7QTF: Excellent Quotes about “Giving Up” for Lent

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Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum!

4 p.m. Pancake/Fat/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. I’ve just finished a homemade nutella “pocket” and still have no idea what I’m giving up for Lent. My head is full of retorts for why I didn’t give up sweets, how the “offering up” of something while good spiritual discipline, is purely voluntary, and why must Catholics spend the drudges of the year (February and March) pressuring each other to have The Best Lent Ever!!! (TM). Look, it’s not going to be TBLE!!! if it’s something forced. For some inspiration other than a vague “Maybe I might try to do daily Mass again this year,” or “what if what God is asking for me to do is get back to my writing for His glory?”, I went to the blogs. It was very easy.

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Here are some truly excellent quotes about the personal sacrifices we make. And at the end, I’ll reveal what I finally decided on.

[1]

“A hard-core Lent that is full of penance is not necessarily a good Lent. Lent isn’t a survivor experiment. It’s a preparation for Easter. If you lose sight of Easter, your Lent is pointless.” (Taylor Marshall). So it’s okay to continue having coffee.

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“For the past decade or so, I’ve followed one simple rule when discerning my Lenten penances: Don’t take on any commitments that will lead me to commit mortal sin. It works. I drink my coffee in the morning, my “medicinal” beverages at night, and  Lent in my house today is far more peaceful, sane, and spiritually fruitful than it was 10 years ago. Which I happen to think is just dandy.” (Emily Stimpson). She gets it! And has her coffee, too.

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“I’d always heard that you should give up something good, but I didn’t really get why, so I just went with giving up cursing for Lent…Then I pictured myself rising on Easter morn’, taking a deep breath, and shouting the f-word. Umm, yeah. That’s why giving up something that’s bad anyway doesn’t quite have the same effect. So no sugar in my tea for Lent.” (Jennifer Fulwiler). Even she didn’t give up her caffeine.

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“There is no Lenten practice that will bring you closer to God unless you ask God to help it happen. If you get someone a present, you have to put the right name on the tag, or it’s wasted effort.” (Simcha Fisher) I imagine God sitting up in Heaven wondering aloud to Jesus and Mary how not having coffee is helping our relationship. Coffee brings people together!

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“Unless you’re a hermit, your decision will affect other people. The rule of thumb is that you get to choose your suffering. Not everyone else’s.” (Simcha Fisher) And for the sake of everyone, it’s really okay for me to continue having coffee.

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“Regular sacrifices can give us constant reminders of what we are supposed to be doing, but they can also become a substitute for what we’re supposed to be doing. If God is calling you to repair your marriage, going forty days without Snickers bars is probably not going to help.” (Simcha Fisher) So I’m going to have my coffee, because that will actually help with what I feel I do need to do.

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[7]

“The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you.” (Jimmy Akin) So my parameters are going to be the following, with coffee allowed:

– Give up indulging laziness. No more claiming “writer’s block” and tuning into a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy or some other mindless daytime television. I will try to do anything else, and yes, maybe even writing.

– Give up not doing anything “spiritual” because it seems like I already do enough. I have Rediscover Catholicism to read, a plot bunny involving The Interior Castle to explore, and at least one hour every day (seriously) for Mass or adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, or failing that, simply sitting quietly in a pew.

– Give up not writing. I can’t be honest and say that I will stick to a proscription of a certain amount of time per day or what constitutes as Lenten writing, but I can say that I can get over myself and at some point get back to what God asked me to do.

How is doing what I should be doing penitential? Well, I hate not having mind distractions, so an hour of something spiritual and quiet will be “better” reparation than skimming Simcha’s “older posts”.  How is writing, which can be very enjoyable, and maybe even profitable (if I sell the fruits of this Lenten labor), repentance? Well, think about some of the more creative penances you received in the confessional: yelled at a significant other, do a nice thing for them; missed Mass, go to more Masses. The past few months I haven’t been writing or doing anything particularly holy, so to make up for where I’ve failed, I’m going to literally make them up.

The truth is I’ve been in a spiritual funk, and I’m going to try to use this Lent to get out of it. It’s not going to be as cut and dry as 40 days of 952 words each and then total slackdom for the rest of Easter or agonize over whether my Lent is holy enough (or worse, holier than thou’s), but just the current season I have to grow in holiness. God bless you in your Lent!

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7QTF: Tips from a Catholic Book Lady

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Linking up with everyone at This Ain’t the Lyceum….

I work for Chain Bookstore and a small-town library system. Some musings I have to get out there into the world:

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If you go to the library, please make sure you are checking out more books and DVDs. Nothing makes me sadder than scanning a handful of picture books for a 3-year-old, but 15 or more DVDs. I know, I love me my TV too, and it was super-helpful when babysitting my sister’s rowdy little ones sometimes. But seriously. Try.

[2]

Ask your local bookstore to stock Catholic books. This tip usually works best if it’s done en force: all parish bookclub members or have someone call the community relations person/manager and say “Fr. mentioned X book in his homily and we want to say its available at your store,” and they’ll order a bunch. I know online options are cheaper, and you may prefer to support Catholic/Christian businesses, but many people still like going to actual stores, and some of the truly awesome books available are unheard of because they don’t have general public exposure.

[3]

If your pre-teen/tween loves his or her age-appropriate graphic novels, please please please keep an eye out on their reading material as they age out. Or if they love certain shows that have manga books affiliated, be careful when venturing to that section of the store. I just spent all last shift in the manga section, and there were quite a few covers I had to “hide” on the rack behind other covers. Manga is not just cartoons on a page. A lot of it over-sexualizes women (teen girls, even!) or draws on the macabre. Definitely start teaching them the principles of ToB as they grow up so they can recognize themselves which books are cool and which are not for themselves.

[4]

Reading aloud to one’s fiance or very serious boyfriend from a quality book on marriage and relationships is an excellent way to round out a lukewarm marriage prep experience. We have illuminating conversations after each chapter and treasure some of the practical exercises. Review on a the book Mr. Sweet and I use coming soon.

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Read Housewifespice on Wednesdays! Thoughtful book reviews, and usually, a link up!

[6]

The Journey of Our Love should be on your Valentine’s Day wishlist. Saint Gianna Beretta and her husband Pietro Molla have a touching love story told through their letters to one another throughout their marriage.

7QTF: Of Half-Brithdays, Goals, and My Not Ice-Bucket Challenge

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the rest!

[1]

Today is my half-birthday! Now, I don’t actually celebrate this day as an adult, nor did my family when I was a kid. But I still find it pretty cool to think about how 30 years ago, I was alive in my mother’s womb, at about 12-15 weeks, fully formed, heart beating, brain growing. And Mr. Sweet was alive too! But in his mama’s arms.

[2]

Two years ago on this day, I made a #30till30 board on Pinterest. I decided to name 30 goals I wanted to achieve in the 30 months I had left until I turned 30 in March 2015. How am I doing? Six done, including goal #12, which I pessimistically did not think would happen. But it did. And is sitting on my finger. 🙂  I have 18 to go–many involving reading book series and writing habits. I will admit that there are 5 I will never reach. I’m actually ok with that. Over the past two years, I have realized that goals change, especially if based on relationships. Because relationships change. And people change, including myself. Naturally, what was important to me then may not be important to me now. And some are just not feasible–financially, logistically. But this is ok, too. Not meeting these dream goals (visiting someone in England is a big stretch unless you have the rare combination of high-paying job with generous vacation…) is not a failure. So I will not be disappointed if I can’t tag every goal as “Done!”. Because life is a project always in progress. Plus, there’s always 40 till 40! 😛

[3]

One of those goals is to sell through my print run of my novel. I can’t recall if this goal was formulated before or after the publish date got backed up 5 months or not. But I essentially had 15 months to get it done. Now I have 6. But at this point, I’d be happy to go into reprint, which is at least half. It’d be an amazing half-birthday present if you could help me reach this goal by clicking on this link: My book!

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I’m also putting in some work. In two weeks-ish I will start my leg of Pauline Books and Media’s Back to School Blog Tour!

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I am also a big supporter of Catholic literature. Wednesday I hosted author and friend Nicole Lataif. Check it and her books out!

[6]

 I do not have a bucket of ice. But I do have a paycheck again after two months without. The very first withdrawal is going to the Lenaburg family. They have a GoFundMe account to support the care for their daughter, Courtney. I first “met” Mary and Miss Courtney when I regularly linked to “What I Wore Sunday.”  Mary always had joyful comments for everyone. Courtney faces many medical challenges, and this season of her and her family’s life is the toughest. But through it all, Mary is there with grace and love. So I’m donating to their cause. Won’t you read their blog (her brother’s post is a real tear-jerker; you can’t not ugly cry when reading it) and consider making your Friday sacrifice for this family, who have sacrificed so much? And then please share however you can.

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I also ask you to share because TODAY from 9 pm-10 pm EST, the Lenaburgs are devoting an hour of the 40-hour devotion to the blessed Mother in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Please pray for them tonight.

7QTF: Summertime Happiness

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Linking up with Jennifer and the rest at Conversion Diary!

Last year Lana del Ray’s ‘Summertime Sadness” exploded on the radio. Sadness? in Summer?!?!? People looooove summer–especially here in New England. I’m the weirdo for loving winter and its snow and its bundling up. In the song, the sadness is about losing her fling (I’m guessing). But I get how sometimes people can be sad in the summer–too hot, it’s ending, or something else in their lives means it drags and everything annoys you. Like the sun is just too darn bright and cheery for too long of the day for too many days in a row (can’t we get some cool rain to sip tea and read a book by?), the bugs at the umpteen outdoor events are biting, and it just drags.

But this summer has been different for me. In the words of Pharrell: “Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break/I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space/
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way/Because I’m happy.”

Why?

[1]

I went to the ToB Congress, which inspired me to draft a couple different manuscripts–one of which is on its way to my editor. And “met” the popes.

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[2]

I went to NYC and saw a dear friend, met her new husband, and got inspired to write a 9/11 reflection that I am now shopping around to jumpstart my freelance career. Oh, and “met” Saint John Paul II.

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[3]

I got a much-needed break on my family’s cruise. Mr. Sweet got to come, too!

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[4]

I moved to a beautiful part of New England.

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I started working for a great organization that’s going to help the people in Haiti.

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I’ve gotten interviews to possibly work part-time and earn some extra money [update 9 am: at least one at a bookstore!], because

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I’m engaged!!!! That’s right! Mr. Sweet proposed and I said “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” 😀  It was on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, which is just so special, because our first date was on the Feast of Mary, Untier of Knots, and the first “I love you” came on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was personal, intimate, special, and meaningful. There was no photographer waiting in the wings of some pretty public space; no flash mob; no Youtube video evidence; just me and my groom in the home we will share together after a 2015 wedding.

(for my fiance’s privacy, no headshots)

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I promise not to get too bridal focused on this blog! I want to remain committed to posting about women’s spirituality and issues. Yes, weddings and the sacrament of matrimony fall under that umbrella, so there might be a couple. So if you want a girly wedding fix, visit Stephanie at Captive the Heart.

7QTF: NFP Week

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*Disclaimer: I am away on a cruise and may not have access to update/edit this post or moderate comments. Please be charitable!*

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Perfect post for this week when comparing NFP with artificial contraception. Catholic Sistas on why we DON’T use birth control.

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A great resource on NFP! Plus blog graphs! IUseNFP.

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Like graphics? 1flesh.org has more! Plus, it has stories from real women!

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Like stories? The delightful Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas started a series called Women Speak on NFP. Check them out!

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THIS sounds AWESOME!!!! Women’s Health Care that focuses on the body, not giving you drugs!

[6]

NFP doesn’t mean no kids ever. It’s just a tool to discern your family. It does mean kids. And babies are good things in marriage. Here’s a nice reflection on that one particular phrase of our Catholic marriage vows: http://worthyofagape.com/2014/06/09/accept-children/

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Want a directory for doctors? Here’s a start: http://onemoresoul.com/

7QTF: Praise and Prayers

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the rest!

[1]

Praise for: Alex at Ever Ancient. Her post on making out is excellent food for thought.

Kissing is one of those lines I think every young chaste person wonders about. There is no hard and fast rule because occasion of sin, sin of scandal, etc. can look different within each relationship, because they are dependent on the individuals involved. Now, I’ve read the forum postings; I’m aware there will be challenges in figuring out an intimate relationship if you’ve had no prior experience or different experiences. And I think that’s a big reason most chaste-striving couples might fall or rationalize or justify the line they want to toe: they’re afraid of how hard it will be to negotiate challenges in such a sensitive area once they’ve entered a commitment they can’t renege on. But that’s the way wrong attitude. If you and your future spouse develop a God’s grace-filled attitude toward intimacy, the challenges will hopefully be fun!

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Praise for: Amanda at Worthy of Agape. Amanda is a great new talent in the world of spiritual writing—especially for young women. She and her fiancé are about to enter the holy sacrament of marriage! Congratulations and many blessings. May God’s grace ever fill your union.

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Praise for: Marcus and Diane Guavera. This wonderful couple has started a new ministry for young adults—Thirsting for Truth. I got lost in their blog posts one afternoon. Many great things to say about chastity and living out the faith.

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Prayer request: for the two young widows (Sept. and April) and new mamas whose husbands’ lives were taken from them. [ETA: And my cousin, who lost her husband to a heart attack. He was 56. They have four children.

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Prayer request: for a friend’s young husband who has cancer.

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Prayer request: For Meriam Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to death for professing Christianity. Her baby girl and toddler son are reportedly children of an American citizen, meaning they too, are American citizens. And these little ones are in a third world jail with their mom because the State Department slacked on her spousal visa. #BringBackOurKids.

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Book: It’s May! That means it’s National Celiac Awareness Month! Part of Gloria Jean’s story is to reconcile the notion of the theology of the body—that she can learn about God from her body—when her body can’t even receive God (in the form of bread).

This week Lisa Hendey so awesomely is giving me a guest post over at CatholicMom.com. Go read up on the ways that moving forward we can support our brothers and sisters who have the disease, as well as a call to action for those writerly types who can provide fresh, current information, links, recipes, etc.

7QTF: Catholic Date Ideas

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the others!

[1]

Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast.

(Let the men do the cooking!)

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This is a Google image, not Mr. Sweet.

[2]

Volunteering at with Catholic college’s alumni group to package meals for the homeless.

(Co-workers in the vineyard.)

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[3]

Ordination Mass.

(Definitely puts attending those umpteenth weddings in perspective.)

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My favorite part.

[4]

Living Rosary.

(The couple that prays together…you know the rest.)

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[5]

Touring a beautiful Shrine.

(What do you want to do first: the Stations around the pretty pond or light a candle in the chapel?)

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[6]

And of course, attending Mass.

(Ohmigosh. Hold hands during the Our Father? And how do we do the sign of the peace?)

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[7]

Book: It’s May! That means it’s National Celiac Awareness Month! Part of Gloria Jean’s story is to reconcile the notion of the theology of the body—that she can learn about God from her body—when her body can’t even receive God (in the form of bread).

Obviously, dates involving food could be tricky to navigate for people with severe Celiac and want to avoid cross contamination. Gloria Jean worries about this, but when she’s older and on real dates (spoilers for the moms– of course I have this 14-year-old realize one-on-ones are inappropriate), she’ll have more and more options. A handy dandy list.