Thursday, March 31, 2011

Style Stitches: Month 3

You would think that since March has 31 days, I would have finished these long ago. But no. Of course I waited until the last minute and completed them around 5.30 tonight. In order to be eligible to win one of the giveaways in the challenge, you have to finish the project before the month is over. This is the Origami Bag from Style Stitches. All the bags nest together quite nicely. Daughter has already claimed one of them. I will probably use the rest to store craft supplies. If you want to see some of the cool other interpretations, click on the Style Stitches button on my sidebar.

I have to say that this was a very intricate pattern. It looks like an easy zipper pouch, but with the gusseted corners and weird construction, they took much longer then expected. I did learn a new skill though. I had never shortened a zipper before, so I can now check that off my list.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lent: Weddings

Today is my fifteenth wedding anniversary. I can't believe it has already been that many years. Obviously, when you tally up all the things that have happened - it has definitely been fifteen years worth of adventure. I feel an immense amount of gratitude for being lucky enough to share my life with someone who totally understands me and still chooses to stick with me!

This post, though, is about getting married during Lent. I have to admit, when we chose the date, Lent didn't really occur to me. We had wanted to get married on St. Patrick's Day in St. Patrick Church (my home church) under a stained glass window of St. Patrick. Could you get a better start then that?! The Catholic Church, though, had other ideas. They were not at all thrilled to have a wedding during Lent. Lent is a quiet time. A time for reflection and sacrifice - not a time for a joyous occasion such as a wedding. Thankfully, we had a Priest willing to be a tiny bit flexible. First, no wedding on St. Patrick's Day. Evidently, you can not get married on a Sunday. So we chose the next Saturday (23rd) because it seemed kind of lame to get married on the 16th when the 17th was the next day. Second, we could not get crazy with the decorations. Additionally, we had to take everything down immediately following the ceremony - all the flowers had to leave and the somber looked needed to return ASAP. Which was a little bit of a bummer, because like the flowers pictured above, we had really beautiful colorful flowers that I would have loved to have left for the parishioners. Finally (and the most frustrating), we had to leave the well up. Yes, well. I must admit I am not actually sure what the well signified. I would guess something to do with baptism during Lent. The church had "made" a brick well on the chancel. It was quite large. We offered to take it down brick-by-brick and set it up exactly how it was when the service was over. Obviously that didn't fly with the Priest. Thus, that well shows up in almost all our photos at the Church. We also had the fastest Catholic ceremony on record. I think the Priest still wasn't a hundred percent sold on our plan.

Would I choose this day again? Definitely. Despite all of that - it was a wonderful day. What I remember most from that day is just being happy. To me, that is what it is all about.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mood Music



This is by far my favorite St. Patrick's Day song. Something about it just sums up the day! ;-p

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saddened

I am finding the events unfolding in Japan to be devastating. I can't get past all the people displaced, missing and dead. I see families searching for each other, hoping the worst hasn't occurred. As a parent, I can't imagine not knowing where my child is. I also can't imagine them being alone having to fend for themselves without us there to help them. It is just overwhelming. My heart and prayers go out them. I just wish there was something I could do to really help them. While it isn't much, I did contribute to the UUA/UUSC Japan Relief Fund. I encourage all of you to consider donating something to them or your relief agency of choice. We are all at the whim of nature whether we realize it or not.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent: Purple

Purple is the traditional color of Lent. It represents both the pain and suffering of Jesus and of humanity. It is also the color of royalty. You will see it throughout Christian churches during this time. You will also notice that most churches will cover their crosses and that there is a decided somber air in them. As such, Minister's liturgical stoles will be more simple and often in shades of dark purple or violet. Above is the stole I just finished for my sister-in-law (who is an ELCA Lutheran minister). I literally finished it today! Just in time for Sunday. She is partial to batiks so that is what most of the fabric is. Below is the reverse. It is a lot more basic, but I like to think the cross is a bit cheerier. Maybe she will wear that side closer to Easter. Unfortunately the picture makes the color look a lot bluer, but it is actually quite purple.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Frustrated

Tonight was the night that I had to play for the Ash Wednesday service. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I practiced both the hard and easy version of the songs. Yesterday I admitted to myself that I will have to stick to the easy version (mind you I have only recently started playing the harp, although I did briefly when I was a fourth grader). I was OK with that. I felt like I had it down pretty well and could even add some musical interpretation :-). Of course, this was all in our living room. In our living room, anything is possible. Including me thinking I could play the harp. Obviously, reality is a different matter. Flashes to my horrible childhood piano recitals kept flashing through my mind. I ALWAYS froze. No matter how well I knew the piece, I always performed poorly with an audience. The only instrument I can half way play in front of people is the clarinet and that is only because I have been playing it for fifteen years. Well tonight was no different. Thankfully I was in the balcony and nobody could see me. After a rough start, I did manage to get the song out. Pathetically, I ended up playing with just one hand. I could blame the chair(it was too high) or the mic(it didn't turn on right away), but really, it was just nerves. I am so mad and disappointed in myself. I KNOW that song. I know how to play it with both hands. I feel like everybody was just wondering why I lugged that harp there only to play like a five year-old. People were nice - but is a church, of course they are going to be kind. I am just so frustrated.

Lent: Sacrifice

Traditionally, the period leading up to Easter involves a time of sacrifice and repentance. This hearkens back to the time that Jesus was in the desert before he really began his ministry. It ends during Holy Week with the culmination at Easter. It is a time to reflect on your faith and how you are going to move it forward in the world. I would encourage all of you to sacrifice some time each day reflecting on what you truly believe and how you are going to project that to others. Are you living your faith? What does that mean to you? Are you comfortable sharing it with others? Why or why not? Is there something holding you back from fully committing to your spiritual path?

We all have doubts and insecurities. We can't have all the answers. Life is an exercise in constant growth and discovery. We change and our understanding of our faith may change. That is OK. What is not OK, is passively accepting all that is told to you. The beauty of being human is the ability to look deeper. That may bring you closer to your current faith or lead you on a new path. Either way, I feel, you will find greater personal fulfillment and be able to positively affect the world. So sacrifice some time, it can only lead to good things.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lent: Miracles

As you can see by the title, I have decided to do a small series of posts on Lent. Longtime readers know that I am partial to this season. Something about it really attracts me. I will warn you, though, that everything I write is just my musings, and it is highly doubtful that I will back it up by any sort of research. So if you are looking for that, you best check elsewhere ;-)

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the official start to the Lenten season. After forty days and nights, it culminates in Easter with the Resurrection of Christ. This got me to thinking about miracles. When did the majority of us stop believing in them? I mean big ones like this. I often pray for a miracle - I bet a lot of us do, but do we really believe a miracle is going to happen? Or, are we hoping for a miracle, but are pretty sure it is brought about by some sort of human intervention? What about believing in true miracles - something completely unexplainable? Something like the Resurrection? The Bible is peppered with miracles. Miracles that were easily believed in and prayed for. When did we become such cynics? Is it because miracles don't always happen when we want them too? Have you experienced anything akin to a miracle - something so unexplainable that a miracle is the best description? I can't say that I have experienced anything like this, but I like to think they are possible. I want to keep myself open to them and not close myself off to the possibility just because they are beyond my reasoning. Sometimes looking for an explanation blinds us to the beauty of what is truly happening. I hope you keep yourself open, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tired of Defense

I had a bit of a disturbing parking lot conversation today. I mentioned to a friend that I had seen her friend at my UU church. I thought of it as a positive. Another way that the world is so small that we all seem to run into each other. Well, my friend stated that she was not happy about this. It caught me completely by surprise. She flat out said it like that. I asked her why, and she stated that it would mean her friend was no longer a Christian. I was flabbergasted. Obviously, I told her that no one could take away her friend's Christianity. Just because you attend a UU church, doesn't mean you can't be a Christian. We don't go and try to "de-Christian" people. Instead of being happy that her friend (after a long search) found a possible church home, she was upset that it didn't meet with her idea of a Christian church. Then my friend said something that drives me crazy. "Isn't it really more of an organization then a religion, anyway?"

GAAHHH!!! I get so tired of people saying that. We are a religion. Just because we don't conform to your idea of religion doesn't mean it isn't authentic. I believe in a higher-power, I say grace at the table, I observe certain holidays, I pray, I come together every Sunday in community, I read sacred texts to help discover deeper life meanings. How is this not living my religion? UU supports and encourages all these activities. How is that different then yours? Yes, I totally grant that UU isn't for everyone. It really isn't. But, for those it is right for - it is meaningful and powerful.

That is my two-cents. I just wish I had the presence of mind to say that second paragraph to my friend. Instead I sat library duty thinking of all the things I could/should have said. It also occurred to me that my friend didn't appear at all to think it an insult to consider my faith not real. I am sure if I had insulted Christianity, it would mortally wound our friendship.