Friday, May 29, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XIII)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.  

The Josh Duggar Scandal.

I was traveling last week, so I didn't hear about the Josh Duggar abuse scandal until after the story broke.  Elizabeth Esther summarizes a wonderful response.  What he did was a crime.  Yes, he was a juvenile at the time, but it was punishable by LAW.  This is not something to be handled by parents or a family friend who subjects the offender to manual labor.  This is not something to be "forgiven and forgotten."  This is a dangerous behavior that is not just cured by a prayer.  It is high time that the Christian community call a spade a spade.  I was so disappointed that some whom I admire defended Josh Duggar's actions, calling out "liberal hypocrisy."  Hypocrisy abounds, yes.  We have not held MANY accountable for their CRIMES, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't hold Josh accountable also.  I grew up in a church that was different from the Duggar's beliefs, but similar to this family.  The girls are probably not told or even aware that this is a crime or abuse.  They are being told it's a "mistake," and they should "forgive."  This creates cognitive dissonance and makes healing even harder.  You doubt yourself and your experience.  You think you're being selfish for the innate anger and outrage at what happened.  You are re-traumatized by such an insufficient response. We have GOT to do better as a Christian community and stop protecting child abusers.


The Village Church Scandal. 

There is a church in Dallas that is protecting a confessed pedophile (because he "repented") and publicly harassing and denouncing his ex-wife (because she didn't follow their advice to reconcile the marriage).  I'm not even sure if she is an ex-wife - the marriage was annulled by Texas law.  Why is it that in many evangelical/fundamentalist/Christian circles, women are by default at fault in circumstances like this?  How does it remotely make sense to warn a church of thousands about a women who blew the whistle, rather than warn them of a confessed, admitted (not alleged) pedophile?  I am SO tired of the frat/bro culture in churches.  Women are fundamentally disrespected and held to a different standard.  I lived it for at least 18 years.  It makes me sick.

When your faith, the way you are treated, and the "church laws" that are applied to you do not make sense, you should dig deeper.  Natural law, reason, and common sense should line up with your beliefs, if not re-affirm them.  If something seems "off," or if there is a red flag - investigate and question.

I really admire the woman at the center of all this, Karen Hinkley.  She has shown incredible presence of mind and self-respect, amidst a storm of crazy-making and false accusations, all couched in spiritual language of "concern" for her "heart" and the "Father's heart."  I'm so sad for the body of Christ.  I'm Catholic by choice, not by birth, but I hate that this stuff goes on in the name of Jesus, whether it is in Catholic or Protestant circles.  It represents all of us, unfortunately.

Here is Part I of the story, Part II of the story, and her eloquent response to the very public way the Village Church handled it all.  Here is an article from John Pavlovitz, a Protestant minister, who calls out the "leadership" at the Village Church.

We cannot be blind or ignorant when this news comes up.  We should be aware of what's going on in the body of Christ, not to gossip, not to be glad it's not one of our own.  We should be informed.  We should build ourselves up with healthy boundaries, and beliefs that respect our own integrity, free will, and dignity so that if this type of behavior happens to us, we will quickly recognize it for what it is.  In my opinion, she has grounds to sue the Village Church.  

The fact that this story broke around the same time as the Duggar story has really made me lose faith in humanity, or American Christianity, or conservativism, or all of the above.  



Speaking of issues mentioned in #1 and #2, there is a Buddhist saying that, "The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."

I love my Catholic faith.  My parents, and other anti-Catholics, often accuse Catholics of loving the religion or the rituals more than God.  I can see how those who come from sparse religious practices with no ritual or tradition (such as Calvinism), can see the rituals of Catholicism as meaningless.  There is a way to "hide" in ritual - going through the motions - even if you don't believe the meaning behind it - it's a form of pathology, but there is a way to "practice" religion like that.   There is really no way to know whether or not another person is blindly going through the rituals, or whether they really believe in what they're doing and allow it to transform them.  That's for each individual to know about themselves.

I guess, my point is that - while I love Catholicism, I love it because it is not an end unto itself.  It points me to God.  It's the finger pointing to the moon, it's not the moon.  And, while I believe that it is The Church Christ founded, and that confession has been so healing for me, and that Jesus is really, truly present to us in the form of bread and wine in the faith is in God.  It's not in priests, it's not in fellow parishioners, it's not in the rituals themselves, as beautiful and meaningful and wonderful as I find them to be most of the time.

That's why, when scandals such as the priestly abuses break out, my faith in God is not shaken.  It is a huge betrayal of those in authority.  It is wrong, it is a crime.  But, my faith is in what the Catholic Church believes and professes to be revealed by God - not in the effectiveness of a homily, not in the faithfulness of my fellow Catholics, not in the behavior of infamous Catholics.  Those things can be incredibly painful and disheartening, don't get me wrong, but that's not where my faith is.

When scandals such as those I mentioned in #1 and #2 break, I think - what if this were to happen in the Catholic Church?  I would not defend the abusers.  I would stand with the victims, I believe.  And yet, my faith in God and the tenets of the Catholic Church would not change.    



I'm headed to a family wedding this weekend.  I'm excited to see some people I haven't seen in a long time and to celebrate.  'Tis the season in my life for my friends and family to be getting married.  3 of my bridesmaids and 1 of our groomsmen (along with 3 other close friends/family members) have all gotten married within a year of us getting married.  There's something so simple and beautiful about seeing two people in love profess to remain faithful for a lifetime.  And, now that I'm on the other side of it, I will say that marriage is awesome.  I wish all these couples many happy years.


NFP.  Again. 

So, we learned the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP when preparing for marriage.  I quickly found out that it didn't work for me, due to off-the-charts low and erratic body temperatures, and due to the fact that there were virtually no observable symptoms for me (I take allergy medicine every day, which decreases mucus of all kinds).   That blew both the sympto- and the -thermal aspects of the method for me.  I then self-taught myself the Marquette Method and used a Clearblue Fertility Monitor.  That's all been fine and good, except that I think it's been wrong a few times now - not detecting ovulation, when I'm pretty sure one occurred.  It's quite frustrating.

I'm looking into purchasing the OvaCue Fertility Monitor and self-teaching myself yet another method.  I'm just not sure if it's worth the price ($200-$300, but without having to purchase urine sticks every month like the Clearblue Fertility Monitor requires).  Over the long run, it would be cheaper, but I'm not sure if I can apply what I know about NFP to yet another monitoring system.  Anyone out there?  There is a user forum for NFP and this monitor, but I just wonder how many people use it or know about it.  Once again, I hardly know any NFP users, much less any using this specific method.  It's lonely in practicing-Catholic-ville.



I'm looking forward to reading Gretchen Rubin's book Better than Before about habits.  I really enjoyed her Happiness Project book.  She and her sister have a new podcast, called Happier, which I've been listening to.  It inspired me to tackle the mountain of paperwork that has been climbing in our study.  For some reason, I just have been dumping mail and other paperwork for months, without dealing with it.  I pay most bills online, and try to trash junk mail immediately, but it was getting out of hand.  I spent a few hours shredding and sorting last weekend.  Now, I need to file what must be kept.  However, I'm trying to deal with a little bit every day, until it's under control.  I really don't know how it got this bad.  I feel like I have been living unconsciously for months now - why didn't I address this as it came?  I purchased a labelmaker last weekend, which has inspired my organization skills.  I went through the hall closet and almost finished getting our guest bedroom into reasonable shape for guests (it's been a wedding present/kitchen overhaul catch-all room).  So, I guess I've made progress.  I just have so far to go until things are at a "maintenance" point, instead of a major project point.  House guests coming this summer are a looming motivation to get it done!  


That's all I got.  Peace be with you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Because it was just so good...

I'm posting this quote from Catholic All Year because it was just so good.

It's referring to the so-called Mommy Wars - I'm not a mom, so to me, it's just about wars of any kind.

Wise words.

1. I've come to understand that people are different from one another. They are formed by different circumstances and experiences, motivated by different loves and fears, and talented in different ways. 

2. I've come to realize that another person’s experience of a particular situation in no way de-legitimizes my own contrary experience.

3. I've learned to let go of the angst: These days, I . . . Evaluate my options. Make a decision. Own it. Repeat as necessary.

Friday, May 15, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XII)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.

Dental Surgery. 

Dental work of any kind is absolutely for the birds.  I have been to the dentist once a week for about a month now to have follow-up for a surgery I had.  The final procedure is about a week and a half away.  I am not longsuffering.  I am not good at suffering, and I like it to last a short time, if it has to come.  Isn't that how we are as humans?  I try to pray my way through it or "offer it up," but I will be glad to be back to normal in another month or so.  There is always a cross, I know this.  I like to think I would lay down my life for Jesus, but when I suffer just a teensy tinsy bit, I basically fall apart and wish it to be over as soon as possible.  I've got a long way to go.    

Jury Duty.

I was summoned for jury duty this week.  On the one hand, I was excited to see our judicial system up close and personal, and on the other hand, I was a little irritated at the disruption to my routine.  I had to leave home before 7 AM to make it on time, I had to pay downtown parking fees, I had to pack a non-perishable lunch, and bring several books to occupy my time, and this is arguably the busiest time of year at my job.  I woke up early to make it on time and sat in a room with a few hundred strangers for a few hours.  My number was not called, so I got to leave by lunchtime.  I went to work out of guilt and confusion - I wasn't sure if I had to, or if I got a full day off for a half day of duty.  I will say that when dealing with the general population (in order to be eligible to serve, you must be: US citizen, over 18, and with no felony conviction - so basically "decent" people), that I am always surprised at how rude and lazy people are, and how quickly a herd mentality asserts itself.  Also, I found myself irrationally irritated at the people right around me who talked the entire time, while everyone else was doing a quiet or silent activity while waiting.  They covered such topics as the Vietnam war, Obama, abortion, adultery, weaponry of ancient Greece and name it.  I will never for the life of me understand those people who, in a silent (or very quiet) room of hundreds, don't notice that they are the only people talking and talk loudly.  I had earplugs and a book.  The lady next to me was so irritated that she moved away from them.  Maybe I should have done the same, rather than silently cursing them.  I can't figure out if it's because I value silence as an introvert, or if I'm just not a morning person, or if I am a hater, but it was an assault on the senses for me.  


I work in higher education, and it's graduation season.  Our office came in all weekend and worked last Saturday and Sunday.  Some (luckily, not me) will also work this weekend.  It's a busy time of year, but one in which I can see the direct results of the job I do.  I'm usually a few steps removed from the students, but as they graduate, I can see how my work plays a direct part in the process - not necessarily their success, they do have to go to class and pass - but it is more gratifying this time of year than any other for me.  

Mother's Day. 

We made a lasagna last weekend for my mother-in-law and hosted dinner for my in-laws (both brother-in-law and parents-in-law).  It was a success.  Instead of noodles, it used zucchini.  I am so grateful for a husband who fully participates in our life.  I guess, since I grew up with a dad who did nothing domestic - didn't lift a finger - I assumed I would be taking the majority of the housework when we got married.  I knew my husband wasn't like that, but I still have the internal message of, "You will have to do this all by yourself," or "You won't be getting any help from anyone."  That's just not true.  I had to remind myself that it is always better when we do things as a team.  Always.  And I wouldn't even say I made dinner and he helped, but that we both hosted the dinner and equally prepared for it.  I don't know if this qualifies as a modern marriage, or not.  Nor do I really care.  It just makes my life so much better to not feel like I do everything by myself, especially domestic tasks, which are extremely difficult for me.  


I'm a classically trained musician, and this weekend, I will be dusting off the old instrument and playing in public.  I'm excited.  My day job has nothing to do with music anymore, and that's fine, but I still want music to be a part of my life.  Since moving a few years ago, I haven't quite found a niche for music yet, but this is a start.  There have been late night rehearsals and some commitments and sacrifices for me to participate, but it has all been worth it because I realize it has fed my soul, and I want more of it.  


Yes, we got married almost 7 months ago, but our wedding is being featured in a local community magazine!  We didn't think we'd get picked, since neither of us are supermodels, our wedding wasn't elite, nor do we come from pedigree.  But, I guess we lucked out because they selected us to be featured.  It's a full page spread with little factoids about the wedding.  I would post a pic, but it would totally blow my anonymous blogging.  My wedding was a once in a lifetime event that was so beautiful and meaningful to us, I'm glad to continue to celebrate it with our friends and a few million strangers in the area.    


I am reading two different books on healing your emotions and handling them well.  I really need work on this area (see #2).  They are: The Emotions God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett and Healing the Unaffirmed by Dr. Conrad Baars.  (Not paid to endorse either one, just sharing.)  So far, I've gotten a lot out of the Bennett book, it's very practical.  The Baars book is a little too clinical for my feeble mind.  However, I'm going to finish it, then I want to read Feeling and Healing Your Emotions by Dr. Baars, which I think might be more helpful to me.  I will let you know.  Basically, I am a survivor of a traumatic and abusive childhood.  As a result of that, sometimes I have very immature emotions or reactions, and sometimes I feel completely numb inside and cannot get in touch with my emotions.  I have been to therapy, and yet, I still haven't arrived.  I need a lot of help and work in this area to heal.    

Happy Feast of the Ascension 
(plus one day)

Why does the Ascension matter?  I will let St. Augustine have the last word: 

"Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies."
- St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo

Friday, May 8, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XI)

I'm linking up with to bring you 7 quick takes from my world.

I had dental surgery last week, and a post-op this week.  Honestly, I was in less pain after the initial procedure last week than after the post-op this week.  For some reason, even mild procedures in the mouth seem to be extra painful - it's just right inside your head.  It's been a lot of sitting on the couch, resting, and complaining to my sweet husband.      

I've missed work due to said surgery, but I do have to work all weekend.  In higher education, sometimes nights and weekends are required, especially at certain times of year.  Good thing, since I feel awful, and my co-workers drive me nuts sometimes.  I know it's Friday afternoon, but this introvert has had enough of the loud conversations in cubicles.  I can't take my pain medicine at work, since I have to drive home, so I just have to suffer through.  I'm not good at suffering.  

I wrote last week about a most unusual letter from my mother.  I was moved, and felt like it brought healing.  Then, this week, she sent us all an identical Mother's Day gift.  It's a beautiful children's book about love.  I already knew about it, due to my therapy.  It speaks of unconditional love.  I love the book.  I can hardly get through it without crying.  But, honestly?  I'm a little confused now.  I know it was a nice gesture from my mother, but I never experience that love from her.  I feel like she somehow hijacked my therapy book without knowing it.  I know that I have lots of emotions to deal with as I try to accept her apology, and begin healing.  

Lately, I have been really burdened and saddened by two main things: my homosexual or same-sex-attracted friends and those I know who left the Catholic Church.  I don't fit either of those descriptions, but it grieves my heart.  I used to be way more accepting of LGBT stuff.  I thought it was as arbitrary as what clothing you wore or what color you liked.  It wasn't until I learned about Theology of the Body that I also began to believe that we are all called to chastity, healing, and celibacy or abstinence at times.  By the same token, I used to love the different denominations and thought of us all as slices in one pie or pieces to a bigger puzzle.  Now, I hate the division, the pride, the assurance that people have of unquestioned beliefs.  I pray for unity.  
John 17: 21 "I pray that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."  (emphasis mine)

I heard about something about 10 years ago called Emotional Deprivation Disorder.  I heard about it again last year, and it didn't occur to me until this week to order a book about it.  It's not a disorder recognized by the DSMV, but a Catholic psychologist, Dr. Conrad Baars, came up with this theory.  Each time I've heard about it, I've thought, "that's what's wrong with me!"  It's about not being affirmed by your early caretakers, and basically being emotionally immature and wounded.  More information here.  The website looks dated, but it has good information.  I will see what the book is like.  Thank God for my unconditionally loving husband, which has already helped my healing.  

Not being able to exercise, due to surgery (see #1) has been really difficult for my general well-being the last few weeks.  I look forward to a full recovery, chewing on both sides of my mouth, and getting back into the swing of things.  

Mother's Day is this weekend.  Happy Mother's Day to all of our spiritual mothers, our Spiritual Mother, The Blessed Virgin Mary, our earthly mothers, and all who celebrate.  I'm attempting a family dinner for 7 - wish me luck!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Unprecedented: The Day I Thought Would Never Come

Part of therapy, healing, and recovering from abuse is grief and acceptance.

I have grieved (and often continue to grieve) over having the parents I do.  I grieve for the things I want, but do not get.  I grieve for the things I never asked for or wanted, but got anyway.  This comes up whenever there is a momentous occasion (such as my wedding last year), during family holidays or other ordinary interactions with my parents.  It sometimes comes up out of the blue, or when I compare my life with others and see healthy parental relationships.  It comes up when people ask me what it was like to be a pastor's kid, or to make otherwise innocuous remarks.

Something isn't right with them.  I can't connect with them.  I don't trust them.  They don't respect me.  I grieve for the longing within every individual to be loved or accepted by their parents.  It's a longing I continue to have, even at 34, that has not really ever been fulfilled.  Thank God, I have received love from others, but I still want that love from my parents.  

One huge epiphany for me is that I have to accept what is, not pine away for what I wish.  I have to accept that this is how my parents are.  Maybe someday, there is a small sliver of hope that there will be change, but I have to accept what is.  I have to deal with them as they are.  The first time that really sunk in was a heartbreaking realization for me, and somewhat scary.  I realized I was sort of wishing away reality, rather than dealing with it.  While it was very, very difficult, I tried to accept things as they were from then on.  I didn't realize I hadn't been doing that.

Well, things are difficult, but consistent with my parents.  I have kept them at arm's length, tried to respect them, tried to include them in ways that I could in my Catholic wedding (of which they highly disapproved).  I haven't been to their house in probably 6 years or so.  I haven't spent the night at their house in probably a decade or more.  I try to keep healthy boundaries, and part of that is not being on their territory, and not being trapped with them.  (Not to mention that being there makes me physically ill.)

So, all of this to say that I have accepted my parents as best I can.  I have tried to deal with the reality of our relationship, grieving as needed, in order to be real with my emotions, acknowledge them, but also live in the truth of what is.  I have even tried to see the good that has come from my relationship with my parents, and not blame them.  I have tried to take back my life.

And the day I thought would never come, came last week.  My mom sent a letter to each of her adult children that apologized for the way she failed as a mother.  Mostly, she apologized for being less loving than authoritarian, for being unreasonable, and for coming down too hard on us.  She then said that she loved each of us with her whole heart, she regretted this part of her life, she was sorry and asked forgiveness.  It was shocking.

I'm still processing all of this, wondering how best to deal with it.  I wrote back after a few hours to say thank you, I forgive you, and then proceeded to list the ways in which I appreciated her as a mother.  I was trying to go along with the thought that "forgiveness is not wishing things had been different."  That is still hard for me.  I don't know that it's completely true yet for me.  I don't always see the good that came from such a bad situation.  I just feel the hurt and see the lack.  But, I know that by continuing to blame, I give away the power I have to change anything.  It doesn't mean we will be the best of friends.  But, anytime I have a memory of an especially harsh moment growing up with my mom, I can also recall that, many years later, she said she was sorry for that moment.

In this short time, it has been healing.  It has been validating.  I'm not sure where the relationship goes from here.  I am just grateful that God's grace is obviously at work for her to have such a change of heart and realization.  I think it's humble to do such a thing, and her letter came across as straightforward, not manipulative at all.  I'm nervous to see her again, I don't know what that will be like.  But, I will pray for God's grace to accept what is, as it comes.  

“I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.” - 

Flannery O'Connor