Take 7 (10)

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I have an article on “Overcoming procrastination” that the Chair of our Department gave all of us students last May.  And I have still not read it.

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Yesterday I had the hiccups at my desk and our post-doc asked me, “Did you steal something?”  Apparently in Korea, hiccups mean you stole something.  The things I learn.

(and no, I didn’t).

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I turned in a jar of coins that I had on my desk at home.  $77.39!  Not bad!  And what did I do with that $77.39?

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I bought a new digital camera!  Yes, after my cord decided to reappear unfortunately the whole camera decided to die.  Coin.star has a cool feature where you can turn your coins into an Amazon.com gift-certificate without it taking the normal 9% of your deposit.  So I did it!  And I feel thrifty.  Still waiting for its arrival.

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Its been two years since my Grandma died.  All types of anniversaries hit me hard.  As a little remembrance, I re-read the memory book she wrote for each of us grandchildren about her life.  My favorite are the last few pages where she wrote about each of her sons and how proud she was of them.  And then there are a few pages about how much she loved her husband.  My favorite, favorite page is the last one where my grandpa puts his two-cents in and gushes about how much he loves Grandma and how much he appreciated her sacrifices for their family, like putting up with moving around so much due to the military (they averaged one move a year for at least 12 years – sometimes two).

My dad’s family doesn’t talk about emotions that much so this book is such a treasure to me.  Makes me want to say out-loud how I feel more.  But it also makes me realize that just because its not said, its not appreciated.  I can need too much instant gratification sometimes.  My grandparents seem much more patient.

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Hubby’s interview in CA went really well.  I don’t know what this means for our future/house/relationship/families, but I’m happy “nerd nirvana” liked him :)

That being said….

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I really, really need to graduate now.  I can’t be the one holding us back!

Please check out Jen over at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

101 Wednesday v1

I’m trying out this new feature!  101 Wednesday is where you have a chance to post something basic about our Catholic faith, life, and/or teachings.  Head over to No Heavy Lifting to participate and/or see more!

I’ll keep it light this week since I literally just found out about this a few minutes ago and I’m breaking my no posting during the day rule (again).  Its almost lunch though, right?

“God has deemed it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit evil at all.” ~St. Augustine

I guess this post has two main points:  the idea of suffering and the importance of the early Church fathers.

In efforts to disprove the existence of God, most people point to natural disasters as proof that God doesn’t exist, that God CAN’T exist because if he did, why would he allow such horrible things to happen?  I feel like the above quote from St. Augustine sums up Catholic thought in a nutshell, that through suffering we can ultimately be made better and purer than we could without it and that even suffering has a purpose.  Even if we can’t see it or it seems too painful to get through.  Its like another version of the “nothing worth doing is easy” quote.

I think the Catholic view is different than most new non-denom, evangelical feel-good churches (such as Joel Osteen) that teach the prosperity message where if you only believe or have enough faith, only blessings will happen.  Catholic teaching is to embrace it all, sufferings and easily identifiable blessings, as blessings. Look at Jesus on the cross.  Such pain was necessary.  What if Jesus had said, “Nah, actually guys, I don’t think its entirely necessary that I need to go through all of this humiliation and dying thing.”  He didn’t.  It was necessary.

Also, the second half of this was to point out the importance of the early Church fathers in helping us to unravel God’s revelations.  The Church didn’t just fall out of the sky and neither did the Bible.  Can you imagine being around during those early years when the holy spirit was working through all these people to understand the new convent and basic Christian principles?  Like the idea that suffering could be a good thing!  I never quite understood why Catholics regarded these “old people” so highly, but it is literally awe-some to consider what insight and how full of God’s grace they must have been to be able to understand these concepts which were so revolutionary. One thing I really want to do more of is read their original writings.  I’ll put that on my never ending “to-do” list!

The Difference Between Two Lists

I just read a super, super good article that I had to share immediately.  More concisely written than I could have ever done.  She hits the nail on the head with the same hammer that hit me on the head about 4 years ago (did that even make sense? At least it provided an interesting mental picture!).

It has never been about “it” being or not being a baby.  Everyone knows its a baby.  The difference is in the lists.  Here’s a snippet, but I encourage you to go read the whole article here.

It was then that I could finally articulate the source of the anger I’d felt all these years. In every society, there are two critical lists: acceptable conditions for having a baby, and acceptable conditions for having sex. From time immemorial, the one thing that almost every society had in common is that their two lists matched up. It was only with the widespread acceptance of contraception in the middle of the 20th century, creating an upheaval in the public psyche in which sex and babies no longer went hand-in-hand, that the two lists began to diverge. And now, in 21st-century America, they look something like this:
Conditions under which it is acceptable to have sex:
  • If you’re in a stable relationship
  • If you feel emotionally ready
  • If you’re free of sexually transmitted diseases
  • If you have access to contraception
Conditions under which it is acceptable to have a baby:
  • If you can afford it
  • If you’ve finished your education
  • If you feel emotionally ready to parent a child
  • If your partner would make a good parent
  • If you’re ready for all the lifestyle changes that would be involved with parenthood
As long as those two lists do not match, we will live in a culture where abortion is common and where women are at war with their own bodies.
This is one reason why I believe NFP truly empowers women.

Not Even In My King Cake

I have a confession.

I ate nearly a whole king cake.

Are you familiar with the king cake?  I think it originated in New Orleans as a Mardi Gras tradition, but I’m sure as I’m too lazy to even look at my own link :)  All I know is it has to be Southern since I had never heard of it until I moved to Texas.

Anyway, its a super yummy cake that the BIL bought his wife (and us) in celebration of their new move to Texas.  I was so happy when they brought it home, mostly because like children’s cereal, there’s a surprise inside! And I love surprises.

See, inside the king cake is a little baby.  I didn’t even know what the little baby means, something about good luck?  You get to buy the cake next year?  I could have cared less.  I just wanted to be the one to get the baby.

And I knew I would be!  And it would be a confirmation, some sort of sign that my real baby is on its way too.

“Knowing” I would find the baby slowly turned into “Well, if I eat enough of it my odds are statistically higher than everyone else”.  That was good enough for me too.  I’ll take my divine signs any how I can get them.

That cake really did sit on our counter for almost 2 weeks.  And I kept eating it every day.  Determined to get the baby. A little sliver here, a piece for lunch.  I kept at it.  And I didn’t find the baby.

Until there was only a tiny sliver left.  Of COURSE the baby would be in the last piece left.  The only sliver I didn’t eat.  Just my luck!

So I protested.  I didn’t want the baby anymore.  Sour grapes.  Since at this point I was pretty much the only person still eating the cake (not only was it incredibly sweet to begin with, but now it was stale), I left it there.  Tiny little baby holding sliver. Ensue pity party. Of course that would happen to me.

And then a funny thing happened.  My husband (a.k.a the human trash compactor) ate that last piece this morning.  And the baby wasn’t in there either.

Oh great, I thought, so there wasn’t even a baby to begin with!  I didn’t even have a CHANCE!

Extrapolating previous analogy, I guess this didn’t bode well for my chances at a real life baby either.

And then, as he was cleaning up the box and putting it in the trash can, he asked me if he could throw it all away, including the little packet of mardi gras beads.

Sure, why not, I said, and as he held it out, I glanced at it for a second.  Wait. What’s that thingy?  Guess what I found.

The baby.  Wrapped up in plastic to the side, not actually inserted in this king cake.

Silly me, trying to make analogies of the king cake to my life.  “I can’t even get a baby in a king cake!”

And it turns out the baby was in a plastic baggie the whole time.

What kind of analogy can I make from that?

Kind of creepy, huh?

I think I’ll stop looking for divine signs and just go back to trusting God.

Vulnerability

With my self proclaimed ban on posting during the day and my home being infinitely more exciting at night with our new house guests, I’ve found it harder to keep blogging regularly.

I’ve missed being able to sort out my thoughts a little more.

One important thing I’ve realized this past few weeks is that none of us are alone.  Adoration cleanses hearts.  And I have a stellar group of people there to open up with when I finally make the effort.  Usually its opening up that’s the hardest part.  Showing vulnerability.  But isn’t that part of what we’re called to do?  Trust God and serve others?  Whether we look to the internet for support or for our families and friends, it feels good to give comfort to each other.

And it feels good to receive it as well!

Especially from wee little ones like this guy.

His smile will make you forget everything that’s off with the world and remember everything that is good.

And sisters who listen despite being sleep deprived from the realities of living with above cute little guy!

Conversations with good friends like this one help too :)

God is faithful.

Defense against Islam – What I learned from my international office mates

Of all the things I talk about with my office mates, research, cultural traditions, English idioms, Communism, the one-child policy, and the proper pronunciation of the letter “v”, probably the most interesting topic of conversation is religion.

Besides the one other (American) Catholic office mate, the others are all undeclared, Buddhist variants, or atheists, but all sometimes go to the Christian events on campus for the free food.

We’ve had some pretty good discussions about God but by far the most intense conversations come from another Muslim student from Saudi Arabia who’s office is down the hallway from mine.  He’s very friendly and shares his Arabian “coffee” with all of us (it tastes more like tea).   He comes in periodically to say “hi”, comment on why I have no children, and usually starts a controversial discussion with a one liner, such as the following:

1.  “Seriously, why would God become man?  How can Jesus be God?”

or my new personal favorite:

2.  “Where in the Bible does it say you can’t have four wives?”

Usually when he poses these questions, I try to laugh it off and avoid confrontation.  At an academic institution I don’t really want to get into intense argument in the middle of the day.  And with my faith being so personal, it can be hard to just discuss it when you know that the other person has no interest in understanding your side (although this could be refuted since he is asking me the questions).  Mostly, I’m usually caught very off guard and have no idea how to respond most concisely.  And I honestly didn’t know much about Islam to understand how to talk to him in the first place.

In this last conversation that took place, I bucked up and held my own.  I explained why if the Islam, Christian, and Jewish faith were all exactly the same then why aren’t we all Jewish?.  I talked about the fullness of the faith After a couple of rebuttals he admitted he didn’t know anything about the Bible and actually ended the conversation himself!

So, most recent New Year’s goal?  Learn more about Islam apologetics.  When I became Catholic I heavily explored Jewish, protestant, baptist and even Mormon apologetics, but I only briefly looked into Islam.  Do you all know much about it?

I found a very interesting site that I’ve been pouring over and I found a couple of interesting books at the local Catholic bookstore that I’ll have to go back and buy next paycheck.  Given the current world tensions between these two religions, I’m guessing its a good thing for most people to be educated in.  Given my proximity to this certain zealous individual, I’d like to educate myself more appropriately for the sake of discussion :)

As a starting place, I learned that Islam started out as a heresy of Christian teaching and not an entire other religion.  This is particularly interesting when you consider the Crusades against Islam were to stop the spread of this heresy.  I know I need to learn a lot more about them, but I always find it interesting when the mistakes from the Crusades are thrown in the Churches face when people don’t know all the details (*not claiming the Church acting appropriately, I just think that with the explosion of such a dangerous heresy, maybe their reaction is more understandable.  Again, I need to learn more about this).

Most importantly, I think the quote from Galatians 1:6-9 sums it up quite well:

6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Maybe I’ll post more once I have more sources to pull from!

New Year 2010

I know I’m a little late ringing in the new year, but its been a busy one so far!  With the in-laws in town and some vague attempts to do work, I really haven’t had time to blog.  Plus, I made some new year’s resolutions that might be affecting my activity on here.  I’m only allowing myself to look at blogs and post during non-regular day working hours (in an effort to pretend/make myself obey a regular working schedule).  At least until March.  Which is when my proposal is due.  Which is so soon!

So, hopefully now that I’ve put this out there to the world I’ll actually follow through on it!

Accountability.

So what else will be new in 2010?

Well, first things first, there will be pictures!  Because I found my camera cord! (yay for cleaning out the cabinets before the inlaws came!)

Wedding in Texas in 2009

After yet another wedding in Seattle during 2009

At yet another wedding in Seattle, 2009

As you can probably guess, I’m counting on 2010 being full of lots of weddings too!

AND we’ve agreed to become certified NFP teacher TRAINERS!  Yahoo!  It’s a long process, but by the end of 2010 we should be well into it.

Hopefully there will be a graduation (my husband’s), hopefully there will NOT be a move, although it is possible, and hopefully there will be a getting of a full time job and the adjustment that accompanies that.

Other than that, I’m. not. planning. anything.  Because when you plan, God laughs, and I’m done having God laugh at me!  (although I feel like just by saying that, He’s now laughing at me.  Hmm.)

So other than that, only God knows what else is in store for us. And although I know I’m in good hands,  I sometimes wish He would tell me.

Good thing I enjoy surprises :)

viva!