Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hey! How About We Do a Calendar Giveaway?

Okay, I am working on a calendar for 2015. I actually a little early this year, crazy!  I have a lot to do today, so that's why I'm doing this now. I am fan-stinking-tastic at the procrastination game. Anyway, I do like to give away one calendar each year, and I'm really excited because I get to order from the place I really like this year, because last year's calendars were a bit of a disappointment to me.

I'm still making a few adjustments, but I have to warn you that if you've had a calendar from me before, there may be a repeat photo or two. I really have too many photos to do that, but I have a couple of favorites and I wanted to include them in this year's calendar because I am giving it to a few people that haven't gotten a calendar from me before. Also, I usually like to use pictures that I have taken in each of the months (so a July shot taken the previous July), but I have several European pictures in there, despite the fact that they should only be in September if I was going to be true to my normal self-imposed rules.

I feel that a small sampling is in order (but things are subject to change!)


Let's keep it simple. If you want a calendar, leave a comment. There are no rules really, except the rule that I can arbitrarily change the rules if a situation demands it. You will have at least a week to enter, but after that, whenever I get around to it, I will pick a random number or draw a name out of a hat or whatever. If you win and I don't have a way to get in touch with you, I'll move on to the next person. You can email me at catholic mutt(at)gmail(dot)com if you don't want to leave that info in the comment or if your email isn't linked to your profile.

Monday, October 6, 2014


It was a beautiful Sunday in October, NOT in May. I didn't know I had any cause for concern. So I go to Mass and what do I find? The diocese is celebrating a year on marriage and the family, and you may have heard that the bishops have a synod going on. A whole Mass about marriage and the family, and my tamer thoughts included, "Oh, hell."

Sad, isn't it? And this is coming from me feeling in general like I'm in a good place in life! I think maybe I'll move out of the diocese for a year. And find a particular church where they don't really think about or mention current events like synods on families. Too much, you think? If you have any other- less drastic- ideas about how to avoid having almost as much fun as Mother's Day on multiple occasions throughout the year, to be staged without warning, please let me know!

Don't get me wrong, marriage and family is of the utmost importance. I'm all for anything that we can do to uplift and strengthen that. But. It sucks to go to church and have it highlighted and magnified that you are alone in that pew, and that you are forgotten. If not forgotten, no one knows quite what to do with you. There is no meaningful place for talking about singleness, but if you're really, really lucky, someone will remember to tack on something about "singles" or "other callings/situations" at the very end. Not enough to actually be included in the real conversation, but I guess better than being forgotten completely. I think we got left out completely at this Mass, but I'm not really sure. I was kind of a mess by somewhere in the middle of the homily. Good times and great sneak attacks.

However, while I needed a moment to vent, I'm not writing this post to get stuck in the "woe is me" place. I still go there sometimes, but I try not to spend very long there anymore. While I was there, I got to thinking. There are SO many people that are going to feel left out and isolated in their pain when the subject of marriage and family is brought up. We all have an idea of what family is and should mean, but most of us have some sort of wounds or pain surrounding what actually is in our lives. Parents that never loved the way a parent should, children who have turned away from their parents, marriages that are not perfect, losses of parents/children, struggles with infertility and subfertility, having many children and finding yourself feeling alone and overwhelmed, divorces, struggles with homosexuality, children born out of wedlock, histories in so many ways do not match up to ideals, such as past partners, history of abortion, and so forth, feeling alone in the midst of a crowd of family, trying to do everything right only to still not have all of it work out the way that it should. What else, guys? What are some of the other things that belong on this list, that are leaving people in the pews feeling left out of the conversation because they don't fit the perfect mold? There are so many wounds surrounding the family, and if we don't make it less invisible, we can't start to address it.

In my opinion, as great as it is to have discussions and synods and focus on catechesis, it gets us nowhere if we don't figure out how to BE family to each other. As long as someone is sitting in the pew feeling invisible and isolated in the midst of their struggle, we aren't going to get anywhere. We all long for family in our lives. For that support, for knowing that we are not alone, and for knowing that we matter in someone's lives. We can't make every family an ideal situation. We can't make a support group for each individual category of suffering. But we can offer support to each individual in our life that is suffering. It really doesn't have to be much; having someone say, "I see you. You matter. I care" is often worth so much more than anyone could imagine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Undisguised Blessings

Back in the Spring, and specifically in late May and early June, I was kind of tired. I was tired of everyone getting hard news and dealing with the grind. I was ready for the heavens to open and grace to rain down. Not merely the grace to deal with the tough stuff, but answered prayers. Most specifically, I prayed that there would be a whole rash of baby announcements from friends struggling with IF.

What do you know?

I am so excited for all of the people who have been sharing their amazing news lately. People who were not expecting it at all, whether this particular cycle or in general. Or the ones that have had some hope, and have seen that hope fulfilled. I absolutely love it. I wish there were some way to have a big party so we could have all kinds of celebration in person!  Thank you all so much for sharing your joy, and I am praying for you and your little ones!

But, my prayers are not done.  Prayers of thanksgiving, absolutely. Also, God and I have been having a little chat and I have been reminding Him, that, no, it's not  enough yet. My heart is bursting for joy for those of you sharing your amazing news (and with joy that there are so many announcements!), but it is also breaking for those of you that are still dealing with the weariness and ups and downs of NOT having anything to announce, of dealing with treatments or letting go of treatments, the process and questions and paperwork and expense of adoption. All of it.  I am praying for you, too. That in this moment, you will be able to get through the pain and weariness of your own situation, the exhaustion of being happy for others' announcements while your heart is in pieces. The paradox of the joy and the pain is a hard place to be. I also wish I could be in person with you tonight. Just to sit and be if you want, give you a hug, whatever you need right now.

I feel like Lot, asking God for something, and when He says, "Okay", I'm all, "Sweet! Now how about some more?" Good thing He loves me and knows that I'm not done asking yet. Or ever. Not as long as there are those that need it.

Little Happies

I'm still a little (to a lot) off kilter from traveling, but things are starting to get back to a semblance of normal. It's Monday, so I'm pretty sure that will help kick my butt back into gear. And I think that I should join in Little Happies to start off the week right.

1) Due to the fact that I have evaluated any new patients in the last couple of weeks, my schedule is light this week. I hope it doesn't last long, because I don't make money when I'm not seeing people, but I am planning to take full advantage of having a little extra time this week. For one, I'm hoping to get to daily Mass a little more this week.

2) I'm really excited that neither the bank account nor the scale took as bad of a hit as I thought they might. Numerous cheers for camping and hiking!

3) My friend in Europe and I have a new goal: to go biking in the Alps. This is ridiculous. I have only, EVER biked in the flatlands. Sure, there are hills, but that is a whole different thing than biking in the mountains. Biking up steep grades for miles? Having to actually have decent control of the bike? Seriously, I haven't been outside on a bike much in the last 10-15 years. I corner like Great Uncle Bob in his boat of a Cadillac turning into the local coffee shop. I do not belong on a bike in the Alps, but it's not going to stop me from trying. We're going to give ourselves 2 years to prepare, and I'm already loving the idea of such a specific challenge to work towards! It made me push even harder in my spin class this morning.

4) Okay, I don't know what else to add right now, so let's go with some European pictures that make me happy, okay? (Btw, if you are on the Book of Faces with me, or follow my photo blog, these may be some repeats. Too bad!)

Yep, castles are ALWAYS a happy!

Yep, the Austrian Alps also make me happy.

Liechtenstein. It's really fun to be able to say that I've been to Liechtenstein, even if we just drove through.

There were a lot of cows in the Alps. Some were really cute. Not this one, but I still like the photo.
Head over to Stephanie's for more and to link up your own moments of happiness from the last week.

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Quick Takes

1) Wow! I think it's been since June since I participated in Quick Takes! How does that happen? Anyway, it is happening this week. I'm getting a nice early start. Early, in that it is Thursday morning that I write this and it is very early on Thursday morning, because I might be a little jet lagged and my body might be a little confused as to what time it actually is right now.

2) Those of you that know me on fb already know, but I've been hanging out with friends in Europe the last couple of weeks, which is why there has been no action here on the blog. I did get online when I had a chance, but I have a defense for that. See, had I been looking at other peoples' posts while they were on a vacation like that, I would be all kinds of judgmental and think, "they should just put the phone down and enjoy BEING on vacation; post when you get home." There is truth to that, but it was 2 weeks in close quarters with 3 other people; of the 4 of us, 3 had certain introverted qualities. It was great, but when we would have wifi at the end of a busy, packed day, it was an outlet and some downtime sort of away from everyone, even when we were stuck in the same room.

3) I have one appointment today and one major task. The task is laundry... When you run out of clean clothes, it's time to go home. My sincerest apologies to anyone who had to sit too close to us on the plane yesterday! The appointment is a massage. Thanks to my body thinking that it is almost 2:00 in the afternoon instead of 6 am, I already have the laundry well on its way to being done, I am completely unpacked, and now I'm doing this. I am really going to work on not napping today so I can start to get things back on track. I guess I'll just have to go for a hike somewhere with all my extra time, and maybe read some blogs. I may also get to start writing on some blog post ideas that I have right now. Sounds like the perfect day to me!

4) I was a crazy person right before I left on this trip. I kept running last minute errands, and I was going nuts trying to cook some of the food that I had on hand so that I could freeze it rather than throw it out. I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but it is SO worth it on this end. I have a relatively clean house to come home to, I have food that I can just heat up today and I don't have to cook anything or run straight out for groceries right this second. I actually feel like I should be able to be relaxed and ready for work tomorrow! What an awesome way to finish off vacation!

5) Well, it's time. I have to buy a bike. Part of the trip was biking along the Rhein River in Germany and I had so much fun! Granted, that's flat and it isn't flat here, but I really am ready to do some biking out here. I can't wait, but I'm going to have to save some money first, especially after the trip. Definitely by next season, there will need to be a bike in my life.

6) Okay, a little scattered, but we can blame the jet lag ALL day today. Probably tomorrow, too, though we'll see if that's actually true or just a good excuse. Y'all, I am determined to read as many posts as I can, though I may not comment quite as much as usual. I have important tasks in mind for today.

7) Clearly, there should be a photo here. I have no idea which one to add, though!  Let's see....

Well, I still have a whole lot of picture sorting to do, but I do have a misty castle along the Rhein with some vineyards. Is that good enough? (I sure hope so!)

Have a wonderful weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where Light Meets the Darkness

This summer has been a lot going on, and a lot to process. I suppose that's part of why there are fewer posts on here than normal. I know that there have been a lot more people that are much more closely affected by all of the tragedies going on around me; my heart hurts for them more than me in many ways. I think in a lot of ways, that has been the hardest part of the summer. So many people hurting so deeply, and not much that I can do for them. Then there's the reminder that there are no guarantees in life. That's kind of a scary prospect, and I admit that I've had some increased anxiety at times over the summer because of it. I'm working on letting go again, but there you have it.

Here's the thing that is amazing to me, though. Any time that I have been struggling with anything, there tend to be amazing graces in the midst of it. This summer is no different. Friends that are there and willing to step in with prayers, reminders that no matter what, even in death, there is grace. On this end, death and separation is awful and wrong. It wasn't supposed to be this way. But because of the cross, it is also a sign of hope for us, and a reminder that things will be better and it will not always be like this.

I guess what I'm saying is, in the midst of the storms and darkness, the light of grace is there as well. And where the light meets the darkness, there is a promise of hope, healing, and wholeness.

The promise where darkness and light collide.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What's Up?

Hey! I miss y'all! I guess I've just been processing this summer over here, and haven't really figured out what to write or how to write or if to write. Anyway.

First things first, thank you all so much for your prayers for my aunt and our family. I've been so distant from it all and hating that distance, but there have been some real moments of grace in the midst of it all. My aunt died on the 23rd of August, and her funeral was this last weekend. I hate that I didn't get a chance to get back to see her, or for the funeral, because I didn't get to see her one last time and I didn't get to say goodbye. However, in the midst of all of it, there have been some incredible graces as well, and I attribute that to you and all who were praying. Death is awful and wrong, but it is not the end.

Labor Day weekend was a much needed break from work and everything else. Got to go on a beautiful hike with friends on Saturday, relax on Sunday, and then just an awesome unplanned day on Monday. The plan was to meet a friend for a local event in the early morning, and then come back to my house and be all kinds of productive. Instead, we ended up at the gym for a short time to look at her form on the bike since she'd been having pain with riding. Then we decided to go for a short hike. Then we decided to sit by the creek and enjoy the day and chatted for a while. Then we decided to go to lunch. While we were there, we got a text from some friends about climbing later in the afternoon, so we did a little shopping and then on to climb. My to do list is too long, but I regret nothing. It was absolutely wonderful to spend time with friends and let the day unfold as it wanted without paying attention to the clock. I got just enough done on the to do list (I got up a couple hours early) that I could truly enjoy it.

Okay, that's about all I have right now. I know this is a short post and not really put together, but I just wanted to check in. What's up with you all? I've been reading blogs for the most part, and mostly commenting, but still feel free to fill me in on how things are going for you!