A Single Girl’s Prayer

From the looks of things lately my career is starting to get back on track, after six months of floundering. This is nice for me.

But what becomes difficult for me is that when everything else in my life is going well, it leaves me time to contemplate my loneliness.

Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing friends, and a loving and supportive family. But I am single, and there are times when I get very deeply lonely, I miss the love and support of a real relationship, something I have never known.

So I composed this prayer. Like most of my prayers it’s a little bit irreverent.

Dear Lord, please grant me the patience to wait for my husband
I know I am impatient to meet him.
I know that this must happen in your time not mine
But maybe send him in enough time that we can have our time
Before it’s baby time

Grant me the strength to sit at a bar by myself
And not accept drinks from sketchy dudes because I am lonely
Usually such dudes do not even want to get dinner
And I am better than that
However, also grant me the clarity to tell the difference
Between the sketchy dudes, and the ones who are just shy
Or maybe just had too many shots that night

Also please keep me away from shots.
Generally, that prevents a lot unwanted behavior

Please give me compassion on first dates
First dates are awkward for everyone
So it’s OK if it isn’t perfect
Also, grant me grace to hold my tongue
And maybe not talk about Batman the whole night

Give me the confidence to order real food
For you gave us the gift of carbohydrates, oil and fire
Thus french fries are a glorious gift from you, and should be treated as such
You also created lettuce, but I’m pretty sure it was Satan that decided people should consider chicken Caesar salad a meal

Please place me in the path of a good, kind man
The kind of man who isn’t afraid to admit he watched The OC, and is nice to his mother and sisters
The kind of man who is either taller than I, or doesn’t care if I’m taller than he in my super high heels
The kind of man who loves that I watch football on Sunday, but doesn’t expect me to know the name of every guy on the field
Let him drink beer, but know what kind of wine he likes and not use “gay” as a term for “stupid”
Let him love or at least be open to the music of Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffet, and humor me when it comes to Madonna and Lady Gaga

Please Lord, let him love me
Let him love my sour moods and my laughter
Let him love you, and my love for you.
And finally Lord, grant me the clarity to know when it’s him.
Don’t let me walk away.

Amen

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Turn Me On, I’m A Radio

Months ago I would have laughed at you. Last year, I would have dismissed the very idea. But a few weeks ago, in very little bits, I started listening to Christian radio. It doesn’t hold first position on my dial, but it has a spot on my presets. In fact, this station provides some needed refreshment.

Like many of us, my commute takes me through the same locations twice a day. My coffee may vary in temperature. I could be less tired than the day before. Sometimes the sun hides behind a cloud or doesn’t rise until I have parked. But my daily ritual remains unchanged.

The radio is the great variable, my tool to an enlightening ride. For most of my life I have taken pleasure listening to the radio. I have even gone so far as to install a shortwave receiver in my car so I can pick up broadcasts from around the world. Unlike print or television, radio acts a companion on the journey. Distant outposts broadcasting exciting new music on long trips, sometimes offering just the right song, or conversations that might expose some new insight or point of view. I sincerely believe in the transformative power of radio.

Mostly I listen to the morning news to catch up on the stories that work or life precluded me from following. Aside from “college radio”, real variety is limited since a number of stations play some form of rotation whose selections differ solely based on genre.

I have found that the most promising stations are often out of range, in a foreign language, or on the AM band. And since I can only get reliable shortwave reception at night, I decided to give K-Love a shot.

Since I was surprised at the content and tempo of the songs, I could only listen for a minute or two at a time. Returning to contemporary music and talk provided a comfort rooted in familiarity. In honesty, I was not used to hearing the promise of God’s love or other Christian themes presented with such cheer and simplicity. After listening for a week or so I made a discovery: I had forgetting the need to trust in God.

Our maker has made mankind promises, it is contingent upon each person satisfying mankind’s commitment. The covenants of the Hebrew Scriptures form three concentric circles. God promises His presence, love, and gifts, in successive order, to man, his family, and his people in exchange for man’s trusting obedience in Divine Providence. Scripture repeatedly illustrates that God keeps his end of the bargain.

Our own concerns easily make this message unnecessarily complex. We approach the guarantee of God’s love with exceptions, scenarios, and what-ifs attempting to find some gap. In His goodness, God will not exclude someone for his fault. God isn’t the IRS or some cranky librarian. He loves us, accepts us, and welcomes us back home.

A New Kind of Anger

I’ve spent the past week being very, very angry. Angry in a way that I’ve only been a few times before in my life. I’m feeling deeply hurt and betrayed and I don’t know where else to go with it but here, so I want to apologize to all of you for this rant.

Apparently, I’m not supposed to be receiving communion any more, and I’m meant to be excommunicated.

I didn’t receive this week, because I was so angry I couldn’t even bring myself to go to Mass.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s what it is, a document written by The Holy Father was released this past week, which basically stated that supporting marriage equality was a grave sin and that such support meant a member of the congregation shouldn’t be receiving communion.

This makes me sick.

I do support marriage equality. I support it deeply and wholeheartedly. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with the fact that so large a part of the population in this country are denied basic civil rights. I don’t believe that gay couples should be able to receive the sacrament of matrimony (and to be frank, don’t know any gay couples that are interested in receiving it) but under the eyes of the law, they should be equal.

It’s wrong that it’s denied to people. It’s wrong that when my director and choreographer from my high school musicals, two women who have been together for nearly fifteen years, adopted their children they had to create iron clad legal agreements, in case, God forbid something happened to one of them (the one who is legally the mother of their little girl and boy) no one could try to take them away from the other. It’s wrong that my uncles, who celebrated their twenty second anniversary this past year, and who own two homes and a business together, have to pay double the taxes that a hetero sexual couple in their situation have to pay.

This is wrong. I don’t care. I’m done being quiet about it. I’m done biting my tongue around my devout Catholic friends and my hyper conservative friends. It’s a betrayal to my friends and family who are homosexual. It’s a betrayal to my uncles, who took me in to their home this past year, purely out of love, to my friend who is transgender and has been one of the deepest supporters of my writing over the past six months, and to countless other people in my life and not in my life.

I’m also done wrestling with my conscience on this issue. I am a Catholic, and I love The Church. I will continue to go to Mass, and I will continue to receive. I will not judge, I cannot judge. Love is love and that’s the end of it for me.

Happy Belated Birthday!

So it seems that Cherie is the only one of us who posted on our 1st Birthday and I’m pretty disappointed in myself since I had been reminding myself all week to post.  Tonight I became inspired though, so better two days late than never.

Tonight was the first night of my young adult ministry’s book study.  While we only read the introduction to the book so far, I was already amazed at how inspiring the introduction was.  We are reading Blessed Are the Bored in Spirit By Mark Hart.  As we listened to the audio book and he spoke of his struggle, the struggle in society, and what we do about it, it inspired me to think about my own personal struggles.  After the introduction ended, I could feel a profound silence and feel the reflection going on within and around me.  We then delved into discussion (a little too early in my opinion, but it was fine) and I realized that we all have such similar struggles that take on different shapes and forms.  Lately I’ve been hearing all sorts of testimonies and amazing stories that have inspired me and made me want to change my sinful habits, but when it came down to it, I still couldn’t change my choice.  Not couldn’t…I guess it’s wouldn’t.  I could talk the talk–and I spoke it well–but I was having trouble walking the walk.  I would declare my changes and speak out to my friends, but when it came time to speak up where it mattered, I have been having a really tough time.  I’m trying to take little steps, but I’m realizing the only way to change is to change all the way.  It will have to be one extra large super sized step and I am terrified.  Mark Hart spoke about people wanting to be liked and not respected.  I fit in there perfectly.  All this time I’ve been wanting people to like me, smoothing things over where I feel I need to, that I forget that by being myself and standing up for what I believe, I may make enemies, but why would I want to be friends with anyone who doesn’t accept me as I am?  It’s going to be difficult, but I want to be brave.  Pray for me so that I may be a braver Catholic and act more confident and less like a coward.  It seems the closer I am to someone, the harder it is to potentially let them down.  But I don’t want to be let down so I’m going to change my life.  And if I don’t, you’ll all just have to keep praying for me.

Love you and God Bless!

Juli

Oh, and Happy Birthday C.C. 🙂

Go See Looper. Now. I’ll Wait.

I saw Looper this weekend, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the protagonist at different points in his timeline. I expected an action flick with a possible undercurrent of sci-fi (time travel is central to the premise)n and there was enough action to satisfy anyone’s appetite for destruction. What I did not expect was the significance of the film. I walked out of the theater with an appreciation for all I have in life and some food for thought regarding human nature. I’ve been processing it since Saturday night and decided it’s definitely something I’d like to discuss on this blog, but since the movie just came out, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. So go see it now, while I mull over the contents of my post. I promise, it’s worth your while.

“A Person’s A Person, No Matter How Small”

I’m currently in the ensemble of a community theatre production of Seussical. Seussical is (predicably) based on the collective works of Theodore Giesel or Dr. Seuss. Primarily, the plot weaves together the twin tales of Horton The Elephant (Horton Hears a Who and Horton Sits on An Egg) with The One Feathered Tail of Gertrude McFuzz and The Better Butter Battle. 

Whenever I think about Horton Hears  A Who, I start thinking about God’s love for the individual. (I think about God’s love for the individual a lot of the time.)

The line “a person’s a person no matter how small,” is a nugget sized philosophy for the idea of the soul. Your soul is the essence of yourself, so therefore, it is what God loves. God loves the soul, and recognizes the soul of the human being.

A person’s a person no matter how small.

It’s a such a simple thing and yet so hard to forget. I’ve decided to start using it for meditation. I pray through meditation almost daily My meditation is kind of off beat. I use random phrases, like mantras in yoga devotion, music that speaks to me spiritually (Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands” usually makes an appearance, “Christmas Lullabye” from Songs For A New World also) and the Rosary.

So, for the next week when I sit down and breath in and out and focus on God and quiet my mind, and one of the things I will focus on will be “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Taking good advice…

…is a great decision.

Painted this today on Juli’s advice from last night!

I’m going to make it in this job. I think I’ll have enough time/sanity to write an actual post about it this weekend, but tonight I believe that I can make it happen. That’s a small miracle in its own right.

Daily Essentials Checklist

After having a wonderfully long conversation with Cherie this evening I realized that there are a few key components to our day that people tend to forget (myself included) and I got to thinking and have complied this list of essentials for daily life – aka things I believe are important to do/remember/think about during the day.

1. Pray.  I don’t think I could say this enough.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in our lives and we need to remember to do it daily, especially on days when we don’t have time for it.  Think that’s contradictory?  It’s not.  When we are overwhelmed and stressed and don’t have time for anything we really need God the most.  God is the one who is in control and by reaching out to Him we will attain the peace we need in our day.  Which brings me to number 2…

2. God has a plan for each and every one of us.  This seems so matter of fact but you know the saying “If you want to make God laugh, make plans”?  It’s absolutely true.  Plans change; people change; things happen; we are never in control – God is.

3. We can do all things through Christ.  God has a plan for us.  Sometimes we may think we cannot handle His plan, but He would never give us anything we cannot handle.  He knows us better than we know ourselves which means He knows what we can handle.  But what He also knows is that we can’t handle it without Him.  We need to “let go and let God” a lot more.  Give Him our struggles, our insecurities, our crosses to bear.  He is so much better equipped to handle it which is why we need to remember to pray (see #1).

4. Take a breather.  We need to allow time for ourselves every once in awhile.  Find something that you can do to relieve the stresses of a busy day like painting,

painting really helps me

painting really helps me

or reading, or playing a game, or watching tv or singing, or dancing, or exercising…anything you love and that makes you happy that can bring you away from what you’re experiencing, but also helps you work through it.  This could also be prayer or spiritually related.  It can be anything you want it to be!  Get creative, think outside the box!  (leave suggestions in the comments)

5. Talk to a loved one.  Again, this can be God, prayer counts as talking to a loved one…NEVER forget that God loves YOU.  He gave up His only son for me and for you and nothing could ever replace that.  For some of us though, talking to a family member or friend can be extremely relaxing and helpful and a good way to relieve the stress of the day as well.

You Are Loved!

You Are Loved!

This is a short beginning to the list and I invite everyone to add other suggestions in the comments.  It is so important that we keep each other in our prayers as well and remember that God is there for us and we are there for each other.  Feel free to call or email me if you ever need to talk!!

God Bless, Juli

Confidently.Catholic@gmail.com

Prayer

I was at church this morning and during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass I somehow started praying and sort of whining to God about something in my life that I was pretty conflicted about…well, still am conflicted about, but that’s not the point.  After I looked up and then at my watch, a man came over and asked if I was okay.  I responded “I’m fine” a little too loud for Exposition and he probably knew I was lying (especially since I’m sure I had appeared to be crying, even though there were no tears).  I felt a bit guilty after that, especially since he was just being nice.  He held out a bag of Rosaries (Rosary’s?) and told me to choose one, that they had already been blessed.  I was confused, but it seemed that he had been giving them out to everyone that was there.  Then he told me he’d pray for me and asked me to pray for him.  I said ‘yes’ and asked his name.  His name is Ray (I think, I may have heard wrong, but I did repeat it and introduce myself as well).  The Rosary beads he was handing out had information on the back of the cardboard they were attached to about missionaries in Africa and I realized that my problems were so much smaller than others out there.  I started to think about how insignificant what I had been praying about was and maybe that was God’s answer to me…that I needed to stop dwelling on things we can’t change and worry about the things we can.  I left for work after that (and clocked in at exactly 9:00) but I held on to the Rosary all day, thinking about how blessed I really am and how I need to move forward and be happy with my life which is actually really good right now.  I hope this little story might have helped someone else, but I’m mostly glad that it helped me and showed me that God is truly among us.  So pray for me, and pray for Ray, and I’ll pray for all of you.

Love you and God Bless,

Juli

Taking Wing

God gave me my voice.

I think about that every time I open my mouth to sing.

I’m a good singer, I could have been great, but I was not a very disciplined teenage. To be great at anything you have to be disciplined, but to be great at music you have to be practically single minded.

But I loved to sing. I was uncomfortable in my own skin as a teenager, and singing was an escape from that. I could get lost in a song, be someone else for three or four minutes.

I wasn’t Reenie, the chubby teenager from New Jersey when I sang. I was Anna Leanowens, teaching the princes and princesses of Siam, I was Diana Morales fighting for her spot in a Broadway chorus, I was Fantine calling Valjean to heaven with her.

God gave me my voice.

As I got better, I stretched more. I sang “art songs.” There were no characters for these. So I imagined the girls who sang these songs. “Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite,” was sung by a girl at her pianoforte, in a parlor in the English countryside somewhere. “Caro Mio Ben,” by a maidservant in a renaissance villa while she went about her chores. “Ave Maria,” well, “Ave Maria” was different.

I didn’t hide in “Ave Maria,” there is no where to hide. There’s nowhere to hide in the notes, which move so slowly and deliberately that anyone can catch a mistake. And there’s nowhere to hide in the song. It’s a prayer. It’s the Hail Mary.

Even when I was young and insecure, I was devoted to the Blessed Mother. I cried over the “Ave Maria,” cried with frustration, with disappointment. I knew I couldn’t hide, I couldn’t find another girl to sing this one. That would be a lie, and she would know.

God gave me my voice.

Mary taught me how to use it.

The first time I ever sang “Ave Maria”, in front of people, was at the Mass that celebrated my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I was seventeen. I was terrified. My grandpa looked at me, squeezed my hand and whispered in my ear.

“We’re all so proud of you. The Blessed Mother doesn’t care if you make a mistake.”

I was free then. I sang. I hit every note. I cried, but not in frustration, not in fear. I cried in relief.

To this day “Ave Maria” is still the only song I’ve never pretended to be someone else while singing. It’s also the only song that I’ve ever been great on. I know that.

Because God gave me my voice.

Mary taught me how to use it.

And I gave it back to praise her.