discipline

alleluia

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Happy Easter! Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent. After 40 days, the discipline and contemplation is over. The wait is over…and I finally devoured some cheese.

Often, during the Lenten season, we give up something — or refrain from doing something, such as consuming meat — but whatever it is, it is supposed to act as a reminder of the hardship Christ endured because of their faith.

At the beginning of the Lenten season, I wrote a blog about Lent and what the season means. You can either read it here, or see the brief synopsis:

 As you can see, Lent is about sacrifice and discipline.  Look at any successful person, the ones who have excelled in their fields, do so because of passion, endurance, and discipline. While each may exhibit unique styles and individual elements, their success ultimately runs parallel to their dedication to the defining disciplines of their field. Discipline, not individual freedom of choice, brings out the most success.

Today is about praise and discipline. As a Wisconsinite, it was a challenge to give up cheese for the 40 days of Lent. Now that the season has ended, I celebrated with cheese  I thank my lucky stars for discipline.

Make today a celebration and however you celebrate, make sure you smile.

Lent

the season is upon us

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

The Lenten season is upon us and thankfully, we’re given the freedom to choose what to give up for Lent each year. Although it would be interesting to see what others would have us give up, but that would be an entirely new blog post. Some people choose to give up a certain TV show or a particularly favorite dessert. For others, Twitter or that always faithful Diet Coke. During Lent, we are encouraged to sacrifice.

A little background for those of you who are unfamiliar with Lent. Starting Ash Wednesday (March 5th) to Easter Sunday – people will soon be discerning how this years 40 day penitential season will be impacting their lives. The season of Lent developed very early in Christian history as a period of preparatory fasting. People would refrain from certain meals and the eating of meat and cheese. They would often stick to a diet of raw fruits and vegetables throughout the 40-day season.

As you can see, Lent is about sacrifice and discipline.  Look at any successful person, the ones who have excelled in their fields, do so because of passion, endurance, and discipline. While each may exhibit unique styles and individual elements, their success ultimately runs parallel to their dedication to the defining disciplines of their field. Discipline, not individual freedom of choice, brings out the most success.

After telling my mom what I’m giving up this year, the snooze button and cheese (sorry about it, Wisconsin!), she informed me that cheese runs in our Wisconsin veins, but that is EXACTLY why I am giving it up. Lent is suppose to be about challenge, sacrifice, and discipline.  Like me, Ann Maire is going to participate in Lent. I asked her what she was giving up, and this is how she responded,

I’m not giving anything up…I’m going to try to find good in everyone I come across each day. It may not seem like a penance but each day we encounter difficult people and people we just plain don’t like so I’m going to try to see these people in a certain light and pass a smile on to them.

I admire her courage and determination to do this. This would be a huge challenge for me. If you are still looking for things to give up or take on this Lenten season, here are a few suggestions

-don’t sleep with pillows
-hot sauce
-alcohol
-meat
-no shoes
-don’t listen to music in the car, rather reflect on the beauty around us
-find the good in people, compliment one person every day
-don’t say no
-have a positive attitude

Sure, you have a few days left to prepare for the 40 days of Lent that are ahead of us, but remember you will encounter discipline along the way.

Pope Francis

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Today, Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year. Time states that the Catholic Church’s new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short period of time. Pope Francis took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing.  Pope Francis is the first non-European pope in 1,200 years is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century.

As a little excerpt from the TIME article entitled: Pop Francis, The People’s Pope: But what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all. People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), “the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.” In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world—above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.

Check out TIME’s article: Pope Francis, The People’s Pope

st. nick’s day

discovering the truths about St. Nicholas

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

After moving out to the East Coast, I learned that there are many traditions that Midwesterners do that go unnoticed around the US, which I think is silly and kind of a culture shock. A big tradition that goes unnoticed is St. Nicholas and St. Nick’s Day. Allow me to enlighten you on my dear friend, St. Nick.

His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, which falls early in the Advent season. In some places, he arrives in the middle of November and then moves about the countryside. When he is moving around, he visits schools and homes to find out if children have been good. In other places, he comes during the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with children’s wish lists. Small treats are left in shoes or stockings so the children will know he has come.

Where St. Nicholas is prominent, his day, not Christmas, is the primary gift giving day. Parties may be held on the eve, December 5th, and shoes or stockings are left out for St. Nicholas to fill during the night. Children will find treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special Nicholas candies and cookies. St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded for oneself.

For things to get even weirder for me– I found this out: In Milwaukee children don’t write letters to Santa; they hang stockings on St. Nicholas Eve with a wish list for Santa. St. Nick comes to each house, collecting the wish lists and filling stockings with candy and toys for good children and coal for naughty ones. The coal is a warning to get one’s act together in the next three weeks before Christmas. The schools alert new families so no one will be left out. Personally, when growing up, we put shoes and stockings out for St. Nick’s Day and wrote letters to Santa for Christmas.

Did you know: St. Nicholas may also be the inspiration for a special Advent project—one which shows his concern for justice and relief of suffering.

holiday traditions

Everyone has different holiday traditions and I am always interested in hearing about them. This year I will get to experience new holiday traditions. This holiday season marks a new chapter in my life. From here on out I will be celebrating two ways: once with my family and another with Matts. As I know my family’s traditions, I am excited to learn about the new ones I will encounter with Matt and his family. Below Matt tells us about his family’s traditions. Is it Christmas yet?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Christmas, edt

guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him

With the holidays quickly approaching, Kendal Ann wanted me to share some of the holiday traditions that my family and I partake in each Christmas. Christmas has always been a big festivity for my family. Each year, we put the tree up, make cookies, go to my Grandpa’s on Christmas Eve, go to midnight mass and then open presents. I get excited for Christmas each year and I’m even more excited for it this year because it’ll be Kendal Ann and my first Christmas together. So many memories will be made! I cannot wait. Here’s a rundown of the main Christmas traditions that I have with my family and ones that Kendal Ann will be a part of this Christmas season as well!

The first weekend in December

On the first weekend in December, my Mom, Dad and I put up our Christmas tree. The type of tree we use varies – a few years ago we used an artificial tree while last year we used a real tree. We have boxes on boxes on boxes of ornaments that we put up each Christmas. Each of these ornaments has a meaning and it’s hard to not get a little misty-eyed while remembering the memories that each ornament possesses. We use colored lights instead of white lights and we sometimes put gold garland around the tree as well (I’m not the biggest fan of this to be honest). But besides spending time with my family, my favorite thing that we do when we put up the tree is listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. On a boom box mind you.

The weekend before Christmas

During the weekend before Christmas, my parents and I always make Christmas cookie cutouts. We roll and knead the dough, bake the dough and then DECORATE DECORATE DECORATE! We have the same old cookie cutouts that we use each year and we use the same sprinkles, but the designs are always different. I have a tendency to put too many sprinkles on my cookies, but I’m okay with that. It’s always great fun and this tradition goes back to when I was just a wee little tike. Can you guess what is playing in the background as we do these cookies? The Charlie Brown Christmas CD obviously.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, my family has a whole conglomerate of traditions that we take part in. In the early afternoon, we go over to my Grandpa’s house with most of the Shalbrack clan (except for my relatives who live super far away) and we all get together and have dinner. The same thing usually happens each year in terms of eating. My cousin eats all sorts of hors d’oeuvres and then she can’t eat the actual dinner. After we eat the meal, the cousins and I go upstairs and claim out spots in the living room. My cousins and I actually sit in the same spots year after year. It’s great. While we are sitting by all the presents and snooping, the parents are downstairs doing the dishes and cleaning up. After about 30 minutes, my uncle comes upstairs and turns on, you guessed it, the Charlie Brown Christmas CD for us to enjoy until everyone decides to come upstairs. Once everyone is upstairs, we pass out gifts, open them and shoot wrapping paper balls into the garbage bag. After we finish at Grandpa’s, my parents and I head back home to prep for the midnight (10:30 p.m.) mass at church. My Mom is a part of the choir, so she has to get there extra early, so my Dad and I always go later and sit in the choir loft with her. Once mass finishes, we scurry home because Santa has already dropped presents off (my house is obviously one of the first ones he hits). We open presents, listen to more of the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and then we go to bed.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, my family and I have breakfast together and just relax for most of the day. We have a dinner with my Grandma early in the afternoon and that’s about it. Christmas Day for us is all about relaxation and enjoying spending time with one another. It’s great and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Well there you go! You know have a firsthand look into what my family does during Christmas. I cannot wait for Kendal Ann to be a part of these festivities this year! What do you do for the holidays? What things are different and which things are similar to the ones that I have listed?

woah

a few words of wisdom

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Do you remember those nonsense chain emails that your friends and parents use to send you? More often than not when my mom would partake in them, she didn’t expect me to pass them along. She was sending me them for the message. I kept one of the emails in particular. I went back to read it, and something is compelling me to share it today. Enjoy.

Let me note by saying this is a little prayer. If you aren’t religious or a person of faith, that’s not the point. The reason I wanted to share this was the first sentence. Please, focus on the first sentence. It is beyond true, and I think this is the sign that you are searching for.

“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never  did” When God takes something from your grasp. He’s not punishing you,  but merely opening your hands to receive something better. Concentrate on  this sentence. “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of  God will not protect you.” Something good will happen to you today,  something that you have been waiting to hear. Just 27  Words, ‘God our Father, walk through my house and take away all my worries  and illnesses and please watch over and heal my family in your name, Amen.’  This prayer is so powerful.

As a Catholic, I do believe that prayer is a powerful thing and I also believe in chasing your dreams. If there is something you want, go after it. The only chances you miss are the opportunities you don’t take. Have confidence in yourself.

 

that perfect fit

church

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

For those of you who know me, know I am rather strong in my faith and firm in my convictions. For those of you who don’t it’s something you now know, and something you will come to admire about me.  After officially moving to DC (for good) I have been testing out different Parishes. It’s really hard. Trying something should be fun and an enjoyable experience, but to me this is stressful and the opposite of fun.

Cat’s out of the bag, I’m Catholic. I like going to mass. I enjoy the camaraderie that mass and the church brings you. I went to Catholic school until I was in the 6th grade. IN 6th grade I began public schooling and I transitioned into going to CCD (Continuing Catholic Development) classes until Confirmation (in the 11th grade). It was really hard to make this transition, until I realized that now as a public school kid I don’t go to mass two times a week, and all of my Wednesday nights will be booked. It was an easy change to get use to, but looking for a church on your own is not.

Looking for a church is really hard. I have been to so many churches in my day that I want all of the aspects that I like to be bundled up together, and put in one. I understand that is a really far-fetched idea, and probably will never happen. I understand that everything won’t always turn out how we want it to.  I’ve realized I am asking too much, but now after making a list my expectations are not too high. I don’t want to feel like a tourist and not welcome when I go to mass to celebrate. I want to feel at home and at ease.

I made a list of things that are important to me when finding a church, and hopefully I will find the perfect fit soon. I have three to-go and I have a great feeling about this.

Things that matter to me:

1. the size of the church
2. the type of worship/mass and the service structure (I know this seems like a strange one because Catholics are Catholic— well sort of, but everyone chooses to worship differently. I was raised in a very traditional setting and most churches are going the modern route.)
3. Outreach to parishioners

Sure, it’s a hard quest especially when you are in it “alone”. But along the way I have learned, there is no perfect church. I usually need to visit a church a few times before making a solid decision. And above all, I cant give up. I know I have to keep searching until I find the right fit.  Sidebar, if there are any Catholics in the DC area reading this, I would love to hear where you attend mass.