Thursday, December 16, 2010

Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

It's Advent. This is not new, and if you're reading this blog at all, you most likely know that. Advent is a time of waiting in joyful hope for the coming of Christ. It is a time to wait and reflect. And although I am still learning about Advent, I do love it. I love that it helps to focus me on the reason for the season. The Churches are not decorated for Christmas... instead, there are advent wreaths. Priests wear purple colored vestments. It's a time and a space to get away from the hub-bub of shopping and the secular side of celebrations.

And in my reflections, it's once again very apparent to me that I don't wait well. To sit, and "just be" to be quiet and not immersed in busy work, is something that is practically impossible. I struggle with slowing my mind down, and just thinking. I told someone earlier this week that for me, waiting was like slugging my way through a bad book. I just want impatiently to get to the end of the book and know how things turned out. Everyone laughed at that, but I realized that in "skipping" to the end may give me an answer.. yet I would end up missing so much along the way. And in missing out, the answer I had gotten prematurely, would most likely not have as much meaning.

Awareness of this, however, has it's benefits. Last night, for instance, we were stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. I was running late and more than a little stressed. It suddenly occurred to me that I could use this time, to just stop, and reflect on Advent and the coming of Christ.

Being more aware, and paying attention allows for good lessons to be learned. I just have to find the time to slow down... and of course, there's no time like the present!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving ABC's


Borrowing this idea from Allen Hunt's Blog, I have created my own Thanksgiving ABC List. Some are fun, some are serious, all are heartfelt. Well, maybe not the zoom.. that was pure silliness, but I couldn't come up with a better word for "Z"! Maybe next year, if I remember to continue this! Anway, here are my "Thanksgiving ABC's":

My Thanksgiving ABC’s

A - Audrey and Aaron, two special people who are awesome!
B - Butter Pecan Ice Cream… the BEST flavor ever!
C - Cousins – the Joneses and the Shooks, and all their extended families… I appreciate you more than you know
D - Dogs! So many have blessed my life Wimby, Punkin, Poohbear, Spencer and many more
E - Effie, my Mother in-law
F - Fletchers, our dear friends
G - Garret aka Gear-itttt! Love you honey
H - Haswell & Herman… my family heritage…
I - Internet… so awesome and a great way to stay connected
J - Julia & Jack, my parents… who I will love forever
K - Kindle… I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Kindle
L - Logan aka Logie-Wan! Love you sweetie
M - Mary, Mother of God
N - Newfoundland Dogs, Cora, Sadie, Sailor, Kira, Neiko, Ben & Yelda, as well as all the Fosters who stayed with us
O - Oz, Wizard of… one of my favorite movies as a child
P - Pepsi, Diet… of which I love and drink too much of
Q - Quests…. Love them, whether on games or In real life…
R - Russell, my beloved husband
S – Sister, my sister Lilli… who is very dear to me
T - Trinity, God the Father, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
U - University of Dayton… where I work, where I began my faith journey, where I am blessed
V - Vatican, I hope to visit some day
W - Wisconsin, a special place, filled with loving and awesome memories
X - XAN, Memories and friends… many of whom I've reconnected with on Facebook
Y - Yahoo, my email… love it!
Z - Zoom! I love to zoom zoom zoom!
*
While looking at this list, I am once again reminded that even with life's bumps in the road, I am very blessed. I wish all my loved ones, my friends, neighbors and colleagues a very joyous Thanksgiving. For those of you are traveling, Godspeed. For those of you who are cooking, cook well, and remember to rest and take time to enjoy. For those of you celebrating with family, enjoy each other... family is precious, and so many will be alone on this day. And for those of you who will be alone... know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless you all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Forgiveness

I have spent the better part of this week wallowing. I've been feeling sorry for myself because my feelings were hurt by some careless, albeit rude words spoken to me a few days ago. I knew immediately that Jesus would as me to "turn the other cheek" and I made a fairly lame attempt to do so. I spent a lot of time regaling other friends with my "tail of woe" and as most good friends would do they shared my outrage and offered words of support, which I greatly appreciated. One would think that I would feel uplifted by their support, yet I was trapped in this awful place, reveling in the misery and toxicity of anger and self pity. It's as if I was a child, lashing out and having a temper tantrum because my feelings were hurt! There are times when anger has it's place. Yet in this instance it was misguided. In retrospect, the original insult seems so pathetically small!

I have only been hurting my self. My conscious kept niggling at me, telling me I was off track and that I needed to let it go. It was time to remember that I'm an adult and to act like one! I prayed to Jesus and to Our Blessed Mother for help. All prayers are answered, in God's own way. I was praying about something else that was causing me great concern... alternating between Hail Mary's and The Lord's Prayer. As I said the words of the "Our Father" I suddenly got a mental jolt. It's hard to describe the sensation... I was whispering the prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13

As I got to the words:

and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,


I knew... I knew that my prayer had been answered and that God was letting me know what I needed to know. As I pondered this, I suddenly realized that all that negative energy inside of me was fading.. and fading fast. Suddenly all that was left was peace, and that sensation was awesome. I hadn't expected to get an answer to my former prayer while praying about something different, but I did!

Luckily, I was paying attention this time! And all the pouting, the need to plot and to plan on how "I'll show them" are clearly a waste of time and completely not necessary!

God of Love,
I thank You for the people in my life
who are easy to love.
I thank You for my family and friends
who understand my actions,
who support me in my decisions,
and whose presence can lift the burden of a thorny day.

Help me with those who are difficult to love.
When they come at me with criticism
and wild expectations,
when they ignore me
or try to bend me to their will,
let me recognize their flaws and their dangers.
But then let me remember your attitude toward them,
and lead me to see them
in the light of Your love.

Amen.





Monday, November 15, 2010

November, a month of lists...

November is a busy month... there's alot to do, and lists need to be made. And, NO! If you're thinking of "Making that list, checking it twice" lists, shopping lists, and Christmas lists, that's not what I meant. Well, not really... maybe towards the end of the month that would make sesnse. But there's so much going on in November, way before the onslaught of the annual "Christmas Rush".

At the beginning of the month, we had election day. After dutifully gathering my lists of candidates and ballots, I headed to the polls and cast my vote. I find this very helpful while voting... I can pay close attention to the mechanics of voting and make sure that I vote accurately and efficiently. The key, of course is to "remember the list!"

With Halloween behind us, the focus is on the upcoming holidays. People often "skim over" Thanksgiving and focus on Christmas as though it was the big prize at the end of the journey. It's not of course. Nor is Thanksgiving. There is so much preparation in to planning a feast for the family... whether there be two or twenty+. This warrants a couple of lists, the first being a menu of sort, and then obviously, a grocery list. And once the actually cooking has commenced, another list is born... a score card of sorts... a schedule really of when to cook what. It's quite complicated, and I leave this to the pros... Russell and his Mom.

And then, of course, for me, the most important list.... a "Gratitude List" of all my blessings and things that I have to be grateful for. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? Not parades or football games, not the "Black Friday" ads in the daily paper, but a time to give Thanks to God for our blessings. So if you're reading this, won't you join me in contemplating what to put on your Gratitude List? I will begin mine, and share on Thanksgiving. There's so much that comes to mind, with little contemplation.

And once I have this list complete, I might just start on the December lists....

God Bless you and yours,

Annie


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Verteran's Day - 2010

I think of many things when November 11th rolls around each year. The first thought I think of is, my Grandfather... who was born on November 11th. He died when I was 6 and I have a few memories of him; all wonderful ones of course. The sad thing is, as I'm writing this, I'm trying to remember if he was a Veteran. I'm pretty sure he was... and this is something I'll have to find out!

The second thing I think of is my Father, who was a Veteran. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War. He enlisted with his first cousin and best friend on the heels of World War II, when patriotism was soaring. They both left college to serve, and both returned to college at the end of their 4 years. My Father never saw battle, but he was emphatically proud to be an American, and proud to have served his country.

The third thing I think of is my own childhood... growing up during the Viet Nam era... hearing whispers of my parents when a friends son had been killded or wounded in combat. I remember eagerly ordering my POW bracelet, and wearing it proudly. I wish I could remember the name of the soldier on that bracelet, or his fate. I remember when the war ended and feeling relieved. I was not aware, however, of the way the soldiers were treated upon coming home. It was a while until I realized that soldiers returning home from Viet Nam were not treated the same way as soldiers from previous battles.

I remember Desert Storm, and watching it every night on tv. I remember Arthur Kent aka "The Scud Stud", a correspondent for NBC who reported live every night.... and I thought was very cute. It was the worst kind of reality tv... a train wreck that you couldn't look away from... that I was compelled to watch every single night, terrified, yet dazzled at the same time. And of course, I remember our most recent and ongoing wars in Iraq and now Afghanistan. They are absolutely horrible, and I cringe when I watch the news and see young men and women shipping out.

These are terrifying times, and at times devastating to families all accross this nation. Movies and television often romanticize war... but there is nothing remotely romantic about war. War is a "necessary evil", and our soldiers are fighting to preserve our freedom, and the freedom of those around the world. Thank you to all the Men and Women who have served in the past, who are serving now and who will serve in the future. God Bless them all.

In closing, here is a prayer (from the New St. Joseph People’s Prayer Book ) for all who serve, past, present and future:

Prayer on Veterans Day

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,

those whom we honor today are examples of your words:“Greater love than this no one has: that he lay down his life for his friends.” They gave up their lives in defense of freedom for their loved ones and their country.

Teach me to appreciate the virtue of patriotism -a true and Christian love of country. Let me love my country not to follow it blindly but to make it the land of goodness that it should be. Let my patriotism be such that it will not exclude the other nations of the world but include them in a powerful love of country that has room for all others too. Amen

Friday, November 05, 2010

It's that time again....

Once again, it's time to "fall back". On Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 2:00 AM, we need to set our clocks back one hour. Luckily, the phrase, "spring forward, fall back" helps remind us of which way the hour hand needs to move! Some say that Benjamin Franklin invented Daylight Savings time when he was in France. He was known for is saying "Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy wealthy and wise". He suggested that by going to bed an hour earlier, people would save themselves from burning so many wax candles.

I found the following information about Daylight Savings time from About.Com:

How Daylight Saving Time Works

During late Winter we move our clocks one hour ahead and "lose" an hour during the night and each Fall we move our clocks back one hour and "gain" an extra hour. But Daylight Saving Time (and not Daylight Savings Time with an "s") wasn't just created to confuse our schedules.

The phrase "Spring forward, Fall back" helps people remember how Daylight Saving Time affects their clocks. At 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks forward one hour ahead of Standard Time ("Spring forward," even though Spring doesn't begin until late March, several weeks after the start of Daylight Saving Time). We "Fall back" at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November by setting our clock back one hour and thus returning to Standard Time.

The change to Daylight Saving Time ostensibly allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours. During the eight-month period of Daylight Saving Time, the names of time in each of the time zones in the U.S. (map) change as well. Eastern Standard Time (EST) becomes Eastern Daylight Time, Central Standard Time (CST) becomes Central Daylight Time (CDT), Mountain Standard Time (MST) becomes Mountain Daylight Time (MDT), Pacific Standard Time becomes Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), and so forth.


History of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time is four weeks longer since 2007 due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours.

Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time and based on a variety of factors, it is possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time.

Arizona (except some Indian Reservations), Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have chosen not to observe Daylight Saving Time. This choice does make sense for the areas closer to the equator because the days are more consistent in length throughout the year.

So remember to set your clocks back before you go to bed on Saturday! And, while you're at it, this is a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors as well! Enjoy the extra hour of sleep!!! I know I will!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book Review: "The Five People You Meet In Heaven"

I just finished reading "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom. I read it reluctantly because I normally don't read books that are either sad and/or about death. I read this book after it was recommended to me by a friend. Thanks Rick :)

I loved it. I cried, which Rick told me I would do. The fact that I was reading the end in a laundromat surrounded by strangers wasn't even embarrassing. There I sat, with tears streaming down my face with a stupid grin on my face. And I simply did not care. I was wrapped up in the end of a wonderful story, that ended well despite the sometimes sad, tragic story. Yes, I got my happy ending,

And that is life. We have our joys and our heartbreaks. We have our happy times and devastatingly tragic times. You really can't have one with out the other.. and yes, I do subscribe to the the philosophy that the bad times help to make the good times even more wonderful... they help us to appreciate things. Society needs to appreciate things more. It's so easy to get wrapped up in feeling bad about our problems, our existence. It's so easy to wallow in self pity, so easy to be a victim.

And this is what struck me about this book. The main character was a man named Eddie. The books starts a short time before his death. As the pages turn, we travel backwards and forward in time, and between Eddie's life on Earth and his new life in heaven. This book kept my mind hopping- it never let me get bored. It kept me wanting to turn to the next page and find out what was going to happen. Eddie had is share of bad times. His childhood had it's traumas from an alcoholic father. He survived the brutality and tragedy of World War II. He fell in love and married the love of his life. He thought he was stuck working at a place he never wanted to end up in, and living in his family's old apartment for most of his life.

When he got to heaven, and learned the lessons that were waiting for him there. He learned that his life had had purpose all along. He learned all the good behind the bad. And even when learning about bad things that he had no knowledge of, there was still good that came from that.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

Eddie: Does God know I am here? She answered: "yes"

"Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that's all. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.
--Eddie's Wife"

"Holding anger is a poison...It eats you from inside...We think that by hating someone we hurt them...But hatred is a curved blade...and the harm we do to others...we also do to ourselves."


This is a powerful, uplifting book. I came away from it feeling exhilarated and humbled at the same time. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day - Vote

I have always loved this painting. I remember it hanging in one of my elementary school classrooms. At the time, I didn't understand the full meaning of what the fight for liberty meant. These men fought for our liberty... for our "unalienable rights" which include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As citizens of the United States of America, one of our "rights" is the right to Vote. So please, do not throw this "right" away.

By not voting, you are throwing your right way. You are waiving your right to complain! So get out there, and vote!

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

God Bless America!

Monday, November 01, 2010

All Souls Day

I took a bit of an expedition this weekend. I have shared in an earlier blog that I went to the cemetery and placed a pumpkin on my father's grave. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I drove around looking at the fall colors and at the variety of grave markers.... some old.. some very contemporary. I had to wonder about the people buried there... who comes to visit their graves, to pay them respect, and most importantly, to pray for them. My own family has quite a large plot there... and as I looked at their graves, and "spoke to them" it occured to me that as All Soul's Day is soon, that I should be praying for them!

What is All Soul's Day all about anyway? Here is a great exlpanation from the "Women for Faith and Family's" website:


From the beginning, Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. There is scriptural basis for this intercessory prayer for the sins of others and for the dead in the Old Testament. Job's sacrifices purified his sons (Job 1:5); and Judas Maccabeus "made atonement for the dead that they be delivered from their sin" (II Macc 12:46). The tradition in the Church of having Masses said for the dead began in the earliest times. The pre-Christian Roman religion, which held that some form of life continued after death, gave votive offerings to the gods for the dead at three specified times: the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death. This practice of praying for the departed on these same days was adopted ("inculturated") by the early Christians -- and continued in the Church for nearly 2000 years: the Church offered Masses for the deceased person on the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death.


Beginning in the year 998, All souls -- the "faithful departed" -- were officially remembered in the Church's prayers on the evening of November 1, and with Requiem Masses, Masses for the dead, on November 2. All Souls Day is now a feast of the universal Church. (The word "requiem" is Latin for "rest".) Following the Second Vatican Council, all Masses celebrated on All Saints day observe that feast, not "All souls". Three Masses may still be said on All Souls Day. The first two are Masses for Burial, and the third is a Mass for the Dead. Black vestments may be worn on this day.


We pray for the faithful departed, those who have been baptized, but who need to be completely purified of all stain of sin before they come into full union with God in Heaven. In other words, most of us. The Church's teaching about Purgatory, the place of purification, is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§1030-1032)

Here are a couple of prayers that can be said every night at bed time, or whenever you pray, for your deceased loved ones:

Heavenly Father, You sent Christ Jesus your Son to wash away the sins of all mankind through His perfect sacrifice,and you cleansed our departed brothers and sisters in the waters of baptism. May His perfect sacrifice free them from the power of death and give them eternal life. In your mercy, O Lord, grant them eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine on them forever. +


Amen.


***


Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,and let perpetual light shine upon them.May they rest in peace.


Amen.



All Saint’s Day, 2010

All Saint’s Day comes on the heels of Halloween, and right before “All Soul’s Day”. All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation… it is a solemnity where Catholics pay homage to all the Saints in heaven. EWTN describes All Saints Day as:

“The church in this great festival honours all the saints reigning together in glory; first, to give thanks to God for the graces and crowns of all his elect: secondly, to excite ourselves to a fervent imitation of their virtues by considering the holy example of so many faithful servants of God of all ages, sexes, and conditions, and by contemplating the inexpressible and eternal bliss which they already enjoy, and to which we are invited: thirdly, to implore the divine mercy through this multitude of powerful intercessors: fourthly, to repair any failures or sloth in not having duly honoured God in his saints on their particular festivals, and to glorify him in the saints which are unknown to us, or for which no particular festivals are appointed. Therefore our fervour on this day ought to be such that it may be a reparation of our sloth in all the other feasts of the year; they being all comprised in this one solemn commemoration, which is an image of that eternal great feast which God himself continually celebrates in heaven with all his saints, whom we humbly join in praising his adorable goodness for all his mercies, particularly for all treasures of grace which he has most munificently heaped upon them. In this and all other festivals of the saints God is the only object of supreme worship, and the whole of that inferior veneration which is paid to the saints is directed to give sovereign honour to God alone, whose gifts their graces are: and our addresses to them are only petitions to holy fellow creatures for the assistance of their prayers to God for us. When, therefore, we honour the saints, in them and through them we honour God, and Christ, true God and true man, the Redeemer and Saviour of mankind, the King of the Saints, and the source of all their sanctity and glory.”

A prayer in praise of the saints:

How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord
which you give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God
In the honour and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow you,
bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world's power.
For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,
they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to you
who were grounded deep within their hearts;
they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with your everlasting grace,
may we rejoice forever
with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in your goodness,
grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.

Unknown author, 10th century


My personal reflections:

In honor of All Saint’s Day, I thought that I would share a few Saints that I feel very close to.

St. Anthony of Padua:


I have a special affinity for Saint Anthony has bailed me out alot! I am forever losing things. Russell is forever losing things. As a small child, my Mother told me to always pray to St. Anthony whenever I was looking for something lost. And it always worked. About Saint Anthony (from Saints.SQPN.com):

Anthony’s wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a poor Franciscan. Priest.

When the remains of Saint Berard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was moved to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize. Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to the church in Portiuncula. Lived in a cave at San Paolo leaving only to attend Mass and sweep the nearby monastery. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly travelling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.

A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues; legend says that even the fish loved to listen. Miracle worker. One of the most beloved of saints, his images and statues are found everywhere - though none of them portray him as a heavy-set man, which some reports claim he was. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946.

One source of the well-known patronage for the recovery of lost objects comes from a legend that, long after Anthony’s death, his old prayer book was kept as a treasured relic, and one day it disappeared. People prayed for help in finding the lost item, a novice found it and returned it; he later admitted that he had “borrowed” the book and returned it after receiving a vision of an angry Anthony.

St. Dwynwen



In choosing a Saint for my confirmation name, I researched all sorts of wonderful Saints. I was drawn to St. Dwynwen because I feel like we have so much in common. We're both romantics.. passionate about our beliefs, and have a love for animals. It seemed fitting to take her name as my confirmation name. About St. Dwynwen (from Saints.SQPN.com):

Beautiful, pious and virtuous daughter of the 5th century Welsh king, Brychan of Brecknock. A certain Maelon fell in love with her, and wished to marry her. Though Dwynwen returned his love, her heart was set on becoming a nun, and she rejected him. She dreamt she was given a sweet drink which saved her from his attentions, but which turned the poor young man to ice. Realising that Maelon couldn’t help his love for her, she prayed that he be restored to life, that all lovers should find happiness, and that she never have the desire for marriage. Dwynwen became a nun and lived on Llanddwyn Island on the western coast of Ynys Mon (Anglesey), an area accessible only at low tide.

Her well, a fresh-water spring called Ffynnon Dwynwen, became a wishing well and place of pilgrimage, particularly for lovers because of the story above. The tradition grew that the eel in the well could foretell the future for lovers - ask questions and watch which way they turn. Women would scatter breadcrumbs on the surface, then lay her handkerchief on water’s surface; if the eel disturbed it, her lover would be faithful. All this led to her connection with animals, which eventually led to the tradition that her intercession could heal injured animals.


St. Francis of Assisi


I've been an animal lover my entire life, and therefore have been aware of St. Francis of Assisi since I was a young girl. I'd pray to him whenever one of our pets was ill or lost. It was not until years later that I really learned about St. Francis. Knowing his story has made me ever more devoted to him. About St. Francis (from Saints.SQPN.com):

Son of Pietro Bernadone, a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father’s business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth. Street brawler and some-time soldier. Captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, Italy, he spent over a year as a prisoner of war. During this time he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his faith seriously.

He took the Gospels as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings. He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing, founded the Franciscans based on a simple statment by Jesus: “Leave all and follow me.” In 1212 Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. Visited and preached to the Saracens. Composed songs and hymns to God and nature. Lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans.

While in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. This miracle has a separate memorial on 17 September.

In the Middle Ages people who believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of Saint Francis, the theory being that he was the demon’s opposite number in heaven.

St. John The Baptist


Before I even decided to become Catholic, I remember Russell expression is appreciation and affection for John The Baptist... the "wild man in the wilderness". As I learned more about him, I was drawn to him as well. His faith, his conviction and his devotion to Christ was dazzling. One of my favorite Gospels is the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ, where John The Baptist baptized Jesus. About St. John the Baptist (from Saints.SQPN.com):

Cousin of Jesus Christ. Son of Zachary, a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendent of Aaron. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, an angel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.

Prophet. John began his ministry around age 27, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. He Baptized Christ, after which he stepped away and told his disciples to follow Jesus.

Imprisoned by King Herod. He died a victim of the vengeance of a jealous woman; he was beheaded, and his head brought to her on a platter. Saint Jerome says Herodias kept the head for a long time after, occasionally stabbing the tongue with his dagger because of what John had said in life.

St. Mary Magdalene



I adore Mary Magdalene. Her devotion to Christ was amazing. She is the patron saint of many, including women and converts. Her name was my second choice of confirmation names. About St. Mary Magdalene (from Saints.SQPN.com):

We have very little solid information about Saint Mary, and both scholars and traditions differ on the interpretation of what we do know. She was a friend and follower of Jesus. Filled with sorrow over her sin, she anointed Christ, washed his feet with her hair. He exorcised seven demons from her. She was visited by the Risen Christ.

There are also arguments about her life after the Crucifixion. The Greek Church maintains that she retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin Mary and lived there the rest of her life. A French tradition says that Mary, Lazarus, and some companions came to Marseilles, France, evangelized and converted the whole Provence region, and then retired to live 30 years as a penitent hermitess at La Sainte-Baume.

Oh, some things we do know for certain - Mary wasn’t Jesus’ wife or mistress, she wasn’t the mother of His child, she didn’t found a royal dynasty or separate branch of Christianity, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

In conclusion...

My source of information on these wonderful saints is Saints.SQPN.com. Be sure to visit the site to learn about these saints and others.

There are so many Saints.. so many amazing stories of Christian men and women. I'm learning about them slowly, and I know so little. I do know that I am eager to learn more. So perhaps next year I will post about 5 more. God's Blessings to you all.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

My Father loved Halloween. Being a person who valued and loved tradition, he would select our family pumpkin with great care. I can almost smell the newspaper as we would cover the kitchen table, in preparation of carving the pumpkin. I can see the knives and the metal spoon we used to scoop out the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. And I can see the faces of the pumpkins.. always the same... two triangles for eyes, one triangle for a nose and a smiling mouth with no teeth! Occasionally Lilli and I would convince him to add triangle shaped ears. That was rare, however.

When he died in October, 1983, I began the new tradition of taking a pumpkin down to the cemetery and placing it on his grave. And today, I continued the tradition. I found the perfect pumpkin, the shape that he preferred. I didn't carve it... and I drove it down to the cemetery. It was a beautiful fall day, slightly windy but not too blustery. The sun peaked out from time to time behind the clouds. I didn't mind the clouds.. I think that Halloween should be cloudy. All of this may seem a bit silly but in light of what Halloween is all about, maybe not. And I do believe that he would be pleased. Happy Halloween Daddy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's been a blustery day!



What a day this has been! I've worked here at the University for over 10 years and never before have we been told to take shelter in a safe place. Tornado sirens blared around noon, and we took cover in the basement. It was an adventure and I got to know some very nice people from other floors. Thanks be to God that there was no serious damage. Other communities near by were not as lucky. Prayers for them.....
Happy Birthday 8th Yelda! I often call her Yelda-loo, and sometimes when she is naughty, which is quite often, Yelda from Helda. Yelda is a newfoundland dog and came to us through Rescue. We initially fostered her when she was just about 9 months old. She came from a broken and abusive home, and lacked attention and training. We placed her with a couple who seemed to be good candidates. The lady worked alot with her an did alot of obedience training. However, she was bitten by the show bug, and wanted to get a show-Mastiff. Her husband said ok, but she'd have to get rid of Yelda. Calling his bluff, or rather attempting to, she got her Mastiff, and before long, Yelda was back in Rescue. Another home was found, and it too seemed ideal. It was a farm with a lady who loved Yelda dearly. However she became quite ill, and Yelda and her strong will and spunkiness was too much for her to handle. And so back she came.

At this point I didn't feel that we could continue yanking her around. We looked at a couple of possible homes for her but in the end she stayed. She is a challenging girl.. very headstrong and smart. It's not been ideal but it's worked, and I love her dearly.

In writing this I would like to clarify the importance of Rescue. Rescue organizations for the most part do an awesome job in bringing lost and unwanted dogs back to health, in fostering and placing them. The fact that Yelda came back to us twice is no fault or reflection on rescue. It just happens. The important thing is that Yelda is safe and happy. Happy Birthday Yeldie-loo.. you are loved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The weekend in review

Fridays always dawn with the sense of anticipation of "the weekend". It seems that I often feel like I did when I was a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve or on the night before we leave for a long anticipated vacation. OK... maybe that is an exaggeration.... I do do that from time to time. Yet it's still exciting. In you younger, single days, Fridays brought the excitement of going out with friends after work... going to a couple of bars, listening to music and hanging out with friends... and maybe, just maybe... meeting "Someone". And truth be told, it was on one of these Friday nights that I did meet Russell. So it's probably true that my instincts were on to something. However, I digress. I could follow that train of thought and end up with a completely different type of blog!

The thing about my weekends of late are that they end up being centered around dining out, family/friends, church and sometimes that horrible word that I seem to avoid at all costs: chores. I guess the kid in me still strongly rebels at that word... and in my mind... chores really have no place in "fun time", which weekends should be. Shouldn't they?

Well maybe not!

I'm adult after all... it even says so on my drivers license... and in reality... chores do have a place in our lives... and they don't stop on weekends. Life just doesn't work that way. So you can grumble and make it horrible, or you can deal with them as cheerfully as possible. That seems to work the best, and in looking back also seems to (at times) create wonderful memories as well.

In typical fashion, this weekend had a schedule. I am all about "the schedule" and I can fill it rapidly and with finesse. Fridays are usually quiet. Russell works late much of the time and then we stop off and grab dinner somewhere. This week we went to a small restaurant and I had a yummy steak, salad and baked sweet potato. Russell had ribs, which always seem to be good at this place (The Barbecue Hut).

Once home, we got the dogs walked and fed and then settled in for the night. We watched our usual cooking shows on PBS... and it was a nice quiet evening. Saturday morning found us having breakfast and figuring out the rest of day. I went off to spend the day with my sister and Russell headed off to work. The plan was to meet his at his Mom's at 4 and go to Mass. Well, best laid plans even go awry. I was running late, and so I sent a text message to Russell to let him know... and was to meet them at Church.

Lilli and I had a great time together. We visited her friend, went shopping and had lunch at a new burger place.... talk about YUMMY fries. Then we went and saw our Mother.... and then I headed to church. I love going to Mass, and the readings and Gospel were exactly what I needed to hear. Funny how it seems to work out that way more often then not. After Mass, we ate at a little Greek place. Again yummy food. I told you that much of our time is centered around dining out!

As I was driving home, my mind was zig zagging all over the place, but there was one thing that became very clear. I needed to urgently do laundry. So after a stop at Walmart to pick up some things for Russell (benadryl and new boxers.. which both blew him away) I flew home and loaded the washer.

And once again we were settled in our den after a good but very hectic day. We watched a TV. Russell and the dogs dozed and I played around on Facebook. The hour grew late and Russell took Ben and went to bed. I put Kira and Yelda into bed and remembered my laundry. So I headed downstairs to put the wash into the dryer. And this is when my "master plan" went awry.

I smelled something... and it wasn't good. Something smelled hot and I was quite alarmed. There was no smoke, and nothing felt hot to the touch. I went to the washer... opened the door and discovered that it was still full of water. UH-OH, this was definitely not good. I tried to restart it, and got nothing but a weak hum. And so up the stairs I flew to wake Russell. I know I scared him and I felt bad but he needed to check this out. So back down the stairs we hurried... and he knew right away that a belt had broken. And this meant the washer was not going to work until it was fixed. CRAP, CRAP and more CRAP! Sleepy, Russell went back upstairs, and I followed, with all sorts of alternative plans for the next day zooming through my mind.

I went to bed with half formed plans. The day's schedule was pretty full... yet we had a soaking wet load of laundry to deal with. So by 8:30 we were up and at 'em. Time for chores, and team work. As I walked the dogs, I said a prayer... and this is what I really wanted to blog about. I felt tense and uneasy. And so I prayed that we have the patience and camaraderie to get through this... and my prayer was answered. After the dogs were settled, I went down to help Russell wring out the soaking wet clothes. We filled two tubs of wet clothes, and I bailed the washer while he loaded them in the car. I grabbed our detergent and a container of change that I had been saving for a rainy day. The irony of this made me grin.

And off to the laundromat we went. And truth be told.... there's something to be said for the efficiency of doing laundry this way. It goes by so fast, and it was kind of fun. We worked together as a team and got the job done. And my "master plan" schedule for Sunday remained in place, and everything worked out. We had brunch with our friends and then I went off to a concert with my cousin and a girls night out. I came home feeling like it had been a long day, but a good one. Chores had been taken care of, in the spirit of teamwork... and the result was that our spirits were happy and content as bedtime came. And of course, my prayers had been answered. Thank you God!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rest in Peace Mrs. Cleaver and Mr. C....

While listening to the radio the other day, I was so sad to hear of the passing of Barbara Billingsley, aka June Cleaver from the television so "Leave It to Beaver". As a small child, I loved this show... and remember so many episodes. It was a kind and gentle show... where family values stood strong. I've watched the reruns in recent years and have always found the show to be entertaining and true.

Another of my favorite shows was "Happy Days". Of coruse I was in my teen years when this show was on the air. Yet family values and strong parent role models were still valued. Tom Bosley as Mr. C will rank right up there with Andy Griffith as one of America's best loved father figures. And it was with great sadness that I learned of his passing a few hours ago.

In less that a week's time, we have lost two strong parenting Icons from the world of Television. Television back then was completely different than it is today. Of course the world was a different place. It's a sad commentary that today's television contains very little of these values, and that popular culture relishes in scoffing at them.

Rest in Peace Barbara and Tom. You will be dearly missed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Walking on walnuts.. the perils of Autumn!

Autumn is a most awesome time to venture out and take a walk. I love autumn... the cooler air is often crisp and invigorating. It invites me to venture out and take a walk... get some exercise, something that I get too little of. Yet Autumn walks can be perilous! There are all sorts of dangers awaiting the unsuspecting trekker, who could most likely be described as daydreaming while enjoying the loveliness of the day and season.

You may wonder what dangers I am eluding too. So let me widen the scope a bit and let you in on the bigger picture. Anyone who knows me will realize by now that if I were to take a walk, I would most likely be accompanied by one of our Newfoundland dogs. Our walk would begin in our yard, stopping every inch or so to sniff this blade of grass or that leaf that conveniently floated down in front of us and distracted us from our course. I usually find myself speculating every fall that our dogs have suddenly come down with attention deficit disorder, because they don't seem to focus very well because there is so much going on. We've already touched on the falling leaves. Besides distracting the dogs as they fall they also cover the grass, and sometimes other things that one would rather not step in.

And then there are the walnuts. We have a very large walnut tree in our yard. It starts dropping in August, but the nuts are easily seen and avoided. However, once the leaves begin to fall, they are harder to see. This of course creates a couple of potential hazards.

The first that comes to mind are the squirrels that are drawn to the walnuts. Now while squirrels can be pests and drain our bird-feeders at a rapid rate, I personally don't have anything against them. Yet when I've got a 120+ pound dog on a leash and a squirrel ventures in the the yard... and "said dog" notices the squirrel and decides on impulse to go MEET it... I have a problem. This would be the second hazard: walking or running on walnuts is dangerous to one's well being, not to mention one's ankles.

So if you're out and about, and encounter a pathway filled with walnuts take heed! Be safe and keep alert! And try and enjoy yourself along the way!

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Christian Connection to Halloween

I love Halloween. I always have. In fact, I have clear memories of my Dad saying that Halloween was his favorite holiday. Of course he said that about Thanksgiving.... and he was pretty big on Christmas too! :) That said... Halloween has been a big tradition and a big favorite during my life time on this earth.

Some of my dearest memories are of going to "Groby's Garden Center" and picking out the perfect pumpkin. This was almost as challenging as picking out the perfect Christmas Tree. The Carving of the pumpkin was my Dad's job, but we were there to help clean out the pumpkin and separate the seeds, which we would later roast. Beggars night was always exciting... choosing our constumes, going out with our cousins and seeing friends along the way. It was pure fun! Years later, after my Father died, I began taking a small pumpkin down to the cemetery and placing it on his grave in honor of his love of Halloween.

As I began my faith journey and eventual conversion to Catholicism, it became very clear that many of my Christian Brothers and Sisters frowned on the holiday, and suggested that in celebrating Halloween, I embracing evil. Now I will not deny that that I am a sinner.... but I do not choose to embrace evil, black magic or the dark arts. I am a Christian, and my heart belongs to God, to His son Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit. So before tossing out all my Halloween decorations and traditions, I decided to do some research about the origins of Halloween and the Christian connection to Halloween. Happily, I have learned quite a bit!

From the American Catholic website, I learned:

"The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead—including ghosts, goblins and witches—returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider—traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play?


In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things” (#1475). "


And so, in this spirit, I will continue to decorate for Halloween, to put pumpkins on my Father's grave and to hand out candy to trick or treaters, and to enjoy Autumn, and all it's riches and blessings. God Bless each and every one of you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Britain makes room for Benedict

After spending several days avidly following Pope Benedicts historic visit to the United Kingdom I think this article sums it up best!

Britain makes room for Benedict

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, is the "Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary". Much has been written about this day... by scholars who know far more that I do. Yet I feel that this is a special day... and which to commemorate it out of respect and love for the Blessed Virgin.

I found this lovely prayer:

Hail, Infant Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou forever, and blessed are thy holy parents Joachim and Anne, of whom thou wast miraculously born. Mother of God, intercede for us. We fly to thy patronage, holy and amiable Child Mary, despise not our prayers in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, glorious and blessed Virgin.

V. Pray for us, holy Child Mary.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray: O almighty and merciful God, Who through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, didst prepare the body and soul of the Immaculate Infant Mary that she might be the worthy Mother of Thy Son, and didst preserve her from all stain, grant that we who venerate with all our hearts her most holy childhood,
may be freed, through her merits and intercession, from all uncleanness of mind and body, and be able to imitate her perfect humility, obedience and charity.

Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

There are many wonderful websites where you can read more about the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here are some links:

Fisheaters.com

The Mary Page

Our Lady's Birthday


In addition there are many blogs devoted to this feast day. Here is a sampling of some in which I found to be particularly charming and touching:

Catholic Fire

Catholic Family Vignettes

Catholic Cuisine

In closing, I would like to offer the following prayer found on the "Catholic Family Vignette's Blog:

Prayer to the Holy Child Mary

Sweet Child Mary, destined to be the Mother of God and our sovereign and loving Mother, by the prodigies of grace you lavish upon us, mercifully listen to my humble supplications. In the needs which press upon me from every side and especially in my present tribulation, I place all my trust in you.

O Holy Child, by the privileges granted to you alone and by the merits which you have acquired, be merciful to me this day. Show that the source of spiritual favors and the continuous benefits which you dispense are inexhaustible, because your power with the Heart of God is unlimited. Deign through the immense profusion of graces with which the Most High has enriched you from the first moment of your Immaculate Conception, grant me, O Celestial Child, my petition, and I shall eternally praise the goodness of your Heart.

Amen


In closing, I would like to offer humble and loving tidings to Our Lady. Happy Birthday Mother Mary..... I love you.







Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Boy Named Troy

I posted this news on Facebook yesterday about a boy named Troy: "Just heard some news... that Troy Boy, one of our most memorable and wonderful Foster Newfs went to the Rainbow Bridge on Saturday after 7+ years in his forever home with Liz and Bob. RIP Troy boy... you will always be a shining star in our hearts and memories... sending prayers and love to Liz & Bob...."

We picked Troy up from a shelter in Troy, Ohio, where he would have been euthanized if we hadn't found him. He was in very bad shape. He weighed only 68 pounds and had lost all his fur on his underside. Staff members at the shelter had already written him off as a lost cause. They had no hope that he's survive and suggested that we bring him back to be eutahnized if he didn't get any better. At the time I was outraged. The shelter was one of the worst I had ever been in... and there was no way we'd ever bring him back there. We were determined to help him get better and find a loving home.

Our vet at the time was dubious about this, but after much talking we got to work. We fed him, bathed him with special shampoo. Troy was a survivor! He responded very well to medical care, and his hair started growing back... he also started gaining weight. We have no idea of his history, but we guess that he must have been on the run for a long time... as many of his teeth are broken.

One day at work, I got an email from a woman, wanting to adopt a Newf. I called and spoke with her, and after talking to her, and really liking her, I scheduled a time for Russell and I to visit and conduct a "home check". She asked if we could bring a Newf with us. She had grown up with Saint Bernards, and worked for a woman who raised Newfs. She loved the breed dearly. I told her about Troy... and that I'd bring him because the socialization would be good for him. He was still a mess. I explained that he wasn't available for adoption yet because we were in the process of getting him healthy. She understood.

I will never forget that visit. As we pulled into her driveway, she came out the door. She had invited her Mother over to see the Newf! They were delightful, and I knew as I watched Liz sit on her lawn with Troy that she would be an awesome person to adopt a Newf. We went into the house, and conducted our "home check". Troy came in, and as we watched, climbed up into Bob's Chair at the Kitchen table. He had clearly decided that "he was home". Liz and Bob knew at that point, that they wanted Troy to come live with them. "Think about it" we told them. And they did.. for 12 hours. Liz called me the next day saying.. he's the boy for us. And I knew this and agreed. Troy stayed with us for a few more weeks, but he did go for "weekend" visits. Once he got clearance from the Vet, Troy and I took one more ride together to Liz's house, where he lived in the lap of luxury- healthy, well fed and adored.

We were always curious about his age. The Vet had no clear idea and estimated that he was somewhere between 4-7. As he got healthier, he seemed younger. We hoped that he was on the young side obviously. And the fact that Troy lived with Liz and Bob for over 7 years is a testimony to the true power of TLC: Tender Loving Care. It's a testimony to the value of Animal Rescue, and how even a dog that has been deemed "a lost cause" can beat the odds.

So why I am feeling quite sad that Troy has passed away, it's more important to celebrate his life, and his Victory over what once seemed to be insurmountable odds. Rest in Peace sweet boy! You were loved, and you loved back. Bravo!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"They have pretty good chicken salad"

I was driving my "now former" boss to the airport yesterday. Along the way we chatted about restaurants and he shared that he had gone to one of my most favorite eateries. I was so excited and the words "They have good chicken salad" were on the tip of my tongue. Amused by this, I held back. This is an amazing restaurant. The food is clever and unique... they have a luncheon menu and a dinner menu. I usually dine there at lunch time. And yes, I always get their chicken salad... because it really is good. So I can only go by my friends reviews about other items on the menu... and all reviews have been stellar. Even so, I'm sticking with the chicken salad.

Yet I am aware, that my "repertoire" is limited. Russell tells me this all the time. And it's pretty much the truth. Yet there is something about chicken salad. I prefer it with grapes and nuts... maybe some raisins... served with fruit. And it's cool and refreshing.

It's summer... and it's HOT! I don't want the typical fair that campus dining services offers on a daily basis. Who in their right mind wants Roast Beef Hotshots, Stuffed Shells or Chicken & Dumplings on a day when it's 85+ degrees outside and the humidity makes everyone feel heavy and saturated? UGH... definitely not me! Up until about a year or so ago, they used to have a chicken salad OR tuna salad fruit plate for lunch. It was perfect. It was light and refreshing, and fairly nutrition. And yes, the chicken salad itself was pretty good.

We were working at an event at our local dog club a couple of weeks ago. It was HOTTER than hades.... there was no air conditioning as we were outside. The provided lunch for workers... pulled pork or pulled chicken heated up in crock pots. So I casually suggested that maybe chicken salad might be a good idea. They agreed, so I went the next morning to GFS Marketplace and picked up a bucket of their Chicken salad. And yes, it was pretty good! And it was well received as well.

Subway has introduced a new sandwich... orchard chicken salad. As you can imagine, I was very enthused by this. It's OK.. .but.. hey! It's chicken salad! Way to go Subway!!! (and no, I'm in no way affiliated with Subway... I'm just saying...)

My own "home-made" chicken salad is pretty darned good too. I make it with grapes and pecans.... mayo not "miracle whip! I add a hint of curry and some poppy seed dressing and serve it with ripe cantaloupe. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! I make "pretty good chicken salad!"

I am so proud! :) I think I'll be making some... very soon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Substance of Fluff....

Fluff… what exactly is it? It can be sugary sweet marshmellowy goo; it can be the soft feather light filling in a cuddly pillow; it can be a fluffy cloud. Fluff can be warm and soft. Fluff can be a cuddly puppy or kitten. Fluff can be wonderful!


Dictionaries define fluff as something fluffy, something inconsequential. Russell, my husband, would agree with inconsequential… as well as sugary sweet marshmellowy goo. And I have to agree with sugary and sweet, but I don’t agree so much with “inconsequential”.

In “Annie-Speak” fluff means…. Romantic fiction in books, and romantic comedies on television or at the cinema; something light, and easy… and FUN! Happy endings only, thank you very much!

Of course, there is a time for serious reading… serious learning. Yet there is also a much needed time to relax, escape and enjoy. Times to be entertained and let one’s brain relax. For this reason, fluff is vital... it’s soothing… and in that regard, it’s got substance. The substances of laughter, joy, happiness, soothing, calming… entertaining, all of which one needs from time to time!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just A Sparrow?

I was out and about earlier today, doing errands. As I drove along, I saw the flicker of a bird out of the corner of my eye. Interested to see what type a bird it was, I took a closer look. It was a sparrow.

I sighed, and quickly dismissed it and drove on. And then it struck me. This little sparrow is one of God's creatures. And God loves all of his creatures just like he loves each of his children.. despite our flaws. He loves us no matter what, he loves us unconditionally.

Humbled, I considered this more. I once took an ornithology class at a local Audubon center. We looked at slide after slide of birds. Ooohing and awing over the beauty of various warblers, hawks, eagles and other raptors. We cooed over adorable chickadees, wrens and hummingbirds. And we looked at pictures of slides of starlings and sparrows... and when it was apparent that the group was eager to look at the prettier birds, we were told "There are no bad birds". And I discovered this with starlings a couple of years ago. Starlings are often considered to be nuisance birds. But when you get a good look at one, in the right light... they are quite beautiful in their own right. I'm also reminded of the story of the ugly duckling... who was written off until it turned into a beautiful swan.

As humans we are fickle, and at times shallow and superficial. There are the "beautiful people, who pluck and preen endlessly, tweaking and twittering to be the prettiest they can be. It often seems that they are valued more because of their beauty. There are some of us who are predators, powerful Raptors who prowl the skies looking for their next conquest and these are valued for their power and dominance. There are those of us who are tiny and mighty like a hummingbird, and valued for not only their beauty but for their bravado and spirit. Then there are people who are ordinary... like a robin or a wren... valued for contributing to society, for being good little worker bees! And then there are those who, by societies standards, are not "the beautiful people".. they are the sparrows, the starling and the grackles. Often considered to be pests and nuisances, it seems that some would write them off, without a glance... just as they would a junk yard dog, or even a dandelion...

...just like I did earlier today... when I realized it "was just a sparrow". While it was not a proud moment... it was humbling... and in a flash, I gained valuable insight. God loves each and everyone of us.. His children. Just as he loves each and every one of his creatures, and He asked us to love one another as our brothers and sisters.

As humans, we come in every shape and size, making up an amazing patchwork quilt of diverse colors, shapes, and patterns. And when you add the rest of God's creatures to that same patchwork quilt, it becomes quite dazzling... and basks in the warmth of God's love. In closing, Mankind can be awesome. When we're at our best, we are loving and kind... caring and compassionate... extending hands to fellow humans and the rest of God's creatures... accepting and loving them for who they are, not what we want them to be.

I thank God, for the insight I had today. I'll never look at a sparrow the same way again. Instead, I will look at it with appreciation, and give thanks to God for all His creation and for His love. Amen.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day 2010 - Celebrating my appreciation of God's Creation

As I meander through my days, I often stop and take pictures of things that I find beautiful... of things that are sometimes simple, and other times, incricate. I'd like to share them with you here, throughout this blog.

God has given us amazing beauty. It surrounds us. But we overlook it as we go through our days and busy schedules. It's amazing what we can notice... what we can see, hear and smell when we take time to just "be". I once took 20 minutes to just sit and "be".... and during that 20 minutes I heard dogs barking, children laughing, the splashing of a nearby fountain and birdsong.

“Consider the birds: they do not plant seeds or harvest them, they
have neither cellar nor barn to store their wealth, yet God feeds them.” (Luke
12:24)


During these same 20 minutes, I observed a bumble bee floarting around lazily and gracefully; a moth danicing its way across the yard and a myriad of birds including chickadees, robins, cardinals, wrens, woodpeckers to name a few. All of these seemed like "alot" to notice. It was 20 minutes very well spent! The Glory of God's creation surrounds us. Even in the midst of ugliness one can often find beauty. It's simply a matter of looking for it.



This is a clematis. It grew on a trellis on our garage. There were weeds surrounding it, and the trellis was in need of painting. But focusing on the blossom... taking a close look, erases all of the ugliness, and shows the beauty of the blossom. It makes me think that that is the same with human beings. Perhaps if we spent more time taking a closer look, we'd find treasure!



Frozen Frost on a tree... walking to church, freezing...but being awed by the beauty.... reminding us again that God is so good!



After the rain, I found this leaf on top of our thrash cans. The earth had been nourished, the remaining raindrops reminded me of diamonds!This prayer can be said in conjunction with the novena to St. Isidore:

O God, in Whom we live and move, and have our being, grant us rain, in due
abundance, that, being sufficiently helped with temporal, we may the more
confidently seek after eternal gifts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.


So during this week of Earth Day Celebrations, I encourage you to take some time to just "be". Take a walk, sit quietly on a bench. Look at flowers, listen to birdsong. Pray for those who can't see, hear of feel the beauty of God's creation. Reflect on the glory of God's creatoin and give praise and thanks to God. Plant a garden and feed the birds. In closing:

Prayer on Contemplating Nature

You, O God, Majestic Creator, are the origin of all life.
Nothing can exclude itself from your creative influence.
You are wonderful in your words and in your sovereignty.
Amazed, I contemplate the perfection of the world
You created for human beings.
You are unmatched in your power and in your goodness.
O Lord, you direct like a conductor the orchestration of a storm,
and you shape like a sculptor the petals of a flower.
You are prodigious in your majesty and in your wisdom.
Lord, you have fashioned human beings to accept
the challenges of nature and to be your voice in creation.
O Lord and King, Majestic Creator,

You have made your mystery transparent,
in the world you have created.
I worship you in your creation and in your providence.

Amen.

~~~~~~~

Here I Am Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.


I who made the stars and night
I will make the darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?


Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.


I the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people's pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone
Fill their hearts with love alone
I will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?


Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.
I will hold your people in my heart...

(a video of this lovely hymn can be seeing in the next post: click here to see)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Observation or two...


Today, I was out and about doing some errands. I stopped to get some Nyger seed for our upside-down Goldfinch feeder. Feeling thirsty, I then drove down the road to a mini mart and went inside to get a Diet Pepsi. Being a gorgeous weekend spring day, the store was busy. And as I fixed my soda and subsequently stood in line to pay, I did some people watching.

My first observation was of a young girl... she was probably about 15 or 16. She was dressed to play soccer, and as there is a large community soccer field nearby, this didn't seem unusual. She was with her family, and her Father was paying for her Soda and candy. They struck me as quite "well to do". The rest of the family was dressed very nicely... and they appeared to be financially comfortable and to "want for nothing". The girl's parents seemed to dote on their children. The girl's Father gently asked her if she'd like a banana and she snapped "no!" He then asked her if she wanted anything to eat, and she became angry and told him harshly that she was not hungry. This was accompanied with the eye-rolls and shoulder shrugs typical of an angry teenager. As the girl stomped out of the store, the father seemed a bit bewildered, and shook his head as he went to get something to drink. The girl impatiently entered the entered the store to find out what was "taking everyone so long", her frustrated sighs audible.

This took place in a period of less than a minute. I noticed that the cashier had also witnessed all of this, and she looked as embarrassed and appalled as I must have looked. It was then that I made my second observation.

As I was preparing to pay for my soda, a young boy came up to the counter. He had a five dollar bill in his hand. He spoke very softly as he handed the money to the cashier. He had found the money on the pavement outside the store. She didn't hear him so he repeated "I found this on the ground outside". He was shy and polite. He too was with his family. This family did not appear to be as affluent as the first family. Again the Cashier was confused and surprised. She took the money reluctantly, as if she couldn't understand why the boy had not kept it.

I grinned and said something about him being a good samaritan. He nodded shyly and hurried back to his Grandparent's car. It was as if he didn't want any attention or praise for doing a good deed.

As I walked to my car I was was reflecting over both incidents. On one hand, there was a young girl, who was clearly pampered and doted on... she wanted for and appreciated nothing. She behaved poorly... typical of what you might refer to as a spoiled brat. I wondered if she would even "miss" a five dollar bill. My guess is probably not. On the other hand, there is a young man... from a seemingly poor family. But he was polite and honest. He found some money, money that he could possibly use Yet as it wasn't his, he did the honorable thing and turned it in.

I drove off feeling rather sad- sad that there is such a rude and angry young girl who doesn't appreciate how good she has it. I also felt sad that anyone would be surprised that someone would turn in money, when they clearly needed it. Yet I also felt inspired and blessed to have witnessed all of this. For despite the world's problems... there is still so much good. And that is worth everything. In this time of so much negativity... finding something positive is like finding treasure!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lilac Memories

Wow!!! Two blogs in one day! My "muses of inspiration" are clearly busy and quite inspired.

When we got home from work today, after walking and feeding the dogs, I started to get ready to go visit my Mother. I glanced outside and saw our lilac bush. And then I had an inspiration. I found a pair of scissors and went out and cut a few sprigs. I took them inside and put them into a pretty glass filled with water and left to go visit Mother.

As I was driving, I suddenly was filled with the memory of my Father. One spring day, when we were very young... we came home from school for lunch. I think I was in the 3rd grade and Lilli must have been in the first grade. We had huge lilac bushes in our back yard. I remember him going out and cutting enough springs to make two seemingly large bouquets... one for my teacher and one for Lilli's teacher.

He was very methodical in putting the bouquets together. He soaked paper towels in water and wrapped them around the stems. Then he wrapped them in aluminum foil, and finally he wrapped the stems of the bouquet in newspaper. The bouquets were huge. I can remember the excitement to give them to my teacher. I can remember the pride I felt as we walked the two blocks to school. I remember people looking at them, and commenting on how pretty they were.

Once inside the school, I remember grinning as other teachers oohed and awed over how pretty the bouquets were. And of course I remember my teacher, Mrs. Faga's reaction. She was thrilled, and was profuse in her praise and thanks. I think I must have glowed all afternoon.

So it was with all these thoughts flying through my memory that I walked in to the nursing home. And yes, people looked at my bouquet of lilacs.. they had the same appreciative looks as people all those years ago. And when I entered my Mother's room... she looked at the flowers and smiled nostalgically. "They remind me of home" she said. I smiled and said "I know...... do you remember when Daddy made those bouquets?"

And she smiled and said yes. It was a lovely moment filled with love and shared memories.