Ask Me Anything!

I saw  a post like this on Sarah’s blog a while back  and thought it might be fun to do it here. I’m not sure how many people are interested in me enough to want to ask me anything,  but for this one post i pledge to answer all  combox questions. You can ask about all sorts of stuff whether it be about blogging or about my likes and dislikes or  well, whatever you can think of really.

I will put the questions and answers in this post as they fill up (ha-ha) the combox!

So what are you waiting for?

_____________________________________________________

Ok.   You all asked some really great questions, i did my best to answer them 🙂

Becomewhatyouare asks :

“What is your favorite color?”

The colour that I am most attracted to is black but my equal favourites are pink and red!

“What was the biggest challenge for you as you were converting to the faith and how did you come to terms with it?”

This is a long answer, so i’ll break it down a bit.

Challenge number 1 : Friends and Family

There were a couple of really big challenges for me when i became aware that God was calling me and my children to the Catholic Faith. One was telling family and friends. Not only were there no Catholics in my family, but i didn’t know any Catholics personally.

I recall breaking the news to my Mum first while we were sitting having a cuppa in her dining room. I think we had just had a lovely Sunday lunch and afterwards we used to talk for a while about this and that…another reason we talked alone after lunch was because we could talk openly about faith and that was something my father couldn’t at the time, toelrate the discussion of.

I think i said that i had something to tell her  and that she might be suprised but that i hoped she would understand and support me, then i told her that i felt the Lord was calling me and the children to become Catholic.

She told me i had to do what i felt i was called to do and in fact it was Mum who told me about the Catholic Church she had been too(not as a Catholic, but when her Catholic friends recieved the Sacrament of First Holy Communion and Confrimation, when she was a girl) and so it was that the next Sunday me and my daughter and son attended our first Mass. It was an incredible time in my life and the priest was so caring and attentive and supportive. We both moved on from Sacred Heart, but i have such fond memories of those first few years worshipping there.

As for telling my friends, that was a little more tricky. I had become great friends with the C of E vicar’s wife who lives around the corner from me. Our daughter’s were best friends and we spent a lot of time talking and sharing a cuppa and helping one another out. My son and daughter were baptised in her husbands C of E Church shortly after we had become a single parent family. We sat together at Mass, walked to and from school together and chatted sometimes for an hour on the 5 minute walk home!

Then I felt i had to tell her that i believed that Jesus was not present in the communion i received at ‘Mass’ in the C of E Church (also a stones throw away om my home) and that was my reason why we could no longer attend the C of E church.

I had felt anxious in case she saw it as some kind of spanner in the works of our friendship, but i couldn’t have been more wrong…she was supportive and friendly, just as she had always been.

Challenge number 2 : Mary

The biggest challenge i had was in appreciating the ‘importance’ of Mary. I would say that the relationship between Mary and myself has been the most difficult thing for me to come to grips with of all. I believed in the Real Presence from the very beginning. But Mary? I didn’t understand why the Catholic Church gave her such a place of honour.

One day, a while after becoming a member of the Catholic Church, i knelt at the small ‘Chapel of Our Lady’ to the left of the Sanctuary and i told Mary i couldn’t fathom her…that i wanted to get to know her and to understand why she had such a place of honour…i told her that every time i attended Mass there i would kneel and pray at the chapel with the same intention…i asked her to honour my pledge by allowing me to know her better.

At the time i felt it was impossible for me to have a depth of love for Mary as her ‘importance’ was so great and it  was at odds with the way i thought about her.  I believed she was a virgin, i even believed that she was without sin, but i didn’t appreciate the significance of her role in the Church and in the redemption of mankind.

I regularly prayed at the Chapel of Our Lady. In the parish i attended I expressed a desire to become a Catechist and i started the Diocesan Catechist  Course.  I consecrated the whole two years of the course to Mary and asked her to teach me to love her.

During the course, i wrote a paper on Mary (I may share this with you at some point) and i realised as i wrote, just how much my relationship with her had grown. I believe that by the end of that two year course that i started to think of Mary as my Mother.

In recent times i have to say that there are still some hurdles for me to climb mentally and spiritually, with regard to Mary…but i can tell you that i have come to care deeply for her, to wonder about her, to even imagine her taking me in her arms and holding me just as my earthly mother does…what i can also say is that at the beginning of my conscious relationship with Mary, a big part of the problem was that i couldn’t ‘picture her’…i thought i had to give her a ‘face’ in my mind and i simply couldn’t…i still can’t…but rather than ask these days ‘Who are you?’ i now ask ‘ Mother, what do you look like? Show your face to me, your child”, I hope i go on asking that until my last breath.

Where once there was confusion and an inability to accept ‘Mary’ according to Church tradition and teachings , now i ask her to ‘tell her son’ the things i confide in her, the intentions i ask her to pray for. Now she is real to me. My only sorrow is that i was always real to her.

John asks:

“a single question – are you feeling better now (physically, mentally, spiritually)?

What a great question, and one that shows just how much you care, John 🙂

Physically and mentally. I am feeling an acceptance of my health problems. I think i was expecting some kind of  answers when i last went for my brain scan and i didn’t get any answers (at least not yet).  I am coming to an acceptance that pain will probably always be a part of my life and that the most pressing thing about it is how i choose to handle it.

There are lots of things i can not do that i used to be able to do.

There are many unexplained symptoms that baffle my doctor.

No medication seems to be working significantly.

But i can make a choice of how i go on with this. I can worry myself silly and be angry that after all these tests, still no one will put a name to what is wrong with me. Or i can just make an act of daily giving over my frustation and distress about my situation, to God.

I used to think very much ‘why me?’

Now i tend to think, ‘why not me?’

Spiritually.  I am becoming more comfortable in my place of worship. I am attending Mass more regularly, I am becoming more sensitive to my spiritual needs…just as my stomach growls with hunger when my body needs feeding, so my spirit speaks to me of my souls needs…it is such a quiet ‘voice’ that usually i drown it out with my thoughts and my wants and my tendency to be self –  absorbed. But it is there. I just have to make the effort to clear away the ‘clutter’ and simply listen

Sarah asks:

“Have you ever been outside the U.K. and where?”

I think a long search of my blog archives might turn up an answer to this but to save you the meither….when i was 15 years old, my cousin and my aunt and my mum and i decided to go to Bruge for 24 hours. We were travelling from Felixstowe, Suffolk, and it didn’t take long to get there by ferry.

It was evening when we left. A danish trucker and his mate came to sit with us on our journey and  they bought us drinks (I had already had a few before they came over to us…my tomato juice was a bloody mary, unbeknownst to me)…after a while of chatting and drinking the danish trucker spontaneously and rather seriously, asked my mum if she would consent to my marrying him.

Mother was aghast.

I think she swore me and my aunt and my cousin to secrecy about the whole Bruge affair shortly afterwards. And i seem to remember her saying, ‘your Dad must never know about this’. The opening bars of the Godfather theme music are playing in my mind as i write this…

I was all into adventure at the time and was gutted the next morning to see my danish truck driver man driving his truck off the ferry. He told my mum he would give me a good life, but i kind of think he looked like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and i imagine he would have expected me to give him lots of babies and darn his socks all day long so i probably had a lucky escape. (I wasn’t the kind of teen who liked babies. In fact i never wanted children until i met Wondergirl’s dad).

If mum hadn’t been there i would have probably have gone with the Dane. Truly. That was the kind of person i was at the time.

We had travelled at night and by the daytime, well…. i was vomitting what i thought was blood (now i can;t bear to drink tomato juice)  in gutters and public toilets, in and around Bruge …all…day…long.

I vaguely recall someone mentioning lace and chocolate but i just wanted to find somewhere to throw up and I don’t have any memories of the place whatsoever other than being disgustingly sick and thinking i was going to die …and thinking that i was too young to die at only 15…and if only i had gone off with that big strapping trucker…who cares if he only knew enough words of english to propose?

“Where and when have you had a fantastic hols?”

(Male readers might want to avert there eyes now, you have been warned).

I’ve had a lot of fab Uk based hols. I will however, share with you one of the most memorable.

When i was 17 my friend asked me to go on holiday with her and her parents, to Scotland. It took six hours to drive there. The car broke down next to a field with a picturesque stream running through it. Me and my friend sat and bathed our feet in it…until we smelt something funny. We walked a couple of meters further down the stream and discovered the souce of the pong…a dead sheep with its rotting head in the water. What a wonderful start to our holiday! Things could only get better. Or so i thought.

My friend’s father went hiking over hills and dales to find a house with a phone, so he could call the RAC to come and rescue us.

A couple of hours later, i was starting to feel unwell. The RAC turned up. I sat in the van with everyone else and to my horror i soon realised that i was having a visit from every womans favourite auntie.

Oh …….my……… goodness.

Could things get any worse?

No one knew why i was the last one out of the van when we reached our destination…i just said i had to stay there a bit as i felt sick. Really I was just trying to figure out a way of getting out of the vehicle without Mr RAC driver man drawing anyone’s attention to the interior of his van.

It was evening when we arrived at our accomodation, which just happened to be completely isolated from the rest of mankind. The nearest shop was a 2 mile walk away and i had nothing but a loo roll to deal with the ‘problem’.

Groan.

I’m sure that’s too much info for a lot of readers.

Sorry ’bout that.

Men, you were warned!

That season also happened to be the worst  for midge bites in recorded history….now let me tell you…there is no place on the human person that a midge can’t travel to, none whatsoever.

Still, the good things about the holiday was that we found a hidden waterfall, met some nice German men who were holidaying in the region. We spent a chunk of our days with them wondering around lochs and our evenings in the ‘local’ (ha-ha) pub . I can look back and laugh now because I had my best mate with me and even the Aunty Flo disaster became a subject of hilarity by the end of the week, but at the time it was just horrible!

“What is something that you can only buy in the U.S. that you’ve had before but can’t get now and would like to have? What and why?”

I can’t think of anything that i have had before that is only available in the U.S.

“Are English folk as weird about American accents as American’s are about English accents?”

I don’t think so. Mostly we do the Forest Gump voice when we are imitating Americans, but we mean it in the nicest possible way, really. I just love it when Gump says, ” I got shot in the butt-ocks”.

Suz asks:


“What is your favorite song and why?”

I have more than one favourite song. But my most special song is Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers.

The reason is that, as you all may know, my daughters father died when she was 8 months old, just before Steve and I were to marry…well…on our second date, he took me to the cinema and we watched the movie, Ghost. We had both made quite an impression on one another… we had written to one another while he was stationed in Outer Benbecula while he was finishing up his time in the RAF.

So we both felt close before we had even met…and when we did meet, we both knew straight away that we were meant to be together.

Anyway.

We were sitting in the cinema and I was thinking ‘if you like me you will hold my hand….why aren’t you holding my hand?…you don’t like me…oh no…but i like you so much…please hold my hand’

By the end of the date we were holding hands.

If you have seen Ghost, you will know that the story is about a man and a woman falling in love and then the man dies.

What a second date.

Anyway.

The theme song to the movie was Unchained Melody and it kind of became our song.

When Steve died i could never hear that song without breaking down in tears.  I still can’t listen to that song just as if it is any old song on the radio. It has too much significance for me.

So in a way, it is my favourite, even though i can’t listen to it anymore.

“What do you love the most about living where you are ….maybe a couple or three reasons other than it is “home” or that your family all lives there?”

a)What i love about where i live is that whatever i want is right on my doorstep. It’s the city i grew up in and even though i moved away for a while, it’s the city that is my home. I’m familiar with it. The schools, entertainment facilities, supermarkets are all within easy reach.

b) You can drive for 20 mins in any direction from this city and you will find yourself in the countryside.

c) There are a lot of Catholic Churches here and therefore lots of Masses being offered throughout the day and evening.

“What is your favorite meal to prepare for your family….a main course that they/you all love?”

Probably a joint tie between my home made lasagna and my pasta with big chunks of meat. Both meals served with salad, garlic bread, fresh parmesan and maybe olives and antipasti.

“What are a couple of your favorite quotes and of course, by who, unless Anon. ???”

Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ — St. Jerome

O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you: “He saved others, himself he cannot save!” — St. Norbert

Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven. — St. Camillus de Lellis

The great method of prayer is to have none. If in going to prayer one can form in oneself a pure capacity for receiving the spirit of God, that will suffice for all method. — St. Jane Frances de Chantal

He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands. — St. Benedict of Nursia

The passion of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also an ocean of love. Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this ocean. Dive into its depths. No matter how deep you go, you will never reach the bottom –St. Paul of the Cross

You say you see no reason why we should pray to the Saints since God can hear us and help us just as well, and will do so gladly, as any Saint in Heaven. Well, then, what need, I ask, do you have to ask any physician to help your fever, or to ask and pay any surgeon to heal your sore leg? For God can both hear you and help you as well as the best of doctors. He loves you more than they do, and He can help you sooner. Besides….His poultices are cheaper and He will give you more for your words alone than they will for your money! — St. Thomas More

My Confessor gave me this prayer and asked me to read it as part of my penance:

A HYMN TO GOD THE FATHER.
by John Donne

I.

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

II.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

III.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
And having done that, Thou hast done ;
I fear no more.

Elena asks;

What inspired you to start your e-Cards?

I believe i thought there just had to be some use for my photographs, or why else take them? I wanted to share them, so i created the e-card site 🙂

Therese asks;

What is your favourite thing about being a mom?

My very favourite thing used to be feeling my babies sweet breath on my face as they slept..or of their little hands in mine. Completely trusting, never embarrassed by me…but they grew…so now my favourite thing is also the most painful thing. Just watching them when they don’t know that i am. Sometimes i think ‘how can you be this beautiful/intelligent/funny/loving when you came out of me?’

Watching them makes me realise that they are growing away from me, becoming independant of me in various ways…in some ways i embrace that (especially, but not only, when they are a pain in the butt-ocks) and in other ways i realise that within a few years i will most probably be suffering from empty nest syndrome.

Will i have done enough to raise my children to be responsible and compasionate individuals?

Who will i be then?

What will i do without them near?

I have built my world around them, i am single, i don’t want to spend my days crying into a crocheted blanket and watching any old crap on the television just to while away the hours. I know it will be a challenging time and i hope i can make it a fruitful time.

Also i look at my children and i see my failings….ways of speaking or behaving that they have picked up from me. Ways that don’t reflect God, don’t reflect kindness and tolerance and patience.

If only i weren’t such a screw up.

I read a lot of blogs…mainly by mothers, and all your kids all seem so ‘healthy’ and well adjusted and pleasant and have all kinds of accomplishments under their belts already. I embrace my childrens successes and i am heartily proud of them, but i do believe that i have failed them in many ways. One way is that they have been too dependant upon me because i have had to raise them alone. And because i am over protective i have always been overly cautious with them.

They aren’t the most sociable kids. they can communicate well and are friendly enough, but they don’t do ‘team stuff’, they are both more solitary than team orientated. Like me, i suppose.

But still….this watching over them, this is my favourite thing.

Do you prefer hot weather or cold weather?

Actually i don’t like either very much. I like it to be comfortably warm, but not hot.

What is your favourite devotion?

My favourite devotion is the Chaplet of  Divine Mercy. I made my first confession on Divine Mercy Sunday 2004. My children and i had been recieved into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil. It was a beautiful time in our lives. My children were very vocal and enthusiasitc about their faith…things are different these days. I had never confessed my sins because i was baptised at Easter Vigil and i was nervous, but i was virtually propelled to the priest on Divine Mercy Sunday… not against my will, i was fully co-operative…but unusually the priest i went to was sitting on a chair by the sanctuary, in full view of everyone gathered there.

As a very private person (most bloggers are, its something of a conundrum) i do not know why i felt i had to go to that priest and not to wait for the confessional to become empty…but it was meant to be. My first confession was beautiful and from that day on i began to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I don;t pray it every day, but it feels more natural for me to pray it than to pray the Most Holy Rosary.

Owen asks:

You, like me, are a convert. What do you appreciate most about your new faith Home and what is the most difficult thing for you in being a convert?

To answer the first part of the question….what I appreciate most about my new faith Home…. with regard to the Church big ‘C’…the Sacraments, the means of my Salvation, the Saints, the Holy Father, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, The Eucharist, the Teachings of the Holy Catholic Church and on and on I could go, but won’t.

What I appreciate about the church small ‘c’, as in the parish I have been worshipping at since Autumn ’08…I love that the priest is extremely pastoral, reverent, prayerful,  open, expressive, hard working and most importantly during the difficult period of our transition from one parish home to another, he has been  incredibly supportive and encouraging.

To answer the second part of the first question, as to what has been most difficult for me in being a convert…(aside from the answers I gave earlier in response to the questions Becomewhatyouare, asked)…I would have to say that it has been most difficult to really feel a part of a parish community, as the parish newbie. Sadly I had to leave my former parish when I had finally reached that stage after a good few years of worshipping there, so it really takes some doing to invest yourself and your life once again…to trust…to lay down roots…in a new parish…but though the mind might resist it, the heart doesn’t seem to speak the same language…

Also. What has been most diffiult has been that the ages my children were when we converted…they really didn’t have any Catholic roots..no catholic family, no catholic rituals established etc…it is hard for me to see their reluctance to attend Mass these days…i’m not exactly on fire for Jesus every day, but they are sometimes so miserable about going to Mass. We used to talk about Faith matters all the time, now they are not comfortable with it…….they think i go on too long if i talk about faith matters. We used to have ‘family time’ where e prayed together every evening….that stopped ages ago, they sulk their way through it while itching to leave the room. They just want a faith sound bite bewteen seeing what there is to eat  in the house and spending their time on Youtube or the X Box. It is hard.

Apart from faith matters (or not) what is your greatest personal aspiration?

In my faith life: I really am one of the crappiest Catholics in existence. I really, really am. I just want to have evolved into a not so crappy Catholic by the time I die.

In my vocation: as a mother, I want to be a mum that my kids respect, love, want to emulate…I am not that kind of mother, yet.

In my personal aspirations:  One day I hope to commit myself properly, to writing. It isn’t the right time to do that yet and I don’t know if there is a market for what I will write/have written thus far….not over here in a country with a relatively small percentage of Catholics. We will see. If the Lord wants it to happen, it will happen.

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13 Responses to Ask Me Anything!

  1. I have 2 questions:

    1) What is your favorite color?

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you as you were converting to the faith and how did you come to terms with it?

  2. John Bowden says:

    a single question – are you feeling better now (physically, mentally, spiritually)?

  3. Sarah says:

    I’d forgotten about doing those posts. Maybe I’ll do it again next week. Perhaps over Mother’s Day weekend (I’ll be traveling with some Church friends then and reporting back on the blog will be fun).

    Okay, questions.

    Have you ever been outside the U.K. and where? Where and when have you had a fantastic hols? What is something that you can only buy in the U.S. that you’ve had before but can’t get now and would like to have? What and why? Are English folk as weird about American accents as American’s are about English accents?

  4. Suzanne says:

    Okay…
    How about what is your favorite song and why?

    What do love the most about living where you are..maybe a couple or three reasons other than it is “home” or that your family all lives there?

    What is your favorite meal to prepare for your family..a main course that they you all love?

    What are a couple of your favorite quotes and of course, by who, unless Anon. ???

    You are gonna be busy, lady! 🙂

  5. Elena says:

    What inspired you to start your e-Cards?

  6. Therese says:

    What is your favourite thing about being a mom?

    do you prefer hot weather or cold weather?

    What is your favourite devotion?

  7. Owen says:

    You, like me, are a convert. What do you appreciate most about your new faith Home and what is the most difficult thing for you in being a convert?

    Apart from faith matters (or not) what is your greatest personal aspiration?

    Right, well now that we’re done with the easy questions I’ll think up something hard. God bless my friend.

  8. Karen says:

    😀 What a totally cool post!

  9. Owen says:

    Dear heart – thank you.

  10. Suzanne says:

    From the responses you wrote for my questions, we are very much alike!

  11. Barbara says:

    I think you are being too hard on yourself.

    Your children are both gifted and clever. Wondergirl has an exemplary academic record and is doing well in school. Wonderboy has had what must have been a very disruptive and anxious time with the health problems he had a year or so ago.

    You have given them your love, your support and, from what I see, you have given it, unselfishly, constantly and unconditionally. Love is what they have in abundance and you are it source. Be Proud of yourself.. you could have crawled into a hole and left them to it – but you did not – you could have walked away – and you did not – and they will never be able to replace the love of their mother..

    You have not Failed!!!!

    • ukok says:

      Bless you Barbara, you relaly lifted my spirit with your words of encouragement (((hugs)))

      Sadly, i can;t seem to find the cookie recipe but if i find it i will pass it on to you, my friend!

  12. Barbara says:

    PS – I wanted to ask..

    Can I have your choc chip cookie recipie again please?

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