NAS: Selfish Singles

First, if I may ask, could you all please consider taking a moment of silence and prayer at 2:49 pm EST or any time today? It’s the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Thank you.

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Don’t forget to link up with Morgan and Jen!

Selfish Singles

How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it’s easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend’s kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with “sharing” you time with others?

Hmm…to be honest, my first reaction when reading this prompt was to get a little defensive: “I’m not selfish! I thought common conception of the single life was how wonderful it was to be free to serve and less time to ourselves…how can we be called selfish?!?” But I thought about it some more and used it as a chance for a little Examen. How do I use my time? Did I refuse help to someone who asked? Did I help but inwardly grumble? Is the Lord calling me to take on more and I am ignoring him?

I think we can all agree that every person, regardless of state of life, should have at least some time to themselves to sleep, eat, be with their families, or even recharge without having to constantly justify how much is appropriate to their individual needs. And we can all agree that everyone “works” or serves. But the time we’re blogging about today is not any of the above; and the attitude is not of needed self-care but of false desire or possession. Whenever I realize I am too possessive with my time, I try to remember the real meaning of certain words:

Selfish: thinking only of the self: my wants, my desires, I, I, I; and has nothing to do with actual needs.

We should not be selfish. If asked to do something for another, we should evaluate the character of what we were going to do (actual need vs. a want): “You know, I suppose I could take the New Year’s Eve shift, because my plans were to dance and drink at a big party, and Carol’s are to fly out to visit her invalid aunt.”

Love: choosing to sacrifice something you want for the true good of another

We are called to love, and love looks like saying to the harried mom: “Yes, I’ll help stack the chairs after praise and worship,” instead of being home in time for Doctor Who.

Charity: generosity of self; giving of self in thoughts, words, actions

We should think, speak, and act generously. If the first reaction to a roommate’s offer to edit her paper is “But I’m in the zone writing/reading/blogging,” then that’s not really charitable. If the response out loud is “Sure, I’d love to,” and then actually do it, then we are exercising charity.

JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself.

We have access to true joy, but it’s not found in nights in, getting caught up in projects at the expense of people, or indulging in solitary activities. Even if we are helpful when asked, sometimes we can reject God’s offer of joy by coming up with excuses for why we don’t take something on—like a volunteering commitment or regular date with our favorite kids—even though we totally could. Joy is found in serving the Lord, serving our families, friends, and church, and serving our souls.

Evaluating our responses and reasons for why we do or don’t give of ourselves now while we’re single is actually great practice for marriage and parenthood when our gift of self is to our husbands and children. Thanks for the examination of conscience, topic suggester! :)

7QTF: Catholic Potpurri for $1000, Alex

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Join Jen and the others!

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Trigger warning: baby in NICU. Spoiler alert: Very happy ending.

Isn’t God the creator awesome? And human life—no matter how young—just incredible, right?

[2]

Cassian, a saint’s name(!), is apparently one of 12 baby names that could have a huge break out in popularity soon.

Hmmm…St. Cassian of Imola was the Bishop of Brescia and a schoolmaster, martyred by the Roman Emperor. His students stabbed him to death with the stylus. And then we have St. Cassian of Tangiers, who was a court stenographer, martyred because he admitted his Christianity when the Roman court issued the death penalty against the accused.

Great name, but I wonder how a son would feel about these stories of his patron…

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Today is actually the feast day of another martyr, Saint Stanislaus. Say that five times fast. St. Stanislaus (which also sounds like Santa Claus) was a bishop in Krakow who called out the king for sexual immorality. The king then goes and kills the bishop during Mass in what sounds like a scene from those Saw movies.

The extra fun bit of fun for the 13-year-old boy in your life is that after the bishop’s remains were thrown into the pool outside, they miraculously became corporeal again, under the guard of four eagles.

eagle

What? What? That’s right, just re-building a saint.

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I was at a training last week to get certified as a speaker for a program that empowers teens to make healthy, chaste, life choices. It was faith-based, but a more ecumenical Christianity approach. But the leader said she was brought to her knees by the writings of none other than our very dear almost-Saint John Paul II. And then all my non-Catholic classmates were just in awe of the instruction on the meaning of marriage, which was actually quite Catholic sounding. Point for the universality and point for the natural law.

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Jean Lafrance thinks we can pray wrong (what spiritual writer doesn’t think that?!?).

“If you do not return to the same text in Scripture or in spiritual writers, you will never know how to pray well. You will be like a tourist who wants to see everything and who does not take the time to contemplate, that is to look with love and admiration, at what he sees. Do not be a spiritual glutton.” (Pray to Your Father in Secret, Editions Paulines, 1987)

Huh. Fasting from spiritual tourism. Never woulda thought.

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Spotlight on Current Catholic: Sarah Swafford. Mrs. Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries., which aims to empower young adults to align our hearts so that we are free to love authentically. One of her talks that I’d LOVE to hear is “Emotional Chastity – Love, Emotions, Taylor Swift, Mental Stalking & Mr. Right.”

(She also very generously provided a lovely endorsement of my book. Thank you!!)

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Book:

I get a little Romans-esque!

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rm 12:1)

Gloria Jean: “The Eucharist is Jesus’s body given up for all of us, right? And we’re supposed to be thankful that he’s made this sacrifice. Miss Tompkins said we’re meant to sacrifice too. Maybe [Celiac] disease is like a built-in system for sacrifice, and it’s up to me to figure out how to make it worthwhile.”

And here’s the endorsement:

“It is so refreshing to find a novel that resonates with the life and
heart of a 21st-century teen! Faith, virtue, and love are cleverly
woven into the everyday struggles and victories of life. I’m excited
to add Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean to the list of books I
can wholeheartedly recommend!” – Sarah Swafford, Emotional Virtue
Ministries

NAS: Dos and Don’ts of First Dates

Hello again! Apologies for the lack of blogging. I draft these on work breaks and lately just haven’t been able to post them. Plus last week I kinda sorta maybe didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t progressing very much with my healthy, wealthy, and wise goals. But I soldier on!

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This week’s NAS topic: First Dates!

What are those things that we should be doing, and the things that we shouldn’t be doing? They can be from the physical parts (clothes to wear, places to go, things to say) or emotional parts (talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc). We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

First and foremost, DO be sure that this is a date—not a “come to this party where I might mack on another girl later;” not a “I’m going to the mall for a present for my mom, want to tag along?”; not a “I got a spare ticket to the game, and my buddies will be all around us”; but an honest to goodness date—he is taking you out to get to know you better.

Do wear a flattering outfit appropriate for the occasion and what you are comfortable in—but punched up one notch above your everyday clothes, either with accessories, shoes, or something. Spring is coming for the northern gals, and you will be a wonder and delight in a skirt or casual dress next to those still in jeans or yoga pants. (But if you absolutely do not want to wear a dress or skirt, at least wear a pretty top over a dressier jean—think dark wash—and accessories). Some may want to revoke my feminist card (the one that says women are cool, treat us with equal dignity) for what I’m about to say, but I really believe many guys appreciate it when we dress in a feminine way. Let’s put it this way: I’ve always gotten compliments, second glances, eye twinkles in skirts, dresses, lacy tops; and almost no attention when in jeans and an unremarkable sweater or top.

Do go somewhere slightly active and that expresses a common interest, public (especially if you met the guy online), relaxed enough to talk, and with both an escape hatch to leave early if needed and a proximity to another venue to continue a great date. Mr. Sweet and I went apple picking and decided to have lunch at a food truck and do a zip line course.

Don’t go to a movie that eats up the time available to actually learn about one another. Don’t do anything too intimate like cooking dinner at one of your homes.

Do explain the whys behind specifics and engage him in the conversation: “I like Mumford and Sons because…who’s your favorite band and why” not “I like folk rock. What do you like?”

Do ask open-ended, fun questions that reveal a little about the person: “What was the most memorable experience you had while traveling?” Don’t get stuck in a “yes-or-no” rut and don’t forget to ask follow-up questions.

Do show your character: be courteous to wait staff, say thank you, etc.

Don’t mention the following words unless you’ve known the guy, the subject comes up, and you’re speaking about issues generally and not personally or specifically: wedding, marriage (to you), babies, your ex’s name, his ex’s name (if you know), sex, money, politics.

Do speak up if something is a deal breaker and would compromise your enjoying the rest of your time together. Do be honest at the end of the date that the deal breaker (if not an action, but mentality) probably precludes a future for the two of you. Thank him for the time together and wish him well. You don’t want to waste your time, or his for that matter.

Do know that you can leave at any time if the situation merits it. I don’t think it’s necessary Houdini it out the bathroom window, force your friends to accompany you to the mall or even receive fake emergency calls. Simply say: “That makes me uncomfortable. I feel it best I should go. Have a good evening/day.”

Do end the date when you realize you could continue the conversation into the night. Don’t tell all your stories. Save something for dates beyond the first.

Do offer to pay. After surveying several guys of all different stripes, most like the “wallet grab.” They have every intention of paying, but want to know that a) you’re not taking them for granted or b) they get a chance to show off their chivalry.

DO take them up on his offer to pay. Don’t protest. And then if you are moving on to drinks after ice skating or dessert after dinner or are already planning the second date, do say that you would like to treat him. Hopefully y’all will fall into a natural rhythm of mutual treating and charity.

Do smile!

NAS: Deal Breakers

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Mary

Today’s Topic!

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We have all thought about our list of qualities for our future spouse (and maybe even religious community), but sometimes those can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, maybe think about the few things that are so important to you, that if a guy you were considering dating (or community you were entering) didn’t have those things, you would have to move on. Why are those things important to you?

Be sure to link up with Jen and Morgan!

I love Liz Lemon sometimes. I also love the definition provided for us. Deal breakers mean you can be open-minded about potential boyfriends, but not so open-minded your brain falls out! Here are the core qualities I looked for while dating:

Charity

Charity is caritas; love; agape. It means the guy has a giving heart; and not just giving of his time, talent, or treasure (though those will get him some pretty big bonus points); but giving of self. Part of the theology of marriage is self donation; mutual self-sacrifice; giving and receiving love. My guy has to be charitable in his thoughts, words, actions—his whole self. Charity informs his character and is a core quality that will inform our marriage.

Faith expression

As a woman of faith who desires to share that with her spouse and hopefully kids, it’s important to me that the guy I’m with not only respects that, but values it himself. I do admit I prefer practicing Catholic men, simply because to me at this point in my life, dating is not just for fun—it’s to discern if we can eventually discern to become spouses. And I intend to live out a Catholic marriage and raise my kids Catholic, and as the meme says:

“This ain’t ‘Nam, Smokey. There are rules.”

The Church has some beautiful, if sometimes seemingly challenging to live out, teachings, especially regarding the way husbands and wives live out their faith. For me personally, it’s a deal breaker if the guy I’m with can’t appreciate, understand, or be open to these “rules.” Of course, I’m not going to ask him to merely submit a baptismal certificate with his application to date me—rather, we’re going to have conversations about these topics (if the guy is Catholic or not), and if we aren’t in sync on them, then that’s a deal breaker to me. And in my past experience, the men who were (and are—hi, Sweetie!) in sync, happened to have a Catholic formation and continue to grow in their faith.

Conscious effort to live out a chaste life, along with its companion issue of healthy and moral attitudes toward sex and the human person.

Since I kinda wrote a book on chastity, you betcha it’s important that my guy value, respect, and live it out in his own life and relationship to me. After reading the principles of Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility, the Church’s beautiful message of life-giving love through the gift of self is something that I want as part of my life for the rest of my life. So my guy has to share in that, too.

This list is mine; God works on each of our hearts and knows what we need and sends the Holy Spirit to inspire us as we discern. So your list will be yours. God wants us to know the incredible love He has for us, which we can experience through marriage or the consecrated life. And He will help us figure out the best way to get there, if we trust in Him. That’s His deal, and He’ll never break it.
*Special Note: Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments regarding the case of Hobby Lobby and whether or not corporations’ owners should be compelled by the government to provide (or be a link in the chain) certain services, even if those services go against religious beliefs and practice. I do not have the background to speak very intelligibly or authoritatively on this case, but I do believe it is a cause for prayers, especially on this day, the Feast of the Annunciation, when an unmarried teen (likely) girl facing the possibility of an unplanned (by her) pregnancy, said one simple word that changed the course of history: “Yes.”

7QTF: General Musings

7_quick_takes_sm1Join Jen and the others!

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Read a line about modesty that really got my goat: “women, who have a greater need to mollify aggressive male sensuality…”

Okay, maybe women have a greater physical need (as in protection from advances of stronger men), but I would argue that men have the greatest need (read: spiritual) to mollify their own aggression FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR SOULS.

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Now, I am not saying women do not have a spiritual need to dress modestly (they do—to accord themselves with their God-given dignity), but seriously. If we are going to say that humans are more than just animals acting on instinct, then we cannot, cannot keep acting as if men have no control over their own hormones, and that women bear the most responsibility. No. Men have souls and opportunities for formation and seeking the True and the Good. They should know how not to look with lust. (I could write a whole essay on the distinction between a man looking at what is before his eyes and feeling nothing and man looking and actively lusting. It is possible. Women do it all the time. And aren’t we equal in dignity?)

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/rant

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There is a weird tuning fork hum in my office. I don’t think it’s the computer, as the woman in the office next to mine hears it too. Driving me bananas!

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Prayer request: For the middle schoolers I met Monday and will see again next week.

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Book 1: If you’ll indulge me (what…there’s like three feasts during this week!) here is the first of two book bits. One, the lovely Sr. Kim at Pauline Books and Media designed this incredible landing page for me: https://pauline.leadpages.net/ten-commandments-for-kissing-gloria-jean/

It explains the book and a video of yours truly!

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Book 2:

Another great review!:

Posted here:

http://faith-basedbooks.com/?p=68

http://raised2read.com/ten-commandments-for-kissing-gloria-jean/

http://www.bookbargainsandpreviews.com/2014/March/TenCommandmentsforKissingGloriaJean.htm

Thanks to Patti!

NAS: Single Life Bucket List

not+alone5What are those things that you want to do before you get married (or enter the religious life)? Is there anything that you are excited to do, accomplish, etc before engagement, marriage and babies come along? Even if you feel that you’ve done everything you wanted to do pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn’t anything you’d like to do!

Don’t forget to visit Morgan and Jen!

This topic comes at a handy time! I just re-visited my Pinterest board (Britt Leigh/beeleigh312)  I created for my 30 by 30 list. Thirty months before I turned 30 (Sept. 2012), I started a virtual inspiration board with things I hoped to accomplish before I turned 30. Some of them actually may also apply to before I’m married. While I don’t think marriage and children necessarily preclude me from publishing a book, advancing my career, traveling, or learning new skills, I do recognize it will be easier as a single, non-pregnant or child-rearing person.

That being said, here are some things I’d love to do, unencumbered by thoughts of the family at home:

-         Intensive writing retreat: maybe a week locked away scribbling with no worries of laundry, acquiring food, or cleaning.

-         Spiritual retreat: probably about 3 days and not silent (maybe Silent + talking meals) for a chance to read uninterrupted, journal, pray, and foster my relationship with God.

-         Attend a national conference (possibly with friends). I love staying in hotels and meeting up with friends at a regional writing conference. I’d love to go and meet people from all over the country and attend workshops and speeches on an interesting subject and talk late into the night over snacks and wine.

-         Write, publish, and tour for another book. It’s crazy enough as an unmarried person; I foresee it getting harder with a husband and kids.

But the biggest goal of all is to a) not feel sad after accomplishing many things as a single person because I end up unmarried for longer than I’d like and b) not feel sad if I don’t achieve what I dream because I end up married. Ultimately, the item on my bucket list for each stage of life is to be satisfied with God.