August already?

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lilleIt’s been kind of a sad stretch of time since my last post . . . with the summer break wrapping up, things have been busy! But I have to include a picture of my first experience with a Lille baby carrier (awkward snapshot, but still). I fell in love! With the sweet baby, of course, but also with the ability to carry him hands-free for about three hours and do things such as sweep, vacuum, push his sister on a bicycle and pick up toys, while babysitting with Lena earlier this week. It was delightful! I felt just like a kid who dresses up in her dream profession and steals glances in the mirror. Yep. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got far too used to having his little sleepy head and body snuggled up against me, and have been missing it for the past few days . . .

The Dash and I celebrated eleven months of courtship on the feast of St. John Vianney (Old Calendar) and the Fourteen Holy Helpers . . . we’re almost at a year! It’s gone by so fast, and God’s goodness is overwhelming. I love Him and him so much โค I think back to the days when we were first getting to know one another, and I can only marvel at the beauty of a friendship that keeps growing. It’s truly something only God can give. And I also continue to realize how even our wonderful courtship, in and of itself, isn’t enough to make me happy or holy. It brings me so much happiness and opportunities to practice virtue but also reveals to me my faults and littleness, and the greatness of the vocational task that still lies ahead of me. Our courtship is both a dream and a daily grind because we have the ability to see and love one another at our best, but we also have to keep struggling IMG_7661 (2)through life and our human condition while embracing crosses and our learning curves. (They’re mostly my learning curves ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Anyway; this particular picture is from the night he asked me to court him . . . and apart from still melting my heart, it makes me laugh because we look like babies compared to how we are now (and more awkward, too!). And it’s a beautiful paradox to have come so far from that night and yet still feel like we’re at the very beginning. โค

But August! It’s here already! The month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the Assumption, my birthday month, one of my best friend’s birthday months, the month in which tutoring starts back, as well as The Dash’s final semester of college (woohoo!) . . . there’s a lot going on! My first day of tutoring is just over a week away (I can’t wait to start!). I’ll be wrapping up the 54-day novena to Our Lady of Pompeii a few days before my birthday, and then I have about a week placed in between that and the beginning of the 33-day renewal of my Total Consecration. I definitely need it and I’m eager to embark on that ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully I will be able to blog about this month’s remaining shenanigans with some success!

I pray you have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Sig

 

 

 

 

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This moment in time (#1)

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Thank you, Emma, for the inspiration! ๐Ÿ™‚

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What I’m doing: Soaking in some early Saturday afternoon calmness ๐Ÿ™‚ Just for fun, I snapped a quick picture of myself here in the girl’s bedroom (I’m the only one in here right now). Behind me is my bed . . . hanging over it, you’ll see several holy cards, the picture of “Song of the Angels” that The Dash gave me last year–he built the frame himself–, and right beneath it, a blessed image of the Blessed Virgin that friends brought me from Rome. The rest of our room is decked with similar sacramentals ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so much fun for sisters to share a room . . . even in spite of very different personalities and tastes ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, Lena and our youngest sister are already considering and comparing color swatches for what they’re going to paint this room “once I’m gone.” I guess it’s imminent enough to start looking at paint!

Apart from a little laundry and a quick errand, today hasn’t been busy at all, and so right now I’ve been catching up on reading a few of my favorite blogs. I might write a little bit more of fiction soon. After having wrapped up my projects on deadline last week (and although I have another one due next week that I’ll try to tackle Monday), I decided to dabble in something slightly more relaxed and right-brained. I picked up a story I had worked on for years (I initially came up with the idea when I was 15-16 years old) and I jumped in at an, until now, unexplored plot point that was really always the beginning of the story (only, I’d been habitually engrossed in backstory). I haven’t even finished the second scene yet, but it’s been pretty fun ๐Ÿ™‚

What I’m listening to: “Beyond the Stage” by Dario Marianelli. The soundtrack forย Anna Karenina,ย along with Romeo and Juliet by Abel Korzeniowski, are the two major bodies of music that are the guiding inspirations for this story. (Let it be known that I have no interest in watching the corresponding films . . . forbidden love, despair, and suicide aren’t really my thing ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I don’t think I would have ever written fiction at all in my teen years if there wasn’t guiding music behind it.

Both soundtracks are primarily waltz-form and brim with themes of tenderness, darkness, intrigue and suspense–really, almost like a Russian ballet, especially Anna Karenina, which only makes sense. They’re marvelous.

What I’m thinking about: Here we go . . .

  • I finished my re-read Sophia House this morning and, all throughout the final scene (of the story proper, anyway . . . there’s an epilogue afterwards, not exactly necessary but interesting), I cried my eyes out. I hiccuped and grew completely congested and made all sorts of whimpering noises. I wasn’t expecting to cry. But once I reached a certain sentence, my mouth twisted once and it all just came tumbling out. I can count on one hand the books I’ve cried over . . . My temperament isn’t exactly conducive towards such. And I’ve already read Sophia House before (though it must have been several years ago, by my memory), so there weren’t any plot-related surprises.

    But, curled up on the couch after having run over to the post office for Mom, I read that scene and cried and cried. My brother came downstairs and was slightly shocked to find his oldest sister a whimpering, puffy-faced victim of profound fiction. “Are you okay??”

    In this instance, I had sought to re-read Sophia House because I was in a place of personal difficulty and struggle, and so joining my thoughts to the tale of Pawel Tarnowski, a true sufferer, brought a deeper perspective and an acknowledgement of sufferings far greater than my own. And also a reminder of a hope of healing and peace that no suffering is beyond, but which only comes in proportion to one’s willingness to sacrifice all that he is and has to God.

“To be a father in the realm of the soul,” Pawel said. “I would like to be this for you. May I be this for you?”

“Yes, Pawel,” David said in a tone of calm deliberation. “This would be good.”

As if standing on a threshold of radical departure, they faced each other without speaking, gazing now into a dimension that seemed for both to be wholly undiscovered. This sense of embarkation into a fathomless mystery was in no way daunting; neither was it fraught with emotion. It was a moment of perfect stillness.

At last the boy said, “It is a blessed gift to be a son in the realm of the soul. May I be this for you?”

“Yes,” Pawel nodded.

S O P H I Aย ย  H O U S E

  • Well, I’m always thinking about The Dash ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m excited to see him in a little bit and kick off our miniature summer break, now that he’s finished his internship, and that stretches until he starts his final semester of college and I start tutoring next month. It’s always fun to have a little break, especially with your favorite people โค
  • And I’m also thinking about how very, very good Our Lady is. I have brought so many intentions to this novena to Our Lady of Pompeii (on Monday, I’ll be halfway through!) . . . and even more consoling than the increasingly answered prayers, or the graces for endurance, is the growing awareness of her motherly love for me and every soul. What a beautiful thing it is, to be able to trust in Our Lady.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend!

Sig

7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 16 :: On my mind . . .

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

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1.

Too much time gone by, too many thoughts to recount . . . oh, well, something is better than nothing!! July is ending and I’ve only made three posts this month?!

I’ve been pondering the task of stress management over the past few days. For a variety of God-given reasons, the past few months have contained the most mental/emotional stress I’ve personally experienced. (Which honestly isn’t saying too much in the grand scheme of things, I suppose, given the fact that I’ve lived a relatively happy and sheltered life ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Maybe that’s why I haven’t blogged so often recently . . . I’ve been too busy losing hair rather than writing (which might have actually helped me . . . )!

In observing myself, I’ve been honestly astonished at how easy it can be to become imprisoned inside my own feelings of stress and worry, to where simply feeling stressed makes me feel stressed simply because I’m stressed. (Isn’t that delightfully circular?!) Also, it’s been so easy to become so tired, and to lose motivation for combating my stress and anxiety, to where the stress simply becomes my very draining “norm.” However . . . I’ve recently realized that this isn’t sustainable. (*Cough*) Even with prayer! Even with a ton of prayer! I’m having to take physical steps to remedy this . . . so, you might ask, what’s a body to do?

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I’ve committed to some relatively hard daily exercise (no surprise there), fresh air, hydration (because I never seem to subconsciously manage to drink enough fluids on a daily basis), limited sugar . . . but also enough time to read fiction (for reasons explained below), to listen to music that elevates my thoughts a little (at the moment, stirring ballet-like film soundtracks) and to ponder things in a reflective but calm frame of mind.

And I also came to an epiphany recently that accepting stress as part-and-parcel with becoming an adult, and acknowledging that stressful situations will regularly arise between now and the time of my death, is actually incredibly helpful. I’m not sure what was holding me back from that realization, but I’m sure glad it came when it did. Yes, this is stressful, but there are going to be stressful trials all throughout my life and God’s grace is sufficient for all of them if I do my part. These are Crosses (oh, right! Crosses!) that refine and purify and strengthen you, if you accept them and offer them back to God. Marriage and children, while sweetly and supremely beautiful and my heart’s dream, will still be incredibly stressful sometimes! (You have my permission to giggle at me.)

2.

Fiction . . . Particularly, Sophia House. Good, true, beautiful (though not necessarily happy) fiction lifts you out of your pains, hopes and weaknesses . . . and yet simultaneously escorts you deeper into your pains, hopes and weaknesses. Truth is always ordering and healing. You are reminded you are not alone. You perceive your human condition, the continual presence of Providence and the necessity of supernatural hope, in the stories of others.

The act of reading good and true fiction . . . it ushers order back into my perspective of my own struggles and the struggles of others. Sophia House is one of the finest novels in existence. All of my children are going to read it one day (well, I hope so, anyway!) . . . and The Dash, too, if I can force him to ever read fiction, that is ๐Ÿ˜‰

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“Everything I do is worthless,” Pawel sobbed. “Even my play! My stupid, stupid play!”

S O P H I Aย ย  H O U S E

The fact that we have a nicely cleared out piano/sitting room full of sunshine in which to read a book during the afternoons is quite consoling, also ๐Ÿ˜‰

3.

One of Lena and I’s close friends just passed through the Crucible on Parris Island and became a Marine. He didn’t merely survive; he excelled in it and was nearly named Iron Man of the whole company. Our happiness and pride are beyond words!

His mom texted a recording of their first conversation with him post-Crucible, and hearing his voice (for the first time in months) describe his experience of completing the Crucible, as well as hearing the changes and aging that had come into his voice across that gap of time, filled my heart with things impossible to express.

4.

I’m slowly gearing up to tutor for the upcoming school year, and have also been immersed in a few more paid projects with deadlines that have kept me nicely busy–as well as provided me the thorough enjoyment of getting glimpses into the lives and hearts of others who are living out the vocation I desire ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s been a blessing!

5.

Okay, I can’t hold it back any longer . . . I have finally, finally, been able to attend Mass and go to Confession to a priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter. What a blessing!!! Lena and I would never embarrass them by gushing, but in private, they are absolute celebrities to us ๐Ÿ˜‰ What a joy it’s been to watch this particular priest visit our parish and work in tandem with our wonderful parish priest for the past few weeks.

6.

Yesterday marked a whole year since the first day The Dash and I really spent getting to know one another as new friends in the company of our families. At the end of it, I was decidedly smitten.

Remembering that day fills me with so much gratitude! It is such a joy to reminisce about all the things that went into that day, like swimming and volleyball games, dancing and having our first legitimate conversation together because we happened to be able to sit beside one another during lunch (a total coincidence of course, ahem . . .) ๐Ÿ˜‰

God is so good. He is the source of every happiness and the only End towards which our hearts journey in sincerity and truth, and yet He loves us so much that He also sends us friends and companions to love and be loved by, to know and to be known by: to be a shadow and a mirror of His Divine and wholly generous love–to pursue Him in one another’s company, to grow in virtue together as members of His Body. Our Lord has such gentleness and patience with my weaknesses and it amazes me, how willing He is to watch over my feeble attempts at perfection and slowly guide me towards Him through the tiniest events in my life, through all my stumbles, and especially through this courtship: all of these, in ways I could never have expected. Few things are sweeter this side of Heaven than what The Dash and I have been given together in our friendship and courtship ๐Ÿ™‚ Deo Gratias!

As a side note: it pains me that I don’t have any pictures from that day! However, on a whim, I just looked to see if I’d taken any pictures at all around that time . . . and sure enough, the day before that visit (if the picture is dated correctly . . .), I was out in the backyard, experimenting with my CANON and trying to get some of the sky to reflect in my subjects’ eyes for better light.

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Anyway, I guess I eventually ran out of subjects and had to resort to taking awkward pictures of myself as I tried to master the technique. However funny the photo is, it’s still a documented photo of my face the day before . . . well, the day before I started falling in love with The Dash โค

7.

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And this is me, just a couple of weeks ago, getting ready to go through a few training webinars and, meanwhile, sending The Dash (at work) a funny face as I attempted to express my nervousness of the Unknown World of Webinars . . . But happily, they were pretty fun; although not nearly so fun as having The Dash to send that picture to ๐Ÿ˜‰

I pray you have a blessed Monday and a very happy feast of St. Apollinaris!

Sig

 

 

 

 

I didn’t expect . . .

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Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, โ€œWhat! You too? I thought I was the only one!โ€

-C. S. LEWIS

We made it to ten months! Ten months since he asked me to court him!!! Courtship flies when you blog about it constantly . . .

Also, as of this post, I think I’ve finally exhausted our (rather large) resource of six-month courting milestone pictures, so we’re really going to need to take a new batch of couple pictures over the next month or two. (Yay!!!) I can hear The Dash now . . . When it’s not so hot. And I can only agree (it’s bad) . . . still, I’m itching to drive out to some prime local location and let my brother take new pictures of us. Our six-month photos are precious, but they were a long time ago and reflect a stage of our courtship that we’ve moved past as we’ve matured, been challenged and continued growing together.

But anyway. Back to the present moment โค

Ten months . . . that’s over three hundred days . . . and that’s a long time! Needless to say, I’m even more head over heels with this amazing, amazing man than I was to begin with. (Did I mention that he was amazing?)

Ten months has been an ample amount of time to discover how much I know him, and how much I still don’t. Because a person is always going to be sacred, always a mystery . . . always going to be God’s in a way they can never be mine.

With that in mind, I’ve spent ten months now of being slowly introduced, by God, to The Dash on a daily basis, so often being allowed to go deeper into his heart than I did before.ย It’s been such a privilege. And through God’s gift, The Dash has had the same privilege (ahem) of coming to know my colorful and messy heart, and so many of my quirks and inclinations and deepest thoughts.

I write a lot here about the fundamentals of courtship. Because yes, courtship is about rationality and discernment, self-control and direction (dancing, and chocolate truffle ice cream . . . I digress).

But above that irreplaceable foundation flowers other things.ย The “chemistry” as some people call it. But really, it’s the chaste sweetness of close friendship and, yes, romantic love. The affection, excitement, sheer happiness, and peace you are given in their presence, as well as the naturally growing desire for marriage. Those intangibles become (permit me an amateur’s metaphor) a thriving ivy that flowers around the indomitable castle of faith and reason in courtship.

You see, courtship is the prologue and early chapters of initiating a beautiful unity of heart and mind with another person, rooted in Truth: a unity that will, God-willing, last for life (and eternity, because everyone in Heaven is totally unified in mind and heart! Won’t that be sublime?!).

But even so, it’s unity with an adopted son or daughter of God, who ultimately belongs to Him and is destined to adore Him forever with all his/her body, mind and soul. This beautiful unity (in Truth) that comes through courtship, and eventually betrothal and marriage, is simply a means to an even more beautiful end: the Beatific Vision . . . union with God. It’s such a gift.

In thinking over these past ten months of courtship with The Dash, it struck me that it would be a lot of fun to write about ten things I didn’t expect about courtship. (I like it when I can make significant numbers align.) However, each one became so long and rather multi-faceted that I felt six would do.

I assure you, ten months of being in a wonderful relationship is ample time for a girl to encounter things she didn’t anticipate. More than six, actually, but this post can’t go on forever . . .

I didn’t expect . . .

1. God uses our courtship to draw my heart to Him

The other day, I was reading an interesting quote from an article (unfortunately, I can’t remember the source . . .), stating how marriage isn’t difficult, per se: rather, life is difficult, and marriage (because of its obligations and responsibilities) simply limits where you can run to when things get hard.

Courtship is somewhat similar. It forges an intensely specific perspective within you, especially when you go through hard times, because you’re already in the stages of growing in unity of mind and heart with another person. The emotional stakes of your heart are simply far bigger when you love someone else in that way. It’s how Our Lord made things to be. And, ultimately, He uses that as a tool to bring you closer to Him.

In courtship, you begin suffering together. Occasionally sufferings arise that wouldn’t arise at all if you weren’t courting, because you encounter and care for the other person’s difficulties and sorrows as well as your own. But that’s a part of life. Embracing suffering is part of the Catholic life, and is part of Catholic courtship, too.

As a matter of fact, when you desire to do something amazing, such as 1) have a pure pre-marital relationship 2) intellectually, spiritually, emotionally & materially prepare to begin a holy family, and 3) one day to live in chastity and charity as a married couple for God’s glory while raising children to be saints . . . it’s very likely you’re going to fall under attack, even during courtship, and/or Our Lord is going to send you suffering to refine and strengthen your love for Him and your readiness for marriage. Even during courtship. Especially during courtship! You will be challenged as an individual and as a couple to put God first and to cling to Him during confusion, worry or pain.

Only, I didn’t expect this to manifest itself so clearly during our courtship, with the result of me being forced to rely on Our Lord in ways I hadn’t before. Because it’s all about Him.

The ten months I’ve spent in our courtship have experienced stretches of intense growth, pain, fear, and necessity for sacrifice unlike any other time in my life. I didn’t expect that. Of course, the patches of pain have been far outweighed by joyful times and happy, loving moments.

But the suffering has helped me the most, because (in spite of my weakness and spiritual complaining), it has thrust me (and, collectively, The Dash and I) back onto God, back onto prayer, and back onto the reason of our courtship: God’s glory.

2. “Being myself” in courtship still sometimes means being awkward

I liked The Dash from the very beginning. I fell in love with him early on. By the time he asked me to court him, I was more than ready to say yes, and yet I had all the natural shyness and butterflies that came from being attracted to a wonderful man and friend who I, nevertheless, had so much left to learn about. Not to mention figuring out how to help himย get to know me.

Ten months in, and it’s hard to recognize the nervous, bashful girl who started courting The Dash. Most of the time, that is.

But . . . building a relationship takes time, work, and patience. It occurs gradually and gently over a long span of time. When I compare the (still relative) newness of The Dash and I’s love for one another with the seasoned love of, say, my parents–the closeness doesn’t compare. And The Dash and I are close. So often we are natural and ourselves with one another . . . but even seeking to be completely and always “ourselves” around one another (in the normal, healthy sense of the term, like giving our honest opinions and not being a little awkward from time to time) is still a learning curve that will continue even after we’re first married!

So for now, in our courtship, there are still times when I get awkward, don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do with my hands, or just giggle bashfully. I didn’t expect that, ten months in. You marry your best friend (or so the saying goes), and I know that will certainly be the case for me. The Dash is already my best friend. But at the same time, I know The Dash and I have so much room to become far better friends than we are now. There is a richness, knowing-ness, and peace that we are still waiting and working to attain, and that, honestly, we’ll be cultivating for the rest of our lives.

And that’s entirely fine with me.

3. Routine is a deeply integral part of our courtship

Routine! A beautiful and necessary aspect of an ordered life in general, I really didn’t expect how much routines would factor into the healthiness and growth of our relationship.

Most specifically, our normal routines are: attending Mass every Sunday together; attending Adoration usually once a month together; talking on the phone every day; praying specific daily prayers together; seeing one another one or more times a week; setting aside time for at least one in-depth talk per month; making a point to acknowledge and celebrate each new month of courtship . . . these are the prime examples of the routine The Dash and I have built our courtship around.

Yes, spontaneity is beautiful, too (and we have definitely had our share of fun, spontaneous moments!). But routine becomes the skeleton around which you can contribute to the order of your courtship. And sometime, spontaneity gives birth to a new routine, like when The Dash, on a whim, invited Lena and I over to his apartment for lunch after First Saturday Mass and choir practice a few months ago. That quickly became a tradition โค

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4. My biggest struggle has been patience

No, my biggest struggle hasn’t been waiting to do things like holding hands (although that’s hard sometimes, too…). It hasn’t even been learning how to communicate well (although that was and is a huge learning curve!).

Rather, it’s been patience, and humbly surrendering to God’s timeline for our courtship.

The intentionality of courtship, in its traditional sense, means that it’s going to be a relatively streamlined relationship that won’t last longย asย a courtship, either way. Because, after all, it isn’t appropriate to simply linger in a romantic relationship that either 1) isn’t right, or 2) has all the earmarks of a potential successful marriage, but without pressing forward to betrothal and marriage, if you don’t have a valid reason for waiting.

However, at the same time, I’ve learned that courtship isn’t a race to see how little time you can spend discerning marriage and preparing for betrothal, either. It’s important to have a workable timeline for your courtship (“by around this {reasonable} time, we should plan to decide if we think we’re ready to get betrothed, if we need more time, or if this isn’t working”).

The Dash and I set such a timeline from the beginning, and it gave us the purpose and sense of direction we knew was important. But at one point, Our Lord saw fit to show us we needed to extend our original timeline for our courtship. And so, I learned it’s important to have a healthy and humble attitude of surrender to God’s Will as to when you’ll actually move forward to betrothal–especially if you’re of the naturally impatient type. (I believe sanguines are numbered among these. Ahem.)

When confronted with the need to extend our timeline, I quickly realized how interiorly possessive I’d become over what I thought would be the “end times” of our courtship. But when I was reminded that The Dash and I’s courtship was God’s possession, not mine, then things grew spiritually clearer.

However, I will note that, for a woman, patience is very difficult (really, nearly impossible) if you don’t have clear and consistent communication about your timeline and where you both are in regards to it. Especially as a female, I think it’s far easier sometimes to be patient about a “known” than an “unknown.”

5. Expecting him to always make me happy equates to turning him into an object

Now, there hasn’t been a decisive “learning moment” for me in relation to this, but rather, there have been numerous small realizations of this truth along the way. I didn’t necessarily expect to have to learn this.

But while you should rightly expect emotional health out of your relationship, and a caring reciprocity of love and selflessness between one another, that still doesn’t mean you should look to the other person to always make you happy and at peace. The Dash, as miraculous a creation as he is, can’t make me happy and at peace all the time.

He wasn’t made to do that. Only God can do that.

I have seen how I have needs The Dash can satisfy, and needs that God alone can satisfy. I must approach The Dash with selflessness. Now, this doesn’t mean that I refrain from being honest about if I’m feeling upset, blue, sick, or what have you, and accepting his compassion . . . quite the opposite!

Rather, this means that I resolve to be honest with him about my needs, accepting of his love and help, but always turned towards God to reach the places only He can penetrate within me.

It’s a real womanly temptation to expect a man to know how she’s feeling and to feel resentful if he doesn’t pick on things. Now, if he’s the right man for her, he’s often intuitive and can pick up on the fact that something’s not right (The Dash is great at this, by the way). But this doesn’t always happen. Or it does, and perhaps he doesn’t know the best way to probe deeper. For my part, I’ve learned that if I interiorly expect The Dash to know how I feel, but avoid telling him, it always tempts me towards resentment that he doesn’t know how I’m feeling and, therefore, isn’t helping me. (Nonsensical Award, anyone?) While I’ve never done this consciously, I have noticed it as a recurring female tendency I have to combat.

This kind of irrational, instinctive expectation on my part demands that The Dash be a “Make-Me-Happy-At-All-Times” object . . . but even more deceptively, it also demands that he somehow be omniscient. Hmm, that sounds like God, doesn’t it?

It’s irrational but very real, and it can become a vice if I’m not careful. However, if I commit to communicate to The Dash whenever I’m not feeling right, and receive whatever love and help he can give, that opens my heart to loving him selflessly and valuing his compassion as a treasure: because I’m no longer expecting him to be God.

6. Maintaining our physical boundaries is both easy and hard

It sounds contradictory, I know . . . but I really didn’t expect how easy it would be to maintain our physical boundaries . . . and I didn’t expect how hard it would be, either!

I’ve mentioned our guidelines for physical boundaries here and here,ย but suffice it to say that any exclusive physical expressions of affection shouldn’t be a part of Catholic courtship (for surprisingly coherent moral reasons listed in those aforementioned posts). The Dash and I have brief hi/bye/thank-you hugs like we would with family members. But as long as our courtship lasts, we’ll refrain from anything else.

I didn’t expect how easy it would be, but I attribute this to several things:

1. Courting a virtuous man who is loving but self-controlled. I have to brag on The Dash here. There is a deep, mutual agreement between the two of us as to these boundaries; I’ve never been in doubt for a moment that The Dash is leading us both in these commitments, simply because of how he conducts himself. The security and peace that comes from that is beyond words. He’s amazing!

2. Regular prayer and special consecrations, as a couple, to Our Lady and St. Joseph. We pray every day to Our Lady to “keep our courtship pure and chaste.”

3. We both belong to the Angelic Warfare Confraternity and without a doubt receive huge graces from it.

4. We maintain the use of chaperones, and we keep to our commitment of not being completely alone together for more than brief, unavoidable moments of time (like Chaperone has to go to the bathroom when it’s just the three of us . . .) — although, again, this doesn’t preclude private conversations.

And on the opposite side of the coin . . . well, it’s still hard. Concupiscence means you have to keep custody of your thoughts and desires whether you’re in a relationship or not. When you are in a relationship, the responsibility to take care is doubled (at least)! And I couldn’t have expected how hard it is, sometimes, to abide by our boundaries, because of the natural affection that’s there. You want to express your love for the other person physically; and one day, in God’s good time, you’ll be able to. In the meantime, the waiting is beautiful, because sacrificing for something good is beautiful.

Anyway . . . I think that’s enough of my rambling for one post. (My wordcount informs me that I’m at nearly 3000 words. Yikes.) But it’s not every day that you get to celebrate ten months of courtship with your best friend, so I think that warrants something . . . well . . . rambling ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have the feeling I delivered!

In reflecting on all the beautiful and unexpected things that happened to bring The Dash and I together into our courtship (which I do quite a lot), I think my favorite quote from Pride and Prejudice sums up my side of it quite eloquently. Although The Dash is my Mr. Darcy (though he never seemed pompous and he did dance with me at our first meeting) . . . Mr. Darcy’s words are my words.

Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her.

“I cannot fix on the hour,” he said, “or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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God bless, and a very happy feast of the Seven Holy Brothers, Martyrs!

Sig

July is (random observations) . . .

July4

. . . hot!!!

As in “put my hair into a bun every day” hot.

I snapped the above picture after a (hot) day of cleaning, laundry, and canning pears on Monday (although I was one of the much lesser contributors to the whole canning enterprise. I was cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes after the canning, etc…) Lena is in the background, her hair also in a bun. We Donellan women are putting our hair up, people. In the words of The Dash, “Look out.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

July3

A delightfully clean bathroom. Unfortunately, I am too proud to show the “before” picture. I did send the “before” photo to The Dash, so you can rest assured that however proud I am, I’m not that proud.

July5

At one point during the canning process, they called me downstairs to factor an accurate(ish) ratio of pectin to pears, based off an online ratio table, which was oriented around 7 cups of pears per batch. We eventually discovered we were dealing with 12 cups per batch. So how much pectin would that be?? (13.5 tablespoons, more or less.)

July1

We have been canning fruit practically ever since we moved to our current home (seven years ago, this September). The builders/previous owners of this home planted blueberry bushes, horse apple trees, pear trees, and a fig tree. We were thrown into “Canning 101” when we wound up with more fruit than we could consume in cobblers. (Although we can consume a lot of cobblers, I assure you.)

Monday, Mom, Lena and youngest sister made jar after jar of Holiday Spice Pear Preserves (or pancake syrup, depending on how much pectin was used per batch; either way, a success!) . . . which are, frankly, sumptuous. Cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg heaven.

July6

Here is banana pudding, replete with milk and preservatives and rich deliciousness: once-a-year dessert finery. We always make it for one of the summer American holidays (4th of July, or Memorial Day, or Mother’s Day . . .). I’ve had the honor of making it the past couple of years. So far, it has survived me mixing the wrong ingredients together and mildly scorching the pudding. That’s what strainers are for.

However, right now *sigh* I’m done with sugar . . . I know it’s been affecting, at least somewhat, my hormonal health (or, really, lack thereof) and how I’ve been able to deal with stress. Taking it away won’t fix everything, but it will certainly improve the landscape a little!

July2

Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night โค For the curious-eyed, The Dash is wearing an apron I received for my eighteenth birthday, bearing a picture of Johnny Gage and the phrase, “Genius at Work” (a reference to theย Emergency!ย episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth ๐Ÿ™‚

July9
Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re only a few days away from our 10-month courting anniversary! Each new month is a blessing. Tuesday night, my family and I showed The Dash a treasured secret of our secluded mountain road: a fantastic yearly fireworks show on top of a nearby hill. We pull off onto the side of the road, arrange ourselves on the grass with the help of some lawn chairs, and soak in the display like villagers watching castle parties from afar. At first, we thought They (The Party People) would be setting off the fireworks last Saturday night, but after pulling off the side of the road and listening to the frogs croak for an hour with nary an explosion, The Dash was (understandably) rather skeptical of their existence (the fireworks, that is–not the frogs). Fortunately we were able to regain his faith ๐Ÿ˜‰

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There is a beautiful (if intense) 54-day novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii that fell into my lap only a few days ago, thanks to a friend emailing me this homily.ย It is challenging, consoling and uplifting–and, as with all things under God’s Providence, perfectly timely. The whole text is here.

Yesterday I took some time to read a little of the story of the origins of devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii, along with the story of Blessed Bartolo Longo,ย as well as prepare a long list of intentions for this novena. Something that’s dawned on me is that, the greater your intentions, the greater your suffering or anxiety or desires . . . the greater your prayers should often be. Prayer is our most powerful recourse, and it should grow in proportion to our needs.

July11

And finally, a walk this morning! Much-needed and very brisk. I somehow managed to walk to the cadence of two poems the entire time, mumbling them under my breath . . . hopefully I didn’t look too insane . . .

July8

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now, far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.

July10

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .

A blessed feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to you all, and happy Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig