Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Help, Please

I have a friend that has never once shown the slightest interest in anything remotely spiritual/religious. Today she admitted that she wanted to look for more answers.  Which is why she was going to go to a pag.an meet up group.  She tells me this with the preface "Don't be mad at me..."

I do have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I don't want her to get all tangled up in p.aga.nism.  On the other hand, she's starting a process of seeking, which is fantastic!  I told her that I wouldn't get angry about that, because I think it's awesome that she's looking for answers and I respect her search.  I didn't tell her that I would be praying for her, but I will be.  One of the things that she is searching for is her roots (Celtic).  So I started by asking St. Patrick to pray for her. (And a couple hours later, she told me she changed her mind about going to the meet up group. I think she's still looking into that religion, but just not sure about that group.)

Anyway, if anyone knows any good prayers/novenas/patron saints to pray for her while she's on this journey, let me know!  And for my non-Catholic readers, I do very much pray to Jesus in my own words, but I like to ask as many people as possible with something like this, especially with my imperfections about figuring out how to pray the right way.  Any prayers you guys can spare, too, would also be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last Weekend... in Photos!

Okay, I think I figured out the picture thing.  Which means that it is time to make up for almost 3 months without any new photos on this here blog.  Which means this will be a complete glut of photos. To the point that a page break is necessary. Which means if you like pictures, enjoy! And if you have flashbacks of having to politely sit and watch interminable slideshows of other people's vacations, it's probably time to move on.

And now I shall reveal a weird obsession with palm trees that I did not discover until a few days ago.  Forgive me, I've lived in landlocked and relatively cool places all my life.  There have been very few palm trees in my life. There are pictures of other stuff, too.
Like this. Seriously? Who tries that kind of stuff?  But you know someone does if they feel the need to put signs by all the sprinklers in the hotel room.  Don't worry, I carefully avoided getting hangers anywhere near the sprinklers. That were on or by the ceiling.

Playing Catch Up

It's been a great couple of weeks, but busy.  Now I'm trying to get somewhat caught up.  I was going to do a Quick Takes to get caught up, but I think I'm going to join up with those that are going dark for life tomorrow. It's not as though anyone will notice, they'll just think that I'm still being a big old slacker over here.  But I will know.  On the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion, I feel the need to make some grand gesture, but I do not know of any grand gestures that I can do.  So I will do a little one, because it's better than nothing.  It's been too long since I've been to adoration, so that is where I will spend part of my evening when I would normally be blogging or watching TV.

So, I'm getting caught up because I was in San Diego this past week.  I was only there for 5 days (a little less, actually), but as I was getting ready to leave my plumbing went out (as in, major leak and some sort of septic tank back up).  Luckily, I just happened to catch it right away, and it's one of those times that I was extremely thankful to be renting.  When I left town, there were tarps everywhere and men in my basement, but the landlord was here to take care of things, so I still made my flight.  That got added on top of the normal things to get ready to leave.

I've been back for a couple of days, but I'm still trying to get everything settled.  Let me tell you, I think my priorities may be skewed. As in, I have been through all my pictures (and let me tell you, I took way more than any sane person should ever take!), I have uploaded them so that I can start ordering some prints that I want.  I have spent some time trying to figure out where and how I want to share them online.  Here's the dilemma.  I hate fb's picture policy and always have. However, I've shared pictures on there anyway because I like to share them with my friends. But I've always been a little uncomfortable. Same thing on this blog.  There are pictures that I have put up, but have thought that maybe I should have a watermark on. So I'm working through what I want to do about all of that, but in the meantime I have some awesome pictures that I'm dying to share!

Also, I started "The Blue Castle" by LM Montgomery because this delightful blogger brought it up (I don't remember just where) and I love LMM, so I thought I should try it.  I thought it would be great to have on the ki.ndle for the trip, and it was, but I made the mistake of starting it on the flight home.  Then I couldn't stop.  There are dishes still in my sink (since I couldn't wash them before I left due to the lack of plumbing situation), but I have done a lot with my pictures and finished my book.  Yeah, it makes a lot of sense, right?

While I was in S.D., I was technically there for a class, but I got there a day early so I had some time to spend at the ocean and wandering around a bit.  My flight out wasn't until late afternoon, so I got to check out the zoo and the snoozing baby panda.  The class was fantastic and should not only give me another tool to use for my practice, but could even help take it to the next level!  No, really, it was that good!

I am slowly catching up on blogs as well.  I'm sorry I'm not commenting quite as frequently, but I'm at least reading, I promise!

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)
1) I made French toast on Sunday.  Well, I made it Saturday night to be eaten on Sunday.  The whole plan seemed brilliant. I like a little special treat Sunday mornings, and usually I make an omelet (which is really good, if I do say so myself) but this promised no work in the morning.  Make it ahead, get all the dishes done, and throw it in the morning when I wake up so that it will be ready for me when I am awake enough to it.  Except... Somehow it turned out extremely soggy.  I blamed it on the vegan recipe that I was using and vowed to try it again, only with eggs.  It took me two whole days to realize that I had planned on halving the recipe, and that I stuck to that plan with the bread, but not so much with the liquid.  Hmm, maybe not the recipe's fault after all. (But I still want an egg in my next batch.)

2) I am still avoiding desserts.  My problem right now is that when I'm hungry, I eat a bowl of cereal.  And not a small one.  Although the kind I eat isn't frosted or something like that, any cereal has a lot of sugar.  That's my goal next week.  Cut down on the cereal.  Maybe I'll go for something crazy like fruits or vegetables instead.

3) It has been crazy, crazy dry around here recently.  The lack of moisture in the air has not helped my sinuses or allergies.  So I've been running a vaporizer a little more.  Usually I only run it at night.  Today I thought it would be good to run it during the day.  I decided it to move it from my bedroom to a central location between rooms.  Brilliant, right?  Except that's where the thermostat is and having a warm mist just below the thermostat on a cold day is not as brilliant as I'd like.

4) I got to have a quick and unexpected blogger meet up last week!  So fun! I was feeling a little guilty at hinting about it, seeing as how things were a little hectic for them, moving across country and all. But I'm really glad that it worked out and it was so fun to meet her in person, as well as her husband and sweet little R.!  

5) So much hype about Downton Abbey this week.  Here's the thing about Downton Abbey.  From what little I've seen and heard about it, I know I would love it (once I got into it; I wasn't hooked after watching the first episode).  However, the more people that tell me I have to watch it (and even computer programs; guess what show Netflix put at the top of it's top ten suggestions for me?), the more I'm thinking, "Eh, maybe. After I get through several other shows." 

6) I still have my Christmas tree up. I always try to go for the entire Christmas season, but what usually happens is that after the Epiphany I'm ready to be done, so I figure that's good.  This time I wasn't quite done yet, so I decided to leave it up.  Yeah, I'm done now.  However, I'm so close to the full Christmas season that I'll try to leave it up until Sunday.  But Monday? It's down.

7) My big goal for tonight is to go to a study at my church on early Church history.  This shouldn't have to be a goal, right?  It should be easy.  But that means I have to go there, find a room that I'm not familiar with, and, you know, meet people.  Complete strangers.  Here's the thing, I like having met people, but I hate meeting people.  Any one little thing can make me turn around fast if it can become an excuse not to meet people.  I'm two minutes late?  Wow, that's too bad.  Well, don't want to be disruptive!  Can't find the room? Darn, guess I can't go.  No need to search too hard, right?  Extra tired after work? It happens.  Don't want to fall asleep on these strangers.  That'd just be rude.

No worries, I'll put on my big girl pants and I'll go.  But I'd rather do a blogger meet up any day! Those are awesome!

Have a wonderful weekend, and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Charting Update

Because you really needed to hear more about my chart!

I think the honeymoon is over.  It's not like this is a ton of work, but it's some work.  It's a pain some days.  And I know I had some missed observations, but I didn't own up to all of them.  It annoys me that I'm trying so hard, but I get marked as non-compliant because I forgot a couple observations here and there. Can't wait to see what happens when I can finally get on a trail again. Because do you really think I'm going to make proper observations while peeing behind a tree?  Call me maybe not.

There is a suggestion in my first full cycle of charting that there may be some things off with the hormones a little.  Or that I was simply stressed this cycle (and there was some stress).  Either way,- despite my frustrations with all the dang questions and the never ending repetition and the insistence on testing everything, even when there's nothing to be tested- I'm still glad that I'm charting.  Knowledge is power, and it amazes me what I can see with looking at a chart with all this info lined up in a row.

I made the comment to my FCP that I don't think this cycle is "normal" for me.  But how do I know? I wasn't really paying attention before, and the things that are a little off would be easy to ignore if it weren't for the stickers glaring at me.

Any frustration with the FCP was not her fault.  She was doing her job exactly as she should, but some of the things we have to be a stickler about are annoying.  Did I mention that already?  Sorry.  (But not too much, because all these observation? Annoying!)

Oh, one more distinct advantage is that knowing more about how my cycles work means that one day, between looking at my chart and noting some very minor symptoms, I realized that that day or maybe the next would be CD1.  Sure enough.  It's nice to have a good head's up on things like that.  I mean, I always had a general idea, but sometimes I would be 3-5 days off.  So I like being more aware of that and not having to wonder if it's getting close just because it's getting close to the infamous "28 days" of a cycle.

So, my satisfaction level is a little down because I'm annoyed, I'm still very committed and think it's a very worthwhile thing to do.  I don't regret doing it.  I do regret not doing it sooner.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When Upside Down and Backwards Stop Surrender

My understanding of the world is bass ackwards.  I'm not alone in this, yours is too.  Catholics don't believe that original sin led to total depravity because what God created and called "very good" can't suddenly become "very bad", though it can and did get broken.  And this brokenness usually means that we see the world from the wrong end.  I heard someone who credited Chesterton (how do you like that specificness with the references?) with saying something along the lines of if our view of the world is upside down, then maybe the person walking around on their hands is not as crazy as we thought.  Maybe they're just seeing the world right side up.

I knew for years that I needed to let go and surrender everything to God, particularly this deep desire for a husband and children.  And I fought against it in so many ways.  I'm so glad God is so patient with me even in my confusion, because I guarantee that I wouldn't be in any place of surrender without His grace.

I was afraid of letting go of my dreams for fear that they would fall to the ground and smash into pieces.  But that's not how it is.  Have you ever seen a little kid trying to carry something too big for them?  Sometimes they want help, and a parent may reach down to take it, but if they don't let go they usually struggle about as much as they did before.  If they let go the parent can carry it for them.  That's more how it is.

I was also afraid that if I let go, I would just be giving in to the chains that bound me.  Like someone with some sort of Stockholm syndrome, letting go of my desires meant accepting the chains of singleness and learning to be happy with them.  But that's not how it is either.  I now question whether it was the chains that held me or whether I was the one holding on to the chains.

Surrendering doesn't mean that I'm giving up my dreams forever, nor does it mean that I'm accepting this cross until the end of time.  I'm surrendering to Him.  I still want something different in my life.  But it's not choking me any more.  I was just reading the parable of the sower today in Mark.  I was in the brambles, growing, but the thorns were there choking off that growth.  I think that anything that we hang onto more than we hang onto Him becomes those thorns and it can choke it off and kill us. Surrendering means I feel much more able to bloom where I'm planted and I'm more able to take each day for what it is and not for what I need it to change to in order to be happy.

I still have down moments.  I still hope for change.  But the burden is so much lighter now that He is carrying it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Bible Study

Abraham Joshua Heschel:

There are dead thoughts and there are living thoughts. A dead thought has been compared to a stone which one may plant in the soil. Nothing will come out. A living thought is like a seed. In the process of thinking, an answer without a question is devoid of life. It may enter the mind; it will not penetrate the soul. It may become part of one's knowledge; it will not come forth as a creative force.

Because we are getting ready to dive into Matthew (yay!), I've been thinking about Bible study.  One of the difficulties that people have with Bible study is that the whole thing seems overwhelming sometimes.  It's intimidating to go to Scripture and be afraid that we won't be able to find the answers.  I submit that finding the answers is perhaps less important than finding the questions.  The quote above is referring to finding the questions that we should be asking about life.  I think that many of those are some of the same questions we should ask when we are looking at Scriptures.

I admit that when I go to the Bible, I want answers.  I want deeper understanding of Truth! and Enlightenment! and Insight!  But sometimes there are only questions.  That's okay. I think that without the questions, the truth, enlightenment, and insight are all beyond us.

There is something else that I often forget when I get revved up to study the Bible.  I want to learn stuff.  I want to know how it all fits and what it says and why it says it.  I need to focus less on that and more on the fact that this is not simply about knowledge.  If it was, then we should probably leave Bible study to the Biblical scholars.  It's their job, so they actually have the time to dig in deep and work around all the little nuances.  What's most important is where Bible study is about that personal relationship.  The history and the facts and the rules are important, but they only make sense in the light of the relationship with the One that is the principle author.  That's why Bible study is important to all that want to follow Christ, and not only to the scholars.

Okay, now I have a choice.  Dishes, or the BadCatholic drinking game. Eh, no alcohol in the house, so I guess it's dishes first and then bed.  What an exciting life I lead.

Oops! I Did It Again...

As you can see by the song title, I am getting old. Okay, older than I was.  (By a strange coincidence, it seems like everyone I know goes through the same thing!  Who would have thought?)

Okay, but what I did was that I got on good old Bookface.  Now, I have been quite happy on there recently, because I just stopped the news feeds on those old acquaintances that I never talk to anymore and whose child after child remind me of how far I am falling behind. This time, the problem was that I decided that I wanted to actually put some of these people on the acquaintances list so I could have greater privacy on a few posts by restricting who could see them.

It sucks when you see a 4 or 5 year old and remember when their birth announcement was a blow.

It also sucks when you realize that everyone (clearly not everyone, but of course when I'm in a pouty mood, I exaggerate) your age has at least 2 kids (several had said 2 was their plan all along) or 4 or 5 kids if they just wanted to have a lot of kids. Those 3-5 years younger than me are at about 2 or 3 kids.

It further sucks when you realize that you are now in a whole new territory.  First there was when all my friends were getting married and I wasn't.  Then there was when several of those friends got divorced and you think, "Well, at least I missed the first marriage."  Now I realize that some of those people had gotten remarried and I still haven't managed the first time around!

And I got all this from profile pictures, because I wasn't about to click on their profiles.

Most of that was yesterday, and there's a little residual today, but luckily it is dissipating much faster than it used to.  Hopefully that is because I am getting better at surrender and not because I am giving up!  There really is a big difference between the two, and I am not yet ready to give up.  Hanging on to hope, baby!  Even if there hasn't really been much of an external reason to hope in a while.  Eh, well.  It's not as though dates or or the presence of attractive and available guys in my social circles is my reason for hope anyway.

Anyway, I should be safe again for a while.  I'm back to people in my newsfeed that I don't feel like that when I hear any news that they have (for the most part!)  I also realized the danger of the isolationist principles I have, though.  One acquaintance (I never knew her that well) is going through a really tough time.  I didn't know that she was because I had blocked her feed.  Now I know, but by not keeping up even a slim thread of friendship, I can pray for her, but I feel really strange trying to offer any other support.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)

1) This has been a really tough week for a lot of people, and I am praying for you!  I am also praying for healing for Jennifer Fulwiler, who normally hosts Quick Takes.

2) So, I did the saint generator thing. I admit, I'm always hesitant to go there.  Not because I pick one and get the patron saint of sick people and end up in the hospital the next day. My case is exactly the opposite.  In fact, when I first read her post, I was hoping she'd finally get the kind of experience I usually get... That is, pick a saint and try to stick with them even though you feel no connection whatsoever, or cheat and pick another one because you're tired of saints that seem to have no connection to your life and you get a second one that also has no connection to your life.  My saint last year was the patron saint of those in authority, engineers and large families.  Umm, I know some engineers?  (Actually, I didn't write about that one because I was a little bitter because it seems like the last few guys that I've dated have been engineers... and they all seem to have similar personality traits that turn me off while making me feel guilty for being turned off because they're really nice guys.)

3) Anyway, this year I decided that I have a special intention that I want to focus on for the first 3 months of the year, so I decided to pray for a saint that could help me with that intention.  Wouldn't you know it?  I got a saint that was perfect for the situation!  I'll tell you more about it later, but it makes me smile and have a lot of hope and excitement for what the next 3 months may bring!

4) In keeping with the 3 months thing, although this is unrelated, I didn't make a New Year's resolution.  I made a 1st quarter resolution. Food and I have a problem.  And it's that I like it too much.  In particular it's that I don't just have one sweet tooth, I have about 28 (seriously, just had to count my teeth...) Every time I think that I need to have more moderation about sweets and desserts, I last about 5 minutes and then eat double to make up for the extra trouble that I had in waiting.  Since I can't do moderation, it's all out for the next 3 months.  Currently it's a habit to eat something sweet after a meal (particularly if I'm home), or as a snack, or when I'm hungry, or when I'm bored.  It's a bad habit and it's got to go.  I'm thinking if I can make it for 3 months and it's no longer a habit, then I'll go for moderation.  But I'm still going to avoid having stuff around the house much.  No use breaking a habit and then reinforcing it again. (Also something that I need to learn to use with more moderation: Exclamation points.  And colons. And parentheses.  And sentence fragments. And starting sentences with conjunctions. And ellipses...)

5) Just in time, too.  I gained 5 pounds through the summer and fall (because hiking and climbing just don't burn the same calories and snowshoeing and cross country skiing).  Then, in the last month or two, another 5, because I haven't been able to do much of anything by way of exercise and also the fact that my sweet habit had gotten completely out of control, and it was the season of sweets, sweets everywhere! Since New Year's, I'm down 3#. I guarantee that won't continue (the rate, hopefully I can get rid of those other 7#, too) but getting rid of some extra water weight like that at the beginning is a great motivator!

6) Thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in joining me for Bible study.  I was really excited, because I honestly thought that I might throw it out there and then listen to the crickets chirping (although it's winter and we've seen a lot of single digits- yes!- so likely they wouldn't have been much help).  I have sent out an email with the details, and if you didn't get one, it's because I don't have your email, so email me, and I'll get that email to you.  It's not too late if anyone else is interested in joining in and would like more info!  Email me.

7) Have a great weekend, and head over to Hallie's for more Quick Takes!