Wednesday, December 30, 2009
1. Just breathe, and take one step at a time. The beginning of this year was rather hectic. I was planning for our April wedding while finishing up my final semester of college. I was only taking six credit hours, so I thought the next few months would be easy peasy. I was very wrong. My senior seminar thesis class was over John Paul II's Theology of the Body. It was a very intense class and consumed a majority of my time. I was also driving an hour and a half to get to my 8 a.m. class...meaning I had to leave super early in the morning. (In case I haven't told you, I am NOT a morning person! Zombie movies have nothing on me!)
Ryan and I had a rather long engagement so I had a majority of the big details of our wedding taken care of, but little bumps in the road kept creeping up. I was trying to focus on the beautiful sacrament that I was going to take part of, but kept getting majorly stressed out.
The wedding turned out perfectly, but the next few weeks were filled with writing two 20 page research papers, a presentation for my senior seminar, moving three hours away from home to move in with my husband, writing thank you note after thank you note, preparing our new home and getting ready for graduation. I felt like a nomad because I was traveling a couple hundred miles a week to get where I needed to go.
I was overwhelmed quite a bit. I was facing huge life changes all in the time span of a few months. I could have easily had a nervous breakdown, but I learned to focus on one thing at a time. It was easy to get freaked out at all that had to be done, but I just went week by week and tackled what needed to be accomplished. For example, instead of freaking out about decorating for our wedding reception that was three weeks away, I just needed to prepare what I could with the time I had and focus on what was right in front of me (like reading 150 pages of TOB in one night.) When it came to decorating for the reception I felt a little less stressed.
This way of thinking has really helped me in other minor situations that have come up throughout the year!
2. God will help you if you let Him. This fall I suffered a miscarriage. This was a huge heartbreak for both my husband and I. In the past, when something traumatic has happened in my life, I've often either gotten very angry at God and crossed my arms like a toddler and said to Him, "I'm not talking to you!" or I've been so focused on myself that I forget to even turn to Him in my sorrow.
When we lost our baby Gus I ran to God so fast like a little child who just fell and scraped their knee runs to their parent for comfort. I completely opened myself to trust in His Divine plan and rely on his comfort. It was scary to do that, but you know what...it worked. He helped us in ways I cannot number or explain. If I would not have trusted in Him I would still be a mess. Now I wasn't always a pious ray of sunshine during my miscarriage. There were times I seriously wondered what we did to deserve this pain. There are still days I cry, especially this holiday season since I was expecting to be rubbing a very preggo belly while sitting by the Christmas tree. But I can smile now knowing that our St. Gus in up in heaven praying for his mom and dad here on earth. Now isn't that amazing?
3. You can't please everyone. I hate making people mad. I hate causing problems or hard feelings. I hate confrontations. But if I go through life being politically correct or changing what I say to make everyone happy that will make ME unhappy. Especially when it comes to my religious beliefs. There is a particular Bible verse that I always keep in mind. Jesus says, "And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9) I've learned I need to gain courage to speak my mind and to defend the glory of God and to trust in the Holy Spirit that He will guide me in what to say and do.
That being said....
4. I need to grow a layer of tough skin. Being Christian isn't easy in today's world. Being Catholic is even harder. There are going to be people that will try and tear apart my faith, disrespect it and fight against it. I could be called horrible names, have people stop talking to me or have my feelings hurt. I have seen people comment on other people's blogs with horrible insults. I've learned I need to prepare myself for the wackos out there who like to cause trouble. There will even be the Catholic-Puritans that accuse me of not being Catholic enough. I am a very sensitive person, so this tough skin will take awhile to grow!
That being said....
5. It is very important to do all things with love. I've often struggled with defending the faith. There are facebook statuses and comments I hear all the time that go against what I believe. What do I do? Say something? Correct someone when they are wrong? I've learned through one of Jennifer's posts on her Conversion Diary blog that sometimes the best thing to do is nothing but pray. Sometimes correcting someone's belief can cause them to go further away from the Truth. People's pride can easily be hurt. Sometimes it's best to let the light of Christ shine through us. If people see that you are a loving and happy person maybe they will be more likely to approach you regarding your beliefs feeling safe and secure. They won't feel like they are being judged or condemned. Another lesson in trust in the Holy Spirit for guidance.
6. Marriage ain't too shabby! Ryan and I were best friends before we started dating. I knew I was going to marry him before we even dated. Transitioning into marriage was fairly easy for us. We have learned that communication is a key ingredient to a healthy marriage. There have been many, many times where we've gotten into a spat, and we are both so stubborn we won't talk it out. I go up to him and say, "We need to talk this out. You go first." He then says, "NO, YOU go first!" and so on and so forth. We end up laughing because we realize how childish we are acting. We have learned not to take ourselves so seriously and to pick our battles.
Natural Family Planning has also been a great blessing to our marriage. It has taught us not to be slaves to sexual pleasure. We see sex for just how awesome and holy it is, both physically and emotionally. There have been times we've wanted to be *ahem* sexually intimate but knew our union could result in a pregnancy. We had discerned that we weren't ready for a baby. But just laying there, him rubbing my back, caressing my face and just talking was amazing. There are times that doing those things are better than a romp in the bed. :-)
7. Prayer works. Really it does! This last part of 2009 has been a struggle. With me being unemployed and Ryan's job not paying very well we've struggled financially. Prayer has strengthened our relationship to not be strained by money problems. Prayer has assured us that everything WILL work out just fine. Things may get worse before they get better, but God never abandons those who seek His help. I've been praying a 54 day Novena (basically praying a rosary every day). It has brought me great comfort and strength. I'm not just saying that in a sugar and sweet, cup half full way. I am a pessimist, but Mary the Mother of God has brought us some amazing graces. And when the bills come and we stress how to handle them, God hands us the grace and blessings to figure everything out.
I hope everyone had a very blessed and wonderful holiday with family and friends. I pray that you all have a very happy and prosperous New Year!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I should be packing my suitcase because tomorrow we leave for Kansas City to spend one Christmas with Ryan's family and then off to Tarkio to spend another Christmas with my family. I should be baking sheet after sheet of cookies. So what am I doing instead? Trying to write this blog post while being distracted by home videos that I burned to DVD last night.
A couple weeks ago I had big plans to dive deep into all my favorite Christmas memories and put them in blog form. And even though I am unemployed, I got too busy to organize my Christmas memory thoughts.
So here is a shorter version of my favorite Christmas memories.
When I was growing up we didn't have a lot of money. We didn't have a telephone or a car. It was because of the generosity of family and of strangers that made my Christmases a wonderful childhood memory.
I just love, love, LOVE Midnight Mass. Before Mass begins all the lights are off except for the lights in the back choir loft. The rest of the church is lit by candle light and Christmas lights. There are tons of sparkling poinsettias around and a large and beautiful nativity scene. While all the world is either asleep or doing their own holiday shin-dig, I am there with my family celebrating the birth of Christ by receiving His True Presence in the Eucharist. It truly is a silent night before Midnight Mass. I sing in the choir and we're pretty good (I think so anyway!)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
On Thursday my husband and I went Christmas shopping. I was beyond annoyed, grouchy and tired. The mall was packed and I'm just not that into shopping. The one thing that made the trip enjoyable was that I got to spend quality time with my husband and see all the adorable kiddos in line to see Santa Claus. I think I wouldn't have been such a Grinch if we didn't have to drive over an hour to get to the mall.
I have wedding ring dermatitis! The skin underneath my ring is itchy, red and irritated. I know what caused it- ever since my miscarriage I have never taken my ring off, not in the shower or at bed time. Moisture got trapped underneath and has reeked havoc on my skin. I have to keep my ring off until it heals. I hate it- I feel naked without my ring! Every once in awhile I'll look down and have a heart attack thinking I lost it somewhere. Once it heals I'll probably start taking it off whenever I wash my hands, shower and put lotion on, but now I'll be paranoid that I will lose it!
In the last couple weeks I've seen a couple people have their Facebook status as "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints." That saying just drives me crazy! I think a blog post about heaven and hell in regards to this quote may be written in the near future.
I found out tonight I am singing a solo for Midnight Mass. I've sang solos in church since I was junior in high school and I still get horrible stage fright. St. Cecilia, pray for me!
Ryan and I exchanged our Christmas gifts tonight. I got him an Xbox video game and he got me a very nice blow dryer. We are both VERY pleased with our gifts! Years from now when we look back and remember what we got each other for our first Christmas as a married couple we will probably laugh!
On Wednesday Ryan came home from work and a lady there had given him and his co-workers some sort of banana bread as a Christmas gift. It was baked in a cylindrical form. (How do you do that? Don't judge...I'm a cooking novice!) Well, I decided to eat a piece and oh. my. goodness. IT IS GOOOOOOOD! There has to be some sort of drug in there because I cannot stop eating it! There's a little tiny itsy bitsy piece left for my husband...that is if I don't get to it first...
My friend Sarah at Fumbling Toward Grace mentioned in her 7 Quick Takes that she cheers on a certain undefeated team. I think I'll move to Colts country! For the second week in a row there is a threat that my beloved Kansas City Chiefs will be blacked out. Although...I think blacking out the game is actually a blessing in disguise....it is NOT pretty to watch them lose so horribly week after week. But they are still my team and I love 'em. And like I always say- there's always next year!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
I didn't have time to write a post today, but I wanted to share with you this wonderful YouTube video. The dog in it is simply hilarious and the man video taping it and talking at the end sounds like he's very handsome! Yes, it's just a dog chasing his tail, but you can tell that he is just so determined to get it! Enjoy!
(OK...so I'm biased since it's my doggie and my hubby!)
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Last Monday I mentioned my husband went to apply for a new job. He'll find out about in a month if it will work out. This is definitely an exercise of patience for us. It may or may not work out, but no matter what happens I know things will work out eventually. Above all- God's will be done.
My big brother has begun the process of becoming a deacon. It is a four-year process of discernment. He is such an amazing and spiritual man and I know he will make an amazing deacon if God chooses him to take that path. He's also a bit of a goof so I know he'll give some great homilies. (Anyone who can give a Harry Potter reference with a spiritual topic has my attention!) If he does become a deacon I can't wait for him to baptize my future children. (Not meaning to put pressure on you Jamie!) I'm sure he won't mind me asking for prayers for his journey in becoming a deacon.
I just love the way Christmas lights look at night. I love sitting at my computer catching up on some of my favorite blogs, sipping a cup of tea, all in the glow of the lights from my tree, front window and entertainment center. It is so peaceful.
My hometown in northwest Missouri got slammed with snow earlier this week. They got about 10 inches! Here in Waverly we got about an inch. I know this sound silly, but I just LOVE snow! Well, technically I love the first snow of the year and snow at Christmas. And I guess you could add to that list any snow that I don't have to drive in. I don't like it when it gets all dirty and slushy and gross. And of course when it snows I think back to the days when I could go what seemed like all day long outside sledding, building snowmen and having snowball fights. I could spend forever out there...now I'm lucky if I can survive 10 minutes in the cold. I'm a weenie now...
I should probably go to confession for being so gluttonous during this holiday season. My excuse is that I only indulge like this once a year. And I usually don't like sweets but around this time of year my rare sweet tooth hungers! But here are some of my holiday goodie favorites. Please don't judge me!
Ryan and I discovered Candy Cane Chill Blizzards while we were dating in Atchison. Many times after a night of studying or after a rough exam we'd run out and get these. I haven't had one this year since the nearest Dairy Queen is 50 miles away!
They are like Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, but the thing that makes them extra yummy are the green sparkles.
I knew exactly what he was talking about. Lately I've been throwing pity parties for myself because Ryan has been working his 4:00-midnight shifts again, and I have felt very lonely. I eat supper by myself, usually something less than nutritious like spaghetti-o's or a bowl of cereal. I watch my TV shows by myself, read interesting Internet articles and wish he was there so I could share them with him and say my nightly prayers by myself. I think what makes it worse is that with being unemployed I have no co-workers to spend time with. Ryan and my dog are my only companions these days. While we are friendly with our neighbors we don't really hang out with them, and they are the only people we know in this tiny town.
Being lonely is something I've struggled with for a long time. Even though I have an older brother, he is so much older that he was out of the house by the time I hit kindergarten. I was basically raised as an only child. Sure I didn't have to share a room or my toys with siblings, but I always longed for a brother or sister my age. My mom worked long hours and sometimes I was left at home by myself. I had many friends and I hung out with them quite a bit, so it wasn't like I was some poor little girl left out of all the fun. But every once in awhile my friends would have other plans with their family and I was all by myself. I'd throw pity parties for me even back then. I even wrote in one of my diaries that I wanted to "have a bunch of kids so I won't ever feel alone." Thankfully my attitude has shifted- I still want to have a lot of kids, but not to quell my feelings of loneliness.
I worked at a nursing home for short while a couple years ago. My heart would ache for my elderly patients that had no visitors. They would sit in their rooms and watch TV or read a book. I would try to imagine what their lives had been like years before. Did they used to have a bunch of kids running around? Did they have a church group or club they once belonged to where every week they were surrounded by their companions? I would try my best to spend extra time with those folks who had no visitors but then a call light would go off and I'd have to tend to somebody else. I'd try not to look at their disappointed faces when I left their room.
Not all loneliness is bad. When I first moved to Atchison I didn't know anybody. I'd get ready for work in the morning, work eight hours, then come back home. I'd eat supper by myself and watch TV. I was happy during these alone times because it made me reflect on what I wanted to do with my life. I had time to pray, meditate and shift my focus from myself to God. I was better able to hear God speak to me. I cherished these times. Sometimes we need to step back from our social circles and regroup.
We read in Scripture that God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen. 2:18) We are social creatures by nature. I know that is true for me because my favorite memories involve times where a bunch of people were around: a family reunion, a Christmas morning, a pep rally in high school, a slumber party with friends, my own wedding.
But what about those who are alone not by choice? Those folks in the nursing home. A widow who had no children of her own. A thirty-something male who wants true companionship and not always a rowdy drunk group of friends? This time of year can be especially hard for them.
I complain a lot about being lonely, but I actually have it pretty good. I really should not be complaining at all. I have a husband that comes home to me. This Christmas I will be at my mother's house with my brother and his family PLUS I get another Christmas with my husband's family. It's time to end my pity party and start praying for those who are truly alone.
When I feel alone I should give thanks that I am not truly alone. I have family and friends, and although they live far away they are still a part of my life. I am a part of the body of Christ, there are dear friends and even strangers praying for me.
Let's pray for those who are truly lonely. Let's visit them when we can. Let's give them words of encouragement. Let's bring the light of Christ to them.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I feel like a selfish child. I feel mad. I feel empty. And there's no reason why I should feel these things. I'm just in a spiritual funk. I've felt that way since Friday, and maybe it is because Ryan worked evenings this weekend and I felt really lonely. I should be thankful that I did get to spend time with him before he left for work....but like I said, I feel like a selfish child. I feel another spiritual dry spell coming on. During Advent. Awesome. I wish I could have my big brother's thankful attitude toward God right now. (Here comes the selfish child again...) I guess instead of wasting time reading blogs and feeling sorry for myself I should focus on the big picture.
I don't have a lot of time to blog today. I could ramble on and on and on about my feelings, but today my husband is in Kansas City searching for a new job. We've been praying hard for this. We've felt stuck in a rut for awhile. We're waiting for the next step in our lives. This could be it...but we have to prepare ourselves that it may not be "it" yet. Maybe my mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement are adding to the funk. But no matter what, God's will be done.
Instead of writing a lament of "Why me? I wanted Advent to be special this year!' I'll leave you with some YouTube videos. The first one is very clever, and you've probably seen it because I've seen it buzzing around different blogs. (I found it at Creative Minority Report.) The other one is a good one to think about during this busy holiday season. Enjoy!
*If you don't mind...if you have a minute, please offer up a prayer for us.
Friday, December 4, 2009
A couple weeks ago the heater unit in our bathroom went kaplooey. So I've been a very grumpy girl in the morning because I HATE being cold. Yesterday our landlady sent over her son to fix it. YAY! Not only did he fix that, but he fixed our toilet that keeps making strange noises. This has gone on since we moved in, it annoyed me at first but I got used to it. But the quiet is nice! He also turned up the thermostat on our hot water heater. Now I can shave while showering! I used to have to bring in our space heater, let the bathroom warm up, then take a bath to shave. I love baths, but still I'd run out of hot water. But still a bath was better than having one leg shaved and then ice cold water beat down on me.
Can you tell I'm a wuss when it comes to the cold?
Yesterday I gave my dog a bath. He actually looooooves bath time. And now he's silky smooth and doesn't smell like...well, like a stinky dog!
I've been on a baking kick. I've made brownies and lots of cookies. We gave some to our neighbors this week. Which makes me think that during Christmas time, I love giving more than receiving. I love finding that perfect gift and seeing their reaction when the person opens it.
I read through some of my diaries and journals I wrote from 3rd grade-8th grade. Wow, I laughed A LOT. I sure thought life was complicated back then. If I got into a fight with a friend I thought the world would end! And *wow* was I boy crazy! I read these and I feel like I was a completely different person back then. I know I've grown and matured (a bit) since then. It makes me wonder what my own future teenage daughters will be like. What kind of mother will I be to them? I know I was a huge brat to my mom...if there's such a thing as karma I will be in LOTS of trouble!
I hate when I have long fingernails. I find when I have long fingernails it is hard to type. When I take out my contacts long fingernails are a pain! I love that just clipped feeling! However I do like the look of long nails. It makes me feel semi-sophisticated. Too bad I can't function with them!
(Can you tell I'm running out of stuff to write about?)
My husband has been having a lot of nights off of work lately. His job has him working very odd shifts. For the longest time he was working 4:00-midnight shifts. I felt so lonely and felt like we never saw each other. It's nice to have him home, cook him supper, watch movies and have our nightly prayer. In less than a week he'll be looking to see if he can get another job...with better hours. I'm flooding the heavens with prayers!
I'm tossing around the idea of going to grad school to get my masters in Theology. However that thought scares me to death. I loved taking Theology classes at Benedictine. I enjoyed going to class and my professors. However, presentations and research papers were not my strong point. It seems that's what grad school is all about. And the thought of taking the GRE scares me too. Plus we'd have to move far away from here....and our goal is to move closer to family. And we want to start our own family soon. Could I manage moving away from my loved ones, taking care of a child and going to class? Something to pray about.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Mary is so awesome!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
As much as I love praying I get so incredibly frustrated when I get distracted. I'll be praying about my day or my petitions when all of a sudden images of a TV show I watched earlier that evening will pop into my head. For example, last night How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on TV. So while praying here were the thoughts that popped in my head: the Grinch's dog reminds me of my dog. He was such a good little doggie, how did he ever end up with the mean old Grinch? Dr. Suess is a strange name. I don't know much about him...was that a pen name or his real name? I remember hating The Cat in the Hat story when I was little. I did love reading Charlotte's Web. I loved the cartoon too. I wish I lived on a farm. I miss my hometown sometimes. I wonder where Ryan and I will be living in a couple of years. Did I lock the front door?
Then I realize that I'm still supposed to be praying to God. I'm sure our Father in Heaven is chuckling to Himself while listening to my sporadic prayers.
A lot of times an idea for a blog posting pops into my head while I'm praying. Sometimes I have a hard time discerning if it's the Holy Spirit guiding me or just my plain ol' crazy thoughts.
I also almost always have a song stuck in my head while praying. It might be a TV theme song or lately Christmas carols have been playing over and over and over as background music to my prayers. (Especially this catchy jingle.)
One of the best places I have found for praying is while driving alone. I actually talk out loud, which helps. Even my dear hometown priest mentioned this in his last homily. "God is right there with you. Talk with Him. Just make sure you check your rear-view mirror to make sure the cops aren't chasing you!"
What has really been helping me lately is praying the rosary. I'm in the middle of praying a 54 day novena. I used to pray the rosary a couple times a year half heartedly. But now meditating on the mysteries of Jesus and focusing on my intentions uniting with the will of God has really been spiritually uplifting. Hopefully I can keep that up.
Does anyone have any good tips to combat distraction during prayer?