side without canceling each other out, but it works.

Soon I was making really good-looking swatches, with no knots or holes or water stains (not that I would ever leave cold water alone for hours only to find the condensation would reach my project and warp the yarn.) Then, I graduated to the world’s longest scarf, because after practicing over and over, I had forgotten how to finish (called binding off). Then I made things for cute kids, like hats, and things with features I once thought really complicated, like cables.

It really is relaxing, too. There is something about the rhythm of knitting; it reminds me a bit like the praying the Rosary. While getting some nervous energy out by keeping your hands busy, you can really focus your mind and heart on much bigger things. I have found myself praying in the middle of a project many times, wondering why I hadn’t tried this method of prayer more often.

Overall, I recommend it. If you are looking for something new in the creative realm, try knitting. It is not just for older ladies, or for people with tons of free time. Many of the projects I have made held true to their quick-and-easy promise, and turned out nice for people of all ages. Some are even trendy (I am pretty sure a hundred years ago people were not knitting Kindle covers.)

But consider knitting not so much for the end result, though that is a nice bonus. In general, it is good to try something new every once in a while without worrying you might fail a couple times before succeeding. How you handle failure in small matters can shape how you handle it in big ones. For me, the perfect little thing to fail in—before happily succeeding—was knitting. And now, I have a wonderful new hobby.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Years

My husband Stephen and I just celebrated our three-year anniversary. People we know feel all sorts of things about this; “Is that all?”or “Already?!” or “Talk to us when you get to three decades” are all commonly said. And in some respects, these things are totally true.

But in several respects, we are a lot further along than what three years looks like on the face. We, like most newlyweds, have dealt with many unexpected struggles. I won’t be diving into those struggles today. Many, thankfully, we were ready for because we have kept prayer and communication lines open. Other struggles were learn-as-you-go.

This post will share some of the basic things we have learned in three years of marriage. Some are truly universal. Some are not. Some prove that we are laps behind where other people are (“They had to learn that? C’mon, that’s too basic….”) Gratefully, we are at least here, in the race.

It made the most sense to me to share these things not as advice for the world, but advice for myself in the world. Since my job as spouse is to get my husband to heaven, consider this my to-remember list for the next year.


You are not twins. And that is good. Great, in fact. You do not like all the same foods, or have the same habits. If your husband does not fall head over heels for your lasagna with kale, that is not a sign that your marriage in trouble. It is a sign that you don’t adore yourself to the point of marrying a clone, and that your husband feels safe and open enough with you to share the truth. Again, this is great. Focus on the uniqueness that is your husband. Share your own uniqueness with him, like your creativity in how you will find other ways to sneak feed him kale. And, embrace the differences as a way you can tag-team the things you will encounter as a couple, each one sharing his or her own strengths as applicable.

You are not date night people. You have heard from lots of women who swear by a date night, that this has worked wonders in their own marriage. Good for them. This is just not realistic for us, at least not right now. One night a week that you keep for dates, carved in stone, does not give the same authenticity off which you and Stephen thrive. Some of the best dates we have had can’t be called “dates,” because they offered spontaneous opportunity to focus on the other. Accept that your version of date night might be 15 minutes on a Wednesday morning, where no one has yet brushed their teeth.  

You have to commit. Cell phones, TV’s, computers—basically anything with a screen—can be a demand for your time, and pretty soon, your heart. And those are just the things we pay for. Look at all the other demands the world puts on us that we aren’t asking for. There will never be a work-family-obligation perfect storm. You are called to commit in the chaos.

You are not enemies. Disagreements are normal, not an invitation to debate. Debates have winners, and they have losers. And when one of you loses, you both lose. Marriage means you are on the same team. Be forgiving. Be reconciliatory. Complement each other, don’t compete with one another. Get over problems with open communication and as few tears as possible. Why? Because a new issue-demanding-tissues will probably be around the corner. Do not plant your flag on a big hunk of cheese, because you will soon find that after awhile your feet are oozing into a festering puddle of what once resembled something worthwhile.

You are not what the world tells you. Good wives are not perfect domestics, ball-busting career women, catty gossips, sex kittens or totally indifferent. If you see wives like this, don’t fall for their easy step-by-step how-to-be-a-modern-wife routine. They are thinking only of themselves, and you have done enough of that for a lifetime. For the most part, you are doing ok, good even. In many respects, step up. Put on your big girl high heels and be the wife your husband deserves. Be helpful. Be patient. Be affectionate. Be respectful. Be kind. And, be OK with being wrong.

You are not behind. You are not raising any kids yet, like you thought you would be. This is not a failure. Many people will tell you that you have all the time in the world. Try not to be offended. Other people will notice the lack of brood in toe and ask what the holdup is. Try not to get upset. Find the lovely middle ground that is your very blessed life right now, and settle in to accepting—and embracing—that God wants you where He has you.  

You are not alone. Do not become like the couples you know who drain you with their selfishness. They do no lift up their spouse, and instead of bragging about all of their spouse’s wonderful qualities, they grumble about (perceived) faults. They take from one another, complain, and look to us to take sides. In a way, they are travelling in this world not as part of a couple, but very much alone. This is more than exhausting. This is poisonous. This type of attitude only focuses on you, and not on your sacrifice and commitment for your husband. You and Stephen have found over and over when you focus first on God, then on your spouse, it leaves very little time for focusing on yourself—and that is when you both are happiest. Do not let others come between you and your spouse. Protect and honor your marriage vows.

You must have faith. Seek Him first, and believe He has a much greater plan in mind for you and Stephen than you could have ever imagined yourself. If you seek His will, He will work it in your life. This means that the peaks are a peek at heaven, and the valleys are when you are closest to our Lord. Trust.

And now to you. Anything I should remember over the next year?


Friday, May 3, 2013

First To Catch Up

Hello Everyone!

Looking at this blog, the last time I really sat down to publish a post was more than a year and a half ago. Maybe you missed this blog. Many times I did. Or, maybe this is a new discovery for you, in which case, welcome.

This past year and a half have been focused on reflection, on prayer, on growth, and on letting things that I wanted fizzle out, knowing that something much bigger, much more beautiful, and much more worthwhile was on the horizon.

And when I wasn’t looking, the sun rose.

I am honored to have a new job (well, “new” since more than a year and a half ago) as Stewardship Coordinator at Holy Spirit Church, my home parish for more than two decades. I have been in that position since October 2012. I get to share with my fellow Catholics the joy in recognizing that everything we have received is a gift from God, and that the best way to love Him is to give those gifts back to Him in the way that He desires from us. I get to chat with individual parishioners about my own experience of losing a job, of feeling a bit lost, of being unsure of how God could use me if I wasn’t being productive in the way the world values--but always getting to share how He desires us and that I am supposed to play a specific role in this world. I get to really dialogue with members of our faith community about how we can personally connect to support one another on this, our faith journey.

At work, we are beginning to focus on creating and growing a social media presence that is a reflection of our vibrant parish life. It’s very exciting work, and we are meeting with many parishes, individuals and organizations who have helped blaze the trail in this realm, including Lisa Hendey and Right to Life of Central California. And, of course, we are working on spreading the Gospel in the way that reaches how we communicate in the modern world while maintaining the truth and beauty of it. As our effort grows and develops, I am privileged to be part of it.

So much more to come in that arena. As for the rest of my life, stay tuned!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I know I have been gone for quite a while, but I plan to return to a regular posting schedule here--with good content--very soon.

Please stay tuned, if you are so inclined.

Thanks, and God Bless!