Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?

Ok, that’s the last of my cheesey Christian music lyric blog titles, I promise. But the other day as I was driving my friend Brooke home from campaigners (that's Bible study, for those non-YL fluent readers) I had one of those God moments, related to that question, that sent chills down my spine.

Brooke is a high school senior, and I’ve spent the last four years getting to know her. It was one of those case-study Young Life leader / bratty high school kid relationships that started out with Brooke ignoring me in public when her friends were around, or, if I was lucky, she would give me a scoff, eye role, or rude comment; those were awesome – she was responding to me! With that as the opening act, it’s pretty awesome that my friendship with Brooke has turned into one that will truly last a lifetime. God has transformed her life in amazing ways, and while I’ve been blessed to be a part of her faith growth, I now find that I am often learning faithfulness from her, and that, my friends, is a beautiful, glorious, divine gift direct off the God train.

As we were driving back from campaigners, we were catching up on life. Brooke was telling me about how awesome 30 Hour Famine was at her church, and about how peaceful she is with life in general, despite this grand turning point of heading off to college in the fall. Just being silly girls, we started jamming a-cappella to some Francesca Battistelli about dents in our fenders and rips in our jeans, and then started gushing about our new favorite songs being played on K-LOVE. She quoted the chorus of Tenth Avenue North’s “By your side,” and then as we were paused at a red light, she said, “But you know what my favorite line is?” We looked at each other and together, like clockwork, we quoted the line, “Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?”

I was reminded of that beautiful moment upon reading yesterday’s Gospel passage* when Jesus says, “For the bread of God is that which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Truly, Christ our savior, present at every Mass in the Eucharist, is so much more than enough.

*John 6:30-35

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Come Rain or Come Shine, Danny Gokey is FINE!

I have plenty of opinions on Senator Specter’s switch; suffice it to say good riddance!

I have ample excitement about Scott Walker’s formal announcement of his second gubernatorial run; suffice it to say I’m already signed up for lit-drops!

Or I could tell you about how I was 808% sure my apartment was being broken into last night at 3:30 a.m. and how I laid in my bed paralyzed until I heard the neighbor outside with his dog and I thought it was safe to get up and attack the attacker because Neighbor Tom and Juno would hear me scream, only to find that my attacker was the wind repeatedly trying to bust open my door.

But after tonight’s performance of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” by the next American Idol Danny Gokey, I have no more important words than to say Danny Gokey is one fine, fine, fine, man, on so many levels.

So, I’m wracking my brain to come up with the winning photo of Fox 6’s Ga Ga for Gokey contest for my chance to meet him. Any creative suggestions are welcome!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Good for Glendon! Who wants sloppy seconds?

Not that my opinion matters, but since you’re reading this, maybe it does. I applaud Mary Anne Glendon, Harvard professor and former Vatican ambassador, for her decision to refuse acceptance of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal.

The Laetare Medal is the University’s most highly esteemed award, granted to recognize outstanding work done by a layperson in service to the Catholic Church. Former recipients include heroes such as Dorothy Day, Clare Boothe Luce, and President John F. Kennedy.

In denying acceptance of the award, Mary Anne Glendon calmly, rationally, and wisely makes the statement that a Catholic University honoring President Obama – who is well-known as a champion of baby-slaughter which, in my opinion, is the greatest civil rights issue of our day – is a detestable act which goes against the USCCB's request (2004) to which she will not stand in any proximate association.

In her letter to Father Jenkins, she explains her disappointment that Notre Dame would go against the USCCB’s request, which is that Catholic institutions not honor or give awards to individuals in defiance of the Catholic Church’s fundamental moral principles, because doing so would suggest support for their actions.

Glendon is a noble defender of basic Christian morality, and it is my prayer that Father Jenkins learns a thing or two from her courageous example.

It is notable that Father Jenkins is “disappointed” by her decision, as he was hoping to add Glendon’s name to the list of deserving recipients. But at the same time, he seems to be moving on to finding a replacement recipient rather quickly. Which brings us to the real question – who’s the best candidate to receive Father Jenkins’ sloppy seconds?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

He’s not finished with me yet

I had the joy this morning of witnessing several of my high school friends be confirmed in the Catholic Church. It is one joyful event to watch a group of teenagers stand in front of their families and friends, profess their faith, and receive the Holy Spirit because they personally WANT to make that commitment to Christ and have the Spirit dwell in them permanently. Woah!

I was asking a few of my friends about which name he or she chose. I was blown away at the depth and clarity each had in that selection. One chose Saint Eva, who was healed of her blindness so my friend chose that as a metaphor for being brought into the light of Christ. Another chose Saint Martin because of his commitment to social justice. Point being, these kids have done their research and they mean business!

It got me thinking about my own Confirmation back in high school. I chose the name Eileen when I was confirmed. Why? I was so lame... I wanted an “E” name so my initials would spell out AMEN and I wanted my name to be Irish, but mostly, I thought the Dexys Midnight Runners’ song was super sweet. So, Eileen it was. As it turns out, there is no Saint Eileen (I got away with it because Eileen is the Irish way to say Helen). I mean, I could have picked any other Irish Saint whose name started with an E, like Saint Éadaoin – which means little fire, or one of beauty; or Saint Eithne – who is remembered for living and dying in an ecstasy of love; or one of my new favorites, Saint Eascrach – which means always blooming. But instead, I picked Eileen because I thought the VH1’s top one-hit-wonder of the eighties was super sweet.

Since then, my faith has come a long, long, very long way, and I no longer make major life decisions based on pop music, thank the Lord. It’s encouraging to look back at my Confirmation – the day I was sealed with the Spirit and His gifts – and see how those gifts have indeed grown in me and guided me, and to see how much God has really taught, molded, and formed me over the last decade. It’s in looking back at the journey that I get excited to think about that pattern continuing. Looking back also makes me think about how incredibly lame I must actually be now, but I hope for becoming the virtuous woman God wants me to be.

So, what's in a name? In Shakespearean fashion, it doesn’t really matter. I can certainly model after the many Saints, who lived with a fiery love while constantly blooming. I was lame on a lot of levels. I still am lame on a lot of levels. But if there’s one thing the Lord has taught me, it’s that He’s not finished with me yet, and for that, a hearty THANKS BE TO GOD!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Viral marketing at its best: "Get that almost baptised feeling!"

Produced by the Archdiocese of New York, this video drove thousands of New Yorkers to confession during Holy Week. It's a clever, hilarious, witty video I urge you to check out if for nothing more than entertainment purposes, but most importanty, it conveys the message that we continue to be in need of our Savior, and that forgiveness is just waiting for us to respond.

Lent is over, but the chance to purify our souls is always available! As the video notes, "just bring your contrite heart!"

You're invited: Lake Express Open House

Come out for some beautiful 80 degree sunshine and join fellow Milwaukeeans for the Lake Express Summer Kickoff Party on the Lake!

It's this Saturday from 1 - 4 p.m. at the Milwaukee terminal (2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive). The event is free and open to the public, family friendly, and will feature free food, tours of the boat, raffle prizes, and even roundtrip ticket giveaways.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hoping for perfected health

What I thought was going to be simple procedure at my doctor’s office turned into quite a scare today for yours truly involving the ER, an EKG, four attempts at inserting an IV, and a very expensive diagnosis of “you’re absolutely fine.”

I went to my doctor this afternoon so he could insert a carbon thread in me to constantly collect my blood sugar numbers for a 72 hour period. It’s a simple procedure, really. No blood, no pain, no fear. Everything was fine for about the ten minutes after they stuck it in me. But then suddenly and without warning I felt my blood pressure plunging, started sweating like a Gatorade commercial, became nauseous, thought I went blind, lost feeling and hearing in my ears, started speaking like Rain Man, and within about a minute went tumbling to the ground like a Jenga tower. Nurses and doctors rushed to my side, and as blood rushed back into my head (I was lying down at this point!) and I started to come-to, I heard someone yell, “call the ambulance!”

And they did. I could share with you about the heinous treatment provided in the ER, such as how they left me hooked up the EKG machine for hours, forgot to check on me, and didn’t let me use the ladies’ room. Or, I could tell you about how it took four stabs and three people to finally get an IV in my vein. Or, I could tell you about how they avoided me in my bed for so long that my blood sugar fell to 60 and they didn’t seem to think that was a problem. But the most ridiculous part (besides the fact that I was in the ER at all) that I’d most like to share with you was the donkey’s rear doctor who finally saw me for a total of 2.3 minutes. The conversation went like this: 

Dr. Donkey’s Rear: There’s nothing wrong with you.

Me: Great. But why did I pass out?

Dr. Donkey’s Rear: Because you have a history of heart palpitations.

Me: But I don’t have a history. I’ve never had heart palpitations, and the EKG you just reviewed proved that.

Dr. Donkey’s Rear: Are you having them right now?

Me: No.

Dr. Donkey’s Rear: Did you have them earlier today?

Me: Obviously, and I’m here for you to tell me why.

Dr. Donkey’s Rear: I can’t. But I can tell you the ones you had today happened in the past, so you do therefore have a history of heart palpitations. 

I decided not to waste my breath arguing with the dude who has clearly never taken a logic class, so I stopped talking to him, he turned around, and I didn’t see him again.

Anyways, it turns out I had an intense episode of Vasovagal Syncope, which is a fancy way of saying some part of my brain I don’t have control of made my body freak out in response to the internal glucose monitor, and as a result I fainted. All’s well that ends well, and it was a great reminder that health is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing – as believers we hope for the day our bodies will be perfected, but until then, and despite my imperfect health, I’m going to thank God every day for the health I do have. 

It is NOT cheese!

Disclaimer: I actually have tried soy cheese. I don't just pretend to dislike it because I'm a Republican; I really do dislike it.

My good friend and officemate, whom I shall call Bowens, and I discuss food on a fairly regular basis. Today, this discussion was spawned with me raving about the homemade mac-and-cheese I made last night in celebration of finally refilling my Novalog prescription after the long, carbohydrate-free weekend I found myself in because I failed to call my doctor and have my prescription refilled before Friday at 5 p.m., but that's another story for another day.

So, my mac-and-cheese was awesome. Bowens then started telling me all about how she recently discovered what she called "soy cheese." I was puzzled, perplexed, and borderline baffled by this. She called it cheese, but it's made of soy, not dairy. I wasn’t understanding the conclusion of her argument, so I posed some questions to explore her premises.

Is it creamy? Does it melt? Is it delicious? Does it have ANY of the revered, unique and cherished qualities of God's greatest gift of food to humanity, excluding, of course, the Eucharist?

Bowens admittedly responded with "no," to each of my questions. So, while you soy-eaters are absolutely free to enjoy your bean product, please don't derogate the sacredness of cheese by stealing its identity. Call it soy product, brick-o-soy, dairy-free-substitute-for-cheese, I don't care, but please, don't call it cheese.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My God box

This weekend I got around to having my “birthday lunch,” albeit 3 months late, with my dear friend Debbie (we went to Berkely’s Cafe, which, I highly recommend, btw). Debbie is full of wisdom and encouraging words, and even as a Baby Boomer she always shows me what it means to have faith as confident and dependent as a child’s. Debbie is a mentor of sorts to me. I had quite a few things I was looking forward talking with her about, and per usual, she came through with the exact wisdom and encouragement I desperately needed.

Debbie told me about her “God box,” and encouraged me to quit simply praying that God’s will be done, and to start praying for the desires of my heart. If we are truly delighting in the Lord and truly seeking him, it is A-OK to knock and ask for specifics. He is our Abba Father – Pappa, Daddy – and he loves to take care of us, rejoice over us, and shower us with blessings! Good grief, are we lucky or what?

Too often I feel guilty and selfish when asking God for specifics – but why? As Jesus agonized in the garden of Gethsemane, he did this himself! “Father, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Why do we then, as followers of Christ, de-emphasize the first portion of that prayer? Jesus asked his Father for the specific desire of his heart – that he remove the forthcoming suffering. Of course, it is followed with the “thy will be done” prayer, but let’s put the example of Christ into practice and start being real with God and asking him for specifics. He already knows the desires of our hearts, so if those desires are such that glorify God and are in line with his commandments, there is no reason to avoid being honest with him, or refrain from asking him to grant those desires. Prayer is a conversation – talking and listening – with God. We may or may not get “our way,” but it is exactly because as believers we sincerely and ultimately want God’s will to be done, that we have the freedom to approach the throne honestly and humbly, presenting our petitions to our loving Father.

So here’s the point of this first post… I’m following the example of my friend, and starting my “God box.” When I have a request to make to God, I now write that specific prayer on a piece of paper, usually with some supporting scripture or request for a specific Saint to partner with me in that prayer, and I give it over to the Almighty by putting it in my God box with a trusting, hopeful, humble heart. I confidently trust that he’ll either grant my petition, or blow me away with an even greater plan that I may not understand until I see him face to face. But… by honestly asking for specifics, whenever I offer any prayer, I have the confidence that God knows the desires of my heart that I have laid at his feet… or, as the case may be, put in my God box.

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matt 7:7

“Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Thanks for visiting! I’m not really sure why I decided to finally start a blog after years of talking about it, other than the facts that I have a lot to share, I like to write, and since no one has offered me a column yet, I figure blog-world is a good enough place to sort the ramblings up in my brain into what I hope are at least semi-coherent thoughts.

While most of my entries will probably be stories from the thrilling trails of my life, I reserve the right to comment on current events, Church happenings, and Danny Gokey.

Thanks for stopping by; please come back soon!