Monthly Archives: May 2013

7 Quick Takes: Whiteboard Edition

Since I live alone, I have a couple “spare” bedrooms. One is the “office” and the other I use as a exercise/prayer room. Back when I was reading through the Theology of the Body for the first time, I had a bunch of questions or things that I was trying to keep in mind so as to better understand the text. It was frustrating having to keep looking up things that I had looked up before, so I bought a whiteboard and stuck it on the back of the door. On it, I could write definitions or whatnot and then I could just look over every time I got to another sticky passage. Quite helpful.

Over the years, I’ve changed the contents of this whiteboard several times. Sometimes I’ll have lists of prayer intentions, sometimes I’ll have inspiring quotes, and when I was reading through the Bible, I admit to listing the remaining books I had left to read (out of order) and gleefully crossed them off when I had finished. Way to check the box, eh? 🙂

Anyways, I figure that since this is Friday and I have 7 Quick Takes to write, and since, coincidentally, there happens to be 7 entries on my whiteboard, that I will share this amazing amazingness with you. 🙂

So, in no particular order, I bring you:

Whiteboard

— 1 —

If it’s not okay to have a vasectomy or tubal ligation because it is self-mutilation and disabling a perfectly functioning body system which God designed, would Bariatric surgery be licit, since you are disabling a system which is working correctly, due to a lack of control? [The lack of control could be said for sex as well as eating, to make a level playing field for the comparison.]

— 2 —

“Nuptial meaning of the body” refers to the understanding that Adam and Eve had from their experiences of their own masculinity and femininity. “Meaning” = they were to be a self-gift.

— 3 —

Prov 23:12 – Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.

— 4 —

Prayer is the foundation of a moral life.

— 5 —

Baruch 4:28 – As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek Him.

— 6 —

Spousal love – the love expressed in and through a human body.

— 7 —

“We seldom succeed in overcoming as much as a single fault; and we are not wholly on fire with the desire to make daily spiritual progress. The result is that we remain negligent and tepid.”

A joyous Memorial Day weekend to all!

God Bless!

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Because I Am ALWAYS Up for a Challenge!

I was poking around the Goodreads website and followed a friend’s group page, where I found the Young Adult Book Club Quarterly Challenge #9:

You have 3 months to read 10 YA books that satisfy following requirements:

1) The Edgar Awards are awarded in April. To celebrate, read one of the award winners or any mystery. YA Edgar Awards winners can be found here.

2) Read a book that is a new release published in March, April or May of 2013. GoodReads offers lists of the most popular new releases by month, they might help you to make your choices – March, April and May (If you have difficulties obtaining these new books, you can read a release from the same months in 2012).

3) April is National Poetry Month. Read a book that is written in verse. See here and here for suggestions.

4) Read a book whose title starts with one of the letters of the word SPRING.

5) Go local and read a book that is written by an author who lives in your local area (state, county, province, or city).

6) The end of May marks the beginning of the astrological sign, Gemini. To celebrate, read a book featuring twins as primary or secondary characters. Some ideas here and here.

7) Read one of the 10 books that have been on your to-read list the longest.

8) Read a science fiction, dystopian, or steampunk book
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

9) Read a book with a silhouette or shadow on the cover. Ideas can be found here and here.

10) Read a book written by a male author
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Start Date: February 25, 2013
End Date: May 31, 2013

Although the challenge end date is rapidly approaching, I think it is fair to use any book which I have completed during the timeframe of the challenge. 🙂  As I look, it doesn’t appear that I have a lot of books which meet the criteria, as most of them are either straight-up adult books and not YA, or children’s books.  Nertz.

Keep checking back as I update the list with the books that I have read to complete the challenge! 🙂

I’m Dying… What Does That Mean??

Every so often, there is a story that touches people so deeply, they share it with those around them. Which usually means that it’s in everyone’s Facebook feed or e-mail inbox and favorited on Pinterest and YouTube. This one is no exception. Today, it was the story of Zach Sobiech, a young man who died of osteosarcoma this weekend. But he lived amazingly, and that is what he will be remembered for. I watched the 22 minute long video of his story. And the music video to his song, “Clouds“. And the video that his friends and family made in response to his music video. They were beautiful.

I downloaded the song and played it over and over as I drove to church after work. It really made me cry.

It made me cry, because it made me think. I have a terminal illness. I have no idea how much longer I have to live. It’s not the dying that is upsetting, it’s the living. Am I living the way I ought? This young man clearly has touched thousands of people. What about me? Has my life “meant anything” to anyone?

What if it has not? What if I never really impacted anyone? What is it of me that will remain in people’s hearts after I am gone?

So, I cried.

I cried and I went into the church and I curled up on a bench in the Adoration space behind the tabernacle. I texted one of my best friends, “Do I make any difference?” I was grateful for the organ music being practiced in the church — this masked my sniffling and the way my breath catches as I try to hold the sobs in.

He texted me back, “Sounds like the evil one has your ear. The answer to your question is found by looking at a cross.”

OLGC Crucifix

Oh, the irony. I was sitting under a cross. Well, the church’s crucifix, to be precise, but that’s what he meant anyway.

I sat there, trying to understand. Trying to find the answer. What is it that he says about the cross? That you can know that you are loved because Jesus did *that* for *you*. That you are loved far more than you can ever imagine. That even if you were the only human on earth, He would still have become man and died for you. I have worth because I am made in the image and likeness of God.

This was helpful, but it wasn’t the main thrust of my upset. I know that God loves me, and that I have intrinsic dignity.

My crying let up, and I gave this all more thought. Why am I so upset? What is the problem?

I don’t think my life is making a difference or impacting anyone else.

Okay.

Which lead to another question:

Does this matter?

I thought back to my original question: Do I make any difference?

Difference to who? To God? Well, I guess in some ways, the answer to that is yes and no. I mean, God doesn’t *need* anyone. But for some reason, He wants me. He willed me into existence, sustains me here and invites me into relationship with Him. To other people? I guess this is the real question.

Do I make any difference? It’s more of a material question than an existential one. I want my life to somehow positively benefit others. Does it? How can I do this more?

Is this the right thing to want?

I think most people want greatness for their lives. They want to live heroically and with integrity. To be someone others can look up to. To be a saint. I don’t think most people look at their life and decide, “Hey, I want to be mediocre and average.” And it can be good — motivating — to have lofty goals and to set your standards high.

But…

Does this mean that if you do *not* make some material contribution to the good of others that you’ve “failed” at life? Let’s look at some extreme examples. What about people who were born without proper mental faculties for whatever reason, or children who have died very young or before birth. Were their lives less “important” than, say Mother Teresa’s? Of course not. While it’s true that Mother Teresa did amazing things and touched millions of lives, this doesn’t mean that others’ lives are of lesser value.

God doesn’t grade us according to our utility. We just tend to grade ourselves this way.

Another question: How much of my angst is due to my own pridefulness in wanting to Do Great Things and be recognized?

A good question.

After all, if my life in any way positively benefits someone else, it’s actually God’s doing, really, and not mine.

And why am I being all judging about how my life is impacting others’? Isn’t this somewhat of a mystery anyway? Isn’t this what is going to be revealed to us at the end of time when we receive our final judgment? Perhaps I have a greater impact than I know, and am being silly about being upset about it now.

As I was sitting there, praying and contemplating all these things, I heard Mass begin. What? Mass? At 7 pm on a Tuesday? I quickly checked the parish calendar and saw that there was a Men’s Fellowship Mass. Oh. Well, I’m not a man, so I don’t think that I can attend this Mass. “No girls allowed” and all that. But I didn’t want to leave. So I participated from the other side of the tabernacle.

It was kind of hard to hear, since the speakers weren’t set up for my location and there were odd echoes and things. But what I did hear felt like the Mass was just for me. The first reading was from Sirach 2:1-11, which is going to be one of my readings at my funeral services. It’s about knowing that there’s going to be a trial, and to persevere. The rest of Mass was kind of like this. I absorbed more of the spirit of it, rather than the verbatim of the readings and homily. There will be trials and temptations. Keep fighting. God is faithful. Things I really needed to hear.

This Mass was such a blessing. I felt much better. Not just emotionally, either.

I left for home after Mass. On the way out, I passed by the sacristy. Both of my priests were in there de-vesting. My friend was the one who had presided at Mass tonight. When he saw me, he said, “I just said Mass for you. Hang in there, kiddo.”

By the time I got home, everything was different. My worries were gone. Not only that, but it was like I had a reinvigoration of my prayer life and relationship with God, also. I could say that it’s my innate resiliency, or the fact that I finally realized that I was worrying over nothing. But I know what it really is.

Grace.

Thanks be to God.

Clouds
by Zach Sobiech

Well I fell down, down, down
Into this dark and lonely hole
There was no one there to care about me anymore
And I needed a way to climb and grab a hold of the edge
You were sitting there holding a rope

And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now

When I get back on land
Well I’ll never get my chance
Be ready to live and it’ll be ripped right out of my hands
Maybe someday we’ll take a little ride
We’ll go up, up, up and everything will be just fine

And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear

It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now
If only I had a little bit more time
If only I had a little bit more time with you

We could go up, up, up
And take that little ride
And sit there holding hands
And everything would be just right
And maybe someday I’ll see you again
We’ll float up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end

And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now

Of Runningness

20130511_122606

I officially completed Week 2 of the Couch to 5K program on Monday. It was a rough run, let me tell you!

Have you ever had a Charley horse? You know, where your muscle cramps up A LOT? Well, I started this run with muscle cramping in both legs, going from thigh to ankle, but most painful in my calves.

OW! Doesn’t even begin to cover this.

But I ran anyway, hoping that somehow the running would ease the cramp.

Yeah, not so much.

Coincidentally (or not???) I had (finally) read the directions on my albuterol inhaler, which stated that you should take it 15-30 minutes prior to exercise, as opposed to taking it after, when I am all wheezy and stuff. So I had taken this before running. Could it have caused the cramping? I suppose I can test this theory out. It’s not like I won’t be running again. It did, however, help with the breathing thing. In fact, if I were not in excruciating pain, I think the run would have been great! 🙂

My time was the worst time I’ve made for this week, but only by a few seconds. I kind of like that my running app keeps track of my total distance run during the program. So far, in the two weeks, I’ve run 11.01 miles! 🙂

And… because this post needs more pictures… I’ll leave you with a few pictures that I took of the park in which I typically run:

The Running Path

20130511_124100

Just Starting to Flower

Weekend Household Project

This weekend, I am going somewhere I have not gone before…

Behind the Dryer

Behind the dryer.

As you can tell from the picture, I don’t go back there. I actually had to take this picture to see what the vent looked like, as I am too short (even standing on a chair) to peek back there. Not as many cobwebs as I had anticipated, actually. 🙂

I subscribe to a website that sends daily e-mails encouraging me to make a habit of cleaning my house. It’s a great system. And I usually read all of the e-mails. But I have a difficult time cleaning according to the plan.

Alas.

However, many of the e-mails recently have been telling people to make sure that they are regularly cleaning out their dryer vents, as they are a fire hazard.

I haven’t done this since I moved into my house in 2004. Well, I suppose you could say that it *was* done, as I have replaced the dryer and the guy doing the installation gave me a new exhaust thingy (I love technical terms) at that time.

My dad kindly offered his [exhaust thingy] cleaning kit to me, and I’ll attempt to tackle this project this weekend. And it *is* a project. I have a small laundry “room” and will have to uninstall my utility tub in order to pull the dryer out from its corner to get to the [exhaust thingy].

So, if there are any boys out there who would like to come over sometime this weekend and help me Move Heavy Objects, I’d kindly appreciate it! (And maybe feed you or something….)

Reflections on Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

Not all Mother’s Days are this bad. I lost my baby 8 years ago. It’s kind of amazing to think what my life might be like raising an 8-year-old. How very different.

Typically, I focus on the other mothers. My mom, certainly. And other people who have been as mothers in my life: Pat, Mom Duffy, Mom Riccardo, and others. I pray for them. Sometimes, I get them presents. This year, I got chocolate-covered strawberries for my mom (instead of picking out the most bizarre flower that I can find, per usual). And for Mom Riccardo, I picked up a small vase of flowers at a new florist. This place was so new, they didn’t even have a proper display in their showroom. It looked like a tiny workroom instead, except with a dinette set and a fat cat sitting in a chair. LOL! 🙂

I pray for my friends who have children and hope they have a great day. I look at all of the posts on Facebook. The presents and the flowers and all of the cute things that mothers and kids do together to celebrate each other. It’s lovely and joyful.

I pray for my baby.

Usually at Mass, they have all the women stand up and give us all a blessing. This Sunday, however, Fr. Moses had the Mass. He had the mothers stand.

I did not stand. I didn’t think this included me. My child is dead.

He said a few words, then Deacon Ron interjected that godmothers and “all women” should stand. Perhaps they had intended to be inclusive from the beginning, but after all the “real” mothers were already standing, there’s something prohibitive about standing now. Like, if I stand now I am a fraud, and announcing this fact publicly before the whole church.

All of it hit me like a knife to the heart. I had wanted that baby more than anything. We had tried for so long. And here I am now — years later — with no baby and no husband. My mom made a comment recently that she and my dad had guessed that they’d probably not be getting any grandchildren, as my brother is also unmarried. I can’t do anything about that. I would love to give them grandchildren, to marry and have a family. But it doesn’t look like that is what God has planned for me. Not knowing God’s plan, I *felt* like a failure at life.

That’s how I ended up crying in church.

I took this picture in the car on my way home. For some reason, I wanted to document my pain. It happens, all too frequently, but no one seems to talk about it. Even the labeling can be harsh. If you miscarry early enough in pregnancy, it’s called a miscarriage. If you miscarry late, like I did, you get the diagnosis ABORTION, COMPLETE stamped all over your medical record. Even better, is when your doctor tells you that early miscarriages are usually due to some defect in the baby; whereas ones like yours are more likely to be a problem with the mother.

Thanks for that.

I thought the empty car seat in the photo was an extra dash of dramatic irony. I didn’t plan it that way; it was just the angle of the camera. I have it in there because I’m anticipating the birth of my (future) godchild. It happens to be pink, although we don’t know (and Dad doesn’t want to) the sex of the baby.

It rained ICE after Mass, which matched my mood pretty well. I cried all through my trip to the grocery store, where I bought “comfort food,” recalling the priest from confession who had told me that God can be found in ice cream. He wouldn’t lie, would he? So, I made sure that God would be in my house. 🙂 I assume that He also comes in the form of chips and cookies, too.

Don’t fear for my nutritional health. It will take me WEEKS to eat this and I’ll pawn it off on others, too. Some of it is even healthy. 🙂

UNRELATED to the junk food, I didn’t feel well for much of the day. Super-nauseated. Which is usually either because of my myopathy, or a low blood sugar. I hadn’t felt like eating much after Mass, but I had something small (and not junk). So, I don’t really know why I felt bad, just that I did.

I blame it on the greasy burger from yesterday. 🙂 But that’s another story.

I went over my parents’ house for dinner. [Burgers. Haha! But these weren’t greasy and the green beans were DELICIOUS!] We had an enjoyable dinner and watched a couple programs about beach vacations, which helped, because it was FREEZING outside! 😦

Today is a new day, and I’m not sad in the same way. Not every day is sad. Not every Mother’s Day is sad. But it’s okay if you are, so long as you don’t despair.

God has a plan. And He loves us.

C25K: 3 am

Yep.  I’m only just now getting around to my Week 2 Day 2 run.

I wasn’t feeling well after my meeting last night, so I ended up taking a long nap when I got home.  I woke up at 2 am and tried to sleep for about half an hour, but this wasn’t happening.

A run in the cool air was just the thing.  Thanks be to light pollution, it was pretty bright out.   Even in the park with all the trees.  I only had on a long-sleeve T-shirt, but this was enough.

This run wasn’t too bad.  🙂  I did better than Tuesday, even!  Other days, I would come home to suck down a bunch of water and assume the Starfish position on my bed, but right now – about 45 minutes later – I’m not that worn out!  🙂

Although I should probably drink that water…