Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Smiles, no. 13

The landscaping around Mary has completely changed
but I haven't had a chance to get a new picture yet.
Still, I love this statue!
I left my office on Friday just after lunch and as I walked to my car in the pouring rain, balancing the umbrella, a couple bags, and my water bottle, I looked over at the Mary statue in the side garden of the Newman Center and pondered what God wanted of me right now, at this time in my life. Did He want something from me? Or maybe He had a lesson for me I am supposed to be learning? What, I wondered, was I not seeing that God wanted me to see?

I know God is with me all the time. Intellectually, I know and understand this and completely, faithfully, accept it. I know His presence is in my life and in the people's lives all around me. But I often feel as if I miss seeing Him. 

These thoughts flitted in and out of my mind the rest of the day. How is God working in my life right now? I'm not sure I can answer that question. And the problem is that I have very little practice at answering that question.

For the first 26 years or more of my life I really didn't think about God's presence in it at all. I have always been a believer, I have never knowingly rejected Him, but He certainly took a backseat in my life for many years.

In hindsight I can see how God worked in my life and I've acknowledged that many times in various posts. But it is the present, the day-in and day-out of living and acknowledging God's work in my life as it is happening. I don't expect to recognize it all the time, but right now it is never. 

So here we are at the 13th installment of these "Saturday Smiles" posts and I am struggling. This will always be a struggle for me, I know. I'm okay with that. But I keep hoping I'll get just a teensy bit better. 

It's a work in progress. I'm a work in progress!

Nevertheless, despite these deep thoughts and my doubts of my own abilities, God has given me plenty to smile about: a wonderful family, family and friends that want to see us when we are passing through town, the ability to take a week off to visit family and take a vacation, wonderful friends in my life, and the ability to attend Mass in any city and have it be the same Mass as if we were at home.

Now you tell me: Do you recognize God's presence in your life? How did you this week? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, vol. 47


~1~

Just before leaving for our vacation I learned that I had won a book from a giveaway the amazing Sarah Reinhard had up on her blog. I was so excited because I never win anything! The book is The Universal Monk by John Michael Talbot and I'm looking forward to reading it. I even told Sarah that maybe I'd do a review here in this space. We shall see. 

~2~

On our vacation we had a little stowaway. His name is Flat Cat and he managed to get a couple pictures of himself:
Here he is on the beach.

And another on our balcony. Lovely view!

~3~

Flat Cat also met some nice opponents on his travels:
Flat Cat and a kind UT fan

Hanging out with Cocky

~4~

This has been the weirdest week. It has gone by fast while at the same time it felt like it was just creeping along. Getting back from vacation and going right to work first thing the next morning has been rough. We still haven't been food shopping and several bags are still sitting around in the foyer waiting to be put away. Usually nothing sits for more than a day or two. We're going on five days here. That's a lot for me!! So in that respect it's been a slow week as I try to plug along and make it to a day when I can get home stuff done. Yet at the same time I kept thinking it was a day later than it actually was. Wednesday felt like Thursday, Thursday felt like Friday. Maybe that was wishful thinking. So glad it is finally Friday now!

~5~

So someone **coughLynncough** asked me for video of the boys walking. Need proof?? LOL! No worries, I wanted to anyway so I could remember the cute balance-walking from this age. After several takes I finally got one that has both boys doing some walking. Sorry for the motion of the camera, I'm still new at videography.

video

~6~

So now that the boys are walking and both convertible car seats are in the car, I have no infant carrier any longer to carry one of them into daycare with. It's been interesting, to say the least. The stairs are the biggest challenge. Once I get them both out of the car I usually carry Ethan and hold Peter's hand so he can walk beside me. If I'm parked right near the door I'll let both of them walk to just inside. But once inside we have a flight of stairs. One morning this week I had Ethan in my arms and Peter walking beside me. He's pretty good at climbing the stairs on his hands and knees, so I was going to let him do that. But he was holding my hand and wouldn't let go. Next thing I know he's trying to step up the first stair!! Being that I only had one hand available and he seemed certain that if he could walk he could walk up stairs (!!), it took some effort to keep him upright. Next thing I know his little body is swinging around on one foot as a pivot point. It took all my strength to not drop Ethan and keep Peter balanced so he didn't fall. Not to mention trying to keep myself from laughing at the sight of Peter swinging around on one foot!

Finally, he managed to get both feet on the ground and I was able to get my hand loose from his grasp. I scooped him up by the waist and carried him the rest of the way up.

Lesson learned: Do not let little boy think he is suddenly capable of taking on stairs like a big person!

~7~

One last thing. I may have mentioned to a few people that I was going to be on the local Catholic radio station again today. The topic this time was going to be the USC vs. UK game which is Saturday. [Yes, it is a Catholic radio station.] But due to some unexpected circumstances there was a change in plans. So instead I'll be on next Friday. I'm sure we'll still discuss the game, but since it will be a past event at that point, I'm not sure if that is all we'll talk about or not. So stay tuned. I'll share more here if I get any further information between now and then. In the meantime: GO GAMECOCKS!!

For more 7 Quick Takes, check our Jen Fulwiler's blog Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vacation Update

We left at noon on Friday Sept. 14 and returned home about 8pm on Sunday September 23. Nine and a half days away! It was a long time to be away, but definitely a fun time.

Visiting with family, visiting with friends, spending time at the beach, the pool, and just taking it easy. All of it was great! I loved that we got to see so many people in the course of this trip!

The boys travel pretty well, but they certainly do get tired of sitting their car seats for long periods of time. We tried giving them some breaks, but you can only do that so much before you've added on a few too many hours to the trip. So there were some rough moments, but it was all worth it.

That first Friday of travel we stopped in Asheville, NC to stay the night with my cousin and his family. It was the first time I got to meet his two teenage daughters. We had a great time visiting and catching up.

The Saturday we drove an hour south and stopped in Spartenburg, SC to visit with Hubby's aunt and uncle and one of his cousins. We had a lovely lunch and it was fun to take a break and visit with them. The boys got to play with some new toys and were very intrigued by the cat.

We got to Hilton Head Island in time to stop for dinner Saturday, then picked up some milk at a grocery store, got checked in to the condo, and put the boys to bed. We were exhausted.

I posted some pictures last Wednesday and I have several more that I hope to get off my camera soon. The boys had fun and it was great to see them interacting with my family. They also decided that this was the week to start walking!! They still prefer crawling to get around, but we do have walkers!! Peter has gotten quite good. He can stop and regain his balance, he can turn around, and he can walk a fair distance on his own. Ethan isn't far behind. And they love it too! So much laughing at themselves and what they are doing. It's a hoot to watch!

Our trip back was done in two parts as well. We left Saturday morning and headed to Columbia where we stopped for lunch and to pick up some Gamecock gear (watch for pictures). We drove another hour north and met up with my college roommate for an hour of visiting. Then headed to Greenville, SC from there to stay the night with some other friends from college. We had a great time visiting with everyone. We all went to Mass together Sunday morning, took some pictures of the kids all together (their 3 and our 2), and then hit the road for a long drive back home.

Other interesting events of the week:
  • Cutting my finger on my razor that first Friday night
    • (Wasn't using it, just reaching in my bag for something else. Razor had no cap on it.)
  • The touch screen on my phone stopped working 
    • (Don't call or text me, not worth it)
  • Walking boys!! 
    • (Yes, I know I already mentioned that one ... but hey, can you blame me?)
  • Enjoying Nutella gelato
    • (I want to try the pizza cone next time. And more gelato!)
  • Watching the boys fascination with babies and animals grow
  • The immediate love the boys had with the Cocky pillow pets Peter's godparents got for them. 
    • (They both wanted to hold them the whole drive home on Sunday.)
  • Trying to find a fast food place that serves spaghetti in areas where there are very few food options 
    • (KFC needs to start selling spaghetti, just saying.)

I'm sure there is much more, but it's hard to remember everything. Hopefully I'll be able to grab some time tomorrow evening to get the pictures off my camera and will be able to share a few here soon!

And as much fun as this vacation was, it is definitely nice to be home!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Smiles, no. 12

I'm on vacation this week, so this post is being done in advance. While I take this week off I will be enjoying God's creation, visiting with various family members and friends, and enjoying some relaxation time with my three guys. And there will be wine.

I know there will be plenty of smiles all around.

So in my absence I hope you will share with a link-up post or in the comments: What has made you smile this week??

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Beach edition

Fun at the pool.

Ethan, aka Mr. Serious

Peter, chillin'

Ready for the beach!

Peter getting buried with his cousin

Mr. Serious digging in the sand

The boys on the sand car thing

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Smiles, no. 11

St. Aelred, patron saint
of friendship
The power of friends really showed itself to me this week. I love how God places people in your path that are always the right people for the right time. God knew what he was doing when he made us creatures that desire companionship. Friendship is a big component of that.

So going back to Saturday when I had my talk, the focus of the talks that day were basically on friendship. With those talks on my mind, more so the deacon's talk rather than my own, I went into the rest of the week thinking about friendship. Then two things happened this week.

First, I ran into an issue (one I don't want to expound on here) and was rather angry about it one evening. I had been told one thing and then found out another and was not happy with the situation nor the position it put me in. I went to an online group of women that I trust completely and consider friends (although I've only met a handful of them in person) and used their patience and friendship to vent about it. I wasn't expecting anything from them, I just knew that they would let me vent, not judge me, and offer prayers for the stress I was dealing with. I got prayers, sympathy, no judgement, etc. and much more. I got some assistance and reassurance that I wasn't expecting! I suddenly felt relief for the first time that evening and felt like the problem may solve itself easier than I had anticipated.

Wow, what a great feeling that was!! These ladies were just the friends I needed at a time when I really needed that love and support. And they may just have solved the problem for me. That's still to be seen. But the point is: I felt so much better!! I was assisted in my need by a group of friends in a way that I probably would not have been able to do on my own.

The second thing is directly tied to the talk I gave on Saturday. I gave that talk in my role as a volunteer leader for the Cursillo movement in my diocese. Our Cursillo movement has a men's weekend coming up in December and we usually always struggle to get enough attendees to hold these weekends. This time, however, we are already getting more candidates than I usually have this far out from the weekend. This can be attributed to the power of friendship. Each candidate must have a sponsor and the sponsors really seem to be praying for their friends hard. One sponsor told me he has been working on some of his friends for two years now! He has several of his friends already signed up to attend.

I'm amazed at the response so far! Only through a trusting, deep friendship are we able to pray our friends into attending these weekends. I told the group on Saturday that our goal is not to get our friends to come to Cursillo, but to bring them closer to Christ. Cursillo is just a bonus. Right now we have lots of people who have been brought closer to Christ and now want to do more.

Only through true friendship are these things possible. And true friendship has to be based on something. I believe when a friendship is based on God and faith it can know no bounds.

Thank you, God, for the power of friendship. Help me and all my friends to continue to deepen our friendships with each other and especially with you and your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

What made you smile this week?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yes, You Heard Me Right

Shy? Did she say she was shy? Was she joking?

If you read my post from Monday and thought anything along the lines of the above statement, then this post should help explain your confusion.

Yes, you heard me right: I am a shy person.

This has always just been a fact of life for me and something I assumed everyone around me easily picked up on. But then several years ago I mentioned it to some colleagues and they looked at me like I had two heads. No way, they told me, are you a shy person!

Anyone who has known me from the time I was a kid will not be surprised by this at all. I imagine that my friends from college and grad school may also view me as a shy person. Although I would venture to guess that I was starting to appear less so sometime in the grad school years.

Despite the fact that I have given a number of presentations over my professional career at a wide variety of venues; despite teaching a graduate school class to roughly 25 students a semester for 3-4 semesters; despite my years as a performing musician with the occasional solo performance, I still remain a shy person. It's a fact of my life.

In order to do some of the things I do, I have worked hard and taught myself to be more "out going" when necessary. I have purposely put myself in situations where I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and speak to people. And over the years I have gotten better, but it doesn't get any easier. Starting a conversation is one of the hardest things for me to do. I don't meet people easily and often prefer sticking with the people I know when in a large group of mixed company. This is not to say I can't do these things, I can, but it is difficult. It takes a lot of effort! And I leave large gatherings (parties, conferences, receptions at work, etc.) completely exhausted.

So yes, I am a shy person. It is one of the reasons why I think I enjoy blogging so much. But maybe that is a post for another day.

Tell me, are you a shy person, too? How have you learned to overcome it (as much as you can "overcome" an inherent quality) in order to develop friendships or do other things that are difficult to do as a shy person?

Or maybe you are an out-going individual? If so, I'm curious what normal life things you find difficult to do that is comparable to the challenges I face as a shy person. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Image source: morgueFile

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget


A Prayerful Remembrance, September 11, 2001

Father in Heaven,
We look to you for peace in a world filled with anger.
We look to you for hope in a world filled with despair.
We look to you for love in a world filled with hatred.
May those who lost their lives, find peace in your Kingdom.
May families and friends left behind, find solace in your love.
May a world shattered by these tragedies, find healing in your strength.
O Merciful Lord,
Guide our future with your wisdom.
Bestow tranquility on our world.
Bring compassion to our hearts.
Amen.

Prayer from: Mostholyname.org

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Holy Spirit is in Control

I mentioned in a post last week (Putting God in Charge of my Priorities) that I had a talk to give on Saturday. Luckily I did manage to get the talk written and was prepared by the time Saturday morning rolled around.

Phew!

I was actually very calm about it too. I expected to be nervous because I'm always nervous before I have to be in front of a group. But I wasn't. Very uncharacteristic for me. Very!

My talk that morning was the second of two talks. Usually, in a situation like this, I don't get much out of anything before my own talk. Not true on Saturday morning. And I'm grateful, because the talk before mine was great and I got a lot out of it. So glad I was able to focus and listen and absorb the information. Especially since both talks (this one and my own) may be repeated by us for a different group of people in a few months!

Despite my calmness, I did still get that familiar sudden feeling of terror in the pit of my stomach just before I got up to speak. But it went away once I was at the podium and from there things went smoothly. I remember thinking how completely uncharacteristic this was for me.

I attribute my calmness to the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit could have accomplished something as great as calming the nerves of a very shy person about to speak to a group of people.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your presence that morning.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Saturday Smiles, no. 10

Courtesy of
DesignsbyBirgit.blogspot.com
I had one of those realization moments this week that made me aware of God's presence in my life. It was a moment that made me see how the Hand of God has been directing my life without me even know it. And when you have that moment of realization it can be overwhelming. Only someone who loves you as much as God does can have that kind of patience with such a stubborn person.

A friend of mine posted a political cartoon this week on her Facebook page. It was one of those cartoons that is funny if you are pro-life.  If you're not, it was probably a little off-putting. as these things go, a conversation had developed under the picture in which one person was arguing the pro-abortion side of things against my friend and all her (our) other friends. The logic the pro-abortion person was using was so illogical that I couldn't help myself and I stepped in to say something.

By her logic, my children that died before birth never actually existed and were not human. So I had to ask her what my son was if he was not human. I had felt his movements before he died, seen his heartbeat, held him in my arms after his death and birth, counted his fingers and toes, touched is perfect little face, and so on. But he wasn't human according to her logic. It was a ridiculous argument, obviously.

As expected she did not respond to my comment. I really didn't expect her to because otherwise she would have had to admit the fault in her logic. I know how these conversations go, I understand ignoring the points that challenge your logic ... because I used to be on her side.

I read the rest of the conversation, but didn't bother contributing again. I had made my point, been ignored, but maybe had planted a seed. That was enough.

But as I scanned through the conversation and thought about where I used to be and where I am now, I can see God's Hand in my life. I know it was He who sent the right people in my path to challenge my ideas and get me to think differently. He placed me in the right places, at the right times to challenge me as I needed to be challenged. And I'm glad He did. I had a momentary thought about how different my miscarriages and Zachary's stillbirth might have been had I still been "pro-choice" at the time. I'm incredibly grateful that I did not have to experience those losses from that point of view.

I often have these little moments of realization where I see how it is all part of God's plan that I am where I am at this time and in this place. This was one of those moments. It's funny how a simple political cartoon can bring about such introspection.

Thank you, God, for guiding me to the life that I have today. I pray that I will continue to trust in you.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Putting God in Charge of my Priorities

I really should be doing something else right now. Actually, I should be doing a lot of things right now. Sleep would be nice, but that's not on the top of my list right now. Most likely my priorities are a little out of whack, but that's okay, we can worry about that another time.

Instead I am sitting at my desk with my Bible on one side of me and a handout from a presentation I went to a while back on the other side of me. I am supposed to be writing a talk. A talk I am giving on Saturday. Yes ... THIS Saturday. The Bible, the handout, my notes (on the handout), these are my tools. Sitting idly by while I write a blog post about why I'm not writing my talk.

What was that about priorities?

This week has been crazy. I think that craziness has made it difficult for me to concentrate on something that needs focused attention. Last week I was sick, so doing anything was out of the question. This week, I'm better but had so much stuff to catch up on. And I know I'm probably forgetting something too.

And sometimes you just need a break. And that's what we did Wednesday night. And on our way to get some frozen yogurt (thus delaying the boys' bedtime) my iPod alarm went off and I remembered a meeting I was supposed to attend right then. And that triggered a reminder in my brain that Hubby's wine club was also that evening. So I missed my meeting (luckily that turned out okay) and we have no new wines (sadness), but we had frozen yogurt (which made the boys very happy, until it was gone and then they were very angry).

Breaks are good ... necessary actually. And I have another very long break coming up! A whole week away. But before that, I really need to get this talk written. And a letter written that I was asked to submit today. And I have to brush up on my football knowledge for an interview I'm doing (more on that later). And prepare a presentation I was asked to do in Early October. And, and, and ...

Well, okay, I can wait a bit on the October thing. Priorities!

What I really needed to do tonight was write this post. Weird, I know. But for me, it helped to get something written. It broke the ice for more writing I need to do. And writing helps me focus. It's a good exercise for the brain.

Now I can focus on the talk and I think I'll put off the letter. I'm sure the letter is needed tomorrow, but it will have to wait. I can't do it all. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I can do everything within the time frame God has planned for me. I need to allow Him to guide me in my priorities.

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of us your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created,
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
instructs the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise
and ever rejoice
in His consolations.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

God, I pray for guidance. 
Send your Spirit to guide me in the words You need me to share.
Amen.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Saturday Smiles, no. 9

To be perfectly honest, this week was not all that good. Well, no ... let me rephrase that. It was a horrible week! I was dreadfully sick for a few days at the beginning of the week and, once I was feeling better, I still had zero energy and couldn't look at food. Thursday was the first day that I really started feeling normal again. Friday was much, much better.

Friday morning it occurred to me that I hadn't paid any attention to how God was blessing me this week. I know intellectually that even in the midst of my pain and suffering He was blessing me in some way. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling it and the brain was too foggy to think back on the week.

Which brings me to Friday night, sitting down to write this post. As I sit here contemplating how God has been working in my life I am actually reminded of how one decision about twenty or so years ago completely changed my life, or at least changed the course I thought my life was on. I am thinking about this now because lately I've been feeling a string pull back to the my dreams from before that one decision of twenty-some years ago.

It's funny how one decision can make all the difference. There are probably other smaller decisions that played into that bigger decision from 20+ years ago, but I think back and I know that one really made the difference. That one put me on a path that puts me where I am today. Thinking about this now I can see how God guided me to this place; He had a hand in that decision making process all those years ago, even though I had no thought of Him at the time at all. And now that I'm here, where I am supposed to be according to His plan, I feel like He is placing old desires back onto my heart. Those things I thought would be a big part of my life that took a back seat for more than twenty years are now nagging at me.

So I had to laugh.

First, at myself. Oh how I worry about things sometimes. But God has it all under control.

Second, at God. Even when we think we have given up certain dreams, God has a way of bringing them back to us one day. He is a tricky fella. I laugh and He laughs with me. And probably at me a little too. Which I'm sure I deserve.

And that is what made me smile this week. It wasn't exactly one "moment" from my week, but more of a realization twenty years in the making.

Now God needs to reveal to me how this next step can come about. That may take me another 20 years.

What made you smile this week? How were you most aware of God's presence in your life? Share in the comments or link up your own "God moment" post from your blog by clicking the button below and filling out the fields that appear. Please also include a link in your post back to this one. Thanks!