Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting geared up for Lent


Looking back on Lents past, I remember so many heartbroken days. I have experienced an awful lot of sadness and loss during Lent.

This year, I hope it’s different.

I’m looking forward to Lent: looking forward to an opportunity to look introspectively into my life and find the places that need to be fixed, need to be healed. Together with Fr. Jeff, I am encouraging our students to give up something other than chocolate. Instead, we are inviting them to look at their lives and see places that the Holy Spirit is working to transform them and to go along with that transformation. I’ve had beautiful conversations with the women in my women’s groups. Some are planning on writing down their prayers, some plan on fasting from judging the other girls in their dormitory when they go out and party. These women are an inspiration to me, and I’m hoping that I can live up to the challenges I have set for them.

For resources, I just have a few suggestions for you, my dear readers. I have recently fallen in love with bustedhalo.com, which features several ideas for Lent. Their video, Ash Wednesday and Lent in Two Minutes (http://bustedhalo.com/video/ash-wednesday-in-two-minutes) is really good to review the meaning of this liturgical season. Then, the articles 25 Things to do for Lent (other than Chocolate) ( http://bustedhalo.com/features/25-great-things-you-can-do-for-lent) and The Practical Guide to Lent (http://bustedhalo.com/features/the-practical-guide-to-lent) are great resources. Finally, I invite you all to join me in participating in the Fast, Pray, Give Lenten Calendar, which will give us a challenge every day for something to fast from, pray for, and give. I think it’s a great idea.

For 2012, I have been making goals at the beginning of each month and at first I was worried I would have a hard time separating my Lenten penance from my monthly goals (one of which, as you all know, is my book challenge). But, I’ve come up with some ideas that I hope I can stick with. I will share them, not because I want to boast, but because I hope that you, my friends, might hold me accountable. The first is to keep up with that calendar I mentioned above (seriously, it’s pretty cool). The second is to fast from music while I’m getting ready in the mornings (something I truly enjoy) with the intent of using that time for reflection and prayer. One of my students talks about praying in the shower, and I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’m also giving up Netflix, except on Sundays (when I really ought to give it up altogether… I watched ten episodes of Buffy last Sunday… think of the books I could have read instead…). That time I will use either to study, read, or (most importantly) spend it with my community doing something other than watching tv (Amy’s giving it up for Lent). I’m also going to join one of my students in writing my prayers down at night, like Aibileen in The Help. I think this will help me focus and add a new dimension to my prayer life as well as going along with my 2012 goal of writing more often.

What are you all doing for Lent?

Please pray for me!

100 Book Challenge—Book #7: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Help lately. In fact, last semester, Sr. Helen Prejean (yes, the famous author) recommended it to me personally while we were having dinner (sorry for the bragging, I just feel really cool when I say that). I knew I wanted to read it to see what the hype was all about, but I didn’t get a chance until now. Unfortunately, I cheated and watched the movie over Christmas Break. It’s a great movie, first of all. I loved watching it, and watching it with two of my favorite women (Teresa and Hannah Mugel… best friends forever!) made it even better. So, needless to say my expectations for the book were pretty high. I was not disappointed.

Stockett’s use of multiple viewpoints made the story even more enjoyable. I loved hearing what was going on in Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeters’ heads. The switching back and forth wasn’t too confusing, since they say at the top of the chapter who is narrating and I think that the unique viewpoints that you get are worth the trouble.

It was interesting to me that the author took it upon herself to give the viewpoint of an African American maid when she herself is white, but as she says in the afterward, while she will never truly understand what that was like, trying to understand it is vital. I think that trying to understand is important, and it helps us recognize that we’re really all the same, no matter what seems to separate us.

The story itself is beautiful. The world it takes place in is bittersweet—there is the simplicity of an age now gone, but there is the deep poverty in the human conditions caused by living in a world so dominated by hatred, fear, and inequality. It saddens me greatly that these things happened, it gives me a feeling of relief to know that (mostly) those days are past for the African American community.

But, after a long talk with my dear friend, Sarah, I am reminded that things are very much the same now as then, but instead of the African Americans fighting for their civil rights it is now the Mexican immigrants trying to feed their families. I think that Stockett’s book can open our eyes to the way in which we allow a barrier of race (and, sometimes language) to make us forget that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. I hate to think of how often the same attitude of the women in the book is present in women today who treat their Mexican maids the same way that these women treated Aibileen and Minny. Perhaps this is something to think about.

Health Update

 So, I know some of you (Justin mostly) have been a little worried about my health. Here’s the update as of right now:

Back in January, when I had the ultrasound to look at my gallbladder, there was all kinds of yucky sludge just sitting in it. This meant, according to both my Rolla doctor and the Indy doctor, that my gallbladder is not constricting enough, not emptying.

My test last Monday showed that my gallbladder is operating normally. The blood tests and biopsies show nothing. Apparently, I’m in good health. The plan now is to wait and see if I start getting sick again. If I have another attack (extreme, stabbing pain in my upper right abdomen, back pain, yucky all over feelings), I have to call the doc immediately. Otherwise, we’re going to assume that God chose to heal my gallbladder. I’m hoping that’s the case. I don’t feel like being sick.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Book Challenge—Book #6: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

100 Book Challenge—Book #6: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The author of my favorite series, the Percy Jackson series, is back with a new series called The Heroes of Olympus. This new series involves the same characters that I loved in Percy Jackson, plus a new spin on the Grecian world that I love so much: Roma. Even my favorite Roman myth, Lupa (sorry, anyone who lives in Rome long enough falls in love with that statue) shows up.

So, I don’t think I really have to say much about why I love this book. It’s my Greek gods and culture and language with my Roman mythology. I feel like Rick Riordan must love me to write such a book!

Read it. (But read the other series first.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

100 Book Challenge—Book #5: Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone

100 Book Challenge—Book #5: Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone

I started this book as a 6th grader in Sr. Ellen’s class. She loaned it to me, but I had to give it back before I finished it. I had wanted to finish reading it for some time and when I found it in the St. Vincent de Paul booth at UDCM 2011, I knew it was time.

I’m glad I did finally finish reading it. It’s not the best writing ever read and not as fulfilling as I would like, but it delivers a good message and certainly provides a lot to meditate over. The main character, Joshua, is actually Jesus (I’m not spoiling anything here, it’s pretty obvious from the beginning) and he is visiting a small town. The meditations over the Church and the clergy as well as religion in general make the book worth reading, although I find it frustrating that the author is so focused on the problems without giving us any suggestions for solutions. I was also frustrated because I feel like the author must have some personal problems with the Church in their background that they kept bringing in. The big problems that Joshua was talking about in the Church are not the issues that most people have with the Church and I was getting a bit annoyed by the end because the author was putting his agenda into Christ’s mouth (which is really never a good idea).

All things accounted for, I think it’s a good book, but not a perfect one. It’s worth reading if you have some spare time.

January 2012…

I can hardly believe it’s only been a month since I was leaving my “family” in Dallas and spending the night at Emily’s apartment with her and Vanessa. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a month since I’ve been back in Indy. What a full, crazy, blessed month! To be able to see my friends in Dallas and Rolla as well as my Echo fam at the Winter Retreat all in the same month… how awesome is that?

So, I haven’t kept up with my hopes of reading 8 books each month. During January, I only read four. But I think that if you take into consideration the amount of traveling I did, plus that I spent almost a week on retreat, I think it’s acceptable.

Now, I am welcoming in February 2012 with excitement. As I write this, my friends in Dallas are celebrating Groundhog. I wish I could be there to party and go to Travis’ play, but I guess we all have to grow up and leave UD sometime. Now is apparently my chance.

I am looking forward to many things this month, including a trip up to ND, a potential visit from my parents, and finally bidding farewell do my darn gallbladder.

Please pray for me and my students!

P.S. Congrats to Amanda Mebane, who just got engaged!