2016–so far

I read back over my blog posts from this year and think, “Wow, so much ambition, and so little accomplished.” This is only partly true. I haven’t lived up to my plan to blog more. Thought about it a lot but didn’t DO it.  I did a lot though, just nothing I’d planned.

We now have an American Heritage Girls Troop at our parish. This required a LOT of work by an amazing group of ladies who make up our ministry team. I’m honored to have spent this year working on this project with them. I have a lot of hope for the program. Although I am feeling quite over-whelmed by all of it. Our parish even added us to the page for Ministries with all the other youth scouting type programs.

Delegation has been a skill I have gotten to practice. I find I can be very happy delegating once I recognize that something will be better done by another person. I have my strengths, and weaknesses. Acting as the Troop Coordinator for TX1860 has

My book languishes. I have the unfortunate super power of avoiding anxiety.  If I feel even a little twinge of anxiety I will avoid whatever is causing that emotion. Unfortunately this means I avoid many things I love because I have become anxious about them.  It hardly matters what caused the emotion, the result is avoidance and I am NOT happy about it. I am also at a loss as to how to face it down and win. I’m in a nasty cycle.

I’m also avoiding turning in an application for a substitute teaching position, and the same application marked for wishing to be considered for a full time teaching position–or part time if I get to teach theology! I feel anxiety and then I compulsively avoid even though getting paid to teach one of my favorite subjects in the entire universe is a dream job. Again, NOT productive, really stupid, and stuck.

Turning in applications and editing manuscripts are both acts of Hope, and I am meditating on and praying for an increase in the virtue of Hope, and here I find myself struggling.  The up side is I am aware of what is going on, which I used to not even SEE, but this isn’t correcting the condition!  I see that God is working on me. Forcing me to face where I do not live the virtue of Hope. I’m praying about it because I suspect I’m in need of supernatural help to overcome this difficulty.

I did get the bridge camera. Love it, and for some reason am so busy I am not finding time to use it. What is worse, I have not taken family pictures in ages! I need to do more photos and get some sent around to family. Perhaps I need to do a Christmas photo, in which case, I need to buy some red shirts and get someone else to hold the camera so we are all in one shot.

Goals: application in, book editing happening, and photos to share from my camera!

Dear Lord, Thank you for the new good things in our lives, and please help us all to grow in the virtue of hope and act on it. +Amen.

 

Works of Teresa of Avila 1515-1582

TERESA OF AVILA:(1515-1582) Institute for Carmelite Studies Publications
I recommend: THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ST. TERESA OF AVILA, Vol. 1: Book of Her Life & Interior Castle, Vol. 2: The Way of Perfection, Vol. 3: Foundations, and COLLECTED LETTERS OF ST. TERESA OF AVILA: Vol.1 and Vol. 2.  The Study Editions are good too but I prefer the basic collection for reading without a pre-conceived opinion.

I suggest beginning with the Book of Her Life, and then reading the Collected Letters 1 & 2 to focus on a woman religious’ view of her life and world. She was quite familiar with the visitations and the inquisition. And her books were not always available, some being surpressed at times. She had relatives who were conversos, and thus eyed suspiciously by the inquisition. She is now a Doctor of the Church.  Her letters and autobiography are, to me, of the most historical significance for understanding the time in which she lived.

To understand her advice to Abbesses, the Way of Perfection is the work she wrote for her nuns. She, who had mystical visions, was not one to be impressed by them. I love her practical advice to abbesses on how to manage a nun who was having visions.

Her book on prayer, Interior Castle, has been read and re-read by many, and I doubt anyone has plumbed the full depth of what she meant in it. It was one of her books most often supressed.

Foundations traces her work of founding Monasteries of both men and women religious, seeking to return to the ancient interpretation of the Carmelite order, thus founding the Discalced. I found it highly significant that she did not consider the Carmelite order she was in wrong, but that she wanted a stricter version than the softened version of her day.  During the time she was abbess over her original order, she did not impose her Discalced rule, but instead urged them and guided them to live their own rule better.  She was friends with Bishops who participated in the Council of Trent and I often wonder how much did she know of the documents created by that council.

I admire Teresa of Avila greatly. She shows how a woman of her time, with intelligence and ideas of her own, lived within the confines of her time and place.

Books! Catholic Fiction and Non-Fiction

After enjoying a lovely conversation on religion and history, I promised to send a write-up of the books I had mentioned. Maggie, this post is for you. 🙂

Catholic and fun and history.

So, I will begin with the works of fiction I thought she would enjoy.

Declan Finn writes wild action adventures, in modern settings, but often with historical roots and themes.

The Pius Trilogy is my first suggestion. These are: A Pius Man, A Pius Legacy, and A Pius Stand.

In addition are books such as Pius Tales which are background short pieces on some characters, and Pius History which is the history behind the trilogy. Read them AFTER the stories or you might spoil some of the fun. Also, there are a lot of characters and you might want to take notes as mysterious figures show up in the story and who saw them, who knows whom, etc.

The same author put out the books IT WAS ONLY ON STUN, HONOR AT STAKE, and CODENAME:WINTERBORN.  The first was hysterically funny once you sorted out the characters. The second is about vampires in the modern day who “do not sparkle, they burn.” The Third is a thriller that I have not yet gotten to read, but I think I will enjoy it too.

I recommend Karian Fabian also.  Her Nuns are in religious service–in SPACE. She has a Catholic dragon private eye named Vern. And Neeta Lyffe is a zombie hunter. LOVED them.  I would start with GREATER TREASURES, a Dragoneye PI story. Then jump into NEETA LYFFE I LEFT MY BRAINS IN SAN FRANCISCO.  I am eagerly awaiting DISCOVERY, her newest book, which is about her space-faring Nuns.

On a more serious note: CHAMPIONS OF THE ROSARY is a new book out about the rosary, its history, significant historical figures, and a section on how to pray it effectively.  I particularly enjoyed the history section where the author traces the development of the elements that eventually became our modern Rosary. There is evidence for various prayers in particular forms in use earlier in period in certain circumstances and for certain populations. Cool book.

 

“Infinite Space, Infinite God II,” by Karina Fabian

Twelve science fiction stories featuring great adventure with a twist of faith.

InfiniteSpaceII_med-201x300-201x300

Summary: Twelve science fiction stories featuring great adventure with a twist of faith. Infinite Space, Infinite God II spans the gamut of science fiction, from near-future dystopias to time travel to space opera, puzzles of logic to laugh-out-loud humor and against-the-clock suspense. A great read for any science fiction fan; a must-read for those seeking something new in their fiction.

If you enjoy science fiction that recognizes faith, especially the Catholic faith, as an integral part of human society, you’ll love ISIG II. However, Karina has another surprise coming in September: Discovery, the first Rescue Sisters novel, starring the three sisters of the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue as they travel to the edge of the solar system to explore an alien spacecraft.

To get all the news, plus chances to win prized, writing tips and great articles and stories from all her worlds, join her newsletter, FabianSpace. http://eepurl.com/dc-8M

Website: http://fabianspace.com

Excerpt: In the glasses, Rita saw the screen before them—the ship, the ginger-root-shaped asteroid two hours away, the star field beyond that. Jupiter, she knew, was somewhere behind and below. Overlaid on the scene was a targeting reticule of double circle and cross-hairs, and to the lower right, a legend. She had enough time to notice the asteroid was called Guangzhou and had a small, automated mining station before she heard Ann call “Heads-up” to activate her own display. Ann muttered a couple of commands, and the tracking reticule began to move, widen and narrow to the movement of her eyes.

Annie spoke. “Interface systems green. I have control of the tow line. Ready when you are, Tommie.”

“Roger. Moving in slow and oblique. Lady of Loreto, pray for us.”

Bio: Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has imagination that takes quirky twists that keep her–and her fans–amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian, as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at http://fabianspace.com.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Space-God-II/dp/1606192310

Tweet: Infinite Space, Infinite God II expands the role of faith thru the endless possibilities of the sci-fi genre https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Space-God-II/dp/1606192310

 

Dear Lord, thank You for the Catholic Writer’s Guild and inspire the writers into great productivity and bless their efforts, and meet their financial needs through their writing. +Amen.

Lists, and LISTS

Lists, I have used lists, on old envelopes, scratch paper, post-it notes, calendar printouts, and many variations, and while all have the virtue of being useful, not one was consistent enough and all were too easily lost.  ENTER my new planner, which is proving to be a top flight choice for me. BUT….. you just knew that was coming didn’t you?

I can fill the monthly spread with everything I am thinking about attending so I know when and where things will be happening. This feature is working exactly as it ought to work, and I love it.

I can move what I decide I AM going to attend to the weekly spread, and include Tasks related to it in the space supplied. The times let me write things in where they belong and I can see both the flow of the week and the individual days on one spread. This to is working exactly as it ought to work, and I love it too.

What am I missing? Well, MORE space. Somewhere to expand my to-do lists.

So, whats with the lists?  I have a plain notebook I carry for taking notes, but that is TWO notebooks. Not very efficient, although it has worked–just not ideal– and then a friend suggested I look into Bullet Journalling. That will have to be still another post.

Lists copy

Meanwhile, I discovered the notepad at the back of my planner is good for notes. I’m starting to rely on it. I have three pages going currently, a Master list, where I brainstorm everything that needs done, a AHG page where I detail out items off the master list that are AHG related, and a Financial page which is helping me to keep a visual handle on our budget.  This aspect of the Franklin Covey, with its Subject and Date lines at the top, is shaping up to give me the longer lists I need–and it is already in my planner!

Dear Lord, thank You for planners. Please help us to keep our eyes and hearts on You as we use them. +Amen.

Planners and Journals

HOPE: I purchased a planner. A planner is an exercise in Hope. I hope to gain better control over my life and productivity. I hope to use this to keep everything in one place so I can feel less stress and anxiety. A new planner has so much hope riding on it.

My two-pages per week, FranklinCovey Compass planning system I purchased at Office Depot, is quite simple as far as planners go. I get to fill in the dates, so I was able to set it up to start in May. I went ahead and set up the first two pages per day spread for May 2.

This planner came with a nice cover, it has a magnetic snap for closing it, there is a notepad in the back with subject and date blanks in the header. I have an elastic loop for a pen, and room in the spine for a second one. I used a business card in the window pocket to identify this as my planner, and filled in the information in the front.  I added the moms from our AHG start-up to the address book.

Franklin Covery Planner-copy

This simple two pages per week Franklin Covey is serving me well so far. I watched a video on youtube about the use of the FranklinCovey. Here is the link: 25 years of Use   The concepts behind planners are fairly consistent, so while the video is focusing on the more complex planners with more pages and rings, the concepts still work for this planner which fits my life quite well.

Why do I need a planner?  Well, I struggle with executive function. I struggle to categorize; I struggle to prioritize; I struggle to remember everything that needs to go on my list so I can be sure to get it done. I lose lists all the time, so while creating lists on whatever paper is handy is flexible,  I wasn’t getting the degree of organization and planning I needed.

THEN, I added a couple of new things to my already full plate, and realized very quickly that without a planner I was going to sink fast!

Welcome little Franklin Covey Planner!

Dear Lord, Thank You for planners and the hope they bring to the organizationally challenged and the very busy. +Amen.

 

HOPE

HOPE, a supernatural virtue.

Back in January someone suggested choosing a word for the year. I chose HOPE. Everyone knows the verse about Faith, Hope, and Charity and I realized that I needed to dwell a bit on Hope. Hope is a big part of Trust, and trusting God is essential for happiness and peace. I get anxiety so growing in peace would be very nice.

So I added the word HOPE to the insert that marks the weekly spread in my planner. It is in green, a color of growing things, and this urges me to be hopeful. It also reminds me to pray when anxiety rises up.

FullSizeRender-2 copy    I’m not exactly an artist, so the “oops” on my E, still, I picked a pretty paper to use and the clear tape protects it and keeps it on the plastic insert. I plan to add to the front edge for durability as soon as I have the supplies.

Exercising HOPE is a core reason to make plans. Doing what needs to be done today, with an eye to planning for the future and growing our family and lives into the future, this is an exercise in hope.

I purchased myself a new planner, a Franklin Covey, very simple, spiral bound, 12 months, two pages per week vertical columns, and Daily Tasks sections at the bottom.  I plan out toward the future with my monthly pages, and then move the items I am actually doing to the weeks I am setting up. I even watched a video done by a successful businessman, 25 years in his field, explaining how the use of his Franklin Covey planner is essential to his career. He showed his methods, and why he felt it worked so well. Inspiring!

Then a friend showed me HER planner. She called it Bullet Journaling, and that I should google the term, “Bullet Journal” and off I went, watching videos of people showing their planners and how they worked them–wow!  I am now playing with those concepts, learning to use my to-do lists the way the people Bullet Journalling do them.

And I purchased some Washi tape. Another exercise in Hope– to make pretty the planner I use.

Dear Lord, help each of us grow in Hope. +Amen.

Camera Thoughts

I’ve loved cameras since forever. My first camera was a Kodak and took cartridges and flash-cubes, and with it I learned how to frame a picture.

I still have that little camera. There are a lot of good memories in it.

Later, my parents purchased my first Canon AE-1 for me. It was my camera through all my photography courses in college and I found a zoom lens that became my favorite lens to keep on my camera. I used the AE-1 so much that I wore out key components, purchased my second AE-1, and went on taking pictures with my favorite old zoom. I miss that old, pre-autofocus, pre-digital 70-210 zoom.

We all get older, and technology changes. The first auto-focus cameras were slow. I could focus and shoot faster. But the sharpness of my vision decreased a bit and the auto-focus improved and I added an autofocus Rebel film camera. I enjoyed that camera for a long time.

The day came when getting film developed was becoming mail order only and even the pros were turning to DSLR’s. At that point, 20 years from my first SLR, I stepped into the “modern age” with a Canon D30 and a somewhat slow zoom with image stabilization. Good system for its time. I am still using it. However, with a good lens on it, this is 3 pounds in the hand and only 3 megapixels.

We age and a heavy system becomes painful to use. I found myself using the camera in my iPad. Fun with that huge screen, but no camera for me.  I cannot NOT take pictures anymore than I can stop writing stories. I snap quick shots with the iPad camera which weighs a smidgen over 1 pound.

I had to face reality. Unless I could find a good camera that did not cause me pain my days as a photographer were over. Enter an article on Facebook (good old Popular Photography) with a pro talking about the virtues of the new category of a “bridge camera” and how he used them in his professional work. I read the article and started looking into cameras.

I looked at DSLR’s. I have been a user of the system I own for too long not to consider upgrading the body and keeping my current lenses.    Still too heavy, but the new DSLR’s are an interesting bunch. I briefly considered a three generation old used DSLR but decided the weight issue made that a problem.

I am considering a bridge camera with a magnificent zoom lens and HALF the weight of my too heavy DSLR. It has my favorite functions from the SLR, 12.8 megapixels but a smaller sensor, and non-SLR abilities like PANORAMIC.

Dear Lord, there are times when decisions are complicated. Please help us to understand what we need to do the jobs now and in the near future. Amen. +

Mother Mary Angelica 1923-2016

The Klingons have a saying, “Today is a good day to die.” Like Saint John Paul II, Mother Angelica was called home on Easter.  Like St. John Paul II she demonstrated a deep love for Christ, and the Church. She suffered her illnesses, offering them up to Jesus, and she cherished her life. Her example was such that many came to the fullness of the Faith because of her. Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, was for Mother Angelica, “a good day to die.”

Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN, age 92, died on Easter Sunday.

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”
~ St. John Chrysostom, Easter Homily

All the years I watched EWTN and loved the feisty nun from Ohio, I loved the clarity of her vision, her no-nonscence approach to scripture and church teaching, and her bold proclamation of Christ. She did not compromise the faith in any way. She loved the Church, she loved the bishops, but she refused to obey when such would put her at odds with Christ. Her example was heroic. Many persons were positively impacted by her work, for examples read HERE.

I particularly loved the discussion of Mother Angelica by Church Militant TV’s The Download. I watched those years and she was amazing. Her zeal was and is an example to me. She left no doubt that her love and allegiance was to Christ through His Church.

Her experience with having to turn her television station over to the laity, to keep it from being destroyed by bishops whose lives were less than what they ought to have been, strikes me as the reason why God directed St. Josemaria Escriva to set up his movement so that the work was owned and directed by lay persons who only turned to the movement for Faith formation so they could better serve Christ in their independent work.

Sadly, EWTN isn’t what it was under Mother Angelica, and I gradually stopped watching it. Luckily, her example inspired others and woke them up, so there are ministries that are in the spirit of her work, like Church Militant Persons who, like Mother Angelica, are unafraid to speak up and tell it as they see it.

As my godmother said the other day, “Jesus said “By the fruit, you will know them.” Seems to me that He wanted us to be ‘fruit inspectors”.”

Mother Angelica was a very savvy ‘fruit inspector’.  Requiescat in pace, Mother Angelica. My soul is better for your having lived.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the example of Mother Mary Angelica. Thank You for the formation in Catholicism many received because of her. Please grant us the grace to carry forward a bold proclamation of the Faith like she did. Memory Eternal be hers. +Amen.

Easter!

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!!!!

I spent Lent this year discerning the directions I have been going, the use of my skills and talents and experience, and I’m read to implement some changes around here.

First, I’m going to blog more Catholic Home Schooling. The reason for that emphasis is the diocese once more sent out wonderful Easter greetings in the form of an advertisement for the Parish schools in our diocese. But as always, ignoring the VALID CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WHICH ARE HOME SCHOOLS.

CATHOLIC Home Schools get pretty much lip service or a slap in the face in our diocese, so it is time I stopped wishing I could get a job facilitating Catholic Home Schools and just get going doing it to the best of my ability.

Second, I purchased a new Camera. There ought to be more photos on this blog. In fact, there may be a theme change in the near future to shift over to a much more visual blogging experience.

I’ve training in photography but being busy with graduate school and then more children came along and my DSLR is nearly 20 years old and so far out of date there wasn’t even any way to compare it to ANY of the new cameras, let alone the new DSLR’s. In the intervening years, carpel tunnel has limited how long I could use my 3 pounds of what used to be fabulous camera. The new camera is half that, and a bridge camera instead of a full DSLR. It has enough of what I loved in the DSLR’s with a Leica lens built in– good glass, 12.8 megapixels, and half the weight. I would have loved a larger sensor, but compared to my old camera this little baby outperforms it to a crazy degree. I can hardly wait!

Third, I intend to put some focus on the many kid oriented things we do around here. There will be some things about American Heritage Girls– for after my waiting and waiting for a Catholic parish to start up a troop it occurred to me that maybe God was waiting for ME to get active and DO IT.  So I started the ball rolling a few weeks ago, and God sent me several awesome ladies right off, and we have been working hard ever since. I plan to invite them to guest post too!

Dear Lord, thank You for Lent and Easter. The gifts You bestowed on humanity through the work of Jesus on the Cross are without number or limit. May You be glorified forever and ever, Alleluia! Alleluia! +Amen.