Friday, March 9, 2012

Seven Quick Takes... Spring Edition

So here I am, another 7 Quick Takes.  This time I may even remember to link up my blog over at Conversion Diary instead of just sending my (likely non existent) "readers" over to Jennifer's corner of the world.  Anyway, here it is my Seven Quick Takes spring edition! 

(1) 70 Degrees
It was 70 degrees yesterday.  Readers from other corners of the globe (aka Texans like our QuickTakes Host) may be wondering just why 70 degrees is so exciting.  But it is March in New England, and a 70 degree day is something to be celebrated, even after our mild winter!  Breezy days in the 60s or low 70s are my version of weather heaven.  I'd take 'em 350 days a year.
(2) 350 Days?
Yes, I am fully aware that there are 366 days in the year 2012, and 365 in it's non-leap year counterparts.  But I want 350 days of 65 with sunshine and a breeze, plus a week of beach weather and a week of snow.  Preferably coordinated with my vacation week and Christmas respectively.  

(3) The Winds of Pentecost
Yesterday was very, very, windy here in Western Mass!  But it was also our day to talk about the Holy Spirit at our Alpha follow-up, and my grandmother pointed out that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from Heaven like "a strong driving wind" (Acts 2:2).
(4) Scary Winds
Even with this concept of the Holy Spirit arriving as wind in my mind, the wind is still scary for me.  Ever since the tornadoes and micoburst in WMass last summer, I still get a little nervous every time we have a bad storm, especially one with lots of wind.  It is unfortunate because sitting on the porch and watching a lightning storm used to be one of my friends.  But I'm reminded that if I - a grown adult, who did not physically see the tornado, and was not directly affected by the tornado, and rationally knows how unlikely it is that this area will see another tornado in the near future - am so scared, then I can only imagine what the children who saw their homes, schools, and neighborhoods destroyed feel like.  There is still a lot of healing to be done in this area, and I can only pray it happens quickly. 

(5) Alpha Program
In #3 I mentioned the Alpha program.  It is a great program led by an Anglican clergyman, Nicky Gumbel, and used in Churches throughout the world.  It is used in Anglican, Episcopal, Catholic and non-denominational churches.   Gumbel, has actually spoken to the College of Cardinals on evangelization.  He also has a fabulous British accent which you can hear in all of the videos.  The program has been in my diocese for about 6 years, and is actively expanding to more Churches in our diocese.  It is a great program for evangelization to un-churched individuals, as well as  for a deepening of faith in practicing Catholics/Christians.  I highly recommend the program!  For those of you here in WMass, there is a new program starting in Chicopee after Easter, email me if you want more info!

(6) Super Tuesday
This week was Super Tuesday.  I think the only thing it did was remind me how little faith I have in our politicians.  I am not a very big fan of any of the current candidates.  I wish that for a change we could have leaders who cared about people instead of politics.
(7) Next Steps
I am 8 months into my commitment with Americorps*VISTA.  In many ways I feel like my service is just beginning.  I am just starting to feel as though I am making progress, as if I have things to do which are interesting, and meaningful.  I can't wait to see the direction our project continues to take! And then there is reality.  The reality wherein I realized that I went to a private college.  Have so much college loan debt I want to vomit just thinking about it, and likely can't afford to do another year of service.  And so, it's time to discern my next steps, and decide what happens next, and what direction I want to take with my career and my life.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

Ya'll know the drill.  And just like Jennifer over at Conversion Diary, my quick takes are likely to be more scattered than normal.  And there will probably be some random links to various places on the web!

(1) Back In High School
Today I went and presented at a local high school.  It has brought on anxiety and bad memories all week.  Even a nightmare yesterday.  And no I didn't have a scarring high school experience, this was all based on the realization that I am SO HAPPY I am no longer a high school teacher. 
(2) It wasn't the kids 
 My hatred of teaching HS wasn't about the kids. In fact I loved them.  Were I the school counselor or campus minister, or an advisor, or in some other position that didn't require me formally teaching, I'd probably still be working in a high school.  But the teaching itself I wasn't a fan of, and the anxiety that accompanied I really didn't like.  I was miserable.  And so I'm not teaching anymore. 

(3) Anxiety
 No big surprise from the last two quick takes that I've been having some anxiety issues lately.  This isn't something particularly new for me.  I was diagnosed with depression more than five years ago, and also have general anxiety.  So when I say I'm anxious I don't just mean nerves, or fear, or being afraid to speak in front of people, as a lot of people assume. It's not always the most pleasant problem to encounter, but in the end it's just part of who I am.  We all have abilities and disabilities and areas for growth - this is mine. (Note: I love public speaking, so #1 had nothing to do with a public speaking fear).
(4) Courage
Even here in the 21st century, talking about Mental Illness can be fairly taboo.  While the days of mental institutions and such are behind us, society often looks down upon people who are battling mental illnesses.  I need to give a big shout out to, two fabulous young women who have used their blogs as a platform to help disspell some of these myths.  Emmy Cecelia over at Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer has discussed anxiety multiple times on her blog, and Hannah Katy of and More Love Letters wrote an excellent post last week on depression, which can be found here.  Kudos ladies, and thanks for taking the time to address a topic so many people sweep under the rug!

(5) Next
This has been the recent topic of my thoughts. Next. As in, what comes next.  I'm not sure exactly what the answer is, but I hope you will join me in praying for whatever comes next on my Journey.

(6) WSU fights the WBC
Last week, rumors expected the Westboro Baptist Church to arrive here in Massachusetts, to protest at a soldier's funeral in Westfield, MA.  On less than 24-hours notice, a group of students from Westfield State University organized a Peaceful Counterprotest against the expected church members.  The WBC didn't end up showing up (Praise God!) but I am still very impressed with the WSU students for their swift organization, and their reminder to everyone involved that their job was to quietly and respectfully support the bereaving family - they were to be a "human shield" against the Church's hatred, not create a scene themselves.

(7) That said...
If I ever encounter someone from the WBC I probably will end up causing a scene.  This is a "christian" Church which preaches hatred! It is these types of organizations that give a bad name to Christians everywhere, in my mind this organization is to Christianity what extremists in the Middle East are to Islam.  The WBC is no more representative of true Christian teaching, than the Taliban is of the true teachings of the Muslim faith.  They are crazy radicals who try to use religion to teach hatred.  And while the WBC is not killing or sending out suicide bombers, their protests are still problematic and hateful.  I'm not sure how any Church which teaches that "God loves you" is a lie, can consider themselves Christian.  All I know is they need to read up on their Bible - they obviously missed John 3:16, Romans 5:8, and countless other verses about God's love for us!