Easter Vigil, One Year Later

While I don’t talk much about my faith journey on my blog, I was reminiscing the other day about how it has been a year since my baptism and conversion to Catholicism.  The year has been full of learning and growth, and I’m forever thankful for the change that has come to my life since joining my Parish.  The people there are amazing: loving and kind, supportive and helpful, and full of a heaping dose of reality if you get to be too big for your pants.  I adore them all, and love to help out wherever I can.

Which brings me to this post.  A few weeks back, right before we left for Alaska (which is a blog post all unto itself), the Adult Faith Formation leader, Kathy, shot out an email to the RCIA class from last year.  Apparently, each year, the RCIA class from the year prior helps stock the food for the following class’s Easter Vigil.  Always up for an excuse to cook, I quickly volunteered to help set up for the vigil, as well as provide a few dozen deviled eggs for the party.

Now, there’s a story to deviled eggs.  Growing up, it was the ONLY dish I was allowed to help with on the major holidays.  My mother ran her kitchen like a General runs his military unit.  Everything had a place and a place for everything, and God help you if it wandered under your watch.  Needless to say, deviled eggs became my speciality, and I was pleased to be able to share the with everyone this Easter!  However, I needed something with a bit more “oomph” than just regular old deviled eggs.  So, after a little bit of thought, a quick bit of research, and a short trip to the store, I had everything I needed.

DYED DEVILED EGGS.  That’s right…why serve any boring old, white deviled eggs?  This is the 21st century, folks…the land of Pinterest!  Why be inspired when you can be PINspired?!  (Lame, I know…feel free to express your groans)  I quickly set to work, hard boiling my eggs and peeling them to get started.  As a fair note, I have tried every trick under the sun to get my eggs to peel easily.  So far, hasn’t happened.  I’ve damn near given up and just accepted the fact that my eggs look like they escaped from a leper colony (no offense to any lepers reading).  But, nothing a little dye wouldn’t fix, right?

picstitch 2I peeled and cut up my eggs, disposing the yolk in a bowl, and set to dying.  I wanted the colors to be super vibrant, so I bought two dye packs and used 2 tablets per one dye cup, just so the colors would be ultra saturated.  I also used vinegar, though not as much as the packet said, because I didn’t want my deviled eggs to taste pickled.  Because that’s just gross, I don’t care who you are.

The eggs dyed up really well, and I let them dry over night in the fridge.  This morning, I whipped up the filling, and grabbed my icing piping bags to fill them.  I thought that I had some icing tips around here somewhere, but apparently they’ve disappeared (or I never bought them, either is entirely possible), but none the less I made do.  I left out the pickle relish in the filling, as I’ve recently been told that some people don’t like pickle in their deviled eggs (THE TRAVESTY!), and instead opted to cut a sliver of pickle and stuff it in the middle of the filling as a garnish on half the eggs.  Problem solved!

Here are my Easter Dyed Deviled Eggs!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them…it was a ton of fun!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Religion

religionMy views on religion have shifted over the past decade or so.  Growing up, I was raised in a pretty fundamentalist church, that my Mom and Dad are still members of.  I remember, as a small child, really enjoying Sunday school.  I’m a huge geek, and any opportunity to learn something historical is a huge win for me.  So, for the first 10 years or so of my life, I really enjoyed church.  As I started into my teens, I started having questions on what I was learning.  Some of the stuff seemed a bit off, and many of the teachings of our church weren’t the “love everyone” idea that seemed to be the foundation of Christianity.  By the time I was 15 or so, I was getting constant pressure from my mom to get  baptized, but things felt off for me in the church.  I started backing away from it, and by that point the church was preaching more of a “shunning” attitude, and I felt it was time to leave.  Not just the church, but organized religion altogether.

That lasted quite a few years…until we moved to the Netherlands.  For awhile, I had felt like there was something missing in my life.  I knew, instinctively, that it was church and a relationship with God.  In the NL, I met my dear friend, T, who is devoutly Catholic.  She’s the type of person that doesn’t mind if you’re Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, whatever.  If you’re a good person, then you’re good in her book.  She was my first friend in the NL…and is still one of my best.  She taught me a lot about the Catholic faith, and it was so interesting that I learned as much as I could.  I visited a few Catholic churches (as well as other denominations within the Christian faith) to see where I fit on the most.  I won’t lie…I went church shopping.  I encourage everyone to do it if they’re confused about their faith or are looking for something.

When we moved home, I decided that I wanted to check out our local parish to see if it was a good fit.  From the first moment I walked in, I felt such complete peace.  It truly was a “homecoming” moment, which sounds so incredibly cheesy.  It was like these people were my long-lost family, and I fit right in!  I started attending the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and was later baptized into the faith over the Easter holiday.

All of this for my thoughts on religion.  Honestly, it’s a personal choice.  If it works for you, then go for it.  I think people have an inherent relationship with God, but if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you.  I care more about whether a person is a “good person” than I care who that person worships.  It’s a common middle ground for me, to discuss religion with people, but if they’re not religious it’s not like we won’t have a million other things we can talk about.  If people want to ask me questions about my faith, I’m happy to answer, but I don’t consider it my job to convert you to the masses.  Bottom line…it works for some, not for others.

So, there you have it.  My thoughts on religion.  If you have any questions on why I made the decision to convert, then I’m happy to answer them!

Much love,
K.

Random Post…Significant Memories

A friend of mine posted a blog post on significant memories, and it seemed like such an intriguing idea that I thought I’d do the same.  Memories have always meant a lot to me (as I’m sure they do to most people), but the topic of memories because even more important to me after my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago.  Knowing that, eventually, his memories will fade and his concept of reality will be in flux is hard for me to imagine and accept.  It makes me even more aware of the need to document my life, in photos and words.  That way, should I ever be faced with something similar, I have a piece of my life to look back at.

I can think of several significant memories, so it’s hard to really pare them down  Some of my strongest memories are from very defining moments in my life.  I remember the day I found out I was adopted, while sitting on the kitchen floor watching my mom iron shirts.  I remember receiving my acceptance to college in the mail, and running over to tell my best friend.

dominican boatBut, I would say my most significant memories are snapshots of important events in my life. One major one was my first trip abroad, on an archaeology dig after my Freshman year of undergrad.  We spent 15 days in the Dominican Republic, digging in the mornings, working through our finds in the afternoon, then living it up in the evenings.  I made some very lifelong friendships during that time, that I’ll always keep close to my heart.  In fact, one of my friends who I met on the dig is currently living in France, while another lives north of me.  When the friend living in France comes home to visit family, we’re all three going to meet up (it’s the two ladies with me on the boat, in the photo to the left)!  It will have been over ten years since we were all together!  I’m so excited to see these ladies, as they are phenomenal women and great friends!  That was my first real experience with travel, and from that moment on I was hooked. That trip really opened up a lot of amazing doors for me, and I’ve been forever grateful for my friends who pushed me into taking that step to go (even though I was terrified).

Wedding 11-25-2008 7-03-15 PMAnother significant memory was the day J proposed. He took me to one of the gardens that was owned by a local, very wealthy, family in town.  It’s in the middle of downtown, and walled off by brick walls all around the perimeter (it’s very “The Secret Garden” like).  He proposed in the garden there, while we were walking around photographing the flowers, and later we even came back to have our engagement photos taken there. We’d only known each other a little over four months, but I already knew he was the one for me. Eight years later, and I’ve never looked back. He is my other half, and no one else on earth pushes me to be a better person and to be more ME than he does. He’s amazing, and I thank God for him, daily.

graduationA third memory that really sits in my mind is my graduation from law school.  It was a long four years to finish my law degree and master’s program.  I hated it at the time, but looking back on the amount of work I put in and the time I spent to finish, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.  This was also when I first started dealing with my depression and anxiety, so knowing that I overcame that while working so hard on the degrees makes me feel like I grew and learned so much during that time.  Not just academically, but personally.  I grew into an adult who was self-confident and capable of meeting challenges head-on.  That knowledge has helped me more than anything in my career and personal life.

stbFinally, my last significant memory (that I’ll post about, at least) is the day I was baptized and converted to Catholicism.  It was such a sense of homecoming and peace, and for the first time in a long time, I felt that I was exactly where I needed to be from a spiritual perspective.  I spent several years as a member of my parents’ church, and I never had a feeling of happiness or energy while worshiping there.  I left that church during high school, and never really looked back.  It wasn’t until I met my good friend, T, in the Netherlands, that I started really searching again for answers in religion.  She introduced me to Catholicism from a personal perspective, and over the years I’ve been drawn closer and closer to the faith.  Sadly, I don’t have a photo of myself during the time of my baptism and confirmation (there was SO much going on), but I do have a photo of our chapel and the gorgeous stained glass works that decorate the area.  Sometimes, during mass, I feel drawn to those stunning windows, and immediately feel peaceful and happy, regardless of what is going on in life.  I only hope that my faith continues to sustain me, especially as my father’s health fails.  Undoubtedly, I’ll face many more obstacles in life, and hopefully I’ll find solace and hope within the community that I’ve discovered.

So, there you have it, some significant memories of my life!  I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing with you all some of my experiences, and if you have any questions (or want to know anything about me I haven’t covered), please feel free to ask!

Much love,
K.

It’s happened.

As of Saturday evening, I am now a baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic!  Holy Week started last Thursday, and it was a whirlwind of activity all weekend.  Very busy, but it was a great time.

Thursday was Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday.  Part of the mass was a foot washing ceremony, symbolic of when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet during the Last Supper.  I was initially really nervous about this, because I am not a fan of being in front of others as the center of attention.  But, once I got there, and we did a walk-through, a lot of the nervousness faded.  Then, when it was time for the ceremony during the mass, I was totally fine.  No nervousness (which was odd).  The ceremony was surprisingly beautiful.  All of the people in RCIA (those going through preparing for baptism and those preparing for confirmation) were up there as well, and both priests were washing feet, one at a time.  During all of this, the story of the last supper was being read and music was being played.  It was really nice (plus, the church was freezing due to an AC issue, and the water was warm, so I can’t complain too much).

Then, after mass, I stuck around to watch the church be stripped.  This was when all the adornments were removed from the altar and the walls, and wouldn’t be brought be in until the Easter Vigil.  It was very solemn and quiet, and just a time for a lot of reflection and thinking about where I with my faith and where I wanted to end up.  It was just, overall, really nice and thought-provoking.

Friday was spent with a ton of house remodel stuff going on.  It was basically “go” from the moment we woke up.  We got a ton of things done with the bathroom (which is another post in the making), as well as some cleaning and general readying of the house.  We had the day off work as a holiday for Good Friday, so we tried to put it to use (days off are rare in our work).  We hung a lot of cement board in the bathroom, and my shower is starting to look like, well, a shower!  Very exciting stuff, to say the least.

Saturday was the big day!  We had a dress rehearsal / run through for the Easter Vigil service at 11:00am that was to last “at least an hour.”  Two and a half hours later, we were finished.  I’m glad we had it though, because there was so much that went on, I wouldn’t have known what to do!  After that, I ran over to the local outlet mall to grab a few things, then back home to help out around the house before the evening mass.  I had to be at the church by 7:45pm at the latest, so I left around 7:00pm to give myself plenty of time and to get my stuff set up.  We’d been warned that we would be DRENCHED…so to bring a change of clothes.  ALL items would need to be changed.  So, I wanted to make sure that my outfit was set up, that my hair dryer and stuff were all ready to go, and that I had everything I needed.  After that, I just hung out and waited for the show to start.

7:45pm rolled around and we started with a fire pit outdoors that was blessed and then used to light the Paschal Candle.  From there, all the sponsors and godparents had candles that were lit off the Paschal candle, and were then brought back into the church to light everyone else’s candle in the congregation.  The cool thing about the Easter Vigil is that the church starts off in darkness.  Then, as those of us being baptized and confirmed come in with our sponsors, the sponsors light candles of those in the congregation, and the candle light slowly spreads throughout the church.  It’s really quite gorgeous.  After that, there were some prayers, some readings, a homily…the usual stuff.  Then, the baptism.

I had been “chosen” to be baptized first.  Kathy (RCIA director) said it was because I had a way of putting everyone else at ease.  Honestly, I think it’s because she knows that 90% of the time I end up making a fool of myself, and at least she’d get a few laughs out of the peanut gallery.  But, whatever…po-tay-to / po-tah-to.  It was my turn, so I got into the baptismal font, kneeled, and Father Clem poured water of me three times, baptizing me in “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  And then…it was done.  I was helped out, given a towel, a white robe garment to wear over my clothes for the rest of the vigil, and then whisked away to “Conference Room #1” to get changed.  The entire process took, maybe, 3 minutes.  And while it seemed fast, it also seemed to slow down a bit, and was very profound for me.  It was truly a culmination of the process I had been undertaking for the past seven months.  Plus, again…the water was warm and the church was cold.  I couldn’t complain.

After that, things seemed to speed past.  Everyone was baptized, then those children not being confirmed (because they were too young) were anointed with oils, then we were all brought back into the church for more prayers, more readings, and Confirmation.  Because I was an adult and had decided to go through this process, I was baptized, confirmed, and given first Eucharist all in one church service.  After the baptism, we were then taken through confirmation.  At this point, we were anointed with oils on our forehead and were sent back to our seats (the oils smelled lovely, truly…but good lord were they overpowering!).  After about an hour of more prayers, more readings, and another homily, it was time for Eucharist (nearing the end!).  By this point, it was probably 11:15pm and J and I were exhausted!  So, I received my first Communion in the Catholic Church.  Then, a few more prayers, another song or two, and we were done!  At midnight.  Oy!

So, overall…it’s been an incredibly long past few days.  Well worth it in every way, but long.  J stuck with it though and stayed for the entire Easter Vigil (I was proud of him…he had no idea what was going on), and I told him his Catholic duty now extended to Christmas services only.  I figured I’d let him off the hook for Easter after that one.  I’m incredibly glad I did it, and I’m so eager to see where my faith journey will lead me.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, well done!  I know it was a long one!

Much love,
K.

My very first rosary.

Most days of life, I consider myself to be very lucky.  I mean…I have down days, I think we all do, but overall I feel very blessed in life.  I have a good job, a fantastic husband, and wonderful friends.  This past week, however, has been absolutely HORRID at work.  It’s been incredibly stressful, and that’s been bleeding over to most parts of my life.  And (maybe I’m waxing poetic here) I think God knew that and really stepped in for a “pick me up.”

My best friend in the Netherlands, who has been a huge guide during my conversion to Catholicism, is my shoulder for a lot of tchaplethings.  Lately, she’s been my sounding board for work stress and other things going on in life.  And, as a “bestie” she’s well aware of my feelings of being a bit defeated this week.  Yesterday, at work, she sent me a message saying “the package has been delivered!” and I had no idea what she was talking about.  She let me know that she had sent me something, and that it had been delivered, and I was to check my mail when I got home.  And after that, I went back to my work, and got through the day, then went to Girl Scouts.  When I got home, I remembered her message to me, and ran out to check the mail (definitely was very excited by this point).  I knew it would be amazing, but had no clue what she had sent me.

I grabbed my package and ran back inside, ripping it open as I went (I am such a child at times, I’ll admit it).  rosaryInside the package were two boxes…plain brown paper boxes with some blue string tied around it.  Confused, I untied the string and opened it up.  And honestly, as soon as I saw what she had sent me, I nearly cried.  Nestled inside the two boxes were two rosaries!  One was a full rosary and the second was a chaplet with my patron saint, St. Cecilia, on it.  It was the perfect gift for me at this moment in my life!  Work had been crap, I was feeling overwhelmed and completely ineffective, and here was this beautiful gift to commemorate my baptism this coming Saturday.  It was though God, through T, was reminding me that there were more important things in life aside from work.  Family, faith, friends, spouse, etc. …whatever each person’s personal belief system is, there’s more to life than working yourself to death.  It was a perfect reminder at such an opportune time, and I am truly blessed to have such amazing friends!

Much love,
K.

 

 

19 days…

It’s hard to believe that time has flown by so quickly.  In nineteen short days, I will a) be baptized, b) undergo confirmation, and c) receive the Eucharist with the Roman Catholic Church.  This will all happen at the Easter Vigil, which occurs Saturday evening at sundown, prior to Easter Sunday.  From what I’ve been told, it’s going to be a very long evening…the vigil normally starts at sundown, and then lasts around 4-5 hours!

I started RCIA classes in September last year.  I had several Catholic friends, had gone to a few Catholic churches, and really just wanted to see what it was all about.  The people at our parish were so welcoming, so friendly, and I honestly felt right at home.  I felt like a part that had been missing in me had been found.  I won’t go into what a “spiritual” experience it was, because it really didn’t feel like that to me.  I met C (who would later become my sponsor), and he grew on me.  K (the RCIA leader) was this Energizer bunny of Catholic knowledge and humor.  Father D and Father C were helpful, funny, and like the big brother/father who helped you when you needed it, or would give you a swift kick in the rear (if that was needed too).  The parishioners I’ve met so far are really nice, genuinely helpful and wanting to give of their time, and throughout the process, I sort of got attached!  Now, in no way am I saying everyone is perfect…they’re far from it.  But, the people I encounter and seek out are genuine and truly lovely people.  So…after several weeks of meeting people, tons of reading and questions, and lots of internal reflection, I decided to make the commitment and become Catholic.

The Easter Vigil is actually four days of events, starting with Holy Thursday.  There are ceremonies and rituals leading up dusk on Saturday evening, when the Priest lights a fire and then a single candle is lit from that fire.  The church is completely dark, and only the catechumens (those unbaptized at this point, but going to be baptized that evening) bring candles lit from the fire into the darkened church.  They then light the candles of people in the pews, who continue lighting candles of those near them.  Eventually, the church is lit by candle light, and the priest does a series of readings.  Then, the baptism.  I am currently unbaptized, so I will undergo baptism in the Catholic church.  This happens as one of the first things…we’re dressed in dark gowns, baptized, and then taken away to get dried off and ready for the rest of the ceremony.  When we come back in, we’ll have white gowns, representing our cleansed soul.  After the baptisms, then confirmation takes place, and finally the Liturgy of the Eucharist (or Communion) with the rest of the parish.

I am a bag of mixed feelings.  I am so excited for this moment.  I’ve been working hard, doing a LOT of soul-searching and education, and I feel ready for the next step.  On the other hand, I hate being the center of attention, and I’ll be the first person baptized that evening (in front of the parish).  It’s creating a small amount of anxiety for me, but I understand that, at times, we must all do things that are difficult for us, in order to profess our faith to the world.  So…I’ll suck it up.  But I’ll be honest, I probably won’t eat, because the last thing I want to do is vomit in the baptismal font…how would that be for a “defining moment”?!

I don’t really post a whole lot about what many call our “Faith Journey” on my blog.  I look at my faith as a private thing…if people have questions, I’m happy to talk about it, but it isn’t something I bring up very often with strangers.  I try to lead by example and be a good person, and hopefully through that I can be a light to others to lead a good life as well.  I hope people see me as a joyful person, and find inspiration in that.  That’s really my goal, what I want to achieve as time progresses and I delve deeper into my faith.

So…in 19 short days, my life will undergo a drastic transformation (not that it hasn’t already started).  My journey has really only begun, but I’m excited and looking forward with anticipation.  I’m excited, overwhelmed (in a good way), and, most of all, ready.  If any of you have any questions, or want to hear more about why I’ve decided to go down this path, feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer!

Much love,
K.