02 April 2018

Of Lents Gone By

Happy Easter!

Jesus taught me some interesting things this Lent.

Of course,  I had big plans for Lent because hello, I'm Brittany Anderson. It's what I do.

Well I had some severe gallbladder issues the first weekend of Lent, and then the next weekend I got food poisoning.

One of the women in my discipleship group asked me how my runs were going (I am/was? training for a 10k) and I said I hadn't been because of the stomach issues. She said "oh, well of course.... you've been sick." For some reason that really hit home, because until she said that, I just thought I was a failure. By telling me I'd been sick, she helped me to see that I'd been too hard on myself. It was like a lightbulb in my head.

I know that I have unrealistic expectations for myself. I don't know why, and I don't know how to be any other way, yet.

So I spent the rest of Lent, not running a single time, working on loving myself in a new way.

Here are some of the things I did:

I bought new blue jeans that fit well and look good on me. (I hadn't bought new jeans in YEARS... most of the jeans in my closet moved here with me from college.)

I put $100 in the monthly budget for me to buy clothes. And I'm making myself spend it.

I started online shopping. I hate regular shopping, so to spend the aforementioned $100 a month, I'm online shopping, and RETURNING stuff that I don't love.

I also signed up for Click List, where you tell Kroger what groceries you need ahead of time, and they deliver them to your car. I know this is lazy, but I also hate grocery shopping.

I unsubscribed from dozens of email lists I was on, so everything I get in my inbox is from a PERSON or an organization I care about. This is revolutionizing the way I feel about email.

I posted this on my mirror:

I'm still trying to be more intentional about loving myself better.  I don't want to use that as an excuse to avoid things I don't like, stay in my comfort zone, etc., but I also want to learn to forgive myself.  

Being single at this stage in life is weird. I love Jesus and what he's doing in my life is nothing short of miraculous. Things are so good that I don't even feel like asking Him for anything else. 

I'm so glad he knows what I need and when I need it. 

Also, Ross, if you're reading this, these pictures are for you! Sorry the quality isn't great! Blame the photographer, not the camera!

The Bluebonnets know that it is Spring in Texas! I LOVE THEM.

My mom's daffodils? lillies? I don't know what they are. 

Saint Clare, pray for us.

08 March 2018

Where Would You Be?

I have some good news:

I have gotten a very big promotion at work.

I'm nervous and scared and excited and so.incredibly.thankful.

I knew I was getting complacent in my current job, so after two years, I decided to pursue something different. My current job is considered a "destination role," and due to our lack of stress and generous pay structure, my teammates all thought I was crazy for pursuing this particular promotion. My current job is COMFORTABLE. I rarely work more than 45 hours per week, and I NEVER take my work home with me. I'm not the least bit stressed, and I have learned to communicate with my boss. But I wasn't made for comfort.

The new job will require a lot more of me. It will surely be more stressful, and more eyes will be watching me very closely as I ramp up. There have been people who have gotten this promotion and quit within six months because they couldn't make it. I will have to be excellent at my craft in order to succeed.

Today, my new Relationship Manager (my teammate who sets my appointments) was telling me about the work he was doing with the book of clients I will be inheriting. He was asking my preferences for appointment length, if I wanted space between them, etc.
I texted a friend and told her that it's getting real, and finally sinking in that I will be doing this job very soon (starting on St. Joseph's Feast Day!)
I told her I was excited and scared, and she asked me:
"Where would you be if you didn't do things that scare you?!"

What an awesome question. I've been pondering it all afternoon.

If I didn't do things that scare me:
I wouldn't be running a 10k next month
I wouldn't be planning to buy a house this year
I would never have taken golf lessons
I wouldn't have driven a stick shift across Europe
I wouldn't be a Certified Financial Planner
I wouldn't have left FOCUS for Fidelity
I wouldn't have started working at FOCUS
I wouldn't have gone to Auburn

I wouldn't be following Jesus.

So I would be no where.

Where would you be?

28 February 2018

Triumphs and Failures

I wrote this post for our Parish Blog. I hope you like it!

Has anyone else completely failed at Lent already? (hand raised emoji)

I've been at this Christian thing, pretty intensely, for almost ten years. And I've never not failed at Lent.

Every year begins the same: I think of the myriad of ways that I want to be holy, and I make my Lenten resolutions. I make spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and relational goals. This year I gave up social media and cursing and I took on daily flossing and being more intentional about protecting my prayer time (among other things...).

A few days into Lent  I got really sick, and my some of my Lenten plans needed to change.

But this year, something is different about my failures.

Here's the backstory: I am super type A, and a CLASSIC shame spiraler.

When you fail at something you promised yourself you'd do (or you do something you promised yourself you wouldn't), but instead of doing it once, or twice, you have to do it a thousand times until you feel so guilty that you muster up the will power to recommit to your goals: this is what my friends and I call the shame spiral.

Example: If I commit to praying with scripture for 20 minutes per day, and I forget on a Thursday night, it will take me MANY more days of not praying before I get it together and start praying regularly again. (And because I'm so type A, sometimes it takes until a Monday or the first of a new month to get back on track.... I know.... it's neurotic.)

I'm such a creature of habit and routine, that once my habit gets broken, it takes an act of God to get me out of the deep end.  I am so prideful, that once I "disappoint myself," it becomes a whole process where I have to dwell on why I failed, etc.

St. Paul's letter to the Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death. Since God created us in His image, we are NECESSARILY good. But we all sin, and we know that Jesus came to save us from our sins: to bridge the chasm left by sin between God and man. The wages of sin is death, but the wages of the Resurrection is life! Jesus gives us the sacrament of Reconciliation to bring us back to Himself, and allow us to share in His Resurrection.

When I go to Confession, Jesus cleanses me of my sins. If I still dwell on them, am I not holding myself to be a higher tribunal than God Himself? Sin has a way of altering my perception of myself because of my pride. Humility calls me to see myself the way God sees me: a person who was created Good, but who also happens to have a sin problem. My identity as a daughter of God means I am good. But I have a sin problem. And I'm pretty sure you have a sin problem too.

But like I mentioned, this year, something is different about my failures. This year, I'm taking my Lent one day at a time. Because if I spend all my time making future plans or dwelling on the past, or even thinking about how great I am if I happen to be succeeding at my resolutions, I have no time to love the people right in front of me.

Jesus told Martha, as she was busy SERVING, that Mary had chosen the better part. So when I'm tempted to dwell on my failures this Lent, I'm going to run to the feet of Jesus, sit there, and let Him look at me. And I hope you will too.

Saint Martha, pray for us.

Image result for saint martha and mary

17 December 2017

02 December 2017

A Year with Luke

This year in prayer I have been praying with the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.

My spiritual director recommended I pray lectio divina with Luke's Gospel at the beginning of the year. I told him about my tendency to read scripture and not pray with it, as well as my anxiety about all the ways I could be praying but was failing. I think it was his way of saying, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but there is only need of one thing." 

Anyways, what a year it's been. 

I spent A LOT of time on the first few chapters- Elizabeth stands out to me as the most relatable woman in all of the New Testament. I've loved her exclamation to Mary for many years-- "Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled." (To which Maria responded with the Magnificat!) But this year I prayed with how she herself was receptive to Our Lord. She was old and barren and longed for a baby for years and years, and when she conceived, she said "So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before men." At that moment, she realized that time has and always will be in God's hands. He had a plan for her, and even though it looked crazy or shameful/disgraceful to the world, for her, it was perfect. And John, the forerunner of the Lord, came into being, in time, by her cooperation with God's will. 

In a discipleship group that I lead, we had a discussion last week about Natural Family Planning. I can't imagine it because I have no experience of marriage, but some of the women in that group seem to be rethinking what it means to have God in control of their fertility. Several women were unaware that there ought to be a grave reason to postpone pregnancy (come on, NFP instructors!). The result: they have essentially used NFP as "Catholic Birth Control" for years... some over a decade. The idea of having a baby now, when their children are in high school, is terrifying. One woman in the group mentioned that, a few years ago, she and her husband realized that they might be using NFP in a way that was gravely sinful, and decided to be more intentional about their discernment. Now their teenagers have a 3 year old brother, and a baby saint in Heaven to pray for their family. She said that when they found out they were pregnant this past summer, she was scared. She thought about their retirement savings, their kids who would be in college soon, etc., but a few days after the shock wore off, she was so excited. When they lost the baby, she would have given anything to still be pregnant. I AM IN AWE of her witness and openness to life, and her willingness to give up control of how she thinks her life should go. 

One of my friends who has 5 children said that giving God control of her fertility has been one of the hardest parts of the Christian life for her. 

These women amaze me in the same way that Saint Elizabeth amazes me. Complete trust in God's providence, his timing, and his will. 

Later on in the year, I spent time in the parables, trying to glean some wisdom- none of which is coming to mind at the moment. 

A few other highlights:
I love the way Jesus loves 3 people in particular: Peter, John the Beloved, and Dismas, the Good Thief. I think I could spend the rest of my life praying about this and never be finished. 

One of my favorite Bible verses is in Luke 19. Jesus is coming into Jerusalem and the people are laying out cloaks for his ass to walk on and saying "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord." The pharisees aren't loving it and tell Jesus to rebuke his disciples. Jesus says "If they keep silent, the rocks will cry out."

I finished Luke at the end of October and I'm now in Acts 4(ish.... I keep going back because I haven't gotten everything I need from Luke 3 yet, I think.) I LOVE how bold Peter is in proclaiming the Gospel. "How can we but speak of what we have seen and heard?" Basically Peter is thinking, if I don't proclaim Jesus, these rocks are going to do it for me! 

What have you been praying with this year? 

St. Elizabeth, pray for us! 

16 October 2017

Well, I'm 28

I have been for over a month.

My birthday was uneventful, which is about a million times better than last year, so I'll take it.

And seeing as my faithful reader/bestie Allie has asked for it, and I know all of you lurkers are chomping at the bit for it as well, I'm going to give you a #30b430 update.

Digging deep (to 2014) for the list (although you know I have it in about 3 other places where lists are kept in my life), crossed off with explanations in parentheses.

Take a rail trip of Europe
(Decided not to go the rail route re: strikes, but visited France, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, and Switzerland in August of 2016)

Pay off student loans 
(no explanation necessary, so damn proud of myself for this one... all in spent $130,000 on college)

Run a 10k

Make a quilt/learn to sew
(I'm working on this one... I should be finished soon... quilting is fun and challenging!)

Learn to golf
(took lessons in summer of 2016)

Get my CFP
(got my CLU as well, as of October 1 of this year)

Grow an herb/vegetable garden
(so fun to make herb butter and cook with my fresh herbs!)

Buy a house

Go skydiving

See a show on Broadway/NYC in the fall or early winter
(Laura and I saw Anastasia on Broadway a few weeks ago and it was amazing)

Go on a mission trip to Africa

Fall in Love

Apply to be on Big Brother

Learn to drive a stick shift
(Susan gave me a ~1 hour lesson and then I learned the hard way in Paris when our rental car was a stick.. and we had no GPS... thank you KG for reading the signs to me and not murdering me <3)

Read 10 "classic" novels
(Instead of 10 novels, I made an American Literature syllabus that I've been working through... I'm in the mid 19th century right now, about half way through Moby Dick)

Take an art class
(took a watercolor class at the Dallas Creative Art Center on St. Therese's Feast Day this year!)

See the Northern Lights

Develop a skin care regimen/work out routine
(this one is kinda self explanatory... just because it's "developed" doesn't mean it happens that regularly,  as witnessed by the mascara on my pillowcase.)

Save $1000 and blow it in one day shopping

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
(there's a whole post about this trip in May or June of 16)

Have a relaxing day at the spa with facials and mud baths
(unfortunately mud baths were not involved, but Allie and I got facials and massages at an amazing spa and I want to go back every single day)

Do something for someone who can't repay me

Read the whole Bible/Catechism
(finished this one a few years ago... I'm on my second round through the CCC right now... sooo good!)

Ski a black diamond

Build something useful
(see last post)

Swim in a waterfall
(sooooo... at Turner Falls they didn't let us swim directly under the falls because of rocks, and at Hamilton Pool Preserve, it was more of a trickle than a waterfall BUT I went to Niagara Falls and took the boat tour into the mist and so between these three waterfall events of the last six months, I'm checking this off... and it's my list so I get to do that.)

Write something everyday for a month
(anyone remember the #scratchpaperpoet project?)

Do something spontaneous and life changing

Start riding again

Discern my vocation

So there you have it. Sixteen down, fourteen to go. And less than two years to do it, so I better get to work!

Elisabeth and Felix, pray for us!

22 August 2017

Build Something Useful

Hellooooooo blog!

One of the things on my #30b430 list is to build something useful. Initially I wanted it to be vague to keep my options open. Over the last year or so, I've really been thinking that I'd like to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to help build a house (very useful for someone who needs a home.)

I kept checking the volunteer schedule and things just weren't working out, mostly because it seems like they have more help than they need! (Great problem to have!)

I still want to volunteer with them, and I hope I will get the chance soon, but in the mean time, it was back to the literal drawing board to figure out how to fulfill this bucket list item.

Soooooooo...... I want to show you what I was up to this weekend:

Now, I don't know how useful a headboard actually is. BUT I did build this for $90 and it would have cost at least $200 if I'd bought it from a store, and saving money is v v useful if you ask me.

I feel super accomplished, and I think it looks great. And of course now I want to build a lot more things. (Can anyone say farmhouse table?) Hopefully I marry someone with some tools and some skills.

Anyways, what do you think? Is this a cop out? Do you think it's useful? What would you have done?

St. Anne, pray for us!
Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!