Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes - #2 - Advent/Prayer

SOME TIPS FOR A BETTER PRAYER LIFE

.....for those of us always putting God in the "margins of our lives" like I sometimes do when I'm just "too busy" or "too tired"



Since Advent starts on Sunday, this is the perfect time to improve our prayer life. I know I want to be more focused on God during this Advent season, so that I may be better prepared for the joy of his birth. Here are some personal tips and tricks that have helped me to improve my prayers and increase my daily prayer time. These may or may not be useful to you, since everybody is on a different level and in a different spot on their path to holiness, but I tend to make excuses and leave prayer 'til the very last minute of the day...until my eyes are closing and my body is ready to collapse onto my bed...and then it either does NOT get done ("I'll pray more tomorrow I promise!") or I fall asleep after the first 5 words.


1.  MORNING PRAYER

On my morning commute (which is about 30-40 minutes), I turn off my car radio and spend that half hour in silence and prayer. I usually also eat breakfast and sip coffee/tea in my car to save some time, but the food is always preceded by prayer. I usually dedicate about 10-15 minutes to prayer, then I bless my food, then I eat my food, and then I just relax for the rest of my morning commute. I arrive at school or work refreshed, inspired, and ready to tackle the day!

2.  KEEPING A SMALL JOURNAL/PLANNER WITH YOU

When I am in school Monday through Friday, I carry around a little planner, which I use as a journal. It is not a journal for extensive reflection, but I pull it out of my backpack whenever I feel the need to jot down a few words for God...whether they are due to joy, gratitude, or a troubled heart. This helps me get all my feelings/worries/joys OUT and offer them up to the Lord, which helps me proceed through the day in peace.

3.  COMMITMENT TO PRAY A SPECIAL PRAYER OR SPEND MORE TIME IN PRAYER THAN USUAL, AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

Since I know it is impossible for me to pray the rosary every day (I am jealous of the people that do), I set up a specific day of the week on which I know I have to pray the rosary--no excuses allowed. So Wednesday is my special Rosary day. It's only once a week and it's always right in the middle of the week--so there is no excuse to forget or no excuse to be "too tired" to do it. In addition, I also pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on Fridays, since that is the day of Jesus' death and that is the day that St. Faustina told us to pray it - ideally at 3pm - "the hour of mercy"

4. COMMITMENT TO GO TO CHURCH AT LEAST ONE EXTRA TIME DURING THE WEEK, APART FROM SUNDAY.

If you are the type of person that only sees your church for one hour on Sundays, make a commitment, for just ONE extra day, to go to your church...whether it is an extra morning mass each week, or a holy hour. I tried the morning mass routine last year, but the times the morning mass if offered in my church conflicts with my school schedule. So what I have been doing for about 6 months is going to my church's HOLY HOUR, which is every Thursday at 7pm. The hour consists of both communal prayer and adoration of the Exposed Holy Eucharist, as well as periods of silent prayer and adoration. I cannot tell you how precious Holy Hour has become to me. No matter what is going on in my life and how many exams I have to study for, I simply LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND, take my cars keys and drive to church. Even though I'm feeling anxious and stressed because I feel like I have NO time for this, I just do it, period! And it has been such a beautiful experience to spend an hour of silence in front of the living God...an hour of not asking for things and worrying about things, but just ADORING HIM for His Indescribable Goodness and Endless Mercy. Sometimes, I just don't want to leave. I want to stay in the silence of the church for the whole night...I don't want to go home and face all my school work and stress all over. I cannot even begin to describe the value of that ONE hour spent in HIS presence every week. It is priceless.

5. NOT LEAVING EVENING PRAYER FOR LAST

I used to have this idea that evening/night prayer should be the last thing we do before we go to bed. Well, that ran me into trouble. By the time I got around to my evening prayers, I was already halfway asleep. Then I made up my mind that I cannot constantly put God at the bottom of my to-do list and make school work and other things take priority over Him, because it always turns out that I either don't get to the bottom of my to-do list at all, or when I do, I'm so tired that I can't focus and have no idea what I'm saying anymore. So, I decided that what I need to do is set an approximate time that I will pray each evening. Right now, my commitment is to get on my knees for AT LEAST 10 minutes, ideally before 10pm. And the hardest part of it all is the "getting on your knees to pray" part. Once I'm on my knees, it is actually a pleasure and a comfort to be spending this time in God's presence...and I end up staying waaaay past the 10 minutes...But you have got to start somewhere. So set a minimum requirement that's not overwhelming, because like I already said and like everybody knows: "the hardest part is showing up." So decide to show up! Even if it's for 5-10 minutes.


 6.  NOT PUTTING GOD IN THE MARGINS OF YOUR LIFE.

If you're like me...you should decide that God should not just be an "item on your to-do list" but the over-arching purpose of everything you do throughout the day. Thus, even when I am in the midst of studying, working, or eating a really quick meal, I take my time to just say a few words to God. When I see something beautiful in nature, my first thoughts are usually "Wow GOD, You created this. Thank you for letting me see it." Once you train your mind to see God in everything and in everyday, it becomes a habit to THANK HIM for every single thing...especially for the "little things" that people often take for granted. Living every day in the AWE of HIS PRESENCE makes every day seem like such a beautiful gift - and makes all troubles/worries/fears drown in the ocean of His Mercy.

7. And my favorite phrase

 which I repeat almost non-stop and which puts EVERYTHING back into perspective for me.

" It's all in His Hands "


I find myself saying this so darn often, because I always forget that GOD is GOD and He is in control of my life...I don't have to worry or fear. He'll take care of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.


Amen!

I hope this helps..

Love, Agnes :-)


Friday, November 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - my 1st ever!


 

Since I have not written in over a month...here are some updates in the various areas of my life. Lots and lots of things have changed, I just have been running around like a madwoman ever since school started back up in September, hence, barely any time to keep my blog updated...And I guess Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to reflect upon one's life, so here we go...  :-)

1) Update on the Life of a 2nd Year Pharmacy Student

Pic from Sterile Lab where we pretend to make IV bags

 I just survived the first quarter of the second year of pharmacy school. I took the following courses: Pharmacology, Pharmacotherapeutics aka Therapeutics, Intro to drug structure, Nutrition in preventive medicine, Medical Spanish, Sterile Compounding Lab (making IV bags), and Intro to Pharmacy Practice Experience -Longitudinal aka IPPE-L.  I have been living my life between sitting in lectures, doing labs, writing hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes, studying for 2-3 exams each week, eating, sleeping, praying, going to church, and playing with my cats.  Oy, 2nd year of pharmacy school is not for the weak! I only got done with my 1st quarter of the P-2 year, and I am very exhausted. As I described already in an earlier post, my dear fiance started working nightshifts right as I started pharmacy school in September of 2011...and that sure has not made things any easier on me. I still only see him maybe once during the week, then I work a 10 hour shift on Saturdays--so that only leaves us the evening together...and Thank God for Sunday--the holy day of rest--since neither of us works and we have the whole day to each other.....WAIT.....scratch that...we go to mass together but then I usually spend the rest of Sunday studying for the next exam. Pharmacy school is intense. In case you were wondering. It's pretty much like Med school. You have to make a pretty big sacrifice in your life for 4 years..since there is not much left of it if you take away all the time you spend studying. I study around the clock Sunday-Friday, then work a 10-hour shift at a pharmacy on Saturday, followed by more studying when I get back. But it's okay...if this is where God is leading me and what God wants out of me...then blessed be His Name! I shall put forth my best effort into becoming who He wants me to be. If 4 years of working my butt off and suffering a bit will make me a better person in the eyes of the Lord, then I will put forth every last bit of hard work, time, and effort into this, and I will try to do it with joy and without much complaining and grumbling.

 2) Update on the life of a pharmacy intern


Work has been going alright. I mentioned already that I was promoted from being a pharmacy technician to being a pharmacy intern as soon as I finished my first year of pharm school...Along with that, I got transferred to a different store, since the rule is one intern per store. This new store really is a whole different world from the old one, but that does not mean that working there is any easier. Yes, I work in a nicer area where most people have good insurance (versus my old store, which was in a shady area where most of our patients were welfare folks on medicaid or with no insurance). And Yes, we fill much less prescriptions per day (about 200-300 per day versus 400-600 per day in the old store). So the "work" part of work is easier...but there is a catch. The "people" or coworkers part of work does not make it easy or enjoyable. It seems that everybody talks behind everybody's back when they're not there, and most people are two-faced. Everybody judges everybody else and the technicians are split into the "good" and the "bad" techs. And if you talk to the "bad techs," you're not cool. So stupid and immature. I'm not kidding...almost every person that works there regularly (with the exception of maybe one or two) constantly brings out the faults of all the other techs into the open. It's a realllllly bad learning environment! You cannot learn in an environment where if you make one silly mistake, instead of getting a correction and an explanation of what you did wrong and how to do avoid making the same mistake next time, nobody says anything to you until you're not there---and then they are LOUD as heck about it: " OOOO MYYY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE SO AND SO DID THIS!! WHY WOULD HE/SHE DO THAT???"....And I've been trying to jump in to such accusations (since they happen regularly) and defend the victim, explaining that they "probably didn't know any better" or "I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose," but then I get accused of defending and siding with the people I'm trying to defend. So that's what makes working in this very nice pharmacy in a nice area with nice patients, extremely difficult. I have to really watch my own thoughts and my own mouth so that I do not just start going along with the "crowd" and judging some of my coworkers and accusing them of making mistakes or saying silly stuff. It's a battle for me. But again, if these battles are just trials for me and if they make me a better, stronger person, then I don't mind being in the midst of them. Let Thy Will be Done. I just hope I am not disappointing God and hurting Him through hurting His children by judging them or gossiping about them.

A pic of me on the job :-)

3) Update on the life of a very blessed couple


We recently celebrated our 6th dating anniversary (on 11.11.12). Well, unfortunately we didn't really celebrate b/c I was in the midst of my 9 exams...right smack in the middle. It fell on a Sunday, and on the following Monday morning I had one of my hardest finals: pharmacology. Other than that, as I already mentioned above, we have not been seeing very much of each other, but we still love each other very much and when we do see each other, it's much more special..at least to me :-) I know that we are in a difficult situation now but I am eagerly counting down to our wedding, because I am hoping that being married will change EVERYTHING (unlike the popular belief that getting married changes nothing, it is just on paper, and thus there is no point in getting married). I know that once we are married and living together, there will be no more issues of "never seeing each other." And so I am countin'...!


4) Update on the life of a soon-to-be bride in the midst of wedding planning

We have our church, banquet hall, photographer, videographer, and 2 bands booked (one regular band and one Polish Folk music band that will play Polish highlander music since I'm from the "mountain region" in Poland and we "highlanders" have a very rich culture and traditions that are distinct from the rest of Poland). We also picked our wedding color: it will be aqua / tiffany blue like pictured below. I already made an appointment with the seamstress lady that will be making our dresses. I called up all my bridesmaids and Greg called up all our groomsmen, and they all said yes! Now I just have to meet with a Florist (I am lucky because my aunt is one) and do all the other fun stuff such as invitations, favors, etc...and of course plan the bridal shower.


Samples of aqua colored stuff ^

5) Update on the life of first-ever-home owners

It's been a little over 6 months since we bought our house. Well, technically it was just Greg that bought it, my name is nowhere on it since I have my pharmacy school loans under my belt. But I think I can call it my home too since we are soon-to-be-married anyways. Well, if you remember, it was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work and updating. We have been working on it for over 6 months now and are still not done. It's taking very long because we are doing most of the work ourselves. My love, my hard-working Greg has put in soooooo many hours of hard work into that house, I can't help but be amazed at him. His friends helped out a bit. And I helped out a teeny, tiny bit too. But poor Greg...he works the nightshift and instead of sleeping in, he wakes up in the morning and drives 30 minutes to our house and works on it for about 4-5 hours almost every day, then drives home, showers, and goes to work. Talk about my life being hard and all...his isn't any easier. It's been this way since April. He's exhausted and I can tell. He wants to be done with it and I don't blame him. Today, they delivered our appliances for our kitchen, which I am very thankful for. As the house is closer and closer to being done, I've been doing some shopping for decor, rugs, and pots & pans. Oh it has been such a blessing to be able to afford to buy all these nice things for OUR house. On the other hand, one thing I'm worried about is that as soon as the house is done, everybody in my life will pressure me to move in. There will be the constant questions of "when are you moving in?" and "have you moved in yet?" and if I say no, the disappointed "Why's." What am I supposed to do?? Explain Theology of the Body to them? I do not just go with the status quo and cohabit before marriage. My plan is to just help Greg move in and get settled, and make the house a home for him, but I keep living with my parents until the wedding.....but the more I talk to people the more discouraged I am becoming that this plan is actually going to work. Even my parents think I'm silly when I tell them I don't want to move in til after the wedding. My brothers will probably think I'm nuts and a weirdo if  they find out that we bought a house, remodeled it, and now I refuse to live in it?!?! I have 3 brothers but they stopped going to Sunday mass a while ago and they pretty much succumbed to the secular culture...to the culture of death...the status quo. And my parents... they want to put their house on the market in the spring and move to Michigan...and then what am I gonna do??? Get an apartment by myself?? I absolutely cannot afford that. I only work one day a week. I would hate to be forced to offend the Lord and move in with Greg due to the situation and due to ignorant people. For now, I haven't been faced with any lame questions and judgements yet because the house isn't finished...but I know it's coming soon. For now I just have to hope and pray for strength and courage...because I want to do the right thing for GOD.

6) And for the end...politics. 


A few explanations of why Mr. Obama (the biggest anti-God, anti-Catholic president thus far) won the election to remain the president of the "Divided States of America" (....since the election was almost 50/50...and the results made half the nation happy and the other half bitter, angry, disappointed, and fearful for the future of our nation)


#1 reason Obama won: the BIASED, LIBERAL media

 #2 reason: people don't care about national and moral values and the future of our country, they vote the "SELF" and self only in mind. Whoever guarantees more free stuff. Free for them means the hard-working, tax-paying patriots will pay for it.




















#3 reason (goes along with #2): the hipster on the right and the entitlement generation. Think they're entitled to everything in life.
















7) Let's pray for America. 

It needs our prayers now more than ever.