Thursday, April 29, 2010

Natalie Dee Thursday: Sharkano

Natalie Dee, 5-20-09

Of the many Natalie Dee comics that I have seen, this is hands down my favorite. Bar none. Top shelf. Numero uno.

Sharkano combines two of my favorite things ever. Seriously, I love sharks and volcanoes. I think that is all I have to say for this post.

Don't forget to join me next Thursday for "Natalie Dee Thursday." Until then, peruse the thousands of funny comics at her website.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons Part 1: Humility


This past weekend has been one of the craziest, most terrifying, and most fun that I have ever had. The best part was that I learned important lessons and learned more about myself. In order to focus on the lessons I want to share, I'm breaking the post up into several. Here's the first...

It all started Friday afternoon when I left campus to go home. It was a beautiful afternoon and traffic was only starting to thicken. I will tell you now that I do obey the laws of the land. Most of the time, however, I do not obey the speed limit.

My philosophy, in working with my lead foot, is that it's perfectly acceptable to go with the flow of traffic even if we are all going well above the speed limit. I don't want to be that jerk that slows down everyone else by not keeping up. I drive reasonably (most of the time), and I know when enough is enough or when I can go a little more.

So, I was driving along the Interstate in the left lane, and I was three-quarters of the way home when I looked in my rearview mirror to find that all the cars behind me had magically disappeared. Odd, I thought...maybe I should get over into the middle lane and be safe inside the herd of metal. Nah...I think I'll just stick to staying behind the out-of-state SUV in front of me who had a lame habit of speeding up way ahead of me and slowing way down right on top of me.

All of sudden I saw flashing red and blue lights in my mirror. A cop car had quite literally come out of nowhere and was tailgating me. Naively, I thought he was trying to get around all of us. So I got over, realizing to my chagrin that he followed me. Then he put the sirens on. Holy Mother of God. I was being pulled over. Expletive! Expletive! Expletive!

After I stopped, I immediately began racking my brain for good excuses. The truth! That's what I'll tell him!
Ma'am, do you know how fast you were going? Somewhere between 65 and 70 (the truth for 99.9% of the entire damn drive home). Well, you were going 72 in a 55. And you were following that white car too closely. Oh. Well I'm sorry sir, but I'm just trying to get home so that I can get my sister to church. Alright. Driver's license and insurance please. Okay. I'll be back in a minute.
Meanwhile, I looked up ahead and I could see the speed limit sign telling the entire world that it went up to 65mph. Of course I had to squint a little, but holy mackerel I could see it! I did the math in my head, realizing that 72 in a 55 means reckless driving. Wonderful! But then my eyes flashed to the sign up ahead advertising the change in speed. I was so close! Why couldn't he just pick someone else?

He came back, gave me my ticket and told me where to sign and what to do. Also, watch your speed and distance. Okay. I will.

That change in speed limit sign is also right before an exit that I sometimes use to take the backroads home. On Friday, I used that exit instead of finishing the drive on the Interstate.

I was incredibly angry and upset. A million things went floating through my head. Like, the fact that everyone else was going the same speed, that I had to speed up to get over to the shoulder, that there was no room for me to get into the middle lane. Why me?

If you ask my family, they (and I myself) will say that I had it coming. I knew deep down inside my very bones that one day I was going to get it. But that supernatural, sixth sense of foreboding knowledge will not and did not prepare me for what lay in store. I was terrified!

I whined about it all weekend. Why me? My lesson of humility did not take very long to sink in, and I learned it well. If you've never experienced it, well, it isn't fun. It isn't fun when you get knocked down from your pedestal and onto the floor. It isn't fun when you're semi-paralyzed with fear all because you got caught doing something. The jokes and laughter from friends and family, that is actually fun and helps relieve some of the stress.

In its entirety, the lesson of humility is a hard pill to swallow. Jesus made being humble look easy. Actually, he didn't make being humble look easy, he was humble. So why am I having such a hard time being humble? Therein lies the challenge, the task at hand, the obstacle to overcome.

He is the epitome of what I strive for, of what we all strive to be like. I want to be just like Jesus. I guess God decided that one way I could learn how to be more humble like His Son is by teaching me a lesson of humility through one of my many vices, which is speeding.

This morning as I drove back to campus, I actually stayed below 70. It was hard, but I did it. This isn't to say that I won't ever speed again. Saying that would be a sin. I know I will. In the future, I will be more mindful of my surroundings. Hopefully, I will not be a victim of the end of the month quota ever again.

P.S. I found out that my friend's husband was pulled over the same morning, and then a few hours before I was pulled over, he was in the car with another guy who got pulled over. And I was telling the truth, I was trying to get home so that I could get my sister to the church on time to leave for the weekend's retreat.

Go Speed Racer, go!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Introducing...Natalie Dee Thursday!

My lovely and wonderful friends, Andi Marie and Katie Ann, introduced me to the amazingly awesome comics of artist Natalie Dee.

I love them (comics and friends) so much! Almost everyone makes me crack up or go into hysterical fits of laughter. I would like to share them with you. *Disclaimer! Some of her comics are not something that you would share over dinner with your in-laws, but I won't post any of those. That's just in case you decide to visit her website. I think they're all hilarious.

"Every Thursday that I can remember", I dub thee, Natalie Dee Thursday. I picked Thursday to host this comic sharing because it is my favorite day of the week.

Today, the inaugural show and tell comic will be the one that inspired me to blog about Natalie's comics. Thanks Andi Marie for pointing it out to me.

Natalie Dee, 4-6-06
Why yes, I think I will blog about it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Found Worthy

The first reading from Acts this Sunday really struck a chord within me. If you didn't go to mass, I'm going to post it below, because I simply cannot pick just one thing to write about. It is all wonderful. God had this reading picked for a reason.
When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us."

But Peter and the apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
When I thought about this reading later, I was reminded of a line from the movie A Knight's Tale. It is said in two separate instances, and the above picture is when each member of Sir William's entourage took a turn saying one part of the phrase to the newly defeated Count Adhemar. "You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting."

Indeed, I have been weighed and measured, and I have been found wanting of something more. Something that is bigger than myself. Something that I will never fully understand.

That something is a relationship with God. As beautiful as faith is, as wonderful and strengthening as it is, faith does come at a price. My belief in God and His hand in my life may alienate me from some people that I may want to be close to, people who don't see things the way I do and who chose to not respect me for who I am. Being a member of the Catholic Church has certainly caused some people to do a double-take, all the while I know they're thinking...oh, you're a Catholic? *Insert some sly comment about priests and/or Jesus crackers.*

Yes, I am a Catholic. Yes, I am proud to be one. More importantly, I am proud to be a Christian. I also realize what I lose by being one. But I think that what I gain is infinitely more sustaining, more fulfilling, than what I lose.

So when I suffer because of who I am and what I believe in and what I profess, I take comfort in knowing that the apostles went through the same thing. In fact, they found the silver lining that I didn't know existed. I am thankful that they did.

They rejoiced in being found worthy for suffering for the name's sake. Being picked on, spat on, kicked, name-called, ignored...what have you. And they rejoiced! They knew that what they were going through was not the end.

Lord have mercy on me. I do rejoice for being found worthy to be your servant, your child. I am happy knowing that my suffering for Jesus' sake is a worthy cause. A noble fight.

We have all been weighed, we have all been measured. We all have been found wanting, but for what is up to each individual.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: The Work of God's Fingers

Happy Sabbath Sunday! While it has been a tough past couple of days for the Catholic community in East Tennessee, I know that with time we will find healing and peace and know that the grace of God is what sustains us through the good and the bad times.

I guest blogged the other day at Blessed is the Kingdom while Fr. Christian was away. I posted this on Friday, but I want to share it with anyone who may not be aware of the wonderful B.i.t.K blog.

Here is The Work of God's Fingers.

Pray for all abused, the abusers, and the rest of the community of the Diocese of Knoxville and of the world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

War!


It has been Rocky's mission in life ever since the day he came home with us at 8 (or so) weeks old to hunt all manner of flying insects in our backyard. Especially the ones that annoy him.

Rocky just has it out for carpenter bees, wasps, and honey bees =the enemy. He has a vendetta out for stinging insects. Butterflies and flies are considered friends. Dragonflies, well, they are in the gray area between friend and foe. They are just as annoying to Rocky as the enemy, but they don't sting him.

For some reason, he thinks it is okay to chase after, bark at, and attempt to snap up these monster needles with wings. Hello Rocky, that's gonna hurt when you bite down.

Anyway, there is a war going on in my backyard. What are the pros to this 'war'? It is: free, no one has died (yet), and highly amusing. What are the cons to this 'war'? Well, being stung is it really.

It's madness I tell you! I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate bees and wasps. I run away from them. He runs towards them! If you can't tell in the picture, Rocky is standing at the top of the steps...and almost jumped up at that stupid carpenter bee. At the top of the stairs.

Young Bee Hunter, smart he is not. But cute he is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And So It Continues

Happy Blogoversary to me!

While I didn't actually post And So It Begins (my first post here at If Necessary, Use Words) until May 13, 2009, I have been a member of blogger.com since last April.

It all started with Fr. Christian asking me to be a guest blogger for him while he was away hiking the Appalachian Trail for 2 weeks. My first post at the old Blessed is the Kingdom, called Trudging, was on April 14, 2009. So today on April 14, 2010, I am celebrating my 1 Year Blogoversary.

To my chagrin, I announced this wonderful day to some of my friends. I know that it's silly and extremely funny. "Hey! Today is my Blogoversary and I can't even blog about it because the internet is down all over campus!" "Bahahaha! What did you just say?"

Yes. My Blogoversary. I'm a Class A nerd in case you didn't already know.

Anyway, I am so glad that strangers, friends, and family members encouraged me to keep going after being a guest blogger. At one point, I realized that blogging was fun, but I had not considered walking a little further down the path. Then after a push, a creative think-tank meeting with FC, and a few ideas later...here I am!

I have had so much fun exploring life and matters of faith via the written word, especially with you all the readers. I know I tend to get a little long-winded, but I love writing things down. I have lists all over the place: blog ideas, favorite names, cities/countries to see, favorite movies, songs to download, etc.

This past blogging year:

You have met several horses from one of my favorite places, the barn at Horse Haven of Tennessee, an equine rescue group. I am humbled each time I take care of these special animals, because through them, I learn that I must rely on others, but most importantly I must rely on God, to live my life. To Him, I turn to for nourishment, for advice, for comfort, and for love...just like my horses turn to me and the other volunteers for those same things.

You have met several of my friends. God love them, they are so wonderful. Without them, my life would be dull and laughter would cease to exist. You have heard family stories. Without them, obviously I would not be here physically or be the person that I am. Thanks to all of them. If I list names, I'm afraid I might forget one. To suffice, you all know who you are.

You have witnessed my adventures of the last few days of my high school life, the escapades with friends during the summer and throughout the year, and you have walked with me through the beginning of my college career.

You have read about my struggles and triumphs, about my blue days and the happy, sunny ones. You have learned about how much I love animals, how much I miss the ones who rest eternally. You saw a glimpse of the beautiful NPH in El Salvador. You've had to put with my sense of humor.

For putting up with all of that, kudos to you. Thanks for reading. Sometimes it just seems like I "blegh" all over the page, but then again, isn't that what writers do? I love sharing whatever I have with the world. And so it continues. I hope to remember as always, to preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, to use my words. I pray that we all continue to grow in faith and love together.

P.S. I love comments. For real dude. It makes my day :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sturdy Shelters and Treasures

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. -Sirach 6:14-15

"Nothing on earth can stamp out true friendship. Time itself cannot destroy such friendship, but instead finds it always and everywhere indomitable." -St. Bernard

Amen! Those verses from Sirach are some of my favorites. I was never much of a Bible reading Christian, but when I started to read it a long time ago, these 2 verses in particular have remained a fixture in my mind ever since.

Those words speak the truth. Faithful friends are my shelter. They are my treasures. While we may put a monetary value on treasures, you can't do that with friends because they are beyond price.

I am so thankful for all of them. Being constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of studying and life itself makes it hard to find time to take stock of things. When I do, I am always amazed at the blessings in my life, especially the people. Friends and family.

You gotta love 'em!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: It's An Adventure

It's time for this week's Sabbath Sunday post. Since Fr. Christian chose my very first blog post as his Sabbath Sunday one, which happens to be about hiking, I thought I would pick yet another post about hiking.

Read It's An Adventure to learn about a fun hike with friends. I must have some sort of spring hiking fever.

I want to go hiking now!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Favorite Aromas

What? You say as you read the title.

Yes. This post is about my favorite smells. It's been a very hectic, hard, full, annoying week, and I haven't had time to write anything for me or be a guest blogger for a friend. Except a speech about horse abuse. College has sunk its big, nasty, black claws into my very being, and it is pulling me every which way. Don't get me wrong. I still love college! I truly do, but it's just been super busy and I am lazy at times (not all the time, I promise...but I just want to be outside not doing homework!). That's a potent mix.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time outside the past few days/weeks. It was during a lot of these play days out on God's playground when I realized I have a lot of favorite smells. Then the other day, Jade (my friend slash roommate) and I were talking about our favorite smells.

Here are mine, and they're in no particular order...

-With no particular species in mind, the smell of flowers in bloom after winter is gone...the first signs of spring. That is a pretty rockin' aroma. The smell is especially nice when you are surrounded by concrete a lot of the time, like me. UT's campus is a beautiful one, yes. There are places to lay in the sun and find rest under a tree, but there is a lot of concrete. This flower garden right outside my dorm is one of my favorite spots to sit.

-Running water smells wonderful. Creeks especially are my favorite. I love to hike alongside a creek. With water in mind, I will also add the smell of the air right before it rains as well as rain itself. Going barefoot in the rain is fun too.

-Jade and I decided that the smell of the air before a thunderstorm smells slightly different than air before a regular rain shower. She can't explain it, nor can I, but I can smell the static, the electricity, the impending doom. It's good.

-Dirt. I love squishing my toes in dirt, in mud...just not the "mud" from the barn. There is something about dirt's aroma that makes me feel good and all punny business aside, I feel down to earth.

-I miss the smell of my dog Duke. It was very earthy, dirt, mud, clay, mountain, old man-ish, and just plain...happiness. I try to recreate it in my mind, but recreations never do the originals justice.

-Coming home from the barn and smelling like horses, hay, and feed is one of my favorites. It is probably in the top 3, if I had to designate a numeral rating to any of them...but I won't do that. We'll just ballpark it here, folks. Anyway. Specifically, I love the smell of horses when they're outside and you lean up against them and love on them, patting them and watching dust fly. There is something about the way a horse smells that makes this world a better place.

I think that is about it. I'm sure I'm forgetting some of them. Stay tuned. Knowing me, I'll probably make another list!

I love that all of my favorite aromas are natural, part of the environment. No hand of man involved here, just God.

I like that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

In Retrospect

Why do you look for the living, among the dead? He is not here, he has been raised to new life. Alleluia, Alleluia!

That is one of my favorite songs sung during the Easter Sunday mass at St. Thomas. The choir always does a beautiful job with the music, especially that piece in particular. I kept humming that and the opening number from the movie Pocahontas all day yesterday (don't ask where that one came from, it just showed up in the playlist inside my head).

I caught myself humming the same lines (excluding Pocahontas) again this morning as I was getting ready and then walking to and from class.

Besides being one of my favorites, I deduced that the reason this song kept popping up was that maybe I finally understand what Easter is all about. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I've been in the dark for the past 19 years, I know what Easter is about...just on paper. But I think I was in the dark until yesterday.

I finally realized the significance of Easter! Alleluia! Check that off of my "Ah-Ha! Moments" list...which is a list that I pray for constantly. In time, God will reveal things to me, but I would love for my Ah-Ha! Moments to happen right now. It doesn't work that way though.

Someday, those things will get a check mark put beside them. Until then, I am happy being able to check one thing off. Jesus died and rose from the dead. He did that to save all of us, but as Fr. Tom said in his homily, we can't forget that Christ died and rose again for me. For the world, of course remember! But don't forget that He did it for you personally. For me.

What greater love is there than to lay down one's life for a friend? I can't think of any. I think that is why Lent and Easter are my favorite liturgical seasons/church holidays/Holy days. I learn so much from them every year.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

And...

Praise the Lord I can eat meat again! I gave it up for Lent, and that was by far the hardest thing that I have ever done. In past Lenten seasons, I thought giving up soda or chocolate was hard. Puh-leeze. Those were the kiddie pools. Meat was a bottomless ocean of challenges.

I failed three times, and yes I can count them and remember exactly what meal it was, who I was with, and where I was. Better to repent and talk with God then to be an ungracious guest, as my good friend reminded me...which came after I teasingly scolded him for eating lamb chops last Lent when he gave up meat. So true.

In retrospect, I am glad that I failed. In failing, I learned more about myself and what I am (and not) capable of. My sufferings of passing up pepperoni pizza and burgers paled in comparison to Jesus' sufferings on the cross.

Last Lent, my friends Fr. David and Fr. Christian said:
"we hope the entire parish will fail in our Lenten promises. We are both hopeful that St. Thomas Parish will be unsuccessful each time we attempt to rely only on our own efforts, so that little by little during this Lenten season we will turn more and more to God"
When I tried relying on my own power to pass up meat, it was extremely hard. But when I remembered why I was doing it and Who was there to help me overcome temptation, I didn't pick up that bologna sandwich or those buffalo wings.

Next year I might give up meat again, or I might try giving up swearing. Hahaha! We'll see what happens when Lent rolls around next year.

Friday, April 2, 2010

On A Day Like This

On a day like this, this beautiful Friday, I can't even begin to fathom the gravity of what we will do. We will put Jesus on the cross and watch him suffer and die.

It's a glorious day outside, as it has been almost every day this Holy Week. The thing that I draw from God's gifts is that, in spite of sin and suffering and death, there is still goodness in the world. Though we mark the death of Jesus on the cross today, we know that it is not the end. We wait expectantly for Easter Sunday, when He will conquer death by rising from the tomb.

It has been a part of my tradition to go to every Triduum mass, if I can. This has only been in the past 2 years. Now that I look back on past Lents and Holy Weeks, I was not aware of the significance. Sure, I heard the words but my heart never processed them. I am glad to have finally been awakened by God to the beauty of the Triduum. Of Easter.

In the past I have served at at least one Triduum mass each season. It was only last year that I was a part of all three and Easter. I was the incense girl at Holy Thursday, a server at the Good Friday service, and the incense girl again at the Vigil Mass. At the sunrise Easter service, I was a lector. I know that just attending Mass makes me a part of it, but I like being engaged more. I feel that I am more aware of what is happening, of the words said, of the actions performed.

Yesterday, my friend Fr. David and I talked about why we love to serve and say Mass (obviously, he only does that last part!). It was yesterday and today that I finally realized how much I love being an altar server and being a part of Mass in a more active way than most.

Another tradition of mine during Holy Week is to go on a Holy Thursday hike with FD. This year we tried to get more people to come along, but schedules couldn't be changed to let them join us. So off we trekked to Middle Prong Trail, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It was a beautiful trail. Awesome that it was a gradual climb, situated along the Middle Prong Little River (I think I got it right...I need a map).

We didn't hike for very long because we started late and had to be back in Knoxville at 3, but what we did accomplish was well worth it. Look at how amazing it is! I have a basic understanding of the geology behind how these mountains were formed, but it still continues to boggle my mind. After hiking, I always have a sense that God knew and knows what He is doing.

Obviously...
Right before we arrived at the trail head

The awesome spot where we had lunch!

So with that in mind, I know that God knew what he was doing the night that Jesus washed the disciples' feet, broke bread, and gave thanks. God knew what he was doing the day that Jesus was condemned, was crucified, and was buried.

It still boggles my mind, but I am so ever grateful for what Jesus did during this holiest of weeks, and I am ever thankful for what God did in the mountains around me.

On days like these, sadness and happiness somehow co-exist. While the trees are still bare, I know that in a few weeks, the world will be green again. The forest will come back. Jesus dies today, and we all play a part in His death. The good news is that He still loves us and saves us.