Odds and ends

I need to find my inner calm again – God. I feel like I have been inundated with blessings lately, and yet I cannot seem to view them transparently as I did. Recently I have felt so busy in my prayers, and I don’t like it…there is too much of “me” everywhere. I guess I just need to find a place that is quiet and let my thoughts go – but my world is a world of noise. If I try going to daily Mass and staying afterwards, there are either people talking…or the Church is being cleaned and vacuumed. Or I am at home, and my room is hot…and everywhere else is noisy. And right now, if I stay outside for long, I get eaten by bugs. Sigh…I must know that the Father gives me difficulties for my greatest good.

This past week we have done a lot of cleaning. I have tackled several projects myself, as well as helping with the main areas of the house. Since it is the week of the County Fair (the 28th – 3rd), there are fewer people around to make a mess as you are cleaning. It is quite nice to view a completed project in a reasonable amount of time. 🙂

I have also done a good amount of reading – I am almost finished with “Love and Responsibility”.  It is awesome to realize in a deeper way how much love and the order of nature is perfectly integrated in each person. It gives me a deeper longing to be a genuine personality, to be part of a perfect society, to discover more and more that everything comes from God, and we can return our entire selves and all with us to Him because we love Him. I highly recommend this book to older teens on up.

The weekend was beautiful. The weather was very nice, and I spent a relaxing day on Sunday with my family. I was so glad to finally have a Sunday that I did not have to go anywhere (except Holy Mass, of course)!

Last night I got my hair cut. It was getting too long, and was difficult to handle; and I decided that as long as I was going to cut it, I might as well donate it to Locks of Love. It feels quite strange – and it is amazing that even though my hair is fine, it still had considerable weight. In case you are wondering how much I cut off, here are pictures: before & after.

Two days until my sister comes to visit; two weeks and two days until I am done working; three weeks and two days and I will be in San Diego. Some moments I wish it was here already…some moments I think I am crazy…and some moments I don’t know how I will do it. The craziest things are getting to me – for example, I am not sure how I am going to cook. I only know how to make sandwhiches and large meals! Cooking the way I know how, one meal would last me well over a week. Packing is looking very daunting right now – knowing and deciding what I need to bring, along with balancing the things I want to bring. I am very tempted to bring a lot of sweaters, because to me, winter = cold. It will all work out somehow…and it will be a learning experience, no doubt.

As a last side note for this post, I added a new page for requests. Please feel free to leave me comments. 🙂

Prayer for purity that Fr. Kentenich wrote in his youth:

Hail Mary, for the sake of your purity, keep me pure in body and soul. Open wide to me your heart and the heart of your Son. Implore for me deep self knowledge and the grace to persevere until death. Give me souls, keep all else for yourself. Amen.

Life, people, time

The summer is almost over, and our county fair will be next week. Last week there was the usual scurrying to finish 4-H projects, and this coming week they will start getting the animals ready. Anna took a shawl that she knitted, Christopher took a napkin holder that he made for woodworking, and will also be taking some plants. Peter & Simon are taking calves, and Anna & Christopher are taking chickens. I haven’t decided yet if I will go to the fair or not, but perhaps I will go with my older sister. We’ll see.

We have found much entertainment on youtube.com lately! We find old songs, classic songs, country songs, and even a few different videos such as yodeling and this cartoon . A few evenings have been spent sitting around the computer with me searching for everyone’s requests…it is quite fun. The only problem is watching out for inappropriate content. :p [Edit: Don’t follow any links to videos that you don’t know what they are about – especially around children. My siblings are not internet saavy, they do not know how to get onto the site…and either my Dad or I am in control of the computer whenever we are on there. Most of the videos we watch I have seen reviews of on blogs, etc. or are well known songs. Sometimes I just let a song play and hide the actual video, if I don’t know the video content. There is lots of junk on there, don’t let it ruin innocent fun. :)]

Recently, David (4) has greeted me each day when I come home with either “Hi Lisa! I haven’t seeeeen you yet today.” or “How many people did you meet today?” – usually, the latter. We have no idea why he came up with the second question, and it took me by surprise the first few times. It is interesting to think about, though. How many people do I meet each day? Often times, more than I can keep track of off hand. He doesn’t really care about the number, but still persists in asking the question – and I find amusement in his attempts at conversation. 😀

It has been quite awhile since I posted any anecdotes about home and family. Part of the reason, I suppose, is because I have been gone and working so much…and my siblings busy or outside because of summer. 🙂 Yet, I must savor and record moments from these days before I leave, because there is no turning back in the pages of life. Each moment passes, each day, each week, each year; never to come again. It still seems strange that my childhood is gone, my family is getting older, and soon I will have a new chapter to write in my own life.

If I was to write a song about my life, the refrain would be “Time keeps marching on…it never stops to wait…yet love and joy grow strong…through paths both curved and straight. My heart sighs for the past…the future calls me too…time still goes so by fast…God, let me live today for You.”

Never change

Once in awhile, a small comment I receive keeps my thoughts occupied for a long time. I received one such comment today. Someone at work told me “you always look so elegant…don’t change. Some homeschoolers, after they graduate, think that they have to change and ‘get with the times’. Never change.” Although I may not always wear the same clothes, do my hair the same way, have the youthful appearance that I have now, I think there is a deeper point.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that (paraphrasing) “when you meet someone after many years and they say, ‘my, how you have changed!’ – there is something that remains the same. If there was not, they would not recognize you at all.” That something that remains the same, is the core of the personality that God has given each of us as humans. Father Kentenich often admonished us to “remain genuine”.

This is not to say that we can not grow and mature. We just have the task to always remain genuine to the person that God created us to be! It is so easy to get caught up in following the crowd…and then we lose God – and in losing God, we lose ourselves. The best way to find ourselves is to find God. If we ask and listen, He will show us the proper expression of our personality. Although it may not always be pleasant, we will have the “pendulum security” (another expression of Fr. Kentenich) of being held firm even as life swings us from one extreme to the other.

Lately I have often been wondering how the impressions of California will affect me. I am trying to not only prepare physically for leaving, but also prepare spiritually. I believe that I have a strong personality, and God has blessed me with many graces…but how do I prepare for the unknown, prepare for the temptations, sorrow, sacrifices and dicipline that will be necessary? I have only lived with my family, and for as long as I remember, I have lived in semi-rural areas. I have only had to live with other people for limited amounts of time (retreats, camps, pilgrimage, etc.).  If I don’t want to encounter certain people and/or situations, it is simple – I minimize my contact with them! Although I see them sometimes, there is always plenty to do at home and with family. I have been blessed with the opportunity to avoid much of the “junk” that assails the average person.

Although I generally do not have to deal with popular culture on a daily basis, I often feel the many effects of societies sinful undercurrent. My family is not perfect by any account, and is not untouched by worldly ideas. My circumstances are not picture perfect, the people I associate with are not all saints. Very few people I know share my ideals; some ignore them, some scoff at them, some are indifferent. But somehow our Blessed Mother has chosen me for herself, has protected me, and has formed me past anything I can take credit for. In this I find confidence that everything will turn out fine…I will never change…I will remain genuine.

A tired mind

that loves to write. So many people to talk to, so many things to think about, so many things to do…and a body that doesn’t want to keep up. As a result, this post will basically be random thoughts, strung together with a smile. 😀

Thank you for your prayers. Andrea is a young woman whose blog I read on occasion ; she was pregnant and went into labor on Friday morning. The baby was not turning as quickly as the doctor liked, but everything turned out fine. Please continue to pray for them as they regain strength.

 Work has been very busy lately. This past week we got an excessive amount of merchandise in, and so pricing and trying to find room to store it has taken up a lot of time. We got so much, in fact, that they asked me to come in for extra hours – they were even willing to pay me several hours of overtime. I am happy about the larger paycheck I will be receiving, but I am tired after working every day this week. It isn’t so much the number of hours that I work, but rather the lack of a day to relax and catch up. I guess that is just one little sacrifice I must make.

Right now I am reading “The Spirit of the Liturgy”, written by (now) Pope Benedict XVI. It is easy to read and makes you think. I think I will get through it quickly. Hopefully I can get “Love and Responsibility” back from the library this week, and finish that as well.

I have a bit of writing to do. I need to finish at least 2 letters and an article this week (self imposed deadlines). I also need to attempt to organize a meeting. And finish sending out invitations to my farewell party. And work on Christmas presents. And play with my siblings. And start to pack up the things to leave home. And finish some sewing/mending. And… well, perhaps I should stop. 🙂

This week, I was excited to figure out that Vince Lombardi was Catholic! I never really knew much about him – only the facts that he was a Packer coach and considered to be a very good one. Last week while I was pricing some books of quotes from him (at work), I flipped through the pages and a few quotes caught my eye. One mentioned “the Church” and was said in a way that I suspected that the Catholic Church was implied! My interest was piqued, and so I searched for information on the internet…I think that perhaps I will use his example to demonstrate responsibility and leadership in an article at some point. I still have to do a little more research and thinking, but I am impressed with his wisdom.

Please pray for me as I prepare to go to California. I want to prepare not only physically, but also spiritually. Sometimes I am scared when I think how easily I get stressed out here at home – I don’t know how I will handle it there! – but know I must place my faith in God and have perfect trust that everything will work out. I can’t decide which thoughts are in the front or back of my mind, but one says that I will do fine because I adapt well, and the other makes me think that I am a nieve little country girl, about to be horrified by city life. :p I guess only time will tell.

I have so much to say, but I think that most will have to be saved for private conversations. There is too much of an abundance of thoughts and feelings to bother the general public with…so I will close with the Compline prayer from the “Schoenstatt Office”.

Silent and tired, the sun now goes to rest and Sion smiles on us from afar.

Your dying was an ecstacy of purest longing:
your body never knew corruption.
You reign now transfigured in the “Holy City,”
on Sion, which God has opened to you.

Through the shrine you constantly direct us upwards
to the eternal Schoenstatt where we will one day praise God.
You show us the transitoriness of the earthly world
until you have led us to things eternal.

Teach me to live each day so that my dying
becomes easy, as befits an heir of heaven.
Teach me to judge myself each night in such a way
that after death I may see you and God.

Glory be joyfully given to the Father
through Christ with Mary, highly praised,
in the Holy Spirit full of splendor
from the universe now and in all eternity. Amen.

A glimpse

This past weekend I was at Schoenstatt. Thank you to all who prayed for me. 🙂 Our Shrine is a prominent, vital part of Schoenstatt; without the Shrine, Schoenstatt would not exist. This is the meditation that I wrote for this weekend about “what the Shrine means to me”. If you have any questions about what I wrote (including terminology) please let me know and I will explain to the best of my ability. 😀 I wish to give a slight glimpse of the greatness of Schoenstatt through sharing my experience.
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What does the Shrine mean to me? Words are so inadequate for me to really explain and communicate its greatness. In the same way that I am not able to explain the sun, air, universe, or our souls – each vitally important to our lives – so in attempting to share what the shrine means to me, I can only use a few feeble words  that still do not grasp its full meaning and the dearness in my heart.

First of all, it is my home. It is the place where I can let my soul relax and unwind. “Home” is the familiar place where we encounter those we love; and yet it is more than that. It is a place where the heart can rest, it is where we are formed, it is where the roots of our family and the roots of our character grow. I did not always realize how much of my home the shrine was. One evening a couple of months ago, when I came out to the International Center for a meeting, I was unable to come early and visit the MTA in the shrine like I normally do. After the meeting, it was late and the shrine was locked. It was kind of like going home, only to find the house locked and with no key. I think that God deprived me of the comfort of that visit, so that I would appreciate the gift of the shrine as my home so much more. I cannot forget that evening of not being able to stop in the shrine, and now I always try to adjust my schedule to include a visit, and if that is impossible, I am sure to make a spiritual visit. I have also taken great comfort in the Schoenstatt Chaplet through which I implore the three graces of the shrine.

It is a place of encounter with our Mother Thrice Admirable, my Covenant partner, my Mama. When I look into her eyes and the eyes of her Son and feel their presence around me, I am so thankful for this little piece of heaven that refreshes my everyday life. The shrine here in Waukesha holds an especially dear place in my heart because this is where I made both my Acceptance and Blank Check Dedications. It is here that I promised to remain faithful as a leader; it is here that I promised to never desert the banner of our Ver Sacrum Patris Youth; it is here that I have promised so many times to give myself entirely to the MTA and requested that she use me as an instrument for the renewal of the Church.

It is a place of encounter with our Founder. In the shrines here in our Exile land, there is the special grace of walking in Fr. Kentenich’s footsteps, kneeling where he knelt, and being in the place where our Mother and Queen showered him with so much love and joy.

I have often wondered what has made me so different from others … of course, everyone has a unique personality, but I believe that the Father and our MTA formed me in a special way through drawing me to the shrine. It has been my refuge, a place to let my heart cry and put my troubles in our Mother’s hands; as well as a place to rejoice and let my heart sing. Many struggles have been gone through – and although I may not get answers as quickly as I desire, I gain strength, patience, and joy from our little shrine.

Many people have told me that I have a beautiful smile; a great joy for me is putting a smile on someone else’s face just by simply smiling at them. Archbishop Dolan has admired the joy of Schoenstatt – it is a universal joy that I think really cannot be explained except in understanding what Father Kentenich called “the divine smile and the human cry”. We have the confidence of knowing that nothing can happen without the consent of the Father, and nothing happens that will not turn out for the greatest good. Even in our human brokenness – or perhaps even because of our human brokenness! – we find the joy of resting in the Father’s loving will. This gives us the royal carefreeness that has come to characterize a member of Schoenstatt. The shrine is where we receive the grace to live this heroic simplicity; it is the place where we receive our education and formation from our Mother Thrice Admirable.

Through the shrine, I have come to understand more of the mission of Schoenstatt, and received the strength to live my ideals more perfectly. It is one thing to learn, another to understand and yet another to live. Last year Fr. Mark Niehaus explained Schoenstatt as a triangle: the points of the triangle are our three “contact points”, our head, heart, and home. Inside the triangle is the life of the Covenant – that is Schoenstatt. It would be as impossible for Schoenstatt to exist without the shrine as it would be to exist without our MTA or founder. It is my striving to grow ever closer in contact to “our Flames” through the shrine; so that the life of Schoenstatt in me may become more and more of a reality.

Busy and blessed

I have been so busy and blessed! I have worked, spent over half of a day at Schoenstatt, gone to a few picnics, watched the preview for our new show (at Fireside), got a few things organized, sent in the final loan application for school, read, and last but not least…had many good conversations. I am so blessed to be used as an instrument in so many little ways to help in “building up” Schoenstatt. It is awesome to think about the power of prayer, little sacrifices, and small conversations.

Today I work, and then will be going out to Schoenstatt again for the weekend. We are having our yearly girls youth leaders convention, where we have some formation time and then choose our motto to use for retreats, camps, and meetings for the year. Please pray for me, as I am one of the “head” leaders in the area and so have to lead many of the discussions. It is kind of fun, but quite challenging.

Several things I have read recently have been on love. I find it very fascinating…I don’t know how people can separate (or try to separate) love from God, it makes so much more sense when it is ordered and thought about from that view. Right now I am reading John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility”. It was hard to get through the first definitions, as I am not used to reading philosophy – but I have found the book to be very enlightening. It has presented a different way of thinking about love to me, not because of different content, but because of the difference in the way the thoughts are presented. I highly recommend the book to older highschool youth and all adults. 😀 It just might take a little work to get past the first part.

And now I must go to work – but I would like to share this list/article of what “Maturity is.” This was published in my homeschool yearbook from 9th grade (I used a program that year). I have used it as a guide and means of education; I think there is a great lack of maturity in both our youth and all adults, and we need to recognize the need to become mature, especially if we expect to grow closer to Christ. “When I was a child…when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Cor. 13:11)

Maturity is the ability to handle frustration, control anger, and settle differences without violence or destruction.

Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to postpone gratification, to pass up immediate pleasure or profit in favor of the long term gain.

Maturity is perseverance, sweating out a project or situation in spite of opposition and discouraging setbacks.

Maturity is unselfishness, responding to the needs of others.

Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and disappointment without becoming bitter.

Maturity is the gift of remaining calm in the face of chaos. This means peace, not only for ourselves, but for those with whom we live and those whose lives touch ours.

Maturity is the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Maturity is humility. A mature person is able to say, “I was wrong.” He is also able to say, “I am sorry.” And when proven right, he does not have to day, “I told you so.”

Maturity is the ability to make a decision, to act on that decision, and to accept full responsibility for the outcome.

Maturity means dependability, keeping one’s word. The immature have excuses for everything. They are the chronically tardy, the no-shows, the gutless wonders who fold in their crises. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, unfinished business, and former friends.

Maturity is the ability to live in peace with that which we can not change.