Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is Liturgy For?

Tonight my husband and I went to the first talk of four on the Liturgy. Through these four talks we’ll get a good history of the Liturgy in Christian worship that will lead up to a discussion on why the texts will be changing starting in Advent 2011. Next week the speaker will be discussing the changes that took place with the Council of Trent in the 16th century followed by a discussion the following week on Vatican II, and ending the final week with a discussion on some of the upcoming changes.

But to start things off, the Bishop gave an overview tonight of Liturgy from Judaic times to today. As always, he gave a great talk with a ton of information!! His vast knowledge is always so evident on any given topic. I always learn something.

He broke the talk down into seven parts, but I won’t reiterate all of those here. There were plenty of interesting points I could share (aren’t you glad I wasn’t taking notes!), but one really struck me. It had to do with why we participate in Liturgy and who the Liturgy is for. Are we there to “get something out of it?” Are we there to just rejoice and give praise? Or is there more to it?

So often when you talk to someone who is unhappy with the Catholic Church, one of the familiar lines you get is that they don’t feel they “get anything” out of Mass. But that’s totally missing the point.

In Exodus chapter 32 the Hebrew people are worshipping the golden calf while dancing and feasting and being merry. This section is often used to teach against idolatry. However, the Bishop pointed out tonight that it is much more than that. The Hebrew people had forgotten what God had asked of them and were trying to create a more tangible god, something visible and concrete. But they were only thinking of themselves and what they needed, or actually, wanted, out of that relationship with God.

They had also forgotten that what God asks of His people is non-negotiable. Go back to where Moses is asking Pharaoh to let God’s people go out of the land to worship Him. Pharaoh tries to negotiate, but Moses won’t. God gave specific instructions and it wasn’t up to Moses to negotiate, those instructions had to be followed.

The passage about the golden calf is a good example of what happens when we forget that God wants to be worshipped in a certain way. When we start making it about how we feel and try to turn Sunday worship services into entertainment, we forget what God has asked of us.

So what has he asked of us? He wants us to come together as community to worship Him in how He has instructed us. And those instructions aren’t up for debate. It is why the Catholic Church has celebrated the Mass in basically the same way for almost 2000 years. The Holy Spirit led the Apostles in the right form of worship and we continue that tradition today. Even with the changes that have occurred over the centuries, the basics of the mass have always been the same. (Check out St. Justin Martyr's description of how the Christian people worshipped: it’s the Mass!! And he wrote that in ca. 155 A.D.!)

Are we at Mass to “get something” out of it? Well, hopefully, yes. But ultimately it’s not about us. It’s about God and God alone.

Another quick point: the Bishop also talked about how our earthly liturgy may be imperfect, but it is a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy which we hope to participate in one day. He said that we are rehearsing here for what awaits us there. As a musician, that makes perfect sense! You can’t go to the performance without first doing the rehearsal!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Question for Blogger users

If you follow my blog regularly you may have ntoiced that things keep changing everytime you visit. I'm experimenting with some changes, obviously. But I've run into an issue that I can't figure out. Can someone give me advise?

Just under my header you'll see a the word "Home" on the left. This is there because I added the "Pages" gadget in the hope that I could add a couple tabs up there to make it easy to find particular posts or whatever I decide to put there.

However, now that it is there, I can't seem to add anything else besides the "Home" tab. Which isn't particularly useful all by itself.

Anyone know how to add other items up there. I've tried dragging other gadgets over it when I'm in the design page, but it doesn't do anything. What simple thing am I missing?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is Stewardship?

Apparently this is what I will be learning about for the next ... um, well I'm not really sure exactly. Few weeks? Months? I still have a lot of unanswered questions.

So let me back up a bit. For some time now I have been feeling a desire for a spiritual director. I need some direction in my prayer life and just some overall help in staying focused on what's important. I've gone back and forth about it for a long time and one of the problems is that I have been told that there is a lack of spiritual directors in my diocese. It probably doesn't help that, of course, all the priests and seminarians have to have spiritual directors and we have had pretty large deacon classes the last few years and they all need spiritual directors as well. So what spiritual directors we do have are already extremely busy. So it makes it hard to ask someone because I would feel guilty if they say yes when really they already have more than enough on their plates.

So finally one weekend I decided to email my parish priest and ask him if he knew someone I could ask. I figured that was a good way to go. After mass that Sunday, before I had a chance to say anything to him, I read his column in the bulletin and in it he mentioned having just gone to a conference and how inspired he was there and how he wanted to know if others were interested in coming together to continue building on that enthusiasm by journeying together in our faith lives. His words were much better than mine and for me they sounded like something that might fill that need I had for a spiritual director.

So I sent him an email to ask what exactly this "journey" was he was referring to. He responded just by asking if I was curious enough to come find out. So I took a chance and said yes. That was at least a month ago if not two. Tonight the group finally got together.

The topic was about stewardship. We started with prayer, then introductions, watched a video and filled out a worksheet as we watched, and then had two activities, one we did in the groups at our tables and the second was an individual activity. Then we ended in prayer.

The one thing that I took away from tonight, the thing I heard that has stuck with me was this: the Textbook of Stewardship is the Word of God.

Well!! I was convicted!

I've known for a long time now that I need to read more scripture. Yes, I hear lots of scripture at every Mass I attend, but I don't spend nearly as much personal time with God's Word as I should. That's what I learned tonight.

I have no idea how long this program is. I only know when the next meeting is and that's it. But it's all part of the journey, I'm sure. Wonder what will convict me the next time!

In the meantime, I think I need to start praying with the scriptures more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The One Lovely Blog Award

A couple of weeks ago I was tagged by Nanette at The Crooked Halo with the "One Lovely Blog" award (pictured above). I posted the award on my blog (scroll down to see it on the right sidebar) and now I am passing it on to 15 other blogs. The rules for passing it on are simple:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

One of the neat things about this is that you should try and pass it on to 15 blogs that are new to you. So it provided me with the chance to check out some new blogs. I'll shortly be contacting the bloggers I'm tagging to let them know.

If I've tagged you, I hope you'll pass it on to some other blogs as well. However, everyone is busy, has full schedules, and lots of commitments already. This should be fun. If you only pass it on to a couple people, that's fine. If you would rather wait and do this at some other time, that's fine as well (there's no timeline). And if you just absolutely can't find the time to do this, that's okay too! Have fun with it if you can.

With that being said, here are the new blogs I've discovered that I am passing the "One Lovely Blog" Award on to (in no particular order).

Kathy at Faith on the High Wire

Beth at The Confused Homemaker

Angie at Many Little Blessings

Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda

Jen at Wildflowers & Marbles

Karen at Karen’s Catholic Journal

Nicole at My Endometriosis Story

Sarah at Fumbling Toward Grace

Elizabeth at That Married Couple

Sherry at Chocolate for your Brain

Charlotte at Cheeky Pink Girl

Abigail at Abigail’s Alcove

Secret Vatican Spy

Mary Ann at Les Femmes - The Truth

Nicole at Mothering with Mary

I'm looking forward to following these blogs. Check them out yourself!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 Surprising Things about Me

I got tagged to participate in the "10 Surprising Things about Me" by my friend at Percolating Petals. So during some downtime on my vacation I came up with this list. Hope you enjoy!

1. I am a night owl, but I am not able to keep a schedule that fits with my natural inclination. So I end up staying up later than I should, but then 6am comes (or 4:30 on some days) and I still get up. I think some of my insomnia issues may also come from going to bed (at a normal time, of course) before my body really feels ready. Naturally, I just tend to stay up late.

2. Growing up I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote short stories and even won some school-wide and county awards in elementary and middle school. I loved to read and make up my own stories. I kind of got away from it in high school but the dream is still there. Not sure if I'll ever write fiction as I had envisioned, but I do feel that I have something to share and I'm hoping I will one day.

3. Speaking of writing, I actually survived grad school and writing my master's thesis without coffee. I've actually never drank coffee in my life. I remember people telling me that I would once I hit those late-night thesis writing sessions with deadlines looming. Nope, not me! Instead I always kept a pound bag of M&Ms in the desk drawer in the grad student office and always brought some soda with me. So yeah, I had caffeine, just not coffee.

4. Okay, this one may surprise a lot of people: I was a cheerleader once upon a time. I was on a squad in elementary school. Cheerleading was definitely not my thing, but I did stick with it for two years.

5. And while we're on the topic of childhood activities, I also swam competitively for a few years. It was just on our neighborhood swim team, but it was a really good experience. I was certainly not a top competitor, but I enjoyed it and did well.

6. So swimming, I do like to swim, though I haven't done laps in years and years. I prefer pool swimming to ocean/lake swimming. So, I'm not really much of a beach person. I like the relaxing aspect of being at the beach, but really when it comes to swimming, I'd rather be in a pool.

7. Here's an odd one for you: I don't care for 3D movies. It's bothersome to me to have those silly glasses and I really don't care to be watching movies with things leaping out at me. Plus, movies are already expensive to go see, why should I pay an extra $5-$10 just to watch it in 3D? So whenever we want to watch a movie that is out in 3D, we usually choose the 2D option.

8. I want to learn how to knit! I've tried teaching myself a few times but still haven't learned a few essential tasks, like casting-off, kind of important. I had an opportunity to learn recently, but it was while I was going to be out of town. Hopefully I will have an opportunity again soon.

9. Sometimes I wish I had played the cello instead of the clarinet. I wouldn't trade any of my band experiences for anything. But I love the sound of the cello and have always thought it would be an awesome instrument to take up.

10. Although many people who know me now would disagree, if you've known me since I was a kid this is probably not a surprise. I am naturally a shy person, very shy. I've worked hard to appear more outgoing than I really am, though I still have some difficulties when around people that I don't know well. So yes, I am a shy person.

Time for me to also tag some others. So I will tag anyone who also wants to do this as well as the following bloggers I know:
Benotafraid at Analysis
Lynn B. at Feeding Souls
Nanette at The Crooked Halo
Let me know in the comments if you participated and leave a link to share.

Friday, September 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes, vol. 4


Last Saturday I went to a baby shower! I haven't been to one in 4 years, mostly because many of my friends who have been having babies were already on their 2nd or 3rd babies. There was another one I could have gone to a little over a year ago, but it was shortly after my son died and only a month before what would have been his due date. Definitely not a good time for me to be celebrating someone else's good news. But this one was different!! This baby shower was for a friend who had thought she'd never get pregnant and had started the adoption process. She hadn't gotten far in the process when they discovered they were expecting. I know how hard this wait has been for her and I was delighted to be able to celebrate this time with her. Her and I took a picture together at the shower that I had hoped to post, but she hasn't sent it to me yet. ::smile::


Oh my goodness, what a rough week I have had. I could probably go on and on about this week, but it would just be too much of a downer. I had moments when I thought I was going to pull my hair out and other times when I just wanted to cry. I can't believe that having my email hacked on Monday was actually not the worst part of the week. But we have great IT people at work and I was pleasantly surprised when on Thursday they could pull a backup from Tuesday and recover some of the data I had lost through no fault of my own. In the end things worked out (and I was able to take today off!!). Glad this week is over though!


Speaking of computer issues, I also learned last week that the website I currently use to read all my RSS feeds is shutting down as of October 1. I had been debating on switching to Google Reader anyway, but wasn't expecting to be forced into the move so soon. Oh well, I still have my Bloglines account active, but I have pretty much switched to Google Reader now. Still trying to figure it out (for example, how many times do I need to unsubscribe/delete a feed before it actually deletes it?? Three times? Four??). Google Reader is a little more cluttered, I miss the clean look of Bloglines, but I think I'm starting to get into the right mindset for Google Reader.


Going on vacation? We are. What must be done before leaving? Using up all the leftovers! Hubby sometimes gets creative and he did this week. Early in the week he made apple turnovers, but couldn't get all the apple filling in them. So we had a little bit leftover. To use it up he baked up a couple of tortillas, essentially making cinnamon chips, topped them with the apple filling, added some vanilla ice cream in the center (had that sitting in the freezer too that needed to be eaten), and then he made a caramel sauce and drizzled it over all of it. It was yummy!! And now we have leftover caramel sauce. But we're working on eating that up too!


I think I'm becoming an insomniac again. ::sigh:: I don't nap during the day, never have, I'm exhausted when I go to bed, and yet I still lay awake for a couple hours (or more). I'm still getting up early, regardless of how tired I am. Oh, I hate this. One solution, I've been slacking on any sort of exercise for several weeks now. Maybe adding that back into my routine will help.


Some good news!! My promotion file is complete!! It better be, because today is the deadline and I'm not at work today, which is really another bit of good news! This is for my promotion to Librarian I (which is equivalent to full professor on the teaching faculty side). Now the wait begins. I should know the library faculty's decision by January (I think) and then the final decision is sent to the Provost's office. Sometime next spring I'll get the final decision. Yep, it's a long wait.


My second "job" is picking up. Actually it's my volunteer job with the Cursillo movement in my diocese. I'm the Pre-Cursillo chair and we have a retreat weekend approaching in a little over a month. All applications and deposits come to me, I keep in contact with all our sponsors and candidates as they all prepare for the weekend, answer questions, and arrange for transportation for everyone. With just over a month left, things are definitely picking up. Please help us by praying for all those who are making the weekend, for the Team members who are working hard on putting together their talks for the Weekend, and that the men who need to be at this retreat will listen to God's call and allow themselves to be led to this wonderful weekend. St. Paul, our patron saint, please pray for these men attending and working on this Men's Weekend.

To enjoy more Quick Takes, check out the list of blogs participating in 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary. Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Suffering and Motherhood

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, a feast day I never really paid much attention to in the past. It was brought to my attention about a month ago and I've had it in my head ever since. A fellow blogger recommended doing a novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. I was completely taken with that novena. It helped me focus my prayer life in a way I didn't think I would be able to again. Since doing that novena I have also felt a deeper connection to Mary.

So today. I wish I could say that I spent some time today reflecting on the sorrows of Mary. Or that I even went to Mass. Even a little bit of quiet prayer time? No, it didn't happen. Too much going on at work today, sad to say.

But that's why I'm writing this. I figured a post in her honor was needed. So here we are.

I love this picture I found! Notice there are seven arrows piercing her. You can't help but think of Luke 2:35. And of course the seven arrows represent the seven sorrows: the prophesy of Simeon; flight into Egypt; loss of Jesus in the Temple; meeting Jesus carrying the Cross; the Crucifixion; receiving the body of Jesus (the Pieta); and Jesus' burial and closing of the tomb.

It's often easy to forget about the suffering Mary as we read about the life and passion of her Son, Jesus Christ. Today is a day to think about her, to realize that her sufferings are also our sufferings. She was a mother who suffered greatly along with her divine Son. If anyone can understand the sufferings mothers go through it is Mary, our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows.

On my way home from work today, a show on my local Catholic radio station was talking about suffering and motherhood. Specifically, what is the greatest challenge of motherhood? I was tempted to email in, but opted not to. I wasn't sure I could say something succinctly enough, or coherently enough. Really my comments would not have been regarding the challenges of motherhood so much as the suffering of motherhood.

I'm sure there are others out there who can list the many, many sufferings mothers go through each day. I'm not one of them. My sufferings are very different, but they are still the sufferings of a mother. And Mary understands. There is comfort in that.

Today is a day to recall the cross and then to look to Mary and see her standing by the cross. Did you notice that yesterday's feast was the Exaltation of the Cross? Interesting that these two feast days are right next to each other. We all have crosses in our life, mine is pregnancy loss. We carry those crosses to follow Christ, we unit our sufferings with the crucified Christ, and then we look at Mary. Standing at the foot of the cross, not cowering.

Losing a child is not easy. I have wanted to cower away in the corner, to cry until there are no tears left, to isolate myself away from the world because of my sorrow and suffering. But then I look to Mary and I see her suffering, her sorrow, and, of course, her strength.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seeking Answers

In the midst of dealing with three pregnancy losses over the last few years I have also been struggling to understand why it sometimes seems to be difficult to get pregnant in the first place. I've always known that I had irregular cycles, but it wasn't until I started taking NFP classes that I realized just how weird they are. And then there is the frustration with doctors who do not understand NFP and barely glance at your charts when you bring them in. Just adds to the frustration.

In my area there are no NFP-only doctors. There is one about an hour or so north of us, but because I work for a university with its own health plan and its own Medical School and Medical staff, I am limited to using only the doctors in the University HMO plan. So if I want to see the NFP-only, NaPro trained doctor an hour north in Cincinnati, I would have to pay for the visit myself. I haven't gotten that desperate ... yet.

One of my frustrations is when we talk about using clomid so that I will ovulate and hopefully get pregnant. While this sounds nice (and the Church has nothing against it) I feel like we'd just be doing something to get a result I want and not really trying to fix the problem. If we can fix the problem, shouldn't I then be able to get pregnant without the help of drugs? Maybe, maybe not. But it's worth a try. My next appointment is in October. I've been referring to it as my "Clomid appointment" unless something happens naturally between now and then.

In the meantime, I've lost about 15 pounds and am now back to my weight when we got married. I still want to lose a minimum of 5 more (ideally 10). Weight issues I know can be part of the problem with irregular cycles (in some women, obviously not all). I have a history of very long cycles with occurrences of breakthrough bleeding, which just makes the cycles even longer. Once I finally do ovulate I have a luteal phase that is a very good length (13-15 days) and my temps stay up (both a good sign that my progesterone is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

If it wasn't for learning NFP and charting my cycles I wouldn't know any of this. I'd still be under the delusion that I sometimes have really long cycles and sometimes have really short cycles, not realizing that what I sometimes thought of as a period was actually breakthrough bleeding.

So, yes, the weight loss has been good. After this third loss I actually ovulated again only a two months later. A big improvement over the last two times. And so far in my current cycle, no breakthrough bleeding. But my question is, why am I not ovulating this time?

To answer that question I went back to earlier this year (before my last pregnancy) when I met with the priest who is the chaplain for the infertility group. He is also a former OB/GYN. He looked over my charts and mentioned the possibility that I could be estrogen dominant. That would explain the very long period of time between one period and the next ovulation. In a typical cycle the estrogen is dominant at the beginning, half way through it falls off and the progesterone takes over. This is when you ovulate. If no egg is fertilized and implanted, then the progesterone will fall off after 12-17 days (your luteal phase) and you'll get your period. Estrogen is back in the picture.

I didn't look into that possibility at all because I got pregnant again shortly after that meeting. But the other day I remembered that conversation and decided to do a bit of investigating. What I found was interesting. First Estrogen Dominance is most commonly thought of as an issue for women in menopause. But it's also becoming a bigger and bigger issue for all women. Mostly because of the chemicals that are all around us in our industrialized society.

Googling "estrogen dominance" brings up a lot of information, a little too much. Adding pregnancy as a search term and then doing the search again using infertility brought up some more relevant information.

An article that talked about an assortment of female problems linked to Estrogen Dominance was: Estrogen Dominance & Female Problems found on Nutrition Research Center.

A second article that I found useful was: Infertility: Estrogen Dominance on Shared Journey: Your path to Fertility.

There were plenty of other web pages out there, some with much more medical information on them. But those were also much longer. Eventually, I will go find those and read more, but these first two were a good start.

From reading these I learned a few things. Now, I'm a cautious person and I don't like to do anything without checking with my doctor first. So although supplements may be a good thing, I want to make sure that that I'm not taking too much of anything. I already take a multivitamin. So at this point, I'd like to see what other things I can do to that may make a difference until I can talk to my doctor.

First the weight loss is a help. Both articles mention that. So I'm still working on losing more. Second, there are environmental problems. There are estrogens or xenoestrogens all around is. Plastics are big culprits. As are estrogens in our water supply and just all around us, thanks in part to the *cough* wonderful *cough* Pill.

I started looking around me and realized that I eat fairly healthy, I drink mostly water so caffeine is not an issue (and I don't think I eat enough chocolate for that to be a consideration), and I do get some exercise. The only other thing is plastic. Ever thought about just how much plastic there is around you?

So I replaced the plastic cup I keep at work with a ceramic mug. I am going to get rid of the plastic-ware at my office and buy a set of real silverware to keep there. We are also going to get rid of all (or at least most) of our plastic containers and replace them with glass. We also won't microwave plastic anymore. This is probably all we can do at this point. I don't think it's possible to totally eliminate plastics from our lives.

I saw this article called "Is That Plastic Container Safe?" posted on Facebook today and it has a lot of good info on plastics. One of the most interesting was an explanation of the recycling numbers that are found on plastics. Definitely something to read and check out against the plastics in your life.

That's the current story on what I can do easily and naturally for now until I can get some advise on supplements to assist my cycles even more. But, this is also good information for all women to know about. I urge you to read the links I provided, especially if you notice any health issues in your own life.

As for plastic, any further suggestions on how we can use less plastics?

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes: vol. 3


I recently had the opportunity to give a witness talk at a Cursillo meeting. I shared a little bit about the experience of giving that talk in my post Sharing my Story. I've recently decided that I should also share that story here on my blog. It needs some editing and I want to also make some of the images available that I used. It may take me a couple weeks, but I hope to share here soon.


I've been praying a Novena to St. Gianna with a whole bunch of people. We have a prayer and a long list of special intentions, mostly about pregnancy, conception, infertility, and other health concerns. Yesterday was the last day of the Novena to ask for St. Gianna's intercession. Today the group starts a novena of thanksgiving. This has been a great experience! And it's so powerful knowing that so many people are joining with us in these two novenas for all our intentions.


I posted yesterday about my experience getting to see and pray before the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It was such an amazing experience I had to mention it again. Check out my post from yesterday to get the full story.


I mentioned Cursillo in #1. I made my weekend in 2009 and would really like my husband to also make a weekend. He's been reluctant. Of course, I don't want to "make" him do it, he has to want to, but I can't help but mention it whenever I get a chance. We have a Men's weekend coming up in October, the same weekend that I have a conference to attend out of town. So here's our conversation from last night:

Me: "What are you going to do the weekend I'm out of town?"
Him: "I don't know."
Me: "I have something you can do."
Him: "What?" (said with a big sigh, we currently have a long list of home improvement projects)
Me: "It doesn't involve any work!"
Him (much more interested): "Oh, well that sounds good. What?"
Me: "You can attend the Cursillo weekend!"

Haha! He just rolled his eyes at me. What can I say.


I've recently been reading about a particular medical issue that I discussed once with a former Ob/Gyn who is now a priest in our diocese. It helps to know him and be able to ask him questions since I do not have an NFP-only doctor nor is there one available to me through my insurance plan. I got pregnant shortly after he and I had talked about this so I never explored his suggestion. Since the miscarriage and then the weight loss I've managed to do and now watching how my cycles are starting to function again, I've started thinking more about his guess as to what one of my issues may be. This is a long way of saying that I did some reading this week and now I'm contemplating how to eliminate plastic from me life (probably not entirely, but as much as possible). Any suggestions? (And I have a feeling this topic will require fuller treatment in it's own post in the near future).


The weather is getting cooler!! I probably could have worn a light jacket to work today. Absolutely amazing!! I love the cooler temps, the feel of fall in the air. It's just magical. Football has begun and the days are slowing starting to get shorter. It just feels good! I love it.


Despite the wonderful cooler temps, I'm very much looking forward to our upcoming vacation! We'll be heading south to the shoe shaped island off the South Carolina coast to spend a week in a condo on the beach with part of my family. It'll be so nice to have a week with nothing to do but relax and enjoy spending time with people I love. We'll also be stopping along the way (it's a long drive for us) and spending the night with some great friends and I'll get to see my Godson! One more week!!!

For more Quick Takes head over to Conversion Diary where this series is hosted weekly. Many, many more blogs are waiting there for you to check out!!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Veneration of the Virgin

I had what I believe is a once in a lifetime opportunity this week. The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima visited my diocese. Up until I heard a discussion of it on the local Catholic radio (last week?), I had never heard of this.

Oh yes, I've heard of Fatima! But I hadn't heard of this statue. And the more I heard about it the more I wanted to get a chance to see it, pray before it, and offer my prayer petitions to Our Lady. And of course, the Cathedral, my parish, would have the statue visiting on part of her trip throughout the diocese.

The statue was going to be at my parish on Wednesday, which also happened to be the Nativity of the Blessed Mother. How perfect! Only, our bulletin was a bit misleading. Hubby and I planned on attending the 5:30pm Mass, I was going to get there early in order to have some quiet prayer time. That afternoon I decided to look up the website for the Pilgrim Virgin Statue and discovered on their calendar that the statue left the Cathedral at 10am!!

But I looked over the schedule and called hubby and we changed our plans slightly. Actually, I changed mine, his didn't really change much at all. Turns out the next stop was at the campus Newman Center, across the street from my office, and I had 30 minutes. So I went over there and got to at least see the statue, pick up a little booklet about Fatima and the statue, write out and put my petition in the box that accompanies the statue, and listen to a brief talk from the custodians of the Virgin statue. it was all very interesting! And then they started preparing for Mass and I left.

I was disappointed that I didn't really get a chance to see her up close and spend some time in prayer. But I still had to meet hubby at the Cathedral for the evening Mass. That meant walking clear across campus to my car and then back-tracking past the Newman Center and then over to the Cathedral. It's not really that far, but it takes forever at that time of day given our larger enrollment on campus this year (more students=more cars), not to mention that those roads are always busy anyway.

Then a friend told me that the statue would be at her church the entire next day. Thursday morning she emailed me the full schedule. I love having friends in all our the various parishes around me! I always know what's going on!! So after looking over the schedule I decided that a long lunch break was in order and I would head over there for the noon Angelus and the quiet prayer time that would follow.

It was perfect! Exactly what I had been hoping for. I was there for the communal prayers, then said a rosary. Just before I left, I moved up to the front row, right near the statue. I wanted a better look at her face. It was so peaceful looking and yet there was also a sadness in it. And beautiful! She was stunning.

Visit the website, read about Fatima, read about the statue. This statue has been touring the world since 1947. It was blessed by Pope Pius XII, it has actually shed real human tears on multiple occasions, and various cures and miracles have occurred in its wake.

It was such a blessing to be able to spend some time with it; to be there in front of this image of Mary and to ask for Mary's intercession for the intentions I carry in my heart. I pray only that she hears my pleas and brings those prayers to her Son.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Funny Fan Fight

Sometimes a couple's disagreement can be down right funny. Even to the couple!! Last night we climbed into bed, said our novena together, and then settled in. Hubby took off his glasses and put them over on his nightstand. Turns back to face me and then turns back toward the nightstand for a second and then back around.

That's when I noticed the speed of the fan seemed slower. The remote to the fan is on hubby's nightstand. "Did you turn the fan down?" I asked him.

"Yes, but it was set too high anyway."

"So this is medium," I asked skeptically, it didn't seem like medium.


"Are you lying to me"


"So it's at Medium?"

"Yes, it's a notch above off."

"That's low, not medium. You did lie!" (Of course, I'm laughing as I say this to him)

He's smiling now too, knowing that I like the fan on no matter how cool the room already is. (He was probably rolling his eyes at me too.) "No, low is off, medium is one high than low."

I laughed at this!! "There are three speeds and off isn't one of them. Off is off, then there is low, medium, and high."

He laughed at me and told me not to worry about it as I pulled the comforter off of us and threw it towards the end of the bed. "It doesn't need to be any higher, it's fine."

That's when he got up again to use the bathroom. And when I put things right! He didn't say anything else when he returned.

I'm glad we can disagree and laugh our way through the conversation! :)

Friday, September 03, 2010

7 Quick Takes: vol. 2

My week seemed full of blessings and I thought I'd use this Quick Takes post to share those with you.

Family and friends who want to pray with and for me!!

I started a novena this week with about 15 or more other people. What a blessing it has been already. It is such a wonderful thing to pray for all these ladies and know they are also praying for me! Whether any of our prayers are answered or not doesn't even seem to matter to me at this point, I just love the idea that we are all doing it together. Something about community in prayer! Beautiful!!

More prayers!!

I gave a talk Thursday evening to my Cursillo community and I was so amazed at the palanca I received from so many prayerful people in that community. I received emails from many of them telling me about masses they were offering up for me, fasting they were doing, other sacrifices, extra prayers, and other ways of lifting me up while I was preparing for the talk. Prayer is truly powerful!

The Talk!

Technically we call it a witness. And, I wasn't prepared for the results of my witness. I've heard many of these myself, but this was the first time I have given one. Wow!!! Just ... wow! I know the point was to share some experience in my life of how God is working in it, but I was amazed at the comments during the echo. And then Father's summary following all the other comments was amazing as well. I could feel the Holy Spirit in the room last night! And I think I was blessed by all the comments from everyone more than they could ever know. Just can't put it into words really. Like I said ... wow!

My awesome husband!

He's just a blessing to know. 'Nough said, really. I love that he loves to cook and is so creative in the kitchen. I had bought some little Kroger Brownie Bites that I planned to take with me to the Cursillo gathering on Thursday evening. He decided to dress them up some. So he whipped up a cream cheese icing and topped each one with a little of it. So good!! And I'm not the only one who knows my husband likes to cook. I walked in with them and the first question I got was, "Did Chris make that?"

Weight Loss!

I'm just thankful it's still happening despite the fact that I have been slacking big time on the exercise. And I'm so close to what I weighed on my wedding day! So close!! One more pound and I'll be there. As of Monday I was 14 pounds lighter than I was in mid-June. Hoping that by this Monday I can say for sure that it is 15 pounds. I think it is now, but Monday is official. So I have to be good for a few more days still.

A good work week.

It's hard to think of work as a blessing; there are so many days that you wonder why you do what you do. Lately I've been trying to focus on the things I like about work and it has somehow made me more productive. This week seemed particularly overwhelming, but I managed to stay focused and get things done. It's still overwhelming, but I'm grateful I have a job, I like my job, I'm working in a field that I actually went to school and trained for, and I am good at my job. Now if I could just get that promotion file completed and out of my head. It is what it is, I have to learn to let go.

The long weekend!

As much as I want to stay positive at work, I'm also very grateful for the long weekend that has now started! I love having three days off! I always have tons of plans in my head thinking that all the things I never get done in a two day weekend will surely get done over three days! How could they not? Ha! Why do I always set myself up for disappointment? Sure, one of these days I will go back and actually tag all my old posts, but it's not going to happen in a day. Regardless, I'll still enjoy the three days off! Two days of peace and quiet and a third ... well, I'll focus on the peace and quiet for now. :-]

What are your blessings this week??

For more Quick Takes check out the 7 Quick Takes post at Conversion Diary where you can read the host's Quick Takes as well as those of many other wonderful bloggers. Happy reading!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sharing my Story

Tonight I gave the "witness" at a monthly meeting of my area Cursillo group. Cursillo is a lay movement within the Catholic Church. This monthly gathering is something we call Ultreya and it's a chance for the local Cursillo community to get together and share how our walk with Christ is going. In addition to small group sharing we hear a witness from one member. Tonight was my witness.

I spoke for about 20 minutes about my most recent struggles with pregnancy loss and how that has effected my faith journey. I was a bit nervous about sharing this story and how it would be received. My prayer for the past several weeks as I have prepared for this talk has been that God use me to say what He knows the people there needed to hear. I hope that's what happened.

As part of my talk I also shared some pictures and other momentos I have from each pregnancy. These included the certificate I got from the church in New York where I registered Casey's name in their "Book of Life;" the picture I have of Zachary from the day he was born; the certificate I received from the hospital that has Zachary's footprints on it; and two pictures I took of Brigit's box.

I was really amazed at the comments I received from everyone during the "echo" following my witness. It meant so much to me to hear those comments. It's also amazing how people can listen to your story and then tell you something about yourself that you never thought of before. There were many beautiful moments tonight.

I honestly think I probably got more out of this experience than those who I was speaking to. Between my time of reflection on my experiences, preparing the talk, praying about it, hearing the echo and Father's summary, I was truly blessed to be given this opportunity.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me as I was preparing for this. For your offerings of Masses and your times in the Adoration Chapel, for fasting and singing prayers, and so much more!! What an amazing community of people you all are!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lots of Prayers

I am always saying that I don't pray enough. I'm either too busy, or just not focused, or ... well, the list of excuses could go on. That's all it is though, excuses. I'm starting to move past the excuses and just do it. And I've had some friends, both old and new, helping me out.

It's so wonderful to get into a routine!! I need some sort of structure or I just wouldn't do it. And having a prayer partner helps as well!

So I've designated a spot for praying. It's now become my quiet spot for all sorts of things, but that's okay. In my living room is what I used to call my comfy chair. It was my "awesome deal" chair when I first bought it. Now it's my Prayer Chair. I've set up a TV tray next to it where my Bible sits, my Magnificat, and any other prayer book I happen to be using at the time. So nice to have this quiet spot!

So I've actually been praying more. And I've needed it!

First I got started with a novena, which I did with a new friend. She suggested the novena to do and it turned out to be a great one for me. We did the Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. This was a great way to start trying to make my prayer more routine! It not only included some beautiful prayers, but also some of Hail Marys, some scripture verses for each day, and a short reflection at the end of each day.

Second, I am giving a witness on Thursday evening for a Catholic group I am a part of. I only have around 15 minutes, so I had to really spend some time reflecting on what I wanted to say and boil it down to the most pertinent stuff. I started praying about it. The above novena helped too. I really wanted to give this talk over to God and let Him use me. I hope my words will be exactly what someone needs to hear.

Finally, I was approached to join in on another novena and today was the first day. We made a list of intentions and I think we have about fifteen or more people all participating in this novena together. It will be nice to see what graces come from it.

I think I like the idea of praying with novenas. It creates an expectation that I have something to do for a set period of time, and I don't want to miss a day of it. Before now, I've probably only done about 3 novenas in my life. So this is still kind of new, but I'm liking it so far!

What are your favorite prayers or types of prayers? Do you have a favorite novena you'd like to share?