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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!

Anna White

Visit 2Day I Choose

Glitchy Blogger!

Hi y'all,I deactivated some older posts today, and Blogger also decided to send out an old post to you. No idea why-sorry!I have been taking a hiatus due to pregnancy illness and I'm also thinking. I'm a very slow thinker. Once I make up my mind I'm ALL. IN. but it sometimes takes a while to get to that point. I am thinking about what I want the future direction of the blog to be and how to integrate my personal writing with my business projects.Hope you are having great summers! I will return to this space soon, when I'm done thinking.You shouldn't get more older posts but if you do I apologize in advance.Anna
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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 2014

Today, I dropped off our Operation Christmas Child Boxes in town…we choose to track our boxes this year… Pippi is hoping the boxes travel to a tropical island or Asia. Fi wants to know why ‘Her Girl’  is not able to come over for a play date. So as the girls sleep with visions of […]
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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

Ordinary 22 Proper 22 Matthew 7:13-14 The Two Paths Roads

This passage is a short saying that people could easily remember. Jesus often used these. He speaks in opposites, in a parallel way. The text may be aligned in the following way.NIVEnter through the narrow gate For                                                                              Butwide is the gate                                                        small is the gateand broad is the road                                               and narrow is the road that leads                                                                  that leads to destruction,                                                          to life and may enter                                                          and only a few through it                                                                  find itNRSVFor                                                                              Forthe gate is wide                                                         gate is narrowthat leads                                                                   that leadsto destruction                                                            to life road is easy                                                                road is hardSo much advice about life has to do with choosing one's path or road or way.  How do we know which is the right or best way? Often we choose based upon the way that most people are going. Have you ever arrived at an appointment or event and did not know exactly where to go? You followed the crowd and hopefully arrived at the right place. However, this is not the direction that Jesus gives. The right way is the narrow gate, the one not easily found; most people do not even bother to look. It is rough, the road is hard.  “For it is one thing to see the Land of Peace from a wooded ridge, and yet another to walk the road that leads to it.”  Augustine of HippoThe Road Not TakenBY Robert FrostTwo roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.


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.  ;)


Visit A Parched Soul

Back Row Moments

Every now and then, it happens. I’m driving home listening to the radio, usually the local NPR or classical stations, and there’s a moment so powerful, so arresting, that I find myself sitting in the driveway, unable to move. Maybe it’s a beautiful piece of music, or a story about an afflicted group of people. Whatever it is, it’s a moment when what I’m hearing is so powerful that it forces me to stop. Forces me to listen. And then moves me to reflect. It’s what the public radio business calls a “driveway moment.” A moment where you’re unable to…
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amy tuttle

Visit a pilgrim's project


dear anyone-who-has-enjoyed-reading-a pilgrim's project,first of all, thank you.secondly, as of today, the shutters will be fastened close around here for awhile.matter of fact, i honestly don't know if i'll ever be back here, as yet.i love to reflect and write about it, but may look to start anew when i start again... until i decide, you may find me at (message me) or at (leave a comment to find my e-mail addy). i've left a few random notes, 16 to be precise, just so you don't feel lonely if you've come for the first time from somewhere else.if/when i begin again, i'll make sure to come back here with a and peace to you, until then...:)