Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Be Like Briony! (Or: Disability and Reality TV)

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So, I love the Great British Bake Off. Do you? :)

(For those of you who have no idea what it is: 12 bakers in Britain bake three challenges every week—two they can practice, one they can’t—they don’t even know what it is. The bakes cover pies (their pies, not American pies), cookies (biscuits in England), bread, patisserie, all sorts of things. At the end of each week, one person is “Star Baker” and one person is sent home.)


Anyway, I was watching the 2018 Bake Off on Netflix over the weekend, and I was super happy to see Briony, one of the contestants, on the show. Why? Well, first, she’s just great, but second, because she has a disability and she didn’t make hay about it!

She has what she calls a “little hand”—it’s a birth defect where she only has six fingers:

Explaining why she and Channel 4 chose not to mention what she has dubbed her “little hand”, the 33-year-old said: "I specified early on that I didn’t want them to make a big deal out of it because I just wanted to see how people would view it".

Williams went on to say that her disability is “a part of me, not all of me” before adding: “It’s not that I’m embarrassed about it or ashamed of it in any way. I want to be there on my own merit and I don’t want people to think that I’m getting special treatment.

Think about this. BAKING! With six fingers!

But what I love is that it’s never mentioned on the show. Never. She just bakes. She doesn’t use special equipment, there aren’t any “special moments” where she has a tender music fueled close-up where she talks about “overcoming”. She just does her stuff! And it’s great stuff!

When I was on Jeopardy! I didn’t really want to talk about my transplant. But….I did. Because that was the most “interesting” thing about me, apparently (eye roll). And they did make accommodation for me—but I didn’t ask for it—they did it in the interest of fairness, because they wanted to be scrupulously fair. So there weren’t any video categories for my game, or any music clues (even thought I might have done OK with that!).

The reason I like this so much is because I HATE a lot of reality TV—especially the talent/singing shows, where the singer comes up and does her bit and then spiels all about her issues.

Look. THIS DRIVES ME NUTS. I have always wanted to be judged solely on my abilities. I would never enter a contest and then pay the pity card. EVER. I didn’t do it for Jeopardy!, I don’t do it when I audition for shows, I don’t do it, period. Because I don’t want to get pity. I want to get respect for what I can do. So when I see people talking about how “Oh, this person with X was crowned Homecoming Queen!” or “this person with Y is on X Factor!” I want to scream. Because it makes it sound like that person only did these things because of pity. Not because of their excellence, their human qualities, their goodness, etc., but they become like side shows. “Oh, look, this person can be like anyone else!” these shows croon. Whereas Briony (and I hope, me) just go out and do it. We don’t have to draw attention to it. It just is. Not everything has to be a Special Inspirational Story of the Day!

Briony is my sort of person. She has an issue, yeah. But I mean, it’s not her whole identity. I’ll tell you I’m hearing impaired. Blog readers know it. But if you met me in actual life, you might not know. The people on Jeopardy! didn’t know until I told them. That’s how I like it. If I need accommodation, I’ll tell you. But I want to be judged on my merits, not on the pity you feel for me. I do not want pity votes.

Briony got on the show because she’s a kick butt baker. And that’s what matters!

Vulnerability and Community

essaysEmily DeArdoComment
Jules Adolphe Breton,  The Song of the Lark

Jules Adolphe Breton, The Song of the Lark

I am really, really bad at being vulnerable.

Meaning: I don’t like to ask people for help. I’m terrible at it, really.

I have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of women are the same way.

But lately I’ve been thinking about this: we need each other. We need community. As so many things do it reminds me of In This House of Brede, where Lady Abbess tells Philippa, “You need the community,” when Philippa is trying to pray for something on her own.

We need community.

So why don’t we ask for it?

Are we embarrassed? Our house is a mess. I don’t want anyone to think that I can’t do it myself. Etc.
Are we afraid that people won’t help us?
Are we afraid that people will judge us? Oh, I was at so and so’s house yesterday and OH MY GOSH…..

I don’t know about you, but I’m honored to help people. I like helping people.

I don’t care what your house looks like. I’m coming to see you, not photograph your house for Architectural Digest.

What do you need? Do you need someone to grocery shop for you because the kids are sick and you can’t get out? Do you need someone to watch the baby while you shower? Are you just overwhelmed and you need someone to vacuum while you start the dishwasher so you can feel like you’re making some progress in your life? Do you need someone to listen, and pray for you?

Community should do all those things.

In 2001, I was in the ICU for two weeks, and in the hospital for a little over a month, total. I came home in time for Thanksgiving. My brother was with the band, performing in the Macy’s parade—a bigger event than usual that year, since it was right after 9/11, and each band member marched in honor of someone who died that day. Since Bryan was gone, and Thanksgiving was never a big deal in my family, we were just going to watch the band and have something heated up from the freezer.

But while the parade was on, a woman came to the door from our church. She brought us a Thanksgiving dinner. She knew that, since I’d just been released from the hospital a few days ago, Mom probably hadn’t bought the ingredients, we probably weren’t planning on cooking. So our church friends gathered around and brought us the meal.

That’s community.

It doesn’t matter if someone is having their first, fifth, ninth, fourteenth baby. We should bring them meals. We should rejoice in this new life.

We should want to cultivate relationships that allow for vulnerability, for people to feel safe asking for help.

Do you feel safe, asking your friends to help you? I hope so.

I wasn’t planning on writing this, but it seems important to me, now more than ever, maybe, to want to encourage this. Step in, step up, and be community for each other. Help each other out, whether it’s just listening over a pizza or a cup of coffee, or sending a card, or helping someone with their dishes and vacuuming when they’ve had a rough week, or holding the baby so mom can get clean for the first time in a week.

As Christians, we’re supposed to love one another. Part of love is service. Let’s not be afraid to be vulnerable, and to be community for each other.

Seven Quick Takes!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, Take Up and Read, writing, LentEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Linking up with Kelly!

—1—

Lent is coming soon! (It’s in a little over a month, if you can believe it.) Take Up & Read has a beautiful new book for Lent, focusing on the Gospel of Matthew, called Hosanna.

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We have new writers, some new design and prayer pages, and all sorts of other goodies that you can read about here.

Making it EVEN BETTER is that right now the book is ON SALE! That’s right—price drop! We don’t know how long this will last, so go grab your copy!

I love the gospel of Matthew, so I was thrilled to contribute an essay to this book. I’m sure you’ll love it!

—2—

Did January feel like it lasted FOREVER to anyone else? Whew. I’m glad that month is over. February always feels like it moves pretty quickly, but it’s also the last full month before my move, so it feels like time moves even faster.

—3—

I’m still Kon Mari-ing the house. I’ve done clothes, books, papers, and I’m in “komono” (AKA EVERYTHING ELSE), but even that is moving well so I should have that done in the next week or so. Yay!!!!

—4—

A brief bit of policy wonkery (if you’re new here, I worked for the state government for ten years, so in a past life I lived, ate, and breathed policy wonkery). This really isn’t about policy, per se, as it is about common sense:

If you are contacting a representative about a policy proposal that you support or do not support, please remember to be respectful, to be brief, and to contact your representative. Please don’t call a representative that doesn’t represent you (as in, you live in Ohio, but you’re calling a senator from Colorado or Hawaii). This irritates the staffers and does not make them happy. They want to know what their constituents think. Not what everyone in the country thinks.

And if you call your elected representative for any reason, please be nice to the person on the phone. It is not that person’s fault that you are having issues with whatever you’re having issues with. If you are mean, that does not make them want to help you! Do not make the person answering the phone cry with streams of curse words! STOP IT!

—5—

Do you re-read books? Please tell me you do. To me, half the fun is in re-reading. I read so quickly that if I didn’t re-read, I’d be really bored. Re-reading is good!

—6—

My friend Richelle asked me if I’d read all of Dickens’ novels. I haven’t'; I’ve read 10 of his 15 novels (A Christmas Carol is considered a novella, and I have read that as well). The last five I have to read are Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Our Mutual Friend, and his unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

If you’re looking to start reading Dickens (he’s not my favorite, but he is an important writer), I’d suggest starting with A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist (because just about everyone knows the basic story), and A Tale of Two Cities, which is one of my favorites. These are all pretty short, too, which is a plus, given that some of his novels are the size of bricks.

—7—

I’m also watching Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix. The series is good, but he book is even better (same title), because it EXPLAINS THINGS, like why you should boil potatoes in salt water before you roast them! I had always wondered about this and now I know. (It’s because you get the salt in to the potatoes—if you just roast them, then you toss salt on top of them and that doesn’t really penetrate said potato).

Yarn Along #86

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo6 Comments

Linking up with Ginny!

I finished my shawl!

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I’m definitely getting faster at this pattern the more I do it; this time it took me a little over a month. Not bad. (And of course the crazy cold days when I couldn’t do anything but stay inside also helped.)

I’ve started my Find Your Fade shawl. Right now, this is a pattern where I have to pay attention to what I’m doing, because I’ve had to start it over twice—once because I had too many stitches, and once because I forgot what row I was on and knit the wrong thing….sigh…..so this represents my third attempt. Fortunately I love the yarn! (I’m doing this is Knitpicks Hawthorne yarn, on Knitpicks needles). If you click the Hawthorne yarn link you can see all the colors I’m using, because I used that kit. I’m hoping to finally get out of the first section today and start the lace bit. I’m a little nervous about this because even though I understand the technique involved, I’ve never done lace before…..so fingers crossed! My ravelry notes are here.

As for reading—last night I stayed up late to read The Winter of the Witch *, the last book in the Winternight trilogy, which takes place in Medieval Russia and blends fantasy and history. They’re so good, and if you haven’t read them, I do recommend it. I love Russian history anyway, so that helped me get into these when the first one came out a few years ago.

I’m still chugging my way through Villette although I’m getting a little annoyed with Lucy Snowe….not surprising, I get annoyed with lots of Charlotte’s heroines. I think I’m going to start The Terror next, or The Sea Queen, * but I think with The Sea Queen I’ll have to re-read Half-Drowned King first….just to make sure the story is really fresh in my mind again. Can you tell I’m on a myth/fantasy kick? (These books are Norwegian stories, based on myth and legend. Very cool and very well-written.)



*=Amazon affiliate link



Seven Quick Takes--Groundhog, Give Me Spring

7 Quick Takes, goal setting, Seven Quick Takes, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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inking up with Kelly!

—1—

There is no way I will complain about 100 degrees this summer. Nope. No way, no how.

—2—

(Athough, extreme heat does make it hard for me to breathe…..but so does extreme cold. But it’s EASIER in the heat, to do things like take out trash. :) And get the mail. I can just go out and do it quickly. In the winter, it means boots, hat, gloves, scarf, big coat…..it’s a production, similar to:


—3—

Should we talk about February goals? Sure, let’s do that. I’m still doing the contentment challenge, (the first month went well! I am proud of myself!), I sent out the book proposal (SQUEEEEE), I saved money for my emergency fund, went to confession, and I did pretty well getting into my Bible every day! I only missed FIVE DAYS all month, which is pretty awesome, guys. I’m happy about that.

—4—

For this month:

Monthly goals: Contentment Challenge month two; more to emergency fund, finish Kon Mari-ing the house (I’m almost there! In the komono category right now, which is basically everything in the house that isn’t clothes, books, papers, or sentimental items. It’s a lot, to put it mildly), go to confession, and attend the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference!

—5—

Weekly goals:

Contentment Challenge devotional reading; meal plan; blog; artist date (part of The Artist’s Way—going out once a week to do something fun, that fills the creative well in you—it’s been hard with this weather but I”m trying!), and a holy hour.

—6—

Daily goals:

Examen before bed (basically examination of conscience), exercise (I just signed up for YogaGlo again. I did that last year and it was REALLY helpful for me, so back we go!), keep a food journal, and reconcile my checkbook every morning (I use the Every Dollar program for this).

—7—

And finally, some cute Corgis and Harry Potter (thanks to my friend, Abby, for showing me this!)


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Yarn Along #85

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

Winter is really killing my soul this year—it’s been so cold that the cold is always in the house, you know? You’re sort of always cold, and I don’t want to crank up the heat because then I’ll have an astronomical bill in February (the heat company here is….um….rather iniquitous when it comes to their rates). So at least knitting my shawl helps keep me warm!


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I’m re-reading Villette and trying to see if I like it better after about 15 years have passed since I read it first. Charlotte Bronte was pretty anti-Catholic, and this book highlights that, so there are definitely parts where I just have to roll my eyes. It’s also annoying that there’s a lot of French in it which is translated in the back. (My French is decent, but not perfect.) Maybe that’s just this edition. But anyway, it’s a typical Gothic novel/ghost story/crazy romance in the Bronte sister vein, and it’s good reading for winter.



Seven Quick Takes--Stories from the Loony Bin

health, 7 Quick Takes, transplantEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile. Today’s a good day to do it, because this week, New York State passed the most incredible abortion “rights” law—a baby can be aborted essentially any time up to birth. If the mother wants that to happen.

Any time. We’re not talking about babies that aren’t viable here. We’re talking about babies that could be a week away from delivery.

(And be sure to read that post for the definition of “health of the mother” that the law used. It’s….interesting.)

Anyway. I am mad about this, of course. But at the same time, I feel like I need to write something funny to counteract this insanity that caused the state of New York to light up One World Trade Center pink to “celebrate” this law passing.

Look, my life hasn’t been a picnic. But at the same time, sometimes plain funny things have happened because of it. So, I present, tales from the loony bin.

(c) Erica Kay Photography. This year’s Christmas card photo.  L-R: Me, my mom, Sarah (new SIL) , Bryan (my brother), Dad, Melanie (my sister), Jason (her fiance)

(c) Erica Kay Photography. This year’s Christmas card photo. L-R: Me, my mom, Sarah (new SIL) , Bryan (my brother), Dad, Melanie (my sister), Jason (her fiance)

(Just a note before we start: some of the medical technology has changed. So you know, don’t go that’s not how these things work!)


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Back in the day, I did a lot of home IVs. Basically, it’s IV meds you give at home, so I didn’t have to be stuck in the hospital for 2-3 weeks and could go to school and have a life. But that also meant that sometimes, there was a learning curve.

IVs have to be kept sterile—you can’t get them wet, you have to protect them. Now, when I first did home IVs, I would climb trees with an IV, but you know, I was young! :)
Anyway one time, the cap—the thing that protects the end of the IV line—got stuck. We couldn’t get it unattached, and this was bad, because then we couldn’t give the meds I needed.

So dad decided the best way to fix this was….with a pair of pliers. From his tool box. Grimy, gritty, dirty pliers. On a sterile IV line.

He came into my room with the pliers and I backed myself into a corner like a freaked out animal. “GET AWAY FROM ME!”
”What? We have to get the cap off!”
”At least clean them first! Use the alcohol wipes!”
(Fortunately, we could replace the tubing bit. We didn’t have to resort to the pliers.)


—2—

The night before my algebra II final my junior year, I woke up in the middle of the night. No, not because of Law of Cosine nightmares. I felt something wet.
I rolled over and saw that the sleeve of the t-shirt I slept in was bloody. Like, soaking with blood.

At the time, I had a PICC line in (peripherally inserted central catheter—basically a line that wasn’t under my skin, like my port is now, but went into a deep vein, so if we had problems with this, they became large problems.)

I ran into mom and dad’s room. “I’m bleeding.” Mom grabbed a towel and we went back to my room, applying pressure. Dad stumbled in with the cordless phone (this was 1999).

We called the direct line to Children’s and were put on hold while we waited for someone to answer our question. Were we going to have to go to the hospital? Was this really bad?

It’s around 2 AM, the lights are on in the hallway, and my brother and sister are standing in the doorway. Mom and Dad are arguing—what should we do? Should we do this? Should we do that?

At some point, Mom calls my dad something not nice.

And then we hear, “hello?”

We hadn’t muted the phone. The person on the other end had heard the entire argument.


—3—

Sometimes, though, it was a little funnier. Like the time Mel and I decided to use unused saline (salt water) syringes as squirt guns and pelt my brother with them. “Stop it! You’re going to kill me! What is that stuff?!”

“It’s water.”

“Oh.”


—4—

You know that you’ve passed the point of a normal family when going to the ER in the middle of the Super Bowl—which your favorite team is in—isn’t really cause for angst. The Steelers were playing the Packers in Super Bowl 45, and I started to get the lovely feeling of heart arrythmia.

“We have to go to the hospital,” I told my mom during the first quarter.

At halftime, we went. We went to the special area of the ER, doctors buzzing around me, the normal stuff happening. Dad is on his phone checking the score.

“We’re going to lose,” he mutters from the corner.

We did lose. But we got to watch the Puppy Bowl in the ICU!

—5—

Right before my transplant, my doctors were pulling every medical rabbit out of the hat to keep me alive. We were trying every drug we could think of, anything to keep me stable. Forget about improvement, we just didn’t want to get worse.
One of those drugs (another IV med) had to be constituted by us, meaning that it came as a powder, and we had to add the saline. This was rather difficult for some reason, because the force needed to get the saline out of the bottle, into the syringe, and then the saline IN to the med, was quite a bit. WE had jerry rigged some contraption onto the kitchen cabinets to try to give my dad and brother more leverage, because they were the only ones that could do this.

So I came home from work (granted, work was mostly just sitting at my desk—I really couldn’t do a whole lot at this point) and find my brother mixing the 3:00 med dose. I put down my bag

CRASSSSSHHHHH!!!!! SHATTER!!!!!!!!!

I look up. Bryan is holding the syringe, dumbfounded. The glass bottle had exploded all over the floor from the force of the saline trying to go into it.

All I could do was laugh.


—6—

This one has entered family lore:

I had pancreatitis—well, I had pancreatitis a lot. It wasn’t one of those things where I had to get to the ER toute de suite, but I was in a lot of pain.
Dad and I were in the car and stopped at the stoplight at the end of our road. One car was in front of us. We wanted to turn right, but this guy either wanted to go straight or was waiting for an invitation to turn (you know those people).

Dad revs the engine, and jumps the curb. Seriously. Drove the car right over the curb, scraping the bottom of the Accord, a tremendous nails on the blackboard sound.

Now whenever we’re behind someone in that situation, I always tell dad that he can feel free to jump the curb.


—7—

OK this last story is me.

The Resort (my normal hospital) is a teaching hospital. So sometimes when you get admitted from the ER, you have to go through the special hell of having some resident take your history. I don’t know what this resident had done to get me, but whatever. Poor guy.

Anyway, I was tired, I was drugged up, and I really didn’t want to be doing this. Plus, when I’m sick, my hearing goes out the window. I can’t concentrate. So I was just nodded and “yup”ing and all sorts of things to get this guy out of here.

Dad, of course, couldn’t be present for this because you know, I might talk about sex. So he was in the hall with his free coffee.

The medical student asked me a question. I said, yup. He said, how often. I said, oh, twice a day. I mean, I thought he was asking about meds.

He looks at me, shocked. Deer in the headlights.

“I’m sorry, what did you ask me?”

He turns bright red and mutters, “I was asking if you were sexually active.”

OH.

“Well, then, um, nope. Sorry. Never. Wow. Yeah.”


I figure that’s a good way to end, don’t you? :)




Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, knitting, life issues, memoir, Seven Quick Takes, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

—ONE—

I haven’t done this in awhile, so, hey, time to do one! Especially since we’re supposed to get a big old snow storm with insanely cold temperatures this weekend, so if you never hear from me again, at least you have this. (I’m kidding. I’ll be fine.)

This cartoon made the rounds a few years ago, but once again it looks like I’ll be living in Hoth:

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—TWO—

There’s been a lot going on over here. I’m moving, so that’s the first thing—in March! So I have two months to get my place packed up. Which means that yes, I’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and I love it. (And no, she’s never said that you only need 30 books, where did people get this?! I have WAY more than 30> I have more than 30 cookbooks, probably—yes, I might have a problem.)

But I’ve really enjoyed the process. If you haven’t heard of her, the idea is that you get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy”, or that you need (like, a screwdriver, for instance. Or copies of recent tax returns.). So you let go of things that you’re just holding on to out of guilt or uncertainty or “just because”, and it’s done in categories: clothes, books, papers, “komono “ (miscellaneous—she divides it down further), and sentimental items. I’m on “komono”, and it’s mostly household stuff and knitting stuff that’s left.


—THREE—

Speaking of knitting, here’s this week’s yarn along! I’m making a drachenfels shawl, again. :) Deets are at Ravelry, here.


—FOUR—

In other news, I’m very close to submitting my book proposal! Oh my gosh. This has been a few months in the making but I think I’m in the home stretch! Yayyy!

And you can help me!

Please subscribe to the blog! This is something that really helps me with publishers. It shows I have people who care about what I write! So do that, and then follow my author page on Facebook? Every follower/subscriber is important! If you already subscribe, thank you! Mwah!


—FIVE—

The proposal is a memoir about my life with CF and transplant and how it ties into the idea that life is always worth living, no matter what’s “wrong” with you. Today is the March for Life, so yes, I feel it’s a timely topic. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t exist. But I DO exist and so there. :-p

—SIX—

I made a holy hour yesterday, since I might not be able to get to Mass this weekend depending on weather. If you don’t make a holy hour (Or holy half hour, or Holy Fifteen Minutes!), can I recommend that you start? It’s restorative, transformative, energizing….it’s time with the Lord who loves you so much! Get thee to an adoration chapel! Or get to Mass early, if you can. God wants to visit with you!


—SEVEN—

And, also, if you missed it, Take Up & Read has a new study! We’re starting on Monday but feel free to hop in whenever! It’s called Call Me Blessed (here’s my blog post about it!)—and you can get it at other bookstores besides Amazon! Yay!!!!! It’s all about our vocation as women, our dignity as women, using women in the Bible and the writings of Pope John Paul II. I do hope you’ll join us!

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Yarn Along #84: The Lambs and Wool Shawls

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I’m about to be living in Hoth again:

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Seriously, it’s going to be so cold—I’m hearing negative numbers for actual temps on Sunday and Monday. Time to batten down the hatches!

At least when knitting a shawl in winter, the shawl keeps you warm! I’m into the striping section which is easy and pretty relaxing so I can watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo or Home Town while I’m knitting and I can stay sort of warm.

The Lambs * was a wonderful book about a lawyer who decided to close her firm and move to a farm in Virginia where she raised karakul sheep. The story is wonderfully written, and the book itself is lovely, with color photographs and gorgeous design. If you like to knit, like sheep, animals, or farming, or just a well-written, meditative memoir, this is the book for you.

*Amazon Affiliate link

Bible Study for the New Year!

Catholicism, current projects, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment

I’m so glad to present to you Call Me Blessed, Take Up & Read’s first book with Word Among Us Press!

Since this book is published by WAU, you can get it LOTS of places, not just Amazon! For example, Barnes and Noble has it! So you can use their coupons and your membership card to get a reduced price! Yay! Or you can get it 20% off the WAU site!

This is a really lovely journal, tying together the stories of women in the Bible with St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). So it’s a twofer; a beautiful work from John Paul II, and the Bible all in one!

There are also touches of color in this study, which we’ve never had before!

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I do hope you’ll join us. The kickoff is on Monday, but if you are a few days behind, that’s fine. We don’t believe in “Behind”. :) I don’t have an essay in this one but I did edit it and got to read all these beautiful essays ahead of time!

If you have any questions, just let me know! I do hope you’ll join us in this lovely starting and in kicking off 2019 with the Word, thinking about our role as women, and Christian/Catholic women, in society. How are we to live out our vocations? Let’s pray and ponder together!

Yarn Along #83--shawl progress and Mary Magdalene

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment
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Progress is being made! Yay!

If you’re new, it’s the Drachenfels shawl in Quince and Co’s chickadee yarn—here you see peacoat (a dark navy blue, not black), and camel. The third color that will be incorporated is gingerbread.

I’m reading (well, one of the things I’m reading) Saint Mary Magdalene Prophetess of Eucharistic Love*. It’s really good, in that it talks a bit about the history of Mary Magdalene, her presence in the gospels, and how that relates to Eucharistic Adoration today. I’m underlining an awful lot! I’m pretty passionate about the Eucharist, so this book is definitely inspiring me to get to Mass and adoration as often as I can!

Today I’m getting another package from KnitPicks, which has the needles I need to start either Felie or Find Your Fade….which one shall I start first?!?! The Drachenfels shawl is in a good place to stop; I have to do one more repeat of the main section and then I’m done with the first page of instructions. Which one do you think I should cast on first?

*Amazon affiliate link

2019 Goal Setting!

goal setting, current projects, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I really love Lara Casey’s annual goal setting series (here’s part one!), and I adore using her Powersheets. The Powersheets have really been instrumental in setting GOOD goals, and in accomplishing big dreams for my life, so I heartily recommend them! (I don’t get paid to say that—I really do just love them!)

So I always look forward to the annual series, which I read along with doing the Powersheets prep work, and this year, I’ve got four main areas I’m working on:

Faith

Finances

Fitness

Writing

(OK, I couldn’t think of an “F” word for writing!)

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First up: FAITH

To be consistent in prayer and deepen my spiritual life to create a deeper relationship with God.

If God is the center of my life—which He is—then I need to make my days revolve around that. To that end, one part of this goal is to consistent in prayer. As a Lay Dominican, I say at least Lauds and Vespers (morning and evening prayer) every day. I need to be consistent in these, because often I’m not, especially vespers, because that’s around dinner and chaos and all that.

Another part of this is getting deeper into the Bible, which is part of the work we do at Take Up & Read, anyway—well, part of the work, it’s all of the work. :) It’s our reason for existing! So I’m taking time to get into the word every day before I eat lunch. Recently I discovered for the first time Isaiah 54, and man, did it ever speak to me! More on the later. :)

Third, getting to daily Mass more often. To that end I’m working on waking up earlier so I can get to the 11:45 Mass on time. It’s downtown so it’s not just across the street, but I can do it! :)

Lastly, incorporate more holy hours. I LOVE holy hours. So I want to do one at least once a week, which will be easy to do once I move because there’s a church less than half a mile away with perpetual adoration. Winning at life!



Second: Finances

I made good progress on this last year, but I still need to save a complete emergency fund. So that’s the goal right now, as well as doing the Contentment Challenge and realizing that buying stuff isn’t going to make me happy, because, yes, sometimes I’ve done retail therapy. But I’ve also been better about that. So progress being made here, but it’s still an ongoing goal!

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Third: Fitness

Ohh boy. We know I don’t like to work out, right? Well my goal is to find something I liek to do and do it, even if it’s for five minutes, every day. When I was sick in November and December and my joints and tendons took a huge hit because of the meds I was on, I realized that it was better than it could have been—because I’d been keeping my joints and tendons nice and flexible and warm. But I still had problems with them, and my right knee still isn’t 100% back. So I’m working, right now, on that aspect of fitness—getting back to baseline with my knees. I know I’m closer to 40 than 30, so this is important going forward! Gotta stay sharp.

Also part of this is to continue to meal plan, to eat healthy(ier) snacks, and also work on saving treats for feast days. I want to eat more “liturgically”, if that makes sense—fast when the Church fasts, and feast when it feasts! No, that doesn’t mean hard core fasting, but it does mean saving the special meals like champagne risotto (New Year’s Eve meal this year—YUM) and creamy chicken thighs and things like that for patron saint days or when guests come over. I’m not going to eat lentils and honey a la John the Baptist, but at the same time, I’m not going to go nuts every day, either. Simplicity. To that end, I’m also reading From a Monastery Kitchen * and Sacred Feasts. *

And finally….

Writing

I am currently working on a proposal. It’s been a few months in the working but I was getting so frustrated with it—I was thinking that it had to be perfect, and if it wasn’t perfect I was going to blow it and all these other not happy thoughts—so I took some time away from it. Part of that was being sick in November/December and part of it was a deliberate decision. I backed off and actually prayed about it.

Last week, I dove into it again, and I was shocked to see how the words were coming—I was creating pages that I did not hate! Huge step forward. So I’m hoping to have the proposal done this month and sent to the acquisitions editor (pray for me and my little proposal, please?).

Those are the four areas I’m focusing on this year. Also, I’m moving in the spring, so there will be serious decluttering/cleaning/all sorts of goodness happening in that department as well!

What about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions in the new year? What are they?









*=affiliate links

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Yarn Along #82: The Swatch Post!

knittingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Should this be Yarn Along Part A? Not sure. Because there will be a proper yarn along, as well, with shawl progress and book goodness, because who doesn’t need that in January (or anytime, really)? But this is the swatch and blocking post because I learned a lot from doing this and I wanted to share with you!

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First, though, we’re going to talk about this picture. Is this not awesome? It’s called “A Visit from the Angels”, but notice that Mary is knitting! I love it! I also love how Jesus is like, “Oh, angels. That’s cool.”


So, on to swatching!

I have never swatched before. But I thought, with the big Find Your Fade shawl coming up, that maybe I should. So I swatched, using the same type of yarn called for in the pattern (Knitpicks Hawthorne). You check for gauge in this case post-blocking, so I blocked it and measured it.

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Now, it’s not quite at gauge. I don’t really care about that, because it’s a shawl so it’s not like it has to fit a certain way. I’m actually under the gauge—the swatch should measure 4x4, but it doesn’t. It’s a bit short.

However, I knitted a few more swatches, because, why not? I used the same yarn, but in a different colorway, and what I noticed was what a difference blocking makes.

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On the left: a blocked swatch. On the right: Non-blocked. I mean look at that! Amazing!

I also knitted up swatches in different needle sizes: 4 (the size suggested), 6, and 8. It’s sort of hard to tell here, but you might be able to see that on the 8, it’s almost twice the size of the 4, which makes sense, but it’s also sort of sloppy. I had a hard time maintaining tension with this yarn on size 8 needles. After blocking it did look less sloppy, but it’s still pretty unpretty, so I’m using it underneath a vase on my kitchen table. :)




This is all post blocking: The 8 is in the back, 6 in the middle, 4 in front.

This is all post blocking: The 8 is in the back, 6 in the middle, 4 in front.

I didn’t hit gauge with the 6 needles, either—this time it was too big. I’m still relatively new to knitting, so I’m not entirely sure what this means….maybe I should’ve tried the five size needles? :)

Anyway, lessons to take away here:

  • Blocking is magic!

  • Swatches did help me learn how yarn feels on the needles, and I got used to working with this particular yarn.

  • It was also useful to see how it knits up on different size needles. Now I know, for example, that I’d never use this yarn on anything bigger than a 6. Maybe a seven. But on the 8s, it just did not work. A size six needle is OK, though.

  • I’m pondering doing a swatch blanket or something like that—it’s actually really relaxing to sit and swatch in garter stitch! And I think it could be a good way to stash bust as well.

Any thoughts on swatches, gauge, or other knitty things? Let me know in the comments!

Yarn Along #81 (Not the swatch post!)

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo3 Comments

This is NOT the swatch post that I promised here. That’s coming. So you’ll have to come back if you want that!

This is the “Yarn I got for Christmas and projects I’m planning with it” post. Also, “Books I got for Christmas”.

But let’s talk yarn first.

First of all, I got delicious Chickadee Yarn from Quince and Co., which you know I love for yet ANOTHER Drachenfels shawl! But this one is going to be autumnal in flavor. These shawls are really done based on colors I see and want to do—the Sage shawl was in part Sage influenced, but also influenced by early spring in Ohio.

Anyway, the colors for this one:

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

Camel

Camel

Peacoat

Peacoat

This is autumnal, but also inspired by Eowyn’s wardrobe in the Lord of the Rings movies. One of her outfits is that gingerbread color, she wears a dark blue robe in Return of the King, and her hair is the sort of camel color, but it also echoes some of the embroidery on her Rohan gowns. So again, this is a doubly-inspired shawl!

The next two projects were financed by my dear friend Sarah, who gave me a gift certificate to Knitpicks, which meant I could take advantage of their yarn sale and buy enough yarn to do a Find Your Fade shawl! I know I’m late to this party, everyone else did this years ago, but now I know the skills needed to do it (thank you Aunt Sue for your tutelage yet again!).

So here are all the colors for THAT. The yarn is Knit Pick’s Hawthorne line, in various types—kettle dyed, multi, and their speckled.

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Whew! So the fade goes from top to bottom, and the colors are: (KD=kettle dyed, S=speckled, everything else is the multi)

Sellwood

Goose Hollow

Delphinium (KD)

Alameda

Abernathy

Turkish Delight (KD)

Berry Smoothie (S)

I sort of adore these colors! Which is good because this shawl is SO big that I’ll be using them for a long time!

The last project is the felie shawl, where I’m using Frabjous Fibers yarn—their speckle in Victorian China—and the Hawthorne Turkish Delight you see above.

So, WHEW! Is that enough yarn for you?

As for books:

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I adored Marilla of Green Gables. I also got The Gown, News of the World, The Terror, and Book Girl either as Christmas gifts or bought with Christmas gift cards/money. So I’ve been reading a lot, and, as I always do at the beginning of January, I’m re-reading One Thousand Gifts. (those are Amazon affiliate links) I will report on the others as I read them, or you can follow me on Goodreads!

What are you reading/knitting?


On the Ninth Day of Christmas....

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

It’s STILL CHRISTMAS! Do not take down the tree! RESIST! (Unless you have a real one, which has become a fire hazard. Then, of course, get rid of it. But there are advantages to having a fake one, like my $20 Target tree….)

The ninth day of Christmas was always my favorite as a kid, because in the song it’s “Nine ladies dancing” and that just gave me a nice image. Also, my mom’s Christmas china has the twelve days of Christmas illustrated on the dessert plates, and “Nine Ladies Dancing” is the prettiest, so I always wanted that one. My mom, being a piper (she played bagpipes in high school!), is partial to the 11 pipers piping, obviously.

(I need to take pictures of the plates so you can see them! They really are gorgeous. I have 12 days of Christmas ornaments, but not the whole set yet—Hallmark is releasing them one a year, and they’re only up to ‘8 maids a-milking’.)

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Anyway, how is your Christmas season going? Did you do anything fun? Are you enjoying wallowing in the Christmas books you got, like me? :) (Seriously, SO MANY this year, it’s an overflow of riches.)

Coming up here on the blog is a yarn along post about blocking (I know that thrills the non yarn people among you, but guys, it makes a HUGE difference, so it’s for the fabric-oriented), goals for 2019, and some writing updates…..but I just wanted to pop in and say hi with this entry.

And share this little guy’s picture, because he’s adorable. Did you have breakfast with Cookie Monster last week?

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Advent pondering: At the service of His plan

Catholicism, inspirationEmily DeArdoComment

I was reading my Advent devotional this morning and came across an essay that I dearly love to re-read every year. It’s so rich in pondering that I thought I’d share some of it with you, in the hope that we can bring this mindset into our Christmas and new year.

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The Service of His Plan

Those who place their lives at the service of [God’s] plan never have any reason to be afraid…Every day [Mary] placed her life at the service of his plan.

When we are really placing our life at the service of his plan at the general work, then, yes, by our manner of behavior there, by the sweetness that we bring, the patience, the humility, we could rightly say, “This is the Word of the Lord.” These virtues are his ‘words”, and he is being made manifest by them….

Things were always better where [Mary] was. Things we always sweeter and calmer at the well when she was standing in line…She was the one who said, “Yes, I’ll wait. I will not add another irritable word. I will bring the loving, calming word. I will be the one who sees something extra to do, not wondering why someone takes so long at her turn, but seeing if I can help her.” She was no less placing her life at the service of the Divine plan when she waited her turn at the well, than at any other time. …

We should make the word a little less unutterable, a little more recognizable by the way we live and serve and love. …

God has a great plan also in what we call the unexpected. It isn’t unexpected to God. He planned it from eternity…There is nothing unexpected in all of creation…nothing should ever take us by surprise, except the wonder of God’s plan…

God..is saying exactly this to us…”I don’t reveal all the details of those plans because I cannot deprive you of faith. I cannot deprive you of hope. I cannot deprive you of the glory of trusting in me. I cannot deprive you of the wonder of seeing my plan as it unfolds.”…

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We want to be come very intimate with him as the great mystics were in very simple, humble ways, saying, “Dear God, I don’t get this at all, but I’m so glad that you do. And I know that you have a plan and I only want to be at the service of your plan.”…

In our personal lives there is a wonder unfolding. It is wonderful to keep going forward. Even our Lady did not know the last page…let us determine in all the events of each day to place our lives at the service of his plan. This is the happiest way that a person can live.

—Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Come Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting

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Burdens

essays, family, life issuesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum wrote a great piece about how everyone is a burden to someone at some point in her life. It’s not just people who are disabled, or poor, or old, or whatever. ALL of us were, or will be, a “burden” to someone.

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One of the things you hear when people talk about assisted suicide is that they don’t “want to be a burden” to their loved ones. But think about it. Babies are inherently a burden to their parents. They can’t do anything for themselves. We all started there, and we’ll probably all go back there as we get older.

This touched me specially because I had a call with a “disability caseworker” last week, and I’m working through the SSDI application process. This entire process is dehumanizing and humiliating. It boils down to what you can do, and strips away anything else. So at the end of this call, which involved both my parents, I burst into tears.


“Why are you crying?!” My parents asked.

“Because these things are so humiliating. I feel like such a burden to everyone, I can’t do anything, you guys are just stuck with me forever! No one wants me!”

“We want you,” my parents said.

And then they reminded me that they really did want me. This wasn’t just parents saying what they’re supposed to say (like when you ask your boyfriend if a dress makes you look fat. There’s a right answer to that question.).

My parents really wanted me. They prayed hard for me. They got married in 1979 and I didn’t appear until 1982. My mom always wanted to be a mother. They prayed hard for me, and, in an example of God taking people seriously, Mom had said in her prayers that she would take a baby who needed extra care, because she knew she could love and take care of that baby.

And believe me, she has. The things my parents have done for me would take a really long time to explain, but here’s just a bit of it:

  • Many, many, MANY ER runs (One during the Super Bowl, when the Steelers were playing. My parents are huge Steeler fans.)

  • Monthly blood draws when I was a toddler.

  • Driving to Cleveland in a snowstorm for an appointment.

  • Many many many overnight hospital stays

  • Learning how to reconstitute medicines and give them via an IV, even 8 or twelve hours—yeah, that means middle of the night stuff. WHEEEE!

  • Beating on my chest twice a day, every day, as part of daily CF therapy (now that’s not really needed, there are inventions that take care of it, but back then, not so much).

  • Many insurance phone calls

  • Learning how to dress a third degree burn, and then doing the dressing at the kitchen table, which was just par for the course at our house.


It’s a lot. And I’d be lying if I said I never felt like a burden to them, because I do. Our society makes it clear of what it thinks about “people like me”. I’ve had people tell me, to my face, that I shouldn’t exist. That’s sort of hard to deal with. And as I get older, I get increasingly sadder about this fact that I’m not married, so my parents have to handle everything for me, because I don’t have a husband to help out. (Not that every husband would help out….)

But really, Kelly’s right—we’re all burdens. We just are, it’s part of being human. We depend on each other. Think about it. Even a “normal” kid needs mom and dad’s helps. Even “normal” adults need help every once in awhile. We can’t do everything ourselves, it’s just not possible.

But we see this as being wrong, and as something that needs eliminated. Sure, we all want to be independent. I am very glad, for example, that I can use the bathroom by myself, because having gone through periods of my life where I’ve had to wait for a bedpan or three nurses to help me, I do not take that ability for granted. But you know, there are times when I haven’t been able to do that, when mom has had to wash my hair, or Dad has had to call AAA because I can’t call them.

It can be a lot. It can be humiliating, and it can be depressing. As a society, we need to really focus on the person, because we are all God’s chosen people, in that, God willed us into existence. This is my existence.

I’m glad that I am independent, in some ways. I’m glad that I don’t need to rely on my parents for everything. But at the same time, I know that even when I have needed that, they’ve answered. And I know some parents don’t—I don’t know them personally, but I’ve seen them, I’ve heard the horror stories. I’m lucky.

People are people to be loved, not to be called burdens or dismissed because of it. Really, we could all be burdens to God. Think about how slow we are. I mean, doesn’t he ever sit up there and just facepalm? Seriously, humanity?! WE COVERED THIS!!!!!

But God made us anyway. People love us anyway. Our worth isn’t about what we can do or what job we have or anything external. Worth is internal.




Re-set for Advent

Catholicism, essays, journalEmily DeArdoComment

Does this week seem weird to anyone else? Like, there’s all this extra time? I’m so used to going right from Thanksgiving into December that this week has been throwing me off. Don’t get me wrong, I like the extra time, but it means that everything is being done early chez moi. For example, I usually send out my Christmas cards after Thanksgiving—I actually mail them on Thanksgiving, usually—so having them arrive at places before December 1 hits is just weird this year.

Decorations at my  parents’ house—this is the front hall.

Decorations at my parents’ house—this is the front hall.

My shopping is done. I’m mailing out the gifts that need mailed and the things that need wrapped need wrapped. I’m not a great wrapper so I tend to delay it for as long as possible. :)

Thanksgiving was quiet, which was nice, because Christmas is nuts in my family. We have our big family reunion two days after Christmas, and then I’ve got friends coming home for the holidays so I want to spend time with them, and it’s just a big joyful crazy time, which I love.

With the “extra'“ time this week, I’ve been doing a bit of a reset. I read about reset days here (yes, it’s a guys’ website, but it’s good info!), and on Monday, I decided to do this. Being knocked out for two weeks because of Crazy Med made me lose a lot of time in November and I’m still not completely caught up on things like housekeeping and my NaNo novel but it’s all good.

So I used the “reset” day to reset before Advent (I like how that rhymes, too). Cleaning the house is part of it, but also getting ready for Advent—decorating the house, putting out the wreath, things like that. Making a big to-do list was really helpful.

An ornament I made in 8th grade art class.

An ornament I made in 8th grade art class.

I love Advent. I love the sense of preparation, and December is really the only time of the year that I like snow. Every other time it’s sort of meh. (That’s putting it mildly)

But I like the New Year aspect of Advent, too, because it is the new year for us, and I like the freshness, the starting over, the hope that comes in Advent.

So if you need a reset day too, you’re not alone. Let’s get ready for a new year, a fresh start, and the coming of the Baby Jesus!





Black Friday/Cyber Monday/ Small Business Saturday....oh whatever, it's a sale!

Catholic 101, writingEmily DeArdoComment

It’s that time again!

I put Catholic 101 on sale twice a year (If you’re a blog subscriber, you have a code for 15% off that you get when you subscribe, and that’s good anytime): on my transplant anniversary, and during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday/ Small Business Saturday, whatever it’s called. :) And that sale starts today!

So, from right now until midnight next Tuesday (December 27), Catholic 101 is $7, which is more than 25% off the retail price of $9.50. You can buy it for yourself, or give it as a gift! It’s available for all formats except Kindle, because Kindle formatting is…special. However, you can download it as a PDF and read it on your computer, if you only have a kindle.

You don’t need a special code or anything—the price is already reduced. Every purchase makes me really happy. So if you’re looking to shop small this year, I’d appreciate any support! :)

The book is 147 pages divided into four sections. It’s great for any Catholics in your life, or anyone who is interested in learning about Catholicism. It’s based on the series I wrote here on the blog, but there is also lots of new content that’s only available in the book.

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(And, additionally—if you’re looking for a good Advent devotional, may I recommend Rooted in Hope?)

On My Soapbox: When people say they want "healthy" kids

Catholicism, CF, essays, health, life issues, transplantEmily DeArdo3 Comments

and some theology

I know that when most people say they want a “healthy baby”, they’re not being rude or mean. They’re probably trying to be nice.

But guys, I wasn’t a “healthy baby.” I looked healthy, initially, but I wasn’t. I had seizures. I had (and still have) thalessemia minor (I think it’s called type b now? Not sure). I got the CF diagnosis when I was 11.

So, should my parents have just pitched me back? “Nah, sorry, we wanted a non-defective model.”

And I know that people do that now. People kill their babies in the name of the kids “avoid suffering” in their lives. Bull crap. “Yes, let’s kill you, so you never get to have a life.”

That ties into part two: saying “God is Good” only when things go the way you want them to go.

Guys. God is good all the time. He is Good. It is in His very nature to be good. But that doesn’t mean that God’s Goodness=what you want.

Because it doesn’t work that way.

God created me with my “defective” genetic code and my blue eyes and my blonde hair and my fair skin and my wonky teeth and an ankle that cracks oddly. I have a really good memory and I love children and I do a pretty good Sebastian the Crab imitation. I have The Phantom of the Opera libretto memorized. (And Les Miz. And Miss Saigon. And Ragtime. And Parade…)

And yeah, I also have CF. I had a transplant. I’ve got scars. And I do talk about it, because it has become clear to me that it has to be talked about, because people see illness as scary and something to be avoided and pain as awful, to the point that Canada is allowing pediatric euthenasia.

God is always good. And God made me the way I am for a purpose. Is it always fun? No. It is not. There are times when I’ve been really peeved about it, to put it mildly.

But at the same time, it has made me who I am, and in general, I like who I am. I wouldn’t want to change that for the world.

God is not being “mean” to me. He created me the way he wants me to be.

And health doesn’t always stay health. Health is a transient thing, guys. Everyone will get sick. Everyone will die. It seems that in our society now we are idolizing life and health to the point that it is fully unhealthy. We’ve forgotten that we will die, that life is fleeting, that our home isn’t here.

Children are a gift from God, no matter how they come.

And God is always good. And He always loves me.

He always loves you, too. No matter what.

As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”

John 9: 1-3, NABRE