Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes #31

#1

 BUSY BEE

I'm very much buried in pharmacy school assignments and have some tests coming up, so I'm going to have to make this week's Quick Takes what they are meant to be: QUICK.  I have to write a 5 page Drug Information Consult paper, all based on original clinical research, have a quiz coming up in pharmacokinetics, and on the same day, an exam in pharmacotherapeutics. Oh....and 2 days after those two, I have 2 other papers due.  

Remember how I used to always complain about med chem aka drug structure evaluation class? Well, after 5 exhausting quarters of that...it is now OVER. Thank God. But now I have pharmacokinetics. I have always been a math wiz (I was a mathlete in High School and I helped our school win regional championships 4 years in a row) but integrating math, therapeutics, and pharmacy dosing kinetics is a bit much. But apparently, it's important in the hospital when you're monitoring someone's drug levels to make sure they're getting treated with the appropriate dose, but not exceeding the toxic threshold of the medication. So, PK is the new bane of my existence, haha! But no complaining Agnes, it's Lent!


#2

 CABIN FEVER!

Is it me, or has it been winter for like 6 months now??? Come on Midwest (Chicago especially!), warm up already. All this sitting-at-home-on-my-butt-all-the-time for so many months straight is causing me to feel very fatigued....like I have no energy...no motivation to do anything! (Plus, according to new research, I might get a blood clot by all this sitting and not moving my blood around.) I just want to be able to go on a walk outside with my husband and go jogging outside and oxygenate my brain and tissues after like 6 months of them practically hibernating! Not only has it been winter for like 6 months...we have only had a handful of days where it was actually above freezing. No likey. I need some vitamin D, oxygen, and sanity back in my life.

#3 

I found pictures on my phone that I took at my pharmacy school / university during 3 different seasons....and once again realized how badly I am over winter.


Midwestern University in late spring / early summer

 

Midwestern University in Fall

 

Midwestern University in winter




Now....can we go back to green grass and sunshine again? By the way, this will be my last spring on campus. A little depressing....(YES, I will actually miss school, I know I will. #NerdGirlProblems)
 

#4 

Going along with cabin fever and because this post has to be quick and I still have 3 more Quick Takes to fill up...here is some more pictures I found on my phone of things I am missing TERRIBLY about summer.

 

Our Pool is surely missed
The pool which we broke before we fixed it because we're such geniuses...but that's a whole another story. I swear this winter has been so long that I seriously almost forgot we had a pool until I looked out the patio door the other day (hey...we're pretty fresh to this house...and only used the pool for one summer...so one can forget haha)
 

My plants are missed
But I'm even more excited about this year, because hubby and I are planning on starting a veggie garden! Yaaayyy!!! We cook a lot so it'll be awesome to use our own garden veggies!

Burgers fresh off the grill are very much missed! Come on summer!

 

 #5 

What have we been up to?

Just watching our wedding video a million times over! Haha. We got it last month and probably played it like 5-6 times already (it's 4+ hours of footage). It really turned out great. I didn't cry the first, or even the second time I watched it. But then the third time I watched it, all by myself, I cried at this one particular very cute part where it's just me and him, holding hands and walking and smiling at each other and laughing and running into each other's arms. Too much cuteness!

 

#6 Touching

I went to my brother's house and was surprised to see these pieces of art hanging up on their pantry door. My 8 and 6 year old nieces made these. My brother said that they made them right after a really bad tornado hit their area a few months back. Wow. I'm glad to see that little ones like them understand that it is important to Thank God for just being alive...and not just for material things etc.




#7 

And while you're at it, also read about what a fool I am! It'll make you feel better about yourself and assure you never mistreat your husband the way I do :-)

May the peace of Christ be with you!
Agnes

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Tips for Lent from "The Way" by Josemaria Escrivas


I loved Saint Josemaria Escrivas' (The Founder of Opus Dei, for those who are not familiar with him) book "The Way." The book consists of very easy to read (conversational style) tips that help us walk "The Way" to holiness. St. Josemaria gives tons and tons of tips that one can employ in every day life...tips that will slowly, but surely, make one wiser, more disciplined, and holier...and thus closer to God.
From the author's preface:
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."

Tip #1 Do Not Argue

(I failed at this last weekend)

 

 

Tip #2 Do Not Gossip





Tip #3 Persevere in Prayer









Tip #4 Exercise self-discipline

(in routine activities such as waking up as well as your specific lenten resolutions)


 

 

Tip #5 Do not worry about what others think
or say.....KEEP ON DOIN' GOOD!




Leave me some love in the comments! Makes my day! :-)
Love, Agnes

A Confession of my Foolishness in our Marriage

This is literally what I did to my husband all weekend.


I complained.
I yelled.
I exaggerated things.
I brought out his faults and imperfections.
I saw negativity in every word and every act of his.

I literally made a big deal out of NOTHING.
I turned the loving atmosphere of our marriage and home into that of anger and tension.

I caused him suffering.
And I caused myself suffering.
For no reason at all.

Hormones?
Foolishness?
Anger issues?
Stress?

I have no idea what happened.

I just know that everything he said hurt me or irritated me
And I just kept fueling the fire of my anger with exaggerating the meaning of his words in my head...
And drowning in my own misery by feeding myself with false thoughts about my husband.

I am suspecting it was either due to a build up of stress and tension over the last few weeks (Work and School related)

OR

Because for the past few months I have been bearing the cross of loneliness in our marriage (working on opposite schedules aka husband working nightshifts) and kind of hiding all those feelings of loneliness and sadness as well as the fear of us growing apart inside.

And the first weekend in a while that we were going to spend together....and BOOM! I just exploded and all of this "stuff" started coming out of me. But instead of baring my soul to the one I love...I took it all out on him.

Next time I will keep this in mind:
Definition of Love. 1 Corinthians 13.

Sorry Lord. Now I know what I have done. MEA CULPA.

I used to do that a lot back in the early stages of our relationship. Then as I grew in my faith, I got good about letting go and letting God take over...and about not worrying about small stupid meaningless things. I learned to  offer everything up to God. Whatever was causing me pain, whatever was scaring me, whatever was giving me that tight feeling in my throat at the thought of it... whatever fault/behavior of my beloved was irritating or hurting me...I learned to offer it up to the Lord and let Him handle it. And I waited for Him to act..without me freaking out, overreacting, hurting someone, feeding my own ego by blaming everything on the other person.

I passed that test.

But every once in a while, God makes us retake the same test again...to make sure we didn't forget...to make sure we are still faithful in this particular area....to make sure we still remember what He taught us through our previous trials and tribulations.

And the unexpected re-take of that test came this past weekend. And I totally failed.

What a fool I am.

But...lesson [re]learned.

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes #30

 #1 Latest news!!!


I was so worried yesterday, but...

Snapshot of the 3 shots I had to give, 2 Intramuscular (IM) and 1 Subcutaneous (SubQ)

 The whole entire day was nerve wrecking since the actual hands on training and exam was at the very end of the day. But everything went fine! And I didn't even hurt my partner at all.

So who wants a shot? ;-)

#2 Engagement Story

After hours and hours of work on our engagement story, it finally got published today!!

"The [Extra]Ordinary Engagement Story of Agnes and Greg"



#3 Barn Party

A few Sundays ago, Greg and I went to this winter barn/ farm party. They had a big bonfire outside, horse sleigh rides, and hot food and drinks as well as a live band inside. We had a good time! I love horses and I hope to one day move out into the country and have a horse! One day....








#4: Antique Fulton J Sheen Book: "A Life is Worth Living"

Long story short, I had this book in my Amazon cart for a long time. I usually buy my books USED but in "like-new" or "very good" conditions to save money and to help recycle them. I have ordered tons and tons of books in "very good" or even "good" conditions in the past...and pretty much all of them looked as if they were brand new or just had some insignificant wear.

This particular book was also listed on Amazon as Used: VERY GOOD
So I assumed it was going to be pretty new, with possibly some wear.

What I received was a tore up book from, dated back to 1954!!!! 
That's exactly 60 years ago!

I wasn't even mad about the fact that I got a crappy looking book (it's perfect on the inside, just the dust cover is worn out) when, clearly, that is not what I ordered. I was pretty excited that this book made it into my hands. It's pretty cool that a Fulton J Sheen book from 1954 (that's before my PARENTS were BORN) is still around.




Somebody got this as a Christmas gift on December 25, 1954.
Notice the price in the upper left hand corner: $3.50 for a brand new book. I paid like 3-4x more for this same book, exactly 60 years later.

#5 Son of God

Last weekend, Greg and I went to the movies on a Sunday night to see the Son of God Movie.
It was a very good portrayal of Jesus' life, preaching, healing, and other miracles, as well as His Passion and Death. We both really liked the movie and we thought it was a good way to get into the Lenten spirit.

 

#6 Putting love into practice in a marriage... 

When I was studying for the law final exam...I only slept for about 2 hours. My husband came home from his night shift at 3:30am. He took a shower and was rolling into bed around 4am, right as I was rolling out of bed (it was exactly 3:53am). I passed out around 2am and took a quick power nap, only to continnue studying until my exam at 9. It was pretty brutal.
But at least we made some nice memories at night...at least I did. It was a night when actions spoke louder than "I love you" words.  A few minutes after I rolled out of bed and settled in a chair downstairs to study...hubby rolled right back out of bed (instead of going to sleep) and asked:

G: " Do you want me to light up the fireplace for you?"
A: "Nah that's okay. Go to sleep."

He did it anyway so I could be nice and warm while studying through the night. I guess he felt bad for me...because sleep was very scarce during final exams week.  He even got up once or twice during the early morning hours to help me put some more logs in there.

Today he told me this is a hard week for him too..and not just for me.

A: "WHY???" I asked 
(thinking: "what could possibly be harder than cramming hundreds of pages of information, stressing out, and barely sleeping???)
G: "Because it's kind of like we're "studying together...going through this difficult week together"

He said that he really enjoys being right there with me, supporting me, and doing nice things for me when I'm undergoing a difficult time.

Then after I came home from school that same day after a long night of studying and taking a very difficult law exam...Greg was all like:

G: Come here. I'll give you a hug?
A: Why?
G: Because I'm so proud of you
A: But why?
 (I didn't think I deserved special treatment. But apparently he thought I was a trooper)
.........
[then I became lost in his embrace and cherishing the warmth of both his words and actions that day. Wow, that difficult day and night was a blessing for our marriage for sure. It made me feel amazing...like I was appreciated and understood. Thank God for good husbands!]


#7 Laudate and Stations of the Cross

Most of you good Catholics probably already know about the famous app Laudate: the #1 Free Catholic App. Well, I had it installed on my phone and kindle for a long time, but just recently started discovering it and benefiting from it. And WOW, is this app rich in good, solid Catholic resources, readings, and prayers. Since I committed to pray the Stations of the Cross every week, I found this app to be a true blessing, especially now during lent (although I will definitely continue using it after lent as well). It has both AUDIO stations of the cross and ones you can scroll through and read (with pictures included, to help you meditate on them). I highly recommend it!


That's enough love for one day!
Have a great weekend!
Agnes












Thursday, March 20, 2014

The [Extra]Ordinary Engagement Story of Agnes and Greg





Our engagement was a little bit unusual. Not in the sense that we had some extraordinary or super romantic experience – quite the opposite - our engagement experience was very ordinary. Too ordinary. So ordinary that it made me upset. Or perhaps a better word to describe the way it made me feel initially is "disappointed." Why? Because my expectation had always been for our engagement to be super unique and extraordinary. I felt like I deserved that. Like I earned it. I felt like our love was so unique and so strong that we deserved a fancy or at least romantic engagement. We had been dating for close to five years at that time and we were very much in love with each other from the start…..and I just felt like I deserved a special engagement. Like Greg owed it to me. Like God owed it to me. In addition, I wanted to have a good story to tell. I wanted to brag about it to people. I wanted to show them that my engagement and my love is better than theirs. It was all about ME. ME, ME, ME. I was in the center of it all and Greg failed to cater to my expectations...to cater to the way I WANTED THINGS to be. 

Of course, soon after the engagement and now that I look at it from hindsight, I would not want that day to go any other way. It finally got through my thick head that this is what God had wanted for us and this is how it was meant to be and it was beautiful in its own way. It might not have been an outwardly unique or romantic experience (like I wanted it to be). No. God made it to be soooo much more than an outward experience. It was simple and ordinary, but so very spiritually enriching. More importantly, it taught me a lot about myself as well as about God and His Will and His Wisdom.


But let me explain how it all began…


A week or two before getting engaged, in the middle of May, right after I finished school (the end of the last semester of my undergraduate pre-pharmacy program), Greg and I took a road trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. As you may already know, Greg and I LOVE LOVE LOVE mountains…and hiking…and nature. This was a very exciting trip for me because the whole time we were there, I suspected that Greg had his ring with him and that he would propose on top of a wonderful Smoky Mountain, where it was just the two of us, the beautiful God-created nature, and God Himself. Since I am an introvert and tend to stay away from people and noise, I never wanted a big or loud engagement, or even an engagement that involved any people except the two of us….and the Third One who makes it all possible. And this particular roadtrip, filled with lots of walking, holding hands, and hiking to beautiful places with each other and no one else, brought many such opportunities to be alone, in silence, and in His presence. I knew that Greg went out and purchased the ring the previous month (April) because he had been asking me about the types of rings I liked and even dragged me to a few jewelry shops while at the mall so he could get a clue of my taste. Thus, I knew he had the ring, I was just waiting for that special moment…for the special moment when he finally gathers his courage and picks the right place and the right time to ask me to be his lifetime partner. In my head, the Smoky Mountains were the perfect time and place. 








The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I forget what this particular point of interest was called and I'm not sure whether this was on the Tennessee or the North Carolina side of the National Park

We ended up having lots of fun together and seeing some beautiful places, however, the vacation time came to an end, and still…. no ring. I was a little saddened that he had missed the opportunity to have a beautiful and unique engagement with some awesome pictures that we could show off to the world. I was a little bit disappointed but had hoped that he would find even a better time…that perhaps… he had even a better idea. Now when I look back at what I actually wanted out of this engagement experience, as I mentioned above, all I see is that I was being very selfish. I just wanted to get engaged and be able to show off to the world how unique and different and special my engagement was and how it was better than everybody else's. But naturally, my dear Father in heaven would not allow me to ruin this beautiful time of my life by selfishness and boasting and pride.

But since I was disappointed inside, I expressed my disappointment to Greg in a very gentle way…just simply mentioned the idea that I had hoped that we would get engaged in Tennessee, high up in the mountains. He mentioned something about not having thought of that and was, himself, a little bit disappointed that he hadn't thought of it and also, that he disappointed me. He was also sad that he missed this opportunity; especially because I told him it was my dream to get engaged on top of a mountain. 

I quickly got over it, because, as I mentioned, I still had hope that we would have an awesome engagement and that Greg was probably already planning something…especially now that I gave him a wakeup call. So now came the real mystery in my life: I really didn't know when he was going to pop the question. He's not a very romantic guy and certainly is not great at surprises…so it was a real mystery to me what was going to happen and when it was going to happen.

So the Sunday after we came back from Tennessee was just an ordinary Sunday. Greg had called me in the morning, after he woke up, asked whether I was ready for church, and stated that he would be there to pick me up shortly. It was our tradition to go to church together every single Sunday even though we weren’t married yet and still living with our parents. Greg lived in the same town, only lived five minutes away, so I knew that he would be here shortly after he called. I knew that my parents were still napping in their bedroom, which was right next to mine, so I tried to finish getting ready in silence and not make too much noise. I heard the front door open and I heard Greg slowly making his way up to my bedroom. I was sitting in my computer chair in front of my desk, probably putting on my socks or something. I lifted up my head to greet my lovely boyfriend of almost 5 years and noticed a huge bouquet of red roses. Before I even had time to process everything that was going on, he was already on his knees in front of me and had already popped the question. Again… it all happened so quickly that I didn't even have time to think about the circumstances or anything else, I just said yes, smiled from ear to ear like an idiot, and we embraced each other for a nice, long, warm hug. 



 


I acted surprised initially, I remember, but I think my mind, almost right away, started rebelling a little bit against the fact that this really was not the engagement I had imagined. It didn't take me long to realize that this engagement was nothing special… that Greg was not at all prepared…that he did not even try or care to make this a special day in our lives. “Why would he do it right before Sunday mass when he knew that we have to hurry off to church and could not celebrate?” I thought.  And when I asked him what he wanted to do after church to celebrate, he didn't know (“Are you serious?Again, I thought: “UNPREPARED”), so we mutually agreed that we would just go out for dinner and perhaps go take some pictures somewhere. However, I was still further disappointed because I realized that we had planned for a while now, to go to my brother’s house on that Sunday with my whole family ( I forget what the occasion was for my brother inviting us over).

And the battle of the mind continued:

 “How could you not have thought of that?”
 “You knew.”
“You knew this Sunday was already filled with plans of going to church and to my brother’s house
.”
“Did you think that our engagement was just going to be a five-minute deal and we could just forget about it without even celebrating?


All of these thoughts I was battling with made me really sad and further added to the fire of my anger and disappointment

I don’t even know how I felt at mass. I was trying to focus on the liturgy and not let negative thoughts into my head. I was kind of numb to everything. But all I know is that every time we looked at each other during mass, we could not help but smile... these cute and innocent but long and sincere smiles. Every time we looked at each other we thought: “Hey! we're engaged now…we just promised to stand together in front of the altar sometime in the next year or two and hand over to each other our bodies, souls, and lives.”  And every time I looked up at the altar, I imagined us standing there, in front of Christ, promising to lay down each other's lives for the other person. Then this thought came into my head - that this was perhaps thee most beautiful way to celebrate our engagement. Since we had just made a decision to enter into a lifelong offering of each other, which resembles Christ offering himself to his Bride, the Church, on the altar - this was perhaps the best way to celebrate the beginning of that decision. Celebrating Christ’s offering of His body on the altar at mass went hand in hand with us celebrating the decision to enter a marital union, in which we would continually offer our bodies to each other…in which, like Christ, we would be making sacrifices for our spouse. 

These delightful thoughts did not last forever though. You would think that God would make me a revelation of His Wisdom and it would be enough….and that I would get it. Nope. As soon as I left the church and the enemy gained back ground in my mind, he once again, started and continued feeding me false thoughts and lies. 

Not long after we came back from mass and went into my bedroom, it started pouring rain. And I mean pouring heavy rain that was pounding against my bedroom window and against the roof of the house. And at that point, I thought I was going to burst into tears. How many times are you going to disappoint me today oh Lord? I thought maybe in between the time we went to mass and my brother’s house, we can at least go out to a park or drive downtown and take some pictures to have some memories of the special event, but now this? 

The whole time during which the devil was feeding me lies and negative thoughts, God was trying to break through the dark cloud of negativity that was hanging over me and give me at least some rays of the truth.  I was trying hard to fight…and to win this battle. I knew that the way I was feeling and acting was wrong and selfish. Finally, God got through me and I started seeing the beauty and truth of the whole situation. I finally started seeing a bit more objectively…not being clouded by negative thoughts and by my own egoism.

I finally started thinking good/smart thoughts such as:


·      “ The way Greg proposed (the place and time, rather) was not in my control but rather in God's control and God is GOOD and takes care of everything the way it is best for us…. so why should I be upset?”
·      “This must be the way that God meant this to be. This must be His Will, His Plan…He is probably trying to teach me something through this experience…something beautiful, something important, something that’s better, deeper and more worthwhile than simply having an externally nice and unique engagement experience.”
·       “The beautiful sacrifice of the mass and the offering of Jesus’ body and blood on the altar we had just experienced was not a coincidence. God wanted our engagement to be this way, to be celebrated through Christ Jesus. This mass, this beautiful sacrifice, that we celebrated immediately following our decision to marry was what made our engagement truly UNIQUE and SPECIAL. I mean: who goes/went to mass right after their engagement? You can probably count those couples on your fingers. “

I asked myself:
Agnes…It doesn't matter that your engagement was not in some super fancy restaurant or on top of a mountain in Tennessee or at least in a beautiful park - all that matters is that God was with you and that he provided that special moment… that He brought this man into your life and placed him on his knees in front of you to ask you for your hand. What more do you want?



We ended up driving to a nearby town to go out to eat together and then went straight to my brother’s house…where we stayed the rest of the night. 

[Greg sneaked a photo of me while waiting for our food at the restaurant...contemplating what just happened and what it means for us]


 
 We decided that we will go to downtown Chicago to take pictures when the weather is better. The next day was Memorial Day Monday. I, unfortunately, had to work but we had it planned that, weather permits, we will drive downtown right after I come home from work. And so we did. We took a nice walk around the various places and streets of the city…mostly just holding hands and taking pictures and being happy to finally be engaged!




 


The following day...my mama and soon-to-be mama-in-law kept the celebration going by buying us some fancy "engagement" wine glasses and cracking open some champagne (I know, champagne in wine glasses, haha)




Thank the Holy Spirit for shining some wisdom upon me that day and then for the many days after the engagement (since the devil still kept attacking my mind and telling me that my engagement wasn't good enough and that my future husband wasn't good enough.) Without this Holy Wisdom, I would not have been able to achieve victory in this battle of the spirit and of the mind....would not have been able to accept God's Will....would not have been able to have piece and happiness about the situation...would not have been able to see the TRUE BEAUTY and UNIQUENESS of our engagement.



It wasn’t until we booked our photographer for our actual wedding that we had a professional engagement session. Our professional engagement session was also in the city. We are really, really happy with the way the photos turned out. I really wanted to have those to cherish and to show to our kids, but also wanted to use them for our invitations, labels, stickers for favors, and various other wedding-related things.

I will let those speak for themselves. Enjoy!



Our aqua colored engagement session downtown Chicago















This is the engagement picture we used for our wedding invitations



























The End

The Wedding stories are coming up next. Those will take a while because I will probably have 4-5 different parts/posts. But the first part should be getting published soon!