Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cross I'm Not Carrying

Tonight I had to run to Harris Teeter for some snacks to serve my very good friend Father Emmanuel from the Congo and the family who's hosting him tomorrow evening when the come over. I've been in my PJs (ie: shorts & a t-shirt I typically wear only to bed) since I got home from the 5pm Mass. When I pulled into the parking lot I noticed Sister E's car there and texted to see if she too was at HT. She was and we got to see each other for the first time in what felt like months. It was so great to catch up.

Our really great conversation ended with me crying in the middle of the HT parking lot. Although it ended in tears, it was a really great conversation.

I've been having some trouble lately with the cross I've been given to carry. The single life with a deep desire to be married with children. It seems like everyone else has all of these things that I want. I see how I am incredibly blessed by God. I know this. He takes such good care of me. Like just the weekend when I had a water leak in my ceiling. Yes now we have the Great Leak of 2015 as a sequel to the Disgusting Leak of 2014 when the entire downstairs had to be redone. It was from some hoses on the washer that are soon going to be replaced with a brand new washer and dryer set someone is getting me for free from the factory. Taken care of! Completely!

When I was talking to Sister E she said something that I couldn't stop thinking about when I came home - and then I was watching Parenthood on Netflix (to which I am addicted - and I cry at almost every episode - so be warned if you're going to start - it gets emotional!). There's some pretty intense stuff that happens to these characters you've grown to love and feel like they are a part of your own family.

Sister E said from the outside no one would know you have this struggle - the single life struggle that leads to crying in the HT parking lot. And she's right. My friends know, they know because it's constant and they are always talking me down from it. They are probably exhausted doing that and really just want to slap me across the face so I'll finally get it - God had a bigger plan that He set in motion at the beginning of time - calm yourself! But anyway...

I have an amazing job. This new job I took is really a perfect fit for me. I love the work I'm doing. I'm good at it. I was Electronic Sales Specialist of the Month for June and am a serious contender for July as well. The first month was really just practice, getting to know the business and finding opportunities. Who knows if it will last, but it's really great right now.

I haven't had to worry about my financial situation for a long time. I am frugal, but I was able to buy a house - and decorate it how I wanted to (with a little help from my flood insurance money). I know how to do the things I want to do here, so I can DIY things.

My family is healthy and so am I. There are minor issues here and there, but we aren't battling cancer right now or being with someone through the last days of their life in hospice. I'm not struggle with infertility (well I wouldn't really know that for sure being a single gal - but I keep track of these sorts of things and there are no known issues). Even the minor health issue I struggle with (chronic and frequent sinus infections) is just that minor.

I'm always concerned about the cross I'm carrying. This crazy "I'm single and I don't want to be and what's wrong with me and why won't anyone love me and everyone else is finding someone to marry them" cross that I think is too heavy. I forget how heavy the crosses I"m not carrying are. Unemployment, Terminal Health Issues, a Job I really dislike, Infertility, Homelessness, Mental Illness, Addiction, Abuse.

I'm not great at this, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to focus on the lightness of my cross and work on my perspective. I can't really change what other people are experiencing, but I can recognize that my attitude could use an adjustment in relation to where I stand with the Lord. That is one thing I can control - and maybe the only thing I should make an effort to have complete control of on a regular basis.

p.s. I would be remiss if I didn't state how I've been away from here for a while - mostly new job stuff. But I need this outlet in order to less some stress of sometimes. Unless I just use the crying during every episode of Parenthood to take care of that! So I'll pop in from time to time to write for myself. If those posts also speak to you where you're at, I'd love for you to share with me so we can journey together. Until next time...

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!