Monday, January 28, 2008

Wise Words

Jen gets to the heart of the problem of abortion while explaining her own conversion from being pro-choice to being pro-life.

I didn't want to hear too much about heartbeats or souls or brain activity...terminating pregnancies just had to be OK, because carrying a baby to term and becoming a parent is a huge deal...and society had made it very clear that sex is not a huge deal. As long as I accepted that for people to engage in sex in a contraceptive mentality was morally OK, I could not bring myself to even consider that abortion might not be OK. It just seemed too inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences.

When we're fed the lie that you can separate sex from procreation, we make up other lies to convince ourselves that the evil being done as a result isn't really evil, and even more, is a "right" and a good worth fighting for.

Definitely read the whole post, it's great as usual!

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Veil or Not To Veil

On the exer board, a discussion was started about head coverings. A couple women reacted with a kind of instinctive cringe which I think is common today. I don't blame them, and I do understand the reaction, but I think it is one that is because of the time we live in, and I think it is one that comes from a place of misunderstanding and reactionism based in the feminism of our day.

I think true feminism is a good thing, and I'm so thankful for all the good stuff that women have fought for...but I think in many ways the movement has made women uncomfortable with expressing what have traditionally been very feminine attributes at all.

It seems some sections of feminism strove to be man-like. Since men were in charge, many traditionally feminine characteristics were things to be avoided if women wanted to be equals with men. In the process they, certainly inadvertantly, ended up actually furthering the idea that femininity itself is inherently "less than". In my opinion, because of this error many ended up sacrificing true femininity rather than encouraging people to respect true femininity. The result is, many women now cringe at the sight of thoroughly feminine characteristics...including modesty, purity, humility, etc. (All of the things so thoroughly embodied in Our Lady.)

And so we're leftover with knee-jerk reactions to feminine signs of humility and submission (even to God), because we were supposed to get rid of all that, because obviously no woman would ever want to be those things, it was assumed that she was always forced to be those things. I think that's where they went wrong in their assumptions.

Now, it goes without saying, a woman should never be oppressed or forced to do something she is not willing to do simply because she is a woman. But that shouldn't mean that women (or men, of course, but there doesn't seem to be a problem there) can't choose to perform acts of humility or submission willingly, especially before God.

According to the Christian tradition, humility and mutual submission (from both men AND women) is a good thing.

He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I think we're so used to crying "OPPRESSION!!" at any sight of women showing some kind of external sign of humility (because of the assumption that it was always by force and never by choice) that we're starting to oppress them ourselves in the opposite manner...they are no longer even allowed to show any kind of external sign of traditionally feminine humility or submission before God for fear of being told they are not "progressive" enough, and they're insulting all those who broke free from their bonds by returning to them.

But I thought true progress meant allowing people the choice. And yet, I find it interesting that those who are the loudest to run to the battle cry of "choice" often seem to actually be trying to push one particular choice above all others.

Some claim that veiling is just an oppressive rule required by men and promoted by men, but personally, most of the people I've talked to who support someone wearing it (should they want to) have been women who felt called to wear one as a sign of devotion. It was humbling for them, because in this day a lot of people tend to look down on them for wearing it, and they're doing it despite that (and the women I know are not doing it as a "holier than thou" thing, although I certainly know those types exist.)

Some say, well it's not necessary so what's the point, other than some kind of forced submission?

In my opinion, It is an expression of faith in and reverence for the Euacharist. There are many things we do that aren't, strictly speaking, "necessary." In the Catholic faith, we believe in an incarnational faith...which means, spiritual things are expressed through physical things. That doesn't mean they have to be, but it means they often are, and this is good and fine. (As opposed to gnostics who thought matter was bad, etc.)

Likewise, our actions and such tend to affect our inward thoughts...not only does blessing myself with holy water upon entering the Church express respect for the Eucharist, it also helps me call to mind my baptism and entrance into the Church, and to remind me physically that I'm entering a holy place. It works both ways, it is both a physical expression of a spiritual reality, and a physical reminder of the spiritual reality.

Such can be the case for some using a head covering too...for some, it is a physical reminder that they are entering a holy place. And there is nothing wrong with that, is there? To assume someone is being "holier than thou" or has been brainwashed into oppression just because of a veil on the head is, to use the favorite accusation of our modern day, judgemental. It isn't right to judge anyone's intentions when we don't know them, charity necessitates that we avoid assuming the worst about people and their intentions.

To be clear, I'm not trying to insist that everyone should be wearing a veil, I don't wear one myself! But I do think it's just as unfair to insist that everyone should as it is to insist that everyone shouldn't (because it's archaic/because it's seen as holier-than-thou/because it's just symbolic and isn't necessary/fill in the blank). I think the gut reactions instilled in most modern women is a sad testament to the errors made by some of the early feminists in denouncing femininity itself.

I'm simply asking for the freedom to let those who want to wear one to do so without reproach or ugly looks or uncharitable thoughts, and for those who don't want to wear one to do so without reproach or ugly looks or uncharitable thoughts. When we get to a place where people can respect others' choices and avoid uncharitable thoughts about them, then we'll be making true progress. Until then, we're just trading one form of oppression for another.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My New Model!!

Ok, so I know I said I'd keep most sewing stuff on my new blog, but I'm excited and wanted to post this here too!

No longer do I have to do my own modeling, I hired myself a model!

Lol...of course, I'm really excited about being able to play with fabrics using a dress form, it will be so nice to be able to look at the clothes on something else and not have to stand in front of the mirror and try to hold 10 different things on me to see how they would look.

I ordered it last week but had forgotten it was supposed to be delivered today. My dear husband actually surprised me...he was home sick today with a fever and cold, so I took the opportunity to go run some errands (since I'm usually without a car during the day.) Of course one of those errands was heading to a fabric store to use a giftcard I was given (Thank you Sleen!!!!!). I came back, said hi, went into the sewing/computer room to put up the fabric and there she was, all put together! :-D He even got rid of the box so I would be surprised, hehe. So sweet of him to do when he was feeling under the weather.

I was only able to buy this because of the items that I've sold, so a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me out!!

Prayers Needed

A friend on the NFP board has just found out that they lost their baby at 39 weeks gestation. Please send up a prayer for their comfort in this time of grief, and for the repose of the baby's soul.

Our Lady of Sorrows, whose heart was pierced with the sword of grief, pray for them.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on them and comfort them.

Eternal rest grant unto their sweet child, oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What I Heard Through God's Megaphone

A recent discussion on the NFP board got me thinking about how one's expectations in life can make all the difference in how a person reacts to trials and unexpected difficulties. It can mean the difference between a good attitude and a bad attitude.

I remember various occasions as a child when I thought we were going to be eating at one place, and it turned out I was either mistaken or there was a change of plans, and I would get so incredibly angry and upset...about food...about the fact that we were going out to eat and I could pick anything on the menu I wanted and a cook would make it and a waiter would bring it to us, and there would likely be more than enough to fill me up. Yeah.

It wasn't really the place that mattered all that much, it was that I was expecting something else. And as soon as I heard mention of the possibility of going to a certain place, in a way I felt I was owed that place, and no other place, and not going there meant I was being severely slighted. I should have seen dining out anywhere at all for what it was...a luxury that we are blessed with in this country, and not an entitlement. Of course, I was a child then, but I still have the tendency to react the same way.

A much bigger trial, though, has helped me to see this and to try to readjust my expectations and my understanding of things as blessings, gifts, and bonuses rather than entitlements.

I certainly didn't ever consciously think of children as something I deserved or was owed, BUT I did take it for granted that, as is normal (what a gracious and loving God we have), a couple who enjoys the marital embrace would have a baby.

But, that hasn't happened for us, and this brings me to a choice. Do I look at children as a right? Something I am owed? Or do I see them as a gift, and a gift that there is nothing I can do to deserve?

I chose the latter option. I now see a child as a true gift, a blessing, and something that, no matter how easily it may come for others, is not something I am entitled to, and is therefore not something that I should feel slighted for not receiving. This is, I think, the only way I'm able to stay positive. If I insisted that a child was a necessity, a right, I know I would be extremely angry at God for not giving me my due, or possibly even (God forbid) angry at my husband, or at the Church for (rightly) teaching against IVF, or at any number of people or things, when at the heart of it the problem would be my attitude, which would be a result of the idea that children are an entitlement.

Does this make our struggles in life any easier? Not necessarily. They still hurt, they still cause suffering...if they didn't, we wouldn't call them crosses. A sacrifice without pain is not much of a sacrifice. But I do think mentally and attitude-wise it helps fight bitterness and anger, because it helps us see the truth of the matter more clearly - what we long for is often not an entitlement, but a gift. It helps us to endure the pain and know that God has not forgotton to give us anything at all, and His grace will get us through.

Humbly offering up our suffering in life as a sacrifice to God brings grace. Grace frequently brings clarity. Therefore, it is often in struggles that we are able to recognize and more perfectly conform to reality. YES it's hard, and of course recognizing the ideal doesn't mean we will meet that ideal right now or even in the long run, but if we don't recognize or acknowledge it, we can't even begin to try to meet it.

Lord, grant me the grace to humbly accept and embrace the cross I've been given. Through this cross, help me to recognize your gifts for what they are, and to fight the temptation to harbor a sense of entitlement over the things I desire.

God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks to us in our conscience,
but shouts in our pains;
It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

-C.S. Lewis

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A New Blog!

Ok, so I had a bit of a change of plans. I was planning on opening up an Etsy shop, but as I discussed it with my husband we decided to wait on that, since it's something I have to spend money to use. I'm not planning on making a big business or anything, I'd just like to sell a few things on the side to friends and anyone who is interested, and mostly I wanted a place to help me mentally organize all the stuff I'm working on, have worked on, etc.

So, I decided to just create a new blog to have as my crafting center, and offer anything I have to sell on there as well. I'd like to just take it slow and see how things go before spending any money in order sell things.

I present to you my new blog:

From now on, I'll probably be keeping most of my craft and sewing related stuff on there rather than here, but I might link to it from time to time. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sewing Madness!

Well it has been a while since I blogged, so I thought I'd give a little explanation about what's been keeping me busy...the answer is mostly sewing (among the holiday craziness, of course!)

So, here are some samples of what I've been up to. It all started with the Christmas Bazaar at church at the beginning of December. We were supposed to bring baked goods, and I did, but I'd also been having fun making tissue holders (per the instructions discovered through Sew, Mama, Sew), so I decided to bring a few dozen along to see if we could sell any. And, they were a big hit!

As I was sharing pics with my friends on the ex-board, I received some requests from people who wanted to buy some! I made some in purple for a special request:

Then I was asked if I could make an apron...I said sure, and this was the result:

Then I was asked to make another apron from some fabric I had posted a pic of, and thus the second apron was created:

In the meantime, I found out there was going to be an extra aunt I hadn't planned for at Christmas...and so I decided to whip up this handy reversible apron!

For Christmas, I got some wonderful sewing tools!! From my sis I received a very nice pear of cutting shears and an adorable wrist pin cushion, and from my mom I received something I didn't even know existed...a sewing chatelaine! It's basically an open ended long beaded necklace type thing, that has various hooks and clasps to which you can attach sewing scissors, a seam ripper, a needle holder...VERY handy! I've already put it to good use, I think it was probably my favorite gift. Thanks Mom!!

After all the Christmas family fun was over, I realized a friend's wedding was coming up. She's a bit goth/punk, and an absolute riot! She inspired this little number:

The wedding is tomorrow, can't wait to give it to her!

And finally, for the longest time I've been wanting to try this (reversible!)wrap skirt, also from Sew, Mama, Sew. I ordered the necessary fabric several months ago (of which you need quite a bit, but I found some great clearance deals!) but never got around to actually doing it. Since I was on such a sewing kick I decided to take a stab at it. The construction was really SO simple (being a wrap skirt) but I am seriously in love with the result (and surprisingly with the olive fabric which I basically only bought because it was on clearance!)




So, that's what I've been busy doing! I've been commissioned for another apron (similar to the first one), so I need to get on that. I'm thinking about opening up an Etsy shop, because I'm having so much fun, and if I can make a little pocket money while doing something I enjoy, why not, right?

With the money I've made from these projects, and with some Christmas money I received, I'm planning on buying a dress form! Nothing fancy, and mostly so that I don't have to model my creations anymore, lol. I'm very much looking forward to that!