Thursday, October 30, 2014

CYW Book Club {Week 5, Chapter 4}

You have no idea how much I'm enjoying gathering with you precious ladies each week to discuss this book. Your thoughts and reflections have at times brought me to tears! You are beautiful! I'm so blessed by your sincere, passionate, vulnerable, womanly hearts. Thank you for being a part of this.

And if you're just now joining in? Welcome! The previous chapter posts are all still open for comments and we'd love to hear from you.

Last but not least, did you hear the news?? Author Colleen Carroll Campbell is allowing CYW to interview her for our book club!!!!! I know!!! I'm SO excited! Don't forget to email me your questions and your question may be chosen for the final interview!

Here are the discussion questions for the week:

Chapter 4: A Mother at Heart 

Saint Edith Stein believed that each woman has a maternal spirit. What does that maternal spirit look like in you? Colleen writes about the dark side of a woman’s maternal inclinations, when those inclinations are distorted by sin. These negative traits and habits include nagging, manipulation, domineering behavior and gossip. What are some ways you have seen these weaknesses in yourself? What safeguards can you put in place to curb them? Saint Edith also wrote that “objective work” and daily quiet prayer are twin ways to combat these weaknesses. What are a few concrete ways in which you can apply this doctrine to your own life? 

Fun question: Which book have you re-read the most times in your life?

Catching up or looking back? Here are the rest of the weeks' links:

Introduction/Note to the Reader
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CYW Book Club: Special Announcement!

Colleen Carroll Campbell, author of our book club book My Sisters The Saints, has agreed to do a short interview for us! How exciting is that??

I'll be submitting the questions to her in the next couple weeks, so please email me with any ideas or questions you have for her and your question might be included! I'm so happy for us to have this opportunity-- it will be like she's joining us for one of our cozy book club meetings!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

When God Sends You a Nice Catholic Boy, and then Says No

Am I always writing about relationships? *cough* Is that part of my problem? Probably.
Today in the mail I got a new book called "The Keys to Life: Everyday Wisdom from Saint John Paul II." First of all, I'm a JPII fangirl so I'm very excited about this book! It's full of JPII quotes and other tidbits. The first page I turned to was so timely. Another reminder of God's presence in my life, and a segue into my topic today.
"When a young man or woman recognizes that authentic love is a precious treasure, they are also enabled to live their sexuality in accordance with the divine plan, rejecting the false models which are, unfortunately, all too frequently publicized and very widespread."
And then some advice from the editors:
"Entrust your relationships to God (especially a dating relationship) and pray today for an increase in purity of mind and body. Commit to saying a prayer for purity before every date you go on."
I wanted to write about acceptance today. Resignation. But those are actions with such a negative connotation. So instead, I'm going to write about joy.

Because while I might expect myself to feel sad, rejected, alone, miserable -- I don't. I feel joyful. I feel secure in God's arms. I feel trusting in His plan, that He's got this. I feel blessed for the great Catholic friends I have. I feel complete with God's love.

You see, He keeps telling me no. But it's not an empty "no," it's a beautiful "no" filled with such great Love. He doesn't want me to settle for anything. He doesn't want me to walk too far down the wrong path. He doesn't want to let go of my hand. He won't let me go and get myself in trouble. Instead, He's patient with me while I worry about relationships and boys and feelings. And He's clear in telling me to stop, that the time is not now. To say no and wait. But to realize all that I'm getting by saying no.

I'm getting God all to myself. I don't have to share my love with anyone -- just Him. He gets my entire heart, and then I can share His love with my friends and family. And I'm literally bursting with happiness in His arms. He's holding my heart and keeping it safe, and nurturing it when it's wounded.

I'm getting wonderful Catholic guy friends. One of my biggest problems is I've never had strong male friend figures in my life. I've never had people who know how to treat a woman, who really care about me, who are looking out for me, who consider me a great friend. Naturally, since I've never had a faithful Catholic who knows how to treat a lady, obviously when one comes along he simply must be made to marry me, right? (Seriously, my brain is a very weird thing sometimes...I blame college.)

I'm getting proof of God's grace. He let this little heartbreak happen. And then He immediately gave me the grace to get over it. Like, I wasn't even sad. I didn't cry, there was no ice cream. He gave me the grace to trust Him and keep moving forward.

As Grace wrote, why does being single have to be such a bad thing?? We tell ourselves that it's a "great time of blessing," and that we're "grateful for this time with God," but do we really believe it? I say I don't want a boyfriend and that I want to wait for the man God has for me. And yet I let myself get involved with emotional crises and then worry my head off. But it's OK, because God is very patient with me -- more patient than I deserve, especially because such incessant worrying takes my focus away from God. Not a good thing at all.

God knows what learning experiences I need. And He gives them to me, even when it does hurt. Every time something like this happens -- and yes, it's happened a lot -- God is pulling me just a little bit closer to His heart. Pretty soon, I won't be able to leave again, and I won't want to either. And isn't that the goal? Even if I end up happily married to a good Catholic man one day in the future, God still gets my first and complete Love. Then I can share God's overflowing Love with my husband.

Maybe I'll finally learn not to freak out every time a decent Catholic gentleman decides he wants to get to know me and be friends with me. That's such a novel concept in our secular dating culture. But I think I'm finally getting God's point. I'm just gonna chill, relax, wait. But it isn't acceptance and resignation. It's a joyful running towards God so He can Love me until the end of time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

CYW Book Club {Week 4: Chapter 3}

Welcome, ladies! I'm curled up this evening with some peanut butter toast and a cup of milk as I type this before bed. So sorry we're meeting later than usual with the book club, but I didn't forget you! 

I'd love to hear more from those of you reading the book-- or those of you who have already finished it! 

A few weeks ago, I had a girlfriend visit from Michigan and we had a lovely weekend catching up on all that was new in the past year. She's going through a season of trials, including her dad's struggle with dementia. I immediately thought of My Sisters The Saints because I have been overwhelmingly touched, encouraged, and strengthened by the author's story. After K. left, I bought the book online and had it mailed directly to her. She read the whole book in less than a week and wrote me to say how deeply meaningful it was to her and how much she wanted to thank me for introducing such a perfect and timely book to her. I know the Holy Spirit was behind it all, and I pray that He is speaking to you through this book as well. 

Here are the review questions for the week:

Chapter 3: Trust Fall 

Colleen describes accepting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work as a speechwriter for the President. But this job couldn’t fill the ache in her soul for marriage. Have you ever felt the call to sacrifice something important to you for something better? How have you seen the faithfulness of God in that sacrifice? Colleen describes the atmosphere surrounding the speechwriting staff as a “boys’ club.” Have you ever felt out of place somewhere that you believed God had called you to be? Write out quotes from the saints or Bible verses that remind you of your value to God. Colleen writes that Saint Faustina seemed to embody the verse, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5).” At the end of this chapter, Colleen realizes that it is not enough to say she trusts in God; she must act as though she does, whether or not she feels it. What’s the difference? Are actions or words more important? Why? 

Catching up or jumping ahead? Here are the chapter links:

Introduction/Note to the Reader
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Journey

I loved Grace's thoughts yesterday on pain and grace in our stories! I thought you might enjoy reading some of my story in this interview and how I've learned to surrender to the process and allow the Lord to get to work. He turns messes into messages, trials into triumphs, struggles into strengths. Click the picture below to take you to my interview as well as the stories of other single women living the journey!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We Can Relish the Pain

Pain. It's something we all deal with...the part of life, the everyday trips + cold winds + moments of silence that we don't like to acknowledge. Or speak of.

One thing that has truly been cemented for me during my college years is that everyone I meet - no matter how happy, how bubbly, how extroverted - has a story that no one else knows.

We all carry a little pain with us at all times.

There's no "golden" part of life -  one myth that I did believe and have since realized to be in error.

We talk about pain, about the big struggles of life, but I think sometimes we neglect to mention the little things, the tiny whispers of hurt, the small but numerous burdens that each of us carries. Perhaps your pain is something large - you've lost a parent or recently ended a relationship. Or perhaps it is small, such as struggling with waking early and making it to class on time or have difficulty making small talk or even opening up.

Each time I grow cynical and weary of humanity, inevitably, I am reminded in some small manner that a person is an incredibly complex being with as many hidden treasures and winding paths as a hallowed, small and yet infinite room of books. Here and there are volumes that speak of cheer and happiness and hard work and enthusiasm...but a few books are shabby. Worn out. Weary. Missing a cover.

Does that make them any less important? Or any less a part of the overall wonder of the room?

We try so hard to work through "the bad" in life. We speak of seasons, of being in funks, of off moods, of trials and tribulations. Everyone wants to pass through the clouds and chilling, tulmatious rainstorms. But pain is something that shapes us, like steel being formed in flame, or pressure that forms the clay. Would we grow without the pain?

Somehow, I don't think so.

I think often of where I am in life, both literally and figuratively. Where I am as a young adult in college, with less "real world" responsibilities surrounded by a community of similar people. And also where I am as a human being, still forming, still shaping, still growing. Pain grants perspective and deep thought and solitude...we want to work through the pain, so we pay attention to aspects of ourselves that perhaps we don't give thought to during the "good days."

What does it mean to recognize and acknowledge pain as something inevitable that often strengthens and changes us? Someone once said nothing worth doing is ever easy...Christ told us this also. The way we are called is a hard one to walk. But there is a deep internal promise that resonates within us...some good is coming of this. Some good will be made of this.

In no way is pain itself good, nor should one practice pain, but there is an enormous amount of grace and peace in accepting that there will always be a hard season in life. That no one person or job or situation will make us perfectly happy.

So we stand in the quiet of a crowd, and we breathe deep, and relish the pain - as much as we don't want it - because we know it's changing us.

It's strengthening us.

It's bringing us through something that hurts sharp and deep, but by heavens, we are not God and sometimes we need that reminder of humility. To remember that we cannot pen the pages of our life with the picture-book perfection we all want.

It's good, I think. To stop and wonder where we are now. To wonder why this particular person, place, or thing in our life is bringing confusion and pain.

And to decide in the quiet, to learn from it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

CYW Book Club {Week 3: Chapter 2}

Welcome again, ladies! How was chapter 2? If you haven't joined us yet, you are still so very welcome! Want to catch up on the past few discussions? You can check them out here:

Introduction/Note to the Reader
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Here are the discussion questions for this week! Let us know your thoughts and then begin chapter 3 for next time!

Chapter 2: A Child Again 

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux wrote about her “little way” which consisted of small, everyday acts of love. These included befriending a particularly cranky nun and not losing patience with others. What are some specific things you could do to better the lives of those around you, as offerings to God in the “little way?” When Thérèse heard of her father’s passing, her reaction was strangely peaceful. How can you find the good—and God’s will—in bad tidings? Just as Alzheimer’s made Colleen’s father more like a child in his faith, Thérèse also strove for childlike faith in God. Why? What qualities do children possess that are essential to your faith?

Fun question of the week: If you could be friends with any book character or author, who would you choose?