Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Friday, May 26, 2017

{SQT} An Empty Nester School Employee's Summer List

On Fridays, Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum gives us a chance to spurt seven things out. Some do lists, some do randomness. Some weeks I link up, some weeks I don't. This is one of those weeks when I do.
Exactly what do school employees do during summer break? When my boys were still at home, my list would have looked very differently than it does today. I'll break down what an empty nester school employee's summer looks like.
The first thing I did after our last day was....(drum roll)...attend a tech conference presented by our school system. Yep, that's right. Contrary to popular belief, we don't really get our summer's off. The payoff is that I now get an extra day off for Fall Break.
I allowed myself this week to just veg out and decompress. I've promised myself to get away from Speech Therapy-related things this summer. That means resisting reading blogs and looking at Pinterest for speech things. Things will start gearing up for me next week. 
I'm getting ready for a kitchen remodel, so there's going to be all kinds of craziness around here. The kitchen is the last thing we need to update in our 1960's fixer-upper, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Then we can start on the outside (like the driveway, which is in desperate need of a re-paving!) If you're interested, I'm starting Thursday updates on my Life in a Small Town Blog. 
This is what my kitchen looks like right now. See all the crap junk on the countertops? I can't wait until I have a place to put all of that!
Hulu/Netflix binging. So far this week, I've caught up on Designated Survivor, Sherlock, and The Last Kingdom. If you like Vikings, then you'll enjoy The Last Kingdom. I think it's one of the best shows out there that people don't know about. Another one is Underground. My husband & I started watching Season 2 the other night. If the Underground Railroad is an interest of yours, you'll enjoy this series, too. It airs on WGN, but, since we don't have cable, we watch it through Hulu. There are no bad actors on this show. Definitely one to put on your watchlist!
Read. I am in the middle of several books: 
The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood): I finished this the other day. Weird. Would not recommend.
Resisting Happiness (Matthew Kelly): How could I not recommend a book from Matthew Kelly? This has me thinking about how much I really do resist doing things. It's also getting me off of my rear to do things I should be doing.
Getting Past Perfect (Kate Wicker): This is a Catholic Mom's read. Even though the author has children at home and I don't, I'm enjoying this book. It's helping me to realize that it's okay that I wasn't a perfect mom when the boys were home.
The Shack (Wm. Paul Young): I started this a few months ago and put it down. I just didn't have time. I'll pick it up when I finish the 2 listed above.
Plan Cee (Hilary Grossman): This is a sequel to Plan Bee. She has also written Dangled Carat. If you're looking for some good beach reads, check these out.
Writing. I have several (ahem) blogs: a personal blog, a professional blog, a camping blog (that is supposed to be a combined effort, but I can't get my husband to write a post!), and this one. I haven't had time to write; there have been other things taking precedent. Oh, but summers are for writing!
I prefer to go outside on the porch with my laptop, but there are days when I need to be inside.
Dust off my camera. I could spend hours on my porch watching these little ones:
I love watching these little territorial birds flying around, chasing each other.
It always takes me a while to get that perfect setting, but once I do, I click like crazy! There's no telling how many pictures of birds, rabbits, and squirrels I have! The past couple of years, we had some birds visit who didn't realize they weren't small hummingbirds.
I haven't seen any of these guys around yet.
Travel. I have the travel bug. Unfortunately, there won't be much of that this summer (see #2). I do, however, get to take my first trip to New Orleans. The bad news is that it's for a conference. The good news is that I won free registration at our state conference. More good news is that I'll get to spend a day or 2 with 1 of my sons. The bad news is that it's in July...with the heat and humidity. NOLA in July, y'all. I'll be thanking God every minute of the day for air conditioning! 

That's my list of summer plans. Even though I'm swearing off speech things, I do have that conference to attend, and the Friday after I get back I have another professional-related inservice to attend. I may write a blog post or 2 on my professional blog, if the spirit moves me! June is my month off; in July I start gearing back up for another year. 
How does this compare to your summer?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

{Sixth Sunday of Easter} Seeing the Holy Spirit

This Sunday, it was the 2nd reading that reached out to me. (1Peter 3:15-18) One of my sons and I had a discussion the other day about being a situation where someone was questioning his beliefs. He said he had an excellent answer, but he wasn't sure where it came from. I told him it was the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever had someone ask you a question about your faith, and were able to give an amazingly great answer that left you scratching your head? It's happened to me before. Sister said that there are times when someone will tell her what she said to him/her, and she says, "I told you that?"  The Holy Spirit will sneak in and give you the words you need to defend your faith. 
Pentecost is in a couple of weeks. Just in case you haven't noticed it, the readings for the past couple of weeks are preparing us. Just as with the apostles, the Holy Spirit descends upon each of us when we most need it...we just may not be aware of it. Most of the time, we don't even have to call on it; it's just there. It's what's in our heart. It's there, and we don't even have to think about it.
I'm not a believer in coincidences. I do, however, believe that the Holy Spirit's hand is in those instances that appear to be coincidences. We, as a society, are so quick to write it off as a coincidence. There is a purpose for every minute of our lives. What we do with that purpose, and how we relay it is up to us. 

Those little temptations that the Devil likes to put in our brains can be wiped out with the Holy Spirit. When I'm trying too hard to put words in a blog post, I'm not allowing the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and help me say what I need to say. I have to take a deep breath, and invite the Holy Spirit in. After that, I don't seem to have any trouble with what I'm saying.
Call upon the Holy Spirit the next time you feel anxious about anything. Then prepare to be wowed and amazed!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

{Fifth Sunday of Easter} A Great Opportunity

I had an incredibly difficult time focusing during Mass last night. Of course, most of it had to do with the fact that I drove into the parking lot 10 minutes before Mass started. (Since I play the flute in 1 of the choirs, we are usually there 45 minutes prior to the beginning of Mass.) I thought I was only 5 minutes late...until I drove into the parking lot and saw all of the cars and realized that Mass begins at 5:00 on Saturday evenings, not 5:30. Fortunately, the other flutist was there, and we make a great team. There was a song I didn't feel comfortable playing the intro, so she did it. There was a song she didn't like the flute parts, so I did it. That's the great thing about having someone to partner with.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

The disciples had each other to fall back on. Heck, for a time, they had Jesus with them. It amazes me that, even though he was with them, they still had trouble with completely believing. I think we have a much harder task believing than the disciples did. They saw him perform the miracles. They heard his teaching. We don't have that luxury. 

We  have the opportunity to perform great works.
This message is true for us today. Just as the disciples no longer had Jesus physically there in order to gain believers, we can share his word and gain believers through our actions. 
For some reason, in the past few months, I've had a few conversations with people who have had questions about the Catholic faith, and I was honored to be the one whom they asked. One person asked me questions while in the school office, and out of the corner of my eye I could see someone else paying attention. I live in the south, where the protestants greatly outnumber the Catholics. If I can pique the curiosity of just one person, I've done something great. They may not ever convert to Catholicism, but I can dispel some myths and I can help ease some of the ignorance (for lack of a better word) that some people have about the Catholic Church. 

It's okay to not have all the answers.
Even the saints didn't claim to have all the answers. The disciples certainly didn't have all the answers, so we can't be expected to know everything either. Sometimes I think we're asked questions so that we can grow in our faith. Think about it: when someone asks you a question, don't you want to find out the answer so you can reliably give the person the information? It's okay to say, "I don't know, but I will get back to you with the answer." 
You would think that the disciples would have the answers after walking with Jesus and having discussions with him.There were times when even they lacked faith. Jesus had to be exasperated with them. I wonder if he questioned how these people could be the ones who would spread the Gospels. I wonder if he thought, "What knuckleheads! I'm right here, performing miracles and feeding them all the information they need to know, yet they still have questions!" Did he ask God if he was sure these were the right ones?

Does he look at me and ask if I'm the  right one?
I question myself, I question my knowledge, I question my faith. We are called to be people of faith. We are called to do everything for his glory. We are called to remember this in all areas of our lives, in all of our daily activities. We don't know all of the answers, but we have to believe that when we are called home, we will find out.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

{Fourth Sunday of Easter} He's Right in Front of Us

When I first read the Gospel (John 10:1-10), I got hung up on all who come before me (John 10:8).  Who was Jesus talking about? Moses and Elijah? John? WHO??? If it were one of these, then why would he call them thieves and robbers? As I listened to the same Gospel being read during Mass, I realized I was over-thinking it.

I realized I was like the Pharisees who had to have Jesus “dumb it down” so they could understand. 

This was one Gospel where Jesus is right in front of us. He is the gate; he calls our names and we follow. He is the way to eternal life. He couldn't have said it any plainer. He tells us exactly what we must do to be with him forever. Just as sheep follow their shepherd, we have to stay focused on Jesus. There are too many outside forces calling out to us.  Those are the thieves and robbers, stealing our time and energy, making us lose our focus on what we know to be true. 

I'm guilty of listening to those voices. 

The voices are calling to me through social media and my work  after hours. They are robbing me of precious time. We are only here for a short while. We have to hear his voice and stay focused. 

I have to recommit.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm being pulled in 10 different directions. I've turned off my tv and have cut back on social media. I'm learning to really listen, and follow. Jesus is calling each of us by name; how awesome is that? He knows each of us by name!

We only have to listen . . . and follow.

Friday, May 5, 2017

{SQT} A Couple of Appreciations and Some Cleaning

--- 1 ---
I started to begin this post talking about the Our Lady of Fatima Touring Statue, but then realized that should be a post on its own. Come back in a few days to get the 411!
I work for a school system. If you do, too, you know how underappreciated we all feel. Our PTO (although our principal has changed the name to "MOCS"---don't ask me what the acronym stands for because I couldn't tell you!) set up our workroom/eating area on Monday. It stayed like this all week, with little goodies set out for us.
In addition to Teacher Appreciation Week, May is also "Better Hearing and Speech Month". As a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), this is the month that we are supposed to get the word out about all things Speech & Hearing. My coordinator sent out goodies for all of us SLPs.
I receive the Divine Mercy Daily in my email box every morning, but I think I'm going to have to unsubscribe. I am feeling so guilty about not praying the Chaplet as I sat next to my father as he was dying. I said a Rosary, but I honestly didn't even think about the Chaplet. I don't think I'm supposed to feel that way after reading those daily emails!
As my siblings & I are cleaning out my parents' house, we often come across things that make us smile. We're down to the very last things in the house; everything of any sentimental value has been taken out. I went down with my youngest son the other day so he could look through the kitchen things to see if there was anything he wanted (for when he decides to move out on his own). When I found this, I smiled:
It may look like just a little metal biscuit cutter to you, but this was what we used to make host out of bread when we played Mass! 
I spent part of last weekend cleaning off my desk. I found a place for almost everything I took from my parents' house. Here is the desk before:
and after:
This is where I say my morning prayers & read the daily readings. 
Last night began our Diocesan CCW (Council of Catholic Women) Convention. It's being held in my home parish this year, so it was nice to come home last night & sleep in my own bed instead of being in a hotel. We began the evening with a Mass celebrated by the Bishop, then dinner, and a presentation. The speaker was Jeff Gardner, of The Picture Christians Project. He speaks again this morning, so check back for a recap of the weekend!

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.