Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?"

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
qtd. in Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman, by Cynthia Heald

(Preach it, Jane. :) What a great point-- that laws and principles are there to discipline and guide us when our passions are apt to lead us astray. Our culture is one that allows passion to lead at the expense of principle.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday [vol. 14]


There's nothing like autumn in the Midwest. I'm in love. Freshly cut fields. Kaleidoscope colors on the trees. Bright blue sky backgrounds. Pumpkins and hay bales as outdoor d├ęcor.

The one thing I could do without are those tacky decorations of a witch flying on her broomstick into a telephone pole. Splat! Really? It's morbid on so many levels...


Speaking of decorations, I had the cutest Pinterest-style centerpiece on my coffee table. Did you notice the past tense there? Two glass bowls full of real acorns and a candle in the center of each. I'd show you a picture but I didn't take one. Because I was too busy being horrified by the tiny chubby worms on the bottom of each glass that my roommate's brother pointed out one day.

I promise. I washed and dried the acorns before using them. Obviously the little intruders snuck in unforeseen as eggs...or something...or wherever worms come from. They were disgusting. And they now reside in the field behind our house.

I am now the proud owner of these fine machines and have been putting them to good use. Laundry has always been my favorite chore. (Making beds is a close second. Because I know you were wondering.) I'm using homemade detergent and homemade fabric softener and am quite pleased with both. The scent is not quite as good as what you buy in the store, but I also don't feel like I'm breathing in all sorts of bad-for-you-artificial-chemicals whenever I bury my face in warm laundry from the dryer.
I'm reading so many great books right now. It must be the chill in the air-- all I want to do is curl up and read or watch a movie in my free time. Here are a few of the titles I have bookmarks in:
Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a beautiful woman, by Cynthia Heald
Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri
The Anne of Green Gables Treasury, by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker
We had an influx of young women at the pregnancy center this week. I ended up staying two hours late that evening completing the paperwork and was a mess of emotions by that time. (Poor P-- he's so, so good with me when I'm like that! Strong, loving, steadfast man...) One young woman was a highschooler recovering from drug addictions, and now with a positive pregnancy test. Our generation makes me want to lost, so lonely, so confused, so broken.
There is hope. There is One with shoulders to carry all of this. And power to heal and transform our generation.
So we have faith and we keep fighting.
P, my brother, and I went to a rally/conference a few weekends ago called Lift Jesus Higher. It was put on my Renewal Ministries. So incredibly powerful. Their stories, their testimonies, the sacraments. It was a day of being recharged by grace. A reminder of God's great power, tender mercy, and His desire for us to continually spread the Gospel. One of the speakers, Sr. Ann Shields, spoke about her time overseas in countries persecuted for their faith. It was sobering, this realization that though our government is rapidly eliminating God from the public square, we do not as yet know suffering and persecution as other countries currently do. It makes me I have the courage of martyrs? Am I so attached to Christ and detached from this world that there would be no question of whom I would choose?
Thanks to P being on a first-name basis with the bishop, I got my picture with him at the rally :)


I had a friend over this Tuesday for homemade pizza and a workout DVD (thankfully, in reverse order). The workout DVD was one from the Biggest Loser series, and I'm still sore. As in: I ran a short distance from the mailbox to the house to escape the cold and windy weather, only to wince in pain as my legs protested such minimal exertion while they are still recovering. Aside from that, I highly recommend these workouts. In small doses. With a friend. And with pizza as a reward.
Have a lovely weekend, friends. Carve some pumpkins for me! :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our health, our wealth, our power--all these God can take from us. But our freedom he leaves to us....Because freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can make to God."

-Archbishop Fulton Sheen, qtd. in Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Haiti, Part III

We walked into the Children's Home.

Up until this point, I hadn't cried. (Though I'd come close to it at that chaotic airport!) But as I stood there in front of two dozen metal cribs in the first room, each with a skinny Haitian babe looking at us with curiosity or tears in their gorgeous big brown eyes...I couldn't stop the outpouring of tears.

Reality hits hard sometimes.

And as I picked up the nearest precious child holding his arms out to me, I knew my heart couldn't remain the same.

"To love the least of these..." (Matthew 25:40)

Over the course of the next week, we visited the orphanage often. Not all of the children were orphans, though. About 25 children were true orphans, cared for by the Missionaries of Charity sisters (love those amazing women!). The other 100 children were brought to the Children's Home by their parents, who could not care for them due to poverty or illness. Some of the children would be there for the rest of their life but some would be treated and cared for by the nuns and then return to their families, God willing.

I cannot convey all that I'd love to share about this place, the Missionary sisters, the children, and their families...but perhaps you will see a glimpse of the heartwrenching beauty of the experience through these memories from my journal...

-Changing diapers, holding babies, feeding my special boy his bowl of food and watching him gain energy and actually stand up in his crib. (he was 2 years old, dear friends.)

-The precious 6 year old girl who simply held my hand and smiled as we walked. (I later found out this girl was 12 years old...broke. my. heart.)

-The impromptu 'music band' of one orphan boy drumming on a toy, another shaking a toy, and a third one singing in Creole. Joy and laughter and awe.

-Seeing three orphans get adopted. Listening to the rest of the children sing and pray for them and their new families...and for the ones left behind. Watching the Haitian woman--one of the workers--cry as she hugged the teen girl for the last time before her adoption journey across the ocean.

-Singing the upcoming wedding songs (I had committed to singing for a wedding the day after I returned from Haiti--who does that?! Crazy me) with Haitian babies on my hips as I walked through the empty orphanage church.

-Watching the father of two children who was visiting them cry as he had to place them back in their cribs because the bell was ringing that visiting hours were over. He himself was thin and most likely poor and hungry...but he was showing me a vision of our Heavenly Father's deep, undeniable love in a way that was seared into my memory.

-Grace and Katelyn, a mother-daughter team staying in Haiti for a month, simply because Katelyn felt called to volunteer work before she left for college in the fall. They worked tirelessly caring for the children and keeping them clean, fed, and loved. And always, always with a smile on their beautiful faces.

-The Missionaries of Charity sisters. These incredible women of God. P and I were blessed to slip into an Adoration hour behind them. Thirty of them knelt there praying before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, barefoot and clothed in their white uniforms with the blue stripe like Mother Teresa. This. This was how they did it. Time spent before our Lord in have the strength to then go out and serve Him in the least of our brothers. To feed Him, clothe Him, care for Him.

The tears just keep coming as I re-live these memories. Has it really been three months since I lived with and loved these people?

It's good to remember. So good to remember.

But it hurts to be so far away when all I want to do is hold those children again. See their smiles, hear their chatter, kiss their foreheads, and press them close to my heart.

They're in my heart. I just want them in my arms.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heart Lessons

I was tired. We were short on nurses that day. My coffee had worn off and my patience had worn thin.

I sat down beside the last patient of the day and tried to mentally slow down. She was here for a check up, she wasn't feeling any better, had no money, had no hobbies, had no energy or breath to accomplish anything, smelled like cigarette smoke, and didn't know how to get rid of her anxiety and depression.

As I type this, my heart is tugged with empathy for her as I see her struggles bunched together like that.

Yet I struggled with cynicism. She hardly let me get a word in edgewise and I'm not sure she heard me when I did. Her heart was weak from a long history of cocaine abuse. It was pumping at a mere fraction of the strength and efficiency of a normal heart. It was no wonder she was short of breath and tired.

I tried to listen. I tried to respond with kindness. But in my heart, I was frustrated, and if I'm real with myself--annoyed.

Then Dr. A came in to see her. He was tired, too.

She barely let him get a word in edgewise either. She cried and laughed and complained and pleaded.

And he just kept gently re-directing her. He went above and beyond what most doctors would do. He didn't care if her past had led her here. He simply wanted to heal her. He went all over the clinic to find her a free medication. He spoke to her the same way he speaks to anyone else. He treated her with dignity and without judgment. He smiled and gave her hope.

I stood by and watched.


Because a Muslim doctor just showed a Christian nurse how to be more like Christ.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

{On} the Beaten Trail...An Adventure in Pictures

That creatively adventurous man of mine made reservations at a stable...


Someone is almost more excited than I am about the prospect!

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Deep in the country, my heart is swelling.

Can I move here?

Checking the radar and waiting out the pouring rain!
Meet Willie, my new friend.

Ready to go!

P. and Abel bonding.
The weather provided a unique trail ride during the next hour elusive mix of sunshine, dusk, drizzle, and mist. 
A country girl, a city boy,
and a great memory.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray.

-Rend Collective Experiment

(I love love LOVE this song. Foot-tapping...and soul-stirring.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 13]

I'm really kinda irrationally excited to be blogging for Quick Takes. I'm pretty sure I should feel lame for being so happy at home on this Friday night, but honestly, I love it. I've got my feet up on the coffee table, the Little Dog snuggled beside me, my roommate watching TV, and the joy of knowing there's no. work. tomorrow. I can't think of anything I'd rather do right now more than sitting here joining you fun people. Except maybe eat ice cream. Which I didn't buy at the grocery today. Aw, man...

The last two weekends I've gone camping. Both trips were absolutely wonderful. It was so refreshing and renewing to live simply in the beautiful outdoors for a couple weekends. We hiked, we kayaked, we played volleyball and frisbee, we went on a hayride, we cooked over the fire.

The first weekend was spent with a dozen or so young adults, solid in their faith, and loads of fun. It's always so great to meet new people and hear their stories and their perspectives. And of course I loved spending time with some of my besties and the man I love.
The second weekend was an annual girls-only camping trip at the lake. It was a quieter weekend with only three of us, but we all were happy to get away from stressful jobs and spend the time kayaking on the gorgeous lake, reading books in the sunshine, and talking as girls do.
So thankful for friendships and God's beautiful creation.
Speaking of friends, my dear friend K. just moved with her husband and four precious kiddos to Wisconsin--many hours away from here. She's an beautiful wife, momma, and friend and I'll miss her loyal, authentic, energizing friendship. But we did have a great going-away night, dancing like crazy at zumba then devouring homemade pizza.
Speaking of food (my transitions need some help; bear with me), I'm not doing very well in the cooking and baking department, friends. I pin recipes on Pinterest like a professional chef, but after that, it gets a bit messy...and I don't mean in the kitchen. I just cannot seem to get organized with meal planning, grocery shopping, and the actual meal prep. I'd like to blame it on working full-time and being single...but really, I don't want to blame anything. I just want to make time for it. Any ideas? How do you all do it?
To redeem myself, I did make 10 pints of salsa and 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce. From homegrown tomatoes. It. Was. So. Fun. I just want to be Laura Ingalls sometimes.
I watched NCIS on Tuesday. Remember my craze last year? I still love the show, I just haven't been as obsessed or made time for watching episodes. But this episode was not to be missed. It was Ziva's farewell episode. And...Tony kissed her! A pure, deep, beautiful kiss that put any inappropriate Hollywood trash to shame. My romantic little heart was so happy. If only she would have stayed on the series, though! Tony needs her! And she needs Tony! Annnd...I'm moving on to the next quick take before I lose my credibility on this blog due to a TV show that's not real...
October is such a gorgeous month. Let's pause for an Anne of Green Gables quote.
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
Me too, Anne. Me too.
There are a lot of special days this month. Respect Life Sunday is this weekend (and the whole month is Respect Life month). The feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (one of my favorites!) was October 1, the feast of the guardian angels on October 2, and today St. Francis of Assisi. Such precious friends to guide us by prayers and example on our way to Heaven.  
I haven't really gone shopping since Haiti. It's interesting. Part of me still wants to shop, part of me feels guilty about the idea, part of me feels like my heart still hasn't fully processed I still don't fully know how God wants to use it in my life. It's unsettling and a bit uncomfortable.
But it's good to be uncomfortable.
I want to go to Maurice's and buy a new dress for my roommate's wedding this month...yet I have several in the closet I only wear a few times a you feel my tension?
I'm reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker. I shared an excerpt from it on Wisdom for Wednesdays a few weeks ago.
This book makes me uncomfortable, too.
Well, friends. It's quarter to nine. And I still want to make applesauce. Is that enough time? I think so. I'm going to muster some motivation to peel and slice a bowlful of apples and cook them in the crockpot overnight...can't wait to wake up to that delicious smell!
It was delightful joining you tonight! Have a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:
'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'
But the good Samaritan reversed the question:
'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"
-Martin Luther King Jr.