Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Year this Nerd Persevered


I believe this year was the year I persevered. I know we all had a hard year; I've seen so many people celebrating the fact that the secular year is over with because of how exhausting 2013 was. However, despite the challenges, I think I made some really good steps to bettering my future. If last year was the year that I faced my fears and moved on, this was the year that I actually made things happen (as opposed to just hoping I would get the guts to change things) no matter how frightening the changes were.

To change from a career I'd always wanted (writing) to one that I had never even considered took a lot of faith as well as guts. I had some intense months of prayer and spiritual direction in order to get to this place. I was so reluctant to let go of writing (because it was what I wanted) but, being practical, I knew the instability of the career was not good for me. The Holy Spirit used two important people in my life to simultaneously lead me down the Speech-Language Pathology path and, after my SD told me what I needed to hear, I bit the bullet. I applied to only one school (which is the best from what I've heard from former students), was accepted, and now I'm waiting to begin my classes this coming May.

As I am not one to give up on my dreams so easily, I am still writing and have worked on two novels (both of which will be published next year) this year. I have a couple more in mind, which is exciting. How I will do it with SLP (especially since I have to get some hours in in order to start working as an assistant upon graduation), I am not sure... but it's a challenge I am very much looking forward to?

I think the best thing that could've happened to me this year was finally find the right spiritual director for me. Fr. G is a Godsend. I needed someone who pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped (and is still helping) me get out of the spiritual dryness I'd been feeling on and off for a couple of months. He's helped me out so much that I can already see the difference within me... and it's so wonderful. My wish is that everyone finds someone like him (someone who will inspire you to be your best and to get closer to God) for themselves.

One last (big) thing: Y'all know I started the year really sick. I got so sick (and so thin) that I received the Anointing of the Sick in May. It got quite scary for a while but I never let go of my faith nor of God and He saw me through. I'm still in recovery but I am in a better place than I was before. I think that that pretty much sums my year.

I was thrown so many obstacles this year (change of career, health issues, figuring out my vocation, financial, etc.) but I never let go of God. He was truly my rock this year. He's always been my rock but I can't begin to express how grateful I am to Him for His constant presence in my life. Looking back, I can't remember the last time I truly felt that He gave me the tools I needed to overcome everything that could've potentially (figuratively) drowned me. Though there were a few weeks when I didn't feel close to Him, I know He never left my side.

I've said this all year but I truly feel like God used this year to show me that I am ready for whatever new chapter 2014 will bring me. I got the courage to face a lot of things that I was afraid of. I've had so many people tell me that I couldn't do things over the years that I was afraid to try them. This year, that all changed... and I am so glad that I was able to show myself that I could do them. With every little thing that I conquered, my confidence grew as did my love for God, Mama Mary (wow, what a year for my relationship with her; I love her more than words can express), and for my heavenly buddies who helped me get to where I am.

Yes, 2013 was incredibly difficult but I was blessed in so many ways that the good greatly outweighed the bad. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me in 2014. I can already feel like it's going to be a big year for me... and not just because I'll be entering the last year of my 20s halfway through the year.

Anyway, that was my year. I want to thank y'all for sharing it with me. Thank you for your prayer, your support, and the love y'all have shown me. Yes, I'm getting a bit sappy but y'all know I'm like that. lol.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2014. I can't wait to see what new adventures God has in store for us. :D

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

And the Patron Saint for 2014 Is...

St. Raphael the Archangel

Y'all chosen St. Raphael the Archangel as this blog's patron for 2014... as well as the saint some of you apparently want me to pray for when y'all have prayer requests. Interesting. ;) Thank y'all for your votes. I hope that St. Raphael the Archangel will help bring us all closer to God in the upcoming year.

And if you're wondering how the votes ended up being distributed, this was the final result:


Now, if y'all will excuse me... I have two days (today and tomorrow) to do my annual clean-a-thon; I lost yesterday because I was sick in bed. Seriously, I slept 19 hours and couldn't even keep water down for the first 16 hours of the day. Please pray that the worse is behind me. :)

I shall be back tomorrow for my annual end of year post. ;)

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


Friday, December 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 12: Blog Anniversary Edition



-- 1 --
As many of you know, Christmas Day is also this blog's anniversary. However, I don't think my blogging anniversary is bigger than the reason for the season (Happy Birthday, Jesus!) so I didn't mention it on the post I wrote that day. Anyway, this year marked the 6th anniversary of this blog (it was created before midnight, on the 25th). Crazy. Even crazier to think about how much I've grown in the past 6 years... and how I've blogged for the majority of my 20s. I wonder how many more years I can keep it up...


-- 2 --
Some of you who read Monday's blog post have been wondering if I went through with wearing a mantilla to Christmas Mass (I have been asked since the day of) and the answer is: YES! It felt so good to not only attend Mass (haven't gone the past years due to illness or transportation issues) but to also wear the mantilla. I felt a bit self-conscious at first (due to previous experience) but, thankfully, the parishioners where I attend Mass are so lovely that I felt at peace. In fact, I saw two other veiling ladies (a mother and her young daughter) and another mother said to her little girls "oh, look! she's veiling!" in a manner that made me feel really nice. Also, who knew mantillas were such guy magnets? I'm talking to you, dude who kept looking at me throughout Mass a few pews in front of me. 'Sup? lol.

-- 3 --
This Christmas marked the 5th one we celebrated without my father (he died in mid 2009). Though it was hard, it was the first time that we weren't sad little pandas. Of course we still feel his death but we can now look back (and talk about him) in a way that celebrates his life instead of mourning his passing. I'm calling it a Christmas Day miracle.

-- 4 --
Is it weird that I was kind of bummed that I couldn't do a What I Learned Wednesday post this week? Yep. I won't be able to next Wednesday either as it's New Year's Day and I try to save those days for other things. I have a lot of awesome things to share but I must wait a couple of days. You'll see the post eventually... and you'll see why I felt like a kid on Christmas when I learned something about the faith (on my own!) that I had confirmed as true. ;)

-- 5 --
I finally got through the novena of this blog's patron saint for 2013, Mary, Undoer of Knots. I finished it (and two others) on Christmas Eve. It was a hard one to get through. I basically had something go wrong on almost every single day that I did the novena. It was like a mini-version of the 54 Day Rosary Novena in which everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. I'm proud of myself for sticking it out though I was tempted to stop a couple of times. Seriously, I almost stopped on the last day as I felt faint, I was sweating cold, and I felt like my anxiety was out of control while I prayed it in front of the tabernacle. Still, I stuck it out and I would do it again... and most likely will.

-- 6 --
Friendly reminder that it's STILL CHRISTMAS. Yes, I had to bold and capitalize it. I know that (in Los Angeles) KOST 103.5 stopped playing music yesterday but it's still Christmas time for us Catholics. Christmas doesn't end (at least not liturgically) until the Octave of the Epiphany (the Baptism of the Lord) but it will continue being Christmastide until Candlemas. Who's up for celebrating until February 2nd? lol.

-- 7 --

And here's one of my favorite works of art of baby Jesus, found of tumblr. I wish I could frame this. If anyone knows who the original artist is, let me know!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Anyway, I'm starting my annual clean-a-thon super late this year (today!) and I have less than 5 days to finish so... I need to go get started like right now. ;)

I hope y'all had a lovely Christmas Day. :D

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!


I just wanted to post a quick message and wish y'all a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for sticking around for as long as you have. I pray that reflecting on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring you all love, happiness, and hope.

Sincerely,



Monday, December 23, 2013

Mantilla Monday

No, this lovely lady is not me. This is Cristina of Filling My Prayer Closet, who was kind enough to let me use one of her pictures for this post. Thank you! :D

I don't know if Mantilla Monday is an actual thing but it totally should!

Those who have been readers of this blog since the beginning know that I am a huge proponent of wearing mantillas (or chapel veils, if you want to use the English word for it). In fact, I've written a couple of posts on the subject throughout the years. Well, I've at least mentioned wearing them over the years. Some of you new readers may not be familiar with those posts so... Mantilla Monday is born. This is probably a one-shot post but I am still keeping the title because I like alliteration. ;)

Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of my paternal grandmother and my paternal Aunt Lola wearing their mantillas and taking me to church with them when we visited them in Mexico. It didn't happen often but the memories of the beautiful church where my father was baptized (as well as our trip to Plateros where the Santo NiƱo de Atocha is venerated) are forever burned in my mind. It's kind of funny to think about how easily these memories have stuck, especially since neither of my parents were very religious while I was growing up; I didn't get much Catholicism in my life in my formative years.

Fast forward several years (and only two or three after my reversion), I discovered the beauty of mantillas. I've unfortunately not worn them as regularly as I would have liked because of some comments and the looks I received. I was often the youngest (by decades) who wore one to Mass and was looked at as if I were an alien. I received some dirty looks at my alma mater when I wore one to the only Red Mass I attended as an undergrad. I didn't like the attention so I stopped wearing them around 2011. I've always been somewhat on the shy side so the attention I was getting used to make me super uncomfortable. (side note: any attention focused on me still gives me nightmares and I honestly hate it but at least I don't have panic attacks over it like I used to.) I do cover my head with berets (my go-to choice for hats) but it's not the same. Because I've missed it dearly, I've decided that starting Christmas Day I am going to go back to veiling. And I know I won't be the only one; I've actually seen a number of young women (especially Millennials) beginning to veil and it makes my "traddie" heart happy.

Actually, scratch that, I'll be veiling not only at Mass but also when I go do my daily silent prayers in front of the tabernacle. I just think it's a beautiful way to show God how much I love Him. Fish Eaters (I can feel some of you cringing, lol) has a lovely explanation as why veiling is awesome here; I'm not even going to attempt to do it because I tend to write based on my personal thoughts and feelings rather than cite legit sources. lol.

I will say that "women are insignificant in the eyes of the Church and thus must not be seen or heard from", or any of those bogus claims "radical feminists" spew out when they're trashing the tradition of wearing mantillas are so off. I feel as I, in my own little way, showing God my love and respect for Him by wearing a mantilla. Also, on a more practical level, it keeps my eyes from wandering and helps me focus on what's important. Remember how I've been easily distracted lately? I have a feeling this will help!

If you're wondering if I will be posting pictures, the answer is: sorry, but no. In recent months I learned that a picture of me in the mantilla my father gifted me right before he passed had been circulating through many "traditional" Catholic sources (such as Regina Magazine - they were kind enough to take it down when I asked - and another uber popular Catholic blog) without my permission. Since the threats I received online were pretty scary (and had to take my photos down as per instructions), I was not happy about this. Sorry, y'all. You'll just have to trust me when I tell y'all I've worn my mantilla to Mass. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with y'all. :D

I know this week will be hectic for most of us so, in case I don't "see" some of you online: I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year filled with love, laughter, and all that good stuff. If you're sticking around throughout the holidays, I have a bunch of new posts planned all this week. Oh yes, I do. lol. ;)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go try to catch up with my Narnia reading before the month ends. ;)

OH! And please don't forget to vote in the patron saint poll on the right hand side! Only a couple more days left before it ends. ;)

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Name is Emmy and I'm Easily Distra -- Squirrel!

I found this picture on tumblr. If it's yours, let me know so I can credit it to you. :)

No, I haven't been blogging because of the fact that I am easily distracted. I haven't been blogging because I haven't had the time this week. Thankfully I have time now so... here it goes.

I was talking to my spiritual director about how I am so very easily distracted when I am praying... and especially when it comes to silent prayer. I know this isn't a new thing for anyone but, goodness, it really frustrates me when I can't get peace and quiet when I pray. I have my system for praying (I pray in the morning whilst I cook breakfast since it's my quiet time; at night when I'm the last one awake so I get quiet time) but even that's been shaken up lately so I have to get used to all the distractions while praying.

I've been trying to attend daily Mass (and have failed thus far; darn exhaustion) and/or at least to get some time in adoration almost every day this past week. I don't go to my home parish since it's a bit of a drive but I do go to the nearest parish because of the time crunch. This is just a personal goal of mine that I hope to continue for the foreseeable future.

The first time I went (Tuesday), I was there maybe 10 minutes before some dude started playing "My Favorite Things" on the keyboard in the church. Yes, inside and in front of the altar. Apparently the school children are rehearsing for some Christmas concert because the kiddos starting going in shortly after. I was maybe two decades into the Rosary when this happened and it was, to put it mildly, annoying.

Yesterday I had a good 40 minutes-ish in front of the tabernacle. I was fine until a fly decided to make it its personal mission to bug me at least half of my time there. It would either try to land on my hands or on my knee. I am sure the person sitting on the other side thought there was something wrong with me because I was waving my hands and arms while holding the Rosary beads. When it wasn't the fly, it was two women talking way too loudly inside the church. Oh, distractions... I managed to leave before the kiddos began rehearsing once again. (side note: I think parishes should let their parishioners know about these things so we can avoid going when there is noise going on.)

Today, I didn't get a chance to go at all because apparently they kiddos were let out early and there were too many cars/parents trying to make their way into the parking lot. Winnie the Pooh!

I hate to admit it but my patience does get a workout when I'm in a church and people either talk really loudly while others are praying... or they decide they simply must pass through to the other side of the pew (while I'm kneeling and deep in prayer) instead of walking around to the other side. I think these things qualify as pet peeves. I am not so much distracted when children babble and squeal because I know the little ones don't know any better but, oy with the adults.

At home it's pretty much the same. Sometimes the kids (when on break for the holidays or summer) get a little too loud too early. Sometimes neighbors are ridiculously loud for whatever reason. Sometimes my phone goes off (though I mostly have it on vibrate these days) while I'm in the middle of a novena prayer. Other times, I just think I won't get distracted and simply mute the TV or push the laptop to the side... only to get distracted by the images. Though I've made an effort to remove any temptations for distractions while I'm at home, I don't always follow through. I'm working on it! lol.

Since I've been doing more silent prayer, the distractions often scare the heck out of me. It'll be very quiet and then, all of a sudden, something very loud will go off and scare me. I know what (or who) can be behind these distractions... but that still doesn't help the fact that I get annoyed to the point where I become a grump.

My temper has been getting quite the work out this Advent as well. Those who know me well know that it takes a lot to get me to the point where I snap. Unfortunately, it takes simple distractions to get me in a foul mood these past two weeks. I will feel calm and light after leaving adoration and then something will happen that ruins my mood for quite a while. Or, like I said, I'll be praying and a distraction will interrupt my "flow" and then I am a grump until I leave. We can all guess who may behind that (as Advent or Lent are the times when he is trying to pull us away from God; well, more than usual).

Anyway, I'm sharing this because I'd love to hear how some of you deal with the distractions whilst praying. I was given the suggestion of listening to music (like Gregorian chants, classical music, choral music, etc) since it oftentimes helps me focus better on whatever it is I'm doing. It could work but what about the times when I can't have music on? Anyone have any tips that can help a sistah out? I'm open to (almost) everything. I refuse to be that person who tells people to "hush" every time they make noise so no one bother suggesting it. lol.

Leave me a comment here, on Twitter, or on the FB page; I'd love to get some ideas. :)

Okay, I am going to try to get some of my prayers done early (three novenas going on until the 24th; don't try this at home... unless you want to) and then reading for a bit. ;)

I hope y'all have had a great week thus far. :D Oh! And don't forget to vote for the 2014 patron saint. Poll is on the right hand side. :D

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Help Me Choose This Blog's Patron Saint for 2014!

It's that time of the year again; the time when my indecisiveness is most obvious and I need your help to pick me pick this blog's patron saint for the following year. I had no idea how much bigger Mama Mary's role would be in my life this year but I was grateful to have her as my patron for the year.

If you're wondering why I do this: the idea is that you lovely blog readers help me figure out a patron saint to study and adopt as my patron saint for the year. Yes, this means that when you vote, you are also telling me which saint you think you be good for not only myself but for those of you who regularly ask for prayers and novenas. I've done it every year except 2007 when I started the blog.

I think it's quite funny how this blog's patroness for the year also ended up having a connection to our new pope... even before we knew that Papa Bene would step down. Pope Francis is a devotee of Our Lady Undoer of Knots... who is also tied to Bavaria AND Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Good job, blog readers (friends)!

Anyway, if y'all would be so lovely and please vote for next year's blog post, I'd greatly appreciate it. You can vote for as many saints as you'd like... and if two or more tie for the win, they'll both/all be co-patrons (like St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila last year). The saints were chosen based on their patronages. For writers because I'm getting my novels published in the new year, students because I return to school next year, speech therapists because that's what I'm going to school for, etc. Below are the saints I've chosen with a brief description of what they're patrons of:

- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (patron of students and youth; patron of this blog in 2008)
- Infant Jesus of Prague (patron of travellers and good health)
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- St. Andrew (patron of unmarried women)
- St. Benedict of Nursia (patron of students)
- St. Brigid of Ireland (patroness of scholars and printing presses)
- St. Drogo (patron of speech therapists)
- St. Dymphna (patroness of those who suffer from anxiety; co-patroness of this blog in 2007)
- St. Elizabeth of Hungary (patroness of people ridiculed for their piety)
- St. Francis de Sales (patron of writers)
- St. Lucy of Syracuse (patroness of writers and those who suffer from eye problems)
- St. Raphael the Archangel (patron of happy meetings, travelers, and youth)

Last day to vote is December 29th at 11:59 p.m. PST. The poll is on the right hand column (for those of you who can't see because you're reading via mobile app). Thank you in advance!

I hope y'all had a great weekend!

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe, My Family, and the '94 Northridge Earthquake

I took this picture a couple of years ago at my childhood parish around her feast day. :)

If you've been reader of this blog from the beginning, you may remember me mentioning this before but I am going to write a longer, more detailed version of this story. It's the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe so I think it's the appropriate day to do so.

My love of Our Lady started from a young age. I don't exactly remember how old I was but my parents saw the connection I had to her. I loved her and apparently I understood that she loved me before I even reached the age of reason. After a particularly curious event (which shall have to remain unknown to my readers for now; sorry), my parents decided to hang a picture of her in my room. I felt happy and at peace having her image in my room... and little did I know that the picture (and, really, Our Lady) would get me through the most terrifying event of my childhood.

I was 8 years old when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake occurred. I still remember every detail of it, even though it happened 20 years ago (next month). I remember my dad picking me up from the bed as the entire apartment shook violently. I remember being terrified as I'd never lived (and haven't since) such a powerful earthquake before. My parents and I were huddled in the middle of the apartment, under the door frames of the two bedrooms, holding onto the walls for support (and both holding onto me) because we were being thrown around with the shaking. It became pitch black before the worst of the shaking ended... but, before all the lights went out, I remember that both Our Lady and St. Jude brought comfort to us.

Almost everything was thrown off the walls and broken... except the huge framed picture of Our Lady in my room (where it still hangs to this day). Whilst everything around the room was on the floor (including other hanged photos), her picture stayed where it was, as if nothing had happened. (side note: the St. Jude statues in my room fell, but didn't break, until all three of us were safely under the door frames... and they should've been the first to fall as they are the most vulnerable to falling and breaking where they were placed.)

I was taking classes for my First Communion when this happened. My classroom at the parish was on the second floor and the entire floor (floor; not walls) collapsed. We ended up finishing up our classes in a neighboring parish and we actually did our First Communion in a huge tent that was set up in the parking lot since the parish was unsafe to use. (Earthquake happened in January and I did my First Communion that May). Despite the setback, we were still able to celebrate the occasion. Nothing -- not even a natural disaster -- would stop us from receiving such a wonderful sacrament.

I look back at what happened and how the picture stayed where it was and think about how it seems to have been a precursor to what was to come. I have had so many things jostle me around but my faith stays intact. Even though I was away from the Church from my teens through the age of 21 (and I actually reverted less than a month after my 21st birthday), I still managed to come back. My faith has gotten me through the hardest "shake up" of my life -- losing my father 4 years ago -- and still, I feel like Our Lady has stood beside me, holding my hand through it all.

It's funny how I've had such a "stormy" relationship with Our Lady for years. From my teens through about a year or so ago, I didn't feel particularly close to her because I didn't feel worthy enough to call her my Mother. I felt like I had failed her in so many ways -- especially when she interceded for me and I couldn't thank her in ways I wanted (and promised) to. I used to think to myself "how can she love me when I haven't been a good daughter?" It took me a long time to realize that she loves me despite how many times I may fail; and an even longer time to shake that feeling of not being worthy. I still don't think I am (and that could still be works of the Enemy as he hates Our Lady since she represents everything that is good and everything that he doesn't want for mankind) but knowing that she's with me (and intercedes for me) when I need her has been a great comfort in recent years.

So, that's my story. Sorry for the length but this was a post that was overdue!

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful feast day. For those of you who were lucky enough to attend a Mass, I hope your hearts were filled with as much love and joy as humanly possible. :)

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

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent Link-Up

The ever lovely Julie made this Advent link up so I am going to give it a go. I know I wrote about my Advent plans for my last post but this is more for those who like to see things in pictures. You know who you are, tl;dr crowd.

Advent Wreath

We've had our Advent wreath for a couple of years now. This year was the first that mom blessed it; previous years it had been me. I am sure we'll have this for a couple more years to come. :)

Books

I am currently reading this little booklet which I got from Aquinas and More this week (which, it seems, they're out of). As for other books, though December is typically my Jane Austen month, I'm going to move it to January. At the moment I'm rereading the Chronicles of Narnia for the *I lost count*-th time. I like to read them in chronological order so I'm currently on the fourth book, Prince Caspian. Every time I read the series my favorite changes. Right now The Horse and His Boy is my favorite but we'll see when I'm done with all of them. 

Decorations

Because we live in an apartment, we try to use the space we have to make it look bigger and thus we don't go crazy with decorations. We have the Nativity, the Advent wreath, and I'll eventually make a "Christmas tree" by stacking Christmas cards on my desk. That's about it, at least for Advent.

Favorite Movies and Music

This is my first year without cable since I was about 5 years old so I am missing all the sappy chick flicks on the Hallmark Channel (which I am sucker for). This time of year is the time on which I watch Elf, Gone with the Wind, and a number of Hallmark movies which we either own or have access to via Roku.

As for music, I am avoiding Christmas music so it's mostly classical and jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Durante, Duke Ellington, etc.) for now. There's something about the cold weather that always seems to put me in a mood for a cup of tea and some Ella Fitzgerald.

Feast Days

I'm a fan of all the major feasts that fall during the Advent period.
- St. Nicholas: one of my favorite heretic punchers. ;) I come from a traditional Hispanic family so we never did the shoe thing (though we do make a big deal out of the Epiphany) but it's something I'm keeping in mind for my future babies.
- Immaculate Conception: a favorite for obvious reasons. Today is the last day of the novena and I'm sad because it's one of my favorites to do during the year (along with the St. Andrew Christmas novena).
- Our Lady of Guadalupe: I'm part Mexican so this is a no brainer. ;) In the past couple of years, one of our neighbors (who sadly moved this year) organized this huge party to which all the neighbors in the apartment complex were invited as long as you were Catholic and/or had respect for Our Lady. She paid for the food, hired the mariachi, and everyone just celebrated big.
- St. Lucy: A couple of years ago I had a dream that I had my hair in braids and had an actual wreath with lit candles on my head, heading into a darkened church... much like many little girls do in Europe (haven't seen this in the U.S.) I'm going to attempt to bake her bread this year, too. 

The Nativity

The picture above was taken at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, out here in L.A., a couple of years ago. (Please ask before taking it and posting it elsewhere.) Ours is a bit different... and temporary. We have a "baby" Nativity because many of our neighbors who stop by have small children. Until we find one that we both agree on (mom and I have different tastes), we'll keep using it. I definitely enjoy adding to it throughout Advent.

St. Nick and Santa Claus

I'm obviously too old to believe in Santa Claus (er, I mean, he totally exists...) but I've been seeing how my friends have handled the St. Nick vs Santa Claus with their little ones. My parents allowed me to believe that Santa Claus was real until some point in elementary school (not sure when). However, they also did a good job and driving home the point that I wouldn't always get what I wanted because "Santa" sometimes couldn't get it for me. I like to think that it helped me not be selfish when it comes to Christmas presents... or presents in general. I think it's too early to know what I'll do with my own kids (if and when they come). However, I am enjoying seeing the pictures of my adopted nieces and nephews with Santa. Also, NO ONE is allowed to get me anything this year. You hear me, Angelica? Yes, I'm calling you out on the blog. lol. 

Traditions

I think I've covered much of the traditions we have already. When my dad was alive, he used to go into this amazing cooking mode (he worked for a chef for a while) so the house was always filled with delicious scents. Mom and I are still trying to set our own traditions. Oh! I have one: every year we go back and forth on attending her work's Christmas party because every year, since I was a teenager, I've had the unpleasant task of dodging creepy older men's invites to dance or chat solo, away from the crowd. Hopefully I'll get a break this year. 

Treats

HUGE food month for us. I go into baking mode so we have a lot of fattening foods in our kitchen throughout the season. Our downstairs neighbor makes delicious tamales so we get spoiled there as well. I'm hoping to use my final freelance writing check to treat some of the homeless in the area to some warm cups of coffee, tea, and other food that might be in the area. 

Weather

I screen capped this today. It was cold and rainy... and absolutely lovely despite the pain I endured when I left the house to pick up mom from work. The lows this week have been in the 30s (and it dropped to 29 earlier this week). The high didn't quite reach 56 (it was 51) but this is pretty typical Advent weather for us in Southern California. I hope to one day get myself an actual white Christmas as I have never experienced snow.

And that is all for now. See? Quick and relatively painless. ;) I hope y'all are having a good Advent thus far. :D

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Not So "Traditional" Advent

The title for this blog post will make sense at the end. Just wait it out and see. ;)

This year I decided that I was okay with not having a "traditional" Advent for a number of reasons. See, what I consider a "traditional" Advent is having an Advent wreath, a Jesse Tree, the Nativity, and doing a number of things with the family in preparing for Our Lord's birth (Christmas); a number of things that are done as a family. We are doing the Advent wreath (which mom was able to bless for the first time thanks to the USCCB having translators on their pages) and the Nativity but those aren't even done in the "traditional" way.

The reason for this is because mom and I have a whole different dynamic going on. I know each family is different but ours is still getting used to doing things different; even four years and some months after my father's death. Mom is the head of the household but, God bless her, she's just getting into the faith so a lot of the "head of household" / "father" roles fall on me because she's still learning and not as confident in taking that "lead" role. i.e. Traditionally, dads bless the Advent wreath. This year mom did it and last year I did it. Readings? I'm doing them, though I will be reading them in Spanish since my mom's more comfortable with her native tongue. As for the Nativity, I'm doing it by myself. We have no children. Jesse Tree? I'm reading the daily passages by myself.  

I'm in this weird limbo phase in life right now. I'm young enough to be called young but too old to have my behavior excused as being a product of my youth. I'm apparently old enough to be sought after for advice but young in the sense that I don't have "enough" life experience (i.e. a husband and a family of my own). I'm out of school but I've recently wrapped up my career as a freelance writer (I have one more assignment to finish this year before I'm done). I'm five months away from returning to school for a change of career and I'm sort of just waiting for "Prince Charming" to fix his GPS or to finally ask for direction... without just sitting around and waiting for him (I have my own things going on in the meantime). A lot of things that are fun to do during my favorite time of year I just can't do like everyone else does... but that's okay. 

When I saw that my Advent wasn't going to be like most people's, I thought "well, how can I make the most out of this time?" Besides attending daily Mass as often as I can and besides keeping up my prayers and the readings in the Advent calendars, what can I do? My faith has taken some hits in the past couple of weeks (mostly my trying to figure out where my priorities are) so this is the perfect time to work on that. That's for me. But what about what I can do for others? 

I've been paying attention what Pope Francis has been saying about helping the poor (including those who are poor in spirit) prior to the released of Evangelii Gaudium and reflecting on that sparked the "a-ha" moment for me. This Advent, I'm just going to "give" -- but none of it will be material.

This is the perfect time for us to reflect the love of God unto others, especially those who don't see it as easily as others. I may not have enough financial stability to help others in things they may need (i.e. food, clothes, etc.) but God has given me a great compassion and love for those who suffer that I know that there are other ways I can help. I know this will bring up comments from others (as well as being made fun of; it's happened more than once) that will make me feel terrible and even, yes, cry but it's something I'll willing to endure.

I know prayers may not seem like much to some people, but that's the only thing I can keep "giving" in which the well will never dry up. I do give when I can but when I "can't" I can always remember the saying that "prayer moves mountains" and I can always keep praying for those who need it. If I can point them in a direction (or even connect them to a person/place) that I know can help them, I'm going to do it.

I know "giving" isn't part of the "traditional" Advent season but I'm looking at it this way: as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, others prepare themselves to simply survive the season. There are people who are homeless who will be freezing in the streets, just as Our Lord was born in an undoubtedly cold stable. My hope is that the little things I do for others will bring them hope, just like the birth of Jesus gave all hope.

That's going to be my new challenge to all my readers: reflect the love of God onto others. Give them the hope that we all experience during Advent. Remind them that God always provides, even when things are to a point where they feel completely and utterly helpless. Those are my Advent plans; focus on what Advent means for us Catholics (and Christians) while helping others to do the same in ways that aren't as obvious.

Anyway, that's all for now. :) I hope you have all had a good week thus far. :D

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 11: Conquering NaNo, Thanksgiving, and Novena Edition



-- 1 --
Who finished her required 50,000 words for this year's NaNoWriMo? THIS GIRL! I'm never doing it again. lol. As I said earlier this month, I got my priorities wrong during it so I'm just not going to do it again. Anyway, I already proved to myself that I could do it in less than a month so I'm good. lol. Here's the proof (feel free to click for a bigger version):

-- 2 --
As you can see, I finished NaNo yesterday. Ever since my big brother moved to Texas, it's just mom and I so we didn't really do anything for Thanksgiving. A cooked for us (and then washed the insane amount of dishes by hand) and then we just took the day easy. Our downstairs neighbors kept us up the night before so we slept a good portion of the day. Please, don't feel sorry for us; we're so blessed to have each other that we don't worry about it being just us two for the holidays. :)

-- 3 --
As many of you have seen via Twitter, I really don't like Black Friday and refused to buy anything today. My dad used to get me up early for them when I was younger and I just didn't get the whole point. Okay, you get things on sale... but sometimes you get things cheaper on sale throughout the year. i.e. Octobers are traditionally the time in which electronics are cheaper, etc. It just seems off that the day after we give thanks (or the day on which we should give thanks), we focus on increasing our material wealth. I'm so glad mom and I are on the same page because, if she had wanted in on the sales, I would have to drive her (I am the sole driver in the house). So, I'm thankful for that. lol.

-- 4 --
Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. While I am boycotting today and, really, am trying not to buy things through Cyber Monday, there are a couple of things that we do need so I'm going to participate in Small Business Saturday. And, for the record, the only places we're buying (non-food) items from are Aquinas and More and The Catholic Company for last-minute Advent/Christmas items and cards for mom that have Mass responses that she can't memorize. See? Keeping our priorities straight. 

-- 5 --
If you're wondering why I was one of the few bloggers who didn't write a Thanksgiving blog post, it's partially because I was trying to finish NaNo and partially because I reflected on what I was Thankful for on my own. Though I missed Mass (slept through alarm because of the little sleep I got; thanks, neighbors), I'm thankful for everything God's given me and I said my prayer of Thanksgiving to Him when I was home alone. If you're in my life, I'm thankful for you and I know you know. See? No need. :)

-- 6 --
Is anyone else up for doing the St. Andrew Christmas novena? It begins tomorrow and it's not exactly a tradition novena but it's definitely one of my favorites. It's prayed 15 times a day, which usually turns people off until I explain that they can say all 15 at one time, in a couple of minutes. If you want more info, please feel free to read about it here. If you want to do it, but think you may forget, let me know and I'll add you to the list of people I'll remind on a daily basis. :)

-- 7 --
Tomorrow is the last day of the liturgical year and I'm so stoked because Advent and Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love focusing on the meaning of Christmas (which is what Advent in) and then celebrating His birth. I'm going to try to do things a little "old school" this year (I'll write about this soon) which I'm very excited about. Are y'all ready for the start of Advent on Sunday (or Saturday evening if you attend Saturday Vigil Mass)?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

That's it for now. :D I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and start of Advent. :D

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #24: End of Year of Faith Edition

1) Looking back on the Year of Faith, I feel like I can personally call it a success as I learned quite a bit about the Faith. However, I was sad to see how many people began the year excited and how almost everyone seemed to ignore it at the end. Maybe it's just my group of friends (online and offline) but I didn't see many people reflect or even given a hoot about the end of the Year of Faith. Why is that? Okay, I totally dropped the ball more than once on my What I Learned Wednesday posts but I still tried. And, okay, I also didn't finish reading the Catechism but I'm still reading it at the moment. That is a goal that I still have time for (giving myself until the last day of the year). The main thing is that I tried from start to finish. I think the effort is what counts. My curiosity and love of learning new things was definitely awakened this year and it's just going to continue. So, hooray Year of Faith!

2) I also recently noticed that I have received 5 of the Seven Sacraments. Here's my list:
a) Baptism: September 1st, 1985.
b) Holy Communion/Eucharist: May 21, 1994 (First Communion). I try to receive Eucharist as frequently as possible.
c) Reconciliation/Confession: Approx. April 1994 (first). I still go at least once every two weeks when I'm not sick. 
d) Confirmation: November 22, 1998.
e) Marriage: TBD.
f) Holy Orders: The one I'll never receive.
g) Anointing of the Sick: May 10, 2013.

I obviously won't receive Holy Orders but, God willing, I will receive the 6th and last Sacrament (Marriage) at some point in my lifetime. I think this is pretty cool.

3) Who didn't see the MSM's shoddy reporting on Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium coming? Y'all (MSM) are so predictable. Mom and I watched Spanish language news yesterday (as I get enough of the English language news online) and it was pretty much the same thing. "*gasp* Pope Francis declares war on materialism!" "Pope Francis is implementing new changes that will rock the Church, only at 6 p.m.!" I think mom and I become Statler and Waldorf whenever any new report on the Catholic Church comes on because it's always so cringe worthy. You don't do your jobs, news reporters. You try to lie to the audience on the actual facts. We get it. Yawn. I'm actually going to read the Spanish-language version of Evangelii Gaudium (thank you, mom and dad, for raising me bilingual) because I heard Pope Francis originally wrote it in Spanish. That and I've heard people complain that the English version is a poor translation. *shrugs* I'll keep y'all posted on that.

Anyway, that's it for now. I am almost caught up on NaNoWriMo (I should be at 45,000 words today and I'm currently at 44,862) so I'm going to do that tonight. I hope to finish the required 50,000 words by Friday. It's doable since I average 4,000 words per day and my record has been 7,000 words in a single night. And to think that some of y'all called me a quitter! ;)

I hope y'all have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving Day! I am definitely thankful for each and every one of you who are sharing this journey with me. ;)

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 10: St. Cecilia, Emmy, and Music Facts Edition

Happy St. Cecilia feast day. Today is a particularly happy day for me as well... and you shall see why. :D

-- 1 --
Today is the feast day of the patroness of music and musicians... who is also my confirmation saint. Yes, St. Cecilia is my confirmation saint. I always say that I didn't choose her -- that she chose me -- because I really didn't pick a confirmation saint. I'll explain why in a bit but I am so happy that St. Cecilia is my confirmation saint because (as many of you know) I'm a massive music nerd. My first love was music and the only times I go without it is for a brief period during Lent. Even when we were mourning my dad's passing, I listened to music because it's my security blanket. Music helps me express myself without my having to utter a single word. 

-- 2 --
If you're wondering why I said I didn't pick a patron saint, it's because I was confirmed in Mexico where they don't pick confirmation saints. I was confirmed at age 13 (against my wishes, fyi - I wanted to wait until I was 15-16 to be confirmed with my friends) and since we have a priest in the family (on my mom's adopted side), I was confirmed in his parish. This parish was named after St. Cecilia... and I was confirmed on her feast day in 1998. Yes, today is the 15th anniversary of my confirmation. It was just meant to be. When I found out all these things after my reversion, I decided to make her my patron saint and she's been a wonder heavenly buddy ever since.

-- 3 --
Fun fact for those of you who don't know: I actually almost majored in Jazz Studies. I had taken music courses at Santa Monica College (including a course with Prof. Fiddmont; seriously, Google him) and I had the application to USC filled out but things happened and I ended up reverting to the Faith and then switching majors to Religious Studies instead. Still, I'm a huge jazz geek (jazz, swing, big band, and classical are my preferred genres) and I often wonder if I will one day get over my shyness and perform again.

-- 4 --
Oh yeah, that's another fun fact: I used to perform when I was younger. I had the wonderful Ms. Shelby Flint as my teacher when I was about 11 years old and she was the first to really encourage me and give me confidence in singing. I also learned how to play a bit of the piano thanks to her. I sang in chorus at school until I got to high school and developed anxiety. I haven't sung in public since I was about 15 and it would take a lot of courage and a miracle to get me on stage again. I'm just not cut out for it anymore.

-- 5 --

This is my statue of St. Cecilia which sits on top of the family recorder player. Yes, we are vinyl people. ;) I got her a couple of years ago at the parish where I did my first communion. I saw the statue and went "*gasp* I must have it!" It's actually one of the last things that Fr. Leo Leblanc OMI (who helped us when my father passed away) blessed for me before he passed away so it holds a special place in my heart as well.

-- 6 --

This is my baby... and my skinny legs. lol. Yes, I have a pink guitar. Don't hate; it was my big brother's gift to me when I was in my early 20s. It's not my first guitar but it's been my main one for a couple of years now. It's a Daisy Rock brand. I choose it because they make guitars with slimmer necks especially for women because some of us have tiny hands. It has a good sound. I am saving up for a new one because I really love playing classical/Spanish style and I need a guitar that's especially made for nylon strings. Now I just have to find one that I can use with my dainty lady hands. lol.

-- 7 -- 
As you can tell by now, music and I are tight. I use Spotify to make playlists for different things, i.e. workout music, cleaning music, and I even make playlists for my novels and the characters in my novels. To attempt to make a playlist with all my favorite songs would be impossible but I'll share with you the songs that are always in my top three (in no particular order):

Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind":


George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue":


Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Andrea Bocelli (never fails to make me tear up):


And that's all for now. I have about 4000-5000 words to write today if I want to catch with NaNoWriMo (and finish on time). ;)

I hope y'all have a great weekend!

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Can We Please Stop Competing Against Each Other?

I've noticed a trend amongst young Catholic bloggers (particularly those between about 23 - 29)... and it's not a good one. What is the trend? It's competing against each other; trying to have a bigger and more successful ministry/blog/online following than the others. I wonder if I had been the only one who had noticed it so I posed this question on Twitter. From the replies I got, it seems that I'm not the only one who has noticed it... and those who have noticed it fall in the young Catholic blogger category.

I'm not saying competition is bad. There have been some competitions that have produced great results that benefited society and/or a specific group of people trying to better things. Competing with my brothers during games is not bad... as long as I stop the urge to dance when I win. lol. It's when the competition gets ugly and/or puts us in temptation to do something sinful that it becomes a problem.

Look, we all want to be successful in one way or another, even if that success is leading a good life here on earth and then spending eternity with God and the communion of saints. Nothing wrong with that. But trying to be more popular than others who are doing the same thing we should all want to be doing -- evangelizing and getting more souls to heaven -- that's when the risk of temptation for pride, vanity, anger, etc. to weasel its way into your heart and soul becomes greater.

"I want to outdo *insert well-known young blogger's name*." "I want to cover something *insert young blogger's name* hasn't with their ministry... and make it bigger and better than what they have now." "I want more followers/readers than *insert person's name*..." Do y'all see where it becomes a problem?

I notice these things and, as a peacekeeper/maker, it hurts me so. I've seen so many talented bloggers (both young and old... but mostly young) fall into this trap. We shouldn't try to outdo each other's ministries. We should try to either help spread the word of someone's ministry (especially if you feel like they do a better job than you do at explaining or carrying out certain things) or contributing to Catholic evangelization in ways that haven't been covered by others. Sure, you can have a ministry/blog/website that is similar to someone else's and you can offer others a different point of view or way of reaching out; this would actually be great. Just be careful that you don't get to a place where you let yourself fall into the "I want/need to be more popular than..." trap.

I feel like this is sort of rant because I'm personally tired of seeing this happen. I personally don't keep track of my reader count because it's so easy to fall into that trap. I write because I want to write and I feel like if what I write helps one person throughout the entire history of this blog (for how ever long it may be), then I've done my job. Even if that one person is me figuring out a way to better myself as a person, than that's all I can ask for.

I don't pretend to be eloquent with my writing because I just write what I feel. I don't pretend to know everything or even a fraction of what other bloggers know because I obviously don't (Hello, What I Learned Wednesday concept ;D). I won't pretend that I don't see others turning Catholic evangelization into something ugly because I know it will only divide us.

Young Catholics, we are in a very crucial point in our lives and history right now. We are getting married, having children, and raising the next generation of young Catholics. This is happening now. How about we pray for those who have successful ministries? How about we pray that we can help out the Church in any way we can? Why not take a page out of St. Therese of Lisieux's book and contribute in our own "little way" if you aren't able to on a bigger scale? C'mon, y'all... don't let the Enemy divide us when the world is already so very much against us!

Anyway, I woke up wanting to write this and I found the time (a miracle, really, lol) to write it so here it is. I hope no one feels attacked by this. It's not my intention to attack anyone; I just wanted to put this out there in case anyone wants to reflect on anything.

I should go get some silent prayer time in before my day gets crazy busy again.

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 9: Jumble Edition



-- 1 --
I have not given up on blogging! I told y'all that NaNoWriMo would mean less posts than usual because I'd be focused on the novel. However, I had an epiphany these past days that basically boils down to "NaNoWriMo is not as important to me as my Faith"... which, I am ashamed to admit, I have not been horrible at. So NaNoWriMo is now on the backburner (though I do still write) to everything else. I won't let me competitiveness get the best of me. This also means: expect more blog posts from me before the month ends.

-- 2 --
Like I said, I've been neglecting my "Catholic" side... and this is what I was worried about when I chose to do speech therapy. I've been so busy (volunteering, writing, taking care of my sick mama) that prayer and everything else is sort of pushed back. Not intentionally but I don't like it. Now I have to figure out how to do everything whilst keeping my prayer life up. I've never had to juggle so many things at once (at least, not since my reversion) so it'll be an interesting challenge. Still, not giving up on my faith.

-- 3 --
I promise never to post inside jokes on Twitter again. I did last night and I got grief for it. I will say this, though: it's a sad day when I cannot make a joke that a few people will get a kick out of because others take everything I say literally... and then put words into my mouth. Seriously, not worth it. Next time it happens (that people misinterpret what I say and then pretty much call me a liar because they misinterpreted me), I'm not returning from Narnia. Just send my mail and everything else to Cair Paravel, 'kay?


-- 4 --
For those of you who were worried about me after my last What I Learned Wednesday post, I'm happy to report that there will be no danger there. I was just informed that, since I cannot get the flu shot (allergic to eggs) and I cannot wear a mask whilst volunteering, I cannot go back until March. It's a hospital and they don't want me exposed to viruses and vice versa during flu season. Problem solved. lol.

-- 5 --
I officially have all of my Advent things ready to go. Bought the candles for the Advent wreath last week and had been getting a couple of other things over the last couple of months so I'm ready. Now if I can just convince mom to get a little Christmas tree (she doesn't like them), I can get ready for Christmas season...


-- 6 --
My dear friend, Kathryn, had her baby girl today and I couldn't be more excited for her. :D She already has a little boy, Adam (who actually inspired me to become a speech therapist), but I know her little girl is just going to bring so much joy to her family. And, because I know many of you are military wives, I'm also going to pass along the fact that her e-book, Journey Through Deployment, is now out for y'all to read. She didn't ask me to plug it; I just wanted to because she's been a great friend for many years. :D

-- 7 --
Speaking of e-books... I decided to get my novels self-published. After seeing (and hearing) how much better it is from both Kathryn and Nancy, I've decided to take this path. The novels will be published as e-books for the time being. Yes, I do find it ironic that I've chosen the medium that I don't like (seriously, I still don't like e-books) to get published. Judge away! lol. So far I will say that I'm not far from moving forward and that I've gotten good responses from three friends (two ladies and a dude) who have read the entire first novel. More details (hopefully) coming soon. ;)

And that's all for now. I'm gonna go... write or watch a movie. I haven't decided yet. ;)

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Makeup November Campaign

Sorry for the lack of updates but there aren't enough hours in the day to write; I'm even behind on NaNoWriMo.

And before, I go on, let me just say that I am offering up my stresses and unpleasantries of the day for the recovery of Thomas Peters. #IStandWithThomasPeters

This is just a quick post about something I've been doing for a couple of days now. Can you guess what it is? *points to post title* Yes, I am giving up makeup for November... which, to be honest, shouldn't be hard as I hardly wear any at all. You men have No Shave November and we women have No Makeup November... and the inspiration behind it is actually why I decided to join in.

See, No Makeup November was started as part of a Christian ministry to bring awareness to human trafficking which I haven't seen mentioned on virtually any Catholic blog (unless it's a social justice blog). I know that the subject is one of the "pet projects" of the "liberal"/liberation theology proponents but it's also been mentioned (and condemned) by the Vatican recently as well. I've seen enough videos and documentaries on the subject (courtesy of my pro-liberation theology alma mater) to know just how terrible it is for all involved.

The point of the campaign is to bring awareness to the human trafficking, especially the young women who suffer because of it. No person deserves to be in that position. I don't care what atrocious acts someone has done, no one deserves to be treated like an unimportant object. According to the official website, this campaign was designed to counter what society tells us beauty is:

"A culture that tells our young girls, mothers, and yes, even grandmothers that they are not close to being good enough. That in order to be of worth you must be physically beautiful, that unless you are a specific size you should be cast out, that the true amount of your worth is based upon one simple yet important factor, ones physical appearance."

If you haven't figured out what this has to do with makeup, well, a young woman who is brought to the States or to other countries as part of human trafficking are required to wear makeup in order to make themselves more appealing to those whom are perverse enough to seeking their, ahem, company. Make sense now?

I also like the message that we don't have to change ourselves to make ourselves more appealing to others; that we should worry about what God wants from us and not how to attract the wrong kind of attention. I know some women who like makeup and see it as a form of art. To y'all I say, right on! It's when we use it because we think it's the only way we'll get a guy to like us that has me worried.

I know that a very small number of you who know of a private social network profile of mine have seen the picture I have posted of myself without makeup. It's nothing shocking as the most makeup I wear is a bit of powder under my eyes and the occasional blush when I'm not feeling too great but it does make a difference. I wish I could post it here but, as many of you know, I cannot for safety reasons. But let's just say I'm taking part in this campaign and I have proof which others (like Julie; btw, check out her latest post - we didn't plan that) can verify for y'all if you don't believe me.

As many of you ladies know, you have to replace your makeup every couple of months to avoid bacteria growth (and because some makeup is designed to last only a few months after opening) so I think many women are using that money that would've been spent this month and donating it. I actually don't know of a legit Catholic charity that does this (and doesn't have iffy ties) so I am going to donate the money I would've used for my replacement blush brush and powder to a pro-life charity instead.

So, any of you ladies want in? I know we're already halfway through November but it's never too late to start.

Anyway, I need to go finish cleaning my room (I'm procrastinating ;D) and then try to catch up on the novel sequel word count.

I hope y'all have had a great week thus far!

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #23: Married Men and Temptations Edition

This post was originally going to be a follow up to last week's Speedy Questions post but I've had a very interesting week (blog post title should give you hints) so I'll write about that instead. I think it's more important to share some things that I realize that some of y'all also go through but don't talk about. Some of you may be uncomfortable with the topics but I haven't seen them posted anywhere and I know I cannot be the only person who goes through these things.

1.) As a single young woman who knows her vocation but has yet to find that special fella, it's very easy to fall into different types of temptations. You guys know I'm notoriously private about my relationships and this part of my life but I need to share this. During the volunteer work I've been doing lately, I met a nice fella with whom I could easily talk to because our personalities and temperaments just click. He is (to a T) the kind of guy that I like (except for the "he's not Tom Hiddleston" part, lol). My mom likes him, his mom likes me... so what's the problem? He's married! I knew this beforehand because my mom told me a long time ago so I was cautious. I am not the type of person to break up a relationship (even if it's just dating) so I made sure I didn't do anything that would be inappropriate. The moment he said something that let me know there was interest on his side, I avoided the guy as much as I could. I don't know his wife but I respect his mother, myself, and the sanctity of marriage to put either of us into any further temptation.

I know some of you will get upset at me for saying that I avoided him because I did nothing wrong, but that's the thing -- I could easily fall into temptation myself. I'm not saying I would ever go there (I wouldn't) but why push my luck? I'm a human being and I make stupid mistakes all the time. Guys aren't one of them (hi, still single here, lol) but that's not to say that I'm not susceptible to it not happening to me. The devil is sneaky; he'll find a way to turn something innocent into a terrible temptation. And, for the record, yes, for a split second some thoughts did enter my mind but I quickly recognized them and knew that they were not the type of thoughts I would normally have. I said the prayer to St. Michael Archangel and then spoke to the priest in the confessional about it (it all happened on a Saturday).

2.) What I'm trying to get at with this example is that, we single young women (and men!) need to be very careful to avoid temptation. My temptation could've easily become letting him appeal to whatever vanity I have by letting him (inappropriately) compliment me and call me beautiful (which he did). My temptation could've been making excuses for his actions because of the attention I was getting. My temptation could've been letting him commit adultery in his heart by letting myself stick around. Again, some of you may have issues with the way I phrased that last sentence but it is what it is. I have as much responsibility as he does to help each other avoid any kind of temptation. And I know some of you have been there or have been on the other end. I've heard of friends who have had their spouses hit on by coworkers, etc. It's terrible. I've seen relationships and marriages broken up because of people who have either simply tempted someone to be unfaithful (though it never went far enough) or have flat out broken up relationships.

3.) I see so many young woman (and men, I see y'all on Twitter, too) lamenting being single and having a deep desire to have any sort of attention that they don't even realize what harm they could be doing to themselves and others. I have amazing guy friends, many of whom are married at this point as we're mostly between mid-late 20s to early 30s. I know and am friends with their wives. They have my back (and act like big brothers) and I have theirs. I love them all (platonically) but there's a fine line that cannot be crossed. Even if they're just dating, there's a fine line between friendship and flirting that is clearly drawn. If I feel like one of them is dangerously close to that line (and it has happened), I make sure my actions speak for themselves. I pull back and even cut off all contact from them if necessary. If they don't get it, I will spell it out for them as bluntly as I am able to with my Jane Bennet tendencies. As I like to say, "homegirl don't play that."

I hope this post didn't seem like I am full of conceit and think of myself as someone who can cause temptation 'cause I don't. In fact, I am actually surprised I had this happen to me. I actually wanted to ask the guy what he was smoking when he said I was beautiful but I opted to pretend that I hadn't heard him and I physically removed myself from where he was.

I wrote this post because I've seen and heard it happen to others and I just want some people to know that no amount of flattery is worth causing problems. Even the nicest person can have a moment of weakness and make a huge mistake. Like I said, temptation will present itself whenever it gets a chance so we must be on our guard. I am just grateful that I have amazing spiritual direction, great friends who pray for me (and I did let two friends know about my predicament as it happened) and that God has blessed me with a hyper awareness of things (except when single guys are flirting with me; I'm clueless then. lol).

Anyway, that's all for now. I am super behind on NaNoWriMo (volunteer work, errands, and illness -- grr!) and I want to get some work done before the CMAs. Go Hunter Hayes (even if I am not even sure he's nominated for anything. lol).

I hope y'all have had a great week thus far. :)

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #22: Speedy Questions Edition

It's 11:21 p.m. PST. It's still Wednesday in Los Angeles! This still counts! lol. This will be a very quick list since I got caught up in school stuff once again and I still need to do nighttime prayers. I was planning on doing it this way anyway, but now there will be more typos than usual. lol.

This week I'm focusing not on what I learned but what I hope to learn before next Wednesday... and I am making this list public so if I fail, I can say that I did (no lying allowed. ever.) and will learn to do a better job the weeks after that.

1. Is RCIA the same everywhere? Would it be the same in, let's say, London as it is in Los Angeles? I am a revert who was baptized at 3 months, did her first communion at 8 years-old, and was confirmed at 13 years-old. I have never needed to know about RCIA which is my excuse, as sorry as it may be. I know that confirmation in Mexico is done at younger ages (hence why I was confirmed at the "old" age of 13 and not 16, in the States, like I wanted) so I am wondering if RCIA is the same everywhere.

2. What major differences (if any) are there in how things are done in England and the U.S. in regards to how Mass is celebrated, etc? Seeing a pattern emerging? You caught me; this is all novel sequel research but, really, it would be awesome to find out if things are done the same or if I would need to learn how to phrase prayers differently.

3. How many Latin Masses are regularly offered in the Archdioceses of Westminster and Los Angeles? Again, novel research but I'd love to see the differences between both Archdioceses.

So, that is my quick list of questions I hope to have answers to next week. If anyone of you would like to help a sister out, let me know. lol.

And now it's 11:33 p.m. and I still have prayers to get through.

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

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

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Baby, the Nun, and the Weird Noise During the Canon of the Mass

I've been wanting to write about my experience at Mass last Saturday night since Saturday night but since I've been busy, I'm writing it now. I don't think I've ever experienced so much joy and so much... weirdness... during one Mass. I guess I'll start with the good, go to the weird, and go back to some goodness.

The Baby
There is a little 3 month old baby girl whose family usually sits in the front pew or in a pew close to us. She's a gorgeous little sweetheart who loves to smile whenever I wave at her... which is often at least twice during Mass because she likes to look around. She just started smiling at strangers (though I've gotten her to smile for me every time I've seen her) so it's the sweetest thing to see during Mass. I don't think she's a distraction as some may think. While I wait to be blessed with children of my own, I am able to look at her and thank God for the gift of life and the blessing her family has received by her birth. She also reminds me of how important it is to teach children to love and venerate the Church from a young age. I sometimes look at her and my heart says "this is what your vocation will be one day", which brings great joy and peace.

The Nun
This past Saturday, we had nuns in the front pews which made this fangirl squee since we've only seen them during the 6:45 a.m. Sunday Mass. I still have trouble distinguishing orders by their habits so I cannot tell you which order they were. They were in their habits, though, and it made me happy. Anyway, while we were in line to receive communion, one of the older nuns saw the baby girl in her mother's arms and she couldn't stop smiling. When the mother noticed, she turned the baby in order for the nun to say "hello" to her... and the reactions were priceless. The baby girl lit up like I'd never seen her before. She was smiling and laughing and was just radiating joy at seeing the nun. Likewise, the nun had a great smile on her face and was herself radiating happiness. It was the most beautiful sight I've seen in a long time.

The Weird Noise During the Canon of the Mass
The weird part came during the Canon of the Mass. My Spiritual Director (who was celebrating the Mass) was reciting the Eucharistic Prayer when, all of a sudden, I heard a woman sort of humming in an almost taunting tone. It sounded like it came from somewhere near the front of the church but I am not sure. Anyway, it was so weird and so inappropriate that Fr. G looked up and around trying to figure out what it came from. If you know my SD, you know how difficult it is to distract him during the Mass so you know it was odd. After Mass I asked mom if she had heard the noise and she said she had but she heard it as if Fr. G had dropped the paten (which he hadn't), not a humming/taunting sound. Either way, it was a weird noise that had at least three of us heard. *shrugs*

Bonus: The Gift of Tears
As most of you know, I had not been able to receive the Eucharist since the first weekend in June because of stomach issues/restricted diet. Since the doctor told me that I do not have a gluten intolerance, I've been counting down the days until I could receive the Eucharist... which finally happened this weekend. I teared up as soon as Mass started... while I was walking down the aisle to receive communion... while I received it (cue: flood of tears of joy)... and while I was kneeling and praying after receiving it. Words cannot express how ecstatic I was. I just cried and I thanked God for everything He'd done for me up to that point. I felt as if my heart could burst from how happy I was in that moment. When I was finally ready to dry my tears, I looked up and saw that the baby girl was looking at me very closely. It was as if in that moment three things became clear. First, that I became aware of just how much I loved God (even more so than I had previously thought). Second, how much I wanted to receive the Eucharist daily. Third, how much I truly believe, in my heart, that my vocation is of wife and mother... and how much I look forward to teaching my future children about the beauty and love of God and the Church.

So, there you have it. It was quite an interesting Mass and I really wanted to share my experience with y'all. :D

And now I need to go to do some research about Catholicism in England for... something. No spoilers just yet. lol.

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far. :D

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