Monday, November 28, 2011

My Heart is a Stable

When I think of Advent, I think of Vienna, Austria, in 1998.  My family and I traveled with our church choir for an Advent singing trip (BC - before I was Catholic).


Above you can see the family in Vienna (I have the dumb hat on) standing in front of a giant advent wreath!  The spirit of Christmas was alive and well in Vienna.  The windows of the city hall were each a door of an advent calendar, and were changed to reflect changes each day.  Lights, garland, carolers, musicians, and Christmas markets flooded the streets at Stephansplatz and beyond.  To me, it was sort of a fairytale memory.  Outdoor markets lit by Christmas lights, freezing cold but loving every moment, strolling musicians, drinking hot spiced wine out of mugs as we walked along, the hustle and bustle...all to the backdrop of St. Stephan's Cathedral.



As a non-Catholic who didn't know, at the time, she would be seeing Pope JPII two months from this day and be in RCIA in less from a year from this time, I appreciated the beauty and sacredness of this site immediately.  I was in awe.  The original church was built in 1147, and the idea that people have been worshipping in this spot for so many years touched my heart.  And, the music nerd in me totally geeked out since Mozart was married here and his funeral was here.  Nerd alert.

Austria did an amazing job of reminding everyone to prepare.

What does that mean, exactly?  There were visible signs, reminders, that God was coming.  When I think of Advent, I think of this preparation.  Signs were all around me, reminding me the purpose for the season.  I wish there were more signs around St. Louis like this, but there are more important ways to prepare as well.

Last week, I did a mini-bible study with my 6th grade PSR students (they are great!).  We looked up verses regarding advent and the coming of Christ.  What can you do to prepare?  Our class found that prayer, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the idea that it is better to give than to receive are key concepts.  I also found this site about Catholic Traditions interesting, and I learned a few new things!

As we prepare our hearts, O come Emmanuel and use my heart as your manger.

My Heart is a Stable {Song}

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get the Skinny


I don't know about most women, but I go through phases of not caring about looking my best or having the trendy clothes and actually wanting to dress up.  Right now, I'm coming out of a phase of not really caring and wanting to wear dresses and boots.

In the past 10 years, I've put on some weight, and I am sometimes self-conscious about how I look.  So, when I ordered a new pair of knee-high boots the other week, I also realized that my baggy flare and bootcut jeans were not going to cut it for optimal cuteness.  But skinny jeans?  Really?  Surely I won't look good in something labeled "skinny" that will cling to my body.

Well, I was wrong.

I bought two different pair of skinny jeans, one with a little more stretch than the other, and I love them both!  They are not skin tight showing all my goodies, but they are not baggy (and they will fit inside my boots and work with legwarmers!).  Yes, I also bought leg warmers.  No, it is not 1984. 

I think I got used to hiding behind clothes that mask my true figure when I don't fit inside the box that society thinks is beautiful.  I feel my curves are beautiful, and I'm glad I stepped outside the box and tried wearing something that I thought I couldn't pull off because I wasn't stick thin.  Yay.

So, I'm ready to step out in my skinny jeans, leg warmers and boots!  Who knows, I might even get a haircut and wear makeup.  {GASP!}

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Calm, Cool, & Collected


This weekend I was thrown into a conflict that I wasn't expecting, and it took all of my strength to stay level-headed and not scream.

You may know that I create one of a kind rosaries and religious jewelry.  You may also know I sell these items at local craft shows and on Etsy.

Well, I had my first customer complaint this week on Etsy.  It was bound to happen sooner or later.  I'm not afraid of negative feedback...things happen.  The situation was a bit weird to begin with, so it shouldn't have surprised me that it quickly escalated.   

First, my storefront clearly states my business hours are Saturday only.  Yes, inconvenient for some, but I have to limit it for my own sanity due to other responsibilities.  It is my business, after all.  So, after a conversation last Saturday via messaging with my customer, I was shocked to find she had sent me about 20 messages during the week, virtually screaming at me about not responding to her emails.  She often sent me hourly messages.  Not normal.

Then, the package I sent was returned to me saying the address was undeliverable.  Okay, weird, but maybe I wrote the address incorrectly.  Nope, it was correct.

At this point, I feel like something fishy is going on.  The customer is basically harassing me via Etsy messaging, actually it was more like cyber bullying, and accusing me of lying - saying I never mailed the package.  Okay.........

I get all these messages yesterday (Saturday, during business hours) and try to respond to her requests.  I had the merchandise returned, so I said I would gladly refund her money.  I did that within an hour of receiving her emails.  Problem solved, right?  Nope.

Up to this point, I've been annoyed and felt a little harassed, but I kept it professional, just stating the facts and being polite...with a lot of prayer.

THEN, the customer continues to send me emails (in all caps, which is one of my pet peeves!!!) stating she is going to report me to the better business bureau and attorney general's office in EVERY state in the country and report me for internet fraud.  What?

Her emails on Saturday were coming every 10 minutes or so with repetitive, threatening language.  She noticed that I left her negative feedback on the etsy site (duh), and threatened me again.  I stated the truth, that is all I could do.

I remained professional and stated the facts, even though there were definite times that I wanted to type "psycho" in the subject line of my next message to her.  I have stopped correspondence, as there is nothing else I can do for this person.  There is just something "not right" with this situation.

This situation really upset me.  No one likes being called a liar, but threatening me over the internet is not something I've really dealt with before, thank goodness!  So, how did I get through this?  First, I used my perceptive therapy super powers to recognize this was not a normal response to online business correspondence.  I couldn't even imagine myself acting the way this customer was acting.  Next, I knew that if I added anything snarky or negative to my conversations with her, it would just be fuel for her fire.  I told myself to suck it up and lift it up.  I took a deep breath, said many small prayers, and just ate it.  Sometimes, you have to just let things go to keep yourself safe and sane.  Also, I don't know what this person is capable of!  I would prefer it if unstable people were not upset with me.

I suppose I could use the chaplet she attempted to purchase to pray for her.  Sigh.  St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Minus the Meat


When I do my weekly meal planning, I try to have at least one meal each week without meat.  Why?  To be a little frugal.  But, I'm considering changing it to a "meatless Friday" situation instead of a random day each week.  You are probably asking yourself, again, "WHY?!!"  "Don't you like meat?"  Yes, I like meat, crazy.

But, did you know that the Catholic Church still recommends that the faithful abstain from meat on all Fridays throughout the year?  That's right.  Every Friday.

Most people stopped this practice after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's.  At that point, the Church no longer "required" the faithful to practice this, but it is still "recommended."  Semantics issue, anyone?  The church "recommends" that if you don't abstain from meat on Fridays, you should still do some other form of penance.  Yep.

Personally, eating a cheese pizza on a Friday doesn't always seem like a form of "penance."  But, if I'm craving a ginormous chunk of loafy meat, then I'm in sacrifice city.  For me, I think the purpose in resurrecting this practice is for me to think about Jesus and His sacrifice a little more throughout the week, even if it is just on days I meal plan and Fridays.

I challenge you to think of a penance to do on Fridays.  It can only bring about more good in your life!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Inconvenient Slice


Today, I was craving some pizza delivery.  It's been a stressful week to say the least, and I just wanted some bad-for-me-Hawaiian pizza pie.  So, I get online and order delivery from Domino's like usual.  Then, the cell phone rings.  Yep, it's Domino's.

Me:  Hello.
DP:  Hi, is this Mary?
Me: Yes.
DP:  I'm sorry, but delivery service is not available at the moment.  My driver didn't show up for work.  Can you come and do a carryout.
Me:  [audible sigh].  Yes.  How long?
DP:  25-30 minutes.
Click.

So, I put on some non-pajama clothes and drive up the street.  I get to the shop and there is a Domino's pizza guy standing awkwardly outside the store.  I go to open the door and it's locked.

DPG:  Yeah, my boss locked me out.  He went to do a delivery and locked me out because I was late.
Me:  Oh.

What?

Enter 3 long minutes of awkward waiting outside the shop with the DPG.  Boss returns, and both employees are just in a horrible mood.

Manager:  Sorry Ma'am, but I haven't made your food yet.  Do you mind waiting a little longer?  I'll give you your order for free.
Me:  Okay.

So, I'm sitting there quietly waiting and sitting watching these two young men in anger and frustration make my food.  I could have been irate because I had to drag my butt to Domino's or because I had to wait even longer for my pizza to be made.  YET, the first thing I feel like doing is praying.  I think it will help them and what the heck else am I doing but sitting there like an awkward fool.  So, I pray.  I ask St. Therese to pray for them as well and I start praying to convert their souls.  I continue to say things like I wanted their souls to experience peace and love and it was a true moment.

When I left, the poor guy who was late gave me my order.  I smiled and told him I hoped his day gets better.  I also said (like a crazy therapist) that he could make the choice this very moment to start the day over and make it count.  He smiled back (probably shaking his head at the crazy lady), and I hope it made a difference.

The best thing that happened to me today was inconvenience.  The best thing that happened to me today was that Domino's wasn't able to deliver my pizza.  The best thing that happened to me today was that I could pray for strangers, and I adored it.

Make the best of every situation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I've Got Rhythm


Guess what, peeps!  That's right, it's NFP Week, and I'm going to write about it.

Being a convert and a single woman somewhere in her 30's, I get a lot of questions about Catholicism and the single life from Catholic and non-Catholic friends alike.  Nothing gets me the loving title of "crazy Catholic" more than the discussion of birth control and natural family planning.

Look at the lovely anonymous woman in the picture above.  She looks pretty carefree and happy, doesn't she?  It's probably because she isn't using artificial birth control!

Does that seem a bit extreme?  Well, I think using birth control is extreme.  I giggle at the absurdity of women who take such care to buy organic produce and drink filtered water yet pump artificial chemicals and hormones into their bodies every day in the form of BC.  If you are one of those women, please take a step back and get some perspective.

Before I researched the subject of NFP, I thought it was merely "the rhythm method."  I never thought counting days would actually help someone conceive or postpone pregnancy.  But it's so much more than that!  And that's why I keep track of my cycle.

Yes, TMI alert, people.

One of the main things I don't understand is why we, women, treat fertility as a disease and something to inhibit.  Then, we all freak out when we have infertility problems and push more chemical and artificial means into our bodies in order to try to jump-start the baby making system that we have suppressed for so long while on birth control.  It really drives me crazy, and I'm always astonished when women are surprised that they are having problems conceiving when they have been on birth control for years that messed up their cycle.  Is it really a surprise?

First, I need to give mad props to one of my favorite blogs, Naturally Knocked Up.  Please check out the post on the basics of NFP from a non-religious viewpoint.  And no, I'm not trying to get "knocked up" at the moment, but I love knowing how my body works.  Seriously, read it.  It's great info.

Reasons I started using/now like using NFP as a single woman:
  1. I wanted to know exactly when I was going to have my period.  Let's be honest...being surprised every month isn't exactly the best present ever.  I had always guesstimated, but now I know for sure.
  2. I have a ginormous amount of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in my family history, and I wanted to be on top of things.  I think NFP can help me spot a change in patterns that could catch a problem early.  I'm not sure that being on BC would allow for natural symptoms to emerge and allow for quick detection.
  3. I want to be ready for -if or when- I am blessed with marriage.  There is so much to be learning when you marry your spouse...why put so much pressure on yourself to learn how your body works as well?  Get that done now.  And then you can just worry about teaching your lucky spouse!
  4. I can help my married friends and support them.  I know what my friends are talking about with cycles and fertility, and often I feel I'm more knowledgeable than they are.
  5. I understand my emotions more.  I know what days I'm susceptible to emotional swings, and I can prepare myself to cope with them better.  This helps with friendships, relationships, and at work.
  6. I can avoid temptation with the opposite sex better.  God made our bodies to crave sexual relations (dare I use the word horny?) when we are fertile.  If I'm on a date and feeling revved up, I can plan our time together accordingly (perhaps a public situation would be better than at home watching a movie on the couch in the candlelight...) and avoid the confessional.
  7. Overall, I feel in more control of my body.
Personally, I use the iPeriod app on my iPhone to chart daily things.  I chose this particular program because I knew I needed something easy and convenient.  And, they recently added new categories for tracking, which I adore.  Plus, it's password protected, so if anyone goes snooping on my phone, they can't see my lady info.

Do you use NFP? BC? Single? Married?  Curious?  Comment below!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poking


God has been poking my soul all summer about how to get involved in the church again.  You know what I'm talking about, right?

Me:  UGH.  What am I going to do with my spare time?
God:  Poke, Poke, Poke...

I have sort been in a holding pattern when it comes to ministry involvement for the past few years.  Part of this game of pause involves full time graduate school.  The other part revolves around getting burned when doing youth ministry...but that's a whole other story that isn't blog-worthy.

So, I've been praying.  A lot.  Wondering how I could possibly fit back into the scheme of things on a local church level.  This summer, I feel like God has moved from poking to shoving.  But, I just wasn't seeing where I was going to plug in.  I didn't feel like youth ministry was really my calling.  I also didn't really feel like I should join a choir, even though I'm an accomplished vocalist and musician.  I just wasn't feeling it.

Then, tonight I got a shove from a friend that I feel was my extra nudge and a half from God.  Yay.

MOTF called me to say that her priest emailed the entire parish desperate for volunteers to help with the children's liturgy and a 6th grade PSR teacher.  I immediately had a huge smile and was super excited about this opportunity!!!  It's at the local parish that I have thought about joining (I'm still a member of the parish in my old neighborhood), and I feel like these two situations are totally up my alley.  In fact, that's why MOTF called me.  She said that she read the email and immediately thought of me and that it was a perfect churchy thing for me.

Had I previously shared my intensive prayer for ministry with this friend?  Nope.

Does this friend usually call me to talk about super awesome Catholic stuff?  Nope.

Does this friend usually encourage me to take on more responsibility when I'm already crazy busy?  Nope.

Yet, she called me about this specific thing, and she encouraged me and hyped up each volunteer opportunity.  In fact, she thought I would be perfect for both situations.

I told MOTF I would ponder each of these things in my heart (just like my name sake, Mary), but I already "knew" that I would be emailing each contact person tonight to give my own yes (fiat).

My heart feels at peace, and I am happy.  They may have already found someone to teach PSR, but I'm almost positive they need people to proclaim the Gospel to the children.  I have my "in," and I'm excited.

God uses MOTF in extraordinary ways in my life, and I am so grateful for her friendship and God using her.  She's the one that brought me to God in the Eucharist in the first place, ya know (read my conversion story at the top of the blog).

I feel like dancing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Sing You Home"

Well, I broke down and bought the book, "Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult.


I was a little leery to purchase it because...


1.  It was fiction.  I typically don't read fiction anymore.  I like learning, so I typically go for work by Saints, Catholic scholars, biographies, and (honestly) theoretical astrophysics.  
2.  It dealt with homosexuality.  Don't get me wrong, I have many a homosexual friend (hello, I'm a musician).  But is that type of storyline going to draw me in?  Probably not.
3.  It dealt with controversial pro-life issues.  I had the feeling that the book was slanted against my viewpoint, so I was apprehensive in spending my leisure time reading it.
4.  The synopsis of the book made the ex-husband "evangelical" seem crazy.  That's never a good sign.  I may not be evangelical, but I've been called crazy in relation to my faith and beliefs.


Why did I want to read it?  The main character is a music therapist, that's why.  That NEVER happens.  Most people have never heard of my profession, let alone has a bestselling author created a novel with a main character that shares my job title.


So, I bought it on sale today.  I read the back cover and cringed.  I read some of the reviews on Amazon and cringed some more.


Sigh.  Some of my colleagues have already asked me if I've read the book.  Many said they picked it up because of the music therapy aspect and want to discuss it with me.  So, I guess I just better read it and develop my own opinion.  Who knows, maybe (doubtful) I'll enjoy it even though it challenges Christian morality with every step.


More to come after the reading...



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Got Mary?

Just kinda what my heart is thinking about today when doing my Bible in 90 Days reading (and catch up reading)...

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass'd.

Oh, how sad and sore distress'd
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm'd in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruis'd, derided, curs'd, defil'd,
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Amen.



Prayer to the Sorrowful Mother

St. Alphonsus de Liguori
O my afflicted Mother! Queen of martyrs and of sorrows, thou didst so bitterly weep over thy Son, who died for my salvation; but what will thy tears avail me if I am lost? By the merit, then, of thy sorrows, obtain me true contrition for my sins, and a real amendment of life, together with constant and tender compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and thy dolours. And if Jesus and thou, being so innocent, have suffered so much for love of me, obtain that at least I, who am deserving of hell, may suffer something for your love. "O Lady," will I say with St. Bonaventure, "if I have offended thee, in justice wound my heart; if I have served thee, I now ask wounds for my reward. It is shameful to me to see my Lord Jesus wounded, and thee wounded with Him, and myself without a wound." In fine, O my Mother, by the grief thou didst experience in seeing thy Son bow down His head and expire on the cross in the midst of so many torments, I beseech thee to obtain me a good death. Ah, cease not, O advocate of sinners, to assist my afflicted soul in the midst of the combats in which it will have to engage on its great passage from time to eternity. And as it is probable that I may then have lost my speech, and strength to invoke thy name and that of Jesus, who are all my hope, I do so now; I invoke thy Son and thee to succour me in that last moment; and I say, Jesus and Mary, to you I commend my soul. Amen



Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows

by Pope Pius VII
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, [etc.]
Sorrowful Mother
Mournful Mother
Sighing Mother
Afflicted Mother
Foresaken Mother
Desolate Mother
Mother most sad
Mother set around with anguish
Mother overwhelmed by grief
Mother transfixed by a sword
Mother crucified in thy heart
Mother bereaved of thy Son
Sighing Dove
Mother of Dolors
Fount of tears
Sea of bitterness
Field of tribulation
Mass of suffering
Mirror of patience
Rock of constancy
Remedy in perplexity
Joy of the afflicted
Ark of the desolate
Refuge of the abandoned
Shiled of the oppressed
Conqueror of the incredulous
Solace of the wretched
Medicine of the sick
Help of the faint
Strength of the weak
Protectress of those who fight
Haven of the shipwrecked
Calmer of tempests
Companion of the sorrowful
Retreat of those who groan
Terror of the treacherous
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs
Treasure of the Faithful
Light of Confessors
Pearl of Virgins
Comfort of Widows
Joy of all Saints
Queen of thy Servants

Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled
V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.


The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady
1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb.

Deutero-What?

Tonight my Bible in 90 Days group had our first meeting for discussion.  It was great!  But, I was caught off guard by questions about the Catholic Bible.  I hate it when I know the information in my head, but I have a hard time communicating it to someone.  Oh well, eventually I'll get it down.  Just like I have a definition of music therapy down cold. ;)


Here's some information that I should have been able to recall about the extra Catholic books of the bible.  Please note the references at the end.

"The Deuterocanonical books of the Bible are those books in the Catholic Old Testament that are not in the Hebrew canon, but were included in the Greek translation, the Septuagint, and taken over into the Latin versions.  The deuterocanonical books (and additions) are:  Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, and additions to Esther and Daniel."

And he continues... "It seems most proper to say that Sixtus of Sienna started using the term to denote those books whose place in the canon was denied by the Protestants, allegedly because of their absence from the Hebrew canon.  It would be fair, moreover, to suspect that Protestant rejection of these books was based on more than simply their absence from the Hebrew.  See for instance, the remarks of van den Born:"

"Although the complete canon of Scripture was at least implicitly held in the Church from the beginning and was semi-officially proclaimed by several early Popes and local Councils, it was not until 1546 that the Church, in the Council of Trent, issued it's dogmatic decree on the canon of Scripture, in which, after listing the books of the OT and the NT, it anathematized those who refused to hold as sacred and canonical these books "in their entirety, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and are contained in the old common (vulgata) Latin edition.  Till the time of the Protestant Reformation no serious doubts were raised in the West about the deuterocanonical books..... In the 16th century the Protestants relegated the deuterocanonical books fo the OT as "apocryphal" works to an appendix in their Bible, partly on the authority of the few Fathers of the Church who had doubted about them, partly for the reason that some of these books offered passages opposed to Protestant tenents (e.g. 2 Mac, 12:43 on sacrifice for the dead; Tob. 4:10; 2:9; Sir 3:30; 29:11f on the merit of good works), and partly on the fact that these books are not in the Hebrew Bible, on which the Protestants based their new translations.  Sixtus of Sienna (1520-1569) introduced the terms 'protocanonical' and 'deuterocanonical,' to signify respectively the books of Scripture which were received by the entire church from the beginning as inspired... [and thus through Trent to the present day] ... and those whose inspiration was the object of doubt on the part of [the Protestant Reformers, among others].  This did not affect the belief of the Church as such, which received and used them as inspired.  This terminology is not very felicitous, inasmuch as it may wrongly give the impression that the Church had an earlier official canon that excluded certain books which were later included in a second ("deutero-") canon."

"In any case, in Catholic biblical studies, the term "deuterocanonical" refers to those books or portions of books in the OT (as defined by the Council of Trent) which are omitted from the Protestant scriptures, and to which Protestants attach the term "apocrypha."  It is specifically to this distinction that the term deuterocanonical has referred since the sixteenth century.  It is important that Catholic students of the bible keep two principles in mind, especially when using terminology in an ecumenical or apologetical setting:  First, the term "deuterocanonical" refers to the (fully inspired, and recognized by the Church from the beginning) OT books which are rejected by Protestants.  Second, the term "apocrypha" should never be used of the deuterocanonical books."

WHEW!  Did ya follow that?  Personally, anytime I'm reading something and someone uses "insomuch" I'm impressed.  Basically, the books of the bible that Protestants call "extra" were really always part of the bible the Catholic church used.  Only during the Protestant Reformation did they get eliminated from Protestant bibles.  Interesting, right?  You can read these books of the bible at the USCCB website.


References:  
David Twillman.  Coursebook from Ave Maria University. 2006.
A. Robert and A. Feuillet.  Introduction to the New Testament. Translated by Patrick W. Skehan et. al. New York: Desclee Company, 1965, p. 552.
Hartman, Louis F., C.SS.R. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible. A Translation of A. van den Born's Bibels Woordenboek Second Revised Edition.  1963. McGraw-Hill Book Company, INC., New York. (309, 310, 311, 314).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yummy Sushi

I haven't really eaten sushi very often in the past couple of years since I was introduced to sushi on a date (thanks, Tim!), but that may change.



In St. Peter's, MO, of all places, is a little hole in the wall sushi place called "Crazy Sushi."  I've heard great things about it, and my bestie has been bugging me to make a sushi date.  Last night was the said sushi date...and it was GREAT!



I loved that our rolls came out on a wooden boat.  So cute!!  We got 5 rolls, and I tried them all, but I liked 3 of them the most.  I liked: california roll, crunch roll, and rock & roll (roll).  I still need to work on my chopstick form, but it was great!

Then we went shopping and to Starbucks.  Fun night with my bestie!  I still can't believe the best sushi I've ever had was in St. Peter's.  Amazing!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Help From My Friends...

Oh life.  After talking to several friends on the phone and online today, this song randomly popped into my head.



Does this song get your cheese-o-meter going?

Maybe for some, but not for me.  I have fond memories of this song from yester-year, and I proudly sing along.  I know I sang this as a duet at a MASC (Missouri Association of Student Councils) camp one summer.  Well, actually it was the second summer I went to the Leadership Camp at William Woods University in Fulton, MO (nerd alert!).  I remember in high school, the Senior Farewell concert every may was guaranteed to have some version of this song included.  Usually it was two senior girls who were besties singing through tears in a duet or trio, and I fully expected to do the same thing when I was a senior choir girl.  However, I had more than one bestie, I had 7 others that were my high school choir besties.  So, we did a version of "With a Little Help from my Friends" by Pieces of 8.  You can listen to the Pieces of 8 version here.  We got permission from the band to sing it at our concert, and they even sent us the sheet music that wasn't published.  It was pretty cool!  Then, we were invited to be the opening act for Pieces of 8 at two benefit concerts for Habitat for Humanity...but that's a whole other story. :)

Anyway, I'm a person who doesn't have a lot of friends.  I mean, I'm friendly and have lots of friends, but only a few really good friends.  I have a few very close friends that I hold very close to my heart.  Today, I got to speak with most of them, and one more just sent me a text message!  Hooray!  I LURVE my girlfriends so very much, even if I'm a flake most of the time because I keep myself super busy.  Being able to chat with my friends on the phone for a couple of hours today just made me so happy.  Thanks, Ladies!  You know who you are!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Twenty-Four Hours to Go...

There is a reason I don't go on more trips with my sister, and I remembered the reason today.



My sister and I are complete opposites in just about every category known to man, except when it comes to shopping.  It's a miracle we don't show up wearing the same outfit more often.  We seem to get along fine for about 24 hours, then I just can't take it anymore and I turn into an evil, mean version of myself.  I think I lost it when, on our first night in the hotel, I started reading my bible and she gave me the "look."  Oh, you know the look.  The one that without saying a word it says "why are the world are you reading that crap" look.  So, I told her about the Bible in 90 days challenge I was doing this summer.  She said to me, "I thought you didn't like reading fiction."  I kept my cool and told her to believe what she wants, but it might be helpful to actually read something before she makes up her mind about it, because she has never read the bible.

Throughout the weekend, I let my sister choose what we did.  I gave into her wishes.  We shopped until I dropped, and I spent a lot more money than I anticipated or budgeted.  I let her choose where we ate, because it seemed like every suggestion I gave was met with a "I don't like that" reaction from her.  So, I gave up suggesting.  I let her listen to her music, which gave me a headache (apparently I'm old and don't like the youngins music anymore).  I wanted pictures of us at various places so I could add them to the blog or as a sisterly facebook profile picture, she refused and whined about it.  I only have one picture of me from the trip, and it's a bad picture of me with a bull outside a BBQ restaurant.  And, I didn't get mad when we walked in the hotel room and there was only 1 king sized bed because she, on purpose, didn't tell me we were sharing a bed.  I even let her use my razor because she forgot hers!

When it came time to drive home on Sunday, I was excited because I was ready to go home and I love a good road trip drive through mid-MO.  We split the driving to Kansas City, so I figured we would split the driving back to St. Louis.  I was apparently wrong.  When we stopped in Columbia, MO, for lunch, I stated I was excited about driving the second leg of the trip and my sister stated that there way no way she was going to allow me to drive.  That was IT.  I lost it.  The one thing I had been looking forward to all day and she was denying me that one small pleasure I asked for when I let her dictate our entire weekend.  I tried to tell her nicely that I really wanted to drive, I love driving, and I wanted to listen to my Christian music for the last leg.  She refused.  I started yelling, and she yelled back.  She threatened to leave me by the side of the road in Columbia because I was being such a beeeeeep.


So, I finally got in the car, on the passenger side, and engaged in some negative behavior that I am not proud of at all.  Every time she turned on the radio with the headache producing music, I turned it off.  She turned it on and yelled at me, and I turned it off.  Juvenile, I know.  Not my most amazing moment, but eventually she stopped turning it on and we drove from Columbia to St. Charles in silence.  It was wonderful once I calmed down!  No crap music on the radio that made me crazy.  I tried to not think about the fact I wasn't driving and she was just doing a power play.  I got out my iPhone and opened the iRosary app to silently pray to try and get balanced again after my angry episode and beg forgiveness for not being Christ to my sister in that moment.  I can't do it alone, and I'm not perfect.  But today, I absolutely lost it.

It's really unlike me to just lost it and yell and someone.  Something about my sister just drives me to the edge of sanity every time I spend extended time with her.  I feel like I need to limit my time in order to keep the peace.  It's too bad, because she's my only sister.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mid-MO



Today my sister and I embarked on a great "Sisters Across Missouri" roadtrip.  It all started earlier this year when my sister received word that she won a sweepstakes.  I thought it was a scam, but lo and behold it wasn't.  She won a two night stay at a Country Inns & Suites along with free water park passes and a $50 gift card to the Legends Outlet Mall.  She wanted me to go with her, and how could I say no to free hotel and free shopping (well, $50 doesn't go that far at an outlet mall...).

So, she picked me up in St. Charles this morning and we made our way on the great I-70 to Columbia, Missouri (CoMo).  My sister, being a proud Mizzou alumna, made it an imperative to stop at Mizzou for shopping at the Bookstore.  I don't know what I'm more excited about:  my new purple Mizzou T-shirt or my new white Mizzou cap with a big pink glittery "M" on it.  Yes, pink and purple girlie Mizzou-wear!

Do you live in Missouri?  Have you experienced the cicada infestation we have right now?


I really hadn't, because they aren't by my home.  Well, they had their revenge on me in CoMo.  We park at the student center and I'm halfway out of the car and BAM!  Dive bomb kamikaze attack on my head by cicadas.  Lovely.

Anyway, Katie let me drive her car from CoMo to KCK.  I was kinda excited because she's had her car for a while now and she had NOT allowed me to drive it...until now.  I'm jealous of her high end features in the Acura, but it's still a Honda at heart. :)

While driving through downtown KCMO in rush hour on a Friday, we were confused by the road construction!  In a one mile span of road, I saw 4 signs.  They said:  Left lane closed, right lane closed, center lane closed, ramp closed.  Huh.  I was waiting for the entire highway to be shut down!  But luckily, only the left lane and ramp were closed.  Whew!

After we checked into the hotel, Katie and I check out the outlet mall.  I spent entirely too much money at the Ann Taylor Loft Outlet, and we ate at a Western bar for dinner.  Katie wanted me to ride the mechanical bull, and although I was tempted, I refrained.  Here's my yummy dinner...

Dinner at Wild Bill's something something something...

Overall a great day so far, except our gift card Katie won came up with only $15 on it instead of $50...  She sent a stern email to her contact person about it.  Boo!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Poop Poop ba-Doop


Okay.  I just have to blog about this because it makes me crazy.  Did anyone else listen to Glenn Beck's radio show this week and hear his story about going to a New York City playground with his kids?  Oh my.  Watch it here.

To make a long story short, Glenn took his kids to a NYC playground only to witness two children urinate and one child defecate under money bars.  When the parent realized what was going on, she did not reprimand the children, but rather just said to not play under there anymore.  AND when the parent wasn't closely watching the children returned to the area to make sand castles in the human waste.  And when I say children, I mean girls that were about 6 or 7 - 1st graders.

What is this world coming to?  I heard this story live on the radio, and I had no words.  I think my jaw hit the floor and I had a new appreciation for living in "fly over country" and not New York City.  If that happened at a playground in St. Charles, I think other adults would say something and have a cow.  Don't you think??!  Would you have said something to the kids or the adult if you saw some first grader pooping under the monkey bars?  I think I would have, because of simple human decency!  ARG!

I find it amazing how if you allow your DOG to poop in public and you don't pick up the droppings that you get a fine and it is against the law (and others will call you out if you don't pick it up), but apparently it's okay to let 6 year old girls to do that same thing.  Are we turning into animals?  In the city of St. Louis, it's against the law to smoke a cigarette in public, but you can poop in NYC and no one will say anything.  This is just sick and disturbing.

Lord help me if I ever have to live somewhere besides the Midwest or Texas.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

B90: Day 1



Today is the official first day of the Bible in 90 Days challenge that I'm doing this summer (B90).  I actually read the readings for today last week because I thought it was starting last week, but I'll blog about it now. :)

Readings today:  Genesis 1:1 - Genesis 16:16

How many times have I read Genesis?  Many.  My thoughts on the opening of Genesis seem to change throughout the years.  The past several years it has reminded me of the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday because the first OT readings are of the beginnings.  But, this year, I thought more about science.  I guess it's because I'm watching all these science shows on television about how the universe works, but it's interesting to weave the Big Bang, black holes, and supernovas into the Genesis creation.

I continue to be amazed at how Mary plays into the creation story and how in the NT she's the new Eve. I love making those connections new again.

And, on the day I read about Noah and the rainbow, I saw a real rainbow.  Made my heart go all a twitter.


Summa-time



I don't think I've mentioned this year how I'm now officially done with work for the entire summer!  Well, about 8 weeks.  This is one of the main reasons I remain employed by a school district over other options because, let's face it, it's pretty awesome to make a good salary and still have 8 weeks off in the summer.  Booyah.

So last week my wise Father asked me what my summer plans were.  Perhaps you are thinking the same thing.  So, let's chat about my summer plans.

1.  Grad school.  I was going to take 3 grad school classes, but I ended up making the decision on the side of sanity and dropped the reading specialist practicum.  So, I'm taking a "Frameworks of Learning" course along with "Teaching Math in Elementary/Middle School."  I'm trying to just do a number of classes left countdown to December graduation.  Right now the magic number is 5.

2.  Work.  Wait...didn't I say I was done with work?  Yes.  HOWEVER, somehow I became a co-chair for two committee at my job, and so I have projects to do over the summer.  Luckily my fellow co-chair is a good friend, so doing departmental PR videos and developing an internship program will be uber fun.  I'll keep telling myself that...

3.  Travel.  I'm going on a mega-sisters-across-Missouri trip this weekend to Kansas City with my sister Katie.  I'm a little bummed that the health department in CoMo put the nix on the cicada ice cream, because I wanted to seriously try it!  I have no idea what we're going to do, but we have free hotel and gasoline to burn.  After that, I'm doing a solo road trip to Florida.  I'm excited to visit my Aunt and Uncle  and spend my days at the beach doing absolutely nothing but reading and sunning.

4.  Purging.  No, not vomiting.  Getting rid of "stuff" in my house.  I have way too much "stuff," and I need to get rid of some.  Look out goodwill, my CR-V might be full.

5.  Gardening.  I have a wicked awesome container garden going on.  So far, my lettuce and snow peas were successful, and I see baby tomatoes growing.  I'm hoping to also harvest peppers, carrots, parsley, and zucchini.  I probably forgot something...there are lots and lots of containers out on my patio!!

6.  B90.  I'm doing the Bible in 90 days challenge with a group of ladies, so every day I'll be reading and blogging about Bible.

I know these 8 weeks will go by very, very quickly, but I'm happy to get in my less stressed and relaxed groove.  I have a feeling the upcoming year with work is going to be extra busy, and I want to be ready to light the fire when work starts up again in August!  Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Apocalypse Nowish

Signs that the end is nigh?

Weird things are happening.  And what happens tonight?  The weirdest random thing of all.   Since the beginning of 2011, many natural disaster things have and continue to happen in my area, and I'm to the point where I am wondering if it will end any time soon.

Multiple destructive tornadoes in the St. Louis area?  Check.

Large hail on more occasions that I can count at my house?  Check.

Solar flare knocking out cell and GPS service?  Check.

Earthquake that woke me from my slumber and shook my home?  Check.

Cicada infestation?  Check.

What does the Book of Revelation say?  Did I miss anything?  Did somebody say, "repent?"  Oh yeah, I almost forgot the weirdest of them all.  I often randomly surf through random blogs trying to find something interesting to read or follow.  Tonight I stumbled across a blog of someone I know.  Who?  Oh, just my ex-fiance.

I was not expecting that.  At all.  I cannot ever remember stumbling across a blog and realizing I knew the owner before.  It's so strange.  And yet, my inner dialogue response was the weirdest of all.  I considered the possibility of commenting on a post.  This is definitely going to prayer with me tonight, but I have to wonder the big question of "why."  It would be great if you gave me a clue to what you're doing, God.  Thanks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

B90: Judith

Judith beheads Holofernes
I like reading things either really early in the morning or late at night, so I have a full day to ponder the material I read, often relating it to daily events or to the longings of my heart.

Judith was both difficult and a joy to read.  For my non-catholic-y readers, you can find the Book of Judith here with the introduction that I'm reading in The Catholic Study Bible.  In the Catholic bible, Judith is found after Tobit, before Esther.  So, as many of the Old Testament books begin, Judith opens with a narrative of war and battles in regions that are a bit fuzzy in my visual of an ancient map.  These parts of the bible that describe war, battles, and war strategies do not hold my attention unless there is a personal biographical narrative embedded within it.  Luckily, the book of Judith quickly got to the main storyline of, well, Judith!

The storyline is typically well known.  The Israelites are under attack and may be forced to surrender.  Judith convinces the elders to allow her to leave the gates of the city in order to do God's will and save God's people.  She ends up in the enemies tent, with a drunk commander.  She takes his sword, beheads him, and takes his head back in a sack to the village elders and God's people are saved.

When I read this last night, this one passage really stuck out to me:

Jdt 8:8: "No one had a bad word to say about her, for she was a very God fearing woman."

I know that many times I say things that I shouldn't say at work or with friends, and I often wonder if people speak ill of me when I am not present.  I'm glad I read this passage so I can take it to prayer for me to know when to shut my mouth so I can evolve into the character of a God fearing woman.

Today I was driving around trying to get some errands done.  When I drive, I contemplate things and life.  I started thinking about Judith...  Oh, God had quite the field day with my heart and mind this morning!

Often, I avoid God's tug on my heart.  I don't know if a lot of people know this or not, but when I'm at Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel his presence very strongly in a physical way.  It moves me.  It tugs at me.  It calls to me.  But, I'm often fearful of where it will take me.  In the story of Judith, the Elders were afraid of what would happen to the people in the city, and therefore gave God an ultimatum to receive water and food or they would surrender.  Judith was not fearful.  She prayed.  She heard the voice of God and acted.  God, in turn, saved his people by her hand.

How often do I hear the voice of God and refuse to act?  How often am I fearful and ignore the call, tug and voice?  How much good could I be doing to help others if I would have acted?

Judith, pray for us!  Help us to be trusting and fearless.  Help me act when the Holy Spirit moves me.  Jesus, I trust in You!