Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday, May 15th

Wow readers it has been quite a while since I've written anything at all and the last thing I wrote was just a bunch of pictures so that hardly counts - but you seem to be coming back day after day to read what I wrote. I'm back ... for now, I can't make any serious commitments. I want to, but I can't. Instead of boring you with a first I did this, then I did that sort of quick takes, I'm going to relay the things that I've learned in the last 3 weeks. The last time I wrote was my last day on the job as Office Manager. So I've learned lots of things these past three weeks at my new job.

The most glaring thing is that I don't think I handle stress as well as I thought I did. Not that I experience it all that often, I'm very blessed that I don't really get easily stressed out (not in the past few years anyway). It usually manifests itself with being really tired, but not getting enough sleep. But these past few weeks I've had some neck pain and some issues with my tooth (which are not entirely resolved - prayers would be most appreciated). Although there are underlying issues, I think they were exacerbated by stress. I won't go into everything that happened, but a lot of personal learning experienced coupled with beginning a new job. I learned that I have to make sure that I'm doing stress relieving activities. So I took up running again. After my break up with running back in August - we are back to together. Starting slowly - just getting to know each other again. I've committed to running a 5K at the end of the summer with a friend, so now just to train. I'm three days/1 week into the Couch to 5K training app (my favorite running app).

I learned that I can actually sell things. This was a concern of mine with my new job - but I made a few sales this week and now my daily numbers no longer read 0-0-0! So that's pretty exciting!

I learned that I really enjoy living alone. I've been working from home these past two weeks and I'm loving it. I like being able to go downstairs and grab a cup of tea, using the stove to boil the water rather than the microwave. I also learned that I like tea with water that was boiled on the stove rather than made hot in the microwave - I don't understand why there's a difference, but there is. I also like being able to take a break mid morning to make breakfast. It's been quite lovely.

I learned that I have the best friends. They listen to me when I just need to 'word vomit' all over them with problems or issues that are happening. I'm so grateful for MG and her ability to be a sounding board without judgement and then provide me with good advice. All of my friends have been so great these past few weeks listening and just being 'great friends' ... I hope I am the same for them.

I learned that I love being a parishioner at a parish. This is the most fantastic thing in the world - all of you fellow parishioners don't know how great you've got it! On May 3rd - my first Sunday at the parish after leaving (the previous weekend I had been away on retreat with the teens and then the entire week I was in Indiana) - I was having a doughnut with a friend and her family when someone came up to tell me how the urinal just wouldn't stop running and that there was an issue. I politely replied with "I don't work here anymore, I'm sorry but I cannot help you with that issue. The new office manager is actually over there, you can take the issue to him." SO freeing!!!

I also learned that not all parishes have automatic answering machines that go on in the evening! When I was in Indiana I wanted to go to daily Mass and one of the parishes didn't have their Mass times on their website so I just decided I would call. Surely they had them listed on their phone message. They might, but I don't know because when I called at 11:30pm Father Drew answered! I was so embarrassed. I had to make sure I went to the parish the next day for Mass and sure enough, he recognized me. This is quite the valuable lesson: for me - be aware before you call a church at 11pm at night; for the church - make sure you're websites are accurate!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

I'll be back soon ... have to catch up on my blog roll too ... have over 250 unread posts!

Friday, April 24, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... April 24th!

Well, I promised I'd share some photos from my trip to Texas, so here we go!

This is the view from my Aunt's porch. As soon as we got to the house on Tuesday, I had to sit outside and take in the view. I remember it being amazing, but it was even more incredible than I recalled! We spent a lot of time out here on the porch! 

The fire and the View!

One day we went into San Antonio to the Aquarium (not amazing), the oldest cathedral in Texas (beautiful), the riverwalk (lovely), and dinner at the Tower of Americas (delicious)!

cute little sea horsies
Just amazing - they have confession every day
all day long! How cool!
The view at dinner - from 63 stories up!
Celebrating my birthday with Aunt Char & Uncle Joe

Another day we took a drive to see the wildflowers. It was like they bloomed just for me! They said it's been a few years since they've been so beautiful - and this year did not disappoint. It was a day of incredible views!! Here's just a quick sampling of all of the amazing flower photos - I couldn't get enough!!

We also stopped at Enchanted Rock. We were going to hike, but the morning was rainy and then we didn't have enough time. It was so amazing though. How incredible that God put this granite rock in the middle of Texas and you can climb it! Also, only about 1% of the rock is even above the ground - the rest is hidden beneath the surface!

On Saturday two of my cousins came up to the house to visit and we sat on the porch after dinner with the sunset and a drink I've been waiting my entire life to try. I have this memory of my grandmother making pink squirrels when I was a kid, but I never got to try them. My cousin made them for me that evening as an after dinner dessert (and it is sweet) drink. Quite delicious and a great memory!

vanilla ice cream, creme de almond, creme de cocao

Before we left on Sunday I made everyone take a photo with me - just in case it's another 7 years before I'm able to come back!

Blake & Joey

Stephanie & Mark

Aunt Char, my godmother

Rubi & Greg

The porch from the other side as we said goodbye to this little piece of Heaven on Sunday before heading out to the airport.

I'm so glad I was able to take a vacation and visit family who I haven't seen in a while. A great way to celebrate the Octave of Easter!

Came back to two weeks left at my old job - and today's my final day. Staring the new one on Monday!! Here we go!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
Also - I really want to read that book Kelly's talking about today ... need to start!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NAS: Freebie :: All Groan Up

Topic for this week is whatever we want, so I thought I'd write a little bit about a book I'm on a launch team for :: All Groan Up.

I've been reading this guy's blog for a while now. It's full of funny, inspiring, and great content. I especially think about his explanation of OCD ... Obsessive Comparison Disorder. (not to diminish people with clinical OCD tendencies) I don't know about you, but I tend to look at someone else's life and compare and contrast to my own. However, I typically only see the ways that hers is better than mine, she has accomplished more of my goals than me, and is overall happier than I am. Objectively, I know this isn't true. The self we put on Facebook, Instagram, and even this little 'ole blog is our best self. I don't tend to write to you on the days when I'm practically having a nervous breakdown, crying my eyes out because I don't know what to do with my life, where I'm going, or if I'll ever not be single.

I have those days. We all do. However, it's how we come out of them, how we try to prevent them - that matters. Wondering how to cure OCD according to Paul? His three tricks are: Put on Blinders, Cut down on Facebook and TV, and Celebrate what you do. Celebrate the great things that are going on in your life, even if it's just that you remembered to take out the garbage before it got smelly - people that is an accomplishment sometimes! Typing of which, that should really go out this morning before I leave for work!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand ... when an opportunity came a few weeks ago to be on the launch team for his new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! I signed up. I thought it was a long shot - I'm not a writer, I have about fourteen readers (if you're even there today), and I really dislike twitter (because in this regard, I am an old person and don't understand how it actually works)! But he accepted me, added me to a Facebook group to get to know others on the launch team, and sent me a copy of the book to read ahead of time.

I was in Texas two weeks ago (speaking of which, I should share photos with you, the view from my aunt's house is amazing! - maybe Friday) and couldn't stop reading the book until I was finished! It was excellent. I found myself nodding along when he was talking about figuring out what he wanted to do, living with roommates, searching for a spouse, taking a leap at a new job, and so much more.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I loved it so much. He writes like it's a friend having coffee just chatting about what's happening. He writes to the scared 20-something who just wants to figure life out so they can become transform from thinking of themselves as a child to an adult. He writes honestly without sugar coating everything.

From the title, you might think that he was searching for a job (that actually made money) for a while - and you'd be right. He was - but in the midst of it, he found it - his 'signature sauce' - "your unique mix of ingredients that brings the world a flavor that no one else can."

We all have it, we all bring something to this world that no one else does. We just need to figure out what it is and bring it! Here's hoping that mine will help me succeed in my new job - which begins Monday!!!

Check out Morgan's for more 'freebie' posts from the ladies and as always thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting up this weekly time of amazingness!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NAS: Christian Friendship

What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do they differ? Is one better than the other?

Oh, Christian Friendship! How difficult to attain sometimes, but how necessary for life to go smoothly! In my opinion, anyway. I've been blessed to have many friends in my life, many fantastic friends in fact. I wouldn't have made it through High School with my faith intact without Stephanie, Erin, and Ashlei. We had an amazing opportunity to meet many friends from around the Diocese at a retreat called "TEC" - to encounter Christ and "JTE" Journey to Emmaus. I was blessed with some amazing experiences with these ladies and couldn't have made it without them. They were better than any other acquaintances I had during the same time in my life.

Moving on to college, I had friends who were just as great. My college roommate, Julie, was a blessing - we were placed together randomly and it was the best that could have happened to begin my freshman year out right. We met tons of other people, went to Europe and South America, and loved hanging out at Campus Ministry. These people helped to support me in my Catholic Theology degree and know that I wanted to work in the Church, or at least support the Church in my future career.

After school, life became a little more difficult to find friends. I spent 9 months living at home working at a jail and the Lord sent me Elisabeth. She was in town for just a little over a year - we ended up leaving about the same time - I went south and she went west. We are not great friends - picking up wherever we left off each time we talk and it's glorious.

When moving to Charlotte it took a little more time - well, I thought it did - but when I was celebrating my 30th birthday last month, I realized that some of my friends I've known since almost the day I moved here. Lisa (and her brood of kiddos - there were two and one in the oven when we met and now there are five) and I met at Bible Study at our parish one random morning - they had moved here just a month or two earlier. We became fast friends and good friends. She and her husband would bring their boys to Daily Mass so I got to see them a lot. Now all five little ones are so great to me whenever I come over to visit. Then in the Spring I met Devon (before she was engaged, before Shep - my godson - came along, and before the new little girl CEA was even thought of) and we also became fast friends. I was even the reader at her wedding.

I had great friends for a while - great married friends, and not only was I seeking good Catholic friends, but I was also looking for single friends. I love my married friends, and I love their kiddos. I never complain about being interrupted at their house when we're talking, stopping to read a book, waiting for dinner to begin to make their places child friendly. I love being able to text in the afternoon and say, "I need some baby time, can I come over after work?" But I needed a single girlfriend to help me keep my sanity. So after much time, the Lord sent me Mary Grace - we met within a few weeks of her moving here and became fast friends. I don't know what I would have done the last four and half years, three living situations, four jobs, and traveling to four continents. The Lord really knew what he was doing when he thought for us to be friends.

The last few years have been filled with great roommates (Meredith and Lisa), new parishioners at the parish who I made into friends (Erica and Kate), connections from Fr. W to encourage me to take a dating leap (Stephanie), nuns who are full of contagious joy (Sr. Gloria and Sr. Edeva), and many more I'm sure I'm forgetting to write - but who are amazing women of faith who support me.

Back to the prompt though - do I think that Christian friendships are important? YES! I think being a good Catholic in this world is hard enough, but without being able to have the Lord at the center of the conversation about what's going on, it's almost not worth having the conversation, in my opinion. My life tends to revolve around my faith - which I'm happy about - and without being able to speak about faith and prayer with others, I don't know what I'd do.

This does not preclude me from making friends with people who have different faiths. I don't screen people, if that's what you're thinking. I'm friends with my family and their significant others - none of who are strong Christians. I would say I have friends at work who aren't, but that's not really true right now since I'm working at a parish - most people who work for as little money as we do are there because of their faith, not because the work is great.

I've been very privileged my entire life to attend Catholic School and work in the Church. These are the places I've met my friends, the ones who have remained great friends all share a common faith, a common foundation. So I'm biased in saying that I think it's important. I'm not sure my entire life will continue in this fashion, but I do hope to always share my faith with my friends no matter the situation.

Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting and providing this amazing group of friends online. I'm so grateful for the entire community! The internet wouldn't be the same without y'all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Come As You Are" or "Come As He Desires"

I've been thinking about this topic for a while, knowing my own journey which I wrote about at length the past few months as well as where people are. While visiting with my family in Texas last week the subject came up again and I was silent because I'm not exactly sure how to articulate what I really think. I was saying how I prefer to attend Mass in the morning rather than Saturday evening vigil. There's nothing wrong with the Vigil, but for me, I like morning Mass - which is a new development in the last year - I used to sleep in and go at 5pm on Sunday evening. Don't get me wrong, I still love sleeping, but morning Mass is different than Sunday evening Mass. Anyway, someone said they prefer the Saturday vigil because it's more casual. They can come in their jeans, sneakers, t-shirts - no judgement if it's been a few weeks or months since they've been there. Overall more casual - and that frankly the Lord doesn't care what we where, just that we're there.

Now to some extent I agree. He tells us to "Come as we are." You don't have to be perfect to be part of the Church. If that were the case, then we would all do good to get out because no one fits the bill. We all make mistakes, do the wrong things - sometimes repeatedly, if we're being honest, most of the time repeatedly. I don't know about you, but my confession list is pretty similar each time I go - if something changes it's usually because I didn't know that was actually a sin the last time. Don't get me wrong, I'm striving, but I'm still a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness.

So He tells us to "come as we are" - come now, don't wait for this to happen or that to be perfect. Come today, come now. I don't think we are all at the same place in our faith and I'll admit I wore jeans and sweats to Mass for quite sometime in my teens and college years. Even when I was doing youth ministry. Always giving the excuse that I had to be ready to play after Mass so I should just come to Mass ready to play.

I think there's a slight danger in remaining in this way of thinking forever though. We should be challenged in our faith to grow, to go deeper. This involves changing ourselves to be like God, not changing our God to be like us. He was not created in our image. We were created in His.

Does this mean that if Jesus lived here he wouldn't wear jeans? Probably not - I mean, let's be real. However, when we go to Mass we are to bring him our best, our first fruits. I've been reading the Bible lately - a year long reading plan to go through the entire Scriptures. The last few days I was finishing up Exodus where the Lord is providing all of the rules outlining the sacrifice. I won't relate them all to you because they are many and varied. However, the main theme was "bring your first fruits" - bring from the top not the leftovers.

I think this is the same when we talk about dress for Mass. Yes, you can wear whatever you want - most parishes don't make their greeters enforce a dress code, that's absolutely true. And if you're running super late from somewhere else and you can either get to Mass on time in jeans/sweats/baseball clothes or change and not make it at all, I say get to Mass. Before that though, plan out your day to make Mass your first priority, wearing the best items in your closet for the Lord and then let the rest of the day fall into place.

I don't know if there will be a test when we get to Heaven that discusses our dress - jeans or skirts, shorts or pants, polo or suit, t-shirt or blouse, but I do know that when I'm dressed up for Mass, I'm more reverent at Mass. I'm more attentive to the differences that happen in the Church rather than outside the Church. I'm more grateful for the music that isn't my typical taste, but rather my Church taste. I don't sing along like I do when All About that Bass comes on the radio. I sing differently. I sing to the Lord, not to pass the time.

So "Come as you are" and Be "Come as He desires." Give the Lord your choicest first fruits rather than the leftovers you pulled together. He will reward you abundantly!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

NAS: Challenge Check-In

A couple weeks ago, we set to challenge ourselves! What did you decide on and what did you end up doing? Was this a fruitful experience for you? Why or why not?

A few weeks ago the NAS topic was Challenges - challenging ourselves to do more, something different, etc... I didn't write because I as I noted the week after St. Joseph had been kicking my butt with an answer to my novena intention. I'm sure you all know about the Pray More Novenas reminders (but if not - totally check them out - it's an excellent way to increase your novena devotions). I've been receiving the emails for a while now and love the monthly devotions and new saints, novenas, and opportunities every month.

In preparation for the Feast of St. Joseph (one stand up man), I began praying the St. Joseph Novena on March 10th with more than 70,000 of my closest novena loving friends. I have had a pretty strong devotion to St. Joseph for a while. In November of 2012 a very close friend was going through a pretty severe rough spot in her marriage. She and her husband didn't know if they were going to make it together, so we put St. Joseph on it. And not just a 9 day novena - we went big! I started praying the novena to St. Joseph every morning for an increase in faith for her husband, that he would want to remain married to her, and then added in later that he would be a good father. Their relationship is a testament to me about the power of St. Joseph.

Although the rough patch is over, there are always rocky moments in life and knowing the power of St. Joseph, I've since added more intentions to my daily prayer - for my future husband (who is seriously lost - or maybe I am, anyway), my godson, another friend's husband, and still another's current boyfriend.

So when last month's St. Joseph novena began, I added a second novena time in the evening and asked St. Joseph to help me discern my vocation and my avocation, placing all the pieces in place that needed to be in place. And boy did he move some seriously pieces in place.

I was seeking direction about whether I'm really supposed to get married or not because there are so many times when I think that dream will remain a dream forever and never be a reality. It was hard to turn 30 with no prospects and I needed some serious reassurance. However, that's not what I got, not what I got at all.

On Monday of the Novena someone at work told me about a job advertised in the paper for our Diocesan Newspaper. It's not something I ever thought I might do, nor does my degree in Catholic Theology provide me the background to do. But I could not get it out of my head. I went back and forth about whether I should apply, whether I was even interested in leaving my current position, and if I even wanted the job or to work for the Diocese. After a quick discernment period, I decided I should apply, give it a chance. Sending in my resume wasn't quitting my job, and just because I sent in my resume didn't mean I was going to be offered the job or that I would want it if it was offered to me.

So I began the process on the last challenge day of redoing my resume (haven't done one in quite a few years), gathering references, telling my pastor, etc...

On Wednesday, I called a friend at Our Sunday Visitor to ask her to be a reference for me with the job. She encouraged me to consider OSV if I was looking for employment. I told her, "no way I'm moving to small town Indiana." But there were some things she knew of coming down the pike that would allow me to live in Charlotte and work for OSV, she'd pass my name along if I was interested.

This is when St. Joseph's puzzle work began to shine. On his Feast, I told her to please pass my name along and we'll see what happens. By the end of the day I had a phone interview scheduled for Monday. After the interview on Monday, one was immediately scheduled for Tuesday. On Wednesday, I had a call from HR with an offer that needed to be accepted by Friday.

WHAT? How crazy is that?

Talk about pieces being put in place, all of the doors were thrown wide open, not just cracked windows. So my challenge was to discern whether I was in the right place or not for my job. After much consideration, a few tears, and some trepidation I wrote my letter of resignation and passed it to my pastor. We told the staff, and now I am just three weeks from starting my new job with Our Sunday Visitor!!

I'll be helping parishes in my territory (the south) set up new websites, start on-line giving, and some more new things OSV has coming out later this year. I'm excited about the change. I'm nervous about failing. I'm eager for the challenge.

This is going to be something completely different from what I do now - although we are OSV customers, and my work with our parish website is what got me in the door for this job to begin with.

So a huge thanks to St. Joseph for helping me discern the change, placing the pieces right in place, and being a rock of support as I take this crazy journey! I'm excited to meet tons of new people, encounter hundreds of new parishes, and be stretched in my abilities! I'm sure more stories will come from my time on the road - working in the parish is a crazy, amazing, unbelievably funny job!

Alright, talk to you all later! On a plane, headed to Texas for a visit with my godmother!

Check out Jen and Morgan for more ladies at the challenge check-in!!! Not sure who's hosting the link-up, but one of these amazing girls is!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NAS: Expectations vs. Reality

Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever have expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

Boy I have a LOT of thoughts on this ... hopefully they will be written coherently and not all over the place!

There are two questions here: Do I have expectations of what the single life is? AND Do others place expectations on me because I'm single? Although I think the prompt is really getting at the latter, the former is more of a big deal for me right now and has been on the last fifteen years of my life.

So I will get the easy one out of the way and then deal with the more difficult. Do other people have expectations of me? Yes, of course - I have them of others. Do they interfere with the relationships we have? No, not really. The one exception might be my family. My sister is always telling me to get on and then all will be better - I'll magically meet a man, get married, have lots of kids, and be happy. Now she's not saying the specifically, but it's what I'm inferring when she tells me "this will be the year I buy you a subscription for Christmas." Now I'm here to say that although online dating can be successful for some it's only an avenue that God uses, not the avenue that God uses. I have a CatholicMatch subscription and it's not all that and a bag of chips if I'm being honest.

I think my mom also has an expectation of what my life is like - but more in that I'm dating all of these guys and am in long relationships that I'm not telling her about and that's completely wrong. Again, I just might be inferring her thoughts, but it's what I hear.

My friends are super supportive. Married friends with and without kids never take advantage of me for baby-sitting (I mean I watch their kids, but it's not too much - and honestly, I could stand to do it a little more). They are always great about having me over to hang out with them and their little ones. I love all of the super cute stories, drawings, and book readings that get to happen during those visits. Sometimes it's them who wants an afternoon, an hour away to just be with a friend. I don't mind being interrupted by little ones, but it's probably because I never am and only want that for the future.

So the harder question - what are my expectations for myself? Well, I read this book (well, part of a book) about twenty-somethings (which I'm not even one anymore!) and she said we need to prevent "Expectation Hangovers." I had to read the chapter about this to get a firmer grasp on it, but the gist is that we are disappointed more when we don't get what we thought we were going to get than if we just had realistic expectations and the experience was what we expected.

Make sense?

Example - when I turned 25 I had this quarter life crisis of sorts - I was so upset that my life wasn't what it I expected it to be. I thought I would be married, at least dating someone, have kids, love my job, have a stable living situation (ie: not seeking out roommates over and over again). I didn't have any of those things - no husband, no boyfriend, no kids, okay job, roommate after roommate (all terrible) and I had a super hard time turning 25. So I decided to change a few things - first being my expectations. So what did I do? Well, I set some other expectations - I couldn't control not expecting things, but I could change what I wanted to do. So I made a 25 things in the next 25 years list. I figured these were things I could accomplish before I turned 50. Most of them were things to do rather than things to be - although married with kids is on that list.

There are some other great things I've already done like: Be a High School Youth Minister, Run 1 mile, Attend Fr. Michael's Ordination, Go to Italy, Buy a Big Bed (ie: queen), Start a Blog...

I've done these - and about one per year since I wrote the list. I didn't set out to accomplish them, more like I did the thing and then months later I looked at the list and happily realized I did something and crossed it off!

This changing my expectations habit has helped in areas of work, personal relationships, and life in general. Not that they are low, but that they are realistic. Why set yourself up for failure when you know you'll just be disappointed? (I also do this with friends - you know, the ones who are late, a LOT - you know who you are!)

It's not settling, it's about being realistic. Realizing that my job is not my purpose in life. Marriage is not the goal of my existence. My purpose in life is to be a Saint and my goal is Heaven. When I have those two things set then I'm ready to take on the hundred other tasks that clutter my day!

Thanks to Jen for Hosting and Morgan for always being there! Next week the answer to the challenge (which I didn't write about, but have a super big announcement to share with y'all)!

Happy Holy Week! Happy Easter!