Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Not Alone Series: Guess Who's Engaged

Do you struggle with balancing the sting of hearing about yet another engagement with genuine excitement? What emotions come into play? What virtues do you enlist to help with it all?

I love a good engagement story. I will ask you how he proposed, I'll sit and listen with rapt attention, oohing and aahing in exactly the right places because I am so happy for you, I'm even trying to figure out what I'm wearing to the wedding but it hurts. I am happy for you, so very happy but after the joy your news sometimes can become about me. What about me? How come it hasn't happened to me as yet? When will it happen for me?

I think one of my biggest emotions is feeling betrayed by God. This does not actually with every engagement announcement. When the girl who changed boyfriends weekly, likely slept with most of them, talks like a sailor and thinks modesty is a bad word gets engaged I feel like God has turned away from me. I tend to reduce my Faith to a checklist of everything I do right versus everything they do wrong. I definitely have the advantage but somehow I come out at the bottom. How can God not see that I deserve it more after all I've done.

Logically I know God hasn't betrayed me and He doesn't work like how my envious mind has worked it out. I just need to seek Him, remind myself of His love for me, that He plans for me, I LOVE Jer 29:11, especially the end "To give you a future with hope".

Stay away from the friends who will commiserate with me in the wrong way. There is nothing wrong with someone who will understand how you're feeling and help you work through it productively. However the friend who will encourage you to wallow in bad feelings and hurt, encourage you to gossip and malign the couple or marriage itself is not who you need to be around.

Prayer. Over the years of friends, acquaintances and neighbourhood "bad" girls getting engaged I have trained my first reaction to be prayer. When all I feel is incredible joy for the upcoming union, pray. When I feel slightly jealous, pray. When I can't believe this is going to happen, pray.

I pray for the couple, the Sacrament of Marriage and I pray for myself.

How do you handle engagement news? Check out Morgan for the link-up and see what everyone else has to say.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

You are Beautiful: A Fill-in-the-Blanks Poem

Laura over at Catholic Cravings wrote a really great poem for the NAS: Beauty topic this week. She also challenges us to fill in the blanks and write our own poem. I thought it was a great idea and decided to write mine as a post, it took me a while but here it is. Think about doing your own fill in the blanks even just privately.

I am beautiful.

I am beautiful because I am made in the image of God, who hears me when I call. I am beautiful inside and out, for He didn't just make my soul but my body too. All of me, body and soul, is His image.

I am beautiful because my eyes are bright and expressive, my fingers are long and strong: capable and nimble as I am.

And because I can fold my tongue.

I was beautiful when I climbed trees in my grandmother's backyard.

I am beautiful because my hair doesn't do what I want and my body has no curves.

I am beautiful like a good book on an ocean front balcony on a summer night.

I am beautiful when I smile.

I am beautiful when I receive Holy Communion and sit with Jesus in Adoration. I am beautiful when I laugh and when I mourn, when I pray the Magnificat, whispering my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour to Him who is so beautiful.

I am beautiful when I wear my purple shirt and silver chain.

I was beautiful even when I did not see it. Though I've disliked what I see in the mirror, I was beautiful.

I am beautiful still.

I don’t know whether my eyes are doves behind my veil, or my hair like a flock of goats descending from Gilead. But in my own way, my own Nikki-way, I am beautiful. Perhaps, I am beautiful like an ornamental glass or like a tree in bloom.

I am definitely not beautiful because I am perfect. I am not perfect, inwardly or outwardly. I have flaws enough.

But I am beautiful.

For I am loved by God, and love is in my heart, and where there is love:

there is beauty.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday #55

--- 1 ---
This week work felt like National Geographic first there was an iguana sunning itself. I think he enjoyed the attention and even started posing for the camera.

See how he always tilts his head. He started with his back to us but as soon as the cameras came out he turned around so we could get some great shots.

--- 2 ---
The following day I got the see a butterfly emerge from it's cocoon. Well I saw the very end stages of it so these pics are just of the butterfly hanging out before taking his first flight.

--- 3 ---
Abortion is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago but I was happy to offer some tweet support to those participating in the March For Life earlier this week. Let's face it abortion may be illegal but it still happens and there are factions that are trying "bring us into modern times" and we continue to pray that they continue to fail.

--- 4 ---
Eco tourism is a semi big deal here and we have the opportunity to visit a swamp next week. I can go with everyone from my office, get the day off practically and spend time in nature. Or I can go to work when it is almost guaranteed to be empty and get some work done without distraction. I am not typically a workaholic but January to February sometimes March are months heavy with close deadlines.

--- 5 ---
The Not Alone Series this week was about beauty. Great posts as usual, I was even inspired to write a second post that I'll hopefully have up later this weekend. Come check out the link up.

--- 6 ---
Voting is going on for The Sheenazing Blogger Awards I voted, did you? I had a few obvious faves but I also got a chance to check out some very new to me blogs. Not Alone Series Jen and Morgan are nominated.

--- 7 ---
A song to end the week.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Not Alone Series: Beauty

What does authentic beauty mean to you and how can you be better at believing/accepting that you are, in fact, beautiful?

This is a hard topic to write. I've started over and changed direction about four times already. I know what I want to say but not sure how to say it because I want to keep my scars hidden, to keep me out of it.

As a child I can't say I ever thought about beauty a lot. Sure there were people and things I thought were beautiful but in relation to myself it was a non-issue. Until I first over-heard someone say I was ugly, I had nice eyes but I was basically the ugly duckling. I've always been a stuffer so I more or less buried that and went about my life but without realising it, how I saw myself changed and how I was changed too.

"We are God's workmanship" Ephesians 2:10. We are works of art, created in beauty and in love.

Authentic beauty to me is being yourself, for we are who He has made us.

You have to be comfortable with who you are. Know who you are. That may not be easy if you have been taking your cues from the world around you. "You" tends to get easily lost while trying to be like everyone else.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (not a fan of this by the way). Let God be your beholder. You be your beholder. See yourself as He made you. Unrepeatable. Beautiful

You are beautiful, don't be afraid to tell yourself that every single day. Say it fives times a day.

Don't accept labels that are not yours. She's too fat, too thin, too tall. Don't give labels to other people that you wouldn't want for yourself.

Beauty is inside and outside. Don't try to make someone else feel ugly just to make yourself feel beautiful. It doesn't work like that, we are all beautiful. We can all be beautiful together. Someone else's beauty does not take away from your own.

We are all created by God. He's the ultimate artist just look at the beauty of the world around you. If He could do such an amazing job with the animate why would He do any less on us who He loves beyond measure. We are made in His image and likeness afterall.

See what everyone else has to say on the topic. Visit Jen for the link-up.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday #54

--- 1 ---
I took something of a break from quicktakes for a while and although it is actually Saturday I'm jumping back in

--- 2 ---
Every single year I go through the dilemma of remembering the number of the current year and not write the previous year. It takes a couple weeks to adjust, unfortunately I work in accounting and we are still doing things that require 2013 to be written A LOT, it is not helping my problem. Hopefully by March I'll get it consistently right.

--- 3 ---
It's that time of the year in Trinidad, Carnival. Now technically Carnival is only the long weekend leading up to Ash Wednesday. However the Carnival season actually runs from the beginning of the year until the Tuesday. The tourists have begun coming into town although to be honest some of them have been here since Christmas.

--- 4 ---
I am making slow and imperfect progress on getting my goals for 2014 going. I'm happy with that since progress is progress. Some are going really well and others are still trial and error but I'm getting there

--- 5 ---
The Not Alone Series is back!!!!!!I am so happy!!!!!! I have been keeping up everyone's blogs but it's so good to be writing together again. We've had some new bloggers joining us which is great. This week we looked at how we can stretch and grow for 2014. Come check out the link up.

--- 6 ---
I have quite a few blog post ideas brewing so hopefully next week and beyond I'll get into a groove. I'm actually writing down my ideas as they come to me instead of just hoping I remember them.

--- 7 ---
A song to end the week.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Not Alone Series: Growing and Stretching

In what ways can you grow/stretch RIGHT NOW that could effect the whole of 2014?

"with my God I can scale any wall" Ps 18:29

That verse is part of the scripture I got when I went to Confession on New Year's Day, I loved that part and it fit into what I wanted my year and my life to go. Scaling over obstacles, walls that stand in my way.

How? What can I do?

Expect more of myself
One thing I hated as a child and a teenager was for an adult to tell me "I expected more from you". While I never said this to anyone's face sometimes I would think well I didn't. Someone else expecting more from me is not going to necessarily get me to do or don't do something. I have to expect more from myself. In many things I don't expect a lot of myself.

I get discouraged easily if I see to many problems. I sometimes say "That won't work for me" or "I'll do it when...". I see the wall and I don't even think about how to get over it. I just turn around. Valid reasons may really exist, a certain solution or method may not work for me for some reason. That doesn't have to me the end. Maybe there are alternatives, another way.

This year I'm going to stretch myself by switching "That won't work for me" or "I'll do it when" to "How can I" How can I make it work for me. How can I adjust to make it fit my needs, circumstances, limitations. How can I get it done now. How can I make it possible.

It is not easy to break a habit and start a new one but one step at a time. And as the verse said "with God", I'm not doing this on my own.

I've missed writing (and reading) for Not Alone though I had a very busy holidays and needed the break but it's good to be back. I can't wait to read what everyone else had to say about stretching and growing.

Thank you Jen and Morgan for continuing the series. Now head on over to Jen's blog to see what everyone else had to say.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The First Post of 2014

It's already the 12th day and this is my first post of the year. This likely to be a rambly post so you've been warned.

The holidays were good but hectic at times. Visiting family, having them visit, having some stay over, cooking cleaning, rinse, repeat. I love spending time with my family but seriously it can get a little overwhelming sometimes with some more than others.

My hosting New Year's Day was successful, a few more people than we expected but food was abundant so we survived and everyone had a good time. Clean up was so much easier this year, thank you to my wonderful cousins who helped.

I am spending January without my credit card. I don't walk around with a lot of cash so I'll be using gift cards mostly or do without if it's not available somewhere that I have a gift card for. If it is cheap enough I'll pay cash but it has to be cash already on hand because I'm not taking any cash out of the ATM or using my debit card. I am not an over-spender but I need to re-structure my budget and I need a challenge. I love my credit card and I miss it.

New Year's Day I was late to Mass so I waited an hour for the next one so on the first day of the year I got to spend my first hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament where I prayed my first Rosary of the year. I also got Confession, great start to my year. I prefer the 7 am Mass but next year Lord Willing I may try the 9 again.

I chose my Saint for the year, St Catherine of Bologna, never heard of her before. She is the patron saint against temptations (which is what I focused on) and of artists (which most of what I read focused on).

I picked a word for the year "balance". For the last few years I've focused on one thing or another which usually tends to push other things to the side, this year I want to have every aspect of my life work together. My Faith, social life, personal time etc need to learn to play nice with each other

What I'd like to do for 2014

I'm adding Monday Adorations to my week.
Work on time management.
Bake more and try new recipes, I find joy in baking but didn't do much last year
Do more of my crafts, crocheting and sewing/quilting (barely did any of this last year)
Create a household chore chart and stick to it
Read, continue reading classics, at least one faith based book a month

Last year I tried a few household management charts (chore charts) that I found online but they were unrealistic for me. They were better geared to someone who is home all day, I work with a long commute and can't schedule my days to properly fit so I was constantly feeling overwhelmed and not getting things done. I found something that I want to try:

I'll have to adapt it to fit me but I think I can make this work, I hope.

I should be getting back into regular posting. I have a few post ideas and the Not Alone Series returns this week so I have that.

Looking forward to seeing what 2014 will bring.