Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Seven Quick Takes--"Shut up!" She Said

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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This week on the blog…..retreat!

Part One

Part Two

Part Three


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That also explains the title……guys, really, we need to shut up. We need to have silence with God so we can hear Him! We gotta stop filling our lives with noise!

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From Catholic Mom: Is A Silent Retreat Impossible?

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I wrote a post a long time ago on an old blog—I have no idea where the original post is—but the gist of it was that people are terrified of silence these days. This was before everyone had earbuds in all the time, but it was when it was getting really popular.

It seems like people can’t walk down the street these days without earbuds in. They can’t be in their houses without the TV on or something streaming from somewhere. There is no silence. There must be noise, all the time. And this isn’t good. (First off, hearing loss much?)

Now, I say this as a person who wrote a lot of her college papers with background noise on. I still do like music or a movie in the background if I’m doing something like knitting, or even, occasionally, writing things. (Not the book. That was written in mostly silence!) What I’m talking about is noise all the time. Everywhere. Constantly.

We have to bring back silence. I didn’t really realize this until I started to lose my hearing, but man, silence really is golden.

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And if you think about this from a perspective of God—we’re supposed to love God. Imagine your closest relationship, say, your spouse. If all you did was drown out your spouse, if you talked over him all the time and never let him talk, if you never listened to him—ever—then how would that relationship go?

Probably not well.

It’s the same with God. We have to have dialogue. We have to listen and talk. And a lot of the time, we’re not listening. We’re not even giving him an opening. We’re just…..blasting him out.

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And we can even see this in our worship—is there time for silence at Mass? We don’t have to have a post-communion hymn, y’know. We could just…have….silence. So people can pray! So they can listen to God!

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Yeah, I’m on my soapbox about silence this week. :) But I think it’s an important thing to talk about. Not just in retreats, although I suggest you go on one. Not just in silent adoration, although I recommend that, too! We need silence in our lives in general. Focus on what’s happening. Try not to be distracted by the phone!

So I guess you could call this retreat series part four. :) Next week I’ll write something non-retreat related….I hope to have a big announcement for the book by this time next week! Fingers crossed!!!!!





Going on Retreat Part Three: Sunday Morning

essays, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment
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Part One is here

Part Two is here

My alarm went off at seven the next morning, and I sort of hustled, because breakfast on this day is continental, served in the lounge; it’s mostly cinnamon rolls and bakery things, and if you’re slow, the good stuff is gone. :) (Good stuff meaning danish, in my world). So I hurried, dressed in my Sunday Mass clothes and got a cherry danish (win!).

After that, I went to the chapel to pray lauds before the closing of adoration at 8:15 by Fr. Stephen. (Even if you can’t make a retreat, consider going to adoration? Even if it’s five minutes! Go stop by and say hello to Jesus! Get to Mass five minutes early, if there’s no adoration chapel where you live.)

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After the close of exposition and benediction, we had the last conference of the retreat, on Confirmation. This was followed by a bit of Q&A, and then the last Mass of the retreat.

After Mass was over, we could talk—silence was lifted. So brunch was a noisy, happy affair of everyone chatting over quiche and apple pie bars. I enjoyed talking to the women at my table (especially Olivia) and getting to know them better.

When you spend a weekend in silence praying with people, a closeness forms, but it’s a weird closeness, because you feel close to people you don’t know anything about! So it’s nice to learn a little more about them.

After brunch we cleaned out our rooms and left. “Cleaning out your room” means putting the trash bag outside your door, stripping the bed and stuffing the sheets and towels inside the pillowcases to be picked up, and making sure you didn’t leave anything behind.

I was home a little before noon, and I spent the rest of the day taking a nap, unwinding, and getting mad at the Ravens during the Ravens-Steelers game.

(Me to my mom: I hate the Ravens.
Mom: You just got back from retreat, you can’t hate anybody!)

So, that’s what I did on my retreat.

There are things I could share—how I pack, what I bring, etc.—I could share notes with you….or I could answer your questions! If you have any questions about retreats, let me know in the comment box and I’ll answer them!

Going on Retreat Part Two: Saturday Afternoon

essays, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment
Brilliant Saturday afternoon under the oak trees

Brilliant Saturday afternoon under the oak trees

Part one is here


So after lunch we had free time until 3:00, when the Divine Mercy Chaplet would be said in the chapel. Priests were available for confession, but other than that, there were no talks planned and you could do whatever you wanted.

Since it was a gorgeous fall day, I went outside to spend some time enjoying the weather while I read my books. I read more of I Believe In Love and wrote a few thoughts in my journal. Some people were making the stations of the cross at the outdoor set that’s been erected, which I would have done, but we were saying stations communally at 5, and I was going to do that.

I took a really brief nap—10 minutes!— then went to the chapel, prayed a bit, and read some more. There’s a small side chapel where I like to sit:

The view from the side chapel

The view from the side chapel



Interior of the side chapel

Interior of the side chapel


The reliquary of St. Therese and St. Margaret Mary Alocoque (who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart) is also in here.

St. Margaret Mary’s relic is on the left, and the other two are St. Therese. The documents are certificates that the relics are authentic.

St. Margaret Mary’s relic is on the left, and the other two are St. Therese. The documents are certificates that the relics are authentic.

This is the hardest part of retreat to describe, because it’s so interior, but to me it’s also the best part. Yes, I pray, yes, I read, but I also just talk to God, and listen to His replies. What is He saying to me? What is He asking me?

It’s also a good time to take stock of where I am in my religious life. Is it going well, or not? Am I more fervent than I was a year ago, or not? Does my schedule need adjusted so I have more time for prayer? What is stopping me or hindering my prayer? Distractions? Laziness? (Meaning, I just don’t make time for prayer, when I know I could and should be praying?) Venerable Fulton Sheen said that the spiritual life is meant to grow, not stay stagnant. It’s like our bodies—they have to continually grow. If our bodies stopped growing, we’d be in trouble! So the spiritual life is like that, which is one of the reasons retreat is so important. We have to check in, and it’s a lot easier to do when there aren’t any distractions and it’s quiet!

So I write, and I read, and I ponder, and I listen.

Statue of St. Therese in the main conference room.

Statue of St. Therese in the main conference room.


After the quiet period, we had the second conference, this time on Baptism, its roots in the Bible and Jewish tradition, and some other points.

Some of the quotes from Fr. Stephen:

“Genesis is like algebra—it’s about relationships.”

“We have a duty to participate in God’s life, with even deeper communion and even deeper fellowship.”

“God’s commitment to us began at our own baptism. Our mission is revealed—we are bound to Christ.”

“We read Scripture in its totality!”

And one of my favorite things I took away from the conference—anxiety and fear push us into a moment that doesn’t exist yet, and it might never exist! In those moments, call upon God who loves you and ask Him for help and what I should do.

St. Therese in the chapel—this statue isn’t normally there, so I’m not sure if they moved it here for her feast day celebration or if it’s a new addition. Either way, I loved it!

St. Therese in the chapel—this statue isn’t normally there, so I’m not sure if they moved it here for her feast day celebration or if it’s a new addition. Either way, I loved it!

At 5:00, we said stations of the cross in the chapel, followed by Vespers and then dinner. The third conference, on the Eucharist, was at 6:45, and as always, in between things you had your own time and space to pray or read or rest or whatever you wanted to do.

(After dinner I actually went on a walk with a friend—Olivia—that I “knew” on Twitter—it was so nice to meet her in person!)

The Eucharist talk was extremely enlightening because it connected our celebration of th Eucharist with the Jewish tradition and really drew strong parallels, as well as illustrating how Jesus was in no way speaking metaphorically in the Bread of Life discourse (John 6). Fr. Stephen mentioned Scott Hahn’s The Fourth Cup, which I haven’t read yet (but will!), but I have read (and am currently re-reading) Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, which is a full, book-length treatise on Fr. Stephen’s topic and is a wonderful explanation fo the Eucharist. It’s sort of mind-blowing, actually.

(This is where retreat is a vacation, yes, but it also causes you to learn, if it’s a good retreat. Yay learning! Yay knowing more about our faith!)

(In fact, one of the most mind-blowing things Fr. Stephen shared was this: the Passover lambs, used for sacrifice at Passover in the Temple, were specially raised, because they had to slaughter more than two hundred thousand of them every year. So there were whole flocks just of these pascal lambs.

These lambs were raised in Bethlehem.

The flocks that the shepherds were guarding on Christmas were…..lambs of sacrifice.

The paschal lambs were at the birth of the Paschal Lamb!)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the chapel.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the chapel.

We had one of my favorite things—Eucharistic Exposition—at 8:00. This means that the Eucharist is displayed in the monstrance, and we have all-night vigil, because you can’t leave the Exposed Host alone. So all night, women came and went from the chapel to spend time with Jesus in prayer.

My hour was from 10 to 11. Before then, I had changed into my pajamas and slippers —yes I went to the chapel in my Corgi pants and slippers!—and took my meds so that when I got back I could just go to bed.

Adoration is really a beautiful thing, and holy hours are my favorite way to pray. If you don’t make them, I highly highly highly recommend it, and so do the saints!

After holy hour, I went to bed, because the alarm would go off at 7 again, for the last part of the retreat….

Going on Retreat: Vacation With God

essays, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment
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Vacation with God?

Seriously, Emily?

Yes. Because to me, retreat is definitely part-vacation.

Think about it:

You don’t have to do any laundry or cleaning.

The food is provided for you.

There’s constant tea and coffee available, so you don’t even have to make your daily cuppa.

You can sleep whenever you want, in a private room. No one comes in and bothers you!


I mean, this sounds pretty good, right? At the least it’s a vacation from laundry, phone calls, and cooking!

A retreat is really as detached as you want to make it. You can choose to bring your laptop and check the news every hour. You can scroll on your phone. You can call your kids. But really, the best retreats—and by best, I mean most fruitful, in my opinion—are the ones when you are, as the Carthusians say, “alone with the Alone.”


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Every retreat I’ve ever been on has been silent. I started going on them when I was in my mid-twenties, and they’ve always been in the same place—St. Therese’s Retreat House, here in town, about ten minutes from where I live. Silence has an appeal to me on a few levels—one, ever since my hearing went south, I like having a few days when I don’t have to listen to people, and try to understand what they’re saying, and two, because I also like to talk, it’s good for me to not talk. It’s good to just be quiet.

I realize that not everyone likes silence as much as I do, but I do think it’s important to shut up and listen to God every once in awhile, and that’s really what retreat is—that time to sit down, shut up, and focus on God for a few days.

Spiritually, we need retreat. We need it the same way we need vacation. (When I don’t take a vacation, I can tell. My body can tell. When I don’t go on retreat, it’s the same deal.)

I highly recommend everyone look into taking one, even if it’s a “quiet day” offered by a local parish, where it’s a few hours of silence, or a day of recollection. They’re important for our spiritual lives.

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So I’ve talked a lot about retreat on my blog before, but this time I thought I’d walk you through what happens. This is going to be a multi-parter, so here I’ll take you through Saturday morning.

A look at the “old” residential part of the retreat house.

A look at the “old” residential part of the retreat house.

These retreats run from around 5:00 on Friday to around noon on Sunday. They are usually “preached”, meaning that there’s a priest who will give talks around a certain theme. I’ve heard them preached on the seven deadly sins, Mary, St. Therese, and this one was about the Sacraments of Initiation and their Biblical roots. Every one I’ve gone to has been preached by a priest (which I prefer, because then you have access to the sacraments in an easier way than if, say, a sister/nun or a layperson preaches the retreat, and a priest has to be brought in). I try to go to one a year, but they’re offered twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.

The amount of talks vary—anywhere from three to five—this one had four. There is daily Mass and the opportunity for confession, as well as other devotional practices.

The important thing to remember is that you do not have to do any of these things. I mean, obviously, you went on retreat to pray, and you probably should go to Mass. :) But if you want to sleep in and miss morning prayer, that’s fine. If you don’t want to go to every conference, that’s fine. Etc. No one is taking attendance and no one will make you go or do anything. It’s your retreat.

Some retreat guides tell you not to bring books. I laugh at this. To me, books—spiritual reading only—are fabulous springboards into prayer or examination. I generally bring a few. I don’t read them all, and I’m not speed reading, but I do find them really useful, and I always have. If you don’t, then don’t bring them. Most retreat houses have books/a library/materials around for you to read if you want to, and they always have Bibles. (Bring your Bible, for sure.)

The retreat house/organizers will tell you what you need to bring. Towels, linens for the bed, etc. are provided, but if they don’t tell you, contact them and ask. (My first retreat I didn’t know linens and pillows were provided so I brought them! Ha!) You’ll need comfortable clothes. Generally, in my experience people tend to bring something a little nicer for the Sunday Mass, but it’s not a fashion show. You might want to bring a few snacks of the non-perishable variety. (I always do, because I have to take my evening meds with food. We get good meals at the retreat house, but no snacks.)

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The Lourdes Grotto on the property

The Lourdes Grotto on the property



I try to arrive early, as in before five, and check in. Once you check in your get your room assignment, so you can go unpack and settle in before the retreat begins. There are sign-up forms for volunteering to help with devotions and the Masses throughout the retreat—I always sign up to do one of the readings, because I really love being a lector at Mass and I rarely get the chance to do it!

I generally go to my room, unpack, set up my alarm clock (very important, since I won’t hear the bell that the retreat league uses to wake us up!), then go to the grotto (above), to pray a bit, usually a rosary. If the weather’s bad, I go to the chapel. This serves as a way to bring my mind into retreat and to slooooooooow down. It helps me forget about traffic, anything that’s been bugging me, any extraneous things—it’s just me and the prayers.

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The retreat starts in the main conference room around 6:00, when one of the women from the retreat league welcomes us, talks us through the layout of the retreat and the house, and gives any housekeeping notices. Dinner is after this in the dining room, and we can talk at dinner. The food is always great.

After dinner, silence begins. This year, we didn’t have a conference on Friday night. We went right from dinner to Mass and vespers. Mass was at 7:45. (Dinner doesn’t take an hour to eat—so we were OK with the fast before Mass!) After Mass there was abbreviated Vespers (I said that plus my own Vespers from the Liturgy of the Hours [LOH]), and then after that, there were confessions with two priests. I went to confession, said my penance, and then went to my room to get ready for bed and go to sleep.

On retreat, confessions can be a little longer—people tend to confess more, in my experience, and priests also tend to offer a bit more counsel. So if you’re in line, be prepared to wait a bit, and remember that if you have questions or want counsel, the priest will give it to you too (usually. Some don’t.).

There is no “lights out”. You can stay in the chapel if you want. You can read in the main lounge. As long as you’re quiet, you can pretty much do whatever you want.

After confession I went back to my room with a cup of hot cocoa, took my meds, read a bit, and then went to bed. My alarm was set for 7, and hopefully it wouldn’t be so loud that it would terrify everyone else into awakeness. :)


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Saturday morning

Saturday morning


My alarm did not wake everyone, yay, but it got me up at seven. The bell rang at 7:30 but I like to give myself a little leeway to get ready—I don’t like to be rushed in the morning if at all possible. At 8:15 there was lauds in the chapel, and then we had breakfast. I had gotten to the chapel early so I said the LOH and had some mental prayer before we prayed in common.

Morning prayer

Morning prayer

After breakfast at 8:30, we had the first conference of the retreat, setting out the general overview and talking about the use of light and dark in Scripture, echoes between Genesis and revelation, how water and light are used, and things like that—providing an overview to the Sacraments we were going to study. “Christ provides absolute concrete stability,” Fr. Stephen said. Which is true!

After the conference, we said the rosary in the chapel (joyful mysteries, since it was Saturday—I prayed for all of you!), and then had Mass, followed by lunch.

I was reading The Story of a Soul, which I hadn’t read in a long time, and I was also reading I Believe In Love, which is one of my favorite books ever, and is based on the teachings of St. Therese. So both those books complemented each other and provided a lot of material for prayer and pondering.

Meals in silence aren’t really that hard—you just have to be aware of what people want. Since I use my eyes more than the normal bear anyway (because I can’t hear as well as y’all can, so I have to use my eyes to survey the surroundings and get information), it’s easier for me to see when someone might want the bread basket or the water pitcher. There’s quiet instrumental music playing in the background, so it’s not silent silent.

In the next post I’ll talk about the rest of Saturday!

Seven Quick Takes--St. Francis, Forgiveness, and Fear

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, the bookEmily DeArdo5 Comments
linking up with  Kelly !

linking up with Kelly!

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Why yes, I am alliterating my titles.

To start with St. Francis—it’s his feast day! Dominicans celebrate the feast days of Franciscans (and vice versa!), because we just love each other that much. :) Well, we do, but here’s the story.

St. Francis and St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

St. Francis and St. Dominic, Fra Angelico

So, happy Feast Day, Franciscans! We celebrate with you!

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Might be a good time to remind everyone that St. Francis didn’t really give us the “Prayer of St. Francis” (it was written in the 60s) and that he did more than just like animals. St. Francis was a pretty bad-ass saint. The Word on Fire documentary about him in The Pivotal Players is eye-opening, if you’ve only ever thought of him that way. This piece is a good overview.

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OK, Forgiveness.

This is just a reflection—a thought—on something I’ve been pondering this week.

I’m 37. That means in three years, I’ll be 40 (God willing and the creek don’t rise). That’s a good chunk of time living on planet earth. That’s two score of years!

But one thing I have noticed in those almost 40 years is how vital forgiveness is, how terrible it is for a person who doesn’t forgive past things to be weighed down by that anger and resentment and pain.

Holding on to that anger does nothing to the person who wronged you. It hurts you.

Some things aren’t possible to forgive easily. That’s true. They require work and prayer and maybe sessions with therapists or other professionals.

But after seeing a teenager forgive the woman who murdered his brother—he hugged her, for pete’s sake!—it just brought home to me how vital this call of Christ is.

We’re called to forgive the way we want to be forgiven.

I honestly don’t know how this young man did this. Christ works strongly in his life, is all I can say. If someone killed my brother, I’d be….full of rage. I’d be absolutely incapable of this kind of grace, at least at this point.

This teenager puts me to shame.

And in a way, this ties into St. Francis and his story about perfect joy (I excerpted this from a longer piece that you can read here.)

“One day, on the road home, Francis was walking with Br. Leo. Francis said to Br. Leo; ‘If the Order of Friars became world famous for doing good works, and spreading the Gospel, this would not be perfect joy. Br. Leo asked, ‘Father Francis, what then would be perfect joy?’ Francis responded, ‘If all the most famous and powerful people in the land entered the Order of Friars, and worked with us proclaiming the Gospel, healing the sick, caring for the poor, and converting many souls to Christ, this would not be perfect joy!’ Br. Leo then says, ‘Please Father Francis, tell me what is perfect joy!’ Francis said; ‘Brother Leo, if we come to our friary, after this long journey, tired, wet, cold, and hungry, longing for a meal, and a warm dry place to sleep, and we knock on the door, and hear from within our brothers who ask, ‘Who are You?’ We respond that we are your brothers coming home from a long journey, and we wish for you to let us in. But instead of the welcome we long for, we hear a response from inside, go away; we do not know who you are. We are expecting no one, you must be liars and thieves, intending to harm us! If, Brother Leo, after that, we can still have peace in our heart, that is Perfect Joy!’”

Man. I have such a long way to go to achieve perfect joy.

But back to forgiveness—run of the mill forgiveness—in the words of Into the Woods, “People make mistakes!” And they do. We’re hurt in all sorts of little ways that the other person might not even notice. But we have a choice. We can either hold on to that hurt and let it poison us (because it doesn’t poison the other person), or we can forgive and stop poisoning ourselves.

This isn’t new ground. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about this week.

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And that leads us to fear! (And then we’ll do some fun things, I promise, so this isn’t all heavy.)

Satan loves fear. He loves to play on our sense of inadequacy and comparison and uncertainty. He love, love, loves it.

Christ does not call us to fear. He calls us to trust and joy and hope.

So, if you’re feeling a lot of fear or doubt or inadequacy—tell Satan to get behind you and that Mary is crushing his head. :) And so is St. Michael.

(Do you say the St. Michael prayer daily? I recommend it!)

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On the blog this week:

Yarn Along

St. Therese!

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BOOK STUFF!

The cover is 99% done. I love it and can’t wait to show it to you.

I’ve read the forward for the book and I love it. Can’t wait to tell you who’s writing it.

Basically it’s a lot of I love what’s happening but I can’t tell you yet! :)

(If you want to be the first to know, sign up for the newsletter…..)

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So glad to be going on retreat. If you have prayer requests, hit me up!

Yarn Along #92--knit, purl, and CW yarn

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

(Linking up with Ginny!)

Oh gosh I’m so glad September is OVER!!!!! :)

I’m also happy to show you my knitting!

It’s the same two projects I’ve been working on, but there’s been progress on both. Yay!

I’m almost to the halfway point on Isla. This is such a fun project to work on because the yarn is so squishy and the pattern is so cool. I love seeing it grow under my hands and really, once you’ve done the block pattern a few times, this isn’t hard. It’s really just a 2, 2, 2, 4 pattern—so either knit, purl, knit, purl, or purl, knit, purl, knit.

And I’ve passed the halfway point on the “Felicity” scarf—it’s really not a pattern, it’s my own playing with yarn.

This is the yarn I got at Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. I decided to make a historical pattern with it—meaning, that it’s something a person in the 1770s would’ve made or worn. The yarn is a bit thicker than I think it would’ve been at the time, because I’m using an 8 gauge needle, and according to my (quick) research, they didn’t really use 8 gauge needles at that time. Everything was done on tiny needles. But I don’t see how I could do this on a tinier needle—really, I should do this on a 9 or even a 10!

But it’s creating a very thick, squishy sort of fabric.

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The one thing you see here is that the colors are different. They use colonial dyeing methods (obviously), so the colors don’t exactly match. I knew that going into it—I picked these two out from the basket because they were close. Now, thinking back on this, I could’ve done something where I alternated skeins, so it wasn’t this obvious, but…..I didn’t. :) And honestly, I don’t mind, because I still might stitch the ends together to make a cowl.

If you want to read more about their methods, they have a book! It’s great!


Speaking of books, since St. Therese’s day was yesterday, I’m re-reading Story of a Soul. My friend Elizabeth wrote the introduction to this particular edition!

What are you reading or knitting? Or both! :)

It's the Feast of St. Therese!

books, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Happy Feast Day!

St. Therese is my (accidental) patron saint, and the older I get, the happier I am that I picked her—or she picked me, either way. :)

The St. Therese reliquary at the local retreat house.

The St. Therese reliquary at the local retreat house.



A French girl who died at the age of twenty-four from TB, what can she possibly teach us? SO MUCH. So much that St. John Paul II made her a doctor of the church. That’s right. She’s one of four women to have that title.

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Don’t be deceived by her sometimes flowery (period appropriate) prose, or the saccharine images. St. Therese is a wonderful friend to have.

If you’re new to her, let me recommend a few things:

1) Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul *. (My friend Elizabeth wrote the introduction to this edition!)

2) I Believe In Love, *which is one of my all-time favorite, desert island books.

3) The Film Therese. *

4) If you want to go a bit deeper, then 33 Days to Merciful Love is what you want. This is a daily meditation book, leading up to the Consecration to Merciful Love (which I made on New Year’s Day this year). It’s powerful!

There have been so many books written about her that it would take a long time to read them all (believe me, I’ve tried!) but these four resources are excellent starting points.

So, let’s get on the Little Way….

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*=Amazon affiliate links

Seven Quick Takes--the 60th of September

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, CF, health, Seven Quick Takes, the book, transplant, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Linking up with Kelly!

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In case you missed it, here’s what’s been going down around these parts this week:

Simplicity Series #1—Reset Day!

Stitch Fix Box #8!


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The reason this post is entitled the 60th of September is because this month has seemed insanely long. Isn’t there a song called “Wake Me Up When September Ends?” That’s how I feel right now. It’s just been so long. And sort of crazy.

One of the big crazy-making things is that I’m in the middle of Doctor Roulette, which I really haven’t written about here, so I probably need to catch you up.


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(If you’re not interested in medical stuff, skip this and go to point four, where I talk about BOOK THINGS!)

So, being post-transplant, and being fourteen years out, is….interesting. Obviously, I am INSANELY GRATEFUL to be at that marker. I am. Never think I’m not. But at the same time, it’s a Brave New World of Medical Stuff, because it’s rare. So when things happen, there’s not a lot of research to go on. There’s just…..talking. And guessing. And seeing what works.

Essentially, all summer we have been messing with insulin, because my blood glucose levels have been off. (I”m trying to keep this as medical jargon free, but when I say this, what I mean is my A1c, not my BGLs. If you’re confused, I can explain in another post, so let me know if you want that much detail into my life!)

So my team decided to put me on some long-acting insulin.

But……that didn’t work. First, it didn’t lower my BGLs, which I was testing twice a day, and second, insulin is a hormone. That means it can affect lots of parts of your body.

For me, that meant—headaches. Not sleeping. Weight gain (DAMN IT), and insanely inappropriate mood reactions. If Big Ben threw an interception I wanted to break things. If someone parked next to me at the supermarket, I became incandescently angry.

This is not appropriate.

And the scariest part for me? Forgetting things. Words. Ideas. What I was doing. This is not good. I rely on my brain, and words are my trade. I can’t be forgetting them! I need to be mentally sharp.

(But you’re never mentally sharp, Emily, says the peanut gallery….)

I did some digging and found out that when you have too much insulin—as in, you have WAY too much, and your body doesn’t need it—this is what happens.

And this is the problem. My body is weird. Not just the transplant weird, but weird for a CF person. I’m what’s called “pancreatically sufficient”, which is rare. It means my pancreas works like a normal person’s, not like a CF person’s. I don’t need to take enzymes to help digest my food, because my pancreas does it. I never had CF related diabetes.

And my A1c starting rising once I hit menopause—so there’s probably a connection there as well.

So, long story short, my team is sort of confused, and I’m seeing an endocrinologist the day before Halloween. That’s one reason I haven’t been writing as much this month, because things have just been crazy, but also my body has been through a lot, and I’m trying to be nice to it. Which means, chilling out, after all the non chilling out. :-P

There are some other issues, too, mainly that I don’t have a great track record when seeing endos, because they look at me and go, you’re really messed up, what do you want me to do about it?

But anyway, that’s at the end of October. Yay.


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in the meantime!

BOOK THINGS!

People are starting to ask for interviews, which is….weird. I mean, good, but weird.

The cover is 99% done. I’ve seen it. I can’t show you yet. If you want to be the first to see it, subscribe to the blog!

It’s really pretty, I like it. :)


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Hockey season starts soon and this makes me very happy!


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I am going on retreat next week, so if you have prayer requests, I am honored to take them with me! Drop them in the combox, or use the contact page.


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If you haven’t seen the Word on Fire team’s newest entries in their Pivotal Players series—Fulton Sheen and Flannery O’Connor—I highly recommend them! They’re great! Flannery is a really important influence for me, in how to live as a Catholic and a writer, and I write this quote from her at the beginning of all my journals:


I feel that if I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason ever to feel horrified or even enjoy anything. I am a born Catholic, went to Catholic school in my early years, and have never left or wanted to leave the Church. I have never had the sense that being a Catholic is a limit to the freedom of the writer, but just the reverse. … I feel myself that being a Catholic has saved me a couple of thousand years in learning to write. (The Habit of Being *)


So I love the Flannery film. It was also nice to learn more about soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen—I had read some of his books, and I knew of him, but the film does a great job fleshing out what I knew.

(Also, in a nice twist, a college friend of mine composed the music for both films. Go Sean!)

And I really don’t think we can improve on Fulton and Flannery, do you? :) Have a great weekend!

*==Amazon Affiliate Link



Stitch Fix Box No. 8!

Stitch FixEmily DeArdoComment

Stitch fix is back!!!!!

Sadly, I don’t have pictures of me wearing the clothes for this installment, because Orchard House still doesn’t have a full-length mirror (bad me!), but I will talk you through what was in my box and how things went.

Next installment, I promise, pictures!

If you’re new here, here’s how Stitch Fix works. Here are my past fixes.

As always, if you want to try Stitch Fix, here’s my referral link, which also gives you a $25 credit towards whatever you keep. (And I get $25 too, so we can keep having SF posts to read….everyone wins! )

In this box, I had asked for maxi skirts that wouldn’t drown me, open cardigans, and whatever my stylist thought would work for me. I have a great stylist right now, so I trusted her! (That’s not always been the case….)

On to today’s contenders……

First up:

Kate Spade Sailor’s Knot Earrings, $48

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This is generally my style of jewelry—classic and versatile—but I have a pair just like these, so I didn’t keep them. Also, they were $48, and that’s a little….high, for basic earrings.

Verdict: Returned


Item #2: Honey Punch Judee Ribbed Hooded Cardigans, $68


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So, I loved this guy. First off, it’s navy blue, which is one of my signature colors. Second, it had pockets. Third, it’s very thick and warm, almost like wearing a big blanket, but it’s not entirely shapeless. The hood I could take or leave—I’m not a huge fan of hoods, but when it was down, it didn’t make the cardigan look silly (sometimes that happens). It’s long—it reached about mid-thigh, I think. So I could really wear it as outerwear, as opposed to one of the other pieces in this box. It looks great over jeans and gives a jeans/t-shirt combo some punch and interest.

Verdict: Kept!


Item #3: 41 Hawthorn Benny Surplice Mixed Media Blouse, $56

( I think that was the price—I edited them out of the photos and then I forgot to write them down. I’m a very bad fashion blogger today!)

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Now, at first glance, this isn’t bad. I like the colors. It looks like it has potential. And in reality, it wasn’t bad on me.

There were a few problems, though, that you really can’t see here:

One, there’s a little camisole thing build in to this. That’s nice. But then you get this weird gap area between the white collar and the camisole start point. When you bend over, there’s going to be some cleavage/bra showing. Not badly, but enough.

Second, and you really can’t see this here, but the fabric in the front is two pieces. It’s very billowy. And that’s not bad, but it’s also not really what I want. I don’t like billowy things around my middle.

Also, I have bizarre shoulders, so to wear this, I’d have to wear a strapless bra, unless I wore it with a cardigan over it, which was a thought, but I didn’t really love it that way.

Verdict: Returned


Item #4: Staccato Daruka V-Neck Pull Over, $44

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I loved this guy. I love pullovers and sweaters. The v-neck wasn’t super low, it was just low enough to be flattering. The sweater wasn’t super-clingy, either. It’s very soft, and it’s more of a warm brown taupe then you see here, so it looks great with the white. It can be dressed up or down—worn with jeans or with black pants. I can also accessorize it with a lot of color, like a pretty scarf or earrings. (I have a bright pink scarf that will look fabulous with this.) And I can also wear it with skirts.

Verdict: Kept!


Item #5: Pink Clover Kaia Textured Curved Cardigan, $44

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(Unbeknownst to me, my sister in law has this same cardigan. That’s too funny.)

This is a really lovely cardigan, in a cider/pumpkin-ish color, which I don’t have a lot of in my closet. It looks great over any of my neutral tees (white, gray, navy), and it’s perfect for throwing over a dress to wear to church, or to wear with a skirt and a shirt. I could dress this up or down. It’s soft, but not as heavy as the blue one, and it also has pockets. :) Also I love the curved quality of it, which gives my body a little more shape to the eye. It’s got the dropped sleeve seams, which give it some additional interest as well.

Verdict: Kept!

So as you can see, this was a good fix. I really liked everything in it, but it was a question of what I needed and what the budget could afford right now. (There is a 25% discount if you keep everything in your fix, but in this case I’d have to get four items to make this work, and I really couldn’t justify the Hawthorn top or the earrings on their own.)

If you want to try Stitch Fix yourself, here’s the link again, so you don’t have to scroll back up. :) They also style kids and men! So if you get Stitch Fix for yourself, but want to try it for your kids, or think your husband might need a little kick in the wardrobe department, you can order fixes for them as well from the same link.

My next box is scheduled for right before Thanksgiving, so we’ll see what goodies await then—and I promise pictures! :)







A Simple Life One: Reset Day

essays, Simple Life SeriesEmily DeArdoComment
simplicity tag two.jpg

How can we, twenty-first century folk, who are super connected and crazy busy, create a life that’s simple, but yet is full of what we want—the good things of life?

How do we disconnect from all the crazy voices that surround us, and instead focus on the voice of God?

It’s not easy.

So I’m going to write an (occasional) series on how we can create simplicity in our lives, that gives us space and margin, but also is practical and do-able.

( Before we start:

I’m single. Yes. I know that makes my life easier in many ways. I’m only responsible for myself, all the food in the house is what I want to eat, I don’t have to clean up after anyone or put anyone to bed or take anyone to school.

At the same time, though, I also don’t have any help. No one else can go to the store or cook dinner for me. Everything I do, is done by me.

So I don’t want an argument in the comments section about how I’m single and I don’t know what I’m talking about, or how easy married people have it.

There are pros and cons to everything. The end. )


*

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One of my favorite things to do is make a list. I’m a huge list maker. So I’d suggest beginning that way here as well, by taking a “reset day.”

I discovered this from this The Art of Manliness post, and Kristin Foss also talks about it in her Daily Tidy workbook.

Essentially, you clear the decks, both physically (as in, your physical space) and mentally.

The Art of Manliness suggests taking a day off to do this. Now, again, I can do this whenever I want, because I have no boss. If you are like most everyone else, then you might want to approach this differently. Break each step down into days, i.e., one “hour” per day. (The things don’t all take an hour. at least not in my experience.) Break it up so you can do it at a pace that is doable to you. The post suggests that taking a day off might motivate you to stick to the routine you establish, because you’re giving up a vacation day to do it, and thus you won’t want to do it again. I think that has some sense to it. But if you can’t do that, then no sweat.

If you have children, I still think you can do this. The first step is to “clean the house”, but it’s really, do what you can in an hour. Put things away, do the dishes, take out the trash, make the beds—the “low lying fruit” so to speak. This isn’t the time to deep clean. It’s the time to deal with the surface clutter that nevertheless causes issues and creates frustration.

The second step, “Brain dump”, can be done anywhere, really. You can do it during your lunch break, at a coffee shop, after the kids go to bed, when they’re napping—really, whenever. You can do it right before you go to bed.

The third, “Take care of as many to-dos as you can”, is also pretty practical. Remember that, if you’re following the layout here, you’re limiting everything to an hour. You’re not doing to-dos all day, and the timed nature of it is what makes it helpful in my opinion. You can only do so many errands or to-dos in one hour, but anything you get done is better than nothing!

Steps four-eight, I’ll leave you to discover by following the link. But remember that it’s just an hour, and if you have to break this up over eight days, you can. Tweak it so it works for you.

By doing a reset day, you’re giving yourself a clean slate and eliminating little naggy things. You’re giving yourself margin.

Leila Lawler has a great post about how washing your hair and cleaning the floors can remove the sense of Futility About Your Life, and it’s true. Those little naggy things can make you feel awful—they take up so much brain space! By doing just a few small things, you can feel like a new person!

(For me, it’s vacuuming. When I have clean hair and I’ve vacuumed, I feel very content with myself and my life.)

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And, also as Leila says, when you’ve gotten rid of this mental and physical clutter, you can free up your mind for other things (like prayer! And creativity!). (And I can’t find the post now and I’m going nuts, but trust me, it’s there somewhere!)

(Now, if a list-making totally overwhelms you…..then don’t make one, but I generally find the opposite happens. It makes me feel better about myself because it’s all there on paper!)

I think in order to start any talk about simplicity, we have to get things into at least a modicum of order.

So to this, I’d add a few other things:

Do you have a first aid kit?

Do you have wiper fluid and jumper cables and such in your car? (Because winter is coming!)

Do you know where all your important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.) are?

If you want to simplify your life, get a reset day on the schedule.

I also suggest this post, from Auntie Leila: 10 Ways to Rescue A Bad Day

Of course there are lots of other things to talk about, and we’ll try to cover them—basic tidying stuff (because I am a work in progress here, aren’t we all?), cleaning, meal planning, finances, all that stuff. I’m not writing these because I Know All. I’m writing them because I have learned some things and in some areas I need more help, but you know, let’s get together and share our thoughts and help each other out!)


The book proof is here!

the bookEmily DeArdoComment
From my IG feed….

From my IG feed….

We’re reaching the end stages of my work on the book—yay!

So, after I wrote the draft, and worked with my editor and a copy editor to correct that draft, I’m now woking on the proof. The proof is when the book has been typeset and designed—so all the fonts and headings and all that are in place, and it’s starting to look the way it will look when it’s published. This is my last chance to make any corrections to it!


My baby printed out—it’s set to the trim size of the book, so that’s why it’s not a whole page of text.

My baby printed out—it’s set to the trim size of the book, so that’s why it’s not a whole page of text.

So, what’s proofing? Essentially I go through and read it all again, to make sure that the people who type set it didn’t leave out sections, that everything is spelled correctly, that my notes are correct (meaning, my citations at the end), and that the notes themselves are put in correctly, and that everything is accurate. A copy editor at Ave Maria Press is also looking at this for things like style and heading consistency, but since I also edit, I generally just looked at everything that wasn’t right!

The proofs are due by October 7, but I finished them up today. Now I have to send them to the editor so we can get them into the current digital file at AMP.

The publishing date is getting closer!!!!




Amber

CF, essaysEmily DeArdo4 Comments
“The Song of the Lark”

“The Song of the Lark”

Amber has joined my buddy Sage.

It’s sort of funny. It used to be that CF kids knew each other more than I did—we’d have wards and camps and so people had lots of CF friends. I never did, because that was all on the way out when I was diagnosed. I knew one kid from my first admission—Elvis (yes, that’s his name)—but I never saw him again after those two weeks of my first admit. (Although, in a strange twist of fate, one of my best college friends was from his hometown, and his mom was his teacher.)

There was Jenny, my freshman year of college—we were on the same dorm floor. I don’t know what happened to her.

But post transplant, I met more people with CF. Sage. Piper. People on Facebook. Kathleen. And Amber.

Unlike Sage, I had met Amber several times. She was the second transplant at our center (I was first, a fact that was a bee in her bonnet for awhile. Cracked me up.). She was younger than me, around my brother’s age (she was born in 1986). She’d been diagnosed with CF the normal way—as a little kid—but she lived nearer the Toledo center so that’s where she got her CF treatment.

We were both writers—she wrote a book called Breathtaking about her experience—and we both went to small Ohio colleges. (She had started at Cedarville University, but couldn’t finish because she got too sick, and eventually graduated from Moody Bible College.) She had a husband and they had adopted a little boy named Noah. He started preschool this month.

Amber had been in rejection for about two years, but she was a force. I mean, I’d never met anyone who was so unapologetic about herself, her life, her goals. She just told you whatever she thought, right out. “You can’t say that to people!” I”d tell her.

“Why not?”

Eventually, some of this rubbed off on me in dealing with our doctors. Ha.

She was just so unapologetically her. Honest, open, passionate, feisty. You always knew what she thought. But she wasn’t mean. She was just open in a way that a lot of people aren’t.

For two years she’d been driving from her home in northwest Ohio to get treatments at The Resort, to try to keep herself alive. There was talk of listing her for a second transplant.

I last saw her in July, at clinic. Clinic days are Mondays and so generally you tend to see other pre and post transplant patients at the same time in the halls and labs and in outpatient radiology. We got to catch up a bit, which was nice, because we hadn’t in awhile. She was carrying around a portable oxygen tank (when I say portable, it really was—it could be slung over your shoulder like a purse), but she was still fiery. Still giving me crap for wearing a skirt to the doctor’s. :-p “Comfort!” She said. And she was right, but I told her I preferred to use my feminine wiles to make the doctors do what I want. I was kidding, and she knew it, and we laughed about it.

I had seen on Instagram that she had missed an outing with her son to the zoo on Labor Day. But I thought she was okay. I have a news feed filter on my facebook app—basically, i don’t see scrolling updates anymore—so I had completely missed that she had been admitted with pneumonia and they had bronched her and she was in the ICU while they figured out a long-term plan.

I messaged her on Wednesday, to ask her a question about treatment. It was my brother’s birthday.

I got from his birthday dinner that night to find a message from her husband—Amber had died on Monday morning.

*

I don’t know why I’m alive, still, and Sage and Amber aren’t. Part of it is the idea that their journey, what God wanted them to do with their lives, was “complete”, I guess. And I’m not done. Which, I mean, is fine, I like being alive. But why me? Why not them too? Why are their husbands widowers, why is Noah without a mom, why did George the dog never see Sage come home? Why? Why do my siblings get to have me, and their siblings don’t?

I don’t know. I know God knows, I know He has his reasons, but I don’t know how much that really helps right now.

In Amber’s case, she had almost fourteen extra years. Her transplant anniversary was September 25. In those fourteen years, she wrote her book, she traveled to speak, she got married, she adopted Noah. She had extra time that she never would’ve had other wise.

But she was still only 33. Sage got an extra year of life, she had a wonderful husband and family and the sweet pups and even sweeter nieces and nephews.

I’m older than both of them.

A lot of people, post transplant, experience the feeling that they need to live for their donor. That they’re sort of entrusted with continuing the donor’s life as well as their own.

I never really felt that—probably because my donor was older, so it wasn’t like another 23 year old had died. (I’m not denigrating my donor’s gift, obviously! OBVIOUSLY. Just trying to explain how I feel.)

But I do feel, now, like I’m living for them. Sometimes I know Sage wants me to do something, to be brave and to ride it out.

And now I’ll feel Amber yelling at me to be honest and tell them how I really feel and figure stuff out, dang it. To just do x.

Both Amber and Sage had strong faith. I know that they’re happy. (I mean, one has to be happy when beholding the beatific vision, right?)

But gosh, I miss them both.

Seven Quick Takes--dance and a little simplicity

7 Quick Takes, simplicity seriesEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

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If you missed it, I did a Yarn Along earlier this week!

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Another thing I’ve been doing is going to dance class. Yes, I have started back, at a great studio, with a fabulous teacher. At the end of class on Wednesday night (in which I did a single pirouette, go me), I felt great. I called my sister afterwards and said, “That was such a great class! I have so much energy! I was pumped!”

“That’s what exercise is supposed to feel like,” Melanie said.

Well, shut me up. I guess I’ve been missing that for 37 years….

So I’ll be going to dance class on Wednesday nights from now on. Woo woo!


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I did have dance as a kid. But the only athletic goal I ever had was to get into pointe shoes, and I figured, since that’s the only athletic thing I’ve ever wanted, maybe I should….try to do that? So I’m trying.

I have a foam roller, a massage ball, and a theraband for working on foot and ankle strength. I am committed,!

And warm up booties! :)

Check out first position in the Bloch booties, y’all. :)

Check out first position in the Bloch booties, y’all. :)

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OK, before I talk about Simplicity, if you haven’t signed up for the email list, please do it? Because then you get all the fun book things first! (well, after my parents.) Go here! No spam! Promise!

(Already a subscriber? I love you! Mwah!)

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OK, so simplicity stuff.

September always makes me think about routine and rhythm and changes I want to make (hence, dance classes). And I thought, you know, I might as well write about these things. Because I think we can all use ideas on how to focus on what really matters, right? To give ourselves margin and to stop the crazy comparison game?

Now, I’m not married and I don’t have kids. I’m just gonna point that out. That makes some things easier for me—as in, I’m only responsible for myself and my own laundry. :) But at the same time, it also makes things harder, because everything is on me. I don’t have a husband to help me out.

That being said, I think that I can still share some things that I’ve found to be worthwhile. So I will share them with you!

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I’m so ready for pro football to start. I’m so glad college football has come back. Sports doldrums are over!

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I’ve been looking for some new movies to watch lately. What have you loved that I need to see? Share in the comments!

Yarn Along #90: Fun with Knit and Purl! :)

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo4 Comments


So, getting away from the heavy stuff in the last post, let’s talk about yarn!

linking up with Ginny


So, Quince and Co. celebrated their birthday a few months ago, and they were having a sale on their first collection of patterns—sale meaning, if you were an email subscriber, you got a code for one free pattern from this collection! So I chose the Isla scarf, because, one, it’s a scarf, and I like those (obviously), but it’s also a fun pattern that does some nifty things, using knit and purl stitches. I’m knitting it in their Lark yarn, lupine colorway, and let me tell you, this is pretty great yarn. (The color description for Lupine is, “Deep periwinkle waving in Maine summer breezes.” Who can resist that?)

It’s slow going because I do have to pay attention to what I’m doing—not only are there pattern changes, but also needle size changes, which at first I was worried about, but it’s not hard. And one “repeat” of the pattern is 28 rows. So this isn’t really a great watching TV project, because I have to concentrate, but it’s still a lot of fun to work on. This might be a good sports knit, because I can watch the game but it’s not like there’s plot. :)


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See those little rows? Those are from using the smaller needles. This is so squishy, you can’t even believe it.

Here’s a better look at the length….

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I am, as usual, reading five million books, but the one you see here is for a Facebook Book Club. We’re reading Loss and Gain * to prep for John Henry Newman’s October canonization. I’m on track with the reading but not my contributing, bad me!

I’m also reading Gift from the Sea * (again) and Emily Ley’s books, Grace Not Perfection * and A Simplified Life. * September is the “new school, new year” season for me—does it feel like that to you? I always feel like I want to lay down new rails and set new habits and structures in place. (And keep your eyes peeled—I’ll have a post—or several—about this soon!)

*=Amazon affiliate link




Miracles (and suffering)

essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

(This might not make a lot of sense, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about this week, so I thought I’d share with you.)

How do you define a miracle?

Normally we use it in the sense of something extraordinary, out of the ordinary, that can’t be explained. Generally it’s a life-saving thing—a miraculous healing, a miraculous escape, a miraculous rescue.

And the other thing we tend to associate with miracles is perfection. The person is perfectly healed. The person is perfectly restored to life and health and family.

But is that true?

Jesus did a lot of miracles in the Bible. He still does them today. I know I’ve been the recipient of several.

But you know, Lazarus still had to die. So did the little girl.

I will die, eventually. So will you. So will your family.

(#LivingMementoMori, y’all! :) )

Sunset—no filter required—outside Orchard House.

Sunset—no filter required—outside Orchard House.


Miracles are great. Believe me, I believe in them, as the song says. I believe in them strongly. I pray for them.

But I’ve never had a miracle that fits the definitions above—the “perfect” part. I’ve received miracles, but there are other aspects of them too.

I’ve lost hearing. I almost lost my arm. And those things, in the grand scheme of things, are small, because I’m alive. But when I was sick, I didn’t ask God for perfection. I asked Him for life. I asked for the chance to keep on living.

(In order to get my CF diagnosis, we had to switch pediatricians, which happened because my old pediatrician died. The connection of all of us in the grand story is impossible to unravel. )

Some people don’t get that miracle. Why did I get it, and Sage didn’t? Why are some people healed, and not others?

But there are other kinds of miracles—miracles of grace. The miracle of acceptance, of fortitude, of grace and cheerfulness and continued life even in the face of darkness and doubt and despair.

A miracle doesn’t necessarily mean perfection. It doesn’t mean that we get exactly what we want when we want it, because God knows so much better than we do, which is crazy to think about. What good was achieved by Sage’s death? What good is achieved by so many of the losses, of the pain, of the darkness? What good is achieved when babies die and people commit suicide and people starve?

I don’t know. And neither do you.

God does, though.

God sent His own son to die for us. Every single one of us will face death, and we will face pain and loss of those we love and things we can’t live without.

We beg for miracles. That’s true. That’s right. God wants us to ask for them.

But…..sometimes the miracle isn’t the physical miracle.

You know, Mother Angelica once said she could go to heaven with a broken body, but she couldn’t get there with a broken soul. That’s true.

Pray for the miracles. Pray for God’s intervention. Ask, seek, knock, beg.

But remember that if God doesn’t give you what you want, it doesn’t mean that He didn’t hear you. It doesn’t mean that He’s smiting you. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t have enough faith. (That one gets me, big time. Mary’s baby boy died—and no one had more faith than she did!)

Be thankful for imperfect healing. Be thankful for imperfect life. Be thankful for acceptance.

And the thanks might come on the far side of a lot of yelling at God, or screaming, or almost despair. God I do not understand.

You’re not alone in that. The apostles didn’t understand either. We can’t understand.

What we need to cling to, though, is that in every situation, in all circumstances, God is with us.

This isn’t airy fairy talk. This is talk I know. I know even in the darkest moments, in that valley of death—the real one, actual, true death—God is there, even if I don’t feel Him, and there are times when I haven’t. It’s not like I’m always walking around in a cloud of Blessed Assurance, y’all.

Miracles are gifts to us. But we aren’t owed them. I didn’t do anything to “deserve” getting a second chance at life.

The psalmist says that God’s ways are mysterious. There’s no better place to see that than at the precipice between life and death.

The miracle you might need the most might not be the one you’re asking for.






Seven Quick Takes--St. Rose and Staycation

7 Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima, a Dominican Tertiary! She is an excellent saint for our times.

II.

You may have noticed some blog silence round these parts—I tend to blog less in the summer. But we’ll be revving back up again, especially as book news comes out. If you want to know all the book goodness first, then sign up for my mailing list! (No spam. Only fun things. Pinky promise.)

III.

“OK, Emily, enough, tell me about staycation!”

OK.

So, we went to Colorado for my sister’s wedding in June, but, as you know if you’ve had a family wedding lately, they’re fun, but they’re work too—you have to make sure your clothing gets to the place unmolested, that your shoes fit, that the priest shows up, etc. etc. etc. And that you didn’t forget anything two thousand miles away. And I’d just finished the first draft of the manuscript. So yeah, I was beat when June was over!

I finally decided that I wanted to take a ‘staycation’ in August. I’d never done it, but it sounded like fun.

I made this a really cheap staycation. I did not have a masseuse come to my house, I didn’t hire a cleaning service to clean my house, and I didn’t get a room in a hotel (all of these are actual staycation suggestions I found on the internet. OK, folks. The hotel one was the only one I didn’t think was really out there. If you want someone to clean your house, fine, and that’s legit, but….as a staycation? I guess….anyway, I digress!)

I set a limited budget, and made a plan. That budget would encompass everything I wanted to do, just like a real vacation, except I was staying in town. Columbus has a lot of fun things! When my family goes on vacation to the beach, we normally eat out for one meal, and have the others at our beach house; I have a nice tea/coffee break in the afternoon; and I do a lot of reading. So all those things were incorporated as well.

IV.

Monday was sort of the planning day. Tuesday was when I ventured forth!

The first place I went was Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. They had several exhibits I wanted to see—a Chihuly installation (above and beyond what the conservatory already has, which is a lot), Blooms and Butterflies (where they release hundreds of butterflies into the Pacific Island Room), and a bonsai exhibit. It would also be a great time to sketch! So I packed up my sketching stuff and headed off to the conservatory.

(To see the gallery photos, swipe or use your arrow keys!)


I’ll have to take photos of my sketchbook pages so I can show you what I did.

It’s always a lot of fun going here. There are different “biomes”—Himalayan Mountains, Rainforest, Desert, and the Pacific Island Water Garden. The Bonsai exhibit was held in a different gallery, where it was very hot, because, glasshouse and it was 90 degrees. But it was still fun. I ate lunch here and grabbed a butterfly shaped silicone tea infuser to replace my tea balls that keep BREAKING!

After I had lunch and finished sketching, I went home, made some tea, read a bit, and then went swimming after dinner.


V.

Wednesday I took a trip to German Village. German Village is, as the name suggests, an area of town that was founded by German Immigrants in the 19th century. Many of the streets are still paved with bricks, and the houses showcase the original architecture. It’s also home to some of the city’s best eating!

I went to Schmidt’s, which was founded in 1886 and serves some pretty epic sausage. The thing about Schmidt’s is they don’t take reservations. So you either get here right when it opens at 11, you eat at off-times, or you just wait. OR, you come alone, like I did, and you eat at the bar, where there is usually no wait! Yay!

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After Schmidt’s, I headed to a local coffee shop and then to The Book Loft, which is an incredible independent bookstore built into an old house (or several!). It’s amazing. You could spend hours here, and you get all your steps in wandering around! :) Before cell phones it was interesting to go here with a group—you just sort of had to hope you’d find each other again. I think every book is 5% off, and some are really marked down, like more than half, or even 75%, so you can always find good deals here, and books that other places won’t have. It’s a little bit addictive. I sketched the fountain in their courtyard, and came home with some awesome Wizard of Oz magnets.

(If, somehow, you have missed my addiction to The Wizard of Oz— I have one.)


VI.

Yesterday I had tea with my friend Mary before she goes off to graduate school, and that was delicious, as always. (Cambridge Tea House is the best!)

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I also watched To Kill A Mockingbird and started watching Wizard, because it’s turning 80 on Sunday!

VI.

So that was my ‘staycation’. Today is the last day, and I’m having lunch with my dad this afternoon, which we do just about every week and I enjoy. (Last week it was lunch and shopping with mom, which was equally enjoyable!) This afternoon I’ll probably sketch a bit and knit and…do laundry. Which is part of a week-long vacation, anyway. :)

So that’s how I staycationed! Have you ever done this? Any questions about how I did it? Really, once I made a list of all the things I could do in town, it was hard to choose! (I might do one more thing tomorrow before Mass. We’ll see!




Living the Church Year: Assumption Party!

Catholicism, food, hospitalityEmily DeArdoComment

So we’re gonna start with the real-ness, here:

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Realness, people. It’s even blurry because I was tired, sorry bout that. :)

But also the sign of a good party, if there are lots of dishes and plates and cutlery and cups in the sink…..it means people ate and drank and made merry!

So, when I wrote about Feasting last week, I didn’t mean multiple courses and all sorts of fancy dinner accoutrements and fancy things like that.

No. What I meant was a dinner in your home with other people!

It doesn’t have to be complicated! You don’t have to have everything perfect!

Let me tell you what I did.

First: Invite the people

My table only seats four adults (unless I put the leaf in, which is at my parents’ house). So inviting three people was the max I could do for a sit down dinner. I checked with my friends, we picked a day that worked, which was also the day before the Assumption, so, Assumption Party!

Otherwise it would’ve been a late St. Dominic’s Day Party. :) OR a something something feast day party. :) We’re good at naming things around here.

Second: Figure out the menu

I didn’t want to make anything terribly elaborate. I always make Guinness Cake for dessert….

The cake, in mom’s cake stand, which she lent me! Thanks, mom!

The cake, in mom’s cake stand, which she lent me! Thanks, mom!

For dinner, I made Rachael Ray’s Drunken Tuscan Pasta, which is really yummy, and easy to serve to people. I don’t always like making pasta for a dinner party because you can’t really make it ahead. But then as I was making this, I remembered why I like it—it’s just so dang good. (I”ll give you the recipe.)

Third: Delegate

I didn’t do all of this myself. One of the guests brought sparkling water and a bottle of wine, and another brought the makings of an appetizer and a big, lovely salad, which she made at my place. It was so fun having someone to cook with in my kitchen! It’s so much more convenient here than it was at the old place, because I have an island instead of a “peninsula” sort of thing, so people can cook in multiple places!

Fourth: Make a plan

I wrote out my list of ingredients and went grocery shopping a week before (and then two days before, for the things I had to get sort of fresh, like the portobello tops) . The cake can be—indeed should be—made the day before, so I did that. That way all I had to do was cook the pasta when people were here. A few hours before everyone’s arrival I chopped rosemary, sliced mushrooms, and portioned out red pepper flakes into my little prep bowls. This just makes everything easier when people get there.

Fifth: Try to make it pretty

“try” being the key word here….

I used my pasta serving bowls, which I got at Crate and Barrel eons ago, but are perfect for this. I even dug out place mats and real napkins, because, hey, why not?



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And finally….

It doesn’t have to be perfect!

I didn’t have wine glasses. People drank wine out of mugs! It was FINE! We used the same forks for salad and pasta! It was fine! (We did have different forks for the cake, though, because I had enough for that!)

The house was spic and span because it was the first party in the new hours, and we had house blessing (one of the guests was a priest) and the guests hadn’t seen Orchard House before so I wanted it to look nice. But really, I still didn’t go nuts. I didn’t polish all the fixtures until they sparkled. I didn’t freak out about water spots on the windows from a rain storm.

The point of a party is to get together and have fun and celebrate!

So, yes, make sure your house isn’t, you know, unsafe! :) Make sure it’s hygenic! :)

Make sure it’s comfortable, that people have places to sit, but really, don’t worry about everything looking like House Beautiful because it’s not going to happen!

And even if I didn’t make dinner and we just had Chipotle take out, it would’ve been fun. If the food doesn’t turn out, or you burn it, get a pizza and just chill. It’ll be fine.

I’ve found that having people over to share food and conversation (and prayer!) is a great way to build community, to bolster your feelings, to feel that you’re not alone, and that living the Christian life is a pretty great thing to do. We need community!

So go out there and plan a party!

St. Dominic, the Innkeeper, and Twenty-First Century Preaching

Catholicism, essays, politics, DominicansEmily DeArdoComment
El Greco,  St. Dominic in Prayer

El Greco, St. Dominic in Prayer

There’s a story about St. Dominic that’s familiar to every Dominican, and I think it has important implications for us today.

Here’s how the Nashville Dominicans tell the story on their website:

Two years later a diplomatic trip brought Dominic into the Albi region of Southern France. A strong zeal for the salvation of souls was enkindled when the young canon encountered an innkeeper who was steeped in the errors of the Catharists, a heresy which threatened the region. Although other religious had been commissioned to preach in the region, little progress had been made. After a long night of intense discussion, the light of truth prevailed and the innkeeper returned to the practice of the faith.


So let’s break this down. Think of a hotel. Imagine you’re in the lobby, getting something to drink before you go to bed, and you start making small talk with the desk clerk. You discover that he’s an agnostic.

You have a few options:

Don’t say anything. Just smile and say good night, but mentally pray for him.

Share that you’re Catholic. Don’t go any father.

Tell him that he’s going to Hell.

Say that you’re Catholic and spend the rest of the night trying to browbeat him into submission!


What did St. Dominic do? He talked to the innkeeper. All night. You can imagine that it wasn’t full of highly charged statements (like, hey, you’re going to Hell! Good night!) or polemics. It was probably logical—because we Dominicans love study—and it was probably methodical. And it was also probably gentle. I doubt the innkeeper would’ve stayed up all night if St. Dominic was banging him over the head with proofs!

There’s nothing wrong with a good discussion, including one that gets a little exciting.

My siblings and I are all half-Italian. When we have discussions, we get loud. We get boisterous. We use our hands! For people new to way we converse, you can think we’re arguing. (Growing up, our mother, who is not Italian, often told us to stop arguing. “We’re not arguing! We’re talking!”) St. Dominic was Spanish, so I wonder if he used his hands, too. Maybe!

But there’s a distinction between passionate arguing and getting personal. And on St. Dominic’s Feast Day, that’s what I want to talk about.

St. Dominic (detail) from “Christ Mocked with the Virgin and St. Dominic,” Fra Angelico

St. Dominic (detail) from “Christ Mocked with the Virgin and St. Dominic,” Fra Angelico


One of the mottos of the Dominican order is “Veritas”—truth. We love truth. We live to spread the truth of the Gospel all over the world! And that’s part of the reason we study, so that we can know what the truth is. Truth isn’t about what you think is true, or a “personal truth". (for example, children believe that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny exist. We could call that their “personal truths.” )

Truth is verifiable. Truth can be known. Sometimes, yes, there is mystery! We will never understand everything—and we’re not meant to. Some things are just beyond our reach on this earth. But we know the truth of faith because it’s able to be studied. It’s able to be seen. We believe in the truth of Jesus Christ. At Mass every week, we say the “credo”—”I believe”. This isn’t what just I believe, or what you believe, or what the pope beliefs, or what Fr. Patrick up on the altar believes. It’s what we have always believed, as a people, a family of faith.

If you are Catholic, you have to know what you believe, and why you believe it—and you have to assent to it. You can’t just say, well, that’s fine for you, but I don’t believe in Transubstantiation. (You would be….wrong!) I don’t believe in the Church’s definition of marriage. I don’t believe in Hell. Etc.

Truth is truth whether you believe in it or not. People believed the earth was flat—but it wasn’t. People believed that slaves weren’t people—but they were. People believe that unborn babies aren’t people—but they are. See how this goes?

It goes without saying that the truth needs to be spread far and wide. That’s part of what Dominicans do.

But, the question is “how to do it.” As the Wicked Witch of the West said, “These things must be handled delicately.” We can’t be too nice that we deny people the truth—because the truth sets them free, and truth is the best thing you can give someone! But we also can’t be so awful and hard-core that we turn people away from hearing the truth and listening to it.

Let’s take a story from the Bible. It’s one that’s familiar to everyone—the story of the woman caught in adultery. I’m going to quote it here, so we can all have it freshly before us:

John 8:3-11

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in their midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”


Do not sin again. That’s the crux, really. We are all sinners. Every single one of us. I am, you are, everyone. None of us is without sin. But Jesus doesn’t say to the woman, “Oh, what you did is fine. Go ahead, go home, it’s all good.” He said, I don’t condemn you. But don’t sin again. That’s what happens when we go to confession—we have to promise to try not to sin again. We can’t just think, oh, I can do what I want, because confession!

Jesus loves us more than we can possibly imagine. And because he does, he doesn’t want us to keep messing up. It makes him sad! Do parents like it when their kids make bad choices? No! But are they angry? Maybe. Are they disappointed and sad? I think this is probably more likely. (I mean, they might be angry at first. But I think then it becomes more sad/disappointed.)

When we discuss heated issues in the twenty-first century, we are not good about being gentle about it, like Jesus is here. Now, yes, Jesus also turned over tables in the temple. Sometimes we can be righteously angry. I get righteously angry whenever I talk about disabilities or abortion. That’s my thing. But if I slip and start calling people names, or want to incite violence against them, I am sinning.

We can be preachers of the word. We have to be, both preachers of the word and doers of it. We have to live the life of Christ. Sometimes that means standing up for people. Sometimes that means living a quiet life of witness. Sometimes it means both!

If you want to make your point, if you want to convert people, you aren’t going to do it, usually, by violence or hatred or name calling. We need to stop doing that. We need to do it like St. Dominic did it—gently, with facts, with truth, and then….step back. See how it goes. Conversions aren’t instantaneously. St. Dominic famously cried, “Oh Lord, what will become of sinners?” He cared about them. He didn’t just want to score a point like in a college debate match. He didn’t want to just win. He wanted the other person to see the truth because it would save them.

Politics in America has always been nasty (see the Election of 1800!). But we must stop seeing each other as enemies across a divide. We have to state our position, but also realize that we can be friends with people who don’t vote the way we do. In fact, we are required to love them.

I know things get heated in the public realm. I worked in politics for 10 years. I saw it, up close and personal. We cannot want to kill our opponents, guys. We can’t approve the shooting of congressmen and women because the victim disagreed with us! What kind of people will we be then?

A story was told to me by the first legislative aide I worked with, who had been in the senate a long time. She said that senators used to argue like crazy on the floor, and then go out to dinner together. They were friends with each other. That was becoming rarer and rarer

Christianity isn’t a religion for wimps. Jesus doesn’t ask us to be a doormat. He asks us—and St. Dominic shows us how—to preach the truth, to live the truth with our lives, to pray for our enemies. We can have discussions—even loud Italian ones! We can be passionate! I’ve always been passionate when talking about the Church.

But there’s a fine line between being passionate, and being so whipped up into a frenzy that you can’t see the human being on the other side.

St. Dominic saw the humanity in the people he met. That’s what drove him to preach—his concern for them and his love for Christ.

Does the same thing compel us?




August yarn along--a bit of lace

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

linking up with Ginny!



So, on Sunday I decided to try working on a basic lace pattern. I have to do lacework for my Find Your Fade shawl, and when I first tried it in January, I was really confounded by it! So I’ve been working on smaller projects to try to get the hang of it.

This is a horseshoe lace pattern bookmark…..

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You can see why it’s called horseshoe!

This really isn’t hard. I know it looks hard! But the twisting happens just naturally as the way the pattern is written. The problem for me right now is that this isn’t knitting you can sort of pay attention to—you have to pay attention the whole time. The pattern repeats in sets of 8, but if you miss a row, interesting things happen. (Ask me how I know this….)

The pattern called for size 3 needles, which I don’t have, so I used size 4, and the yarn is from my feile shawl. It was just too pretty to sit in my stash!

These are long bookmarks. They don’t look this long in the pattern photo, but trust me, they are….

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As for what I’m reading….

I’ve read The Lambs * before, and it’s just great. If you love stories about animals, the natural world, family relationships and….sheep, you’ll really like it!


I’ve also got this big stack—one library book, three pleasure reading novels, and a whole bunch of books for the Well-Read Mom year….


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There are two more books for the year that I haven’t gotten yet, and two more that I already have and are on my shelves—The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women. (Of course I have Little Women! My house is named after their house!)

I’ve also created a list that sums up all the knitting projects in the pipeline right now—a baby blanket, a scarf (new pattern! Exciting! I don’t actually have a long scarf for me to use in the winter!), my Find Your Fade shawl—I’ll at least do the set up section again and get that on the needles—and a cowl I’ve been wanting to make forever!


Feast, Feast, Feast!

CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Guys, it’s AUGUST!

And that means that it’s time to FEAST!

The Church calendar is just jam packed with feasts in August! This week we had…

Dedication of St. Mary Major (yesterday)

The Transfiguration (today)

Thursday is the feast of St. Dominic! (A feast for me, because, DOMINICAN POWER!)

And then we have the feast day of St. Edith Stein, and Maximilian Kolbe, and the Assumption is next week…..

It’s all happening!

Part of living the Catholic life is living liturgically, which means to fast when the Church fasts….and to FEAST when the Church feasts!

Remember to do that! It’s not just about the penance and the fasting! It’s about joy, too!

So be sure to celebrate!

Raphael, The Transfiguration

Raphael, The Transfiguration


I’m having an Assumption Party next week, so I’ll share all those details with you, to give you an idea of a feast you can have at home with pals.

But really, be sure you celebrate the days that are important to you. Celebrate your confirmation saint’s day! Celebrate the Holy Days and the Feasts! Join the Church in her party!