Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Well, today's readings couldn't have come at a better time! I had a discussion just yesterday with some friends of mine who are in the Speech Pathology field, and we were talking about re-evaluating our online stores. Or, rather, re-evaluating how much time we're putting into making materials and putting them online. As we're getting older, we're realizing making a buck just isn't all that important anymore.  Today's readings helped put things back in perspective for me. I'm not a business person; I'm a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). So what if the younger ones are being lucrative with their online endeavors? Not only am I an SLP, but I'm a pretty darned good one. That's what God has called me to do. I don't make a lot of money, but I make enough.
I started thinking about the times growing up, and even well into adulthood when I felt inadequate because I didn't have "things" that other people I knew had. I remember asking my mother once if we were rich. Her response was that we may not be rich in money, but we were rich in love. When you're in 3rd grade and your friends all have the latest Nike tennis shoes while you have knock-offs, that's not very comforting. But, while some of my friends' fathers were rarely home, mine was home almost every night (except on those rare occasions he had to go out of town on business). My parents' marriage lasted for almost 62 years (my mom passed away 2 months shy of their 62nd anniversary). So, yeah, we had a LOT more than some of my friends had.
During his Homily, the priest said that he used to tell people that he's never seen a u-haul being towed behind a hearse...until Facebook. We've all heard the phrase "you can't take it with you", but Father said it makes a difference what we do with what we have today. We'll always want more; the good parents aren't the ones who give their kids everything they want, they're the ones who end up with an adult who makes good, moral decisions. (Well, he didn't say "moral", but I'm throwing that in!) He quoted CS Lewis, "Nothing is truly ours until we give it away." We have to give up the sense of "it's all about me" and turn everything over to God. In closing, he gave us a prayer of asking God to give us the courage and strength to let go of vanity and to seek the treasures of heaven.
That got me thinking about the beginning of the school year, or, really, the school year in general. My current special ed director is big on recognition; which is great, unless you're the one working your tail off and not getting any. That's when it's easy to fall into vanity; it's easy to complain about doing everything right & even going above and beyond but not getting recognized for it. I read a quote that is perfect for a reminder:

Do not seek to be regarded as somebody, don't compare  yourself to others in anything. Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things, shake the dust from off your feet. - - - St. Barsanuphius

In other words, get over yourself and put your big girl panties on.
ePriest discussed how material things split our hearts in many pieces, thus pulling our love in as many places. It's impossible to love 1 thing when our hearts are pulled in so many different ways. "Our heart is capable of loving multiple persons and God, but only to the degree it is capable of focusing on one of them. When we love God first, our love for others increases in intensity." It's not that material things are all bad, but we have them to use to fulfill God's plan for us. We are encouraged to "take stock of our loves to make sure they don't compete with love of God."
This week, I hope to take stock in what St. Barsanuphius said and, as Matthew Kelly would say, be the best version of myself.

{SQT} Oops...First Post Since Last Friday!

Oops. I guess I never got around to posting this week. I think I should get a pass since it was my first week back at work. Yep, summer vacation is over. The students start on Monday and they have a day off on Thursday for Elections, but the teachers have to be at work. No kids = almost a day off.
I'm working hard at getting back into my routine, including saying the Rosary on my way to school. Not having a set time to be at work this week (the time wasn't the same every day) threw me off a bit, but I'm getting back into the routine.
I have a calendar in the front of my journal notebook; each day I'll write a word or short phrase from the daily readings that grab my attention. It may be a word or short phrase that summarizes them. The past couple of weeks 2 words seem to be recurring: Hope and Perseverance.  The first readings from Jeremiah just seem to be screaming that our country should hold onto hope. The words are real today just as they were in Jeremiah's time. We have to persevere with our prayers for our country...and for the world.
World Youth Day. I know someone who is there; I can't wait to hear all about it! Pray for safe travels for all who will be on their way home shortly. 
I swallowed my pride yesterday and invited a coworker to CCW. We've gone through some tough times in the past 10 years that I've known her. I felt a tug to invite her, and we had a meeting together yesterday, so I bit the bullet. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
Take a look at what's on UCatholic's website. Wonder if they're reading my blog? 
As I left church one night last week, I snapped a picture with my phone. I wasn't sure if the colors would show up in the picture as they really looked, but they did.
I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for the link-up.

{SQT} Back to the Real World

Vacation is over. SUMMER is over, even though it’s still the middle of summer. Back to work on Monday. Back to the harsh reality of working. Guess it's a good thing I love what I do!
The violinist at church enlightened me about borrowing audio books from the library. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it; maybe it was because I had a really, really cheap (<$100) tablet that I may have dropped and messed up the audio. Or maybe it's because said tablet had 0 storage on it, even after putting in a massive SD card. Oh, and one other thing: it would only stay on for about 4 hours, tops, and I couldn't use it when it was charging.
Right before we left for vacation, I broke down and got a Samsung Galaxy. I have a couple of iPads for work, but they're the school system's, and I refuse to use them for anything but work. Anyway, I found this tablet on Amazon (yay, Prime!) and it works marvelously!
Now the only problem I have is that I put some books on hold and they're all ready at the same time!
One of the best books I've read this summer is "Saving Sammy: a Mother's Fight to Cure her Son's OCD" by Beth Alison Maloney. This book sheds light on PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). It is commonly known that strep can cause rheumatic/scarlet fever, but it can also attack the basal ganglia; symptoms include OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), tics, moodiness, anxiety, and/or separation anxiety. The symptoms appear seemingly overnight. I have a friend whose daughter has been diagnosed; I had no idea what they were going through until I read the book. I'll be handing this book to my special ed direction next week and encourage her to pass it around the department.

I have to say something that I just can't hold in any longer: I very much dislike the way Michelle Obama has cheapened the role of first Lady. I really enjoy James Corden's Carpool Karaoke, but (and this is just my opinion) the FLOTUS should not be participating while she is in that position. I feel the same way about the Obamas showing up on talk shows, as well. You can agree or not, but I'm just giving my opinion. I would say the same thing if any of the former First Ladies participated while their husbands were still in office.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest: When we were on vacation, for the latter part of the time we were in SD there was a lovely family from Kansas beside us. As we were talking, the husband pointed to a notebook that his wife had and mentioned that she was super-organized. I went over to take a look, and noticed that she had a page with the Catholic churches in the area. I took a look at what she had. The church was right on the road as we got into town, so we knew exactly where it was. If that family hadn't been camping beside us, we probably wouldn't have attended Mass, and we would've missed out on a beautiful service. The church (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel---Keystone, SD) was just wonderful. It is a mission church; there's only 1 weekend Mass celebrated. 
We were greeted by an elderly lady as we walked in; she made us feel very welcomed. The deacon gave an excellent homily. Afterwards, we stood in the parking lot and talked with our "next door neighbors" for a few minutes, just like we would do with friends at our own parish. It just felt like home.
We could have gone over to the next town for Mass at 10:00; however, we would have felt compelled to take yet another trip to the winery if we had done that, though!
One of the things that amazed me on our drive home from Colorado were signs by the side of the road in Kansas. (I believe we saw some in Iowa-on the way to SD- as well.) Some of them had the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the words "I trust in You". Some of them were pro-life. It really warmed my heart to see that, as well as billboards for Catholic radio. Being from the Bible belt, we just don't see those things as often. It really gave me hope for our country.
By now, I'm sure everyone has seen the following clip:

The youth director from my parish and her son (who will be entering the seminary this fall) left 2 days ago for World Youth Day. They have some once-in-a-lifetime things planned while they're there. Please keep them, and all attendees, in your prayers.

I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for the link-up.

Make it a Routine...not a Rote Thing

In my last post, I mentioned that I had fallen off the prayer wagon during vacation. I maybe read the daily reading once and made some quick notes. I don't think I said my daily prayers at all. I could tell, toward the end of the trip, old feelings coming back. The feelings of jealousy, and righteousness. It's so easy to stay in the routine when you're able to stay in your little bubble, but life is meant to live. Unless you're called to religious life, it's impossible to stay there in your safe little bubble.
I jumped back into my routine today; I gave myself a few days to try to slide into it by going to daily mass. I relied on my dogs to wake me up in time; they're fantastic alarm clocks, but they require a routine as well. When that routine is messed up, they're not so reliable. I barely made it in time for the Rosary before Mass on Monday & Tuesday; Wednesday the dogs decided to sleep in a bit so I rolled in just after the opening prayer. My dad sits in the 2nd pew, so everybody knew I was late. One lady asked me if I got caught in traffic, but I had to 'fess up and tell her that I lived in the other direction from church and just overslept. 
Today's reading (Jer 2:1-3,7-8, 12-13)seemed to really reach out and grab me. When I'm "feeling" it, it's like I'm in a honeymoon; I can't get enough of  God and His word. This I hit "dry periods". It's hard to get back in the swing of things like daily prayer & reading/reflecting. 
I picked up A Catholic Woman's Book of Days (Amy Welborn) this morning after I said morning prayers and read the readings. It was a total fluke; I've only picked up the book once since I bought it at the end of May. I turned to today, and was astonished at what it said. The topic was having rituals/routines, and applying that to your prayer life. In the last paragraph Mrs. Welborn says,
...For me at least, setting my prayer times and settling into ancient ritual keeps me on the right course, even when my feelings tempt me to skip prayer for today. More important, the tried and tested habits of old give me a safe place from which to enter into the mystery.
Whoa! That's exactly the way I feel. Isn't it amazing when God gives you just what you need to hear, whether it's to help you out or for affirmation? 
Make prayer a routine , not a rote thing!

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Getting back in the swing of things after vacation is difficult. I failed to read the readings; failed to say my usual daily prayers. I did, however, look at a different part of the country with awe and I gave thanks to God for the blessing of living in this beautiful country and have the opportunity to see His work.
After reading today's readings, I had no idea where the priest or deacon was going to take his Homily. The deacon started by saying he & his wife just celebrated their 33rd anniversary. When they were newlyweds, he did the laundry and the dishes 1 day out of the month, which he thought was pretty good. He turned that story into a talk on service. The 1st Reading and the Gospel give us examples of the right way...and the wrong serve. We shouldn't serve to get an award; serving isn't about the details.
As a Speech Language Pathologist, I view my profession as a way to serve. I know that's the vocation God has called me to do. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not in it for the rewards; especially when another co-worker gets accolades for something when I've been busting my hind-end. Since this is my last week of summer vacation, the deacon's words couldn't have come at a better time. 
The deacon spoke a bit about how Martha (in the Gospel) was so concerned about the details and how she was so worried. I found it a bit ironic that this reading was today, on the 2nd anniversary of my mother's very unexpected death. My mom was a worrier...a huge worrier. She was a very devoted Catholic, but she still worried. When my husband & I married, I was headed down the same path. He would tell me not to worry so much, that everything would work its way out. He taught me not to worry about everything...he taught me to trust in God. 
When someone gets married, you want everything to be perfect...and it rarely is. I wanted every Christmas to be perfect...and it never was. I've learned through the years to not sweat the details. Nothing is going to be perfect; you just have to learn to laugh it off and go with the flow. You have to learn to be the Mary.

{SQT}: Friars, Abbeys, Nuns

I’m joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

How amazing is this clip? 
Thanks to UCatholic for this!  Sulmona at Easter is now on my bucket list! I think I need to go live in Europe for a year so I can start scratching things off.
To see the story behind this video, click here.
Speaking of UCatholic, on their blog they had pictures of monks returning to an abbey that was destroyed by Henry VIII. I thought it might have been the one my husband & I visited, but it wasn't. That one was a "newer" one. Best travel advice: find friends who live in the area. They'll take you to those places that are "off the beaten track". This was much better than Stonehenge and, as our friend said, a lot less crowded!
This is Waverley Abbey, established in 1128 (the first Cistercian Abbey in England) and dismantled in 1536.

Friars seem to be everywhere lately! They seem to be just your average guys who just happen to be friars! 
Music isn't your "thing"? Maybe a little basketball instead?
I must have watched that video a hundred just doesn't get old! My favorite spot is right around 2:57.
Then, there are the Friars on Foot. One of the friars is a Tennessee boy! 2 friars walked from New Orleans to June. If you're not from the south, or have never been to the south in the summer, you just can't even begin to imagine how hot & humid the deep south can be. And these 2 did it with their robes!
I read about the Passionist Nuns, who are cloistered nuns in Kentucky. Their vocation is to hand-bake bread used for communion hosts in the Covington, Ky. diocese. One of the nuns is 94 years old! In this digital age, I fear that religious orders are in danger of extinction. 
I took this picture a couple of weeks ago. This is unfiltered; an original shot. I just happened to have my camera with me after morning mass.
Since my mother's unexpected death 2 years ago, cardinals have been of great comfort to me. In case you've never heard, they are a sign that someone in heaven is thinking about you. This one was chirping incessantly one day. I got up and looked outside the door to see this:
Isn't she a beauty?
Another week down, another week closer to going back to work. Summer just goes by way too quickly!