Friday, October 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, Volume 1

Click here to see Conversion Diary's original post!
First, I want to welcome anyone who is visiting my blog. There are a TON of excited Catholics out there and it's really wonderful to read all of the advice-filled, God-directed and loving material on Catholic blogs. If you found mine, I'm really honored you stopped by to read the 7 Quick Takes!

As this is my first 7 Quick Takes on my young blog, I want to thank Jennifer Fulweiler, though she doesn't know me from Eve. I've been reading her blog for more than a year and following her entertaining tweets (Yaya, oh Yaya) for longer. Just the other week, I made it a priority to brag to everyone with whom I spoke (that is such a snooty English rule) that THE Jennifer Fulweiler tweeted to me. She tweeted to ME (and , , , MaryChapman). That was a good day.

I got some very exciting news yesterday, but I have to keep it to myself for a few reasons... let's just say that God may have opened an opportunity for me to do His work and grow closer to him in one fell swoop. Woot!

My younger sister, next in line for the crown, the mid-kid, the cool one, the tall beauty... my sister is almost in the clear after the semester from you-know-where. Thesis, part-time job, another part-time job as music minister for the Catholic Campus Ministry, directing a play at a medium-large sized university, applying for a Fulbright, applying for jobs an internships to follow her December graduation, and let's not forget that she's still taking classes: this is just another year in the over-achiever's repertoire. She usually handles stress well, but her patience has been put through the battering ram with a year-old back injury. 

The great news is that she already got an internship offer! Otherwise, her thesis is due right before the play opens and the Fulbright process climaxes at some point in the near future. I guess stress will peak soon, but on the other side is nothing but graduation and relaxation... right? Prayers would be appreciated :).

Today I listened to the Catholic Guy Show for the first time. I know, where did I find a rock big enough to hide my attention from that show? No excuses, I've followed Lino on Twitter for a while, I just never got around to listening to him. If you haven't checked it out yet, I feel better, but you should take an hour to hear from a group of really funny Catholics with grounded perspectives.

To the weather in Virginia: please make up your mind. I know it is your way; you're a big tease. But I am starting to freeze when it drops below 70 degrees and that makes people laugh at me. Pick a season and stick to it.

Speaking of weather, I would like to remind anyone that it is about that time to make sure your coat will make it through the winter. I've had the same coat for years. It's purple, which I LOVED, but it's very unflattering. I justified spending a little extra on my new coat with the old "I'll keep it forever" standby. Not such a shabby excuse to fall back on, considering how long I've had the Barney the Dinosaur coat. I'll just spend a little time this weekend cleaning out our coat closets and give the Barney and other warm wear to those who need it more than my closet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I love 1st graders! Week 6

A great friend of mine from college called me up a few weeks ago to ask if I wanted to help teach a class of 1st graders (say it with me, awwwwwwwwwwww) for religious education at our church. YES! Of course, I'd love to!

Well, they sure were cute, harmless, tiny little people on the first day, but they intimidated me. We all know the real story: I intimidated myself. I have led the Vacation Bible School activities station for years, thus I have seen ADD/ADHD and BOY at their worst in the most freeing environment. "We're outside, why not?" "Because if you pop that balloon over her head, she will get all wet." "Fine, I'll save it for later."

Sheesh. I loved that too, I just needed to find my balance in the chaos.

In this class, we're forcing these kids to "go to school" for an extra hour and a half after the last school bell rang for the day. They just had dinner, they don't know anyone in the class and they don't have any of the prayers memorized yet. I think that formula inspires ADHD in every 6-year-old in America.

Despite my anxiety hiccups on the first day, I loosened up, I'm having fun, and I've received the best compliment a non-teacher-teacher can receive: when we sit in a circle on the floor, there are always a few requests to sit next to them. When we pick our spots, I get cuddled and hugged as I read and ask them questions. Talk about warm fuzzies!

Now that you have some background - Week 6
This is me... not a very recent photo, but am I not adorable?

There is one girl in my class who looks EXACTLY like I did as a 6-year-old, spooky. When her dad picks her up at the end of the day, I fight the urge to say, "If you're wondering what she'll look like in 17 years, I can pose for a picture." She's a really neat kid (I'll call her Grace). Grace is always enthusiastic when telling a story, she wants feedback on her drawings, but doesn't ask for it. She is really friendly, though she joined our class in the 4th week, when friendships had started to form. Grace is exactly the kind of kid I want to have someday.

The Bible story of the day was Jesus inviting the children to come listen to him and telling the grown ups that they could learn a thing or two from kids like Grace. We did a skit. THAT was an adventure in child psychology. Some were outgoing, but acted like they had a camera on them. Others were just smiley and quiet.

Grace's reaction broke my heart. She was supposed to ask Jesus some questions that she had practiced. When we were all performing, her hands came up to her face and her eyes opened wide, letting the white show around the corners. When we looked to her to ask Jesus about loving others and being kind, she shook her head and mumbled in a high pitch. Poor Grace's stage fright was twisting her mind into a panic, so we quickly moved on.

After the play, she was cuddly, normal and cool-Grace-like, having waved the play (and the fear) goodbye for the day. It struck me as especially pertinent for the lesson.

Jesus asks us to be like children, to breathe in the world the way they do. Grace has either made the switch through the age of reason and feels the same anxiety jellyfish the rest of us do, or her reaction gives us insight in another child-like behavior. When I face something with which I am not comfortable (performing on my kickball team is spiking my anxiety, lately), I put up some version of Grace's hands on my face. I can chose to overreact, curse when I mess up, or start beating myself up. OR I can chose to have my little panic and move on, be cuddly and Grace-cool when the game ends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's a great day to be a'tweetin'

Today I started the majority of my conversations with those I loved saying, "Did I tell you? I'm not sure if I did, tell me if I already told you..."

Both Jennifer Fulweiler (of Conversion Diary) and Patrick Madrid (of ... PATRICK MADRID and DUH) tweeted to me today!

These two wonderful people, who have both had profound influences on my life in the last year, took the time to be kind and mention me on Twitter.

The first burst of excitement came in the morning (darn you, Twitter, you used to post the time stamp. Not anymore, gotta keep changing, don't ya?) when Jen (can I call you that?) thanked me along with some of my other favorite tweeters, @ @ @ @.

Then the delivery man brought the Patrick Madrid book, 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know, to my door. Naturally I had to tell the world about how excited I am to finally be more well-Bible-versed... to Twitter I went. Shortly after that, Patrick (can I call you that?) tweeted that he hoped I would enjoy it!

Happy day! Additionally, I received my Toms Shoes from the very same delivery guy who kick started the second wave of social media fame euphoria! What a spectacular Wednesday.

On a day that I'm less star-struck, I will go into detail about how both of these people thoroughly influenced my effort in my relationship with God.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Theology of the Body, Week 1

I love to debate. It's probably a very unhealthy interest of mine, one that has gotten me in deep trouble in the past. When I get rolling, I can really steamroll you with my debate tricks and knack for finding loopholes in your arguments. Lately, I've tried to pull the reigns in, to consider that each heated debate detracts from the real mission: spreading the true definition of Love. And Love doesn't have to win.

However, many of these discussions have been about theology and with people who disagree with Catholic teachings. One teaching that I didn't always embrace, and therefore couldn't engage in debate about, was the Theology of the Body. Sure, I decided long ago to wait for my wedding night, to abstain, but that's all it was to me. It was a rule I had promised myself to follow and the other Catholic "rules" seemed unreasonable.

When the final cog settled into my system and the theories in Theology of the Body revealed themselves to me in their entirety ... BOOM! There it was! It was so true, so full and complete, just as it always had been, but as I could never recognize. I think I was hung up on the "don'ts," blocking me from seeing that it's really freedom from the muck the rest of the world uses to bait us.

This year I am one of about five teachers of Theology of the Body for Teens at my church. Tonight was the first meeting and ... let's just say, teachers outnumbered audience members. The youth minister tells us that October is a tough month for teens and that many kids expressed interest in the class.

Created for Love
My topic for this class was the idea that we were created for love. The entire course will weave this theme into each class, so my object was to relate it to something these kids could tie down and define. We're surrounded by sexual themes that call us to "Just Do It." "Size Matters," "That's what she said," ANYTHING involving Megan Fox...

The way the world talks about and portrays sex makes it glorious, magical, something impulsive, pain-free and conveniently detachable, in case silly things like emotion threaten to step in the way of pleasure.

I've heard sexually active friends approach sex saying, "It's natural," "It's a human act," "You just get over it (the pain, embarrassment, pick your burden)," "You can't let yourself get too emotionally involved, just move on," "We're animals, everybody does it."

Raise your hand if you draw relief from the "we're animals" take on sex. That's how we want to see ourselves? In the same vein, I brought up Twilight (I'm putting my pride on the chopping block here. Yes, I've read Twilight. Please, forgive me) and how Bella described Edward (the vampire, for those of you too cool for bad writing) as her drug. She spoke as if loving Edward wasn't her choice, she was a slave to the love she had for him.

How can you participate in love if you're a slave to it? If there's no choice and you're not even checking back on your own definition of love, how can you participate in love? Love is both a feeling and a choice that you commit to in the long run.

God has not changed the meaning of love. He embedded the signs into our very being, from the moment we're conceived and we develop into little XXs or XYs, our map to discovering love is penned.

Our job is to pick up that trail and we navigate it for a lifetime.

I'm excited to learn from the teens (the thralls and thralls of whom WILL show up eventually) and this class over the next year! I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tweet for Christ!

Last week I found out my “Twitter age” (the number of applications out there blows my mind) and today is my 623rd day on Twitter. I could go on like a nostalgic 90-year-old gramma, but boy, has Twitter changed over two years.

There’s a lot of over-sharing going on and I am not excluding myself on that one. All my self-flogging and wishing I wasn’t such a social media butterfly fades when I continue to realize how helpful it is in connecting me with other #Catholics, #Cathmedia, #prolife, #Christian, artsy, Richmond and newsy folks.

Some of my favorite #Catholic Tweeps out there:

*Patrick Madrid @patrickmadrid - Someone gave me a one hour, succinct Patrick Madrid apologetics talk on CD and it woke me.
*Jennifer Fulweiler @conversiondiary - My patron saint is Elizabeth Ann Seton. I have always been so drawn to the stories of Catholic converts.
*Dan Sealana @CatholicDan
*Thomas Smith @Gen215
*Planet Catholic @planetcatholic - Make sure to visit The Catholic Guide, a Catholic wiki!
*Jeff Miller @CurtJester

If I forgot anyone... I know I will mention them later, but I’m sorry if I missed you this time around!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One month until freedom.

A four year old lives in me and she hates Halloween. Every year I remind her that it can be a great holiday for expressing creativity, for finding new activities to do with friends, and that CANDY seems to be the biggest theme of All Hallow’s Eve. She cannot be comforted and I don’t blame her.

I was young, probably four, when Halloween found a spot on my blacklist. I know now that my dad was volunteering with a haunted house project that tried to scare kids away from using drugs (I don’t follow the logic on that...) that year. He needed to check up on something on site, or he was just excited to show me on what he had worked.

SCARED/SCARRED for life! The ghoul sounds, the cold darkness, the screams, the creepy laughing and loud noises run on a loop when I review that memory every Halloween. Never have I understood why people enjoy scary movies and my soul aches when Halloween noises cross my ears.

The stores were practically orange back in August and we’re only one more month away from a Halloween sale blow out. I’ll enjoy the autumn and ease into the chillier days, but I will not indulge in the one holiday I wish I could sleep through.
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