Something has been in the back of my mind for a while. It’s about the words that people say. Words are funny things – they have different meanings depending on tone, different meanings depending on who says them, different meanings based on where the recipient is in their head. What sounds perfectly reasonable to one person is completely irrational to someone else. Is that right? Not necessarily. A speaker can’t be responsible for controlling where the recipient is in their head, but a speaker can be cognizant of the words they use and how they could be received. On the flip side, a recipient may need to consider the underlying message or thought behind the words. It’s up to both parties to be aware.
Words spoken in anger or disappointment can hurt – even if that’s not the intention. Words spoken with the wrong tone can hurt. Even words said sweetly can hurt if the words themselves aren’t right. Words spoken with contradictory actions leave the recipient wondering what is true. Actions speak louder than words, but actions are diminished if the words don’t match.
One of the things I am working on this year is patience. For those who know me, patience is not one of my strengths. I tend to want things done immediately and to the highest standard possible. This is difficult for me to convey without being frustrated when things don’t happen the way I want them to. Working on this is going to be a struggle – I know this. Add in a busy schedule, two little kids with busy schedules, as well as the number of distractions that are in today’s society and you can see that being patient is larger than just taking the time to breathe or count to 10 or relax.
I am trying to be patient with my words and actions. I am trying to consider the impact that my word choice and tone has on others. I’m trying to pause in important conversations to seek the truly right word or phrase. Too often, I speak before I think – or rather, I’ve thought, but my brain has moved on to the next thing and my mouth is trying to catch up.
I’m also trying to make sure my words and actions match. I don’t want to send contradictory messages. If I say I am going to do something, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to over-commit, but I want to make sure I follow through on those things I have agreed to.
It’s daunting to think that the words you speak (or write) can influence more than just yourself. Those words travel throughout time and space to impact those around you or those you don’t even know. Take the time to consider your words. I know I will.
I’m a new runner. I only started running about 6 months ago. Since then, I have completed a couple of local 5ks, several virtual races, and gradually increased my mileage. I’m not the fastest runner, but I try hard and I am learning.
The last 2 months have been difficult for training. Between the heat, other activities, and several injuries/sore muscles, sometimes it’s hard to get the mileage that I want to get. Especially since I am training for a half-marathon in October.
My biggest problem is pushing too hard, too fast. It usually means I will end up hurting something. That usually means I am out of running commission for a while. For me, that’s hard. I want to do my best and I want to be out running. I can’t improve if I can’t get out there, right?
The last week or so, I have been battling a knee injury. I’ve done something to it…probably a strain. I figured something was wrong when I tried to do an 8 mile training run on Sunday and only made it ¾ of a mile…and even that was a struggle.
So why is this a problem? Some people may say: “Just stop running.” “Just ride a bike.” “Just don’t do it.” The issue is that I need to keep running. I can’t do my half-marathon on a bike. I can’t continue to improve my lifestyle without activity like this. Running has helped me in so many ways. It’s improved my health, it’s helped me lose weight, it’s made me stronger.
The result of my injury is that tomorrow, I will have my first DID NOT START (DNS) for a race I signed up for. It makes me sad to do this. Until this morning, I thought I was at least going to see if they would let me switch from the 10k to the 5k, because I can at least walk the 5k (they don’t allow walkers in the 10k). But the knee is just not cooperating and it’s telling me I need to rest it some more. I wanted to do this race – it was going to be my longest race to date and I wanted to put some more points on the board for the local Grand Prix competition (I’m currently in 4th place for my age group – yippee!).
While this is upsetting, I just have to keep my half-marathon in the back of my mind. That race needs to be my priority. It’s important to me. It’s with my niece, and it will be our first half. Vacation time has been requested and approved; the race has been paid for; plans are set. The only thing that will keep me from running that race is if a doctor says I can’t. Otherwise, I will be at that starting line with her on October 6th, race bib on, and ready to go. I don’t care if I run/walk, run, or crawl, but I will be in that race.
I am determined.
In January, I started a new way of life. Nothing dramatic, but it was time for a change. I decided that I was tired of the way I looked and felt. I decided to become more active and to eat better. I signed up for MyFitnessPal; I started a “Biggest Loser” type of competition at my local Y; and went on about my day.
As I sit here at the beginning of month 8, I decided to look back at what I have done.
- Achievement 1 – Weight Loss – to date, I have lost about 30 pounds. I’m not done yet, and it’s not coming off as fast as I would like, but that’s ok. Am I eating better? Mostly. Can I do better? Sure, but who wants to give up chocolate?
- Achievement 2 – Running – to date, I have raced in 2 virtual 5k races and 3 other 5k races. I am not the fastest runner, but I am working on it. I will say this though, as much as I like the 5k races with other people, I really like the virtual races. I don’t feel as much pressure that I am going to be the last one to cross the finish line. I have at least 3 5k races, a 4-mile virtual race, a 10k, and a half-marathon planned for the next 3 months.
- Achievement 3 – Weight Lifting – if you had asked me in January to lift weights, I would have headed straight to the machines and gone to work, but not challenged myself. In April, I decided that I needed more of a challenge. I poked around on some forums and other websites and found New Rules of Lifting for Women. I started the program in May and am in the 2nd phase. I have (mostly) enjoyed what I have learned while doing it. In addition, I feel stronger and a bit braver…especially those days in which I am the only female in the free weight area.
- Achievement 4 – Clothing – I have dropped 3-4 sizes since January, depending on the brand, style, and type of clothing. This has to be one of my biggest complaints – garment manufacturers cannot seem to standardize their sizes. On top of that, the classic size 8 is not the current size 8 (in my opinion anyway).
What do I see for myself for the rest of this year? Here are my goals:
- Goal 1 – Weight Loss – lose another 10 pounds by the half-marathon, lose remaining weight by the end of the year (but NO LATER THAN March 1).
- Goal 2 – Activity – stick with workouts. I have found that it helps me to plan them out for each month. Then I know what to expect and I can plan the rest of my day with certain expectations. I also need to find something to train for.
- Goal 3 – Weight Lifting – finish New Rules of Lifting for Women by the end of the year. I should be able to accomplish that, unless my half-marathon training interferes too much. After that program, I need to decide what I am going to do. I may go back and start over, or I may decide to try something different. Who knows?
This journey hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns. It’s been tough. I’ve hit a few plateaus. I’ve struggled with food choices. There were days that I didn’t want to log everything I ate, but I did anyway. I made myself accountable to the online friends I had; I made myself accountable to my husband and daughters; and most of all, I made myself accountable to me. There are a few friends that have stuck with me since the beginning – with weekly weigh-ins that we text to each other, friends that listen to me whine and complain (and then help spur me on), friends that cheer me on when I run. To them, I say
thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would have given up way before this without you.
Without a doubt, this has been a hard journey (kind of like the race pictured above). It’s not going to get easier. I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband and two little girls who think it’s a lot of fun to “exercise” with Mommy on those days I decide a DVD is going to be the extent of my workout. I’m lucky to have supportive friends. I’m thankful for those people in cyber-land who run contests, who blog about their efforts, who are always willing to give information to newbies, and serve as inspiration.
As I refocus myself on the rest of the year and the activities I have coming up, I would like to say thank you. Let’s keep supporting each other.
Lent is a time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments.
-Pope Benedict XVI
I know this is a little late, with Lent ending today, but I was going through some old email and came across this quote. While Lent offers the opportunity to renew our faith, especially with new members coming into the church on Easter Vigil, the renewal of one’s faith shouldn’t be confined to one 40-day period of the year.
To me, renewing my faith is a continual process. I am always trying to learn more about my religion and deepen my faith in God. There is just so much I feel I don’t know. I want to understand, and in order for me to grow in my faith, I need to continually seek out answers to my questions. Luckily, my parish is blessed with 2 priests and a religious sister who are available to answer questions.
A community of believers plays a huge part in renewing and deepening one’s faith. Those fellow believers allow you to have support when you doubt, strength when you fall, and prayer when you struggle. I am lucky that I have several friends who are also “seekers” in their faith journey, and they are also available to answer questions, or to hold my hand as I try new(ish) experiences.
For me, knowing that the Mass has been celebrated for the last 2,000 years, and that it is in mostly the same format throughout the world each Sunday helps me to strengthen my connections to other believers. Knowing that there is a body of Catholics celebrating the same sacraments I do gives me a sense of continuity to the earliest Christians.
I am trying better to live by Christ’s example and to follow the teachings of my Church. There were too many years when I was away from the Church, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t necessarily like who I became during those years, so my challenge is to bring myself back to where I was – and I can do that by renewing my faith each day.
- Pope Benedict worried in his homily (disclose.tv)
“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”
– St Therese of Lisieux
“ Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. ”
St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622)
French bishop and writer
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about our parish’s hospitality. In my view, we have come a long way in the last few years. Our Welcoming Committee greets each of our new members. Our Hospitality Ministers greet parishioners as they enter and leave the church. But with a parish of 1200 families, it’s hard to get to everyone, or even make everyone happy. But if everyone tries to be friendly to those around them, attitudes can be changed.
At one of our recent adult education classes, the phrase “open table fellowship” was used. It made me think….When we celebrate Mass, we are coming to the Lord’s table to share in the body and blood of Christ. At His table, all are welcome – none are turned away. So why do we turn away from our fellow diners without a word of welcome? Just as we invite our friends, family, and neighbors into our homes and seat them around our table with words of welcome and thanksgiving, so we should welcome our fellow parishioners as we all gather at the Lord’s table.
So I challenge everyone to be more welcoming to those you meet. A smile, a handshake, a simple “Hello” can go a long way to being a hospitable parish. Hospitality can increase our membership and make those who may have been away from the Church for a while feel welcomed back.
What does the Mass mean to you? To some, coming church is what they are expected to do at Christmas and Easter. To others, it’s where they go on Sundays because that’s what they’ve always done. Yet to others, coming to church is a way to be a member of a living, breathing entity that has existed for over 2,000 years. There’s no right answer to this question, because a person can have each one of those opinions at different times in their life.
The Catholic Church is all of the above. It is a body of worshippers who come together to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is a venue for fellowship and socializing. It is a place to go when you are seeking answers. It is a family brought together by a common purpose, a common faith.
The central point of our mass is the Eucharist. To Catholics everywhere, the Eucharist and wine are the body and blood of Christ – it’s not a symbol – it is Christ’s gift to us every time Mass is celebrated. It’s part of what unites us as Catholics. Our mass is where we come together. We gather with our friends, family, and neighbors. We are joined by the communion of saints to proclaim our unity with each other and to share in the Eucharistic feast at the Lord’s table.
Sister Cheryl is leading a book study on Ron Rohlheiser’s book Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist. It’s an easy read and discusses the author’s journey in discovering what the Eucharist means to him. I have found it to be a very powerful book and it has given me many opportunities to think and to figure out my relationship with the Eucharist.
I have been on my own journey to rediscover/reaffirm/understand my faith. I’m in no way perfect, or an expert on how someone should go about doing this. However, I have a questioning spirit and am always seeking answers. I have been attending the classes offered by our parish staff during this Lenten season. These classes have afforded me the opportunity to learn about the beginnings of the Catholic Church, the mysteries of our faith that I didn’t learn earlier in life (or learned and have forgotten), and the opportunity to talk to other members of the parish who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. This is invaluable to me.
My challenge to myself is to truly ponder what the Eucharist means in my life. I am trying to take the time to think about the beauty and history reflected in our Mass, and to think about what the Church (as an organization, as a body of worshippers, as a faith) means to me.
I invite others to join me on this journey. Learn everything you can. Ask the questions you need to when you are unsure. Become involved – attend classes, discover adoration, come to Communal Penance.
- 40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be a Catholic #32 Daily Mass (deaconcast.com)