A Recovering Catholic or an Enlightened One?

Today is the third Sunday of Lent.  Over the past three weeks, I have been to three different churches on a quest to find one that will teach me about the Bible, God’s word and most importantly, to help me to be a better person.

I was raised Catholic, but over the years, I have come to disagree with many of the church’s teachings. For example, I do not agree that the wafer and wine are actually the body and blood of Christ and turn into them because of the powers of the priest. I also do not believe that a priest can absolve me from my sins through confession. Yes, I confess my sins, but I go right to the big man.  He is the only one who can forgive me in my mind.  In addition, I have never felt comfortable with the elitism that is associated with Catholics – that only those who are Catholic can receive Communion. I stopped going to Catholic churches and tried a few other denominations of Christianity.  I did not find any that I really liked, so I just stopped going. And kind of strayed away from religion.

I began praying less often, even though I still felt incredibly blessed.  I was often so tired at night that I would start to pray and then fall asleep. Or, I would start saying the “Our Father” and a million other thoughts came into my mind distracting me.  I would try and clear those thoughts out of my head and start over again and again. Yet, those other thoughts or sleep would always prevail and I would go to bed without thanking God for all He did for me that day.

A few months ago,  I started watching “Duck Dynasty” and my interest in religion and God was reignited.  I liked how none of the family members are cruel to each other, there is no drinking and sexual talk and that every episode ended with a prayer. It got me thinking that I needed to focus more on God.

For Lent this year, I decided to give up something, but to also read more about God and go to church every Sunday. I bought the Duck Dynasty Devotional book which gives a verse from the Bible, an explanation and a prayer each day.  I have also gone to church every Sunday to try and find a religion and place to pray (even though I know God is everywhere).

The first Sunday, I went to a Born Again Christian church with my husband. The first 40 minutes was singing and greeting/talking to other people. The pastor finally read from the Bible and talked about Lent, but I honestly did not learn anything new.  The whole way they did the service was very different from a Catholic church and hearing a loud band singing songs was a little too much for me at this point. However, I am willing to try another Christian church.  My husband’s aunt and uncle are very active in their church and I love talking with them about their beliefs. Plus, they are wonderful people who are truly living their lives according to God’s word.

I went back to a Catholic church last Sunday(to give it one more chance) and listened to a priest saying that Jesus gave priests and bishops the power to forgive people for their sins.  I still feel that only God can forgive you and wonder how a priest making you say 10 “Our Fathers” and 10 “Hail  Mary’s” can absolve you over your sins. In fact, I am not even sure we are supposed to pray to Mary.  So, that experience solidified the fact that I no longer consider myself a Catholic.

Today, I went to a Presbyterian church and really enjoyed it. Plus, I actually learned something! I went at 8:00 and was among only 7 other attendees. It was held in the church’s chapel and was slightly informal.  They did have a later service which the reverend said always has more people.  I ended up speaking with the reverend after the service.  He asked what brought me to the church and I told him that I was raised Catholic, but had a lot of disagreements with the church.  He said that I was one of many “recovering Catholics” that have switched to a different denomination of Christianity. (I also heard that from the pastor at the Christian church I attended.) It makes me wonder – why are there so many “recovering Catholics” and what does that mean?  What is the church trying to do to keep people there?  One thing I do not want to be is a hypocrite, so I will not be going back to a Catholic church, but I do wonder – am I a recovering Catholic or just an enlightened one?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Are you a recovering Catholic?  A devoted Catholic? An enlightened one?

Teachers Get…

Teachers get summers, weekends, holidays and snow days off!

This is a common statement that I have heard for the past 19 years that I have worked in education.  While it is true that teachers get these days off, they also “get” a lot of other things…

Teachers get much smaller salaries than other professionals, even with Master’s Degrees.

Teachers get students who do not speak any English and are expected to bring them up to meet the Common Core State Standards.

Teachers get parents who also do not speak English and getting support from them or even trying to communicate how to reinforce learning at home is a challenge.

Teachers get students who come to school hungry because there is no food in their houses.

Teachers get students who cannot sit still, so they are allowed to stand up and walk around in the middle of class while the teacher is instructing.

Teachers get students who are being abused at home.  Many times, teachers are not even told about the abuse, as it is an issue of confidentiality.

Teachers get students who are on medication.  Some are getting used to their meds, some are overly medicated and then there are the days when a parent forgets to give a child his much-needed medication.  But the teacher is still responsible for dealing with those children no matter what.

Teachers get students of varying ability levels in their rooms.  They might have gifted students in the same class as special education students and they are expected to make three or more assessments for every quiz, test, etc to meet the needs of all students regardless of the range of abilities.

Teachers get students who are classified as special education students and do not always have a special education teacher with them or the teacher is only with them for part of the day.

Teachers get emails from parents questioning their teaching, lessons, and assessments.  Helicopter parents seem to think they know more about education than teachers do. If a child does not get an “A” it is blamed on the teacher.

Teachers get no extra pay for the numerous extra hours they work. There is never overtime and certainly not enough time in the day to teach, plan, grade and prepare in the contracted time.  There is no such thing as an 8 hour day for a teacher.  Nor is there overtime.

Teachers get students with severe behavior and anger issues and end up having to deal with constant disruptions because those students are placed in regular classrooms.

Teachers get no extra money for supplies and end up spending hundreds of dollars each year on things for the classroom.

Teachers get constantly slammed in the press for low test scores.  However, most people don’t get that if students do not come to kindergarten prepared, they are already at a disadvantage.  Schools no longer turn children away who might not be ready.

Finally, and most importantly,

Teachers get how important a child’s education is and despite all of these incredible challenges, they never give up.  One thing is certain – they will always get respect and admiration from me!

Teachers Get…

Teachers get summers, weekends, holidays and snow days off!

This is a common statement that I have heard for the past 19 years that I have worked in education.  While it is true that teachers get these days off, they also “get” a lot of other things…

Teachers get much smaller salaries than other professionals, even with Master’s Degrees.

Teachers get students who do not speak any English and are expected to bring them up to meet the Common Core State Standards.

Teachers get parents who also do not speak English and getting support from them or even trying to communicate how to reinforce learning at home is a challenge.

Teachers get students who come to school hungry because there is no food in their houses.

Teachers get students who cannot sit still, so they are allowed to stand up and walk around in the middle of class while the teacher is instructing.

Teachers get students who are being abused at home.  Many times, teachers are not even told about the abuse, as it is an issue of confidentiality.

Teachers get students who are on medication.  Some are getting used to their meds, some are overly medicated and then there are the days when a parent forgets to give a child his much-needed medication.  But the teacher is still responsible for dealing with those children no matter what.

Teachers get students of varying ability levels in their rooms.  They might have gifted students in the same class as special education students and they are expected to make three or more assessments for every quiz, test, etc to meet the needs of all students regardless of the range of abilities.

Teachers get students who are classified as special education students and do not always have a special education teacher with them or the teacher is only with them for part of the day.

Teachers get emails from parents questioning their teaching, lessons, and assessments.  Helicopter parents seem to think they know more about education than teachers do. If a child does not get an “A” it is blamed on the teacher.

Teachers get no extra pay for the numerous extra hours they work. There is never overtime and certainly not enough time in the day to teach, plan, grade and prepare in the contracted time.  There is no such thing as an 8 hour day for a teacher.  Nor is there overtime.

Teachers get students with severe behavior and anger issues and end up having to deal with constant disruptions because those students are placed in regular classrooms.

Teachers get no extra money for supplies and end up spending hundreds of dollars each year on things for the classroom.

Teachers get constantly slammed in the press for low test scores.  However, most people don’t get that if students do not come to kindergarten prepared, they are already at a disadvantage.  Schools no longer turn children away who might not be ready.

Finally, and most importantly,

Teachers get how important a child’s education is and despite all of these incredible challenges, they never give up.  One thing is certain – they will always get respect and admiration from me!

50 Years of Being Together!

50th Anniversary Picture

Last weekend, we threw a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for my in-laws.  As I was planning for the centerpieces and decorations, I found that most craft and party stores had very little for a 50th anniversary party. There were a lot of things for a 25th, but not a 50th.

Fifty years is a long time to do anything, but especially to be with the same person every single day of your life.  Every marriage has ups and downs, but it seems that the key is going through life together.  Together, they endured hardships and pain.  Together, they shared the joys of raising two sons and working hard to make a good life for their family. Together, they created many happy memories with families and friends and together, they have remained.  For fifty years!

I got to thinking…how many people in my generation will get the chance to celebrate 50 years of marriage? Let’s face it. Once a couple marries, there are only two ways to not remain married – divorce or death.

As far as divorce goes, most people in our parents’ generation have stayed married (sometimes for the wrong reasons). The divorce rate is very high in our country and many of the people who are divorced are of my generation.  But I have hope.  I really believe that the fact that many people are getting married when they’re a little older may lead to more lasting marriages. People can get the partying and carousing out early and not want to do it once they are already married.

Getting married in my 30′s was right for me.  No way I was ready to settle down in my 20′s, and I don’t think my husband would have been either. I think you know yourself better as you get older and have a deeper sense of commitment and loyalty.  Many of my friends also got married in their 30′s and their marriages are also going strong.  That is not to say that if you marry young, it will not last, but with everything going on in today’s world, I think people really need to know themselves first and know what they truly want out of life before making a lifetime commitment to another person.

As for the “death” part – luckily, we are living longer and longer which also makes me think that celebrating 50 years is more feasible. With new medical technology and early detection, illnesses are being identified early and cures are more possible.

So, to all the craft and party stores that currently do not have supplies for 50th anniversaries – better get those shelves stocked!  A new generation of golden anniversaries will be coming in the next few decades!!  Get ready!

A Real Adult?

I think I have actually turned into a real adult. It’s true.

On Saturday night, my husband’s friend invited us to go hear him play in his newly formed punk band.  We always try to support our friends, so we decided to go.  Plus, we were curious as to what a 40+ punk band would sound like. As the day went on, I began to feel a sense of dread.  The band was going on at 9:30 and I realized that 9:30 is normally about a half hour before I go to bed.  How the heck was I going to go out to a bar at that time?  Then, I wanted to slap myself. What was I? Old?  How could that thought even enter my head???

As the time grew nearer, I tried to talk myself into how great it would be to go out and hear a band, maybe do a little dancing and have a few drinks.  Yeah! Just like old times! I then went into our room to get dressed and there, at the foot of the bed, were my very comfortable, soft, and warm pajamas.  It was almost as if they were calling to pick them up and put them on and forgo the bar and head straight for the bed.  I  fought the urge to put them on and quickly threw them into the drawer so they were out of my site. They would not win!!

After that little temptation, I went to apply my make up in the bathroom.  As I looked in the mirror (trying to  ignore the ever increasingly deep lines forming between my eyebrows), I felt a yawn coming on.  And then, with one eye adorned with my Ivy Green eyeliner, I yawned.  And my eyes got teary, as they do when you yawn.  I quickly blinked as fast as I could to prevent the eyeliner from running. What was going on? A few years ago, 9:30 would have been EARLY to go out and here I am wanting to put my pajamas on and yawning while I am putting my make up on! This is a disgrace!

And then I realized that I just might be a real adult.  Yes, I’m 40, but never really considered myself to be an actual grown up.  It’s true. After all, I still dance around the house, sing off-key (the only way I know how) and do silly things with or without kids around. Suddenly, my mind began racing at things I have heard myself say over the past few hours/weeks/months which have me learning towards this “real adult” theory brewing. They are as follows:

1.  ” The band goes on at 9:30? That’s almost my bedtime!”

2.   “No, I am wearing a sweater to the bar.  It’s cold out!”

3.   “How can that kid only be wearing a sweatshirt when it’s this cold out!”

4.   “The music today stinks.”

5.  “When I was a kid…(add whatever you used to hear your parents say here)”

6.  “How will that eyebrow piercing look when she’s 55?”

7.   “What time is The Late Show on?  That’s way too late for me.”

8.  “Wow, I remember that song like it was yesterday.” – (listening to a song from my high school years on the “classic rock” station)

9.  “Tell that kid to turn his music down!”

10.  “No, I can’t eat that. It will give me indigestion.”

It’s pretty scary, I will admit, but I am not totally convinced that I am a real adult.   I am still holding onto the fact that I did go out, I did have a drink, I sort of danced (it’s kind of tough to dance to punk unless you are moshing) and we stayed out all night.  Til the next day in fact. Well, technically it was the next day.   Okay, who am I kidding? We were home and in bed by 12:30, but when you think about it,  we were out all night.

Therefore, I must conclude that I am not totally a real adult.  But I’m getting there.  Slowly but surely…MAKE IT STOP!!

All You Need is LOVE!

 

Today is a day that is all about love and whether or not you have a sweetheart, there is love all around you.  Open your eyes and your heart and see it.  And feel it. And know that giving love can be just as rewarding as getting it.

I am extremely fortunate in that I have always felt love from God, my parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephew,  friends and even my beloved dogs! I now feel a love for and from my husband that is more powerful than anything I could have imagined. It is a wonderful feeling that warms my heart and soul.

But, for many years, I did not always see how much love was around me. I wanted the wrong person to love me and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  I saw my friends go through this as well in our numerous years of being single.  But now that I am older and wiser (I think),  I have realized a few things:

  • You cannot make a person love you.
  • It is never wrong to give or show a person that you love them.
  • Love is the strongest force on earth.
  • Letting someone love you is not always easy.
  • Being in love is wonderful, but it should not define who you are.
  • You have to love yourself first. No matter what.

So, as you celebrate Valentine’s Day (or not), remember those around you who love you not only today, but every day. And love them back. As the Beatles said, “All You Need is Love.”

 

Snow Days!

Okay, if you live in the Northeast, you might be sick of those two words.  In fact, you might resist the urge to even say them since we have had so many so quickly.  And it’s only February!

On Wednesday, while I was working from home (now that I am a consultant, there are no more real snow days), I saw on the news that parents and kids were going stir-crazy and that parents were walking or driving out to places where kids could play.  That made me stop and think.  Was I ever bored as a child when it snowed? Did my mom have to take my brother and I somewhere to be entertained? The answer is unequivocally – NO.  In fact, I rarely ever remember being bored when I was younger and especially not in winter!

When my mom would let my brother and I know that we had a snow day, it was a a cause for celebration!  Vince and I savored an extra day off because we used to PLAY.  All day. If it was really nasty out and we ran out of pretend games like Batman and Batgirl or having stormtroopers invade the family in my doll house, we would break out board games.  My personal favorites were Monopoly, Parcheesi, and Pokeno.  We also played card games such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, War and Spades.  My mom would join in with those games as well, which was great!  When we were able to go outside (which we both preferred), our imaginations ran wild.  If we were not running from the abominable snowman, we were trapped on Plant Hoth (I was always Princess Lea, he was Luke Skywalker and our neighbor was Han Solo). We also went sledding, held running contests in the snow, made snowmen and snow forts and had snowball fights.  And, yes, we also helped shovel the driveway. In fact, my parents got us each our own red shovel.  Hmm. Now that I think back, I guess that was smart parenting move.  No excuses for EVERYONE not to help out!  But we just loved being in the snow and having fun!

Bored?  A need for entertainment?  My mother having to take us some place to be entertained on a SNOW DAY? Not for us!  Our house (inside and out), our imaginations and our games were all we ever needed.