Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks, and 7 Quick Takes


1) Wow.  Thank you all SO much!!  I was in a place where I couldn't take it anymore, and felt like the weight of it was going to take me out.  With all of you praying, I now feel that the weight is there, but very manageable because now you're helping me carry it.  I don't mind it so much, and it's great to not feel so alone.  Thank you!

2) Let's talk about Christmas.  Other than an issue with Mass* Christmas was great.  I ate WAY too much and it was all good food.  I did miss my family, but it wasn't as bad as I thought.  I got to spend time with friends that I don't see near enough of.  One friend gave me a little stocking that totally made my day, and I'm loving the wool socks that she put in there.  I'm planning on using them hiking and snowshoeing, but they're also great for a lazy evening at home when my toes are trying to turn into blocks of ice.  My other friend and I did not get our gingerbread house made.  Turns out that we actually had to add water to the icing mix and stir it into the right consistency.  Hello!  That is far too much work.  Luckily we both agreed that sitting around was preferable, so we just got to spend hours talking instead.  Wonderful.

3) Also over Christmas, I finally got out my new camera.  It's partly from my parents and partly a gift to myself.  I'm still working out the kinks, but I'm starting to get some shots that I really like.


4) Love the camera, but it's going to cause problems.  Like... now I need more memory for my computer.  And a telephoto lens might be really fantastic for some of the wildlife.  And maybe a tripod...  Good times.

5) The day after Christmas, I headed up to RMNP.  Found some bighorns in town before I actually got to the park.  I think the bighorns might be the best animals out here.  I think I even like them better than hippos!  (Though they are not quite as fascinating.) 


6) It finally snowed for real around here.  We got an inch or two a couple of times, but this time it was a couple of inches in a couple of hours.  For a while there it was so heavy, you could barely see down the block.  I'm okay with it.  It's amazing how mellow you can be about snow when it's been 50 and it's supposed to be 50 again in a couple of days.  That is not the way it works in the Midwest.  (Okay, so it's not normally quite that nice out here, either, but I'll take the abnormality and be thankful.) I was just excited to eat some mac and cheese and homemade chocolate pudding and watch the pretty snow.  And tomorrow if the sun's back out, I'll take the camera out and see what it can find.

7) Finally, for those of you that have not had the pleasure on facebook, one of my friends had a little different take on the traditional gingerbread men:

Have a wonderful New Year's!!

Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes.

*Okay, fine.  The truth is that Mass was fine.  I was the one with the issue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Survival



The whole point of this blog is to share what's on my mind.  Whether anyone cares to hear it or not is a whole different story... :)  Anyway, recently it's been a much harder place to come to speak my thoughts.  There are several reasons for this.  Like, I have a hard time figuring out what my thoughts are right now, much less how to share them.  Also, I hate being a downer all the time.  It's so bad that some of my friends are afraid to tell me their good news or to talk about their joys.  (Note to my friends: your joy is my joy, feel free to share!!)

It's like this picture I was trying to take the other day.  I was out in the morning light because I love the morning light.  The only problem is that everything I shot overexposed what was in the light and under exposed anything that was slightly shadowed.  So instead of cool shots, I got blown out mountains and dark blobs of trees. Sometimes I think that sharing my thoughts are like painting this blog with the dark blobs of trees. (Notice for the above picture I went in the afternoon- no tree blobs!)

On the other hand, if I talk to people directly, I don't always get down to the feelings that I'm really having, so sometimes there's too much brightness and light there. (Except for my sister, poor thing.  She gets to hear anything and everything I'm thinking AND she reads my blog.)

There are a lot of great things... family, friends, great job, my mountains, good camera and great photo ops, new things to learn (snowshoeing next week!).

Yet, I often feel that I am not living life so much as surviving it.  I am so over alone time.  I hate that the most innocuous comments can bring me crashing down.  There are days that I avoid facebook like the plague.  Praying and going to Mass is an odd experience.  There are days that it touches me a little, but most times, I go and I know it's real, but it doesn't feel like anything.  Same with praying.  I know He's there, but there's not much connection.

I hate that the things that I used to really enjoy are not interesting at all.  I can barely read a book (and I haven't put down books since I started to read- which my parents swear was before kindergarten).  I don't have enough interest to read either fiction or even anything about the Catholic faith.  I wish I felt fired up enough to write an inspired blog post about something.  (Forget inspired, I'd take something with feeling.) For a while there, I was just watching TV, but now I've let a lot of those shows slide, too.  Just not interesting enough.  The last couple of months I've even gotten really bad about showing up to certain things like ENDOW and RCIA.  Sure, I have my reasons, but some of them are pretty lame.

And I hate that I can't move past this all.  Therefore, I've given God two choices.  Things cannot continue how they are.  One choice is to remove this call to marriage that I've been feeling for years, and give me peace and purpose where I am now as a single person.  The other is to bring this calling to fulfillment.  He can do whichever He wants, I just can't keep living in this limbo land.  To be honest, I feel completely helpless to do anything about either one, so He's going to have to come up with some answers one way or the other.

One other thing. Through these last few years, I have come to strongly disagree with the statement that God never gives us more than we can handle.  I think that is the biggest load of crap.  I think He gives us a whole heck of a lot more than we can handle.  I know that I can't handle it.  The thing is that He doesn't leave us alone to handle it.  The biggest thing that He has sent recently is people praying.  I can't even express how humbling it is to know people are praying for you, and I'm horrible about thanking people that have prayed/are praying for me.  But thank you.  Seriously.  I may only be in survival mode right now, but somehow I am surviving and I credit you all.

And if you can spare a prayer, could you please ask God to let me out of this limbo?  I can't keep going like this.  As George Bailey would say, "I want to live again!"*  Okay, a little over dramatic,  but I would like to just be able to appreciate the great life that I have and be able to enjoy the simple things in life again and not hyperventilate when someone makes a little innocent comment. (And just so no one needs to try to mentally review what they might of said, this was a comment at work.  It wasn't any of you.)

*Just had to throw in a little ode to the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Confused Than Ever!


After spending more time on Google (but not much!), and reading other comments of people with good points, I was more confused, not less.*  Therefore, I have no answers for you on the five feasts of Christmas; I only have trees.  I do know that we're still in the Christmas season, so Merry Christmas, Rocky Mountain style!

*If my head explodes from the confusion, it's Rae's fault.  Thanks, Rae! :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Five Christmas Feasts Answers (Sort of)


The priest never did enlighten us on which feasts are the actual ones that he was talking about.  So I have my guesses, but there's an extra, so I could be wrong.  My extensive 3 minute Google search didn't turn up the answers either.  Katie got most of them. 

1) Christmas
2) Feast of the Holy Family
3) Mary, Mother of God
4) The Epiphany

There's consensus with those.  However, there are two more feasts, so I don't know which of them it is.  Joy got one of them, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The other is the Baptism of the Lord.

So either Christmas is on it's own and doesn't count as one of the 5, or one of the other ones doesn't actually count.  

Shoot.  Now I'm curious.  I may have to go spend up to five whole minutes on Google and see if I can find a definitive answer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Five Christmas Feasts


The priest at Mass this morning often works with seminarians.  Recently, he asked his seminarians if they thought most Catholics would be able to list the five Christmas feasts.  To which the seminarians replied, "There are five feasts?"

I guess that answered his question.  Unfortunately, he did not go on to list the feasts, but I think I might know what they are after I thought about it for a while.

Can you list the five Chistmas feasts?  I feel like there should be a prize if you get them all right, but I don't think I have anything to offer but a pat on the back, and the satisfaction that you were able to list them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Advent Prayer Buddy Reveal!

It has been my privilege this Advent to pray for Maria and her husband in their journey, and in particular for her three intentions.  As I looked back through some of her blog posts, I can see that deep desire that she has, and it was a joy to pray for her.

Maria, you were my special intention at morning and evening prayer, and at the Masses that I went to this Advent.  Thank you for letting me share your journey in this way, and I'll still be praying for you!  I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the Fog

I have to admit that there have been a lot of times in the last few years that I've been hanging out in the fog.  I feel like I have lost some part of myself, and I can catch glimpses of me sometimes, but not always.

I'm thinking about the fog today because there is such a heavy fog/mist today that I can't see anything of the mountains.  I know they're there, but I can't see them at all.  My desires seem to have become that fog obscuring God.  I don't feel that I can know His will right now.  But if I can't, it's because I'm not ready or willing or able to let go of my own desires long enough to see His.

In many ways this Advent has been a very good thing.  Although I still don't feel that I can quite pray how I should (wholeheartedly saying, "Thy will be done", no matter what His will is), I'm feeling a little closer to that.  I got a picture the other day that really captures Advent for me this year.

The fog is still there, but the sun is shining and the mountains are beginning to take more shape.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Prayer Buddies,

First of all, thanks so much to TCIE and JBTC for organizing prayer buddies this year for Advent.  I needed it a lot.

To my prayer buddy that I'm praying for:  Thanks for letting me be a part of your journey.  I remember you morning and night with morning and evening prayer, and pray that this has been a blessed Advent to you.  It has been so wonderful to have the opportunity to pray for someone else and has helped me to keep my mind off myself quite as much.

To my prayer buddy that's praying for me:  Thank you so much!  It really means a lot to me to know that someone out there is praying for me.  An intention of mine for this week is for not just surviving the holidays, but to truly be able to rejoice.  I'm really trying to be in that frame of mind, but I'm apprehensive because this is the first Christmas away from my family and it's been a pretty intense fall with struggling with the single thing.

To everyone else:  I'm still praying for you, too!  I really appreciate this experience because it has made it a lot easier to remember all the people that need prayer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What They Said

I think I should give up blogging.  Not that I am. (Ha!  Like you'd get rid of me that easily!)  But really, I should.  The reason that I say this is that I've been struggling with some questions on prayers.  I write a little blog post about it, nothing serious, and nothing that really gets to the heart of my questions or struggles.  Then over the last week or so, I've read a ton of great posts on prayer, and the comments are fantastic as well.

Maggie and TCIE both wrote very honest posts with honest questions.  I loved both posts, because they are questions that I have as well.

I was also a huge fan of Jennifer's post.  Along with trying to figure out praying, I've got this feeling of being stuck.  I can't seem to get to where I'm going (or even know where that is).  Sometimes, that's where God can work because I'm finally out of the way.

Finally, Young Mom has a great post (she often does have great posts).  It's too easy sometimes to think that what I'm going through is unique.  It is unique in a way, but it's unique like everyone else's crosses are unique. We all have something.  We all struggle.

I think there were some others, but those were the ones that really stuck out to me recently.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perseverance in Prayer (Thoughts of a VERY Levelheaded Christian)

I admit it, I can get a bit of an attitude sometimes.  I can do it with anyone, and someone telling me what to do is just the thing to make me to tell them that I will not be doing that, whatever "that" may be at the time.  You know those people that will do anything for their friends or family?  I'm not one of those.  I'll likely help if you ask (and if you're not asking for something silly), but if you tell me, there is a contrary streak that rises up every time.  I'd say I can't control it, but who knows?  I'm not sure I've ever tried.

I'm contrary with God, too.  Sometimes, when I pray for something and He doesn't answer, I narrow my eyes and say "Fine! Be that way!  I'll just pray some more!  So there!"  (Yes, I'm very mature for my age; 30 going on 5...)

Huh...

WAIT!  You don't think God knows reverse psychology do you???

Honestly, I don't know why He answers some prayers and not others.  I don't like to wait and not know when or if there's going to be some awesome answer for something.  Somedays it makes me feel closer to Him to keep praying, and sometimes it makes me feel worn out, like my knuckles are getting raw from knocking at the door and I've sent myself on a fool's errand.

I know that there are those out there that think I'm a fool Christian to pray.  If you are one of those, will you please tell me?  You can even tell me to stop if you want! It might give me the motivation I need to keep going...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I read a post today that broke my heart.  There was no way to leave a comment or an email.  I wanted to, but I was also glad that I couldn't.  Because that depth of pain is not something words can fix.

One of the things questioned was why God answers some prayers and not others.  Why God seems to love some people, but not others.

I don't know. (See how helpful I could have been?)  I don't understand.  The cry of this woman's heart is similar to my own in many ways, though every story and every person's pain is uniquely their own.  I don't get why God's plan for some people is so amazing and clear cut, and others He "forgets".

There is nothing that I could have said to her that would have helped, but I wish I could give her a hug.

The Catholic Church and the Media

There is always so much to be said when it comes to the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.  I haven't written too much on it myself, because where's the line?  There was abuse that happened and was mishandled.  But also there were articles that clearly seemed to misrepresent the Catholic Church and vilify some of the people more than they deserved. I read a great article today in the National Catholic Reporter here.  It doesn't pull punches on some of the places where the Catholic Church screwed up, but neither does it let the media off the hook.  It also gives a little insight into where and how and why some things are getting blown out of proportion.  It's a little on the long side, but a great read if you, like myself, were left wondering what the straight story was earlier this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Miracle of H2O


I think that we all know that I believe in God and respect science.  They have never been opposing or competing entities as far as I am concerned.  The more that I learned in my science classes (the ones taught by my liberal, evolution-embracing college, not the ones in my creationist high school background) the more fascinated I was with the world around me.  And the more that I was in awe of God.  To me, understanding more about science does not render God obsolete.  Rather I love the world that He created all the more.

Water fascinates me.  The water molecule is a little like an upside down "V", with the oxygen at the apex  and the two little hydrogens at each end.  There is a slight polarity or charge to this molecule, and forgive me, I can't remember which is which.  But the oxygen is either a slightly negative or slightly positive because of the way that the molecule comes together (I think negative, but am clearly too lazy to look it up right now).  The hydrogen, then, is the opposite.

This is amazing!  You know why?  Molecules are always moving, even in whatever so-called solid object that you see.  In a solid object, they're stuck in one place, but they're vibrating. In a liquid, they are able to freely slide past each other.  In a gas, they are moving even more.  As things get colder, the molecules get closer and closer together, until they finally stop being able to slide past each other, and now they are a solid.

Most solids are more dense than liquids, because the molecules are so close together, closer than in the liquid form when they can move freely through space.  Water, however, is the exception. As it gets closer together, the positive charge of the hydrogen (or negative- whichever!) is attracted to the opposite charge of the oxygen.  Therefore, as water starts to freeze, it forms a lattice, a little like this:

VVV
VVVV
VVV
VVVV

Pretty rough "drawing", I know, but the idea is that each of the points lines up with one of the ends.  This means that ice is actually less dense than water, which makes it float to the top. (Also this is what makes ice expand, and why you cracked whatever full container of water that you've tried to freeze.)

Think what this means to life!  Because ice floats to the top, fish and other marine life can continue to live at the bottom of a frozen lake until spring.  If ice sunk, instead of getting a nice insulating layer of ice on top, eventually the whole lake would freeze.  Then it's bye bye to all the little fishies.  Actually, you wouldn't be able to sustain life on the planet if it weren't for hydrogen bonding.

How's that? Clear as mud?  It's the best I've got.  But back to my original point.  There are those that say that we know how water "works", it's not some god running the show, it's just a simple scientific phenomenon that can be explained by hydrogen bonding.  No "god" of any sort needed.

And I say, "Wow, God, that hydrogen bonding thing You came up with was genius!"

Because, once again, you can say it all happened by chance if you want.  But for life to exist there are a lot of things that had to come together in a certain time and a certain way.  Me?  I just don't believe in that many coincidences.

In conclusion: ice is cool!*









*Lame, I know. But you're still reading, so... :)

P.S.  Why do we put God in a box?  Why do some think "God created the world, therefore evolution could not have happened"; while others say "Science clearly shows evolution and explains x, y, and z, therefore there is no god"?  Those "therefores" are a load of crap!  They're non sequiturs. What, God only had a hand in it if He pulled the world out of His hat like a magician or snapped His fingers like a genie? Tell me one good reason that He couldn't have created using a process!  As to God being superfluous to the process, see above about the coincidences. There are good arguments both for and against the existence of God; these two are nonsense. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekend Again

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but weekends and I are on shaky ground right now.  It's been a while since I've needed a weekend as bad as I do this one, but now I'm not sure that I want it.

Weekends and I are very much in a love-hate relationship right now.  I wouldn't last if I always worked, but I'm not sure if this is worth it anymore.  Weekends have been bad off and on for a long time (there's one in 2008 that I will never forget- as pathetic as that is to admit).  For most of the time I think I would block out the fact that there is a significant portion of weekends that sucks.  Not the whole thing.  I often have something planned that is fun.  I enjoy the sleeping in part and the getting away from work part.  I enjoy spending time with friends or getting a chance to hike.  That's the love part of the relationship.

The hate part is the unrelenting loneliness of the weekends.  At least at my job, there is some kind of meaning and purpose to my life.  I often get to help people get better.  It's rewarding and challenging and there are people to talk to. At night, I have enough time to wind down, but then it's bed time.  I can go to bed and get up to another day.

On the weekends, time with friends or talking to family on the phone is an activity that pushes things back for a while, but it always comes back.  This Friday, I would love to curl up on the couch with my significant other and watch a movie... but I don't have a significant other. (I guess I don't have a couch, either, but that would be a much easier fix.)  I love hiking on the weekends, but it's not as fun when you're not with someone.  Not to mention that it can be a little unnerving at times.  And I'm really tired of going to church by myself.

These things are not good, but the worst part is the way that I get inside my own head and everything magnifies and intensifies.  The fear that it will never change.  All the things that I have surely done wrong or that are wrong with me that make me the only person on the planet that can't seem to find a mate (yes, a horrible and stupid exaggeration, but welcome to my weekend). I'm also scared that I'll find someone, but it won't be in time (why, hello, Biological Clock, when did you start ticking?)

I have a confession.  As much as I have been mostly loving Advent (especially when I am not so tired), I am scared spitless by the idea of Christmas.  The holidays are like the weekends on steroids!  Like weekends, they have very good parts to them (and I'm looking forward to a fun time on Christmas that will include a ginger bread house and- hopefully- will not include wood glue!)  But no matter how awesome my time is with friends or family, there is a hole in my heart that they cannot fill.

I feel like I should have a better handle on it.  If I could control my thoughts better and not focus on the negativity, then the weekend probably wouldn't be so negative.  But do you know how ridiculously hard it is to do that in the moment?  I never doubt that God has a plan for me.  I frequently doubt that it will be the one I want.  But if it is not His plan for me to be married, then I really wish He would help me figure out some greater meaning and purpose to my life.  I do believe that I am called to marriage, so I feel completely unfulfilled at the moment.  And I have to question, is that God's calling, or my desire?

Okay, that's enough.  More than enough. Sorry to drop into Eeyore mode on you.  I think I'd better go to bed. Sleep will not hurt my mood, and maybe tomorrow I can find the strength to refocus my thoughts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent

(My apologies for horrible grammar in this post, but I don't have time to fix it right now!)

Lent, I know.  But Advent?  I feel like I'm still figuring it out.  I am loving it this year, though, all few days we've had of it so far.

I think this season has been highlighted this year by a conversation that we had with an aunt and uncle over Thanksgiving.  My aunt is Mormon, and she said that they won't really have Christmas service, but they'll probably mention it some in their normal Sunday service the next day.  My uncle said it was similar in his church (not really sure what he and his wife are denominationally at this point... maybe Church of Christ?).  Whatever it is, they are not preparing anything special at their church for Christmas either.  Both of their families do celebrate Christmas at home, just not really as a church family.

My eyes may have bugged a little, but I think I managed to keep my mouth shut at the time and not blurt anything too crazy.  But I haven't been able to forget it.  How can you more or less skip Christmas?  I know that some people have their reasons, but Christmas and Easter are big touch points for me that remind me of who Christ is, and therefore who I am as a Christian.  I absolutely love the fact that there is a period of preparation for these celebrations, and that when the day comes there is liturgy that focuses on the wonder of what happened.  I also love that there is a Christmas season and an Easter season.  Even my Protestant friends that have Christmas and Easter services, I could never quite wrap my head around the way that their celebration was that day then it's over.

Anyway, back to Advent itself.  One of the things that I decided to do this year was to try to pray the liturgy of the hours each day.  I think that has really helped me to understand this time better.  It is a period of waiting, waiting for the remembrance and celebration for His first coming, but also very intensely in this first part of Advent, waiting for His second coming.

Waiting is my state of life, so I'm finding myself at home here in Advent.  But there is a difference in Advent.  I often feel completely alone in my waiting, but here I am waiting with the entire Church.  I often feel hopeless in my waiting, but here I wait with hope and confidence, knowing that Christ did come and He will come again.

Another reason that I do not feel so alone in my waiting is that I've had a great opportunity to pray for someone else who is also waiting, and who is also not sure what their outcome will be.  Our situations are not the same, but I know what it is to feel called to something and not to be sure whether it will happen. I do not know their pain, because no one can truly understand what someone else is going through, but I know that it is painful.

So, yeah.  Really liking Advent this year.  I'm finding myself not wanting to get my Christmas decorations out yet, and cringing at the Christmas music at work.  Not because I'm not excited for Christmas, but because I'm not ready for it yet.  I want to soak up the richness of this season first.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Am Thankful for...

It may be cliche this time of year, but there are so many things to be thankful for that I thought I should write some out.  So here are some of the things that I am thankful for, in no particular order.

1) For a great week of getting to see family and friends.
2) For baby smiles and the laughter of small children.
3) For my 16 year old sister who got confirmed last week and who is in love with her faith.
4) For my goofy little brother.
5) For a fantastic job with a fun group of coworkers.
6) For mostly good traveling weather; the ice in Missouri didn't get too bad.

7) For a mother who loves me, even though I can be a pain sometimes.
8) For the liturgy (both Mass and Liturgy of the Hours); and especially right now the way that it celebrates Advent, then Christmas and the Christmas season. 
9) For a God that deals in extravagant beauty, even if it will only last a few minutes and not everyone will see it.  (These are the clouds at sunrise one morning last week.)



10) For one last day of Thanksgiving vacation; and that this day will be spent at home being lazy.  I even got my unpacking done last night right when I got home so that it would be more relaxing. (Usually it takes me a week to get everything put away.) 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels to wherever you're going.  I also hope your weather forecast is better than ours. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Precocious Much?

My sister recently met a two year old that has an intense interest in reptiles, sea creatures and dinosaurs.  She shared some great quotes, but my favorite is (while looking for a favorite toy):

"Where's my squishy pwedatowy iguana?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Walking and Texting (A Theory)

We all know that driving and texting is horribly distracting and is as likely to cause an accident as drunk driving.  I have a theory that walking and texting could also be a little disastrous.  Maybe not people dying disastrous (unless you're walking on the edge of a cliff or crossing a road), but problematic nonetheless.

Now I cannot stress enough that this is a theory.

Absolutely, totally, completely hypothetical.


For example:

What if you were texting people while you tried to iron out details of an upcoming visit. You'd be distracted by working out the specifics, right?  So you might not notice when you return to your apartment that you only went up one flight of stairs instead of two.

Now, texting is so distracting that you might not even think about how weird it is that your key doesn't turn in your lock, and if you really weren't thinking you might automatically reach for the doorknob and try to open the door.

In fact, if it weren't for the fact that that apartment has stairs where yours has a hallway, you might have walked into a stranger's apartment.  That's how far the texting distraction can take you. In any case, at whatever point you come out of this texting daze, you will realize that the high heeled, loud, slippery boots you are wearing are not ideal for the quick and quiet fleeing of the scene that you will now have to undertake.

Ahem.

That's my theory anyway.

I guess we'll never know for sure unless someone decides to test out this theory. Me?  I think walking and texting is too dangerous.  I would never do such a thing.

Never.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Spoonerism

I'm a huge fan of spoonerisms, named after William Archibald Spooner.  Apparently, there are very few substantiated slips of the tongue, but he is accredited with saying lots of things, like:

"It is now kisstomary to cuss the bride."

"The Lord is a shoving leopard."

This weekend, I went with some friends to a Scott Hahn lecture, and he shared a fantastic spoonerism by an abbot.  Apparently, this abbot was the main celebrant at a Mass in a basilica.  We're talking packed house and bishops and cardinals con-celebrating.

At the end of Mass, he said, "This ass is mended, let us go in peace."

So much truth in the slip of a tongue sometimes.
It was supposed to be so easy.

Grow up, graduate from high school, go to college, meet someone, get married and start the cycle all over again with kids of my own.

For whatever reason, that doesn't seem to be working out for me.

My mom once asked if I was being too picky.  Well, Mom, it's not like I'm beating men away with a stick.  I don't have certain qualifications for looks, height, amount of money that he makes or anything like that.  It is true that I'm looking for a nice guy that is willing to put God first.  If that's being too picky, then I'll be too picky, even if it means dying an old maid.

Since college, I was excited about the day that I would meet "The One".  To be honest, I'm glad I didn't meet him right away.  I'm glad that I was forced to get out of my box and learn how to go meet people even when it wasn't easy.  I'm glad that I had a chance to grow in my faith at a time when I could really focus on just that.  I'm glad that I had a chance to learn what Theology of the Body was all about.  I'm glad I had a chance to learn to open up to friends and be vulnerable with them, even though it sometimes meant getting a little hurt.  I'm glad that God chose to heal a deep seated question about my true worth before I got married.

You see, that was one of the problems that I had for a long time with being single.  I was desperate to meet a guy, because I needed the world to know that I was truly worth marrying.  I needed to know that I was worth that.  But what kind of a burden is that to put on a man?  My worth comes from God, and He was the One that convinced me of that.  Now if I get married, he won't have to keep trying to convince me of my worth.

But now?  I was thinking that I just wanted this pain to stop one way or the other.  Either that I would FINALLY meet someone, or that I would not desire it so much.  Instead, the pain just keeps getting worse.

I hate writing about it here sometimes.  I feel like such a whiner.  I know that I am not alone in my pain.  I know that other people also have plenty of pain in their lives, some more, some less.  I know that sometimes I can't see what other people are going through because I am too focused on myself.  That's not who I like to be.  And it's not what I like to show here (even though there is plenty of complaining in the archives), but it's a big part of my life right now.

I now miss the days when I was single, and didn't really want to be, but it was still a lot of fun.

God is faithful, and He has been in every moment of this journey, even though I am often not faithful to Him.  Though I don't particularly like this journey I have learned a couple of things that I am glad to know.

I have had a personal relationship with God for a long time, but it is not until the last few years, in the midst of this, that He has become my Beloved.  A lot of that happened in being completely honest with Him.  Crying out to Him that I was hurting, and He could change it, so why wouldn't He?  Telling Him that I was angry with Him for not changing it, that I couldn't see where He was going with it, and that I couldn't do it anymore.  But then, if you tell Him that you want Him to be there and a part of your life, even when you're still mad, He will be there.  He'll be there through all of it.  He often doesn't make the pain stop, but He'll be there.  It takes so much pressure off knowing that I don't have to have all the feelings sorted out.  He's big enough for my questions, my pain, my anger, but if I still want Him there, He is.  If I feel I can't trust Him anymore, but tell Him that I want Him to help me with that, He will.  He does.  Always.

I have also learned that sometimes just getting through the day is enough.  The days that it's really bad and I can't do much about it, it's okay.  If I can't shower (that doesn't happen often) or the place is a mess (okay, that happens kind of a lot), I try not to beat myself up over it.  Sometimes, it's all you can do just to make it from one moment to the next.

Another thing.  I love the liturgy, both the Mass and the liturgy of the hours.  I love that when I don't have the words, there are words there for me.  I love that the Mass is living out the Scriptures, and I wouldn't make it through without the Eucharist.  I can't even imagine my life without that.  And I love praying the Scriptures in the liturgy of the hours.  So worth it.  And I have to say, it is in the moments that the pain is the worst that God touches me the most in the Mass.

Also, I don't think that I do a very good job of it, but I love that when there is pain, it can become prayer. It can have a purpose.  I love that with Paul, we have the opportunity to "make up what is lacking" in Christ's sacrifice through our suffering (Col. 1:24).

Some days (especially on evenings and/or weekends) it is awfully easy for me to feel hopeless, but there are a lot of things that I am thankful for about this time.

It still can't be over fast enough.

(I can't do comments today, even though you all can be so wonderfully encouraging.  Prayers all always appreciated, and they do help, so thanks so much!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Confession

Is there ever something in the back of your mind that you sort of know about yourself, but you refuse to admit it until you're confronted by the facts and you can't deny it anymore unless you want to flirt with denial on a psychiatric level?

'Cause I had one of those revelations today.

Are you ready?

Are you sure that you won't stop reading my blog when you find this out?

If you're not sure, then don't continue, because I don't want to lose you over this!

Okay, here goes.




I like hippos.


It would make more sense to like bears.  As dangerous as they can be, they're much cuter.



Or seals.  They're cute and playful.


Or elephants.  I mean, at least they can do tricks.


But hippos?  They're big, smelly, mean and funny looking.  


I'm really not sure what the fascination is.  I really liked all the other animals, too, but for some reason the hippo caught my eye.  I mean, it's not like I'm looking for a pet or anything, but I don't know.  Maybe it's just the novelty.

Could be worse.

At least it wasn't the rhino.










Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Update of Odds and Ends

It has now been over 5 months since I moved.  I can't believe how fast it's all going!  I'm really starting to feel like I'm getting in the flow at work.  I really enjoy my coworkers and the PT closest to me in age is starting to feel more like a friend.  This fall has had its ups and downs.  Expenses have been up, and income has been down due to some slower times in the clinic.   It's all working out so far, though.  Just not getting to put extra toward my student loan like I want to, and I have to stay far, far away from REI and all the fantastic outdoor clothes and stuff that they have and that I want.

I was able to email a little with my former bosses and discuss some things that had been on my mind in the process of leaving there and coming here.  I really do think that they are fantastic people and have a fantastic company.  Tying up the loose ends just really helped bring some closure to some lingering questions that I'd had and has really helped me move forward.  I also think that it helped for them to know exactly what happened, because I left in kind of a hurry.

I'm starting to feel more at home.  I have my go-to hikes when I don't have much time but just want to get out.  I'm enjoying my ENDOW group, and though I've only been with the hiking group a few times, I've really enjoyed that as well.  We had a little hike today that was orientation so that we would have a better idea of what the group offered and how to take advantage of it all.  I met several people that I really hope I get the chance to know better.

And I absolutely love my mountains.  They can be anyone else's mountains, too, but they are my mountains.  I've been back to the Midwest a couple of times in the last few months and I go back again in a few weeks.  I always get so excited to see family and friends, but it makes me a little sad to leave the mountains.  And glad to come back!  I get a little itchy if I haven't gotten to go up in them for a few days.  Even if it's just the little canyon just down the street, that's all I need.  I'm excited to try snow shoeing, but we're going to need some more snow if that's going to happen.

Oooh! One other thing with work... We just moved into our new clinic and it is beautiful. It is so nice to work in such a well-planned space.  I absolutely love my treatment room.  Partly because it's mine.  I got to arrange it the way that I wanted and pick the shelves and things.  My favorite part is that I got some frames and hung up some of my hiking pictures.  They've been a big hit, and one of my patients actually asked me if I picked them myself, or if someone picked them for me.  I got to tell her that I took them, so that was fun.  The compliments may be going to my head, but I'm definitely thinking that if the expenses around here ever calm down, I'd love to get a nicer camera.  My resolution's so bad that even if I get a great picture, 5x7 is the most that I can blow it up.

The fly in the ointment is that loneliness is still killing me bit by bit.  Some days I'm fine and everything's great.  Other days I'm a complete mess.  It's possible that moving has maybe made parts of it a little more dramatic, but given that the last 3 years have been really tough, I can't blame it only on moving.  It's been that way before I moved, and I knew it would be like that here, too.  This is not really the kind of thing that you can move away from or that is caused only by moving. I have friends out here, so that's not really it.  It's more coming home to that empty apartment.  I've had to limit some of my facebook and blogging* just to get through, so that's why I haven't always been leaving as many comments.  Prayers are definitely appreciated, and I'm thankful for my friends that have been praying for me, because this week was definitely better than last, so thanks for that!




*I know there's been some recent discussion about new mothers or expecting mothers or whoever either being worried that they are focusing to exclusively on their children when they blog.  My opinion?  I can't always read it because sometimes it hurts too much, but it doesn't mean that I'm not happy for you.  Furthermore, I think that a lot of us blog to share some part of our lives.  That is your life, and it is one of the most beautiful and important parts of your life.  I really think that you should share it, and I do enjoy reading it on days that I can.

That being said, I appreciated a post of Rae's that sought to include everyone on her blog as much as possible.  It's nice to feel included! :) I also really appreciated Young Mom's strategy of putting something about pregnancy in the title of the post so that those of us that maybe are struggling for various reasons can decide if we're up for it before we read.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brothers

My sister T and her friend R were walking to class the other day.  As they passed one neighborhood home, a friendly cat came out looking for attention.  R obliged and reached down to pet her.

A little boy came out of the house.

"Do you like her?  Her name is Lizzy, and you can have her if you want."

Another boy, slightly smaller, appears and frantically waves the first boy over.  A whispered conversation ensues.

The boy came back, a little more subdued.

"Never mind. My brother wants to keep his cat."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Sacra-Mentality

In talking to non-Catholic Christians, I am always aware that we have a slightly different world view or mentality.  In many things, we agree.  We believe in one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We believe that Jesus came into the world as a man to save us from our sins.  Those are the basics, but there are many things that are just a little different.

Take a look at these two statements:

1) There is a physical and a spiritual world.  Life is a battle between the two, and our goal is to eventually shed the constraints of our physical body, so that our spiritual soul may be happy forever with God.

2) Matter is a good thing, and leads us to God.

Which feels more "right" to you?


The first is actually an expression of Gnostic or Manichean heresy from the early centuries of the Church. The second is the one that is more in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church (but greatly oversimplified, I grant you).

In Genesis, God created the world, and He said, "It is good."  He created man and He said, "It is very good."  This is the beginning of our basis to see the physical world as a good thing.  It is true that sin followed and the original harmony of the world with God was distorted.  However, I do not think sin could make something that was inherently good suddenly become inherently bad.  That is giving too much credit to sin, and not enough to God.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen and C.S. Lewis both had quotes (which I can't remember exactly and have no clue where to find them, but I give them credit for the idea) that pointed out that evil is not original.  Evil takes a good thing and causes there to be an excess of that thing, a lack of that thing, or a perversion of that thing.  A good example of this is food.  Too much food is bad.  Too little food is bad.  All the wrong kinds of food, or food that is barely food because it is so full of preservatives and processed whatnot is bad.  But the right kind and right amount of food is good.  It heals, restores and sustains us.  A meal with family and friends can bring us closer together.  Good food can bring us closer to God.

Fun with friends (yes, even with alcohol, as long as it is not too excessive) is good, and God is present in the midst of it.

Nature is good and brings us closer to God.

People can be a means of bringing us closer to God.

The idea of sacramentality is the idea that the invisible reality of God is made visible through the visible reality of His creation.  It is the idea that humans are both physical and spiritual.  Our physical body is not some sin-ridden flesh to be disposed of ASAP.  Our physical body is an essential part of what makes us who we are, it is an expression of our invisible soul.

Our worship is an expression of this sacramentality.  Sacraments themselves, in a special way, allow us to express this.  Physical means are used, but spiritual reality is happening.  When Jesus said we should be born from above of water and the Spirit (see John 3:5), this is what we believe is happening at baptism.  Physically a person is washed in water, and through the Spirit, that water of new birth actually brings about the thing that it symbolizes: the new birth of that person into Christ.

In the Mass, we sit, we stand, we kneel.  We hear the Word of God proclaimed, and we speak the prayers.  We may smell incense.  We certainly taste, literally, the goodness of God.  Our visible, physical worship with our bodies is the expression of the worship of our souls.  Sacramentality means that we worship with the whole of who we are, body and soul.

The other thing that I love is that even though this sacramentality is all about touching and feeling, touchy-feely emotions are a secondary thing.  Which is to say that at the Mass, somedays I feel lifted up, some days I feel let down, and some days I feel nothing at all.  But the reality of what is present is still true.  I can fully worship when I feel nothing, or when I am upset or tired or distracted.  Because that worship is about me being present and taking part to the best of my ability, it is not about me feeling "worshipful".

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sahara

I loved that movie, Sahara.  The one with Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn.  Entirely unrealistic, but fun nonetheless.  Never thought I'd get a chance to visit the Sahara myself...







Wait... what's in the corner of the last one?



Never mind.  No desert trip for me, just hanging out in Colorado. Seriously, if you ever get a chance to go  to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, you should check it out.  It's surreal to see that much sand in the middle of the mountains.  Personally, I maybe wouldn't suggest middle of the summer.  They say the surface temperatures of the sand can get up to 140 degrees.  Too hot for my blood!



I went in the fall, which was perfect for going barefoot.



I don't know which mountain this is, and I didn't quite catch it in the right light, but I really liked the snow on top and the fall colors, especially the ones that you can tell follow the stream.



Then, on a plant that looked dead, there were these.





There's probably a lesson about thriving in the desert when it doesn't seem possible that anything could grow.  Personally, I just thought they were pretty.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Universal Church

I have been thinking about the Catholic Church, and what it means to be "universal".

Here is what I think.  I think that there is a Church that is built on the cornerstone of Christ, with the apostles and prophets as the foundation.  On that foundation is a building built with living stones... each of us. (See Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5)  I do believe that if you had to peg a church as that Church, it is the Catholic Church.  But I do not believe that all the living stones are Catholics.

What it takes to be a living stone is to be alive in Christ.  Every Christian who has new life in Christ is a living stone.  Every Jew before the time of Christ who was faithful because of the One Who would come, is alive in Christ.  They are living stones.  Naaman and Rahab, who sought the true God, are living stones. Every person who, for whatever reason, is not Christian, but lives a life of love and truth can be a living stone.

It is only in the grace of Christ that we can be saved.  But we all know that goodness, rightness, truth and love are not only found in those of a Judeo-Christian background.  And I believe where these things are found, Christ is found.  Of course, no matter what we call ourselves, if we live in a disconnect with the grace of Christ, we are not living stones. Ultimately, a decision will have to be made, whether in this life or upon entering the next.  For Christ or against Him. But anyone who is truly and humbly seeking Truth and Love is for Christ.  They are living stones.

And that is one small piece of what I think it means to have a universal Church.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Splendor of the Church

In this world that we live in, it's hard to focus on the splendor of the Church.  It's far easier to focus on the squalor of the Church, the sin of the people within.

In spite of the sin... No, wait.  That is utterly and completely wrong.  Because of the sin of all the people, especially my own, I glory in the splendor of the Church.  The Church is not splendid because of the people within in.  It is bigger than the people, and its splendor lies in Christ.  It is the light of the nations because it brings Christ to the nations.

What does it mean to preach the Gospel? Can you define the Gospel?  The Gospel, the Good News, is so much more than the teachings of Christ or the story of the life of Christ. It is a revelation of Christ Himself. (See Galatians 1:12).

I glory in the Church because when I cannot take it anymore, I can fall at the feet of Jesus, and He is there. Like me, the people around me are broken. Some of us because of our sin, some because of the circumstances of life, but all in need of help.  All of us have fallen short, from the priest at the altar to every last one of us in the pews.  The splendor is in the fulness of Truth Who awaits us at the altar.  It is in the One that welcomes us, loves us and heals us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bible Study

Lucky for me, I have an amazing friend who is willing to do Bible study with me. We had Bible study by phone tonight, and I needed it. It was so fantastic to be able to discuss the Bible with her again.

When I moved out here, I started a blog that we hoped to continue doing Bible discussions. I lasted about a week or two and dropped it. Now I'm going to start writing some of my thoughts as I study the book of Hebrews with her. It's a highly informal study, so it's just a couple of people's thoughts on what they are thinking as they read the Bible. No great scholarly insights, no real structure, just discussion. If by chance you might like to join the discussion, feel free! Just read the first chapter of Hebrews, and share any thoughts you might have. If you want to do more than just leave a comment, let me know. I'll be happy to put up a post, too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why God Matters, A Book Review

About a month ago, I was asked if I would read and review a book, Why God Matters by Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steve Lumbert (father and daughter). I figured that I'm always up to read a book, so I thought I would check it out to see what I thought.

It's a simple little book, and each chapter is a story about big and little events in the lives of these two people. These are events that touched them in some way and meant something on their faith journey. Like all personal stories of faith, their story can have relevance to others going through a variety of things. I especially liked some of the quotes from Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that went along with the stories.

It's a short book and each chapter is short. It can be read one story at a time to allow a person to think about it, or it can be read all at once, and it flows very quickly.

Overall, I liked it okay, but I have to admit that it wasn't my favorite. I think it's more due to the fact that devotional books "Life Lesson" type boxes after every story are not my personal cup of tea. However, the quotes are great, and I liked the personal faith stories that were shared. I always think it's great to see how God is working in others' lives as well. It's a good reminder that we are not alone in the journey and can always learn from others. For more, you can check out the website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Dim Bulb Moment

It may be possible that I like the liturgy a little bit. It may also be possible that I enjoy finding out about the Jewish roots that anchor our understanding of our faith. Still I miss things sometimes. Actually, I'm not sure if I've noticed this before, and just forgot that I knew about it or what. (It would be really embarrassing if I blogged about it before and then forgot that I knew it and got excited and blogged about it again...)

Anyway, when I read about the Jewish liturgy before the time of Christ, you always hear about "the holy place" in the Temple. Today, at RCIA, Father was talking about the different parts of the church, and he mentioned the sanctuary. As a Catholic, I'm familiar with the term for where the altar and tabernacle and everything is. Father was then talking about how "sanctus" meant "holy". It dawned on me that, like the Jews of old, we have a holy place! I love it. (This is also why, though I think that many such churches do bring people to Christ, you will not find me in a place where the pastor stands on a "stage".)

Not only that, but "tabernacle" means "tent". This, of course, brings to mind John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." It also recalls the tent of the Jews in the desert. We, like the wandering Jews, are still on a journey, searching for the Promised Land. The Jews' search ended and the permanent temple was built in Jerusalem. Our search will not end until the new Jerusalem, in a holy place not built by human hands (see Hebrews 9).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also, this is unrelated, but makes me laugh. We were talking about the alcoves where the statues and candles are. It reminded me of a comment I read recently about a Catholic that likes to earnestly exclaim to objecting non-Catholic Christians, "But we don't worship Mary! We worship statues of Mary."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Sister's Would Be Matchmaker

We all know that I am dying to meet a man, fall in love, get married and have about half a dozen kids. (Four would work, too.) My sister is seven years younger than me, and she is in the same position, only she would like to go for the full dozen kids. So you can see that she needs to get married soon!

Good news in her situation! She has a self-appointed matchmaker, who we will call Father B. (Because he's a priest, and his name starts with a B.) I love Father B. He's a big man with a big laugh and a big heart. When he stands up for the opening prayer, he opens the prayer book and backs way up. Just when you're sure there's no possible way he could read the words in the book, no matter how far sighted he must be, he stops and prays. His homilies are the best because he cracks himself up. When he laughs, I know that I will laugh. He has the best laugh ever. Deep, rolling. Awesome. Even confession with him was the funniest confession I've ever been a part of. Hard to feel quite as contrite when you have to laugh.

He is burning up with love for God. He may joke his way through the homily, but he's always going to give an great point to ponder. When it comes to the Eucharistic prayer and the consecration, the laughter is put aside and his reverence is almost palpable. He also has a deep love for Mary.

He's been my grandparents' priest for a year or two now, which is how I've been able to go to a couple of Masses with him. He is now my sister's priest as well since she moved to that area a couple of months ago. A few days after she moved, I got a text from her: "Father B is trying to set me up."

Apparently there is a nice Catholic gentleman in the area (a firefighter, I think) that Father thinks needs to be set up with a nice Catholic young lady teacher. Great, right? ... Except for the fact that there are TWO Catholic young lady teachers that recently moved to the area, and Father doesn't seem to care much which one gets set up with the firefighter. Not only that, but the firefighter, last we knew, was still dating someone else! (Though he apparently wasn't all that serious about her... how we have all this info, I don't really know.)

Ahh, the single life with all the helpful people. :)

On the serious side, please pray for my sister to find the man she is to marry. I have never met anyone more fit for the married life and raising children. (Personally, I think it would be fantastic to have her marry the firefighter with Father B officiating...) Also, please pray for Father B. He is a man living out a vocation in a way that can set many others on fire for God, so he could use all the prayer cover he can get!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blogger and I are not great friends right now. I've tried leaving comments on several posts, to no avail! Arrgh! So if you wrote a blog but I didn't comment, I really probably did. It just wouldn't publish. Although, there was a wordpress blog in there too that also ate my comment. I wonder if this will actually post??

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Believe in God

I think atheists are very reasonable people. Of course, they are widely varying types of people like everyone else, but the ones that I have had some sort of contact with are thoughtful and intellectual. Some have contempt for those that believe in a god, others pity, but by and large many have good and thoughtful reasons for what they believe. I really wouldn't want to take on many of their arguments. I guess I'm not quite sure how to meet their arguments on their terms (that there is no god). Of course, by the same token, their arguments fail to convince me because they don't meet me on my terms (that there is a God).

For example, today I was reading a post in which the question was asked to atheists, "what would it take for you to believe that there is a god?" Many of them had a very hard time coming up with anything that seemed even a little convincing to them. I, on the other hand, have a hard time coming up with anything that would not convince me. You see a blade of grass? It's astounding! The way it grows, the way the cells are uniform, the way that it reproduces. Did it evolve from something into something? Sure, but how does that make it any less something that was ultimately created?

Science can explain how the grass grows. Science can explain what it evolved from, and which species are most closely related. I love science, and I love that it leads to continued learning about this world around us. I don't understand how this precludes God. While I agree that evolution is a random process, my brain is absolutely stymied by the idea that such a world with such order in a mere blade of grass could not have something behind it all. Throw in the rest of the universe on top of that and you want me to believe that it was all a random process? I couldn't get randomly dropped Pick Up Sticks to fall into a pattern, no matter how many billions of years I tried to do it. I fail to believe that a mere random process* could lead to this complex and patterned universe we live in.

I have to laugh, because this means that atheists and I are at quite an impasse. There is nothing that is large enough to convince them of God's existence, and nothing small enough not to convince me. We are both left having to say that any facts can be twisted to be used to support whichever belief system, no matter how erroneous. Of course, we (pick a side) are the right one and they are the wrong one.

I am fascinated by this conundrum, and don't really know the way around it. However, I think there must be a way. Atheists and I are both convinced that science and reason has to be true on some level, and how can its truth be worth anything at all if we can't discover something from it?

*Though clearly random process plays a part. You can't even believe what science teaches about micro-evolution without believing that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Massive Quick Takes



Note: I happen to like to read about other peoples' adventures, as well as enjoy seeing their pictures. Other people couldn't care less about the mundanities of someone else's life. If you are like me, then pull up a chair. If you are one of the people that would rather poke your eyeballs with a 3-hole punch than read another blog post with pictures of mountains, then slowly put the punch down, and walk away from the blog. No one needs to get hurt, and I will not care if you skip this. :)

After I finished my 100 miles, I figured that I would talk less about hiking and more about other things. But then I did this hike and needed to talk about it for seven reasons.

1) The travel companion. I went on this hike with a friend that was a date several times. When I told him that I was not interested in a relationship, he still wanted to be friends. That works for me, especially when he said he wanted to go hiking. Sweet! I was a little concerned about how the dynamic of the day would go, but it was worth a shot, since he is a nice guy. Overall, it went well, though at the end of the day, he was still showing signs of being interested in being more than friends, while it was confirmed for me that I didn't want more than friendship. Eh, well. What's an epic hike without a little mild drama?

2) The sunrise. We got to watch the sun come up while we were on the trail. I love to do that. It's a little disorienting being on the trail in the dark when you start, but worth it when the sun starts to peek over the mountains through the trees. The peaks to the west of you turn red, then pink, then gold, before the full light of day hits. We didn't have any clear shots of the rosy peaks (though we could see it through the trees), but made it out of the trees in time for some of the gold.





3) The change in weather. This is my first fall hike (I know it's not really fall until later this month, but in those elevations, it's definitely fall). Suddenly, all the extra layers that I carry around became more important. I needed them all! By the time we reached our destination (mostly, but more on that in a minute), I was wearing enough layers that I could have played quite a long game of strip poker before causing concern to even the most prudish of Victorian schoolmarms. It wasn't too bad at the trailhead, but as you can see, it was a little chilly at the higher elevations.



4) The wind. Holy buckets, the wind. If I remember anything about this hike it will be the wind. It started out with chilly gusts, and continued with chillier, more frequent gusts. As we approached the saddle, the wind was blowing so strongly, it was literally knocking us off balance. I'm not sure quite how fast the wind gusts were, but they were definitely approaching dangerous miles per hour. It got to the point that the wind no longer felt like an inanimate thing, but a personal force with an agenda to get us off the mountain. It was crazy! (And it made me crazy. I may or may not have found myself yelling at the wind after some particularly strong gusts.) On the way back, it was even worse, believe it or not. It was blowing us over so much that we were crouched down as we walked, holding onto rocks so we wouldn't be taking a sudden, really fast trip down the mountain. Let me tell you, the quads were shot after that, and I still needed them for another 6 miles of downhill! (My mom will probably get the Reader's Digest version of this paragraph: It was pretty windy up there.)



(The saddle is the low place.)

Just because, here's part of the view from the saddle. (We had to brace ourselves while taking the pictures so we could not fall over... funny how calm the pictures look!) We were headed up, and the ridge was behind us.




5) The sheer massiveness of the thing. It's a mountain that is 14, 421 feet tall. That's the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado, and the 4th highest in the US. The main trail (that we did) is 14 miles long. It's a monster of a mountain. Which, I suppose, is why they call it Mount Massive. (Btw, altitude is amazing. It looks the same as anywhere else, but when you try to move, it takes SO much more energy. I would walk about 20 steps and have to stop. ANNOYING.)

6) The animals. We could hear pika squeaking all over the place, and we finally found one that we could get a picture of. They're a little shy.



We also ran into a little flock of ptarmigans. We took pictures, but you can barely see the birds because they blend so well with the rocks! At least with this one, the bird was casting a shadow, but you can really see how well they are camouflaged! (The bird's back is to the camera.)



7) The view. Amazing.





In the end, we did NOT make it to the summit. I don't know how high the false summit is, but I'm guessing over 14, 400. You can see the summit in this picture.



It looks so close in a photo, but standing on top of the mountain, it seemed like an impossible distance away. I was too tired, but mostly I was too scared of the wind. There was no protection from the wind in that stretch of space, and I chickened out. Or something. The view wouldn't have been any better over there. It was just the idea of making the summit vs. not making it. I guess I don't have the pride to be a true bagger of 14'ers! But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Anyway, for more Quick Takes, head over to Jen's!