A Bit of Religion (God, Church, Christmas)

READ FIRST: These are all of MY thoughts, views and opinions. Please do not leave negative comments regarding my post because it is MY views and opinion, and I’m already taking a leap to get something like this into words. I know it’s a touchy subject, but again, it’s just MY thoughts. Thanks!

There is so much going on in the world. Egypt crumbling, Syria with God-only-knows (chemical stuff way too advanced for me), Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), and let’s not forget the daily shootings in the STL. But, aside from all of that, Christmas is less than four months away! Yay!

If you don’t know me, let me fill you in: I LOVE Christmas. Love, love, love, love it! The songs, the movies, the decorations, and the TRUE meaning… Christ.

I am not an overly religious person. I’d like to be. I am not Catholic, but I thought long and hard at one point about giving up everything to become a nun. No joke. However, I don’t go to church, I don’t watch religious shows/channels, I don’t even talk about religion. Why? It makes me uncomfortable.

I want to explain that last sentence. You see, growing up, Church wasn’t a big deal. My Mom was Lutheran but hadn’t gone to church since childhood (I think). My Dad drank the weekends away (when I was super little) and one day saw the devil and decided that he would change his ways and he started toting me off to a Baptist church. I liked it; Sunday school, adult services, the whole nine yards. My Mom didn't go, but she seemed okay with that. My Dad even read the family Bible to me at home. But, for some reason we quit going. I don’t know why.

In middle school I befriended a girl names Cayla. Her Dad was a pastor at a non-denominational church. I started going faithfully; Wednesday night, Saturday night (sometimes), and Sunday morning and night. I graduated from the STARS program there. I went to church camp. I loved it, but I still never felt comfortable. Well, three years later, I met a boy and it didn’t seem like he was big on it all, so I quit going there too.

I met Gene my senior year of high school and we became serious and eventually got married. His family is Catholic and there was a lot of negativity about him marrying a non-Catholic girl. Shocked the heck out of me! We talked about finding a church of our own to go to, but we could never decide what type and Gene never seemed too interested so I dropped the subject. Then when I got pregnant, we talked about it again. I looked online for churches in our area, but it’s too hard to decide online. Forgive me if I explain this wrong, but here is what I’m looking for: an equally mixed diversity of race and gender, minimal singing, 1 hour or less sermons with a possibility of attending a more lengthy one once Emma is a bit older, and a family-type environment. Almost impossible, right?

Back to the issue. I don’t feel comfortable talking religion or worshiping God with anyone I know. Omg, sounds shady, right? Here’s my thing…Religion is so diverse. People take it to heart in different ways. People view what is “okay” to be different things. People worship in different ways. People sometimes shun others if they don’t meet their religious standards. People even mix religion and politics! Oy. Two things that should never be mixed because there are billions of people in the world and yes, there are Christians, and Catholics, and Jesuits (are they the same as Catholics?), and Methodists, and even atheists in both democratic and republican parties (forgive me if I didn’t mention your religion or political preference, they were just examples).

Anyway, I can’t talk about my faith because it pushes my buttons when people say that I’m wrong about MY faith. MY beliefs. MY views. When did people become so one-sided? When did who I vote for become stomping grounds for deciding my level of faith? When did it become okay for people to say “Oh, you’re Democrat? You must be an Athiest.”? I feel like gay men and women deserve to be treated like anyone else at church; how many others will say the same? I don’t want someone to tell me that I’m wrong. I’m not wrong. It is how I feel; what I believe. God judges. Not you. Not me. He loves us all.

Whoa. That got away from me.

Moving forward, I don’t feel comfortable praying or worshiping around my husband. Lol. It sounds funny to admit that. The church I went to on my own, without my parents, was a Christian church. They spoke in tongues, and they raised their hands and jumped around to sing. Hey, if that’s your way to praise, that’s great! But, I once heard my husband poke fun at the thought of that. He is judgmental in his own innocent way (he doesn’t realize it at all). But, that comment is burned into my brain, so I will never feel comfortable going back to those roots with him. I also noticed that he doesn’t like to talk about religion at all (I even asked him once if he still had faith because I wasn’t sure). So, when I pray, I pray silently. When I’m alone, I pray aloud, but when I’m home, it’s all in my head. I assume that God and Jesus can hear my thoughts… I hope I’m right otherwise they will be wondering why I prayed so little. In case you were wondering just now, I pray only about once or twice a day, but I talk to Jesus A LOT. For those of you that know me, would you have guessed that?

About loving Christmas… I can’t get enough of it! I constantly count down the months, weeks, days until Black Friday because that’s when it begins! No, it’s not about the gift… it’s about the whole picture. God. Jesus. Mary and Joseph. I love the religious aspect of it all. I’m not sure that Gene even realizes that fact. I think I keep a lot of it to myself because my Dad takes it too far. I guess I don’t want Gene thinking that I’m exactly the same (but I’m close). Why does my Dad take it too far? Three reasons:

One. Some of you already know this, but since I was in Kindergarten or so, I knew there was no Santa. Why? Because my Dad felt like he was lying to me. I’m pretty sure I told a bunch of kids and he got called to the school. I get it, I totally get it. Then, he decided later on down the road, that it’s sacrilegious to have anything with Santa on it in the house. I get that too, in a way. “Rearrange the letters in Santa and it spells Satan.” Well, for a long time, I forced Gene to abide by the same rules. No Santa, at all. It makes sense in a way, right? Well, now that Emma is here I’m faced with a dilemma. How will she make it through her childhood without telling all the other kids that Santa isn’t real? How will she have the same joys of sitting on Santa’s lap like the rest of her friends? I have some thoughts in my mind about how to handle the explanation of the true meaning of Christmas AND allow Santa, but in order to do so I’ll have to have the support of my parents because she spends the majority of her time with them.  That’ll be hard.

Two. My Dad has my Mom make or buy a cake (that she shouldn’t eat because of her gluten intolerance) so that we can light a candle and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Then after the song we must all eat a piece so that it will bless us for the next year. While I love the touching thought, and loved it even more at a younger age, I now feel that he takes it a bit too far. Lecturing us as to why we should partake and the repercussions if we do not. Again, I love the thought and gesture behind it, but to me it’s pointless. Maybe pointless isn’t the right word. Silly fits better because nothing for Jesus is pointless. But, it’s silly to me. It’s not really His birthday (did you know that?). He wants us to love Him and sing His praises, not sing Happy Birthday to Him. A cake, even if it is for Jesus, is not a blessing in my eyes. What is a blessing is having the opportunity to teach Emma about Him and let her grow to love Him in her own way. I’m trying to pick my battles though. But, the whole family-singing-thing so early in the morning is not in my comfort zone. Whatever. It makes my Dad happy, so I will continue to go along with the uncomfortable Christmas morning ritual.

Three. We all know the reason for the season right? “Jesus is the reason for the season!” Well, my Dad gives us a guilt trip for buying presents. I am almost 30 years old and I get told about ten times each year not to buy any gifts because it takes away from the true meaning. No. It doesn’t. Not for me. We are celebrating the season. We are having a celebration circled completely around the reason (Jesus). He wants us to give to one another. To love one another. Isn’t that what Christmas does? It almost forces us to love each other; to say Merry Christmas and God Bless. All of the hatred and anger in the world seems to calm a bit with Christmas. It’s magical. And it’s only magical because it is all for Him (whether you see that or not).

Now that I’ve told you all of that, please don’t think of my Dad or my family differently. Like I said at the beginning of the post, everyone views religion in a different light. He loves his Lord and Savior, he just does it in a different way than I do. The hardest part for him I think, is letting me go to worship and and follow in my own way and with my family. I was just simply trying to explain how and why I feel uncomfortable with religion in public and family settings.

With all of that being said, I now still face the battle of finding a suitable church for all of our needs. I want to find a church family to be a part of. I want Emma to go to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and eventually maybe even Church Camp. I want her to ask questions about Jesus and why we are here. About Noah and the dove. About the woman who turned into a pile of salt. And I want to share my favorite scriptures with her. The Bible can answer so many questions, and I’d love to be able to explain it all to her. But, I want to learn more myself. I feel like I’ve forgotten so much.

I just struggle with the thought of Gene and I going to church together. If a church has lots of music, will I have the nerve to raise my hands? Will he? Will he care that I can’t carry a tune? He’s my husband, so I shouldn’t care, but I do. I want the entire experience to me comfortable for both me and him. Is that too much to ask?

I could talk for days about this topic. But for now, I’ll stop here. Please send good thoughts and prayers our way for finding a Church that suits us, and I’ll continue to do the same. J

Do you have any suggestions for us?


Five on Friday (First Ever!)

It has been so long since I’ve blogged. Too long. I’ve tried a couple times to put everything into words, but it never worked. And honestly, I don’t think it’ll work well this time either. So, maybe I’d better so something my friend Liz does, and do Five on Friday. :-) This is my first one, so bear with me. I’m assuming it’s just five random thoughts… am I right?

1.       1.  Gene and I are having our August date night tomorrow night. We get one date night a month, which is basically Emma staying at my parents’ house so Gene and I can go out and do whatever we want/need to do. One time we went shopping (for Emma), one time we went to dinner and a movie, one time was the Casino, and so on. You get the picture. This month I have no idea what we are doing, but there are two movies that I want to see and maybe we will see them both! Wishful thinking. ;-)

2.       2.  I have High-Risk HPV. No… not the kind from doing the deed, haha. The kind from stress. There are more than 100 different types of HPV (and the shot only protects you from so many, if you were wondering that). Basically, the more stress I have/experience, the more my cells change in a negative way. If I’m reading right, that is why it’s high risk – because stress can bring it on at any time. Well, as you’ve probably already put together, it keeps getting worse and if left untreated it becomes invasive cervical cancer. I’ve surpassed CIN I, and I’m now in CIN II. Because it advanced, I now have to have surgery (called LEEP) to have 7mm or more cut from my cervix. Okay, sorry I didn’t give a TMI warning. I go in next Friday to have it done.
*I was going to put a picture here... but they were way too graphic! 

3.         3.  Since we already talked about item #2, I should roll right in with item #3 being STRESS. My Top 3 stress factors are, in order, Work, Emma, Gene.
a.       Work – No amount of vacation time could save me. By the time I leave I am in such a bad mood that it affects me at home. I can’t get into detail so publicly, but I’m pretty sure the job will kill me if I don’t do something about it.
b.      Emma – Any child causes stress. The only thing that stresses me out anymore though (after a year of Mommy duty) is her temper tantrums. We have a plan in place but it’s hard when I’m the only one sticking to it.
c.       Gene – Which brings me to the hubs. He’s the one who doesn’t stick to it. Lol. That is why he stresses me out. Well, that and his fantasy baseball/football/hockey/soccer/bad mitten/synchronized swimming/water polo crap. ;-)

4.    4.  Since the day we brought Emma home, I have had a good grip on my cleaning schedule. It worked for so long, and now for some reason, since Emma’s birthday party has come and gone, so has my schedule. It’s not that I can’t keep up really; it’s that I can’t stay awake long enough to finish! I’m telling you, after three nights of letting one or two things slide, I’m in a twisted downward spiral of clutter. How have the dirty clothes piled up again? How is there no table showing on the dining room table? I swear I had a can of fruit somewhere in the pantry! I need a day, or even just a half-day, to catch up and start over! *I cannot bring myself to pay for someone to clean my house when it’s small enough to clean it myself… if I can stay awake long enough anyway. Haha!

5.    5.  I wouldn’t be a good Mom if I didn’t mention one Emma item here. I have been constantly floored at Emma’s words! For those of you who don’t know, an official WORD is any word that a child says the same way over and over again, every time (meaning if they say ba-ba for bottle every time, it counts as a word even though it’s not a “real” word). Emma says over 30 now! The PAT screener Melanie wrote them all down, but let me see if I can remember some: Ball, milk, bottle, dog, duck, baby, doll, Spongebob, Bubble Guppies, hot dog, Mickey, etc. Also, she has two combinations: What’s that, and who’s that. The “PAT lady” was floored at the fact that Emma says “Who’s that?” when someone knocks on the front door. She thought for sure she could differentiate between what and who. Lol. She just knows to say “who” for the front door. Any other time, you will be “what” to her. Lol. Either way, combinations are big for 18mos-2years so I’m a proud Momma. :-) OH! We also have a 100 words book that when asked, she will point to a specific item or picture. To me, that’s big news!

So there you go! My very first ever, Five on Friday post! I hope you enjoyed it. I have no idea if I did it right. Haha.

Until next time!



No-Bake Banana Split Cheesecake

No-Bake Banana Split Cheesecake (13”x9”) 
*My co-workers LOVED this!

2 slips of cinnamon graham crackers 
1 and 3/8 stick of butter or margarine - melted 
2 packages/cubes of cream cheese – room temperature 
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (new wt 14oz) 
1 tbs . vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste 
1 can pineapple rings 
3 ripe bananas 
12 strawberries 
1 tub whipped cream topping - thawed 
Chocolate Syrup (to taste) 

Using a Ziploc bag, crush both packages of graham cracker. Once the crackers are into crumbs, add all of the melted butter and stir until all crumbs look damp (should not be soaked).

Dump graham cracker crumb mixture into 13”x9” pan and using your fingers press firmly onto the bottom of the pan to create the crust. If you’d like, you can push some of the crust onto the sides of the pan up to a 1/2”. Place in the refrigerator to chill for no less than 10 minutes.

In a large bowl for mixing, combine the cream cheese, condensed milk and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Mix until completely smooth. Pour about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture into the pan and spread evenly over the crust.

Drain the juice from the can of pineapple rings, and with clean paper towels pat dry each ring (too much juice will make the cheesecake fall apart after cut). Place each ring in the pan, into one layer, and push down into cream cheese mixture (after each ring is in the pan, almost the entire bottom should be covered).

Pour the rest of the cream cheese mixture into the pan and spread evenly over the pineapple rings (the rings should not be showing since you pushed them down).

Slice up the bananas after peeling and strawberries after washing them, and layer them each fruit at a time. For an example, after this step your layers (starting from the bottom) should be: crust, filling, pineapple, filling, bananas, strawberries.

Spread evenly the whipped cream topping over the top of the fruit and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.