Walking on Sunshine

Posts tagged ‘christianity’

Weekend Menu

Over at (In)Courage, Ann is asking about our ‘Weekend Menus’.  We’re talking God rather than pizza and ice cream though.

Weekend Menu:

1. What is one thing you really could do this weekend that you would find soul nourishing? Write that down at the top of your to-do list for this weekend! He longs to feed you.

My main need is to get to Confession.  I haven’t done anything particularly awful but it’s four months since I made my First Confession and I’m feeling decidedly grubby.  I have two opportunities to go today so really don’t have any excuse for missing it.

2. How could you offer soul nourishment to one other person this weekend? Smile as you make that one special thing happen for one other person… You are passing His feast of grace to your right!

I’m stumped on this one.  Really stumped.  So if there’s something I can do for you please let me know.

On Sabbaths

Forty Acres, A Husband, & Three Kids · The Sabbath With a Bird, Flowers, and Calves Thrown in the Mix.

The post I have linked to above really got me thinking about Sundays.  Or, perhaps, I had better say Sabbaths. I find it very sad that we no longer keep the Sabbath in Scotland.  And yet I know I would be among the first to complain if I found myself unable to buy a pint milk on a Sunday.  The days when the only person working on Sunday was the Priest are long gone.

I imagine we all have different constraints placed upon us on Sundays.  Perhaps Sunday is a day of work.  Perhaps it’s the day you do your shopping.  Or perhaps, as the weather heats up, you find yourself mowing the lawn.  Maybe your sabbath isn’t a Sunday at all.

My Sabbath is a Sunday.  But I count it from Saturday’s Vigil Mass until the last mass on Sunday evening.  This means I have some ‘ doing time’ on both Saturday and Sunday but I also have  at day of rest.  After dinner on Saturday I try to get everything in the kitchen cleaned up and any washing hung to dry so I have to do is little as possible on my sabbath.  On Sunday itself, I sometimes attend a knitting group with a friend (and, yes, I know this means asking other people to perform servile work — I choose to assume that they have the opportunity to enjoy a sabbath on another day of the week).  If Liz and I are not meeting to knit then I probably spent most of the day reading.

And that’s where Sunday becomes The Lords Day for me.  I don’t read secular books on the sabbath.  Or magazines.  I really like having one day of the week set aside to read Christian books.

I usually go to the Sunday evening mass and I like to have a long, hot shower first so that’s my Sunday treat.  And, when I come home, my sabbath is over and I start thinking about the week ahead.

What’s your sabbath like?

Inspiring Women Every Day for New Christians

I’m working through CWR’s Inspiring Women Every Day for New Christians at the moment.  I know I’m not a new Christian and I know this isn’t a Catholic resource but it’s something I like to work through periodically.  I actually meant to do it during Lent as the study of John’s Gospel lasts 40 days but didn’t (for no very good reason, I may add!)  I’m applying the Bible reading method I was taught in RCIA for each passage the booklet directs me to read.  And then I read the notes that go along with it from the booklet.  This is forcing me to slow down enough to actually read it and think about the message instead of skimming over the words and ticking ‘Done.’  I’ve found I’m getting much more out of it (and it’s taking a lot longer!) than my previous efforts and I actually feel nourished and satisfied when I’m done although I’d often like even more.  I’ve noticed that, since the Easter Vigil, I seem to have a real hunger for God and all things Godly – prayer, Mass, Bible reading – but I don’t feel empty at all.  It’s not that kind of hunger.  Very odd and I’m sorry I can’t explain it more clearly.

Anyway.  I thought I’d share some of the lightbulb moments I’m experiencing.  I don’t have anything very profound to say, mind you, and most of it is probably glaringly obvious to everyone but me!  But, humour me?  Please!  I’ve saved some draft posts and will try to start writing and posting tomorrow. I would start now but my supper and bed are calling …

Phases of Womanhood – A Catholic perspective on women, faith, work, relationships and real life | Blog

Phases of Womanhood – A Catholic perspective on women, faith, work, relationships and real life | Blog.

Sylvia says:

God inspires.

I obey.

Everything works out.

How good is that?  It’s one of the things I believe the Pentecostals and Evangelicals have got right.  In my experience, they tend to be very much ‘led by the Spirit.’  Or their imaginations.  Or what seems good to them at the time.  Because their are abuses – I’ve seen them.  And that saddens me greatly.

So I do believe that the Holy Spirit can guide us.  But I need to know, for myself and those about me, that imagination and expediency haven’t taken over.  Since reading Sylvia’s post I’ve been thinking about how to know what’s the Holy Spirit’s leading and what isn’t.  I suppose one could call it discernment.

1 John 4:1 tells us that not every spirit or prophet comes from God and, if you read on, the passage explains that what comes from Jesus will confirm that He is the Risen Christ, what doesn’t come from Him won’t.  It sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why it’s never registered with me before now.  How many times have I followed a leading without asking a question first.  How many times have I led myself into trouble?

But I’m open and willing to heal and to learn.  Jesus has already done so much for me – too much to tell in one blog post.  Too much to tell in a lifetime.  And today He’s giving me a lesson.  If it proclaims Him, if it knows Him, if it loves Him then it is of Him.  And if it doesn’t, and doesn’t, and doesn’t then it is not.

I feel such relief at this discovery.  Another healing.  Another learning.  And peace.

Bible Reading Technique

I said I’d share the technique I’ve been taught at RCIA for reading/studying the Bible.  Here’s what I do:

  1. Read the whole passage.
  2. Note down who is speaking and who is being addressed.
  3. Note down anything I don’t understand.
  4. Summarise the passage.
  5. Note down any applications of what it says – either at a personal level or more generally.

This is my adaptation of the full instructions and is offered in the spirit of ‘this is what works for me’.

I’m Fading Fast …

This post is destined to be a bit of a ramble so, if you’re short of time:

I’ve had a busy day.  I’ve had the cold for a while and am feeling ill.  I don’t know if I have the stamina to make it to SlimmingWorld tonight.  And then I’m going to ramble about ‘real food’ for a bit before moving on to talk about Lent.

Today started at 5am.  My days are meant to begin at 6am but, lately, I’ve been waking up earlier which is kind of OK.  So I woke at 5am, snuggled with the cats for a bit and then got up.  My cleaner came this morning so we’re all spick and span.  Then Sainsbury’s delivered groceries and I put them away – I love knowing I’ve got lots of food in the house.  And having food means I’ll be cooking for the next few days till the freezer’s stocked again which is fun.  And then we’ll go on to the eating …

But moving on.  Lunch happened and then I thought about studying but didn’t actually open the books.  I wrote yesterday about bringing prayer into my daily life and to this end I decided I needed a prayer book.  Shopping or study?  Shopping or study?  Shopping won.  It usually does – just ask my Bank Manager!  So I trotted off into town and chose a really lovely (but suitably simple) prayer book.  For those that are interested, it’s this one.

Once I’d made my purchase, I realised that I was starting to feel really ill.  So I came home via a pet-sitting job (little old man called Tigger who is missing his mummy very much).  I fed myself some painkillers and had a coffee before hitting the shower in the hope that this would revive me.  It didn’t – although I now smell of coconuts which is always good.

Meds for me, meds for cats, dinner for cats, dinner for me.  And I neglected to use my new prayer book to say Grace.  Bad Laura.  I now have seven minutes before I have to leave for SlimmingWorld if I’m going.  After the recent feline interruption we’re now down to three minutes but I can have more painkillers now …

I am not going to SlimmingWorld tonight.  I’m ill.  I’m tired.  And I just want to veg out in front of the TV and then go to bed.  The diet will still begin tomorrow since I now have suitable food but I will go it alone for a week and see how I do.

OK.  So on to the other topics I’ve been thinking about.  I read a very interesting blog post last night and, unfortunately, can’t remember where it was so that I might give credit where it is due.  Ah well …  The writer was talking about her experience of ‘real food’ which she described as being unprocessed wholefoods.  She had become interested in the real food movement after reading The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin and claimed various benefits including weight-loss.  And she got me to thinking:

Could my health problems (in particular the constant migraines) be connected with my diet?

So I’ve done some digging on the internets and there are mixed reports about The Maker’s Diet.  I think the basic premise:  eat what God intended a human being to eat instead of chemical-laden rubbish, is good and I’m very interested in the whole concept of ‘real food’.  I’ve just ordered a copy of the book from Amazon and we’ll see how I get on with it.

And this brings me nicely to the question of Lent.  I haven’t had RCIA instruction about Lent yet (we’re doing the Sacraments at the moment) but I believe one should give something up for it and also do something positive?  And I’ve been wondering what to do for a while.  I’ve decided I’m going to take a big, deep breath and give up caffeine.  Now, I have to confess here that I’ve done this before and felt fabulous once my body got used to it so I’m not being entirely selfless.  But it is something I will find very hard and should, therefore, turn my thoughts to Christ’s passion.

For the doing of something positive I’m going to commit to daily Mass during Lent with a ‘missed for good reason’ caveat as I can do without feeling guilty if I’m sick and so can’t go.  Again, this is something I’ve done before (although not at Lent) and it made me feel really good and behave like a nicer person.  Being in Church at 9:30am every day will also help me stay awake without umpteen cups of coffee!

Once again, the pieces are falling into place.  Life is good – even if my throat does hurt!

New Year’s Resolutions

Sharon, over at The Bird’s Nest, has been reviewing her progress on 2010’s Resolutions.  And it seems that she’s doing quite well.  Which has prompted me to go and find out what mine were …

  1. Lose 52lbs in 2010: Yes, I’m the kind of perfectionist who aims for 1lb a week for 52 weeks.  I’ve lost 2lbs so far this year so I’m already behind schedule.  But I have high hopes that SlimmingWorld will get me back on track.  If the snow stays away I’ll be starting my new class tonight.  The groceries have just arrived and I’ll be starting to cook it all up into meals this afternoon so I’ll be ready to start on the new plan from breakfast time tomorrow.  Watch this space.
  2. Attend Mass every Sunday in 2010: I’ve failed already although, as I had a genuine illness, I’m not beating myself up over it.  I’m in a cycle of migraines at the moment or I’d tell you I’d be there on Sunday for sure.  As it is, I’ll be there on Sunday if I’m not squinting in pain.
  3. Read 100 books in 2010: This one has gone awry too.  I need to read 8.3 books a month and I only managed four in January.  I’m in a real slump with reading just now and don’t know how to get myself back on track.  If any of you knows how to reignite the spark then I’d love to hear from you.

So that’s my review of 2010’s Resolutions.  And now I’m depressed.

Minnesota Mom: Food for Thought

“For me, each day came forth from the hand of God newly created and alive with opportunities to do His will. For me, each day was a series of moments and incidents to be offered back to God, to be consecrated and returned in total dedication to His will.”

— From the memoir He Leadeth Me by Father Walter J. Ciszek

via Minnesota Mom: Food for Thought.

This quotation really takes my breath away.  It’s so simple and yet seems to contain so much.  Every day is a gift from God and Father Walter endeavours to offer each moment back to Him.  I tend to make my Morning Offering, take a look at the day’s Mass readings while I guzzle coffee and then, suitably fuelled by caffeine, start the day.

I’ve been thinking that something might be wrong with this picture but I’m not sure what to change or how to change it.  Or even if I can.

The Divine Office?  It’s certainly good for brining one back to God five times a day but, being totally honest, I’ve tried to ‘do’ it to the best of my ability and really didn’t get a whole lot out of it.  The Office is centred around the Psalms.  The Psalms are poetry.  I’m not really fond of poetry.  And, in any case, I’m sure they lose a lot in translation.  I can see the point of saying a specific Psalm relating to your current situation but what’s the point of saying something that doesn’t fit where you are?  No, the Divine Office and I don’t get along.

Daily Mass?  Now here’s something I can do.  I love going to Mass.  I won’t bore you by listing all the reasons why but I do love it.  And I’m fortunate to be in a Parish where Mass is celebrated every morning at a Church within walking distance from my home.  I like the direction my life takes when I go every day, especially if I have time for Adoration too.  The weather and ill health have conspired against me getting to Sunday Mass, never mind Weekday, recently but I’m willing to start reversing the trend.  In fact, I’ve already made up a new schedule with ‘9:30am – Mass’ as the first appointment each day.  Now I just have to get well enough to go and hope the snow stays away.

So I’ve found a ‘Big Thing’ I can do.  But I feel I need ‘Little Things’ too.  I’m reminded of Brother Lawrence who gave each task he performed to God.  I’ve read The Practice of the Presence of God but it was an audiobook and I found it difficult to take in.  I’d actually struggle now to tell you anything from it.

Is prayer the key?  I’m thinking about learning specific prayers for specific activities/intentions.  Yes, I know there’s nothing wrong with just chatting to God in your own words but rote prayers work better for me.  I already have a prayer which I say whenever I hear that someone has died.  I think it’s time to start adding other prayers to my repertoire.  I think a visit to the Pauline bookstore to look at prayer books may be in order …

I do believe I’ve got it!

I have never understood women who claim to do the hair’n’makeup thing ‘for themselves.’  I used to make the same claim but had twisted it into:

I want to be more attractive to men, therefore, I wear makeup.  Being attractive to men is for me!

I was a typical ‘She’s Out of Control girl.  I wore thick glasses until I was 16 and still have nightmares about the state of my teeth.  I had long hair which I habitually scraped back from my face into a plait which went from the nape of my neck to my waist.  I wore no makeup.  I had no ‘trendy’ clothes.

Until I was about 14 I was more interested in horses than boys.  I didn’t have any friends at school but did have like-minded buddies at the local stables so all was fairly OK (although I wouldn’t go back to the bullying I experienced at school for anything).

At 14, things changed.  I got two friends from school – and they could be fairly described as ‘pretty.’  They got attention from boys and I wanted the same.  Horses faded out of the picture – I was studying for exams and had really outgrown The Pony Club anyway.

I overcame a lifetime’s terror of dentists and got my teeth fixed.  I stopped wearing glasses unless I was required to see something – my friends promised to stop me chatting to ugly boys as I really was and am blind without lenses of some description.   I learned how to apply makeup and what clothes to wear.  And so I entered the worlds of ‘Looking Nice’ and ‘Romance.’

The two worlds were twinned in my mind.  Looking Nice = Romance.  Simple.  And it worked.  I got boyfriends.  And got out of control.  It was a fun time in many ways but, as with the schoolyard bullying, I wouldn’t go back there if you offered me the world.

As an adult, I continued the patterns I learned as a teen.  I wouldn’t go across the road to buy a pint of milk without eye-liner.  I had a goth phase and probably looked like Morticia.  And then my mental health deteriorated and just getting through each day occupied all of my energies and ‘beauty’ fell by the wayside.  You could have assessed my mental health just by looking at me:  hair’n’makeup = well; didn’t-even-shower = sick.

Things got more complicated when I became a Christian and then started to take my faith seriously a number of years later.  I was (and possibly still am) conservative and traditional in outlook and, having read the letters of St Paul and attended various conservative-thinking Churches, I developed a liking for plainness:  headcovering, submission, no make-up, skirts and dresses only.  I tried really hard to live up to the ideals I created but always fell short.  In retrospect, while tarting myself up to attract romance was wrong so was moving to the other extreme.  Just call me All-Or-Nothing Girl.

You can fast-forward now to a couple of weeks ago.  At RCIA, we talked about how to read and apply the Bible to one’s own situation in life.  I learned that parts of the Bible should be take literally, parts are allegorical and parts were intended for a specific place and time with the underlying intention coming to us today.  The lady leading the discussion specifically mentioned Paul’s writings on women fitting into the third category.  Talk about getting food for thought!

Since that meeting, I’ve given the subject a lot of thought and I’ve discovered that I enjoy making myself ‘look nice’.  It’s for me – I enjoy the process of doing my hair, putting on a bit of make-up, deciding what to wear.  I enjoy the effect when I look in the mirror.  I’m not out to ensnare a man or ’cause a brother to sin.’  I think it’s possible to be modest (the message Paul was trying to get across) and still ‘look nice’.

I really like this more balanced way of thinking.  Maybe All-or-Nothing Girl’s days are numbered?

The Beautiful Gate: Wrinkles! Flab! Gray Hair!

The Beautiful Gate: Wrinkles! Flab! Gray Hair!.

I really like this blogger’s take on growing older.

I didn’t bother much with my appearance until I discovered boys when I was about 13.  And then I embraced sexual allure with alacrity.  In truth, I think my mother was right when she said I looked like a prostitute.  But I got lots of male attention and, as that was what I wanted, I was happy.

Today, I’m very different.  I wear comfortable shoes.  I don’t wash my hair every day.  I rarely wear make-up.  I don’t seek or receive male attention.  And, you know what?  I’m a whole lot happier now than I was at 16.

I got my first grey hair (it’s actually silver) a couple of years ago.  And I have wrinkles round my eyes – mostly when I smile but I can see them getting deeper and more permanent.  I wouldn’t say that these are badges of honour – more signs of a mis-spent youth, I think.  But they’re me.  And I don’t desire to change them.  I use a moisturiser because I have dry skin and it gets sore if I don’t but it’s not a fancy ‘Look 10 years younger in 10 minutes’ one.  I don’t plan on colouring my hair.

This isn’t to say I don’t make some kind of effort to look nice.  And personal hygiene is a must.  But spending an hour or more every day in front of the mirror, trying to change my appearance?  No, thank you.

I’m small and round.  I wear glasses.  I work with animals.  And, at 36, I’m accepting that I’m middle-aged.  Why would any of that require me to look like a mannequin?  Sure, it’s nice to dress up once in a while but I’d rather be comfy 99% of the time.  And, you know what?  Where I am now feels pretty good 🙂