Category Archives: Faith
So, yeah. I’ve had over a week now to reflect. Unfortunately, I could not quiet myself down for long enough to get back into that personal quiet place. I made an attempt here, at Stormy Reflections, but the boy was off from school at the time and I just didn’t get myself far back enough, or quiet enough. Right now, I’m at Starbucks, enjoying a Christmas coffee, with jazz playing in the background; but this snooty Asian girl is staring at me and I have no idea why. Is it the fact that my boobs remain unfettered and out on their own? Could it be that she is oogling my new nail design, or maybe that I tried out a new clear polish on just one nail? Holy Crap… I really like the wet, shiny finish of “Looks Wet” Ultra High Gloss Topcoat I just got at the Christmas Tree Shop…. Merry Christmas to me~! Who knows about this girl, but I really want to get into the topic, so I’ll just jump right in at probably the far left, but it’ll get me started…..
Last Sunday, I served as lector at our church and it was one of those times that you just know the Holy Spirit is right there with you. My heart burned. I feel the need to post the readings as I could never explain them.
1 Kings 17: 10 – 16
|10||So he arose and went to Zar’ephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.”|
|11||And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”|
|12||And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a cruse; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”|
|13||And Eli’jah said to her, “Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son.|
|14||For thus says the LORD the God of Israel, `The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”|
|15||And she went and did as Eli’jah said; and she, and he, and her household ate for many days.|
|16||The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by Eli’jah.|
Hebrews 9: 24 – 28
|24||For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.|
|25||Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own;|
|26||for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.|
|27||And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment,|
|28||so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.|
Gospel: Mark 12: 38 – 44
|38||And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places|
|39||and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts,|
|40||who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”|
|41||And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.|
|42||And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny.|
|43||And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.|
|44||For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”|
It’s irregular of me to post scripture readings, but I found these resonated inside and I felt comfort and I felt shame at the same time. I was comforted because the scriptures were telling me that I could feel free to donate to hurricane victims, despite not having a whole hell of a lotta resources to support our family; and this is because the Lord will take care of us. The widows of the first reading and the Gospel gave all of themselves, to the point of true sacrifice, whereas the ones who donated from their surplus, were not truly feeling the loss, and so it was not really a sacrifice at all, and not heart-felt by them. I do have faith in that, but walking the tight rope is pretty scary and fear creeps right back in sometimes.
I feel shame because one of the days right after Hurricane Sandy blasted through, I was approached by a guy asking for money. I made a judgement that I know full well that I should not have made. This guy seemed to be lying to me and I refused to give him money. I never should have done that. I could have given him a dollar, even, but I didn’t. Whether he was lying or a drunk or a drug addict is between him and God and now, my refusal is also between ME and God. Living day to day has played havoc on me in a lot of ways and I’ve grown weaker when I should have been growing stronger all along. This is my shame. Also, I failed to set a good example to my kid. FAIL. Sigh, I just realized that. Holy Crud, I’ve been wracking my brain on how I could teach the little guy to be more giving and there it was right in front of me. At the time, though, I have to realize I was a little afraid to stop to talk to this guy with my son along with me. Elizabeth is not a very safe place, but I really should have trusted more in the Lord to take care of us. It’s gone… but maybe I can learn from this.
I have to look back at the hurricane, which was really nothing for us, and realize that whatever our inconvenience, was just that–an inconvenience. We did not lose anything but the food in our fridge. We had no heat, but we had hot water and gas to cook on top of the stove. Yes, I missed my internet. I felt so disconnected and isolated and it was a horrible feeling. My world literally stopped, paralyzed because we could not get any information about what was going on in our city and what was being done to fix the power problem. PSE&G continuously lied to us and I feel that if they were just truthful about the time frame, that I could have simply made plans to go stay with someone. The problem was that my dad in PA and my sister in Old Bridge, NJ. also did not have power, though my dad had a generator going. Then when the schools reopened, that was it for us and we had to stay here. Pathetic, right? I thought so when I was finally able to see pictures of our shoreline and how those people REALLY suffered and still are after losing their homes permanently, not just for ten days. Some of those people, at this writing, have still not been allowed back to their homes. I’m sure that whatever they have left is gone from mold now. All I can do is pray for them, for strength to be given to them to get through this. Gas lines? Sheesh, is nothing compared to what they are going through. I guess the only Americans who can really know what they are going through are the Katrina victims.
Okay, so I’ve still not managed to “get inside” myself to do proper reflection, but writing sure helps get thoughts out. DH and the boy were supposed to leave me alone today and I was planning on it, but those plans fell through. Sometimes things do not work out and we have to make the best of it. One thing I do know and that is that I am blessed. I have a family…. a family that I never thought I’d have and it has surpassed every hope and expectation. A loving husband and a very happy little seven year old. My spouse is my rock and my little boy shows me joy and happiness, and both accomplish this with a simplicity that boggles my mind.
Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote of the Wounded Healer. I am very much a “broken” spirit struggling every step through my life’s journey, which is why the quote below holds so much hope for me. I try to keep this in mind every day with the goal of serving the Lord in my brokenness. My comfort, my hope and my joy. I do believe wholeheartedly that God has a use for us. Imperfectly perfect. We will never be perfect, but I find comfort that I have the perfect place, as I am, in God’s Great Grand Plan for the world. So ironic that we all struggle, we all search for our purpose. Do we ever realize that we need not really search for anything. “It”, our purpose, will find us at the right time.
“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing
from God as my successes and my talents,
and I lay both of them at His feet.”
I am very much drawn to one of my favorite hymns this week, “The Cry of the Poor.” In this haunting melody you meet the burning need of the poor face to face.
Today I attended the 2012 Catechist Convocation at the Paramus Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey. Whew, that was a mouthful! Usually, I’m alone for most of the day during these things and my schedule today left me free from any workshops from after the opening ceremony, ending at 9:30am, to my scheduled lunch then my first workshop starting at 12:45pm. Basically, I was left to my own devices most of the morning. I spent some time browsing the “exhibits”, but I shall call them vendors. I pretty much spent almost all the money I had on a book about my favorite author entitled, “Genius Born of Anguish~ The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen” and a car bumper sticker that reads: Abortion stops a beating heart. Yeah, the book took up 98% of the money I brought. Normally, I would’ve gotten something for the current RCIA class but there is no class currently in the works. Thanks to Cyndi for teaching me the proper “etiquette” for these things. The first time I attended, she got me a booklet and cards for our then class. Well, after that purchase I headed outside and got halfway around the building, and found a nice gazebo to sit a spell and start this book. The weather was really nice and stayed there a while until the groundsmen came around with their leave blowers and drenched me full of diesel fuel or whatever they throw in those things…. yuk!
I also attended two workshops:
- Be An Evangelizing Catechist
- One Body in Christ: Sacrament Preparation & Participation in Liturgy for Individuals with Autism
That’s one bitch’in title and I had to write that whole thing when I took the survey with my opinions on the classes. The first one really focused on the CCD kids. Some really great ideas for teaching kids and inviting the parents to get involved. I really enjoyed that class for the ideas, but I spent the whole time getting up and down to get my handouts, which were one after the other the whole hour fifteen minutes. The up side is that I have the actual handouts to give to the school, and I’m going to make sure I do some of this stuff with Gabe at home. I think I’ll work on a separate post for that…. Heck, maybe while this Frankenstorm comes through.
The second workshop focused on providing an effective education for, as it says, Individuals with Autism. This is near and dear to my heart and I took this workshop with Gabe in mind, hoping I could bring some of this home. My second hope is to try and get the church to develop a program for the autistic student, both children and adults. Not sure how it will go over, but this is SO important and would go a long way with families who are not yet advocating for their autistic child for whatever reason. While I didn’t really hear anything new about autism in this class, I found it helpful, though I do wish the speaker was more prepared. She spent most of the time fiddling with her electronics and getting them to work. We did not go over all the material she had for the class and that was a downer. It was a major distraction, all the while I was thinking about the previous instructor telling us we should be well prepared with our lesson before the children walked into the class…. priceless!
Well, getting to the inspiration of my post. I’m sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch at 11:15am and I realize that I don’t have any money to buy more water. The lunch people were very specific as to what we could take: ONE sandwich, ONE packet mustard or ONE packet mayonnaise, ONE drink, ONE bag of two Oreo cookies and ONE half-bag of chips. I’ve been guzzling water lately like an elephant and all I had right there was a 16.9 oz. bottle of Snapple Spring Water which was to last me the entire rest of the day. Snort…. I’m sitting there knowing that will never happen. So I sat there, counting the minutes till I could get home for a nice frigid cold glass of water …. (glugg… glugg…) I’m thinking that the fountain water was not too bad of a tasting water. I sat there knitting (yes, I brought my knitting and knit through the whole opening ceremony and keynote speech, though I wasn’t actually there for the speech as I was stifling hot and couldn’t wait to get out of the auditorium. Let me just say that God most certainly works in His own way and in His own time. Whenever or however, He knows what you need and exactly when you need it. Just before I got myself ready to leave the cafeteria, my friend from our parish came out of nowhere and offered me her 16.9 oz. of cold water, unequivocally stating she was not going to drink it. I accepted her offer with such gratitude that even that completely overwhelmed me. It was all I could do not to tear up, there. She really had no clue of my dilemma, yet she handed it over just when I was going through my options. Even after I finished her bottle, I refilled it with water from the bathroom because that water was colder than the water in the drinking fountain. It had a distinctly chlorine taste but I told myself that it was sanitized… ugh. That bottle, though, kept my tongue from drying onto the roof of my mouth and my lips moist and separated during my two workshops. Oh well, not a life and death situation, but God certainly has looked out for me in many ways and many, many times.
Well I’ve had an interesting two days this week. I had made the excruciating decision to redeem a CD that my father had given me years ago. His intention was for me to keep it as a nest egg, hopefully for my retirement.
Let’s give a little background. When our son came into our lives, I had tried to stay at my then employer, who shall remain nameless. You know who you are. The Drake had taken FMLA and I had spoken to my employer to see if I could work part time. The lab location was open until late and they had seemed receptive to the idea and my supervisor was going to see what she could do. It was a very busy place, always bustling with work. I was a typist and there were always tons of reports to type up. Well, they kept me working for the three months that hubby was home, and the very last day before he went back to his own job, they told me it couldn’t be done. To be honest, I felt they took advantage of me… Water under the bridge now. I stayed home with Little Drake full time and I loved it. I never made any bones about the fact that I love to be home and not beholden to any employer, most of which do not value their employees beyond their own profitable interests. When I worked, I was an honest and steadfastly loyal employee who was industrious and cared a LOT about the quality of my work. Seriously, I could be left alone in the place and be relied upon to do my work and not drift off into personal stuff. I was trusted and I felt very comfortable being a company person, looking out for their interests when considering my own. I liked it that way….. Times have changed.
So, it was for three years. I had gotten a part time cashier job at a major food store, but hubby’s work schedule was totally erratic. His boss would make him work overtime without any notice and meantime, I was on a work schedule, too. His salary was way greater than mine, so his job was our priority. I really didn’t mind that, but the old loyalty card was rearing it’s head. I became uncomfortable calling out of my shift, AND I thought it was wrong, so eventually, I gave notice. When Little Drake started preschool, I looked for a job, mainly at the poking and prodding of hubby. It’s his belief that I need a job to be happy with myself. I love him dearly, but he has no clue. I did have more free time and I started looking, but it was half-heartedly. Ironically enough though, after two years of looking, with no prospects and a failing financial system, I recognize that I really need to get back to work. (queue parting of the clouds and angels singing ‘Hallelujah’) Circumstances dictate it. My beloved drake has been out of work for over a year and became a full time student in order to complete his degree and start teaching math to high schoolers. Ambitious, yes? We had been doing fine, but now resources are dwindling. The unemployment is not reliable either, with weeks when he’s told by the automatic machine clerk that he will not get a check, BUT will receive a credit. Oh yeah… um the rent is due every month, in cash, not credits… sigh. So, in order to keep his pension in tact, I decided to redeem this one and only nest egg that I have to do my part and help out the family. My intention is to pay off my credit card, not a real big problem but hubby cannot make these payments for me any longer. I will also rectify an ongoing situation of my cell phone being on hold… but still receiving bills. Yeah, I’m reALLY looking forward to that call. I digress. My intention was also that we will have a very nice cushion that will secure our rent should all else fail. I should mention that hubby has exhausted avenues available to him.
Did I mention that this was a really difficult decision for me to make? Yeah. Well, I made it with the condition that I would not tell my father what I did. Yeah. I’m a terrible liar, but I’m great at just not mentioning things like bank visits before visiting him at his house. The bank is close by his house in PA, so I thought it would be a good time for a visit, too, mostly because he was alone this week, too. Everything was working perfectly. We left early, got to the bank, redeemed CD. My bank was conveniently right up the street, went there and deposited money. Now on to my dad’s house. eeeek! Am I going the right way on 209? Should it be 209 North or 209 South??? Oh, cripes, had to call my dad for directions:
Me: “Hi Dad, if I take 209 to your house, which way do I have to go, north or south?”
Dad: “Where are you?”
Me: “Um… in Strausburg.”
(a little silence)
Dad: “If you’re in Strausburg, you need to go north.”
Me: “Thanks, Dad… see you in a little while.”……. click.
I thought I handled that pretty well. We get to my dad’s house and he didn’t ask anything. r-e-l-a-x. Okay, so we settle down and I go to take out my knitting project, the Clapotis in Madil Yarn’s Eden Print 100% bamboo, and it was nowhere to be found. p-a-n-i-c. Instantly, I knew I left it at the bank. I had only one bag with me….have to get back there…. sigh. So, I asked my dad if he wanted to come for a ride. I figure this would be a good time to tell him. We drove all the way there and I still had not opened the subject. I meant to. So, we get there, I get my project, and we head back to home, but make a stop at Food Town. Dad did some shopping, now heading back to the house, another 40 minute drive or so. He’s talking, I’m balking. Finally HE brings it up and asks if the reason I was at the bank was to redeem the CD. I said, “yeeeeeaaaaah”, with lingering resignation. He was understanding. Immediately launched into reciting my very planned out plans on how I was handling the money, ending with the promise that when I find a job, whatever was still in my bank account was going to be put into “something” and I was going to be responsible about it. I detailed everything that hubby had already done on his end to secure funds….and seriously, I feel as if I contributed nothing on my end… Well, that’s not true. I did cash in my gold and silver jewelry for money. I did not regret that, but I do miss one gold chain that I used for almost every pendant I had. Now I use my silver box chain for everything, gold, silver, whatever.
So, we get back home today to a message from the college that the Drake’s classes will be forfeited if he doesn’t pay in full by (today). Remember that unemployment check? Well, after not coming, then being promised, we waited and received it only a day or so ago and it still has not cleared. Guess what my first spenditure was. Yep, for school the Drake’s butt got saved. I am not even going to say how much it was, but my sense of security was immediately broken not even five minutes after our arrival back home. I definitely am one of those people who literally repel money. We went to the school and I gave them a large chunk of my nest egg. The Drake is definitely worth it, but it scared me. I’m very glad to say, however, that I’d do it again…. and it would still scare me.
There’s more to the story as evidenced by the “God’s Eye” and the title of this post. God is constantly working in and through our lives. There, behind my own eye, is the constant, pesky at times, thought that God will provide and make everything alright. Maybe not as “alright” as I would personally have it, but I just know that we will get through this and that we are not alone in this. We will emerge with scars etched into our skins and forever into our souls. We will use this experience. We will make it a positive. We will gain more compassion when dealing with our fellow human beings, and yes, even when dealing with credit card company employees trying to do their job by calling past due accounts at all hours of the day… (they DO have jobs, though, you know). I’ve got to say that when I finally spoke with them (yes, I was screening my calls for about a month), I had a good experience. The Indian gentleman I spoke to was compassionate and I do very much appreciate that. Of course he wanted a commitment and a check no. and when I’d be able to make a payment, but understood (well, he really had to) when I laughed and reminded him that I had no money.
More importantly, I will remember. I will remember this experience when confronted with the anger, resentment and frustration of people who can’t seem to get a break. I have a neighbor who, it seems, walks around with a lot of anger and prejudice. I don’t like interacting with that woman and avoid it at all costs. Well honestly, I viewed myself (albeit briefly) as someone who had worked for her whole life, was a good girl, paid her taxes, and now in need of assistance. Friends, believe me when I say, I am looking for all sorts of assistance. It’s survival for us. At times, I too, wake up feeling angry, resentment and frustration. What makes the difference for me is that my feelings of insecurity, my anger, my frustration all subside when I am reminded that God is looking out for us; and believe me, he takes the opportunity to let me know. He is here and available for me, no matter what time of day. We are blessed.
Lord, I pray that those who are jobless take heart, and find the courage to persevere during these hard economic times, by strengthening their relationshiop with God through prayer and service to others. Amen.
I must stop! Stop a busy, frantic, cluttered life to write. Remember me? I am a writer, though I am not a good hunter or gatherer of my own thoughts. I’ve had so many these past few weeks, and I’ve not laid a single one of them down. What was I thinking? I am painfully aware that my memory is lacking. So enough procrastinating. The topic of this post will be my interaction, or maybe more aptly, my collision with people who have chosen a child-free lifestyle. I will try to summarize what happened.
I belong to several forums. While at one of them, I went into a “childfree by choice” group because I was curious about them after hearing other chit chat about them. I hung out there for a couple of days, then got involved with helping out the mod with her banner. While around the group, I made some comments and got in trouble by asking a question, getting straight to the point.. well more of a-thought-came-to-my-head-and-I-posted-it. Never thought I’d get the reaction I did. I don’t want describe it in such a way as to intentionally leave myself in a good light, so I’ll just say it. Oh, this is not for you to judge, just some of DragonMommie’s rumbling and grumbling. I am quoting myself, but not the responses I got because I don’t think it’s appropriate to do so without their consent, so here goes. This was my post:
“I’ll just say first that I do have a child. As a mother, I’d like to say that I’d rather see you ladies choose not to have kids than a women who would get pregnant then have an abortion.
“Oh, maybe I spoke too soon… is abortion part of what your choice is? Understand I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but wondering if I misspoke to begin with.”
As you can see, I indeed, put my foot in it. One person really went off on me for “assuming” that abortion was a “primary” mode of birth control. In general, the reaction was negative and everyone thought that my post was assuming. One mod said that their reaction was severe because they are constantly being pushed into the position of defending themselves, and I can understand that; but this generated roughly 36 posts, with one wondering what I was doing there, because they were not looking for a parent’s perspective, yet they state that everyone is welcome in the group.
This is my second post, after an irate response or two:
“I didn’t mean to offend anyone… and that was an honest question. Understand that I’m an outsider here and making an assumption is part of trying to learn more about the women in this group. It’s an assumption I made because, well, a LOT of women are having them, whether they make that decision (to have an abortion) because they want to remain child-free as their chosen lifestyle like you women have, or just got “caught”.
“As you can see by my original post, I am guessing at what exactly a woman who has made your choice of not having children does to stay child free. I can also assume that you (or anyone) will practice abstinence, or use condoms, the pill or whatever. Again, I know that I’m an outsider here, but since I was here, I wanted to LEARN more about you as a group so that I don’t have to make assumptions.
“Again, sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone. Also, I am sorry if I am not explaining myself clearly.”
It was after this post, I was basically told to lurk and learn. Ask questions, listen to answers, and that I was making up the answers first, before asking questions. I wrote this last post before I left:
“Some of you are pretty touchy for me. I just came in here to see if what other threads were saying were true. I realize that, as a group, you’ve been judged harshly and that has definitely left scars. If you had really taken the time to read my post, to see what the idea was behind it, you would have seen that, even in my ignorance, I meant no malice.
“I’ll give you a present and never come into this group again. Hope you don’t treat all your guests this way.”
Needless to say, they took exception to this post. They made some assumptions as well. Like they assumed that my post was acusing them of using abortion as a primary means of birth control. I was accused of flaming everyone, then they all flamed me. I did correspond with a mod, privately, and we had some decent conversations and she helped me understand “childfree” as opposed to being “childless“. Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement, and agreed to disagree. The thing that struck me was that all the other people in the group were congratulated on being “respectful” after they fell all over my post, yet they seemed to be as like a pack of wolves. I quickly dropped out of there and was accused of not taking responsibility for my comments, though I did post that my question was an honest one and not meant to be disrespectful. It seemed as if there was a cement wall erected and nothing I was going to say was going to have any effect, so I removed my presence. Someone said that it would have been better to stalk the group and read the hundreds of posts already in there to “get the feel” of the group before I plunged in with the reference to abortion. Now, I don’t have time to read hundreds of posts. I do not have the luxury of t-i-m-e, period. I guess that is something they will never understand. One minute stolen here and there could never compare to the luxury of having the whole night, every night, to yourself. It is a group and the people are there to talk. I mean, they had no qualms about airing their own views about parents and kids, in general…
not all hardly positive. I guess that’s their perogative, but when you are officially welcoming guests to comment, be prepared for some of it not to be all polished and to your liking.
I do agree that maybe I got in too deep before I got the chance to know the people, but I wasn’t going to be there for long as it really is not my interest…. but.
Here is the but. I thought that I shared that perspective, to a point, because I spent 43 years without children. Yes, I know that I was childless” and not childfree, courtesy of the mod there… but I DO know what it’s like to have friends and family with children and feeling like the outsider because I did not have kids. That is the whole premise of this group. I’ve also substituted pets for children. I know what it’s like to have a mother tell me those infamous words, “You will never understand until you become a mother”. Yes, I’ve been the brunt of that one, too. See, though… and this is the thing that I could never say there, hence the motivation to write this post. That statement is true. So many realizations have been zooming in to hit me on the head ever since my Little Drake was born. And it’s NOT about that famous inborn instinct that mothers are supposed to have (and we do). Well, what that “instinct” is born of, is the stresses we experience just trying to keep our babies alive. This instinct. How else can you possibly explain why a mother knows her own child’s cry? It’s a biological connection, and not something we made up. Here is something to think about. I remember when I was childless that when I was in the company of my niece and nephew, I looked at them as being separate from me… I did not have the responsibility for keeping them safe. Oh, I would have protected them if I had to, but it was not MY responsibility. I did not have that radar that scans the big picture, the stairs, the flame on the stove, the exposed electrical outlets, the cords and wires, the too hot, the too cold… you get it? Now, wherever I am with my son, I have that radar constantly scanning our environment for obstacles…. anything dangerous. When I am walking with him, my hand is always there, protecting his head against the walls, the corners of the counter. My hands are always there, at the ever ready to catch him when he falls… and that happens a lot. This, I did not have when I was without children. I have to laugh now, because I was seriously offended back then; but now I know it to be true.
Another thing I did not have when childless was the turmoil inside about what kind of a parent I am. I am constantly analyzing my interaction with my son because I want to be a good parent. People without children don’t understand this is going on. How could they? Could they understand that? Would they trivialize it? Would they call me crazy or being just plaiin, “too much”? And, DAMN YES, I’m jealous of all the free time you have. Of the self-centered lifestyle…. meaning, the live-for-myself-lifestyle. I had it. I loved it. Now I miss it, in a selfish kind of way. I want it back! But, I too, have made my choice. In the back of my head, I know that this is what I want, and that the selfish side of me wants my own life back. So what do I do? I steal moments for myself throughout the day. It feels selfish… it IS selfish…. but it’s my way to survive. After re-reading some posts, someone had said that they’d hoped that their friends with children would give them the benefit of the doubt if they had spoken ignorantly from their own perspective. Well, I wish they had done the same for me.
There, I’ve said it. I do agree that childfree people should not have to endure the jerk-ish attitudes they do. I agree that they are not “different”, they just don’t want kids and society should not make them feel like they have to have them, or are not normal because of it. They are not to be pitied, either. They are happy with their lives. But you know, everyone at some point in their lives, encounters some form of prejudice. Whether it be their childfree status, race, creed, gender, marital status, body size,… the list goes on and on and on. It’s taken my whole life to deal with being the outsider of many circles. What it comes down to, is “are you happy with yourself?” If you are, then it shouldn’t matter what anyone has to say. I know from personal experience that if I am sensitive to something, that it bothers me, it upsets me. When I can get to the point of not being so phased, then I know that I am okay.
Now, the question of utilizing abortion, despite my time away, is still a sore spot with me, as evidenced by my last posts about it, here, and here. While I admire these people for choosing a lifestyle, I do not agree that if they become pregnant, that they should have an abortion, especially if they are married. What a shame. I think that adoption would be a good solution. If they make the choice to be childfree, they should also consider abstaining from sex because the production of children is the reason for having sex; or I should say, being open to having children should be the prerequisite before having sex. It was obvious during my time in the group that before my foot-in-mouth post, abortion was not discussed. I am wondering why that is, especially since the group is meant to be supportive to the members. You can disagree and that is okay; but it’s my blog and I’ll freely exert my views here.
Whew! Of course, all comments are welcome… but BE RESPECTFUL… and no curse words. Comments containing curse words will be deleted.
This post is inspired by another article written by tobeme, “Pain and Suffering”, over at The Naked Soul.Again, I had to post my own article because I write way too much for other people’s comment section and I also get so personal that I want to document my thoughts on my own blog.Plus, I wrote about my religious beliefs and do not want to totally get off the subject of his post.I write in tangents, you see!
To make this [hopefully] simple, most of my life has been spent in pain, whether it be physical or emotional. I learned how to disassociate from it, music and my art being major tools I used for the emotional stuff.As I sit and look back through the years and arrive at specific experiences, the one common thread I see between my experiences of physical and emotional pain is that I did not try to block the pain out.It actually hurts more when you try to deny it.Rather, I’d ride through it, if you can imagine that.
I believe that going through the pain is the only way to survive it.Feeling the pain, exploring the pain as I ride through; then come out on the other side, stand up, look around and see that the pain is gone and I am still here and alive.Acknowledging pain, experiencing it and feeling it [very important], I believe, is the only way one can truly tuck it away, then bring it out again when we see someone else going through the same pain.Otherwise, when we say, “Oh yeah, I know what you are going through, I’ve been there,” it will be meaning less to the suffering person because they don’t feel empathy being projected toward them.The attempt will lack depth and authenticity.
When a person shares their own experiences, in depth, when trying to help, the sufferer will be able to feel the pain and identify with it.They know it’s not a snow job.Isn’t that what you are trying to do in the first place?To tell them that you’ve been there, weathered the storm, survived and that you are okay now.Revealing our own pain, I think, is a compassionate act.We lift the sufferer out of their own, more current, pain and enable them to forget it for awhile and focus on ours.They come away with a feeling that someone else TRULY knows what they are going through.
This is a concept that is shared by every self help organization out there.AA, all 12 step programs, and others that are not based on the 12 steps.I belonged to one such group for separated and divorced people, and it’s true;I did not really want to hear from my married friends or family.I felt more at home with people who experienced the same trauma in their own lives.I got the sense from them that they really knew what I was going through, and they did.I knew that I could call them at any time of any day and I would have a ear that would not get sore listening to me cry.Not so with my own family.After a while, people who do not share your specific pain, are not so happy listening to your woes… and it shows.
Sharing our pain to help our brothers and sisters.I believe this is what it’s all about.I believe THIS is the reason we experience pain to begin with.THIS is the answer when someone shakes his fist at the heavens and screams, “Why?” This is how we transform our very personal pain into a blessing for us and others.Instead of feeling negative emotions, hatred, resentment, disparity, we can perceive it as a way into the light.This is how I stay out of the deep, dark horrific hole I was in during my tweens, teens and early twenties.It was a major chunk of my life and I rather see those years as not wasted; but as a preparation period for my present self.A foundation laid out by my Lord to teach me lessons I needed to learn.I embrace my painful experiences because, through them, I am rich.Rich with knowledge and experiences; all of which I intend to share with my son, leaving him [hopefully] a good foundation to build his own life upon.
So, I do not worry too much about experiencing pain.I believe Christ suffered death on the cross to save man.I believe that in writing this post, in my own feeble mind, I am just beginning to understand that mystery.I think I begin to understand what is behind that mystery, though, his suffering and death means so much more to humanity than my own, and being trivial in comparison to his.
Yes, Absolutely!We have the power to choose not to suffer. Allowing oneself to suffer is, indeed, a choice; whether we do it to get attention and sympathy, or not.Christ did not have to suffer, but he chose to and that is the difference.
“Remember man that you are dust and into dust you shall return.”
That is what the priest says when he puts the ashes, the outward symbol of repentance and the wearer’s desire to change, on your forehead. For those of you who may not know, today is Ash Wednesday, first day of the Lenten Season. A renewal of spirit. The day you commit to change and embark on a journey during which you strive to become a better Catholic. Today at the mass, I remember very little of what was actually said, though I got the message. To satisfy our Lenten commitment, we must, #1 pray more, #2 sacrifice, #3 oh geez, I forgot! I just wasted over an hour trying to remember, so I will go on.
This time of year has always been a difficult one for me because 1. I don’t believe that one should need to be poked and prodded into change. Change is something that I believe can be proactive, but the person must have the desire to change and this doesn’t really happen overnight, or require an appointment. 2. I never really could see how giving up “sweets, smoking, chocolate, etc.” could make me a better catholic. In a lot of ways, I am a black and white sort of person. I need clear directions to follow when attempting something I am unfamiliar with. You guessed it, I am not that familiar with “religion”. Though, I am a practicing catholic now, I am really not sure if I am doing it “right”. I follow my heart and play it by ear. My religious experience in and out of mass is a very “feeling” one, very heart-centered. I do not “pray” in words. I pray with feeling. It comes from the concept that God knows your needs before you do and I believe that. I just open myself, my heart up to God, or the Universal Energy, or Spirit, or Higher Power… by whatever name. I open up, and I can feel the Spirit flow through me. I cannot use flowery words when the words are not what matters. What is in your heart is what matters.
The sacrifice part of this all is not about giving up something that doesn’t mean too much to you, like “meat”, or “sweets”. You can get through that, knowing that soon, you will be able to have it again. The whole point of sacrifice is to “feel” the loss. The examples given today were something like this: It’s harder to give up gossiping to our friends, or complaining about everything than to give up a piece of chocolate.
Oh, the Drake just came in and remembered the third thing: #3 Charity. This mixes well with #1, sacrifice. Part of what was said about this was that we can take the money we save from unbought cigarettes, or whatever surplus comes our way from “sacrifice”, and give it to the poor, or to the church, or use it for some good. I immediately thought of the trip to the company store that we had planned for today… but then thought how can I turn company credits for cosmetics and hair products into something the poor can use? Hmmm, maybe purchasing shampoo and conditioner and giving it to the organization I’ve been donating baby clothes to. That sounds good.
All in all, I shall be striving to strengthen my connection with God, as I know Him. Oh, and another thing that I take on every year is my tremendous ego, a formidable opponent.
This year will me MINE!
Let me preface by advising that all quotations in this post are in italics, unless otherwise stated, and taken from an article in the Liguorian, a Catholic magazine we subscribe to, entitled “Discovering the Blessings of Kindness”, written by Patricia H. Livingston. I feel that I must say that if I attempted to write on this subject after reading this article, I would have used much the same wording as she, so I thought it better to just quote her. My own thoughts will be in plain old regular text. I apologize ahead of time if this becomes confused, but I will do my best to keep my words separate from her words.
“The Jewish concept of blessing, the b’rahah, is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, blessing God for giving us any of countless gifts or moments in our lives.”~ “Discovering the Blessings of Kindness”
I felt moved to take numerous quotes from this article because they express what I wish that I could. My opinions and feelings are reflected through them. Sure we can be charitable by donating a gift to the poor, whether it be money or clothing or food. Most of us will do so in anonymity, and there is a good in that because it does not draw attention to our acts of kindness, our egos are not encouraged to get a big head. The reason a lot of us move in this way, however, is specifically so that they do not have to come into contact with a person in need, for whatever reason. It seems to be a giving, when, where and how, of convenience and not necessarily where the true need is. I will not attempt to analyze this now because it will draw me away from what I intend to write about, which is the blessing that comes when we DO interact with people.
In my own opinion, I’ve always felt that the act was incomplete unless I could see the person on the receiving end; to see their face light up, receive acknowledgement. In addition, I’ve always felt that this was very self-centered of me to think and very ego-based. I always felt that I needed to actively work against satisfying myself of this need. Then I read this article and gained new insight. A bit of background on this is that this speaker is the sister of the author and was diagnosed with serious illness.
“I get a break from my preoccupation with the endless road of suffering ahead when I am doing something loving for someone else, someone who needs my help. It has to be in person. And they have to want it; they need to respond somehow so that I can see it matters to them…… Unappreciated efforts to little for my angst! Something has to pass between us, be given and received. Their receiving is as important as the gift…. I guess what I am saying is that what helps me is knowing that I can still be a blessing to someone else.”
I found this profound and identified with it right way. I suddenly felt that maybe it was not selfish of me to desire to see the results of my actions. Just maybe it was not my own ego desiring praise that was motivating my actions. I have since trained myself to think to what my thoughts were, what my motivation was before I did some good deed. I dwell on that because at some point, I will look back with pride and I feel that this pride is damning thing and contaminates whatever good was done. Now, I feel that the greater thing is the blessing created from the personal interaction with another. Read on:
“The capacity to bless life is in everybody. The power of our blessing is not diminished by illness or age. On the contrary, our blessings become even more powerful as we grow older. They have survived the buffeting of our experience….A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another….. I think this mutuality of blessing, of helping one another to live, is enormously important…. The receiving is as important as the giving. We strengthen one another in the exchange.”
This seems right. A blessing is not to be just one sided; both parties, the giver and the receiver, contribute to it’s manifestation. I have had experiences that confirm this dynamic of blessing since I first began to understand it. I have a friend from church who is poor and she wanted to learn how to knit and crochet. She is slow to pick up the techniques, but she is optimistic and persistent. To be truthful, when I first learned how to knit, I gave up on it because of my impatience with myself; but she is wonderful. I told her that I have plenty of extra yarn, needles and hooks she could use, or even keep if she wants; but I thought it would be better that she used my tools until she knew which sizes she best liked to work with before she went out and bought them.
Anyway, she learned how to make chains first with the crochet hook; but she stuck with that and doesn’t seem interested in learning the actual crochet stitches to make things. She is content to make seriously long chains. That first day, I sent her home to practice. The next time she came over, she had long chain necklaces for my son to play with. I didn’t tell her that it might be dangerous for him to play with them; and accepted them with awe because I never expected her zeal for giving back in her own way. The next time, she brought beautiful little mats that I could put on my couch. They were made with chains and sewn together in a spiral. I consider her to be very creative because on her own she combined multiple strands of yarn and had the idea to sew them together for mats, or if bigger, rugs. It gave me much joy to witness this happening between us… and to RECEIVE gifts of two mats from her learning hands.
“It might seem like such a little thing, but I believe that it was a blessing being exchanged. Her receiving is as significant to me as the giving was to her“; and visa versa. I realized, as the author of this article did, what a very important point this is.
“We can be ashamed of our need to receive. Yet the receiving is just as important. The blessing happens. We need the kindness.” I can relate to this, too, because I was the one ashamed of being financially needy after my divorce.
“This is sacred truth: We bless one another when we meet in kindness. In those moments we are one with the primal energy of God’s outpouring of life and love…. This realization has helped me understand our part in God’s blessing… God is constantly offering abundant blessing, but our receiving, our appreciation, and our gratitude in response are a necessary part of what makes the blessing fully happen.
“Each time we notice, each time we pause and say thank you, each time we savor a gift and remember it, we deepen the sacred moment, we increase the kindness in the world… When we meet in blessing ‘the light of the world is strengthened, around us and in us’.”
And I am never broken
We are never broken
We are God’s eyes
~ “Hands”, Jewel ~ Only Kindness Matters
……Thought I’d better write something, so just got Little Drake off to nap and I’ll write a little about last Sunday, when I was the cantor(ess?) for the mass. Serving the Lord through music, ah, for lack of better words, and time to think of them; serving Him through music brings me much joy. I have always felt it right, for me, that prayer and praise should be more of a “feeling” experience than a “wordy” one, though I am aware that the spoken word has power. For me, praising the Lord, even praying to Him, doesn’t come easily to me with words. I stand before Him and I am revealed. He knows already what I need, what my soul needs; all I need to do is trust. Through music my heart flows to Him, bringing everything of me, seen and unseen, my heart’s desire and all the waves of emotion inside me that can fill all the oceans of the earth.
I believe that God knows our thoughts, our desires, even before we do. Words of prayer do not resonate with me, but something flows through me when I am singing or just listening to music, especially the chants. It lifts my spirit, it does; and I believe that it’s a form or communication. The heart is revealed in music, whether happy, sad, angry, triumphant, in love or yearning for love. Everything is revealed in music. Lyrics are good, and I do require the lyrics to be of quality, along with the music before I will say that I like it. A song must stir me heart, mind, body and soul. When I sing or listen to music, I feel as if my body and spirit are lifted up, sliding along the threads of the song… the music carries me. All the better if there are no lyrics. I love Celtic music, pipes, rain sticks, chants, drums… Mickey Hart’s “Planet Drums”… oh man!
Last week was my once-a-year chance to sing the psalm. Very exciting and I got so very nervous though I have sung before in front of the very same people. Solo parts… this is when people get to see whether I actually have a voice that can stand by itself…. ugh… Though I know that this is a service to my God that I perform with love, you cannot be a public singer without your ego getting in there somewhere, at some point. Anyway, I practiced and practiced with the music director… who told me that the introduction will be the whole response part, and then I start. Another thing is that I had to remember where to take deeper breaths than normal to reach the high notes. Well, sadly to say, the pianist flubbed the introduction and that made me even more nervous… and well, that set the tone of the whole thing for me. I relaxed myself and continued… then I forgot to take the deep breaths and, though I made the notes, they cracked. Oh well, I acknowledge that I am not a trained vocalist AND, most importantly, my service was to the Lord. I believe that however it was delivered, the Lord accepts it with the love that it is intended. Plus, the music director makes us sing higher than our natural voices to get that church-feel!
If anyone is interested, our psalm was “Save Us O Lord” and that link is to the lyrics on a prior post of mine. I have not tried out the sonic song site yet… if anyone has, please let me know how they like it and how to get started… Thanks!
Well, I am finished with my session condensing… I guess that is what I would call that. If I can’t write my own piece right now, I’d like to quote a section on death and life after death. I think it could spark some conversation. I have never, in my life, understood life, death, what happens after death, purgatory, prayer for the dead… so many things. It’s as if a little window has opened for me and I must seek out fuller understanding than I have now.
In the past, I’ve some to view “the other side” much as a child must view “the other side” during the process of it ‘s being born from the womb. I think that is the perfect analogy, comparing the two. I like that perspective. The babe is frightened of the unknown, not knowing what is in store for it. The new world is cold and harsh, from what it has known in the warm, nurturing mother’s womb. We take our place, awaiting the unknown of death. Why do we fear it? I am thinking it is because this is the only life we remember and we are afraid of the unknown that awaits us. Sadly, we do not remember any of our other lives, or existences outside of this one. I do not know what I believe right now, but the idea of purgatory appeals to me as if for the first time hearing of it; but in truth, I’ve known about it my whole life. Even though we would not be in heaven, there is still hope that we will one day get there… and what is pain, other than the separation we feel from God?
The bold sections below are taken from the Catholic Catechism and the bold references are of sections of the Catholic Catechism. Technically, I did “type” it out:
“We believe that we are united to Christ, will rise with Christ on the last day, and “will appear with him in glory in his heavenly kingdom” (Colossians 3:4) (1003). This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity—this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed—is called “heaven”. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness (1024). By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has “opened” heaven to us. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ (1026).
“But to rise with Christ, we must die with Christ (1005). Why are we often afraid of our own death? Death is not easy, because in many ways it is unknown. We try to flee from it and go to any extent to prevent it from happening until it touches our lives through the death of a loved one or through an illness or accident. Jesus promises that those who enter into death with him will enter new life. Death is a natural process, and we are encouraged to prepare ourselves for the time of our own death (1014). How important it is for us to embrace death with faith and hope! St. John of the Cross said so knowingly: “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love” (1022). It is a marvelous reflection to think that at the time of our death we will be asked: “How well did you love?” Since God is love, heaven is living in that complete love. To be devoid of love is to be excluded from God. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell” (1033).
“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs (1035).
“In the beautiful mystery of the communion of saints, those still being purified from their sins in purgatory are linked together in a bond of love with the faithful on earth and those who have already reached heaven. In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others…(1475). By God’s grace, our prayers and words of charity can still affect the souls of persons who have gone before us, just as the loving care of those in heaven continues to be a blessing to us who still struggle in this world.
“Each of us has within us an innate desire for God, a desire to go home. When a child is born into this world, the child experiences the vastness and “coldness” of a world so different from the mother’s womb. So, too, when it is our time to die and enter into a new world, we may experience a resistance to newness, yet there is the wonder of so much more than we could ask for or imagine. It may be only after we have entered into eternal life that we will fully realize that we were only pilgrims on this earth.
“While it may be difficult for us to even imagine, we are promised that at the end of time, God’s reign will come in its fullness (1042). In the Book of Revelation (chapter 21), we are promised that in this new universe, God will dwell fully among us. The direct experience of God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and death shall be no more (1044). For us as human beings there will be the final realization of the unity of the human race that the Lord created (1043). For our universe, there will be a full transformation and fulfillment. We will no longer see ourselves as separate, but at one with God’s universe. We will dwell in harmony in this new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which our happiness will fill and surpass all the desire of peace arising out of our hearts (1048).“
“When a couple seeks to be married in the Catholic Church, they are availing themselves of a precious gift. The community of the Church recognizes that they are responding in faith to an invitation and a call from God. As Christians, the gift of this love of God is a sacrament.
“The Catholic Church believes that the marriage of Christians is a sacrament and is based on the very serious relationship of covenant. The decision to make a life-long commitment requires sufficient reflection, discussion and responsible preparation. Therefore, the celebration of this sacrament is preceded by a period of preparation. You are entering a period of discernment to marry. The Church and the priests are also discerning along with you. This discernment period has a threefold nature: Personal and Relational, Communal, and Liturgical.
“Personal and Relational: As the bride and groom you are the ministers and celebrants of the Sacrament of Marriage. On the part of the Church and the State the priest is the legal and proper witness. Therefore, it is important to meet with the priest prior to your wedding in order for all parties to become familiar with each other. This relationship also reflects the Church’s concern for you as husband and wife and as important members of the Body of Christ.
“Communal: Marriage by its very nature is a public celebration. Though the term “my wedding” is natural to the common vocabulary, from the Church’s point of view the sacrament of marriage is much fuller. Marriage reflects a relationship that extends beyond the couple and includes Christ and his Church, both in heaven and earth.
“Liturgical: Liturgy gathers the Church at prayer and expresses who we are in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through ritual. The Sacrament of Marriage is part of the Church’s liturgy that celebrates an authentic human love that “is caught up into a divine love and is directed and enriched by the redemptive power of Christ” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 48). This sacrament also consecrates the couple to the duties and dignity of the married state that lead to a personal holiness and mutual sanctification. Therefore, the Rite of Marriage is a rich prayer which captures the beliefs and long standing customs of the Catholic Church.”
The above was taken from here. Yeah, most of this post is taken from another source, but that is because I want all my thoughts to be perfect and that is just not going to be. I wanted you guys to get as accurate a picture as I can give you on this sacrament from an official source. My brain is fried, refuses to work, whatever; so that I can’t seem to write my own thoughts down… but, of course I’ll try.
If you care to delve further, this is a link to the Vatican website, talking about marriage, as it is in God’s Plan.
In my own words…
For me, having God as the third person in this marriage has been a strict necessity for the success of it. Remember we can be more than ourselves and with God, anything is possible. God brings our faith into the home. That sounds funny. Maybe I should say that existing in a sacramental marriage has allowed us to experience God and our faith outside of church, every single day. With God as a partner, our marriage exists on a higher plane than if we were to just live together, or be married without God as a part of it.
This marriage is a covenant we have made with each other and with God, too. It is not just about “raising children Catholic”. Definitely not true for us because, although we have a child, I did not think that I could have them and so, definitely my projected child’s religion was nowhere in the picture. This was/is surely about how we feel about each other, but more than that. Sex is not high up there on the priority list…. Though, it DOES get plenty of press!
God brings the spiritual into our life together. We are definitely NOT soul mates, but my husband and I are on the same page spiritually. We can be as different as night and day on earthly concerns, but spiritually, we are “one flesh”. The sacrament of marriage allows us as a couple to join together, to get as close as we can to The Creator, gaining access to the power of creation. We can create life, through our love for each other and God. I totally believe that our little Gabriel was conceived not only through our love for each other, but also though our desire to pass on our spiritual legacy… in other words, we believe that we have something of value, spiritually, to pass on to our little boy; and it manifested our son.
A little bit of background information here: I was previously married for 8 years, never used birth control, never conceived, lots of sex. Why? Because God was not present in that marriage; and I believe He wanted better for me/us. At the beginning of my relationship with my husband, I prepared him well for the fact (I thought) that I was barren. He said, “We’ll see.” He accepted me and we took on an attitude of “if it happens, it happens”. God found us worthy and gave us a perfect baby. If you want to read Gabriel’s Story, you can find it here. I had intended it to be private, but messed up on how I should do the settings to keep it private, as you and everyone else can see, it’s public. By the time I realized it, it was really public, so I kept it there.
We definitely have our ups and downs; but we respect each other. We have to, we know each other’s secrets!… Ah…couldn’t resist. Seriously, we have a trust for each other that will carry us through, but we know that we have to work at it every day…. Especially holidays! For more on that, please see Post Thanksgiving. Just knowing that we will put forth the effort required to resolve our issues is enough in itself sometimes. It’s not always perfect because we have been known to definitely drive each other crazy. For that I recommend “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus”. Great read for a couple…. that is, of course, if you like to share reading projects. I found it very helpful after my first marriage to understand more about our behavior in the failed attempt… too late for that one, but very interesting.