Sunday, April 13, 2014

Passion Sunday

I don't know why, but this is one of those Lents that has just seemed to linger.  It hasn't been particularly hard, but just long.  It's like one of those workouts that starts out feeling easy, but the sheer length of it makes you want to quit.  It seems like there are so many people suffering right now, and that makes it harder, I think. So many senseless tragedies.  So much horrible illness. My own particular cross is what it is, and there have been some of those times this Lent where it has just seemed like too much as well, just from the sheer weariness of the never changing and (seemingly) never ending load of it.  I don't know about you, but when it gets like that, it's hard to hold on to the idea that there could be any fruit from this, or that it could be doing anybody any good.

There are several things that have struck me in the recent weeks.  At Bible study a couple of weeks ago, we were discussing the choices that were made in the face of the Cross. As the Passion drew near, and the disciples could sense that things were brewing, Judas gave in to fear and greed.  The One that he had turned to for answers seemed to not have the answers that he was looking for.  He wanted a Messiah, but on his terms and for his own good in the way that he saw it.  When that seemed to be an impossibility, he turned his back on Jesus.  The despair eventually overtook him, and he killed himself.  Then there was Peter, also scared, I am sure.  Also uncertain of what was going to happen to this Man that he followed, but Peter remained convinced that this Man was the Messiah, whether it was the Messiah he had expected to see or not.  Peter was determined to follow Christ, no matter what.  It turned out that he failed in that darkest hour.  He also denied Christ in the midst of the fear and the pain, not once, but three times.  However, he turned and threw himself on Christ's mercy and became the first Papa of the Church.  His willingness to follow, to admit when he was wrong and to always turn back led to much fruit.

The thing is, no matter how much many of us want to follow God, in the face of the Cross, when it really gets down to the nitty gritty, when it is harder and darker in the shadow of that Cross than we ever could have imagined, we don't really know how we will respond.  Sometimes we will be beautifully faithful, and other times we will fail miserably.  Like Christ we will fall multiple times.  But will we get back up again, and will we turn back to Him? That is really the question.

In the face of the Cross, we have a lot of questions.  It hurts so bad and none of it makes any sense at all. Why would a God who purportedly loves us allow all of this to happen? If He is truly good and if He is truly all powerful and loving, why the heck does He send this suffering? What kind of a plan is it that He has concocted that allows this much pain?

The thing is, He does not cause any of this pain and suffering.  If you want a beautiful testimony to that, there is this post. (Warning, the situation facing this family is absolutely heart breaking, but this woman's love and trust in God is all the more beautiful for that.  Pray for them!) I also liked this quote from Father Longnecker (thanks to Stephanie Z. for sharing it):

Evil causes suffering for which there is no rational answer. Because the devil is the father of lies, there is not truth. None. Nowhere. Therefore the suffering he causes is irrational and absurd. This is why suffering hurts so much- because there is no answer.

I have also been thinking of what Kat said several weeks ago. This line in particular got me: "When you go through suffering and realize that you are carrying a cross that you can't really get rid of, there comes a time when you have to choose between self-pity and self-sacrifice." It's not (as she goes on to point out) that self-sacrifice means that the pain and the mess and all of the feelings will go away, or that we should try to ignore them or be all smiles and light in the midst of the darkness.  It's just that in one choice, there can be growth and new life, and in the other there is stagnation.  With this already on my mind, I was particularly struck by something that Scott Hahn said in his book, Consuming the Word. He is says that Christ, in instituting the Eucharist on Holy Thursday "transformed Calvary from a Roman execution to a holy sacrifice- the consummation of his self-offering that was initiated in the Upper Room.  Thus, he didn't lose his life on Good Friday, since he has already given it- in loving sacrifice- on Holy Thursday."

We will all suffer.   We will all experience that feeling that God has abandoned us.  Keep in mind that choosing to accept that Cross does not transform it into something light and airy.  Christ accepted His, and simply carrying it to Calvary it almost killed Him.  He fell and fell again. He would not have gotten it there if He had not had help.  And when He did get to the top of the hill, He died.  If we accept our cross and follow Him, it will be a mess still.  But because He died on Calvary, that mess and that pain no longer has to be meaningless.  It can become a source of life.  It can become a part of the victory over pain, death and sin. Maybe here and now, often not until heaven, but He has overcome the world.  He has made it so that the suffering that was once completely absurd and useless can become new life.

Pasque flowers; so named because they start to show up around Easter.  One of the first wildflowers we see here in the Spring.  New life after a long winter, and associated with Easter- so new life after a long Lent, too.

Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday

1) Hello everyone, did you miss me? ;)  I'm going to go with "no".  It's hard to miss someone that never really went anywhere.  I noticed that my computer was gone, but I have a Ki.ndle Fire that kept me somewhat connected with the outside world.  My comments were more limited than usual and I didn't really respond to comments, but other than that who would even notice?  I might have posted something this week if I'd had a computer.  I know I had a couple of ideas that I have now forgotten, but I likely wouldn't have had time anyway.

2) Whether I was gone or not is up to you, but now I'm back!  Or rather, I am no longer computer less. I didn't love paying for a new computer, but I love my new computer! I've barely gotten a chance to use it, but the screen is beautiful, and I didn't even spring for the fancy "retina display", and I love typing on this keyboard.  It's the little things in life, I tell ya. Ooh! And I'm really excited to have a new version of iPhoto so that I can go back to the calendars that I like the best for next year!  Maybe I should just get myself an 18 month calendar so I don't have to wait a full year. I just don't love the little ones that I got stuck with this year.

3) Am I the only one that gets something shiny and new like a computer or a phone, and then you kind of don't want to touch it.  I mean, I do want to use it like mad.  But it's shiny and new and has that electronic smell, and if I touch it with my grubby paws, all the newness will wear off.  I'm even committed to not eating while I'm on the computer. (Yes, I know that should be a no brainer, but I have bad habits.  I'm surprised my other computer made it as long as it did.) If my commitment can last at least 2 weeks, maybe I have a shot at not filling this keyboard with crumbs.

Okay, enough of the ode to a new computer.

Never mind, one last thing. I could live without autocorrect. Just saying.

4) This Thursday I had a chance to wear the new shirt that I got from StitchFix.  Let me just say again, thanks to those of you who took the time to check out that post and voice an opinion.  I wasn't quite sure that I liked it, but most people loved it, so I decided to give it a try.  Anyway, the point is, I got SO many compliments on it, so I appreciate your input!  If I hadn't heard from you, I would have sent it back, and I'm starting to really like it, and I love that I have nothing else quite like it.  For those of you that are curious, it's the same tulip shirt that Stephanie tried on here. I get another one in a week or two, so head's up! I'll be sending out another plea for you to help dress me. ;)

5) Sunday I was feeling kind of like I'd had enough of Lent and I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up.  Then all of a sudden I realized that the very next Sunday was Palm Sunday! Y'all, it's Holy Week in a mere matter of days!  How did Lent go from being unbearably long one second to "oh my goodness, how is it over already" the next?  I'm looking forward to and dreading Holy Week.  I love Holy Week, but I want to spend Easter with my family.  I will not be doing that this year. Also, I can't wait for the Easter Vigil, but incense and I have not been getting along too well of late.  This is very sad because incense is awesome.

6) The upside to being limited on the computer this week is that my house no longer looks like a bachelor pad.  So, yay for that!

7) Well, I have nothing but stock photos on this computer, so I guess that's it for now.  Here's the cop out take: Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Of Temperamental Computers and Other Stories

My computer screen is black right now. Yep. The computer seems to be working fine overall, but the screen? Not so much.  I'm not kidding y'all.  I am not responsible for any typos.  At first I I started to write this when the screen was working, but when it stopped after the title, I thought I'd pound away anyway. It's been that kind of week.

I don't really want to buy a new computer right now.  It's on the list of things that I've been saving for.  I can buy, I just wanted a little more in the nest egg first.  Because I have expensive tastes. I am one of those folks that has to have a Mac.  I am going to look into refurbished, though.  Actually, first this puppy's going to the repair shop, THEN I will look into what I need to do to buy something.

I am still quite far behind on paperwork BUT the system seems to be a little better than it was. I will do more tomorrow, but obviously I will have to go into work as I will actually have to see what I'm doing there.  First I will hike, though.  I need some serious fresh air in my life.

I was very excited to go the the grocery store tonight.  I was going to take a photo of my empty fridge today, because I was very proud of it.  I set a budget for the last 2 weeks and stuck to it. It had the added advantage of helping me to clean out my overfull freezer, the refrigerator and some of my cabinets. My food budget should be a little larger these next couple of weeks, but I love that it's making me be a little more mindful of what I'm spending.  I was SO tired of the food that I was eating by the end of this week though. There's a reason that it was not getting cleaned out.  It's not my favorite stuff by far!

I had the saddest conversation with someone today.  She seemed to think that one or two kids was the MAX anyone should have.  Unless you spread them out enough that you could give them each undivided attention, especially in their younger years.  I said that older siblings are often great with younger ones, but apparently she was an older sibling and resented having to help with her younger brother and sister.  Sad.  I am also an older sibling and I didn't always enjoy babysitting duty and all the rest, but I'm really glad that I have all the siblings that I do, and I think that the parts that were harder really were good for me (character building and all that, like my dad used to say every time I complained).  I wanted to cry when she said that she didn't really see her younger siblings as people until they were older.  That's the craptastic culture of death, and I want no part of it.

Okay, I can get the screen working for brief periods to sort of check my typing, but I need to stop being ridiculous and get off the broken computer. I really don't know whether to hope there's an easy fix or to hope that I get to get a new computer. I don't love either answer, but I will love either having a new computer (which I've been wanting for a while now) or getting to keep my money for some other things I wanted to get and do this summer.  I guess I can just be happy either way this goes.  Since I don't have much of a choice. Computerless is not a choice at this point of my life.  Someone did suggest an iPad with a keyboard, but I don't really think that's the way I want to go.  I don't know.  I'll have to decide soon, I guess.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hello, April

This week is absolutely bananas.  Crazy number of new patients (business being busy is a good thing, but also a lot of work!), whole new paperwork system that will hopefully be very helpful someday soon, but right now is causing and insane amount of extra work and extra stress.  You know what happens when I get overstimulated like that?  It all comes crashing down.

I've already been struggling with the coworker who is beautifully pregnant and is planning her maternity leave and very part time return, but now it's even worse. I'm happy for her, but sometimes I have to pull away from those conversations about it.  All my coworkers are addressing her as "Mama".  What a cute little knife to the heart that is! I don't know that it will ever be me.  Even if I meet someone tomorrow, I will be in at an "advanced maternal age" (I usually don't feel old, but that phrase makes me feel horribly ancient) should I ever get pregnant.  And for several years, I've known enough to recognize that I may not be terribly fertile anyway.

It's killing me to see the people who are exactly my age and in the middle of the chaos of the large family that I always wanted.  And those that are younger than me and so much farther along that road that I wanted to travel.  It's hard to explain it to anyone who doesn't understand (and those of you that do understand, don't need explanation).  It's NOT that I wish things were any different for those people around me.  It's not that they don't have many trying things about that life that I always wanted.  But.  It's hard to miss the deep peace and contentment that comes from people living their vocation. For most of us, singleness is not a vocation.  It is merely what has happened up to this point of our lives.  It doesn't meant that God has forgotten us, but it sure can feel like it.

The other day, I saw someone after 2 years, and they were asking me what was new in my life, and there were no new external things to tell them. How do the years keep passing and nothing else changes?

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes. It's the beginning of April.  When everything rolls over me, and I just get tired sometimes I have to stop and take a breath (or 3 or 10).  Then I have to take a look at what things look like at this moment and remind myself that they will not likely look like this at the end of the month.  It probably won't be as drastic as the April four years ago now, where I realized suddenly one day that maybe I should think about moving, and then not 2 months later moved out here to the mountains.  But while many things may stay the same, maybe some things will change.

By May 1st, hopefully tomorrow's forecast won't be for snow like it is right at this moment (though in the mountains, who really knows?)

By May 1st, the new paperwork system at work will be much more familiar and hopefully much less work than it is at this moment.

By May 1st, my coworker will be on maternity leave.  I'll miss her, but not the daily reminders. (And I am very happy for her.  She is very sweet, and I get the feeling that it might not have been the easiest to conceive this child, though we don't really talk much about outside of work things, so I don't know.)

By May 1st, Lent will be over and it will be the Easter season.

Only God knows what else may or may not happen by May 1st, but I love the idea of the possibilities.

Until then, I am going to thank God that despite my poor planning, my meals worked out perfectly this week, and I have had very little meal prep/dishes in the midst of the craziness from work.  I am going to make sure that I get enough down time and plenty of sleep so that I can hopefully deal with this horrible backlog of paperwork from the insanity of all the new evals plus the new system.  I made sure to get to spin class this morning and really push it.  Use the sweat to purge my system, I guess.  It helped. Finally, I'm going to soak in these words from evening prayer last night:

"I have heard your prayers and seen your tears. I will heal you." (2 Kings 20:5)

I am not going to use them to speculate about what God is going to do in my life. He has heard and seen and He will answer. It is enough.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Little Happies ~5~

This week for Little Happies, Stephanie made the suggestion for a joyful pictures edition.  Yes, yes I would love to join in with that suggestion.  Umm, but seriously. How do you narrow it down for a post like this?  There are so many pictures that could and should be included!

1) Okay, how about the one where I was hiking and feeling particularly hopeless and apparently God though I needed a little clearer sign that normal?

2) These have never been a part of a post before, but I just love them.  These are the boys of two of my closest friends, and they are just being everything that boys should be, leading to two pictures that absolutely delight me.

3) This one will forever be a favorite.  Here's why.

4) Right at the moment, I am trying to remind myself why I like climbing.  (It's spring, and it's like I have to relearn to trust the system every year.) But I do.  I like climbing, I like overcoming the physical and mental challenges, and even though as of today even an easy climb is giving me dry mouth.  These make me happy, because they are all about climbing.

5) My sisters and I went on road trips in 2008 and 2009 (we TOTALLY need to do that again!) We pulled off to a random stop and decided to eat our glamourous peanut butter sandwiches.  This bird hops onto a fence in front of us and cocks his head, clearly wanting a bite.  We said hi, but we don't feed the wildlife.  He hops closer.  Still nothing.  He hangs out waiting.  All of a sudden, he's down on the ground acting like he is going to DIE if we don't feed him RIGHT. NOW! (Hypoglycemic, much? I feel your pain, Bird.)

Then, when we laughed and were STILL heartless enough to not feed him, he hopped up and flew away.

Okay, this is really fun, and I wish I could just keep going, but I'm running out of time and I have other things that I should be getting done. Thanks again for hosting, Stephanie!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Little Help?

The other day in spin class, the instructor was helping some new people set up their bikes, and then she asked the room in general, "Does anyone else need help?" Two of us regulars that ride next to each other raised our hands.  She gave us a Look. "Does anyone else need help setting up their bikes?"  We lowered our hands.

Yeah, in general I could use some help.  But in particular, I could use some help making some decisions about some clothes.  I am the epitome of low maintenance.  I joke that I have the shoes for every occasion- hiking shoes (AND hiking boots; different footwear for different hikes), climbing shoes, cycling shoes, etc.  But not so much when it comes to regular outfits.  My idea of accessorizing is wearing black or brown shoes. I don't wear jewelry.  I like the idea of trying new things, but I get overwhelmed before actually trying anything new because I completely lack confidence with that.

Anyway, I do NOT expect you to help me fix all of that (I would not set you up for such a large task).  I did however decide to try Stitch Fix after seeing Steph's post about it. What I need help with is trying to decide what, if anything to keep from it.  I am so sorry to not post the whole thing here, but I still like my illusion of anonymity and I just couldn't deal with a whole series of headless pictures, so I'm going to post them at my private blog here.  Oh, you didn't know I had a private blog? No wonder.  I only dust it off occasionally to use it.  If you are actually interested in reading it and you're not already on the list, just leave a comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to send you an invite.

Apparently they start off in about the same way for people; that or Stephanie and I had a lot of the same answers to their questions, because if you looked at her post, you'll see some of the same things. Or if you want to see them on me, go here.  If you are kind enough to actually go through the hassle of going to a private blog to give me some opinions on the outfits, I really, really appreciate it!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Little Happies ~4~

I swear I can write blog posts that are not link ups.  I really can!  I even have one in the drafts right now.  But for now I will be linking up with Stephanie because I want to and you can't stop me, so there.  Also because it's been a Monday (nothing big, just glitches with scheduling and the like) so I need something to cure me of that.  This seems like the ticket.

1) Not to copy John, but bacon.  Really, really good applewood smoked bacon.  It hit the spot tonight after a long day of work.  And, honestly, even if I am a copy cat, bacon should be on everyone's list.  It's that good.

2) One of my friends started a fa.cebook group for all the Midwest friends that I miss so much.  Too many of us have moved away, and even though it's nowhere near as good as hanging out, it's a nice way to chat.

3) That it's looking like I will get to be one of the annoying hikers this summer!! Yay! I have hiked hundreds of miles, y'all, and I have done a lot of hiking with people who are in better shape than me.  What happens is that we're going up some steep grade, and I think I'm not going to make it and they're not only fine, they're talking.  It annoys the crap out of me, but now I can talk on steep grades! Sweet!

4) Here's the nerd coming out, but I have really been enjoying reading some Sherlock Holmes.  For the record, I don't think I've yet come to a place where he says "Elementary, my dear Watson." At least, not it so many words.  Good stuff, though.

5) I really need to get my butt to bed, so I'll leave you with: being above tree line and that feeling of being on top of the world and like you can touch the clouds.  Love. it.