Monthly Archives: January 2013

Waking Up

Sick Jennie

Wake up. Arrhythmia. Hard to breathe.

Exhausted.

Check phone which is lying next to me. Read text; pray for friend.

Thirsty, but exhausted. Don’t want to get out of bed, but there’s no one else to grab me something to drink.

Lay there for a few minutes… Finally, get out of bed and get some juice. Starting to think in longer phrases.

Then.

Dizziness. Nausea.

Drink 3 ounces. Go back to bed. Flop down.

Get back up.

After all, this is my life. Usually, I have to go in to work or have something else planned for my day. This morning, I don’t have anything pressing. So, I’ll blog about it. Not to get sympathy, but because this is my experience right now. I don’t feel sorry for myself; it’s true that I have difficult times, but everyone has difficulties, right? It’s important to remember other people, particularly when you are not doing well yourself.

This is usually the time when I pray for others the most. Frequently, I’ll ask my priest for names of people who are in particular need of prayer, whom I’ve never met and probably never will. They say that offering your suffering for others is redemptive for them in some way, and I cling to that. Also, just the fact of focusing on someone else, instead of myself, distracts me from what I’m going through and helps my to learn to love others better.

Later today, I’m going to surprise a friend with a gift. Because she’s not feeling well. 🙂 It involves a bit of shopping, so hopefully I’ll feel just a little bit better and be able to drag myself out of the house.

Until then, do you think it’s okay to wish for minions who can run errands for you? 🙂

[My mom says this photo is the only one she’s ever seen of me in which I don’t look good. And that’s why she kept it. Thanks, Mom!]

Novena to the Thirteen Blessed Souls

A friend asked me to pray this novena for her for the next 13 days. The 13 blessed souls are Jesus and the 12 apostles (I’m assuming Matthew and not Judas for the 12th apostle).

If you’d also like to pray this novena with me, here it is!

(Please Note – The repeat of the first line is not a mistake it is supposed to be read twice.)

Oh my thirteen Blessed souls so wise and understanding, I ask you for the Love of God that my request be answered. Oh my thirteen Blessed souls so wise and understanding, I ask you for the Love of God that my request be answered. Of you I ask for the sake of the blood that Jesus shed that my request be answered.

My Lord Jesus Christ that your protection wrap me with your arms. Guard me with your eyes.

O God of kindness you have been my defender in life and death. I ask that you free me from the difficulties that torment me. My thirteen blessed souls so wise and understanding having received the grace I seek from you [state request] I will be devoted to you.

Say 13 Our Fathers and 13 Hail Marys for 13 consecutive days and offer a Mass of Thanksgiving.

The Love Dare: Day 3

I didn’t skip this dare, and I didn’t forget about it. Today’s dare involves trying to be unselfish, and I didn’t feel that I really had a good chance to be unselfish yesterday and decided to extend the dare for several more days.

Part of being unselfish for me is to think more of the stresses and demands placed on others and trying to relieve these, instead of thinking of the stresses and demands that others are placing on me.

While I have tried to adjust my thinking and my heart, I was given the opportunity to concretely do something for others on January 11th. A friend had told me of an awful fire, where 20 units burned. The tenants lost everything. While the management got them placed into vacant units in the complex, they didn’t have any beds or blankets and were sleeping on the floor. They didn’t have basic essentials, like food, dish soap or shampoo.

I ended up going shopping for them and picking up a few things, which was joy enough for me. I didn’t need any recognition for it, nor was I looking for an atta-boy. What ended up happening was that God put someone into my life that I really didn’t have a relationship with before.

This girl has an incredibly beautiful heart. The way she loves is inspiring. She loves deeply: her family, her co-workers, her neighbors, complete strangers. And she gives of herself selflessly. What a gift, that I should have this person enter my life! 🙂

What has been even better, in the subsequent days, is that she has spurred me on to greater awareness of others and acts of unselfishness. Which was kind of the point of Day 3, right? 🙂

Sometimes It’s the Small Things

Agony in the Garden

I can study the Catechism or Scripture, but sometimes it’s just a phrase or sentence in random places that I reflect upon the most. A friend regularly sends out different reflections throughout the week and, to be honest, I don’t read through them all. Today, however, I did read (skim) through it and this stood out for me:

God the Son, in your eyes, I am like a poor, helpless sheep whom you gently pick up and carry when I’m worn out from my sins…. I am completely unworthy of your love, but so grateful to find rest and a true home in you. Lord, grant me a generous heart.

Yes. Please.

Words

Have you ever stopped to reflect on how you’ve learned words? Certainly, a lot of our knowledge is from our parents and from school, but what about those words that we learned on our own, by reading in context and things like this?

Do we *really* know what they mean? Precisely?

Maybe not. I know there are quite a few words that I only know the meaning of in a general sense. There are probably a lot of words that I’ve only read and never heard, so I’m not certain of the correct way to pronounce them.

Like “banal”. I always thought the emphasis was on the first syllable, which had a long A sound. But, I have heard many people on the radio pronounce it with a short A, and emphasis on the second syllable. And what exactly does it mean?

Merriam-Webster says it means, “lacking originality, freshness,” where I always thought it meant something like, “boring” or “meaningless”.

Maybe I should work harder to look up these words I don’t really know. Instead of tending to skip past them and remaining ignorant. 🙂

Here’s another one: Ineffable = “incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; not to be uttered”

Perhaps some day, I’ll master the English language…. Some day a long time from now…. 🙂

Sacred Space

A friend sent me a link to Sacred Space, a prayer site run by Irish Jesuits. On a whim during my lunch today, I popped on and starting praying with their prayers, reflections, and Scripture for today.

The Scripture was the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. After reading the passage, they ask you to reflect upon how this Scripture made you feel.

In the beginning, they describe the people as being like sheep without a shepherd. This made me think of myself as a sheep, and how I would feel if I were without my shepherd. And I became sad. I need my shepherds. I would be lost without them.

Then, they spoke of how all the sheep were gathered up and held within the communion symbolized by the loaves and fishes, and I saw in this the analogy of the Mass. It made me reflect upon the profound connection that there is between our priests and the Mass. And upon how much I need both.

I need this sacramental life like I need air to breathe. And I can’t imagine my life now without it.

Thanks be to God.

The Love Dare: Day 2

I know that this isn’t the next calendar day after Day 1, but I felt that I should pick up where I left off, instead of trying to cram many days into one. I felt that would be cheating, somehow. I need to learn each lesson as I come to them and spend the appropriate time on them before looking at the next.

Today’s dare focuses on kindness, the second pillar of love (the first being patience). They tell us that kindness is comprised of four separate things: gentleness, helpfulness, willingness, and initiative. And that kindness is love in action. To truly be kind, I need to be aware of my basic selfishness and die to self, so that I can live for the good of others. This is really hard; I think we are by nature selfish. I think that I have a high degree of empathy for other people, but I still need to fight with myself to *do something* about it. Especially when that “something” involves some sort of sacrifice on my behalf.

Today’s dare is to do one unexpected gesture of kindness for our spouse. It was a sacrifice for me on a number of levels, and it was not made easily. But it was for the love of Christ, and He turned that sacrifice into a blessing for me, as well. This doesn’t really surprise me. After all, our priest is known to exhort couples at their wedding to try to “outdo” each other in kindness. If the relationship that I am working on is the one between Jesus and myself, then I really have no hope of being able to outdo Him in kindness. 🙂 Although, I can try. 🙂

Epiphany House Blessing

I found this tradition in a Catholic bookstore around my first Epiphany (which was in 2008), and have kept it a tradition in my household ever since. Basically, you are taking time on this day to consecrate yourself and your household to God for the year, up to next Epiphany, when you do it again. You can find prayers for this house blessing in several places online, this one is the site that I used tonight to bless my house and to consecrate myself to the Lord.

Since I live alone, I said all the prayers myself, aloud. 🙂

I prayed the Magnificat from the Bible I received from the RCIA program, when I was joining the Catholic Church.

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Then I sprinkled holy water in each of the rooms of my house. I don’t really have a good “sprinkling” technique, so I kind of splooshed gobs of water in each room from my holy water bottle. I’m sure God can work with that. 🙂

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I didn’t have any incense with which to incense each room in the house. Instead, I took a candle I received at a memorial Mass for my godmother, lit it, and prayed for her intercession in each room in my house. I tried to tailor my prayers to the activities that normally occur in each room (E.g. pray for friends and relationships, that I consume media that feed rather than diminish my soul, etc. when I was in the living room). I asked her to take all these prayers to the throne of the Lord.

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As the last part of the house blessing, I inscribed + 20 C + M + B 13+ above the entry doors to my home.

Front Door:
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Back Door:
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Epiphany

This is the first Epiphany Mass in four years in which I did not cry. Four years ago today, my godmother, Pat McDonald, died and went home to Jesus. While I am happy that she is no longer sick and suffering, the selfish part of me misses her quite a bit.

It is also rather fitting that today, on Epiphany, I would celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel, with Fr. John, who was her spiritual director and a good friend of us both. At one point in her illness, she was no longer up to serving at Mass at St. Anastasia as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. With the additional prompting of our pastor, Fr. JJ, I agreed to take her spot on Team 1.

Last summer, I signed up to me an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Our Lady of Good Counsel as well (I’m a parishioner at both parishes). I’m only called to be a minister there about once every month and a half. As it happened, today was one of those days. Not only that, but for the first time since the summer, Fr. John was the priest celebrating Mass. And! It was the first time that I got to distribute the Body of Christ (as opposed to the Blood of Christ). AND! I was assigned to stand next to Fr. John while doing it. 🙂

My red sweater fit in nicely with all the poinsettias on the altar and the red trim on Fr. John’s white chasuble. 🙂 Not that that matters, but it was a nice detail.

I was so joyful up there, handing Jesus to people. I’m sure I was grinning ear to ear the whole time. LOL!

It is Masses like this where I never want to leave. I just want to stay there in the company of Jesus and my friends forever. God willing, this will happen soon! 🙂

Here is Pat, taken on a trip to the Holy Land, overlooking Jerusalem.
Pat McDonald, Overlooking Jerusalem, Gallicantu Area
I love you!

Detroit Pistons Game!

I impulsively jumped on a contest sponsored by my friend and dentist, Dr. Greg Elliott and won tickets to a basketball game on Friday, Jan. 4th. The Detroit Pistons were playing the Atlanta Hawks.

I invited along my friend, Sandra, and we headed to the Palace after work from Ann Arbor. We got pretty good parking and the door that we entered was *right by* our section! We couldn’t have asked for anything better! Our seats were right on the aisle, too! 4th row in the second tier. 🙂 We could see everything.

Even more impressive, to Sandra, was the fact that it was Star Wars night, and we got to see Storm Troopers everywhere! 🙂 She even had her picture taken with one:

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I don’t like the way this guy is pointing his gun at me…

We arrived in time to get snacks: popcorn, pretzels and soda. The popcorn and soda were bottomless, but, alas, we did not make it past the first serving.

R2D2 looks on as one of the Hawks stretches out in the middle of the court:
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When our guys were announced, they got the cool lighting! 🙂
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On the back of the program, there were different things that you could text in to try and win things throughout the game — to make it a little more interactive. The first one was to predict who would win the tip off:

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I didn’t get an entry in this one. The wrong team got the ball.

I was pretty surprised with how many times the game was interrupted when it was not a time-out or break in the game. Perhaps they were for commercial breaks…? The plus side, was that we got to see a lot of side acts and dance routines.

At one point, they showed a video of one of the players light-saber dueling with Hooper in the locker room:
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At one end of the court, there was a board displaying tweets sent to @detroitpistons. I tried all night to get my tweet up there. FAILED. Not sure why; I used all the right hashtags and stuff.
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Some action shots:

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“Detroit Basketball” in Star Wars font:
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Okay, I think we both know that this post is already a glut of photos. Why not add to it? 🙂

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SWOOSH! 2 points for Detroit!
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It was so funny… This Atlanta player looks either scared or bewildered in every picture I took of him. 🙂
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DEFENSE! DEFENSE!
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YES!
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We must have brought our luck to the game, as Detroit won! 🙂