PSA: Shy Introverts at Mass

One might think Mass is an ideal location for shy introverts. And, for the most part, it absolutely is. I mean, it’s an event where no one is expected to talk  except for the priest, deacon and a few others. Other events perfect for shy introverts include going to the movies, visiting libraries and hanging out at cemeteries.

But at Mass, there’s one part, albeit very short, that is the exact opposite of perfect for shy introverts. In fact, it ranks right up there with attending parties with people you barely know, running into an acquaintance at the grocery store and public speaking.

The Sign of Peace.

Yes. This beautiful part of the liturgy, where we extend peace to our brothers and sisters in Christ before partaking of the Eucharist, is actually quite the minefield for those of us that fall on the more awkward part of the social spectrum.

Below is a short PSA that shows what shy introverts go through at every Mass. EVERY MASS. Yes, you heard that right. This happens every single time. Sure, the shock wears off after the first few Masses. After that it’s just an expected socially awkward occasion where our hearts get the effect of cardio without the exercise. And there’s sweating without the exercise too. Try not to be jealous of the glamour.

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During my research, I came across this hilarious article about the Sign of Peace and the socially awkward by none other than Jennifer Fulwiler. Or as my husband and I refer to her in our household, JFul. It’s the hip hop name we’ve given her. 

This job isn't always easy

Why We Said No to IVF–Before We Were Catholic

“Have you guys every considered IVF?”

Over the last ten years, we’ve been asked this question a number of times. And, since I have a heart for resolving others’ curiosity, I figured I could answer it in a public way.

The short answer: No.

The truth is, we never really got to a point to be able to consider IVF before discovering it was immoral.

Several years ago, I somehow came to be in possession of an issue of the magazine Christianity Today. I don’t know if we got it in the mail as a teaser or if someone gave it to me, but I opened it up and came across an article about IVF. It kind of blew my mind.

But let me take a few steps back.

Even before this article, I was always uncomfortable with the idea of IVF. I wanted to conceive a child with my husband, not with a lab technician. IVF seemed to be stepping outside the normal means to conceive a child as a desperate attempt to get something I wasn’t entitled to having. For me, having our own child by way of artificial reproductive technology (ART) just never outweighed conceiving a child within the unitive act of marriage.

Now–back to the magazine article.

The article laid out the basic process for IVF and I found it shocking. I no longer have the article, but what was detailed went something like this: The woman is given drugs so that several of her eggs mature at the same time. Eggs. Plural. The process is so expensive, that more than one egg has to be fertilized to increase the chances of conception. The eggs are taken from the woman and semen is collected from the man. The eggs and sperm are ultimately joined in a petri dish (in vitro is latin for “in glass”). Conception takes place and the embryos are allowed to develop for several days. And then begins the process of determining which fertilized embryos should be implanted into the woman’s uterus. The “strongest” embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus while the others are destroyed or frozen. The woman is observed to see if the embryos implant. It may be that more than one do. In that case, she and the doctor may decide to to use “selective reduction”. At some point during the early part of the pregnancy, after the embryos become fetuses, the doctor will determine which are the less desirable ones. These are terminated by way of a needle filled with potassium chloride inserted into the fetal heart.

So. For someone that knew the science behind the start of human life, this article was, like I said, mind-blowing. At the time, I had no idea that IVF routinely involved the termination of fertilized eggs. Not that freezing human life seemed like a better idea.

“Why did you bring up being Catholic?”

Right. Why did I make a point to say we ruled out IVF before becoming Catholic? Too many times, people simply think it’s because we’re Catholic that we haven’t used IVF or any other ART. And when I say that, I mean people imply, unintentionally, that we somehow didn’t use our own brains when making this decision. Rather, it’s like they think we would jump at the idea of using IVF if only that curmudgeon of a Catholic Church would just let us.

And, hey, there might be people that feel that way. Which is perfectly reasonable. With something as complicated and deeply profound as the unitive act of marriage, coupled with the intense sorrow of infertility, it can take a lifetime to even start to come close to complete understanding.

But that’s not us. We get it. We’ve done our homework. We know the Church is teaching what is right. We’re sad we’ve been unable to conceive. We’re not sad about not using IVF.

So, that’s it. We will not be using IVF, or any other form of ART, to conceive a child. Children are a gift and we know that we’re not entitled to this gift. We also know that infertility isn’t something actively willed by God. His permissive will may allow it, and we fully trust that He will take our sorrow and work it for good.

…provided we also suffer with [Christ] in order that we may also be glorified with him

-Romans 8:17

For Friends & Family: We would like to state that this post is not intended as a judgment on anyone who has used IVF. All human life has value and should be cherished, regardless of the means by which it entered the world. We actually are not aware that anyone we know has used any form of ART. 

Sources & Helpful Links

A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology

In Vitro Fertilization

Good Intentions: Why IVF is Wrong

IVF, Custody Rights & Family Law
(the state deciding who’s a parent…because that will end well)

The Problem of Evil and Suffering

How can The Church Deny the Right of Women to use IVF?

The Hardest Teaching of Them All

Pope Francis: Encouraging Others, Challenging Me

The papal visit to the United States is wrapping up today, and any moment I’ve not been watching coverage, I’ve found myself deep in thought.

Pope Francis has given several speeches this week, including a few homilies, and then speaking to Congress and the United Nations, as well as the Bishops more than once, and then speeches at Independence Hall, the Festival of Families and the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.


photo credit: reuters,

After hearing the Holy Father at all of these events, I’ve found myself encouraged but also challenged.

And isn’t that what a father is supposed to do?

Before the Pope’s arrival, I think many of us were looking forward to the Holy Father coming to our aid in a bold way. “Guess what guys? My dad’s here now and he’s gonna let you know what’s up.” Those of us that are faithful to the Church have found ourselves feeling ridiculed and bullied by our secular culture, led primarily by the media in all its forms. We stand with the Church and her teachings while the culture around us changes in the name of progressivism (progressing towards what I’m not sure). We’re often referred to as being stuck in the past or old-fashioned, or even worse.

Papa arrives, and I’m excited. The visual I have in my head is of myself standing, facing the opposition with my arms crossed, waiting for my Pope to let everybody have it. Instead, Pope Francis opens his arms to everyone and welcomes them.

Fine. I tell myself the Pope will let ’em have it tomorrow at Congress.

But again I find myself a little hurt, and let’s be honest, jealous. “Papa, why are you being so gentle and welcoming? These people turned away from you. They’ve ridiculed God’s Church, and even more, they ridicule me. Tell them they’re wrong!”

Yet again, I find myself in the story of the prodigal son. And, yet again, I’m playing the role of the older son, letting feelings of pride and self-importance run rampant.



But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20





The Challenge

After watching and listening to Pope Francis these few days, I’ve come away with a broader understanding of his mission. When he said “environment” and “climate change” I heard it through the filter of our American politics…how very American of me. But now I hear the Holy Father talking to the masses, calling them to step away from the culture of waste.

The culture of waste starts small. First you’re just tossing out silverware for a shiny new set, then later you find yourself not even grateful for the silverware, old or new. And then this throwaway mentality spreads. People think they have a right to toss out anything unwanted, even the elderly, the terminally ill or the unborn.

Pope Francis is reaching out to the masses, finding common ground, encouraging their desire to take care of our God-given natural resources so that future generations will not only take special care of the environment, but also welcome and care for other living things, like human beings.

And shouldn’t we take care of what God has given us? No parent would allow their child to keep their room in utter disarray, using clothing to mop up spills, all the while saying to their parents, “What’s the big deal? I’m going to grow out of these clothes in a month and you’ll get me new ones.” Rather, parents here on Earth and our Father in Heaven call on their children to show their trust with little things so that they can be trusted with greater things. If we can’t show honor and respect to something like a river given to us by God to provide us with water, how can we show honor and respect for human beings that seem to provide us with nothing except burden?

My challenge specifically? To step away from my pride and petty us vs them constructs. To make love grow.

This means standing for what’s right while simultaneously making people feel welcome. The beautiful Both/And concept the Church teaches.

But what does this look like in practice? Pope Francis warned against getting caught in incessant cycles of explaining of church teachings. I think I could do a little less sharing of articles, blog posts and the like, and do a little more of reaching out to those around me. Calling at least one person on the phone each week. Taking the time to actually comment on social media posts instead of just scrolling by or “liking” it. Finding common ground with those in my life who are opposed to me on various issues. Finding new ways to love my husband in ways he receives love best.

I once heard Fr. Longenecker speak at our parish, and he said something that stayed with me and I think it applies here. He advised to approach all things in life with saying Yes.  At first, this made no sense to me. But then I realized it was the difference between approaching things with a hard heart and a loving heart. The Pharisees led with No. Leading with Yes means truly hearing what is being presented to you, and then making thoughtful decisions instead of being reactionary.

There’s a lot more to be said; I could go on to further explain in detail what I really meant here or when I said this I didn’t mean that. But I think I’ll just let it lay, and end with today’s readings, which I thought were a ideal end to Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.

Today’s Readings

Numbers 11:25-29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
“Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, ”
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’aide, said,
“Moses, my lord, stop them.”
But Moses answered him,
“Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten,
your gold and silver have corroded,
and that corrosion will be a testimony against you;
it will devour your flesh like a fire.
You have stored up treasure for the last days.
Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers
who harvested your fields are crying aloud;
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure;
you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.
You have condemned;
you have murdered the righteous one;
he offers you no resistance.

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”


Paleo AIP and Me: The Sweets (Part 4)

Here’s Part 4 of my “Paleo AIP and Me” series. Part 1 is an explanation of the diet and why I’ve needed to make this big life change. Part 2 is a list of entree recipes and Part 3 is a list of side dishes. This is a list of desserts and other sweet meals. It’s suggested to avoid sweets, but sometimes to be successful you need something to get you by. We definitely consume too many sweets on a daily basis. That’s just where we’re at right now.

Any recipe in peach text means I’ve made it before, but am not currently due to where I’m at regarding reintroductions. 


Our Breakfast Smoothie 

FoodCodes AllWe eat this every day. And then sometimes at night too, as a dessert. I know variety is the best thing you can do for a diet, but this smoothie is really good and full of nutrition. Throw a small avocado, at least a quarter cup of coconut milk, a banana, one to two cups frozen fruit, spinach, kale and water into a blender. That’s it and you get two servings. You have to kind of adjust the amounts based on your blender. Right now we make this in two nutrient extractor cups instead of our larger blender. You want enough water so it can be easily blended.


Sweet Potato Smoothie

FoodCodes Paleo-NFAs I mentioned earlier, I’m not a huge fan of sweet potatoes. So I have to find ways to add other ingredients to them to help cut the taste. This smoothie is so good, and I love that I’m getting much needed carbs into my diet.



EggNOs Waffles

FoodCodes AllI love these things! Another tasty way to make sure I’m getting enough carbs, and they’re great to make in batches and take on a trip. You can have them the traditional way, with maple syrup and maybe some fruit, or I enjoy them with coconut butter and a no sugar added jam. Also good with a nut butter if you can tolerate it.

notes: maple syrup not recommended for AIP


Rustic Apple Rolls

FoodCodes AllI make these once a week. Seriously. They’re so good. And, again, it’s a great way to get carbs into the diet. At first glance, the recipe seems a bit complicated, but it’s really not. My trick for the “dough” is to lay out a piece of parchment paper the size of a cookie sheet, and place the dough on it. Lay another piece of parchment paper over the top, and then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, about the size of a cookie sheet. Throw the top piece of parchment paper away, spread the apple filling on the dough, then lift the left side of the bottom piece of parchment paper to help you roll the dough in on itself (like you’re making a cinnamon roll). Pick up the ends of the parchment paper and lift the roll onto the cookie sheet, and then place the cookie sheet in either the fridge or freezer (depending on how much time there is before needing to slice and put this in the oven). Chilling it, or nearly freezing it, makes slicing much easier; otherwise you’ll end up with smashed rolls.


White Sweet Potato Discs

FoodCodes AllSometimes you just need something sweet to end your night, and this hits the spot. I can’t take complete credit for this recipe. I actually made something like this almost a year ago, but forgot to save the link and then was unable to find it again. I could only remember parts of the recipe, so I used that as a starting point and came up with this.

Peel at least two white sweet potatoes and cut into eighth to quarter inch slices (adjust to preference: thin slices will be crispy). Throw into a bowl with enough coconut oil to coat all the slices and sprinkle with cinnamon. Lay out in a single layer onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350°and flip each slice after 15 minutes. Bake another 12-15 minutes. Divide up the slices onto plates, drizzle with coconut butter (also called manna, and I do more than a drizzle) and a small amount of honey.


Blackberry “Cobbler”

FoodCodes AllAwww…this was the first Paleo AIP dessert I ever made. It’s really simple, and satisfies that sweet tooth.



Sweet and Salty Fudge Bombs

FoodCodes Paleo-NFThese things are just stupid good. Another treat that anyone will like. I’ve brought these to gatherings to be served along with other snacks and appetizers. Although this qualifies as a Paleo dessert, you don’t want to serve this alongside non-Paleo desserts. The all-natural sweetness just can’t stand up to the artificial sweetness of the normal desserts you would find at a party.


Paleo Sex in a Pan

FoodCodes Paleo+AllThis is flat-out the most decadent Paleo dessert I’ve ever had. I made this for my husband’s birthday when he requested that we not go off the diet to celebrate. We had some the day I made it, and it was really rich and tasted just okay. I thought it was a dud. Then had some the next day. Wow. So good. Still super rich, but really, really good. Eat this one in small portions.


Vegan Cheesecake

FoodCodes Paleo-NFThis is a really good substitute for the real thing. The fruit you choose to use makes a difference. I feel like fresh fruit would be best, but each time I made it I only had access to frozen fruit, and strawberry was my favorite. Drizzle paleo chocolate syrup over the top and this is quite good.



Salted Caramel Ice Cream

FoodCodes AllAlthough this is quite the stretch for the phrase “ice cream”, this is still pretty good. Pair this with the apple rolls above, and it’s almost like you’re enjoying apple pie a la mode.



Chocolate Syrup

FoodCodes Paleo+AllThis is a simple chocolate syrup without all the bad stuff you find in a store-bought variety, and it’s really good. What else can you ask for?

Paleo AIP and Me: The Sides (Part 3)

Here’s Part 3 of my “Paleo AIP and Me” series. Part 1 was an explanation of the diet and why I’ve needed to make this big life change. Part 2 was a list of entree recipes. This is a list of side dishes and various accompaniments. It’s not a very long list–I’m more of a one dish kind of cook–but I’m sure to add to it as time goes on.

Any recipe in peach text means I’ve made it before, but am not currently due to where I’m at regarding reintroductions. 


Side Dishes

Lemon Zucchini

FoodCodes AllSides dishes aren’t something I put a lot of time into, but if you’re going to, this is a good one to have. It has a lot of flavor, and is a great summertime dish.

*notes: I’ve actually never made this on the grill, instead I just lay the strips on a cast iron pan so it’s more like I’m sautéing them I guess



FoodCodes AllGetting carbs into your diet can be difficult when you’re on Paleo AIP (and carbs are important, just not in the quantity and kind that the typical American consumes them). Plantains are an acceptable carb, and the addition of onions
and bacon are especially tasty here.


Basic Cauliflower Rice

FoodCodes AllThere are a lot of version of cauliflower rice, but I usually end up making this basic version and then pouring a soup or stew over it. You could even toss in some sautéed veggies and have a great little side. Start by ricing the cauliflower (rinse, cut into pieces, put into food processor until it’s rice-like) and then toss into a pan with hot bacon fat. Add some salt and cook for about 10-15 minutes.


Bacon-wrapped Asparagus, Avocado, Onion 

FoodCodes AllI think we can all agree that bacon-wrapped anything is wonderful. This recipe is one of my go-to’s when I bring a dish to a gathering: (1) everyone loves it, (2) I’m assured I’ll have something to eat, and (3) the avocado version assures me that I’ll have something filling (in case I can’t eat anything else). If you google these, you’ll often come up with some additional steps and ingredients, like pouring a brown sugar sauce over the top, but I’ve found those completely unnecessary. Just wrap in bacon, cook at 425 degrees, flip after 15 minutes, check in another 15 minutes, and then every 5-10 thereafter, and you’ve got something fantastic.

3-Ingredient Naan

FoodCodes AllThis is real easy to make, and the time needed depends on what kind of naan you want at the end of it. Crispy or soft. I follow the recipe, and then take quarter cups of the mix and pour into a hot pan that has hot bacon fat in it. This part is kind of like making pancakes. Cook until each side has a golden color on it and then place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake the naan in a 325° oven for about 15 minutes (less or more…depends on your preference).




FoodCodes AllI made this to go with the paleo chicken nuggets in Part 1, and I’m so glad I did. My husband and I actually prefer this to regular ketchup.

*notes: I once used this with fast food fries and it totally didn’t work–the mix of real with artificial just wasn’t good


Bone Broth

FoodCodes AllA big part of Paleo AIP is eating nutrient dense foods. Bone broth is an easy way to help you do that. When I make a recipe that calls for bone broth, I literally feel like I got some kind of shot after eating a serving of it. And if I feel like a cold is coming on, I’ll go out of my way to use bone broth and it knocks it right out of my system. You can also just drink bone broth by itself, but I prefer to have it via a meal.

Organ Meat: It’s Important

Eating organ meat is a big part of healing your body. I’ve had a hard time with this part of the diet, so I started adding beef liver to my diet using this method. You can also buy desiccated liver tablets, but it’s a lot cheaper to make your own liver “pills” at home. If you like liver–great! There’s good recipes out there, like this one.

notes: I take my liver with orange juice (it masks any thought of taste); sometimes the pills have jagged edges and are hard to swallow–if you let them thaw slightly they’re more like gummy bears and there’s no issue (and this is why orange juice is a necessity for me)


Part 4: The Sweets