Friday, February 25, 2011

RAOK

More than a cup 'o Joe: Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts Of Kindness (RAOKs) can be witnessed everywhere and anywhere around my campus. I believe they are truly everywhere (not just my campus) if you have the eyes to see them. I'd like to take you back to this past Monday.


On Monday, we had a snow day. This was the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on homework, so I spent a few hours at a coffee shop near campus, first catching up with a friend and then hitting the books. While I was there, one of the employees approached the section where I was sitting and made an announcement. He told us that there was at that time a man who was outside shovelling the parking lot and the sidewalk. He had also been shovelling through the night before when people were stuck. Keep in mind....the snow was piling on more each minute, so it was getting pretty difficult to get anywhere and it was treacherous. The man was homeless, and he was shovelling through the night so that he could keep warm, but I don't doubt that he was also doing it out of the generosity of his heart. After all, there are 24/7 places open that are warm and don't require physical labor. The employee of the coffee shop then asked if any of us would be willing to pitch in a few bucks for him so that he would be able to stay at a homeless shelter for a few nights. Instantly, many people around me and I opened our wallets, empyting our spare change and dollars into the coffee shop's "tip jar". Just a few minutes later, I saw the man outside shovelling, and it all became so clear: 3 random acts of kindness had taken place before my eyes.


1. The generosity of the man who shovelled snow during a blizzard, helping individuals and the coffee shop alike

2. The kindness and compassion of the coffee shop employees to welcome this man's help and take up an offering for his well-being

3. The care of all those around me who were there merely drinking coffee/doing homework who gave their money to help a man we didn't know


I was so happy to have witnessed the random acts of kindness take place before my eyes on Monday. It really restores and reaffirms my belief in the goodness of people and our great capacity for virtue. Unfortunately, it's not every day that we are invited to be generous. Sometimes we need to ask others to be generous....of time, money, energy, prayer...the list is endless. We also need to be willing to accept the gifts of others. I was humbled today when a friend of mine told me that she and the girls who live on her floor had prayed for engaged couples a day ago, and so she was praying for me & Bill. I am always glad to be a recipient of prayers....seriously, that's the best gift ever. (Keep that in mind for my birthday coming up on March 29th....nudge nudge)


Lent is coming up, so I challenge you to think of a way in which you can :

a) Do random acts of kindness AND often

b) Invite others to be generous

c) Receive the generosity of others graciously

Thanks for reading! As always, leave me your comments and look for a new blog post soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A snowstorm...again? Okay!

Great sledding potential: The snow has been falling all day in MN!

It has been snowing and blowing literally all day! It is hard to believe how quickly the weather changed from 45 temp days with lots of sun and with folks wearing shorts & flip flops to a frozen tundra (but at least the temps are in the upper 20s, that feels nice). That is Minnesota weather for you. Personally, I am pretty happy. My school has decided to cancel classes tomorrow which is not a common occurence in the slightest. Also, I don't really have any place where I need to drive to, so I am not freaking about getting somewhere, but rather just enjoying my time by working on homework, working around my house, BLOGGING, and staying warm inside. I did venture out earlier today for Mass, brunch at the SPO Women's House and my Volunteers in Action meeting on campus. I will admit, reluctantly however, that on my way to Mass when the snow was just starting to fall, I completely wiped out. I was body down on the sidewalk. Fortunately...no injuries, but it was hilarious to me. There is a layer of ice that has now been covered in snow which is a pretty scary situation. Fortunately, if you walk in the road, it is much better. The slick parts are all the sidewalks.

Before I went to Mass this morning, I tried out a new recipe from SPARK Recipes, which is a great site of healthy recipes submitted by normal folks for Zucchini muffins to bring with me to Brunch. I imagine it is hit or miss, and in this case it was definitely a hit! I am putting the link below for those who may be interested in trying it out. Just a heads up, the recipe makes 2 dozen muffins, so half it if you just want a dozen. I'm glad I caught that or I would have had a LOT of muffins.


Recipe for VERY yummy, low-fat & calorie (88.5 calories a pop) whole wheat oat bran zucchini muffins!



Today, my MOH (Maid of Honor) Maria and I have been creating a mix of songs for the bridesmaids. Just a funky, fun mix of music. I gave her some suggestions, but she is doing the majority of compilation. I'm excited to hear what everyone thinks. We have been doing a bit of work on the guest list (that's a hard part!) and getting some packages ready for the bridesmaids to send this week. I'm going to be booking the church this week, and start looking into reception venues once we have a finalized initial guest list. I may have to put off deciding on a reception hall until I am home over Easter. I am a visual person, and it would be great for Bill and I to view the possibilities together rather than just looking at photos online.


I want to emphasize that wedding planning is certainly not the only thing Bill & I are up to when it comes to preparing for marriage. In fact, preparing for the marriage is way more important than the wedding details themselves. Today we did the first meditation of a little devotional called "The Pearl of Great Price" by Julie McCarty. It is based off the model of Lectio Divina or "divine reading". Each meditation has a scripture passage to read and reflect on separately, and then a reflection, meditation, and prayer to do together. It was written for engaged and married couples and the first reflection was a very beautiful one. To quote McCarty, "Every engaged couple has dreams for their future together. Some of these dreams will come to pass, and others may not." The scripture used for this reflection is from the first chapter of Luke which narrates the Annunciation, Visitation, and birth of Christ. The reflection goes on to examine the expectations of the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph particularly as they prepared for their marriage. They most likely had very different expectations than what the Lord was planning for their lives. Yet...they were willing to drop these desires because their biggest desire was to fulfill the will of God the Father. Oh, how I really do long to wrecklessly abandon myself to God in each and every decision of my life. I pray that God might give me the grace to do so more and more each day. I pray for...humility.
I think for tonight the spirit has prompted me to close with a prayer about the virtue that often gets a bad rap: humility. It shows us the greatness of being meek and pure of heart. If you'd like to listen to this as a song, check out Danielle Rose's "Litany of Humility" on youtube or buy it on iTunes. You won't regret it....it is beautiful!
Litany of Humility
Written by: Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val,
Secretary of State for Pope Pius X
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled...
From the desire of being honored...
From the desire of being praised...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted...
From the desire of being approved...
From the fear of being humiliated...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes...
From the fear of being calumniated...
From the fear of being forgotten...
From the fear of being ridiculed...
From the fear of being wronged...
From the fear of being suspected...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I...
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease...
That others may be chosen and I set aside...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that
I may become as holy as I should...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feminine Genius

Today I went to a fascinating event called "A Divided Life" given by Dr. Deborah Savage at a Faith & Work breakfast downtown at St. Olaf's Church. You can go to this link to see future speakers and sign-up for a breakfast in the coming months: http://saintolaf.org/events-and-programs/faith-work-series/faith-work-speakers/

Dr. Savage is a professor at the St. Paul School of Divinity and teaches philosophy and theology courses. She is the mother of one adopted daughter, has worked in the corporate world for 25 years, and earned her doctorate studying the nature of faith and work. She had a lot of fantastic points about women's work, the feminine genius, and what our approach ought to be to work.

Although she said a lot, instead of completely just typing up my notes (which I am prone to do at times!), I would rather like to bring three points out specifically that really struck me, and then ask for your comments!

-The feminine genius is necessary in all realms of society.
-Work includes a much broader scope than we think and can help us transcend ourselves.
-The value and dignity of work is not based on the object of the work, but rather of the dignity of the person doing it.

JPII refers to the feminine genius in many of his exhortations pertaining to women and the language of the body. Women are distinct, essential, irrepeatable. Women have a unique contribution to make that needs to be present in the courtroom, the home, the Church, the classroom, the business, the enterprise, the senate, and the list goes on... Each woman is called to do work, and to make her contribution as a woman. Women bring something different, but completely equal to the table as men do, whether that is a broader vision, a care for detail, care for the significance of relationships, and you can probably think of so many more aspects of femininity that can manifest themselves as gift for the good of all of society.
To quote from the Compendium of the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church:
"The feminine genius is needed in all aspects of society and therefore the presence of women in the workplace must be guaranteed."

Dr. Savage insisted that we have a way too narrow definition of work. It includes those things that we do for pay, those we don't, when we volunteer, when we mow the lawn, when we nurse a baby, when we take out the trash, when we write a letter to a friend, etc. The question to ask is: What can I turn to with my whole heart?

Savage quoted from a Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World by Linda R. Hirshman. In her book, Hirshman calls stay at home mothers "parasites" that feed off their husbands to support them as they choose to withhold their talents to stay in the home....this could be nothing further from the truth! I blogged back in 2008 about stay at home mothers and how much I admire women who choose to devote their lives to this. Certainly, it is not the only admirable calling, but staying at home is a critical type of work that need not be undermined.

Work ought to cause us to transcend ourselves, which means to go beyond our own abilities with the help of God. Gaudium et Spes says, "Man finds himself through a sincere gift of self." A "gift of self" which George Weigel calls "the law of the gift" is the antidote to the effects of original sin.

To quote Dr. Savage, "When I am united to another person, I am enhanced by my bein in interaction with that person."

Finally, the dignity of our work comes from our personal dignity, not just from the work itself. How can it? Physical things, corporations, even institutions do not have inherant dignity, but rather, it is the persons within them that bring dignity to those places and organizations. Thus, the dignity of work coincides with dignity of the person.

Some questions that remain:

Dr. Savage mentioned that even if a woman has a job and has a family, she will always have to work to achieve balance, and sacrifices will have to be made, at times, favoring one over the other. In those cases, what is the appropriate balance? What does that look like realistically/practically?

What are some examples from your life that illustrate the "feminine genius" either of yourself or of women you know?

Finally, I'd like to challenge some of my male followers to make comments or if you have a blog to make a blog posting on the "male genius" because I know that there is one, and I think women can only authentically realize our genius by an awareness of our complementarity to the male genius.

Well I am going to go eat my delicious (I hope!) lasagna that I just cooked up (new recipe taken from the recent Martha Stewart Living magazine...it has chicken summer sausage, chard, lemons, and lots of parmesan in it....can't wait to taste it! Yum....

John Paul II the great, pray for us! St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How sweet it is, to wear your ring!

Living our love song: Bill proposed this weekend and I said "Yes"

Hello friends! I would have blogged sooner, but due to the developments of last weekend and the homework I have been catching up on in the meantime, I have been keeping rather busy. Friday will mark a week since I said yes to my (now) fiance Bill's proposal to marry him and spend life together. I have had many people ask me to post our engagement story, so here goes:


Last Friday, February 11th was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the patronesses of my relationship with Bill, and has been before we even began dating. Back when we first started expressing interest in each other as more than just friends, I entrusted our feelings and hearts to Our Lady on my way back to school (I was driving through South Bend, IN) at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at the University of Notre Dame. I lit a candle in the grotto, and left it to her to do the rest. Since that point, she has not failed us in her constant intercession for Bill & me.


Bill told me that he would be "busy at the library" all day Friday with a daunting group project. I managed to convince him that we could at least pray the rosary at some point during the day...so he came up with praying at 7:30 am (my time), 8:30 am (his time). We don't normally talk that early, but no worries, we decided to go for it. So he, his roommate Bryan, and I prayed (I was on speaker phone) as he was in the car back from going to mass in Florida. We then said goodbye and I headed to class. What a sweet guy!


Little did I know...as I went to class, did homework, did some shopping, went to noon mass and did my daily activities, Bill was travelling across the country from FL all the way to my school in MN. I'll come back to this in a second.


Maria and I had a "Girl's Night" planned for the evening and a dinner reservation for 8 pm at a restaurant in a fun, trendy part of town. She had suggested that we use a gift certificate she had for dinner, nearly a month earlier, so I had put it on my calendar. So, I get home from my Interns meeting with my Catholic Studies Department and we both start getting ready for the evening. I try to dress nicely, put some make-up on, but I'm not suuuper fancy or anything. Just ready to have some fun! I even suggested that we maybe go see a movie at the theatre afterwards, Maria suggested that maybe we ought to rent one instead. Meghan, another fantastic friend of mine, had asked to borrow my car for the evening. She needed to go to "an orchestra concert" which is fairly common since she is a music major.


Anyways, Maria drives us to the restaurant since I did not have my car, and we get there in plenty of time. We walk from the parking lot to the restaurant, walk inside, and standing there, in plain view and dressed very handsomely is none other than my love Bill giving me a beaming smile. Right away, I am in shock. Why is he here? Is that really him? Wait, what is this? What's he doing here? But I go in for a hug and say his name.


At that point I look over at Maria, and say something to the extent of: "So this was all a set-up? Oh my gosh!"...and Maria wishes us a pleasant evening with a equally large smile as she has truly pulled off her part of the plan.


Bill & I had a spectacular dinner. He got mac & cheese and I got an unlimited Fish fry dinner. I am DEFINITELY going to have to come back here for Lent...it was fantastic. I hadn't seen Bill for a couple of weeks by then, and was just so happy to be able to hold his hand and catch up. We obviously talk often, but there are some things that are easier and even more fun to discuss in each other's company. I was nervous the whole dinner though...I knew tonight might be "the night" and I was really hoping that his plan was not to propose to me at the restaurant. He's a good man...that wasn't his plan at all, I should have just trusted, haha!


We finish dinner, and we walk to the parking garage where he has parked my car (remember Meghan borrowing the car, yeah that was a fib) and we drive back to St. Thomas. He asked me if I would like to take a walk. The temperature had gone up since earlier in the week, so with 30s weather, I said, "Sure, why not?". Although, I thought I needed a warmer coat and I needed to use the restroom. So I went to go use the restroom on campus, running into two friends, Megan and Logan, who both gave me hugs. They were waiting for a ride to their evening's activities. I went to go use the restroom and then joined Bill in the car again. He asked if I could perhaps wait and not get the warmer coat. I said that was fine.


So we parked on my street, and Bill and I went for a walk. He walked me behind the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas to the statue of Our Lady of Victory. From the distance, I could see there was a heart of candles that had been set up underneath Our Lady. I commented how beautiful they were, only then realizing that they had been placed there for us.


Bill asked if I would pray a "Hail Mary" with him, and so we did together. Then he reminded me of how much he loved me, knelt down on one knee and proposed to me in the snow, taking my breath away by the beauty of the ring he offered me and the vulnerability of that moment. I didn't keep him in suspense too long as I said "Yes" in a confident, but slightly nervous, excited voice! We hugged and kissed and thanked Mary for bringing us both to this point in our relationship. Bill and I want to continue to place Christ at the center of our lives together, and imitate the love that Our Lord has for each one of us. It is only through this love that we can share in the joys of Christ. So, we couldn't think of a better way to thank Jesus for our evening than by honoring His Mother.


We walked back to my place where Maria and Meghan were waiting for us with champagne and appetizers (and balloons!). The festivities continued the next day with an engagement party with even more friends with a full dinner.


We both want to thank everyone for the encouragement and prayers that we have been receiving this past week and the many, many hugs and "Can I see your ring?"s (Well mostly I'm asked that, not Bill...haha) from all of our friends.


Bill and I plan to marry in the Fall of 2012, although we are not sure about the particular date as of now. I am just so humbled by the way that this proposal was a way in which Bill showed his vulnerability to me (aka proposing a life together in the most perfect way), so I want to reflect for a minute on vulnerability.


I want to end with a quote from C.S. Lewis:


"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredemable." -C.S. Lewis


Love requires vulnerability. Friendships require it, relationships require it, our faith requires it. Vulnerability reminds us that we are humans, God is God, so we must surrender our hearts and our lives which are not our own. Leave me comments about a time in your life that you loved so much it hurt, loved so much it left you vulnerable. Whether it turned out well or poorly, what does this love seem to point towards?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wounded hearts seek healing

Our hearts are truly made whole in Christ

Last night I was sitting in Mass, listening to a terrific St. Thomas priest give a homily on the day's readings. If you didn't get a chance to read them, go on ahead:



Yesterday's gospel dealt with Jesus' teaching about the sin we commit coming from inside ourselves, not from some exterior person or thing. Sure, temptations are aplenty in the world around us, but when we sin, we choose with our hearts to do something that is contrary to the purpose God made us for. (To glorify him and love our neighbor) And, this priest said correctly, we humans are capable of some really nasty, wicked things. We need think no further than the front pages of the newspaper to know that is true coupled with the sin we each battle on a daily basis. But the next part is what really grabbed me. As Christians, we can sometimes be overcome with a feeling that "I am a good person, I'm a Christian after all". But we forget that any good that we do is completely by the grace of God and that the only difference that separates us in any way from another is that we have identified our hearts as wounded and have asked the Lord, the divine Physician to heal us. We are wounded hearts seeking healing, no more, no less. We have no reason to be proud, overbearing, vain, conceited, or hotheaded because of our relationship with the Lord. Rather, we must have the strength in humility and love for Christ to share the little we do have with our brothers and sisters. What a fantastic homily, it has given me lots to reflect upon and I wanted to share it for those of you who weren't able to make it to community night.


In other news, I am doing a health/fitness challenge called "Minnesota's Biggest Loser". It is a really neat program and you can learn about it/sign-up at http://www.competeforhealth.org/. Basically, you sign-up as a team (or individual) and track your nutrition choices, weight lost, and exercise completed. Then the computer calculates these variables to add up to a particular number of "pounds" lost. For each pound lost, this organization will donate a pound of food to a local foodshelf. Way cool! This is, perhaps, the easiest service project I have every been a part of and I am thankful that my neighbor and friend Amy told me about this fantastic opportunity. It will last for 12 weeks (through April 15th) and it is not too late to join. Note: You must live in Minnesota to be a part of this challenge. Sorry out-of-staters!!
I am looking forward to this upcoming weekend. Weekends full of friends, studying, cooking/grocery shopping are the best! :-) I'm also looking forward to next Monday night's Valentine's Day party which will include going to an amazing sushi/steakhouse, a movie night (chick flick!!!), making V-day cards, and eating yummy frozen yogurt...bring on the festivities!!
I would love to get comments from those of you who are reading my blog. I realize that I have just started, but it helps me to know if anyone has suggestions for something I ought to write on or any tips about formatting from those of you who have been blogging for much longer than I have.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Faith, hope, charity= confidence


A gem of a book: Based on the spirituality of the Little Flower
I just began reading a book that came highly recommended to me: "I believe in Love" by Father Jean C.J. d'Elbee. It seems as though everyone has been talking about it. It is written as a sort of at-home retreat for personal reflection by laypeople based on the spirituality of the Little Flower, St. Terese of Lisieux. I am 2 chapters in, and I was struck by a particular passage in "Conference 2: Humble Confidence".


"The word, confidence, summarizes the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity- sovereign virtues which bring all the others in their train. But if these are the highest virtues, then the greatest heroism is demanded of us in order to realize them in the face of the mystery of a 'hidden God'. "(25)


He goes on to write:


"A man must be heroic to live always in faith, hope, and love. Why? Because, as a result of Original Sin, no one can be certain with the certainty of faith that he is saved, but only with a moral certainty based upon fidelity to grace; and because as sinners we are constantly tempted by doubt and anxiety." (25)


Wow...isn't this just the crux of our faith? When it is most difficult, we are especially called to remain confident in faith, hope, and charity that God has endowed us with the theological virtues and that His grace and our resolve to live in that grace. We must always be ready to repent of our sins and believe He has reserved a place for us in Heaven. The author seems to be saying that Original Sin causes us to hesitate in our faith, and yet, we must have faith anyways or risk falling into the traps of doubt and anxiety. Doubt and anxiety are not of God, but from the devil.

Let's take a look at what the Catechism says about the theological virtues:

"The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being." (1813)

Let us not forget that we have the theological virtues beginning at the time of our baptism. Pay attention particularly to "They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit...". Although God is a "hidden God", we can trust that He is present, especially in the person of the Holy Spirit in our capacity to manifest the theological virtues.

And now for a quick summary of each theological virtue taken again from the Catechism. This is helpful for me too as it is so easy to get caught up in the secular definition of each of these words that we use on a daily basis:

"Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself..." (1814)

"Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit..." (1817)

"Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God." (1822)



So yes, this new idea of confidence is a good way of understanding how the three theological virtues are combined so that we can strive for sanctity following His way and His will for our lives.

Here are some questions for you:

Do you agree that "confidence" is an adequate way to describe the unity of the theological virtues? Can they accurately be combined this way?

Is there a hierarchy to the theological virtues? Is charity more important than hope? Is faith more important than charity? Is hope more important than faith?

Which theological virtue is hardest for you? Easiest?

Last semester I received a sort of "Spiritual Evaluation" to examine which theological virtue(s) are strengths or weaknesses for a particular person. Most often, one particular theological virtue comes most easily. Personally, I tend towards charity, and I struggle most with hope. I will try and post this later today as it can be a very powerful tool for journaling and reflection. Obviously, it is important that we endeavor to be strong in all these virtues, however, I advise you to "know thy self" so that you can be fruitful in your efforts to embrace these God-given virtues.

Friends, we are all called to heroism in virtue. Let us allow God to give us the determination and strength to manifest a confidence in faith, hope, and charity with a profound humility of spirit. May we never tire of this journey, but rather, rejoice in every new opportunity to serve Him without reserve in light of our particular calling and vocation. Amen.

St. Terese of Lisieux, pray for us!

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Immaculate Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Until next time...

**Update** As promised, here is the Spiritual Evaluation on the theological virtues

The point of this exercise: to grow in self-knowledge in order to understand both what is a strength and what a weakness for the sake of clear-headed leadership

Faith

Do I easily get distracted from the most important unseen things by the immediate seen ones?

Do I tend to evaluate people and events around me according to a this-worldly judgment?

Do I tend to slide into the categories of success used by this world rather than by Christ?

Am I easily influenced by others who have not faith in my various environments, so that I begin to take on their way of thinking and acting?

Do I tend to greed, to storing things up, to delighting in having stuff, to wanting to be wealthy and secure and have nice things?

Sign of a lack: anxiety; easily distracted and tempted by things of the world

Hope

Do I find myself discouraged by setbacks, and tempted to give up?

Do I have a difficult time, remembering, or believing, the truth that I am in the thought of God, who has decided on extraordinary plans for me? Do I resist others encouraging me in this?

Do I tend to be anxious and nervous about the state of the world, or the Church, or the country, or my life?

Do I find it difficult to put off gratification or fulfillment of the present for a future good?

Do I battle to maintain fundamental joy in life?

Sign of a lack: sadness

Charity

Do I find it difficult to engage myself in matters that don't immediately touch on my interests?

Do I pay great attention to how my leadership or my performance is judged? Does praise make me soar and criticism make me sour?

Do I tend to envy others' accomplishments and praise, or become jealous of their gifts and their attentions? Do I find myself disliking certain people for no real reason except that they make me feel lessened somehow?

Am I easily offended, am I made angry when people don't pay me the respect I think I deserve?

Do I bargain with God, and find myself totaling up the things I have done for Him or given up in his service, so as to hold Him to it and demand something in return? (Peter and his question to Jesus)

Sign of a lack: anger/apathy

Monday, February 7, 2011

News, Scones, and a New Semester!!

Razzleberry scones: These raspberry white chocolate low-fat scones are to DIE for!!! Recipe ahead








Winter lovin'
: My boyfriend Bill & I in Florida over Christmas break. We took this after a nice long walk around his dad's neighborhood.


Hey folks! It has been just about 3 years (I'm sad to admit) since my last posting, but I have decided to revisit my blog and make it new and improved. My goal is to post at least every other day, even if it is just a short thought, story, prayer, recipe, or other tidbit. A lot has happened since I last wrote.

Here's a short update:



I am now in my last semester at the University of St. Thomas. I will be graduating in May with a Bachelor of Arts (Political science major, Spanish & Catholic Studies minors). I am loving living in a house this year with one of my best friends, Maria. We have a huge kitchen and lots of good space so I have been making lots of recipes and enjoying the quiet away from noisy dorm life (even though that was a blast too). I am taking 3 classes this semester: Intro to Art History, Europe & the Church, and a Senior Seminar in Judicial Politics. So far, I'm just about a week in, but they are all going to be great classes and without a doubt I will learn a lot. I will also have a few things keeping me busy as well this semester: Volunteers in Action (VIA), editing "The Signature" newsletter, and planning a service day for April. In addition, I have all sorts of hobbies, books to read, recipes to try...so there is rarely a dull moment! I have also made a commitment to go to daily mass again, so I am trying to stay on top of that and really savor my moments with Our Lord.



Another big piece of news: I have a job! I will be returning to Indiana in June to begin a management position with a major retailer. I will have several months of training and then will start my position around August/September. It is a huge blessing to know I have a job and will be working this far out before graduation.



Also for about 13 months I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man named Bill who is from Indiana like me. (We went to high school together) However, right now he is also in college, but in Florida, so we are long distance. I will be giving some updates/stories on what it's like to be in a long distance relationship as well as some tips for those of you who may be in long distance relationships yourselves (many people are for at least some point of their lives...). Above is a picture of the two of us from our trip to FL over the holidays when I got to meet Bill's dad and spend some cold, breezy days at the beach.


Tonight, I tried a little experiment. You see, I absolutely LOVE the raspberry-white chocolate scones that the little local coffee shop sells. They are to die for! So, I have been on a recipe binge lately and have been trying to eat more healthfully, more local, and a lot less prepared foods. Long story, but I used to be a vegetarian (for 9 years!). Although I am not one anymore, I'll explain that in another post, I still try to eat a lot of veggies, beans, whole grains, fruits, etc.

Anyways, I used a recipe that I found online which was taken from an old "Cooking Light" magazine, modified it significantly and it was a grand success!


Heart healthy raspberry/white chocolate scones
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 2 tbsp reserved)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar (plus 2 tbsp reserved)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp rock salt/sea salt

3 tbsp butter (or buttery spread)

2/3 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk made by Silk and available at most stores)

1 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

1 egg white

3 pieces of Ghiardelli white chocolate, crumbled (you can buy one large bar in the baking aisle)

1/2 cup raspberries (I used frozen)



1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.



2. Mix together dry ingredients (flours, powders, and salt) in one bowl and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter.



3. In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. (egg, vanilla, milk)

4. Mix two bowls' contents together until just mixed. Fold in raspberries and white chocolate.



5. Flour a sheet of waxed paper and form a circle of dough on the sheet. Sprinkle reserved flour on top of circle.

6. Cut into 8 wedges and brush egg whites onto the top of each scone. Sprinkle reserved sugar on scones.

7. Bake on a non-stick or aluminum foil covered baking sheet for approximately 20 minutes or until the bottom of the scones are golden brown.



8. Cool on cooling racks and ENJOY!!! Best enjoyed fresh. :-)


In light of the recent events and unrest in Egypt, I would like to offer a prayer for peace of heart and mind from a little book I have called "The Armor of God" by Fulton J. Sheen.


O God, from whom are holy desires, right counsels, and just works; give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be disposed to obey Thy commandments, and the fear of enemies being removed, our times, by Thy protection, may be peaceful.

Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, for ever and ever. Amen.


St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!


Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!