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.


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. :)


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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