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7QTF: Points of View

'7 Quick Takes Friday' is a sharing situation generously started by Jen Fulwiler who blogs at 'Conversion Diary' and who also writes a column for the National Catholic Register.Anyone participating in this blogging exercise submits a link of their post to Jen's site (so the traffic at Jen's blog might rub off on your own), and link back to Jen's post from here (where, besides Jen's great blog, you'll find a delightful list of other blogs to choose from for your reading pleasure).Here's today's offering:7 Points of View... 1.picture found hereOutside My Window: Is a world with which I find myself increasingly at odds... yet one with which I feel an almost desperation to connect. A funny paradox, that.I wonder how Christ handled this... in as much as he could see into the heart of our humanity, His divinity must have left Him feeling very much at odds... and yet because of that same divinity and humanity, he was obviously driven by who he was to connect with us.I live on a very busy street corner, in a largely economically depressed area of my city. My window affords me a view I don't always want to see, yet I'm grateful for it, because I am never allowed to forget who I am created to be, and in whose name I am called.My window shows me a world that needs my faith and compassion... I respond to the invitation... and I pray.2.In My Mind's Eye: When I was first learning to drive I found it impossible to keep the car literally in my own lane, and on the road, until my Dad offered a simple observation: "Don't look at the front of the car, look to where you are going."Though he doesn't realize it, my Dad gave me more than a driving lesson that day... I came to understand my life will reflect that toward which I consistently turn my gaze. Items which caught my gaze this week, and which I continue to ponder in the context of my own life, include:At Accepting Abundance (isn't that blog name just the best... anybody else besides me have trouble doing just that?!):"...when I focus on what transcends me I'm free from what misguides me."Emerging Mummy speaks to my on-going struggle to give voice to the deepest groanings of my heart and soul:"...let Love be my first language, my mother tongue whether its communicated in English or a thousand tongues for only angels to hear." Shut. Up.At Love is A Place: "Going is important, not arriving.""Women are stronger than abortion, and we ought to help them be strong rather than sell them on their weakness."At Secret Vatican Spy: "Sin does not define you... Newsflash? The waters of baptism, the redemptive power of Christ, and the continuing call to repentance are what defines you."3.picture found hereBeside Myself: An aspect of the blogosphere that I am having trouble negotiating are those issues and topics that upset and, sometimes, literally TRASH  my equilibrium... but to which I am inexorably drawn... like a moth to a flame. These are issues I carry deeply in my soul... issues over which I weep, lose sleep... and, rightly or wrongly, the altar upon which I sacrifice peace. And that's why I can't talk about them just yet... I haven't found my love language in which to speak the words I need to say, such they are heard by those who most need to hear them. For now I'll just point with trembling hand:Sex Offender Targets Christian Women BloggersThe Two-Minus-One PregnancyI wouldn't have aborted the twin had s/he been conceived naturally, not via IVFMy Fertility Crisis4.picture found hereUnderneath My Bed:School looms on the imminent horizon - there are only ten days left until I have six hours a day all to myself and... honestly... I'm dreading it. I know that sounds bizarre to those of you who have several children, but I love the happy bubble the Divine Miss O and I create together. I struggle when she's at school: I hate that I don't really know what or who is writing on her mind and heart. Even though she is only beginning second grade, we know that there is a lot that won't be good for her tender soul, and which will bruise her budding sensibilities.... it's taken a good part of the summer to erase the harm from last year. Sigh.The Divine Miss O had a very difficult year and we, her parents, had a horrible year doing all we could to make it less so. Yet she LOVES school (you wouldn't believe the explaining I had to do when she realized she could have started at age 4)... even though it raises her anxiety level to the point of making her physically ill. Yet... we have new strategies in place, the school is aware and prepared to be more supportive and attentive to our concerns, prayers have been said to cover every aspect of concern, and off to school she will go.I stopped checking for monsters under my bed when I realized they were inside me... I also realized... so are the knights who slay them.5.picture found hereBehind My Back:This isn't a viewpoint I normally spend a lot of time thinking about (and one which most people usually perceive as negative), but it's been an interesting summer. My perceptions of myself, my daughter, Catholicism, the church, my faith, people I thought I knew have been challenged and, surprisingly, found to be somewhat different than I considered... in primarily good and delightful ways. Much has been going on behind my back of which I've failed to take notice.So, I'm inclined to ask myself: "What is it I am eally seeing here (doing my best to suspend the judgements which rise so readily)?" "What is really going on when I'm not looking?" "To what am I paying attention?" "Does that to which I attend reflect my priorities?"I don't have clear answers to these questions as such, but I'm going to be exploring them here. I'll keep you posted (pun intended). 6.picture found hereAtop My Night Table:I read to challenge, myself, entertain myself, escape, inform, grow. Books have always been my very best friends, my consolation, my joy. Books are touchstones in my life. Every August I place an Amazon order for books I want to read over the course of the next year starting in September. My order arrived this week!Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner, Jr.Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Promise of God by David ShapiroThe Man With No Skin by Orfhlaith Ni ChonaillWomen, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Everything by Geneen RothLove in the Ruins by Walker PercySeventy Times Seven by Salvatore SapienzaThe Harrowing of Hell by Stephen SealThe New Pilgrim's Progress by John BunyanFascinating Womanhood by Helen AndelinThree Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (now a bit suspect, and marginally less attractive: check this out: Questions Over Greg Mortenson's Stories)Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Connor GrennanMistress of the Vatican by Eleanor HermanRediscover Catholicism by Matthew KellyTurbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family by Stephen J. DubnerThe Church and the New Media: Blogging Converts, Internet Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet by Brandon Vogt7. From Within My Heart:"Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live."Attributed to JACQUELINE WINSPEARA few things for which I am grateful this week:a good natured and loving husband a healthy, GROWING daughter my sense of humour that somehow I'm going into the weekend with my laundry all caught up choices (have you ever noticed how some people have so few?) kittens everybody I love is alive and well... others haven't been so blessed music the moon keeping watch supermarkets raspberries fresh figs tomatoes stories my body, even in all its imperfections the wonder that is the Internet, and bloggers in general ...all to the soundtrack of my week: Love Reclaims the Atmosphere by Burlap to Cashmere:"Send blessings to your critics and careful with the least of theseRelease the prisoners free... today we'll crucify the fear as love reclaims the atmosphere"...until the next dance!
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Sue Palmer

Visit A Contemplative Space

Sometimes ...

Sometimes I need a burst of fire in my ashy day,A light to draw me in,A prayer to pray.

Amber Rugan

Christmas In The Country Surprise

Boss Man handed me a packaged as he stomped in the back porch, covered in a day’s worth of cattle grime.  I smiled, wondering what he had done….then I spied the With a confused laugh, I asked if he had bought me something from…nope. Boss Man accused me of shopper’s amnesia. In the […]
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You're Not a Writer!

I can feel the sting as if it were yesterday, those words that cut deep down into my soul. “You’re not a writer and you shouldn’t even think of yourself as a writer.” I was 18, unable to utter a single word. I just stood there as he placed the paper back into my hands with an F in red pencil written at the top. I’ll never forget that feeling, the feeling of what little self-esteem I had being sucked out and thrown in the trash can. Just one year earlier as a senior in high school, my Comp II teacher had given me an A for the class and had submitted one of my papers to a young writer’s publication. I was so proud and confident of myself and excited about even being considered a writer. I had always loved to write stories, poems and my thoughts down on paper. So having a paper submitted and my teacher acknowledging that I was good enough gave my confidence the boost it needed. How did I go from excitement to humiliation?It was a class that the college I attended required all freshmen to take. The class was called “Liberal Arts” and was led by a panel of 6-8 professors from different departments of the college. Each professor then was over a group of students. They would mentor and grade the papers and exams for their particular group. Various topics were discussed in class. There was a lot of reading and many papers that were written. The group of students that I was placed in was led by a professor from the Science department, a chemistry professor. He was arrogant and behaved as if it was a complete waste of his time to be involved with the class. I had worked so hard on that paper and because it was college I felt that I deserved a B or at the least a C on it.I walked away with tears in my eyes. The words playing over and over in my head, “You’re not a writer.” My mom worked at the college in the business office and so I walked over to see her. I needed her words of assurance and asked her to read my paper. She read it and told me to go see one of the English professors to get their opinion. The next day I mustered up the courage and walked into the English department and asked to see a professor. The professor I spoke to was also a member of the panel from the class. I explained to her the situation and asked if she would read my paper, knowing that it wouldn’t get the grade changed but I needed to know if it was true, that I had no talent for writing.She read the paper, looked at me and told me that I was talented. That the grade I received was in no way equal to the grade I deserved. She couldn’t change the grade but she did change me to another group. That was 30 years ago and the pain of that moment is still embedded in my soul. I’ve never been able to let go of those words that pierced me so deeply. A little voice still speaks, “You’re not a writer.”Words fill my mind and they float around like snow in a shaken snow globe just wanting to be released. I jot down thoughts and reflections in journals but when I sit down and place my hands above the keyboard of my computer that little voice begins to speak, “You’re not a writer” and I pull my hands away. Fear grips me and I’m 18 again and the feeling of self-doubt comes over me. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not a writer. A few years ago I went to God seeking answers to questions that I had regarding my life. It was an afternoon that I found myself sitting next to a lake and opening up my mind and soul to hear God speak to me. He did and during that conversation God said something that I didn’t quite understand. God told me to write. He told me to write and write and write and that many people would read my words. I had no idea what he meant. Write what? Did he want me to write a book, devotions, letters, articles…? Over the next few weeks I did try to write but every time I would sit down I would hear those old familiar words, “You’re not a writer” and I would stop.The dream of being a writer never left me. I tucked it deep down inside where only I knew where it was. Last year I attended the Refresh My Heart Conference and was blessed to share a room with Michelle DeRusha and Jen Sandbulte. Michelle was in the process of writing a book and I sat in that room listening to her talk, about agents, publishers and the highs and lows of writing. It was exciting and I hung on every word she spoke. The dream I had of writing began to resurface.And this past summer during lunch with my best friend from high school, who was back for our class reunion, I shared with her that one of my dreams is that someday I would love to write a book, a dream that I have only shared with my husband and couple of other people. Last week as I was writing my sermon on the topic of loving your enemies, I asked myself if I had any enemies. The person, who came to mind, was the professor who gave me that F, 30 years ago. Why is it that I have allowed the words of a professor to speak louder to me then the words of God? The words from the One who created me, who gave me my gifts, my calling, who loves me unconditionally, are the words I push away. Why do we allow others to shatter our dreams when the dreams we have are God’s dreams for us? Over 30 years I have hung on to the dream of being a writer. I’ve purchased more pretty journals and notebooks then I can count. Opening them up, staring at the blank pages and then closing them shut. Too afraid to put pen to paper, that what I would write someone would read. And when I would finally write I would rip out the pages, tear them in half and throw them in the trash. Each time hearing the words, “You’re not a writer.” Those words have haunted me for 30 years while fear grips. Fear of criticism, rejection and fear of it being true. And all the while God continues to say, “Write your words. Tell your story.” The only way to conquer the fear is to look it straight in the face, stand before it and claim victory, by picking up a pen, writing down words and leaving the pages in the book. So I take my red leather journal off the shelf, open the cover, take my pen and begin to write. Writing the words that have been filling my mind as my pen flows across the page like a skater on ice, making lines and curves as the letters form words.I may never write a book but I will continue to keep the dream alive. And those words that stung my soul 30 years ago have begun to fade away and grow quiet as God smiles and says to me, “You’re a writer.”Blessings,JIll
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Kristina Stiffler

Visit A Joy Walk

A Microphone and a Stage: the Perfect 13th Birthday Party

The day started off with a two hour delay thanks to yet another MN blizzard, but before I was even out of bed, my phone beeped, announcing an email's arrival, and school was canceled.Not one minute later, Megan charged into our bedroom on the morning of her 13th birthday and hurriedly announced her stress about the day, and her plans for the party, and how will everyone be delivered?Can you drive them, mom, pick them  up? Can you? Can you?She fussed and pounded out texts and hurried around and I just wanted a few more minutes of blizzard gifted sleep.I didn't even wish her a happy birthday.When she first began planning her epic dance party, oh, something like four months ago, she talked of our large kitchen, and moving the table out and turning off the lights and playing music, and I knew this house wasn't big enough for her dreams.Our living room is postage stamp small. It's filled to the brim with just a sofa and loveseat. The kitchen is large, but not for 13 13 year olds and their energy and drama and giggles.So off to church we went, armed with balloons and some accidentally matching table clothes I bought years ago. It was, thankfully, the last day of Robb's 2 week stint of unemployment, and my daycare kids were napping. Somehow, all the girls from the 7th grade came, save one with family plans, and two from the 8th. they braved icy roads and a mean wind, but they made it.They ate walking tacos and hovered around the chocolate fountain. Mitchell played DJ with Megan's compilation of YouTube music videos and took requests - his dream come true. Everyone got their mic and stage time for Karaoke which included my own three singing "Radioactive". I would show you a video of how gifted my kids are, but my phone had no more space for a video. Of course.I did get this photo of my kids teaching everyone the levan polka and also numa numa. Good times. They just make me giggle with happiness.There was only one instance of teen tears in the bathroom, which was easily fixed with smoothies made by my very own barista husband. The chocolate fountain went baserk at one point, spinning chocolate everywhere, but I did I hear something about "best party ever" and "how will I top this next year?" so I think I can safely assume the party was a success in the eyes of the giggly, dramatic, karaoke singing, pyramid making teens.Win!
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Kelly Yates

Last Epiphany Year A Transfiguration Sunday Matthew 17:1-9 Exodus 24:12-18

There are two places in the Gospels where the disciples experience the full glory of Jesus. This is one; the other is the resurrection.Jesus, on the mountain, like Moses in Exodus 24, encounters the glory of the father. The people cannot bear to witness Moses' face so he wears a veil. But the disciples look on the face of Jesus during the encounter and after. Jesus has revealed the power and presence of God in the flesh, something Moses could not do. Yet here we find Moses again!Some questions that arise from this passage:1. How did Peter know it was Moses and Elijah? Jews did not carve statues of their leaders nor did they paint pictures of him. The only thing he could base their identity on was the prophecies.2. Why did Peter want to build tabernacles for the three? Did he think he could keep them right there forever?3. Why did Jesus only let three of his disciples view this and not the 12?4. Why were the disciples afraid when the voice said This is my beloved son. Was it particularly loud? How did they know it was God's voice? Did God's voice sound anything like Jesus' voice?5. Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anyone about this incident?


The Green One

In Psalm 52:8 it states "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.  I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever."Did you ever wonder why the color of the olive tree would matter?  Well you wouldn't be the only one if you did.  The green tree is the emblem of prosperity.  It has been kept unharmed like a green and flourishing tree that would have been in the courts of the sanctuary.  And most importantly it is safe and under the care and the eye of God.  That is why the Psalmist and us desire to be the green ones.  Knowing that the steadfast love of God is able to be acknowledged when we are in God's care.
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Lisa Phelps

Visit A Moment with God

Come Out of the Cave

"There he came to a cave, where he spent the night."But the lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”~1 Kings 19:9-13 NLTElijah had just witnessed the power and strength of His God.  Fire fell from Heaven and burned up the sacrifice, the altar, and all the water surrounding the altar.  The false prophets were destroyed and their god revealed as fake.  What an amazing victory!  Yet now Elijah is afraid, running for his life, and hiding in a cave.Have you ever been in a cave?   Are you living in one now? Caves are dark.  Things that we would never be afraid of during the day seem terrifying in the dark.  We hear things in the dark we don’t even notice when it is light.  Darkness amplifies our fears.Caves offer poor reception.  Have you ever tried to use your cell phone in a cave?  It’s hard to call for help when you can’t get a signal.  Everything seems louder in a cave.  Sound waves reflect off the walls and repeat back to the listener, seemingly louder each time.  God is calling you to come out of the cave.  Stand before Him on the mountain and listen for His gentle whisper.  He’s closer than you think.  Many Blessings,PS - I know my header is missing.  If you're focused on that, then you're missing the point.  ;)
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amy tuttle

Visit a pilgrim's project

Reflections of Goodness... {observed}

In my last post, I hoped to set a mood for my reflections, reminding me/us that really my/our aim ought to be to give thanks for it all. Even as we hope to do and be better tomorrow, next week, next year. In reflection then, on the year 2013 as a whole, I list here only a few of Gods acts of Goodness shown to us this year...Visits from family. Due to the nature of our life and work here, we can't travel to be with family and friends as often as we'd like. It's huge when people make the sacrifice to come and spend time with us and have an interest in our lives. Sometimes, we miss the life we would have had, had we not chosen to give these years to God and His work. God is SO good to us by sending us visitors.Short-term workers & teams. Every single one has been a HUGE blessing from the Lord. Every person who has come to serve us or alongside of us, has been God's medium for immense encouragement both personally and spiritually.The privilege to continue homeschooling. Hah! Can this be due to God's goodness? Yesiree! Sometimes it's hard and overwhelming. Often, it's lonely and a seemingly thankless task. However, apart from marriage, I can think of few other modi operandi that are more radically and altogether sanctifying. Seriously. I do want to become like Christ in the worst way. And someday, as we carry on, I will most likely even feel some extreme satisfaction (I notice occasional fleeting traces even now). My kids are such cool people. I am truly thankful that I am able and allowed to homeschool, and that God continues to give grace in my extreme imperfection at doing so. My Beloved is a gift. Through him, I regularly experience God's goodness. Both in the way of foot rubs and the like, as well as the many opportunities our relationship affords for growth in grace. :) Same goes for all my children. God has been SO good to us.Construction. Over this past year, we've made a lot of little progresses rendering daily life a little less bumpy and dusty. Such as plaster and paint on all the walls and ceilings of our living spaces and poured cement floors (as opposed to dirty, sandy floors). Mind you, this was accomplished at no small cost as we were completely displaced for more than a month. However, you can only imagine my extremely thankfulness when all the work and the workers were done and gone. :) Notwithstanding the discomfort in the meantime, I am thankful the Lord provided the necessary means and the resolve (not entirely mine own, mind you) to get these projects done. I am even more thankful for the fruits of this labor. I thank the Lord for all the little things; painted walls, fastened light fixtures, no more gaping holes in the ceilings wherein tarantulas dwell. A moderate though fluctuating sense of steady in the daily living category. This has been gifted through a continual plodding onwards, one little project at a time, a shelf on the wall here, or in the closet there, bookshelves, an organization binge or two over there, etc. God has given HUGE doses of grace to keep me sane in the midst. Especially considering I had to start over from zero late this summer, on returning from my trip, a week before school was supposed to begin, three weeks before receiving a visitor, etc., etc. It was a powerful and gracious God who sustained me, there could have been no other help sufficient.“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.” I am so, so thankful for this growing reminder of goodness that kicks my insides. I just laugh now, as I begin to feel more and more like Sarah imagining having a child in her old age. I know that I'm not ancient. Don't scold. However, the rest of our children are getting on in years and there will now be a sizable gap between our fifth and sixth. No matter. I shall be young at heart. I shall feel more like Hannah than Sarah. In retrospect, I am even thankful for the sheer struggle I had with anxiety and entrusting this little one to Him in the early months. He led me to His feet once again, and there is no sweeter place. ::I still hope to reflect more specifically on my homeschooling year. What I've learned as a person and teacher-guide, as well as what we've learned and implemented in our school... I'll be posting that over at Fisher Academy. Hopefully, that will happen sometime tomorrow. We wrapped up term exams on Saturday, and I'm almost done with Term Planning today. It may yet be possible!{This post is in keeping with the Reflective Mood I have been promoting here & here. If you too are reflecting on 2013 click over to see if you'd qualify to enter my giveaway for a 2014 Art Calendar. Linky closes 12/31 @ midnight.}