3.25.2011

Quick Takes

1.  The last time I blogged from the airport, I was headed to Texas.  More specifically I was headed to Dallas Texas.  Well, I'm blogging from the airport again, so that must mean I'm going to Texas again!  This time, I'm headed a bit further south to Houston.  When we get back next week, we will be NFP Instructors.

2.  AND we will have finally met Alison in person!  I'm so excited about this one that it deserves it's own take!  I think I 'met' Alison through Elizabeth and thinking, well, if a Pennsylvania girl can be taught NFP from a Texas girl, surely a WV girl can be too, right?  I never did ask how these two ladies know each other - ladies, how do you know each other?

3.  Well, since I wrote #2, I've found out that Mei Mei was not so well behaved at my mom and step-dad's house.  (She freaked out at being left alone, it didn't occur to me that this was going to be her first time every being totally alone.  She's always at least had Kali at home with her.)  She's been since relocated to the vet/kennel where Kali is and they say she is doing super well and was very happy to see her big sister.

4.  And since I wrote #2, I had a mini melt down in the Pittsburgh airport over the whole Mei Mei thing that distracted me from continuing on and then it was time to board our plane.  Soooo, now I am finishing up in Orlando where it is a much warmer 80 degrees.  It's too bad we can't go outside and enjoy the weather while we wait for our next flight.

5.  And frankly, I'm still a little distracted by wishing that I'd trusted my instincts and sent Mei Mei to the kennel to begin with.  Someday I'll learn.  Maybe.

6.  Since, I'm all distracted and The Man is trying to tell me all about his plans to go visit his friends, I think it's time to let it go and pay attention to him.

7.  Have a good weekend!  And be sure to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!

3.18.2011

Forgiveness

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall.
~Matthew 7:24 - 27




A couple of weeks ago, after listening to the Gospel that included Matthew 7:24 - 27, our priest spoke about forgiveness as the foundation of our lives.  That forgiveness must be the rock upon which we build our house.  As Christians, forgiveness can never be option.  It must be the condition of our lives.


I have turned back to this page in my journal almost daily since writing down these words.  Meditating about what it means to my life specifically.  We all have things in our life that we need to forgive and be forgiven for.  I am extremely hard on myself and will often beat myself up over things from long ago.  And yes, I know that I must learn to truly forgive myself.  But that's not where I struggle the most.


Forgiving my parents is a daily struggle.  Not in the sense of I still feel bitterness all the time, but the hurt is still there, lingering.  This month marks twenty-three years since the divorce.  For most of these 23 years, I underestimated what their divorce meant in my life.  When asked, I always said it was the best thing for everyone.  I always said that it was the best decision for everyone and that I am blessed to have two loving step-parents and a little brother.  And while I am blessed to have two loving step-parents and a little brother, how do I reconcile that with the fact that my family had to be torn apart for it to be this way?  I mean I understand the logistics of it, but I struggle with why?


It's not so much the question of why did my parents divorce.  I figure they either knew what they were talking about or got lucky when they said "we'll explain it when you are older," because now that I am older I don't want to know all of the details.  I don't care.  Or rather, I don't trust either one of them.  Or rather, I understand that their truth is going to be skewed by their individual perspective and bias.  The whole truth is something I would have to piece together for myself, and frankly I don't care.  It won't change the fact that they are divorced.  It won't change the fact that I have less than 10 memories that include both of my parents in the same house.


No, it's not the 'why did my parents divorce' that plagues me, but rather the 'why did this happen to my family.'  And, they seem to go hand in hand, the 'how would my life have been different?'  Please don't misunderstand, I don't sit around moping and feeling all 'woe is me', but I do wonder.  My parents, as the people I know, aren't the type of people to see the other side.  It doesn't surprise me one bit that they are divorced.  I often wonder why they were married in the first place.  And I wonder what would life be like if they had decided to fight for their marriage instead of with one another?  What if they had put working together to build a healthy marriage and family at the top of their priority list?  What if they had stayed true to their marriage vows and honored the Sacrament?


The 'what ifs' could go on forever but, honestly, it's not the questions that bother me, but my inability to see what might have been.  It is nearly impossible for me to imagine how my life might have been.  My parents being married is such a foreign concept to me, I cannot even imagine it.


And this is what I work to forgive every day.  Not all day, every day.  But a part of the day, every day.  I  know that they did what they felt was best.  I know their intention was never to hurt us.  I know that I am loved.  I know that the divorce hurt them as well.  That doesn't make the urge to stomp my feet and scream 'this wasn't fair' or 'why me' any less.  What I know and how I feel are so distinctly different that for years I have kept the what I feel part buried deep beneath the what I know part.


Forgiving my parents...


I know this, I feel better when my house is built on the rock of forgiveness and not on the sands of bitterness and 'why?'.  But sometimes, it is so much easier to build a sand house than a house of rock.



Forgiveness is never an option, it is the condition of our lives.
~Father Mark Ward



3.17.2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Big Dance Style


Gold/Yellow + Blue = Green

Let's Goooooooo Mountaineers!!!!!!

3.16.2011

One More Year

That's the decision that The Man and I made.  When looking at the options as to what to do regarding my current job situation, we decided that I would stay one more year.  My replacement has been hired as an Assistant Director and will be trained as Director while she finishes up her degree over the next year.

It isn't the way I thought this would all turn out in October when I started making plans to change careers (again).  But, it is a good decision.  It ensures that the countless hours of hard work I have put in to effect change will have the best chance to continue, while giving me time to figure out exactly what direction I want to take.  It will also ensure a consistent paycheck for the next year.  While I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to make the income that we need, I will say I do feel a sense of relief over knowing that there won't be stress about this.

I do feel that there is more change that God is calling me to effect.  That there is a part of this 'fight' that is mine to fight.  And while I won't be working with children with hearing loss full time, I will still be working with some and I will be continuing to explore the options that are available to me.

No, it's not the road I expected to be turning down, but I do like where it seems to be heading.  It is just one more stretch on this road home.

3.14.2011

Can of Worms

Abortion, Revisited


For some background on this specific topic, go here and here.

So, why revisit this?  Why now?  What has possibly changed in the last few months?  Well, nothing really - except my understanding of abortion.  I realize now I was speaking off-the-cuff when I thought I was well educated.  I was wrong.  The best way I can think to explain this is to make a bullet point list of what I {mis}understood before and how I understand it now.  (How/what I used to think is in bold, followed by what has changed in italics.)

1.  Planned Parenthood (and other organizations like it) gives women who are in an unplanned pregnancy equal information about all of the options available to them.  Like it or not, choosing life is still a choice.  For many of us, it is the only choice to even consider, but it is still a choice.  I thought that PP truly counseled women and worked to ensure an abortion was only performed as a last result.  I had never visited their website before and I admit that I was shocked.  Then I read Unplanned, as well as other resources, and learned differently.  I always thought that if a woman had ALL of the information available and still chose an abortion, then maybe it truly was the best choice for her.  Now I wonder how many women were/are truly given ALL of the information?


2.  Abortion 'clinics' are just like any other outpatient medical clinic and must follow the same regulations as any other medical facility.  Um, not even close.  I was shocked, mouth-open, eyes-gaping, shocked at this.  And I've not even seen one of these clinics for myself, it's just the news stories about some of these places and stories from women who've had abortions that I've read (and not all of them were women who regretted their abortion either).


3.  The 'pro-life movement' is all about making abortion illegal.  Period.  Actually, pro-life organizations work to help women who are in an unplanned pregnancy to understand that there is already a life.  To help them to determine whether the best thing for that life is for the woman to parent herself or to pursue adoption.


4.  That crisis pregnancy centers are few and far between and based completely on a faith-based argument.  I was pleasantly surprised to find (what did we do before Google?)that in my town there are 2 crisis pregnancy centers (pro-life) and no abortion clinics (that I could tell were abortion clinics anyway from their internet information) .  I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that there are crisis pregnancy centers, Birthright for example, that are not affiliated with a religion.  Not everyone is at a point where a faith-based point of view is effective.


5.  The only way to ensure that a woman truly facing the principle of double effect is able to have the procedure she needs to survive is to ensure that abortion stays legal.  I just don't see (anymore) how what happens in an abortion clinic to a woman (and baby) who walk in perfectly healthy is the same as what happens in the operating room of a hospital where 2 (or more) lives hang in the balance.  It's not even the same thing.  I think it ties into my misunderstanding of what an abortion clinic is.


6.  Making abortion illegal only puts a bandaid on the problem.  I still think if all we do is make abortion illegal, we aren't solving the actual problem.  It's bigger than that.  But now, I do think that working to make what happens at abortion clinics illegal is just as important as working to change what it is about our society that makes us 'need' abortion.


So, how do I get from there to here?  It was from some of the links in the comments on the posts above.  It was reading Unplanned.  It was Sarah's words.  And Michelle's words.  And Leila's words.  It was stopping the assuming that I *knew* and starting the looking for more information.  It was hours searching and reading both pro-choice and pro-life websites.  It was answering the question:  Why do I know it's wrong for me, but say that it's okay for someone else?  


But ultimately, it's about realizing that I don't have to know the answer.  I don't have to know the perfect solution.  It's realizing that it's OK to say I'm pro-life, even if that means I get labeled as 'small minded'. It's realizing that it's OK to say that abortion is a horrible thing, even if it means that it will stop the dialogue with some.  And it's OK to disagree with the choice of another and still value and love them.  It's about saying a prayer instead of trying to convince someone.  It's about realizing that while it wouldn't be easy, there is a way to draw the line and say that a late term abortion that saves the life of the mother when the only other option was death for mother and baby is different than an abortion out of convenience.  It's about realizing that a woman who is raped can be healed through either process of raising her child or placing her child for adoption.

And for the first time, I feel settled when I say I am pro-life.  Not only for 'myself' as I always used to qualify it, but for every life.

This Can of Worms has been opened.  What do you think?

3.11.2011

Quick Takes

1.  It's FRIDAY!   I don't know about you, but I am ready for this weekend.  It has been a looooong week.

2.  We were supposed to get 4 - 6 inches of snow today.  As I look out my window, I can still see grass!  I'm all for a late winter snow fall, but 4 - 6 inches just messes everything up.  If it's gonna snow in March, I'd much prefer blizzard depths!

3.  Life has been so very very busy lately.  It's all good busy for the most part, but I could really use a day or two of quiet.  With no where to be, and nothing to do.  By good busy, I mean things I signed up for, not things that were added to my schedule unexpectedly.

4.  Despite all of the busy, I'm proud to say that I've still been squeezing in all of my runs and have made it to week 5 of the Couch to 5K program.  Some days it's because I know Sara wants to go and I don't want to let her down, but most days it's because I'm ready for my run.  Now I just need to find a way to squeeze in some swimming.

5.  The Madness has started - March Madness that is!  The Mountaineers bowed out of the Big East Tournament in the 2nd round.  Now we wait and see where we end up in the big dance.  I'm not expecting a Final Four repeat, but a trip to the Sweet Sixteen would be, well, sweet (and also unexpected).

6.  The Man and I are heading up to Pittsburgh after work tonight to have dinner with my friend C and her family!  C and I went to grad school together and we used to see each other every other month or so when The Man and I lived in Martinsburg (C is from the Harrisburg area).  Now that we are in Morgantonwn, our visits have been much farther apart.  I'm looking forward to dinner and fun with friends tonight!

7.  Two weeks from today, we leave for Texas!  Learning and practicing NFP has blessed our life in ways I never imagined, to be able to pay it forward means so much to me.  These two weeks seem like forever right now, but I know they will fly by!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!

3.09.2011

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  The start of the Lenten Season.  It's time to fast, pray, and give.  And it is the start of the next 40 Days for Life campaign.

It's been a while since my Can of Worms week, and even longer since this Can of Worms, and in that time I've read a lot, learned a lot, and prayed a lot.

But, today isn't about Cans of Worms.  Today is about starting the journey to Good Friday, so that we may experience the joy of Easter Sunday.

Today is about praying, dying to self, and following Jesus who taught us to love one another - following him all the way through the cross to His resurrection.  Later, I will write more (actually I will publish more, it's already written).

Comments are closed on this post.  Take a moment to pray instead.

3.06.2011

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

This is what the Catholic Church asks of us during the season of Lent.  But it's not just a 'one and done' kind of thing.  We are asked to recognize the link between these practices and baptismal renewal; to not just pray, fast, and give alms during Lent, but beyond.  To experience a true conversion in our lives.  (Reference:  USCCB - The Lenten Season)

My standard Lenten sacrifice has been sweets.  To give up all sweets.  And usually I do pretty well.  During Lent.  But, come Easter Sunday, I quickly reacquaint myself with all things high-fructose.  The fact that I do so well during Lent is great, and believe me a lot of prayer takes place as I pass up the desserts at our parish Friday Fish Fries.  But, I miss the point of a conversion in my life.

This year, I'm trying something different.  I'm going to pray, fast, and give alms in a way that I plan to continue after Easter Sunday.  I will die to self for 40 days in hopes that a new me will be reborn when the tomb is found to be empty, just as I was at baptism.

Pray
I had seen reference to The Power of a Praying Wife a few times.  And then I found Megan, and enjoyed reading her excerpts on Mondays.  I enjoyed them so much, it was one of the first books I downloaded for my Kindle.  I read the first couple of chapters, and then it was time to start the Bible in 90 Days.  I found the daily bible reading took much of my time and when I finished I needed something Lighter than The Power of a Praying Wife.  But then, I discovered that there is The Power of a Praying Husband and suggested to The Man that this pair of books might provide excellent Lenten reading material.  He agreed!  I am looking forward to praying for each other in ways we might never have considered before.  I am confident these books will be not only excellent during Lent, but will also provide both a starting and reference point for us to continue to pray for one another after Lent.

Fast
Lenten fasting is usually likened to giving up certain foods and/or abstaining from meat on Fridays.  As I said, I've always given up sweets for Lent, but quickly returned to them on Easter Sunday.  This year, I am giving up something completely different.  I am giving up all the spending I do that in isolation doesn't equal much, but when added up at the end of the month is sometimes alarming.  As the person responsible for paying the bills in our house, I know when there is an extra $5 or $10 and I'm great at spending it.  It is a bad habit that I need to change and I think Lent is an excellent time to start.  At first, I thought about spending absolutely no money that didn't go to existing bills or household expenses, but I have reconsidered because I am truly trying to begin a more responsible way to handle money that I can continue after Easter.  And we do have some 'fun' money allotted for in our budget.  Unfortunately, we don't usually get to that 'fun' money because I've usually spent it as 'extra' money.  I expect this to be very difficult for me, as I don't always even realize what I am doing (I'm sure that sounds crazy to some of you, but it's true).  My plan to help with this is to leave my debit card at home every day - to remove the temptation so to speak.  I anticipate there being 'extra' money in our bank account at the end of each month as a result of my spending fast, and my first instinct was to keep track of the money that I would have spent and then donate that amount.  We are not sure that is the responsible choice for us at this point though.  With my job changing from a consistent, predictable paycheck every two weeks to a variable amount on a less predictable schedule, we believe that building our savings is the right thing to do with the majority of this 'extra' money.

Almsgiving
The point of almsgiving is not just to 'throw money at a problem', but rather to give of my time, talent, and/or treasure to effect change.  In the past year or so, as I have continued to learn through my reversion process, I have learned about Catholic Social Teaching.  I have made small changes in my every day life, like no longer shopping at W.al M.art and choosing products from the most just companies possible.  It isn't much, but I truly believe Mahatma Gandhi had it right when he said 'be the change you wish to see in the world.'  That, combined with my desire to maintain balance, I plan to spend time finding ways to spread the knowledge of NFP.  I am glad that our instructor training will take place during Lent, as I am confident that it will be an excellent spring board for this.

I am so looking forward to this Lenten Season.  I am ready for the journey to the cross because I'm looking forward to meeting the 'me' that is reborn as a result.

What are your Lenten plans?

3.05.2011

Saturday Evening Blog Post


I can't believe it's the first Saturday of March, this year is flying by already.

Usually, when it's time for Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post, I look back through my archives and think 'meh, there's nothing here worth reposting.'  But today, I am having a hard time picking just one post.

There is my last post at 'Feel My Love' where I introduced you all to this new place.  And then there is my explanation as to why this place is called 'The Road Home' (but that's not really a post).

But ultimately, I think my favorite topic from February was Balance.

Please be sure to visit Elizabeth and check out everyone else's February favorite. 

3.04.2011

Is It My Fight?

I will be heading to Romney this coming week to once again spend the day working with the children and teachers at the WV School for the Deaf.  This day will be the bright spot in the middle of my week and I know I will come home *knowing* that I am making the right decision in leaving my current job.

But, there are days when I wonder if I am doing the right thing.  Days when I wonder if I'm ignoring the signs God is giving me because I want what I want.  But then I wonder (worry?) if those aren't really signs from God, but rather the devil trying to distract me.  And last night I posed this question at GYP (a Catholic Faith Group for Graduate Students and Young Professionals), hoping for some guidance.  I ♥ my faith group.  Not only did I get a perspective I had not thought of, but a place to start as I pray for clarity.

As I get closer to a 'last day', there are questions creeping into my mind.  Am I risking the financial security we have worked so hard to regain?  Am I disciplined enough to work based out of my home?  Am I biting off more than I can chew?  Yet, the answers to these questions seem clear.  I am willing to do whatever I need to do to ensure that our financial situation remains secure.  If this means waitressing on the weekends, then it means waitressing on the weekends.  I was not disciplined enough to work out of my home, but I was also questioning the value of the business I was in.  There is no questioning the value of working with families of children with a disability.  Maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew, but I'm determined to keep on chewing.

So what's the problem?  That's a question I've asked myself.  And the problem lies between the following choices:
1)  Follow my heart/my gut and take this leap.
2)  Stay in my current job and insist that some changes be made (I am the Director, but I answer to the Owner.  If I were an Owner, I would do things very differently).  Changes that I feel strongly are the right thing to do; that are based on treating people with respect.  These changes would not be easy to make as it would involve a lot of digging my heels in and refusing to budge.  It would involve insisting on doing the right thing instead of the easy thing.  And I feel, to a small degree, like I'm taking the easy way out if I don't take this option.
3)  Stay in my current job and continue the statue quo.

For me, option 3 is not really an option.  It is the wrong thing to do.  And so, it is between the first two that I find myself floating.  Between 2 'right' choices.  And the question I've asked myself is:  If I'm supposed to be going down this new path, then why are there so many road blocks to it?  Why are there 'signs' that it's not the right one - that it's really the 2nd path that I'm supposed to follow?  But then, why do I feel so called to the leap of faith?  Why do I feel called to work with children with hearing loss?

And last night at GYP, I was presented with a way to help sort this all out.  It's not a question of what is right or wrong for the second option.  But rather a question of is this the fight God wants me to fight?  Is changing things at my current job, while it is needed and it is a right thing to do, is it the path God wants me to be on?  And while I didn't get an answer immediately, I do feel like I have a more productive prayer to pray.  Instead of 'what is the right thing to do' (when both are morally 'right') I've been asking 'is this the fight You would have me fight?  Is this my fight?'

I don't have a clear answer yet, but I do feel more at peace with the current path.  And on Wednesday, as I drive over the mountains, I look forward to prayerfully considering this.