Thursday, January 27, 2005

Loved Alias last night!

I really enjoyed the show last night, "Welcome to Liberty Village". I really LOVED the story Vaughn told about how he and Syd got engaged, and how all of us longtime fans knew that his stoyy would have come true 3 years ago if not for the Francinator and The Covenant. But I really liked how they built up some chemistry between Syd and Vaughn again, and the storyline about them being boring gave me a chuckle.

And it looks like Yelena Derevko will be featured this season. At this point, I think Lauren's mom is the missing Derevko sister.

I really like this episode, but last week's "Ice" is my favorite for the season so far. The guest actress who played the Scottish doctor was phenomenal in her role, IMO. And I appreciate the struggle Vaughn is going through in dealing with the death of Lauren. However, why did he say it was wrong to kill her? Wasn't it self defense, if I remember correctly?

So, season 4 is off to a great start, in my opinion. But isn't it sad when I am ticked off that there has to be a state of the union address and that I will have to miss a week of Alias? I know, my priorities are a bit off.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What Is the Official Age...

...when a boy becomes a smart alec? Is it ten? Because my nephew has a little stinker of a streak going through him right now.

My sister-in-law was over with her kids, one of them being 10 year old Joshua. Our six-year-olds were fighting with each other, and she and I went to each respective child to fix their behavior.

Joshua: "Why are you two doing that?"

Sister: "Doing what?"

Joshua: "Well, Aunt Jackie is in one room telling one kid to share his toys, and you are in the other telling your kid to respct other people's property if they don't want it to be touched. Why are you telling them two different things?"

Sister: "Because we want each of you kids to be nice, respectful people, no matter what the other is doing."

Joshua: "But how are we supposed to know what to do when you moms are doing that? You aren't making any sense!"

Sister: "Because we like to torture you with things that don't make sense because that's what parents do to their children. Now be quiet and play."

OK, so the kid had a point. But where in the world did he get the brains to figure that out? I think my sister-in-law is going to have a lot of fun in the next ten years with that little guy running around.

Taking a Break From "Me", "Myself", and "I".

How do you think you would do if you had to go a whole day without using the words "I", "me", "myself" or anything of the like. The point being, could you go a whole day without talking about yourself?

This challenge came across to me in one of my many adventures in reading, but don't ask me when or where I found this. I can't remember. But this thought has always stuck in my head. I have wanted to try it, but never really have. There have been times when I have gone to events and have vowed to be a good listener and to be totally present to the people I am interacting with, but I've never tried anything as concrete as committing to a whole day of not talking about myself.

I don't think I would do well. I think I might do OK with not talking about what is going on in my life or talking about experiences I have had. But I think I would greatly fail in controlling my tendency to give my opinions and theories about what is going on in the world, in my friends lives, etc. And I would really fail when it comes to refuting opinions that I think are flat out wrong. I have a really bad habit of thinking it is my job to set everybody straight on the facts of life.

I know a lot of people who would struggle with this task. We all have friends who never seem to be able to turn the mirror away from their beautiful reflection, even in conversations. I have friends who always talk about themselves, and when I talk about anything else, or anything pertaining to me, they turn the conversation back to themselves. If the conversation naturally drifts to something else, they get a glazed-over look, indicating their boredom. And of course in my self-centerdness, I actually try and compete with these people, trying to get in comments or at least a short phrase, here and there turning the conversation away from them. I know, I can certainly be a little childish and immature.

Last night I was watching The Bachelorette, and there was a guy named Josh who was so focused on impressing Jen with how wonderful he was that he forgot to try and get to know Jen, and in the process forgot to let her talk. She found it very "offputting" and so he got the boot from the show. But I think it taught a great lesson: show a lady how wonderful you are by listening to how wonderful she is. I think it's a lesson that can be applied in all relationships, not only romantic ones.

My sister-in-law, Monica, possesses the great trait of not talking about herself too much. I have actually tried to imitate her example, since I see myself as being the extreme opposite. In our large family, we tend to get into some very lively and heated discussions. Sometimes we get to the end of the conversation and Monica hasn't even spoken a word, or maybe just a comment or two. I remember asking her about that one time. "How do you do it? How do you just not explode over what you want to say?" She told me that she likes to hear what everyone else has to say and take it all in. Then she said, "Besides, if I wait long enough, someone else usually offers the opinion I had anyway." And in my self-centerdness I thought, "But don't you want to be the one to say it?" I felt ashamed of that thought almost a minute after it crossed my head. And it really opened my eyes to my attitudes on the art of conversation.

I think we can feel it when we are talking about ourselves because it is the natural flow of conversation versus a desire to make ourselves known, to make ourselves liked, to prove ourselves, or because we think our thoughts or experiences are just much more interesting than anybody else's. I know I can feel it. It creeps up and feels very much the same as when I know I've eaten too much or am dressed immodestly.

I think about the people who I really like the most and feel comfortable around. They are the people who genuinely listen to me, and offer up their own contributions as a part of the natural flow of the conversation. They make me feel like they are interested in me and who I am, and not because I have inundated them with information about myself. When with these people, I don't feel like I have to talk about myself in order to be liked.

And in an effort to break out of my self-centeredness, I hope not to focus on the people who make me feel this way and take pleasure in them, but rather focus on how I can make myself more like them for the people I come in contact with. I would love it if people said they liked me not because I was so eloquent, funny, witty, or because of what I've said, but rather that they liked me because I made them feel interesting, worthy, or loved.

By the way, I do see the irony of this post. I used words refering to myself in the first person 84 times, and most of this is about my thoughts, my challenges, my irritations, or my resolutions (85,86, 87...). Oh well, maybe I'll accept the challenge tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Good Catholic Broken Marriages: We Are Not Immune!

I have been encountering SO MANY couples lately who are on the verge of divorce or who are dealing with serious problems. I've read some blogging about the MacFarlanes as an example of how no good Catholic marriage is safe from evil. But somehow I have seen that situation as being "other people". But when I begin to see people among my family and friends, who are faithful Catholic, homeschooling, Rosary-saying people going through huge problems, it begins to hit really close to home. When I see married friends just struggling not to kill each other and instead love each other on a daily basis, it saddens me.

My husband and I are very, very blessed. I don't know if it is just luck (but I know we don't believe in that), or if it because we have struggled so much financially so don't have time to struggle with our marriage, or if it because we got married so young and went into it with no expectations at all, so therefore had nothing to be disappointed in. Is it because we have a great amount of chemistry and think so alike on things it's a bit scary? Maybe it's because I let him watch his sports and actually can get into it with him, and he indulges my crazy TV habits (he's just as into Veronica Mars as I am). I don't know, but we haven't had too many struggles with each other. Well, there was that one time...

Yeah, you all thought I was going to go on a high-horse about how my marriage is so perfect, right? Not a chance, because that was a mistake I made a few years ago. I thought I was a good Catholic who keeps popping babies out left and right with a former seminarian/current youth minister as a husband, so I was immune, right?

Of course, out of honor to my marriage and just out of my non-of-your-business attitude I tend to have towards people, I won't share the details of the difficult times in my marriage. But I will say this, I know that God allowed us to struggle because we needed to recognize how vulnerable we were to the attacks of satan. I needed to see that no one is immune.

I experienced personal pride at times because when my husband would hurt me, I would turn around and think, "Oh, I must love him more because I would never do such a thing...I'm a better wife than he is a husband." A special priest gave me the warning, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." He tried to get me to get off my pride-pedastal that I put myself on. He didn't realize that God would do it Himself later when I began to struggle with my own things and realized, "Oh, my, I sure am not as good as I think I am."

So, lessons learned, right? Nope there is more. I began to think that my marriage was being attacked because of how special my marriage was and satan was trying to deter my husband and I from the great things we were going to accomplish. I confided this to a friend, who was gracious enough to knock me out of another disillusionment. She said something so profound. You ain't that special. Come again? That's right, Satan is not going after me because we are the next Mary and Joseph. He goes after EVERYBODY! I actually thought satan gave a rip about me. I thought he feared the impact I was going to have on the world. Satan couldn't care less who I was, he just wants me, and my husband, and my children, and everyone who is directly and indirectly affected my my marriage. He wants us all. And that's it.

So why not think I'm so special with a personal mission and am the next God's-gift to earth and that's why Satan is attacking my marriage? Maybe I do have some special purpose in life? Well, once again, it's another pride-pedastal to put myself on. Tell me, in your search for God and all things holy, are you more likely to passionately search through every nook and cranny of your soul to get to God if you think you are in desperate need of our Lord, or will you still seek with such fervor if you think you are hand-picked by our Lord with some special gift no one else has? Why seek God if you think you already have Him in your back pocket? Why prepare, when you already have what it takes? Why pray for God to make you stronger, if you think you are already strong enough.

Granted, all of you might not be like this, but I sure am. I don't want to fall into the same trap again of thinking I am immune from attack and temptation. I want to remember how weak and human I can be when I am not alert. And I want every other good Catholic married person to know this as well.

Sure, we all tell ourselves these words, but do we really believe it? How many of us wives kneel down in prayer for our husbands not just once a day, but throughout the day? How many wives pray for their husband to be a good husband, to be a good father? How many wives pray often for her husband's abilities in his job, his virtues as a friend, his purity in his sexuality, his faithfulness to prayer, or his honor as a son to his parents? How many husbands offer up continually that their wives may be sustained throughout the day in her duties, in her wisdom as a mother disciplining their children, in her growth in knowledge of our Lord, or in her charity towards those in need?

How many of us fast for our marriages? Offer up Rosaries and novenas regularly? Offer up our Mass for our marriages?

How many of us go on marraige retreats? And how many of us avoid those same retreats because we think, "My marriage isn't in trouble. Why do I need to go on a reatreat to fix it?"

When we have a "good Catholic marriage", do we pray to God to fix our marriage? I know I don't. But why not? Who ever told us that we weren't broken?

We are all broken, and so are our marriages. We need to know that so we are prepared to face it when satan decides to show us how broken we really are, and then attempts to break us some more.

I am hoping to re-read one of my favorite books "The Power of a Praying Wife," because it was one of the best tools I have ever encountered for my marriage. Just another step towards breaking my good/happy/broken/vulnerable marriage, until my husband and I reach the place where marriage is no longer necessary.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Top 10 Reasons Why I am Glad NOT to Be a "Youth Minister's Wife" Anymore

I told you I'd do it, so here they are...

10. My husband will actually be at HOME at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night (and every other night, for that matter).

9. No more calls to my home from parents of teenagers wondering what the driving directions are to a reatreat site in the foothills 100 miles away ("She's the 'youth minister's wife', she MUST know how to get there offhand by memory. And she probably knows the phone number to the place by heart too!")

8. I can go to confession to the pastor without constantly thinking I am confessing my sins to my husband's BOSS.

7. Whe my husband goes "away on business", the location will not include the phrases "amusement park", "ski-trip", "white water rafting", "laser tag", or "beach trip".

6. Speaking of beach trips, no more calls from angry parents wondering where the heck their children are after a beach trip in which my husband calls from a cell phone asking me to explain to the parents that the leader of the car-caravan is completely lost and someone spilled their milkshake on the map and so they will be home in an hour or so if they don't miss their exit AND make a wrong turn...again. By the way, how did all these people get our home number anyway?

5. The pastor will (hopefully) stop using our family, by name, as examples in his homilies.

4. When out on the town for a family day, my husband won't be repeatedly stopped for random conversations... by fifteen year olds.

3. I will no longer be able to recognize the approach of my husband by the clanking of the 150 sets of keys he has to every single nook and cranny of the Church on his keychain.

2. When I say we are stopping by "Daddy's office", my children will no longer scream in glee for the chance to play with the air hockey table, the pool table, the foosball table, or the Nintendo Game Cube. They won't be eating all the leftover candy, potato chips, or soda either.

1. We can finally order pizza again without my husband cringing, grimacing, sighing, or just running away in fear and disgust with his arms over his head yelling, "NOOOO! Not pizza AGAIN!!!"

Thank you, Lord, for the chance to live out this experience with my husband. It was such a blessing in our lives, and we grew so much.

God is good...ALL THE TIME! All the time...GOD IS GOOD!

Changes in Parish Life

Some of you may know that my husband has been the youth minister at our parish for the past 4 years. As of last weekend, his time there in that role has officially ended. This weekend they are throwing him a farewell party, and that will be it.

So now what? This is the parish I grew up in, and we were married in, our children were baptized in, etc. So we do know how to be parishoners there without my husband working there. But this is going to be a huge change for us.

I don't know if any of you out there have worked in ministry for the Church before, but there is a certain role that goes with a family of someone who does work there. For 4 years I have been "the youth minister's wife" in the eyes of so many people, especially the teenagers there. Our kids have been "the youth minister's kids", which, by the way, is no fun when everyone is watching your kids completely act out of control in the middle of Mass and are watching you, the "youth minster's wife", look like she's about to have a complete melt-down. Talk about "pressure"...

But as the "youth minister's wife", my focus was directed in a specific way. For example, every Sunday before the Youth Mass and Life Night (what the youth group meetings are called), I would pray a Rosary (and make my kids do it too) for my husband and the youth ministry program. Sure I can still do that, I guess. But admit it, it isn't the same. And last summer when my husband led an abstinence program for the teens, the girls actually asked if I could be the one to lead the girls. I felt so honored, so loved, a "youth minister's wife". That won't be happening anymore.

We have friends and family who call us on holidays and holy days of obligation to find out what the Mass times and Confession times are. We have people who call us to ask when catechism registration or Bible study is. Most of the time we know. When we don't, we are met with a surprised reaction, even from ourselves. "You mean, we didn't know that? How'd we miss that?"

Everyone we have interacted with and have gotten close to within the Church for the past four years has been through youth ministry. Be it meetings, Church gatherings, Mass, etc., this is the capacity we have been able to get close to many people. So now what? We won't see these people on a weekly basis anymore. We had volunteer meetings at our house, and sometimes the other volunteers hosted the meetings themselves. While business was conducted, so was casual conversation and getting to know one another. No more of this. There will now be a new youth minister and his girlfriend who will be with these people every week. So, where do our friendships lie? Where do we stand in the eyes of these people?

Just to clarify, we won't be attending the youth Mass for a while because the new youth minister will be coming in, and we understand that the pressure of starting a new job with the former youth minister standing over your shoulder might put some pressure on him, so we will go to another Mass until the new youth minister has established himself for a bit. So, we really won't be seeing some of our friends at all for a while.

And to be honest, while I HATED having to know all about the Church politics, conflicts, inside scoops, and such, at the same time, I felt like I knew what was going on in the parish. You know how they say "ignorance is bliss"? This goes for parish life as well. But while this was stressful, at times, it was also very comforting in a way. I'm not sure how to explain it, but not being "in-the-know" may make me feel a bit isolated, disconnected. When I hear when catechism registration is and how much it will be, I won't know exactly how much scheduling conflicts there were nor the debate over the cost that went on. When I hear about the upcoming retreat for the high school teens, I won't know who is on staff and what the theme is. Do you see what I mean?

Maybe this all sounds prideful to everyone, because it really does sound like a case of me whining over now being "just like everyone else". Please, let me know if it is. I can take it (but do be gentle!).

I have gotten some good advice from people. Some have said that this just means I will have to make an effort to keep the close ties with my friends- I will have to actually pick up the phone and call them in order to keep in touch. We will have to have people over- and it might be nice to have just a dinner party with no meeting or business to conduct.

Another thought from someone was that maybe my husband and I can transition into hanging out with other families in the church versus all the young adults or the newly engaged/married couples (with no kids). And while this is a point, we do have a solid group of friends who are Catholic with families, so it's not like we never hang out with people "our own age". But maybe it is time to get involved more with the Knights of Columbus crowd, or the Teams of Our Lady crowd, or the YLI crowd (I had someone slip me an application recently).

Any of you who have been "youth ministers' wives" (or husbands for that matter) are probably thinking, "What the heck is wrong with you?! Rejoice, be glad, you have your husband back!" (Maybe I will write a post on the top ten reasons why I am glad NOT to be a "youth minister's wife" anymore, but for now I am leaving this post for lamenting.) God only knows why I am experiencing withdrawals from this life, but I am.

Maybe it's just what comes with change. Maybe the transition won't be as hard as I am anticipating. And heck, my husband couldn't pull himself completely away from ministry- he's still working there very part-time doing RCIA.