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.