Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Identifying with Jonah

These last few weeks have shown me that I have more in common Jonah than I ever believed.

My time volunteering with a religious order in Chicago this last summer showed me that I needed to revisit the possibility of having a religious vocation.  I started to work hard at the vocation process--prayer, listening to God, researching and contacting various orders, letting myself be open to wherever the process leads.  Then, I began to get information back from various orders, and most of them were/are cloistered orders or no's because of my age and my food allergies.  While the idea of being hidden in God appeals to me, the idea that this is where God might be calling me scares me. Aside from feeling not worthy of such a calling, I'm also worried about pursuing something that really isn't what God has for me in the first place.

Another issue is whether pursuing a religious vocation is a way for me to run away: from romantic relationships, from responsibility, from life.  I don't really know that is the case, but it is always does one know??? I think at least part of this fear comes from having never really fallen in love with another human being, not even my ex.  I sometimes wonder if I even have the capacity for the kind of love a woman should have for a spouse--I have more emotion toward my digdog than to other people most days.  Most vocation stories talk about falling in love with Jesus.  If I don't have that capacity for humans, how could I ever make the leap of doing so to God?

And, in the process of all this questioning, I've had a bit of a knee jerk reaction...Praying the liturgy of the hours fell by the wayside first.  If I quit praying, I didn't have to worry about God confirming or denying where He wanted me. Then, I got sick this semester--colds really do suck, but don't necessarily require missing my hours of Adoration, even if they are in the middle of the night.  I either skipped or got substitutes anyway.  And then, I ended up missing Mass--which acted as a bit of a wake-up call to what was happening.  I've gone to confession since then, but I'm at a loss of how to get beyond the fear I have.  I don't really want God to send a whale to swallow me whole, but my fear (maybe stark raving terror is a better description) is still there.  I don't know that I have enough courage to confront this head on.

I'm not sure that I really WANT to know where God wants me anymore, which really means that any discerning is at a standstill.  I realize that my recent actions are much like a 4 year old shoving his/her fingers in her ears and yelling, "I'm not listening" repeatedly.  It doesn't mean that my awareness of this behavior gives me an idea of how to get beyond the impulse. Just because I want to surrender to God's will doesn't mean that I know how to go about it.  Neither do I want to continue my mini-tantrum.

Maybe I need that whale after all.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Shifting Priorities

On my way to my parish, I pass an old gas station: the pumps are covered with yellow arrows.  Those arrows remind me every time I go to Mass of my time on the Camino, where similar yellow arrows pointed me in the direction of Santiago.

See the yellow arrows on the pump?
And yet, as I get closer to the point when I need to seriously begin the process of planning and training in earnest for going on the Camino in 2016, I'm realizing that my priorities have shifted.  I still want to walk the Camino from beginning to end, and I hope that God allows me to do just that at some point.  However, even if my priorities had not pulled me in other directions, I don't think that my body would currently let me do so.  You see, I'm still having foot pain, and I'm still unable to even run 1 mile with no weight, let alone walk 9-12 miles in a day with 15 lbs. on my back.  My podiatrist doesn't currently think that I need surgery (Thank GOD!!!), but he hasn't ruled it out completely either.  The other option would be to bicycle the Camino, but that would mean losing out on much of the social aspect of the Camino, and I really don't want to do that.  It also means figuring out how to ship a bicycle to Spain, and that just seems really complicated.

So, as much as I want to do something epic to mark my passage into my Forties, walking the Camino, or any kind of hike next summer is out.  I'm not sure what my gift to myself will be, but I have a few ideas percolating.

Many of my own personal priorities have been in flux of late, anyway. To try to choose something that will fit those priorities a year from now wouldn't work at the moment, for I'm not sure what those priorities will be.

As the weeks go on, I will try to talk a little bit about what I've been thinking about, but here are a few questions that have been simmering in the back of my head as a teaser:

  1. What does it mean to be a single lay person in the Church today?  What role do we play in the life of the Church?
  2. What are the things in my life that are obstacles to saying yes to God? How can I work on removing them?
  3. I've been given this huge blessing of my own house. How can I use that gift as a blessing to others?
  4. One of the things I loved about my time with the Sisters in Chicago was the rhythm of prayer that their life revolved around. How can I both incorporate that into my own life, yet balance it with the rest of my obligations?
  5. What does it mean to be "in the world, not of it"?  
I don't have the answers to the above, and I may never have those answers, but they are definitely worth pondering, and prayerfully exploring.  It will be interesting to see where these questions take me.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real (vol. 3)


This Past 4th of July, I was able to grill in my backyard for the first time.  While there was a bit of a mishap putting the grill together (see funny), things went really well, and overall, I would deem the experience a success....That in spite of the dog eating 3 of the finished hamburgers off of the kitchen counter.
I originally assumed that 2 lbs of hamburger would give leftovers for a few days. The dog had other plans.

The charcoal finally lit, after borrowing lighter fluid from our neighbors.  Now I know for next time.

The first half of the burgers. Ginger ate all but the smallest of these.  That is what I get for leaving them unattended.

Grilling isn't complete without a few grilled veggies.  I want to try other veggies this way (covered in salt and olive oil), but am unsure of which would taste good.


We have a new foster-dog.  Our local animal shelter is seeing a huge boom in animals, so we have taken one in, hoping that our socialization of her will make her more adoptable.  Of course, we hit the jackpot, because she was already house-trained.  My father thinks that we will have a tough time giving her back once she is adopted.  He may be right.  My niece is already saying things like, "we should adopt her ourselves."  

My ginger (at the back of the picture) seems to like her, and my niece's dog, Daisy, loves to play with miss Athena.  


So, putting together a grill while sitting outside on a wooden deck has a few hazards involved...such as losing a screw through gaps in the boards.

You can't see it well in this picture, but the screw I dropped is between these two boards
 Thankfully, my niece was able to give me the idea of putting a magnet on something to try and fish out the screw.  Otherwise, my grill would have had to been put together with a missing screw.  I don't have any loose screws laying around. (OK, maybe some of the mental kind, but not the physical kind.).
Why yes, that IS a refrigerator magnet attached to a zip tie with packing tape--we use what we have. I was able to fish out the screw, and it only took me 2 or 3 tries!
 While the foster doggie is still being put in the crate at night, we are leaving her out for most of the rest of the time. Yesterday, I let her stay out with the other critters while I did errands.  I'm not sure I trust her to be out with the rest of the critters for a long period of time without supervision, but an hour or two seems to be ok.
This is what I saw through our front window as I was coming in from my errands. I know it looks like Athena is standing on Daisy's head, but she is actually standing on a cat perch we have near the window.  Neither cat has been using it since Athena got here, because Athena is just a little too curious about them.
 Of course, this is something that I never thought that I would see in my neighborhood, but these guys have been out and about pretty much every day since we moved in.
I live near the center of town, and yes, my neighbors have free-range chickens hanging about.  So far, I've seen 4 of them.  I've been told that they keep bugs way down. That makes it tempting to go out and buy some, but my digdogs would chase the poor things to death.


One of the things we do each summer is keep a wading pool in the yard for the digdogs.  This is absolutely essential in warmer climates, since it helps them to keep themselves cool.  However, living in a desert is a little bit different than living in Central TX.  We've been having visitors to our pool, which never happened back in El Paso.
I suspect that the curiousity/hunting instinct of both Daisy and Athena have run off this particular neighbor--I haven't seen the frog since they tried to capture it together a few nights ago.
 With two dogs that like to chase other animals (Ginger doesn't chase anything but toys--I think she believes that chasing a living being is too much work, since they don't stay in one place like toys do), the cats have begun to look for hiding places, especially places that the dogs can't reach them.  Since we are still waiting for the darker paint to set, all of our cabinet doors are off in the bathroom. Mysti has decided that our towels are the perfect place to sleep because of it, although the top of the refrigerator is not out of question.
High, comfy, and hidden.  What more could a cat ask for???
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Friday, July 3, 2015

Tattoos, Commitment, and Saying Yes

Ever since the first time I separated from my ex, I have flirted with the idea of getting a tattoo. Back then, I always said that said tattoo would be a phoenix rising from the ashes:

Something like this, actually, but I always wanted it to be full color.
This symbol is very powerful for me, because it speaks to the process I feel that I've gone through as I've processed and healed from my divorce.  And yet, something has always held me back from actually doing it.

It has to do with the permanency of a tattoo...I'm not sure that I'm willing to commit to a mark on my skin that is going to be there for the rest of my life.  Which, really, is kind of funny, because I once committed to wearing a ring on my finger in a sign of commitment "til death do us part." And, while I was married, I pretty much didn't take it off unless my fingers were swelling. Even almost 3 years later, I can still feel a bit of the dent left by wearing a ring for almost 11 years.

However, I've begun thinking about getting a tattoo again, and much of it has to do with the time I spent with the Sisters in Chicago (This article talks about the order I was volunteering with, and this is their website).  You see, the sisters say the Angelus 3x/day, and part of it has been echoing in my heart and my mind:

Be it done 
to me according 
to Your Word.
This echo of Mary's Yes to God, it seems to me, is the heart of following Christ, and if I ever DO decide to get a tattoo, it will be of those nine momentous words.  In some ways, it would be a way of formalizing the yes I tell Him daily.   I still like the image of the Phoenix, but I'm no longer in the process of rising from the ashes.  It no longer fits, somehow.

I'm still undecided about getting any kind of tattoo, and some of it is cost.  I have a hard time justifying $100 for 9 words.  And, I keep coming back to whether I really NEED to formalize the yes I say to God.  The nice thing is that I don't have to make this decision today, or even tomorrow.  Instead, like one of the postulants told me while I was there, all I need to do is know what God wants of me right now, not 2, 3, 5, or 10 years from now.  And, that is where my daily yes comes from.  The rest will work itself out as I do what is before me in the here and now.  May we all echo Mary and say, "behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real (vol. 2)


This is a picture of my bathroom after the 2nd coat of paint.  I'm really happy with the way it is looking, but am a little worried that the paint is still tacky a week after the second coat.  I actually tried to remove to tape around the edges today, and took some of the paint with it.  I've never lived in a very humid part of the world before, so I'm not even sure how to go about accelerating the process of having the paint dry.  
This last week has made the term "watching paint dry" MUCH more real to me.

And this is a picture of all of my books and CDs.  One of the blessings about moving is that it gives you license to pare down.  In anticipation, my sister turned me on to the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Maria Kondo, and it has helped me immensely in the process of finding what is essential for me.  While she is anthropomorphizes everthing, her question, "does this item spark joy?" makes a lot of sense to me, and has made choosing what to keep and what to get rid of much much easier.


This is what pictures of my animals generally look like when I try to take them with the flash on.  Rather than red eye, they look like they are part robot, or something that would come out of a science fiction movie.  It makes me smile every time, and Destructodog becomes Robodog. 
Just chillin' on the couch. No room for you, mom.
 And this is what happens when the digdogs chase the bed goes all askew.  When I moved the mattress back, my kitty was sitting underneath the overhang of the mattress, thankful for a new place to hide. I don't currently have a bed frame, but should probably get one just so that she has a safe place to get away from the digdogs. That would require needing to dust under there, though.
I'm still working on unpacking my bedroom. It is the only room, other than the Bathroom that isn't set up yet.


How is this even a thing, and I never new about it?  What is this, you ask?  It is catnip infused bubbles to play with your cat with.  At $0.97, I couldn't resist buying a bottle.  My cat pretty much ignored the bubbles, but sniffed, mildly curious, at the ground where the bubbles burst.  My niece's cat laid down on the floor where they burst and writhed in the hopes of soaking up every drop.  She is afraid of the bubbles themselves, though, as one popped on her nose. A half hour of amusement that was well worth the 97 cents.  


One of the things that happened last week is that my priest came over to bless my new house.  When he got there, he says, "you must really like yellow."  Yellow is a happy color for me, but not really what I would call a favorite color--that would be green or purple.  However, as you can see from the photo, I currently have both a yellow car and a yellow house.  I didn't do it on purpose, but there you have it.
I plan to make a house tour video at some point, but need to finish moving in first.

In the process of having my house blessed, Father gave me another Crucifix.  I had a hard time figuring out where to hang it, since I already have a very big one in my living room, and my confirmation crucifix in my bedroom.  It ended up in my kitchen.  Not a bad choice, since the corpus matches the wall color nicely.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real (Vol. 1)

I read Like Mother, Like Daughter on a regular basis...I love the practical advice and the beauty of the pictures, etc. that are posted on their blog.  Since I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging and I love their blog, I'm going to try to join their weekly Thursday feature, Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real for a while.  Go check them out and see for yourself! Besides, it will get me into the habit of taking pictures on a regular basis again, since I tend to forget that there is even a camera feature on my phone most of the time!


Flowers from around campus
One thing that I'm really in awe about here in the eastern part of TX is the amount of flowers that are around.  It isn't that there weren't pretty flowers back in El Paso, but the colors tended to be less vibrant unless there had been a lot of rain.  Here, we have LOTS of rain, dew, and precipitation in general, so the greens are greener and the colors are deeper.  It has been a feast to the eyes for me, but also is making for a lot of allergy issues.  If I forget to take my allergy medicine, I usually end up with a killer sinus headache by the end of the day.

My parish from the choir loft around sunset
 One thing that I've begun doing is to sing with one of my parish's many choirs.  We meet in the choir loft, and the parish has an East-West orientation.  Once the time changed, it made for this particular photo opportunity. I'm a little sad that we only have 2 weeks until we break for summer.  Since about 75% of the choir are college students (and our choir director is one of the music faculty at A &M), we wouldn't have enough to sing in the summer if we wanted to. Still, I'm going to miss it.


So, as promised, here are some pictures of the house I'm buying.  It is a cute little house built in 1940, and is 2 bedrooms/one bath (~950 sq. ft).

I really don't like the vinyl tiles that they put on the bottom half of the wall here. 
 This will be my first project, removing the vinyl tiles and replacing them with something else.  I'd just remove and paint the whole wall, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to remove the moulding that cuts the wall in half. Part of me likes the idea of putting tile there, although paint might be quicker.  I've also been toying with the idea of painting the bottom half of the wall a different color than the top half. The problem is that, when I peeked underneath the tiles, it looks like there was once wallpaper there, and I'm not sure how easy it is to paint after removing wallpaper.

The bathroom from in front of the tub.

The living room with the original hardwood floors. I need to find someone to make some more shelves for the built in bookcase.
Another view of the Living room.
I love these hardwood floors!

The kitchen. The door here goes to the backyard. I plan to paint in here before moving in as well. I plan to put a table where the refrigerator is currently.  

So, I measured the area, and I will just barely have room to place the fridge beside the stove on this side of the kitchen.  It means that there will only be about 1.5 feet between the stove and the counter, but it is the only way I will have enough space for a table and chairs.  The 2 bottom corner cabinets will not be as accessible as I'd like, but that is worth it if I can have a table again.  That corner will be used for small appliances, so I won't really be losing out on counter space.

The front bedroom. It gets all the sunshine in the afternoon.

The back bedroom. I'm hoping that it gets sunlight in the morning...I don't know because I've never been there before noon.

View from my  (the back) bedroom toward the living room. There really isn't any wasted space in here! 


My niece has to work sometimes on the weekends, and I'm in the house with both her and my animals.  So, I will sometimes send her pictures of her dog to cheer her up...These are my most recent attempts, in which the first catches us a bit off-guard.
Taking selfies with dogs is HARD, and I hate being licked!

And when you get the dog to sit still long enough, they are often a bit annoyed with the whole process!

I've been working on this quilt for my niece for a very, very long time (I think "working" is probably much too strong a word--I have had the project in my closet, accusing me of slacking, is more accurate).  So, I promised my niece to have it done for her birthday this year, with the full intention of using Spring Break to marathon quilt and git 'er done.  That didn't happen, so the quilt is still not finished, although I'm a little bit closer than I was at the beginning of March.  At this point, the goal is to have it completely done by Christmas.  As long as I can keep the momentum going, that is actually doable.  I've had to take a bit of a break to get caught up on grading, but this weekend will see me working on it further.  I will post more pics as I continue to work on it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

And so it begins...

Life has gotten in the way of posting very much here, but I've been wanting to pick up blogging again.  Since I've actually begun planning my next Camino, it seemed like a good time to re-start writing.

At this point, the plan is that I will be back on the Camino in July/August of 2016--at a little over a year until I go, it seemed appropriate to start the planning.  In some ways, I feel like the planning will go a little bit easier, since I have a really good idea of what I should and should not bring.  In some ways, I feel like the planning will actually be harder, since I need to keep my feet into account.  They are still bothering me, which means that it might take me longer to get to Santiago, that I might have to send my backpack forward, that I may have to take more rest days along the way, or some combination of the above.  It might also mean that I will need to bring KT tape with me for my feet.  The extra weight of having to do that is not something I relish, but if I'm sending my pack on each day, it won't be all that terrible.

I actually knew that it was about time to begin planning for my next Camino when I started thinking about being on the trail every time I passed this old gas station here in town....It has some spray-painted yellow arrows on the pumps, and it reminds me of the trail markers that are ubiquitous on the Camino.

Of course, that isn't the only new adventures that I'm in the process of.  I've made an offer on a house, and, assuming everything goes well, I will be closing on June 2.  I'm not looking forward to moving, but I am looking forward to having my own space and to be able to decorate any way I want to without worrying I'll lose my deposit over it!  We are doing the inspections today, and I will take pictures while I'm there.  I'm hoping to make it my Refuge, and already have a few things I want to do to make it better.  It will be a long process, though, so I'm not planning to do everything all at once.  It has to pass the inspections and the appraisal first, though!

With a June 2 closing date, it also means that we will have about 2 months to move and get the apartment cleaned/fixed up.  Because of our critters, we will need to replace some of the blinds and pick up the dog doo, not to mention clean deeply and maybe put down new contact paper in the cabinets.  I'm really starting to get excited, and it is fun to plan/get ready for the next step!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Annulled. Now What?

One of the hazards of moving is that, when you give your new address to others, they might write it down wrong or miss part of it.  This happened at the Tribunal office, and I first learned of this when they called me today to let me know that my Annulment has finally come through...the letter they sent was returned because they forgot to add my apartment number.  So, I'm not sure how long it has been that my marriage was Annulled, but it has been and I'm free--free to marry or enter a religious order, free to move on.

Proof that all of Bryan/College Station are Aggie-Crazy.  This truly is a "thing."

I have mixed feelings about this....Based on what the tribunal told me back when I got the first instance, I didn't expect to hear from them for another year.  Maybe I should have, since I've been praying for it to come through daily since I turned in the paperwork.  It isn't that I don't think prayer is just that I figured that the backlog the tribunal told me about would preclude it from getting here any time before the 2 year mark.

A selfie with my sister-in-law over Christmas. While I was there, I realized that Bryan/College Station is truly becoming my home. 

It is kind of like the shifting of sand underneath your feet as you walk down a sand dune--you have to be careful of your balance or you will end up landing on your butt.  I can now start dating, or pursuing a religious vocation.  I can consider myself to be truly free, but the next step is unclear to me.  I think it is time to spend some time in Adoration before I go much further, and let the sand settle beneath me before I take the next step, whatever that is.

Whenever I think of sand dunes, I think of these--Taken at White Sands National Monument

I'm just thankful that I CAN move forward.  This is definitely a blessing for this new year.
The picture is fuzzier than I'd like, but this is my outfit for the second day of the semester.  I've been truly blessed!