Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When I'm 86...

Pictures of my Babci...read on!

I'm inspired today to blog about my grandmother, aka Babci

Babci just had knee surgery last week. It should be said that Babci is not your typical 86 year old. Babci mowed the lawn by herself 2 days before the knee surgery. Then she wonders why she needs knee surgery.

Babci is off the boat from Poland, and though she's been in the US for 50+ years, she'll tell you her 'English is no good' (it's fine).

So I called Babci today to see how she was feeling after the knee surgery. She was recently moved from the hospital to the rehab facility. Since she does enjoy being self-sufficient, doing things like mowing her own lawn, I was expecting her to find the rehabilitation inhibiting, and thus, putting her in a bad mood. Imagine my surprise when I call and she answers cheerfully!

"Julia!!!" immediately I think, she must still be on some kind of meds.
"Hey, Babci! How are you doing?"
"I'm good!" in my head I think, "really?"
"Are you still on medication?" I ask, trying to solve the puzzle
"Some, but not like before" Huh. I'm still puzzled. I thought the morphine or codine would've been the case.
"Are you ready to leave? Do you like it there" Again, this is me thinking she is miserable and couldn't possibly be happy being cooped up.
"No, it's nice! People are nice" again, I think to myself, "really?"

Now, Babci is a people person and generally just loves attention. So I'm guessing if she has people visiting her and nurses taking care of her, she is probably happy.

"People are nice, huh?" I ask, determined to get to the bottom of this.
"Yes. They say I'm a trooper." Aha! The answer! She IS getting positive attention which she loves. I breathe a sigh of relief. It's not the codine.
"Well, you are a trooper, Babci" I tell her
"And your cousin Lauren called me yesterday" ahh...another form of attention. Well, done, Cousin Lauren.
"Oh yeah? That's nice" I say.
"I told her she better buy some of that good vodka." Now, most of you reading probably just stopped in your tracks. You are probably shocked to hear this from an 86 year old. I, however, am not at all surprised. I just know good blog material is coming...

"Yeah. Not the bad stuff, the good smooth vodka. Like the kind my friend who picks me up for Bingo on Thursdays brought back from Las Vegas" she says.

"Your Bingo friend? you don't say." My cousin lives in Chicago, however, so I ask, "do they have that good vodka in Chicago?"

"They should! They got everything else, the good Polish beer. But this vodka, it's 'The Chopin'" she tells me (everything is prefaced with a THE in my Babci's 'broken' English. That's how she keeps it Polish. For instance, our current president is THE Obama, and that's a WHOLE 'nother story...)

"The Chopin? That's a vodka? I thought it was a composer" I ask
"Right. Like the music you play. Well, I want a shot of Chopin for my recovery when I get home. A hot bowl of soup and a shot".

Well, there you have it. Recipe for healing from Grandma: A Hot Bowl of Soup and a Shot. Most grandmothers do recommend soup, my grandmother just adds alcohol.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My roomies and some of the women in our prayer group celebrating my dear friend and faithful blog reader/writer, Gina!

Okay, so this post is just to say a couple of things. (My mind is currently mush due to two papers due these next two weeks and the buhzillion different things my spiritual director gave me to work on on Sat.) So here are the basics:

a.) HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY(S) GINA and LORI!!! You two are such inspirations to me and my walk with the Lord, and your presence in my life and in our women's group is SUCH a GIFT. Praise God for both of you!!

b.) CHARITY is my word for the next part of this journey. Apparently, praying for PATIENCE is over-rated. My spiritual director practically scoffed at me: 'why would you pray for patience?!'. Apparently that increases suffering or something. Because of patience's latin root 'patio' which is to suffer. Awesome. Now you tell me. So charity is the new patience for me. It's a higher virtue- a theological one, to be exact(and the greatest!, shout out St. Paul!)-and if you think about it, it will produce patience if I am practicing charity. Win-win. Done and done. You can join me in my prayer for more opportunities to LOVE! So much better than suffering. Sheesh. Though the two go hand in hand, I know...but whatevs.

c.) I know I should be spending my time on said papers, but instead...I mean, in addition to...I've started a POPblog with my new BFF in pop culture crime, Laura. Check it out:

It may or may not (most likely not) do anything for your soul, but it may give you a laugh, which therein helps the soul, am I right?!

Alright. Maybe I should write a paper now. Can I get an MA in blogging???


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SMILE! God loves you!!

Caring is Creepy

So I know I joke around alot on this blog and have kind of made it one of my personal missions to bring God 'down to our level'. But see, I don't even need to really do that 'cause He's already there. He 'gets' us. Or let me re-phrase: I attempt to show others in my own weak way that He is tangible, but He is already at our level because, well, He created us and knows us.

That all being said, there are moments that I'm sure we've all had where we realize how BIG God is. And this is not to scare us, but to remind us that, well, He's God after all.

I know that something I've been praying for this year IS to have Him reveal Himself to me in that big way again. And, as usual, He does so in mysterious, unexpected ways.

Fall is in full effect right now with it's color and it's weather- it's time of change. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised that it's now Jesus decides to let His mercy start to 'fall' as well.

It's also almost Halloween and it's always been a holiday I must say I get pretty into. I don't know if it's because I feel very in tune with spiritual things or what, but I am also not naive to the fact that these spirits include- Imma go ahead and say it- evil ones. And they are not to be played. For reals.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, while I may take somethings like this blog rather lightly, I want to say I do not take the spirits lightly. And as weird as that must sound, one of the ways that God has just kind of rained down on me is to remind me that He is God, and while He is victorious over evil, it's still pretty real and we have to be on our guard.

Is that creepy/Halloweenish enough for you? Yeah, I thought so. It's for real! Evil is for real! Yeah, I don't like it either! I'm JUST SAYING!

I don't think I have to go into a history lesson, but Halloween started as a religious thing. A way to scare off evil spirits before All Saints Day which follows. Now, I usually just try to come up with a costume that is current and creative, so my Rachel Zoe get-up isn't scaring ANYBODY, but TRUST that while I may not be off-setting evil with my attire, I will be packing a punch with my prayer! You feel me??

So all I'm saying is, while it's very cool and important to keep it casual with our God, we also need to be on our guard. That's all I'm saying. Sorry if that creeps you out, but 'tis the season, I suppose!

Please join me in the prayer this Halloween/All Saints/All Souls season to really reflect on the spirits and the soul and to cast out anything in this realm that, well, just isn't good. Thanks!!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Proof is in the...Beer

Steph and I with our friend Jeff, Steph on the trampoline, and my roomies grinding that beer!

A Day in the Life

There has been so much going on lately, that I don't even know if God can keep up with me. Okay, that's a lie. The whole Psalm 139, 'He knows when we sit and when we stand' thing is TRUE. (Fortunately, but unfortunately, right??? Sometimes I'm not sure I want Him to know...) But seriously, I've been BUSY. But God knows that for me, busy is GOOD. 'An idle mind is the devil's playground' and all that is the case for me. When I'm not busy, I get LAZY. And when I'm lazy, I just start wallowing. No. Good.

So busy is good! But I also just gotta make sure that I'm making time for the Lord in there, and lucky for me, I've always been able to have a job (no matter how much I like it or not) that allows me flexibility to take time to go to Mass and pray.

Lately, I've been traveling for work, but let me back up just a bit.

Last weekend we (my roomies and I) had a friend from college who I hadn't seen in over half a year come down and stay with us. SO nice. One of the things that has certainly helped me embrace my 'state in life' are the awesome friendships I have been able to maintain from high school, college, and beyond.

The other thing I LOVE about my friends (other than the fact that they are loyal and also in pursuit of HOLINESS!) is that they know how to have a good time!!!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned before that we Jingers- I don't like to brag- but we may have the perfect. party. house.

Exhibit 1: we have beer door. It's a door in our fridge that holds beer. Easy access. Seriously, people have learned just to come in, go straight to the kitchen and grab a beer from the beer door. I love this conditioning that has occurred.

Last weekend was no exception. We were chilling out back (well, we weren't actually physically chilling because it was abnormally warm for a fall day, hence, the sitting outside) and I was impressed by person after person who just let themselves into our house and came outside with a beer. GOOD FORM, my friends!

Exhibit 2: We have a trampoline. Yes, it makes our 13 year old dreams come true too.

Mix beer and a trampoline and you may think it is a recipe for disaster, but we drink RESPONSIBLY, people.

I should've entitled this blog post, 'Ode to Beer', because it seemed that's what last weekend was. But let me also state that it is rare, anymore, that TWO nights of a weekend involve beer consumption for us. But this weekend was an exception. And not only did we consume beer, but we BREWED OUR OWN. EPIC WIN!

I may not enjoy cooking and the like, but grinding hops and watching a pot boil while drinking beer, I can handle.

Okay, so after Beer Gate 09, I had to get to work. Part of my job does require travel, which has been difficult to juggle since I am now in grad school and have additional work and class to attend to (but I'll get to that later).

This week it was off to Ohio, which most of you know, is where my family resides. So I got to hang out with John and Jeannette (aka the 'rents) a little.

I think I may have mentioned before that my parents tend to be cooler than my sister and I, and they actually have spent their recent retirement studying to become docents at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My friend Ryan and I had some down time in between the Cleveland trip and our trip to Dayton, so my mom hooked us up with some free tickets to the Hall. Thanks, Mom!

I'd been to the Rock Hall before, but I always get a little...I don't know, is vaclempt the word? err..the spelling?...when I see lyrics for the title of this blogpost, hand-written by John Lennon, Christmas cards made by Jim Morrison for his parents, and teenage artwork done by Jimi Hendrix. There's just something unifyingly beautiful to know that our rockstars are human, and eerily convicting of what can happen when life is taken too soon, talent is taken too soon.

And it's just such a celebration of music which I love! I highly recommend anyone who is a pop culture, music fan to make a trip to the land of Cleve and some point. You can stay with John and Jeannette. They'll show you a good time ;)

I feel like I should also give a novena/prayer update. I mentioned it has been easier for me to accept my state in life lately, but its still not easy and I do struggle with God's Will from time to time. But I think as I've also mentioned before, it's much easier to stay right with God when I'm reading Scripture and going to Confession, so i probably need to get on that.

These next 9 days we are rockin' prayers to St. Ann (at first I was like, 'shoooot...this is a freakin' long novena! But now I'm realizing how AWESOME it is that we are taking the time to address 9-10 different saints! Can never have too many praying for you) and St. Ann is Jesus' GRANDMA. We all know how grandmas just have their way...you KNOW Jesus can't say 'no' to his MOM, let alone GRANDMA. Let's get on it, St. Ann!!

Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll-

Oh, and I should say I'm headed back to the Buckeye State in, oh, 24 hours for my 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. Yeah, about that grad school stuff, I had to come BACK to DC to go to CLASS. Not cool. But it is what it is, and I feel OLD, but BRING ON the 10 year!!!

I'm sure I'll have more to reflect on after that!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Don't Call Him a Sissy....

You may think of him along with bunnies and Bambi, but he is so much more!

Prayer of St. Francis

Today is a Sunday as well as the feast of St. Francis. Double Feast-Day Whammee! Whoo hoo!

Usually, when saints' feast days fall on a Sunday, they are trumped by the Feast of the Resurrection (you, know...the feasts which ARE our Sundays? )Understandably so! But St. Francis is sooo well liked, that people are still acknowledging him today (again, understandably so!) But don't go treking out to that birdfeeder you got in your backyard with St. Francis on it just yet...

As popular as St. Francis is, I still think he kind of gets a bad wrap. Well, maybe bad is not the word, but I don't think he is recognized for all that he is. People just recognize him as the guy who calmed a wolf and digs nature/animals. This can turn him into kind of a mushy-hippie 'sissy' from Assisi. (though there is NOTHING wrong with hippies! My parents still stage sit-ins in their living room...)

It's just not true. Francis was a rich soldier who came from a family of wealth and went off to war. He had a conversion during the war when he became hurt and sick. This post-war Francis is what we think of when we think of him, but I like to remember him because of his powerful conversion.

He wasn't a 'sissy'. Any guy who stands up to the Bishop and his rich dad and takes off his fancy clothes to don rags is hardcore! And God felt so too. He called Francis to 'rebuild' his church. And, like many of us, Francis misinterpretted that call. He literally thought it was to build a church- again, not a sissy thing to do! Layering stones and bricks- ya gotta be tough! But then we he realized that meant figuratively re-buidling the Church- even tougher.

I looked seriously at a Franciscan order before realizing I probably had more in common with the Pauline way of life. (St. Francis might be tough in some ways, but St. Paul is uber-tough). Not to compare the two, but stonings and exiles and speaking with a double-edge sword? That's just more along the lines with this sassy, thick exterior that God has given ME. Though,clearly, I'm drawn to Franciscan types too! We Paul-types need the Francis'in our lives to balance us out. (Though you will NEVER see me, I'm pretty sure, cuddling up and cooing with small animals. If you do, that will be the time for exile and stones...just kidding ;)

But that's why I like to remember the other things about St. Francis- his radical conversion, his renunciation of wealth, his mis-interpretation of God's call but then an obedience to discerning and following the true call.

And one of my favorite things I read about St. Francis when I was discerning, was his relationship with Lady Poverty. I think this concept that Francis developed and embraced is a way for all of us to live, but it's probably especially helpful to guys who are embracing the life of celibacy. It gives them an image- a woman- to fight for, to live for, to honor. I know that St. Therese (who's feast was just 3 days ago- shout out Therese!) gave such beautiful, flowery descriptions of her beloved-Jesus- that were helpful to me when I am trying to renounce everything and make Jesus my first love. So Francis describes Lady Poverty as a worthy figure to embrace and love for men (and women) alike.

Francis is also remembered by this prayer (that he most likely may not have actually developed, but certainly lived)

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life

This is prayer is hard. core!! No sissy can ASK to love, console, and understand more than they are loved, consoled, or understood. Shoot.

And that is something I believe Francis believed and understood and lived and why I want to model myself after him. His radical love for Christ and Lady Poverty. Amen!

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!! (Just don't ask me to snuggle up to Bambi any time soon, okay? I'm not there yet ;)