Advent Prayer Buddy Reveal!

I have been looking forward to this post – anxiously watching to see how others are doing their “reveal” as this is my first time being a prayer buddy.

I was happy to be matched up with Awaiting a Child of God:
http://spunkybw.blogspot.com/

as I had checked her blog a few times so I knew a bit about her journey! At the beginning of Advent she had just had a surgery so I was praying for her healing, for her hopes of pgcy and for her dh and family. I was also praying for God’s spirit to guide her doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers.

Her next post showed how some wonderful co-operation was occuring between her IF doc and the doc close to home, so I was really happy to think that perhaps my prayers had been helpful! I also had the chance to see her lovely Christmas tree and to appreciate that she enjoys Christmas as I do 🙂

It’s been wonderful getting to know her and I am praying wonderful things for her in the year to come!

Thank you JBTC for setting up the prayer buddies.

Confessional Wisdom

I was happy to make it out to confession today. Having missed all the scheduled times at my home parish, I went to a church I visit every now and then. (I could call Fr. G. for an apt – but things are so busy this time of year for him, I didn’t want to do that).

There was quite a line up of people so I didn’t want to take forever. I focused on how frustrated and lost I feel, how hard it seems to find peace and trust, how I am veering from having a frequently-thankful perspective to more negative mindset. I mentioned that it feels like I am failing in my job right now, and how I don’t really know how to pray.

Fr. responded with some suggestion for how to pray for direction – after all, God gave us each talents and gifts, and clearly I’ve been able to use them to much better effect previously than I am now. So, thank God for these gifts and ask for His help in moving into a better situation. Yes, there is “bloom where you are planted” – but if it’s not the right situation, you need to work and advocate for yourself to get to where you can work more effectively. Also, he said to not beat myself up about things – stress will do that already!

Finally I mentioned a secret fear that has cropped up for me. DH and I have been through a couple of very difficult times (including some years of IF) – and now this … it gives me almost a fearful “when we are through this crisis, what will God throw at us next ???” Fr. chided me gently for this, saying, “It’s not God that is throwing this at you … it’s the reality of the economy (etc)” I actually DO believe this because of how I see evil working in the world. But I get into phases where it seems like you get through a big trial, only to have another one a few years later!

Anyway I am going to shift to this more “open” prayer for direction. I like that it addresses the fact that I really don’t think this is the place for me, yet doesn’t dictate specific details of how I want things resolved. Not that there is anything wrong with having a clearly defined goal and dream … but I feel better leaving things a bit more open.

We are getting close to the great reveal for Prayer Buddies! I have found it lovely to pray for my person and I’m quite curious to find out who my buddy is. I’m thankful to you both, and to JBTC, as it allows us to share more of our lives 🙂

Hoping 2011 will be better

I don’t feel as excited and joyful about Christmas as I usually do. I think it goes down to stress, mental exhaustion, not being able to focus and juggle as much as usual. This advent, I made it a goal to read something from the Bible every night – and most nights I did – so that is something towards preparing myself for the joy. Prayer buddies was so good for me because it gave me a focus, and morning and evening prayer at the least to pray for my buddy – and for the buddy who is praying for me 🙂

But somehow I can’t seem to find it in myself to hope – to really hope – that things will get better for us. I do hope in a detached kind of way. But there isn’t the same energy that I usually have. I slip into negativity at times.

One time when I thought “I really should send out our “update” letter and Christmas cards … but what will I write? Something along the lines of how stressful 2010 was, how difficult we are finding it on several levels to deal with under-employment for DH, and being in the wrong place for me in my career … how it feels like we’ve been on this hamster wheel forever and it’s hard to believe that ‘this too shall pass’ – hah, that would make good reading!”… yes, I was throwing myself a good pity party there.

Fortunately I realized that there has been a lot of good this year. The trip out West – selling the house quickly and well – having our offer accepted on the other house, where we plan to rent out half and live in half – giving us a bit more room financially. Good medical care, wonderful friendships and family. There is alot that is good.

But I am really hoping and praying that 2011 will be the year that this fumbling about in darkness will be resolved. That DH and I both will find joy, energy and motivation in our careers – that we will recover our stability.

2010 hasn’t been a picnic for many people I know IRL or whose blogs I follow. Of course many have had great joy this year, which is wonderful! But I can think of quite a few people for whom I hope 2011 is a great improvement over 2010.

Ps. Please send some good vibes, prayers, loving thoughts – whatever you can – to TCIE(http://thiscrossiembrace.blogspot.com). There were so many indications that she was pg (after such a difficult year on many fronts) – and just after becoming convinced, it all unravelled.

Guardian angels (m/c ment)

So here’s a question from a six year old. “Is the guardian angel who watches over you, the same one that brings you from heaven into the mummy’s tummy when you start to grow?”

I have been so very fortunate not to experience m/c, but I couldn’t help thinking of dear friends (IRL and blog) who have, when I heard this question.

A kid-ful post

Some days, we just have to tuck humility away and admit we are rock stars 😉

On Friday we hosted a sleepover and had in total, 7 children between the ages of 3 and 6. And we survived. Everyone got at least 8 hours of sleep (not enough for some, but still it is sleep) and had a good time.

Did I mention 3 of the 7 kids have food allergies? Oh yeah, we kicked butt!

Activities included eating (one of my favourite things to do) – I made dairy-free caramel popcorn, the kids made their own pizzas (so preferences and allergies could be accomodated), we had a terrific fruit platter (courtesy of one of the families), and dairy-free muffins for breakfast hte next day (courtesy of the family with the dairy-allergic child). We watched some of the classic Christmas movies – Frosty and Santa Claus is coming to town (a bit scary for one little one). We did crafts (supplied by the other family), played duck duck goose, musical chairs, and I spy. The kids drew on large pieces of paper, built with lego, and made a castle with every cushion available. Mermaids and mermen swam in the moat, but unfortunately sharks attacked and flooded the castle, whereupon the merfolk had to swim for it.

It was definitely busy, busy, busy. But I feel so honoured and privileged to be a significant adult in the lives of these amazing kids. Part of hte reason we planned this sleepover was – it’s something we can do to thank our friends who have been so amazingly good to us – offering moral, emotional and all-round friend support; helping with moving stuff to the storage locker; giving us home made food we can put in the freezer for when we need to pull out dinner, making extra baked goods that are safe for us (allergies to nuts, eggs, fish) … showing up at our house to weed, plant, and arrange planters and mini-pumpkins on the front porch to “stage” our house right before we had showings … unbelievable, amazing, wonderful people. As we are under many stresses now, I don’t feel there’s a lot we can do to show how much we appreciate it all, but hosting a sleepover so that the parents can have a night out on the town (for one couple) or some quiet time with their new babies (for the other two couples) – that’s something we can do. but another big motivator – just having this time to spend with these small but important people at this point in their growing up.

Another special treat for me was watching DH in action. As DH is the oldest of 8 kids, he is very comfortable with children – how to appeal to their senses of humour and how to play with them. It was such a delight to watch him enthral the crowd of kids and have them howling with laughter.

So, everyone survived. I hope the kids weren’t too cranky and annoying from being overtired when they went home (maybe that wasn’t such a favour to do the families??) We are still trying to catch up on our sleep, however …

Sweet daydreams are made of this …

So, I am slogging through trying to get done what I must before I can focus just on recovery. It’s going slowly. I am sleeping quite a bit, and I feel better already.

And – I am daydreaming again. Idle, futile, silly daydreams.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have twins … say, a boy and a girl … hey, let me google “twins after 35” or even “twins at 40” since I would be 39-40 were this to occur. (let’s totally ignore our past history, the fact that we are just about 100% unlikely to take any meds for fertility at this point, and the fact that we can barely afford life as it is … wouldn’t twins be wonderful?)

And, oh, the smaller space we’ll be living in soon would have to be adapted … anyway they could share one crib for awhile, couldn’t they? … and perhaps family would come help out for a bit but then we might need to hire an ECE student or someone to help out so that one baby could be cuddled while the other is being nursed (see above paragraph re: reality of finances). And just imagine the family photos, and Christmas stockings, the first day of school, family holidays … oh I can take lots of time here …

Well, the daydreams are nice while they are in progress, but I wonder if it’s a bit like eat a big bowl of popcorn or gobbling up 6 Oreos in 3 minutes (both of which I think I have done in the past 12 hours). It feels good while you are doing it, but ultimately it isn’t good for your body or your psyche. I’m sure the time and energy would be better spent on a more worthwhile pursuit – meditation, doing my work, cleaning the kitchen. But it’s nice to live in daydream world for a time.

Various: my exciting life, Hannukah, and response to misfit

Some basic updates on my life …

I am off on stress leave.
This has caused a big upheaval several levels up in my work place, which is not necessarily bad. I wouldn’t have believed it a few days ago, but it looks like a plan is coming together that may make it possible for me to go back to the same place, as people higher up the chain are wanting my admin and myself to work together on an approach to handling things. This means we’d all be under a microscope, which is fine with me because I think a part of this situation has been a lack of support from the office. Anyway, for the moment I need to finish my marking & get my mark book in (I’ve been procrastinating this task, Prayer Buddy if you don’t mind I could use some prayers for this!) and after that just work on getting better. I’ll see the doc again early January.

DH was “a close third” when they were going forward with 2 candidates. This has happened to him so many times, that he misses out by a hair’s breadth. So frustrating. He is an amazing person and worker and will rock some company’s world – if he can just get in the door. (sigh). I’m hoping another good opportunity will come along (soon).

I read a post by misfit about a book she’s been reading and some contradictions in it
http://justbeinginfertile.blogspot.com/2010/12/no-such-thing-as-progress.html
and I ended up writing an enormously long response! Since I did all that writing anyway, I figured I’d put it out here – so I will post that below. I don’t know if it’s of interest to anyone but maybe I will need to go back and read it someday 🙂

Just before I leave you with that, I discovered this really cool Hanukkah song – “Candlelight” by the Maccabeats. I love learning about other traditions, and this song (to me) shows some of the beauty of Hannukah besides just being fun to listen to. Here’s the youtube link if you are interested:

and here’s my long response to misfit:

I been thinking and puzzling over this since you published it … and I’m afraid this will be a long response, though I don’t know if it will actually be helpful or not. (note I am breaking it into parts so it will fit – wow!)

First – the fact that you wanted a spiritual director, that you meet with him, that you are trying to find these answers – to me, that shows that there is something within you that is reaching for God in some way. That God is calling you, loving you – and that you are wanting and loving Him back. You want to know Him better, you want something more from Him, you are being true to a call in your heart. And by saying what you feel honestly, you are also being true to where you are in your relationship – putting the doubts, disappointment and bad feelings out there too. If you want to build a healthy relationship with someone, don’t you have to be honest (although of course with another human person, we need to be careful how we do that), and don’t you have to do your part in reaching out and being willing to hear from them? To me, this is evidence of love, or at least, the desire to love and know God. (and my understanding is that the stance of the Catholic church is something like “all those who seek God with a sincere heart are saved (or may be saved??) “ even if that path is not what we expect – so the seeking is very important!)

Second – all the observances you discuss – yes, they can be ways to deepen our relationship with God. But they don’t work like magic. I know people who have felt that the Catholic faith was not the one for them because this way of praying, and the practice of having statues in the church, etc. for them got in the way of prayer and of being free with God. So the Catholic path did not feel true to them. Just because they are not helpful to you, or not helpful at a particular time in your life, doesn’t mean they don’t have some value – but it may just not be the path that is right for you at that time.

Third – I know there’s a quote somewhere in the Bible about rain falling on the good and bad alike. All of us are going to go through difficult times in our lives. If one is on the journey of being in relationship to God, there will be times where one is coasting with joy and all is going well, or at least the trials of life seem very manageable – times of consolation. There will be times when God feels far away, when everything is a struggle, dry and unfulfilling. When there are trials in life also it’s even harder to push through. This time of desolation may happen because it’s part of our growth in relation to God – developing our muscle of perseverance or whatever – or it may happen because we’ve somehow closed ourselves off from being open to Him and we aren’t hearing Him. Either way it is hard. But it doesn’t mean we are not loved or valued.

Fourth – For me personally, lectio divina is a way of prayer that helps me be close to God , to be honest and emotional and to grow. I don’t know if it is for everyone. It might be worth talking to your spiritual director about it? If you are interested to try, the basic idea is:
1) Set aside some quiet time and space and get comfortable, breathe deeply etc. Maybe set a timer for 30 – 60 min, whatever is manageable for you.
2) Pray to God, asking Him for a grace you hope to receive. Ex. “Lord, I wish I wanted to love you. Right now I am just angry at you. But I desire to desire to love you. I ask the grace of this desire from you. Please send me your Spirit to direct me in my prayer today.”
3) Read the passage of the Bible you have been directed to or you have chosen, out loud, slowly. Pause for a moment to feel if anything in that passage really drew your attention.
4) Read the passage again, out loud and slowly. Pause over the parts (if any) that really call to you (that gives you an emotional reaction, good or bad, or that piques your interest).
5) Read it a third time, perhaps just the part that seems to be sticking out to you.
6) Put aside the Bible and let yourself sit quietly with what you have just read. Don’t try to pray the way you think you should, or to force yourself in any way – just be open to the flow of where you may go. Breathe.
7) When the timer goes off, say a thank-you or good-bye or whatever prayer to God.
8) Journal about your prayer time.

So, what usually happens, at least for me, is I feel drawn into the scene. I may experience it from the point of view of the person being healed, or the point of view of Jesus, or even I may be a tree on the side of the road observing the scene … you just never know where you’ll be drawn to. I may have a conversation with Jesus , or with someone just healed, or Mary or Joseph. Ex. lately I’ve been praying with the blind beggar story, the one who starts calling out when he hears Jesus is nearby and everyone tells him to hush, but Jesus asks him “what do you want?” As you can imagine, I’ve had lots to say and ask Jesus given all the turmoil going on for me right now.

I don’t mean to suggest that lectio divina is magic either … there are times I sit the whole 30-60 minutes and nothing really happens. Very frustrating!

If you are at all inclined to try this whole process, a passage that I would like to suggest to you is Luke 13:10-13 – the healing of the bent-over woman. Or you may have something else that seems to call to you.

And fifth – I believe that every single one of us is loved passionately. We are each special and precious in a way that we can’t even fathom. Of course this means that our “enemies” are also loved without reserve, as hard as that may be to imagine. None of us are “worthy” and we all make bad decisions and hurt each other, but at our core we are amazing beings and unbelievably valued. That is what I have come to understand anyway.

I hope there is something in this incredibly long response that is of value to you, and I hope nothing in here is offensive or disrespectful in any way.

Know that I am thinking of you and praying for you!