Thursday, December 19, 2013

Calendar Winner!

Okay, I don't know about everyone else, but I am suddenly just crazy busy.  I don't like it!  I know this is a busy time of year, but I've been fortunate enough to have it slow down the last few years right around now.  At first it felt weird, like maybe I didn't have enough of a real life to be busy at the holidays, but then I realized it was awesome.  And now that I have realized it, there is no such luck this year.

Down to business.  The calendars are here!  I was starting to be a little concerned if they would make it, but they are here.  I am going to warn you already that there is a good chance that I won't get this calendar out on time that you'll have it by January 1st.  It's a long story, but blame the weather. And an insane number of new patients with ridiculous amounts of paperwork.  And the fact that I won't stop climbing, even though I don't have time. Anyway.  I will try to get them out ASAP, but there will likely be a bit of a delay, sorry.

The calendars ARE dinky, and the colors are not quite right, but overall I'm pretty happy with them.  The colors being off will annoy me throughout the year a bit, but I'm guessing that you won't be as disturbed by it as I am.

And the winner is... Joy from Joy in the Morning!  Yay, Joy! :) Click on over to her blog if you want to see some adorable pictures of some darling kids! I'm really excited that the random numbers generator picked Joy, but I have to be honest, I really wish I could give one to everyone that commented!

...

Those of you that talked to me about wanting to get a calendar even if you didn't win, I'll be in touch and we can discuss the details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dive Deep into Desire

There is an aspect of waiting that I have thought very little about.  I have felt it a lot, but I haven't really thought about it until I saw this article earlier this Advent (though it was written last year, I believe).

Desire.  Yep, I am familiar with the concept.  I have felt it, I have run from it, I have tried to stamp it into submission, I have ignored it, I have been beaten by it, I have been consumed by it. But I have not thought about it. I am thinking now, and there are interesting things to be found there.

One quote that I especially liked from Fr. Martin's article: "[D]esire is a key way that God speaks to us, whether in Advent or the rest of the year. Our holy desires are gifts from God." (Emphasis mine.)

Desire as a gift from God.  On the one hand, I'm not sure I've considered it in just those terms. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree.  Like many of God's amazing gifts, it is possible to twist this one into something that it shouldn't be, to allow it to become the god we seek rather than leading us to the God we need, but in the right context this desire can be a very beautiful thing.

I'm not sure that I can formulate all my thoughts on this subject into concrete words and ideas.  I only know that when I contemplated surrendering my singleness to God, one of the things that I feared the most about this was that God would remove this desire and ache for marriage and family from my life.  I never articulated it, but looking back I realize that accepting this desire without its fulfillment means that there is a piece missing from my life.  But if the desire itself is gone, so is a piece of myself.  This desire communicates something essential about me, both to myself and to anyone who knows me.

Our deepest longings shape us, and they help shape our understanding and appreciation for the very things that we desire. One of the implications that I have barely begun to understand is the way that these desires are a gift of God, and a way that He communicates intimately with us.  But they are also an opportunity for us to freely offer them back to Him, that He will do with them what He wills.  In acknowledging and praying for and seeking that desire, we accept that gift from Him, but in also letting it go we give that as a gift back.

Waiting and hoping are intimately connected with this desire.  I continue to wait, and continue to hope and continue to let go.  I don't know where it will lead, but I can tell you that when I went to Adoration this Sunday, I poured out all my deepest desires and longings to Him, and I lifted up yours as well.  My prayer for the rest of this Advent is that we will let those holy desires wash over us, and accept them in whatever form they come today, and that those desires will connect us even more deeply with our desire for communion and relationship with Him.

Okay.  I've written and rewritten this post enough times that I don't know what I'm saying anymore.  I will just hit "publish" and if it doesn't make sense, go read what Fr. Martin had to say.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peace

Okay, here is post 1 of 2 in my Advent miniseries.  Kat said I could call it a miniseries, so I will and I am.

Guys, I am a chump.  No, really, I am the very definition of chumpishness.  I am "chump" personified. Don't believe me?  Here is the definition:

Chump
noun (informal)
A foolish person.
           -an easily deceived person; a sucker


Yup.  Here's the thing.  I started (and finished!) this whole post about peace.  Because, you know, I have it all figured out. Okay, I never claimed to have it all figured out, but I thought there was some good stuff to share.  I am not going to say there was nothing good in the post, but it all seemed very dry and silly after I watched a couple of videos tonight.  So instead of trying to explain it all in the context of my own little issues, I'm going to share those videos instead.  Seriously, make time for them.  Abigail Smith was a beautiful woman who died of terminal cancer last week, and these two videos share something of her heart in that last year or so of her life.  I can talk about peace, or you could just take a soak in it, from her heart to yours.

I know not everyone will be able to watch them, so let me just say this.  Peace is resting in God in this moment. I wanted peace from God about being single for the rest of my life, if that's what He was asking, but He's not asking me to live all of my single future right now.  Just this moment.  I spent a lot of time with being overwhelmed about how awful it would be to be single forever, but I don't have to be single forever, just right now.  And not only can I handle being single today, there are actually some beautiful things about it.   I am coming to realize that tomorrow there will be more graces to handle being single (and more beautiful things about being single), or it will be the day that I meet someone. Also, there will be hard things about being single, but if all I have to think about or deal with is today's hard things, it's not nearly as bad as if I project what those hard moments will look like compounded by the next 50 years or so.  Just today.  Peace is meeting God today in this moment right where you are, not studying the past or the future, so much as Him.

Furthermore, I am not and will never live these moments perfectly.  I will get mad, I will fail to love to those in my life to the best of my ability, I will get annoyed and be annoying, I will roll my eyes, I will dwell in the past and moan about my predictions of the future. These moments will happen and do happen regularly.  The important part is to realize when you are doing them, and then let it go and turn back to Him.  Waiting well, having peace, surrendering to God, have nothing to do with being perfect and everything to do with being faithful.  (Who recognizes a Mother Theresa reference?)

Finally, whatever suffering is in your life, whatever evil is in your life, whatever sin is in your life, that ugliness itself is not God's plan, but He is there in the midst of it, He has suffered so that our suffering may have meaning and lead to life, and He has a plan to bring amazing grace and beauty out of the very depths of the pain.

Okay, time to either stop or descend back to being the chump again.

Terminal Cancer Wasn't In My Plans from Andrew PC Smith // SMITH PIXELS on Vimeo.

Amazing Abby - A Legacy of Hope from Andrew PC Smith // SMITH PIXELS on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Advent Posts (I Hope!)

There's so much that I want to say, but every time I get started writing, I don't get too far.  I had a vision of writing a little miniseries about some things about Advent, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that's not going to happen. Unless two posts can count as a "miniseries" (seems to me that there has to be at least 3 to count as a series, right? What's the official ruling on that?) Anyway, for better or worse, I think you're getting two.  But two of the things that I have learned about most in the last year or so, so hopefully it's worth something.

Let me do a quick introduction to both of them (see, I say that like two other posts exist; in reality, I just deleted what I had started.  But two posts are lingering in the theoretical realm of my brain!)

My story is that I grew up with a big family and we may have had some squabbles, but really no drama.  My parents have been married 36 years, I have lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.  Family is awesome and always has been for me, and I couldn't wait to bring my own family into the craziness. I remember going to a wedding when I was 16 and wishing that that was still an acceptable age to get married because I couldn't wait to be married and have kids. Not that I had a groom in mind, and not that I really would have wanted to be married before college, but it was a thought that crossed my mind.

Then I went to college, figuring that I would meet someone there.  That's where my parents met, and that's how it works a lot in the middle of the country.  Meet someone in college and get married when you graduate at 22 or 23.  I always wanted a lot of kids and couldn't wait to get started.  Only problem is... I didn't so much as have a boyfriend in college, let alone a relationship that was serious enough for marriage.  Then there was grad school... Still did not meet anyone. It is now 10 years since I graduated college, and I'm still single as I can be.  I am not and never will be "the cat lady", but a big part of that is that I have allergies and don't really want the responsibility of an animal.

Over the last decade plus, there are two truths that I have come to acknowledge in my life.

1) I am called to marriage.  I am not called to singleness (perhaps some are called to this, but this is a default state in my life, not a calling for me).  Nor am I called to the religious life.  Believe me, I explored it, but I knew quickly that was not the case for me. I can tell you without the slightest bit of doubt that a large part of me will always be missing if I remain single forever.

2) I may not ever get married and have children.

When these two things are true in your life (or something similar... Like you want children, but may never have them, or you want a good relationship with your family, but it may never happen, or whatever is on your heart tonight that may or may not be a part of your life, or whatever it may be), then my friend, you are in for a lot of pain.  I know this because of experience and because of the cries of so many hearts that have shared their pain/joy/light/darkness on their blogs as well. It's especially tough when it seems the whole world gets to have what you want, except you.  And the holidays, that time focused on family and small children, when all your friends and cousins your age are bringing their husbands and multiple children, and you are still not.  It's just tough.

I begged God to let me get married, have children.  I tried to do everything in my power.  I've done the computer dating thing, the blind date thing, even the speed dating thing (that's a trip and a half, let me tell you).  I usually don't turn down dates, because I figure I'll give about anyone a chance (unless he sets off the creep-o-meter) and I am here to tell you that there are a lot of nice guys out there, just haven't found a fit for me. I have been as active as possible in a number of different things, both according to my interest and where I might meet people. I have been busy trying everything at times and at other times been busy living life and let whatever happens, happen. I have prayed my heart out, and I have cried when there were no words left.  I have felt extraordinarily close to God and I have felt so far from Him that I questioned His existence.  I have rested in His care and other times wondered why He hated me (intellect being different from emotion here).

I kept hoping that I would finally stumble on the secret formula for what God wanted from me so He would finally answer my prayer.  Until finally, finally one day about 18 months ago I was so tired of it all, I finally gave up and told Him "whatever".  I asked that He either fulfill the first truth in my life or give me peace with the second.  I was no longer going to fight.  Whichever He wanted for my life, He could have.

You know what His answer was?  None of the above. He didn't give me one or the other, or take anything away, but asked me to surrender the tension of letting both be true. Not with words, I don't hear things like that. It was just a question in my heart if I was willing to accept both and even surrender being stuck in the wait.  And in my ongoing attempt to do this, I have found peace, and I have learned something about desire.  I think that both of these things are very on topic for Advent, so that's what I want to try to write, a post about peace and a post about desire.

~~~~~

Okay, I really thought this would be a two paragraph post.  That's how it goes, you know.  Start out with no words and end up with more than you quite know what to do with. If you did make it this far, I just wanted to let you know that the calendar giveaway is still going on. It will keep going until the calendars make it to my doorstep, and then I will randomly pick someone. Some have been sweet enough to ask if they could buy a calendar if they didn't win, and the answer is yes, yes you can.  We will work something out.  But first I have to see if they are only dinky, but good quality.  I don't want you to pay good money for something that looks like I printed it off my parents' ancient printer! (That happened once with a calendar I bought from one website; hence my paranoia).

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes and Calendar Giveaway!



Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

1) Okay. I'm still getting over my calendar problems.  I had my calendar made and was all set to order on the program that I've used for the last couple of years... And then it said I had to update my app to order through this program, but then it wouldn't let me update my app because it said my system was too old.  It is 5 years old, and I know that's ancient in computer terms, but NOT GETTING A NEW ONE RIGHT NOW!

Which means that I had to order through a different website.  And I had issues with it.  It's a smaller calendar than what I've been doing, I couldn't get the layout exactly the way that I want (though it might be a little better in some ways) and I don't know whether the quality of printing will be what I've become accustomed to.  On the other hand, it's cheaper, so I guess that's good.  As long as it doesn't look cheap, which is what I'm afraid of, and have had problems with in the past.  Really, I think I could get over the rest of it pretty easily, except the part where it's so much smaller.  I really like my big calendars!

However, I just went ahead and ordered them today anyway, because today was the last day of their 32% off sale and I could get free shipping (though with my luck, they'll start a 40% off sale tomorrow; I stink at getting deals).  I guarantee that if I kept shopping around for everything I was looking for, I would have to go without a calendar for 2014, because I wouldn't get it taken care of in time.  Anyway, such as they are, they're coming, and hence the giveaway at the end of the Takes today!

2)  I had a pretty exciting spin class yesterday.  At the beginning of class, the instructor looked around and said "Oh, good. It's all regulars." Y'all.  She counted me as a regular!  Maybe that wouldn't seem so exciting to some.  I have been going consistently for the last month or so.  But I'm excited because it means I've made it a whole month of being consistent at going to the gym!  And I have noticed some significant changes in my strength and endurance... All due to being regular enough to be called a regular.

Also exciting was that I got a "nice job" from the instructor after class.  I've been working more on staying out of the saddle when everyone else did, and most of the time, I can handle it now.  It's really nice to have someone notice and acknowledge the effort.  Side note, if you're interested in how spin class has made it to my latest list of analogies for Catholicism- purgatory in this case- I wrote a post about that here.

3) Ooh, while I'm linking things, you HAVE to check this out if you have a geeky Catholic side, or are curious about geeky Catholics. It's some explanation of how the theology behind the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her assumption into heaven are both consistent with science.  It does not prove scientifically that these things happened (as far as I know, there's no way to measure the things these doctrines deal with), but it shows that the science and the theology fit together in a crazy sweet way!

4) It is still true that I have things that I want to write about waiting.  It is also true that they are not getting done very quickly.  I'm waiting until the time is right, get it?  Haha- okay, not really.  Lame.  Anyway, I have worked on them a little here and there, but it's not coming together like I want it to- and then I realize that it better come together sooner rather than later if I want to post them during Advent because it's less than 3 weeks until Christmas! How did that happen?!

5) I wish I could say that I was all Advent-y with my little celebrations and waited until Gaudete Sunday or some such significant time to put up my decorations.  Nope.  I love having them up, and it's such a short time (even though I wait for the end of the Christmas season to take them down), so they are going up as soon as I can spare a little time.  It doesn't take long, because I don't go all out, but I still need a little bit.  Also, I have to get past my fear of my boxes in the basement.  I've had a couple of flooding issues and didn't care enough to look deeply for water damage. (A cursory glance showed little to no problems).  Plus, there're spiders down there.  And some are shiny and black.  If they stay down there, well and good, but if they hitch a ride up on the boxes, I will not be happy!

6) Wow, there're a lot of long ones here.  So how about a freebie?

7) Giveaway!

Okay, the rules are as they ever are around here.  1) You have to want a calendar. (Even if it's on the dinky side and may look cheap; no guarantees. But at least there are a lot of mountains in it, which is always a plus in my book!) 2) You have to leave a comment.

I will then run a random numbers thingy to pick someone and send them a calendar. Here are a couple of photos included:
November 
July (without the watermark, I promise)

February

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Whole Season of Waiting

So.  We're heading into Advent.  A very, very strange thing happened to me this year.  I realized Advent was coming up (not the strange part), and I got excited about it!  Weird, huh? A whole season of the Church dedicated to waiting, and I was excited?? You see, there's this thing about waiting, in that it sucks and I hate it, so why on earth is there suddenly excitement?

The answer is, I don't really know.  Maybe I'm starting to see it a little like spin class and some of my other hard work outs.  I have a sort of dread for those days.  They kind of hurt.  Not that they're causing pain, but they cause serious discomfort.  But, wow.  The results of those kinds of workouts!  Physically and mentally, they make you stronger.  You dread them and you love them all at the same time. At the end of spin class, I get off the bike and think, "I just did that."  Or I get to the top of the hill and think, "I'm still alive, and I made it, and look at that amazing view!"  And then I see the results in my activities.  More energy, more ability to keep trucking on the trail or with whatever adventures are up for that current weekend.

Waiting sucks, but waiting with a purpose leads to something greater (even while it still sucks). As in, I still don't know if this particular wait (to fulfill a marriage vocation) will ever end.  There are no guarantees that I will ever get married and even fewer guarantees that I will ever get to have children.  But I do know that this waiting has led to other things, much needed things in my life.  Things pertaining to the higher calling that we all have in our call to holiness, to be set apart for God.

Maybe that's why I'm so excited about Advent.  We are all called to holiness, whatever our stage in life is.  We are all waiting for something.  For some, the wait is all consuming and obvious in their lives.  Others are so caught up in the day to day of their current lives that they are mostly unaware of the wait. But Advent reminds us that we are all waiting for the coming of Christ, both in personal ways in our lives now, but also that we are waiting as a Church for His coming.  And He is coming.  And that's exciting!

So, I'm sure like last year, there will be another couple of posts about waiting.  Because I am one of those people for whom the waiting is obvious.  I'm not very good at it most of the time, but I will say that after a decade or more of waiting, I feel like I'm finally starting to learn a couple of things, so I'll share some things that have had some meaning for me. And they may even be slightly different from some of the things I posted last Advent (but I guarantee nothing, because I'm a slow learner, and may not have picked up much new.) I hope that it helps me get a better grasp on learning and living these things and maybe it will help someone reading, too.

Have a very blessed Advent!