Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's On My Mind

I should be doing my taxes right now, but I'm clearly not.  There are some very good reasons for this:

1) I have my priorities straight... I have other things to do (like blog), and after all, it's not even April yet!
2) It's late at night.  Trust me, anything after 7 pm is too late for anything that requires actual thinking.
3) I don't want to.

Yep.  I think that about covers it. No taxes.  Maybe tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm listening to the wind, or I was.  It's died down momentarily, but I'm sure it'll be back.  I love the weather out here.  I love the sun, I love the low humidity, I even love the snow and the storms (if I'm not driving in them).  I don't love the wind.  It sucks your soul.  I don't hate it as much as I hate humidity, but it's not my favorite.  Last week my sister and I were hanging out on the rim of a volcano (it was extinct) and the wind kept trying to blow us off.  Yeah, this was a paved trail about a mile around the rim.  I was simultaneously trying to stay on the trail while thinking about if there was any way to simulate it when I'm working with people on their balance (I drew a blank).  I would have thought that we were being kinda wimpy about it, but there was another couple there that was being even wimpier, so I felt better about ourselves.

Here's a conversation my sister and I had at the volcano:

Her: "These rocks here seem lighter somehow."
Me: "That's because they're porous."
Her: "No, I think it's because they're more airy."*


So what's on my mind tonight?  Clearly not much.  



*She claims she meant that there was more space between the rocks.  Sure, sure.**



**Okay, I'm sure she did mean that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1) It feels like Monday, but as I write this, it's really Thursday!  Sweet!  My sister came out for her Spring Break and I took a couple of days off.  It was great to get away, and it's great that my work week has just started, but it's almost weekend already.

2) The road tripping with my sister is always fun, and this was no exception.  One of my patients was asking me what we did.  As I listed all the things, her comment was "Wow, you guys really kept busy!" Well, of course we did.  That's how road trips are, right?  Besides, we didn't keep that busy.  We still had plenty of time to fit in a number of movies.

3) The wind just about blew us away this trip.  One of my favorite moments is when some high school kid gets ready to seat us.  He comments, "That wind is really something, huh? My hair is messed up, too!"  Obnoxious!  But he was oblivious, so it was funny.  I slunk to my seat and tried to fix my hair without a mirror, and after he left, we discussed whether a tornado would be able to mess up his helmet of gel.

4) I think Lent's starting to get a little more back on track.  Vacation didn't help, but it's over and the routine is beginning again.  I just can't wait for Easter to be here!  I have family and friends to see and babies to squish!  I can't wait!

5) I love March Madness!  The only thing is, if your team makes it to the Sweet 16, you should be excited that they made it that far.  Don't get me wrong, I am excited.  However, my team is in a bracket with a whole lot of upsets, so I will be disappointed if they don't make it out of this bracket playing 10-12 seeds, when they're a 1.  At least none of the remaining teams has "BU" initials!  Go KU!!

6) We're almost done with March, and given the insanity of this month, I'm very glad of it.  I don't have high hopes for April being that much calmer, but we can always hope, right?  Is there anything wrong with living in a dream world?

7) Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Walking with God

Several weeks ago, a good friend asked how my walk with God was going.  I was so glad they asked the question because I realized in that moment that I didn't know the answer. I didn't know if it was moving forward or back.  I just didn't know what to say.  Of course, like any good friend, when I didn't have an immediate answer, more questions were asked.  Was I doing a Bible study?  Was I going to Mass? 

No.  Yes.

The true answer is that I've been going through the motions. Yes, I go to Sunday Mass, but I have some of the lamest excuses ever for not going to daily Mass.* I've stopped going to RCIA (I sat there each week and didn't really do anything; I hate not feeling useful).  On the one hand, I sometimes think that the motions are all you can manage at certain points in your life and it's better than nothing.  On the other hand, you don't want to stay there.  I think that I've moved past the stage, at least for now, that it's all that I can manage.  Now I just have to figure out how to get back on track. 

I'm so thankful for Lent.  To be honest, even Lent's gotten a little off track with my sister here visiting and one of our random road trips going on (more on that later!) However, the best part about Lent is that it's all about turning back to God.  Above all other times of the year, it is the perfect time to admit that we can't do it all and that we need Him to take over for us.

*Not that everyone has to go to daily Mass, but it's important for me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jesus on the Cross

We sang a song in church today; don't know which one.  I don't remember the exact words.  I just remember that it talked about our sins being laid on Jesus.

It started me thinking about God Who, as Father, would allow such a thing to happen to His son.  Or about Jesus, also God, Who would accept such a burden and such a punishment.  Why would God see that as necessary?  Is God so bloodthirsty that He requires such a steep price in order for Him to be able to forgive our sins?

See, I don't think so.  I don't think that's it at all. I don't think that God requires such an ugly, awful atonement for sin.  I think that humans require it.  God's love for us is so great that He allowed our salvation to come about this way so that we could see just how ugly sin is.  Just how much of a cost our sin causes to ourselves, to each other, and to God.

I don't know about you, but there are times in my life that I look at people sinning and think that they have it easier than I do.  Sin looks pretty darn attractive part of the time.  I need the reminder how ugly sin is.  I need to know how much hurt and how much pain it causes.

I may be wrong, and feel free to correct me, but I personally feel that God could have come up with a perfect offering that would have involved a lot less suffering and ugliness.  Unfortunately, if there was a simpler solution for my sin, I might think that sin is not that big of a deal.

I don't think that God the Father is bloodthirsty and out for revenge/punishment, seeking the only bloody price that would satisfy Him.  I think He so loved the world that He was willing to send His only Son to secure my salvation in such a striking way that I would be able to pay enough attention to accept the salvation He offered.

If you want to know why Jesus suffered and died in such a horrific way, then look no farther than me and you.  Yes, it's because of us.  But so much more than that, it's for us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beloved,


I keep trying to believe that You have a purpose for my life.  I don't know what it is, or if I'll ever figure it out, but I keep trying to believe it anyway.  The readings today were about "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find."  Obviously, I'm asking for marriage, but if that is not Your will, I could be okay with that if there were some other purpose for my life.  I don't really get how this limbo is a part of Your will.  I guess I'm trying to seek You in the midst of this.  I don't seem to be finding.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm confused and I'm lost.  Since I can't find You, will You please find me?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ahh, Saturday

A little time up on top of the world* is just what I needed.  The company was good, the snow was good, and I enjoyed looking at clouds from what seemed like their level.  And now I'm tired.  I've already moved all my clocks ahead so that I can pretend that I'm going to bed at a normal time and not way early.



*So it's not quite the top of the world, but it's close enough for today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday



1) It's Friday!!!! I'm so excited for this Friday, I can't even tell you!  Last weekend I had a fantastic class, but it was really intense, and it was all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Therefore, I came into Monday absolutely fried.  There were so many times this week that people spoke to them and I stared at them stupidly because I couldn't comprehend what I was supposed to do about the words coming out of their mouths.*  Then, when I was starting to hit a little more even keel by Wednesday, a patient had a medical emergency.  They're fine now, but that was not fun!

2) Can I just say that firefighters are my favorite?  Because they are.  When they came busting into the room and taking up all the space, it was so nice to sit back at let someone else run the show and have the responsibility.  Thanks, guys!  (I appreciated the EMT's, too, but the firefighters were the first ones there... besides, they were cuter than the EMT's!)

3)  Last night I had a class for some basic wilderness stuff.  I think my head almost exploded.  Not because they were talking about anything too crazy, but because that's just the state of my head this week.  The good news is that no one was nodding too vigorously.

4) Also, when I called to vent to my sister about some requirements of the class (which I will simply skip, since I'm only taking it for the info and couldn't care less if I "pass"), I finally wound down and said something to the effect that at least I got to eat first.  She told me that she knew that I ate, because my voice would have been a couple octaves higher and I would have been whinier if I was hungry on top of it all.  I think she knows me too well...

5) I'm so excited for this weekend!  Tomorrow I get to spend some time up in my mountains snowshoeing.  Seriously, I need me some time in the mountains!  Last weekend, I had to look at them in the distance while I was driving to class and then walk inside and be indoors for days.  Fresh air, here I come!  Then there's Sunday.  I have big plans for Sunday.  I plan to sleep in, go to Mass, come home and sleep some more, and eat in between.

6) I'm really sorry that this is such a boring post.  It's been such an intense week that I don't have anything interesting to say.

7) For other (more interesting) Quick Takes, head over to Jen's!


*My sister was apparently in about the same state this week.  She told me that someone spoke to her and her response was to "smile and nod and say some words in a row".  That cracked me up, and still does! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

What To Give Up For Lent

Most everyone has ironed out what they want to give up for Lent, but just in case you're still looking for ideas, may I offer a suggestion?

Give up work on Sundays.

I am serious.  Set aside that extra paperwork that you brought home from work.  Let the laundry pile up.  The home improvement project can wait.  There is no need to get the cleaning done that day.  No errands.  If a possible commitment comes up for a Sunday, say no.  The yard work will still be there Monday or the next week.  The grocery store, the mall, whatever other shopping centers will still have their doors open to welcome you on the other days of the week.  I do not want to hear, "I'd love to, but I just have to get x, y and z done."  Give it all up, let it all go.

God made the sabbath for man, but maybe you don't feel can afford to take a day of rest.  So don't do it for you.  Do it for Him this Lent.  What sacrifice does He love more than obedience?  He gave us a commandment to keep holy the Lord's day.  Be obedient to that this Lent.

It is hard to take a day of rest when you're used to just pushing yourself and trying to get it all done.  Maybe a lot of the work that you're trying to do is for Him.  You may be one of those people that's constantly volunteering at church or be a part of this that or the other ministry.  Or you're trying to live out your vocation as best you can and you need to get those things done in order to be the best wife, mother, teacher, etc. This one day, set aside all of the tasks associated with those things. (Granted, it's a different story for pastors, since Sunday is the day that they are carrying out one of their primary tasks.)

On the one hand, telling people to give up work on Sunday for Lent sounds a little like telling people to give up lima beans for Lent.  If it's something you want to give up, it's not really a sacrifice, right?  Wrong!  In this case, this sacrifice, like any good Lenten sacrifice, is hard to do.  It's hard to let go of the tasks that will fall apart without our capable hands.  It's hard to give up this whole wonderful day that we want to use to finish up all those projects that are weighing on us.  It's hard.  Do not think that it will be easy.  But it will be worth it.  I do have a couple of suggestions to help you be successful.

1) Commit to it. If you make a half-hearted, pansy-a**ed attempt at this, you will fail.  I guarantee it.  Go all in.

2) Pray.  You will need prayer to make this happen.  If it is not a part of your life at this time, you will not be able to do it without prayer.  Monday through Saturday, my suggested prayer (to be prayed when you are stressing out about all the things you have to do) is "God, please help me get the things done that need to be done."  On Sunday (when you are stressing out about the things that you think you have to do right this moment because it is the only chance you think you will have to do it) my suggested prayer is "God, help me to let this go into Your hands and not think it is all dependent on mine.  Help me to trust You for this task."

3) Plan ahead.  If you can, plan and prep the meal the day before.  That way, you will not need to make a last minute trip to the store.  You can throw the meal in the oven that day instead of trying to prep it.

4) Prioritize. If you are like me, the weekend brings with it a monster list of things to do.  Figure out the top two things that absolutely have to be done, and start with those.  Then go from there with the time you have left.

5) Consider sundown to sundown celebration.  I think the most important part of a sabbath rest is that you get 24 hours of rest.  Some people need Sunday evening to get things ready for work.  I think that's fine.  You work all day Saturday, but when the sun goes down, you stop (or pick a time like 7 or 8).  Rest begins now.  Spend some family time, watch a movie, read a book, take a bath, go out, whatever evening kind of activity helps you recharge.  Then on Sunday at sundown, you can start to get things organized for the rest of your week.

6) Learn how to say "no".  People will still ask you to do things on Sunday.  If it's not a relaxing and fun social engagement, tell them honestly that you can't because you already have plans.  They do not need to know that your plans are to relax in whatever way is most fitting for you.  Trust me, those plans to rest really are important and necessary.  You don't need to feel guilty when you tell people this.

7) Speaking of guilt... It is very hard to let go of that nagging feeling that you should be doing something "useful" right now, instead of whatever relaxation you are doing.  Let it go.  Far from being guilty, embrace the fact that you are doing exactly what God has asked of you for this day.

In case you are not used to celebrating Sunday, may I offer some suggestions?  I always think a special breakfast is nice.  It doesn't have to be fancy (because you are resting, remember?)  I'll buy myself a little chocolate milk (it's the simple things that make me happy) and something easy for a hot breakfast.  Church is a must.  We need that communion with God and each other.  If possible, dinner as a family is ideal after church.  Beyond that, it's whatever helps you keep a holy day of rest.  Naps are nice.  Maybe you like to watch sports or play sports or just go for a walk.  Being in nature is an awesome way to spend a Sunday.  Growing up, my family would often go our separate ways after lunch (half of us fell asleep for at least part of the afternoon) then in the evening we might play a game or whatever.  Everyone's different, so do what works best for you and your family.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Confession

I have been quite lax about the sacrament of confession since I got out here.  Partly because I miss my confessor, and partly because the available times do not work well for me at all.  The thing is, going 4 months between confessions just doesn't work for me.  I don't even realize much what's wrong, but I can tell things are a little off.  It's like when your car is working great, but gas mileage is a little lower than usual and you start to realize things just aren't at their peak.  Then you realize that you're overdue for an oil change and a filter or two.  (By "you", I mean "me".  I'm sure that all of you are much more on top of your car maintenance than I am.)

I started to notice myself being quite negative about some positive opportunities in my life (yes, they're great, but they mean I can't hike for a WHOLE weekend!) and started to add up that it's been about a month since the last confession, and that's about my limit.  So off I take myself to a place that I've found that they do confession at much more convenient times.

First off, just hanging out in line was a story unto itself today.  There was an older gentleman that came and sat down beside me to wait and struck up a conversation (in the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he's 84).  He mentioned that he worked at a school district.  I asked if he was a teacher, but he was the school psychologist.  That was interesting, because my dad was a school psych for a number of years!  I don't run into too many of those.  I told him where I was from; turns out his wife was from the same state.  He mentioned generally where he grew up in a different state; turns out it's the same little middle of nowhere town where my grandparents live now!  Apparently he and my grandparents grew up a few miles apart. It was quite an interesting conversation, and a reminder of what a small world it was.

Then there was confession.  Now, there were no bells and whistles.  No special feelings or anything like that.  But the priest said something very simple that I realized is my favorite part of confession.  It is something that I feel few people realize, and if they did, they would probably go to confession more (if they're Catholic) or think confession is a little less crazy (if they're not Catholic).

He said, "The first thing you have to remember about confession is that it's not primarily about the past; it's primarily about the future."

We get so stuck on thoughts like "Oh my goodness, I have to tell someone what I did.  What will the priest think of me." We may worry that our sins are going to be too big and shocking, or too inane and silly.  But we're missing the point.

The past, those sins, are an important part of confession.  But the point is not because we have to unload our Catholic guilt until the next time.  The point is getting those things out in order to leave them behind. Confession is about the future.  It's about where we are going from here without those sins.  It's about the grace of forgiveness, but it's just as much about the grace to "Go and sin no more."

Yes, we will sin again.  Ice skaters will fall in practice, and sometimes in competition.  Then they learn from what they did and keep practicing.  Sometimes it takes them a long time to learn the correct technique.  Sometimes they always struggle with a particular element.  Such is life.  But they can still get out there and get better at it, even if they're not perfect.  That is what confession does.  It helps to take us to the next level.

There you have it.  Confession is a good thing.  (Btw, if you go now, you can beat the Lenten rush!:)