CST #302: Hope

hope

We look at the last several days through the adventures we had last Friday: picking up children from camp, missing exits (and our anniversary), and the SCOTUS decision. Also, we revisit hope.

Katherine’s Stich Fix referral link.

Movies & TV:

Chappie

Mr. Robot

The Strain

Max trailer

Blogs:

Catholicinasmalltown.com

Quotes:

Intro & Outro – Jim Gaffagan Show, Episode 2 (TV Land/Hulu)

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

Chapter Seven: A Dream (Part Two)

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By the time Sara had finished her shower and gotten dressed, she was ready for a snack.  She headed into the kitchen to find James standing in the midst of a number of boxes.

“I didn’t know where to put these things,” he said apologetically.  “There isn’t really any space for them.”

“Oh, my,” Sara said, thinking about her full cabinets.  “I don’t know how I forgot about that.  I didn’t even think…I mean, I just figured you would just use what I have.”

“Well, I used to be a very productive member of society, with my own apartment and everything, before I was forced to move back in with my mom.”  James looked at the floor.  He’s embarrassed, Sara thought.  I didn’t know he could be embarrassed.  How cute.

“No, I didn’t mean…”  Sara trailed off.  What to say?  “It’s just that, you know how Oden is.  When one of it’s prime citizens, or the son of a prime citizen, gets married, everyone feels the need to throw lots of parties.  Oh, you wouldn’t believe the parties we had.  The parties I was, shall we say, encouraged, to attend by William’s mom.  And we got all manner of kitchen gadgets and place settings.  Twelve fine china place settings.  Would you like to see?”  Sara opened up the cabinet above the refridgerator, a cabinet reserved for junk and cereal at her foster home.

“Oh, wow,” James said, peering into the deep space and seeing stacks of dishes.

“Yeah, I know.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful.  It’s beautiful and expensive.  I just don’t know when I would ever use it.  When I will ever use any of it.  I guess the idea is that one day we would stop being kids, have babies and move back to Oden.”  Sara stopped.  Those things would never happen, nor had she ever wanted them to.

James sensed this was a sensitive topic.  “Well, since you have all the necessaries, how about I just put this stuff in the storage house out back.  I mean, I won’t be here forever and I’ll need my stuff when I move.” James looked at her for some reaction to this statement.

“Yeah, I guess that’s the best thing.  You will need them eventually.”  She looked like she was pondering the next move.  “Well, I’m hungry.  Would you like a snack?”

“Sure, but now that I live here officially, you don’t have to feel like you’re my host.”  James hesitated.  “So, could you show me around the kitchen a little?  I do need to know where to put my groceries.”

“Oh, of course.  Listen, I’ll clean out one cabinet.  I certainly don’t need all of this stuff now.  I’ll put some in a box and you can have a cabinet to yourself.  I’m sure you at least have a favorite coffee mug that you need.”

“I do, I do.  Let me find it.”  James began rummaging around inside one of the boxes.  “Ah-ha!”  He held up his prize for Sara to see.

“You have got to be kidding me?  Mickey Mouse?”

“What’s wrong with the mouse?  He’s cute.”  James turned the mug around to admire all the sides.  “Really, it’s not about what’s on the outside.  It’s the weight of the mug, the size of the opening and the way the handle fits in your hand.”  James held out the mug to Sara.  She took it from him and held it like it had coffee in it.  “You see?  Good, right?”

Sara smiled.  “Yes, it’s great.  I just never met someone who had such strong feelings about coffee mugs before.”

“Well, I am very serious about my mug.  I’m very serious about my coffee.”  He pulled out a bag of coffee from a box.  “You can only get this at a certain shop in Atlanta.  This is my last box.  As soon as I get my first check, I’m going to get them to mail me some more.”  He looked at Sara.  “After I pay you rent, of course.”

“Well, I should hope the roof over your head comes before good coffee.”

“I don’t know, Sara.  A good cup of coffee makes life better.”

Sara was amazed how at ease she felt around this man.  William had been her love, but in the beginning she felt self-conscious around him.  And even after they had been together for years, there were still moments when she felt like she had to be careful of what she said, like he was criticizing her words and the way she acted around his friends, first in college and then at work.  Fitting in had never been her strong suit.

Sara and James set about making the kitchen livable for the two of them.  The unneeded boxes were taken out to the shed, and a cabinet was cleared for James to put his food.

James stood back and admired their handiwork.  “Now if I just had some food to put in there!”

“Do you want to go shopping now?  What if we just drove around for a while and I could show you the sights?  We have a few hours before it will be time to come back and work on supper.”

“Sounds great.  I’ll go cool off the car and we can go.”

Once the air conditioner had done its job the two of them headed off to find the grocery store.  To get there Sara took a round-about way, showing James Daffin Park, the Sand Gnats stadium, Washington Avenue, and several small green spaces that were dotted here and there throughout the subdivision.

“I’ll actually show you two grocery stores, one for when you just want the closest place and one for when you want a more complete shopping trip.”

“Sounds good,” James said, enjoying this time with Sara.  “So-o-o-…”

“Yes?” Sara asked.

“Have you told anyone else about the bun in the oven?”

Sara sat for a minute.  James wondered if he had just ruined what was turning out to be a great day.

“You don’t have to answer that.  I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay, really.”  Sara took a deep breath.  “No, I haven’t told anyone else.  I suppose I need to talk to someone about it, and since here you are and you already know, I can talk to you.”

“But I’m not exactly the kind of person you go to for advice about this sort of thing.”

“What?  Are you saying you should be female and old?”

“Well, that type of person would certainly have more advice than I do.”

“That’s true, but how many people have you ever known who have been in my exact position, with a dead husband and a baby on the way that no one knows about?”  Sara looked at James, her eyebrows up.

“Fair enough.  You’ve made your point.”  What could he say to her?  “Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t mind being your sounding board until you get ready to tell someone else your secret.  But I have a feeling that Miss Jane of yours will have it figured out before anyone else, even if she never says anything to you.  And she would probably be a very sympathetic ear, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

He was right, of course.  Jane would be a perfect confidante.

“I know you’re right, but I’m just waiting for something.  I don’t know what.”

They were both silent for a few minutes, each contemplating this big secret.  Sara wondering how in the world she was going to handle a baby all by herself and James wondering how in the world he was going to deal with a pregnant woman for the next few months.

“Do you know your due date?”

“What?”

“Your due date.  You know, the day that you think the baby will be born.”

Sara thought for a moment.  “You know, I haven’t even been to the doctor yet.  I haven’t even made an appointment.  I don’t even know where to begin a search for a doctor.”

“The yellow pages?” James offered.

“Well, yeah, if you want to do the obvious thing,” Sara said, grinning at the road, and James realized that she was joking with him.  This is going to be fun, if it doesn’t get weird, he thought, and settled back into his seat to enjoy the late summer scenery.

By the time they got back to the house, unloaded the groceries, and ate the grocery store sushi that James bought as a snack, it was almost time to get started with dinner.  The Newmans and the Mendelsohns were due any minute so Sara decided to do a quick walk-through pick-up so the house wouldn’t be a complete mess.  It was something she and William used to do when they were having company and if they had been drinking at all, they would bump into each other as they went from room to room putting items back where they belonged.  Sometimes, there was a quick romp as a result of all the “bumping.”

But Sara did this alone now.  Even though there was a man in the house, he wasn’t William and when she started to move stuff around, James excused himself to his room and shut the door.  Sara sat down on the couch.  Was it possible to now have someone here all the time and feel even more alone, even more isolated in her grief?

All right, Sara, no pouting right now.  There’s work to be done.  Sara could hear Eve’s voice inside her head, urging her on, moving her from moping to action.  She got up and finished the chores at hand, then, because the day had been hot, even in the air-conditioned car, she took a long cool shower.  The water helped to wash away the grime of the day and to calm her spirit.  By the time she got dressed and blew her hair dry it was seven and time for supper.

While the boys helped James heat up the grill, Sara had a chance to talk to Jane and Christine, who were about to bust.  Christine was the first to gush.

“Wow, Sara.  He is so cute.  And tall.  And polite.  Do you think it’s all an act?”

“He does seem too good to be true, but I don’t get that from him,” Miss Jane observed.  “He seems to be quite genuine.”

“And cute,” Christine added.

“Yes.  Yes.  He is cute, though he doesn’t hold a candle to my Bill.”  Sara and Christine smiled at that.  Jane and Bill had annoyed everyone in the best way by constantly having to be near each other.  And by being consistently pleasant.

Christine turned to Jane.  “Have you two always been so in love?  I mean, really.  My parents divorced when I was twenty and I never knew my grandparents.  So I’ll just go ahead and say that it seems odd to me to see two people so in love after so many years together.”

Jane seemed thoughtful, looking up a little and smiling.  “You know, it hasn’t always been like this.  There have been times when I hated that man.  Moments when the kids were little and he was so involved at his job and I was home with them all day.  What little brats they could be!  And he would come home and I would feel completely ignored except when it was time to go to bed.”

Sara and Christine’s eyebrows shot up at that.  Jane noticed.

“What?  Your generation talks more about sex than any generation before.  Yes, Bill and I had sex.  Yes, it wasn’t always wonderful.  Sometimes I felt like I was a warm body at night, a vessel to make his babies and hands to cook his supper.  But I realized at some point that he didn’t make me feel that way.  I let myself be made to feel that way.  I decided that I would tell him how I felt.  So I did.”

“Did he get mad at you?” Sara asked.

“I suppose he was a little mad.  But he was also surprised.  He hadn’t known I felt that way.  And how could he?  I hadn’t told him.  I made a vow to myself right then that I would let him know when things were bothering me.  And I have.  Communication has got to be one of the most important parts of a marriage.  When you bury your thoughts and feelings, they fester and grow.  But there’s something else, too.”

Sara and Christine were at attention.  Christine especially seemed to be wondering what revelation was coming next.

“You may scoff at me, but when we got married we made a vow to be in church together.  There have been years when we didn’t make that as much of a priority, but the years that we have…those have been the best years.”  Jane smiled.  “And I will say, that if you can stick it out together, I know you can’t believe this now, but the sex just gets better and better.”

Sara and Christine’s eyes were wide.

“Really?” Christine asked, incredulously.

“Yes, really.  And don’t look so shocked.  After forty years that man knows how to please.”

Just then, Bill stepped into the kitchen from the back door.  All the women looked up at him.  Christine and Sara were looking at Bill as if he had just become Cary Grant incarnate.

“Bill,” Christine said. “Way to go.”

Bill was looking around as if everyone had lost their minds.  “What?” he asked, turning to Jane.  “What have you said?”

She put her arm around him.  “Only that you are the best husband in the whole world, dear,” she said, giving his waist a squeeze.

“Well, thanks, I think,” he replied, kissing the top of her head.  He still wasn’t convinced.  “You’re sure that’s all?”

Sara and Christine nodded.  “Oh, yeah,” they said in unison, smiling.

Now Mark and James were coming in as well.  “So the party’s moved in here, huh?” Mark asked, walking over to Christine and putting an arm around her.

James and Sara were next to each other now.  Both of them looked at each other awkwardly.  The other two couples were having little conversations of their own.  “This is weird, huh?” James asked, leaning over to whisper to Sara.

“A little,” she replied.  Missing William suddenly, she said out loud, “I’ll just go and toss the salad.”  She turned and opened the door to the fridge.

“I’ll help,” Christine said.  “What can I do?”

Sara was facing away from the group, trying to hide her now wet eyes.  Christine came over to her, using the act of taking vegetables out of her hands to whisper to Sara.  “It’s okay, you know.  We all know this is new.  Everyone’s just trying to keep things light for you.”

“I know and I appreciate it.  I just need a minute.  Please?”

“Okay.”  Christine turned to face the group. “All right, let’s move out of this hot kitchen.  Mark wasn’t there some kind of game on that you wanted to watch?”

Mark looked confused.  “Yeah, sure, babe.”  Then to James, “James, buddy, what’s your poison?  Basketball, baseball, football, golf?”

“Sports?  I love college football.  But I guess baseball will have to do for August.  Are the Braves playing tonight?”

The crowd moved out of the kitchen and into the living room.  Jane glanced over her shoulder as she was the last one to leave and could see Sara at the counter chopping a green pepper.  Her shoulders shaking in silent grief.

 

 

After supper was over everyone helped with the clean-up so that by the time the last of the neighbors left it was after midnight and Sara and James said a quick good-night and went straight to their rooms.  For her part, Sara fell on the bed and was asleep in an instant, aware of nothing until the smell of coffee woke her from a deep sleep.

For the first time in weeks, Sara did not wake up and feel immediately nauseous.  She also realized that, amazingly, she’d slept through the night.  She rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed realizing that there was someone else in her house.  That someone else had gotten up and made coffee and that she wasn’t alone.  She walked into the bathroom, ran a brush through her hair and walked out into the kitchen.

James was standing at the sink, reading the paper and sipping from his Mickey Mouse mug.

“Good morning, Mrs. Carraway,” he said, grinning at her morning look.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I found the paper on the porch this morning and thought I’d get familiar with life in Savannah.”

“No, that’s fine.”  Sara was eyeing the coffee pot.  James noticed the gleam of want in her eyes.

“Would you like some coffee, Sara?”

“Oh, yes, please,” she said, grateful for the thought of the warm liquid.

He walked over to the cupboard and reached for a mug.  “Now, you must remember that this is the best coffee on the planet and I will expect you to enjoy and appreciate it as such.”  James was pouring her a cup and she reached out for it.  She took a sip.  She savored the warmth and bitterness of it.  He was right.  It was delicious.  Her reaction must have shown on her face.

“Good, uh?”

She could only nod with her eyes closed.  She still felt fuzzy around the edges.  James, however, looked like he was ready to face the day.

“Are you always so chipper in the morning?  I feel like I need about two hours to become the self that can function in society.”

“Well, I’ve been up for two hours.  New house I guess.”

“Really?  I didn’t even hear you.  I was completely out of it after last night.  But I did sleep better than I have in weeks.  Maybe we should have a dinner party every night.”  She looked at James, who was giving her the “no-way-no-how” look.  “What?  You didn’t enjoy that?”

“I did.  Of course I did.  I’m just big on down time.”

“Have you ever had roommates before?”

“Oh, sure.  In college.  But not when I had my job in Atlanta.  It was really great having my own place.  No one to worry me about the dishes in the sink, the bathroom floor being dirty, not picking up my socks.  Though I must admit, after that first month, when the place got really nasty, I started cleaning it up without even asking myself.”

“Ha-ha.  You’re hilarious.”

“Thank you.  I like to think so.”

“So, I guess you’re starting your new job today?”

“Yeah, in fact I need to get a move on,” James said, looking at his watch.  He gulped the rest of his coffee and started filling up a travel mug.  Sara reached into a cabinet and pulled out the toaster.

“This is a little weird but…”

“Yes?” James asked.

“I just…how do you want to…I mean, I’m not your secretary or anything…” Sara was getting more and more flustered.

“You’re wondering, do we tell each other where we’re going to be and what we’re doing?”

“Yes,” Sara said with relief.

“Well, for now how about I’ll let you know if I won’t be spending the night.  I mean, I’ll be at work everyday and I don’t know anyone yet to be going and doing anything with.  But you shouldn’t have to report to me either, right?”

“Right.”

“Okay, then.  I posted my cell number on the fridge, just in case you needed to reach me for something.  And I think I have yours.”  James walked over to where Sara was standing in the doorway.

“Cool,” Sara said.  “Well, have a great first day.”  He leaned over and there was an odd moment where he seemed to catch himself before leaning further.  Then he straightened up and walked past her.  He turned back.

“Thanks, Sara.  You have a great day as well.”  And he was gone.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

On staying Catholic…

Why do I remain Catholic?

This is such a weird question to me. Like asking me why I stay married. “Well,” I would say to nosy hypothetical person, “Why wouldn’t I? I made a vow.”

And I did, to the Catholic Church. The big, old, behemoth that often has members who make STUPID decisions. Stupid decisions that lead to people being hurt, damaged, forever.  Did any of those sinful decisions alter the foundations of the church that I am a part of?  Does any sin change the TRUTH of the gospel?  How strong is my faith?  Can it weather the storm?  Do I believe the Lord’s words, “Upon this rock I will build my kingdom and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

Here are the answers:

No.  Those decisions did NOT alter the Catholic Church.  The catechism did not get rewritten.  Institutions do not fail people…people fail people.  Bishops and priests and nuns and parents failed children.  They did.  But bishops and priests are not the Rock of my faith.

No.  Sin does not change the truth of the gospel.  The gospel is love overcoming sin and death.

My faith has not been altered by these scandals.  I was baptized as an infant.  I, with my dad’s encouragement, prayed for Jesus to come in to my heart at the age of 7.  I was confirmed in the Methodist Church at the age of 12.  I was moved by the Holy Spirit at church camp.  I was confirmed in the Catholic Church Easter Sunday 2000.  My mother praised God through death and cancer.  As did her mother and my father’s mother.  This legacy of faith was my foundation, my rock.  And now this is my faith.  The anchor holds.

Yes, unequivocally yes.  I believe the Lord’s word.  These scandals are the “gates of hell.”  When we let sin and vice run our lives, when we stop going to confession, when we stop being TRULY sorry for the sins that we have committed, then we bring the gates of hell with us through life.  These scandals should bring us to our knees to pray for protection for children.  Pray for wisdom for bishops and priests.  Pray for courage to stand up when those who benefit from silence would have us sit down.

The Rock has not changed.  “But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:6 KJV)  Jesus charged us with protection of children long ago.  That has not changed.  The devil got in.  It’s what he does.  He is a roaring lion seeking to “kill, steal and destroy.”  And, oh, he roared over this one.

But he will not prevail.  His end is written.

So I remain.  Without reserve.  To fail.  To fight.  To run the race.  This is my Church.

 

CST #301: Inside Out

Inside Out

We’re on a boat! The boys go to camp, we review Inside Out, Catastrophe, and As You Wish. We also touch on homosexual marriage and the role of fathers.

Movies & TV:

Inside Out

Catastrophe (Amazon Instant Video)

Audiobook:

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons by Meg Meeker

Blogs:

The Art of Manliness: Importance of Fathers & How to Plan Your Week

Quotes:

Intro – Moone Boy (Hulu Plus) Season 3 Episode 1

Outro – Catastrophe (Amazon Instant Video) Episode 1

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

On Stitch Fix #1: June 2015…

I’m nervous about posting this because this will be quite a departure from my normal post. I am reviewing something. I’m doing this for two reasons. One…I think it’s a cool idea.  Not my reviewing something, but this start-up, Stitch Fix is innovative. And also, because if you have similar feelings then perhaps you will grab my link and I’ll get a little referral fee. I’ll explain more later. But first the review.

I was ridiculously excited to get this little box in the mail. As others who have reviewed this service have said, there’s a surprise in every box, chosen for you by someone who may know your taste better than anyone else, because you made a Pinterest board just for them.

The way these reviews work, if you don’t know, is that the reviewer takes pictures of herself in each item and then says a little about the item. What’s kind of cool is that you can post a link of your review to the stylist and then they can know what you liked and didn’t like. A little conversation online between stylist and subject. So, the rest of this post is all for Christina, wherever she may be.  Special thanks to my hubby, who willingly got up from playing his video game in-between my costume changes to take these pictures.

#1: PAPERMOON Shea Striped French Terry Dress
Verdict–KEEP

IMG_8363

When I first put this on, I was not keeping it.  This dress is not the most flattering shape on me. And I think it’s a little big. But only slightly so that the next size down might be too small (Christina actually knows my MEASUREMENTS…guard them with your life, Christina!)  The waist is elastic, so it holds on without being uncomfortable.  I do wish that the tie in the front was a belt.  It would be nice to be able to add a belt just for some contrast.  The tie in the front is just there as decoration.  It doesn’t come off nor does it make the waist tighter.

But as I wore it it I realized, that this is one of those dresses that I could live in all summer. It’s light-weight, cool, can be a runaround town dress or a pool cover up. I love it…except for the horizontal stripes, Christina. I really don’t like horizontal stripes.

#2: EVERLY Nadia Dress
Verdict–UNDECIDED

IMG_8366

Love the color on this dress. It’s actually just right for me in the summer. The fabric reminds me of my grandmother’s closet. That’s not a bad thing.  Mac, my husband, likes it and it’s different from some other dresses I have in my closet. I think that this will work as a Sunday dress throughout the summer.

#3: PIXLEY Brook Dot Print Tie-Waist Top
Verdict–UNDECIDED

IMG_8370

Hard to tell from the picture, but this is a pretty sheer top. I don’t have anything like this in my closet. I don’t have ANY polka dots in my closet. So this is a departure for me. Christina, you said you put this in instead of a white tunic top. I do like it. It’s nice and light for summer.

#4: COLLECTIVE CONCEPTS Dustin Mixed Material Top
Verdict–KEEP

IMG_8372

When I first pulled this out, I didn’t think I would like it. The colors are similar to dresses that I pinned. I love navy and white. But the pattern is horizontal and the shoulders give a more boxy appearance. But when I put it on with the white skinny jeans and navy sandals, Mac said “I like it.” Unequivocally. I think this top can move from summer to fall pretty easily with jeans or navy dress pants. I should have taken a picture of the back…it’s solid white with a zipper at the neckline. Again, not something that I would normally choose, but I see you, Christina, as someone who is broadening my clothing horizons.

#5: URBAN EXPRESSIONS Caroline Hobo Bag
Verdict–UNDECIDED

IMG_8393

I’m on the fence about this one, as well. I did post some pics on the Pinterest board of bags. I am trying to expand my accessories. Maybe even do a little bag swapping through the season instead of picking one and staying with that for 6 months or more (or until I wear them out). This is a nice bag. It looks fancier than what I usually buy.

So, there you go Christina.

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service in which you go to the website and create a style profile.  There is a questionnaire asking about elements of style that you like or don’t like.  You can link to a Pinterest board of styles you are interested in.  You can even leave personal notes for your stylist.  For instance, I included some of my favorite colors and my measurements.  Once you get all that info in, you go onto a list and your “FIX” is scheduled.  There is a $20 styling fee which will be applied to anything you purchase.  You will receive 5 items in each box and you can keep all or none.  If you keep all five items, you get a 25% discount on everything.  Boxes are scheduled to your desire, as often as you like.  From other reviews that I have read, the customer service is pretty great.  If you have a problem with your stylist or damage to clothing, they are good about rectifying those things.

If you, the reader, decide to try out the service, this link does allow me to get a $25 credit.  Which is nice for me, I admit.  Just in case you were wondering, the prices in this fix ranged from $40-$70.

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UPDATE:  I ended up keeping only the pieces I wasn’t undecided about.

CST #300: Skanky Cat

Scanky Cat

Greg & Jennifer Willits sneak into the studio to join us for another long show We finish the room, review Jurassic World, and consider how podcasting has improved our faith life.

Card game:

Anomia

Movie:

Jurassic Park

Jurassic World

Please support us through Patreon: patreon.com/cst

Find us at catholicinasmalltown.com

On my war with myself…

 

Father Robert Barron posted an article which had Bruce Jenner in the title. That name is kind of everywhere right now.  And so I clicked on the link because Fr. Barron (no relation, by the way) usually has something very insightful to say.  He did not disappoint.

But what he had to say struck me in a different way than I thought it would.  It made me want to point a finger, not at Bruce Jenner and the upside-down world we live in, but at myself.  At my own war with my body.  A war that has been going on for the better part of my life.

This is not a post where I say I should give it up and let it go.  Stop trying to be healthier.  Stop wearing makeup.  Stop taking showers.  Nothing like that.  Rather, it is a reminder that God made me.  All of me.  My smile and my hair and my Howard legs and my nose.  I say all of these parts, because they are all parts that I look in the mirror or at pictures of myself and see and criticize.  Over and over again.  And GOD MADE ME.  And this creation that we are all a part of is GOOD.  He looked at the world that he made and said “IT IS GOOD.”  And my body, which is ME, not separate from me, is GOOD.

I live, we live, in a fallen world.  So, I am aging.  My knees hurt sometimes.  Parts sag. Wrinkles deepen.  But, GOD MADE ME.  I have to learn to work WITH, not AGAINST, my very self. As Fr. Barron says, “Moreover, the mind or will is not the “true self” standing over and against the body; rather, the body, with its distinctive form, intelligibility, and finality, is an essential constituent of the true self.”  My body is myself.  And lest I seem like this is strictly about ME, there is another step.  When we give ourselves a break in the body department, when we learn to love ourselves with our flaws because we are made by GOD, then we tend to be able to love others more fully, because we see that GOD MADE THEM TOO.  ALL of them.  Even their physical flaws, which are the most obvious to us, and sometimes the hardest to look past.

So…challenge.  Especially for women.  Look in the mirror.  That person that you see…God made them.  And those parts that you criticize…he made those, too.  So, there you are.  Look and say, Thank You to the God that made you.  I will endeavor to do the same.

CST #299: Wonder Twins Activate!

Wonder_Twins

We’re on the way home from the CNMC for this extra long show. We met lots of great folks, watch California crumble under The Rock, remember to appreciate our time every day, and Mac reminds himself of the spiritual dangers of wasting that time.

Movies & TV:

San Andreas

The Office (US)

About Time

47 Ronin

Podcasts & Audiobooks:

The Catholic Family

Podcast on Christians watching Game of Thrones

Board Games:

King of Tokyo

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On CNMC 2015…

Sitting in the hotel lobby after lunch.  Just needed some time to process some of the amazing things that I’ve heard in the first few hours of the Catholic New Media Conference in Atlanta.  (Ok, I’m also here in the lobby because someone, I’m not gonna say who, but he’s tall and goofy looking and I’m married to him, needed a nap and I thought I did, but I really didn’t.)

First, Maria Johnson, author of Maria’s drink (that’s a Mojito for the uninitiated) is the reason I’m writing this.  Because she talked about blogging.  And I have a blog.  And I don’t blog enough.  Or rather, I don’t blog consistently.  Or with intentionality.  Which is how she said we SHOULD blog.  Who am I?  Why am I blogging?  What do I have to say?

Another thing that she reminded us is that those we come in contact with on social media and through our blogs and podcasts, are real people.  We haven’t meet them yet, but they have hopes and dreams and lives.  The way we treat others on social media is just as important as the way we treat those next to us.  For some, it is may be their only connection to the Catholic world.  We have to be mindful of that.

Second, Greg Willits, bringing some truthiness.  Podcasting and blogging and this whole “digital revolution” that has occurred over the last 10-15 years has made it possible for us to create and connect in ways that we never could have dreamed.  We have a community of friends that spans the globe. How do we tap in to that effectively? What talents can we use for the Church? His keynote was a wonderful opener to remind us that we should be doing what we are doing – WELL. He has made his talk available for free if you would like to hear it.

Some cool things have come from the CNMC. This is the fourth of these conferences that Mac and I have attended and they are always so energizing. As I finish up this post, three weeks have gone by. I certainly do not feel the excitement that I was feeling as I began the post, but many conversations have occurred since June 7th both with other podcasters and bloggers, as well as between Mac and I, about how we see our presence in the digital world changing. What personal goals do I have? What collaborations would I like to get involved with? Am I brave enough to ASK someone to collaborate with me? Am I prepared for rejection?

Moving forward with new goals requires vision. It requires determination. It requires a sincere knowledge that I may be knocked down, but also an expectation of success. I’m excited about how the next year will look. I’m excited to see where some new goals will take me.

Chapter Seven: A Dream (Part One)

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Sara was walking through Forsyth Park, again.  She could see the fountain in front of her, spraying water in all directions, the droplets glinting in the late afternoon sun.  But something was off and Sara suddenly realized that she was the only one around.  She heard no sounds of children on the playground, no tourists or wedding couples taking pictures by the fountain, she couldn’t even hear the sounds of traffic running up and down Drayton and Whitaker on either side of the park.  It was as if she was alone in the world and her ears had cotton in them.

She looked up and could see the Spanish moss dripping from the old oak trees.  The moss was moving lazily in a cool, dry breeze that did not belong in Savannah in September.  She kept moving forward, towards the fountain.  When she got to the ornate iron railing surrounding it, she paused and just watched for a moment, the breeze and the spray cooling and calming her.

Then through the mist she thought she could make out the shape of a person on the other side of the fountain.  She walked to her left just a few steps and could see that it was a man, a tall blond man.  Suddenly her heart leapt in her chest.  It was William, she knew it!  Now she was running and the fountain seemed to get bigger as she ran, the railing around it growing so that she couldn’t seem to get any closer to him.

Then he was right in front of her.  She couldn’t speak.  She could feel herself crying, though there were no tears on her cheeks.  He was so beautiful, so warm and so real.

“Sara,” he said. “Don’t be sad.”

She still couldn’t speak.  And there was so much that she wanted to say to him.

“It’s okay.”  He walked closer towards her.  His hand came up and rested on her belly.  Her eyes went from his hand to his face and he smiled.  She closed her eyes and knew that he was going to kiss her now, just like the first time, and that everything, everything was going to be okay.

“Sara.  Sara.  Wake up, Sara.”  Why was William shaking her like that?  She tried to open her eyes to look at him, but her eyelids seemed to be fused together.  Slowly she felt the wooden slats beneath her hip and the sweat running down her neck and knew that she wasn’t in Forsyth Park anymore.  She opened her eyes to see not William, but James looking down at her.  She could still feel the weight of William’s hand on her belly and wished that she could close her eyes and be back with him again.  But if James was here then it was Sunday and it was time to welcome her roommate to her home.

She couldn’t believe that she had fallen asleep on the swing.  That nap was by far the best sleep that she had gotten in a month.  The week since James went back to Oden had passed fairly quickly as Sara settled into a routine.  Get up, spend time bent over her trashcan, get dressed and head to work.  Come home, take a walk, eat dinner alone and go to bed.  She was still not sleeping much and by the end of the week, she felt like she was running on fumes.  Plus, she had watched so many info-mercials that she was sure she could write one of the scripts herself.

She had spoken with Mark and Christine about her plans to have a roommate and about her idea for Sunday.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Christine.

“Just make sure he knows what’ll happen if he tries to mess with you.  Bill may be old and I may be scrawny, but we’ll find a way to take him down.”  Mark was keeping things light and Sara appreciated it.  Christine, however, was not amused.

“Well, Mark may be joking around, but I’m not.  Though I do think this is a great idea, you know that we will help however and whenever we can.  As for supper, I’ll bring chicken breasts and we can grill.”

The two of them and the Newmans had been so supportive of her that Sara almost told them about the baby.  But something stopped her and she wasn’t sure what it was.  Perhaps Sara herself was still hoping that it was a stomach flu and that it would magically get better one day.  Whatever the reason, she was keeping her news to herself for now.  Soon, the evidence would be out for all to see.  And, she supposed that she would have to see a doctor at some point.  Then the baby would be real, and she would have to face the fact that William would never get the chance to hold his child in his arms.

But here was James, ready to move in and she was having a heck of a time shaking sleep and the dream from her mind.  She tried to sit up and almost fell off of the swing.

“Whoa, there, missy!  Don’t fall.”  James had a hold on her arm and sat down next to her to steady her.  But she could not help but giggle at the fact that his exclamation sounded like he was trying to control a horse.

“Are you sure you don’t have a secret life as a cowboy?”  Sara grinned at him.  She was surprised at how glad she was to see him, even after her dream of William.

“Well, I don’t know, little lady,” James replied, taking on a really bad John Wayne drawl that made Sara laugh even more.  “Why don’ I go wrassle us up some grub?”

“Really?  What time is it?”  The sweat coming from her neck and chest certainly spoke that the sun was high.

“It is eleven thirty and already hot as blue blazes.  Are you sure your friends won’t melt in this heat?”

“Well, Bill and Mark are sweet, but not that sweet.  They helped me clean out your room earlier in the week, so it’s completely empty now and ready for your stuff.  But the Newmans won’t be here until after one.  They go to Mass near here then out to brunch with friends.”

“Catholic, uh?  You don’t find that much in the South.  Are they transplants?”

“I don’t think so.  They’ve lived here since they got married and they’re retired.  Besides, I grew up Catholic.”  Sara was feeling suddenly defensive about the religion that she didn’t participate in anymore.

“Really?  Growing up in Oden, I thought all the Catholics lived in the northeast and Europe.  I don’t think we even have a Catholic church in Oden.”

“Yes, you do.  William and I used to pass it on the way to his mom’s house.  I mean, it is tiny.  Maybe you have to be Catholic to even notice it.”

“So, do you go to Mass?”

“Oh, god, no.  I haven’t been to Mass in years.  But I guess, once a Catholic always a Catholic.  Even if I don’t participate, that’s still the box I mark on official forms that ask my religion.  Weird, huh?”  Now that Sara thought about it, it was weird.  Why hang on to a dead faith?  Loyalty?

“Did you and William go anywhere else to church?  I mean, he grew up Methodist, right?”

“Oh, yeah.  He grew up going to church.  His mother made sure of that.  But he never went to church when we were together.”  Sara took a moment to remember.  “Sunday’s were for unwinding.  Coffee and the paper in bed.  Krispy Kreme doughnuts if one of us felt like going out.  Sometimes it was me.  Sometimes him.  If it was pretty outside we might go to the beach.  Tybee Island is only twenty minutes from here.  Daffin Park is just a block to the right and they have a walking track and tennis courts.”  Sara laughed.  “To go to church when we were praising the gods of relaxation and leisure after a week of work would seem like a sacrilege.”

“You sound a little bit like a brochure for Ardsley Park.”  Sara gave him a look and James put his hands up.  “Don’t get me wrong.  This is a beautiful area and I can see why you love it so much.  It’s just funny to hear you put it that way.”

“You know,” Sara said.  “When William first said that he wanted to move to Savannah, I was completely against it.  I grew up in North Georgia and the thought of moving even further south was not pleasant.  But he asked me just to come and see the city and I fell in love.  We looked for houses in newer areas but just kept coming back here.  There’s so much history and we’re so close to downtown and the river.  We paid too much for the house, but it was worth it.”  Sara stopped and thought about it.  It would have been worth it if William had life insurance.  Why hadn’t they thought about that?  What dream world had they been living in?

James coughed a little and Sara looked over at him.  “Sorry,” she said. “I just got a little lost for a minute.”

“Don’t worry about it.  Do you want to run out and get some lunch?  I haven’t eaten since this morning before I loaded the truck.”

“Yeah, sure.  I actually haven’t eaten at all.  I came out here right at dawn thinking to just enjoy the cool air.  I never thought I’d fall asleep for four hours.”  Sara thought for a minute about the best place to go for lunch.  “There’s a sandwich shop around the corner.  We could walk, but it’s too hot for my taste.  Let’s drive.”

When they got back from lunch, James started to move the smaller boxes to the house and Sara walked across the street to let Bill and Jane know that they were ready.  He kept thinking about finding Sara asleep on the swing.

When he had pulled up in his truck, he just sat for a minute, thinking about the change in his life.  It wasn’t that long ago that things were much less complicated for him.

Just a few months ago, he had been living in Atlanta.  His six figure salary at a job that he, let’s face it, hated, had provided him with all the comforts that a single guy in his twenties could want.  An apartment in Buckhead, a great car, and plenty of dates.  And he loved life in Atlanta.  It was everything that life in Oden wasn’t.  There was always a new restaurant to try, new people to meet.  Then overnight that life was all gone.  The company that he was working for had gone bankrupt and he was out of a job.  Since all the guys he worked with were looking at the same type of job he was, his prospects were slim to none.  And because he never saved a dime and everything he owned was leased, after two months he had nothing.  There was nothing to do but go home to the tiny house he grew up in, where his mom still lived alone.

She was happy to have him and Uncle Martin offered him part time work, but it was depressing.  Oden was depressing, the funeral business was depressing and his mom was depressing.  His dad had left them when he was ten and his mother had never loved anyone else.  Oh, there had been other men, but she never got over his dad.  There were times when she would look at him and he knew that even though she loved him, a part of her hated him for looking like the man who broke her heart.  Living with his mom was hard.

But now here he was in a new city, with a new job and this complication with pretty brown hair and a dead husband.  And the complication was sleeping on a porch swing.  He walked over to her and took a moment to watch her sleep.  There was such a look of peace on her face that he hated to wake her.  But if he didn’t wake her, he might kiss her.

He looked around the living room for a moment trying to imagine hanging out with Sara in here, watching t.v., being friends.  His reverie was broken by the sound of voices coming up the front walk.  Sara and an older couple walked up the front steps just as a younger couple were making their way to the door.  James came out and met them.  They all stood for a moment and looked at each other.  The men seemed to be sizing each other up.  Christine and Jane glanced at each other with raised eyebrows that Sara noticed right away.  James finally coughed.

“Oh, sorry,” Sara said. “Guys, this is James Overman.  James, this is Bill and Jane Newman and Mark and Christine Mendelson.”  James shook everyone’s hand in turn.

“Well,” he said. “Luckily, there’s not a whole lot to move.  I think we can get it done pretty quickly.  Thanks again for being willing to help me out.”

“Sure, man,” Mark said. “We’d do anything for Sara.  Right, Bill?”

“Yep, anything for Sara,” Bill responded with a wink at Jane.  Jane punched him in the arm and Christine was shooting daggers at Mark.

Sara laughed.  “Thanks, guys.  I think James understands that you’re looking out for me.”

“Way to be subtle,” Christine said under her breath to Mark.

“What?  That wasn’t subtle?”  Mark looked over at James and grinned.  “Come on, man.  Let’s get this car unloaded before we melt.  Sara did tell you that I melt if not given cold beer on a hot day, right?”

Christine pushed Mark into the house.  “Oh my god, Mark.  You are a complete nut.”  She looked apologetically at James.  “I’m so sorry.  Please forgive my insane husband.”

“Oh, he’s not insane.  I also melt if not given cold beer on a hot day.  What about you Bill?”

Bill put his arm around his wife.  “I think I’m going to like this guy, Jane.”

When the truck was unloaded and the men had all had their cold beer while sitting around congratulating themselves on the amazing job they had done, there was still a lot of afternoon left.  The group decided to go cool off and return to Sara’s house for supper at seven.  Which gave Sara and James their first few minutes alone in the house.

There was an awkward moment.  He stood and looked at her.  She stood and looked at him.

“Well,” she said.

“Well,” he said and smiled.  She smiled back.

“I’ll just go and take a shower,” Sara said.  “In this heat I could take three a day.”

“I’d love one of those.  How’s the hot water?  Should I wait for you to finish?”

“Oh right.  Good question.  Yes.  William and I always swapped out.  But I can be quick.  Give me twenty minutes.”  Should she let him go first?  “Or you could go first.  It’s fine with me.  Whatever you want.”

James laughed.  “Why don’t you go ahead.  I may need at least twenty minutes to find my clothes.”

“Okay.  Well, first roommate problem solved.”  Sara headed into her room and straight to the shower.  She felt strange undressing and showering with a man in the house who was not William.  This was going to take some getting used to.

Sara remembered back to when she and William had kissed in front of her apartment that first night.  Sara had gone to bed, dreaming of this new guy.  She didn’t want to hope that he would call her.  She didn’t want to be disappointed and she hadn’t been.  He called the next day, asking her if she wanted to come with him to a frat party that night.

She was so nervous and excited.  Her roommate, Amy, helped her pick out something to wear.  She and Amy weren’t great friends.  They had found each other through the apartment complex’s roommate match service.  They really didn’t have much in common besides both being juniors.  But Amy had been to a lot more Greek parties than Sara had, especially since Sara had not actually been to any.

“Look, Sara,” Amy said looking through Sara’s closet.  After a minute she shut the door, turned around, and sighed as if in defeat. “You have a great body, but you hide it.  Come to my room.  Let’s see what we can find.”

The dress she had picked hugged Sara’s curves in a way that she was not at all comfortable with, but that excited her just the same.  Why shouldn’t she look her best?  She was going out with a great looking guy.  She certainly didn’t want to look like a librarian.  She said that to Amy.

“Well,” said Amy, looking circumspect. “That really depends on the kind of librarian you want to be.”

“What do you mean?” Sara asked.

“I mean, librarians can be very sexy.  With the right skirt and your hair up in a bun, you can make a guy wonder what you would look like with your hair down.”

“Oh-h-h-h,” Sara said, with sudden understanding.

But she had opted to avoid the librarian look and wear her hair down and to keep the fun, sort of sexy dress.  When William came to pick her up later, she was shaking with fear and anticipation.  Would he still like her?  Was last night just a fluke?  Was this all some sick joke?  And then he was there, and he was smiling and her heart was in her knees.

“Hi,” he said, looking her up and down. “You look amazing.”

“Thanks,” she said, not believing him, but wanting to.

He stayed by her side the whole night.  He got her beer for the first hour and then water when she asked for it, never pressuring her to drink more than she wanted to.  There was a moment hours into the night when they were dancing and he was holding her close and they were both sweaty, but the music was slow.  The beat and the bass seemed to be coming from inside her.  William’s left hand was in the small of her back.  His other hand was between her shoulder blades, swaying her in time to the music.  She felt sexy and daring.  She was aware of her body in a way that she had never been before.

In the middle of the song, he pulled back, looking at her.  Perhaps he would have said something, but the music was so loud.  He looked into her eyes, then at her mouth, and back to her eyes again, asking the question.  She moved towards him in answer and they kissed.  The kiss seemed to go on and on, his hands and their bodies still moving to the rhythm of the music.

When he took her home later, he was again a complete gentleman.  But she wanted to ask him to come in.  Her body seemed to be on fire.  She could feel every inch of her skin tingling in ways that it never had before.  Now she knew what the books meant, what her youth group leader meant, when they said “burning with passion.”  She was burning up, and William was the only person who could cool her off.

The next few weeks were a blur, between her hectic school schedule and seeing William every night she barely had time to sleep.  When they finally made love, it was wonderful.  And at the end of the semester, when Amy made the decision to transfer to another school, William moved in.  They had been together ever since.

But never again had she been aware of her body quite the way she was that first time she and William danced together.  Their sex life was good, sometimes amazing, sometimes ho-hum, but that was marriage.  That was living with someone day in and day out, knowing all the good and bad there was to know.  And Sara wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Still there was something about that first awareness and she felt it now.  With the changes that were already taking place to her body, including the slight swell to her belly that was imperceptible to anyone but her, she was forced to notice her body.  And with a man in her house, an attractive, honorable man, she wasn’t sure that she was ready for the changes.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Katherine Barron

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