Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ignatian Workout

Quick update:

Training:  Stephanie B. and I did an awesome circuit/boot camp style work out on Tuesday morning.  It's always great to see her.  And working out is so much more fun (and probably productive) when you're laughing the whole time.  I also got Insanity in the mail on Tuesday!  I had ordered it on ebay, but then received a message saying the seller was shady and I probably wouldn't receive it.  I was bummed. But, it did come, and I got it for super cheap.  Woot.   I'm going to start next Tuesday!   I went to the gym tonight and did a five mile interval on the treadmill and elliptical type machine.  It was nice, it's been a while since I've had a good run.  Other than that I've been doing a lot of Jackie Warner workout DVDs.  It's just so dang hot, and I'm too lazy to run early in the morning and it's too creepy to be a night jogger. 

Spirituality:  I bought a book a couple of months ago called "The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith"  Jason and I had started reading it together but when the semester picked up, we didn't get to see each other as much and the reading dropped off.  Well, we've picked it back up! I'm really enjoying it.  The author does a lot of comparing to athletes, which I appreciate. Much like training for an athletic event he encourages the reader to begin slowly, remain committed, and work toward a goal (which sounds very familiar to Deacon Pete's advice to Jason and I). It's based on the writings of St. Ignatius Loyola and after an introduction to prayer is broken down into four "workouts".  Jason and I are beginning our first one this week.  Side note: I thought this book was perfect because St Ignatius Loyola is the namesake of the church Jason and I attend in Houston, and a place where Jason learned a lot about the Catholic Church  :) 

I've also been listening to a podcast during my workouts of a Bible Study using Scott Hahn's "Understanding the Scripture: A Complete Course on Bible Study"  I'll need to go back and sit down with the Bible and Hahn's book to really get much out of it, but it's a nice little primer for the book.  The Wagner's were awesome enough to get J Fry "Understanding the Scriptures" when he was Baptized. 

Domestication:  Ok I'm going to need the most help in this area.  My ability to stay clean and organized has big ups and downs. I'm just not very consistent.  Every once in a while I'll get on a cleaning kick...but it doesn't happen quite often enough.  Any advice here would be appreciated!  I did write down a recipe for a healthy creamy basil pesto dip or sauce.  It sounds delicious.  I actually have a bunch of recipes I can't wait to try from a book my wonderful future mother-in-law got me for Christmas!  But both the pesto recipe and the ones from the book require a food processor for purees...I suppose that means someone will need to get the food processor from our registry  ;)   I'll be honest, thus far, that's probably the thing I'm most excited about on our registry.  

And there you go!  That's what I've been up to lately :)  

PS You should read my sister's Blog: Everlasting Encouragement  She wrote a beautiful tribute to my Meemaw 

"God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven. 
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully. 
As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go." 
 St. Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriathan Training

"Marriathon" is my attempt to combine marriage and marathon. And today was quite the marriathon training day! 

This morning Jason and I went to St. Ann to meet with Deacon Pete and discuss our FOCCUS Assessment results.  I have to admit we were a bit nervous.  We took the test about two months ago, and honestly, on very little sleep. Jason had been called into work the night before and I decided to go in with him thinking it would be a real quick procedure....well, this real quick procedure turned into a 6 hour stay at the lab. We didn't get home until around 6 or 7 am...when we left the lab people were walking in for work.  Our meeting with the Deacon that day was at 9am.  Pretty much I showered, took a nap while my hair dried, and then left to take our assessment. 

I have to say, I was pleased with our results.  There were areas that we knew we needed to talk about after taking the test, and we did talk about them, and those are mostly the areas the Deacon brought up in our meeting today.  On the "most important" questions we scored in the the 90% range on answering the way the test says you should answer.  And our communication abilities are excellent, in fact according to FOCCUS 100%.  I attribute that to Jason's history of debate and my counseling skillz.  We went over a few of the bigger questions and I think we got a lot out of it.  Our biggest area that needed more discussion was finances.  But this didn't surprise Jason and I because we had already begun talking about money after we took the test.  We did have a couple of "oops" that may have been due to our sleep deprivation, or the test's uncanny way of asking questions in the most confusing way possible. Jason completely skipped a question and I somehow managed to concern Deacon Pete that I thought Jason's parents didn't like my religion...which is not true.  

Here's the best part.  So after going over the test Deacon Pete started to talk to us about things which help keep a couple together (seeing as the divorce rate is 50% now). And the last thing he said was couples need to pray together more. People do a lot of private prayer or large group prayer, but when you enter into marriage you become one, thus praying as one is very important.  He talked about how doing this can feel a little awkward at first, and then, he compared it to training for a marathon (he must read my blog).  He said you start out small, with simple prayers such as before meals, saying the Hail Mary and Our Father together.  You gradually build on this as you work towards that marathon of an enriching joint prayer life.  I really appreciated this analogy, and I'm so excited to start enhancing our prayer life together.

After our meeting with Deacon Pete we headed to Bed Bath and Beyond to register!!!  I look forward to registering pretty much every time I go into Bed Bath and Beyond.  Here's the thing; no one ever tells you how long it takes to register.  There are a million options and you have to be sure whatever you picked out in the kitchen area will match what you're picking out in the bathroom area. Thank goodness we registered in Lewisville where the store is small and not the huge one in Dallas.  It took a grand total of 3 and a half hours!  Jason had definitely lost the pep in his step after we left the kitchen gadget area (pretty much the first area we went to)...I'd even say it was starting to waver before we were finished there.  I had a lot of fun.  It was cool to plan out what our future home might look like!  How we are ever going to fit all the kitchen gadgets we registered for into a tiny apartment kitchen, I don't know; but they're all so cool! Besides, I'm taking Deacon Pete's advice: we are preparing for our lives together fifty years from now.  And in fifty years I fully intend on having a big kitchen.  Maybe that's not the context Deacon meant this, but it still works.  

 Still my feet are super tired now...good thing we registered for a foot massage; and Jason is napping on the couch.   It's even more amazing because I know we're not finished.  Jason told me to make sure this was very clear. So don't get wedding shopping happy just yet because we still have tools and luggage and more to look at.  But, if you're curious, our registry is up and running on the Bed Bath and Beyond website!  

I'm glad we got to do all of this today.  This month has been wedding month on facebook...pretty much every weekend in June someone (usually someones) I know has gotten married.  They've all had such beautiful weddings and it's exciting to see them looking so joyful.  There's nothing that shines joy like a wedding does :)  Congratulations to everyone who has been married recently!   Anyways, it's been giving me a real wedding itch...I'm getting all giddy about ours; c'mon January!      

Update on my workout/training status:  Next week I plan on getting a personal trainer through the gym at UNT.  I'm going to give that a try over the next two months so I'm ready for when my dress comes in!   It's supposed to be here in September I think  :-D  Also for engagement pictures, which I think are happening in September or October!!  I had really wanted to go to CrossFit but o my goodness that place is expensive! It costs $179 a month for group classes...  Compare that to say 24 hour fitness where you get group classes and a full gym for $30 a month.  I know I know, CrossFit is better and etc etc...but can it possibly be that much better?  I dunno, but I probably won't ever find out because I don't have an extra $180 dollars laying around each month  :) 

And finally:  Everyone remember, tonight is the Gold Cup Finals!  Go USA!! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

With Love from DC

A couple weeks after Jason proposed, my mom called me and said a giant box had come in the mail for Jason and I.  I was very curious.  I asked my mom where it was from and she said some address in DC.  I was immediately sure that this was a product of Rebecca Sams and John Passmore.  And I was very excited to open the box. These two have an uncanny ability to send awesome and unexpected gifts.

*Example* I had received a mystery book from Amazon in the mail around the time of my birthday and came to find out it was from Rebecca and John.  I just love them.

Ok so Jason and I finally get possession of the box!  I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely never expected to find so many little treasures.  I had taken pictures of everything after we opened it but I didn't want to just post them of Facebook because it was too much fun for that.  Also I was in the throws of a crazy busy semester. Now that I have a blog I think it's the perfect medium to display how great of friends Rebecca and John are; even from states away!  The following series of pictures make up the most creative engagement gift I've ever seen...also our very first engagement/wedding gift  :o)

This was on the top of the package explaining its contents:  "Y'all are some of our first friends to become engaged. The contents of your engagement box, though selected with love may not be the most traditional method of congratulations. But we sure do love y'all!  John and Rebecca"

"We got pretty darn excited by the idea that y'all could grow your own tomato plants! And these grow upside down!"  Jason plans on using these to make his famous salsa...I'm still waiting for this to happen. (Granted he can't make his salsa without his comal which is in Houston)

"People should NEVER have to bend down to wash their feet. We firmly believe this"  This was the very first item opened.  I am now also a firm believer...except that you have to bend down and pick the thing off the ground after each use in order to rinse it off.  But my feet have never been cleaner. 

"Being from Obama-land, we thought y'all should become better people."  

"If y'all want to move to Virginia and hang out with us that's cool...No pressure..."  We might need the cheap apartment edition :)

My favorite:  "These claim to add some "glamour to your life." They also serve to block out the hectic wedding planning world while relaxing to the musical stylings of  Kenny G., Bach, or Justin Bieber. See attached demonstration." 

On Left: "Becca's journal for deep and meaningful thoughts." On Right: "Jason's journal for his Justin Bieber inspired philosophies of life."  Mine's still empty, but Jason's is surprisingly full.

On left: "For our hands down favorite T-Sip. We love you just how you are. And Becca's psychology degree can help you recover from the trauma of 4 years in Austin."  On Right: "Hop on the "Eco Highway""  These will be useful for my running escapades.

On Left: "For all your t-sip dusting needs. (Also the official hand gear of the National Snake Dodgeball Association)."  On Right: "For all your domestic dusting needs (Also the official hand gear of the National Snake Dodgeball Association)"   How did she know my desire to become domesticated?  Also, my lesser known desire to become snake dodgeball champ of the world.

On Left: "A true test of any relationship is the handling of new pets. We think y'all are up to the challenge."  On right: "It is pretty, fun, and utilitarian. Plus it makes us smile. Bounce on floor for full effect."

Top: "Where post-its, rainbows, and tornadoes meet."  Left: "For happy writing endeavors: bright, cute, ball point pens  :-)"  Right: "Because it should always be kinda like Christmas for y'all."  Enough post its to put notes in Jason's lunch for life.

Left: "For when you need to turn on more than your heart light. *John Passmore assures me it is a reference to a Neil Diamond Song"  Right: "It's all MacGyver needed. So we got y'all 55 yards to get you started."

Top: "For all your large-print labeling needs (ie cars, homes, etc)."  Bottom: "For when you just can't make it to Wal-Mart (or they forget to offer you a happy sticker). Also, for when you just wanna smile"   It makes me all giddy to get a gift with Fry on it...that's gonna be my last name :)

On left: "Look they're made out of bevo's second cousin!"  On Right: "For all your 'tasty, manly pursuits' (Rebecca Sams inspired)."

Top: "Cause who doesn't need a Tic-Tac? (White for the bride, Orange for the t-sip. Sharing is permitted)"  Bottom: "We suggest saturday morning pig-eggs, with turkey bacon, and a bowl of cereal. Afterwards you may need a nap."

Top: "To be placed in a convenient location and utilized often. After each push, say a prayer for maximum effectiveness." Bottom: "This box is to serve as a secure holding device for any new, shiny, important jewelry. (I think it's fire resistant)"

"John and Rebecca's Labeling Outtakes"

And there you have it!  I hope this made you smile as much as it made us smile when we first opened it and every time we think about it.  We love you John and Rebecca and can't wait until the next time we get to see you!! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hebrews 12:1

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith." 

What a packed verse; and how relevant it is to where I am in my life right now. As is best practice, to fully understand this verse it's best to look at the preceding and proceeding verses.  In Chapter 11 of Hebrews Paul describes the great faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and others of the Old Testament. So, when he talks of "so great a cloud of witnesses" he speaks of these. We are lifted up and inspired by all those who have gone before us.  And today we look to the Church, Militant and Triumphant, to surround us.  

Hebrews 12:2 says, "For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God."  If you know me you know how I love the word "joy." Not happiness or content, but joy. Being happy or content relies on the situation. Happiness fluctuates with each passing emotion and every new sensation.  Contentment conveys settling without a sense of completeness.  But joy comes from within.  Complete joy rises out of love.  Though Jesus knew of the suffering he would endure on the cross, nothing could overshadow the joy felt in His love for us.

So what does all this mean in light of Hebrews 12:1?  I'm no Biblical scholar, but for me the verse is saying through the help of the Mystical Body of Christ we can persevere in this race towards the Kingdom of God. We can, through faith and the help of others, begin to break through the chains of our personal sins which slow us down. If ever it feels too difficult or tiresome we can look to the example of Christ himself who endured crucifixion for our sake, and in Him find our joy.  

What is the purpose of this blog and why did I choose this title...mostly, what is the purpose of this blog? To question #1, I'm not sure.  Blogs are a strange thing.  I'm not in a foreign country and I am lucky enough to live close to most of my family and some of my friends and get to see them on a regular basis. So most people don't really need to read about the ins and outs of my life.  They already hear them and in many cases experience them with me.  Although, I readily admit that I am possibly the absolute worst at answering the phone or picking it up to call friends I don't live close to anymore.  So maybe this blog is for them.  I've been going through a "gah I miss A&M and all the people there" stage lately.  This might just be an attempt to feel as though I'm getting to have a conversation with them; albeit a very one sided conversation.  But honestly, I think this is more of a therapeutic blog than anything.  Graduate school (and planning a wedding) is tough and has done a fair job at taking over my life.  I've not handled this in the healthiest way my first two semesters. This blog is my accountability partner; I tell it what I've done to take care of myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally. And if you happen to read it, you also can participate in keeping me accountable. 

Here's where the verse comes in:  You all are my cloud of witnesses surrounding me!  I could not have made it where I am today without the support and prayers of my family and friends. I also know that it will be your continued support which carries me through the rest of graduate school, preparing for marriage, married life, and in our future family life.  So join me in my race and my commitment to racing with poise, endurance, and eyes always on Christ. 
My life is no more interesting than anyone else's, and in many ways it is probably far less exciting.  But if you're interested in keeping up with and being a part of this journey here's what to expect: It will not be updated on a consistent basis.  It will not always be this long. Maybe on occasion it will be longer. Sometimes it will be anecdotal. Sometimes about a verse, quote, or action which struck me.  I will try to keep it positive and motivating (no one wants to read about a Debby Downer, that's what diaries and journals are for). Other times it will be obvious that I'm trying to avoid studying.  Pretty much this blog is a random collection of thoughts and moments. 

I am filled with so much joy about this next part of my life!  Graduate school, while tough, is great.  I'm learning so much and am encouraged by the passion of my classmates and professors for this field. I'm getting married!  Planning a wedding, also stressful at times, is a fun experience like no other.  More importantly, I'm marrying a man who amazes me each and every day and I can't wait to call him husband...hubby...husbo...hubster?  I'll work on that.  

I plan on keeping this blog going after the wedding, as that day will only be the beginning of my and Jason's race together as a married couple. Still, planning goals for the rest of my life is just unreasonable. Therefore, here are my goals for the next 7 be precise, until January 7th: 
1) Maintain an active and vibrant prayer life and become involved in the Church where Jason and I are getting married.
2) Run.  As much and as far as I can.  Originally the plan was to run a half marathon on our honeymoon in Hawaii but for some reason people don't think I'll have the energy to do that...
Maybe I'll do the Dallas half in December instead. 
3) Keep up with school.  Procrastinate less.
4) Become more domesticated.  I know, a lot feminists just gasped and a few may have rolled over in their graves.  But am I wrong to love the idea of being a strong woman who is able to keep up with work and maintain a lovely home (apartment, whatever) as well as cook delicious and healthy meals for her family?  Ok I don't expect this to happen over night, but I've got 7 months   :)    

"I pray that whatever God's will is, I'll be able to accept it with grace, and have faith in His wisdom. We're always in God's hands. Sometimes it's hard to accept that, so I pray that He'll help me just to trust in His will." ~Ronald Reagan