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!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Very "Special" Analogy

I try not to write too often about being single. Sometimes, if I have to sort through some things, I'll write about it, but not post it. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, I try not to focus on it all the time (though sometimes this blog is rather navel-gazing in that regard). For another, it's really hard to express how it feels. Further, there are very few people in my life that relate to this right now. Not so say that there aren't other people suffering other things, but I know very few single people right now.

One person does know what I am going through right now, and that would be my sister. We had a great discussion last night by phone and it was so wonderful to discuss it with someone else that "got it". She is hands down called to be a wife and mother. Like me, she has just moved and started a new job. She shares the same mother and grandmother, so she knows what those comments are like. And she knows what the Ache feels like, she knows what it is like to come home to an empty house and everything else. She knows what it is like when well-intentioned, loving people try to make it feel better but unfortunately only make it worse, and she also knows how to make me laugh.

The following analogy is all her. If it amuses you, glad I could help and share it. If you don't like any hint of grossness, 1) don't read anymore; and 2) it's all her fault.

It's like when you're sick. Sometimes you really feel nauseated, like you might throw up, but if you lie down, or watch TV to distract yourself or eat a soda cracker, it might feel a little better. Other times you REALLY feel nauseated and the ONLY thing that's going to help is to puke and get it over with.

Thanks, dear sister, for that lovely image! (And yet, if I'm not literally nauseated, the whole thing is quite funny to me. One of the strange side effects of being a former nurse aide, I guess.)

Anyone that's struggled with things like this knows it comes and goes. Singleness, subfertility, and many other things. Some days, other people can really help by saying, "oh, this worked for me" and so forth. But when it's REALLY bad, I don't care how nauseated you've been in the past, it doesn't help to stand over me eating your donut telling me that I really will feel better eventually and be able to eat donuts with you. All you will do is make me that much worse in that moment! :)

The whole idea made me laugh, but it also helped me to understand a little better. There have been times recently where someone else has been the one hunched over the toilet, and I want them to feel better, but sometimes the words just don't seem right. Then I know that my words are just donuts and all they need to know instead is that I'm close by if they need me or if I can get anything for them, but sometimes they just need space.

And that is the end of my story. (Unfortunately, you have no one but me to blame for the donut embellishment.)

Serious note: THANKS to all the people that have been encouraging to me in the past. I truly do hear your love in what you're saying, and I hope you won't be too offended if I'm not always in a place to completely appreciate it.


This might be the most perfect day since I've been out here. The sky is its normal gorgeous blue with just a few puffy white clouds. The air is a little cooler, about 70 right now, but the breeze is just perfect and there's that certain fall freshness in the air. I am writing this on a brief lunch break while sitting on my balcony. Love it.