7 Quick Takes Friday … January 9th

The first week of work in 2015 has been long … very long.  All of the problems we had before I left with the facilities are all still happening.  We cannot seem to solve our HVAC problems and intellectually I know that it’s not my fault.  However, it feels like I just cannot get this problem solved and it’s my failure.  So hopefully tomorrow when I get it it’s nice and warm in our office and only one building is a problem child.

This Sunday (and Tuesday for that matter) we celebrated the Three Kings and the Epiphany!  It’s such a fun day – usually I move my wise men closer and closer as this day comes closer, but this year I had all of my nativities around the house and since I was only home for a few days before the celebration, they all stayed put.  But having three sets of wise men is very exciting!

And yes, one of my wise men is missing his head,
has been for years!

I started my first Whole30 on Monday.  It’s been going pretty great so far.  I did have a ‘crumb cake’ craving when a woman brought me a home made, traditional polish cranberry crumb cake.  I did resist even though it was on the kitchen table at work all day long!  So far I’ve had some pretty fun meals and interesting items. It’s forcing me to be more creative that ‘pasta, chicken, and salad’ for dinner.  I appreciate that a lot and as I integrate the dairy, grains, and legumes back into my diet, I’m going to keep up the creative dinners – even more than before I started.

DINNERS (lunches are salads or left overs usually)
Day 1: Steak, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms & Tomatoes
Day 2: Sweet Potato Hash, Two Eggs, Greens & Chicken
Day 3: Butternut Squash & Cranberries roasted, Scrambled Eggs & Ground Beef, Avocado, Greens, Salsa, and Pea Sprouts
Day 4: Pork Chops, Applesauce, Roasted Cauliflower Rice, Avocado

All quite adventurous!

It was so much fun this week to read every one’s post in the Not Alone Series about an average day.  I loved to see inside the lives of the girls who work in offices, are nurses, and how some get up at 4:08 in the AM!  Many are able to attend Daily Mass and all make time for prayer throughout the day.  I’m such a fan of this community that Morgan and Jen have helped us to create.  I feel supported by these ladies and am so grateful for them in my life!  Keep on writing ladies!  See you next week for 2015 goals and expectations.

I saw this video on this blog earlier today and just could not help but smile!  And nod in agreement with her reflection on the situation.  The right guy at the wrong time is the wrong guy.  Every time.  It’s always good to get a reminder!

We had our FIRST First Saturday dinner at my place on Saturday and good times were had by all who came.  It was so much fun to eat, play games, enjoy the little kiddos, and just catch up!  I’m so looking forward to next month!

Someone posted this picture of some pretty fun bottles of wine – looking forward to searching for these ones after my Whole30 is over!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!
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Being Quiet in body and spirit – NASavannah Recap Post

The ‘story of my life’ this past year has been pretty crazy.  Stepping foot on four continents:

  1. Rio de Janiero, Brazil, South America: World Youth Day with our Diocese and the Holy Father last July.
  2. Mukumary, DR Congo, Africa: 3 weeks in Africa with my friend, Father Emmanuel, and so many new friends that I made in the journey.
  3. Rome, Italy, Europe: On my way home from Africa I made a quick 72 hour trip to Rome to see the Eternal City.
  4. Finally – the United States, North America:  So many cities, but the notables are Denver, New York City, Atlanta, Savannah (see below), Latrobe (yeah for friends being ordained), and, of course, Charlotte (where I am most of the time).
There are so many adventures I could recap from all of these trips (seriously, I cannot believe how the Lord has blessed me with these trips this year) but this post is dedicated to the NASavannah trip I went on two weekends ago.
About a year ago I found Jen and Morgan and their fantastic Not Alone Series via some other great blogs I read.  I read along all the time, but haven’t ever contributed in blog form – maybe this Fall will be a different story… who knows?
Anyway, so back in February they posted about this trip and I forced (um, asked politely) if MG wanted to come with me on this crazy adventure where we make the world of the internet interact with our real lives!  She said sure – and so we signed up.  
Finally the day came and we headed off … all of the other ladies have talked about the ins and outs of the trip – what we did (not a ton), what we ate (delicious food), where we stayed (an amazing old house) … so I’m going to write about what it was like when the internet became real and how it was ‘quiet’ for me.
The past few months have been crazy around here in my world.  At the end of May my roommate decided to move back to Chicago for a job, so that left me looking for housing.  I looked for apartments – terrible.  I then started to look at condos/townhouses to purchase – crazy!  From the day I decided to seriously consider purchasing a house (a Friday) to the day I put in an offer (the following Wednesday) – was a crazy 5 days.  The next 8 weeks have been even busier with packing, loan papers to sign, inspections to get, and so much more.  I can write an idiots guide to buying a house later – but wish I would have read it before I embarked on this process.  Anyway …
So on this trip, it was so great to meet 6 sort of new to me ladies as we gathered up at this beautiful house in Savannah.  We talked and talked and talked – walked around the city, went to Mass, prayed the St. Anne Novena (still waiting on confirmation of an answer), and just hung out.
The best part for me were all of the great conversations.  I’m not sure anything that we said was new to all of us – it was sharing things we’ve already discussed many times – living the life of a single gal who’s trying to live out her Catholic faith.  Having them again with girls from all over the country (and one from out of the country) was confirming that we are in fact not alone.  That fact makes me feel a sense of great inner peace.  
Our culture can be hostile to those who are trying to live a life of faith.  It’s hard to find ‘comfort’ when we aren’t on the same page.  But when 8 girls (and so many more who wanted to come but cannot) get together and feel the same sense of community because they are all striving to live out God’s Will, it gives me a great hope.  It’s also comforting knowing that I’m not on the only one who feels this way.
So my NASavannah weekend was overwhelmed by a sense of peace.  I read on a hammock, experienced the concept of urban homesteading with chickens in the back yard, went to the beach (although I got a terrible sunburn), and made 6 great new friends (and kept another pretty great one).
Thanks ladies for an excellent weekend!  Can’t wait to ‘hang out’ online until the next time we can be together in person!
Check out the other ladies’ posts over at Jen’s!

Me and MG at the beach … before the sunburn!

Palm Sunday: Reflection Welcoming as Christ

As I was listening to the first Gospel at Mass this evening (yes, this the one time during the year we hear two Gospel readings), all I could think about what my experience as I entered Mukumary on Monday, March 10th.

The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, 
while others cut branches from the trees 
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
Matthew 21:1-11

We had to drive there from Lodja (small city in the middle of the DRC we flew into) which is 145km south of Mukumary.

Lodja is on the bottom right, Mukumary is the top of the map

The car stopped in sort of the middle of nowhere (but seriously, it was the middle of nowhere)!  Father Emmanuel said, “It’s time to get out, they want to welcome you.”

Some of the people gathered to walk me to the Church.

They even had palms!

So we got out, and there were two schools of children (the entire elementary school and high school) plus tons of villagers and parishioners were singing and dancing.  They walked me, leading with palms to the Church.  This was the first time I was the center of a parade!

What does ‘google’ say a parade is?

Here in the states we have parades sometimes; however, I think there are only a few really great, epic, talk about for the ages parades.  I’m not intentionally excluding anyone, but I think of Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Superbowl parades for the Winning Team, and (although we used to be better at these) parades for Soldiers when they return from War and Service overseas.  These are epic, talk about for decades to come, known to people who weren’t even there, parades!

This is the kind of parade, a public procession celebrating a special day – that was the experience Christ had when walking into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his death.  It was an epic parade – one we still remember each year in the Liturgy.  We even are sure that each person in the Church (old and young alike) has a palm to wave in procession.  At some Masses people even gather outside all together to process around the grounds waving their palms.  In Rome, the Holy Father processed around St. Peter’s Square in His vestments (the same ones Blessed John Paul II wore on Palm Sunday each year) with a palm branch remembering the person of Christ.

A procession to be remembered for the ages!

I had this experience as I entered the village of Mukumary, the village of Mpete, and the village of Mpama.  A parade to be remembered for the ages in my mind and the mind of the villagers of these places.  It was an epic day.  I brought only me, my smile, and my love.  And it was more than enough for them.  It was more than they were seeking.  They were honored because I was there – not because of what I could do for them or what I was going to do or how I was going to do it.  They had nothing to gain and most of them didn’t even know my name!  When I got to the church they had be stand on a table so that everyone could see me.

They have nothing and yet they have everything.  They know what is important in life and focus on the things that matter: God, family, faith, friends, joy!  They know how to celebrate – and while I was there we had our fair share of partying, dancing, singing, and celebrating!  Mass was never under 3 hours – the opening processional hymn at the Church in the village was almost 20 minutes long!  But no one was bored or looking at their watch.  They were humbled and grateful to be able to worship their God.
Everywhere I went they greeted me waving palms, singing, and dancing.  Everywhere I went they greeted me as they would greet Christ himself.  Looking on me with the most profound love.  I’m not sure I can love like they do – unreservedly, unconditional, untainted by all the junk we cloud it up with here.  We love based on conditions – what you can do for me, how you have treated me in the past, how you might treat me in the future, how I feel today, what I want to do, and thousands of other reasons. 
We think you can run out of love – we look at bigger families and think “How can that one mother love all of those children?  They must be deprived of love!”  But they know that it’s not possible to run out of love (and so do the mothers of large families).  Love multiplies as you give it away.  It gets bigger!  It also has a universal language.  Most of the people in the village spoke a few languages – their mother tongue is Tetela, the Mass is in Lingala, the official language of the country is French, and honestly – they probably understand more than those three since there are 4 national languages and at least 400 ‘mother tongues’ for tribes in the DRC.  But I really only speak English – understand a good amount of Spanish and Italian, know much of the Mass in Latin, know the letters in Greek, can say a few words in Portuguese, and have tried with all (honestly, some) of my might to learn French (not very good, yet).  Still I can only speak and communicate in English.
But still we understood each other.  I understood when they woman was hugging me how much she loved me.
We are not all as different as we think.  Our situations are different – I fall into thinking that ‘poverty’ is not having enough money to go out to eat a lot or shopping at Aldi instead of Harris Teeter.  However, poverty in America looks much different – what we have in material wealth we lack in spiritual wealth.  When we have visitors come we don’t welcome them with song and dance.
If Jesus Christ was coming to our parish this week would we prepare a program of singing and dancing like this?  Spending our day welcoming Him and pushing away all of the other cares we have to spend this time just being near him and seeing him?  Or would we say “Hey, great that you’re here – I’ll see you later, I’ve got some stuff to finish up.”?  We’re all guilty of it – I’m guilty of it. But I think that we could change the world, change the hearts of the people in the world, if we really saw each person as Christ.  Welcomed each person with our whole being as we would Christ.  Loved each person because of who they are, not what they have or what they can do for us.

What if there was a parade in our city each time a visitor came?  What difference could that make in our hearts?  How would it change our perspective?

7 Quick Takes Friday, August 23rd

For More Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


1. These past few weeks, besides crafts, I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog.  There have been a few reasons, but most of them don’t matter.  A few highlights from the past month – after getting home from World Youth Day.  One has been I am finally using my Living Social deal I purchased for Okra Yoga Tea and Massage back in June – and it has been so relaxing.  I have enjoyed going to the class so much (well, it’s only been two weeks).  I will be making it part of my weekly Monday routine!

2.  I am home at my parents for the weekend and even though they all left me this morning!  I did see that I’m taking over their refrigerator with all of my photo postcards!


3.  A few weeks ago the girls and I went to Atlanta and then came back to take Devon out for her bday!  We had tons of fun, and the mango shrimp was de-lish!


4.  The other night MG and I went to a paint and sip class and thought we were going to be making this – a starry night over Charlotte!


Ours are nice, but they do NOT look like this!  I can’t even post it here!

5.  Last Friday I took off so I could have some sanity time and to hold this little cutie!  Silas David was just the cure I needed for this tired soul!


6.  Speaking of cuties – cannot wait until my little godchild is born!  For now, I guess I’ll have to take hanging out with his or her momma!  Happy Shower Day to Devon!


7.  Finally the advice from this post has been amazing!  Thanks Cindy for using this as a ministry!

Head on over to Jen and the gang for some more quick takes!

Getting to Know Me {Temperament Tuesday}

…seems to take a while.  Figuring out if I’m called to marriage, who I’m called to marry, looking to find him in this crazy mixed up world.  It all seems to take awhile.  I know as you read it you’re probably shaking your head saying, “It took you 28 years to figure that out, things do seem to take you a while.”  Well, I’m smart, but a little slow on the uptake at times.
So while I’m discerning, looking, and trying to figure it all out, I see character flaws and weaknesses that need to be worked out before I can ever think about being the other half of a couple.  One of them has always been comparing myself, life, weaknesses, strengths, and more to other people.  Not that I’ve really been working on it.  I think the turning point was this past lent in confession.  I had gone to my Spiritual Director during a Penance Service at my parish (he’s the pastor somewhere else).  So there wasn’t an hour to work on things before confession or preparation on his part that I was arriving.  And I confessed being obsessed with comparison with my family, friends, strangers, God, and everyone!  His only words of wisdom were looking up and asking, “Is this the first time you’ve confessed this?” I was taken aback completely thinking, “Is he serious? I come to him every 6 weeks, we surely don’t have the relationship I thought we did because he doesn’t know me at all!  He must be losing his mind slowly, good thing he’s retiring.”  I replied, “No.”  Immediately, he replied, “I know that, I just wanted to make sure you knew that.”
Now it’s not that I don’t do that from time to time, but I am not obsessed with it as much as I have been.  So one of a thousand weaknesses worked on a tiny bit.
Then I decided I should take on another weakness because well, I’m trying to become a saint to be honest.  MG and I have discussed before about what we should do as single women to prepare for our vocation to marriage.  One of the things we discuss many, many times is the importance of being an E5 woman.  From this passage:

Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.

I was just skimming over the rest of the chapter (that was verse 22) and it’s pretty incredible.  I think I’m going to need to read it on a daily basis and work on being a virtuous person, but anyway – not the point of this post in particular. 
To help work on this I asked for help from the Sacred Heart during the Novena at the beginning of June.  “The grace of following your will in my life to be an Ephesians five woman to prepare for my future marriage.”  I found there have been a few (ahem, many) opportunities to practice this virtue.  And I feel like I’ve failed during most of them. 
One of those opportunities was last night and I felt like I failed miserably, like always.  My temperament says that my weaknesses are as follows:

But your weaknesses include a tendency to excessive self-criticism and criticism of others, being dismissive or overly judgmental, exhibiting a tendency to self-absorption, and possessing an untrustful and controlling nature. You tend to be inflexible, can bear grudges for a long time and may be prone to discouragement. A melancholic-choleric who is not attentive to her spiritual life, and does not keep her eye assiduously on the truly important things of life can become a cross to those around her, through her nit-picking, perfectionism, disdain, bitterness, resentfulness, spitefulness when crossed, and even haughtiness.

That paragraph pulls out my weaknesses perfectly.  I know that is my tendency and I’m not sure how to overcome it.  That is absolutely the truth.  A friend told me that my friends fear me – and I’m not sure if he was kidding me or not, but I took it to heart.  Fear of disappointing, opposing, or anything else.  I want to be a good friend, but I fear that I’m driving them way and I don’t even know it.
Was inspired to write this because of the link-up being hosted over at To the Heights. Also was excited to see that Olivia and I have the same temperament.  I’ll be taking her post to prayer as I learn how to live as a Melancholic-Choleric

Five Favorites (May 29th)

Five Favorites, hosted at MoxieWife.com

Some Favorites:

1. The Pope – I read this post before work today and got a chuckle, thought you’d like it too!

The year was 1770, and in a small Italian church, two altar boys prepared for Benediction. Annibale Della Genga and Francesco Castiglioni entered the sacristy, put on their albs, and grabbed the heavy brass candlesticks. And then they began to bicker.
Arguing over who would stand on the priest’s right for the procession, their quibble escalated into a shouting match. Alarmed parishioners turned their heads to the back of the church to see the commotion, and that’s when it happened:
Castiglioni cracked Della Genga over the head with his candlestick.

Blood dripped out of Della Genga’s head, and both boys began shoving each other. Shocked parishioners screamed, “Throw them out! Throw them out!” So the embarrassed priest grabbed the boys, led them to the door, and tossed them out of the church.

Now fast-forward several decades to 1825. Half a million people gathered in Rome for the great Jubilee celebration. The Jubilee occurred every 25 years, and its grand climax was the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica. Traditionally, the Pope would knock on the door three times with a large silver hammer and sing, “Open unto me the gates of justice!” On the third knock, the door would swing open, and the Pope would lead his people through. The symbolism was rich: pilgrims from all over the world coming back home to the Church, following their leader through the great porta fidei, the “door of faith.”

So this Jubilee year, in front of thousands of pilgrims, Cardinal Della Genga made his way to the door. It was fifty-five years after the candlestick incident. Only he was no longer Cardinal Della Genga. He was Pope Leo XII. And as he neared the door, he turned to the Cardinal beside him—Cardinal Castiglioni—and said, “Let me have the hammer.

With a sly grin, Castiglioni replied, “Just like I gave you the candlestick?”

Amazingly, four years later Castiglioni succeeded his friend and became pope himself, taking the name Pius VIII.

Now if you told any of those pewsitters back in 1770 that they had two future-popes in the back of their church, they’d laugh you out of the building: “Those two boys? The ones shoving and whacking each other with candles? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

 2.  Baby Animals – My little cousins saw a baby deer the other day, and had an actual encounter!

  
3. Basil – my new favorite herb!  I made a delicious pesto the other night with some from a friend’s garden – I even went out and purchased my own plant so I could have it again and again and again all summer!
basil, cilantro, chives, lemon juice & zest, & garlic!
 

4.  New Roommates – mine moves in tomorrow!  Cannot wait!

5. Old Friends – talked with my friend Elisabeth on Monday.  She lives in Denver, CO!  Hopefully next week, I can say ‘cheap plane tickets’ as one of my favorites!

Check out more favorite things with the link-ups over at Moxie Wife!

7 Quick Takes Friday, May 24th

For More Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

– 1 – This is a great post from Jon Acuff this week about satan’s favorite word…I agree!

And there’s one word I keep seeing over and over. I think it’s satan’s favorite word. What is it? “Enough.”

This is such a ‘hot button’ for me that each morning I wake up to this song each morning to remind me that I am enough for Him – enough for the Lord and Savior of my life, the only one that matters.

take a listen – know that you are enough … whatever you don’t think is ‘enough’ about you, it is!

– 2 – I was listening to The Catholic Guy tonight and it touched on a hot button issue with Mark Hart when he was on regarding Ordinary Time and the lack of GREATNESS in the Church.  Now, I know what you’re saying, “Katie, what authority do you have to talk about Liturgy?”  Well, none really … just that we need to be more excited, more focused on what we’re really about, who we are, and whose we are.

I read this post yesterday and was taken aback … an interesting quote I pulled:

This is made worse by the fact that the vast majority of AmChurch Catholics don’t realize there is anything wrong. The like this form of worship, and they like it because they don’t understand ritual, sign, symbol and sacred gesture–even worse they don’t understand that they don’t understand.

What can I do?  How can I change my perspective to conform myself to His Will, His Way, Worship to Him and not to me?

– 3 – On a completely different note … I read this ‘daily odd compliment’ and today’s is very applicable:

– 4 – My summer tv routine is pretty much just catching up on shows I like but missed over the course of the winter – or my regular life actually got in the way because I’ve actually had one this past year.  This past week I’ve caught up on The Office and I’m watching Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23 right now and I don’t know why, but I get sucked in!  Chloe is SO ridiculous … and broken, really, that’s all.  I feel like this is much of the issue in so much of our lives.  We are just confused about who we are, who we really are.  And then again, maybe I shouldn’t be getting my life philosophies from a show that can’t even use it’s full name in the title because there’s a rule about those words.
– 5 – Sometimes Hulu gives you an option to watch a full trailer in the beginning so you don’t have to have regular commercial breaks … for this episode they had a trailer for a new movie that I honestly have no idea what the name of it is and I cannot find it (and really don’t want to search new porn topic movie because I’m really not prepared for that google search!).  It’s possible that it is a real discussion regarding the issue of pornography in our culture among both men and women OR it’s possible that it’s a mockery of all good things.  Until I see another trailer, I’ve got my hopes up for the former … eventually something good will come from Hollywood, the odds are in our favor.
– 6 – I ate great food on Thursday with great people!  The end of the pre-school year was today and we all went to lunch to celebrate.  Then tonight MG and I skipped out on the pick-up kickball game and went to Ru San’s instead.  It was delicious!
– 7 – This weekend I don’t have many plans – just seeing these cute kiddos

 See this movie

and go with this excellent ladies to a concert
although they look different now (5 years after this pic) it took
me awhile to find one of the three of them actually together!

For more quick takes, check out Jen and friends!