Thursday, October 30, 2014

Confession: I Like the Duggars, Okay?

I like the Duggars, okay? Sue me. 19 Kids and Counting is my guilty pleasure show. I don't watch much TV (seriously, I have Roku in my bedroom but that's mostly used for watching this show and free movies on Amazon Prime) but I love me some Duggars episodes. I'm not the only one in this house either. I might've sort of gotten my mom hooked on it as well. We maybe sort of get together on Wednesday afternoons/evenings to watch the previous day's episode because I might've sort of purchased the season 14 TV pass on Amazon Prime. Maybe. Okay, fine... I totally did. Seeing Jill (Duggar) Dillard's courtship and engagement to her (now) husband, Derick Dillard, was interesting to us so we were hooked

See, we'd never really seen a courtship like theirs... or a family like the Duggars. Say what you will about them (and some of you have some very strong opinions about the Duggars) but the way they live their lives is fascinating to us. The courtship between Jill and Derick was actually kind of awesome to watch. That's not to say that I want my future fella and I to do things like they did. I respect their decisions to always have a chaperone with them, to not have their first kiss until their wedding day, to do side hugs and avoid frontal hugs, to not hold hands until they were engaged, etc. I understand why they chose to not do those things. I totally get it... but it's not all for me.

I'm definitely the "this is the line, don't cross it" type of gal when it comes to the physical side of a relationship... and that line is very specific and very "hands off the merchandise, mister." I love giving hugs (ask anyone who's ever met me; I greet and say my goodbyes with a hug) and I won't push my fella's hand away if he wants to hold it. That is fine with me. I do occasionally hang out with my guy friends one-on-one when we go out to lunch or go do something else but I also know they respect me and my boundaries; they're my bros and I trust them or else I wouldn't be alone with them. So, basically: I don't use a chaperone because 1) I'm 29 years old (yes, I know I don't look it) and 2) I trust those with whom I hang out with one-on-one. However, if I didn't trust someone or didn't know them all that well, I would honestly not be alone with them and would ask someone to come along. Call that person a chaperone if you'd like. Will I wait until my wedding day to share my first kiss with my future husband? Probably not but who knows. I'm certainly not knocking the practice but I can't see it happening for me personally.

Yes, I know the Duggars are Baptist Christians who are part of the Quiverfull movement. Yes, I know they are Christians who take the Bible 100% literally and believe in Creationism (and that the earth was literally created in the span of 7 days; Jessa Duggar has come under fire for her remarks on this subject recently). Yes, I know some of their beliefs are a little "extreme" in the eyes of us Catholics, but I respect the fact that they do everything for God and with God in mind. Again, I'm not endorsing their lifestyles or beliefs but I think they have their hearts in the right place.

As I was reading Growing Up Duggar (written by the four eldest Duggar daughters), I agreed with some of the advice they gave. I went into the book expecting it to be on only romantic relationships but was pleasantly surprised to see they covered everything from the way you see yourself and the relationship with you have with your parents and siblings to your relationship with the world and with culture. If you were to ask me to list everything I agreed with, this blog post would be a smidge longer but let's say that some of the advice they gave (such as trying to work problems out with positive communication instead of answering in a passive aggressive or negative manner) sounded solid. There were many times where I went "eh, yeah... that is definitely a Protestant idea" or "okay, I see where you're coming from but maybe this is a bit much for me, personally" but there was some good stuff in there.

One of the biggest things that I took out of the book was my own relationship with God and my faith. It challenged me (in a good way) to see where I could improve it. Can I quote Bible verses off of the top of my head and tell you exactly where to find it? Nope. But I do keep a notebook full of my favorite saint quotes and I can recite some parts of the Bible from memory because I incorporate them into my daily prayers (through the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Other things I need to work on:
- doing more things with in God in mind and not worrying so much about offending others because they don't agree with my beliefs. The people pleaser in me is still letting that go.
- (generally) continually growing in my knowledge of the faith. Enter Theology M.A.
- remembering to live out the Beatitudes in my every day life (♪ oh, Bl. Pier Giorgio... I need your help... ♪).
- getting more involved in evangelization efforts (even if that means simply speaking out against the lies I hear about the Church instead of keeping my mouth shut out of fear of being wrong or misleading someone... which goes back to #2 on this list).
- keep praying for my future spouse (though I started doing this way before the Duggar girls recommended it).

I have had some issues with Duggar related news in the past (such as when future son-in-law Ben Seewald -- who is marrying Jessa this weekend -- spoke out against Catholicism with some very erroneous "facts") but that is to be expected from those who haven't learned the truth about our faith. Am I going to hate him for it? Nope. I'm not a fan but I'm going to pray he one day sees that he was wrong in claiming certain things about Catholicism that he clearly knows squat about.

I know some of you cannot stand the Duggars and that's okay. We all have different filters and we see things differently. I see the Duggars as a mostly harmless (like the Earth... quick, name that novel/movie!) Christian family who is all about God and loving their neighbor in their unique way. They chose to follow "traditional gender roles" (as some anti-Duggar feminists like to say) and have the women be the caretakers of the children and home while the men are the breadwinners. The women choose to have long hair and wear only skirts and dresses. They choose not watch kissing in movies... to not listen to music that isn't classical, Celtic (read: instrumental) or hymns... to not watch TV... etc etc.

Again, I'm not agreeing with everything they do... but would I rather watch their show than watch something like Keeping Up with the Kardashians or The Jersey Shore (is that still a thing?) You bet! And, before anyone takes offense because you like those shows, I'm not saying you are a terrible, terrible person for liking them. I'm simply stating that I choose to watch this show because it's a whole lot more wholesome than most of what's on TV and that is more my taste. Remember my Proud to Be a Prude blog post from nearly 3 years ago? Still entirely true about me. I still cannot sit through a sex scene and will physically remove myself from the room if I can. Go ahead and read that blog post to find out why if you don't already know.

In a weird way the Duggars have inspired me to make some positive changes in my life. As a result of reading Growing Up Duggar I've chosen to:
- spend less time online (especially social media) and spend more time reading and doing more physical activities, like dancing to exercise... which the Duggars wouldn't approve of.
- make some improvements in my relationship with my mother. Our almost entirely opposite temperaments can sometimes cause some miscommunications.
- improve my relationship with God... which is an on-going progress that we should all strive for anyway. I've gotten better at trusting Him but I still occasionally catch myself worrying about things I know I shouldn't worry about because He will never lead me down the wrong path.

For these reasons, I will continue to watch their show and wish them all the best. Do I recommend this book? I actually don't know. I personally enjoyed it and I did get some positive things out of it but I also know it won't be everyone's cup of tea. If you're curious, there's obviously nothing salacious in it so you're golden there. When it comes to faith related matters, I'd look else since I am obviously not a Baptist Christian. Still, it's interesting to get to know their beliefs a little better because what we believe that makes us who we are.

So, there you have it. That is my little confession and sort-of (but not really) review of the book. You Duggars fans will enjoy it (even if you, like me, don't agree with faith based matters).

Okay, it's... 1:10 a.m. on the 30th and I should be in bed! Oops! Long day tomo-- err, today.

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

St. Jude, My Reversion, and Earthquakes

Happy St. Jude (and St. Simon!) feast day! St. Jude is a huge reason why I reverted to the Faith so I thought I'd share the short (read: not detailed) story of how that happened.

Originally posted: October 28, 2010
"First off, I would not be here, writing this blog entry, if it wasn't for his intercession. A couple of years ago (side note: summer of 2006), when I was so sick that things like 'she won't make it' and 'she has little time' were thrown around, I began to pray. It's something I hadn't done in years since I'd drifted away from the Church during my teens. Since my mom was/is a huge St. Jude devotee I decided to ask his intercession. That was the beginning of my reversion... He has since interceded for me, as well as for many of my friends, countless time and I wholeheartedly recommend his novena whenever you're in a bind. I have never, ever, been let down and I don't doubt that if you ask his intercession, and if it's God's will, your prayers will be answered."

Wondering how St. Jude's statue got chipped? Here's the shortened version of the post explaining the story (originally posted: December 27, 2007):
"This story takes place in mid-January 1994. I was about 8 years old at the time and I'd never experienced a real big earthquake before... I felt my dad picking me up from my bed, very abruptly, and I opened my eyes to see (and feel) everything shaking violently. Things were falling off the walls, glasses and china was breaking everywhere, if you've ever experienced an earthquake, you know what I'm talking about. Since this earthquake was a really big one, the lights went out almost immediately after the intense aftershocks started... I don't remember too many details about what happened during the shaking except that the statue of St. Jude fell as soon as we (my parents and I) reached the doorway and were safe from anything falling on us... I was talking to my mom about... the St. Jude statue in my room. I very faintly remember (or think I remember) St. Jude's statue falling as soon as we got under the doorway and my mom confirmed it. Apparently, while all other things were falling around us there are three things that didn't fall: the statue of Santo NiƱo, the statue of St. Jude and the big framed picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe which was up on my bedroom wall. Now, the earthquake was a 6.7 on the richter scale, it was pretty intense. Windows shattered just by the shaking, yet the picture did not fall or get hurt in any way... My mom says they (saints and Our Lady) were all looking out for us... We haven't experienced an earthquake that intense since, thank God, but every time we have experienced smaller earthquake (and/or aftershocks from nearby earthquakes) my mom grabs the St. Jude statues without even thinking about it. My dad grabs the statue of Our Lady and my mom grabs St. Jude... if I don't get to him before she does."

And those are my stories. I hope those who haven't gotten acquainted with St. Jude will look into his story. Never be afraid to ask for his intercession; he's interceded for me and my friends in big ways in the past. :D

Alright, I have spiritual direction in an hour or so and I need to vamoose. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Memorare: When Life Doesn't Make Sense

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary..."

I have no idea how I managed to survive the weirdest 24 hours (from the 19th through the 20th) of my life while on a roller coaster of emotions. A professor accused me of willful, deliberate plagiarism on an annotated bibliography and was quite rude about it (he has since apologized for his words; it was all one big, ugly misunderstanding). I studied my brains out (figuratively, of course) over the course of days for an exam that I was certain I would pass with flying colors... only to find out that the professor (same one who accused me of plagiarism) gave me a 72%. I have no way of figuring out why (he closes off his exams) so I'm stuck. But, it's all okay. I'll figure things out.

"... that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided..."

I got rid of my old desk (which I'd had for 20+ years). It was the same desk on which my first PC sat. The same desk on which many tears fell during my teen years due to bullying. It's where I sat when I got those emails from a former classmate telling me to kill myself; telling me I was worthless. It's where I started this blog... where the first draft of my first novel was written... It was where I sat when I did my research when I first reverted back to the Faith. Most importantly, it was the desk that I assembled with my father when I was a child... and that I disassembled (by myself) as an adult. In a weird way, it felt as if I was letting go of the past and all that held me back; that it was the final sentence written on that chapter of my life. I feel as if our Heavenly Mother has been (and will continue to be) by my side as I prepare for the new chapter.

"... Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother..."

My godson, Neil, was born. Alli (his mama) is a rock star. However, I worried about the labor as it took quite a long time. I slept with the phone next to me... took it everywhere I went (and I'm so not a phone person)... and checked in with Dustin (the dada, lol) throughout the day. I sent the Memorare prayer to Dustin during the labor so that he and Alli could pray it together while we all waited for little Neil to be born. It's the least I could do (besides pray) from across the country.

"... to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful..."

I realized something (okay, a couple of things) that I didn't like about myself and some things I do. I get discouraged easily... but only briefly before I find a positive spin that motivates me. I worry... but I've been learning to trust God more so the worry hasn't lasted very long recently. The negatives are bad habits I picked up (from observation) as a child but that I've been working on breaking as an adult (I'm getting there!)

"... O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions but in thy mercy hear and answer me..."

At the end of the 24 hours (and I have omitted some more personal things), I'm surprised that I survived without a panic attack or more tears being shed. Besides the Memorare prayer, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) kept running through my mind. Even though I was bombarded with obstacles, none of it seemed important in the "my life is over" sense. If I don't pass my courses with my, ahem, lovely professor, fine. I'll retake them. If I have to stick around for an extra semester, I'll do it... though I'm really hoping I can pull off at least B-'s in my courses this semester. If my grades stink too much for grad school (for this particular subject), I'll stay at the SLPA level. That was my initial goal anyway; work as an SLPA for a while and then go for my Theology MA. I'll be able to do exactly what I want to do (help carry out the treatment plans for the children with speech disorder) with the SLPA license.

I don't know what my future holds... but I'm okay with that. I don't think I'd want to know anyway. Though life (read: school.. and some other things) is difficult at the moment, I wouldn't trade it for an uncomplicated one. God is preparing me for whatever He has in store for me so I have to tough it out for a while. I believe these trials are there for a reason I do not know or understand but I trust Him completely. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..." It was one heck of a 24 hour period but I'll be okay. I know that God and Mama Mary have my back and that's more than enough for me.

"Amen."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Social Media: Over-sharing and Disconnecting

First, happy feast of St. Teresa of Avila. As a writer, she's an inspiration. As a student, her feast day will always be tied to the day I was officially accepted to Utah State University for the program I'm currently in. She was one of the saints that have been with my throughout my reversion and one that I've learned a lot from. :D

Now that that has been said... I wanted to share something a friend once said to me. This friend made a surprisingly accurate comment about me -- I share a lot but I don't really share much. Re-read that if you have to. Still not getting it? See, as an introvert who doesn't really talk much in person, I tend to "talk" a lot on social media... like on Twitter. I reply, I engage, I share. Same goes for my blog. I share a lot... but, as some of you may have noticed, there are some off-limit topics. I'm pretty much like that in person as well. My relationships are the most off-limit topic both on- and offline. Don't ask because I will either make a joke about it or simply change the topic. Stuff that goes on between my mom and I? Off-limits. Stuff like that I won't share... but I do share other things.

Watching a futbol match? You bet I'm going to share my comments. I got the most RTs during the World Cup for a reason folks (I over-share my "feels" when it comes to futbol). Something school or faith related? I'll share to an extent; I'll share what I feel comfortable sharing. Randomness? Have you seen my tweets? lol. Most are random. So, yes, I do share a lot... but I don't really share much.

Lately, I haven't been doing much of it* (compared to other times). Yes, I'm approaching 100k tweets... but I've had that account for almost 7 years now. I share less blogging (obviously) because I've been so busy with school and trying to figure out a slew of things going on with me. That's going to change in less than two months (God willing...) but that's because I've decided on a new plan for my social media usage.

As some of you have noticed, I've started to disconnect. I reply to tweets and DMs less often. Those who text me have noticed that I take longer to reply (seriously, I can go all day without even looking at my phone). Emails take hours (or even a day or two) as opposed to minutes to reply. Basically, I made a conscience decision to be more "off the grid"... and it's been hard. At the same time, I remind myself that a lot of what I do share is pointless so I try to refrain from doing it. Again, hard but I'm taking baby steps.

As I said, I'm very much an introvert (and most of my CA friends have moved away) so a lot of my socializing is done through technology. I do snail mail some friends but I still connect mostly online and through text messages. Because I'm so connected, it's hard to disconnect... but it's been good for me. I've slipped a couple of times but am mostly on track where I want to be in terms of my social media use. It helps that I'm sometimes too busy with schoolwork. 

I've heard of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) syndrome and I do agree that it's very real... but I also feel like I've become disinterested in what I "miss" online. I don't feel the urge to go through all the tweets I've missed. I know that I can always go to an individual's profile and look up their tweets if I want/need to. My closest friends know how to best get a hold of me away from Twitter and social media... and most do. If I need to talk to someone (either for advice, for a pep talk, or a quick chat) and they're too far away, I'll use text or Google Talk. I'm not much of a phone person so it's usually a quick message through Google Talk. I'm so disinterested in my phone that, despite it being an "old" (read: more than 3 years old) smartphone (Android), I have no desire to upgrade it unless it decides to quit on me.

I don't know if I'm either burnt out on social media (so much of it), I'm simply too busy, my independence is showing, or if it's just my age (and I'm not that old; hush, peanut gallery... you know who you are :-P), but I just don't have much of an interest in social media as I once did. I get my Catholic news delivered to my inbox and I'm subscribed to my favorite blogs so I'm not missing out there.

I have a bigger desire to blog and connect through this platform. Instead of "micro-blogging" on Twitter, you're going to see a lot more posts and a lot less tweets. I might step up the updated on the blog's FB page when I am too busy to blog (like for the next two weeks; so many exams and research papers due...) but it'll still be connected to the blog that way.

I've really missed blogging the way I used to so I'm going to be returning to those "roots." I could blame Twitter for the decline in blogging (because it's so much easier to tweet news than to wait to share it with everyone in a post) but I won't. That was my own decision... just like it's my decision to revert to my old ways prior to my excessive use of Twitter. lol.

Will this help some of the random over-sharing? It's possible. I'm a lot more conscience of what I share on the blog so the randomness may subside somewhat but I'm also kind of a dork (again, no comment from the peanut gallery) so I'll have my random posts sprinkled in from time to time. lol. 

Anyway, just wanted to share this. ;) Now, if you'll excuse me, I have two exams to study for (first one is on Friday, second next Monday). :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Busy Catholic: Break Up the Rosary

Isn't my custom made rosary pretty?

No, I'm not breaking up with the Rosary, I'm simply breaking it up to fit my crazy busy schedule. Wait, I'm not starting this blog post the way I wanted...

Hi! Welcome to another edition of "Emmy is procrastinating on her homework, only it's not really procrastination because she's actually ahead of schedule." ;) Yeah, I have no idea how that happened but I'm actually on top of my stuff... and even a bit ahead of time. I'm going to keep the momentum going (there's a chance I can finish a class or two early) while I have the motivation. However, I can take a break from that to share something that my spiritual director shared with me regarding the Rosary since it is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

I don't think I have to tell you how important it is to pray the Rosary. I'm sure I don't have to tell you about how Pope St. Piux IX said:
"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world."

... how St. Pio of Pietrelcina (aka Padre Pio) said:
"The Rosary is the 'weapon' for these times."

... and how Ven. Abp. Fulton Sheen said:
"The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."
If you haven't talked to our Mama lately, I highly encourage you to do so. If you, like me, have said to yourself, "well, I want to but I don't have the time to put aside 15-25 minutes to pray the Rosary", may I make a suggestion that my SD recommended to me? Break up the Rosary into decades throughout the day.

I used to lament that I didn't have the time to carve out a solid 15-25 minutes to dedicate to praying the Rosary during the day. I honestly don't even have time to make myself something to eat some days; I'm so grateful to my mom who understands that there are days that I'm so swamped, I need help making sure I eat (do y'all understand part of the weight loss now?) Yeah, this program is that intense. I can get morning prayers done because I have gotten into the habit of not leaving my bed until prayers are said. Night prayers are said before I turn off the lights and zonk out. Those are easy to do but during the day it's harder. When I brought it up with my SD, he said "break it up throughout the day." It's logical yet... I didn't think of it.

How many of you have honestly not considered/thought about doing this; about breaking it up throughout the day? I think I was so used to praying all 5 decades in one sitting that I didn't even consider the fact that, yes, I could break it up when I'm at my busiest. I do take 5 minute breaks from coursework every now and then (read: every hour or so). I check Twitter and/or emails. I go to the kitchen and pick up a plate or bowl of whatever my mom made for me. I get up and stretch before continuing, etc. Praying a decade during my short break can easily be done.

I actually have time to pray the Rosary in one sitting today but I know it'll be harder later this week into next week when my next round of exams start. Not only do I have regular lectures and assignment, I also have a fairly large research paper (which I opted to do by myself instead of in a group) due towards the end of this month, AND I have to my observational hours (a minimum of 100 hours are needed in order to get a SLPA license in California) to do. I haven't even mentioned that I have a stomach ultrasound on Friday (side note: prayers, please; I hope we get answers) and that I have a quick trip out of the country to make over the weekend. Busy, busy, busy. Still, I know I can't be too busy to catch up with my Mama. What a terrible daughter would I be if I ignored everything she's done for me lately?

Anyway, this busy Catholic just wanted to share this suggestion with y'all. :D

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pray the Rosary before I get sidetracked by something. :D

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D