Monday, May 31, 2010

The Hopes/Goals for the Next Few Months

One week from today, I will be sitting in my new apartment. Today I am sitting in the old one surrounded by boxes. (Thanks RA! Couldn't have done it without you!) I don't know how I got all this stuff, and I don't know how we're going to fit it all for the trip out, but that's Saturday's problem. Anyway, moving definitely feels more real.

Now, if you're bored with the moving posts, I don't blame you! Feel free to skip this post. Some day I will write about things besides moving. I want to write this post because I started to think about all of the things that I wanted to have happen with this move. Some are realistic and within my grasp. Others are realistic, but out of my hands. I was curious to see what happens compared to my hopes and expectations, so I decided to write down what I am hoping for and praying for, and then I can come back later and look. I'm just egotistic enough to post it all here thinking that others might be interested, too.

1) Well, not going to lie. The #1 thing that I would hope for is finally meeting a man, falling in love, all that jazz. Preferably someone that not only puts up with, but aides and abets my hiking habit, tolerates my book habit (seriously, I might have a problem!), and of course is seeking God with his whole heart. I can't do much about that, except get involved in a lot of things and be willing to meet people. I'll let God take care of any further details.

2) Right now, I'm really focused on hiking a lot. A whole lot. All summer long, if possible. I would like to hike over 100 miles. That sounds like a lot, but if you break it up into several months, it is a lot. It's doable, though. And given that I hiked nearly 40 miles in one week last summer, I think I'll be able to do that and more. I also hope to hike one or two 14er's by the end of the summer. To accomplish those goals, I plan to hike a lot with my good friend that lives there, and hike a lot with another acquaintance and hope to become better friends with her, and introduce another friend to hiking and hopefully not scare her off with my obsession of hiking. And I'd like to join some hiking groups. You know, feed the craze AND meet new people. I'm all about multi-tasking.

3) I hope to get involved in a good church out there. I love my current church, but their "over 50's" group is thriving, and anything for 20's-30's is non-existent. Actually, I really like getting involved with a wide age range, but I would like for there to be an actual range, rather than 55-85 and a few younger people. I would really like to get involved in Bible study and/or RCIA or something like that. Of course, I also need to find a place for Adoration (I'm hooked!) and I hope to find some Mass times that let me go at least a little more than just Sunday.

4) Obviously, I hope to learn some new things at my job and build a client-base quickly. I think there will be plenty of opportunities for both. I'd also like to get a little more involved with my professional organization while I'm out there. I think that would stretch me even more. Also, I'd love it if it would work out that I could work four 10 hour days instead of 5 days a week. It's at least a possibility right now.

5) Some less specific things that I would like to think about is maybe learning a tiny bit of rock climbing (I'm curious, but I'm thinking indoor rock walls are a lot more my speed than cliff faces), learning more about snowshoeing and possibly taking my life into my hands and trying some skiing, though I really should think more about cross-country than downhill... I like my life and would like to keep it, thanks. (Besides, can't take a chance of taking out a leg and not be able to go hiking.) An odd one is kayaking. I have almost zero experience with kayaking, but the one time I did go I enjoyed it, and would love to do it some more. I'm not much of a swimmer, so we're talking calm lakes, not white water. I don't really intend to pursue it (buying a kayak is not in the budget!), but if it comes up, I won't say no. Do we see a theme? I would like some adventure, but not too much, thank you!

6) I'd really like to get in better shape, be more fit. I think that's pretty well a given if I can manage 2 and even part of 5. I'm all for getting in shape when it's a part of other stuff like that. I'm much more compliant on trails than I am on a treadmill!

7) Kind of a minor thing, but I still break the bank on groceries. If I was wiser with that, I could spend my money elsewhere. Like gas to get to all those trails I want to hike. Or a better camera for all the pictures I want to take. Or, well, any number of great things. And my friend out there has offered to take me under her wing with the whole coupon thing. She's actually figured out how to do it so that she gets good stuff and saves real money with it. I can't wait to be her student!

I realize that not all of those things will happen. Which is good, because I don't have time for all those things to happen. If they do happen, they may not all look like I'm thinking they might look right now. Either way, I think that enough of them will happen that it will be fun to look back on this list compare reality with my expectations.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Turning 30

I'm not yet! I still have two solid months in my 20's, but it's strange to think that it's so close. It's approaching and combining that with moving in only a week makes me feel reflective. (Not to mention that I tend to be somewhat reflective by nature...) There is something about 30 that sounds so... adult or something. Not that there will be that much actual difference between 29 years and 10 months compared to 30, but still.

When I turned 20, I just assumed that by the time I was 30 that I would be married, have at least a couple of kids, a house, and be pretty well settled into my life. I thought that I would have "arrived" by now. Instead, I'm single, no prospects currently, and am preparing to move to yet another apartment. What does it mean to "arrive" anyway? I guess I had the typical definition of it with the whole house, husband and kids view. All I needed was the picket fence (except I don't like how they look) and the dog. (But it'd have to be the husband's dog. Like Lucy on Peanuts, I have a thing about dog slobber.)

A few months ago, I was kind of dreading my 30th birthday. I was thinking that it would mark my failure to meet my goals. Now I look at it differently. This whole crazy move was sudden and unexpected and wonderful. I am no longer waiting to arrive, I'm living life in this moment. I am beginning to see I will not "arrive" until the end. If arriving is getting where I'm trying to go with my life, then getting to heaven will be the moment that I have arrived, and not before then. Before then, it's just an adventure. All of the moments, good, bad, dull, painful, exciting, are just steps on the way.

This time time also makes me think about the last few years of my life. I am beginning to think that I've been at least mildly depressed for large parts of the last two and a half years. Sometimes it was ridiculously hard, with an entire month or two where I felt on the verge of tears at any moment or that I would feel an actual physical ache and heaviness. Other times it was simply that life felt muted. I had emotions of happiness, sadness, all that, but whatever makes life exciting was missing.

I am thankful for those times. I didn't like them, and I hope they're done for at least a while, but I'm thankful for them. They made me turn to God with brokenness and therefore with an openness and honesty like nothing I've experienced before. They've made me explore the depths of my being to find what I am missing, and to find that God was waiting to supply for my needs with greater gifts than I had ever imagined. They also made me ask for help. Not just ask God, but also other people in my life. I have tried to keep it inside for so long, but have found that I really like it better to be open and vulnerable before people, even if it hurts sometimes.

Being single for the last 4 or 5 years has also been a gift. It's a gift that I hope goes away very soon! But it's a gift. Some of the depression and brokenness has been from my singleness. In seeking healing, I have finally realized that I wanted a husband because I wanted him to fix those things. He wouldn't have fixed them. He might have helped, but only God could heal some of those hurts. It has also given me opportunities to get to know my friends better and have time to hang out with them. It has given me time to study my faith, to be involved in a number of different things, to focus on growing as a physical therapist, to go to Mass more frequently, to study Theology of the Body, to deepen my walk with God. It's not that these things don't happen in marriage. For me, they happened in singleness.

My singleness has also allowed me time to really explore the size and shape and depth of the ache for love. I hope what I have learned will make me better prepared to love as a wife and a mother. I know that what I have learned has helped me to learn that this ache and desire that we all have is not just for love, but for Love. Whatever is good about all kinds of love points us back to the One that is Love.

Eh, that's enough about all that stuff! Maybe I should go pack a box. Maybe I should pack more than one, given that I'm coming up on moving day very quickly, but I'm pacing myself. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Again with the Mass

I bet none of you ever suspected this, but I love the Mass. Lucky for me, none of you seem to mind when I go on and on about my feelings on the subject.

I was thinking about this recently. In a way, I could argue that I haven't gotten anything out of the majority of the Masses that I have been to in the last month or so. I couldn't share any great revelations that I've had from the readings or the homily because, frankly, you'd have to be paying attention to get something out of those. My poor brain cannot sit still and focus. First, it was debating whether or not to pursue moving. Then it's been either euphoria over moving to a great new place or depression over moving away from amazing people. Now it's the nitty gritty details of moving that are driving other thoughts from my mind. I not only can't focus on the readings, but I barely hear the prayers. I love the "Holy, holy, holy", and I've more or less missed it and everything else in many of the Masses that I've been to recently.

Going to Mass has not been worthless, however. Sometimes it's not about getting anything out of Mass. Sometimes it's just about being there. It's about bringing myself, just as I currently am (distractions and all), before God. I offer myself to Him, and He offers Himself to me. Though the Masses I have been to are mostly a blur, they're right where I want to be.

Clearly, it's important to cultivate focus during the Mass and readings. I'm not saying that it's fine for me to go to Mass and purposely not pay attention. I am saying that right now, when I'm not capable of much else, it's enough to be merely present.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Love Letter

Let's talk about love letters. Have you ever received the perfect love letter? Because I have.

What makes a love letter perfect? Let me tell you what does NOT matter. It does not matter if it's pages long or just a few short words. It doesn't have to be eloquently worded. It may be well thought out, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's simply the feelings from deep within spilling out.

It doesn't even necessarily require words.

My perfect love letter was written by someone who knows my heart better than I do. It reached down and touched places inside me that I didn't know existed. It awoke feelings deep within that I couldn't describe with words. Funny thing is, though, that I didn't even recognize it at first.

There was a time in my life that I struggled deeply with feelings of self worth. So much time as a single person has left me at times feeling rejected, unlovable. Well, not really unlovable. Plenty of people love me. Just not lovable in that deep, personal way. Not lovable in the way that a lover could love. I didn't know exactly what my flaw was, but I knew it had to be some sort of fatal flaw. (Fatal for romance, anyway.) Intellectually, I could say that I knew it wasn't true. Talking about it would only lead people to tell me that it wasn't true. It didn't change the hurt deep down. It didn't touch the wound.

I can't tell you how devastating that wound was. (Then again, I don't really need to. For me, the wound was singleness, but we have all experienced it in one way or another.) I was desperate. And that's when I found the letter.

Have you ever read the right book at the right moment? For me, at that moment, the book was Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. They spoke of the deep and tender love that God has for each of us. One of the things that they brought up was the idea that God was always calling to us. That He loves us so much that things that touch us deeply are the notes that He writes to draw us closer to Him. That's when I realized that He loves me, not just because He loves everyone, but because He loves me.

My perfect love letter was not written in words. It was written in fine dust and rock under my feet. It was written with aspens and evergreens, in the sun-soaked scent of pine. It was written in fresh, clear air and a deep blue sky. It was written in waterfalls and lakes and streams. It was written in views that touched the depth of my soul with something indefinable and indescribable. When I thought of the mountains, I thought of a God that created them, knowing exactly how I would feel when I saw them and walked in them. I know that He didn't just create them for me, but He was thinking of me when He was forming them. Me, specifically.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Landlord and I Are in a Fight; and Other Moving Madness

For the last 3 years, I have lived at my current apartment. My landlord have gotten along just fine. He's always helpful when something needs to be done, and he's always been great about general upkeep of the buildings and grounds. I have enjoyed the fact that even though my apartment is in an older building, it's always been a nice place to stay (and cheaper!) because of the way that he runs things.

This is why I am so disturbed by how difficult he has become as I'm getting ready to move out. I didn't expect it! First we had a discussion because I tried to turn in my month's notice, but I didn't look at my lease before I did it. Therefore, I didn't realize that it was to be in writing, and I didn't realize that I had to pay for the whole month, no matter what. That discussion did not go well, and I fully admit that it was mostly my fault. I should have looked at what my obligations were before I tried to talk to him.

But now he's being a PAIN about checkout! I've lived in a few apartments, and I've done a few check outs. My lease says that I have to check out 7-10 days before I move out. So I call him up to set this up. He wants to do it after all the furniture is moved out. I explain that I'm on a tight schedule, and that this will be difficult to do. He is adamant that he has to have all the furniture out. I explain that I'm done with work on a Friday, will be packing up on a Saturday, and will be leaving early Sunday morning. I don't have much time before I start my new job the next week.

He tells me that he needs to do it after the furniture is out. I tell him that I won't be around after the furniture is out. He tells me that he really prefers to do it on a weekday. I tell him that's fine with me, but not all the furniture will be out yet. He tells me that it has to be out. Then he explains that since he's such a good guy, he'll try to come in on a Saturday. But then he wanted me out of the building after that. I explain that I have to have a place to stay Saturday night, and does he remember the part that I have to pay for the entire month of June, even though I'll barely be there a week? I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay there for that last night!

But, you see, he is afraid that we'll want to use the kitchen or the bathroom that night and then it won't be the same as when he checked it out. I try to reassure him that we are really not that messy, and if we do make a bit of a mess, we will be sure to have it spotless before we leave on Sunday. I don't think that he really gets that I will not be around after Sunday. He tried to make it sound like I should come back Monday after everything's out and do check out then. Hello! Not coming 700 miles back for check out!

Beyond that, I'm just really ready to move. Not in the sense that I have everything done (I barely have anything started!), but in the sense that I just need to get out of this weird in between stage and start settling in to the new place. The worst part right now is how crazy difficult it is to leave my friends. The longer I'm here the more I wonder if I can really do it. This prolonged (and also so very, very short) process is really difficult.

I do have an apartment now, so that's exciting. I need to start calling utility companies about when to switch stuff over. So many details! Anyway, it's all coming together. Which is good, because it's less than 2 weeks until I leave! When did that happen?? It was over three weeks just a second ago! Now I just need a license to practice in my new state...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hope and Fear

Have you ever noticed that when you hope the most is also when you fear the most?

I guess it's just because that's when you have the most to lose.

I hope this change in my life will lead to a lot of new opportunities. I hope that my new job will go well, and I will build a patient base quickly. Mostly, I hope that being in a new area and meeting new people will lead to possibly meeting a man that I could marry.

Do you know how hard that is to even put on paper?

It is a hope that I try to keep buried deep down. One that I am afraid to take out and explore. I want to ignore the possibility. Maybe it would hurt less if I ignored it? In fact, I try not to hope about it at all. It's got to be easier to pretend that no such possibility exists, right?

And yet, with all the prospects of new things happening, hope creeps up. I can't quite keep it away. Questions start to come in... What would it be like to not go to and leave every function alone? Maybe not always have to go to church by myself? Seriously, what would it even be like to not be the third wheel? Could I have someone to cook for, and to eat with?

Regardless of what happens on that end, there will be places to get involved and people to meet. I've already found a few things that I want to get involved with. I cannot even tell you how much I look forward to actually having something to do on weekends. This last 6-12 months has been SO long on the weekends. I'm so sick of this apartment and I cannot WAIT to leave it.

Apparently I'm an inveterate complainer, though. In a couple of months, look for complaining on how I wish I wasn't quite so busy! :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Heart Religion

There is a song that I really like in spite of myself. It's by Jason Gray, and it's called "More Like Falling in Love", and it's really popular on Christian radio right now. I like it, but I also can't stand it. It is the embodiment of a prevalent attitude, and that particular attitude sends me into all kinds of weird shivers and spasms. It's the attitude that "religion stinks but luckily I'm no longer trapped by it because now I know Jesus".

Let's get something straight. "Religion" without knowing God is the most desolate, barren thing imaginable. Only, it's not true religion. True religion is relationship. I'm sure that there are people out there that have been going to church all their lives, but feel that they've never met God, much less fallen in love. If you are one of those people, then my prayer for you tonight is that you will come to not only meet Jesus, but fall deeper and deeper in love with Him, just as the song says.

Gray's lyrics talk about how it was love that made him a believer in "more than a name, a faith, a creed." Of course it's more than a creed, but don't throw out the creed. Don't throw out religion! Rules alone may do nothing if we do not understand them. But they give us something to follow while we dig deeper to the love behind the rules. Once you understand the reason why, the rules cease to be a burden. They become joy.

The creeds can sound so sterile if you do not understand them, or if you repeat them without thinking. However, a relationship of belief in God without clear understanding of what you believe about Him can lead to chaos.

Perhaps the biggest of all, if there is no religion, then how can there be liturgy? Oh, liturgy! I am convinced that the only reason that people have a problem with liturgy is because they either do not understand the Bible or they do not understand the liturgy. If you see how the two fit together... Raptures! Seriously, there is not anything better on this earth! No exaggeration!

So my whole point is that religion is awesome, but it has to lead to and deepen relationship with God if it is true religion. God is certainly bigger than religion, but religion can be one of the most amazing of His gifts if we are willing to open ourselves up to it and press deep into it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Coming of the Holy Spirit: A Catholic Perspective

In the last week or so, the readings at Mass have been focusing on the teachings of Jesus from the Gospel of John, chapters 14-17. In particular, they have focused on the parts where Jesus tells us that He will not leave us orphans, but will be sending the Holy Spirit to guide us to all truth.

One anti-Catholic perspective would be the following:
[Jesus] did not promise to build His Church upon Peter. Jesus would not have trusted such a precious possession as His Church to the leadership of even one fallible man much less a whole succession of them. The pope of Rome is called the Vicar of the Son of God* (Vicarius Filii Dei). In the Bible we find that the Holy Spirit, not a pope, was sent to take the place of Jesus on earth. That is what Vicar means. The Holy Spirit was given to guide us to all truth (John 16:7-15) and the Scriptures were given for teaching, for reproving, for correction, and for instruction (II Timothy 3:16). Christ did not leave His Church to human leadership. Jesus Himself is still the Head of His Church. He speaks to us through His infallible Word, the Holy Scriptures, by His ever present and infallible Holy Spirit. (1)
First of all, here's what I don't understand. Folks such as Brewer do not question the idea that the Holy Spirit inspired and guided the writers of Sacred Scripture, but I guess the Holy Spirit's power ran out when it came to guiding the popes! "Jesus would not have trusted such a precious possession as His Church to the leadership of even one fallible man much less a whole succession of them." Brewer, if you were to be consistent in this line of thinking, you might want to add "Jesus would not have entrusted such a precious possession as His Word to the authorship of even one fallible man, much less a whole bunch of them."

I do agree that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the true head of the Church. However, I also believe that Jesus left us a human leader. You can read more about what I think of this here. Jesus is the King, the pope is only "vicar" in that he has been given authority to act in leadership here on earth by the office of the keys.

Brewer implies that the Holy Spirit comes to each of individually in the silence of our hearts and through the Sacred Scriptures. If that is the case, then Jesus' prayer for unity- that we would be one as Jesus and the Father are one- seems doomed to utter failure (John 17:11). We can all see the tens of thousands of different churches that are a result of individual interpretation of the Bible.

One time when I was reading this tract, these words really stuck out at me:

"In the Bible we find that the Holy Spirit, not a pope, was sent to take the place of Jesus on earth. That is what Vicar means. The Holy Spirit was given to guide us to all truth (John 16:7-15)..."

Apparently Brewer would like to set up a Holy Spirit vs. the pope scenario. Here's the thing, if the pope truly is the Vicar of Christ, then he is not leading the Church in the place of the Holy Spirit. He is leading the Church as the instrument of the Holy Spirit.

You know, though, I don't think we should leave the decision of the argument up to Brewer's word vs. mine. Jesus promised that when He left, He would send the Holy Spirit. We don't have to guess how this happened, we have a record of the events! We have the story of Jesus leaving in Acts 1:6-11. Then, in Acts 2, we have the story of Holy Spirit coming. Read it and see what you think.

The Holy Spirit came in a powerful way to the Apostles in the Upper Room. The crowds were around at His coming, but the Holy Spirit came first to the Apostles. Then, as you read on, you will see that the Apostles immediately began preaching and teaching. Through their preaching and teaching, the crowds also came to hear and understand the Word of God and were then able to receive the Holy Spirit themselves. Again, as a Catholic, I believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Apostles and their successors (the hierarchy) so that through them, the rest of us may receive ALL truth (John 16:13).

I absolutely believe that the Holy Spirit comes to us as individuals and comes to us through the Word of God as well, but I believe that He comes through the Church and the teachings of the Church, not just in an indefinable way in our hearts.

*Actually, he's not. He's referred to as the Vicar of Christ, but there is no official reference to the pope as the Vicar of the Son of God. It doesn't make a huge difference, except that there are a few anti-Catholics that like to use the erroneous title so that they can add up the Latin title into Roman numerals, getting 666 and thus "proving" that the pope is the anti-Christ.

(1) "Scriptural Truths for Roman Catholics", by Bartholomew F. Brewer


My grandma's words are coming back to bite me tonight. Tonight I am on my couch, all by myself. How much longer, God?

I am frozen in a myriad of emotions. I suppose it's better than the complete lack of emotions that I've had for so many months, but it's hard telling sometimes. There is joy for all my friends and all their babies. There is pain for the depth of the loneliness. There is excitement for the upcoming move. There is sadness beyond what I can say for all that I am leaving.

There is peace in arms of the One that carries me through.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rediscovering Lost Love

About 5 years ago, I think I fell in love. I was infatuated since I was seven, but it wasn't until 5 years ago that I really fell hard, and apparently irretrievably, in love. No, I'm not talking about a man. I'm talking about the mountains. My mountains.

Five years ago was an internship for grad school, that just happened to be in a town right on the edge of the foothills. I had always enjoyed going to the mountains on vacation and hiking and everything else, but living there was something different. Driving home from work, I was treated to a beautiful view of the mountains. When I was at the library, it was hard to read because of the huge windows with the view of the mountains. It was unbelievable to get up and go hiking every weekend (it was a summer internship). It's true that as the weeks went on, I didn't get quite as excited by every glimpse of the mountains. Yet at the same time, somewhere along the way they ceased to be "the mountains" and they became "my mountains".

I've been to the Cascades before. They're beautiful, but it's not the same. Same thing with the Olympic Mountains. I've never been to the Appalachians. I'd love to go, but when the opportunity to travel comes up, I will usually choose to go West. To my mountains.

I haven't been back every year of those 5 years. The years I couldn't go were the years that I went out to Washington to see a friend. Good times, but when we flew over the Rockies, or changed planes in Denver, I wanted to stay there. Last year I got to hang out in my mountains again. I was so excited and it just felt so right. Everywhere I went, I felt like I belonged. Nevermind the midwestern tags on my car.

Still, everything was good where I was, job, friends, and church, so I tried to get by on the visits. But now all that's changed. And I'm so excited. I just told a friend of mine from PT school that I was moving. Her response? "I think you left your heart there a few years ago. It's about time you go back to get it!"

I think she's right.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Questions

I currently have some questions, and would love any answers that anyone has to throw out there.

1) Is christiananswers.net pretty legit, or is it far out there? I mean, is it something that speaks for a large number of people, or is it really just representing a small cross section of Christians?

2) Where is a good home for old bridesmaids dresses? None of mine are going to move with me.

3) Where do you have to go to get rid of furniture? Do I have to find a dump somewhere?

4) Is it bad that I know that it's easier to eat sushi with your fingers than it is to eat it with a fork? (Chopsticks beat them both, though!)

5) Any helpful hints for moving would be greatly appreciated! Like how do I decide what to keep and what to toss? Or what are some good rental agencies for loading up my stuff? Or where am I going to find boxes? Or how do I organize stuff? Or how do I safely pack a TV?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Song

I love my grandma. She's sweet and amazing and wonderful. I know that she loves me, too. That's why when she said what she said, I didn't even get mad.

Here's the story. I was able to make a trip down to hang out with my grandparents for a short visit. They live 5 hours away, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like- and soon it's going to be 8 hours, so that's not very nice. Anyway, we had a nice relaxing evening. They took me out to dinner. Gotta love small towns. We walked into the little diner where the cook and the waitress were watching TV behind a screen. They seemed to married and owned the place.

She came out and knew she didn't even have to get my grandparents a menu. She knew exactly what they wanted, down to the salad dressing. She went back and asked her husband to cook something up for "Bob and Mrs. Bob". That doesn't have anything to do with the story. It just felt like a movie or something, it was so stereotypically small town. It was fun!

When we got back to their house, we sat down and chatted. They just got DirectTV, so they no longer get the channel that broadcasts "The Lawrence Welk Show". Gee, darn. Not to worry, though, they now get stations that just play music. My grandma found her favorite oldies station and we listened to that while we chatted and later while we played cards. I'm not a huge fan of the oldies (and less now than I was, but I'm getting to that), but I am a huge fan of hanging out with my grandparents. It's always fun to be there when everyone's there, but I also enjoy those times that it's just the three of us.

As we're listening to the oldies, as song by Bobby Darin comes up: "All By Myself". My grandma takes one look at that and says, "There you go!"

I didn't say anything. I couldn't. Did my grandma just dedicate that song to me? If she did, I had no idea what to say! Especially after I start to hear the beginning lyrics about sitting in a table alone with only one chair and playing solitaire! Please tell me I misunderstood what she just said to me and why she said it!

Oh, no. No, there was no misunderstanding. The next thing she asks is, "Do you play a lot of solitaire?"

!!!

I politely answered, "No, not really." Then I excused myself to the bathroom, hoping it was far enough away that she couldn't hear me snickering and snorting. Oh, man, I wish you knew my grandma! It's even funnier if you do.

I have to give her a break. She was married no more than a couple of years out of high school, and has been married 55 years. She wouldn't know what it's like to be single, and that maybe that's why she didn't stop to think that that's not a very uplifting song to dedicate to a single person. She just needs to understand that if I ever do get married, I intend to do it up right like she did.

Another moment from this weekend:

We're playing cards and Grandma's winning. Again. She always wins! She just set Grandpa (again) when he had a hand that should have been pretty strong. He made a good natured comment that this was why he tries not to play too many cards with her, because she always beats him. She smiles and pats his hand, and says, "I'm just lucky in cards. Lucky in cards, and lucky in love."

Have I mentioned that I love my grandparents? :)

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a solitaire tournament scheduled for this evening!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flashing Neon Signs

About a month ago, all of the frustrations of the past year suddenly hit a boiling point and I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like nothing in my life was moving forward (i.e., still single and no prospects in the land of older people where I live), and all of the great things about my life were in fact moving backward. For example, I have an amazing job that I love. However, after 4 years of building various contacts in the county where I currently live, they want to transfer me to an entirely different clinic. I've worked at that other clinic for a short period and didn't really enjoy it. Not to mention that it was even more isolated and an even older population than I currently was working with.

I have been involved with a fantastic church, but I have not been able to find quite as many things to do there recently either. I went from being involved in 4 or 5 different things to 2 things, to 1 thing, and even that one was almost over. Not only that, but the move for my job wasn't really allowing me to look for new things to get involved in. Also, my parish consists of primarily older people.

Then there's my friends. The most wonderful friends on the face of the planet. Who are suddenly all married with responsibilities so they can't hang out as often anymore. Not to mention the fact that many of them are moving either now or in a few years.

So I was frustrated, and wondered what I was doing with my life. I was in the middle of a blog post chronicling my woes (because I'm a whiner like that), when I suddenly realized that all of the things that had been holding me here were no longer holding me. I was frustrated because my life was directionless, but then I realized that my frustration might all be pointing me in a very specific direction: west.

Suddenly, there was a breath of fresh air, and a hope of possibility. I wanted to be sure that I wasn't merely being impulsive, so I started praying that God would show me His will. I acknowledged that He didn't always send written instructions, but let Him know that subtle hints, like flashing neon signs, would always be appreciated.

Here're some of the things that have happened in the last month. First are the questions and concerns that I'd had, and then what's happened as the month went on:

1) I would need a job. Many are not ideal to the way I like to practice, and many out west pay less than I currently make, even though there's a higher cost of living.

One of the most recently posted jobs on the website was the perfect fit for me. It was posted only two days before I started to look.

2) Should I move to where I don't know anyone? I mean, I had a friend out there, but she would be moving within about 6 months.

Turns out that my friend is not moving for 1-2 years. There's a great Catholic community in the area, and she's got the hook ups to help me meet people. Not only that, but one of my friends that's moving away from here is moving to only about an hour away from there! She was originally going to move to Illinois or Texas.

3) There is a job opening in my current company in my current county. Should I just stay here and take that?

They offered it to someone else without even asking if I was interested.

4) What about places to live? I prayed that if God wanted me out there, that He would prepare a place for me.

My friend that lives out there, without telling me, took it upon herself to look around to find some of the safest neighborhoods and best places to live. She even set up an appointment for a tour at one apartment. She did this the same day or the next day after I prayed that prayer.

I interviewed and toured the apartment. The apartment gave me a little cheaper price than expected (though still a sticker shock to my poor little midwestern soul), and the job offered me more than what I expected or hoped for.

All of this, however, was not the biggest deciding factor for me. The biggest and most important part was the peace in the stillness of my heart. On the outside, my emotions have been a crazy roller coaster. I've been really high and really low about all of this, but deep underneath the waves of emotion is peace, and a feeling of... rightness? Is that a word? That's just how it feels. Right.

~~~

P.S. It just so "happened" that it was my month for Adoration for Parish Council. Which means that I had two hours of Adoration each week in April instead of one. I volunteered for that long before I had any idea what kinds of decisions that I would be trying to make that month. Crazy, isn't it, how God plans for each one of our needs before we even know what we'll need?

The Still Point

Have you ever noticed the amazing ways that God speaks? One of the ways that He often speaks to me is through a homily at the Mass. That certainly was the case on Sunday. The priest started to talk about how we all get emotions that sometimes we don't even recognize what they are or why we are feeling them. Sometimes it takes a while to get to through the emotions, but once we get to the bottom, there is a still point. The still point, he said, is the Holy Spirit.

It's true. I have never thought of it that way, but it certainly has been the case for me in the last month for me. I have had emotions like none other. I've been happy, I've been sad, I've been excited, I've been a little scared, and everything in between. But underneath and through it all has been peace. In the still point there was and is peace. Although I don't quite know how I will make it through the next few weeks, I know that I will and that it will be good, all because of the peace underneath.

One of the things that he talked about next was to remind us to pray to the Holy Spirit. He says that he prays for the Holy Spirit to come down on the people of the parish, and "I know He is, because I asked." That's all it takes for the Holy Spirit to respond. Seriously, there are two weeks before Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is coming. He has come and He will keep coming, but what an awesome time to pray for Him in our lives!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What difference a day makes...

I am pretty sure that I will never fall asleep tonight. I'm tired, all right, but I am also tightly wound. Two days ago, I thought that it would be a while before I could post on here because the one thing that I could think about or wanted to talk about was the one thing I couldn't talk about on the internets just yet. Now- just a day later- I can, so you will probably have more posts than you know what to do with, because this is how I sort through some of my thoughts and feelings!

You see, I'm moving. I still can't believe it. Actually, I've known for about a year that I was going to move, but it was supposed to be a move across town. It would be a whole different suburb, but still more or less the same town. In the last month, that has taken a sudden and drastic change. I'm moving about 700 miles away! I just interviewed for the job last weekend, and they told me it would be a couple of weeks before they knew. Then they offered the job this weekend! Crazy!

I am extremely excited, but tonight I'm sad. Tonight I had to let my boss know that I was leaving, and then type up an official letter of resignation. I'm not going to lie. I cried.* I'm crying now just thinking about it. I love this job. I think I'm going to love my new job, too, and I think it's the right time and all that, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm sad right now.

The good news is, now my boss knows. It's official, and I can write about it.

*Luckily while I was writing the letter, and not while I was on the phone! My boss was all fine about it and wished me luck. He's a man, though, so what do you expect? Logic prevails for him. Not for me, though!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I miss blogging! I really do! But what am I supposed to do? I have nothing to say and everything to say. I have time to blog, but I'm tired. Really tired. No excuse but stress. That also probably explains the cookies I ate today...

It's just strange. The unknowns are stressful, and I have some anxiety about it, but not nearly as much as I would have thought. My biggest problem is all the questions that don't have answers. I can deal with the answers either way (I think), but I just want to know what they are so that I can move on.

I will be back, I promise! I can't wait to dig into my faith again, or tell you what's been going on around here recently. Or write a really pointless post for the mere fun of writing it. This little roller coaster may not stop for another couple of weeks, but it will stop eventually.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Story of the Mass

Do you know where to find the story of the Mass in the Bible? Here's a hint: It starts in Genesis, right at the very beginning. It ends in Revelation, and it's contained in everything in between.

Since telling the entire story of the Mass would be a little excessive for a blog post, how about contemplating the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus? (It's at the end of Luke if you want to read it.) In the first part, the disciples are walking along the road, when Jesus joins them. They do not necessarily recognize him, but He teaches them things from Scripture. Then they break bread together, and they come to know Him in the breaking of the bread, just like we have a chance to do at every Mass.

There it is, the liturgy (or celebration) of the Word in Scripture, then the liturgy of the Eucharist, instituted by Christ at the last supper.

My priest likes to tell the story of the Mass by referencing a giant "M". The first part of the Mass (the upward stroke of the first part of the "M") is us ascending toward God. We begin to approach Him in prayer, beginning with the opening prayer, followed by acknowledgment of our sins, and then culminating in a hymn of glory to God.

The next stroke of the "M" is God descending towards us in the Scripture, in His love letter to us. Following the Scripture, after the homily, we begin our next approach toward God. We profess our faith, lay our petitions in confidence before Him, then begin our prayers in preparation toward the Eucharist. This culminates in another hymn, the "Holy, holy, holy" based on Scripture from Isaiah (6:3, I think) and Revelation, as well as an echo of the Jews' proclamation of Jesus as Messiah from Palm Sunday. The final downstroke of the "M" is God coming to us in the Eucharist. The whole Mass is a communion with God, a back and forth interaction between the Creator and the created, but in the consecration and Holy Communion, He comes to us fully and completely.

And that is the story of the Mass, union between God and Man.