The Desire for Thanksgiving

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I love this image of Mary Magdalene from the Passion.

I was having prayer time this morning (which is beautiful by the way, looking out my windows onto the snowy landscape) and I came across this verse:

He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me;

To him who orders his way aright

I will show the salvation of God.

~Psalm 50:23

This struck me because of how it points out that Christ asks us to praise Him in all circumstances, not simply when we are thanking Him for a blessing He has given us. He wants us to give thanks as a sacrifice. Sometimes, praising God for what He has done in our lives is painful. 

Sure, I can be joyful today and praise Him in thanksgiving because my morning classes were canceled (again!) and I now have freedom to finish some more homework, study for tests, and take an extra long, relaxing time enjoying my coffee with my new toffee almond creamer. *Side note: I feel like I mention coffee a lot. The only reason for this is because I usually write these in the mornings when I am enjoying it. I’m not an addict. Yet.

Of course God is delighted when I thank Him for these beautiful blessings, but how often do I come to Him in a spirit of thanksgiving when things are going terribly wrong, as they often do a few times a year month day. Have we ever thought about thanking Him for the inconveniences, the accidents, and the painful things that happen to us throughout the day? Do we thank Him for unexpected interruptions in our schedule by a person we have a hard time loving or because we never grew up with dishwashers and didn’t know you shouldn’t put in regular dish soap into the dishwasher and now have soap suds covering the entirety of your kitchen floor? Oh yeah, me neither.

I will admit, it does come to mind and then I usually dismiss it in my selfishness and instead get frustrated. Which helps nothing. At the time I usually rationalize it to myself in my petty pity party which I like to fall into.

I also don’t think to thank Him for my own weaknesses. Think about it: God gives us our talents and gifts, but we also have weaknesses that we are called to work on, and these weaknesses, if we are open and docile to the Holy Spirit, will bring us in deeper communion with Christ.

I’m reading this amazing book called Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The secret of peace and happiness and basically it spells out the key to our happiness which is aligning our desires with His. This morning I read this great part:

Poverty serves to keep you humble while your nature is proud;

The scorn of the world to free you from your attachment to it;

Illness to keep you from the pleasure-seeking which would be your ruin.

Yes, I can thank the Lord for my embarrassing lack of athletic talent and how I don’t have a body like Tanya from Insanity because it keeps me humble. I can thank the Lord that I’m not the most popular person at my school because it allows me to remember that I’m not seeking success as my ultimate goal but I’m seeking Heaven.

A practical way to carry this out I’ve found is to listen to the Litany of Humility by Danielle Rose in the mornings when I’m getting ready. It helps me to stay centered and grounded in truth (Especially the “Deliver me from the desire of being appreciated and preferred” part).

Another odd little way I’ve carried this out was inspired by Facebook. A friend posted one day “All the bananas – praise the Lord. All the computers – praise the Lord.” I thought this was hilarious and my housemate and I have started saying this about things that we don’t like. For example, we have this death march every day called the “raven walk + a class in St. Ben’s” which contains a grand total of 345345 stairs, which never get any easier to walk up no matter how much Insanity I do. So we will say, usually with gritted teeth: “All the stairs – praise the Lord.” And it reminds me that Christ is good and He gives us all good things for a reason. It also usually makes me giggle which brings up my mood as well!

Enjoy your day today and remember to give God thanksgiving for all He has done, because He knows us and what we need better than we ever could know ourselves.

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Because this is absolutely adorable. Happy Tuesday.

 

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Touches of Beauty

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Today is turning out to be an absolutely delightful day. Not only is it nearing the end of an incredibly blessed week, but we received a (slightly expected, much prayed for) snow day! It was so fun to see the absolute pure happiness on all of our faces at our house this morning when we got the text. “Giddy” would definitely be an appropriate word to describe us, along with a majority of this campus.

I’m sure God delighted in the rejoicing hearts of those college students who braved the snow to go to Mass this morning. I realized walking back from Mass how beautiful it was to see how quiet our little corner of the world is. All of our busy-ness has stopped for the moment and we are blessed with the gift of time: to relax, to catch up on homework, to rid ourselves of stress, and to rejoice in God who gives all good things.

Sitting down with a steaming cup of coffee, I decided to share a few things from my life in the past few weeks that have made me happy. Little touches of beauty throughout my daily life that make me stop and thank God for his pure and perfect knowledge of me and what delights me.

1. Valentine’s Day

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Valentine cards can be so creative – I love how unique each one is!

On the risk of being called a hippie (ahem…you know who you are) I’ve decided I absolutely love Valentine’s Day. Yes, a single woman loves this holiday. I also do not like how it is assumed, and even encouraged, that if you aren’t in a relationship then you probably will spend this holiday drowning your sorrows in chocolate chip cookie dough and talking with your other single lady friends about how stupid men are. Don’t get me wrong, I would be fine with the cookie dough part (aside from the fact that it is Lent…) but I think men are pretty fantastic, and there are so many other types of love aside from romantic love that we can celebrate on this day.

Also, later in the evening my housemates and I were sitting around the kitchen table doing homework when we heard men shouting and a drum and guitar…Outside our house. Yes, about 12 men of the SPO houses were outside, with roses, and waited for us to open the door and proceeded to serenade us with their rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Brownie points for them!

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The ladies of the other SPO house left us a surprise on our porch – hand sewn owls that you can stick in the microwave to warm up!

2. Creme Petite – authentic Brie with Wheat Thins

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This is the swiss cheese wedges, but they are just as good as the brie ones!

It’s really the simple things in life that add up, like this new snack that I have a newfound love for! They are tasty, healthy-ish, and they come in cute little wedges! I’m pretty sure the dang packaging is what draws me to these. Marketing people really know their stuff.

3. The Temptations, Lone Bellow, and Little Women Soundtrack

Music can really speak straight to the heart, or even express what your heart can not. For me, there are some songs that I could listen to over and over again, and I do (ask my housemates…). The song, “My Girl” by the Temptations is one song that never fails to make me happy, even if I’m in the worst of moods. It is also the song that my friend and I decided to spontaneously sing at karaoke while we were at a restaurant. I have a clip of it, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t be interested in it ;). A friend recently introduced me to The Lone Bellow, and I fell in love! They are a great band which you should check out if you get the chance. And of course the Little Women soundtrack, which keeps me company while studying – such beautiful instrumental music!

4. Cute Baby Animals

On risk of judgement, I had to include this. Those who know me know that I would not be considered an animal lover, but Pinterest has come up with way too many cute animals for me not to take delight in them.

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Exhibit A. This baby koala fits in a coffee cup. A COFFEE CUP!

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Exhibit B. This one needs no explanation. What a fine piece of art.

5. Daily Odd Compliment

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Have you been on this website? Because it is hilarious. And I love it. I feel like so many of them are applicable to so many of my friendships. While we’re on the subject of friendships, can I say how blessed I am to have such incredible friends? In all honesty, I have a beautiful, loving, quirky family at home, I have the most wonderful friends as well back in Minnesota that I would absolutely consider family, and I have friends here, in Kansas where we have formed another family. I would consider my friendships with all of these people inherently life-giving; each and every one is a blessing in my life. As a dear friend told me once, “you make my heart content.” What can I not conquer when I have Christ and these amazing people by my side? Nothing. Except maybe my impending Accounting homework.

Delightfully Feminine

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“I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they are the first to be rescued off of sinking ships” -Gilda Radner

Last week I was meeting my business advisor to talk about classes, and I overheard part of a conversation in the hallway. Some guy was responding to something his friend (who was a girl) said, and replied “Haha, really? That is so girly.” The tone of his voice was so negative. I have a question for you. When did it become a bad thing to be feminine? I was having a conversation with a friend and I had mentioned my hairstylist after which I immediately said, “that sounds so girly,” essentially apologizing for having a hairstylist. I do it too! I feel like I do my best to tone down my feminine qualities so they aren’t noticeable, because I feel like society has attacked the idea of being “feminine.” Society has done its best to sweep womanly influences under the rug and now if you are “too girly” you become an image of the stereotypical “dumb blonde.”

Now many girls feel pressured to take on masculine qualities in order to “attract” men. We feel like we have to be athletic, even if we don’t like sports, we should know what kind of car we want, down to the make and the model, and know the rules of football to get a guy to notice us. I’m not saying that girls can’t like sports or cars and I’m not saying that men never fall for women who are 100% “girly.” I’m saying that society is telling us that all women should stop their “girly” behavior and become more assimilated to men. I know personally when I was growing up, the girls who were noticed by guys were good at playing football and dodgeball. And so, in spite of being the extremely self-conscious 13 year old girl that I was who didn’t have an affinity for anything that involved moving balls and the application of my reflexes, I  played them anyways. It took me being hit in the head with a football by my star quarterback of a crush who was simply trying to include me in the game, even though I happened to not be paying attention, to realize that that simply wasn’t me. And that is fine.

Society sends the message that being overtly feminine is wrong. I admit, there is a stigma of being “too girly,” and even I tend to shy away from more peppy, bubbly characters. We are women, but we don’t have a free pass to talk non-stop about boys and  nail polish. This stigma that society has for feminine qualities comes from the vices that women are more inclined to rather than the virtues. Women are meant to be loving which can turn into a vice of being clingy. We have a talent for hospitality, but that can turn into the vice of exclusivity and gossip. We also have a deep appreciation for beauty and details, which can be turned into vanity. All of these beautiful attributes that God naturally gives to women can be distorted by the devil and turned into vice. The same can be said of men.

But because of the feminist movement, society has focused on women’s vices and rejected their virtues. Vulnerability is a quality that should be nurtured in both genders, but is more natural, I believe, for women In today’s world, it is not considered a good thing to be vulnerable. I don’t believe that. Opening yourself up to be vulnerable leads to great humility and to the gift of connecting and relating to other people. If you refuse to be vulnerable to anyone, it sends a message that you don’t have weaknesses and that you are stronger than others. It can also be a form of pride not to share what you are struggling with. It is a lot harder to relate to that person than it is to someone who admits they have weaknesses.

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And if you are or know any women, you know we love relating. All the time. For a long time. And mainly in the form of sleepovers. Myself and the women that I live with had a sleepover the other weekend, even though we live in the same house! Also at our house there is never a lack of chocolate, in any form.

Let's just be honest.

Let’s just be honest.

Men and women are different. It might seem pretty obvious, but society has been attempting to undermine that basic truth and replace it with this: men and women are equal, therefore they are the same. I recently read an article saying that the army has started allowing women into combat battalions. I don’t know all the details, but I do know that President Obama made a comment saying, “Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love.”

Am I the only one that feels weird about the statement? Now I’m supposed to be happy that our moms, sisters, and goddaughters can fight for us. Don’t men go to war in order for their families, their wives and sisters, to be protected? If men have nothing to protect, they will have nothing to fight for.

While I do believe in equality and I’m happy that we as women have the right to vote and have careers, the logic of that statement that men and women are the same does not make sense. I’m going to pull out a math reference.

Okay, here it is.

3+7=14-4

Yes, I know you’re now all thoroughly impressed by my math skills.

The point of this, besides showing that I can apply Quantitative Analysis in Business Data (a class I am taking) to my life, is that both sides of the equation equal 10. But how they both got to 10 was a different way, with different numbers. In this way men and women are different – they are both equal, but the way their minds work, the attributes that are uniquely theirs differ from each other.

Please, rejoice in the unique femininity of women and all the quirks that come with it, like believing that chocolate most likely has healing powers and the weird phenomenon of women needing to go to the bathroom together. If you’re a woman, use the characteristics that God has given us and turn them into virtues instead of vices.

Women seek naturally to embrace what is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is for natural maternal yearning. Lifeless matter, the fact, interests her first of all insofar as it serves the living and the personal, not ordinarily for its own sake" -Edith Stein

Women seek naturally to embrace what is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is for natural maternal yearning. Lifeless matter, the fact, interests her first of all insofar as it serves the living and the personal, not ordinarily for its own sake” -Edith Stein