Mid-Week Day Off!

Since I have to work on Saturday this week, I took today off. It always feels odd, to have a day off work like this in the middle of the week, but I like it! 🙂

(Of course, this means that my plans for Saturday… will have to be canceled. I forgot about that part….)

I took the opportunity to plan a day with my friend, Amy, whom I met on Facebook. We had met briefly in person at the first HHS rally, but this was to be our first chance to actually get together. I make friends with people so quickly, I had to keep reminding myself that I was still pretty much a stranger. LOL! 🙂 It was such a lovely afternoon! And passed by all too quickly!

Can you believe that I spent an entire day off and didn’t take a single picture?! I even brought both cameras with me!

And, I never did find out what jobs she had waiting for me…. 🙂 Perhaps next time….

I wake up throughout the night, usually. Since today was a day off, I got to sleep in until about 7 am. I had originally intended to go to the 9:30 am Mass here in Troy, but knew that I had some things to do before I left the house and that it probably wouldn’t be practical for me to get them done and fit Mass in also. Plus, I wanted to make sure that I felt well enough to visit this afternoon. So, I ended up laying around in bed reading a book until 9 am or so. It was a really good book, which added to my lounging. 🙂

Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and went to tackle the laundry situation. See, I only have one pair of shorts. And I had worn them to the picnic last week where there was the possibility of them (and me) having come in contact with some poison ivy.

I hate poison ivy with a vile, vile passion.

So, they had remained in a little heap by the laundry room, waiting for me to “decontaminate” them. Which I had put off. Until today.

But I couldn’t just do this pile of clothes. That would be too easy. I had let laundry pile up. I hadn’t laundered those clothes because I had a load of towels in the washer, needing to be dried. And I hadn’t put the wet towels in the dryer because there was a dry load in there waiting to be removed, folded and put away. And I hadn’t done *that* because every time I thought of it, I was exhausted and couldn’t possibly bring myself to take them out of the dryer, carry them to the bedroom and put them away.

Because taking clothes out of the dryer and carrying them to my bedroom makes me short of breath. And I’d have to make at least two trips to get all of the clothes out.

This disease really makes my life complicated sometimes.

So in order to get ready for this afternoon, I had to empty the dryer, run the load of towels again (since they were starting to get that mildew smell and had to be washed again with some detergent and vinegar — remind me to sing the praises of vinegar for you one day…), toss *those* into the dryer, run the load of picnic clothes, dry *them* and then get dressed.

I don’t have the world’s fastest dryer. I asked for “cheapest” when I went to buy it. It has three dry cycles. I use two of them. “Automatic high” for everything, and “Timer” for warming up clothes in the winter or getting the wrinkles out of dirty laundry that I’m going to wear again (yep, I’m a bachelor). It has three cycles because apparently they don’t make a dryer that only has one. Truly, I only need “on” and “off”. The salesman looked at me oddly when I asked if there were such a thing.

Needless to say, I was running late. 🙂 I stopped at a Biggby coffee to get drinks for Amy, me and the kids. For the kids, I ordered 100 oz. of frozen hot chocolate. 🙂 For Amy and I, I picked up some iced drinks and for once ordered them *with ice* like a normal person. However, I managed to slop part of one of the iced drinks on me when trying to get into the car. Luckily, I had a towel inside and could wipe off. And, thankfully, I had a dark shirt on, so could arrive without a glaringly obvious coffee stain. 🙂

It was a lovely visit, and not only did I get to spend time with Amy and her family, but I also got to meet her friend, Lydia! 🙂 And, I had some of Amy’s pot pie for dinner! Yum!

Too soon, it was time to head home. I listed to another episode of Catholic Answers Live (which I had heard previously) on the way back, because I am *certain*, or at least 87% certain, that I heard one of the guests say on the program that Pope John Paul II wrote something where he made a distinction between human life and human personhood. I had asked Fr. John what this writing might be, as I wanted to read it, and he said that this didn’t sound right — that JPII wouldn’t have said something like that. So here I am, listening to all the episodes from the past week, trying to find it….

I got home and was surprised at how tired I am. Just hanging out here on the couch, playing online a bit. Today’s a fasting day, but I can’t fast from food, so I decided today to fast from TV, since I’d been creating a habit of vegging out and watching DVR’ed episodes of House Hunters until late in the evenings. Amazing how that can get to be a routine, even though I’d gone without watching any TV for about 8 months or so until recently.

For the rest of the night, I think I’ll be online for a little bit, read for a little bit and spend some real quality time in prayer. 🙂

Have a good night!

Sometimes I Feel Like a Second-Class Citizen at My Own Parish

Cranky Babies Get Tossed Away!

My sentiments come from two sources.

First, I am a little unsettled, I suppose, over something that happened yesterday at church. I was reading in the library, when a man came in. He looked a little surprised that I was there, then let me know that they were having a meeting for the Evangelization team at 7 pm. He said not to worry and to take my time, since we had over 20 minutes until the meeting was to begin. He said he was going to go to the chapel to pray and left. He was very warm and friendly.

Then. A woman came in and set her things on the table. She looked over at me and demanded, “Who are *you*? You aren’t attending this meeting are you? I didn’t think there was going to be any newcomers at this meeting.” Clearly, I was unwelcome in the library. I was a little surprised at her behavior, but didn’t really say anything. The meeting was still more than 20 minutes away. I started packing up my things and I guess she realized what she had sounded like, because she apologized for being rude, offered me some of the cookies she had brought and left the room. I didn’t really feel like having any of her cookies at that point and finished putting stuff in my bag. She and the first man came in as I was leaving and she apologized again. There was still 15 minutes until the meeting and in the meantime, another woman had wandered in to look at the library books.

I was a little hurt by her rudeness, but more amused at the irony of being made to feel unwelcome in my parish by a member of the parish’s *Evangelization* committee. What if I *hadn’t* been Catholic? What if I were considering becoming Catholic? I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable joining that community. And it might just push me away enough that I don’t continue to look for the truth that is found in the Catholic Church.

The second reason why I sometime feel like a second-class citizen is a sore spot with me. I’m sure I’m probably just sensitive to it, but it pushes my buttons:

I’m single. And apparently this isn’t okay.

Let me explain. The Catholic Church thinks this is just fine. In fact, the Church recognizes the single life as a valid vocation. God can *call* people to the single life. Singles generally have more time to do his work (over people who have obligations to raising a family) and live in the world where there is usually greater access to people for the purposes of evangelization, apologetics, and witnessing to the faith (over consecrated religious).

However, people who *attend* the church often act in a way that gives the impression that singles are not as important as consecrated men and women or married people. Worse, they treat us as if we are in some sort of “holding pattern” and that one day, if we are lucky, God might remember us and call us to the married state or the consecrated/religious life.

As if we were God’s forgotten, neglected step-children or something.

No, I don’t have a husband to love me, support me, or help out when I am tired, stressed, or just can’t handle projects on my own. No, I don’t have cute children.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not a valuable member of society. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have anything to contribute to a discussion on kids and family life. I can’t tell you how many times friends, even good friends, have left me out of wedding planning or pregnancy talks or advice about kids because I am single. They just don’t think of me.

Even in the parish, there is a lack of attention paid to the needs of singles. Don’t get me wrong. I really, truly understand that the value of a stable, faith-based family life is under attack. And I know how important solid marriages are for society in general. I know that it’s important to nurture and protect these marriages and families. And I pray for them.

But have you noticed that if there is any events directed towards singles in the parish, they are usually “social gatherings” which seem to be mostly directed towards “meeting people” and dating? What? So that us poor single people can *finally* meet someone and then be able to get on with our lives as married folk?

A couple years ago, the parish put out a special bulletin, highlighting the various vocations. It had articles written by a nun, a deacon, a married couple and a priest. There was nothing, zero, by a single person. I complained about this, and … was invited to write an article which they would run in the next bulletin to remedy the oversight. 🙂 Which I did.

I am a happy person. I usually don’t dwell upon things like this. I suppose feeling this way helps me to learn humility. It’s NOT all about me. It’s about others. I should be willing to pour out my life for those around me. But sometimes I pout, and jump up and down and yell, “I’M LOVED BY GOD, TOO!”

Good thing for me that Confession is tomorrow. I certainly need it! 🙂

Oh No He Didn’t!

Fr. JJ

I was innocently sitting in the back pew after Mass on Sunday, when Fr. JJ came in, headed straight for me, thwapped me upside the head with his Day Planner, and then ran away saying, “God told me to do it!”

I tried to swat him back with my bulletin, but it didn’t do very much.

Priests! I tells ya! 🙂

We Have an Amazing, Personally Involved, God

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It’s amazing how God works in people’s lives sometimes…. This is what happened to me after work yesterday. I had a bit of time since I didn’t have to be in Troy until 7 pm for the Fisherman’s Net Charismatic Prayer Group meeting. I knew that my house was going to be sweltering, as I turn off the 2 little window A/C units that I have before going to work, and didn’t want to hang out there. So, I went to one of my favorite after-work hangouts: OLGC! 🙂

I had the double intention of taking some pictures of the baptismal font, as an upcoming theme for my Project 52 group is Water. I spent the first little while sitting on the floor by the font playing with the holy water. Marinating in holy water HAS to be good for you, right? 🙂 And the floor was nice and cool — I loved it.

Next, I took a “video tour” of the upper floor of the church. I’ll see if I can get the video uploaded somewhere soon (sometimes I have an issue with file size, but don’t do enough video work to warrant getting a professional account somewhere). Of course, this started out with taking pictures of everything, as that is what I do. 🙂 And, yes, I took over 100 pictures…. LOL!

I still had about half an hour until I wanted to leave, so I pulled a book out of my backpack and sat back down by the font to read. A little while later a woman walking down the hall asked, “Is there anywhere in this church where you can light a candle?” Since I had seen it on my video tour, I replied, “Yeah, it’s down the hall by the Mary icon,” pointing. I kind of watched while she walked down the hall, and it looked like she was getting lost in the seating area. I called after her, “It’s all the way at the end of the hall!” Then, I got up, hopped over the river of holy water and went over to her.

As I started to walk her down to the mosaic of Mary and Jesus, I noticed that she seemed a little upset. I asked her if there was anything wrong, if there was anything that I could pray for, for her. She started crying and told me that she had lost her house. Not only that, but she was a nurse, currently out of work, and had been staying with a friend until recently. Her friend had told her sister that it wasn’t working out, so she not only felt abandoned — because she was no longer welcome there and had no place to go — but she felt additionally hurt that her friend couldn’t tell this to her directly, but spoke to her sister. She was getting a little disillusioned, starting to question where God was in all this and becoming weary of her burden.

I gave her a hug and asked her if she wanted me to pray with her right there, in front of Mary. She said yes, so I lit a candle for her, and we both knelt down. She asked if I would pray, so I prayed aloud for all of her needs. She wept. She said how happy she was that I was there, that she had asked me a question, and that God had brought the two of us together.

After we prayed, we started to walk back down the hallway. She let me know that she was there to meet with some people from the Knights of Columbus and that they had been putting her up in a local hotel. She said that she had spoken to Fr. John and that he had put her in contact with the Knights. She said that he seemed like a nice man, and that she hadn’t known that he was in charge of the radio station. We talked a little about the radio station and she asked when his show came on. I said I could look it up for her and we walked over to where my phone was.

On the way, she noted that she had given Fr. John 3 Miraculous medals. I stopped and kind of looked at her for a second.

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling particularly bad and had been spending lots of time after work at the church. On one of the days, I ran into Fr. John while I was there. He asked if I had a Miraculous medal. I did not. He said that a woman gave 3 to him and he had been praying about who to give them to.

“He gave one of them to me.” She looked at me, “You’re kidding!” She asked me a little of how I knew him. I didn’t share a lot, but did agree with her that it was good to pray for him, as he tends to keep himself pretty busy. 🙂 I sat down to write down the times that his radio program, “Christ is the Answer,” aired, and she went to get her soda and said she would sit down apart from me, so as not to “bother me” any longer. She didn’t realize that I was writing down the show times for her.

It was about time for me to leave, so I took the paper over to her, where I had written the show times (as well as a personal note for her). She said, “When I see Fr. John next, I’ll have to ask him how he got so lucky to have you in his life!” I grinned and laughed, “You’ll have to ask him EXACTLY LIKE THAT!” Hahaha! 🙂

God is amazing the way He brings people together, isn’t He? 🙂

Please join me in praying for her.

Movie Review: Magic Mike

I have to admit, I didn’t really have any interest in seeing Magic Mike to begin with. My first contact with the movie was seeing a print ad for it in a magazine where all of the lead actors were half-naked. This didn’t especially appeal to me, and seeing some friends remarking about the “hotness” of this actor over that one just reinforced my non-interest. Why would I want to give my money to something that led women into the near or actual occasion of sin?

Why indeed.

Well, I ended up getting involved in a conversation on Facebook where someone was commenting on the trailer for the movie. In order that I might actually speak intelligently on the subject, I watched the trailer. This led me to think that maybe it was a bit more than just soft porn out there to make a buck. I wanted to be able to come back to my online friends with something substantial, so when I saw that the movie was playing locally in half an hour… I went.

Okay, first you all should know just how much I love you, because it’s no easy thing to walk into that movie theater and buy a ticket to Magic Mike alone. Even the clerk asked me, “Just one?” I was the only person in line.

When I stepped into the theater, I was the only person in the room. Great. Well, at least it wasn’t crowded? Eventually a few more people showed up, but there probably wasn’t more than 20 of us. Perhaps this is because it was 10:30 pm on the night before Independence Day.

The movie ended up being both better and worse than I expected.

Worse, in that there was a LOT of outright nudity and … “suggestive” acts isn’t quite the right phrase. There wasn’t much suggestion about it. It was more like outright “telling” witlhout actually “doing.” But that’s pretty true to life. Strippers are meant to shock and thrill, right? There was also bad language, objectification of both sexes and portrayals of drug use. So, I can’t recommend that anyone actually see the movie. Especially not those who are easily influenced or where watching these mostly naked men will cause them to lust.

Thankfully, I wasn’t “turned on” by this film. I did, however, appreciate their athleticism and dancing skills. Mostly, I found it to be a little comical as well as being a little sad. Watching the dollar bills being thrown at the men or shoved at them was a little like watching their dignity being taken from them, one bill at a time. I remember sitting in the theater, looking at an image on the screen of all these dollars scattered across the stage and likening them to teardrops. In one notable scene, “Magic” Mike was trying to straighten out these bills. He would run them against the edge of the table, much as we do when we are trying to get all the wrinkles out for the vending machine. Then, he set a heavy book on a stack of them. In another scene, he is trying to get a loan from a bank so that he can start up his own business making custom furniture — a profession he ultimately desires. But he is declined, even though he has a stack of cash as an initial investment.

All this leads me to perhaps the best part of the film: it does not glamorize this lifestyle.

In fact, as the movie progresses, it moves from Mike’s initial mindset — that being a stripper is a good source of money and girls — to realizing the emptiness of this lifestyle and ultimately rejecting it. This realization comes to him after he takes a young man under his wing and trains him as his protege, and sees how this adversely affects his life. He also realizes the emptiness in his romantic life. He goes from sleeping with multiple partners, to being confronted with the selfishness of this behavior when he tries to have more than just a superficial relationship with a regular bed-partner, to the end of the film, where it is suggested that he might have a shot at an authentic romantic relationship based on more than mere physical gratification.

Drugs are shown as dangerous, addicting and hollow. Money is shown as not being the most important thing in life. In fact, Mike gives most of the money he had been saving towards his dream, in order that his protege might escape the wrath of some drug dealers. And he doesn’t expect to get it back. We see how stripping is not a fulfilling career for the men, and how their worth deteriorates over time as they grow older and their acts are no longer “fresh.”

Once we are thoroughly disillusioned with the lifestyle and things look bleakest for the characters, a ray of hope enters when Mike rejects the lifestyle and simply walks away. There is a brief suggestion that maybe the guy will get the girl and then the movie abruptly ends, leaving you wanting more. Or at least I did. Not more mostly naked guys, but some indication that he was going to be okay. That he built a good life for himself. That his protege was able to straighten his life out as well.

We didn’t get that kind of reassurance. But we got hope. And sometimes, that’s all you need.

Independence Day Fireworks!

This post is going to be rather picture-heavy. 🙂

Yesterday was quite warm, so I spent most of the day inside in the air conditioning. My 4th of July tradition is to go up to Clawson to watch their fireworks display. For a small city, they put on quite the show!

Since I live only about a mile away, Lindsay and Erwin met up with me at my house and we walked up to the park (expecting a gridlock of traffic post-fireworks and wanting to avoid that). We met up with Brian, whose grandparents have a house in Clawson. By this time, it had started to rain. When we made it to the schoolyard across from the park field where the fireworks were to be fired from, we were soaked.

Luckily, the rain stopped in time for us to lay down our sheets and blankets and get ready for the show! The ground had been so dry that it soaked up all the rain and wasn’t soggy, although we remained damp for the rest of the night. We did get to enjoy some ice cream, while we waited for it to get fully dark. 🙂

Here is a small sample of what we got to see. The full set of pictures can be found here.

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We decided to have dinner at Friday’s to conclude our evening. Food, fireworks and friends: who could ask for a better Independence Day? 🙂