But What Will People Think?

But What Will People Think?

A young teenage girl becomes pregnant.  She is in a relationship but not yet married.  She doesn’t live in the United States but in a place where she and her family are shamed and scorned as a result.  There are questions and rumors about the father.  The future is uncertain and scary.

The young girl carries the baby to term, raises the child, and goes on to become the woman most revered by Catholics: Mary, the Mother of God.

Mary trusted in God so fully that when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, she left behind any worry about what anyone other than God would think.  Despite the culture she lived in and the social consequences of what would happen, she said yes to God.  She didn’t hem and haw, asking Gabriel about what everyone would think of her.

How many times have I felt God pulling me in a direction but I hesitate because of worry about what others would think?  How many times have I done what God asked and found that it brought others closer to Him?

When I say yes to God, even when it’s hard, I always end up in a better place.  Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but always better.

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Inside the Produce Bag

Inside the Produce Bag

People are talking about mental health more lately, and that’s a great thing.  The more someone who hasn’t experienced depression or anxiety can gain an understanding of how it feels and why seemingly logical coping methods don’t work, the more sympathy and help they can provide to sufferers.

With that in mind, I want to offer one description of everyday anxiety.  This is not the severe, paralyzing anxiety such as trauma victims experience, but the underlying anxiety of someone who is mildly or moderately anxious but able to function on some level.

You know the bag that onions are sold in?  They are made of mesh and have a bit of stretch to them.  The mesh allows air to circulate and lengthens shelf life.

Anxiety, to me, often feels like I am inside a mesh produce bag.  I am still able to breathe; I am not suffocating.  I can move around and do things.  But I am not totally free.  The mesh limits how fast and how far I can go.  When I am in this anxiety state, I want to do more, I want to be productive and helpful.  But. the “bag” is holding me back.  I cannot will it away.  I cannot eliminate it with reasoning.  It limits me, frustrating both myself and those around me.

Sometimes you may be able to help, but first you have to see the “bag”  Then you may be able to talk to me, hold my hand, listen, or guide me.  But if you try to pull me through the mesh, I will get caught and my anxiety will increase.

I hope this makes a little sense to those who haven’t experienced anxiety, and I would love to hear other people’s descriptions of anxiety.

God Answers Our Prayers In Unexpected Ways

God Answers Our Prayers In Unexpected Ways

When any holiday comes around, I love to watch the associated Peanuts™ special.  Two of my favorite characters are Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy and Snoopy’s bird friend Woodstock.

Woodstock has a challenge flying.  He can’t seem to fly in a straight line and sometimes flies upside down.  At the very end of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Snoopy and Woodstock have a private dinner and then they make a wish on the wishbone.  Woodstock gets the bigger half, and the force sends him flying backward, but straight and upright.  He finally got his wish to fly.  When he made the wish, his intention was probably to fly using his wings.  But the smile on his face shows how satisfied he was to fly even though it didn’t happen as he had expected.

This sometimes happens to us when we pray to God for help in some area.  We might ask Him for help with unforeseen car or home expenses only to find an unexpected check in the mail or a friend who is getting a new appliance and is giving away their old one that still works.  Sometimes we feel stressed for time.  We may ask God to help us calmly approach the pile of tasks we face and give us the gift of organization, but instead of giving us a superpower to do it all, he takes some of it away.  Maybe a party has to be rescheduled or a friend unexpectedly shows up to help.

God always hears our prayers.  He loves us and knows what is best for us.  Sometimes, maybe even more often than not,  He answers our prayers in a way that we didn’t expect.  He solves our problems in ways we couldn’t imagine if we only let Him.

Trusting My Father

Trusting My Father

When I was in my earliest school years, I remember being baffled by one of my father’s habits.  He was generally a law-abiding citizen who really was committed to justice and doing the right thing.  He had a solid faith and provided a strong role model for our growing family.  Yet every week, right after Sunday Mass of all times, he would drive right past the road sign that read, “Do Not Pass.”  Why was my dad, who seemed to obey the laws of the country and of God, doing something that was clearly forbidden?  I couldn’t imagine why he did it.  Yet I never dared to challenge him or ask him about it.  Somehow I knew there had to be an explanation.  Even though it made no sense to me, I trusted my father enough to know that there must be a reason.  I didn’t need to know the explanation.  I just needed to trust.

Eventually, of course, I realized that he hadn’t been breaking the law.  Once I matured a bit, I found out that “Do Not Pass” doesn’t mean that you must not take your car beyond the sign; it meant that you could not pass a car that was in front of you.

How many times have I questioned my heavenly Father, who is even wiser and more just than my dad?  When things don’t make sense to me, do I turn it over to God and let Him be in charge?

My heavenly Father sees the big picture.  He has information that I don’t.  I’m in good hands when I let Him do the driving.

Wait and See

Wait and See

I am writing this on the evening of election day in the United States of America.  My husband and I had a wonderful and surprising voting day outing.

Our first stop was at the polling place, where we voted and chatted with some friends and neighbors.  Then we headed to one of my favorite casual dining places for burgers, chicken, onion rings, and ice cream.  They were kind enough to turn the music back a few decades for us, and we enjoyed our food and each other’s company in the beach-themed restaurant.

After that, we played a couple of rounds of the waiting game.  We drove to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) so I could have my eyes tested and get the corrective lenses restriction removed from my license.  My husband waited in the car, while I waited for my turn.  Nearly an hour later, I emerged victorious, and as a bonus, it didn’t cost me anything.  Next, we stopped at the grocery store and my husband ran in to pick up a few items.  (It was pouring rain, so I stayed in the car.)  He took longer than expected, but I didn’t mind as I had a book and my iPhone with me.

We were gone longer than expected, but had a very successful outing and were happily heading home when my husband pointed out a huge hawk in a tree.  I looked up and knew it was too big to be a hawk, so I assumed it was a turkey.  I was delightfully wrong: it was a bald eagle!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild before and I could barely contain my excitement.  We pulled over and I got a few photos and a video with my phone.  As soon as we got home, my husband unloaded the groceries while I grabbed the real camera.  I went back, not knowing if the eagle would still be there, and it was!  It was magnificent to see, and extra special on election day.

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If we hadn’t gone to the DMV, if the line hadn’t been long, if I hadn’t waited, if my husband had been quick in the grocery store, we may well not have seen the eagle.  The inconvenience of our delays had put us in the right place at the right time to see that magnificent creature.  Thanks be to God!

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles”
Isaiah 40:31, RSV Catholic Edition

Three Odd Things I Encountered In Ireland

Three Odd Things I Encountered In Ireland

Last month, I went to Ireland for almost two weeks.  I had to do a lot of research first since I rarely travel.  I hadn’t flown in 15 years and had only flown internationally once when I went to Ireland over 30 years ago.  I solicited advice and was prepared for many new experiences.  But there were a few things that I didn’t expect.

First, the plumbing is quite different from what we have in the USA.  I suppose this is true for most of Europe, which is centuries older than my homeland.  With possibly one or two exceptions, every sink I encountered had separate hot and cold handles.  I take for granted the single lever and hands-free faucets that are more common in the USA.  The showers were like puzzles.  One shower that I was able to turn on without any trouble took me a long time to figure out how to turn off.  Another place we stayed had a box on the wall, which I was able to turn on after randomly turning knobs and pushing buttons.  The toilets were universally harder to flush and utilized many different mechanisms.  One restaurant even had a toilet with the tank mounted high on the wall which was flushed by pulling a chain.

The second surprise was how different the transportation was from home.  I saw manufacturers which I had only previously seen watching “Top Gear” with my son: Citroen, Opel, Seat, Skoda, and Dacia.  Unlike here in New England, where SUVs and pickup trucks rule the roads, the majority of individuals in Ireland drive sedans or coupes.  We didn’t see a pickup truck until about 5 days into our trip.  The city buses were all double deckers.  And the roads are very narrow!

The final, and most challenging, difference I encountered was the amount of walking that is required.  In the cities, large and small, stores and restaurants do not have their own parking lots; you must park in a public lot and then walk to your destination.  The sidewalk surfaces are varied and can be unsettling.  Both in the city and while visiting tourist destinations, long walks from the parking area are required and there are not many places to rest.  This is probably why I didn’t encounter many overweight Irish.

Ireland is a delightful place, and I enjoyed the experience of visiting and learning so much.

About Those New Year’s Resolutions

About Those New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2018?  Do you remember what they were?

I made three, and for once I not only remembered what they were but I’ve been accomplishing them.  When I was contemplating ideas as 2017 was coming to a close, I rejected the usual and customary resolutions, purposely staying away from health-related resolutions.  I wanted new and fun ideas.

The first one was to start blogging.  I knew the Holy Spirit was moving me to write, but it’s so easy to put off writing.  So I set a goal of starting in 2018, and I’ve succeeded.  I’ve published a blog every week this year, except for the two weeks that I was in Ireland.  My job is just to write as the Holy Spirit moves me; I do not worry about publicizing my blog or how many followers I have.  I just need to respond to the charge to write.

The second resolution was to declutter.  I have been making progress in getting rid of clutter in stages.  When I was first diagnosed with ADHD 10 years ago and started medication, I was able to get rid of items such as blurry photos and half-used sheets of craft foam.  I’ve made more progress since then, but now I am at the stage where I need to be ruthless in my decisions.  The reality of being over 50 forces me to face the fact that I’m not going to read all the books on my shelf, use all those craft supplies, wear all those clothing items.  I started the year well by doing some serious decluttering but got sidetracked.  I’ve got a few months left to challenge myself to do more.

The third and most fun resolution was to see an owl in the wild.  I’ve spent plenty of time looking, and partially fulfilled this resolution when I partook in a hawk walk in Ireland and got to hold and pet an owl at the end!  It was an amazing experience, and although the owl was not technically wild, holding and petting him more than made up for that.  It was a thrill for me.  I am still looking for owls in my backyard (where I can hear them at times) and I am hopeful to get a photo once the leaves drop from the trees.

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Overall, this has been the most successful year for me with regards to resolutions.  I’m not even sure I’ve ever kept one before.  I wish you the same success.  Owl see you next week.