Sunday, March 12, 2017

(almost) Another Year Older

Today is the day before my 32nd birthday. Thirty-Two years alive in this world and I sit down to try to actively think about what I've done in the last year, what I've accomplished to keep my mind from being overwhelmed by what I haven't done: marriage and kids.

When I was a kid, it snowed every single year on my birthday until I moved to Charlotte almost 9 years ago. Now this year, well it's the day before, but in Charlotte that's close enough to count I wake up to the below. So many of my birthday parties were cancelled or changed when I was a kid because of a giant snowstorm.

But anyway, back to the things I've accomplished this past year.
  • I became a godmother, again, to a young woman who came into the Church through RCIA with her father. At 17 she was baptized and confirmed at the Easter Vigil.
  • I was promoted at work. Twice. I've been given the opportunity to develop a new product offering and am going to spend the next year implementing it at a parish just 45 minutes from me. My job has also been completely redefined to suit me specifically. I feel so privileged that they see me as a valuable employee they don't want to lose.
  • I went to Poland and saw Pope Francis with a group of 12 pilgrims. It was a delight.
  • I've read at least 40 books.
  • I completely redesigned my parish's website and keep it up.
  • I've done yoga every day since Thanksgiving.
  • I've attended Daily Mass as many weekdays a week as possible.
  • I painted my kitchen cabinets by myself.
  • I created a proposal at work to implement a Digital Communication Strategy across an entire Diocese.
  • I had a hard discussion with a friend in order to save our friendship which has become even closer now.
  • I spent a week with at a friend's when she brought home her newborn baby boy to help and serve her and her husband during that difficult adjustment time.
  • I went to California to see a woman who I haven't talk to in years to learn about her story of redemption as she prepared to meet her new baby girl.
  • I prayed the Rosary daily as a devotion to Mary as requested at Fatima.
  • I worked on our young adult group at Church to establish a regular pattern of meetings and grow a community that can serve as a place for young people to grow.
  • I went to a concert I've been wanting to attend for a long time. Took the vacation and just went.
  • I attended my godmother's 50th wedding anniversary in Texas.
  • I renewed my consecration to Jesus through Mary.
  • I spoke to a national audience at a work conference, twice - and many other times at regional days.
  • I attended my grandmother's funeral.
  • I was the maid of honor at my best friend's wedding.
  • I paid off one of my student loans - only one remains.
  • I started volunteering again with youth ministry as a way to give my talents back to the Church.
I'm sure there are more - but that list is much longer than the things I didn't do this year: get married and have kids. Although that is still what I desire, I need to remember that my life is important and matters whether these two things happen or not. I am important and matter whether I get married or remain single for the rest of my days.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

When Others Despise You

In general I appreciate when people like me, as I think most people do. For me, it's really hard when people dislike me, even if I don't have to be around them all of the time. I get anxious thinking about the next time we will be in the same location and if I'll be able to just kindly avoid them or if there will be an awkward confrontation. There's a line in scripture about how blessed we are when others despised us because they hated Him first. Him, being Jesus, of course.

But is that always the case? Am I applying a section of scripture to a situation to which it has no relationship? Am I using a passage of scripture to make myself feel better about the actions that I'm going to take, to justify it to myself and others? Am I manipulating the Lord's words to promote my own agenda in the name of the Lord?

I wonder this regarding many things. Passages like "The Lord will fulfill His promises" in relationship to my relationship status. Did He promise that I would be happily married by 32? Um, no - and since that's just 6 weeks away, it's highly unlikely that it will happen. The Groundhog's Shadow this week didn't predict "Katie's husband arrives in 6 weeks" (at least that wasn't the story as I read it). Or "I know the plans I have for you, for your good, not your harm" in relationship to getting a promotion and raise at work. Could God be talking about prospering here on earth? Yes, of course he could. Is He? Maybe.

Ultimately the promise is eternal life if we follow Him. That's all we are guaranteed. Well, that's actually not true. We're also guaranteed suffering. We live in a broken world and are guaranteed to suffer either physically, emotionally, mentally, or all three., anytime, anywhere If we embrace that and use it for the glory of God, then we have a chance at eternal life with Him.

This all comes to me this evening because I received an email from someone who could only be called an acquaintance outlining all of the ways I am a detriment to the young adult program at my parish and all the parishes in Charlotte. How this person used to be like me but now has seen the light so is now a humble person, always joyful, and a light for all people. Okay, maybe that last phrase was a little much. The entire letter almost 1200 words and began with a paragraph justifying its sending with a quote from scripture. This morning in prayer, they were reading 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 11 and it compelled them. What does that verse say? Basically anyone not minding their own business is to be ignored so as to be put to shame and admonished as a brother. Basically given fraternal correction.

Now I'm going to pretend that I love fraternal correction, who does? I don't welcome it or invite it openly; however, I have received it and I have also given it. I believe there are a few important points to take into consideration when you feel fraternal correction is necessary. First, it should be done charitably so as to prevent the person from feeling condemned but rather invited to an interior conviction to change their ways. They should feel enlightened, encouraged, and loved as they evaluate their wrong actions and make a change for the future. Second, it should not be given in an emotional state or to satisfy the other person's desire to say "I know better than you so listen to me." It should not be about the person giving it at all actually. Done in a neutral manner so that it is a benefit to the entire community and the salvation of the person receiving it. Third, it should not include comparisons to other people. The correction should be based on things that can be observed by more than one person, typically more of a systemic program rather than an isolated event, depending on the event. Fourth, it should be given by someone the person trusts and has a relationship with otherwise, it will be seen as a vendetta against the person. Fraternal Correction is not about condemnation or self-seeking, it is about helping your brother or sister grow in their relationship with the Lord and hopefully help them see their own blindness so as to establish a life-long change in them.

The email I received from an acquaintance did not include any of these things. It would have been delivered better in person by someone I trust, not someone who I've seen 10 times in 4 years, especially since it concerns something larger than just an interaction between the two of us. If this person feels that I am a detriment to the program I am helping to lead, that it was almost dead, but our event this weekend seems to have revived it, then they should speak with the person who is actually in charge of the program, my pastor.

I've received correction in the past and have never feel demeaned, diminished, demoralized, despised, or dejected like I did today. I have felt emotionally drained - but that's because it's hard to acknowledge our imperfections and where we need to grow, especially if we, ourselves, haven't seen that area of weakness before during self evaluation. Today I felt all five of those "d" words - which as a wise woman told me years ago are from the devil. Citing Scripture as the motivation for ripping someone apart will never sit well with me. I think it's a cop out for not taking responsibility for yelling and screaming. I also believe keeping a tally of events for years just to pull them out all together is demeaning. Two sentences before you cited Scripture to explain why you were writing these "correcting" things - but you don't seem to have read an earlier part of the same book where it talks about forgiveness.

I haven't decided if I'm going to respond to this person yet. I believe I will have a conversation with my Pastor before doing so since it seems to affect all of the people around me in the ministry I help lead. I want something to work for young adults so badly because I want a group to belong to at my parish. I want to feel like I fit somewhere. I love my friends but we are in such different times of our life that I need some single friends too. I thought this group would be where I would find them, but I have been proven wrong. A few people there seem (according to this letter) to just put up with me, while the rest come once and never return because of me. Is that true? I really don't know, but I hope not.

If I replied today it would be something uncharitable and spiteful. I don't believe anything I could say would change their mind about why they emailed me in this way, like it was their good deed for the day. It wasn't. I can only pray that the Lord will use this experience to help me grow, that's all I can possibly ask for, as with everything. Whatever nuggets of truth are in there, let them shine through so I can bring them to reflection. Hopefully it will not deter me from continuing along the path the Lord has in store, whatever that actually is. Because my first reaction is to think the following thoughts: "I'm the reason this group isn't growing, why no young adult group I've ever been part of has ever grown", "There really is something wrong with me, that's why I'm single, feel lonely, and don't ever accomplish anything", and "I should just give up serving because no one wants me around anyway."

I will believe that none of these thoughts were this person's intention because a wise priest taught me years ago to "presume good will." I try (although I don't always succeed) to set aside what I think their intentions are and presume they intended good, even if it was misguided or to see the wider situation and how there could be many things affecting this person's behavior. I pray that is the case with this letter writer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I Look Into my Inbox and What Did I See?

I receive the weekly notes from the Catholic Match Institute since my unsuccessful dabble in Online
Dating some time ago (link) and today's included the face of one of my favorite priests. A man who helped me become the Catholic woman, for better or worse, that I am today. He is doing a series of five videos for CM through Advent. The first two are below ... I encourage you to watch them and stay tuned for the next three! Fr. Ananias, OSB - what an Advent treat!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Season of Advent

The Christmas season has come to my house. I love having my tree up so much that it didn't get put away until Ash Wednesday last year ... I could blame traveling, but that wouldn't be the whole truth... Anyway, I put my tree up on Sunday after I started Advent with Mass. I know it's a little early. I used to have a rule that decorations didn't go up until after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but last year someone gave me a tree on Thanksgiving weekend and I had to get it out of my hallway. I mean, I couldn't trip over it for two weeks. Plus since I traveled for about half the time it was up last year, I needed more time before Christmas to enjoy it. I promise to leave it up until at least February 2nd - the last acceptable day to have Christmas decorations up as it's the Feast of the Presentation.

This year as I was putting up my Nativity, a few mishaps happened. Well, a few years ago one of my wise men lost his head. Then last year another head fell off. I've tried glue, it doesn't work ... also I noticed today that there is lots of glue on many of these figures. I think a new nativity might be in my future for next year. Now to begin searching...

Beginning my 3rd annual Advent tradition, spending the time with Mary to prepare for my consecration anniversary. Although Advent started on Sunday - today, I begin my daily half hour with Mary to prepare for Christmas. Oh Advent!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Living the DIY Life Annie Sloan Style

When I purchased my house a little over two years ago, I decided I wanted to redo my kitchen cabinets because I disliked the gold knobs and wanted something different. Then, my entire downstairs was redone because of the flood of 2014 (remember when...) lots of other things happened instead. 

The Before
So this Fall, I decided that it was the time. It took me a month to make the decision and at the end of October, I went and took a class with my local Annie Sloan Stockist in South Charlotte to learn the techniques. When they asked what project everyone was planning, I told the teacher I was going to paint my kitchen cabinets. She replied, "Normally we recommend starting with a smaller project." Well, I say "go big or go home." So I went BIG at HOME!

So on November 8th I decided to clean everything and take all of the cabinets down and prepped my floors with paper. I did the cleaning with Krud Kutter and it took all kinds of things off the cabinets! This is fantastic stuff, but kind of gross smelling.

Open & Exposed
I painted the knobs with chalk style spray paint two coats and then poly'd them to make them shiny instead of chalky and matte.

The after, of course I did them outside and not inside, but
there aren't any pictures of that!
I purchased my paint, a brush, a roller, and went to town, painting, painting, painting. 

Annie Sloan Paris Gray
Clear Soft Wax
For three weeks with the tunes blaring. All of the cabinets on the walls, the drawer fronts, and door fronts got three coats of paint and the backs of the doors received two coats. 

Cabinets in the Dining Room
Cabinets down the Hall

I learned after this to prop them up on hangers to keep them
from sticking to the paper as they dried!

This made such a difference in the feel of the kitchen!
After painting and painting and painting and painting for what felt like forever ... but it was just a little over two weeks. The paint dries so quickly I could do two coats in one night.

Because some of my doors with underneath my drawers propping them up, I had two rounds of painting fronts and backs to do. Once everything was painted with as many coats as I was going to do, I sanded them. Not intensely because the paint doesn't need it. Just to even things out and smooth it up a bit. Then I reattached the hardware and rehung the doors. All with my little IKEA electric screwdriver!

Not everyone needs super power tools!
I was finally able to stop living on the paper covered floor, so on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I threw it all away and cleaned my hangers which were covered with paint. I still need to rehang everything in my upstairs closet!

How Fantastic Already!
Then over the coarse of this weekend, I started waxing the cabinets. This was the hardest part - the uppers were the hardest since I couldn't scoot across the floor. I used the brush for the first coat and wiped off the excess with cheese cloth. For the second coat, which was SO much easier, I wiped the wax on with the cheese cloth. I was dreading the 2nd coat, but being able to wipe it on made it a lot easier and it went so fast!

I wanted to buff them so I purchased a car buffing attachment (that only AutoZone carries) and a friends Power Drill (maybe a girl does need power tools)! 

More Power!
After buffing, I put on my cabinet bumpers and replaced the knobs on all of the doors and drawers. 

These are so much better than what I
scrapped off when I started!
When adding the bumpers be sure to put them in the upper,
upper corner, so they totally miss the wall!
I cleaned everything up and added some flare to the top with frames (which need new pictures since those are from a friend's nursery), new signs from The Happy Little Zoo (check it out for yourself), and some left over twinkle lights. Now I have a happy little kitchen!