Wednesday, January 28, 2015

are cute puppies & kittens Satan's minions?

Wait, what? "Did you really say that cute puppies and kittens are workers of Satan, Lucifer, God's archenemy? Okay- priest's wife: you have proven yourself to be a hypocrite. Not only do you have a pet cat named Lucky who is pampered with soft food once a week:
You, priest's wife, also have a standard poodle named Duke that either travels with you (sometimes cuddling on daughter #1's lap in the van, naturally) or is put up in a $50 a day kennel (The Happy Dog Inn) when needed. 
Yes, dear readers, and we also have fish- a beta and two goldfish with Lord of the Rings-themed names that I cannot recall at the moment.
And I enjoy our pets. We take care of them as best as we can, remembering that they are animals without souls. They get doctor visits and food and exercise and a hug now and then. But they are not our babies. 
So, why would I wonder if dogs and cats were 'Satan's minions?'
I came across this 'news' item today: 'GoDaddy pulls Superbowl Ad after PETA complaints about Puppy Mill Humor." Here is the advertisement in question:
While I am very much against puppy mills (Duke was a rescue from a family farms with just too many poodles and Lucky was given to us from a family friend), this backlash against a silly ad and the passion for puppies over humans makes me believe that we are turning a corner in human history. For many people, human babies are disgusting, bothersome, inconvenient creatures, but one can call their puppy or kitten their 'baby.' PETA does not believe that it is strange that their formal policy on human abortion is explained away thus: "And just as the pro-life movement has no official position on animal rights, neither does the animal rights movement have an official position on abortion." 
No, we just want to know if human life can be valued over animal life. When puppies and kittens are valued over human life, they are 'satan's minions,' distracting us from the eternal. 
In 2014, people in the US spent $350 million on Halloween costumes for their pets. There was a 6.5% rise on 'pet services' like grooming from 2012 and 2013 for spending in this category at 4.4 billion. This is when the overall US economy had a 'real growth rate' of 1.8%. And at least 1,000,000 human babies are aborted every single year.
Our priorities are changingAt a work-related dinner party recently, pet cat and dog videos were shared and cooed over among the diners. But it was clear that my children's exploits were not a welcome part of this adult conversation. But then, my baby girl is five years old, not as sweet-looking as a new baby puppy:
Our pets, however beloved and cared for, are not eternal. We should put most of our effort into the eternal: our soul and the care of the human people that God has entrusted us: our friends and family. C. S. Lewis wrote: 

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Let us focus on the eternal.

cobblers' wives: icon corners & home blessings in the priest's family house

January is almost finished! In the Byzantine Catholic tradition, homes get blessed every year after Theophany (the Baptism of the Lord- celebrated January 6th on the Eastern calendar). Our home (actually a new rental, so it really needs to be blessed!) has not been blessed yet. My husband wanted to wait for a fellow Byzantine Catholic priest to do it. One colleague is an hour away; another is two hours away. Plans went sideways, and neither can come this season. It looks like papa will have to bless his own house. Lent is practically here!
And the photo above...this will be the beginning of our icon corner. We moved after Thanksgiving and then Christmas happened. So, the poor icon corner has been neglected. Baby steps....we are working on our 'little oratory.'

Monday, January 26, 2015

a new kitchen & an easy chicken soup for a multitasking mama

We moved into a rental house, The Prancing Pony, after Thanksgiving. The house is almost three times the size of the townhouse we own, and the widowed landlady left it fully furnished. We are blessed. Now, I am praying for  some sisters or a retired priest to come live in the guest room downstairs.
She left the decorative rooster; we have named him Chanticleer (I am very excited about the solid surfacing counter tops- they are so easy to clean!)
There is even room for a paper towel dispenser (yes- the kitchen in the townhouse we actually own is very very small). If you squint, you can see my prayer-rope bracelet on the dispenser. It lives there while I do dishes. I get excited over tiny things. 
Easy & Healthy-ish Chicken Soup
for those days when you- a stay-at-home mama- are rushing off to teach a  college class in the evening
--- Cover 4 to 6 dark meat chicken pieces (on the bone) with water in a medium pot.
--- Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water and simmer.
--- In an extra-large pot, cook a large diced onion and minced celery (to your taste) in a tablespoon of grapeseed oil until translucent.
--- Add one head of chopped cabbage. 
--- Cover cabbage and onions with water and let come to a boil.
--- While the cabbage mixture is coming to a boil, peel 6-8 carrots.
--- Cut carrots and 6 red unpeeled potatoes into bite-sized pieces, add to cabbage mixture.
--- Turn down cabbage and potato so pot is simmering instead of at a rolling boil.
--- Leave the medium pot with the chicken and the large pot with the vegetables to simmer while you prepare breakfast, throw a load of clothes in the laundry, feed the pets, answer work emails, and teach the children their ABCs.
--- Let the pot of chicken cool down. Pour the chicken broth into the vegetable pot, using a strainer to ensure no yucky bits get into soup pot. 
--- Debone the chicken pieces, chop the meat & add it to the vegetable pot. 
--- Add salt and garlic (powder or chopped fresh) to taste. I will probably sprinkle an 'herbes de Provence' mixture in my portion. 
--- Add fresh chopped parsley and any herbs that your family enjoy.  
--- If you are Romanian, you will need a bit of sour cream. 

This is inexpensive and fairly quick to make. It isn't gourmet, but it is nice to eat soup when there is a chill in the air! I also try to focus on the soup pot, crock pot or a casserole when I am teaching in the evenings. The food can wait while dad comes home and plays a game of Nerf guns before dinner. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

an inspiring contemporary Christian song for Catholics: Abandon's It Was Love

Was Jesus human or divine when He was on the cross? This song explores that and comes to conclusion that "it was love" that held Him to the cross. He felt pain because He was fully human, and He made the choice to stay on the cross of our salvation because he is God. 
lyrics to It was Love
The angel stood in awe
At the sight they saw
The night You were betrayed
You could have saved yourself
But you held back the heavens
And let them carry You away

You laid Your kingdom down, they handed you a crown of thorns- You were torn, but cried let Your will be done

It wasn't nails that held You to the cross It was love, it was love, it was Your love- You took our place, carried our guilt and shame All for us, all for us, all for us It wasn't nails that held You, it was love

To think You chose this cup knowing all that was to come
Oh the grace that poured from You
Before Your final breath through Your tears You said
"Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
You looked up to the sky-- Let out a final cry
It is done! Hope has won! Lord, let Your kingdom come!
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