Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stuff My RE Students Say: Lenten Edition

Student 1:  Wait, abstinence?  Isn't that when you can't go poop?
Student 2:  That's constipation...
Student 1:  No, I've heard it used a different way...
Me:   You might have heard "abstinence" used to mean "not having sex."
All students:  *huh?!*
Me:  Yes, I can see how it's confusing that the same term is used for not eating meat and not having sex.

Student 2:  Excuse me, what's almsgiving again?  Giving your meat to your neighbor?

Student 3:  So no meat on Fridays?  We're good, guys!  School lunch meat isn't even meat.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Being Nosy! Joining the Big Purse Dump

My new purse was bought with Christmas money from Charming Charlie's, an awesome chain we have in the area!  Love the blue, the studs, and the option to hold it on my arm or wear around my body (the chain is folded inside the bag).

Here's what's in my purse:

Because I'm old-school: a planner
Because my eyes and lungs need stuff: my inhaler and my glasses case
Because I like make-up: CoverGirl powder, lip gloss and lipstick from my wedding, and chapstick
Because I'm a girl: emergency tampons in the side pocket (unpictured) and a comb
Because I need a place to hold my $$$: sparkly wallet
Because I love to read: my library book
Because I'm messy: 4 pieces of gum, 3 tissues, 1 Stop & Shop receipt, and a random to-do list
Missing because I needed it to take the photo: my iPhone

This isn't a fair picture of what I have with me every day, though.  Somehow I'm the crazy person who brings 3 bags to work each day: lunch bag, purse, and (thanks to the snow!) a bag with my snow boots to switch into every time I have to go outside.

Thanks for peeking into my purse!  It feels fun to be a little nosy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jump Ship or Weather the Storm?

Lent is right around the corner, but I'm still looking back at Christmas.  Longing for Christ - Emmanuel - God with us!

Christmas has come and gone.  Has Christ done the same?

Emmanuel --- God with us.

I'm ashamed to admit it's hard to remember His presence when things aren't going my way, when my preferred schedule and God's will aren't the same.

Matthew 8: 23-26
           He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up    
           on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They 
           came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

           He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”  Then he got up, 
           rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

I often have the same reaction as the disciples when challenges enter my life. Flailing, thrashing, and wondering, “What the heck, have your forgotten about me, Lord???” 

Quick, quick, prod Him and make sure He's paying attention!  As if the Lord who said, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” would renege on his words, on His Love (Isaiah 49:15).  He’s with us.  GOD with US.  Why all the panic?

Long have I prayed to be anchored in the Sacred Heart, to love Him with a devoted heart that braves the ebb and flow of human emotions.  During my most recent confession, the priest urged me to pray to be faithful, even when fickle feelings tempt temporary desertion, and reminded me that great graces are bestowed during periods of dryness.

The storm is here, but so is God.  I will anchor my heart in His and weather the storm without fear.

Monday, February 10, 2014

14 Ways to Celebrate February 14th...for Everyone!

1.  Head to Adoration and get some one-on-one Jesus time!

2.  Call your grandparents or parents to say "hello" and "I love you."

3.  Offer a spiritual bouquet for a friend/spouse/future spouse.

4.  Host an easy pasta dinner for friends!  Dessert is BYO-chocolate, of course.

5.  Thank a priest or religious for their yes to God.

6.  Light some candles and spend time with God's word.

7.  Leave a surprise treat for a neighbor.

8.  Let a friend know how much you value their friendship.

9.  Wear your favorite outfit and feel good!

10.  Spend time volunteering.

11.  Pay it forward.

12.  Pray for single men and women who are called to marriage.

13.  Eat your favorite dessert!

14.  Call that friend you always mean to catch up with!


Friday, February 7, 2014

#7QTs: How to Not Hate Winter

This is a handy guide to not hate winter, written mostly to myself.  Maybe next year I'll remember these tips!

1.  Shower at night: I lie to myself a few times a week and promise that I'll wake up at 6:45 and shower.  When the alarm goes off, and the house is a brisk 55 degrees, I reject that plan and pretend that dry shampoo will mask my limp hair, or I wait until 7:20, which is much, much too late to be fully ready by 8:20. The easily solution?  Shower and dry my hair at night. 

2.  Stock up on decaffeinated tea: then I can drink it all day and keep warm! 

3.  Change the scenery: it's worth spending some money to get out of the house!  Visit a museum, peruse the library, or crochet at the local coffee place.  Do something to stop looking at the living room.

4.  Start a gratitude blog: in the works!  Soon I'll be able to show it to you, too!  Gratitude makes you more happy.

5.  Move: nope, not to another state.  Carve out time to stretch and sweat. 

6.  Cook: find recipes for hearty soups and breads you've never made before. 

7.  Wear real clothes: for some reason, you'll feel much better about yourself and will be less inclined to complain you "did nothing all weekend and wasted your days off." 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This Wasn't Mentioned During Pre-Cana

I've heard of married couples who can't sleep well without each other.  Well, we're at a different stage: 

10:19 pm (it's always 10:19 pm for some reason):*lights out*
Trista and Bryan: *kiss goodnight*

10:20 pm
Trista: *sleep mask engage*
Bryan: *closes eyes*

10:25 pm
Trista: *awake*
Bryan: *almost asleep* 
T: *rolls over; tries to get the cover to fold around her the way she likes*

10:27 pm
B: *leg twitches*
T:  *whispers, "Are you asleep?"
B: *asleep*

10:30 pm
T: *feels like bed is tilting her towards B; is annoyed*

10:31 pm
T: *is annoyed at being annoyed while trying to fall asleep*

10:32 pm
T: *fumbles for glass of water; takes a sip; rolls the other way*
B: *rolls around; still asleep*

10:40 pm
B: *breathes deeply*
T: *wishes for total silence; turns to other side; wonders if she should use the bathroom*

10:45 pm
B: *still breathing deeply*
T: *internally losing it; pokes B; asks, "Can you breathe on the other side of the bed?"
B: *turns over, annoyed*

10:46 pm
B: *asleep*
T: *awake*

10:50 pm
T:  *finds rosary under pillow; starts praying; tries to ignore bed tilts and breathing and whatnot*

Sometime after 11 pm
Trista and Bryan: *asleep*

Maybe it's time to bring back two twin beds!

Friday, January 10, 2014

#7QTs: Down the Blogging Rabbit Hole

1.  Hi there!  How is 2014 going for you so far?  I have to tell you, I am so relieved - now that the holiday season is over, I'm much more relaxed!  Christmas and New Year's Eve were fun but quick, quick, quick!  This was the first year that Bryan and I went without a few days break; we had to work half of Christmas Eve, then rush down to Long Island, enjoy most of Christmas day, and then rush back to CT late Christmas night, so we could work December 26th.  If you had some days off or got to experience extra hours with loved ones, I hope you savored it!

2.  The day after my wedding, I stopped taking my acne medication because of a bad reaction to it.  Since then, my acne has returned with a vengeance!  A visit to a new dermatologist last month went poorly.  Apparently since I hope to get pregnant in the next year, there is "nothing that can be done" to help my skin.  No changes in diet, no topical treatments, no different routines - everything is "inconclusive."  Well, I asked my parents to gift me with this Oily/Combination Regimen from Desert Essence and so far, I think it's making a small improvement!  Do you have any advice for someone dealing with hormonal acne and is looking for a natural remedy?

3.  What are you reading?  Ever since I went to a Theology on Tap that dealt with theological differences between Islam and Christianity, I've been interested in delving a bit more into the religion.  My Isl@m  by Amir Ahmad Nasr is a striking memoir of a young man who grows up as a third-culture kid, someone who can't fit into his native Sudan, new homeland Qatar, or later Malaysia, and who falls through the blogging rabbit hole and confronts his upbringing. 

The craziest part of this memoir?  Amir is only one year older than me!  His memoir shows how some changes have taken place since Ayaan Hirsi Ali's childhood (of Infidel-fame) and how the internet is helping promote positive change.  Since we're bloggers, I thought this was very cool!  

4.  In Polar Vortex fashion, we feasted on homemade broccoli cheddar & Yukon gold potato soup (could it have a longer name??) and chili this week.  Yum!

5.  During Advent, I treasured The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.  Her Advent guided-meditation book helped me focus on the Lord, why His coming is such a gift, and  my desire to grow closer to Him.  I've now picked up One Thousand Gifts from the library!  In it, she challenges herself and the reader to live fully right where you are.  So everyday, I'm looking out for the little and big gifts God sends my way!

6.  This week God gifted me with...a mouse.  Yep.  One of these days I'll expound on that!

7.  We received the proof of our wedding album and are totally thrilled with it!  The finished product is going to be amazing!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bright Maidens: Befriend the Saints and Be Prepared

A belated mix of  December Prompt: Holidays vs. Feast Days
January Prompt: Saints: Picking Them, Picking Us

Check us out over at the Facebook Page! 

Befriend the Saints and Be Prepared

From my perch on the couch, I can catch a glimpse of the titles lining our living room bookshelf.  My husband brought most of the apologetics, while I carved a neat section for my many friends, the saints.

Counselors.  Confidants.  Encouragers.  Challengers.

The men and women of ages past and present are beloved on both the bookshelf and in my heart.

The archangels - Gabriel, Raphael, Michael - who come to my aid when I'm weak and fearful.  And who I always thank for not showing up visibly since that usually makes people more fearful.

Mary, the Mother of God, who makes me tremble as I read her "yes" to the Lord, who makes me look more closely at the way my soul, too, should magnify Him.  Mary, my mother, who wraps me in her mantle and crushes the head of the serpent when he skulks about.

St. Joseph, Mary's most chaste spouse.  Although there are no recorded words from him in Scripture, his whole demeanor radiates trust in God.  Oh, how confused and hurt he must have been when Mary first came to him.  How he must have pondered the angel's words in the dream.  But he always trusted and protected, despite long, difficult journeys and changes.

When I examine my life with theirs, the saints always urge me onward, upward: "verso l'alto" as Bl. Pier Giorgio might say!  Struggles, trials, joys, dark nights - reading about, engaging in prayer, and dialoguing with the saints is almost better than a coffee date with a dear friend.  Keep trying, they urge.  Open your soul to the Lord, they repeat.  I've sought counsel from St. Gianna Beretta Molla about marriage and sexual intimacy (who better than a wife, mother, and doctor to go to?).  I've begged St. Raphael to help me find genuine friends.  I've run into Venerable Fulton Sheen more times than I can count, starting with our first spiritual encounter at The Catholic University of America.  Become who you were meant to be!  they urge.  Seek union with God.  Let it be done to you.  Let it be.

In this time of the New Evangelization, the saints are a key to spiritual growth.  If we celebrate their feast days, introduce them to our friends here, introduce them to people who have never heard of them - well, they'd start whispering the same things they whisper to you and me.  And they always point to the Lord.

When we celebrate their union with God, when we celebrate God's intense desire for total union with us, won't we bring a little more joy, hope, and peace into this struggling world?  Into our struggling hearts?  And how about a little more partying?  Heaven is described as a feast!  Do people know that?  Do they realize that Hell is not the location of the party?  Let's go out and celebrate the feast days of the saints, to bring a bit of the feast of Heaven to Earth!   

We all need mentors.  Counselors.  Confidants.  Encouragers.  Challengers.  Befriend the saints and be prepared for great things to happen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Can We Stop With the First World Problems?

"How To Cultivate A (Truly) Grateful Heart"

Why aren't I more grateful?  This is a thought that has been pounding in my head lately.  Why aren't I more grateful?  What's up with all the first world problems?

While prepping for a camping trip in mid-September, the temperatures dropped.   I threw a hissy-fit and pouted for the first few hours
... while 600,000 American families are homeless (Holiness Revolution Ch. 2).

I burned my grilled cheese two weeks ago and cried about it
...while I've never been hungry or thirsty for an entire day, 1.1 billion people have inadequate access to water around the world (Holiness Revolution Ch. 2).

I'm annoyed that my company hired someone for a full-time position that I'm perfectly capable of doing
...while almost half the world lives in severe poverty, living on less than $2 a day (Holiness Revolution Ch. 2)

Now, I'm not saying we don't have a need to express our frustrations and vent about situations that are less than perfect, but we are obliged to move beyond those points.  How can I, Trista, cultivate a truly grateful heart?  The secret seems to be the same one for most of the Christian life: will it and let God work in you and through you.  If we learn to be grateful for the small things, we'll more easily be prepared to remain grateful during the trying times. For me, I know I need to stop focusing on the first world problems and open my eyes to the first world blessings.

In Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta," I've found many challenges and inspirations from this holy woman.  She reminds me over and over again that I need to constantly surrender myself to the Lord.  "Keep the joy of Jesus as your strength," she murmurs.  "Accept whatever He gives - and give whatever He takes with a big smile - you belong to Him."  Mother Teresa experienced intense union with God when she heard the call to form the Missionaries of Charity.  Afterwards, for almost the rest of her life, she felt a deep absence from God, spiritual dryness, and interior sufferings, which in time she realized was the experience of Christ Crucified.  She knew real, intense suffering, but day in and day out, she vowed to smile at God, to smile at Him in the poorest of the poor, and to offer her whole self with joy.  "Whenever I see someone sad," Mother Teresa said, "I always think, she is refusing something to Jesus."

And, she adds, "God still loves the world through you and through me."  The blessings I've received are for me, yes, but they're for others, too.  In the Christian life, we're not called to be hoarders.  As good stewards, we need to accept all gifts in thanksgiving and strive to be Christ-serving instead of self-serving.  In our warm home, I can invite our neighbors in for comfort and community.  I can share my gift of faith with teens as a catechist.  When a surprise financial boon lands in our lap, we can save some of it, but we should share with others who are in need.  I can serve the Lord in the lonely and needy in our nation.  If we stop our self-absorption, we'd see the myriad ways we can serve the Lord by serving others.  

The key to cultivating a grateful heart?  "He must increase; I must decrease (John 3:30)."  So the next time you're experiencing a first world problem, do like Mother Teresa says:  smile at God and look for Him in that moment.

"I can do only one thing, like a little dog follow closely the Master's footsteps.  Pray that I be a cheerful dog."  
- Mother Teresa to Fr. Picachy, her spiritual director